I really hate frozen pizzas. There I said it. A friend of mine who works in the grocery business says some pizzas have the ability to be thawed and refrozen several times without losing quality. Honestly, the standard must be really low. No wonder I hate them.

But frozen pizzas are a quick food when you are on the run and lack preparation. Which in my case happens frequently because I have way too many balls in the air. Or hair ties. Or barbie boots. Or a host of other child items I'm trying to manage at any one time.

So, how to make something you hate that is sometimes necessary much better? For frozen pizza I have two tricks:
  1. Up The Temp | I use a counter top toaster oven and increase the temperature about 25 degrees more than it says and shorten the time just a tad. I get a much crispier crust on the bottom wtihout the whole thing drying out.
  2. Good Parm and Olive Oil | Once the pizza is out of the oven immediately sprinkle olive oil and grate good quality Parmesan over the top. After cutting and plating add a bit more Parmesan.
I love this gourmet up trick and so do my kids! I hope you do as well.

Recipe Tip By Russell Peterson
DayParentDad
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved



 
 
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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Ingredients
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Chopped Red Onion
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine (Or Red, Whatever You Have)
  • 1 Jar Kirkland Marinara
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Onion Powder

Preparation
  1. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and sweat them.
  3. Add ground turkey and cook through until it begins to brown.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. 
  5. Cook on medium low approximately 20 minutes.
  6. I like to toss my sauce with cooked pasta and a little olive oil in another pan to meld the flavors.
 
 
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I find it quite amusing when a company titles their product: Epicurean. I think few of them really know what it means. The free online dictionary defines it as: Devoted to the pursuit of sensual pleasure, especially to the enjoyment of good food and comfort.

Yet, Epicurus was more complicated and interesting than that. He shunned superstition and divine intervention for a philosophy that claimed pleasure was the only good. Some mistake his philosophy to be about Hedonism. But really he was about simple pleasure through modest living and knowledge. Pleasure was the good, knowledge was the key.

I think this is the perfect recipe to represent an Epicurean lifestyle. A simple recipe that tastes good with a little knowledge of what and how ingredients go together.  Nothing divine here.
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 to 3 jalapeno(s) finely diced (depending on desired heat)
  • 4 cups cooked assorted beans (Epicurean mix from Costco)
  • 3 medium potatoes diced 
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock for vegetarian recipe)
  • small container of salsa
  • 1/2 cup chicken gravy or 1/4 cup cream (substitute soy based dairy product, a little cornstarch in water, or vegetable gravy for vegetarian recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small bag frozen corn
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt if needed

Preparation
  1. Cook the jalapeno(s) and onion in the olive oil for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat in Dutch oven or heavy pot to release the flavors.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 2-3 hours covered.
  4. You could substitute taco seasoning for the spice mix indicated herein.
  5. Top with a bit of finely shredded English cheddar cheese and some sour cream.


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Nutrition
About 290 calories per serving.

Tips
  • This recipe can also be prepared in a crock pot.
  • This makes a large pot and extra can be frozen for up to 3 months.
 
 
One of the most important things I have learned as an at home dad is that children are hungry. Always. You need to be prepared. No, seriously I mean prepared. Like you are preparing for war or you get melt down city and cranky tantrums that threaten to expose your parenting deficiencies post haste. You do not want those stern looks from the mothers at the swim practice because you weren't prepared. Failing all of "man"kind once again!

Nor do you want to drive into another fast food joint and unload your wallet on food that will only last about 20 minutes until the next emotional outburst. I have come to believe that these hungry, emotional responses from kids are what has driven the explosion in fast food, prepackaged sugar snacks and "nutrition bars". None of which is really good for our kids. 

What I do is overcook and carry. Make more food than your family can eat in one meal and carry extra with you whenever possible.  (Get a good portable cooler...sort of a food security blanket.)


The first step is to have extra basic ingredients. One of my favorite quick foods is fried rice, but the important part is that you need cold precooked rice. So, always make extra rice and store it covered in the refrigerator. And I am not talking about keeping extra Chinese take out rice in those nasty card board boxes. You only end up with rock hard, flavorless construction material if you do that. Put that rice in a different sealed container.

Once the kids are hungry, you can have a pretty nutritious meal within a few minutes. Here's my basic recipe.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cooked and refrigerated rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp soy sauce
2-3 drops fish sauce

Optional Ingredients
1/8 cup precooked diced chicken
1/8 cup precooked vegetables (scallions, carrots, broccoli, celery, onion, peppers are all good options)
1/4 cup finely diced lettuce

Preparation
  1. Heat a cast iron or non stick pan until it is very hot. You could use a wok too.
  2. Add the oil and let it heat a bit.
  3. Add the rice and start to heat. 
  4. Add optional precooked chicken or vegetables finely diced.
  5. While the rice is heating combine the egg, soy sauce and fish sauce and whisk quickly.
  6. Add the egg mixture to the rice and stir quickly until set.
  7. Add optional lettuce and wilt.
  8. Serve.

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Nutrition
2 Servings
Approximately 250 calories per 3/4 cup.
Reduce calorie count if vegetables are added.

