Even though I’m on maternity leave, I still find the week a lot easier if I can get some meal prep done on Sundays.
The theme for pretty much everything I cook is simplicity. I like easy recipes.
Here are some of my favourites:
Roasted Veggie Dip
This past Sunday we had a pile of veggies in the fridge that had been sitting there for quite some time. I remembered a neighbour told me she roasts a bunch of veggies and blends them with cream cheese into a delicious dip that both her boys love (great way to sneak in veggies!). So I decided to give it a try and it was amazing! I don’t eat dairy so I was kicking myself pretty hard for not making some without the cream cheese because this mixture is seriously delicious. My 9-month-old was eating it by the spoonful and he never eats mushy food anymore!
- 5-6 beets (I had a mixture of red and yellow on hand)
- 2 zucchinis
- 5 medium carrots
- 2 red peppers
- 1 clove of garlic (you can use more but I didn’t want it to be over powering)
- 3/4 block of cream cheese
Roast the veggies until soft (I did each in their own trays according to their needs – beets and carrots took 40-50 minutes in a 400 degree oven, I did the zucchini and garlic together for about 20-25 mins, and the peppers at 500 until their skin blackened).
Place red peppers in a brown bag until cool enough to handle, then peel off the skin.
Put all the veggies in a food processor with the cream cheese and blend.
You can obviously adjust to what you have on hand. My neighbour added onions as well which would be tasty.
I made enough to freeze two containers and keep a third in the fridge for this week.
Super-easy roast chicken
Trust me, you’ll want a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bird because the juiciness of this chicken is unbelievable! This became one of my go-to meals when I was working because I could roast the chicken the night before we were going to eat it and all my husband had to do was pop it back in the oven to warm up before they ate. Then we would have chicken to last us a few days and I could make a soup with the bones.
I promise you juicy chicken and crispy skin but not necessarily big taste. The last time I made this I decided I need to come up with some sort of yummy sauce to go on the side.
- Whole chicken
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Take chicken out of its packaging and place in a roasting pan (I’ve read you shouldn’t wash a whole chicken anymore because you could spread bacteria but do what you are comfortable with).
Season with salt and pepper.
Put chicken in the oven for one hour and check the temperature of both the breast and thigh (according to Health Canada’s chart the safe temperature is 180 degrees)
Easy Peasy Chicken Soup
When I roast a whole chicken I find it really easy to toss the bones and some carrots, celery and onions into a big pot filled with water and let it boil away. Instant chicken soup broth (well… three hours later if you really like to boil it down like I do)!
However, when I don’t have chicken pre-cooked I make the broth with the raw chicken.
I use the celery ends and bits of carrot plus some onion and the whole raw chicken and essentially let it boil away while I cut everything else up for lunches and snacks! Easy peasy.
- Whole raw chicken
- Carrots, roughly chopped
- Celery (the ends and tips will do during the initial stage), roughly chopped
- Onion, roughly chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 fresh sage leaves chopped (if you have them on hand)
- fresh green beans
- corn on the cob
- any other veggies you want to include
Put the chicken in a large soup pot and cover with water.
Add celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves and sage leaves.
Bring to a boil then lower temperature to a simmer.
Simmer at least 1.5-2 hours then remove chicken. This can be tricky because the bones want to fall out at this point, everything is so well cooked and tender.
Strain broth and either toss cooked veggies in the compost or chop more finely to put them back in the soup later (I just realized you could just strain the soup with the chicken still in it and it would make the whole thing a lot easier!).
Boil broth down for another hour or so (sometimes I boil for another 2-3 hours if I am busy in the kitchen but I’ve been known to have more of a stew when I’m done than a soup. This past weekend I only boiled everything for a total of 2.5 hours from the start and my soup was a bit weak).
Option: remove meat from bones and toss the bones back in the pot while you boil down the broth (you will have to strain the broth again but I like to think this adds more flavour to the soup)
While the broth is boiling down shred chicken and chop any other veggies you want in the soup.
Add any uncooked veggies at the proper time to cook them to your liking (example: I add chopped green beans just in the last few minutes, but add sweet potato about 30 mins before I want to eat).
Cut corn kernels from the cob and add to soup (trust me – it’s totally worth using fresh corn if you can. It makes the soup!)
Cook pasta and store separately from soup, adding only when you’re ready to eat (this avoids the noodles continuing to take on liquid and becoming too soft).
The great thing with this soup is that once you’ve made the broth you can add anything you want to it! It is another great way to clear out the fridge on a Sunday afternoon. I have used barley instead of noodles, and tossed in fresh peas when I needed to use them up.
My daughter has always loved it (even when it comes out more like stew) and my son is happy to have all the chunky bits put on his plate so he can feed himself.
I love it because it’s easy to bring to work for lunch or pour into a mug if I’m at home. Plus, it’s a great way to help everyone feel better when they are fighting the back-to-school colds!
Excuse the poor video quality, but watch below for proof my children can’t get enough of this! (I’ll try to find the original file) I think it helps that they get to splash their hands in the broth.