(More) Meatless Mondays
Our family has continued going meatless on Mondays, though it sometimes feels to me as though I’m putting a bunch of side dishes on the table and calling it dinner. That is to say, I’m still searching for vegetarian things that truly feel like a main course AND that my kids might eat. If you have some recipes that fit that bill, do share.
One thing I did make, and which my children did not eat, was French Lentil Soup. It was incredibly easy to pull together and made enough that an impromptu dinner visit from family only involved setting two more places at the table. I made this recipe exactly as written and all the adults at the table loved its heartiness and flavor. The girls were put off by the chunkiness and texture of the lentils. I served it with little toasts with Boursin cheese and a green salad.
Another area where I’ve been experimenting is in baking healthier versions of our favorite snacks. Because my girls love Fig Newtons, I made Oatmeal, Fig, and Walnut bars in hopes of incorporating more whole grains. I made a few changes to the recipe, using butter instead of margarine (the original recipe was vegan), and substituting whole wheat flour for half the all-purpose flour. Chopping the figs probably took the longest, and I wish I had diced them smaller:
After that, you just incorporate the figs into a filling, then make a crumbly crust that serves as both the base and the topping for the bars. When it was all said and done (and baked), they came out looking like this:
This recipe made A LOT of bars – a whole 9×13 pan – and my family did not exactly gobble them up. The girls liked them well enough when I served them as a snack or after-meal treat, but they never once asked for them otherwise. And my husband and I both thought the bars were more like apple crisp, but with a fig filling – the kind of thing you want to heat up in a bowl and top with some vanilla ice cream. At 128 calories per serving, though, these would be a good alternative when you feel like baking something but want to avoid having a pan of brownies calling to you from your stovetop.
Next on my list of kitchen projects is baking my own bread. Though I’ve long loved to cook and bake, for some reason I’ve always been intimidated by doing anything that called for working with yeast. Even recipes that claimed to be “easy” or “idiot-proof” made me suspicious, and I always suspected that I’d put in all that time and kneading only to remove a hard lump from my oven. Why I lacked courage here, I don’t know, but I’ve finally come across a recipe that’s convinced me to try. I’ll let you know how it goes, but if you already bake your own bread, feel free to share encouragement here. (Bonus points for telling me how great my house is going to smell.)