Friday, January 8, 2010

Ham Chokettes, or "Favorite Food + Favorite Food ≠ New Favorite Food"

When I was a kid, one of my favorite meals was Chicken Croquettes. My mom used to cook them in a deep-fryer that had belonged to her father, and they were little slices of heaven. Of course, in these modern, fat-free times I hesitate to deep fry anything. Yet somehow, I can get behind "shallow frying" things in a pan that has about a 1/4" of oil in it. Basically it's the same thing, but it takes a little longer because the morsels aren't being cooked on all sides at once as they do when they're suspended in oil. Hey, I sleep at night.

After Christmas we had an abundance of leftover mashed potatoes and ham. (Note to self: From now on always buy spiral-sliced ham.) So I thought that since the kids both like mashed potatoes and I could kind of sell the ham to Henry (Jack loves ham, so no problem there), what could possibly go wrong with combining the two into croquettes?


"Mooooommm, what is this?"

"Mom, what kind of meat is this?"

"I don't like these!"

Of course, Mike and I both chowed down like there's no tomorrow. They came out just fine, but the boys' underdeveloped palates couldn't make the intellectual leap into novel flavor combinations. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Ham Croquettes
2 c. leftover mashed potatoes
1 c. diced ham
1 egg
1/2 c. leftover gravy (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 more egg*, beaten
1 c. breadcrumbs
Oil for cooking

Combine the first five ingredients until well blended. Form mixture into smallish patties. Dip each patty in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs to coat, putting them on a plate as you go. Refrigerate the patties for at least an hour. Do not omit this step! If you do, the patties will fall apart in the hot oil, guaranteed. Been there, done that.

In a deep skillet, heat 1/4" oil until just about smoking. Cook the patties a couple at a time, turning once when they have browned. Drain on paper towels and serve with whatever sauce will keep your little rug rats happy.

* Don't you hate it when a recipe calls for a certain measure of stuff, then halfway through the recipe you find that you were supposed to have used only some of it in an earlier part of the recipe, saving the rest for a later step? Me too! That's why I've put eggs on the list twice. You're welcome!

Friday, January 1, 2010

What They Don't Know Won't Hurt 'Em

Henry's on this "I'm not hungry" kick when I ask him what he wants for breakfast, to which I always reply, "You have to eat breakfast, that's what gives you energy for all the stuff you're going to do today," blah blah blah, static static static. Anyway, sometimes I can get him to drink a fruit smoothie at these times, which satisfies my desire for him to have something nutritious to start the day.

So the other morning, I blended some frozen raspberries, frozen peaches, strawberry yogurt, and some water to thin it out. After it was done I had a taste. Swa...swa...SWEET! I couldn't serve him that in good conscience. How could I bring this beverage back from the brink of disaster? Easy...silken tofu.

This bland food is much softer than regular tofu. It's great for sauces, dips, and spreads because it takes on the flavors of whatever it's combined with. So, I figured, why not smoothies? As it turned out, it worked perfectly. Not only did it cut the sweetness of the smoothie, it was virtually undetectable and added protein. Both Henry and Jack guzzled it down. Score one for mom!

Fruit Smoothies with Silken Tofu
1/2 c. frozen raspberries
1/2 c. frozen peaches (about 5 slices)
1/2 c. strawberry yogurt
1/2 c. water
6 oz. silken tofu

Blend. Serve. Give yourself a high five.