Surprising baby food

Spinach frittata with green salad

Yes, we are definitely in the "healthy issue."

Yes, we are definitely in the “healthy issue.”

Braised collards with tomatoes

It's a good thing, y'all!

It’s a good thing, y’all!

Black-bean and brown-rice cakes

Surely if I add enough bread and sauce, this will taste like something....

Surely if I add enough bread and sauce, this will taste like something….

No one needs to tell me how lucky I am that my son is a great eater.  It is a huge relief and a blessing.  He doesn’t always eat a ton of what’s put in front of him, and it sometimes takes him three tries to really get to like something, but he is a pretty adventurous eater for a toddler.  I’ve been told many times by doctors and other professional types that this will ratchet back and he will go through a picky stage where he’ll only want mac and cheese.  But I’m enjoying this adventurous baby while I’ve got him.  Which brings me to the point of this post, these were three recipes that I served my little guy and didn’t think he’d really like them.  Spinach, collard greens, and black bean burgers with cilantro sauce don’t typically show up on the kids’ menu.  D and I liked one of these recipes very much, one pretty much, and one we were super pumped that the baby could eat it for us.  🙂

The braised collards were out-G.D.-standing.  They take a legitimate three hours plus, but that’s mostly just time on the stove.  I was lucky enough to buy pre-washed and pre-chopped collard greens, so this was just a matter of cutting up an onion and smashing some garlic cloves for me.  And the taste is wonderful.  I’m not really one for soul food.  I’m just not.  I lived in Georgia for a year when I was a kid, but I never developed a taste for it.  I don’t cook southern style stuff (which D actually really likes…sorry sweetie) and my affinity for Everyday Food plays right into that.  With the exception of the occasional BBQ summertime menu, Everyday Food keeps well above the Mason-Dixon line.  D was actually very surprised to see this one.  I believe the exact quote was “This is Everyday Food?  Ham hock, black eyed peas, and collards?!”  Well, to quote the great Scarlett O’Hara, “Fiddle dee dee!”  This is a delicious meal.  The slow cooking melds the flavors together beautifully to make a mild dish.  This is wonderful comfort food.  I will definitely make this one again.

Now the one we pretty much all three agreed on: the frittata and green salad.  The green salad was what it said it was.  Let’s leave it at that.  The frittata was nice.  It uses more egg whites than egg yolks, which leaves you in the difficult position of either doing something with all of those extra egg yolks or just throwing them out.  B suggested I make mayonnaise or orange curd.  These were fine ideas.  ….  I threw the yolks out a week later.  If you can think of something to do with the yolks or if you don’t mind pitching them, this is a fine recipe.  Or you could be a little less health-conscious and just leave them in.  I won’t tell.

All three members of my little clan loved the frittata on the first day.  J ate it up with minimal ketchup.  D and I both enjoyed it.  We had an extra one for dinner for J the next day, and I was dismayed to hear that he didn’t like it until D told me that the texture got really rubbery when he reheated it.  Maybe that’s because it’s mostly egg whites?  I don’t usually have a problem reheating egg dishes like quiche.  I’ll blame the egg whites.  Yet another reason to sneak those suckers back in there…

Last and least (depending on who you ask), the recipe that J loved and the adults haaaaated: the black bean and brown rice burgers.  Wow.  It’s not that they’re bad.  They’re not.  They’re just so bland.  Yes, even with all that jalapeno and cumin and the yogurt-cilantro sauce.  They tasted like refried beans.  We put them on rolls, added a bunch of the sauce, more cilantro, some red onion.  It tasted like…refried beans on a roll with a bunch of sauce, cilantro, and red onion.  J could not disagree more with this.  He ate all of our leftovers.  I want to say he ate these something like three or four days in a row.  He even ate one of the ones with jalapenos in it (we made separate burgers for the grownups) when my mom mistakenly fed him one.  He liked that one, too.  More power to you, J.

Nice midwestern girl goes rogue

Bratwurst with collards and rice

beer brats, Everyday Food style

beer brats, Everyday Food style

First, let me say that the cheapskate recipes are some of my favorites.  This is a dinner under $10 feature, and I appreciate that.

That aside, there was one thing about this recipe that tripped me up, the smoked bratwurst.  The recipe calls for either smoked bratwurst or kielbasa.  Now, I didn’t fully pay attention to that.  If I had, I would have recognized that normal bratwurst like the kind you have in the summer isn’t really anything like kielbasa.  I don’t believe I’ve ever had or seen smoked bratwurst.  So when I went to make the shopping list, I just put down “bratwurst.”  Then I went to make the recipe, and I noticed that it has you slicing the sausage to cook it.  Well, if you’re doing that with normal bratwurst, that’s just straight up weird.  The casing doesn’t really let you slice it into disks.  And, even if you could, it wouldn’t really cook that way.  Bratwurst wants to be treated as a link.  I tried to split the difference by plopping it out of the casing in about 2 tablespoon chunks to brown almost like a meatball.  Cooking those blobs with the onion was getting to be a dry mess, and I could see that it was going to burn before the sausage was actually cooked all the way through.  Then I remembered something very important…beer.  I realized that this recipe was written for smoked bratwurst and whatever that was, I didn’t have it.  I had to dance with the one I brought, so to speak.  So I dumped in a third of a can of Half Acre’s Pony.  That’s a big can, so let’s say it’s a 1/2 of a normal can of beer.

My not-so-little pony

My not-so-little pony

That was just the ticket.  The brats stopped burning and starting cooking like they’re supposed to.  I felt like a Midwestern genius.  I felt like it was the dish I was born on flat land by a big lake to save.  I got to drink the rest of the delicious beer.  The collards got some nice beer flavor.  Win and win.  To up the beer and brats flavor, I added some Dijon mustard in when I added the vinegar.  D and I devoured this dish.  It definitely pays to go rogue.

brats and collards, ready for the big time

brats and collards, ready for the big time