This fall, I'm earning my black-belt in solo parenting. Corey's been gone all but five weeks since August. That's a pace of travel that's ridiculous even for him. He's home on the weekends, but I'm on my own when it comes to managing the school week and all that comes with it.
I think it's an understatement when I say: I've had to figure out a new way to do dinner when it's just me and four kids. I don't have the energy, time or focus to cook the way I do when Corey is home. And honestly, why bother? The kids don't eat that without a fight anyway.
But I also don't want to serve cereal or frozen pizza every night for dinner. It's fine on a really bad day. But this is my life right now; eating junk all the time isn't sustainable.
Enter: The menu of kid-friendly-but-still-healthy food. To make my list, recipes must be quick to make, easy to clean-up, be mostly real food and be something both the kids and I would want to eat.
The recipes I'm sharing today top that list. They are kid-friendly, even kid-sized, yet tasty and healthy. I originally got these recipes from Everyday Food (which has been discontinued with the December 2012 issue, a fact I am still in mourning about) (really - mourning), but I've adapted them quite a bit to make them even easier. Serve this with some apple or orange slices and some sugar snap peas to round out the meal.
Mini Turkey Burgers
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 small onion, grated OR 1 tablespoon dried onion
salt and pepper
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
12 whole wheat dinner rolls or mini hamburger buns
1. Combine ground turkey, cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and onion; season with salt and pepper. Mix gently. Form 12 small patties, about 2 inches each.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Cook patties until browned and cooked through, flipping once, about 5 minutes per side. Serve on dinner rolls with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard on the side.
1. The regular lean turkey works best for turkey burgers; the extra lean stuff is too dry.
2. I use regular bread crumbs, but you could use seasoned if that's all you have.
3. These reheat well for lunch the next day; just pop the burger in the bun into the microwave for 30 seconds.
Sweet Potato Fries
2 sweet potatoes, for about 2 pounds total, peeled and cut into 1/2-by-2-inch sticks
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1. Preheat over to a rip-roaring 450-degrees. Toss potato sticks with the olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Roast, flipping once, until tender and starting to brown, about 25-30 minutes.
1. If you're this whole meal, get the sweet potatoes in the oven before you start the burgers. That way, they'll be done about the same time.
2. Serve these as fast as you can for maximum crispness. Sweet potato fries tend to get soggy quickly.