Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

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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Peanut Butter Recall

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Possible salmonella in Trader’s Joe’s Valenica Creamy Salted Peanut Butter.  Here’s the recall info..

 

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Remembering Memorial Day…Forgetting the Carnival Food

Monday, May 28th, 2012

This memorial day weekend was filled with activity…some related to remembering those who fought for our country (parade and discussion with our kids), but mostly gatherings of friends and community (parade again, carnival, San Francisco Bridge celebration, sleepover, BBQ and some I’m sure I can’t remember).

 

With all the events there was a wide variety of food, of course.  We enjoyed everything from a mexican fiesta at friends (complete with margarita machine), to BBQ (chicken and tofu), the freshest fish in Marin (Fish Restaurant) and too many pancake breakfasts.

 

Thankfully one event we did not try food was the carnival.  First of all the dizzying rides were hard enough for me, if my kids would’ve asked for a corn dog or cotton candy I would’ve died.  I think both the rides and concessions looked like the same ones I had as a kid.  No updating here.  Actually when we got home from the carnival my daughter asked “How come all the people working at the carnival had brown and yucky teeth?”  This was quite an observation.  My husband and I were thinking the carnival workers seemed more tidy than those we remembered from carnivals when we were a kids.  Anyways my answer to her was “Maybe it’s because they work all day and have to eat the carnival food all the time”.  O.K. I’m not sure that’s true, but it stands to reason right? (I was too tired and nauseous to tackle the possibility of smoking too).

 

Unfortunately the weekend ended on a personal memorial as my son’s hermit crab, “Hermit” died tonight.  I told my son I’d post a photo of happier days with Hermit to share of his beloved pet.

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Whoopie! Oops! Thank Goodness!

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

We had plans to go to friends for dinner over the weekend and they asked me to bring a dessert.  I rarely make the same dessert twice.  Why, when there’s so many to
try?  I happened to buy a Whoopie Pie cookbook (Love Foods, UK, Paragon Books).
Yes, I have too many cookbooks, but this one was screaming at me with a $3.99 price tag as I stood in line at my local bookstore.  I decided to make two seasonal options – gingerbread and pumpkin.
I made the pumpkin cookies the night before we were going to eat them.  However I waited until the day of the dinner to fill.  My plan was to fill them as I made the gingerbread batch the next day about an hour before we were expected at our friends’.  Well, after quite a bit of time in the oven I realized the oven wasn’t actually on.  Yes, I did turn it on.  I tried what I thought as rebooting – turning on and off, but nothing.  I even got out the manual, with no help there either.  “Whoopie!”
Became “Oops!”  I called my friends and warned them I’d be bringing my cookie sheets to finish the whoopies at her house.

My friend’s oven saved dessert.  Both the pumpkin and gingerbread were a hit with all ages.  Although I thought the gingerbread wasn’t spicy enough and preferred the pumpkin.  Looking at the book, I realized mine are not as filled as the book photos.  I guess that’s why I have so much filling left.  It just seemed like so much.  My
healthy cooking philosophy and habits can sometimes get in the way of decadent
foods.  (I used low fat cream cheese for the filling too)  Also to get them to look perfect and smooth like the photos, you’d need a whoopie pie pan – which I
don’t have or want.  I was fine with a more rustic look, made from a small ice cream scoop.

So I need to call an oven technician.  Luckily I am not hosting Thanksgiving.  Thank
goodness.  That’s every host’s biggest nightmare.  I wonder what an oven house
call before Thanksgiving costs?  I’ll wait to call after Thursday.

Hopefully you have an oven and can make them.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes 12

2 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup light brown sugar

½ cup sunflower oil

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup canned pumpkin puree

Cinnamon and Maple Filling

1 cup full fat cream cheese

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with
parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Place sugar and oil in large bowl and beat with electric mixer for 1 minute.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Then beat in pumpkin.  Stir in flour mixture and beat until
incorporated.

Spoon or pipe 24 mounds of batter onto prepared pans, spaced well apart.

Bake each sheet separately in oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until risen and firm to
touch.  Cool on baking tray for 5 minutes then remove with palette knife to transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the filling place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat until well
blended.  Beat in the syrup, cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

To assemble, pipe or spread the filling over the flat side of half the cakes.  Top with remaining cakes.

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Hunger Challenge Wrap Up

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

So my family agreed last week was hard.  I feel like the challenge (my goal of trying to keep my family full and satisified with healthy food on such a limited budget) was all consuming.  Everything else seemed like a blur, and other than our daily lives of school, homework and blogging, not much was accomplished.  I simply didn’t have the time or energy.  We also missed our social life and the ability to have people over and feel like we could host and provide for them.

My car broke down the day after the challenge ended.  If this had happened during the hunger challenge I would not have been able to handle it so well (car was towed and kids and I walked 1.2 miles in 85 degree heat).  Because we were able to get a icy, fruit smoothie and emergency snacks out of the trunk (yes, I keep nuts and graham crackers usually for when hunger strikes) for our walk home – it became another adventure – rather than a hardship.  If we had been hungry and thirsty and not able to refresh our bodies with fuel, we wouldn’t have had the energy or spirit to walk home.

