My two oldest children each make one full meal for our family each week. When I set up recipes for the kids, especially in the beginning, I make extra step by step directions for anything I think they may have trouble with, including starting times for each component of the meal. I keep the kids special recipes in a file on my computer, and print them out new nearly every time they make that dish. I include comments about any substitutions directly on the recipe, and also directions about what to make to finish the meal.
I also like to teach them a component that they will be able to use for various meals. For example, Brett learned to make Ragu (spaghetti sauce), so he can use it for pasta, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, or lasagna. In this recipe, he learned to make a white cream sauce. This is the same basic sauce I use for making macaroni and cheese or hot brown sandwiches. Although right now he is just repeating this recipe as part of his regular rotation, soon he will use this same cream sauce to make a variety of other meals. I will be able to print out or copy the portion of this recipe onto a new document, add more directions or variations, and he will be all set to go.
One of my workmates recently said, “Well, my kids could probably make dinner too, if I left out the exact directions for them to follow.” Well, that’s what I do! She acted like it was too much hassle, and she would rather come home and cook for herself. Not me! I am never so delighted as when I walk into the house and dinner is cooking, the sink is full of half-washed dishes, and one of my darling children is responsible. This is what I came home to on Wednesday night:
Tuna Noodle Casserole
½ onion, chopped small
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
In a saucepan, cook onion in butter till tender. Stir in flour, ½ teaspoon salt and dash pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Turn off heat, stir in sour cream.
Heat a large pan of water to boiling. Salt liberally. Cook medium noodles (16 ounces) or 3 cups elbow macaroni. (About 10 minutes.) Drain.
Saute 1 cup chopped onion, 2 carrots, chopped, 2 bell peppers, chopped, and 2 zucchini sliced, in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cook until carrots are beginning to be soft. Salt.
Stir together: sauce, noodles, vegetables, 2 cans tuna (drained) , and 1 ½ cups milk.
Spray 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Put noodle mixture in baking dish, top with 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
START FOCCACIA BREAD AT 4:00.
START TUNA CASSEROLE AT 5:00.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR GOOD WORK. I LOVE YOU.
These are the extra notes at the bottom of the recipe I printed out for Brett to make today.
Another important point about this recipe is that it is made of REAL FOODS. The original recipe called for cans of cream of mushroom and celery soups instead of the white sauce. At first, I wondered if kids were able to make the simple cream sauce I always substitute for those cans in any recipe I make. So I allowed them to make the recipe using the canned components. With my excuses if it hurts your feelings: NASTY! The canned taste ruins the dish for me. Try using this simple recipe: if Brett can do it, so can you! And thank you, Brett, this was wonderful!
Do you have other simple meal components you think it is important to learn to make? Leave me a comment!