Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bananas and Nuggets and Chocolate

I stumbled upon a list of "3-Ingredient Recipes" awhile ago and pinned this banana cookie recipe. It was surprisingly good, although I am certain the children would find them vile, and Joel was uninterested too. 

3-Ingredient Banana Nut Cookies

2 large, very ripe bananas
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped pecans (the original recipe called for walnuts, but I didn't have any)

Mix, drop by rounded Tablespoons onto cookie sheet and bake at 350-degrees F for about 14 minutes. I makes exactly 12 cookies. 

These would be perfect as "breakfast" cookies. If only the kids would eat them. But, they abhor oatmeal, and Madeline doesn't like nuts anymore. Unless they are blended into the form of peanut butter. 

So, for dinner, over fries and homemade chicken nuggets.Not really a recipe, since I eyeballed a recipe on my phone, and then blatantly did my own thing. There were herbs in the crumb mix which would've make Erik fuss. And, since I've been intentionally making food that makes him practice dealing with things he doesn't like, I took in easy on him tonight. I just took chicken tenderloins from Costco, cut into bite-sized pieces, dipped in melted butter then shook them in a bag with panko crumbs seasoned with sea salt and smoked paprika. Baked at 400-degrees F for 20 minutes (I turned them after 10). They were a huge hit. Even with Madeline, who now claims to hate chicken (but will eat salad all day long). 

And, this double-chocolate banana bread from the Smitten Kitchen blog is divine. Really, really chocolaty and delicious. Decidedly more enticing to everyone else in the house than my "healthy cookies-like things" (Whatever.) 

But, really, make Deb's chocolate bread. You can't even taste the banana. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April Fools Tea

The kids have this Autumn Spice tea that is quite orange, and they'd had a tea party with it the night before 4/1, so I got some orange Jello at the grocery for a little polymer-prank (they've been studying polymers and making goo/slime too). 

Easy "recipe" for making finger-Jello with only one small box. 

One 3-oz. box Jello (flavor to match your tea or juice)
2/3 cup boiling water

Mix well and pour into tea cups and small tea pot (or juice glasses and small pitcher). Refrigerate overnight, and serve to unsuspecting children in the morning. Trust me, they'll think it's hilarious.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wonders never cease...

Erik. Eating. Pasta.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Pancake Day!!!

Tomorrow is Pancake Day, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, so...  eat pancakes for every single meal. Go ahead! You only live once.

This recipe is delicious and simple for any meal... vary toppings and enjoy!

Saturday Morning Puff Pancake
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
dash of salt
2 Tbsp. butter

Heat the oven to 450F and put a large cast-iron skillet in to heat. In a bowl, beat the eggs, flour, milk, and salt together. It's important to mix all the ingredients together at once, otherwise your pancake won't puff. The more air you beat into the batter, the higher it will rise in the oven.

When the oven is hot, toss the butter into the hot skillet and let it melt. Pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed and golden. Cut it in half and serve immediately with warm maple syrup, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

I've been searching for a great pancake recipe for a long time. In high school, in South Africa, I found a wonderful recipe in a library book about Au Pairing. But, of course I lost that recipe long ago, and the source is a bit far away. And mixes really don't do it for me. I mean, I've used mixes and they are okay, but... I think I must've been spoiled in my formative years with awesome pancakes.

About six years ago, Miki made her mom's recipe at the office when different teams were planning breakfast for everyone. They were divine, and she gave me the recipe. But, when I made them, they weren't the same. However, last Fall when she made them at my house, again, they were heaven. So, I thought maybe it's just me and pancakes – bad luck. Or, maybe it's the fact that food is nearly always better when someone cooks for you!  I do feel the need to tackle Miki's mom's recipe again though... clearly, there's something I'm missing there.

But thankfully, I finally found a new recipe for pancakes that is easy, makes light and moist pancakes, and they are utterly delicious. The trifecta of perfection. This is my new recipe. Mmm...  And, a good thing too, since Madeline adores pancakes. Seriously, she's always begging me to make them, and would eat them for every meal if she could.

The Best Pancakes Ever
(AKA Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes, not adapted at all from The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond)
Makes a dozen 4-inch pancakes

1 c. sour cream (I used light, they were fab)
7 Tbs. flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Butter and real maple syrup

Heat a cast iron pan over medium low while you make the batter. Do not be impatient (like me) and turn the heat up, although these cakes are good even if they do get a little charred. Anyway, in a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream, flour, sugar, soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix. 

