I don't know what is worse, caring for a sick child when you are healthy, or being sick and trying to entertain a healthy child. Based on a recent personal experience, I would argue that the latter is far more difficult. As parents we are all aware that winter is known as "cold season" because germs run riot through every indoor play-space, library and public arena in the greater New York area. The only way to avoid these germs completely would be to live in total seclusion for four months which is, obviously, not an option. When spring arrived last month I wrongly assumed that "cold season" was over, my daughter hadn't had a cold in weeks and I was feeling very proud that I had avoided a bad cold all winter. Suffused with confidence I began to let my guard down, neglecting to wash my hands after toddler gym-class and not replacing the bottle of hand sanitizer for my purse. These were moves, it turns out, I would later regret.
I now know that germs do not depart the northeast upon the arrival of spring weather. I learned this the hard way when I recently woke up very sick and my daughter seemed to be completely healthy. It was a startling reversal of roles, I had to care for myself while protecting my daughter from contracting my germs, not the other way around. All I wanted to do was spend the day in bed, however, all my daughter wanted to do was spend the day playing with her friends. So, armed with tissues, Tylenol and lemon tea I staggered through our daily routine, keeping my distance from other people while silently berating myself for not being more careful. Naturally, while I was sniveling away at the playground, the last thing on my mind was what I was going to make for dinner. Thankfully, when I was about to break down and extract a take-out menu from the drawer I experienced a moment of clarity, this was the perfect occasion for an emergency meal.
Of all the emergency meals I keep up my sleeve, this one, Soyaki Chicken Thighs, is the easiest. It is a simple and satisfying chicken bake made with two ingredients which I always have in my kitchen, chicken thighs from the freezer and marinade from the pantry. Like all good emergency meals it is simultaneously uncomplicated to prepare and delicious to eat. Preparing this during naptime is breeze, barely requiring any effort on the part of the preparer. I simply season the chicken thighs, place them in baking dish, pour the marinade over and let them sit for the remainder of the afternoon. At dinnertime I slip the dish in the oven to bake, prepare my side dishes, and wait for the oven timer to ring.
I love this dish because chicken thighs are incredibly moist and tasty, perfect for absorbing the flavors of the marinade. I also find that chicken thighs hold up better than chicken breasts when they are baked, they stay juicy and tender instead of getting tough and dry. As noted in the recipe my marinade of preference is Trader Joe's Island Soyaki. It makes the chicken taste almost identical to the sesame chicken served at our local chinese restaurant, only less greasy and more flavorful. (In fact, the chef at the chinese restaurant really should consider using Island Soyaki, it would probably improve their dish.) If you don't have access to this sauce I would recommended substituting it with Soy Vay Teriyaki Sauce, which is readily available in most grocery stores nationwide. I don't want to make any bold claims like this dish was responsible for my recovery, however, I am not going to dismiss the idea, either. After all, by the time I woke up the next morning I was already feeling much better.
Naptime Soyaki Chicken Thighs
6 chicken thighs, thawed
8 oz. Trader Joe's Island Soyaki (or, Soy Vay Teriyaki if TJ's is unavailable)
Salt & Pepper
1. Remove chicken thighs from package, trim fat, rinse with water and pat dry.
2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place in large baking dish.
3. Pour the marinade over the chicken, swirling it around with your hands to make the chicken is entirely coated and mostly covered.
4. Let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
5. Preheat oven to 375.
6. Bake chicken at 375 for 45-50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
Naptime Recipe Props: This recipe is a breeze to prepare which is why it is great in an emergency. If you can open a bottle and pour, you can make this meal for which your entire family will be grateful. If you feel adventurous you can certainly add more seasoning to the chicken, just be careful because the marinade is already very flavorful. I like to serve this with jasmine rice and a green salad on the side.
Naptime Stopwatch: The chicken takes about 5 minutes to prepare. The baking time is usually about 45 minutes and dinner is served. I think this dish takes the shortest time of any to make, it is definitely worth keeping in your roster when you need an easy meal to make for your family.
Naptime Reviews: My whole family loves this dish, even my in-law's and parents. It is great for children, too, my daughter loves the little chicken pieces which she mixes with the rice before eating.