Category Archives: Side Dishes

Caponata (Veggie Stew)

Kid Swap

I was watching the show “Wife Swap” the other day and I had an idea (uh-oh). What if they did a Kid Swap?  What if you sent a terrible eater (assuming no food allergies or sensory issues) for 2 weeks to a family that provides only one healthy family dinner?  The interesting part of this experiment is that when it is not your child, the anxiety and emotion is removed.  It’s a heck of a lot easier to say to a child that is not your own, “oh well, too bad you don’t like dinner, maybe you’ll eat breakfast”.  Assuming the dinners were simply prepared, fresh foods, do you think the child would starve?  It would be like a food boot camp.  Only instead of 100 push-ups, the child would be given fresh roasted chicken and vegetables with rice.  Who’s interested?  I live at 234 Main Street……potty trained please.

Caponata (quick Italian Veggie Stew)

This is a traditional Italian dish but I simplified the recipe and the flavors to accommodate families of all ages.  It’s a great side dish or spoon this over barley or brown rice for a hearty meal.  This is so great in the winter and re-heats perfectly the next day for lunch.

  • Cook ½ onion and 2 garlic cloves in about 3-4 TBS of olive oil in a heavy pot.
  • Cook until soft about 6-7 minutes.
  • Add 1 peeled/diced eggplant and 3 peeled/diced zucchini and 1 bell pepper (any color).
  • Cut up and add 4-5 tomatoes (these will break down when cooked – could also use 1 can of diced tomatoes).
  • Add 2 TSP salt and 1 TSP pepper and some basil (fresh, 1 TSP of powdered or 1 TBS from a tube).
  • Cook until soft at least 10-15 minutes.  Add some water or broth if it gets too dry – should look like a tomato-based stew.

Note:  This dinner warms your soul and is a perfect meal for your toddler!  You can also add celery, carrot and/or mushrooms to this recipe.

Barley

  • Barley takes a while to cook but it’s worth it – so nutritious.  It’s like pasta but so much better!
  • TIP:  Put a paper towel between the top of the pot and the lid to absorb the moisture – this will make your barley/rice fluffier.

What Can the Kids Do?

  • Smash the garlic.
  • Use a chopper to chop up the onion.
  • Learn how to use a peeler (if ready) and help peel the zucchini (soft skin).
  • Set the table and get the drinks.

Did You Know?

  • Many Caponata recipes are made with olives, celery and capers and traditionally have more of a sweet and sour taste.  Some versions of the recipe include octopus or swordfish.
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Sausage Stuffing and Home-made Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving Kids Meal

I love Thanksgiving because nobody serves kid food at this meal.  There is simply no time or room in the oven for chicken nuggets.  The kids actually eat the simply prepared foods such as the turkey, corn and sweet potatoes.  You can have one meal for everyone (at least one day of the year)!!!

Two of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes are 1) Sausage Stuffing and 2) Cranberry-Pear Relish.  I have wonderful memories of my mom teaching me how to clean and prepare the turkey and make the stuffing.  Now, I enjoy cooking and teaching my younger cousin how to prepare these special dishes.  Thanksgiving is not just about the food but the traditions and memories associated with the meal.  What Thanksgiving traditions will your children cherish?  I hope you enjoy these recipes and that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sausage Stuffing

I always make a double batch for 12-15 people.

1)  Take 1/2 lb of Italian sausage out of casing and fry in a large pot, chopping into small bits until cooked through.  Move sausage to plate and set aside.

2)  In the same pot, heat 1 stick of butter and add the following veggies, cook until softened:

  • 1 ½ cups of chopped onions
  • 2 cups of peeled and chopped celery
  • 1 Tsp of Salt and ½ Tsp of pepper
  • 2 Tsp of Poultry Seasoning (or fresh sage, rosemary and thyme)
  • Optional:  1/2 cup of mushrooms and/or 1/4 cup of fennel (use top of fennel called “fronds” for added flavor)

3)  Once veggies are softened, remove from heat and add:

  • 1 bag of bread cubes (12 ozs)
  • ¼ cup of fresh chopped parsley
  • Cooked Sausage

4.  Gradually add about 2 cups of chicken broth and stir until moistened adding more broth as needed. Should be moistened but not soaking wet.

5.  Place in sprayed baking dish.  You can refrigerate for 1-2 days.  Heat on 350 for 30 minutes (add about 1/4 cup of chicken broth before heating if looks dry).

Cranberry Pear Relish

1)  Bring 1 ½ cups of sugar and ½ cup of water to a boil for 5 minutes.

2)  Add the following and cook on Med/High:

*  1 bag of cranberries (12 oz)
*  2 peeled and diced pears (or 1 can)
*   1 small can of mandarin oranges
*   1/2 Tsp of cinnamon
*  1/2 Tsp of Orange or Lemon zest

3)  Stir and continue cooking until thick like jam (about 15 minutes).  If sauce starts to stick to the pan, reduce heat to Medium.  Press and “pop” all the cranberries.  Cook until smooth and much of the water is absorbed.

4)  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or days.  This will thicken in the fridge.

Don’t forget to prepare a timeline of tasks to be done to ensure that everything is HOT and ready to serve at the same time – the biggest challenge!