Sunday, January 22, 2017

Fantastic Food Fake Out

Ever see those recipes come through your feed with only three ingredients?  Skeptical.  The pancakes are good, the energy bites are okay.  Then I saw this two ingredient gnocchi recipe.  What? There's no way.  It's sweet potato and flour.  Take a roasted sweet potato, mash it up and add enough flour to bring a dough together.  I can't believe it actually worked!



This came at a time when the last few dinners were total battles trying to get our picky eater to eat something, anything, that was somewhat nutritious.  I'm not saying flour is good for you, but getting that sweet potato in along with the delicious bolognese sauce I had already prepared, was a sneaky way of fitting in some much needed nutrients and protein.

This type of meal should be presented on a day following several previous battles at the dinner table. After hearing whining night after night of, "What?  You know I don't like that!" Responding with shame, regarding respect and gratitude and starving children everywhere.  When you switch food up, it needs to be introduced something like, "Fine.  We're having pasta tonight."  It may seem different but after the last few nights of fighting, they may be less inclined to question the look.  Yes, it's a story of great manipulation, however, certain stages of life require certain skill sets that will last as long as they're needed.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Ingredients:
1 roasted sweet potato (Poke a medium sweet potato with a fork all over, wrap in foil, roast in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until done)
unbleached, all purpose flour

Directions:  Leaving the skin behind, mashed up a sweet potato in a medium bowl.  Add flour until you're able to knead into a dough.  Cut dough into smaller portions at a time to roll into about 1/2 inch log.  Cut bite sized portions from the log then use a fork to press indentations into the dough. Drop gnocchi into simmering water.  Once the dumplings rise to the top, remove with a slotted spoon.

The entire dough. Cut smaller portions to roll into 1/2 log.


Strain the gnocchi once you remove it from the boiling water.

You'll have a delicious, fluffy, sweet vehicle to support the boldest of sauces.  Here's the recipe I used for an amazing Bolognese Sauce found on Food.com:

http://www.food.com/recipe/real-italian-bolognese-sauce-83950

If you're looking for more adult versions, consider the following sauces:
Garlic, brown butter, herb sauce
Maple, cinnamon, sage, brown butter sauce
Balsamic, sage, brown butter sauce

Amazingly, this was a winner for us especially since we never see second portions taken!  For me, it was glorious to watch all that Vitamin A unknowingly going down the hatch {insert evil laugh.}

Monday, January 9, 2017

Punishment Soup ~ Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics



Winter Break starts out so exciting, with finishing up shopping, anticipating the holidays, baking treats, delivering gifts, visiting friends and family and eating until guts burst.  It can be a whirlwind of activity up through New Year's.  Then shortly after the New Year, normally, people return to work and the kids head back to school.  Oh, but not us.  Our kids have an entire extra week off school, which having moved from the North two years ago, I'm still not used to all the school year time off they get versus a long summer vacation, which I'm properly prepared to handle. 

It's really chicken, noodle, vegetable soup

Once the Christmas decorations get stored away and that (I already got crap and no longer have to behave) magic is gone, I start feeling (in my best Madea voice) like the 'chirren are tearin up my nerves.'




Admittedly, I have my parents' voices in my head with the memory of their, "I can't WAIT for you to have children!"  Oh the paybacks hath cometh.  I don't understand how my parents made it through my brother's and my fighting.  We drove them crazy and now I know the feeling.  My mother usually handled it by yelling at us to go to our rooms.  If she didn't feel like yelling, she would take off into the kitchen and violently rattle the drawer where she kept the wooden spoons and we would run in all directions out of her sight.



Each generation seems to say, "Kids today are so different."  I don’t know if they are or not.  I haven't read a parenting book since my first born was born, so about a decade.  Most days I still don’t know what the F I'm doing.  I used to lie in bed at night and rehash all the parenting that I could have done differently that day, but now I'm even over that.  It's not at all that I don't care-- I love my kids, would do anything for them, blah, blah, okay.  We are in a stage with our little family where there is an endangered supply of fucks given.  And this is how I'm going to push through this trying phase.
   
Sending the kids to their rooms or kicking them out of the house is only a temporary solution for their personal safety.  It's not really a punishment and it's not behavior changing.  In fact, I don't have any ideas for changing behavior since I'm still saying, "Eat over your plate, please" 500-600 times a day. 

You know where you are?  You're in the jungle baby!

My parental goal is to hopefully raise kind individuals.  It's a simple, yet thoughtful goal and I'm hoping to get back to that goal in the next stage because we've temporarily detoured to, "I hope you have a plan by the time you're 18." 

