Toddlers Eat the Darnedest Things
Cooking for a family with a toddler creates a host of issues. I'm lucky that my kiddo(affectionately known as the Goat) will, and does, eat just about anything. Seriously - curry, pickles, dog food, anything. However, some kids, and adults, have strange food allergies and sensitivities. Most toddlers are notoriously fickle, so you need recipes you can easily change and adapt to their insane and infuriating whims, or at least make it so they can eat around the offending food. But even more than that is the issue of time.
By time I get the Goat and get home from work, I have 2 hours to cook and eat dinner (and the Goat demand dinner no later than 6:15), get baths, play, and go to bed. I can't be standing in the kitchen for an hour slinging every pot I own to make a meal when she darn well may just refuse to eat it and demand yogurt. Plus I want to make the most of our time. I also HATE to eat the same boring things over and over.
Turns out, my friends with kids are hitting the same wall. I use frozen and fresh veg. I also take the shortcut of things like pre-cooked rice (leftover or purchased) and taco seasoning packs. Feel free to make fresh, use leftover or buy the organic versions. These are still good meals, made fresh and better than hamburger helper and Kraft dinner. So there.
So, here's a few of our favorites, adjusted to some friends with specific allergies and preferences (no pork, chicken, tomatoes or nuts. Prefers no avocado, broccoli, squash, zucchini.)If any of these were used they are easily subbed or omitted. All measurements are approximate since I cook on the fly with what I have. Besides, measuring cups? Ain't nobody got time for that.
Gnocchi with Corn and Spinach
2 small ears of fresh sweet corn or 1 bag frozen whole kernel corn
1 box shelf-stable potato gnocchi
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup -ish milk
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp each salt and dried basil or oregano
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 bundle or bag torn fresh spinach (or arugula)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Crushed red pepper (optional)
In a heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven cook gnocchi according to package directions, adding corn the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Drain gnocchi and corn kernels, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Do not rinse.
While gnocchi drains, melt butter in pot, add herbs and garlic. Cook for a minute, add milk and cheese.
Return cooked pasta and corn to pot. Stir in spinach. Serve in bowls. Sprinkle with additional salt, pepper, dried herb, cheese and crushed red pepper.
Options: Sub carrots for corn. Add frozen green peas at the end. Use just olive oil instead of milk and cheese. Add a dash of lemon juice at the end to brighten it up. Add meat. Use what you have!
Stuffed Bell Peppers (ENDLESSLY Adaptable. Great for leftover meat, rice, veg)
1/2 lb lean ground turkey breast or beef or soy ground
1 chopped onion
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pack Italian seasoning
1 package pre cooked rice (any type you like – I like brown)
3-4 bell peppers, halved and seeds removed, The Goat likes the yellow ones
1 can of canellini beans, drained & rinsed
½ cup of frozen or fresh corn, zuchinni or carrots
1 (15 -16 ounce) jar of marinara or pizza sauce
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil and roast in a baking dish about 10 minutes to soften. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them.
* you can do this the day before
Saute onions till clear, add turkey (or beef) and cook through. Toss in seasoning. Then add cooked rice, beans and veg. Stir. Add sauce. Stir.
Spoon the mix into each half of the bell peppers in the baking dish. Cook the peppers for another 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are cooked all the way thru.
Before removing from the oven sprinkle the tops of each pepper with cheese.
Remove from the oven, eat.
Options: Southwest style - meat, onions, taco seasoning, rice or quinoa, black beans, corn, salsa (I like mango or tomatilla salsa), cheddar. Top with sour cream, avocado. Vegan -brown rice, black beans (or quinoa), peach mango salsa, throw in some zucchini, squash, carrots, mushrooms etc that have been very finely chopped, top with soy cheese.
Chorizo and Sweet Potato Tacos
1 pack Chorizo, casing removed (pork or beef)
1 small sweet potato, cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 c chopped yellow onion
2 T tomato paste (optional)
Taco Seasoning to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
8-12 small (4″) corn tortillas (soft or hard)
Chopped onion, cilantro, sour cream, cheese for garnish (optional)
Salsa or pico de gallo (optional)
In a large skillet or fry pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and add the garlic & onions. Cook until just slightly translucent. Add Chorizo and heat. Add the chopped sweet potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, until they start to soften slightly and just begin to brown.
Add tomato paste(if using) and seasonings, and fold gently into the potatoes & onions. Add a little water if too dry. Cook the until completely browned and the sweet potatoes are tender. Check for seasoning and adjust according to taste with salt & pepper.
Heat the tortillas on a griddle, skillet or oven. (or microwave, ahem.)
Make tacos! Grab a couple of tortillas and pile in the mixture. Top with stuff!
Options: Sub black bean for meat or potato. Sub small diced red potato (Put the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, add 1/2 cup water and season with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 5 minutes before adding to pan)
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Say what you will about Southern Cooking. It gets a bad wrap. Some people think we fry everything. But come on, how else could someone eat okra?
