Friday, September 26, 2008

Funny Named Food - Or, How to Get Kids to Eat Eggs

Well, we are now well into our first month of kindergarten and between dropping kids off, work, homework, dinner, etc. I am EXHAUSTED!!

However, I still have managed to cook most every night for the kids - and include veggies/fruit now and again. A couple of things I have learned over the past few weeks.

1. Kids will eat salad if you put salad dressing in a squirt/spray bottle and allow them to "spray" dressing on their salad. The problem is they spend lots of time squirting and less time eating - but if you limit the number of squirts to say "10" - it works well.

2. Kids still want to eat pizza every night. They will insist that they never have it. Even if they had it at 3 birthday parties the day before.

3. If you give something a silly name, kids will most likely eat it. Especially if you let them help make it. Say, like....

Rocky Mountain Toast (aka toast with an egg in the middle)

This recipe is for 1 piece of Rocky Mountain Toast. Obviously you do the same thing multiple times to make more than one piece. Also, I like mine with some roasted red peppers on top - but here is the basic recipe. Easy, quick, fun and the kids love it.

1 tsp butter
1 slice whole wheat/multi grain bread
1 egg

1. Prepare the toast. Using a circle cookie cutter (one that leaves about 1 inch around so the egg doesn't leak through), have the kids cut a circle in the middle of the bread. While they are doing this, heat a small frying pan (larger if you are doing a few at a time) with the tsp butter.

2. Put bread into the frying pan.

3. Break egg into the "circle." Break the yolk with a knife or fork. Don't worry if some spills over.

4. Once the egg is set and the toast is brown on one side, flip the toast and cook until the toast is browned and the egg is cooked through. Serve.

Now onto the multiple menus for the upcoming holidays.....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Of Kindergarten and Salad

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of preparing for the oldest's first foray into formalized schooling and just general end of summer craziness! Well, here's the good news - kindergarten is going extraordinarily well! He loves it! Hooray! He even is asking if a particular snack is "healthy." For some reason he seems to be stuck on canteloupe. Not that it is a bad snack - but he keeps asking.

A recent conversation went like this (me at top of stairs, son calling up from downstairs playroom)

"MOMMY!!!! Is canteloupe healthy?"

"What??? (son repeats question). Oh, why yes it is."

"Can I have canteloupe then?"

"We don't have any left. I will get some when I go to Trader Joe's. Do you want something else?"

"Yes. Do we have goldfish?"

Apparently goldfish is an adequate substitute for canteloupe. I did not know this.


Dinners have been a bit haphazard lately, although I have managed to pull lots of great veggies from our garden and make some great salads and sauces that the kids are loving! Last week we went to our local farmer's market and there was a terrific local farmer who had bunches of wonderful sun dried tomatoes. They were fresh - and so soft, with a bit of an acidity that was balanced by an olive fruitiness from the home pressed olive oil and fresh herbs that dressed them. (They also had wonderful home cured olives they had grown...but Jay doesn't like olives so I passed on the olives but bought 1/2 pint of the sun dried tomatoes). So, of course I wanted to use them in SOMETHING! At the same time, since things have been so crazy, I have been looking for quick and easy meals the kids will like and that are a bit more tasty than plain pasta.

With that in mind - this one is for all you moms out there who are hard pressed to get a quick, but healthy and fresh meal on the table.

Pasta with fresh tomato and basil sauce and Romaine salad with creamy mustard dressing

Pasta with fresh tomato and basil sauce

1 lb. fresh whole wheat pasta (penne, spaghetti, whatever you like)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
2 big handfuls of fresh basil leaves (about 1 cup total)
1/8 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes (we used the fresh ones - any you have on hand will do. If they are in oil, just reduce some of the cooking olive oil - and replace with a bit of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Bring water to boil. Once it is boiling, salt generously with about 2 tbsp of salt and add pasta. Cook until al dente and when it is done, drain and put on the side.
2. At the same time as pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in saute pan - not too hot, it shouldn't be smoking.
3. Add garlic and push around the pan to flavor oil (about 1 minute - make sure it doesn't brown - lower the heat if you need to.)
4. Add fresh tomatoes, basil, sun dried tomatoes and toss with warm olive oil over low heat about 10 minutes until tomatoes are warm throughout and have let off some of their juices. Basil will be slightly wilted.
5. Add drained pasta to the saute pan (or vice versa if the pan is not big enough to hold the pasta)

Serve with Romaine salad with creamy dressing (below)

Romaine salad with creamy mustard dressing

1-2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped

For dressing:
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or any other white vinegar you like)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 pinch salt (about 1/2 tsp to start)
fresh ground pepper

1. Whisk together vinegar and mustard.
2. Whisk in olive oil and heavy cream.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Toss about 1/2 dressing with romaine lettuce. Add more if necessary.