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Apple Tuna Melts with Broccoli Slaw

tuna meltsTHE VERDICT:

I  am a big tuna melt fan, so when I came across this recipe for tuna melts topped with slices of apple, I had to try it. I was especially curious to find out if the flavours of apple and tuna would mix well together. The answer? They do! These tuna melts are super tasty, and it’s that apple/tuna flavour combo that makes them so good.

These tuna melts are great for a light lunch, but also pair well with a bowl of soup for a hearty dinner. We’ve made them several times and typically serve them with salad. This weekend we served them with a packaged broccoli slaw, which is a crunchy and flavourful alternative to traditional cabbage slaw. It’s made of shredded broccoli stems, carrots and purple cabbage. We jazz it up with a little Miracle Whip and some raisins and/or sunflower seeds. It is available at most grocery stores that sell salad kits.

We didn’t serve these melts to Zayden as they’re a little beyond his self-feeding skills at the moment, but he did enjoy some apple slices and an English muffin with peanut butter for his lunch, so we didn’t have to completely reinvent the wheel in order to feed him at the same time.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Apple Tuna Melts (source: Today’s Parent magazine; original recipe)

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Tomato, Sausage and Bean Soup

Sausage SoupTHE VERDICT:

If you’re in the mood for something warm and hearty like chili, but don’t want to be weighed down by such a heavy dish, this soup may just fit the bill. It is a great 30-minute-or-less meal that offers everything you love about chili with a fresher, soupier twist. You can spice it up with green chili or spicy sausage or keep it pretty mild depending on your taste. While it would fill you up all on it’s own, we think it goes great with garlic bread–but doesn’t everything?

This soup is excellent for a toddler who is proficient with solids. On picky nights, it is easy enough to pick out the tolerable chunks of food. The rest of the time, it offers very balanced nutrition.

The recipe serves 10, which means plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunches if your family is a small one like ours. It definitely reheats well.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Hearty Tomato, Sausage and Bean Soup (source: Canadian Living magazine; original recipe)

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Vegetable and Red Lentil Soup

lentil soupTHE VERDICT:

I love a good vegetable soup, but this one puts a yummy twist on the classic. A touch of curry, some coconut milk, red lentils and zucchini dress up the usual round up of vegetables. It quickly became a winter favourite after the first time we tried this recipe a few years ago. The fact that it’s easy to throw together is another plus. If you’re good at chopping veggies, you can have this soup on the table in about 25-30 minutes.

It is a tasty, but low calorie soup, so it’s great for those whose new year’s resolution was to lose a few pounds, but it pairs well with grilled paninis or garlic toast if you’re looking for a more substantial meal. While the recipe calls for chicken stock, you could easily substitute in some vegetable stock and you would have a great vegan soup on your hands.

The leftovers taste amazing because the curry flavours have had time to develop, so this makes a great lunch for the next day as well.

In this house, it is also a very kid-friendly meal because Z loves anything with a touch of curry.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Vegetable and Red Lentil Soup (source: Good Food Fast by Australian Women’s Weekly)

2 tbsp. mild curry paste

400g can of diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken stock

1 large carrot, chopped finely

2 trimmed celery sticks, chopped finely

1 medium potato, chopped finely

1 large zucchini, chopped finely

3/4 cup red lentils

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/3 cup light coconut milk

  • Cook curry paste in heated large saucepan, stirring, about 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Add undrained tomatoes, stock, carrot, celery, potato and zucchini; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 5 minutes.
  • Add lentils to soup mixture; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  • Add peas; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer soup mixture, uncovered, until peas are just tender.
  • Remove soup from heat and stir in coconut milk.

Serves 6

Total time: 30 minutes

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Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Open-Faced Sandwiches

Pumpkin soupTHE VERDICT:

This was certainly the perfect soup to usher in the fall, and you can expect lots of soup reviews from us as the weather cools as soup is one of our favourite  foods to enjoy during the chilly and rainy winter months. This soup is a breeze to prepare, so it’s a wonderful weeknight warm up. Leftovers taste even better the next day once the flavours have had time to marinate.

If you have the option when grocery shopping, select the larger can of pumpkin. We’ve used both sizes and find a standard-sized can greatly reduces the overall pumpkin flavour.

There is no need to modify this soup recipe for baby as it is a pureed soup. To thicken it and add a boost of iron, just add some rice cereal.  Zayden really enjoyed this soup, but that’s not a surprise. He’s a soup-a-holic. Whenever he has soup, he goes in to hysterics if we don’t shovel it in fast enough. Thanks to his passion for soup we’ve learned a few tricks to help speed up delivery. We thicken it with rice cereal and thicker soup results in less drips, and he can get it off the spoon more easily. We also pop an ice cube into the soup to help cool it down faster so we don’t have to blow on every spoonful.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Spiced Pumpkin Soup (source: Spark Recipes; original recipe)

Build Your Own Open-Faced Sandwich (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

1-2 slices of bread per person, toasted (we suggest ciabatta, French bread or sourdough)

A condiment of your choice, optional (we suggest Dijon mustard)

About 50 g of deli meat per person (we suggest smoked turkey, salami or black forest ham)

Sliced or shredded cheese (we suggest cheddar, swiss, jack or havarti)

Some sliced veggies of your choice (we suggest red onion, green peppers and/or tomatoes)

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Spread pre-toasted bread with condiment, if using.
  • Top bread slices with meat, cheese and veggies.
  • Bake in oven until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 5-7 minutes.


