Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Fun Friday: One-bowl brownies from Gluten-Free Living

6 Oct

Since finding this recipe at the end of the summer, we have made it at least four or five times.

Recently, I mentioned that when we cleaned out our kitchen to be redone, I had a huge pile of recipes and cookbooks to go through once we were ready to reload. In that pile was also a small pile of Gluten-Free Living magazines that I had put aside as they came in every other month, hoping for a day to go through them with my daughter.

At some point near the middle of August we found a day and we went through and pulled out any recipes we wanted to try, and recycled the rest of the magazines. Today’s recipe is one of the ones we pulled out to try. It’s from the newest issue, the September/October 2017 magazine that had just come in August. It is for a one-bowl recipe for brownies. I love anything that has very little cleanup, so one bowl appeals to me. I also love my new glass mixing bowl that I got in the springtime when my old plastic bowl broke, so I looked forward to the chance to use it as our one bowl.

This recipe was so easy that my daughter, who is 12, could make the whole thing by herself, with very little direction or help from me, other than some clarifying details. Additionally, I always enjoy a good teachable moment in the kitchen, and I loved showing her how the brownie batter doesn’t start out dark, but becomes so when you add in the unsweetened cocoa powder. It’s a simple thing, but when we make them out of a box, they start out chocolatey, so it was unusual for her to see the transition from a plain batter to a chocolate batter.

Like magic, it becomes chocolatey.

 

I’ll never not use parchment paper again.

In the months since we made this recipe for the first time, we have used it at least four or five more times, and we have doubled it depending on how many we were baking for. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s delicious. More importantly, people say that it doesn’t taste gluten-free. The brownies are thick and fudgy, just as brownies should be.

We started a new baking habit with this recipe and actually followed the directions for lining the bowl with parchment paper, which we sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I always skipped doing this in the past, just spraying my baking dish, but my daughter wanted to use the paper, and we had it, and we’ll never go back to not using it again. The cleanup is super easy and the brownies can be lifted out, cooled and cut right on the paper.

Here is the recipe, I hope you’ll give it a try!

One-Bowl Brownies
from Gluten-Free Living magazine

Makes 12 brownies

Ingredients

non-stick cooking spray

1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend (they recommended Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour, which we use as well.)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line an 8×8 baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing the edges to hang over the side. This makes removal easy. Spray the foil or parchment paper lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together butter and granulated sugar until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined. Add the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir batter until smooth.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center of the pan should come out with a few damp crumbs clinging to it.

Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack, about two hours.

Lift the brownies from the pan using the foil, cut into squares.

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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals for your new year

11 Jan

meals-1

Happy New Year!

We are already ten days into the new year and looking ahead to Martin Luther King Day now. It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already halfway through January.

That being said, after the new year, it was time for us to get back on track with our weekly meal plans. Through the holiday weeks we were off our schedules completely. When school started up again we had a one week meal plan, so this is our first two week plan.

With a new plan comes the usual “all-call” to the kids, asking if anyone has anything they’re craving or wanting over the next couple of weeks. We had one kid down for the count with a virus, so she did not weigh in this time around. However, the other two both sent me recipes they wished to try this time. I was happy to see some new recipes on the list, and I am happy to report that of the two we’ve tried already, they were both well received and something we would make again.

We made our list of meals and did our grocery shopping, and I wrote out the recipes for the two new meals and stuck them on my kitchen cabinet. Both were recipes the kids had seen online and one was a video. I will link to them in the list below. There are other ones we are trying out that I will feature in a future post if they are voted into the rotation.

Here is our current list of meals.

meals-2Sunday: Italian Antipasto (a huge salad of sorts containing various meats and cheeses, tuna and hard-boiled eggs)

Monday: Two soups: Normally I don’t make more than one meal, but I made an exception here. We had planned our typical Chicken Escarole Soup with gluten free pasta, but Liz wanted to try out a new soup. I knew some of us would like it and some wouldn’t, but I didn’t want to eliminate it just because not everyone would eat it. I had a sick kid that could use the chicken soup, so I opted to make both. One was a crockpot soup, and I’d totally make it again. You can find the recipe for it here. A photo is shown above as well.

