Scallops on Baseball Night?
You think this dinner is the last thing you make on the night of a baseball game – not true. We had to be at baseball at 5:15PM so I served dinner at 4:45PM. Why not – who wants to eat at 8:30PM? Skip the attack of the snack drawer after school and eat early if you have to. Another idea for game night – next time you bake some chicken cutlets (find in “chicken” recipes), make some extra and throw them in the freezer for a quick meal. If you’re really in a pinch, you are better off making the kids scrambled eggs and toast than some processed frozen chemical dinner. I takes less time and is way better for them. Ask your two-year old how many ingredients are in an egg – even she can count to one.
Scallops: (Faster than chicken to grill)
- Pat dry scallops. Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on both sides.
- Grill for 3-5 minutes on each size (depending on size).
- Serve with fresh lemon or squeeze it right on!
Veggie Orzo (Warm, Cold or Room Temperature): Make some extra, it’s great for leftovers. You can add a little chicken or soy sauce to it the next day for lunch or toss it into a salad. Or you can eat it as a snack over your sink (my favorite).
- Cook Orzo (or any pasta) in salted water according to directions. Drain pasta and reserve about a cup of pasta water.
- Use same pot to cook a little garlic in EV olive oil. Throw in whatever veggies you have in the fridge (I try to use up everything on Thursday night). I cooked some snow peas, yellow and red pepper for about 10 minutes until cooked (firm but not mushy). I remove the garlic.
- Add some (1/4 cup) chicken broth or a little pasta water (and a splash of wine if you like) and some fresh lemon juice. Stir and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add pasta into the veggies and toss with a dash of salt/pepper and some parsley.
- Serve any temperature.
What Can the Kids Help With?
Did You Know:
- A scallop “swims” around opening and closing its shell compared to the oyster and clam which anchors itself permanently.
- Shell Oil uses the scallop shell on all their service station signs.
- Scallops are shucked from their shells on board the fishing boats.
- Sea Scallops are the big ones and Bay Scallops are the little ones. Diver scallops do not refer to the size but rather that they are hand-picked by divers (they do tend to be larger though).
Aunt Nana, Nanny, Mom, A. Margaret, Grandmom
“What’s That Smell?”
We have this wonderful little Asian Market in Ambler (across from Guiseppe’s pizza) where the variety of fish is expansive and the quality and freshness is incredible (Sunny’s). My husband, Mike, gets all the fish for the Seven Fishes dinner from there. He holds a fresh whole branzino right up to my nose and says “Smell it!”. I take a whiff and say, “I don’t smell anything”, to which he replies, “That’s right, baby!!”. apparently, the best sign of fresh fish is the smell, or lack there of. Smell is a funny thing, although it’s a curse if you are italian. My Aunt Nana (pronounced Nah-Nah) had a scent so strong, she made a bloodhound jealous. Unfortunately, many of the women in my family were blessed with this gift/curse. We would be sitting in church or out at a restaurant and my mother would literally and physically start gagging because someone with perfume walked by or a certain cleaning product was being used somewhere nearby. I sometimes get sad thinking how far removed my daughter is from all the strong female role models that have passed; my grandmothers, all my great-aunts and my mom. I wonder how will my daughter ever realize how lucky she is today – my grandmother only went to school until eighth grade and the sky is the limit for my Mia. Just when I feel that Mia’s genetic connection to these incredible women is as thin as a spider’s web, she turns to me last week in a restaurant and gags “Mommy, what’s that smell? It’s giving me a headache!”. I looked at her distraught face and thought, maybe she’s not as far removed as I thought.
This dinner takes less time to make than chicken nuggets and a box of mac n’ cheese.
Pan-Seared Halibut: I bought a larger piece of Halibut and a small piece of Salmon because Mia said she learned to like it at school (I don’t like Salmon but don’t tell her that).
- Pat your fish dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt/pepper and dash of sugar (this will help the fish brown nicely in the pan).
- Brown both sides of the fish in a little olive oil in a non-stick pan.
- Pop the whole pan in the oven for 5-10 more minutes to cook through.
- Squirt fresh lemon on it or serve it on the side.
- Pan fry asparagus in a pan with a little olive oil, salt/pepper, garlic, and ginger powder.
- Toss until almost cooked through. Cover and reduce heat until ready to serve.
Pasta with Squash: When I am in a rush (Mac had practice at 6PM), I make a quick pasta side dish and throw whatever veggie I have on hand in there.