When we aren't bust frying, we "simma". You could use a crock pot, but that is just one more thing in the house, isn't it? Your great great grandma got by with a stock pot. Spend your money on you, not cooking utensils.
This meal is cheap, delicious and easy. And it has ham, nothing wrong with that.
1 lb snap beans, snapped
8 small-med red potatoes
Toss it all in a big ol' pot. Cover with water and salt well. Bring to a boil then simmer on low, covered till the taters are soft. Usually 1-3 hours.
Pull out the hamhock and trim the meat off. Serve with beans and potatoes. This is great sandwich meat the day after too.
Country for real.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
We needed a change. Fancy Kroger had lamb on sale. So lamb burgers just made sense. With yogurt dressing, they are light and flavorful. Great for summer. Adjust the spices and such to your taste. Try coriander or curry. Chop in peppers. Add more garlic. Make it your own.
1 lb ground lamb (of beef, turkey, etc)1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground cardamon
1 tbl parsley
1 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
3 tbl minced garlic
1 large white onion, sliced
1 lemon (juice and zest)
5 oz greek yogurt
10-15 leaves mint, torn
Mix lamb, cumin, cardamon, parsley, cayenne, garlic and 1 tsp salt. Form small, flat patties. Cook over medium heat in a large skillet till done. Set aside, squeeze lemon over burgers. Turn heat to med-low. Add onion to pan, salt and cook till brown. Stir together yogurt, zest, mint and some salt. Serve burgers on pita or roll with yogurt and onions.
As a side, chop 1 cucumber. Add 1/2 pint cherry or plum tomatoes (or chop whatever tomato you have), 2 tbl white wine vinegar, fresh black pepper and some feta. Live the dream.
A spoonful of some earthy Israeli couscous with mushrooms wouldn't kill you either.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Shrimp and Plum Kabobs.
Perfect for small fresh plums that aren't sweet enough for snacking. And you look pretty fancy for something so simple.
2 tbl veg oil
1 tbl sesame oil
2 tbl thai basil or cilantro, chopped finely
zest of 1/2 a lime
dash or two soy sauce
red pepper flakes to taste
1 dz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 plums, pitted and peeled, cut in half, then half, then half
Mix first 6. Toss with shrimp and plums. Let marinade for 30-60 minutes. Cram on a kebob. Salt and pepper to taste. Grill.
You can make extra marinade and set it aside. Add lime juice and serve over a salad. You are welcome.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I got super tired of baked chicken. I wanted to make chicken cutlets, but I didn't have a mallet or the inclination to bother. Slice the chicken breast in half thinkness and it'll do. I used cream because it was what I had. Buttermilk or egg would work too. Ditto on the herbs. Use what you got. Mix them in the breadcrumbs. Salt and pepper the cream.
Flat Chested Chicken
2 chicken breasts, sliced in half thickness
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup thin sliced fresh herbs ( basil, thyme, oregano)
Salt and Pepper
1 tablespoon garlic
2/3 c. white wine
Pat the chicken dry. Dredge in the flour and shake. Dip in the cream, then roll in crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Cook till done. put chicken aside and cover lightly with foil. Turn heat down to medium. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add wine and scrap bits off the bottom of the pan as you stir. Cook till reduced. Serve over chicken.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tonight is a super easy, fast, and cheap meal. Without cheats!
Local chicken sausage.
Brown 1 chopped onion in olive oil. Add sausage, brown. Toss in a little white wine. Put a lid on it. Cook till done.
Serve with a spinach salad and some bread.
You could get fancy and chop the bread, toss it in olive oil, toast it and serve it as croutons.
1/2 c. olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 tbl rosemary
1 tbl dijon mustard
salt and pepper
3 tbl parmesan cheese (optional)
Put everything but the oil in the blender. Blend well. Drizzle in oil on low setting till done.
Serve over fresh spinach with chopped mushrooms, feta and red onion.
I don't know how to make this any easier people. A whole meal in 30 minutes or less. From scratch and local. Quit your whining.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I love pot roast. My husband loves it more. I often toss in what ever I have on hand. Throw in italian dressing, fish sauce, ginger, celery, grill seasoning. It's only cooking.
Easy Pot Roast
Serves an army
2.5 lb chuck roast, cut into 4 or five pieces
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. red wine
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
3 tbl dijon mustard
3 tsp red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tbl rosemary
1 tbl thyme
1/2 c. beef broth
2 onions, yellow or white, quartered
4 small white potatoes, halved
6-8 small carrots, trimmed
Mix ingredients garlic through thyme. Place in pot with roast. Marinate in fridge over night turning a few times. Heat oven to 300. Take roast out and set aside. Heat olive oil in pan on stove top. Brown roast. Add beef broth and veggies. Put in oven. Cook with lid on till done. 1-2 hours.
Save leftovers for a sandwich or tacos. If there are any leftovers.