Toddler approved: Stuffed shells

Toddler Approved Meals

Miss A has an affinity for all things Italian, like last week’s chicken “parm.” When I was little, my mom used to make these stuffed shells. My sister and I remember them fondly* and I thought Miss A would like them as well. We were right. She loved the stuffed shells. They’re easy enough for a weeknight dinner and perfect for a Friday during Lent.

Toddler approved: Stuffed shells

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Mozzarella block shredded
  • 1 Colby block shredded
  • 1 small container cottage cheese /Ricotta cheese large or small curd doesn't matter, I prefer the cottage cheese but to each their own!
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Box Jumbo shells
  • 1 jar Your favorite marinara sauce you might need a jar and a half, we usually use Bertolli Marinara and Burgundy wine or Lucky’s Market Roasted Garlic
  • Parmesan cheese*

Instructions
 

  • Get the water boiling and follow the directions on the box.
  • Our box said boil for 9 minutes if baking.
  • Shred the blocks of cheese. Mix together the cottage cheese and two eggs, then add the shredded cheese and mix.
  • You can add seasoning like salt and pepper or this delicious Penzy's frozen pizza blend we received as a gift. When we made this for Miss A the first time, we left out the spices and just sprinkled them on before we ate.
  • Pour about 1/3 cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of your favorite baking dish.
  • Drain the pasta and shock with cold water.
  • Drain again.
  • Using a soup spoon (or your favorite spoon) stuff the shells and line the baking dish.
  • Pour remaining sauce (you might need another half a jar to get all of the pasta covered). Bake at 350 degrees for at least a half an hour or until all the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Toddler Approved: Stuffed SHellsMy Opinion:
For at least the last 10 years, I’ve been making this dish wrong. I *remembered (incorrectly it seems) my mom using cheddar cheese and I couldn’t figure out why it never tasted exactly right. When shopping for the ingredients for this dish with my sister, she said she remembered our mom using colby cheese. Upon my first taste with J and Miss A I remarked that my sister had been right and the missing ingredient was colby cheese! That’s when we Facetimed my mom from the dinner table with the intention of showing her how excited Miss A was to eat one of her recipes. That’s when my mom asked about the ingredients. Turns out she sprinkled Parmesan cheese* on top! I feel like the kid in Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day (one of Miss A’s current favorites) when Alexander exclaims, “I HATE Limas” after having to eat lima beans for dinner because I very much dislike Parmesan cheese and absolutely do not remember that being part of this recipe. Isn’t it funny how something as simple as a childhood dish can be interpreted so differently?

Yum

 

Bibimbap

Bibimbap

 

Yum

Bibimbap

We've tried a number of bibimbap recipes and this one from My Korean Kitchen is hands down our favorite. It's easy enough for a weeknight meal and can be loaded with a ton of veggies. Plus it makes more than enough for lunch the next day! We had to make a few tweaks because we had trouble finding all of the ingredients regularly, but even with the modifications, this dish is filling and delicious!
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

Meat and meat sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef we like 80/20 for this - you need the fat!
  • Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar – we went with the original recommendation of brown sugar and decided dark brown sugar tastes best!
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic

Bibimbap sauce

  • The original recipe suggested this sauce might be only enough for 3 servings if you like eating it spicy and it holds true!
  • 2 pinch Tbsp gochujang (in awe've used Sriracha sauce not the same
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 3 small carrots
  • 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sugar we use brown again here
  • 1 tsp vinegar I'm partial to this addition!
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Vegetables and other

  • Couple of handfuls spinach we use one handful per person
  • Bag of bean sprouts (f you can find them. If not don't go with canned, it isn't worth it!)
  • 1 package shiitake mushrooms sliced
  • 2 peppers we use a mix of red and green or whatever we have on hand
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt 1/4each will be used when cooking shiitake mushroom and carrots, You can also use Kosher
  • 3 to 4 serving portions of steamed rice
  • 3 or 4 eggs depending on the serving portion
  • Some cooking oil to cook the meat mushroom, carrots and eggs (We use sesame oil)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar we use brown again here
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp vinegar I'm partial to this addition!
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Instructions
 

  • For meat, mix the ground beef with the meat sauce ingredients. Marinate the meat for at least 30 minutes while you are working on the other ingredients. We usually make the meat mixture first and let it sit while we chop the veggies.
  • Then chop the veggies into julienned strips. We usually combine the carrots, peppers and onion but leave the spinach and mushrooms to their own pans.
  • Mix the Bibimbap sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  • Add some sesame oil and 1/4 tsp of fine sea salt in a pan and cook the carrots, peppers and onion on medium-high to high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or longer if you liked them more caramelized.
  • Remove the carrots, peppers and onion from the pan and place on a plate. Add some more sesame oil, another dash of salt and a bit of garlic and saute the spinach and mushrooms.
  • Cook until the spinach is wilted.
  • Remove from the pan and add to the plate with the other veggies.
  • In the same pan, add some more sesame oil and cook the meat on medium-high to high heat. It takes about 5 to 8 minutes to thoroughly cook it. When the moisture has evaporated and the meat is cooked through, remove from heat and drain.
  • In another pan (trust me on this one do not try to reuse the same pan you sauteed the mean in!) make fried eggs. (As the original recipe stats and is spot on: "While sunny side up is common, you can make them per your preference.")
  • Ladle the rice into bowls and add the vegetables, meat and egg. Cover with the sauce!

