Monthly Archives: September 2012

Banana Nut Bread French Toast with Maple Butter Pecan Ice Cream

It’s perfect for special weekend brunches, which is why I’m bringing this to you on a soggy and puddle-filled Friday morning. Before gathering the umbrella that I never use for myself, only for the kids ( I prefer to just run for it, don’t you?), I made this quick bread for breakfast and then soaked it in a spiced egg custard then seared it on all six sides in browned butter and topped it with maple butter pecan ice cream.  It’s awesome and banana bread french toast is a classic. It’s a rainy weekend comfort breakfast of mine that you must try tomorrow morning.   This particular banana bread recipe is speckled with oatmeal and packed with nuts to make it hearty and satisfying in addition to deliciously sweet and decadent.  The browned butter and spices are spectacular when paired with the contrasting cold of the maple butter pecan ice cream.  It’s autumn in a bite.

It’s apparently going to be pouring rain for all of today and possibly tomorrow too, so this is just the thing to accompany your coziest sweat pants, the always alluring excuse not to go running too many errands and perhaps even a blanket, hot beverage of your choice and a great book.  How anyone can’t love rainy days with those things alone is completely beyond me.  Add this lovely banana bread, turn it into the best french toast you’ve ever eaten and (sure, why not just twice a year) top it with some ice cream you have yourself one happy little day, rainy or not.

 

 

Banana Nut Bread French Toast with Maple Butter Pecan Ice Cream

French Toast:  Serves 6-8

  • 5 eggs
  • pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • butter (for pan)
  • slices of banana bread (recipe follows)
  • maple butter pecan ice cream, for serving (recipe follows)

Whisk together eggs, spices, vanilla and milk.  In a large nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat, add butter.   While butter begins to cook, drop slices of banana bread into eggs mixture.  Coat on all sides of the bread.  Drop bread into pan once butter begins to brown.  Sear french toast on all six sides, gently until browned, using tongs and a spatula (do the largest sides first so it doesn’t fall apart on you).

Oatmeal Banana Nut Bread

  •  4 spotted bananas
  • dash of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg and/or ginger (optional)
  • one teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 heaping cup of chopped nuts (I used a combination of pecans, walnuts and almonds)
  • 1/2 stick butter (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs (at room temperature)

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and grease a nine inch bread pan and move oven rack to top third of the oven.

In a large microwave safe bowl, combine bananas, spices and vanilla.  Mash together and microwave on high until fragrant and soft.   Using an electric mixer or whisk, thoroughly mix the bananas with the spices until smooth and uniform in texture.  Add oats and stir to combine.

Sift together the flours and baking soda.  Gently toast nuts in a dry nonstick sauté pan until fragrant and then add to flour mixture.  Toss to combine.

With an electric mixer or whisk, thoroughly cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each egg is added.   Add in the bananas and whisk thoroughly again.  Lastly add in the dry-nut-flour mixture in two additions, gently stirring after each addition.

Bake in prepared oven  until the bread springs back when gently pressed (or about thirty minutes). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

 

Maple Butter Pecan Ice Cream

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract

Coarsely chop pecans. In a skillet melt butter over moderate heat until foam subsides. Toast pecans in butter, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Cool pecans and chill in a sealable plastic bag. Buttered pecans may be made 3 days ahead and chilled.

In a heavy saucepan bring cream, milk, maple syrup, and salt just to a boil, stirring occasionally. In a bowl beat yolks until smooth. Add hot cream mixture to yolks in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into pan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170° F. Pour custard through a sieve into a clean bowl and cool. Stir in extract. Chill custard, its surface covered with plastic wrap, at least 3 hours, or until cold, and up to 1 day.

Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker. Transfer ice cream to a bowl and fold in chilled pecans. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden. Ice cream may be made 1 week ahead.

