Cauliflower "Fried Rice"

Original Recipe HERE
My kids like Chinese food, so I thought something that tasted like it could be a winner.  They could've eaten this stuff for their entire dinner and had nothing else.  There wasn't a single scoop left in the pan...so much for seeing how leftovers would hold up.  My mom was here, and she asked several times after she left for the recipe.
This recipe is good because the vegetables can be increased or substituted without affecting the base.  The cauliflower didn't crisp up as much as I'd expected.  I'd followed the original recipe's instructions to cover the skillet, and I think that didn't let enough moisture escape.  Also, I'd decrease the amount of soy sauce a bit.
1 medium head (about 24 oz) cauliflower
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 egg whites
1 large egg
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced fine
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
5 scallions, diced (white parts only)
2 to 3 Tablespoons soy sauce

(1) Remove the core of the cauliflower; chop into coarse florets.  Rinse and allow to dry completely (I helped this along with a colander and dish towel).
(2) Place half the cauliflower in a food processor.  Pulse until small and has the texture of rice or couscous.
(3) Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
(4) Combine egg and egg whites in a small bowl.
(5) Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil.
(6) Add eggs to skillet.  Cook, turning several times, until done.  Remove eggs; set aside.
(7) Add sesame oil to skillet.  Saute onions, scallions, peas, carrots, and garlic 3-4 minutes or until soft.
(8) Add cauliflower and soy sauce to skillet.  Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until cauliflower is slightly crispy but still tender.
(9) Add egg to skillet.  Stir until all ingredients are heated through and evenly combined.
Kid Participation: None.

Turkey Meatloaf Florentine

Original Recipe HERE
No one in my family screams for joy when I say we're having meatloaf, so I very rarely serve it.  I thought this turkey version might be a little lighter and different enough to win them over.  I even made it in the muffin tin so that we each had cute little individual ones...sometimes, with kids, presentation is everything.  They all said they liked it that night, but the next day they changed their tune.  I guess it's not a do-again, but I liked it enough to hang onto hope that someday they'll come around.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
2 cups baby spinach, packed and then chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey [my package was 1.3 pounds]
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs [I used Italian seasoned]
3/4 cup ketchup, divided
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt, pepper, and other seasonings, to taste
1 to 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
(2) In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion; saute 5 minutes or until tender.
(3) Add spinach; cover skillet and stir occasionally until wilted.
(4) In a large mixing bowl, combine turkey, egg, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup ketchup, Worcestershire, and seasonings.
(5) Add spinach mixture to turkey mixture.  Stir until well combined.
(6) Press turkey mixture into loaf pan.
(7) In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar.  Spread evenly over turkey mixture.
(8) Bake 45-55 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads at least 165 degrees.
(9) Allow meatloaf to sit and cool for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve.
Kid Participation: None.

Chickpea "Tots"

Original Recipe HERE
My kids thought these were great: many were consumed at dinner, and they were happy to hear there was leftover dough to make some more the following day.  Naturally, they were dipped in ketchup.  I wasn't blown away by them, but they were a somewhat nutritious side dish (or snack) that they had fun helping with, so I will make them again and see if it was a fluke or if this should be a reliable option.
2 cans (15 oz each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 large egg
1 garlic clove
1 cup Panko
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

(1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
(2) Add all ingredients to a food processor.  Process until it's a smooth and uniform dough; remove from processor.
(3) Take a small handful of dough at a time and roll it into a "snake" about 3/4" in diameter.  Cut into 1" pieces.  Flatten or round edges if desired.
(4) Grease a baking sheet or use a silpat or parchment.  Bake tots for 10 minutes on one side.  Turn them over; bake for an additional 5 minutes (or until golden and crispy).
Kid Participation: Shape tots into snakes.


Spinach, Mushroom, & Caramelized Onion Pasta

Original Recipe HERE

This mean was semi-approved by the kids.  They really liked the pasta and cheese sauce, which was not a surprise.  They didn't like the vegetables, which was also not a surprise.  I will save this for a meal when we have enough adults to consume and appreciate it.

Prepared as directed in the original recipe, the sauce never thickened and was very watery.  I would've liked it to cling to the pasta and vegetables more and pool at the bottom of my bowl less.  I changed the instructions, as listed below, to make the sauce separately.

Shredded mozzarella (or cheese of choice) might help everything stick together better.  Also, it might be good with freshly chopped tomatoes mixed in at the end (or canned petite diced tomatoes during cooking).  A bit of tomato paste in the sauce could be good, too.
8 to 12 oz pasta
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
6 oz package babys pinach leaves
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste
broth as needed
(1) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
(2) Add onions.  Cook, stirring frequently, 20-30 minutes or until onions are caramelized.  Add broth, 1 tablespoons at a time, as needed to avoid burning and sticking.
(3) Just before onions are done, add balsamic; stir.  Scrape up all bits from bottom of pan.  Remove onions and set aside.
(4) Begin preparing pasta according to package directions
(5) Meanwhile, heat oil in original pan over medium heat.  Add garlic; saute 1-2 minutes.
(6) Add mushrooms and a sprinkle of salt.  Cook about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have softened.
(7) Turn off heat.  Return onions to pan.  Add spinach; stir until wilted.
(8) In a small saucepan, heat milk until simmering.  Add Parmesan.  Cook, stirring frequently, until well combined and thickened.  Add additional cheese or a tablespoon of flour if necessary.  Season sauce with salt and pepper if desired.
(9) Serve pasta with a scoop of vegetables and desired amount of sauce.

Kid Participation: None.


Coconut Garlic Chicken

Original Recipe HERE

I was really skeptical about this recipe - how could coconut, garlic, and vinegar come together and yield anything but nastiness?  But the original poster promised it was good, so I was game to try.

The taste was interesting but better than expected.  Everyone in the family liked the sauce; kids asked for several helpings of it over the rice.  I should've cooked and shredded the chicken ahead of time and just added it to the sauce as it thickened up; leaving it in pieces meant the kids could easily pick them out.

I will cut the vinegar amount by half next time (original amounts of everything are listed below).  Also, I'd probably add some sliced green onions for garnish and taste.  My sauce never thickened, so expect it to look watery.  Precooking and shredding the chicken would make throwing this dish together super quick and give the sauce a bit more substance.
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced small
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 can (14-15oz) light coconut milk
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro [optional; I did not use]
salt & pepper to taste
rice or other grain for serving
(1) Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet.
(2) Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Add to skillet; saute about 2 minutes.
(3) Add vinegar and garlic to pan.  Cook until most liquid has cooked off.
(4) Add coconut milk.
(5) Turn heat ot medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes or until liquid thickens and chicken is cooked through.
(6) Season with additional salt and pepper.  Top with cilantro and serve over rice or grains.

Kid Participation: None.

Apple & Oat Breakfast Cookies

Original Recipe HERE

I think this is a very functional recipe: it is easy to make, tasty and filling, and handy to take one on-the-go.  That said, I wasn't completely sold on the texture...it was overly moist, bordering on soggy (yet no doubt fully baked).  Maybe it was because I used a different type of flour?  Maybe it was all the apple sauce?  Maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be?  I baked some with parchment and some with a silpat, and the parchment ones were a little drier (in a good way).  The recipe yielded about 20 cookies that I stored uncovered for three days, and they never got stale.

I will definitely make them again because everyone in the family liked them - maybe try pears?  However, I might slightly decrease the amount of applesauce and will try substitutes for the oil.  Also, I made them gigantic like the original recipe says, and smaller cookies would be more practical.
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat flour [I used half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour]
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped [I did not use]
2-1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
(2) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and walnuts.
(3) In a separate bowl, whisk together applesauce, oil, and eggs.
(4) Add wet ingredients to dry; stir until thoroughly combined.
(5) Fold in apples.
(6) Scoop 1/4 to 1/2 cups of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Slightly flatten each cookie and shape into a roughly uniform circle shape.
(7) Bake 20-25 minutes (mine took 25), or until tops are firm.  Let cookies set on baking sheet for several minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk dry ingredients
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Stir batter
* Scoop batter onto baking sheets (if you don't care about precision)

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Original Recipe HERE

Not a healthy banana bread.  There is no justifying that this is "good" for you - at least, for your waistline.  So good for your spirit, though.  I'd mess around with substitutes for the copious amounts of butter and sugar, trying to make this less guilt-inducing...but I fear then it would lose its essence.  So I will relegate it to the "occasional treat" list and enjoy every morsel when I do have it.

I assume these could be made into muffins and will probably try that next time.  Helps with portion control.  As with almost every baked good, this tasted better the next day: the flavors were stronger and the bread had "settled" and was a bit denser.
3 medium or large bananas, very ripe
1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon [optional]
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips [I used semi-sweet mini chips]
(1) Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
(2) Mash bananas thoroughly in a large bowl.
(3) Whisk melted butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla into the bananas.
(4) In a separate bowl, sift together baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flour, and cocoa powder.
(5) Add dry ingredients to wet; stir until just combined.
(6) Stir in chocolate chips.
(7) Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 55-65 minutes (minute took almost 65) or until a knife inserted into the center comes out batter-free.
(8) Cool bread in pan for 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.  Once fully cooled, store wrapped in foil.

Kid Participation:
* Mash bananas
* Crack egg
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Add dry ingredients to wet
* Pour batter into pan

White Chicken Chili

Original Recipe HERE
I simplified the original recipe a lot, both for convenience (I didn't feel like hunting down a variety of peppers) and the sake of hoping my kids would eat it (because they don't like super spicy things).  So it's really just a basic white chicken chili recipe now.  But that's OK, because everyone loved it.  Even my picky *J* said he, "LOVED it!"
My kids aren't big meat eaters, and they turn their noses up to chicken most of the time.  I knew I'd have better luck getting them to eat it if I incorporated it into the dish better than cubing it would.  So I cooked the chicken that afternoon and shredded it with the KitchenAid paddle.  No one complained at mealtime.
I ran out of cumin and couldn't find my chili powder, so I added a few shakes of Cuban seasoning to make up for it.  It was still pretty mild, but I could taste a hint of the jalapenos so it wasn't too bland.  Spices and seasonings and heat factor can be easily tweaked.  As expected, the kids added plenty of sour cream and cheese on top. 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups broth
3 cans (15 oz) cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chopped cooked chicken [I used shredded]
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup heavy cream [optional; I forgot it]
garnishes: lime wedges, shredded cheese, cilantro, sour cream
rice [optional]
(1) Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
(2) Add onions, jalapeno, cumin, chili powder, paprika, cayenne, and salt.  Cook until vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes.
(3) Meanwhile, drain and rinse one can of beans.  Mash thoroughly.
(3) Add garlic.  Cook an additional minute (do not allow garlic to brown).
(4) Add flour; stir in thoroughly.  Cook for about 1 minute.
(5) Add mashed beans.
(6) Stir in remaining 2 cans of beans, chicken, and lime juice.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low; cook about 20 minutes.
(7) Add heavy cream.  Serve with garnishes and by itself or over rice.
Kid Participation: None, other than require me to grate several rounds of cheese for toppings.  Kids like them some cheese.