A one pot meal ALL my kids liked

My posts have been few and far between.  I’ve taken on another job and barely have time for laundry (actually have 4 baskets to fold and put away, when I finish this one). Lately my one pot meals haven’t been as successful for all three of my children.  One or all of them will often not like what I’ve cooked, except when I make chili.  They all (usually) love that.  But this classic Italian dish I tried for the first time and they all devoured it and raved how delicious it was.  And not one complained about any of the ingredients (mushrooms, hot peppers).  095

I didn’t look up any recipe for this, but adapted it from versions I’d had in restaurants.  I altered it slightly for my younger sons by not adding the hot cherry peppers until I’d dished theirs out. So, I catered to their tastes slightly, without compromising the whole dish.  My youngest like black pepper but aren’t really into very hot spicy dishes yet. Whereas, my eldest will add Sriracha and habanero powder to almost anything.
This takes about 20 minutes to make with breasts and longer with thighs.

Chicken Scarpariello* with Spinach
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chicken breasts or 4 thighs, cut in pieces
½ cup white wine
1½ cups of chicken stock
1 qt of mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch of baby spinach
3 sausage links (I used precooked spinach & garlic chicken sausage, can use sweet Italian)
Handful of hot cherry peppers (can use sliced red bell pepper if you prefer)
¾ Tbsp dried oregano
¾ Tbsp dried basil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive oil

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in pan over medium-high heat, add onions.  Sauté for a several minutes, after they’re nearly translucent, add the garlic. Sauté for another few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside the onions, garlic. Put pan back on stove and add more olive oil if needed. Sear the chicken pieces for a couple of minutes then add the onion mix back in (if using bell peppers, add now).  Add the wine, then after about 30 seconds add the stock. After stock has started to simmer, add the sliced sausage, mushrooms, spinach, and herbs. 087088091  Turn heat down to medium-low and cover.  After the spinach has wilted and sausage is warmed through, add hot cherry peppers, if you’re having them.  Add salt and pepper then serve over pasta. (If you are using chicken thighs, make sure they’ve cooked throughout.  165°F. Breasts don’t take as long.)  094

I guess this is technically two pots since pasta needs to cook separately!  102 098 Feet up instead of thumbs up!104


My kids really liked this and ate it all.  It’s one I’ll be making again soon!

(*my version)

But I hate eggplant!

My husband made some yummy beef kalbi (Korean short ribs) that are marinated in all sorts of yumminess including mirin, kiwifruit and 7up (yes, 7up!).  He grilled the beef  along with some gorgeous striped eggplant, and served with brown rice and a plain salad.  My eldest cried out when he saw his plate, “I hate eggplant!” and so I told him to give it one taste which he did then made a disgusted look.  So, I said to just give it to me (it was so delicious).  I reminded him of other times he’s had eggplant and liked it

“No I didn’t” was his reply. My middle son echoed it. Whatever.  

So two nights later I made a summer stew with eggplant, kale, baby potatoes (some from our “garden”— pathetic effort this year), sweet potatoes, chicken, chickpeas, tomatoes, garlic, fresh ginger, onion, Middle Eastern spices and cilantro.  It was so good and we were in a rush to get places so I even packed up my middle son’s in a thermos flask to eat on the road. 

Funny thing is they both devoured the dish and when I mentioned that there was eggplant in it, my middle son denied that it was even there.  I had to physically point it out to him.  He then tasted one piece and said, “Oh, Ok.”

So… sometimes it’s just how you serve it.  Alone, grilled, in a dish with many other items, raw, steamed, baked, with certain spices, etc… It may not be received well one way, but they may actually like it done differently.  

I find with many kids it can be the texture that puts them off with certain vegetables, that’s why raw over cooked or vice versa may be preferred. 

But I hate eggplant!

My husband made some yummy beef kalbi (Korean short ribs) that are marinated in all sorts of yumminess including mirin, kiwifruit and 7up (yes, 7up!).  He grilled the beef  along with some gorgeous striped eggplant, and served with brown rice and a plain salad.   Continue reading

Vietnamese Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry

At the end of the last school year, my son’s wonderful third grade teacher gave me a gorgeous and interesting cook book alice’s Cook Book by Alice Hart.  It has very creative recipes with pairings that I wouldn’t think of; which for me makes it even better! 

