Thursday, December 23, 2010

Baking for a Cause

Back in January I wrote about one of my goals for the year: to find more opportunities for community involvement and creative charitable giving using food and involving kids. This goal was inspired by Michelle Stern of What's Cooking with Kids. Well, it's December, but I achieved my goal!

This past weekend my 15 year old daughter had several of her friends over for a cookie decorating party. This has become an annual tradition for her, which I am happy to support. In addition to providing a comfortable space for her to get together with friends, I am happy to encourage any overtures she makes to be in the kitchen as she is my least kitchen-confident child. This year we headed into her cookie party deciding at the outset to donate (most of) the cookies to our church, which distributes them along with other items at a soup kitchen. The party was a great success ~ the girls all had fun, were very creative, and felt good about their donation.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

5 Ways to Connect Food and Family at the Holidays

This article originally appeared in the Dinner Together Newsletter, Family Issue, December 2009.

The holiday season offers special opportunities for sharing food and family traditions. So many of our holiday traditions are related to food, and children can be involved easily in several ways. Here are a few quick ideas.

1.            Baking and decorating cookies. A classic, but an activity I know my children look forward to and enjoy every year. Their favorite cookie-related activity is to decorate sugar cookies and gingerbread men, but I also like to get them involved in helping with other recipes. Usually, there are a few of their friends joining us for this activity as well.
2.            Food for charity. Food drives with collections of nonperishable food items are common at the holidays. Have your children shop with you and drop off donations. Or perhaps you can find an organization willing to accept all those holiday cookies you made and don't want to keep in the house! Some soup kitchen programs request cooked meals. If there is one near you, enlist your kids help in preparing a large batch of chili or stew. Explore what opportunities are in your town or neighborhood.
3.            Make food gifts. Over the years (in addition to all the cookies!) we've made pralines, jars with cookie recipes and ingredients, and jars with bean soup recipes and ingredients as gifts. These are all projects that kids can easily participate in and enjoy. 
4.            Menu planning. Include your children in your holiday menu planning. Whether you're hosting or bringing something to someone else's home, ask your children for ideas about what they would like and what they think others would like to eat.
5.            Teach traditional recipes. As your children get older and can be of more help in the kitchen, teach them your family's traditional holiday recipes. I'm looking forward to teaching my daughter how to clean and prepare mussels for Christmas Eve this year. This is how our traditions get passed down from one generation to another.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Roasted Chicken

Roasted chicken - such a basic thing, but not always so easy to make. I know I was a little overwhelmed by a whole bird at first, but now I fear no more! The recipe below works really well for me and then yields enough leftover chicken to save, freeze, and use in future recipes. Some of my favorite uses of chicken leftovers are chicken lo mein, chicken rosti (potato-chicken-egg pancakes ~ I'll have to post that recipe soon!), and chicken mushroom pasta.


6 pound whole chicken
olive oil
1 ½ Tablespoons of dried herbs*

·      Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
·      Remove giblets and neck from inside the chicken.
·      Rinse chicken and pat dry.
·      Brush chicken with olive oil (or rub oil with your fingers).
·      Sprinkle with herbs, salt, and pepper.
·      Place bird, breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan.
·      Roast until meat thermometer inserted into thigh registers 180 degrees.
·      Depending on your oven and the size of your chicken, it should take about 25 minutes per pound to cook.

*Use what you have on hand. Some recommendations that go well with poultry ~ poultry seasoning mix, thyme, sage, rosemary. If you have fresh herbs available, increase the amount that you’re using. A good rule of thumb is to use a 1:3 dried:fresh ratio.

Convection oven variation

A few years ago I got a convection oven. My favorite way to use it is making roasted chicken. The skin comes out really crispy and the meat is really moist. If you have a convection oven, decrease the oven heat to 325 degrees, and decrease the cooking time to about 20 minutes per pound.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Couple of Resources for Great Family Dinner Conversations

I wanted to share a couple of my recent finds with you all.

This Thanksgiving I'm going to try this Grateful Conversations activity with my family. I think it's a great activity for any time of the year for kids and adults of any age.

And I recently discovered the Family Dinner Download by the Huffington Post.  We tried one for the first time this week, and it really lead to some great conversation. The topics and questions seem to be geared more to tween and and teens than younger children. Sometimes engaging kids that age in conversation can be difficult so this is a welcome, helpful tool. If sign up at their site, you will receive a weekly email with a a summary of a topic from that week's news along with some insightful questions to stimulate conversation. I highly recommend it.

