Tag Archives: cooking

How-To’s Day: Chocolate-dipped Father’s Day treats

This was a perfect activity for a too-hot day when we all felt trapped inside with nothing to do. I just happened to have an enormous chocolate bar laying around (courtesy of my awesome husband) and a really, really lot of sprinkles. This activity went over quite well with the knee-high crowd, plus one friend, and would be a great homemade treat for Dad on his special day.

You will need:
4-5 ounces of chocolate
Animal crackers (or whatever the dad in question has a taste for)
Sprinkles
A double boiler (or a metal bowl over a pot)
Wax paper
Napkins and baby wipes

Step 1: Lay out wax paper and hold the curly edges down with matchbox cars. Or not… but my kids seemed to feel it was necessary.

Step2: Place crackers or whatever you are dipping, sprinkles and napkins out on your workspace so you will be ready to go when the chocolate is melted.

Step 3: Chop chocolate into smaller pieces and then melt in your double boiler or in the microwave. Remove from heat before chocolate is fully melted and continue stirring until smooth. If you are using the microwave or a make-shift double boiler, be careful not to over-melt the chocolate or it will start to re-solidify real funky-like. (Yeah, I’ve been down that road before.)

Step 4: Allow children to dip crackers into the chocolate,  lay them out on the wax paper and add sprinkles to their little hearts’ content.

Step 5: Let set and then put them in a tin or a jar for Dad to take to work. Happy Father’s Day!

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How-To’s Day: Roasted garden roots

Our five-year-old Christopher (on the left in this photo) doesn’t eat veggies. Or anything else even remotely healthy but especially veggies. So, we put him in charge of the garden. He weeds and plants and waters and takes great pride in his little plot of green.  He still won’t eat most of the fruits of his labors but he will at least taste it. This is the same kid who won’t even lick his broccoli for a whole bowl of ice cream. That’s progress.

Christopher’s latest harvest, a whole bunch of root veggies, seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a few vitamins and minerals into his body that he is surely missing. Here’s how we did it:

Ingredients:
Potatoes
Beets
Carrots
Garlic
Butter, salt & pepper

Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and line your cookie sheet with foil, shiny side up.

Step 2: Cube all of the veggies, no smaller than an inch, no bigger than an inch-and-a-half. You decide what ratio of potatoes to beets to carrots you want and cut up enough to fill the cookie sheet. One cookie sheet easily feeds our family of five.

Step 3: Peel and cut six to twelve cloves (according to your taste) of garlic in half and distribute evenly amongst the veggies.

Step 4: Cut a cube of butter lengthwise and then into pats and spread out the same as the garlic. You can use as little as a half a cube or a whole cube if you want them good and crispy. Add salt and pepper to taste — more than you would think you’d need — the potatoes suck it up.

Step 5: Roast on the center rack for 20 to 45 minutes depending on how done you like them. We do two pans for company (as seen above) and it’s important to remember to rotate them to get good browning on the top and bottom pans.

These are great to cook ahead of time if you need to put other things in the oven. Just crank the oven up to 500 degrees about 5 minutes before dinner and throw the veggies in the oven until they’re sizzling.

Disclaimer: If you know us at all, you know my husband gets credit for this recipe. If you don’t, you know now. Thanks Allen!

Garbonzos incognito

Garbonzo bean cookies. Sound yummy? No? You’d be surprised. After dropping many not-so-subtle hints when the book first appeared on Costco shelves I was thrilled to receive Jessica Seinfeld’s, Deceptively Delicious for Christmas in 2007. With a picky eater at home, Seinfeld’s idea — to puree nutrient packed veggies and hide them in delicious kid-friendly meals and treats — sounded like just what the doctor ordered for our family.

Unfortunately, when it came down to physically pureeing spinach and other veggies to include in brownie batter and grilled cheese my enthusiasm for the system died off.

But one recipe stuck with us: Chocolate Chip Cookes (with chickpeas). (FYI, chickpeas = garbanzo beans.) I was nervous at first. Beans and chocolate chips don’t usually belong in the same mixer but these cookies stack up well next to any chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve ever tasted. And I feel like my kids are actually being nourished while they snack. Even my picky Chris loves them! If you know him personally, you will share my shock of his hours old exclamation, “Thanks so much for making these cookies, Mom!” That’s right… Chris.

In light of Christopher’s continued picky-induced malnourishment and the recent loss of two of his weak, decayed teeth. I am dusting off my copy of Deceptively Delicious, determined to give it another shot.

Have you tried the book? What’s your favorite recipe?

I am a dinner cheater

I don’t have time to cook. Seriously. I chase two young children around all day, haul a six year-old to school and back and a husband to school and work, I work from home, work away from home, serve at church, help with school, sew, craft, be friendly, keep clothes on people and the house liveable… I don’t have time to cook. Still, my family needs to eat. Or so they say.

