Archive for the ‘cooks tips’ Category

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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Back-to-School Lunch Help – Nut Allergy Friendly Ideas

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Tomorrow will be exciting but it will also be tough.  Tough to wake up and get it all done in time for school.  Luckily here are some quick and allergy friendly ideas from PositiveHealthWellness to get you and your kids excited to make lunch tomorrow and all the school days ahead.  Click the link at the bottom for a slide show of some great lunch options that are nut free.

10 Delicious Nut Allergy Friendly Recipes For Your Child’s Lunchbox

BY  

Finding child-friendly recipes for lunch that are exciting, delicious and nutritious can be difficult. But what if you throw a nut allergy into the equation? It can make it so much harder since nuts have always been considered the go-to for something quick and easy.

Don’t panic. You can put together the perfect menu for your child’s lunchbox. Their friends will be jealous, and you’ll have the mums and dads at school wondering what you do differently and asking you for your secrets.

All you need is a few recipe ideas to get you started. Here are 10 delicious recipes that are nut allergy friendly to try today. Many of these you can make with the kids and encourage them to try something new.

https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/diet-nutrition/10-delicious-nut-allergy-friendly-recipes-childs-lunchbox/

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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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Good Day Sacramento!

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

I had a great morning spending time with Julissa on Good Day Sacramento’s Mommy Moment segment.  I brought a lot of items and ideas for healthy and quick toddler and preschooler snacks for on-the-go.  It was a fun 3 1/2 minute segment.  The funny thing is all hours and energy for that 3 minutes.  All totally worth it.  Perhaps the best part is after spending a day shopping and prepping for the food and driving to and from Sacramento, my kids will have their own snacks and lunches ready for the next few days.  I think we’ll even have a “Make Yourself Anything” night for dinner.  So much in the refrigerator – everyone can create their own dinner with all the prepped veggies, meats, dips and spreads.  There’s even breakfast for dinner possibilities with eggs and pancakes.  Decisions, decisions…..

Here are some photos from the shoot and the video.

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http://gooddaysacramento.cbslocal.com/show/live-video/video-3409423-mommy-moment-quick-snacks/

 

 

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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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Apps to Help Against Food Waste

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

While the holidays are a time to bring family and friends together over big celebrations and meals we also need to be aware of food waste and those that go without.  Unfortunately, 40 percent of all food in the U.S. goes to waste because of excessive portion sizes at restaurants, misinterpretation of expiration dates on packaged foods, and overstocking. Thankfully, food waste can be reduced using what many people already carry in their pockets—their smartphones.

Numerous food waste apps have been created to help consumers throw away less food in their homes with date trackers, educational platforms, and recipe generators. Additionally, restaurants, grocery stores, and other food businesses can use the apps to donate food they can no longer sell.

This Thanksgiving, consider trying a new smartphone app to help your family reduce food waste. Here are 14 notable apps worth trying, courtesy of FoodTank (focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters):

1. AmpleHarvest: AmpleHarvest.org now allows farmers and gardeners to connect with food pantries through an iPhone app. The platform allows users to donate the abundance of their harvest to those in need.

2. Green Egg Shopper: In addition to tracking expiration dates on purchased food items,Green Egg Shopper also provides a tracker for coupons, vouchers, and overall food expenditures.

3. Feeding Forward: Californian businesses and farms can donate their excess product with Feeding Forward, which allows individuals to donate surplus food from their homes. Anyone wishing to give excess food can post the donation on the app or on the online website, and then allow a driver to pick up and deliver the food to a nearby shelter in need. Feeding Forward even allows users to track their impact by viewing profiles of the organizations and individuals who receive their donations.

4. Flash Food: In Arizona, FlashFood connects food service institutions to food recovery organizations and local community centers with a network of volunteers.

5. Food Cowboy: Food Cowboy works at the distribution level to redistribute rejected deliveries from wholesalers and restaurants to food banks and soup kitchens. Event hosts and caterers can use the app to request pickup of leftovers, and charities can use the platform to source larger donations.

