Posts tagged vegetables

5 Ways to get your kids to go green

Beautiful broccoliMy tween went on a hunt today to find something green to wear tomorrow so that she won’t get pinched on St. Patrick’s Day. Her quest got me thinking that this holiday might just be the perfect excuse inspiration to encourage kids not just to wear green, but to eat more green.

 

Here are a few ideas that seem to be working around my house:

 

Keep it smooth

My teen and youngest are now hooked on my magic smoothies, which include spinach and go from green to red once you add in berries.

Add it in!

Whenever I make pasta I try to throw in some spinach or other greens too. I figure the more my kids see it on their plate, the more likely they are to eat it.

 

Make it easyTween eating lime

I make little baggies of cut up veggies and put them in the fridge so my kids can grab them as a quick snack.

 

Use the power of TV

While there are plenty of TV shows and ads that might have your child reaching for junk food–there might just be a few that could encourage them eat their veggies. For example, my youngest is a huge fan of the BBC Merlin series. She’s entranced with all things English. So when I mentioned that there were “English” cucumbers she decided they’re now her favorite.

 

Be an example

If you like greens, chances are your kids will too.

 

 

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Quick kitchen tip: roasted peppers and onions

peppersI’m always looking for ways to cut cooking times while still making meals flavorful. I’ve found one way to do that is to double up on ingredients when I’m making meals.

 

Last week I roasted a whole pan of yellow and red peppers and onions for fajitas on one night. With the leftovers I pureed the peppers into a shrimp dish the following night and still had some for rice too.

 

Here’s a few ways you could go through a pan of roasted peppers during the week:

  • Puree them into spaghetti sauce
  • Chop up to use in quesadillas
  • Add into omelets
  • Mix into casseroles
  • Toss in with pasta dishes

You get the idea!

 

Easy roasting: Cut 4-5 red and yellow peppers into strips along with 2 medium-sized white onions. Place all of the slivered veggies into a plastic bag and add in 1 tbsp. olive oil (I used garlic olive oil). Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt. Shake the bag to coat the veggies with the oil. Pour onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil. Roast at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or until the ends just begin to get crisped.

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Thanksgiving recipe round-up

What about pumpkin pie...and cheesecake?

Gearing up for the big Thanksgiving holiday?  Here are some recipes to make quick appetizers, yummy sides, and desserts for the big day. Also, if you’re looking to learn a little bit more about the first Thanksgiving, check out my post at WanderingEducators.

Appetizers

Forget the crackers and cheese tray: These appetizers will impress your guests, without you spending hours in the kitchen.

Veggie quesadillas

Throw together these quesadillas for a quick pre-meal munchie for guests.

Edamame Spread

Maggie Long of the Ann Arbor’s Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery serves this edamame spread with pizza pieces, you could use sourdough bread slices.

Peanut Butter Cinnamon Hummus

Crisp pita chips to go along with this hummus that uses peanut butter in place of tahini sauce.

Sides

Add dried cranberries to give the bistro green beans a holiday flare

Looking to tweak your stand-by holiday sides just a little? These recipes will give you some ideas.

Whipped mashed potatoes

Use your hand-held blender and extra milk to make your potatoes extra creamy.

Bistro green beans

Update your green bean dish with this recipe. Bonus: it won’t take up oven space.

Butter crescent rolls

Looking for a no-fail roll recipe? This IS it.

Dessert

Along with pumpkin pie, why not try some of these tempting sweets too?

Achatz apple pie

Michigan’s premiere pie maker, Wendy Achatz, passed along this simple recipe. Start peeling the apples…

Raspberry tart

Use a pre-made piecrust in a tart pan for something a little fancier than pie. And don’t worry, this dessert only looks hard to make.

Pumpkin cookies

Why not put the pumpkin in cookies instead of pie this year? Just Baked’ s Pam Turkin shares her recipe.

Chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake

Usually, I save this for Christmas, but my teen has been begging for us to have this on Thanksgiving too.

