Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cooking When You Have Kids, Part 2

Like my sister, I have also recently been faced with the predicament of restructuring the way I cook to adapt to my new role as a mother.  This hasn't been easy for me, particularly because I am naturally drawn to labor-intensive cooking.  I love the process of it!  I love making things from scratch.  If I had the time and energy, I would seriously church my own butter and make my own bread from wheat that I grew in my garden.  I would love that!  Alas, that is all just a pipe dream for now, as I too have to find meals that I can do prep work early in the day or meals that take 20-30 minutes to prepare.  The crock pot is a useful tool, but sometimes you just get bored of making crock pot recipes.  Also, it seems like they are better wintertime recipes, like soups and stews.  Anyway...Here are a few healthy and easy meals that I have been making recently.  Hope you try them out!

Chicken Piccata
(Pictured above)

I love the fresh lemony flavor of chicken piccata. Because the chicken breasts are butterflied, or pounded very thin, they cook very fast. This meal takes about 20-30 minutes to make from start to finish and its nice because its a little on the "fancy" side. Serve it with some pasta and a nice tossed salad and you have a beautiful meal. The other part that is great is that you probably likely have all or most of the ingredients in your pantry, so its a very economical meal to prepare also.


1 pound chicken scaloppini (I just butterflied two large chicken breasts)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, divided
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, zest reserved for optional garnish, about 2 tablespoons juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Baby arugula for garnish
Whole-wheat angel hair pasta or roasted potatoes, for serving


Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot; cook the cutlets until opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the cutlets to a plate. (Reserve the skillet.) Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium.

Add the remaining teaspoon oil and garlic to the same skillet; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk together the broth, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon flour, and add to the pan. Simmer sauce until reduced and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, parsley and capers. Swirl in the butter until sauce is shiny and slightly thickened.

Serve chicken with the sauce. Toss the arugula and freshly grated lemon zest with a light drizzle of olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper, scatter over chicken. Serve with pasta or potatoes as desired.

Source: Copyright 2010 Television Food Network, G.P. You can find it here.


When my younger sister came to visit me I decided to whip up some crepes one day, because she has a thing for french cuisine. It had been a while since I had made them. They are so easy, so fast and so versatile! I was hooked. Since then, I have made a batch of batter each week and kept it in my fridge. Its great for a lunch or light dinner. And its also super kid friendly! Just fill it with some ham and cheese and fold it into quarters. The picture above is a sweet crepe, filled simply with cottage cheese and a little cherry jam. Quite tasty!

Some dinner options for crepes would be:
Spinach, goat cheese, mushrooms and tomato
Prosciutto, asparagus and Fontina Cheese
Good old Ham and Swiss or Ham and Cheddar
Shredded Chicken, Broccoli, Ricotta and Cheddar

you get the drift! You could basically put whatever you fancy in a crepe.

Here is a basic crepe recipe:

1 cup flour ( you can also do 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup white)
1 1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
2 T canola oil
2 T Sugar (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high. Pour about 1/4 cup batter and swirl around until thin and even. Cook about 1 minute then flip, cook about 30 seconds to a minute longer.

You can find similar recipes on allrecipes.com

Above: Ice cream wrapped crepe topped with caramel ice cream topping.

Above: This is such an easy yet fancy and pretty dessert.  Not to mention that it is so delicious!  There's just something about the combination of ice cream and a crepe!  You could serve this with any of your favorite toppings, such as fresh berries and powdered sugar, or strawberries and chocolate syrup.  Then, of course, you could use any flavor of ice cream that you like!  Yum!

Fish is a great quick meal. It only takes a few minutes to cook, so pretty much any preparation of it will be pretty snappy. Plus its so healthy for you and light and tasty. I love fish! This is one of my favorite Tilapia recipes from Cooking Light. I substituted the rice with Quinoa, because that is what I had in my pantry and it was oh so tasty. Have you ever tried Quinoa? I strongly recommend it! It is a super healthy whole grain that can basically be used in place of rice or couscous. And its a great source of protein. I only recently discovered it, but I am hooked.

