I love good leftover challenge. I peek into the refrigerator and swing open the pantry doors. I hear Ted Allen from Chopped announce my arrival and think what leftover basket items would I use tonight. Would it be gooey duck and squid ink or beef tongue and spam? I pick refrigerator bowl number 3, refrigerator bag number 4 and glass container number 1. I accept the challenge.

As I place the containers on the smooth kitchen counter, I'm imagining right about now that Alex Guarnaschelli is thinking I'm the culinary at-home-dad superman. She sees me with my knives and cape and can't wait to taste what I bring her on my over sized triangular art plate with bamboo asymmetrical edging and American Western Nouveau Asian fusion styling.

I fire up the stove, combine containers number 3 and 4 in carefully measured equal amounts and simmer gently. I lose total track of time and Ted says I have almost no time left. I quickly plate up my culinary delight and sprinkle it with what was in bag number 4. I season the dish as Mr. Allen calls time and throw my hands up into the air. I'm so proud of myself. I look at the others. They've got nothing. I wipe off my knives and think Alex is gonna love me tonight.
Here's my winning recipe from the leftover basket:


  • Cooked White Rice
  • Beef Tomato Chili Soup or Chili
  • A Few Ounces Of Shredded Cheese
  • Dried Parsley
  • Black Pepper

  1. Heat equal amounts of the first two ingredients in a sauce pan over medium low until bubbling.
  2. Plate.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese, parsley and pepper.


Usually 1 cup of rice and 1 cup of soup together make a serving.

Approximately 325 calories.

© Russell W Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 9.17.14

The Trophy Wife thinks I have a magic way with soups. For some reason I can taste a pot of cooking goodness and know just what to add or adjust to make it extra special. I wish I had that ability in other areas. But never you mind. 

I love this particular soup because it tastes hardy like a chili, but is lighter in texture - more like a broth soup. There's the magic: light and filling all at the same time. I think you'll love it!

  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Large Vidalia Onion Diced
  • 1 15 Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 6 Ounce Can Tomato Paste
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Flour
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Tumeric

  1. Brown ground beef in cast iron pan with diced onions.
  2. Add flour half way through browning.
  3. Pour beef and onion mixture into crock pot.
  4. Deglaze pan with 1 cup of the chicken stock and pour that into the crock pot.
  5. Add all other ingredients to crock pot.
  6. Cook on low for 4 hours.

No need to add salt, there is enough in the tomato sauce, tomato paste and the chicken stock.

Makes about 4-6 servings depending on who you are feeding.

Regular serving is about 198 calories.
Larger serving is about 297 calories.

© Russell W Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 9.16.14
The dogs seemed quite interested in the leftover onion.

Grandma Gin. Typical Swedish grandmother. Quiet. Reserved. Never a bad word about anybody. She had tea cups and coffee or glasses of milk with sweets sitting at her kitchen table. One would peer out past the breeze fluttering through the pale window curtains. We would chat there or converse while gently bouncing in the chairs on the back patio. Talking about the things of life. She fed us all. Figuratively and literally. Among her many masterful works in the culinary world was this little gem: her chocolate chip cookie. In our entire family, there is no better cookie. If you make them. They will disappear. Within minutes.

When Grandma Gin first gave me this recipe years ago, I failed at duplicating them. I followed the recipe exactly and several times I might add. Still not quite the same. So one day I told Grandma Gin that I wanted to watch her make them. She prepared each step just as she had outlined on her hand written recipe card. After she took them out of the oven, she removed them from the cookie sheet and placed them on a flour sack towel. Voila! The recipe had said to cool, but nothing about a flour sack towel. I eventually realized that the towel pulled the excess moisture out of the bottom of the cookie and made the bottom crispier than the rest of the cookie. It was genius.