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What to do with 10 pounds of tomatoes

“You can get a deal if you buy a box,” a woman offered as I was picking over Roma tomatoes at one of my favorite local grocers, Miles Market. For $5 you could buy a 10-pound box of slightly bruised Romas. I debated. Lately I’ve been trying to trim my grocery bill by planning my dinners a week ahead of time and making sure that whatever I buy, I use. But to get a whole box of Romas for the price I usually pay for a few? I caved and bought the box. Now I’m quickly trying to use every last tomato.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been cooking to make it through all of my tomatoes:

Simple marinara: I blended 20 cut tomatoes with 2 large cloves garlic and 1 cup fresh basil then I added it to a pan of about 4 tablespoons heated olive oil. I simmered the sauce for about 20 minutes then added a dash of cayenne pepper. I served this over pasta with fresh Parmesan cheese. Simple, tasty. I froze the extra sauce.

Homemade enchilada sauce: Instead of adding canned tomatoes to my homemade enchilada sauce, I added in fresh ones. Usually I’d roast and seed the tomatoes but this time I just threw them in skins, seeds, and all.

Tomato Chutney: This yummy recipe from Attainable Sustainable uses plenty of ripe tomatoes; it cans well too.

Chipotle Pico de Gallo: Fresh salsa anyone? The only drawback to pico de gallo and my stack of tomatoes is that this salsa doesn’t keep.

Roasted Tomato-Arbol Salsa: Roasted tomatoes are the key to a really great salsa so I was going to make this one from Rick Bayless. I’m adding some ancho chiles along with the arbol. Plus, this salsa will keep in the refrigerator for days. I’ll be tripling the batch, then freezing some.

Caprese salad: My tomatoes might be getting a bit too squishy for this, but I love caprese salad with its slices of fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and a drizzling of olive oil. Looking at Frugal Kiwi’s post this week about mozzarella, I’ve really been wanting to give cheese making a try. For now, I’m making caprese omelets where my quickly ripening tomatoes are just perfect.

Your turn–what would make with 10 pounds of ripe tomatoes?

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Homemade hasbrowns

Okay, let’s just get this out of the way—I know that picking up a bag from the freezer section in the grocery store and making those hash browns might be easier. But tastier? Not close.

I’m all for taking shortcuts in the kitchen, especially if it tastes just the same—or better–as when you make it from scratch. Case in point: green bean casserole. That ever-present Thanksgiving favorite topped with French’s onions. I’ve gone so far as to fry my own onion pieces for the topping and crafted a cream of mushroom soup. And the results weren’t worth the effort. But hash browns are another story.

First off, I have no idea what kind of potatoes they’re using in the store-bought versions, and I’m picky about my hash brown potatoes, I like to use either red or Yukon gold. Both are softer and have more flavor than your standard Idaho potato. I also like to leave the skin on the outside of the potato.

I also take an extra step to the hash browns by boiling them in water first (as you would for mashed or potato salad) before frying. I cook them until they’re just soft, before throwing them on the skillet. My goal—soft hash browns on the inside, crisped on the outside.

Still not convinced it’s worth the effort to slice a bag of potatoes? One last try—I double the batch so that I can use the potatoes in other dishes throughout the week. We make breakfast burritos, thick chowders, and other meals by mixing in some of these pre-cooked potatoes.

Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes + cooking

Servings: 4

Ingredients

5 medium-sized red potatoes

½ cup onions, diced

3 Tablespoons oil, divided

1 Tablespoon butter

salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Place a pot of salted water on the stovetop and heat to boiling.
  2. Wash and dry the potatoes.
  3. Dice into pinky-sized pieces.
  4. Place the potato pieces into the boiling water.
  5. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are just barely soft.
  6. On a large griddle, alternatively—two large skillets, heat the 1 tablespoon oil to medium-high. (The more heated surface area you have the more crisped the potato pieces will be.)
  7. Add the onions and cook until translucent, set aside.
  8. Add 2 more tablespoons oil to the griddle.
  9. Place the potato pieces onto the hot oil on the griddle.
  10. Let the potatoes cook, without stirring often, until they start to crisp and add the butter halfway through cooking (about 5 minutes in).
  11. Sprinkle the potato pieces liberally with salt and pepper, stir to crisp all sides and mix the onions back into the hash browns.
  12. Serve.
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French broccoli soup

Sure my kids ask for seconds of roasted asparagus and whipped purple potatoes, but I couldn’t coax them past a few tries of this recipe for broccoli soup. But I didn’t mind. I wanted the leftovers. Ever since I tried the recipe a few weeks ago, I’ve been having it for lunch nearly everyday since.

