It's a wonder my boys have not drifted away on a zephyr.
I try to feed them regularly. I try to whip up meals that tempt their tastebuds. They are a bit persnickety. The Pony, after all, once demanded to know who put the MEAT on his cheeseburger. And a preschool Genius clamored animatedly, in earshot of several disapproving grandmotherly customers, for me to BUY THE MASHED POTATOES IN A BOX, MOM, LIKE THE DAYCARE LADY, BECAUSE YOURS ARE NOT AS GOOD AS HERS.
So I'm always on the lookout for a simple, boy-palate-pleasing entree that is not too decadent. Like George Costanza would drape himself in velvet if it were socially acceptable, my boys would eat three squares a day consisting of their grandma's Rice Krispie Treats made with a 55-gallon drum of peanut butter, and coated with a hard chocolate topping an inch thick.
Several years ago, I stumbled upon a recipe for quick chicken-and-dumplings. A poor, overworked woman's chicken-and-dumplings. So simple. Six cans. Two cans chicken broth, two cans cream of chicken soup, and two cans chunk chicken breast. Add pepper to taste, and water if it's too thick. Boil up the liquids, and add a package of flour tortillas, cut into dumpling-sized strips. Boil for five minutes. Add chicken last. From start to finish, it takes about fifteen minutes. And tastes amazingly like childhood chicken-and-dumplings, if your grandma was not a very good cook.
I remember the key to this recipe. It's crucial. Just like the boy at the backstreet curio shop warned Randall Peltzer to never, EVER, feed the Mogwai after midnight, you must never, EVER, let the tortilla strips boil in the chicken liquid even one second over five minutes. Sure, those tortilla dumplings won't kill the biology teacher for taking a blood sample. But mayhem will still ensue. Mayhem, not like the Allstate insurance guy riding along on the side of your car, advising you to change lanes at an inopportune moment. Mayhem, like your delicious faux-dumplings sticking themselves to each other and the side of the pan like Velcro love monkeys. I understand the six-can rules. And obey them.
Last night, Hick requested the ol' faux chicken-and-dumplings for supper. Because he has to watch his carbs, I opted to make the six-can recipe with multi-grain wraps instead of flour tortillas. Hey! They work for him when we have tacos, or Blazin' Chunks chicken wraps. Why not in my trusty dumpling concoction?
I tossed everything together. Added pepper. Three times. Brought my cauldron to a roiling boil. Tossed in the cut-up multi-grain wraps. Stirred. Watched the clock. Took the pan off the heat. I removed from the oven the Flaky Layers biscuits that The Pony had requested. Because that boy tries to live by carbs alone. I spun my ladle like a baton. A bit of showmanship never hurt the plating of anybody's short-cut recipe. I dipped into the pan and discovered the broth to be as bereft of dumplings as Old Mother Hubbard's bone-cupboard was of her poor dog's calcium-rich, marrow-containing snack.
Apparently, multi-grain wraps are no substitute for flour tortillas.