Weekday Dinners

Weekday Dinners

capability blog chicken dinner easy weeknight recipesThe summer of no-cook dinners is over and it is time to pull it together and actually use my kitchen to cook. Sigh. Well, I have a few tricks to making weeknight dinners easier and I will share them with you, because I am generous like that. Also, because I am pretty happy that I figured out to do this and am bragging a little bit. Let’s not get carried away, I didn’t split the atom, I just made easy dinners. Still.

First, plan a menu for the week. Hate to do that? I know, me too. Okay. Plan two days out and make the third day an easy default recipe (something you can make with your eyes closed). Here is my Monday-Tuesday solution.

Buy two whole chickens (on sale at Whole foods for 99 cents per pound) and roast them both at the same time. Make one your Monday dinner with roasted veggies. I added potatoes and apples to the pan, any root vegetable would be great or some squash (use a separate pan for squash and apples). Note, the apples will be mush if you leave them in for the whole time, they only take about 30 minutes. Check out Martha for the best recipe, I just tossed them in whole because I’m lazy. My go-to recipe for Perfect Roast Chicken is from The Barefoot Contessa. I ran out of time for the gravy but all was devoured without. Serve with a big green salad.capability blog chicken dinner easy weeknight recipes

The next night use the second chicken for a fun Make Your Own Burrito Night. We always have tortillas, cheese, avocado, rice (we used frozen brown rice) and beans in the house, so all that is needed is some lettuce, salsa and sour cream if that’s how you roll. Feel free to sautee up some onions and peppers if you want to or add some of the roasted veggies from Monday.

Set up a station on the kitchen counter and let everyone build their own. Carve up the chicken and you are good to go. For little ones, put small containers on the table filled with the choices you most want them to eat. Have cut up some carrots, cucumbers, celery and peppers on the table for maximum veggie intake.

But Wednesday? What about Wednesday? No, I won’t leave you without. I made pork chops (again from Martha) but I think I am a little in love with Whole Foods for this:

Image from Whole Foods


Mini Turkey Meatloaf and Maple Green Beans Sheet-Pan Dinner

I haven’t tried it yet (found it while I was trying to make sure the Whole Foods whole chickens were still on sale). Yum. My family are recent meatloaf converts and I am running this. Only one pan? I’m there.

Note- we didn’t use all the chicken for Burrito Night so I chopped up the rest for chicken salad. Also, if you are still looking for meals, take the chicken carcasses (never a pretty word), place in water and/or boxed chicken broth with some veggies to make a soup. Add pasta or rice. I use my pressure cooker for this quick soup. So very frugal of me, don’t you think?

A Preschool Mom’s Day

capability mom blogIf you think I have been goldbricking all summer, well, I haven’t. I have posted less frequently mostly because my driving schedule has increased exponentially. I’m happy that my children have found fun things they like to do this summer: sailing, soccer camp, farm camp, culinary camp, but because the camp schedules are so varied and in different towns, no less, I am on borrowed time. Basically I am a preschool mom. If you don’t have preschoolers yet, you don’t know what the heck I am talking about. When you are at home with small children, you are 24/7, that is a given. When they start preschool, you realize you will have three whole hours to yourself! You have plans, big plans, like cleaning the house (including the really big projects washing the walls or windows), planting a garden, reading the paper, reading a book, writing a book, heck, buying a book, grocery shopping alone, starting a part-time job or business, volunteering at your local library, learning a musical instrument, a new language, taking a class, meeting friends, shopping for cute clothes, starting a blog, reading a blog, working out and grabbing a shower. Maybe all of these.

Well…Reality check. You will have time for maybe one of these activities, possibly two and sometimes, well, none. What?! You are just not organized! I can do so much in three hours. Yes, yes, you can except when you can’t. It is unbelievable how fast three hours goes by. You have coffee with a friend, volunteer to help at the school, have to take your car in for service or you have a dentist appointment or a mammogram or the dog throws up and the day is gone and your house does not look like anything on Pinterest. Don’t worry and cut yourself some slack. Some days are easier/better/sunnier than others, it’s okay.

When your dear ones go on to elementary school and you have six or more hours. Okay, now you are talking, now you have some time. The activities above, you can do three, four or more, some days, still none. I know, weird. Now, picture his not-superbly organized and slight germaphobe mom of two who have been in school for 6 hours a day for about 10 years reduced to a 3 hour day with increased driving responsibilities and work. You can understand why I am a little more frazzled and off my game (this is supposing I had a game before) and my house looks nothing like anything on Pinterest (my pretend house is lovely).

capability mom blog favorite cleaning reference book
Great Resource

So…What can you do in three hours? A walk and a shower and a quick sandwich. Run errands in something I like to call Speed of Sound Time (errands without children of any age). Start a cleaning project but break it up into manageable bits so you don’t get overwhelmed (I cleaned my kitchen including pantry and inside all cabinets and drawers by breaking out a one hour block each day – sure it took me a week – better than your spending your entire Saturday doing it). Sneak in reading time – bring a book or magazine to pick up at school or camp, if you get there early (I wish) you can read a few pages.

What else can you do? Get something reupholstered (okay, you do have time to pick out fabric and drop it off) – you can recover dining room chairs with some fabric and a staple gun…great tutorials at Design Sponge. Renew your driver’s license or passport including new photo. Read about home keeping (so much more fun than actually keeping home). Plan meals for the week and grocery shop alone – it is cheaper to go solo, you only have your impulse purchases to contend with.

Most importantly – Recharge. Do whatever you like to do that makes you happy. A book, a run, yoga, a coffee, music that you choose, time with friends, time alone – anything that makes you energized. You are going to need it for the other 10-12 hours left in your day!


