Stuff My Kid Eats

Stuff My Kid Eats

Stuff My Kid Eats

(Photo credit: Audrey Kranz)

I have been fortunate enough to have a toddler who is relatively adventurous in the foods she will try — and often even like. This is not to say that we don’t have our moments of refusing to eat, declaring something “yucky” simply because it’s brown, or ending a meal in tears; she is 2 years old, after all! But almost without fail, I can count on her to at least taste everything I put in front of her, even if she won’t finish it. When I do find a dish that is particularly popular with her, I fell like SuperMom and do a private little victory dance in my chair across the table from her.

In this weekly segment, I’ll be sharing quick, easy, healthy recipes that break away from the mac-‘n-cheese/quesadilla/chicken nugget rut that’s so easy to get stuck in. All of the meals I post here are great for kids, and delicious for adults as well. Good luck and enjoy!

Stuff My Kid (Mostly) Eats – April 9, 2014

Now before you go saying: “Whaaaaatever! There’s no way her toddler eats that! My kid would never eat roasted cauliflower!” Well, she didn’t, not technically. She ate the entire slice of frittata that I gave her, yet somehow managed to ferret out every little piece of cauliflower in it. At the end of the meal, there was a very sad looking pile of mutilated white stuff at the edge of her plate which she pointed to and firmly said “NO!” So there it is. That is my disclaimer. My kid doesn’t eat everything! At any rate, the meal was great, my husband and I loved it, and you could easily substitute the cauliflower for another vegetable that won’t cause a juvenile uprising at the dinner table. (Recipe slightly adapted from Fine Cooking.)

Roasted Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Frittata

The beauty of this dish is that the ingredients can be adapted to fit your taste, AND it works well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! 

Roasted Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Frittata

  • 1 small red or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (about ½ small head), cut into 1-inch pieces, or 2 cups of another favorite vegetable
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, parsley, dill, etc.)
  • ½ tsp. whole-grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled, about 1 ½ cups, or 6 oz. of another cheese of your choosing (Oh, I just love alliteration!)

Position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high.

Combine the onion, vinegar, and ½ tsp. salt in a small bowl; let sit for 10 minutes and then drain and pat the onion dry. Set aside.

Meanwhile, on a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower (or another vegetable) with 2 tsp. of the oil, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Broil, tossing once or twice, until the edges are golden, 3 to 6 minutes.

Reposition rack in the center of the oven and set the oven to 400°F.

Whisk the eggs, herbs, mustard, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper in a medium bowl.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the pieces are dark golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the roasted cauliflower, and then slowly pour in the egg mixture, redistributing the vegetables evenly. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake until the eggs are set in the center, about 10-15 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes and then use a silicone spatula to slide the frittata onto a serving plate or cutting board. Slice into wedges and serve.

Sidekick: Serve with a crisp dry white wine like a Chablis, or an Italian dry white like a Soave or Gavi di Gavi.

 

Stuff My Kid Eats – April 3, 2014

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“Lettuce tacos” is what my toddler calls this fun but healthy meal. She loves it when I set up all the serving dishes in the middle of the table, let her pick her own ingredients (with assistance), roll her own wrap (also with assistance), and eat with her hands (no assistance required – except for the sweeping I get to do after she lets everything spill from the open end of her wrap).

Lettuce Wraps

This is probably the healthiest thing I’ve ever made (EVER), yet you’d never know it because it’s packed with tons of flavor, texture, and hands-on fun. I mean who doesn’t love building their own “lettuce taco?” Nobody, that’s who. Another excellent thing about this dish is that it can be served warm or cold. (For cold, prepare all the ingredients, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.)  

Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4

  • 8 outer leaves from about 2 heads of Boston lettuce, separated and washed (reserve small inside leaves for another use)
  • 4 cups prepackaged broccoli slaw
  • 5 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. pineapple juice
  • 4 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1¾  cups coconut water
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce (vegetarians use soy sauce)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Choose one (or a couple) of the following proteins: 

  • 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 lb. uncooked shrimp, (peeled, deveined, and tails removed) coarsely chopped
  • 2 – 14oz. packages of extra firm tofu, cut into very small cubes

Preparation:

Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Set aside.

Place broccoli slaw in a serving bowl, then whisk together coconut oil, juice, vinegar, and green onions until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over slaw and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

Bring coconut water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add rice and continue to boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 35-45 minutes, or until water has absorbed and rice is tender. Once rice has finished cooking, add mustard and stir to combine. Season with pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, garlic, and protein of your choice and sauté until cooked through. Add oyster sauce and black pepper, and stir until combined. Transfer to a bowl for serving. (Note: if you’ve chosen to use more than one protein, cook separately, wiping out the skillet between batches.)

Place all serving bowls on the table and let everyone assemble their own wraps.

