Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lasagna--Sandra age 11

Starting the layers. 

It looks ucky, but it is yummy. 

Final Product!
Sandra's Take:  It wasn't a lot of work.  You just had to pour a lot of stuff into the pan.  I made a salad without lettuce because the lettuce was rotten and gross.  It had cucumbers, lots of green onions and tomatoes.  I thought the lasagna was yummy.  I like lasagna more cheesy,  so I put a lot of cheese on top.  Look at my eyes.  I look weird.  We still have leftovers.  I'll make  more lasagna someday when we run out. 

Amy's Take:  I remember the first time I ever made lasagna--I was probably around Sandra's age, or a bit older.  The list of ingredients was daunting, and making three layers about did me in.  There was a huge stack of dirty dishes by the time I finished.  And my mom always made us clean up after ourselves when we cooked.  I've very seldom made lasagna, in large part because of those memories.  I thought I'd simplify things for Sandra.  We didn't use a recipe.  Here is how we did it in three easy steps--I think it did keep Sandra from being overwhelmed:

Ground beef--1 pound
Can of Hunt's spaghetti sauce
Ricotta cheese--one pound tub
Parmesan cheese--1/2 cup
Italian seasoning--1 tbsp
No-Boil Lasagna noodles--1 box
Shredded mozzarella cheese--about a pound

1.   Chop onion.  Saute onions for a few minutes and add chunks of ground beef.  Cook until brown.  Add spaghetti sauce.  Layer one is done.
2.     Mix a tub of ricotta cheese, however much cheese there is in the parmesan cheese can (there was about 1/2 cup there), one egg and some Italian seasoning. 
3.  Spread one cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 inch  pan.  Layer no-boil lasagna noodles on top, one thick.  Spread one cup of the cheese mixture on this, another cup of tomato sauce and then a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese on that.  Repeat making layers until you use up all of your ingredients (although you will have a few noodles leftover).  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until cheese is melty and slightly browned and the whole thing is bubbly. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chicken Nuggets, French Fries and Strawberry Fool--Smith age 4

All floured up and ready to bake.

Lots of potatoes

This is really hard work. 

Finished Product--Best dessert EVER!! 

Smith's Take:  I saw chicken nuggets and french fries in a book.  It was hard work.  I liked the chicken nuggets.  I LOVED my dessert.  That's all. 

Amy's Take:  Smith has a rather limited attention span and he has a line that he uses over and over to try and get out of unwanted tasks.  "I can't make my bed!  I AM TOO HUNGRY!"  "I can't pick up my toys!  I AM TOO HUNGRY!"  This week it was "I can't make dinner!  I AM TOO HUNGRY!"  Sometimes the world just doesn't work the way we'd like it to. 

Last year Smith stuck mostly with arranging fish sticks on a cookie sheet.  For his first dinner this year he picked chicken nuggets and french fries out of the cookbook.  And strawberry fool.  Strawberry fool is divine.  The recipe we used called for four cups of pureed strawberries, 3/4 cup of sour cream (we used light), whipped cream,  and 2 TABLESPOONS of sugar.  I gave Smith a taste, he shuddered, and we added more sugar, lots more.  This recipe has a better balance of sweetness.  It was a perfect summertime dessert.

And in case you wanted to know...this is how I make chicken nuggets:
I cut up chicken breasts in to chunks--maybe 5-8 chunks per breast.  I put flour into a paper or ziploc bag and add five or six chunks of chicken.  Then I shake them up until they are thoroughly coated in flour.  I put some oil in the bottom of a pan--maybe an 1/8 inch thick.  Then I roll the floured chicken pieces in the oil so that both the top and bottom have been dampened by the oil.  Repeat until I've used up all of the chicken chunks.  Then I sprinkle Lawry's Seasoning Salt over the chicken.  Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.  I like them a little crispy so I let them bake a little longer.  If you are Smith and like them less crispy you should take them out at 20.  This was kind of a messy process with Smith--we washed hands at least 14 times--and you can see in above pictures that he had to change his shirt before we ate dinner.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hot Dogs and Smoothies--Amelia age 8

Ready to blend.

The hardest part--poking the hotdogs with the fork. 

Microwaving.  Don't you wish you had this for dinner? 

Finished Product!!

Amelia's Take:  I do not want to write the blog.  Making dinner was enough.  

Amy's Take: School got done yesterday.  I pretty much can't stand kids with too much free time.  Why is it that they start fighting with each other as soon as they are supposed to RELAX??  So, I started summer vacation with a bang this morning--a list for each kid with enough stuff to keep them busy all day.  They cleaned house, rode bikes, jumped rope, started learning Spanish (At least Molly started learning Spanish--Sandra went to the website she was supposed to use and decided to learn Pirate instead), we went to the library, practiced piano and french horn and so forth.  It was really a nice, peaceful day. 

