Thursday, January 31, 2008

Got sun?

We don't have sun right now. It's just plain cold out, and mostly gray, so we made our own sunny food for dinner last night—Jerk Chicken , Red Beans and Rice, and Key Lime Cheesecake with mangoes. Oh, and a tropical "Salsa" to go with the meat. We had Troy over for dinner. He's solo this week since Karen's got sun—cruising the Caribbean with a girlfriend all week (soak up some rays for me)!

E helped with the marinade for the chicken until I got to the habanero pepper part. It's Mike Woodman's recipe:

Jerk Marinade

2 bunches scallions, chopped (or equivalent amnt of onion)
6 garlic cloves, crushed
4 t. allspice
2 T. dried thyme
4 t. salt
2 habanero chiles, stemmed and scored
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. molasses
2 T. cumin

Broil or barbeque the chicken after marinating for at least two hours. Serve with Zataran's Red Beans and Rice and a "salsa" (my recipe) of 1/2 c. crushed pineapple, 1 cubed avocado, 1/8 c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves, 1/4 c. chopped fresh mango, 1 T. key lime juice and 1/4 t. kosher sea salt.

For dessert we had a wonderful Key Lime Cheesecake with mangoes on top—recipe from Smitten Kitchen right here. I skipped the whipped cream, and used ReddiWhip (fewer calories and fat), and used Nellie & Joe's key lime juice which I've been using for key lime pie since, oh... 1995 or so. It's the best.

Veggie "Confetti"

The kids inhaled this dinner the other night—even had seconds, and Erik has not been a fan of pasta in the past (and M's been getting more "discerning" about food lately). I admit that I liked it more than regular Mac & Cheese too. I finely diced carrot, red bell pepper and spinach and added the carrot and pepper to the water as the Annies "Arthur" macaroni boiled. Then, about 30 seconds before draining, I tossed the spinach in too. Made the sauce according to the pkg directions... and called it "Arthur Macaroni with Veggie Confetti". An inventive way to get the kids to eat some veggies—that worked! Yeah!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wee French Cakes...

I made Canneles for the first time this morning (well, I mixed up the batter last night since it's best to let it rest). They are fabulous little French crepe-like cakes from Bordeaux, and fairly easy to make. I think they'd be better with the correct molds (deeper and smaller), but out of the three types of molds I tried; muffin tins, brioche molds and silicone—silicone wins for best outer crust and inner texture. Give 'em a try! The fabulous recipe is right here from Tartelette's blog.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Madeline Cooks

Harvesting rosemary and then making mud pies in her "sunshine oven"...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Spot of Tea...

Used up the rest of my veggies (aubergine, red pepper and courgettes), pork and pie dough to make pasties for tea today. Also, made some wee "Fairy Cakes," cherry fillo cups, Kagome juice gelatin hearts, mango-banana-coconut smoothie flowers, and of course the requisite cucumber tea sammies (with salmon cream cheese on wheat), oh, and tea pot-shaped cheddar slices (an excellent cookie cutter shape to add to your tea-party accoutrements). All the yummies were a HUGE hit with all the kids (and they ended up eating a good amount of veggies and fruit, and very little sugar... although who'd know it when it's all so pretty and fun?)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Mmm.... Madeline helped me make dark chocolate cupcakes with coconut buttercream frosting, topped with toasted flaked coconut for Ro's birthday. Yummerific!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Don't Just Hork It Down!

So, we watched the movie Ratatouille last week, and Madeline loved it. Despite my great aversion to rodents of most kinds, and rats in particular, I loved the movie too and was inspired to make their version of Ratatouille. Not the usual soggy-vegetable-traditional recipe, but the crisp-tender version of the movie. I happily found just what I was looking for in the way of recipes online at Smitten Kitchen. Click here for her version of Remi's famous dish. And, I'm going to try these suggestions next too!

Of course, Madeline has learned the phrase, "Don't just hork it down!" from Remy... she said it to Grammy just the other night as Grammy was eating some imaginary Spinach Soup.

Remy: I have got to teach you about food. Close your eyes.
[Emile obeys; Remy hands out piece of cheese]
Remy: Now take a bite of this...
[Emile snarfs the cheese]
Remy: No, no, no! Don't just hork it down!
Emile: Too late.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ever Eaten A Parsnip?

Until today, I'd never eaten a parsnip. Turns out, they're pretty tasty. They came in our box this week, and I found Joel's Uncle Ben's recipe for them (published in my copy of the Washington Farmers' Markets Cookbook and Guide). Ben's Mashed Parsnips

You take 4-8 parsnips, peel, slice into 1/4-inch rounds and toss into a pot. Cover the bottom of the pot with water, bring to boil then reduce heat, cover and cook for 8-10 mins. Remove from heat, drain water and mash. Add butter and salt to taste. Delicious!
Then, since the kids were napping, I made a "relish" to top our roasted salmon with: shreds of orange peel from 2 small organic oranges and 1/4 c. raisins—pour boiling water over to cover and let sit while you toast 1/4 c. pine nuts. Finely chop 1/4 c. of whatever greens you want (parsley, fresh spinach), then add the juice of 1/2 on orange, 1 tbs. orange vinegar (or lemon juice) 3 T. good olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Drain water from orange peel and raisins and add those goodies and the nuts to the relish. Stir and use to top salmon or whatever you want!
Dinner is served! Madeline's plate, so it's a little smaller portion. I put down a handful of fresh spinach, a scoop of parsnips, a piece of salmon, then a scoop of relish. Delish and easy!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Recipe for Fun...

