How to fall in love with one pot meals in forty easy steps:
1. Feel ambitious and put a chicken on to roast.
2. Nurse toddler.
3. Flip and baste chicken.
4. Nurse toddler more.
5. Flip and baste chicken again while reassuring the toddler she is not abandoned and unloved.
6. Nurse toddler more.
7. Take chicken out of the oven to rest.
8. Greet sleepy/fussy/groggy/clingy preschooler as she wakes up screaming from her nap. Because YAY!!! she actually took a nap.
9. Start chopping potatoes.
10. Realize I have not seen toddler in 1.53 seconds. Go find baby, take a deep breath and pull out our third and final roll of toilet paper out of the toilet.
11. Realize have not seen preschooler in 3.1 seconds. Take marker out of preschooler’s hand, look at the newly decorated section of wall in frustration. Say something angrily. Regret the something said and the tone. Snuggle and apologize.
12. Chop potatoes and feel guilty.
13. Greet confused five year old who woke up from his nap- because he actually took one! YAY! Give him a hug.
14. Realize I have not seen toddler for the length of time I spent greeting and hugging my son.
15. Oh look! We did have another roll of toilet paper. Fish it out. Wash hands.
16. Puts potatoes in the pot to boil.
17. Greets husband with excitement not contained by the fact that there is a second person in our house who doesn’t color on the walls.
18. Take a breather.
19. …THE CHICKEN IS STILL OUT.
20. Put chicken in the oven to re-heat.
21. Asks husband if he has seen the toddler? Nope, he is busy being the peace maker between a hangry 3 and 5 year old.
22. Goes to fetch a diaper out of the toilet.
23. Oh the potatoes!!! They are probably overcooked! Dumps potatoes. Umm… ok they probably could have used a minute or two more. Probably why I should have checked them instead of assuming I let them overcook… again.
24. Did I turn the oven on to reheat stuff?
25. Cooks bacon so I can have a dairy free fat for making the potatoes. Add bacon, not rendered because everyone is getting impatient, some leftover lamb tallow from making lamb burgers and the chicken stock.
26. Where is the preschooler?
27. Cleans up the water spilled all over the floor.
28. Where is the toddler?
29. Fetches wash cloth out of the bathroom. Puts childproof lock on the door.
30. Unlock childproof lock for a preschooler doing the potty dance.
31. Finds cooked broccoli in the back of the fridge. Still good! Great, that will save a step. Sticks it in the oven with the chicken.
32. Starts feeding toddlers cold leftovers. Everyone sighs with relief that the toddler is being fed.
33. Mashes potatoes to the best of my ability when they are not as soft as they should be.
34. Lets preschooler mash potatoes more.
35. Takes everything out of the oven, goes to set it at the table and realize I forgot to clear the table.
36. Ask Mark to clear the table.
37. Realizes I forgot to make a gravy and contemplates making it for 3.8 seconds enough for each of the kids to take 3 turns yelling hangry yells.
38. Directs family in setting table.
39. Sit down as a family and enjoy the efforts of a 2.5 hour dinner-a-thon—warm-ish chicken, hot lumpy potatoes sans gravy, and stone cold broccoli.
40. Realize why I like one pot meals.
Which brings me to this: One pot quinoa.
I have never really thought of one pot meals as my kind of thing. Searching Pinterest for them recently confirmed that for me. Everything seemed to rely strongly on processed foods (i.e. casseroles), tons of dairy (which my daughter can not have), or are soups (which my husband does not care for). The occasional ones where this was not the case often seem lacking in nutrition, or take forever to make.
So, I have been working to figure out ones that worked for us, and beauty aside, this has been one of the best. It has a good amount of vegetables, quinoa which is cooked in broth for added nutrition and flavor, and not only is everything hot and ready at once there are hardly any dishes dirtied. Oh, and it takes 30 minutes to make!!!!
A little bit of natural ham (a rare treat for us!) makes this dish that much easier and tastier. Mark, who is NOT a quinoa fan, actually enjoyed this. For someone who has never complimented a quinoa dish beyond “not bad for quinoa” that is pretty good. I think I might have to buy a full ham next time we are in the city to freeze into portions for this quick, easy, and low dishes meal.
- 2 cups quinoa
- 1 lb carrots cut into ¼" pieces
- 2-3 tablespoons heat stable oil/fat
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (I recommend homemade)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 2-3 loose cups of baby spinach (~3 oz)
- ½ lb uncured natural ham
- Rinse the quinoa in hot water for several minutes, until the water runs clear. I have never actually been able to tell when the water is cloudy vs. clear so I just air on the side of caution and rinse it for a while.
- Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of heat stable fat/oil. Add the carrots and quinoa. Stir and cook for about 7 minutes, until the quinoa starts to really smell toasty. Add the garlic about 5-6 minutes in (once the quinoa is nearly done) and more oil if it sticks.
- Add the chicken stock and salt, cover and turn the heat up to high. Once it boils turn down to keep a steady simmer. Simmer covered for 15-18 minutes, stirring every so often, until the stock is absorbed and quinoa is cooked.
- While the quinoa is cooking halve the cherry tomatoes, cut the ham into small pieces, and stem and chop the spinach Stir vegetables into the cooked quinoa. Serve right away warm, or even cold (how we eat the leftovers).
Do you like one dish meals? What are your favorite ones?