Just Add Water

Okay, I do love to cook but this dinner thing every night for three unpredictable little boys is taking its toll. And let’s not even get into the school lunches (and snacks), three a day, five times a week. At my last trip to the supermarket I was so tempted to just buy a family size pack of instant ramen noodles. A) Because I know my kids would love them, and B) because it was instant! Instant happiness for all! No prep, no clean-up, no tantrums at the table.

Back in my college days, when life was simpler, this was practically all I ate. Sometimes just as a soup, like the package directions dictate. Other times, my roommates and I would get fancy and add some rotisserie chicken. If we were on a health kick some broccoli went into the mix. Shrimp, chicken, beef and pork were the flavor options, although I believe they all tasted the same. Somehow I never seemed to tire of the salty dish, hopefully I didn’t do any long term damage to my body with all of those preservatives.

I didn’t think much about sodium, preservatives or fat grams back then so I never bothered checking the nutritional label of my favorite cuisine. The manufacturers are kind of sneaky because in their minds, ½ a package is a serving so the package actually has twice the fat and sodium listed. But let’s be honest, who eats only ½ of that package??? Little did I know I was consuming 14 grams of fat and 1580 mg of sodium! Yikes – no wonder I gained so much weight freshman year!

Although I’m sure my kids will discover the joys of instant noodles when they head off to college, this week I’m trying a healthier version.

Pork Ramen Bowl

Ingredients

1-1/2 lb. pork tenderloin

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce, plus extra for seasoning

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp Chinese five spice

1 package Chinese noodles or rice vermicelli

1 quart chicken broth, low-sodium

3 large button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin

3 scallions, cut into small rings

½ cup snow peas, cut in thirds

Method

Cut the pork tenderloin into eight pieces, approximately 1” thick. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and five spice until the sugar is dissolved. Reserve ½ of the marinade and add the rest to a plastic zip-lock bag with the pork tenderloin. Let marinade for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and a baking rack. Remove pork from marinade and place on the rack. Brush with the reserved marinade.

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Cook for about 25-30 minutes, brushing with marinade once or twice. Cook until internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees. Let rest for about 10 minutes and slice thinly. This step can be done ahead, pork can be kept refrigerated for 3-4 days.

Meanwhile cook package of noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and set aside. I found these in my local market and they were a great alternative to the instant noodles.

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In a large saucepan, heat up chicken broth to a simmer. Add in sliced mushrooms, scallions, and snow peas. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

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Now you are ready to assemble! In a large soup bowl, add a heap of noodles and some slices of pork. Pour hot broth over the noodles and add soy sauce to taste. Serve with chopsticks and a spoon!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Wish there was no soup, only noodles and pork”

Liam (age 5): “It smells yummy”

Dylan (age 5): “No, it smells funny”

Noodles and pork were a hit, even though it was smelly!

For my local readers:

Fairway Market will be holding a National Eating Healthy Day cooking demo in  Pelham Manor (847 Pelham Parkway) on Wednesday, November 5th from 12pm to 2pm. This year’s theme is fruits and vegetables and customers can learn how to prepare kale and butternut squash salad and Moroccan quinoa. On this day, Americans are encouraged to commit to healthier eating. Celebrating National Eating Healthy Day is fun and easy! The American Heart Association will provide a complete toolkit of materials and how-to information for workplaces, schools, individuals and community organizations.

 

Pumpkin Aren’t Just For Carving

Don’t just carve your pumpkins this year – eat the seeds too!

See our feature on Lohud.com: Small Bites to find out how:

A fun, easy and messy recipe to make with your kids -

Curry Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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Harvesting pumpkin seeds

 

Bottom Of The Barrel

Wondering what to do with those last few apples at the bottom of the barrel? I had about six bruised and battered apples left from our trip to the orchard. I hated to throw these forgotten few on the compost pile so I decided to make a batch of apple pie topping. This was so easy and it can be used on everything from ice cream to pancakes, to granola.

Apple Pie Topping

Ingredients

1 1/2 Tbsp butter

6 apples, peeled and diced

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Method

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apples to the melted butter and stir to coat. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.

Cook until the apples soften but are not mushy, about 5-7 minutes. Serve warm over some pancakes. Or let cool and top your favorite ice cream. Your kids will probably prefer the ice cream option…

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Put mine on the side!”

