If you’re like me, breakfast with the kids can be pretty hit-or-miss. Some days they’ll eat whatever I set in front of them. Other days they’ll ask for something specific (and might not eat a bite of it). They’ll have favorites one day, that they hate the next.
So I am always happy when I find something that they (almost) always eat happily, are easy to put together, makes extras that store well, and are delicious to boot. This is how it was when I found out about “puffins,”
No, not the bird.
Puffins are, essentially, just muffins made with a pancake-like batter. It gives you this awesome pancake/muffin hybrid that doesn’t require a long time by the stove flipping anything. Maple-syrup is added right to the batter to make them sweet already (which, in our house at least, avoids some major mess) but if you’r adventurous I suppose you could make mini versions of these and dip ’em in all sorts of sweet goodness. As always, experiment, and enjoy!
Who doesn’t love a warm, freshly baked biscuit? Slather on some butter, honey, or preserves. Mmm. Yes please!
I saw these made on the tee-vee a year or so ago now, as part of a schnitzel sandwich recipe. The sandwich looked good, but I was mainly intrigued by the biscuits. I’d never seen them made in a cast iron skillet before, and as a lover of cast-iron cooking, I had to try them.
So glad I did.
A few weeks ago was my son’s fourth birthday, and as he asked for an Octonauts cake, I decided to go for a casual “undersea” theme overall. In addition to some surprisingly good “octo-dogs” (bbq cocktail weiners cut so they looked like little octopi) I finally tried my hand at making some homemade goldfish crackers.
Now, ask any parent and they’ll agree, goldfish crackers are like “Toddler Crack.” Every kid loves them. Any time, any place, my boys will devour a bag of them like they’re manna from heaven. It turns out they are also SUPER easy to make at home.
This recipe was a lot of fun to do, because Tucker actually got to help me out quite a lot, cutting the shapes and laying them out. With only 5 ingredients I’m sure it would also adapt well to different cheeses, healthy flours or grains, interesting seasonings, and the possibilities for the shapes are endless.
Give them a try!
Trying something a little different, I made up a fancy-dancy illustrated version of this recipe.
Let me know what you think of this fun new format!
This is a deceptively easy but amazingly delicious take on chicken tacos, that I saw on Cook’s Country recently, and I think it’s going to go into our regular rotation of quick meal ideas.
I’ve mentioned before that my family this year has a plot in a local community garden.
We’ve been absolutely loving it, both as a fun activity to do as a family and because it has been amazingly productive in getting some great, fresh produce into our hands and bellies. Most, we have grown ourselves, but our garden is also home to a wonderful test garden, where some incredible varieties of heritage crops are grown.
This week we happened to make our weekly family trip to the garden on the same day when the test garden crew were harvesting literal carloads of the most beautiful garlic you’ve ever seen. The aroma was incredible. We were offered a few heads… then a few more… and then some more… and by the time we left we had a mountainous treasure I couldn’t wait to get home and start using.
My first thought: I am making a huge batch of Mojo de Ajo!
I couple of weeks ago I did an interview with Josh Levs from CNN, about the “Huggies thing,” and the image of the bumbling dad in general.
Earlier this week his article went up. I encourage you to go read it, because it’s quite a good roundup of how the stereotype is changing or at the very least being challenged when it raises its head.
It was a great conversation, and thankfully it worked out that both boys napped well for me so we could have an uninterrupted chat. But while we talked I still tried to quietly get a few things done around the house. At one point the beep of the oven and the sound of clattering baking sheets made me feel like I should apologize for the noise, and I explained to him what I was doing.
And so, my favorite part of his article came about:
[Routly is] concerned that boys and men “see the bumbling dad … and think that’s what’s expected of them,” the stay-at-home father of two told me by phone while baking chips for his kids out of kale from his garden.
I’ve been having so, so many people ask me about my kale chips lately, that I’ve decided it’s high time I posted the (ridiculously easy) recipe for making them.
I am about to change your life.
Well, okay, maybe not.
Maybe you’re one of those people who has some sort of aberrant aversion to All Things Banana. To this day it remains one of only two culinary flaws (the other being a dislike of most seafood) I have ever found in my lovely and otherwise perfect wife.
