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Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

23 Dec

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I just started working on a Gingerbread cookbook and Kit, something I have always wanted to do.  I want to have a great alternative Gluten Free dough. This is one of my first attempts, it’s a modified version I have used in the past. I just love it. It works fantastically for cookies, they hold their shape. I haven’t tried a whole house from this dough yet but as for cookies it is perfect. I used Cup 4 Cup flour from Whole Foods it has xanthum gum added already.
Pair these with my delicious almond milk for an allergy free treat.

Gluten Free Gingerbread Dough

Combine the following dry ingredients in a bowl and set them aside:

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose gluten free flour (with xanthum gum added)
Or
2 1/4 cups All-Purpose gluten free flour plus a 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum)
Or
(I used 1 1/4 cups Cup for Cup flour plus a pinch of xanthum gum)
1 cup cashew meal (Trader Joe’s now has cashew meal)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch salt

6 tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add
softened butter and brown sugar in the bowl of your mixer beat on medium speed until
very light and fluffy.
Add egg, molasses and vanilla, and beat briefly on medium-low speed. You don’t want to incorporate too much air in them, they hold their shape better the less you beat them.
Add dry ingredients, mix until just incorporated

The dough will be soft but will firm up once it’s chilled. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and wrap them separately in plastic, then flatten each package into a disk for easier rolling. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight for best results.
When you’re ready to roll and cut the dough, remove it from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 350°F.
Roll the dough about 1/4″ thick and use the gluten free flour to help the dough release. Choose the cutters and cut  your cookies, transfer to a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. They’ll firm up on the edges, but should still be soft in the middle. Cool completely before decorating.

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More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Pumpkin Pie

27 Nov

It’s time….pie time! Here is a cute little info graphic all about pie. Have a wonderful holiday season!

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A Cheese Wiz

2 Nov
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Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

melt-cover500-241x300I can’t totally recall but I think I met Stepahanie Stiavetti at an IACP conference (not the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference) it’s the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Stephanie is a food writer and recipe developer and I am excited to announce that she has just written her first cookbook.

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Humboldt Fog Cheese

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of her book, Melt the Art of Macaroni and Cheese.  I get a lot of books to review and most of the time I don’t love every book I get and rarely review them. I wanted to review Stephanie’s because it’s her first and because we both like to dye various strands of our hair bright red. (Not really, but that is true about the hair, her hair always looks great!)

I’ll start by telling you that unfortunately cheese is not my friend, I love cheese but it really hates me. UNLESS of course…..it’s very expensive, made and by hand from Pygmy goats in an obscure smallish town somewhere. Are you still with me? When I looked through Melt I instantly knew what recipe I would make, one that was kid friendly and made with a cheese I was very familiar with.

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Humboldt Fog Cheese

About 8 years ago my husband and I did all the photography for Cypress Grove Cheve Cheese Company. No joke, we had about 100 pounds of cheese to shoot! In that in that excessive amount of cheese were three wheels of Humboldt Fog deliciousness. We ended up having a party and inviting strangers in to take cheese home! That’s when the love affair started with a beautiful creamy wheel of snowy white goat cheese. Humboldt Fog could be mistaken at first glance for Blue cheese, but it’s so not a blue cheese. Cheese maker Mary Keehn of Humboldt County, California invented this cheese named for our famous coastal fog. We have toured Mary’s cheese making facility in Arcadia and it is fascinating, they make some of our favorite cheese. The story goes that in the morning the cream would be set into the molds and then a layer of charred vegetable ash laid atop the cream to separate the cream from the afternoon milking, creating a distinct dark green blue line of ash in the center of each wedge.

Now that you know the back story about my slight obsession with this cheese, I can tell you about the yummy recipe I made from Stephanie’s book.

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She even spelled her name in Orzo and alphabet pasta!

Yes, Yes I know it’s not peach season but the weather is warm and the grill is right out front and begging to be used. I was lucky enough to find peaches, really beautiful ones locally and I was also trying to pick a kid friendly recipe to share from Melt. I knew my family liked grilled peaches, we usually make them for a sweet dessert with whipped cream, we haven’t eaten them in a savory dish.  Another way I thought I could to add a kid zip to this dish was to use alphabet pasta mixed with the orzo, this was a hit!

