Monday, June 18, 2012

A Couple of Extreme Soft Food Recipes for People Who Can Barely Open Their Mouths and Cannot Chew Much

Recently, both of my teenage daughters (ages 18 and 16) had all of their wisdom teeth removed. It was definitely time for the older daughter. I thought we'd be waiting a few years for the younger one -- but Mother Nature surprised us -- her teeth were almost as developed as her older sister's. And in both girls, the teeth were coming in crooked. To minimize the disruption to everyone's lives, we decided to "do it all at once."

Of course, we stocked up on ice cream, puddings, apple sauce, yogurt, and mac&cheese. I made meatballs and mashed potatoes. But as the days went on, my kids were craving something more substantial and less carby. The problem was: they could barely open their mouths to chew.  And believe it or not, they missed eating vegetables! After a few days, they were really tired of sweets, and eggs didn't appeal to them.

As the primary cook in my house for almost 30 years, I drew on my experience to concoct a few recipes for people who could barely open their mouths and could not chew much of anything. Both recipes involve a food processor or blender. The secret word of the day is: PUREE!!!

Feel free to play around with these recipes to your taste or your needs. 

Super Mushy Enchilada Pie Fortified with Spinach
  • 1 lb ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 package of corn tortillas
  • 2  15 ounce cans of mild Enchilada sauce (or 1 large can) - or any type of mild salsa (if salsa is chunky, puree it first)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2  to 3 cups fresh spinach (3/4 bag of baby leaves) or other leafy green of your choice
  • 1 can refried beans, pinto beans, or black beans (optional)
  • 1 large bag of shredded Mexican-style cheese blend, or equal parts of shredded sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Ground Coriander, Ground Cumin, Oregano, or Mexican Seasoning (optional)
  • Salt (to taste)
  •  1 very large frying pan
  • 1 deep casserole dish (round shape if possible)
  • Cooking spray
  • Sour cream and guacamole on the side
Note: This recipe is purposely mild. If you desire, you can add some chili powder, Chipolte sauce, or medium Enchilada sauce to make it hotter. (Oral surgery patients should probably stick to mild food).

1. Chop the onion and garlic very finely in the food processor. Brown in olive oil, then set aside.

2. Chop the spinach leaves very finely in the food processor. Set aside.

3. If using beans, puree them very finely  in the food processor and set aside.

4. Brown the meat and drain off the fat.

5.  In the frying pan, mix the browned meat, onion/garlic mixture, and finely chopped spinach (or other leafy green). Add the beans (if using). Add half of the Enchilada sauce (about 15 ounces). Add the Coriander and Cumin, Salt, or any other Mexican spices you might want to use (such as Mexican Oregano). Cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Carefully pour the hot meat/spinach mixture into a blender or food processor. Chop it into a fairly fine puree.

7. Spray cooking spray onto the bottom and sides of the casserole dish. Wet one corn tortilla with water (or dip it in Enchilada sauce). Place it at the bottom of the dish. (If it doesn't fit, tear the tortilla in half and overlap it a little bit). Layer in about 3/4 cup of the meat/veggie/bean mixture. Top with a generous portion of shredded cheese.

8. Repeat the layers until you are almost to the top of the casserole dish: wet corn tortilla, meat mixture, cheese.

9. Pour some extra Enchilada sauce on the top layer and sprinkle a generous portion of shredded cheese.

10. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Low Fat Super Soft Fish Rolls with Tons of Veggies
  • 1 lb very thin white fish fillets
  • 1 large onion
  • 2  or 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 to 6 stalks of celery
  • 1 large yellow or green pepper
  • 1 bag of shredded carrots
  • 2 heads Baby Bok Choy or other cabbage
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • Herb blend: 1T each: Basil, Oregano, Marjoram; 2 tsp Garlic Powder, 1/2 tsp Salt, White Pepper, and (optional) 1 to 2 T Penzey's "Sunny Paris" seasoning. If you don't have "Sunny Paris," then add some dried shallots if possible.
  • 2 or 3 Bay Leaves (optional)
  • 2 Cups Bread Crumbs
  • 1 large rectangular glass or ceramic baking dish
  • Cooking spray 
  • 1 large frying pan

1. Chop the onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and cabbage into chunky pieces. Then put them into a food processor and chop them very finely. Add the shredded carrots and process until everything is chopped super fine.

2. Heat olive oil in frying pan. Add vegetable mixture and Bay Leaves and cook over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Mix the bread crumbs with the herbs.

4.  Spray the baking dish with cooking spray. Spread all but 1 cup of the vegetable mixture into the  baking dish, making an even layer.

5. Press a fish fillet into the breadcrumb/herb mixture (coating the fish with bread crumbs on both sides). Place about a tablespoon of the reserved cooked veggie puree onto the filet, then roll it up. Place the fish roll on top of the veggie mixture in the baking dish. Repeat with all of the fish filets.

6. Sprinkle any of the remaining breadcrumb/herb mixture over the fish rolls.

7. Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

8. Serve with mashed potatoes, soft pasta with butter and cheese, or soft risotto rice.