Tuesday: Mongolian Beef (this is a new recipe we have not tried yet).

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Tuna Sauce (see recipe here)

Thursday: Zucchini Shrimp Scampi: This was a great new recipe submitted by Caroline and again, everyone loved it. We got to use a new grating tool for the zucchini that made long spaghetti-like noodles. You can see this recipe here. A photo is shown below as well. We did add tomatoes to ours, and for a family of our size we would use six zucchini next time, instead of four. It was that good, with very little left over.

meals-3

Friday: Hamburgers and hotdogs, Quinoa Salad on the side as a request from Caroline, see the recipe here.

Saturday: Out for dinner

Sunday: Red Wine Crockpot Roast: We tried this recipe a few menu cycles ago, and absolutely loved it. Everyone loved it, which is often rare. We are adding it back in this time around.

Monday: MLK Day: Roasted Chicken Dinner

Tuesday: Paninis

Wednesday: Chicken/Broccoli/Pasta Saute (we usually make Wednesday a pasta night at this time of year because all three kids have a Wednesday night commitment and it allows us to cook early, eat early and eat quickly before we go our separate ways.

Thursday: Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes (another busy night meal we often rely on)

Friday: TBA

Hopefully this two-week schedule of meals will help to inspire your own menu planning. What’s on your menu for the upcoming weeks?

-Jen

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Tomato Salad with a Twist

25 May
Doesn't it look delicious?

Doesn’t it look delicious?

It’s been a little while since I have posted a new recipe and I’ve been wanting to share this one since last month when we first tried it. The recipe is one that one of my daughters found on the back of a Whole Grain Wheat Reduced Fat Triscuit box. Our family loves these Triscuits and we keep them on hand regularly, so once we saw this recipe, we continued to see it on every box of Triscuits we bought. Each time we’d buy a new box, my daughter would say, “Mom, we have to make this!”

Finally over the school break in April, I made sure we had all the necessary ingredients, and we finally made it. I truly enjoy cooking with fresh veggies and it makes me so excited for summertime, when we have our own garden. Tomatoes are a favorite of almost everyone here, and we especially love the more unusually colored varieties along with the typical reds. This time around I bought a large container that had a mixture of several types of tomatoes in it, and it made for such a beautiful salad.

Since one of the girls eats a gluten free diet, I chose to make hers separately with no Triscuits and no red onions, since she doesn’t like those either. Tomatoes are one of her favorite snacks though, so she was just as excited as everyone else for this new recipe.

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we'd be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

Each time we bought a new box of Triscuits, we’d be reminded of this recipe that we just had to try!

This was a simple recipe to follow. It is called a Panzanella Salad, but it’s very much like our usual Caprese salads, just with a bit of a twist, provided by the added Triscuits. There is no cooking involved, just chopping, slicing, dicing and assembling, so the preparation was quick. We just had to keep stopping ourselves from snacking as I was prepping.

While I cut up the tomatoes and the cheese, I had my daughter prep the Triscuits, counting out the amount the recipe asked for, and breaking them into bite-sized pieces. That was definitely a “one for me, one for the bowl” activity as well.

We served this with a dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers, and it was the perfect side dish. It’s going to make a great addition to our sides for this upcoming summer. We loved the added crunch to the salad that the Triscuits provided, and my younger daughter enjoyed her gluten free version just as much as we enjoyed ours.

Here is the recipe according to the Triscuit box:

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup slivered red onions
  • 18 Triscuit Reduced Fat Crackers, coarsely broken
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced-fat balsamic dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper

 

Directions:

Combine  first 3 ingredients in medium bowl.

Mix  dressing and garlic until blended.

Add to cracker mixture; mix lightly. Let stand 30 min.

Tear  basil into small pieces. Add to tomato mixture along with the pepper; mix lightly.

 

Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!

Even when made gluten free, this is a delicious side dish!

