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Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

So, muffin pans – we all have them in our home, but how often do we use them for anything but making delicious ‘out-of-the-box’ cupcakes from Duncan Hines (don’t lie! You love them too!).  I recently read a fantabulous recipe from my hero Martha Stewart on Mini Deep-Dish Pizzas that I tried and know you – and your kids – will say mm, mm, good too! Bon apetito! Oh wait, did I mention they only take 30 minutes to make (including prep time) – oh baby!

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive Oil, for muffin pan
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
  • ½ pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough, in 6 pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella (4 ounces)
  • 1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
  • Desired toppings, such as cooked vegetables, pineapple and ham, or pepperoni

DIRECTIONS:

1.      Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly brush 6 standard muffin cups with oil. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough piece to a 6-inch round. Fill each cup with 1 round, gently pressing dough into bottom and sides of cup. Season with salt and pepper.

2.      Sprinkle each dough cup with 1 tablespoon each cheese and tomato. Add desired toppings and another tablespoon each cheese and tomato. Bake until dough is golden brown and crisp, 12 minutes.

3.      Let cool 2 minutes before removing from cups.

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This recipe appeared in Cooks Illustrated in 2006.

Is there a grown-up person anywhere who cannot remember some of the most amazing macaroni and cheese from their childhood?  Well, I am one of them!  I ironically hate cheese, but my sister Betsy raves about this mac-n-cheese recipe for her kids that is LIGHT and EASY.  This so-called “comfort food” has a zillion recipes, and some people probably prefer the good-ole Kraft box mac and cheese ….but I am personally a big believer in ‘home-made’, but it also has to be easy and quick! This recipe is SPEEDY, easy, and delicious. Mac and cheese is an easy to prepare dish and your kids will eat it without complaint—

As a note, don’t be tempted to use either pre-shredded or nonfat cheddar cheese in this dish—the texture and flavor of the macaroni and cheese will suffer considerably. For best results, choose a low-fat cheddar cheese that is sold in block form and has roughly 50 percent of the fat and calories of regular cheese (we like Cabot brand).

INGREDIENTS:
  
  • Salt 
  • 3/8 lb. elbow macaroni (about 2 cups) 
  • 1 (12-ounce can 2 percent reduced-fact evaporated milk 
  • 2/3 cup low-fat milk (2 percent) 
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard 
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or celery salt (optional) 
  • pinch cayenne pepper 
  • 2 tsps cornstarch 
  • 8 ounces 50 percent lighter chedder cheese (Cabot 50% Light Sharp Cheddar or Cracker Barrel Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese or what you find at the grocery store), grated (about 2 cups) 

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and the macaroni; cook until the pasta is completely cooked and tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.

2. Add the evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the 2 percent milk, mustard, garlic powder (if using), cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the now-empty saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk together, then whisk it into the simmering mixture. Continue to simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened and is smooth, about 2 minutes.

3. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Stir in the macaroni, and let the macaroni and cheese sit off the heat until the sauce has thickened slightly, 2 to 5 minutes, before serving.

PER SERVING:
Cal 360; Fat 10 g; Sat fat 6 g; Chol 40 mg; Carb 45 g; Protein 24 g; Fiber 1 g; Sodium 720 mg

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Miranda and Paulo both in lots o' fish (from le•top's 2010 Spring collection).

It was a gorgeous (and I mean GORGEOUS!) Spring day last Friday. Although I didn’t plan on being outdoors all day, the kids and I ended up doing so. We were only supposed to have lunch with friends then drive back home for my son’s nap. The sun was shining and people were happily walking around. My daughter, Miranda, asked after our meal, “Can we go for a short walk?” (Sure, why not?)

As we walked around Downtown Pleasanton, we saw life-size art figures* displayed sporadically around the street. At a distance we thought they were real people, but as we got closer, we realized they were bronze sculptures. And they were cool! So cool, in fact, my children thought playing around them was more fun than a playground! (This one is inspired by the “American Gothic” painting by Grant Wood, 1928.) Miranda couldn’t get enough! We spent the entire afternoon walking up and down the street counting the number of unique and interesting sculptures we encountered, and admiring the precision and patience the artist put into each work of art. Since we were still in Pleasanton and it was getting late, we called Daddy to meet us here and join us for dinner. So up and down the street we walked again till Daddy showed up.

Who thought we’d spend the day appreciating art? Great idea, Miranda!

(* Works by artist Seward Johnson.)

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Mmmmmm…stew. For those nights when you want something warm and hearty. It takes some preplanning but it’s a easy, healthy and your family will love it.

INGREDIENTS

   • 2-3 pounds beef stew meat
   • 3 cups water
   • 2 beef bouillon cubes
   • 4 cups diced potatoes
   • 2 cups chunked carrots
   • 2 cups diced celery
   • 2 cups diced onions
   • 2 – 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
   • 1 Tablespoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in crockpot (do not brown meat.) Cook in crockpot on high for 6-7 hours. Parsnips may be substitued for some of the potatoes.

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If you kids are anything like mine they’ll just love these quick herb-battered chicken nuggets as an appetizer or a main dish.

Serves 4 peoplethumbnail1

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, seasoned
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Trim any fat from chicken and cut into 1 inch cubes.
  3. In a bowl beat the eggs with the water and add the chicken.
  4. Combine the parsley, thyme, red pepper, bread crumbs, wheat germ, basil and ground pepper. Stir in the oil with a fork and mix well to distribute evenly. Pour seasoning mixture into a resealable plastic bag and the chicken pieces to coat.
  5. Place coated chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10 minutes, turn the pieces and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

source: kaboose.com

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No, I did NOT say that!

