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!

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.

 

Ooooh Mommy?

Umami /ˈmɑːmi/, a savory taste

Want to have a hilarious conversation with your children at dinner time? Try explaining the concept of umami to them. The discussion will quickly resemble the comedy routine “Who’s on First?” by Abbott & Costello. Sort of like this: “Oooh what?” followed by “Mommy who?” followed by “Oooooh Mommy?” You get the point…

Umami, a Japanese word, can be translated as a “pleasant savory taste”. It’s considered one of the five basic taste categories, along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. In technical terms, the umami flavor is imparted by glutamate, a type of amino acid, and ribonucleotides, which occur naturally in many foods. Way too abstract for my kids (or me) to understand so we settled on umami to mean just plain yummy or extra extra delicious.

Obviously, the best way to explain this concept was to cook a dish rich in umami flavor. When I ran down a list of potential ingredients (mushrooms, tomatoes, parmesan, soy beans, fish sauce, anchovies) I could tell I had some serious skeptics on my hands. Still, I was curious to see how it would go. At the very least it will make for some amusing dinner commentary!

Umami Noodles

Ingredients

1 pkg. rice vermicelli

2 Tbsp sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup portobella mushrooms, roughly chopped into bite-size pieces

1 cup shitake or oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped

2 cups, chicken stock, low-sodium

1/3 cup soy sauce, low-sodium

2 Tbsp fish sauce

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp chili garlic paste, optional

1 package extra firm tofu, drained, cut into 1” cubes

1 cup broccolini, about ½ bunch, cut into 1” pieces, stem and florets

Crunchy lo-mein noodles, optional garnish

 

Method

Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water, and add to large mixing bowl. Set aside.

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Meanwhile, heat sesame oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, just until fragrant, do not brown. Add the mushrooms and cook until they caramelize, about 10 minutes.

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Add chicken broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, pepper, and chili paste, scraping bottom of pan for any brown bits.

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Add tofu and broccolini, cover and simmer for about five minutes, until broccolini is tender.

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Remove from heat and pour mushroom tofu mixture over rice noodles. Toss to coat, the noodles will soak up most of the sauce. Serve hot or cold. Top with crunchy noodles and see if your kids can taste the umami!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “Is this goat cheese?” “I can taste flavor”

Liam: “Tofu tastes like chicken”

Dylan: “Thumbs up then thumbs down”

Did they notice the umami? Absolutely not… but they did try the tofu!

 

Bean Olympics

Not sure exactly who threw the gauntlet down first but the other night at dinner the boys had a serious string bean showdown. Someone dared Liam to eat a bean and it took off from there. Facing the peer pressure of both brothers he choked down a string bean to the cheers of the crowd. Not to be undone Matthew quickly raised the bar and ate two string beans. Well, Dylan, the major underdog surprised us all by eating five string beans at once. The crowd went wild!

Being of a competitive nature, Matthew couldn’t let his gold medal slip away to a younger, unseasoned, competitor. He ate another five and added the longest bean on his plate to make it an even six. Dylan was determined to defend his title and even the score so he, too, ate six beans! It was one of the most exciting sporting events I have ever witnessed.

Matthew and Dylan each walked away with a gold medal and Liam took the bronze! I claimed the silver for eating all the beans they left on their plates.

Peanut Butter Beans

1 pound of green beans, edges trimmed

1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice, about 1/2 a small lime

1/2 Tbsp peanut butter

1/2 Tbsp sesame oil

Sesame seeds (optional)

 

In a large saucepan bring some lightly salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, lime juice, peanut butter, and sesame oil until combined. Drop the beans into the boiling water for about two minutes until they turn bright green.Drain well.

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Add the hot green beans to the soy mixture and toss to coat.

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Sprinkle with sesame seeds and double dare your kids to eat them!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Oooh, yum, wow”

Liam (age 4): “I like the peanut butter best”

Dylan (age 4): “Better than the peanut butter is the salt – I am the champion right?”

Although not an Irish dish, we made this recipe in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day – green is green after all!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from House of Bedlam!

Carrot Touchdown

We didn’t have a Super Bowl party this year; it was more of a tailgating picnic on our living room floor. And even though we did make chicken wings for the “party” I figured nobody wanted to read about yet another chicken wing recipe the week leading up to game day. But I will definitely post the recipe in the next few months as the wings came out so good my only problem was not having enough. How did I know that 2lbs of chicken would not be a sufficient amount for three children under the age of seven? Lesson learned…

This might sound hard to believe but the carrots I made to go with the wings also got inhaled. Maybe it was because we went skiing that day and the boys were starving? Maybe they were just so excited to be eating in front of the TV? Maybe they wanted to make me happy so I would let them stay up to watch the whole game? Who knows? I don’t care, but I am definitely going to be trying these again.  Even though the Super Bowl was not very memorable this year, these carrots certainly were. Sorry Bronco fans…

Honey Roasted Carrots

Ingredients

8-10 carrots, peeled and cut into 3” pieces

3 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp fresh orange juice

 

Method

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook until they are fork tender. Drain the carrots and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Meanwhile in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil, soy sauce and orange juice. Toss in the carrots and coat well.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the carrots in a single layer. Roast in the oven until caramelized, about 15-18 minutes depending on the thickness of the carrots. At midpoint of roasting give the baking sheet a shake to rotate the carrots.

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Serve hot or cold.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “A little too mushy…”

Liam (age 4): “More carrot fries!”

Dylan (age 4)” “Why does Liam get more than me?”

What did you eat while watching the big game?