Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fish and Chips Dinner Date

This time of year I always find it refreshing to have a meal that isn't 'holiday' food. I figured the girls would appreciate it too...and they did! Start to finish, this was a winner with our toddler taste testers!

Fish Nuggets with Salt and Vinegar Potatoes and Apple Slaw

(Serves 4)

Fish Nuggets

1 pound fish fillets, I used tilapia and I have to say, this is the best use for tilapia that I have found
2 c. Kashi 7 Grain Flakes Cereal (or something similar), crushed (can do in food processor...I put the cereal in a ziploc bag and used a meat tenderizer to crush it)
1/4 c. almonds, chopped
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 egg whites
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a shallow dish combine the cereal, almonds and parsley.
3. Put flour in a second shallow dish.
4. In a third dish, combine the egg whites, lemon juice, salt, ginger and pepper.
5. Cut fish into nugget sized chunks.
6. Dredge fish through the flour and shake off the excess.
7. Dip in egg mixture and then coat with cereal mixture.
8. Put a cookie sheet sized cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet.
9. Arrange nuggets in a single layer on rack.
10. Bake about 15 minutes (or until fattest piece flakes when tested with a fork).

Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes
olive oil

1. Wash and peel potatoes and cut into large chunks
2. Put potatoes in medium saucepan and cover with cold water
3. Bring water to a boil and cook for 10 minutes (just long enough to par boil not completely cook)
4. Remove from heat and drain
5. Cut larger chunks into small bite sized chunks
6. Put enough oil in a large saute pan to cover the bottom. Heat on medium-high heat.
7. Add the potatoes and fry until cooked through and golden brown.
8. In a medium sized mixing bowl toss the potatoes with salt and vinegar to taste. I didn't specify an amount of vinegar because some (toddlers) will like just a touch and others (adults) will like much more.
9. Serve with ketchup.

Apple Slaw

1/2 package broccoli slaw
1 apple, shredded (I used a Fuji)
2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
1 tsp. honey
2 tsp. cider vinegar
salt to taste

1. Combine the broccoli slaw and shredded apple in a bowl.
2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a separate, small bowl to make the dressing
3. Pour the dressing over the slaw/apple mixture and toss to coat. Serve!

Lemon Pudding

(serves 4)
3/4 c. agave nectar (or sugar)
1/4 c. corn starch
2c. milk
1.2 c. buttermilk
3 egg yolks, beaten lightly
zest from 2 large lemons
1/4 tsp. salt
juice from 2 large lemons
2 tbsp butter

1. In a medium sauce pan combine the sugar, corn starch, milk, buttermilk, eggs, zest and salt. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook until pudding is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
2. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and butter.
3. Push the pudding through a mesh strainer using a rubber spatula. Strain into 4 individual serving bowls.
4. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Serve chilled with a dollop of whipped cream.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Recipe Re-Visit: Spinach-Alfredo Sauce

I wanted a quick and easy sauce to go over some tortellini tonight, so I decided to make the Spinach-Alfredo Sauce again. Lo and behold - no frozen spinach on hand! So I chucked in a few cubes of frozen zucchini and butternut squash puree that I have on hand for my youngest daughter. The result was a yummy sauce, full of veggies and cheesy goodness. If you have purees on hand for a young baby, try subbing in other vegetables for the spinach - you might be pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vegan Dinner Date

Neko and Abby went vegan for our dinner date last night! Unfortunately, my side dish of rice noodle stir fry did not turn out well, and I'll have to revisit it before I can post it here. But the dessert is a don't-miss - you won't believe how fluffy and yummy and moist this cake is, without a single egg or speck of butter in sight!

Maple-Baked Tofu Triangles

1 lb firm tofu, pressed and drained
2 Tbsp maple syrup
4 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp orange juice

Slice the tofu vertically into 3 slabs, and then slice into triangles. Lay the tofu triangles in a baking dish. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour them over the tofu. Marinate, turning at least once, for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the triangles in the marinade for 40-45 minutes, until the triangles are golden and most of the marinade is absorbed.

