Gazpacho! – God Bless You

My kids never remember the word gazpacho, but think it’s funny when I say it and  and remind them it’s cold veggie soup.  While it isn’t their favorite, it is mine.  Making it for me means summer.  I’ll make a batch and serve it for dinner with salad and/or sandwiches and then enjoy the left-overs for lunch during the week.  It’s great to make in summer too because of the delicious tomatoes in season.  You can really add just about any veggie here.  You just throw it all in the blender with some beans (good protein) and spices and you’re done in 5 minutes from start to finish.  This also makes a nice appetizer to put in small teacups or shot glasses to have ready for summer outdoor gatherings.

 

Gabby’s Gazpacho, from The Petit Appetit Cookbook

Three year old Gabby called this soup “punch”, because it couldn’t be soup, since soup was hot”.  I think it’s a good way to give your family a powerful “punch” of vegetables full of folic acid and fiber.  It’s a refreshing meal on a hot summer day.

5 medium vine-ripened organic tomatoes, quartered (about 4 ½ cups)

½ medium organic cucumber, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)

½ cup cooked or canned garbanzo beans

1/8 cup chopped organic red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable broth

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Garnish (optional)

½ cup chopped avocado, tomato and/or peeled cucumber

 

Blend all ingredients except optional garnish in a food processor or blender until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to a container and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Ladle into soup bowls and top with garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cookbook Review – Cooking Light Comfort Food

I like comfort food.  Mac and cheese, pot pies, apple crips, meatloaf etc.  But I don’t make these foods frequently, and when I do I usually make mine on the healthier side.  It’s just how I cook.  So sometimes I was a bit surprised when reading Cooking Light Comfort Foods: Home Cooked, Delicious Classics Made Light by the nutritional information and label of “light” for a recipe that still has 10 grams of fat and 50 grams of carbs.  But most recipes give a reason why it’s lighter than the classic version which is helpful to those who fry cook, use lots of oil, full fat dairy and fatter cuts of meat.  Suppose that’s why comfort foods are so flavorful  and hearty and well loved?.  That said, there are some tasty recipes in Cooking Light’s Comfort Foods, and it never claimed to be a diet book.  So if you don’t already make these foods on the lighter side or need a new version of your grandma’s strawberry shortcake, then this is a good guide to get you cooking lighter.  I made…

Creamy Tomato Balsamic Soup

I thought making this soup would wreck my oven.  The cooking is done in the oven rather than the stovetop like most soups.  I was quite worried the mixture would bubble and overflow on my oven bottom (I even put a pan under), but luckily it didn’t happen.  This was good as a soup with grilled cheese sandwich points, and I would even use it over pasta (and not use add milk, as shown above).  It was hearty and had a bit of a tang from the vinegar.  It was a bit spicy for my youngest.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This was a classic chocolate chip cookie.  Of course best warm right out of the oven.  Nothing new here – sugar, butter, all purpose flour.  They came out nice and round and held shape rather than spreading (when using more buter).  Called for fewer chocolate chips than I’m used to, which my kids noticed, but still liked.

Buttermilk Pancakes

These were a hit.  These pancakes puffed up and cooked quite easily.  I substitute the usual syrup and butter topping with yogurt and fruit. Yum.

Overall Book Review

Pros: Foods that are classic and mainstream for all tastes.  Lighter versions of some classically guilt induced foods. Helpful nutritional information and comparisons to non light versions.  An appetizing color photo for just about every recipe.

Cons: Not as light as they could be.  Some of these recipes are pretty basic – you may feel like you’re competing with your family favorites (grandma’s secret recipes).

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Eat Your Flowers – With Organic Blooming Salad Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

My son has always been an adventurous eater (think mussels, clams, shitake mushrooms), and luckily (in the eating arena) my daughter does everything her big brother does.  Although sometimes I worry they will eat something they shouldn’t while exploring outside, such as a poison mushroom or wild cherry that is not edible.  I’ve explained many times about eating things not purchased from a store, or farmer’s market.  However from as young as I can remember my son would eat rosemary and fennel from the neighbors’ yard or pick wild blackberries from vines on the road.