 Source for the Ice Cream

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Portobello Kebabs with Garlic Mash and Mo’shrooms (and a book review)

I was sent a book to share with you, aptly titled, “Must Have Been Something I Ate,” by Peggy Kotsopoulos, a registered holistic nutritionist.  You know the quote by Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” this book illucidates that message on every one of its pages.  The health guide portion at the beginning of the book will make you want to try new ingredients, listed in the recipe portion of the book. From chia seeds, to hemp granules (stay with me here, fellow butter lovers) these nutritionally dense powerhouses aren’t necessarily added for flavor but rather a means of curing and preventing ailments and improving your overall health.  Many of the recipes are simple and quick to make and can be revamped for a little more glamour or ease (whatever your goal).   I tried this mushroom dish  and found the mushrooms were hearty and satisfying, the flavors were vivid and fresh and the colors popped off the plate.  It was also quite easy to prepare, which is an added bonus.  You can find that recipe below and check out her book for more.   I might skip the red onion next time and go with something else, since I’m not much of a raw or warmed onion lover.  But, honestly anything smothered in mushroom gravy is pretty good to me, so I made extra as I always do.

Moisturize your skin by eating guacamole, improve your immune system with mushroom kebabs,  improve your digestive health while lowering your cholesterol and boost a rapid fire of your happy neurotransmitters with her grandma’s lentil soup.   Sounds good to me.  Whatever the ailment or improvement you’re looking for, it’s probably covered in this information-packed book, which is just less than two hundred pages.  That’s pretty impressive.

 

Portobello Kebabs with Garlic Mash and Mo’shrooms

Peggy Kotsopoulis, “Must Have Been Something I Ate”.

Garlic Mash Ingredients:

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  •  2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Make Garlic Mash:  Steam cauliflower and parsnip until tender, approximately ten minutes.  Add to blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth Make

Mushroom Gravy Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup maitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground chia seed
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • sea salt to taste

Mushroom Gravy:   Heat coconut oil on medium heat. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms have browned.   Add half the mushroom mixture to the blender and blend until smooth.   Add ground chia and continue to blend until well combined. Pour into bowl and stir in remaining mushrooms.

Kebabs Ingredients:

  •  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  •  1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, cut into 1″ pieces (I used halved baby portobellos)
  • 2 red peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1″ pieces

Make Kebabs:  Preheat grill or barbecue and soak eight large wooden skewers in water for twenty minutes.   In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic and sea salt;set aside. Thread a piece of the portobello mushrooms followed by a piece of red pepper and a chunk of red onion.  Repeat until the skewer is full.   Repeat threading the remaining vegetables onto the rest of the skewers.   Brush skewers with olive oil and garlic marinade and grill, turning occasionally, until warmed through. Serve immediately with Garlic Mash and Mushroom Gravy.  Serves four.

 

Portobello Kebabs with Garlic Mash and Mo’shrooms

Recipe Type: Main, Vegan
Cuisine: American
Author: Peggy Kotsopoulis
Serves: 4
From “Must Have Been Something I Ate” byPeggy Kotsopoulis
Ingredients
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 parsnip,peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup maitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chia seed
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, cut into 1″ pieces (I used halved baby portobellos)
  • 2 red peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1″ pieces
Instructions
  1. Make Garlic Mash: Steam cauliflower and parsnip until tender, approximately ten minutes. Add to blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth
  2. Make Mushroom Gravy: Heat cocnut oil on medium heat. Add garlic and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms have browned. Add half the mushroom mixture to the belnder and blend until smooth. Add ground chia and continue to blend until well combined. Pour into bowl and stir in remaining mushrooms.
  3. Make Kebabs: Preheat grill or barbecue and soak eight large wooden skewers in water for twenty minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic and sea salt;set aside. Thread a piece of the portobello mushroomsfollowed by a piece of red pepper and a chunk of red onion. Repeat until the skewer is full. Repeat threading the remaining vegetables onto the rest of the skewers. Brush skewers with olive oil and garlic marinade and grill, turning occasionally, until warmed through. Serve immediately with Garlic MAsh and Mushroom Gravy. Serves four.

 

 

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Vegetarian Egg Rolls

I found some egg roll wrappers at the supermarket the other day and became acutely aware they were simply pasta sheets.   Did you know this?  Apparently I’ve been sleeping under a rock because I thought there was some anciently abstruse mystery to the perfectly crisp chew in the wrapping of an egg roll.  Turns out, they are surprisingly easy to make at home, particularly with the store-bought help I found in the organic egg roll wrappers.  Superior in quality and flavor than any take-out, they far exceeded my expectations.  They’re conveniently also more healthy than takeout since I could control the amount of oil I added.   I think I just found my new favorite thing to add to my lunch rotation.