To all the Dinner Together readers in the U.S., best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge: A Recap

Thank you so much to all who contributed recipes for this Challenge.
I tried lots of new things myself and am very happy to have so many new recipes.
I'd love to hear from you. Did you try anything new? How did it go?
I thought it would be helpful to have all the recipe titles listed here with links to the actual recipes so you don't have to scroll through all 30 if you're looking for something.

Day 1: Sesame Green Beans
Day 2: Roasted Cauliflower Poppers from Aviva Goldfarb of The Scramble
Day 3: Veggie Pasta Fagioli from Dawn Billesbach of Menu for the Week
Day 4: Grilled Eggplant Salad in Yogurt from Little Stomaks
Day 5: Summertime Squash from Dinner Together reader, Kristin Harper
Day 6: Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts from Colleen at Souffle Bombay
Day 7: Kale Chips from Christine Cook at
Day 8: Penne with Zucchini from Oldways and The National Pasta Association
Day 9: Broccoli Calzones from Dinner Together reader, A.S.
Day 10: Cumin Carrot Fries from Michelle Stern at What's Cooking with Kids
Day 11: Cheesy Spinach Bake from the Meal Makeover Moms
Day 12: Leanne's Basic Vegetable Soup from Leanne Ely at Saving Dinner
Day 13: Zucchini Fries from Dinner Together reader, A.S.
Day 14: Salad Cups from Colleen at Picture Me Cooking
Day 15: Oven Roasted Green Beans from Lorraine at Copywriter's Kitchen
Day 16: Squash and White Bean Soup from Dinner Together reader, Kim Hanna
Day 17: Quick Broccoli Vinaigrette from Sally Kuzemchak at Real Mom Nutrition
Day 18: Kid-Friendly Cucumber Salad from Katja Rowell at Family Feeding Dynamics
Day 19: Spinach Rice Soup from my Mom
Day 20: Broccoli with Cheese - 2 Recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms and Menu for the Week
Day 21: Artichoke Mustard Sauce from Kelsey at The Naptime Chef
Day 22: Parmesan Crusted Asparagus from Maryann Jacobsen at Raise Healthy Eaters
Day 23: Broccoli Butternut Saute from Diane at The Food Evolution
Day 24: Squash Apple Soup from Dinner Together reader Jason Frishman
Day 25: Carmelized Brussels Sprouts from Nick at A Girl Named Nick
Day 26: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadilla
Day 27: Grilled Tuscan Vegetables with Balsamic Vinaigrette from my friend Shannon
Day 28: Grandma's Eggplant Parmagiana from my Grandma
Day 29: Mediterranean Carrot Salad from Deanna Segrave-Daly at Teaspoon Communications
Day 30: Souffled Sweet Potato from my Mother-in-law

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Souffled Sweet Potato

Day 30 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

When I was growing up we never had sweet potatoes much. It was not until I started spending some holidays with my husband's family that I learned to enjoy the wonderful flavor of sweet potato. This recipe comes from my mother-in-law and it is a staple at our Thanksgiving table. I have modified it slightly from her original. She used 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar; I've cut that down to 1/2 cup and am considering experimenting with 1/4 cup this holiday. The sweet potatoes are so sweet as is.

Souffled Sweet Potato

6 cups hot cooked sweet potatoes (I peel and boil them til fork tender)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs

Place sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, vanilla and nutmeg in a large mixing boil.
Beat with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Place in a 2 quart casserole dish.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mediterranean Carrot Salad

Day 29 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe was contributed by Deanna Segrave-Daly of Teaspoon Communications. Deanna is a registered dietitian and mom. I really appreciate her support of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge. She writes, "As dietitian, your project is near and dear to my heart. And as a food lover/cook, I'm so glad you adhere to the "do not hide the vegetables!" rule, too!" Deanna's recipe comes from Relish magazine. She suggests that it can be made as per the recipe or with some bagged broccoli slaw ~ how easy is that!