In a separate bowl, mix eggs and vanilla, and then pour this into the sour cream mixture. Again, mix until just combined.

Melt about 1 Tbs. of butter in the pan, and then cook the pancakes. Be patient. They are worth the wait. Delicious!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Girl Scout Cookie Recipes: A Trio of Tasty Treats

Girl Scout Cookie Recipes:  A Trio of Tasty Treats

I've been wanting to participate in the Girl Scout's of Western Washington cookie recipe contest for the last couple years, and this year the timing finally worked out for me! Instead of using the top three sellers:  Thin Mints, Samoas, and Tagalongs, I decided to see if I could come up with something delicious to do with the other three of our Super Six flavors:  Savannah Smiles, Trefoils and Do-si-dos.

After tossing around a few ideas, I decided to go with fairly simple classic recipe ideas that my Brownie troop could make, using the cookie crumbs from each flavor as a major ingredient in each recipe. I also wanted recipes that would be amazing as a trio of Christmas treats this year (I'll just have to freeze a bunch of boxes for December!) The top three recipes I came up with are Chocolate Do-si-dos Truffles, Savannah Smiles Lemon Bars, and Trefoils Campfire Bars.

And the verdict on favorites after taste-testing? Savannah Smiles Lemon Bars are the winner with kids and adult testers! The kid-favorite (likely for the sweetness) are the Trefoil Campfire Bars, and the runner-up for adults was the Do-Si-Do Truffles.

Savannah Smiles Lemon Bars

My first pan of these were pucker-up lemony and almost too lemony for me, which is really saying something! I toned it down a little by reducing the lemon extract - I used one teaspoon in the original... (although you could eliminate it, or replace completely with vanilla). Either way, Savannah Smiles make an amazing crust. I am going to replace my usual graham cracker crust with this version for Key Lime Pie too!

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F, and grease an 8x8-inch baking pan

1 box of Savannah Smiles cookies, pulsed in food processor to fine crumbs
1 Tbs. sugar
4 Tbs. melted butter

Mix crumbs, sugar and melted butter and press into bottom of pan. Bake at 375-degrees for about 6 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Mix filling while crust bakes, and reduce oven temperature to 350-degrees F when you remove crust.

Lemon Filling
2 large organic lemons (zest and juice of both, you should have between 1/2 and 2/3 cup of juice)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. lemon extract
2 Tbs. heavy cream
2 Tbs. corn starch

Powdered sugar to serve

First, wash lemons in warm water (they yield more juice), then zest both lemons. Slice lemons in half and juice both, removing any seeds. Pour juice into bowl and whisk in eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and extracts until blended. Next, in a separate mixing cup, combine the cream and corn starch until smooth, then add to the rest of the filling mixture. Pour filling into warm crust and bake in a 350-degree F oven for about 25 minutes or until filling is mostly firm, only slightly jiggly when pan in shaken. Remove from oven, cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice and enjoy!

Trefoils Campfire Bars
I made a pan of S'mores bars years ago for a barbecue that were a big hit, so I wanted to incorporate Trefoils cookies into the dough for these bars instead of graham crackers. Plus, I added whole wheat pastry flour and dark brown sugar for great flavor.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F and grease an 8x8-inch baking pan

1 sleeve Trefoils cookies, pulsed in food processor to fine crumbs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 7-oz. jar of Jet-Puffed marshmallow creme (I used about 1/2 of a 13 oz. jar...)

Your favorite s'mores chocolate - I used three 1.45 oz of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate, but you could use any variety. I go with dark to balance the sweetness.  

Pour cookie crumbs into mixer bowl, and add all other dough ingredients. Blend until combine into a soft dough. Divide dough in half, pressing one half into the bottom of a greased 8x8-inch baking pan. Next, gently spread 7 oz. of marshmallow cream onto dough. Then cover the marshmallow cream layer with chocolate. Last, flatten pieces of the remaining dough to cover the chocolate layer.

Bake at 350-degrees for about 30 minutes, or until golden (chocolate and/or marshmallow may be bubbling up/out of top - that's fine!) Cool slightly, slice and enjoy warm with your favorite camp songs or stories! Linger over the deliciousness!

