Category Archives: recipes

Getting kids to eat right

I just read an article on the kidshealth website about Kids and Food:
Kids and Food: 10 Tips for Parents

There are ten things parents can do to help their kids eat right and maintain a healthy weight. I wish I had learned these lessons earlier. When H was little I made all the classic mistakes. She was picky, so I fed her whatever she would eat. For several years I played the part of short order cook…Meat and potatoes for J, salad for me, and the “White Diet” for H. You know the white diet: Cheese pizza, plain pasta, bread, macaroni and cheese, applesauce (the one semi-healthy approximation of food that she would eat, and still eats to this day), apple juice, scrambled eggs, toast. Just goes to show you that kids really don’t need that much nutrition to grow when they’re little. The problem is, bad habits become entrenched and get harder and harder to break. Most of my friends’ kids ate the same things, so I didn’t realize the problem. We could eat out anywhere, because restaurants always had plain noodles, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I could go about my life like I always had and five minutes before dinner think, “Oh, I didn’t make anything for H! No problem…the most difficult thing she ate was scrambled eggs and that took, what?…five minutes? Dinner’s on the table!

I can now say that H will eat almost anything at least once. The turning point for us came on a dream vacation. We had chartered a sailboat with a captain and chef. They sent us a long questionnaire about our food likes and dislikes. J and I filled ours out completely, and all we put for H was that as long as they had peanut butter and jelly she would be fine. The first day we boarded our beautiful boat in Tortola, sailed out for half an hour to a beautiful, white sand cove, with turquoise water and blue skies and sat down for an incredible lunch of a homemade quiche (**blue cheese, almonds and cranberries, recipe below), salad, and fresh fruit. H immediately asked for PB&J. After lunch I took her aside and pointed out that Chante, our chef, (who we all fell in love with) had worked very hard on lunch and that H should at least try whatever she made so as not to hurt her feelings. Being the sensitive (although picky) child that she is, H agreed. From that point on she never asked for another PJ&J sandwich, and proceeded to eat and enjoy lobster, lamb, red snapper, tuna, butternut squash, quiche, omelettes, egg tarts, and even salad!!! I don’t know why, but for some reason her palate was ready for new foods, and she became a different type of eater.

J and I try to eat healthy, but do enjoy good foods. What works for us, most importantly is PORTION CONTROL. We limit the amount of fat we cook with, try to include a variety of vegetables, and have tried to reset the portion scale that can send most diets over the top. I don’t believe in eliminating foods that you love, just because they’re “unhealthy”. We try to fill up on dense, low calorie foods, and still eat small portions of the foods we enjoy.

Recipe for Cranberry, Almond and Blue Cheese Quiche

1 pie crust — baked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large diced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cranberries — fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/3 cups slivered almonds
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces chunky blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute onion with salt in olive oil until clear and caramelized, about 10
minutes. Add berries & sugar, stir in nuts and thyme, set aside.

Combine eggs and cream with whisk. Sprinkle the nut mixture into baked
crust, sprinkle blue cheese on top, then top with egg mixture. Bake 20

Recipe for Light Crab Cakes

GREAT new recipe for crabcakes from Cooking Light magazine. Only 140 calories each. J and H loved them.

Here it is:

3 (1-ounce) slices white bread(I used wheat)
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
Cooking spray
bread crumbs, panko or matzo meal
Preheat oven to 400°.

Place bread in food processor; process until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Combine breadcrumbs and next 6 ingredients (through crabmeat). Divide crab mixture into 6 equal portions, shaping each into a 1-inch-thick patty. Dredge both sides in breadcrumbs, panko or matzo meal.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 patties; cook 1 minute on each side. Remove from pan; place on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining 3 patties. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated and golden.

6 servings (serving size: 1 crab cake)
Nutritional Information

CALORIES 140(28% from fat); FAT 4.3g (sat 0.6g,mono 1.8g,poly 1.6g); PROTEIN 16g; CHOLESTEROL 59mg; CALCIUM 94mg; SODIUM 382mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.4g

Vermicelli Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce

My new year’s resolution is to learn to cook some new dishes. We’ve been in a rut with the same few things over and over again. I made a new stir-fry recipe that uses noodles instead of rice and it was a big hit! It has peanuts in it, though, so H can’t take the leftovers to school because her best friend is allergic. Oh well, more for me!

