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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: recipes, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 211
26. Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon, Tomato, and Oregano

Chopped Chicken  How about a final soup to say good-bye to cold-weather? Am I jinxing us just writing that?

I was going to call this a Greek chicken soup, but it’s really just Greek-inspired. I like to make it when I’m feeling a little tired of our usual chicken noodle with carrot and onion version.

This is less a recipe and more an idea for flavors.

You need:

–chopped cooked chicken (I usually poach* some breasts. Roasting bone-in is probably the most flavorful way you could go, but poaching is quick and painless)

–chicken broth (I use chicken base and water)

–cooked rice

–pre-cooked or drained and rinsed canned white beans. I like navy beans.

Assemble and heat gently until hot. Then add:

–chopped tomatoes (I used cherry ones since they’re always available and good)

–oregano (I grow it in the back yard, but dried is also ok—-as I look at my photo I see what appears to be parsley. hmmm…well, that will work, too and is also growing in the back yard)

–juice from 1/4 to 1/2 lemon

Enjoy! For more of my cooking and eating adventures, click here.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Hoping the weather is sunny and warm wherever you are.

Things making me happy this week (besides the lovely weather): I discovered the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. Smart people talking about tv and movies. A dream!

Speaking of dreaming, I’ve been tweeting what my imaginary personal chef would make me for lunch if she existed. If you want to dream-eat with me, find me @emilysmithpearc on Twitter.

Also, Call the Midwife is back! And, I finished a draft of my nonfiction manuscript and sent it off for comment. Wahoo!

And now, trying very hard to focus on finishing this draft of my novel. Nose to grindstone.

*Poaching is like allllmost boiling something, but don’t let it come to a boil. Cook slowly at the almost boiling point until done, and you’ll have tender chicken. Boiling will give you a rubbery mess.

See you again soon!


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27. Boxes and Patterns and Templates

Vicki Vinton's recent post about the overuse of graphic organizers was thought-provoking. Is even the thoughtful use of an occasional teacher-made or teacher-provided organizer in order to acquaint children with the kinds of tasks they will be asked to do on a high-stakes (we're talking fail-the-grade high stakes) test overuse? We think not. There needs to be a balance. But by balance, we're not suggesting one-for-one. Balance to us goes back to "sparingly" and "thoughtful."

I was thinking of Vicki's post yesterday at Environmental Club. I provided students with teasel seed heads (harvested from the weedy area along the train tracks in my neighborhood),

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Hornet Photography
and felt, pom-poms, pipe cleaners, google eyes, clothespins and magnetic tape. The goal...or I should say, MY goal, MY idea, was to decorate the clothespin and make a refrigerator magnet that would hold their papers. I sat and cut felt and pipe cleaners for them while they worked. Here's a sampling of what they made:









Most of the outcomes bore no resemblance to the idea I had in my head when I bought/gathered the supplies. Free to make whatever they wanted, they made some AMAZING creations! (And a huge mess...) It didn't matter. I intentionally hadn't provided a pattern, so I celebrated every creation. 

When I opened Blogger to begin this post about boxes and organizers and patterns, I was struck by what met me: a template. With pre-set boxes to be filled. And I have no problem with that. Would I want to sit down to a blank page every time I write a post and create the formatting? I think not! 

Next weekend, I will make my famous three-layer-from-scratch chocolate cake. It will take some improvising: the recipient wants coffee buttercream instead of the usual frosting. But will I try to bake the cake and make the buttercream without a recipe? Nope. 

On the other hand, as I try, without success, to pin myself down on my Poetry Month poem-a-day project, I find I'm leaning more and more to something very unstructured and spontaneous. Last year's "Common Inspiration--Uncommon Creations" was a huge success and loads of fun...and very structured. 

So in life, as well as in our classrooms, it shouldn't (even can't) be either/or: ALL structure or ALL freedom. We need to notice WHEN we need an organizer or a pattern, a template or a recipe, and when we can do away with them and create freely.


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28. Go Green Part 1

With St. Patrick’s Day arriving next week, why not plan a Green Day and serve green foods, wear as much green as you can and plant some seeds in a pot to get a head start on the growing season. Lettuce, parsley, and chives are all quick sprouters and don’t mind the chilly days of early spring.   While you wait for the lettuce greens to grow, try this recipe for a healthy green salad:

MIXED GREENS SALAD:  1. Wash and pat dry a mix of salad greens such as romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, or any combination you like. Now the tasty fun begins.

Add any or all of the following to make a plain salad a satisfying main dish: sliced cucumbers, olives, shredded carrots, dried cherries or cranberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or grapes. Add toasted, slivered almonds or walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and grated Parmesan cheese (or any cheese of your choice). If you’re a vegetarian, you can stop here.   salmon salad

The photo version has a packet of salmon on top. I’ve eaten it with shredded chicken or tuna as well. ANY leftover meat works well.

Sprinkle with your favorite dressing – I used a raspberry balsamic with olive oil – and serve with breadsticks or garlic toast and you will get rave reviews.

