Monthly Archives: September 2008

Too Cool for My LUNCH BOX*

For any of us who have ever had to feed a child we know what a pain in the rear that can be. A lot of children are picky eaters and it can be difficult to cater to what they like and don’t, and also get them the nutrition the need. One of the biggest challenges we face is packing those lunch boxes for school.

There are many rules around what you are allowed to send to school now days due to allergy concerns. The biggest thing to look out for is peanut and seafood allergies. People with those allergies generally can be triggered by the smell so those need to be avoided for sure.

 

 So what do we put in there?

How about a ham and cheese sandwich. Sounds boring right. Not the way I make them. A ham and cheese is only boring if you make it that way. Try putting using smoked, maple, or honey ham. Also, try add in a slice of prosciutto, it’ll add an intense depth of flavor. As for the cheese, don’t just use a kraft singles cheese slice. While the commercials may say that your kids will love you for them, I didn’t like them as a kid so I don’t know who’s doing their research. Try using a swiss or provolone, or any cheese that will add a new flavor to the sandwich. This way your kid won’t be trying to trade it away.

 Now for the icing on the cake: Martha’s Apple Butter. Apple butter is much healthier then putting regular butter on a sandwich and it tastes delicious.

If all of this still wasn’t enough to create the perfect ham and cheese for your little one (or for yourself, it’s just that good) try making it look pretty. Who doesn’t love a nice presentation. Buy some jumbo cookie cutters and cut out the sandwich into a fun shape. That way if your kid hates crust then the crust is gone and they’ll have more fun eating something that looks like a dinosaur.

 

 

So what do you put in the lunches with that totally awesome ham and cheese? Check out these ideas brought to you courtesy of my domestic hero, Martha Stewart:

 

Frozen Juice Box – A frozen juice box is delicious way to keep your childs lunch cool. And also a pure fruit juice is packed with vitamins your child needs and every kid loves juice.

Fruit Kabob – Instead of just giving them fruit in a tupperware container dress it up a little. Take a regular fruit skewer and add strawberries, grapes, pineapple, and marshmellows; or just use whatever your kids faves are. Let them take part in picking them out and try new fruits with them. Also it’s a great way to get kids involved with cooking with you.

 Cereal Bracelets – For these you can use an unflavored dental floss or some clean thread. Get the kids to help you make these too. Get some Fruit Loops or Cheerios and string them onto the thread until it makes a bracelet. It’s a cute treat to add in the lunch box. Also since most cereals are being made in whole grains it’s not that bad for them either.

Pre-Peeled Orange – Most kids enjoy eating oranges but it can be hard for them to peel for themselves. To give them a head start slice off the tip of the top of the orange. Then score down the side of the orange in four places to create four equal segments. Then peel back the top of each segment a bit.

Crunch Caterpillar – A lot of kids have an aversion to anything green. But if it’s in the shape of a gross caterpillar we might have a shot. Peel a cucumber and then slice it into 1/2 inch slices. Then string the slices onto a plastic bendy straw. Then top it off with a cherry tomato as a plump head.

 

Hopefully at least some of these ideas make it easier to pack lunch for your child. The thing to remember are: 

 – have them experiment with tastes and textures at an early age

 – let them get involved in the cooking process with you

 – and sometimes when they say a food is gross and will make them puke, it just might

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Picky Eating – It’s Science

Kids should just eat what’s on the table, right? I mean, it only stands to reason picky kids will turn into picky adults if they’re indulged early on. Besides, there’s nothing to be scared of – they’re just vegetables.

That said, I don’t actually have any children so I will likely stand corrected on this issue.

It looks like there are a lot of tips and tricks out there to get kids to eat healthy and not kick up a fuss every time they’re presented with something healthy. And while some parents say their children will eat whatever is put in front of them, it looks like a lot have a nightly battle on their hands to get the veggies down.

According to Dr. Oz (you know, the guy from Oprah), children’s famous dislike of vegetables is actually a survival mechanism. The bitter taste found in some veggies triggers a biological response in the little guys that is meant to help them avoid poisonous substances. It appears parents are staging a battle against millions of years of evolution (via healthybpm.com ).

So, in order to trick biology and all the picky eaters at your table, The Food Network has listed a few tips to get your kid’s to eat better…

1.   Make Sure They’re Hungry
Filling up on snacks or drinks too close to mealtime can make those veggies look less enticing. So does knowing desert is right around the corner.  

2.   Allow Them to Help
Let them pick a healthy side dish from the store or better yet, put them to work cooking one. If the child is involved they may be more inclined to choke it down or try something new.

