Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One-Hundred and Sixteen (Saturday Night Boredom Fever)

The snow is unending this winter.  I can't believe I complained about the hot weather this summer....if only I could turn back the clock!

Venturing outside, unless you are a polar bear, simply isn't fun.  The kids have been going a little stir crazy so we have been trying to entertain them.  Unfortunately, the cheap craft from Target didn't work ..... and a ride to LLBean can take you only so far....and t.v. is getting boring....

The kids were mulling over some ideas...."What can we DO???? We are SOOOO Bored!!"  Well, I wasn't feeling particularly creative as I have been in the throws of planning my whirlwind trip to NYC, praying that there will not be flight delays.

I have been promising my friend Frank that I would make him fitayers, but have broken my many promises to ship some, so I said I would make them for the trip.  The problem is that it is Sunday night,  the trip is Monday morning, and there not a fitayer was in sight.  I decided to get to work. 

As I started to prep for the culinary quest, Spencer and Olivia both chimed in "Can we help?"  Wow, I thought, how awesome is that?  I've trained these kids right.  They think cooking is fun!  The 8 year old Olivia got to work chopping onions with only a tear or two shed, and Spencer de-stemmed and chopped the spinach.  Olivia then went to work on squeezing the fresh lemons and Spencer to crushing the fresh garlic.

Not sure if it was the good will and love flowing through the preparation, but we made the best tasting fitayers yet.  Tim's response, "Wow, these are so light and tasty."

Recipes: Spinach, Onion, and Feta Cheese Fitayers and Grass Fed Beef, Onion, and Mint Fitayers.

Ingredients for Spinach Fitayers: One Fully Thawed and Risen (in bag) Spelt Right Pizza Dough, one package fresh spinach, one onion, 2 large lemons, 2-4 TBL Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1-2 TBL dried mint, salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients for Beef Fitayers: One Fully Thawed and Risen Spelt Right Pizza Dough, one pound grass fed ground beef from Cold Spring Ranch one onion, 3-4 cloves garlic, 2-3 TBL extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 TBL dried mint, salt and pepper to taste.

If you don't have an 8 year old and a 13 year old on hand to help, you will need to do the following:

SPINACH FITAYERS:  rinse, spin, de-stem, and chop spinach, chop onions very finely, place in bowl with squeezed lemon, olive oil, and spices, toss together.  Shape 8-10 rounds on lightly oiled stainless steel baking pan (preferably with edges), place dollop of spinach mix in center, add crumbled feta cheese if desired, shape into triangles.  Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes until bottoms are golden brown.

GROUND BEEF FITAYERS: chop onions and garlic finely, saute in EVOO over medium heat until onions are soft, add ground beef, add spices to taste (the mint adds a really nice flavor).  Cook until meat is done.  Set aside.  Shape 8-10 rounds on lightly oiled stainless steel baking pan (preferably with edges), place dollop of meat in center, shape into triangles.  Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes until bottoms are golden brown.

I'm not sure why these tasted extra special, but I think it had to do with the extra special help I received in preparing them.

Try cooking with your's more rewarding than you might think, and it provides lessons that they will be able to use for a life time.

bil-hanā' wa ash-shifā' (Bon Appetit!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred and Fifteen (Zucchini, Yellow Squash Vegan Pizza!)

Garlic - It makes the world go round.   Not only does this beautiful allium make just about every savory food taste better, but it also has some incredible healthful benefits - helping alleviate arthritis symptoms being one of them.

Here is a perfect garlicky vegan pizza.   Ingredients: One Spelt Right Pizza Dough fully thawed and risen in its bag, one onion thinly sliced, 3-6 cloves of garlic (depending upon your taste and who wants to smell your breath), EVOO, 1-2 zucchini, 1-2 yellow squash, 5-6 mushrooms, sliced   On stove top, caramelize onions by sauteing them in about 1 TBL of EVOO until caramelized (sounds a little circuitous).  Set aside onions on plate.  In same pan, add more EVOO, sliced vegetables, and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 450.  Roll out or stretch pizza dough to full size.  Place on lightly oiled stainless steel pan.  Top with sauteed toppings.  Bake for 10-20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred And Fourteen (The Healing Power of Food)

This mass of hand made food was my response to feeling helpless.   A good friend of mine recently was injured pretty badly.  I wanted to have the power to heal her.  To make the boo boo go away.  To stop the pain.  To start all over again.   But, I don't have that power.  All I have are my words of sympathy and support.  And, my ability to cook and cook and cook.   So, that's what I did.   I cooked, and baked.  I made fillings, all sorts, from vegan to ground beef from to sweet to savory, and I rolled and stuffed them in my favorite Spelt Right dough.

My sense of needing to do something rubbed off a bit on Spencer, who made the lovely round shaped rolls, which are a variation of garlic bread.  He combined crush fresh garlic, Kosher salt, and extra virgin olive oil, and rolled them in the dough.  They were delicious.

My mother looked at the feast and asked if we were having a throng of guests.  "No," I said, "Just making some food for the family and a friend or two."

I brought over the fixins' the next day to my friend and her family.   While the food did not heal the breaks or bruises, I hope they were filled with just the right amount of love to make the pain go away, at least for the moment of the first taste.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lunch Box Chronicles: Day One Hundred and Thirteen (Upside Down Shepard's Pie)

It's great when you can ask your 13 year old to make dinner, give him a few instructions, and then come home to an almost perfect dinner....a little upside down.  Spencer took his hand at making Shepard's Pie.   As what we now understand as a visual spatial learner (one who needs to see the whole picture), Spencer requested that I just tell him what I would like him to make, and then give him the instructions.  I started with the instructions first, "now chop the onions first"....and he quickly informed me that it was like telling him to identify an animal by taking out one of its organs.  OK, it is.  "We are making Shepard's Pie, that is sauteed beef, frozen corn, and mashed potatoes made in a total of three layers then baked."  "OK," he insisted, "I can do it."  I did write down the order....meat, corn, potatoes.

After Tim and I left the house to do a few errands, Spencer started on his handiwork (with 85 year old Grandma in the background....just in case....)

Spencer first peeled and cut up about 4-5 potatoes and put in a pot to boil.  He then chopped an onion and crushed a few cloves of garlic with salt and pepper, sauteed in extra virgin olive oil, and then added a pound of ground beef (we like to use local grass fed when we can get it), along with spices to taste.  After the potatoes were soft, he drained the water and mashed them with real butter, milk, salt and pepper.

Here is where reading directions from Mom might have helped.  He then put the meat in a long casserole dish, covered it with potatoes, and then added the corn.  Baked at 350 until everything was hot.

It was delicious - great simple flavors - but a little upside down.