Monday, September 27, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday: Snack Time!

Happy Monday everyone! I think this post applies to everyone, because who doesn't like snacking right? Well if you like to snack, I know you will get just as lost as I always do on this site. Check it out.

Fix Me A Snack

Don't leave without checking out Yogurt 101!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thai Inspired Soup

I am working once again on very little sleep. I called in this morning to see if I could take a personal day and the girl who answered the phone clearly didn't know what she was talking about.


"Hi, Mommy"

"Hi, I was just calling in because my kids kept me up all night, and seeing as I've worked nonstop for the past four years I was wondering if it was ok if I took the day off to get some rest"

"Mommy do you know what sound a bagpipe makes? It goes...beeeeeeeeeeaaawwaaaarrrrraaaaaaaaaaaahhh. It's pretty much my favorite sound"

this is where I started suspecting that she may have no authority to give me the day off

"Do you have a manager I could speak too"

"Bagpipe starts with B...buh buh Beee"

At this point I noticed the girl in question was talking into a plastic banana instead of a phone, clearly this conversation was going nowhere

We reached a compromise though. I get to wear my pj's all day, and we are going to have canned soup and sandwiches for dinner because they require minimal effort. Also there will be much time cuddling on the couch with a story book. This job has it's perks.

What does that have to do with this soup....nothing. Thanks for putting up with it. I guess what I'm saying is if you notice extra typos, grammatical errors and confusing steps, it's only because my editor** has taken a leave of absence due to lack of sleep. :)

Here's that recipe you have all been waiting for.....right? It's a mild flavored soup that is full of summery ingredients like corn, yellow pepper, lemon and cilantro. It has almost no heat, you can surely up the amount of curry paste if you want a spicy soup. This recipe makes a lot, but I think it tastes even better the next day. It's excellent over cilantro rice. There are a lot of ingredients in here, don't be alarmed, you may be surprised just how many you have on han

served over cilantro rice. Yum!

1tbs oil
6 cloves of pressed garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tbs vegetarian oyster sauce*
1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
3 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs Thai green curry paste
1 yellow bell pepper sliced into strips
1 potato scrubbed and diced
8oz extra firm organic pre-diced tofu...It will be packed in water, drain it thoroughly
1 cup frozen corn
4 cups of veggie stock
1 can of coconut milk
1 handful of baby spinach
1 handful of cilantro chopped
2 Meyer lemons
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the next six ingredients (from garlic to curry paste) and stir.

Add the pepper, tofu, and potato. Cook for five minutes. Then flip and cook for five more minutes. The potatoes should be tender.

Add the corn and veggie stock. Bring it to a boil.

Boil until the potatoes are done.

Lower the heat and add the coconut milk, spinach, cilantro and the juice of the two lemons. Heat through and add salt to taste.

Serve over cilantro rice if desired. I made this recipe and switched the white rice for brown, so the cooking times and proportions were different, but the flavors were still the same. It was fantastic, use whatever type of stock you desire. I think I may have also doubled the garlic....I do that.

*This is vegetarian oyster sauce, I believe I have also seen it called mushroom stirfry sauce. I'm not thrilled with all of the ingredients. Definitely a sometimes food. It adds a depth of flavor to Thai dishes that I have not been able to duplicate without using it. Find it Asian grocery stores.

** Editor, being my brain....she isn't really that great of an editor to begin with, but she's better than nothing.

Sorry about the funky font sizes, I was having trouble editing this. All the computer's fault I'm sure. In no way has to do with my lack of sleep. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Marinated Bean and Potato Tacos and a Choose Your Own Adventure

Remember the "choose your own adventure" series? I loved those things as a kid, a book you can read again and again! What more would any eight year old girl want (I don't know friends maybe).

Anyhoo, this is a super simple recipe so I thought I'd turn it into a behind the scenes peek at what goes on in my kitchen when I am cooking and running on very little sleep. I fully intend to get seven hours tonight. With luck there will be no broken night lights, 2 am "frow ups", or 5am "I just decided I really like the sun and I want to sing about it.....loudly". It does make the recipe a little more confusing, however it is like I said a super simple recipe and I totally have faith in you.

