For us dinner can be the best of times and it can be the worst of times…. For my daughters and I, it is such an important moment to catch up after a long day. It can also be a moment of frustration,when 3 tired females have different opinions on how the meal is supposed to go down and what is edible and what isn’t…
As I work full time, I only pick the kids up from school at 6pm, so it is a mad rush getting home, getting a meal ready, doing homework, squeezing in a bath and a bedtime story. I try to pre-cook at least 3 meals during the weekend, so I don’t have to think when I get home during the week. Big favorites are lasagne (a simplified variation on this one) and shepherd’s pie (with as many vegetables squeezed in as possible) and all sorts of soups (from vegetable to chicken noodle) — basically dishes which can be easily re-heated. I also often pre-make some pasta sauces in big batches and freeze them.
A BIG treat is crepes: the girls get the toppings ready while I make the batter and everyone is allowed to put together their own concoctions. Last time we did it, Violette insisted on a houmous and tomato crepe…. who can argue with that? I think I it is even possible to pre-make to batter the night before but I have never tried this! I do usually serve up a grated carrot salad first, as there is very little interest in vegetables once the crepes are ready. I do think that kids will survive if they don’t always get a freshly cooked meal made from scratch. Scrabbled eggs with toast and a salad is totally ok, too. The girls are given a fairly healthy 3 course meal for school lunch here in France, so I feel that dinner can be simpler.
We usually eat in the kitchen and I do insist on the girls sitting down properly and eating without getting up and down — it is such a good way of finding out how their day went! The girls are getting very good at setting the table and stacking the dishwasher after dinner. The table does always look a bit rock’n roll after they have set it, but, as they say, Rome was not built in a day.
Friday nights are our favorite nights, as I try to make it into a film night, with pizza (delivery), popcorn, ice cream and a movie we all like. We put blankets and cushions on the floor and a cheeky glass of red wine for me is mandatory. The girls get to stay up a little bit later and it is so cozy to relax and ease into the weekend.
Here is one of my favourite recipes for a chicken and broccoli stirfry that I can prepare the night before and then cook up in about 15 mins when we get back home. It so easy and delicious.
You will need:
- a small head of broccoli
- 2 small chicken breasts
- 1 egg
- 200 gr of egg noodles
And for the marinade: lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, 1 shallot, a pinch of sugar and anything else you fancy (coriander, chilli..)
In the evening I make a marinade out lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and pinch of sugar, a chopped échalotte and a crushed garlic clove. Then I cube some chicken breasts and add them to the marinade. I cover the bowl and stick it in the fridge over night and until the next evening when I get home. When I get home I quickly soak some noodles in boiling water. I then just need to put the marinated chicken into a wok with the sauce and start frying it up. While it is cooking, I wash and chop up a head of broccoli and stir-fry it with the chicken. Finally, I add in the noodles and for a finishing touch pour over it a whipped egg, to slightly blend all the ingredients together. It literally takes me 15 minutes from the moment I arrive through the door to the moment dinner is on the table! (It is a hectic 15 mins, I admit).