Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Quick Fix

As parents, most of us recognize the value of the whole family sitting down to the evening meal together.  We've all seen the PSA ads about how studies show that when families eat dinner together at least three nights a week the kids are less likely to use drugs or alcohol and more likely to do well in school.  It also helps save a lot of money for the family.  Eating out, even at a fast-food place, can be very expensive.  It's also better nutritionally.  

Well, I don't know about you or your family but for me, even three times a week can be difficult sometimes.  I know that as my boys get older and bigger it is even more important to have family togetherness times.  First of all, because as teenagers they are subjected to more peer pressure and more temptations of the worst kinds that can have devastating effects.  But secondly, because the time when they won't be around on a regular basis is getting nearer every day (sit down and stop cheering Addison, it's not necessarily a good thing!). As our boys have gotten older it has become way too easy to just let them "forage" for their own meals when neither one of us feels like cooking for all of us.  But at least a few times a week I pull something out of the freezer, fridge, pantry, and my ass  imagination and cook for all of us.

This is one of my go-to favorites that is outrageously simple and everyone eats.  The history of this dish starts with the best warm dip ever invented.  I think my mom got this from the Kraft parmesian cheese label.  It is a warm artichoke dip that goes like this:

1 cup Kraft mayo
1 cup Kraft parmesian cheese
1 can of artichoke hearts (if you can find the ones that are already quartered you're ahead of the game)

Dump all ingredients into a pie pan.  Use a fork to roughly chop up and mash the artichoke hearts.  Use the same fork to mix everything together.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.  Serve with crackers. 

I love, love, love this stuff so much I decided to try a slightly different form with chicken.  The resulting recipe is now officially known as....

Mayonnaise Chicken

For this you will need:

4-6 portions of chicken (I but the Purdue Perfect Portions but anything will do)
1 1/2--2 cups Kraft mayo
1 packet of dried seasoning mix.  This is where you can vary the taste...any dip mix, seasoning mix will do.  I have used Knorr vegetable soup, Mrs. Grass, Hidden Valley Ranch, Lipton Recipe Secrets...
1/2-1 cup Kraft parmesian

**NOTE**  The measurements for the mayo and parmesian are aproximate.  If you are making 4 portions you can use the smaller measurement (or not, this stuff is yummy).

Preheat oven to 350 ish.  I say "ish" because it will do just fine at 375 if you want to make Pillsbury or some other dinner rolls at the same time.

Place the chicken in a baking dish in a single layer
Mix all the other ingredients together
Spoon the mixture over the chicken and around the sides to sort of seal it in
Bake for 30 minutes

That's it.  I like to serve it with white rice that has been cooked in chicken broth instead of water and a veggie (usually brocolli as it's the only veggie everyone will eat).

Prep time is maybe 5 minutes.

Give it a try next time you want to bring them all to the table but don't know what to make.  Let me know how it goes.

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