We had 1/2 a bulk egg carton left from Christmas, so I made Madeline a sorting "game." She loves it. I hot-glued one item in each cup and put 5 or 10 of each of them in a jar for sorting. I found some fun things to use, including some of the pittance of random foreign coin we've collected over the years. Also, dried rose hips, coffee beans, hard Finnish licorice diamonds, pasta, navy beans, "teeny tiny marshmallows" (as M says), and a rainbow of buttons. M gets to eat some little marshmallows from the bag (she always wants 5 at a time), when we're done with the game. I think she likes that she gets to play with it when Erik is napping... and that he's too little to do it.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mangia, Little Man!

These are an old Italian Christmas cookie recipe, and I decided to try them since they remind me of a cookie that my Zia used to make when I was little. She lived right next door to Nonno and Nonnie, and she always had cookies for me when we dropped in to visit.

I found a great recipe on Allrecipes, but didn't have the time or ingredients to make the filling completely from scratch, so I used a jar of fig jam from Trader Joe's. I took the 9.5 oz jar of jam, added 3 Tbs. of cocoa powder, the zest from two organic oranges, and the juice from 1/2 an orange, about 1/3 c. of dried wild blueberries, and about 1/4 c. of organic agave nectar (but you could use honey instead). I made the dough by the recipe below, and for the glaze, I mixed powdered sugar with the juice of one of the oranges, then added a splash of cream (and then more pwd sugar), drizzled on and added sprinkles. Oh, also baked only 12 mins. - they do not need 15 as the recipe below says.

They are delicious! Erik agrees, and he helped with the whole process, although was trying to eat the raw dough so I had to break out some Pirouline cookies as a distraction. The Little E knows what he likes to mangia (eat) though—he knows the sign for cookie, says "KooKee" and says "Ooooooohhh OOOOoooohhhhh!" or does the chippy chuckle when cookies are available.

Cucidati (Italian Christmas Cookies)

1 pound dried figs
1 cup raisins
2 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 pound chopped walnuts
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup orange marmalade
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grind the figs, raisins, orange zest and walnuts in a food processor, blender or food grinder. If the mixture is too thick, a couple of tablespoons of water can be added. Gradually blend in the honey, cinnamon, chocolate chips and orange marmalade. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease two baking sheets.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and baking powder. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the eggs, milk and vanilla until the mixture can be gathered into a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut the dough into strips that are 4 inches wide. Spread filling onto one half of each strip lengthwise. Fold the dough over to cover and seal the edges by pressing on them with the tines of a fork. Slice the filled strips crosswise at an angle about every inch or so. This will make diamond shapes. Place the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet to cool on wire racks. Glaze with your favorite confectioners' glaze and top with sprinkles for added festivity.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Baby Loves Borscht!

I recently read an article in Wondertime magazine about a woman who took her baby on holiday to France. She compared the differences in how babies in France are fed: more formula than nursing, baby food in jars well past the age of two, and utensils are always used—no "finger foods". But, oh what amazing jarred baby food they have in France: lamb with mint and root veggies, organic ratatouille, winter squash soufflé with gruyère. Imagine... if only we had something similar here!

So, when I discovered Dr. Susanna's World Baby Foods at Top Foods, I had to get a selection for Erik to try. He loved the Sweetie Tahiti (coconuts, banana, pear, jasmine rice), and enjoyed the Baby Dal (cumin and coriander seasoned lentils, brown rice, carrots, apples), but he adores the Baby Borscht (beets, carrots, potatoes, spinach, and dill) SO much that it makes him do his Chipmunk Chuckle... he usually abandons the spoon and dives in to eat it by the fistful (really messy). He's still got three flavors to try. I'm looking forward to his reaction to Tokyo Tum Tum (bok choy, brown rice, edamame, apple and wasabi). They're sold at Whole Foods too...

Here's to developing healthy and sophisticated palates!

1/5/08 Update: E loves all six flavors. Does his chuckle for the Lullaby Thai, scarfed the Calabasa, and savored every last morsel of the Tokyo Tum Tum:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

La Bûche de Noël

I finally made my first La Bûche de Noël (for New Year's Eve) and the kids utterly enjoyed the process. Madeline was licking the beater and E came in the kitchen. He started saying, "Oooohhh... ooooohhhh" excitedly, and I told M that I thought he might want to share the beater. She said, "OK" and pulled his pacifier out of his mouth and held the whisk out for him to try. He tossed his milk on the floor and dove right in. He was literally buzzing with happiness.
Later, after chilling time for the "log" as Joel called it, and a short hike and time at the playground for us, I assembled and decorated the La Bûche de Noël while everyone else in the house napped. Yep, I'm crazy. While my family slept, I fashioned tiny mushrooms out of mini marshmallows. It was fun. It's not really that bad. I did several other things too instead of napping, but this was the most fun. Here's the recipe, although I made some changes (two candy canes instead of five and 1 Tbs. of peppermint syrup). This recipe makes a lot of extra filling, so you could cut back on that (maybe just 1 cup of whipping cream), have to go to sleep now since E is finally settled again and it's way late, hmm... or way early I guess. Happy 2008!!


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