Archive for the ‘Family Meals’ Category

Vegan Cornbread – Yes You Can!

Friday, April 21st, 2017

I’m on the constant hunt to find “regular” recipes and make them into vegan versions so my daughter will eat them.  Since I was making my vegetarian chili for dinner I decided to test out a vegan cornbread.  I adapted this from a Food Network recipe and it was surprisingly good.  It makes use of a “flax egg” rather than a real one.  I used my daughter’s Ripple (pea protein milk) for the soy milk in the original recipe.  Next time I may even add some fresh corn.  My whole family ate it happily with the chili.

  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 14cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 34teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup vegetable milk
  • 14cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring  water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ground flax meal, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Takes about 2 – 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.

Add the ground flax seed mixture, milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture.

Stir with a rubber spatula, just until smooth (do not overbeat)

Turn into prepared baking pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack 10 minutes before cutting.

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When Life Gives You Lemons – Makes Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hands down these are the muffins I get the most requests to make, and garner the most compliments. I can’t believe I never shared here. Sorry. Whether it’s a school function or a team snack. They work for all ages and diets.  I hate to say upfront that they’re vegan because then some may not want to try them. But they are. I can’t even tell you where I got the recipe. I found it online, printed it, and pasted it in my recipe notebook when my sister was just starting a vegan lifestyle. I made them for Easter brunch about 7 years ago and have been making them ever since. They check a lot of boxes for diets, but no they’re not gluten free. If you have a lemon tree, you can make these at a moments notice.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup soy, almond or rice milk (I’ve been using Ripple)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking power, poppy seeds, and salt. Make a well in the center and add milk, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Mix just until moistened.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling racks.

 

 

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Looking Back – 2016 My Food Year in Review

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
making messes

making messes

spiraling

spiraling

avocado toast

avocado toast

cholula

cholula

kale salad

kale salad

price fix vegetarian

price fix vegetarian

going vegan – fake bacon

 

 

 

 

 

I realized I’ve been spending much more time on Instagram rather than blogging.  It’s quick and easy and I’m finally getting the hang of it.  That said,  I haven’t been able to share many recipes of what we’ve been making.  So here were some of our foodie highlights and family favorite of 2016:

Prix Fix Vegetarian – so a nice prix fix is fun and sometimes fancy.  This used to be for special occasions with my husband and I.  However now my kids appreciate these dinners as well.  Our favorites this year were vegetarian and vegan meals from The Whale Wins and Harvest Beat in Seattle. Also musician, Moby’s, L.A vegan restaurant, Little Pine.

Cholula – my son has always liked hot sauce and hot peppers, but since discovering Cholula it’s on the table at every meal from eggs in the morning to nachos and burritos at night.  My husband got into the act too.  Yes, the hottest trend at our house.

Tempeh Bacon and other vegan mysteries – this year marked the switch of my daughter from eating a vegetarian diet to going vegan.  We’re discovering more and more plant based foods and meat alternatives all the time.  My daughter loves when her aunt and uncle make fake bacon, however I never got the hang of it until recently.  This time I watched my sister and brother in law.  Basically you cook it in a pan in a bit of oil for much longer than the package instructions.  Then it gets crisp.

Avocado Toast – my daughter has always enjoyed avocado on everything.  However once I started working at Juice Girl, not only do I make avocado squares for others I make them at home too.  The bread is key.  I am also amazed at all the creative and beautiful looking toasts on Instagram.  Great inspiration.

Kale – like everyone else we are on the kale bandwagon.  Whether it’s sautéing in garlic and olive oil, chopping fine for a salad or adding to soups and smoothies.  Kale is here to stay in our fridge.

Spiraling – I didn’t think I needed another appliance but we’re having such fun with this.  Kids are eating lots more veggies and they love making the noodles.  They even shape the left-overs into interesting sculptures.  Our favorite is veggie noodles sautéed in garlic and tossed with spaghetti noodles.

