Tag Archives: recipes

baby / tots cooking

Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables – Tricks and Tips

The other night Mike told me that when his dad was a little boy, he convinced his mother that he was allergic to salad.  I can remember chomping away on radishes from grampa’s garden as a little girl and loathing the sight of them a few years later [I now like them again].   I can also remember sitting at the kitchen table with my brother, staring at the cold red beets left on our dinner plates [We were instructed by mom that we could not leave the table until we ate those beets.].  I hated beets for a long time after that and they still aren’t my favorite, but I can handle them in a nice salad with goat cheese from time to time.

Right now Ava gobbles up everything I put into her spoon.  She especially seems to love peas, butternut squash, and a sweet potato/apricot mix.  After her next check-up, we will be able to expand her palate even further with World Baby Foods [I raved about these in a previous post].  Regardless of my efforts today, one day I will no doubt be giving Ava a lecture on why she needs to eat her vegetables.  Children have finicky palates.  They might love something one day and make gagging noises at it the next.  The best advice?  Don’t give up and don’t give in.  Here are a few tips to help sneak those evil little plants into your little ones’ tummies.


Mix, mash, blend, bake, boil, chop, and grill. Experiment with the different textures and flavors by preparing vegetables in different ways.

Use familiar foods. Sneak veggies onto a pizza by putting them under the cheese.  Add corn into your ground beef for tacos.  Mash peas into mashed potatoes.  You get the idea.

Make things fun by involving your child in food preparation.  Sometimes kids are more likely to try something new if they helped make it.  For younger tots, make eating veggies a game – for example, place salad ingredients into different bowls and let your child make a veggie face on his/her plate [shredded carrot hair, cherry tomato eyes, etc] and then gobble up the face!

Carrots, zucchini, sqaush, and even beets can be made into delicious, nutritious cupcakes.

Recipe for Beet Cupcakes from Straight from the Farm.

Recipe for Butternut Squash Cupcakes from Vanilla Garlic.

Alternatives to French Fries.
-Bake them instead of frying
-Try baked sweet potato fries [You can usually find them in a bag in the freezer section to make it hassle free.  They go great with honey mustard or mayo!]
-Parsnip fries [Don’t knock ’em until you’ve tried ’em.  They are packed with vitamins, folic acid and fiber and most importantly look just like “real” french fries.  Toss with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pop in the oven for about 25 mins.]

There are tons of resources available these days [cookbooks, websites, blogs] dedicated to this subject so by all means, use them.  Eventually [hopefully] this veggie hating phase will pass and there will be a new “I hate this” phase to deal with.

Have a sneak vegetable trick or recipe of your own?  Post it as a comment!!


Strawberry Mint & Coconut Popsicles

It’s so easy to make these delicious [and healthy] frozen treats!  The possible flavor combinations are endless, so expect lots more popsicle posts throughout the summer!


To make Strawberry Mint & Coconut Popsicles … Toss strawberries [I used really ripe strawberries so they would be super sweet] and a few leaves of fresh mint into the blender and blend!  Stir in coconut flakes and a squeeze of lime, pour into posicle trays and freeze!  That’s it.  I told you it was easy.  [Note – if these aren’t naturally sweet enough for you, add a teaspoon of sugar or some agave.]

baby / tots cooking decor

One Scoop or Two?

Well, the hours quickly turned into days and now I am ready to blog again.  We had a fun filled Fourth of July weekend … shopping, a picnic in the park, trips to the playground, fireworks, more shopping, and more eating.  We climbed out onto our fire escape for a surprisingly excellent view of fireworks being set off on random Brooklyn rooftops and from the massive Macy’s display along the Hudson River.  All in all, it was one of those weekends we wished would never end [but then, I feel like that every weekend].

As I am writing this post, I can hear the ice cream truck making its way down the street.  I was never really an ice cream person, but during my pregnancy that all changed.  There was a time last summer that I actually went out searching the neighborhood for the ice cream man.  Unfortunately, the craving did not end after giving birth.  This weekend, we happened upon a gourmet ice cream truck serving up organic goodness with flavors like pistachio, green tea, and hazelnut – delicious!  I’ve been wanting to make some homemade ice cream … I can still remember sitting on the back porch with my grampa when I was a little girl; helping him crank and crank and crank for that sweet frosty payoff.  If only we knew then that we could just throw the ingredients into a bag and shake it for five minutes like the kid-friendly recipe I found on Kaboose.


And since ice cream makers do all of the cranking for you now, it’s much easier to whip up cold and creamy delights like this Rocky Road [egg free!] recipe from AllRecipes.com.


