Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oatmeal #3

Oatmeal #3 - Pumpkin Spice
(serves 1)

1 packet of flax & oats instant oatmeal
2 Tbsp. canned pumpkin
2 Tbsp. applesauce
1/4 cup boiling hot water
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Serve!

This was pretty tasty I must say! I snuck a bite or two before serving it to Neko who polished off the rest. A nice fall twist on boring old oatmeal.

Hamburger Helper the Hard Way...

...only its not hard, its easy! Some people call this Goulash some call it American Chop Suey. Growing up for me it was goulash and its ingredients were different every time. This is the most basic version I could think of. Neko devoured many bowls of this throughout the week. These are flavors I think most toddlers can get behind.

(8-10 servings)

1 lb. 90% lean ground beef
1 box whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
1 med. yellow onion, diced
2 tsp. paprika (I used Hungarian half sharp)
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. oregano
salt to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain.
2. In a large, deep saute pan brown the ground beef over med-high heat. Drain and set aside.
3. Add olive oil to the pan and saute the onions over med-high heat until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add the ground beef back to the pan and season with paprika, oregano and salt.
5. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
7. Stir in the macaroni. Serve with some shredded cheddar cheese on top of each serving.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Meatloaf Cut-Outs

You have not lived until you have eaten meatloaf... in the shape of an angel. This was a wildly successful dinner for Abby, but taught me that I should maybe expand my cookie cutter collection beyond Christmas-themed cutters!

Meatloaf Cut-Outs
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 15-20 minutes

1 lb ground beef
2 slices of bread, pulsed into fresh bread crumbs
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp mustard
onion powder, salt, and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F, and lightly coat a 9x13" baking pan with non-stick spray. In a bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, egg white, tomato paste, and mustard. Add onion powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix until very well combined.

Spread the meat in a thin, even layer across the 9x13" pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven and blot off grease with paper towels, if needed. Let the meatloaf cool for a few minutes, and then cut out shapes with cookie cutters.

Mom and Dad can eat the scraps, or else chop them up fine to use in a meat sauce for pasta, sloppy joes, etc. Abby had a fun time picking out her shapes and ate up her whole plate. Obviously, you can use your own favorite recipe for meatloaf in making this!

Friday, September 26, 2008

PB&J Oatmeal-to-Go

The ideal: have a family breakfast with your child every morning at the table. The reality: there are mornings when you just need to hurry and feed your child breakfast on the go! These bars are a bowl of oatmeal in bar form... and a lot easier to eat in the car! Warning: they are barely sweetened, so add more syrup if you want them to be more like a cookie.

PB&J Oatmeal-to-Go
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes

1/2 cup milk or milk substitute (rice milk, soy, etc.)
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
4-5 tsp jelly

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8x8" baking pan with non-stick spray. Whisk together the milk, egg whites, applesauce, maple syrup, peanut butter, canola oil, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well combined. Stir in the oats until well mixed. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Dollop the jelly by half-teaspoonfuls into 9 mounds onto the batter. Bake for 25 minutes, until the bars are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut into 9 bars, so that one jelly dollop is in the center of each bar. Enjoy!

Abby loves these - and as a bonus for dieting mommies, as prepared each bar is about 100 calories! Woohoo!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dippin' Dinner Date

Like many toddlers, Abby loves to dip her food. So when Neko came over last night, I created a dinner date devoted to dippable food. It was a big hit with these kids! Toddler smiles all around!

Chicken Parmesan Nuggets with Oven Root Fries and V-8 "Ketchup"

Chicken Parmesan Nuggets
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes

1 lb ground chicken
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
8 oz fresh mozzarella (1 3/4 oz bocconcini balls will work best)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Generously spray a wire rack with non-stick spray and set it over a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.

In a large bowl, mix the ground chicken, egg, egg white, Parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup of the seasoned bread crumbs together until well mixed. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Gather up golf-ball-sized blobs of ground chicken mix with your hands; drop the blob into the bread crumbs and press it into nugget size (think the size and shape of a McNugget). Coat both sides of the nugget with bread crumbs; set the nugget on the wire rack and repeat with remaining meat.

Slice the mozzarella into 1/4-1/2 inch-thick rounds; top each nugget with a round of cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and nuggets are cooked through. Serve with marinara sauce, ketchup, or the V-8 ketchup below!

Oven Root Fries
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes

1 sweet potato, scrubbed and peeled
1 baking potato, scrubbed and peeled
2 parsnips, scrubbed and peeled
1 cup baby carrots
4 Tbsp olive oil
coarse salt & pepper

Cut all the vegetables into equal-size "fries" (I aimed for the size and shape of a typical fast food fry). Set them in a bowl of very hot tap water. Preheat the oven to 450F. When the oven is heated, drain and rinse the vegetables. Pat them dry with a paper towel, and then toss them with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Line a rimmed sheet with foil. Spread the foil with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and generously coat with coarse salt. Spread the vegetables on the foil in a single layer. Bake for 30 minutes total, stirring and turning the vegetables about every 5 minutes, until vegetables are crisping on the outside.

V-8 "Ketchup"
Prep time: 10 minutes

8 oz V-8
1 Tbsp tomato pasta
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp onion powder

Whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Set aside to cool, placing some plastic wrap directly on top of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming.

Chocolate-Yogurt Dip
Prep time: 5 minutes

6 oz of plain or vanilla yogurt
2 Tbsp agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
3 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Whisk all ingredients together. Plain yogurt will yield a dip with tang; if you want sweeter, use vanilla yogurt. Serve with fruit and/or Whole Wheat Angel Bites!

Whole Wheat Angel Bites

Angel food cake makes such a great guilty pleasure - low in fat, fairly low in calories.... but, it's basically just white flour and white sugar. I wanted to whole wheat-ize the traditional recipe and size it for toddler hands. These have the fluff of angel food cake, but with a slightly heartier texture and nuttier taste. Warning: these are an addictive treat that are all-too-easy to pop in your mouth!

Whole Wheat Angel Bites
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 10-13 minutes

2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
3 egg whites
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350F and generously spray a mini-muffin tin with non-stick spray. In a small bowl, sift together the flours and 2 Tbsp of the sugar. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with the maple syrup, lemon juice, salt and cream of tartar until frothy; add the remaining tablespoon of sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.

