16 March 2012

Buddy, can you spare a.....recipe?

As writers, you know all too well how it is when you're writing right along and then you get that phone call, notice in the mail or have that unexpected event happen. Some are little things, short things, like reminders of a dental appointment or notification for jury duty. And then, some are far more reaching. From other posts and comments made on this site, it appears the last few years have been tough on parents.

The way it's been here, my wife and I have been gone a lot, off and on, since Thanksgiving. Then, right after Christmas, we drove 800 miles one way for another trip, so Kiti could help her 87-year old Mom who started chemo and radiation at the end of December. I drove home alone a few days after New Years. There wasn't a lot I could do there, however back home, we have two young grandsons we do daycare for during the school year, something we've done since they were born. Normally, the boys arrive at our house about 7:30 AM, we feed them breakfast, take them to elementary school, pick them up in the afternoon and deliver them to after school activities.

January and into February had a sudden change in the lineup. Yours truly got drafted as the mess hall cook. Prior to then, most of my culinary displays were confined to the grill in the back yard. So, here's how it went. On Day One of batching it, the boys frankly informed me I didn't know how to make oatmeal. Didn't take me long to call Grandma Kiti and find out her oatmeal secrets. On Day Five, when oatmeal came around on the menu again, the boys gave me a Two Thumbs Up. Whew, I was finally getting the hang of this cooking thing.

Then, one morning I overheard the boys talking about how they liked biscuits and gravy. Hey, I could do that. So, come a Wednesday, I opened the refrigerator, popped a tube of flaky style biscuits, arranged them on an ungreased cookie sheet, stuck them in the oven and hustled to the computer. A quick Google for sausage gravy turned up a simple recipe. Racing back to the kitchen, I slid a skillet onto the stove, got out the sausage and commenced to create gravy. It was only after placing everything on the breakfast island that I learned another lesson about cooking for discriminating young-uns. The boys promptly proceeded to tease their biscuits into four flaky layers. The bottom layer got butter, the second layer got grape jelly, the third layer got ONE SPOONFUL of gravy, the fourth piece went on top of the stack and they ate it like a sandwich. Who knew? I had to eat the rest of the biscuits and sausage gravy by myself. I'm sure it was good for my figure.

In an attempt to vary the morning menu, I've also created Grandpa R.T.'s version of a bacon, egg, cheese and biscuit McMuffin. (NOTE: I put those together myself, so we don't end up with more of them multi-layered sandwiches with purple jelly oozing out the sides. Don't think I'll ever have to worry about McDonald's suing me for infringement on their version.) Gotta love the convenience of those pop tube biscuits though. Of course, the boys being the savvy grocery shoppers they are, recently informed me those biscuits do come in smaller cans, so we wouldn't have so many leftover ones ending up in the bread toaster the next morning. Good thing they know what we're doing here.

On a high note, the boys confided in me that they like my fruit smoothies better than Grandma's, but they don't want to hurt her feelings, so I can't tell her. Naturally, I cheat when I make the smoothies, and throw in some vanilla Blue Bell ice cream to get a richer taste. (Those of you residing in states surrounding Texas know what I mean about Blue Bell.) Seems only right that everybody should have ice cream for breakfast.

Anyway, March is here and Grandma Kiti is 800 miles away again for a few weeks. That elevates me once more to the prestigous position of chief cook and dishwasher. Soooo, do any of you out there have any tasty, but simple recipes for a breakfast meal you'd care to share? This is no time to be shy. Just go ahead and put them in the blog's Comments Section. That way, if anybody reading the column sees a mouth watering recipe, it's right there for the trying.
And, to sweeten the pot, I'll try all the recipes out on the boys. Sorry, judges' decisions are final. The breakfast recipe they like the best gets a free personalized copy of the July/August 2012 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine mailed to them. Hint: It will have the tenth story in my Twin Brothers Bail Bond series and I'll autograph it any way you want. Hurry up now, I've got hungry mouths to feed.


  1. Hey, RT:

    Chief cook & bottle-washer myself. And, my son eats almost nothing, while my daughter is a teenage girl who pecks at her food with the appetite of a field mouse.
    So, here are a few suggestions:

    1. Try an omelet. My son will eat eggs – if they’re stuffed w/ ham & cheese. Occasionally, he’ll even eat vegetables that way. If you need directions for a fast-cooking omelet:
    a. Crack some eggs in a bowl, dump in a little milk, and whisk w/ a fork until foamy.
    b. Immediately dump into a preheated non-stick frying pan on med-hi, and then salt & pepper it.
    c. When the eggs bubble up (sort of like pizza cheese bubbles), use a big spatula to flip them over. While the underside (which used to be the top) cooks, throw cheese and ham pieces on half of it (i.e. if you divide the relatively round cooking eggs w/ a line from the 12 o’clock down to the 6 o’clock position, just toss this stuff on the left side of that imaginary line; leaving the other side blank).
    d. Once the underside seems to be firming up, slip your spatula under the right side, and flip it up and over the left side, sandwiching the ham & cheese between the two sides. Then flip the whole thing over and let it sit just a minute, so the cheese can more-fully melt.

