Motivational Monday: Healthy home cooking is fun!

In honor of Labor Day, I wanted to make something for a late lunch that did not involve labor (since I’d spent a lot of time in the kitchen the previous two days, and it looked like a canning factory exploded in there yesterday).

Enter the humble chicken.

I’ve heard it said many a time that roast chicken is one of the easiest meals around, but my experiences in that genre of cooking never quite matched up. Well, allow me to officially chime in that roasting a chicken is easy and fun! And delicious!

I rinsed the chicken inside and out (after reaching my bare hand inside to pull out the neck and organs, which was a huge moment for me…usually I would wear disposable gloves, while crying “Ewwwwwww!), put in in my big Le Creuset roaster on top of three celery stalks, liberally ground salt and pepper over it, stuffed two quartered lemons inside and placed rosemary sprigs (from the garden) around it, like so:

Then I put it in a preheated 475-degree oven for 30 minutes. Then, without opening the door, I turned the temperature down to 375 degrees. That gave me this:

The chicken is supposed to sit for 15 minutes before carving, but I put the lit on to keep in the heat so I could roast a pan of mixed vegetables:

Potatoes, summer squash, eggplant and onion. Sprinkled with olive oil, then tossed to mix. I turned the oven up to 400 degrees, popped in the pan, stirred them around after 15 minutes, then left them in for 15 minutes more. Times may vary, depending on your oven. Salt and pepper to finish.

I served the chicken and veggies with a dollop of pesto that I made on Saturday. There’s lots of leftovers for lunches, and I’ll use the chicken carcass to make chicken soup tomorrow night (while that step is economical, it’s hardly necessary).

This was insanely easy, and insanely good. I love to cook…unless I’m under pressure when I’m cooking. Right now I have more time to cook, but that will change rapidly once the new school term starts and I’m juggling class and work. This simple roast chicken and vegetables meal is something I can confidently put on my menu whenever I need something that feels a little special, but without much in the way of prep time.

If you’re used to picking up fast food or takeout, cooking at home can seem daunting, but not impossible. The key is to build a small roster of meals that might need some time in the oven or on the stove, but not a lot of hands on time. When you make the switch to simple-but-healthy home cooking, your wallet and your waistline will thank you.