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How To Stop ‘Thinking’ About Dinner

5-Ingredient Chicken Caccitore-3

A few weeks ago I experienced something completely new. I was ready to stop cooking all together.

I’d just finished photographing and videoing the new recipes for my Tired & Hungry Dinners program. As much as I was proud of the work I’d done, I was over having to think so hard.

Now don’t get me wrong.

I love my job. Normally I find creating in the kitchen energizing and fun. But the little ‘bun’ in my proverbial ‘oven’ was making me feel otherwise.

Luckily there was enough energy left for one good idea…

I made November my month of ‘outscourcing’ thinking about what to have for dinner.

So I’ve been using my Soupstones Meal Plans for the past two weeks.

And I’ve LOVED how easy it’s been to download the shopping list, get my ingredients and then just walk into the kitchen each night, check the meal plan and start cooking.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

Like last week when the meal plan included Steamed Fish with Soy & Ginger. I found myself not ‘feeling like’ steamed fish for dinner.

However I had the ingredients, so I made it anyway. And it was delicious!

How about you?

If you’re happy with your current meal planning system then skip down to the recipe below.

BUT if you’d like to stop having to think about dinner so much, then listen up!

Soupstones Square Logo NEW

I know this time of year may seem wrong to be starting something new. But it’s actually times like now when we get busy that the ‘wheels tend to fall off’ our everyday healthy eating.

Now is actually when we need the most help.

For more details go to:
www.thestonesoupshop.com/ss/

5-Ingredient Chicken Caccitore-2

5-Ingredient Chicken Caccitore

At the moment I’m finding myself turning to dishes like this that you can just pop in the oven and practically let dinner ‘cook itself’. I’m especially fond of chicken drumsticks because they’re super economical plus you get all those lovely bones to gnaw on. The other thing I love about this dish is the way the olives bring an exotic complexity to such a simple lineup of ingredients.

enough for: 4
takes: 60 minutes

8-12 chicken drumsticks
1 jar tomato passata (puree) (700g / 3cups)
4 tablespoons butter
2 handfuls black olives
2-3 medium zucchini

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Place chicken, tomato and butter in an ovenproof dish large enough to hold the chicken in one layer.

2. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

3. Remove the foil, turn the chicken, add the olives and bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Taste and add extra salt if needed (the olives will bring some so you may not need it).

4. While the chicken is cooking slice the zucchini into ribbons using a vegetable peeler, mandoline or spiralizer. Season with salt and allow the ‘noodles’ to stand at room temp to warm up and soften slightly.

5. To serve divide zucchini noodles between 4 plates and top with chicken, olives and sauce.

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Variations

vegetarian – replace chicken with large mushrooms and serve with some shaved parmesan or crumbled feta for some extra protein.

carnivore – these flavours are also lovely with lamb shanks, beef short ribs or osso buco but you’ll need to cook covered for 4-6 hours at 150C (300F). Uncover and add the olives for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

carb lovers / more substantial – serve with hot buttered pasta or egg noodles (and skip the zucchini if you like).

more veg – add chopped onions, garlic, carrots and/or red capsicum (bell peppers) to the sauce before cooking. Serve with chopped parsley or basil on top. And add a green salad on the side.

paleo / dairy-free – replace butter with coconut oil or olive oil.

bone free – If you don’t share my love of bones, use chicken thigh or breast fillets. You’ll need to reduce the cooking time to about 30 minutes or so depending on their size.

other chicken – also feel free to use a whole chicken chopped into 8 pieces instead of the drumsticks. Or chicken thighs on the bone or chicken marylands (thighs + drumsticks).

tomato-free – replace tomato passata (puree) with chicken stock and add a halved lemon to cook in with the chicken. Squeeze lemon juice into the sauce before serving.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. And a quick clarification…

Last week I wrote about my best decision ever. The decision I described was my best career decision. My overall best life decision of course was marrying a certain Irishman and having our family!

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Denis 11 November, 2015, 3:18 pm

    Quite often I will look in the fridge for dinner, see the leftovers I have, be it half a chicken, or some Chinese food I made, close the fridge door and end up snacking on junk food. I have good food there, and it would be maybe 5 minutes to get ready, but my brain says meh!!! So, I fully understand the decision making when it comes to looking at food and not wanting exactly that. If I were able to get past my 30 seconds looking in the fridge I would end up wasting less food, as some of it eventually goes bad.

    “I found myself not ‘feeling like’ steamed fish for dinner.”, your words resonate with me in a bad way as this is how I feel most nights. I may get 2 meals out of a head of lettuce as it goes bad because I have those two meals then don’t want any salad again until it is a ball of green sludge in the bottom of the crisper. Being male, I don’t even have the bun in the oven excuse to go with to blame it on. But you carry on making the thing that says meh to you, until you are eating it later and it is yummy. I need to figure out how to do THAT! New title: How to get past that, “I don’t really feel like eating that today!”, feeling, by Stonesoup! (grin)

    • jules 16 November, 2015, 2:20 pm

      Denis!
      The big lesson for me is even when I’m thinking ‘meh’ I just cook it anyway and at least 90% of the time I end up enjoying the meal… Thanks for inspiring a new blog post!
      Jx

  • sue 11 November, 2015, 5:10 pm

    Hi there do you leave the skin on the drumsticks or remove it because it’s going to go soggy in the sauce anyway?

    • jules 16 November, 2015, 2:17 pm

      Leave it on Sue!
      I never remove the skin… it’s one of my favourite parts… and you don’t need to spend the time fiddling around with chicken skin
      Jx

  • Gina 11 November, 2015, 6:42 pm

    Would you go for Greek olives or Spanish olives in this? If I had green olives would it make a significant difference in the flavour?

    • jules 16 November, 2015, 2:16 pm

      I prefer black in this Gina… mine were Australian kalamatas… it doesn’t make a huge difference… YOu could use green but for some reason I tend to only eat green ones on their own and don’t cook with them.
      Jx

  • Patrick 11 November, 2015, 10:45 pm

    I’m an old pike,dangling bait has yet to hook me regardless of how it’s wrapped up an presented that’s why I’m still out there. Your membership fee is way out of my budget, I can feed my wife and me healthy fresh food on a daily basis for less than €1.00 each, occasionally we eat meat but regularly we eat fish obviously the price of a meal is dependent on what we buy, on a hay day its still less than your budget.We live within our means and know the provenance of all fresh food, this being truly organic

  • Katie 12 November, 2015, 1:01 am

    Wow this looks so beautiful – really delicious and perfect for this season – so thank you for the recipe!!

    Love Katie

    For my Gluten Free Tabbouleh Salad please visit my Website http://www.whatskatieupt.com I would be thrilled :)

  • Matthew 24 November, 2015, 1:26 pm

    I just eat the same few meals all the time so I never really have to think about not just dinner but any of my meals. I have like 2-3 for choices for each meal and somehow I never get tired of them. It’s great!

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