Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spinach & Spaghetti Pie

Henry's vegetable eating lately has been less than stellar.  Luckily he eats loads of fruit (mostly watermelon) so I'm not too concerned, but I envy the moms whose kids gladly eat veggies.  

Last week when we were eating at my sister's house for Shavuot (a Jewish holiday to commemorate receiving the Ten Commandments), she had made a spaghetti pie, which was basically sauce, spaghetti, eggs, and some cheese.  It was definitely a big hit with the kids, so I decided I would see if adding spinach to the dish would still be acceptable.  Friday night I served it to Henry along with some chicken.  He happily ate his squares of spaghetti pie and kept asking for more noodles - though I'd much prefer him to eat plain veggies too, I considered this a huge success!

Spinach & Spaghetti Pie
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped frozen spinach
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp soy sauce
8 ounces spaghetti, cooked & drained according to package directions
3 eggs, beaten

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  In a saute pan, saute onion and garlic in oil, until softened.  Add frozen spinach and cook until spinach is warm and any excess liquid has evaporated.  Add salt, pepper, and soy sauce.  

3.  In a mixing bowl, combine spaghetti and spinach mixture.  Then add the 3 eggs.  Pour into a sprayed (with cooking spray) 8x11 pyrex.  Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until mixture is set and top looks "crunchy".

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna

Lately I've been in the mood for lasagna, but since my husband isn't home for dinner, and Henry and I can't really make much of a dent ourselves, I haven't made one recently.  Luckily, tonight my friend Michal was coming for dinner with her daughters, so I finally had an excuse to make lasagna.

I have a wonderful lasagna recipe from my "second mom" growing up - Janie.  It's such a great recipe because aside from tasting good, you also don't need to cook the lasagna noodles first - and this was before "no-boil" lasagna noodles.  As per usual, I was short on some ingredients and had some others I wanted to add, so I modified the recipe a bit.  The main changes I made were adding mushrooms, cutting back on some tomato sauce, and adding Trader Joe's Eggplant Spread to the recipe.

It still came out great.  Henry not only had a full piece before our friends came over, but proceeded to have a few more bites once they were here.  It was a hit!

Janie's Famous Lasagna (slightly modified)
1 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg
2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/3 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups jarred tomato sauce
12 lasagna noodles, not cooked
1/4 cup Trader Joe's Eggplant Garlic Spread
1 cup water

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Combine ricotta, 1-1/4 cups mozzarella, egg, spinach, mushrooms, salt, oregano, and pepper.  Set aside.

3.  Pour a 1/4 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Layer 4 noodles on top.  Spread half the eggplant spread on top, and then half the ricotta mixture over that.  Top with 3/4 cup tomato sauce.  Repeat with 4 noodles, eggplant spread, ricotta mixture, and sauce.  Finish with 4 more lasagna noodles, a 1/4 cup tomato sauce, and 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella.  Pour 1 cup of water around the edges of the lasagna and cover tightly with foil.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Polenta Pizza

Things have been busy lately.  Henry has been on a strange schedule, and honestly I have no idea what I've been feeding him or what he's been eating.  All I know is that he has been eating loads of watermelon.

This weekend, I tried to get his routine back to normal and introduce some new foods again.  For Friday night dinner, I was short on time so I quickly threw together some polenta.  It was very basic - cornmeal, water, and fake chicken consomme powder.  I mixed it all together over medium heat, spread it on a baking sheet, and then baked it at 350 for about 15 minutes.  I thought Henry would love it - he loves corn and he tend to love anything starchy.  But, Henry's only 22 months old, has a definite opinion now, and refused to even let it touch his highchair tray.  Since I didn't want to create a bad association, I removed it from his plate, and left him alone.

Sunday night I decided to try again.  Again, Henry didn't want it on his tray.  But then I decided to use the polenta as a crust and put tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top.  Next thing I knew, Henry was scarfing down polenta pizza.  Success!

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

From Scrambled Eggs to Mediterranean Frittata

My plan tonight was to make scrambled eggs for Henry for dinner.  I was late getting home from work, and there wasn't much time before his 5PM dinner.  But then, as I drove up the block, I saw that Henry was over at my sister's house playing with my nephews.  Now, Henry LOVES being outside and LOVES his cousins.  As a result at 5:45PM, I actually had to carry him home kicking and screaming because he just wanted to keep playing.  He was such a wreck that he was definitely not going to be eating.

Thank God for The Wiggles.  I popped in a DVD, and while he calmed down and sang along, I decided to make something a bit more exciting than scrambled eggs - I opted for a Mediterranean-style frittata.  Once it was done, Henry was calm and happy, and proceeded to eat almost a full piece of the frittata.  I have to admit it was one of the best things I've made recently.  I probably could have eaten the whole thing!

Mediterranean Frittata
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen spinach
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1/3 cup green olives, chopped
1 cup artichokes, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp oregano
salt & pepper to taste
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
6 eggs
1/4 cup 1% milk
salt & pepper to taste

1.  In a medium saute pan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil.  Once softened, add spinach and parsley and cook 1 minute more.  Then add olives, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes.  Season with salt & pepper to taste, and keep on low for a few minutes while you prep the eggs.

2.  In a bowl, beat eggs with milk and a bit of salt and pepper.  Let stand for a minute while you go back to the saute pan.

3.  Add lemon zest and feta to saute pan, and let feta begin to melt.  Then mix it all together, and add the eggs.  Bring heat up to medium and let cook a few more minutes with a lid until the eggs start to set.  Then transfer the pan to the oven on broil until the entire frittata is set and slightly browned on top.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

I can't win

The couple of hours before dinner can be a struggle.  I know that if he snacks in that time, he will almost definitely not eat dinner.  That being said, it's also hard to keep him from snacking when he's begging for snacks.

Take yesterday for instance.  At 4, we headed to the park to keep ourselves busy (dinner is at 5ish).  It was a fairly long walk (about 3-4 blocks), and Henry did it all himself.  So, when he asked for a snack, I figured he was hungry and gave him a graham cracker.  From that point on, it was all he wanted.  So, we decided to go home.  On our way up our block, Henry decided he wanted to stop in and see his Aunt Amy (my sister lives across the street from us).  So, we stop in.  His oldest cousin was eating sushi rice and there were chicken nuggets on the table.  I wasn't offering either, but either way, he didn't want them.  Instead, he went to the snack closet, and started trying to take the snacks out.  Fast forward to a temper tantrum that sends us straight home.

Now it's 4:25.  Not quite dinner time, but I figure maybe he's really hungry since he's begging for food.  I give him a corn on the cob and a chicken leg.  He takes a couple of tiny bites, and throws everything on the floor.  Dinner is clearly over.  So, we play, watch a show, take a bath, and get into pajamas.  We head back downstairs at 6:30 when Henry gets to watch another TV show.  This is the point that I try to eat dinner.  He sees my plate of food, and proceeds to eat all my broccoli, some of my corn, and tries (and spits out) a piece of tofu.  While I was thrilled that he chose to eat broccoli and corn, I'll admit that I was sad I no longer had broccoli (that was the last of what we had).  Maybe one day I'll figure out Henry's actual dinner time.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!

What time do you feed your kids dinner?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Distractions & Dinner Strata

Yesterday when I was on Twitter, Eating Well Magazine (@EatingWell) posted a link to 5 meatless meals for entertaining.  I was expecting the run-of-the-mill vegetarian lasagna, mac n'cheese, and tofu stir-fry.  Instead, they had a few interesting recipes, one of which was a Tomato & Spinach Dinner Strata.  Granted, it's similar to lasagna, with bread instead of noodles, but I liked the spin on a regular dish, and figured since it had bread, cheese, and sauce, Henry would be a fan. 

It was fairly easy to assemble, but you have to remember to factor in that it needs at least two hours to sit in the fridge before baking.  I followed the recipe pretty closely (see link above for recipe), but used cottage cheese instead of ricotta and muenster cheese instead of mozzarella (side-note: I think the ricotta was a better choice, I just happened to only have cottage cheese).  As it was baking, the smell was amazing, and since I baked it in a round 10-inch pan, it looked like deep-dish pizza.  Having to wait the 10-minutes of "stand time" really was a bit torturous (I was really hungry!). 

Anyway, the strata was finally ready, and I cut it up for Henry.  He happily took a few bites, and then noticed an open bag of pretzels on the table.  After that, he refused another bite of strata and only wanted pretzels.  It's frustrating how easily distracted he gets when he eats...unless he's eating cake or cookies.  I try to always remember to clear everything out of his sight-line, but sometimes it's impossible, and sometimes I think I shouldn't accomodate him so much (I mean in the real world there will be things he can't have, right?).  But then I'm stuck with the fact that he won't eat what I made for him...

Thoughts on this one?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Today's creation was motivated by me wanting to use up the rest of the fresh horseradish left from Passover. I don't really know many horseradish recipes, but I know I like wasabi mashed potatoes, so I figured horseradish mashed potatoes must be good too.  The plan was to make my take on vegetarian shepherd's pie with horseradish mashed potatoes on top.  I started sauteeing all my veggies, and then went to boil my potatoes with the horseradish.  I soon learned that there is a shelf-life on grated fresh horseradish.  So, it was plain mashed potatoes on top instead.  To my surprise, Henry actually ate it...and didn't spit out the white beans that I added.  As per usual, he was finished after a few bites.  If only I could feel full after eating a small portion!

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms (I used baby portobellas), sliced
1.5 cups frozen spinach
1 cup small white beans
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt to taste
1/3 cup red wine
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon cream cheese
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.  In a medium pan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until softened.  Add mushrooms and saute about 5 minutes more.  Then add spinach, white beans, thyme, and salt.  Finally, add red wine, and let simmer until liquid has mostly evaporated.

2.  In a small pot, boil potatoes in water.  When potatoes are soft, drain potatoes and put back in pot.  Mash with cream cheese, milk, butter, and salt.

3.  Put mushroom mixture in a small saute pan or small casserole dish (I used an omelet pan).  Smooth mashed potatoes on top, but make small peaks so the top browns in a pretty pattern.  Put under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until top has a nice golden brown color.

Happy and (mostly) healthy eating!