6. FoodKeeper: The USDA voice-controlled FoodKeeper app provides storage method tips to extend shelf life, cooking tips for meat and seafood products, and sends expiration reminders to consumers. Additionally, the app contains a feature called Ask Karen that allows users to submit questions to its 24/7 virtual representative that can answer questions about cooking, storage, and food-borne illnesses.

7. FridgePal: Oftentimes, consumers throw away their groceries due to expiration dates. But FridgePal tracks the expiration dates of food items and offers consumer shopping lists, recipes searchable by lists of ingredients, and a meal planner. The app visually separates food contained in refrigerators, freezers, and pantries. It also gives cooks the option of viewing items by type, such as dairy, meals and leftovers, or sauces.

8. LeftoverSwap: Users of LeftoverSwap can snap a picture of their uneaten food and arrange for pickup with other community members who are interested in their leftovers.

9. PareUp: PareUp allows consumers in New York City to purchase unsold food at a discount from a number of various retailers, who in turn increase their revenues by selling food that normally would have been thrown away at the end of the business day.

10. Reta: Reta sends users timely reminders on their phones, allowing them to see all of their food at home from any location to plan their meals at any time. The feature is also useful while shopping for groceries to avoid overbuying. And Reta tracks how much users eat, allowing them to see lifetime statistics of what percentage of food goes uneaten.

11. Spoiler Alert: Spoiler Alert allows food distributors to donate surplus product to charities in Boston, MA. “We offer a secondary market for discounted food sales, which enables new revenue streams, and streamline and simplify the documentation for tax benefits, which are quite sizable,” says co-founder Emily Malina.

12. Still Tasty: Knowing how to store various food items can help anyone keep their food fresh longer. Still Tasty will also provide expiration date reminders while also giving users access to a detailed database containing hundreds of food items. The resource takes many variables into account, such as if the item’s store-bought or homemade, open or unopened, and packaging type, giving storage tips accordingly.

13. Waste No Food: Waste No Food is a nonprofit platform created by Kiran Sridhar, a high school student in the San Francisco Bay Area. The app connects farms, restaurants, cafeterias, and grocery stores with local groups that need donations, and has helped to save over 10,000 pounds of food.

14. Zero Percent: Chicago’s retailers with excess food can use the Zero Percent app to post available donations in real time. “Zero Percent is a food rescue platform, not just an app, that solves the problem of matching and moving excess prepared and perishable food between businesses and local nonprofits in a reliable and safe way,” says Raj Karmani, founder. “The platform coordinates the rescue of nearly 2,500 pounds a day without owning any vehicle or warehouse. Zero Percent will hit its millionth pound this holiday season.”

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It’s All in the Wrists – Massage Your Kale!

Friday, October 9th, 2015

kale

It’s on restaurant menus, snack advertisements and at your local farmer’s market.  You hear everywhere that you should should be eating more kale.  It is considered one of life’s most nutritious foods, packed with vitamins C and K plus calcium, fiber and antioxidants. I love kale but many do not.  While it can be bitter and that’s why some disguise it with fruits in smoothies or eat it in bags baked with cheese and chili flavor – I don’t think the taste is the problem.  It’s the texture.  Especially if you have it raw in a salad.  There are too many times when I order a kale salad in a restaurant and it is almost inedible because it is just too rough and I’m afraid I’ll choke or stab myself.  Also if it’s too wilted and I find myself chewing forever.

