The “Kid-Friendly” Meal That Backfired

I like to think of myself as a fairly good cook.  When the children were younger, before they were old enough to take part in every extra-curricular activity known to man (and I am serious about that, my daughter just joined the Ping-Pong team at school after my lecture about the importance of being involved in things at school so your college resume looks good), I would make a big dinner every night which always included a meat, a starch, and two vegetables.  Fast forward a decade and although I still make dinner every night, they aren’t quite as lavish and creative as they used to be.  These days my idea of a good dinner is a bowl of chili (you get meat, vegetables, and a starch all in one pot) and a fruit salad.  Periodically when I am sitting in the den folding a ton of laundry, I will flip it on Rachel Ray.  She comes up with some pretty good ideas and the meals are pretty easy.  I have never found myself able to actually prepare one of her meals in 30 minutes, but usually within an hour and a half I can make something similar to what she suggested.  It makes me laugh now to write this because I am having flashbacks to my son’s 7th birthday.  My big Irish family came over to celebrate and I decided to impress them with something I found in my Rachel Ray cookbook.  I was going to whip up some nice sirloin burgers with homemade, beer battered; Cajun spiced onion rings.  I had to use about 20 bowls to dip the onions in and as I reached up to get them, they all came crashing down and I sliced my finger open.  I went to the emergency room to have it stitched up while the family stayed home and ordered pizza.Anyways, on the show she was going to prepare a kid friendly dinner that was sure to make kids smile and not hurt your budget.  My ears perked up and I grabbed a piece of paper and started taking notes.  Budget friendly and happy kids…count me in!  The recipe was Fish Stick Parmesan.  Hmm…keep an open mind I told myself.  You use inexpensive fish sticks (I have no idea what part of a fish a “fish stick” comes from but I was willing to try it), a little tomato sauce and some Parmesan cheese”. For a veggie she made antipasto nachos.  Basically pita bread with spinach, artichoke hearts, mushroom, and calamati olives.  She then “hid” the vegetables under cheese and baked it until bubbly and golden brown. My kids love bread and cheese, maybe I could get away with hiding the veggies underneath.  I grabbed what was in my pantry and decided to improvise with English muffins, a can of mixed vegetables and some American cheese slices. After few tough math problems that my daughter and a couple extra minutes in the oven and instead of golden brown and bubbly my Antipasto Nachos were a little burnt around the edges.  And trust me, the kids noticed the vegetables even under the thick layer of cheese. To sum up the success of that meal….let me just say that there were a ton of leftovers that even the dog wouldn’t eat.  My kids still laugh about our Fish Stick Parmesan and Vegetable Nachos, so the upside to that meal was the memory that we share.  But I think for the time being I will stick to one pot meals….and maybe the next time a celebrity chef says “your kids will love it”, I should make sure they have kids to test it out on

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