Gently sprinkle about 1/3 of the dry mixture on top of the egg whites and very gently fold it in; repeat the sprinkling and folding process until all of the dry mix is incorporated.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cups - I made about 20 mini muffins, filling each tin generously. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until the cakes are golden and a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Everyone's garden tomatoes are finally ripe and ready to be eaten and they are giving them all to me! So basically its tomato week in our house. Get ready for LOTS of tomato recipes!

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
(serves 6)

8 or 9 plum tomatoes, washed and diced into chunks
1 med yellow onion, chopped
2 c. chicken stock
3-4 tbsp. fresh basil, sliced into thin strips
3/4c. skim milk (or 2%, whole, etc....the higher the fat content the creamier the soup!)
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. In a small frying pan saute the chopped onion in a little bit of olive oil until tender
2. In a sauce pan bring the stock, tomatoes, onion and basil to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes.
3. Stir in the milk.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Blend soup in a blender in small batches. Make sure to take the center plastic piece out of the blender lid to allow steam to escape.
6. Pour into serving bowls and serve! (Hopefully with a melty grilled cheese sandwich!)

Apple Pickin' Chicken

Its that time of year! If you've been celebrating fall with some apple picking then you have a big ol' bowl of apples and are looking for ways to use them. This recipe is sweet, succulent and superb! I wouldn't say it if it wasn't true.

Apple Pickin' Chicken
(serves 2)

2 chicken breasts
1 med. Vidalia onion, sliced
2 apples, sliced (your choice although slightly tart/bold apples work best - Macintosh, granny smith, etc.)
1 cup of apple cider
1 cup of chicken stock
Salt and pepper
olive oil
Cinnamon and nutmeg

1. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on each side of the chicken breasts. In a large pan, heat a little bit of oil and then brown the chicken on both sides. Remove the chicken and set aside.
2. Add a touch more oil to the pan and then lightly saute the onions. Add the stock, apple cider and apples, then return the chicken breast to the pan.
3. Spoon some of the stock/apple/cider mixture over the chicken, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Double check the chicken to make sure it's cooked all the way through then slice and place on a plate. Spoon some apples and onions over the top then sprinkle some cinnamon and nutmeg for flavor. Serve!

For those with additional time, brining the chicken for a couple of hours with some all-spice, cinnamon sticks, etc. would add a ton of flavor.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Curried Carrot Slaw

I made this curried carrot slaw to go alongside some roasted chicken tonight - it was a huge hit! Abby chomped it all right down... and so did I! A full teaspoon of curry gave it more kick than I thought it would, but Abby still liked it. Take it down a bit if your kiddo is not ready for spiciness.

Curried Carrot Slaw
Prep time: 10 minutes

10 oz bag shredded carrots (they sell these right in the grocery store... or you could grate your own carrots)
1 apple, cut into matchstick-size shreds
1/2 cup raisins
3-4 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise (Trader Joe's reduced fat mayo is great!)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder (or less)
1/4 tsp cumin
salt & pepper

Mix the carrots, apple, and raisins together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 3 Tbsp mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry, and cumin. Toss the dressing with the carrot mixture; add more mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vegan Gingerbread

My younger daughter is sensitive to milk proteins, which has forced me to investigate the world of vegan baking. As it turns out, this coincides nicely with my desire to find lower-fat recipes! This gingerbread is a great snack with some apple slices on a fall day or with a dollop of whipped cream or jelly for dessert. It is so light and fluffy, you won't miss the eggs or butter!

Vegan Gingerbread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes

This needs to go into the oven immediately after it is mixed, so make sure your baking pan and oven are ready to go!

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp applesauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup soy milk
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F; spray an 8x8" pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, spices). In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, applesauce, maple syrup, molasses, milk, vinegar, and vanilla extract until well-blended. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until blended; immediately pour into your baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dried Fruit Multigrain Pilaf

Yummmmm. This was really good. It didn't look quite so red in person... This was our side dish to dinner tonight, and Abby loved it!

Dried Fruit Multigrain Pilaf
Total time: 1 1/2 - 2 hours

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 1/4 + 1/2 cup water
1 stick cinnamon (about 1 inch long)
1/2 vanilla bean, split open
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup assorted dried fruit (raisins, currants, golden raisins, papaya, apricots, craisins...)
1/4 cup wheat berries
1/2 cup brown rice
1/4 cup barley
1/4 cup steel-cut oats

In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup water with the dried fruit. Set aside.

In a pot, combine the juices and water, the cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, spices and salt. Bring to a boil. Add the wheat berries and simmer for 45-60 minutes. Add the brown rice and barley, and bring back to a boil, and then simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add the oats and dried fruit (and the water the dried fruit was soaking in) and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, until grains are tender and liquid is absorbed.

Abby and I both slurped this all down, and honestly, I'll probably have the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Autumnal Equinox Dinner Date!

To celebrate the start of fall (which I think is officially Monday) I concocted a harvest themed meal for the tots. On the menu was turkey breast stuffed with cranberry pumpkin seed Kashi pilaf, cider glazed sweet potatoes and pumpkin pudding for dessert. It was a MISS, HIT, HIT meal.

Turkey Breasts stuffed with
Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Kashi
(serves 2 + leftover Kashi)
zero toddler smiles :o(
1 package of Kashi 12 grain pilaf
2-1/2 c. chicken or turkey stock
1/4 c. dried cranberries
2 tbsp. toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 turkey breasts
2 tsp. olive oil
1. Prepare Kashi according to package directions except replace the water with the chicken or turkey stock. While cooking, add the cranberries, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. When fully cooked, stir in the pumpkin seeds. Set aside.

2. Ok, part of where this recipe went wrong for me but will hopefully go right for you is that I thought I bought full turkey breasts but when I got the package home I realized I had split (and split again!) breast meat. Assuming you have a full breast proceed as follows...using a sharp knife, butterfly the breast. Place between two sheets of waxed paper and flatten with a tenderizing mallet (a rolling pin works good too.) Scoop some of the pilaf onto the breast (enough so that you will still be able to roll it up jelly roll style.) Roll from end to end. Tie with string in each direction.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over med-high heat. Brown turkey breasts on all sides.

