Even though I enjoy cooking, getting dinner on the table every night is a chore I often dread. At the end of the day we’re all tired, the kids are cranky and I need to get them something to eat as quickly as I can to avoid a total melt-down. I want dinner to be healthy, of course, but more importantly I want everyone to eat it without complaining. It’s a tall order!
Luckily, I have a few dinners in my repertoire that make everyone in our house happy. They’re not fancy, but they’re fast, satisfying and my kids eat them right up. I’ll be sharing a few of these meals with you over the next few months.
First up: BBQ Chicken, Mashed Yams and Peas
Cook time: 37 minutes from the time I opened the refrigerator door to pull out ingredients to when I called my family to the table. (I timed it!)
- Thin-sliced chicken breasts or chicken tenders
- Barbecue sauce
- 3 large garnet yams
- Frozen peas
Start off by washing the yams, then poke them each a few times with a knife. Put them on a plate and microwave them for around 15 minutes, turning them over every 5 or 6 minutes during the cook time. Because microwaves and the size of yams vary widely, this time is approximate. You’re going to want to cook them until they offer no resistance when you poke them with a fork. The yams take the longest time to cook so be sure to start them first.
Once the yams are cooking, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour in a little oil — about a tablespoon — and add the chicken to the pan. Cook the chicken undisturbed for about 4 minutes. You’ll find you have no cooking related tasks for these few minutes, so use the time to empty the dishwasher, help with homework or referee a brotherly argument. Once the chicken has started to brown, flip it and cook it through on the other side.
When the yams are fully cooked, remove them from the microwave and cut them in half length-wise to allow them to cool off a bit. Careful! They’ll be really hot.
Now cook the peas in the microwave according to the package directions.
At this point, the chicken will probably be pretty close to done, so turn the heat to low and pour some of the barbecue sauce over it. Again, you can just wing it. I like to use enough so that the chicken is fully-coated with sauce and there’s a little extra in the pan. Simmer the chicken in the sauce for a few minutes while you finish the potatoes.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the skins, put it in a bowl, and mash it up with a spoon. The potatoes should be soft enough that you won’t need a masher or a whisk or anything like that. You can stir in a little knob of butter as you’re mixing the potatoes if you like, but I don’t think it’s necessary because they’re so yummy on their own.
Serve the chicken, potatoes and peas, passing extra barbecue sauce at the table.
Serves 2 adults and 2 or 3 kids.
Wendy Copley writes about cooking, crafts, parenting and her obsession with lunch boxes at Wendolonia.