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Juicy Grilled Peaches

We left out the mint but could have added it just as easily, ours was sad and brown and better left alone in the garden to wither. We all loved the dish, with sweet hints of peach, tart vinegar and creamy sharp cheese flavors mingling together. I loved the addition of pistachios, the kid could have done with out them but I think the added saltiness and crunch was needed. I highly recommend this dish for a summer party, I repeat summer, don’t be a seasonal rule breaker like I am! I like Melt it’s good for a twist on Mac and Cheese and is full of other great ideas.

There is a great MELT giveaway here be sure to go over to The Culinary Life and enter win a set of Le Crueset cookware

Humboldt Fog with Grilled Peaches and Orzo

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What could be nicer than a blushing peach? The sun-kissed color, the ticklish feel of the fuzz, the sweet-as-sugar-cane flavor. This simple orzo salad lets these traits shine—and without the nuisance of peach juice dribbling down your arm. Summer in a bowl, this is.

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Peaches awaiting the grill

Serves 4

3 freestone yellow peaches

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

S ea salt

10 ounces orzo (or 5 oz orzo and 5 oz alphabet pasta can be cooked together)

¼ cup chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

¼ cup chopped spearmint

1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces Humboldt Fog, rind removed and crumbled into large chunks

1. Using a barely damp paper towel, lightly scrub the peaches of any extraneous fuzz. Don’t wash the peaches, as they will soak up excess water. Using a sharp knife, cut each peach in half lengthwise around the pit, using the peach’s crevices as a guide. Discard the pits.

2. Set the peach halves in a zip-top bag and toss with honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Allow the peaches to marinate for 10 minutes.

3. While the peaches marinate, cook the orzo in some salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.

4. Once the peaches are done marinating, reserve the marinade and place the peach halves on a hot, oiled grill, cut-side down. Cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the peaches are soft and have developed some charming dark grill marks. Roughly chop into bite-size pieces and set aside.

5. Combine the peaches, marinade, orzo, parsley, spearmint, and pistachios in a bowl and toss. Add a bit more sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste. Plonk in the Humboldt Fog and toss once or twice, just enough to bring everything together.

Overmixing will melt the cheese, and our goal here is to maintain its chunky texture.

Alternative cheeses: Though Humboldt Fog is widely available, a good stand-in would be Goat’s Leap Eclipse, Bermuda Triangle, or any stellar chèvre.

Wine pairings: rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer

Additional pairings for the cheese: plums, cherries, balsamic vinegar reduction

Bullseye Pops

11 Jun

EMWC Summer 2013 Stone's Soup Corner

THE KIDS are ALL Right

Photo Matthew Carden

Another share from Edible Marin Wine Country, I couldn’t pass up sharing this recipe!

When I sat down to write this issue’s Stone’s Soup Corner, I thought I had it all worked out. Melon soup was on the agenda. Perfect for summer— cool, refreshing and easy.

I usually clear my ideas with my 9-year-old daughter before I discuss them with my editor, but this time I never got around to asking her what she thought about this soup idea. Her reaction when she heard: “Mom, no kid is going to eat that!”

And she was right. I had lost sight of whom I was writing for. So, together, we brainstormed for a summer melon-y idea and came up with these creamy pops.

Food is at the center of so much of our lives and too often it becomes simply a chore. We shoo the kids away so we can get the cooking done, clean up and get on to the next task. But food should be fun, not stressful or humorless. That is why I like cooking for kids and silly grown-ups.

Sometimes on a hot day sharing a moment with a sloppy, drippy homemade pop is simply the right thing to do. Forget all the to-do lists and the dirty laundry, just for a moment. These Bull’s Eye Honeydew Pops highlight the ripest melons of the season. They are creamy, refreshing and dairy free!

Make an extra batch to keep in your freezer—it’s nice to have homemade pops ready for a playdate or family dessert on a hot summer night.

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Bullseye Honeydew Pops

Yield: 6 regular-size pops or 24 ice-cube-size pops

3⁄4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1⁄2 cup sugar
6 large mint leaves (Mint grows wild, so go check your garden before

you buy it at the market.)
3 cups very ripe Honeydew melon flesh (about 1⁄2 a melon 24 fresh or frozen cherries
Decorative straws (cut to size) or Popsicle sticks

Extra Tools

Straws or wooden Popsicle sticks

Small pop molds (Note: pop molds look great, but an ice cube tray will work just fine.)

