No Yolking Around – Organic Pancakes for Kids Recipe

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From Lisa Barnes

Jonathan, a two-and-a-half-year-old, was allergic to eggs but wanted to eat pancakes. His mom couldn’t find a recipe without eggs, so she sent me a request and challenge: Find an egg-free pancake recipe. I couldn’t find one either, so I came up with my own. This allows those not yet introduced to eggs to enjoy pancakes with the rest of the family.

Makes about 8 (5-inch) pancakes: 4 servings

1 cup organic whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup organic milk
2 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and oil. Add milk mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir with a rubber spatula until just blended. If batter is too thick, thin with milk.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly grease skillet with cooking spray or melted butter.

For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle or skillet. Cook until bubbles form on top of pancakes and bottoms are golden and set. Flip with a spatula and brown other sides until golden. Warm finished pancakes in a 300°F oven, while continuing to use batter to make more batches.

Tip: Packing pancakes. Pancakes make a great snack for packing and snacking. Make a double recipe and seal cold, leftover pancakes in a zipper bag in your refrigerator or freezer. They make fast, convenient on-the-go finger foods.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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What Are Those Little Black Things? (Organic Mini Banana Bran Muffin Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

There’s an important food science question circulating at my son’s preschool… what are those black little things in banana bread and muffins? Most just assume it’s something to do with the overripe bananas. But one of my son’s teachers (and a foodie with a cooking background) says she’s never noticed them in her breads. She even brought me a sample. But now that the mystery has gone on, she and I have made various banana breads and muffins with various results — all tasty but some with black things and some without. Recently I was at a cooking class at Restaurant TWO in San Francisco and asked Andrea the pastry chef. She probably thought I was crazy. She said “I don’t know. I’ve never not had them in my bread”. But then I’ve seen pictures in magazines and cookbooks both with and without the little black things.

I’ve consulted the “big book” too. That’s Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. OChef.com takes questions about “life’s vexing cooking questions”, however, they say due to the volume of questions you’re never sure of a timely answer. He has a mention about ingredients such as blueberries and walnuts being folded into batters and turning colors (such as blue and green) and this is because of the solids in the batter and the distribution (or over use) of baking soda. But these little black things are pretty uniform. So I’m not satisfied with that as an explanation for the bananas.

I’m hoping someone who reads this will know what I’m talking about and might even be able to solve the mystery. Anyone?

Organic Mini Banana Apple Bran Muffins
(from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

These mini muffins have all the flavor of a big muffin, but fit nicely into little hands. Of course you can also make these in a regular full size muffin pan, just remember to increase baking time to 15 to 18 minutes and check for doneness. Be sure you’ve already introduced wheat and eggs before giving these muffins to baby. This also makes a good use for baby’s extra apple puree.

1 cup organic wheat flour
½ cup organic oat bran
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter
¾ cup organic applesauce or homemade apple puree
3 medium organic bananas, 1 mashed (about ½ cup) and 2 sliced
½ cup organic light brown sugar
2 cage free, organic eggs

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 24 mini muffin cups or 12 regular muffin cups.

With a fork, combine flour, bran, salt, and soda in a small mixing bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave for 25 seconds on High. In a large bowl combine 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 prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full. Place banana slice on top of each muffin. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Cool muffins in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before turning out muffins.

Makes 24 mini muffins or 12 regular muffins
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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A New Sous Chef in Town (with Brussels Leaves Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

My son and I have always had a fun relationship in the kitchen. From a very early age (really 3 months) he’s been with me while I recipe test. He used to watch me knead dough from the comfort and safety of his bouncy seat at 5 months old. Later when he was about one year old he would sit in his high chair in the center of the kitchen singing and humming while smelling and (sometimes) tasting ingredients such as lemons, potatoes, and apples. Sometimes he would be at my feet playing with wooden spoons and pots. He was very patient and seemed to enjoy himself and our interactions. I made up lots of songs about vegetables and explained what I was doing with each measurement and task. Kind of a cooking show for babies.