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Pasta With Fresh Greens

Pasta with Fresh GreensTHE VERDICT:

This recipe blew my mind. So simple and yet so good. The delicious success of this recipe made me realize how consistently good the recipes from Today’s Parent magazine are. I have enjoyed almost every recipe we have made from the magazine and I’d say that my top 3 favourite new recipes have all come from there this year:

1. Fresh Tomato Pasta

2. Parmesan Chicken Cutlets

3. Sneaky Snack Bars

Clearly it’s a great resource for parents looking for healthy recipe ideas to feed their families, but I think any home chef would benefit from checking out the recipes on their website.

To modify this recipe for baby: Tear your greens into bite-sized pieces that are small enough for baby to handle. Choose small noodles or cut noodles into smaller pieces. Zayden’s verdict was a definite thumbs up, but our baby is a big pasta fan, so this was going to be an easy sell no matter what.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Pasta With Fresh Greens (source: Today’s Parent magazine; original recipe)

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Lime Marinated Steak with Grilled Zucchini

Steak & ZucchiniTHE VERDICT:

This dinner was super easy because the marinade is not a true marinade. You don’t have to remember to prepare it ahead of time, so  you can prepare this meal at the last minute, and it will still taste great. The only change I would make to this recipe is to prepare more zucchini. There was plenty of leftover steak, but no leftover veggies. Zucchini grills well, but I think I’d prefer it with salt and butter instead of the spices suggested in this recipe.

To modify for baby: Make sure to cook the steak thoroughly then mince or puree it unless baby already has quite few teeth. Toothier babies may be able to chew the steak if it’s cut into small pieces. The zucchini will be quite soft when it comes off the grill, so it just needs to be cut into small enough pieces for your little one to handle. We found that Zayden can manage cooked zucchini skin, but if your baby isn’t so proficient, you may want to remove the skin as well.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Lime Marinated Steak with Grilled Zucchini (source: Today’s Parent magazine; original recipe)

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The Mediterranean Crackers That Never Were

Zayden chows downTHE VERDICT:

We never ended up making the crackers themselves. Zayden has recently transitioned for three naps down to two, which has moved his bedtime a little earlier, so we’ve been sitting down to dinner earlier and the afternoon snack is no longer needed. We did end up making our own hummus using a recipe I’ve had for ages and have always used with great success. I got it out of Seventeen magazine (*blush*) when I was in high school, and it has been one of my staple party foods ever since. I often add a little more garlic than the recipe calls for because I believe there is no such thing as too much garlic, and I think it tastes better if you use fresh squeezed lemon juice instead of the kind from a bottle.

I ended up using the hummus and veggies that we bought for this recipe to make a pretty tasty lunch: I smeared a pita with hummus, topped it with sliced tomato and cucumber, sprinkled on some salt and pepper and folded it up like a taco and took it on a picnic. Very yummy. Zayden also enjoyed the hummus. It’s definitely a very baby-friendly food. It’s a puree with few ingredients, so great for a little guy just starting solids. It’s also an excellent protein alternative if your little one hasn’t quite warmed up to meat yet.  And I know lots of moms with older kids who use hummus to trick their kids into eating more veggies because it’s such a popular dip. Definitely a food that will please the whole family.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPES:

Hummus (source: Seventeen magazine)

1 pound can of chickpeas

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup tahini

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. salt and pepper

paprika

olive oil

freshly chopped parsley

  • Pour some of the liquid from the chickpeas into a food processor or blender. Then drain the chickpeas.
  • Add lemon juice, garlic and tahini to the food processor or blender. Blend together.
  • Add chickpeas, salt and pepper. Blend again.
  • Spoon into a bowl. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika and parsley.
  • Chill.
  • Serve with pita or veggies for dipping.

Mediterranean Crackers (source: Clean Eating magazine)

5 Armenian whole-wheat crackers, or similar, topped with:

2 Tbsp. hummus

1/4 cup chopped tomato

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

1 tsp. lemon zest

Makes 1 serving.

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Spanish Pork and Redskin Potatoes

Spanish PorkTHE VERDICT:

This was one of the first recipes we tried from Clean Eating magazine. It promised to be a 20-minute meal, which it would be for anyone who is good at prepping vegetables. Most of the veggies are frozen or need only to be sliced, but the mincing of the tomato and bell pepper will slow you down a bit and will take most casual cooks beyond the 20 minute mark. But it is definitely quick to prepare regardless.

My feelings towards this dish are lukewarm. I liked the simple flavours of the potatoes, but didn’t find that two redskin potatoes yielded 2 cups of potatoes as the recipe claimed. Even if they did, I think a 1/2 cup of potatoes is a pretty stingy side dish and a 1/4 oz. of goat cheese is pretty skimpy too. Unless you are on a strict diet, I would prepare a few more potatoes and add a little extra cheese to them.

The main dish was pretty tasty and definitely packed in a lot of veggies, but it’s not something I would typically make again because it wasn’t a really standout meal. But I will probably make an exception in this case because it is so healthy and because Zayden enjoyed it so much. For parents looking to feed young babies table food, this is a great recipe because all you have to do is pick out the big rings of onion and slices of zucchini; the other ingredients are all small enough for baby to chew and swallow without difficulty. Babies with a good pincer grasp could even feed the little chunks to themselves though it can be a little messy because of the paprika. The paprika and lemon juice give the dish lots of flavour without adding tons of extra fat, salt or sugar like many sauces–definitely baby and parent friendly.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPE:

Spanish Pork with Redskins (source: Clean Eating magazine)

2 redskin potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

1 medium onion, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 cloves garlic chopped into slivers

3/4 lb. extra-lean ground pork

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen corn

1 Tbsp. sweet paprika

1 red bell pepper, minced

1 medium tomato, chopped

Juice 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp. dried sage

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1 oz. goat cheese

  • Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes. Pierce potatoes with a knife to make sure they’re tender, them remove from heat and drain.
  • While potatoes are cooking, saute zucchini and onion in 1 1/2 tsp. oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to prevent garlic from burning. Stir in pork, peas, corn and paprika. Cook for 5 more minutes, making sure that all ingredients are distributed evenly across the surface of the pan.
  • Remove pork mixture from heat and stir in bell pepper, tomato and lemon juice. Cover with lid to keep warm while finishing potatoes.
  • Gently toss potatoes with remaining  1 1/2 tsp. oil. Add sage and thyme and season with salt and black pepper. Place about 1/2 cup of  potatoes alongside quarter of pork mixture on each plate, then crumble quarter of cheese over top before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Hands on time: 20 minutes Total time: 20 minutes

Nutrients per serving: 350 calories, 9 g fat, 35 g carbs, 33 g protein, 156 mg sodium, 26 mg cholesterol

Nutritional Bonus: Herbs and spices don’t simply add flavour. When combined, 1 tsp. of sage and 1 tsp. of thyme contain 32% of your daily vitamin K and 1 Tbsp. of paprika has 71% of your vitamin A requirement.

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Honey-Wasabi Grilled Shrimp with Tomato and Bocconcini Salad

Wasabi Shrimp with Tomato-Bocconchini SaladTHE VERDICT:

Both of these recipes are easy to make and extremely tasty.  We used wasabi paste for the shrimp marinade and halved the amount based on the recipe, which used wasabi powder.  Next time I’d use closer to the same amount of paste as powder, as the shrimp could have used more kick.  The tomato-bocconcini salad was inspired by the traditional Caprese, but we did a mini-version, with heirloom cherry tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market, baby bocconcini, basil and olive oil.

This was a very quick meal to throw together, but still might make a better weekend meal because shrimp tends to get rubbery when reheated. That might explain why the  recipe made just enough shrimp for dinner with no leftovers.   The salad kept well for lunch the next day. I think we might use pearl or cocktail size bocconcini next time, as the baby bocconcini was a little big.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Honey-Wasabi Grilled Shrimp (source: Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine; original recipe)

Tomato and Bocconcini Salad (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

4 or more cups of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 container of baby or cocktail bocconcini

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, sliced into thin strips

olive oil

coarsely ground black pepper

  • Combine first three ingredients in a salad bowl.
  • Drizzle with olive oil.
  • Add pepper to taste.


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Fettuccine with Chicken, Goat Cheese & Spinach

Chicken Fettuccine

Food styling by S. Price

THE VERDICT:

We made this meal on a night when we were having some friends over for dinner. It was easy to prepare, which meant we could focus on our guests rather than on our kitchen. As easy as it was to prepare, it required a lot of pots. We needed one to cook the pasta, one to make the sauce and a third to cook the chicken and saute the spinach. That’s a lot of dishes to wash for a simple, one bowl supper. But the clean up factor was the only thing I didn’t like about this dish.

Justin found the sauce a little dry, but we would easily fix that by adding a little reserved cooking water to the dish when we’re tossing the ingredients together next time. We didn’t have any leftovers to test out, but the dryness of the sauce is an indicator that this dish would not reheat well. We definitely recommend planning it for a night where you don’t need leftovers for lunch the next day. If your family isn’t big enough to eat it all at one meal, make sure you invite someone over to share it with you. It’s too good to waste.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Fettucine with Chicken, Goat Cheese and Spinach (source: Fine Cooking: Fresh & Quick magazine; original recipe)

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