Thursday, June 20, 2013

Caterpillars for Dinner

Four and a half years ago, my husband was deployed and I had four children, ages 2-8, and the dog at home.  I homeschooled, potty-trained, cooked, cleaned, brushed people's teeth, and clipped people's nails.  I did everything.  The vet was telling me I should be brushing my dog's teeth every day.  Yeah, whatever.  The dog was lucky if he got a bath or two the whole deployment!!  The yardwork was so behind it was embarrassing, as was the state of my mini-van.  I finally paid someone to mow the lawn and clean the car.  I felt like I barely made it through that deployment.  But the kids were all happy and healthy, so what's a few blades of grass grown as high as trees in your yard?!

Things have gotten easier gradually since then; we just finished another year with my husband gone, but my kids are older and able to help more and do more for themselves now.  I still don't brush the dog's teeth, but he actually gets an extra long walk every so often from my son, so his life is good.  

Suddenly, school is out for the summer, my husband is retired from the Navy and home looking for another job, and my oldest two kids are cooking dinner once a week each.  My husband loves to grill outside for dinner, as does my oldest son.  I feel like I'm living a life of leisure.  I think this is the first time since my kids were born that I've actually felt like I'm starting to catch up on my "to-do" list!

So what does all this have to do with caterpillars for dinner?  Well, my oldest 3 kids have been wanting to fix dinner one night a week each.  The oldest 2 can do it by themselves, while I still help #3.  They each pick their recipes and write down the ingredients before we go shopping each week.  Most recipes have to be at least doubled for our family of 6, so they are responsible for figuring out how much of each ingredient they need for that.  We praise their efforts highly when we partake of what they have prepared.

This, of course, leads to the little one wanting to cook dinner for the family by himself!  So he looked through the kids' cookbooks and found the recipe for caterpillars.  There are few things that can make you prouder when you are 7 years old than telling people you made your family caterpillars for dinner!

You can pretty much see in the pictures what is on the caterpillar.  The base is half of a bagel cut in half again and made into an "S" shape.  Top it with mozarella cheese, ketchup,  hot dog pieces, and mustard.  Use pimento-stuffed-olive halves for eyes and pretzel sticks for antennae.  Then bake.  You can find the exact recipe in Pampered Chef's Let's Eat recipe book, which is full of fantastic ideas for kids.  He's making the mini-burger-bites pictured on the front next.

Make some caterpillars for dinner and beat the summer doldrums!

Happy cooking!

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