I have a hypothesis about raising healthy eaters. Expose them to enough healthy meals, chock-full of veggies and whole grains, and they’ll grow up to eat healthy–even if they turn down the dishes now. Call me callous, but I don’t really mind if on some nights my kids take one bite of dinner and head for the cereal cabinet. Dinner today’s an investment for their future, right?

Wish me luck because if my experiment fails, I won’t know for another dozen or so years. And there are no second chances.

This weekend, though, I wasn’t willing to inflict my experiment on the neighbors’ kids. With four of them here for dinner, I needed kids’ food. Lots of it. Following is our night’s menu, with recipes below. I made them rate each dish, with 5 stars being the best. (Full disclosure: I offered an extra roasted marshmallow to anyone who tried something new.)

Whole Wheat Deep Dish Pizza: This was inspired by my fabulous friend Rachel Zimmerman, but because I never made my pizza deep dish, it turned out more well done than I would have liked. Still, only one piece was left at the end of the meal, and no one complained about the whole wheat flour. Rating: 1 5-Star and all the rest 3-Stars.

Homemade Fries: Besides the baby, who through his on the floor, there wasn’t a fry left. Even the sweet potato ones were gone. 5-Stars across the board.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup: We were scraping the pot. This was the creamiest soup I ever made. One 9-year-old rater gave it stars off the charts, the rest gave it 5’s. Then there was the girl who tried a tiny bite just to get her marshmallow. She gave it a 1.

Roasted Marshmallows: I have a rule about roasting marshmallows over an open fire. None of my other rules apply. And certainly no rating system is necessary.

The best part of the meal? Not only was the food all gone, but a certain 4-yr.-old discovered a tooth missing as well.

DEEP DISH PIZZA (crust adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. Knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a warm, wet towel and leave it in your oven with the light on (oven should be turned off) and let rise until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Spread the dough into a greased 9×13 pan and pierce with a fork. Spread tomato sauce around generously. Add any toppings and then a ton of mozzarella cheese. Bake on 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

8-10 potatoes, including some sweet potatoes
2T olive oil
kosher salt

Wash potatoes and peel the sweet potatoes. Slice them in the food processor. Spread them across a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake on 375 degrees for 25 minutes until edges are crispy.

3 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped onion
1 head roughly chopped cauliflower
1T butter
1 cup milk
2T salt
freshly ground pepper

Saute the garlic and onion in butter until soft and slightly brown. Add the cauliflower and saute 3 minutes more. Add water to cover and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Let simmer until very soft–at least 20 minutes. Pour soup into blender or use immersion blender until creamy. Add the milk and heat without boiling. Serve with shredded cheese on top.

2 thoughts on “Testing dinner on the neighbors’ kids

  1. What? No kudos to the person who made deep dish pizza for our dinner last week and reminded you that making deep dish was yummy and possible?
    I’m just saying……….. 🙂 a shout out on your blog would be fun

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