I do have hope for my kids–see, this recipe comes from my mom. When she claimed she’d been making it for years, I called her bluff, “But, I’ve never had it?!” I told her. “No, you wouldn’t try it, but I’ve been making it,” she explained. Hum, maybe she wanted leftovers too; and maybe, just maybe my kids will be calling and asking for this recipe someday (although I’m still going to offer it to them whenever I get the chance).

Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes, start to finish

Servings: 4


Ingredients

2 cups broccoli, chopped, leaves and stem included (if desired)

1 cup celery, chopped

1/3 cup parsley, torn into pieces

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon cornstarch

3-4 cups chicken broth

Parmesan cheese shavings, for serving

Heavy cream (optional)

1/4 teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Placed the chopped broccoli, cauliflower, garlic and parsley in a heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven.
  2. Pour the chicken broth over the veggies (you can add more than 4 cups, depending on your desired thickness; I rarely measure, I just pour until it covers the broccoli about 1/2 an inch).
  3. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the veggies are soft; discard the garlic clove.
  4. In batches, puree the veggies and broth until smooth. Return the mixture to the pan. (I also stir in cayenne pepper or hot paprika at this point to give it a kick.)
  5. In a small cup, whisk the cornstarch with some of the soup, then stir it into the rest, bring it to a simmer, reduce heat and serve.
  6. Top individual servings with Parmesan cheese.

*A note from mom: the original recipe calls for you to stir in heavy cream. When she serves it to guests, she puts warmed cream on the table for those who want to add it in, but she doesn’t use it. I don’t either–it doesn’t need it.

Your turn–do you have a favorite dish your secretly glad your kids aren’t crazy about because then you can have the leftovers?

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3 secrets to better shish kabobs

Food + stick = bliss. Yeah, I’m talking shish kabobs one of my favorite reasons to fire up the grill. But kabobs are deceptively tricky–the meat/veggie combo means you have to balance getting your meat cooked just right while not burning the veggies past recognition.

Here’s a few ideas for better kabobs:

Keep ‘em separate. I don’t grill the meat and the veggies together anymore. Nope. I make skewers with all one item to make sure I can grill it just right (confession: hubby mans the bbq). Chicken. Sausage. Peppers. Onions. They all get their own skewer.

Skewer savvy. Hey, but what about that lovely photo that has them combined?, you ask. I put them together post-grill. Yes, this takes more work but everything is cooked perfectly that way. Since I’m doing just one ingredient per skewer, I use larger skewers for the grill, then when I re-skewer I put the pieces on smaller ones. You can use the hole that’s already there or make a new one. If it’s just my family, I don’t even bother to re-skewer, I just put the cooked pieces in the middle of the table on a large platter. When I make these to take to a picnic, I’ll re-skewer then leave them in a just-warm oven until it’s time to go.

Photo credit: Goya

Mojo. Why go through all the trouble of creating your own marinade when you can use Mojo sauce? Goya has several varieties. I like criollo (basic) or chipotle. If your meat is frozen, let it sit overnight in the fridge to thaw in the marinade.

Your turn–kabob fan? Any tricks you want to share?

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Bistro green beans

Poor green beans are often overlooked–or worse, stuffed into casseroles where their flavor disappears altogether. Maybe green beans ho-hum status comes because unlike other produce, you can usually find fresh green beans year round. And if they’re not readily available there, you can find them canned or in the freezer section.

So how do you bring out green beans’ flavor without coating them in sauce? First, don’t overcook them. No one likes mushy green beans.

