Thursday, January 12, 2012

My top menus that satisfy almost ALL of my offspring

Being a working mom, I struggle with meals.  One of the big rules in my household is we eat dinner, sitting down at the table, with REAL plates every single night....even if I don't want to!  99% of our meals are home cooked, from scratch.  This mostly started due to Bubbie and his pervasive food allergies, and then just became the way we do things at the House of Chaos.  So, without further ado, here are the top meals that are in my rotation that can either be made ahead, made quickly, or put in the crock-pot while I am gone.  We only have 3 rules at our family dinners.

1.  We eat what we get and we don't throw a fit.
      - I am NOT a short order cook.  I make every effort to prepare meals they will all at least tolerate.  I am also fair in NOT putting things on plates if it is something that they have a real aversion against (Manudo: No food touching, Bubbie: No onions, Princepessa: No tomatoes, HH: Triple servings of everything).

This is wrong in so many ways...electronics AND
elbows on the table????

2.  NO electronic devices allowed....not even for Mom and Dad.  There is nothing so important that means we have to eat meals while our noses are buried into cell phones, iPods, DS's, TV, etc.  No one is going to DIE if they miss a text, I promise.

3.  Family meals are a good time to practice our manners so if mom is nice enough to take us OUT to dinner one day, we won't look like we have escaped a barn.

Those are the rules, and for the most part the kids and HH don't complain about them.  It works for us, so we all make the effort to be sure we are home and present (both physically and mentally) for our daily together time.

I will try to link to recipes if I have them.  If there is a meal you'd like the recipe for, add a comment and I will post it there.

  1. Homemade Mac -n- Cheese, Smoked Sausage baked in the oven with green onions and mushrooms and Steamed Broccoli with lemon.  I SWEAR my kids would eat all of these daily.  I know that I am very lucky that they like veggies, and I hope that by typing this, I have not jinxed myself.
  2. Breakfast for dinner:  Eggs (okay, I WILL make eggs to order...some like them scrambled, some like them over easy), Bacon or Sausage, and a fresh fruit salad.  Sometimes I will mix it up with pancakes or French Toast.  Let's face it, kids of working mom's don't have the luxury of really good breakfasts on most days, so it is always a treat to have their favorites as dinner.
  3. Crock-Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, steamed Green Beans.  My kids, and especially HH are huge carnivores.  They love meat, even if I don't eat as much as they do.  I like the pot-roast because it usually leaves left-overs for HH and my lunches.  If I am especially organized, I will pre-boil the mashed potatoes the night before to make it a faster meal.
  4. New Improved Joe's, Sweet Potato Fries, Sliced Apples.  I had to stop using almost all pre-made canned items when Bubbie was younger, so I came up with this recipe for sloppy joe's using no canned sauces and with spinach for extra nutrients.  My kids LOVE it!  I have also served it over pasta ala Cincinnati Chili.
  5. Salmon Patties, Rice, and Asparagus.  I make the asparagus in a pan on the top of the stove with a pat of butter, splash of soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of water.  I have a rice cooker, and have found it so worth the investment.  Rice comes out perfect every.single.time.
  6. Broiled whole pork tenderloin (just baste with a mixture of stone ground mustard and maple), Vanilla sweet potatoes, and spinach salad with orange/balsamic dressing. I bake the sweet potatoes the night before, and keep the dressing for the salad in a cruet in the fridge at all times. 
  7. Tacos, Refried Beans, Spanish rice....need I say more?
  8. Pasta with Basalmic Puttenesca Sauce, Garlic Bread, and a Salad.  When I serve this, I try to keep the olives out of Bubbie's serving :). 
  9. Pulled Pork (whole pork tenderloin, favorite BBQ sauce, diced onions, cook in crock pot all day, shred with two forks), Cole Slaw, Baked Beans.
  10. Chili, Homemade Corn Bread, Salad.  I mix it up by sometimes doing white chili, beanless chili, or traditional red chili.  I like to really spice it up, but keep some extra spices on hand to sprinkle on HH's and mine when the kidlets are around who seem to be opposed to anything spicier than a hot dog some days.
What are some of your go to meals?   How do you save time?  I hate feeling like I am in a rut, and I feel that way frequently in the winter when we do not have as many options for fresh fruits and veggies.

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