Monday, October 29, 2012

Lemony Chicken Skewers with Sunbutter Satay Sauce

Ordering Thai takeout is a perilous operation here at Kid Cultivation. The risks are great with Roo's peanut and tree nut allergies.

Generally, one parent gets the kids to bed while the other places a covert phone call to Bodhi Thai. While stories are read and molars of unwitting children brushed and flossed, a lone wolf slinks out to procure the contraband soup, dumplings, and noodles. Thirty minutes later we eat in stunned silence, slurping and savoring the bright, salty, citrus-y freshness and making peace with the crunchy peanuts we've been missing.

Then it's hazmat time. The trash immediately goes to the dumpster out back, counters are wiped, tables scrubbed, mouths disinfected, clothes burned, fingernails removed...okay, maybe not but it is a process to say the least.

Fortunately Sunbutter is our friend. And Lemony chicken with Sunbutter satay sauce is our Thai infatuation.
Sunbutter Satay Sauce
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1&1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup creamy Sunbutter
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp dry sherry
1&1/2 tsp lime juice, freshly squeezed

1. Heat a small, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add both oils, shallots, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the shallots are tender and transparent, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Cool to room temperature and serve with lemony chicken skewers (recipe below).
Lemony Chicken Skewers
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Juice of 3-4 lemons
3/4 cup olive oil + 1 tbsp
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 tbsp green onions, thinly sliced
2 pounds chicken tenders
wooden skewers

1. To make the marinade, combine lemon juice, 3/4 cup oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and green onions. Stir well. Place chicken tenders in a glass dish or large zip top plastic bag. Pour marinade over the top. Marinate in refrigerator overnight.
2. Heat a grill pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to pan. Cook chicken tenders until done, about 3-4 minutes per side. Allow to cool slightly, insert wooden skewers lengthwise and serve with Sunbutter Satay Sauce and fresh lime wedges.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Treats that Won't Rot Teeth

An enormous tarantula is spinning a web on our front porch and a gang of menacing pumpkins is eying my every move but things are about to get a lot scarier once Thing 1, Thing 2, and a miniature Santa Claus return with sacks full of sugar balls and chocolate next week.

I like candy as much as the next kid. Kit Kat, Snickers, Twix, I'm game. Consider this my butt's official thank you note to nut allergies for making a Halloween sized bag of Butterfinger off limits in our house. When Halloween time rolls around, we could all benefit from a little restraint and a wholesome treat.
A few weeks ago, Rhodes contacted me about trying their frozen bread products. As much as I enjoy the scent of my own fresh homemade bread baking in the oven, it's definitely not a regular menu item here at Casa Kid Cultivation. So, after taking care of the compulsory allergy check, I was more than ready to give Rhodes a try.

By the way, the Rhodes White Dinner Rolls that we used are egg-free, as are many Rhodes products and recipes, and better still, Rhodes doesn't use any peanuts, tree nuts, meat, fish or shellfish in their products!
No eggs, peanuts, or tree nuts in here!
I was already on board with the idea of easy, egg-free, nut-free, dinner rolls. What I didn't anticipate, was all of the fun things we could do with the dough. Typically, once I've taking the time to rise, knead, rise again, with my own dough, I don't have the heart to hand over a hunk of my beloved dough to the kids and say go crazy, make whatever you want. Rhodes frozen dough solved that dilemma for me and the kids had a blast watching the dough rise for our first batch of plain rolls...
then making this Apple Pull-Apart Cake
and finally, making these festive Halloween Dippin' Ghosts, pumpkins, caterpillars, and worms.
We skipped an egg wash due to Roo's allergy. Instead I dabbed a little milk on our ghosts, worms, and pumpkins before baking. For the pumpkins and caterpillars, I also added a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano over the milk, which I highly recommend. Last we made a party platter complete with warm marinara and apple butter for dipping.
Looly's homework time snack
The rolls are tasty on their own but even tastier with a slather of Balsamic Strawberry Jam with Cracked Pepper, and get this. Roo ate that whole ghost. My bread-loathing boy likes Rhodes. At this rate, keep the holidays coming and I'll make him any shape he wants. Just keep chewing, little bub. 

Last but not least, I am no artist, as evidenced by my slightly owl-ish ghosts, so I stuck with the most basic of shapes but you should know that Rhodes offers instructions for several other fun Halloween recipes. I'm thinking these hilarious Halloweiners might be able to compete with all those Tootsie Pops and Smarties when Wednesday night rolls around.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Curried Pasta Salad

Ahh fall. 

A couple of weeks ago we made the trek to Wisconsin to kick back, soak in the scenery and most importantly, to celebrate my father-in-law's 70th birthday. Rest assured there was plenty of swimming, drinking, celebrating, and oh yes, eating to be done.
Now, three households, consisting of 6 adults and 5 kids sharing a single kitchen for a few days can pose some unique challenges, especially when everyone has their own agenda - food allergies, vegetarians, carnivores, diabetics, picky kids, you get the idea.

