Gluten-free Lunches on the Go

As the year winds down, packing lunches seems more and more daunting each day. Some of you may already have finished school for the year, but up here in the Boston area we still have a couple more weeks to go. Then (we hope!) the 2nd wind comes in to continue to pack lunches for camp or family picnics or the office.

Having a child with celiac disease, when we go on road trips or day trips, I often have to pack lunch because we cannot trust that we will find a place that has gluten-free meals. I like to use leftovers when I can and have lists of what my options are for lunches to help take the stress out of it. Here are some ideas for you:

Leftovers can be delicious! Make these Apricot Wings for dinner or appetizers then enjoy them for lunch the next day!

Quesadillas are the perfect on-the-go lunch. I use Rubbermaid Lunch Blocks containers most days for the kids school lunches and on road trips.

Leftover barbecue chicken makes a great lunch. The crackers pictured are one of my favorite gluten-free crackers – Van’s Lots of Everything Crackers.

Wegman’s has snack size yogurts, which fit perfectly into the kids’ lunch boxes. Throw in some lunch meat and Lance’s cheese crackers and the kids are happy 🙂

My children often want a variety in their lunch. If I give them one thing, like leftover pasta in a thermos, they like it but say that they need more than one item to eat 😉 Kielbasa, blueberries, my favorite crackers and a common accompaniment some carrots or peppers and hummus, give them enough to choose from.

As a sweet treat on the road or to bring with my son to a birthday party, I use Ziploc round screw top containers to carry a cupcake. I try to make a batch regularly and keep them in the freezer to pull out when needed, but in a pinch Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s both carry delicious gluten-free cupcakes.

What are your favorite on the go lunches and sweet treats?

Gluten-free Stuffed Shells for a Party

Graduations, end of school year parties and summer holidays are all upon us. It can be a challenge to host a celebration at your house if you have celiac disease or have a family member with it. It doesn’t have to be! Here are some of my ideas for hosting a large gathering that is completely gluten free and no one will even miss the gluten!!

A tray of stuffed shells are a great way to feed a crowd. I was so excited when browsing at my local Italian specialties store (Alfredo’s) and I found an entire end cap filled with different shapes of imported Italian gluten-free pasta. I bought a 1 pound bag of shells, which made 2 large casserole dishes of stuffed shells. Others have found this pasta at Marshalls, TJ Max or Homegoods. The recipe below is for half of the bag. I made the other half with about 8 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained instead of zucchini and froze it for another time.

Gluten-free stuffed shells

Ingredients

2 small zucchini, shredded

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

About 24 ounces of ricotta cheese

4 to 5 ounces of cream cheese

8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, shredded

About 40 ounces of canned tomato sauce (I like to use part diced and part sauce)

½ teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, torn

¼ cup shredded cheddar

½ pound of shells (I used ½ a pound of imported Italian GF shells from La Fabbrica Della Pasta)

Directions

Cook pasta according to package. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté zucchini with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a bowl mix the ricotta, cream cheese and 4 ounces of the mozzarella. In another bowl mix tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil leaves. Mix cooked zucchini with the cheese mixture. Pour a layer of tomato sauce in bottom of casserole dish. Then fill each shell with 2-3 Tablespoons of the cheese mixture and place in dish.

Cover with the rest of the sauce, rest of the mozzarella and the cheddar. Cook covered with foil for 20 minutes and uncovered for 20 to 30. Serve or Freeze.

You can serve this with your favorite grilled hot dogs, chicken or ribs and a salad. Cut up a watermelon, put out a large bowl of Pirate’s Booty, Skinny Pop and Cape Cod Chips, serve Hoodsie’s so you don’t have to scoop any ice cream or have popsicles (Outshine or Wegman’s brand are gluten free) and you are all set for a gluten-free party! What is your favorite party food?

Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Chicken again? Definitely! I have been making a version of this roasted chicken recipe for years. It is SO EASY. It only has 6 ingredients, including salt, pepper and olive oil! I make it to entertain with or just on a weeknight for my family.  This feeds my family of 5 with enough for leftovers! Bonus, if you keep scrolling, I have a great recipe to transform the leftovers.

Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

About 3 pounds of chicken thighs (brined if you like)

¼ cup of lemon juice

3 Tablespoons of honey

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dry off the chicken thighs. Whisk together lemon juice, honey and olive oil in a medium sized bowl. Coat chicken with mixture and place in a roasting pan. Cook covered for 20 minutes, rotate pan and then cook for 30 more minutes uncovered. (Reserve juices in roasting pan for leftover recipe below)

To keep it simple, I recently served this with a new favorite product from Wegman’s, 90 Second Steamables, Savory Long Grain and Wild Rice, which one of my 6 year olds made by himself (2 bags for our family) and microwave in a bag green beans, which the other 6 year old made. The clean plate club was full that night!

This also made an incredible leftover dish based on an old favorite from Bertucci’s, Chicken Broccoli and Rigatoni in Cream sauce. I used the juices from the roast chicken above with a dash of pepper and some milk for the sauce. Heat the juices and keep adding a little milk at a time, until it tastes the way you want it. Cut up the remaining chicken and a head of broccoli. Toss everything together with your favorite pasta and it is a delicious meal!

What ways to do you like to cook chicken? How do you use your leftovers? We learn from each other, so comment and let me know!

Here are some of my other favorite chicken recipes:

Spatchcocked Herb Roasted Chicken

One Pot Roast Chicken with Tomato Sauce

Apricot Glazed Chicken Wings

Sweet Potato Two Ways

Sweet potatoes can be a great side dish or the star of the meal. They can be fancy or very simple. They can be baked, topped with marshmallows, made into fries or create an amazing soup.

This sweet potato side dish is the perfect comfort food on a cold winter night.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Ingredients

3 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced

1/3 cup of unsalted butter

1/3 cup flour (I use Gluten-Free Cup4Cup)

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1 teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

3 springs of thyme

3 cups of milk

4 ounces of cream cheese or 3 tablespoons of mascarpone

12 ounces of shredded cheddar, divided, save about 4 ounces for the top

Directions

Boil slices of sweet potatoes for about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Make béchamel: melt butter, add flour, mustard and herbs. Whisk for 2-3 minutes. Whisk milk in. Add cream cheese and combine. Take off heat and mix in cheddar. Make layers, one of potatoes, one béchamel and repeat. Cover top with rest of cheddar and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Broil for 2 minutes if you want to melt the cheese more. If you have extra béchamel sauce, freeze it and add it to quinoa or rice another time.

Serve at Valentines day with a grilled steak or barbecued salmon and a fresh salad.

I love to be able to create more than one meal out of the same ingredient. Especially one that completely hides the fact that I’m using leftovers. That way it is more likely that my family will eat it 🙂

Sweet potato and zucchini enchiladas

Ingredients

4-6 tortillas (I like to use Joseph’s gluten free flour tortillas)

1 1/2 to 2 cups of leftover sweet potato gratin

1 large zucchini, shredded

4 ounces of shredded cheddar

chili powder

1 to 1 1/2 cups of tomatillo salsa or your favorite enchilada sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 300. In a casserole dish, pour tomatillo salsa or enchilada sauce to cover the bottom. In each tortilla place 3 to 4 Tablespoons of the gratin, 1 Tablespoon of the shredded zucchini and sprinkle with chili powder (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon), roll and place in dish.

Repeat until you have used up your ingredients.

Pour more of the enchilada sauce over all the rolled tortillas. Top with shredded cheddar.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes. Broil for 2 minutes at the end if you would like to melt the cheese any further.

The enchiladas would make a great meal for the Super Bowl next weekend! If you haven’t made the gratin, just substitute some mashed sweet potatoes and add some shredded cheddar inside the tortillas.

I’ll be posting more ideas for Valentine’s Day and the Super Bowl over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

What to do with leftover cod

Now, I usually cringe when I hear the words “leftover fish,” but sometimes there is just too much left that I feel bad throwing it out. We had cod, with the compound butter that I made, alongside the turkey on Thanksgiving. Since there was so much other food, there was about a pound of the cod left. I have made fish chowder in the past, using the leftover mashed potatoes, but wanted to try something different, so I made fish sticks. They were a hit! and SO EASY to make.

I had another post set for this morning with my stuffed Italian meatball recipe, but that will wait. This needed to be shared immediately! Here is the initial, also super easy, cod recipe and then the leftovers turned into fish sticks recipe follows.