What you need

2 cloves of garlic finely minced
12 oz jar of Mango Peach Salsa
2 baked potatoes cooled and diced
1 can of beans drained and rinsed. I suggest pinto beans, I did not have them and used butter beans. I think pinto would have worked better.
hot sauce and salt to taste.

tortilla shells

Add the salsa to a large mixing bowl one tablespoon at a time (no not really) until you realize you want to use the whole dang jar and dump that in.

Take a moment to look at how pretty the salsa jar is. Isn't it lovely? It vaguely reminds you of the cover of a book you once liked that book.
At this point you can either

1.) add the garlic, diced potatoes and beans to the bowl.
2.)contemplate the jar some more.....yes you could recycle it, but you could also get crafty with's the perfect size for a candle isn't it?

If you chose 1 continue on with the recipe. If you chose 2 scroll to the bottom.

Carefully stir in the potatoes and beans and add hot sauce and salt to taste. Cover and put the bowl in the fridge.

Leave it there for about a half hour, while it is marinating you can fry or bake up some tortilla shells.

While your tortilla shells are frying (let's just say you fried them ok) your phone will beep.

3.) Dutifully remain in the kitchen and dice taco fixings next to the stove where you can keep a watchful eye on your tortillas.
4.) Go check , and update, and otherwise get lost on facebook.

Those who chose 3 may proceed.....4....scroll to the bottom.

When your tortillas are done salt them and let them cool. Pull the taco filling out of the fridge and fill your tortillas with the marinated potato mixture, lettuce, bell pepper, cilantro, cheese, rice cheese or whatever else you like to put on tacos. As is this recipe is vegan (double check your ingredients). However I don't know enough about protein combinations to tell you whether or not it is a complete meal....perhaps someone out there can enlighten me?

After all of the tortillas are done, and your tacos are filled, take a picture for your blog. Because there is nooooo way you could have possibly done that while you were facebooking or waiting for the tortillas to cook.

Eat, enjoy, and be thankful that even in your current scatterbrained state there are still recipes that are pretty darn fool proof.

2.) Grab everything out of your craft closet (you have been wanting to organize it anyway). You are looking for candle wax or other things that might help you re purpose this jar. The end result being that your tacos will not be ready until eight o' clock at night.

4.) While on facyspace you lose track of time. Your taco shells are burnt and they won't open properly so you won't be able to get a lot of filling into them. You will say a quick prayer of thanks that your husband actually likes burnt food, and when no one is looking you will eat extra taco filling out of the bowl with a spoon........don't be ashamed, we've all done it.

Well I hope that all made sense, I'm about to go to bed as we speak. These tacos were tasty, and super easy to make. They will definitely be a go to meal in our house. I recommend the mango peach salsa, because a regular tomato salsa won't have as much flavor to it. Also I really like the sweet and spicy combo....could you tell?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Indian Spiced Potatoes and Peas

This is a lovely side dish, not really spicy hot, but very tasty. You may add cayenne or hot pepper if you desire a spicy dish. And yes I totally pan fried these oil...then I wrapped the whole lovely mess in rice paper...and I fried it some more. So clearly this is not an every day food. Really tasty, and full of healthy veg, but I am willing to wager it's not low calorie. I am ok with that. I would have loved to add some more protein to this and have made it into a full meal. Chickpeas would be nice, or perhaps some diced firm tofu? Let me know if you try it out.

What you need

2 tbs oil
2 sweet potatoes (washed, peeled, diced)
1 regular potato (washed, peeled, diced)
1/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt

4 cloves of pressed garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 cup frozen peas

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced potatoes and 1/4 tsp of salt. Cook for five minutes on medium.

Add the rest of the spices and salt (from turmeric to salt) stir them in, and cook for another five minutes. At this point my potatoes were fully cooked, if yours are not then cook them a bit longer.