- Cook pasta according to directions. Throw your veggies (I used green and yellow squash) in the pasta water the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Drain and toss with olive oil (or butter), salt/pepper, parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice.
A dash of salt, pepper and sugar
How Can the Kids Help?
- Mia sprinkled the fish with salt, pepper and sugar
- Add spices to the asparagus (watch out for the splashing oil when it’s frying)
- Add salt to pasta water and help cut veggies for pasta (can use a butter knife for squash)
- Test pasta and set the table
- Fun Game for Dinner: Close your eyes while someone feeds you a piece of green or yellow squash; guess which color!
Did You Know?
- Halibut has a life span of over 40 years or more – The largest Halibut caught was 459 pounds
- Fish is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids, and can reduce some problems associated with PMS, memory loss, cardiovascular functions, colon cancer, and stroke.
“Ready for the Next Atomic Bomb”
How many dinners could you make if, God forbid, you couldn’t make it to the store for days? What’s in your pantry now? Go look, really. Is a jar of pickles really going to help you at 6PM when even the thought of dinner hasn’t entered your mind yet? There are weeks I am at the food store 3 times and others where I am lucky if I go once. Of course I only go 3 times because I forget what I went to the store to buy the first 2 times. However, at any given time, I am prepared to cook for the troops in an emergency should my country call upon me. I try to keep the following meats on hand at all times:
- Bag of frozen cooked shrimp
- Thin Pork Chops and Chicken Cutlets (lay them flat in Ziplock freezer bags to defrost only what you need)
- 1 1/3 of ground turkey or beef
- Ham Steak
- Pork Tenderloin (usually comes in pack of 2 – separate before freezing in case you only need one)
If you keep a couple of bags of frozen veggies (e.g., corn, string beans, peas) and a box of pasta and rice, you are literally ready for battle any night. Just watch out for the spit balls!
Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli: You can use any pasta but I happened to have orecchiette. This pasta looks like little hats made for your fingers. This is ironic because that’s exactly how they are made. A little pasta dough is wrapped around the tip of a finger to make the shape just right.
- Cook broccoli florets in a pot of salted water. Remove broccoli with strainer and set aside in your serving bowl.
- Cook the pasta in the same boiling water. Drain pasta and set aside.
- Heat EV olive oil in the pot with a little garlic (if you like) and cook the shrimp.
- Add some parmesan cheese, drop of lemon juice (fresh, bottled or zest) and stir. Add a drop of water or chicken broth if too thick.
- Pour broccoli and pasta back into the pot and stir everything together. Add salt/pepper and cheese to taste.
Salad: Sometimes you just don’t have fresh lettuce so toss some raw baby carrots in a bowl and let the kids dip them in some dressing.
How Can the Kids Help?
- Fill the pasta pot with water (teach how much) and add salt
- Pour pasta in pot and set timer (they can tell you when the timer goes off – they think you don’t hear the beeping)
- Sprinkle dinner with parmesan cheese
- Put carrots in little bowl and pick dipping sauce
- Count by 1’s to get the fish to his bowl: http://www.printactivities.com/Mazes/Math-Mazes/Fish-CountingBy1s.shtml
Did You Know?
- McDonalds distributes more toys each year than Toys R Us
- 40% of American meals are eaten outside the home
- Each day 1 in 4 Americans visits a fast food restaurant
- French fries are the most eaten vegetable in America
- Watch “How to make orechiette” on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk34jkzVZYs
I was doing some research today on “kid dinners” and “family-friendly dinners” and was really surprised. I was excited when I saw a handful of sites that catered to just this type of cooking. But upon further review I was a bit disgusted at the menus (really?! Peanut Butter & Jelly Pizza!). I asked myself, “Why are we trying to disguise our food so much for the sake of our children?”. Are the taste of sweet potatoes with butter really that offending? Are green beans with a little olive oil so vile? God forbid the kids recognize the food they’re eating! What’s next, Barbie clothes on bananas?
- Make one bowl for flour, one for beaten eggs, and one for breadcrumbs (sometimes I mix the flour and breadcrumbs to cut down a step)
- I cut the fish (I used Cod) into pieces and Mia did the rest (1st dip in flour, then dip in egg, then dip in italian breadcrumbs)
- Brush a little EVOO on parchment paper and spread out the fish pieces out on the baking sheet. Brush oil from pan onto top of fish fingers.
