Wednesday, February 8, 2012

All The Prep Work

I am always in search of new recipes that fit my criteria for healthy.  I've found quite a few, but they all have one thing in common: they take a while to prepare. Now, some of them take longer that others, but for the most part, I've noticed it takes about an hour start to finish to make one of these meals.  The biggest reason for this is that the food needs to be prepared before it's put together in the recipe.  This is what happens when you reduce the amount of convenience food you eat! LOL  So, fruits and vegetables need to be washed and properly chopped,  meat needs to be rinsed and trimmed, etc.  I am not used to this!! 

I am the kind of gal that decides what to make for dinner about 5 minutes before it's actually time to make dinner.  Granted, I may have done some meal planning when I went grocery shopping, but I still reserve the right to make whichever meal I have the energy for when the time arrives.  I was discussing this with a friend and she pointed out a truth.  All of the easy to prepare meals are used up first and at the end of the week, your only options are all the complicated meals.  :)  That is exactly how it goes for me.  However, this just doesn't work with my new plans for healthy eating, so I have to buckle down and make some changes.

The biggest thing I have to overcome is waiting until the last minute to think about dinner plans.  I don't want to not have enough time to make the meal or not have all the ingredients I need or even have to skip a meal because I didn't throw stuff in the Crock Pot earlier in the day.  So now I start my day with a general idea of what each meal will be.  I also check my schedule to see if we have anything planned that night.  If so, do I need to prepare the meal during the day so we can simply re-heat it or do I just need to start preparing it earlier?  Maybe it's a good day for a Crock Pot meal and I need to get it started in the morning.  Once that is determined, I do a double check of my on-hand ingredients.  It is not uncommon for me to buy something on a grocery trip with the intent it will be used for a specific meal and then have my husband or kids eat it before I make the dish.  Finally, I see what I can do before it's dinner time.  Can I chop the veggies, measure them, and put them in Ziploc bags? Can I make the bread product? Can I measure and mix the different spices as needed?  This way, my actual meal prep time is cut down significantly. 

Doing this truly has helped me stay on my meal plan for this week.  It's been worth it, too, because these recipes I've found have been very delicious!!  Now I'd like to share a meal with you that a friend served to me when I visited her home.  Her marinade was so delicious that I had to ask her for the recipe.  And the prep and cooking is almost painless. :)  Now remember, this goes along with my theme of beginning dinner prep before dinner, so you'll need to make the marinade earlier in the day.  Thanks, Lori!


Juice of 2 lemons (about 4 tbsp, so 1 juicy large lemon might do it)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
1 small onion, chopped small
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
3-4 minced garlic cloves

Other Ingredients:

1-2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 red bell peppers
2 yellow or orange bell peppers
1 large sweet onion
8-10 cherry tomatoes
white rice (I prefer regular vs. instant)
chicken broth

Cut chicken breasts into large cubes and place in bowl.  Pour marinade over chicken and place bowl in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Cut peppers and onion into large pieces.  Reserve approx. 1/6 of the onion.  Place the pieces of peppers, onions, tomatoes and chicken onto skewers.  Be sure none of the chicken pieces are touching.  Brush any remaining marinade over vegetable pieces.  Cook the skewers either in the over at 400 degrees or on the grill until the chicken in done throughout.  (Take note: The chicken will have a red tinge to the outside even when fully cooked because of the red wine in the marinade.  Do not mistake this for under-cooked chicken. Check the inside of a piece of chicken to determine if it's done.)

While skewers are being cooked, prepare rice.  Follow directions on the package to prepare the rice.  The only modifications are to use the chicken broth instead of water and to chop the reserved onion and add it to the broth while it is coming to a boil.  These two things will add a ton of flavor to the rice.

Serve the veggies and chicken over the rice with a side of fruit or a small salad.  Delicious!!

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