Messes – I am very excited to have my kids cooking so much.  Also fun to see our Cook This Book! published and being used by friends and family. However in 2017, we’re going to work more on the clean up.  Teaching to clean up as they cook has been a challenge as dishes and ingredients pile up everywhere.

 

 

 

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Smoothie Creations

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

attheblendersmoothie

smoothiepop
My kids have been crazy lately for smoothies.  It may be that I’m helping at the local juice, smoothie cafe in Mill Valley, Juice Girl.  Or it may be that it’s still sunny out.  Or it may be that it’s easy and creative and each one turns out to be a surprise, if just following your imagination and what’s in the fridge.  Even at Juice Girl I’ve learned there’s lots of variations in the same smoothie.  There’s even a bit of adjustments to get the right consistency throughout the day.  The frozen fruit in the morning is more frozen and hard than in the afternoon (after doors have been opened and closed all day).  Not likely an issue at your house.  Also the sizes of fruits certainly vary.  A large banana will make your smoothie thicker than a small banana.  There’s the color as well.  Not every homemade creation is a lovely color.  My kids have made a few that look quite poo-like.  Not suitable for a smoothie shop, but still tasty (and funny) at home.

 

My kids have been crazy lately for smoothies.  It may be that I’m helping at the local juice, smoothie cafe in Mill Valley, Juice Girl.  Or it may be that it’s still sunny out.  Or it may be that it’s easy and creative and each one turns out to be a surprise, if just following your imagination and what’s in the fridge.  Even at Juice Girl I’ve learned there’s lots of variations in the same smoothie.  There’s even a bit of adjustments to get the right consistency throughout the day.  The frozen fruit in the morning is more frozen and hard than in the afternoon (after doors have been opened and closed all day).  Not likely an issue at your house.  Also the sizes of fruits certainly vary.  A large banana will make your smoothie thicker than a small banana.  There’s the color as well.  Not every homemade creation is a lovely color.  My kids have made a few that look quite poo-like.  Not suitable for a smoothie shop, but still tasty (and funny) at home.

 

My son likes to put in everything in a smoothie – yogurt, juice, fruit, even spices such as ginger.  My daughter is more of a fruit purist and coconut milk.  Although they’re both becoming open to more greens and nut butters (can’t all be sugar) in there too.  Thanks JG!  Using the blender is a good appliance that’s relatively kids safe as well.  Note, I didn’t saw mess proof.  Be sure those lids are on tight.  If your kids are inspired here are a few to get started from my new book, Cook This Book!, and then let them have the blender to create whatever they’ll drink.  That’s kind of the rule at my house.  Don’t create something just to experiment, and then not eat it.  Just keep adding until it’s edible.  And speaking of waste…UKonserve has some crazy statistics about plastic straws.  Check out their stainless steel ones to cut down on plastic when making at home.  (They have a special thru the end of September). I also have paper straws.  But these can prove difficult depending on the smoothie texture.  Remember to freeze any smoothie left-overs in popsicle molds to enjoy frozen.

Here’s two from page 96 of Cook This Book!

Tropical Fruit Frappe

The taste of the tropics in a cold and frozen treat.

Makes 1¼ cups

  • ¼ cup canned light coconut milk
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

PB&B

Everyone likes the combination of peanut butter and banana. Here’s a simple shake recipe; you can substitute any milk or milk alternative, as well as nut butter for peanut. Having frozen ripe bananas in the freezer make this fast and convenient for a breakfast or afterschool snack.

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 frozen banana, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon organic all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¾ cups organic nonfat milk

Put all ingredients together in a blender. Blend until smooth, and honey and peanut butter are incorporated, about 1 minute.

