Friday, December 9, 2016

Toddler Meals ~ Oven Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

Roasting chicken and potatoes in the oven is a quick-prep dinner option for a toddler which doesn't leave you stuck at the stove, and you will enjoy it too! 

I prefer to use bone-in chicken but I have difficulty finding it. An easy option for me is always boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Organic chicken thighs are significantly cheaper per pound than organic breasts, the dark meat has a higher iron content for your little one, and the meat is juicier and more flavorful.

I marinate the chicken at around lunchtime (or later if I forget!) and then quickly dice the potatoes and prep a vegetable after I'm done with work. My son's plate is above, but I cooked 7 chicken thighs, 4 large sweet potatoes, and 2 acorn squash which fed my husband, my son, and I for two dinners. 

Basic Roasted Chicken Pieces
Bake: 400 degrees for 30 minutes

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup vinegar (red wine or rice works best)
1/4 cup ketchup, or tomato paste if you have leftovers in the fridge
6 garlic cloves or a generous shake of granulated garlic

You can add some additional spices such as thyme or rosemary. 

I also like to add Harissa. Harissa is not hot like cayenne pepper, but it adds a flavorful spice.

Place the chicken in a ziplock bag or a shallow plate and coat in the marinade. Refrigerate until ready to cook. 

**You could use this marinade for skin-on chicken, but I personally prefer just using a little oil, salt, and pepper on the skin as chicken skin gives such a delicious flavor when roasted without adding anything else.

Basic Roasted Potatoes
Bake: 400 degrees for 30 minutes

Peel if your potatoes have a thick skin. Red potatoes don't need to be peeled, sweet or russet potatoes do. Dice approximately 1 potato for each piece of chicken you have, depending on potato size. Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. 

Another option is to place the chicken directly on top of the potatoes for roasting. Omit the oil as the chicken juices will run down and flavor the potatoes. This method creates softer, less crispy potatoes.

My squash of choice this fall has been acorn squash. My son loves it and I prefer it to butternut squash. The only problem is that it requires a longer roasting time and I am always hurrying to get it into the oven. Whereas Brussels sprouts, for example, will roast for 30 minutes the same as the chicken and potatoes.

Basic Roasted Acorn Squash
Bake: 400 degrees for 1 hour

Wash the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and score the inside flesh in a grid pattern. Place a pat of butter, 1-2 tsp in the well of each squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish and roast uncovered. Half way through your cooking time, around the time you want to add the chicken and potatoes to the oven, use a basting brush to spread the melted butter over the exposed flesh of the squash.

A quick option to accompany roasted chicken and potatoes is sauteed spinach. My husband and I buy large containers of organic baby spinach to make weekday salads for lunch. Any leftover spinach can always be cooked.

Basic Spinach Saute

Warm a tablespoon of butter or olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add 2-3 chopped garlic cloves. Allow the garlic to soften for a minute, then add handfuls of baby spinach and a dash of salt. The spinach will wilt down quickly and you can always add more to your pan if you underestimated. Stir it for 4-5 minutes until completely wilted. 

The first time I gave my toddler spinach this way he ate it right up. The second time, he wouldn't touch it. Now, I think I have about a 75% chance he will eat it. Ah...toddler life! 

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