Thursday, March 31, 2011

Begging for Broccoli

Okay, I know the picture above is of pizza, and it's no great accomplishment that I got my kid to eat pizza.  What was amazing about tonight, however, was that while I was making the pizza, Henry was getting extremely impatient.  He kept whining, and I kept telling him that the pizza would be ready soon.  And then I realized he was pointing to a bowl and not the pizza...and then I listened closer.  He was begging for broccoli.  I almost fainted.  I haven't actually made broccoli in a while, and couldn't believe that was what he wanted.  I figured he'd just hold it and lick it, but he shoved the piece in his mouth, chewed it, and then asked for more.  I honestly feel like some sort of miracle just happened.  Happy day!

(As for the pizza, its just store bought whole wheat dough that I rolled out and then topped with sauce, cheese, broccoli, and olives).

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baked Gnocchi with Spinach

You may remember that after I made gnocchi a couple of months ago, I froze half the batch.  Well, today I finally decided to use it.  I texted my friend to invite her and her daughter (also 20 months) over for a dinner play-date, and planned to make it when I got home from work.  After sauteeing the spinach, while boiling the gnocchi, and shortly before my friend was going to arrive, I realized I was out of shredded cheese, so I had to improvise.  I mixed the gnocchi with the spinach and some ricotta cheese, and then topped it with my last 3 slices of muenster cheese.  I have to admit, it was pretty good.  Henry loved it and ate about 6 gnocchi mixed with the spinach and ricotta.  His friend wouldn't try it, but then we realized she had fever, so we're not going to count her opinion.  Her mommy liked eating her untouched food though before they had to leave!

Baked Gnocchi with Spinach
1.5 cups gnocchi
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups fresh spinach
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
7 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 slices muenster cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 450.
2.  Boil gnocchi until they float to the top.  Drain and set aside.
3.  Saute spinach in olive oil.  Add granulated garlic, and let cook until wilted.
4.  Mix together gnocchi, spinach, ricotta cheese, salt, and pepper.  Pour into sprayed (with cooking spray) skillet.  Spread tomato sauce over top and then the slices of cheese to cover the top.  Bake in oven for about 2 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meatball Stuffed Shells

After making Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells earlier this week, I had loads of leftover cooked and empty shells. My husband was sad that he missed the Honey Glazed Meatballs this week since he had been working so late each night, so I decided to experiment and try making meatball stuffed shells.  I just made a basic meatball recipe, stuffed it in each shell, and baked it with some tomato sauce on top.  Couldn't have been easier.  I had worried because the recipe made 20 shells, and I was only feeding my husband and Henry, but as of yesterday, they had already polished off 11 of them (Henry ate 1.5 Friday night and another full one for Saturday lunch).  I'm pretty confident that between Henry, my husband, and our nanny, all will be finished as of tomorrow!

Meatball Stuffed Shells
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 T ketchup
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
pinch red pepper
1 egg
20 jumbo shells, cooked
1/2 jar tomato sauce

1.  Preheat oven to 375.

2.  In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the shells and sauce.  Then, stuff each shell with ground beef mixture and put them in a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Top shells with the tomato sauce.  Cover with foil and bake in oven for about 40 minutes, or until beef is cooked through.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Though Passover seems far away, I am already in prep mode.  Yesterday, I officially started food shopping for the holiday.  It hit me that I have loads of other food in my pantry that I need to finish in the next few weeks to make room for all the Passover food.  So get ready for the next few weeks of posts to be about dishes made from random finds in my cabinets...

Today's find? A can of pumpkin (probably from Thanksgiving) and a box of jumbo shells.  I absolutely love butternut squash filled ravioli, and Henry tends to like winter-squash, and of course loves noodles, so I figured I'd try to stuff the shells with pumpkin.  Instead of the standard butter-sage sauce that goes with squash ravioli, I opted to lighten things up a bit and make a pumpkin sauce instead.  The outcome? Henry happily ate half a stuffed shell.  His friends who came over for dinner, however, were not quite as enthusiastic - except for his 10 month old friend who couldn't get the food in her mouth fast enough!  Oh, and all the adults liked it too!

Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells
1 (15-oz) can pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), 1/4 cup divided out
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
dash ginger
dash ground cloves
freshly ground black pepper to taste
18 jumbo shells, cooked
1/2 cup Imagine "No-Chicken" Broth (or vegetable broth)
2 teaspoons butter
1/8 tsp ground sage
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 375.

2.  Mix together canned pumpkin (minus the 1/4 cup pumpkin), ricotta cheese, parmesan, egg, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper.  Fill the 18 shells with the pumpkin mixture, and place them in a 9x13 dish sprayed with cooking spray.

3.  In a small saucepan, heat the broth, butter, 1/4 cup pumpkin, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer.  Then pour the sauce over the shells.  Sprinkle additional grated parmesan cheese on top.  Cover the baking dish and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Freezer Find: Honey-Yogurt Waffles

A couple of months ago I made a brunch at my house for my husband's birthday.  I made a double batch of Honey-Yogurt Waffles from the Two Peas and Their Pod blog, and had loads of leftovers.  Since I knew there was no way we could possibly finish them all, I divided up the individual hearts (I have a heart-shaped waffle maker - thanks Mom!) into baggies of 4-5 hearts each and put them in my freezer.  It's perfect - Henry will happily eat about 2 waffle hearts as a special treat for breakfast.  The only downside is that we just finished our last freezer baggie - I guess I'll have to make more soon!

Note: I followed the recipe exactly, but I didn't have whole-wheat flour, so I used all white flour.  I also only had 1 container plain non-fat Chobani Greek yogurt, and 1 vanilla non-fat Chobani Greek Yogurt, so my Greek yogurt addition was a combo of the two.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Honey-Glazed Meatballs

On my way home from work today, I decided I would make meatballs.  My usual meatballs take about 2 hours to simmer, so that was not going to happen.  I also wanted to use up some honey that was starting to crystallize.  So, as soon as I got home I threw together some meatballs and threw them in the oven.  Meanwhile I made a quick sauce of ketchup, garlic, soy sauce, and honey.  It was so quick, that Henry and I were even able to go for a short walk before dinner.

Henry LOVES to go for walks, but he is quite stubborn.  A few minutes into each walk he decides he no longer wants to hold hands.  He merrily toddles along singing, "walking, walking" the whole way.  And then a couple of minutes past that, he decides to try to run into the street or onto people's properties.  Most walks end with Henry crying while I carry him kicking and screaming back home.  He initially loves the walks so much though, that I'm willing to suffer the consequences.  Today was no different.  When we got home, he was besides himself.  He kept crying and crying, asking for his pacifier.  At that point, usually dinner will not happen.  But then he saw the meatballs.  He ate the first one in a matter of seconds, and then proceeded to eat 2 more (with some popcorn cauliflower on the side).  With that kind of reaction, I kind of want to make them every night now!

Honey-Glazed Meatballs
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp granulated garlic
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp water
1 egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup honey
2/3 cup ketchup
2.5 Tbsp soy sauce

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  While oven is preheating, put 2 tsp olive oil in a small roasting pan and put in the oven.

2.  Mix together all ingredients from ground beef through 1 egg.  Form into 15 meatballs, and put into roasting pan that was heating in oven.  Put pan in oven and cook about 13 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.

3.  In a medium saucepan, saute minced garlic in 1 tsp olive oil.  Then add honey, ketchup, and soy sauce and bring to simmer.  When meatballs are done add to sauce, and heat through with sauce for about 5 minutes.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spinach Pierogi Soup

It has been a challenge lately to get Henry to eat any vegetables.  Right now, the only veggie I know he will eat on its own is corn.  This has been really hard for me - I just can't believe that there are entire days where Henry will not have a single veggie.  So, let the creativity begin!

