Friday, August 22, 2008

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Can I just tell you how shocked I was when we sat down to eat and my kids LOVED these! I thought for sure the lettuce would put them off, but I have finally discovered the reason that iceberg lettuce exists... to get kids used to eating salad. We're all about baby steps here folks - the good stuff can come later, I'm just thrilled they're eating any kind of lettuce! This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks - Minutemeals: Quick & Healthy. Here it is with my alterations:

Brown 1 pound ground turkey. Add 3 scallions (sliced), 1 large garlic clove (minced), 2 tablespoons lite soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Saute for about 2 more minutes then cover and simmer on low/warm to let flavors soak into meat. Serve wrapped in leaves of lettuce along with chopped cilantro.

Cukes & Onions

We love to eat cucumbers this way - this is a secret family recipe, so don't tell my grandma that I'm sharing it ;)

Combine 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water and add about 1/4 cup sugar per cup of vinegar. Stir until dissolved and add salt and pepper as desired. Slice 1/2 sweet onion and add to the vinegar solution. This will cover about 2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced. For the best flavor, refrigerate this at least one day before eating, but it tastes pretty good right away as well.

These last for quite a while in the fridge, so it's a good way to use up those cucumbers that you don't think you'll get to before they go bad.

Curried Chickpeas with Herbed Barley

We usually eat Indian curry, which isn't really my favorite, but this recipe calls for Thai curry - and I loved it! It's definitely spicier though, so I have to tone it down for the kids.

I used the meat that was leftover from the lettuce wraps, added a can of chickpeas, 1 tbsp red curry paste, and 1/2 cup water. Saute for a couple of minutes to mix in the curry and let simmer for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Wilt a bag of baby spinach and mix in with the bean/meat mixture. Serve over barley.

Herbed Barley
Heat 2 cups chicken broth, 1 tsp oregano, 1/4 teaspoon thyme until boiling. Add 1 cup quick cooking barley. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Caramel Popcorn

Did you know you can microwave conventional popcorn?

Just place about 1/3 cup in a paper lunch sack. Fold down the top of the sack two times (about 1/4 inch each time) and tape it closed. Shake the bag on its side to settle the popcorn in one layer and place in the microwave as you would a bag of microwave popcorn. Stop the microwave when the popping slows down and you have a bag of delicious popcorn without all the butter and salt and chemicals of the storebought stuff! Now you can flavor it to your tastes :)

To make the caramel, combine 2 cups brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 cup light corn syrup in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it boils. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over 5 quarts of unsalted popcorn. Spread out on wax paper to cool, then break into pieces.

Bleu Cheese Vinagrette

I love bleu cheese, but usually hate bleu cheese dressing because it's so mayonnaise-y. This one is more of a bleu cheese vinagrette - super tasty!

Bleu Cheese Vinagrette

1 Tbsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 oz bleu cheese crumbles
Combine first three ingredients in small bowl. Slowly add olive oil while whisking the mixture to mix well. (You could also use a food processor.) Mix in bleu cheese and drizzle over salad.

Oven BBQ Pork Chops

This was super easy and the kids liked it.

I just covered the pork chops with slices of sweet onion, a sprinkling of brown sugar, smeared it all with a little ketchup and baked it for about an hour at 375 (covered for the first 45 minutes).

Serve with a simple salad of a wedge of iceberg lettuce drizzled with the best bleu cheese dressing ever.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Move Over Cheerios

Cheerios have been replaced by Veggie Booty as the all time favorite finger food in my house. If you haven't tried this, you really must! The corn/rice puffs look like popcorn and are flavored with vegetable powders. They are great for the baby because they melt in his mouth after a couple of "crunches". While they can be the cause of some very green drool, they have been a bigger hit than the Cheerios - maybe because he can pick them up a little easier? Because they have more flavor? You can also get them in cheese and fruit flavors, but our favorite is the veggie!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Crunchy Chicken Salad

This is the classic Ramen noodle and cabbage salad. My kids wouldn't touch it, but A and I finished off the whole bowl!

2 cups diced cooked chicken
4 cups shredded cabbage (I like Fresh Express Angel Hair cabbage shreds)
1 package chicken-flavored ramen noodles
4 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 flavoring packet from ramen noodles
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Place chicken and cabbage in mixing bowl. Break noodles up and add to cabbage with onions and sesame seeds. In small bowl, combine vinegar, oil, sugar, and 1 tsp ramen flavoring. Pour over slaw, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, stir in slivered almonds. (Side note: I didn't have sesame seeds so I mixed a 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil in with the dressing - I think you actually get a better taste that way.)