To assemble: 

Fill lettuce leaves with a spoonful of rice, then a spoonful of protein, and top with broccoli slaw. Pick up leaves and eat like you would a taco.

Sidekick: Pair with a glass of Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Rosé.

 

Stuff My Kid Eats – March 26, 2014

Warning: Vegetarians turn back now; this post is about pigs. Lots and lots of delicious pigs! 

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{ My toddler at the Pork & Pickle }

My toddler loves pigs. Absolutely loves them! I’m not talking about the cute, little pink guys that appear in most of her story books (although she loves those, too), I’m talking about the kind you eat. Bacon, ham, pork, you name it, the child will gobble it up, no questions asked. During our most recent travels, we ended up with a couple hours to kill in the Kansas City International Airport, and found a real gem of an eatery, Pork & Pickle, which serves, you guessed it…pork and pickles (among other things). It’s located on the second floor of the Southwest terminal, and once you emerge from the wood paneled elevator, you almost forget that you’re eating in an airport. Almost. The menu had a nice variety of pork that spanned from BBQ to brats…and it got me thinking: I need to cook more pork! It’s a healthy alternative to red meat, it’s more fun than chicken, and it gets my toddler to come to the dinner table without complaint. And then, almost as if it were meant to be, the Fine Cooking magazine I brought with me to read on the plane had a great looking pork recipe. I love it when things work out like that, don’t you? Anyway, I tried it out as soon as we got home, and it turned out to be one of the best pork dishes I’ve had in a long time. And my toddler loved it, which makes it a win-win for me!

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Pork & Pickle in the Kansas City International Airport }

Pork Medallions with Chickpeas and Cabbage

Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) can be a bit bland on their own, but when baked under tenderloins of sizzling, salty pork, they just explode with flavor. This dish is not only delicious and easy to make, but it’s elegant looking as well, which means you can prepare it for your family one night after work, or save it for the next time you have company. Either way, you’ll look like a rockstar in the kitchen! The original recipe called for using dry chickpeas, soaking them overnight, then cooking them on the stovetop for an hour prior to making the rest of the meal. That method sounded delicious, but, really?! It’s more time than I want to spend on a weeknight dinner (also, my local grocery store doesn’t carry dry chickpeas), so I altered the recipe to use canned chickpeas instead. With that being said, anyone who would like to try the long version gets extra credit – and you can find the recipe here. (Recipe slightly adapted from Fine Cooking.)

Pork Medallions with Chickpeas and Cabbage

Serves 6

  • 2 15-oz. cans of chickpeas, with canning liquid
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 1-lb. pork tenderloins
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • ½ small head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced (6 to 7 cups)
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto di Parma (3½ oz.)
  • 6 oz. coarsely grated Italian fontina cheese (about 2 cups)

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add chicpeas (with canning liquid) along with the bay leaves, thyme, and garlic. Heat until just starting to bubble, then reduce temperature to low and simmer for 20-40 minutes, or however long it takes you to prepare the rest of the dish. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid and garlic, discard herbs. Smash the garlic (it should be very soft, almost paste-like when smashed), chop, and set aside.

Meanwhile, trim and slice each tenderloin on the diagonal into 3 thick medallions (for a total of 6 medallions). Place each medallion on a cut side, and using your hands, gently press on each to flatten slightly. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter and oil in a 12-inch oven proof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in two batches, cook the pork, flipping once, until golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion and ¼ tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the cabbage, ¼ tsp. salt, and ½ cup water. Stir, cover, turn the heat down to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, reserved cooking liquid, and garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the pork (and any cooking juices that have accumulated on the plate) over the cabbage and chickpeas and top with each piece with a slice of prosciutto and a mound of grated fontina. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the pork reaches 145°F on an instant-read meat thermometer, about 15-17 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Spoon chickpeas onto plate, then top with pork tenderloin.

Sidekick: Pair with a glass of Pinot Noir, Barolo, Syrah, or Chardonnay.

 

Stuff My Kid Eats – March 19, 2014

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“Ew, that’s so yucky!” is my toddler’s new favorite phrase. This has been her mantra of late and she uses it in response to pretty much anything she’s offered, be it food, clothes, or a new activity. She turned 2½ a couple weeks ago and has developed an opinion about everything. EVERYTHING! So it was no surprise to me that she turned up her nose at this dinner. “But it’s made with peanut butter,” I told her. She looked at me sideways, calculating her next move. “Peanut butter? Hmm…” She ate a bite, and then another, and another. “It’s very yucky, Mommy,” she said quietly and with much less conviction, then she slurped the last piece of meat out of her bowl and reached across the table to snag more off my husband’s plate.

