Saturday, February 28, 2009

Beth's Bodacious Apple Nut Muffins

We're big fans of muffins around here, and I'm always on the hunt for new ideas or recipes. When C. Beth posted these on her fabulous mommy blog, C. Beth Blog, last month, I knew I'd have to give them a whirl!

They are chock full of apple, and a great way to put a dent in the box of milled flax seed that has been hanging around in my fridge - and best of all, Abby loved them. I left out the pecans so that I could mindlessly feed crumbs of them to Lizzy without worrying that I'd accidentally feed my 8-month-old a nut. Go try Beth's Bodacious Apple Nut Muffins!

Want more? Satisfy your various muffin cravings, both sweet and savory:

Stuffing Muffins

Election Day Muffins (cranberry and blueberry)
Carrot Couscous Muffins
Orange Muffins
Corn Dog Muffins
Sweet Potato and Millet Muffins
Bacon, Corn, and Tomato Muffins
Cheesy Spinach and Egg Muffins

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Couch Potato Pizza

Couch Potato Pizza(makes 3 small pizzas)

At the last dinner date at Kara's she made an amazing pizza crust that I've been dying to try on my own. I finally gave it a shot with this concoction.

In the earlier stages of our relationship my husband (then boyfriend) and we lived in a tiny apartment in Boston. Down the street was a pizza place that made this amazing pizza that we couldn't keep ourselves away from. It was topped with mashed potatoes, bacon and cheddar cheese. Using Kara's great crust, I made a healthier version of this blast from my past. It was truly delicious! You shouldn't have a hard time convincing a toddler to eat this one. I sure didn't.

Kara's Crust
2 c mashed potatoes
1/2 can (about 2/3 c.) cannellini beans
6 strips of turkey bacon
1 c. shredded mild cheddar cheese
handful of fresh baby spinach (optional)

1. Prepare crust according to Kara's recipe.
2. I recommend making mashed potatoes how you like them since everyone likes them their own way (I did butter, garlic, etc). However, during your 'mashing', throw in the beans and mash those up with the potatoes. I thought this would be an easy way to throw in a little undetected protein. In my case they didn't affect the taste one bit.
3. While your potatoes are cooking fry up the bacon until just under crispy. (They will finish crisping in the oven,) Cut into small pieces.
4. Assemble the pizzas. I decided to sneak in a layer of spinach under the potatoes. Ultimately this was fine but I will say it was hard to spread the potatoes over the spinach which kept sticking to the potatoes and sliding around. If you don't do spinach: spread on the potatoes, top with the bacon chunks and finally top with some cheese.
5. Bake on a cookie sheet in a preheated oven (450 degrees) for about 15 minutes (or until the cheese is melty.) Cut and serve!

Rice Crackers (using baby cereals!)

Lizzy, my younger daughter, hates to be spoon-fed. She has right from the beginning. And so, while I had bought boxes and boxes of rice cereal and multigrain cereal and oatmeal for her, she wants nothing to do with it.

I wanted to find a way to start using up all this baby cereal, and I came across this recipe for Rice Crackers at Toddler Cafe. The recipe calls for a Cream of Rice-type cereal; would baby rice cereals work, too?

They did! Fabulously! The crackers are a little too chewy for my baby, but Abby had a bowlful as a snack. We went with a Parmesan cheese topping, and I used a pizza cutter to just cut the dough into squares. The crackers had a slightly sweet taste, and reminded me of Wheat Thins.

So, if you have boxes of baby cereal to use up, or just want to try out a new cracker recipe, go check out The Toddler Cafe's recipe for Rice Crackers!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Need Meatless Ideas?

Today is Ash Wednesday, and for some of us, that means meatless Fridays until Easter. Technically, at least for Catholics, kids under 14 don't need to go without meat on Fridays - but why should my kids have all the fun? ;-) Here are some ideas to get you rolling through to Easter...

Fish Nuggets

Tofu Skewers with Peanut Sauce
Mushroom-Egg Pirozhki
Pasta with Salmon and Peas
Broccoli and Cheese Ravioli
Cannellini Mac and Cheese
Zucchini Nuggets
Pasta with Mulligatawny Sauce
Cheese, Egg, and Caramelized Onions Quesadillas

Or, of course, just browse through our vegetarian, vegan, or fish recipes!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sloppy Joe Pie

I don't know why I'm always trying to turn things into pie but I seem to attempt it alot. This was a great attempt if I do say so myself. It is basically a turkey sloppy joe mixture with a whole wheat biscuit on top.