 

I used bok choy, carrots, a bit of organic shelled edamame for protein, and some red bell pepper with the obvious flavor favorites of mine: onion, garlic, ginger and some tamari.  I added Chinese mustard and Thai chili sauce for a little sweet and savory spice, but those sauces could change based on what you have on hand, or prefer to use.  The filling could vary as the seasons change as well.  I’m big on recipes that can vary from cook to cook, as you know.  The bok choy was practically sparkling it was so crisp, and so that’s what I used.  Bok choy will only become more common as the weather cools down further, so I figured it a decent choice for fall and winter.

 

Vegetarian Egg Rolls

Ingredients
  • one head of bok choy
  • three large carrots (more if smaller)
  • one cup shelled organic edamame
  • one red bell pepper, trimmed, stemmed and seeded
  • one white onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • freshly grated ginger
  • tamari, or soy sauce
  • “Thai style” chili sauce or sriracha
  • Chinese mustard
  • One package of organic egg roll wrappers
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • duck sauce for brushing (optional)
Instructions
  1. Trim the bottom of the bok choy, wash thoroughly and cut into thirds. Peel, trim and roughly chop carrots.
  2. In a large stock pot of salted boiling water, add bok choy, carrots, edamame, bell pepper, three quarters of the onion, and three of the cloves of garlic. Cover the pot and let cook for three minutes.
  3. Drain and drop vegetables into lightly salted ice water. Once cool enough to handle, drain again.
  4. Using the grater attachment to your large food processor, add the blanched vegetables in small handfuls.
  5. Once completely grated, place into mesh strainer or cheese cloth and squeeze out excess liquid. Drop onto clean kitchen or paper towels to drain further.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together about a tablespoon each of grated ginger, tamari, chili sauce and mustard (less or more if desired). Add vegetables and toss. Taste and season further to taste, if needed with aforementioned sauces.
  7. Note: At this point you may pause the recipe by covering the bowl with plastic and placing into the refrigerator until ready to wrap and roll the egg rolls.
  8. On a clean work surface, place egg roll wrappers with corners at the top and bottom (think diamond, not square).
  9. Drop a bit (about a rough three tablespoons) of filling in center of wrapper and wrap, bottom corner over filling. Then wrap the side corners inward over the bottom. Lastly, wrap the top corner down over the others. Continue to do this until all the filling is used.
  10. In a large saute pan or wok, over medium high heat, add about a half an inch of oil with a smashed peeled clove of garlic and the remaining quarter of the onion, roughly chopped.
  11. Add egg rolls two at a time until gently golden brown, turning to brown on all sides.
  12. Drain on paper towels and gently brush with duck sauce if desired
  13. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, if desired.

 

