Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mr. Rock Soup


With Mike's crazy hours last week and this week, the boys and I have been having somewhat interesting meals during the dinner hour. Like breakfast cereal, baked potatoes, beans, and yogurt. Not all mixed together!
I guess things just get a little lax when I don't have to prepare a big meal for the whole family. When Michael is here, we always set the table and eat together as a family. We've done this for as long as Michael and I have been together. About twice a year we'll have a "picnic" dinner, where we order a pizza and sit in the living room and watch a movie while we eat. But that is the very rare, very special, exception to our normal dinner tradition. But when Mike isn't here to help the kids set the table or pour the water and to wash all the dishes (yes, I married Mr. Wonderful), then the experience of dining together is less about the pleasure of each other's company and more about me being bitter about managing the 5 to 7 pm witching hours while making dinner. Something has to give so I can remain somewhat calm and cool throughout the evening. So if Ben wants Shredded Wheat for dinner, who I am to say no?
Things are hard enough when Daddy isn't here, and I like to do something a bit out of the ordinary in his absence so that they aren't really reminded of what they are missing. Also, I just don't have the energy to do everything I normally do plus what he normally does when he's here. Michael normally does the whole bath/story/bedtime routine (sometimes a two hour process depending on how many chapters the boys convince him to read to them), and many times that is the first time I've had to just sit down the entire day. I relish that time. I live for that time. When he's not here, and I'm responsible for getting the boys in bed, I find I have to cut something from the routine or by the time they are finally snoozing and Michael walks through the door I'm pacing and muttering to myself like a crazy woman, pouncing on him the minute he walks in. So in the interest of domestic tranquility, dinner goes low maintenance when Daddy's not around.

Not too long ago, I found a recipe that is as low maintenance as it could be, yet it tastes delicious. Best of all, the kids love it. They love it to the point they sing songs about it. After the first time I made it, I let them name the recipe. They decided to call it Mr. Rock Soup. It isn't soup, but I'd say it's their favorite thing to eat. And my favorite thing to make because it requires the most minimal amount of effort. When Daddy is working long hours, we eat this often. Mainly when I'm sick of everything else we've got in the fridge in the way of leftovers!

I'm happy to share this with you. I tend to buy up ground beef in enormous 10 lb bulk increments and cook it all at once, freezing it in 1lb sections. When you do this, dinner is more than half done when you've got a recipe calling for ground beef! You could also use ground turkey and it tastes just as great.

Mr. Rock Soup
  • 1lb lean ground beef

  • 1 16 oz container of tomato salsa (use the heat level you prefer - we're all fans of spice 'round here)

  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce (I like the kind that is only tomato, no sugar or salt, etc.)

  • 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed, drained

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

  • 2 cups water (fill up your now empty salsa container to get 2 cups & every last drop of salsa!)
Cook meat until no longer pink in large saucepan, drain. Or, if you're smart, take it out of the freezer and toss it in the pan.

Add everything else. Mix it up. Bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If you don't get around to stirring it because, for instance, you had to spend that 15 minutes separating the children who were intent on having a Light Saber duel to the death, it's still going to come out okay).

Serve it up and sit back and enjoy the praises!

1 comment:

Heather said...

I made "Mr. Rock Soup" tonight for dinner. Everyone loved it...well, Camryn said she didn't like it but ate it so it must have been fine ;). Thanks for the dinner idea.