Last night I perused it to find something to make with the chicken breasts that I had to use.  Not surprisingly I found a wonderful recipe and it is quite easy. 

I was fairly certain but not absolutely that my kids would eat it— well, without any fuss.  I added green beans to give them one vegetable I knew they’d like and thought would go well with the dish.  I opted not to use the hot pepper as my middle son is especially sensitive to hot spices. I added it to my own dish afterwards.  You could also use Siracha. The cilantro I had looked too sad, so I left it out. 

Continue reading

At a loss for inspiration… then it hit me!

Last night I walked into the kitchen and stared at the chicken breasts I’d taken out of the fridge. I knew I was making chicken for dinner, but I hadn’t planned in what way/which recipe and now I found myself at a loss of what to do with them.  I just stared at them.  Hmm. What to do with them?  I’d made curry the night before.  I’ve done Moroccan, Asian, Italian and Barbecue within the past week.  Just couldn’t think of something I’d like to make (quickly since we’d had tennis lessons, homework and other stuff) that the kids would eat.  I was trying to avoid any major meltdowns with food choices.  I looked in the pantry but nothing jumped out at me, but when I opened the fridge for the umpteenth time I had several lemons staring at me. 

Of course!  It made me remember how much my sons liked the Chicken Française I’ve made.  But no way was I interested in starting that process at 6pm.  I should have had dinner finished by now.  So instead I made a sort of Chicken Piccata. My eldest two love capers so I knew it was going to be a mostly whine-free dinner and since I’d just poured myself a glass of white wine I knew I had plenty for the chicken.

I cut up butternut squash into thin slices and started roasting them (really thin so it wouldn’t take long).  I then cut up some broccoli and cauliflower added to pan of water to steam.  I threw the 3 minute frozen organic brown rice into the microwave.  And then started cutting the breast meat into 2 inch pieces.  I didn’t use flour, just lightly browned the chicken, removed from heat and added white wine, lemon juice, chicken stock, capers, salt and pepper.   I reduced the liquid until it was thicker, added the chicken back to it and soon was ready to serve.  It took less than 20 minutes (yes, even with the butternut squash). 

Not only was it delicious it was stress-free and whine-free (well, I did have to serve it sans capers to my youngest).  Sometimes it just takes one thing to give you the inspiration you need to create a healthful, quick and yummy meal that all the kids will like.  They didn’t eat all their butternut squash, but I finished it off for them.

Have you found yourself at a loss at what to make?

Chicken Spinach Ravioli with Cherry Tomato Sauce

I am working on my list of healthier nut-free snacks to contrast what the kids’ school nurse sent home. In the meantime thought I’d share this awesome ravioli my husband made on the boys’ first day of school at my suggestion.  It’s funny sometimes:I buy all the ingredients and just have to tell him what I have in mind.  Then he cooks it.  He cuts faster, cooks and  knows what to do better than I do, so it works well.  I just help whatever he needs help with. And he loves to cook.

He used wonton skin wrappers that I buy in the grocery section of supermarket.  They make wonderfully thin raviolis so you get more taste of the fillings.  Poach chicken breast in water for 5 minutes (until done but not tough).  Sauté ½ small onion, minced and then 2 cloves garlic, minced both in olive oil.  Add pound of spinach until wilted.  Blend in food processor with chicken, tsp porcini powder and salt & pepper.  Mix in ½ cup of ricotta cheese.  Spoon in dollop onto center of a wrap, moisten edges and press another wrap on top gently squeezing any air out before sealing.   Press edges with a fork.  Keep on cookie sheet dusted with corn meal until ready. When nearly time to serve put in gently boiling water for about 5 minutes and remove with straining spoon.   

Served with a simple cherry tomato sauce.  Take several handfuls of cherry tomatoes (we used orange cherry tomatoes) cut in half, Tbsp of fresh basil chopped, 2 tsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and ¼ cup of chicken stock.  Cook until tomatoes are tender, stirring often.  So easy and delicious!