So getting back to the kids fighting.  This is about their fighting.  If they have time to fight, then they have time to work.  I've decided that whatever items are not yet checked off of my to-do list, will immediately become their next redirection.  I'm totally using their fighting to my benefit, AND I LIKE IT. We hit the jackpot today. Just as poor choices were being made, I had just started dinner. 



Children should learn cooking, cleaning and organizing anyway. Mine don't have a strict schedule of chores.  The projects they don't volunteer for become distractions, gets them some one-on-one time with a parent and almost always leaves them with a feeling of accomplishment and pride.  No, they are rarely happy about it, but that's why I do it.  Hopefully they learn something from it. 

This dough is easy to roll out and cut with a pizza cutter if you don't have a noodle maker, but I feel like how Princess Vespa feels about her industrial strength hair dryer and I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT!

Recipe for Punishment Soup

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 medium gold potatoes, diced
1 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock
Bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 whole roasted chicken, picked and chopped
homemade noodles

Hand Cut Noodles (make these first)

In a food processor, using the dough blade, pulse the flour and egg.  Slowly add a very small amount of water just until the dough comes together to form a ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. 
On a floured surface, cut the dough into fourths.  Roll each section very thin then cut into desired length strips. Allow noodles to dry on floured parchment paper while preparing the rest of the soup.

Rest of the Soup:
Melt butter in a large Dutch Oven.  Add the onion, celery, carrots and potatoes.  Sautee until the vegetables soften.  Add the wine stir often while it cooks out.  Add Bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Add chicken stock and bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer and cover for about 20 minutes. Check that potatoes are soft then add the chicken and noodles.  Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  




  


  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Banana Bread...Unrefined, But Still Classy as Hell

Once those bananas get a few too many dark spots, I know they're all mine.  Sometimes I make those three ingredient pancakes.  One smashed banana, one egg, two tablespoons flour are all you need to make a healthier hot cake.  There's no leavening, no sugar, none needed.  I use coconut oil to grease the pan and that makes it even more delicious.  Top with a little maple syrup or low sugar blueberry jelly from the Farmer's Market or sliced fresh fruit.




Anyhoo, today I have four lonely, nasty looking, sugar filled pods I'm about to bust open to make this week's school snacks and after dinner dessert.  The bowl is fitting.


Past your prime potassium posse

WHOLE WHEAT BANANA NUT BREAD
Ingredients:
1 stick of butter
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
4 bananas, mashed with a fork
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugar.




Then add the mashed bananas and eggs.



Next, in a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir to combine.  Add this to the creamed mixture.  Mix just until combined.  Stir in vanilla and chopped walnuts.



Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Test with toothpick to make sure center is set.  Cool slightly then remove from loaf pan and place onto a cooling rack.  


 Now that's what I'm talking about


Friday, November 13, 2015

Takin' it Back to the Old School

Because it's Friday and we like to celebrate with chocolate, peppermint sandwich cookies.  




The kids were asking to make cookies this week.  We make the same chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal cookies all the time.  They're our favorite.  So I thought they might have some fun looking through this old timer....



Then my oldest found them.  Sandwich cookies that I'd never have attempted whenever I first acquired this book.  The dough comes together very fast but you do have to chill it for several hours or overnight.  I stuck mine in the freezer for a couple hours.


{insert yule log joke}


Here's the original recipe.  I subbed in 1/4 cup of coconut oil for 1/4 cup of shortening and I used 1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar instead of regular sugar.  I couldn't help it, it's 2015!!!



 My helper


Triple stuffing these suckas!


These were fun to make and yeah, they're not going to last very long.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homemade Pita Bread

The only thing scary about making pita bread is how hot you have to get your oven.  Although there's white flour in the recipe, this bread is so versatile, preservative free and delicious.  It's easy to store and freeze.  It's a weekend project that will save you some time planning dinner during the busy work week.  The kids get so excited when they see I'm about to make pita bread.



Pita Bread
Easy recipe but it takes about 3 hours with having to wait for the dough to rise

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees
1 teaspoon of dry yeast
2 cups of whole wheat flour
4 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 Tablespoon of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  In a huge mixing bowl, mix the yeast into the warm water.  Add the whole wheat flour and one cup of white flour.  Mix well with a spoon for one minute then set aside for about 20 minutes.  Next, add the salt, oil and one cup of flour at a time while you mix.  When the dough becomes too difficult to stir, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes.  The dough should be sticky and become smooth.  Then return the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rest for about 1 1/2 hours until it's doubled in size.  Meanwhile, make aluminum foil squares which we'll use to bake the dough.  Take a piece of foil and fold over each side 1/2 inch to make a small 'tray' to bake the dough. Make about six of these:




Save the foil trays for next time!


