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Graham Cracker Crusted Chicken Fingers

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Despite the plethora of articles regarding the chemicals in chicken nuggets and chicken fingers, kids LOVE them.  It’s a shame we even call it “chicken” when studies of various brands have shown that they are less than 50% actual chicken, the rest is made up of not so appetizing things like blood vessels, nerves, fat and muscle mixed with msg, salt and artificial flavors. Hungry yet?  Me neither.  I have made various kinds of chicken fingers at home with various types of breading/coatings, but this week my husband suggested that we crush some graham crackers and mix them with bread crumbs to get a crispy crust (since the sugar in the graham will caramelize much better than regular bread).  We tried it and it was a HUGE HUGE hit.  So much so, that we didn’t have anything left over.  Not. One.Piece. The chicken was crispy on the outside, moist inside and the hint of sweetness was just perfect.  Even if you have award winning picky eaters at home, you have to try this simple recipe.

Graham Cracker Crusted Chicken Fingers

3-4 Chicken Breast

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup plain bread crumbs (white or whole wheat)

3-4 Graham Crackers

2-3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

Salt to taste

Cut chicken cutlets into 1/2″ strips (I use a heavy duty scissor).  Season with salt.  In a bowl, beat eggs and add milk.  Place graham cracker in a zip lock bag a crush with a rollin pin or wooden spoon.  Mix graham cracker and bread crumbs in a bowl.  Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat (I use coconut).  Dip chicken in egg mixture then roll in crumb mixture and add to pan.  Cook for 4-6 minutes on each side, or until desired crispness.

ENJOY!

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Five Soups Your Kids Will Love

Soups

 

Soup has been the lunch du jour at our house since the polar vortex made a guest appearance in NJ.  There are so many reasons to love soup, especially when feeding little ones. You can make huge quantities and freeze easily; you can “hide” all kinds of healthy things like lentils and kale, and puree it into a smooth, creamy consistency; it takes 5 minutes to warm up and serve…you get the picture.  I make nearly every weekend and serve it at least 2-3 times a week for lunch. I have tried many, many recipes, some were huge successes, some not so huge… here are my kids absolute favorites.

1. Creamy Butternut Squash & Apple Soup – This one of my family’s favorites! The combination of apples, sweet butternut squash and creamy coconut milk is a real treat. I have made this recipe with roasted butternut squash when I have time to roast it and with fresh peeled, and both are awesome. I don’t use ginger because my kids are not fans, but I do add cumin.

2. Broccoli Cheese Soup – Broccoli is my children’s favorite vegetable, so this soup is is slam dunk for us, but because it mild and creamy, and you can add shredded cheese to it, even kids who refuse broccoli may just give a shot.

3. Sweet Potato, Corn and Kale – This a great recipe to follow as you can substitute just about any group of veggies as long as you use sweet potato as a base, and you can use any liquid combo, either water and a “milk”, ie rice, almond, coconut etc, or just a broth.  This soup is a great way to get 2-3 servings of veggies in at one meal and it purees so well that you can offer in a cup with a straw to make it more fun!

4. Creamy Tomato Soup – Another easy to make soup that kids love, especially with a grilled cheese sandwich! I love this Ina Garten recipe, but I do leave out the basil because I don’t always have it and I don’t want to mess with a good thing.  I also cut out the last step of passing through a food mill and just puree it.  This freezes really well for school lunches too!

5. Portuguese Chicken Soup – This is the chicken soup that I grew up on and still love.  It’s made with rice and has lemon and mint flavors, exactly what you need when fighting off a cold.  It’s also filling enough to be a meal.  Here’s is Emeril’s version of it, which exactly like mine except I add chopped carrots for extra nutrition.

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Grilled Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Dressing

I don’t mind spending hours in the kitchen cooking dinner in the winter. There is nothing more inviting to me than the smell of something braising in the oven for hours on end. In the summer though, I’m totally about quick meals. Not only quick meals, but light meals.

These grilled chicken gyros with tzatziki dressing were a breeze to whip up – it only took me about 20 minutes to make the marinade and dressing, then I was back to playing soccer outside with my boys. A few hours later I quickly grilled the chicken and assembled the gyros for dinner.

I’m pretty sure there’s nothing authentic about these gyros, but they’re delicious! The chicken is so tender from the yogurt marinade, and while the tzatkizi dressing isn’t a traditional tzatziki sauce, I prefer the runnier consistency to drizzle over the gyros. It also makes for a great Greek salad dressing.

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Roasted Blueberry Quinoa Salad

What to do with a huge tub of blueberries sitting in my refrigerator? Last week I made a blueberry crisp, which was amazing. While it wasn’t full of too many unhealthy ingredients, I thought about trying to “healthify” it a little bit more. Then the healthy part of my brain nudged the unhealthy part of my brain and made me realize that I should just make something that is healthier than dessert to begin with. I wasn’t in a trial and error kind of mood anyway, and who knows how that healthy blueberry crisp would have turned out!

