Kid Food

I think every kid loves chicken nuggets and french fries, and I think most parents do too, if only for the fact that it’s quick and easy, and you know your kids will eat it! I’ve often just pulled chicken nuggets out of the freezer (only Bell and Evans brand), but this time I decided to make my own. I had a bunch of random stuff in the fridge… buttermilk, the last few Kennebec potatoes I bought from a local farmer, fennel, celery. A plan began to take shape… homemade chicken tenders, roasted potato wedges, and a fennel, celery, and apple salad (recipe from epicurious.com). The only thing I needed was a package of chicken tenders (Smart Chicken Organic), so I made a quick trip to the Teeter on my way back from carpool.

When we got home, I dumped the chicken tenders in a bowl with some buttermilk doctored up with smoked paprika, salt and pepper and left those to marinate for about a 1/2 hour. While the chicken was marinating I put together the salad, I have a fairly cheap mandoline that made quick work of the slicing. I sliced the potatoes into large wedges, tossed them with salt, pepper and olive oil and threw those onto a heated sheet pan and popped those in the oven to bake. And because every chicken nugget (or tender) needs something to take a dip in, I mixed up a quick honey-mustard dip. Equal parts mayonnaise and low fat Greek yogurt, a big squeeze of honey from the bottle, and a large spoonful of Dijon mustard. Wow, I almost ate it all right out of the bowl it was so tasty!

The kids loved the chicken tenders and the potatoes, especially when dipped in the honey-mustard sauce (which doctored up with a little olive oil and apple-cider vinegar reappeared as a salad dressing later in the week), but were less enthused about the salad. Fennel has a very assertive taste and I think that threw them off. The husband and I both loved the salad though… so I guess there was something on the plate for everyone!

 

 

 

And She’s Back!

Yes, it’s been a while, and quite a lot has happened since my homage to Pat and Martha. A few triathlons, a half marathon, and going back to work full time to name a few. But I’ve missed this little blog, and have often thought about picking it back up. It seems that there are just too many other time-sucks out there… Facebook (littered with my foodie pictures), Twitter (I tried gamely to participate, but just couldn’t love it), and Pinterest (God love the genius who invented that!). Despite all the change around here, one thing has definitely stayed the same and should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me: I still LOVE food. I love to think about it, I love to cook it, and I definitely love to eat it! As the name of my blog implies, I still try and keep the food as local (and organic) as possible.

As it’s winter, there’s not a ton of locally available produce (that my kids – all 3 of them – willingly eat) at the moment, but I still source all my eggs, poultry, pork, and beef through local farms. It’s easier than you think to get the majority of your food locally, and not only is good for you, it’s great for your local economy. Now that’s change we can ALL believe in! I believe checking out of the industrial food chain is the healthiest choice you can make for you and your family. In the past few years, we’ve had very little sickness around here – and haven’t made a single sick visit to the pediatrician in over a year. (knock wood…).

Ok, stepping off my soapbox… back to the food.I want my kids to love and appreciate good food as much as I do. I cook virtually every night and we’ll sit down to a family meal most nights, depending on the kids activities. My son, as evidenced by previous posts in this blog, is a pretty adventurous eater. My daughter, not so much. In an effort to try and get them both (but mostly Erin) more excited about food, I’ve taken to global travel on a nightly basis. If I’m a bit forward thinking, I’ll ask early in the day what country the kids want to visit. If I’m a bit behind the eight-ball, I just tell them what country we’re in, or let them guess once the plate hits the table. So, over the course of many, many meals we’ve visited quite a few interesting places: China, India, Jamaica, France, Mexico, and the good old USA. I’ve pulled in a few photos to document our dinner table travels.

Stir-fried noodles from China – this is one of Erin’s favorites! Loaded with bean sprouts, carrots, and cucumbers and just a hint of ground pork. Other visits to China include Fried Rice, and Stir Fried chicken with celery (WAY better than it sounds), and the always popular, if slightly more labor-intensive, Hainan Chicken (pictured 2nd). You can find the recipes I use here: Stir Fried noodlesStir fried chicken with celery,  Hainan Chicken

We took a visit to Greece through this Grilled Halibut with Fennel Tsatsiki (ok, it’s only the Tsatsiki that makes it Greek…) I served with some white rice and grilled vegetables. Grilled Halibut with Fennel Tsatsiki

India is a favorite of Josh’s. Our most recent visit had us eating Butter Chicken. I’m more fond of the Chicken Tikka Masala that I’ve made, but I can’t find the picture! However, this is one of the quickest, easiest, and tastiest ways to eat Indian! Indian Butter Chicken

Normally when we visit Mexico, it’s on Taco Friday, Josh’s favorite day of the week! But on occasion I’ll branch out from Tacos (no, I don’t use the McCormick seasoning packet), and try something else, like these Enchiladas. I think I used a recipe from Cooks Illustrated, but can’t recall. Besides, you have to pay to get most recipes off of their website. Boo. Hiss.

