With all due respect, I am not really an Iron Chef. The good Lord above knows that I cannot create original recipes using the key ingredients of chocolate and sea urchin, but what I can do is make somewhat edible food every once in a while.
Well, that’s a start, to be sure.
But what has rocketed me into Rock star status with the kids is the fact that I have been making meals that they like and is not the usual so-so fare. In fact, my kids have finally stopped complaining, and they’re (gasp) actually eating! To what do I owe the honor of harmony at the dinner table? AllRecipes.com! They have a new menu service that is so spectacular that I felt I must gush. About a week or so ago, I received an e-mail asking me if I’d like to try the menu service for $1. As a regular free customer of AllRecipes.com, I have had good luck with the recipes I have chosen to make, so I felt okay about spending some dough, so to speak. There was a catch, of course. Sure, it was a dollar for a little while and then the site would charge a monthly fee. I know how I am about those monthly fees — I sign up and then forget about them. Just ask Massage Envy how I am about monthly fees — I’m a terrific client because they get my money and I don’t use them. Anyway, I finally signed up for the 2 year plan for only about $23 for the two years. That was painless and I figured if I actually used the service, it would be well worth the cost.
I chose the plan called “5 Dinners in 60 Minutes or Less,” because I hate to cook, so the title seemed appealing to my less-than-enthusiastic cooking personality. I clicked on the recipes to see what I could expect to be making. One thing to note is that you have to increase or decrease the amount of servings you and your family needs. We’ve got quite the crowd so I had to increase all the numbers. I then downloaded the handy grocery shopping list. Each item is placed in its proper category (dairy, spices, etc.) so I was easily able to cross off what I already had on hand, and only buy the supplies I really needed.
My daughter helped me at the grocery store so it was almost like a free home school course as well. “Mom, what is ginger? What does it look like?” “Mom, what are snow peas?” As a mom, I felt great that I was able to teach my daughter about the various vegetables not commonly found in our usual diet. She is exposed to a greater variety, and because she chose the vegetables, herbs, and fruits, she is more likely to try what is made from each.
My husband groaned when he saw all the produce. All he can recall is each time I vow to do better with dinner and don’t follow-through. He asked how long does it take to turn green onions and rosemary into slimey mush, and wondered out loud if we couldn’t just throw the vegetables out now to avoid the work of mopping up the drawer later? I just smiled knowingly; his comments made me more determined than ever to follow-through. Although the recipes go from Monday to Friday, I started on a Sunday to allow more time for me to adapt for guaranteed success. Nothing like staring at a new recipe I’ve never made before at 5:30 on a Monday night when the kids keep whining, “What’s for dinner? Will it be ready SOON? I’m STARVING!” to make me turn and run straight back to meals from a box.
We are now three days in, and like I said, my kids sing my praises every night at the dinner table. Last night’s Simple Lemon Herb Chicken, and Easy Garden Green Beans were a hit. Everyone ate all their food, and each wanted more. Next time I will have to add even more servings to our usual count!
And, if you’re unlike me, and enjoy tweaking recipes, the AllRecipes.com site encourages you to do so and then let everyone else know what you did. I have followed others’ suggestions and have been happy with the outcome. I won’t be making any changes soon as I simply follow each instruction to the letter.
Am I an Iron Chef willing to go off the plan? Nope, not there yet, but ask me again at week 12, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be taking on Bobby Flay!