Friday, October 31, 2008

Falafel Wrap

During our recent kitchen renovations, Abby and I pretty much lived off frozen foods. One of our favorites was this falafel wrap that we found at Whole Foods. Now that I have an oven again, I had to try to make them myself! These can be prepared and frozen (unbaked) to keep on hand.

Falafel Wraps
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 10 minutes

14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salsa
1 dill gherkin (or half of a small baby dill pickle)
2 tsp olive oil
4 sheets phyllo
olive oil spray

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, cumin, coriander, salt, lemon juice, salsa, pickle, and olive oil. Puree until a thick paste forms.

Lay out one sheet of phyllo on a work surface. Lightly spray it with olive oil; fold it in half lengthwise, and spray again. Mound 1/4 of the chickpea mixture onto one end of the phyllo and roll it up, burrito-style. Lightly spray the top of the wrap with olive oil spray. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and mixture. The wraps can now be either frozen or baked.

When you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 425F. Bake the wrap on a baking sheet for about 10-15 minutes, until filling is heated through and the dough is beginning to brown.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chicken Pot Pies with Cornmeal Crust

Chicken Pot Pies with Cormeal Crust

(serves 4)

2 chicken breasts, cooked (or equivalent amount of leftover cooked chicken or turkey)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup baby carrots, chopped or sliced thin
1/2 sm. onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1-1/2 cup milk
1/4 c. flour
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

For the crust:
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup water

I was determined to create a meal using only ingredients I had on hand at home. We had roasted chicken the night before for dinner so we had leftover chicken. I decided to turn it into a pot pie. It came out really good! I kept stealing bites off of Neko's plate. ;o)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until almost clear. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute.
3. Stir in the flour to make a roux.
4. Gradually stir in the milk until a thick sauce forms.
5. Stir in the carrots, peas and corn.
6. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Stir in the parsley and remove from heat.
8. In a small bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in the olive oil and water. Mixture should be batter consistency.
9. Spoon the filling mixture equally between 4 individual baking dishes about 3/4 full then spoon the batter equally on top of each one.
10. Put all baking dishes onto a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve!

Green Eggs and Ham Dinner Date

My husband and I share an alma mater with Dr. Seuss, and we have kept Abby's library well-stocked with his works. Green Eggs and Ham is one of her current favorites, so what better theme for a dinner date?

Pesto-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Spinach Scramble

Pesto-Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes

3 oz fresh basil, rinsed, stems removed
1/4 cup walnuts
3 Tbsp ground Parmesan
1-2 cloves garlic
pork tenderloin (1 to 1.5 lbs)
olive oil spray

Preheat the oven to 425F. In a food processor, grind together the basil, walnuts, Parmesan, and garlic until a smooth paste forms. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly spray the pork with olive oil and set it on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, press the pesto mixture onto the top and sides of the pork, forming a crust. Spray the top of the pesto with a little more olive oil spray; roast the pork for about 45 minutes, until done.

Spinach Scramble
Prep time: 15 minutes

1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the spinach, eggs, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat; add egg mixture and cook, stirring to scramble.

Grasshopper Brownies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 30-35 minutes

1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 oz white chocolate (or white chips)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp mint extract
green food coloring (optional)
1 cup extra white chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8x8" pan with foil.

In a small bowl, combine the butter and white chocolate; microwave for about 1 minutes, until butter is melted. Whisk to melt the chocolate chips. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the vanilla and mint extract. Whisk in the melted chocolate and butter. Add green food dye*. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined; gently fold in the extra chocolate chips, if desired. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges are golden and the center is set.

* about the food dye - I used all-natural vegetable dyes, and though my mixture turned a vile dark green, when it came out of the oven - there was no green left! I don't know if this was because I was trying these all-natural dyes or if I really just didn't have enough. I'm going to make these again with artificial green dye because they were tasty, but I wanted them green, darnit!