At the end of last week, I bought a giant 2.5 pound bag of fresh spinach.  Seeing as Henry has done pretty well with stews lately, I decided to look for a spinach soup recipe.  Luckily, I came across The Pioneer Woman's Spinach Soup.  My only problem was that I knew I needed something enticing and hearty in the soup so that Henry would try to eat it - a pure liquid was not going to cut it.  And then I found the package of potato & cheddar cheese pierogies in my freezer that I had bought on sale a couple of weeks ago.  I never had pierogi in soup, but thought it could be interesting...

To start, I loved the soup.  My nanny also really enjoyed it, and even asked to take a container home with her.  My nephew (8), liked the spinach soup part, but freaked out over the pierogi (apparently he is not a potato fan). And Henry?  He started out happily eating the soup.  He ate bite after bite.  But then he remembered that he was thirsty for milk, and thus ended meal time.

Spinach Pierogi Soup (adapted from The Pioneer Woman's Spinach Soup with Gruyere)
1.5 tsp olive oil
10 ounces fresh spinach
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced small
2 Tbsp flour
4 cups 1% milk
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp pastina
4 potato/cheddar pierogies (I used Mrs. T's brand)
black pepper, to taste

1.  In a large pot, saute spinach in oil until wilted.  Transfer spinach to blender and blend with a bit of warm water until pureed.  Set aside.

2.  In the same pot, melt butter, and saute garlic and onion until translucent.  Add flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Add milks and let simmer until the mixture begins to thicken.  Add salt, cayenne pepper, pastina, pierogies, and pepper.  Then add in pureed spinach.  Let simmer about 5 minutes.  With a spoon break the pierogies up a bit so that the inside can help thicken the soup.  Simmer a few minutes longer, and then enjoy!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Great Porridge Debate

Last weekend a great debate started over how to pronounce "porridge".  I'm a firm believer that it's pah-rij, but apparently there are a number of people out there, including some dictionaries, that seem to feel paw-rij is the correct pronunciation.  After days of arguing (I will fight to the end), I finally questioned why we were talking about this fairly outdated word - I mean, the only time I've dealt with porridge is when Goldilocks visited the three bears. Turns out my friend's sister, Ariele, found an awesome recipe for Beef Porridge (click on recipe name for link) from the Quick and Kosher Cookbook and was recommending it to her brother.  I'm not sure what makes it "Porridge", but it was amazing.

I followed the recipe exactly, except instead of using whole baby carrots, I diced up all the veggies so that Henry would be more likely to eat it.  I also only used 1.25 pounds of flanken because that was all I had.  The debate over pah-rij versus paw-rij is still unresolved, but on Friday night, as we ALL ate our beef porridge (Henry ate 2 bowls!), a family torn apart over pronunciation, ate in peace and harmony...

How do you pronounce porridge?

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Sophisticated Son?

Today for lunch the plan was to try the Potato-Leek Soup again, but Henry would have none of that.  I'm not sure what it is about the soup, but he won't even taste it, and shakes his head "no" as soon as he sees me taking the soup pot out. 

I figured he could just have the plain noodles that I put in the soup, but then he saw me take out sushi*.  He tried sushi months ago at his cousin's house (sans fish at that point), and was not a fan.  The only thing he actually liked was the pickled ginger (so strange).  This time I think the look of the sushi box got him interested.  He immediately asked to see it, and quickly stuck his finger in the spicy tuna roll and ate some.  I wasn't trying to get him to eat sushi, but when Henry is actually interested in eating something, I don't want to stop him.  And then, to my surprise, he picked up the piece and started eating it.  I was floored.  After a couple of nibbles, however, he asked for the box back again and just started touching them all.  I knew the sushi was only for me (and possibly my husband), so I let him at it - I always find Henry is more likely to eat food if he gets to play with it.  And then he picked up a tuna avocado roll and started nibbling that one.  I was so proud - my son who can drive me crazy with not wanting to eat even pizza, was loving sushi!

