Toddler Approved

Fried Rice

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Fried Rice 


2 T peanut or canola oil

 

3/4 c carrots, small dice

3/4 c red pepper, small dice

3/4 c broccoli, cut into tiny florets and stems trimmed and cut into small pieces


1 T minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, finely chopped


4 c cooked rice, cold

3/4 c edamame 

1/2 c baby spinach cut into strips


2 eggs, beaten

3 T soy sauce

Optional: 3/4 c chopped Canadian bacon or chopped cooked shrimp

In a large nonstick saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high until it is shimmering hot. Add broccoli, red pepper and carrots and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about five minutes. Stir in garlic, green onions and ginger and cook one more minute. Add rice, edamame and spinach. Stir and then leave it alone for two minutes. If you are using Canadian bacon or cooked shrimp add it here. Stir again, then make a well in the center of the rice mixture. Add beaten eggs and cook, stirring, until they are scrambled. Distribute eggs through rice and remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce and serve.

Printable version here

Notes: Total leftover dinner. A few days prior I made extra rice that I intended to freeze because someone here mentioned that rice can be frozen but I had never tried it. Then I had a whats-for-dinner crisis with not really enough of anything to be useful (the refrigerated rice, a little broccoli, half a pepper, some almost empty bags of frozen stuff.) I remembered that Fine Cooking had done a fried rice at some point but I couldn't find the actual issue (I have since looked it up: Fine Cooking issue 97) so I winged it.       

PS I have been having major problems with my internet provider trying to upload pictures. Sorry for the delay in getting things up here; I have a backlog of recipes to post so check back.


Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1 c milk
1/4 c butter

2 1/4 t active dry yeast
1/4 c warm (110 degree) water

2 eggs
1/4 c sugar
4 c all-purpose flour, divided
1 t salt

1/4 c sugar
4.5 t cinnamon

1 egg
1 T milk

In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk and butter until butter melts. Put aside until it has cooled to 110 degrees.

Meanwhile, put warm water into the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with the paddle and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork to dissolve and let sit for three minutes. Then beat in 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 eggs. Add salt, warm milk mixture and 2 cups of flour. Mix at medium speed until well-blended, pausing to scrape down the sides.  Switch to dough hook and add 1.5 cups of flour. Knead at low-medium speed for about ten minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides until a ball has formed.

Turn dough onto work surface. Knead in about another 1/2 c of flour. The dough should be smooth and elastic and not sticky. If it is still tacky add more flour, two tablespoons at a time, until the dough reaches the desired consistency. When you say ohhhh that feels PERFECT it probably is.

Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and spin the dough around a few times to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place (75 degrees - I used my oven which has a proof setting but a closet nestled in a blanket would work) to rise for two to two and a half hours.

Punch dough once in the center and then gently turn it onto unfloured surface. Let the dough rest for ten minutes. Grease 9 x 5 loaf pan with butter. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar with cinnamon in a small bowl.  

Press dough into a 6 x 8 inch rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll dough out until it is 8 x 18 inches. Don't squish it - be gentle. Brush dough generously with milk and then sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar leaving a half inch border at the far end. Roll the dough away from you very tightly, using your hands to keep it from getting too wide. Pinch seam shut with your fingers. Then poke in the ends and pinch those shut as well.

Place loaf seam side down in the pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise for an hour and a half until the dough is an inch over the rim of the pan. Preheat oven to 350°.

When dough has risen, whisk together one egg and two teaspoons of milk and brush over top of the dough loaf. Bake until golden brown about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool on its side on a wire rack until bread is room temperature.

Printable version here

Notes: Historically I don't bake. But a couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to master French bread before I die and I have been on something of a run ever since. For this recipe I started with Cook's Illustrated but their dough was so wet it was literally running between my fingers as I tried to work with it so I went online and cobbled a few recipes together the next time I tried it. It turned out BEAUTIFULLY.

If you don't have a standing mixer use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients and then knead it by hand for about 15-16 minutes.   


Grilled Soy-Lime Chicken

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Grilled Soy-Lime Chicken

1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 c warm water
2 T sugar
2 T kosher salt

3 T soy sauce
1/4 t sugar
1/4 t grated lime zest
2 t lime juice

Combine water, sugar and salt in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken but small enough that it can be mostly submerged in the brine. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt and then add the chicken breast. Brine for thirty minutes.

In a separate bowl combine soy sauce, sugar, lime juice and lime zest. Remove chicken breast from brine, shake to remove excess liquid and then put chicken breast into marinade. Turn to coat and let the chicken marinate while the grill is heating, ten to fifteen minutes.   

Grill over medium heat for nine minutes. Flip and grill for another seven minutes.

Notes: Oh, stop yawning and just eat it. I struggled with chicken breast for a really long time. It's cheap, it defrosts in a plastic bag and warm water in less than half an hour, it's versatile, it's healthy, kids generally like it but... I just couldn't seem to DO anything with it. 