Add coconut milk, sugar and mint leaves to a small saucepan and warm slowly over medium heat, scraping the sides constantly with a rubber spatula. When the sugar is dissolved, remove pan from heat and cool mixture to room temperature.

Dice the melon flesh into small pieces and place in a blender. Drain the mint from the cooled syrup, then add syrup to the blender. Blend until smooth and frothy.

Place four cherries into each pop mold—or, if you are using ice cube trays to make your pops, place a stick or straw into each cherry and place 1 in each cube reservoir.

Pour the coconut-melon mixture around the cherries in each mold, then place a straw or Popsicle stick into the center. If you are using ice cube trays, carefully pour the mixture around each cherry in the tray.

Freeze for 4 hours or until firm.

edible marin & wine country summer 2013 | 53

Thanksgiving is heading our way…OY VEY! (getting ready for the big day) Post 2 of 2

18 Nov

Thyme and Gruyère icebox crackers

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, yes it is a TON of work but when it is all ready and the table is set it is the best feeling. (for me at least)  I know it can be stressful, battling your way down the grocery isle trying not to get your feet run over. Going around in circles looking for ingredients that have migrated to the end caps. Freaking out because the turkey is taking three days to thaw, and you are trying desperately to rip the frozen bag of giblets from the icy cavity.  I get it, really I do so instead of freaking out let’s just take a deep breath and start slow. I am going to help you get on track for the holiday, get somewhat organized and start NOW!!! It is less than a week away and whether you do the whole spread or take one or two dishes to a potluck, I can help.

Not only do I love this holiday but it is also one I tend to take total control of. (This is not a positive attribute of my personality) Asking people to bring a dish was/is not my style, I’d rather work myself to a nub rather than ask for help. Those days are over…this year I asked my guests to bring a dish (ok maybe I sent them a particular recipe and instructions, habits are hard to break) I plan on not stressing out and having a great time this year. Part of the reason for this post is to test out my method and see if it worked, I will keep you posted after the big event!  If you haven’t checked out my previous post on my marinated cheese appetizer check it out first before you jump in to this post.

Tying it all together

1. Make a huge coffee or tea carve out some alone time and scour the net for recipes and ideas.  (I know, I know…the kids, just wait until they are asleep) your husband or wife may become a Thanksgiving widow for a bit, it’s ok they will get you back in a few days.

Decide on the style of turkey too, bbq, roasted, Turducken or store prepared.  This year I am going to make a version of  Michael Symon’s Juicy Turkey Cooked in Cheese Cloth found here.

Don’t forget appetizers, just easy ones, your real focus needs to be on the meal.

2. Print ALL of the recipes even of you are just using them as a guide, you may need to check for ingredients or a quick tip. It will save you time in the long run. We all know finding a recipe you saw online 2 weeks ago will be a fruitless effort.

3.  Pick a cocktail and stick with it, don’t bother with a million bottles and ice filled coolers.

4. Make a comprehensive grocery list, one you keep adding to daily. Add things you think you will remember but won’t like whipped cream or  coffee and tea for dessert course. I love my printable grocery list, I have a small one for normal weeks and a large one for holidays or work when I am writing recipes or styling photos. Printable grocery list Sheet1

5. Decide what can be prepared ahead of time, cranberry sauce and turkey stock. I have a Foodsaver and that comes in handy for times like these.

6. Decide on your decorations, whether it’s just leaves from the yard and some votive candles or crafts galore add all the items to your shopping list. Get the kids involved here, do a paper place mat with a turkey hand print or name tags, something easy and fun.

7. Two days before get out all your serving dishes and utensils and label each one with a slip of paper reminding you what food will go in what dish. You really don’t want to be running all over looking for dishes when everyone is ready to eat.

8. 2 days before check your turkey to make sure it is thawing well.

I am a total traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving so our menu is pretty standard, I will post a bunch of my recipes below as ideas or inspiration for you.