I've since learned I can duplicate this by just leaving the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet for a few minutes after taking them out of the oven. Funny how the smallest change can make the world of difference in a recipe. Thank you Grandma Gin for the cookie, for taking time to show me the recipe, and for all the times you feed me and the rest of our family with your wisdom, guidance, and culinary acumen.
  • 1-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

  • 1/4 Cup Softened Butter (1 Stick)
  • 3/4 Cup Crisco Shortening
  • 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 2 Unbeaten Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Teaspoon Hot Water

  • 1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Walnuts Or Pecans)
  • 2 Cups Quick Oats
  • 4 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (2 - 12 Ounce Packages)

  1. Sift first three ingredients (flour, soda and salt) in medium sized bowl.
  2. Combine the next seven ingredients (butter, shortening, sugars, eggs, vanilla and water) in a large bowl and cream until fluffy. I use a silicone spatula. I'm sure grandma used a wood spoon.
  3. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture a third at a time.
  4. Chop the nuts in a food processor. You will end up with various sizes. The largest should be a bit smaller than the size of a chocolate chip. Grandma did this by hand with a knife.
  5. Stir the nuts into the batter.
  6. Add the oats and stir into the batter.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and stir into the batter until completely incorporated. This will seem like a lot of chips and very little batter, but trust me this is accurate.
  8. Refrigerate dough for about 5 minutes.
  9. Drop dough onto parchment lined light colored aluminum baking sheets. I use a melon baller and make a rounded ball.
  10. Bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Please note that this can vary depending on oven temperature (most fluctuate), dough temperature, size of dough balls, and darkness/material of the baking sheet. If you are using warm dough on a dark sheet it could take only 8 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and either cool on a flour sack towel or on the parchment lined baking sheet for several minutes.

  • The cookies should appear under cooked with a slight browning starting on the bottom when you take them out of the oven
  • Refrigerate the dough for a few minutes between each batch to help with the dough not becoming too sticky.
  • Definitely use parchment paper and a light aluminum baking pan. The one my grandmother used was made by my grandfather, so good lucky finding an exact match!
  • Make sure the baking sheet cools down completely between each batch or the cookies could burn on the bottom.
  • I  use a 1/4 butter to 3/4 Crisco shortening ratio for the fat. I know my grandmother used just about whatever was available from margarine to butter to Crisco. I have made these with all butter (much softer) and all Crisco (much firmer). I prefer the combination or 1/2 and 1/2 would work too.
  • Make sure your baking soda is fresh.
  • I use pecans or walnuts. I'm sure my grandmother used walnuts.
  • I use Kirkland semi sweet chocolate chips, my grandmother used Nestle.
  • Get a good vanilla. I like Kirkland or Williams Sonoma.
  • They can be stored for several days in plastic bags or tightly sealed containers. They also freeze well.

Makes approximately 85-90 cookies.

Seriously, they are cookies.

© Russell W Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 9.11.14

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Disney's Frozen
Mostly what I remember about meals when I was young is my parents' saying: "Children in (insert an impoverished nation of your choice) are starving, so clean up your plate and don't let this food go to waste." I'm convinced that sitting for hours trying to finish food that I could barely stuff into my mouth because I was so full is a big part of why I struggle with weight issues. 

I didn't raise my kids that way. I let them leave food at the table and on their plate. I wanted them to understand how to feed their bodies appropriately and be healthy. However, when you have dancer/athletes like I do, you never know when they are going to eat a super huge meal or a very tiny meal. So I always have leftovers - lots of leftovers. What do I do with them?

I make soups, casseroles, savory pies and eggs. I make lots of left over egg dishes. This is one of my favorites. I combine my love of roasting vegetables with a simple steamed egg and a bit of cheese. And while I'm at it, I imagine I'm helping to not waste food for starving children somewhere. Oh, and let's all give to Action Against Hunger while we are at it.
  • 1-1/2 Cups Roasted Vegetables
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbl Shredded Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/8 Cup Water

  1. Drizzle olive oil into a pan that has been heated to medium high.
  2. Add the roasted vegetables and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Crack two eggs directly on top of the vegetables.
  4. Cook another 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium to medium low.
  5. Add water to pan and cover until eggs are steamed done and whites are set. About 2 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with cheese and cover until melted. About 30 seconds. Season with black pepper.
  7. If you want a crunchier bottom on your vegetables, keep the lid off after adding the cheese so the water evaporates and a crust forms on the bottom.

