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Cooking with Children

NM asked: I am interested in how/when you manage the cooking with two kids.

I actually just wrote a little about this over here. If you don't feel like clicking over, it basically says that I allow the children to destroy my kitchen in various ways if it means I can get dinner on the table.

When I am lucky, Chris gets home around 5:00 and takes both of the kids off my hands for half an hour while I make dinner. When I am less lucky, he comes home at 5:00 and takes Mia off my hands and leaves me to deal with Owen, which is fine except that Mia can be sent to amuse herself for 20 minutes of given a bowl of flour to stir and Owen can't. When I am even less lucky, as I am a couple of times a week, Chris gets home at 6:00, which is dinner time, so I get to make dinner while minding the kids. This usually means that Owen plays on the floor for a while and then gets strapped to my back in the Ergo, and Mia asks every four seconds if I can come play with her now and finally storms off to her own kitchen to make dinner herself, which sure shows me.

I've also developed a large repertoire of five minute dinners. Here's one of my favorites for your dining pleasure:

Beth's Yummy Nugget Salad

Ingredients:
One bag of salad (sure, you could just get lettuce and chop, but that will eat into your allocated five minutes)
One box of Morningstar Farms Chik'n Nuggets (I suppose you could use actual chicken nuggets, but you know what they put in those things, right? Chicken! Gross.) (You could probably also use a package of that pre-cooked meat they have now, but that skeeves me out even more than frozen chicken.)
Your preferred salad dressing

Optional Ingredients:
A handful of shredded cheese (again, buy it that way because the children are jumping off the back of the couch and you don't have time to be shredding no cheese)
A cucumber, cut however you like it
An avocado, sliced
Some Craisins
Whatever else you like in salad

Open bag of salad. Put on plates. If you are married to a food phobic, like I am, splash salad leaves with water so it looks like you washed it.

Nuke nuggets according to package directions. Cut into small pieces. Dump on top of salad.

Add dressing and whatever other fancy stuff you have. (If you had to use a knife to prepare it, that makes it fancy.)

Serve.

I usually do some sort of starchy side dish with this. My choice is cous cous, since it takes five minutes to make. Chris prefers rice pilaf, but that takes 14 minutes and so I usually save it for special occasions.

I started making and eating this when I was in my first trimester with Owen and it was the only meal I could actually enjoy eating, rather than just forcing myself to chew and swallow. Trust me, it is tasty and fast and you should try it.

Comments (21)

Hey, that's my go-to easy dish too. Though, I use chicken nuggets that CLAIM they are made from chicken. Top a salad with some of those, a handful of shredded cheese and some ranch, I am a happy camper! You can send Mia to my house next time she feesl compelled to make someone dinner!

"...but that takes 14 minutes and so I usually save it for special occasions."

I think that about sums up parenthood. Excellently.

any other 5 or heck I'm crazy 10 min meals?????

Fancy salad was my "cook for a boy" meal while in college.

Care to share your cous cous recipe? I've tried to make it and it never turns out.

Love the 5 minute meal idea. I'll have to try this and see what the fussy boy thinks. Dinner was much easier being single as I ate whatever I had, but that doesn't work with a family as I have to plan.

Your going to hate me but I have a child that will actually let me cook. I can be in the kitchen for 30-40 minutes and she will leave me be and play on her own. You can borrow her if you want, just to see what its like!

Hey, I've totally made that exact dinner myself... and I don't even have kids!

Ha ha---I love the part where you splash the lettuce with a little water!

I love your spices-as-entertainment idea! That's really great in helping with pre-reading skills... but I'm ashamed to say that I'm just too particular about my spices to let my kids play with them. Well, first off, most of mine are in glass jars, but more than that I like them the way I've got them categorized, which is a system of my own design. I hate when DH moves them around or puts one back in the wrong place, which, truth be told, is not all that often.

My DD is old enough to entertain herself, but I still have to find entertainment for 17-m.o. DS. I often pull his high chair into the kitchen and ply him with snacks, or let him tear through the tupperware/sippy cup/kids bowls drawer (that's the only one without child latches), or he plays with his LeapFrog Word Whammer. He knows what letters are, and tries repeating the sounds, so I'm a fan of that toy.

hahaha. i totally always pick the couscous over the rice pilaf because it takes less time. sigh...life with kids...ah...

Wow! that sounds awesome! I'm not a dressing person but I'm picturing it with BBQ sauce, like a "BBQ Chicken Salad". Maybe with some corn or black beans.

I'm actually making one of my boy and my favorite 5 minute dinners tonight. Gardenburger Riblets, cous cous made w/ water from the kettle and a bit of parmesan cheese, and fresh broccoli that we can microwave in the bag. We work in music, so thats our go-to "night in which we are going to see a band" dinner, but kids would like it too I think!

Yeah, one thing about having an Autism scare, is that my child has the ability to play on his own. Don't get me wrong, he'll come and bug the crap out of me at the most inopportune times, but when the cooking mood strikes (because cooking at all is a feat), he'll let me go and do my thing, only weaving in and out of my legs like a cat occasionally.

Most of the time, the hubs just cooks. I know, you hate me don't you?

P.S. The cookie thing? Short term work. I had to put my stuff in again.

"splash salad leaves with water so it looks like you washed it."
You slay me.
lol

"splash salad leaves with water so it looks like you washed it."
You slay me.
lol

"If you are married to a food phobic, like I am, splash salad leaves with water so it looks like you washed it." - this made me snort! A woman after my own heart...oh if they only knew....

Uh oh, am I lazy. I make something like this and I don't even have kids yet. Morningstar nuggets are yummy!

I am also a big fan of the meatless pasta meal. The Boy usually can be talked into exploring cupboards or banging pots for the few minutes it takes me to put on water to boil and jar sauce to warm up. If I get a few extra minutes, we get a side salad.

I made this last night and it was a hit. Any other quick meal ideas to share? I'm always looking for something fast that the family will actually eat. :)

I make this exact meal! Except we are omnivores, and not very picky ones at that, so I use the Costco 10 pound bag of Dino Nuggets with chicken toes or whatever leftovers they shove into them. And also, have you ever been to Pittsburgh? Or have you ever heard of french fries on a salad? Big entree salads are ONLY served with fries around here, and I have started to see this sneak onto national chain menus (e.g. Pittsburgh steak salad), so maybe you're familiar with the idea? And most people new to the area recoil in disgust at the idea, but DUDE, don't knock it 'til you tried it! So we routinely shove fries and dino nuggets into the oven on one tray, pile up lettuce, cucumber, tomato, etc., then place fries over top, then nuggets, then red hot (um, BUFFALO "chicken" salad!), and ranch dressing. The.best.meal.ever. Also, I now keep a container of already crumbled up bleu cheese on hand for this salad, or for spring mix + apple + walnut salad. This is nearly all I eat.

Finally, please provide more 5 minute meal ideas.

May you be blessed this Christmas and the year ahead with health, happiness and peace!
Much love,
Maribeth

Thanks for answering. The salad sounds yummy. Maybe i find it hard since both DH and son are fussy eaters...cannot repeat the same menu before 3 weeks, but to be fair, DH helps a lot in the kitchen, and some times takes over the entire meal, so can't complain too much. Hope you had a Merry Christmas and wish u and ur family a Happy 2009!

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