Posted in Children, Cooking

Making a Meal out of Nothing

Danielle: So, what do you want to make for dinner?
CeCe: Whatcha got?
Danielle: Chicken and feta, a veritable smorgasbord of choices there for ya <laughter>.
Um, but, yes, I am one of those annoyingly imaginative and versatile people who can take someone’s leftovers or still-frozen food and have dinner on the table and super yummy in just 45 minutes.So, what did I do with these insane options? Make a fabulous dinner in three easy steps.


Summer in her apron, ready to help me cook dinner!

Step 1: Entreé…I had my choice actually of frozen chicken breasts, frozen pork chops, or frozen stew beef. Since I already had a chicken idea in mind, that’s what I picked out. Simple. Tossed the equivalent of two chicken breasts into a baking dish…yes, still completely frozen…poured about 1/4 cup of lemon juice in the bottom, and sprinkled the top with salt and pepper. Actually, one of Danielle’s daughters helped with the salt and pepper. Into a 350 degree over with the timer set for 45 minutes.

Step 2: Veggie Side…here, my choices were very limited. As Danielle had no fresh veggies in the crisper, a salad was out as was any kind of sauteéd, carmelized, fried, etc. veggie. But, as any mom does, she had several bags of frozen veggies. We chose a steam-in-bag medley of green beans, wax beans, and carrots, mainly since her girls would eat them.
Step 3: Carby Side…since Danielle’s girls had already mandated mac and cheese (one of them eats ONLY mac and cheese), she always has a box mix or some Bob Evans mac and cheese.
As the timer goes off for the chicken, I turn off the oven but leave the chicken in. Meanwhile, into the microwave go the frozen steam-in-bag beans. Done. In goes the mac and cheese. Done.
Magic Sauce: While I make the kids plates (which consists of cutting up the chicken and the beans and cooling off the mac and cheese), I put one more bowl in the microwave. A special bowl…just for the grown-ups. Remember that feta Danielle laughingly mentioned? Time for a quick sauce. In the bowl is equal parts of regular cream cheese and feta cheese, liberally sprinkled with basil, oregano, and pepper (no salt because cheese is already loaded with salt). Microwave for one-and-a-half minutes, then stir it all together to blend.
Kids plates: simple baked chicken breast with a hint of lemon juice, green beans, and mac and cheese.
Grown-up plates: Baked Lemon Chicken with Feta Sauce and Kalamata Olives, Haricot Verts, and Pasta with Cheddar Sauce.
And, yes, you can do this too. Here’s what to remember:
  • Make three choices. That’s all it takes. Doesn’t matter what’s frozen or what’s raw.
  • Start cooking the thing that will take the longest. Here’s a quick priority list: frozen meat, raw root veggie or grain (like rice), box mix of something (like rice-a-roni). Well, that’s actually it. Fresh and frozen veggies take just a few minutes in the microwave.
  • For frozen meat, in the oven, add about 15 minutes per pound of frozen meat. In the skillet, remember that your fingers are your best judge, not a timer. Yes, I have just advocated poking your tender finger near a very hot skillet and testing the resiliency and elasticity of your meat–chicken, pork, beef, whatever.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus: for 3 oz of chicken (3 pts), 2T feta sauce (2 pts), 1t sliced olives (1 pt), 1/2 cup or 4 oz Bob Evans mac and cheese (6 pts), and as many green beans as you want = 12 points

Sorry, as happens with making a meal out of nothing, it’s done quickly and on the fly, with no thought to taking pictures at different stages.


If you've had my cooking or heard me sing, you've shared some of the happiest and most memorable moments of my life. But if you've been lucky enough to listen to me sing while I cook, well, then you've seen the real me. And if you've sung and cooked with me, you know what being loved by me is!

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