Week 1–Ranch Ham & Cheese Pasta, Flaky Empanadas, & Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

For week 1, we picked a couple of entrees and one dessert/snack.  My husband prepped the veggies on Saturday night and I did a cooking marathon during Sunday’s quiet/nap time followed by a sprint of family cooking project at snacktime.

Here are links to the recipes, what I adapted, and the results so far:

Ranch Ham and Cheese Pasta: This recipe seemed to be a great match for my kids who love both mac and cheese and ham separately and my little one who really enjoys peas. I figured the big one would just pick the peas out. The recipe made more than enough for at least three dinners for the family. I played around a bit with the seasoning since my husband isn’t a dill fan and swapped in some ground coriander seed instead. I also didn’t have easy access to cubed ham so I went with Applegate Farms Virginia Ham sliced thick and then cut into julienne strips. Since my little one requested more it for breakfast this morning, I’m considering this one a hit. Easy to rewarm in the microwave, too. Thanks to theHarried Homemaker.

Flaky Empanadas: I wish I had time but making the crust by hand just wasn’t in the cards so I went for ready made pie dough to make this recipe achievable. I am sure the recipe would have turned out even better if I had been able to follow it more closely but it was an acceptable substitute. I did invest time in slow cooking the filling and it definitely paid off. For preschool palates, I used half of the suggested chipotle in adobo and I added a healthy couple of handfuls of frozen corn kernels to try to get a few more veggies in where I could. The girls’ only other exposure to empanadas was a happy one thanks to La Sonrisa and the Hester Street Fair but my eldest now claims only to eat Chinatown empanadas. I had a ton of extra filling left over and decided to premake some quesadillas with it. Going to give both forms a try for dinner tomorrow. The good news is that I really like them even if they end up requesting plain cheese quesadillas instead. Nothing ventured, nothing gained… Thanks to Zen Can Cook.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites: This recipe was the single best family cooking experience we have had so far and were so delicious that few made their way to the cooling in the refrigerator stage. Even my two year old was capable of making the tiny sandwiches and dipping them in the cooled melted chocolate. We dipped in both white and semisweet chocolate and I ended up subbing in a squeeze of honey and a dollop of maple syrup for the sugars. Very happy family, even my two year old could participate in sandwich making and dipping. Thanks to Two Tiny Kitchens!

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2 Responses to Week 1–Ranch Ham & Cheese Pasta, Flaky Empanadas, & Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

  1. I’m glad I found your blog! I’m on maternity leave right now but am already wondering what it will be like to come home tired from work and trying to make nutritious meals quickly. I wanted to try Ranch Ham and Cheese pasta but the link seems to be broken. Was it from a cookbook? Thanks.

  2. Sorry about that. Here’s the link: http://wiseanticsoflife.blogspot.com/2010/12/ranch-ham-and-cheese-pasta.html Enjoy and hope the transition back to work is a smooth one!

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