Sunday, January 15, 2012


So, any longtime readers know that I am not a fan of self-flagellating new year's resolutions. I remember reading someone years ago, saying, Why be so mean to yourself in the darkest days of the year? Make resolutions that are nice to yourself, and not fake nice, like "I'm going to lose 50 lbs if it kills me for my own health and well-being." So the best resolution-keeping I've ever done is the year my husband and I resolved to try one new restaurant a month. (This was pre-kids, clearly. Not that others can't pull it off with kids on the scene, but it's only really become remotely possible in the last year for us.) This year, the resolution is kind of in between: my husband has been reading Mark Bittman and is intrigued by the semi-vegan life. This is a little tricky for a man who wants turkey sandwiches and yogurt with his lunch, but it's easy to get around it by making more dinners vegan. (Bittman suggests "vegan until dinner," we do "vegan at dinner once a week, maybe." Close enough.) Clearly, we are still committed carnivores (see: last week) but I'm trying to introduce more vegan recipes to our lives. I wish the kids would eat soups; that would help! But alas--still no luck on that front.

This week:

Monday: Holiday! I will try again to make the leek and sundried tomato chicken.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday's triumphant return! With spinach and mushroom quesadillas for parents.

Wednesday: Noodle night, for those who partake. I had a Wegman's visit this week so I'll be doing the sheep's-milk yogurt and caramelized onion version again, with regular versions for the less adventuresome.

Thursday: slow cooker honey beans and spinach, and probably Trader Joe's buffalo chicken meatballs for the boys.

Friday: Leftovers, augmented by the freezer.

Last week, the brisket was a hit with everyone but me, and took the other three through three dinners. I can live with that. And I cannot figure out how to keep a meat together in the slow cooker. They all fall apart and can't be sliced, only shredded. Not a big deal, but an annoyance nonetheless.

The big hit of the week: after an exasperating white-flour-only based day for Mr. Picky, his brilliant father announce we'd be making smoothies for dessert in my spiffy new blender. The boys were thrilled and poured in an entire bag of frozen blueberries, and some raspberries and mango from the freezer too. (My older son kept "stealing" pieces of frozen mango and slurping them down. Yay.) We added a banana, the last of the strawberries, and some pineapple from the fridge, and a little OJ to keep it all together, and wow. They ate it over vanilla ice cream and begged for more smoothie, then had more for breakfast the next day (minus the ice cream of course). (It's a big blender.) It was a huge hit and a great redeemer of a nutritionally bankrupt day.

My kids may not eat soups, but they will eat dips. I tried this one, light on the hot sauce, this week:

Edamame Ginger Dip (from Eating Well 2009)  

6 servings, about 1/4 cup each | Active Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 1 1/4 hours

8 ounces frozen shelled edamame
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon tahini
1 clove garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt
Hot pepper sauce to taste

Cook edamame according to package directions. Puree the cooked edamame, water, soy sauce, ginger, vinegar, tahini, garlic, salt and hot sauce in a food processor until smooth. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Per serving : 70 Calories; 3 g Fat; 0 g Sat; 1 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 6 g Carbohydrates; 5 g Protein; 2 g Fiber; 196 mg Sodium; 31 mg Potassium

Tips & Notes:
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. 

Another thing the kids liked last week was a stir-fry their dad made. He sliced some chicken breasts, a big clove of garlic, and sauteed them in some olive oil and chianti. The boys were thrilled, and even the picky one said, "Dad! Can you make chicken like this every time???" I vote yes.

In the wake of that stir-fry success, I tried this one from Dinner: A Love Story. I went with ground pork instead (I have that touching-raw-meat aversion) and it was good. (And cheaper. And I only used 3/4 lb and it was plenty.) Alas--I was out of soy sauce but happily I found ponzu (what in the world did I buy that for?) and it was a good substitute. The final product was good, but I wanted to add something to it, like spinach (like my ground pork recipe on the sidebar) or cabbage or broccoli or even cashews, something to add some crunch. But it is a solid base for a fried rice dish, and next time I feel like having Chinese, I will try this first. Plus, the "use frozen Trader Joe's rice" trick is a great one; we almost never have "leftover" rice, which is what is usually needed for good fried rice.

And back to Bittman: we did try one of his "semi-vegan life" recipes, for sweet potato stew. I served it with vegan rice (made with olive oil instead of butter). I used too much coconut milk (thank goodness it was light); next time I'll use half a can and more water or broth. I'll also use yams instead of actual sweet potatoes; it came out very yellow, and the picture of the orange one was much more appealing. Neither boy tried it but my husband and I enjoyed it very much. It's a keeper. I will be trying a similar variation next week in the slow cooker; we'll see how that one goes.

My husband and I have some different palates these days; he loved the ponzu since it wasn't as salty; I actually wanted to salt the stir fry in its absence. After the Wegman's shop, I bought Goya sodas for a fun "side" on taco night; I liked the pineapple but was kind of grossed out by the coconut soda--and I love coconut. But maybe that was the problem--my husband loves pineapple but was disappointed in the carbonated version and preferred the coconut. Happily, we are grownups and can work around this most of the time.

And now I'm rambling. Thanks for reading this far. Check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for a great collection of menu plans!


Mom24 said...

Great! Now I'm commenting in my head. Sorry. I could have sworn I wrote it here as well.


Double win, Dad cooked and they loved it. Good job you.

I can not get my kids to like sweet potatoes. Even with plenty of sugar they just don't care for them. I love them, but I tend to shy away from things that aren't popular with the kids, for better or worse. There's just so much they do like, it's easier to go with that. I'm glad you and your hubby enjoyed.

I've never heard of Goya sodas. I'll have to look for those as a treat sometime.

Have a great week.

Eileen said...

Hi. I just found your site and I've been having fun checking out the recipes. One of my nicer resolutions to myself is to cook more (and new stuff). I can't wait to try that Roasted Carrots and Avocado Salad recipe--that sounds delicious. Not to mention the photo of it is fantastic.
Thanks for inspiring me to try some new recipes~Eileen

Ginny said...

Making that edamame dip pronto!