I'm busy this week so finding ways to get "fast food" on the table without driving-through, taking-out, or eating-out has been paramount. Thankfully, I can call on an arsenal of recipes, an understanding of how flavors go together, and a history of both eating and creating good food.
As I made dinner, I was texting the steps to Ben, my son living in Tacoma, who is always looking for great, fast, tasty food, who said, "Wow that is pretty easy."
Here's a step-by-step of how a busy parent can make it all happen on a weeknight ... When you walk in the door, you put on a pot of water for the pasta. Then you run to your room ... all the while calling out to the kids to get to the table to start homework ... or flip on a TV show to give them a little break that they'll probably welcome between their own busy day and dinner. You change into sweats and a t-shirt, pull your hair up in a pony tail holder or stick it under a ball cap (assuming you are female or have long hair).
Back in the kitchen, you slice half an onion, and start sauteeing it while you slice five or six mini peppers (or one large bell pepper ... whatever color is the least expensive!). Throw those peppers in with the onion and saute them till they are gorgeously golden. If you have a child that is old enough to wield a knife, ask them to do some slicing while you are changing clothes. Then they can get on their homework while you take over.)
While the onions are becoming that golden color, cut chicken breasts in half horizontally, or pound them thin. Season them with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.
Remove the onions and peppers from the pan, add a little more olive oil, and put the chicken breasts in. Cook on one side about 5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness.
The pasta water is likely boiling by now so throw the pasta in.
Turn the chicken over and cook the same amount of time. Return the onions and peppers to the pan. Heat a little cream in the microwave, reduce the heat in the chicken pan, and add the cream. Drain the pasta. (If you don't want to use cream, use lemon juice or white wine instead.)
By now, the TV show is done, homework is well underway and you can all sit down at the table for at least 20-30 minutes, hopefully longer.
Serve with pasta and something green ... like broccoli, green peas, green beans, or slightly wilted spinach, like I did.
Dinner is over. Your hearts are full of family fellowhsip. And you wish time would stand still. All of that ... from the time you came in the door until dinner was consumed and you all culminated your day over dinner ... took maybe an hour, right? Perhaps a little more. And you think to yourself, "What a wonderful world".
But life must go on ... You all take your dishes to the sink/dishwasher and finish up the evening chores and homework ... and then on to bedtime routines. "Good night, my angel, it's time to dream. ... and in your heart, there'll always be a part of me." (Billy Joel)
I hope that you have at least that amount of time to spend with your family each day. If not, will you please consider changing something so that you have daily refueling time? Not just for your stomach's sake, but also for your heart's.
Put this recipe in your arsenal of quick weeknight dinners, my friends, and treat your family to REAL fast food!