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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: recipes, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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26. 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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27. 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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28. 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.


3 Comments on Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills - Review and Recipe, last added: 9/6/2013
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29. 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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30. 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.


1 Comments on Got Peaches?, last added: 8/30/2013
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31. 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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32. 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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33. 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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34. 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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35. 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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36. 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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37. 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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38. 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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39. 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


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40. 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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41. 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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42. 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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43. Children’s recipe for mince sauce for spaghetti or jacket potatoes or pizza

Susan shows her new recipe book.

Diabetic Diva Susan with her latest recipe book.

I asked our friend Susan http://www.diabetic-diva.com/ also known as Diabetic Diva whether she had some recipes that children could cook with their grown up.

Diabetic recipes are ‘Healthy’ because they have limited amounts of refined sugars and salts so if you want more healthy recipes take a look at her website.
Remember you don’t have to be diabetic to enjoy Susan’s tasty recipes, in fact eating these healthy feasts can help prevent you becoming diabetic so tuck in!

TWIRLY SPAGHETTI & MINCE SAUCE

A family favourite and so easy to make. The mince can be prepared in a batch and frozen for at least 3 months. Good with jacket potatoes, rice, pasta, mock pizza.

Main ingredient: Mince beef, spaghetti Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes Serves 4:

EQUIPMENT
Chopping board
Sharp knife
Can opener
Measuring spoon
Large saucepan with lid
Wooden spoon

For spaghetti
Measuring jug
Measuring spoon
Medium size saucepan with lid
Spoon for stirring

INGREDIENTS
500g lean ground mince beef
½ sweet pepper, roughly chopped
½ onion roughly chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 jar pasta sauce
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried Italian herbs

METHOD
COOK the mince in a pot stirring with a wooden spoon until it’s brown in colour and no pink bits remain. ADD the onion and peppers and cook for another 3 minutes
NEXT add all the other ingredients and let meat mixture cook until the sauce starts to bubble. TURN the heat down to low and let this cook for at least 20 minutes
SERVE with spaghetti and a salad (even a teeny weeny one would be great) Remember your 5 A Day.

SPAGHETTI
PUT 500ml of water and ¼ tsp salt into a pot
LET it boil
ADD 100g wholemeal spaghetti to the boiling water
COOK for 8 minutes (al dente) cooked still firm
DRAIN and put on a plate
SPOON some mince sauce over
If you like sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over and dried parsley.

Try these
Make mock pizzas using the mince sauce. Slice a wholemeal French roll in 2. Spoon some of the sauce over and about 2 tbsp grated cheese. Grill under hot grill until cheese melts.

Or add red kidney beans, ½ to 1 tsp chilli powder and dried Italian herbs to make chilli.
Here is Susan cooking with some children.

Susan cooking with some young friends.

Children love to cook when there's a grown-up to help.

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44. Mapo Tofu: A Lo Family Recipe

Today is Chinese New Year! Traditionally, the night before Chinese New Year, Chinese families will gather around and eat dinner together, much like this plate from the LEE & LOW title, Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic:

Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 12.07.26 PM

Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic author and illustrator Ginnie and Beth Lo were kind enough to share one of their favorite soybean recipes with us: Mapo Tofu! While not a traditional Chinese New Year dish, the Lo sisters say that “mapo tofu is a Lo family favorite that we eat on the holidays, Christmas, and Chinese New Year.”

Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 12.07.49 PM

MAPO  TOFU

  • Stir fry in small amount of veg. oil about 1lb of ground pork unseasoned over med-med hi heat. Salt lightly. When it is just losing its pink color add 1 ½ to 2T soy sauce and 1T sugar.  Stir fry until done.  Remove from pan, set aside.
  • Stir fry one chopped onion in veg. oil until translucent.  Set aside (you can put it in with meat).
  • Stir fry in remaining oil, 2T or more hot chili sauce (hot bean paste with chile, or hot chili sauce with garlic etc.), for 30 sec – 1 minute.
  • Add  2 packages cubed firm tofu, the pork and the onion, stir fry until well combined.  Add edamame, frozen green peas and cook 10 minutes or more, until flavors are well blended.  Add salt or more hot sauce to taste.Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic art

Just before serving, remove from heat and add 3 scallions, finely chopped and 2T Chinese Sesame oil, stir and serve.

Enjoy, and feel free to let us know how it turned out!

Further reading

Angelo’s Sosa’s Chilled Edamame and Spring Pea Soup

What is Chinese New Year?