Broccoli and Basil Panang Curry

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This delicious, easy-to-make Thai dish can be adapted to fit any eater and is sure to become a new family favorite! I usually prepare it with beef (pictured above) and serve it over rice noodles, but it can also be made with chicken, shrimp, or tofu and spooned over long-grain white rice or brown rice. 

Broccoli and Basil Panang Curry

Serves 4

For the Panang

  • 1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk (do not stir)
  • 2 Tbsp. Panang or red curry paste
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter or extra-crunchy peanut butter
  • 5 tsp. fish sauce
  • 4 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise very thinly
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced lengthwise very thinly
  • 1 bunch broccolini, cut into 2-inch long pieces, stems included (regular broccoli would work, too, just cut each floret into quarters)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade (*see How To)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 tsp. hot chili paste, such as sambal or oelek (omit if you don’t like heat)

Choose one of the following proteins:

  • 1 lb. ribeye steak (*see Note)
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (*see Note)
  • 1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • 2 14-oz. packages firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes

*Note: Place the steak or chicken in the freezer for 15 minutes to make it easier to cut. With a very sharp knife, slice meat against the grain, no thicker than ⅛-inch.

Choose one of the following for serving:

  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white (such as Basmati or Jasmine), cooked per package instructions
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice, cooked per package instructions
  • 8 oz. dry rice noodles, cooked per package instructions

Cook rice/rice noodles per package instructions.

While rice/rice noodles are cooking, heat a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat. Spoon the thick coconut cream from the top of the can into the skillet. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring until fragrant and beginning to dry, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the remaining coconut milk, almond/peanut butter, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and water and bring to a simmer. Stir in the red pepper, onion, garlic, and broccolini, cover and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.

Add the protein of your choice and half of the basil, cook uncovered, stirring often until the protein is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

Divide cooked rice/rice noodles among 4 separate plates. Spoon Panang over rice/rice noodles, dividing evenly, and sprinkle with remaining basil chiffonade.

*How To:

Chiffonade Basil

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Stack 4-5 leaves on top of each other.

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Tightly roll the stack lengthwise (another selfie of my thumb).

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With a sharp knife, cut the roll perpendicularly into very thin ribbons.

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Repeat with remaining basil leaves.

Sidekick:

  • If you choose to add heat (hot chili paste) to this dish, then you’ll want a nice cold beer, either an Ale, Pilsner, Singha, or Weiss; or a glass of Riesling, either an off-dry or Spätlese.
  • If you prefer the safer, less spicy version of this dish, add a non-oaky Chardonnay to the beverage list above.

Stuff My Kid Eats – March 12, 2014

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You’ve heard me mention before that word “chicken” in response to “what’s for dinner?” can insight a riot from my toddler. That is unless the word “chicken” is followed by the word “pie.”  As you can see from the photo above, the little stinker pulled a steps tool up to the counter and started to dig in before I could get her plate to the table.

Chicken Pot Pie

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There’s a lot of different ways to make chicken pot pie, and a lot of different crusts you can use; the way I’ve always done it is by filling individual ramekins with chicken, vegetables, and gravy, then topping them with a light and buttery sheet of puffed pastry. Feel free to skip the individual dishes and use one large one, or alter on the veggies if you want (for instance I add broccoli, which isn’t traditional), and if puff isn’t your thing, then swap it out for phyllo dough. Just don’t forget to thaw the pastry in the refrigerator the night before, otherwise you’re going to end up with a couple frozen, unusable blocks of dough that have no business near your beautiful chicken – I know this first hand. (To adapt this recipe for vegetarians, see Vegetarian Modifications at the end of the recipe.)

Chicken Pot Pie

Serves 6

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. flour plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup Sherry
  • 2 cups chicken stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup diced carrots, from about 3-4 carrots
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled and cut in half (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (from about 3-4 potatoes)
  • 1 cup diced celery, from about 3-4 celery stalks
  • 1 cup diced broccoli
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed from bone and torn or cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, minced
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 sheet frozen puffed pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet set over medium heat, until butter has melted and begins to brown. Add shallots and thyme and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add thyme and garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour and cook until thick and starting to brown. Add sherry, stirring and cooking until liquid has reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Add milk and stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

To the simmering liquid, add carrots, pearl onions, and potatoes and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add celery, broccoli, chicken, peas, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, sugar, and salt and stir until combined. Cook for another couple minutes until all the ingredients are covered in gravy.

Scoop chicken mixture into individual oven-safe baking dishes or ramekins, or one large oven-safe baking dish, filling to the top.

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Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out puff pastry dough to get rid of the seams. If you’re making individual pot pies, then with a sharp knife, cut rounds slightly larger than the circumference of ramekins. Place a pastry round over each filled dish, crimping the edges a bit and allowing about ½ of dough to hang over the sides. If you’re making one large pot pie, lay the sheet of dough over the baking dish, with a sharp knife, trim the dough to fit, leaving ½-inch overhang, crimp the edges slightly.

