Mommy Lunch: Japanese Spinach with Rice

When your entire morning has evaporated while you made what you thought would be a quick batch of crackers…and you’re still trying to stick to the vegan-before-6 thing, you quickly learn how important it is to have easy and healhty lunch ideas in your back pocket. Otherwise, you end up eating all the crackers you just slaved over!

Sorry kids!

For the past month or so, whenever I have leftover rice waiting in the wings I often grab a bag of frozen greens and have this brilliant lunch ready in a jiffy. If you’re unsure, please know that eating a big glob of greens (unless they were smothered in white sauce) used to be a relatively rare occurance for me. Despite the abundance of green in the photo above, I’m not overwhelmed by the roughage. It’s perfect. In fact, the other night I had it for dinner…after 6 o’clock.

Japanese Spinach with Rice Recipe

This is adapted from a recipe for Intensely Green Spinach with Sesame Seeds in Seductions of Rice by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid.

For the greens I am currently using a mixture of frozen bagged spinach and mixed greens (collard, kale, mustard, etc.). I toast the sesame seeds 1/4 cup at a time in a skillet over medium low heat and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator in order to have them at the ready.

1 1/2 cups cooked white or brown rice
1 cup bagged frozen greens, loosely packed 
2 teaspoons mirin
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Reheat rice in the microwave. Set aside. In another bowl, defrost and warm up the greens.  Drain any excess liquid. Pour the mirin and soy sauce over the greens and mix to coat. Place greens on top of the rice and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve.

Yield: 1 rice bowl
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Whole Grain Baby Biscuits

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With my youngest heading off to kindergarten in the Fall, I’m feeling some self-imposed pressure to squeeze in every last “baby” snack I can before my kids get too old and jaded. Before I took a crack at this recipe for digestive biscuits, I thought the taste would be a little bland for our maturing palates. But I was wrong.

Tasting something like the love child of a cracker and a cookie these biscuits perfectly showcase the whole grains’ naturally sweet and nutty goodness. And I really mean it when I say perfectly. My kids and I can’t get enough of them. 

This recipe uses spelt flour which reminds me of coarsely ground whole wheat flour and has a wonderfully nutty flavor. I order it from King Arthur, but I believe I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods. Another recipe that uses spelt flour that I love  is the Pie Dough recipe in Good To The Grain by Kim Boyce.

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Whole Grain Baby Biscuits Recipe

This recipe was inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Digestive Biscuits in How To Eat. From what I gather, digestive biscuits are the United Kingdom’s version of the graham cracker. Unfortunately, I’ve never tasted an actual digestive biscuit. But for that very reason I felt free to get rid of the shortening and generally tinker with Lawson’s recipe which I’m sure perfectly replicates the real thing.

1/2 cup quick oats
1 1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 – 10 chunks
Scant 1/3 cup milk
All-purpose flour, for rolling out the dough

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the oats in a standing mixer with paddle attachment and crush them by running the mixer at medium speed for 3 – 5 minutes.

Add the spelt flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar to the mixer bowl and stir for 10 – 20 seconds. Stop the mixer and place the butter on top of the flour mixture. Mix at low speed for 3 – 5 minutes or until the butter is incorporated but there are still little chunks here and there. With the mixer still running on a low speed, drizzle in the milk and wait 20 seconds or until large clumps start to form.

Stop the mixer and squeeze the dough together into a ball. Split the ball into half. Form the balls into a flattened rectangles and roll them out individually on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. The top of the dough may require a sprinkle of flour in order to prevent the rolling pin from sticking.

Cut the dough into 1 by 2-inch rectangles and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If they are sticky, try using a metal spatula or bench scraper to pick them up. They can be placed close to one another on the baking sheet as they do not expand much during baking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye on them and check the bottoms after 10 minutes as they tend to brown quickly once they are done.

Yield: 40 biscuits
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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Web morsels

Beet Hummus from Simply Recipes via Perry’s Plate.

Unexpected Results: 5 Reasons Why A Recipe Might Fail from The Kitchn.

Cooking for Others: A Guide to Giving Sympathy Meals from Simple Bites. Aimee has also complied a superb list of suggested recipes in another post titled Weekend Links: Cooking for Others Edition. Check out the list for some family dinner inspiration as well as terrific sympathy meals.

Choosing the Best Mandoline Slicer from Kitchen Daily via Serious Eats.

To Win Toddler Food Battles, Take a Softer Approach from NPR via Food News Journal.

