Thursday, October 27, 2011
I've been pretty impressed with how many fun fall activities both Cole and Bennett have been doing at school lately. Bennett has had a field trip to the library, hosted a tea party for the parents, and roasted pumpkin seeds. Cole has gone to the pumpkin patch, learned how to curl, and made pumpkin pie. One thing they've both made at school is apple sauce. It's a great recipe to do with kids because it's so easy, and what kid doesn't love apple sauce? Cole brought home a sample of their apple sauce and a copy of the recipe. He's in french immersion, so he calls it 'La Compote de Pommes.' I like the sound of that much better than apple sauce! So I'm going to share with you my adapted version of Cole's school recipe for la compote de pommes. I added the cinnamon stick for more flavour. I did find it a little sweet, so feel free to reduce the sugar to your taste.
La Compote de Pommes (Apple Sauce)
10 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup of water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
Place all ingredients in a large pot over high heat until boiling, then reduce heat to simmer and cook until apples are tender (about 20 minutes). Remove cinnamon stick, then mash and enjoy!
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Since Cole started kindergarten last month, I've been struggling daily with what to make for his lunch. In daycare it was easier; they could heat food up in the microwave or toast things like bagels and waffles in the toaster, and nuts were okay. I bought a thermos and some nut-free Peabutter thinking that they would help me to expand on my options for his lunches. Unfortunately Cole hardly eats anything from his thermos because apparently it takes too long for him to eat, and he tried the peabutter and informed me it was 'gross' (I tried Wowbutter too and got a similar reaction). Back to square one. I wanted to be creative with the foods I sent him so that he'd actually eat his lunches. First I tried wraps with veggie cream-cheese, shredded carrot, and ham. I was sure those would win him over, but neither of the boys ate them. This surprised me because I really enjoyed them and have been eating them for lunch a lot myself. I still had a bunch of tortillas left though, so I tried pizza quesadillas. Basically these are just tortillas stuffed with pizza toppings and grilled on an indoor grill. (I cut my quesadillas with kitchen scissors to get a nice clean edge on them.)
Cole didn't like these either. Bennett ate them though and seemed to like them. He's a big fan of anything to do with pizza. That's why I tried making homemade pizza pockets, using flax seed pizza dough with ham, pineapple, peppers, tomato sauce and cheese stuffed inside. Finally, success! Cole's lunch container came back empty, and he said they were good and I could pack them in his lunch again. They also freeze wonderfully. I have a batch in my freezer and I just pull them out as needed when I pack lunches the night before.
Despite all my best efforts to make lunches more interesting, Cole told me the other day that he's happy to have ham sandwiches every day. "Really?" I asked, "Every day? Won't you get bored?" He said to me, "No Mommy, don't be silly. I could never get bored of ham sandwiches." Good to know. I guess I don't have have to worry about being creative with school lunches anymore!
1 batch of flaxseed pizza dough
Pizza fillings of your choice (ie: ham, pineapple, peppers, tomato sauce and cheese)
Roll out the dough and cut into circles (you can use a large round cookie cutter, large cup or small bowl, or I used one of these: Progressive International 4-piece Dough Press Set). Place filling in the center of each circle, then fold the dough over and pinch it shut. Poke the top of the dough with a fork. Place on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake at 425F for about 15 minutes, or until tops are golden.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
When I eat a pumpkin cream cheese muffin, it always reminds me of when Cole was first born. It was September and the leaves were just starting to change, the mornings were becoming colder, but the last remnants of summer heat lingered in the afternoons. I used to take walks with my mom to Starbucks on those sunny afternoons, pushing the stroller with my new babe cozily tucked inside. He'd usually drift off for a nap on our way there, so we enjoyed our coffee and muffins while he slept beside us. That was the first time I remember eating pumpkin cream cheese muffins. I looked forward to those walks just so I could have one.
I know the blogosphere is not short on pumpkin cream cheese muffin recipes, but I happen to think this one is too good not to post. The filling is a little different than other recipes I've seen in that it has marshmallow creme instead of icing sugar. I think it makes a fluffier filling that tastes incredible, and it's so easy to make wih only two ingredients. You'll probably have some filling left over, and you'll be glad you do because it makes the best fruit dip ever. I actually first made it as fruit dip for a party and had some left so I put it in a muffin. That's how these muffins were born. Usually my family doesn't really care for muffins; I'll make a batch and no one ever finishes them all. I end up freezing the rest for later but the only person who seems to eat them is me. This time they had no problem polishing them all off. Tony likes them better than the Starbucks ones because he finds those more crumbly and have way too much cream cheese in them sometimes. When you make them yourself you can adjust the amount of filling to you preference. I used about half a tablespoon in each muffin, but if you really like the filling feel free to put more than that. There should be plenty of filling to do play around with the amounts if you want. I love the pepitas sprinkled on top (an idea I stole from the Starbucks version). It just makes them a little more interesting and lends a nice nutty flavour and crunch to them. They're a great fall treat to enjoy with coffee or tea, and they're also great for packing in lunches.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
1 (8oz) block of cream cheese
1 container (7 oz) of marshmallow creme
1 cup sugar
1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp flax seed meal
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds, unsalted)
Bring cream cheese to room temperature to soften. Beat together cream cheese and marshmallow cream until smooth. Place the refrigerator for 30 minutes or freezer for 10 minutes, just to firm it up a little.
In a large bowl, mix sugar, pumpkin, oil, vanilla and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients.
In greased muffin tins, fill half-full with batter. Add spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture in the center of each muffin. Then top with remaining batter to completely cover the filling. Spinkle with pepitas.
Bake at 375F for 20 minutes. Makes about 18 muffins.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Cole came home from daycare one day asking for alphabet soup. When I probed further, he explained it had to be red soup with alphabet noodles, just like he saw one of the other kids eating for lunch. "Oh!" I said as it dawned on me. "Do you mean Alphagetti?' His eyes lit up. "Yes, that's it!" he exclaimed. "Can you make it for dinner?" His big brown puppy-dog eyes stared up at me, pleading with me. How could I say no? The problem was that we didn't have any cans of Alphagetti in our cupboard. We did, however, happen to have alphabet noodles and tomato sauce on hand, so I made my own Alphagetti. I added a few healthy additions, like onions and grated carrot, to give it more substance and nutrition. I can confidently say that this is Cole's favourite meal. He often asks for it for dinner now, and will even ask for seconds...and even thirds! After dinner, he normally has a bath and then a bed-time snack, which is usually something like fruit or yogurt, but when I made this he actually asked for more alphagetti as his snack! It's such a shock, because Cole is notoriously fussy when it comes to dinner. I wouldn't say it's an exact clone of Alphagetti, but luckily Cole doesn't have much experience with the real thing so he accepted this recipe without a problem. I personally like this homemade version better, and I love that it's good for you with much less sodium than the canned variety and has some fresh vegetables snuck in there too.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 carrot, finely grated
1 can (680 ml) tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 cup uncooked alphabet noodles*
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic and carrot for about 3-5 minutes, until soft. Add tomato sauce, broth, sugar, worcestershire sauce, basil and oregano. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cook alphabet noodles in boiling water, according to package direction. Drain and set aside.
Remove tomato sauce from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until fairly smooth (you can skip this part if you'd rather have it chunky). Stir in the cooked alphabet noodles, cheese, and salt and pepper. Stir until cheese has melted through.
*If you can't find alphabet noodles at your local grocery store, try online at Amazon:
Eden Organic Vegetable Alphabets, 16-Ounce Packages (Pack of 6)Noodles and Pasta)