Nurse, coach, therapist, transportation driver, referee and cook. As mothers, we do it all and quick dinners help ease the rush of the week. I asked the winner of “The Great Soul Food Cook-Off,” private chef, caterer and owner of Fuller Food LLC, chef Razia Sabour, what are some practical recipes for busy moms on a school night and she provided us with a few of her favorites that get the job done with time to spare.
Sabour explains, “The recipes I share are practical for busy parents because they are kid-friendly and picky eater staples made simple by reducing the number of ingredients and steps to achieve a good family meal.”
Be sure to bookmark these time savers that can also be made ahead of time for extra ease.
OVEN FRIED CHICKEN
6-8 chicken legs
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cooking oil
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons mustard powder
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons pepper
Divide spice blend in half and use to season chicken and flour
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425 °F.
- Wash and pat chicken completely dry, leaving the skin on.
- Season chicken with spice blend and coat in seasoned flour.
- Pour cooking oil onto a 9/12 parchment-lined baking sheet. Shake access flour off of the chicken.
- Place chicken legs on a baking sheet ¼ inch apart (allows steam to escape, which creates crispy skin).
- Roast oven for 20 minutes. Turn legs over halfway through and cook for 20 more minutes allowing the other side to crisp as well.
- Remove from oven and place legs on a cooling rack to drain access oil and serve hot.
- While the chicken is in the oven, coat any veggies (broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.) with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and add to the oven for a complete sheet pan meal.
- Drizzle chicken with BBQ sauce, honey mustard or honey sauce while it’s resting on the cooling rack. You can also place the chicken back in the oven after coating it with sauce to allow the sauce to adhere to the chicken, creating a glazed, crispy skin.
- Use 40-minute oven cooking time to help with homework, spend quality family time, prepare for the next day or just relax.
- Chicken can be made crispier by using a dredge. Season chicken, coat with seasoned flour, coat with seasoned buttermilk or beaten eggs, coat with seasoned panko, spray with cooking oil, then add to parchment-lined baking sheet. A lot of steps for busy school nights, but worth the effort when you have the time.
STOVETOP MAC & CHEESE
According to Sabour, “The secret to making the best stovetop mac & cheese is to grate your own cheese from the block. Packaged shredded cheeses contain plastic which hinders the cheese from melting down to its creamiest.” Put your skills to the test with this easy, cheesy recipe. This recipe was created with the help of Sabour's daughter, Caden Rae Burton, affectionately called “Chef Rae.”
Serves 4 | 15-minute one-pot meal
2 cups macaroni noodles
2 cups shredded cheese
1 cup milk or heavy cream
½ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Using a 3-5 quart non-stick pot or Dutch oven, boil pasta following package instructions. Drain the pasta, leaving enough water to coat the bottom of the pan. Place pasta back into the pot and return to stove top.
- On medium-low heat, stir in shredded cheese, milk and seasonings until combined and creamy in texture.
- Remove from heat and serve.
- Any pasta, milk, or cheese will work for this dish (even American Cheese Singles). Although freshly grating cheese from the block works best. I use sharp cheddar most often, but Monterey Jack, gouda and mozzarella are great options.
- This is a great dish for picky eaters, but top it with toasted breadcrumbs or parmesan to fancy it up.
- Add butter or drizzle on olive oil for a richer finish.
- Add veggies or meat for a heartier one-pot meal. Broccoli, spinach, peas, carrots, ground meat, cubed chicken, or whatever you have on hand.
- Make this dish vegan and/or gluten-free by using chickpea pasta, cashew cheese and oat milk. Use any gluten-free pasta, water, or vegan milk and vegan cheese you prefer.
- Boil pasta in veggie, chicken or beef stock or generously salted water. Mustard powder and onion powder are optional.
- When my daughters were younger, I only used salt and a pinch of pepper to “season” this dish.
HOMEMADE SALAD DRESSING
A meal is not complete without a good salad. “Make your own salad dressing because the five-ingredient base uses versatile pantry staples. Therefore, you’ll always have the ingredients on hand,” Sabour says.
Serving size: 4-6 (2 oz)
2 tablespoons vinegar (white, red, or rice wine, apple cider, balsamic)
2 tablespoons Dijon or coarse ground mustard
2 tablespoons honey maple syrup or agave
1/3 cup olive, avocado, sesame or grapeseed oil
salt and pepper to taste
- Using a mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard and honey until combined.
- Whisk in oil to combine, taste and then add salt and pepper to taste.
- This five-ingredient vinaigrette is a classic base utilizing pantry staples to build many dressings or sauces.
- Combine all ingredients in a lidded mason jar to store the leftover dressing in the fridge.
- Add the juice of half a lemon, lime, or orange for more brightness.
- Add diced garlic, shallots or ginger for a more full-bodied flavor.
- Whisk in ¼ cup of sour cream, mayonnaise, or avocado for a creamy texture.
- Toss any salad with this dressing and add starch (pasta, couscous, potatoes, quinoa, chickpeas, or black beans) for a heartier dish.