- Bake on 400 for 20 minutes
PASTA (I only had 1/2 cup of orzo so I added 1/2 cup of Israeli Cous Cous to it – both cook 8-10 minutes). Keep in mind that this type of cous cous is just a tiny pasta pearl.
- Cook pasta according to directions. Drain pasta and leave in the colander.
- Cook a little bit of fresh garlic in olive oil in the pasta pot for a minute or two.
- Add some spinach, pepper and a squirt of lemon juice in the pot and toss around. Add the pasta and a little sprinkle of parm. cheese and stir.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH: Cut the short ends off and then slice once long ways in half. Clear the seeds and poke with a fork or knife. Put each half in a piece of tin foil. Pour a little EV olive oil or butter on the top, add some salt, pepper and rosemary and close the tin foil. Bake at 400 for approx. 45 minutes (depending on size).
- The asparagus was thick so not only did I cut the ends off but I used a peeler on the bottom part of the stalk too
(my mom’s trick so they wouldn’t be too stringy).
- Layer half to the left and half to the right of a baking dish.
- Toss with EV Olive oil, salt and pepper and bake with fish for 20 minutes.
Salad: Not enough colors in your dinner? Add some yellow or red pepper to your romaine salad tonight. Also, be sure to mix your dressing for everyone – it just tastes better than adding your own!
- Dip in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs!
How the Kids Can Help:
- Teach them how to crack the eggs and beat them with a whisk or fork
- Help pour breadcrumbs in the bowl
- I cut fish into pieces and let Mia do ALL the dipping
- Brush top of fish with leftover oil on baking sheet to get top golden brown
- Add/stir spinach and lemon juice into pasta (add a special sprinkle of parm. cheese on top)
- Let all the kids squirt juice from lemon wedges onto fish pieces at dinner
- Count Total Dinner Colors = 6: White fish, Orange Squash, Dark Green Spinach and Asparagus, Yellow Pepper, Light Green = Romaine
- Lots of fish activity and coloring sheets: http://www.lessonsense.com/fish/downloadfish.html
Did You Know?
- The English serve their Fish n’ Chips with salt and vinegar on Newspaper wrapped in a brown bag.
- In 1995, the British consumed an astonishing 300 million servings of fish and chips – that equates to six servings for every man woman and child in the country.
- The British invented the “Fish” and the French invented the “chips” (aka french fries).
Every year around Christmas my husband (yes my husband) cooks the Italian 7 Fishes and it is amazing! The reason for 7 is still under debate. Some say that the 7th day is for rest, others say that it represents the 7 sacraments. It is a special evening with lots of food, wine, family and love. This swordfish recipe originated from our last 7 fishes. I may look fancy but is SO EASY and one of my kids absolute favorites!
- SWORDFISH: Cut large piece of swordfish in half and place on parchment paper. Put a clove or two of garlic on top, drop of EV olive oil, salt/pepper, and squeeze some lemon juice on top. Twist paper to close and bake for 15 minutes at 350.
- ISRAELI COUS COUS: This is simply baby pasta circles. Cook 1/2 onion til soft in pot with drop of EVOO. Add shiitake mushrooms and cous cous and stir for a minute. Add 2 cups of boiling water (or chicken broth) and cover, cook for 10 minutes.
This is how I got my kids to like shiitake mushrooms. I started with small pieces until they developed the taste. Now they like them in everything!
- SPINACH: Drop some EVOO in large pan and cook some onions and shiitake mushrooms (optional) for a minute. For extra flavor add a splash of white wine and cook for another minute. Add bag of spinach, dash of salt/pepper and cook 3-4 mins. or until soft.
Keep a bag of frozen shrimp in your freezer for a quick meal.
1. Cook 1 pound of pasta in salted water. Drain and save cooking water.
1. Defrost, dry, and salt/pepper about a pound of shrimp. Heat 2 TBS of butter in hot pan and cook shrimp for 2 minutes on each side. Set aside Shrimp.
2. Heat 2 cloves of garlic in 2 TBS of EV olive oil, add juice from 1 lemon and 1/2 cup of white wine. Let boil for 2-3 minutes.
Add red pepper flakes and parsley for flavor and color if desired. I added some fresh spinach for color.
3. Add pasta to shrimp with a little pasta water if needed. Sprinkle with salt/pepper and a drop of EV olive oil for taste. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!.
Add a salad for a complete meal! My 9 year old son said “I like the combinations, mom!”.