Wednesday Families, You Asked For It

Knowing I had 4:30 and 5:30 classes to teach on Wednesday, this past week I managed to pull myself together earlier in the day and get something simmering on the stove to be ready for dinner. Mind you, this does not always happen, particularly on a day when Miss-Almost-Two-Years-Old decides not to take a nap. Yes, many a Wednesday evening will find Ian throwing a frozen pizza in the oven while I finish classes.

The Our Time classes have been having a lot of fun “cooking” also!

This week, as I said, I did get the stove fired up and a pot of spaghetti sauce on the go. After class I was directly told by a couple of moms that this one needs to be posted. (I think they were just really hungry but here it is anyway.) Keep in mind that I make BIG batches of this kind of stuff and fill up the freezer for an option to those frozen pizzas.

1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
3-4 stalks celery chopped (small so Daddy doesn’t know it is there) Throw in the leaves too.
3-4 onions roughly chopped
8 or so cloves of garlic pressed
2-3 bay leaves
3 Tbl basil
3 Tbl oregano
2 Tbl marjoram
1 Tbl crushed red pepper flakes
ground black pepper
2 lb. ground chuck, browned and drained
1/2 cup red wine
several shakes of Tabasco sauce
several Tbls of Worschester sauce

In the morning or shortly after lunch I spend a little time chopping and opening cans then walk by every now and again and stir. Everything doesn’t have to go in all at once. I usually get the cans and most of the veggies and herbs in then go take care of STUFF and every now and again come back and add something else. This works for my ultra distracted way of life! I do turn OFF the stove to go run errands, pick up and deliver kids, etc. Just remember to turn it back on when you come in. The smell will usually remind you!

When I find it on sale I buy the big packs of ground chuck, cook it up and put it in the freezer. This is great for something like this because you don’t have to stand over the stove on sauce making day. If I have leftover veggies sitting in the fridge I will often throw those in. Half a zucchini, last nights green beans, shredded carrots, it all works. I often add a few more garlic cloves towards the end for a fresh garlic kick. In our house you can’t really have too much garlic.

Even the Seafood Hater Ate This One!

Ok, maybe he was just really hungry after having such a beautiful day which was not too hot to play outside. They both took full advantage and played with some neighborhood kids ALL DAY outside! Yeah!! One of the things that has always seemed wrong to me as a transplanted northerner is that kids never play outside all summer! They might get the notion but less than 10 minutes and they are back inside. The flip side of this is that, yes, you can go to the park and play for hours after school in January and February.

So here is the relatively quick meal I came up with after getting home from a meeting at 5:30 and having to sit down with the baby until almost 6 before even taking anything out of the fridge.

I started with one of those boxed Near East rice mixes. I chopped up some sun dried tomatoes and threw those in while it cooked.

Thaw some frozen spinach and squeeze the excess water out of it. Saute in some olive oil and add some chunks of feta cheese. Heat until the cheese mostly melts into the spinach.

I had some catfish and fresh basil that needed using so this is a variation of something I found on Epicurious.

4 catfish filtes
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic

Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Mix all the other ingredients and spoon over the fish. Broil the fish without turning until done.

Ta-da! Did it take 10 minutes to get it all done? No, but you know the story on that!

What’s For Dinner?

Here we go with something new. I’m going to try and put up something about how I occasionally get some bits of somewhat healthy food into my kids. Did you even know I like to cook? Really, I do.

Do I cook? Well, these days it is not as often as I might like. Note that I do not consider opening a can of soup or heating up a frozen pizza cooking. Why don’t I cook as often as I used to? Well, I sometimes refer to them as Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3. You see, once you have 3 of them the names become meaningless, “whoever you are – just do it!”

I have piles of wonderful cookbooks and I watch the cooking shows, some of them anyway. I love Top Chef. Rachel Ray and her 30 minute meals are REALLY appealing. Imagine whipping up something fabulous and healthy for the family in just 30 minutes. She can do that. I’m a pretty good cook. I can do that too!

I have discovered a couple of major difference between myself and Rachel though. First, I am clearly not as organized as she is. I can’t walk to my pantry and pull out everything I will need for each component of the meal in one trip. I go about 15 times. At least half of those trips are because, as I get a few more years under my belt, I all too often find myself standing in the pantry with no notion of what I am looking for. I’m sure Rachel has a nice producer to constantly redirect her thoughts. My little producers do redirect my thoughts but it usually has little to do with what I am TRYING to accomplish.

So, without further ado here are the Basic Rules of Cooking in my kitchen:

1. No Campbell’s soup. If I see a recipe with that ingredient I run the other way.
2. No Cool Whip. Ditto.
3. I am all for healthy food but sometimes you just have to have a little (or a LOT) of the other stuff.
4. If I can make extra and keep it in the freezer it is a winner!
5. Kids don’t always have to like it. They only have to try it. Will I make them something else? Are you kidding?! They have all chosen at various times to go to bed without dinner and not a one of them looks like they are wasting away.
6. I love the idea of those Rachel Ray 30 minutes but let’s get real. Those 30 minute meals take 1-2 hours when you add in homework, breaking up fights, answering the phone, pulling a toddler off your leg – again, cleaning up spills, finding the lost ________, bandaging the _________, etc.

So, stay tuned for some kitchen ideas. I won’t bother to call them fast, mega healthy, or even appealing to all kids. In real life I don’t think that stuff exists!