The job, the hubby, the kids, the juggling–it can all be a lot, especially when, at the end of a long day, you’re deciding what’s for dinner. 

I am the Chicbusymom. I work full-time, am married, have three beautiful children, and I’m also a mommy/lifestyle blogger. Healthy fresh food is important to me and my family, though it isn’t easy and usually makes grocery shopping more expensive. But heck, it’s a commitment and investment in our future. I’m constantly learning about food, and I share what I learn with them. As a result, my children make better food choices without me. (Score!)

To prepare multiple meals a week you requires the 3 P’s: planning, prep and proper kitchen tools. I prefer simple recipes that tolerate my own jzuzgh well…because creating a gourmet-style meal from scratch after getting in from a long day at work is not an option. Nope!

Here, some of my favorite easy-peasy crowd-pleasing recipes that you and your fam will love. But don’t forget, as with everything you do, add a dash of your own flavor to make it your own. Now, let the feastivities begin!

SUNDAY: ROSEMARY & LEMON ROASTED CHICKEN

I got the original recipe from my friend Bridgette and it never disappoints! I make it on Sundays because it requires a little more time than a meal created post-workday.

Start to finish: 80 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1 Whole Organic Chicken
1 Lemon (half cut in quarters and other half sliced)
Rosemary
Garlic cloves
Sea Salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
Parchment paper and roaster pan
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

DIRECTIONS
After cleaning the chicken, pat dry with paper towel and place on cutting board or platter.

Place the chicken breast up and season insides with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with lemon quarters, 1/4 of the onion, 2 garlic cloves and rosemary.

Coat the chicken with olive oil. Season with salt, rosemary, and pepper. Add two lemon slices to the top.

Lay parchment paper in roasting pan. Use enough so that you can almost wrap the chicken all around. Fold the parchment so the chicken nests in the middle leaving top open (see photo).

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce temp to 375 degrees and roast for another 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

MONDAY: MEATBALLS WITH HOMEMADE SAUCE

 Via NY Times 

Shout out to my good friend Kristine who saved me from a lifetime of dry meatballs by telling me I had to have this meat mixture for success. Genius! Make this meal earlier in the week, then fridge or freeze the left overs for use later in the week.

A Chicbusymom.com Tip: Make multiple meals on Saturday or Sunday (when you have a bit more time), freeze them and take out midweek for just-like-that meal planning.

Start to finish: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS
2-2.5 lbs. of pork/veal
Sea salt & pepper
Parsley (about 1 hefty tbsp.)
Minced garlic (to taste)
2 eggs
Grated parmesan cheese (eyeball it, not an exact measurement)
Italian bread crumbs (eyeball it, not an exact measurement)
1 tbsp. olive oil

For Sauce:
2 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese
Garlic powder
3 Garlic cloves sliced
Salt & pepper
Parsley

DIRECTIONS
In a bowl, add meat and and garlic. Mix well. Add remaining ingredients then salt and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well integrated. Form 2” sized meatballs and set aside.

In a large frying pan add olive oil to medium heat. Place meatballs in oil and brown on each side then turn heat to low and cook through. Remove from heat and let drain on a paper towel.

For sauce add all ingredients and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn down to a simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over the meatballs.

TUESDAY: TACO TUESDAY

Via The Daily Meal

Start to finish: 30 Minutes

For the tacos
3/4 lbs. Tilapia, cut into 2-inch pieces
Salt, pepper, paprika, garlic
3 tbsp canola oil
12 mini flour tortillas (recipe calls for corn but our house likes the flour ones)
1 1/2 cup cabbage slaw (recipe below)
2 ripe avocados
1 1/2 cup salsa
Cotija cheese

For the slaw
3/4 Cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
2 Tablespoons finely shredded red cabbage
1/2 Cup finely diced tomato
3 Tablespoons finely diced yellow tomato
2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 Tablespoon chipotle in adobo (optional)
1 Teaspoon rice vinegar
1 Teaspoon honey
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt

For the tacos
In a medium bowl, add tilapia and season salt, pepper, garlic and paprika.
Heat an outdoor grill or a medium sauté pan to medium-high. Lightly coat the grill or the sauté pan with the canola oil. Cook the tilapia until golden brown on one side, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the fish and cook on the other side until cooked through and flaky, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the fish from the heat and set aside to remove excess natural oils.

Heat tortillas in a warm sauté pan until golden. Quickly set aside.
To assemble tacos, place the cooked fish on tortilla and top off with cabbage slaw recipe and diced avocado. I also like to add a little Cotija cheese because I’m a cheese fanatic. Yummy!

For the slaw
Place cabbage, tomatoes, and cilantro in a large bowl and set aside. In a blender or a food processor, purée the chipotle, rice vinegar, honey, lime juice, and mayonnaise until well combined. Toss with the salad ingredients and season with a pinch of salt. Serve.