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: 30 Minute Spaghetti with Summer Vegetable Sauce

29 Apr
Another successful meal from Liz's 30 Minute Meal cookbook!

Another successful meal from Liz’s 30 Minute Meal cookbook!

About two weeks ago, for my previous What’s for Dinner Wednesday post, I showed a recipe that Elizabeth had found in a Cook’s Country Magazine for 30 Minute Meatloaf Burgers.

At the time that Liz chose that recipe, we were at the end of our two weeks of meals, which meant we’d be menu planning again soon afterwards for the next two weeks of meals.

Liz was on top of it. She and her dad poured through her selection of recipes hoping to find one that everyone would like at least one part of, if not all of. Pasta is a pretty easy choice. Everyone likes pasta, even if they don’t like what’s on it. Therefore, she chose a 30 minute meal called Spaghetti with Summer Vegetable Sauce.

It was so delicious, and seeing the veggies simmering on the stove while Liz and Don were cooking together really made me long for summer. This meal was wonderful and Liz did a great job choosing another quick and easy meal. I know she’s got at least one more on deck for a future week.

I’m getting a bit spoiled…

Here’s the recipe for you, just as it appears in the Cook’s Country Magazine.

It was hard to wait after seeing this simmering on top of the stove!

It was hard to wait after seeing this simmering on top of the stove!

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons unsalted butter (We use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.)

1 onion, chopped

1 large summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, minced

12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup dry white wine

Salt and pepper

1 pound spaghetti (We used linguine.)

6 tablespoons basil pesto (We made our own.)

DIRECTIONS

1.) Bring four quarts of water to a boil in large pot. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in squash and zucchini and cook until softened, about five minutes. Stir in squash and zucchini and cook until softened, three to five minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, wine, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about two minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; cover and keep warm.

2) Meanwhile, add pasta and one tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Toss vegetable mixture and pesto with pasta, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Serve.

Test kitchen note: Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: 30 Minute Meatloaf Burgers

15 Apr
Liz's 30 minute meal was just what we needed on a busy night. Having her make it for us was even better.

Liz’s 30 minute meal was just what we needed on a busy night. Having her make it for us was even better.

A year or so ago, my mom passed along to us a stack of Cook’s Country cooking magazines that my aunt had passed along to her first. I looked through them all, and saw some great recipes throughout, but overall, I did not do much with them at the time.

Our daughter Elizabeth however, was totally obsessed with them. She loved the recipes, the product reviews and the section of 30 Minute Meal recipe cards. She poured through them often, and was always coming out to show us what she was reading or finding at the time, and what recipes she thought we’d like and ought to try.

This past weekend, she was at it again with the 30 Minute Meals recipes.

“Can we make this one? Do we have the stuff for that one? Do you think we’d like this one,” she’d ask.

I hate to say no when they’re enthused about something, especially when it means I’m off the hook for cooking and planning a meal, but each recipe seemed to call for something we didn’t have. Finally, I spotted one for Meatloaf Burgers. I quickly scanned it and realized we had everything it called for.

“We can make that one tomorrow night. We have all the ingredients,” I told her.

Her eyes lit up. She was thrilled. She continued to pour through the magazines and began pulling out all the sections of recipe cards so she’d have all the 30 minute meals together in a pile.

A new binder of recipes all ready to go. I even gave her a shopping list pad to stick inside the front pocket so she could choose her meals and tell us the ingredients needed, insuring that we'd have them on hand.

A new binder of recipes all ready to go. I even gave her a shopping list pad to stick inside the front pocket so she could choose her meals and tell us the ingredients needed, insuring that we’d have them on hand.

I’m a huge fan of binders. If it’s important, I binderize it. I create a cute cover and spine for it. I take a picture of it. I love binders. I inherited a huge box of binders from my brother and sister in law from all her grad school classes, so I have my own supply at my fingertips whenever I need one. I saw a binderizing opportunity here, and when Liz went to bed, I brought up a binder, printed out a cover sheet and she now had a place to store all her recipe card pages for her 30 minute meals. The next morning we punched the holes and she set up her cookbook for the evening.

