Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Big's Soup

Last weekend I took Little to run some errands while Big stayed with her auntie.  Before I left, she asked if she could "play cooking" in our condo which usually means pulling out dishes and pretending to cook.  So, I said "sure."  When I got back, I was greeted with a delicious cinnamony smell . . . almost like a candle or hot cider.  It turned out, it was Big's soup that she made from some food items I left on the counter and a couple that she found in the pantry.  My sister has a video but I'm having some technical difficulties on my end with it - I'll add it to this post if I can get it figured out.  We weren't sure it would be edible but we all had a bite and it was pretty good and it tasted like a breakfast dish.

I've been worrying about whether I'll be able to keep up with the blog when the new baby comes, but with ideas like this, I might just delegate.  Welcome my guest blogger for the day, Big.

I made cinnamon soup from some stuff.  It's easy and delicious.  My mom helped me figure out what measurements I used so here is what you need:

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
4 baby carrots, chopped
6 saltine crackers, crushed
3 tablespoon peanut butter
2 cups water

You basically mix everything together in a big pot.  Crush up the crackers with your hands.  The brown sugar makes it taste good if you want to put extra.  I don't remember how many minutes it cooked for.  It's not gluten free because there is wheat in the crackers but I didn't know that at first.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Meyer Lemon Cardamom Crinkles

The dough
Monday was a holiday for me and Big and we did some fun things around the house - organized some shelves in preparation for baby sister, 2 trips to Target, went out for lunch with Daddy, finger-painted, and made cookies.  I was looking around Pinterest for Meyer Lemon recipes after the girls picked some beauties from our potted tree in the backyard and this one caught my eye.

They were great - not overly sweet, distinct cardamom flavor, and cakey texture.  We made a decent mess baking them although the recipe isn't very complicated.  I used this cool microplane zester thing that I got for Christmas (4 Meyer lemons is a lot of zest!).  The dough was pretty sticky for forming balls and rolling in the powdered sugar and maybe a little time in the refrigerator would help that (or dipping your hands in water keeps the dough from sticking too bad).

The cookies
Meyer Lemon Cardamom Crinkles (makes 2 dozen)
from Cooking Channel TV via Pinterest

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 4 Meyer lemons
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cardamom, baking powder, sea salt, and lemon zest.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter for about a minute.  Add the granulated sugar and cream for 2 minutes more.  Add the eggs, one at at time, and the vanilla extract.  Carefully mix in the flour mixture, just until combined.  Don't over mix.

Sift the powdered sugar into a shallow bowl.  Roll the dough into balls (about 1 tablespoon each) and roll in powdered sugar before placing on a cookie sheet (leave about 2 in between the dough balls).  Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until the tops are cracked and puffed up.  They won't really get brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Five and a half and Two and a half

One year ago
My shadows . . . the best of friends
Sometimes I wish I could fast forward to when my kids are sleeping better, not having potty training accidents, old enough for some adventure that I've heard about, or just a little bit into the future like tonight at 9pm when they're sound asleep.  Then, other times I wish I could pause time or rewind just a little bit so that they won't grow up and stay my little girls for longer.  Some days I look at them and can't believe how much they change and grow (literally and as the people they're becoming) right under my nose when I'm busy doing dishes, wiping noses, reading, driving, and all those other daily mommy tasks.  Thinking about how our family dynamics will change in less than 2 months when baby sister #3 makes her appearance also adds to the nostalgia I've been feeling.

The girls aren't quite 5.5 and 2.5, but getting close to those milestones and I wanted to write down some of the their favorite things to help me remember what they were like at this stage.  I've been telling Big how she "used to be" lately, especially when she gets frustrated with Little.  The other day she said (in a very superior, big sister voice) "How come she wants to pretend to be someone first thing in the morning?"  I laughed out loud and told her that's exactly what she did . . . for years!