One of my favorite dishes from France, and a perfect winter meal… Daube de Boeuf aux Carottes.

That’s beef stew with carrots. And a whole lot of red wine! Your best bet when making this dish is to get a whole chuck roast, about 3-4lbs and cut it down yourself rather than using pre-cut stew meat. I like to serve it over mashed potatoes with a side of roasted broccoli. Beef stew with carrots and red wine

And finally, every once and again I keep it ‘local’ and cook something fundamentally American. One of the kids’ favorites is Chicken and Dumplings. Recently, and for the very first time, I fried chicken. I took a whole (locally raised) chicken and cut it into it’s various parts and fried it up. My house smelled like Kentucky Fried Chicken, but it was darn good. I also kept a fire extinguisher handy…
I don’t think I need to post a recipe. Take chicken parts, soak in buttermilk, coat with flour, fry.
One of my goals for 2012 is to try and keep this blog going. Not because I think so many people are just dying to hear about what I’m cooking and eating, but more so as an outlet for pretty much the only creative pursuits I can credit myself with: Cooking and writing. And perhaps I’ll manage to think about something other than food and write about some other topics on this blog. But in the meantime, if anyone has some suggestions for other countries I can visit with my family at the dinner table, please suggest away!

The Humble Hamburger

Summer vacation has taken its toll. We bought a new car at the end of April, and it already has 6,000 miles on it. I’ve driven from Charlotte to Hilton Head to Asheville and back again. And then made a quick side trip down to South Florida. Needless to say I’m tired of driving. And I’m even more tired of eating on the road. So, now that I’m finally back home and have picked up my first box (really, boxes) of beautiful produce from the Farmer’s Fresh Market, you can imagine my excitement at being able to finally start cooking again. Only, it turns out my husband wants hamburgers for dinner. What’s a girl to do? My poor dear husband has actually been worse off than I have been in the food department: He’s had to cook for himself. So hamburgers it is… but it’s hamburgers MY way!

One of the best food discoveries I’ve made recently was during a visit to my in-laws. My mother-in-law mentioned she had tasted a delicious dip at one of their neighborhood dinner parties. She showed me the recipe, and I was a bit incredulous. Could it really taste as good as she made it sound?? It could, and it did. Here’s the recipe:

Vidalia Onion Relish

  • 5 to 6 medium onions, finely chopped
  • – Use the food processor if you like a finer relish, chop by hand if you like it a bit chunkier
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp celery salt

Soak onions in water/vinegar/sugar for 2-4 hours in the refrigerator. Drain well for 45 minutes in a colander. Pat dry. Mix onions with mayonnaise and celery salt.

As I shoveled this dip into my mouth (using any available vessel… club crackers, cucumbers, a spoon) I marveled at how such simple ingredients could yield something so marvelously delicious. I figured this could elevate anything you put it on (or in)! I enjoyed this dip so much, I took a copy of the recipe and a bag of Vidalia onions with me to the mountains for my annual girls weekend trip.

On that long drive from Hilton Head to Asheville I was listening to the Martha Stewart Radio show “Everyday Food”. Would you believe the episode I was listening to was about CONDIMENTS! The host asked for people to call in to share their favorite condiment. And that’s exactly what I did. Julie from Charlotte was live on Martha Stewart radio sharing the recipe for Vidalia Onion Relish!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming… My favorite girls were a little doubtful that onions and mayonnaise would be something worth eating… but the indulged me yet again! And all weekend long, every time I turned around I saw someone shoveling onion dip into their mouth!! On hamburger night, we brought out what was left of the relish and put it on top of our burgers. Now THAT was delicious!

Fast forward to last night. I had half a bag of Vidalia onions left over from that trip, so I make the Vidalia onion relish. I knew it was good ON a hamburger, so if figured it would also be good IN the hamburger. I took my ground beef (grass fed, locally raised) and mixed in about a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, about 1/2 cup of the onion relish and some salt and pepper.

I added some cheese, another dollop of the relish and a slice of the juiciest tomato around! The Hamburger was humble no more.

IMG_5663