Our Menu

Appetizers

Bread cornucopia (made 2 days before) filled with

Gruyère and Thyme crackers (made ahead of time) , assorted nuts in the shells, figs with honey

marinated Dry Jack cheese (made 5 days before)

The cocktail

Prosecco Pomegranate Sparkler

The meal

Turkey (prep day before)

Stuffing (prep day before)

Gravy (made ahead of time)

Roux for thickening gravy (made ahead and frozen)

Cranberry sauce (made ahead and frozen)

Mashed potatoes (made by a guest)

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (made by a guest) (yes, for real)

Bean casserole (made by a guest)

Sweets

Pumpkin pie with Biscoff cookie crust (made ahead and frozen) whip cream

Pumpkin cakes with Praline and toasted marshmallow topping (made day before, topping added just before serving)

Ice box cake (brought by guest)

coffee and tea

I have already done a few thing to get started, If you love lots of gravy then make a turkey stock to stretch the drippings with. Turkey necks and butts, yes I said butts or as mom used to call them,  “puppicks” or as Zedi used to call it…the part that goes over the fence last.  Anywho….Make a nice reduced stock with lots of veggies that you can use to moisten your stuffing and as a base for your gravy. Also after Thanksgiving add the carcass to your leftover stock to make delicious soup base.

Why do I need roux?

Because using cornstarch to thicken gravy doesn’t add any flavor or sheen.  A roux is a cooked mix of equal parts flour and a  fat such as butter or oil, Roux is used to  thicken sauces, and soup.  Roux can be made light, medium, dark or black-ish, for turkey gravy a light roux is fine. I never season my roux because the dish I end up using it in may already be too salty.

Roux recipe

cooking time 5-10 minutes
Will thicken aprox 6 cups sauce
 
6 tbsp flour
6 tbs butter and or turkey drippings
Heat up a small skillet, add butter and melt. Before it browns add the flour and stir constantly until the smell of fresh biscuits wafts up. When you smell the biscuits it is done. Now, you can add this to your gravy hot. Always add hot roux hot to hot liquid.
To store, freeze in an ice cube tray.
Fast method:
But…if it’s been in the freezer take it out and let it thaw a bit.
My trick is to take the slightly frozen roux and put it inside a small whisk. Slowly whisk it into the hot liquid, barely simmer it until thickened.
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Turkey stock for gravy and stuffing

Make Ahead Turkey Stock

(adapted from Bon Appetite)
  • 4 pounds assorted turkey wings, backs, butts and necks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 3 carrots, sliced in coins
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 onions, sliced in 1/2 moons
  • Giblets (heart, gizzard, liver) of 1 turkey
  • Thyme
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • bay leaf
  • 1/4  lemon
  • 10 garlic cloves smashed

Preheat oven to 450°. Spread turkey wings and turkey neck on a rack set in a large heavy roasting pan. Brush with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil; roast until browned, about 1 hour. Chop carrots, celery stalks, and onions; toss with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Arrange around turkey parts. Roast until vegetables brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a large pot. Add giblets and 1 gallon water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a slow simmer, and cook, skimming surface occasionally, for 3 hours. Strain into another pot and reserve the necks for their meat to be used in soup. Reduce the stock about 20 minutes more, cool down and freeze or refrigerate.


Gruyère and thyme icebox crackers 

(adapted from Martha Stewart)

If you grate the cheese first in the food processor then empty bowl and start recipe it will be much less work. You can avoid  a dirty grater and grating your knuckles too! These are delicious, I wish I had made two batches!

Thyme and Gruyere icebox crackers

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, de-stemmed
  • 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup finely grated (2 1/2 ounces) Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 cup plus
  1. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and thyme in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add cheese; pulse until combined. With machine running, add the milk; process until dough comes together and is well combined.
  2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape dough into a 2-inch-wide log. Wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Or freeze until  one hour before you are ready to bake them.
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Slice chilled log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer slices to a parchment-lined  or non stick foil lined baking sheet. Bake immediately, rotating sheet once, until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center, 15 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
 
 
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Thyme and Gruyère cracker dough

 

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

I also made my fail proof Cranberry sauce ahead and froze it in a food saver baggie.  If you buy two oranges you can probably get enough juice from them with out supplementing.

  • 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3/4 cup orange or tangerine juice
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (scant)
  1. Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan, stir and cook on medium-high for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced, stirring occasionally. Sugar burns easily so keep a good watch.  The cranberries will pop that’s a good thing. When almost reduced to the consistency you want remove from heat, it will thicken as it cools. Cranberry sauce can be made days ahead and brought to room temperature or slightly heated before serving.

Pumpkins Aren’t Just for Carving

24 Oct

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Long before Halloween, people used to eat pumpkin! I know, call me crazy but it’s a squash, it’s for eating…ya ya it makes a fantastic Jack-o-lantern too. I’m just saying that in days of old the native people actually grew them for eating. They were also used as a defense, a kind of barbed wire. It’s a growing technique coined as the Three Sisters, corn, squash and beans. The corn was planted in the center, the beans grew up the corn and the spiky squash plant was placed at  base of both plants to protect them from critters.

