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Anytime I get to eat at home when I'M not cooking is a huge treat, not to mention extremely rare. So naturally, when my 11-year-old daughter, Pia, called me at work in the kitchen to inform me that dinner would be ready at 6:00, I was more than a bit excited. To sweeten the deal even further, she told me that afterward, my 6-year-old son, Malcolm, would be performing a puppet show. How much better could it get? I felt like queen for a day!

Now for dinner, which was no surprise, really, since Pia called back several times for help locating ingredients. She asked if we had basil and oregano, both of which grow in our backyard. When she wasn't quite sure what either looked like, she assured me that she knew the smells and would refer to Cooks' Ingredients.

Dinner was spaghetti with meat sauce, and it was absolutely delicious—a thick, meaty and flavorful ragù—and the pasta was cooked perfectly. (She needed a little help from her dad draining it.) A hit of pecorino cheese and crushed pepper flakes finished it off nicely. No matter that there were no green vegetables or salad.

The after-dinner puppet show was also a big hit. It was about four friends (finger puppets of a tiger, a horse, a bear and an abominable snowman) who went to a party and ate too much dessert. One friend, the bear, got a bellyache—a cautionary tale, or simply wishful thinking on Mal's part? Either way, it was adorable, and I savored every morsel.