Tips
The trophy wife hates the lettuce added at the end. I learned that trick from an old Chinese home style cook book. I love the flavor and the texture. So I only add it to mine!
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One of the most important parts of parenting is allowing your children to explore who they are. It can be the most terrifying and exhausting experience of your life, especially with cooking. The whole flame, heat, burn thing is a bit frightening with kids. But sometimes you need to throw a little excitement and danger into the mix. Well, at least excitement. So I say, start small. Crack some eggs, spread some flour, make a mess. There are so many things you can do to get kids involved in cooking. Eventually, they might find their own intuitive spirit about food. Such is the case with this recipe. 

Stiletto2 and one of her best friends love to make "creations". Someday I will share with you the blue water terrace cake. Now that was frightening. But until then you will have to be amazed at this simple little recipe they cook up frequently. Way better than any chicken nuggets you get from a grocery store or at a fast food trough (note I didn't call it a restaurant). They took my breading recipe for frying fish, added some ingenuity, set up a station, and sprinkled a little Diva love and care. Presto they created the best chicken nuggets, ahemmmm, I mean bites you ever ate.
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Ingredients
  • 6 Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour (Enough For Dredging)
  • 1 Cup Skim Milk
  • 1 1/2 - 2 Cups Of Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 - 2 Cups Of Vegetable Oil (Enough To Fill Pan About 1/2 Inch)
Preparation
  1. Heat the oil in a relatively flat pan on the stove to about medium. You will need to adjust this throughout to avoid burning the Panko.
  2. Do not wash the chicken.
  3. Cut the chicken into about 1 1/2" pieces. The size will determine how long they cook. Not too big of the Panko will burn.
  4. Place three shallow bowls in a line and fill each one with flour, milk and Panko.
  5. Dredge the chicken in the flour. You can season the flour if you wish, but the Divas do not.
  6. Dip the floured chicken into the milk and then roll into the Panko.
  7. Place the Panko dredged chicken into the oil heated pan and cook about 8 minutes each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Size of chicken and temperature of oil will determine ultimate cooking time. Use a meat thermometer to check if you are uncertain. It should be 165 degrees. Click here for a great food safety cooking chart.
  8. Once done, place on towel covered plate.
  9. Serve with hot sauce. We like Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Sauce. Some may prefer their's with ketchup.

Servings
6 servings.

Nutrition
About 270 calories per serving.

Tips
  • I really hate the taste of canola oil. I think it tastes like the inside of a stale petroleum drum. Go figure. Anyway, I never use it. So I would suggest getting a good vegetable oil. I primarily use the vegetable oil (soybean) from Costco.
  • Do not wash the chicken. This just spreads the chicken juices around the sink and your kitchen. Anything bad will be cooked off during the cooking process.
  • I prefer to use fresh chicken. I think the texture of chicken changes when you freeze it.
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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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This past Monday Stiletto2 got up and made me a breakfast of banana pancakes and coffee; and served it to me in bed. I think it was the best gift a stay at home dad can get on a Monday morning. After that I took her out to practice driving in the school parking lot where we drove over two curbs and a pylon. I didn't blow a gasket and after she got to go to the Twins game with Pistol2, her boyfriend. Perhaps she had a successful plan with her pancakes in bed scheme? So today, I got up and made her pancakes in return. A new one which she liked very much. I hope you enjoy it too. I promise, I had no scheme with the Nutella, bacon, or chocolate...really.
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Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Cool Water
  • 1 1/8 Cup Krusteaz Pancake Mix
  • 4 Slices Cooked Bacon Diced
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Nutella
  • 1/2 Hershey's Chocolate Bar Chopped
  • Butter For Topping
  • Non Stick Spray Or Bacon Fat For Cooking

Preparation
  1. Cook bacon and drain until cool.
  2. Dice the bacon.
  3. Heat the Nutella in a microwave approximately 15 seconds.
  4. Combine the Nutella and water with a whisk.
  5. Add the pancake mix and stir with a fork until combined. Do not over sir.
  6. Add the chocolate and bacon and stir to combine.
  7. Add water or pancake mix to adjust thickness.
  8. Cook in nonstick spray oiled pan or fry in bacon fat. Cook until first side starts to bubble then flip for another minute or so.
  9. Serve with butter as is or with an egg and bacon side.

Servings
3 servings

Nutrition
About 240 calories per serving cooked in non stick spray without butter topping.

Tips
If you want more bacon flavor, definitely fry the cakes in the bacon fat. However, you will need to adjust the calories upward.
 
 
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Smoothies are so popular and kids love them, but most of the time they are loaded with sugar and empty calories because they use concentrated juice or other added ingredients. Not this one. It is fresh, simple, creamy, and loaded with goodness!
Ingredients
  • 1/2 Cup Golden Sweet Frozen Pineapple Chunks
  • 1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Cup Skim Milk (Soy Or Almond Milk Also Works)

Preparation
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or power hand mixer cup.
  2. Blend until smooth. Add additional milk if needed.
  3. Pour in glass and garnish with a piece of fruit.

Servings
1 serving

Nutrition
238 Calories Per Serving

Tips
You can substitute soy or almond milk to make this dairy free. You can also add protein powder. Adjust calories accordingly.