Spinach and kale tots

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

One reliable way I could get some greens into M was to present things as a “tot.” He really loved the Spinach and Kale Bites from Trader Joe’s, but our store has been out of them for weeks. So here is my copycat version.

Take me to the tots (recipe)!

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

Note my use of the past tense up there.

M is still in his picky phase that I’ve mentioned before. He’s off of hummus, but full steam ahead with smoothies. One day he loves yogurt and the next he won’t touch it. Some days, carrots are a safe food and other days broccoli is his only vegetable. One day he’ll ask for a bowl of peas (straight up with nothing on them) and another day he’s picking them out of his mac and cheese. It’s maddening.

However, food refusal is a normal part of eating for kids. It’s hard to learn how to eat! Their taste buds are changing, their caloric needs swing wildly from day to day, and part of a preschooler’s job is to push against boundaries, so if there are rules around food in your house, they’ll try to break them. It’s how kids operate.

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

One of my big things is making the same food for the whole family, so the good news here is that I really like these tots and they’re packed with veggies, so they make a good snack for the grownups as well.

Make these tots! One day my kid will eat them, I’m sure. And until then, I’ll eat them.

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

Spinach and kale tots

1 bag frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 bag frozen kale, thawed and squeezed dry
¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup shredded mozzarella
Heaping ½ tsp sea salt
Heaping ½ tsp onion powder
Heaping ½ tsp garlic powder
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350.

Thaw and squeeze dry a bag of spinach and a bag of kale. To achieve a smoother texture in your tots, pulse the dried greens in a food processor 10-15 times. You may need to squeeze with another towel if more liquid is released.

Place the squeezed dry greens in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well to combine.

Take about 1½-2 Tbsp of the mixture and press into a nugget shape with your palms.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until the nuggets feel solid when you push on them lightly.  

Yield: about 24-26 tots 

Spinach and kale tots | Me & The Moose. These “tots” are filled with super greens and come together quickly for an easy side, lunchbox filler, or snack. #meandthemoose #homemadetots #tots #totsrecipe #lunchboxrecipes #veggiesnacks #kidfoodrecipes #kale #spinach #kidseatgreens

Meatless Mondays: Spinach pasta

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After consuming roughly 10 lbs of sugar while making M's 3rd birthday sushi cake last week (in case you missed it), it was time for a reset. Feels like the 100th reset of the year already, no? Anyway, BALANCE.

So, I don't just like creamed spinach, I like, like creamed spinach. And I won't try to convince you that creamed spinach made without cream is the same thing. Hence, why I'm not calling this "creamed spinach pasta." But when I had the urge to make creamed spinach and mix in some pasta for a hearty and meatless dinner, I thought, maybe I can go one further and skip the cream altogether. Because, you know, the 10 lbs of sugar.

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I started out with the Food52 Cauliflower Carbonara that surfaced a few months ago. This sauce is also delicious in its own right, but I would not compare it to high octane carbonara (though it's an excellent way to get loads of vegetables into your child if you're into that sort of thing). I thought that the cauliflower flavor would be too strong to conceivably substitute for cream and I was right.

Then I gave this Bean-Creamed Spinach recipe on Epicurious a shot. A few tweaks later and we have a lively sauce that uses minimal dairy and even less meat. I used chicken broth because that's what we usually have on hand, but subbing in a vegetable broth would be perfectly fine.

I'm not sure you can really omit the cheese entirely because, to me, it rounds out the flavor. But if you use vegan cheese or nutritional yeast regularly, feel free to sub in some of those for the Asiago and Parmesan.

A note about pre-cooking the spinach: I find that when I cook spinach in whatever sauce it will eventually be covered with, I get a strange spinach-y film on my teeth that is wholly unappetizing. For whatever reason, wilting the spinach first and pressing out the excess water avoids the film and makes the dish taste much better. In my opinion, entirely worth the extra 10 minutes.

Sadly, this post was not sponsored by Whole Foods. I should really get on that.

Sadly, this post was not sponsored by Whole Foods. I should really get on that.

Creamed spinach pasta

1 lb baby spinach
2 large cloves garlic
½ large onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 can/box of white beans
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp Aleppo pepper or paprika
½ tsp mustard powder
1 tsp lemon juice (or the juice of ½ small lemon)
1 lb dry pasta
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup Asiago cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

If needed, give your spinach a quick rinse. Place all of the spinach in a second large pot and start to wilt over medium heat. Give the spinach a few stirs to make sure it wilts evenly. This usually takes me about 10 minutes.

While wilting your spinach, give the onions and garlic a rough chop. You’ll puree these later, so don’t worry about mincing. Open, rinse, and drain your can of beans and measure out your stock.

When all of the spinach is wilted, turn the greens out onto a dishtowel or a few paper towels. This spinach is hot and we want this meal to be done quickly, so I like to add another dishtowel or a few more paper towels on top of the spinach and then weigh it down with a kettle or heavy pot. While you cook everything else, the spinach drains.

Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to your now empty large pot. Over medium heat, sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the beans and give a few stirs. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper. Turn the flame to medium high and bring the stock to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

While the liquid is reducing, give your drained spinach a rough chop. Set aside. If you haven't already, start cooking your pasta.

When the stock has reduced by half, add the Aleppo pepper (or paprika) and the mustard powder. Puree the stock and white bean mixture with either a very strong immersion blender or in a regular blender. Return to the pan. Mix in the cooked spinach. Add the cooked and drained pasta and the cheeses and stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Yield: 9 cups

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Green curry fish stew

Green curry fish stew | Me & The Moose. Bottled green curry makes quick work of this tasty Thai-inspired stew that’s chock full of fish and veggies. #meandthemoose #Thaicurry #healthymeals #whole30 #whole30recipes #onepotmeals #dinnerrecipes

Guys, Friday happened. I'm still in denial and I can't have wine for 6 MORE DAYS. Why did I do a Whole 30 now? I'm talking about the inauguration of DJT, obviously. A more thoughtful post is in the works, but I couldn't write about food without mentioning the thing that has occupied my brain for the past week.

For me, one of the things I like about having a child is that his needs are so immediate that caring for him forces me to be in the moment much more than I ever was pre-parenthood. That required compartmentalizing has gotten me through the past few days. I feel this way about cooking too. It's an activity that forces me to pay attention and helps me to block out the worry that can sometimes drag me into its vortex.

So, it'll be an active four years in my kitchen.

No doubt, I'll be making this Thai green curry fish stew A LOT. It's a very delicious vehicle for vegetables and while not technically "hiding" them, the vegetables become part of a whole and don't taste like themselves necessarily. When M was a baby, one of his favorite purees from Baby Foode was chicken, carrots, mango, and Thai red curry paste, so he's always liked these flavors.

This version of Thai curry is not at all traditional and is also technically more of a soup than a stew because there's a lot of sauce. But to me, that's the best part, so I'm not complaining. If you're doing a Whole 30 or are just curious about what's in your food, check your labels because not all Thai curry pastes are created equal. Thai Kitchen brand is definitely Whole 30 compliant.

And don't be scared of kohlrabi. If you can't find it, cabbage or broccoli stalks are the closest substitutes and also the closest in taste. You can eat kohlrabi raw, sauteed, boiled, or roasted and it's available in most grocery stores and farmer's markets. Here is a great description of what kohlrabi is and some suggestions about what to do with it.

A note about stock: Read carefully because we've only found one brand that is Whole 30 compliant. We could make it ourselves, but stock is one food prep area where I get REALLY lazy, largely because we have a store around the corner that makes homemade stock that is cheap, Whole 30 compliant, and really really good. And then I don't have to handle a whole raw chicken again. Bully for me.

Green curry fish stew | Me & The Moose. Bottled green curry makes quick work of this tasty Thai-inspired stew that’s chock full of fish and veggies. #meandthemoose #Thaicurry #healthymeals #whole30 #whole30recipes #onepotmeals #dinnerrecipes

Green curry fish stew

½ large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cup fish stock (or chicken/vegetable stock or water if you can't find a Whole 30 compliant stock)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
5 Tbsp Thai green curry paste (or just go ahead and use the entire little bottle)
1 pint mushrooms, chopped
1 bunch baby broccoli (if using regular broccoli, use 6 oz or about 2 cups)
1 medium kohlrabi bulb, chopped
2 cups raw baby spinach (1 cup frozen)
1 lb white fish (thawed, if frozen)
2 Tbsp fish sauce
Cilantro for garnish

Heat oil over a medium flame and add onion and garlic, cooking until the onions are opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until they start to wilt a bit, about 5 more minutes. Add the baby broccoli and cook for one minute. (I removed the long stems because they didn’t fit into my pot, but you can absolutely leave them on or cut them up into chunks.)

Add the coconut milk and the fish stock and bring to a boil. Add the spinach, kohlrabi, and fish and bring back to a boil (this only takes a minute). Push the fish down to make sure it's covered by the cooking liquid.

When the pot is back to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer until the fish is flaky. I had extremely thin slices of cod, so this only took about 8 minutes, but if your fish is thicker, it will take longer. When the fish is cooked, stir in the fish sauce and sprinkle with cilantro.

Makes 7-8 cups, which was about 4 adult servings and 2 toddler servings

Green curry fish stew | Me & The Moose. Bottled green curry makes quick work of this tasty Thai-inspired stew that’s chock full of fish and veggies. #meandthemoose #Thaicurry #healthymeals #whole30 #whole30recipes #onepotmeals #dinnerrecipes

Spinach and artichoke spread

Spinach and artichoke spread | Me & The Moose. This veggie-heavy spread is quick, easy, and versatile for bus weeknights or any night, really. #meandthemoose #spinachartichokedip #spinachandartichoke #diprecipes #healthydips #healthydiprecipes

Who has time to cook this week? Between prepping Christmas and Hannukah dinners, cookie swaps, last-minute gifts, wrapping, school parties, work parties, and the million other things going on, dinner is probably low on the priority list. Another challenge is that, at least in our house, all of this holiday hoopla has thrown us off schedule, which makes feeding a toddler even more difficult. After all, an overstimulated and tired kid is a cranky, fussy mess.

