Friday, April 29, 2011

Family Fun: Getting kids to try food

When kids are really little, we try to entice them with airplane spoons and Disney plates, but as they graduate to real flatware and the regular dishes, we sometimes lose the sense of fun.

One way I got my kids to try new goods was to buy interesting tableware. I got soup spoons in Chinatown for about $1 each, and they eagerly spooned up vegetarian Asian soups.

I have a lot of different chopsticks, both the smaller, thinner Japanese kind, and the thicker Chinese chopsticks, for stir-fries and sushi. I also bought different chopstick rests, to make the meals fun.

Not for the kids
Adults deserve a little fun, too, and I recently went to an event where party planner Cathy Riva made great cocktails even more special by rimming the glasses in colored sugar.

Because I like things less sweet, I made these at home with a mixture of sea salt and colored sugar.

Pear Ginger Fizz
1 part Sauza Silver Tequila
2tsp ginger liqueur
1 part pear juice
Top with champagne

Wet champagne flute and dip into colored sugar

Shake and strain tequila, ginger liqueur, and pear juice into the glass and top with champagne.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mother's Day Brunch

Going out for brunch in NYC is a blood sport; going out on Mother's Day is exponentially worse. Every couple of years we make a mistake and go out for Mother's Day - inevitably, we wait forever, our order is screwed up, and no one is happy.

So this year, we are heading to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market to combine a bike ride and brunch. On the 2nd Sunday of each month, the flea market hosts a Gourmet Food Truck Bazaar, from 11am - 5pm.

The trucks include: Rickshaw Dumplings (vegetarian edamame dumplings), Kimchi Taco Truck, (falafel and kimchee) Luke’s Lobster (lobster rools, duh), and best of all, the vegan Cinnamon Snail. They have tempeh sliders, spicy seitan and grilled tofu.

For dessert, The Cavity Shoppe. I will be avoiding Schnitzel & Things.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easy Meals: Pasta Delivers

I have a friend who is an excellent cook and baker. her soups, stews, and salads are all perfect and she makes brownies, cookies and cakes that are just delicious.
But she can’t make pasta. No matter what she does, her pasta is gummy, under-sauced and a misery.

I can’t understand this because pasta is one of the easiest meals for me to throw together. In fact, I have to make an effort NOT to make pasta too often - it is a vegetarian trap, an old stand-by that is also a kid-favorite.

But if you are similarly pasta-challenged, or work long hours and face an empty fridge, Schwan’s can help. Schwan’s Home Service delivers a grocery store of choices to your home and the new Fresco by Scotto offers restaurant quality meals that you can store in your freezer, and quickly heat up.

The NYC restaurant, Fresco, has a new line of frozen entrees that include vegetarian friendly baked ziti, and pasta with spinach and mushrooms. These are easy, and pretty cheap, ways of getting veggies into your kids. The eggplant and zucchini pie disguises the vegetables under a red sauce with ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. And a huge tray of it, serving 5, is only $14.80.

There are also a couple of pastas with meat, including a meat lasagne and penne a la vodka with chicken.

And best of all, you can’t possibly screw it up.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Win $150!

Shanghai cuisine is one of my favorite types of Chinese food. There is actually a Chinatown restaurant in NYC called Shanghai Cuisine and they serve the famous soup dumplings.

Also, these dumplings use pork to get the haunting flavor. And crab. Not the best choice for a vegetarian. But they also have a number of tofu and vegetable dishes, with sweet & sour one of the preferred preparations.

I have friends living in Shanghai and we want to take our kids to visit. And American Airlines is not only flying to Shanghai now, they are also giving away $150 towards a flight (or anywhere AA flies.

Watch the American Airlines video and go to the American Airlines giveaway to enter the contest.

And try the soup dumplings. Even if they are not vegetarian.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ordering In

Here is the usual scenario when we want to order food. We poll family members (up to 5) to see who wants what cuisine. Then we look for menus. Usually, we don’t have a menu for the kind of food we want, or we only find an old menu for a Chinese place that closed.

