I love it when dinner goes surprisingly well.
Tonight's plan was to finally make that tuna noodle casserole Penguin was too sick for last night. (Friday is casserole night; and this week it was going to be Thursday because of rehearsal but everyone got sick.)
This is a meal that will feed Mr Violets, myself and Penguin. Bumblebee will eat the noodles with a bit of cheese, if I save the noodles before assembling. Sometimes. Other times she makes faces at the dinner table and licks her veggies until her toast is ready. Yes, she's a bit old for that kind of behavior. But since it's an improvement and we can see the visual struggle she goes through not to throw a full out tantrum...it's a compromise we live with. Most of the time.
Anyways. Back to my story.
I started with the onion. Chopped it up and started carmelizing it on the stove. (I'm not very good at this part...I usually charcoalize bits and soften bits and brown bits. But I didn't do too bad tonight.) Then I rinsed out the spinach. Then I discovered we were out of peas, so I decided that tonight's experiment would be to add peppers.
Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, and since the kids both have an exceptionally nasty case of the flu vitamin C sounds like a good plan.
The water was boiling by now, so I opened the cupboard to pull out the pasta.
I found spice cake mix for making lunch 'muffins'.
I found spaghetti.
I found the Trader Joe's brand rice spaghetti my husband bought by accident and Bumblebee didn't like because it's thinner than Tinkyada and doesn't hold up to overcooking as well.
I found an extra bottle of grapeseed oil, the mint tea bag I keep up there as protection against food moths and a mysterious curly ribbon.
Then I remembered telling myself to write "TJ--corkscrew pasta" on the list last time I made pasta. Before I got distracted by having to play referee and Mr Violet's arrival home.
I looked at the softening onions, the casserole dish with spinach and bell peppers and the boiling water. I furrowed my brow. I looked at the spaghetti in my hand and thought "But, spaghetti and tuna just sounds...gross. It's...wrong."
Then Penguin called out, and I answered.
"Mommy, if it's not too much trouble, could I have rice and beans for dinner? I think there's leftovers. And then you and Bumblebee can have mac and cheese I guess." (This is a big sacrifice. Penguin hates when the rest of us have mac and cheese because she can't eat it. But she's sick, she knows her sister is sick and she wanted to do something nice for her.)
I looked at the casserole dish again, and let the wheels in my brain turn, vaguely a recipe for savory noodle kugel I once read about. I assessed my options...and made the spaghetti. We weren't going to eat it as spaghetti anyways. Well, I might. The kids and my husband will continue to hem and haw and choose cereal if we're out of Tinkyada. (Ironically, they prefer the TJ corkscrews, though.)
Then I cubed up teensy tiny cubes of cheese. I didn't feel like grating it.
I beat 2 eggs. I probably could have beaten 3, but I was just experimenting at that point. I really didn't want tuna with spaghetti, I didn't want beans with all those veggies tonight, and I did want a protein.
I mixed it all together. Added a ladle full of veggie broth. Stuffed it in the oven and let it bake for half an hour while I refreshed water bottles, redosed everyone on medecine and started Penguin's leftover rice and beans on the back burner.
I ended up with a meal that fed 3; just as planned. It just didn't feed the 3 that I expected it to feed. And Bumblebee wasn't nearly as thrilled with my concoction as Penguin tends to enjoy regular casserole.
So it's a definite make again meal. Maybe next time I'll even try it with an extra egg or two and no cheese. But, I like the cheese. It added extra pockets of creamy flavor. It wasn't a 5 star meal. It wouldn't earn any acclaim.
But it was tasty and free of corn, gluten, nuts and dye. What more can one ask for in a meal?