Monday, April 30, 2012

Candice: "The Greatest Meal"

Tonight my son piled this together and declared it "The Greatest Meal." Uh, okay.

Using all those CSA greens...

I finally found my ideal use for extra greens -- smoothies. I make lots of fruit/tofu smoothies for the kids, as a snack or a supplement to summer dinners, and this week I had a bunch of spinach that just wasn't going anywhere. So I tore off half of it and put it in the blender. The five year old caught me, sharp-eyed lad that he is, and asked why I was putting greens in his smoothie. I told him it would taste better. Later, when he was gobbling it down, he told me it was better with the greens. :-)

So, when I have some lettuce or spinach that isn't getting eaten, I think I'll just toss them into the smoothie. Adds nutrients and liquids!

[I am probably the oddball who finds it way easier to use chard and kale and collards than to use lettuce and spinach.]

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tiffanie: this week's menu

I am still without an oven, but I did buy a microwave this week, so at least leftovers are easy!

I'm pulling some recipes from World Vegetarian this week, and one from Clean Food.

Meals for this week include:

  • taco night, as always! I bought a jicama and cut about a third of it into spears to eat with the tacos. I liked them, but I think I'll try adding some cayenne pepper and lime juice next time. I also ate a black radish -- they are really black! Flavor and texture are as expected, but the skin is thicker and rougher than a red radish.
  • Lentils and Onions with Garlicky Mushrooms on top. Also a dollop of yogurt is recommended. I think I'll add pita bread on the side, and a green salad.
  • My easy favorite, bok choy chickpea cashew saute. With fried onion pancakes! I made this last week, but then got more bok choy in the CSA box on Weds. So I will make it again.
  • White Beans with Rosemary. I love this combo. I bought dried baby lima beans, and I'm going to get a baguette and saute garlic and swiss chard as a side or topping.
This only gets me through Wednesday... 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lisa: Roasted Beets

I roasted beets for the first time this season. Sealed in a foil packet and baked at 400 degrees for about an hour, cooled and peeled. 6-year-old devoured one, and I had another with feta, mangoes, toasted walnuts and almonds, and baby spring mixed greens for a refreshing lunch today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tiffanie: this week's menu

We moved in last Thursday, and haven't really unpacked the kitchen fully yet. Also, I am lacking a microwave and oven temporarily, so all my cooking has to be on the stovetop.

This week's planned dinners:

  • taco night (fried mushroom, refried beans, yellow rice, scallions, radishes, lettuce, cheese for the kids)
  • kale and tofu scramble with cherry chipotle sauce (I ran out of jam, only had some experimental cherry jam I canned last summer. Didn't jell well, but tasted great for a sauce).
  • peanut noodles, broccoli, onion pancakes, mangos (I bought those small yellow ones after seeing Bernadette's post)
  • a bok choy chickpea saute with cashews over rice

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lisa: What We're Eating

Last week, this week:

Grilled salmon - We're trying to eat fish once a week, and grilling is so quick and easy. Made a lot for Sunday dinner, so it also became spring greens salad with salmon, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and sesame-soy dressing, and a salmon-filled onigiri (rice ball) for my daughter's lunch box
Chinese broccoli with garlic and oyster sauce
Shrimp tacos in corn tortillas with avocado, salsa and lime

Roasted beets - 6-year-old is so excited. She loves beets. Planning on a beet and feta salad.

Blanched beet greens served cold with soy sauce
Roasted sweet potatoes - 6-year-old demanded to pick out her own and is even more excited about this than about the beets
Simple pasta - Fusili with fresh fava beans, garlic and butter - for the kids; they loved shelling and skinning the favas
Fresh sugar snap peas and snow peas from the garden
Champagne mangoes
Navel oranges, strawberries, apples
Yogurt and fruit smoothies and smoothie popsicles with chunks of fruit
Turkey sausages, potatoes, sugar snap peas

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bernadette: This week's menu

This week is all about getting more vegetables in our diet and eating a little lighter since we haven't been eating the most balanced meals lately....
  • Linguini with Avocado and Arugula Pesto. A good summer pasta and it makes the noodles green. The toddler liked this when she was 18 months but we'll see if she freaks out at the color this time around. Lately, she's been obsessed with only eating white and pale yellow foods.
  • 7 Vegetable Couscous with Spicy Harissa. A favorite with my husband and me. The toddler tends to just eat the chick peas, which I sub in for the lima beans listed in the original recipe. This is a vegan recipe but we don't miss the meat.
  • Rotisserie chicken and salad. This one is a bit of a cheat since I'm not actually roasting my own chicken, but I like not having to fuss and I can turn the leftovers into a chicken salad of some sort. I also have a lot of salad greens and it's nice to have one really quick meal to prep for those days when my energy is sapped by dinnertime. 
  • Curried Chicken Salad - Using up the leftover rotisserie chicken. This one will most likely turn into snack and lunch for me. I've tried other curry chicken salads but this one is a new one although similar to others I've tried.
  • Vegetarian Black Bean Chili. A new recipe for me. I'm not sure if I'm going to make this one because we've had a lot of Mexican/Southwest food lately, but it'll use up the leftover black beans in my pantry. 
Snacks: raspberries, strawberries, mango, grapes, cheese, crackers.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bernadette: back to the kitchen

