Monday, October 20, 2008

Autumn Millet Bake

Just about everyone's blogged about Mark Bittman's pretty, healthy, and delicious autumn millet bake, but just in case you haven't seen it before, here's the lovely version that came out of our oven. I think next time I'll use quinoa, like this chef. Millet is okay, but it just has that birdseedy texture I can't quite get used to.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peanut Peas and Os

This is not really a recipe...just this peanut sauce from the Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's book on o-shaped pasta and frozen peas. But it's a toddler (and husband) hit! It seems that almost all peanut-flavored things go down pretty easily. Plus, the o-shaped pasta clings to the fork tines so it's easier for Quinn to feed himself.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yummy noodles!

Here's how our slurp-tastic noodles from 101 cookbooks turned out. They are wonderful. Can't wait to eat them again on a cold autumn night. All credit goes to my husband, who did the cooking tonight.
Posted by Picasa

Acorn squash, greens, and red quinoa

I blogged about this in a previous post, but this is one of our favorite fall dinners. Very healthy and easy. Here's the recipe, as prepared with a toddler underfoot:
- While the toddler is trapped in his high chair happily eating his dinner (which, all too often, consists of milk and Mighty Bites because all other foods are deemed unacceptable), pre-heat the oven to 350.
- Rinse 1 cup quinoa and put it in the black and decker handy steamer with 2 cups water and set timer for 50 mins. Then, slice the acorn squash in half and put it face down on an old jellyroll style cookie sheet with a little water to steam the squash. Set oven timer for 30 min.
- Hang out while toddler finishes, or refuses to finish, dinner. Then play in other room.
- When oven timer beeps, if no other adult is available to watch toddler, trap toddler in high chair again so you can open the oven and finish the meal. Offer crayons, play dough, books, songs, dancing, peekaboo, more Mighty Bites, or other distractions as necessary.
- Take out squash, turn over, and glaze with a little butter and maple syrup. Put back in oven for another 10-15 mins.
- Meanwhile, put 1 tsp olive oil in large skillet on medium heat. When oil is hot, add 2 cloves minced garlic. Stir 30 secs. Then add about 1/2 bag Trader Joe's southern greens blend (washed collards and other yummy greens). Add a little water to steam veggies. Put lid on skillet, even if it doesn't quite fit at first because greens are not yet wilted. Cook greens 5-10 mins to taste, stirring occasionally. I like them bright green, with the stalk-like middles tender. I also like greens a little spicy and often add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper while cooking.
- Squash should be ready now (fork should go in easily).
- Quinoa should be ready now. Stir in 1-2 handfuls pinenuts and a drizzle of high-quality balsamic vinegar.
- Move all hot pots and pans and knives out of reach of toddler. Lock drawers and install baby gates as necessary.
- Serve food and eat while toddler throws tupperware around the kitchen.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Cooking Habit

Since one reason I started this blog was to force myself into a healthy food cooking habit, I thought I'd say a few words about how that's going. In short, it has worked very well! I realized that tonight when, after dinner, I thought to myself (as I often do on a Sunday), "What might I like to have around the house this week to make life easier and to make healthy stuff readily available?"

And so before sitting down at the computer, watching Battlestar Galactica, or reading the Sunday New York Times, I simultaneously: 1) Put eggs in my steamer and set the timer for 30 mins; 2) Made low-fat granola; and 3) Put on a pot of mixed grains. It took about an hour altogether and our family will reap the benefits all week. Sometimes on Sunday nights I set the breadmaker, bake power muffins to keep in the freezer, and/or put some grains in my steamer to use or freeze for later use. In general, I'm using the freezer a lot more now, and as a habit I put about 1/2 of whatever soup or grain or baked good I am making into the freezer automatically.

I'm not writing this to congratulate myself, though I am pretty proud to have come such a long way from eating frozen pizza far too often. What's surprised me is how much of a habit this has become - like tooth brushing or checking email, it's just what I do now. If only I could develop an exercise habit, too...

Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's

I ordered this book from Amazon a week or so ago, and I've tried two recipes from it, both surprisingly good. The first recipe I tried was the "Le French Lentil Soup", which uses the Trader Joe's refrigerated pre-steamed french lentils to make a delicious lentil soup in about 20-25 min, instead of the usual 45. You can see the recipe in the Google Books preview on page 65 (that's the preview page # - the actual book page # is 72). The second one was the "Vegetable Tikka Masala" which is less of a recipe and more of a suggestion as to how to use the Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce - basically they have you simmer cauliflower, garbanzo beans, zuccini, and carrots in the sauce for 15 mins and then add 1/2 cup plain yogurt. We served our tikka masala with another Trader Joe's product, the pre-cooked basmati rice with red quinoa and flax seed, which made for a great meal. I feel a bit sheepish about these almost fast food recipes, but this is just the kind of thing I need for a busy weeknight - healthy & quick. And these certainly meet the criteria for being food not "food"...