Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chicken Thursday? Nope, Not Here!

Every time I make tacos or anything similar, I think of that commercial. I tried to find a video of it online, but was not able to.  Otherwise I would have posted it here to get it stuck in your head too!

I am not a menu planner like that. I know a lot of people that are. I'm sure that, ages ago, Mom was like that too.  But it still doesn't get the image of a chicken in a Thursday sweater out of my head.

Last night the kiddos wanted tacos. I had no soft tortillas in the house (or at least not enough for them!!) and I really didn't feel like tacos.  The thrill of a taco is purely in the act of putting them together, and I just did not want to get it all together.  Especially since I have to cut up all the usual options to please the family even though they hardly eat all of the ingredients. I have had to make a deal with the kids that the first taco MUST HAVE MEAT.  They could care less if it was a vegetarian meal, it's really all about the salsa and cheese.

So instead of regular tacos, I made the taco beef, grated cheese and cut up a tomato.  I layered these in a pie plate and baked it a few minutes to melt the cheese.  It wasn't taco pie (the kids didn't want taco pie) so we called it taco DIP and they ate it with tortilla chips.  They ate a TON without me having to fight about it!

I also had a strange craving for refried beans.  Which is NOT a normal ingredient for anything in my house.  Usually only something found in my dinner if I order a 7 layer burrito at Taco Bell.  I don't even know if they make that one anymore.  So, I googled refried beans and found that it is often made with pinto beans but can be made with kidney beans.  I have an incredible collection of cans of kidney beans. It's a make or break ingredient for my chili.  I don't think chili is quite right with out them, but can't get the kids to eat any of it if they see the kidney bean in there.

So, I drained and mashed the kidney beans, spiced them up and fried them up.

I actually learned yesterday that refried beans does not mean beans that have been refried, but actually that the 're' prefix is often used in Mexico in place of 'well'.  So refried beans are actually 'well fried'.
I was incredibly impressed!  That was super easy to make and absolutely delicious.  Only one of the three kids would eat it, but it was all used.  Of course when you mash them up and fry them until almost all of the moisture is gone, there really isn't a lot of bean left....

Some days I wonder where these ideas come from.  I don't know what drives me to figure out how to make things that no one but me even likes.

After all of that, I found that giving things the right name will make kids eat anything. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

How To Make Your Kids Eat Dinner

Tonight, I had this massive craving for pasta.  The trucker was working later, still home in the evening but not home for dinner, so this worked perfectly.  He's not a noodle guy.
I decided on Chicken and Mushrooms with Penne and Pesto sauce, which I loved and the little princess inhaled!
My boys don't like mushrooms (when they can see them) and they are not big fans of 'fake chicken' (the kind with skin and bones removed).  They believe that all pasta should be like KD.  Super cheesy and only in that shape!

I had store bought pesto that had just a hint of lemon in it.  My boys LOVE lemons, they often ask for them and will almost always eat them like oranges.  So for tonight's dinner, I sliced up a fresh lemon and lined the pieces up on the edge of the plates. The meal looked gourmet!!

A little sprinkle of lemon over the pasta, then they ate what was left of the fresh lemon... and then cleaned their plates!  They ate a meal full of things they don't like, simply because of a few slices of lemon.

Don't I wish I had thought of this earlier!

Oh, and before I forget... for those who are curious... 
Yes, the potato salad was great as was the pork, the company and the entire evening with friends and family!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons

Most people will say "make lemonade"  though I have heard a thousand variations of this saying.

If you are more like me, you will probably find that when life gives you lemons, you forget about them down in the bottom drawer of the fridge for a few weeks.

If you make lemonade when life gives you lemons, what do you make when life gives you rotten moldy lemons in the bottom of your fridge?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Potato Salad - Part Deux

Brave Enough To Try Again?
Same Guests as last time I screwed up the potato salad... Think I can get it right this time?

Honestly, I was a bit surprised when the trucker asked if I was making my salad.  He doesn't even eat it!  I guess they really missed it when I messed it up last time.
I will try again today, even though I don't have as wide a variety of veggies to throw in.  Really, it only 'needs' eggs and potatoes, right?

I'm making a bbq pulled pork for dinner. Last night I said "remind me to take the roast out of the freezer when we get downstairs"  about a million times.  After a brief argument this morning, I think the trucker and I agree that I should know better than to ask him to remember something for ME, and he will work on NOT answering me if he didn't hear what I asked!