To keep green beans crisp I like to blanch them. Never blanched? It’s easy. Bring a gallon of water to a boil in a medium-sized pan add a handful of salt. Wash a pound or so of green beans and snap off the ends. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes or just until barely tender. Immediately drain them and plunge them into ice-cold water for the same amount of time. Drain.

One advantage of blanched beans is that they can sit while you’re preparing the rest of your meal and then one more quick trip in a sauté pan and they’re heated and ready to go along with the rest of your meal.

Now you’re ready to give them a little extra flavor kick. I like some sourness and spice to add some zing to green beans. I sauté them with a bit of olive oil that’s been heating with a pinch of red pepper flakes and toss them briefly in the oil. To finish them I squeeze about a ½ tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. (If you don’t have fresh lemon, a flavored vinegar like red wine or Trader Joe’s orange champagne works well too.)

That’s it. Flavorful, bright green beans that will have your family asking for seconds!

Recipe

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 20 minutes or less

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh or frozen whole green beans (for frozen, I like haricot vert)

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or 1 teaspoon flavored vinegar)

¼ cup slivered almonds

sea salt to taste

pinch of red pepper flakes (or cayenne powder; optional)

Directions

  1. Wash the green beans and trim the ends.
  2. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil (add in a dash of salt).
  3. Submerge the green beans into the boiling water for about 3 minutes.
  4. Drain and immediately place in ice-cold water for 3 minutes. Drain.
  5. In a sauté pan bring the olive oil to medium high heat. Toss in the green beans and almonds.
  6. Saute for 1-2 minutes or just until heated through.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Toss. Serve.
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Fun veggie garnishes

Yes, these are little flowers made out of carrots, zucchini, green onions and bean sprouts. While I’d love to say that this was all a terribly creative tactic to get my kids to eat healthier, well, it’s not really. I just think it’s fun. My kids do too.

But hey, that’s not to say they don’t enjoy eating their greens just a little bit more because they look even more appealing. You want to give it a try too–don’t you?

Here are some of my favorite plate dress-ups featuring an assortment of greens:

Green onion flowers:

Using the end of the green onion stem, cut in straight from the end to about one-inch. Work in a circle to make several of these slits. Press the cut ends onto a flat surface so that they spread apart.

Carrot & zucchini flowers:

I have mini cookie cutters for making Linzer cookies that I’ve found also work to make veggie shapes. Press carrots, zucchinis, cucumbers, even green peppers or other sturdy, relatively flat veggies into different shapes. Even if you don’t have mini-cookie cutters as long as you have a big enough veggie slices you can create whatever shape you want (I have a tree shape for Christmas, a heart for Valentine’s Day and even a cactus for Southwestern meals).

Spinach backgrounds:

Chicken Parmesan topped with pesto, cream & spinach, veggie flowers

Make those flowers even more dramatic on the plate by adding a dark spinach leaf as a background. My kids don’t even ask what the decorations are made of anymore–they just smile and eat ‘em up.

Check out more ideas on how to get your kids eating more veggies and other health foods through games, tips and other tricks on Motherboard.

Your turn–are you a veggie decorator? Or do you have ways you decorate your plate (well, and your kids’) with a few greens?

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Why aren’t you eating…baby bok choy

You know I’m a fan of all things in miniature–mini-challah bread, mini-quiches–so when I found mini boy choy, well I had to get some. I like to add regular-sized boy choy into stir-fries and even sneak them into sandwiches. So the idea of using small ones, without even having to chop them up immediately appealed to me–and my kids.

I found baby boy choy at my neighborhood Asian grocers (I’ve never seen it at the regular grocery store). After rinsing them you can use them whole in any dish where you’d use the normal variety. With the cook times, I add them when I would green onions and they seem to cook up in much the same way.

Yesterday for lunch I made a quick stir-fry by adding fresh garlic and ginger to about 1/2 Tablespoon of oil and then I added chopped baby bella (yeah, baby) mushrooms, green onions and baby bok choy. After sauteing that for just a few minutes, I added in about 1/2 cup chicken broth, a 1/2 tablespoon of hoisin sauce. I heated that for a couple minutes then added it over rice. Yum.

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