Another GREEN food treat that is fun and easy for kids to make is KALE CHIPS.  Check the recipe section of this blog for the recipe.

Stay tuned for some kid-friendly gardening tips to make things turn green in your own backyard.

 


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29. Irish Soda Bread

This recipe for Soda Bread is more moist than many thanks to the buttermilk.  If you can’t find buttermilk, use regular plain yogurt (NOT Greek).

Irish Soda Bread

4 C flour (I use 1C whole wheat)       ½ C sugar       1 T baking powder

1 t salt               1 t baking soda         1 C. raisins plumped (see note)

 4 T melted butter        1 ½ C buttermilk      1 lg. egg

  1. Preheat oven to 375.  Grease and flour a round pan or cookie sheet.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, powder and salt.
  3. Pour melted butter into dry ingredients and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in raisins.
  4. In a separate bowl beat buttermilk, egg and baking soda.  Add to flour mix until blended.
  5. Turn dough onto floured surface, and knead until smooth – about 1 minute.  If dough is sticky, flour your hands as you knead.  Shape dough into two round loaves.  soda bread 1
  6. Place dough in prepared pan. With a sharp knife, make 2 crisscross slits in dough.
  7. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.  Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.
  8. Serve sliced with butter or jam.  Bet you can’t eat just one piece!

soda bread 2

NOTE: Pour boiling water over the raisins and let them stand for 5 minutes to soften.  Drain and pat dry.

 


1 Comments on Irish Soda Bread, last added: 3/15/2014
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30. Flipping all year long

Today is Pancake Day! Also called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday if you take part in Lent. It’s traditionally a day to eat up all sorts of yummy things in your house that you are promising not to eat during Lent, like chocolate. It’s a long month if you’re giving up your junkiest habit so first of all you need to eat a shed-load of pancakes.

It’s strange people MAKE and EAT pancakes only one day a year.

HOW ODD?! Why only eat such a great food one day out of 365? We must change this silliness once and for all.

But how? …Time for a Seed Agent Mission.

WHAT IF?! We rename pancakes Flippers! Every time we make a pancake we call it a Flipper. Everytime we eat a pancake we call it Flipper. Everytime we see a pancake we call it a Flipper. Soon the world will call pancakes – Flippers!! And then we can eat Flippers ALL year round, and not just on Fat Tuesday.

There’s nothing that can’t be used to fill a flipper, sweet or savoury, hot or cold, the choice is yours Seed Agents! Try some veg-flippers! “Move along old-school lemon and sugar”, “Bye-bye gooey joys of chocolate”, “Hello pongy cheese, spinach and mushrooms!”

Have a go at making your own flippers here and experiment eating them with different fillings. Discover which one you like best!

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31. OutTakes: Publicity for Your Book


READ A SAMPLE CHAPTER: Now Available

The Girl, the Gypsy & the Gargoyle by Darcy Pattison.

When you buy a DVD these days, you expect something extra than what you saw in the store. You expect to see a Director’s Cut, interviews with cast/crew/directors/critics, insider info or jokes, deleted scenes and outtakes. What’s your favorite kind of ancillary materials? What do you buy the DVD for? And how can you translate this to your own book marketing?

As you are writing, think about these extras that you can add on your author website. Here are some things you can do as you write your story:

Stop and Write an Essay. In the midst of writing your novel or picture book, stop and write an essay. We know that stories shouldn’t preach, but should tell a story. So write an essay that delves deeply into the themes of your story. Why does this story hold passion for you? Here’s Kate DiCamillo talking about the super squirrel in the 2014 Newbery award book, Flora and Ulysses. Yes. Think about what you might write for a newspaper article! But strike while the moment is hot, while you are writing the story. Then you’ll be ready when the invitations for featured articles come your way.

Recipes, coloring pages, play lists. What sorts of things relate to your story? If you like to doodle, but you know you’re not ready for prime time, use the doodles to create a coloring page, or a creative coloring page. My current series about aliens on Earth involves recipes and I’m gathering great ones for the launch of that book. Many authors create playlists they listen to when they write a particular story.

GGGCover-250x387-150Outtakes or deleted scenes. Personally, I think this takes guts! But I am trying this on my new novel, THE GIRL, THE GYPSY AND THE GARGOYLE. I wrote a prologue for the book, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t use it. That’s what we do, we try different directions and try new things. For this story, there’s a Gargoyle Man whose face is scarred and I felt a need to know him better. So, I wrote the prologue about how he and his brother–the Gimpel brothers–discovered a magical stone. Read the outtake and a sample chapter here.

Just out of curiosity, I’d love to see a “Director’s Cut” for a novel, the novel the way the author him/herself might have edited it. Sure, I know that’s probably not possible; and it would be a gutsy thing to do. But it would be fascinating.

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32. Gluten-Free Almondy Cut-Out Cookies

Gluten-Free Cutout Cookies

Turns out my recipe for almondy cookies easily adapts to a gluten-free version. I made a half-batch last week just to test it out. Everyone loved them, including visiting gluten-eaters. They are not too sweet and have a nice shortbready-type texture.

