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Make dinner with family simple, easy

Published 12:01am Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No matter how much techonolgy changes, one thing that hasn’t changed — and I hope never changes — is a parent’s desire to put a meal on the family table and have everyone sit down for a minute together. As children grow and get busier and busier this becomes more and more difficult. Few parents are stay-at-home parents anymore, and sometimes family mealtime falls to the wayside first.

But you can do a few things to help make family meal-time an easier goal to attain. The No. 1 thing you can do is pick a weekend every month and cook for your freezer. This is when you can cook a large pot of rice and portion it into freezer bags; mashed potatoes can be made ahead and frozen and, now that it is fall, you can add chili, soups, gumbos to your list. If you are you making meatloaf, make two; cooking hamburger patties, make twice as many. Pretty soon you will be able to put together a meal in no time.

 

These two recipes go together quickly and are perfect served over pasta, add salad and you have a quick and healthy meal. This first recipe is a little different than your standard piccata, because you leave the chicken pieces whole instead of using only flattened breasts.

 

Chicken piccata

1 chicken cut into serving pieces, be sure you split the breast

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup dry white wine

6 tablespoons butter

Juice of one lemon

2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed

2 tablespoons capers

Salt

Pepper

Fresh parsley

 

Wash your chicken pieces, and pat dry. Heat the oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the chicken in batches, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides and cooked through. Set the chicken aside and drain off the oil. Add the wine and stir, scraping up the bottom of the pan and cook until it is reduced by half. Stir in the butter, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and capers. Return the chicken to the skillet. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly coated with sauce and warmed through. Serve over lightly buttered fettucine.

 

This recipe does require marinating the shrimp, but if I want to serve this during the week, I do the first part in the morning and marinate it while I’m at work. After that there’s nothing to it.

 

Easy shrimp fettucine

1 pound large shrimp

1/2 cup butter

3/3 cup olive oil

2 cups, coarsely chopped onions

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup shopped parsley

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup white wine

1/3 cup Italian salad dressing

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules

8 ounces fettucine

 

Peel shrimp, leaving the tail on, devein and butterfly. Place the shrimp down in boiling salted water for 30 seconds, drain on paper towels. Place in a shallow broiling pan. Combine butter and olive oil in a large saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the onion, parsley and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is transparent. Add the water, wine, salad dressing and bouillon granules. Stir until the bouillon has dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Pour this mixture over the shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to broil, uncover the shrimp, and broil 4 inches away from heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve the cooked shrimp and sauce over cooked fettucine.

 

Christina Hall writes a weekly food column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.