Saturday, November 08, 2008


I am thankful for a husband who does most of the cooking as I loathe having to make dinner. Besides, Joel is an excellent chef and he enjoys doing it, so why should I bother?

However, recent and upcoming events, which I'll share later, are going to necessitate my being in the kitchen at supper time a lot more often.


So, I was hoping you all could help me. The last time I posted about my cooking deficiencies, many of you left me some easy recipes in the comments, and I didn't even ask! This time I'm asking. I'm going to have occasion now to use these in a big way, and I'm hoping you all can come through with a few more.

Also, I would love to know how you even do it? Prepare dinner amongst screaming kids who are trying to finish up their homework, begging to watch TV, complaining about violin practice and screaming, that is. I need tips. Normally, Joel is in the kitchen happily preparing our evening meal while I am kid-wrangling. This works for us. During the times when Joel isn't home and I have to do it, I generally turn into a crazy woman who wants to rip her hair out. It could be that this is the real reason I don't enjoy making dinner, who knows?

Just in case you didn't understand, here's what I am begging for:

1. Easy recipes and dinner ideas


2. Tips to make dinner preparation easier and without resulting in injured children or mothers being committed to the insane asylum.

I thank you.


Don't forget to enter the hat giveaway!
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. I have something to answer both of your questions. Crock pot. This way, you throw a few things in the crockpot in the morning, and only have to do a few extras in the end. I have a couple of recipes that my family enjoys from the crockpot.

    Chicken enchilada soup
    2 large chicken breasts (they can even go in frozen)
    2 cans black beans
    1 can rotel (or WF mexican chopped tomatoes)
    1 C. salsa
    1 8oz can tomato sauce
    Cook in crockpot all day, then shred chicken before you are ready to eat. Top with chips, sour cream and cheese.

    Fetuccine in crock pot
    2 chicken breasts (frozen or not)
    1/4 C butter or margarine
    1 pkt. italian dressing mix
    Cook for 4-6 hrs in crockpot, cut up chicken, then add
    1 8oz cream cheese
    1 can cream of chicken
    1/2 can water
    cook for another half hour. while this is cooking, boil fetuccine noodles. Mix together with chicken/cream cheese mix. I always serve this with french bread.
    I have a few more, I'll come back later.

  2. I hate cooking dinner amongst screaming kids, too. Laci used to literally cling to my legs as I made EVERY meal! Now that she's big enough to understand it's coming, Jacob is doing it...drives me crazy!!

    One thing that I've started doing is the prep work early in the day when I have a second and the kids are busy playing. Then it's easy to throw together at the last's also helped avoid screaming kids at my legs!

    I love the crockpot and use it a lot! Stick some chicken breasts with Italian dressing in a crockpot; cook up some rice 30 minutes before dinner. Fast, easy, and very little work involved.

    Beans (any) are REALLY easy; I just stick them in a pot to simmer all day, and they're really versatile. (Don't forget to soak them the night before!) Stick cooked pinto beans in a blender to puree and you have refried beans - without all the oil - for bean burritos, which take seconds to put together.

    Add black beans and rice to salad greens; add salsa, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, avocados - and you have taco salad. If you're feeling ambitious, you can buy the taco seasoning packets; mix with ground beef/turkey, and add that to the salad as well.

    Soups are really great, too, because you can leave them simmering all day; and it's instantly ready to serve at meal time. (Just look for recipes that use mostly canned stuff to avoid a lot of chopping.) Buy some rolls for a side.

    Quesadillas are quick and easy; you can buy cheese preshredded to cut down on time in the kitchen. You can add precooked meat to make it more filling.

    Hope these help!

  3. this is what worked for your old' ma! Preparing in the morning when nobody was around or just one was. Do the crockpot thing, it is simply amazing. You can make anything in it, chili, chicken etc etc. Love you. Your life is normal, not to worry!

  4. Ugh, I second your emotion.

    So I do a lot of quick and easy spaghetti type things.

    And chili is super easy if you dump stuff from cans (diced tomatoes, beans) (I make it a little healthy with chopped peppers and turkey rather than beef).

    Sometimes, for the kids, I just throw some cheese and ground turkey between two tortillas and call it a quesidilla.

    I know, I'm boring.

  5. As your Mom said, your life is normal. This post is so exactly me, it's like you're looking inside my brain. I, too, loathe cooking and my husband is a way better cook than me. But he's not home in time to make dinner very much anymore. So, I've had to get used to doing it but I still hate it.

