Dinner Tonight: Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits and some Blogger Love

Blue Cheese Biscuits with Roasted Tomatoes
I’m loving other foodies’ blogs this week.  After signing off of eating out for Lent, this week I decided to make nothing but food from amazing recipes I saw on Pinterest or other blogs I follow.  Today’s main recipe comes from Joy the Baker’s amazing blog.  I saw her recipe for tomato cobbler and blue cheese biscuits on Pinterest and I wanted it THAT VERY SECOND.  The recipe takes almost two hours, start to finish, so I had to save it for a night where we weren’t running around.  That night was tonight and I absolutely loved this dish.  Sweet and tangy roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, sweet basil and peppery, blue cheese biscuits…honestly, I can’t think of a more perfect combination of flavors.

Olive ate an entire biscuit, and a couple tomatoes and declared it, “good.” 🙂  I wasn’t sure if she would, so instead of making this dish the entire meal, I served it alongside some baked, herbed tilapia, inspired by my personal friend and fellow food-blogger, Becky from Apronclad.com.  I typically pan fry fish but when Becky posted about baking it, I thought, “hey, I’m already baking the main course, why not pop some fish in the oven, too?”  It turned out light and simple and I love how the protein in this case, was the side dish 🙂

Baked Tilapia with Herbs
I just thought this was a beautiful dish before it was baked! Here’s the simple method I used.  Thanks, Becky for the inspiration!

Baked Tilapia with Herbs
serves 2 and a toddler

3 small fillets of white fish – cod, tilapia, mahi mahi, etc.
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
snipped fresh herbs – I used thyme and chives, about a teaspoon each
1 tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes

In a shallow baking dish, spread the olive oil around and place the fish on the oil. Season fillets  with kosher salt and pepper and sprinkle the snipped herbs all on top and around the fish.  Dot the top of each fillet with a couple pieces of butter and bake at 375F for 15-18 minutes, until fish flakes apart easily.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon if desired.

 

Olive inhaled her fish, as it is a bit of a comfort-food item for her by this point.  I make fish every week.  Familiarity breeds comfort.  Serve your kids something covered in herbs enough and they’ll eventually not balk at it. You think your kids wouldn’t eat this meal?  I disagree! I think eventually they would.  I have watched over the past couple weeks as Olive has really come into a “grown-up” phase of her life where she MUST assert her own authority over things at ALL TIMES.  It’s fine, it’s normal, but I can see where this point in a toddler’s development would create a negative environment around food, trying new foods or even just mealtimes in general.  Here’s what we do:  Every meal, whatever we’re having, I put a tiny portion of each component on her plate.  I tell her what each thing is and then I back away.  Don’t even pay attention.  Make small-talk! The only time I intervene is when she hasn’t tried a particular component and I encourage her to.  Not shockingly, this is the only time during dinner she protests.  She doesn’t want to be told what to eat.  Do you?  I really should back off in this area even more.  So we just say she has to taste it.  Or simply smell it!  After a smell or a tiny lick, she will 99% of the time decide to eat it.  We emphasize that she doesn’t have to like it, but we DO want her to just taste.  If she doesn’t like the taste, that’s fine, and she can spit it back out if she wants.  It’s working!

We have had upsets.  We’ve had back tracking.  We’ve had days where the girl will literally only eat a cracker and declare herself “all done” and get up from the table and leave and not even come back for fruit.  We have had days where she cries because I tell her she can’t have dessert first.  Most of the time her fighting is on days where she really doesn’t have much of an appetite.  So I let it slide.  I think the most important thing you can do to get your kids to eat what you serve is to STOP ACTING LIKE YOU CARE.  And more importantly, if they don’t eat it, don’t serve them something else.  Don’t go to the kitchen and short-order them a side of PB&J.  I always make sure there is something on the table I know Olive likes and then the rest is up to her.  It’s tough to watch your kid not eat much at a meal.  But trust me – they make up for it at the next one!

