Monday, August 25, 2008

What's for Dinner?

Laura recently requested some quick and easy dinner ideas for toddlers. (Well, she didn't specify "quick and easy" but with twin toddlers I'm assuming that would be best). J is a really picky eater, so I'm constantly struggling to find things he will eat that us adults won't get sick of. He's one of those little kids that doesn't like all of the typical little kids things. Macaroni and cheese? Nope. Pizza? No. (The sausage on the pizza? Sure, but the pizza itself...not so much.) Strawberries? Apples? Bananas? No, no, and not a chance. Bread? Don't make me laugh.

But we do have a few household favorites that are reasonably nutritious, fairly quick to prepare (30 min. or less), and make good leftovers.

Turkey and Bean Burritos
Prep time: 20 min.

2-3 tbsp oil
2 cans refried beans or one giant can - I like Rosarita Vegetarian Fat Free
1/2 large onion, diced
1lb ground turkey (we're ground turkey people but obviously ground beef would work)
1/3 packet Taco Seasoning (better than burrito seasoning, it's not as salty)
Maybe 3/4 cup chunky salsa (depends on how "soupy" you like your beans)
Tortillas or wraps
Shredded cheddar and/or Monterey Jack cheese
1 tomato, diced
Shredded lettuce

1. This is a "one-skillet" meal. Heat the oil on medium-high heat and cook the onions until translucent.
2. Add the ground turkey/beef and brown thoroughly.
3. Mix in the taco seasoning.
4. Add the beans and the salsa. Turn heat down to low-medium and cover.
5. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until beans are cooked through, stirring occasionally.
6. Serve rolled up in a tortillas with cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. Or, smother with green chile sauce and put cheese/tomatoes/lettuce on top. J won't eat tortillas but he'll eat his "beetos" in a bowl with cheese on them like chili.

Chicken/Sausage/Rice Soup
Prep/Cook Time: About 30 minutes

1lb boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs, whatever's on sale), cut into small pieces
1/2 lb. sausage of your choice (other than breakfast sausage) cut into 1/2" pieces
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
1 large box (32 oz.) of low-sodium chicken broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup
4 cups cooked white or brown rice
garlic powder
poultry seasoning

Directions (this is another one-pot recipe):
1. Start the rice cooking first before other steps. (ok 2 pots if you count the rice)
2. Brown the chicken in the bottom of a large soup pot in a small amount of oil. Add the sausage and cook through. Do not drain. Season the meat with garlic powder, poultry seasoning, and/or whatever you like (cajun spice works well if your kid will eat spicy food.)
3. Whisk the cream of chicken soup into the chicken broth in a bowl and add to the meat. If you like a creamier soup use less broth (2/3 box).
4. Add the bag of frozen veggies. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20 minutes.
5. When rice is done, add the cooked rice to the soup.
6. Serve with crusty bread.

This is one of those recipes that actually tastes even better the next day and microwaves well.

White Lasagna
(This one is my "specialty." It's probably really fattening, but once you go white, you'll never want regular lasagna again. It also takes a little more time to prepare (45 min.) so it's a Sunday or potluck dish. This recipe makes a lot.)


1 1/2 - 2lb. boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
One package "ready to bake" lasagna noodles
3 jars alfredo sauce of your choice
8oz package of sliced mushrooms (or 16oz if you really like mushrooms)
1 bag baby spinach
16oz shredded mozarella or "Italian blend" cheese.
Small package of shredded parmesan cheese.
Italian seasoning blend

1. Preheat oven according to directions on lasagna package, usually around 400F.
2. Season chicken with Italian spices and grill or sautee cooked through (I use a Foreman grill.) Cube cooked chicken or shred with a fork.
3. Start cooking all 3 jars of alfredo sauce on medium-low heat.
4. Add chicken and mushrooms to sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes (until mushrooms soften up).
5. Coat the bottom of a large lasagna dish with nonstick spray. Start layering the lasagna as follows (note that lasagna noodles are "oven-ready" so they don't have to be cooked ahead of time.):
  • Lasagna -- make sure the noodles aren't touching each other or the sides of the dish.
  • Alfredo sauce mixture -- I use a ladle to put a spoonful on each lasagna noodle and make sure to cover each noodle completely.
  • A couple handfuls of fresh spinach
  • Shredded cheese
6. Continue layering until all noodles are used (usually 4 layers). On the last layer add the shredded Parmesan to the top. Sometimes I will put a layer of steamed or canned asparagus on the top and put the Parmesan on top of that.
7. Cover with foil and bake according to lasagna noodle instructions. On the last 10 minutes uncover so the cheese can brown a bit.
8. Stuff your face.
9. Gain 10 pounds.


Julie said...

Yum, I am hungry now. Your recipes sound great. Lana too is not into typical "kid food". Her fave thing is tofu, go figure.

-Bridget said...

I'll be trying your lasagna. I tried a crockpot lasagna from another site last night. Bleh, wouldn't recommend that approach.