Let's face it, some days all we want is a fast dinner we don't have to fuss with. For some, that means call the pizza man, for others, drive-thru or a deli meal. When you live in the country you often don't have those options. Fast food becomes junk in a box or junk from the freezer. It doesn't HAVE TO be that though. With a little planning when shopping, and a mindfully stocked pantry you CAN get a home cooked meal on the table in thirty minutes or less.
So what is in a mindfully stocked pantry? The basics. Chicken and beef stock. Noodles, pasta and a grain like rice or quinoa. Vegetables. You all know I'm a home canner so I have loads of veggies in the cupboard as well as homemade stocks, but if you don't can, just stock up on a few things your family likes. Some basic seasonings like garlic, onions, a few spices, chicken and beef soup bases. Every kitchen should have a thickening agent- flour or cornstarch, as well as baking basics like brown and white sugar and yeast. Keep a couple packages of easy to cook meats in the freezer/fridge and you're all set!
Faced with starvation this evening, no desire to cook a big dinner, and the closest pizza man an hour away it was up to me to make magic happen in the kitchen with a package of chicken breasts. So..... here is the result of five minutes of assessing the situation and making sure I had what I needed.
Thirty Minute Chicken and Noodles
You will need-
- 1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts (mine had 3, I'm guessing roughly a pound)
- 1 one-pound package wide egg noodles
- 1/2 cup sliced scallions
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- cooking oil
- 1/3 cup flour
- 4 tablespoons chicken soup base (or 4 cups chicken stock/broth)
- 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
- salt and pepper
Put a pot of salted water on to boil. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized cubes. Season with salt and pepper. In a large measuring cup place the flour. Add about 1/4 of water- just enough to mix it with a fork until smooth. Add the chicken soup base and water to make 4 cups. Set aside.
Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a skillet. I used my new ceramic skillet and it was awesome!! Add half the chicken and saute until browned nicely and cooked through. Remove to a bowl and keep warm. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Add the noodles to the water when it's come to a full rolling boil. Most noodles take 7-9 minutes. Drain and set aside.
After all chicken is cooked, remove from skillet. Add a tablespoon of oil if needed and add the scallions and garlic; reduce heat and cook several minutes until garlic is softened but not browned. Switch to a whisk, stir the water/flour mixture again and add to skillet all at once. Return to higher heat and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened like a gravy. Return the chicken to the pot. Add the noodles. Sprinkle with thyme, mix and serve!
Wasn't that easy? It was super easy and fast, as delicious as something cooked all day and perfect for a cool autumn night. I recommend keeping low salt soup bases on hand because they CAN be pretty salty sometimes, but this was just right. Some buttered green beans and dinner was on the table in the Little Lake House- I kid you not- 24 minutes. Yes, I timed it!In fact, it all came together so quickly, I didn't have time to take many pictures. Anyone can have 2 pans going at the same time- so give up the garbage food and make your own fast food!