Brush dough all over with egg wash and use a sharp knife to make a few small slits in the top for steam to escape. Place baking dish(es) on a baking sheet to catch the drips.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the inside is bubbling at the edges.

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VEGETARIAN MODIFICATIONS

  • Omit chicken and replace with 1 additional cup each of carrots and broccoli.
  • Omit chicken broth and replace with vegetable broth.

Stuff My Kid Eats – March 5, 2014

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When I told my toddler that we were having chicken Parmesan for dinner she said, “No, yucky! We’re having soup!” Then I put her plate in front of her and she recanted her statement: “Oh, this chicken! I LOVE this chicken!” If that’s not endorsement enough, I don’t know what is. Her favorite part of the dish is the wedge of lemon that she gets to squeeze over each bite. Each. Individual. Bite. Not over the entire cutlet, mind you, just one squeeze before every forkful. It’s an arduous, try-momm’s-patience way of eating, but she always cleans every bite off her plate. Every freshly-squeezed, 3-minutes-in-the-making, pull-your-hair-out-waiting bite. Oy!

Parmesan Chicken Cutlets

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When I think of chicken Parmesan, I picture a heavily breaded piece of poultry smothered in marinara sauce set under a gooey slice of melted cheese atop a large mound of pasta. This is not that chicken Parmesan; lightly breaded, quickly pan-fried, and served with a squeeze of lemon  it’s much more my speed, and something I don’t mind serving my family a couple times a month. (Recipe by Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Storyby way of Bon Appétit magazine)

Parmesan Chicken Cutlets

Serves 4

¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1½ cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. mustard powder
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 small skinless, boneless chicken cutlets (about 1½ lb. total), pounded to ¼” thickness*
8 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lemon, halved

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Beat eggs in a second shallow bowl. Combine panko, Parmesan, and mustard powder in a third shallow bowl and season mixture with salt and pepper

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Pat chicken dry with a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper. Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Transfer to bowl with beaten egg and turn to coat. Lift from bowl, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Coat with panko mixture, pressing to adhere. DO AHEAD: Chicken can be breaded 3 months in advance. Place between pieces of waxed paper and freeze in resealable freezer bags. Thaw before continuing.

Heat 6 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy skillet or a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook cutlets, adding remaining 2 Tbsp. oil to pan between batches, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Serve with lemon to squeeze over top.

*Note: Still have those chicken tenders patiently waiting in your freezer that I told you to save? This would be the time to use them. (If using chicken tenders, decrease cooking time to 2 minutes per side.)

Sidekicks:

  • Serve with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a non-oaky Chardonnay.
  • A simple starch and vegetable medley is all you need to make this a hearty meal (see Winter Squash and Brussels Sprout Bake recipe below).

Winter Squash and Brussels Sprout Bake

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This easy gratin-style bake is an excellent way of introducing (or re-introducing) your family to the most unloved vegetable on the planet: Brussels sprouts. When roasted, Brussels sprouts become sweet and slightly nutty, which nicely compliments the decadent winter squash. Add some chopped herbs and a sprinkle of salty cheese, and you’ve got yourself a winning side dish. (Oh, and cut the Brussels sprouts into small wedges to make them less threatening to any skeptics at your table!)

  • ½ Acorn, Kabocha, or Butternut squash, seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes, rind left on (unless using Butternut squash, then remove the rind)
  • 12-14 small Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
  • 1 leek, halved and thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients except Parmesan in a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the Brussels sprouts have browned and the squash is fork tender, tossing halfway through. Sprinkle Parmesan over veggies and return baking dish to the oven for 3-5 minutes, until cheese has melted and has started to bubble.

Stuff My Kid Eats – February 26, 2014

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Being natives of the Pacific Northwest, my husband and I both love Asian food, and have been taking our toddler to Japanese and Thai restaurants since she was three weeks old. Meal after meal she’s observed us (with an equal amount of curiosity and amusement) as we use chopsticks to shovel rice and sashimi into our faces. Other than chicken katsu, she hasn’t very adventurous in what she was willing to try. It wasn’t until we took her to her first Chinese restaurant a while back that she really began to show an interest in Asian cuisine. Throughout dinner, she assumed the usual routine: request a peanut butter sandwich, settle for pork fried rice, beg for chopsticks, accidentally poke herself with them, resume fork usage, spill rice over the table and floor. But then, after the meal was over, the waitress brought us our check…and a fortune cookie. This crunchy, individually wrapped treat with a secret message inside was just the thing she needed to turn her into a believer. Now, whenever I set the table with chopsticks, her enthusiasm for dinner increases tenfold. It doesn’t matter what I serve and we don’t even have to give her a fortune cookie at the end of the meal, either — we just have to be willing to talk about her trip to the Chinese restaurant for the rest of the evening: “Do you remember the restaurant with the fish tank, and the cookie with the paper inside, and the chopsticks, and the tiny glasses, and Mommy’s spicy soup, and the pretty flowers on the table, and Daddy’s funny broccoli, and the, and the, and the…?”