Enter the 30 minute brine (wow!) and one of a million marinades. Try this one. I like it. Patrick LOVES it. Caroline and Edward ate respectable amounts even though I think they get tired of chewing after a while and need something easier like the asparagus and rice that went with it. Edward is like a giraffe, he prefers things that are green. Caroline, for some explicable reason, is a rice FIEND.

"RIIIIIIIIIICCCEE?" she shrieks with both hands outstretched and another thousand grains fall to the floor.

What I have not yet tried is this same recipe without the grill but now that we are being deluged with an icy rain and the temperature inside my house is about sixty (who turns on the heat this early?) I think my grilling days are over. I shall try it on the stovetop and report back later, unless you want to try it on the stovetop and report back sooner.


Freezable French Toast

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Freezable French Toast

2 loaves sliced bread

6 T butter, browned

3 c half-and-half
4 eggs
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T flour
2 T vanilla extract
1 T real maple syrup
2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° unless you are going to use the broiler to toast the bread, in which case you can wait to turn on the broiler and then reduce the heat to 350° for the baking cycle.

Heat butter in a saucepan until it has browned, about five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about five to ten minutes - you want the butter to still be liquid but not so hot it that it causes the eggs to cook when you add them. Then whisk in eggs, half-and-half, brown sugar, flour, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Pour into a wide, flat container (like a lasagne pan or a big Tupperware container.)

Spray a wire cooling rack with cooking spray (or grease lightly with oil or a little butter) and place it inside a baking sheet. Two if you have them.

Start toasting the bread. You can either use a toaster or arrange the bread on the racks and broil for a minute or two on each side. The idea is to toast the bread and then soak the warm toast in the egg/half-and-half mixture so that it absorbs.

Take two pieces of warm toast at a time and submerge them in the custard for about sixty seconds (you'll start to see air bubbles as if you are drowning them - drowning them in GOODNESS.) Shake excess liquid off and arrange pieces on the wire cooling racks. Mine fit eight perfectly and I baked two sheets at once. Bake at 350° for fifteen minutes, turning after seven minutes (if you are baking two sheets switch their positions in the oven at this time.) Repeat with toast, custard soak and bake until both loaves and the custard are gone.

Let cool on the racks for thirty minutes, then place in freezer for an hour. Transfer frozen toast to Ziploc bags and freeze to store.

To reheat simply pop into the toaster and toast.

Makes 32 pieces. Serves: 1 Patrick.

Printable version here

Notes: Did that make any sense? It seems so obvious when I was doing it (toast soak bake freeze) but I am not sure if I didn't just garble things a little. The idea came from Cook's Country (a magazine I like) but I tweaked it a lot. The process takes time and is a nice weekend project, I think. The payoff comes on weekday mornings when you can create really good french toast in thirty seconds with the toaster. Ta DA! 


Jambalaya Mini Muffins

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Jambalaya Mini Muffins

3 T butter
1/2 c onion, very finely minced
1/2 c green pepper, very finely minced

1 c cornmeal
1 1/4 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt

2 eggs
2 c buttermilk

1 c cooked ham, very finely minced
1 c cooked Italian sausage, very finely minced

Preheat oven to 400°.

Melt butter and saute onion and green pepper until softened, then let cool slightly. In a large bowl whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt. In a large measuring cup beat eggs into buttermilk. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients all at once. Stir until just combined, taking care to break up any clumps. Gently fold in ham, sausage and vegetables.

Grease mini muffin pan (I use Pam!) Scoop a generous tablespoon of batter into each cup. Bake 15-16 minutes until tops starts to brown. 

Makes about 4 dozen mini muffins.

Notes: This comes, roughly, from the Junior League of New Orleans cookbook called Jambalaya. I had two Italian sausages in the freezer for some mysterious reason so I removed the casings and used them. Obviously andouille would be a nice sausage choice, as well, or chorizo. It is important to really mince the beejeezums out of the onion, pepper, sausage and ham. I used a chef's knife and the flat of my hand and whacked away. In the spirit of disclosure I had trouble getting the tops to brown properly and think in retrospect that I had the pans too far down in the oven... oh well. They tasted terrific anyway. Edward approved.  


Thirty Minute Chicken Noodle Soup

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Thirty Minute Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 small onion, diced
1 c sliced celery
1 c sliced carrots
2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1.5 T butter
1/2 t salt
1 t dried tarragon

4 c chicken broth
1.5 c cooked, chopped chicken

1 c wide egg noodles
1 c frozen peas

Melt butter in a small stockpot. Add celery, carrots, garlic, onion, salt and tarragon and saute until vegetables soften, about fifteen minutes. Add chicken broth and chicken and simmer, covered, another fifteen minutes. Stir in egg noodles and simmer another 8-9 minutes until noodles are cooked but not mushy. Off heat stir in peas. Pepper to taste and serve.

Notes: I had half of the chicken leftover from Zingerman's so I made this specifically in the hopes that the tiny pieces of chicken and the soft noodles and carrots would be easy on Patrick throat. They were. 

A few things about this recipe. First, using a chicken broth you like is crucial because the soup does not have a long time to develop a whole lot of additional flavors. I love Swanson's Natural Goodness but to each his own. Sauteing the vegetables in butter rather than my usual olive oil is key, too, because it adds a richness that you miss with the quick cooking time. I used to cut cooked chicken into small cubes but I have started really mincing it for certain recipes. I think it works especially well in soups. Finally, I usually make twice this much but I had to adjust for the small quantity of chicken we had leftover.

