Thursday, September 27, 2012

Making the A to Z .... S is for spaghetti squash

This is easy. Take a spaghetti squash, poke some holes around it with a fork so steam can escape. Put it on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. If you can stand it, cut it in half right away and remove seeds, and the flesh will scoop out much easier. Otherwise wait until it cools for 30 minutes before cutting and scooping.

Then you can do anything with it you would normally do with spaghetti. I like mine simple with a little olive oil and salt. But that didn't pass muster with E or H. H practically shoved her plate back at me as if very insulted   by the pile of golden yumminess. *sigh*

Next I tried tossing with marinara but that also did not go over well. I am not all that surprised. School started recently and E has been adjusting to that and not wanting much else to change. The first week she ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner. EVERY DAY. It doesn't mean I plan on stopping though. Lately she is clicking on the fact that life changes, whether we want it or not. And mommy will keep trying to feed her different things, whether she wants it or not!

Making the A to Z ....I is for Injera

This is injera:

It is a flatbread common in Ethiopian cuisine. But I think it has more of a pancake texture to it. It is made from teff flour.  You make a starter that ferments for 5 days, and smells rather unpleasant. Some recipes described it as grassy. More like rotting wood. Anyway, that changes when you cook it. It develops a mild sour dough taste, and soaks up the flavor of whatever sauce you use. The hubby and I had ours with chicken in peanut sauce.  

Sadly, this was not something E wanted to try - the injera that is. She saw and smelled it while fermenting and that may have turned her off it.
Injera starter does not look or smell appetizing
Here is a link to the recipe I used if you want to try:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Making E the A to Z - Meatballs and "Minnie"-strone

We are skipping ahead a few letters to M. I will circle back to those between H and M when I have chance to figure out something new and kid-friendly!

I wasn't keen on doing meatballs. E has tried them before but was not all that interested. Until our last visit to my parents' in May. I did turkey meatballs and she ate them and asked for seconds. The very next day on Dr Oz (I swear I was watching only because my mom does and the gigantic TV is hard to avoid if you're hanging out in the living room) was a recipe for turkey meatballs that had carrots, celery, pine nuts and raisins mixed in. If I could get the kids to accept them, I could delight my own palate with a more sophisticated version and they would get some extra veggies in them without a struggle. Did they eat it? Nope, but they will both eat the plain and simple kind. The recipe is below the rest of the post for anyone who has a slightly more adventurous eater.

The second M food we tried was minestrone, or as we are calling it "Minnie"-strone. Minnie as in Minnie Mouse. We watched an episode of the animated Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Minnie made 'minnie'strone. E asked if we could make it, so she helped me. Hubby teased me relentlessly about "you're making a recipe from a cartoon??" Yes, yes I am if it means she'll try it and perhaps even eat a whole bowl. 

E tells me, "Minnie said we had to put 2 onions, 6 medium potatoes, and 8 tomatoes in the blender and puree. Then add it to the 15-second fast cooker, and it'll be ready!" 
Since I knew it would take a little more than 15 seconds, I peeled and steamed the potatoes beforehand, and chopped the onions coarsely. Then we added them all to the food processor, and pureed it. We heated it in a saucepan for about 15 minutes. E then said, "It needs spices!", so we added 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. The general verdict was not good. The onion flavor overpowered everything else. E tried 2 bites and declared that maybe Minnie Mouse was not ready to be a chef. The best part of the minnie-strone for me was that E helped me buy the ingredients and 'supervised' the cooking when she normally has zero interest. 
I now have about 8 cups of this stuff in my freezer. I think I can finagle it into some kind of pasta sauce, but definitely on the list of fails. 

Dr OZ Turkey Meatball Recipe courtesy of Lidia Bastianich (a famous Italian chef and mother to that snobbish bald judge on MasterChef Joseph Bastianich)

Makes a total of about 4 dozen meatballs and 3 qts sauce

1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 lbs ground turkey meat
1/2 cup golden raisins, plumped in warm water and drained
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet and cooled

2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I make my own. Pulse bread in food processor until fine crumbs are formed. 3 to 4 slices makes 1 cup crumbs)
1 tbsp kosher salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
3 dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp pepperoncino flakes (I omitted these)
3 (28-oz) cans Italian plum tomatoes, crushed by hand (if you're like me and don't care to squish things like tomatoes, just buy cans of crushed tomatoes)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Combine the carrot, celery, and onion in a food processor, pulsing to make a fine-textured paste orpestata. Scrape the pestata into a large bowl, and add the turkey meat, eggs, oregano, parsley, bread crumbs, pine nuts, raisins and salt, mixing with your hands to combine well.

Roll the meat into golf-ball-sized balls, and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. (You should get about 48 meatballs.) Bake the meatballs until browned all over, about 18 to 20 minutes. (They do not need to be entirely cooked through, because they will cook more in the sauce.)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Toss in the onion and sauté until it turns transparent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, bay leaves, and peperoncino. Let the peperoncino toast for a minute, then pour in the tomatoes. Slosh out the tomato cans and bowl with 4 cups hot water, add to the pot, and stir. Stir in the remaining teaspoon of salt, and bring the sauce to a simmer while the meatballs finish baking; simmer sauce about 10 minutes more.

When the meatballs have finished baking, gently add them to the sauce and return to a simmer. Simmer, shaking the pan periodically to move (but not break) the meatballs, until the sauce is thick and flavorful for about 1 1/2 hours.

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