Tag Archives: Food

What’s for dinner? (Blog and Recipe)

Typical Day with four teenage boys and a somewhat passive aggressive mom:
0700– Someone in the house ask you “What’s for dinner”. Say you don’t know and wait for the next 4 people you meet to ask you.
1000 – Nonchalantly get up and look at what’s in the freezer and see you have some boneless chicken thighs.
1200 – Next time someone asks “What’s for dinner” say “chicken”.

When they say how are you going to make it? Say you don’t know .

Listen to them ramble on about what they personally want and why you should make that particular dish. Explain patiently that different folks in the house don’t LIKE what they want and then say you’re only cooking one dish.

Listen as they relentlessly plead their case about how the others in the household don’t matter.
Approximately 1500 -Watch now, as they circle the kitchen more deliberately, but separately, getting really concerned about the dinner situation.

(Fun thing for mom): Send them on little goose chases – “Well do we have buns?” (that might mean friend chick-fil-a type sandwiches.

“No buns”.

“Hmmm…do we have charcoal?” (that might mean teriyaki grilled chicken thighs.

“Nope not enough.”…then shake your head in dismay and act as if you have NO IDEA what to do then.
1600 – Ask who is doing what in terms of evening activities to figure out the timelines you’ll be cooking.
“Well dad and Dan have practice at 6.”
1602-1645 – Listen to them moan about not being able to wait until Dad and Dan get home and how you really HAVE TO COOK SOMETHING OR THEY WILL DIE!
1800 – commence to cut up the chicken thighs and watch as they all settle down cause they know SOMETHING is coming soon.
1810 – cut some bread and put it out (see 6:16 entry).
1815 – stand by as they start to get aroused by the aromas and they begin to move out of their rooms to circle you.

Caution them as they try to reach their hands into the boiling hot pans ONCE AGAIN and tell them things in hot pans ARE HOT (ONCE AGAIN) and they must take care not to burn themselves.
1816 –  After the first one yells because he’s burned, direct them all to the bread.

1830 – Tell them they can get food but caution them that Dad and Dan still have to eat.

1833 – Tell them yes they can get seconds but they can’t divide what’s left into 5. Dad and Dan deserve a full serving. They may get a second SMALLER serving. (Explain that a couple of times as they protest about “snoozing and loosing” yada yada.)
1845 – Sit and finish your drink just smiling cause you know your dinner (or at least the passive aggressive build up) was on time and on target!
1850 – Sit at your computer with a second glass of wine and reflect on how freaking lucky you are!

1855 –  Say “Yes you can be excused” and smile as they get up and start to clean the kitchen without being asked!!!!

They are satiated beasts at this point and will be relaxed and somewhat slowed in their next few movements.
2200 – Go to bed cause it is all going to happen again tomorrow and you need your strength!
Recipe – “What’s for Dinner Pasta”
Boneless chicken thighs salted and peppered on both sides
Cut boneless chicken thighs up into small pieces and cook in a pan in hot evoo. Drain and put in a holding pan. (Don’t move them around too much on each side. Let them brown-hard to do cause you worry they’ll burn so get on Facebook work something for about 4-5 minutes per side).
Start pasta water BUT DON’T PUT THE PASTA IN YET. Wait until you’ve melted the butter for the sauce (follows).
Sauce:
Same pan you cooked the chicken in. Leave the brown bits (that’s flavor baby) but get rid of the excess fat.
Melt 1 to 1.25 sticks of butter. Keep the flame LOW so it doesn’t burn.
Add either three diced garlic cloves or in a crunch put in about a tablespoon of garlic powder.
After that melts SLOWLY and is bubbly add in about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese.
Once that is melted and smooth add 1/4 cup of whatever spaghetti sauce you like.
Keep mixing. By now you should have had the pasta in the boiling water.
To the sauce ingredients add either a 1/4 cup of diced basil or about 2 tablespoons of the tubed basil you buy in the store. Sorry I like that for sauces cause it dissolves.
Add 1 tsp of red pepper flakes.
Keep mixing.
Add the cooked Angel hair pasta and some pasta water cause the pasta will soak up all the sauce…and you want it a bit saucy.
Once it is all combined and “stewed” for a couple minutes…throw the cooked chicken on top and tell the heathens it is ready to eat.

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I was the Turkey

I fancy myself somewhat of a cook.  Of course that skill has evolved over the years and my husband is quick to tell the tale of my first apple pie.  The resulting coat of flour on the floor and cabinets made the idea of “homemade from frozen” much more appealing.  Thanks to the Food Network and my need to overachieve, I have honed my skills since staying home. 

When I had my fourth son on November 14 a few years back, I wanted to celebrate by doing something different and outstanding for Thanksgiving.  My goal to serve a deboned, stuffed turkey for my family of six and visiting in-laws quickly became an “I can do this” obsession.

The week before I practiced deboning just about everything I could find (we didn’t have the doggies yet).  When the time came to debone the Thanksgiving bird, I spent the better part of an hour working to extract every piece of cartilage and bone that might have taken away from the “oohs and ahhhs” I expected to hear as I came out to the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Sure enough, when it came time to serve dinner, everything was wonderful.  The turkey was beautiful on its platter, albeit smaller given the absence of bones.   The turkey’s breasts were perfectly browned, the legs actually edible by adults since they were stuffed individually and sliced, and everyone gave me the praise I’d needed for my ego. 
Everyone except two little boys pulled up to the holiday table.  Jacob and Sammy sat with just their little heads bobbing above the table, with their crystal water glasses, linen napkins and fine china; looking very, very, sad.