But if you’re not one of those people, or perhaps even more importantly have a child or children who seem to enjoy something of a banana-centric diet, you’re going to love this and so will your kids.
This is so easy, I literally had to sit for a minute or so and contemplate how in the world a guy like me, with the dual passions of cooking good food and surfing the internet finding obscure recipes, had never heard of it or tried it.
It’s so easy, I’m not even going to call this a recipe. It would be like giving you a “recipe” for how to slice an apple or shred cheese.
Many, many years ago now, on a cold Calgary day, I sought out some warmth at lunch time at a local artisan soup and sandwich shop.
Such places are much more common now, but back then all I knew was that the fresh baked bread looked delicious and the smell coming from the place was divine. Also, I was cold and hungry.
They had as one of their soup specials that day something that they called “West African Peanut Soup,” which felt to me like it was all of the comfort of a bowl of tomato soup, wrapped up with child-like joy of having a peanut butter sandwich as an adult. Creamy (but with no cream), a little sweet, a little spicy, incredibly hearty and filling and great for warming up on a cold day. It came with some of that freshly baked bread for dipping.
I was in love.
Way back in 1985, my family made the very long drive from Toronto, Canada to Orlando, Florida for a magical summer vacation together.
To help fight boredom during the drive, dad had picked up several books on tape.
One of these was John Wyndham’s post-apocalyptic novel Day of the Triffids, in which large plants (in my memory I always think “alien” plants, but strictly speaking this is not the case in the novel) take over the world. I actually remember little else about the novel, having been too scared by what I heard to ever pick it up for an actual reading, except that there were giant killer plants and that they were terrifying. Also, lots of people were blind.
Anyhow, while we were in Florida enjoying Disney World or Epcot, at some point, somewhere — the details lost to history — we came across a farming display of some kind that featured giant sunflowers.
To my 9-year old imagination, nothing I had ever seen could possibly have looked more like a giant evil killer plant than a giant sunflower, with it’s looming height and empty, soulless face.
They gave me the creeps.
That was when I made the mistake of saying out loud what, in hindsight, I should have kept to myself. I told my family that “those giant sunflowers creep me out.”
Over the years, my loving family has never let me forget it. The details or my reasoning behind why I said it hasn’t mattered. It went from “giant sunflowers give Chris the creeps” to “Chris is scared of sunflowers” rather quickly. In fact, it’s probably second only to “It’s like I’m afraid of that sandwich!” (a whole other story, there) in the pantheon of Things My Family Won’t Let Me Forget. I’m pretty sure that at some point my sister even got me a birthday card with a sunflower on it just to see my reaction, and I’m glad to say I let her down by not even noticing.
Anyhow, all of this is to say, sunflowers and I have a long and complicated history.
Like most (?) toddlers, my oldest son is rather enamored with quesadilla.
We play around with ingredients, but even just plain old’ cheese is almost always a surefire hit for lunch or dinner.
So, one day I decided it was high time I tried making my own tortillas, and boy am I ever glad I did. This hasn’t ended up meaning we never buy tortillas, but these are an easy way to make a meal that much more delicious.
I was a little intimidated about it since I don’t have a tortilla press, but, at least for this sort of tortilla, I was fine without. The final product is almost naan-like with its delicious char, and would work for just about any application where you’d use a tortilla or flat-bread, be they quesadilla, tacos, fajitas, wraps, gyros, or even mini-pizzas.
Bananas are one of my oldest son’s favorite foods. Unless we’re completely out, he eats one just about every morning. So as you can imagine, I find myself picking up a bunch of bananas almost every time we’re at the grocery store.
Of course, having bananas on hand all the time means I occasionally have overripe ones that need to be used, and this recipe is the perfect way to do so.
This is also one of those recipes that are great to get your kids to help you prepare. My son loves mashing the bananas.
The only problem with this stuff, is that it WANTS to be eaten. If you find the loaf suddenly all gone, don’t say I didn’t warn you. 😉
When it comes to delicious but deceptively easy meals, this has to be one of my favorites.
It’s simple, but it’s so full of flavor that it seems like it seems like a much more complicated dish. I don’t believe I’ve ever had saltimbocca any other way, but I believe it is commonly made using veal and can get much more complicated (with breading, cheese, stuffing, etc.) so I make no claims this is authentic, just that it tastes great.
I made this tonight with a few changes to make it edible by my visiting mother-in-law, which I’ll note as I go in italicized parenthesis, because really, I can’t bear the thought of anyone thinking they need to use Smart Balance instead of butter. 😉
But I digress.
Hey look, I’m doing another Foodie Friday! Yay! It’s been far too long.
This week I thought I would share with you a fairly basic version of a dish that is in honor of my own Canadian heritage, tourtière.
Tourtière, since you ask, is a traditional French-Canadian meat pie, that is most often served on Christmas or New Years Eve but can be eaten any time.
Now, my family isn’t actually Francophone, but somehow tourtière (usually rather poor, store-bought tourtière) worked it’s way into our annual Christmas Eve smörgåsbord, along with a mish-mash selection of other things like pizza, sushi, Chinese finger-foods, and my mom’s homemade eggnog. How we came to have such a strange tradition is a long story for another time.
But suffice to say, as a Canadian living in America, learning to make good tourtière was something of an attempt to retain some of my roots as my wife and I build traditions of our own for our family. After scouring the internet for recipes, I found they were all incredibly different, so I came up with this one that includes the addition of potatoes as in the famous version from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec.
While this recipe uses beef/pork/veal (available in many supermarkets as “meatloaf mix”) you can actually traditionally make tourtière with whatever meats you have available, be it salmon, rabbit, pigeon or moose.
Also, for the purposes of this recipe I’m not specifying anything about making the actual pastry dough. Feel free to use store-bought dough, but if you have a favorite pie-crust recipe I encourage you to use it.
Even recognizing that wherever there is an Olive Garden there is probably a better, more authentic Italian restaurant (perhaps several) within a short distance, Olive Garden seems like one of those places everyone loves… even if they’re afraid to admit it.
Yes, the food isn’t The Best, but it’s still usually very good, and the “authenticity” of the food is not something anyone is arguing is their big selling point.
There is something comforting about the consistency.
If you love and always order the Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo, for instance, you can rest easy knowing it will be pretty much the same whether you order it in Pennsylvania or in Oregon, y’know?
Dining at Olive Garden is like getting a degree in popular culture, rather than literature. But everyone needs a bit of popular culture once in awhile, right?
~ Someone Smart
Beyond that, I think a huge part of the love so many people have for The O.G. (that’s what the kids are calling it these days, I like to tell myself) comes down to three simple words.
I love lettuce wraps.
I also love Thai food, so this recipe from Cooks Illustrated was a no-brainer the minute I saw it and knew I had a pork tenderloin crying out for me to be used.
This is a great way to introduce your kids to healthy Asian food, and some new flavors to their palette. Just tell them they’re having Thai lettuce tacos or something. 😉
Oh, and feel free to omit the pepper flakes if you’re worried about spiciness. I didn’t find this to be overly hot, but your mileage (or that of your kids) may vary. You could also try using chicken or turkey if you’d like, but I’d still recommend using the same process of grinding it yourself, and be careful not to overcook and dry out the meat.
NOTE: If you’re not familiar with fish sauce (or don’t like fish) don’t give in to the temptation to leave it out. It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but if you enjoy good Thai food, fish sauce is part of the unique flavor — and you’ve already had it and just didn’t know it! Also, don’t skip the toasted rice either! It’s important to the texture and flavor of the dish. Any style of white rice can be used.
It’s probably no secret that I watch a lot of Food Network, so it probably also comes as no surprise that my wife and I were among the people tuning in to (by which I mean “letting the TiVo record”) this most recent season of The Next Food Network Star.
We really liked several of the contestants a lot, but our favorite as time went on became Aarti Sequeira, the former CNN producer whose unique Indian heritage and childhood in Dubai led her to a passion for making Indian food more accessible. In the end, she won (YAY!) and her new show started last week, but she’s not exactly new to hosting a cooking show. Eager to try her hand at it, she and her husband started making their own cooking show and posting it online.
Incidentally, Tucker fell in love with her instantly. She’s second only to Elmo now, and if he recognizes the Food Network is on he’ll shout “AWTEE! AWTEE!” It’s pretty dang cute.
