Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We're Moving!

On November 1, 2011, we will be moving back to a blogspot address.  Our new address will be:

If you want to be able to find us after November 1, please update your bookmarks!

Celeste and I had a lot of fun starting up Itty Bitty Bistro back in 2008, but our girls have gotten a lot bigger, a lot less picky, and we have both moved on to other projects.  We're not ready to lose our recipes (or our memories!), but we are ready to ditch the custom domain payments  :-)

Kara :-)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Chickpea Sauce

This was a little sauce I threw together yesterday, and I was so pleased with how it turned out.  We've had a stomach bug going around our family, so I wanted something kind of gentle to serve.  The sauce tasted kind of like hummus, which the girls adore, and we served it over brown rice.  It didn't photograph well at all, so this is just a recipe!

Chickpea Sauce (in the slow cooker)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
ground cumin
dried oregano
salt & pepper
2 to 3 potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thin
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups stock (veggie or chicken)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes

Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.  Season with ground cumin,  dried oregano, and salt and pepper to taste; I used about 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of oregano, and a few shakes of salt and pepper.  We would probably do more cumin in the future, but tailor to your family's taste buds.  Cook 1 minute more.

In the slow cooker, combine the potatoes, chickpeas, stock, tomatoes, and cooked onions.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until potatoes are very tender.  I used a hand blender to puree most of the sauce, leaving a few chunky chick peas and potato pieces.  You could also (carefully!) blend some portion of the sauce in the blender or mash it by hand.

This was a great sauce for brown rice, but we will be having the leftovers over pasta.  We served some raw veggies as a side dish and had one of the most pleasant, food battle-free dinners we've had in a while!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Overnight Waffles

These waffles have been the biggest hit in my Breakfast Initiative.  Every time that I make them, the girls both get so excited - and so does my husband!  The big advantage to this recipe is that instead of having to whip up some egg whites to fold into the batter (like just about every waffle recipe out there), it uses yeast.  The only disadvantage is that the batter has to be made at least 12 hours before cooking - I'm not used to planning out breakfast the evening before, so I have to make a conscious effort to remember to get these done when I'm making dinner.

Overnight Waffles

1 3/4 cups milk (any kind - I've used skim, 1%, and whole)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the milk and butter together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Let cool until just slightly warm.

Whisk together the flours, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk in the warm milk until smooth.  Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Heat the waffle iron.  Remove the batter from the fridge (it should have about doubled in size) and whisk to recombine and deflate.  Make waffles according to your waffle maker's instructions.  
If there are leftovers, they heat up excellently in the toaster the next day!

Monday, January 3, 2011

English Muffins

My goal for this school year has been to accustom Abby to eating a real breakfast.  If it were up to Abby, she would have a single slice of toast and a glass of water in the morning.  Over the summer, I let that go - after all, we were home, I could feed her as needed.  But now that she's one year away from kindergarten, and in preschool now, I want her to get used to anchoring her stomach and her brain with a real breakfast.  This has forced both of us to change our habits - her to try some new things, and me to actually make something besides toast or cold cereal!

I've been really happy with how the first few months of this school year have gone.  One easy change has been to introduce Abby to homemade English muffins.  They are a little heartier than toast, and they make an excellent base for breakfast sandwiches.

English Muffins

1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 3/4 tsp bread machine yeast (a.k.a., rapid rise yeast)

cornmeal (for dusting the work surface)

Pull out those bread machines!  Mine now sits out in my kitchen full-time.  I love that thing.

Place all ingredients (except for the cornmeal) in the bread pan and program for the dough cycle.

When the cycle is finished, turn the dough ball out onto a work surface dusted lightly with cornmeal.  Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Using a 3- or 4-inch biscuit cutter, cut out muffins.  Roll the trimmings and repeat.  (If you try to re-roll a second time, the muffins get pretty tough - but if you don't to waste any dough, go for it!).  

I use a lightly greased electric griddle heated to 350F to cook them.  If you don't have a griddle, use whatever you use when you make pancakes.  Place several muffins on the griddle and cook for about 8 minutes.  Turn them and cook about 8 minutes more - until they are quite brown on both sides.  They will swell and be very puffy while baking!  Let them cool on a rack.

To eat them, puncture the perimeter with the tines of a fork and pull them apart. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mulligatawny Soup

I'm realllllly trying to get the girls to eat soup.  Any kind of soup.  We've been at work on this for a year, and they still groan when I serve soup.  The most success I have is with brothy soups, I think because the girls can identify the ingredients better.  I've loved this Mulligatawny Soup for years (I originally got the recipe from Better Homes and Gardens, so no claims that it's "authentic"), and the girls will grudgingly pick out some of the carrots and turkey and raisins and rice.  I almost always have the ingredients on hand, and it's darned tasty.  Someday, I hope the girls will agree!

Mulligatawny Soup

4-5 cups chicken broth
2 apples, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
14 oz diced tomatoes
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup brown rice
1 small or medium onion, chopped
1 big handful of raisins
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 lb ground turkey, cooked

In a large pot, combine all ingredients aside from the ground turkey.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until rice is tender.  Add turkey.  Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sloppy Joe Casserole

I adored Sloppy Joe Casserole when I was growing up - it was a recipe from my grandma, and I thought it was the best thing ever.  I made it all the time when my husband and I were first married, but somehow it fell out of the rotation over time.  I made it for my kids the other night, and Abby devoured her bowl and asked for seconds - a rare event!  Time for this recipe to make a comeback!

The original recipe (which is such a 1950's kind of recipe) calls for a packet of sloppy joe mix, but I season the sauce myself.  This allows me to adjust the spice level for my kids and avoid whatever oddities are lurking in those packets!