I’m a sucker for a grain salad. Greens and grains can work as a side dish or as a main dish. Throw in some roasted fruit? Even better. So I decided to roast those blueberries and use half of them to make a dressing for the salad. I threw the other half in the salad with a few extra fresh blueberries, some mixed greens, red onion, and feta cheese. Serve some toasted pita on the side and you have a filling, healthy summer meal.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Turkey Sliders

I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions that I love a good cheeseburger.  Well, any cheeseburger, really.  I’m also a huge fan of turkey burgers, but depending on what you put in them, they’re not any healthier than a regular burger.  I’ll often make turkey burgers using just lean ground turkey, curry powder, and red onion, which are always popular around my house.  I’ve been meaning to try another version though, so it was as if the stars aligned when I spotted a recipe for hummus turkey sliders the other day.  Adding hummus to turkey burgers?  Genius!

The hummus isn’t that noticeable in the burgers, but it does make them super moist.  While they were really good, I think they could also benefit from some additional herbs and/or spices.  Feel free to experiment – add some garlic, try a different flavor of hummus, or add some fresh dill.  The options are endless!

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Quick & Easy No Measure Gazpacho

Summer means tomatoes, and one of my favorite summer tomato dishes is gazpacho. Keeping a blender full of this summery soup in the refrigerator makes lunch a breeze. A few weeks ago I followed a recipe and wasn’t impressed with the results – too much garlic (never thought I would say that!), not zesty enough, not tomato-y enough. I decided I could do better, and I think I did. Bonus? You don’t even need to measure any ingredients. It’s more of a taste and adjust dish.

My oldest son loved the “pazgacho?” Gazpacho. “Gopazcho?” Gazpacho. “Zapagcho?” GAZPACHO! However you say it, it tastes delicious! Just ask my picky eater WHO ACTUALLY ATE IT! “Mmmmmmm, it’s so good, Mom.” You have to try it now…

QUICK AND EASY NO MEASURE GAZPACHO

  • 2 bunches of tomatoes (about 8)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 kirby cucumber
  • Hanful of flat leaf parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Tomato juice or water (I used 1 small can of Spicy Hot V8 Juice)
  • A few slices of stale French bread
  • A few splashes of red or white wine vinegar
  • A few drizzles of olive oil
  • Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Put bread in a bowl and cover it with water. A lot of recipes will tell you to remove the crusts from the bread, but I didn’t and couldn’t tell a difference. Let the bread sit for a few minutes, then squeeze out excess water and put it in the blender.

Next, cut your tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes, then put them in the blender.

Roughly chop the red pepper, cucumber, shallot, and garlic and add to the blender.

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Blend everything until smooth(ish) (it won’t be PERFECTLY smooth). Add flat leaf parsley, lemon juice, tomato juice, a few splashes of vinegar, and a few drizzles of olive oil to the blender. Blend again for a minute or two. Taste your soup and add salt, pepper, and sugar (if needed) until it tastes good to you.

Refrigerate, then eat! I like to top mine with some chopped avocado, cucumber, and tomato. So refreshing on a hot summer day.

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Crispy Green Bean & Tomato Salad

Yesterday was one of those perfect summer days – not too hot, no humidity, and a gentle breeze.  We spent pretty much all day outside playing with bubbles, riding scooters, cutting paper with craft scissors (my kids’ obsession), and cleaning our front porch.  Cleaning a front porch may not sound exciting to you, but there was a hose involved.  Of course my boys wanted to help!

When we moved into this house a few weeks ago I was so happy to discover a few peony and hydrangea bushes in our backyard.  Peonies are my absolute favorite flowers, but unfortunately they didn’t produce much.  The hydrangea bushes, however, are in full bloom (something we discovered today).  My boys may have a future in flower arranging… quite the helpers!

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What better way to end this quintessential summer day than with a light, summery meal?

I was flipping through a recent issue of Bon Appetit and was inspired by a page dedicated to green beans.  We don’t eat them often, but I do enjoy them.  I just don’t usually get too creative with them.  Luckily I just had a bunch delivered to my house the other night, so what better time to start experimenting with them than now?  Granted, I didn’t come up with anything too crazy – although, is it a salad?  A slaw?  A side dish?  A main dish?  I think it could be whatever you want it to be.  Add some hardboiled eggs and kalamata olives and you’d have a hearty salad, or serve it alongside some chicken like I did.  Either way, it works! Read the rest of this entry »

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Corn, Leek & Tomato Whole Wheat Pizza

Hey everyone! It’s Sarah, and I’m back after a three week break, during which time I moved, unpacked, decorated, discovered a groundhog living in our backyard, shuttled my kids to and from preschool near our old town (a 45 minute drive each way), caught said groundhog, hosted my son’s fourth birthday party, discovered a litter of baby groundhogs living under our front porch, made multiple trips to the doctor for pink eye, and so forth. Needless to say, cooking has been at the bottom of my to do list recently.

I’ve had good intentions to cook – checking out my new local grocery stores and purchasing lots of food. I just haven’t necessarily been cooking the most interesting or elaborate meals with that food. (I’ve also been checking out the local take out because we didn’t have ANY take out in our old town. At least none that I would want to eat or feed my children). I decided it’s finally time to get acquainted with my new kitchen and use up some of the stuff that’s been sitting in my refrigerator.

