LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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A quick dinner for a mild spring night

Though the nights have been cool, the days are starting to warm up. I continue to stupefy Mama and Papa at the lengths I will go to to escape the confines of our yard. (You should see me climb!) There’s lots of yard work to be done, and even though I don’t help with it at all, I’m pretty hungry come dinner time. Mama and Papa both wanted something light and fresh, while I just wanted something in my belly.

Mama went to an easy stand-by recipe, one of those she says everyone should know how to make: chicken piccata. There are probably as many variations on this dish as there are on any other, but Mama likes it for its simplicity—it’s all cooked in one pan—and Papa likes it because it’s delicious. I like it for the capers. But, as you might recall, Mama doesn’t eat chicken, and pasta’s just as easy as anything to make (you know we eat a lot of it). So she got the water boiling and set to work on the veggies she was going to serve it with. Mama and Papa ate it up, but I scarfed the pasta almost exclusively (the exception being a few orange segments). When Mama asked me to take a bite of the zucchini, I said, “No way, José,” followed by a swift, “No, thank you.” Can you believe this actually worked, and I didn’t have to eat it?

Love, Jude

Chicken Piccata
(This one’s real loosey-goosey, but it’s pretty tough to screw up.)

Chicken breasts (for however many you’re cooking for)
Flour (whatever kind you have on hand)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil (to coat the pan)
About 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock (optional)
About 1/4 cup white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large clove garlic, minced
About 2 Tbsp capers
Pat of butter
Parsley (a small handful, chopped)

Put the chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag, seal it, then pound the chicken with a meat mallet until uniform in thickness, about 1/2″. Toss in a handful or two of flour and some s&p. Reseal the bag, then shake it all up to coat the chicken.

Heat a skillet (of ample size to hold your chicken without crowding) over medium heat. Add about 1 Tbsp oil (a couple swirls around the pan—just enough for a thin coat) and wait until it’s hot before carefully adding the chicken (shake off the excess flour first). If you don’t want to be cleaning your stovetop and nearest wall for the rest of the night, put a lid on the pan. Cook until chicken is golden brown (5 or so minutes), then flip, and cook until golden on the other side and the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

Deglaze the skillet with stock, if using, and/or wine. Scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pan, then add the lemon juice, garlic, and capers. Cook until reduced and slightly thickened, a few minutes. Add more s&p, if desired. Add the pat of butter (dredge it in flour first, if desired, to give a slight bit more oomph to your sauce) and continue cooking until melted and shiny. Sprinkle in the parsley, then pour the sauce over the chicken.

Rotini with Fennel, Squash, Tomato, and Orange de Provençe

12 oz whole-grain rotini (or any pasta you have on hand—and use a whole box, even if it’s a pound)
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 bulb fennel, stalks removed, cored, and thinly sliced
1 large tomato, large diced
1 small-to-medium zucchini, cut into “ribbons” with a veggie peeler
1 clove garlic, minced
About 1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 oranges, segmented (squeeze & reserve the juice from the inner membranes)
Herbes de Provençe (a couple teaspoons, maybe a Tbsp)

Cook the pasta according to package directions, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat a medium-to-large lidded skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, about a tbsp. (enough to coat the pan), then add the fennel and s&p. Cover and allow to sweat for a few minutes. (You can actually prepare the remaining ingredients in stages, if you like, rather than having them all prepped and ready to go before you begin cooking.) Add the tomato and the garlic and sweat some more, stirring occasionally (keep covered). The fennel won’t take on much color, but it will get soft. Once it is, add the zucchini, some s&p, and the veg stock. (Add enough stock to make the veggies wet but not soupy. This is going to be your pasta’s sauce, remember.) Cover and allow to cook until ribbons are soft, just a couple minutes. Add the orange segments and their reserved juice, and the herbes. Stir to incorporate, taste for seasoning, then combine with the pasta and serve.


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No Carry-Out Menu Required

Tonight it was just Mama and me for dinner, so she kept it simple and showed me how to stir-fry. She explained that there are two tricks to stir-frying: a hot pan (not necessarily a wok) and thinly cut vegetables. The high heat cooks the small pieces quickly so they retain some of their natural crispness.

Start by cutting all your veggies to a relatively equal size. Your stir-fry won’t work if you’re scrambling to cut more items once you get your pan going. Tonight, Mama sliced cremini mushrooms, snow peas, carrots, asparagus, yellow pepper, broccoli, and zucchini. She heated toasted sesame oil, which has a higher smoke point—that’s how hot you can get your oil before it begins to smoke and set off that horrible screeching alarm in your kitchen. Plus, it has a nice nutty flavor. (I tasted it, so I know.)

First Mama sautéed the mushrooms to get them golden, then added the remaining vegetables, stirring constantly. Some folks would add scallions or garlic at this point, but Mama opted not to. Then she added about equal amounts of seasoned rice vinegar and tamari, which is similar to soy sauce. And that’s it! Serve with brown rice, top with cilantro or lime or chopped peanuts/cashews (if desired), and you have dinner.

Just look at all those yummy veggies!

Just look at all those yummy veggies!

Now, I like rice as much as the next baby, but let me tell you about those vegetables. First I ate all the broccoli. Then the carrots. Then the asparagus, and next the mushrooms. I ate that stir-fry right up! But my favorite part was the fortune cookie Mama produced for me for eating such a good dinner. I love opening them. This one read, “If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it.”

In bed…which is where I’m headed.

Love, Jude

All the veggies looked good, but I decided to start with the broccoli.

All the veggies looked good, but I decided to start with the broccoli.


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It’s my birthday!!

Last year, when I turned 1, Mama made me banana muffins. She made them again this year, but she also made some of her zucchini muffins with all the fresh zucchini we picked up at the farm stand. And she added our bluebies to them!

9 dozen muffins later….

Look at all the blueberries! They burst in my mouth. So yummy.

I like the mini-muffins because I can shove just about the whole thing in my mouth (even though Mama and Papa say, “Don’t stuff!”). I opened my presents and got to blow out candles, all before breakfast.

My new birthday trucks didn’t get in the way of my blowing out the candles on the first try.

Some may speculate now whether I should change the name of my blog, as I’m technically no longer a baby. “Toddler Jude” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. What do you think?

Love, Jude (who’s 2!)

Blueberry-Zucchini Muffins (Dairy-Free)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 large farm-fresh eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups freshly grated zucchini, drained
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup frozen organic blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners or spray/butter the tins.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the zucchini. Add the oil, soda, and salt, and stir to combine.

Add to the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined, and all the flour is moistened. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes (about 19 for regular muffins, 15 for minis). The muffins should be firm to the touch, and a pick inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 1 dozen regular muffins & 1 dozen minis, or 18 regular muffins

Note: Mama advises grating your zucchini first and putting it in a collander set over a bowl while you gather the rest of your ingredients. And she says these muffins freeze really well!