My kids are in cahoots, trying to drive me insane.

Doubtful, you say? Then I present you with Exhibit A, the phrases I utter a thousand times a week – “Throw your dirty clothes in the laundry. … Bring your dish into the kitchen. … Pick that up, please.” I should record myself and play it on rewind. It would be so much less soul-crushing than having to repeat myself. All. The. Time.

I mean, toddlers are one thing: “Put your shoe on. Your shoe. We need shoes to go out! Shoe! Want Mommy to put your shoe on? OK, then you put your shoe on.” My children are 14 and 9 – I guess I thought I’d be past the constant cajoling by now.

And Exhibit B: They have ridiculously few food “likes” in common. Girl likes burgers, scallops, rice, carrots and cheese. Boy likes hot dogs, shrimp, potatoes, red peppers and milk. You get the picture. Their lists of likes might never intersect but for the Great Pizza and Macaroni & Cheese Compromise of 2013. (Look it up!)

But here’s what’s been happening lately, when I’m feeling too weak to fight the power and I ask them what they’d like for dinner. I expect to hear one of the two favorites, sure, but now Child A will say “pizza” and Child B will say “mac & cheese,” and they squabble, refusing consensus, as I am left pondering this new front in the dinner wars.

I like to cook, but feel too often I’m doing a bad job of feeding my children. I am a busy working mother, alone with the kids at night during the week while my husband works (coward). I really want to get more healthy, fresh food, and a greater variety of it, into the kids – and me.

So when “The All-New Fresh Food Fast: 200+ Incredibly Flavorful 5-ingredient, 15-minute Recipes,” from the editors of Cooking Light, came into my hands, it was my turn to plot.

“The All-New Fresh Food Fast: 200+ Incredibly Flavorful 5-ingredient, 15-minute Recipes,” from the editors of Cooking Light. Oxmoor House. $25.99.

I’d test this book. Cook from it. Completely disregard what my children like to eat and just present them with dinner. I told the kids I was reviewing a cookbook and that they had to taste what I made.

If after a reasonable attempt they didn’t like it, they could have cereal (girl likes it, boy doesn’t) or peanut butter and jelly (boy likes it, girl doesn’t).

You thought I was kidding? I am so not kidding.

“The All-New Fresh Food Fast” book includes recipes for everything from breakfasts to desserts. The recipes are up-to-date – has there been a cookbook published in 2018 that hasn’t included a recipe for shakshuka or a sheet-pan meal? – and “fast” is a serious criterion. So much so that some recipes call for shortcuts like frozen steam-and-mash potatoes to serve with seared pork chops, or rotisserie chicken in a chicken and shrimp jambalaya.

Some online reviewers seem to take issue with that. I don’t. For one thing, many of the recipes don’t call for any shortcuts. Also? Since I find weeknight dinners tricky, maybe a shortcut here and there would help me get something healthier on the table than might otherwise land there.

Anyway, the editors of Cooking Light are not likely to storm my kitchen and insist I use frozen this or microwavable that – if I want to substitute something, I can.

One sale on swordfish later, I had my first test: Sweet and Sour Swordfish and Pineapple Skewers. Tasty, simple and super quick. I made couscous and a salad to accompany the fish.

The kids grumbled a little – but they also ate. I wouldn’t say they gorged, but no one left the table hungry enough to hit the cereal or PB&J option.

I already have my eye on Mushroom and Swiss Chard Tartine, and Lemon-Honey Chicken Thighs. This is going to be great! It’ll be better for all of us. Healthier!

In fact, I may end up making it to a ripe old age, which I think I will spend splitting my time living with each of my grown children. I can almost hear it now:

“Mom, put your teeth in. Your teeth. We need teeth to go out! Teeth.”

Sally Tyrrell can be contacted at 791-6458 or:

[email protected]

Sweet and Sour Swordfish and Pineapple Skewers

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds skinless swordfish fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

3 cups prechopped fresh pineapple chunks

3 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

Cooking spray

3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Heat a grill pan over high. Thread the swordfish, pineapple and bell peppers alternately onto 8 (7-inch) wooden skewers, and coat with cooking spray.

Whisk together the chili sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Add the skewers to the pan; grill 3 minutes per side. Coat evenly with half of the chili sauce mixture.

Grill just until the fish is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Serve with the remaining chili sauce mixture.

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