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Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Dinner Dilema Solved (for one night, anyway)

I am so proud. Last night, I actually remembered to take meat out of the freezer so we could have a nice, easy, throw-it-in-the-oven Sunday dinner. In fact, I was so proud of myself I even made a cake just so I could really feel that June Cleaver feeling. (But I didn't wear pearls. Or even fake ones. I was, however, still in my Sunday clothes, does that count? Dang! I just realized I forgot the apron! Maybe next time...)

Anyhow, I am seriously bad at the whole plan-dinner-ahead thing. Yes Mother, we do have dinner - it's just generally more of a last minute affair, if you know what I mean. This is really rather silly when you think about it, because planning ahead would be so much easier. And things like roasts, and crock pot meals are so convenient. Just throw them in, go about your business, and be around later when it's time to eat.

But I always forget to take the meat out of the freezer. And inevitably, if I buy a nice roast and throw it in the fridge because I think I have a day to stay home and make it, something unexpected comes up (like work - one of the few drawbacks of subbing) and the meat goes uncooked. Then, still hopeful I'll get a chance to throw it in before it expires, I optimistically refuse to relegate it to the roast cemetery otherwise known as my freezer.

And then my days are contrarily plagued by unexpected doctor visits, morning calls to work, and other disruptive things, and the roast gets wasted.

Then there are the times I simply forget I bought it, and it wastes away in the fridge for no good reason whatsoever. So generally, we eat other, less June-Cleaverish kinds of food. Like bean and cheese burritos (yes they're [usually] homemade), chili and cheese fries, spaghetti, and chicken soup (because I can boil chicken when it's frozen).

The other night, however, I was struck with one of those rare dinner-inspirations. Desperate for something to throw together with only a half hour till the ravenous children would begin to tear my house apart in the throes of starvation, I looked in the freezer to see what I could come up with.

Aha! I had a few remaining pieces of boneless chicken (which also doesn't require thawing), and some frozen stir fry veggies. The obvious choice - stir fry.

Except my kids don't really like stir fry. They like the chicken, and one or two of the veggies, but the rice kills it.

And then I had my grand inspiration. I cooked my chicken, added the veggies, made up some sauce, and... threw it over linguine.

A-La-Kung Foo Panda Noodles!

They loved it. It was a HUGE hit. And seriously - who doesn't like linguine? Or Kung Foo Panda? Putting those two things together is a major win-win situation any way you cut it.

So next time you're having creative-dinner fatigue, reach for the linguine, and treat the fam to some good old American/Italian/Chinese food. Your family will thank you. (And then you can thank me).


Tana said...

I am going to try this. I don't like rice either. I can't keep it on a fork. Noodles sound great!

Claire said...

My kids have got their likes and dislikes. But I just rustle something up and call it something cute, and they'll eat it. Buffoons. Last night they have princess pasta. Which was spaghetti bolognese. But they don't like eating the mince. But tart it up as something that snow white eats, and they chomp away to their heart's content. Tonight, theyr'e getting surprise soup. the its of ham and chunks of veg are the surprises. Hehehe.. I'm so wily, and they're so stupid...

Jen said...

Claire - You had dinner planned before I'd even eaten breakfast. If you weren't on the other side of the Atlantic it would be even more impressive!

Alison Wonderland said...

Dinner? That's hours away, I can't even contemplate it at the moment.

That Girl in Brazil said...

Okay, would you quit quoting my brain? Only better?

I can NEVER plan dinner. At this moment it is 6:30 and I haven't a clue what we're having at 7. (Although chicken IS defrosting in the microwave.)

So this "made up sauce" ... how does it go?

nikkicrumpet said...

I'm so glad my kids are grown...and my hubby likes to cook lol

Jen said...

GIB - "made up" refers to opening two packets of stir fry sauce, and "making it up." Kung Pao Chicken sauce ROCKS on the linguine, but it's a bit spicy for the kiddos, so just use regular. Or look up a recipe for stir fry sauce. It actually doesn't take much.

Good luck!

The Valentine's said...

Ohh I hear ya sister, i'm sooo not June Cleaverish either!!

I need annie's email, i've got the picture ready to send to here.

Machen family said...

You are a culinary genius! You should start a show like, Jen's Juicy Dinners or somethin' or another, and I can be your slave and you could boss me around saying Camille I need sauteed onions STAT.
And PLEASE if you come to UTAH call me so I can hang out with you and Annie!! PLEASE

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

Personally I would like to give up on eating all together. Think of the money/time/calories it would save. But no matter how many times I put it to a family vote, it never gets passed. What the what? Why people, why. So I just have to go on providing meals. Geez the agony. So thanks for the idea. Glad it worked for you and yours.

Natalie said...

In some wierd OCD-ish moment, I planned meals & wrote them down on the calendar for the next month. The only problem is, I need to go grocery shopping in order to make them. I keep meaning to make the "scheduled" meal and then we resort to frozen pizza instead since I'm short important ingredients.

Laura said...

Jen,at least you have the Baxter Factor in your favor! The fact that your children love to consume food helps their palates be not so sensitive. Maybe Dannan should come and visit you for a while, since he's decided that he doesn't like anything that he used to like, and still retains his previous dislikes. It will give you a taste of the Rosenlund factor. :)

Kristin said...

Kung Foo - Genius!!!