I like to think that my kitchen lessons worked, as my son eats well compared to his friends and likes (or used to) help in the kitchen. Up until recently he would help measure, stir, turn on appliances and wait for taste tests. The recently part changed with the addition of a new sous chef – my daughter Ellery. Up until a month or so ago she wasn’t as interested in being with me in the kitchen. Sure, she’ll play with measuring cups and bang spoons, but not for long. She just always wants to eat and likes to scream at the refrigerator – hoping it will magically open. And when it does, boy she is fast. She’s able to get her little hands in and out grabbing produce, water bottles or anything else within reach. Once she has her prize, then she runs and laughs at me to come chase her. Recently she went running into the living room with tomatoes – popping them in her mouth and squealing with delight as they squished down her shirt and across the carpet. My son just said “yuk”.

While baking for the holidays my daughter seemed to notice how my son helps, and now I think she’s trying to take over his position. Literally as he’s standing on his stool, she climbs and forces her way next to him. He yells “no, no!” and she yells “see, see!” I thought “great”, she’s 18 months old so I’ll pull her high chair in and she can watch us. Nope. In the highchair she just wants to stand up. I find myself holding her to do a task and letting her watch. Then set her down quickly when I need both hands or have something requiring heat or cutting. Let’s just say she is not happy during the set down. It’s amazing how much moms can do with a child on their hip.

However, I found an activity that everyone can do together. You’ll never guess… peeling Brussels sprouts. My son and husband prefer to eat the individual leaves rather than the whole head. They come out kind of crisp and light, as opposed to the heavy texture of the whole sprout. Unfortunately it is labor intensive to peel each sprout leaf by leaf. Here’s how I, surprisingly, enlisted help. My daughter and son were eating a snack at the table. I sat with them and started to peel the spouts. I never said anything. My son asked what I was doing and he immediately volunteered to help. Once my daughter saw my son helping she reached over for a sprout too. I gave her one, thinking she would try to eat it then push it away. But she actually starting peeling it. (At this point everyone was whisked away to the sink for extra hand washing). And she was good at it too. Even copying her brother by saying “cut!” when she couldn’t peel anymore and needed more leaves loosened. We finished the job in about 20 minutes and I dubbed them the Brussels Buddies. I hope my new kitchen “line” will have this much fun the next food prep task.

Organic Brussels Leaves Recipe

1 pound organic Brussels sprouts
¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed organic lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line a jelly roll pan with foil.

Cut bottom stem or core of each sprout. Carefully peel away the leaves until it becomes too hard to peel. Cut off bottom core again and peel more layers. Continue cutting and peeling until it is too difficult to peel apart.

Place leaves in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon and stir until all leaves are coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir again.

Spread leaves onto prepared baking pan in a single layer. Cook in oven 10 – 12 minutes or until leaves are cooked and start to crisp with golden edges.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: BBC Good Food
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Happy New Year! Lobster vs. Pizza – Don’t Ask (with Kid’s Organic Pizza Dough Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

Here’s a photo from last year’s New Year’s Eve at my house. My son was 3½ and my daughter 6 months and yes, we dressed up in silly hats and rang in the New Year at 9 p.m. (East Coast time) with confetti and streamers. I’ve discovered this is what you do as parents with young children, instead of going out to glamorous parties and expensive dinners on New Year’s.

Actually my plan was to do a little celebration with the kids early, and have a nice romantic meal with my husband once the children were asleep. Maybe even rent a movie and stay up and see midnight. This did not happen. I thought I’d make whatever my son wanted for dinner. He loved making pizza dough so I thought he would naturally say “pizza”. Well he replied “lobster”. I’m not kidding. I wondered if I mentioned lobster as a possibility for the later adult meal, but couldn’t figure out how he came up with lobster. O.K. the meal would now be a romantic lobster dinner for 3. Except I wasn’t able to get to the store until 4 p.m. that evening. Note to others (and self) – do not go grocery shopping at 4 p.m. the day of a holiday. Not only was the store mobbed but it was slim pickings. Plus I didn’t want to cook live lobsters. So we supplemented with steaks and called it surf and turf.

