How I Did a Big Solo Road Trip, With Kids (And Didn’t Go Crazy!)

I'm so nervous about driving a solo road trip with kids, but she makes me a feel a ton better! Great list and ideas of what to bring and do to make the trip go faster and keep the kids occupied. I'm so nervous about driving a solo road trip with kids, but she makes me a feel a ton better! Great list and ideas of what to bring and do to make the trip go faster and keep the kids occupied. I'm so nervous about driving a solo road trip with kids, but she makes me a feel a ton better! Great list and ideas of what to bring and do to make the trip go faster and keep the kids occupied. I'm so nervous about driving a solo road trip with kids, but she makes me a feel a ton better! Great list and ideas of what to bring and do to make the trip go faster and keep the kids occupied.

Last week, I did a 14-hour solo road trip with my 2-year-old and my 4-year-old. And I didn’t go insane.

I didn’t start off insane, either, thanks. I was nervous before the trip started, for sure. And there are definitely some things I’ll tweak before we hit the road to go home again. But all in all? It was unbelievably painless for a long road trip with kids, and one I think I’ll make more often.

Here’s how it began: A few times a year, I pack my kids up and we fly from NYC, where we live, to Northern Michigan, where my parents live.

Since I work from home and my eldest isn’t in school yet, I typically stay 3-4 weeks at a time. My husband will stay back in NYC to work, coming up for a long weekend in the middle of our trip. It’s great- we have tons of time to hang out, let the kids run around in the fresh air, and spend time with my family in my hometown on Lake Michigan.

Back when I had just one kid, the flight from NYC to Traverse City wasn’t fun, but it was pretty straightforward.

And after my second was born, the flight got a little more hectic, for sure, but by breastfeeding him on the plane I was usually able to stop any drama before it began.

However, that nursing baby is now 2. Our breastfeeding days are behind us. He’s old enough now that I have to buy him a third plane ticket. And I am over. it.

Between the TSA, the packing (and worrying about the weight limit), the running to catch connecting flights with a slow-moving toddler while babywearing and dragging 3 pieces of carry-ons, stopping the kids from kicking the seat in front of us, the time my son knocked a huge cup of hot coffee all down the lap of the lady next to us and then cried for the next hour because his ears hurt, the time we got delayed in Detroit for 4 hours and it was midnight and there were no restaurants open, the time we had a two blowouts and I didn’t pack enough diapers; yeah, I’ve come to dread the flight part of our trips up north.

It had gotten to the point where I would get an anxiety stomach ache 24 hours before we flew.

The stomach ache wouldn’t go away until we left baggage claim.

Eventually, I didn’t want to pony up upwards of $400 per plane ticket just so we could be miserable for 24 hours, and then pay to rent a car once we arrived to Michigan. (We don’t own a car here in NYC, so we rent a car or use Zipcar when we need one.) 

My mind was made up: I was done with flying.

So when my husband and I decided on another trip up north before my daughter started school this fall, I told him I planned on road tripping instead. I also started praying it wasn’t the dumbest idea I’d had yet.

Know what? The drive, even 14 hours long, was so much easier than flying.

I hereby consider this my declaration: we are never flying again (unless, obviously, we’re on a time crunch. And even then I’ll probably consider driving!)

I’ve learned a few things after making this last road trip, and I’m sure I’ll learn more as time goes on.

If you’re renting, get the car the day before you leave.

We picked up the car the day of, and while I was pretty organized with packing, I wish I had  more time to get used to how the car handles and the little ins and outs like, does it play music via bluetooth or an auxiliary cable? What are the wipers like when it rains? How hard is that brake pedal? I had to figure too much out while I was also managing traffic jams leaving the Bronx and passing snacks to the backseat. Next time, I’ll pick up the car the day before we go and take it for a test spin before hitting the open highway.

Keep a bag of snacks where you can reach it.

I used a filing box from Thirty-One, and it was perfect- I packed it full of more snacks than we knew what to do with. My favorite road trip snack is fruit leather, which takes a while for my kids to eat so it keeps them quiet and occupied.

Keep a toilet bag handy, including a portable potty.

I kept a bag of diapers, wipes, toilet paper, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and a portable potty seat like this one. This saved my life when my son was napping and my daughter needed to pee. She could squat on the side of the road and I didn’t have to wake him up to take us all to a rest stop.