Sloppy Joe Pie

(makes 6 servings)

Turkey Sloppy Joes
1 pound ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. ketchup
1/2 c. BBQ sauce (Check your labels because a lot of BBQ sauce is mostly HFCS. I found something in the natural foods section.)
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar or turbanino sugar
3 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large saute pan brown ground turkey over medium heat with the onions and garlic.
2. When meat is browned add the ketchup, BBQ sauce, sugar, vinegar, mustard and pepper.
3. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes over med heat.

While sloppy joes are simmering move on to biscuit makin' -

Whole Wheat Biscuits
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/4 c. whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. honey
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 c. milk
1 Tbsp. butter, melted (optional to brush on top)

1. In a medium bowl combine all of the dry ingredients.

2. Cut in the butter with a pastry knife until coarse crumbs form.

3. Stir in milk and honey until JUST moistened. (You will still see chunks of butter which I think you can see in my picture below).

4. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 seconds.

5. Roll to 3/4" thick.

6. If you are just making biscuits: use a biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits. Bake in a 45o degree oven until lightly browned (about 10-12 minutes). Brush tops with melted butter. Serve!

7. If you are using in Sloppy Joe Pie: Using the dish you will be baking your pie in cut out your biscuit shape. I used individual pyrex ramekins.

8. Fill ramekins half full with sloppy joe mixture.
Top with biscuit and bake in 450 degree oven until biscuit is lightly browned (about 10-12 minutes). Remove from oven, brush tops with melted butter (optional) and serve!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Honey Whole Wheat Crackers with Roasted Carrot Spread

Whole Wheat Crackers with Roasted Carrot Spread

Whole Wheat Crackers

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp wheat germ
1 Tbsp corn meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. honey
2 Tbsp. chilled butter
1/4 c. water
kosher salt

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a food processor until combined.
2. Add the water and pulse until a dough ball forms.
3. Roll out the dough between two sheets of wax paper until dough is about 1/4" thick.
4. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out to desired cracker thickness. Mine were about the thickness of the Kashi TLC crackers.
7. Sprinkle the dough with kosher salt and a little cumin.
8. Using a pizza cutter, cut out strips about 1-1/2" wide and then cut strips into individual crackers. Re-roll excess dough and cut into more crackers.
9. Prick each cracker a couple times with a fork.
10. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.
11. Bake about 20 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
12. Store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container. Enjoy!

Roasted Carrot Spread

2 large carrots, peeled
2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. cumin

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Sprinkle the carrots with a little salt and wrap them up in foil. Bake for about 30 minutes or until soft.
3. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to food processor along with remaining ingredients. Process until mixture is a smooth, spreadable consistency. Serve with crackers. Yum, yum, yum!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Host Your Own Dinner Date!

Celeste and I have been doing dinner dates for almost 6 months now, and it is amazing to look back and see some of the things we've gotten Neko and Abby to try. More importantly, the girls have had fun breaking bread together every Wednesday night - and Celeste and I have had fun sharing a glass (or two...) of wine and some adult conversation! So clearly, we are big fans of the dinner date playdate.

And we think you should try it!

Invite a friend with kids over for dinner, whip something up, and blog about it! Share the recipe, share some pictures - and then share it with us. Let us know about your dinner date blog entry (and link to us in your entry :-), and we'll link to it from here. We'd love to see what other kids are trying!

Questions? Email us at:

kara at ittybittybistro dot com
celeste at ittybittybistro dot com

Now go plan a menu!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Make Your Own Darned Dinner" Dinner Date

Don't you just daydream about saying that some (or, most) days? Last night, we made Neko and Abby responsible for making their own dinner! (you know... within reason!) The girls had a blast constructing pizza and painting cookie masterpieces.

Super Easy Pizza Dough
(seriously - it's super easy)
Makes four 6-inch pizza crusts

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 envelope rapid-rise yeast (or 1/4 oz)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup cold water

Pulse the flours, cornmeal, salt, and yeast together in a food processor. With the processor running, add the olive oil and then water in a steady stream. Process until dough just comes together in a ball.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times, until it is smooth and elastic. Place it in a resealable bag. Let rise until about doubled - either about 2 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Cover them with a clean towel and let rise until puffy, about 20 minutes.

Stretch the dough balls into 6-inch pizza crusts. Top as desired (set out bowls of toppings for the kids and let them have at it!) and bake at 450F for about 10 minutes.

Cookie Paintings
(can you guess which one Celeste painted and which ones the girls did?)

