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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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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.

bullseye

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

Quick Lunch Idea

19 Oct

Are you skipping lunch AGAIN? I know, you are so busy, little kids are home and won’t nap. Big kids are coming home soon and you still have to run out to do some errands. We all deal with it, whether you are a work at home mommy or work in an office mommy. Are you putting yourself first or are you having a latte for lunch again?  I work at home and so does my husband, most of the time we need to eat lunch at home but it is hard to stop what we are doing to eat. So tailor this to your liking and remember to eat!

Here is a really easy way to feed yourself and the other people at home with you during lunch. Add the greens for the kid, get them used to having sandwiches with veggies on them.

I love recycling leftovers, by now you know that! This is a very easy wrap using leftover roasted chicken but you could use anything. How about squash, potato, broccoli, steak, turkey burger??  Do you have tortillas, do you have cheese, spinach or lettuce?

It is nice keep ingredients on hand like  some pesto, humus or my favorite balsamic glaze on hand for quick lunches.

Trader Joe’s has a balsamic glaze that is delicious, it lasts forever too. Look around the store for interesting condiments to keep around for just such an occasion.

Here are two really easy versions of a wrap, one gluten free and dairy free, one cheesy with a regular tortilla.

Chicken Balsamic Wrap

(Normal folks version)

1 Flour tortilla

a handful of fresh spinach

shredded chicken or leftovers

A slice of cheese

balsamic glaze

mayonnaise

Warm tortilla on the flame of a gas stove for 5 seconds, flip over for five seconds more. You can also warm it in a dry pan on the stove for about 30 seconds.

add cheese, mayonnaise, spinach, chicken, salt, pepper and balsamic glaze. Roll and eat!

Chicken Balsamic Wrap

Gluten and Dairy Free Version

1 Gluten free tortilla ( like Rudi’s the best)

a handful of fresh spinach

shredded chicken or leftovers

balsamic glaze

mayonnaise

Warm tortilla on the flame of a gas stove for 5 seconds, flip over for five seconds more. You can also warm it in a dry pan on the stove for about 30 seconds.

Add mayonnaise, spinach, chicken, salt, pepper and balsamic glaze. Roll and eat!

Life is a Bowl Of Cherries!

8 Jun
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Our cherry monkey!

The cherries almost always ripen the weekend of Claire’s birthday, May 11th which is also Mother’s Day. This year they ripened late, surprising but in the end a blessing. Let me tell you what usually happens every year…usually the cherries ripen over night, one day they are not ready and the next they are bursting. Well, do you know how smart crows are? Crows are they are really really smart. I have tried everything to deter them from eating our sweet delicious cherries, we really try. The sad part is, is that day when the cherries ripen, the crows call all their sleek feathered friends over and by 8 am the trees are empty. They suck them off the tree like a cartoon cat eats a fish, in one inhale! Sometimes you can find a half eaten cherry swinging in the breeze but more than not those trees are empty. Under the trees in a massacre of the unsavory cherries the birds rejected. They don’t even leave them on the trees to ripen they just toss them to the ground to taunt us.  Now I will tell you about the miracle that happened in our yard this year. We have a bird bath and I kept it full for the first time in forever, it attracted two Blue Jays, big beautiful ones, who love to splash around in our bath. They also like cherries but are much more polite than the crows, they eat one a day, not much.20120608-221023.jpg

The crows hate them, so it worked in our favor to host the Jays. They got very friendly and comfortable here in our yard one friend dubbed them “Guard Jay’s” and they were. Needless to say they kept the Crows away and we got an amazing harvest, almost 60 pounds of amazingly plump cherries. The problem is that I noticed the yard is very quiet the last few days, it seems that the Jay’s are gone, little freeloaders were just using us for our cherries. I thought they really liked us and were protecting our cherries, oh well they moved on. Today the crows enjoyed some of my baby lettuces, anyone have some Jay’s I can borrow? Darn crows!

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Puffy custardy cherry pancake

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Stems and bad cherries

I have never canned anything on a large-scale but I felt like I couldn’t let the cherries go to waste. I canned them in a simple syrup, it was easy and I may just be a convert to canning! Claire and I set out to can as many as we could, we ended up with about 50 jars! The kids can help if you keep organized, let them know you are using hot stuff! They can put the cherries in to the jars and help put the rings on the jars too.

Canned Sweet Cherries

Make use of a bot of boiling water to make utensils sterile and for making hot rags to wipe the jars with.  You can save the left over juice form the eaten cherries to use for drinks, like Shirley Temples!

(Rainier or Bing)

10 pounds sweet cherries (Rainier, Bing, or other sweet variety

16 cups water

8 cups sugar

vanilla beans

Wash jars and place  on a cookie sheet a 300 degree oven on their sides. For sterile jars leave in about 45 minutes to an hour.

boil lids to sterilize.

Wash cherries in a sterile sink or bowl and pit your cherries. I left mine with pits,in for a nuttier flavor.

Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Keep hot (but not boiling) while you prepare  your jars.

Keep your jars in the oven until and take them out in small batches as you fill them. Do not add hot syrup to a cold jar it will crack.