Tablets are amazing

Don’t feel shy about utilizing the wonders of a tablet for keeping your car quiet and distracting the kids. I recommend you load up way more movies than you think you need. There isn’t a ton of space on a Kindle Fire, which is our tablet of choice, so use SD cards to add extra room. Before you go, turn the wifi off and double check to make sure everything will be accessible when there’s no signal. And bring baby headphones so you don’t have to listen to 14 hours of Little Baby Bum like I did.

Get awesome back-of-the-seat toy and drink holders.

These were inexpensive and perfect for our trip. The kids had a place to put their stuff, and I could slip their tablets into the top so they could watch handsfree.

Take the exits that don’t go to truck stops.

We pulled off the highway to tiny Midwest towns and villages to use the bathroom or grab lunch, instead of always hitting the truck stops. It was nice to see places other than Burger King and Waffle House.

Then, take the truck stop exits and embrace the BK playspace.

The best part about a Burger King or McDonalds Playspace is it’s enclosed, so you can relax and let the kids run around and blow off some steam while you gather yourself for a bit.

Load up your own podcasts and playlists.

Living in the city, I get so used to having strong data wherever we go. But when you’re in the middle of nowhere on I-80, that data streaming station turns silent. I only loaded a handful of podcasts and playlists on my phone, and I wish I’d given myself more of a selection.

No data leads me to: Real life maps.

Google Maps is great but get a road map, just in case.

But speaking of data use, if you’re not on the streaming train just yet, hop on.

Using the hands-free voice-to-talk Alexa option on my Amazon Unlimited Music was great for making my phone play DJ while we drove. Then I could spontaneously request “Little Past Little Rock” and sing at the top of my lungs while the kids looked at me like I was crazy. Amazon Music/Spotify/Google Streaming is your BFF while driving if you get enough signal. And can I suggest country music? It’s made for these kinds of trips.

“Hand on the car!”

Again, we’re city folk. My kids aren’t used to cars; they’re used to standing behind the yellow line at a subway stop. I made it a rule that whenever we’re in a parking lot, they must keep their hands on the car at all times while I gathered my purse and diaper bags and made sure the car was locked. It stopped them from running around in front of traffic.

Juice boxes for the kids and a ‘juice box’ for your phone.

My kids don’t get juice very often, but I bought a few boxes as a road trip treat. But mama’s juice box is what I really came to depend on; not the drinkable kind, the battery kind! We have this hardcore chargeable “juice box” for charging phones, laptops, and tablets, and it is amazing. I charged it fully before we left and it gave enough power that I didn’t have to charge it again till we arrived in Michigan- despite having to charge all 3 devices on it at some stage. If you want a more affordable option, this one is great, too.

Make-your-own surprise bags.

My kids love those packaged ‘blind bags’ with small toys in them, so I took that idea one step further for the road. The day before we left, I made each of them 2 or 3 “surprise bags” in gallon ziplocks using toys we already had. Each ziplock held things that went together; a handful of Hatchimal toys for my daughter, a few matchbox cars for my son, playdough, etc. When they piped up from the backseat, I handed back a ziplock bag and they stayed quiet for another hour or so.


That’s it!

Our 14 hour road trip in actuality took about 28 hours to make, including a stop at a hotel and 4,000 bathroom and food breaks. But all in all, it was super painless and I felt in control of our day- unlike when we’re flying. I’ll definitely be making this trip again in the future!

Have you traveled long car trips with kids? What are your best tips for my trip home? I’d love to hear them!

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How to Cook Dinner When You Have Picky Eaters

SO HELPFUL! I love how she shares actually real tips for getting kids to eat their dinner, I've got picky eaters and I'm at my wits end for knowing what to cook for picky eater appetites.

SO HELPFUL! I love how she shares actually real tips for getting kids to eat their dinner, I've got picky eaters and I'm at my wits end for knowing what to cook for picky eater appetites.

SO HELPFUL! I love how she shares actually real tips for getting kids to eat their dinner, I've got picky eaters and I'm at my wits end for knowing what to cook for picky eater appetites.

SO HELPFUL! I love how she shares actually real tips for getting kids to eat their dinner, I've got picky eaters and I'm at my wits end for knowing what to cook for picky eater appetites.

SO HELPFUL! I love how she shares actually real tips for getting kids to eat their dinner, I've got picky eaters and I'm at my wits end for knowing what to cook for picky eater appetites.

