There is something to be said for making a fresh, home cooked meal night after night after night. For those who can do it, I salute you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been a silent stalker on BlueApron.com, evaluating the cost to benefit ratio, just so I won’t have to nuke some meatballs (again) or order delivery (again). I’ve worked hard to acquire some reliable recipes not only keep myself culinarily entertained but also to ease my existential wifey guilt. Personally, I am happy with my life decision to juggle 100 different things. I also realize my life decision places some limitation on my ability to cook inspired and home cooked meals seven days a week.
Thinking back to my childhood, I realize now how my mother had us all fooled. My fourth-grade impression of her was this all-doing, all-knowing Jewish mother who could sew anything, cook anything, and do anything. I remember her dancing to Niel Diamond while making dinner; wearing a royal blue house robe and fuzzy slippers. (Side note: this version of her is most likely my actual spirit animal.) The truth is, we ate a lot of meals on TV trays. A lot of freezer meals on TV trays. And always in front of the TV.
I’m sure this went against all modern-day recommendations for excellent parenting but some of my happiest memories are of watching The Wonderful World of Disney and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with my chaotic family of six. We ate Schwan’s and drank off-brand Orange Crush.
We also played whiffle ball in the street until the sunset and sometimes my sister and I would tie a jump rope to the banana seat on her bike. Then I’d hold on for dear life in a pair of skates as we fly down Hinsdale Place.
It’s funny that I had no idea that these would become my happiest childhood memories. These memories also include chasing my brother around the house with a spoon full of peanut butter of which he was strongly repulsed by. Oh and the time the same brother lit my bed on fire with a bottle rocket. How we convinced our mom that the dryer burned holes in my bedspread after we decided to “help her out” by giving all our linens a wash … it just might have been the greatest kid con job of all time, but I digress.
My kids are young enough now that their fondest memories are but a future destination. I still love watching television during dinner. It’s not that I don’t care about how my husband’s day was or what my daughter did at school; it’s just sometimes so nice to put aside the minutiae and have a great laugh together. To get outside of our fairly redundant day-to-day and escape to another place and time. Presently, that place and time exist in a Pixar universe but I am hardly complaining.
I don’t know a single family in my immediate life that isn’t scrambling to bring the family together at mealtime. Someone always has a late day at work or a swim lesson or someone *ahem baby* decides to take a late nap or crap himself. Other mamas, like myself, are working on food and mommy blogs instead of doing other obligatory mommy things. Needless to say, I love a great meal that is easy, healthy, and delicious. Also, one that can appease a four-year-old as much as a 38-year old.
That same 38-year old has corrected me often when it comes to making perfectly juicy chicken breasts on the stove and in a pan. And dammit all, he’s absolutely right. I’ve found that the majority of quick meal recipes instruct to cook the chicken over a medium-high heat. This almost always dries the chicken out. Chicken breast is extremely lean and has a tendency to be drier than cooked dark meat. Turning that heat down low may result in a slightly longer cooking time, but when you’re right between “I’ve got all day” and “I’ve only got an hour” it won’t make the process any more laborious.
Another tip is to start the potatoes first. The perfect time to start the chicken is once they are in an oven already heated to temp. This way everything comes out together and you look like a boss. I made a quick lemon sauce in the same pan as the chicken, but you can season however you like. The lemon sauce recipe is included in the printable card below.
If you’ve got some time and you’re curious, read this post from TheKitchn.com. It is an excellent step-by-step for making moist & tender chicken on the stove.
How do you make your meals memorable? It certainly isn’t just about the food. I’d love to hear about your mealtime traditions in the comment section below!
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, divided into four servings
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 tsp Better Than Bullion Organic Chicken Base
- 1 cup water
- 1-3 tsp cornstartch mixed with cold water
- Fresh or dried parsley for garnish
- 1 pound yellow gold potatoes
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- Salt & pepper (or favorite seasoning blend)
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450° F.
- Thoroughly wash and dry the potatoes (being sure they are very dry before proceeding). Cut the potatoes into quarters and toss with 2 Tbs olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet. You can start roasting the potatoes while the oven is preheating to save on energy and time.
- Roast for 25-35 minutes, turning every 10-15 minutes until browned on all sides.
- Heat the olive oil over medium in a medium sized skillet. While the oil heats, sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Test that the pan is ready by dripping a few drops of water into the pan. When it is ready, the water will sizzle. When ready, add the chicken and cook 7 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to another dish and keep warm.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. Combine the lemon juice, bullion base, and water in the same pan. Add in about 1/3 of the corn starch/water mix. Stir until well combined, scrapping off the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Add small amounts of the cornstarch/water mix if the sauce is not thickening as much as you'd like. When ready the sauce will be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and reduced to about half.
- Return the chicken back to the pan, turning over in the sauce to coat both sides. Cover with a lid (a cookie sheet works as a lid if you don't have one) and simmer on medium-low for 5-7 minutes until done.
- Check for doneness by cutting into the thickest part of the breast. Chicken is cooked when no pink remains and the juices run clear. Serve with a side of roasted potatoes, garnished with fresh or dried parsley.