Add the garlic, ginger, and frozen peas. Cook for five minutes more, stirring and lowering heat if necessary to avoid burning the garlic.

I've divided the ingredients up into groups by when you add them. Let me know if this makes it easier or more confusing. I love the feedback, and I am also in total shock that people are actually following my recipes. :) It makes me super happy, but also makes me want to make it a little easier on you, the reader.....because I love you the reader. :)

Here are the potatoes and peas being used as an appetizer of sorts, rolled in rice paper, fried, and served with a dipping sauce. The sauce is a mixture of yogurt, vinegar, sugar, salt, and cilantro leaves. Not very pretty, but very tasty.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday:Holidays with food allergies and dietary restrictions

October is coming up, and I was kind of in a dilly of a pickle. What to do about Halloween? There is going to be candy EVERYWHERE. It doesn't matter if we trick or treat or not, they give out candy in stores, at harvest festivals, even some library functions. Should we hide from now until January second? Do I let my children participate, and then snatch their candy away after the festivities?

If you have been reading my blog for some time (or if you know me), then you will know the reason for this conundrum is due to our collective allergies. When you take away soy, nuts, eggs and food dye, you end up with very few options at most holiday parties. Throw in the fact that one child can have nuts and soy while the other can not and you see where my problem lies. I am sure this is a problem for other parents out there so I thought I would share what I am going to do with you.

There are a few things I am passionate about, giving my kids food home cooked meals, eating together, and despite the differences in the way we may eat and live I want them to be kids! So we are not hiding out, nor am I devising a stick like weapon to bat away the onslaught of sugary allergen infested treats! I got this wonderful idea from a mother at story time, who does not to my knowledge have a blog, but deserves the credit for this. After trick or treating her children leave their candy out overnight and in the morning it has been replaced by a toy! Excellent idea right? The kids are happy, they get to participate in fun, and they don't feel deprived of their sweets. Problem solved!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lentils In a Creamy Spicy Tomato Sauce

I am a lean (kind of) mean (not on purpose of course) meal freezing machine!

Little man had a stomach bug that totally caught me off guard. All he wanted was to be held and cuddled 24-7, and while I in no way mind doing so it made me aware of the fact that we are getting low on freezer meals. Anyhoo, you may see a little less of me in the next few weeks as I build up my reserves. In the mean time, we are also still working on squirrelling away money to put into savings. And what is cheaper than lentils?? Right? Well I served this dish over rice, and you could use any type of beans you like in place of lentils.

This meal is the perfect example of why I like to have lots of spices on hand. This is really a quite ordinary dish...garlic, tomato sauce, beans, not very exciting at all. By using some spices that I always have readily available, garam masala, cumin, paprika, it turns into a scrumptious dish that the whole family enjoys.

What you need:

2 tbs butter (or olive oil)
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp chili powder
dash or two of cayenne
5 cloves of pressed garlic
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 can coconut milk
Salt to taste
2-4 cups of cooked beans (I used lentils, kidney beans might work well in this too)
If you want to go with canned beans, be sure to drain and rinse them well.I used a lot of beans, I was going for a high protein high fiber meal. Add the beans to your liking and tastes.

Melt the butter (or heat the oil) over medium heat and add the spices (garam masala, paprika, cumin, ginger, chili powder, and cayenne). Cook about a minute and a half until fragrant.

Add the garlic and cook one minute more.

Add the tomato paste and stir. Lower the heat if necessary, tomato products are quick to burn (if memory serves me this is because of their high sugar content, anyone know for sure?)

Slowly stir in the tomato sauce and the coconut milk.

Add salt to taste and heat through.

Add the beans and cook until heated through once more.

Adjust to suit tastes (more cayenne, salt etc) and serve over rice. Garnish with cilantro.

Although this lovely dish looks kind of like dog food it was quite tasty, and we all enjoyed it very much. I hope you do as well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Rice and Chickpeas

When I saw Astra put squash into a slow cooker my world was changed. Just because squash and pumpkins start showing up in the produce section in no way means that the weather has started to cool down here. In fact this next week we are looking at a lot of 90 degree plus days. This is one of the many reasons I love my crock pot, it gives me the ability to enjoy the foods I love without turning my house into an oven. Thank you Astra.