Vegetarian Egg Rolls

Recipe Type: Easy, Vegetarian, Lunch, Dinner, takeout
Cuisine: American, Chinese,
Author: Kate
Store bought organic egg roll wrappers (found in the produce section near the tofu) make this recipe an easy weeknight staple as a main or appetizer for stir-fry night. This is also an easy way to revamp leftovers into something “new” but just grating them in the food processor and wrapping them in the egg roll wrappers. Mix and change the vegetable filling with easily grated vegetables as the seasons change for freshness.
Ingredients
  • one head of bok choy
  • three large carrots (more if smaller)
  • one cup shelled organic edamame
  • one red bell pepper, trimmed, stemmed and seeded
  • one white onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • freshly grated ginger
  • tamari, or soy sauce
  • “Thai style” chili sauce or sriracha
  • Chinese mustard
  • One package of organic egg roll wrappers
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • duck sauce for brushing (optional)
Instructions
  1. Trim the bottom of the bok choy, wash thoroughly and cut into thirds. Peel, trim and roughly chop carrots.
  2. In a large stock pot of salted boiling water, add bok choy, carrots, edamame, bell pepper, three quarters of the onion, and three of the cloves of garlic. Cover the pot and let cook for three minutes.
  3. Drain and drop vegetables into lightly salted ice water. Once cool enough to handle, drain again.
  4. Using the grater attachment to your large food processor, add the blanched vegetables in small handfuls.
  5. Once completely grated, place into mesh strainer or cheese cloth and squeeze out excess liquid. Drop onto clean kitchen or paper towels to drain further.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together about a tablespoon each of grated ginger, tamari, chili sauce and mustard (less or more if desired). Add vegetables and toss. Taste and season further to taste, if needed with aforementioned sauces.
  7. Note: At this point you may pause the recipe by covering the bowl with plastic and placing into the refrigerator until ready to wrap and roll the egg rolls.
  8. On a clean work surface, place egg roll wrappers with corners at the top and bottom (think diamond, not square).
  9. Drop a bit (about a rough three tablespoons) of filling in center of wrapper and wrap, bottom corner over filling. Then wrap the side corners inward over the bottom. Lastly, wrap the top corner down over the others. Continue to do this until all the filling is used.
  10. In a large saute pan or wok, over medium high heat, add about a half an inch of oil with a smashed peeled clove of garlic and the remaining quarter of the onion, roughly chopped.
  11. Once the oil begins to ripple, add egg rolls two at a time until gently golden brown, turning to brown on all sides.
  12. Drain on paper towels and gently brush with duck sauce if desired
  13. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, if desired.

 

Posted in Dinner, For Kids, Lunch, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip “Thank You” Cookies

I’m normally very diligent with time and I’m always early.  My husband is the organized one and I’m the one that gets us to appointments and places on time and gets deadlines completed on time, or with time to spare.  I’m a morning person and a task and deadline oriented type of personality that thrives on working hard efficiently to play hard.  Or at least I always thought I was.

But, this morning, I don’t know what came over me…I missed the school bus.   This is huge.   I’ve never missed the school bus in two years.   I was ready and wide awake, lunch packed, homework done, headlines read and everything was ready in the stroller to take our two block walk over to the bus stop.  Then, I couldn’t find my keys and then I opened the door and it was surprisingly chilly and so I needed to get jackets on the kids at the last-minute.  I could have sworn I had more time.   I thought I saw the bus and so we started running up and sure enough, the other moms told me I had missed it.   The bus came two minutes early.

Of course it did.  Because why wouldn’t it?

They always say, “be there ten minutes early,” but normally it’s a few minutes late, if anything.   See, this is the problem with statistics and chance (and my gambling with time, just this one time, this morning).   If something happens ninety-nine percent of the time one way, that doesn’t mean that it’s definitely going to happen that way again the next time.

I know this.  But, my brain just didn’t work this morning.   So, what to do about it?

Well, thankfully a very kind neighbor of mine took Trey to school for me since I don’t have a car and I don’t drive (I blog at home, so there’s not much of a need for it).  But, I had already texted Mike (on his commute to work) and said that I had missed the bus and so he turned around to help us out and didn’t get the second text while he was in a dead zone saying I (we) had it covered already.  So, without rambling anymore about my idiocy…

I’ll sum up the story with this:  I ended up making everyone go out of their way because of my mistake.

Time to bake some cookies.

So I went home and broke out my cookie supplies and went to my old standby.   Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  They’re a hybrid cookie recipe of two classics.   The hint of peanut butter and the generous amount of chocolate throughout the dough makes them a favorite.   They’re perfectly classic and deliciously child-friendly.  A massively appealing way to say, “thank you”.

Though, at the rate I’m going this morning in the luck department, I just hope my very kind neighbors don’t have any food allergies I’m unaware of.  I’ll have to ask and hope my luck turns around for the afternoon.   Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip “Thank You” Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped semisweet chocolate (plus more for the tops of the cookies, as needed)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (for easy cleanup).
  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in a metal or glass mixing bowl until velvety smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each egg is added on high speed. Add cream and vanilla and mix once more until combined.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt.
  4.  Stir dry ingredients into the wet peanut butter mixture in two additions, mixing after each addition on low speed. Fold in chocolate chunks until combined. Using a rounded tablespoon measure, drop cookies onto prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 8-9 minutes in the preheated oven, turning half way through, if desired (I do this, since my oven is slightly uneven) or until edges are golden but not completely browned.
  6. Allow cookies to cool for 2  minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
  7. Store in air tight container once cooled for two days, or freeze for up to one month (thaw before eating, though).
Note: Using the rounded tablespoon measure and a cool baking sheet will ensure that you get uniformly sized cookies that are easy to package.

