Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Halloween: Kid's pre-trick-or treating dinners

10/22/08 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Autumn always brings adjustments and lifestyle changes. Summer is over! There’s no more sleeping in or sunny lazy days at the lake. The changing seasons are always a bit of a shock as everyone is challenged to adapt to back-so-school schedules and dark, dreary mornings. These are busy times for already busy families. And then comes Halloween.

Halloween is notorious for putting kids on a sugar high and parents into frazzled mania. Talk about an adjustment! You finally get the kids into a healthy eating routine and bam! Ghosts and goblins blow your meal plans to smithereens.

Kids are usually too excited to eat before they go trick-or-treating and too tired to eat when they come home. What they need to eat they don’t want and what they want, they don’t need! What’s a parent to do?

Now I’m not about to tell you not to let the kids eat candy. Maybe your kids are different but I’ve never yet seen a kid yet that would prefer a carrot stick to a handful of “M & M’s.”

I am here to suggest a little moderation. Perhaps if you can get them to eat a tiny little dinner before they leave to glean candy you can put a dent in their appetites when they’re on the road. The question is — what will they eat?

Well, this is not the time to bring out the best china and serve them filet mignon. In most households, it’s probably paper plates and grilled cheese with maybe a little tomato soup throw in for good measure. But let’s see if we can kick things up just a notch.

I found some good grilled sandwich ideas in “Food & Family” magazine put out by Kraft. Their recipes are deliciously simple and tweaked just enough to be a little more appetizing than the average grilled sandwich.

The first thing Kraft suggests is spreading Miracle Whip on the outside of the bread. It will not only make a perfectly golden grilled sandwich but the tangy flavor will encourage “one more bite.”

Then, ust as a reminder, I’m adding a burrito recipe. In a pinch, most of us can gulp down a beef and bean burrito with a green salad and pronounce dinner “good.”

If your kids like salads, this Apple Harvest recipe will hit the spot. It has fruit, greens and protein all bound together with ranch dressing. Pair it with a soft buttered roll and the kids are ready to go.

Finally, pears are at their peak of flavor. Why not substitute them for apples and treat yourself to a pear crisp? A scoop of ice cream melting over the top is especially yummy. Enjoy!

Mix & Match Grilled Cheese

For each sandwich, spread the outside of 2 slices of bread with Miracle Whip Dressing. Then choose from the following combinations:

Bistro Ham: Layer 3 slices apple, 3 slices thinly shaved ham, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and your choice cheese. Maybe Swiss? Try this on rye bread.
Deli Roast Beef: Layer 3 slices thinly shaved roast beef topped with 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon Miracle Whip and your choice cheese. How about cheddar? This would be good on a dark rye bread.
Tomato-Chicken: Layer 2 thin slices tomato, 1 thin slice chicken, 2 teaspoons basil pesto sauce and your choice of cheese. Muenster will kick things up a notch on whole wheat bread.
Margherita: Layer 2 slices tomato; 2 teaspoon chopped fresh basil and 2 mozzarella cheese slices. Try this on sour dough bread.

Cook each sandwich in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat 3 min. on each side or until cheese is melted and sandwich is golden brown on both sides. 

Quick Burritos

1 pound ground beef
1 can refried beans, warmed
6 flour tortillas (10-inch)
1/2-1 cup salsa
1-1/2 cup jack and cheddar cheese, shredded
1-1/2 cups shredded lettuce
1-1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup finely minced onion
Sour Cream

Brown meat in large skillet on medium heat; drain well. Add salsa until desired consistency and simmer 5 minutes. Spread beans evenly down centers of tortillas; top evenly with meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. Garnish with onion and sour cream if desired. Roll up burrito style. Makes 6 burritos.

Apple Harvest Salad

 1/4 cup buttermilk ranch dressing
1 cup tart apple wedges
1/2 cup red grapes
1 cup turkey breast slices, cut into strips
4 cups mixed salad greens
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, diced
1/4 cup bacon crumbles

Just before serving, mix all ingredients together. Evenly divide on 2 salad plates and garnish with a cluster of grapes. Serves 2.

Note: This recipe is easily multiplied. Just ‘eyeball’ the number of servings and multiply as needed.

Autumn Pear Crisp

4 large pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 vanilla wafer cookies, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup butter
Cool Whip Whipped Topping

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Spray 4 large custard cups with cooking spray.
Mix cream cheese, sugar and cinnamon until blended. Gently stir in pears. Spoon into prepared cups.

Mix cookie wafers, pecans and butter in small bowl. Sprinkle over cream cheese mixture. Place cups on baking sheet. Bake 25 min. or until pears are bubbling. Serve warm, topped with whipped topping.

Serves 4

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal!
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare. 

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