3.   Choice is Key
Have healthy options available. They’ll be happier because they’ve had the option of NOT eating brussel sprouts in return for picking out something more delicious. That said, limit unhealthy options as well.  Growing up the only ‘treats’ we ever had in the house were Flinstone vitamins. Needless to say, I’ve grown accustomed to eating my veggies.

4.   Be Sneaky
Hide veggies that are considered inedible by your child into soups, sauces, and pizzas. This trick still works on me. I hate mushrooms but will happily eat them if they’re too small to pick around. Jerry Seinfeld’s wife wrote a whole cookbook on how to sneak more veggies into your kid’s food 

5.   Be Patient
It looks like kids can be stubborn. It can take up to 20 times of trying a new food before they will accept it as a part of life. Ask for one bite and be happy with that. Too much pressure will make for unhappy dinners for everyone.

6.   Be Creative
Try different variations of the same food. Slice it, steam it, serve it raw, add a little dipping sauce for good measure. Apparently kid’s like small things. Try cutting it up into little pieces and see if that makes a difference.

7.   You Are a Role Model
If you’re complaining about brussel sprouts, chances are your kids aren’t going to be fooled into eating them either. So, take one for the team and eat yours with a smile on your face.

 

If all else fails and you want to gross out your kids on purpose, there’s also a cookbook for that. It’s full of recipes for completely edible foods prepared to look like absolutely disgusting items. After all your troubles I would not be surprised if it’s easier to get kids to eat ‘catlitter cake’ than steamed broccoli. Good luck folks. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cost Effective

What up Kiddies, another freakin’ Friday is upon us, who’s hungry?

In keeping with the weeks theme I have conjured up a plan to keep those wallets (and tummys) full. First off, don’t be stupid. Blowing money on ‘Fast Food’ a few days a week may keep you alive but its no recipe for success. You’re not gonna be too healthy, and you’re gonna be poorer for it. Lose-lose no doubt.

I actually have no plan………don’t be stupid is my advice to me………

The Dietitians of Canada do have a plan though and it’s laid out in 7 easy steps everyone should but no one will follow. These steps are:

1) Plan ahead – simple enough even for me. A weekly plan of meals is never a bad thing
2) Base your weekly menu on the Canada Food Guide – No explanation needed
3) When it comes to meat, buy only what you need – vegans rejoice!!! Step 3 unnecessary
4) Try using plant proteins – The Dietitians say less expensive proteins like peanut butter, lentils, split peas, or kidney beans are good alternatives to meat dishes
5) Choose convenience foods carefully – It’s saying “Watch that junk you eat!”
6) Buy in bulk – Who doesn’t want mustard till 2011?
7) Compare and Save – Watch those sales, cut those coupons.

Too lazy for all of that but like to surf the Net? Check out these websites that tout budget recipes for your penny pinching hungar pains.

http://www.recipezaar.com/cookbook.php?bookid=51062
Boasts 134 recipes that will save you $

http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Cooking-on-a-Budget/Detail.aspx
This place is truely Budget-Friendly

http://www.cookcheap.com/
Dated looking website but name says it all

http://www.foodnetwork.com/emeril-live/cooking-on-a-budget/index.html
Even Emeril has 6 easy recipes for the budding chef in you

Wow, I was actually getting ready to finish up here when I came across this last one.
http://www.momsbudget.com/freezercooking/index.html
Funny thing, I only clicked the link because the website is momsbudget.com and my Mom does freezer cook for me. Who doesn’t love Mom’s home cookin’? Especially when you can enjoy it in your own home, on your own couch….

You gotta have a plan. You need to not be lazy (I’ve lost you haven’t I). You need to check out what the Moms are cookin’! Most off all, be happy. If you’re broke but you’re full, I say, good for you…….

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Eating for Free

yes thats right – you can eat almost for free!

Since eating is an essential part of everyday life, and you have a limited budget to spend on groceries and paying bills. Have no fear, you can still get those nice big meals you used to get at home – but now for almost free!

Now you may be asking, “How can this be done?” Well it is done by the process of Dumpster Diving. It falls under the philosphy of “freegans“. From what I know, this concept is slowing catching on in Canada, but is huge in the United States. Where not only are student out dumpster diving, but also people with families, careers, etc.  too.

 What you do is go to the dumpster located behind your favorite grocery stores (Safeways), bakeries or your local supermarket and look through the bags of “garbage”. You may be surprised as to what you will find. Within these bags you will find fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products, but also boxed and canned goods. Majority of the items are usually in good condition, while you will also find ones that are not.

Once you have collected all your groceries for the week and bring them home – don’t forget to properly wash and inspect everything.

Now when Oprah starts talking about something – you have to know it is a big deal. Find below a video below from Oprah’s correspondent – Lisa Ling on Dumpster Diving in New York.

http://www.oprah.com/media/20080601_tows_196016001OCOMTRASH_O_VIDEO_1

Dumpster diving is most enjoyed in groups – so if you have no plans this coming Friday night, grab some of your closest friends and get out and dumpster dive!

