Frank Mulligan: Recipes for disaster?

Frank Mulligan

Talk turned to recipes the other day after a colleague whipped up a chili-cheese dip that quickly disappeared after it was released unprotected into the newsroom.

At first I felt unqualified to comment.

“Is Hamburger Helper considered a recipe?” I asked.

I was assured that it was indeed a recipe, but one I couldn’t claim as my own, especially when I regularly have to refer to the directions on the box.

I persisted in trying to participate in the conversation, though:

“How about ‘Shake ’N Bake’ chicken? I’ve done both bone-in and boneless varieties - there’s a significant difference in cooking time, you know.”

The lack of response (you could hear crickets) indicated this was clearly a subject where my input was not going to be regarded seriously, like my views on art history, good restaurants, or nice places to stay while traveling in Europe.

It occurred to me, though, that over the years as a single parent bringing up two boys I have developed certain recipe-like solutions to serving up an adequate meal. I mean, the boys both survived to reach adulthood and all.

Here’s just a few:

Forage surprise


  • A refrigerator
  • Leftover stuff in the refrigerator


Open refrigerator door, stick head within and begin foraging for leftovers that still may be edible. Discard aluminum foil-wrapped meats when the animal of origin can no longer be ascertained with absolute certainty. This procedure pretty much clears an unimpeded path to the box of leftover pizza.

Take out box of leftover pizza.

Microwave leftover pizza after removing from box.

Serve with orange juice to round out nutritional content.

Roast something


  • Meat big enough to roast for 90 minutes at 400F.
  • Potatoes


Place meat big enough to roast for 90 minutes at 400F into roasting pan.

Add potatoes to roasting pan.

Place roasting pan into oven set at 400F.

Go away for 90 minutes.

Come back.

Serve with orange juice to round out nutritional content.

Take-out delight


  • Phone
  • Menu
  • Car (optional)


Call pizza place.

Order pizza.

Use car to get pizza or have the pizza delivered. (That’s why the car’s optional.)

Serve with orange juice to round out nutritional content.

Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham, Mass., office, and can be reached at