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School Lunch Flashback

11 Aug

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I’m bringing back this article I wrote for Edible Marin Wine country in 2012. This continues to be an easy fun lunch for my kiddo!

If you have a rice cooker, set it the night before to cook fresh rice in the morning before you get up. Use whatever is on hand, leftovers, nuts, veggies , chicken, steak, whatever you have on hand.

We are all getting ready for school and being prepared for lunch making is a real time saver. Good luck!

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By Jennifer Carden / Photographed by Matthew Carden

If it’s day one of 200 or so school days to come and you’re already out of ideas, you are not alone. It feels like kids’ school lunches have been the same since the ’50s. Does this sound familiar: PB&J with the crust cut off, an apple and juice? My own mom used those waxed bags that never quite closed, so one side of the sandwich was dried out by the time lunch rolled around. I almost never ate them. Sorry, Mom.

I consulted with my daughter when I was writing this piece and she provided some useful food for thought on why kids don’t finish their lunch at school. “I like to get through my lunch fast so we can go out to recess,” she divulged. I think that’s pretty universal. So give this sleight of hand a try to spice up your child’s lunchtime with a game of handball… sushi, that is!

Temarizushi is Japanese for “hand ball,” and these small jewel-like rice balls, formed by hand, are traditionally served in the spring for young children’s parties. They are actually great year-round, changing the toppings with the seasons, and a perfect way to use the leftovers in your refrigerator. Three rice balls that include a protein have around the equivalent nutritional value of most lunchbox sandwiches, making them the right kind of fuel for all that playing and learning. The balls are easy and fun for kids to make the night before school.

TO PREPARE HAND BALL SUSHI:

Tear or cut a dozen 4- by 4-inch squares of plastic wrap and set aside on a clean, dry work surface. (Note: If you lay them down with half extending over the edge of the counter it makes them easy to grab when you need them.) Place a small amount of your chosen ingredient on a sheet of the plastic wrap. Drop approximately 2 teaspoons of room-temperature sushi rice on top of your *Toppings of choice. If it is sticky, dampen your hands with a bit of water.

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*Toppings of your choice such as: toasted sesame seeds; nori (toasted seaweed), cut out with a hole punch or cut into shapes; carrot, zucchini or cucumber ribbons; cooked fresh pumpkin; corn; sliced black olives; tofu, cut into animal shapes with small cookie cutters; leftover chicken, salmon or scrambled eggs; edible flowers; or thinly sliced deli meats like turkey or ham For a sweet option, add cinnamon sugar to the rice and top with thinly sliced apples.

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Gather the plastic wrap up around the rice ball, then twist the plastic wrap tightly, firmly pressing the rice into a ball shape. Continue with new ingredients until you have used up all the rice. Wait at least 15 minutes to unwrap the balls and serve. If you make these ahead of time, leave in the wrap and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature to serve. For lunch boxes, leave them wrapped for safekeeping and your child will have fun unwrapping them at lunchtime.

How to make perfect sushi rice every time.

Ingredients for Perfect Sushi Rice

2 cups sushi rice

2 cups water

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons mirin

2 teaspoons salt

Ingredients

Toppings of your choice* (examples below)

Instructions

TO PREPARE PERFECT SUSHI RICE:

Do not follow the directions on the bag of rice! Rinse the rice only 3–4 times— the water does NOT have to run clear as it will instruct on the bag. Allow rice to drain thoroughly.

While rice is draining, combine vinegar, sugar, salt and mirin in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Add the rice and water to a pan and bring quickly to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes before removing the pot from the heat, keeping the lid CLOSED. Abso- lutely no stirring or sneaking a peek!

Let rice rest for 10 minutes, then remove the cover.

Spread the rice in a wide glass or ceramic dish to cool and lightly fan the rice while adding the vinegar mixture. Mix rice gently, being careful not to break or mash it.

Cook’s note: If you have a rice cooker, follow the directions for “sushi rice” and add the vinegar and other seasonings after cooking.

Yields 4 cups of rice.