We sat down to a lovely dinner, and even had candles and china. My son was thrilled. Of course, my daughter woke up just as the plates hit the table (they always know dinnertime) and I was off to feed and comfort her. So the dinner was enjoyed by a two-some (my son and husband).

I made lobster again this year, as my son is a creature of habit and requested it again. Who can argue? Anyone can bake lobster and melt butter. But here’s a recipe for pizza dough so you can resolve to make your own instead of ordering out in 2008.

Presto Organic Pizza Dough Recipe

There’s no other kitchen activity that’s more fun for kids than creating their own personal pizzas. Kids love to knead dough and choose their own toppings. It is not necessary to have perfect pies, so get your hands in there instead of a rolling pin.

This dough makes pizza, breadsticks and teething biscuits.

1 tablespoon powdered yeast (1 ounce package)
½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons warm water
¾ cups organic whole wheat flour
¾ cups organic unbleached flour
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients to yeast and water. Mix together and knead by hand for about 3 minutes, until dough is smooth. Make dough into a ball and return to bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled – about 30 minutes.

For pizza: place dough on a greased baking or pizza pan and press fingers to spread into desired shape. Add desired sauce and toppings and bake in a 425 degree preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crust is brown on the edges. Makes one 12 to 14 inch pizza.

For bread sticks: Divide dough into 12 portions and roll with hands into stick shapes of desired width – fatter for soft and thinner for hard. Place sticks on a greased baking pan and bake in a 425 degree preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden. Makes 12 breadsticks.

For teething biscuits: Make above breadstick recipe and place in freezer to harden, or a cool soothing treat. Be sure to carefully monitor baby while chewing on biscuits.

Double Time: Double all ingredients to make a thick crust pizza. Or simply make one pizza now and save the second dough ball in the freezer for the next time your little ones ask for pizza.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Sugar, Nuts, Spice and Everything Nice… (Organic Spiced Raisin Nut Mix Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

Sugar, nuts, spice and everything nice… that’s what holidays are made of. Well you could probably add a few more ingredients like butter, gravy and chocolate. But this Spiced Raisin Nut Mix recipe is a quick and easy one for snacking and sharing during the season.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Spiced Raisin Nut Mix

There are many variations of spiced nuts. This one is special because of the raisins which give an added crunch, sweetness and chew to the mix.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon organic evaporated cane juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 organic egg white
1 1/2 cups organic pecan halves
1 cup organic golden raisins

Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with cooking oil.

Heat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl combine sugar, salt, cinnamon and cloves.

In a seprate small bowl beat egg white until frothy. About 30 seconds with electric mixer.

Add spice mixture to egg and stir with rubber spatula to combine. Stir in pecans and toss until evenly coated.

Spread nuts on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in 5 minute increments, rotating pan 1/4 turn and gently stirring pecans (so they do not stick).

Bake 15 – 18 minutes total or until nuts and raisins are browned, but not burned. Remove from oven and cool completely before eating.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddlerand lives in Sausalito, California.
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Minestrone Mama (Organic Minestrone Soup Recipe)

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From Lisa Barnes

My children (I think like most) do not like to see mom on the telephone. As soon as the phone rings the mayhem starts. We could all be playing nicely together, but when I get on the phone my children suddenly fight, yell and generally misbehave. I finally got the reason for this behavior out of my son. He said “we don’t want you to stop playing with us”. Oh that’s sweet and I can’t argue with that – no one likes to be interrupted, but the truth is sometimes I have to take or make a call. Naptime (they don’t nap at the same time) and late at night doesn’t always work, especially for Midwest agents and East Coast publishers.

I told my son I will be brief and try to avoid calls, however he needs to understand the exceptions (see above agent and publisher). So my son is 4 years old and understands to leave his sister alone when I am on the phone. However my daughter at 17 months doesn’t care who’s on the phone and she demands (read screams loudly and grabs at me) to talk too. However I have found a way to keep my daughter happy if I have to make or accept an afternoon call… minestrone soup. Yes that’s right. Not only does my daughter love the taste of minestrone soup but she is fiercely independent and needs to spoon it for herself.

