Monday, March 12, 2007

Toxic Sweet & Sour Meatball Dinner in Parenting Magazine

I was at the pediatricians the other day and found a Parenting Magazine sitting around taking up space. I stuffed one in my bag for the trip home in the subway because I sensed a nap coming on for Lucy and I had forgotten to bring some reading materials.

I'll be honest - I really dislike parenting magazines in general. The advice is routinely lame and often so icky and goody-two-shoes that I'm ashamed for them. I would hack off my tongue if I heard myself say things like, "On rainy days, I like to make puppets out of old socks and sew on button eyes and yarn hair from my sewing kit." Also, no one has their own identity - Jane, Mom of Aidan 3 and Suzy, 5. Marie, Mom to the beautiful Trini!

And they really play into parent's fears "When you brought your baby home, what was your biggest newborn fear? A) He's not breathing right! B) If I take her outside the house, she might get sick! or C) My baby doesn't seem to be bonding with me! (These are from Parenting Magazine) If you weren't anxious before you brought the baby home, you will be after you read these magazines. I don't need anything that will make me more neurotic than I already am.

Anyway, I was intrigued by Parenting Magazine's section on 7 Minute Meals. I think, "Great! I'm always up for a good idea." What I found was "Sweet and Sour Meatballs" (pictured above). It really looks like the cat pooped in a pile of Ramen Noodles. What did that poor food photographer have to do to ger her shot anyway? If you were a kid and your Mom put that plate down in front of you, would you eat your veggies? Maybe this is why toddlers are finicky eaters? Maybe we just cook them bad food.

The recipe boasts a 2 minute prep and 5 minute cook time. It calls for a package of Ramen Noodles, a package of cooked turkey meatballs, a bag of frozen Asian stir Fry vegetables and a quarter cup of sweet and sour sauce. I really want to make this just to see how bad it tastes. Should a parenting magazine be advocating a dinner with preservatives and processed food? What about offering parents a freshly-prepared simple meal without any processed foods? How about showing parents it is possible, even if they aren't foodies who have Gordon Ramsey on Tivo?

So, to put my money where my mouth is, I am going to give you my 7 minute meal. (Okay, so not really 7 minutes - 7 minute prep, 15 minute cook, 2 minute clean-up. Still, not too shabby.) This is my Let's-Go-To-The-Playground-Instead-Of-Shop-and-Cook-Dinner-Meal. That means, since I don't prep earlier in the day, I have to make the meal quickly right before we eat. I made it tonight because the weather was a balmy 55 degrees and Lucy wanted to do some time on the monkey bars. I had planned on doing a big shop at the market so I had to pull something together with limited ingredients.

Stay with me, I haven't measured this all out yet. I was spitballing. First, I pulled some sole out of the freezer (Any nice white flat fish will do, but meaty catfish also works well here, too.) and a package of frozen French cut green beans. I let them thaw while we were playing. When we got back, I put Edie on the couch for a late nap and let Lucy watch an episode of Handy Manny. The prep for the fish and beans was about 7 minutes - a third of an episode of Handy Manny.


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
For the fish: Figure one fillet per person
For the beans: A 10 oz. package of frozen beans can feed two to three people, but these beans were so good, I wished I had made another package for leftovers.

To Make the Fish:

* Put each piece of sole on a separate piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil.
* Spritz the fish with a little olive oil.
* Sprinkle some finely chopped cilantro over the top (If you have time to do a lovely cilantro butter in your food processor, all the better, but this will do in a pinch.)
* Put a sice or two of lemon on the fish or for a more lemony taste, give it a squeeze or two.
* Sprinkle a pinch of course sea salt over the top.
* Add a small pat of butter.
* Wrap the parchment or foil into a pouch and put it in a 400 degree oven to steam.

Now, For the Beans:

* Put the green beans in a small casserole dish (For even less clean up, you might also be able to do this in foil or parchment).
* Spritz with a little olive olive.
* Add a little course salt.
* A generous dolop of butter
* Add some finely chopped onions (This might have been better with leeks, but of course, I was out. Turns out the onions were yummy.)
* Throw in a handful of bread crumbs (Whatever kind or flavor is in the pantry).
* And a handful of shredded parmesan cheese (You can try whatever is on hand. Asiago might be great here.)
* Stick it right in the oven with the fish.

Leave it for 15 minutes, read some books with your kids or kiss your husband, but don't even give it a second thought.

The beans were a huge hit with David and Lucy ate most of her beans and all of her fish. The only thing we had to wash were plates, forks and a single casserole dish. A little more than 7 minutes, but the Toxic Sweet & Sour Meatball Dinner wasn't 7 minutes either...and this is much tastier and better for you.


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