Papersalt – Family Friendly, Positive and Gorgeous – A Review

papersalt books - capability mom blogpapersalt books capability mom blog I just received these lovely books from Papersalt and love everything about them, the paper is nicer than standard cardstock, the colors are gorgeous, the graphics creative and the messages are spot on. Wow, imagine how I would gush if they paid me to write this (which they most assuredly did not). I did receive four books to review being a girl, being a boy,take the stairs and dinner table manners. I had a tough time deciding because the messages are so lovely and delivered in such a creative and simple way. Positive, helpful and sweet – the books are a pleasure to handle and you can write in them, too.

My family liked the taking the stairs and dinner table manners because there was more concrete information (Eat like you have hours) but I liked them all. I probably should have asked for the teen books if I wanted a better family review. Maybe that will be a future post!

Papersalt produces these books to help families get moving, get talking, and be positive. All of the messages and affirmations are wonderful and accessible for even the youngest children) and even families with older kids need a gentle reminder or two…our family needs this one from time to time.

capability mom loves papersalt bookscapability mom loves papersalt booksVisit Papersalt online to find more great books and their lovely blog with posts like The Skirt I Shouldn’t Have Worn To School  by Marina Orievsky which I may just forward to all of my friends with girls.

Making the transition into high school can be difficult for some girls. High school is an experience that you go into feeling all grown up and come out of only to reflect on just how much you’ve learned and how much you still have yet to learn. Being at a new school around older kids has added pressures for “fitting in.” For me, I wanted to look like all the other girls who came to school with a full face of makeup and wearing six-inch long Abercrombie skirts in the winter. The whole idea seemed silly to me but I couldn’t help but take on a “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” approach. This is an excerpt – to read the rest of this post go to




Dennis Lehane, Mitchell Zuckoff and a room of 250 women…

Mostly women, anyway. It’s true…there were a few men but mostly women as usual. A room full of book loving, library supporting women. Everyone was in spring finery but with a touch of wool – it is New England, after all.

It was the 28th annual Book and Author luncheon – yesterday. It was, as always, one of my favorite events. Both Dennis Lehane and Mitchell Zuckoff were personable, engaging and funny. Mitchell Zuckoff gave a slide presentation (he even brought his own A/V equipment – got to love that) which had us on the edge of our seats which was a precarious place to be because we were also laughing so hard – Caution!  Falling library ladies!

Not to be outdone, Dennis Lehane took the stage and charmed the room as well. He is a consummate storyteller and shared how he became one (with a special shout out to libraries) as well as some great stories. What a treat! With books for sale from New England Mobile Book Fair, a nicely presented lunch, (the chicken was good, the salmon looked okay but I heard the veggie plate needs work) and the authors generously staying to sign every last copy, it was a lovely day. The staff of The Newton Marriott is always wonderful and it has been newly renovated and looks fresh and bright.

Put it on your calendar for next year – This is a not to be missed event!mitchell zuckoff, dennis leahane and a room full of 250 women

It’s the 28th Annual Friends of the Newton Free Library Book and Author Luncheon at the newly renovated Boston-Newton Marriott Hotel. Both Dennis Lehane and Mitchell Zuckoff will speak (a definite treat) and sign books after lunch (which is always delicious), really. So don’t say you weren’t invited. It evens ends at 2:45 so Moms can make pick up at school. Grab your book group and join us – it is a really nice event.

The Friends of the Newton Free Library invite you to attend

The 28th Annual

Book and Author Luncheon


Friday, May 11, 2012

Cash Bar 11:00 am

Luncheon 12:00 pm

Speakers and Book Signing will follow the luncheon

Newton Marriott Hotel Ballroom

2345 Commonwealth Avenue

Newton, MA


The Friends of the Library are proud to present Dennis Lehane and Mitchell Zuckoff at the 28th Book and Author Luncheon.

Dennis Lehane grew up in Boston. Since his first novel, A Drink Before the War, won the Shamus Award, he has published eight more novels with William Morrow & Co. that have been translated into more than 30 languages and become international bestsellers: Darkness, Take My Hand; Sacred; Gone, Baby, Gone; Prayers for Rain; Mystic River; Shutter Island; The Given Day; and Moonlight Mile. Morrow also published Coronado, a collection of five stories and the play, “Coronado” which has received stage productions in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Genoa, Italy. Three of his novels – Mystic River, Gone, Baby, Gone and Shutter Island – have been adapted into award-winning films.

Mr. Lehane and his wife, Angie, divide their time between the West Coast of Florida and Boston.

Mitchell Zuckoff is a professor of journalism at Boston University. He is the author of Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II. Published in April 2011, the book spent more than two months on The New York Times’ bestseller list and was named one of the Best Books of 2011 by,, The Washington Post, The Seattle Times, Entertainment Weekly, Apple’s iBookstore, Kirkus Reviews and others.

His previous books are: Robert Altman: The Oral Biography; Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend, and Choosing Naia: A Family’s Journey. He is co-author of Judgment Ridge: The True Story Behind the Dartmouth Murders. His magazine work has appeared in The New Yorker, Fortune, and other national and regional publications.

Zuckoff is a former special projects reporter for The Boston Globe, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting. He received the Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Livingston Award for International Reporting, the Heywood Broun Award, and the Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award, among other national honors. He has won the 2012 Winship/PEN New England Award for Nonfiction

He received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri, where he was an O.O. McIntyre Fellow, and was a Batten Fellow at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. A native of New York, he lives in Newton, Mass., with his wife, Boston Globe photographer Suzanne Kreiter, and their two daughters.

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iUpdated Post – 5/12/12

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