Posts Tagged ‘kids’

“What’s that?” said Big Brother.

“Cookbooks.”  I replied.

“Why do they have so many pages?” he asked.

“Well, there are lots of different ways to make food.  Cookbooks have lots of recipes.” I explained.

“Can we make some?”

I pulled the COOKIES book off the kitchen shelf.  I pointed out the pictures of all the cookies you could make using recipes in the cookbook.  Big Brother saw the brownies and said “The chocolate one!”.

Two sous chefs eagerly awaited instructions as they perched on a chair at the counter in front of the mixer.  We read the recipe together and measured and mixed the ingredients.  Most of the chocolate ended up where it was supposed to.

I used unsweetened chocolate and had to adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe, otherwise the kids would not eat these brownies.  It would have been better to use the semi-sweet chocolate called for, the extra sugar gave them a crunchy outer crust.  We enjoyed the rich (and sweet) brownies garnished with strawberries.


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Pepper was chasing what I thought was a mouse in the yard, behind the trash bins, under leaves, then around the corner.  It turned out to be this guy:

what sort of lizard are you?

To my surprise, it survived the attack of the Boston Terrier reasonably unscathed.  Mind you, he (or she) is missing some tail.  I’m hoping the tail wasn’t poisonous to dogs, I’m not sure if Pepper ate the tip of her prey or not.  There are bright turquoise and black stripes on the belly of this beast, all the more reason for my concern of toxicity.  He lived through the night in a bucket with water and rocks to lay on.  Not sure how long it will take residence here, this house is starting to feel like 64 Zoo Lane.

Then there’s the bees.

Don’t worry, she is stingless and her army of workers are very sweet.

The monkeys (Big Brother and Little Sister) provide everyone with entertainment.  They were playing in the boxes large enough to house themselves that arrived today.  The boxes held my latest kitchen toy, a vacuum sealer!  Haven’t had a chance to play with it yet but I have plenty of work lined up for it.  I had to put the worker bees (fondant cupcake toppers) in a honey box (fridge) to keep the monkeys from eating all of them.

Dogs chasing lizards.  Monkeys eating bees.  What’s next?!?

The bee model is for Big Brother’s insect project for school.  The chocolate cupcakes, well it’s a muffin recipe actually, are for his class snack.  His teacher has no idea that I made these for everyone, can’t wait to see her reaction!

The bees were my second fondant decoration (read about the flowers here).  A simple construction of yellow jelly bean shape bodies, a black stripe, and white wings.  The wings were a hand-made pop can punch, no need to buy all those little tiny cutters when simple shapes can be made at home.  Carefully cut a strip of tin pop can (circumference cut not a top to bottom cut), shape it as best you can, hold the shape or use some scotch tape to stick the ends together.  Voilà!  Instant fondant cutter!

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Remember how I was trying to think of ways to use up my bag of Teff flour?  Well, I did it again.  This time I made muffins with a boost of fiber from the sneaky addition of Teff to the batter.  The neat thing about Teff is that in small portions it is easily incorporated into any recipe with all-purpose flour, including these lemony blueberry muffins.

Look good enough to eat, eh?

Here’s another tip for you… If you are like me and don’t like soggy areas of muffin around the fresh berries, use dried blueberries instead.  Dried berries are always in season and you won’t have to wait for them to thaw.  The best part is no soggy muffins!

  • 1 cup dried blueberry flavoured cranberries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Teff flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 12 paper muffin cups
  • turbino sugar for sprinkling

Note: My typical recipe includes 2 or 3 mashed bananas, the lack of extra moisture should have been more apparent to me.  This recipe would be improved with the addition of a 1/2 cup of plain yogurt or applesauce.  I didn’t have anything else on hand.

Pre heat the oven to 325ºF.

Mix the wet ingredients with the lemon and blueberries and set aside.  Combine the dry ingredients (except the turbino sugar) in a large bowl.  Make a well in the dry mix and pour in the wet mix.  Stir until the flour disappears, the consistency should be lumpy but evenly moist.

Divide the batter between 12 regular sized muffin cups in a metal tin.  These would also be cute as mini muffins for a brunch or coffee table.  Top with about 1/2 tsp of the turbino sugar.  Turbino sugar is coarse and will not completely melt during baking, this leaves a crunchy topping to the muffins.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotate the pan half way through.  The middles should be set and the edges lightly golden brown.

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Little Sister was at the helm of the KitchenAid mixer for this recipe.  She was supposed to be supervising the making of big chewy cookies, which translates to counting the cups and spoonfuls of ingredients going into the bowl.  She wants to help mommy and I’m more than happy to have her with me learning the craft.

Unexpected things can happen when 2-year-olds bake.

I turned around for a second and Little Sis had grabbed the baking soda box and her measuring spoon.  As my eyes and brain tried to work together, she had already dispensed an unknown amount of the white powder into the bowl.  This would not have been so dramatic except there was whipped butter and a measurement of sugar sitting in the bowl at the time of her “addition”.

I had to guess how much was in there and left it as it was and hoped that it was enough and not too much.