* * * * *

The whole dinner went over really well with the girls! Neko had seconds, and Abby finished the leftover spinach scramble for breakfast this morning. My husband finished most of the pork for dinner last night - it was really yummy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Whole Wheat Tortillas

We use tortillas all the time, for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and wrap sandwiches. I finally tried making my own yesterday and was so happy! These are perfect for a toddler to help with - they're messy but not that hard, a great way to practice rolling pin skills!

Whole Wheat Tortillas
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup water
olive oil spray (or other oil cooking spray)

Preheat the oven to 325F. Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl; add the water and stir until the dough forms one ball. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or two, adding flour as needed if the dough is too sticky. Divide the dough into 4, 6, or 8 even balls (depending on how large you want your tortillas to be). Roll each portion into a circle about 1/8" thick. You will need lots of flour for the rolling pin and board!

Lightly coat two baking sheets with olive oil spray. Transfer your tortillas to the baking sheets, and spray the top sides of the tortillas with olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes, to yield a soft, pliable tortilla (longer if you wanted a crispy tortilla).

We had these with ground turkey tacos last night and were all pleased! They were fun and easy to make, and a great cooking project for Abby.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bunny Snack

Abby takes a class at a farm every Friday, and yesterday we learned all about rabbits. They brought a bunny into the classroom and fed her while she hopped around the children. Abby was obsessed with bunnies for the rest of the day, so I picked up supplies to make her her own "bunny snack." Grab a copy of The Runaway Bunny (or your other favorite bunny-related book!) and set your little bunny down with some appropriate nibbles!

Bunny Snack

Annie's Bunny Grahams
Romaine rinds (or other crunchy, non-chokable bits of lettuce)

Pretending to be a bunny got Abby to try some broccoli - not usually one of her favorites. Hooray!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cocoa-Banana Cupcakes

My sister was in town and came over to see Abby and Lizzy. I wanted something to celebrate that I could serve to my child in the middle of the afternoon without feeling guilty. These are fabulous, and you will never guess that the cupcake is virtually fat-free. (The frosting is not so much fat-free, but at least it has banana in it!)

Cocoa-Banana Cupcakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 20-25 minutes (I think)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk (or soy milk, rice milk, etc.)
1/2 cup well-mashed banana (about 1 medium banana)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 banana, mashed very smooth
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp butter (or shortening)
salt (optional, to taste)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, banana, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and sugar until smooth. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, whisking until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between 12 cupcake tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean (note: I had to bake these in my toaster oven, where they took about 30 minutes. My toaster oven is slow, so I am guessing they would be less time in a real oven. I'll try to revisit this recipe when I have a real oven, but in the meantime, just keep an eye on them).

Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. Using an electric mixer, whisk the butter, banana, and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar together for several minutes, until frosting is light and fluffy. Add additional sugar as needed to achieve a suitable consistency for frosting. Add salt as desired to taste.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Comfort Food Dinner Date!

The chill of the October air has me in a never-ending mood for comfort food. I thought it best to build this association into little toddler brains.

Turkey Meatball Alphabet Soup
(serves about 6)

1 lb. ground turkey
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
3/4 c. breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 shallots, minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (or oregano/basil/etc.)
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups chicken broth or stock
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 stalks of celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3/4 c. alphabet pasta (I found organic vegetable abc pasta at Whole Foods)

For the stock:
1. In a crock pot or large stock pot add the chicken broth, chopped shallot, garlic, bay leaf, celery, carrots and Italian seasoning. If you are using a crock pot set it to high and cover. If you are doing it on the stove, set the heat to med-high and cover.

For the meatballs:
1. In a medium mixing bowl combine the turkey, cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, minced shallots and Italian seasoning by hand.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.

3. Form 1" round meatballs and put in single layer in preheated skillet. Cook meatballs, turning occasionally until cooked through. Remove from heat and add to soup.
4. Let soup simmer until vegetables are tender. Mine cooked in the crock pot for about 2-1/2 hours.