My solution? Make as much as possible ahead of time so you can sit back, relax, and sip a Mai Tai by the (yes, indoor) pool. In addition to a batch of egg-free chocolate chip cookies and a few loaves of banana bread I had stashed in the freezer, this easy salad also made the trip and was a tasty accompaniment to sandwiches and salad greens all weekend long.
Curried Pasta Salad
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

4 cups small pasta (such as stellina, ditalini, or similar), prepared according to package instructions, rinsed in cold water and drained.
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fruity, good quality olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper (cut it back to 1 tsp if you're serving kids)
1 cup carrots, grated
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
4-5 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup red onion, diced (you might want to omit this if you're making it for kids. Mine balked at the "spicy" onion bits)
1. In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper).
2. In a separate large bowl, combine the cooked, cooled, and drained pasta with the carrots, parsley, raisins, cherries, scallions, and red onion, if using. Toss to combine. Pour yogurt mixture over pasta mixture and stir to combine.

Serves 12.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chewy, Gooey, Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ever since Roo's egg and nut allergies were diagnosed, I've been experimenting with dozens of recipes so that he can enjoy the same beloved baked goods as the rest of us. Okay, maybe he doesn't care that much about pancakes, muffins and cookies, but his mother and sisters do and we're all about inclusiveness over here.

Despite an abundance of allergy cookbooks, multiple boxes on Ener-G Egg Replacer, and a virtual family of allergy sufferers who share their own clever substitutions and recipes, one feat has remained maddeningly elusive: chewy chocolate chip cookies. 
Most of the egg-free recipes I've tried have been great right out of the oven, and as long as your willing to scarf down a dozen cookies in 10 minutes, everything's totally cool. But sadly, replacing the eggs seems to dictate that after 10 minutes of cooling time, egg-free cookies seize to a gingersnappy, tooth-rattling level of crunch. Maybe you're a dunker and that's not a problem for you, but I prefer my chocolate chip cookies a little on the chewy side - none of this crunchy, crumbly Chips Ahoy! business.
Fear not, my friends, the answer is near. So near in fact, you might already have it in your fridge. So simple and creamy, tangy and sweet. Cream cheese. It's not just for bagels.
Chewy, Gooey, Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 & 1/4 cups all purpose flour (do not sift!)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp real vanilla extract
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked and well mixed with 4 tbsp water
1 tbsp softened cream cheese
2 cups chocolate chips (we like big, dark ones like these)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
2. In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla, egg replacer mixture, and cream cheese and continue to beat until well combined.
3. Add dry ingredients to wet, 1/3 at a time, mixing well between additions. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets (or line them with Silpat mats) and bake 9-11 minutes until lovely, fragrant, and golden brown.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies
My chewy gooey babies

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Egg-Free Crispy Parmesan Chicken and Arugula Salad

Okay, excuse me for a moment but I am temporarily blinded by the cuteness that is this boy. Don't worry, it won't last long. It never does. Any minute there will be a defiant glance, a whine, a covert squeal-inducing pinch for a sister passing by. But for right now, in this moment, this boy, is super adorable, wonderfully agreeable, and to top it all off he's one heck of a chicken dredger. Screw egg allergies. Thanks to buttermilk, my boy can dredge.

Don't worry. Everybody gets their hands dirty.
Now, I've read the literature and I realize my kids are supposed to love chicken nuggets. They don't. I can't take credit for this since I have no idea what I did to incite their contempt for fast food. Honestly with the restaurant limits Roo's allergies place on us, I am not above a stop at the golden arches on a road trip if it means he can eat without going into anaphylactic shock. One health concern at a time, you know? Still, the KC kids would much prefer me to travel with a hunk of Parmesan cheese and a few apples in my purse than to suggest they eat nuggets for lunch.

So maybe your kids adore chicken nuggets, maybe they don't. That's really not the point. The point is, that this crispy crunchy golden chicken is way better than any old chicken nuggets. Whether they do or do not appreciate nuggets currently, if they go crazy for Parmesan cheese like mine do, they will likely enjoy this chicken. And bonus, it's one big nutritional step up from the ones you-know-who serves in a cardboard box. Use organic chicken, add a green salad, and you might as well start searching out wall space for your parent of the year plaque.
Looly teaching the art of finely grated Parmesan to a rapt audience
 Egg-Free Crispy Parmesan Chicken

1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
3 cups panko
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
2 tbsp canola oil

1. Pour buttermilk into a shallow dish. Set aside. Pour flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper into a separate shallow dish, mix to combine and set aside. Combine panko, grated Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in a third dish. Stir to combine.
2. Heat a large NON-non-stick (got that? we want the stick here!) skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of the oil.
3. Dip pounded chicken breasts, one at a time, in buttermilk. Allow excess to drip off then dredge in flour, followed by a second dip in buttermilk, and finally dredge in panko mixture.
4. Place half the chicken breasts into hot skillet and cook, flipping once, until crisp and golden brown on the outside and cooked through (about 4 minutes per side, depending on size). Repeat with remaining chicken.

