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Yesterday, when I answered Molly's simple question about magazines, I laughed when I realized that four of the six I receive are about food (Everyday Food, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine) and one always has some good food in it (Martha Stewart Living).  Even number six (House Beautiful) has recipes in it.  Add to that a huge collection of cook books and you might think I like to cook.  And I do!  Both Fatty and I enjoy spending time in the kitchen and we love to try interesting taste combinations and new recipes.  The problem is the kids.  Like many other moms, I struggle to find nutritious meals that are kid friendly and still satisfy grown up tastes.  The pre-dinner hour is normally hectic so I like meals during the week to be basic enough for me to manage it in a small amount of hands on time.  I can tackle the fussier recipes and exotic ingredients on the weekend.

Right now, we have two meals in our rotation that everyone loves.  The first is Tuscan Lemon Chicken from Ina Garten's Back to Basics cookbook.  The second is Chicken Tacos from the October 2008 issue of Everyday Food.  After making both of these recipes numerous times, I have tweaked them to suit our family and can now make both of them without consulting the recipes.  Here is what I do.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten
(click here for the original recipe)

1 whole chicken cut into eight pieces, bone in, skin on
(You can use whatever pieces you prefer – we sometimes just choose thighs)
2 or 3 lemons
1/3 c olive oil
a couple sprigs of rosemary, chopped
4 or more cloves of garlic, chopped
kosher salt
pepper

The night before make the marinade by combining the zest of two lemons with the olive oil and 1/3 cup lemon juice.  Add the rosemary, garlic and pepper. (I use freshly ground pepper and totally eyeball it – I'm guessing it's about 1/2 tsp.).  Generously salt the chicken and place in a shallow dish.  Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate overnight.

Pull the chicken out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you are ready to cook it.  In the cookbook, Ina calls for grilling, but we roast it in the oven.  I turn my oven to 425 degrees on convection bake and roast for 40 to 45 minutes.

We often use any leftovers for a salad or for sandwiches.  Emily makes hers with parsley instead of rosemary and she grills it.  Super easy and really tasty, even for my pickiest eater.

Chicken Tacos adapted from Everyday Food, October 2008
(original recipe here)

1.5 to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 c roasted tomato jarred salsa (I buy the Frontera Grill Roasted Tomato at Whole Foods)
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp. chile powder
salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, coating the chicken.  Cook in a slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.  When the chicken is finished, shred with two forks and serve with your favorite taco toppings.

I often eat this on top of lettuce with salsa and a side of black beans and rice.  Leftovers make great quesadilla filling.

So there you have it- two sure-fire crowd pleasers.  What are yours?

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