“What’s wrong?” asked their Bubbie (Yiddish for Grandma).

“Where’s the big one?” asked Jacob, at tear welling up in his eye.

“What big one?” I said between moments of patting myself on the back.

“The big turkey” both Jake and Sam said without hesitation. 

“You know mom-the big turkey like they always show on the TV commercials; like the pictures from last year and like on the Charlie Brown special.  Where’s the BIG TURKEY?”

It was that moment that I knew I’d blown it.  I’d turned the holiday into something I’d wanted focused on me instead of allowing the tradition of the day to carry the family through.

That was the last Thanksgiving I served anything other than the BIG turkey. As we speak my big turkey is defrosting in the sink ready to be brined and rubbed for cooking.  The family picked out the type pies we’re going to fix, the veggies they’ll be chopping and how they want the potatoes fixed.  It won’t be like Emeril’s dining room but I’m smart enough to not make the same mistake twice.

However you make your turkey this year, I hope it is served with platters of love and hope, charity and goodwill, and sprinkled with generous portions of health and happiness. As we enter the holiday season may you and your family always be on the winning side of the wishbone.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Parenting Tip of the Day:

Some churches open their doors and provide holiday breakfasts for the homeless.  My husband and I are taking the boys down to cook pancakes in the morning at a local church and then coming home for dinner.  I’m hoping it will really help us understand everything we have to be thankful for.  I’ve read that tons of young people believe that volunteering is important, but fewer than ever do so.  If you can, take the time to show our kids how much they can impact our world.  Even a January neighborhood food drive and trip to the local food bank is a tremendous learning experience (and great winter break project).  Show them what a difference they can make. 

It’s Coming People!

There’s something abuzz in our house right now.  It happens every year about this time.  The kids start seeing TV commercials, new ideas start popping in their brains and all of a sudden I can barely keep them in their seats.  A recent phone conversation between Steve and the boys took place during his commute into work.  He was sharing the car with another man who heard what Steve was saying.

Steve on the phone to the children; “What are you boys doing?”

Boys answer but of course the driver doesn’t hear.

“Oh, what are you watching?” Steve continues.

“WHAT?” Steve exclaims loudly.  “You guys aren’t allowed to watch that.”

“Awwww”, Steve says in disgust.

 “I’m talking to your mother when I get home, you rotten kids. Goodbye.”

As Steve hangs up the phone in disgust the driver of the car looks over at him and says.

“Your kids watch bad TV too?”

“Yeah,” Steve replies.  “It drives me nuts.”

“What are they watching?” the driver asks. “SpongeBob or Ed, Edd and Eddie?”

“No” Steve replies.  “They’re sitting with their mother watching Top Chef.”

That’s right baby,  Top Chef – New York is starting soon.  Since the series began on Bravo Channel five seasons ago, the boys and I have gathered at the afternoon rerun of Top Chef, since it aires way too late for them to watch at night.  We watch the show; taking bets on the outcome and momma ALWAYS wins (because it’s NOT on too late for momma to watch at night ).

“Is Marcel a bad guy Mom?”

“Who do you think will be eliminated Mom?”

“Don’t you just LOVE Padma?” they say in a much more masculine way than I’m ready hear from them.

Of course this type of culinary sharing is driving my sport spitting husband nuts. 

“Watch sports or something” he hollers hiding in his man hideaway in the office.  But secure in themselves, my boys and I gaze on.  We watch the chopping techniques, marvel at the ingenious use of sun chokes (I don’t know what those are), and occasionally get a wild hair to try something ourselves.

Yeah, that didn’t go so good.

Still, Sammy did make his dad eggs for breakfast this morning; Jake will occasionally whip up his famous Ranch Chicken for the family dinner, Ben is a pro with pasta and Danny, well he’s still too short.  But he wants to help.

I love that the boys like this stuff and that they are excited about watching the program.  I want them to learn to be self sustaining and maybe even good at cooking.  I certainly don’t want to hear the reason they have to get married is to enjoy a good meal; although in the big scheme of things I guess having to get married to enjoy good food is the lesser of the two evils I can imagine.

And come to think of it Padma is a hottie.  images13Can you believe she was married to Salman Rushdie?  Could the female version of Salman EVER get a guy that’s Padma’s equivilant? Of course not.  So maybe my guys need to learn to cook and then they could meet chicks like Padma in the chef’s kitchen.  Either way, every once in a while they’ll come home and fix momma a good meal. 

By then I guess they’ll be changing my diapers too.  But as long as Top Chef has a long run, we can still cuddle on the couch, watch a good flambé flourish and drive their daddy nuts.

Parenting Tip of the Day:  Cooking with your children is a great way to bond.  It also teaches them mathematical lessons in measuring, timing and chemical reactions.  I hope you have the chance to pass along your “famous” dish to your child.  Even if it only involves opening cans and adding cheese, they’ll love the time you can share together.

A simple cookie recipe you can do together follows:

Mix one box of any cake mix, ¼ cup of water, ¼ cup of vegetable oil and 1 large egg.  Combine the ingredients and then mix in 1 cup of something your child likes, like chocolate chips, M&Ms, or nuts.  Combine the add in you like, and place scoopfuls of the dough onto a greased baking tray.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350.  They need to cool a bit before you can really handle them but they are yummy!  At least that’s what the 3d graders said.

 *Quick mommy caution here: the language on TC this past season was too strong.  I’ve read the producers are working to keep a tighter lid on things this season so the program stays on my viewing agenda.  Just FYI.