Offense or Defense

In sports, players all have their positions. It’s the same in life. We all have roles to play. Some we learn and some we just fall into based on our natural talents.

Super Bowl Sunday at our house is no exception, it’s a team effort. The boys all get on the couch, Liam and Dylan on one cushion and Matthew, as the more experienced player, commands his own cushion or the big brown chair. I am official chef and coordinator of meal time. Brian is the coach and keeper of the remote. As game time approaches, all players enthusiastically get in their respective positions. When it comes time to eat, the boys perform as well as any professional athlete. And the older they get the more seasoned they become, which translates to huge grocery bills!

It’s tradition to serve chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday, and this is not the day to make a new play, so I stick to the game book. This year I’m trying an Asian twist. Let’s see what my team thinks…

Miso Glazed Chicken Wings

Ingredients

3 Tbsp yellow miso

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, about 1” grated

2 Tbsp sugar

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3-4 lbs chicken wings, split at joints, tips removed

Method

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the first eight ingredients.

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Toss chicken wings into miso marinade and toss well to coat. Refrigerate overnight or for up to two hours.

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a baking rack on top.

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Place the wings on the baking rack. Roast in oven until caramelized and chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken wings.

Serve immediately or during halftime show.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Awesome – did you soak these in something?”

Liam (age 5): “Love these chickens”

Dylan (age 5): “These rock!”

Score!

Luvo Flatbreads – Product Review

healthy-frozen-meals-logo-retina

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get food from a box that was not filled with preservatives and chemicals? Believe it or not a company called Luvo has developed a line of convenience foods that accomplishes just that. Normally, boxed frozen food leaves much to be desired, in my opinion, and I prefer to limit our intake of processed foods as much as possible. (That being said I won’t pretend there aren’t a few boxes of mac and cheese in my pantry.) So I was excited to try Luvo and see if they delivered on the promise of healthy, great-tasting, and convenient food.

ABOUT LUVO

Luvo was founded on a simple idea: people should love their food – how it tastes, how it encourages a healthier lifestyle, and how it supports a more sustainable planet. Part of their mission is to support farmers and suppliers with people-, animal- and planet-friendly practices. The company uses anti-biotic free meat and poultry, and non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.

THE TASTING

Our shipment of Luvo flatbreads contained six varieties: Apple Cinnamon Ricotta, Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta, Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion & Mushroom, and Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella.

We decided to sample the breakfast flatbreads the very next day. I was looking forward to simply turning on the oven and just popping the flatbreads in. No buttering toast or cutting fruit! I envisioned a peaceful morning with time to linger over a cup of coffee before getting the kids off to school.

The Verdict is:

Although cooking these breakfast flatbreads was convenient I’m not sure if they would work in our house during the school week. Between the cooking and heating and cooling phase, it took a little over 20 minutes. A lot longer than it takes for toast. However, they would make a great option for the weekend and I did get to enjoy my coffee while they were cooking!

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

The Apple Cinnamon was a little too sweet and the boys thought it would be better suited as dessert instead of a breakfast choice. But everyone loved the bread and ate most of the crust edges.

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

I really liked this one but I was in the minority. Too much green for breakfast was the consensus. Again, it was all about the wood-fired crust which crisped up beautifully in the oven. So far I was sold but the boys were not yet convinced…

Next up were the appetizer flatbreads:

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

These got much better reviews and some of the comments were:

“I like the pizza one”

“Too many little vegetable parts”

“Bread is best part”

“Pizza is my favorite”

“Did Derek Jeter really cook these?”

The Tomato and Mozzarella was the clear winner. I thought all flavors were delicious and I would definitely serve them as an appetizer at our next party. I plan on keeping a few in my freezer on hand for the holidays. They were so easy! Just simply cut them up and drizzle with the balsamic glaze for a great presentation.

Where can I find Luvo products?

Luvo products are sold in major supermarkets. Visit Luvo Inc. to find a store near you. Price for flatbreads range from $4.99 to $5.99 for a box of two. Besides flatbreads, the company also makes burritos, breakfast and dinner entrees.

And if your kids aren’t convinced try telling them about Luvo’s latest partnership with Derek Jeter, who joined the company as Brand Development Officer. My boys were definitely impressed and I believe it was the reason they were willing to try the Market Vegetable version!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

Dim Sum Yum

dim sum

/ˈdim ˈsəm/

Noun
A Chinese dish of small steamed or fried savory dumplings containing various fillings, served as a snack or main course.

Used to be one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday was head to Chinatown for dim sum. When Matthew was two we tried taking him. The only thing he would eat was the Jell-O because it came with a little umbrella. I was so grateful to that umbrella! Back then I always had a stale bagel or mushed up cereal bar at the bottom of the diaper bag so he certainly didn’t starve.

Now that all three boys know what a dumpling is I decided it was time to take the plunge again. I recruited Candice, my dim sum partner in crime, packed up the minivan and headed to the Silver Palace.

What a difference three years makes! As the carts laden with little plates of exotic food came rambling by our choices seemed endless. They ate it all, I didn’t even have to resort to the little umbrella. We dined almost an hour until the noise level at our table exceeded our waiters’ patience – signaling our exit.

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Last stop, a hole-in-the-wall bakery to indulge in some seriously large almond cookies. Then time to part ways – I packed the boys back in the minivan and headed back to the burbs and Candice headed home for some aspirin!

Shrimp Balls with Dipping Sauce (adapted from recipe by Anne Burrell)

Although most dim sum recipes call for deep-frying there are certainly several easy enough to make at home that can be baked or steamed instead. I opted for shrimp balls – the ones we had in Chinatown were fried, but this baked version came out almost as good, and were surprisingly simple.