Mediterranean Carrot Salad

4 servings

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh mint
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and toss to coat. Chill or serve at room temperature.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grandma's Eggplant Parmigiana

Day 28 of the 30 Day Tasty Recipe Challenge

Today's recipe comes from my grandmother, one of my role models for feeding a family with love. This is one of my favorite foods. Grandma calls it Eggplant Parmigiana, and from early childhood this is what I thought Eggplant Parmigiana always was. We would eat this as a cold sandwich on Italian bread. My brothers and I all loved it, but would get curious looks from the other kids when we brought this to school for lunch. I later learned that Eggplant Parmigiana is usually served hot and with much more cheese. My grandmother gave me a tutorial in how to make this treasured family recipe about 20 years ago. I have yet to make it myself, and I don't remember my mother ever making it either. I'm not sure why, but I think it's because I consider this to be her signature dish, and while she's still living (90 years old and going strong!), I don't want to tread on her turf. The measurements for this recipe are not precise, as she just cooks by adding "a little of this, and a little of that."

Grandma's Eggplant Parmigiana

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
dried basil, a few shakes
black pepper, pinch
1 T olive oil, plus more oil for frying (I believe she used vegetable or canola oil)
1 cup flour
1 egg
garlic salt (about 1/2 tsp)
garlic powder (about 1/2 tsp)
grated parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup, plus more for layering)

  1. Make sauce by heating olive oil and cooking garlic briefly. Add cans of tomato sauce, black pepper, and basil. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
  2. Make batter for eggplant. Combine flour, egg, garlic salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Mix together with water until it is the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Heat oil in frying pan.
  4. Dip eggplant slices in batter and fry in pan until browned on both sides.
  5. Put a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of a pie pan or casserole dish.
  6. As you cook eggplant slices, layer them in the pan in the following order: sauce, eggplant, sauce, sprinkling of parmesan cheese, etc.
  7. Refrigerate.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Grilled Tuscan Vegetables with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Day 27 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe comes from one of my dear friends from high school, Shannon. She's one of those special people in my life who I still feel at home with even though we hardly get to see each other due to the distance separating us. I would love to be lingering at a table eating this together with her. Shannon's recipe comes from The Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Cookbook, whose author lives on the same small Canadian island as Shannon.


3 zucchinis, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 eggplants, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 sweet yellow peppers, cut in half and cored
3 sweet red peppers, cut in half and cored
1 small red onion, cut into rings
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp grainy mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat grill or barbecue to medium-high.

Balsamic vinaigrette: Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Gradually add the oil, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the zucchini, eggplant, yellow and red peppers and onion on the grill; cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through and nicely charred. The peppers and onions will take twice as long as the zucchini and eggplant. Remove from the grill. Cut the peppers in half crosswise, and then into strips. 

Place the grilled vegetables in a bowl and toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. 

Makes 8 servings.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadilla

Day 26 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe is one of my favorite meatless meals. It's delicious!


1 sweet potato, cooked (boiled or baked) and mashed
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil, divided
2 tsp. cumin
1 avocado, peeled and mashed
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
1 cup baby spinach leaves
4 flour tortillas, taco size

·      In a medium-sized non-stick skillet, heat 1T oil and sauté onion and garlic until soft.
·      Add black beans and heat through.
·      Stir in avocado, sour cream, cumin, and cheddar cheese.  Cook until cheese melts.
·      Spread mashed sweet potato over one tortilla.
·      Top with baby spinach, then black bean mixture.  Smooth mixture over tortilla (should only be about ½ inch or so thick).
·      Top with a second tortilla.
·      Heat ½ T oil on high heat in a skillet.
·      Brown quesadilla about one minute on each side.
·      Repeat for second quesadilla.
·      Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with salsa, if desired.

Serves 4.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carmelized Brussels Sprouts

Day 25 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe comes from Nick, of the blog A Girl Named Nick: Grammatically Correct Cooking, which offers delicious recipes with a wry sense of humor. This recipe is another brussels sprouts  recipe because you can never have too many tasty brussels sprouts recipes in your repertoire - and I know a few "purists" were put off by the bacon in the previous brussels sprouts post although I thought it was delicious.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
by A Girl Named Nick
1 lb. brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved
1-2 T olive oil
kosher salt, pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Toss the brussels sprouts with the olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees, stirring occasionally, making sure that all sides get browned and crispy as evenly as possible. Trust me, these are the best bits. This may take anywhere from 20-30 minutes, depending on how small the sprouts are. Remove from oven, place in a large bowl, eat all the browned and crispy bits before anyone else can get to them, then toss the remaining sprouts with lemon juice, parmesan, and extra salt.
Believe it or not, these are better cold.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Squash Apple Soup

Day 24 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

We're in the final week of the Challenge! Hope you've been enjoying it. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Today's recipe comes from Dinner Together subscriber and fellow psychologist, Dr. Jason Frishman. Jason and his wife are family meal and food enthusiasts, and they operate a small food company, Folk Foods. Jason's recipe is perfect for fall.

