Category Archives: Kid friendly foods

Blueberry Crumble Bars

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Blueberry Crumble Bars

I’m still on my blueberry kick.  I already made some scones so I decided to try some crumble bars.  I wanted them to have a nice crust on the bottom, sort of like a lemon bar but have the moisture of a coffee cake and the crunch of a streusel topping all rolled into one.  There are a huge variety of crumb bar recipes out there.  I decided to combine some of the things I liked about a few of the old stand by recipes I had for cherry crumb bars and lemon bars to come up with this one.  It turned out very nicely.  I didn’t even have to add nuts to the top to give it the satisfying “crumb” texture, the blueberries kept their integrity without turning into a gooey sauce and the bottom crust was fantastic, holding it all together.  This thing can be eaten as a bar, but I’m telling you it’s unparalleled with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream on top! (Or at least that’s what everyone else who ate them up told me.  Only 4 more days to go on this cleanse…)

Blend in the cold butter to the flour mixture with a pastry blender

Press half of the dough into a 9 x 13 pan

While the crust is baking prepare the blueberries

Spread the blueberries evenly over the crust

Sprinkle the remainder of the crust mixture along with the rolled oats on top

Serve warm with ice cream or cool and cut into bars

Blueberry Crumble Bars

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

zest of one lemon

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (save to add to the mixture later)

Fruit Preparation:

4 cups fresh blueberries

juice of one lemon

3 tbsp corn starch

1/2 cup sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375°F.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray.  In a bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.  Using a pastry blender cut in the butter with the flour mixture until a crumbly mixture forms.  Whisk egg and vanilla together and pour into the flour mixture and blend well.  Mixture will be crumbly.  Press half of the flour mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9 x 13 pan and bake for about 18 minutes.

In the meantime, add the rolled oats to the remaining flour mixture and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix the blueberries with lemon juice, corn starch and sugar, taking care not to smash any of the berries.  Take the crust out of the oven, it should be a light brown color, spread the blueberry mixture evenly on top and sprinkle the flour/oat mixture on top of the blueberries.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 40 minutes until golden brown on top and berries are nice and bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cool completely and cut into bars.

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I have a sweet tooth.  There’s no getting around it.  I taught myself to bake mostly because I wanted to eat amazing cakes, cookies, tarts, pies…. There is an amazing thing that happens to me when I bake though.  I don’t usually have to eat very much of what I make.  The process of baking and creating something from scratch and the delicious smells that comes out of the oven are usually enough to satisfy me.  I can get by with a little bite or two.  But if someone else made the same dish, I fall upon it like a starving Hyena.  I have no idea why.  Right now, I’m doing a Master Cleanse.  If you’ve never heard of it, go check it out on this site.  Basically I’m drinking a lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction for 16 days…NO FOOD.  I figure that at least once in my life I should do some heavy duty cleaning from the inside out. Anyway, I still have been baking, cooking, working normally.  I won’t lie, sometimes it’s been really hard not to eat, especially when it smells so great.  The hardest thing though has been trying to figure out if textures and tastes turned out okay on recipes that I’m putting together.  Like these cookies for instance.  I know in my brain that the combinations of ingredients should turn out great.  I haven’t tasted any though, so I’ve been taking them around to co-workers and family to find out the verdict.  I wanted something that was slightly crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside.  The sourness of the cherries to be balanced out by the sweetness of the chocolate chips.  I’m told that I’ve succeeded.  So, now you’ve got to try it out and see for yourself.

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla together

Stir in dried cherries, oats and mini chocolate chips by hand

Bake 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispy

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Cover a cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.  In a separate bowl cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and creamy.  Slowly add in the flour mixture until well incorporated.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon stir in oats, cherries and chocolate chips.  Using a scoop drop cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for about 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispier cookies.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool.  Makes about 36-40 cookies.

Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Leftover bananas can sneak up on you.  It seems like one day they are firm, yellow and delightful and the next day they are dark brown and overripe.  Thankfully bananas are very versatile.  They are fantastic for baking, making smoothies and drinks and even in savory dishes.  I enjoy making banana bread with my overripe bananas and have posted my favorite version here. This time I wanted to make some muffins that were healthy AND delicious with some chocolate thrown in to make it special.  I used mini chocolate chips because 1/2 cup goes a long way and feels like there is a lot more than there is!  They turned out moist, flavorful and delicious.  This recipe makes one batch of 12 muffins.  If you get up early, you can throw the ingredients together stick it in the oven and go for a 22 minute run and come back to incredible warm muffins for breakfast.  It’ll improve your performance (guaranteed) when you know such deliciousness is waiting for you!

Mix bananas with melted butter, yogurt, egg and milk until well blended

Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and blend until just mixed (do not over mix)

Scoop into muffin pans and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Let cool and enjoy!

Moist, flavorful and delicious!

Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used Atta, or Indian WW flour)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp salt

2 large bananas, mashed

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

1/4 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup non fat greek  yogurt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl mix the flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, baking soda, egg, melted butter, milk and yogurt until well incorporated. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended (don’t over mix).  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners and using an ice cream scooper fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake the muffins for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer the muffins to rack to cool for 15 minutes.

Great Leftover Challenge #2 Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

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Great Leftover Challenge #2  Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

I hate things going to waste.  I also hate opening up the fridge and seeing small containers of mismatched leftovers.  It’s annoying.  A few days ago I made Spinach Artichoke dip for people hanging around the house.  It was a huge hit but I had about a cup of it leftover.  I also made some quick rise rolls in my cast iron skillet (I’ve loved making these fast rolls) but since the skillet only holds twelve rolls, I have dough left over.  I also had ONE piece of grilled chicken left over.  It was time to clean out all this stuff and make one dish.  I am also a big fan of Danny’s Kitchen, a great blog.  A few months ago Danny started a contest called The Great Leftover Challenge.  I participated in that first challenge and had a lot of fun.  Danny has thrown down the gauntlet again for The Great Leftover Challenge #2.  So….since I’m throwing stuff together anyway, I thought I’d enter the challenge.  Judging by how quickly the pizza got eaten, I’d say it was a hit.

I did pre-heat my oven to 500 degrees with my pizza stone in it.  This made the surface really hot and I think helped the crust develop really nicely.  I have other great recipes for pizza crust but this “leftover” dough made a pretty darn good showing!

Lay dough on preheated stone and spread spinach artichoke dip on top

Add grilled chicken, pepperoni and cheeses

Bake for 8-10 minutes and serve

Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

Quick Rise Rolls (half recipe)

Any leftover grilled or pre-cooked chicken

1 cup Spinach Artichoke Dip (I’ll post the recipe for this soon)

1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese

1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Pepperoni

Preheat oven to 500°F with Pizza Stone in it (or if you’re using a metal pan, heat that as well).  Roll out the dough and carefully lay it on the preheated pizza stone.  Spread spinach artichoke dip evenly over the dough.  Sprinkle the chicken and pepperoni and finish off with cheese on top.  Place back in oven and turn heat down to 450°F.  Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.

Cast Iron Skillet Quick Rise Rolls

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Cast Iron Skillet Quick Rise Rolls

I am the Thrift Store Queen. I love the stuff you can find, from clothes, to shoes, cookware, furniture and the variety of strange and amazing things.  Another man’s trash really can be your treasure.  Part of the reason for my fascination with Thrift Stores is to show others that you can dress stylishly, find amazing deals and feel no shame in the fact that you’re using previously owned things.  I  work with newly arrived refugees.  Most families when they arrive have very little in terms of material possessions.  Not only does an entire apartment have to be furnished but often clothes (especially here in Salt Lake we need clothes for four DISTINCT seasons) are desperately needed.  Thrift Stores are a must when buying entire wardrobes for a family all at once and picking up kitchen tools and small furniture items.  I like looking at my clients in the eyes and telling them that everything they see me wearing is from the Thrift Store and that we need to begin a new adventure by having a shopping fashion show.  Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun.  A few weeks ago, while taking a family of four from Burma through the Thrift Store, I came upon two cast iron skillets.  They were $4 each.  I was almost hyperventilating with joy.  I bought both.  One for the Burmese family and one for me.

The Burmese family love their new skillet.  I love mine as well.  I’ve already cooked with it on the grill outside, used it to press down on paneer as a heavy weight and made a pineapple upside down cake in it.  It’s time to make rolls.  This was my first attempt at making rolls in the cast iron skillet.  I loved how evenly they cooked and how long they stayed warm.  The roll recipe is QUICK.  There is extra yeast added to make it rise in 20 minutes so while you’re getting other things ready for dinner, you can put these rolls together.  They were just the right texture, warm, buttery and delicious.  The batch makes two dozen rolls, so I ended up with a dozen rolls in the cast iron skillet and pan full of garlic breadsticks.  Not a bad deal at all!!

Mix dough until a soft dough forms

Divide dough and shape into 12 round balls and place in a cast iron skillet

Let it rise for 20 minutes until doubled in size and brush with melted butter before placing in oven.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

Serve warm with butter

Other half of dough can be made into breadsticks…

Quick Rise Rolls

1 3/4 cups warm water

3 packets active dry yeast (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup melted butter and a little extra for brushing

2 tsp salt

Kosher salt for sprinkling on top

2 large eggs, beaten

4-6 cups flour (more if needed due to humidity)

Pre-heat oven to 400° F.  If using a stand mixer, attach the paddle attachment and in the mixing bowl, mix together water, yeast and honey and let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.  Mix on low speed and slowly add in the melted butter and eggs.  Add in 3 cups of flour and continue to mix on low for a minute or so.  Add in salt and flour as needed until a soft dough is formed and it begins to form a ball.  Divide dough in half.  Portion half of the dough into 12 balls and roll smoothly.  Place in a cast iron skillet and cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap.  Shape the remaining dough into rolls or bread sticks (can also be used as a pizza dough) if desired.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  They should double in size during that time.  Brush with melted butter and place the skillet in the pan.  Bake for 25 minutes until tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter and sprinkle each roll with a small amount of kosher salt.  Serve warm with butter, jam or any other topping!

