Wow, She Likes Sautéed Kale

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Our picky eater finally tries sautéed kale!

Mimi's Magic Sautéed Kale

Mimi’s Magic Sautéed Kale

It starts as a typical picky eater night at the table. She surveys her plate, eats her bread, nibbles her carrot, drinks some water and asks for more bread.

“Sure, after you eat some of what’s on your plate.”

“But I don’t like it.”

A roasted chicken drumstick (chicken nuggets are sometimes acceptable, but this chicken on a stick, not so trusted), sautéed kale, carrots and bits of baked potato lay in their separate compartments on her pink plastic plate. Not exactly dinner heaven for this gal.

Now, technically, there’s no excuse for feeding a four year-old. I mean, holding her fork, spearing each bite, bringing it to her mouth. I used to cringe when I saw parents do this for a child so obviously capable of feeding themselves.  Understand, though, DAYS passed without the child eating anything green.  So, when she asks, “Will you please feed me, Mimi?,” I cave.

Her mother working evening shift, I seize the opportunity to work my magic. The magic never works as well when Mommy’s here. I suspect she doesn’t want her mother knowing she will eat green things. All Picky Eater usually needs to say is “I’m full, Mommy,” and Mommy clears the table. She even gives her a snack later–instead of sticking to her veggie-guns.

Okay, so it's fruit. You get the idea.

Okay, so it’s fruit. You get the idea.

Mimi, well, is a magic veggie-gun slinger, with master skills.

“Okay,” I say, “I want to sit close to you, anyway!”

Scooting our chairs close together, I slide in and enjoy the hug she offers. She loves being close. I sweetly (yet firmly) declare she will be trying at least a taste from each compartment. She has a choice which one first. To my surprise, she chooses kale!

Wielding my good magic wand (which, mysteriously, looks just like her pink Minnie Mouse fork), I spear a little piece of the superfood and bring it to her mouth. It opens! Ahhh, Mimi magic is on tonight.

To my delight, she likes it! She asks for more! She eats all the kale on her plate, and asks for more. She even accepts a bite of kale on top of a piece of chicken–six, maybe seven times–to get the chicken down.

I am beside myself with joy. Yeah, I know, I probably care too much about getting vegetables into this little princess. In my celebration, I decide: This one is definitely a blog recipe.

I dub thee, appropriately:

Mimi’s Magic Sautéed Kale

1 large bunch fresh chopped kale, spines removed

2 T olive oil

1 T Parmesan bread dip seasoning*

1/2 lemon

salt, to taste

Directions:

In large skillet, heat oil. Add bread dip seasoning and stir, infusing the oil with this marvelous flavor.

Did I mention that I love this stuff?

Did I mention that I love this stuff?

*(I LOVE this stuff. If anyone tries to tell me there’s something unhealthy about this stuff, I swear I will put my fingers in my ears, sing aloud and, if they persist, shout, “I can’t hear you!,” repeatedly, until they go away.)

Add kale and sauté over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 – 10 minutes, until wilted and soft.

Squeeze lemon juice over kale, stir and cook another minute.

Serves up to four.

Enjoy!

For another sort of fare, visit me at:

http://joantwarren.com

Photo credits:

Kale and Parmesan bread dip seasoning: me.

Veggie-gun slinger and Magic wand: depositphotos.com

 

Disclaimer:

The magic described herein is child-like, fun magic, in no way intended to be associated with evil, witchery, sorcery or green glowy scary stuff! ;-)

Pumpkin Cupcake-Muffins Out-Riddle Grumpy Old Troll

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As a baby, she devoured every food we offered, but as soon as she got a taste of sweet and salty, it was all over. Now she governs passage through those lips like Dora’s Grumpy Old Troll.

“If you want to cross my bridge, you have to solve my riddle.

In her case, though, there are three. Three riddles (challenges, that is) to solve, and I get over the bridge.

We’ll never know if it tastes good to her until we get past the troll.

One day I discovered she likes pumpkin muffins (I lied a little and called them cupcakes). Three mini “cupcakes” later, she asked for more. My OT brain started churning.

“Hmmm. . . pumpkin is a pretty healthy ingredient, and there are plenty of spices in there she likes, too. The color is forgiving, too. I bet I could hide a few veggies in there without her noticing.”

