Monday, April 12, 2010

Greens the kids will love!

All 3 of my kids like vegetables (for the most part). I've never had a problem getting them to munch on fresh veggies, especially with some yummy dip. While each has had their moments where they don't seem to want a certain veggie, it's not a general dislike for vegetables. The boys have each had a phase where they flat out insisted they didn't like a vegetable: Zach hated peas from birth until very recently; Gabe quit liking cooked carrots about the time he turned 3 1/2.

Zach also had a major dislike for all things potato (with the exception of french fries, of course) from birth until just the last 6 months or so. And Gabe, being the perfect little brother, has decided that sounds like a cool dislike to pick up right where Zach left off. Words cannot describe how aggravating it is for Mommy to have to sit and watch him push what used to be one of his favorite foods around his plate, refusing to even try it. Grrr.....

But fortunately, my kids have veggies they absolutely LOVE. Funny enough it's the veggies that most kids don't like til they are adults, if even then. All 3 go nuts for roasted asparagus, which surprises me to no end (I know some kids like them, but as a collective whole I hear about kids that won't touch any veggie at all except raw carrots & celery, so it surprises me to know end that all 3 love them!) And they will all ask for spinach. Yes, spinach. And without Mommy having to mention Popeye's name (ok, bad example, I doubt they'd even know who Popeye is!) They love creamed spinach and especially something we call "Spinach Squares".

Spinach Squares are something I discovered long before I had kids, and are without a doubt one of my favorite ways to get my greens. A co-worker brought them to a potluck, and they reminded me of something that I'd made before (but had lost the recipe). They were such a hit at the potluck, I think everyone demanded the recipe.

Over the years, I have changed up the recipe slightly to fit my own tastes (would it be on my blog if I hadn't changed it up a bit???) and I've made several variations over the years to fit the menu. But one thing never changes, all 3 kids will eat way more than their fair share. And it does my heart good to see the veggies disappear!

Spinach Squares (original recipe)

1 stick of butter or margarine, melted
3 10oz packages of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1 pound of jack cheese, shredded
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp of baking powder
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients well and put in a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes before cutting. Cut into 2 inch squares.

Now, like I said, I change it up a little to suit my tastes. I never make them without a little fresh ground black pepper - I'm not really sure why it wasn't included in the regular recipe. I always add some fresh ground nutmeg, something I always do with spinach or cheese dishes. And I have found I actually prefer the flavor if there is some cheddar in there. I've made them with the mexican blend shredded cheese (usually the cheddar/jack blend), all sharp cheddar (probably my favorite), 1/2 a pound of jack & 1/2 a pound of cheddar, all colby jack, and even mozzarella. You really can't screw them up.

If I'm taking them a potluck or serving as an appetizer or buffet item, I typically cut them in bite size squares. I also have a tendency to throw in a little crumbled bacon if I've taking them to a party/bunco, just to get that little extra yumminess!

I have cooked these in a throw away pan and taken them to friend's who have had a baby more times than I can count. And as some of you know, this is the perfect freeze-ahead item when you are having a baby! Those of you who have been pregnant with me, know that I make about 12 batches of these and freeze them so I've got ready made side-dishes for when I'm too busy with a newborn to care about cooking! And even if you aren't expecting, they are a great addition to your meal plan if you like to freeze ahead. (Note: When I freeze ahead, I typically split the recipe into two 8x8 throw away pans so we don't have quite so many to eat at once.)

The possibilities are endless! Hope your kids (and you) enjoy them as much as my family does.