Real Food For Families

Finally…Chicken That Both My Kids Will Eat!


I struggle with chicken for dinner. It is so versatile and easy to make, but I almost never am able to convince Katie to eat it and Chris’s chicken appetite is what I would call inconsistent. Of course, they will both eat chicken from the red and white bucket, as I have previously lamented…but chicken that I have so carefully prepared with real food ingredients…to be honest…is usually a failure. But this week, I hit the jackpot. I half heartedly made this version, not thinking that anyone under the age of 12 would actually eat it. I called it “Popcorn Chicken” but didn’t really think I was fooling anyone. I placed one lone, sad piece on each of their plates for them to try. And then, miracle of miracles, I heard “Yum! More chicken, please!” What the what?!! More chicken, please??! Okay! We have a winner! Popcorn Chicken! Into the rotation you go!

There are two versions pictured above. The piece on the left is seasoned with a Cajun spice mix and the one on the right is a very simple coating of Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. I also made a maple Dijon dipping sauce that Katie and I loved. Next time, I will double this recipe and freeze some. This recipe was adapted from the Iowa Girl Eats website. Enjoy!

~Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 3 lbs., cut into bite sized pieces
~1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
~1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
~salt and pepper
~2 eggs
~2 Tbs water

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Whisk the water and eggs together in a medium bowl and add the chicken pieces, swirling them around so that they are evenly coated in the egg mixture.
3. Mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the egg coated chicken pieces and stir them in the bread crumbs until evenly coated.
4. Place the chicken in a single layer in a buttered 13×9 inch baking dish and spray lightly with cooking spray (I use olive oil in a mister). Bake for 10-15 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

~1/4 cup real maple syrup
~1/4 cup plain yogurt
~1 1/2 Tbs spicy brown mustard
Mix all the ingredients together and drizzle over the cooked chicken or serve it on the side for dipping.

If you make extra chicken to freeze, put it on a baking sheet after you’ve coated it in the breadcrumb mixture (before baking) and when frozen, transfer it to a freezer bag. When ready to use it, bake it at 425, directly from the freezer without thawing it first.

Soooo happy that summer is finally here!


Simple Raspberry Vinaigrette Recipe


When we started paying attention to ingredient labels, we were astounded by the long lists of ingredients in some of our favorite salad dressings. And then, even though they seem to last forever, I would always have a few sad bottles of dressing, long past their expiration dates, lurking around in the side door of my fridge, taking up valuable real estate. I mostly just make my own now. My husband, who eats a salad almost every day, mixes up a simple balsamic vinaigrette and keeps it in a jar on the counter. Those of you who know my husband, no doubt, now feel confident that you too can make your own salad dressing! The general rule to follow is to use a 2:1 oil to vinegar ratio. Then adjust up or down, depending on your preference. If you like a more tangy dressing, use more vinegar. I almost always add a bit of salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Since I am usually making just enough for what I need, I don’t worry about refrigerating leftover dressing and just give it a good shake before using it. This is how I make Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing. This also makes a great marinade for chicken.

Raspberry Vinaigrette
~1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
~1/4 cup white vinegar (I usually use white balsamic)
~2 or 3 Tablespoons raspberry jam
~ Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together in a jar. This makes about one cup of dressing.


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Balsamic Reduction Sauce

I have no photo of my beautiful and delicious Balsamic Reduction Sauce, for reasons I will explain later. So instead, I offer you, leftover cute Christmas photos. Santa visited my parents home on Christmas Eve and had a nice visit with Katie, Christopher and all of their cousins. Thank you to Aunt Tricia for making sure that he included us in his long list of stops that evening!


So, back to the Balsamic Reduction Sauce….I made this to serve over lamb chops, arugula and spinach greens and it was very good and very beautiful on the plate. But, as anyone who takes photos of food realizes, it is best to take these shots in natural light. A photo of my dinner plate at 6:30 PM, in the Northeast is…just…well…sad. Combine that with the fact that I really don’t have any photography skills to speak of and I take the majority of the pictures for this blog with my iPad…high quality, gorgeous photography is just not happening around these parts! I know that’s not why you’re here. You come, obviously, for the award winning writing…oh, that’s not why you are here? You are here because you are my mother and you want to see photos of your grand kids? Okay, fine…here you go, Mom. But on the off chance that someone out there may, inadvertently stumble across this food blog on their way to the Pioneer Woman (an actual award winning food blog) and wonder why the photos are a disaster from October through April…that is why.

Balsamic Reduction Sauce (4 servings)
~1 Tablespoon olive oil
~2 shallots, minced
~1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
~3/4 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
~1 Tablespoon butter

Note: Ideally, prepare this sauce in the pan that you cooked your meat in. This is what helps to flavor the sauce. Remove the meat to a covered plate to keep warm. You may not need to add the oil if there is still enough in the pan to cook the shallots.

