Wilted Garlic Spinach

Original Recipe found in some magazine like Taste of Home from 2002.
I love cooked spinach, but there are no other Popeyes in my family.  Still, even if they only ate a little of this, they'd get some health benefits from the green Super Food.  Everyone ate this except *J*, who whined and procrastinated and wouldn't even take a miniscule bite.  Eventually, he decided he'd give it a shot - and decided it was good.  Maybe not great, but after that first taste, he ate the rest with no negative commentary or delay.
I think the kids decided it was OK because any spinach flavor is masked by extreme garlickness and the saltiness from the soy sauce.  Cut back on the garlic if you want something a little less powerful.
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons broth
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound fresh spinach [I used a 9 oz. bag]
(1) In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, broth, soy sauce, and sesame oil until smooth.
(2) In a medium or large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
(3) Saute garlic for 1 minute.  Do not let it brown.
(4) Add broth mixture to skillet.  Cook, stirring often, until slightly thickened.
(5) Add spinach.  Cook and stir until spinach is just wilted and coated with sauce (approximately 2-3 minutes).
Kid Participation: None.

PB&J Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Original Recipe HERE
Are these true cookies?  I'd argue that they're not.  However, they are super easy to make, pretty healthy, and can be passed off as treats to your kids.  A great treat to make on snow days or neverending weekends or times that you think the siblings are going to rip each other to shreds if you don't distract and/or separate them.
I accidentally doubled the oats, so I threw in another banana and extra peanut butter.  My proportions weren't exactly what the recipe called for, but they still turned out fine.  I think it would be tough to mess these up.  I got about 25 cookies from that batch, so following the original measurements would yield less than that.
2 medium, ripe bananas
1 cup uncooked oats
2 Tablespoons peanut butter [I used creamy]
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.
(2) Mash bananas thoroughly.
(3) Add peanut butter to bananas; stir until well combined.
(4) Add oats; stir until well combined.
(5) Place tablespoon-sized portions of dough onto baking sheet (I used a mini ice cream scoop).  They barely spread, so spacing isn't important.
(6) Make a hollow or indent in the top of each cookie.
(7) Bake 15 minutes, or until golden.
(8) Remove cookies to cooling rack.  Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of jelly onto each.
Kid Participation: Just about everything except operating the oven.


Meatball & Pasta Soup

Original Recipe HERE
The original recipe called for premade, cheese-filled tortellini.  I wasn't in the mood for adding something additional to my kids' bowls that would've required, so I went with doesn't-even-need-to-be-chewed orzo (ditalini would work, too).  I'm sure the stuffed pasta would've made it heartier and added more flavor, though.

I doubled the amount of meatballs, and the flexibility in broth and water amounts are purely for ease of cooking and personal preference.

Also, the meatballs were tasty - but not amazing.  If you have a favorite meatball recipe, it could be substituted here.  I understand cooking them in the soup pot so additional flavor is added, but if you're feeling lazy, thawed precooked balls should work just fine (especially if still browned a bit).  More salt, pepper, or other seasoning would likely be needed to compensate, but that would cut out the bulk of the work involved in making this and turn it into an easy, fast dinner.  In which case I'd do a stuffed pasta...because...it seems like I should.
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
2 to 3 cloves garlic, pressed
salt & pepper
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4 to 6 cups broth
2 to 3 cups water
3 to 4 cups baby spinach, loosely packed [I used 10 oz frozen, thawed]
pasta [I used orzo]

(1) In a medium bowl, combine beef, Parmesan, egg, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Mix until just combined.
(2) Form meat into 1" meatballs.  Set aside.
(3) Begin boiling water for pasta if cooking separately.  Cook pasta according to directions.
(3) In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add meatballs.  Cook, turning often, until browned (3 to 4 minutes).  Remove from pot.
(4) Add carrots, celery, and onion to pot.  Cook, stirring, until just softened.
(5) Add broth and water.  Bring to a boil.
(6) Return meatballs to pot (and add pasta if cooking in soup).  Simmer until meatballs are just cooked through (2 to 3 minute).
(7) Add spinach; simmer until wilted.
(8) Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with additional Parmesan.

Kid Participation: None.

Baked Garlic Green Beans

Original Recipe in Taste of Home magazine (I think)
This was an easy side dish that could be mostly prepared ahead of time, just needing to add the topping to the pre-sauced beans.  Everyone except *J* ate at least two portions, and though I'd doubled the original recipe, the entire batch was gone by the end of dinner.
I could taste the vinegar in the final product, so I decreased the amount slightly below.  Also, the bread crumbs didn't toast much and were slightly mushy - maybe panko would hold up better.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoon dried minced onion
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups frozen cut green beans, thawed
2 Tablespoons dry bread crumbs or panko
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons butter, melted
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a medium casserole dish.
(2) In medium bowl, combine oil, vinegar, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Allow to sit so the garlic can infuse the oil.
(3) Add beans; toss to coat.
(4) Transfer beans to casserole dish.
(5) Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, and butter.  Sprinkle over beans.
(6) Bake, uncovered, 10-15 minutes (it took 15 for me) or until heated through.
Kid Participation: None.


Slow Cooker Lentil Chili

Original Recipe HERE
This almost filled my entire 5.5 quart (I think?) slow cooker.  Therefore we ate it for two dinners, plus we had leftovers for lunches.  Good thing everyone liked it, though it looked like it would've frozen well.  Or, instead, you could just cut the ingredients in half (or maybe just use less canned beans) and adjust cooking time slightly.  As long as the lentils are sufficiently softened, it's ready to go.  I served it with cheddar dill biscuits.
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeƱo, diced, seeds removed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced [I didn't have one]
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce
2 cans (15 oz each) diced tomatoes
1 bag (16 oz) brown lentils, rinsed
2 cans (15 oz each) small red beans, rinsed and drained [I used 1 black and 1 great northern]
2-3 tablespoons chili powder [I used 1-1/2 Tablespoons]
1 tablespoon cumin [I omitted]
1 to 2 Tablespoons seasoning of choice [I used a Cajun mix]
Salt and black pepper, to taste
"Mexican-style" toppings of choice
(1) Dice onion, peppers, and carrot.  Mince garlic.
(2) Remove seeds from jalapeno; finely chop.
(3) Add all ingredients to slow cooker.  Stir to combine.
(4) Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.
(5) If desired, blend a small portion of the soup to thicken it.
(6) Serve warm with sour cream, shredded cheese, diced green onion, etc.
Kid Participation: None.