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I have fond and not so fond memories of being a mother to three school age children. At one stage I had three at three different schools and the driving around seemed endless.

Often after picking up the last one, the three of them would ask in unison “What’s for dinner Mum!” and I would try to sound confident that the meal that they were looking forward to was going to be to their liking. There are some tricks I would like to share with you and hopefully these will help making dinners for hungry families easier. When you go shopping for your meat, chicken or fish, bring it home and before you put it in the freezer of fridge, marinade it.

It makes all the difference to the taste of the meal. If you are not sure what you are going to do with this meat, just marinade it in garlic and lemon juice. You will be surprised how succulent the chicken, meat of fish becomes.

The other tip I learnt was never plate up the meal. People have different appetites and different tastes so if you put the meal in the middle of the table and allow everyone to serve themselves, it stops all the moaning about not wanting to eat it all or that someone doesn’t want to eat the salad etc. Often a child of mine would start with a very small portion but once they decided it was tasty would come back for more.

This recipe is from the Chocolate and Zucchini  website. I have written about the author, Clotilde before and told you how this was the first food blog I visited. I loved her recipes and here lifestyle and of course, you know I LOVE PARIS, which is where Clotilde lives. If you marinade the chicken overnight or longer as the recipe suggests the chicken is sweet and delicious. The other great thing about this recipe is you just pop it into the oven and you can help the kids with their home work while it is cooking! Serve it with a big salad and some crusty bread and there you are, another great meal has been served!

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I also like this recipe as prunes are part of the ingredient list. I think the prune is overlooked when it comes to ingredients. The french enjoy prunes in many recipes, as they add so much flavour to a meal and are full of goodness.

This is Clotilde’s recipe with a few of my changes. I didn’t add the flaked almonds in these photos but they are a lovely addition.

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Recipe

Caramelized Chicken with Green Olives and Prunes

– 8 free-range chicken pieces, thighs and drumsticks are best
– 130g  green olives
– 300g pitted prunes, roughly chopped into quarters
– 3 cloves garlic, crushed
– 4 bay leaves
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
– 3 rounded tablespoons dried oregano
– Fine sea salt, freshly ground pepper
– 3 tablespoons brown sugar
– 1/4 cup dry white wine
– the leaves from 1 small bunch of continental parsley
– 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Serves 10 to 12.

Start the recipe the night before. In a bowl, combine the chicken, olives, prunes, garlic, and bay leaves. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, and oregano. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Pour over the chicken, and combine until the marinade coats the chicken thoroughly; it works immeasurably better if you use your hands. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator an hour before baking. Preheat the oven to 180°C . Place the chicken in a baking dish large enough to accommodate it in a single layer.

Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken, sprinkle with the sugar, and add the white wine. Place in the oven and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hour, basting and turning every 20 minutes or so, until the juices run clear, the meat is caramelized.

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