Squash Apple Soup
by Jason Frishman

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups chopped peeled apples (peeling is optional - peeling makes for a smoother soup)
3/4 cup sweet onion, chopped medium size
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 cups cubed butternut squash
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

- In 3 qt saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat, add onions and cook until translucent (about 8 minutes), add apples and cook about 5 minutes more.  Stir in ginger and nutmeg until absorbed/ Add broth and water, bring to a boil.  Add cubed squash and return to a boil.  reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until squash is tender (about 25 minutes - depending upon how large your squash cubes are cut)

- Using either a blender, food processor or immersion blender (this is the best option), blend or process until smooth.

- Potential garnishes/sides: fried garlic chips, shredded cheddar or parmesan cheese, toasted nuts (most any kind will work here,) fried sage leaves, a drizzle of maple syrup, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, small diced raw apples or onions, etc.

- Variations:
* substitute 1 can of coconut milk for water (this is what we most often do!)
* substitute a hot sauce or FolkFoods Master Sauce (shameless plug) for the ground peppers
*add a bit of cinnamon
* use leeks instead of onions
* get a little crazy and substitute sweet potatoes for the squash!
* as a time saving option you can add apples and onions together in the beginning and saute for about 10 minutes, and you can add the squash right after the onions are done and add water, then bring to a boil.

Enjoy! this one freezes really well and is easily doubled.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Broccoli Butternut Saute

Day 23 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe comes from my friend Diane Hoch, owner of The Food Evolution. If you are near the Rockland County, NY area, you have to check out all the wonderful cooking classes offered at The Food Evolution.

Broccoli Butternut Saute
by Diane Hoch

·      1 bunch broccoli florets
·      1 cup diced butternut squash
·      2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
·      1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
·      Pinch red pepper flakes
·      1 tablespoon orange juice
·      2 teaspoon orange zest
·      ¼ cup parsley
·      Sea salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt to boiling water.  Add florets to boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds.  Drain broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.  This step allows broccoli to retain its vibrant green color.
Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat; add the garlic and red pepper flake and sauté for about 30 seconds, just until aromatic.  Add the butternut squash and sauté for 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the broccoli florets and ¼ teaspoon of salt and sauté for 2 minutes, the broccoli should still be firm.  Gently stir in the orange juice, orange zest and parsley and serve immediately.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Asparagus

Day 22 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe is from Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen of Raise Healthy Eaters. Maryann is a mom and a registered dietitian who provides sound nutritional information and easy meal solutions on her blog. The recipe she shared is originally from Julie Negrin. If you haven't tried asparagus with your kids yet, I really encourage you to try it. It's probably my youngest daughter's favorite vegetable ~ something I never would have predicted from her general, somewhat picky approach to food.

Parmesan Crusted Asparagus

1 pound green (or white) asparagus stalks, ends cut off
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of ½ lemon (zest is finely grated lemon peel – it’s best to grate with a microplane)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup grated parmesan
¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Arrange asparagus on baking sheet. Whisk olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice in small bowl and pour over asparagus. Toss asparagus stalks gently to coat. Spread asparagus in a single layer. Sprinkle parmesan and salt evenly over stalks. Roast until asparagus is tender, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Serves 2-4

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Artichoke-Mustard Sauce

Day 21 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe comes from Kelsey, The Naptime Chef. Kelsey describes herself as a "Mom and a foodie." I love her concept of taking advantage of kids' naptimes to get some cooking done. It's a strategy I highly recommend if your life circumstances allow for you to take advantage of it. While it's great to involve your kids with you in the kitchen, it's certainly not always easy and sometimes preparing a good meal is more efficient and satisfying when you're doing it without little ones underfoot.