With more than a week of illnesses by various members of the family, including a case of pneumonia, as well as a move earlier this week, we've been eating out - or ordering in - a lot. Too much. So I'm looking forward to some very simple to make, home cooked meals.

Today, lunch was a bit random with PB&J sandwiches for the toddler and leftover pasta for me, but I served a little mango before we dug into our respective entrees. This particular mango was one of the smaller, yellow champagne mangoes which are sweeter than the big green and red ones. The toddler has loved mangoes ever since she could eat finger food but for some reason I haven't bought them for awhile. Growing up, we always just sliced the mangoes into slivers, but years back, I saw Martha Stewart serve up mangoes in a much prettier way.

The toddler refers to mangos served up this way as "puzzles."
The presentation delighted the toddler and she's getting the knack of taking her spoon to scoop off the cube of her choice. I still have to help her a bit though since she can get a little fastidious at meal times.

I also finally figured out where the movers stowed the slow cooker and made beef and black bean chili. I used the precut beef stew meat from the butcher and plopped it into the slow cooker along with the black beans, red onion, garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water. Eight hours later, the toddler refused to touch it so she had pasta noodles and the husband and I had delicious chili. The recipe recommends topping the chili with diced red onion and sour cream but the husband topped his with pasta (weird because I would think pasta would go on the bottom) and I topped mine with sliced avocado and shredded colby jack. I like this recipe a lot because it's 10 minutes of prep for a big, hearty meal packed with a lot of rich flavor.

My food photography skills need a bit of work.
We're going to eat leftovers til I figure out the next batch of dinners. I'll re-form the leftovers from our turkey taco night earlier this week into turkey taco salad and eat more chili. As for next week, I've only decided on making linguini with avocado and arugula pesto and will figure out the rest later.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Candice: Small Chefs

Ever since our son started preschool we have been trying to let him do more on his own. Since he is so very interested in cooking we modify things to let him help out at dinnertime. There are a few things (mostly prep) I've found successful and would like to share in case they help anyone else with their small people.

1) Knives! Okay, not really. But we do have a wavy pressure blade we got from a Montessori catalog. It cuts with pressure against the cutting board, with both hands on the handle. He's used it on bananas, sausage, carrots, onions, and other fruits and veggies. I always make sure to work nearby in case there are issues, of course.

2) Stirring and mixing! This is an easy one, but we do try to make sure he doesn't touch raw meat or eggs. It's helpful to use a much larger bowl than you think you'll need.

3) Herbs and spices! Little Miss really likes this one. It's super-easy for them to dump a pre-measured pinch bowl full of something into the recipe.

4) Pushing buttons! We let him press the buttons on most everything, with supervision. Hovering, neurotic supervision. I keep one hand on the device even if it has an auto shut off.

5) Moving prepped food to it's serving vessel! Even if he can't help cook a dish, he's usually eager to help get it on the table.

6) Setting the table! Other than our wedding china and the steak knives he's good. He also lets his sister hand out the napkins, which is way too cute.

7) Serving himself! Before we had kids my husband always plated each meal but now we put everything in a serving dish and let the kids choose their own portions. Well, the toddler makes a valiant effort.

Lisa: What We're Eating

Last Week/This Week:
Crepes for breakfast. I like them with cheese, kids like them with fruit or jam.
Overnight refrigerator oatmeal with chia, honey, and fresh mangoes
Salmon, probably with quinoa or rice
Skirt steak, probably with teriyaki marinade
Oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots
Dou Miao (Pea Shoots) with garlic, soy sauce and oyster sauce
Chinese broccoli
Spinach and cheese ravioli
Fresh organic strawberries from the farmer's market, yum
Chicken vegetable noodle soup with stock made from rotisserie chickens on sale at Whole Foods
Crock-pot split pea and ham soup with carrots, potatoes, onions and celery

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Deadra: Natto

So I am all freaky and like to ferment foods in my kitchen. It's not uncommon to see something brewing on my counter. Vats of vegetables, homemade kimchi, various types of keifer, yogurt, you name it, I'll ferment it. (I've even tried my hand at injera, and failed, miserably).
However I've never really considered making natto, not sure why, I love it and eat it sometimes. (And I would love for my kids to like it, any ideas how to serve it up sweet for them?)
Today I stumbled onto this video, and it looks so easy! Pretty much just like making yogurt! Although I think I'll use my dehydrator to maintain the temperature, and I don't think I need to double tent it and put it in a bag.
I'll keep you all updated! Then I'll share!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tiffanie: this week's menu

I'm moving this week on Thursday, so cooking will be kept to a minimum!