Food chaining is a practice I use regularly in my work as a pediatric occupational therapist. Now I also use my skills to help nourish my granddaughter. She’s a picky eater with mild hypo-sensitivity and a higher need for oral input than average. Mostly, though, she’s just a sweet and salty nut.

Every picky eater has their own, unique set of riddles. Here are her three riddles (challenges):

First, how does this mystery food sound?  Cupcake, not muffin. Yummy, not good for you.

Second, how does it smell? Cinnamon passes. Sweet passes.

Third, how does it look? Cake texture passes, with pumpkin color.

Equipped with a great idea, I came up with this:

Start with the already-accepted Quick Pumpkin Bread Mix

This pic nabbed from Walmart website below

This pic nabbed from Walmart website

(nutrition facts here: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Pillsbury-Pumpkin-Quick-Bread-Muffin-Mix-14-Oz/10308265)

Instead of putting the eggs, milk and oil in a bowl, though, put them in a blender with:

1/2 can pumpkin (not the large can, silly)

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, or 1/4 cup spinach purée, if you’re into making purée for your Deceptively Delicious recipes)

1/4 to 1/2 cup finely grated carrots (or half of that, if purée)

1/2 cup added sugar (yes, I know, but I have to start somewhere and gradually decrease to healthy). At least I use organic, raw sugar.

1/2 to 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I just threw some in there, sorry).

Blend. Now you will see it is green. Green does not satisfy the Troll’s requirements. I added red food coloring. I know, not so great, but we can work on color chaining too. Gradually.

Now, turn this into the bowl with the cake mix to blend with a spoon until the flour mixture is wet.

Spray your mini muffin tins or use liners. I usually use liners, they come with princesses or Dora, whatever pleases your Grumpy Old Troll. It makes them more believable as cupcakes.

Bake as directed, but shorten the time (about half) for mini muffins. Check with a toothpick–they will be heavier than regular muffins, but the toothpick will still come out pretty clean when they’re ready.

Now, the pièce de résistance, pour some confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and place it RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER! She loves that stuff, loves white powdered donut holes, so I took a muffin (Pumpkin Muffin, I accidentally said. Drat! Almost foiled it all! I changed it quick, “Pumpkin Muffin-CUPCAKE! Take the Pumpkin Muffin-Cupcake, and dip it in the white powder, look! It looks just like a donut!”

The result:

"You solved my riddle. Now you can cross over my bridge!"

“You solved my riddle. Now you can cross over my bridge!”

Yes.

Related Links:

My Pinterest page (FUNctional Kids), where I post finds for Problem and Picky Eaters:

http://www.pinterest.com/functionalkids/

WordPress weekly writing challenge:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/category/writing-challenges/

 

For a different sort of fare, visit my other blog at http://joantwarren.com

Super Kale Salad – You’ve Gotta Try it to Know if You Like it

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“One of these days, I’m going to teach you how to cook,” I offered, as playtime wound down and I begged off to go start dinner.

“Okay, Mimi, what can I do?” my four-year-old granddaughter quickly returned.

As she helped wash the kale, she surprised me as she spontaneously put a piece in her mouth to taste it. It didn’t make it past her palette, but I was impressed that she tried it. She’s a picky eater. Usually it takes rewards (AKA bribes), withholding her favored foods (AKA threats), and other such crazy antics to get her to try something new.

“Don’t put it back in the bowl if you don’t like it, put it in that side of the sink.” She promptly took me up on the suggestion and spit it into the sink. Following her lead, I tried a piece, too, straight from the colander.

(Ever done that?)

Together, we agreed kale tastes pretty nasty by itself.

“Well, it will taste much better once we get the dressing on it,” I reassured her, knowing full well she didn’t believe me.

She watched as I chopped it finely, asking “What else can I do, Mimi?”

“You can help me squeeze the lemons to make the dressing!”

She remembered squeezing lemons for lemonade last summer. What a memory, I marveled. I wondered if neural pruning would snip that memory as she passes through this critical phase of brain development.

“Be careful, now, hold it down so it doesn’t squirt in your eye.”

All proceeded nicely with this process until she dropped the lemon into the juice, and, wouldn’t you know it?  A drop of lemon juice splashed right in her eye. 

