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!

Ingredients
  • 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

Preparation
  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.

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

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

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

© Russell W Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 9.16.14
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The dogs seemed quite interested in the leftover onion.
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Disney's Frozen
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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.
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 Cups Roasted Vegetables
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbl Shredded Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/8 Cup Water

Preparation
  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.

Serving
This makes one hardy serving or two smaller servings.

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

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

Preparation
  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.

Tips
  • 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.



Servings

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

Nutrition
About 200 calories without toppings.
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There are so many ways to cook eggs, especially scrambled eggs. One of my kids' favorites are my silky eggs. The combination of cream, butter and low temperature create a yummy silky texture: smooth, warm and wonderful.   The recipe can be increased significantly for brunch or a larger group.

Ingredients

  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • A Bit Of Salt And Pepper

Preparation

  1. Heat butter in a non stick pan on medium low.
  2. Whisk the eggs and cream together vigorously and pour into the pan with the melted butter.
  3. Cook on medium low stirring frequently until just set. They will cook slightly after you remove them from the heat.

Nutrition
About 190 calories.


 
 
When I was growing up in the 70's you were either a Hellman's house or a Miracle Whip house. We were a Miracle Whip house - of course, the more sugar the better! There were only two real purposes for it: turkey sandwiches and tuna fish salad. (I'm not going to even mention the various jell-o mold salads with a big dollop of white Miracle Whip with extra sugar or honey added. Oops, I guess I did. That makes three.) Imagine my surprise the first time I walked into a co-op and discovered there were numerous other spreadable dressings. I tried all of them. Eventually, I decided my home made recipe was the best. I use it in a multitude of recipes - everything except jell-o. The only time I don't use my own is the day after Thanksgiving if my brother is visiting. On that day I definitely need a jar of Miracle Whip for his turkey sandwiches.

Ingredients
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Good Quality Vegetable Oil
  • Pinch Of Salt

Preparation
  1. Add the first three ingredients to a food processor and turn on to blend.
  2. While the food processor is on, slowly drizzle the vegetable oil into the egg yolk mixture until you reach the desired consistency.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and blend.
  4. Place in jar and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Variation
If you prefer more of an olive oil taste, you can substitute 1/3 to 1/4 of the oil for a good quality olive oil. You can use all olive oil, but my family does not like that taste.

Nutrition
About 95 calories per tablespoon.

Notes
  • Make sure you know where your eggs come from. Using raw eggs can be a health hazard. If you are concerned, I suggest using pasteurized eggs.
  • I prefer to use Kirkland Soybean Oil from Costco, purely from a taste standpoint. I do not like to use canola or safflower oil.
  • I don't mention the amount of oil because it depends on the size of the yolks as to how much you will need.
  • Vinegar can be substituted for the lemon juice.
 
 
I first tasted hummus at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Minneapolis called Jerusalem's several decades ago. It was delightful; all buttery and lemony. So I decided it would be a good thing to have at home. I tried several versions of store bought hummus including a local variety made by Holy Land in northeast Minneapolis. It is quite good, but none of them really seemed to be the right flavor for me. Perhaps it is the Scandinavian boy from the prairie who grew up on blandness? Not! I think it really is that I wanted something smooth with a little tang that could be spread on bread as a sandwich or used as a dip for chips or pita. Something versatile and yummy. So, for years I made batches of hummus. Unfortunately, my kids really don't like hummus, so I've had to eat a lot of it on my quest for perfection. Today, I got it and I'm going to share it with you: My Perfect Hummus!
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 large lemon juiced (little less than 1/4 cup)
  • 1 15 oz can drained garbanzo beans
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 T olive oil

Preparation
  1. Put the tahini and lemon juice in a food processor and turn on for at 1-2 minutes until very smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the work bowl at the half way point.
  2. Add the drained garbanzo beans and the finely diced or crushed garlic. Blend another 1-2 minutes until smooth.
  3. While the food processor is on, slowly drizzling the olive oil into the mixture.
  4. Spoon out and garnish with a bit of olive oil and paprika. (Cumin and other spices can be added at the end if you wish.)

Nutrition
1 Tablespoon = 25 calories.
Notes
The two secrets to this hummus are:
  • The initial tahini lemon juice mixture.
  • The blending order of the ingredients. We are treating it like we are making mayonnaise or a dressing by emulsifying the olive oil slowly at the end into the acidic mixture.

Try it on our Honey Wheat Bread toasted. You will love it!
 
 
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A friend posted on social media the other day that the word "moist" should only be used in reference to towelettes and turkeys. I agree.

As a waiter working my way through college in Fargo, not the movie with the wood chipper, we had frequent Canadian guests. They always asked for a serviette. So I would bring them a moist towelette. They would look at the tiny package in astonishment and try to explain what they really wanted. (Even English language speaking countries can have word barriers. Trust me.) Eventually I learned moist had nothing to do with serviette. They wanted a napkin. A very dry napkin. So goes my first experience with moist towelettes. 

As an at home dad it became immediately evident that holiday cooking was my job. Trophy Wife does much of the baking. Everybody said that the Thanksgiving turkey must be moist. I was a bit dubious. After all, isn't that why we have gravy? Apparently not. So I went to the school of moist turkey cookery. For a few years I tried a number of different recipes finally settling in on Martha Stewart's. Now, mind you, her recipe calls for numerous steps that involve cheese cloth, butter wine sauce, basting, and timing. It was like a corporate flow chart that someone had devised to be cruel to employees. The turkey was decent, but I was exhausted by the time dinner came around.

So I went in search of other "moist" turkey recipes. One day, I stumbled on an article in the Los Angeles Times about the best turkey ever. It was simple called: The Judy Bird. It was named after Chef Judy Rodgers, a friend of Food Editor Russ Parsons. You can read more about it here. They had done a side by side test of three methodologies and it was unanimous that The Judy Bird was hands down the best. I have been making this turkey ever since I found that article and I'll never go back to Stewart's cruel flow chart of moistness.

This year the mother-in-law is coming for Thanksgiving. I'm renaming it the Rachael Bird. Do you think I'll get brownie points? 

The Judy (ahem Rachael) Bird

Ingredients
  • 15 pound organic turkey (Just get it at Costco!)
  • 1 tablespoon regular salt
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon  Hawaiian Black Salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon Himalayan Pink Salt
  • (Or just use whatever salt you have. Ratio is 1 tablespoon for each 5 pounds of bird.)

Preparation
  1. Remove the turkey from the packaging, empty the fluids in the sink, and remove the other parts from the cavities,
  2. Do not wash the turkey. This just spreads yucky stuff around your kitchen. It will all get cooked off anyway. But remember to wash your hands after every time you come in contact with the bird.
  3. Mix the salts in bowl or plate. Spread the salt over the bird especially on the breast and thighs. You'll easily use 1 tablespoon on the breasts. Make sure to lightly salt the cavities too.
  4. Place the bird in a sealed plastic bag. I use a non scented garbage bag. Press most of the air out and tie it tight. Double bag it to avoid leaks.
  5. Place the bird breast up in the refrigerator. Ideally for 2 days, but I have done it for 1 day for this size turkey and it does well. I suspect the longer time is for larger turkeys. I usually start this on Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but you could start Monday for the longer time and larger bird.
  6. After a day invert the bird placing it on its breast for the second day.
  7. The evening of the second day, I take the bird out of the plastic and place it in a shallow pan so the skin dries out. This helps create a crispy skin. If you need, you could just pat it dry with paper towels before you bake it.
  8. On Turkey day, take the bird out of the refrigerator for at least 1 hour prior to baking. Turn the oven to 425 degrees F.
  9. Place the turkey in a roasting pan breast side down for at least the first hour. Then pull it out and place the breast face up for the remaining cooking.
  10. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees F. This should take just under 3 hours.
  11. Remove from oven. Keep warm. Tent with foil and let stand for 30 minutes prior to carving.
  12. When you carve, please remove each breast fully and then carve straight down. This will give you the most moist slices. Just watch this video of Alton Brown for the best carving advice.
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I use a mixture of salts for the magical moist trick!
Servings
About 15 plus servings.

Nutrition
About 330 calories per 6 ounce serving. This really depends on the type of meat (dark or light) and how much skin you eat.
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A friend of mine I met during my college years while we were both waiters at a local Mexican restaurant makes a wonderful cheesy egg dish. But first, you should know that she has the most delightful personality, an incredible sense of humor, a voracious love of coffee and about a thousand voices including the most convincing baby voice. So, of course we hit it off famously. Many times our restaurant gang would end up at her house either after a late night shift or in the morning for brunch. Along with her very strong and aromatic coffee, she would make her famous cheesy eggs. I'm convinced the magic to cooking them is the love she put into that pan because simply all she did otherwise was just cook the cheese right into the eggs as they were scrambling. They were creamy and delicious; melt in your mouth good. I honestly could not eat enough of them. So I have been making versions of her eggs now for years for my family and I finally decided it was time to "skinny" them up because I've put on a few pounds over the years eating those dang eggs. So here is my version of Debi's Cheesy Eggs albeit a little bit skinnier, just like I'm hoping to be!
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Ingredients
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges
  • 2 Slices Kirkland Lean Ham
  • Spray Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Optional Hot Sauce For Serving

Preparation
  1. Heat a large non stick pan to medium. 
  2. Chop the ham
  3. Spray the pan with oil.
  4. Add the ham and stir until starting to warm.
  5. Add the cheese wedges and lower heat to medium low.
  6. Once the cheese starts to soften and melt quickly whisk the eggs and add them to the pan.
  7. Stir as the cheese melts and the eggs start to set.
  8. Cooking the eggs on a lower temperature will take a little longer than normal. Once cooked you may season to taste.
  9. Serve with fruit and strong coffee of course!

Servings
1 Serving

Nutrition
About 260 calories per serving. You could lower the calorie count by about 35 calories if you substitute 1/4 cup egg white for one of the eggs.

Tips
Eggs scramble best if the pan is already hot, the pan temperature is lower than normal, and you whisk them well right before adding them.
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I can count on one hand the number of times I had seafood growing up. (Canned tuna doesn't count.) My father really didn't like seafood. I'm not sure if it was because he had to endure lutefisk or if it was because my mother couldn't cook seafood or that seafood wasn't really plentiful in the 60's and 70's on the prairie, essentially the geographical center of North America and a long way away from either coast or the gulf. I didn't start having seafood on a regular basis until I met the Trophy Wife who hails from Door County, Wisconsin. (Yes, God's Country! I know. I've heard it a million times.) With two large bodies of water on either side, they were practically swimming in seafood. Well, at least really large lake food. So I have learned to both eat and cook seafood. I try not to overcook it and I try to serve it in a light way just like it came from the ocean or swam in the really large lake or was inspired by the light blue summer sky of the North Dakota grasslands. The prairie never knew what it was missing.
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Ingredients
  • 10 Medium Sized Carrots Sliced
  • 30 Brussels Sprouts Cut In Half
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Fennel
  • 1/2 Cup Finely Diced Onion
  • 2 Pounds Tail On Shrimp (You Could Use Prawns)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 10 Tbs Butter
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • Juice Of Two Lemons
  • 1 Cup White Wine (Pinot Grigio If You Have It)
  • Salt & Pepper

Preparation
  1. Melt the butter with olive oil over medium heat in a large pan or pot.
  2. Add the Brussels sprouts cut in half with the cut side down so they brown a bit.
  3. Use a mandolin to slice the carrots consistently. Add them once the sprouts are cooked about half way. Maybe 5 minutes into the cooking. Add the garlic, fennel, and onion. Season.
  4. Cook until the carrots just start to get soft, about 5 -8 minutes.
  5. Add the drained and rinsed shrimp, lemon juice and the White Wine. Season.
  6. Toss and cook about 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. They should be pink. You may need to cover the last few minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed.
  7. Serve over whipped potatoes. I prefer whipped to mashed in this dish because I like the smooth summer texture. You could also serve alone or with rice or pasta.

Servings
8 servings

Nutrition
About 375 calories per serving without the potatoes or starch.

Tips
For a low carb alternative serve this without a starch.
You could cut the butter out and reduce calories, but trust me, it isn't worth it.

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My father hates standing in line. He refuses to go to some church buffets because there will be a big line. He will go to lunch early at the cafe to avoid any hint of a line. And he will generally not go to weddings or funerals because heaven forbid there might be a receiving line. 

I used to think that perhaps he just hates talking to people. After all that's what you do standing in line. But he is an affable guy and can strike up a conversation with anybody. I finally realized that it wasn't standing in lines that he hates, it's that he hates wasting time.

Feeding children can be a lot like standing in line. You can spend hours on planning, shopping, preparation, cooking, and serving. The kids devour it in less than ten minutes and run off with their friends leaving you with more than just dirty dishes - that wasting time guilt.

So to assuage my guilt I devised a number of quick meals with quality ingredients. They can be prepared quickly, are colorful and flavorful, and you can spend less time over the stove and more with your children. Here is the first in many no more standing in line breakfasts!