10.14.2014

Buttery Roasted Carrots

Original Recipe HERE
 
My kids thought these were fantastic.  I thought they tasted fine, but I labeled them "fantastic" because of the sheer ease and relative healthiness involved.  A reliable side dish for the future.
 
The sweetness of the carrots came out nicely, and the butter flavor was strong but still pleasant.  I would experiment with additional seasonings, like garlic powder or paprika or brown sugar, just to have options.

Ingredients
1 & 1/2 pounds carrots [I used 6]
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
 
Directions
(1) Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
(2) Peel carrots.  Slice into 1/4" coins.
(3) Toss carrots with butter, salt, and pepper.
(4) Spread carrots in an even layer on the baking sheet.  Cover entire pan tightly with aluminum foil.
(5) Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove foil.
(6) Roast an additional 30 minutes or until carrots are lightly browned.  Stir several times during cooking.
 
Kid Participation: Only stirring and spreading the carrot mixture.

Meatball & Spaghetti Soup

Original Recipe HERE
 
After a three-day weekend spent doing nothing but feeding children (or so it felt like, but really was almost literally since there's an infant in the house), I had no idea what I was serving for dinner that night.  We came home from an activity at 6pm armed only with the inspiration of doing something with the Trader Joe's meatballs I'd bought the day before.  I had bookmarked this recipe and tried it on a whim since I needed it to be fast.

Every kid had more than one helping and asked me to make it again.  I thought it was a great addition to the "I'm so burned out on meal planning and cooking yet these little people keep demanding I provide sustenance for them" collection of easy and satisfying recipes.

I cut the liquid amount because I knew that any leftover pasta would absorb a lot overnight, and I'd add more later if needed.  I also threw in about half a cup of orzo at the last minute to bulk it up because I didn't have enough pasta, but it would be better to just make the entire thing with spaghetti.  I also added spinach to make it a wee bit healthier, and I chopped it small enough that the kids couldn't avoid eating at least a little.

Ingredients
4 cups broth
1 to 2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 onion, chopped small
3 to 4 Tablespoons tomato sauce [I used Prego]
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
frozen meatballs [I used one bag of Trader Joe's appetizer size]
8 oz spaghetti, broken into 2" pieces
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
grated Parmesan for serving [optional]

Directions
(1) In a large pot, bring broth, water, garlic, onion, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and basil to a boil.  Simmer 5 minutes or until onions are tender.
(2) Add meatballs.  Cook 3 minutes.
(3) Add spaghetti.  Cook until al dente.
(4) Add spinach.  Cook 2-3 minutes or until wilted.  Serve with Parmesan.

Kid Participation: None except eating, which they did more than their fair share of.

9.13.2014

Lime Creamsicles

Original Recipe HERE
 
These were great popsicles...and there isn't anything besides that to say.  They were both tart and sweet - actually, almost too sweet.  Next time I will add a few more ounces of regular milk and cut some of the condensed milk.
 
Ingredients
1-2/3 cups nonfat milk [I used 1%]
1/2 cup fresh lime juice [I used 5 limes]
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
 
Directions
(1) Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.
(2) Pour into popsicle molds; freeze 6-8 hours or until solid.
 
Kid Participation:
* Whisk ingredients
* Pour into molds (if you don't mind half of it ending up on the counter)

Zucchini, Corn, & Cheddar Pancakes

Original Recipe HERE

*J* was excited to hear we were having pancakes for dinner.  That is, until he saw the green-tinged batter and learned there were vegetables in them.  He gave me the usual, "Yuck, I'm not going to eat them."  The boy ate his words - and the pancakes - in the end.  In fact, everyone thought they were great.  A few were leftover, and they reheated well in the toaster oven the next day.

I made the batter, minus the flour, a few hours early, so they're also a good prepare-ahead meal.

I wasn't sure what kind of consistency to expect, especially since there was no mention of draining the zucchini.  It took a little practice to get them golden on the outside and firm enough on the inside that I knew the egg was cooked, but they still weren't traditionally pancake-y in any sense.  I made them small (so the middle would cook without the edges burning), so I got about 20.

The kids dipped them in ketchup, naturally.  I tried them with salsa and sour cream as the recipe suggested and liked them that way, though they were plenty flavorful on their own.

Ingredients
4 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for skillet
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cups grated zucchini [about one large zucchini]
1 cup corn [I used frozen]
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese [I used Colby]
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions
(1) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano
(2) Squeeze the zucchini to get some moisture out (don't dry it completely).
(3) Add zucchini, corn, and cheese to batter.  Stir until well combined.
(4) Add flour.  Stir until no dry flour is visible, making sure to scoop down to the bottom of the bowl.
(5) Heat a large skillet to medium heat.  Add a few tablespoons of oil; heat.
(6) Scoop batter in 1/4 cup amounts (I did less) onto the skillet.  Press into 4" diameter circles.
(7) Cook on each side 3-5 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Transfer pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate.  Repeat with remaining batter.
 
Kid Participation:
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Squeeze shredded zucchini
* Stir all ingredients

8.31.2014

Autumn Meatballs

Original Recipe HERE
 
I changed the name of this recipe (am I allowed to do that?) because I didn't make them in the crockpot, and I associate the dominant flavors of apple and cranberry with fall.  I got 17 meatballs out of this, if I'm remembering correctly.  I thought I'd be able to calculate that after dinner, but all the kids surprised me by eating a second helping, and I lost track.  So these were a success.
 
I added the breadcrumbs because I was worried there wasn't enough to bind them together.  I knew the egg would help with that, but I wasn't sure about the cheese.  Good thing I didn't put my confidence in the cheddar, since it melted completely, and a lot of it was left on the parchment paper.
 
I wasn't sure how to serve these...some sort of cranberry sauce would've been nice, but I didn't have fresh cranberries to make a simple stovetop concoction with.  So we defaulted to ketchup.  Don't judge.
 
Ingredients
1-1/3 lbs ground turkey
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs or panko
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled & shredded
1/2 to 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries
 
Directions
(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.
(2) In a medium bowl, mix together egg, salt, pepper, onion powder, and breadcrumbs.
(3) Stir in apple, cheddar, and cranberries.
(4) Add turkey.  Mix until well combined.
(5) Using 2 tablespoon portions, roll meat mixture into balls.  Place on parchment paper (spacing can be tight since they shrink slightly).
(6) Bake about 20 minutes or until cooked through.
 
Kid Participation: None.

8.30.2014

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, & Coconut "Lactation" Cookies

Original Recipe HERE
 
This recipe got good reviews from its original baker, and it had plenty of oats involved.  So I figured why not see if it could be converted into a lactation cookie by added the old standbys of flaxseed meal and brewer's yeast.  I'm happy to report that it, indeed, can.  Actually, I can't report on the lactation function yet (you'd think eating six cookies in one sitting would produce immediate results...), but they taste great and are the chewy consistency that I like.  Sometimes the brewer's yeast flavor can be detected in cookies, but not here.
 
I cut the original brown sugar amount by 1/4 cup because I didn't have enough.  With the chocolate chips and coconut, there's already plenty of sweetness being added, so I would try decreasing the white sugar to 3/4 cup, also - maybe even one sugar to 1/2 cup.
 
I got about 36 cookies using approximately 2 tablespoons of dough for each.  Next time I will use my smaller 1-tablespoon scoop and get more.  Also, because of a crying baby who didn't want to sleep, half of the dough sat on the counter longer than expected.  The last batch of cookies spread a lot.  I got the best results with the fresher (colder) dough on the silpat, so refrigerating it before scooping is suggested.
 
Ingredients
3 Tablespoons flaxseed meal
3 Tablespoons water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons brewer's yeast
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup chocolate chips [I used mini-morsels]
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
 
Directions
(1) In a small bowl, combine flaxseed meal and water.  Set aside to soak.
(2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
(3) In a small bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, salt, and brewer's yeast.
(4) In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
(5) Add eggs and vanilla to butter mixture; mix thoroughly.
(6) Add flaxseed meal to butter mixture; mix thoroughly.
(7) Add flour mixture to wet ingredients; mix until just combined.
(8) Add oats, chocolate chips, and coconut; mix until evenly distributed.
(9) Using 1-2 tablespoons each, roll dough into balls.  Space balls at least 2" apart on baking sheets.
(10) Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown but middles are still pale.
(11) Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes.  Remove to cooling racks.
 
Kid Participation:
* Mix flaxseed and water
* Measure dry ingredients
* Sift dry ingredients
* Measure wet ingredients
* Operate mixer
* Make dough balls (but not if you care about uniformity in size and whether your kid gets dough all over themselves from the elbows down)

8.24.2014

Parmesan Orzo with Vegetables

Original Recipe: from my godmother
 
I made this because my kids like pasta and Parmesan, both separately and together.  I thought the appearance of onions and mushrooms might cause problems but that they'd at least be willing to try it.  Willing they were, and then they all decided it needed barbecue sauce.  Hmm...  None really liked it, but I thought it was great.  I'll make it again when more adults are dining with us, and I'll try the water-and-white-wine method instead of the broth (it's the end of a summer spent with four kids together 24/7, so I really can't spare any wine for cooking until September).
 
It barely made one meal's worth, so I would double the recipe next time (that is, if I thought other people in the family would eat it).  Also, I think roasted asparagus or broccoli or sauteed spinach would be a good addition.
 
Ingredients
2 Tablespoons butter
1 small white onion, diced
1 cup chopped mushrooms [I used baby bella]
1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 cup water [I substituted chicken broth]
1/2 cup white wine [I substituted chicken broth]
garlic powder to taste [I used 1/4 teaspoon]
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 
Directions
1) In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
2) Add onions; cook until slightly tender.
3) Add mushrooms and orzo.  Cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes
4) Add liquid to saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
5) Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
6) Cook 7-10 minutes, or until orzo is al dente.
7) Remove from heat.  Stir in Parmesan.

Kid Participation: Add barbecue sauce...?