Friday, February 13, 2015

FF: Cheesy Ranch Chicken

I am excited to roll out my first ever Food Friday.

Cooking is something I've always enjoyed, but it's even more fulfilling with such a big brood to satisfy. I thought it would be fun to spend Fridays, sharing our kitchen with you.

One of my greatest mentors passed away, last year. She improved my life in a hundred different ways, but the single most important thing she ever taught me was over my first meatloaf lesson (which is amazing, by the way). She told me this - Do you want to know the secret to satisfying your husband? What keeps your kids home during adolescence?

Serve the best food.

I've never forgotten her advice and it has helped me shape my own philosophy on dinner:
  1. There has to be variety
  2. It has to taste good
  3. It can't take more than an hour
First you have to understand the dynamics of our family. I'm a working mama, so time is precious and planning is priority. Ben doesn't get home until six, so we are sitting down ready (with pjs on!) by the time he walks in the door. When it comes to the littles - Ty and Missy are picky pants, we liken LJ to a garbage disposal, and Sweet Boy is somewhere in-between. Because I am not an order-to-make restaurant, I've gotten into the practice of making four dishes (main, side, fruit, and veggie) every night to alleviate two of the children from going hungry...most nights.

Here are some rules that have helped us:
  1. Each kiddo has to try every dish - every time, but they can choose not to finish their plate.
  2. No one can request more of anything without finishing their other items first.
  3. Those that finish their plate get to pick a "treat" at the end of dinner. Not only does this help us eat down the candy bowl that tends to stale over the year, but it's also a pretty perfect solution to get the kids to power through their veggies. 
One more thing. We injected a level of excitement several weeks ago when we enacted a rating system for each brand new main dish (I do at least one a week). The boys are on a five-star system (1 = dirt; 5 = best meal ever). My mathematical husband disputed the scale, immediately, declaring need for more granularity, so the two of us rate meals from 1-10.

Now for the food!

Cheesy Ranch Chicken

I found this Table for Seven recipe here.

I paired it with pan-fried asparagus, homemade applesauce (peel and place large chunks of apples in the crockpot with a little bit of cinnamon), and boxed mac 'n cheese (yeah, we do that).

So, YUM, and 4-5 stars from all the boys (a big feat!)


  1. Reading how you do meals it is so clear you guys were just meant to be parents. You know what you're doing!!

  2. Sounds like a great plan to get the kids motivated to eat well at mealtimes!

  3. We have the same rules at our house. I love the rating system- I think we'll be trying that for new meals :) Thanks for sharing the recipe- we're about go vegetarian as a part of season of fasting at our house but I'll save this for when we bring meat into things.
    Cheers, Amber at

  4. I love this! Please keep it up! I definitely need more ideas. :)

  5. I just recently tried making Mac and cheese in my rice cooker of all things. I simply poured milk in the bottom 2-3 inches of the pot (I know scientific) then I put a couple of table spoons of butter and 1/2-2/3 a bag of elbow noodles and a 1-1 1/2 cups of water. Stir in your favorite cheese (smoked cheddar is insane) a dash of salt and hit white rice and wait for it. I also sprinkled in some of the ranch powder my kids eat on their popcorn. The best Mac n cheese ever and super fast prep and clean up.

  6. Made this recipe last week, but used Mayonnaise to coat chicken as I did not have any ranch dressing. This was fabulous. Reminds me of a recipe my Mom used to cook when I was younger, her recipe was for a cheesed stuffed chicken and very complicated. Your recipe was easy. Thank you!