Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Egg Free Soy Free Sourdough English Muffins

Why haven't I ever made English muffins before?? And also important, why aren't you making them right now? Sometimes bad things in life (my son's egg and soy allergy) bring about fantastic things, like these muffins. I don't know that it will make up for a lifetime without Chinese food.....but it's a start. Not only do they avoid all of our collective allergens, but they are wicked tasty, and cook on a griddle. So unlike biscuits, there is no need to heat the whole house.

I modified the recipe from the "Sourdough English Muffin" recipe in this book.....I love this book. Not only are there tons of recipes for bread machines, there are tips on what to do with stale, leftover bread.

Unfortunately, since I got the recipe from a book....and....you know.... copyright laws and stuff, I didn't feel like it would be a good idea to post it on the interwebs. However, I will tell you the modifications I made, and you can either buy the book.....or modify another recipe that you already have.

All I did was use 1/4 cup canned pumpkin and 1tbs oil to replace the egg. Also I replaced half of the flour with whole wheat flour. These smelled great, tasted great, and went fast! They will be on our breakfast table this holiday season.

Someone (other than my mom) Thinks I'm Special

I got a blogger award. Isn't it cute? Thank you Grace!

In order to post this on my blog I have to answer ten questions and then have six of you do the same. Then you have to answer the questions...tag...etc...etc....

Here goes nothing....

1.If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now?

I started out anonymous, and it's not like I go around shouting from the rooftops that I have a blog. I'm happy where I'm at.

2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side.

One?? Inner??

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?

Me! And I'm happy with that.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?

Ginger lemonade

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?

I like to drink tea and listen to the sound of silence.....it rarely happens.

6. Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?

I want to raise my children to be healthy, joyful, loving adults, who are content. I think contentment is better than being famous, or rich, becoming a lawyer, or a mother of 20 children....go get some....errr...contentment that is...

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the class shy person, or always ditching school?

Oh my goodness...what year? I went to a school for the gifted in elementary school (ya, I don't know what happened there) so we were all overachievers. I don't think I was ever shy, I may have been a little of a clown.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what do you see?

Holding my children. There have been several moments throughout my kids lives where I have held them in my arms and thought, "This is it, if I die and look back on my life, I doubt I will have any moments more wonderful than this on earth." It's a feeling of overwhelming thankfulness, joy, and contentment.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?

Oh heck no...I have trouble sharing my true self with people I have known for years. I actually have an easier time on my blog because I can read over my words. I'm not the spill emotional vomit all willy nilly sort of person. You will see one or two personal blogs, but there is a reason I have a food blog. I do try to be truthful. I share what I liked, didn't like, what worked, didn't etc...however I think truthful, and true self are two different things.

10. If you had the choice to sit and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
Let me tell you a secret....I absolutely hate talking on the phone. I only do it because distance necessitates. If I talk to you on the phone it is because I love you more than I hate talking on the phone. . It goes back to the willy nilly emotional vomit thing, coupled with the fact that I am almost always doing something. I would much rather see someone in person. I love to read though. When I'm on bed rest I usually go through quite a few books.

Ooooh, almost forgot to tag people. I was so in awe of the awesomeness of some of my answers.

I'm going to choose a few people who I haven't seen blog in a while....because I miss reading your blogs. If you aren't blogging because you don't wish to, feel free to write me an email and kindly tell me to get lost. I struggled to pick out people who a.) actually read my blog, and b.) will actually respond. There are quite a few people out there with blogs I adore. I would give them all an award if I could....in fact...hmmm...ok, keep me accountable to this....By the end of September I will update my blog to show more blogs in the "stuff I like" section. Keep an eye out for that. For now, here are the winners.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday: Picky Eaters

Picky Eaters Part One
(our story, SPD and eating)

That's right, part one....I have a lot to say on the subject. The little lawyer birdie on my shoulder* has reminded me to inform you that I am not a doctor, or an occupational therapist, or an allergist. Many things can cause picky eating besides just being strong willed and holding out for chocolate. And I am neither qualified to diagnose, or treat your child....I'm not qualified for much of anything except to give you a rockin' Swedish massage in the great gem state, oooh and also I have Jr.whale trainers pin...but I think that's only valid at Sea world.

The point being, an unbalanced diet can cause all sorts of nasty things, vitamin deficiencies, weight loss, failure to thrive etc. So if after reading this you feel there may be a sensory issue causing your child's picky eating, take them to the doctor. Speech and occupational therapy have helped us.....more on that further down the line...

Hi they call me Mama, and my daughter is a picky eater....

"Hi Mama!"

My daughter was born early weighing only 3lbs 8oz. She was what some would refer to as colicky. She screamed in the early evening....and again in the early morning...when she was held too tight...too loosely....or if she didn't like the fabric of the blanket she was being swaddled in. She was referred to as "sensitive". And that she surely seemed to be. She hated the fabric on our couch and would protest loudly if either myself or my husband had the audacity to place her down there.

Words of advice from friends and family were "all babies cry"...uh huh. Let me tell you when I had my son it was night and day! Sleeping through the night within weeks, the only time he cried "without reason" was when I had eaten soy, which we found out really quickly did not set well on his tummy. I wish I had known then what I know now. Which is that my darling daughter senses, the world slightly differently. She has something called sensory processing disorder . Not only that, but at the time she was born a nurse informed me that nothing I ate would affect her colic......well it seems now that doctors are a lot more sensitive to the fact that a baby can truly be allergic to something in Mums milk. Anyhoo...let's bring this back to picky eating.....

