Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Eating Out, In

I asked little miss what she wanted for dinner tonight, and she told me that she wanted to go to Red Robin. I actually considered it for a minute - the idea of not having to cook or do dishes was rather appealing... but she had had a pretty busy day already and I wasn't sure if going out for dinner would push the day into the realm of overwhelming, so I decided to get a little creative.

I asked little miss what she would order if we went to Red Robin, and she responded with "Mac & cheese and mandarin oranges as the side!" I was pretty sure that that was going to be her response, since that is what she orders 99% of the time that we go there, and I was totally prepared with my response. I told her that we would pretend go to Red Robin, and have that same meal at home. Luckily, she thought this was a great idea.

The thing is, I was sneaky when I made this offer... I made a whole pound of pasta for us to go with dinner last night, and had planned on having leftover pasta, in some form or another, for dinner tonight. I love when things work out well...

Anyway, the first thing little miss did was pretend to drive to Red Robin, which gave me a minute to gather my ingredients. I then seated little miss at the best table in the house, and provided her with some crayons and an activity mat (ie: coloring book), and asked her to place her order. She did, very politely, I might add, and then set to work coloring, as she always does when out to dinner!

While she colored, chef mommy prepared dinner for her customer. I made a quick cheese sauce, poured it over our leftover penne pasta, and popped that into the oven. The challenge came with the request for mandarin oranges, but I even had a plan for those. I have naval oranges in the house, and whenever I supreme cut oranges, little miss refers to them as mandarin oranges. So once the mac & cheese went into the oven, I set to work carefully segmenting the oranges and removing all rind and pith. Instant mandarin oranges.

Oranges done, customer almost done her coloring, it was time to take the mac & cheese out of the oven. If I had wanted to provide truly authentic Red Robin mac & cheese, I would have had to make a box, so I know this was a slight departure from the plan, but I think that since it was in the spirit of the game and, well, that it is actually healthier than the boxed stuff, that I get a pass on this one...

To complete the deal, I actually found a kids' cup from our last trip to Red Robin and served little miss's milk in it, complete with straw. She loved it. And when our neighbor outside asked her what she had for dinner, she responded with "Red Robin!" Score one for some quick creative thinking!


  1. There ya go! You're such a creative mama! When did lil miss's hair get so dark??

  2. Cute idea! I might borrow your lunch menu for my munchkins for today. :)

  3. Very cute! Out little guy typically orders a corndog with the mandarin oranges on the side. I think he'd order mac & cheese more often if we mentioned it as an option but since he has an issue with dairy we try to steer clear of it. I love mac and cheese and yours looks yummy!


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