Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My little bunnies

Sometimes I want to pull my hair out because my children refuse to eat most cooked vegetables.  Bailey will eat cooked corn, peas, and broccoli.  Bryce will literally gag on any and all cooked veggies.  I make him try, and then instantly regret it as he dry heaves on one bite of mushy zuchinni.  Can we say texture issues?

On the flip side, they do seem to be liking their veggies cold, crunchy, and served as an appetizer!  The two biggest hits are peppers and carrots.  I've discovered that they love raw, unpeeled carrots.  This particular night they ate 4 whole carrots each.  It's the small victories.  Odd little bunnies...

Crock Pot Stew

Delicious, simple, cooked-ahead-of-time recipe number 2!

Crock Pot Stew

The awesome part of this recipe was that it took me about 10 minutes to prepare on Saturday night, and it was ready to eat on Monday night with the flip of a switch!  Perfect for the working mom!

I began with frozen venison round steak.  You could also use a beef roast or beef stew meat instead.  However, I love venison in the crock pot because, rather than getting tough with overcooking as can happen with beef, venison just gets more tender and starts to fall apart.  Venison can be a tasty, healthy, and very natural meat if it is butchered and cooked correctly.  Anyhow....

I sprayed my crock pot with cooking spray and put the frozen meat at the bottom.  I then washed and sliced about at dozen small potatoes (from the bucket), no peeling required!  In addition I added (all from the bucket), sliced celery, onions, purple carrots, tomato chunks, and fresh sage.  I sprinkled in some Penzey's dehydrated garlic, salt, and ground black pepper.  I put the cover on, and put the crock pot into the fridge until Monday morning.  On Monday morning at 7:00, right before leaving for work, I turned the crock pot on low.

I got home around 5:00 to a delicious smelling house and dinner, ready to go.  I whipped up a jiffy mix of cornbread mini-muffins (which I topped with a dollop of real maple syrup before baking- yum!) and dinner was on the table before 6:00.  Super simple, easy, and full of veggies!

Garlic Tomato-Cream Spaghetti

I finally had a chance this weekend to tinker in the kitchen.  September is an INSANE month for me as a teacher, so with 50+ hours a week at school, cooking has been "on the back burner" so to speak.  There's a whole new challenge to getting home at quarter to five each night with two hungry, cranky kids.  Not a lot of time for experimentation or fussy recipes.

I had the bright idea to do some cooking ahead of time this weekend, and successfully created 2 newly tweaked classics.

Garlic Tomato-Cream Spaghetti

Vampires beware...

I started by putting 3 garlic cloves in the magic bullet and pureeing it into a paste.

Then, I began my traditional cream sauce- equal parts Earth Balance and Wondra Flour.  I added the pureed garlic into the flour/butter paste.  I then added roughly a cup of organic half and half and stirred until thick.

In the magic bullet, I added a variety of tomatoes.  I had so many tomatoes from my own plant as well as from the bucket these past two weeks.  I tossed all kinds-from grape, to roma, to cherry- into the magic bullet and pureed into liquid.  I don't know how many tomatoes I used, but I filled the large cup on the magic bullet twice.  I also added a few fresh basil leaves in with the tomatoes.

I stirred the liquified tomatoes into the thick cream sauce, brought it to a boil, and turned off the burner.

Here is the magic part------I did this on Saturday night.  I tasted it that night and it was so-so.  I left it to "brew" in the cast iron pan in the fridge until Tuesday at dinner time.  I simply warmed it up and served it over whole-wheat thin spaghetti noodles.  48 hours of fridge time changed it from so-so to so delicious!

In addition, I broiled up some chicken breasts with garlic salt and Penzey's Bicentennial Rub.  I scored the chicken at the co-op today.  It was fresh from a local farm and packaged just yesterday.  Fresh and delicious.  Once you go organic chicken, you can't go back.  It's a whole new level of chicken- juicy, tender, and so flavorful.  Add a side of steamed spinach and it was a perfect meal in about 25 minutes!

Bryce even ate the spaghetti, and he usually claims to like his pasta plain.  He complained for a minute, then cleaned his plate.  He gets a hefty serving of tomatoes, and I avoid another night of begging for "garlic noodles."  Win.