 

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip “Thank You” Cookies

Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Kate
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped semisweet chocolate (plus more for the tops of the cookies, as needed).
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (for easy cleanup) or alternately, just use ungreased baking sheets.
  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and white sugar in a metal or glass mixing bowl until velvety smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each egg is added on high speed. Add cream and vanilla and mix once more until combined.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients into the wet (peanut butter) mixture in two additions, mixing after each addition on low speed with the mixer until combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks until combined. Using a rounded tablespoon measure, drop cookies onto prepared baking sheets.
  6. Add a few additional chocolate chips to the tops of cookies, as needed.
  7. Bake for 8-9 minutes in the preheated oven, turning half way through, if desired (I do this, since my oven is slightly uneven) or until edges are golden but not completely browned.
  8. Allow cookies to cool for 2  minutes on the cookie sheet before removing and placing onto wire racks to cool completely.
  9. Store in air tight container once cooled for two days, or freeze for up to one month (thaw before eating, though).
Notes

Note: using the rounded tablespoon measure on a cool baking sheet will ensure that all the cookies will be the same size for easy packaging as a ‘thank you’ gift.

Posted in All, Dessert, For Kids, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Preserving Summer

Last February I had an insatiable craving for sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes that did not dwindle even slightly over time, which motivated me to start a little vegetable garden last spring.  Now, I am jarring and canning and freezing just about anything and everything I possibly can from that garden before it frosts.  Jars of freshly homemade marinara sauce from the backyard garden are beautiful on their own, however, this is a simpler and more approachable option (in my opinion).  It’s a modernized and simplified method that adds a bit of garden freshness to your winter dishes.

I made this purée among many other things with the hundreds of cherry tomatoes we have grown in the last two weeks.  I froze it in ice cube trays (much to my husband’s surprise as he opened the freezer for an ice cube).  It’s a little cube of summer garden freshness to be used in appropriate quantities, depending on the reserve that you have at the time.  Each cube adds fresh and sweet garden cherry tomato flavor.  I added garlic, fresh herbs and a bit of aged balsamic to mine, just to balance the sweet tomatoes with some gentle acidity.   Of course, if you’re going for something more sweet and versatile, omitting the garlic and adding honey with some sea salt would work nicely as well, though be prepared to taste and balance the flavors if adding it to a savory sauce.

The fresh herbs can vary depending on what you plan to make throughout the winter, and what you have.  I put basil in almost everything in the summer and it’s quite plentiful on my windowsill still, so that’s what I used.  However, fresh thyme or a bit of oregano, used sparingly, would work nicely too.  This is a template recipe, it’s something to make your own as you see fit.  I suggest you squirrel this one away as you would your jars of pickled and preserved fruits and vegetables.  It’s a little extra something that both nobody and everyone needs to know about when they ask, “how did you do that?”.

It tastes like sweet and freshly delicious summer and can be added and melted in just a pinch to brighten up any mediocre store bought sauce on a dismal snowy evening.

 

Fresh Garden Cherry Tomato Purée

Ingredients:

  • two pints of garden fresh cherry tomatoes
  • four cloves of garlic (three if using large garlic cloves)
  • lightly salted boiling water
  • ice water
  • two tablespoons chopped shallot
  • two tablespoons olive oil
  • fresh herbs of your choice (I used a handful of fresh basil leaves and a pinch of thyme)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • a dash of aged balsamic vinegar (about 1 tablespoon)
  • drizzle of honey (optional)

Directions:

  1. Drop cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves into rapidly boiling salted water.  Once the skins begin to split open, drain then drop into ice water.
  2. In a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, gently cook the shallot with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt until translucent.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, remove and discard skins from tomatoes and garlic.  You may also remove some or all tomato seeds, if desired.
  4. Drop peeled tomatoes and garlic into food processor or blender with olive oil, cooked shallot and fresh herbs.  Purée and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the optional balsamic vinegar and/or honey to taste if desired.
  5. Freeze in ice cube trays until solid.
  6. Store in small air tight freezer bags for up to six months.