Here’s how the preparation goes. Set phone call time for afternoon when my son is napping (or at least mellow) and daughter will be hungry (about 2 p.m.) Next, always have soup on hand (see recipe below). Two minutes before scheduled call, strip daughter down to diaper for ease of clean-up. After caller answers, set lukewarm bowl of soup in front of daughter and hand her a small spoon. Sit at table to multi-task – taking notes from conversation and watching to be sure soup is not depleted and child is not eating too fast (avoid choking incident). I now have about 15 – 20 minutes of quiet time, and a content child. I’m sure to end conversation before she stands up in highchair, gives “all-done” sign or drops bowl on the floor.

Of course a bath should follow…

Organic Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is a great way to use an abundance from your garden and also get your family to eat a healthy dose of vegetables. Feel free to substitute left-over meats in place of the turkey, or skip the meat and make it a classic vegetarian meal.

Olive oil, 3 tablespoons, divided
Organic ground turkey, ½ pound
Salt, ¼ teaspoon
Pepper, ¼ teaspoon
Dried oregano, 1 teaspoon
Leek, ½, sliced, about 1/3 cup
Carrot, 1 medium, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Zucchini, 1 medium, chopped, about ¾ cup
Green Beans, 2 ounces, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Celery, 1 stalk, chopped, about ¼ cup
Organic Vegetable stock, 1 quart
Vine ripened tomatoes, 3 medium, about 2 cups
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon
Organic Cannellini beans, 1 cup, rinsed and drained
Elbow macaroni, ¼ cup
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, over medium heat. Add turkey, salt, pepper and oregano, stirring and breaking up turkey meat. Cook until no longer pink, about 4 – 5 minutes. Remove turkey with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add leek, carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme and paste and heat on medium high. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Add cannellini beans and stock and macaroni and simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Add turkey to heat, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes about 6 cups
~~
Lisa Barnes
is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.

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I Heart Organic Cranberry Sauce – Recipe

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From Lisa Barnes

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope everyone is planning an organic and sustainable Thanksgiving Holiday. I read a few challenges on websites and newspaper articles for people to shop for Thanksgiving dinner ingredients that are produced, raised and grown within a 100 mile radius from their home. One site with some helpful tips and resources is IdealBite.com . This challenge is probably easier to do in some places than others. Of course farmer’s markets are always a good place to start. Check out LocalHarvest.com and search for “turkey” in your zip code to find a list (hopefully) near you.

How about organic cranberry sauce? As soon as these fresh, tart berries are in season I buy lots to have in the freezer (my son eats them plain – talk about sour!) and also to make sauce. Growing up we had sauce from a can (not because anyone seemed to like it but because it was tradition) and I didn’t realize until years later how much better (and easy to make) homemade sauce is. This is a simple sauce that works well on the Thanksgiving table, as well as the perfect condiment for sandwiches, pancakes and waffles after the holiday.

Organic Cranberry Sauce from The Petit Appetit Cookbook

Everyone loves cranberry sauce for the holidays. This has just the right balance of tart and sweet and makes a great spread for turkey, beef or veggie sandwiches anytime. Just remember to freeze some cranberries during the winter to enjoy when they are out of season. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for company.

1 cup fresh organic cranberries
¼ cup organic apple juice
¼ cup raw sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated organic lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in a saucepot and cook over medium heat. As mixture heats, cranberries will make a popping sound as skins break open. Be careful as hot juice may splatter. Sauce is ready when cranberries have popped and sauce is thick, 5 – 8 minutes.

Makes about 1 cup.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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First Taste – Organic Butternut Puree and Soup Recipes

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From Lisa Barnes

Both my son and daughter enjoyed their first taste of food in the autumn – so there was an abundance of squashes and rich sweet potatoes available as first foods. I was reminded of these first tastes when I bought a butternut squash at the store today. I love being witness to the first time a child tries a new food. It seems so strange that the baby has no reference for the flavor or texture. I like the anticipation of the child’s reaction to the new food. Their faces show everything from “wow, mom this is awesome” (and grabbing the spoon for more) to “what are you crazy with this?” (and spitting it back down their chin).