Herb Butter Cod

Ingredients

2 pounds of fresh cod/haddock or your favorite firm white fish

4-5 Tablespoons herb butter or unsalted butter and a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme(remove leaves) and salt to your taste.

2 lemons, sliced

herb-cod

Directions

Pre heat over to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish with two pieces of foil, crossed, so that you will be able to fold up the sides and completely cover the fish. Place lemon slices over the bottom and lay the fish on top of the lemon. Dot the fish the with herb butter. Close the foil and place the dish in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the fish flakes easy with a fork and is cooked through.

Homemade Baked Fish Sticks

Ingredients

About 1 pound of cooked cod/haddock or your favorite firm white fish

2 eggs

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, optional

3/4 panko breadcrumbs (use gluten free. I like Ians)

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

fish-sticks-ready-for-the-oven

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, flake fish add eggs and rosemary and mix together. I find that getting messy and using my hands is the easiest. In a separate bowl mix breadcrumbs, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Now for the even messier part. The fish mixture will be really wet, but shape it as much as you can and roll in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a sheet pan that you have sprayed with your favorite non-stick spray (I used Trader Joe’s Canola oil spray). Repeat until you are done with all the fish. Spray the tops with the oil spray as well. Bake for 15 minutes, then using a spatula, flip the fish sticks and bake for 10 more minutes.

fish-stick-meal

Easy and used up the leftovers!  Although now I need to find another way to use my leftover mashed potatoes. I’m thinking soup.

Enjoy these easy recipes and stay tuned for a post every day starting December 1st, counting down to the new year! The posts will be filled with easy dinner recipes, gluten-free holiday treats and meals for a crowd that no one will even guess is gluten free! Stay tuned! Share with family and friends! Click on the buttons on the right or down below.

Note: If the photos look upside down on your browser, please know that I’m working on it. Still troubleshooting. Looks fine on Google chrome, but I have heard on Bing or others that the pictures are cockeyed. 🙂

What can I do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

If you and your family do not eat leftovers, send the rest home with someone else because there are people like me, who can eat Thanksgiving leftovers every day. Seriously. Every single day, every meal, I can eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash and cranberry sauce for the week following Thanksgiving. But for many (MOST) that gets boring. So, here are some ideas to hide it so your family doesn’t even know its leftovers! And as always, it’s good food that happens to be gluten free.

leftover-turkey-sandwich

Changing the flavor profile is the easiest way to disguise the leftovers. You can shred some of the turkey and mix it with your favorite barbecue sauce and serve on leftover rolls or with cornbread stuffing. Add the turkey to jarred Tikka Masala sauce and serve with rice. You can make Asian rice noodles, Italian pasta, Quesadillas or Chili. Using the leftover turkey, squash or vegetables from the veggie tray you can make any of the dishes in my recent Super Easy Pasta Night3 Easy 10 Minute Meal , Taco Tuesday – Step Outside the Taco Shell and Crowd Pleasing Chili posts.

There are so many options! With the ideas and recipe links above you can make your own takeout! Save the money for the holidays 🙂

Happy planning, cooking and try not to stress. Send me your questions for Thanksgiving or for what to do with leftovers! or tell us your leftover ideas! Comment here or send me an email to mammascooking@gmail.com.

 

 

Crowd Pleasing Chili

If you are having a crowd over for a big game or just hanging out with friends and family around the holidays and need a big satisfying meal, chili is always a great option. It is a blank canvas and does not require a lot of hands on work. It is also very easy to make gluten free, vegetarian or allergy friendly, which is great when you have a large crowd and don’t know what everyone’s food allergies or preferences are. I don’t think I have ever really made chili the same way twice, but I made this one recently to fuel up some friends before we enjoyed a long walk.

Quinoa Pumpkin Chili for a Crowd

Ingredients

1 to 2 pounds of your favorite beans or mixture of beans

½ of a large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-24 ounce can crushed tomatoes

About ½ a 15 ounce can of pumpkin

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 Tablespoons of chili powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

3 Tablespoons of cider vinegar

¾ cup of chicken stock (or vegetable or beef stock)

1 ½ Tablespoons brown sugar

½ cup of quinoa

Optional, add 1 to 2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables and/or turkey, chicken or beef

Directions

Pour all the ingredients into your slow cooker and stir. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low 6-8 hours. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions.