Vegan Coconut Cake

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cp sugar
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
sweetened, shredded coconut

Coconut Drizzle
1 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp agave nectar (or use sweetener of choice to taste)
2 tsp corn starch

Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, vanilla, and vinegar. Add the wet to the dry and stir until well-combined. Pour the batter into the cake pan and top with a handful or two of shredded coconut. Bake for 25 minutes in an 8-inch cake pan, slightly less time for a 9-inch pan, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To prepare the coconut drizzle: In a small bowl, combine the corn starch with a small amount of the coconut milk and stir until completely dissolved. Stir the dissolved corn starch into the remaining coconut milk in a sauce pan; cook, stirring, over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Let cool before drizzling over slices of cake.

* * * * *

I liked the triangles, and Neko ate them up - Abby tried a few bites but did literally gag on the 4th bite or so. I guess she's not a tofu girl! I was thrilled with my coconut cake - I made another one, without the drizzle, for playgroup this morning. It was a hit with kids and mommies alike!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Frozen Bean Burritos

I actually made these a few weeks ago - but my (brand-new) microwave broke just as I tried to reheat one, so I couldn't really test my theory on the reheating times! But (weeks later) my microwave is finally back in business, so I can post these - they are yummy, quick, easy, and freeze wonderfully.

Frozen Bean Burritos

12-14 whole wheat tortillas (you could make your own!)
3 15-oz cans of beans (I used black and pinto), drained and rinsed
1 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1 1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

In a large, combine the beans, all spices, and cooked brown rice. Stir the ingredients well, mashing the beans slightly, and adding a few tablespoonfuls of water (just enough to make the mixture a little wet).

Heat your tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave, making them pliable. Scoop a few tablespoonfuls of bean and rice mixture on one end of a tortilla. Top with a small handful of cheese. Carefully roll the tortilla, tucking in the sides as you go. Wrap tightly and well with layers of plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining mixture and wraps. Place the wrapped burritos in a large freezer bag.

When you are ready to eat, you have a few options for reheating. You can reheat them for about 15-20 minutes in a 425F oven. You can reheat them entirely in a microwave (about 5 minutes in my new fixed microwave!) but they will be a little softer. My preference is to microwave them for about 3 minutes and finish them in a 425F oven for 8-10 minutes. These are great to have on hand for meals when you don't feel like doing much work!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Smoked Cheddar Shells and Cheese with Kielbasa

Smoked Cheddar Shells and Cheese with Kielbasa(serves 4)

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 c milk
1 1/4 c grated mild cheddar cheese
1/2 c grated smoked cheddar cheese
1/2 box shell pasta (I used Eden Organic Veggie Shells)
2 Kielbasa links
olive oil

1. Cook shells according to package directions, drain and rinse.
2. Cut kielbasa into "non-chokable" sized chunks.
3. Heat a little olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Cook kielbasa chunks until heated through. (About 5 minutes)
4. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
5. When melted, add flour, stirring constantly for about 1 minute creating a roux.
6. Whisk in milk, cook for 3 minutes (stirring constantly).
7. Add the cheeses, and stir until smooth.
8. Combine the cheese sauce, shells and kielbasa. Serve!

This one is seriously yummy.

Mushroom-Egg Pirozhki

Back when we had our Russian Dinner Date, I knew I needed to revisit the pirozhki and try a vegetarian version. Abby and I had a ball making these together, and they were just as tasty as the original beef version!

Mushroom-Egg Pirozhki

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 T sugar
1/2 c butter, cut in pieces
6 Tbsp sour cream - I used low fat sour cream

In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse once or twice to combine. Sprinkle the butter on top, and pulse a few times, until mixture begins to resemble cornmeal. Add the sour cream, and pulse until moist crumbs form. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a few hours (or overnight)

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 Tbsp sour cream
salt & pepper

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms begin to release their water (about 3 minutes). Continue cooking and stirring until the liquid is mostly evaporated (about 3-5 minutes more). Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and add egg and sour cream; stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste. (Next time I do this, I might pulse the ingredients in a food processor once or twice to get a smaller chop - if you think you want a less chunky texture, you might try this). Let cool.

Preheat oven to 375F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. Use a large biscuit cutter to cut out circles of dough; place a heaping tablespoon of mushroom filling in the center of each circle. Pinch and seal the edges of the circle together to form a half moon shape. Place pirozhki on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until pirozhki are puffed and golden.