Last month the Sunset Magazine arrived with a beautiful salad on the cover.  Like most photos of foods, my son sees it and asks “can we make that?”  But then asks “are those flowers?”  I explain they are edible flowers.  This however really peaks his interest and I realize I may be in for some trouble.  I read the recipe and the article about growing edible flowers and promise to make the salad for Easter.  I thought it was perfect since it was so beautiful, plus I’d been assigned salad for my family’s gathering.

Unfortunately I had to disappoint my son (and myself).  I couldn’t find the edible flowers anywhere.  No stores in the Bay Area were able to get their supply in time for Easter.  For reasons I don’t know.  I explained to my son we would find them for another time.

We were at the farmer’s market a few weeks later and there they were – Calendulas.  My son was longingly looking at them with a “can we, can we?”  The grower said to go ahead and try it (but cautioned just to eat the petals).  My son of course liked them (his sister seemed to as well) and we were off to make the salad.

Surprisingly my daughter was more excited about actually making the salad (she loved pulling off the petals).  But I must say it was beautiful and tasty (although I credit mostly the dressing and fresh spring peas) and worth the wait.  I’m dreaming of planting them myself to be able to find them when I need them next year.  (However like the house was a fixer, so is the yard – so stay tuned)  In the meantime I’m researching and reading (especially Rosalind and Gene) and have started our gardening foray with some small lettuces, tomatoes and herbs…

Here’s a variation of Sunset’s “Blooming Salad”

Dressing:
2  ½ tbsp. organic Safflower or canola oil
½ tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. minced tarragon
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.

Salad:
Rinse and dry handfuls of mache, mesclun and chervil sprigs and out in a large glass bowl.

Add slices of Persian cucumber, sugar snap peas and radish slices

Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss.

Pull petals from organic edible flowers* such as calendulas, nasturtiums, bachelor’s buttons, borage and violas and sprinkle over salad.
~

See also Lisa’s two new books out now at local bookstores:

Cooking for Baby: Wholesome, Homemade, Delicious Foods for 6 to 18 Months

Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Easy, Organic Snacks, Beverages, and Party Foods For Kids of all Ages.

… and Bay Area’s New Crop of Gardeners Digging In
~~
*Edible Flower Disclaimer
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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Every Day is a Holiday for Kids – with Organic Lemon Pancake Recipe

From LISA BARNES

Think the holiday season takes a break after New Year’s and before July 4th? There’s groundhog day, winter solstice, St. Patrick’s Day, Earth Day, May Day, Cinqo de Mayo, mother’s day, father’s day, and many others (real and imaginative). For children every day is a holiday. That means there are many reasons and excuses to make things special. The best thing about celebrating with children is that they find fun in the little things.

In writing my latest book The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Eat, Drink and Be MerryI reflected a lot about my childhood memories. My mom always made things special with decorations and crafts, especially at holidays. Our Halloween costumes were amazing (think Peter Pan with wired shadow, and Sigmund the sea monster. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t sit in them – we got lots of kudos and the best candy and prizes. St. Patrick’s Day breakfast was dyed, of course, a festive green – from our pancakes to our milk. Our eggs for the Easter egg contest were not simply dyed but then decorated with glitter and noodles.

For me food is a way to celebrate everything – culture, history, seasons, geography. (And to be honest I’m not crafty and can’t sew)…

To celebrate Earth Day I took my children to the local park and we cleaned up trash and wiped down the equipment. Next we picked up some seeds and planted them in pots outside. My daughter placed marigolds, beets, onions and cucumbers in the same pot, so we’ll see what comes up. Perhaps a new varietal of something tasty. Finally we made Earth Day Cookies. What are Earth Day Cookies you ask? Well they’re sugar cookies frosted like the earth. But it could’ve been anything. Call it something festive and ask your kids to decorate it, and something special is created.

We celebrated “Tres de Mayo” this year because my husband was going to be out of town on the real day. I did homemade tacos, beans and rice with all the trimmings. However not wanting to miss Cinqo de Mayo, my kids and I celebrated with nachos for dinner. What could be easier? And yes, it was basically left-overs “repackaged” as a party on a plate. Although my daughter asked “This is just a pile. Is it dinner?” When she saw the veggie platter with her favorite jicama, she was satisfied with the menu.