Filed under: Activities, Celebrations, Holidays Tagged: Asian/Asian American, children's books, chinese food, Chinese New Year, cooking, recipes, vegetarian cooking, Yum!

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45. White Layer Cake Supreme

I’ve never been a big fan of white layer cake, because it is usually dry and boring. But when I got my Christmas 2012 issue of Southern Living Magazine and saw the award winning white cake on the cover, I had to try it.

The recipe is simple, and it is crazy good! I made one and served it for my husband’s birthday in January. My aunt and uncle, who ate it with us, asked me to make another one 3 weeks later. As my aunt said, “I lay in bed at night and think about eating that cake!” You’ve got to make one to see what it’s all about.

Here’s a link to the recipe for Mrs. Billet’s White Cake with Buttercream Frosting. Ignore the reviews from the people who said the cake was disappointing. They simply did not follow the directions properly or don’t know how to bake. I made it twice and loved it both times, and it is not complicated.

Some tips if you make it:

  • Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature before beating them or they will not fluff up properly.
  • Beat egg whites in a stand up mixer before you start any other part of the recipe. That way you can take them out after beaten and set them aside and will not have to wash the mixing bowl before making the rest of the cake. If you make the batter first, then you’ll have to wash the mixing bowl to beat the egg whites.
  • Substitute half and half (half milk/half cream) for the milk.
  • Don’t over bake the cake layers. They bake quickly. They are done when the top is slightly brown and a knife comes out clean. If the cakes are dark brown, you’ve over baked them and they will be dry. If you have a convection oven, they will bake really quickly and in much less time than the recipe says.
  • Let the layers cool on a baking rack completely before frosting them.
  • Use only real vanilla – NOT imitation vanilla extract!
  • Use only real butter – NOT margarine!

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46. Favorite Turkey Burgers

Gluten-Free Turkey Burgers

You may think I’m a vegetarian from all my veggie posts, but I DO eat meat. Just not a lot of it. More on that here.

We love burgers around here, but I’m always trying to get my people to eat ones that don’t involve red meat. The turkey ones always seem to need a bit of doctoring, in my experience. I love the Mar-a-Lago burgers championed by Oprah, but really, they’re just too much work for a weeknight and the flavors, while delicious, don’t really go with our favorite toppings (like ketchup and pickles).

These are a good compromise, and, with a few recent tweaks, they’ve entered into that rare realm which is the full-family-seal-of-approval. Like, all four members. I’m probably jinxing that status just by typing this, but I’m willing to risk it, just for you.

My recipe is adapted from this one.

Favorite Turkey Burgers

1/2 cup rolled oats*

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (I use breast meat)*

3 TB mayonnaise

1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion (the finer the better, in order to trick the kids)

1 TB Worcestershire sauce

dash of hot sauce

good sprinkling of sweet paprika

a judicious amount of ground pepper

1. If your turkey meat is fairly dry, moisten the oats with about a tablespoon of water and let rest for a minute or two. If the meat has a fair amount of water content already, skip this step.

2. Combine with other ingredients. I hate doing this with my hands so I use two big spoons. Mix just enough to get it well-combined and make into patties.

3. You can grill these, but I find it’s actually a lot easier to cook them in my cast iron pan on the stove. They fall apart easily on the grill. I cook them at medium low for several minutes on each side to make sure they’re all the way done. This way the outsides don’t burn. Check to make sure there’s no pink.

4. Add toppings and enjoy!

*So, like many turkey burger recipes, the mother recipe called for bread crumbs. Since I’m not eating wheat, I could use GF bread crumbs, but I decided instead to try oatmeal. Bingo! Totally works and in fact is an improvement in my book.

*Last night I discovered I had a pound of turkey, not a pound and a half. The whole mixture was gooey (ew!) so I added a second half cup of oatmeal. I was a little nervous about the gamble, but they turned out great, with no comments from the peanut gallery. And as a bonus, they used less meat.

One question I have for you—-all turkey burger recipes seem to have something like mayo in them for, I guess, texture and flavor. Do you think the mayo nixes the health benefits of changing to turkey meat? Do you think I could skip it?

And one more question: anybody have a fantastic gluten-free vegan burger recipe? I know, sounds like a tall order, but I’m totally convinced there’s one out there. So far I haven’t done any trials, but let me know if you’re ahead of me.

For more recipe trials and food posts, look here.


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47. A Nutritious and Delicious Treat

The March issue GUARDIAN ANGEL KIDS magazine is available free online. This month it features stories, articles, and crafts on nutrition. The online magazine is in a flipbook format, so it's fun and easy to take a peek inside.

