Sunday, October 31, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

These better-for-you rice crispy treats are delicious and much more healthy than the tranditional version. My daughter and I made a batch for Halloween that had orange and black sprinkles on top. Enjoy

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Usually we post dinner recipes, but today I'm going to post a breakfast idea - banana pancakes. Make your family's favorite pancakes - Red Mill has a good mix. We make sourdough pancakes. When the cakes are in the skillet, slice banana in before you flip. It may sound strange, but it is very, very yummy!

If you are interested in sourdough, there is post on my blog all about it ...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Hi - Instead of posting a new recipe this week, I'm going to respond to some of the comments raised at the last meeting after Darcy discussed her difficulty making healthy meals after work and then feeling guilty that she didn't have time.

There are lots of creative ways to make dinner time easier on a working family (food swap). Here is how I deal with it. First, boring doesn't mean it's not a good, healthy dinner. Ask yourself what's important - fancy new dishes or something your family will eat that is actually good for them? I'm guessing the later. I make a weekly dinner menu of meals my family likes. Here's an example for the fall season:

Sunday - Spaghetti and salad
Monday - Leftover spaghetti and salad
Tuesday - Baked chicken, potatoes and green beans
Wednesday - Leftover baked chicken tacos (lettuce, tomatoes, black beans and cheese)
Thursday - Pork chops, couscous and corn
Friday - Pizza Night! (Give yourself a break)
Saturday - Experiement with something new

The first big hint is to make double batches of food so you have at least two nights covered. The second hint is that not everything has to be from scratch. Use a jar of spaghetti sauce and dress it up with pre-cut mushrooms. Use pre-cut, pre-washed salad mix. Keep frozen green beans and corn kernels on the ready. Have boxes of pre-spiced couscous in the pantry. Third hint, make use of the microwave - potatoes take an hour in the oven but only 10 minutes in the microwave.

If your family gets bored - Use alfredo sauce and penne pasta instead of marinara sauce and spaghetti noodles. Substitute sweet potatoes intead of russet. Use broccoli in stead of green beans. Make risotto instead of couscous (there are good, quick boxed risotto mixes available). Do salmon instead of pork. Personally, I change up the menu each season but I always keep it simple - mac-n-cheese, chili, grilled hamburgers, soup.

I also suggest that you plan your menu out each week on Sunday and get all your shopping done. If you have time on Sunday, you an pre-chop veggies too. Good luck!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Putting the Garden to Bed

For those who garden, October means time to put the garden to bed for the winter. I recently took a class, offered by the Clark County Master Composters, about lasagna gardening. This is a technique for creating a no-till, no-dig garden. And you start it in the fall. This is also a really good option for anyone planning on starting a garden, or a new bed, in the spring. Here are the steps starting from the ground up:

1. If you are starting a new garden or bed, you need a weed barrier. News paper, about one day's worth thick, works well. Cardboard is also a good option. Cotton, linen, burlap or any other all natural fiber will work too. Lay the material out, overlapping slightly, over the entire area where your garden will be. Note - If you already have a garden, then skip this step.

2. Add a woody layer. This layer helps with drainage. Use twigs, corn stalks, pine cones - anything with a lot of structure that won't decompose quickly.

3. Layer "greens" and "browns", alternating, until it is 18-24 inches high. "Greens" are food scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, grass clippings, manure, etc. Don't use any meats or fats in your "green" layer because the smell will attract rats. "Browns" are dry leaves, straw, shredded newspaper,shredded office paper (no color ink), etc. If you are starting a new bed, make it 24 inches high. It will shrink down as it composts.

4. Cover it. If you are doing this in the fall, end with a "brown" layer of dried leaves. If you are doing this in the spring and need to use it soon, cover it with black plastic. The black plastic will keep the heat in and cook the compost. It will be ready to use in 6 weeks. If you are going to cook it, add more layers of "browns" than "greens".

In the spring, plant right into your compost. No tilling or turning needed. The following fall, start at #2 above but only build the compost up 12-18 inches.

The best question asked in the class was "What if I don't have enough food scraps and shredded news paper to build my bed all at once?" The answer was to do it a little at a time. Put down the weed barrier and the woody layer over the whole area you intend to have as the garden. Over the fall and winter add "greens" and "browns" as you have them available. In the spring it won't be completely composted but you can actually plant right into the still-composting material - the plants will do just fine.

Happy gardening!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Working Mom's Recipe of the Week

Root Veggies Mac-n-Cheese
Servings: 8
Time: 30 min

1/2 lb carrotes, sliced 1" thick
1/2 lb parsnip, sliced 1" thick
1 lb elbow pasta
4 T butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, diced
3 T flour
2 c 2% milk
1 T Old Bay Seasoning
2 1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese (9 oz)
1 c shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring pot of salted water to boil; add carrots and parsnip. Cook 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor or blender - puree. Bring second pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta until al dente (5 min). Drain.

Meanwhile, in a lare pan, melt butter. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add flour and stir until just moistened. Whisk in milk and simmer until just thickened. Remove from heat. Add Old Bay Seasoning. Add 2 cups of the cheddar cheese and melt while stirring slowly with a wooden spoon. Taste and season with salt/pepper.

Preheat broiler. Stir pureed veggies and cheese sauce into pasta. Transfer to a casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: The trick to not having grainy sauce is to remove the sauce from heat and letting it cool for a couple minutes before adding the cheese. It will take longer to melt the cheese, but the cheese won't separate and the sauce will come out smooth.

From: Rachael Ray Magazine (Oct 2010)