Arugula Salad

3 cups arugula
1 large tomato, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp shallots, minced
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 ounce Parmesan cheese

1. Combine arugula and chopped tomato in a large bowl.
2. To make the dressing, combine lemon juice, mustard, shallots, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Pour dressing over salad. Top with shaved Parmesan.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Egg-Free Winter Squash Muffins

Goodbye tomatoes, hello winter squash.
Thanks once again to Angelic Organics, we have red kuri squash and pumpkin soup tucked away in the freezer, spaghetti squash salad with feta cheese and oregano vinaigrette in the fridge, and for that sweet little delicata? How about some squash muffins?
As usual, my muffins are egg-free to accommodate Roo's allergies. I used delicata squash because that's what I had left over after the soups were made, but most winter squash will work here...butternut, red kuri, hubbard, kabocha, pumpkin, pretty much anything but spaghetti squash. 

Egg-Free Winter Squash Muffins
adapted from The Divvies Bakery Cookbook

1 small winter squash (I used delicata, but butternut, red kuri, kabocha, or pumpkin will also work) 
1 & 1/2 tsp salt, divided
3 & 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup pear puree (baby food pears work well, or you can substitute applesauce)
1 cup canola oil, plus 1 tsp for rubbing squash
1/3 cup water
3 cups sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Rub cut sides with 1 tsp canola oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of the salt. Place squash cut side up on a baking sheet and roast until soft, about 30 minutes. Allow squash to cool to room temperature. Scoop out flesh and reserve. Discard skins.
2. Reduce oven to 375 degrees. Spray 2 muffin tins with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, remaining 1 tsp salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the cooked squash with an electric mixer until pureed and smooth. Add the pear puree, 1 cup canola oil, water, and sugar. Continue to mix until the sugar has dissolved.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat on medium speed until well-combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically.
5. Scoop batter into the muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tins and allow to cool completely.

Makes 24 muffins.

These are fantastic spread with a little cream cheese, or if you're feeling truly decadent, you could whip up some lemon cream cheese icing to drizzle on top.
I wasn't sure how the idea of squash muffins would go over with my roasted squash-loathing children so I did what any good parent would do. I kept my mouth shut. Instead I let the cinnamon-y fresh baked bread aroma do the talking until the inevitable happened.

Looly: "Can I have a muffin?"

followed shortly by...

Bean: "Me too! Why does she always get to have muffins and we don't!"

Bean will make a masterful dissident one day.
45 seconds later two crumb-faced girls were back for more, so it was time for the cold hard truth. There's squash in there!

I then proceeded to ask Looly if she liked the muffin so many times she finally locked her eyes on mine with the concern of a child whose parent has suddenly lost their mind and very calmly touched my hand and promised, "Yes, mom. I liked it. I really really liked it. It was yummy. I thought it was a banana muffin."


On the flip side, Roo, the perpetual bread-avoider declined to try a bite but promised me that if I make pumpkin muffins next time, he's game.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Crispy Brussels Sprouts Chips

Building. We're always building on past success. Of course I use the term very loosely as it pertains to feeding my kiddos.

Kale chips are a hit. Even Looly is coming around, albeit slowly. Beet chips are hugely popular with most of the family and I suspect Looly will come around on those eventually too. So then, Brussels sprouts chips?
Along with beans, beets, kale, and most things colorful, vegetarian, and healthful, Bean has always loved Brussels sprouts. Two Thanksgivings ago, as a two-year-old, she sat on the counter eating raw "baby lettuce" while I prepped to roast them for the rest of us - the "rest of us" being the adults of course. Looly was not convinced and at that point I wouldn't have even entertained the notion of putting a leaf of any variety in Roo's mouth for fear of gagging. But this is a new realm. And in this realm, we make chips out of Brussels sprouts.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts Chips

1&1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the ends off the Brussels sprouts and discard any wilted or yellow leaves. Separate each sprout into individual leaves. This is the perfect job for eager little fingers that want to help! When you get to the dense core and can't remove any more leaves, you can toss it, save it for another recipe, or feed it to Bean.
2. Spread the leaves in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Toss with oil to coat. Bake 10-15 minutes, shaking pan occasionally, until leaves are crisp and brown on the edges. If some leaves brown faster than others, remove the crisp leaves and continue baking others until they are all nice and crisp. Season with salt to taste.
No surprise, Bean went barmy for these. And once again Looly and Roo were not impressed, but they each managed a few nibbles. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was Mufasa, who was nearly as enthusiastic as Bean. That's success in my book. These little munchies are staying in rotation and might just make it to the Thanksgiving table this year.