For a yummy, nutritious treat you can make yourself, try this recipe for Southwest BLT Rollups. You'll enjoy making them as much as eating them.


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48. Broccoli Battle Winner: Roasted with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Broccoli

The ongoing broccoli battle in our house is, I believe, finally won. No, it wasn’t over whether or not certain people will eat it. The kids don’t love it, but they’ll eat it without much of a fuss. The battle is over the best way to cook it.

Hubs prefers stir-frying with soy sauce, but I find that time-consuming and too hands-on to do all the time. For a long time my favorite method was steaming, then rolling in olive oil, garlic, and breadcrumbs. Hubs ate this broccoli dutifully but missed the stir-fry texture.

Enter Mollie Katzen’s vegetable roasting guide from Vegetable Heaven. I’ve used the roasting guide so much that the book naturally opens to that page. It’s great for many a veggie, but at our house, it’s helped us find the broccoli method that results in the perfect texture + flavor+ easy-ness.

Add a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, and you have us battling again, over seconds.

So, here’s my adaptation of the original Mollie Katzen recipe. It’s less of a recipe, more of an idea for you:

Roasted Broccoli

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Slice your broccoli florets in half. I find this helps things cook a little faster and more evenly.

Brush a cookie tray with olive oil, and arrange the florets on it.

I usually cook about 20 minutes, but check at 15 minutes to see how it’s going. Personally, I like the broccoli still firm but tender, with some brown edges.

Serve with your favorite vinaigrette. Here’s what we use:

Balsamic Vinaigrette

In a jar or bottle, combine:

about an inch Balsamic Vinegar

about an inch and a half, maybe more, Olive Oil

a big squirt/ soup spoonful Dijon Mustard (you can use powdered mustard here as a substitute)

small squirt of Honey, to taste

freshly ground Pepper

dusting to half a handful freshly grated Parmesan (*optional)

I always taste the dressing and adjust seasonings to suit.

Enjoy! For more of my cooking posts, click here or on the “Food” category.

Do NOT forget to join the giveaway for a gorgeous Dawn Hanna print. There’s no downside here, people. You won’t be added to a mailing list. Just check out her gorgeous work and decide which is your fave, then comment on it. You do not have to live in the U.S. to enter.


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49. Review: Relish- food and comics, a happy marriage

Relish by Lucy Knisley

First Second

relish Review: Relish  food and comics, a happy marriage

A few years ago, if you were told about the rise of the Internet and asked to predict one of the top things that people would blog and post about, can you honestly say food would have been up there as a contender? And by food, I don’t mean cookery, recipes and dedicated food sites, but Facebook statuses, Tweets, Instagram photos, all that jazz. Out of all the little banalities of life, who would’ve thunk that narrating what we eat would be the common denominator of web sharing, and in such a wholly ubiquitous fashion.

Telling strangers on the net what you’re eating isn’t groundbreaking, constructive or thrilling to others in any way- by and large it reflects a personal enjoyment of consumption that has or is about to take place, made more understandable, I think, if you’re of the view that food is one of life’s true pleasures, and not of my sister’s mindset; she who see food as fuel and a necessity to survive, not caring  particularly about taste as long as it’s not detrimental to her health and fulfills her needs (yes, she really is my sister).

Lucy Knisley, it’s safe to say is, is firmly in the former camp. Knisley’s Relish, a book that follows her through various periods and moments in her life framing them in relation to her culinary experiences, has been one of the most anticipated releases of the year for many- not least myself. For Knisley, these ‘taste-memories’ are no tenuous associations: she has been immersed in food culture in some form or manner since she was born- her mother a chef, her father himself a cook and discerning consoeur, her uncle owner of a food-shop selling gourmet comestibles and homemade food-  and has generally been raised in an environment filled with ‘cooks and bakers, eaters and critics.’

Relish Final small 8 Review: Relish  food and comics, a happy marriage

Growing up, food remained a strong presence in different ways; working in cheese shops, farmer’s markets, growing and sourcing ingredients, getting involved in the business side of things. So Knisley’s relationship with food is much deeper than your average persons, and despite feeling a little different for being a cartoonist, it’s a theme that turns up  naturally and with happy regularity in her work. They marry well, do food and comics.

The book is divided into chapters, with each one recounting a specific food-related memory and a recipe for that food then given at chapter’s close. Both the experiences and foods are diverse in range, from a trip to Mexico where her friend Drew learns about the penalties for smuggling porn across the border, backpacking through Europe and discovering the world’s best croissants in Venice and feverishly attempting to recreate them to no avail, to navigating horrible lemonade chicken cooked by good friends.

