But who are you kidding? You have a mortgage.
Enter quick and dirty recipes that require very little preparation and few ingredients. Bonus if they're for food your toddler will eat, thus eliminating the extra step of having to heat up chicken nuggets in the toaster oven.
This recipe is adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast From the Kitchen of Martha Stewart Living. It is one of the first dishes I taught myself to make after I was married, and, four years later, it is still my husband's favorite dinner. When he limps in from his run and smells the garlic roasting, it puts a smile on his exhausted face. The best part is this meal requires exactly five ingredients to prepare, not including olive oil, salt, and pepper, which I don't count because I use them in almost everything I cook.
Of course I'm going to get on my soapbox and tell you that yes, the chicken you use matters a great deal in this recipe. With hardly anything to mask the flavor, you have to use the highest quality poultry available. It should be raised locally, without hormones and antibiotics. Bonus points if it's free-range and/or organic. Believe me, I am no vegan, but I do care about the quality of life my chicken enjoyed before it became my supper. The brands I like are Murray's or Bell and Evans, or if you're fortunate enough to live near a Stew Leonard's, Stew's Naked Chicken brand.
This is what the chicken looks like going into the oven:
And this is what it looks like when it comes out:
Serve this dish with lots of crusty whole wheat bread (it's one of the five ingredients!) so you have something on which to spread the roasted garlic cloves, which become soft and buttery while roasting.
Garlic Roasted Chicken with French Beans (Feeds 2 adults and 1 toddler)
1) 1 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast, halved. (If you can't find chicken breast halves, find a whole chicken breast in the poultry case and have the butcher halve it for you. This may sound obvious, but I didn't know you could do this until my husband told me so. I lived a very sheltered existence before I got married.)
2) 2 heads of garlic
3) 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
4) 1/2 lb. French beans
5) 1 whole wheat baguette
Plus olive oil, salt, pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the tops off two garlic heads (reserve the bottoms) and place them cut sides down on the bottom of a square baking dish. Place one sprig of fresh rosemary on each garlic top. Arrange the chicken breast halves over the garlic tops. Sandwich the two reserved garlic bottoms, cut side up, between the chicken breast halves. Place the remaining two rosemary sprigs on top of the chicken. Drizzle the chicken and garlic with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken for a half hour, then turn the garlic bottoms cut side down and rotate the pan. Continue roasting the chicken for another half hour, or until the skin is brown and the juices run clear.
While the chicken is roasting, bathe the children. Clean the bathrooms. Do a load of laundry.
About ten minutes before the chicken is done, trim and cook the French beans.
Did you know that when you trim French beans, you're only supposed to cut off one end, leaving on the stringy, elf-shoe looking end? Well, I didn't, but that's because growing up the beans I ate came out of a can. Thanks, Ina Garten, for teaching me this important lesson.
The way I cook my beans is I fill a shallow frying pan with about a half inch of water and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Then I toss all the beans in the pan and allow them to steam for 3-4 minutes. This method is a bit unorthodox, but I guarantee you will get perfect, crisp-tender beans every time.
Serve the chicken with the whole garlic bottoms, the pan juices, the French beans, the bread, and a sweet, juicy red wine like Rex Goliath Free Range Red. It's got a big rooster on the label; you can't miss it!
Enjoy! Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe and what, if anything, you did to tweak it for your family.