 

 

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Perfect for Snacking and Packing – Banana Apple Flax Muffins

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

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Kids are back in school and the activities and sports are starting.  I decided to make a batch of muffins for my kids to pack and have for snacks.  I was going to make the usual Banana Apple Bran Muffins from The Petit Appetit Cookbook (page 105), however I realized I was out of bran.  I decided to substitute flax meal, which made them even better.  Now they also have more protein too.  Here’s the recipe:

 

Banana Apple Flax Muffins

Makes regular muffins

1 cup organic wheat flour

½ cup organic flax meal

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sweet cream butter, (1 stick)

¾ cup applesauce or apple puree

1 medium banana, mashed

½ cup organic light brown sugar

2 cage-free, organic eggs

 

Preheat oven to 375F. With a fork, combine flour, flax, soda and salt in a small mixing bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Or melt butter in microwave for 25 seconds on high. In a large bowl combine melted butter, applesauce, mashed banana, sugar and eggs. Mix together with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture to applesauce mixture and stir until just blended. Batter will be lumpy and very moist. Spoon batter into greased mini muffin tin cups 2/3 full and place banana slice on top of each muffin. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and set*. Remove pan from oven and cool on a rack 5 minutes, before turning out muffins.

 

*Note. Because these muffins are so moist with the mashed bananas and applesauce, the wooden pick test is difficult. The center may not come out clean if you hit a chunk of banana. If you’re not sure if they’re done, you can always pop one out and cut in half.

 

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It’s Finally Available – Cook This Book!

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

cookthisbookamazon

I have been working on a new book for quite some time.  Not everyone was excited about it.  By “everyone” I mean my publisher.  Rather than toss aside my idea and manuscipt, I decided to self publish with CreateSpace.  I had big help at home with illustrations.  While looking for a graphic artist, I discovered my own kids were able to draw my ideas.  (Thankfully they were less expensive too!).  I also discovered going overseas to hire freelancers is a great way to find expertise, meet deadlines and stay within budget.  Thank you to Dragan in Croatia!

 

To be fair to my publisher, Cook This Book! is a big departure from my other Petit Appetit titles for sure.  Rather than teaching parents, this book turns over the kitchen and foodie activities to kids.  Many of my clients’ children, (as well as my own kids) love being involved in the kitchen and take food and cooking seriously.  They are not alone, as we now have many kid contestant cooking television shows such as Chopped Jr. and Kids Baking Championship. There are even some pop up restaurants with kid chef’s under 18.

 

Cook This Book! Over 100 Ways to Imagine, Create, Cook, Eat, Share Dare and Play With Food, encourage kids’ love of food and cooking by giving readers over one hundred activities, games, quizzes, and challenges that kids can do with food. There are no rules and no right answers. Each kid will experience the book in a unique and interactive way. Have a fast speed scavenger hunt in the supermarket. Create your own recipe using only five ingredients. Challenge your brother to a chili pepper taste off. Kids can skip around or do the same challenge over and over with different friends and family members and new ingredients.  They can also post photos of their fun (#cookthisbook) to share and compare with other readers.

 

This book empowers kids to create, cook, eat, dare, and share their foodie fun, knowledge, and experiences. Those just starting in the kitchen will find recipes for some favorites such as spaghetti, pancakes, and brownies. With helpful tips for knife skills, restaurant etiquette, and more! By experimenting with food they just might become the next big chef, a food critic, or at least help you make dinner.

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Pickle Power

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

pickle ingredients pickling

 

 

 

 

 

 

My family has been experimenting lately with pickling.  Pickling cucumbers, green beans and carrots.  It started because of our affection for banh mi sandwiches.  Somehow homemade pickles just taste better for these sandwiches.  Not too tart or spicy.  Plus I needed to find a reason to use all the old sauce and pickle jars I’ve collected.  This recipe makes 3 large (about 18 – 24 oz.) jars of pickled veggies.  I usually do one of each veggie.  They’ll last about a week in the refrigerator, but ours usually don’t last that long, between sandwich toppings and lunchbox additions.