This makes one hardy serving or two smaller servings.

Large hardy serving is about 300 calories.
Smaller half size serving is about 150 calories.

I would always look at that two-ingredient low carb healthy banana pancake recipe and think, "No way. How do you get anything to taste like pancakes without flour?" Well, I finally tried them and thought, "Not bad, but could be improved." So I worked up a killer recipe that, "Voila, tastes like pancakes." My athletic dancer kids love them and so do I.

  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Egg White
  • 1/8 Tsp Baking Powder (Slightly Less)
  • 1/8 Tsp Cinnamon (Slightly Less)
  • Vegetable Oil

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender or hand emulsifier. Pulse once or twice. (Really, only once or twice Don't over do it. You don't want them too watery.)
  2. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and then reduce to medium or just slightly above medium.
  3. Drizzle just enough vegetable oil to cover pan. 
  4. Pour in batter into 2-3" rounds. Cook until bubbly and then flip. Cook until puffed up slightly.
  5. Serve with peanut butter, maple syrup, Nutella, or fruit preserves.

  • Alternatively you could mash the banana and mix in the egg with a fork until just barely lumpy.
  • Use vegetable oil, not canola or butter or anything else. Definitely do not cook them dry in a non-stick pan. The oil helps make the outside a bit crunchy and delicious.
  • You could use two eggs, but I prefer the one egg/one egg white combination.
  • I use slightly less than 1/8 each of the baking powder and cinnamon. I think in part it depends on how fresh your baking powder is and what kind of cinnamon you are using.


This is for one serving. Stack them high on a plate. Yum!

About 200 calories without toppings.

I gained weight. Surprise. Medications and laziness will do that to you. Well I wasn't actually THAT lazy. Seriously. My heart doc says no carbs at night and no eating anything after 7pm. A new study, yes another one, says that we were wrong about the eating more carbohydrates thingy and the eating low fat thingy. Apparently once that whole low fat thinking hit the population the obesity rate went up significantly. We replaced filling fats with not so filling carbs and thus consumed more calories and affected triglycerides negatively.

I blame New York Times columnist and cookbook author Jane Brody for a big part of my personal situation. I was always over weight, but I had managed to keep it mostly in check. Out of desperation as the weight started to creep up again, I bought into her high carbohydrate sales pitch hook line and sinker and I definitely sunk. I cooked everything in her Good Food - Eating The High Carbohydrate Way cookbook and the weight just kept creeping up. I exercised, Went to fitness classes. Portioned food. Nothing worked. So I eventually stopped eating like that and thank goodness reversed course by the time my children came into the picture. They ate high quality foods with lean protein, quality fats, and complex carbohydrates of vegetables and fruits with very little added sugar or processed flour. They were also very active.

I managed to reduce my weight significantly eating lower carb again until my heart surgery recovery. I was re-educated by the hospital nutritionists back into a low fat diet again. I just rebounded with the weight. So I talked to my cardiologist and we are reversing course. I'm embracing this new study and once again going back to a higher protein and quality fat diet with vegetables and fruits and very little processed carbohydrates. 

Here is a perfect example: Low Carb Turkey Avocado Wrap. It has good quality fats, lean protein, and complex vegetable carbohydrates. I'm hoping this kind of eating is a win win because I could use a win on the weight front. So could my heart. 

  • 2 Romaine Slices
  • 4-5 Turkey Slices
  • 1/2 Avocado Sliced
  • 1/2 Carrot Diced
  • Olive Oil
  • Champagne Vinegar
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper

  1. On the romaine slices layer turkey slices, avocado and carrots.
  2. Sprinkle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with black pepper.

Now that was super easy and very filling I might add!

About 350 calories for two wraps.