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curly

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dino or lacinto

There are a few varieties of kale.  There’s lacinto or dinosaur kale while has very wide, flat, dark green leaves that are bumpy (far right).  There’s red kale with dark red stems and green leaves (center).  Then most popular is curly kale which is brighter green and more curly and spiky(left).  Thus a problem for raw salads if not prepared properly.  So the magic to prepping raw kale for a salad is…..wait for it…..the massage.  Yes.  You must massage the kale Leaves (after removing stems) in some fresh lemon juice and/or salt.  And this isn’t a little light pressure stir with some tongs.  This is a 3 – 5 minute deep tissue massage with your hands.  It makes all the difference in the world to being able to enjoy and chew the kale.  Here’s an adapted recipe we make at my house for a favorite kale salad from Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. by Katie Shelly.  This book if fun because it’s all pictures and no instruction (but you kind of have to have some kitchen and cooking knowledge).  I use this preparation anytime I’m using raw kale.  However you an substitute dressings and veggies.  This is a great asian dressing that marries the sweet apples and spicy ginger and onion.

 

Chelsea’s Kale Salad

1 bunch kale, stems removed

1/2 lemon – squeezed

1 avocado, diced

1 apple, peeled and chopped into squares

1/2 cup almonds (optional)

a few slices of red onion (optional)

Dressing

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl tear kale leaves into bite sized pieces.  Squeeze lemon juice over kale and massage with your hands for about 3 minutes until kale is pliable and not sharp.  Add avocado and mash with your hands to incorporate.

Prepare dressing in a small jar and shake to combine.

Add apples, nuts and onions to kale.  Drizzle with dressing and toss everything together.

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Boston Cream Pie Birthday

Monday, August 24th, 2015

 

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This year my son was turning 12 and his request for a dessert was a Boston Cream Pie.  I thought it was kind of out there and not sure he had tasted one before but his sister and I were ready to oblige.  Of course since his b-day is in the summer it’s always a very busy day and when you factor in all the other things such as camp drop shuttling and family in town there never seems to be enough time for a scratch b-day cake… especially a Boston Cream Pie.  Also I’m not sure why it’s called a pie.  It is clearly a cake.

 

Thankfully I found a recipe that makes the cake with a few shortcuts.  I would usually avoid a birthday cake mix at all costs, however I found an organic, all natural mix by Immaculate Baking Company (no chemicals, additives, GMO’s) at Whole Foods.  That wasn’t my only shortcut however.  No time to do the scratch cream this recipe calls for vanilla pudding.  Believe it or not my son hasn’t had vanilla pudding.  Funny, but pudding just doesn’t seem to come up the way it did in the 70’s in my childhood.  It also means since he’s not a big Boston Cream Pie connoisseur, the pudding would certainly suffice and be yummy and new to him.

My daughter and I had a great time making and assembling the layers.  We did use high quality dark chocolate for the frosting.  No need to short cut there.  And I must say it was pretty impressive looking, and very tasty.

Funny thing was my son didn’t recognize it as what he had asked for.  When he saw it he said “Wow, that looks great.  What kind of cake is that?”  Huh?  Apparently after some discussion what he was really wanting was a chocolate cream pie, as in a true pie with a crust and chocolate meringue.  Of well.  Now he has another new favorite dessert to add to his repertoire and now we’ll have to make a chocolate cream pie so he realizes the difference.

Here’s the Recipe I found and made from Taste of Home.com

Boston Cream Pie

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 10 min. + cooling Bake: 30 min.
MAKES: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package yellow cake mix (regular size)
  • 1-1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water

Directions

  1. Prepare cake mix batter according to package directions. Pour into two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans.
  2. Bake at 350° for 28-33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. In a microwave, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Stir in confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough water to achieve a thick glaze; set aside.
  5. Place one cake layer on a serving plate; spread with pudding. Top with the second cake layer. Spoon chocolate glaze over the top, allowing it to drip down sides of cake. Refrigerate until serving.  

 

 

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Think Outside the Oven – Microwave and Toaster Cookies

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

cookies

So my oven went out for about a week.  At first this was no big deal, I can certainly cook on the stove.  The oven wouldn’t be repaired for a few days and I made soups, chili, quesadillas, crepes, etc.  My family was eating no problem and didn’t give the oven a thought until I was to make sweets for the school garden fair.