This is yet another way to disguise Thanksgiving leftovers. To stretch the meal even further, you can serve it over mac-n-cheese, as I did for lunch the day after I made it.

quinoa-chili-for-a-crowd

When you are entertaining for the holidays, having easy meals that can stretch to feed a crowd are very useful. This is a healthy meal and a hearty meal that will give you the fuel to warm you up after hiking, skiing or keep you going during overtime of your favorite team’s game.

What are your favorite crowd pleasing meals? Stay tuned for an extra post this week with some gluten free holiday entertaining ideas and a recipe!

Here are some past crowd pleasing or tailgating recipes and ideas for using leftovers (Always the same disclaimer that they are from before our family started eating gluten free so make adaptations as needed or ask me how I do it! mammascooking@gmail.com

Fall Football and Tailgating

Lessons Learned from Thanksgiving and Cooking in the Aftermath

Pre and Post Thanksgiving Ideas with a Potluck Recipe thrown in

Happy Thanksgiving

Taco Tuesday – Step outside the Taco Shell (Gluten free!)

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Turkey time, a visit to a butcher shop and italian sausage mac-n-cheese (I think I’ll make this mac-n-cheese GF tonight!)

Thank you to Mamapedia for highlighting Mamma’s Cooking 3 Easy 10 Minute Meals on Mamapedia Voices on Friday!

3 Easy 10 Minute Meals

The election is now behind us and whoever you voted for, we can all agree its time to move forward! Now we can occupy our brains with the holidays instead! Which unfortunately for many can be just as stressful, especially when you cannot rely on take out. I, like many of you have a endless list of things to do: keep the children alive and fed, go to school meetings, do laundry, clean, pay bills, juggle all the activities, work and do more laundry, so I completely understand that dinner needs to be done in 10 minutes time most nights. Especially with the holidays coming, our time is even more limited. These are three of my go to super fast recipes for when dinner needs to be on the table ASAP and hopefully help keep your stress levels down!

Kielbasa and Peppers with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

kielbasa-and-sweet-potato-10-minute-meal

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1 Turkey kielbasa (make sure it is GF if you need it to be), diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 package of already made mashed sweet potatoes (I like Wegman’s) or a couple of large sweet potatoes

Directions

Heat your cast iron skillet (or sauté pan) over medium heat with the olive oil in it. Once hot, add kielbasa and peppers, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. While that is cooking follow the instructions on your mashed sweet potatoes (or just microwave a couple of sweet potatoes-remember to poke holes with a fork!- and serve with a little butter, salt and pepper). You can either leave out the kielbasa for a vegetarian meal or substitute leftover turkey, chicken, steak or your favorite already cooked sausage.

Asian noodles are always a hit in my house and are a great option for an easy weeknight meal. Healthy, tasty and a great alternative to take-out.

Asian noodles with shrimp and broccoli

asian-noodles-10-minute-meal

Ingredients

1 package of Maifun Rice Sticks or your favorite noodles (GF if you need them to be)

1 pound of shrimp (frozen or fresh, even faster if already cooked!)

1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup rice vinegar

¼ teaspoon fish sauce, optional

¼ teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons of ginger (either this stir-in paste from Gourmet Garden or minced fresh)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon onion powder

3 Tablespoons lime juice

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

Directions

Cook noodles according to package. Add the broccoli to noodles with 3 minutes left in cook time. Drain all. Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss noodles and broccoli with sauce. Toss in cooked, peeled shrimp and its ready to serve. I serve it with fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts and a couple splashes of siracha. A squeeze of lime juice is also a great way to finish the dish.

If shrimp are fresh or thawed and not cooked, this can still be a quick meal, as long as they are cleaned and deveined! Here is a quick delicious way to cook them. Mix 1/8 cup vegetable oil, splash of sesame oil, 4 cloves of garlic – minced and juice of ½ a lime. Toss with the shrimp and cook for 3 to 4 minutes each side in a 400 degree oven. Cool, peel and toss with noodles.

This dish is extremely versatile. It would also be great with, zoodles (zucchini noodles), rice or cauliflower rice in place of the noodles. You can easily substitute tofu, scrambled egg, leftover chicken, steak or even turkey from Thanksgiving. It is good hot, room temperature and cold.