Ingredients:

Shrimp Balls:

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated

3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 egg white

1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 (12-ounce) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp Asian chile sauce (optional)

1/2-cup panko breadcrumbs

 

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4-cup rice wine vinegar

1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, grated

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp Asian chile sauce (optional)

 

Directions:

For the shrimp balls:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make life easier you can do most prep day before -just cover and refrigerate.

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Combine all the shrimp ball ingredients in a large bowl, except the panko breadcrumbs. Stir to thoroughly combine. Working in 3 batches, pulse the mix in a food processor until it becomes a coarse paste. Transfer each batch to a bowl. Do not overcrowd the processor bowl. When all the shrimp has been pulsed and transferred to a bowl, stir in the panko breadcrumbs until thoroughly combined.

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Working with wet hands, roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. Place the shrimp balls on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

For the dipping sauce:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together to combine. (can be made ahead and refrigerated in air-tight container)

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 5): “Man, these balls are so good”

Liam (age 4): “These are not so special”

Dylan (age 4): “I like the ones in Chinatown better but sauce is good”

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Weight Watchers

When I was in college I gained the Freshman 15, along with most of my friends (except for one of us, you know who you are KJ!) The food served at the cafeteria was terrible but since it was in abundance, most of us ate way too much. So the summer before sophomore year my friend and I joined Weight Watchers and managed to stay at a healthy weight through to graduation. We used to spend hours in the kitchen making up ways to get broccoli to taste as good as those fries they served in the Cellar, our local hangout.

When I became a mother those extra pounds came in the form of baby weight not beer weight. I had to draw on all those creative meals my friend and I made that summer to get back in shape, especially after having twins! Recently, that same friend, who is back on Weight Watchers (a great program, in my opinion) sent me a picture of something she had made and the corresponding points. It made me nostalgic for that summer we spent mixing up our concoctions and meticulously adding up our points for the day.

So my inspiration this week comes from those fun days in our campus kitchen. After last week’s eggplant debacle I was hoping to turn out a dish the boys would actually eat. I should clarify that I am absolutely not putting my boys on Weight Watchers (I do not advocate putting children on diets.) If my kids are eating real food with fresh ingredients, for the MOST part, that is what matters to me.  Now, let’s see if they will eat shrimp!

Shrimp Crostini

Ingredients:

12 slices, french baguette, sliced on diagonal, 1/2 inch thick

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 roasted pepper, yellow or red, peeled and seeded

2 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded

2 Tbsp Parmesan, grated

1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh

Salt & Pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

12 large shrimp, precooked, cut into bite size pieces

1 tsp parsley, plus more for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Toast bread, approximately 8-10 minutes, remove from oven and set aside.

If you have the time and inclination to roast the pepper it is super easy and tastes so much better. Otherwise store-bought is fine! To roast peppers simply place them directly on your stovetop with a medium-high flame. Turn frequently with tongs until charred and slightly soft to the touch. Place in plastic freezer bag for 10 minutes to steam, peel away charred skin and take out seeds.

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Combine pepper, tomatoes, Parmesan, 1 Tbsp olive oil, and lemon juice in food processor. Blend until a chunky paste, salt and pepper to taste.

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Meanwhile, heat the last Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the pepper tomato mixture and cook down about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and parsley for the last minute just to heat through.

Spoon shrimp mixture on top of toast and garnish with remaining parsley.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “It’s a home run!”

Dylan: “I like the shrimp and the bread, but not the seaweed. It is a little messy”

Liam: “Can I have Dylan’s? This is the best thing I ever ate!”

Wow, sometimes my kids surprise me… And if anyone reading this can figure out how many points are in these crostini, I would love to know!

Rites of Passage

As much as my husband would love it, the boys are just not ready to hang around on a Sunday afternoon watching football. I have absolutely no doubt it is our future but for now Brian patiently waits and surrenders the TV to the latest Kung Fu Panda episode.

With the Super Bowl on the horizon we thought it would be fun to take the boys out to one of the local wings joints. Our plan was to watch the playoffs and the boys could eat wings to their hearts delight. They were so excited to be partaking in this manly Sunday ritual. In retrospect, perhaps our expectations were a bit too high.

The boys were all swagger walking up to the restaurant but upon entering were completely overwhelmed by the noise and crowds. Once we adjusted to the decibel level and placed our wing order things started looking up. And when they got a juice box things got better and better… until the wings arrived. Piping hot and smothered in sauce – the boys eagerly went to try them. Although we ordered the mildest version, you could almost see smoke coming out of their ears. All three simultaneously started crying and yelling for water. Disaster – but happily an order of hot dogs and fries fixed the situation fairly quickly.

To restore their love of chicken wings, I decided to make a very UNspicy, sweet version of wings this week. We can ease into the spicy stuff down the road a bit!

Sweet Honey Balsamic Wings

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 lbs chicken wings (split at joints, tips removed)

1 Tbsp melted butter

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable oil.  In a large bowl mix the flour with the salt and pepper. And the wings and toss to coat. Place the chicken on the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 45 minutes, turning once.

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In a large bowl, whisk melted butter, balsamic vinegar and honey; toss with the roasted wings.

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Serve with carrots – hold the blue cheese sauce!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: These are deeeelicious!

Liam: Yeah, these are deeeelicious! What happens if you eat a bone?

Dylan: These are deeeeyummy! I’m giving the bones to Mackie (our cat)

And order is restored. The boys ate the entire 2 lbs of wings – when I suggested saving some for Daddy they told me to make another batch for him – they were eating them all!