Liam (age 5): “Thumbs middle”

Dylan (age 5): “Just ice cream!”

Who cares about the verdict – I used up all the apples!!!

Any other ideas for cooking those last few apples? Please share!

Happy Belated Birthday to Us!

House of Bedlam turns 2 this year! We’ve been so busy with soccer and hockey we almost forgot to celebrate. We’ve jumped many food hurdles this past year and I’m looking forward to concocting more recipes for my little crew to sample. So far this year, we’ve mastered broccoli, tackled carrots, dabbled in tofu, made our own ice cream and cooked many stellar chicken nugget recipes. Our goals for the year ahead will be banning the words “yuck”, “disgusting”, and “eewww” from the dinner table. Still a serious work in progress but I’m hopeful it will happen one of these days…

In keeping with tradition this birthday post will be a recipe using, you guessed it, apples. Fall is picking season so we’re flush with fruit from our annual orchard excursion. And since my kids have begged me to stop giving them apples in their lunchboxes I have many to spare. As always, I face the same challenge; what to do with all this fruit before it rots? There are only so many apples you can bring to teachers. And our attempts to give a few to our neighbors did not go well – they have their own bushels to get rid of.

Instead of sweet, I went savory. And in the process I learned that hot fruit is not so kid-friendly. Although, in my opinion, this recipe is worth trying again, it was yummy. Maybe less apple though….

Pork & Apples Sausage

Ingredients

I medium sized apple, finely diced

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

1 lb. ground pork

1 ½ Tbsp. fennel seeds, finely chopped

1 ½ Tbsp. fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

Method

Heat a large skillet on medium to high heat and add 1 Tbsp. of the oil. Sauté the apples until soft but not mushy, about 3-4 minutes. Remove apples from pan, set aside to cool. Wipe out skillet.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine pork, fennel, sage, brown sugar, salt and pepper, and apples. Form into 1” balls and then flatten into patties.

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Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. In small batches (don’t crowd the pan) add the patties and brown on both sides. About 5-6 minutes per side depending on the thickness.

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Remove cooked patties and drain on paper towels. The pieces of apple that fall loose from the cooked patties will caramelize and are delicious. Scoop those up to garnish the sausage. Enjoy!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Don’t like it”

Liam (age 5): “It’s too squishy”

Dylan (age 5): “Don’t like the onion part”

If your kids don’t like these, not to worry, save them as leftovers for Sunday breakfast, they are great with poached eggs!

To our followers, old and new (all 600 of you!), a big thank you for following along with us this past year. We appreciated every comment, Facebook like, and retweet!

Funny Food – Book Review

I’m always screaming at gently reminding my children not to play with their food. But that was before we met Bill and Claire Wurtzel, authors of Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts at their recent workshop at Fairway Market.

Author Bill Wurtzel displays his art

Author Bill Wurtzel displays his art

Bill and Claire Wurtzel have discovered a unique way to get kids to eat a healthy breakfast. And they have documented their creative approach in a colorful book worthy of the coffee table. Besides the stunning photography the book is filled with nutritional information, tips on healthy cooking and fun food facts. Can you guess what arachibutyrophobia means?

Inhaling our edible art

Inhaling our edible art

The chapters are broken down by food groups that are easy to cook and recognizable to children of all ages. But there are no rules – use your own favorite foods, as long as they are healthy and nutritious. You’ll be surprised when you see your kids eat their edible creations with gusto. Spinach hair or cucumber buttons will no longer be a dreaded vegetable but a thing of beauty that they made!

Goofing around at the workshop

Goofing around at the workshop

After attending the workshop we were anxious to put our book into practice and create our own silly art at home. We started with the egg section (anyone can boil an egg, right?) and things got off to a fantastic start. As with most things around our house, breakfast spun a little out of control, (our edible art made it to the floor as well as the plate) but in the end they did have a healthy meal.

Mr. Potato Head

Mr. Potato Head

Egg & Bread man

Egg & Bread man

I would highly recommend this book to any parent looking for ways to get their kids into the kitchen and excited about food. Check for a Funny Food workshop being held in your neighborhood and meet the duo behind this wonderful book or visit the website to purchase a copy.