For instance, I don't have time to bake much anymore, but I won't part with my A Piece of Cake cookbook, even though I only use one recipe with any regularity (Anna's Swedish Cake, which is my favorite birthday cake, and even makes a nice cupcake for toddler birthday parties).
I was thinking about this over the weekend, as I wrote up the menu plan for the week. I have a few "go to" cookbooks (including a hefty notebook of recipes clipped from Cooking Light over the years). Most of my "standard" dinners come from one of the following books:
- Cooking Light Superfast Suppers. This has a recipe for tortellini in tomato broth that is just about as easy as boiling water, as well as an excellent recipe for crock pot lasagna. The latter is a weekend only recipe, because it takes 6 hours in the crock pot, and you can't let it go longer or the lasagna noodles will be overdone. I just tried out a recipe for crock pot BBQ pork sandwiches, too, which was really good. Pumpkin won't eat it, but if we limited ourselves to things that she will eat, we'd be eating a lot of chicken nuggets, Annie's peace pasta, and quesadillas.
- Cooking Light Five Star Recipes. This has another favorite tortellini recipe (what can I say, tortellini may be Pumpkin's favorite dinner)- this one a "salad" with cherry tomatoes and corn. It also has a really nice greek pita pizza recipe that was a favorite of ours before we had kids. Maybe I should dust that recipe off, because Pumpkin has shown a fondness for "peanut bread".
- The Minimalist Cooks At Home (I'd get the more comprehensive Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from the New York Times if I were buying a Mark Bittman book, though). This has a good stir fry recipe that I make with cashews. It also has a linguini with zucchini and mint, that is similar to carbonara, believe it or not. Very yummy.
Quesadillas are another favorite meal in combination with smoothies. I'd love to do a smoothie plus dips and bread meal, but we can't get Pumpkin to eat any dip. I'm very jealous of the people who have kids that like hummus.
I have decent recipes for red sauce and pesto, so we use those with pasta a lot, too. I make both in bulk and freeze the extra. I freeze the pesto in ice cube trays. I find that one cube plus a little bit of the water the pasta cooked in makes the right amount of sauce for us. I also combine a lot of meats with sweet potato fries (yes the frozen kind- I can't imagine having the time to make these from scratch), since these are the only thing resembling a vegetable that Pumpkin has ever eaten. She doesn't eat them reliably yet, but I keep trying. She finally ate some scone last night, on what was probably her 15th exposure. Let's just say that she warms up to foods slowly.
We've tried various rice recipes on Pumpkin, with no luck yet. She'll eat refried beans, but only at day care, where the teacher confirms she loves them. She won't touch them at home. I can't figure out why- I checked with the teacher, and the day care beans are just regular old refried beans. I periodically attempt these at home in combination with tacos, but the only thing she'll eat out of that meal is the tortillas. (I was the same way when I was a kid. I grew up in Arizona, and my parents and sister liked Mexican food. I ate a lot of tortillas.)
This week, we're trying fish sticks again. We'd had some luck with "little fishies" (fish sticks shaped like little fish), but our grocery store stopped carrying that brand, and we've yet to find an acceptable substitute. I'm not a huge fan of fish sticks, so I confess to being less than enthusiastic in my search. However, I'm getting bored with our usual meals, so decided it was time to try to branch out (again).
So what about you? What are your "go to" meals? I'd love some new ideas!