This recipe was pretty tasty, I think next time I will replace the 1/4 cup of yogurt with coconut milk and add a can of diced tomatoes....I don't know why it just sounds good. I will let you know how those modifications turn out. I served this along side some curried potato patties. I will hopefully get around to posting that recipe soon. What you see in the middle bowl is simply a mixture of plain yogurt thinned out with vinegar, and a smidgen of sugar.

This recipe makes four servings

2 acorn squash washed, halved and degooped (pull out all of the seeds and etc)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
5 tsp hot curry paste (like Pataks) divided
1/4 cup plain yogurt
4 cloves pressed garlic
1 small box of raisins (1.5 oz)
1tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp salt...or more to taste

Using 1tsp of the curry paste rub the insides of the acorns and sprinkle with salt.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients and distribute this filling evenly between the four halved squashes.

Cook on low, until squash is fully cooked. It took me about six hours, but will vary depending on the size of your squash and the crock pot you use. I had to stack my squash, they seemed to cook well regardless.

My daughter even pitched in on this meal by making dessert. Chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels. She was so proud to present them at the end of the meal.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesy

I was going to call this "easy as box mac and cheese".....but I over think things....I'm not sure if it really is as easy as box...It takes about the same amount of time as the box mac and cheese.However, instead of waiting around for the water to boil and the noodles to cook you need to be grating cheese. So really it's only "takes the same amount of time as box mac and cheese", not quite the same ring to it.....

I told you I over think things.

It worked out well though, because I got to use rhyming words. I like rhyming words, they make me giggle.

Anyhoo, this is the only mac and cheese my kids will eat, and I have to thank my friend Stefanie for giving me the idea. She served something very similar for Easter one year and when she told me how simple it was (1lb noodles, 1lb cheese, butter, garlic salt, and pepper) I had to try it out. Of course I added a 16oz bag of frozen organic veggies, and sometimes I add other things*.

What you need:

1lb dried noodles
4 cups of shredded cheese (shred mine while I'm waiting for the water to boil)
16oz frozen organic veggies of any kind. (I have used broccoli, peas, mixed veggies, and even a bag of stir fry veggies.)
3tbs butter
garlic salt and pepper to taste

Here's the tricky part. Depending on the type of noodles you use and the type of veggies you use your cooking times/when you add the veggies will vary. I am calculating this for the cook times on the organic penne I bought, and the pea/carrot/corn mixture I bought. Please do your own math to adjust for different types of noodles and veggies. The penne had a 12 minute cook time and the veggies had a 6 minute cook time, so I just dumped the veggies in half way through. Twelve minutes might be too long for regular elbow macaroni noodles.

Boil the water and shred the cheese.

Add the noodles and cook for six minutes.

Add the veggies and boil for six more minutes.

Drain and return to pot.

Add the butter one tbs at a time and stir in the cheese a little at a time so it melts and doesn't turn into one big clump o' cheese.

Add garlic salt and pepper to taste.

My kids love this. I've even given it to their veggie hating friends with success. My kids won't eat box mac and cheese, so when I'm tired this is a great go to meal. It's easy, fast, cheap, and I usually have everything on hand. Make sure to use garlic salt instead of plain old salt, I believe that's what gives it flavor and turns it from noodles and melted cheese into a real dish.

*Variations include "chili mac", where I stir in leftover chili after I add the cheese, and "baked bean mac" get the picture.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday: Fun Food, and Questions

When I look at bento boxes and the other fun lunches that my friends make for their children I get inspired. I don't know that the inspiration will ever lead me to as awesome of a creation as the ones they make, but it is there none the less. It often results in a smidge more effort on my part put into the little ones lunches.