Several blood-curdling screams later, as we washed her eye and gave her a towel, she ran upstairs to change, apparently more mortified that her pirate outfit got wet than that her eye suffered a shockIng sting.

Assured she was fine, I peeled and diced the garlic, crushed it with salt using the end of tongs (the pestle is missing from our mortar and pestle), added the oil and lemon juice and tossed it into the diced kale.

Adjusting for taste with a few dashes of bread dip seasoning made for a simple but powerful transformation. I could have added more to this simple salad, but for tonight, it was enough.

Hubby reminded me at dinner that he likes my kale salad better than any we’ve had in restaurants. Hmmm, I guess I should post it on my recipe blog, then, thought I. It was a bit too late for a lovely photo, as we had almost devoured it by then. Here’s what was left:image

Unfortunately, as anticipated, granddaughter wouldn’t try it again, so she didn’t get to experience the transformation from Yucky Kale to Super Kale salad. Instead we heard the usual, “I don’t like that!,” and it was a little more difficult for me to try persuading her with the old “You don’t know if you like it unless you try it” response.

Kale really is a super food; you just have to find ways to bring out it’s best side so it gets past your inner picky eater. Here’s the recipe, in case you need it spelled out. Experiment with additives, changes, to suit your taste:

a bunch of dark green leafy kale (remove spines, dice, enough to fill a large salad bowl, there’s some shrinkage when dressing absorbs)

2 lemons (juice of)

4 cloves garlic

1 -2 tsp salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

bread dip seasoning

Directions:

crush garlic with salt

add oil and lemon, stirring into the crushed garlic and salt blend

pour over kale, toss

season to taste with bread dip seasoning (a few shakes)

toss again and set aside

flavors improve as salad rests in dressing while dinner cooks

toss again just before serving

Enjoy!

If you would like to read more on the amazing qualities of kale, here you go:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/06/kale-benefits.aspx

For a different sort of fare, see:

joantwarren.com

Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Rib Chops in Cabernet Demi Glace

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Here’s one from Christmas 2013 that I have been meaning to post. I apologize for lack of photo, next time I make them I’ll add one!

This past Christmas, my sweetheart and I found ourselves having Christmas dinner alone. Did we feel lonely? Not particularly! We’ve been blessed with so many great family dinners, we chose instead to spend the evening enjoying each other’s company over a quiet dinner. This meal was enhanced by enjoying lamb rib chops that were the best we’d ever had. The amazing thing about them was that I made them, recipe and all! We both decided this is our new holiday specialty. Family, be prepared, you will taste them at some point in the future!

These are reminiscent of Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Chops in Cabernet Demi Glace that we had once at a Stonewood’s Restaurant, but could not find a recipe for, and they don’t seem to be on the menu anymore. They often serve their ribs with mint jelly, of which we are not big fans.

Ingredients:

2.25 – 2.5 lb lamb ribs, meaty (6 ribs usually)

2 T minced garlic

2T fresh or 1 T dried rosemary

1/2 c olive oil

1/2 c cabernet sauvignon

1 T coarse sea salt

1/2 T (yes, tablespoon) coarse ground pepper

1/2 t dried thyme

2 T butter or margarine

1 c chicken or beef broth

1/4 c Half and Half

dash dried mint

Preparation:

Crush garlic and rosemary together with salt, pepper and thyme (mortar and pestle style)

mortar and pestle

-Add oil to make a paste

Cut ribs apart and trim extra fat (leave some for good flavor and texture)

Smother/rub the garlic/oil mixture onto chops, mainly on meat areas

Set aside to come to room temperature, about 45 minutes to an hour

Heat a small amount of oil to medium high in large skillet, add chops and cook about 5 minutes each side, turning to brown evenly and check the temperature

At 125 degrees F, remove chop to warm spot

Discard all but about 2 T oil mixture from pan

Add wine to the pan and cook, scraping pan, to reduce by one half

Add broth, dash of mint, and reduce by one half again (5-10 minutes)

Incorporate butter, then Half & Half, adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve rib chops with about 1 T Demi Glace atop each one

These are great with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Close enough to heaven for us. Enjoy!

