Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spanish Chicken with Rice

Great easy recipe and one of our go-to dishes.  It's made in the crock-pot, which means that it takes some upfront dedication. In fact, the prep takes a bit longer than I'd like, so I reserve for a Sunday afternoon cooking session.  But after it's done, it's mushy goodness, easy to store and reheat for at least 2 weeknight dinners. I've been embracing our crock-pot a lot, so much that we recently upgraded to a brand new model.

It also passes our toddler seal of approval: heart healthy, has 3 food groups (protein, carbs and veggies), easy to chew, and easy to reheat.

Babygirl loves this dish, and will eat it heartily.  We've also experimented with adding zucchini and yellow squash, and it works pretty well.   Please note that we don't give our kid sausage, as we feel it'd be too fatty.  However, we cook it all together for the flavor.   More sausage for the adults...

The recipe is slightly adapted from the "Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Bible"

  • 2 table spoons olive oil  * we don't use oil, just heat ingredients in a Teflon pan
  • 11 oz cooked kielbasa, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs *for a leaner option, you can use chicken breast, and it still tastes juicy
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups white rice 
  • 1 cup diced carrots *or more
  • 1 bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth  *preferably homemade or sodium-free
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  1. On a medium skillet, brown sausage on both sides.  Transfer to crock-pot with slotted spoon.  You could also blot them with a paper towel to reduce the fat content
  2. Add onions, garlic to skillet.  Add chicken and brown on all sides.  This is easier if the chicken is cut into small pieces.  Transfer to crock-pot
  3. Add rice, carrots, bell pepper, salt, black pepper and saffron to crock-pot.  Pour broth over mixture until everything is just covered.  This should be about 4 cups.  Cover, cook on HIGH for 4 hours.
  4. Before serving, stir in peas.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  It helps if your crock-pot has a WARM setting.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Super Simple Chicken Soup

We made this because Babygirl is sick, and you know what they say, chicken soup is the best for colds. My mom taught me this recipe, and it is one of those things that's in the family and has never really been written down.  I like it because it tastes great (always a plus), and is super easy to make.   

My personal rule with chicken soup is that you should be able to make it for yourself when you're sick.  So efficiency is of the essence.


  • 1 lb of chicken drumsticks or thighs (the soup comes out tastier if the chicken has bone, but then it's harder to eat later)
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • 2 potatoes, cut into large pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, cut into large pieces (if using baby carrots, about a third of a pack, no need to chop)
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • salt and pepper
  • oregano
  • 1/3  pack of angel hair pasta
  • Put a bit of water on large pot, add chicken, onion, potatoes, carrots, celery and tomatoes.  Add water until all ingredients are covered
  • Put on high heat until boiling, then lower temperature to lowest setting and simmer covered for at least 30 minutes.  The longer it simmers, the softer the veggies.   Check that chicken is cooked with a fork.
  • At the very end, season with salt, pepper and oregano.  At this point, also put pasta and boil for only 5 - 8 minutes
  • Enjoy
  • This soup can be as easy or complicated as you want.  Personally, I keep my veggies very large because the whole boiling process makes them mushy.  Also, I like eating big chunks of onion.  If you want to chop the veggies into tiny pieces, suit yourself.  I'm just lazy.
  • It's very easy to make substitutions. Sometimes, I skip the tomato or celery, depending on what's in the fridge.  Though I keep the veggies in the Mediterranean family.  
  • This is a recent tip I learned from my aunt: put the oregano at the very end.  Apparently, if the oregano boils and simmers for too long, it can taste bitter.  While if you throw it in at the very end, it keeps a fresh taste
  • Many times we substitute sweet potatoes for the potatoes.  Babygirl loooves sweet potatoes.
  • For kids, it's probably easier to substitute soup pastas.  When I was a kid, I loved alphabet or star pastas.  Easier to put on the little spoons.
  • The veggies and chicken should come out very soft and mushy.  Excellent for kids without molars.
  • It's very important to choose a part of the chicken with natural fats.  We currently prefer boneless skinless chicken thigh, making sure to keep the pieces the fatty sections.  Without the chicken fat, the soup lacks flavor.  It tastes even better if the chicken has skin, but it's a hassle to serve with a toddler.   If you're using lean chicken breast, I'd recommend adding a bit of olive oil.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Low Fat Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Babygirl just got diagnosed with her first ear infection, and the doctor prescribed her antibiotics.  Apparently,a antibiotics can wreck havoc on a toddler's digestive system, and we were recommended yogurt to help balance the side effects. Any flavor, and any fat content, so long as it has a live culture.

Ahhh... yogurt.  Unfortunately, Babygirl decided to be a picky eater today and refused the Greek yogurt she usually gobbles up for breakfast.  So what's a creative parent to do?  What's that thing Mary Poppins says?  Just a spoonful of sugar.... right?

We have a single serve ice cream maker that we'd been dying to use.  The system is simple: pre-freeze the bowl for at least 8 hours, place ingredients on bowl, and place lid on it.  The lid comes with special blades that blend the ingredients into ice cream.  Turn contraption on for 6 - 12 minutes.  Enjoy.

This recipe is adapted from Hamilton Beach, the company behind the ice cream maker.  The recipe was originally for the 1.5 quart model, so we had to adjust the quantities.  We also substituted blueberries instead of mixed berries, since Babygirl is a blueberry fan.


  • 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed slightly and mashed
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup low fat plain yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup half 'n half


  • Mix all ingredients into pre-frozen bowl.  Follow ice cream maker instructions.
Not bad for our first time with the ice cream maker, though we still need to tinker with the recipe a bit.  The flavor was great, but the consistently was too mushy.  This might just be an issue when using yogurt, but we'll experiment with different amounts of half 'n half, and how long to keep blending it.

First Post

Someday I will update this entry, when I have found my voice.  Have you seen my writing voice? I think it's hiding behind the couch.

We enjoy cooking and eating out.  When our daughter, Babygirl, started eating solids at 6 months, we were super excited to cook all her purees and meals.  As she's grown into a toddler, we've been trying to ride that balance between kid friendly foods, and meals that we also enjoy. 

What makes a meal toddler friendly?  Not too spicy, easy to chew (she's just getting her molars), easy to reheat in case she doesn't finish her portion, heart healthy.  It also helps if it's easy to store and reheat, preparations isn't too time consuming, and has at least 3 food groups per serving.

So far Babygirl has been a champion eater, going through occasional picky days.  She loves fruits and veggies, munching on whole wheat tortillas,  and has no idea what chicken nuggets are.  Bless her.