 

Fresh Garden Cherry Tomato Purée

Recipe Type: Simple Prep Ahead
Author: Kate from Scratch
Ingredients
  • two pints of garden fresh cherry tomatoes
  • four cloves of garlic (three if using large garlic cloves)
  • lightly salted boiling water
  • ice water
  • two tablespoons chopped shallot
  • two tablespoons olive oil
  • fresh herbs of your choice (I used a handful of fresh basil leaves and a pinch of thyme)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • a dash of aged balsamic vinegar (about 1 tablespoon)
  • drizzle of honey (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drop cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves into rapidly boiling salted water. Once the skins begin to split open, drain then drop into ice water.
  2. In a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, gently cook the shallot with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt until translucent.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, remove and discard skins from tomatoes and garlic. You may also remove some or all tomato seeds, if desired.
  4. Drop peeled tomatoes and garlic into food processor or blender with olive oil, cooked shallot and fresh herbs. Purée and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the optional balsamic vinegar and/or honey to taste if desired.
  5. Freeze in ice cube trays until solid.
  6. Store in small air tight freezer bags for up to six months.

 

 

 

 

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Apple Muffins

Apples are starting to pop up just about everywhere, so I decided to welcome the very beginnings of fall with these apple muffins.  Specked with warm cinnamon and hearty pecans, the moist crumb is unsuspectingly delicious yet fairly healthy (healthy is always a relative term, don’t you think?).

 

 

I ate one of these yesterday morning with my coffee and it accompanied the crisp air and warm sun so beautifully, it got me to thinking about the leaves turning, which prompted a bit of a journey.  I decided we needed to head up to the top of our little mountain for a view.  We meandered up to the ski lodge around the corner from our home and took the sky-way all the way up.  You’ll have to pardon the phone photo for the “before” shot, since I didn’t bring my good camera.  I surely will next time.

 

 

The leaves are still mostly green, as you can see.  But soon they’ll be amber and gold and we’ll have hot cider and cocoa in hand, bundled and huddled together.  Apple picking and pie making will be nearly done by then and the pumpkins will be plentiful, as will the miles of traffic to get into the farms once the city dwellers (I say lovingly, of course) start travelling out for the weekend to catch a glimpse of our little nook of the country in its autumnal glory.

It’s so close, yet so far away.  Time to relish the momentous apple season.  These muffins are the perfect way to enter into the unofficial beginning of fall.  Besides, they’re easy, quick to bake, and nobody is ever disappointed by warm, homemade muffins on a brisk Monday morning .  Apples and cinnamon and pecans within a simple and delicate sweet crumb baked to perfection.  They’re delicious any time of day, especially this time of year.

Apple Muffins

ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup natural applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces, or smaller

 

directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line 12-count muffin tin with baking wrappers, or alternately just spray the tin with cooking spray.

Mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl: all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt.

Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and butter in a large bowl until combined.   Add in eggs one at a time, whisking thoroughly after each egg is added. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk until just combined.

Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle each with the pecan mixture.

Gently press the pecan mixture into each muffin.  Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and cool completely on the rack.

 

 

adapted from Source:  2005, Ellie Krieger

Posted in All, Breakfast, For Kids, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Back To School Lunch

Without fail, a muted silver sky and a light sprinkling of rain graces every first day of school for us, appropriately enough.  The kids stand at the bus stop leaning against their moms and dads, holding brightly colored cartoon-covered umbrellas.  Fatigued from late summer hours and days of carefree play, they wait in anticipation of the squealing brakes and unmistakable color of the bus as it rises above the horizon of the hill.   While not quite fully back to their old familiar fall schedule, they yawn and chatter.   Last year, Trey was electrified with excitement as we waited for the bus in his blue, crab-covered rain coat.  It was his very first day of kindergarten and the possibilities were endless.   In a few days he’s headed onto first grade and his wide-eyed optimism only shows in sporadic, thoughtful, moments.