So, this weekend I whipped up some spinach and artichoke spread and we've been eating it in a million different ways: As a dip with carrots and crackers, thinned out and made into a pasta sauce with roasted carrots thrown in, and with bread and tomato as a grilled cheese. I reduced the amount of cream cheese and cheese and increased the amount of spinach. It's been really convenient having something so versatile at our disposal and the variety keeps it interesting for M. I also feel good that he's getting a big shot of vegetables and protein. And did I mention that this is a no-cook recipe that comes together in the time it takes to blend the ingredients? VERY helpful when time is limited.

Spinach and artichoke spread | Me & The Moose. This veggie-heavy spread is quick, easy, and versatile for bus weeknights or any night, really. #meandthemoose #spinachartichokedip #spinachandartichoke #diprecipes #healthydips #healthydiprecipes

Spinach and artichoke spread

2 oz cream cheese
1 cup Parmesan, Romano, or 4-cheese blend
1 can of artichoke hearts (or a heaping cup, 9 hearts, 8.5 oz)
2 medium garlic cloves
2 cups raw baby spinach, packed
3 oz shredded chicken (from rotisserie or leftover cooked breasts/thighs)
s/p

Yield: 18 oz

Put everything (raw spinach and garlic included!) in the food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spinach and artichoke spread | Me & The Moose. This veggie-heavy spread is quick, easy, and versatile for bus weeknights or any night, really. #meandthemoose #spinachartichokedip #spinachandartichoke #diprecipes #healthydips #healthydiprecipes

Lightening bolt purple potato patties

Purple potato patties | Me & The Moose. Garam Masala fancies up these potato and spinach patties that are an otherwise simple lunch or dinner. The lightening bolt makes these irresistible to kiddos. #purplepotatoes #potato #veggieburgers #HarryPotterfood #HarryPotter

I'm feeling torn about the newest entry to the Harry Potter canon coming out this weekend. I loved the original books: I mean, who doesn't secretly wish that what makes them "weird" is actually what makes them special? But as I've aged and reread the books and re-watched the movies with different eyes, they....pose some problems. I listen to a podcast called Witch, Please, which is AMAZING. Not only do the hosts provide really interesting feminist criticism of the novels and movies, but they're also hilarious. I will surely see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I'm going into it with some reservations. Not least of which is, the more Rowling and Yates, et al add to the series, the more opportunity there is for me to find fault with it. I thought the British has cornered the market on quitting while they were ahead, at least where film and television was concerned?

urple potato patties | Me & The Moose. Garam Masala fancies up these potato and spinach patties that are an otherwise simple lunch or dinner. The lightening bolt makes these irresistible to kiddos. #purplepotatoes #potato #veggieburgers #HarryPotterfood #HarryPotter

That said, I'm marking the occasion with some Indian-spiced purple potato patties. They kind of look the way I imagine Hagrid's rock cakes looking. I know, I know: There's no Hagrid or Harry in Fantastic Beasts, but who cares? Serve the patties with some lightening bolt sweet potato fries and Martha Stewart's fish sticks, minus the old bay seasoning that she calls for (I just used salt, pepper, and garlic powder) and a lemon mayo (not pictured, but recipe below). This meal is kind of like a healthy fish and chips with more interesting spices thrown in.

urple potato patties | Me & The Moose. Garam Masala fancies up these potato and spinach patties that are an otherwise simple lunch or dinner. The lightening bolt makes these irresistible to kiddos. #purplepotatoes #potato #veggieburgers #HarryPotterfood #HarryPotter

Purple potato patties

Adapted from this recipe and this recipe:
1 lb purple potatoes (or any combo of small purple, red, and white potatoes)
1 cup chopped spinach
½ medium red onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 egg
½ cup panko
¼ tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp Olive oil (for frying)

Lemon Sauce:
4 Tbsp mayo
4 Tbsp lemon juice
Large pinch of salt
 

Wash the potatoes. Place in a microwave safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 6-8 minutes, depending on the heft of your microwave (our weak one required the whole 8 minutes). Let cool before unwrapping and be mindful of the steam. Mash potatoes with a fork or potato masher.

Add the other ingredients (except oil) and mix with hands or a spatula until combined. Form into 5 thin-ish (about 1/2-3/4 of an inch), palm-sized patties and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In a large frying pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil over a medium-low flame. Cook the potato patties until brown on one side and carefully flip. Brown on the other side. When evenly browned, add a handful of water to the hot pan and cover. Let cook until water is evaporated. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with a bit more salt.

Note: The lemon sauce really takes these patties over the top, so PLEASE don't skip it. TRUST.

Yield: 5 patties

urple potato patties | Me & The Moose. Garam Masala fancies up these potato and spinach patties that are an otherwise simple lunch or dinner. The lightening bolt makes these irresistible to kiddos. #purplepotatoes #potato #veggieburgers #HarryPotterfood #HarryPotter