Want a healthier option? Try a fruity sorbet or granita!  I found a great recipe for Tripe Berry Sorbet [sweetened with agave] on The Wind Attack.  Or if you are really short on time [like me!], toss some frozen berries into the blender with mint or lime or lemon and some agave.  I just blended up some strawberries, mint, lemon, and agave and spooned the mixture into popsicle trays and stuck them in the freezer and will share the end result with you later on.  Hot summer day … cool summer treat.  Ahhhhhhhh…..


Spicy Turkey Meatballs

Sometimes I am amazed that I find the time to cook dinner almost every night.  I do most of my prep work in the afternoons while Ava is either napping or quietly playing on the floor.  And since I don’t have much time for anything that doesn’t involve the babers, I opt for quick and easy meals.  Yesterday, I put together this meatball dish and stored it in the fridge until I was ready to saute the meatballs and cook the pasta and put it on the table … just in time for Mike to walk through the door.


To Make the Spicy Turkey Meatballs … Chop up some onions [any kind will do] and place into bowl with ground turkey.  Add a dash of salt, fresh ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, hot adobo seasoning [i use Goya], and an italian seasoning blend.  Mix by hand and roll into balls.  These store really well in the fridge and it allows them to set so they keep their shape better when you cook them.

To Make the Sauce … Simmer chopped onions and tomatoes, olive oil, dried basil and oregano [or italian seasoning] until veggies are tender.  Meanwhile, saute fresh green beans.  Mix together with salt and pepper to taste.

When you’re ready, heat olive oil up in pan and brown meatballs on all sides until cooked through.  Cook pasta, strain, and add to pan with meatballs.  Add sauce and fresh basil.  Stir, serve, and enjoy!


I Love a Picnic

I have picnic fever this week.  I know the old adage is to “starve a fever, feed a cold”, but I think this fever needs to be fed.  In fact, later this afternoon Ava and I will be heading over to Grand Ferry Park with an Almond Crusted Chicken Sandwich w/ Avocado Mayo and some Bean and Potato Picnic Salad.


To make the sandwich … After coating chicken breasts with egg yolk, dip into a mixture of panko bread crumbs and crushed almonds.  Place into a hot skillet that has been drizzled with olive oil and cook on each side for about 7-10 minutes.  While it’s cooking, mash up half an avocado into 2 tbs of mayonnaise and a squirt of lemon juice.  Place chicken on croissant and add sliced red onion, fresh basil leaves, sliced avocado and the avocado mayo.  YUM.

To make the salad … Cut 4-6 red potatoes into bite sized chunks and boil for about 10 minutes [until tender].  Strain potatoes and place into bowl of ice water [to stop the cooking and help potatoes hold their shape] for about 30 seconds.  Remove potatoes and place on paper towels to absorb excess water and then put them in your salad bowl.  While potatoes are boiling, snap off the ends of some fresh greens beans and boil for about four minutes, then place them into ice water and leave them sit for a few [this will keep the color and texture crisp] before drying and adding to salad bowl.  Rinse and strain can of white beans and add to bowl.  Now, chop up some red onion or scallions, fresh flat leaf parsley and/or cilantro and toss that in with 1 tbs of garlic paste [optional].  Stir in 2-3 tbs of mayo, a squirt of dijon mustard, some lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  OR just drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  This salad can be served warm or cold!

Whether you are planning a picnic or not, these recipes are perfect for a warm summer’s day…

Chicken, Brie, & Pear Sandwich w/ Balsamic Onions

Click on Image for Recipe from Greedy Gourmet


Spinach & Strawberry Salad w/ Walnuts & Goat Cheese

Click on Image for Recipe from The Cosmic Cowgirl


Maple Snickerdoodles

Click on Image for Recipe from Little Spoon Eats



What Can I Make for Dinner?

Now that I have a seventh month old crawling around the house dinners don’t just have to be delicious, they also need to be fast and easy.  I try to get most of my prep work finished during Ava’s afternoon nap.  [Yesterday, for example, I chopped up tomatoes, garlic, basil, cilantro, and scallions for a salsa to pile onto our tacos later that night.]  Several times a week I find myself staring into the refrigerator trying to figure out what I can make out of what we have left.  Sometimes it can be a challenge, but it’s also a great way to come up with new and interesting recipes.  Here are four things that help me in my quest to put tasty, healthy, and quick dinners on the table:

1.  Fresh Produce. Having fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits on hand is one of the simplest ways to add flavor to your dishes.  Nothing beats the taste of straight from nature goodness.

2.  The Freezer. Sometimes I make a little extra just so I can freeze leftovers to use when I am really in a pinch.  I also freeze sauces, soups, and varieties of chopped up veggies so I always have what I need.

3.  Pantry Staples. There are certain things I always need to have in my pantry … vegetable stock, black beans, white beans, green chilies, tortilla shells, panko bread crumbs, dried herbs and a variety of spices, olive oil, vinegar, and brown rice.  Each person needs different staples … think about what you use most often and make sure it’s always stocked.  The last thing you need is to go for one of your ‘Old Faithful’ recipes only to find you are out of one of the key ingredients.