Sweet and Sour Molasses Chicken and Rice

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This is a very loose (and healthy) adaptation of Chinese sweet & sour chicken. My family has been making it for years, and I’m not sure where the recipe came from anymore. I have a second generation photocopy that has some ingredients scribbled out and others written in, there are soy sauce drips across the top, and an entire corner is torn away. I’d love to credit the original author, but without forensic assistance, I don’t believe that would be possible. 

Sweet & Sour Molasses Chicken and Rice

Serves 4

For chicken:

  • 2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 chicken breasts

For rice:

  • 1 cup dry basmati, jasmine, or other long-grain rice (or brown rice, if you prefer)
  • 1¾ cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut or peanut oil
  • ½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 4 Tbsp. jalapeños, diced (or mild green chiles, diced)
  • 2 scallions, including green tops, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly mist a baking dish with cooking oil.

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir for one minute. Reduce temperature to low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

With a meat mallet, pound chicken breasts to a ½-inch thickness and prick all over with a fork. Season with salt and pepper, and place in baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, molasses, and sesame oil until combined. Pour molasses sauce into baking dish with chicken, turning chicken so that it’s fully covered. Bake for 15 minutes, turning chicken half way through. Remove baking dish from oven and carefully pour molasses sauce into a small bowl. Return chicken to oven and increase temperature to broil. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until chicken becomes brown and crispy at the edges. Remove baking dish from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, whisk together oil, vinegar, molasses, garlic, ginger, and jalapeños (or chiles) until combined. Once rice has finished cooking, pour vinaigrette into the rice pot and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide rice among 4 plates. Lay 1 breast of sliced chicken on top of rice, and spoon 1-2 Tbsp. molasses sauce over chicken. Garnish with sliced green onions.

Sidekicks: 

  • A plate of steamed broccoli would serve as a quick, easy side dish, and an excellent sponge for the delicious molasses sauce you don’t want to go to waste.
  • Serve with sake; either Junami (rich, medium-bodied), or a sweeter variety.

Stuff My Kid Eats – February 19, 2014

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“Risotto! Risotto! Risotto!” my toddler squeals with delight as she jumps about the kitchen clapping her hands. This is not a typical response to many of the dishes I serve for dinner. Dinner, in fact, is her least favorite meal, as it usually doesn’t arrive in the form of a sandwich or a waffle. But risotto is different; especially seafood risotto. She thinks she’s getting away with something when I serve it, “You mean I get to eat a whole plate of rice and nobody’s gonna stop me? Yes, please!” The only static this meal causes is when she runs out of shrimp and gets bent that my husband and I won’t fork over ours. Not a bad argument to have with a toddler, as far as I’m concerned!

Seafood and Asparagus Risotto

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Risotto is a traditional Italian meal made with a short-grain rice called Arborio. The higher starch content in the rice adds creaminess to the dish, without actually adding cream to the dish — so it’s a win-win for those calorie counters! This recipe takes a bit more hands-on attention, as it needs to be stirred continually for about 30 minutes, but it’s worth every bit of elbow grease — consider it part of your daily workout!

Serves 4

1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fish stock, or chicken or vegetable stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc (see Note*)
½ bunch of asparagus, tender parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces
24 uncooked bay scallops
12-18 uncooked medium shrimp, deveined and peeled with tails removed
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

*Note: All of the alcohol in the wine burns off as it cooks, so it’s safe to serve to children, however, if you prefer, replace wine with an extra cup of stock.

In a saucepan, bring stock and wine to a low simmer. Meanwhile, over medium-low heat, melt butter and oil in a large straight-sided skillet until bubbly. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add risotto and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Using a large soup ladle, pour 1 ladle-full (about ½ cup) of stock into risotto and stir until liquid is absorbed. Gradually stir in remaining broth 1 ladle-full at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle. Continue this process until all but 1 ladle-full of stock has been used, approximately 25-30 minutes. Add the last ladle of stock with seafood and asparagus, and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until shrimp and scallops are fully cooked and asparagus turns bright green. Uncover and stir until all remaining liquid has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Sidekick: Serve with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a non-oaky Chardonnay.

Shortcuts:

  • Replace homemade stock with store bought stock
  • Replace wine with an extra cup of stock
  • Use precooked seafood and toss it in at the end of the cooking process after the asparagus have been steamed. Stir until seafood is heated through.