At 4:30 I told her to be ready for 5:00 to start her meal, and she was ready! The recipe was meant to be quick and easy, and it was. She could do the whole thing herself for the most part, other than cooking the burgers. I had her form them and place them on a baking sheet so they could be cooked.

When they were done, she had one smaller one that she’d made with the final portion of meatloaf mixture, and she cut it into five sample pieces, put them on little cocktail forks and let everyone try a bite before we ate, to make sure everyone liked them.

Cute little tasting samples were a great way to determine if anyone didn't like the burgers without wasting one.

Cute little tasting samples were a great way to determine if anyone didn’t like the burgers without wasting one.

Everyone did! That’s so rare. We almost never have a meal that all five people like. She was thrilled. We dug in.

There were just two burgers leftover at the end of the night. They both made delicious lunches the next day.

This recipe was deemed “a keeper” and Liz will definitely be making it again. This weekend we do our “big shopping,” and she’ll be handing us her shopping list, I’m sure, with some 30 minute meals on the menu for the next two weeks.

Liz was so proud of herself for choosing and making such a great, meal and I’m glad I was able to say yes this time around. It’s a great life skill for kids to be able to research a meal, plan it and make it, but it’s even better when everyone loves it.

Here is the recipe Liz used from the Cook’s Country magazine 30 Minute Meals.

 

Grilled Meatloaf Burgers from Cook’s Country

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix (we used 2 one-pound packages of ground turkey)

1 large egg

(we sprinkled in some bread crumbs as an extra ingredient)

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (we used 1/4 tsp. dry thyme)

salt and pepper

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

hamburger buns

DIRECTIONS

1) Combine  meatloaf mix, egg, Worcestershire Sauce, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Shape mixture into four 3/4 inch thick patties. Whisk ketchup, sugar, and vinegar together until combined. Reserve 5 tablespoons glaze for serving.

2) Grill burgers of medium-hot fire until well-browned on first side, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip burgers and brush with remaining glaze. Cook until meat registers 160 degrees, about 7 minutes. Transfer burgers to plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil; let rest for 5 minutes. Serve burgers on buns with reserved glaze.

A very, very tasty dinner, thanks to Liz!

A very, very tasty dinner, thanks to Liz!

Easter Sweet Bread

3 Apr

This recipe makes three “small” loaves of sweet bread for Easter. It’s wonderful when you grill it!

Originally posted April 4, 2012

This recipe is one that takes a while from start to finish- nine hours to be exact- but if you’re game, it’s SO worth it! It is, of course, from my mom. She received it from a woman she worked with. It’s dated April 1992.

My mom makes it every year and I have made it once or twice myself. Don’t let the number of steps scare you off. If you go step-by-step it’s not hard.

Colleen DeMoranville’s Sweet Bread

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 and 1/4 cups hot milk

1 pkg. dry yeast (Fleishman’s Active Dry or Rapid Rise or Red Star)

1 egg- well beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract (can also use almond if desired)

7 cups flour (start with between five and six and add more if needed)

one 15 ounce can sliced peaches, drained and sliced thinner

DIRECTIONS

1) Mix butter, sugar, salt an d hot milk in a large bowl.

2) Let cool to lukewarm.

3) Stir yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and let stand 5 minutes. (If using a thermometer it’s 110-115 degrees. Add 1/4 tsp sugar or whatever the package of yeast says to add.

4) Add dissolved yeast, egg, the extract and three cups of flour to the butter, sugar, salt and milk. Mix vigorously with flat wooden spoon.

5) Add three more cups of flour and then mix well.

6) If too sticky, add more flour. It almost always needs more, but not more than 7 cups. Too much flour will make the bread tough.

7) Turn out onto floured surface and knead it for one or two minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes. Add remaining flour only if sticky.

8) Knead more until elastic.

9) Put into large buttered bowl . Turn over once so it doesn’t dry out. Cover with a dishtowel or two and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. (Takes a few hours.)