Her problems became more apparent as we started her on solid foods, it seemed as though taste had absolutely nothing to do with what she would eat. She loved very crispy things, carrots, crackers, and very smooth foods, plain cubes of silken tofu (yes I said plain), refried beans, cream cheese.....butter...also plain. And she shunned some of the normal toddler staples, like pasta dishes, and grilled cheese. The texture in her mouth was truly displeasing to her, and regardless of how salty or sweet the dish was, she wasn't touching it if it didn't feel right.

Once I figured out it was a texture issue I was able to accommodate so that she had a balanced diet. She has never had an iron deficiency, and she has always been tall (even if she is thin). So though she is on the low end of the b.m.i. she is healthy. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for her to finish a big bowl of baby spinach salad, but I will watch happily as she slurps up a green smoothie and asks for seconds.

Now that she is older and can speak for herself I ask her what it is about a food she doesn't like...and she usually makes up words. "This spinach is too skrunkely" she will say......I look forward to the day when she uses words that can be found in Webster's. But for now it's a step in the right direction. I want eating to continue to be an enjoyable situation for her, so I try to keep a patient tone at the table when I ask her to elaborate on "skrunkely". And then I thank her for trying the skrunkely spinach.

I'm going to go into some bulleted madness now, to keep this from getting way too long. If you would like me to elaborate, or have more questions on sensory issues feel free to comment or drop me an email...I will probably refer you to someone who knows a lot more than me...like these guys. I plan on writing a part two....at some point. Maybe not next Monday, but eventually. I want to include a little bit on food allergies, and how to make offending foods more palatable.

  • Identify the foods your child is refusing to eat, is there a pattern to it? A certain texture that is avoided?
  • Does your child meet any of the criteria for an oral sensitivity one way or the other? I know I just discussed my daughters aversion to food.
  • Have you noticed any other indicators of SPD?

How we deal with it

  • Get help! I felt like I was failing my daughter, how could a child not like food? How could anyone not like food...perhaps I was not a good chef, maybe there was a game or trick or some other mealtime secret that I should know. Once we had her evaluated by an occupational therapist all of the pieces fell into place.
  • Know when to pick your battles. There are foods that I will never force her to eat, it's a small list, but a memorable one....because these are the foods that cause a gag reflex and have been vomited into my hands. Since it is such a small list I know that she will lead a completely normal and healthy life without these foods.
  • Evaluate your goals. Mine are, healthy, growing kids. So as long as she is getting a balanced meal, and trying one or two bites of a "scary food" I'm happy.
  • Use a calm, cheerful voice.....and be patient. My daughter eats more when she is allowed to take her time, and doesn't get ultimatums right off the bat.....she's stubborn...no clue where she gets that from.
  • This is a very REAL disorder. It may not make sense to me why my daughter will refuse to eat a black bean in an enchilada complaining that it is "mushy mashy" and then sing praises of a black bean burger ten minutes later. However that doesn't make it less real to her. And although I feel the eye rolls and the sceptical gazes of others when I try to explain why you should probably not force her to try those mashed potatoes unless you have a steam cleaner, I can't let others opinions of my daughter affect how I treat her.
  • Regardless of whether or not others see the things you see in your child it's still important to talk to a doctor. We had so many people tell us that there was nothing wrong with her, and try to explain away her quirks....and you know what, there isn't anything wrong with her, but there is something different about her. And now that we know what it is, and that sensory processing disorder plays a part in it we can help her.

*Never to be confused with the little elf on my shoulder.....he mostly tells me to light things on fire.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spicy Pan Fried Chickpeas

I promised this recipe a while back . Sorry it took me so long. I was hoping to find the original recipe where I got the idea, so that I could link back to it. Alas, I could not. I can tell you it was in a magazine, and that it went along with a really yummy soup. Also worthy of note, I've changed it up a bit...I believe they used AP flour and I use whole wheat, there was also turmeric in the original recipe, which I loooove....however I didn't feel like cleaning up after little turmericy hands the other day. Maybe next time.

2 cups cooked chickpeas
3 tbs flour
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chili powder.
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste preference

Oil to coat pan

Put all the ingredients into a Ziploc bag (except the oil) and shake.

Heat the oil over medium heat, and using a slotted spoon (to ensure you aren't frying gobs of flour) scoop out the chickpeas and place them in the pan. Pan fry over medium heat until golden brown.

Occasionally I add a clove of pressed garlic in the last minute of cooking time, very tasty!

I add these to soups, salads, rice, pasta dishes, alongside roasted root vegetables.....that is if I can keep my hands off them long enough for them to make it to the plate, as they are also quite tasty plain. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Look Ma, I'm Coding!

For those of you that know me, you will know that I am not a huge fan of the latest and greatest technology. I still have (and use) my VCR. It's not that I'm a pack rat it's just that VHS tapes are so dang durable, and my VCR still works so I haven't taken the time to switch completely over to DVD. Plus I haven't found "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" on DVD yet.
So it should be completely shocking to most of you that I was able to create this button and somehow attach it to my blog...You will note it off to the right somewhere...
I'll pause for applause......
No takers? Well anyway....Yes, I made this in paint, and yes half of the eggplant is missing. The carrot also appears to be floating in mid air, not because I didn't know how to fix it...merely because eating carrots will give you night vision and other powers, like apparently levitation. I had made another button, and the lettering was too small to read so this is what I came up with. You will see my old design now at the top of my page (how about another round of applause...no... ahh lady in the back, you are too kind*).

You will also note that the button is attached to some stuff, which you can also copy...and put somewhere. Don't ask me where, I barely know how it got on my blog to begin with.