We checked out a pile of cook books from the library and out of all the amazing culinary wonders there--Amelia chose to make hot dogs for dinner.  And strawberry-peach-banana-spinach smoothies.  Do these two things cancel each other out?  Making dinner was so easy that she took most of her own pictures for the blog--hot dog in one hand, camera in the other. 

Other Views:  Sandra:  There were almost no dishes--very easy. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cranberry Muffins--Lucy age 2

Grating the Orange

Amy's Take:   I always start the school year raring to go.  Each  morning in late August and September my kids can choose between three different types of muffins that I have in the freezer, four different types of oatmeal and a pantry full of cold cereal--all of their favorites.  I make pancakes or waffles at least a few times a week.  By this time of year I've run our of oomph.  Last Friday my kids could choose between stale toastie-o's and a peanut butter taco (a flour tortilla spread with crunchy peanut butter) and whatever they chose, they were definitely going to have to get it themselves.
Today is the first morning of spring break, no one was in a hurry, so I made cranberry muffins.  I always buy lots of fresh cranberries after Christmas when they are cheap and put them in the freezer.  Lucy toddled in a few minutes later in her pirate pajamas and said the four scariest words currently in her vocabulary "I was to help you!"  So we made muffins.  She got to grate the oranges.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Life Lessons at the Iowa State Fair

I have spent the summer teaching my children how to garden and cook.  To see where their food comes from.  The Iowa State Fair is also trying to teach the same lessons.  We got to see two swine in labor.  And a baby ostrich. And a couch sized watermelon.  The highlight was Little Hands on the Farm.  We got to follow a winding sidewalk where the kids picked plastic vegetables out of buckets and plastic apples off of trees.  They were handed bags of corn and wool.  Then at the end they sorted all their goods into more buckets and were given some play money.  The play money bought real stuff!  Popsicles, muffins, a loaf of bread!  I think they wished that real life at our house were more like that.  Here they get to weed, sweating with the mosquitos, in order to eat zucchini.  I too have moments when I wish the zucchini would turn into a popsicle. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pesto Linguine with Chicken and Zucchini--Amelia age 7

Posing for a picture.

While the pasta boils over. 

And the chicken burns. 

It wasn't so green in real life.

Finished Product.  

Amelia's Take:  The sauce tasted kind of familiar.  Which was weird since it looked so strange.

Amy's Take:  Amelia wanted pasta tonight and found a box of linguini.  So, of course, I googled "linguini chicken zucchini"  and got Pesto Linguini with Chicken and Zucchini.  I decided that we should make it.  I had a few snags.  Mostly that I had linguini and chicken and zucchini and not much else.  So,I started with some homemade pesto (since we didn't have storebought) and we had fresh basil and olive oil and garlic, but I put in almonds instead of pinenuts (close enough, right?) and then got to the last ingredient--parmesan cheese.  We didn't have any.  I was going to throw in some Pepper Jack slices from the fridge, but it was moldy.  And what can you really use as a substitute for cheese?  Nothing .  I did add some salt. 
After that there was no use referring to the recipe anymore.  I cooked the chicken and deglazed the pan with some water and added that to my pesto that was still in the blender.  It was still lacking some so I put in a few ripe tomatoes too.  I blended that all up and poured it on top of the cooked chicken and zucchini.  It was actually great.  Really great. 

Other opinions:
Eric:  It was just fine. 

Zucchini Cookie Wars--Smith age 3 and Lucy age 2

Contestant #1 

Contestant #2

Amy's Take: School started this week. The kitchen was mine again. I made peach galette, peach cream pie and mock apple pie (made with zucchini, of course, and amazingly like apple pie) all in one day just to reclaim my territory. That was a bit much pie.We still have some left. 
Smith and Lucy are still home, of course, and haven't figured out that I have any territory that is off limits to them. So, they helped me out this week to try two zucchini cookie recipes. The first was Zucchini Cookies with Lemon Glaze. We didn't have a lemon so we used a lime. I  figured that the lime zest in the cookie dough kind of hid the green bits of zucchini.  I used the lime juice in the glaze and put in one drop of yellow and one drop of green food coloring.  They looked like froggy cookies.  Maybe we could put faces on them somehow?  The recipe made a couple dozen cookies and the kids ate them after school until they were gone.  That was because they were totally wonderfully delicious. 
The second cookies were Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries..  Smith was all excited to make cookies with me, ran into the kitchen and saw me grating more zucchini.  "Mom! No more zucchini muffins or zucchini cookies or zucchini bread!  This is wrong."  So, we didn't start out on the right track, really.  Plus we didn't have any chocolate chips since NO GROCERY SHOPPING MONTH is almost over.  Maybe they would have been WAY BETTER with chocolate chips.  But then everything is WAY BETTER with chocolate chips.  Everything is WAY BETTER with CAPITAL LETTERS too.  Just so you know.  Anyway, these cookies are still in the cookie jar.  That's how good they were.
Conclusion:  #1 is obviously the less healthy cookie.  But it is obviously worlds better than cookie #2.  Should cookies be healthy anyway?  That is a philosophical question for another day.