I’ve slowly been attempting to cook again after weeks of plain pasta and sauce and the occasional, very nutritious, bowl of cereal. I mentioned how the cooking I’d be doing now would involve all ingredients in one room rather than in the basement and the kitchen. It does not take much to dazzle me anymore, I take my excitement where I can get it, but I get a great big chill when I reach into a cupboard three steps from the counter and pull out what I need. Dream big everyone!
I’m trying, with all my might to create a ’stable’ of meals I can whip up off the top of my head. I’ve been attempting to do this for the last, oh, 3 years. So far, process is slow. My criteria is mainly that these dishes must hold some possibility of my family enjoying them and that they don’t take long to make. I want to eat dinner with my family and I want to make the food we eat, I don’t want to win any culinary awards. Although there should be an award for creating dishes my daughter will eat without gagging.
I decided to make this Ziti with Ricotta and Spinach dish from Family Fun last week. When Madison asked what we were eating I said, “Oh, you know….pasta.” Because she likes pasta, I thought the ricotta and spinach could be a ‘Surprise!’ later. She replied, “If it’s pasta what is all that other junk? You know I don’t like any stuff in my pasta.”
Oh sweet, darling Madison. I know you don’t but I wouldn’t be a good mother if I didn’t ignore that fact and force you to consume ’stuff’.
I really wanted to like this, especially after Madison took a bite and chugged an entire glass of milk to wash it down declaring “ARE YOU HAPPY?”
Wow, yes, watching you eat my dinner like it’s poison made me incredibly happy. My life is complete.
But it was bland and flavorless. Everyone ate it (except Madison) but no one was really satisfied with it. We wasted a lot of food on that meal which reminds me of a tip: If you’re cooking for The Pickersons (or your own Picky Eaters) maybe make half a recipe of something you’re pretty sure they won’t like. Otherwise, enjoy your leftovers.
My grocery store has a recipe section and when making my meal plan for the week something about chicken, broccoli and cheddar seemed like a great idea. So I made it, using fresh broccoli chopped with a whole lot less onion in my food processor. I also used canned chicken because I never have leftover cooked chicken in the house. Canned chicken is, provided you have the right brand, not as startlingly horrid as you might imagine.
Unless you’re Madison and then, even though you like everything in this dish, get your milk glass ready so you can wash this down without tasting it.
I have a confession to make here. As I made this I felt a sort of giddy anticipation of what Maddie would say when I put this down in front of her. Even better, I wondered what my husband would say when he saw all these items mingling together. Because the truth is, if I really loved them and wanted them all to enjoy their meals I’d serve a grilled meat (no marinade), a steamed vegetable and/or baked potato and a bread product each night.
This bores me and makes my taste buds weep and also I just sort of like seeing the look on Maddie’s face when I put new food in front of her.
When this was planted in front of her she said, “It’s like you ruined the chicken.”
She ate one milk chased bite and the rest of the family ate this happily. Maybe happily is too strong a word. Max and I ate happily, Logan ate silently wondering why I did have to go and ruin the chicken with all this stuff mixed in.
How they suffer at my hands.