I'd like to thank Grace, who has been encouraging me and giving me ideas over the past two weeks. I'd also like to thank my husband, who told me that my levitating carrot button looked "great"....if only to get me to go to bed.

*I am aware of my need for therapy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Taco Tuesday (I know it's Wednesday...shhhh)

When is an appetizer an entree?

A.) When I say it is, because I'm the mom.
B.) When you serve it in a 9x13 casserole dish
C.) When I say it is, because this is my blog.

All of the above.

This dish can be eaten as is, or in taco shells (as we prefer it). You can mix it up quite a bit, spinach in place of the lettuce, add jalapenos, bell peppers, or whatever else strikes your fancy. It's basically seven layer bean dip, but I put it in a really big casserole dish and call it dinner.

I make my own refried black beans, so the measurement of three cups might not exactly equal a full two cans of the canned stuff....but this is bean dip...for dinner...I don't think you have to follow the recipe too closely. Omit what you like, keep what you like, serve stuff on the side that causes your children to vomit on you.....which reminds me of a story.......

A story that should probably wait for my picky eaters post.....
I should probably just get to that recipe.

3 cups of refried beans
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded cheese
1 can of sliced olives that have been drained
1 bag shredded lettuce (or baby spinach)
1 chopped roma (or other) tomato
1 diced avocado
1/2 cup cilantro (washed well, with the majority of the stems removed)
1 diced onion if desired

Corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the refried beans into a 9x13 baking dish.

Spread salsa on top of beans.

Sprinkle cheese and olives on top.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until it's hot and bubbly.

I used the time to prep my toppings....
Also, if you are using corn tortillas you will want to take this time to heat them according to the directions on the package.

Once the beans are done you have a "blank" canvas of sorts......the best kind of blank canvas, one that's made of cheese!

Layer your lettuce, avocado, onion, tomato, and cilantro over the top. Add whatever else you want. Add heaping scoops of this cheesy goodness into your corn tortillas and eat!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday and a survey

Here we get a whole variety of weather.....most of which requires we stay indoors. That, combined with a recommendation from my daughters occupational therapist that she do hand strengthening crafts makes this activity perfect for our family.

I almost always have all the ingredients on hand for this recipe for homemade playdough. And although we usually leave ours white, after finding this recipe for natural dye I may have to change that.

What to do once you have made the playdough??? Well of course if your children are old enough they can make sculptures that resemble things. However littler hands might have fun just mashing, poking, stamping, or rolling. We make balls, and snakes, and I break out all of the cookie cutters to make shapes. This will seriously keep the kids busy for hours.

Now for the part of the show where I come out and ask a question...

What would you like to see in my Monday posts? I've listed several options, feel free to comment here, on my facebook fan page, or by email. I read, and respond to all three.

a. crafts
b. sensory processing disorder
c. picky eaters
d. product reviews
e. family planning (infertility, natural birth control, etc)
f. shut up and get back to posting recipes
g. other (specify)

I welcome your suggestions and ideas. I have a few up my sleeve, but I would really like to hit topics that you all find interesting and informative. A big thank you to all who take the time to read and or comment on this.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Curried Pumpkin Soup

This recipe is so simple and tasty. It only has four ingredients........well, plus the two pantry staples (oil and salt)...so really six. But you know, who's here for math? You want a recipe right?

The other great thing about this soup is that it's a hit with every single member of our family. The kids each ate two bowls garnished with spicy fried chickpeas (recipe will be posted soon).

You don't have to use pumpkin, any butternut squash would also work nicely I think. But we covered this, I'm in love with pumpkin....as in love with a squash as someone can be within the boundaries of sanity of course.

oil to coat pot
1-3 tbs Indian curry paste (like Patak's)
1 can of pumpkin
1 can of coconut milk
2 cups of broth
Salt to taste

Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and heat over medium heat.

Add the curry paste and cook until fragrant. I used 2tbs of mild curry paste. I could have done with another tbs, but I ran out. If you have a hotter variety of curry paste than it might be wise to use less. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't know how universal flavor/heat is when it comes to curry paste......so use your own taste buds as a guide, you can always add some cayenne to spice things up if there isn't enough flavor in the end product.

Add the pumpkin and stir well. Slowly stir in the coconut milk, and the stock. Heat until warmed throughout.

That's it, simple, delicious, warm. Enjoy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Egg Free Pumpkin Pie Bars

I love autumn with the same passion and intensity that I hate the summer. The weather cools, the humidity dies down, and I can finally venture outside and breath simultaneously. One of the things I love most about fall is pumpkin! I am a pumpkin fanatic, I love EVERYTHING pumpkin. Sweet dishes, savory dishes, candles, soap, serving platters, pumpkin patches...if it has to do with pumpkin I am all over it. So you will be seeing a number of pumpkin dishes in the near future.

The challenge this year being that little man has an egg allergy. I figured if I wanted time to perfect an egg free, soy free pumpkin pie filling I better start now. I didn't go to the trouble of making a pie crust because I wasn't sure it was going to work. I just crushed up some organic graham crackers and made a graham cracker crust in the bottom of my 8x8 baking dish. This worked fabulously. It is more creamy and less spicy than your average pumpkin pie (probably also higher on calories...shhh), but it held it's shape and we all enjoyed it. So it was a success in my book.

I can't wait to try this filling in a pie crust now that I know it works. Baking times are for the 8x8 dish. Use any sort of crust you like. I didn't really measure....or pay attention to how I made the crust. I'm great at this whole food blogging thing, aren't I?

2 packages of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup pumpkin
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom

Soften the cream cheese in the microwave. Slowly stir in sugar.

Stir in pumpkin and spices. Adjust spices to taste preference.

