All you need is a Cookie Sheet!
I am sure you have read blog articles all about the post-baby cooking boycott that most moms participate in. When I was about to be a mom, my full intention was to rely on the stack of take out menus that I had been collecting throughout my pregnancy. However, 2 weeks after my son was born, my husband went back to work and the meal train stopped. The idea of having to load said newborn into the car just to drive 5 minutes from my home to pick up food (that would be cold by the time I got him unloaded and settled) just was not very appealing. I will add this- I love to cook. Cooking is (in general) a de-stresser for me. I use it as a creative outlet- a puzzle to solve- when my husband gets home and I can hand off my toddler and focus. However, during this time of new-borndom, cooking was not that for me. I learned quickly that cooking was simply easier than takeout or orchestrating other people to feed you, if you knew what to cook to make the most of your time and effort. I want to share the magical tool that I discovered during this time: the Cookie Sheet. With some simple ingredients and a Cookie Sheet, you can feed your family super healthy meals in a matter of minutes.
Cookie Sheet Dinners
The secret to a cookie sheet dinner is that all of your ingredients have a similar cooking time. For instance- if you are going to roast asparagus, you can’t expect to roast a whole baking potato for the same amount of time. Keeping in mind that root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets…etc.) need a longer time to cook than stock vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower…etc.) which need a longer time to cook than leafy vegetables (kale, chard, collards…etc.), you can always throw together a very healthy and satisfying meal in minutes. By keeping some go-to seasoning mixes on hand, you can make adding flavor to your meal simple as well. Here’s How:
-Cut Root vegetables into 1 inch pieces and place to one side of your foiled and greased cookie sheet
- Break down stock vegetables (cut broccoli or cauliflower into florets, snap off root ends of asparagus…etc.) or leafy greens (chop with ribs included down to the bottom of the leaves) and add to center of the cookie sheet
- Use boneless proteins, portioned out, (My favorites are Chicken Tenders, salmon fillets, or turkey burgers) and add them to the opposite end of the cookie sheet
- Use a generous drizzle of olive oil and add seasoning mix over top. Some of my favorites are Spice Island Garlic and Herb, McCormicks Taco Seasoning, and Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning.
- Bake contents of cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 30 minutes
Some of my favorite combinations for cookie sheet dinners are as follows:
- Multi Color Bell Peppers, butter nut squash, turkey burgers and Taco Seasoning (add avocado to serve. Yum!)
- Broccoli, yellow potatoes, chicken tenders and Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning (drizzle ranch dressing over the top to serve- so good)
- Asparagus, Beets, Flank Steak and Garlic and Herb seasoning (turn the broiler on for 5 minutes at the end for a more “grilled” taste. My family likes it topped with Pesto and Goat cheese!)
- Corn on the cob (halved), sweet potatoes, chicken tenders with Mesquite seasoning. (add barbeque sauce and cheese over the chicken and sweet potatoes and serve the corn on the side! Roasting the corn gives it such a sweet flavor and soft texture. This is a summer favorite.)
You can really get creative with these. Who says it has to be veggies…you can roast fruit if you like a little sweet with your savory! Make it fun. What I love is you can almost always come up with a cookie sheet dinner based on whatever you ALREADY have in your fridge. To be honest, this is a must-have tool in any moms tool belt, whether she has a newborn or not. There is something about the way that you feel about yourself when you are able to get dinner on the table yourself- crazy kiddos and all.
I hope you enjoy!
- Jennifer Akiyama