When my daughter was younger, she could not be tricked or persuaded into eating. All my attempts were fruitless (haha get it, we are talking about food). She was a 42 year old New York City food critic trapped in a non verbal 23 month old body. Her looks said it all...."will not touch it, do not like it, don't even think I believe that pancake is supposed to be Mickey Mouse....because I'm not fooled". The look was often followed by a grunt and a tossing of food....sigh. Now that she is older I believe there is a direct correlation between the amount of food she eats and how cute/cool it is. So even if this method has not worked on your little one in the past, I encourage you to try try again.

I made this for her as a play on one of her favorite shows, Blues Clues. In one of the episodes Steve and Blue are shape searchers. I thought it would be fun to look for shapes in our lunch. Circle olives, circle pizzas, triangle cheese, square pretzels. Ohhhh and what's that I see over there.....
A clue!!! A clue!!!! don't see it...that is clearly a paw print made of blueberries in a blue berry yogurt smoothie...aaah ok, now you get it. Good. My daughter was quite delighted to have a shape searchers lunch.

The smoothie is simply vanilla yogurt, blue berries, and lemon juice. It was thick enough to plop five blueberries on top and give it enough of a paw print shape that the kids were very excited to find it. I may have made some subtle subliminal suggestions to aid them ....."Oh look, a clue!"

Along these same lines, we also took a shape searchers walk. I let my four year old take her camera on the walk so we could take pictures of all the shapes we found. Also a blast....and also (if not food related) health related, because it got us out of the house and moving.

Do fun shapes encourage your kids to eat more? Any flops? What has worked to make your kids excited about food?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Black Bean and Avocado Tacos

This is another cold taco filling. It is very simple, and I encourage you to play around with the ingredients to suit your own tastes. It's still really hot outside here, so these were a refreshing break from warm food. I would write more, but I think my brain has already left for the weekend. Hope you are all having a great Friday.

2 cups black beans
1 washed peeled and diced avocado
2 tbs chopped cilantro leaves (or to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vinegar (apple cider)
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup shredded cheese or "cheese"
1/2 diced onion (optional)
1 clove pressed garlic
salt, pepper, and hot sauce* to taste

Mix everything together in a big bowl and spoon into taco shells. Add extra taco fixins as desired. The hubster and I thought these were great plain. The filling tasted even better the next day.

*My personal belief is that you can never have too much hot sauce....unless it's in your eye. Then pretty much any amount is no good. Hot sauce haters may leave it out of this recipe if they so desire. :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I don't think my daughter sleeps at night.....I think she lies in wait. The slightest post 3am sound will have her springing to feet and ready to start the day, complete with list of requests of things she would like to do do today (color a picture, eat some yogurt, ride a llama??). She does not get this from me. I roll out of bed and crawl to the kitchen where my automatic coffee maker has (hopefully) brewed me a cup of industrial strength coffee. In the event that the coffee pot has not begun it's daily duty I press the button, grab a mug, and lie on the floor in the kitchen groaning and mumbling to myself.

All that to say that today I am having a friends toddler over and I wanted to get my morning routine in before they got here. So I woke up at 5:30. I got in a devotional, one load of laundry, and 20 minutes of yoga before my daughter awoke and began to tell me her list....chocolate milk? Blues Clues? Play outside?....No, No, and maybe after bubby wakes up. I'd like to tell you what all this has to do with rhubarb Pie, but I can't....You see I started writing this at 6 this morning...that was two cups of coffee, three loads of laundry, 20 make and freeze veggie burgers, one craft and story time, and seven hours of babysitting ago.....I'm kind of lost as to where I was going with who wants a vague outline on how to make this delectable dessert eh?

I use Alton Browns pie crust recipe, but I use all butter....instead of butter and lard....I can almost hear my father shouting all the way over in California "What's wrong with lard? Nothing, you were raised on it. I was raised on it, and your grandparents were raised on it too". If you can hear him just ignore him, replace the lard with butter. No offense taken I hope Gramma and Pop.

Instead of a pie tin, I put this into a greased 8x8 casserole dish.

Then I stir together 3 cups chopped rhubarb (make very sure that you don't get any leaves in there), 2 cup sliced strawberries, 1 cup of sugar, the juice of one lemon, and 6 tbs flour. This goes on top of the pie crust.