Here’s a recipe for a baby puree that is the key ingredient in the soup recipe for the rest of the family. Make a double batch and everyone can enjoy.

Butternut Squash Puree

1 ¼ pound organic butternut squash, about 3 cups

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut squash into quarters; remove seeds and place cut side down in a baking pan. Pour ¼ cup water in bottom of pan. Bake squash until fork tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and scoop out flesh.

Puree the squash in a food processor after cooking, until you’ve reached the desired consistency. You may want to add 1 to 2 tablespoons water, breast milk or formula to thin.

Microwave directions: Cut squash in quarters (this may be difficult, depending on size) and scoop out seeds. Place squash, skin side down, in a microwave-safe dish. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and cover tightly, allowing one corner to vent. Microwave on High for 10 to 12 minutes. Check for doneness, cool and proceed with recipe above.

For older babies, cut flesh into chunks that he can pick up and eat himself.

Butternut Squash Soup

3 cups organic butternut squash puree (see above)
1 medium organic onion, chopped, about ½ cup
½ cup peeled and chopped organic carrots
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1 cup organic milk
grated nutmeg for garnish (optional)

In a medium pot, sauté onion and carrots in olive oil for about 5 minutes or until onions turn golden. Turn down heat to medium-low. Add squash and broth. Cover pot and cook for 20 minutes.

Puree small quantities of soup in a blender or food processor. Be careful as mixture will be hot. Return soup to pot, and add milk. Stir and reheat. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Makes about 6 cups of soup.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Happy HallowGreen – Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

You might think someone that promotes healthy eating wouldn’t like a holiday where begging for candy is involved. But I do. The “trick” at my house to avoid the (what’s on sale in the big bag) candy “treats” is that the Halloween candy gets “turned in” to mom and traded for a non-candy item of choice (usually a toy – but this year my son has already earmarked a pair of sweat pants). The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays goes back to the Middle Ages. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of “souling,” when people would go door to door, receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (All Hallows Day).

Fast forward to little ghosts and goblins (or firemen and princesses) going door to door expecting candy. A lot has changed! If you want to see something scary on Halloween read some of the wrappers on your child’s candy. There you’ll see partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, alkali, chemicals, artificial colorings and more. To decode these items and see a list of healthy sweet alternatives read the full story at Kiwi Magazine.

If you have ideas of a greener holiday check out this great article from the Lansing State Journal for suggestions on recycled costumes, fair trade chocolate treats, partyware, decorations and battery-free flashlights. For those looking for greener, non-candy items to pass out to trick-or-treaters here is an abbreviated list of suggestions from GreenHalloween.org:

  • seed packets
  • coins
  • pencils
  • stickers
  • polished rocks, sea glass or seashells
  • card games, tricks, jokes
  • barrettes
  • balls and spinning tops
  • mini pumpkins

Speaking of pumpkins and staying away from candy…how about making the most of the jack-o-lantern by roasting the seeds…

Roasted Organic Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

My favorite part about carving a pumpkin at Halloween is getting my hands into the pumpkin to pull out the seeds and stringy goop. My son does not share the enthusiasm for the slimy, gooey mess. And my daughter just wants to eat the goop and seeds right out of the pumpkin. The reward for mom picking thru all the stringy stuff is enjoying the roasted pumpkin seeds while watching the candle flicker in the jack-o-lantern.