Having these jack-of-all trade meals in your back pocket will make dinner easier to make with what you have on hand.

Pasta with Pink Sauce

pasta-with-pink-sauce-10-minute-meal

Ingredients

1-16 once package of spaghetti or your favorite pasta (gluten free of course if you need it to be)

1 jar of pasta sauce (or one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce)

4 ounces (1/2 block) of cream cheese

Directions

Cook pasta according to package. While water is boiling, pour pasta sauce into sauce pan and heat on medium. Add cream cheese and stir until combined. It will be clumpy. While pasta is cooking pour pink sauce into a large serving bowl and then add drained pasta. Stir and serve.

This is a great base to add whatever cooked vegetables, leftover turkey, chicken or shrimp if you like. I recently made this and served steamed green beans on the side. Stop and Shop steam in the bag green beans. My husband liked them more than when I buy green beans, clean them and steam or roast. Lesson learned! I don’t need to exert the energy!

These three easy dinners will hopefully make your busy nights less stressful and your holiday leftovers easier to finish and disguise! What are your favorite ways to use leftover holiday food? Comment and let us know! I am working on creating Pins for Pinterest for these recipes, so for now just follow me on Pinterest or follow this page and you will be the first to know when you can save these recipes!

Good Food that happens to be Gluten Free

I am a GF Cook. I make Good Food that happens to also be Gluten Free. For my family and others with celiac disease it is out of necessity. For many others it is a way to eat healthier or just feel better. In the past 2 years since my son’s diagnosis of celiac disease, there have been ups and downs. I have discovered that you do not have to sacrifice taste, texture or being adventurous with new foods. You do not have to throw out your family recipes and favorite cookbooks. Yes there are limitations, but after the first several months, we found our groove and now know the resources that can help navigate the world of gluten-free eating.

Cooking gluten-free food often means making it from scratch because convenience food (like prepared frozen meatballs from Trader Joe’s that used to make a weekly appearance at our house!) often contain gluten. More and more gluten-free items are appearing in the market, which is great, but as I love to cook and now have a giant freezer in my garage, I make my own convenience food packs and freeze them.


I spent a great day testing meatball recipes last spring and had some family and friends test recipes. I made Italian meatballs stuffed with mozzarella, homemade sausage meatballs and the winner – Bahn Mi flavored meatballs. I made about 4 pounds worth and saved them in 2 pound batches, perfect for our family of five for dinner with leftovers for lunch. You can cut this recipe in half. I serve them with cucumber noodles (or coodles) for a spin on spaghetti and meatballs. You can use them in a lettuce wrap or as an appetizer with your favorite Asian dipping sauce. My kids love hoisin sauce and I love peanut sauce. I grind my own meat using the Kitchen Aid attachment but you can buy ground meat in the grocery store or ask the butcher to grind it for you, but know that that contains more fat, so you won’t need to add as much bacon in the recipe below. 

Bahn Mi Meatballs
Makes about 35 meatballs 


Ingredients
2/3 cup cucumber shredded (about 1 English cucumber)
1/3 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons sugar
About 4 1/3 lbs ground chicken and pork (I use 2/3 pork loin and 1/3 chicken thighs. It was also tested with only pork)
3 pieces of bacon, minced (you might have to test how much bacon you add depending on the fat content of your ground meat)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 Tablespoon ginger, paste or grated fresh
handful of Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp coriander
1 egg (still add one whole egg if cutting recipe in half)
1/4 cup of bread crumbs (use gluten-free if making this gluten free)
2-3 Tablespoons of canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


Mix the rice vinegar, water and sugar in a small bowl. Add cucumber and carrots. Soak at least 3 hours, up to overnight. Drain and dry between some paper towels while you prepare the meat mixture. Pre-heat oven at 375 degrees. In a small bowl mix salt, pepper, ginger, cilantro, coriander, egg and bread crumbs. Place meat in a large bowl and add drained cucumber and carrots and the egg mixture. Get your hands dirty and mix it all together. 


TIP: Cook a small patty of the meat mixture to taste and adjust seasonings if you need before cooking the whole batch.


Heat a large not stick-pan to medium-high, add canola oil and sesame oil. Brown meatballs and transfer to a baking rack that sits on top of a cookie sheet.