But alas, the excitement was fleeting.  Within minutes, he discovered the ginger container and then only wanted to play with that.  He took one bite of the rice that I stuck in his mouth, but immediately spit out the tuna, and then spicy tuna, that I got in after.  Our sushi experiment was done, and so instead of eating even one whole piece of sushi, he went back to his trusty muenster cheese.  It was nice having a sophisticated son for a couple of minutes though...

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

*Talk to your doctor about when you can introduce sushi to your children.  Some recommend waiting until over age 5, as that's when the immune system is thought to be stronger.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Forget Dinner...

I have come to realize that Henry is a much better eater earlier in the day.  By dinnertime he has had enough - he's tired, has likely eaten plenty of snacks throughout the day, and has no desire to sit in his high chair.  Because of that, I now try to feed Henry his "big meal" at lunchtime.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.  Today he happily ate a bowl of leftover cholent from the weekend.  Therefore, I wasn't too surprised when Henry absolutely refused dinner tonight.  I made what I thought was a pretty good potato leek soup and even threw in some noodles to entice my "noo-noo" loving son.  No such luck - it was a firm no.

We'll see if he's more apt to try it for lunch tomorrow - only problem is that my nanny is the one giving him lunch tomorrow and she's more likely to give up way before I would.  One can always hope.  In the meantime, maybe someone else will enjoy the recipe...

Potato Leek Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 leeks, sliced and rinsed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
6 cups "no-chicken" stock (vegetarian chicken stock)
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chickpeas (because I had some in the fridge)
salt and pepper to taste
7 ounces tofu
parmesan cheese (optional)
non-fat plain Greek Yogurt (optional)

1.  In a pot, heat oil.  Add leeks and garlic and saute 3-4 minutes.  Add thyme, stock, potatoes, salt, and pepper.  Bring to boil and then let simmer on low until potatoes are soft (at least 30 minutes).  Then add tofu. Blend with handblender until the whole soup is pureed.

2.  To serve either sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese or add a dollop of Greek yogurt (I had no plain Greek yogurt so I went with the parmesan - usually I prefer the Greek yogurt for the added creaminess).

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Roasted Beets

Let me start by saying that though Henry used to eat beets, he has not eaten them the last few times I've made them.  That was true even this weekend.  However, I have found that each time I have made (and served) fresh beets recently, they have sparked lots of comments.  Based on my very small sample size, which includes my family and a handful of friends (very scientifically sound), it seems many people choose not to make fresh beets but really like them.  My message to all of you?  They're not hard at all to throw them in the oven and let them roast for an hour.  Then peel them under running water to avoid dying your hands red, season them, and voila...tasty roasted beets!

A great recipe that I only slightly modified this weekend is the Roasted Beet Salad with Cumin and Cilantro on  It seemed to be a hit with the adults that ate them, though I'm fairly certain that not a single child even touched them...

Roasted Beet Salad (adapted from
5 small beets
2 Tbsp olive oil
zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon
zest of half a tangerine
juice of half a tangerine
1.5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped cilantro

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Wash beets and wrap them in foil.  Roast them in the oven for about an hour.  Let cool slightly.

3.  Under cold running water, peel beets.  Dice them and place in bowl.  Add remaining ingredients, except cilantro.  Mix together.

4.  Before serving, mix cilantro into the salad.

Do you have any tasty beet recipes to share? I'm still trying to get Henry to eat them...

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Greek-themed Vegetarian Meal

Yesterday, I decided that I needed to use up a can of black-eyed peas that I bought a few months ago.  I've never had black-eyed peas before, so I did a search online for some vegetarian recipes.  My search brought me to a delicious sounding Greek Black-Eyed Peas Salad recipe on  (My only tweaks here were using canned black-eyed peas, omitting the green onion, and adding a quarter of an avocado).

It sounded so good that I immediately emailed it to my friend Laura, a fellow self-proclaimed foodie.  The next thing I knew, we were getting together for dinner (with our kids) for a Greek/Mediterranean themed meal.  I figured Henry would not eat the salad, so we decided to make a Greek-style Vegetarian Lasagna as well that I based off of a few different recipes that I read online.  Beware: This is not a low-calorie recipe by any means!

Initially it seemed that the lasagna was not a success.  My friend Laura's 3-year-old ate some of it, but was not too thrilled.  My other friend Emily's daughter, who is 2, did pretty well with it, but did not eat as much for dinner as usual.  And Henry? He tried a tiny bite and spit it right out.  The only kid who couldn't get enough was Laura's 9 month old!  All of us mommies thoroughly enjoyed it though - as well as the salad.  

And then, about 20 minutes before Henry was going to bed, my husband came home and made himself a plate of the lasagna.  Next thing I knew, Henry ate almost half of what my husband had on his plate.  I guess he just wasn't in the mood to eat beforehand!

Greek Veggie Lasagna
1 (13.75 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup green olives, chopped
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed 
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
4 cups 1% milk
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg
12 no-bake lasagna noodles
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups jarred tomato sauce

1.  Preheat oven to 375.

2.  Combine artichokes, olives, sundried tomatoes, and spinach in a bowl.  Set aside.

3.  In a pot, melt butter.  Whisk in flour and let cook for 2 minutes.  Add in the milk, bring to low boil, and then simmer until thickened.  Add in salt and nutmeg.

4.  In a 9x13 baking dish, ladle a quarter of the white sauce.  Lay 4 lasagna noodles on top, then 1/4 of the white sauce, half the artichoke mixture, 1/3 of the feta, 1/3 of the mozzarella, and 1 cup of the tomato sauce.  Repeat layers.  To finish top with 4 lasagna noodles, and remaining feta and mozzarella. 

5.  Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let stand about 15-20 minutes.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tiny Grains of Quinoa

I didn't really have any intention of cooking Monday night, but then I came across a tasty looking Quinoa "Mac and Cheese" with Spinach recipe on  Aside from looking delicious, it also looked pretty quick and easy - a must when I have about 20-30 minutes to throw dinner together when I get home from work.  I love quinoa since it's high in protein, and can make a balanced meal just by adding some veggies.

As per usual, I tweaked the recipe. Since I don't have grated goat Gouda cheese (and to be honest, I'm really not a fan of goat cheese), I opted for my trusty shredded mozzarella instead.  I also left the sunflower seeds out, partly because I didn't have them, but also because Henry is still not the best chewer, and I wasn't looking for a choking incident.

Turns out I really didn't need to worry about Henry choking.  He wouldn't even touch the stuff.  I then tried again today at lunch.  After a few minutes of refusing, he decided to be adventurous and take a bite.  Clearly he was not a fan because he immediately spit it out and then kept spitting to try and get the tiny grains of quinoa out of his mouth.  That then turned into him having a temper tantrum, which means anything in front of him got swiped to the floor in a matter of seconds.  Unfortunately, the bowl of quinoa was in front of him.  Even more unfortunate is that I had just had my house professionally cleaned for the first time in months right before lunchtime.  (It's really not fun to pick up individual grains of quinoa).

Just in case you were wondering, even though this dish was a no-go for Henry, it was a big hit with me.  If not for the fact that I am aware of proper portion sizes, I'm pretty sure I would have eaten the whole pot in one sitting.

Quinoa "Mac and Cheese" with Spinach (adapted from
1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen spinach
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella

1.  In a pot, combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

2.  In a saute pan, heat olive oil, and saute garlic until soft.  Add spinach and allow to defrost and warm through.  Turn off heat.  Add cooked quinoa to saute pan and mix together.  Then add lemon zest and juice, as well as the mozzarella.  Stir to combine.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!