August 12, 2013

After School Snacks for Picky Eaters
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This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Cooking Light, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #BTSatSafeway

In the spirit of the Back-to-School season, here's a pop quiz:

True or False?

1. My child is hungry when they come home from school.
2. My child is a picky eater.
3. I prefer to feed my child foods that are minimally processed and have nutritional value.
4. I enjoy trying new recipes.

If you answered True to any of the above, we have something in common.

Shortly before school started last week, I had the opportunity to apply for a campaign to work with CookingLight Magazine on a Back-to-School post focusing on quick, easy and healthy recipes for picky eaters. Since I'm a longtime fan of CookingLight recipes, shop at Safeway, and have two very picky eaters starting school this month, I knew that this campaign would have real value for me and my readers.

I'm as picky about cookbooks as my girls are about food.  I tend to write most of my own recipes, or cull my favorite online sources for a single recipe rather than buying a whole book.  However, every now and then I come across a rare gem -- A cookbook so replete with artfully crafted, unique and delicious recipes that before I know it, 90% of the pages are dog-eared.  Such is the case with Super-Easy Recipe Shortcuts, a bookazine from CookingLight.  

The 96 page bookazine has a cover-price of $11.99 (U.S.), but with the $3 off coupon available online from Safeway's just for U portal, it's only $8.99 (and is worth every penny).  Super-Easy Recipe Shortcuts has 117 weeknight dinner ideas, 23 main dishes you can make with rotisserie chicken, and lots of family friendly recipes.  Here's a taste of why I think this book makes the grade: 

  • Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Tartlets (page 11)
  • Bacon-Corn Chowder with Shrimp (page 25)
  • Hoisin-Glazed Steak with Sesame Vegetables (page 36)
  • Rösti Casserole with Baked Eggs (page 44)
  • Open-Faced Apricot-Chipotle Chicken Club (page 50)
  • Steak-House Pizza (page 69)
  • Browned Butter Gnocchi (page 75)
  • Butternut-Kale Lasagna (page 76)
  • Dark Cherry Merlot Sauce (page 80)
  • Peach Cobbler Ice Cream with Bourbon Caramel Sauce (page 88)

Extra Credit

Which of the following describes one or both of my daughters:

a) Is a picky eater
b) Is allergic to gluten
c) Has a major sweet tooth
d) Doesn't drink milk
e) All of the above.

If you selected (e), give yourself a gold star.  Given these challenging criteria for after school snacks, I was overjoyed to find several recipes in Super-Easy Recipe Shortcuts from CookingLight that were a big hit with my girls. 

First, the Baked Mozzarella Bites (page 15) are a perfect savory snack for my little one.  They have all the delicious flavors of pizza, but without all of the grease.  Since my daughter doesn't drink milk, this snack helps with calcium.  Using only 3 simple ingredients, the mozzarella bites are quick and easy to prepare -- a healthy and delicious homemade snack in around 15 minutes.

Baked Mozzarella Bites

(adapted from CookingLight)

  • 1/3 cup cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3 (1-ounce) sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • Marinara sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

1.  Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add panko to pan; cook 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat, and place panko in a small bowl.

2.  Cut mozzarella sticks into 1-inch pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, dip cheese in beaten egg; dredge in panko.  Place cheese on a baking sheet, or in the cavities of a mini muffin tin coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake for 3 minutes or until the cheese is softened and thoroughly heated.  Don't overcook, or the mozzarella will loose its shape. 

3.  Allow bites to cool for a few minutes before serving with a bowl of warm marinara sauce.

Picky Eater Tip:  Once a week, let the kids plan the menu. This is a chance to give them control over the meal.

For the gluten-free girl with the sweet tooth, I like these protein packed popcorn balls.  The original recipe calls for honey-nut oat cereal.  I replaced it with rice cereal to make the treats gluten free.  I also slightly upped the amount of popcorn, to help make the snack less sugary.  The great thing about this recipe is that it's very versatile.  Use the cereal and add-ins that your family likes.

Brown Butter Cereal Popcorn Balls

(adapted from CookingLight) 
  • 3 tablespoons unpopped popcorn, air-popped (approx. 4 cups popped)
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 cup cereal (I used rice Chex)
  • 1/4 cup chopped honey-roasted peanuts
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Continue to cook until light brown.  Add marshmallows and stir continuously, over low heat, until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.  Stir 2 minutes.  Form into 10 3-inch balls.  Optional:  insert stick.  Wrap each ball in wax paper to preserve for the lunchbox.

Picky Eater Tip: Have everyone say “thank you” before each meal and mention something nice that happened that day. This little ritual starts the meal on a positive note, setting the stage for more positive attitudes toward trying new foods.

 You can take advantage of the $3 off coupon for
Super-Easy Recipe Shortcuts from CookingLight
through Safeway's just for U portal
through August 30, 2013.

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