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The Ultimate Sandwich

2 pieces of bread = 19 cents

2 pieces of cheese = 12 cents

butter = 10 cents

41cent grilled cheese!!!!

That right folks, grilled cheese is the best low budget meal around that not only tastes great but allows for your creativity to go wild too!

A typical grilled cheese sandwich consists of cheddar cheese in between 2 slices of buttered bread. The sandwich is then grilled, fried or baked in the oven.

I prefer to use a proper sandwich grill for the perfect sandwich every time!

Generally this sandwich is served with a hot bowl of tomato soup.

did you know that the grilled cheese sandwich has been around since the 1920’s as an open face sandwich and It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the top slice of bread was added to the sandwich? (wikipedia).

Please enjoy the following video and learn how to make a grilled cheese sandwich without a stove or oven!

Grilled cheese sandwiches can be made with a variety of ingredients besides the above. Try mixing up your cheeses or add meat or veggies for a grilled cheese twist!

My personal favorite includes Havarti cheese, black forest ham, red onion and tomato. mmmmm good

My roommate enjoys her sandwich with avocado, tomato, onion and cheddar cheese.

How do you like your grilled cheese?

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Gourmet for Less*

Eating on a budget is something that most of us can

easily accept, especially when we’re in University. We put

up with the weekly grilled cheese binge, and let’s face it

for most of us KD has been a major staple in our

cupboards since we left mommy’s house. However there

are those certain times where we do need to whip out

those cooking skills we learned in grade 11 Home Ec.

class and cook a really impressive gourmet meal.

Gourmet cooking may seem daunting but it can be really

easy to cook and surprisingly affordable. So whether you’re trying to impress the pants off

that special someone or just trying to do it up for a special occasion, I have laid out a fool

proof meal plan that will make a star. And all for 40 dollars, including your wine.

 

Starter:

Spicy Corn Bisque with Grilled Shrimp

The original recipe for this came from Martha Stewart. Her recipe calls for a few

ingredients that most people aren’t familiar with and that can be expensive. I’ve altered

the recipe a bit and made it much more affordable. It tastes awesome and looks superb.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter or margarine

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

3 cups corn kernels

2 tbsp finely chopped shallot

1 tbsp finely chopped garlic

6 cups of Corn Stock

2 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup milk

12 ounces shrimp

Sour cream

Chives finely chopped

Directions:

1. Heat butter and oil in a medium saucepan and melt butter. Add onion and carrot and cook until they are caramelized and softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn and continue cooking until corn is caramelized, about 7 minutes. Add shallots and garlic and cook for about 1 minute.

2. Add corn stock, salt, and cayenne pepper to mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook soup until corn is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and then let cool slightly.

3. In a frying pan or on a grill pan you can now cook your shrimp. Add a small amount of oil to your pan and season your shrimp with salt and pepper before grilling. Cook until shrimp is no longer translucent and tails are orange.

4. In batches tranfer soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain soup through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan. Add cream and grilled shrimp.

5. To garnish add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with a few chives.

Martha serves this dish cold, which you can do and it is really good, I just personally prefer it warm. If you want to serve it cold then just put it into the fridge until it’s totally chilled. Also I like to serve this soup with a piece of grilled french bread. It gives people something to dunk into the soup, which tastes good and people always love.

Cost of a pot of soup: 7 dollars

Cost of knowing you made a fabulous bisque from scratch: PRICELESS*

So I realize that not everyone will be into the effort of making a soup. For those of you who want another option check out this Radicchio and Endive Salad. It’s incredibly simple and is sure to appeal to the masses.

 

 

Main Course:

Roasted Pork Loin with a Dijon and Parsley Crust

Accompanied by a Fricassee of Mushrooms, Shallots and Garlic

This recipe is from Curtis Stone, star of TLC’s Take Home Chef. Once again i’ve

altered the recipe again to make it a little more affordable. He used a more

expensive mushroom then the typical white button mushroom most of us use.

White button mushrooms work fine in this recipe, just please don’t try to use the

ones from a can. Also he put shaved truffles on top of it to garnish. I mean who

doesn’t love a good truffle garnish, but really who can afford them.

Ingredients:

One boneless pork loin roast

Salt and fresh ground pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp dijon mustard

3/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chicken broth

2 shallots, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound of halved mushrooms

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a large sautee pan over high heat. Season the pork loin with salt and pepper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the pork and rub til the whole pork is coated.

