Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Finger Food, Here We Come

Our 8 month old is starting to get the whole finger food process. I love to watch him try and grasp the Os with his chubby fingers, and concentrate so hard to get them in his mouth. Sometimes he is so proud with what he has accomplished, he smiles huge, and then the O falls right out of his mouth.

We've also tried banana, avocado, ripe pear, ripe mango, steamed carrots and peas, egg yolk and tiny cheese cubes. What a mess...but what fun too.

Any other ideas on good and easy finger foods at this age? I feel like I use the Os far too much since these are the easiest for him to grasp.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Night Bites

Each Friday we try and make a dinner that is fun and a real crowd celebrate the end of the week and beginning of the weekend. So here is a great and easy fiesta chicken taco soup that is my absolute favorite slow cooker recipe.

TGIF Fiesta Chicken Taco Soup

2 - 15 oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
16 oz can tomato sauce
10 oz frozen corn package
2 - 10 oz cans of tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
12 oz can or bottle of beer
1 small onion, diced
1 package taco seasoning
2 boneless chicken breasts

Shredded Cheddar Cheese (we use 2% milk type)
Light Sour Cream
Crushed Baked Tortillas
Sliced Scallions (optional)
Sliced Olives (optional)
Minced Cilantro (optional)

Place the first 7 ingredients in the slow cooker and mix well. Place chicken breasts on top of the ingredients and cover the slow cooker. Cook on high 4-5 hours, or low 8-10 hours. Remove the chicken and cool on a cutting board while you prepare the cheese, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips. Once chicken is cool, shred or cut up very fine, mix back into soup.

Serve soup in bowls, and let the kiddos do their own toppings!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I knew it was too good to last

My 3 year old's preschool, much to my amazement, did not have a "no peanut" rule in place as no one in the entire school had a nut allergy. So last spring, when he was old enough to stay for lunch bunch, I joyfully and quickly made him a PB (he isn't that into the J) sandwich each time for school.

Yesterday I am picking him up with a friend whose daughter is in his class. Said daughter has developed a nut allergy. I feel bad for the mom, but I also quickly thought, "time for some new lunch ideas." Luckily, the school has a fridge for his lunch, so here is my latest and greatest invention for lunchtime-

Lunch Bunch Chicken Salad

1 large can of turkey (we use Trader Joes) or chicken (Costco sells theirs with no preservatives)
1/4 c diced apple or cucumber (whichever we have on hand)
1/4 c dried cranberries
2 T minced onion
2 T mayonnaise
1 t mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

Mix and place in a pita. Yum yum.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Peanut Butter Pizza

Peanut Butter Pizza is the latest creation in our home. My 3 year old came up with idea and in an effort to help involve him, here is his first "recipe" he created:

Peanut Butter Pizza

1. Take one slice of bread and place it on the plate.
2. Spread peanut butter (we like crunchy right now).
3. Have mom slice bananas or other fruit and open some dried cranberries or other dried fruit.
4. Arrange fruit and dried fruit in any design that suits you.
5. Eat!

This is fun because sometimes we do letters, numbers, or designs (ie, smiley face) on the peanut butter palette. It almost becomes an edible craft experience, and the best part is there is no clean up since it all ends up in their bellies!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Amuse Bouche

Amuse what? Amuse Bouche (A-moos Boo-sh) is french for "pleasing to the mouth." Usually it is a small little pre-appetizer at fancy restaurant. I am using the term for a weekly recipe I have tried that is a real family pleaser.

Chicken parmesan is a perennial favorite. This version, that I developed with some ideas from a friend, is healthy, tasty and really easy to make. I usually double the recipe and stick one in the freezer for a go-to meal on a busy night.