On top of that I mix up this strueselly stuff...about 2 tbs flour, mixed well into 4 tbs brown sugar, and I cut butter into it until it gets all crumbly looking. This is sprinkled on top. Cover with foil and it goes into the oven for about 50 minutes. Check it at 30 minutes though, I have been using frozen rhubarb, which I'm sure increases the cooking time. It will be bubbly and oozy and smell delicious.

You are supposed to let a pie cool.....that is the hardest part about making a pie, in my humble opinion. You can eat this straight away if you would like, I won't tell. :)

I made this for my husbands birthday. We also ordered takeaway from a Turkish restaurant. I thought you all might enjoy some pictures of our meal.

These were filled with cheese and fresh herbs, they came with a tangy yogurt sauce not unlike raita. I will try to recreate it soon.

I ordered a couple of appetizers as they had no vegetarian main course....this was their fried vegetable dish. It had a nice mild flavor, and lots of eggplant and onion. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
This was an eggplant relish of sorts, it was very tangy and salty. I mixed it with the veggies and stuffed it all into a pita.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vegetarian Sushi Filling

The video card on our desktop is down, so no pictures today. But it got me thinking about what I could write about that I don't have pictures for. Sushi is a summer staple in our house. I used to make fancy sauces for it as well, but now with little man's soy allergies less so. There are many reasons for eating vegetarian sushi, pregnancy, allergies, avoiding unsustainable fishes. Whatever your reasons you need not be limited (although it's still tasty) to cucumber and carrot matchsticks.
Here are a few of my favorite sushi fillings, mix and match them as you like.

Spicy Thai cashews from Trader Joes
Green onion
Tempura fried tofu
Tempura fried jalapeno peppers
Hot peppers of any sort
Tempura fried veggies
Cucumbers that have been marinated in rice vinegar
Spicy cucumber salad (diced cucumbers mixed with a dressing of yogurt, cayenne, rice vinegar and a smidgen of sugar....I will post a recipe for this later, you can also add diced jalapeno to this)
Cream cheese
Cream cheese mixed with wasabi
Cream cheese mixed with Thai sweet chili sauce
Lemon pepper tofu
Lemon pepper asparagus
Marinated tofu (in a mixture of teryaki sauce garlic and cayenne)
Spicy nuts (either cashews or macadamia) Nuts that have been chopped and mixed with salt and chili oil....yum!
Veggies! Of course of any sort, matchstick, marinated, grilled, fried, whatever you like...then mix them with any of the other above ingredients.

Some of my favorite combinations....

Fried tofu, jalapeno, cream cheese
wasabi cream cheese, green onion, avocado
cream cheese, green onion
avocado, jalapeno
Marinated tofu, grilled bell peppers

Monday, September 6, 2010

Garlic Ginger Grilled Zucchini Roll-ups

I would recommend this to a zucchini hater. I myself used to be a zucchini hater, but this recipe helped me change my mind. What I hated was the taste of raw zucchini, something about it totally grossed me out as a kid. Now that I have learned how zucchini caramelizes on the grill, and how well it works in veggie pancakes, I've been won over. If you are super zucchiniaphobic, you might want to start out by trying them in veggie pancakes and working your way up to these.

I made two types, one with feta for us adults, and one with cheddar for the kids. I'm not going to recommend the cheddar ones, the kids were ok with them.....but they don't know how wonderful feta is. However, because I didn't think to take pictures of the process until I had already rolled all of the feta ones, you will get pictures of the less tasty cheddar version. You can also add diced roma tomatoes, and chopped fresh herbs to the filling with very tasty results.

You will need one recipe garlic ginger butter , zucchini, and feta cheese. It's that simple!

Melt the garlic ginger butter.