Here’s the recipe:
Vermicelli Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce


8 ounces uncooked vermicelli
1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
8 ounces boneless chicken breast, cubed, (*vegetarian option…soy crumbles or cubed firm tofu, pressed to remove water)
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 1/2 teaspoons chili oil(You can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper for the chili oil)
2 cups snow peas, diagonally halved crosswise
1 1/3 cups red bell pepper strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons reduced-fat peanut butter
2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; set aside.

Heat sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken (or soy crumbles or tofu) and stir fry until browned and cooked through. Add green onions; stir-fry 1 minute. Remove from skillet. Set aside; keep warm.

Heat chili oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add snow peas, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Combine broth, soy sauce, and peanut butter; stir well with a whisk. Add to skillet; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken mixture; remove from heat.

Combine pasta and turkey mixture; toss well. Divide evenly among 4 shallow bowls; top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons peanuts.

I made the mistake of doubling the recipe. It still turned out good, but the pan was too small for all the noodles. Next time I’ll use a bigger skillet.

Messing up the Kitchen…but it’s worth it

The Cookie Baking has begun! The first batch of peanut butter/cracker/chocolate cookies had to be made before I could do anything else. It’s not really baking. It’s just assembling and dipping and making a HUGE mess of the kitchen. But H and J absolutely love them and I only make them once a year. This year I also did a batch with chocolate graham crackers/marshmallow creme/white chocolate for H’s friend who can’t eat peanuts. (I know, it’s so sad).

Then I made a batch of Karen’s “World’s best chocolate chip cookies”. They really are great. And if you have a stand mixer, pretty easy. Actually easier and less mess than the non-baked peanut butter things I made first. Here’s the recipe:


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 packed cup light brown sugar
2 t-spoons vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs, room temperature
3 cups all purpose flour
1 t-spoon baking soda
1 t-spoon salt
24 oz. bag of milk chocolate (not semi-sweet) chips
2 cups chopped pecans

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large bowl, beat together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until well blended.

2) In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture with a wooden spoon. Mix in chocolate and pecans. Mixture will be very hard to stir. (I have broken a couple of wooden spoons stirring it.)

3) Using 1/4 cup measuring cup, drop batter onto greased cookie sheets, allowing 3 inches between cookies. Bake 14 minutes. (I use a convection oven. Timing will probably be different in a regular oven.) Let cookies cool for a couple of minutes before removing them from the cookie sheets.

(I omitted the pecans per J’s request, but if you like pecans they’re great that way. I also added about a cup of butterscotch chips, and a few less chocolate chips.)


Pasta and Meatballs

We’re busy busy busy this week, getting ready for our first real trip to the new house in the mountains. This weekend is fall break, so there is no school on Thursday and Friday. Last night we had to finish packing and then try to squeeze in all the stuff we keep finding to take with us into the car, and still leave room for Hannah and Rosie, our 95 pound lab. Got home at dinnertime (since I had to backtrack to school yesterday to pick up the friend I forgot), and I didn’t want to do takeout. Where we live, if you want to have food delivered you’re limited to pizza or greasy chinese food, and neither sounded appealing. Here’s what I make when we don’t have much time, and J and H love it.

Pasta and Meatballs

First, boil water for pasta (whatever we have on hand, but the smaller noodles like angel hair or mini bowtie tend to cook faster). While pasta is cooking I chop up an onion and maybe a red pepper. I take a spoonful of chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil (which I buy in large quantities at Costco and keep in the refrigerator), and heat over medium in a large saucepan. The oil from the tomatoes is usually enough for sauteeing the onions and peppers. When they’re soft and onion is almost translucent i add a chopped garlic clove or two (also already chopped in jar in fridge). If I have a small bag of baby spinach, I’ll add that until it wilts down, then a small jar of prepared tomato sauce or petit diced tomatoes. Add whatever spices you like (basil, oregeno, salt and pepper), then a package of Aidell’s chicken meatballs (which I keep in the freezer to have onhand). While it’s all heating together I set the table and drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Then it’s ready to serve. Usually takes me about 20-25 minutes from start to finish and it’s so delicious. Makes the kitchen smell good, too!