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The kids like to cook with us. They are the sous chefs. I make this two ingredient treat with Ryan and Chloe almost weekly. Ryan helps to smash the bananas, Chloe mixes in the Nutella. They both lick their spoons, and can’t wait for the final product to freeze so they can eat it. They like it served in mini ice cream cones, packed to the bottom for maximum chocolate goodness. Better and healthier than store bought ice cream, and fun too. Enjoy it with your kids.
Best Banana Nutella Ice Cream

4 ripe bananas

5 tablespoons of Nutella

Blend bananas with a hand blender, in a food process, or by hand using a potato masher. (The kids prefer the masher.) Mix in the Nutella, freeze and serve.

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The summer has ended and Ryan and Chloe are about to go back to school. Ryan received a letter from his teacher (Mrs. Yotis) in the mail today. She seems like a lovely, welcoming and nurturing lady. He can’t wait to start Junior Kindergarten. Chloe’s first day at pre-school is also coming up. We have no doubt, she’ll fit right in due to her outgoing personality. Granola bars are great additions to school lunches. These are simple, delicious, and good for the kids. Feel free to add whatever you have on hand, the recipe is versatile. Much better than the store bought variety, more cost effective and quick. My 95 year old grandmother likes them too.

Home-made Granola Bars in a Hurry

3 cups quick-cooking oats

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted (you can also use peanut butter)

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup sliced almonds (you can also use ground almonds)

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a rectangular baking pan. Melt butter in a large glass bowl, add remaining ingredients, and mix until well combined. Press flat into pan and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting into bars.

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Perfect Pizza

While at the cottage, Mark was reluctant to try a recommended quick pizza recipe using rapid rise yeast. As you know, Mark prefers to do everything from scratch, the more time-consuming, the better the product, according to him. I asked him to try this adapted recipe from the Fleishmann’s yeast container. Needless to say we were amazed with the results. The pizza takes minutes to prepare, comes out perfect every time. Mark and Ryan enjoyed making the pizza together, and Chloe assisted, mostly eating the sliced pepperoni as the pizza was assembled. A great way to bond with kids, teach them to cook, and enjoy a quick and healthy home-made meal as a family. Forget the frozen stuff, this recipe is better and (believe it or not) faster.

Perfect Pizza

2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups flour, 1 cup spelt or whole wheat flour)
1 envelope pizza yeast (fast rise)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cornmeal

Suggested toppings: Pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Stir very warm water and olive oil into flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface for about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover and let rest on floured surface 10 minutes. Lightly oil 1 (14-inch) or 2 (12-inch) round pizza pan(s). Sprinkle with cornmeal. Shape dough into a ball. Roll dough to fit desired pan(s). Top as desired. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is browned.

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These peanut butter cookies are perfect. 3 ingredients, 10 minutes to prep. Simply perfect, almost too good (and too easy) to be true. You must, must try them.

Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies (3 ingredients, one bowl, 10 minutes)

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine sugar and egg in bowl, stirring until smooth. Add peanut butter and mix again thoroughly. Roll into small balls. Place the balls on a cookie sheet at least 2″ apart. Flatten with a fork. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool in pan before serving.

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To make the best use of time, I have been preparing meals the night before, and baking them the next night, before dinner. Not a bad idea as it frees up the day for work, play and errands. Ryan and I recently went shopping and he asked for creamy chicken soup. This sparked the chicken pot pie concept – creamy soup, crispy crust masking healthy veggies – perfect toddler food. This recipe makes enough for four people, so it can be devoured two days in a row. One bowl, one dish, minor clean up and, as always, delicious, nutritious and prepared in minutes. The pie is now in the fridge waiting to be baked, kids are sleeping, Mark is playing video games, and I’m about to watch a re-run. Can you say Weeknight Bliss?

Chop-chop Chicken Pie

1 medium-sized bag of mixed vegetables (baby corn, peas, baby carrots)

2-4 cups chopped roasted chicken (BBQ chicken from the deli counter)

1 cup condensed light cream soup (chicken, mushroom or celery)

1 cup baking mix (Bisquick)

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place vegetables at the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Add chicken, soup, sprinkle with poultry seasoning. Whisk together baking mix, milk, egg and pepper. Pour over chicken mixture. Bake for 35 minutes until crust is browned.

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We are always looking for breakfast alternatives. These great, tangy, cheesy, buttery scones are an adaptation of Art Smith’s. To be honest, Ryan and Chloe don’t love them as goat cheese is an acquired taste, but Mark can eat five or six in one sitting. Suggest you serve them warm with butter or without. The kids will stick with plain Cheerios as their gourmet tastebuds slowly develop. In the meantime, raise your coffee mug to another one bowl gourmet wonder.

Great Goat Cheese Scones

2 cups flour with 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

4 tablespoons cold butter

4 tablespoons goat cheese

1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp vinegar (or buttermilk)

Extra butter to grease pan and top biscuits

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place pan into the oven while it is preheating. Place flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in the butter and goat cheese. Make a well in the middle of the ingredients, pour in the milk and stir. Remove the hot pan from the oven and place a tablespoon of butter into it. When the butter has melted, drop small ball of batter into the pan. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter if desired. Bake from 14–16 minutes until browned.

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Imagine a camp fire, without the camp fire. These bars taste like a combination of caramel and chocolate, with a chewy marshmallow crunch. They are beyond addictive so beware. You need 5 minutes to prepare the bars, and another 5 to wash the pot. Thank you, Betty.

Super Fast S’mores Bars

1 bag mini marshmallows (5 cups) plus 1 cup to add at the end

1 1 /2 cups milk chocolate chips plus 1/2 cup to add at the end

5 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup corn syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 box Golden Grahams cereal (8 cups)

Grease (and flour) a square pan. In a pot, heat chocolate chips, marshmallows, corn syrup until melted and combined. Add vanilla. Stir in cereal. When slightly cooled, add extra marshmallows and chocolate chips. Press mixture evenly in pan using the back of a buttered spoon. Refrigerate for 1 hour before cutting into square.

Thank you Betty Crocker. (Adapted.)

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