Pour into crust. I baked mine for 50 minutes at 350. Let cool.

I'm so excited that our little man will be able to enjoy egg free, soy free pumpkin pie this year. If your intent is to make this dish egg free, soy free, be sure to check all the ingredients you use carefully!

UPDATE: I've made this quite a few times now, and this should definitely be made ahead of time to ensure time to set in the fridge. Also, while not absolutely necessary, using an electric mixer will produce the best results.

Quinoa with Peppers and Onions

This is a very simple dish that we all loved. How can you go wrong with peppers and onions eh? Little man loved it too, and learned a new word, "peppa"....as in "More peppa, more peppa now. Now. NOW."....Toddlers are so endearing. :)

Here the quinoa is pictured on top of some very over cooked hearts of romaine. They certainly did not add anything to it as I threw them in a pan and walked away....and then forgot about them...for a good long while. I was probably doing something important like updating my facebook status. I think next time I might prefer this with a little marinara on top, or with some slightly less cooked hearts of romaine.

2 cups cooked quinoa*
2 onions, peeled, washed, and sliced
3 bell peppers washed and sliced
2 tbs butter
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove of garlic
grated parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a large pan over medium low heat until melted.

Add the peppers, onions, salt, and vinegar. Stir together and walk away....set a timer for ten minutes, and try to avoid facebook. Check occasionally to make sure they aren't burning and lower heat if necessary.

Stir, set timer for another minutes.

When the peppers and onion are done to your desired...umm...doneness?...that doesn't sound right. Well anyhoo, when they are caramelized and tender remove them from the heat and toss in the quinoa, more salt, and pepper to taste. Add extra butter, and parmesan cheese to individual servings if desired.

*Make sure to rinse your quinoa before you cook it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Recipe Remix and Giveaway WINNER!!!

Using a random number generator Krissie was picked as winner for my CSN giveaway! Congrats Krissie! I know you are going to have fun spending your gift card! A big thank you to everyone who entered, and thank you to CSN Stores!

I thought I might share this recipe for vegetable pancakes again as I've modified it to be egg free. I used 1/2 cup pumpkin puree to replace the eggs. It adds a bonus veggie, and still holds it's shape beautifully. With Fall nearing I thought it might be important to post as replacing egg with pumpkin would work for any latke recipes as well. Also worthy of note, you can use any sort of veggies you have lying around. For this batch I used a sweet potato, and also some spinach (love my leafy greens). Another modification that I made was to use Greek yogurt for the dipping sauce, as it it is much thicker. Hope you enjoy revisiting this recipe, we sure did!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fillo cups two ways (sweet and savory)

Remember these beans? Remember when I said they would be back. Well here they are on whole wheat tomato and feta sourdough bread. This was not what I had in mind, it was just a happy accident that I needed to use my starter, and I happened to have these beans. So good! I had to take a picture and share, these beans are quite versatile.

Back to the filo cups though. I thought it would be fun on a hot day such as today to feast on cold appetizers and have a game night. We ate these garlic bean filled fillo cups as well as the "yummy pink cups" as my daughter dubbed them, along side some homemade salsa and chips. Everything went over really well. Both children were hesitant to eat the cups at first, because I've told them that cups aren't for eating.

I am marking these as make ahead, even though in the strictest sense they are not. You can make the filling ahead of time, but I would recommend filling them right before eating as they might get soggy otherwise.

The "pink yummy cups" are really an adaptation of learning to live egg free. I used to fill fillo cups with a combination of lemon curd and yogurt, and top them with fresh raspberries (YUM!). No longer an option in our household. This new recipe was not only a hit, but a suitable substitute. If I ever figure out how to make an egg free, soy free, lemon curd I'll post it on here.

Garlic Basil Bean and Roma Tomato Fillo Cups

1 recipe garlic basil beans
2 diced roma tomatoes
1 tsp vinegar (balsamic or otherwise, I used raspberry basil vinegar)
30 mini fillo shells (2 boxes)
shredded cheese (optional)

Thaw filo cups according to directions on box. Mix together the garlic basil beans, roma tomatoes and vinegar. Distribute evenly into the filo cups. Sprinkle cheese on top if desired. You could heat these if you like the bubbly cheese element. They were very tasty cold though, especially on a hot day.

Pink Yummy Cups

1 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup organic vanilla yogurt
2 tbs fruit preserves (I used this)
15 mini fillo shells

Thaw mini fillo cups according to directions. Soften the cream cheese in a bowl. Stir in yogurt and preserves. Distribute evenly (about a tsp to each) into fillo cups. Chill and serve.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday: Cooking with Toddlers

...and I use the term "cooking" loosely. Really at this age I suggest you keep little ones AWAY from the stove, even if it's just for a peak, and even if you hold their hands back. You never know when a little hand is going to wiggle or dart out. I'm all for getting kids interested in cooking and eating, but safety first, and use common sense. Most of these suggestions are for teaching kids about where food comes from, and getting them interested in whole foods. There are a few actual recipes tossed in.

I am going to focus purely on the things we do (have done) for our kids between the ages of 12 and 36 months today because otherwise I will go on forever. I'm using bullets because they are awesome. I'm telling you everything I'm doing before hand...for...I don't know what reason. Please feel free to add suggestions in the comment section. I'd love for this to be a resource for people to visit and get ideas, and I am in no way under the impression that I know it all .

  • This is a fantastic age for taking your kids to a garden supply store or nursery. Name the plants, and let them smell the herbs. When my daughter was one I took her with me to pick out what we would plant in the garden. Name the colors you see, the things you smell, the plants at various stages...i.e. "Look we are buying seeds, one day they will grow into these plants over here".
  • Take a visit to a farm, weather it be for berry picking, or a pumpkin patch, or even a small animal farm. Visiting someone who owns chickens would also do the trick nicely. We have gone berry picking, but I must confess we have never been to an animal farm. I haven't found one yet in our area that I would like the kids to see. The idea is to see where the food we get from the store and farmers market comes from.
  • A trip to the store is a great place to learn at this age! For younger kids just naming the items as you put them in the cart is great. As young as 18 months my daughter had a preference as to what we brought home "BROCCOLI!!", she would scream if I passed them by....maybe it's best to do this on a week day when there aren't a lot of shoppers about. I let them put items into bags and count how many potatoes, carrots, bags of rice that we were buying. Now that my daughter is older I ask her what food group each item fits into.
  • Name everything as you cook with it! Did everyone see the Jaime Oliver special where the kids didn't know what tomatoes and eggplants are? That will not be my kid (I hope). My daughter used to love watching me do things in the kitchen, from sorting herbs from the garden, to chopping to stirring. Before she could even comprehend what I was doing I was telling her all about it. I felt silly at first, but now I'm in the habit of talking to myself all the time....it's not insanity, it's a teaching tool.

Ziploc bag "cooking"

  • Make homemade croutons. Cube stale bread and pour dried herbs, salt, and a bit of olive oil into a Ziploc bag. Add the bread to the bag and let your children shake it about until the bread is coated evenly. Cook these in the toaster oven until crispy.
  • Make guacamole in a bag. I add avocado, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic to a bag and let my kids squish it around as long as they want. This is a great recipe, because not only do the kids love making it, they love eating it.
  • Two nights ago we made trail mix as a family. My daughter helped me read the recipe (that I wrote), find the appropriate measuring cups, and pour them in to a large bag, which we then all took turns shaking.
Appliance cooking, stirring, smashing, pouring, etc...

  • If it needs to be poured, smashed, or stirred, and you aren't in a hurry let your kids take part. Mashed potatoes, any sort of batter (Even before we knew about dear sons egg allergies I like to use egg replacement, because I didn't like the idea of my kids getting into raw eggs), dips, all beg for little hands to stir and smash.
  • I love cooking with small appliances because they cut down the time I spend in the kitchen and they don't heat up the house like an oven. Let your kids count the number of cups of rice you put in your rice cooker, or pour the ingredients into the bread machine.
  • Let them serve themselves. When my kids pick out (put on) their own pizza toppings, baked potato toppings, and taco accessories (yes, that's the word) not only do they eat more, but they get super excited about having "made dinner".
  • Make Popsicles! Chop up various fruits and let your kids place them in an ice cube tray, pour juice, yogurt, or a combination of the two on top.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Organic Tomato Bisque with Garlic Basil Beans and Croutons

Whew...that was a long title. And guess what, I spelled "bisque" right on the first try. Go me! Really it's everything in the title....plus a variation on the soup. The tomato bisque is canned...shhhh don't tell.

The hubster and I eat it straight out of the can (pictured), but I kick it up a notch (calorie wise) for the kids. So I'm including the recipe for the garlic basil beans, and also the recipe for the creamy version of the soup that I make for the kids. The creamy version is actually really, really, really, really, good....but I don't need all of those calories, because I'm not growing (on purpose that is). The croutons are simply whole wheat rosemary bread that I cubed and toasted in the toaster oven.

Garlic Basil Beans

1 can of white beans
1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 tbs chopped basil leaves
1 tsp olive oil

Drain and rinse the beans really well.

Combine the beans, oil, pressed garlic, basil and beans in a bowl.

Add salt if desired. I felt like it wasn't needed because I used canned beans, but that was my preference.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

This will be making a comeback again later this week...keep an eye out for it. :)

Creamy Style Organic Tomato Bisque

1 package cream cheese
1 can of organic tomato bisque
2 tbs butter
1 clove of garlic, pressed

Combine the cream cheese and soup in your food processor and process until smooth.

Meanwhile in a pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook one minute.

Slowly add the soup to the pot, stirring and lowering heat as necessary to avoid burning.

Heat through.


Little man ate two bowls of this, and little girl (who didn't nap) insisted she didn't like soup.....because it was too soupy....even though soup is her favorite dish...go figure. After being persuaded to try a bite, she finally confessed it was indeed good and ate the whole bowl. There was much rejoicing and merriment in all the land....err...at least our house.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sushi Rice Bowl

The weather here lately has been sooooo nice*. And by nice I mean you just want to get up in the morning, run outside, and DIE of heatstroke. The last thing I want to do in this sort of weather is cook.....the first thing I want to do is lie half naked under a ceiling fan sipping on a Jamba Juice....but since we don't have Jamba Juice here, and I live with other people that's not going to happen....Everybody good and hungry? :)

Back to the point (I totally have one)....which is, this is a super yummy cold dish that I've eaten two days in a row for lunch. It's basically brown sushi rice mixed with chickpeas, sauteed peppers and onion, avocado, and then I drizzled mustard wasabi dressing over the whole thing. Today I garnished mine with pickled ginger, and green onion.

Three fantastic things about this dish, you can make as much or as little of the components as you want and serve it several days in a row. You can change it up quite a bit and still have it taste quite good, throw in whatever you have on hand, leftover steamed veggies, maybe some carrot or cucumber sticks for more of a salad feel. And you can serve it without the dressing to keep it soy free, as I did for my son. Short on time? Try using a store bought organic salad dressing such as this.

Mustard Wasabi Dressing

5 tbs oil (I used canola)
3 tbs seasoned rice vinegar
3 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp mustard
1 1/2 tsp + more to taste prepared wasabi

Whisk all the ingredients together. This doesn't make a lot of dressing, but considering how little of it you need (I used about a tbs) it should do the trick.

*It's called sarcasm...love it, embrace it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chocolate Covered Berry Cake In A Mug

My husband said I should name this "lawlberry chocolate cake", because I used Olallieberry preserves. I think we may actually call this "lawl cake" at home, however....should you not be a pack of sci-fi loving, gaming on a Friday nighting, never got a date to a real prom sort of person (speaking of which this cake would have been perfect for my prom night as it serves one), you can call it something else.

I used Olallieberry Preserves from Linn's Fruit Bin for this cake....what's that? You've never heard of Olallieberry? How sad for you! I grew up on them, Olallieberries are kind of like a blackberry, maybe a smidgen tarter, very excellent. Especially in pie...mmmmm....lawlberry pie. Well since I couldn't bring home a pie from California, I brought home these preserves. They are tart and fruity. Not too sweet. And eating them on toast, or in this cake, reminds me of my childhood.

The preserves have seeds. So if you don't like the idea of a seedy dessert feel free to use seedless raspberry or strawberry as they would also provide a hint of berry flavor. If you feel like being really fancy, mix up the batter in a separate bowl, pour half into the mug. Then add a tsp of preserves, a tbs of chocolate chips and then the other half of the batter. If you are making a vegan version of this cake make sure your chocolate chips are vegan...and use rice milk...huh duh.

Lawl Cake in a mug....

5 tbs flour
4 tbs sugar
2 tbs cocoa powder
3 tbs oil
3 tbs milk (rice, soy, almond...whatever you have)
3 tbs Olallieberry preserves
4 tbs chocolate chips

Mix together the flour, sugar and cocoa powder in a large mug.

Stir in the wet ingredients, mix thoroughly.

Stir in the chocolate chips

Microwave for three minutes.

Let cool


Hate me for telling you how to make a cake in less than five minutes. :)

This was received well by all, gooey and chocolaty with a hint of berry flavor, and without any thing to make my dear son turn red and puff up like a blow fish. Success! It is nice to be able to make a cake and not have a whole cake just sitting there....taunting ...and teasing. And even though this is supposed to be one serving, we all made and shared just one cake in a mug. A nice treat on a day when it is definitely too hot to be turning on the oven.

I feel I should also note, I am not being paid or compensated by Linn's fruit bin or any of the products I've reviewed thus far. It's just a brand that I really like....and should they happen to want to send me oodles of yummy goodies I wouldn't turn them down. However, as of this point that has not happened.

What sort of flavors remind you of your childhood or your hometown?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Giveaway reminder and a Momentous Occasion

If you haven't entered my giveaway yet click here. Time is running out for that 40$ gift card!

In other news, I have arrived! To commemorate this occasion (I'll let you know what it is at the end of the blog) I would like to do a brief overview of other such important moments in my writing *ehem* career.

1.) At the age of six, I write a poem detailing the horrors of school cafeteria lunches and win an award. I get to read the poem aloud at assembly, laughter and general mayhem ensues.

2.) At nine I write a poem on the waves of the ocean, I win the state writing contest and am published at last.

3.) Eleven......my dark period, various disturbing short stories that end in death or demonic possession.(seriously though who let me read Stephen King as a preteen?) I am the envy of my peers......or at least that's how I remember it.

4.) At twelve I turn back to my comedic roots and write a series of comic books entitled "Super Pickle" wherein our heroic leader DP (dill pickle) defeats the evil villain, a cheesy poof that closely resembles Elvis. Once again, the envy of my peers. And though my teacher notes that "a writing journal should not be used as a sketch book", I know deep down she was laughing.

5.) In my teen years I pretty much went back to the dark crap, but in poetry form, and with a lot more angst. There were no awards...and alas, even I can not pretend that there was anyone envious of me.

Which brings us to present day....

If you google "evil chocolate clown" my blog is at the top of the page! Exciting right? Pretty much anything that happens with this blog from now on will pale in comparison.

evil chocolate clown, evil chocolate clown, evil chocolate clown.....you know, just in case I get competition.

Mommy Tip Monday

I am starting this feature for somewhat selfish reasons...

1.) I don't want to start a completely new blog.

2.) I still want to have a place where I can write down all these things as I do them, for reference. So that when a friend of mine says, "what did you do with your kids at such and such age", I don't have to stand there gaping like a slack jawed yokel.....which is what I do when I get put on the spot, that and develop a nervous rash...but that is neither here nor there.

Back to the topic at hand....

I hope to keep this up, but I don't want to alienate those of you who are looking for a food blog...not a mom blog. I'm going to try to keep these sorts of things with a telling title, and you are more than welcome to skip them over completely if they are of no interest to you. I will continue to blog my recipes too. Don't worry.

Today's Mom Tip....

What educational bath toy do you already have hiding in your house? It's a great tool for teaching more, less, empty, full, and even fractions. Plus they are easy to sanitize! Any guesses?
Maybe you've already used this one.....

Measuring cups! I am not suggesting you put your toddler in the tub with a lesson plan, but let them discover things like filling, and of course dumping out measuring cups. My daughter had speech delays and this was how I taught her empty and full. She needed one word cues that were clear. We would also talked about which cup holds more water.

Now that my daughter is four we talk about things like how the 2 on the 1/2 cup measuring cup means that it takes 2 of them to make a cup. She also now has the sight word "cup".

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Smokey Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes and Baby Spinach

This was good....really good. I started this blog not only to share, but to learn. And what have I learned? That corn stock ah-maize-ing...heehee, see how I did that? Seriously now, it is a tragedy to throw away your corn cobs before you have used them for stock. I didn't follow an exact recipe, I just threw what veggies I had (4 corn cobs, and 4 carrots) into a pot, covered them with water, added 2 bay leaves, salt, and crushed garlic, and I boiled it....forever...voila...rich flavorful broth. Feel free to use an exact recipe, if that kind of thing floats your boat.
I am certain this recipe is still good without the corn stock, but I hope you do take the time to try and make some if you get the chance. The sweetness from the fresh corn and the sweet potatoes combined with the creamy Gouda, hint of spice, and the smoke flavoring created a winning dish that everyone enjoyed. It was nice to see my kids chow down on so many different veggies without any complaints.

What you need...
oil to coat pot
1 onion peeled, washed, and diced
2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
1 sweet potato peeled, washed, and diced
1 potato peeled, washed....and you guessed it...diced.
2 dashes red pepper
1/4 tsp Creole seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
5 ears worth of corn kernels
6 cups of corn (or other veggie stock)
4 tbs cornstarch
4 tbs water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 lb shredded cheese (I used Gouda, but I think smoked cheddar would be equally nice)
2 handfuls of washed baby spinach (optional)
1 tsp smoke flavoring
salt to taste

Pour enough oil to coat the bottom of a large stockpot and heat it over medium heat.

Add the onion, potatoes, carrots and Creole seasoning and red pepper flakes. Cook until the onions are translucent and the potatoes and carrots are tender.

Mix together the cornstarch and water in a separate bowl

Add the corn, pepper, stock, and bring to a boil. Cook for ten minutes.

Add the cornstarch and water and cook until potatoes are done and soup is thickened.

Lower the heat, and stir in the baby spinach, cheese, and milk. Heat through.

Stir in the liquid smoke, and add salt to taste.


This is my submission for September 2010 "No Croutons Required". The theme is corn. Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bordeaux Bar vs Clown of Great Evil

I know my fellow Californians will be shocked and amazed when I tell them that there are NO See's Candy Stores where I live. And along with being amazed (and slightly disturbed), they will be totally understanding of why I packed Bordeaux Bars and other chocolaty treats into my car for the 50 hour drive across country.

What I'd like to present to you today is an oddity, nay....a mystery which I can only guess at the meaning of.


is what happened to my Bordeaux Bar when we drove across country with it tucked away in a bag amidst suitcases and trinkets....expected, no?

...is what happened to the chocolate clown my kids picked out to bring home. I know what you are thinking, well it's wrapped...so clearly on the inside it's a melted mess of chocolatyyyy.....

AAAAHHHHHH!!!! Further proof (as if we needed any more) of the evil nature of clowns. Even when sculpted of something pure and sweet as See's chocolate, their evil powers prevent them from destruction when exposed to the humid heat of the deep south. So I ask you....merely a chocolate clown....or a sign of the impending zombie apocalypse.

One more for comparison....I'll let you decide.

P.S. Despite it's appearance you will be happy to know my chocolate bar still tasted fantastic.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast "Bars"

These were a little sweeter than we normally go for breakfast, but they are filled with good things like local organic blueberries and yogurt....so the justification was made. :) I am not normally a fan of blueberries, something about the texture throws me off. But I could eat this dish every day. It doesn't necessarily set into a real bar, but as you can see it holds it's shape. I guess you could put it under the category of a trifle. Whatever it is...it's good!
I got the idea from My Stepmother, who served a similar dish while we were in California. Very light and refreshing, perfect on a hot day. I knew instantly I wanted to recreate it when we got home. My version is egg free, and soy free (check your ingredients thoroughly), and it's mostly organic. It was so easy to make that I let the kids help. Not only did they help make it, but they helped gobble it up. I will be making it again today.

1/2 package Bunny Grahams
1 Pint organic blueberries divided
6 tbs Sugar divided
1 package cream cheese
2/3 cup plain organic yogurt
2 tbs organic butter melted
2 organic lemons

Crush the Bunny Grahams and mix with 1/2 pint of blueberries, 2 tbs sugar, and the juice of one lemon. Stir together and pour into an 8x8 baking dish.

Soften the cream cheese and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in the butter slowly, then whisk in the yogurt slowly. The mixture should be creamy and smooth.

Stir in the juice from the second lemon and stir in the remaining 4 tbs of sugar one at a time, adding more or less to taste.

Pour the yogurt over the berry graham cracker mix and pour the second 1/2 pint of berries on top.

Refrigerate overnight to help it set....or eat it right away if you can't handle the wait....
Guess which one I did?

World Breastfeeding Week

"So what's new on the interwebs?"

"It's world breastfeeding week"

"which means...."

"hmmmm...don't know, I guess it's like an effort to encourage women to breastfeed, let them know all the benefits of nursing, and to educate society as a whole that there is nothing dirty or shameful about it"

"So it's kind of like Le Leche League's version of Boobquake"

/rolls eyes
"Yes sweetie, that's exactly what it is"

This post does not include a recipe....*pause for relieved sighs*.....But since nursing is how a baby eats, I feel it is relevant to include in a food blog. How is this important in your life? Well one day you may be faced with the decision of nursing or bottle feeding, you may have nursed a baby in the past, and everyone most certainly (unless you restrict yourself exclusively to bar hopping...and why are you reading my blog?) will one day be faced with the controversial mum nursing in public.

What do I want you to learn from this blog? Well if you are in group A (one day hoping to have children), know that breastfeeding can be difficult, but soooo worth it. As most things in life that come with work, there are many rewards to making the decision to nurse. Not only to you and your child, but think of all that trash that comes with formula feeding for a year! Not to mention the dishes you create, the water you use, and the money you spend. Really do try to nurse if it's an option for you, and if you can't make enough milk to feed the whole nursery like Sally down the street, don't stress! It doesn't come easy to everyone, and Mothers need not be graded by their milk supply.

Group B....Kudos to you! What a wonderful decision to make! I'm sure you will all agree that it's not always easy, sometimes comes with pain, and most certainly comes with some loss of sleep. My stance on this is giving it your all when it comes to nursing deserves credit wether it gets you to the 6 month, 1 year or beyond....My philosiphy with nursing is the same as with feeding my children of any age, I try to think "more healthy food" instead of "less bad food". Not that there aren't foods that I keep away from my kids, and I certainly avoid formula, but I think focusing on figuring out how to get more healthy foods into them gives them a more positive outlook on food (and hopefully less food issues) than always telling them how bad food is for them. Or forbidding entire groups like carbs, fats, or sugars....but back to nursing.

This last group is all inclusive. If you've eaten at a restaurant, gone to Disneyland, or hung out at the park for long enough you may have (or someday soon will) seen the elusive and controversial woman nursing in public.....you may not even have realized it at the time. What is important for you to know about nursing? That it's legal, good for the baby, and it's just food! Babies need to eat every two hours after they are born, day and night. It would be crazy to expect a new mother (especially one with older kids) to drive home and hide in their house to do something that can just as easily be done discretely anywhere else. Another argument I have heard is that women should bring bottles with them when they go out in public...well guess what, not all women can pump enough to fill a bottle on top of nursing every two hours. I couldn't. So don't stare, and don't glare. Oh and if it bothers you to know what's going on under a nursing cover, or if the noise bothers you.....then you clearly you are sitting too close and have some issues going on so feel free to leave, or put a blanket over your own head. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway!!!! CLOSED!

See all the exclamation points? They are no front. I am super excited about this. Anytime you see that many exclamation points in a row, you can bet that I have the chorus of "I'm so excited" by the Pointer Sisters running through my head....and you should too. Because you stand to win stuff here....

free stuff....

cool free stuff.

Enter for a chance to win a 40$ gift card to any of the CSN Stores websites. Why is that so cool? Because they have everything from dining room sets (I mean look at this, do you know how hard it is to find a table that seats 8? And this one has a Lazy Susan built into it*) , to kids toys, to solar powered garden gnomes**!

When CSN contacted me in an email asking me if I would like to do a review or giveaway I was kind of overwhelmed. There are so many things to choose from on their sites that I just couldn't decide.....so I am leaving the burden up to you, my readers. I know some of you have expressed the need for a waffle iron, food processor, or immersion blender...well here is your chance to win one.

What would I do with the gift card? Well I am absolutely positively in love with the Flirty Apron collection. This one is my favorite.

To enter....

1.) Check out the CSN Stores website and tell me what you would do with your gift card in a comment.


2.) Check out the CSN Stores website and write a blog about the giveaway, and what you would do with the gift card. Link back to me, and put the link to your blog in a comment so that I know you are out there.

You don't have to follow my blog to enter this contest....but you know...if you want to, that would be cool....and well...you're here anyway....

Make sure you have an email contact on your profile. If I choose a winner who does not have an email contact on their profile, or in their comment I will have to choose a new winner. I won't sell your address, I just need a way to contact the winner.
I will be choosing a winner next Wednesday, August 11th. This contest is unfortunately only open to those in the U.S. and Canada.

*Yes hun the table link is a hint
**Also a hint

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Corn two ways....and a sick day

"Oooh honey, what are you cooking"

"It's just leftover enchiladas. Do you want a bite, or are you going to be sick?"

"I don't understand why there had to be an "or" in that sentence."

Even while sick, I'm hungry. As far back as I can remember I've been hungry. Once as a child I noted pine needles on a poster of edible plants, so while out and about hiking and whatnot I ate them as snacks. Unfortunately being six....and not a botanist I must have mistook one plant for another, and ended up violently ill. I can tell you one thing I've learned from this experience. The only texture more unpleasant than eating pine needles is having them come back up. I can laugh at it now, but just in case my children ever start resorting to eating wild flowers I always keep a few extra snacks in the diaper bag or car. Because....you know...it could happen.

I don't know what any of this has to do with soup except that I am sick today and I made a a huge pot of soup inspired by The Ordinary Vegetarian. The idea of Thai flavors, paired with fresh sweet corn sounded delish. And I knew the ginger and cilantro was just what my tummy needed. I added baby spinach and grilled orange and green peppers, because I had them on hand. Though the hubster ordered pizza for the kids (before we knew I would be feeling well enough to cook) my son opted for this soup.....I am not even lying.
Thai Coconut Corn Bisque with Peppers and Spinach

The second dish I made from fresh corn was a smokey corn chowder that was....so so good. I highly regret not writing down the recipe as I was making it. I took my basic corn chowder recipe, and replaced one of the potatoes with a sweet potato, added a few handfuls of organic baby spinach (more is always better where veggies are concerned in my opinion. And at the end shredded in 2 cups of Gouda and seasoned with liquid smoke to taste. The result was fantastic! Salty and creamy, smokey and cheesy. With a pop of freshness from the corn right off the cob, and a little sweet from the sweet potatoes. This went fast, and I relished watching my kids chow down on so many different veggies. No picture for that one, but I hope to make it again soon. Keep an eye out for the full recipe.
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