Tuesday, October 26, 2010
LOL/LOL: What’s cookin’?
LOL/LOL stands for Lots of Littles/Lots of Laughs. It is a blog series by moms who are overrun by small children have 3 or more little kiddos, talking about parenting, marriage, & life. After you read this post, make sure you check out Jamey's take on this same topic at Zehlahlum Family. And then please play along! Answer our questions in the comments OR blog about it and post a link in the comments.
Today Jamey and I are talking about meals. I'm actually really happy about this topic, because this is an area I truly enjoy. I love to cook, and I love that the kids love to help me cook. We have lots of fun in the kitchen together.
OK, so here are the basics. I try to plan about a week of meals at a time (lunches and dinners). I make a grocery list based on my plan and shop from that. I rarely buy stuff not on the list, because I have no discernable will power and may be likely to do something stupid like eat an entire bag of potato chips with a container of dip all in one day. Not that I've done anything like that today ever, I'm just giving an example of what could happen. Of course. Ummmm… let's move on.
I try to make sure we eat reasonably healthy foods. We have both a fruit and a vegetable with almost every meal. We eat a lot of chicken… very little seafood, because I'm the cook and I don't like it… and no tofu because Mr. Fantastic hates it. I am not a short-order cook, which means that my kids are stuck with whatever I make for dinner that night. In fairness, if I am making something new or something that I know someone doesn't like, I make sure there is plenty of food available that they do like so that they can fill up on other stuff. For example, if Lamb doesn't like my latest chicken creation, she can have extra veggies, noodles, fruit, etc. They do, however, have to try at least one bite of everything. And it makes me bonkers when they claim that they don't like something that they've never tried.
Dessert is a must at our house—but before you judge, note that "dessert" is almost always a small piece of candy… like one Starburst or 5-6 Skittles. It's just a little something to 1) satisfy the sweet tooth and 2) signify that mealtime is over so that I don't hear "I'm hungry" five minutes after dinner is over. The kids know that they can have as many servings of dinner as they like… before they have dessert. Once they eat dessert, they are done.
What else do you want to know? I used to be a very "by the book" cook, and I still follow recipes the majority of the time, but I have become increasingly bold in making stuff up as I go. My biggest success was a dish I adapted from a few different recipes that I call Basil-Cream Chicken, and I used fresh basil from my herb garden. It was fan.tab.u.lous, if I do say so myself. Oh, and I am a cookbook-a-holic. I collect cookbooks the way that some people collect Precious Moments. I absolutely love all of the different ideas and cuisines and combinations.
We have a few fun traditions that I enjoy… On Saturday mornings I cook a "nice" breakfast, typically pancakes or waffles. It's a good break from the cereal/toast/oatmeal options of the other 6 days of the week, and the kids help me make it, which adds to the fun. Also, even though I typically make them eat whatever I serve, we will occasionally play "restaurant" and I let them order from a "menu" of approved choices. They think this is huge fun, especially when I call them "Sir" and "Miss."
And even though I do enjoy cooking, I am at a stage in my life when it is difficult to prepare a hot meal for my family every night. So earlier this year I had a chance to become part of a supper-swapping group, and I jumped at it. It is wonderful! I have mentioned it before, but let me explain the basic idea. Once a week I cook up dinner for three families, then deliver a meal to two other girls before going back home to eat with my family. It sounds like a lot of work, but for many meals, multiplying by 3 really isn't that much more work than making a single batch. And then here's the best part: Two other nights per week, someone shows up at my door with a complete hot meal for my family! No cooking, no kitchen clean-up, nothing! It just appears, ready to eat! It has been a lifesaver. Again, I know I mentioned this before, but Trish Berg is truly the supper-swapping expert and I highly recommend her book The Great American Supper Swap.
Before I go, let me share one of my favorite super-easy recipes with you. It's not word-for-word from the cookbook, but you'll get the idea. This is actually what I'm making for my Supper-Swap group tonight…
Crock-Pot Beef Sandwiches
(from The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet: A Month of Meals Made Easy)
2 ½ pounds beef chuck roast
2 packages dry dressing (like Good Seasons Italian or Hidden Valley Ranch)
1 cup water
1 package buns
Trim fat from roast, place in crockpot. Top with dressing packets, pour water over all. Cook on low for at least 6 hours or overnight. Shred beef and serve on buns. Serves… oh, 6ish people, I would say.
The meat can also be frozen after it is shredded, which is a great option if you have a big crockpot and can make one batch for now and one to freeze for a quick meal. My hubby absolutely LOVES sandwiches these with horseradish sauce.So let's hear it, people! What are your mealtime traditions, rules, likes & dislikes, successes & failures? What's your favorite dish? Please share! J