Artichoke-Mustard Sauce
adapted from The Uncommon Gourmet

14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite size pieces
¼ c. Dijon mustard
6 T.  boiling water
1/3  c. olive oil
1 t.  freshly ground black pepper
2 t.  fresh lemon juice

  1. Place the mustard in a heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water in a slow, steady stream and whisk constantly until the water is completely incorporated.
  2. Next, pour in the oil, whisking until the mixture is completely incorporated and there are no bubbles of oil left. Then, whisk in the pepper and lemon juice.

  3. Finally, add the artichokes and give them a quick stir to mix it all together.

  4. Serve as is, over fish, chicken, pork, or pasta. Or, this sauce can be kept in the fridge for up to 10 hours before being served.
Yield 2 cups of sauce.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Broccoli with Cheese - 2 Recipes

Day 20 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Broccoli and cheese ~ a classic combination. I received two recipes using broccoli and cheese and decided to include them both in one post. The first is from Dawn Billesbach of Menu for the Week and the second is from Liz Weiss and Janice Bissex, The Meal Makeover Moms.

Broccoli and Cheese Baked Potatoes
by Dawn Billesbach

"These are so good for a meatless meal."

4 large russet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1 head broccoli - chopped into small pieces
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

1) Wet potatoes, poke holes with a fork, and wrap in plastic wrap. Microwave each potato for 6 minutes on each side. Leave potato in wrap until ready to load up.
2) Meanwhile, steam broccoli on stove. In a small sauce pan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil. Place broccoli over water in a steamer or directly in water. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 - 7 minutes.
3) Load cooked potatoes with butter, broccoli, cheese, salt and pepper. Return to microwave for 30 seconds to melt cheese.

Serves 4.

Broccoli Trees with Cheesy Dipping Sauce
by Liz Weiss and Janice Bissex

1 head broccoli (about 1½ pounds), cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheeseKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Steam the broccoli until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, uncovered.
  2. While the broccoli is steaming, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly until smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, mustard, and garlic powder slowly into the flour mixture. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer and stir gently until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with the broccoli.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup broccoli and 3 tablespoons sauce): 110 calories, 6g fat (2.5g saturated), 160mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 9g protein, 50% vitamin A, 110% vitamin C, 20% calcium

Friday, November 5, 2010

Spinach Rice Soup

Day 19 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe comes from my mom. <3

This was the only way that I would eat spinach as a kid. I have fond memories of my mom making this for me, especially if I was a little sick. With winter viruses on the horizon, I'm sure I will be craving - and making - this soon. And I think this recipe could win the prize for "easiest recipe." What do you think?

Anyone else have any recipes from their childhood that they'd like to share?

Spinach Rice Soup

1 qt of chicken broth
1 pkg of chopped spinach thawed and drained
2 cups of cooked rice ( white or brown)
Pour the chicken broth into a large saucepan, bring to a boil, add the spinach and simmer for about 5 minutes or until spinach is cooked.  Add in the rice , stir and serve.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kid-Friendly Cucumber Salad

Day 18 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe comes from Dr. Katja Rowell, Director of Family Feeding Dynamics. Katja is a family doctor and behavioral childhood feeding specialist. She writes a great blog on feeding issues with children. Check her out! She is also mom to 4 year old M.

Kid-Friendly Cucumber Salad

My daughter M  really likes this easy cucumber salad. We enjoy it too. M could pour the ingredients for the dressing into the bowl at age 3. It can sit for a few hours in the fridge and tastes better, or served the next day. M likes it in little tupperware containers in her lunch at preschool. 

time less than 10 minutes prep

1 (or more cucumber) 
3 Tbspns rice wine vinegar
1 Tbspn vegetable oil (optional)
a few drops sesame oil
2 tspns table sugar      (can adjust all ingredients to taste...)

Peel,  and slice one cucumber in half. May leave the seeds in or scoop them out with a teaspoon. (Some find the seeds are hard to digest, some kids may not like the seeds.) Slice the cucumber thinly. May also add chopped red pepper for color, or shallots (mild onion) or even some napa cabbage (sticking with the Asian influence.) We all enjoy plain cucumber for now.

 Kid-tip: consider buying a set of measuring spoons and cups with differently colored handles. Its fun to say "find the red measuring spoon"  instead of "teaspoon." It gives them a sense of mastery earlier and keeps them interested in the task. Also reinforces colors and amounts as you introduce the notions of half etc. 

