Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring Tea

Spring is officially here when we can have a tea party outside! Yippee!! Veggie and Laughing Cow Cheese sammies, Muenster lettuce wraps w/blood orange wedges, fruit skewers, Angel food cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese "frosting" flowers, Orange Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal cookies and some store-bought mini lemon tart wedges and Madeleine's... Delish!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Special Delivery

The magic of these cookies is that they are so flexible. They can be Butterscotch Chip Oatmeal, or Cowboy Cookies or Oatmeal Raisin... the possibilities are endless.

I did Date Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Oatmeal for Lisa and Lubo—some love and cookies sent their way to celebrate Anna's arrival.

Magic Oatmeal Cookies

1 c. butter-flavored Crisco
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. of add-ins (
chopped nuts and/or dried fruit, chocolate or other chips, coconut, etc.)
Sprinkles of whatever spice goes with your add-ins

Cream shortening and sugar, add eggs and vanilla, then oats. Stir in all additional dry ingredients until combined, then stir in add-ins. Drop onto cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 mins. at 375-degrees F.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Thanks Jen!

Madeline's been loving the colored stringing pasta that Jen gave her last week. I let her string it on some laces that came with a set of giant lacing beads I bought for last summer (but had to put away because she wasn't quite ready for lacing yet). Now she jumped right in and can't get enough... she was even "fixing" my string for me.

Jen says you can use yarn for lacing too , with tape wrapped around the end or dip the ends in glue and dry overnight for easier lacing. Or you could use old shoe laces (or pick up some new ones at the store). Wow, you could even dye your laces while dying the pasta...

Colored Pasta (for stringing or artwork)

2 c. or 16 oz. (per color) pasta of different shapes and sizes
Food color (about 5 drops per color batch)
1/4 c. rubbing alcohol per color
Several glass bowls

Pour rubbing alcohol into each bowl. Add 5 or so drops of food coloring into each bowl, one bowl for each color. Drop the pasta into the bowl and stir gently for a few seconds. Let sit for a bit and stir again, then pour onto paper plates to dry for several hours. The colors will brighten as the pasta dries.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nature's Rainbow

Mmm... looking forward to all the great things I can create with this gorgeous palate! Blood oranges, criminis, fresh beets, Italian kale and more — oh, the possibilities!

Friday, February 15, 2008

What Type of Fruit Are You?

You Are an Orange

You have a zest for life, especially for anything colorful, wild, or dramatic. You have a unique take on the world, and you're not afraid to be a little funky.

You are a bit reserved toward people who don't know you well.

You have a thick skin, which can protect you from anything that goes wrong in your life.

Once someone does get to know you, they totally get and appreciate you. Your friends see you as a bright person with a refreshing take on life.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hot Dates...

Another brilliant naming scheme from the Brits, Sticky Toffee Pudding is really Steamed Date Cake (pudding or pud being what they call dessert). Anyway, it's a nice little moist cake drizzled with toffee sauce and (preferably) Bird's brand custard (you can make in your microwave). After realizing that the recipe I was going to try this weekend used three sticks of butter and 2 cups of heavy cream, I tracked down a new one through Cooking Light that only used 2/3 a stick and 3/4 c of cream. It got rave reviews from everyone:

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 c. chopped pitted organic dates (I buy them whole in the produce section)
1 t. baking soda
2 T. butter, at room temperature
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter and flour six 8-ounce ramekins (or use muffin tin for smaller servings - we divided ours anyway). In a small bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over dates and baking soda and stir.

In Kitchenaid set on medium-high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and eggs until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Slowly blend in flour, baking powder, salt, and date mixture just until combined. Pour mixture evenly into ramekins and set on a baking sheet or into muffin tins.

Bake until tops spring back when lightly pressed in the center, about 20 minutes. Serve warm with toffee sauce and Bird's custard (from your local British foods store, or QFC sometimes carries it).

Super Quick & Easy Toffee Sauce

In a 2-quart pan over medium-high heat, bring 3/4 cup whipping cream, 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Little Heartbreaker

When I got the mortar and pestle out to grind up dried strawberries, Erik reached for it, started signing "Please, please" and saying "ooh ooh ooh!" I handed it to him and he immediately started using it correctly...

For "sprinkles" to top iced sugar cookies, grind up some dried strawberries (or raspberries, etc.) with a little bit of granulated sugar (helps it sprinkle better). These cookies were delicious, and better than sugar sprinkles! I had to hide them from the kids.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

In honor of Chinese New Year, here's a quick and tasty recipe for sesame noodles, and Chicken Adobo (Filipino). The kids loved 'em!

Quick Sesame Noodles

12 oz. Chinese egg noodles
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
3 T. sesame oil
2 t. chili sauce
6 green onions, or handful of cilantro, diced
2 t. sesame seeds, toasted
lime wedges for serving

Cook noodles, about 5 mins, drain, and transfer to a serving bowl.

Over medium heat, in saucepan, cook garlic, sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Pour sauce over noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

Chicken Adobo

(adapted from March 2007 Sunset Magazine Easy Chicken Adobo recipe)

1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, place the chicken in the pan, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and brown the other side, another 5 minutes.

Remove the browned chicken from the saute pan and place in a large bowl. Add the garlic and saute until lightly brown and fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the soy and vinegar, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the chicken to the pan, along with any accumulated juices from the bowl, and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, uncover the pan and increase the heat to medium, cooking for 15 minutes more or until sauce thickens. Drizzle chicken and rice with sauce.

Monday, February 4, 2008

We Heart Kagome!

We love Kagome juice. LOVE it. One 8-oz. serving is a full adult daily serving of veggies AND fruits. I found it at Whole Foods when Madeline was about one and wanted juice, but I didn't want to give her "liquid sugar". Kagome is spendy at Whole Foods or QFC, but Bartell's often sells it for $2/large bottle and sometimes even less with a coupon. Fred Meyer often has it on sale too. Since I cut it with half water for the kids too, it goes even further. And, I think the varieties of flavors helps develop their diverse (and un-picky) palates!

Mango, red berry, pomegranate, peach, orange blossom, and purple roots n' fruits are favorites. We also make popsicles and "Jelly" (AKA Knox Juice Gelatin Blocks or shapes) with Kagome.

A couple of the flavors that are not the kids' favorites for drinking (but work in recipes) : Red Autumn Fruits (too heavy on red pepper for the kids, but good in soup), Carrot Ginger (strong on the ginger, good if you like that, and good used in Asian recipes or Gingersnaps). We've not tried the tomato-based flavors. Here's a link to Kagome's recipes:

Kagome Juice Knox "Jelly" Blocks

2 envelopes Knox Unflavored Gelatin
1/2 c. cold Kagome juice

1 1/2 c. Kagome juice heated to boiling

1 T. honey or agave necter (optional)

Sprinkle gelatin over cold juice in large bowl; let stand 1 minute. Add hot juice (bring to boil in microwave) and stir until gelatin completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in sweetener if adding. Pout into 8 x 8 pan and let cool on counter for about 10 minutes. Stir again before popping into fridge. Fridge 'til firm — about 3 hours.

Ruby Pomegranate Harmony Kagome juice is really pretty for red hearts - just cut shapes out of the pan when firm. You can double this recipe and put it in a 9 x 13 pan too.


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