The past few weeks have been incredibly busy – traveling, family and friends visiting, new projects coming up, and interesting opportunities presenting themselves. With so much to do, I’ve been trying to prioritize my activities to be able to fit everything into my day. Of course, since I believe in quality homemade food, I try my best to cook something nutritious at least a few times a week, and spare twenty minutes a day for chopping up fresh veggies for a salad.
Sometimes, I’ll have a certain recipe in mind (like stuffed artichoke hearts, for example), but won’t have the time to implement it for weeks at a time. This makes me a little sad, because I currently don’t have children nor do I have the pressures of a full time job, and it’s still difficult to have an ideal schedule. But, I have confidence in the fact that “practice makes perfect,” so hopefully the day will come when I can optimize my schedule to fit my goals and interests comfortably and still have time to spare.
One of the things that has helped me cook meals at home in a shorter amount of time is thinking of the meals ahead of time. Planning certain meals, especially when we have people staying with us from out of town, saves a lot of time because it allows me to also plan the grocery list in advance, soak the beans, marinate the chicken, slice the cheese – whatever menial tasks I can get out of the way can help speed the cooking process by a few minutes (and it all adds up!). But, planning is not always foolproof. Sometimes, you plan to make a meal in advance, and you even prepare all the ingredients for it, but something comes up and you have less time than than you think to finish all the dishes you have planned. So, what to do? Well, if you are not serving guests, you can always scramble eggs for dinner, or put together a delicious parfait in three minutes. But, what if you have guests and you need something more substantial? Grill.
Grilling works for almost anything you have in your fridge: fresh and root veggies, meats, seafood, and even fruits. When we had guests a few weeks ago, I was planning to make a fancy chicken bake and sautéed vegetables, but we got home too late to wait for the chicken to bake for 45 minutes. Instead, I decided to grill everything in under 20 minutes (and prepared the salad in that time while everything was cooking).
But, you may be saying, I don’t own a grill. And, I don’t even have a deck or patio. Neither do I. I own a $35 indoor electric grill. I would give anything to have a charcoal grill on my patio, but living in a high-rise makes that kind of impossible right now. So, electric will have to do (though the non-stick cooking surface kinda sucks… okay, really sucks!).
Here’s my recipe for Grilled Garlic-Chicken and Veggies:
- Organic chicken breasts (thighs work too, if you prefer the texture)
- Veggies I used: Red potatoes, shitake mushrooms, Chinese eggplant (but you can use any vegetables you have in your fridge)
- White wine vinegar
- Fresh garlic, 10-12 cloves, crushed
- Italian seasoning
- Salt & Pepper
- Put the chicken pieces and the vegetables in two separate bowls.
- Season the chicken by adding vinegar, ghee, crushed garlic, thyme, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Mix well, cover, and set aside to marinate for a few minutes while you prepare the veggies. (Of course, if you planned this meal in advance, you can prepare this marinade and leave in the fridge for a few hours for the flavors to intensify).
- Prepare the grill by turning it on, greasing it with ghee, and preheating it.
- Season the veggies with all the above ingredients, with the exception of the vinegar.
- Add veggies (different types separately) on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on the vegetable. Potatoes took the longest out of all the vegetables mentioned.
- Once the veggies are cooked, remove from the grill and place in a bowl and cover to preserve the temperature.
- Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 6-7 minutes on each side until cooked all the way through. Shift the chicken midway through cooking time to make pretty criss-cross grill marks on the top and bottom.
- Remove from grill, garnish, and serve hot.
How have you solved the problem of having too little time to make a meal for visiting guests? Do you have any interesting marinades for grilling vegetables or meats, especially on an unglamorous indoor grill?