I hate when people say they don’t have time to cook. If you don’t like to cook, that’s absolutely fine. I don’t like to empty the dishwasher. We all have our thing. But to say you don’t have time to cook is just an excuse. And recipes like the one we had for dinner tonight quickly take away those excuses. I work many different jobs, in addition to taking care of two young kids on my own, keeping the house in order and going to the gym five days a week. If I can find time to cook and make it work, so can everyone else. That being said, it does require a little advance planning, a reasonably stocked kitchen and a willingness to get in there and get it done. But it’s a priority for me … to cook … to feed my family … in more ways than one.
And if you don’t believe me, how about a recent study from Columbia University? Their findings showed that teens that have fewer than three family dinners per week are almost twice as likely to get lower grades in school than teens who have five to seven family dinners a week. The kids and I have dinner together every night of the week (except when they’re with The Ex), just as my sister and I did with our parents growing up. We talk about our day. We make funny faces. We run through the spelling words for an upcoming test. We are together.
Cooking for your family doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. The best meals usually aren’t. Hey, some nights are nothing more than soup or sandwiches. But my point is that even if you are short on time, you can still get a reasonably healthy meal on the table and break bread with your family, figuratively and literally. Lack of time is not an excuse. This recipe is a great example of that.
When Nick walked in the kitchen tonight, and asked what was for dinner, I told him the name of the recipe. “Ick. I don’t like Japanese food.” I told him it’s basically chicken and rice and he would try it and I’m sure he’d like it just fine. I made the dish while helping him with his homework and making a batch of cookies. That tells you how simple it is to make. The recipe says thirty minutes, and they are spot-on. I did make a few changes, but otherwise followed the recipe as shown below. You have your protein, you have your vegetables, you have a complete meal (and an inexpensive one to boot) in half an hour. And the taste? Delicious. I wouldn’t hesitate to make this again. It’s filling, without being overly so, and perfectly hit the spot. I had all the ingredients on hand except for the chicken, so this meal came in at just under six bucks for me. Love.
Madeline’s class is working on the letter E this week and today’s lesson was about ELEPHANTS and that they EAT peanuts. So now the plan to visit some elephants is on. I also hear that Pillow Pets makes an elephant one. With Pillow Pets making her Christmas list (can you believe I got the kids’ Christmas lists weeks ago?!), I’ll be hunting for that too.
I think this might actually be the first time she’s had peanuts that were in the shell. In fact, since I made her spit the first one out of her mouth, shell and all, I’m fairly certain it is. She is, however, no stranger to peanut butter. “Peanut jelly” is an oft-requested lunch.
When Nick was younger, after dinner, he liked to “help” with the dishes like Madeline is here. “Help” is a very loosely defined word. She takes a measuring cup and fills it with water, pouring it everywhere. Repeat. Sometimes the water even stays in the sink. Those are the times when I feel especially blessed. These days, Nick has progressed to playing on the computer after dinner (did you know that if you type in two addresses, Google Maps can tell you how long it will take you to walk the distance between them? very cool. I was totally schooled by my 8 year old) and Madeline is the in-house dishwasher. I swear I wash them again when she’s done.
Japanese Chicken-and-Egg Rice Bowl
Recipe courtesy of Family Fun magazine
2 cups white rice (I used brown rice)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 chopped scallions
1 cup chicken broth (I used organic, low-sodium)
1/2 cup shredded carrots (I used 3/4 cup)
2 cups baby spinach (I used 2-1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar (I used 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 chicken cutlets, cut into strips
5 large beaten eggs
Cook the rice (for a total of 4 cups of cooked rice). Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped scallions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the shredded carrots and baby spinach and stir until the spinach has completely wilted. Stir in the sugar and soy sauce. Add the chicken and simmer for 3 more minutes. Pour the eggs over the chicken mixture and simmer until the eggs are cooked through, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve the mixture over the cooked rice.