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Saltines and cereal

Story and photos by Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

People often ask me what is on the menu at Sutton Central. The past few weeks my answer has been, “Well, the diapered duo will only eat cereal and Segen is pretty much subsisting on her favorite meal of saltines slathered with margarine and topped with a piece of processed sliced cheese.” So to answer the question, our menu has been a little strange as of late!

I don’t worry too much about the kiddos’ nutritional needs. They eat quite well—most of the time. We dismiss the cereal eating and saltine fixation as phases that will soon morph into some other strange culinary obsession. Segen has been watching a kid’s cooking show and then participated in a couple of classes taught by the county Extension agency. For a few weeks she was really stretching her comfort level with spices and recipes that are out of the normal repertoire of a 7-year-old-mostly-picky eater. The toddler twins will try and eat just about anything as a result of being part of a multi-cultural day-care. It’s just currently that only marshmallow-laden charms and the squares that only Mikey likes have been vociferously requested for all meals. Oh, and it must be dry cereal and served only in plastic storage containers. So cereal is a packed with vitamins, right?

During this phase I’ve had the opportunity to try a few recipes that are more palatable for adults. I only share the recipes we’ve tried and liked or that readers tell me are the top of their family’s list. Someday I might make a list of recipes that were complete bombs or were so unpleasant we called for pizza delivery. I might even throw in some of my food photography fails just to make you laugh!

Avocado Deviled Eggs

A twist on our favorite protein-packed deviled eggs.

3 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
1 large avocado
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp cilantro<
Pinch of garlic powder, salt and pepper
Sprinkle with paprika, optional

Remove the cooked yolks from the hard boiled eggs into a bowl. Add the avocado to the bowl next. Then add the remaining ingredients and mash together well with a fork. Add the mixture to the egg halves. Sprinkle with paprika if desired.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This makes one sandwich so plan accordingly for the number you’re serving.

2 slices thick-cut crusty bread (like Texas Toast)
3 to 5 slices bacon, cut in half
2 to 3 Tbsp. prepared ranch dressing
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 to 4 oz. roasted chicken, thinly sliced
1 to 2 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thinly

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and dab off grease. Use a panini press or skillet to make this sandwich. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Take one slice of bread, butter side down and spread the other side of the bread with 1 tablespoon of ranch dressing. Place half of the cheese on top of the ranch. Layer on chicken and bacon. Top with remaining cheddar cheese. Slather remaining slice of bread with remaining ranch dressing and place atop the cheese, ranch side down, butter side up. Place sandwich on panini press and cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melty. If you use the skillet method, you’ll need to press the sandwich down and flip it so each side is golden brown.

Oven Fajitas

I found this gem on Budgetbytes.com.

To make seasoning:

1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp. corn starch

To make fajitas:

2 small yellow onions
2 medium green bell peppers
1 medium red bell pepper
1 lb. chicken breast
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lime
8 (6-inch) tortillas
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 bunch cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients for the fajita seasoning in a small bowl and set aside (chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and corn starch). Cut the onion and bell peppers into 1/4 to 1/2-inch-wide strips. Place them in a large 9- by 13-inch casserole dish. Slice the chicken breast into very thin strips and add it to the casserole dish with the vegetables. Sprinkle the seasoning over the meat and vegetables. Drizzle the canola oil over everything and then use your hands to toss the ingredients until everything is well coated in oil and seasoning. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring once half way through. Squeeze the juice from half of the lime over top of the meat and vegetables after it comes out of the oven. Scoop a small amount of meat and vegetables into the center of each tortilla. Top with a few sprigs of cilantro, a dollop of sour cream, and an extra squeeze of lime if desired.

Chicken Kabobs

Kabobs are one of our favorite meals since we can be cooking and playing kickball in the backyard at the same time.

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
1 (8-oz.) plain yogurt
1 c. greek vinaigrette or Caesar dressing
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. oregano
1 red onion, cut into 1” pieces
2 green bell peppers, cut into 1” pieces

In a large resealable bag, place chicken, yogurt, dressing, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and oregano. Zip and mix with your hands. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Soak your wooden skewers in water for two minutes before grilling to prevent them from burning. After meat has marinated, thread alternating pieces of meat, onion and green pepper on skewers. Heat grill to medium-high heat until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. We use a meat thermometer to test for 165 degrees internal temperature. This took about 40 minutes because I cut my chicken cubes a bit bigger.

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