Sunday: taco night with mushrooms, and CSA radishes and lettuce.
Monday: Lal dal over jasmine rice, salad
Tuesday: winter squash soup (my favorite pumpkin soup recipe from World Vegetarian), spiced pita crisps. Maybe a caramelized onion rice lentil mashup? I love those.
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: take-out!
Friday: uncertain... maybe more takeout, or sandwiches.

I'm leaving my huge kitchen, with the huge fridge and freezer, and moving into a normal sized space. It's going to be different! I'm going to have to set up an extended pantry in the adjacent garage; I use way too much bulk to be constrained by the cabinetry. :-)

Lisa: Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal

I had never heard of overnight refrigerator oatmeal until I saw it on Pinterest. Had to give it a try last week.

Though the little jar idea is cute, I elected to just triple the one-jar recipe and then add toppings later so that the fruit would be fresh and each person could have whatever portion size and topping they wanted. I used honey, oats, chia, Greek yogurt, and milk, as the recipe recommended. In the morning, I topped with fresh chopped mangoes and strawberries.

Verdict: A hearty breakfast. I liked it but didn't adore it, though would consider making it again as an easy way to include chia in our diet. After all, I have a giant bagful of chia seeds waiting around in my cupboard. I thought the chia softened up to a nice, less-crunchy texture, after soaking overnight. The oats? Well, they were a little to "oaty" for me. I think I prefer the comfort of cooked oatmeal. My 6-year-old ate it up, but the 4-year-old rejected it. But perhaps if I did the cocoa-banana-peanut butter version, everyone might gobble it up? And with summer and berry season just around the corner, I think I'll be more in the mood for something cool and yogurt-y.

I will probably try this again sometime, but perhaps with variations. Maybe I'll even just soak chia in Greek yogurt overnight and forgo the oats entirely, or reduce the amount.

Deadra: Menu! and embarking on a grain free diet.

Okay my first menu on here! I've finally gotten my stuff together to get this out to you!

Sunday: Chicken!
Monday: Beef Stew
Tuesday: Beef roast and honey glazed carrots.
Wednesday: Liver and asparagus.
Thursday: Mama's going out for a MNO, so Daddy's on dinner patrol. I suspect it'll be left overs, or soup.
Friday: Lamb ball soup*

Lamb ball soup is lamb meat balls in a chicken and beef mixed broth with tomatoes and greens. It's really yummy.

I'll also try my hand at coconut flour muffins and some almond flour scones.

My 4 year old has been having some digestive issues, so I'm going to start eliminating grains from our diet and if that helps we'll reassess, if we do have any grains I'll be sure to soak them first to make them more digestible.
Essentially a grain free diet is a paleo diet, or a caveman diet. Which means more meat and fat, which makes my husband happy. We'll still consume milk and dairy products, but I'll try to keep them either raw or fermented as much as I can. Hopefully this works so we don't have to either take a more drastic approach or resort to doctors and scary medications. (don't worry so far it's nothing serious, but considering family history, I just want to head this off before it becomes and issue, after all she's only 4!)
My husband is worried about how breakfasts will be since we have a pretty grain heavy breakfast every day, and frankly it's something I worry about too, I suspect the first little while will be difficult, but it will get better. I foresee scones, muffins, fruit and yogurt. He's also worried about eating out. I guess we'll have to curb that for a while, which frankly I am okay with right now, since eating out has become a chore for me.
With a change like this it means I have to be more organized, which isn't scary for me. I am not the best at keeping stuff like this organized. Over all though I don't think it will be too much of a change for us since beyond breakfast we don't eat a lot of grains. I'll still permit some quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth, but I want to steer clear of wheat and the like. (I guess pretty much gluten free.)
I'll keep you all posted!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Candice: Failure Week

This was a bad week in nutrition, folks. I never made a plan last weekend, didn't get to the grocery store, and things never came together. It would be a shame not to document our adventures in eating badly:

Monday I sautéed onions, celery parsley, spinach, and hamsteak. I served it with some kind of TJ's couscous mix. It was okay but kind of weird and random. Tuesday I begged off on cooking, so my husband elected to bring home a Boston Market meatloaf feast. Mmmmm, reconstituted potatoes. Way to go, husband. Wednesday we were on the road at dinnertime with angry children and succumbed to the siren call of In-n-Out. Thursday night my husband abandoned us for a 3D printing class at TechShop. The children requested eggs in a basket (fried eggs in toast) and refused to eat them. Tonight I was too exhausted to cook so the husband concocted a weak but edible nacho night. And now we're about to eat ice cream, after which I plan to hide from the children and read shelter magazines.

