The Secret Ingredient

Inspiration for Everyday Cooking

What’s for Dinner?

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I think people assume because I teach and write about cooking, that I’m making some fabulously fancy meal every night of the week.  I’m sorry to report that’s not really the case.  Yes, I do cook.  And yes, I do make things from scratch most nights.  But I’m not making Coq au Vin, and I’m not making Osso Bucco or whole roasted Branzino.  I’m making chicken and biscuits, and chili, and lasagna, and simple stir fries.  Sometimes it’s taco night and sometimes we grill burgers.  And yes, sometimes we order pizza (but sometimes we make it at home too).  I don’t spend in inordinate amount of time cooking dinner.  I opt for straightforward dishes that my family will enjoy.  I do have kids after all, and while I do try to sneak in a few new or unusual recipes, they are often met with mixed reviews from my youngest critics.  But it doesn’t really matter what you cook, what matters is that you’re cooking something. Something that is healthy and nourishing.  Something that gets you all to sit around the table as a family at least a few times a week.  Don’t allow dinnertime to intimidate you.  Sure your kids will remember some of the actual dishes you make, but what they’ll really remember  is the time you spent around the table each night, sharing about your day and catching up on each others’ lives.

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Chicken & Biscuits

The more you cook, the easier it becomes.  Stick to simple recipes that don’t have a million ingredients.  THAT is what is overwhelming and often steers people away from the kitchen and straight to the phone for take-out.  If your family is anything like mine, our evenings are often packed with sports practices and homework and activities, so spending hours in the kitchen isn’t an option even if i did feel like it.  This is one of my favorite super un-fancy, super simple dinners that is also really healthy.  My kids love it, and I hope yours will too!
Lentils and Rice

Serves about 4

3-4 cups cooked brown rice

1-2 cans lentil soup (we like Progresso) OR 2-3 cups plain cooked lentils (available in a can at Whole Foods or in the fridge section at Trader Joe’s)

grated Parmesan cheese

Cook rice according to package directions (for an even quicker meal, I use the Organic Brown Rice in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s).

Heat the lentils in the microwave until hot, and spoon over the cooked rice.  If you are using the lentil soup, use a slotted spoon so most of the liquid stays behind and you’re only putting the beans/veggies over your rice.

Top with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese and serve hot.
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Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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