 

When choosing cucumbers to pickle I like the small Persian or kirby cucumbers.  These have less seeds and a more mild flavor than garden or American slicing cucumbers. You can buy glass jars online or at the hardware store. Even better clean out glass sauce and pickle jars to recycle and make your own. These make great gifts too.   As long as they have a tight fitting lid, they’ll work well. Happy pickling!

Homemade Pickles

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar

¼ cup sugar

4 teaspoons pickling or kosher salt

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon peppercorns (black, pink or variety)

¾ teaspoon dill seeds

2 cups hot water

2 pounds (about 6) Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise (or combination carrots, green beans and cucumbers)

6 sprigs fresh dill

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil, reduce the heat so the water simmers and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolves. Remove from the heat.

 

In 3 clear 1-quart jars, place two sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic from the brine. Place a few cloves in each jar. Then pack the jars full of cucumbers. (You can also slip in some carrots, scallions or green beans, cauliflower and chilies). You want them to be tightly stuffed.

 

Bring the brine back to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully transfer liquid into a glass pitcher or large measuring cup with spout.  You may have to do in batches but this makes it easier to pour in jars.  Pour hot liquid over the vegetables to cover completely. Let cool, then screw on jar lids and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good in just a few hours, and even better after a day or two.

 

 

 

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Half and Half – Birthday Cupcakes for Kids and Dogs

Monday, January 18th, 2016

half

Both my kids birthdays are in July, thus there their half birthdays are in January.  Just when you make a plan to ease off the sweets and decadent foods from the holidays…here comes the halves.  As my kids are getting older (9 1/2 and 12 1/2) the half cupcake just doesn’t cut it (see  reaction above).  So the tradition of half the cupcake, and half the candle lives on.  But the second halves are off camera to be eaten as well.  We still sing half the birthday song  which sounds like this…”Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You”.  It’s a bit abrupt, but it works.  You also get a birthday card cut in half.  And there’s a present that consists of a single item of a pair.  Such as one wrapped sock, one shoe, one ski glove.  Yes, the other is given as well, but not wrapped.

cupcakes

This year my daughter and her friend made lovely cupcakes together. Not only did they look great but also tasted really good.  They chose a combination of chocolate cupcakes and wedding cake frosting.  What is wedding cake frosting?  Well here’s the recipe from Southern Living Big Book of Cupcakes on Amazon, by Jan Moon.  It’s a very versatile white frosting that can be used for any occassion.

Wedding Cake Frosting, page 31.

Makes 3 cups

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar

Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended.  Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy.

 

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In addition to the January halves, now we also have a dog anniversary.  We adopted our dog Ally McBeagle 1 year ago, January 15th.  So of course that deserved a celebration and more cupcakes.  These were peanut butter dog cakes.  A generous neighbor gave us a special puppy cake mix.  We added water and voila, doggie cupcakes.  Of course Ally is not as picky as the kids, but the kids loved creating her birthday cake and also bagged up doggie cupcakes for a few of her doggie friends to enjoy.  My daughter suggested a doggie birthday and that’s where I drew the line.  I even cringe as children’s birthday parties. I can’t imagine the chaos of a dog celebration.  Ally loved her cake.  Considering she’ll eat just about anything she finds on a walk outside, it wasn’t a big compliment to our baking.

 

 

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Tis the Season – Eat More Pumpkin with Banana Pumpkin Muffins

Monday, October 26th, 2015

pumpkins

My family loves all the seasonal food this time of year.  We buy enough pumpkin butter, canned pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and molasses to keep us going throughout the fall and then some.   Halloween may seem to be all about candy, but for me it’s all about pumpkin and the various ways we can incorporate it into our fall meals.  And why not?  According to this article in the Huffington Post pumpkin is healthy and helps our eyesight, mood and waistlines, while also protecting our hearts, immune system and skin.