SO HELPFUL! I love how she shares actually real tips for getting kids to eat their dinner, I've got picky eaters and I'm at my wits end for knowing what to cook for picky eater appetites.

As if a working parent didn’t have enough to worry about in the evenings, fixing dinner for picky eaters can throw off the game of even the most on-top-of-it cook.

Picture this: me, pre-kids, smugly thinking to myself, “I’m such a foodie! I’ll never raise picky eaters! It’s all about exposure to new foods and taking away the fear! My kids will eat everything!”

God laughed. Then he gave me my daughter, who is just as smug and headstrong as her mama.

(He threw me a bone with my son, who will eat whatever is put in front of him, but that’s another story)

I do hesitate to consider my 4-year-old daughter a “picky eater”, however; her aversion to certain foods ebbs and flows with her moods.

It’s more a determination on her part to let me know that she will be bossed around by nobody, especially not her mommy handing her a plate of previously-adored homemade macaroni and cheese.

She will label the offensive macaroni “di-cus-tig” one day, and gobble it up cheerfully the next.

And while that is maddening, I’m not sure if it qualifies for actual pickiness. My personal definition of a true picky eater is someone who has a genuine aversion to many foods, whether that’s due to taste or texture, and who doesn’t waver from those aversions despite my trying out every trick in the book.

However, for the sake of this post, I’m lumping them all together in the same ‘picky eater boat’.

That’s because I do know one thing: whether your kids is straight up picky or just headstrong, like mine, picky eaters make cooking dinner harder than usual.

Because it’s not just hard to accommodate the wily needs of a picky eater.

It’s downright impossible to do so within the crazy crunch time that lies between getting home from work and getting the kids tucked into bed.

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How is it possible to cook dinner for the entire family, including picky eaters, in 30 minutes, without losing your mother-loving mind?

I may not have all the answers, but I do have four helpful secrets that work for, say, 65% of the time.

If we’re talking picky eaters, that’s a damn good percentage if I do say so myself.

Secret Number 1: Build-It-Yourself Dinners

This is my first go-to trick, and it’s the one that is in some ways the most practical: let them freaking make dinner.

This idea works best when you think of a meal that works as a “bar”. Nope, not the bar you feel driven to when your kid refuses dinner for the third night in a row (that’s the bar I’ll meet you at later, mama, with a shot and a beer, because #solidarity)

I’m talking food bars- taco bar, baked potato bar, pizza bar, quesadilla bar.

How it works:

  • Lay out ingredients so everyone can put together their own meal.
  • Set some ground rules (No cheese-only dinners. You must have 3 different ingredients on your plate. You don’t have to eat it, you just need to choose to have it on your plate)
  • This may mean I finish up the cooking portion of the meal. For instance, they choose their toppings on individual pizzas or quesadillas, and I finish them in the oven.

Why it works:

Overall these build-it-yourself meals cause a lot less stress for everyone. The picky eater feels like they have control over their plate. I feel like I have control over my sanity.

Secret Number 2: Playing ‘Restaurant’

This goes hand in hand with letting kids choose their meals. With the restaurant game, you’re letting them set the scene for dinner.

This idea works best on leftovers night. I’ll often find myself with the remnants of two or three meals that don’t have enough to serve everyone at once, so the leftovers will be divided amongst everyone.

How it works:

  • Pick 2-3 leftovers you’re hoping to use up. Write them out on a “menu”. My daughter can’t read but she does know her letters and numbers, so I’ll draw a picture of each meal and number it.
  • Sit your tired ass down at the table and tell your kids they’re the waiter tonight.
  • Everyone at the table chooses a meal, including the ‘waiter’.
  • Have the kids serve you, serve each other, etc.

Why it works:

Again, they feel in control of what they eat. They get a cheap thrill out of serving you like you’re in a restaurant. You have time to sit down at the table for once, where you can pat yourself on the back because you’re giving your children a life skill of preparing to wait tables in college for beer money.

Secret Number 3: Like-for-Like

This is a class-A parenting ninja move, and it’s one of my most tried and true. If your kid is dead-set against trying new things, give them something that’s suuuuuuuper close to what they’re used to, then make a big deal about how brave they are to try new things.

How it works:

Here’s a case study: A friend of mine has a daughter who loves cream cheese, but this friend was trying to get her daughter to try new foods. At snack time, they’ll usually eat cream cheese on crackers.