So there is much to be thankful for and we’re glad the unhappy faces are down from the cupboards and we’ve been grocery shopping again.  My kids even have ideas for next year (they said it).  Unfortuantely hunger will still exist next year (although we can hope the numbers of people effected go down) and thus another challenge.

I’m happy to annouce the KGO Fight Hunger Day last week is still totaling and pulling in donations for the Bay Area food banks, and is now over $185,000.  Well done.  I think the more people are able to spread the word, the more we can all help each other.  Thanks for reading, caring and sharing.  And thanks to my family for supporting the challenge 100%.

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Send ‘Em Packing – Easy, Healthy Food/Drink Container

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I was going to skip the back to school lunch packing tips. So many blogs talk about it.  And I wrote about packing a healthy and waste free lunch last year.  The surprising and interesting thing is while there are many more product offerings, my favorites remain those I tested (and still use) from last year.  And I realize while this may seem old news to some, it’s brand new for others.  So take a look at what my family has been using and liking.  The added bonus is that some are local Bay Area companies.

My kids will not be getting new lunchboxes this year, as their PlanetBoxes have
held up perfectly. They are easy to pack with appropriate compartments for
everything. The bag can be washed and new magnets can be purchased if your
PlanetBox is needing something fresh.

We also still love and are using our Kids Konserve freezer packs (fits well in
the PlanetBox pocket). I am never without one of their stainless steel
containers for snacks in my purse. They now offer more colors and sizes than
ever. Hurry to their online sale thru August.

As far as drink bottles go, we are not as satisfied with the longevity and
rotate quite a bit. My kids have just discovered the new Thermos/Threadless
stainless bottles with spouts, which are easy to open and close tightly. (I
can’t stand the leaky straw designs of some bottles). We also use EarthLust‘s
nature inspired stainless steel designs. I’m enjoying my Lifefactory 22 oz
large glass bottle and have ordered the new lunchbox ready 9 oz size for my
kids. Note: I only pack water in these. I find it is the easiest to clean, the
bottle lasts longer and healthiest for my kids and self.

Finally, our organic cotton napkins by Fabkins are holding up from school
lunches, picnics, camps and home use. They continue to introduce new patterns
to make lunch fun and less messy.

So go forth and pack a healthy lunch with reusable, responsible products that are good for you, your kids and the planet. Yes, that is a lofty statement, but every little bit countsm as your child can create more than their weight in school lunch trash each year.

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The Cupcake Caper

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

This time every year I am faced with lots of stress over cakes and cupcakes.  This year has been no exception and there’s only been one birthday so far.  You see the summer is full of birthdays in my family.  This year we added a preschool graduation into the mix too.  I’m not sure what got into me, but I thought I was going to make cake for my daughter’s graduation when I first signed up.  Until I was told there would be 150 cupcakes needed or two half sheet cakes.  Oops!

So I bought them at the suggested bakery near the school.  They are quite popular (and $$) and use fresh ingredients, but somehow I wasn’t impressed.  Though most of the 125+ people were happy and the cakes were eaten.  They were somehow bland and dense.  They were super cute though right?  And was I going to bake cake for that many people?  Nope.

 

However I spent two days (and more time and agony) perfecting 24 cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday party the following day.  Months ago my daughter picked out a cupcake photo she wanted me to make for her birthday.  It was an adorable cupcake decorated with sugar jewels out of our favorite cupcake cookbook (see previous review).  Turns out these are not so easy to find except for online and quite expensive ($1 per jewel).

Edible Diamonds

I went to CakeArt, an amazing cake decorating and baking supply store (they also have classes) in San Rafael for help on the jewels.  I thought if I can’t buy them, I can make them with molds.  Turns out they had a few “diamonds”, but the owner warned me they are made from isomalt and not good on many people’s stomache’s if eaten (and you know kids would try them).  Well, my daughter quickly understood this was not a good idea.  Luckily there were so many other lovely decorations she moved on and chose others.  This was still a few weeks before her party.

 

She still couldn’t decide on cupcake flavor.  One day she carried the cupcake book everywhere and reviewed it all during my son’s baseball game.  First she wanted lavender vanilla and I bought lavender.  Then it was strawberry milkshake, and I shopped for strawberry extract (couldn’t find).  It was too overwhelming that she could choose any flavor cupcake and frosting and mix and match with her chosen decoration.  Three days before she decided chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream frosting.  Hooray, I thought the hard part was over.

test batch

Since she had been so indecisive, yet so obsessive, I made a few test cupcakes for her reviewa few days before the party.  Then she says “Of course I’m going to like any of them…it’s a cupcake.”  Oh glad I wasn’t worried.  But glad I did the test.  I learned two valuable things from this recipe.  Do not spray with cooking oil as directed.  See above how the papers fall away?  And next, filling 1/2 to 2/3 full wasn’t enough.  I was also able to convince my daughter that the white frosting looked the best (her ideas of striped and colors were tried above).

test #2

Filling 3/4 cull and skipping the spray worked much better.