Stuff My Kid Eats – February 12, 2014

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What kid doesn’t love pasta? For that matter, what adult doesn’t love pasta? Much like soup, pasta has become a staple in our home. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and it’s the energy-booster my toddler needs to continue terrorizing our cat* on a daily basis. With as much pasta as we eat, I’m always searching for new recipes to liven up the routine. I found this one in Martha Stewart Living a while back, and regularly change up the ingredients depending on what I have in my fridge. See VARIATIONS at the end of this post for ideas on how you can alter this dish and make it your own. (Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living)

One-Pan Pasta

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I have to admit, as much as I trust Martha Stewart and her very accomplished staff (not that I’m biased or anything), I was a bit skeptical when this recipe called for throwing all the ingredients into a pan and cooking them together, rather than separately. Pasta in one pot, sauce in the other, that’s how I was raised — but WOW! this is so much better. And at the end of the meal, you only have one pan to clean. Brilliant!

Serves 4

  • 12 oz. linguine
  • 12 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ tsp. red-pepper flakes
  • 2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 4½ cups water
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

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Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.

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Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.

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Sidekick: The simplicity of this pasta pairs well with a Pinot Gris or a Sauvignon Blanc.

VARIATIONS:

Silky Carbonara

Omit: 
Basil
Mushrooms

Add:
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. water
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup cooked bacon, chopped

Beat egg yolks with water until smooth. After pasta has finished cooking, remove from heat, add egg mixture, butter, and bacon and stir until creamy. Season with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan.

Spring Greens

Omit:
Tomatoes
Basil
Mushrooms
Red-pepper flakes
Parmesan cheese

Add:
1 bunch of asparagus, tender part only, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lemon
1 cup spring peas, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped

Add asparagus at the beginning with dry pasta. Meanwhile, juice and zest lemon. Once pasta has cooked for about 7 minutes, add lemon juice and peas. Stir and continue to cook for 2 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 bowls and garnish with parsley and lemon zest.

Italian Chicken and Peppers

Add:
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 precooked chicken breasts, diced
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped

Add bell peppers at the beginning with dry pasta. Once pasta has finished cooking, add diced chicken and oregano. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve with Parmesan.

Photo: The Toddler Terrorizing The Cat.

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Stuff My Kid Eats – February 5, 2014

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Has there ever been a more beautiful union than that of sweet and savory? The unlikely marriage of salt and confection has inspired many food favorites: chocolate covered pretzels, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Rocky Road ice cream, corn dogs, fruit and cheese, pineapple pizza (my toddler’s pick) — the list goes on and on. So with Valentine’s Day hot on everybodys’ minds, why not put away your ideas of “what works” and go with your gut! After all, it worked with my toddler and her cat.*

Pan-Seared Sausage with Lady Apples and Watercress 

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Aside from pineapple pizza, this is my toddler’s favorite meal. The ultimate sweet and savory matrimony: Italian sausage, caramelized apples, and watercress — this dish has all the makings for a family favorite! (Recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appétit)

Serves 4

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. lady apples, halved through stem ends (if unavailable, use pink lady or fuji apples)
1 ½ lb. sweet Italian sausage
½ cup dry white wine
4 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 bunch watercress, trimmed (about 6 cups)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples, cut side down, and cook, turning occasionally until golden brown, 5-8 minutes.

Prick sausages with a fork, add to skillet with apples, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned. 10-12 minutes. Add wine and vinegar to skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened (liquid should coat a spoon), about 4 minutes. Add watercress and toss to coat, season with salt and pepper.

Serve with pan juices spooned over.

Sidekicks:

  • A fruity Zinfandel and an off-dry German Riesling pair well with the sweet apples.
  • Crispy oven potatoes are an excellent starch to help soak up the delicious pan juices you don’t want to go to waste (recipe below).

Crispy Oven Potatoes

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I make these potatoes a few times a month and always change up the seasonings to match the flavor of the meal. For this dish, I like smoked paprika and dried oregano, which off-set the sweetness of the Italian sausage and lady apples, but you can use thyme and fennel, rosemary and parsley — or whatever else suits your fancy. 

Serves 4

  • 8-10 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. herbs d’provence
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly mist a baking sheet with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix all ingredients until combined. Spread seasoned potatoes evenly on sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing half way through.

* Photo: True Love: The Toddler and The Cat

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Stuff My Kid Eats – January, 29, 2014 (Soup’er Bowl Food)

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(Photo: My toddler at 17 months trying her first squid.)