As someone who salivated over Enid Blyton’s terse descriptions of hard-boiled eggs and cold ginger beer, Knisley’s recollections paired with her drawings are almost a sensory overload (her move to the country with its ripe, colourful fruits and freshly plucked produce left me feeling a little light-headed).  That said, what I particularly enjoyed here wasn’t what I expected. And that’s the way in which each memory, each anecdote genuinely tells you a little about the author and her life- it’s not just ‘hey, delicious food art!’, it’s much more thoughtful and reflective than the bright colours and subject matter belie. In between food chopped and dishes cooked, there are insights into her close relationship with her mother, attempts at bonding with her father over dinners, queasy coming of age experiences shared with friends who are still friends, the developing of a cook’s resilience and tenacity.

Relish Final 111 Review: Relish  food and comics, a happy marriage

Having said that (paradoxically) -and this is my sole criticism of the book- there is a strange sense of remove and disconnect of Knisley as a character. The reader is reading about her without any strong emotional investment or relatability on her behalf. Relish arrived in the post the same day I got Christophe Blain’s In The Kitchen with Alain Passard; in that book, a charming and effusive Blain slings an arm around the readers shoulder and guides him around, managing to thoroughly absorb him, as a novice, into the life of a Michelin-starred chef. This may have something to do with the first person narration, planted in the present but talking about the past, making it difficult to get a sense of Knisley as a person today.

I’ve always been a big fan of Knisleys cartooning and it’s as accomplished and attractive as ever here, with line and expression on point. To my mind, she’s the only cartoonist who controls the art so deftly in terms of what it conveys emotionally, perfectly straddling the realms of cartoony while maintaining an aspect of brevity. Make no mistake, Relish is a great achievement, pulling off a truly tricky combination of genres and tones to produce a book that will not only make you want to get into the kitchen and fondling food at the farmer’s market, but one I am confident will be a highlight of the comics year.

Oh, and a top tip for when you’re reading this: surround yourself with tasty snacks because you will be needing them.

Relish Final 36 Review: Relish  food and comics, a happy marriage

Relish Final 37 Review: Relish  food and comics, a happy marriage

1 Comments on Review: Relish- food and comics, a happy marriage, last added: 3/12/2013
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50. Quick Black Bean and Polenta Casserole

Black Bean and Polenta Casserole

I threw this together the other night when I needed something pretty quick and had to use what I had on hand. It was a perfect easy supper.

It’s inspired by Rachael Ray’s Calabacitas Casserole, which is yummy but more involved, with no beans. I once had it at my sister-in-law’s house, and was immediately sold.

My casserole is based on three main ingredients: black beans, salsa, and pre-cooked polenta. Anything else is icing on the cake.

Quick Black Bean and Polenta Casserole

Measurements are approximated. What you want is enough salsa to give the beans plenty of flavor.

2-3 cups canned or pre-cooked black beans, drained (I used up leftovers I had cooked the day before)

1/2 to 1 jar chunky salsa (I used Herdez salsa, which was great, but would’ve been better semi-drained. I think semi-drained Ro-tel would also be excellent, and maybe even Mexican-style stewed tomatoes)

1 tube prepared polenta, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds (you could also cook your own, then chill and slice)

Olive oil

Optional add-ins: diced scallions, cilantro, chopped veggies, spinach, cheese

Preheat oven to 375 F. I made a smaller version of this (since it was just for me) and cooked it in the toaster oven.

Place the beans in an oiled casserole dish (maybe 8 x 8), and add enough salsa to suit your taste. You want a little less salsa than beans, but enough salsa to add lots of flavor. Lay the polenta rounds on top and brush them with a little olive oil.

Bake for 35 minutes or so at 375 F, then add, if you feel like it, a handful of spinach and chopped scallions, and turn up the heat to 400 F. When the spinach is wilted, the polenta is getting crispy, and the beans are bubbling, it’s done.

The polenta adds structure and has such a great creamy/ crispy texture that I really didn’t miss having cheese. This one will definitely go on my repeat list. I think I’ll add more spinach next time and maybe cilantro. Hmmm…what about sweet potato?

For more of my recipes and recipe trials, click here.

You have less than a day left to join the giveaway for a gorgeous Dawn Hanna print. Details here. All you have to do is comment about which print is your favorite—-you won’t be added to a mailing list. Just enjoy!


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