With a clean sterile spoon, stuff cherries as you can into each jar, press them down.

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Washing cherries

I had tons of vanilla beans so I added 1 inch pieces of whole vanilla bean to some of my jars.

Using a ladle fill each jar with the hot syrup, stopping  just shy of the rim. I like to do this on a rimmed cookie sheet.  With a clean, hot, wet cloth, wipe the rims of the jars and place the sealers and lids on top. Tighten with your hands.

Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Remove from the water bath carefully place jars on a towel, let cool, and listen for the pops.  Of course, refrigerate any jars that do not seal and eat them immediately.

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The last of our harvest after removing stems

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Claire stuffing jars

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Using a sterile spoon to stuff jars

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A custard-y cherry pancake made with our fresh cherries. I used Michelle Stern’s puffy apple pancake recipe from her book, Whole Family Cookbook.

Adapted from Michelle Stern’s Whole Family Cookbook

I made this batter in a blender, it was really easy and clean up was a breeze. If you have a Vitamix or Blendtec I recommend using them for this recipe. A regular blender works fine too. Add all the ingredients to a blender jar and whirl just until blended and follow the ecooking directions.

Serves 4

5 Tbs. Butter, divided
Eggs
3/4 cup Milk
3 Tbs. Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1  tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt 
1/2 cup Flour

1 cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted 

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave or in a saucepan.

In a medium-sized bowl, crack the eggs.

Beat the eggs lightly and then add the melted butter.

Measure milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, vanilla,  ground cinnamon, salt, and flour, and add them to the eggs.

Mix all of the ingredients until the batter is well blended.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 10″ ovenproof skillet.  Add cherries and cook until they are soft 5 minutes.

Put on oven mitts and take the skillet off the heat. Pour the batter over the cherries.

Place the skillet into the oven and cook for 15-25 minutes until gently browned and puffed. (Do not open the oven during the first 15 minutes of the cooking process, or the puff will deflate!)

Put on oven mitts, remove the skillet from the oven, and immediately place an oven mitt over the handle, so that you won’t accidentally burn your hand.

Cut the puff into wedges and serve immediately.


 

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Notcha Your Normal Nachos

27 Feb


I love Twitter, I have made many friends on Twitter but the best part of all my Tweeting is getting lots of yummy snacks delivered to my front door. Last week I was messing around on Twitter and I got a Tweet from @pretzlecrisps on Valentine’s Day, to say they were sending the love in the form of snacks.  The funny part is that the next morning there was a huge package on my front stoop and it was hand delivered, not my mail.  Look at all that schwag, a case of all the flavors of Crisps, a serving bowl, beer cozies, grocery lists, pens, humus, salsa, and my favorite chocolate almond butter from Justin’s.

Here is out exchange…

PretzelCrispsFeb 14, 6:42pm via Web

@Chefjen Adorable lunch idea, lucky kids! DM work addy & we’ll dlvr Pretzel Crisps snack packs, perfect for lunches or snacking, our treat!

 @Chefjen Are you up for a Pretzel Crisps delivery, our treat! DM addy, snacks on us!

@Chefjen Special delivery on your front porch! Snack happy & let us know your favorites!

@PretzelCrisps and it wasn’t even in a box…you were here! Sorry I wasn’t home.

@Chefjen Sorry we missed you, what a beautiful day! Enjoy the Pretzel Crisps & dips!

The next morning my daughter was so excited to open the box and see the all flavors. We ended up tearing into the Original and Sesame right away we loved them instantly. I really am not a pretzel fan but I do love a crunch, so these made me smile. They can be filled with spread, dipped in chocolate or savory dips, crushed for coating on chicken, the possibilities are endless. I saved the spiced ones for some out of town guests, I didn’t think the kids would appreciate the spicy flavors.

We decided to get creative and my daughter suggested we make nachos with the Pretzel Crisps. Being salty and crunchy we thought the crisp would hold up to baking and they did!  We made a quick version of nachos but the possibilities are really endless.  We decided the Jalapeno Jack flavor would work best as the base for our nachos. They are pretty intense right out of the bag especially if you are not used to eating chips and flavored bagged snacks. After we laced them in cheese and drowned them in salsa and avocado they balanced right out. I have to say as snack food goes these were pretty tasty and had a zing!!

Pretzel Crisps Nachos

This is super simple to make, add beans, meats or anything you can think up!!

This can be made with any of the Pretzel Crisp flavors we chose a spicy one but choose original for the kids.

½ bag Jalapeno Jack Pretzel Chips

1- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese or Jack Cheese

2 Tbs chopped cilantro

1/2 cup mild salsa

1/2 diced avocado

Preheat oven to 350˚F

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or greased parchment paper.

make one layer of pretzel Crisps, add half the cheese and cilantro, repeat with another layer on top. If you are using beans and meat or other veggies add them to these layers.

Bake for about 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with salsa and diced avocado.

Enjoy.

Note – We also made a batch with Raclette cheese, it melts extremely fast and ended up being delicious on the Crisps.

Raclette – Swiss or French alpine cheese with a nutty flavor and silky, smooth texture.

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