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Friday Five - Good Eatin'
Friday, Feb. 07, 2003, 10:33 p.m.

Question: Does Hamburger Helper count as a recipe?

What I Learned: More than a little home cooking comes out a box.

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning? If you didn't have breakfast, why not? Since I am snowed in and have a sick kid who needs tending, I tried to have a 2-day old latte that I had stashed in the fridge the other day Ė how about I never do that again. I cooked grilled cheese and tomato soup but it was either feed the poor sick kid or feed myself, so guess who won out. Finally I snagged a diet coke and a microwave lean pocket. It hit the spot and was speedy too.

2. What's your favorite cereal? Cereal Ė you mean the kind you pour milk over? Never. I will eat Wheatena with brown sugar and raisins because my mom used to make it for me when I was a kid. I will also entertain Quaker Instant Oatmeal because it is convenient and comes in flavors like Maple and Brown Sugar, Apples and Cinnamon, Honey Nut, Baked Apple, Raisin Cinnamon Swirl, and French Vanilla. Also, in those cute little packages they are purse-tossable for emergency breakfasts.

3. How often do you eat out? Do you want that to change? It wasnít too long ago that going out to eat seemed easier than cooking in and we did it a lot. Recently, we have been eating in a little more at the kidsí request. Eating in seems to have become easier on busy evenings than eating out. Itís cheaper and probably occasionally healthier. I like this change Ė something I thought I would never say due to the inherent increase in kitchen duty related to dinners at home - but I do.

4. What do you plan on having for dinner tonight? Got a recipe for that? Roast chicken. Yes, we actually have one of those George Forman rotisseries and it works great. Itís easy and the whole house smells amazing while that chicken is slowly turning away. Itís the rotisserie spices that you put on the chicken that create that heavenly smell. There are mashed potatoes on the menu too. Peel them, cut them into pieces, boil them and get out the mixer and whip them up. My oldest got us hooked on this rich version of mashed potatoes. We add a few extra ingredients to obtain the effect - sour cream (lite is fine) and cream cheese (make that lite too) and some butter (whipped). Donít forget a little salt. Finally, I may pop some very soft rolls right out of the refrigerator case onto a cookie sheet and into the oven Ė thank you Pillsbury Doughboy. Ice cream for desert. This menu is designed for the sick kid in our house but I think everyone will like it.

5. What's your favorite restaurant? Why? My favorite restaurant is a little local Italian/Greek place that is near our house. It is a nice family place with good food and great fresh iced tea that they will bring by the pitcher to your table. Their menu is varied enough for everyone to find something on the menu that will work for them. The have pizzas including a Greek pizza, spaghetti, fried shrimp, souvlaki, salads, steak and cheese sandwiches, even liver and onion just in case you are feeling anemic Ė itís all there. They even give me a take-out cup with a lid (without me saying a word half the time) so I can bring some more of that excellent iced tea home with me. We have been going to this place for about 20 years because it is so convenient, comfortable, and affordable. I love that all the waitresses know us and can recite our breakfast order by heart - even if it does mean a predictable dining experience. I can get variety in dining at home. I just say - And which Hamburger Helper do you guys want tonight?

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