Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Betty Crocker, I aint. Dork? Yes. Yes, that I am.

Why even discuss my absense and irregularity in posting? It's become SO irregular that irregular is, in fact, my regular/norm.

... Yeah...

So anyway, this Mom's group I'm in mentioned doing a recipe exchange this week. Hmm... I thought this was a good idea until I typed it and thought - oh my gosh, is it 1955 already? I mean, I did just say gosh! But I'm going to share anyway as it's the first time I've even opened up blogger in nearly 2 months and this is what I've got.

I do also have toddler non-sequitors. My favorite this week was when she looked at our dog and said, "That's my dog. Sometimes I poke him in the eye." (My husband and I had to hide behind a pillow laughing before we could compose ourselves enough to tell her that was not a nice thing to do.

She's also started telling jokes. Bad jokes, admittedly - the first came from her Elmo if you're happy and you know it book. She looks at you and says - "what do you call banana peels?" (it's supposed to be 2 banana peels, but it's hit or miss if she says that...). "A pair of slippers." Then we laugh like it's the funniest thing we've heard repeated over and over today.

The other one came from my sister in law staying on the banana genre - "why did the banana go to the hostible?" (That's hospital for those of you not fluent in toddler.) The answer is supposed to be 'because it was peeling.' She usually says - "it peeled," which leaves people scratching their head a moment before they get it.

We've tried to branch beyond bananas (and fruit in general) to get her to tell our new favorite worst joke - "How do you make Lady Gaga cry?" (The answer is "Poke her face" (Poker face).) The best we can get is she say - how do you make goo goo ga ga cry? But she doesn't get the punch line (which doesn't work anyway if you've missed the Lady Gaga reference).

Regardless of the awfulness of the jokes, she has caught a few family members by surprise by telling them unsolicited - which is far funnier to us!

OK, so better crocker, here are those recipes. Sorry about the general lack of exactness - that's kinda how I cook...

Chicken salad with grapes, apples & walnuts
Bake chicken flavoring with a small amount of olive oil, herbs de provence (rosemary can substitute), garlic, salt and pepper (350 for 15-20 minutes should work) or use leftover baked chicken.
Amounts below will vary based on the amount of chicken – most important is the 2 to 1 ratio on yogurt to mayo.
1 cut non-fat greek yogurt (regular plain non fat yogurt can substitute)
½ cup low fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Red grapes (halved)
Apple (diced) – I like granny smith
Walnuts, chopped (optional – I no longer include these for the baby)
Combine ingredients and let sit in refrigerator to mix/set (I’ve eaten immediately, but it’s better if it has an hour or two first)

Chicken pesto pasta
1 lb Bowtie pasta (cooked)
1 small jar pesto
Cooked chicken (great use for leftovers – if I’m making it fresh, I usually use just a couple of pieces of chicken breast)- the original recipe recommended shredding. When my daughter was very young and didn’t eat much meat, I pureed it. Now I usually just cube.
Cherry tomatoes (halved)
Combine ingredients and serve. This came from a picky eaters cookbook and has worked very well for my toddler.

Lemon risotto
2 cups Arborio rice
2TBs olive oil
4 TBs butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped (you can also buy this frozen to save time)
Fresh rosemary (I use a couple TBs of jarred most of the time)
2 lemons (zested)
1 cup parmesan cheese
7 cups chicken broth (can substitution vegetable for vegetarian dish)
1 cup white wine
Pine nuts (optional – roast on stove for just a couple minutes as they brown quickly)

In a large skillet (med high), cook onions and half rosemary in olive oil and half butter - do not brown. Add Arborio rice and cook for 2-3 minutes till grains begin to become translucent.
Separately, mix broth (I use bullion cubes), wine and the juice from the lemons.
Add broth mixture slowly (recipe says one ladle at a time. I usually add in larger increments) to the rice letting rice absorb the liquid before adding more.
Once all broth is added and absorbed, mix in the remaining butter and parmesan cheese. Add remaining rosemary and lemon zest as garnish (the lemon zest REALLY adds a lot of tanginess) as well as roasted pine nuts if including.

Spaghetti and hidden vegetable sauce
The original recipe made the sauce from scratch. This is the lazy man’s…
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Carrots (1-1.5 large or a handful of baby carrots), uncooked, as finely as your food processor can chop them.
1 Zucchini (uncooked, finely chopped)
Browned ground turkey
Other options in the recipe that I don’t add, included – finely chopped onion or apple.
Serve over spaghetti sauce or, if really adventurous, spaghetti squash.

Yogurt chicken

Marinate boneless skinless chicken breast (ideally cut and pounded) in non fat plain yogurt and dijon mustard (as much yogurt is needed to cover the chicken and then just a TB or two of dijon depending on how much you're making).

Dip the chicken in bread crumbs (I prefer cornflake crumbs myself)

Cook on rack over pan (rather than directly on the pan - this way, you don't need oil in the pan)

350 for 15 minutes (check at 12-15 mins, might take a little longer)

OK, this is a much streamlined variation of something from Paula Dean (I think), but I really love the tanginess from the yogurt mix and the chicken comes out really moist.

The other massively dorky thing I did this week....

I started to create a schedule of all the weekly kids events in the area (I focused on the free library stuff, but put up others too) so that I can post it in the kitchen for ideas on what to do when I'm totally at a loose end and going nuts (we call that every day in my house...).