One of the nice things about our new town is that we can get around a lot by walking. Unfortunately we aren’t within walking distance of a grocery store, but we can walk to the dry cleaner, bagel shop, restaurants, a few antique shops, frozen yogurt shop, pizza joint, hair salons, and a yoga studio. This past Saturday I loaded all three of my boys into our new wheels and got a workout pushing them to the farmer’s market (funny how they were the ones who were so tired after that trip).

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Quick & Easy Weeknight Frittata

We’ve been eating a lot of breakfast for dinner lately.  Last week it was pancakes, this week it’s eggs.  We have about a million and one things going on right now, including packing to move, so I seem to have zero time to cook an elaborate meal, or go to the grocery store for that matter.  We’ve also been spending most of our time outdoors since the weather has been cooperating, so I consistently lose track of time and realize that it’s time to eat dinner and I haven’t even thought about what we are having.

It would be easy to resort to frozen processed foods in a time like this, but instead I prefer to turn to a frittata.  You can use whatever you have in your refrigerator, and it doesn’t require you to spend an hour in the kitchen.  Plus, we all remember the health benefits of eggs, right?

EASY WEEKNIGHT FRITTATA

My frittata was kind of Italian themed: quinoa, spinach, orange & yellow peppers, red onion, garlic, fresh rosemary, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and mozzarella cheese.  Tomatoes would have been a great addition, but like I said, I haven’t had much time to go grocery shopping.

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Again, this isn’t really a recipe, but more of an outline.  You can add as much or as little of the filling, spices, and cheese as you would like.

Serves 4 to 6 (depending on how hungry you are!)

  • Any veggies, grains, or meat leftover in your refrigerator
  • Fresh herbs and/or spices
  • Shredded cheese
  • 8 large eggs
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Sautee your filling until veggies start to soften (remember to season them with salt and pepper), then spread them out in an even layer over the bottom of an oven-safe pan.  A cast iron skillet comes in handy here…

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Top the filling layer with cheese.

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Whisk eggs and pour evenly over filling and cheese, cooking for a few minutes until the edges begin to set.

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Finish by baking in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until eggs are set.  I immediately run a knife around the edges to loosen them, then let the frittata cool for a few minutes before slicing.

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Serve with a salad and fruit and you have a quick, nutritious dinner!  “Egg Pizza,” as my oldest son calls it.

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Now, if only packing was as easy…

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Roasted Beet, Orange & Greens Quinoa Salad

Do you eat with your eyes? I do. Things that look beautiful just taste better to me, and I like a dish to catch my eye before my taste buds. Is that superficial? I’m talking about food, not people, so I think it’s perfectly acceptable. This Roasted Beet, Orange and Greens Quinoa Salad delivers the pretty factor and packs an extremely light, fresh flavor that is perfect for Spring.

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Beets – golden, burgundy, white with pink spots – whatever color they may be, are GORGEOUS. Sure, they may stain your fingers and your cutting board, but the messy part is totally worth the end result. Earthy and slightly sweet, I like to tell my kids they are “nature’s candy” (only my 1 year old, who doesn’t even understand that, seems to believe me). Look at these beauties…

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Do you know what goes well with beets (not just in terms of looks, but also flavor)? Goat cheese and oranges! Sure, beets are delicious on their own roasted, raw, or pickled, but goat cheese and oranges just pump up their deliciousness. Now that Spring has sprung and I’m in the mood for lighter meals, I decided to throw that tasty trio together with some quinoa, red onion, and beet greens and dress the whole thing with an orange balsamic dressing. AMAZING (my 1 year old agrees)!

ROASTED BEET, ORANGE & GREENS QUINOA SALAD

  • 3 cups prepared quinoa
  • 3 beets, roasted and diced
  • 1 orange, segmented and diced
  • red onion
  • goat cheese
  • orange balsamic dressing

First, trim the greens from your beets, but don’t throw them away! Soak them, rinse them, and let them dry (we will use them later). I mean, look at this color!!!

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Then, roast your beets in foil at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until they are easily pierced with a knife.

While your beets are roasting, zest your orange and segment it over a bowl, saving the juice.

I always have a jar of this balsamic dressing in my refrigerator, so I just added the fresh orange juice and zest to it. If you don’t already have dressing made, now would be a good time to do so! (I highly recommend keeping a jar of this dressing in YOUR refrigerator too.)

Once your beets are done and have cooled down a bit, simply rub them under some cool water to remove their skin. Then, dice them up. While you’re at it, dice up your oranges, chop up some red onion and the beet greens.

Add the beets, oranges, red onion, and greens to a large bowl with the quinoa and top with some goat cheese. Add dressing and toss. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Spoon salad into bowls and top with additional goat cheese (if desired).

Look how the beets “dyed” the quinoa a beautiful soft pink… gorgeous AND delicious!

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NOTE: Sorry for not providing exact measurements in this recipe, but you really just add as much or as little of everything as you would like. Maybe you want to add more oranges or goat cheese? Go ahead! Add as much dressing or as little dressing as you see fit. It’s totally up to you.

And see, baby-approved!

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