Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Meal with Olives, Eggplant and Feta

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I’ve spoken to no less than 5 people in the last week who have never even heard of sheet pan meals. To which I whip out this incredibly easy chicken sheet pan dish, raise my arms to the heavens, and sing the praises of a dish that literally goes from cutting board to tabletop in like, 20 minutes. Tops.

All that to say if you’re not on the sheet pan meal train yet then choo-choo, mama. Because finding a simple chicken sheet pan meal – or any sheet pan meal, really- is gonna suddenly make your weeknight cooking so much easier.

The beauty of a sheet pan meal is threefold:

  • It has to be simple, or else it won’t cook right
  • The best sheet pan meals contain a veggie, a protein, and a sauce (that’s it!)
  • You have one pan to wash at the end of it all. And if you line your sheet pan with tin foil, you have no pans to wash at the end of it all.

Here’s me, after successfully cooking this Greek chicken sheet pan meal the other night, and discovering it only took 20 total minutes from start to finish:

It’s that easy.

Of course, you can’t just throw a bunch of ingredients on a sheet pan and hope for the best. There are a handful of rules that should be followed for maximum quality:

Use a heavy bottom sheet pan. That is- not a jelly roll pan, not a cookie sheet. A strong, durable, rimmed sheet pan. I got these Analon-brand pans in my wedding registry almost 10 years ago and they are still holding up like champs. In fact, they’ve gotten better with time.

Make sure your ingredients are all cut or prepared in a way that makes them cook in the same amount of time. 

Case in point: This Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Meal I’m highlighting in the recipe at the bottom of this post. I took one of those gargantuan chicken breasts and sliced it in half, so each piece was about the same size- this ensures even cooking.

Then I paired the chicken with eggplant, a veggie that roasts well but not super quickly. By chopping the eggplant into ½” slices, it ensured they were the right size to roast to a perfect texture alongside the chicken. Bigger, or thinner, or smaller slices would have cooked differently. So until you’re comfortable with cooking times of various ingredients, make sure you find recipes from people you trust and follow their recommendations.

✅ While the pan’s in the oven, make a quick side. 

I like serving my sheet pan meals with something starchy on the side, like boiled potatoes, or cheesy grits. While the sheet pan is in the oven, I make the starch quickly on the stovetop.

Or I just, you know, don’t do any extra cooking and use the time to chillax with my family and start unwinding at the end of a long ass day. You totally have permission to do that as well, mama.

✅ Line it up.

We had a big discussion in my Busy Mamas Cooking Facebook group the other day regarding reusable silicone sheet pan liners: are they worth it? While I personally don’t own any, I think they’re pretty cool to have and they definitely are cheaper than buying tin foil all the time. Regardless of whether you use reusable liners or tin foil, line your sheet pan for super easy cleanup.

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Greek Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

This simple chicken sheet pan meal comes together easily, making it a great weeknight dinner! Serve with a side of rice pilaf or a big leafy salad.


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 pound boneless (skinless chicken (thighs or breast))
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted black or green olives
  • 1 large eggplant (ends trimmed and cut into big dice)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 450*F.
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
  3. In a small bowl, add the paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper and mix with a fork to combine.
  4. Rub the chicken thighs with olive oil, then place on the sheet pan, leaving an inch or so of space between each thigh. Sprinkle evenly with the spice mix, and rub the spice mix evenly into the thighs.
  5. Scatter the eggplant and olives around the chicken, and use tongs to toss and combine. Spread all ingredients in the pan in one even layer.
  6. Place the pan(s) in the oven and roast, 12-15 minutes, until eggplant has browned and the chicken is cooked completely through (juices from the chicken will run clear when sliced with a sharp knife)
  7. Sprinkle the entire pan with the crumbled feta, transfer to a serving platter, and serve.

Weeknight Kimchi Fried Rice with Leftover Vegetables

Click for my disclosures page

. This post is sponsored by VeeTee Rice. 

