Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Dinner Your Kids Can Make!

I'm so old my picture is in b/w! Me with my grandmother's dog Pinky
by Peg Cochran

Girl Scout Stew

This has been such a fun week on Mystery Lover’s Kitchen!  I’ve loved seeing the recipe suggestions for dinners, lunches and snacks although my little ones are grown and my granddaughter is approaching pre-school age.

My recipe is one that your children can make on their own!  I’m guessing they need to be around 10 or 11 to handle this, but you will be able to judge when they are ready to safely use the stove.   We called this “Girl Scout Stew” although the recipes I have seen on-line are slightly different.  I assume I got this recipe from my Girl Scout troop.  It was a huge thrill when my mother let me make it for dinner!  Besides, I thought it was delicious!  But we never had it when my father was home.  He refused to eat anything resembling a casserole (except my grandmother’s sauerbraten and my aunt’s stuffed cabbage).  He liked his meat, vegetable and starch neatly separated on the plate!

The original recipe for this did not include the onion, but when making it for me and my husband to take the pictures, I thought it would add something.  You can leave it out, or, you can teach your son or daughter some knife skills.  I’ve shown one technique for cutting an onion below. I was afraid my husband would find this dish too unsophisticated, but he went back for seconds and ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.  So much for sophistication!
It’s a huge thrill for a child to be able to make dinner for the whole family!  I always felt like a million dollars when I did it.  The one thing you might want to help with or supervise is draining the pasta from the boiling water.

I also halved the recipe for this blog since it’s just me and my husband.  The ingredients are for the full recipe and should serve four.


Olive or vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 onion, chopped (optional)
1 lb. elbow macaroni

Add 1 TBL of olive or vegetable oil to your frying pan and turn heat to medium high. Saute onion until translucent (if using.)  Add ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat loses its raw color.  Add two cans of tomato sauce and let simmer on a very low flame for 15 to 20 minutes to meld the flavors (Optional step – if you don’t have the time, just proceed with the recipe.) 

Cook elbow macaroni in boiling water until just done (don’t overcook).  Add to ground beef/tomato mixture and stir.  Heat through—approximately five minutes.  Can be served as is or topped with grated parmesan cheese.

To Cut Your Onion.

First peel onion, then cut in quarters, leaving the stem on.


Lay onion quarter on its side and slice lengthwise at regular intervals but without cutting through stem.  This will keep your onion layers together.  Turn onion to other flat side and again slice through vertically at intervals.  Now, slice across the onion, perpendicular to your original cuts.  You should have nice diced pieces!  Discard stem end when done and repeat with remaining onion quarters.  

Both my books are out now!  Allergic to Death is the first in the Gourmet De-Lite series.  Murder Unmentionable is written under my pen name of Meg London and is first in the Sweet Nothings Lingerie series.


  1. Yanno, when I was a child I thought I hated onions. It was only when I started cooking for myself as an adult that I realized they were in almost everything, just cooked down enough to be invisible.

    How great it is for kids to feel "all grown up" when they can make a meal by themselves (that doesn't mean sticking a package in a microwave!).

    1. I've noticed that, too, when I cook for friends who claim they hate onions. Shhh! Our little secret.

      ~ Krista

  2. Sheila, I hadn't thought about the fact that most kids can microwave a frozen dinner these days. There's a feeling of power in being able to cook a meal and feed yourself. Wish I could convince my husband of that.

  3. This is such a wonderful starter recipe, Peg. I can just imagine your pride in it. And I bet it's good!

    We had the sweetest comment from a girl who made one of our dishes. She sounded surprised by how good it was, and I got the impression it might have been the first time she ever cooked something instead of nuking it in the microwave.

    I hope the Girl Scouts still teaches girls how to make this!

    ~ Krista

  4. This sounds like a great 'staple' recipe... the kind where you just know you have all the stuff needed in your cupboard!

  5. Peg/Meg,

    Kids can be cook this even earlier than 10. I remembering making something similar- I threw in peas and frozen corn and such. Mom called it succotash stew. LOL. Anything to make something this easy sound fun. I wonder if she got it from the Girl Scouts????

    ~Avery aka Daryl