Asparagus, Egg, & Bacon Salad

Original Recipe HERE

I knew this was a guaranteed failure for my kids before I even made it, but I figured I'd like it.  And I did.  Good thing I doubled some of the elements (new amounts reflected below) because it fed me the next day, too.

I made it ahead of time for dinner and combined everything except the bacon...saved that until the end.  I also had some extra tomatoes hanging around, so those went in.  I'd consider goat cheese or feta just to try it, but it's perfectly fine without it.  I served it room temperature the first time and scarfed it cold from the fridge the second, so temperature didn't matter (or my standards are very low.  See: I eat 90% of my meals standing up right now).

2 hard boiled eggs, peeled & sliced
2.5 to 3 cups chopped asparagus
4 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped & seeded
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

(1) Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add asparagus; cook 2 to 3 minutes until tender yet firm.
(2) Drain asparagus.  Run under cold water.  Set aside.
(3) In a small bowl, whisk together Dijon, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
(4) Toss the asparagus, egg, and tomato with dressing.  Top with bacon just before serving.

Kid Participation: None.


Quinoa Pilaf with Apples & Cranberries

Original Recipe HERE
I thought this was really good, though reactions from the rest of the family was split.  Since it was easy to make and held up well over several days, this will be a contender for something like Thanksgiving.  The apples, cranberry, and pecans give a autumnal vibe.
It made an insane amount of food: we ate it as a side for two dinners, plus it gave me several lunches.  Next time I'll cut the amount of quinoa in half (original amounts reflected below).
I don't often like nuts in any sort of recipe, but I'm glad I went against type and made the toasted pecans.  They added a nice balance to the other flavors.  I also added some finely-chopped sharp cheddar and gouda in the hopes that the addition of cheese would make the entire thing appeal to the kids.

1 cup white quinoa
1 & 1/2 cups red quinoa
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 one red onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 & 1/2 teaspoons Herbes De Provence [I used Tuscan blend]
1 teaspoon Salt
pepper to taste
2 Granny Smith apples, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup sharp cheddar, diced [optional]
1 cup gouda, diced [optional]

(1) Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh colander; drain.
(2) In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine quinoa and broth.  When it comes to a boil, cover and turn heat to medium low.  Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until quinoa is al dente.
(3) Meanwhile, in a saute pan over medium high, add olive oil, onions, celery and garlic; stir.
(4) Add herbs, salt and pepper. Saute until the onions and celery are translucent, about 8 minutes.
(5) Add apples and wine; simmer 5 minutes to cook out alcohol.(6) Pour onion mixture over cooked quinoa; stir until combined.
(7) Fold in cranberries, pecans, and cheese. Check for seasoning.
Kid Participation: None.

Baked Peanut Butter & Apple Oatmeal

Original Recipe HERE
Yet another oatmeal dish to add to the ever-growing list of easy oatmeal dinners.  I wasn't sure how well this would go over, since *J* isn't a peanut butter fan.  But he asked for seconds.
I doubled this recipe because there was no way an 8x8" portion would feed all of us.  The new amounts are shown below.
I could've added some chia seeds, ground flax seeds, or wheat germ...but I forgot.  There was a strong peanut butter taste, which might been due to my spontaneous addition of PB2.  I didn't mind it, since I love me some peanut butter.  But next time I'll leave out the powder or decrease the amount of peanut butter.  And how many more times can I say "peanut butter" in one post?  Peanut butter, peanut butter, peanut butter.
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 & 3/4 cups milk
1 & 3/4 cups water
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter, warmed
2 to 3 Tablespoons PB2 [optional]
3 large apples, diced [I peeled them]
(1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" baking dish.
(2) In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
(3) In a medium bowl, whisk eggs.  Add milk, applesauce, and vanilla extract; whisk thoroughly.
(5) Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture; stir to combine.
(6) Add peanut butter; mix.
(7) Add apples; stir. Pour mixture into prepared dish.
(8) Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until oatmeal is set.
Kid Participation:
* Measure & mix dry ingredients
* Measure & whisk wet ingredients
* Chop apple slices with a very dull knife


Ham & Cheddar Waffles

Original Recipe HERE
Winner winner, waffles for dinner.  I shook things up and stepped away from the standard or dessert-leaning waffles of days past.  These were a successful adventure.
I doubled this to feed four of us.  I got 12 square waffles using three rounds of batter (my iron makes four squares at a time).  It may not sound like enough, but the waffles were filling.

The original recipe says to, ideally, allow the batter to sit for 20-30 minutes before baking because the waffles will be fluffier.  I did have the time, so I waited.  I have nothing to compare the final product to, but the waffles weren't dense or heavy, so maybe they were the proper amount of fluffy?

Being waffles, my kids wanted to use maple syrup with them.  I was fine without it, but they tasted fine either way.  The sweetness paired well with the cheese and ham...kind of like a McGriddle (not that I would have any familiarity with how a McGriddle tastes...).
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard [I used ground mustard]
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese [do not use pre-shredded]
1/2 cup finely chopped deli ham
1 heaping tablespoon chopped chives or thinly sliced green onions [I used dried minced onions]
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
(1) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and dry mustard.
(2) Add cheese, ham, and chives (or onions) and lightly toss.
(3) In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, oil, and egg.
(4) Add wet ingredients to dry; stir until everything is just incorporated.
(5) Preheat waffle iron.  Spray with non-stick spray.
(6) Ladle batter into iron.  Cook according to iron's instructions to achieve lightly golden waffles.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk dry ingredients
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Stir all ingredients togehter
* Experiment with dipping and drizzling options

Broccoli & Cheese Tots

Original Recipe HERE

Making vegetables dippable and combining them with cheese are my go-to ways of getting the kids to eat them (though I know I'm lucky that the boys are usually willing to at least taste something new, and I can usually count on *N* to eat at least a whole serving).  These tots do both.  The flavor wasn't anything amazing, but they served their purpose.

I used fresh broccoli and didn't measure; I chopped up just under a head-and-a-half.  I also eyeballed the amount of onion and cheese.  They turned out fine, though when I portioned them onto the baking sheet (using a small cookie scoop), I was worried they weren't going to hold together and thought I should've used more egg whites.  The kids dipped them in ketchup or barbecue sauce, and the entire batch of 24 was eaten.  Success.
2 to 2 & 1/2 cups (12 oz) broccoli florets
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion [I used regular onion]
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
salt & pepper
(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil, or grease it.
(2) Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add broccoli; cook for 2 minutes.
(3) Add chopped onions to water (if not using green onion); cook another minute.
(4) Drain and rinse under cold water.  Dry with a dish towel.
(5) Finely chop broccoli and onions.  Transfer to a large bowl.
(6) Add all other ingredients to broccoli.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
(7) Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking sheet.  Flatten slightly.
(8) Bake tots for 16-18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, or until golden.

Kid Participation:
* Stir together all ingredients
* Spoon broccoli "dough" onto baking sheet


Ritz-Topped Vegetable Casserole

Original Recipe HERE
The amount of mayonnaise in this recipe made me cringe, but I thought it was worth trying because the bulk of the dish was straight-up vegetables.  And I'm not above smothering veggies in sauces, condiments, whathaveyou in order to get my kids to eat them...as I pretend that I'm not negating their health benefits by doing so.
I couldn't find American cheese in a block, so I diced up several of the individually-wrapped slices.  The pieces stuck together, so I was worried that it would mean pockets of cheese in the finished product instead of a uniform distribution.  Whatever ended up happening with the cheese wasn't an issue, but I would take more time to do it properly.
Next time, I will mix the melted butter with the crushed crackers before spreading them over the top.  The coverage was uneven doing it as the original recipe instructed.  Also, I bet this would be even better with the French's fried onions on top (because most things in this world would be).
Each kid asked for multiple rounds of this and told me to make it again.  It was super easy, and the original post said that it can be made up to a day ahead.  I'm sure that this convenient meal will be repeated.  Also, I learned that my kids like lima beans (from the frozen veggie medley)...they've been lucky to be spared the dreaded legume thus far, but it turns out it was for naught.
1/4 cup salted butter, divided
1 cup finely-chopped celery
1/2 to 1 cup finely-chopped yellow onion
2 to 3 cloves finely-chopped garlic
1 bag (32 oz) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup (or 4 oz) finely diced American cheese
¾ cup mayonnaise [I used 2/3 cup mayo and the rest Ranch dressing]
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
(2) In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt half of the butter over medium heat.
(3) Saute celery and onion until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add garlic toward the end.  Remove from the heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
(4) Add mixed vegetables, corn, American cheese, mayonnaise, and Ranch (if using) to the bowl.  Combine thoroughly.
(5) Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.
(6) In a small bowl, mix together crushed Ritz and melted butter.
(7) Evenly sprinkle the crushed Ritz over the top of the casserole.
(9) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
Kid Participation:
* Mix vegetables and sauce
* Measure mayo and Ranch
* Crush Ritz
* Sprinkle Ritz


Garlic & Parmesan Breadsticks

Original Recipe HERE

These have gotten rave reviews every time I've made them.  I dare say they're addicting.
The first time I made this, I followed the original recipe's instructions about melting butter in the pan and rolling the dough in it before cooking.  I was pressed for time the second time I made them, so I just painted the baking sheets with melted butter, put the strips of dough on them, and generously painted with more butter before sprinkling Parmesan with a heavy hand.  They were just as good - maybe even a little better.  The flavor wasn't as prevalent, but they cooked a little faster, and the crispty-outside-to-soft-center ratio was more balanced.

2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 & 1/2 cups water
3 & 1/2 to 4 cups flour [I used almost 4 cups]
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder, or to taste
2 teaspoons oregano, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup butter, melted
Parmesan cheese

(1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, yeast, and sugar.
(2) Once yeast is bubbly, add 2 cups of flour.  Mix with dough hook until all flour is combined.
(3) Sprinkle in remaining flour, salt, garlic powder, and oregano.  Mix until dough is no longer sticky.
(4) Cover bowl with a towel.  Let dough rise at least 20 minutes (I've gone over an hour).
(5) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease baking sheet(s) with about 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
(6) On a floured surface, roll dough into a rectangle approximately 1/2" thick.
(7) Use a pizza cutter to cut strips into sizes that will fit onto your baking sheets.
(8) Melt remaining butter in microwave.
(9) Either dip strips in butter and coat with Parmesan or lay them on baking sheets and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan.
(10) Bake 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown on top.

Kid Participation:
* Roll out dough
* Dip or paint strips
* Twist strips if doing so (careful that they don't stretch them too much when doing so)