Kimchi Fried Rice is super easy to whip up on a weeknight for dinner, and it’s a great way to use up leftover ingredients hanging around in the fridge.

The spicy, umami flavor of kimchi tossed in fried rice elevates the dish and perks it up, while being good for your gut health at the same time!

 

And using VeeTee Rice is a super easy way to make fried rice, which is always best when made with slightly old, dried out rice. Since VeeTee is a parcooked, microwaveable rice, it’s cooked just enough and dry just enough to toast and caramelize the rice, making this dish a perfect “I’m in the mood for fried rice” option that you don’t have to think ahead for.

I’ll also confess that I have a major soft spot for kimchi, which is a Korean style of spicy pickle.

Koreans add kimchi to tons of different dishes, and it’s so good for you. If you’re thinking about hopping on the fermented foods bandwagon, kimchi is a great place to start.

Where we live in New York City, kimchi is really easy to find. You can even grab a jar in our local bodega/deli!

However, if it’s not something that’s found in your neck of the woods and you’d like to try it, I’ve used this recipe from The Kitchn to make my own before, and it’s crazy simple. You can purchase gochugaru, a Korean style of chili flakes, on Amazon.

If you’re used to getting your fermented goodness from things like sauerkraut or kombucha but you haven’t given kimchi a try, I really recommend it. It’s a cool, pickle-y, spicy flavor that adds so much to any recipe. My favorite way is on the side of my scrambled eggs in the morning!

Remember the secret I just told you, about how the perfect fried rice, kimchi fried rice or otherwise, starts with slightly old and dried out rice?

It’s by losing its moisture that puts rice in its best position to be fried, so VeeTee’s pre-cooked Heat and Eat Single Flavor packages are a great pantry option to keep on hand for nights when you’re in the mood to whip up a batch of fried rice.

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Weeknight Kimchi Fried Rice

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

In this particular recipe, I used roasted broccoli I had made earlier in the week as part of my power hour meal prep sesh.

if using fresh broccoli: about 1 1/2 cups fresh florets, chopped fine.

I didn’t know how I would use it that when I was prepping, but chopped broccoli florets were on sale at Fresh Direct this week, so I bought two packages and roasted them up on Sunday.

I love the way roasted broccoli takes on almost a popcorn-y flavor, and it’s so good to have on hand as an addition to meals, or just as a side dish.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 small onion (diced (about 1 cup diced))
  • 2 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 1 package VeeTee Heat and Eat Long Grain Rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup chopped prepared kimchi
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/3 cup green peas
  • 1 cup roasted broccoli (see note if using fresh)

Instructions

  1. Combine vegetable oil and sesame oil and heat until shimmering in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions have gone translucent and the carrots have softened, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and break apart with a wooden spoon. Toast the rice, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes or until it has started to brown.
  4. Add the kimchi,, garlic, ginger powder, peas and broccoli and cook, stirring to combine, another 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables have heated through.
  5. Remove from heat and serve,

Ground Chicken Burger with Olives and Black Pepper Mayo

Click to see my disclosures page. 

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.

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 topped 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!

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Chicken and Green Olive Burger with 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

  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.

Meal Prep Recipes for Beginners: Thai Larb Rice Bowls

This post sponsored by Farm Promise Pork. Click here to see my disclosures and privacy policy. 

Are you new to the idea of meal prepping work lunches for the workweek? Easy meal prep recipes for beginners can feel hard to come by.


READChili-Lime Tuna Salad Pita Pockets (Low-Carb Make-Ahead Lunch Idea!)


Thai Larb Gai is a traditional meal from Laos, an area in Thailand. On your typical Western-style Thai restaurant menu, it’s usually served as seasoned ground meat with red onions and other veggies, on a bed of lettuce and drizzled with a bright and zesty lime dressing.

I took that standard appetizer dish, layered it with rice, and turned into a perfect working lunch.

