Friday, July 30, 2010

Le Pièce de Résistance

There's nothing like a buffet-style dinner to bring out the creativity in the kids! Recently here in the Northeast US we had a heat wave, so naturally I didn't want to heat up the kitchen by cooking. So I thought a savory salad would do the trick. I put a dry rub on a piece of steak, then cooked it up on the grill. The kids and I went out to the garden to pick some fresh lettuce. A couple of sliced peppers, cheese cubes, tomatz, and a drained can of beans later, dinner was done.

Henry surprised the heck out of me by piling on the veggies, then drizzling the ranch dressing around the rim of the plate like a sous at Babbo.

He wanted to make a video of his masterpiece, so I let him. Here it is:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Looking to Video Games for Inspiration

This spring, I became one of those parents who downloads a boatload of little-kid apps for the iPhone to keep the rug rats happy during long waits. One of the apps I bought is Cooking Mama, a fun little game where the idea is to succesfully to prepare a variety of meals. The player performs kitchen tasks -- stuff like chopping vegetables by dragging his finger across the screen and sautéeing things in a pan by shaking the phone around -- in order to complete the recipe. The kids and I all love this game, so one day I decided to prepare one of the Cooking Mama recipes, Hamburgers Cooked in Tomato Sauce.

At first, my idea was to involve Jack and Henry in the food prep so that they would see how the various things they did in the video game translated into real life. But when it came time to cook they had better things to do, so I prepared the recipe myself.

And boy, did it turn out great! The burgers were mild enough to be very accessible to both boys while having enough flavor for me. Henry and Jack really scarfed them up, giving the big thumbs up when I asked them how they liked it. I can't wait to try some of the other recipes that Cooking Mama taught us!

Cooking Mama Hamburgers in Tomato Sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 T vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
salt and pepper
1 14 oz. can tomato purée

Sauté the onion until it is soft, not brown (or Cooking Mama will get fire eyes and you will FAIL). Put the onion in a large bowl, then add everything except for the tomato purée. Knead this mixture with your hands until it is completely blended, then form patties. Sauté these on both sides in a large skillet, doing this in two batches if necessary, until the patties are almost cooked through. Drain any accumulated grease from the pan, then pour in the tomato purée and cook, covered, for about five minutes. Serve the patties with the sauce from the pan.