Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: The Sneaky Chef, How to Cheat on Your Man (in the Kitchen)

I remember when Missy Lapine's first book came out. My first thought was...well that is a dumb concept. How can you teach children to eat and enjoy vegetables if you never serve them? I have always loved veggies especially grilled teriyaki veggies, but my husband is not a veggie man. Unfortunately, my son takes after his father...100%!

My husband is a meat and potatoes man! I even had to introduced him to romaine lettuce because iceberg was the standard in his home. Spinach, something I love, is still out of the question. Needless to say, I do not want my mini picky eater to end up the same way. Hence, the Sneaky Chef has vetured back into my library.

I was really excited about the concept this time around, but leery about my husbands reaction. I have always added vegetables secretly into our food, but this took some recipes to a new level. It has given me a new creative edge on how easy it really is to add some vital nutrients into my vegetable-free boys.

Here are some of the recipes I tried:
****Just a note...all the recipes call for pureed (steammed) veggies. I steamed a few large batches, pureed veggies and froze the left over for later recipes. The book also says that you can use jarred baby food instead of making your own.

Banana Nut Pancakes

4 egg whites              
1 t vanilla               
1/4 t salt                    
1/2 c  pureed sweet potatoes and carrots
2 t honey or syrup    
2 bananas, mashed  
2T ground walnuts     
3/4c Flour (1/4c wheat, 1/2c white flour)
2 t baking powder     
1/2 t cinnamon        
1/4-1/2 c milk          
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, optional

Mix all ingredients together. Adjust milk to thin mix to desired consistency. Cook pancakes on griddle.

**These were really yummy! Ante has been anti-pancakes for quite a while, yet he ate 3 in one sitting!

Chicken Waldorf Wrap
1/4 c mayo                       
2 T pureed Garbonzo beans             
4.5 t lemon juice
2 T wheat germ                
Salt and pepper                                
1 Granny Smith, peeled and chopped
1/2 c chopped nuts (these are great dusted with a bit of cayenne, cinnamon and ginger)
3 celery ribs, chopped     
2 c grapes, halved                             
Whole wheat tortillas
2 c cooked, cubed chicken

1. Combine all the ingredients together and foll up in the wrap with a few stalks of romaine.

***I love Waldorf salad, so, this was really good! I skipped the mayo and used plain yogurt instead. I also opted for shredded chicken breasts, but a rotissery would work well here. Toasting the nuts and then dusting with spices was a yummy addition. Another easy idea would be to make this as a curry chicken salad.

Hashbrown Patties
1 c hashbrowns               
Salt, onion powder                            
1/4 c pureed white beans
1/4 c oat bran                   
1/4 c cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Mix all the ingredients together. make patties and place on a greased cookie sheet. Spray a bit extra spray oil on the top of the patties. Bake for 20 minutes then remove and flip over patties. Bake 20 minutes longer. (serve immediately or freeze for up to 3 months)

***These were really yummy. I allowed to cook a bit longer because I like really crispy hashbrowns. I also left the cheese out. I made a large batch and froze the extra and I am super happy I did!

Not His Mother's Meatloaf

1 egg                                
1/2c Garbonzo bean puree                
1/4 c Tomato puree
2 t Worcestreshire            
1 med onion, pureed                        
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c Oat Bran                   
Salt and Pepper                               
1 pound ground Turkey
2 T Ketchup

Combine all the ingredients except the Ketchup. Mix and shape. Then add the ketchup on top and bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes.

***This was good, but I would have taken this a step father. Meatloaf is an awesome place to add hidden veggies. I mixed beef and pork and then added pureed sweet potato, spinach and broccoli. (sounds gross, but my husband didn't notice it at all!)           

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
4 potatoes, peeled and mashed                   
3 T parmesan, Grated
1/2 c pureed cauliflower, zucchini               
1/2 c plain yogurt     
Salt, pepper and a dash of sugar

Boil potatoes until tender, then combine with remaining ingredients and serve.