Source: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/kelsey-nixon/rapid-rolls-recipe/index.html

On giving birth and birthday cakes…

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On giving birth and birthday cakes…

I remember it clearly, even though it was 19 years ago, the immediate cessation of pain at 6:29 a.m.  Suddenly someone else was crying  with some gusto in the room besides me!  I have been blessed to have two amazing kids.  A boy AND a girl!  Onjoli came along on Father’s day morning, June 20th,  looking surprised and a little ticked off.  She still has that look on any given 6:29 a.m.

Raising kids, especially a daughter has been an adventure.  All through Kindergarten, Onjoli insisted on wearing a crown to school…EVERYDAY.  The teacher would not let her bring the matching wand for safety reasons (who knows who could get whacked in the head?).  That pink bejeweled plastic crown will always have a special place in my heart.  After all, if you are a princess you should have the crown to go with it.  Over the years, I’ve made my share of birthday cakes.  The Barbie with the giant skirt cake, Pokemon, a myriad of Disney characters and unusual requests like the giant chocolate chip cookie pizza with candied toppings. Parties have changed from the chaos of a million kids running around to brunches at fancy restaurants.   Each year the tastes and palates of both my kids have developed and become more sophisticated.  This year, Onjoli wanted Carrot Cake cupcakes with “really good frosting”.  I tried to deliver.  After all, I don’t know how many more years I will have the privilege of making birthday cakes.  I will always be a mom even as the quality of our relationship changes and becomes richer and deeper over the years.  Even as I look back with nostalgia on the little girl I once had, I am ever so proud of the young woman I see before me.  I am one blessed woman and mom!

Last summer while visiting India

I think she’s pretty dang gorgeous!

Mix all the ingredients for the cake together except for the nuts

Pour into lined cup cake pan -this way you can do some with nuts and some without

While cupcakes are in the oven peel one carrot into long strips

Boil in syrup and let it air dry to make caramelized candied carrots

Carrot cake with cream and goat cheese frosting and candied carrots

Nom Nom

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream & Goat Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup oil

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

2 cups shredded carrots

4 eggs

1  3/4 cups sugar

1 cup pecans (optional)

Frosting

8 oz Neufchatel Cheese, room temperature

4 oz fresh Chevre (goat cheese), room temperature

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 cups powdered sugar

Candied Carrots

1 medium carrot, peeled into strips

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if you’re using a hand held mixer, just use a big bowl) place all the ingredients of the cake except for the nuts and mix at low speed until blended.  Increase speed and mix for 2 minutes until light and airy.  Mix in the nuts by hand.  I usually scoop out 6 cupcakes without nuts (due to some nut allergies in the family) and then add the nuts to the rest of the batter.  Line cup cake pan with liners and fill 3/4 full using an ice cream scooper.  Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks.

To make the candied carrots:

Peel one carrot into long thin strips.  In a small sauce pan heat sugar and water until boiling and add the carrots.  Simmer for about 6-8 minutes.  Take out the strips using a fork or a chopstick and place on some wax paper to cool.  Separate them out as you take it out of the syrup so they will not dry out in a large candied clump.  Set aside

To make the frosting:

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Mix all frosting ingredients together until smooth.  Place in a piping bag with a star tip or in a plastic storage bag with the corner cut off and frost the cupcakes.  Top each cupcake with a piece or two of the candied carrots.  Makes 24 cup cakes

Brown Rice and Red Lentils with Raisins and Curry Leaves

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Brown Rice and Red Lentils with Raisins and Curry Leaves

I’ve never put together this particular combination together before.  I was adding spices as I went along. The combination of the brown rice and red lentils  go pretty well together because they cook for the same amount of time.  The red lentils almost disappear, adding a richness to the texture of the rice. It had a nutty flavor from the rice and a touch of sweetness from the raisins that goes really well with the cardamom flavors.  A great rice dish that goes with so many proteins like pork chops, gola kabobs (that’s how we ate them) and as a light meal by itself.

Brown rice and red lentils

Saute onion with curry leaves, cardamoms and cumin seeds

Add in raisins

Add rice and lentils

Serve with Gola Kabobs

Brown Rice and Red Lentils with Raisins and Curry Leaves

2 cups brown rice

1 cup red lentil

1/2 onion, chopped

4 tsp oil

12-15 fresh curry leaves

4 whole cloves

1/3 cup raisins

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

4-5 green cardamoms

3 black cardamoms

4 1/2 cups water

Wash lentils and brown rice and pick out any weird stuff.  In a large sauce pan heat oil and add onions.  Saute a few minutes and add all the remaining ingredients except for rice and lentils.  Stir fry for abut 2-3 minutes then add the rice and lentils.  Add 4 1/2 cups water and bring to a simmer.  Cover and let it cook over low heat until all the water is absorbed and rice and lentils are tender.  Serve with Gola Kabobs.