2/3 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites (save the yolks for your "paint")
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
separated eggs and food dye for paints

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in egg whites and vanilla extract. Stir in baking powder, salt, and flour until combined. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until a smooth ball forms. Divide dough into four balls and shape each into a disk. Cover the disks with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until firm (at least an hour, or overnight).

Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll out the dough and cut out squares (your "canvasses"!), re-rolling the scraps as needed.

Separate eggs into ramekins, using one yolk (or white) for each color. Whisk each yolk (or white) with 1 Tbsp of water and desired dye until a smooth, watery paint forms. Using clean (let me stress CLEAN) paintbrushes, let your kids use the paints to decorate each cookie.

Transfer painted cookies to greased cookie sheets. Our cookies were about 4"x6" and baked for about 9 minutes, but watch them carefully (baking time will vary by the size of your cookies).

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cookie Pizza

This was a project born out of complete boredom and a sick kid on my hands. It turned out fun, cute, and tasty! I wish I had planned ahead to have made some cute "toppings", like fruit roll-up pepperoni or something, but our plain cheese pizza sprinkled with parsley looked just fine!

Cookie Pizza

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
icing, food coloring, "toppings"

Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.

Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides as needed, until smooth. Add in the flour mixture and beat until a dough forms.

Turn the dough into the springform pan and press it into an even layer on the bottom of the pan (wetting your hands will help you do this without all the dough sticking to you!). Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Decorate with icing died red and yellow to look like sauce and cheese, and add toppings!

(I used a royal icing, but a buttercream would be yummy, too. Or buy frosting in a can and dye it. Decorating is the fun part, so have your kids help!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Savory Rice Pudding

(I just realized I forgot to download my pictures. That will come later!)

I was in a rice pudding kind of mood yesterday, but I needed to bring a reheatable dinner over to Neko's house. I thought a savory rice pudding would fit the bill! About halfway through, I realized maybe it was basically like a cheater's risotto - similar end result, but with a lot less picky stirring. I like less picky stirring!

Savory Rice Pudding

olive oil
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 carrot, diced small
1 potato, diced small (I used a Maine potato, which are not nearly as big as an Idaho or russet - so maybe half a potato if you are using a bigger variety)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
Parmesan to taste

In a medium size pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrot, potato, onion, and a dash of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots begin to soften - about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, egg, and milk. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover the pot; simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the mixture is thickened. Stir in mozzarella and a few tablespoonfuls of Parmesan cheese.

The potatoes will soften up and mash in with the rice, adding to the creaminess of this "pudding." Great as a side dish or a main!

Spanish Dinner Date!

My husband brought me home a Spanish cookbook from one of his trips to the library for Itty Bitty inspiration. There were lots of delicious ideas to choose from. I used the book loosely to come up with toddler friendly versions of things.

Solomillo de Cerdo Adobado (Honey and Orange Pork) with Lombarda Rehogada (Sauteed Red Cabbage)

Solomillo de Cerdo Adobado

2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-1/2 c. orange juice (I used fresh squeezed)
1 Tbsp. orange zest
2 Tbsp. honey
1 stalk of rosemary, stem removed
2-3 5oz. pork loin chops

1. Combine the garlic, juice, zest, honey and rosemary to make a marinade.
2. Put pork in a shallow dish and cover with the marinade. Marinade in the fridge for 7 hours turning over once an hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Put the pork in a foil lined baking sheet and pour the marinade over the top.
5. Bake for 50 minutes, occasionally basting with the marinade.
6. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
7. While the pork is resting, reduce the marinade over med. heat on top of the stove.
8. Slice the pork and spoon marinade over the top. Serve!

Lombarda Rehogada

1/4 head red cabbage, chopped
1 green apple, peeled, cored and sliced into chunks
1 Tbsp. butter

1. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage and boil for 3 minutes. Drain.
2. In a medium saute pan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples and saute until they begin to brown.
3. Add the cabbage and saute for 3 minutes more. Serve!

(Note: The original version of this recipe also had garlic and toasted pine nuts. My husband and I had it this way for dinner and it was fabulous!)

Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)

2 c. medium grain brown rice, cooked and cooled (I made mine in the morning, threw it in the fridge and took it out when I was ready to make the rice pudding)
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 - 1/4c. milk
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 agave nectar (or sugar)
1 tsp. lemon zest

1. In a medium saucepan combine all the ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes stirring frequently.
2. Pour into a bowl and cover with saran wrap.
3. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
4. When ready to serve, divide into smaller serving bowls and sprinkle each serving with cinnamon. Serve!

I cannot stress how easy and delicious this was! Yuuuuuum!