When my kids are off from school they will sometimes ask if it’s a Lemon Pancake Day. This is a quick and easy giant pancake that’s impressive and sweet for all ages. Quicker than other pancakes, it’s a way to celebrate sleeping in and hanging out in pajamas. See I told you any day could be made into a holiday?

Happy Mother’s Day to all the creative moms out there who make their child’s everyday a special one.

Manny’s Organic Lemon Pancake

Gayle Pirie and John Clark, chef-owners of San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema restaurant and co-authors of “Country Egg, City Egg” developed this recipe to recreate a child comfort food enjoyed on sleep-over mornings.This “dramatic egg pancake” is also known as a Dutch Baby.

3 cage- free, organic eggs
½ cup organic milk
½ cup organic all purpose flour*
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
Juice of half a lemon
Organic confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the flour and salt and whisk until a smooth batter with tiny bubbles is achieved.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. When the butter is hot and begins to sizzle, add the batter, and remove from heat. Place skillet on center rack of oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until pancake is light golden and has risen like a soufflé. The edges will be creeping over the rim of the skillet and be nicely browned.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice and a dusting of sugar.

*All-purpose not for All. Not everyone can eat all-purpose flour. I’ve made this recipe successfully with spelt, gluten-free, and rice flours. Use whichever works with your family’s diet and preference.

~

See also Lisa’s two new books out now at local bookstores:

Cooking for Baby: Wholesome, Homemade, Delicious Foods for 6 to 18 Months

Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Easy, Organic Snacks, Beverages, and Party Foods For Kids of all Ages.

~~

Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry and lives in Sausalito, California.

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“Oh. I Don’t Like Green Stuff” with Organic Spinach Hummus Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

My children’s preschool is revamping their snack offerings to the kids. They weren’t doing a poor job before, but thankfully there is an interest and effort in making improvements and of course getting the best value for the children’s health and the school’s money.

I helped the director review menu items and vendors to provide a variety of fresh, healthy foods including hummus, whole wheat crackers, veggies and dips, edamame, yogurt etc…  For St. Patrick’s Day the school was planning a green menu for snacktime and asked me to make my green hummus. I of course said I’d be happy to. I packed each container for the 4 classes: the mouse class (age 2), the rabbits (age 3), the monkeys (age 4) and the giraffes (age 5).

The teachers were all very appreciative when I dropped by with the hummus. The director and I were secretly wondering how the children would receive the “green dip”.  When I got to my son’s class (the upperclass giraffes) I was greeted by a shout from my son’s friend, “What’s That?!”  The teacher said “look it’s leprechan dip”.  He replied “Oh.  I don’t like green stuff!”  My son said “Don’t worry Zach.  My mom made it and she doesn’t know any leprechans”.

When I picked up my kids, I was greeted by my daughter (a mouse) who said “I ate all the green dip!”  The teacher said all the kids and teachers really enjoyed it.  Then I saw the director and she summed up the tasting experience which was very interesting.  The younger kids were more likely to try the dip, and then like it and eat it. However the older kids were less likely to try, having a preconceived idea of “green stuff”. When I got to the giraffe class the teachers said about half tried it – mostly the girls. And my son couldn’t get Zach to try it – handmade by leprechan’s or not.

I made some extra for our family, to serve with my other St. Patrick’s favorites, corned beef, cabbage and Irish soda bread.

Organic Spinach Hummus Recipe (from Petit Appetit Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

Is your family ho-hum for hummus? Try this variation using spinach. This is quick and easy dish to perk up a crudité plate for a play group or simply pack with pita points in your child’s lunchbox.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces canned organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed (3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic
1 cup packed organic spinach leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pita points or vegetable sticks, to serve

In a blender or food processor, combine chickpeas and garlic and puree until smooth. Add spinach, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Blend thoroughly. With motor running, gradually add olive oil and process until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

To make the task even easier, purchase prepackaged organic spinach or baby spinach leaves, but still remember to wash.

