The Scenario: My dear niece, Emily, was born on Friday to my older sister and her husband. She is their second - my nephew, Jack is four years old. I was alone in their kitchen as my sweet little Jack's eyes were drooping as he watched Scooby-Doo on the couch before naptime. Other family members would not be here until the evening. It was just around three in the afternoon.
The Challenge: Make dinner for Jack and my parents with ingredients from the pantry and fridge all while keeping up Jack's expectation for me to nap on the floor in a sleeping bag and especially expect me to be there when he woke up. I opened up the pantry and knew I could make a baked ziti, though I really needed sauce simmer time.
The Outcome: I did it! I waited until Jack was asleep and tip-toed out of the room and ran downstairs to simmer sauce. I knew I had about an hour before he potentially woke up. I just finished a good 20 minute simmer after I made the sauce, ran upstairs, snuck back into the sleeping bag, and voila! Within ten minutes he woke up, leaned over the bed and said "MAIMY!" I pretended to wake up, smiled wide, and smelled the sweet smell of success! We came downstairs afterwards, and he helped me here and there making a tray of baked ziti...of which he ate two bowlfuls. (note: for all you mom's out there making fast meals: my upmost admiration to you for even getting dinner on the table!)
JACK'S "SUPER FAST" TOMATO SAUCE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
freshly ground pepper and Kosher salt to taste
Directions: Heat oil in a large pot at medium heat and add garlic. Sweat garlic for 3 minutes and add onions. Cook for another 5 minutes, until onions are tender. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with lid slightly ajar and let simmer for 20 minutes. Yields about 3 cups - use for lasagna, baked ziti, or a quick tomato sauce for spaghetti and meatballs.