Do You Always Eat Such Good Dinners?

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Good Dinners

Yesterday after school, we had my daughter’s friend, Emma, over for a play date. Like most multi-tasking mothers, I started getting ingredients for dinner ready while they were playing. Emma kept coming into the kitchen to stare at my ingredients and to ask questions. When I told her that we were making Asian Lettuce Wraps, she wanted to know why I liked to make foods from other countries. I happily explained how fun it is to try new foods. She leaned over the steaming pot of pad thai noodles and loved that they were almost invisible…I am so lucky to have a career that sparks such enthusiasm in kids!

When I found out that her mother was running late, Emma ran to the table to eat dinner with my kids. After the first bite, she asked, “do you always make such nice dinners?” I looked at the table and had to laugh. It was simple and took less than 30 minutes to prepare. But it made me realize that before I began meal planning, I made the same things over and over again. Emma explained that she was tired of the foods she got for dinner, and asked me if I could tell her mom what I did to the food to make it taste so good.

When her mother came to pick her up, her stood wide-eyed as the kids asked for seconds…and thirds, and ate their asian broccoli slaw! She admitted that until she saw Emma eating with such gusto, she hadn’t realized that she was in such a food rut. She started asking questions about What’s Cooking Weekly, my online meal planning service for families, and decided that she would give it a try. Even if she just tried a few of my menus, or simply added some of my sides to her existing repertoire, she said it was still a good value. She was also excited that she would start saving money on groceries, since she would go into the market knowing what she was looking for.

She nearly had to drag her daughter away from the table when I said that I had to save the rest of the food for my husband, who hadn’t arrived home from work yet.

So, what was that simple menu that caused such a sensation?

Asian Broccoli Slaw:
1 bag broccoli slaw mix from Trader Joe’s
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. sesame oil
2 Tbs. sesame seeds

Combine dressing mix and pour on salad, to taste.
Yes, that’s it!

Pad Thai:
This is embarassing – I used a package from Trader Joe’s that was in the back of my cabinet for 6 months. The kids loved it, and it was so easy that I’ll use it again. Next time, I might add some scrambled egg, tofu and maybe some julienned bell peppers or carrots.

Asian Lettuce Wraps:
1 pound ground turkey
1 can water chestnuts
1 small red onion
2 Tbs. oyster sauce
2 Tbs. hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
Juice from 2 limes
1 Tbs. brown sugar
Large lettuce leaves (bibb lettuce works well)

  1. Dice water chestnuts and red onion. Combine in a bowl, along with the oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, salt, lime juice and brown sugar.
  2. In a large skillet, begin to brown the ground turkey. After 3 minutes, add red onion mixture.
  3. Cook until the turkey is done.
  4. Serve by putting the turkey mixture on top of a lettuce leaf. You can wrap them like a burrito, or like a taco. Either way, be prepared for some of the filling to fall out. The kids loved the fun and challenge of eating their food like this!
  5. Serve with Asian broccoli slaw, pad thai noodles or steamed brown rice.

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Filed under Meal Planning, Musings of a Cooking Teacher..., Recipes

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