Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Adventurous Dinner

Most days when Stephen gets home from work I am tired and very ready for Daddy to be home. Today I felt energetic and especially wife-like, a bit like you see from the 50's commercials. When Stephen got home, I was in the kitchen preparing dinner and Zoey was at the table working on a project. Yes, the project eventually became a mess and I was not dressed up while trying to cook, but still, I was fairly impressed with my preparation for dinner.

We actually had quite an adventure making dinner tonight. Vegetarian Lasagna was on the menu, I was very excited about trying out a new recipe I found. Of course, I say I got it from a recipe, but I don't really follow the instructions very much anymore. I tend to get ideas of ingredients to put together and make my own creation.

I started to cut up vegetables and Zoey runs into the kitchen looking to help. At first there isn't a whole lot for her to do since she can't use a knife yet, so she went and found her broom and "swept" the kitchen. (I put swept in quotations because it's not really sweeping because she's not actually getting the floor any cleaner, but I still love that she understands to sweep the floor.)

As I finish cutting vegetables, Zoey finds the tea kettle and starts playing teapot. At this point I decide that tea sounds like the perfect thing to have with dinner. So, by Zoey's request (well, sort of) I start brewing Sweet Tea. (In a different pot by the way.)

Now all that is left to cut are herbs (fresh from our garden, yippee!) So Zoey helps me put the tea bags into the water to brew tea. She did very well opening the packets once I showed her how.

Next it was time to put all the ingredients together. This is Zoey's favorite part. She is perched on her chair ready to help. She got to help put the veggies in, then the beans, then the herbs and finally the tomatoes. And all this prep work leads to the very best part...stirring! Zoey loves to stir anything. She has had an interest in this for a while so we have taught her that the pot is hot and you use the spoon to stir and not touch the pot or stove. She does so well with this! I am very impressed with her level of understanding stove/kitchen processes. She she stirs everything together, and she is having a blast.

While the contents of the pot simmer and the noodles cook (silly me always forgets to put the noodles on first thing), I wash up some of the dishes that are piling up. (Don't dishes always seem to pile up?) Zoey was so cute though because she still wanted to help. (I love this girl!) So I gave her some silverware to put up. She did it! They weren't in the right spot per say, but they got from the pile on the counter into the drawer with the other silverware (and some did get in the right spots, just not all of them). I was impressed and happy because it was one less thing to do. Besides, she was so cute with her furrowed eyebrows while putting the silverware up.

So now, everything is ready to be put together and put into the oven. At this point, Zoey is pretty much done helping. I was very impressed though because we were working in the kitchen together for a good half an hour at least. That's not to bad for a 20 month old little girl. I decided the best way to get dinner finished was to set Zoey up with a project. I worked perfectly! She get situated in her chair at the table while I showed her how watercolors work. She was so excited to play in the water and she loved seeing the colors come to life. She had a blast painting and I got to finish up dinner. I'd say that was a win-win. Stephen came home and I think was impressed and happy at how content we looked. It was a very good day.

And dinner was delicious!

Here is my recipe for Vegetarian Lasagna:

You dice up some onions, garlic, peppers (I used green bell peppers), and mushrooms and sautee them in a pan. Then you add black beans (rinsed) and herbs. I used basil, cilantro, parsley and oregano. I then added a little lemon juice and some red pepper flakes (too make it a little spicy.) Then add tomatoes (I used a large can of crushed, but diced in a can or fresh would work too but then I would add some tomato sauce to make it saucier.)

I realize I don't have any measurements. I'm a look and taste sort of girl, so I added some and the tasted to see what it needed. I put all the veggies I had in it and a whole can of black beans because I wanted a really hearty lasagna.

Also, don't forget to cook the lasagna noodles. Then you put a little of the sauce on the bottom of your baking pan so the noodles don't stick. You layer noddles, cheese, veggie filling until you run out of ingredients or fill up the pan. Ricotta cheese is really yummy in lasagna, but I was all out so I just used Mozzarella for the middle and then Mozzarella and Parmesan for the top layer. Then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. And presto...Vegetarian Lasagna. Buon Appetit!

Okay, so I probably won't be giving many award winning recipes any time soon, but you get the picture. The most important thing is we had a blast cooking. I love it when Zoey helps, it makes the whole experience more interesting and she is learning so much.

Do you have any dishes you really enjoy making? Or do you have any fun ways to get the kids involved in the kitchen?

1 comment:

  1. I'm still trying to figure the whole cooking thing out. It's on my list of things I want to be better at. I just bought Gywenth Paltrow's new cookbook and I'm pretty excited about it. She includes tips on how to let the kids help with the cooking!