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut Curry


1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
3 cups hot cooked basmati rice
4 lime wedges


Preheat broiler

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add giner and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and onions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

Source: Found on Food.com. You can find it here.

Gnocchi! I love Gnocchi! Have you tried it? They are these plump little potato pasta dumplings they eat in Italy. I like them because they look like little grubs. I think kids would like them too. There are unlimited ways of preparing gnocchi. My little sister made this dish for me for mothers day and it really only took about 20 minutes. I am going to paraphrase the recipe for you.

Mother's Day Gnocchi

Basically you take 1 package gnocchi, boil it until they float ( about 4 minutes ); drain.

Then while the water is boiling, in a saucepan heat 1 T olive oil. Add 2 crushed garlic cloves, cook until fragrant. Add 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes and simmer for about 15 min. add salt and pepper to taste. Add 4 oz mascarpone cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Stir to combine. Add a bunch of fresh spinach and stir until just wilted. Remove from heat. Top with fresh basil leaves and Parmesan.

Other variations that I like to make from time to time:

Cook Gnocchi. In a saucepan heat oil, add garlic. Add 8 oz mushrooms, cook until golden. Add 1/2 pound peeled shrimp. Toss with Gnocchi, a few tablespoons of pesto and some diced tomatoes. Add some Parmesan cheese and serve

Last, very simple, is Gnocci ala Caprese:

Add your favorite tomato basil pasta sauce with packaged cooked gnocchi and toss in some of those baby buffalo mozzarella cheese balls. Toss with fresh basil leaves and some Parmesan cheese. I like this because the gnocchi and the mozzarella are roughly the same size. Tasty Tasty!

Last is a tasty veggie burger I have made a few times. Its nice and easy and you can make the patties during the day and then just put in the oven when you are ready. Super cheap and it makes 6 servings, so you'll likely have leftovers! Yum!

Black Bean Burgers with Mango Salsa Relish


2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 medium jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
2 large egg whites
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups chopped peeled mango (about 1 medium)
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 (2-ounce) whole-wheat hamburger buns, lightly toasted
6 green leaf lettuce leaves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place black beans in a medium bowl; mash with a fork. Stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro and the next 7 ingredients (through egg whites). Shape bean mixture into 6 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Arrange patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes, carefully turning once.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, mango, and the next 4 ingredients (through minced garlic) in a medium bowl. Place a patty on bottom half of each hamburger bun; top each with 1 lettuce leaf, 1/3 cup salsa, and top half of bun.

Source: Cooking Light recipe by Marina Delio, Santa Barbara, California, April 2010. You can find it here.


  1. Yummy, yummy, yummy. I can't wait to try some of these.

    Also, I need to post that one recipe with the mushroom and chicken crepes.

  2. These look like some fun recipes. I've never tried gnocchi at home before. I'll have to make it sometime.

    The mushroom and chicken crepes are already posted on our blog. They are on our blog post of French recipes from early last year. We need to get a picture of them though.

    By the way, Blogspot is really having some issues lately! I keep trying to post my comment and it keeps calling me "Anonymous" instead of Sarah. It's me! Sarah!

  3. It took me seriously ten tries to post that last comment and I finally had to sign into our foodie family account to do it.

    Blogspot, what is going on lately? We need to talk and work some things out!

  4. Laurie, thanks for the crepe recipe! I made it yesterday for our dessert (vanilla ice cream wrapped in crepes with your favorite toppings). It was delicious and oh so easy. Besides that, I love to eat these crepes plain! Yum!

  5. I added some pictures of the ice cream filled crepes we had for dessert on Sunday. I wish I hadn't eaten all of those crepes...because I could totally go for another ice cream filled crepe right now. But I'd better not make any more crepes for awhile! Too much of a temptation for me!