4.  Inspiration. Seeing food, reading about food, and of course smelling and tasting it … but when I can’t get to the market or need a little nudge in the right direction, there are a few sites I go where I know something will inspire me.  One of those sites is Smitten Kitchen.  The images are mouthwatering, the recipes are inventive, and the writing is entertaining.  And you don’t just get a photo of the finished product … you get to see the whole cooking process [love that!].  Visit the site for these recipes and more!

Romaine Pesto & Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes

Click on image for recipe


Blueberry Crumb Bars

Click on image for recipe


cooking life

What Can You Eat if You Can’t Eat Wheat?

Today’s topic was inspired by a family friend who just found out that she has to go on a wheat free diet [much to her dismay].  I thought about all of the foods I eat each week that contain wheat and understood her frustration.  Angie, this post is for you.

Many people confuse a wheat free diet with gluten free. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, but not in grains like corn, wild rice, and buckwheat [to name a few].  Wheat free products can contain gluten and gluten free products can contain wheat and figuring what you can eat and what you cannot can be tricky.  Wheat starch [with the gluten removed] is used in some products and some makers of gluten free goods use wheat in their manufacturing facilities.  Wheat, gluten, wheat, gluten AAARRRHHH… stay with me, you can do this!  Be sure to read your labels carefully and do your research.

While wheat is most commonly found in foods such as bread and pasta as well as some soups and sauces that contain wheat flour, there are alternatives.  Here is a Wheat Free Pizza Crust Recipe using rice and tapioca flour from WheatFree.org [they have tons of info and recipes on their site!].

Click on image for recipe


Not a cook?  No worries.  I found this great site, aptly named The Really Great Food Company,  to order Gluten, Wheat, Soy, and Casein Free doughs, mixes, condiments, pastas, etc. online [and the prices are reasonable too!].


Another great site for recipes is Healthy Green Kitchen.  Just search “wheat free” on their site and loads of delicious goodies, like these Wheat Free Dark Chocolate Cupcakes pop up!

Click image for recipe


And there are plenty of helpful Wheat Free Cookbooks out there, like this one by Carol Fenster, Ph.D. [available at Amazon.com]

Click image for more details


So if your doctor or body tells you it’s time to stop eating wheat, don’t despair.  It will take some getting used to and you will probably find it difficult to dine out, but there are plenty of great resources out there to guide you in the right direction.  The best news?  The pizzas, pastas, breads, and sweets you thought were gone forever are still on the menu!

cooking creativity

Too Pretty To Eat … Almost

This post is all about food that looks so good you can taste it.  My mouth is watering already.

Have It Sweet Confections is a green business in California, run by a husband [French trained pastry chef] and wife team that donates 15-25% of their monthly profits to Kiva and they buy a tree from Plant a Billion Trees for every $20 spent in their store.  As if these confections themselves were not enough to die for.  Love them!



And one of my favorite sites for beautiful food is TasteSpotting, a “visual potluck” where you can register and submit delicious things like these…

Mango, Red Pepper, & Cilantro Salad

Click on picture for recipemangosalsa

Crunchy Brown Rice Salad w/ Dill

Click on picture for recipebrownricesalad

And don’t miss out on SEASALTWITHFOOD, one of my favorite foodie blogs.  The photos are beautiful and the recipes are a collection of tastes from all over the world.  YUM.

Popcorn Shrimps

Click on picture for recipepopcornshrimp

Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

Click on picture for recipe



It’s Wednesday and “I’m Hungry”

I love cooking, but I’m not very good at sticking to a recipe.  I like to just look in the fridge, see what I have on hand and come up with something [hopefully] delicious.  I don’t have time for elaborate dinners or ingredient heavy dishes, so I try to keep meals healthy, flavorful, and most importantly simple.  Today’s recipe is for a refreshing Green Apple Salsa that can be used several different ways.

original recipe

GREEN APPLE SALSA – recipe by Shannon Young
[serves 3-4ppl]
1 green apple
1/2 large red onion
1 cucumber
Handful of fresh chopped cilantro
[salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste]

Dice or lightly food process [you want it to be slightly chunky] ingredients and serve on pita or tortilla chips!


Toss a few spoonfuls back into the processor for a couple more pulses, then mix with a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise for a crisp and tangy sandwich accompaniment!


Mix a few spoonfuls of the salsa into your ground beef, chicken, or turkey [I made it with my turkey burgers last night and it was delicious] to give your burger some flair!


Add about 1 cup of plain yogurt and liquefy for a great springtime chilled soup!  Chop up some fresh dill or mint and toss that in too if you have it handy!

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  Check back every Wednesday for more cooking related features!  Have an original recipe you think my readers or I will like?  Email me!  Bon Apetit!

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