Roast for 15 minutes. (You can put directly on rack without browning and cook for about 25 minutes, if you don’t have time to brown). Serve or freeze.



I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I love cooking for and writing it. My plan is to post weekly. You will see my own recipes, recipes from my favorite cookbooks (gluten free and not) that I have adapted for my family and ideas for entertaining and cooking in bulk. You don’t have to eat gluten free to enjoy these recipes. They are tasty enough for everyone!  

Please use the buttons below to Pin, Tweet or share this on Facebook! Thank you! Let me know if there is anything you want to see here. I always love a cooking challenge. 

What to do with BBQ leftovers

Your weekend BBQ is over and you have a fridge full of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, sausages, potato salad, fruit salad and more. Some may enjoy eating these on their own, but I like to mix it up. I make pasta with chopped up hamburgers and leftover corn, mixed with some tomato sauce or diced fresh tomatoes. Enchiladas or quesadillas are also great for mixing with burgers and hot dogs. Go back to a childhood memory, hot dogs and mac n cheese. So good! I even made a salad today with romaine, 1/2 a cheeseburger pattie (chopped), diced tomatoes, a handful of blueberries and a diced carrot. Toss with a balsamic vinaigrette and you have lunch.

Having lots of leftovers is one of the few times you can please most people in your family with dinner. Let them choose on leftover night. Someone wants the chicken from Friday night and the other wants hot dogs from the weekend BBQ. Its all good!

The mantra, “I will not be a short order cook” that I decided long before my kids even started eating solids, still rings true for the most part, but as with many mantras we all say before we become parents, what is good in theory is not always possible in practice. I believe in making one meal for my family and having them all eat it, but in reality that does not always happen For example, one child may have a lactose intolerance or allergy that the others do not, or one parent may be a vegetarian, but the others in the family eat meat. One person may be on a diet and the others don’t need to eat the diet food.

Trying to make meals that have one main component everyone can eat with  “add ons” for others, may help simplify cooking or those with multiple needs. For example, make one pasta dish with vegetables and serve with roast chicken on the side (either what you cooked yourself or take some help from the rotisserie section at your local grocery store).

This also goes for entertaining or a fun Wednesday night. Things like a hot dog bar, baked potato bar, salad bar, etc, can have something for everyone. I recently did a hot dog bar for the boys birthday and made a vegetarian chili for chili dogs, but also so the vegetarians would have something to eat.

I try to make one meal for my family, but have one very picky eater. I try to put something on everyone’s plate that he will eat, so he doesn’t think he is getting special treatment 🙂 For example, I make smoothies for the kids to drink with dinner, when I have a feeling he won’t eat the dinner, so he will still get nutrients, be full and not wake up hungry at 4am.

I have been trying to simplify my cooking more and more now that the boys are really acting their age (2) and not giving me longer periods of time where I can be in the kitchen. Here is an example of a day of meals in our house.

Breakfast: scrambled eggs (eggs + chive cottage cheese), tomatoes and grapes.

AM snack: grapes, fruit leather, apple and carrot pouch (they get snacks throughout my Stroller Strides class so they don’t scream and I can work out!)
Lunch: wheat thins, carrots, white bean hummus (I love Trader Joe’s), bananas
PM snacks: whole wheat goldfish and raisins
Dinner: Pizza, pineapple and chicken skewers and smoothies

I recently made the best pizza I have ever made!! You have to pat yourself on the back sometimes 🙂 I used whole wheat dough from the grocery store and baked it after brushing it with olive oil until just about cooked. Then I brushed the dough with pesto, topped it with mozzarella (I find using the blocks of mozzarella and shredding myself melt better than already shredded, but both are good), then sliced tomatoes and placed them on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until cheese is melted.

Cooking bucket list update:

If you have been following my blog, you know that I am cooking my way through a cooking bucket list. For Father’s Day I tackled lobster as part of a clam bake. I’m glad the boys were asleep and Tim and Karina were out of the house, so no one heard me scream when the lobster flipped himself out the pot before I could get the cover on. I over cooked it a little bit, but wanted to be sure it was cooked. Next time I’ll probably buy it already steamed. The clambake turned out well and Karina was eating clams like they were going out of style. The boys left the clams, but did try the shrimp.