1 cup organic pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon olive oil

Seasoning options:

½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon curry or
½ teaspoon granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 300°F. Cut off top of pumpkin and scoop out insides. Rinse pumpkin seeds in colander with cold water. Remove as much of the pumpkin strings and flesh from the seeds as possible. Try to blot excess water with a kitchen or paper towel. In a small bowl combine seeds, oil and seasonings of choice. Stir until coated. Spread out seeds in a single layer on foil lined baking sheet. Roast until golden brown and dry, about 40 minutes. Stir seeds with a spatula, every 10 minutes during cooking. Let cool on a paper towel and store in an airtight container.
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
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Potluck or Pot(un)luck? To Make or Not to Make. (Organic Kabobs Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

My son’s preschool class had their first pot luck open house. I marked my calendar and saw the sign-up sheet posted in the classroom. I didn’t have anything special in mind to make. Last year I made a lovely edanamme salad. I reviewed the potluck list and noticed three people had signed up for entrees, then next to their names it said pizza (three times!). I was a bit surprised. Were they all making pizza? I didn’t think so. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought potlucks were supposed to be homemade items. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I am new to the whole family/school events. To be sure something at the event would be homemade I signed up for an entree, but didn’t write in the item (I didn’t know yet). Yes, it was a bit competitive of me.

As for the meaning of potluck. I (of course) looked it up on Wikipedia and found that the word comes from the two words “(cooking) pot and luck”, probably derived from “whatever food one is lucky enough to find in the pot”. Seems the only traditional rule is that each dish be large enough to be shared among a good portion (but not necessarily all) of the anticipated guests. I was wrong. These days it apparently can be anything from anyone’s pot (or supermarket shelf) or restaurant menu.

That afternoon I made these quick and easy kabobs with a simple whole wheat couscous. I made some full skewers and some pieces of chicken and veggies I put on a toothpick (easier for kids) . When I got to the pot luck, not only did I see pizza boxes, but also boxed Halloween cupcakes (the kind I thought were banned because of the mile high frosting), restaurant chicken, take out burritos and other non-homemade items. To be fair their were also other homemade dishes – lasagna, pasta salad, green salad, brownies. I made it a point to support and eat the other homemade offerings. However my son went straight for the bright orange cupcakes (as did most every other child) – wondering if they’d be enough for everyone and also noticing there was a Halloween ring on top. When all was said and done, the crowd was hungry and there wasn’t much of anything left (homemade or otherwise). I also noticed some of the skewers had been turned into weapons for little boys to pretend swordfight. I wouldn’t have guessed I too had a “toy surprise” with my entree (of course unintentional). Maybe next year the biggest hit atthe pot luck will be cupcakes on sticks…

Anything Kabobs (from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

These are a versatile and easy dish for lunch or dinner for all ages. There are a variety of vegetables and proteins that can be chosen to fit your family’s taste buds. For vegetarians the tofu kebobs are a good option. For those who eat meat, there’s the chicken option. For a larger quantity and more variety make both chicken and tofu, as they have the same cooking time and will be ready at once.

Marinade

1 ½ tablespoons natural, low sodium soy sauce (Tamari)
1 ½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil
1 scallion/chive chopped
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Kabobs

9 oz. boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts, cubed (or firm organic tofu, bloated dry and cubed)
8 organic cherry tomatoes
8 organic mushrooms
8 mini organic bell peppers or 1 medium sized bell pepper cut into chunks

(Substitute other vegetables favorites such as baby corn, cut zucchini or broccoli flowerettes)

Whisk all marinade ingredients in a small glass or plastic bowl.

Place chicken (or tofu) in a large glass dish. Pour marinade chicken or tofu. Tofu should marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Chicken should marinate 30 minutes or longer. While waiting for marinade, soak 4 wooden skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes.

Thread tofu/chicken and vegetables onto skewers, alternating as desired. Place kabobs on a lightly greased cookie sheet or broiler pan, and transfer to a hot grill or to the oven set on broil. Cook 5 – 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through and browned.

Makes 4 kabobs.

Creative serving suggestions:

*Let older children carefully help remove skewers and eat with fingers

*Remove kabob pieces from skewers and arrange in pita bread with greens and favorite spread or dressing

*Remove kabob pieces from skewers and arrange in lettuce pieces. Roll up and secure with toothpick
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Photo Credit: Lisa Barnes
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