For this purpose was the Crockpot invented. Oh, Crockpot, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…. At least half of our dinners come to us courtesy of my trusty Crockpot’s lovely warm belly. I have lots of yummy Crockpot recipes but I rarely use them because I am a huge unmotivated dinner cheater. I have a loose formula that I use for my Crockpot meals and it hasn’t failed me yet. To try it for yourself, here’s what you’ll need:

Meat. Any size, any shape, whatever you’ve got.
(dry beans or lentils work great too)
1 package of onion soup mix or some garlic salt and your favorite seasonings.
1 can of cream of mushroom soup and/or 1 C of matching boullion
optional: garlic, onions, celery or anything your heart desires

Cook on low all day or on high through the afternoon and go from there. If I have a beef roast in the Crockpot, I will add onions, potatoes and carrots about halfway through the cooking process. I served these pork chops (above) over rice. Chicken? Leave out the onion soup and mix a package of Stove Top stuffing into a can of cream of mushroom soup and craisins and spread over top of the poultry and boullion.

The possibilities are endless, the crowds are pleased and tummies are full. The only flaw is with that yummy smell wafting through the house all hours of the day, by dinner time you’ll be ready to eat and eat good!

Just eat already!

I get awfully tired of hearing the same thing from doctors or nutritional experts on the subject of picky eaters. It always comes down to: “Eventually he’ll get hungry enough to eat whatever you give him.” Not so. In fact, last year we went head to head with my three year-old picky eater on the advice of his pediatrician and he didn’t eat a thing. Not a thing. After about 36 hours I called the ped asking what to do next and received stunned silence. “Well,” He said after a minute or two, “he needs to eat something. Give him something he will eat.” That’s right. The kid won.

I am a firm believer in not coddling kids’ food phobias. I don’t feed them watered down baby food, I don’t cut the crusts off sandwiches, I don’t make a mild version of spicy dinners. My kids are regularly exposed to Mexican food (and we’re not talking the American version here), funky Italian, Thai, Korean, Greek, Chinese, Indian, Mediterranean and any other flavors that come along.

They ate quinoa salad and lentil soup as babies and have snacked on hummus, not ranch dip, with the family for years. They’ve tried all the greens; bok choy, Swiss chard, poblano peppers and a wider variety of fruits than many adults.

I don’t make special food for my picky eater. Unfortunately, the kid just doesn’t eat. He’ll strike whole meals, sometimes more on a regular basis until he can manage to swipe a hot dog from the fridge, which he will eat plain; bun-less and flavorless. His favorite foods are spoiled for him with the addition of anything green or black. That includes herbs or spices of any kind. One of his few standbys, “smashed motatoes” are ruined by the addition of any spice other than salt. Green foods are bad, along with veggies of any kind. Most fruits are yucky. Many meats don’t make the cut. I have no idea what to do with this kid. I’m this close to pulling out Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious hide-the-pureed-veggies recipe book for something other than her fabulous garbanzo bean chocolate chip cookies (yummm) but I’m pretty sure he won’t go for it.

Any suggestions?

Don’t cry over stinky root vegetables

With all of the genetic food modification going on, how do we still not have a no-cry onion? I love onions but I’ve almost stopped including them in my cooking altogether. Slice into one and first come the tears, then the burning and squinting, can’t open my eyes, mascara bleeds into eyes… Being solely responsible for three accident/injury/mischief-prone little boys I can’t afford to be out of commission for that long.

As if the odds weren’t already stacked against me, dinner prep falls smack in the middle of the witching hour. Moms, you know what I’m talking about: Baby’s ready for another nap, (which is out of the question if you want any sleep at night); kids are bored and starting to launch projectiles about the house and at each other. Then there’s the running. From room to room to room, sliding across the kitchen floor, little boy bodies piling up against the cupboards.

Oh, and Tupperware everywhere. The one bowl and wooden spoon you gave your toddler to appease his urge to “help” you cook lost their charm while you were squinting and blotting mascara off your cheeks so he unloaded the whole cupboard.

The no-cry onion… think about it. Write your congressman.

I’ve got a kid in my oven

100_04242No, this isn’t an announcement– an actual kid in my actual oven. It’s a real problem.

A few weeks ago, he figured out that if he opened the door he could be part of the action in the kitchen. Because whatever Mom spends so much time in there doing must be fun, right?

Of course, the stovetop is most attractive him when there’s something on it… cooking… hot. Get the picture? Problem. I’ve learned to hand him a big bowl, a spatula or wooden spoon and play food, beans, or cheerios to stir (and subsequently spread all over creation) when I’m cooking. Messy. And then it only lasts for so long.

I’m open to suggestions. Help!

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