    As far as the screaming kids goes, I usually cave and let them watch TV for however long it takes me to make dinner. In addition, I turn on music in the kitchen- that way if they do come in and bug me, I can't hear them! :)

    As far as recipes go, I'm going to be swiping the ones that people leave here in your comments! I do have one new one that I got off of Heather N's blog a few weeks ago. I have made it every week since- it's really good and easy.

    Honey Mustard Chicken (from Rachael Ray)

    3 TBSP honey
    2 TBSP spicy brown mustard
    2 TBSP vegetable oil
    2 limes, 1 juiced & 1 cut into 8 wedges
    8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (I actually used about 10-12 chicken tenderloins and it worked fine)

    In a resealable plastic bag, combine the honey, mustard, oil and lime juice. Add the chicken and let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes (I thawed my chicken in the microwave first.)

    Grill chicken for 10 minutes on each side, or if you are grill-less like me, pan fry it!. Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

    Good luck Lara! Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever enjoy you wonder that too? :)

  6. #1. Call Erin and let's do The Pastry Pub for dinner :)

    #2. We do this when I just can't think of anything else: heat up a can of chili con carne (I prefer Nalley), put over rice, sprinkle with grated cheese. The kids eat it every time!

    #3. Let's get together and exchange easy recipes. I have quite a few!

  7. One way that really helped at our house is having each of the kids pick one night that they choose what is for dinner and then they get to help make dinner. The other child(ren) help by setting the table, etc. while dinner is being prepared. Bria and Chloe are both big enough to help, and Sophie could have a bowl and a spoon to "mix" things in. I think it would work. Getting everyone involved takes a lot longer, but it's such a great experience for them.

    That being said, there are days that having one more set of hands in the kitchen just IS NOT going to work (mostly based on how grumpy I'm feeling any given day). On those days I put K in charge of M and give them a list of things that need to be done before they can eat. Sometimes we set the timer and they race the timer. Simple things like setting the table, taking out the garbages and putting new liners in, reading a story together, making placemats for the table with markers and paper, putting their clean clothes away, getting pjs ready for after baths, picking bedtime stories, laying out tomorrow's clothes, etc.

    A family favorite at our house is creamy chicken noodle soup which is sooo easy. It's a meal I can throw together even after a full day of teaching and 3 or 4 piano lessons, and it's ready in 45 minutes at the longest. Not all of that time requires me to be in the kitchen either, so I can be helping the kids with piano, homework, chores, etc.

    Dump 3 cans of chicken broth in a large pot, throw in 3 stalks of celery sliced, 3-4 big carrots that have been peeled and sliced, 1/2 of a small onion chopped (or 1 TBSP dried onion) and a chicken breast that has been cut into bite size chunks. Set that to boil for about 20 minutes till the chicken is done and the veggies are as tender as you'd like.

    Dump in about 16 oz. of dry noodles (penne holds up the best for this soup). Add more water if you need to - you don't want a whole lot of liquid, just a couple of inches over the top of the noodles and stuff. Boil (stir often) till the noodles are done. Stir in 2 cans cream of chicken soup and serve.

    We eat this about once a week in the fall/winter. I always mix up a batch of breadsticks to go with it.

    Those are easy too - after you get the veggies and chicken boiling, put 1 1/3 cups really warm water in your mixer bowl. Add 1 TBSP yeast, 1 TBSP sugar, 1 tsp salt, and mix. Let this sit for just about a minute to get started. Then add in 3 1/4 cups flour (sometiems a bit more or less depending on the humidity - you want a soft dough that is not sticky). Mix for 10 minutes by hand or machine. (You can do this in a bosch, kitchenaide, or bread machine). Melt 1/4 cup butter and pour it onto a large jellyroll pan. Spread the dough onto the pan. You'll have to stretch and press the dough to get it as close to the edges as you can. Cut the dough into breadsticks - we do one cut across the middle and then about 7 the long way, but you can cut them however big or small you'd like. Let rise until puffy (sometimes I put them in the oven and then turn it on to pre-heat if I'm in a hurry). Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes. Brush with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt. Really good!

    If you want sweet breadsticks for a treat, at the end instead of using garlic salt, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar.

    Hope these help. Good luck. You can do it!

  8. I love the crockpot and there are lots of recipes you can make after Chloe goes to school that would be ready by dinner. Also you should check out LOVE this site. She has a bunch of free menus on there for different kinds of meals (i.e. all crockpot. low fat, cheap, etc). Anyway, I'll try to get together some recipes for you and bring them over...

