Weeknight cooking can be hard!
You forgot to take something out of the freezer, the fridge is empty, and you only have an hour to get something on the table. This is just a few of the hurtles busy families face daily in the quest to enjoy a family meal together. Skillet Chicken and Orzo is a great weeknight meal that’s easy to prepare, dirties only one pot and can be on the table in about an hour. It’s also super delicious with minimal effort.
Tips to easier weeknight meals
1. Make a meal plan for the week which can be as simple as writing down what meals you intend to prepare. Have fun with it by including the family in your choices. Including others helps to identify preferences and dishes that everyone likes.
2. Make only one trip to the grocery store by purchasing the ingredients needed for each meal in advance.
3. Take items out of the freezer to have completely thawed and ready for use.
4. Make simple dishes that can be on the table within an hour or so.
5. Make dishes that other family members can help with such as washing and chopping vegetables.
6. Make only one meal that everyone can/will eat. So if you have a dish that everyone loves except the “onion” hater, then make the dish without onions and therefore suitable for everyone.
7. Don’t be afraid to settle for something as simple as eggs on toast for supper. Eggs are very nutritious and quick to prepare. Make them a great meal by simply sauteeing up a few greens, sausage and/or vegetables. Top with olives, cheese, breadcrumbs, or chives for a great weeknight meal.
8. If you gotta give your 5-year-old a “grilled cheese night” in exchange for eating other meals later in the week, then everyone eats grilled cheese, making it about balance and compromise. Besides, who doesn’t like grilled cheese!!
9. Stick mostly to recipes/dishes you are comfortable and familiar with making during your busiest days. No one wants to fumble around with a new recipe when time is tight.
10. Make extra when you can and freeze for use later, either as a leftover lunch or a meal for someone who gets home late.
The key to Skillet Chicken and Orzo is to give the chicken and mushrooms a good sear. The mushrooms need a very hot pan and should not be overcrowded. Resist the urge to stir them and you will hear them “squeak”. That is a sign that they are becoming golden on the bottom and starting to release some of their liquid. The chicken also benefits from a good sear that helps to render the fat and crisp up the skin. Taking the time to brown both ingredients lends to a more flavourful dish that you’ll want to make again and again. Enjoy!
Want more great weeknight options? Here are a few of my favourites.
Mushroom and Arugula Quinoa Bowls
Author: Compelled to Cook
- 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil divided
- 6 medium chicken thighs
- 1 8 ounce pkg white mushrooms cleaned and thickly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium shallot thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 6 ounces orzo pasta
- 4 ounces garden vegetable cream cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350℉
- Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. When the oil is hot add chicken thighs and cook about 5-6 minutes per side until skin browned. Remove to a plate.
- Using the same skillet, heat the remaining oil until hot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and allow to cook without stirring until bottoms are golden and moisture is starting to evaporate. Once they have browned give them a stir and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes until starting to soften, stirring occasionally.
- Add wine and allow to reduce for about 3 minutes. Stir in broth, orzo, cream cheese, herbs, salt and pepper. Once the cream cheese is fully incorporated add the chicken back to the pan with the skin side up. Push chicken down into pasta as far as they will go. Cover with a lid or tin foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and turn oven to broil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and broil for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 2 minutes prior to serving.
I personally like the garden vegetable cream cheese, however you may also like the garlic cream cheese.