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One way I love to use pumpkin is with lots of spices, it is a wonderful way to get the kids used to highly flavored foods without being spicy “hot”. Pumpkin and curry is classic in Thai food and we just love coconut at our house, so it’s a perfect match. The problem with pumpkins is that they can be tough little buggers to cut into. I have a drawer full of knives, big ones so I’m covered, If you don’t here is a trick.

Carefully stab a few slits in your pumpkin, place in microwave for 5 minutes. Remove it, hold it with a towel and cut in to peices. It should be softer but depending on the  size it may need more time.

No Fuss Coconut Curry Pumpkin

One of the spices I use in my cooking is methi,  the leaves of the Fennegreek plant. They are distinct and subtle and add that Eastern flavor. Crush the Methi in your fingers to release the fragrance before using. It is always easier to cut produce wityh the flat side down so it stays put.

1 small sugar pumpkin

1 Tsp Methi

1/2 tsp Tumeric

1/2 tsp dried ginger

1 tsp curry powder

salt

1 can coconut milk

3 Tbs coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 425

Cut pumpkin in half, scoop out all the seeds and set them aside for roasting. Cut the pumpkin in half and then into wedges or chunks. Try to make them similar sizes so they will cook evenly. Place wedges peel side down into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. using a pastry brush, coat the pumpkin flesh with the coconut oil. Pour the coconut milk drizzling it all over the pieces. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the pieces. Bake for about 45 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.

Serve with Jasmine rice, sautéed spinach and chickpeas.

Hot tip:

Trader Joe’s has a new product called Roasted Coconut Chips, this is my version of heaven. They are really good sprinkled on this dish after cooking!

Classic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This is perfect for after your family has carved pumpkins, you should have lots of seeds.

1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons melted butter
salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Clean off any major pumpkin chunks. (I like the left over pumpkin strings when cooked so we leave them on)

Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with melted butter or oil and salt.

Spread pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet in one layer.

Bake for about 45-1 hour  minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Cool on sheet, put in a pretty container.

Keep at room temperature sealed for up to a week.

Chicken Little Hand Pies

22 Sep

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Chicken pot pie is not nearly as daunting a project as you may think. I know it sounds fussy with all that dough, sauce making, chicken cooking, chopping and so on. It is really just a matter of tossing everything in a pan and adding some kind of doughy top.  I got all excited one night while I was cooking some chicken and though these would be a prefect thing to make the next night for dinner.  Because I’d already cooked the chicken and would use the leftovers for the pies, it would be so easy. Then I remembered I don’t have those cute little pots that are  special for making individual chicken pot pie in. I have a million small dishes, but like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, none were just right, some were too small and some were too large. Then I thought who needs those stinkin’ mini pots anyway, I’ll make hand pies and then I won’t even have to wash forks after dinner because you eat these with your hands! Brilliant.

Then I realized that I had scheduled a very busy day the next day so… home-made pie dough wasn’t going to happen. Ok, I cheated, call me Semi Homemade (it’s ok I don’t mind, I know I can make pie dough if I really needed to) 

So I made the filling that evening after dinner and snuggled it right in the fridge for the next day. I was lucky enough to have some homemade chicken stock on hand. I was unlucky because I had a house of sick people, precisely why I had chicken stock.  The next day I had to grab some stuff at the store anyway so I tossed in a pre made pie dough, you can get fairly healthy ones at a natural market. You could use puff dough If you can’t find pie dough. I enlisted the help of my daughter in making these, she picked the size and shapes for the pies. We cut out the dough with cookie cutters, brushed them with egg, filled them and sealed them. Chilling the mixture makes easy work of filling the little pies when it’s time. We assembled them around 3 o’clock and put them back in the refrigerator until it was time to bake them before dinner. You could also freeze them raw for another day.  They baked up really pretty and were equally as tasty. You can try adding anything, make them vegetarian even, just use your creative genius. Serve alongside a colorful salad.

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Chicken Little Hand Pies

These little suckers stay very hot inside for a long time, be careful when serving little kids.

If using raw chicken, cut it up very small and add it after the broth, simmer until it is cooked through.

Tip: Slicing semi frozen chicken is easier than trying to slice raw chicken. Place your raw chicken in the freezer for 10 minutes and then slice away.

