Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Picky Child's Delight

It can be difficult-- even with thoughtful planning-- to come up with nutritious meals, seven nights a week, that appeal to every person in a large family. Since I don't make my children eat anything (though I always offer and encourage), I've found myself preparing two different dinners each night--sometimes three--in order to please everyone and ensure healthy eating.

This got to be too much.

Now, once a week, I make up a large bowl of "Picky Child's Delight." In essence, this dish is a balanced combination of foods with universal appeal. To make it, I combine a popular carbohydrate, accepted vegetable and favorite protein with a much-loved dairy.

Drizzle or spritz this with a small amount of light oil in order to keep it from drying out, cover it well, and keep it in the fridge for a side dish fill-in or whole meal substitute for the picky child du jour. The balance ensures healthy fill-ins for picky kids and the make-ahead plan offers last minute convenience.

Here are some of our favorite combinations...

Ham and Cheese
16 oz. whole grain* Penne pasta, cooked
1/2 lb. ham squares or diced Canadian bacon
1/2 lb. broccoli tops, steamed
8 0z. white cheddar cheese cubed
light olive oil

Pizza Mix
16 oz. whole grain* Rigatoni, cooked
8 oz. pepperoni, sliced
10 oz. black olives, sliced
8 oz. mozzarella diced
light olive oil

Peas and Shells
16 oz. medium shells, cooked
8-10 oz frozen peas, thawed
1/2 lb. chicken pieces, diced
8 oz. Jack cheese, cubed
light olive oil

Chicken and Rice
2 cups dry wild rice, cooked
1/2 lb. chicken pieces, diced
1/2 lb. cooked carrots, diced
8 oz. provolone cheese, cubed
bit of melted butter in rice

Breakfast Mix
16. oz macaroni, cooked
10 eggs hard boiled and cut up
1/2 lb sausage or kielbasa, cooked and chopped
2 green or red peppers, diced
8 oz. white cheddar, cubed

All ingredients are cooked and cooled before mixing. Some of my pickier kids will even try to pick out parts of Picky Child's Delight ! They eat it hot or cold and top it with their favorite condiments (Red Hot, Worcestershire, Ketchup, Olive Oil, Pasta sauce). I'd like to know your combinations if you make some!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Lamb of Spring Stew

1 1/2 lbs baby red potatoes
half a dozen carrots
2 stalks of celery
2 large parsnips
18 pearl onions
1 turnip
1 1/2 lbs boneless lamb stewing meat

Dice potatoes into one inch pieces and toss into a large crock pot or dutch oven. Slice carrots, turnip, parsnips, and celery. Toss on top of potatoes. Peel outer layer off onions and add them to the pot. Cut lamb meat into bite sized pieces and place on top.

1 Tbs butter
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
2 Cups water
2 tsp. Better Than Bouillon Beef
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
Fresh cracked pepper
Secret Ingredient

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan and saute garlic and rosemary (cut into small pieces) for a minute or two. Turn the pepper mill over this a few times. Add water and Better Than Bouillon. Whisk until completely dissolved. Whisk in Dijon mustard. And now....

...for the secret ingredient

OK, it doesn't have to be shaped like a bunny, but the secret ingredient is...


Melt one oz. unsweetened chocolate in the broth and pour the mixture over meat and vegetables already prepared in the crock pot or dutch oven. Cook on low heat for 8 hours or higher heat for 5 hours.

10 oz. fresh snow peas
1 TBS. butter
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 Tbs corn starch
Black pepper to taste

Half an hour before cooking has ended, melt 1 Tbs. butter in a small saucepan and fry rosemary and black pepper for a minute. Add water and wine and bring to scalding. Whisk cornstarch in and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and add to the pot, stirring well. Top with snap peas 5 min. before serving.

Garnish with fresh sprigs of rosemary
Serve with plenty of fresh crusty bread and butter.