10) Punch down and knead for another minute or two. Cut in half for two long loaves or in thirds for smaller loaves and divide each of those portions into three pieces (for a total of six or nine pieces.)

11) Stretch and roll each piece until long and uniform, about 12-18 inches if divided into two portions. Shorter if divided into three.

12) Use the three pieces to make a braid with each portion.

13) Pinch ends together.

14) Insert peach slices between braids.

15) Place each loaf on a buttered cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk. (Takes about 2 hours.)

16) Brush each with one egg yolk that is mixed with 1 tsp. cold water.

17) Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes (check at about 20 minutes) if making 2 large loaves or less if making three smaller loaves (usually between 17 and 18 minutes)

18) Remove loaves to cooling racks.

19) Cool and then glaze with mixture of:

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla

5-6 tablespoons milk

Sprinkle with colored sprinkles or non-pareils.

This photo was taken a couple of years back when Elizabeth helped me make the bread. She was probably in first grade at the time. My point is: there’s lots of opportunity for kids to help out here. There’s measuring, kneading, braiding and more, that they can help out with.

NOTE: The whole process takes about nine hours. Start in the morning, end in the evening. Mixing and kneading takes about one hour. First rising takes about two hours. Braiding takes about a half hour. Second rising takes about two hours. Baking takes about a half for each loaf, then cool and glaze.

My mom stores hers in gift boxes (like from a department store) on waxed paper.

Fun Friday: Apple Pie Bites from Megan’s Frugalista Diaries

2 Jan
The house smelled so good when the kids arrived home from school on this particular afternoon!

The house smelled so good when the kids arrived home from school on this particular afternoon!

Happy New Year!

After taking some time off from my blogging this past week, I’m sliding back into my regular routine. As I often do, next week I’ll begin blogging some great toy and gift reviews from the holidays. I’ll continue this during the month of January in order to give you some gift-giving ideas for the rest of the year, but before I do, I thought I’d put out a new Fun Friday recipe for you.

Today is Friday and it’s still school vacation, so there’s lots of time to relax and do some fun things together before heading back to the school routine. I love school vacation weeks exactly for this reason. We get to do some fun things that we normally don’t have time for during the craziness of the school year. This is a perfect recipe to try out today. It’s a great recipe for little hands to help with (or for bigger hands to complete on their own) and it’s warm and delicious.

The recipe comes from Megan Zietz over at The Frugalista Diaries blog, but I actually saw it on another blog where she was guest blogging for the day. The ingredients and directions are simple and quick, making it a perfect after school snack, dessert or school vacation day treat.

Megan made a note (see below) that she used Immaculate Baking Company’s crescent rolls. I did not have those on hand but I did use a lowfat version of another company’s crescent rolls. I also skipped the vanilla ice cream since I was using this as an after school snack, but if I were making them for a more involved dessert, I’d definitely put ice cream out.

These all got thumbs up. There were eight crescents and five people here, so next time I’d definitely do two packs of crescents to double the recipe. I think you could also throw in some dried cranberries or some raisins to this recipe, and I bet it’d be great.

I hope you’ll visit Megan’s blog. She’s got lots of great posts on there and she covers more than food, so pay her a visit!

Here’s Megan’s recipe:

Apple Pie Bites – Serves 8
1 (Tart) Apple Sliced
3 Heaping Tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Cinnamon ( I used a homemade Cinni-Sugar Mix)
1 Tbsp. Melted Butter
1 Pkg. Of Immaculate Baking Co. Crescent Rolls
*(I use immaculate baking co. when I’m not doing homemade – no hydrogenated oils and non gmo –  it’s the only thing I feel safe about giving my kids when it’s not from scratch)
Preheat Oven to 350˚
1. Roll out the dough on a greased cookie sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle Brown Sugar and Cinnamon in individual pieces of dough.
2. Roll up an apple slice in the dough forming a crescent, brush with melted butter and top with cinnamon.  Repeat for others.
3. Bake for 12-15 Mins at 350˚.

4. Remove from Oven, filling will be hot! Serve alone or with a dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream.