Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

Original Recipe HERE

I was looking to use up the rest of a 5-pound bag of potatoes, and *N* loves fries (as do her mother and father...).  They turned out better than expected, since I've never had good luck with homemade fries.  They were a little more heavily crisped (OK, burned) than I'd have liked, but I think I cut the potato wedges too thick (because I didn't have the small potatoes the original recipe asked for).  Still, I was surprised at how well they reheated in the toaster oven the next day - maybe the butter kept them from drying out too much?  I'll be trying these again.

Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick or 1/2 ounce) butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon lemon extract [since I didn't have lemon peel]
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2-3 pounds unpeeled white-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges

1) Position one rack in top third of oven and one rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425°F.
2) Spray a large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray.
3) Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon extract, and salt in large bowl.
4) Put potato wedges in a large resealable container, sprinkle with pepper, and add mustard dressing.  Shake until wedges are well coated.
5) Spread potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet, leaving excess mustard mixture behind in bowl.
6) Roast potatoes on lower rack for 20 minutes. Move baking sheet to upper rack and roast until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes longer.
7) Optional: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand on baking sheets at room temperature. Rewarm potatoes in 425°F oven 10 minutes.

Notes: I'll use less lemon extract next time to see if more mustard taste comes through (though the lemon was not overpowering).  I'll use smaller potatoes as well to make sure the insides of the wedges are tender before the outside gets too browned.  Also, I did the rewarming trick because I made these during *J*'s late afternoon nap.  I'll (try to) plan to make them so they're timed with the rest of dinner.
Kid Participation:
* Whisking mustard dressing.
* Shaking the container with potatoes and mustard dressing (unless, like my child, they get the giggles repeatedly and collapse on the floor, dropping the container that somehow, miraculously, stayed closed each time until I came to my senses and took it away).


Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Original Recipe HERE

I had some flirting-with-rotten bananas that were asking to be used (because throwing them in the garbage would stink up my kitchen).  I'd been wanting to try this recipe, so...yeah.  Easy solution.  These turned out really well.  They had a light, almost muffin-y texture to them that would make it really easy to justify them as a breakfast food - because doesn't everyone usually put a few chocolate chips in their morning oatmeal anyway?  No?  Really?  You should.

The original recipe says that it makes 12 servings.  I got 25 good-sized cookies out of this, so maybe a serving = 2 cookies?  If that's the case, I need to talk to them about their math.  Because no serving of cookies should include only two.

Husband brought these to work so I wouldn't eat them all, and he was asked for the recipe.  That affirms that they were just as good as I thought they were.

¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-½ cups flour
1-¾ cups oats [I used quick cook]
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 to 3 whole, very ripe bananas
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2) Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
3) In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Stir in chocolate chips so they're coated with flour mixture.
4) Add flour mixture to wet ingredients [I used the hand mixer to expedite this].  Add bananas and stir [hand mixer, again] until combined.
5) Drop large balls of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them.
6) Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies start to turn slightly brown at the edges.  They will still be soft in the middle; immediately remove from baking sheets and put on a cooling rack.

Notes: I think chopped nuts could be a good add-in.  I'm storing them uncovered - since they're so moist they might get too chewy (for lack of a better word...the first one that came to mind was "humid," though that doesn't make sense).  Though I liked them just the way they were, next time I'll try substituting half the white sugar with brown to see if I can get them more cookie-ish.

Update: Made again but with 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar as well as 1 cup white flour and 1/2 cup wheat flour.  I didn't notice much of a difference - just slightly more dense (less cake-like).

Kid Participation:
* Measure and mix dry ingredients.
* Mash bananas before adding to the dough.

Cheddar Biscuit Cups

Original Recipe HERE

I'm always on the lookout for recipes for biscuits, breads, cornbreads, and the like...but only if they're easy and quick.  I don't always remember to plan ahead so dough can rise, and I often have something else in the oven that prevents a long baking process.  These "cheddar muffins" (so dubbed by *N*) fit the bill: a good combination of a crusty outside with a chewy inside.  The measurements listed here are doubled from the original since I wanted leftovers for the following night (and they reheated nicely in the toaster oven).

