If the idea of cooking with dad raises a few eyebrows, it’s because many dads tend to stay out of the kitchen, not because they are male chauvinists in as much as they may simply lack the confidence. Even if you are afraid of the kitchen, there are a lot of good reasons to give it a shot.
Anyone can throw together something snackish or microwavable. But when it comes to serious food preparation, sometimes we psyche ourselves out — and that’s when we fail before we even begin.
Take your kids into the kitchen and give them some simple tasks to help you prepare dinner. Here are 5 simple but extra-special recipes that are not only fun to do with the kids, but they say to your wife: I care enough about you to prepare great food at least once a week and clean up afterwards.
1. Fish with a Flair:
- Take fresh fillets of any light whitefish (such as tilapia, cod or haddock). Pat dry with a paper towel, salt with fresh ground sea salt, then drag through a bowl of any standard fish breader – House Autry is my favorite.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium plus temperature and add a quarter cup of olive oil.
- Cook the fish 4 minutes on each side.
- Serve immediately.
- Accompany with steamed mixed vegetables and instant mashed potatoes. Adding a loaf of fresh sourdough bread heated in the oven before you serve makes for a real treat.
2. Skillet Dinner:
This is a family favorite from way back. Very simple.
- First, brown a pound of ground beef. Then drain the fat.
- Meanwhile, cook a cup full of elbow noodles (8 minutes in boiling water) then drain away all the water.
- Combine the beef and the cooked noodles with 8 ounces of cream cheese.
- Mix until the cheese is melted and well-distributed. Add one can of tomato soup and mix well.
- Cover the top of the mixture with grated cheddar cheese. (If you are cooking in an iron skillet, this can go directly into the oven. Otherwise, spoon the mixture into a casserole dish before covering with cheese.)
- Finally, cook at 360 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with steamed mixed vegetables and bread.
3. Everything Stew:
Big pots of stew look complex and impressive but, given a little prep, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Lots of bang for your buck.
- First, put a big pot on medium high and spray a little olive oil in the bottom.
- Add a package of chicken thighs and dust them with a tablespoon of flour. Salt with raw sea salt and keep them moving until they begin to brown on the outside.
- Add a cup of broth, then stir in two onions quartered, a clove of garlic minced, three stalks of celery chopped, and a large bag of fresh “baby” carrots.
- Keep the temperature at medium and stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
- Add a can of diced tomatoes, and a packet of fresh mushrooms.
- Every time you add a new ingredient, shake a little salt as it goes in.
- Bring the entire pot to a boil, then back it down to low and simmer covered for a good (1) hour.
- Serve on top of rice.
4. Pork Tenderloin and Yellow Rice:
This is a slam dunk.
- Put a little olive oil in a medium high heated skillet and sear the steaks on both sides.
- Then turn the heat down to simmer, pour a quarter cup of orange juice over the meat.
- Put a can of artichoke hearts around the meat, and slow cook for 30-45 minutes, turning often. Season with a little sage and some sea salt.
- Add a little orange juice every time the pan threatens to get dry.
- Meanwhile, prepare a packet of yellow rice according to directions.
- On the side, heat a can of black beans.
- Get a small, sweet onion and chop it until it’s almost minced.
Serve when the rice is done, the pork is tender, and the black beans are hot. Put rice in a bowl, hollow out a circle in the middle, pour the beans into the hole, and put the onion on top of the beans. Serve with fresh Cuban bread.
5. Lamb Chops:
Go to a grocery store with a good butcher. Ask for fresh, meaty lamb chops. This time you’ll need two hot skillets at the same time because I’m having you cook fresh asparagus too.
- First, prep both the asparagus and the chops.
- Cut the woody end off the asparagus, spray with a light coat of olive oil, add some freshly ground sea salt, and set aside. Do the same with the chops. The salt, added before you cook, will enhance the flavor.
- Heat both skillets to medium high temperature.
- In one skillet, put some butter and half an onion chopped. You want to caramelize the onions (until a rich brown color).
- While that’s happening, put two tablespoons of olive oil in the other skillet and add the lamb chops.
- Cook them around 5 minutes each side, the same way you like a good steak. While cooking, add a pinch of sage and some fresh mint or a tablespoon of mint jelly.
- Meanwhile, take the asparagus and throw it on top of the caramelized onions, add a quarter cup of hot water, put a lid on it, and turn off the heat. Seven (7) minutes later, it should be just right.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and kids and plan some menus together.