Friday, June 26, 2009

Yogurt-Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

I made this up when my kids were little and into dipping things. We all still love this.

1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1-2 Tbs. natural peanut butter (I use creamy, but if your kids like chunky that will work too)

Fruit to dip: sliced apples or pears, bananas, strawberries, pineapple chucks, etc.
  1. Combine yogurt and peanut butter in small bowl until smooth.
  2. Sprinkle with cinnamon and stir.
  3. Serve with sliced fruit.

Best Banana Bread

My kids love this. In fact, during the school year my daughter will often come home and ask to make banana bread for snack. I think she would cook or bake every day after school if she could.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped coarsely and toasted (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 very ripe, soft large bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 vanilla yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and walnuts in a large bowl; set aside.
  3. Mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Scrape the batter into prepared loaf pan.
  4. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Don't over bake. (I start checking it at 50 minutes... I hate dry banana bread!)
  5. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Continue cooling.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grilled Vegetables

I'm not sure what it is about grilling, but my kids will eat almost any vegetable if it's been touched by a flame. Things they normally think are "gross", are suddenly eaten without a murmur. Go figure! 

When I make these I usually do a bunch so we can have left-overs the next day. I use a gas grill, but I'm sure you could do the same on charcoal. If you use charcoal, keep a close eye on the vegetables as you may need to move them around if things start cooking too fast.

2 red peppers, washed and each one cut into eighths
2 zucchini, washed and cut into long strips (make sure they're thick enough not to fall through the grill)
2 onions, quartered and then pulled into 2-3 layers
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Other vegetable options: asparagus (FABULOUS!), any kind of pepper (yellow, orange, green, etc.), eggplant, mushrooms (use big ones -- I like them whole), broccoli (it gets a little dry, but still good)

  1. Preheat grill on high.
  2. Put all prepared vegetables into a large bowl. Pour on olive oil and salt and toss gently with your hands. Try to get some olive oil onto each vegetable.
  3. Adjust grill heat to medium. Place vegetables on grill in single layer. I place the zucchini perpendicular to the grill lines so that they don't fall through. I segregate the peppers since they take the longest to cook; that way it's easy to get to the zucchini and onions. Close lid.
  4. Cook onions and zucchini for 2-3 minutes and then turn. You should see grill marks on the sides. Of not, you may want to turn up the heat. Continue cooking the peppers.
  5. Cook onions and zucchini an additional 2-3 minutes. At this point, if they are limp when you move them around, they're done. Check the peppers for grill marks and turn over. 
  6. Continue grilling peppers an additional 3-5 minutes until they're limp.
  7. When the peppers are droopy, remove from grill.
  8. Tent with tinfoil on a platter until ready to serve.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Corn and Bean Salad

My kids like this salad because they can pick out the ingredients they don't like. I like it because it tastes surprisingly refreshing on a hot summer day. 

1 can black beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can kidney beans
2 cups frozen corn (cooked and cooled)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup red onion, chopped

2 Tbs lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Rinse beans really well in cold water.
  2. Add corn, cilantro/parsley and red onions.
  3. Combine cumin, salt, sugar and pepper in red wine vinegar and lemon/lime juice. Whisk in olive oil.
  4. Toss vinaigrette and bean mixture. Chill.
  5. Bring to room temp before serving -- it really does taste better when it's not cold.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lentil Soup

I can't believe I'm posting a soup recipe in June, but it still feels like soup weather to me. Hopefully, we'll see the last of the chilly, rainy weather SOON!

My kids both like this and have even made it once or twice themselves with a little supervision. You can make it vegetarian by eliminating the ham hock -- it tastes just fine without it.

1 cup dry lentils
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots (I always cut these big so my daughter can pick them out)
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. tried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 ham hock
2 cans vegetable broth or chicken broth (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups water
  1. Rinse the lentils. In a large crock pot or soup pot, place lentils, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaf and ham hock.
  2. Stir in vegetable or chicken broth and water.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 8 hours, or on stove top for 2-3 hours. 
  4. Remove ham hock and let cool slightly. Discard bone and fat and return meat to pot. Discard bay leaf. 
  5. Serve with oyster crackers and fresh, chopped parsley.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Baked Apple Pancake

This is great for breakfast, but it also makes a yummy dinner on those nights when breakfast-for-dinner seems like the best plan.

This serves 4 of us with normal sized portions. If you have big eaters in the house, I would do 1.5X or even double it.

