“May the odds be ever in your favor!”
That quote seems pretty appropriate for the start of our Family Food Competition this week. If you are like my hubby and I, we often have no idea what we want to cook for dinner, we seem to cook the same 4 meals (tacos, spaghetti, some kind of chicken dish, and leftovers/thrown together meal with what we have in the pantry) and with both of us working, some nights we have no interest in cooking at all. Add in any nights, I meet my running group, The Woo Hoo Crew for a night run, dinner gets disrupted. Most nights, we end up getting take-out and regret spending the money cause we’re being lazy. So we invented the Family Food Competition!
Each work week, we decide to cook 2 of our ol’ standby meals and the other two nights, Nick takes a night to cook and I take a night to cook. We figured Friday, Saturday and Sunday were kitchen free nights. The two nights that we cook individually, we have to try something new. Our 9 year old daughter, H, is a judge and she decides which meal she likes best. We knew going into this, we would definitely tie if the vote was left to her. Our sweet girl is too concerned to hurt anyone’s feelings, but it was fairly obvious which she preferred, the empty plate verdict was undeniable.
We had a busy week and we knew that Tuesday we wouldn’t be eating at home. We were going to see our friend, Nathan‘s recital. So were were definitely making it a night of it and were meeting friends out at our favorite restaurant, Lindley Park Filling Station. So that left Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night. Nick took Monday and I took Wednesday. Yesterday ended up being a white-out literally, we got snow and we opted for Subway sandwiches and take out. It’s all about baby steps when breaking bad habits, right?!
So for Nick’s dish, he made a mean meatloaf wrapped in bacon. It was fantastically delicious. The bacon made the meat so tender and who doesn’t love some bacon! For his side dish, he used the bag of hash browns we had in our fridge that was getting close to expiring and he whipped up a casserole. I was pretty impressed! I’m not sure where he got the idea to do that on the fly, but it worked out perfectly. He opted to use Panko breadcrumbs in lieu of the cornflakes called for in the recipe. It was rich, cheesy and super tasty! H loved the meal and her empty plate was going to be hard to beat. Nick was walking away with this one and I hadn’t even cooked yet.
Wednesday, it was my turn. I had already found the recipe I was going to use, Rigatoni and Sausage Bake. My goal was to have a salad as a side, but we all snacked on all the veggie toppings while I cooked. We had most of the ingredients needed for the bake already, so I just needed to grab some Italian sausage and ricotta. I opted for half mild, half hot sausage, hoping to add just a kick to the mostly cheese recipe. I also added some sauteed mushrooms too, just because I like them. After 30 minutes of baking, I pulled the dish out of the oven and it was bubbling and gooey and smelled fantastic. I knew this would be a tough sell to Nick and H, but the whole purpose of this competition was to try new recipes. Nick isn’t a big fan of “big” pasta or mushrooms and H doesn’t like mushrooms, but will occasionally eat sausage.
Nick liked it, surprisingly. He thought it was all his favorite parts of lasagna, but he would have liked it better with ground sausage vs. slices. I agreed. H ate the noodles, freaked out when she found a mushroom (how did I miss that one!) and she didn’t touch any of the sausage. She had a 1/4 of plate full and when I asked if she was done eating, she was done. I asked her if she liked the food and what was her vote, she said she liked it, but her plate read a different story. And with that sad plate of half eaten noodles and sausage, I lost the 1st Family Food Competition.
Nick – 1 Me – 0
The unseen plus side of both our recipes, leftovers! I ate leftover meatloaf and hash brown casserole on Tuesday and I dished out 3 containers of the sausage bake for myself, my sister and my dad for lunches the next day.
Our goal next week is to let H choose the recipe and help with the cooking. She’s at a great age now where she can help with some of the chopping and prep work. She also wanted to have her own night where she cooked, but she laughed when she realized she could only cook PBJ sandwiches and H’s Famous Nachos (tortilla chips with shredded cheese, microwaved until the cheese melts). Sounds like a winner to me!