Adapted from Epicurious

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, quartered lengthwise and diced
1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 celery rib, halved lengthwise and diced

1/4 cup thawed corn kernels

1/2 cup ounces cooked shredded chicken

Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme

Squeeze of lemon juice about a 1/2 tsp

2 unbaked pie crusts, either store-bought or homemade (not pie shells)
1 egg, beaten

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the carrot,potato and celery and season with salt and pepper to taste, raise the heat to medium-high. Cook until the vegetables are softened , add the corn and pre-cooked chicken.

Sprinkle the flour over everything in the pan, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth,  thyme and lemon juice,  and simmer for 5 minutes more or until thickened.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cool and refrigerate until cold, about to 30 minutes. Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator so they can soften slightly.

When the filling is cool, preheat oven to 4oo°F  Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment.

Lay the crust out on a cutting board.   Use cookie cutter to cut as many shapes as you can. Re-roll the dough and cut more until you have no more crust left.

Place about 1 Tbs.  of filling in the center of dough, brush beaten egg around the outside of the crust,  then place another matching shape in top. Crimp the edges together with a fork, and prick the top a few times for steam to escape. Carefully transfer pie to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pie crust and filling. Just before baking brush all the pies with egg wash.

Bake until golden brown, 20 30 minutes.

Using Up Your Buns

22 Aug

French toast from leftover buns

For some reason I am a terrible recycler, I mean I am great at recycling food, a master perhaps? When it comes to knowing what goes in the blue bin, I’m not a star. I am surrounded by the world’s best recyclers, composters  and general waste-not-ers. I know my daughter watches me, for instance, should I rinse out the dog food can more thoroughly before I toss it in the bin? Does the milk carton go in the garbage or the recycle?  She knows what to recycle and how to do it and often corrects me.  It’s questions like these that don’t keep me awake at night. But what does keep me thinking is what am I to do with all the bread I have in the fridge or those fading apples?  I hate wasting food and most chefs feel the same way, that’s why we use corn cobs to make flavorful stock for polenta or scraps of veggies to enhance a dull broth.

Bread is a real sore spot for me, I am almost all gluten free but my family is not. I find myself buying bread that the two of them can’t finish. The bun situation is the worst, there are always too many buns to burger ratio or you have to buy an extra bag of buns because you are one or two short. Then what, it sits in the back of the fridge alone getting stale? Or you make a great attempt at freezing the abandoned but by the time you resurrect them they are freezer burned and even more tasteless than when they were fresh. Remember a two posts ago I wrote about the At Home Burger, the bun issue happened  for real, so I’m sharing the issue with you because I know you have the same problem, darn buns!

So, use them up for breakfast the next day. Make a regular French toast egg mixture and soak those buns in it. They cook up just right, problem solved! Now after that burger and French Toast we better get to the gym and get those kids outside to run around!

Basic French Toast

Mix the egg up the night before, cover and chill to make the AM easy.

3 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 burger or hotdog buns

Topping

Maple sugar, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar 

Fresh fruit and vanilla yogurt

Method

Beat eggs in a shallow container ( I prefer square )

Add milk, and vanilla, beat until frothy and light in color.

Separate the buns, poke holes in the top and bottom, soak each in the egg mixture, first on one side, then the other.

Heat a skillet on medium, add butter or butter substitute

Cook both sides until golden about 5-7 minutes.

Serve on warm plates.

My Little Food Stylist and Butterfly Dumplings

23 Jul

Easy soup with a twist

“Soup…mom I want soup for dinner tonight.” “Honey it’s 4:45, dinner is in one hour, I’d have to go to the store, blah, blah, blah…”  Once I get fixated on something to make nothing will stop me, so off to Trader Joe’s I ran (biked)….whoosh…

I grabbed a bag of frozen wontons and just like that…whoosh…I was back. I tossed together a very quick and “Semi Homemade” soup. I was lucky enough to have some good chicken stock on hand in the freezer, dried mushrooms and fresh spinach. I followed the directions on the bag for making the wontons, tossed in some onion and garlic, ginger, and let it simmer. It was very fast and created a warm light dinner. We can’t all be Super Mom or Super Chef every day and it’s ok, we shouldn’t have to be.