Chocolate and Coconut Heaven (and almost healthy)

22 Mar

20140322-143037.jpgNews Flash, I love brownies. I really can’t get enough of the gooey chocolate deliciousness. We grew up on Betty Crocker boxed brownie mix.  Seriously, back then those were the bomb, all fudge with that extra fudge pack you’d add just in to really make sure thy were fudge-y enough. Times have changed and we try to stick to a healthier diet of wholesome ingredients so when I crave chocolate I scour the internet in search of the perfect treat. I stumbled upon Paleo Grub and a particular recipe by  jumped right out at me. Yes it is a brownie recipe and yes I made them twice in two days, and yes I ate most of them!

the cool thing about these is that they have no grain, the star of these is almond butter, who knew? They don’t taste like almonds and the texture is very brownie like. As good as these are I needed a bit of sweet on top so I went a step further, yes I did. The brownies were so delicious but I needed more, I was having a bad sweet tooth. I created this dairy free recipe for icing using the Kelapo Oil. It does have sugar so it is not entirely Paleo but you can create your own from this base recipe, go for it!

Recently I received a bunch of Kelapo Coconut oil and I’d been thinking of using it but hadn’t quite put my finger on anything. (lightbulb moment coming) Frosting for these healthy brownies, what a great way to test out the new coconut oil. We use a lot of coconut oil on our house from skin and hair moisturizer to sweet and savory recipes. The Kelapo oil is so coconut-y, it is very delicious and I can’t wait to use it again in another recipe.

All I can tell you is beware because this icing is way too easy to just eat by the spoonful!


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Dairy Free Coconut Icing

Makes approximately  1 1/2 cups

2 Tbs Kelapo Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil

2 Tbs room temperature Earth Balance or Butter (if you are not dairy free)

3 Tbs coconut butter

pinch salt

2 Tbs almond milk or milk (if you are not dairy free)

1 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar

 

Mix the butters and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add sugar a half cup at a time mixing until smooth.

Use immediately. To store chill for up to a week. To use from refrigerator let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften and stir vigorously for easy spreading.

 

 

 

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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Breakfast in Bed (kind of)

30 Jul

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 “Noosa Finest Yoghurt would like to serve you an Aussie-style ‘brekkie in bed,’ hand delivered to your door on a morning of your choice.”

Um OK, who doesn’t like breakfast in bed? When Noosa decided they wanted to drive to Novato to serve us brekie we said heck yes-sir-ee!! We usually eat eggs but I made an exception for this morning. I set the alarm for 7:30 and on the dot at 8 the van rolled up. Out came the most bubbly delivery gal, the sun wasn’t out but it didn’t matter she was so sunny and cheerful.

Not only did we get yoghurt hand delivered we got, organic granola, fresh juice and fruit brought right to our door. She unpacked her cooler onto the breakfast table and then we went outside to take photos of the van. She drove back to San Francisco and we dug in. We opened all the flavors right away, tasting them and giving our opinions. The raspberry was a hit even though I didn’t think I would like it, I loved it.   I really loved the honey flavor and so did Claire. The fruit purees are delicious too, not gummy or overly sweet. Noosa yoghurts stay away from artificial ingredients of any kind, including flavors, colors and preservatives, it just feels like good homemade food.

contact-page-sb-img1I had seen them at the store but I never picked one up but now I will, for sure, in fact when we were in Nantucket last week I grabbed a few at the market there. Noosa uses the best seasonal produce the market has to offer, and pack it in clear tubs so you can see for yourself the lusciousness of what you’re about to enjoy. And it was lush, I am used to lactose free yogurt so this to me was like the most creamy luscious treat.  I had never had Aussie style yoghurt, it has a uniquely sweet/tart tang and thick, velvety texture, I’m hooked. Noosa is made in small batches, on-site at the family-owned Morning Fresh Dairy in Bellvue, Colorado, and infused with locally produced clover alfalfa honey.images

We decided that we could get used to this breakfast delivery thing. I think this would be a great business for someone, I am lazy in the morning, just ask my husband! Once a week can someone can come over and bring breakfast to us,  I would be so in to that?

Yoghurt has roots all over the world, India, Greece, Bulgaria, Switzerland, France and so on…..It’ s used in savory and sweet dishes you can read more here.

Lets clear up this spelling thing…yogurt or yoghurt?

The word is originally derived from Turkish, to be curdled or coagulated; to thicken. There are many variations of spelling but they are mostly all pronounced the same so spell it however you want. Just don’t forget to try Noosa!!

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Sorry Noosa I don’t think I’ll be tasting the Vegemite anytime soon…I’m sure it’s delicious 😉

Raw Kale Salad

14 Jul

Raw Kale Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing
This is my favorite most filling meal, kids think it’s yummy too because it has apples and a bit of honey for sweetness. You can save it for leftovers because kale is hearty and won’t get limp like lettuce after it has been dressed.

You can adjust the sweetness in this recipe to your liking. I like my dressing a bit sweeter when it is on raw kale, it cuts the harshness of the kale.

