10.26.2014

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.

Ingredients
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

Directions
(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)
 

Buttermilk Cornbread

Original Recipe HERE

Cornbread is supposed to be at its best when cooked in cast iron.  So far, this is the best cornbread I've made.  I think the buttermilk is key to keeping it so moist.
 
Ingredients
1/2 cup (one stick) butter
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1-1/2 cups corn kernels, optional [I used frozen]
 
Directions
(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Put 12" cast iron skillet in the oven during the preheating phase.
(2) Melt butter in the microwave.
(3) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk.
(4) Add sugar to egg mixture; whisk until dissolved.
(5) Add butter to egg mixture; whisk well to avoid butter cooling into solids.
(6) In a small bowl, sift together baking soda, cornmeal, flour, and salt.
(7) Stir dry ingredients into wet until well blended.
(8) Gently fold corn into batter if using.
(9) Remove skillet from oven.  Melt approximately one tablespoon of butter in it, swirling to coat entire bottom and halfway up the sides.
(10) Pour batter into skillet.  Return to oven; bake 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
(11) Allow cornbread to cool for several minutes in the skillet before slicing.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Sift dry ingredients
* Stir it all together (gently, please!)

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.

UPDATE: I made these again, this time tossing them with about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  The end result was still good, but since the carrots sweeten up on their own during roasting, I don't think the brown sugar made much of a difference.

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.