Wash off the zucchini and chop off both ends. Slice it thinly lengthwise and brush it with the garlic ginger butter. Throw it on the grill until it has these little liney thingies, and is pliable...see picture below....
Line those babies up and sprinkle feta, diced tomatoes and whatnot over the top half of the zucchini.
Roll them up and serve immediately! Here's what the kids version looked like....
I served these along side manicotti. I found 1/2 of a box of manicotti noodles in my cupboard, and though I didn't have all the ingredients I normally use I improvised.....and it was a hit. My daughter raved that she loved "circle shaped spaghetti" you want to know what I did? I replaced the mozzarella with cheddar...not a huge leap, and I replaced the ricotta with.....beans....white beans.....and it was delicious. My husband said he liked it better than regular manicotti. All you do is drain and rinse one can of white beans, and throw it in the food processor. I added one clove of pressed garlic and seasoned it as I would ricotta (salt, pepper, oregano, and a dash of nutmeg). It was a little thinner than normal manicotti filling, but it was pretty tasty. I didn't get any good pictures (again I wasn't thinking) but I got a picture...which is about all you really expect from me by now isn't it? That's the game, set the bar low.;)

I made this dish out of mostly pantry and staples so I'm labeling it a pantry meal......because I can, because it's my blog. :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday: What your little ones should NOT be eating

I had a lot of plans for today. None of them involved a teething little man waking up at 5:30 and permanently attaching himself to my hip....but here I am. So here is the extremely abbreviated version of my blog.

Most of you probably know that it isn't safe to feed your children honey under the age of one, but did you know that maple and corn syrup fall into that category? This link will tell you more about why that is, and lists other foods that can be dangerous for your little one.

Here is a list of the top ten edible choking hazards for kids. Not included on the list, but also worthy of note are dried fruits, marshmallows, gummy candies, nut butters, stringy foods, whole olives, and melted cheese. Popcorn is especially dangerous, and there are so many other choices for healthy snacks, it's not worth the risk.

Other foods that you should avoid are sprouts, and obviously undercooked meats and eggs.

This is by no means a complete list, and foods to avoid/how long to avoid them can vary from child to child based on family history of allergies, among other things. So check with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

Have a great Monday.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chocolate Maple Pudding and a bakefail of epic proportions

When someone experiences failure of extremely epic proportions, there is nothing more natural that said person can do than to photograph the failure and mock oneself on the interwebs for the masses to chuckle and guffaw at.


are eclairs.....

I know, I don't believe it either and I made them. I promised my facebook fans that my next attempt at egg free baking would be eclairs. Attempt was certainly the word here. Why post pictures? Well, I'm not quite sure. I am not the type of person to pretend I don't make mistakes, I am the type of person to laugh at my mistakes, and now I would like to invite you to laugh along side me. When adjusting to a new diet we all have bakefails. I am determined to figure out a breakfast that we can all eat on Christmas morning......egg free, soy free eclairs will apparently not be on the menu.

Let's backtrack shall we. They started out so promising.....

See, at this point I'm thinking....this is so easy, I have mastered the secret to egg free cooking....I'm full of all the confidence and sense of accomplishment of someone who has not yet seen this....

Oh snap!!!! At this point there was not much to do with them, I put them back in the oven hoping something would happen (maybe they would reflate) like they would crisp up or something.

Yikes!! I know what I did wrong. One, I messed with a french pastry recipe, and two, I used too much oil. I hope this has been educational for you all. Perhaps someone browsing the interweb for egg free baking recipes will find this and bake with confidence knowing that they can not mess up this badly. They were still tasty mind you, my husband loved them. I sandwiched them with chocolate maple pudding that was super tasty, which is why I am sharing that recipe with you.

Maple Pudding and Chocolate Maple Pudding variation

1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
pinch o' salt
6tbs maple syrup
2 cups milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk thoroughly.

Add the maple syrup slowly about 1tbs at a time, whisking between each addition.

Cook stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved (about three minutes).

Add the milk slowly whisking as you pour and let the milk come to a light simmer (no boiling please). Everything I've read says you are supposed to constantly whisk....but I don't, and I've never had a problem with lumps.

Once the pudding has thickened turn off the heat. At this point you can either just stir in the vanilla for maple can stir in the chocolate chips, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir until all of the chocolate chips have melted.


