Eggplant Parmigiana (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 12)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on March 25, 2013 0 Comments
eggplant parmigiana


The secret to making eggplant parmigiana courtesy of the Italian grandma’s who know their stuff when it comes to family-style cooking!


“The trick to eggplant parmesan? Don’t use eggplant.” Standing in my friend Cheri’s kitchen, chatting about the best way to make eggplant parmesan, this is the quip that I hear from the peanut gallery. It pretty much sums up the reaction I got from most of my friends when I announced our new food this week: eggplant. But for each vehement opponent, there was a passionate follower like my mom, who absolutely loves eggplant.

A classic love hate relationship.

Eggplant parmigiana (or eggplant parmesan as some like to call it), is a dish that regularly showed up at our Sunday night family dinners when I was young. It was the one that I always passed on. Something about the texture just didn’t catch my fancy, until I discovered a few simple tricks.

So what’s the secret? A couple of phone calls to the resident Italian grandmas and we had our answer:

1) Slice it thin. No more than ¼”.
2) Flour first. Then egg. Then the breadcrumb and grated parmesan mixture.
3) No bake. Lighting frying in olive oil is the only way to get it crispy.
4) Good sauce. Enough said.

What we Liked: The first time through, I left the eggplant sizzling in the pan a little too long. But my mistake turned into an opportunity. The extra crispiness of the eggplant was what did the trick for my kids (and me) – no mushiness at all!

Eggplant Parmigiana

For a printable version of this recipe CLICK HERE.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
Crunch a Color points: 15 Purple

Ingredients:

eggplant parmigiana ingredients


2 medium eggplants
¾ cup grated parmesan
¾ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
6 cups tomato sauce (preferably use our homemade tomato sauce, but if not choose one from a jar with all natural ingredients)
3 large eggs
A few sprigs of fresh basil
Olive oil, for sautéing

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Slice. Cut the eggplant into slices no more than ¼” thick!

eggplant parmigiana step 1


3. Dip. First in flour, then in egg, then in the breadcrumb and parmesan cheese mixture. Set it up like an assembly line and let the kids have fun!

eggplant parmigiana step 2


4. Sizzle. Over medium heat, lightly fry the breaded eggplant slices in olive oil. Refresh the oil between batches. Let the eggplant slices dry on a cooling rack before moving to Step 4.

eggplant parmigiana step 3


5. Assemble. Start by putting a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Add a layer of eggplant, a little basil, then cheese. Repeat.

eggplant parmigiana step 4

eggplant parmigiana step 5


6. Bake. Pop it into your preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

eggplant parmigiana


* What’s your trick for making the perfect eggplant parmigiana? What other ways do you like to enjoy eggplant? Share your ideas!

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food: Roasted Garlic.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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Roasted Garlic (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 11)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on March 18, 2013 4 Comments
roasted garlic


The subtle flavor of roasted garlic was an eye-opener for my picky eater.


When I think of Italian cooking, I think of garlic. The distinct smell of it simmering in the pan transports me back to my Gram’s house and I find myself longing for a taste of one of her homemade dishes. In my mind, our 52 New Foods adventure in Italy wouldn’t be complete without a close encounter with this quintessentially Italian ingredient.

But for many kids, particularly picky eaters, the taste of garlic can be overwhelming. The solution? Roast it! One of my favorite dishes that Gram used to make was garlic bread with real roasted garlic. Roasting those little white bulbs, with a touch of olive oil, transforms them into an incredible soothing and almost sweet spread that is perfect for lavishing on a crusty Italian loaf. Add a few sautéed mushrooms for even more deliciousness.

What we Liked: Letting my daughter Catherine take the lead on making this dish was the key to getting her to like it. I call her our “super sensor.” She experiences touch, taste and smell in a much more intense way than I do. This project was absolutely perfect for her. First, peeling and picking off the flakey layers of the garlic bulbs, then using her fingers to massage a little olive oil into the garlic, and finally, enjoying the unexpected and wonderful surprise of a soft and delicious flavor instead of the sharpness that she normally associates with the smell of garlic. Mission accomplished!   

