Monday, January 14, 2013

Now We're Cookin'

For most of their lives I've occupied Michael and Sophie with something (coloring, stickers, or even a show) while I've prepared meals, and it's been refreshing in recent months to instead make some cooking task that busy activity.

Ripping toasted bread for spinach-artichoke casserole (recipe below)

To eat or not to eat...


Since our recipe preferences these days tend to be ones that require as little prep as possible like "cheater soup," there's usually not a ton for the kids to do.  But even while preparing my latest slow-cooker favorite, Cranberry-Chipotle Beef from Better Homes and Gardens, Michael and Sophie enjoyed stirring the sauce in the bowl, counting how many times I chopped the chilis, and helping me dump the onions (frozen in bag--I don't even chop if I don't have to) into the crockpot. 

This week we made potato soup again (recipe below).


Spinach and Artichoke Casserole
(adapted from Cooking 'Round the Clock: 30-Minute Meals by Rachael Ray)
Loaf of crusty sour dough bread
Two cloves of garlic, peeled
Olive oil
One can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
Two boxes of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry in a towel
3 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
Black pepper
Shredded swiss cheese

Slice bread and toast in the oven.  Rub slices with garlic cloves.  Coat bottom of a casserole dish with olive oil, cut bread into bite-sized chunks--or let toddlers at 'em, and place in the dish.  Top with artichoke hearts and spinach and season with salt.  (We often add ham here as well.)  Wisk heavy cream and eggs, season with black pepper, and pour over top.  Sprinkle with lots of cheese and bake at 375 until golden brown (30-40 minutes).

Potato Soup
(adapted from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good)
5-6 baked potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups 2% milk
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
a bunch of green onions, chopped
package of diced ham (cooked bacon works too)
2 cups shredded cheese
8 oz. light sour cream

Scoop potato from skins letting it break into small chunks and set aside.  Brown diced ham and set aside as well.  Melt butter, add flour, and stir in milk.  Bring to a boil (should thicken significantly).  Add salt and pepper, potato, ham, 1/2 green onion, 1 cup cheese, and sour cream.  Cook for 5-10 minutes and serve topped with remaining green onions and cheese.

I'm fortunate to have two daring eaters on my hands who don't refuse much, but when they've had a hand in cooking the meal we're eating, they beam with pride and seem to eat a little more enthusiastically. Of course, Michael requested yogurt after a few bites of soup when leftovers were served for lunch the next day, but that's life with 2.5+ year-olds.

Look back at this oldie for some more of our favorite recipes!

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