Chocolate Do-si-dos Truffles
makes about 30 

These look like those delicious peanut butter balls that your grandma makes, but are quick and really delicious! Easy as 1, 2, 3...

1 box Do-si-dos sandwich cookies, pulsed in a food processor to fine crumbs
2 Tbs. heavy cream
3 Tbs. natural style creamy peanut butter
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1/8 tsp. salt
1 11.5-oz. bag of high-quality milk chocolate chips, melted

Pulse the cookies in a food processor to a fine crumb. I did one sleeve at a time since I have a smaller bowl on my machine. Pour crumbs into mixer and add cream, softened cream cheese, peanut butter and salt. Blend until a smooth ball forms.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each until smooth. Time varies by microwave. Scoop walnut-sized balls of peanut butter mixture and roll into ball, then dip into melted chocolate. Place onto waxed paper-lined plate and chill until chocolate is firm. Enjoy!

You can also try these as peanut butter cups in mini-muffin pans, or roll the balls in finely ground peanuts. My taste testers' favorite version were the traditional truffle-like chocolate-covered version.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Preserved Lemons & Cosmo Liqueur...

... for Christmas gifts. I made a lamb tangine with some preserved lemon for New Year's Eve dinner, and a Moroccan stew the next week. Heavenly. Amazing. These may be my new holiday gifts. Who needs baked-goods anyway when you can have excellent cooking & cocktail ingredients? 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

King's Cake

The chocolate peanut butter cake from Sky High (I have the book now) and featured on the Smitten Kitchen blog ( gluten free cake this time though, and quite tasty. It made a festive and fun King's Cake for Epiphany last night and I put two beans in this year, which Joel & I got! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Beautiful Salad

This kale salad is slightly adapted from Dr. Weil's recipe, and is amazing. I first made it last Thanksgiving, and have made it countless times since. It is similar to Caesar, but features gorgeous Lancinato Kale (or Italian Kale), is easy to make ahead and holds up well as a leftover salad too. I've also had numerous friends ask me why this recipe isn't on my cooking blog yet, so... Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve dinner:  Finnish ham, rye crisp with herring roe, kale salad,
purple potato with pickled herring, sourdough rye bread with Finnish cheese and Two Vines Chardonnay

Kale Salad

5-6 cups chopped kale, ribs removed (or a triple-washed package of baby kale)
Juice from 1 large lemon, or two small lemons
4-5 Tbs. olive oil (truffled olive oil from Trader Joe's is amazing in this)
4 cloves pressed, fresh, garlic
Kosher or sea salt (to taste)
lemon pepper (or Penzey's Sunny Spain) to taste
3/4 cup shaved or grated Parmesan, Asiago, or other hard, flavorful cheese
1/2 cup panko crumbs (optional)

Whisk the fresh-squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, pressed garlic and seasonings in a large salad bowl, then add all but 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and whisk again. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, then mix in the panko crumbs (if using) just before serving, and top with remaining Parmesan. Enjoy!! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Callaloo! Kallaloo!

I first learned about Callaloo a few years ago from the book "Kallaloo" by David and Phillis Gershator. It's a Caribbean twist on the stone soup story and also has two recipes for callaloo in the back of the book, one using callaloo (a green popular in Trinidad) and one using spinach. I never got around to making either of the recipes, but we checked the book out a few times since it's a fun story.

Fast-forward to this June when I spied Callaloo ("Trinidad's most beloved soups - kale and coconut based with hints of nutmeg and topped with pulled chicken and lemon") on the menu at The Beach Cafe at our PTA Board dinner. I had to try a cup, which was delicious and spicy, and then I was determined to try my hand at the recipe! I didn't check the Kallallo book out again, although I should now that the kids have tried (and love) it... I just browsed online and found a wide variety of riffs on this popular soup. Since I really liked the version I tried at the Beach Cafe, I decided to wing it, and came up with this "recipe" all my own. It would be really delicious with large hunks of firm white fish in it too - or in place of the chicken.