These Thai-style rice bowls make an awesome meal prep recipe for beginners, and they come together quickly. Plus, they taste even better as the week goes on!

Bonus: this meal prep recipe works as a hot or cold lunch option! This means you don’t have to have lunchtime access to a microwave or stove in order to enjoy it #LunchtimeWins

I mean, those pretty bowls on Pinterest look like they take forever to assemble!

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m not on any special diet or meal plan, like paleo, 21-Day Fix, Whole30, etc. And sometimes it seems like every meal prep recipe out there is geared specifically to some sort of diet or meal plan.

Don’t get me wrong; diets and special meal plans are awesome for some.

But when I go to search my Pinterest boards or Google for meal prep recipe ideas, I find myself wading through bodybuilder and paleo sites and have trouble finding what I want: a make-ahead lunch that is simple, tasty, and portable.

That’s why I’m starting a new series of recipes, for those of us who want make-ahead lunches but aren’t especially following a specific diet or meal plan. And to kick off this series, I’ve teamed up with Farm Promise pork to make these crazy easy, super delicious Thai Larb Rice Bowls.

A big part of what makes these Thai Larb Rice Bowls so good is using quality pork from Farm Promise.

Farm Promise recently reached out to me to see if I would be interested in developing recipes highlighting their new pork products, which are sold in ShopRite stores throughout the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.

Once I looked a little more into their standards and promises and discovered what a quality brand they are, the offer was an easy one to agree to.

You guys know that I’m not one to advocate for a specific brand or company unless I 1,000% believe in it. It’s simply not worth my time or yours to recommend a product I’m not excited about.

But Farm Promise is good stuff. Farm Promise farmers don’t use antibiotics in feed for their pigs. They’re raised humanely on family farms, fed a vegetarian diet, and are raised without growth promotants.

Basically, it’s farming like it should be, on local farms run by families that care about their products. And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy, either.

To make these Thai Larb Rice Bowls, ground pork is browned in a hot pan with brown sugar, garlic, and lemongrass paste.

After the pork browns in the pan, it’s taken off the heat and tossed with a simple lime juice, fish sauce, and basil dressing.

Divide the pork over cooked rice, and you’re good to go! If you’ve already got rice prepared, the whole dish comes together in about 10 or 12 minutes. (so easy!) 

It’s the perfect amount of food for 4 on-the-small-side lunches; if you’re serving this dish for dinner, it makes enough for 2.

Meal prep for work lunches = never easier.

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Thai Larb Meal Prep Bowls

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minute
  • Total Time: `
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 pound Farm Promise ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 leaves basil (roughly chopped)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Thai chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups basmati or white long grain rice

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package.
  2. Cook onions in the oil over medium heat until they have started to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and lemongrass paste and stir, cooking until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the brown sugar and stir until melted, then immediately add the pork to the pan. Cook, breaking the pork up with a wooden spoon as it browns until the pork is cooked through completely and no pink parts remain.
  5. While the pork is cooking, combine the lime juice, basil, fish sauce and (optional) Thai chili paste in a small bowl, stirring to mix.
  6. After the pork is cooked through, remove the pan from heat and stir in the lime juice mixture.
  7. Divide the rice into four meal prep containers (or bowls, if serving immediately). Top each container with an even amount of the pork mixture.
  8. Cool to room temperature, then store, tightly covered and in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

If you’re new to meal prepping, you’ll LOVE my Meal Prep Power Hour Worksheet. It breaks down exactly how you can plan, prep, and cook a week’s worth of lunches and dinners- in only 60 minutes!

Leave your name and email below, and I’ll send it to you straight away.

How to Make Overnight Oats for Breakfast so You Can Actually Get Out the Door on Time

 

Today, my busy lovelies, I’m going to teach you how to make overnight oats for breakfast so you can actually get up, get out, and not be running late on an empty stomach for once.

