Pan Fried Chicken


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Fried chicken that’s only lightly fried then baked to finish cooking.  (Less absorption of fat for those who are so concerned. But just as delicious!) Soaked the chicken drumsticks in buttermilk overnight then coated them in flour mixed with thyme, cayenne, … Continue reading

Empanadas– or as my sons call them “those tacos things”

At this month’s Cooking Club we had a Latin American theme.  I usually try to make something I’ve never tried making before or something I think is creative or challenging.   So, I made arepas (sort of like corn flour rolls) but in case they didn’t work out, I had bought some frozen empanada dough discs (made with yucca and annatto).  It wouldn’t have mattered – I ran out of timeso if they didn’t work SOL.  (They weren’t too bad, but wasn’t my best dish.)

Anyway, on the following night since I had already defrosted the empanada discs and some stew beef from our CSA I suggested to my husband he make empanadas for dinner, which he did (he’s good like that).   I helped by grinding the beef in the food processor and making some of the sides, but that’s about all. I wasn’t too sure the kids would eat the empanada without any fuss, but I figured if they tried a bite they’d probably like them.  We told them that they were similar to tacos.  They all love tacos, and it stuck.  They just called them “those taco things” for days afterwards.

I was pleasantly surprised with the enthusiasm for the dinner even before it was fully assembled and in the oven; especially by my youngest two.  They were thrilled to see the meat go in the shells (I think meat is such a boy thing) and ate them with such gusto. 

We served a salad, black beans, brown rice, salsa and my husband’s delicious guacamole with the empanadas.  Though my youngest wouldn’t touch any beans, salsa or guac—he’s the pickiest of all three.

Beef Empanadas
10 pack of empanada shells (used Goya with yucca)  
1 pound beef (ground)
½ onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
handful chopped fresh cilantro
olive oil
salt & pepper

Pour Tbsp olive oil in a fry pan and get it hot.  Add the ground beef and cook until browned.  Turn down heat to medium and add onions and sauté until nearly translucent.  Add garlic, chili powder and cumin.  Cook stirring often for a couple of minutes then add the oregano and tomato paste.  Thin out with about ¼ cup of water (adjust according to desired consistency).  Salt and pepper to taste.  Take off heat and cool.  Stir in cilantro when cooled. 
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place about 2 Tbsp of mixture onto center of a shell, brush a little water along edge then fold in half and press outside edge together.  Press with a fork around round edge to completely seal. 
Add Tbsp olive oil to hot pan.  Sauté each side until brown, then bake on parchment lined cookie tray for 20 minutes. Serve while hot. 

We had 4 extras that went into the freezer instead of the oven – my middle son asked me to serve it for dinner the following night (he had to wait 2 nights, but I was happy to oblige).

Soup– stealthy vegetable vehicle

A way of sneaking in those pesky vegetables that some picky eaters refuse to eat on their own is to put them in soup.  My kids are pretty good at eating most vegetables so I don’t need to puree the veggies but anyone with ultra picky kids can choose to do that.  Even without pureeing it, since the vegetables get cooked in the broth they’ll get many of the nutrients even if they’re not eating the actual vegetable from the soup.   And with all the wonderful organic stocks and broths readily available to buy, making soups can be fast and painless.  It’s quick, easy, tasty and healthful— what more can you ask for?  And, don’t have enough of something for a full meal or want to use up left-overs; soup is a great medium. 

Here’s one soup I made in less than a half hour last night.  I decided last minute to make it a dinner and movie night, but not with pizza.  I had a little of this and that.  I mixed vegetable and chicken broth to give it a rich flavor.  I had some left over chicken breast (but not enough for much, so I thawed some tenders too). I decided to add some small meatballs (frozen, from IKEA— yes, Ikea, the furniture-in-box place) that made it into a sort of Italian Wedding Soup. I didn’t feel the need to add onions or celery since I used the prepared broths.  The chicken is very tender not only because of the cut, but also since it’s poached in the broth.


Chicken, Kale, Bean and Meatball Soup

1 quart organic chicken broth

1 quart organic vegetable broth

4 chicken tenders, cut in 1 inch pieces

1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped

2-3 organic carrots, sliced

3/4 pound mini star-shaped pasta

1 can beans (pinto, cannellini, kidney)

2 tsp dried oregano

10-15 small meatballs

1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

In a stock pot pour the two broths and bring to a low boil.  Add kale, carrots and chicken.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes before adding pasta, meatballs, oregano and beans.  Cook 10 minutes then add cilantro and cook one more minute. Adjust seasoning (salt and pepper). My two eldest sons loved the soup and my youngest ate it but didn’t want the kale, even though he likes kale on its own.  I didn’t push and just let him try to eat it without (a tough task!).  I loved it too and both my eldest son and I had it for lunch today.

Popsicle Ribs

Country Pork Ribs have lots of meat, unlike spare ribs.  My husband made some with a glaze that my middle son said tasted like popsicles.  So these are now called “Popsicle Ribs”.   Salt and pepper them before putting them on the grill toward the edges (on “indirect heat”: not over the flaming coals) for 20 minutes turning occasionally.   Coat with the glaze and cook for another 5-10 minutes.  These were very thick, so you might need to adjust cooking time according to thickness.


Apricot Orange Soy Glaze (“Popsicle Sauce”) for Country Ribs

1/2 cup apricot jam

1 tsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp Tamari soy sauce

1 Tbsp orange zest

Mix together.  If you want to kick it up a notch add some hot pepper. 


Baste meat after it’s almost done and keep it on indirect heat.  That way it won’t burn because of the sugar.

We also grilled some calamari (squid) that I put in olive oil, salt and pepper before putting them on the grill.  These take just a couple of minutes.  So we put them on when everything else was done.  Squeeze of lemon is perfect on top. 


Only my middle son would taste the calamari, but before he went to bed, my eldest said he’d wished he had tasted them.  Luckily we bought 8 tubes and had only 4 that night and the other half the following night. 


We served them with a cucumber and onion salad; green beans; tomato basil goat cheese salad; corn on the cob and also some eel sushi for a side dish per request of my 8 year old.  Too much food for only five of us, but thoroughly enjoyed.

Magic Beans

In our bountiful CSA bin this week was a bag of purple string beans. 

I think they’re “burgundy” beans but not positive.  If you’re ever looking for a fun vegetable to cook with kids, look no further.  Really, these are truly magical.  They are a rich purple outside and grassy green interior but when they cook they turn all green (almost olive colored).  It’s a great thing for the kids to watch as they change colors and it just might be the thing to get the pickier eaters to actually eat some!  It only takes 3 minutes to cook in already boiling water. Drain and put in ice bath when done.  Can reheat with butter, salt and pepper to taste when rest of dinner is ready.

 We actually got our eldest to eat string beans when he was a toddler (after refusing several times) by creating the “Green Bean Dance”. It is a family tradition now and has gotten a bit out of hand.  What started as bopping in seats while munching on the beans together in unison is now full on break dancing.  The funny thing is… it worked.  My toddler was resistant to eating the beans and it became fun.  Kind of like slurping up spaghetti is fun.  Now, they all the love the taste of beans and we don’t need the dance, just occasionally have one for old time’s sake.


Looking at this photo from 2 days ago reminds me that I finally got to the pile of dirt in the corner… today.

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