How many times do your kids say “When is dinner, I am starving!!!!!” For me it is almost every time I walk in the door from work. Well guess what, its time to put the kids in the kitchen.
I have a 13 (almost 14) year old boy and that is certainly old enough to make dinner. I talked to my sister-in-law and she is thinking the same thing. Instead of making it a “chore” we thought, why not have her son and my son cook together? Sure they live in MD and we live in CT.. but that is the beauty of technology. They can still cook together.
They can look at past posts on this blog, this entry for ideas or the butt load of content on the web or in the cookbooks around the house for inspiration. We are going to set the laptops in the kitchen with the web cam so they can collaborate and I am sure goof off.. but what the heck – I don’t have to cook that night. Its a win win win. If you don’t have a laptop with a web cam – the phone still works and your kids can talk to anyone they wish – or if a friend lives near by – the real old-fashioned way – have them come over (which is the best experience). Just give them the freedom to do it on their own.
Below are some ideas to get the teens started:
Tacos – easy, fast and fun and all elements rolled up in one (yes I rhymed. ; ) ). These are by far one of my favorite foods (crunchy shell of course).
Brown some hamburger (or vegetarian refried beans for a veg dinner), and mix with the taco seasoning of your choice (I use low sodium mixes found in the international isle of the supermarket)
Toast the shells in the oven at 325 for about 5 – 7 minutes until crispy
OR Warm up the soft shells in a non-stick pan for about 30 seconds on each side. Keep warm wrapped in tinfoil
The rest is optional (depending on what your family likes):
Tomatoes – diced
Shredded cheese – your favorite of course
Diced onions (my son’s favorite I like them too. I get the sweet kind)
Sliced or Mashed avocados (or guac)
Salsa, taco sauce or whatever
Chicken Piccata (sounds hard but sooo easy)
Take thin chicken breasts (sold this way in the store), and plop down in some seasoned flour (salt and pepper), both sides. Shake off excess flour (or omit this step if carb concerned)
Put a large pan on the stove, melt 1 TBS butter and 1 TBS olive oil. When the foam from the butter subsides, hit the pan with the chicken filets. Sear on each side until golden (about 1 minute on each side for thin sliced). Don’t crowd the pan, do them in batches when necessary.
Remove to a plate, and continue with remaining fillets (the chicken will continue to cook on the plate)
When the chicken is done, add about 1 cup of chicken stock to the hot pan, it will loosen up those wonderful bits, add about 1 TBS lemon juice (about juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon). Slice the other half and put aside. Add about 4 cloves of sliced garlic to the mix and about 1 TBS capers (if desired). Let simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning (salt/pepper) as needed (add more chicken stock if too thick or not enough sauce).
When the sauce reduces a bit (about 5 minutes over med-high heat) add the chicken back and the slices of lemon. Turn off the heat and let sit for a minute or two.
Pizza Find me a person who doesn’t love pizza, I say they don’t exist. ; )
Pizza crust can be anything. I always keep soft taco shells in the fridge and love thin crust you can even fold it in half. How thinner can you get? You can use bagels, slice them into 5ths or thinner. Bread – like garlic bread, can be used as a base. Or most super markets sell fresh pizza dough you can shape, or already baked dough.
Sauce can be tomato, olive oil and garlic, or a cream sauce or anything desired. It is up to the imagination. I also keep a small can of tomato sauce in the pantry, add some italian dressing, some italian herbs let simmer for about 30 minutes, and great sauce.
Toppings: Well – cheese of course. And anything else you wish.
Steak – yes I said STEAK
Don’t get nervous. Steak is the quickest easiest dinner around. Yes it can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Personally I like med-rare to rare. Talk about fast. However, I do realize the majority of the population like med-rare to med. Anything beyond that – don’t eat steak.
Grill it, sear it and finish it in the oven, pan fry it or broil it.. but whatever you do DO NOT Microwave it! Take it off heat just before its done. Let rest for at least 5 minutes (I know this is tough to do) it will continue to cook a bit (which is why to take it off earlier than later)
Simple seasoning – rub it with oil, then salt and pepper. Anything more is for your specific tastes. (I like the Montreal seasoning.. mmmmmmm).
If one is new to cooking meat – feel it- poke at it and then poke at the meaty mound of your open hand below your thumb. If the steak feels that mushy – that is rare. Then touch your thumb to your index finger and touch that same part – that is med rare. Time to take that meat off the heat dude. Like I said earlier.. more done than that you cannot call yourself a meat eater.. ; )
Side Dishes? Ok – here are some simple ones:
Broccoli (sugar snap peas, almost any veg) – sautéed with olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic
Potatoes – diced cooked in the microwave (almost any veg), seasoned with butter, salt and pepper
Salad – whatever you have in the house and toss with favorite dressing (or dressing on the side)
Pasta – just follow the directions on the box and then toss with olive oil salt and pepper for a quick side or with your favorite sauce.
It has been said – “The way to a man’s heart is through is the stomach”.. but what many men do not know – WOMEN love a man who can cook more.