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March, 2013

Simple Sides: Pixie Tangerines
By Dennis Linden

"a favorite snack fruit that can be enjoyed in meals as well as in-between them."

LA King Mascot with KidsThis feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with two uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe options. The dishes will be centered around seasonal fresh produce item and easy enough to prepare so that a child of any age can help in contributing to the family meal. While many of these recipes may seem very basic, this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will lay the culinary foundation necessary to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their confidence in the kitchen grows. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.

The competing schedules of today’s busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can even be great fun. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever
.

Pixie SaladWhile both of these recipes could be served any time of the year using a different variety of tangerine or mandarin, there really is no taste substitute that comes close to the tiny Pixie in its unique, big flavor. As a snack fruit, the size is just right for small hands with a balanced sugar content that will satisfy a young sweet tooth without calories or cavities! Here are two simple recipes that will show your kids that one of their favorite snack fruits can also be enjoyed in meals as well as in-between them!




Recipe I lesson plan - Yakisoba Pixie Salad

Here’s a great recipe for a younger sous chef to try as it really needs no cooking other than Melissa’s Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodles (original flavor), which could be easily accomplished using a microwave. This recipe combines two kid favorites, peanut butter and noodles, so it’s bound to capture any child’s attention.

Melissa’s Yakisoba Stir Fry NoodlesPeeling and separating the small Pixie segments is the perfect assignment for your youngest helper – small hands on small Pixies! The safest way to chop peanuts, and ginger for that matter, is taking each for a quick spin in the food processer. The first time I tried this dish, I used chilled noodles; however, the cold noodles reacted with the peanut butter and oil, creating a slightly pasty texture and taste. Let the noodles come to room temperature before starting this recipe. The outstanding flavors of this simple dish really shine if served at room temperature. The next day I stir-fried the leftovers, which was equally as yummy!





Recipe II lesson plan – Pixie Sweet Potatoes

Sweet PotatoesThis is a great introductory recipe for the child just beginning to show an interest in helping in the kitchen. Only four ingredients and some very basic slicing is required. The recipe even provides a few fun moments of anticipation as the oven clock ticks down to finished. While the baking time is a bit longer than most recipes that appear in this feature, the reward is a scrumptiously delicious and healthy casserole that would pair well with a roasted chicken; in fact both could share the same oven!

While a mandoline was used to slice the sweet potato into thin, uniform, picture-perfect slices for this article’s photograph, that kitchen tool is way too sharp for kids. A bandaged knuckle creates doubt as to whether this writer is old enough to use this implement! An older child, practiced in knife skills, could do this slicing manually under supervision. In that case, don’t worry about the thickness of the slices of either the sweet potatoes or the lemon. The point is for the family to have fun cooking together; more precise culinary techniques come with practice.

Ingredient Substitution: Versions of this dish can be found all over the Internet, most of them using brown sugar, honey or molasses. Why America finds it necessary to sprinkle sugar on everything, including perfectly healthy fresh fruits and vegetables, is a puzzle to me. I replaced these unnecessary calories with Melissa’s Organic Blue Agave Syrup. Please do your family a big favor by clearing your cupboards of all white, brown, powdered, raw, even organic sugars! There are healthier ways to sweeten the pot, like Melissa’s Agave that does not contribute to this country’s shameful child obesity statistics. It’s really the best cooking lesson you can teach your own aspiring young chefs.

Recipe I
Yakisoba Pixie Salad
Serves 4

Yakisoba Pixie Salad Ingredients
:
For the salad:
1 - 8 ounce package Melissa’s Yakisoba Noodles, cooked, rinsed, room temperature
4 Ojai Pixie Tangerines, peeled and segmented
2 stalks of Green Onions, thinly sliced
1½ cup Sno Peas, cut in half
¼ cup Cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons Raw Peanuts, chopped

For the dressing:
4 ounces Lemon Juice
⅓ cup of Peanut Butter, crunchy or smooth, to taste
2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, chopped

What the kids can do:
Measure out all ingredients before starting.
Salad – mix together all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Dressing - Place the peanut butter in a medium sized mixing bowl, then whisk in the lemon juice, sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger until completely blended.
Slowly drizzle the dressing into the salad bowl and toss to coat thoroughly.

What the supervising adult should do:
Provide your kitchen help with noodles that have been cooked and cooled to room temperature. Supervise the knife work required to prepare the peanuts, sno peas, green onion and ginger. Divide and serve!

Recipe II
Pixie Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4


Pixie Sweet Potatoes Ingredients
2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (about 3 cups)
2 large Lemons, sliced into medium thin rounds, then cut in half
2 ounces Melissa’s Organic Blue Agave Syrup
2 Tablespoons Pixie Tangerine rind, diced fine
4 ounces fresh Pixie Tangerine juice
1 ounce Margarine or Butter, melted

What the kids can do:
Prepare and measure out each ingredient. In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes and lemon slices, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Transfer bowl contents into a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, cover with foil. What the supervising adult should do: Preheat oven to 400°F and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, stir well and bake for another 25 minutes. Serve individually or family style.