Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Working Mom Wednesday: Family Dinner

Working Mom WednesdayI'll admit it: my husband is a better cook than I am.

I went out to lunch the other day with another working mommy/pastor's wife (getting our money's worth from a sushi buffet--yum!) and we were talking about the various challenges of being a work-outside-the-home mom. She asked if I had any good tips for getting decent meals together after a long day at the office.

"Yeah... let my husband cook!" I quipped.

It's true, his meals are often more tasty and creative than mine, but when he doesn't volunteer his culinary skills, I generally fall back on easy, tried-and-true recipes (like my Swiss Chicken or Black Bean Cakes--recipes at the bottom of this post!) or something super-easy (read: lazy) like a Bertolli frozen pasta entree or--like tonight--grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I love a good meal, and I try to make sure we eat healthy, balanced meals, but to me, sitting down together--before Kate goes to bed or Matt runs off to an evening meeting or Bible study--is more important than having anything fancy for dinner. I save the new or tricky recipes for a weekend when I'm feeling domestic and can take my time and have fun with it.

As a Good Housekeeping article my mom clipped for me points out, sit-down meals give a family "civility, economy, and health" (I love that phrasing--sounds like the clipping was from 1950 rather than 2010), calories are burned in the group preparation of meal and table, and meaningful conversation can happen over the table that may not happen on the run. Also, a recent study shows that adolescent girls who eat family meals five or more times per week are 1/3 less likely to develop eating disorders. Good to know!


And now for a couple favorite recipes. I never post recipes because I in no way fancy myself a gourmet cook, but these are so easy, I have to share. I actually never look at the recipes, because they are simple and flexible enough to do from memory, with a little improvization...

Black Bean Cakes
The inspiration for these was my college cafeteria. I kid you not. They were so good, and when I saw this Pampered Chef recipe somewhere, I started making them for myself.

1 can black beans, drained and mashed
1/4 cup salsa (minimize juice)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
onions and/or corn, if desired
2 egg whites

Combine all ingredients, mold into patties, and brown in an oiled skillet. Serve on a bed of lettuce. The sauce (now this isn't from Pampered Chef, but what the lunch ladies told me) is salsa mixed with ranch dressing. Yum-mee. Top with sour cream.

Swiss Chicken

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 slices swiss cheese
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup milk
8 oz. stuffing mix

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 9 x 13 dish. Top each chicken breast with swiss cheese. Sprinkle stuffing mix around chicken. Combine soup and milk in bowl and pour over all. (The recipe only calls for 1/3 can of soup, but I like it saucy, and find that the stuffing doesn't cook thoroughly without more liquid, but it's a matter of taste, I guess.) Cover dish with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Serve with a green veggie for a complete meal!


Kerri said...

Jessica I love reading your posts even though I'm not a mom. It makes me happy reading about your family and the things you have to say.

Kristen P said...


Tracy Wells Miller said...

Yay - thanks for posting the black bean cakes recipe! I was going to ask for it when I read that you mentioned it -- nice that you beat me to the punch!


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