You’ve probably heard some fuss about overnight oats and how they can save you time, money, and extra calories in the mornings. It’s true! Overnight oats are a fab option for busy people breakfasts since they are literally made while you sleep.

Overnight oats can save you a ridiculous amount of time in the mornings, and as a bonus, they are super customizable, easy to make, and a great make-ahead prep recipe!

Here’s why learning how to make overnight oats can save you morning time hassles.

I’ve long struggled with eating breakfast; I’m rarely hungry in the morning and would prefer just coffee.

But I know breakfast is important, and if I don’t eat it, I usually wind up a hangry, shouty mommy by like 9am.

Not good.


Read: Make-Ahead Smoothie Bags for the Freezer


I kept hearing how amazing overnight oats were, but I was hesitant to try it out since, like, cold oatmeal? Um, no.

But my son loves oatmeal and I was sick of making it from scratch in the mornings, so I gave an overnight oats recipe a whirl.

They’re more filling than a bowl of cereal or a slice of toast, and I can create individual options for my kids based on their tastes. PBJ for one, brown sugar and walnuts for the other, fruit-topped for me.

Or we could all eat the same flavor instead. No one will die from the lack of variety. But that’s not nearly as Pinterest-y, now, is it? 😉

These little overnight oats in a jar are also a fab grab-and-go breakfast item. Kinda like this Overnight Chia Pudding, you can whip up a batch during a weekend Power Hour prep sesh and line them up in your fridge for the week.

Since they do all their ‘cooking’ while you sleep, it’s the ultimate in easy prep!


Read: Blueberry-Maple Chia Overnight Pudding

Does it matter which oats you use?

In a word, no.

Personally, I prefer steel-cut oats to rolled oats, since I like the chewy, hearty texture.

But rolled oats are the standard style of oats most “experts” (ahem, other foodies) recommend when teaching how to make overnight oats, so that’s the more “traditional” choice.

1-minute or quick oats are generally not recommended since they get super soggy overnight.

How do you store overnight oats?

I prefer to mix up overnight oats plain, with no seasoning other than some salt, and pop the mixture into small, 1-cup Pyrex glass containers since they will stack easier to stack in the fridge. But mason jars are a great place to store overnight oats as well, also.

And, of course, mason jars are way more Instagram-worthy. These are the important details, after all.

Here’s an easy formula to remember how to make overnight oats: 1 Part Oats + 1 Part Liquid + Sit Overnight, then add toppings. 

  • Take one part steel cut oats (which are better for overnight oats since they’re ‘sturdier’ than quick oats)
  • Combine with equal parts liquid (milk, water, even bone broth if you like your oats savory)
  • Shake
  • Sit, overnight if possible
  • Add toppings (nuts, peanut butter, coconut flakes, etc)
  • Enjoy!

Here are 5 easy variations on overnight oats:

Some people like to add the flavorings and toppings beforehand, but I find a lot of toppings don’t hold up well to overnight soaking and can get a little soggy. Experiment and find what you like best!

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Overnight Oats

  • Author: Ruthy Kirwan

Description

  • 1 cup oats ((see note))
  • 2 cup milk ((see note))
  • 1 pinch salt ((about 1/4 teaspoon)

 

 

 


Ingredients

  1. Combine oats, milk, and salt in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, seal, and shake to mix thoroughly.
  2. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Top as desired and enjoy!


Notes

A note on oat types: Steel cut oats will give you a ‘chewier’ and heartier texture (they’re my favorite!) Rolled oats are the standard style used in most overnight oats recipes and bring a more traditionally soft oatmeal texture Quick or 1-minute oats tend to get too soggy when left overnight; these are best used when you want “overnight” oats but forgot to make them the night before 🙂

A note on milk types: Feel free to use any kind of milk here, be it plant-based or animal based. You can also sub in water or even bone broth if you’re going for a savory flavor!

 

3 Genius Ways to Uplevel 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)