4. In a separate sauce pan prepare the ABC pasta according to the package directions.
5. Ladle out portions of the soup and add pasta to bowls individually. (If you add it to the crock pot or stock pot while the soup is cooking the pasta will turn to mush.) Serve!

Grammy Cynde's Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
(serves 2)

This sandwich pays tribute to Neko's Grammy Cynde who was the first to introduce me to the magic that is grilled cheese on cinnamon raisin bread. If you've never had this combination it probably sounds pretty weird but if you have had it you know how delicious it really is!

2 slices of cinnamon raisin bread (I actually baked homemade bread in the bread machine but am not including the recipe because it wasn't the best recipe out there. Really any cinnamon raisin bread will do.)
1/4 c. shredded muenster cheese
1/2 tsp. butter

Put cheese between two slices of bread. Butter the outside slices. Fry in small skillet over med. heat until both sides are golden brown. Serve!

Both the soup and sandwich got "Yums!" and "Mmmms" from the girls so I would definitely call this meal a winner.

And for dessert:

Individual Peach Crisps
(serves 2)

1 c. frozen peaches
1/2 c. quick cook oats
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2. Tsp. cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp. butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Divide the peaches evenly between two baking ramekins.
3. In a small bowl combine the oats, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Spoon mixture evenly between the two ramekins of peaches.
4. Bake on a cookie sheet in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
5. Top with whipped cream and serve! So fast, so easy, so delicious!!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Pears and Bananas

Mmm... Fall is the perfect time for pumpkin, and I've been craving it in many forms. Our never-ending kitchen renovation is actually starting to come together, and today our new countertop was installed. I celebrated by making Abby these pumpkin pancakes!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Pears and Bananas
Prep time: 15 minutes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cup milk

1 very ripe pear
1 banana
1 tsp maple syrup
1 dash allspice

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, egg, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto pan on stove or griddle and cook until browned on both sides.

While the pancakes are cooking, prepare the topping: dice the pear and banana together into a bowl. Drizzle on the syrup and a dash of allspice; toss well to combine.

Top your pancakes with a dollop of fruit and a bit of extra maple syrup - and serve to your delighted toddler!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dijon Salmon Casserole

This was my "reheat-and-eat" meal of the week for the girls. I love to make single-serving casseroles to have on hand for those times when what I'm having dinner is inappropriate for Abby. Abby ate this one right up! (and yes, I'm fully aware that it did not photograph pretty. It tasted better than it looked!)

Dijon Salmon Casserole
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: ?

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can salmon
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 tsp Dijon mustard
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
Grated Parmesan cheese

Divide the cooked brown rice between three 6-oz ramekins. Flake the salmon and divide it between the three ramekins. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and mustard and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Pour the sauce over the three ramekins. Chill until ready to bake and serve.

The bake time is iffy - because I currently have no oven (dratted kitchen renovation!). So, I just "cooked" the casserole in the microwave for a minute or so, which worked great! But in the oven, I would assume 350F for about 15 minutes should be fine. Top with grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Candy and Treat Alternatives

I found this article on SparkPeople today - it provides a great list of healthier "candy" and candy alternatives suitable for children. Since we can't be all-homemade all the time, it's handy to have some good things to look for when out shopping!

No Tricks! Just Healthier Halloween Treats!

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Double Pumpkin Brownies

These are tasty AND pretty! Whee! Abby adored having a chocolate treat (she takes after her mommy) - and each one is full of vitamin A!

Double Pumpkin Brownies
Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Bake time: 25-30 minutes

3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 egg whites
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 Tbsp canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350F; line an 8x8" baking pan with aluminum foil.

In one bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp of salt, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg white, 1/2 cup of pumpkin, and 2 Tbsp canola oil. Add the wet mixture to one of the bowls; stir to combine.