Roasted Garlic

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yield: Makes 6 heads
Crunch a Color points: 15 White

Ingredients:

roasted garlic ingredients


6 heads of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Peel away the flakey outer layers of the garlic bulb, but leave the cloves in tact.

roasted garlic step 1


2. Cut off ¼” to ½” of the tops of the bulbs, exposing the inner cloves.

roasted garlic step 2

roasted garlic step 2b


3. Place the garlic bulbs on a baking sheet or in a muffin tin. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, then massage the oil into the cloves with your fingers.

roasted garlic step 3

roasted garlic step 3b


4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cloves are soft when pressed. Allow the garlic to cool, then spread on a crusty, whole grain roll to make garlic bread.

roasted garlic pinterest


* What is your favorite way to use roasted garlic? Share your ideas!  

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food: Italian Style Homemade Chicken Soup.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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Italian Style Homemade Chicken Soup (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 10)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on March 09, 2013 0 Comments
italian homemade chicken soup


The easiest homemade chicken soup ever!


My littlest one was home sick this week. When those rosy red cheeks and tired eyes show up, chicken soup is first on the menu. It used to be that I would reach for a can of chicken soup from the pantry, but we’ve come so far in our 52 New Foods journey that when I grabbed that little red can this week I just couldn’t do a heat and eat. “I need to make it from scratch.” I resolved. My husband, the sweetheart that he is, headed out to the market at the crack of dawn with a simple list – carrots, celery, and an onion. I had some leftover Italian chicken in the fridge from dinner the previous night.

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it is so darn easy to make and it results in a delicious, wholesome soup full of healthy ingredients. My son asked, “Why does chicken soup help to make me feel better when I am sick?” This question is one I’ve asked myself many times over. “I’m not sure,” I replied, “why do you think it helps?” His little hands wrapped around the bowl, sipping slowly he pondered this question and then responded, “Maybe the vegetables chase the bugs away.” I smiled a big smile and hugged him tight, “You know, I think you may be right. I’m glad that you’re feeling better.”

What we Liked: This easy Italian style homemade chicken soup isn’t just for chasing cold bugs away. It’s the perfect busy weeknight meal. Make our easy Italian chicken and save a few pieces as leftovers. Then use that tasty chicken to make this soup the next day. Serve it up with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich for a quick dinner, or pack it in the kids’ lunchboxes with a few whole grain crackers for crumbling.   

Italian Style Homemade Chicken Soup

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
Crunch a Color points: 10 protein, 10 healthy grains, 10 green or orange

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

Ingredients:

italian homemade chicken soup ingredients


4 cups organic chicken broth
2 cups cooked Italian chicken
2 cups cooked pasta (I like to use rotini)
1 cup water
3 celery stalks
2 carrots
½ onion
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Chop the onion, carrots and celery into ¼” to ½” size pieces.

italian homemade chicken soup step 1


2. Heat a stockpot over medium, then add the olive oil, garlic and onions. Simmer gently until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and simmer 2 to 3 minutes more.

italian homemade chicken soup step 2


3. Add the chicken broth, water and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

italian homemade chicken soup step 3


4. While the broth is simmering, chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Add to the pot with the cooked pasta and heat 2 minutes more.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

italian homemade chicken soup


* Do you have a favorite homemade chicken soup recipe? Share your ideas!  

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food: Mini Asparagus Frittata aka Savory Muffins

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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Mini Baked Asparagus Frittata aka Savory Muffins (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 9)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on March 04, 2013 3 Comments
baked asparagus frittata savory muffins


Baked with asparagus, onions and eggs, this deliciously easy asparagus frittata recipe was a huge hit with my family. “Savory muffins!” my daughter exclaimed.


With spring on the horizon, my mind is dreaming of brunch. It is one of my most favorite meals to host because the cooking is easy (and can often be made ahead) and it’s usually during a bright spot in my day when I’m feeling energized and the kids are in a good mood.

No brunch would be complete without my Gram’s asparagus frittata. Having grown up in a big Italian family, there was always lots of food around when we gathered together. Each of my aunts had their domain – crispelles, ravioli, tomato sauce. The list goes on for miles. Among my Gram’s specialties was a simple Italian frittata chock-full of asparagus and ricotta. The smell of this dish simmering always transports me back to her kitchen at Easter time.

“Let’s take our 52 New Foods adventure to Italy” I cheered. There was no debate at the family table, as Italian dishes are some of our favorites. The only condition was that we make homemade pasta – which will be fun but challenging. I still haven’t mastered Gram’s pasta recipes. In the meantime, we decided frittata was an easy place to start.