 

I forgot about the oven and even thawed out my homemade cookie dough I had (always have) to make some quick and easy chocolate chip cookies to go with some brownies I was also going to bake and bring to the fair.  Then I went to turn on the oven and remembered.

toaster

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I didn’t want to waste my homemade dough and decided to experiment with other ways to cook it.  First I lined my toaster oven with parchment and tried to bake.  It worked!  I set the toaster on bake and it took longer than the oven, maybe 15 minutes.  But the pan is so small, the cookies were small and I couldn’t make too many at a time.  They did kind of spread together, but hey, they cooked well and were tasty!  Since they didn’t look as nice and round as usual I decided they wouldn’t be going to the fair.  However I was pleased I wouldn’t be wasting the dough.  Since I was now making these to eat for my family I wanted to try another cooking method…Yes, the microwave.  I try to control myself from experimenting with the microwave too much. Remember my post to popcorn where I started a fire while trying to pop corn in a bag?

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I looked online and others had tried baking cookies in a microwave too. I experimented with a plate vs a ramekin.  Ramekin was better.  I tried different cooking times so the cookie would be cooked through vs just hot dough.  What I came up with was pretty good.

The cookie became more like a cake.  I dropped a heaping tablespoon full of dough into a ramekin and cooked on high for 35 seconds.

cookie cake

I let it sit to cool a bit and it became less doughy and more cake like.  I was really excited to show my kids and loved how we could have individual servings of fresh hot cookie cakes so quickly and easily.  We even ate the warm cookie cake with ice cream on top.  Yum!

 

As for what I made for the garden fair…I went to the store and bought Rice Krispies and marshmallows for a few batches of Rice Krispies Treats.  I followed the stove top recipe on the box and added 3/4 cups of white chocolate so it was a little “out of the box” and we took them to the fair.  Although my stove is fixed we still make the cookie cakes on occasion.  Another excuse always to have homemade cookie dough on hand.

melting marshmallow

 

 

 

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Take a Stand: Tips to Help Kids Raise Money Through Food/Drink

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

You may have heard of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.  A little girl named Alex was diagnosed with cancer when she was 1 year old. When she was four years old, Alex asked her mom if she could have a lemonade stand to raise money for “her hospital”.  Her legacy lives on as lemonade stands all  over the country continue to support her pediatric cancer foundation to the tune of $100 million as of January 1, 2015.  How cool is that?!

My kids and friends wanted to make cookies and sell them at a stand at the park.  They’ve done lemonade stands but they wanted to make cookies all by themselves (for the first time) and then raise money to give to The Milo Foundation, a Bay Area dog and cat rescue group.  How could I say no to that?  Of course we were going there for the third time that week to try to adopt a dog.  The kids raised $19 and gave it to the foundation.  Ironically we didn’t find a dog there, but a few days later at the Marin Humane Society.  Guess we know where the next stand money will go.

Here are some steps to help you create a stand and raise money for something you or your kids believe in…

1. Make excellent homemade product.  If it’s lemonade squeeze it yourself.  If it’s cookies make them from scratch.  Store bought is not an option.  My kids made the recipe from the bag of the chocolate chip bag with some added sprinkles.  It doesn’t need to be fancy.  Here’s a lemonade recipe.

Lemonade

(Makes 3 ½ cups)

½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, juice from about 4 lemons

½ cup sugar

1 ½ cups water, divided

Heat sugar and ½ cup water over medium heat in a small saucepan.  Stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture has thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.  This is simple syrup.  Combine lemon juice, simple syrup and additional cup of water to taste.

Chill in thermos for easy packing or plastic pitcher, if location is a short walk.

Pour over ice in plastic or paper cups.

2. Create fun signs.  Kids can get really creative with this one.

3. Set up shop with friends and family to help.

4. Choose a location with lots of people.  Think parks, game fields, school.

5. Set a fair price or simply ask for a donation for each cup. (*You’ll make more $ by asking for a donation.)

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