  9. I can tell you this, if you have the kids alone you may want to try switching the schedule. Have them help you in the kitchen to avoid having to juggle a seperate activity like homeworke or something. Do an early dinner and give each child a job. Even afterwards have them help clean the kitchen. Since the dinner would be complete early you will then have time to sit and help with homework. Hope this is even a little helpful.

  10. First of all good luck. It is hard to make dinner with screaming children.

    One idea is
    homemade sloppy joes

    1 or 2 cans of chicken gumbo soup
    1 lb of hamburger cooked
    add 2 or 3 TBSP of Catsup and Mustard and mix up and serve on hamburger buns.

    Recipe I just tried that my family loves.

    Creamy porkchops
    2 can cream of mushroom soup
    any other seasonings that you choose
    Put porkchops, cream of mushroom soup and cut up potatoes in a crock pot after mixing them up and leave for about 2 to 3 hrs. It is fabulous.

    Hang in there.

  11. Wow, great idea's. I am horrible in the kitchen. I cook just like heather of the eo. But I have kids that are extremely picky. Nothing to hot (spicy), no beans! And something new... whoa! Then my husband, he would prefer us not to eat too much meat. It seams that meat meals are the easy ones. So, when dinner time comes I just want to cry. I am getting all teary eyed just thinking about dinner...

    I love reading all of the ideas, Deb's is great sounds so yummy and she makes it seem so easy.

    Good luck to you Lara, and thanks to everyone else who posted all of these great ideas. Sorry, the only idea for ya would be,

    Pasta with Alfredo sauce. Tuna sandwiches and a can of green beans.

  12. Lara, I have several blogs on my Reader that are recipe blogs with super easy recipes. I will try to get a list together for you.

  13. I'm totally stealing some of these recipes. I hate cooking and I'm no good at it, but it's my job. My husband's a great chef, but rarely cooks. But he's got bionic tastebuds, so my poor cooking is rather sad for him.

    I've got a few recipes I might throw up here later. :)

  14. Lara
    I feel your pain. What I really hate doing is the dishes and cleaning up. Have you checked out FlyLady? She has some great recipe links there- some cookbook I use to have. I just made up 7 or 8 weeks of meals that we eat all the time.When I am at a loss for what to eat I pull out this list and prepare meals from it. I like to mix easy dinners w/ more elaborate that I am not slaving away in the kitchen every night. Looks like you have lots of good ideas here already! I may have to use some of them!

  15. Please do a blog post summarizing what was said here. :)
    Also, we have a child in charge of helping make/set the table and anotehr one in charge of clean-up. I'm not gonna say that they're that much help -- but at least they're taking responsibility for something.
    2 words for you.
    Desperation dinners.
    Go read it.

  16. Agree on the crockpot should check out a Year of CrockPotting (

  17. Almost everyone on this list already had my immediate thought: crock pot. JC actually figured out that you can put everything together in the crockpot the night before and then in the morning pop it into the base and let it cook all day.
    Here is just one website that has many crock pot recipes:

    Good luck, my dear!

  18. I forgot to mention that if you do the night before thing you should keep the crock in the fridge until you are ready to start cooking.

  19. I love to cook and have tons of recipes. I am the queen of "semi homemade" taking some things already made and making a little bit from "scratch" and you have a meal. I can put together tons of recipes for you. Let me know.

  20. Wow everyone! I just got back from work and I am so excited about all your help so far! Thank you a million times over.

    I am also glad that I'm not alone in this, and hope that many of you can find good help.

    Isn't the internet grand? :)

  21. hugs to mommas who have to cook. you sound soo much like me! check out my blog after sat night, I have a few pointers for organizing menu planning and stuff. I love the crockpot thing big time!

    I have also turned some of the dinner prep over to the kids.. they complain, then they have room to complain when they are the ones that made it! but I also have kids that are a bit older than yours! good luck!!

  22. This is so funny - I was just telling my husband that I think if I do a bunch of meal preparation on Sundays (I really love to cook, I just never have time), then I'll be able to get some meals made during the week. I figure I can marinate a bunch of chicken and meat and just stick it in the fridge until I'm ready to cook it.

    I've been having a really hard time now that all my kids are in school because the crazy time is between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. when we have homework and everyone is tired from their day. So I'm hoping that if I make some meals ahead of time (like chili or soup - cuz they keep well for a few days and freeze well, too) and then prepare some stuff to be kept in the fridge and cooked later, we might actually have a decent dinner a few times a week.

    This is my goal - I'll report back later to let you know if it works. :)

  23. You should definitely post all the recipes people are commenting on...I want them!

    As for me...dinner in our house is early. Chris is home by 4:30,we eat at 5pm, baths at 5:30pm., and Addysen in bed at 6pm.We run a tight ship. Generally I start prep work while Addysen is taking her afternoon nap (3-4:30) while Elodie has her tv time.

    If I plan what I'm going to make in the morning, my day runs much smoother and everyone is happier- not to mention dinner is on time and so is the rest of our nightly routine.

    As for recipes...go to my blog, click on the side bar recipes and surf away- I don't post a recipe I haven't tried and my family doesn't love. Especially the beefy noodle bowl! Very good and can be substituted with chicken.

    Also, crockpots are heaven sent. I'm ALWAYS in a good mood when dinner is on at 9:30am!

  24. I feel for you, I'm going to copy all these recipes too, if you don't mind.

  25. Don't have time to post a recipe now, but I will!

    As many have said, Crockpot is a girl's best friend. Also, I have really gotten into doing freezer meals, where you spend a whole day cooking, but get a lot of meals (I can usually do 4-6 in a day) in the freezer for those crazy times. An alternative is to make double or triple batches every time you cook (I often do this), and then freeze the two extra meals. Add a veggie, and you have a complete dinner!

  26. I'm thinkin crock pot too! Here's one of my favorites from the Union Square Cookbook...

    Crockpot Chicken
    In a crockpot, throw in:
    1/4 c. butter
    4 frozen chicken breasts
    1/4 c. water
    1 pkg. onion soup mix

    Cook on High for 3-4 hours
    One hour before serving add:
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1/2 pkg. cream cheese
    frozen peas
    Serve over rice or noodles.

    I love this recipe cuz you don't have to "pre-cook" anything! Let me know if you try it...and...if you like it!

  27. I love crock pot meals also, but what I am really into right now is freezer meal cooking. I cooked like crazy for about a week straight in August and I haven't cooked since! My husband is not always home during dinner prep time as well so this comes in really handy for me. So what I do is make all of our favorite meals (the main dish) and cook 4x more than we would eat, then that night we eat that meal for dinner and I divide up the rest into Freezer Gallon Bags and freeze them for later. SUPRISINGLY the food tastes REALLY good once you re-heat it. So now each morning I just go look in my freezer, choose a meal, and put it in the sink. By dinner time it is ready to heat in a skillet on the stove, I throw a few side dishes together, a VOLA dinner is served:)

  28. I'm not great at what you're asking, so I just wanted to read your readers' comments!

    Hey, I hope you'll give us a call this afternoon with the scoop. ;) ;)

  29. I do meat dinners this way: Pick a good size roast, roast for two hours with common spices. Afterwards, let is cool covered for an hour then portion it for a salad, with a pasta dish or sandwich meats, even gourmet tacos or burritos. A 2-lb roast can yield up to six dishes! That's how I survived my hectic Fall and winter last year, not to mention this year.

  30. I've got a lot of these same issues... plus a few. Four fussy girls (age 2 and 3)at the dinner prep hour, a deployed hubbie who is our family's primary chef, and picky eaters all around. I was getting a little bit desperate with our poor eating habits and the dinner rut we were in until I found I have been taking the lists each week and choosing new meals that are easy to prep and trying them out. It is an inexpensive way to boost the dinner meal options. I don't use all the meals in any one week, but it has certianly helped.

    I'm enjoying reading all the comments here and collecting a few more to try as well. Thanks!

  31. I am all about easy, simple recipes that taste good. There are a lot in the books 101 Things To Do With a Casserole (which aren't really casseroles) and 101 Things To Do With a Slow Cooker. Someone gave these to me, but I think you can get them at Deseret Book.

    As for the kid situation, I send mine outside to play almost every time. If they can't go outside because of weather, then that is when they can cash in on their computer or Xbox time. They get 30minutes and that is always long enough.

  32. Crock-Pot Cafe Rio Pork (almost)

    1 pork roast (I use pork shoulder, bone-in or boneless- just pick the bone out when it's done if you use bone-in)
    1 cup salsa
    3/4 cup brown sugar

    Mix salsa and brown sugar. Dump on pork in crock-pot. Cook all day. Shred the meat with 2 forks and mix the juices back in. Enjoy. (Can be used as burrito filling, taco filling, for taco salad, etc.)