Against my better judgement, I did eventually emancipate the inmates. They set the table (still sniffling) and hustled back outside.
"Harryboy" Chicken Lollipops
1 pound jumbo chicken tenders
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Mirin (japanese white wine)
1 teaspoon bottled fresh chopped ginger
1 teaspoon honey
Combine all ingredients in a large plastic zip-top bag and shake to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or on the countertop for 30 minutes. Thread each chicken tender onto a skewer, satay-style. Grill for 3 minutes per side or until cooked through. Our grill currently has a wasp's nest in it, so I just popped ours under the broiler. Which worked fine, but I missed those cool grill marks on the chicken.
Peanut Dipping Sauce on the Side
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons honey (depending on how sweet your peanut butter is)
1 tablespoon Sriracha chile sauce (for the adult version only--I left it out of the kiddo's)
Whisk all ingredients together and put into small bowls for dipping.
The verdict: Miss D. really liked Harryboy Chicken. She declared the dipping sauce nasty and her sister, of course, followed suit. In fact, she trumped her--I believe Miss M. said nastynastynasty. Still, I was pleased, because both girls ate their chicken and it wasn't fried!
We adults liked our sauce just fine, by the way.
Sesame Stir-Fried Snap Peas
1 8 oz. bag sugar snap peas (de-stringed in my house but it's up to you)
1/2 cup shredded carrots (I also get these in the bag...lazy!)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons peanut oil plus 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat the combined oils. Add snap peas and carrots and stir fry until just crisp tender, about 3-5 minutes. Toss with sesame seeds, salt and pepper.
The verdict: Both girls picked at the snap pea mixture until Miss D. discovered that if you open up the snap pea, Viola! There are little tiny baby peas inside! Supercool! So they ate them, although they picked out the carrots and weren't that jazzed about the sesame seeds. Again, I am happy--my kids+green vegetable? Awesome!
The basmati rice was an experiment. I usually make mine on the stovetop, and it always comes out great. A fellow (much more competent) food blogger called The Wednesday Chef had posted this recipe for basmati rice, which begins cooking on the stovetop but finishes in the oven. I was intrigued, so I tried it. I used butter instead of oil, because let's face it, butter is delicious. I also used chicken broth instead of water, because I think it adds flavor. This recipe makes a lot of rice, so be warned. However, I love using leftover rice for fried rice the next day, so I was psyched.
The verdict: Miss M. scarfed this rice and asked for more. I wasn't surprised, because she is Carbo Queen...alas, so is her mother. Miss D. took a few bites and decided that rice is NOT her favorite prom date. Which is what she always does with rice. I cannot believe that girl is half Indian.
The rice turned out well; however, if you use the method above at high altitude, I might add a couple of minutes on to the cooking time. The grains were rather firm.
Breakdown of the Whole Family Dinner Experience:
I think we got a C. It was too gorgeous outside and the girls were decidedly un-psyched to be called inside to sit and do such a mundane thing as eat. But we toasted before the meal and felt (at least me) grateful to be together.
Miss D. decided to be Cruise Director and asked everyone, "So, how was your day?" Which is how I learned that gross-a-rama, somebody barfed in the middle of math class today.
Approximately 12 minutes into the meal, Miss D. squealed, "Omigod, guys, there's two bunnies outside!!!!" And Family Meal #1 was pretty much over. But there were flowers to smell and bunnies to chase, and nothing can compete with that.