*Spinach is on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list and also high in nitrites. Reduce your family’s exposure by buying organic.
~
See also Lisa’s two new books out at bookstores and online:

Cooking for Baby: Wholesome, Homemade, Delicious Foods for 6 to 18 Months

Eat, Drink and Be Merry: Easy, Organic Snacks, Beverages, and Party Foods For Kids of all Ages.
~~
Lisa Barnes
is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry and lives in Sausalito, California.
OrganicToBe.org
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Help! I Have No Kitchen (with Organic Roll Up Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

The past month has been a bit kooky in the kitchen. First we were without refrigeration. An ancient sub-zero died and our landlord couldn’t figure out how to remove it  (800 pounds! up three flights in a townhouse). It was an adventure at first. Ice chests for the food and I told the kids it was like camping. But it sure got old trying to dig through all the ice to find the cream cheese (always at the bottom) to make my son’s favorite wrap for school lunch in the morning. For someone who teaches how to create convenience for family cooking by freezing quantities of purees for baby and left-overs of family meals – this was a challenge. Cooking with no leftovers seemed wasteful. Next we had a new refrigerator outside on our deck (no really – waitng for someone to solve the subzero issue). I have a huge appreciation for refrigeration. My friend Kristi joked about my going totally green and how I’m cutting back on electricity by not having a refrigerator. She even found this article in the NY Times about people giving up their refrigerator by choice. Now that’s a commitment.

In December we bought a fixer house and have been remodeling the kitchen and baths (as green as possible but we’ll have appliances).  With a move in date approaching, I’ve been so excited. A new kitchen with a  new refrigerator (not a Sub Zero) inside the actual kitchen.

However as remodels go, there’ve been glitches. We moved in this week and the kitchen wasn’t finished.  However what was working was the new refrigerator. Funny, irony. Now I’m about 6 days in without a range. No problem I thought, I’ll do more raw foods – better for us anyways right? Well it is cold and rainy outside and salads, wraps and cold foods just aren’t comforting like a nice bowl of hot soup.  We’ve been eating out more which is taking a toll (on our wallets and my sanity – taking 2 kids out to eat too often loses its luster).  I just want to cook a hot meal and make a cup of tea and eat from our dishes.

We’ve also been undoing (just temporarily) some of our green habits and eating traditions. We’ve used some plastic utensils and old birthday paper plates, I found when packing. I felt bad and bought biodegradable plates, and bowls and then unpacked the silverware (even though I can’t wash it). We also bought bottled water. I know, the guilt! I just don’t want to drink from the one working sink in the bathroom (I’m sure it’s perfectly fine). But we’re increasing our garage and recyclables without unpacking many dishes (which can’t be washed without a sink). We also ate some food in the bedrooms. This has never happened. We always sit at the dining room table or in the kitchen to eat or drink. It’s just a rule. Of course the kids think it’s pretty cool to eat a granola bar and yogurt in their room for an afternoon snack. I just keep telling myself (and the kids) it’s an adventure and once the workers are out of my kitchen we go back to the table.

So I’ve been questioning which of the three kitchen items I could do without the longest… the range, the refrigerator or the sink? Not having the range makes me more creative. Not having the refrigerator takes me to the store and farmer’s market more often, but at least I’m eating very fresh. Surprisingly I think the sink has been the hardest to go without. Not being able to wash/rinse dishes (my husband joked how about taking them outside in the rain), let alone put them somewhere is hard. Plus there’s the water to drink and cook with (again hard with the bathroom sink). And washing your hands (and little sticky faces).  Boy I realize we use the kitchen sink quite often.

I know I am going to appreciate my kitchen and fixer quite a bit (I hope soon!)

And to add to the chaos my new book Petit Appetit Eat, Drink and Be Merry was released this week.  Here’s my son’s wrap recipe from the book. Luckily there’s a never ending supply of creativity of what can be wrapped up.

Jonas’ Turkey Roll-Up
At the time of this writing my son requests this be packed for school almost every day. The best part is it is simple and can be done in only a few minutes. If my son ever gets out of a rut he’ll realize how versatile this can be too; prosciutto or roast beef slices can be substituted for the turkey. For a veggie option grate or thinly slice veggies such as zucchini, carrots, bell pepper and layer with cheese. I usually make one whole lavosh roll-up for the day, half for my son’s lunchbox and half for my daughter’s on-the-go snack.