4. Place cast iron skillet in the oven and bake uncovered for about an hour. This was WAYYYY too long for mine because the pieces of turkey were so small. I got chatting with Kara and didn't check in on them and by the time the timer went off they were overcooked and dry. :o(

5. Remove from oven and let stand for about 15 minutes before cutting off string. Slice and serve!

The overdoneness of these certainly didn't help their chances of being enjoyed by the girls however I don't think it would have mattered. Both girls seemed equally skeptical and disinterested in them. I thought they might have some "nugget appeal" since you could pick them up and bite them but..well...I was wrong. Live and learn. I can't recommend the pilaf enough (from one adult to another). It was delicious. The girls didn't try it but the Mom's did and it was great! Moving on...

Cider Glazed Sweet Potatoes

(Serves 2)

2 Toddler Smiles!

(Side note: Would someone please tell me why blogger puts these huge spaces in my text?! It's only when I post the numbered instructions and the recipe titles. Its making me crazy!!)

1 large sweet potato

1/2 c. apple cider

1 tbsp. brown sugar

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. cloves

1. Wash, peel, chop and parboil sweet potato until tender.

2. In a small saucepan or fry pan melt the butter over med-high. Stir in the cider, brown sugar and spices until the sugar dissolves.

3. Reduce heat to medium and add the sweet potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes occasionally spooning the cider mixture over the tops of the potatoes.

4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the potatoes from the cider mixture. Serve!

These were thoroughly enjoyed by toddlers and Mommies alike!

Pumpkin Pudding

(serves 4)

2 Toddler Smiles!

1 c. canned pumpkin

2 eggs

6 oz. 2% evaporated milk

1/2 c. sugar

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

cool whip

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl combine the sugar, egg, pumpkin, honey & spices until well mixed.
3. Gradually add milk.
4. Pour into four custard cups or ramekins that coated with nonstick cooking spray.
5. Place in a 9x13 baking dish. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.

6. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 30-35 mins (until knife inserted near the center comes out clean).
7. Top with a dollop of cool whip and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve hot or cold.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!! This is basically crustless pumpkin pie and it was a delicious alternative. It had much less sugar than regular pumpkin pie filling which was actually very nice. This one was gobbled up by the toddlers and the Mom's were happy that this meant they each got 2 servings of orange vegetables tonight!

Great-Grandma's Jelly Donuts

My grandmother and her sisters compiled a cookbook of all of my great-grandma's favorite recipes, and published enough copies for her legions of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren (and more!) to get a copy. This cookbook is full of amazing recipes... including jelly donuts. Since Abby's favorite thing in the world is to get Munchkin donut holes at Dunkin' Donuts, how could I not try my hand at a homemade version? Even if they are no better for you than a commercial donut, at least I know what's in them!

Great-Grandma's Jelly Donuts

1 package active dry yeast
2 Tbsp warm water (100-110F)
1 cup milk (soy milk worked fine)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
4 Tbsp melted butter
4 cups flour
2-3 Tbsp jelly
canola oil, for frying
powdered sugar, for decoration (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dissolved yeast, milk, salt, sugar, egg, 2 Tbsp of the butter and 2 cups of the flour (I did this all in a stand mixer). Beat well, then add the other 2 Tbsp of butter and the other 2 cups of the flour. Mix together until "shaggy", then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and (with floured hands) knead it until it comes together and is somewhat smooth. Put the dough in a large bowl that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, and cover it with a towel. Let rise for 45-60 minutes.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll it out to about 1/2" thick. Cut out rounds with a small round cookie cutter. Place a small blob of jelly on half of the rounds. Wet the edges of the other half of the rounds with a little water, and then cover the jelly rounds, pressing the edges to seal well. Let rest and rise for 30-60 minutes (or, if you are making them way ahead of time, they can be put in the refrigerator overnight and pulled out about 60 minutes before you are ready to fry).

Fill a pot with 3-4 inches of canola oil and heat over high heat. When it is nice and hot, carefully slide donuts in (in batches, no crowding!) and fry on each side for about 30 seconds, until lightly golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain and pat dry with paper towels. If desired, dust with some powdered sugar.

The donuts will look so tasty and tempting when they are fresh out, but let them cool a while! The jelly stays scaldingly hot for a surprising amount of time.... trust me :-) Test one yourself before letting your kiddo dig in!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pasta with Salmon and Peas

As you can probably tell by now, Abby is a pasta kind of kid. Because I know I can call something "noodles" and she is likely to eat it, I use pasta as a bridge to get her to eat different things or try different flavors. So whereas on the face, it looks like a lot of pasta lunches and dinners, she's really trying a whole variety of tastes and flavors... or at least, that's what I tell myself!

Pasta with Salmon and Peas
Total time: 15 minutes

2 cups dry whole wheat pasta
1 cup frozen peas
1 6-oz can of pink salmon, drained
2-3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard (yellow or Dijon)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp nonfat milk
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions. When the pasta has about 5 minutes left to boil, add in the frozen peas. Drain the peas and pasta.

While the pasta is boiling, combine the salmon, 2 Tbsp mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, and milk in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add additional mayonnaise if desired and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the sauce with the pasta and the peas until well combined.

This is a play on tuna noodle casserole - I pureed the salmon because I thought Abby might be suspicious of the little chunks otherwise, and it made for a very creamy sauce without having to use much mayonnaise. Abby thought it was delicious! Hooray for pasta!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pasta Frutta

I was inspired by pasta primavera when I came up with this dish - hence my attempt to Italianize the name! Abby had this as her dinner; since there was some leftover, I added the Buckwheat Meatballs to my portion - it was actually a pretty good combination.

Pasta Frutta
Total time: 15-20 minutes

3 oz dry whole wheat pasta
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
salt & pepper
1/2 ripe peach
1/2 ripe plum
1/2 ripe pear

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the oil, orange juice, vinegar, honey, and a dash of salt and pepper. Dice the fruit into bite-sized cubes. When the pasta is ready, drain it, and then toss it together with the fruit and vinaigrette. Serve!

Abby realllllly liked this, and so did I! This made two generous portions and would easily double. I diced up the other half of the peach, plum, and pear and tossed them with some lemon juice and sugarso that I can make up Whole Grain Fruit Crisp tomorrow for a snack.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Buckwheat Meatballs

A few years ago, my only knowledge of Kasha was in reference to the smell of George Costanza's home on Seinfeld. Well, buckwheat groats (a.k.a., Kasha) do have a strong smell - but they have a great taste, too! And buckwheat blends beautifully with ground beef in these meatballs.

Buckwheat Meatballs
Total time: 60 minutes (but it's a lot of waiting time)

1/2 cup buckwheat groats (or, Kasha)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash pepper

Bring one cup of water to a boil in a small pot; once boiling, stir in the 1/2 cup of buckwheat groats. Lower the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, until water is absorbed and buckwheat is tender. Set aside to cool.

Once buckwheat is cool, put it in a large bowl along with all other ingredients; mix well. Preheat the oven to 400F. Shape the mixture into small meatballs (about 1 - 1.5 inches in diameter). Heat 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and brown meatballs over medium-high heat, stirring until browned on all sides. Place the browned meatballs on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes, until cooked through.

Serve with your favorite pasta sauce and noodles.

Abby loved these - they have a different taste than a traditional meatball, but they are excellent!

Six Food Mistakes Parents Make

The New York Times has a great article on "Six Food Mistakes Parents Make" today. I was happy to see what I've been doing right, and it gives me food for thought as well, as I make some of these mistakes. Go read it!

(And thanks to my friend Adrian for passing it along!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Chicken Pot Pie Dumplings

Chicken Pot Pie Dumplings
(Makes approximately 15 dumplings)

1/2 chicken breast
1 small red potato
1/2 c. baby carrots
1/4 c. frozen peas
1 shallot, diced
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
15 wonton wrappers
2 tsp. olive oil
1 egg white
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute chicken in a little olive oil over med. heat, turning halfway through cooking time until fully cooked. Remove from pan and cut into small chunks. The pieces need to be very small to fit in the wonton wrappers.
2. Slice the potato and carrots, and then in a medium saucepan parboil until almost tender. Drain and dice into very small pieces.
3. Mix the carrots, chicken, potato, peas, garlic and shallot in a large bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave, then add it to the bowl with the milk and flour. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and then mix until flour and milk thickens.
4. In each wonton wrapper, add a tsp or so of filling. Brush egg white along the edges of the wonton then fold in half and pinch closed. Repeat until you have enough wontons to make a meal for your little gourmand.
5. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan, then brown the pot pie bites on both sides. Serve and enjoy!

This was a HUGE success! Neko ate a whopping SEVEN dumplings! My husband and I popped a couple as well and our taste tests definitely left us wanting more. The filling recipe made enough that we were able to put some in the fridge and assemble more dumplings the next day for her lunch.

Real Deal Banana Bread

Real Deal Banana Bread
(Makes 2 loaves)

1-1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
3/4 c. oil
2 c. sifted flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix sugar and eggs until creamy
3. Mix in oil
4. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice
5. Stir dry mixture into creamed mixture until well combined but do not over stir.
6. Stir in bananas and chocolate chips.
7. Divide batter between 2 greased loaf pans.
8. Bake for an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

So the Moms at playgroup (including me) have gotten a little off track with our dieting. While contemplating what to bake for playgroup last week I got it in my head that I wanted REAL banana bread...the kind my Mom makes. I've been doing so much baking with whole wheat flour instead of white, applesauce instead of oil, etc. that its been a long time since I've had a slice of the banana bread I grew up on. This is the real deal and boy did it deliver. I plan to return to healthier baking immediately but this was a nice treat.

Orange Muffins

I make a LOT of muffins, as you can probably already tell. They make great on-the-go snacks as well as being quick and easy breakfast accompaniments. Plus, I can make them in virtually any flavor, and Abby will snarf them down. So today, I tried orange muffins!

Orange Muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 12 minutes (for mini muffins)

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup milk (or soy milk)
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped dried papaya
1/4 cup chopped dried apricot
extra dried fruit to decorate the tops, optional

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the orange juice, milk, honey, canola oil, applesauce, egg, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the dried fruit. Divide between 24 mini-muffin cups (or 12 regular-size muffin cups) and decorate with chopped dried fruit, if desired. Bake mini muffins for 12 minutes (or regular muffins for 20 minutes), until golden.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Toads in the Garden

Toads in the Garden
(serves 1-2)

2 slices of whole wheat bread

1 large egg

1/8c chopped broccoli

2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese


1. Lightly butter both sides of each piece of bread

2. Using a round cookie cutter or the rim of a drinking glass, cut a hole in the center of each piece of bread.

3. In a small bowl scramble the egg. Stir in the broccoli.

4. Put the bread slices with the holes cut out in a hot skillet (med-high heat). Spoon all of the egg/broccoli mixture evenly between the two holes. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side until the bread is brown and the eggs are cooked through.

5. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of each piece. Serve!

A healthier spin on classic "Toads in a Hole". I think it would also be fun to use heart, star or other fun shaped cookie cutters. You could also change the veggie to spinach or any other veggie that goes well in eggs. Huge hit with the toddler!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yogurt Banana Split

This is a snack that combines three of Abby's favorite things, so I knew I couldn't go wrong. But a banana split sounds a little more exciting than fruit and yogurt for a snack, doesn't it? Abby gobbled this down with gusto and begged for more!

Yogurt Banana Split
(serves 2)
Total time: 10 minutes

2 ripe bananas (but not too ripe!)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter, diced into small pieces
4 strawberries, chopped
1-2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven to 375F. Chop up the bananas and put them in a baking dish; sprinkle the brown sugar and butter over the top. Bake the bananas for 5-10 minutes, until the sugar and butter are melted and the bananas are soft. Give them a good stir.

While the bananas are baking, divide the yogurt between two bowls and top with strawberries. Spoon the baked bananas in with the yogurt. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cumin Peas and Carrots

Abby is... well, she's not always interested in trying new foods. I have found that my best way of getting her to try new flavors is to match them with recognizable foods. Case in point: peas. Abby loves peas - one of her favorite snacks is frozen peas. So tonight, I dressed up our boring peas and carrots side dish with a little Indian-inspired flair. Abby saw that it was peas and gobbled them down, with a few "yum"s thrown in for good measure.

