Food is my love language. I was raised in a family that loved delicious meals, fine restaurants and quality ingredients. The table was set, the wine poured, and the meal served in a simple but pretty way.
It’s the sense of what family is at the dinner table. It was the joy of knowing mother was in the kitchen making our favorite dish. I wish more people would do this and recall the joy of life.
~ Paul Prudhomme
I have sought to keep that same value in my home as much as I can. I buy flowers for the table, a child sets the table every evening, and a meal is served, no matter how simple. Anytime there have been offerings of extracurricular activity that might threaten that dinner routine, I have said no again and again.
But as we moms know, seasons change and with that, so must our routines. We have decided to allow our middle school son to play football with a local homeschool league this fall, and my daughter is going to be a varsity cheerleader for that same program. Practice begins next week on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays from 6-8:30pm. We must leave our home at 5:30.
Many of us mothers living in these middle years struggle with providing a decent dinner. When our babies were younger, we had more scheduling control. As we advance towards the teen years, our children have broader interests and their lives push them outside the home more and more. We find that our times of meaningful mealtimes are harder to come by and require more thought and planning.
I am looking for sustainable ways to feed my family good food with a busy practice schedule but with short prep and eating time.
Here are three recipes that everyone likes right now (wow!) and are easy to get on the table:
Don’t fool with making your own pesto. Buy prepared pesto in the spaghetti sauce section of the grocery store. Heat 2-3 Tbsp of the pesto with the 2 Tbsp of butter and the 1/2 cup cream over medium-low. We prefer linguini with this dish, and we usually skip the tomatoes. You could also add cooked chicken, shrimp or broccoli. Serve with a crusty baguette and bagged salad.
If you own a rice cooker, make your rice early in the day! You can also do all the measuring and chopping of the green onion early, toss in a bowl together and refrigerate until later. I serve this with some fresh pineapple on the side. Double this recipe.
California Chicken Salad or Black and Bleu Salad
These are both riffs on the salads that O’Charley’s has on their menu that I have recreated for the past 10 years.
For the California Chicken Salad, toss some chicken tenderloins in a marinade (Italian dressing is simple) in the morning. Later, sauté the chicken in a pan for 10 minutes or grill them. Serve over chopped Romaine with dried cranberries, canned mandarin orange slices, sliced strawberries, sugared chopped pecans (put some butter in a small skillet over medium, add the pecans with some sugar for about 5 minutes) and crumbled blue cheese. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette.
The Black and Bleu Salad is similar. Marinate a top sirloin steak (we like Lawry’s Steak and Chop) all day. Cook and crumble a pound of bacon. Later, grill the steak for close to 20 minutes or broil. Serve over chopped Romaine with sliced Roma tomatoes, crumbled bacon and crumbled blue cheese. I like this with Ranch Dressing.
Do you have a favorite recipe or two that you get on the table quickly without sacrificing taste and quality?