We have been saved by This nationwide service lets you search nearby restaurants, narrow them down by cuisine (e.g. Thai, vegetarian, Mexican) then read menus and Yelp reviews and order your food. You can even find deals and specials on the site.

You don’t pay any extra for this - places that don’t charge for delivery don’t charge when you order through

Another cool feature - if you are on vacation and have a hankering for Indian food or pizza, you can find a place.

Now if we could only all agree on what to order...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coke for Breakfast

As a New Yorker, I always knew that adults started their mornings with coffee. As a girl, I really didn’t like milk, so my mother would put a couple of spoonfuls of coffee in my milk and I would drink it.

So I was completely shocked the first time I went to London and people started their day with tea. It just seemed so wrong.

Then I went to Texas. Everyone there, it seemed, stated their day with a Coke. A cold drink in the morning? Doesn’t your morning beverage have to be hot?

But it makes a little sense, when you think about it. Kids drink milk or orange juice in the morning, but of them cold. Who says you have to start your day with a hot liquid?

And yes, Coca-Cola is sweeter than the unsweetened coffee I still drink. But plenty of people throw a couple of sugars into their coffee. If you ask them, they say they have to cover the bitter taste of the coffee. I like the bitterness - but if you don’t like the taste of coffee, why are you drinking it?

It’s hot in the south. A cold drink makes sense. One with caffeine makes even more sense, particularly if you have kids who keep you up at night.

Coke in the morning? Still not my thing. But I wonder if Starbucks would have a better time right now if they started selling soda.

As much of the country is overtaken by malls, I think it’s important to encourage regional differences. Not only is Coke the morning beverage in the south, but people eat grits with their eggs, instead of hash browns, or biscuits instead of toast. I won’t eat biscuits with gravy (not vegetarian) but I always want to try whatever regional vegetarian specialties there are.

On my recent trip to Panama City Beach, Florida, I went to Andy’s Flour Power Bakery where they have biscuits and gravy, grits with eggs and cold sweet tea for breakfast. And Coke.

I got a plain biscuit and grits. And coffee.

But then I realized I do have a Coke product at breakfast. The Coca Cola Co. also now makes Minute Maid orange juice.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Coca-Cola® blogging program. If I am one of the first 100 blogs received by SocialsMoms, I will receive a $25 gift card. For more information on the program, click here.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Little Switches: New Vegetarian Dinners

No matter how much you try to innovate in the kitchen, you can quickly fall into routines. My husband grew up in a house where every Monday was spaghetti and meatballs, every Tuesday, steak, every Wednesday, overcooked fish, every Thursday, dry chicken, every Friday a pot roast (also over cooked). They went out on Saturday nights or the parents went out & the kids ate TV dinners. Apparently, they didn’t eat on Sundays.

My mother served a more eclectic, and less overcooked, mix, but she did pretty much serve chicken one of 3 ways, (I hated all of them) fish 2 or 3 different ways and everything with no salt and little flavor.

I vowed to be different, but now as my kids have gotten older, they make odd declarations, like “you know I don’t eat lentils” or “when have I ever liked (insert name of that night’s dinner).

So I’ve decided to just make new vegetarian foods every night and, in a little switch, not even take into consideration everyone’s likes and dislikes. You eat it, great, If not, leftovers.

I found a recipe for a cabbage and potato gratin recently. I was not even sure I would like it - I grew up hating cabbage. One kid sneered, then ate all the potatoes. I could swear a teensy bit of green was clinging to some of the potatoes.

The other kid expressed surprise, said she didn’t like cabbage, took a big helping, and ate it all.

And you know what? I liked it, too.

1 pound Yellow Finn potatoes, cut into ¼ inch slices
1 ½ pounds green cabbage, cut into ribbons
Salt and black pepper
¼ cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/3 cups skim milk
3 eggs
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup flour

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a gallon of water to a boil.  Add the potatoes and boil until nearly tender (about 6 minutes).  Remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon.  Set aside.
Add the cabbage to the water and boil for about 5 minutes.  Drain and dry in a kitchen towel.
Combine the potatoes, cabbage, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Cottonelle blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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