We served ours with a green salad. The boys weren’t too keen on trying the sauce but I finally got my eldest to try it.  His aversion is to the seeds.  My middle son was a bit easier but my youngest flat out refused.  They all loved the ravioli but next time asked for it without sauce.  Oh well.  Different sauce for them next time or just butter! My son loves to spike & color his hair for first & last days of school.

Ideas for Busy Times

The past month has been very busy but when I was filling out dates on June’s calendar I realized May was just a teaser on what being hectic means.  So I thought it appropriate to share some of my quick meal tips/ideas for those who like me have little time to cook but want to give their kids healthful foods.  These can all be cooked/prepared in under 10 minutes.  Combine them as you like or add to another quick recipe idea.

Snow peas.  These are in season and go so well with Asian stir-frys and pasta mixtures.  They cook in a mere 3 minutes and are great as a healthy side vegetable.  One of youngest son’s favorite vegetables. Try some with dash of sesame oil, soy sauce and peanut or canola oil. 

Snap peas.  Another of my kids’ favorites.  They too are now coming into season here in the Northern Hemisphere.  They cook quickly and are great raw too!  Sweet and crunchy, many kids will prefer them over plain peas or more bitter vegetables. Just add a tiny bit of butter when cooked and watch them gobble them up!

Organic Baby Spinach.Again a fast cooking or raw vegetable.  No fuss in preparation— no trimming or cutting, just rinse and serve. Perfect to add some more dimension to a romaine or iceberg lettuce salad.  Cooks in less than 3 minutes with just a touch of water, covered.  Add a pat of butter and serve.  Great with pasta blends, stuffing for pork or chicken.  Chop some and add to prepared Nan with boursin or goat cheese for a pizza-like creation. 

Swiss Chard.  My kids love this vegetable that’s similar to spinach but earthier and more flavorful.  It can be steamed like spinach.  I chop the stems and give most to my youngest who prefers the crunch over the wilted leaves.

Frozen organic brown rice from Trader Joe’s.  Brown rice is so much better for you, for one it doesn’t spike blood sugars like white rice.  I find this an easy and delicious short cut.  One packet gives our family of five a great side that only takes 3 minutes in the microwave. (3 packets in a box.)  Brown rice usually cooks in 35-45 minutes, so it really helps save time!  My kids love the heartiness of brown rice. If you want to make a fried rice dish, this is perfect!

Pork tenderloin.  Can often find on sale.  Cut into one inch medallions for a really quick meat dish— pan fry for few minutes each side.  (145ºF) Salt & pepper  add some seasoning like Penzy’s Mural of Flavor.  My mother makes a quick sauce in the pan with 3 Tbsp tamari soy sauce, 3 Tbsp apricot jam, 2Tbsp dry sherry or vermouth, 1 clove chopped garlic.

Trader Joe’s Beef Bool Kogi (Bolgogi/Korean Barbeque).  Not exactly authentic per most reviews, but my kids and I love this as a quick meal.  Usually it’s grilled and served in lettuce but I just sear it in very hot pan and serve with rice and veggies. You can buy shaved beef and marinate it with soy, scallions, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and rice wine vinegar for your own Korean-style beef.

Chicken tenders  These are the strips of breast meat that are sometimes sold separately.  Cut these into bite sized portions and sauté, they’re done in minutes.  You can sprinkle some curry powder, paprika or garlic salt for a bit of flavor that won’t need a sauce.  Or find a really good prepared marinade from a store (with natural ingredients) and that morning cover it with sauce, leave in fridge so it’s ready to cook that night. Can use bread crumbs and bake for a fairly easy and quick meal. 

Green salad.  Whether you like lots of color with multiple vegetables or a plain salad of just lettuce(s), giving your kids fresh raw vegetables is a great way of providing them healthy foods in little time.  Go for a home made dressing of oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and lemon juice or buy a good prepared one.  Just make sure its ingredient list is not full of preservatives or fillers.

Hope this helps give you some ideas so that your kids get a few healthy meals during the rush of the week!

My camera lens is broken and I’ll be sending it off to get fixed.  Hopefully will be done quickly.  I’ll pass on the recipe I used for the dal in this photo Chicken thighs, not breast were used here.