What we Liked: Thinking the ricotta cheese might be too much for my picky eaters’ palette, I replaced it with mozzarella. To make it more fun, we made the frittata in individual muffin cups. We each personalized our “muffins” – some with more asparagus, some with less. To her surprise, my daughter even enjoyed the ones with asparagus. She liked them so much that she named them Savory Muffins. Bonus: they make an easy addition to your healthy lunchbox.   

Mini Baked Asparagus Frittata aka Savory Muffins

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: Makes 12 muffins
Crunch a Color points: 15 green

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

Ingredients:

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins ingredients


1 bunch asparagus
10 eggs
1 potato
½ onion
½ cup shredded mozzarella
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp kosher salt

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a muffin tin with oil.

2. Chop the asparagus, onion and potato into ¼” to ½” size pieces. When the kids are chopping, remind them to make a fist to keep their fingers safe!

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 1


3. Heat a frying pan over medium. Add the olive oil, then the onions. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add the potatoes to the onions and sauté 3 to 4 minutes more. Finally, add the asparagus and mix together with the potatoes and onions. Simmer in the pan an additional 3 to 4 minutes (about 10 minutes total). Set aside in a small bowl.

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 2

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 2b


4. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and salt.

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 3


5. Pour the egg mixture into the greased baking cups, filling about halfway. Add a spoonful of the cooked vegetables to each cup and sprinkle with mozzarella. Add extra egg mixture to fill the cups almost all the way to the top.

Quick Tip: Let your kids personalize their muffins by adding the amount and kind of vegetables that they feel is right for them. Encourage them to make a couple of variations to give different tastes (and new veggies) a try.

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 4

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 4b

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins step 4c


6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes. Serve warm!

baked asparagus frittata savory muffins lunch


* Which veggies do you like to feature in your frittata? Share your ideas!  

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food: Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

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Crispy Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 8)

Posted by Jennifer Tyler Lee on February 24, 2013 13 Comments
crispy baked sweet potato fries


How to make sweet potato fries so crispy and tasty they’re worthy of a French bistro.


I have a weakness (well, maybe more than one). Frites. When we meet, I have a terrible time resisting their unhealthy whispers. I know better. I want to set a good example for my kids. I don’t want to like them. But I do. This relationship kind of reminds me of high school boyfriends.

In the final stretch of our 52 New Foods adventure in France, it would be impossible not to mention one of my favorite French bistro meals: steak and frites. Instead of avoiding it, I decided to give it a healthy makeover, starting with the frites. Not only are these fries tasty and easy to make, they are nutritious. According to Mark Bittman of The New York Times, their recent rise in popularity is due in no small part to their nutritional profile.

Most of the recipes I’ve tried in the past have resulted in soggy sticks, so I worked diligently until I figured out how to make sweet potato fries crispy like their unhealthy cousins. The trick? Cut the fries a little thinner, avoid layering them on the pan, and be sure to bake until the color turns to golden brown with dark edges and the skin is a little bit puffy. Serve them piping hot to avoid letting sogginess sink in. Trust me, that won’t be hard to do.

What we Liked: These crispy oven baked sweet potato fries are easy to make and feel like an indulgence. I never have to encourage my kids to try a bite of these healthy frites. More often, I sit at the table thinking, “I should have made a bigger batch!”

Crispy Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 to 30 minutes
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Crunch a Color points: 15 yellow / orange

Ingredients:

baked sweet potato fries ingredients


2 lbs sweet potato
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp kosher salt

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel and slice the sweet potato. Cut into ¼” to ½” wide sticks to ensure crispy frites! This is a fun and easy job for the kids to do. After peeling, have them cut through the middle of the sweet potato first, then set the flat side down to cut in half again before slicing into sticks.

how to make baked sweet potato fries step 1


2. Place the sweet potato fries on a lined bake sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt, then toss with your hands. This step helps to save on cleanup.

how to make baked sweet potato fries step 2


3. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Serve hot!

crispy baked sweet potato fries 2

how to make baked sweet potato fries


* How do you like to make sweet potato fries? What’s your trick for making them crispy? Do you have a favorite spice that you like to add to these healthy fries? Share your tips and tricks!


Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food: Apple galette.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at crunchacolor.com.

Read More