Crock Pot Night Meets Vegetarian Night

Tuesdays are usually crock pot night in our house.  With soccer during the day for our preschooler and CCD for me and our 1st grader in the afternoon, the crock pot helps keep my sanity most weeks.

Merge this effort to maintain sanity with my effort to bring healthier meals to the table and you get tonight’s dinner — a vegetarian creation in a crock (..and a bowl… and a bread maker…)

Ginger Carrot Soup.  Spinach Salad.  Homemade bread.

And… did I mention???…. It was simple!!

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First — the Ginger Carrot Soup.  Oh my goodness… sooooo yummy!  The WHOLE family loved it.  And my little boys had TWO HELPINGS!!  WHEEEEE!!!

This was VERY loosely based on a Guy Fieri recipe I saw in a Food Network magazine.  (the Fieri recipe isn’t made in a crock pot, for example, and his was served with a yogurt/honey dollop on top.)  But once I was in the thick of making the recipe, I realized I needed to make some changes in order to make it crock-pot friendly.  So I channeled a recipe for Butternut Squash Soup that’s tried-and-true for our family.   Here’s how I did it:

-2 lbs carrots and 2 russet potatoes peeled, chopped, and thrown into the crock pot

-cover them with chicken or veggie stock

-in a saucepan.. saute minced onion in olive oil.  once this starts to cook, add some kosher salt so it caramelizes.  add some minced garlic and some minced fresh ginger and cook for a minute or two.  toss this mixture into the crock pot.

-season with thyme, salt and pepper.  (I added a bit more powdered ginger so it would have more ginger taste.)

-TRICK TIME:  I like to do this to ‘cream’ soups.  I take a can or two of cannellini beans and blend it with my emulsion blender (right there in the can!) and add it to the soup.  It’s a trick I learned from Weight Watchers.  I feel it makes soup like this a little more hearty and adds protein to a veggie meal.

-When the carrots and potatoes are soft, blend with an emulsion blender.
-Once I’m serving the soup, I add a splash of fat-free 1/2 and 1/2.

**I was in a hurry tonight, so the crock pot was set for 4 hours.  Ordinarily, I’d cook this for 8 hours.

***Did I mention my boys ate TWO HELPINGS???

On the side, there was a Spinach Salad and my kids went crazy for this:

  • Spinach
  • heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • chopped peppers
  • mushrooms
  • cucumbers
  • shredded parmesan
  • salt and pepper
  • toss ingredients — sprinkle juice of 1/2 lemon and a little EVOO

If you have a bread maker, you know how easy bread making is.   And my kids LOVE when I make bread.  It tastes so good and makes the whole house smell warm and inviting.  Here’s my go-to recipe:   http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-bread-machine-bread/

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I’ll admit:  I had my doubts — but this meal gets a 5 fork rating!!!  Everyone loved it — and my 6yo even asked for me to put the few leftovers we have into his lunchbox tomorrow!!

Phew!  Another good review from the kids.  But, trust me.  I know what’s in my fridge and there’s a bad review in my future.  I can almost guarantee it.  I told my son what I’m making later this week and he’s already groaning!

Stay tuned!  In the meantime, happy eatings!!

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One If By Land, Two If By Sea

One chicken dinner and two seafood dinners and you have the last three nights for our family.  Some good tests for their pallets!  🙂

Night #1:  A beautiful spring night + efforts to eat healthier = Grilled Salmon and Veggies.  Salmon brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Italian herbs has always been a hit with our kids.  Admittedly, our 5yo was a little cranky that night and gave us some trouble about eating it.  We served it alongside grilled asparagus, eggplant and zucchini which our 6yo was a little resistant to. But promises of dessert helped smooth it all over and it was a nice dinner when all was said and done.

Night #2:  Dinner out on the town with my parents who were visiting.

ImageOur boys saw mussels on the menu and decided that’s what they wanted.  So they split an order of the Classic Belgium Mussels — prepared in white wine and herbed broth.

I ordered the Thai-style mussels (in a coconut curry broth) and my 3yo daughter couldn’t get enough of them.. preferring them to the mac and cheese she wanted from the kids menu!    Now — I should mention — mussels have been a favorite with our kids for a long time.  So much so, that my 5yo has begged me to buy them while we’re out grocery shopping and I’ve had to learn how to make them.  (they were surprisingly easy!)