Deadra: Mexico eating and refried beans

My little family just returned from Mexico where we stayed in an all inclusive resort, which was nice, relaxing and all of those good things. But the food? Was bad! I was so excited to go to Mexico and have some authentic Mexican food, because since I've been living in California I've had tastes of varying levels of authentic Mexican food, and you know, I like it! But the food at the resort was horrible. There were a bunch of different types of restaurants: Asian, Italian, Mexican, French and a buffet. We tried the Asian, Mexican and French and the buffet out of convenience. It was all pretty bad. And now I feel like a total snob. To be fair the food at the wedding was good though, although the stuff the kids were given was pretty slap dash. ("chicken" nuggets and spaghetti?) So I am happy to be home to cook again, and get some healthy food into my family after a week of too many icecream cones and lots of virgin frozen margaritas.
The best food thing about the resort though, was the fresh papaya. How I love papaya!
My 4 year old decided that she needs to survive on refried beans while we on vacaiton, so I figure I should learn to make them.
Today I did just that.
Easy, not authentic, Refried beans.
1 can of black beans, no salt added, mostly drained
dash of cumin
sprinkle of salt
spash of Bragg's or soy sauce

Spill the can of beans into a small pan, with a little of the liquid, and heat,
add seasonings to taste and then mash the little suckers until you have the consistency you prefer.

(over brown rice with ghee if you're my children)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tiffanie: this week's menu

We just came back from two weeks in Orlando and a cruise, so I am so very grateful that my CSA box comes today. It was a fun and educational vacation (we attended a conference on the cruise), but the food did not agree with me! Everything tasted so processed and salty and fake, and they were not prepared for vegetarians/vegans. We stayed for a few days at the Hilton (which has lovely breakfast food), and Evan was trying to get a vegan sandwich made out of their sun dried tomato hummus. He'd eaten it as a meal (it's an appetizer) twice and wanted to branch out a bit, and they were really friendly about it. But when it arrived! Ha, it was a tortilla with a ridiculous amount of hummus in it, and that's it. It looked like a fat hummus burrito. Another time he wanted the breakfast burrito with no meat/dairy in it, but forgot to also mention no eggs... I guess vegans are a Californian thing. :-)

Anyways, this week! It's practically over, but I've got two meals planned...

Today: vegetable curry with tofu and rice. Simple, easy, fast.
Thursday/Friday: vegetable soup made with whatever I have on hand from the CSA box, and homemade bread. On the second day I'll add pasta or rice to the soup to change it up.

Here's what I get in the box today:
  • Arugula
  • Red/Purple Radishes
  • Loose Chantenay Carrots
  • Leeks
  • Winter Squash (Marina Di Chioggia, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, Carnival, or Delicata) 
  • OR Loose Red Beets
  • Broccoli Shoots
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Oyster Mushrooms
The leeks and carrots will go in the soup, along with the celery root from the last box I picked up. I hope I get beets, as I'm swamped with winter squash. The arugula and broccoli shoots would be good sauteed with garlic over pasta. Maybe with the mushrooms. Radishes I like to eat raw, or on salad. I should make some simple ginger potato squash soup with all those winter squashes soon. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lisa: Quinoa Salad

I love quinoa, and have been wanting to try a quinoa salad recipe. The opportunity came this week, when it was my turn to bring snack for the parents at preschool. Lots of chopping involved, but results were worthwhile. I'd make it again.

The tastiest parts to me were the balsamic vinegar red onions, apples and cheese. The fennel and celery add additional crunch. So fun to cook with fennel. It's a rarity for me. The kids enjoyed trying it for the first time, too.

It tasted even better to me after a day or two of letting the flavors soak in and mingle in the refrigerator. And no problems with wilting; everything keeps nicely.

Substitutions (suggested by the friend who passed on the recipe):
-Spinach instead of arugula
-Red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar
-I chose Pink Lady apples, and loved the tart-sweet flavor
Also, I wanted to use Parrano cheese instead of Gouda, but didn't find any at the store

For the quinoa, I used organic tri-color from Trader Joe's, and cooked it in the rice cooker instead of on the stovetop.

