weeknight gourmet

Category : Kid friendly

Dipping Delights: Baked Mozzarella Bites

IMG_0269Here is an easy and tasty snack or lunch for your little one!  Charlotte loves cheese sticks so I figured these mozzarella bites would be a hit.

To prep, simply cut up a piece of string cheese, dip into egg or egg substitute, and dredge in some toasted panko.  Then bake for just two minutes to soften the cheese (the recipe calls for three minutes but a few pieces melted too much).  Serve with some marinara for dipping.  What kid doesn’t like to dip?!

Everyone in the house loved them!  Tim and I gobbled up some leftover pieces and Angus ate one that hit the floor.

Baked Mozzarella Bites
Cooking Light

  • 1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3 (1-ounce) sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese
  • 3 tablespoons egg substitute
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup lower-sodium marinara sauce (such as McCutcheon’s)

Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup panko to pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and place the panko in a shallow dish.

Cut mozzarella sticks into 1-inch pieces. Working with one piece at a time, dip cheese in egg substitute; dredge in panko. Place cheese on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 3 minutes or until the cheese is softened and thoroughly heated.

Pour the marinara sauce into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring after 30 seconds. Serve with mozzarella pieces.

Weelicious: Turkey Pesto Meatballs

My friend Amy bought me the Weelicious cookbook for my birthday.  The recipes are family-friendly, healthy, and relatively easy to make.

Other than hot dogs, Charlotte is not much of a meat eater.  But I keep trying new things in the hope that I find a dish or two featuring meat that she’ll enjoy.  The Weelicious cookbook is proving to be a good source for some recipes Charlotte will enjoy.

These turkey meatballs looked so simple but tasty!  The addition of pesto looked interesting and added a nice flavor.  Charlotte and I both enjoyed them!  She did not devour them but eating one meatball was a win!

One note: I had to cook the meatballs for about 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for.

Turkey Pesto Emails
Adapted from Weelicious Cookbook

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/4 store-bought pesto
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 cups tomato sauce (I used Rao’s)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the turkey, pesto, bread crumbs, cheese, and salt in a large bowl and combine thoroughly.

Pour the tomato sauce into a 9×9 baking pan.

Use about 1 tablespoon per meatball, roll the mixture into balls and place in baking pan.  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes, or until cooked through.


Charlotte’s Beans & Pasta

As I’ve mentioned before Charlotte is a good eater but seems to gravitate towards vegetarian options.  She’ll eat fish and occasionally chicken.  But she loves cheese, beans, hummus, avocado, tofu.

Here is a tasty pasta dish I made for Charlotte.  It is packed with veggies and has some protein from the white beans.  I also used a whole wheat penne to make the dish even healthier.

You can make this recipe for all the whole family — I had leftovers for lunch topped with grated parmesan.  Yum!
Farmer’s Beans & Pasta
Martha Stewart

  •     1/2 pound mini penne pasta
  •     1 tablespoon olive oil
  •     1/2 onion, thinly sliced crosswise into half-moons
  •     1 cup diced carrots (about 2 small carrots)
  •     1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  •     1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1/4 teaspoon pepper
  •     3/4 cup chicken stock
  •     1 cup diced zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
  •     1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
  •     1 can (15 1/2 ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed

Cook pasta according to package instructions; drain. Set aside.

In medium nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sage, oregano, salt, pepper, and stock. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 10 minutes. Add zucchini and tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the beans, and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Toss with pasta, and serve.

Back to School Dinner: Parmesan Chicken

Since it’s the start of the school year, I thought I should post some kid-friendly recipes that will also appeal to adults.  Tonight I made Tim this wonderfully simple but delicious chicken cutlet recipe served over greens with a lemony vinaigrette.

Just a couple of comments…I didn’t have seasoned breadcrumbs so I just added some Italian seasoning to the breadcrumbs.  I also ran out of butter so I just used 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Make sure not to crowd the cutlets when cooking them.  Cook them in batches if you need to.  Lastly, I added some cucumbers and tomatoes to the salad.


The cutlets were very tasty and went perfectly with the greens.  This will definitely satisfy both kids and adults!

Parmesan Chicken
Barefoot Contessa

  • 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • Unsalted butter
  • Good olive oil
  • Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry
  • 1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Toss the salad greens with lemon vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each hot chicken breast. Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

Lemon Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Yield: 6 servings