Monday, February 7, 2011

Meal Time

There were times when I was growing up that I didn't give my parents the respect they deserved.  I have a feeling I'm not alone in this.  Teenage-angst-years aside, the times I think of most often were meal times.  Hmm.  I wonder what prompts these memories.  If you're a mom or if you've been around children at all during meal time, I bet you can guess what it is that prompts my memories of meal time disrespect.

At our table, unless we are having pizza or waffles, one or more of the children will make their displeasure known (through whining, crying, complaining and refusal to eat).  Usually, I do a real good job not taking it personally.  They're kids, after all.  What do they know about good food?  Not much, really.  I didn't enjoy broccoli or asparagus while growing up and now I adore them.  So, I chalk up their complaints to immaturity.  Most of the time.

Sometimes, though, at the end of a long day, when I thought that there might be a chance that what I was preparing might please everyone, it doesn't.  And, it gets to me.  More even than having my feelings hurt, I am disappointed that even when we try to help our kids understand how blessed we are to have so much, they can (and will) still be petty and ungrateful.  So, we have the talk all over again and if they fuss, they must leave the room until they are ready to come back and try again.

Some evenings the older two end up taking turns leaving the room.  But, that doesn't happen in your house, right?

Back to my childhood.  I'm sure I gave my mom grief at dinner time and for that I am sorry.  {Sorry, Mom.}  And, my dear mother had five potential complainers.  I hope the memories of all our pettiness and ungratefulness have faded from her memory, but just in case they haven't, I want to let you know, Mom, that there were many meals that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I'm afraid I can't take back my dislike of the times you served liver or scrapple, but I certainly could have been nicer about it.  Of that, I am sure.

One of the dishes that I always loved and that made my mouth start watering when I smelled it baking was her Tuna Bake with Cheese Biscuits.  It is a very tasty and comforting dish indeed.  As a mom, I love that it includes all the major food groups, but my {personal} favorite part is still the biscuits with all the melty cheese inside.  I made it again recently and, in proper form, one out of the three kids disapproved, but hey.  Those odds aren't terrible and I was happy.

Tuna Bake with Cheese Biscuits (adapted from my Mom's recipe only in that I double it)
Serves 6-8.  Now, some of you will be put off my the store bought/processed elements of this recipe and others of you will rejoice in them.  Of those of you in the first category, there are many ways to  appease yourself- use grated cheese, make and use homemade bisquick mix and homemade creamed soup substitute.  If you're not a fan of tuna, you can use chicken.  If you're still not pleased with your choices, you may leave the room until you're ready to come back into the room and act decent.

3 tbsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Bisquick or homemade baking mix
2 cans cream of mushroom or chicken condensed soup mix or the equivalent of the homemade version
3 cups milk
2 cups cooked peas
1 or 2 cans tuna, drained, or 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
2 tbsp. lemon juice

4 cups Bisquick or homemade baking mix
3/4 cup water
8-10 slices American cheese or 2-3 cups shredded cheese of your choice

If your peas are not cooked yet, go ahead and set them to cook.  (If you're using chicken and it's not cooked yet either, go ahead and take care of that as well.)  In the meantime, melt the butter in a large skillet or large heavy-bottomed sauce pan.  Add chopped onions and peppers and saute them until the onions are tender.  Stir in 1/2 cup Bisquick and saute briefly, incorporating it well.  Add the condensed soup and gradually stir in the milk.  Heat to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir for one minute- sauce should begin to thicken.  Turn back the heat to medium and add the cooked peas, drained tuna (or chicken) and lemon juice.  Cook a few more minutes until heated through and sauce is thick.  Take off the heat and set aside.

To make the biscuits, combine 4 cups of Bisquick in a large bowl with 3/4 cup water.  Blend with a spoon and then turn out onto your counter.  You won't need to flour your counter (at least I don't).  The dough may seem dry, but once you kneed it a little bit you will likely see that it's just right- soft and not too sticky.  If this isn't the case, add a smidge of water or Bisquick until you've got it.  It should look like this...

Next, roll it out into a rectangle or oval (or whichever happens first) about a 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Lay the cheese slices over the dough like this...

Now, starting at the longer edge closest to your belly, tightly begin rolling the dough (and cheese) up, away from you.  Once it's rolled, use a sharp knife to cut the roll into slices, about 15.  It will look something like this...

Next, coat a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and pour all of the sauce into it.  Lay the biscuit slices on the top of the sauce like this...

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits are lightly browned and the cheese is slightly darker, like this...

Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Pin It


  1. No fair making me laugh out loud (especially under your note about substitutions). After giving birth to 4 children I can't be held responsible for what happens when I laugh (or sneeze or cough for that matter).

    Have you been visiting my house at mealtime? Because you pretty well summed up what happens around our table. It can be very discouraging...especially when I meal takes a good amount of time or effort.