Put all other ingredients into bowl big enough for the salad. Have the child hold the spoon over the bowl (in case of spills.) You pour the liquid into the spoon and have them tip it into the bowl. Kids can often scoop sugar out by themselves. It doesn't have to be exact here. Have child whisk the dressing then add the vegetables. Chill and serve. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quick Broccoli Vinaigrette

Day 17 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe is courtesy of Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, LD of Real Mom Nutrition. Sally is a registered dietitian and a mom to two young boys. She writes about healthy eating with a real life perspective on her blog. I encourage you to check her out.

Quick Broccoli Vinaigrette
by Sally Kuzemchak

With veggies, I go pretty simple. My kids (and my husband!) don't like veggies mixed into main dishes, so I usually do them as a side. 

Here is one I do for myself, more of a grown-up taste with the vinegar and mustard. Just steam broccoli and drizzle the vinaigrette over it. I steam broccoli for my kids and put a raspberry vinaigrette on it (like Ken's Raspberry Walnut--my kids call it "raspberry sauce").

1 pound broccoli, steamed
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, oil, salt, and pepper. 
Pour dressing over broccoli. Mix well.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Squash and White Bean Soup

Day 16 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

Today's recipe was submitted by Dinner Together reader Kim Hanna. Thank you so much Kim.

Squash and White Bean Soup
Serves 4-6
1 butternut squash
2Tbl olive oil
1c onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1Tbl minced fresh sage leaves
1tsp coriander 
About 3c veggie or chicken stock
2 cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
6 pieces of bacon, optional

Peel the butternut squash (can be done with a vegetable peeler or with a sharp knife).  Remove seeds and cut into ½ inch to 1-inch cubes.  This step is the most time-consuming and can be done a day or two before.  Just put squash cubes into a large zipper bag and refrigerate.

In a deep stock pot, heat up the olive oil and sauté onion for 5 min over medium heat, until translucent.  Add garlic, sage & coriander and sauté 1 more minute. Add squash and stir to combine. 

Add stock--enough to just cover the squash. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 20 min.  While the soup is simmering, fry the bacon if you’re using it.  Once the squash is tender, stir the beans into the soup and simmer until they are heated through (about 5 min).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle crumbled bacon on top.  Enjoy, and be prepared for the kids to ask for seconds!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Easy Oven Roasted Green Beans

Day 15 of the 30 Day Tasty Vegetable Challenge

We're halfway through the Challenge. Seems like a good time to check in with how it's going. Have you tried any new recipes yet? What's worked? What hasn't? I've tried several new things already, and my husband and I have liked them all. I can't say that my kids have enjoyed them all though. But we will press on and keep offering them and experimenting.

Today's recipe comes from Lorraine Thompson at Copywriter's Kitchen. Lorraine is a copywriter who also loves to cook from scratch. She has some delicious recipes on her site.

Easy Oven Roasted Green Beans
by Lorraine Thompson

If you’re as addicted as I am to Chinese restaurant take-out green beans, you’ll love this recipe. You can bake Oven Roasted Green Beans to the same wrinkly, intensely flavored doneness as take-out beans.

You’ll also enjoy Easy Oven Roasted Green Beans’ hands-off preparation: Just splash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder and bake. From there on you can pretty much forget about them—well, you do have to turn them once—while you put together the rest of your meal.

Non-PC foodie secret: You can use frozen green beans for this recipe

Easy Oven Roasted Green Beans are one of the few vegetables my greens-hating youngest son will eat. So I’m delighted to be able to serve them all year long—even when fresh green beans are unavailable: Off-season you can swap frozen green beans for fresh without huge flavor loss. No need to thaw or precook—just toss the frozen beans with olive oil and seasoning and roast.

Easy Oven Roasted Green Beans Recipe
2 pounds fresh or frozen green beans—if using frozen, buy long, whole green beans, not chopped or French-cut
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus extra for greasing baking sheet
½ teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with olive oil.
  3. If using fresh green beans, wash them and trim ends.
  4. Dump green beans onto cookie sheet. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the beans and sprinkle them with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  5. Use tongs or two forks—okay, I admit I use my fingers and think they work best—to toss the green beans and coat them evenly with oil and seasoning.
  6. Bake green beans for 15 minutes.
  7. Slide cookie sheet out of oven and turn green beans over to cook evenly.
  8. Turn down oven to 325 degrees and continue to bake for another 5-15 minutes—I like the longer cooking time for drier, more wrinkly green beans. 
Serves 8.