The Lonely Keyboard
So there I was: hanging out, posting some blogs when — WHAM! It hit me! The End of the School Year! And suddenly, all of my own personal extra-curricular activities stopped. Hence the lull in my posts.
But my kids still need to eat, so the cooking (and eating out) continued.
Oh yes. I ‘phone it in’ — a lot. Over the past few days, we had sushi one night; the kids had chicken nuggets when the Hubs and I went out with friends; we had hot dogs at a baseball game.
But I did make a couple of yummy dishes that I wanted to share with you:
Purple, Mayo-free Potato Salad
My daughter and I spied these purple beauties while shopping on Sunday. Immediately, I thought to myself: “Will the kids eat these?!????” I just had to give them a try. When I brought them home and my 6yo spotted them on the counter, he was also intrigued. So my hopes were high. I mean — just look at how beautiful they are!
Since I was trying this as part of another make-ahead meal, I didn’t want to roast or grill them. A potato salad seemed to be in order. But I wanted one that is mayo-free, as I was pairing it with crab rolls for dinner (don’t worry — I’ll get to those crab rolls in a minute.)
I found this recipe for Mayo-free Picnic Potato Salad online and used it as my launching point to come up with this:
- 1 lb Purple Potatoes
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- fresh chives, chopped
- chopped red onion
- fresh basil, chopped
- fresh spinach, chopped (a handful or two depending on how many greens you’re trying to get into your kids)
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- crumbled feta cheese
- salt (to taste)
- Boil the potatoes until they’re tender. When done, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- While the potatoes are boiling, put the vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, basil, salt and pepper into an old jelly jar and shake the dressing until it’s well-mixed. (this works even better when there’s some funk music playing on the iPod.)
- Put potatoes, red onion, tomatoes, spinach & chives into a large bowl. Toss with dressing. (I only used about 1/2 the dressing — and think I could have used even less.)
- Fold in feta cheese and chives until well-blended.
- Chill until ready to serve.
*ps: I made this in the morning. Total time: about 15 minutes.
*ps2: I initially stuck to the original recipe, but thought the results were a bit — well… icky-looking (here’s the before picture.) That’s why I added the spinach and tomatoes to give it a little color. I think it helped in the presentation (and the taste!)
The results: My 5 yo son ate every bite. My 3 yo daughter ate it, under duress of a potentially canceled dessert. The 6 yo who spied the potatoes on the counter and thought they were ‘awesome!’ didn’t want anything to do with them. The Hubs liked it but quipped: “you can’t taste the purple!”
He shouldn’t worry. There are some leftover purple potatoes still in my pantry. We’ll come up with something he’ll like.
Crab Salad Sandwiches
I teamed the potato salad with some crab salad sandwiches. These were supposed to be crab rolls, but after I made the crab salad I found my hot dog rolls had gone moldy. So I improvised and put it on some yummy whole-grain bread from the bakery.
Here’s the recipe I used — from one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple. And true to the magazine’s motto: it really was Real Simple. Total time to whip this up and throw in the fridge: 10 minutes (15 minutes with a preschooler tugging at your leg.)
Results: These were a success with my boys who even ate second-and-third helpings of the crab salad by the spoonful. My 3yo was a tougher sell and actually spit it out. My husband said he would have preferred it on the hot dog buns. Personally, I felt these sandwiches would have benefited from some crisp lettuce and thick slices of tomato.
But I liked that I could make these in advance and that they were ready to pull out of the fridge after a busy day. And I really like how summery they are — perfect for dinner after a day at the pool! (or even for a picnic at the pool!)
Orzo Salad with Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Olives
My dear friend was coming for dinner, so I made a tried-and-true family favorite: Cooking Light’s Honey Chicken Thighs. (I make this minus the spicy ingredients — they can’t be easier.)
But I needed a quick-and-easy side dish. If you’ve been reading this blog closely, you already know where I went for inspiration– the pantry!
I found a box of orzo, a package of sun-dried tomatoes and a can of black olives. Then I hit the fridge and found the spinach. Voila!
- 1/2 box of orzo
- parmesan cheese (handful)
- red onion (to taste)
- chopped fresh spinach (a handful)
- 1 can of large black olives, chopped (minus whatever ones you eat while chopping — for me, this is quite a few)
- olive oil (a drizzle)
- salt & fresh ground black pepper
- 1 package sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I think the package I used was 6 oz)
- Boil the orzo until it’s al dente. Run under cold water so it stops cooking.
- Toss with all of the other ingredients.
- Chill before serving.
Total prep time: About 10 minutes.
Results: I really liked this dish, but the Hubs isn’t a fan of sun-dried tomatoes. So he was just so-so on this. My 6yo picked all of the tomatoes out, but liked the rest of it. My 3yo daughter loved it. And my 5 yo — who adamantly does not like orzo — LOVED this (I think it had something to do with the savory olives and sun-dried tomatoes!)
Something I might try the next time: I’ll make this again — but will use fewer sun-dried tomatoes. And if I want to make this dish pool-side picnic ready for the summer, I might toss in some shredded chicken and sprinkle it all with some fresh lemon juice.
Here it is plated with the honey-chicken and some steamed green beans with almonds. Pretty, right?
Let me know what’s cookin’ in your kitchen!