I was possessed by the cooking demon the other day and it was fabulous! A grey, dreary Sunday alleviated any grandiose plans I had to spend the day outside so I rolled up my sleeves and dug into a full fridge (finally!).

When preparing for the week ahead, I find the key is to prep the proteins as much as possible. Once the protein for a meal is taken care of, the rest is just filler. And when you add in an all-vege meal or two during the week, there’s even less you have to think about!

Because I had the time (and inclination), I marinated some chicken breasts in lemon juice, olive oil and a smashed garlic clove then grilled them up using my grill pan. I wasn’t really in the mood to fire up the barbeque for a couple of lousy chicken breasts.

Then I threw together a huge batch of meatballs and made marinara sauce from two huge cans of Italian tomatoes (Did you know 13 pounds of tomatoes only yields a mere 4 1/2 quarts of sauce – where’s the justice?!).

Halfway through my cooking marathon, I realized another bonus of spending the time at the stove besides food. During the 3 hours I had my head buried in garlic, spices, tomatoes, etc. my husband was watching the kid. It was a fair trade. After all, I was ensuring home-cooked, hot meals for him during the week and since I was doing something for the family, I didn’t feel guilty about not interacting with the kid. She was perfectly happy crawling around the floor, checking in with me sometimes but mostly playing with her dad. And I was able to do something I really enjoyed that in the end would also make my life easier (unlike watching bad TV).

I suppose if I didn’t enjoy cooking; if it didn’t relax me and make me feel like I accomplished something then I wouldn’t relish those moments puttering around in my kitchen. But I really enjoyed being able to tune-out from the kid, put my head down and do some real work on my stove for a few hours. And we all really enjoyed the eating part of it!

Chicken Salad with Craisins and Pine Nuts

There’s a lot in this salad but it still has a great clean taste to it.

Grilled chicken breasts
Red leaf or green leaf lettuce (I prefer the softer lettuces for this one, as opposed to crunchy romaine)
Cucumber
Radishes
Red onion
Dried cranberries (they plump up with the dressing. So good!)
Toasted pine nuts
Shaved Manchego cheese
Garlic-Dijon vinaigrette
(I always make my own salad dressing. It tastes so much better than the store-bought crap. For this one, crush a garlic clove and pop it into a bowl with some Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar. Whisk in some extra-virgin olive oil and voila!)

chicken salad dinner

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One thought on “Squeezing “Me” Time Out of “Mom” Time

  1. love this post! i totally agree – the kitchen has become a haven for me. and as the kid gets older, you can always plop her down with you to “help.” mine loves to pour water from one measuring cup into another, and then back again. she will do this for ridiculously long stretches of time! also want to add, as someone who has eaten your amazingly moist, delicious meatballs, i think it would be a crime if you did not publish a meatball recipe too 🙂

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