Cumin Peas and Carrots
Total time: 10 minutes

1 lb bag of frozen peas and carrots blend
1 tsp honey
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp dry mustard

Combine the frozen peas and carrots and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan - cook over medium heat until heated through; drain, if necessary. Return the veggies to the saucepan and add all other ingredients, cooking and stirring over low heat for about 1-2 minutes. Serve.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cuban Dinner Date!

Total disclaimer: I know nothing about Cuban cuisine. As part of our project, I've been checking lots and lots of cookbooks out of the library, looking for inspiration. One Cuban-American cookbook had so many dishes that intrigued me and seemed like they could become toddler-friendly, so I just knew I had to do a Cuban night. Experimentation paid off - this was a yummy dinner!

Sweet Baked Pork and Beans
with Fried Plantains

Sweet Baked Pork and Beans
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
1 Toddler Smile (2 Mommy smiles!)

1 Tbsp oil or butter
1 cup baby carrots, chopped
3 cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp ground ginger
3 Tbsp cide vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 lb pork chops (or pork tenderloin)

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a small pan, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add the chopped carrots and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until carrots are crisp-tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a bowl, combine the beans, brown sugar, molasses, ginger, vinegar and dry mustard. Stir gently until well combined. Pour the beans into an 8x8" baking dish. Sprinkle the carrots over the top of the beans.

Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and scatter on top of the carrots and beans. Bake for about 30 minutes, until pork is cooked through and the sauce is bubbly and thickened.

Fried Plantains
Total time: 15 minutes
2 Toddler Smiles!

2 large, ripe plantains
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
lemon juice

Slice the plantains diagonally into rounds. Melt the butter and olive oil together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the plantains and fry, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until crispy on both sides. Sprinkle lemon juice and salt over the plantains and serve.

Papaya-Raisin Bread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 55-60 minutes
2 Toddler smiles!

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk (or soy milk)
1 cup chopped ripe papaya
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease a loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs, and milk until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Gently stir in the papaya and raisins. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
* * *
Dinner went over pretty well! Abby would not try the sweet baked pork and beans, which hardly surprised me (beans are, after all, Abby's arch nemesis), but Neko and Celeste and I all really liked it. Both girls liked the fried plantains, though the plantains that I had were not quite ripe enough. Everyone enjoyed the papaya-raisin bread - I made up a coconut cream cheese frosting to make it more dessert-like, but although tasty, the frosting did not have the right consistency so I'm not listing it here. The bread would be an excellent snack and breakfast bread as well.

Ravioli Pasta Salad with Bacon and Tomato

Ravioli Pasta Salad with Bacon and Tomato
(serves 4)

5 slices of turkey bacon

1/2 package whole wheat cheese ravioli (about 2 cups)

1/2 c. cherry tomatoes

1/8 c. mayonnaise (I used Hellman's Olive Oil mayo)

1/4 c. plain yogurt

1/4 tsp. celery salt

1/8 tsp. sweet paprika

1. Cook ravioli according to package directions, do not overcook. Drain and rinse with cold water until ravioli is completely cool

2. Fry bacon until almost (but not quite) crispy

3. Cut all cherry tomatoes in halves

4. In a small bowl combine mayo, yogurt, celery salt and paprika.

5. In a larger bowl toss together the ravioli, bacon and tomatoes. Gently stir in dressing being careful not to crush the raviolis. Let stand in refrigerator for at least an hour. Serve.

I've had these whole wheat raviolis in the freezer for a couple weeks and I've been trying to think of something creative to do with them. I thought about putting them in a cold pasta salad and thought that was pretty darn clever. If I was making this for adults I would try it a couple different ways:

-with ceaser dressing, anchovies and fresh Parmesan cheese or,

-with a balsamic vinaigrette, fresh basil and chopped vine ripe tomatoes (caprese style!) or,

-with black olives, pepperorcinis, pepperoni and a greek style dressing (mmm)

I was, however, making it for 2 year olds. This made things difficult I will say. So I had the idea of using bacon and since I was going to do a mayo based dressing I thought tomatoes would give it a BLT flavor (minus the L). My favorite flavors in classic pasta salad are the celery salt and paprika so I had to include those. To make the dressing slightly healthier I decided to use the yogurt in place of some of the mayo.

This dish was, well, weird. I wouldn't say it is bad and Neko actually ate a whole bowl but I had a tasting serving and found myself wishing for some acidity. I reeeeeeeeally want to try one of the other versions that is more vinegar and oil based. I think mayo and ravioli don't totally marry well. Again...its not gross...just meh. I also really think pork bacon would have kicked things up a notch. Live and learn.

Oatmeal #2

Continuing on with my oatmeal concoctions this morning I came up with:
Cranberry Orange Oatmeal
(serves 1 very hungry toddler)

2 packets of plain oatmeal

enough hot water to make the consistency your child likes

2 tbsp orange juice

2 tbsp dried cranberries (I used the Ocean Spray orange flavored cranberries)

1 tbsp brown sugar

dash cinnamon

orange zest

Mix oatmeal and hot water to desired consistency. Stir in orange juice, cranberries and brown sugar. Sprinkle cinnamon and zest on top. Serve.

I thought this had the potential to be really gross or really good. I tried it before serving it to Neko and it was delicious! I took a couple more bites before giving it to her...mmmm. As I type she is more than halfway through it so I would call it a success all around!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Turkey-Apple Balls

This is a great flavor combination for fall! I've seen some savory poultry-apple meatball recipes around, but wanted to give mine a slightly sweeter profile by adding cinnamon and nutmeg.

Turkey-Apple Balls
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 10 minutes

1 lb ground turkey (ground chicken would be tasty, too)
3/4 of a green apple, peeled and finely grated
1 egg
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix very well. Scoop up tablespoonfuls and shape into balls. (The shaped balls can be refrigerated until you are ready for dinner - I love to prep food during nap time while the kitchen is quiet!) Place on a greased, rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with pasta or rice.

Abby and my husband had these with some of the spinach-alfredo sauce over pasta leftover from yesterday; I had mine over brown rice. These were tasty, but they need a sauce... I'm just not sure what kind! Any ideas?