    Anyway, your recipe looks scrumptious. I actually have tuna noodle casserole on my menu for this week. I LOVE tuna noodle casserole. It's one of my favorite comfort foods. But, I rarely make it because I'm pretty much the only one who likes it. But, I actually got a request for it from my one good eater, so I jumped right on that!

    When I saw your recipe I thought that maybe I'd try it instead for a change from the typical tuna noodle. But, I think I'm stickin with the original plan for this week and putting your recipe on next week's menu subbing out the tuna with chicken. (I don't think I can get away with serving tuna 2 weeks in a row).

    The cheesy biscuits are genius by the way!

  2. Complaining about what's for dinner is one of my pet peeves, so that normally generates a quick invite to leave the table and kitchen. If the complaints continue after returning, they are invited to leave the table until the next meal. Not many meals get skipped enough for me to worry or stop enjoying the peace that follows.

    I feel their time to voice disagreement over the menu is when we are planning it TOGETHER over the weekend. My boy child skipped a week of planning because being on the computer was more important to him at the time. I think he was asked to leave the table every night that week. He didn't miss the next meal planning meeting.

  3. Wow, that looks neat! I have never seen a tuna bake like that. This may be one that my hubby goes for! And thanks for giving the alternatives to the processed stuff- who wants to eat bisquick anyway? Yuck! :)

  4. It's always good to hear that one is not alone in the dinner-time battles! I work with kids a lot and I KNOW that other families have these battles, but yet I still wonder at times what horrible parenting skills I must have to have to deal with it night after night (from one of ours much more so than the other!). Our older boy (the pickt one) is having a bit of a rough time on numerous fronts at the moment, and though I'm not happy to hear that you have these struggles, it does help to hear that someone I know personally and who cooks so many delish-looking things also has this experience. Thanks for the post.

  5. Eat, don't eat: At my house it didn't matter. However, you had to sit there and couldn't fuss--prolonged fussing resulted in the choice between eating or wearing your food. All of my children have been escorted out to the front yard while their plate was carried by a gleeful sibling, so that Mom could upend the plate (with equal glee) over the offending child's head. No harm was done--by this point, the food could have started the next Ice Age. But boy oh boy, did it make me feel better......

  6. When we were kids, we had to eat everything on our plate. You'll never make them all happy. That tuna bake does look good! I'll eat it.

  7. Ooo, you're a smartie. That little note at the top of the recipe... HA!

  8. I would LOVE this meal. American cheese, biscuits, tuna, canned soup. All things I adore but only use sparingly. And I have a blog about whole foods.... hahaha!

  9. I used to fight the food battle. The supper meal is made for my husband, the children know this, they can eat the meal or not- I'm good either way. I let go of the food battle, a number of years ago... My thought was that one day they will get hungry and lo and's working! I have only one son that still draws the line in the sand. And one day he'lll give in also!!! The children each make their lunch, I do place an item on the menu as a guide some of the children need that, but lunch is a meal that they can choose the foods they like; there is one rule, the meal must include protein and fruit/vegetables. The dish above looks delicious, as long as I use chicken! I never thought of rolling up slices of cheese in a biscuit like that, they would be yummy alone!

  10. It is only me and hubby here now. Kids gone. But I do remember meal times and yes I had those same issues. Guess what I fixed for supper tonite? Yep, your recipe. I used chicken, added corn and lima bean along with the peas. About 1 cup of each. Oh yeah, and a little garlic powder on the cheese before rolling it up. (Hubby not crazy about peas) VERY GOOD! Enjoyed by all. Thanks!

  11. I'm ready to sit up to the table and behave myself.

    That looks good enough to try.

    Aunt V.

  12. That looks delicious, and I like that it can be made with chicken or tuna. Can't wait to try it out. About whining at the dinner table...well it all goes with the kids. One of ours is the pickiest eater. Lots of crying has been had over meals. But that kid is improving. It's hard not to wonder sometimes if I should change my meals around more to the liking of the kids, but well our parents and grandparents didn't always make food we liked, and we survived. (I still hate brussel sprouts...ugh!)

  13. I tried the Tuna Bake tonight and WOW was it delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. It's a keeper. I might even try it with sausage as a biscuits and gravy meal.


  14. Had to comment on this. Recipe sounds delish, will try with chicken (DH won't eat warmed tuna).
    As far as kids eating I've read a childs taste buds are different, foods taste different as we "age".
    If I din't eat my dad laid me over his knee and spanked. I could get spanked hard two or three times during meals but still refused to eat. Was it worth the battle?
    My neighbor feeds her son what ever he wants, he eats in front of tv. She and DH eat a different meal at the table. He is 14 now and still eats like that. Bugs me but not my kid.
    Our son is 32 and still the only foods he hates are those with mayo or mustard. He misses out on good potato salad. LOL


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