Tell Me Thursday: Harvest Time

Yesterday, I posted about “Harvest Time.” Back in the Spring, we did some plant shopping and decided to get a few potted vegetables to grow. We bought two tomato plants, one zucchini plant, and one cucumber plant. I bought one Jalepeno plant to be “mine.” While doing so, I joked that the spicy peppers would keep the local rabbit away from our plants. NHL, meanwhile, chose a peppermint plant because he liked the way it smelled. We decided not to plant all of these in the ground, but rather to pot them. Plants potted, we waited for the warm summer weather to help them grow.

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Cooking with TechyDad: Tie-Dyed Cheesecake

On our trip to Disney World, we sampled many great foods. Everything from Morrocan to Canadian to, well, good-ol’ US of A food. The food that stuck in our minds the most, though, came from the hotel we stayed in. The Pop Century Resorts’ restaurant had Tie-Dye Cheesecake. A delicious, rich cheesecake, swirled with many different colors, was served atop a “crust” made from red velvet cake. *YUM!*

Being the cooking enthusiest that I am, I decided that I couldn’t let Tie-Dyed Red Velvet Cheesecake be just a fond Disney World memory. I *had* to make it myself. A quick Google search turned up this recipe over at Slashfood. If you follow my wife’s blog, you know that we made it and what the result was. Long story short, the cake, while good, was not what I was hoping for. Instead of a multi-colored cheesecake with red velvet crust, we got a red velvet cake with a multi-colored cheesecake icing. The basic recipe was sound. We just had to fiddle with the proportions. So we decided to halve the cake portion and double the cheesecake portion. We also decided to substitute red velvet cake for Strawberry cake.

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Cooking with TechyDad: Eggplant Italian

Finding good eggplants here is a rare occurance. Unfortunately, most eggplants I look at are bruised and/or squishy. So when I find good eggplants, I snatch them up. Last week, I found a pair of good looking eggplants so I bought them and tossed them into my fridge. Luckily, I had a recipe that I wanted to try them with.

I took the eggplants, peeled and sliced them and soaked them in salt water for 5 minutes to help remove the bitterness. Next, I combined some cottege cheese, eggbeaters, salt a pepper in one bowl and tomato sauce, basil and oregano in another. Then, in a non-stick cooking sprayed crockpot, I layered the eggplant, cottege cheese and sauce. Four hours on high later, it was dinner time.

B loved it. She declared it “amazing” and had seconds. In fact, she loved it so much, that my poor side dish (pasta with a tomato sauce, zucchini, broccoli and mushrooms) was pronounced “meh.” It wasn’t that she didn’t like the pasta, she did. It was that it just didn’t hold up in comparison to the eggplant.

Here are some photos of the results:

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And, of course, here is the all-important recipe:

Eggplant Italian
Book: Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly – Healthy, Low-Fat Recipes for Your Slow Cooker by Phyllis Pellman Good
Recipe by: Melanie Thrower
Makes 6-8 servings
(Ideal slow-cooker size: 4 or 5 quart; and oval cooker works best)
  • 2 eggplants
  • 1/4 cup eggbeaters
  • 24 oz fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2-4 Tbsp Italian seasoning, according to your taste preference (I used 1Tbsp dried Oregano and 1Tbsp dried Basil)
  1. Peel eggplants and cut in 1/2″ thick slices. Soak in salt-water for about 5 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain well.
  2. Spray slow-cooker with fat-free cooking spray.
  3. Mix eggbeaters, cottage cheese, salt, and pepper together in bowl.
  4. Mix tomato sauce and Italian seasoning together in another bowl.
  5. Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce into the bottom of slow cooker. Top with about one-third of the eggplant slices, and then one-third of the egg/cheese mixture, and finally one-third of the remaining tomato sauce mixture.
  6. Repeat those layers twice, ending with seasoned tomato sauce.
  7. Cover. Cook on high 4 hours. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

Per Serving: 120 calories (10 calories from fat), 1g total fat (0g saturated, 0gtrans), 30mg cholesterol, 940mg sodium, 17g total carbohydrate (4g fiber, 11g sugar), 11g protein, 15% DV vitamin A, 4% DV vitamin C, 8% DV calcium, 4% DV iron.

