Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

As moms we are known as multi-taskers, the ones who can do it all.  The other day I was trying to juggle my children as I paid for 10 items that I somehow crammed into my kid free hand.  Mumbling to myself I said, “Not sure why I didn’t grab a cart,” the young boy bagging up my items smiled at me and said “moms can do it all, right?”  Well as much as moms would like to be able to do it all, we can’t.  We are only human. 

One important aspect of being a mom is providing your children with healthy meals, and the nutrition they need to grow.  Let’s check back into reality for a moment, feeding your kids healthy food isn’t only expensive, but it can be time consuming, and then there are those children (my son included) who would rather feast on chocolate and graham crackers all day.  Too many healthy articles on line to choose from and the fact that it’s much easier to stick to a routine recipe than it is trying to juggle the demands of your children all the while attempting to create the newest, healthiest dinner masterpiece make it seem easier to just stick to quick microwaveable food.  Not only that, but sometimes there is that recipe that just fails; plain and simple.  Or it may be exceptionally tasty, but your kids dry heave at the sight. 

Chicken tenders, pizza, carbs, carbs, carbs seem to be a favorite in my house.  I however, realize living off carbs isn’t probably the healthiest meal plan for my children.  So instead I secretly sneak things into their muffins, their breads, you name it I’ve hidden it.  Usually it goes completely unnoticed. 

I would like to share an absolute favorite in my house.  First of all, what child doesn’t like pizza?  Secondly, what child doesn’t like to help make pizza with their mama’s?  Kid’s like to help in the kitchen, so I put mine to work!  It can be fun to have them help choose the toppings of their choice (within reason of course, chocolate chips are not an option in this case).  Rather than use regular pizza dough I’m going to share a family favorite using Naan bread for a healthier alternative to pizza.

 

My children absolutely love this, and it is so simple and easy to make.  There are endless options with toppings of your choosing.  You can choose different cheeses, make your own pizza sauce, or take the busy mom’s route, and purchase sugar free pizza sauce.  Your choice!  I personally use either Trader Joes brand, or Ragu light no sugar added.  The less sugar the better in my household.

What you will need:

Naan Bread

Sugar Free Pizza Sauce

Low-Fat Mozzarella cheese

Pureed spinach

And lastly, toppings of your choice.

Not only are these exceptionally simple to make, but very affordable.  In our household we usually make two pizzas.  I puree about a cup of fresh spinach.  Frozen is okay too.  I mix that into about a cup of the pizza sauce.  Like I said earlier, hiding veggies is the key to getting your picky toddler to eat their greens without fuss.  I spread the sauce with the spinach puree over the Naan bread.  My family isn’t too big on sauce so we spread a thin layer.  We then sprinkle with cheese.  Add some olives and pineapples to the top and put it in the oven on 425 for 10-15 minutes. 

Another favorite in our household is using turkey pepperoni found in most deli sections of the grocery store.  This recipe is not only quick, and simple but exceptionally affordable for families looking for healthier meal options within a budget.

 

 

Slow cooking is a Mom’s best friend. Add your ingredients, turn on the Crock Pot, set the timer, and go to work. By the time you get home at five or six that night, dinner is done, and your house smells like the best restaraunt you’ve ever been to! The simplicity and ease of use is what makes it so great for busy moms, but slow cooking has been around for centuries, since the days of burying your dinosaur meat in a big pile of hot rocks and letting it sit for a day or two while you rounded up your next kill. Ok, so maybe dinosaur meat is a little bit of a stretch, but since the invention on metal and ceramic pots and pans, the chef has used this method to cook.

Let’s go over a few common terms when sloooooow cooking:

Crock Pot: Common brand of electric insulated pot that cooks food over an internal heat source using a set timer. Get one. They’re incredible.

Dutch Oven: Heavy, thick walled cast iron pot with a recessed lid that is used over a hearth, open flame, buried in hot coals, or in the oven.

Casserole: A large, usually white, ceramic dish that is used to cook a large variety of ingredients at the same time.

Casserole: The name of the dish usually cooked in the casserole dish.

Stew: A mixture of meat and vegetables, usually cut up, added to water, then cooked until soft and the water becomes a sauce.

Braising: Cooking meat in a small amount of water to retain moisture in the meat, most often successful with a fully sealed lid. Water becomes a very strong sauce.

Au Jus: The drippings and flavorings of meat when cooked, usually mixed with water for a sauce. TASTY.

So by now you have a pretty good idea of the basic utensils needed for slow cooking, lets go over some of the different types of ingredients you will likely encounter.

Beef: One of the most satisfying parts of slow cooking is that you can take a less that perfect cut of meat, one that is cheap, chewy, and useless for pretty much any other type of cooking, and turn it into the softest, most tender, delightful cut of beef you’ve ever experienced in your life, just depending on the length of time that you spend cooking said cut of meat. The longer you cook, the better, and the tighter your lid on your pot, the better. Like the old pressure cookers that were common while our parents were growing up, heat, pressure, moisture, and time all combine to tenderize and add flavor to your choice of cut. That tough rump roast, or shank of lamb can be cooked to perfection in eight hours. That chewy deer meat that your third cousin Clyde is always dropping off on your doorstep can become velvety soft and tender like you’ve never tasted it before, and you don’t have to beat it with a mallet, or add gobs and gobs of alkali tenderizer to it.

Vegetables: Veggies both absorb flavor and emit flavor when cooked in the same pot as the rest of your items, becoming soft and juicy while giving that young spring chicken next to it a decidedly carrot like flavor that compliments it very nicely.

Potatoes: Simmering potatoes releases the starches and even sweetens them some, especially the longer they are cooked, while the water they are cooked in often becomes a thicker gravy-like sauce that has the tastes and aroma of the other items in the pot.

Barley, Rice: Can be cooked right along with your first batch of ingredients, and will absorb water and flavor from the other items around it, so adjust your water amounts accordingly.

Pasta: Noodles should be added during the last hour of cooking, as they take the least amount of time to cook usually, unless the recipe calls for very saturated soft pasta.

Slow cooking doesn’t have to be a last minute as you rush out the door dinner idea, but it can work in a pinch. Classier meals can be made with a slow cooker, such a duck confit, or beef ragou. Or you can stick with classic chili-mac or chicken soup. You can even bake with a slow cooker. One of my favorite memories is my brother’s Boy Scout leader making peach cobbler in the remains of our fire pit after seven hours of hiking in the blistering sun and shivering cold of a Florida winter. You can find literally hundreds of recipes online, in the library, and even on TV, (YAY INFORMERCIALS!) that offer great advice, tips and tricks for using the slow cooking device of your choice.

Cooks.com Search: Slow Cook
AllRecipes.com Search: Slow Cook
Williams Sonoma: Fast Slow Cooking