2. Cook the pork the hot pan until it is golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. The pork is not going to be cooked at this point so don’t worry. Put the pork in the saute pan in the oven and roast it for about 1 hour or until your meat thermometor reads 140 degrees. (for how to check the temp of your meat check this out.) While the pork is cooking turn it occasionally to ensure even browning.

3. Remove the pork from the oven and brush with dijon mustard over the top and sides of the pork. Sprinkle 2/3 cup of the chopped parsley over a work surface. Roll the mustard coated parts of the pork in the parsley to coat and pat the parsley to insure it’s adhered.

4. Set the pork aside and let it rest for at least 10 minutes so that the juices redisperse into the meat. Add the chicken broth to the pan that had the pork. Stir over medium heat to loosen the drippings and create a sauce for the meat.

5. For the mushrooms: In a separate pan add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Then add the shallots and cook for a minute. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 8 minutes, until they are tender and juicy. Stir in remaining parsley and stir with salt and pepper.

Serving Tip: When serving the pork it might be a nice touch to plate the food

for your guests and then serve them. Place the mushrooms on the plate first. Then

lay two slices of the pork on top of the mushrooms and drizzle the sauce over top.

Garnish with a little left over parsley.

Cost of meal: 20 dollars

 

Wine Pairing:

Once again I would definitly recommend Prosecco for this meal. Prosecco works

really well with spicy food so it will pair well with the heat in the corn bisque. Also

the light flavor of it will go well the clean flavors in the main dish. And it’s bubbly so

it’s fun and with keep the mood of your party classy, but not too uptight. And if you really want to look

classy, try serving Paris Hilton’s canned Prosecco.

Cost of wine not served in a can: 13 dollars

 

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Sour grapes and rotten tomatoes

I hate mouldy produce. Hate it. It’s possibly one of my biggest pet peeves. First off it’s smelly and runs the very real risk of leaving a sticky spot in the fridge. Secondly it wastes money. Good, hard earned cash that was apparently spent on the privilege of cleaning up said produce. And finally there’s the guilt factor. The veggies were still in the crisper because I was eating grilled cheese sandwiches all week – I deserve to be broke and scrubbing.

I can only imagine this is what medieval peasants were really pissed off about – lack of refrigeration and the resulting rotten tomatoes

In an effort to rid myself of this three- fold dilemma I’ve done a little research. Well, for starters it looks like you’re not supposed to put tomatoes in the fridge (my mom confirmed this but if you will only accept internet proof click here ).  

For the rest of your fruit and veg the Sainsbury’s website offers some storage techniques may be worth a look. Most of their advice seems along the lines of ‘store in bag in fridge’ (ahem, except the tomatoes ) However, there were a few interesting tidbits like don’t refrigerate your pineapples, and bananas cause other fruit to ripen faster. Who knew?

Another way to eliminate waste and save money is to buy frozen. Obviously, not all frozen produce is on  equal footing but there are some brands that avoid the translucent cubed carrot syndrome. Europe’s Best freezes up some good fruit and veggies. Their berry medley can be thawed quickly in the microwave and added to yogurt or smoothies. It’s not as good as fresh, local produce but it’ll do in a pinch.

Plus, frozen fruits and veggies often have higher nutrient content than fresh produce. This is because the ‘fresh’ produce on the grocery shelves has been sitting in warehouses, sitting in trucks, and then sitting on the shelf, all the while losing nutrients as it ages. The frozen variety is picked while ripe (therefore at its peak nutritional content) and stuck in the freezer right after so those nutrients are locked in (via msn health ).

For those of you who are extra thrifty I’ve discovered you can actually google the brands you like and people post links on forums to printable cupons. Plus, the UofL has launched the ‘Good Food Club’. For a small fee of $5 – $15 per month you can get loads of fresh, local produce way cheaper than retail as its been haggled for and purchased in bulk. So there’s lots of ways to save on produce – you can keep them fresh or buy them frozen. Just don’t forget your five a day.

 

Here’s some links to related websites:

How to make a tomoato glow in the dark!

History of throwing tomatoes

Cooking frozen vegetables:

http://southernfood.about.com/od/freezingfood/a/aa082101_3.htm

http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Everyday-Cooking/Convenience-Cooking/Frozen-Food-Recipes/Frozen-Vegetables/Frozen-Mixed-Vegetables/Top.aspx

http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,frozen_vegetables,FF.html

 

 

 

Frozen fruit recipes:

http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Everyday-Cooking/Convenience-Cooking/Frozen-Food-Recipes/Frozen-Fruit/Main.aspx

http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf38921397.tip.html

 http://www.theperfectpantry.com/2008/08/assorted-frozen.html

 Smoothies:

http://www.vegfamily.com/vegan-pregnancy/fruit-smoothies.htm

http://www.quietfish.com/notebook/?p=1636

 

 

 

 

 

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