looking good and practicing my piping

Making the buttercream ahead for the test, I thought I’d just re-whip the next day when it was time to make a whole batch.  Well, this didn’t turn out so well.  The morning of the party, I frosted half of them and realized the butter cream was separating and kind of melting after a bit.  Yikes!

buttercream starting to separate

I quickly made another fresh batch of frosting and the second dozen looked far superior.  My daughter came in and said “Are these a diffrent kind?”  Having about one hour (still needing to shower and get dressed myself and pack the car with other food and ice chest) I scraped the frosting off the first dozen and refrosted them.  I felt much better.  O.K. first she was obsessed, and now I was.  As you can see, it all turned out fine…we made it to the party (at a gymnastics studio), everyone had fun, and the cupcakes were a hit.  Big kudos to the cupcake carrier too.  (Purchased at Target)  Great invention to protect your creations when on the go.

scraping off the melting frosting

fresh frosting fixed everything

the birthday girl adding the finishing touches

off to the party!

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Happy Memorial Day – Corn on the Cob Tip

Monday, May 30th, 2011

I hope you and yours had a relaxing Memorial Day.  It’s a tough one to explain to kids.  And when they ask “So what does BBQing have to do with celebrating and remembering the soldiers?”  My answer is “It’s a good way to gather friends and family, and it’s usually nice weather, so you can cook and eat outside”.  Although here in the Bay Area we sure had a mix of weather – rain, sun, clouds, wind.  If you didn’t time things well the annual memorial bbq could’ve been better enjoyed by the fireplace, inside.

Luckily we were able to host some friends and enjoy a bit of the sunshine this weekend.  We did chicken kebobs, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes and strawberry shortcake (more on that in my next cookbook review).

I want to share a corn on the cob tip.  I love corn, but sometimes when cooked on the grill it burns and shrivels.  So now, what works for us, is precooking in the microwave.  I suppose you could precook by boiling as well – but takes so much longer.  Two cobs takes about 4 minutes to precook in the microwave.  Then it gets a brushing of olive oil and is finished on the grill for a few minutes.  Just long enought to get some grill marks and a bit of carmelization.  The kernals are still plump, and the cob doesn’t get too black.  Check it out.

 

wrap corn in wax paper and sprinkle with a few drops of water

microwave about 4 minutes for 2 ears of corn

 

Place over hot grill and rotate a few minutes for grill marks

 

Looking to grill something out of the ordinary?  Here’s a few tips for your next unique cookout.  Grilled avocado anyone?  Get ideas here.

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Happy Mother’s Day! (Chocolate Dipped Strawberries)

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Happy Mother’s Day to you, yours and mine (especially mine).  If you’re lucky enough to celebrate with your mom, head to the farmer’s market for some fresh, organic strawberries to dip in chocolate.  What mom doesn’t like chocolate?  And if you’re the mom being celebrated, pass this hint on to dad and the kids.

 

Chocolate strawberries always seem so fancy.  You see them in chocolate shops and bakeries during strawberry season.  They are actually easy to make and make quite an impression.   Unfortunately this is difficult recipe for children to assist, as much is done over a double broiler and water can spit and burn if not careful.  Let them help by arranging strawberries on a special platter once chocolate is cooled and hardened.  These would look great on a Mother’s Day brunch table and they were recently a big hit at my son’s school potluck too.

 

2 pints organic strawberries (18 – 20), washed and dried
with leaves on

6 ounces dark chocolate, chips or chop into pieces

1 tablespoon shortening

Place a baking rack over two glasses or pans to allow rack to sit above counter. (Alternatively line a baking sheet with waxed paper). Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Turn down to simmer and place chocolate in top of double boiler over boiling water. Be sure water from bottom pot does not boil or spit into chocolate mixture.

Once chocolate has melted add shortening and stir until combined. Insert toothpick or skewer into top of strawberry and carefully dip and swirl into chocolate.

Place toothpick side down through hole in baking rack so strawberry sits on leaves, upside down,   and chocolate can solidify.  (Alternatively place dipped strawberry on waxed paper to dry)

Arrange strawberries on platter and serve.

 

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Someone’s in the Salad…

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

This is for all those who don’t wash their produce….

My son’s school has an amazing garden with fruit trees, herbs, veggies, and even chickens.  Last week my son’s class was able to pick and bring home a bag of assorted greens.  When we got home we put the bag in the fridge.  I was quite surprised that evening, when I opened the bag to wash the lettuces and found a few hitchhikers…slugs and snails.  I thought the kids would be bothered and not eat the lettuce, but I was wrong.  We relocated the critters and washed (and washed again) the leaves to look for any other visitors.  Finally we spun it in the salad spinner.  Even in the spinner we saw one last tiny slug.

Note the round object on inside of bag

escargot anyone?

My son was proud of his lettuce and we enjoyed a tasty salad together.

Now of course if you buy your lettuce at the supermarket, it is unlikley you’ll have slugs and snails.  However it is still possible to have their feces.  So remember to wash and spin no matter if your lettuce comes right from the garden, picked at the farmer’s market or purcahsed at the grocery store.  (Yes, even that bagged salad should be washed)

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