Archive for July, 2012

Portobello Philly cheesesteak sandwich

After having a lackluster Philly cheesesteak during a recent layover in Philadelphia, I’ve been craving a lighter version of this famous sandwich. For a change this week, I used beefy portobello mushrooms instead of steak.

Mr. Squid also added some lightly sauteed strips of deli ham into the mix. The key for a really good Philly–besides ditching the Cheez Whiz–is to prepare each fixin’ individually. So saute the onions and peppers, remove from pan; saute the portobellos and then mix everything back together.

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4-5

Ingredients:

4 portobello mushrooms, cut into thin strips

2 sweet peppers, cut into thin strips

1/2 white onion, cut into thin strips

4-6 ounces Fontina or Muenster Cheese in slices

4-5 hoagie buns

5 deli sliced ham slices, cut into thin strips (optional)

Seasonings

1 tablespoon oil, divided

2 tablespoons chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Bring 1/2 tablespoon oil (I like grape seed) to medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed saute pan. Cook the onions and peppers until just softened; remove from pan.
  2. Saute the portobello mushrooms in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil until just softened.
  3. Add the pepper and onion mix (and ham, if using), back into the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the cheese slices on top of the mixture. Add in the chicken broth and cover the pan so that the cheese is melted.
  5. Add the mixture into the cut hoagie buns.
  6. Sprinkle with hot sauce, if desired.

Kids’ reactions: My teen LOVED this meal. My middle child who is usually a big mushroom eater wasn’t quite sure what to make of this sandwich, but she ate about half of it without saying too much. My youngest said she didn’t like the peppers; I’m working on that…

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Peachy pork tacos

I found gorgeous peaches at the market today, which I thought would pair perfectly with pork in traditional Mexican tacos. With authentic tacos, it’s all about the fresh fillings. Seriously, no cheese, no unidentifiable gritty ground meat.

For an easy, tasty summertime meal I chopped up pork cutlets into bit-sized pieces sauteed them with a few spices and lime before adding thin-sliced peaches, cilantro, and homemade salsa.

Picky eater trick: For my kids, I put all the ingredients on their plates and then let them construct their tacos on their own. My youngest later dipped the extra peaches right into the salsa. I surprisingly tasty combo!

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4-6


Ingredients

2 lbs. pork

1 lime

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. cumin powder

1 peach

cilantro

toasted corn tortillas

Directions

  • Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces.
  • Bring 1 tablespoon grape seed (or canola oil) to medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet.
  • Saute the pork until heated through and crisped, adding garlic and cayenne powders and ground cumin half way through cooking.
  • Squeeze half of a lime over the meat before removing it from the pan.
  • Cut the peach into thin slices (I didn’t bother removing the skin since the slices were so slim).
  • Serve the pork with fresh peach slices, cilantro, and salsa on toasted corn tortillas.
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7 summertime snack ideas

Taking a breather from the hot weather, poolside

It’s been one hot summer! Normally, you can find me cooking up something in the kitchen even in 90-degree weather. Not this year! All those 90-degree days with a heat index pushing 100 add up to me looking for cool snacks for the kids.

Here’s a few of my favorite hot-weather treats:

5-minute yogurt popsicles. Yogurt + fruit + freezer = a kid-pleasing snack once they’re done with their water gun fight.

Watermelon limeade. Update your lemonade! Try using limes instead and mix in fresh raspberries, watermelon, or blueberries.

3 Grab ‘n go snack packs. We make these to pack with us when we head to the zoo.

Firefly crackers. Inspired by my kids’ fascination with catching lightning bugs.

Magic smoothies. Secret ingredient? Spinach. It gives the smoothies some heft and nutrition, but your kids won’t even know it’s in there.

Energy bites. My version of granola bites feels like you’re eating cookie batter, only they’re good for you.

Elvis ice pops. Mini frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, then crushed peanuts. Yum!

Fireflies! Don't worry, my kiddos let 'em go at the end of the night

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Elvis ice pops

We call these Elvis pops around out house. See iced-banana-chocolate-peanut-pops just seemed too long. Yes, these snacks combine some of Elvis’ favorite flavors all into one icy treat.

I tried to solve a couple problems with our family’s version of banana pops: first, cutting a banana in half and then dipping the whole thing in chocolate means that once you bite into the iced pop all the chocolate starts to crack. Gone goes the chocolate and your last few bites of banana are chocolate-less. Not cool. But if you cut up the bananas into pieces it’s easier for kiddos to help with the dipping and (equally importantly, really) you get plenty of chocolate in each bite. Second problem, as much as I like the combo of bananas and chocolate, there’s no crunch. Crush a few peanuts, problem solved.

Note: I’d recommend using popsicle sticks, not plastic knives and toothpicks (pictured). My middle daughter fessed up that my 500-count wooden popsicle stick stash had disappeared. Not to worry, they’re now houses for her Littlest Pet Shop family.

Recipe

Servings: about 30 pops

Prep time: 15 minutes + 20 minutes freezing (twice)


Ingredients

3 large bananas

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cups chopped peanuts

Wooden popsicle sticks

Directions

  • Cut each banana into 8-10 slices, then insert a popsicle stick into each slice.
  • Place the slices onto a baking pan covered with waxed paper and freeze for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave until smooth. (With my microwave I set it at half power then cook the chips for 2 minutes; stir.)
  • Dip each banana slice into the melted chocolate and then into the chopped peanuts. Return to the pan and freeze again for 20 minutes.

Kids’ reaction:

They loved these mini banana pops that were drenched in chocolate and peanuts. My middle child–who normally avoids all things peanuts–even had one peanut-coated pop. She did prefer those that were peanutless, she said. What I liked about these easy treats is that my kids could do every part of this recipe on their own.


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4th of July eats

Do you need to make something last-minute for a barbecue or picnic tomorrow? I’ve got you covered: here are a few ideas perfect for picky eaters–and even more adventurous taste buds.

Watermelon limeade. Forget the lemonade and go green. I like to mix whatever other fruit I have on hand–whether it’s strawberries, raspberries, or watermelon to sweeten the limeade so I don’t have to use quite as much sugar.

Pink lemonade cupcakes. Speaking of lemonade, what about putting the pink lemonade concentrate into your cupcake batter instead of a pitcher like this idea from Putting It All on the Table?

Homemade sno cone syrups. Try this idea for DIY cherry and lemon-lime syrups to stir into crushed ice–or into your sno cone machine, if you’re lucky enough to have one like Casey Barber at Good.Food.Stories.

Blueberry salsa. Mix a burst of sweet fruit into pico de gallo for a tasty chip dip.

Strawberry frisee salad. Add some Thai flare (and strawberries) to make this colorful salad from Garlic Girl.

Perfect potato salad. Everyone has there favorite potato salad recipe, here’s mine. (The secret is to whisk the hard-boiled egg yolk into your sauce.)

Shrimp skewers. Break out the bamboo sticks for these skewers that you can put together quickly. At Cafe Johnsonia, she made her skewers on the stovetop, but you can throw yours onto the grill.

Portobello burgers. Looking for beefier flavor in your burgers? Then skip the meat counter and head right to the produce section. Brushing the portobello with olive oil as it cooks will help it get slightly crisped on the outside and tender on the inside.

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