1 roll; 2 servings

1 piece lavosh (about 13 × 9 inches)
2 ounces organic Neufchatel cheese
2 ounces thinly sliced organic cooked turkey

Spread lavosh with a layer of cheese. Layer turkey in single layer on cheese.

Starting from narrow side, roll lavosh until you reach the end. You may want to add a small spread of cream cheese to secure roll. Using a sharp knife, make a quick cut in the center of roll. Cut each half in half again. Then each quarter in half, so you have 8 pieces.

Kids Korner Need more glue! My son likes these rolled tightly and packed in his bento-style container. He likes to be sure I spread enough “glue”, a.k.a cream cheese to keep them together without unraveling.
~
See also Lisa’s Getting Greener or Getting Fooled – Label Deception
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry [Avail. March 2009], and lives in Sausalito, California.
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

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Spinach Shrimpy Fusilli (Organic Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

Ask your child to say that ten times, fast. High in protein and iron, this dish is a good way to introduce shrimp into your family’s diet. The pasta is creamy and comforting and really highlights the fresh flavor of the shrimp and spinach.

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces uncooked organic fusilli pasta
10 ounces fresh organic spinach leaves, torn into 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup sliced organic pearl onions, about 8 to 10
1 1/4 cups organic vegetable broth
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and salt and sauté until shrimp turn pink, 2 minutes. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender. Drain well and return hot pasta to cooking pot. Stir in spinach while pasta is hot and allow spinach to wilt.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat, and add onion. Sauté, stirring often, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in broth and lemon zest and cook until mixture begins to thicken slightly. Stir in ricotta cheese until combined. Stir in nutmeg and pepper. Add shrimp and ricotta mixture to pasta and gently toss together.
~
See also Lisa’s Popeye Pureé (Organic Spinach For Kids Recipe)
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry [Avail. March 2009], and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: © Tonobalaguer | Dreamstime.com/
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

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Fat Tuesday, with Organic Jambalaya and Citrus Corn Muffins Recipe

From Lisa Barnes

Before having children my husband and I always managed to celebrate Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday in the local southern restaurant/bar. We love New Orleans – the people, the jazz, the food, the food, the food….  We haven’t been in a few years (pre Katrina) so we use any excuse to celebrate and bring attention to the great city at our house. Unfortuantely some of our favorite cajun restaurants are gone from San Francisco. If anyone can make a suggestion in the Bay Area, please let me know.

Fat Tuesday at our house will start with my kids and I making festive feather masks and donning our colorful beads. Next we will sit down to one of our favorite meals of jambalaya with corn muffins.  Every night at the dinner table my family has a ritual. Each person (no matter how young) shares three things they are thankful for, along with telling everyone the favorite part of their day. For Fat Tuesday we will be especially thankful and remember the people who lost their family, friends, homes and jobs, and who continue to struggle in the areas hit by Katrina.

Years ago I bought a souvenir cookbook on one of our New Orleans visits. It is very well used with stains and dog eared pages, but it still works great. I changed a favorite jambalaya recipe to one that is child friendly and not too hot (although you can make adjustments) for my own book. Enjoy!

Organic Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Recipe

Jambalaya is an easy one pot meal to make for the whole family. In the South this is considered a major comfort food.  For a spicier meal, substitute a Cajun Andouille sausage. This one is less spicy, for little mouths, and more health conscious than authentic Jambalaya recipes. But there are plenty of flavors from all of the fresh ingredients. Serve with citrus-corn muffins, below.

2 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil
½ pound organc chicken-apple sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
1 small onion, chopped, about ½ cup
1 large organic red bell pepper, chopped, about 1 cup
1 clove garlic, minced
1¾ cups organic chicken broth
3 medium vine ripened tomatoes, or 8 ounces of Pomi tomatoes, drained and chopped
¼ cup Pomi tomato sauce
1 Bay leaf
¼ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon chopped, fresh oregano
1 cup uncooked short grain brown rice
1 large (3/4 pound) boneless, skinless organic chicken breast, cut in 2 inch strips

In a large, heavy stockpot heat oil over medium-high heat.

