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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Breakfast Isn’t Boring Anymore

10 Feb

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In our house we do breakfast every day, I mean a full breakfast. My daughter isn’t a big lunch eater so we try to pack in the nutrition in the AM as best we can. I make a mean poached egg and slamming Matzoh Bri, the occasional Hash or the ever popular Chilaquiles. Over the years my husband has become quite the breakfast maker, he started off on the weekends and He even took over school weekday breakfast for a whole school year. He’s got his own funny recipes like the Framble, and the Encharadia.
Weekday breakfast is back on my plate now and we are board! I’ve made it my mission to try and make breakfast new again. It doesn’t take much effort to make it fun or different. The night before I set out bowls and chopsticks so when they sat down they had a surprise!
Today I made Breakfast Fried Rice, they ate it up, I will be a staple on our breakfast menu from now on. You can use brown rice and add frozen peas and carrots and anything else you can dream up. We like Applegate Organic Bacon, it’s thin and not too salty. You can add a sliced orange to finish the meal with just like at a Chinese restaurant!

Breakfast Fried Rice

When making fried rice it is best to use leftover rice, it clumps and soaks up the flavors well. Make your rice the night before and you can even make and chop, the bacon the night before. For ease I crack and scramble the eggs in a separate container. In the morning I just add the eggs to a pan scramble, and then add the rice.
Serves four

2 cups cooked white rice
5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
Three large eggs
Salt
Pepper
Soy sauce
2 Tbs. grape seed oil or coconut oil
1 avocado, sliced

Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Eggs, scramble until almost dry, remove from pan, set aside.
Add rice and chopped bacon to pan (you may need more oil if not using a non stick pan)
Fry rice until hot, stirring rice until cooked through, add eggs back to pan with rice. Season with salt and pepper.
Add soy-sauce and sliced avocado to taste.
Serve in boxes or bowls.

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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Gluten Free – Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Box Cake

11 Dec

betty

Last week I went to Florida to surprise my mom, I literally just flew across the US and walked into her house at 7 pm. She was shocked to say the least! We had a lovely time just doing nothing!

On the flight home I sat next to a really sweet gal named Camron, we started joking immediatly and I knew the long flight would be less dreadful than usual. We struck up a conversation about gluten because the snack packs on the flight were less than desirable for gluten low gals, especially for a person with Celiac. She let me know that she had been involved in the Betty Crocker® Gluten Free baking contest. I am always looking for Gluten Free items that are more mainstream that anyone can make, this one fits the bill. So if you are experimenting with gluten free, try this one! Thanks to my new friend Cameron for making the flight way more fun than it usually is!

GLUTEN FREE

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Box Cake

1 box Betty Crocker® Gluten Free chocolate chip cookie mix 1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
1 egg

2 cups whipping cream
12 oz gluten-free mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa Chocolate shavings or miniature chocolate chips

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix cookie mix, butter, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and the egg until soft dough forms.
  2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets to make 36 cookies.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. In large bowl, beat whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, cocoa and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form.
  5. To assemble cake, arrange 7 cookies in bottom of 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Break 1 additional cookie apart to fill in spaces. Spread 1 cup of the whipped cream mixture evenly over cookies. Arrange 7 more cookies over whipped cream layer; top with additional 1 cup whipped cream mixture. Repeat 3 more times with remaining cookies and whipped cream mixture. Spread the top smooth; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 12 hours.

         6. To serve, run a sharp knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove side of pan. Place cake on serving plate. Garnish with chocolate. Cut into wedges. Store covered in refrigerator.

Nutrition Information
Calories:370; Calories from Fat:210; Carbohydrate Choice:2 1/2; Cholesterol:75mg; Fat:4 1/2; Other Carbohydrate:1 1/2; Potassium:45mg; Sodium:220mg; Starch:1; Total Carbohydrate:38g; Total Fat:23g; Monounsaturated Fat:4 1/2g; Polyunsaturated Fat:1/2g; Protein:3g; Saturated Fat:14g; Sugars:25g; Trans Fat:1/2g; Fats & Oils:2tsp;

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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Plums Plums Plums

9 Aug


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We have a tree that won’t quit….even though we lost an enormous branch last year due to too much weight, it still produces like crazy. The plums have gotten larger and better every season, I don’t even like plums and I eat these. Sometimes we make jam but mostly we give huge bags away. We give them away to be transformed in to jams, jellies, cakes and anything else one can imagine.
This year we decided instead of tossing the remaining plums in the compost we would make Brandy. I took a few recipes for Northern European plum liquor and a traditional Italian recipe and mashed them together.
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20130714-213438.jpgIt’s so easy, although we won’t know if it turns out for another 2 months, I’ll be sure to let you know. We usually make Nocino but our walnut harvest looks sparse this year. I want to leave as many nuts on the tree as I can. Nocino is made from green walnuts harvested early in July, If I pick them now I wouldn’t have many mature nuts left in September.  Last year I canned 40 pounds of cherries but we ended up eating them this year. So before summer ended I wanted to make something, and plums we have!  We will bottle it up, create a cute label and hand it out for holiday time.
We always gets the kids(s) involved, I let them put the sugar in and stir this time, and they were thrilled!

 

 

 

Plum Brandy

Make sure to sterilize your jar and spoon with boiling water.

The natural yeast on the fruit will act as a fermentation starter.

5 lbs washed plums, red or yellow, cut, pits removed
1 liter vodka
4 cups brandy or rum
5 lbs sugar

Put it all in a large jar and stir.
Let sit room temperature for 8 weeks. Covered or with a cheese cloth over it. I am alternating between the two. 
strain, drink.

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