Instead, this time my friend spread a bit of labneh (an Israeli soft cheese that’s texturally like a cross between yogurt and cream cheese) on the same cracker brand she always serves and gave that to her daughter instead.

The daughter wasn’t as suspicious of the labneh since it looked so much like cream cheese, so she tried it and liked it.

Cue the parents making a huge effing deal about how awesome the daughter is for trying new things, which jazzed her daughter up to try something else the next day.

Why it works:

A lot of picky eaters come from a place of fear of new foods. They tried a new thing once and it was disgusting, so they think, “Whelp, that’s it! I’ll only stick with stuff I know I like, since new stuff isn’t worth the hassle”.

The new food doesn’t have to be wildly different. It just has to be different enough that you slowly erase that fear by proving their preconceived notion about certain foods wrong.

The key here is to take a gentle approach to trying a new food, not forceful.

Staying super casual about the food beforehand and then basically throwing a ticker tape parade after they try it for the first time will reinforce the idea to your kids that trying new foods is a commonplace thing– but that it’s also super cool to be a brave little badass and step out of your comfort zone (because you may like what you find!).

Secret Number 4: Wait it Out

Seriously, it’s okay to do it this way. It doesn’t guarantee your child will never eat new foods again.

How it works:

  • You just embrace the crazy, ignore the nagging voice in your head, and let your kids eat what they’ll eat. As long as they eat.
  • Keep it casual about trying new foods, continue to introduce new foods to your kids whenever you can, and (this is the hard part) don’t sweat it when your kids rejects the food.

Why it works:

So much of picky eating is control. So much of it is a phase. Striking a balance between giving your kid back that control and waiting out the phase works sometimes better than you think it might!

Case in point: My brother, for about 2 years, only ate hotdogs and cheerios. Ever. Every day.

My mom just rolled with it, since she was busy with work and the rest of the family and #aintnobodygottime, etc etc.

Eventually, my brother got sick of these foods. He got sick of going to eat at friend’s houses and not being able to join in because the dinner was new.

He grew out of his picky eating, started trying new foods, and discovered they don’t make you die.

Now he’s that dude in South Asia eating crickets on sticks and demolishing my fridge of leftovers whenever he visits.

Kids grow up! Their tastebuds change. They change. By keeping it casual and letting them see from other people that trying new foods wasn’t a big scary thing, my brother eventually realized there was a whole new world of food out there, he just had to check it out for himself to see.


Listen, I’ll be the first to agree, cooking dinner for picky eaters is no picnic.

But I’ve found that by staying loose and casual about the thing, and relentlessly keeping new foods in front of my kids and never forcing them to try it, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Do you have a picky eater? Have you found sneaky tricks of your own that seem to work? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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Ground Chicken Burger with Olives and Black Pepper Mayo

I love these ground chicken burgers as an easy low-carb burger alternative! I wasn't so sure about the green olives she adds to the burger mix but they added a lot of extra moisture and flavor, so don't skip them. The black pepper mayo was a good condiment! I love these ground chicken burgers as an easy low-carb burger alternative! I wasn't so sure about the green olives she adds to the burger mix but they added a lot of extra moisture and flavor, so don't skip them. The black pepper mayo was a good condiment! I love these ground chicken burgers as an easy low-carb burger alternative! I wasn't so sure about the green olives she adds to the burger mix but they added a lot of extra moisture and flavor, so don't skip them. The black pepper mayo was a good condiment! I love these ground chicken burgers as an easy low-carb burger alternative! I wasn't so sure about the green olives she adds to the burger mix but they added a lot of extra moisture and flavor, so don't skip them. The black pepper mayo was a good condiment! I love these ground chicken burgers as an easy low-carb burger alternative! I wasn't so sure about the green olives she adds to the burger mix but they added a lot of extra moisture and flavor, so don't skip them. The black pepper mayo was a good condiment! I love these ground chicken burgers as an easy low-carb burger alternative! I wasn't so sure about the green olives she adds to the burger mix but they added a lot of extra moisture and flavor, so don't skip them. The black pepper mayo was a good condiment!

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A ground chicken burger that’s mixed with green olives and topped with melty swiss? Heck yes.

Ok, let’s get a little weirder up in here with our chicken burger: top that baby with black pepper mayo.

Say what!?

I KNOW. It’s a little offbeat but it so works.

The green olives add briny moisture to the ground chicken burger mix, and the melty cheese holds it together, and the black pepper mayo on top is just the kick you need to kill it at making easy dinner on the grill on a weeknight.