Peaches and Cream Parfait

Peaches and Cream Parfait
(serves 1)
Single serving container of yogurt (I used Stoneyfield Farms French Vanilla)

1/2 of a fresh peach

1/4c. granola or crunch cereal (I used Kashi GoLean Crunch)

Layer ingredients in a see through cup (I used a plastic party cup) so toddler can see the layers which will (hopefully) encourage eating to the bottom.

One thing I have had trouble getting Neko to eat is yogurt. She doesn't dislike it but isn't ever excited about it either. I tried to make it a bit more appealing with this parfait. Unfortunately she only made it halfway through before she was bored with it. Enh...I tried. :o)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Spinach-Alfredo Sauce

Abby and I had friends over for lunch today, which meant another unsuspecting toddler for me to use as a taste-tester! Ha! I made this spinach-alfredo sauce over noodles for the girls and got two big toddler smiles. Each girl even asked for seconds!

Spinach-Alfredo Sauce
Total time: 20 minutes

Your child's favorite pasta
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pureed

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. While pasta is boiling, make the sauce: Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together until the mixture is thick, golden, and bubbly - about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the milk. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce is thick. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted. Stir in the spinach puree. Add a little extra milk if sauce seems too thick. Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve to happy toddlers!

This made a fair amount of sauce, so I tossed about half of the sauce in with the pasta and saved the rest in a storage container for future dinners. When my younger daughter starts solids and I have lots of baby purees around the house, I can see using this alfredo base to stir in lots of different vegetable flavors.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mmmmmolasses Cookies

Mmmmmolasses Cookies
(makes 2 dozen)

Here is another one made to bring to playgroup for diet-conscious Mom's which is also good for the kiddos too because its not too high in sugar. They were delicious and enjoyed by Mom's and kids alike.

2/3 c. all-purpose flour

2/3 c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 c. butter (I used Smart Balance 50/50 blend)

2 tbsp molasses

1 large egg white

1/4 cup sugar (to roll cookies in)

1. Mix flours, baking soda, spices and salt in a med. bowl. Set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, butter, molasses, and egg white together.

3. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until well mixed.

4. Form mixture into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours in refrigerator.

5. (When 2 hours is up.) Preheat oven to 375°.

6. Shape dough into 1" balls.

7. Put sugar in a bowl. Roll dough balls in sugar.

8. Place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool on a wire rack.

Boston Brown Bread

This recipe is a homage to the most awesome place to live: Boston! Boston Brown Bread is made by steaming bread batter in cans. It is a fun project, and as a bonus, it's incredibly tasty, too! I imagine an older child would get a kick out of helping to make these, as I (at 29 years old) could not stop giggling over my "can bread." This bread is the perfect accompaniment to baked beans, but also makes a great snack or a bread to sop up any savory stew.

Boston Brown Bread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Steam time: 90-120 minutes

1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
heaping 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk (or 1 cup soy milk + 2 tsp vinegar)
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots (optional)

Thoroughly clean out your cans of choice. I used two 14.5-oz cans from diced tomatoes; you could also use one bigger can, but the steam time will probably be more on the 2 hour side than the 90 minute side. Fill a pot with enough water to come up about halfway on the cans. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the cans from the water and spray the insides well with non-stick spray.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. If you are using apricots and raisins, set aside 2 Tbsp of the dry mix and toss it together with the raisins and apricots in a small bowl (this will help prevent the fruit from clumping together). Whisk together the buttermilk/sour milk/ soy milk + vinegar together with the molasses in a separate bowl; add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring until well combined. Gently stir in the flour-coated dried fruits, if using.

Divide the batter between the two cans. Cover them tightly with aluminum foil and set them inside the pot of boiling water. Lower the temperature so the water is simmering, and cover the pot with a lid. Here's what your cans will look like inside the pot:

After about 90 minutes, carefully remove one of the cans from the pot and peel back the aluminum foil. The breads are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Here's what it looks like when you do not divide the batter evenly enough between the two cans (whoops):

Allow the cans to cool for about 10 minutes, and then use a can opener to open the bottom of the can. Gently push the breads out of their cans; slice and serve!

I made one bread without the fruit, and one with. They are both incredibly tasty. Abby had the fruited bread as a snack, and my husband and I will have the non-fruited bread with some beef stew for dinner (technically, Abby will have beef stew as well, but I'll be shocked if she actually eats any of it!).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Carrot Quiche Bites

I love a good make-ahead recipe, and these could stand in for a number of situations: breakfast, lunch, snack, side dish... Abby is a big fan of carrots, so I don't really need to "hide" them in foods - but the egg and cheese are the more predominant flavors here, so if you have a little veggie-hater, these might work for you!

Carrot Quiche Bites
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 20-25 minutes

1 cup finely grated carrots
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray. Beat all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined, adding salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into mini muffin tin (I filled about 20 cups worth). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the centers are set and the edges are starting to brown slightly.

I let these cool and then popped them in the fridge and served them cold - I sold them alternately as "nuggets" and as "muffins," but use whatever language will pique your child's interest! :-) My husband and I found them pretty addictive!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I was so pleased with how much Abby liked the butternut squash gnocchi that I wanted to try another version. She loved these, too!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Total time: 15-20 minutes

1 cup mashed sweet potato
1 cup flour (plus more if needed)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ginger
2 tsp maple syrup
1 egg

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Add additional flour as needed until you have a stiff dough. Drop by teaspoonfuls into the boiling water and boil for 3-4 minutes, until they have risen to the top of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels before serving.

I originally tried to concoct a tomato-peanut sauce for these (based on a lot of sweet potato-tomato-peanut combinations I saw when reading about African cuisine), but it came out kind of strange. So, Abby and I had these with good old melted butter and Parmesan cheese on top. I think they would be fabulous with an alfredo sauce as well.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fruit Ravioli (Two Ways)

Do you have some won-ton wrappers leftover from making pumpkin ravioli? Try this sweet alternative for your tot's breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Fruit Ravioli


Total time: 15 minutes

1 cup soft fruit, diced small (berries, peaches, banana, sauteed apple or pear, etc.)
sugar (optional, depending on how sweet your fruit already is)
12-16 won-ton wrappers
peanut oil for frying
optional toppings: sugar, cinnamon, powdered sugar, honey, cinnamon

If desired, mix a small amount of sugar in with your fruit. Fill a small bowl with water.