 

I noticed some too ripe bananas on my counter and immediately thought of making banana bread or muffins, but how about banana pumpkin?  I switched the applesauce in my banana apple muffins with pumpkin and it was a big hit.  Banana and pumpkin is a great combo.  It was perfect for the kids’  weekend sleep over as well as snack after a soccer game.  Here’s the recipe.

 

Banana Pumpkin Muffins

(Makes 12)

1 1/2 cup organic wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup sweet cream butter, (1 stick)

¾ cup canned pumpkin

2 medium ripe bananas

½ cup organic light brown sugar

2 cage-free, organic eggs

sprinkle of cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 375F. With a fork, combine flour, soda and salt in a small mixing bowl.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Or melt butter in microwave for 25 seconds on high.

In a large bowl combine melted butter, pumpkin, mashed banana, sugar and eggs. Mix together with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until just blended. Batter will be lumpy and very moist.

Spoon batter into greased muffin tin cups 2/3 full and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown and set. Remove pan from oven and cool on a rack 5 minutes, before turning out muffins.

 

 

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Rafting Vacation – Amazing and Efficient Cooking

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

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My family was lucky enough to take a trip to Oregon this summer.  It was a blast.  There were 3 generations of my family on a 3 day white water rafting and camping trip on the Deschutes River.  My kids and my parents had been planning and preparing for weeks and months before.  We were all so looking forward and we were not disappointed.  Of course we all knew the rafting and rapids would be fun.  But none of us really thought much about the camping and land portion of the trip.  We knew we were going to have fantastic guides at (we’d been on a one day trip before) but we did not know the lengths they would go to keep us happy, safe and well fed.

river kitchenriver kitchen 2

grill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which brings me to the food.  I sometimes complain to myself that I don’t have access to a piece of kitchen equipment or there is a missing pan.  I won’t again.  The guides on the rafting trip set up amazingly efficient “kitchens” that created wonderful meals.  Also I must remind you we are not an easy group to cook for, given our dietary and health restrictions – everything from my 9 year old being a vegetarian to my sister being vegan to my step dad needing to avoid too much salt and sugar.  Of course there’s lactose intolerance and beef issues sprinkled in the crowd too.

The food was amazing.  Plus they did it all breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days.  We offered assistance but they turned down our offer and told us to relax (the wine helped too).  I was thinking typical camping/outdoor fare such as hot dogs and veggie burgers but this wasn’t the case at all.  I was so tired, hungry and wet that I didn’t get a photo of the appetizers of marinated olives, hummus and veggies, that greeted us at the camp when we docked.  Here are photos of the first night’s dinner –  grilled local salmon, spinach salad, ratattouille and quinoa.  Followed by dessert of chocolate fondue.

grilled salmon

saladratattouillechocolate fondue

 

 

 

 

I’m sorry my camera batteries went dead after the first night.  So many beautiful scenes of Orgeon and family.  I could’ve taken more photos of the lovely breakfast offerings of blueberry pancakes, yogurt and fruit and bacon.  Or the lunch of camp made falafel wrapped with veggies in flatbread with homemade yogurt dressing.

What I really learned was how efficient you could be with proper prep and shopping and just the essentials.  If I didn’t know this from cooking demos in other people’s kitchens, and meeting people living in SRO’s (single resident occupants) without kitchens, I know it now.  There was no running water, except the river.  There was no conventional stove (a butane burner and grill did the trick).  There was no refrigerator.  And let’s not forget, all the equipment and food was all packed on a raft that had to go down class 2, 3 and 4 rapids.  And did I mention the crazy wind one night and keeping the food bee free?

Besides being great cooks, the guides were also great diners and slipped quite easily into our family conversations.  We were sad to say goodbye.  My kids both said it was the greatest thing they’ve ever done.  In fact they both wrote on their first back to school assignments, that wanted to become rafting guides.  It was truly an inspirational trip.  Looks like they’ll be lots more rafting, (and cooking) in our family’s future.

Thank you Nan and Poppa!

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