Simple Weeknight Dinners

We are busy. Ridiculously busy. Between events, dance classes, running errands, etc. it’s hard to just have a night of quiet. OK. Not hard. Nearly impossible it seems. So, I am on the lookout for easy weeknight dinners that don’t require a lot of prep work and can be done in little time….And that the girls will want to eat.

One of our go-to meals is mini pizzas made on English muffins. Spread some pasta sauce on the English muffins. Add some cheese. Throw it in the oven and you’ve got pizzas. I’ve been trying to use it as an easy way to get the girls to eat more veggies but they keep picking them off. Thankfully, they’ll both eat a handful of carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes if they won’t veggies on their pizza.

What are your favorite recipes for easy weeknight dinners?

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Halloween Cereal Taste Test

You can only get them once a year. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Franken Berry. Boo Berry. Count Chocula. You know you love them! But, which one is your favorite? The kiddos and I decided to do a taste test for dinner. (Yep. I’m that mom. Cereal for dinner. Three kinds of cereal for dinner!)

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And here’s one of my assistant…….she’s so helpful……

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The plan: I added some of each flavor to some small cups (these are the same cups that I use for pudding like this Princess pudding). The kiddos and I each had a few bites of each flavor and then voiced our favorite.

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The final result of this very scientific taste test? Well, it’s a draw. Big girl’s favorite is Count Chocula. Baby girl’s favorite is Franken Berry. And I really like Boo Berry. So, now I turn to you.  What’s your favorite?

Sometimes….I think about a well-balanced meal…..

Sometimes, I really try to think about ensuring that I have a well-balanced meal. Sometimes, I try to be sure that I am eating fruits and veggies with my meal. I do that for my girls. Why wouldn’t I do it for myself? Sometimes, my meal is a giant salad. (I’ve written before about my newfound love for bagged salads which is what I’ve done almost every day for my lunch now that school has started.)

Sometimes, I am very careful about what I’m eating for dinner.

But….sometimes….I’m exhausted and I have zero effort left in me and dinner is a bowl of cereal once the girls have gone to bed. I know the importance of eating a meal together but I also know that the girls need to eat, read, do homework, have a bath/shower, get in their jammies. While they are doing that, I need to get laundry done (started), load/unload the dishwasher, and get some miles completed on the treadmill. If there’s extra time, I would much rather have some extra snuggle time with my girlies while we read (for the 2,000,000th time) something by Mo Willems.

So, sometimes, I really try to make that effort to eat something that’s well-balanced.

And sometimes, dinner is cheese with a side of cheese.

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Manchego cheese with manchego cheese – why have a cheese board filled with things you might not like when you can have two giant cheeses that you know you will love? 🙂

To be honest, I am going to give myself credit for the hard apple cider that I drank along with this meal. That’s fruit! So, dairy, carbs and fruit. Not too bad.

Dinner with Kids – Sometimes you win….Sometimes

After we went to the Country Fair at Kline Creek Farm, big girl was very interested in finding more ways to use honey. We had the chance to see honey being harvested straight from the hive. And we were able to taste the freshest honey possible – right off of the honeycomb. Well, we bought a container of honey when we went blueberry picking during our recent Michigan vacation. So, I started to plan. How about breakfast for dinner? (One of my favorite meals to make for myself.) I made cheesy scrambled eggs, opened a new container of canned peaches (we get them from Costco….and we go through them crazy fast), and I made some toast with butter and honey drizzled on it.

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Honestly, I was really happy with this meal. I thought that they would be excited about it. Look! Honey! And it tasted just as fresh as the honey that we had right off of the honeycomb at the Country Fair…..and guess what the girls ate for dinner?

Um.

Canned peaches. No cheesy scrambled eggs. No toast. I think they both licked the honey off of the toast. So, there’s that.

*sigh*

Dinner time. Sometimes you win. Sometimes. This just wasn’t one of those times.

Dinner and the Checklist

My girls are 5 and 3 years old. That means, of course, that Rainforest Cafe is one of their favorite places to eat. So, of course, it was on the summer checklist. Not only do they love the food, the girls also love walking around and trying to find all of the animals. Little girl seemed a little worried when the “storm” happened (there is a thunder sound and the lights flash off and on) but that was really the only issue.

The checklist thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Winning at Parenting

Now, I certainly don’t always feel this way but sometimes I really do feel like I’m winning at this parenting thing. Sometimes. Sometimes.

For example, sometimes, your girls find a new kind of mac ‘n cheese that they want to try and they help you make princess pudding for dessert. And the girls aren’t arguing while helping with the cooking. And they eat all of their dinner. And they clear their places after dinner without being reminded to.

Sometimes.

 

Baking – Banana Bread from a mix

I love baking mixes. Do the end results taste as good as something completely made from scratch? Honestly, I think so. Although, I usually add some extra ingredients to the mixes to give them a bit more of a “from scratch” taste.

And honestly, when you have a couple bananas that are past the stage in which you would want to eat them, what’s better than banana bread? Not much, right?

Now, when I have the time, I have a recipe for banana bread that I like because it is so easy to put together. I’ve blogged about it here.

But, when it’s a summer morning and we have to get a lot of other stuff done, a mix is perfectly fine.

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