School Projects Are No Fun—But Dinner Sure Is Tasty

I’ve been in school-project-hell this weekend. G-Man has a social studies project due in a couple of weeks, which any mom knows means that we all can kiss our free time goodbye until it’s done.

I really, really struggle with school projects, to the point that I truly dread when they come up. I want my kids to do them on their own, because that is the whole point, right? However, in the age of growing parent competitiveness (i.e ridiculousness), I learned early on that some parents’ idea of “helping” their kids is actually doing the project for them. I hate seeing super-slick class projects that you just know were done more by the parents than the child, if not in their entireity. Normally, I shrug it off, but I can’t help wondering if my child’s honest effort will be compared to their peers, and found lacking because I didn’t ensure all that glossy polish by practically doing the final product myself. Further, I don’t want my kids to feel substandard because their classmates’ projects look like professional advertising materials, while ours reflects the true work of a 4th grader. I am in a constant battle to figure out how to help my child be successful, without crippling him by doing too much. I wish I had the answer, but in the meantime, I still bleeping hate school project time.

In semi-related news, I tried a new recipe last night that I found in this month’s Southern Living. This King Ranch Mac and Cheese seemed like just the kid-friendly meal I needed to take the sting off our marathon report-writing session. This was dang tasty, and much faster to put together than I anticipated. The boys raved about it, so you know it’s not just the pregnancy talking.

King Ranch Mac and Cheese (From Jan/2012 Southern Living)

  • Print
  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 (16-oz.) package cellentani pasta (I couldn’t find this at Wally World, so I used ¾ of a 16-oz. box of elbow macaroni)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (I used the “mild” Rotel to make this more Heathen-friendly)
  • 1 (8-oz.) package pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese

    Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles and prepared cheese product; cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Stir in chicken, next 4 ingredients, and hot cooked pasta until blended. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 10-inch cast-iron skillet or 11- x 7-inch baking dish; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese.
  3. 3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.

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By following this dinner with our first King Cake of the season, I got to relish in a little “you’re the best mom ever!” That is, until I announced that it was shower time…then I was back to being Captain Meanie-Pants.

But, I’m cool with that.

2 thoughts on “School Projects Are No Fun—But Dinner Sure Is Tasty

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