Sometimes I wonder how my children are alive, they eat like birds.
The strangest part however, is that they are healthy little birds.
Example: Cole's favorite food is spinach. No joke. He wanted a spinach birthday cake.
They love veggies and salads and whole grain pastas, which is great,
but doesn't put meat on their bones.
It is a constant struggle to find meals that are healthy, tasty and the kids will consume without John and I threatening, bribing, or coercing them by any means to eat. So I tend to cook the same three things over and over again. Oh, and then there's the plethora of Little Caesars, but that's another story.
So with the new year came a new idea:
Once a month we are going to prepare a complete meal made up of recipes we have never tried before with the hope of finding great repeat dinners while simultaneously widening our culinary horizons.
I tried to make it exciting and the kids caught right on, they helped me plan the menu and dubbed it "Mystery Dinner". Regardless of the fact that it wasn't truly a mystery (they did help me choose the recipes after-all), "Mystery Dinner" just doesn't sound appetizing. At all. So we are calling it "Try Something New Night." Pretty original, don't you think?
Here's one more little secret: All of our try-something-new recipes will be coming from this amazing book:
A Christmas present from my in-laws in which EVERYTHING I have made thus far has been divine.
I love reading the story of how each recipe was tested and perfected, I highly recommend it.
So here it is...
January's Try Something New Night:
Crispy Salmon Cakes with Creamy Lemon-Herb Dipping Sauce.
Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan.
Fresh Spinach Salad with Carrot, Orange, and Sesame.
...and their partner in crime, Lemon Herb Dipping Sauce.
John and I devoured them.
Wyatt said they were "good, but a little awkward".
Cole HATED them and Macie LOVED them.
Next on the plate...
We all loved this salad, definitely a keeper. It's such a unique and delicious combinations of fresh food. The kids preferred it void of the vinaigrette, but John and I loved it.
However, the star of the show was most certainly our...
Seriously to die for.
John and I could not:
1. Believe we have lived this long orzo-free.
2. Stop eating it. At all.
The kids also loved it, definitely a keeper.
Wyatt had a cooking home-work assignment so he was in charge of our new desert this month.
Keeping with the citrus theme, we chose to try..
He is turning out to be quite the chef...
...and the cookies turned out great.
In fact, we couldn't quite get over how great they were.
We are all definitely looking forward to next's months Try Something New Night and hoping it will be as successful as January's.
Crispy Salmon Cakes
3 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 scallion, sliced thin
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 (1 1/4-pound) skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Line plate with paper towels and set aside. Combine 3 tablespoons panko, scallion, shallot, parsley mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne in bowl. Working in 3 batches, pulse salmon in food processor until coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch pieces, about 2 pulses, transferring each batch to bowl with panko mixture. Gently mix until uniformly combined. Place remaining 3/4 cup panko in shallow dish. Using 1/3-cup measure, scoop level amount of salmon mixture and transfer to baking sheet; repeat to make 8 cakes. Carefully coat each cake in bread crumbs, gently patting cake into disk measuring 2 3/4 inches in diameter and 1 inch high. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place cakes in skillet and cook, without moving, until golden brown, about 2 minutes Carefully flip cakes and cook until second side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer cakes to prepared plate to drain for 1 minute.
Creamy Lemon-Herb Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 scallion, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients in small bowl and season with pepper to taste. Cover and chill until flavors blend, at least 30 minutes.
Fresh Spinach Salad with Carrot, Orange, and Sesame
6 ounces baby spinach
2 carrots, peeled and shaved with vegetable peeler lengthwise into ribbons
2 oranges, 1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest from one, both peeled and segmented
2 scallions, sliced thin
7 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Place spinach, carrots, orange segments, and scallions in large bowl. Combine orange zest, vinegar, shallot, mustard, mayonnaise, and salt in small bowl. Whisk until mixture appears milky and no lumps remain. Place vegetable oil and sesame oil in liquid measuring cup. Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle oils into mixture. If pools of oil gather on surface stop addition of oils and whisk mixture well to combine, then resume whisking in oils in slow stream. Vinaigrette should be glossy and lightly thickened. Pour dressing over spinach mixture and toss to coat/sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
Toasted Orzo with Peas and Parmesan
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound orzo
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 3/4 cups frozen peas
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
Pinch ground nutmeg
Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirirng frequently, until onion has softened and is beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until most of orzo is lightly browned and golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Off heat, add broth and wine. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until all liquid has been absorbed and orzo is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in peas, Parmesan, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Off heat, let stand until peas are heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste and serve.
Glazed Lemon Cookies
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
For the Cookies: In food processor, process to sugar and lemon zest until thoroughly incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add flour, salt, and baking powder; pulse to combine, about 10 pulses. Scatter butter over flour mixture; pulse until mixture resembles fine cornmeal, about 15 pulses. In measuring cup, beat lemon juice, egg yolk, and vanilla with fork to combine. With processor running, add juice mixture in slow, steady stream; continue processing until dough begins to form ball. Turn dough onto counter and gently knead to ensure no dry bits remain and dough is homogeneous. Shape dough into log about 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap log in parchment paper and twist ends to seal. Chill dough until firm, about 45 minutes in freezer or 2 hours in refrigerator. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Remove dough log from parchment and, using a chef's knife, slice dough into 3/8 inch rounds. Place rounds 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees until centers of cookies just begin to color and edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; transfer to wire rack and let cool before glazing.
For the Glaze: Whisk cream cheese and lemon juice in bowl until no lumps remain. Add confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth. When cookies have cooled, working with one at a time, spread glaze evenly over each cookie with back of spoon. Let cookies stand on wire rack until glaze is set and dry, about 1 hour.