I make my own gluten-free flour blend in large batches according to the recipe in Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking, but you could probably use any GF flour blend.

GLUTEN-FREE ALMONDY CUT-OUT COOKIES (adapted from this cooks.com recipe)

Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cutters, but you can easily halve it if you don’t want that many.

2 sticks butter (I’ll have to try subbing coconut oil another time….)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 1/2 cups almond meal

3 cups gluten-free flour blend (homemade or purchased)

pinch of salt

Cream together butter, sugar, egg, and almond extract. Beat in flour, almond meal, and salt.

Make a ball and flatten it, wrap in wax paper and place in the fridge for an hour or a day.

Preheat oven to 325°, roll out dough, and use cutters to cut shapes. Ours were a little thicker—in the 1/4 inch range, but you could go thinner, depending on how crispy or chewy you want yours. Just watch the time—you definitely don’t want to overcook them.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or more. They should be very lightly browned. I should’ve cooked ours a little longer, but I got impatient.

I’m tempted to up the almond meal further and lower the flour portion. Maybe next time. Also hoping to try out a GF molasses cookie recipe. Stay tuned. For other eating and cooking adventures (including gluten-free) click here.


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33. Simplest Curried Pumpkin Soup

Golden Nugget Squash

I was in Trader Joe’s yesterday, and my eyes landed on these beauties. According to TJ’s, they are “Gold Nugget Squash,” but they’re similar what we called Hokkaido pumpkins in Germany, and I knew I just had to have some pumpkin soup for lunch. I’d been looking for some similar pumpkins here, but this was the first time I’d seen anything close.

I was psyched to find that the Gold Nugget cooked up just like a Hokkaido, which is loads better than a pie pumpkin when it comes to soup-making.

I wanted to recreate some soup, chef unknown, that I’d had at a school function, but I didn’t want to spend my day making soup, since it was just for me. Sadly, the family is not nearly as enthusiastic about pumpkin soup as I am.  All the recipes I could find were pretty involved, so I came up with my own.

I’m sure the “involved” recipes are, you know, fancier, but this method totally floated my boat. Super delicious and easy! Here’s my Amelia-Bedelia* recipe:

Simplest Curried Pumpkin Soup

1 thin-skinned, dark red pumpkin/ squash (My pumpkin was about the size of a grapefruit. Adjust spices up if your pumpkin is bigger, always tasting to see if it suits you).

water

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

a few sprinkles dried onion flakes

a few sprinkles garlic powder

small sprinkle red pepper flakes

salt to taste

One of these gold nuggets made about 3-4 bowls of soup (umm….yes, I ate it all in one sitting).

Preheat the oven (I used the toaster oven) to 375 degrees F. Prick the skin of the pumpkin a few times with a fork or knife tip. Roast whole until it’s nice and tender. I think mine took about 35 minutes or so. At this point, you could set it aside to cool and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the soup.

Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Now scoop the flesh out of the skin, and if you have a hand blender, place directly in your soup pot. I mashed mine a little with the potato masher. Add a cup or so of water, mash a little more, and then puree with the hand blender. Add more water if needed to make it the consistency you like.

Alternatively you could place the pumpkin flesh in your blender with water, then empty the puree into your soup pot.

Okay, you’ve got pumpkin puree. Now heat slowly and season with the spices to your taste. I used Penzey’s mild curry powder, which worked beautifully.

Serve and eat. I added a squeeze of lime and a dash of Sriracha sauce to mine. This is definitely going into my rotation for as long as I can get my hands on those little pumpkins!

*for friends unfamiliar with Amelia Bedelia, she’s a children’s book character. Ms. Bedelia is a little dim with housework, but her saving grace is her fabulous no-recipe cooking. She cooks with ”a little of this, a little of that.”

It’s been Soup Central around here, with tomato soup, golden chick pea soup, and coming tomorrow, chili. For more of my less-meatarian cooking posts, look here. What have you been cooking lately?

Meanwhile I think our costumes are allllllmost finished. Just need to paint our little ninja’s cardboard weapon. Hope to post directions for his tunic soon. Happy Halloween!

Curried Pumpkin Soup


2 Comments on Simplest Curried Pumpkin Soup, last added: 10/30/2013
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34. Gluten-Free Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Many gluten-free baked foods taste funky to me.  This one is delicious through and through. I include links to the brands I used, so I cannot testify to the outcome if you substitute these for other brands.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large ripe or 6 extra small ripe bananas (FYI-I Live in Miami so we grow the small ones here)
  • 3/4 cup All Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Mix (I got mine at Home Goods on a fluke but you can buy online)
  • 1/4 cup Raw Coconut Flour (Can buy at Whole Foods)
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick of butter (No margarine!) Melt in microwave for 40 seconds.
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you have a convection oven, set it to the bake/convection combination setting. Spray 2 muffin tins liberally with baking spray. I use Baker’s Joy. Or you may use butter anf gluten-free flour to coat. You don’t need an electric mixer for this. You can just use a whisk.