Night #3:  Tonight’s dish brought us back on land and was a big hit with everyone in our house.  Baked Lemon Chicken ((http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/baked-lemon-chicken)) served with jasmine rice and steamed snow peas.  YUMMY!!  This will be going into the regular rotation — low-cal, easy, and enjoyed by everyone!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!

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So — for those of you keeping score — the past three nights brought three successes.   So far… I’m liking this experiment.  🙂  Hope you are, too!

Happy eating!

Sharon

A Tale of Two Dinners

Tonight was funny.  I had a little of this and a little of that.  And at the end of it all, there were two separate dinners on the table.  Usually, this is a BIG ‘no-no’ for me.  I’ve always claimed that I’m not a short-order cook and credit this with why my kids are such good eaters… but it’s just how it all shook out tonight because I didn’t have enough of one thing to make one meal.

Anyway…. for the kids on this Friday night, I phoned it in with a super-simple dinner:  raviolis.  But not just any raviolis.  Buitoni Wild Mushroom raviolis with a sauce I whipped together with a can of diced tomatoes, garlic salt, oregano and pepper.  There was some steamed broccoli on the side.

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For dinner #2 — I didn’t have enough raviolis for all of us AND the tuna steaks looks AMAZING at the market, so I made grilled tuna steaks for me and the Hubs.  The steaks were marinated in a mixture of EVOO, soy sauce, ground ginger and lemon juice for about 10 minutes on each side.

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Then we grilled them on a hot grill for about 5 minutes each side until they were a warm red inside.   They were served with steamed broccoli and a tomato/avocado salad.

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Funny thing about this dinner – (I was shocked!) – it was ALL a hit!  My kids loved the raviolis and broccoli.  Then, when the Hubs brought in the tuna off the grill, the kids all begged to try it.  They *loved* it!   Every plate was clean and there were NO leftovers!  A good thing AND a bad thing.   🙂

A side note:  my parents are visiting tonight and got here just as the kids were licking their plates clean.  So I made dinner for them, too.  My mom had a couple of the wild mushroom raviolis.  I made some of the Buitoni Shrimp Scampi raviolis for my dad.  Both of my parents really liked them.

So.. tonight’s a 7 fork night — 7 forks for the 5 of us and 2 for my parents.  A true sweep!

Happy eatings, everyone!  And have a great weekend!

Sharon

A new adventure!

Hello!

Thank you for joining me on this new adventure!

I’m a writer by education and trade:  I was an Emmy-award winning TV news producer in my former life.  But when my oldest of three children was born in 2006, I left television behind for a job as a stay-at-home mom.

I love being a mom.  The rewards and challenges of parenthood are amazing!  And, honestly, while my kids have their moments, they really are pretty awesome (if I do say so myself!)  But there’s been a part of me that misses the creative outlet the written word has provided me.  Several friends over the years have encouraged me to start a blog, but I never knew what to write about.  Until tonight.

It was 4pm and I needed a dinner plan — quick!   So I opened the fridge and found the following ingredients:

  1. eggplant
  2. zucchini
  3. tomatoes
  4. shrimp (in the freezer)

I thought four delicious items should make something tasty — so, like most nights when I have this issue, I hit the internet and this is what I found:

http://www.veggiebelly.com/2010/07/balsamic-grilled-summer-vegetables-with-basil-quinoa-salad.html

Now — if you read the ‘About Me’ section of this site, you know my kids are good eaters.  In fact, they’re such good eaters that we are constantly asked what we did to make them that way.  I think it’s because we expose them to different foods — over and over.    I also allow my children to pick new veggies and fruits they see in the grocery store and have them challenge me to come up with ways to prepare them.   (that’s how brussel sprouts became a favorite in our home.)

But we definitely have nights where the kids are a little more resistant to new foods than others.   So when I found this recipe, I thought it might encounter some backlash.   That’s why I added the shrimp — because my kids LOVE shrimp.   Here’s how it looked:

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The results were mixed: my DH and 5 year old liked it.  In fact, my 5yo said — and I quote! — “I could eat this EVERY night!”  My 6yo and 3yo were a little less enthusiastic.  But my 6yo did eat two helpings, and my 3yo ate it once she saw everyone else eating ice cream for dessert.  (in our house, if you do not eat dinner: you do not eat dessert.)

So… if I were giving it a ‘fork’ rating:  out of five forks (since there are 5 people in our family)… I’m giving this one a 3.

(a sidenote: once I get the technical hang of this blogging thing, I’ll actually include images and will figure out a way to show 3 out of 5 forks.)  🙂

Wishing your family happy mealtimes!

Sharon