Remember my meal planning story?  Yeah, I've known for a week that I was making this today.  I completely forgot to take it out of the freezer last night so it was frozen solid this morning.
First Mistake.
Not having it out of the freezer means I definitely need to get it in the slow cooker early in the morning in order to be cooked well enough to pull apart easily.
Second Mistake.
Darling Trucker calls me at 10:30 and says "Have you got the roast cooking?"
"What?  Oh, Yes, Of COURSE I do!"
Haul out the slow cooker, get the roast from the stinkin freezer... it DOESN'T FIT in my crockpot!!  It's frozen solid so I can't manipulate it, I know it will shrink as it cooks and fit fine!  Can I put, like, tin foil over the top of the crockpot since I can't use the lid?  No, really, I don't know!  I decided today was probably not the day to test it out, since I've ripped off these friends before with dinner.... I think they actually want to eat what I said I was making!!
Grabbed the roaster and turned on the oven, deciding that I would just get it started in there (or maybe finish it that way too). After it thaws out a bit and starts to cook, it will be easier and I can fit it in the slow cooker.
I had lunch with my son, dropped him off at school and started to think about where I'd like to go for the afternoon.... "NO!!!"  I did realize before I got too far that I had a freakin' roast in the oven at home... close call, could have been yet another mistake!

Now the toddler is napping, I've got things in order again (finally) and the roast is in the crock as it should have been a while ago...
OH.... no, I am NOT in order... I was heading out to pick up the buns, wasn't I?  I was going to get buns after I dropped off the boy. But thinking I'd forget the meat, I turned around and came home...oh, man!

Now, having such a bad experience with my potato salad before, and such a rough morning with the roast.... I'm afraid to even start it!!  Hahaaaaa......ugh...

I'm sure it will be fine....right?  I'll send out an update once it's eaten (providing it all turns out edible!).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meal Planning 101

Step One...
Sucker someone else into doing it!

If that doesn't work, you're on your own.  AAAAaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

Seriously, though...I do believe there is money and stress to be saved just by making a meal plan.  I know people who have a three month list of meals and can just mix and match and lay out dinner ideas for the whole month in a matter of minutes.  I also know a lot of people who will pick up something fresh on the way home from work every day instead of doing a big shopping trip. 

Now, in my situation, Mom is the shopper.  I am the cook (at least most of the time).  She knows what I can and can't make, she knows her schedule and what or when she can cook also.  There are certain 'staples' that we always have and other things that we buy when they are on sale.  In the end, our freezer is almost always full, along with the pantry.  We are pretty good at noting things we are running low on so we don't run out.
My meal planning is half done, right?  I have a selection of meats, veggies, etc. stocked and waiting.  I just have to put them together!  

I've tried. I did notice that when I wrote a basic plan on the fridge, everyone noticed.
Everyone also LOUDLY voiced their opinions of my selections.   
Think weekdays only, so 
5 meals 
1 hubby to dislike Thursdays meal. 
2 kids who can read - one doesn't want Tuesday's meal and the other hates Wednesday's choice.  
Who's invited us out Friday? 
Oh.... okay... well, at least I have today planned!  

I've tried making a list with the family.  Started by each type of meat and asked what types of meals they like with that meat.  It helped a bit, but unless I'm willing to live on Beef and chicken (and only in the form of nuggets, of course) this method didn't get us far.  

I tried to accommodate ONE person's favorite per day... but that meant at least 2 complainers EVERY day. ugghh..

This weekend I got a bit smarter.  I made a list of what meat was in the freezer right now.  Sat down while the family was eating our Sunday dinner and stated "This is what we have, what do you want this week?"  The kids invariably added 'takeout' and mac & cheese to the list and when I clarified that I was making something from this list only.... they did offer a few ideas.  In a couple minutes we had a basic outline for the week. I so far only plan week days, as our weekends breeze by and are often filled with leftovers and snacks.  But at least having a plan for the busy days takes some stress away from my evenings. It's much easier to get the kids to bed on time when supper happens at a decent time.

After this week, I will write down the list the family gave me.  I will try to follow the same plan next week for planning meals, and the week after and so on.  And I will add anything to this first list that wasn't there before.  Eventually I should have my very own stockpile of dinner ideas, so that I too can have a rotating menu plan. I may not have the variety I crave so much, but at least everyone will eat what I make.

