Summers seem shorter and shorter. In the blink of an eye, the school year let out and now it’s time to leave the water’s edge and send the kids back to the classroom. Structured, activity-packed school days also mean that bedtimes are reset to their normal hour. Suddenly, it’s even trickier to get dinner on the table. And for many families, the reentry to fall means a pledge to sit down together for something nourishing and (hopefully) quick to produce.
Mexican-style dishes appeal to the youngest diners, their picky pre-teen siblings, and frazzled parents. For a quesadilla “cake,” layer refried beans and cheese between tortillas, add sauteed vegetables, and pop it into the oven. For chimichanga night, bake the popular tortilla roll-ups, which are usually deep fried, and fill them with ground turkey. Invite the children to select — and even prepare — their own condiments and veggies, and perhaps this small gesture of independence will go miles in preventing meal time arguments about who eats what.
Sweet potato steak fries are a great accompaniment to any meal of rotisserie chicken or grilled meats. No kids turn their heads at these vitamin-packed spears, here oven-fried for a healthful spin. For the more adventurous at your table, offer an easy Asian noodle and vegetable soup, making the most of the late-summer harvest. The dish is interesting enough for parents to enjoy, subtle enough for less-experienced palates.
When dinner for the whole family comes from one simple pot — and everyone of every age is on board — who can argue with that?
Karoline Boehm Goodnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.