What’s Cookin’?

I have a big challenge these days: prepare meals for a picky, lactose-intolerant unadventurous eater. And I’m not talking about my two-year old.

Unlike my other SAHM challenges (cleaning, mostly), I actually enjoy this one, and look forward to Saturdays when I sit down with a pile of cookbooks, my trusty recipe binder, a pad of paper and a pencil, and start planning meals. Lately we’ve had a lot of successes, and when my picky eaters not only *eat* the meal but go back for seconds, well, I just can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

Here are a few of the meals that have made the repeat list:

* CARIBBEAN BLACK BEANS WITH MANGO SALSA & BROWN RICE * (adapted from Moosewood Family Cookbook) – saute 2 cloves of garlic, half an onion (diced), and season with allspice, ginger, and cumin. Add two cans of drained (but not rinsed) black beans and about 1/3 cup orange juice. Simmer in a pan until beans get thick, about 10-15 minutes. I buy the salsa from Sam’s Club, and serve with brown rice and tortilla chips, and for those who aren’t lactose intolerant, I add shredded cheese on top. A side note – I *hate* beans. But I really enjoy this dish.

* ROASTED VEGETABLES* Every Monday night I make two pans of roasted vegetables. Usually broccoli, carrots, asparagus, and corn. Since I last posted, I’ve also done portabello mushrooms in a balsamic vinegar mix, and kale, which turns into an almost potato-chip-like texture. Soooo. Good. I’ve also started mixing honey, ginger, and salt to the carrots before roasting.

* VEGETABLE SOUP* In a stock pot, saute about 3 carrots sliced, 3 stalks of celery sliced, and garlic in olive oil. When they’re soft, add 2 cans of V8, a can of broth, and about 1/4 cup of barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Heat until ready to serve. About 10 minutes before serving, add frozen corn and spinach. Serve with crusty bread and shredded cheese. This makes a lot, and is good for leftovers.

* WHEATBERRY SALAD * (adapted from The Family Dinner cookbook by Laurie David) In a large pot, bring 2 cups of wheat berries and 6 cups of water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 45 minutes to an hour. Drain and rinse. Combine the juice of 2 oranges, 1 lemon, and about 1/4 cup oil. Add to berries, along with 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts. Just before serving, throw in thawed edamame, dried cranberries, and chopped apple. I also add feta cheese to mine. This makes about 6 bowls worth, and lasts all week in the refrigerator, so it’s perfect for lunches.

* ORANGE TRUFFLE MOCHAS* Yeah, this one is solely for me and any of my coffee-loving guests. I made a simple syrup of 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 1 T orange extract. Heat in a saucepan until sugar is melted, then pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. They say this doesn’t last very long before it spoils, but I’ve had it for a couple weeks now and it’s still fine. In a big mug, fill halfway with milk and about 2-3 T of the syrup, and heat in the microwave for about 1 minute. Add espresso or very strong drip coffee. Top with whipped cream, if so inclined. I save half the pot of coffee for iced versions later in the day. A perfect 3pm pick-me-up, and it tastes just as good as a coffee shop’s!

We also had success with roast beef sandwiches, which I’d like to try again. Not so much with a made-from-scratch tomato soup. Oh well. Can’t win them all. Anything you’ve been making lately that you want to share? I’m always up for new ideas!

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