I can always make the things I really like for my lunch...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I've Missed The Boat - The Gravy Boat

With the weather turning cold and snowy, it's time for more slow cooker meals.  Great dinners that warm up the house and leave such a delicious smell in the air when you first walk in the door.  This is a great time of year.

Except for the ice... 

                            and shoveling.... 

well, the food is good anyway.

We had roast beef and all the fixin's the other day.  I had a lunch appointment and my thoughtful mother had started a roast for me so I wouldn't have to stress after I got home.  It was very sweet, and much appreciated!

What I don't understand, is why her gravy is so much better than mine.  
I use exactly the same ingredients when I make a roast, all the same spices.  And quite often when we have a roast, she is the one who gets it ready.  If she is out at dinner time, all I have to do is thicken the gravy and mash the potatoes.
(Really, yes, I am that spoiled sometimes... she even peels and cuts up veggies for me. They are left soaking in water so I only have to turn things on.  Wonder if my family begs her for this when I'm not around??)
Her gravy is to die for.  It's rich and full of flavor.  If she is in the kitchen and I thicken it up for her, it still tastes okay.  But if she is not here... it just doesn't turn out quite the same.

I have no idea how this happens.

I'm not saying my gravy is bad.  It's still good, just not as good as hers.... even when it starts out as 'hers'.
I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner... and we ravenously ate up the leftovers in hot beef sandwiches with home-made fries the next day.  It was fantastic!
Thanks Mom!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Trick or Treat? Sure Fooled Me!

Halloween has come and gone.  I love this spooky holiday!  A time to dress up crazy and just let loose.  Even better when you have kids, they give you an excuse to be extra silly.
Halloween of course, would not be the same with out the family jack-o-lanterns.  Sure, there are store bought ones, fake plastic ones, and even painted pumpkins these days.  But NOTHING beats the look on a little boys face while he's squishing out the 'guts' and getting messy.  

My little artists spent about 2 weeks with washable markers working on the final masterpeices.  They'd draw and wash and draw and wash... leaving the cutting job to mom and dad just before halloween.
Why do I wait so long to cut them?  The answer is simple.  
WE LIKE PIE!  (I think I've said this before...haha)

Every Halloween, we delay carving our pumpkins until the last day or two before halloween.  We all look forward to the pie and also to roasting our own seeds. 
MMmmm.... Pumpkin Seeds....
How do I accomplish this feat?  Me, of all people who can't cook?
It's the perfect dish for someone as forgetful as me...  I can let them roast slowly in the oven for a long time. And by time I can smell them through the house, they're usually pretty close to done!  
It's really not hard.

Unless, of course, you notoriously forget things... In which case you run out the door to do one little errand, which leads to another, which reminds me I have to drop something off at the school, which makes me think about my oldest son, he happens to need socks... so I stop by the mall on my way to the school. I can't just look at socks and leave.....

....finally I make it back to the school around the dismissal bell.  Walk in the front door at home and think "Yumm... Someone has started dinner for me!"  Hello!!! Wendy!!! You in there?  NO ONE IS HOME!

So, what do I smell?  My very WELL roasted pumpkin seeds. Thank goodness for low temperatures, nothing burnt this time.

And now I'm sure you are asking how I can possibly manage a pumpkin pie from scratch if I can't even roast the seeds right?
Easy... I keep my pumpkins as fresh as possible, deliver them to a family friend who makes tons of pies at halloween every year....
She kindly delivers us a fresh baked pie in a day or two....

And it's always delicious!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Early Days Of My Kitchen Disasters

This morning, I was thinking about how to teach my oldest child some cooking skills. He's getting old enough to be able to make quite a few things without my help.
This led to a long stretch of looking back at my early days of bad cooking. Here are some of my top picks for teenage 'learning' moments:

1.  Once when I was babysitting, I was making zoodles for the kids as an after school snack.  The can opener left two points attached, on opposite sides of the can.  Of course, I was not paying attention (never has been a strong skill for me) and when I went to dip the lid in so I could pull it off, it snapped hard.
Oodles of Zoodles ALL over the kitchen! And it wasn't even my house!!

2. Mom made a roast one weekend that was horribly tough. We had a lot of leftovers and she decided to try a stew, perhaps after a long slow soak in the roaster it would soften up?  Left me in charge while she went out.  Simple instructions to make sure the meat didn't boil over or boil dry.
Did you know that it smells worse when you boil it dry than it does if you just burn it??? And I think it creates more smoke!