Katrina's Kallaloo Soup

About 2 Tbs. olive oil (heat over medium until shimmering), then add

2 large shallots, chopped
6 cloves crushed garlic, and stir/cook until translucent and fragrant, then add
1 can anchovies in olive oil, drained
4 cups washed, mixed baby kale
2 bunches washed, chopped Lancinato (Tuscan) kale, ribs removed
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (or more to taste) 
1-2 tsp. habanero hot-sauce (to taste), and stir/cook until kale is softened

Next, add 

1 (32 oz?) carton mushroom broth or chicken (I only had mushroom) 
1 carton butternut squash soup, and simmer for 20-30 minutes

Then, use an immersion blender to completely puree the kale, onions, etc. Taste soup and adjust seasonings if needed. 

Finally, add 

1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, shredded
1 can light coconut milk
4-6 oz. nonfat plain Greek yogurt
zest from one large lemon

And, simmer until you're ready to serve. If you want to thicken up the soup, make a roux from a couple Tbs. of melted butter and flour. Enjoy!! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And, that's a wrap...

... final lunch of the school year! 

Avocado & cream cheese sammies on Dave's Killer Bread, fresh local strawberries, carrots with sesame-miso dressing, and Jungle Animal cookies... she loved it all.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Creative Lunches... For The Win!!

Back when M was in preschool, I packed her glorious bento-box lunches three days a week, filled with fun, funky, amazing things. Fast-forward a few years (filled with preschool lunches for brother too), and a full year of 1st- and 2nd-grade lunches (minus the three times she bought lunch), and I'm pretty tired of making lunch every single day. 

And, while sometimes I wish that the girl would just buy lunch, I've visited her cafeteria during lunch a few times this year and tried to eat a healthy, semi-appealing lunch from the lunch line and it's very challenging. So, I understand why she doesn't want to buy lunch. I wouldn't want to eat it either.

While I was away for a week in Hawaii earlier this year, M packed her own lunch every evening, for the next day, and she did gain a real appreciation for the lunches I send with her daily. She's also developed a taste for the simple - PB&J or bagel with cream cheese, fruit, a small treat, and veggies with ranch. Pretty easy. 

But, as we neared the final two weeks of school, and everything seemed to pile up (as it always does at the end), and I was so tired of lunch-packing, and we all just wanted summer, I decided to buck the system because this is the finish line! So many parents just seemed to be celebrating "giving up" on caring about school, and stopped packing lunches, volunteering, or making sure kiddos get homework done. Even one of the kids' teachers shared that she was "done" with the year, and it didn't matter anymore... everyone was doing it (or so it seemed, since so many were paying lip-service to it), and I just had to step away from the crowd and get away from the negativity. 

You don't peter out when you're about to cross the finish! That's a terrible lesson for kids. We're all excited for summer fun, but endurance is the name of the game when it comes to kiddos, life, and a healthy attitude. And, so I got really creative with lunches for the final two weeks of school to pump a little fun into the final miles... here are a few of M's favorites, and you know what? It totally worked - flipped all our attitudes around and we've had a fantastic final two weeks full of in-class fun, field-trip and field-day and party chaperoning, lots of reading and art-lesson teaching, Girl Scout fun, and Thank-You gift coordinating! Attitude makes a world of difference. 

Rainbow Lunch with M's favorites, including fresh pineapple and fresh English Peas. What? No protein you say? She bought white milk, and took cheese & crackers for her snack. 

Flat Stanley party lunch today... flat Stanley PB&J on Dave's Killer Bread, flat-sliced apple with cinnamon cream cheese, flat-sliced strawberries, Stanley cheddar slices, Big Cheezits, and Flat scottie-dog shortbread cookies. Fun!

M's faves lunch... salami, carrots & homemade ranch, roasted Yukon Golds and ketchup, Brussels cookies and fresh Bing Cherries.

And, another rainbow lunch with carrots, orange supremes, and canned pineapple.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Best Salad Ever...

Fantastic salad! Recipe came in our weekly produce box, back before the fresh produce market opened again. 

Shredded Carrot and Pistachio Salad (adapted)
Full Circle Farms 

1 (to 1.5) c. shredded carrots, pressed dry
1/2 c. yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/3 c. pistachios, toasted and chopped
1/2 t. salt
2 T. Greek yogurt
1.5 T. olive oil
1 T. black or yellow mustard seeds
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro

Mix everything except mustard seeds; add oil to pan and heat over medium until they pop. Add oil and seeds to carrot mixture, stir and serve immediately. 


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