In large mixing bowl, mash bananas well with potato masher. Add eggs and mix well. Add melted butter slowly so you don’t cook the eggs. Add brown sugar and mix well. Add vanilla. Combine dry ingredients – flour, coconut, salt, baking powder, cinnamon. fold into wet ingredients. Mix in chocolate chips.

Spoon in muffin pans. I put batter all the way to the top of opening so they bake with a nice big muffin top. (This is the only place in life where a muffin top is a good thing!) This recipe will make between 16 and 20 muffins. Bake until tops are light brown, from 20-25 minutes. If you have a convection oven, they will bake faster so check after 15 minutes. Cool on a rack. Eat when it’s still warm! These freeze well.

 

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35. Help Fight Childhood Cancer

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Most of us know first hand how devastating cancer can be.  It is especially difficult when a child is struggling with the disease.  You and your kids can help fund much-needed research by hosting a BAKE SALE.  For information, go to:  http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org

Here is a delicious cookie recipe to get you started.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C white flour      3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour     1/2 C rolled oats      1 tsp baking soda

1 stick softened butter     1/2 C canola oil    1/2 C granulated sugar    1/2 C brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla         2 lg eggs      2 C chocolate morsels      1 C chopped walnuts or other nut of choice

1. Heat oven to 375.  Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

2. Beat butter, oil, sugars and vanilla in large until creamy.  Add eggs and beat until blended.

3. Gradually add dry ingredients and nuts. Mix until combined.                  cookies

4. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Remove from pans to cool.

These cookies freeze well and can be jazzed up with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries or whatever other dried fruit you enjoy.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.


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36. Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills - Review and Recipe


Thanks to Claudia Mills and FSG for inviting me to kick off the Zero Tolerance blog tour!
Make sure you check out Claudia's guest post and giveaway, too. 


Publication date: 18 June 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Category: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Keywords: School controversy, friendship, family, values, morality
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Source: Library; Netgalley


Synopsis:

Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a paring knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's ironclad no weapons policy. While there, Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be--and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life with Zero Tolerance.

Review:

I was initially drawn to read this by the great cover art by Vera Brosgol (author-illustrator of Anya's Ghost -- note, not all her artwork is SFW ;) Sierra's worried brows striking just the right gesture of uncertainty towards the green apple on top of her head, William Tell-style, with the subtle background behind her forming a target. The symbolism of the apple is so clever--not just its part in setting off the events in the book, but also the reference to apples for teachers, that iconic fruit for teacher's pets. I started this late one night and finished around 3 am, earning it the Stay up all night rating!

Careful plotting and great characters are what make this middle grade novel by Claudia Mills so compelling to read. The book centers not necessarily around the zero tolerance policy that Sierra unwittingly breaks, but around the idea that right and wrong aren't always clearly defined. For a goody-two-shoes like Sierra and the other good girls she hangs around with, everything seems black-and-white... until she gets suspended and put on a track towards expulsion.

Her perspective shaken off its axis, Sierra starts to see people differently: Mr. Besser, the school principal she had previously viewed with an almost worshipful eye; her lawyer dad, who might not be handling the situation in a completely above-board way; and her friends, especially a cute boy named Colin who sticks up for her, but maybe not for the reasons she wishes he would. Then there's the hyperactive Luke, perennially suspended but not exactly bad-to-the-bone. Sierra starts to make impulsive, spiteful decisions she will later regret. As the consequences start to pile up, she needs to re-balance her views of good and bad if she is ever going to be able to make things right again.

There are a couple of words used that might make this objectionable for parents (assuming it's assigned for school reading), however I think Sierra's attitude towards swearing and how it changes throughout the book is a great way to broach the topic with tweens and younger teens (who, lets face it, probably swear a lot more than their parents think they do). Counterbalance that analysis with the school's creed: RULES - RESPECT - RESPONSIBILITY - RELIABILITY, and you've got quite a lot to talk about. The author provides a discussion guide with activity ideas on her website. 

I think this would make a great family tv-movie. Nick Offerman would make a great Mr. Besser; Joel McHale and Alison Brie could play Sierra's dad and mom. I don't know of any young actresses that could really pull off the various emotions and attitudes that Sierra goes through, do you?

Lastly, Sierra's mom keeps trying to keep her spirits up. She's affectionate and loving, but most noticeably (as most good moms do) she keeps feeding Sierra comfort foods. As the book goes on and Sierra becomes more and more disgusted by her own actions, she develops aversions to particular foods. I can't say I blame her! If only she hadn't brought that knife to school by accident... So below, I've included some ideas for apple nachos--if you're a kid, have an adult help you with the chopping and heating parts. You can vary the amounts as you wish, but for a lot of the toppings just a tablespoon of each will do. Recipes for the sauces follow. I'll try to update this post with more photos when I can make the other variations. And please, remember to leave the knife at home!

Enjoy!


