Feeding this circus I run sometimes feels like the hardest job I have. I like to imagine that feeding a family in the past was a simple thing. Like all of the little kids came flocking to the table, thankful to have anything at all to eat. And they clasped their precious little hands and thanked Jesus for their beans and cornbread and helped clear the table when they were done. Like a Norman Rockwell painting. My house at dinnertime looks more like I flung my doors open to the jungle and invited a pack of opinionated monkeys to join me at the table. If I turn my back for a second, the little one squats on the table like she just escaped from Jumanji and doesn't remember what chairs are for.
With everything that goes into putting meals on the table, just deciding what to cook feels overwhelming. So here's a quick list of what the Phelps family is eating this spring. I hope it helps you get one step closer to an easy dinnertime. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Sheet Pan Dinners
Chop up all the veggies that are about to go bad in your crisper, toss them in a big bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread evenly on a sheet pan and roast at 400 for about 35-40 minutes. Some of my favorites to use for this are potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, pattypan squash (zucchini just cooks too quickly). You may want to give your root veggies a head start and then add softer veggies after about 15 minutes since they have different cooking times.
In the last 15 minutes of cooking time, put your favorite sausage on a second cookie sheet on the bottom rack (use parchment paper if you have it to make cleanup easier). When it's heated through, slice the sausages up and serve with veggies. NOTE: Be sure to refer to your fancy gruyere and garlic sausage as hot dogs for the highest chances of success.
You're probably thinking, she lost me there. But this is surprisingly one that even my pickiest eater likes. It has a mild beans and rice flavor and it's a great way for kids to try something new. We serve extra curry at the table so the adults can add more spice. The recipe is cheap, easy, and healthy. The triumvirate of family meal planning. We don't use any of the garnishes in the recipe, but you do you.
BBQ Chicken with Orzo
My favorite quick and easy marinade for chicken is Italian dressing. Marinate it all day and make sure to pat it dry before you BBQ. This orzo side dish is one of my kids all time favorites. I stir in a splash of half and half at the end to give it some extra creaminess. Serve with a salad and veggie sticks. Easy peasy.
This is my potluck claim to fame. Okay, maybe not fame but at least 4 people have asked me for the recipe. It's got enough protein in it to stand alone as a meal and it makes great leftovers. Cook the pasta and rinse it in cool water to stop it from cooking. Then throw everything together in a bowl and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
1 box mini bowtie pasta (or whatever you have in the pantry)
3/4 bottle Newman's Own Caesar dressing (not the creamy kind)
4-5 string cheeses cut into cubes (You could use fresh mozzarella if you're too fancy for Frigo. Bless you.)
Some combination of Veggies:
Diced Red Bell Pepper (fresh or roasted)
Onions (ew, but to each their own)
Salami or leftover BBQ chicken