Little (soon to be known as Middle)
  • Favorite thing to pretend:  "The Punzel" or kitty cats
  • Favorite thing to eat:  fruit snacks or bacon
  • Favorite color:  green
  • Favorite playmate:  her big sister
  • Favorite story to tell strangers:  How she has dreams about Darth Maul from Star Wars
  • Favorite thing to do in the car:  Listen to her Muppets Movie soundtrack (over and over and over)
  • Favorite part of a movie:  When the pumpkin changes into the coach in Cinderella
  • Favorite thing to wear:  Her Twinkerbell nightgown.  
  • Favorite place to go:  My Gym or the kids' moooseum (Children's Museum of the Desert in Rancho Mirage)
  • Favorite ride at Disneyland:  Midway Mania or the carousel
  • What she wants to be when she grows up:  a bird
  • When I can't find her, she's mostly likely:  making a huge mess with windex or make up or pens
  • Proudest recent accomplishment:  wearing panties and getting to be with the "big kids" at Kids Court
  • Last thing I cooked that she liked:  grilled salmon.  Well, okay, Daddy made that so probably pancakes

  • Favorite thing to pretend:  Star Wars or Wild Kratts
  • Favorite thing to eat:  turkey sandwiches or candy
  • Favorite color:  yellow 
  • Favorite playmate:  her little sister
  • Favorite story to tell strangers:  That her mom is pregnant, she's the oldest sister and what we're thinking of naming the baby
  • Favorite thing to do in the car:  Talk to mom & sister or listen to "Sirius XM 78 Kids Place Live"
  • Favorite part of a movie:  When Daddy Warbucks decides that Annie can stay for the week
  • Favorite thing to wear:  Her yellow locket and her Star Wars t-shirt
  • Favorite place to go:  Disneyland and Pretend City
  • Favorite ride at Disneyland:  Star Tours
  • What she wants to be when she grows up:  a dolphin trainer
  • When I can't find her, she's most likely:  in the backyard playing with her bow and arrow or worms
  • Proudest recent accomplishment:  golfing with Daddy
  • Last thing I cooked that she liked:  Pillsbury cinnamon rolls from a tube 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zucchini Lasagna

I've been looking at different recipes for lasagna that uses zucchini in place of noodles for awhile and finally got a chance to make a pan.  It turned out great - even my husband and dad who aren't always super into the gf adaptations of recipes really liked it.  You don't miss the noodles and although you could leave out the sausage for a vegetarian version, I thought it added a lot of flavor.

The key is slicing the zucchini really thin - I used a mandolin to slice mine and it worked well.  The slices of lasagna were a little juicy because of the liquid from the zucchini.  The roasting step was supposed to help with that but I've since read that lightly salting your (raw) zucchini slices and letting them sit for ten minutes or so and then blotting the moisture with a paper towel would do the trick (before roasting).  If you don't want to roast the zucchini and have a grill pan, you could also grill the zucchini about 1-2 minutes per side.

Zucchini Lasagna (serves 8)
adapted from Skinny Taste

4 cups of good quality marinara (I used one from Trader Joes that I like)
1 pound of Italian sausage, browned, crumbled and drained (I used a chicken sausage)
3-4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 1/8 in. thick)
15 oz ricotta cheese
16 oz shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 large egg

Add the cooked sausage to the marinara and heat over medium until simmering.  Cook 5-10 minutes or until the sauce is pretty thick.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray two baking sheets with olive oil spray and spread the zucchini in the pans in a single layer.  Roast until lightly brown, about 10-15 minutes (keep an eye so they don't burn since they're really thin).

Meanwhile, mix together the ricotta cheese, the parmesan cheese and the egg.

In a 9x13 pan, spread some sauce on the bottom to cover the pan.  Top with a single layer of zucchini.  Spread the zucchini with some of the ricotta mixture, top with mozzarella, and then the sauce.  Repeat until all your ingredients are used up.  The top layer should be sauce and mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.  Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Let it stand out of the oven for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Starters and Endings

Today, a great appetizer and yummy cookie recipe that we enjoyed over the Christmas holiday.  I think I've written before about how I'm appetizer-challenged . . . I feel like I rarely have a good idea and when I put a lot of time into an appetizer when I'm entertaining, the rest of the meal suffers.  Typically, I do a cheese plate with crackers or veggies and some sort of dip.  But, this holiday season I got to bring appetizers to a few different gatherings where I wasn't responsible for the rest of the meal.  So, here is one of the easiest and yummiest appetizers I've made for awhile:

Tortellini Skewers
Prepare a package of cheese tortellini according to the directions, drain and set aside.  
Cut some cherry tomatoes in half and some mozzarella into bite sized chunks.  
On small skewers, thread a tomato half, a piece of mozzarella, a tortellini and another tomato half.  
Put the skewers in a large, shallow pan and drizzle with a red wine or balsamic vinaigrette (I bought a red wine vinaigrette from Trader Joe's).  
Refrigerate for an hour or two.  
Remove the skewers from the vinaigrette and put on a serving platter.   

I also wanted to  post about some delicious GF cookies I made for Christmas.  Alas, there is no photo of the cookie but they turned out great.  I wasn't sure of the recipe . . . with no butter it's also a good dairy free option but I wasn't sure how they were going to hold together.  The egg whites did the trick and gave the cookies a glossy appearance.  This recipe was perfect for Christmas baking - One bowl, no melting or whipping or extra steps.

Flourless Chocolate Coconut Cookies (makes 2 dozen)
from Everyday Food 12/12

3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3/4 cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup roughly chopped toasted almonds
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
4 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in the middle and lower third of the oven.  In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Stir in the chocolate chips, almonds and coconut.  Add egg whites and stir until combined (do not over mix).

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets.  Bake until tops are dry and cracked, 15-18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Let coo completely on cookie sheets (place the whole sheet on a wire rack).

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year!

On New Year's Eve, we hosted a brunch with some friends.  It was a lot of fun and maybe the start of a tradition.  With little kids, it's hard to make New Year's Eve evening (up 'til midnight) plans and I loved starting New Year's Eve with a little party.  We had mimosas, coffee, pastries, an egg casserole, fruit salad, and waffles.  The most amazing part of the brunch (in my opinion) was the egg nog syrup I made for the waffles.  I was showing my husband a recipe for egg nog pancakes and he told me that even better than egg nog in the batter would be an egg nog syrup or topping.  Ask and you shall receive!  The recipe was so easy and delicious - we've been eating the leftovers on vanilla ice cream.  I'm not a huge egg nog fan (I especially don't like to drink it straight) but trust me - this was good stuff!

Have you made any food-related New Year's Resolutions?  I reviewed my resolutions from last year and didn't do too bad.  One was to feed my kids less take out or fast food and I think we definitely decreased our drive thru trips over the year.  I'm hesitant to make any big sweeping resolutions this year because adding a 3rd kid to the mix is going to be a big enough change for our family!  Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2013.

Brunch Casserole (serves 6)

8 oz tube of Pillsbury Crescent rolls
1 cup of cooked bacon or cooked, crumbled sausage
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 T - 1/4 cup chopped green chiles
1.5 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Saute the onion and bell pepper in a little olive oil until soft.  Set aside.  Line the bottom of a greased 8x11 pan with the pillsbury crescent dough.  Firmly press the perforations to seal.  Sprinkle with bacon or sausage, onion & bell pepper mixture, chiles, and cheese.  

Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Pour into the pan.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the eggs are set.  Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into squares.  Serve hot.  

Egg Nog Syrup (makes about 1.5 cups)
Original recipe here

1 stick butter
3/4 cup egg nog (full fat, commercially prepared works best)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda

In a large pan (make sure it's large - the syrup will grow when you add the vanilla and soda), place the butter, egg nog, and sugar.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and soda (it will foam up).  Serve over hot pancakes or waffles.  Leftovers will keep, refrigerated, for a few weeks.