For fried raviolis: Fill a small saucepan with about 1 cm of peanut oil; heat over high heat. While oil is heating, prepare ravioli: lay out two won-ton wrappers and moisten all of their edges with water. Spoon a scant tablespoon of fruit into the middle of one wrapper; top with the other and seal all edges well. Repeat with remaining wrappers and fruit.

In small batches, fry the ravioli on one side for 1 minute, flip, and fry for 30-60 seconds on the other side, until raviolis are golden and bubbled. Let drain on paper towels; if desired, top with a little powdered sugar.

For boiled ravioli: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare the ravioli: lay out one won-ton wrapper and moisten its edges with water. Spoon a scant teaspoon of fruit into the center of the wrapper and fold it into a triangle, pressing all the edges together to seal well. Repeat with remaining wrappers and fruit.

In small batches, boil the ravioli for 2 minutes, until the wrappers are translucent and tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel. If desired, sprinkle with a cinnamon-sugar mix.

Serve raviolis (fried or boiled) with honey or maple syrup for dipping, as desired!

These were both excellent - I couldn't get Abby to try the boiled raviolis, but she snarfed down the fried raviolis (or, "crackers with jelly" as she called them) with gusto.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Yup, that's a new name you see! And soon (maybe even now! apparently, we're in "transition" for an unspecified period of time), you'll be able to reach us at http://www.ittybittybistro.com... but coming to beyondgoldfish.blogspot.com will still direct you our way. If you've linked to our blog, we would love it if you updated our name :-)

Change is in the air, and soon we hope to have new logos and new looks - but we'll still be the same hard-cookin' mamas with a passion for feeding our kids well!

Honey-Nut Banana Bread

I love honey-nut toasted oat circles, whatever brand I can get them in. Abby has inherited this love, too. So why not turn that fabulousness into a bread to snack on?

Honey-Nut Banana Bread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 35-40 minutes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 egg
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey-nut toasted oat circles

(for streusel topping)
1/4 cup honey-nut toasted oat circles
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp whole wheat flour

Grease a loaf pan, and preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, egg, canola oil, brown sugar, honey, and peanut butter until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Gently stir in the 1/2 cup honey-nut toasted oat circles. The batter will be somewhat thick.

Spread the batter in the prepared loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix together the 1/4 cup honey-nut toasted oat circles, butter, brown sugar, and whole wheat flour until coarse clumps form. Sprinkle the mixture over the loaf pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

This was a big hit with Abby AND her mommy ;-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Carnival Dinner Date!

Tonight's dinner was a HUGE success!! Not only did the Mommies like the food but the TODDLERS did too! Even Abby! I feel like I have reached some culinary milestone to hear her say "mmm...delicious!" I am a true toddler chef now. ;o)

For tonight's dinner I decided to create a 'carnival' themed menu which included corn dog muffins, sweet potato and beet 'kettle' chips and chocolate covered frozen bananas on a stick.

I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to food on a stick. I grew up in Minnesota and many years would make the trip to St. Paul to go to the Minnesota State Fair. One of the best things about this fair is its vast variety of food-on-a-stick. Some of the offerings include real Minnesota favorites such as Tater Tot Hot Dish on a Stick (with cream of mushroom dipping sauce) and Walleye on a Stick. Others include Scotch Eggs on-a-stick (hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried), Pork Chops on a Stick, Frozen Grapes on a Stick, Spaghetti and Meatballs on a Stick (yep), Macaroni and Cheese on a Stick, Chocolate Covered Key Lime Pie on a Stick, Deep Fried Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or Oreos on a Stick, Scones on a Stick (if you're feeling fancy) and the piece de resistance....The Big Fat Bacon: 1/3 lb slice of bacon fried and caramelized with maple syrup, served on a stick with dipping sauces. I *heart* you Minnesota but you make me fat when I come to see you.

Moving on...

Corn Dog Muffins
(Serves 3)
1/2 c. whole ground corn meal
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 c. flax meal
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
2 tbsp. honey
2 hot dogs (I used all natural beef franks with no nitrates), sliced into 1/2" chunks
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Combine the corn meal, flour, baking powder, flax meal and salt in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl combine all the wet ingredients.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
5. Spoon enough of the batter into the muffin tin to just cover the bottoms. Put a slice of hot dog on top of the batter in each muffin cup and cover with more batter.Another option is to fill the muffin cup about 3/4 full and just press a hot dog slice slightly into the top. Kara noted that they look kind of like the Hershey Kiss cookies this way. Ha!
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve!
Both girls really liked these. I would even wager to say that Abby liked them even more than Neko. Abby ate the entire muffin but Neko wanted to get straight to that hot dog so she picked off the muffin around it. I served the muffins with homemade ketchup but I was non-plussed enough by it to not include the recipe. I'm going to keep trying and when I come up with something more closely resembling ketchup I will let you know.

Sweet Potato and Beet "Kettle" Chips
(Serves 2)
1 small sweet potato
3-4 small beets (I tried to pick out beets that were the typical diameter of chips)
olive oil
1. Wash and peel the sweet potato and beets. Using a mandolin slicer, slice into thin chips.
2. Arrange all of the chips in a single layer on a microwave safe plate.
3. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
4. Cook on high in microwave for 3 minutes and then check the chips for doneness. Continue to microwave for 1 minute durations until crispy. (Mine took about 7 minutes but it would really depend on how thick or thin you cut them). Serve!
My favorite part of the dinner was when Kara kept coming into the kitchen to say "She's eating beets! She just ate another one! I can't believe she's eating beets!" These were GOOD and as someone who is perpetually dieting I am pretty excited to add this to my own repertoire. What a great way to get in some veggies and feel like you're get some good ol' junk food at the same time.
Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas on a Stick
(Serves 2)
1 large banana
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tbsp. butter
Popsicle sticks
1. Peel and cut the banana in half. Put each half on a Popsicle stick.
2. Put bananas on a plate and freeze for at least 1 hour.
3. When the bananas are frozen, combine the chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe dish and melt in the microwave (approximately 1 minute). Stir until smooth.
4. Using a butter knife, spread the chocolate on each banana to almost cover.
5. Put the bananas on wax paper and put back in the freezer until frozen. Serve!
Oh my! I haven't had a frozen banana since I was a kid and I forgot how delicious they are! They are really a great fake out for ice cream because they actually taste like ice cream. I think they would have been yummy even without the chocolate (not that the chocolate wasn't wonderful because it was). Do I even have to say that the girls devoured these? This was a sure thing.