Sloppy Joe Casserole

1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
8 oz small pastas (elbows or shells), cooked
16 oz small curd low-fat cottage cheese
1 large can tomato sauce (15 oz, I think?)
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp white vinegar
onion & garlic powder
Optional:  shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Cook the turkey and the onion together.  Toss in a large bowl with the pasta and the cottage cheese.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, mustard, and vinegar.  Add onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper to taste (and more worcestershire or mustard - or add some Tabasco to give it kick!).  Don't add any salt - the cottage cheese is pretty salty already.  Pour the sauce over the pasta mix and stir well.

Pour the pasta mix into a 2-qt casserole dish.  (Optional:  top with shredded cheddar cheese)  Bake until heated through, about 25-30 minutes.  This dish can be prepared early in the day and baked at dinner time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Flax-Wheat Rolls

It's been a while!  My cooking obsessions over the summer trended to things like learning how to make my own sausage, and my kids were good eaters all summer - they love the simple fare that a summer night calls for.  Now that we're back to school and entering the dark times at the grocery store (as produce in New England is sadder and less kid-friendly), I'm back to working hard for my kids.  Darn!

The other night was soup night, much to the girls' chagrin.  I've been serving soup once a week all year, and they still hate it.  They will now at least take little bites of the components they can recognize.  To compensate, I've been making these rolls to serve on soup nights - something hearty, with ingredients I feel good about.  Plus, these rolls are fantastic with scrambled eggs for breakfast the next morning!

Flax-Wheat Rolls

2/3 cup milk 
1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
4 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast (also called instant yeast)

Place all the ingredients in a bread machine pan and program the machine for the dough cycle.

When the dough cycle has ended, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in half, then roll each half into a cylinder with about a 2-3 inch diameter.  Cut each cylinder into eight pieces (so you have 16 rolls all together).  Shape each piece into a nice roll shape (ignore the shape in the picture - I was trying something different and didn't like how they turned out!)  Cover with a clean towel and let rise for about 40 minutes, until about doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375F.  (Optional:  brush some melted butter over the tops of the rolls.)  Bake the rolls on parchment-lined baking sheets for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve warm - that's the best part!

* * * * * 

I'm going to try to be around a bit more - I've had some other ideas rolling around, and I've made a few kid-friendly dinners that have been big hits lately.  I've tasked myself with taking charge of our family's breakfast this year (i.e., not just having cereal and toast every morning!), and I have some make-ahead waffles that we are all crazy for.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Artichoke Hummus

I made this dip to bring to a playgroup yesterday, thinking that only the mommies would really go for it. After all, as I made it, Abby watched me and said "Oh yuck! I don't like artichokes! They are the yuckiest!" Even when I pointed out that she had never had an artichoke, or at least not in a long time, she maintained that they were the yuckiest, end of story.

As it turned out, the kids at the playgroup flocked to the veggies and dip, even bringing it down to their own kiddie table to share. And when my girls needed an afternoon snack, they requested the leftovers! So while I didn't take a picture of the dip per se, I do have a picture of the girls going at the dip and - even better! - scarfing down a bunch of veggies in the process!

Artichoke Hummus

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can/jar of artichoke hearts, drained (I used a 12 oz jar, but I think the cans come in 14 oz sizes)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt (add to taste)

In a food processor, blend beans, artichoke hearts, lemon juice, rosemary, and olive oil together until smooth. Add kosher salt to taste, blending well after each addition of salt. Garnish with sweet paprika, if desired, and serve with lots of fresh-cut veggies!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chicken Baked in Curry-Peanut Sauce

I failed to get a picture of this dish, as my camera battery had died - but it is chicken breasts baked in a beige sauce. Not that photogenic! It was, however, delicious. Both girls gobbled their chicken right up. Abby said, "Mommy, this sauce is so tasty! Thank you!" So, woo!

This recipe made about twice as much sauce as I needed for the 5 chicken breasts I was baking, so I popped half of it in the freezer for a future tasty dinner.

Chicken Baked in Curry-Peanut Sauce

1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (if you're not a big fan of ginger, use less)
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I always use reduced sodium)
1 tsp red Thai curry paste
1 1/4 cups light coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

4-6 chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients (except for the chicken breasts). (Or put the ingredients in a bowl and use your immersion blender, if you have a nifty little one like I do!) Blend them until smooth.

Place chicken breasts in a 9x13 baking dish and pour sauce all over. Freeze any leftover sauce. Bake chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165F - for me, this was somewhere between 35-45 minutes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Creamy Asparagus Soup

I bought one of those 2-lb bags of asparagus from Costco (indeed, I adore Costco and it's mountains of produce!) for roasting up alongside out Easter lamb - but when the time came, I was just not in the mood for asparagus. So I needed to use it up, and I was in the mood for a creamy soup. I used potato to help thicken the base, so I could use just two cups of 1% milk instead of cream, butter, etc. - and I achieved an incredibly creamy soup.

As with all soups, my kids were a little iffy on this. Abby ended up eating about half of her bowl, though not without some prodding. Lizzy tried a bite... which is, well, something at least!

Creamy Asparagus Soup

2 lbs of asparagus, washed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp dried lemon peel
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups of stock (vegetable or chicken)
2 cups of milk (I used 1%)

In a large pot, stir together asparagus, onion, celery, olive oil, dill, lemon peel, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have begun to soften.

Add potato and stock. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until potato is soft enough to fall apart easily. Stir in milk.

Use an immersion blender to puree soup (or, puree in a blender, working in batches. Be careful when blending piping hot soup!!). Continue to keep warm over low heat until ready to serve.