Dressing
Makes 1 1/2 cups dressing enough for a few salads

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup XVOO
2 Tbs rice vinegar
Salt/pepper
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs honey

Add to a blender and blend to emulsify.
A hand or stick blender works well too!

Raw Kale Salad
Makes two large servings

To break up nuts, put in a baggie and smash with a pan or meat tenderizer
Curly or Red Russian Kale is best for this salad

1 head raw kale, washed, de-stemmed, dried and torn in small pieces or cut with scissors
1/2 cup of raw almonds chopped or broken
1 hard apple, Fuji or Granny Smith, diced
Sliced red onion, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and dress to your liking.
Let sit for about 1/2 hour to meld the flavors. Serve.

Big Salad

6 Mar

20130306-164515.jpgMost of the time I work from home, with the exception of occasional travel or being at our Art Gallery. My husband also works at home and we try not to eat lunch out too much.   I am always in need fast easy and lunches, and it’s usually some form of leftovers magically disguised as a new dish. We love big salads at our house especially as the weather gets warmer.  If you keep clean chopped veggies on hand you will be more likely to choose a healthier alternative like a salad to take out.

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode in the with the “big salad?” This reminded me of that, it’s never ending, full of crunchy veggies, sweet and soft potatoes and creamy dressing. Just make sure if you make it, your lunch date knows YOU made it! (make sure you watch the Seinfeld link)  I suggest sharing because it isn’t exactly a low cal salad and you wouldn’t want to hog the whole thing, would you?

I used gluten free soy sauce and organic peanut butter but you use what ever you have on hand.
Kids may also like this salad, it’s not to tangy and they tend to love peanut butter. You can substitute almond or sunflower butter easily, adjusting the water may be necessary. You could serve some toasty flat bread with this salad but the crunchy veggies were enough for me.
The sauce can work over rice as a hot dish too, just heat it up, add a few more dashes of soy sauce and off you go….

 

Here is a tip for grating ginger. Peel fresh ginger and keep it in the freezer. When needed for soups, sauces or tea just use a micro grater and grate directly into your recipe. I reach for my ginger all the time!

Big Salad

Serves 2 large  or 4 smaller servings

Creamy Peanut Butter Dressing

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or more to taste)

2 teaspoons honey or agave

2 Tbs rice wine vinegar

Grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

pinch of ground pepper

1/4 cup hot water

Pinch of red pepper flakes

In a heat proof glass measuring cup or mug add all ingredients except water. Put in microwave for 30 seconds or less.   Mix all ingredients with a fork until well blended. Add hot water slowly until, your desired consistency, add red pepper flakes.

Salad

Use any veggies you have on hand, this is what I used.

2 small sweet potatoes, cooked and chopped (see recipe)
Baby spinach
Kale, raw, shredded
cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces
broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
red onions, sliced in to half moons
scallions, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
cherry tomatoes, halved
carrots diced
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wash and pierce potatoes, toss in microwave and cook about 5-6 minutes on high or until very soft. Remove from microwave and let cool for 10 minutes. Strip the peel off with your fingers, it should be easy to remove. If it gives you trouble, scoop out flesh with a spoon. Chop in to small bite size chunks, set aside.

Assemble a crisp salad: Add everything except the sweet potato to a large bowl, toss with dressing (start with a small amount, you can always add but can’t remove too much dressing)
Add sweet potato on top and drizzle a bit of dressing on it. Serve! You can top with chopped peanuts if desired.

Perfect in Pink!

16 Jun

20120616-170940.jpgI usually plan my posts! I’m a very image driven person, unless I have a good photo to work from I don’t want to write. I worry that if I don’t plan my posts they may be lackluster or too boring. BUT…. today I made this and snapped a shot very quickly while entertaining kids!
Anyway I think the 95 degree day is getting to me. It’s hot as hell here and I’ve got two girls in the back yard soaking each other. They are on the swing spraying each other with the hose. So for better or worse you get a quickie post today.20120616-172015.jpg
I’m running food and drink to them out back, keeping them in the shade and hydrated.

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This is what I came up with to drink on the fly.

Strawberry Lemonade Cooler
Depending on your blender you may have to cut up the fruit. If you have a Vitamix or Blendtech don’t bother cutting the fruit.

1 pint very ripe organic strawberries
2 cups Limeade or lemonade
4 ice cubes
Mint from the garden if desired

Wash and trim strawberries. Add to the blender with lemonade and ice. Blend.
Serve with a strawberry and mint garnish.

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