Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dinner dilemma

Your cooking challenge - should you choose to accept it - is threefold:

1. After a day of fishing, cavorting, boating and frolicking with visiting relatives, you must find a meal that doesn't involve the phrase "would you like to supersize that?"

2. In order to make it through the store without stopping in the Bribery Aisle (cheap toys) you were forced to promise a dessert that was not only fun, but that they could help with.

3. Friends are visiting, so you have two fair maidens and one hero/prince/dragon/dog that are not only hungry, but eager to help with the promised interactive dessert.

Dinner solution: Garden Veggie Spaghetti...

1 pkg Mild Italian Sausage (links or ground)
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cups or 2 cans diced/crushed/stewed tomatoes (whatever you have on hand)
1 onion, diced
2 green peppers, chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
olive oil
Italian seasonings
1 tbsp sugar

Brown sausages in a few tbsp olive oil. Slice links into big bites and put back into pan. Add onion and sauté. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season to taste (the sausage will add a bit of salt so make sure not to add too much. My grandma always added a bit of sugar to the sauce - that's why I use it. Add green peppers and mushrooms last, cook until they're just done (I like the peppers still tender-crisp). Serve over your favorite shape of noodles.

I like fresh spaghetti sauce because you save all the vitamins and nutrients and vegetable-goodness in the sauce instead of discarding it with the cooking water. While I can't always get my kids to eat the actual vegetables, I tell myself that they're still getting some of the vitamins and stuff by eating the plain red sauce on their noodles. Plus it has a lot less salt and sugar than the bottled variety. Because I like my vegetables firmer and not cooked to death, I don't do the cook-all-day spaghetti sauce and instead adapt this quick version to whatever vegetables I have hanging around. My kids like sausage and usually eat this spaghetti sauce right up.

Instead of the Mild Italian sausage, Joe loves the hot variety. The ground sausage adds a little too much heat for me so I always use the links. It's a bit too spicy for the kids though. If you're feeling extra adventurous, crumble a bit of goat cheese on your spicy sauce.

Dessert solution: Frutie Tootie Pie...

1 Oreo cookie crust
1 pkg pudding mix (any type, we had banana in the pantry)
2 cups milk
1 cup fresh fruit (we had a banana and raspberries but you could use anything - mandarin oranges, strawberries, blueberries, peaches...)

Line the bottom of the pie crust with washed/sliced/prepared fruit, save a few pretty pieces for the top. Mix pudding and milk in blender. Pour pudding over fruit. Top with remaining fruit and crumble 1 Oreo cookie over the top. You could also use toasted coconut or sugared nuts if you had them. Really you could adapt this recipe to anything you had in your pantry.

OK so pudding and Oreos wasn't the most healthful thing I could think of, but they did have a helping of fresh fruit with their dessert right?


Hannah said...

Yum, Jeri!!

That red head is darling! I want her hair.

Anonymous said...


I'm pretty sure that when you mentioned "anything in the pantry" you weren't talking about us LAMMEEEOOOO chefs, because I'm pretty sure that the Frosted Flake/Garbage Bag/Hot Pepper Salsa concoction that might come from me and my pantry ain't any dessert anybody I know is gonna want to eat.

Seriously! Did I REALLY make you a dinner when you had baby #2? I'm embarrassed! Had I known I was cooking for Bobby Freaking Flay, I would've tried harder to cook something fancy - or more likely, wouldn't have volunteered to cook you anything at all.