****This didn't work well. Mashed potatoes in my opinion should not be messed with! The cauliflower was overpowering and bitter. I think you could do this with zucchini for sure and no one would notice or zucchini and a white bean. Personally I will stick to strictly potatoes!

Burly Burritos
1/2 c bean dip: Food process together-1T olive oil, 1 small onion, pureed, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1c pureed zucchini and cauliflower, 1t chili powder, 1/2 t cumin, 1 (15oz) can refried beans, 1 cup Salsa (optional)
1/2 c cooked brown rice   
2 whole wheat tortillas                   
1/4 c shredded cheddar
Optional toppings: romain, slasa, black olives, thin onions

Spoon 1/2 bean dip and 1/2 rice on to the bottom of the tortilla. Top with a bit of cheese and any other optional toppings.  Roll up and serve. (Or, roll in parchement and freeze, microwave 1 minute and serve)

***I personally think bean burritos are boring, so I jazzed it up with a bit of shredded chicken and pimentos. I warmed in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes, then served with sour cream and a peach salsa. They were yummy! Now imagine making these as flautas or chimis...umm!

Bowling Night Bolgnese
1T olive oil                        
1 med onion, pureed                     
1 oz bacon (turkey bacon)
1 pound ground meat         
3 cloves garlic, minced                 
3/4 c pureed spinach, broccoli, and peas
1(6oz) can tomato paste    
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes          
1 c evaporated milk
1/4 c Oat Bran                 
Salt and Pepper

1. Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. When translucent, remove ans set aside. Then, brown meat and bacon. Add cooked onions/garlic and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and the reduce heat to low and simmer 30-40 minutes. Toss with pasta and serve.

***This was yummy! I have tried a lot of Bolgnese in Europe and I always loved when the bolognese was lovingly packed full of veggies...Tomatoes can mask the flavor well! This recipe was great as is, but I added some diced carrots and peppers along with pureed sweet potatoes. You could also add mushrooms!

Everyone Loves Romano Chicken
1/2 c Wheat flour             
2 egg whites                                   
1/4 c pureed Cauliflower and Zucchini
3/4 c wheat germ             
Salt and Pepper                             
1/2 c Parmesan
4 chicken cutlets

1. Preheat oven to 400. Put flour in a dish and then in a seperate dish combine the egg whites and pureed veggies. In a third bowl, combine wheat germ, salt, pepper, and cheese.
2. Dredge cutlets in flour, then eggs then wheatgerm. Press breading eavenly on each side.
3. Put chicken on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Spray the top of the chicken with oil and bake 10-12 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes or spaghetti or asparagus.

***This was very simple and yummy. The breading masked the bitterness of the cauliflower. I cut one of the cutlets up into smaller pieces and make little romano nuggets for Ante...surprisingly even Mr. No Meat ate them!

Stuffed Manli-cotti
1 pkg Manicotti                
1 c  Ricotta                                   
1 c firm tofu, pureed         
1 clove garlic, minced        
6 T parmesan           
1 1/2c Left over Bolognese (or 1 1/2 c store bought sauce and 2 c pureed cauliflower and zucchini)

1. Cook manicotti according to directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except sauce. (if using store bought sauce...add 1c of purreed veggies to manicotti stuffing and other 1c of pureed veggies to sauce)
2. Fill manicotti shells. Place 3/4c of sauce in bottom of a greased baking dish, place manicotti on top and finish off with remaining sauce. Cover with foil sprayed with oil and bake for 30 minutes.

***I am not a master at manicotti, so I was pleasantly surprised! I would definitely make these again (I actually froze some leftovers...You couldn't distinguish the tofu in the manicotti, so that was a nice bonus. I was a bit worried about that! I also added an extra cup of shredded mozzarella to the top before baking. Then, baked for 20-25 minutes before removing the foil for the last 5-10 minutes.

Overall I was very impressed with the recipes I tried. I will definetly be tracking down the other books to check them out as well. Adding the veggies is a great way to ensure my boys are getting the nutrients they need, but it is equally important to serve the veggies in their natural state. That is the only way I might manage to get my wee boy to try them.

If you would like some other free hidden veggie recipes, check out the website at:

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