When in Rome…

“Mom, I want to do Romen Noodle Chicken!  Alex told me about it at school.”

“Awesome!” (thinking this is some fun ethnic recipe that we get to try…) “Did he give you a recipe?”

I start googling “romen noodle chicken” to find a fun recipe to try.

“No mom, he said it’s just something that you get at the store.”

oh no, he can’t mean…

he really wouldn’t be so excited about…

I have tried so hard to have us stay away from…

I google the dreaded words:





“Yes!  That’s it!  That’s what I want to make for my dinner night!”

(insert mommy face-palming herself icon here)





All was not lost… I started googling recipes with ramen noodles in them, which then added chicken and vegetables.  Lots and lots of vegetables.

Every recipe received a shake from his head.

“no, I just want the noodles”

“What about this one with fun broccoli added?”

“nope, just the noodles”

“This one with yummy chicken??”


So, I went to the store, searched diligently, and finally found the family pack size of Ramen noodles.

And on his cooking night, I finally talked him into doing two batches.

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… at least some of us got some vitamins out of the meal 🙂

And he got to have his straight-up-nothing-added-even-drained-the-juice-rAmen-noodles-chicken.










now, if you’ll excuse me… I need to go schedule his triple bypass surgery for a few years down the road… :O

Are you sick of KIK yet??

I had visions of sitting down and doing individual catch ups on all of the dinners that have been cooked in the past month of the KIK program.  But let’s face it, I’m just too lazy, and am letting too much time go by without writing just because I feel like I have to get the old entries done first.

So, here is the super speedy catch up…

Menus for the past few weeks:

chicken pot pie

tater tot casserole


meat loaf mini’s

pink pancakes (okay, we haven’t actually made these yet… they are from the sneaky chef cookbook about making vegetable purees and then ‘sneaking’ them into food.  Daughter wanted to do pink pancakes… which requires making a beet puree.)  We missed this on the menu (who wouldn’t choose going out to dinner on a Saturday night??! We certainly didn’t pass up the opportunity when daddy offered!).  So I’ll get back to you on that dinner choice…

oven baked chicken strips

apricot chicken

indian dish (can you guess this was dad’s night… another crazy dive into the gourmet guru… turns out we loved it!)

and some other ‘interesting’ choices.




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it’s been quite the ride, but such a fun time with so many tiny benefits that I didn’t even see coming.

Join our journey and let’s KIK it together!!


Give a son a fish, feed him for a day. teach him how to fish, feed him for a lifetime…

…have daddy to the teaching and you just got yourself a night off!








yep – it really pays to have a dad who loves bon appetit.  Especially when the mom hates any and all sea-life forms (in food aspects, at least).  Seriously – I don’t think hubs truly believed me when we were dating and I said I wasn’t a fan of fish.  and by ‘not a fan’ I mean that I would prefer sucking an onion bone dry before chomping on any sea forms.  I mean really, you have to wonder about a food group people describe it as being good only if it doesn’t taste like itself (i.e. “this ____ (any random type) fish is great – it doesn’t taste fishy at all!”)

Just thinking about the squiggly texture of shrimp makes me a little queasy… so we’ll just move on, ahem.

Add daddy’s love of the fishy things of life with his love of bon appetit magazine, and we can get some pretty ‘interesting’ dinners when he is in charge.

Fish Tacos was one of those dinners.

Seriously – even the name sends my stomach into a lurch.  But I know fish is healthy and should be a great part of everyones diet.  So I love that he is teaching the kiddos the fine love of fishery.

He made this a few months back, and the kids went gaga over it.  So it really didn’t overly surprise me when 9 yo’s first choice of the KIK program was “Fish Tacos!”

And the next day, I was off to the store to buy fish all by myself for the first time ever.  I felt like there should have been some sort of celebration/mother of the year award when I walked up and requested 3 pounds of red snapper.  But alas there wasn’t.  Just me.

And the fish.

taking a big gulp and getting ready to dig in with the son to do some serious fish frying.







Imagine my excitement when daddy actually made it home early and jumped at the chance to help out with the dinner.



(Since daddy is rarely early, I saw this as a minor miracle in our little family’s universe!)












They cut, they battered, they fried, and they garnished.


























Ben even made cole-slaw topping to go with it!



And since I’m just plain too lazy to copy the recipe down, I’ll simply give you the link, and you can get all the goods right from the horses mouth (well, at least from the bon appetit website!)


Orange Fluff!!

… that was 5 yo daughters first request for dinner.  Orange Fluff.  Wow.  Mac n cheese and orange fluff as the first two dinner requests.









My dietitian heart… well, it had seen better days.

My mother heart was just grasping at the fact that they were excited about dinner duty, so I went with it.  …and managed to convince her that chicken Alfredo went really well with orange fluff.

She could hardly wait for her night!  (who knew it could take sooooo long to get to Tuesday??!)

Orange fluff is super easy:

Add 1 large package of cook and serve vanilla pudding to 3 cups of water









Stir until it boils (and let little brother join in on the stirring fun)

add 2 small boxes of orange jello.  Chill for at least 4 hours (or overnight)


take out of fridge, let settle at room temperature for a while (by ‘a while’ I mean about 30 minutes if you remember ahead of time, or 30 seconds if you forgot about it until right before dinner time)





mix well with a mixer, then add 1/2 – 1 small container of whipped topping (depending on how much you have eaten straight from the tub before you mix it up.  Oh c’mon, don’t pretend like you’ve never dipped your finger for a quick lick!)