All of that is to say that in reading through her website, I found this amazing looking recipe for baked samosas.
I’ve never really liked raw tomatoes.
Give them to me in just about any other form — tomato sauce, ketchup, tomato soup — and I not only will eat them, I actually use them a lot in my cooking. Over time I’ve developed an appreciation for salsa, I suppose, but in general large pieces of raw tomato is something I will at best tolerate in a dish.
The thing is, I know tomatoes are great, particularly really good, fresh, local tomatoes. I’ve been known to harbor secret jealousy for people who can eat them straight like an apple.
Anyhow, this past year my wife and I watched the movie Julie & Julia. It was curious that of all the incredible food the film featured, the one that really got my taste buds curious wasn’t even a Julia Childs’ recipe, but some absolutely amazing looking bruschetta that Julie makes for herself and her husband before embarking on her food-blog quest. I don’t think I have ever seen food in a movie that made me want to Eat. That. Right. Now. as much.
This year we have been enjoying some wonderful fresh local vegetables from our CSA, and I decided it was time to try making this delectable-looking dish with some of our harvest.
I did some searching and found more than a few places on the internet where people tried to recreate the same dish, and I came up with a recipe based on those (and my memories). My version isn’t exactly the same as the movie (added prosciutto, different tomatoes) but DANG if it isn’t the first time I’ve really appreciated a dish where raw tomatoes are the main star.
Anyhow, here we go…
Putting together a quick dinner on the fly for the family is often a struggle, so I am always looking for ideas for healthy meals that don’t take long but pack a nice punch of flavor. This one from ATK blew me away both in how delicious it is AND how fast it all comes together. Once you have your almonds toasted and cool, it seriously just requires the time to boil a pot of water and cook the pasta.
Here in North America we tend to think of “pesto” as being primarily basil and pine nuts, but technically that is Pesto alla Genovese, from the Genoa region of northern Italy. It’s great! However, there are a few regional variations and this recipe that uses tomatoes and almonds, Pesto alla Trapanese, is just one of them, coming from the Trapani area of Sicily. It uses less oil and cheese, and with the addition of tomatoes is actually also a healthier pesto variation.
NOTE: If you don’t have pepperoncini on hand, it can be replaced with a 1/2 tsp of red wine vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. That’s what I did, and it was great. Not too spicy at all, even with the addition of the optional red-pepper flakes later. You can expect this to be a pink or red pesto, however the cherry tomatoes I used were a mix of red and yellow cherry tomatoes from our CSA, which is why I ended up with a lighter colored finished product in my photo. It uses less basil than traditional pesto, so just don’t expect the vibrant green color.
Don’t skip out on toasting the almonds. It really adds a lot of flavor and aroma. Mmm.
So without further ado…
Gnocchi always intimidated me, until I finally tried making them.
They require a little bit of technique and get easier with experience, but as it turns out they are quite easy to prepare.
One of the great things about making gnocchi is that this is definitely something you can have your kids help to make if they’re interested. I’m looking forward to when my son is old enough to roll out snakes of dough for me!
I like serving this with a pesto sauce (pictured, accompanied with sauteed green snap beans), but it would also be great tossed with your favorite tomato sauce or even just some good olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Just use whatever suits your fancy — or that your kids will enjoy. 🙂
NOTE: One great tip I’ve read is to actually roll, cut, texture and cook a single gnocchi before continuing to prepare the rest, just to be sure the dough is the right consistency to hold together and give you a nice fluffy pillow once cooked. If it is too mushy or falls apart, add a little bit more flour to your dough. This way you can fix the problem before having made up your whole batch.
So, without further ado…
Summer is here, and along with it comes grillin’ season.
When I first heard about this, it looked interesting but sounded a little… strange. Then I started making it. As I prepared the sauce the flavors were clearly going to be amazing, but it definitely started to look weird. Mayonnaise and cheese on corn?
I debated just sticking with butter and salt.
I am so happy I didn’t win that debate with myself. Served along some homemade steak fajitas and guacamole, this is seriously one of the most flavorful dishes I’ve ever made.
Yes, it’s messy. Very messy. But this is corn on the cob we’re talking about here — tea-time with the Queen, it’s not.