No, I did NOT say that!

Mommy, in a few minutes I’m going to have a tantrum because Daddy cooked fish for dinner. And you know that I don’t like fish for dinner.”

– Grace, age 4

Editor’s Note:
Please spread the giggles by sharing your funny quotes with us!

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Omelets are quick and easy and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Have leftovers you want to use up? Throw in last nights taco ingredients and you’ve got a Mexican Omelet.  Using seasonal ingredients can make any omelet delicious!

For this recipe, if you don’t like spinach, arugula can be a great option since it has a nice smoky flavor.

thumbnail1Makes 2 servings.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 6 eggs
• 2/3 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach (with all the water firmly squeezed out)
• 12 quartered grape or cherry tomatoes
• 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
• Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. In a small bowl beat the eggs well. Pour the eggs into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Move the eggs around so that the uncooked portion reaches the bottom of the pan, lifting the cooked portion if needed. Reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle the spinach, tomatoes, and feta cheese over the eggs. Season to taste with the black pepper. Cook until the omelet is golden brown on the bottom, the eggs are set, and the cheese melts, placing a lid over the pan to melt the cheese if necessary. Fold the omelet in half and slide onto a plate. Serve hot.

source: http://www.perfectentertaining.com, recipe by Wen Zientek-Sico

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Adding you favorite herb-flavored cream cheese from your local market or bagel shop makes this burger a breeze to make and oh so tasty. Use a specialty bun for that gourmet touch. The only essential thing when stuffing a burger with cheese is to make sure that the edges are sealed well, to keep the cheese from leaking out during cooking.

Makes 6 servingsthumbnail1
Total Time: 20 min.

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck, 85% lean
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons herbed garlic cream   cheese, such as Boursin
  • Oil for coating grill grate
  • 6 hamburger buns, split

DIRECTIONS:
Using your hands, mix the beef, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl until well blended; do not overmix. Using a light touch, form into 12 patties no more than 1/2 inch thick.

Put a portion (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) of cheese in the center of each of 6 patties; top with the remaining patties and press together, taking care to seal the edges well.
Refrigerate the burgers until the grill is ready. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the burgers on the grill, cover, and cook for 9 minutes, flipping after 5 minutes, for medium-done (150 degrees F, slightly pink). Add a minute per side for well-done (160 degrees F).
To toast the buns, put them cut sides down directly over the fire for the last minute of cooking. If serving the burgers directly from the grill, serve on the buns. If the burgers will sit, even for a few minutes, keep the buns and burgers separate until just before eating.

source: ivillage.com

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Table-Side Guacamole Maker

Table-Side Guacamole Maker

A few weeks ago we had a successful and exciting start to our Spring 2010 season at the Children’s Club Show in New York!  The le•top team, exhausted but happy, was rewarded each evening by the wonderful restaurants that populate New York – we do have a reward besides the satisfaction of happy customers!

Eating is always one of the highlights of our trip, since we LOVE good food!  We have our favorite places, including Gotham Bar and Grill (beautiful, and just FEELS like New York,) Il Cantinori (great Italian with lots of ‘celebrity spotting’) and  Parma (a REALLY OLD favorite – in every way!)  By the way…New York has FABULOUS Italian food, and always seems different than what is available here in California (because New York is closer to Italy than we are???)

The le•top crew (Californians all!) decided to break it up a little and sample some cuisine native to our area at Rosa Mexicano, an energetic and happening restaurant with 3 locations in Manhattan.  We hit the location at Union Square that features architectural accents inspired by the late, famed Mexican architect, Luis Barragan, including an illuminated electric-blue tiled water wall featuring cliff diver figurines and candles within the cascading water – very cool!  We jumped at experiencing the table-side guacamole, both spicy and mild …then just had to order a third bowl!  Honestly, this is the best guacamole!  We enjoyed all Rosa’s menu items, including enchilada suisas, chicken flautas and tortilla soup – and of course treated ourselves to some fabulous Margaritas!  After indulging we were spiced up and eager for another great day at the Children’s Club Show!

NYIf you are ever in Manhattan and want a taste of Mexico, be sure to visit any of Rosa Mexicano’s three locations, you won’t be disappointed!  Ole’!

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Here is a quick and delicious meal….

Makes: 5 servings
Prep: 10 minutes excluding the chicken prep
Cook: 4 minutesthumbnail1

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1
clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan, divided
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound shredded cooked chicken
3
cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 16-ounce loaf unsliced country-style or focaccia bread

DIRECTIONS

1. In blender, combine lemon juice, garlic, 3 tablespoons Parmesan, the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and pepper until blended. With motor running, slowly pour in oil until well combined.
 
2. In a large bowl, combine chicken and lettuce. Stir in 2 tablespoons dressing, mixing to coat well. Split bread in half horizontally. Scoop out inside of bread, leaving crust shell. Brush bread shells with remaining dressing, then sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan cheese. Place the chicken mixture on one shell of bread; top with other shell to create sandwich. Firmly press sandwich to seal.

3. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Spray top and bottom of sandwich with vegetable cooking spray. Place in pan, then put a cast-iron pan on top and push down (you can use any heavy pan, or cook the sandwich in a panini maker). Cook 2 minutes. Remove heavy pan and carefully flip sandwich over. Cover again with heavy pan, and cook 2 minutes longer. Cut into 5 slices.

source: http://www.parents.com

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