Friday, January 18, 2013

Eat it already!

I have the pickiest kids in the world.  I know, you have the pickiest kids in the world, too.  We all have the pickiest kids in the world . . . just when you think you know what they'll eat, they change it up on you.  And then you have to play the guessing game all over again and put up with your 18-month old throwing his meal on the floor bite by bite after you slaved over the oven all afternoon.

Doesn't make cooking a full balanced meal very rewarding.  So if you're like me, your kids end up eating a lot of eggs and toast, pancakes, or some sort of pasta.  But even then, no guarantees.

A few weeks ago I decided to make ravioli.  We needed a quick meal or Jude was going to start gnawing on my leg, and I had a bag of cheese ravioli in the freezer.  Boiled some water, threw in the frozen pasta squares, and steamed some broccoli in the (vain) hope that either child might eat something green.

The green was a flop, but the ravioli?  Total hit!  Both kids gobbled it down faster than I could put it on their plates . . . you'd have thought I served them nectar of the gods (otherwise known as ambrosia . . . I looked it up).  I was thrilled, as I had been serving up one floor dinner after another that week.  After all, ravioli is (sort of) balanced . . . carbs, dairy, and the sauce counts as a veggie, or so the spaghetti sauce commercials claim.

Just one week later I was again short on time and hadn't planned well . . . the quiche I had made was still not done and the kids were about to melt down if I didn't shove some food in their pie holes and put them to bed.  Ravioli!!!

But no.

In one week both children had developed completely different taste buds and wouldn't touch it.  I take that back.  Sophia ate one bite, drank her whole cup of milk, and declared she was full.  And could she have dessert now?  Meanwhile, Jude touched all of his.  Just long enough to throw them on the floor.


Imagine my joy, then, when this week BOTH kids ate a balanced meal for dinner two nights in a row!  VEGGIES AND ALL!!!  Now that I am done dancing around the kitchen in joy, I am going to share the recipes with you, in hopes that your children may also partake.

The first recipe is an adaptation of a family recipe, invented by my grandmother.  The story as I understand it is as follows . . . they lived on a farm and had lots of goats.  The goats produced lots of milk.  Something had to be done with the lots of milk.  So they made lots of cottage cheese.  Now what to do with lots of cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese pancakes!  Now, before you turn up your nose, hear me out.  These are delicious.  And there are no chunks involved.  All the cheese melts into deliciousness, and I have had people who swore they hated cottage cheese take one bite and change their minds.  My adaptation was to take out the cooking oil and brown sugar (because we use butter and a sweetener on top) and add in apples and spinach.

Laurel's Cottage Cheese Pancakes
1 cup cottage cheese (I use low fat)
4 eggs
3/4 cup flour (approximately)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk (approximately)
2-3 apples, chopped up in food processor peels and all
a couple good handfuls of spinach, also chopped up in food processor

I throw everything in a bowl and mix it up all at once.  Do not mix the batter in the food processor, even though you have it out already!  Been there, done that.  Makes for some funky pancakes, and not in a good way.  Fry on a pan or griddle, on medium-low heat.

Now, toppings.  Real maple syrup is a classic, and always popular on these pancakes.  My kid's favorite, though?  Cinnamon sugar butter . . . a little goes a long way, and makes an already great pancake straight up amazing.

Cinnamon Sugar Butter
1 stick of butter
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Whip it all up together in your mixer, and store in the fridge.


Ok, so my kids ate breakfast for dinner, again.  Hey, it had fruit AND green veggies.  The real triumph came the next night.  When they ate undisguised vegetables!

Without further ado, the easiest meal you will ever make that your kids just might eat.

Chicken with Indian Spices (courtesy of a Hannaford recipe card)
2 lbs chicken (drumsticks, boneless chicken breast, whatever your family prefers)
16 oz plain yogurt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix spices in yogurt.  Pour mixture over chicken, turning to coat all sides.  Let marinate in fridge for at least two hours, or overnight.

After marinating, pour chicken and yogurt mix into a pan with lid.  Cook on stovetop over medium-low heat with lid on.  Turn once to cook thru.

Sweet Potato Chips
Slice up a sweet potato using food processor slicer attachment (I tried slicing these by hand a few times before I had a processor, but flunked at cutting them with any sort of consistent thinness).  You want to have pretty thin slices . . . not translucent, but not like you are making fries, either.  Put in a bowl, drizzle olive oil on top, and sprinkle on salt, pepper, and paprika (it's like Blues Clues!).  Stir it all up so that the slices are coated with olive oil.  Bake at 425 on a greased cookie sheet for 5 min, then flip them over and bake a few more minutes, until the edges are a little crispy.  But watch out . . . these buggers will burn quick if you forget about them!  Whoops.

Last but not least . . . 

Place a few baby spinach leaves on plate.  Pour a dollop of ranch dressing.  Voila.

I know, the dippers are kind of a cheat.  But it gets my kids eating green veggies, and my dollop is pretty small.  Not nearly as big as the dollop I use when destroying a pepperoni and banana pepper pizza.

Notes on the chicken/sweet potato/spinach meal . . . I only had a pound of frozen boneless chicken breast on hand, so I halved the recipe and put it all in a big tupperware in the fridge the night before.  By the time I went to cook it, the chicken was thawed and nicely marinated, and my effort the night of was only half an hour total.  For real, not like the time estimates they give you in the Martha Stewart cookbooks.  Although if you don't have a food processor it will take you about seven hours to cut the sweet potato.  Good luck.

I am still euphoric over the fact that my kids have actually been eating what I cooked for them this week.  In fact, they are now on a three-night streak, having eaten full servings of the lasagna (and dippers) that I made for dinner tonight!  The pressure is on . . . what to serve tomorrow night?! 

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