Chicken Parm
1/4 c whole wheat flour (can use white)
2 T ground flax seed (can use flour to replace if you don't have this ingredient)
1/3 c shredded or grated parmesan cheese
1/4 t ground black pepper
2 egg whites, beaten
1- 1 1/2 pound of chicken breast tenders, thin sliced if possible
2 T olive oil
1 32 oz jar of spaghetti sauce
1 c of shredded skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine first four ingredients in a shallow bowl. Place egg in another bowl. Take the chicken and dip in the egg and then dredge in the flour mixture. In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, pour 1 T of the olive oil into the pan. Add chicken for about 5 minutes on each side and then place each piece of chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish as you complete it, overlapping as necessary. You may have to do a second batch of the chicken in the skillet (use the extra 1 T of olive oil if another batch is necessary). Once chicken is done, pour the spaghetti sauce of the top and then finish with the cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly brown. Serve over the pasta of your choice.

**If you want to freeze this dish, when you are ready to cook, cook covered with foil for 30 minutes, and then 15-20 minutes uncovered.**

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's Football Season, Time for a Skinny Dip

No, not swimming in your birthday suits; a healthy, tasty and easy snack that kids will love and that is a great alternative to all those tradition foods of football.

Skinny Dip

1 can of fat free refried beans
1/2 c of salsa
1 c (8 oz) of reduced fat sour cream
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
2 c shredded 2% cheddar or mexican cheese
2-3 green onions, sliced thin
2-3 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped fine
1 avocado, chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
1 (4 oz) can of sliced black olives, drained
1 bag of baked or regular tortilla chips

Mix the refried beans and salsa and spread at the bottom of pie pan. Mix sour cream, chili powder and cumin and layer on top of the bean mixture. Top with cheese, onion and then tomato. Squeeze lime juice over avocado, to prevent browning. Add avocado on top of the tomato and then top with olives.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Popeye/Spinach and Artichoke Dip Calzones

If you are looking for a good way to pump up the spinach (and iron--read yesterdays post) in your kid's diet, here is a really yummy and easy recipe. These taste like spinach and artichoke dip in a calzone. Calzones used to intimidate me for some reason, but they don't anymore!

Popeye Calzones

1/4 cup walnut pieces
1 - 15 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained
2 cloves of garlic
zest of one lemon
4 cups fat free ricotta cheese
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 t pepper
2 - 10 oz boxes of frozen spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
1 T olive oil
2 cups part skim shredded mozzarella
2 balls of pizza dough (you can make your own, or buy premade)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine the walnuts through the olive oil in a food processor and blend thoroughly. Roll out half of one ball of pizza dough in a circle. Take 1/4 of the mixture and spread on one half of the calzone. Top with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Making a half moon shape, fold the other half of the dough on top and then pinch the two sides together (use a bit of water on your fingers to help make this part work better). Place the calzones on 2 cookie sheets and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Zucchini Fritters

As I have mentioned before, this is the first summer we have had a "real" yard to grow vegetables. Our zucchini crop is out of control, so we tried this recipe I adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe to help use our bumper crop of zukes.

This recipe for zucchini fritters is fantastic because it uses zucchinis in a fun way, and the dipping sauce is vegetables too! Most kids love anything they can dip, so it is another easy way to find creative ways to add some vegetables to their diet.

3-4 large zucchini
1/2 t salt
4 egg whites
1/2 c flour
1/2 t pepper
olive oil or nonstick spray for sauteing

12 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 clove of garlic
1 T olive oil

Grate zucchini in food processor or grater. Place in colander, mix with salt and let sit. After about 20 minutes or more (depending on how much time you have) press with a clean towel to remove all the water. Wisk the egg whites, add the zucchini, then the flour, and pepper. In a large nonstick pan, heat about 1 T olive oil (or use non-stick spray) over medium-high heat. Drop the fritter batter by rounded tablespoons, into the the heated pan and flatten. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and flip and cook again. Once each batch is done, you can keep them warm in an oven at 250 degrees. Rinse the food processor and puree the red peppers with the garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve the dip with the warm fritters.