Apple Nachos


"The Sweet Sierra"

Ingredients:
An apple, any variety
A lemon
Assorted toppings

Equipment:
A knife
A cutting board
A mixing bowl
A serving plate (or a container with an air-tight lid if you're taking it to school)

Makes 1-2 servings

  1. Wash and dry an apple. You can peel the skin off if you want to, but I like to keep it on unless it's a variety that has a bitter or waxy skin. 
  2. With an adult's help, chop the apple into quarters. Carefully cut out the core with the stem and seeds, then slice each quarter into thinner slices. These are your "chips".
  3. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl.
  4. Toss the apple chips in the lemon juice and let them soak for a minute. This will stop them from turning brown right away. Drain and pat the apple chips dry with a paper towel.
  5. Arrange the slices on a plate and add your choice of toppings. You can drizzle the sauces on or put them on the side for dipping.
  6. Eat it right away, or take it to school with you.
Suggested Toppings:

The Sweet Sierra (pictured above)
the sweet and sour variation
Dulce de leche or caramel sauce + raisins + mini chocolate chips + shredded coconut

Media Circus
the nutty variation
Peanut butter sauce + raisins + chopped pecans + banana slices


The Principal Besser
the school lunch variation
Nacho cheese (yes, apples taste great with cheese!)
+ diced tomatoes, olives, and jalapeños (optional)


The Gerald Edward Shepard, Esquire
the fine dining variation
Extra-virgin olive oil + balsamic glaze or vinegar
+ pine nuts + crushed dried basil or oregano + parmesan cheese
(You can toss a little crushed garlic in there if you're really feeling brave)

The Cornflake
the French toast variation
Maple syrup + crumbled shredded wheat or other cereal + cinnamon sugar


The Angie Shepard
the tough cookie variation
Cookie butter sauce + slivered almonds + dried cranberries


The Comfort of Friends
the hot chocolate variation
Chocolate syrup + mini marshmallows + whipped cream*


*You're going to want to eat this right away, unless you for some reason have access to a refrigerator at school. You can also toast this combo after adding marshmallows but before adding the chocolate syrup and whipped cream!

Credit: I first found this recipe on Allyson Kramer's blog.

***

Caramel sauce (based on Ree Drummond's ingredients)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp half and half, heavy whipping cream, or milk
1/2 Tbsp butter
Tiny pinch of salt
A few drops of vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together all the ingredients except the vanilla. When the sauce has melted and blended together (about 1 minute), stir in the vanilla. Turn off the heat and keep stirring all the while to help it cool down. When it is no longer very hot, pour over apple nachos.

***

Peanut butter sauce
2 Tbsp peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
1 Tbsp half and half, heavy whipping cream, or milk
1 Tbsp white or brown sugar
Tiny pinch of salt
1 tsp maple syrup or light corn syrup

In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together all the ingredients until well blended. Turn off the heat and keep stirring all the while to help it cool down. When it is no longer very hot, pour over apple nachos.

***

Cookie butter sauce
2 Tbsp cookie butter, regular or crunchy
1 Tbsp half and half, heavy whipping cream, or milk
1 Tbsp white or brown sugar
Tiny pinch of salt

In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together all the ingredients until well blended. Turn off the heat and keep stirring all the while to help it cool down. When it is no longer very hot, pour over apple nachos.

***

I used a Granny Smith apple for The Sweet Sierra variation since it's a little tart -- it balances out all the sweet stuff and I thought this represented Sierra's character changes throughout the book. I used Gala apples for all the rest but you can use any kind you like or have available. I also used Mallow Bits for the hot chocolate variation, but use regular mini-marshmallows if you're going to toast it.


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37. Cooking With Kids 101

There are so many recipes made for kids who are interested in learning how to prepare or cook simple meals. Depending on the age of the child, all children can lend a hand in the kitchen.  It is a great way to build self-esteem and get your child to try new foods.  When he or she has helped prepare a meal, tasting the food is part of that job.

Some simple kitchen and meal prep tasks are:  chopping or dicing vegetables, spreading butter or other condiments onto bread, grating cheese, mixing sauces, beating eggs, tearing lettuce for salads, measuring ingredients for baking, rolling out dough, sifting flour, stirring, coating chicken in breadcrumbs.  I’m sure you can think of many more.  Will the kitchen be messier when kids participate in cooking?  Sure, but clean up is part of the job.

Being competent in the kitchen is not only a necessary life skill, it increases awareness of what goes into a meal and where food comes from.  It also can lead to our children making better, healthier food choices. And, it’s a way for busy families to connect and have some time together.  Everyone has to eat.  Involve the kids and make meal time a family affair.  Here are two web sites for inspiration:  http://www.cookinggames.com     and  bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/kids-baking


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38. Got Peaches?

I don’t know what it’s been like in your part of the world, but here in NJ we have had a bumper crop of sweet, juicy peaches this summer.  IN addition to eating them out of hand, I’ve made peach crisp, peach pie, and peach smoothies.  But here is a simple recipe you and the kids can use to make the taste of summer last a bit longer.  Try making some homemade Peach Jam.
peaches

1. Place 6 large peaches in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute; rinse in cold water and peel.

2. Remove pits and cut peaches into wedges until you have about 6 cups.

3. Transfer to a food processor until coarsely chopped.  NO food processor?  chop or dice by hand.

4.In a medium stainless steel saucepan, (don’t use aluminum…the acid in the peaches leaches out the aluminum and not only gives the peaches a bad taste, it gives the body unwanted aluminum) combine peaches, 2 cups of sugar, 2T chopped ginger, 1 T lemon juice and 1/4 t. salt.   This is medium sweet.  Feel free to adjust the sugar if you like it less sweet or more sweet. 