This dough should make at least 16 pitas, depending on the size.  You can choose to divide the dough up into smaller pieces and roll into balls or pull apart golf ball sized amounts.  Roll the dough on a floured surface and then place the 1/4 inch thick dough onto the foil.  I usually place three foils at a time directly on the oven rack for about 3 minutes.  It's better to under cook than over cook because the leftovers can be cooled, frozen and then reheated in the toaster oven on another day.  Using tongs and an oven mit, carefully remove each foil from the oven racks.  Turn the foil upside down to remove the pita onto a long piece of foil, stacking them as you go.  Bring an end of the foil up over the bread to allow the steam to continue cooking the bread.  Repeat the process.

I usually make this bread over the weekend and our first meal with it is almost always a scrumptious Mediterranean spread.  The following night we'll do 'make your own pizzas.'



Oh, and look!  These pizza toppings look a lot like what I'll use for Taco Tuesday the next night!  Chop once, use twice!  



If there are any leftovers after all that, stack the pitas, wrap in plastic wrap and then foil.  These can be stored in the freezer.





Thursday, September 17, 2015

School Snacks

It becomes a battle when the kiddos see what others eat for lunch and snacks and what I  prefer to pack for them.  It'd be easy to occasionally include a cookie for dessert if they wouldn't bring back a half eaten sandwich and untouched fruit and carrot sticks because "they ran out of time."

Supposedly, the school lunch program has made nutritional improvements but they are still selling chocolate and strawberry milk and offering ice cream for an additional cost in elementary school. Of course the kids are going to buy ice cream if it's available.  I have the ability to log into a website and see what my children purchased for lunch but I have no idea if they ate any of it.

The kids choose two days per week to buy a school lunch, while I encourage them to eat whatever vegetables are offered.  I think that's a pretty good deal for a 4th and 1st grader.

It's not like I deprive them of chips and sweets but I think it's so important to learn the value of whole food and the benefits of staying away from processed foods as much as possible.

Food manufacturers' goal is to make money.  That's it.  They want their product to look and taste delicious so consumers keep coming back for more.  It's all about the benjamins, baby.  We have to be accountable and responsible for our own health.  There are more advertisements, conveniences, and choices in America than anywhere else in the world.  We have all been subjected to images that influence our choices and it's happening to our children too.    

There still aren't daily percentages for the amount of sugar on food labels.  Gee, I wonder why? Could it be because most people exceed the recommended limit of sugar regularly?  The World Health Organization lowered the daily recommended amount of sugar to 25 grams per day, which is about 6 teaspoons (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/.) Processed food has sugar disguised as many different words which the average non-nutritionist person would hardly recognize.  Why would anyone be surprised over the childhood obesity rate or the obesity rate in the U.S. in general?

How are these family food battles handled?  Well, there's this one little word I have to use every day, sometimes hundreds of times a day, and that would be the word 'no.'  It's not easy, but it's necessary.

Here is an after school or lunch box snack I feel really good about.  I've made numerous attempts in making successful granola bars, each ending up too dry, not really tasty and falling apart into just plain granola.  This recipe is amazing.  I'm even a little reluctant to share because I'm sure I could make a boat load to sell at the Farmer's Market (but am I really gonna do that?)  



Homemade Granola Bars
Ingredients:
4 cups of quick cooking oats
2 cups whole almonds
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup dried cranberries, diced
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seed
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon vanilla
Optional:  1-2 cups of chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the oats, almonds and coconut onto a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes.



Meanwhile, combine the rest of the dry ingredients into a very large mixing bowl.  In a medium saucepan, bring the oil, syrup, honey, water and cinnamon to a simmer.



Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Remove the ingredients from the oven and add to the mixing bowl. Mix all the dry ingredients then pour the ingredients from the saucepan into the mixing bowl.  Mix well until everything is coated.  Place enough parchment paper into an 8 x 8 baking pan to hang over the edges.  This will allow the granola to be easily removed from the pan in order to cut into bars.  Pour the granola into the baking pan over the paper.  Cover with an additional sheet of parchment paper and press firmly into the pan.



Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Once it's set, carefully pull the bottom sheet of parchment paper to remove the entire snack, then cut into single serve squares.  At this point you may melt chocolate chips in 30 second intervals in the microwave until smooth and drizzle chocolate over the bars.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I always double this recipe to fit my cookie sheet!  They're that good.