Little Sister was allowed to stay and help.  She was now manager of the M&Ms.

Monster Cookies

Adapted from Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Cookies from COOKIES by Martha Stewart Living Magazine

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or use all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms or Smarties
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.  Cream butter, peanut butter with sugars.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Add a little of the flour at a time, then the chocolates.  Chill for 15 minutes (I didn’t).

Drop by large spoonfuls on baking sheets.  Flatten using your palm.  Bake for 10-14 minutes (it will depend on the size of your cookies).

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Little Sister helped make the gravy, it was strenuous work for a two year old…

The gravy making was enjoyable for both of us, unlike the day before when we were making lunch and she poured the dry pasta into the cup of milk standing by.  She must have misunderstood me when I said “next we add the pasta”, she litterally added the pasta to the milk and butter in the cup.  I meant to say “next we cook the pasta”.  Toddlers and young children take everything you say to heart, so chose words wisely!

325ºF for 3 hours (14.5 lb gobbler)

  • 4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp rubbed sage or fresh chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Combine the butter and herbs and spices in a small bowl.  I like to work it with my fingers to get every bit of butter spiked with flavour.  Create pockets under the skin of the turkey, begin at the breasts near the cavity.  Try to make the skin loose around the drumsticks too.  Evenly shove the butter into the pockets, pressing on the outside of the skin to distribute.  Any leftover butter and be smeared over the skin.

Next, fill the cavity.  I don’t usually stuff the bird with dressing, instead I use large pieces of onion, whole herbs and spices, sometimes citrus fruit cut in half.  The filling will eventually scent the broth so choose a complimentary set of flavours.  Today I used fresh rosemary springs and half a white onion with salt and pepper.

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Happy Halloween!

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Hope you had a fun and safe Halloween!

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Kitchen toys are so much fun to share with the kids, at least the safe ones.  They love to push buttons and turn handles.  Big Brother was my pasta sous chef for the day, in charge of turning the hand crank of the pasta machine and using scraps of pasta to make his own noodles.  He is obsessed with Kung Fu Panda, and easily convinced he should eat lots of noodles, just like Po.

Little Sister can’t keep still now.  She has learned the tools of the toddler trade: chairs and stools.  These tools are especially useful to see what is cooking.  Any long utensil extends the toddler toolkit to be able to scoot objects off high surfaces and spilling them on the floor.

Big Brother and I worked on the ravioli.  I roasted the softball-sized acorn squash from the garden box with salt and pepper until it was soft.  The flesh of the squash was combined with fresh basil and Pecorino cheese.

The pasta dough is easy to prepare: I used about 2 cups of semolina flour and 2 large eggs.  Pour the flour on the counter and make a well in the middle.  Take off your pointy rings, they will become dough balls and you will tear the pasta sheets as you handle them.   Mix the eggs and slowly incorporate the flour, you might not use all of it.  Knead for about 1 minute until the dough springs back when you poke it.  Cover with a glass bowl and rest for 30 minutes.  Cut slices about an inch thick to begin squishing it down to size, either in a pasta roller or with a rolling pin.  Cut the sheets into squares, roughly the same size squares for even cooking.

Too much water around the rim of the first two ravioli caused a sticky mess.  From then on, I used a sprinkle of semolina flour on the work surface and very little water to seal the edges.

After the squash filling was used up, Big Brother had the chance to make more noodles as I boiled the finished ravioli.

Voilà, fresh ravioli!

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On the way home from work I listen to NPR.  At least more often than not.  Otherwise you would pull up to a traffic light beside my car and see someone tapping the steering wheel, bobbing her head, and signing along with anyone from Madonna to the Beatles.  Badly, I might add.

The other day I heard part of the interview with the First Lady.  Mrs. Obama sat down with NPR’s Michelle Norris.

Mrs. Obama noted that the White House is a platform for bringing attention to her message for healthy family living: Let’s Move.  First Lady wants to communicate that the campaign is about providing information to busy American families.   

Dancing with the girls is a common occurrence in the White House, and is encouraged for every one wanting to be healthier.   If dancing is not your style, try a walk or a game of soccer in the yard.  I know this part of the equation is lacking in my home, so this reminder as the weather starts to improve is taken with a fair amount of agreeability.

Doctors will be paying closer attention to BMIs and handing out prescriptions for vegetables and healthy eating options to parents for their kids struggling with weight issues.  Now it’s not just [mom], it’s the doctor telling you to eat your string beans.  I get nervous every time a well check comes up for the kids.  Big Brother is not a big eater, he would rather be playing than have to sit still at the table for dinner.  Little Sister is quite the opposite, at least at this stage of her life.  She will eat anything and everything in sight!  I prepare a light meal after we all get home after work/daycare for the kids.  Being just shy of ravenous makes this time of day the easiest to get Big Brother to try new foods, rather than a hot dog or cheese quesadilla.  He does rip through yogurt like it’s going out of style, as well as fruit, so he does eat a variety of foods – just not as wide a variety as I would like.

To learn more visit letsmove.gov or to hear the story on NPR, click here.

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