5. Simmer over medium heat, stirring now and then until thick.  It should take about 30 minutes.  Ladle into mason jars and cool.  Refrigerate overnight.

You can store this for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.  Makes a great last minute gift for a picnic or barbeque.  Serve it over ice cream and watch the rave reviews.


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39. Cereal Mash-Ups – a tasty way to start the day

Youngsters today mash up their music, mixing two tracks to make a third. Well, oldsters like me mash up their cereal. I have done since my student days when I discovered that Alpen tasted better mixed with sugar puffs. These … Continue reading

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40. Make Ooblick For Summer Fun

Oobleck was the name given to a type of slime in a Dr. Seuss book that was capable of gumming up a whole kingdom. The oobleck the you can make for a science project isn’t gummy, but it does have interesting properties of both solids and liquids. It normally behaves like a liquid or jelly, but if you squeeze it in your hand, it will seem like a solid. This recipe and article were taken from: chemistry.about.com  How to Make Ooblick by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

 

Difficulty Level:   Easy     Time Required: 10-15 minutes

You Will Need

water         corn starch       food coloring (optional)

1.     Mix 1 part water with 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch. You may wish to start with one cup of water and one and a half cups of cornstarch, then work in more cornstarch if you want a more ‘solid’ oobleck. It will take about 10 minutes of mixing to get nice homogeneous oobleck.

  1. Mix in a few drops of food coloring if you want colored oobleck.

Tips:

  1. Oobleck is a type of non-Newtonian fluid called a dilatant.
  2. If you slowly lower your hand into oobleck, it will sink, but it is difficult to quickly remove your hand (without taking all the oobleck and its container with you).
  3. If you squeeze or punch the oobleck, the starch particles will not move out of the way quickly, so the oobleck will feel solid.
  4. Oobleck can be molded in a container, but when the mold is removed, the oobleck will lose its shape.

If you want to learn more about cool chemistry projects check these links:


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41. No-Bake Picnic Treats

What’s not to love about Rice Krispie Treats? They’re sweet, chewy and crunchy all rolled into one.  It’s hard for me to stop from eating a whole pan myself.  Here is a way to make them a bit more nutritious and guilt-free.

Add 2 T of peanut butter or almond butter to the melted marshmallow mixture until it is dissolved.

Along with the crispy rice cereal, mix a combination of some or all of the following to equal 6 C:  dry, uncooked oats, Cheerios, sunflower seeds, granola, crushed peanuts or almonds, a handful of mini chocolate morsels, coconut.

Stir the dry ingredients into the melted marshmallow mix until coated.  Press into a greased pan and when firm, cut into squares.  Enjoy. They are still a winner, with the  added nutritional bonus.


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42. Review for Ava's Secret Tea Party

A new review has been posted on Amazon for "Ava's Secret Tea Party."  "Donna J. Shepherd's new book, "Ava's Secret Tea Party," illustrated by Bella Sinclair, is every little girl's secret dream! Who wouldn't want to invite the Sandman, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus to come for tea? This is another one of those books that children's book writers see and say, "Now why

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43. More Free Summer Fun and Games

There are some great websites with all kinds of activities for children of all ages.  Here are three that have a wealth of outdoor games, activities and recipes for fun all summer long.

1. spoonful.com:  Water games, scavenger hunt, Tacos and Bridges (check it out!) and lots more .

2. Parenting.com: Eleven water games and other activities for kids.  We all knew water was fun.  These activities will keep the kids cool on a hot day.

3. Alphamom.com   has games such as driveway baseball, elbow tag, musical sprinklers and more.  These games are great for parties and get-togethers.

Kind of makes me wish I was a kid again.  It’s a great excuse to put on a swimsuit and join the fun!


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44. Roasted Cauliflower with Olives, Capers, and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Roasted Cauliflower

I’m on a cauliflower kick, what can I say? I seem to be eating a lot of it, roasted, with various toppings. I think it’s because my friend Laurel mentioned it, then it was in the paper (something about a cauliflower trend—yes I still read a paper paper) and then I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

Besides cutting out wheat, I’m avoiding large servings of grains in general, so the idea of something mild  and non-grain that takes flavors very well —–a sauce depository, if you will—-is very appealing. I was never a huge fan of cauliflower in the past, but I think, as with many veggies, I just had to find my favorite cooking method. Roasting wins.

Roasted Cauliflower

First, preheat the oven to 375F. Slice the cauliflower into pieces about 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch thick, brush with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes (just like the broccoli here). If you’re going to make the vinaigrette below, throw in a clove or two of garlic and roast them while you’re at it.

When the cauliflower is tender but still firm, with browning on the edges, it’s done. At least, that’s the done-ness I like.

At this point you could serve it with any number of sauces or toppings: peanut sauce? bread crumb/ nut topping? curry?

