Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sizzling Chicken Fajita Salad

I am doing all kinds of happy dances today over this recipe.  As much as I love looking at pretty pictures of food, when it comes time to roll up my sleeves and get down to cooking dinner, I want stuff that's REAL. That means I shouldn't have to make a run to the store for specialty ingredients, nor should I have to enroll in cooking school to learn a complicated cooking technique. Flights of cooking fancy are all well and good but sometimes despite the drool worthy photo, the recipe itself may not be practical. 

Exhibit A: How many of you thought I was crazy to make this?

Or what about this?

Oh my word, I can't even believe myself on that last one!

I am amazed that no one left a comment that said, "Lady you are CRAZY!"

Bless your hearts. I am grateful that you are such kind readers

In my defense I only take leave of my senses like that when I am on vacation and have oodles of time on my hands. The rest of the time, I am pretty much like any other working mom looking for food that I can bring to the table quick step.

As soon as I saw this chicken fajita recipe over at realmomkitchen I knew it would be crazy not to try it.

All you do is season chicken, cut up vegetables, toss everything in the oven and done.

In an effort to eat a little healthier I am trying to turn some of my favourite meals into salads.

Pizza salad anyone? See how that works?

This chicken fajita recipe easily adapts and becomes a salad.

Tried it. Liked it. Now go do it!

Chicken Fajita Salad
Servings 4

1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 or 2 tsp chili powder (optional)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
I large yellow or purple onion
1 large green bell pepper (seeded and sliced)
2 large red bell peppers(seeded and sliced)
4 tortillas
4 ounces such as shredded pepper jack cheese
4 ounces sour cream
5 cups lettuce (shredded)

Season chicken with oil, chili, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and garlic. Place in a greased 13' X 19' casserole dish and let marinate in the fridge for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

Chop the peppers and onions. Add this to the chicken just before it is ready for the oven. Stir and turn over the vegetables with the chicken to coat with spice mixture.

Place the casserole dish in oven and. Bake uncovered for 30 - 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. During the last few minutes of cooking warm tortillas and cut into triangles to serve alongside the salad. Serve on a bed of lettuce with a dollop of sour cream.

COOKS TIP: My children don't like the heat of the chili powder so I omit it and sprinkle pepper flakes over my own serving.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tropical Eton Mess

It is ridiculous how much I love curd.

I love meringues too but really it's all about curd.

I go crazy for passion fruit, lemon, tangerine...... any kind of curd so long as there is a egg rich, creamy, buttery,  conglomeration of sweet and sour.

I can't seem to stop of dreaming up recipes that use curd.

Yes, my life is in fact THAT boring. You may take a moment to roll your eyes and appreciate the fact that I need therapy.

However while you contemplate the superior lameness that is my life, might I interest you in a dessert recipe that takes just 2 mins to throw together?

Uhmm...oh yeah, it uses curd.

Tropical Eton Mess
Servings: 4 messes:-)

1 cup cream chilled
4 large meringue nests
3/4 cup passion fruit curd ( or whatever flavour you prefer)
pomegranate molasses (optional)

Beat the cream in a chilled stainless steel bowl until thick.
Layer some crushed meringue, 2 tablespoons curd and 3 tablespoons cream in serving glasses. Drizzle pomegranate molasses over the top. Serve immediately.

If you are wondering where in Trinidad you can get meringue nests follow this link to my amazing baker friend Simply Edible. She'll hook you up no problem.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

3 Tips to Get your Kids to Eat Everything

Around here we have a spirit of adventure about food. Quite a few times my friends will express disbelief that my children actually eat everything that I prepare and post here. They absolutely do - sometimes with a little more urging than at other times but I can assure you that we all eat the same meal. I am not saying that I never have meal time battles, I am just saying that we are progressing towards where they happen less often. Enough people have asked me how I get my children to eat the food that I prepare so I thought I might share a few things that work for me.

First off, this did not happen by accident. When my children were babies I had a very clear philosophy about food that I wanted them to embrace. You see, as a child I was a picky eater.  However I grew into an adult that loves and appreciates a wide variety of food and I wanted the same for my children. I grew up thinking that I did not like a lot of things until I realized that I needed to train my palette to appreciate certain foods. Upon reflection, I realized that most of the what that I hated were foods with a bitter taste such as watercress, melongene, bhaji (amaranth) and caralli (bitter gourd). The other category of foods on my hate list were those with an earthy flavour, such as beets and liver. I recently had the displeasure of tasting arugula. Arugula definitely falls into the earthy category, ugh. Could someone not have warned me that the thing tastes like manure?!!! Peppery manure but still, gah!

Start early. Train children's taste buds to appreciate sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami tastes. My mother-in-law thought I was crazy when I led with pureed spinach and not mashed bananas. My thinking was that babies are a blank palette without any preconceived notions about food. They take their cues from the adults in their lives and can be taught from a very young age to love a wide variety of things.

I chose to start with what I considered to be the more difficult tastes to acquire. After all no one really needs to learn to like sweet. It seems to me that we all have an innate tendency to like sweet and salty things, don't we? Thus, I introduced those tastes last and in moderate amounts. When considering new foods you should also offer a variety of textures. I didn't do as well on that. As a result my children are more likely to balk at a strange texture more than a foreign taste. Can I tell you that peanut butter is a difficult sell around here because of that.

Expose your children to a wide variety of food. More importantly let them see that you are excited to try new foods. Of course we couldn't afford to eat like this everyday but once I see something new, you can be sure I get excited to bring it to the table at least once. I have never had asparagus before. It doesn't grow here and I have only ever seen canned asparagus in the supermarket. Naturally when I saw fresh asparagus for the first time, I immediately brought some home to try it.

Introduce new foods alongside something on their plate that they like. Our table rule is that you don't have to like it but you DO have to TASTE it. You must take at least 3 bites before you will be allowed to push it aside. I  point out to my children that there are foods that I do not like but in order to be healthy and have a balanced diet I still have to eat them.

Having stuff on the plate that you know they will like, ensures that they don't leave the table hungry and the entire meal is not a huge battle. Don't make a big deal of the uneaten portion. In the early stages my husband and I let them see us eating their leftovers. When they were toddlers we would ham it up a bit and say things like. "You don't like carilli. No problem, that just means more for me. Yum!'

Nutritionists will tell you that it takes 10 to 15 tries - possibly more for a child to start eating and eventually like a new food. The key here is not to stress and have lots of patience. In the mean time I suggest you dish out a smaller serving for yourself so that you can be prepared to consume the leftovers and not have it go to waste.

As the months went by, my children became less resistant to new foods and we encouraged more bites. I have read that the French attitude when someone doesn't like a particular food is to say, "You just haven't tried it enough times." I don't know about that. I grew up not liking liver and I am of the opinion that it was offered to me too often. Groan, I still don't like liver - let's not tell the kids! However I do now enjoy all the bitter foods that I once hated.
What is your personal philosophy about food? Are you yourself a picky eater? Are there foods you avoid?