The thing with ground chicken burgers is that they often come out a little dry. There’s not nearly enough fat in the mix to keep things nice and moist, the way a great burger should be.

So adding chopped green olives to the mix is a slightly different, totally tasty way to change things up and at the same time make that burger patty the best it can be.

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The idea behind this ground chicken burger with green olives came to me at a diner in Northern Michigan last fall.

I was visiting my parents in my hometown and we grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant. I ordered the chicken burger toped with sliced green olives and swiss, and it was… underwhelming.

It’s a common sandwich in the Midwest: grilled chicken breast topped with sliced green olives, topped with melted swiss cheese. It’s served in a bun like a hamburger would be, but most of the time that’s where the similarities end.

What if, I wondered, slathering on more mayo to cover up the dryness of my chicken sandwich, you could make a better chicken burger by blending the green olives into a ground chicken mix?

Drumroll….. it works! So well. Those olives up the moisture and the flavor. The melted swiss gives it more of a “burger” feel. And that black pepper mayo is just because I’m obsessed with the stuff and it goes well with everything.

Things to remember when making these ground chicken burgers:

For the green olives: 

  • Start with pitted green olives to save yourself the hassle
  • If you don’t feel like chopping them by hand, toss them in the food processor and pulse until they’re roughly diced
  • Don’t feel the need to go with fancy green olives here; plain ole’ martini olives will work great

For the black pepper mayo: 

When you’re grilling: 

  • Make sure to oil up the grill pan or grates before you add the patties. Despite the olives adding moisture, chicken burgers still don’t have a ton of fat in them. That means they lack grease, which means they have a tendency to stick to the grill. Adding oil will help when you flip halfway through.

Other than that, I love these easy ground chicken burgers as a changeup from the usual. It’s a healthier version of my beloved hamburger, and the extra additions make it better than most. Enjoy!

5 from 4 votes
Ground Chicken Burger with Olives and Black Pepper Mayo
Author: Ruthy Kirwan
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • spray canola oil
  • 4-6 slices swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Burger buns for serving
Instructions
For the burgers:
  1. Heat a barbecue grill or cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.
  2. While the grill is heating, combine the ground chicken, green olives, and ground mustard in a large bowl. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  3. Form the chicken mixture into patties.
  4. Spray the grill with oil, then place the patties on the grill, leaving an inch or so of room between each.
  5. Grill 3-4 minutes, then flip. Top each patty with a slice of swiss cheese.
  6. While the second side is grilling, mix together the mayonnaise and black pepper in a small bowl.
  7. After the chicken patties have cooked all the way through, remove from the grill and place each on a bun. Top each patty with a dollop of black pepper mayo and serve.

3 Genius Ways to Uplevel Homemade Chicken Tenders

Upleveled Homemade Chicken Tenders

Homemade chicken tenders are like the holy grail of kid food, aren’t they?

Unless a kid is hard-core against meat, I’ve yet to meet a child (or any meat-eater, really) who doesn’t love a good homemade chicken tender.

The problem, though? Homemade chicken tenders can be dry, tasteless, and the bottoms get all gummy.

GROSS.

I mean, my kids would still eat it. With enough ketchup, they’ll eat anything, actually.

Lucky for you, I’ve made approximately 9 billion chicken tenders in my life.

And along the way, I’ve figured out a handful of sneaky hacks and tricks that will seriously uplevel a plain old chicken tender.

Are you ready to hear what they are?

I outlined them in this video I made with my kids on Facebook Live in my private Facebook group, Busy Mamas Cooking In Tiny Kitchens (I’d love for you to join the community, btw!)

Oh, and you’ve been warned: this video is REAL LIFE, DUDES. My son was teething and crabby and clingy. He wouldn’t let me put him down so I had to cook without the use of both hands. My daughter dumped like, 18 tons of Parmesan cheese into the breading mix (whoops). My son dropped chicken tender on my shirt and then ate it anyway (and I had to go change).

This is life when you’re cooking with kids in the kitchen, and I’m sure many of you can relate! Plus, my kitchen’s not the tidiest, there are toys littering the background, and the linoleum on my rental apartment floor is truly hideous.

Whatever.

We got dinner made, and that’s the important part!

And here’s the recipe! I don’t usually use a recipe when I make tenders – it’s more of a general thing.

1/2 pound of chicken + 1/2 cup white flour + 1 egg, whisked + 2 tablespoons mustard + 1 cup panko breadcrumbs + 1/2 cup parmesan.

Mix the egg and mustard together in a large bowl. Mix the panko and parmesan together in another large bowl. Dredge the chicken in flour, then the egg/mustard mix, then the parmesan/panko mix.

Fry until golden brown and crispy, and drain on a paper-towel lined plate

or

Bake in a 400*F preheated oven, on top of a cookie rack lining a sheet pan. This helps (facilitate airflow above and below the tenders)

 

YUM! Do your kids loovvveee chicken tenders as much as mine do!?

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie Casserole with Biscuit Topping

Here’s the thing about Thanksgiving that is often overlooked with the planning, prepping and cooking; the dinner is only as good as its leftovers!

I mean, what’s Thanksgiving without leftover turkey sandwiches, pie for breakfast, and figuring out what to do with your leftover cranberry sauce? (I’ve got a great recipe on the way for that one, actually!)

But there are only so many days of turkey sandwiches one can take, right? That’s where I take what we’ve got left… and turn it into leftover turkey pot pie!

I’ll be straight up with you here: this isn’t a super quick recipe, like most of the recipes you’ll find here on Percolate Kitchen. It’s not crazy weeknight friendly, and you can’t throw it together in 20 minutes.

BUT, it’s relatively simple, and each part of the recipe comes together while another part cooks. So it won’t take you half an afternoon to put together – maybe an hour or so.

If you want to make it even faster, you can use precooked vegetables (frozen and thawed, veggies leftover from another meal, or made during a meal prep power hour), and instead of the biscuit topping, use a sheet of puff pastry or phyllo dough. It should bake in about the same length of time, and the instructions are similar: just make sure the veggies are soft and cooked through, the liquid is bubbling at the sides, and the pastry or topping is browned and flaky.

Another variation for when you don’t have leftover turkey

Just use leftover roast chicken! Or chicken thighs browned beforehand and diced. Poached chicken breast, shredded. Poached turkey, diced. use what you have!

The beauty of a pot pie is that it’s crazy amenable to leftovers. That’s the whole idea of the dish!

The only important things I would stress? Potatoes are a must, as far as I’m concerned. Their starchiness adds thickness to the pot pie sauce that is hard to replicate- without them, the dish runs the risk of being too liquidy and soggy.

But seriously? This is not a complicated casserole.

It’s a great way to change up the Thanksgiving flavors that you might be a little, ah, over by Day Three.

AND, and it makes pretty dang good leftovers itself!

That’s like, the inception of leftovers, right? Using leftovers to make a dish and then eating the leftovers to that dish!?

You’re so clever. I knew I liked your brain.

Enjoy your turkey, your family time, and your leftovers. Happy Thanksgiving!

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping
Total Time
1 hr
 
Servings: 6
Author: Ruthy Kirwan
Ingredients
for the casserole:
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 large carrots peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small white onion peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 large russet potatoes washed (about 1 pound) and diced
  • 1/3 cup white flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock/broth
  • 3 cups diced cooked turkey (about 2 pounds)
for the biscuits:
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400*F.
  2. Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add the carrots, onions, garlic, and potatoes and stir to coat.
  3. Whisk in the flour until thick and creamy, then slowly whisk in the chicken stock/broth. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes have softened through.
  4. While the vegetables are cooking, make the biscuits. Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk or sift to combine. Slowly add the milk and stir until the dough is wet and sticky.
  5. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and carefully pat into a large square. Using a sharp knife or a pastry scraper, slice the biscuit into 6 squares/rectangles and let the dough rest for a few minutes.
  6. While the dough is resting, spread the cooked turkey evenly on the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish.
  7. Once the vegetables have softened, remove from heat and pour the mixture evenly over the turkey.
  8. Using a metal pastry scraper or spatula, lift the squares of biscuit dough and arrange on top of the casserole, side by side and evenly spaced, but not touching. Sprinkle the biscuit dough squares with a little salt.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid is bubbling at the sides of the dish, and the biscuits have browned.
  10. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

Pan Seared Spinach Stuffed Chicken and Mushroom Marsala

Ok, so there's everything my family LOVES here; it's an easy one pan chicken weeknight recipe, marsala sauce is so yummy, and she even suggests how you can serve this so KIDS will like it! Pinning for later for busy dinner

An easy one pan chicken recipe with a sauce so delicious, you’ll want to lick the pan clean.

