Lately, my 6-year-old has been very into cooking and helping out in the kitchen. I want to encourage her, but I’m usually not too creative with my menus. She has inspired me to find delicious and easy weeknight recipes that I’d like to pass along for anyone looking to expand their menu options during the week. Cooking with kids is more messy, but if you can embrace the chaos, it’s a fun way to connect with your kids. My daughter starts getting chatty about her whole day when she’s putting together dinner by my side. Plus, it gets kids to try more foods if they are involved in making dinner (so they say – still waiting for my son to expand his palate beyond spaghetti and meatballs).
Each of the recipes below uses a staple in my grocery cart: the ubiquitous chicken breast (I usually go for thinly sliced). But each recipe tastes so different that you can make these three menus and not be totally sick of chicken!
Parmesean-Panko Chicken Cutlets (borrowed from therecipecritic.com)
I used to always fry my chicken cutlets which presented a few problems. One, it was really messy. Two, it’s not the healthiest way to prepare chicken. Three, there’s no way to have kids help when oil is spattering all over.
This recipe is baked in the oven, requires no oil, and comes out delicious. It is a new family favorite! My husband and I can cut it up and put it in salad, and my younger set likes to eat with ketchup and a side of veggies. Kids can help prepare the chicken coating and then choose sides. We’ve used multicolored potatoes or carrots, quinoa, broccoli and cauliflower, asparagus… Depending on the side you choose, you can toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and add straight to the pan to cook with the chicken.
¼ c. milk
1 c. of Panko bread crumbs
1 c. of Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
Heat oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs and milk. In another, mix together Panko, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Dredge in egg mixture then coat in Panko mixture and lay on pan. Bake 15 minutes. Flip chicken and cook another 12-15 minutes or until chicken is 165 F.
Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Bowls (borrowed from budgetbytes.com)
This is a great crock pot recipe. Put into the slower cooker in the morning and dinner is ready at night!
1 ½ lbs chicken breasts
16 oz jar salsa
15 oz can black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb frozen corn
1 Tbsp chili powder
½ Tbsp cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
freshly cracked pepper
tortillas or rice
Place chicken breasts in slow cooker. Drain black beans and add along with salsa and corn. Add ¼ cup of water, minced garlic, chili, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks). Give ingredients a brief stir and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. When finished, use a fork to shred the chicken. Serve over rice or on tortillas with shredded cheese.
Chicken Picatta (borrowed from The Dinnertime Survival Cookbook by Debra Ponzek)
So easy and delicious! Pair with quinoa, rice, or noodles and a side of veggies!
Thinly sliced chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup canola oil
1 cup white wine
½ cup chicken stock or broth
juice of ½ lemon
2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into little pieces
2 Tbsp drained capers
Lay chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or small skillet until they are ¼ – ½ inch thick (my kids love this part). Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper then dip in flour lightly to coat, shaking off any excess flour. Heat oil in large skillet and cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked through. Transfer chicken to warm platter and set aside covered to keep warm. Discard any oil still in the pan. Add the wine, chicken stock, and lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Cook for about 5 minutes than reduce heat to medium. Swirl the butter into the sauce then stir in the capers. Spoon sauce over the chicken and serve!