I hail from the great Pacific Northwest and cut my teeth on a variety of seafoods, ranging from the typical salmon and shrimp to the not-so-typical geoduck and octopus. When my toddler was old enough to start on solids, it was important to me that she appreciate seafood as much as I do, so I made sure to introduce her to fish right away. One of the first things I tried was coconut shrimp. I ordered it in a restaurant and gave her one to taste. She held it upright by the tail, eating it like some do a corn dog: slowly nibbling away at the crunchy coating, then devouring the inside in a matter of seconds. She reached for another, and another, until she had stuffed herself and finished nearly half of my meal. Now, when I make this recipe at home, she’ll cozy up to the counter, wag her finger at the platter of shrimp and whisper, “I will eat you, little shrimpies!” So…if you’re a family of seafood-lovers like us, these healthy baked coconut shrimp will be a hit! And if you’re not, it’s an excellent way to warm up your tastebuds to our delicious friends under the sea.

Baked Coconut Shrimp

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Regardless of where you plan on watching the Big Game, at home or with friends, football fans work up an appetite, so be prepared with some easy finger-food. Impress your fellow tailgaters with a basket of coconut shrimp and a trio of dipping sauces — I promise they won’t even realize it’s healthy! (Recipe slightly adapted from Clean Eating#GoHawks!

Serves 4-6

Olive oil cooking spray
½ cup white whole-wheat flour (regular AP white flour will work, too)
2 large eggs
6 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs
½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ tsp. sea salt
⅛ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
24 uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
⅓ cup unsweetened apricot jam
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
1½ tsp. fish sauce
½ prepared teriyaki sauce for serving
½ prepared sweet honey mustard for serving
Ground cayenne pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with foil and mist with cooking spray. Place 3 wide, shallow bowls on a work surface. To first bowl, add flour; to second bowl, add eggs and beat lightly; to third bowl, add panko, coconut, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Holding 1 shrimp by the tail, dip in flour, shaking off excess. Quickly dip in egg, then in coconut mixture, coating thoroughly. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining shrimp. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating pans halfway through and flipping shrimp, until they are firm to the touch, lightly brown on the outside with bright pink tails.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on low heat, combine jam, lime juice, fish sauce, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is fluid and warmed through (*note: do not bring to a simmer).

Serve shrimp with apricot-lime dipping sauce, teriyaki sauce, and honey mustard.

Sidekicks:

  • Serve with a glass of buttery Chardonnay (avoid oaked), an off-dry Riesling, or a nice cold Pilsner.
  • To upgrade these shrimp from an appetizer to full-fledged meal, serve alongside jasmine rice topped with stir-fried vegetables (recipes below).

Vegetable Stir Fry

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This recipe can be adapted to use any vegetables of your choice; just remember to add the longer-cooking veggies to the pan first, followed by the softer, quick-cooking vegetables.

2 Tbsp. sesame oil (or other high heat oil, such as safflower or canola)
1 head of broccoli, florets and stems cut into 2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1 cup or mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 green onions, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced paper-thin
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced paper thin
2-3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1-2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a wok or large skillet with tall sides, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully swirl oil around in pan to coat sides. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate. Add broccoli and bell peppers and sear, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, then toss and continue to cook for an additional minute.

Push the broccoli and peppers up the sides of the wok or to the outer edge of the skillet, creating a open space in the center. Add carrots and mushroom to the center of the pan, and cook, undisturbed, for 1 minute. Toss and cook for an additional minute. Add green onions, reserved ginger and garlic, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. vinegar to pan. Toss all vegetables together, cooking until softened, about 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more soy sauce and/or vinegar if needed. Season with salt and pepper and serve over cooked rice.

Jasmine Rice

Using coconut water in place of tap water gives the rice a slight sweetness and provides a nice base for the savory vegetable stir-fry.

1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 ¾ cup coconut water
pinch of Kosher salt

In a sauce pan, bring coconut water and salt to a boil. Add rice, and stir for 1 minute. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 18-20 minutes or until rice is soft. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Serve hot.

Stuff My Kid Eats – January 22, 2014

Stuff My Kid Eats

Food is huge part of daily life in our household. We eat it. We discuss it. We take pictures of it. We blog about it. So, it’s no surprise that as soon as my toddler wakes up in the morning, she wants to know what’s for breakfast. And not 20 minutes after breakfast, she wants to know what’s for lunch. Breakfast and lunch are her favorite meals — she usually gets to choose her main course (within reason), then is subjected to my side-dish-of-discrestion (vegetables). Now, here’s where our day falls apart: dinner. Inevitably, somewhere between lunch and our afternoon activities, she will ask, “What’s for dinner, Mommy?” Ugh! I dread this questions. I have nightmares about this question. I usually sugarcoat the answer to avoid a meltdown, and I always lead with the starch: “Rice with super yummy sausage and beans!” or “Risotto with pretty pink shrimp!” This works about 50% of the time. But, for whatever reason, if my answer contains the word chicken, she falls to the floor in tears, wailing, “Nooo, not chicken!” I don’t understand this. She loves chicken. She can eat her weight in chicken. It’s the single most popular food item that she will clear off her plate every time I serve it. EVERY. TIME.

Below is a dish, that when spoken aloud, sends my child into another universe with despair, but always inducts her into the “clean plate” club. It’s simple. It’s delicious. But it could probably use a better name; maybe “Sweet Squash with Spinach Pinwheels and (spoken softly)…chicken.” Again, good luck! I know you’ll enjoy it, hopefully your kids will, too.

Chicken Paillards with Squash and Spinach

Chicken Paillards

This recipe comes to you by way of my former employer, Martha Stewart, and is an easy way to prepare deliciously tender chicken breasts. You can put your own personal touch on this versatile recipe by experimenting with other toppings such as oven-dried tomatoes, chopped Kalamata olives, and feta cheese; or fresh diced tomatoes & avocados with cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime.

Serves 4

½ small kabocha squash, unpeeled, seeded and cut lengthwise into ¾-inch slices (see Tips*)
1 small red onion, cut into wedges, root end attached
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken-breasts, halved (see How To*)
Kosher salt
Red-pepper flakes to taste
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 fresh sage leaves (from about 4 sprigs)
1 cup baby spinach leaves

You will also need:
Plastic wrap
Meat mallet

Preheat oven to 425°. Distribute squash and onion evenly on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil, season with salt, and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer and roast until squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pound chicken to a ⅛-to-¼-inch thickness. Season on both sides with salt and red-pepper flakes (see Tips*). Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Swirl in remaining Tbsp. oil, then butter. Fry sage until just crisp, about 30 seconds to 1 minute; let drain on a paper towel.

Working in 2 batches, add chicken to pan and cook until golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes per each side. Divide chicken among 4 plates and top with spinach, squash, onion, and sage.

*Tips:

  • Cooking red-pepper flakes mellows their heat, but if you prefer, replace with fresh cracked black pepper instead. (I use red-pepper flakes, then before I cut and serve my toddler’s chicken, I scrape off the larger pieces so that she still gets the flavor without the fire.)
  • If kabocha squash (pictured below) is unavailable in your supermarket, substitute acorn squash — both can be eaten with the rind, just remember to remove the stem and end piece.

Kabocha Squash

*How To:

To halve a chicken breast, lay the breast flat on a cutting board with the smooth side down. Using a sharp knife, cut away the small piece of meat that’s attached to the larger breast, called the “tender.” Set tender aside and freeze for another use (hint, hint…I’ll be posting a recipe for chicken tenders soon).

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Turn breast over. With your knife, begin slicing the breast in half horizontally, all the way through. Repeat with second breast.

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Lay 4 breast halves on a piece of plastic wrap and top with a second piece of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound chicken all over until you’ve reached an even thickness of about ⅛-inch.

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Sidekicks:

  • This dish pairs well with a Dry Riesling, which counters the slight heat from the red-pepper flakes.
  • Serve chicken with red couscous (pictured): Cook 1 cup dry red couscous per package instructions, but replace water with chicken stock. Once cooked, mix in ¼ cup slivered almonds.

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Stuff My Kid Eats – January 16, 2014

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Lemony Pasta with Tuna Sauce and Arugula

Lemony Pasta with Tuna Sauce

I found this recipe in one of my husband’s Men’s Health magazines over the summer (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on the similarity of a grown man’s pallet to that of a toddler’s.) I was able to throw this meal together in 15 minutes, then crossed my fingers that it was something my daughter would eat — she did, and now it’s one of her favorites. Hallelujuah!

Serves 4

1 lemon
8 ounces radiatore pasta
2 – 5 oz. cans of tuna in olive oil (see Tips*)
2 canned anchovies (even if you don’t like anchovies, don’t omit them! They really enhance the flavor.)
¼ tsp. red-pepper flakes, divided (see Tips*)
5 cups baby arugula
¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Juice and zest lemon. Cook pasta per package instructions; drain, saving ½ cup of cooking water.

While the pasta cooks, drain tuna, saving 3 Tbsp. of the oil. In a blender or food processor, combine tuna, reserved oil, lemon juice, anchovies, and ⅛ tsp. red-pepper flakes; process until smooth.

In a large bowl, toss the hot drained pasta with tuna sauce (thin with pasta water if necessary). Add arugula, lemon zest, salt & pepper, and remaining red-pepper flakes (see Tips*). Serve topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.

Tips:

  • I waited to add the final ⅛ tsp. red-pepper flakes until after I dished my toddler’s serving to save her delicate tastebuds from too much heat (if there is such a thing).
  • To make this a heartier meal, buy an additional can of tuna, drain, then add chunked tuna to the finished pasta.
  • Look for Genova brand tuna, if available (pictured below).

Genova Tuna

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