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1-2 cups shredded cheese [I used a Mexican blend and some sharp cheddar]
1 cup milk [I used a combination of 2% and skim]
4 tablespoon mayonnaise
1) Preheat oven to 425 and grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
2) Whisk flour, baking powder, & salt together.
3) Add cheese to the flour mixture.
4) Stir milk and mayonnaise into the mixture, just until moistened.
5) Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
6) Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until biscuit tops are golden brown.

Notes: A success; they turned out exactly as I expected.  Next time I'll use more sharp cheese to have a more pronounced flavor.  Probably throw in some Italian seasoning, garlic powder, or dill as well.

Update: I made these again, adding a few generous shakes of both garlic powder and dill.  Even tastier than before.

Kid Participation:
* Measure and whisk dry ingredients.
* Add (child-size) handfuls of cheese (because kids like to use their hands more than measuring cups).
* Stir all ingredients together.

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad

Original Recipe HERE

Easy and somewhat nutritious. Reminded me that I need a more efficient chopping device than my knife / cutting board / two hands combo, though. It was good served warm and even better cold. This made enough to feed two adults and one child for dinner plus at least two lunches the next day. Since Husband brought leftovers to work to signal his approval, this is going in the "make again" file.

1 box rotini pasta
2 chicken breasts, cut into large bite-size pieces [shears are helpful for this]
1 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing, divided [I used Newman's]
1 handful of baby carrots
1 green pepper, cored & seeds removed
1 zucchini, peeled
1/2 white onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic, or to taste
dried basil [didn't have fresh]
dried parsley [didn't have fresh]
salt & pepper
cheese [optional; I used it]

1) Cook pasta noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to serving bowl with 1/2 cup of dressing.
2) Put chicken in medium skillet with other 1/2 cup of dressing. Saute 5 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.
3) Meanwhile, chop carrots, green pepper, onion, and zucchini into bite-size pieces.
4) Add veggies, basil, parsley, and minced garlic into the skillet with the chicken. Add 1/2 – 3/4 cups of water.
5) Cover and let steam for 4-5 minutes, or until zucchini becomes translucent [don't let veggies become too soft].
6) Toss chicken and veggies with pasta and dressing [I didn't know whether to include the liquid from the sauce pan, so I didn't, and it was fine]. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or refrigerate at least 2 hours.
7) Optional: serve with cheese.

Notes: I liked it with feta; *N* preferred grated parmesan.  It probably would be good with any cubed cheese - I love smoked gouda, so I may try that next time.  And I may use toasted pine nuts to add some crunch.

Kid Participation:
* Shake spices into skillet.
* Stir all ingredients together during final step.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Original Recipe HERE

Chicken dishes are a staple in my house (much to Husband's chagrin; I've been told, "Chicken...again?" when he asks over the phone what's for dinner). Ideally they're good for me, but I usually end up smothering or dipping them in a sauce that negates any inherent health benefits. This is one of those kinds of recipes. It starts out with plain baked chicken, but the topping adds a lot of (1) flavor, and (2) calories. I don't think there's a way to health-ify it, other than perhaps using reduced fat dressing and cheeses. Oh well. In the flavor versus health match-up, flavor always wins out.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
seasonings / spices for chicken [I used pepper & galic salt]
1/2 cup creamy Ranch dressing
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon jarred minced garlic
1/2 cup provolone cheese, divided [I couldn't find shredded, so I bought it sliced and diced it up pretty small. I also approximated the amount]
3 oz panko bread crumbs [approximate amount]

1) Season chicken & bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
2) While the chicken is baking, mix together ranch dressing, parmesan cheese, garlic, and 1/8 cup of provolone cheese.
3) Toast bread crumbs (enough to cover tops of the chicken breasts) and set them aside.  (Note: be careful not to burn them).
4) When chicken is cooked through, remove it from the oven and turn broiler on. Spread creamy cheese mixture on each piece of chicken. Sprinkle the remaining provolone cheese on top. Top that with the toasted bread crumbs.
5) Place chicken under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browned a little on top.

Notes: I halved the topping recipe for two chicken breasts, and it probably should've been cut in thirds instead.  Next time I'll try seasoning with dill as well.  I served it with Cheddar Biscuit Cups.

Kid Participation:
* Mix topping ingredients together.
* Sprinkle provolone and bread crumbs on top of cooked chicken.