Cannellini Mac and Cheese

If you have a little mac and cheese lover on your hands, try this to slip in some extra protein and fiber! It only takes a little bit more time than making mac and cheese from a box.

Cannellini Mac and Cheese

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 10-15 minutes (optional)

1 cup dry pasta shapes
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan (optional)
dash paprika (optional)
1 15.5 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Topping, for baked mac and cheese:
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp wheat bran
1 tsp millet
1/2 Tbsp butter, melted

In a small pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until the mixture is turning very light brown, 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the milk while whisking continuously. Continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture is thickened and bubbly, 5-10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and stir in the cheeses and paprika until melted.

Take the cheese sauce off of the heat and stir in the pasta and cannellini beans. The mac and cheese can be served as is. To make a baked mac and cheese, divide the pasta mixture among four oven-proof ramekins. Stir together the topping ingredients and divide among the four ramekins. At this point, you can cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator for future meals.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Put the ramekins on a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is heated through and the topping is turning golden.

Oatmeal #1

Oatmeal #1
(Serves 1 toddler with a hearty morning appetite)

Neko has oatmeal most weekday mornings. We buy the organic oatmeal sampler pack from Costco which has 45 assorted packs of oatmeal. 2 of the 'flavors' are original (plain ol' oatmeal) and flax and oats (plain ol' oatmeal with some flax meal). Obviously these are a harder sell then the apple cinnamon for example. We recently got to the bottom of the box and were left with only original and flax and oats so I've been experimenting with making them palatable for Neko. When I come up with new creations I will let you know.

Today's creation was:
2 packs of flax and oats oatmeal (yes she really eats 2)
1/2 c. organic unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp. golden raisins
2 Tsp. brown sugar
dash of cinnamon

I don't really measure any of this out but I tried to estimate.
1. Put oats in bowl and stir in applesauce.
2. Stir in enough hot water to make oatmeal the right consistency
3. Stir in a dash of cinnamon and half of the brown sugar
4. Sprinkle the raisins, the other half of the brown sugar and another dash of cinnamon on top. Serve!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Milk and Cereal Bars

When General Mills first came out with their assorted Milk & Cereal Bars, I was an instant fan. (And if I still had the metabolism of my early 20's, I'm sure I'd still eat them all the time...) I love the idea, and I decided to come up with a quick and easy way to make a homemade version for Abby. These are no substitute for breakfast, but they do make a tasty dessert!

Milk and Cereal Bars
Prep time: 10 minutes

Cereal Bars:
1 Tbsp butter
1 1/3 cups miniature marshmallows
2 cups of your cereal of choice (I used Cheerios)

Milk filling:
4 Tbsp butter, softened*
1/4 cup dry nonfat milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Lightly spray an 8x8" baking pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, microwave the 1 Tbsp butter and the marshmallows together on high for 1 minute; stir. Microwave for an additional 1 minute as needed to melt the butter and marshmallow together. Immediately stir in the 2 cups of cereal. Transfer the mixture to the 8x8" pan and spread in a very thin layer (using a strip of wax paper to tamp down the cereal will help this process). Set aside to cool.

Once the cereal has cooled, beat together the 4 Tbsp softened butter, nonfat dry milk, and powdered sugar until creamy and fluffy. Remove the cereal block and cut in half. Spread the milk frosting on the bottom (flatter) side of one half of the bars; top with the other half. Set in the refrigerator to cool for about an hour. When cool, cut into bars.

This makes a fairly small batch, but you could easily double the recipe (using a 9x13" pan). I didn't want too much temptation hanging around the house!

* edited: my husband felt the filling was a bit too buttery. If you feel the same way, some or all of the butter could be replaced with shortening. I quite liked the intense, buttery milky flavor. To each his own!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tofu Skewers with Peanut Sauce

Tofu Skewers with Peanut Sauce
(Serves 6)

1 Package Extra Firm Tofu
2 tbsp Sesame oil
2 tbsp Low sodium soy sauce
½ tsp ground ginger
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 package cherry tomatoes
1 large green zucchini
1 large, summer squash
12-15 bamboo skewers

Peanut Sauce

¾ cup coconut milk
½ cup peanut butter
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1 ½ tsp curry powder
1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp canola oil
1 ½ tsp soy sauce

1. Remove the tofu from its package and drain. Place tofu in a plastic bag, put a plate on top then place a weight on top of the plate (we use a jar of dried peas). Let the tofu sit for 30 minutes.
2. Mix the red pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger in a bowl.
3. Remove the tofu from the bag, slice into 1 inch chunks then add to the marinade. Let the tofu marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

4. While the tofu is marinating, add all the ingredients for the peanut sauce into a food processor and blend until a smooth sauce is formed. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Soak the bamboo skewers in cold water for 20-30 minutes.
6. Cut the zucchini and summer squash into chunks.
7. On each bamboo skewer alternate a piece of tofu, red bell pepper, green zucchini, cherry tomato and summer squash until they are all gone. (If your kids like mushrooms, feel free to add them in too).
8. Place the skewers on a sheet of aluminum foil and then grill them on each side until the veggies are cooked and the tofu is crispy and brown. You can also bake the skewers in a 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.
9. Serve the tofu skewers either on the stick (for older kids) or remove from the skewer and serve on a plate. Serve with the sauce on the side for dipping or drizzle it over the tofu and veggies on the plate.
We (meaning my husband Nick) made these to bring to Kara's BBQ. I know for a fact that they went over famously with Neko however I'm not sure they were a toddler crowd favorite. I know a couple of the adults enjoyed them though! The peanut sauce was delicious enough to bathe in. (That's good.) The night of the BBQ while being put to bed Neko requested that Daddy sing a song about "tofood". That's got to be a good sign!