Then, whisk together the other egg white, 1/2 cup of pumpkin, and 2 Tbsp canola oil. Add the wet mixture to the other bowl; stir to combine.

Spread the pumpkin batter across the bottom of the pan. Carefully spoon the chocolate-pumpkin batter on top of the pumpkin batter, and gently smooth it across with a spoon, completely covering the bottom layer.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the edges are starting to crack and the center is set. I baked for 25 minutes, and the center squares were a bit on the fudgy side; I probably should have kept them in a bit longer. Let cool completely before cutting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Broccoli and Cheese Ravioli with Sweet and Spicy Marinara

Broccoli and Cheese Ravioli with Sweet and Spicy Marinara
(serves 2)

1 c. fresh broccoli, steamed and finely chopped
1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tsp. shredded parmesan cheese
12 won ton wrappers
1 egg white
1 can tomato sauce
1 c. fresh spinach, steamed and pureed in a blender or food processor
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. Italian herbs (I have a grinder that has mixed Italian herbs)
1 small shake of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small sauce pot combine the tomato sauce, spinach, syrup, garlic, spices, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the raviolis are ready to cook.
2. In a small bowl combine the broccoli and 2 cheeses

3. Arrange 6 of the won ton wrappers in a single layer on a plate. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the broccoli cheese mixture into the center of each won ton.

4. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of each won ton with egg white. Brush the edges of the remaining 6 wrappers as well. Put these on top of the won tons that have the broccoli mixture on them and use your fingertips to seal the edges.
5. In a large skillet put about 1/2 c. of the sauce. Add the raviolis and top with the rest of the sauce. Simmer for about 6 minutes over med. heat, turning the raviolis halfway through the cooking time. Remove from heat and serve!

When I was a teenager I worked at a greasy spoon diner as a cook. They made homemade spaghetti sauce for their spaghetti and meatball dinner. One of the ingredients was brown sugar. This is where I got the idea to use maple syrup. It gave the sauce a nice sweetness. As for the spicy...Despite trying to go easy on the heat I added too many red pepper flakes. I won't omit it when I make this again but I will use just a tiny, tiny bit.

Peanut Butter Cookies Stat!

Peanut Butter Cookies Stat!
(Makes 12-15 cookes...FAST!)

I found out last minute that I needed a snack to serve at playgroup. I threw these together in no time flat and they were VERY delicious!

1/2 c. natural peanut butter
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. (I use Pam for baking.)
2. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3. Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop 1" balls onto cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie just a little bit using the back of the scoop.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Honey-Cinnamon Dip

This dip adds a non-dairy punch of protein and calcium to your child's snack. It is excellent with pear and apple slices! I forgot to take a picture, but it wasn't much to look at anyway :-)

Honey-Cinnamon Dip
Prep time: 5 minutes

1 lb silken tofu
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash allspice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve with apple and pear slices.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Picnic Dinner Date!

My kitchen is currently torn to pieces as we do a complete overhaul, so Celeste was nice enough to host us even though it was my turn to cook for our dinner date! This meant that I wanted a meal that could be entirely prepared ahead of time (in my parents' kitchen!)... so I came up with foods ideal for a picnic!

Tri-Color Sandwiches with Pink Potato Salad

Tri-Color Sandwiches
Prep time: 15 minutes

1 cup baby carrots
1/4 cup shelled walnuts
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp plain yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
Pesto (store-bought or homemade)
Whole wheat bread

In a food processor, grind together the baby carrots and walnuts until finely ground together, 2-3 minutes. Scoop out the carrots and set aside. Give the processor a quick wipe down and then grind together the chickpeas, olive oil, yogurt, and salt until a smooth paste forms, 2-3 minutes.

On one slice of bread, spread a generous helping of the carrots. Carefully top with a generous layer of the chickpea puree. Spread a scant layer of pesto on another piece of bread, and sandwich together.

Pink Potato Salad
Prep time: er....

