Cooking

September 2016 ~ The Meals ~ Week 1

The cookbook I used this month is Recipes for Healthy Kids – Cookbook for Homes.  It was a fun book and we made some nice dinners.  Overall, the recipes were easy to follow so you need not be an expert in the kitchen to have these dishes turn out.   The cookbook is available for download by clicking here.

september-cooking-calendar-dragged-1Below is a breakdown of what I made and how it went over with the family.  Also, any changes or omissions that were made are also included.

September 1 -3 and 5 – repeats and usual suspects when there is a lack of energy or creativity.

September 4 – Porcupine Sliders and Tasty Tots

Meh is how I would sum this up.  The Porcupine Sliders and the Tasty Tots were the grand prize winners for the Whole Grain and Dark Green and Orange Vegetable categories.

The Porcupine Sliders include ground turkey, cranberries, fresh baby spinach, and long grain brown rice.  If I were to make these again, I would omit the cranberries and serve a vegetable on the side.   My 5 year old son ate the entire slider and loved it.

The Tasty Tots consist of 5 cups of fresh coarsely shredded sweet potatoes, a can of garbanzo beans, green onions, and seasonings including salt and pepper, onion powder, and cinnamon.  We enjoy sweet potato fries which made me think we would like these but they were not a hit with anyone at the table.  They lacked a crispiness that I was expecting when I bit into them because they are baked not fried keeping with the spirit of the cookbook, healthy eating.  The soggy, mushy texture was not appealing.  I think that placing them under the broiler after baking would give them some much needed crisp.  If I were to make these again I would include a bit of turmeric and possibly some cumin.

If you make these and like them, please let me know what you did to make it work for you.

September 6 – Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

The same school that won grand prize for Tasty Tots also created this dish. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is centered around quinoa, a whole grain that is a complete protein.  To add color and flavor the recipe includes fresh garlic, red bell peppers, green onions, red onions, cherry tomatoes, black olives, and feta cheese.  These are interchangeable if you are feeling adventitious, artichokes, hearts of palm would be good along with toasted almond slivers.

This dish is a side that I served along with Fried Tofu (this is my go to when looking for an addition to the meal).  My concern was the dish would not be enough to fill up the family but it was, thanks to the use of quinoa instead of pasta.

Another plus is the dish needs to be refrigerated for about 2 hours and served chilled.  This was great because Tuesday night is baseball practice night.  Having a dish that can be served cold on a night when we are short on time is always welcome.  Everyone enjoyed this meal.

September 7 – Crunchy Hawaiian Chicken Wrap

This is a good food.  When Mount Lebanon Elementary School set out making this wrap they used fish and chicken and the students were split on which they liked the best.  The school team went with chicken.  This is now featured on the school menu and on the school menu at my son’s school.

Here is what goes inside the wrap – a dressing that is made of light mayonnaise, white vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds (I left these out), and garlic, onion, and chili powders.  The  “meat” of the wrap includes fresh shredded broccoli, carrots, canned crushed pineapple, and fresh baby spinach and chicken.  The recipe calls for 3 cups of cooked diced chicken which I baked in the oven with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

The next time I make this I am gong to try it with fish instead of chicken using this amazing recipe for Greek Fish Tacos for a simple way to cook the fish.  As an alternative, you could leave out the meat and use a vegan mayonnaise and make it vegetarian.  Now you have three possible meals from one base.  And to take it another step – serve it over lettuce with the poppy seed dressing and you have a low carbohydrate lunch or light dinner.

September 8 – Fiesta Mexican Lasagna

The chef, Wynnie Stein, who is part of the creative team behind this recipe is the chef at Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York.  I have one of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, Sunday’s At Moosewood Restaurant and another by the author of the Moosewood Cookbook – Mollie Katzen – The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.   and they make you work for your meal.  The reason for this is that everything comes from a basic base.

Getting back to the subject at hand – Fiesta Mexican Lasagna.  This takes some patience and a bit of time.  In the end it is worth every bit of effort.  The lasagna is made up of green bell peppers, corn, butternut squash, black beans, and meatless spaghetti sauce and salsa.  Sprinkled on top is tortilla chips.

To involve my son I asked him to count out 66 chips and crush them in a plastic bag.  He also helped with the layering.  The vegetables are roasted in the oven, the squash (which must be cubed) is steamed, and the can of beans is blended in a food processor with sauteed onions and seasoning.  The spaghetti sauce is mixed with the salsa.

If you wanted, you could purchase a can of refried beans and add the seasoning and onions to that to save the trouble of cleaning the food processor.  DO NOT try to mix the bean mixture in a blender to avoid cleaning the food processor.  It will not work and it makes more work and effort than you would ever expect.

This was a hit with everyone – it gets star in the cookbook.

September 9 – Stir-Fried Green Rice, Eggs, and Ham

This is a healthy take on Chinese take-out.  The recipe calls for frozen chopped spinach but I used fresh spinach.  Along with spinach the dish includes six eggs, turkey ham (I used regular ham because I did not look at Whole Foods for turkey ham), and green onion.

If you use a rice maker to make the rice the hands on cooking time is only when combining all of the ingredients in the skillet or wok.  While the rice is cooking you can prepare the other items and throw it all together as soon as the rice is ready.

September 10 -Purple Power Bean Wrap

This did not go over well.  The main ingredient, purple cabbage, was not well received.  Along with purple cabbage the wrap has shredded romaine lettuce and fresh avocado that is pureed with great northern beans.  As a vegetarian dish it is good.

If I were to make this for my family again, I would replace the purple cabbage with a medley of shredded carrots and broccoli.  You could also use the avocado bean puree as a vegetable dip.

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