Add sausage, onion, pepper and garlic. Stir together and cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in broth, tomatoes, bay leaf, and spices.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in rice. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken, cover and simmer 5 additional minutes until chicken is cooked and rice is tender. Let stand, covered 10 minutes. Remove Bay leaf before serving.

One to watch and wash!  A one pot meal is a great time saver. All the ingredients can be prepped beforehand (even the night before) and then added when ready. Only one pot means one pot to watch when cooking and only one to wash when finished.

Organic Citrus-Corn Muffins Recipe

This savory muffin is inspired from a spa recipe. These muffins make a great accompaniment to family soups and salads, as well as the perfect healthy snack for active toddlers. You can bake these in adult size or mini muffin tins. If using mini tins, reduce baking time to 10 -12 minutes.

1 tablespoon grated organic orange zest (about 2 medium oranges)
2 cups unbleached flour
½ cup organic cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 large, cage- free, organic eggs
½ cup organic light brown sugar, packed
½ cup mashed organic banana, (about 1 large banana)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease 12 cup standard muffin tin or 24 cup mini muffin tin with vegetable oil. Using a small knife or zester, remove zest from oranges.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, banana and zest. Mix well.

Using a rubber spatula, fold wet buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Be careful not to over mix, as muffins will be tough. Spoon batter into muffin cups, about ¾ full.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until muffins are brown on top and pick test (see below) is successful. Remove muffin tin from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Turn out muffins onto rack to cool completely. If muffins stick to pan, run a dull knife around edge of muffins and pan to release.

Makes 18 large muffins or 36 mini muffins.

Get picky! Keep toothpicks or small wooden skewers on hand to check muffins and other baked goods for doneness. Simply insert pick in center, and when comes out clean, muffins are done.

~
See also Lisa’s Quick Organic Snacks For Kids
~~
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry [Avail. March 2009], and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Nola.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

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Gung Hay Fat Choy! (with Organic Long Life Noodle Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

Last night our family celebrated Chinese New Year in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  Even in past years of rain, this has become a family tradtition.  This was named one of the top 10 parades throughout the country – what’s a few raindrops?  This year was clear and crowded.  We met my cousins, who oddly enough have lived in the Bay Area 35 years and never been to Chinatown.  It was quite a spectacle of sights, sounds, tastes, and colors for all ages.  It was fun to see my kids showing my family around and telling them which foods were their favorite (egg custard, shrimp hargow and lomein) and which store fronts they like to see (the fishmongers and produce stands).

This year we walked into a store that had a variety of brightly colored bulk bins.  Bins usually mean candy.  And while they did have a section of the western sweets, the majority of items we had never seen, let alone tasted.  There was the typical dried mangoes and papaya, but it didn’t stop there.  Bright green balls called “green plums”, lacey shredded cuttlefish, dried lychees and shaved octopus tentacles were some of the offerings.  My son was begging for the dried fruit peel.  Not one to squelch culinary curiosity, I bagged some (along with mangoes and prunes) and paid.  My cousins couldn’t believe he would want to try it.  And no, he didn’t like the fruit peel (I don’t blame him), but I appreciated him trying it and wanting to experience something new.  I think that’s what fun and interesting about introducing children to new cultures, customs, holidays and foods.

My new book Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry [Avail. March 2009] gives ideas, tips and recipes for children’s snacks, drinks and party foods.  As part of the “merry” section there’s lots of good reasons to celebrate from birthdays and New Years (western and Chinese)  to simple “snow days”.  Here’s a noodle recipe for getting your family  into the Chinese New Year spirit.  Happy 2009!

Long Life Noodles

Fireworks, lantern festivals, dragon dances, parades, and lots of food are all part of this special occasion. Both symbolic and delicious, noodles make a great food for sharing during Chinese New Year. There are many options for noodles that could work besides rice noodles; try Chinese egg noodles, udon, or soba for a variation. The peanut butter lends a bit of sweetness your child will enjoy.