I set aside a small amount of salad without the balsamic vinegar red onions or red wine vinegar (for those with dietary restrictions prohibiting alcohol), and I actually ended up really liking that version, too. It's less tangy without the vinegar, so it's a milder combo of veggie flavors, olive oil, salt and pepper. If I were short on time, I might make that one, since it would cut the step of cooking the red onions.

Bonus - my 6-year-old even ate some as a side for her dinner.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lisa: What We're Eating

Eating this week:

Grilled salmon, roasted red potatoes with olive oil and salt
Oyako donburi with rice
"Mini" Caprese salad with small mozzarella balls (ciliegine), fresh basil, grape tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
Meat ravioli (made by Mother-in-Law)
Overnight steel-cut Crock-Pot oatmeal

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Somen Salad with Egg, Char Siu, Lettuce, and Green Onion

Recipe from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook
Tonight, I tried this recipe for somen salad and both the husband and toddler liked it well enough that I'm adding it to our summer meal rotation. It's a nice and light, refreshing dish, great for summer since it is served cold or at room temp, and as Lisa pointed out in a different post, good for picnics and potlucks. The husband ate two big bowls while the toddler carefully picked each noodle up one by one and slurped it up (although she can use a fork, this method helps her weed out any other ingredient but noodle and dressing).

The recipe was very easy to make, mostly just chopping and mixing ingredients. The somen itself takes only two minutes to cook in boiling water. My only changes were that I left out the kamaboko (fish cakes) because I didn't have them and I used less oil than the recipe calls for and substituted some sesame oil in place of the canola oil. This dish will definitely make it on the menu for a party or picnic and I may try adding edamame, julienned carrots and/or cucumber, next time around to see if I can get some veggies into the toddler.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Candice: Salad Schemes

Since making salad is such a chore for me while cooking each night, I'd like to make some salads ahead of time and trot them out a couple of times during the week. Lisa pinned this salad earlier this week and it looks like a good candidate:


4 cups cooked organic quinoa
1 cup cooked wild rice (I used Bob's Red Mill's quick cooking wild rice)
1 cup cooked lentils (I used Bob's Red Mill's petite french lentils)
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped and roasted butternut squash
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Chopped basil to taste (optional)

Candice: The Week Ahead

Once again, I failed to go to any of the local farmer's markets this weekend. Oh, well. Coming up this week:

Monday (sans Mama): Leftover chicken piccata
Tuesday (sans Mama): Trader Joe's Frozen Something
Wednesday: Rancho Gordo's Posole Rojo recipe
Thursday: Spanish Style Chicken Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing
Friday: Apple-Cranberry Salad with Creamy Lemon Vinegarette
Saturday/Sunday: Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

Candice: Bastardizing Cook's Illustrated's Chicken Piccata Recipe

Saturday we started an epic Chicken Piccata assembly line. I was in charge of pounding, seasoning, and flouring twelve chicken breasts that were then passed along to the husband for his part in the process.

Cook's Illustrated calls for shallots but we often use onions. I also insist on extra capers. And I always cut corners on trimming the chicken…I rarely cut off the cutlet, and never trim the fat. No one has complained yet. This time we used meyer lemons from my friend's yard.

Pan frying delicious, delicious chicken meats. These are Whole Foods-branded organic chicken breasts. I may have flattened them a bit too much, but the mallet is so much fun.

We were gifted mostly-matching aprons, so I silkscreened a skull on mine. It's a dingbat from a long-forgotten typeface.

After they're cooked they sit in the oven awaiting delicious sauces. Don't mind our pizza stone. It's mostly there to help regulate the oven's temperature. How this is supposed to happen is beyond me. I blame Alton Brown.


Plated! I kind of bludgeoned this chicken breast into something resembling a continent.

Candice: Vacation Cooking, in which I fail at food porn

My husband took the last week off work for a much-deserved break. We challenged ourselves to use just the ingredients we had on hand for most of the week, so there were some…interesting meals.

Monday we had marinated skirt steak, quinoa, and a pile of broccoli. Little Miss inhaled the broccoli. Good job, kid. Next time I will add more to the quinoa, and try for some kind of salad-y side. I always get so caught up in making the hot things that I forget about the cold things until it's too late.
Tuesday my husband decided to make meatballs from scratch. I made some pasta sauce. Everything we going great until we realized we were out of pasta (dur). So we had polenta…with a side of corn (double dur). Still, the kids ate it.