WEDNESDAY: BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA

Via Pioneer Woman

A Chicbusymom.com tip: I use leftover chicken from Sunday by simply pulling remaining meat off the bone as the pizza topping.

Start to finish: 35 Minutes

INGREDIENTS
1 Pizza dough, flatbread or pizza crust
Leftover roasted chicken or diced grilled chicken (I use Applegate Farms honey roasted chicken when I haven’t made chicken earlier in the week)
Gouda cheese (shredded)
BBQ sauce
Thinly sliced red onion
Cilantro
Salt, pepper, and garlic to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

DIRECTIONS
Place pizza crust on baking sheet or pizza pan. Put a good layer of chicken on the crust (target to get a chicken in every bite). Sprinkle cheese all over pizza followed by red onion. Take sauce and drizzle all over pizza (see photo). Put in oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

THURSDAY: CACIO E PEPE OR PASTA WITH PEPPER AND CHEESE

Via Epicurious

Start to finish: 35 Minutes

This may very well be the favorite restaurant dish of my two youngest children. Usually they just ask for pasta with butter and cheese, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this 25 minute dish on Epicurious.com. With the addition of the artisanal cheeses and a squeeze of lemon, the dish is instantly more interesting and something I can serve to the entire family.

INGREDIENTS
6 ounces pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, divided
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (medium ground)
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1/3 cup finely grated pecorino
Juice of a lemon (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:
Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5 quart pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Parmesan, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Finish with a two squeezes from your lemon. Add salt to taste. Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.

FRIDAY: RAMEKIN APPLE CRISPS

Via Pinch of Yum

“Mommy, may I have dessert?” My children ask for dessert during the week as if they were seated at the the table of a five-star restaurant. Most days, I direct them to the fridge for fruit or freezer for ice cream sandwiches. Every once in a while, however, when I have a little time on my side and I’m feeling generous, I make individual ramekin apple crisps.

Start to finish: 45 min

INGREDIENTS
4-5 Granny Smith apples diced (1 apple = one ramekin)
1 ½ cups of brown sugar
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. butter (melted)
1 tbsp. flour
Pinch of salt
1/8 tsp. of nutmeg
½ tsp. of allspice
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 juice of a lemon
1/3 cup of water
2 medium sized bowls

For the crust (top and bottom)
Mortar & pestle
Graham crackers (3)
Butter (melted)
1 tsp. flour
Granola

DIRECTIONS:
For the crust take the graham crackers and crush with mortar and pestle. Add your flour and melted butter. Evenly distribute a one-inch layer in your ramekins. Set aside.

For the crisps
Place all the apples in one bowl. In the other put all your dry ingredients and mix together. Add your butter and water and mix until everything comes together. Pour this mixture into bowl of apples and coat evenly. Pour even amounts in ramekins. Top with granola and a few shakes of cinnamon. Bake for 30 minutes or until apples are soft and juices are bubbly. Serve warm.

SATURDAY: ASIAN STYLE MARINATED SKIRT STEAK WITH APPLE & CABBAGE SLAW

Via Barbells and Bellinis

Start to finish: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS
For the meat
1 Bottle of Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce with less sodium (a mouthful already—I know). 1 ½ lbs. of Skirt Steak
1 tbsp. minced garlic
Pinch of salt
1 Large Ziploc bag

Prep: You will need to do this two hours before cook time. Take large Ziploc bag and place cleaned meat inside. Pour entire bottle of sauce into bag and add garlic. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours.

After marinating is done, place meat on griddle or grill and cook to your liking.

For the slaw
Half of a head of cabbage sliced
Shredded purple cabbage
Shredded carrots
2 Green apples
½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
Honey
½ tsp sugar
Salt & pepper
2 bowls

In one bowl place vegetables and apples. Set aside. In the other bowl mix vinegar, honey and sugar. Whisk until well blended. Taste here to make sure the flavor profile is what you want. Add salt and pepper to taste then pour over cabbage and apples. Mix and then serve with steak.

Chicbusymom.com time-saving kitchen must-haves and tips:

1. Stay Stocked: Keep key pantry and grocery items like: chopped onions (white and red), peppers, skinless garlic cloves, chicken and vegetable stock, and containers of fresh spinach/kale as well as frozen veggies at the ready.
2. Power Please: Investment in a power pressure cooker which retails for about $100, but makes a whole chicken in 20 min!
3. Slow and Steady: Say it with me, “slow cooker”…Sometimes you have to slow down to rev up. Slow cookers are ideal for “out-of-here” lifestyles. Put it on in the morning and it’s ready at dinner time.

A #Beautyfullreminder: Work life balance? Not so much. Seek harmony all around.

Photos may not be an exact representation of the recipes.

Candace Montgomery is a corporate events director by day, muser and blogger by night, wife and mother of 3 during those times and others between…as in always, and celebrant of life as often as humanly possible. Instagram: @Chicbusymom