Notes

My opinion:
I've eaten this dish three days in a row and I'm still not sick of it! You can also substitute ground pork or chicken for the beef. If you plan to use ground chicken, make sure you get ground chicken thighs. The ground chicken breast is too dry.
p.s. even our toddler likes this without the spicy "sauca."
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Best Gazpacho

Gazpacho
I know I said this was the best gazpacho recipe and I promise I still really like that one. This one is a teensy bit better and reminds me of a bowl of gazpacho from a restaurant in my hometown that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s the perfect HOT summer dinner. We found this gem hidden in a Mexican cookbook that we bought years ago:
Perfect Mexican
Now the serving suggestions include:
Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 3.00.04 PMBut truthfully, we don’t bother because the model didn’t include the garnishes and it’s just as good.

Best Gazpacho

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cucumber (the original recipe says small we just got an average size one) peeled and chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers seeded and chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic cloves we really like garlic so we used about twominced garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil sprig we have this growing in the kitchen and used about a quarterof leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups strained tomatoes (we had a heck of a time finding strained tomatoes in our Mid-Missouri town so we used tomato puree)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil splurge and use the good stuff. We have some wonderful EVOO from C's trip to Spain!
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar splurge and use the good stuff
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar splurge and use the good stuff
  • 1 cup and 1/4vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

My opinion:
Some people keep this extra chilly by serving an ice cube at the bottom.
Best Gazpacho
Instead of crusty bread (because I’m still limited in my wheat and gluten intake) we served it with corn quesadillas! Delicious!
Enjoy!
Corn Quesadillas

p.s. Summer 2016 update: even our toddler loves this gazpacho, which she calls “sauca!” She’s been practicing using a spoon on her own and if we keep this a bit on the chunkier side, she’s 90 percent successful! 

Crockpot Alton Brown Pork Loin

AB Crockpot Pork Loin
I haven’t been shy about my love for all of AB’s recipes (for example our Christmas ham, gyro meat and a peach buckle). This one started out as a delicious grilled summer meal, but quickly morphed into a scrumptious year round crock pot meal. Extra bonus, we make it ahead and freeze it so it’s super simple to just pop into the crockpot!

Crockpot Alton Brown Pork Loin

Ingredients
  

  • 1 whole pork tenderloin approximately 1 pound
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice concentrate is also fine!
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder we actually use regular minced garlic
  • 1 in chipotle chile pepperadobo sauce (out of the can we use about three or four chipotles and half of the sauce)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt We omit (but you can feel free to add!)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves We omit (but you can feel free to add!)

Instructions
 

  • Place the lime juice, honey and garlic powder in a ziptop bag and shake to combine.
  • Add the chipotle pepper (s) and squish together to combine.
  • Add the pork tenderloin to the bag and seal, removing as much air as possible and squish to coat the tenderloin. (At this point, we usually freeze this mixture together.)
  • If not freezing, marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours (we like overnight).
  • When you're ready to cook, dump the entire mixture into the crockpot, marinade and all. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. (Always double-check your specific crockpot settings for correct cooking times).
  • If you can, flip it once, but if you can't it's ok.
  • When you're ready to eat, remove the pork loin. Make sure to reserve the juices! We enjoy pouring it over rice to go with the pork.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

My opinion:
Like I said above, this is great year round. It’s just as good with a salad as it is over rice. Enjoy!

p.s. Summer 2016 update: without the chipotles in adobo sauce, our toddler eats this up! We just add the chipotles and adobo sauce to our plates. 

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Leeks

Pan roasted chicken and leeks
Now that we’re getting more comfortable with the No Six Diet restrictions, we are also getting a little more adventurous with adapting recipes. J bought some leeks for another recipe we scrapped and we weren’t entirely sure what to do with them. Luckily, my mom was visiting and suggested a chicken and leeks dish that she’s made several times. It turned out perfectly!

Pan-Roasted Chicken With Leeks

Ingredients
  

  • 3 slices bacon cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4-6 in chicken breasts cuthalf
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to season the chicken
  • 3 teaspoon cloves garlic smashed or aand a half of minced garlic
  • 1 bunch leeks white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 6 ounces sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Put the bacon in a large heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet (we used out cast iron dutch oven) and cook over medium-high heat until some of the fat renders about 5 minutes.
  • Push the bacon to the side of the pan.
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add it to the pan and cook, turning once, until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan.
  • Stir in the garlic and leeks, then arrange the chicken on top of the bacon-leek mixture.
  • Whisk in the cornstarch in the chicken stock.
  • Add the stock and wine to the pot.
  • Transfer to the oven.
  • Set the timer for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Check the chicken and if the broth has mostly evaporated, add more stock to keep everything moist.
  • Cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Serve over rice.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

My opinion:
I couldn’t get enough of this dish! I wished there was more!

p.s. Summer 2016 update: Our toddler likes this dish! If we’re making it to eat with her, we use a little more chicken broth and a little less wine.