Avocado Sandwich Spread or Dip

I am not going to call this an egg free substitute for mayonnaise, because you couldn't really use it to replace mayonnaise in recipes. It does make a very tasty sandwich spread though. So in our house we will be using it as an egg free, soy free mayo/ranch alternative. It also works great as a dip. This isn't so much of an actual recipe as a, "here is a vague outline of what I did, with some pictures and witty banter thrown in". So now go out there and adjust it to your own taste preferences and dietary restrictions.:)

The only downside to this is that avocado turns brown and I didn't add enough lemon juice to prevent it. If you make this, you have to use it quickly, or you have to get over that lovely shade of greenish brown (that always reminds me of Linda Blair) being on your sandwich or quesadilla.

All I did was throw 2 tbs of yogurt, two avocados (washed, peeled, pitted) and the juice of one lemon into the food processor. Then I added ranch dressing mix to taste. I've found packets of ranch dressing mix on the shelves that my met our dietary restrictions before, however....I did not love them. I wanted to...believe me, but it was just not meant to be. Try making your own, you can adjust the sodium, spices, and there are even dairy free recipes out there.

This made it's way into the kids muffin tin snacks the other day, check it out....

The theme was "A". A is for apple slices, avocado dip, and ants on a log. The kids gobbled this whole tray up in no time flat. I got the idea for serving it in a muffin tin over here, at Mama to 4 blessings, our homeschool blog.

Might I also suggest you try it on a veggie burger....good stuff!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry salsa on top of plain yogurt....surrounded by black bean and cheddar quesadilla "petals"

I love sweet and spicy....I think I've established that pretty well at this point. One of my favorite places to eat in town has this mango habenero salsa that is sooooo good. Well it got me thinking about other fruit salsas, and I thought how about cranberry? You could actually chop all the ingredients up really small and mix them together with lemon juice for a chunky salsa, but I can't do that....because then my daughter would know there were onions on it....and then she would have to vomit at the dinner table....again.

I used this salsa to make a cute quesadilla flower for my daughter with the salsa in the middle and quesadilla "petals" surrounding it. This recipe can easily be adjusted to suit your own taste, try more or less jalapenos or different types of could even substitute a different type of dried fruit...apricot, mango....whatever. This salsa is also really good on nachos, spread on a sandwich, as a dip, or poured over cream cheese.

Oohh and in other cool news, I'm adding a "football" tag. So you will be able to browse through my site for recipes that (I think) would be great to munch on during a game.

1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (washed really well)
1 clove of garlic
2 tbs sliced jalapeno or other pepper to taste
1 lemon worth of juice

Put all of the ingredients into food processor and process until desired consistency.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lentil Croquettes

We are about to spend 450 dollars on a plumber. It is going to be ok though, because I will just take it from our food budget for the month.....let's see...
wait a minute, let me do the math.....
Yes, we will still have -50 dollars for groceries....



And my husbands birthday is coming up....

double craw fish.

Ever have a month like this? We will actually be ok, the money will come out of our emergency fund. However, I like to replace that fund as quickly as possible. So I am hoping to cut down on our grocery bill this month in order to pay our savings back.

One of the recipes I turn to when money is tight is lentil croquettes. They are filling, tasty, and cheap. You can dress them up with Indian spices, or sauces, such as tomato chutney.

Lentil croquettes are basically caramelized onions, lentils and bread crumbs shaped into patties. The full recipe is from the book "Vegetarian Cooking for everyone". I think this book is another must have. It's really quite fantastic. So once again I have no recipe (sorry) or picture.....all I have is this horrible heat induced migraine and a cup of chamomile tea...mmmmm.

Perhaps while I'm recovering you could keep yourself busy by telling me your favorite super cheap go to when you have to drop half a thou on pipes of all the stupid things, when what you really need is pants that fit.....hmmmm....just tell me about your favorite cheap dinner. :)

Or you could check out some of my other posts that include recipes and are some of my faves!

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