1. Cook the shallots for a few minutes over medium heat in a bit of oil until just browned.
2. Stir in the vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan to get any bits of meat into the sauce.
3. Stir in the broth and continue to cook and stir over medium to medium high heat for 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce reduces by about a half and thickens up a bit.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it completely melts.
5. Pour the sauce over the cooked meat.

This sauce was great with the lamb chops, but would also be a nice addition to steak,chicken or pork. Here is the original recipe from Allrecipes.


Aunt Missy’s Pizza Sauce

My sister in law (Katie’s Aunt Missy) is the cake baker in our family. All of the cousins are terribly spoiled when it comes to their birthday cakes…and I hope they don’t ever take her fabulously yummy and beautiful creations for granted…I know that we parents are extremely grateful to her. So, besides baked goods, she apparently knows the secret to delicious pizza sauce as well. Direct quote, overheard at our dinner table, the night we tried it…”You MUST make this sauce every time we have pizza!!” Okay then…I will! Here’s the surprisingly simple recipe. Thank you, Missy!

Aunt Missy’s Pizza Sauce
~1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
~1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
~1 tsp red wine vinegar (I didn’t have any, so used balsamic vinegar)
~2 medium garlic cloves, minced
~1 tsp salt
~1 tsp dried oregano
~1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth (about 30 seconds). Store in the fridge until ready to use. See our previous post on homemade pizza for a dough recipe.


For Those Weeks When You Just Need To Keep It Simple


As I mentioned in the last post, things are starting to look like an episode of Hoarders around here and we really need to get some clutter cleared out. And despite a very conscious effort to keep our activities under control…that little dry erase schedule on our fridge is looking a bit frightening. In the past, this kind of week would have included a lot of take out or ready made, convenience foods. But you really can keep it simple and make it yourself. And I would even bet that the time you spend is not really that much more than you would have spent on take out or pre-packaged foods. You still have to order the food and go to pick it up. Most packaged convenience foods still have to be opened and heated up. This is the time to fall back on meals that you can make without even opening up a cookbook with ingredients that you probably already have. Here are three simple meals…fish, pasta, and chicken. I’ll plan to make these three meals on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday and we’ll eat leftovers on Monday and Wednesday. And on Friday, I’ll post a photo of my empty dining room table!


1 1/2 lbs. codfish (or any other fish that you like)
1 to 2 Tbs butter
Salt & Pepper
Lemon juice (optional)
Green Beans, washed and trimmed
4 potatoes (medium sized, I used red potatoes and butter potatoes) sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Toss potatoe slices with about 1Tbs olive oil and some salt and pepper and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
3. Butter or oil a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and place fish in, skin side down. Place several thin pats of butter on top of the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice if using.
4. Place both the fish and potatoes in the oven and bake uncovered for about 20 minutes. Stir the potatoes half way through the baking time, flipping them over if you have time.
5. While the fish and potatoes are baking, place the green beans in a steamer basket in a saucepan with a couple of inches of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Steam about 10 minutes. When done, drain them and add a bit of salt and butter.
6. Remove the fish and potatoes from oven when done and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on the potatoes.


Olive oil
Tomatoe Sauce (29 oz)
Tomatoe Purée (29 oz)
Small onion, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
16 oz whole wheat pasta of your choice
Italian Bread

1. In a dutch oven or large stock pot, sautee the onion in some olive oil until softened.
2. Add all of the remaining ingredients, stir together and bring almost to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, stir every so often.
4. Cook your pasta according to package directions.
5. Serve pasta with the sauce and bread.
Note: As I’ve mentioned before, my Mother raised 8 of us, and if she had time to make her own sauce…I think we can all give it a try!


2 cups of brown rice cooked according to package directions
Handful of dried cranberries or cherries
Feta cheese (about 1 cup, crumbled)
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (2 1/2 to 3 lbs)
Dried oregano (about 1 teaspoon)
Lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons)
Pepper to taste
Zucchini (2 to 3), rinsed and sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Start the rice if you are not using the quick cooking kind, otherwise start the rice after you’ve put the chicken in the oven.
3. Place the chicken in a buttered or oiled 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over it, then sprinkle it with the oregano and pepper, then about 1/2 cup of feta cheese, then the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees.
4. Steam the zucchini in a steamer basket over 1 to 2 inches of water in a saucepan for about 10 minutes. Drain, and add a bit of salt and lemon juice if desired.
5. When the rice is done, mix in the cranberries and about 1/2 cup of feta cheese.

This chicken recipe is adapted from the Six O’ Clock Scramble cookbook, by Aviva Goldfarb.