My kids were wild while I was making the potato salad so I have no idea how much time it needed to take. It took some time, but most of it was hands-off (waiting for things to boil or cool), so it wasn't bad. It should ideally be made a day ahead of time for maximum flavor.

4 red-skinned potatoes (or 2 larger potatoes), scrubbed and chopped
1 small beet, scrubbed but not peeled
1 dill pickle, diced
2 tsp brine from the dill pickles
6 oz Greek-style plain yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp white wine vinegar

In separate pots, boil the potatoes and beets until tender. Let cool. When the beet is cool, hold the beet in one paper towel and scrub off the skin with another paper towel. Dice the beet. Toss the potatoes, beets, and dill pickle together in a bowl and let cool completely.

Whisk together the brine, yogurt, salt, and white wine vinegar. Toss with the potato-beet mixture until well-mixed. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours, or ideally, overnight before serving.

Jam Squares
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil (or melted butter)
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp brown sugar
6 Tbsp jam or jelly of choice

Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8x8" baking pan with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, applesauce, oil, milk, and brown sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Stir in the jelly until combined. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for about 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the edges are golden.

* * * * *

This all went over pretty well, although the girls were a little wild and not totally in the mood to sit down and eat. The sandwiches had a great flavor - I left the carrot and chickpea mixtures a bit unsalted so that the saltiness of the pesto would not be too overpowering. The potato salad was wild - I didn't expect it to be quite so pink!! For grown-ups, I would add in capers as it needed a touch more salty flavor, but I thought the girls might object. It would be fun to serve at a princess party - it was so pink!!

The jam squares are barely a dessert - they are only very lightly sweet and definitely have a nutty whole wheat flavor. Both girls gobbled theirs down in two seconds flat, so clearly, they didn't mind not having an overly sweet dessert! I'm bringing the rest of the squares to a playgroup this morning, as they will be perfect for a light morning snack.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Carrot Couscous Muffins

Another in my parade of muffin snacks for Abby! The whole wheat couscous adds fiber to these and keeps them nice and moist, and the carrot juice gives them a great carrot cake flavor!

Carrot Couscous Muffins
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 15-20 minutes

1 cup carrot juice
1 cup whole wheat couscous (dry)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp milk (or soy milk, rice milk, etc.)
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a microwavable bowl, combine carrot juice and couscous; microwave for 4-5 minutes, until juice is absorbed and couscous is tender. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, applesauce, and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Stir in the cooled couscous. Stir in the raisins. Divide between 12 muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the centers are set and the edges are golden.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Blueberry-Swirl Gingerbread

When I last made gingerbread, I found I kept slathering it with massive amounts of blueberry jelly. So when I got a hankering to make more gingerbread to have in the house, I decided to cut out that extra step and add the blueberry jelly right in. Abby and I were not disappointed! yum!

Blueberry-Swirl Gingerbread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 25-30 minutes

Vegan Blueberry-Swirl Gingerbread

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp applesauce
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup soy milk (or cow's milk, rice milk, etc.)
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/3-1/2 cup blueberry jelly

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the canola oil, applesauce, molasses, milk, cider vinegar and vanilla extract until well-combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined. Immediately spread the batter in an 8x8" baking dish. Place 9 dollops of blueberry jelly evenly spaced on top of the batter; drag a knife through the jelly and batter, back and forth and side to side, to swirl the jelly throughout. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Breakfast for Dinner - Dinner Date!