For another sort of fare, visit my other blog at

joantwarren.com

Quickie Caribbean Chicken Soup

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A Surprisingly Delicious Soup Created from Memories of Pollo Tropical’s Caribbean Chicken Soup
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Hubby has a cold and really wanted a hearty chicken soup for dinner. It was late, we didn’t feel like driving 30 miles to Pollo Tropical for his favorite Caribbean Chicken Soup, so I searched the web for a recipe for same. Finding nothing, I decided to improvise. A quick trip to Publix and in about an hour we had a tasty soup, plenty for four very large bowls. The result: one happy hubby, one blogging wife, and now, you too, have the option to experience the pleasure!
Ingredients:
1 Publix rotisserie chicken, Mojo flavor
1 small calabaza squash
1 green plantain, on the ripe side

Happy Plantain, about this ripe!

Happy Plantain, about this ripe!

1 medium sweet potato
1 small package frozen yuca
1 cup frozen sweet baby peas
1 cup frozen sweet and white corn
1/2 cup diced onions
1-2 tablespoons garlic (minced, fresh or jar)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 packets Badia Sazo’n Tropical (con culantro y achiote, with annatto and coriander)

This stuff

This stuff

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cartons chicken stock (7.6 oz each, College Inn, Bold Stock, Rotisserie Chicken flavor)
Juice of 1/2 lime and 1/2 orange or tangerine
2-4 cups of water
Directions:
Cut the calabaza squash into several large pieces and scoop out seeds and strings. Place skin side up on plate and microwave 5-8 minutes (this step makes it a lot easier to skin and cube)
Meanwhile, saute’ onions and garlic in oil in a large soup pot, until golden brown
Peel and cube plantain and sweet potato
Add these to the onion to saute’ briefly, stirring occasionally to prevent burning
Add the broth, frozen yuca, peas, corn and seasonings and bring to boil
Cut up the chicken breasts and leg meat, discarding skin (or, if you can’t resist, have a taste of the skin before you discard it)
Save the wings for tomorrow’s lunch
Add chicken pieces to the boiling mixture
Keep soup at a lightly rolling boil, stirring occasionally.
Remove the calabaza from microwave and using a knife and fork, carefully (it’s hot!) cut the flesh away from the skin, cubing it as you go and slipping the cubes into the soup
Remove the large chunks of yuca from the soup with a slotted spoon
With a fork and knife, slice these lengthwise into quarters, remove the center spine, then cube the yuca, and return it to the soup (you may not need all the yuca, you decide)
Let cook until the yuca cooks all the way through, tasting and adjusting seasonings/water amount as you wait, adding water as needed to keep enough fluid to stay soup instead of a stew
Ladle into soup bowls and serve with French or Cuban bread slices. Cures what ails ya.

For a different kind of fare, visit my other blog at

joantwarren.com

Happy Accident: Chicken Calamatacata

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Sometimes my pantry gets stuck in a time warp. I’ll pull something out thinking I just bought it last month, or so, and, bam, it happens again: “Best if used by July 2012.” Yes, it’s nearly 2014.

More than once  (okay, so many times he doesn’t believe me any more when I say, yes, we have all we need in the pantry), my sweet and oh-so-patient honey has rushed to the store for something after asking me to check an expiration date, while I cook.

I started making Chicken Piccata tonight and realized too late that the jar of capers had expired. Their fuzzy white coats were my first hint the time warp had struck again. So, instead of asking hubby  to run to Publix (everything else was timed and ready), I took a chance. No, I didn’t serve the fuzzy capers, I took a chance and substituted sliced Calamata olives for the capers.

Wow, delicious! A happy accident, and a hit with all but the four-year-old picky eater!

Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Piccata turned Chicken Calamatacata
2 Boneless chicken breasts, butterflied or thin-sliced.
Salt and pepper
2 T butter or margarine
2T olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sliced Calamata olives

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, dredge in flour.
Heat to sizzling the butter and oil in large fry pan.
Pan-fry chicken breasts 3-5 minutes per side, browning them.
Remove them to dish.
Add lemon juice and broth, heat to boiling, scraping any brown from pan into the sauce. Cook until reduces by a third. Return chicken to pan, cook another 5 minutes.  Add olives and stir. Remove chicken to serving plate and pour sauce with olives over meat. Serve immediately.

We had them with sour cream and onion potatoes and broccoli, would be great with Calamata mashed potatoes too. I’ll share that recipe soon.

For a different kind of fare, visit my other blog at

joantwarren.com