Scoop into a bowl, and then just try to keep everyone from snitching before dinner!









… it helps stave off the attackers to let them lick the beaters 🙂











… and then serve with a ‘side’ of pasta, chicken in alfredo sauce, and of course some freshly homemade bruschetta.


KIKn it week one: You mean macaroni and cheese doesn’t come from a box??!



Let me preface this by saying, I am no Julia Childs.  I am a down home, traditional meat and potatoes type of gal.  I know how to cook… I just haven’t ever been one of those people who finds nirvana over steaming victuals.

In fact, true story:  our first Thanksgiving together, I woke up that morning, got the turkey out of the freezer (yep… I heard that collective gasp!), then called my mom to ask how to cook a turkey.  She wasn’t there (uh oh!)  So I dialed up my mother in law and asked her.  She gave me some great tips (that I still use to this day! thanks, Gramma Sue!!).  I may or may not have broken a few health code violations in trying to get the bird thawed first (really??  who knew you had to actually prepare some parts of the meal ahead of time??!), and then cooked.

Turns out, it was one of the best turkeys we had ever had.  (Yup, those tips really did pay off!  Good thing because we were hosting quite the crowd for dinner!).  I started to realize that cooking good food didn’t have to mean using ingredients that you couldn’t pronounce.

Fast forward many years, many trials and errors (let’s just say, our kids have become brutally honest when my ‘experiments’ aren’t quite up to eating standards!), and I have kind of gotten a little routine down of quick, yet somewhat healthy meals to prepare the family.  I patted myself on the back that we only broke out the mac n cheese a few times a year (so the kids viewed it as a ‘super special treat’ to have it for a meal!).

Enter week one of our KIK program.

I sat down the kids, dusted off the menu planner, and told them they could each pick whatever dish they wanted to do for their designated day.

7 yo son immediately chimed up “Mac n Cheese!!”

“awesome! pop open a few boxes, that is easy enough” was my first thought.  Before it even came out… my Bon-Appetite-loving hubby chimed in from the peanut gallery… “so… are you going to teach him how to do the REAL version??”

And suddenly it hit me.  I had spent years studying the fine art of nutrition.  I had worked in a campus cafeteria, and then managed that cafeteria.  I had taken food chemistry classes.  My entire college education centered around food.  My entire dietetic career has been spent teaching people to eat close to the farm… to try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible.  And here I was about to teach my child that to cook a dinner, you first need to open a box of processed food.

Of course, I couldn’t admit this to my eyebrows raised hubby, so I nonchalantly glanced over and said,

“yes, of course I am.”

And just like that, my whole outlook on this program changed.  I realized that I could do so much more for my kids than merely teach them how to get food-like-substances into their bodies.  I could really teach them how to COOK (and probably learn some things myself along the way!), and truly NOURISH their bodies.

So began our night number one:

lesson 1:  butter can burn.








Moving on:

Real lesson number 1:  how to make a roux (and in full disclosure, I just had to look up how to spell that!)

(I remember when I had baby #3, a dear friend brought dinner that contained the yummiest soup ever.  I called her for the recipe, and she started off with “oh, it’s so easy!”  major red flag when said friend is a gourmet cook, I later learned!  “you just start with a roux… ” she went on to explain this “super easy” recipe, but truth be told, she lost me at roux.  I had never made one before and thought that if I couldn’t even define the word, then making it would be even harder!).

Turns out, it really IS quite easy!

You simply melt some butter (careful not to let it cook too long… see picture above, ahem…), whisk in some flour, then add milk (while whisking like crazy!).  Suddenly you have yourself a super yummy-looking roux!









Next, you stir in some cheese









Pour it over some noodles (that you have already boiled!)















Cover with some bread crumbs:








And bake in ‘that hot thing over there!’ (as quoted from 5 yo… hmmm, maybe we’ll need to incorporate some kitchen vocabulary into her KIKn night!)

Then you sit and watch the magic happen as all of the ooey, gooey goodness melts together.

All in all, this recipe was a double thumbs up from all the kiddos… who were just as surprised as I was that mac n cheese could come from a place other than the little blue box :).

Here’s the recipe (from Alana Spillman – a girl I have never met. She is found in the family recipe book given by my dear friend… which book also contains the recipes for frogs legs, mutton, and head cheese.  First of all, I am suddenly rethinking your family lineage, Sue 😉  and second of all… I don’t think those recipes will be making their way into the kitchen any time soon!  But this one was a keeper!)

1 (12 oz) box macaroni noodles (cooked and drained)

6 tbsp. butter

6 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 cup whole milk (we used skim milk)

1 1/2 cup cream (we used fat free half and half)

3/4 tsp salt

pepper to taste

3 cups shredded cheese (we used part milk and part sharp cheddar)

3/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray bottom of 9×13 pan.  Melt butter in sauce pan, then whisk in flour (mixed with salt and pepper).  Slowly pour in milk and half and half while whisking.  Bring to boil while stirring constantly and boil 2 min.  Reduce heat and simmer additional 10 min (declaimer – we were short on time, so didn’t wait the whole 10 min).  Stir in cheese until melted and simmer another 5 min (again short on time, so just stirred until melted).  Pour in noodles and stir until coated.   Pour into pan, top with bread crumbs, and bake for about 20 min (until top is golden).

Serve and “make sure to tell everyone that I made it, okay mom?”

Long live KIK!!!

Join me in the journey… what’s cooken in your kitchen??