But maybe don’t, because not only is that a little like, you know, germy, but the pan could be hot.

Kind of not really a good look. You know?

But seriously, this is an easy one pan chicken marsala recipe that you’ll want to add to your weeknight recipe repertoire, pronto.

It does have a decent amount of butter and oil, and the base of the sauce is made with marsala wine (obvi), so this is not a low-fat diet recipe you pull out when you’re looking to lose some weight.

But what this easy chicken marsala recipe is is a comforting, delicious, savory and warming weeknight dinner, and I think your family is gonna love it.

You know those kinds of recipes that you just keep in your back pocket for the nights when you want to just… kinda fancy?

That’s this easy one pan chicken marsala, straight up.

The marsala makes it feel ever so fancy, but really it’s just a basic fortified wine you keep in your cupboard so it’s ready when you are. Leave the good wine for drinking. Marsala wine is slightly sweet and makes a way better sauce base.

I know I keep going on about this sauce, but this is another thing I love about it: the sauce is thickened with flour that the chicken has been dredged in, which accelerates the browning of the chicken while adding body to the marsala sauce.

A word about the spinach stuffing; I tested this recipe using frozen chopped spinach, which I found to mix great with the grated parmesan. I haven’t tried using fresh spinach, but if that’s what you have on hand, I think using about a third less than the recipe calls for and roughly chopping it before mixing with the grated parmesan would work just as well.

Oh, and that ‘lick the pan clean’ marsala sauce? It goes best with a simple starch on the side, like egg noodles. There’s a lot of richness from the parmesan and spinach stuffing, plus the buttery marsala sauce, so a mellow starch balances out the dish.

Adding in a mellow starch like egg noodles keeps this easy one pan chicken dish squarely in the kid-friendly camp, as well.

Because hands up if your kid prefers to only eat the boring stuff you serve them and not the actually delicious stuff.

(raises hand)

Which means that this is a dish that keeps the whole family happy!

And in the meantime, who’s got tips on how to actually get my kid to eat dinner?

Um, asking for a friend.

Anyway! Easy one pan chicken marsala with melty cheese and mushrooms for the win!

 

Pan Seared Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Marsala Wine Sauce
Cook Time
20 mins
 
This recipe is inspired by a number of classical recipes, especially spinach stuffed chicken and marsala chicken, but it’s a flavor all its own. Even better? It comes together in an easy 20 minutes, making it a perfect weeknight dinner option. I prefer using pre-chopped frozen spinach in this recipe since I feel it binds best with the grated parmesan. Feel free to play around with fresh spinach in similar quantities, if it’s what you have on hand. Also, I use pre-mixed shredded “Italian blend” cheese in this recipe, which is often just a combination of mozzarella, parmesan, and provolone. If you can’t find a pre-mixed blend of these cheeses, substituting with provolone or mozzarella is fine.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1.5 cup chopped frozen spinach thawed and drained of excess liquid
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup white flour
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock or broth
  • 1 ½ cup marsala wine
  • 8 ounces shredded Italian blend cheese
  • Toothpicks for securing the chicken breasts
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the spinach and grated parmesan and stir to combine.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit in the side of each chicken breast. Season the breasts al over with salt and pepper.
  3. Stuff each breast with about 2 tablespoons spinach and parmesan mixture. Use a toothpick to securely close the opening and set the breasts aside.
  4. In a large, wide saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Stir to combine and heat until the butter has melted.
  5. While the butter is melting, pour the flour onto a plate.
  6. Once the butter has melted, dredge each chicken breast in the flour, coating each side of the breast. Place the chicken breasts in the pan on by one, leaving a small amount of space between each breast.
  7. Cook the breasts in the butter and oil, turning once or twice, until each side has lightly browned.
  8. While the chicken is browning, mix together the chicken broth and marsala wine in a bowl or large measuring cup.
  9. Once the chicken has browned, add the mushrooms to the pan, distributing evenly around the chicken breasts. Pour in the chicken broth and marsala mixture and turn the heat to medium-high.
  10. 10. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let cook 5-8 minutes, or until it has started to reduce, the chicken breasts have cooked through, and the smell of any alcohol from the marsala wine has burned away.
  11. 11. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top of each chicken breast. Let the cheese melt, then remove the pan from the heat and serve.