This served Caroline, Edward, and Patrick for dinner and me the next day for lunch.

Addendum:

A couple people asked about the butterflied chicken in that last recipe. Because you are using a 3lb fryer rather than a larger roasting bird it really does fit into a cast iron skillet even after the backbone is removed and the two halves are flattened. My skillet (I am almost positive - I will check when I get home from the library. I am here "picking up books for Patrick") is only ten inches and it fit comfortably.

To answer another question the advantage to butterflying is the much faster roasting time. The chicken is able to cook through in just about an hour.

Hope this helps. 

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Grilled Pizza, Part One

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Fifteen  Minute Pizza Sauce

2 T olive oil
2 clove of garlic, minced
8 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
1 t sugar
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried basil

In a saucepan heat olive oil. Add garlic and saute three minutes. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, oregano and garlic. Stir and then simmer for ten minutes.

and

One Hour (Give or Take) Pizza Dough

2 1/4 t active yeast (I buy a jar and keep it in the fridge; otherwise, use  1 packet)
1 1/4 c 106° water (for years I failed to make sure it was hot enough, now I use an oven thermometer)
4 c all purpose flour
1 T salt
1/4 c olive oil

Dissolve yeast in warm water. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine flour and salt. Using the dough hook attachment gradually stir in olive or and yeast/water mixture, alternating between the two. Increase the speed to medium and stir dough for seven minutes, stopping every so often to scrape dough from the sides and bottom of the bowl. If you do not have a stand mixer just use a spoon and beat the beejeezums out of it until it is elastic and just a little sticky. Flour and water are moody. Sometimes these amounts are perfect; some times they are not. Use your judgment and add water or flour by the tablespoon until the dough feels right.

Put the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Give it an hour or so to double in size. Then punch it down (I love that part) and divide into eight equal portions. Cover the eight balls with plastic wrap and let them rise again for ten minutes. Then roll or stretch each one until it is very very thin (wafer thin) and about 8-10 inches around.

Heat the grill to medium-low. Oil one side of one dough round and place on the grill oiled side down. Grill 1-2 minutes. Remove from the grill, oil the other side, and then add sauce (if desired) and other toppings lightly. Too much stuff on a grilled pizza is a problem. So scatter cheese, spinach, basil, pepperoni, what have you with a sparing hand and then return the pizza to the grill for another 2-3 minutes.

Depending upon the size of your grill you can do a few pizzas at once.  

Notes: I cut the dough into eight slices like a pie. When I went to roll them out they maintained their triangularity. Oh well. Pizza doesn't HAVE TO be round, you know. We made three pizzas this way (which was a mistake since Steve ate one, Patrick ate one and Caroline and Edward ate one together - hellloooo? no wonder I am always hungry at bed time) which left five balls of dough. We decide to grill them and then freeze the pre-grilled crusts for another day. I also froze the leftover sauce. My plan is to report back on how the freezer pizza components fared in Grilled Pizza Part Two.  

Patrick likes pepperoni and kalamata olives. Caroline and Edward liked (although they didn't have much choice in the matter) baby spinach and olives. I like black olives, fresh tomato, spinach and fresh basil. Steve prefers sausage when he can get it but seemed happy enough with spinach, olives and a few of the fifty billion chanterelle mushrooms he and Patrick have gathered this week. They are, like, I don't even know what... gnomes. And we are all tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese people. 

What do you put on yours?


Fernanda Pasta

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I went to visit my friend Fernanda several years ago and she made a version of this pasta. When I later mentioned how much I liked it she was embarrassed and said, "Really? I didn't make you an actual dinner?"

I now make this about once a week. First, I like it. Second, I almost always have everything I need on hand and I can go from oh hell what's for dinner to eating in twenty minutes. Third, I start by combining the pasta, tuna, and black olives and then pull out portion for Patrick who is suspicious of basil and feta and ALL FLAVOR... anyway. It lends itself well to adaptation. Recently I started adding the toasted garlic and when tomatoes are in season (and I have an afternoon to kill) I like to roast them and throw them as well.

Fernanda Pasta

16 oz box farfalle

2 cans tuna in olive oil, drained and flaked

4 oz package crumbled feta (my grocery sells a black pepper feta we like)

toasted garlic in 1/4 c olive oil

1/4 c fresh basil, slivered

2 T red onion, finely minced

1/2 c kalamata olives, chopped

3 c slow-roasted tomatoes

Make sure to add salt (I use about 2 T) to the pasta water. While the farfalle is cooking, start the toasted garlic. Cook pasta al dente, drain and toss with about 1 T of olive oil. Let cool slightly and then (provided you do not have a seven year old who needs customization) add feta, red onion, basil, tuna, toasted garlic with oil and olives. Top individual servings with coarsely chopped roasted tomatoes and ground pepper. I find this to be salty enough as it is (and I like salt) so be sure to taste before adding any more.