    NOTE: You can buy ham chunks at the store; makes it easy to toss in a handful. Or, you can use sandwich ham, and tear it into small pieces. My kids usually like shredded cheddar cheese the best in an omelet, and that makes it easy too—some days they prefer Kraft American slices. You can also buy pre-sliced mushroom or onions and toss those in, if you think they’ll eat it. If they like Mexican food, try tossing in some Pico de Gallo instead of mushroom & onion.

    Also, if you crumble ground beef into a skillet, then drain and add Taco Bell hot sauce (now sold in stores), you can toss the “taco meat” into the omelet, in place of ham, then toss on a handful of shredded “Mexican Cheese” (I think that’s actually what it calls it on the package I buy), and that will turn your omelet into Juevos Rancheros. Serve w/ a side of sour cream.

    2. For dinner, here’s an easy “Fire & Forget” roast recipe.
    a. Buy a 7-bone or some other cheap (on sale) roast, 1 onion, a bag of potatoes.
    b. Fire up the oven at 375-degrees. Toss roast (if it’s frozen: no problem—just toss it in still frozen) and hacked-up onion into a roasting pan, add a cup of water and put the lid on. (If you can’t find a roasting pan, you can get a cheap one at Walmart for about 12 bucks). Set a timer for one hour, then sit down and start writing.
    c. When timer goes off, open oven & flip meat. If it looks really dry in the roaster, add some more water. Toss it all back in for another hour, and go write.
    d. After an hour, open oven, & flip meat. Then hack up some potatoes, and put them in a zip-lock bag. Pour salt & pepper in bag, and shake it up, then toss in the fridge. Go back to writing.
    e. An hour later, open the oven, and remove roaster lid (set aside temporarily). Flip meat, then open ziplocked potatoes and dump on top of meat & onions. Put the lid back on, and toss it back in for the final hour.
    f. When the timer goes off, turn off the oven, pull it out and serve. Roast will be fork-soft, and the potatoes will be done. If kids are running late, just toss it back in on 175 degrees for up to two more hours — just be sure to add water if it looks dry.

    Note: Thawed roast cooks in 3 hours. Frozen cooks in 4 hours—that’s the only difference. My wife & kids scarf this down!

    3. For a quick breakfast or snack on-the-fly: try bagels & cream cheese — w/ lox if you want.

  2. RT, I don't remember where you reside, so I don't know about the "grits" business. As some of you may know, Leigh down in Florida and John in Mississippi both dislike grits.
    As kids, my sons loved cheese grits. One of them even ate grits biscuits. That was an interesting thing to watch as the cheese grits dripped from the sides of the biscuits.

    IF your grandsons eat grits, one of the favorites with my sons was "Cheeseburger Grits." Simply stir a handful of browned hamburger and grated cheddar cheese into cooked (instant if you prefer) grits. Stir and serve. Very small boys sometimes add a little ketchup to this.

    "Make Your Own" breakfast pizza is another thought. Spread a spoon full of bottled pasta sauce (red like spaghetti or white Alfredo)on pita bread, a wrap, or even French or Italian bread.

    Set out toppings such as cooked sausage, ham, left over chicken nuggets, etc. and veggies they like. Let each child pile on his toppings and add a healthy handful of that good ole grated cheese. Pop under the broiler for a minute. Serve with lots of bragging about how good they look. For even more morning fun, let the boys make Grandpa's pizza!

    Note: "Make Your Own" breakfast pizza is especially good for the morning of or after an Italian dinner. Breakfast pizza at schools is a white sauce with scrambled eggs topped with cheese, but the children I know prefer it without eggs. Another fun adaptation is to challenge them to use the toppings to create faces on the pizza.

    Aren't grandchildren wonderful!!!!

  3. Good luck with the cooking and congratulations on your story

  4. I don't think kids will eat lox. Just as well, since the good stuff costs a fortune. I've gotten good reviews from the grandchildren for spaghetti, both with meatballs (if you don't mind messy, let them help roll the meat into balls) and just heating sauce from the bottle and letting them add that and grated cheese to the pasta. We use what the label calls vodka sauce, because it's pink--the 5-year-old doesn't do red--but you won't have that issue with boys. And I get a lot of mileage out of peeling and sectioning a navel orange for them. We call it a belly button orange. I want everything they do with grandma to be memorable, since I don't get to feed them that often.

  5. Try my recipe for yummy kid friendly pancakes! Cindy
    Cindy's Recipes and Writings
    Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pancakes (makes eight 4-inch pancakes)
    1 1/3 cups flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 cup plus 1/4 cup reserved half and half
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
    1/2 cup chocolate chips optional
    In large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, 1 cup half and half, oil and peanut butter. Thin if necessary by adding half and half one tablespoon at a time from 1/4 cup reserved.
    Bake on lightly greased griddle or fry pan. Sprinkle pancakes with chocolate chips right before flipping.
    Remove and cool on wire rack for five minutes. When cooled, place pancakes on rack or cookie sheet in freezer until thoroughly frozen (about 30 minutes). Layer pancakes in freezer bags. You can put a piece of waxed paper between layers to assure easy separation. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pancakes in a single layer. Bake five minutes, flip and bake another five minutes or until completely heated through. Serve with maple or chocolate syrup.

  6. Thanks to everyone for the breakfast recipes. The judging will start Monday morning when the boys return, but I will check this page up until then for any late entries.
    best ~ R.T.
    Any supper recipes will be for my benefit, especially since I'm tired of chicken pot pies. Fortunately, grilling season has returned.


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