Thursday, October 22, 2009

15under15 PART I

The other night, a fellow playgroup momma asked how I cook dinner with the Henster at my feet. Sadly, I had to tell her that most of my "real" cooking happens after he goes to sleep. Right now, our schedule doesn't allow us to eat dinner together as a family. H is hungry at 5:15. Mark isn't home until 6:30 or later. So, I prepare dinner for H at 5ish. Daddy comes home and then I start on Dinner II. Someday our timing will work out... and so I ask,
"What WILL I be able to accomplish in the kitchen with a hungry, grouchy toddler grabbing at my apron strings???"
Reports from the frontline (moms with toddlers a few months older than H) are not good... Tantrums, diaper bombs, burned roux. Just terrible!!
I vow that I will not go into battle unprepared! (Where the heck did this war metaphor come from??)
Behold, my...

Fifteen kiddie-and-foodie-friendly meals that can be prepared in under fifteen minutes, without sacrificing flavor or flair!
I've divided the list into five parts, with three menus each.
Modifications for toddlers and kids are at the end of every recipe. 
 Part I
~Chicken Scallopini with Brown Butter Caper Sauce, Angel Hair Pasta, Lite Caesar Salad
~Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus, Buffalo Mozz and Tomato Salad
~Curried Chicken Salad Wraps with Chana Masala

Chicken Scallopini with Brown Butter Caper Sauce
1 pkg chicken, thin sliced, milanesa style (available at HEB) This dish can also be made with pork or veal cutlets.
kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1/2 c chicken stock or broth
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Heat oil in large skillet over HI heat. Sprinkle both sides of chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. Cook chicken, turning once, 2-3 minutes per side. (If pan does not fit all pieces, cook in two batches.) Transfer cutlets to a plate. Add butter to skillet over MED heat. Stir and cook until butter is browned, 1-2 minutes. Add stock and scrape browned bits from bottom of pan. Add capers and lemon juice. Pour sauce over chicken. Serve with angel hair pasta (very quick cooking!) and Fresh Express's Lite Caesar Salad Kit.
Kiddie Mod: Cut chicken and pasta into small pieces to serve. Let toddler try dipping lettuce bits into dressing. Caution: Croutons from salad mix are a choking hazard.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus
1 pkg refrigerated fettuccine, such as Buittoni
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp jarred garlic, or 1 minced garlic clove
1/2 stick butter
kosher salt and black pepper
1/3 cup parmesan-reggiano
Cook fettuccine AND asparagus in the same pot, according to pasta package directions, adding salt to water. When pasta and asparagus are cooked, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then quickly drain pasta. While pasta is cooking, bring cream, garlic, and butter to a simmer in a large skillet, over medium-low heat. Add a sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper. Add pasta/asparagus mixture, reserved water, and cheese to sauce. Toss. Serve with sliced buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and evoo, and sprinkled with kosher salt.
Kiddie Mod: Cut pasta and asparagus into small pieces. Balsamic vinegar may be too strong when drizzled, so put a tiny drop on child's plate or tray for dipping. He might find a new favorite flavor.

Curried Chicken Salad Wraps and Chana Masala
1 pkg chicken, thin sliced, milanesa style (HEB sells this) OR 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 cup miso dressing (in refrigerated dressing section), or mayonnaise
1 small box raisins
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
kosher salt
1 head iceberg lettuce
Cook chicken cutlets. (Options: 1)Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. 2) Poach in boiling water until cooked through 10 mins. 3)Saute in skillet with 2 tbsp olive oil (10-15 minutes)
Allow to cool, then shred. In large bowl, combine dressing and curry powder. Add in chicken, raisins, carrots, and poppy seeds. Stir until dressing coats chicken and ingredients are evenly combined. Add salt to taste. Separate whole leaves of lettuce from head, wash carefully. Serve salad in lettuce cups with a side of warm, fragrant chana masala.

For Chana Masala (My version of a favorite Indian veggie dish)
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
1 tsp cinnamon
kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer medium low 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. 
Kiddie Mod: This menu is perfect for kiddos who can chew... but you may want to remove raisins and carrot strands for the youngest set. Garbanzo beans can be slightly mashed for younger tots.

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