Friday, April 1, 2011

Miss me? I'm back!

Dear BFF,

I'm sorry for being absent for so long. I hope I didn't hurt your feelings. It has been an exceptionally long and challenging winter for me. Please accept my apologies for neglecting our friendship...I will try very hard not to let it happen again.

So anywho, how are you? I hope you are getting ready for spring and all the sunshine that it brings! I have had a few requests for kid-friendly recipes, and as I don't have any kids of my own, I'm kind of guessing on this one! But what kid doesn't like burgers & mac-n-cheese? Here you go...this one's for you Rach!

Black Bean Burgers from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
makes 6 burgers and takes about 30 minutes

2 cups cooked or 1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (this gives them a great consistency) can be found at Giant Eagle, Bob's Red Mill is a good brand
1/2 cup plain whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
About 2 tbsp olive oil plus olive oil spray
Whole wheat buns

Mash the beans with a fork in a mixing bowl. Leave some half beans, but don't puree. Add the wheat gluten, bread crumbs, chile powder, cumin, water, and tomato paste ( and cilantro if using), but don't mix yet. Use a garlic press or microplane grater to grate the garlic in. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate in the onion.
Mix everything together with a fork and then proceed to knead with your hands until the mixture is firm and uniformly mixed (about a minute).
Preheat heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.
Divide burger mixture into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a firm ball. Use your palm to press the ball down on a clean surface to form a patty that is about 1 1/2 inch thick.
Pour a thin layer of olive oil into the pan. Cook the patties 5 minutes on each side, gently but firmly pressing them down with a spatula. Spray or brush with olive oil before turning over, for uniform browning. Once done, the patties should be very firm when you press down on them.
Enjoy with your favorite toppings! BBQ sauce, sprouts, avocado, etc...

Macaroni & Four Cheeses from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freeman & Kim Barnouin
Serves 8

1 tbsp refined coconut oil, melted, or safflower oil, + more for the casserole dish
About 2 tbsp fine sea salt
1 pound elbow macaroni (try whole wheat or brown rice for a change!)
2 (10 oz) packages frozen pureed winter squash
2 cups soy or rice milk
4 oz vegan cheddar cheese shredded (try Daiya, found with other dairy shredded cheese)
2 oz vegan jack cheese (again I highly recommend Daiya)
4 oz (about 1/2 cup) vegan cream cheese (try Tofutti, found near the tofu)
1 1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 tbsp vegan Parmesan cheese (find near the Tofutti or make your own by following this link!)

Preheat oven to 375. Oil a 2 qt casserole dish; set aside.
In a 4-6 qt saucepan over high heat, combine 3 qts of water w/ about 1 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and add the macaroni and cook according to package directions.
 Meanwhile, in a 3-4 qt saucepan over medium heat, combine the squash and milk, stirring and breaking up the squash with a spoon until defrosted. Increase the heat to med-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheddar, Jack, cream cheese, mustard, cayenne, and the remaining tbsp of salt.
When the pasta is done, drain it and return to the pot. Stir the cheese sauce into the macaroni. Transfer to the prepared baking pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and 1 tbsp of oil. Sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese. Place casserole dish on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes until the top is browned.
***Tips for introducing new/weird/exciting meals to your family***
As I said earlier, I have no children of my own. I did, however, work with children with autism for 5 years, and getting them to try new foods was a part of therapy for many. Lots of these amazing kids had aversions to certain flavors, textures, and change in and of itself. So here are my tips:
  • Give plenty of notice that you will be trying something new. Maybe have "new food Wednesdays" and make everyone try at least 2-3 bites of everything. Give at least 1-2 days notice that you will be trying a new meal.
  • Make it fun! Try not to make it seem like a chore right off the bat. Only give the 2-3 bite rule if there is resistance at the meal itself.
  • If your kids ask what's in it, be honest!
  • Give lots of praise for trying something new and being brave!!!
Again, you know your family best, so do what works for you. And let me know how they like it!