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What’s all the fuss about?: Short-order specials even the kids will love

The kiddie witching hour.

Every parent recognises this as a time when an insatiable hunger takes over their children and the screaming starts.

Worse, they know peace won’t come until the squealing urchins are fed.

“I came home, stressed and tired and late,” said one dad. “The kids were getting hyper because they were starving and were diving into the fridge to find stuff to eat. Of course, they ate all the bad stuff and when it comes to mealtime they have lost their appetite and this has a further knock-on effect because it means they are invariably hungry at bed time.”

His wife was away at the time and so the man was left to deal with the scenario on his own.

He knew the only way to prevent his children from having a complete meltdown was to prepare a nutritious meal and quickly. The problem was his cooking skills weren’t top-notch.

“When my wife is here she gets home earlier, so they get to eat earlier.”

It’s a situation many parents find themselves in. The good news is there are some really easy and quick standbys to help.

Meatball subs

I made this one myself when I suddenly realised I had guests to cook for, and the usual cook in the family had forgotten and wasn’t due home in time. I’m embarrassed to say I needed a recipe for this one, the first time.


Large bag of frozen meatballs (make sure they aren’t spicy if it is for the children)

Two bottles of spaghetti sauce or two tins of sloppy Joe sauce such as Manwich

Hoagie rolls

Grated cheese


Get a frying pan and put the meatballs in the pan. Pour one bottle of spaghetti sauce in there. You might need the second bottle depending on how many meatballs you are using. The meatballs seem to suck up the sauce a bit, so more is better. Turn the flame to medium. Follow the directions on the bag for how long you cook the meatballs, but it should be around five minutes. Toast the buns and place meatballs and sauce in roll and serve.

Warning: Remove uniform and any clothing you want to keep from child before giving the sandwich. The sauce will get everywhere. (And no, telling them to be careful won’t be good enough.)

Quesadilla recipe


A bag of flour tortillas. They come in a small size if you prefer

Grated sharp cheese

Olive oil

You can put almost anything in a quesadilla. Here are some options:

Mushrooms (you can buy them pre-sliced)

Green onions

Black olives, sliced

Fresh tomatoes, diced

Chicken pieces


Sliced lettuce

Optional toppings include guacamole, sour cream or salsa


Heat a frying pan to medium high heat and spread about ½ tsp of olive oil across the bottom with a spatula. Take one tortilla and place it in the pan. Flip the tortilla over a few times, ten seconds between flips. Air pockets should begin to form within the tortilla. When this happens, take a handful of grated cheese, sprinkle over the top of the tortilla, making sure that the cheese does not land on the pan itself.

Add whatever additional ingredients you choose — green onion, sliced mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, etc. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. The pan should be hot enough by now to have plenty of residual heat to melt the cheese and brown the tortilla. If the quesadilla begins to smoke too much, remove from the heat. After a minute, check to see if the cheese is melted. If not, return the cover and keep checking every minute until it is. When the cheese is sufficiently melted, use a spatula to lift up one side of the quesadilla and flip over the other side, as if you were making an omelette. The tortilla should by now be browned slightly. If it is not browned, turn the heat up to high and flip the quesadilla over every ten seconds or so until it gets browned. Remove from pan and cut into wedges. Let it cool a bit before giving it to small children.

Serve with the lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

Bird’s nest breakfast/dinner

I’m a big fan of breakfast at any time of the day.


Frozen, shredded hash browns


Optional fruit, sliced tomato or bacon


Coat a frying pan generously with cooking spray while heating over medium-high heat. Top with a cup of frozen, shredded hash browns and cook until nicely brown on bottom. (That’s brown Dad, not black!) Coat the tops of the hash browns with cooking spray, then flip them over and brown the other side. Once they’re nicely browned, push hash browns all around the edges of the pan (to make an opening in the middle of the pan). Crack an egg into the opening. Cover pan and let egg cook if you like it sunny side up. If you like it fried on both sides, turn the whole shebang over to fry the other side. Serve with sliced tomato, ketchup, and fresh fruit.

Mealtimes with small children can be a bit of a blur. Photo by Akil Simmons.

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Published February 22, 2013 at 8:50 am (Updated February 22, 2013 at 8:50 am)

What’s all the fuss about?: Short-order specials even the kids will love

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