2-3 Tbs. butter 
2 apples, pealed and thinly sliced (I usually use Granny Smith, but any kind will do)
6 eggs
 1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2-3 Tbs. brown sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Melt butter in baking dish in the oven.
  3. Add sliced apples and put back in oven until they sizzle.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Will be lumpy!
  5. Pour egg mixture over apples. If you choose, sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed and brown.
  6. Serve immediately with syrup.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

I love asparagus. My kids are very lukewarm on this particular vegetable, but here's a way that at least my son will eat it -- my daughter still turns up her nose. Neither of them like balsamic vinegar so I set aside a few pieces before I put it on. I know we're almost to the end of asparagus season, so before it's gone (and all you can get is imported from South America), give this a try, it's really good.

1 large bunch of asparagus, bottoms trimmed or broken off
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss asparagus with olive oil in shallow baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast asparagus, turning once until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  4. Set aside a few spears for your kids. :-)
  5. Sprinkle the rest with balsamic vinegar, toss to coat.
  6. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Monday, June 8, 2009


This is kind of like tacos, but you use rotini instead of taco shells. 

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 package taco seasoning 
As an alternative you can create your own homemade taco seasoning with the following: 2 Tbs. chili powder, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1/2 tsp. oregano, 1/8 tsp. cayenne, 
1 tsp. brown sugar, 2 tsp. vinegar (preferably cider) -- add the vinegar when you mix the seasonings with the meat.

2 cups uncooked rotini (I use 100% whole wheat rotini)
1 cup salsa OR 1 eight-oz. can tomato sauce (if your kids like things mild)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Optional toppings: chopped cilantro, chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes
  1. Cook the rotini according to package directions. Drain and place back in pot.
  2. Brown the beef, drain. Add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
  3. Add seasoning packet or homemade seasonings to beef mixture.
  4. Combine beef mixture with pasta. Pour in salsa or tomato sauce and combine. Heat gently until hot.
  5. Serve with grated cheddar and other optional toppings.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pizza with Rice Crust

We make pizza every Friday night and I've found this to be a nice change of pace from our usual wheat crust. If you have rice earlier in the week, make extra (you'll need about 3 cups) so you can use it for the crust.

1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice (you can use white, but it won't be as healthy)
2 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pizza toppings (Except for the sauce and cheese, all of these are optional. And, I suppose you could even make the sauce optional as well):
3/4 cups pizza sauce (I just use spaghetti sauce)
1 cup thinly slivered red or yellow bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 can (2 1/4 oz.) sliced black olives, drained
4 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Cook rice according to directions . Scrape into a large bowl. Cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a fork.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In another bowl, beat eggs. Then add the eggs and cheddar cheese to the rice and mix well. Scrape rice mixture into a well-oiled, 9X13-inch pan and pat into an even layer.
  4. Bake in oven until rice begins to brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, if you're doing vegetables on top, saute them in a little olive oil over medium-high heat until the mushrooms begin to brown and the moisture has evaporated. 5-10 minutes. (If you don't cook them until the liquid is gone, they'll make the pizza soggy.) Stir in olives and remove from heat.
  6. Spread pizza sauce evenly over the baked rice and sprinkle with mozzarella. Place pepperoni or spoon vegetables over crust and top with parmesan.
  7. Return to oven and bake until parmesan begins to brown.
My kids prefer just pepperoni, so I usually do half with vegetables and half with meat.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Easy Chicken Curry

Both my kids really like this and it's surprising how easy it is to make! I found the recipe in an old Junior League of Denver cookbook, "Colorado Cache", but I modified it to fit what's usually in my fridge.

6 Tbs. butter
1 minced onion
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 Tbs. curry powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
1 can beef or chicken broth
1 cup milk
3 Tbs. ketchup
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. chicken, cooked and cut into bite-size chunks (I always use boneless, skinless breasts and cook them ahead of time so that it's ready to go when I need it.)

  1. Melt butter in large skillet.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until onion is limp. 
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients and add to the onion mixture, stirring over low heat until blended.
  4. Slowly add broth and milk; stir until smooth.
  5. Add ketchup.
  6. Cook for a few minutes and then add chicken and heat to boiling point. It will thicken as it cooks.
  7. Serve over rice with any or all of the following condiments: shredded coconut, peanuts, chutney, chopped green pepper, chopped olives, raisins, crushed pineapple. (I love it with coconut, peanuts and pineapple, but it's good with nothing added.)