Fried Bologna Sandwich

I won’t bore you with my internal monologue about processed lunch meats. Let’s just say I went out on a limb.

And I’m glad I did.

This is a surprisingly tasty sandwich. Try one. You might like it. And while you’re munching, take a moment to appreciate the shear human ingenuity that goes into highly processed foods. Yes, they can be unhealthy, but as I learn more about food I occasionally find myself in awe of what people have been able to conjure.

Fried Bologna Sandwich Recipe

2 slices bread, lightly toasted
6 slices bologna (I used Applegate Farms Turkey Bologna)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Yellow mustard, to taste

Warm a skillet over medium heat. Coat the bottom of the skillet with the canola oil. Put the bologna (You’ll probably have to do two batches unless you’re using a huge pan.) in the skillet and cook for approximately five minutes on each side or until it is lightly browned and bubbly.

Place all of the bologna on one slice of bread and top with mustard as desired. Place second slice of bread on top. Cut up into small sandwiches and serve.

Yield: 1 sandwich (cut into 4 mini sandwiches for a shared snack – or not)
Prep time: 20 minutes

Valentine’s Day Snack: Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

Well, life is back to normal I guess. We’re all done being television stars around here. My seven-year-old is so over it. She watched the video in the previous post at school yesterday and hasn’t asked to see it again. I watched the show a couple times yesterday. I’m at the point where I’m starting to notice everything I did wrong and am obsessing about what I should have said and done to plug the blog more. But hopefully I’ll get over myself very soon. Considering it was my first time on camera, I’m just glad I wasn’t a total train wreck.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I’ve got time to squeeze in one more snack. Normally, I try to stay away from smoothie recipes simply because I love the impromptu act of throwing a smoothie together based on whatever you happen to have on hand. But I’m making an exception for this one because it’s so easy and perfect for the holiday.

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

1/2 cup silken tofu or plain yogurt
8-10 frozen strawberries, preferably organic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small to medium-sized banana
1/4 cup orange juice
Chocolate syrup, for garnish

Place the tofu, strawberries, vanilla, banana, and orange juice in a blender. Process until smooth. Pour into cups and garnish with a swirl of chocolate syrup. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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In the (Television) Kitchen

Molasses Snow Candy: wtnh.com

Check it out! I was on TV today! For the first time ever! It’s crazy! It was so much fun to make molasses snow candy on CT Style. Mostly because the hostess was fabulous and made it really easy to concentrate on her and forget about the fact that 100 lights and 3 gigantic cameras were pointing at us.

Even though my daughter has already had a zillion snow days this year, I took her with me to the studio. You just can’t make molasses snow candy without a kid to do the pouring. While it took her a little time to warm up, she had a lot of fun. She was a great helper and we were both captivated by all the behind the scenes action.

Valentine’s Day Snack: Raspberry Cream on Heart-shaped Toast

I kind of hate Valentine’s Day. From my perspective as a mother, it’s a holiday that sneaks up on me out of nowhere just when I feel like I’ve restored some balance in our diets after the holidays. And my husband and I aren’t really into it. If the holiday was more along the lines of Mommy and Daddy get to take off for a week and hang out on a beach in the Caribbean, now that is something we’d be happy to celebrate. But an expensive night out at a crowded restaurant or a wilted bouquet of flowers is something we’ve decided to skip entirely.

However, always wanting to be a proper and loving mother, I feel compelled to acknowledge the holiday. And even I will admit that it is nice to have a reason to celebrate in the middle of The Darkest and Coldest Month.

Also, please note that my 4-year-old decided she needed to take photos of her snack today before she ate it. This isn’t the first time she’s mimicked my insanity. I guess she’ll have her own blog up and running by the end of the year.

Raspberry Cream on Heart-shaped Toast Recipe

Any frozen or fresh berry blend can be used in place of the raspberries in this recipe. Blackberries, I’m sure, would be especially nice. I experimented with different sized hearts cut out of toast and the bigger (around 4 or 5 inches) hearts worked better. The raspberry spread is a little on the thick side and didn’t do well when I tried to squeeze it onto a tiny piece of toast.

1/4 cup frozen raspberries, slightly thawed
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sugar
2 slices of toast, cut into hearts using a cookie cutter or free form

Vigorously mix together the raspberries, cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar in a small bowl. Spread onto prepared heart-shaped toasts and serve immediately.

Yield: 2
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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