Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's For Dinner (A much saner mommy)

After my little vent about how sucky 4PM is, I decided to make a few changes around here. I like to cook. In fact, I would say cooking is about an 8 for me. Cooking with kids around? I would give that about a negative 2. So I am switching up the schedule. Usually I put Collin down for a nap around 1pm and Lydia takes her rest. Then I sit for 15 minutes, check emails and drink a diet coke. I then spend the next hour running like a crazy women to clean whatever I can get to. I look like a contestant on the Supermarket Sweep. (That was a cool show.) By the time the kids are up, I'm exhausted.

New plan. After the Diet Coke break (which is non-negational), I make dinner. At 1:15pm. All by my lonesome. I can watch a little TV on Hulu, or listen to music. I'm just going to go to my chopping and sauteing zen place. When the kids get up, I'm happier and have energy to play with them. Of course, the downside is the house is messy. But I would much rather tidy up with the kids around than cook. I can always vacuum to drown out the 4pm breakdowns. (That above photo is of a very impatient Collin yelling "Mama EAT!")

The first day I tried this routine, I made a culinary masterpiece. My copy of BON APPÉTIT arrived and I knew I had to make the cover receipe of Pasta al PomodoroEver since traveling to Italy with friends I've been marinara snob. The sugary tomato pasty crud they sell at the grocery store is no comparison. It just has the same color. (It doesn't keep me from feeding it to the kids though. They love it. )


Oh my. I have had major restraint with my portions lately, but this dish was such decadence, I was slurping it straight from the pan. Creamy and silky, bursting with basil and garlic. It's perfect to serve to company as it reheats wonderfully. (Just make sure to save extra pasta water for the reheating or it will dry out.) I served it with chicken sausage on the side. You can get the recipe here. And if you use dried basil, I will hunt you down.


Another yummy and easy recipe is Quinoa soup with corn and avocado. My kids HATE quinoa and sadly, this will be my last attempt to serve it to them. Shane and I thought it was delicious. Use homemade stock if possible. It makes all the difference. I make a batch of stock every week, so you know it must be easy. Seriously. It is the easiest thing ever, and it makes the house smell incredible. I like this tutorial, but I cook it for at least 6 hours instead of 4.
If you use bouillon cubes, I will hunt you down.

Lastly, the other day I had no idea what to make for dinner. I hadn't been to the store in ages. I thought I would try my hand at pantry cooking and was pretty happy with the results.


Was it as good as if I made everything with fresh ingredients? Well, no. But it was pretty good all the same. No one in my family is a fan of canned veggies, but they were troopers and ate them with minimal complaint. I didn't eat the potatoes because I think they taste fake, but the rest of the family loved them. Guess I will have to start integrating potato pearls. I can always microwave a real potato for me. I found a sad little pork tenderloin in the deep freeze that wanted to be of use. Instead of white wine for the sauce, I used white wine vinegar from the pantry, and in this instance, I think I preferred it. Made an outstanding gravy. Loved the briny hint.  I found just enough Marie Calendar's Corn Bread mix for the four of us. The "Fried" apples were the real hit. I cooked sliced apples in water and lemon juice until they were tender but not falling apart. Then I mixed them with apple juice and a bit of sugar. Once it was boiling, I added some cornstarch mixed with a bit of apple juice and cooked until it made a sticky sauce. Yum yum yum.


Excited to get back to enjoying cooking again. Look at me. Domestic! (Kind of. We're having corn dogs tonight. I will not be preparing them early however.)


5 comments:

CBear said...

I love hearing that you've tackled and found a solution. I should blog my nightly dinner routine, really. I have a 3yr old and a 4yr old. Both allergic to eggs and oldest allergic to corn, so we can't have anything processed or packaged (try finding a completely corn free premade kids dinner. sigh.) Anyway, as a result of the corn allergy, the oldest is also a vegetarian because all the meat in the US is fed corn and has added "fillers and solutions" So I am a short order cook, basically. Add in the fact that the husband doesn't get home until just before their bedtime. I make kid1's dinner, kid2's dinner. While they eat, I start cooking our dinner - which we eat after they are asleep (between 8 and 9). It makes for a long long long night.

Heather said...

I've thought of doing that before, prepare dinner early so all I have to do it cook it at the appropriate time. Never gets done. I have learned to hate to cook. My kids are very picky and will hardly eat anything, and their father isn't much better. I'm tired of the same old stuff all the time. And I thought Super Market Sweep was cool too. I had got one station on my tv, and that was the one I got! I wish that show was back on.

fiveofakind said...

Your schedule change idea is Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?! Thanks for the Great Idea!!

Granola Girl said...

Love it! I think I might have to try this because I hate cooking with a screaming baby at my ankles :)

Canadiachik said...

Wow, Natalie. I love reading your blog because somehow you seem to channel just what I am working on myself. (And you write about it so well in a way I never could!) My biggest goal lately (besides scripture reading) is to have dinner under control before the 4 o'clock crazies roll around (either prepped and ready to be pulled together quickly, or oven-ready). Having a firm plan for dinner has made all the difference in the world to my mood, and thus the mood of our home for the rest of the evening.
Also, I've been meaning to post my favorite quinoa recipe to my blog...I'll send you a link when I do. You never know what might work with the kids!

Thanks for being so cool ;)

PS. Ever watch Drop Dead Diva? It's one of my latest fav hulu shows!

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