Here’s wishing you good cooking!

Chef TechyDad

Ode To Quinoa

Usually, during Passover, your “bread” choices are limited. You have matzoh, matzoh and more matzoh. Leavened bread, rice, couscous, etc are all forbidden. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many rabbinical authorities permit Quinoa. Despite the box calling it a grain, Quinoa is actually a seed. It is related to beets and spinach, not wheat or rice. However, when cooked, it can act very much like a grain (specifically rice). It doesn’t rise though so there are no chametz issues.

[thumb id=731/]Anyway, I decided to try some Quinoa this year. For the second sedar, I made Quinoa pilaf. First I sauteed diced scallions, carrots, red pepper, and celery in olive oil for a few minutes. Then I tossed in the rinsed Quinoa. (It needs to be rinsed to wash off a bitter outside shell.) Finally, I poured in some chicken broth and let the whole thing simmer until the liquid was totally gone. This was a hit at the sedar. Nearly everyone took seconds of the Quinoa. The leftovers (which only existed because I made so much to begin with) were tasty too.

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Next, I tried some Breakfast Quinoa. For this one, I simply boiled the Quinoa in water. Once it was cooked, I added raisins, cinnamon, honey, and a little milk. We ate it like oatmeal. Not bad at all.

Below are some more photos of the Breakfast Quinoa:

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I’m not sure if I’ll make any more Quinoa before Passover ends, but I do have 2 more boxes and would like to try this Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa recipe that I found. Have you ever tried Quinoa? If so, do you have a favorite recipe?

Kids’ Culinary Frontiers

Every morning, I read the comics online.  I find it a good way to ease into my day.  Today’s Calvin and Hobbes struck me as all too familiar.  The scene (in case takes it down after 30 days) is set with Calvin asking his mother what’s for dinner.  Calvin’s mom responds "Tortellini."  Calvin, clutching his neck in disgust, yells "Oh, no.  Not Tortellini.  I hate tortellini!!  Oh, gross!  Yecch! Tortellini."  Pinching his nose shut, he continues: "Nothing is more disgusting than tortellini!! Can’t we have something else?"  When Calvin’s mom tells him "No", Calvin proceeds to the dictionary to look up just what Tortellini is.

This struck me as familiar.  I love to cook.  Often, I’ll try new things.  My most recent culinary experiments involve lentils.  Inevitably, however, NHL throws a huge stink over the food.  If it isn’t on his "approved foods list" (not available for parental viewing and subject to change without notice), he simply won’t eat it.  The most we can do is get him to agree to a "No Thank You" bite.  Of course, he then tries to pass off the minimum amount of food in his mouth as his No Thank You bite.  No, NHL, one solitary lentil in your mouth is not a "bite."  If we do coax/threaten him into eating, he’ll eat very little and then tell us he’s full.  Of course, two seconds later he asks if he can have dessert.  Kids must have Main Meal stomachs and Dessert stomachs because the former is inevitably full while the latter is on empty.

I’ve read The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious.  While I’ve tried some of those recipes to mixed success, I don’t like the idea of hiding the foods from my son.  I don’t want him growing up thinking that  chicken nuggets and pizza are the best foods out there and vegetables are to be avoided as much as possible.  I also don’t want to have to make two different menus every week: One for B and me and one for the kids.  While, I might give them a pass on some of my dishes (say the ones that go heavy on the heat), I want that to be the exception, not the rule.

I also want my kids growing up knowing that trying new foods is a good thing.  To this end, I’ve tried to break a long-time hatred I have for all things coconut.  (History Time: At a friend’s birthday party when I was young, I was served coconut cake.  That night, I got really sick.  It probably wasn’t the cake, but my young mind formed a strong bond between coconut and feeling awful.)  I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t like it, but I don’t loathe it anymore either.

How do you get your children to eat healthier?  How do you get them to eat what you put in front of them without hours of screaming back and forth?  Most of all, how can you get little ones (specifically ones 5 years and ones 19 months old) to try foods that they’ve never tried before without first assuming that they are going to taste awful?

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