October 13, 2011

On being a lazy parent:

We've all been there.  It's time to feed the children, but there are a thousand other things you would like to be doing than cooking.  Maybe the game is about to start, maybe it was a long day at work and you just want to sit down; it could be practically anything.  The point is that pretty much anyone-even those of us who enjoy cooking so much they feel like writing about it-don't always want to get stuck in the kitchen. 

Take this morning.  Boy and I had just returned from dropping off Wife at work.  He wanted to hop onto Netflix and finish watching "Garfield's Pet Force."  I wanted to do some prep work for the stir fry I was going to make for dinner.  Spending half an hour to make something fancy was out of the question.  Still, I didn't want to resort to cereal, cold or hot.  Our eggs were already claimed for other things.  It was a similar situation to the one that caused me to make the breakfast ramen I wrote about earlier.  This time, however, I didn't come up with any new ideas.  I turned to a cheat.

Cheats are the dishes that I--and many parents just like me--keep in our back pockets for just such an occasion.  Easy recipes that don't use more than a handful of ingredients and don't take much time off the clock.  Grilled cheese sandwiches are perhaps the quintessential cheat food: three ingredients, a few minutes, and yet everyone is satisfied.  It's true that you can add steps to make a grilled cheese sandwich more gourmet, but whether you are going fancy or just plain exotic,  it is hard to live up to the simple perfection of white bread, butter, and sharp cheddar.  Buttered noodles, peanut butter and jelly-the list of cheats handed down through the ages is a long one.  This is one of mine.

Cream Cheese

Peanut Butter


It's a peanut butter and cream cheese quesadilla.  If it were a movie its tagline would be:  "Five ingredients.  Five minutes.  Breakfast."

This is how easy it is.  Preheat a pan on medium heat, and get out as many tortillas as needed, typically two per person although you can do the folded method for smaller eaters.  Smear one tortilla with creamy peanut butter and the other with cream cheese.  Neither layer needs to be super thick, but there should be enough topping to completely conceal the tortilla underneath.  I just so happened to have strawberry cream cheese, but regular cream cheese works just fine.  You could even use regular cream cheese AND actual strawberries, but then the whole tagline goes to hell. 

Then sprinkle one of the sides with a tablespoon of brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Put them together and cook each side until golden brown and the filling begins to ooze out of the sides.

Just as oozy as a regular quesadilla!

But I didn't write a blog post (just) to tell you that you could make a quesadilla with peanut butter.  It's really more the concept of cheats that I am interested in.  Sure, if you incorporate canned pasta and frozen pizza and the litany of convenience foods into the mix then it's pretty easy to have an inexhaustable supply of cheats, but I'm talking about being lazy, not giving up entirely.  Just because I don't feel like cooking doesn't mean I won't take the time to give my family real food.  I know quite a few shortcuts to get out of the kitchen quickly, but it's always good to know more, and what I really want is to hear what you do when the stove has become the enemy, so if you've read this far use the comments section down below and let me know your cheats.  Maybe we can all get out of the kitchen a bit earlier this week. 

1 comment:

  1. My favorite is Italian Chicken. Take some chicken breasts and cute them into strips. Put them in a pan, pour enough italian dressing to sauce it up a bit and cover with a lid. Cook on med until done. Stir occasionally. Boil in a bag rice and frozen corn make quick and easy side dishes. You could even throw veggies in the chicken to make a quick and interesting stir fry. It the sauce is runny, put a pat or two of butter in it to thicken. Enjoy!