He asks, “Why can’t I have the same class every year?  I like my class.   I want to be with my friends.   Maybe my teacher will be the best teacher ever and really fun!”.    He waits and thinks again, before continuing his thought, loudly, with a smirk and a giggle, “Or, maybe she’ll be a zombie!”.

As I sip my coffee, we discuss what he will learn and do in first grade and my mind meanders onto box tops and supply lists and permission slips.  I realize I haven’t done any school lunch posts yet.   How is that possible?  Well, “anything is possible”, as Trey reminds me.  He requests “meatballs and a cookie and some other stuff too”.   Sounds simple enough.

I like to pan fry the meatballs for a crisp crust, as Thomas Keller suggests for a tapas plate in his book, “Ad Hoc At Home”.  I keep them in the freezer, defrost them overnight in the refrigerator and cook them in the morning before we leave.  I used these sword toothpicks this time, but have used lollipop sticks cut in half as well.  Both work fine, I just snip off the sharp tip of the toothpicks, since the kids will usually sword fight with them while waiting to go outside after lunch.  The cookies are adapted from a bon appetit recipe I found originally “Almond Cranberry Quinoa Cookies”.   They’re packed with dried fruit, quinoa, oats, almonds and a base of whole wheat flour.   The rest of the lunch is just what Trey likes that we happen to have that day.   He eats lunch early in the day and has a snack before school gets out, so I try to keep it to a minimum.  I once put “too much food” in his lunchbox and, boy, did I ever hear some seriously unhappy ranting about that!    I use foil lined baking cups and small tupperware containers for each of the items to give it a bento box sort of style.  It’s nothing spectacular, but he’s six and generally unimpressed by food, so it works for us.

 

Meatballs

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 12 ounces boneless beef sirloin
  • 12 ounces boneless beef chuck
  • 8 ounces boneless beef shoulder or top round
  • 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

 

Have the butcher grind the meats for you, alternating quantities of each meat as they go through the grinder so they are well mixed.  Heat canola oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.   Add the onion and garlic into the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and cook for about twenty minutes, or until they are soft but not browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine ground meat, bread crumbs, parsley, egg and season lightly with salt and pepper.  To check the seasoning level, make a very small patty and microwave  it and taste (or have someone taste for you, as I do), then add more salt if desired. Divide mixture into 24 equal parts for mini meatballs using a scant 1/4 cup measure for each meatball.  Cut mozzarella into 24 cubes  and stuff each cube into each meatball, while shaping meat around the cheese cube, as necessary into a ball (see note).

Add a shallow coating of canola oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot, add meatballs in small batches to brown on all sides.  Once browned, remove batch from pan and cool on a cooling rack over paper towels. Serve with tomato sauce for dipping, if desired.

NOTE:   Once the meatballs are stuffed, they can be placed on a baking sheet and frozen uncovered then stored in a sealed plastic bag.  Spread the meatballs on a tray and defrost in the refrigerator before cooking.  For regular sized meatballs, double the size of each ball to make 12 meatballs using a scant 1/2 cup measure and divide cheese into 12 cubes instead of 24.

TO STORE UNTIL LUNCH:   Place meatballs in an insulated thermos container with hot broth or sauce until ready to eat.   Alternately to serve cold, you may cool the meatballs to room temperature after cooking and store in a chilled air tight container over an ice pack until ready to eat.

Oatmeal Raisin Quinoa Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup mixed baking raisins
  • 1/2 cup slivered unsalted almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, both sugars, and honey in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs and extracts until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in quinoa, oats, raisins, and almonds. Spoon dough in 2-tablespoon portions onto prepared sheets, spacing 1” apart.
Bake cookies until golden, 12–15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
DO AHEAD: Store cooled cookies airtight at room temperature for 1 day, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Source for meatballs: “Ad Hoc At Home,” Thomas Keller.
Source for cookies: Bon Appetit Test Kitchen,  January 2012.
Posted in For Kids, Lunch | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments