Dinner, like, right this minute

I have long been a proponent of homemade dinner, every night, no excuses. No time in the evening? Do some stuff in advance, and pull everything together in the last half hour. Right? Well, I have been eating some crow lately.

Wouldn't it be hilarious if this photo from Bon Appetit was my speedy dinner, with the kale-leaf garnish and everything? Well, no. It was more like bagels tossed at each customer, every other topping spread out on the table as fast as possible...

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if this photo from Bon Appetit was my speedy dinner, with the kale-leaf garnish and everything? Well, no. It was more like bagels tossed at each customer, every other topping spread out on the table as fast as possible…

My (very small) kids have been taking karate lessons, which land us arriving home roughly 15 minutes before our target dinnertime, and they are, shall we say, even more on edge and hungry as a result of said karate. In addition, my husband works late on one of those karate nights, and my infant wakes up from a nap just as we arrive home from karate, needing to be fed herself. So the situation is, how shall we say, delicate. Reheating and finishing up can be problematic, with no other adult to hand the baby to. The kids are in that state where no issue is too tiny or ridiculous to escalate into a full-blown war (and they are equipped with all sorts of new fighting skills—again, see: karate). So, parents of older kids, who are in all sorts of activities? I finally get it.

So I will be collecting ideas that can become dinner, like, immediately. One old favorite is always welcome, but last week I hit a home run with a favorite brunch spread of mine: bagels and lox. The key to making it feel like a meal is assembling all the accessories: sliced red onion, capers, cucumbers, lemon wedges, cream cheese. Throw in some raw veggies for munching right out of the bowls: cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas. (The kids can begin gnawing bagels immediately while you get everything else together.) I thought I would be the only taker for a full-monty bagel, but my 5 1/2-year-old son, looking at mine, requested a bagel arranged with capers, cucumber slices, and lox. Far from recognizing that we were hardly eating a hot, home-cooked meal, he looked at me and said, “This is just the goodest thing I have ever eaten.” Score!

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