Makes 8 to 10 (1-cup) servings

8 ounces rice noodles
2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup julienned organic carrot (1 large)
1 cup julienned organic red bell pepper (1 large or 4 mini)
¼ cup chopped scallions (about 3)
2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari
1 tablespoon peanut butter
½ cup organic vegetable broth
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant and soft, about 1 minute. Add the carrot and bell pepper and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender but not soft, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, scallions, tamari, peanut butter, broth, and lime juice and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and heat until hot, stirring to combine with vegetables and sauce.
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See also Lisa’s DooF-a-Palooza
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry [Avail. March 2009], and lives in Sausalito, California.
Images Credit: Lisa Barnes
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

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Hooray for the Half! Angels vs. Devils (cakes, not kids)

From Lisa Barnes

When you ask a child under 10 years old their age, you’re bound to hear a fraction in the answer. “I’m 5… and a half” says my son. Of course the “half” is said louder than the rest of the answer. A friend of his says “Well I’m 5 and a quarter”. My kids both get their halves in January. In order to celebrate this momentous occasion, we make a half dessert. It could be half a cake (to be shared by the family) or each person gets half a muffin or cupcake.

We even cut the candle in half. So you still get a wish, it’s just a stubby one. And we sing “Happy Half Birthday to You…” There are no fancy gifts (isn’t the title enough?), but I like to give a pair of socks or shoes (just wrapping one).

My daughter is a vanilla lover while my son goes for chocolate (like, Mom, the darker the better). I’ve shared a few cupcake recipes (carrot cupcakes, better brownie cupcake) which work well cut in half. Here’s also an angel food and devil’s food recipe, so you can see who wins out in your house.
Happy Half!

Angel Food Cake

This is a yummy, light, and airy cake for celebrating just about anything. It is a lighter alternative to chocolate cakes with heavy frosting. The fun part for kids and adults is letting them choose their own toppings and décor for their piece. Set out fresh raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries; whip up some cream; and maybe have some chocolate sauce for a truly decadent treat. Let children create their own special pieces.

Makes 12 servings

1 cup organic cake flour, sifted
1 1/3 cups evaporated cane juice
12 large cage-free organic egg whites, at room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan or tube pan.

Mix cake flour and sugar together in a bowl. Beat egg whites and the cream of tartar with an electric mixer on high until stiff peaks are formed, about 5 minutes. Sift one-third of the flour mixture into the egg whites and gently fold in. Repeat by sifting another one-third of flour and finally the last one-third until all combined. Fold in salt, vanilla, and almond extract until combined.

Pour or spoon batter into prepared pan. It will fill the pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until top is golden brown and batter does not shake. Remove pan from oven and completely cool in pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour. When cool, place plate over top of pan and carefully turn over. If cake does not come out, slide a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen cake.

Little Devil’s Cake

This is not a true devil’s food cake because it does not contain melted chocolate in addition to cocoa. However your little devil will be happy to indulge in this tasty cake. The drizzle of frosting is especially pretty and lends moisture to the cake.

Makes 1 (8-inch-round) cake; 8 servings

5 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, melted
½ cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup organic applesauce
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 large cage-free organic eggs
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unbleached organic all-purpose flour
¼ cup hot water

Icing

1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon organic milk, plus additional if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8-inch-round cake pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together butter and cocoa. Stir in applesauce and brown sugar until combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating to combine. Stir in vanilla, baking soda, and salt.

Gradually add flour to cocoa mixture, stirring just until blended but do not over mix. Stir in hot water, just until blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Gently turn out cake and cool completely on wire rack before icing.

To make icing: Combine all icing ingredients in a small bowl. Using a fork, drizzle icing over cake. To serve, cut into 8 wedges.

Disappearing Icing. We made this for my son’s half birthday. The next day my son wanted a piece and noticed the icing was gone. He wondered what happened. I explained it was magic and that it just sunk into the cake. He asked, “If I say abracadabra will it reappear?”
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See also Lisa’s She Takes The Cake (with Organic Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe For Kids)
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Lisa Barnes
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com

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