I was busy, getting the rest of our meal together and kidlet was restless so I came up with having her “style” her dinner. She loves tofu, the marinated kind, so I handed her some cookie cutters and tofu and walked away. When I turned back around she had placed the butterfly shapes so perfectly in the soup, I was shocked! She sees me working all the time, she even helps out occasionally on my food styling jobs.  I know she has the ability to decorate her food and make it beautiful, now if she would just start making entire meals for us!  I’m pretty convinced by now that if they cook it they eat it or in our case, if you decorate it, you eat it.

It helps to have some ingredients on hand for quick dinners these are things I love to keep around:
peeled ginger in the freezer, you can add it to soups,
Cooked marinated tofu
Chicken stock, homemade or boxed
Dried mushroom assortment
Green onions, sliced frozen

Wonton Soup with Tofu Butterflies

I realize that not everyone has a Trader Joe’s market across the street. This recipe is so flexible that you can use just about anything in it. If you can’t get wontons, try Gyoza or just ramen style noodles and cooked chicken. Make this to taste, if your kids need more flavor, add more soy sauce and sesame.  Water chestnuts are crunchy and take on the flavor of the dish they are in, try them. Try dried reconstituted mushrooms, they can add great flavor to lots of dishes.

1 Bag of Trader Joe’s Frozen mini chicken wontons
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 coins of ginger, peeled
1-2 green onions, sliced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms 
2 Tbs soy sauce
4 cups of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 can of  sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 tsp sesame oil
Handful of spinach, fresh or frozen
Teriyaki marinated cooked tofu
Salt/Pepper
Optional
2 eggs, beaten (see below)
Follow directions on the bag of wontons, when cooked, remove and set aside. They should be browned on the bottom and cooked through.
In the same pan, add a tablespoon of oil (peanut, or vegetable) sauté garlic, ginger, green onions and mushrooms until dry.  Turn heat to medium and add the soy sauce and stir to incorporate.  Add chicken broth, and water chestnuts and  simmer.   Add the mini wontons back, to warm through, add sesame oil  serve. Salt and pepper to taste.
If adding the beaten egg for and egg drop style soup, add just before the wontons.
Slowly stream in the beaten eggs to simmering (not boiling) soup mixture, let simmer untouched 2 minutes. Continue with finishing the recipe.

“Let Us” Roll Ups Revisited

2 Jul


Since I moved my blog over from Toddler Café to Playful Pantry I haven’t posted any recipes from my book. This is for all of you who never saw this crunchy delicious one it is one of my favorites so I am resurrecting it.  This is our go to meal for summer, you can add any veggies you desire,  it’s great for kids and adults love it too!  Stay cool and eat well!

Getting kids to eat raw vegetables can be a real struggle but this one may turn your kids around. This dish has crisp crunch and texture from healthy vegetables! The sauce binds the meat together so it stays put in the lettuce leaf. Give your child the smaller inside leaves so they will be easier for little hands to manage.

Make sure you break up the meat as small as you can to make it easy to eat. Have them fill the lettuce boats with the tasty “cargo” and sail them into the port (mouth). Try to be a shark and bite the boat as you sail it by their mouths.

“Let Us” Roll Up

Makes 4 servings

1 head romaine lettuce hearts, separated washed and dried

1 pound ground chicken, beef or turkey

1 medium carrot minced or grated 3/4 cup chopped or 3 ounces

1 cup broccoli crowns and stems, minced, 3/4 cup chopped or 3 ounces

Sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

Chopped Peanuts or Cashews for sprinkling (optional)

Put sauce ingredients in a small bowl stir to combine and break up lumps with a fork, set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan or wok on medium high heat. Add meat and cook untouched until meat looks like it is cooking underneath and juices start release. Chop the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks, when meat is almost cooked through add vegetables. Continue stirring and breaking up lumps until meat is thoroughly cooked, if the meat is giving off a lot of grease drain it before adding sauce. Turn heat down to medium low, give the sauce a stir and add it to the center of the pan. Mix well cook 2 minutes more, continuing to break up any large chunks of meat and coating with sauce.

Serve meat and lettuce leaves separately on a plate, have your child try to put the meat in the leaves with a spoon sprinkle with nuts and eat like a taco.

Variation:

Mix cooked rice into meat mixture to change it up.

Next time add minced onion or garlic when you add the vegetables. This will get your kids used to new flavors without them seeing the identifiable chunks.

 This recipe can be made gluten free easily by substituting the Soy for GF Tamari.
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