I made this vinaigrette in homage to a bread dipping sauce from a favorite restaurant, Passion8 Bistro in Fort Mill. Charlotte area friends, seriously, you MUST go there. It’s this funky little farm-to-fork place in the middle of nowhere. Besides great food, it has loads of character.

But I digress.

The vinaigrette is a loose combination of:

Olive Oil

Roasted Garlic, minced

Chopped Olives (I used green ones but kalamata would be excellent)

a spoonful of Capers

a judicious amount of red pepper flakes (I’m addicted)

Red Wine Vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

I usually do a little more olive oil than vinegar and just add however much I like of the rest of the stuff, to taste.

Charlotte friends, I feel compelled to mention a couple of places we’ve eaten recently that, in addition to Passion8 Bistro, were just outstanding.

  • The King’s Kitchen (which is owned by the same guy that owns Roosters, which I also love) is outstanding—-sort of re-imagined upscale meat and three, and btw it’s non-profit, which is totally fascinating and you should read about it on their website. I had the hangar steak. Yum!
  • Doan’s Vietnamese Restaurant: try the hotpots!! It’s like a Vietnamese broth fondue. So excellent and fun. Best tomyum broth I’ve ever had.
  • And one more: Zeitouni’s Mediterranean Grill at Toringdon in Ballantyne. Seriously, how did I not get a clue about this place earlier? The falafel is TO DIE FOR!

Okay, that’s a lot of exclamation points, but really, it’s been good dining lately. What about you? What’s got you inspired in the kitchen/ out to eat lately?


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45. It’s National Chocolate Chip Day…Got Cookies?

National Chocolate Chip Day is Wednesday May 15, 2013.  What better way to celebrate this tiny bit of heaven than to have a cookie baking party. You can find some recipes at: http://www.familycircle.com/chocolatechipcookies  or try this healthier version using oats and whole wheat pastry flour as well as canola oil to replace some of the butter.  You will NOT sacrifice taste.  While you’re at it, bake some extra and help end Childhood Hunger.

http://www.greatamericanbakesale.org inspires millions of bakers to donate the money from sold baked goods to help fight childhood hunger by contributing to SHARE OUR STRENGTH’S NO KID HUNGRY campaign fund.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C white flour      3/4 C whole wheat pastry flour     1/2 C rolled oats      1 tsp baking soda

1 stick softened butter     1/2 C canola oil    1/2 C granulated sugar    1/2 C brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla         2 lg eggs      2 C chocolate morsels      1 C chopped walnuts or other nut of choice

1. Heat oven to 375.  Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

2. Beat butter, oil, sugars and vanilla in large until creamy.  Add eggs and beat until blended.

3. Gradually add dry ingredients and nuts. Mix until combined.                  cookies

4. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Remove from pans to cool.

These cookies freeze well and can be jazzed up with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries or whatever other dried fruit you enjoy.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Celebrate the chocolate chip!  Happy eating.


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46. Spring Recipe Roundup

Sesame Noodle Salad

Has it been a little cool where you are? It kind of went from salad weather to soup weather, then back again, and it’s thrown my cooking mojo off. At least, the weather is what I’m blaming it on. It’s time for me to get inspired again.

Do you change up your menu according to the season? I really prefer (mostly) to eat colder-type items in the warm months and vice versa. I thought I’d do a little recipe roundup, mostly salads, though I realized after thinking about it that most of my spring recipes come from one source: The Foster’s Market Cookbook. I get hungry just thinking about that book. The binding in mine is literally falling apart.

Below are links to some of my favorites from Foster’s and a few others. I’d love to hear what your favorite spring salads are, too. I need inspiration!

Jeweled Rice Salad, from the great Mollie Katzen. I’ve been making this for 10+ years. It features the strange-sounding combo of grapes and chickpeas with rice, marinated in a lemon dressing and tossed with parsley, scallions and (optional) pecans. Somehow more than the sum of its parts, and *bonus* won’t be dangerous after sitting in the sun a little while. So I take it to picnics.

From Foster’s Market:

Lentil Salad with Spinach and Feta As with many a Foster’s Market gem, the fabulous dressing is the key. Here is my version with some minor changes.

Sesame Noodle Salad (pictured above) Again, fabulous dressing, this time with a nutty, citrus vibe. My take (gluten-free!) is here. Btw, does anyone know if such a thing as gluten-free soba noodles exist? I would so love some.

White Bean Salad–I do love a good marinated bean salad, and this one has sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. I haven’t made it with olives yet, but I might be ready to try. I’m only a recent olives convert.

Black Bean and Yellow Rice Salad. Think Tex-Mex beans and rice but fresher, lighter. I made this one here.

Really, just go and check out the whole salad section on Foster’s Market website or better yet buy the book. Chicken salad faves: with Tarragon, Granny Smith Apples and Red Grapeswith Tomatoes, Spinach and Dijon Vinaigrette; with Provencal vinaigrette.

This last one I recently made with half chicken, half roasted cauliflower (it has a bunch of other veggies, too), and it was most excellent. Hmmm….I wonder about subbing in roasted cauliflower in full for a vegetarian version of these. All of these chicken salads are on the lighter side, with little or no mayo, plenty of veggies and flavor.

Chicken Curry Kebabs are always a hit. We often make it for guests because everyone loves it.

Falafel (from the box—it’s all I have time for) and Tabbouleh with Tahini Sauce and sometimes also Yogurt Sauce. The two sauces and tabbouleh come from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I’m practically addicted to the Tahini Sauce, which is basically tahini thinned with water and lemon juice, plus salt + pepper and cumin.

What are some of your warm weather favorites? I’m hungry!


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47. Celebrate the Start of Summer With…Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Is there any better treat perfect for a summer picnic or backyard barbeque than homemade ice cream sandwiches?  They are a big hit and simple to make.  You can make several ahead and freeze them for anytime you want a special, tasty treat.

Instead of the traditional chocolate chip cookies with vanilla, be adventurous and try peanut butter cookies with strawberry banana frozen yogurt.  Or Mint ice cream sandwiched between chocolate wafers or chocolate chunk cookies.  I don’t think there is a bad combination when it comes to ice cream or frozen yogurt and cookies. 

Two hints:  1. Make sure the cookies will hold up well when frozen.  And, 2. soften the ice cream or frozen yogurt a bit before placing a scoop on one cookie and pressing a second one to close it.  3. You can roll the sandwich in crushed nuts, coconut, mini chocolate chips or toffee bits and then place on a cookie sheet in the freezer until firm.

For more ice cream sandwich ideas visit: http://www.familycircle.com/icecreamsnadwiches


0 Comments on Celebrate the Start of Summer With…Ice Cream Sandwiches. as of 5/28/2013 7:07:00 AM
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48. Make Dad Feel Special – Part 2

Here’s the easy, kid-friendly recipe for a breakfast casserole you can assemble the night before and bake for breakfast.

BREAKFAST CASSEROLE: 1. Spray a 9×13 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.

2. Line the dish with 2 slices of bread torn into pieces.  3. Cook 1 lb. of bulk sausage and crumble it over the bread layer.  

4.Mix 2 C milk, 6 eggs, 3/4 t. dry mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over the sausage.

5. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese.  Sprinkle with paprika.

sausage,cheese and egg casserole

6. Refrigerate overnight.  Next morning, Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set.  Serve with fruit or a salad at brunch.

While it’s baking, why not do something special for/with Dad.  Here are a few ideas:  back rub, wash the car, sweep the steps and pick weeds in the garden, take out the trash, challenge him to a game of thumb wrestling, make him some popcorn and watch a movie together. offer to do an errand, 

Happy Father’s Day!


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49. Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Herby Green Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I was craving a rice salad, but without the rice. Something that’s all about soaking up a good sauce. Roasted cauliflower has been my recent go-to sauce-soaker-upper, and I was really happy with what I came up with. Here’s the skinny:

Olive Oil

1 head Cauliflower, finely chopped

2 or 3 handfuls Grape or Cherry Tomatoes

Dressing:

2 cloves Garlic

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

1 T Dijon Mustard

tiny drip of Honey (or something else if you’re vegan)

Lemon Juice

a few tablespoons or more Minced Chives

a few tablespoons or more fresh Oregano, chopped (basil or parsley would be good, too)

1 T Capers

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Oil a baking sheet and throw the cauliflower on it with a couple of garlic cloves. Roast at 375F, for about 20 minutes. Halve the tomatoes and roast them for about 20-30 minutes as well. This brings out their flavor like crazy.

I’m not really a measuring kind of person when it comes to dressing (or, let’s be honest, for a lot of things). If you really want measurements, you could use a basic vinaigrette and add the extras. I think I’d add even more herbs next time. I really wanted something that was so green it would color the cauliflower, but my herb garden wasn’t quite in full swing when I made this.

Chop up the roasted garlic and whisk it together with the other dressing ingredients.

Toss the cauliflower with the dressing and tomatoes. Add walnuts. Yum. I realized later that the dressing flavors were inspired by the broccoli gribiche recipe from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day.

What are you cooking this summer? I’m always on the lookout for interesting salads. Hope you had a great weekend and a happy Father’s Day.


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50. Happy July 4th…Free Fun.

Across the country families and communities will be celebrating our nation’s 237th birthday with parades, picnics and fireworks.  If you’d like to get in on some local fun, check out these sites.  Each has information about what’s happening in your area of the country.

1. www.Zvents.com        2.  http://www.eventbrite.com           3.  http://www.99events.com

You can also GRILL FOR A CAUSE this summer by hosting a barbecue to raise money for the USO.  When you register your event at: http://www.bbqforthetroops.org   you create a webpage where your guests can donate to support men and women in the armed forces.

July is NATIONAL ICE CREAM MONTH.  You can celebrate with your favorite treat and even try making your own.  For directions on how to make ICE CREAM IN A PLASTIC BAG go to: eHow:How to Make Ice Cream in a Bag

You can also try: http://www.pbskids.org   Homemade Ice Cream

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!


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