I’ll do a simple repost on the tomato cobbler recipe.  I know several friends who would fawn over this recipe and I hope they will make it this weekend!  Summer Richards, I’m talking to you 🙂
Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits

Tomato Cobbler with Blue Cheese Biscuits*
serves 6

For the Biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
3/4 cup cold buttermilk

For the Filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and coarsely ground black pepper

To make the Biscuits:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add cold butter and shortening.  With your fingers, quickly break up the fat into the dry ingredients.  Rub the fats into the dry ingredients until well incorporated.  Some butter pieces will be the size of small peas, other will be the size of oat flakes.  Toss in blue cheese crumbles.  Stir to incorporate.

Create a small well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add buttermilk all at once.  With a fork, quickly bring together the wet and dry ingredients.  The dough will be rather shaggy.  Dump dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead dough about 10 times, bringing it together into a disk.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is assembled.

To make the tomato Filling:

Add olive oil and butter to a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add sliced onions and season with salt and pepper.  Cook and brown onions, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for one minute more.   Remove pan from heat, add balsamic vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together clean cherry tomatoes (no need to cut them), chopped basil, flour, and red pepper flakes.  Add caramelized onions and toss together until everything is lightly and evenly coated in flour.  Season with salt and pepper.

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour the tomato and onion filling into a square 8×8-inch baking dish.  Place in the oven and bake tomatoes filling for 25 minutes.

Remove the biscuit dough from the fridge.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out biscuit dough into a 3/4 or 1-inch thickness.  Use a 1 1/2 to 2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits.  Dip the cutter in flour should it get sticky.  Remove the partially cooked filling from the oven and carefully place 6 biscuits atop the tomato filling in the pan.  Brush biscuit tops with buttermilk and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Reshape and reroll excess biscuit dough to make extra biscuits at another time.  (The shaped biscuit dough freezes very well.)

Return warm filling and biscuit dough to oven and bake for 17-20 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through, and the tomato mixture is bubbling.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.  Tomato Cobbler is best served warm.

*posted directly from Joy the Baker’s blog

Tilapia with Tomatoes, Butter Beans and Sweet Peppers

tilapia with tomato sauce and butter beans

This was dinner on Monday night.  Olive’s plate looked no different than ours, except I compartmentalized things so she could easily grab them.  She ate one piece of tomato, one bean and all her fish.  She tried and spit out one olive.  We also gave her a cracker and after she ate half, she declared herself “all done.”  That’s it!  We didn’t ask her to eat more, we didn’t get upset that she wouldn’t try any more beans, although I know she loves beans and would like them.  I wanted to but I didn’t.  It’s a hard resolution but we have vowed to stop messing with Olive during meal times.  I have resolved to respect her more and trust her to eat what she needs at the mealtimes provided.  She only has one snack a day, between lunch and dinner, as we usually don’t eat dinner until 7 or 7:30, and so for the most part, she is hungry at meals and will eat.  Lately, because she’s not growing as rapidly as she did around a year-18 months, she doesn’t have a big appetite.  She is fine after a few bites and will declare herself finished, sometimes way before I believe she’s had enough.  But what do I know?  And how exactly do I know how hungry she is when she is probably a tenth the size of me?  I have seen that when she knows she’s not going to be messed with, she acts more controlled, more independent, and she is more focused on her meal.  On the contrary, when she feels watched, observed (it’s hard not to look at a kid while they’re eating), she immediately starts acting out.  She drops things and bangs her spoon on the table and tries to get out of her chair, and if I’m honest, it’s probably because she doesn’t want to eat with someone who stares at her every move and intimidates her to take “one more bite.”  Would you want to eat with one person like that, much less two?!
So we’ve vowed to stop.  Before Matt and all Olive’s stuffed animals as witnesses, we both said we would simply present dinner, encourage her to try new things, and then back OFF.  I firmly believe that if we trust our children to eat well and make good decisions, they will, eventually.  It’s that eventually that I know so many of us parents struggle with.  We want our kids to eat like we do, right now.  And so we often fall back on what we know they’ll like (insert fried or bland food here). We don’t realize that good eating is a learned skill, just like anything else.  It takes time.  It takes a few meals of “I don’t like it” and a few times of eating two bites and declaring “all done.”  But we must stick to it and not abandon ship at the first sign of resistance.  Here are a few rules around eating that we adhere to, nearly every day:

1. Eat only at meal times and one snack a day (Olive is 22 months old, by the way, and I’ve been doing this since she she was about 15 months old.  I do let her have milk between meals, but about an hour before a meal, I cut her off and give her only water if she’s thirsty.)
2. Variety is offered, along with something she recognizes.
3. I serve the new thing to her first, and we all eat a little bit of it together as a “first course,” if you will, because what kid is going to eat Brussels sprouts when there’s chicken on the table?
4. After the new food is presented and at least tried (she doesn’t have to eat much of it, just a taste), then I bring out the rest of the food, I put a little bit of each thing on her plate, explain what everything is, and then back off.
5. No distractions during meals – no toys (well sometimes the stuffed animals eat with us, but they’re not used as a distraction from the food), no toys, a.k.a. iPhones for me and Matt, no answering texts or calls.  This helps.  It really does.  Because as soon as Olive spots a phone, she wants it, or suddenly becomes dissatisfied with her sitting-down-and-not-playing-instead situation.  We try to engage her in our conversation, as well as encourage her not to shout during ours 🙂 It’s a growing and a learning process and more often than not, it does NOT go perfectly, but I think it’s the consistency that is the key.
6. If there’s dessert, you don’t have to do anything special to get it.  Not even eat all your vegetables.  You simply have to wait for everyone to finish.  So, if Olive eats just a bit of dinner, but not much, and I have already planned on serving a dessert, I do NOT tell her she needs to eat more before she can have it.  She can have it if she stays at the table.  If she wants to get down, she can, but if she wants dessert, she must come back, sit down and be civilized to get it. Dessert must not be contingent on her being a “good girl” or eating her “bad broccoli.”  If I could banish one crippling habit in the world, it would be our habit of calling foods “good” or “bad” and rewarding or punishing ourselves accordingly.
7. We eat together.  She doesn’t start first just because she’s hungry.  She waits.  And then we all sit down together.  This teaches respect, patience, and a realization that she’s not the only one that needs consideration.

So before you declare yourself or your kids a failed attempt before even trying, let me remind you that Olive very often doesn’t like what I serve.  She very often will only eat one of four things presented. Sometimes she shocks me and eats EVERYTHING, including the stinky cheese.  But this is rare, and yet I let it be a glimpse and a proof that she likes food, she just doesn’t always want a lot of it.

This meal was from Jamie Oliver’s, Jamie Magazine Recipe Yearbook (on news stands now!).  It’s so full of great recipes and I can’t wait to try more.  We loved the flavors and it was a refreshing way to serve the same ol’ fish and beans 🙂

tilapia with tomatoes, olives and butter beans

Tilapia with Tomatoes, Butter Beans and Sweet Peppers*
serves 4

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 orange or red bell pepper, diced and seeded
2-4 sweet pickled red peppers (I got mine at the olive bar at our grocery store)
1-15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted olives
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1-15 oz. can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
4 white fish fillets (sole, tilapia, swai)

For the sauce, heat half the oil in a medium pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft.  Add the peppers and fry for 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and olives and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Add the beans and dill and heat for about a minute.  Set mixture aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and cook the fish about 2-3 minutes per side, until a nice golden brown is on each side.  Season with salt and pepper and arrange fillets over the tomato/bean mixture and serve with extra dill and a side of bread – dinner is served!

*adapted from Jamie Magazine Recipe Yearbook