Play Ball! Packing a Little League Dinner

Tailgate Dinner

Baseball season is officially underway and here I am packing and planning for tailgate dinners we can take to my 10 year old’s games.  Sure sometime we can wait until it’s over but that could be 7:30 or 8 p.m.  It’s easier for me to plan ahead and get it ready and packed.  I’m also discovering my son not only wants food during the game but can eat a meal after too.  My daughter is happy with packing food as it gives her something to do and as she says “it’s like a real baseball game”.   I’ve done lots of sandwiches and pasta in the past.  See last season’s dinner line-up blog.  But now I got to to thinking about the real game aspect and wanting to expand my little league menu.

So this week it was chicken apple and vegetarian sausages with popcorn.  Then to round out the meal there were blackberries, apples, carrots, tortilla chips and dip.  I ended up doing the score keeping so I couldn’t eat mine during the game.  But I was pleased when I got home.  My son was thrilled to have a sausage during the game when he got hungry.  One of my son’s teammates asked his mom to please get him the same thing my son had.  My kids I’m sure are sometimes embarrassed by all my food rules and snobbery but I saw my son smile as I told the mom I had made it at home.  She could’ve guessed by my large cooler bag under the bleachers.  I’m happy to share too.  I know I can go overboard, but I’d rather have too much than nothing.  I sometimes see parents rush out and leave the game to go get anything that will suffice as food for their children.  My son was even happier when he realized I had made an extra (actually thinking for Dad) and could have another dinner after the game.  I could’ve set up a stand.






Take Me Out To the Ballgame – Kettle Corn Recipe





To celebrate my son getting his braces off and because we were headed to the San Francisco Giants game the next night, I decided to make Kettle Corn.  My son was very excited by the idea as he’s been very good about not having popcorn for the past 13 months during braces (at least as far as I know).  This also meant if I brought the kettle corn hopefully my kids wouldn’t ask for things like Cracker Jack’s and other ballpark food.  (We were packing peanuts too).



Kettle corn is easy enough and I’ve made it dozens of time.  It’s something that I think of making quickly too because I always have the ingredients.  Except I didn’t realize my popcorn was old.  Nor did I know what happens if the kernals are old.  Well now I can tell you, they don’t pop up nice and fluffy – they kind of half popped and burned.  Yucky and smelly.  I checked my popcorn bag and the date was almost a year previous.  Oops!  Luckily I had enough time to go to the store and buy new kernals before the game.  It was a hit with our family as well as some friends.  (The Giants won too!)

Kettle Corn (adapted from Petit Appetit Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

Kettle corn is a perfect mix of salt, sugar, and crunch that kids and adults find addictive. Be careful and patient when popping on the stove, as moving the lid may cause hot popcorn to escape. Have children listen from a safe distance.

Makes about 7 (1-cup) servings

½ cup organic popcorn

¼ cup grapeseed oil

3 tablespoons evaporated cane juice

1 teaspoon coarse salt

Pop the kernels using a large 10-inch, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid or a popcorn maker. If using the pot, coat the bottom of the pot with oil and heat over medium heat. Drop in 1 kernel of corn. Wait until it pops then add the remaining kernels. Sprinkle the sugar over the kernels. Cover and shake pan. Continue to shake pan until all the corn has popped, being careful not to burn, about 3 minutes. (You may want to slightly lift lid every minute or two, so steam can escape.)

Place the popped popcorn in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Toss gently to combine.  Serve immediately or keep up to 2 days in an airtight container.




Got a Princess? Review of Annabel Karmel’s Latest Cookbook


As you know I receive many different cookbooks and recipes to try.  As soon as I opened Annabel Karmel’s Princess Party Cookbook, Over 100 Delicisous Recipes and Fun Ideas, it was whisked away by my daughter.  She’s 4 1/2 and likes anything with sparkles and bling…especially Annabel’s photos of cupcakes, cookies and lovely girlie party presentations.  I’ve had the book a few months and forgot about actually making something because she looks through it so often (even puts sticky notes on her favorites), I couldn’t take it away from her bedroom shelf.

I finally decided to try out a few things one weekend.  My daughter was so excited.  Obviously the photos were enticing, but how about the taste.  I have to say the recipes are pretty good and we have a few new favorites.  The book is full of fun ideas with matching foods and recipes for girl get togethers – from themed birthdays (princess and the pea, Cinderella) to Valentine’s parties to movie star sleep over and soda fountain fetes.  My daughter really wants to make the jeweled cupcakes.  However like a few other ingredients for the presentation, the edible jewels are hard to find.  Annabel even has some websites for resources, but couldn’t help with these jewels.  I finally found them and will report back when they arrive (hopefully soon).   

We tried the Cindarella’s Coach Risotto with pumpkin and arborio rice first.  I thought this was good choice because I had some left-over pumpkin puree and the rest of the ingredients.  However I had to guess at the amount of pumpkin since the recipe calls for 1/2 medium butternut squash or pumpkin.  It would have been helpful to have the amount too.  I guessed at 1 cup, which worked well.  My family ate the risotto with grilled pork loin and it made a nice hearty side dish.  It said 4 – 6 servings but this was quite generous. 

Next we made Cheesy Cloud Pillows.  This was basically popcorn with shredded cheese.  It was o.k., but nothing exciting.  Here’s a good example of a fancy name to create excitement.  No, I’m not being critical … sounds a lot like “Dad’s Magic Chicken”.   

My daughter will never eat a boring egg salad sandwich again, after seeing the egghead sandwich recipe and photos.  Basically egg salad “open-faced” on bread.  The face is created with red pepper pieces, shredded carrots, pickles, olives, etc. etc.  We’ve had great fun making and eating these.  While simple, it is fun and engaging for all ages. 

Last week we hit on another favorite… the angel cut-out cookie recipe (see below).  Annabel suggests making these angles to hang on the holiday tree.  They’re lovely, but hanging up seems like such a tease and waste of a good cookie.  We decided to shape the dough into snowflakes and ballerinas to share at my daughter’s winter wonderland dance performance.  These were very good.  You can’t go wrong with butter and superfine sugar.  I made my usual glaze (milk and confectioner’s sugar), because I didn’t have meringue powder for the recipe’s icing. My daughter really got into decorating these and carefully placed sugar pearls and candied stars on each cookie, to much appreciation. 

All and all if you have a girlie girl and need party and food ideas then you’ll enjoy this book.  Sometimes I was a little put off by all the use of candy in the decorating, but you can substitute (dried fruits, nuts and chocolate chips), or just know this is not an everyday healthy cookbook.  Remember too, Mrs. Karmel is from the UK and some ingredients may differ or be less available stateside.    

Angel Cut-Out Cookies by Annabel Karmel

(condensed version of recipe, without icing and tree hanging tips)

2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons butter, slightly softened

3/4 cup superfine sugar

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl cream the butter and suagr until pale and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat until combined.

Stir the flour and salt together with a fork in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture.  Mix until it forms a soft dough.  Form the dough into a flattish disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until firm enough to roll out.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Divide the dough in half and and roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into desired shapes.  Repeat with the second half of the dough, then reroll the trimmings and cut out more cookies.

Transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper, speacing the cookies about 1 inch apart.  Bake the cookies for 11 – 12 minutes (*check in 8 minutes if small shapes), until golden brown.  Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool completely before icing and decorating.

*I burned a batch when using small cutters.  So check a few minutes towards the end of baking time.