Thank goodness for Wednesdays! Both Neko and I are really getting used to and looking forward to our weekly dinner with Abby and Lizzy and their Mommy! Its so nice for the girls to have some one on one play time and even more nice for the Mommies to enjoy a nice glass of wine and some good conversation (even if it has to be shouted over toddlers banging on toy metal pots with rubber spatula handles).
Tonight's meal was such a winner. (Not to toot my own horn or anything.) I hope you will make it for your family soon. You won't be disappointed. Again, I would never make such a claim if it wasn't true. ;o)

Potato Skin Waffles
yup, you heard me right
(serves 4-6)

1c. whole wheat flour
3/4c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4c. canola oil
2 eggs
2c. milk
4 strips thick cut bacon, fried to crispy and chopped
1 med. russet potato, washed, peeled and shredded
1/2c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2c. sour cream
1/2 c. applesauce

1. Preheat waffle iron
2. Combine flours, salt and baking soda in a med. mixing bowl
3.. In a separate bowl combine oil and eggs
4. Stir oil and egg mixture into dry ingredients (batter will be lumpy)
5. Add milk to mixture and whisk until most of the lumps are gone
6. Stir in bacon, shredded potato and cheese
7. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. (I used Pam Olive Oil.)
8. Spoon about 1/2c. of batter onto hot waffle iron. Waffle is done when waffle iron almost stops steaming.
9. Make sure to re-spray the waffle iron between waffles. Continue until you are out of batter. Serve with sour cream and applesauce on the side for dipping!

Oh heaven! These were so yummy...I could they not be?! You really can't go wrong putting bacon, potato and cheese in just about anything. There were leftover waffles and after wolfing down a chunk of the stack my husband asked me to throw them in the trash and "please, throw something gross on top of them so I'm not tempted to fish them out." Haha! I'll take that as "compliments to the chef!" The sour cream and applesauce on the side were perfect dipping sides but these would actually be really good with maple syrup as well. Think of it as a (sort of) healthier version of the McGriddle. Sort of.

Banana Smoothies
(serves 2-4)

1 banana
1/2c. pineapple tidbits, frozen
2/3c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. milk
1 single serve container vanilla yogurt
2 ice cubes

1. Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Serve!

This was such a yummy pairing with the waffles but would be a great breakfast or snack on its own. Creamy, sweet and delicious! Both girls were silent at the table until those smoothies were gone. Always a good sign!

Mini Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish
(serves 6)

1c. frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp. REAL maple syrup (I don't believe in anything else!)
4 sheets phyllo dough
6 tsp. cream cheese
Pam for baking
1/2c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. Combine blueberries and maple syrup in a microwave safe bowl. Cook for 1 minute on high.
2. Lay out a sheet of the phyllo and spray with Pam. Lay another sheet on top of the first. Spray. Repeat until all sheets are stacked.
4. Cut the phyllo stack into 6 equal sized squares.
5. Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of the blueberry mixture in the center of each square.
6. Spoon a tsp. of cream cheese in the center of each square.
7. Roll each square like a burrito (tucking in the sides).
8. Arrange on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with Pam. Spray the tops with a little more.
9. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until light brown and crispy.
10. In a small bowl combine the sugar and lemon juice to make a thin glaze. Drizzle a little of the glaze over each "danish". Serve!

Yum. Yum. Yum and oh so easy!

Chocolate-Banana "Ice Cream"

Abby LOVES ice cream - and so do I! This is a guilt-free, dairy-free way for us to indulge our cravings. If Abby noticed that this was not "real" ice cream, she certainly didn't let on! Don't worry if you don't have an ice cream maker - I tried this both ways, and it will work fine without an ice cream maker. It will just be harder when you get it out of the freezer, but a quick zap in the microwave will get you back to ice cream consistency!

Chocolate-Banana "Ice Cream"
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus time to freeze

2 large ripe bananas, cut into 1-inch chunks and frozen ahead of time
1 cup silken tofu
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender; blend, scraping sides occasionally, until the mixture is completely smooth, about 5 minutes. Add more sweetener as needed, to taste (agave nectar is pretty sweet, so it didn't take much). If you have an ice cream maker, you can transfer the mixture to the freezing bowl at this point and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Otherwise, pour the mixture into a bowl and freeze in the freezer for several hours.

This was really good, and Abby snarfed it right down. It's hard to completely kill the taste of the tofu, but this tasted really rich and yummy, so you're likely not to care!