3.How about the layer cake that has an extra pocket of pudding in the middle because you forgot to grease the pan and ripped a big chunk of it out trying to get it out of the pan??  At least now I am smart enough to now how to piece it together if it sticks.
WAITI mean, now I'm smart enough to grease the pans!!!

4.  Turns out the hubby likes to have ground beef just scramble fried with a bit of BBQ sauce and spices.  Can you guess how I figured that out?  Did I think I was making eggs instead of burgers?  Not sure... but at least he liked it! ;)

5.  Did you know that if you don't measure any of your ingredients when baking cookies, they can actually end up tasting strangely like fish?  I have NO idea how that works, but they certainly were not edible!  I may not always follow a recipe perfectly, and I may often measure a bit loosely... but I DID learn to MEASURE!!

6. Sometimes it's not my cooking, but bad eating skills.  I caught my knife on the bone of a pork chop and shot that sucker clear across the kitchen!  During one of my first visits to the inlaws...

7. There is also the time I realized that pork and chicken shake and bake really don't taste any different.  Yep, coated the chicken with the pork seasoning.  Noticed only when I was cleaning up after we all ate it.

Random Thoughts To Ponder
(maybe I shouldn't post this, I'll stop having company come over for dinner!)

Do you want to know how many pots I've thrown out because I burnt something to the bottom and can not get it off?  Actually, I can't answer that...I've lost count.

Who doesn't love a family game of  
Wonder which piece was the one on the floor?

Who invented flat bread?  Someone who forgot the yeast?  Wonder if I'm related?

I know I didn't invent the '5 second rule' or 3 or 10, whatever YOU use.... but I am most certainly grateful for it!
I have already laughed at my cooking enough that none of you can compete....

I have said it before and I'll say it again.  There ARE some things I CAN cook WELL.

Can you guess what things they are?????

Come on over!  ANYTIME!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Did That Label Say??

Around here, we are trying to eat better.  Which is often hard to do because my hubby is rarely home early enough to actually cook himself and I am struggling to learn how to cook more than ground beef.
His opinion, ground beef or beef of any form is perfect.  Beef and potatoes. Who really needs anything else?

I do!

Back to my story... I'm trying to learn to cook a bigger variety here and slowly finding new favorite dishes. Some, also, that are just not good. BUT, I'm making a point of keeping track of these things. My cookbook collection is actually starting to look used. Food splatters and notes on pages.  Occasionally, though, we do have rushed dinners, even now. I'm not that good at planning a menu for 1 day, how could I possibly plan for 3 or a week or a month! (amazing moms out there do it!! I'm not one of them)  There are often days that I have forgotten to take something out of the freezer or just simply didn't feel like whatever it was I had planned. Whole family home for dinner and no one knows what to eat.
So we whip together ground beef, mushroom soup and rice. Not much to it, but if you spice it right, it does taste okay. At least, it will do in a pinch...
Last time I decided that I was going to work super hard on a project for my job, I realized again - MUCH too late - that I had nothing out for dinner.
I ran down to the freezer to grab the ground beef. I checked the cases of soup in the pantry and grabbed the mushroom soup. Quick defrost in the microwave to at least start the ground beef and then into the frying pan.  Back and forth, between kids, work and dinner, until the meat was browned. I got my rice ready and everything seemed to be going well. Drain the meat, open the soup and almost lost my lunch!  Why on earth does mushroom soup, in a can, turn yellow when it goes bad?  I don't think I've ever had bad mushroom soup! Though there were a few cans that we forgot in the camper over the winter last year.... I marked them all when I brought them in the house this fall. Just in case. Guess this was a bad one.
Ran back down to grab another can and realize that this couldn't be from the camper. I took it from the new case! It's new!?!? Why is it this awful color? Sure doesn't smell like mushrooms either.  Opened this up and it was normal. PHEW!!! Dinner saved!
Mixed all my ingredients, left them to simmer while I tidied up the rest of the kitchen. I'm a recycler, so I figured I best dump the bad soup and wash out the can for the recycle bag.
Then.... and only then.... did I look at the can....
My mushroom soup is fine. My eyes are not. I had carefully checked the cases and grabbed a can from the chicken noodle case....
Sometimes, dinner does turn out the way I want it to. But the road to the table is bumpy at best.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Can't Please Everyone All The Time

There are some things I can cook well.  I'm not completely hopeless.  My biggest problem is that I, yep just me, am tired of eating the same things over and over and over. Sometimes I try something new and no one likes it, but most of the time there are at least two of us that do.
Sunday was a day for burgers and fries.  I have gotten most of my family hooked on my home-made fries.  They really do taste better when they come from fresh potatoes.
This simple meal is a classic example of how the food plan in my house works most often.  My oldest son asks "What's for dinner?"  So I tell him "burgers and home made fries"
"Oh." says he.
Middle child waits about 10 minutes,
I think he does this just so I can't say "Didn't you hear me?  I just said ...."
"Mom, what's for supper?"  I tell him "burgers and home made fries"
"Oh." says he.

Now really, I don't honestly expect excitement over burgers and fries.  I am aware that it is not a fantastic, gourmet menu choice....even if I made home made buns (which I can, I just don't often).  
Burgers are not exciting to anyone, except my husband.  I've nailed the two important food groups for him with this meal.  Beef and potato.
But just a tiny bit of pleasure in knowing what's for dinner would be nice, wouldn't it?  Wishful thinking on my part.  I know.
After I have the fries in the oven and the burgers about half done frying, my darling oldest child comes in the kitchen and says "Is there anything else? I don't really like burgers."  I give the standard mom speech "We can't all have our favorite things all the time.  I know it's not the greatest meal in your opinion, but ....blah blah blah mom speak..... Okay?" I don't even get an "ok" back, just a shrug as he walks back to the living room.
Poor second child of mine....really needs to start paying attention to what the oldest says to me.  He often gets the brunt of my frustration, just by asking a question he didn't hear answered.
"Um, mom?  Is there anything else with supper?  I don't really like your homemade fries."

Yes, poor kids.... now I'm just about to lose it because I, myself, am not a big fan of this meal. I'm just not a burger girl. Once or twice in the summer, cooked by the hubby on the bbq, is great. Much more than that is too much for me. But I need to eat too, so I eat what the general 'population' eats.  Any question from my trucker about spices or even how much longer and I can promise my head would have exploded!
So, instead of the calm motherly speech for the second of these two kids, I let out a really big
"WHATEVER!" (yes, I know I am VERY mature!)
Followed quickly by "I'm just gonna serve you two ONE plate. You can pick off it what you like.  Why waste dishes?  You like the burger, he likes the fries, sounds good to me!"

Needless to say, I had no further company in the kitchen while I was cooking.

On the plus side, this family of mine has had the 'motherly speech' often enough that the kids do eat what I give them, sometimes not much, but they do try some of everything.  We sat down to dinner and chatted about the day and before I knew it, both kids had eaten everything on their plates and both kids were picking at the remaining fries on the serving dish.

Sometimes, a Mother does know best... just that none of us know it at the time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Recipe Books Do Not Instantly Make Good Cooks

If you look in my collection of cookbooks, which I share with my mother, you will find stains and splashes on all the good recipes. Those are the pages that have been used so many hundreds of times that we don't even need to look at them anymore, unless we need to double check an ingredient or cooking time.  
In addition to the smears of love, you will find our family secrets. No single recipe ever gets made exactly as it is written. We have additions or omissions. We have notes about who liked or hated each dish.

Each time we try something new or a new variation, it gets written down and dated.  

I absolutely love this!

My darling mother has provided me with an excuse to NOT make the same mistakes she has.  The foresight to NOT make a recipe that was a real dud and the secrets to improving a meal that was 'almost' good.  I know she is a great cook, but now I also know that she went through the same processes that I am going through now. 
Trial and error, over and over.  
This wonderful gift of information that we share should be my saving grace, it should give me a head start on this learning curve. But it doesn't always work this way.

One favorite meal, a super easy casserole dish, exists in several of our Company's Coming cookbooks.  It's Shipwreck.  Simple ingredients, easy prep, delicious dinner.  Mom has made this many times, I have made it many times.
(of course with me there is always a "BUT")
I can't raise this ship to save my life.  It always tastes good, the flavour is right.  BUT every single time I make it, I forget one ingredient.  
Not even the same ingredient!  
Each time I make it, I take everything out of the fridge or pantry first.  I spread out everything I need and double check the list to be sure I have it all.  And still, somehow, I miss something.  It's a layered dish, potatoes, onions, meat, celery, rice, etc...  I miss a layer every time.  Whether the rice or a veggie, something is always missing.  
This shipwreck, for me, is eternally beyond salvageable.

The only positive experience I can draw from continually making this meal is that I never forget the meat (beef) and the potatoes.  

I guess that's why my trucker likes it. That's the only part he cares about anyway.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm Thankful For Pumpkin Pie...

Who doesn't love Thanksgiving Dinner?  A time to be with family, enjoy a great meal....
Yes, my family is thankful for thanksgiving.  

It was a fantastic day, really.  The cooking all ran smoothly. The house was tidied. My dear hubby was finishing up some end of season tasks in the yard.  Getting ready for winter. The snow will come soon around here so he wanted to get as much done as possible.  My mom and I played with the kids and we were discussing how we came to decide which dishes we serve at each holiday. Strange how traditions can start and you don't even know why. You just one day realize that you missed something this time, and then try to figure out how many years you have been doing it.
Kind of like our christmas baking, some of our treats don't even get eaten really. They stay frozen for months, but we still make the same things each year. It's just not the same without it?
Later in the afternoon, we greeted my sister in law and her husband in the early afternoon. He stayed and helped my hubby in the yard, while I enjoyed a relaxing visit with my sister. 
The kids kept us laughing most of the day. They were so excited to be having pie. No, really, I know. I was asked about 5000 times through the day
when's pie? when's pie? when's pie????
 "When's Pie?"

Finally time to eat, we set the dining room table for everyone and it was nice to share our space with family.  We thoroughly enjoyed our turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, brussel sprouts, carrots, fresh buns, the works! And the best part (when's pie???) was the Homemade Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream.
An absolute feast... as usual.  Stuffed and tired, we cleaned up and settled in for the evening. Our company went home and we played the Wii with the kids before they went to bed.  It was a fantastic day.

Yes, my family IS thankful for Thanksgiving.  And they are Thankful that my MOM does all of the cooking!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Maybe Grandpa Might Like This Potato Salad??

Okay.  I AM a sucker for punishment.   I don't enjoy learning things the hard way, but I seem to do it a lot.  I like potato salad. I don't know why mine is 'special' but many people have raved about it.

 Until the other day, at least.

I had everything set, plans well laid out.  Hubby was going to grill us some burgers and I was making potato salad for our friends who were joining us for dinner. The potato salad was part bribe in this case as we needed some help with a project in the house.  I was cooking away getting things ready, and got a phone call... that led to checking something on the computer... which led to checking my email, then work email, then working.....

OH NO!!!
Potato soup, anyone?

I boiled those potatoes until they mashed themselves!! Beyond salvageable.  You know how the water gets really starchy if you boil them too long?  Well this was a BIG pot of starchy mush. Perhaps if good old grand dad took out his teeth? No, I think he had better taste too...
Just bad.

Lesson learned.... Wendy Can't Cook and work at the same time!

Thankfully, our friends still stayed to help us. I gave up for the day and we just settled on burgers. No sides.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

That Burning Smell Is Not The Ribs!

I can not believe that those words actually came out of my mouth.  Such a proud moment in my motherhood.  And possibly worse yet was the reaction of my husband... "I guess we're just so used to your cooking, I hadn't smelled anything burning anyway."

Now, I must admit that I am not the worlds greatest cook.  In my defense, I also cook for a very picky family of 5.  Hmmmm... Maybe, just maybe, they are not picky, but wise to the fact that I am not the worlds greatest cook.

That can't be it!!

More to the point of my story, I made my cheater scalloped potato recipe a few days ago.  Using a can of mushroom soup, my fave spices and ... you guessed it.... potatoes.  I shoved it in the oven and cooked them  until they were done(which is pretty much whenever I can stick the fork in and they are soft).
The potatoes were a hit as always.  (I can cook a few things...)  But they of course boiled over in the oven.
And I, of course, forgot.....

.....until the smoke was rising from the oven while preheating for my famous ribs.  In my absolute brilliance, I actually DID call out "that burning smell is not the ribs."
Thankfully the ribs did turn out just right, like usual.  We sat down to a good family meal.  (Well, ribs, package potatoes and boiled carrots. If that counts for a good meal.)  Everyone ate, everyone got full.  And there was no overpowering flavor of burnt scalloped potatoes in the meat.
I think.

But, then again, I did seem to have more leftovers than usual this time......