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The 21st Century Housewife

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We moms love to share. Especially when it comes to feeding our families. April Harris writes a fantastic food blog called The 21st Century Housewife. We "met" during one of my Friday Food linky events and I've been inspired by April prowess in the kitchen. She's sharing some kitchen inspiration.

Hello, it'??s April here from The 21st Century Housewife. I'??m really excited to be doing a guest post here at Momtrends during Food and Cooking month. As a busy mom, one of the nicest things you can do for yourself is a bit of cooking in advance. I have developed a number of recipes that mean you can cook once but end up with two or three meals. You still need to do a bit of light stirring, chopping and heating the second and third nights, but everything will be ready in less than twenty minutes. For me, it can make the difference between being a stressed out exhausted mom and a happy relaxed one because let'??s face it, after a busy day sometimes making dinner is the proverbial last straw.

One of the easiest and most versatile foods for cooking ahead is boneless skinless chicken breast. The light meat is really kid friendly, low fat and good for you. For a family of four for three nights I would use twelve chicken breasts (adjust recipes accordingly depending on your family's size). There are lots of things that can help you with the '??cook once, eat at least twice'? ethos. Ready prepared packaged salad, washed and chopped ready to eat/cook vegetables, ready-made stock and pre-cooked noodles (like the ones marketed by Amoy) are an absolute must for busy moms. Keeping these on hand makes it easy to prepare delicious dinners in a flash.

Dinner Night 1: Chicken Breasts with Roasted Vegetable Couscous

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12 Chicken breasts (four to use tonight, eight to save for other dinners)
Red onion
Green Pepper or zucchini
2 Red Peppers

Directions: Pre-heat the oven to about 350 to 375'??. Meanwhile, chop one red onion, one green pepper or zucchini, and two red peppers in bite size chunks. Place them in a roasting dish and drizzle with about two tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

Place the chicken breasts in another large roasting dish or on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put both the chicken breasts and the vegetables in the oven and cook for about thirty minutes, stirring the vegetables once and also turning the chicken over once or twice to ensure even cooking. When the chicken is fully cooked with no pink remaining remove it from the oven. The vegetables are done when they are softened and just beginning to brown on the edges. Set eight of the chicken breasts aside to cool and cover the remaining four with aluminum foil to keep warm. Make enough instant couscous for four people following the package directions, and mix the roasted vegetables into it. Drizzle a little olive oil over it if it seems a bit dry. (Leftovers of this are great cold as a salad.) Serve each warm chicken breast on a bed of warm roasted vegetable couscous. Be sure to refrigerate the remaining chicken breasts promptly.

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Dinner Night 2: Hot Chicken Club Salad

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Prepared packaged salad for four
4 chicken breasts
A few chopped up strips of bacon or some cubed pancetta
Cherry tomatoes

If your children are not big fans of salad, this is a great time for a finger food dinner, serving ready prepared carrot and celery sticks, raw veggies and a salad dressing dip along with cold or warmed chicken breast strips and hot rolls. For adults and older children, thinly slice four of the chicken breasts. Fry up a few chopped up strips of bacon or some cubed pancetta and when it is nearly cooked just add the chicken to warm it through. Toss with the lettuce, cherry tomatoes and some Ranch or Honey Mustard Dressing. Divide between four bowls, garnish with croutons if desired and serve with some hot crusty rolls.

Dinner Night 3: Chicken Ramen

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4 remaining chicken breasts
Enough ready cooked noodles for four c
Chopped veggies (you can use ready prepared ones from your grocery store or just slice a red onion, a few carrots and some red or green peppers in thin slices)
5-6 cups of ready-made chicken stock and some soy sauce.
For added zing: Add a bit of zing to the adults'?? portions, slice a de-seeded chili into very thin slices and set aside.
Tip: Be sure to wash your hands after touching chilies, and I keep the raw ones as far out of reach of children as possible.

This has an Asian twist. (I always tell children it is chicken noodle soup though as that seems to sound better to them!) Stir-fry the veggies in a large saucepan or deep frying pan with a little oil for two to three minutes. Add the stock and soy sauce, cover and cook for a minute or so. Meanwhile, slice the chicken thinly, then add it along with the pre-cooked noodles and heat through. Tip: I often serve the children'??s portions of this dish first and then add a bit of extra spice for the adults just before serving. After you have served the children'??s portions you can add the chilies for adults, allowing them to heat through before serving. (The children'??s portions probably need to cool down a bit anyway.) If you like the flavor, it is nice to garnish the adults'?? portions with some fresh chopped cilantro too.

And that is all there is to it - three delicious, nutritious, quick and easy dinners with only one night of serious cooking!

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