Pear Pancake

red pears

 

Pancakes seem like such a quick, easy meal. And they are, except for the mess. All those little batter drips that get cooked onto the stove top..ggrr.

and waiting for pancakes to cook – it’s like watching paint dry!

I’d rather just pour the whole thing into one big pan and cook it.

Like I did here.

No drips, no mess. And with the addition of sautéed pears and walnuts, this is looking  a smidge healthier than plain old pancakes.

red pear pancake

pear walnut pancake

pear walnut pancake

 

(recipe to follow)

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Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Bars

Were you a pool kid?

chocolate ice cream bars

I grew up at the pool. I remember refusing sunscreen, getting stung by bees, lots of skinned knees, and  that big wet spot on my shorts that was left behind from my swim suit.  We wore those pool-wounds like badges of honor -as proof that we were having fun.

And some days we were even allowed to pick a treat from the pool snack bar that gushed Choco Tacos’, Push Up Pops and Screwballs.

chocolate covered ice cream

And among a crowd of fancy frozen novelties were the old standbys -chocolate covered ice cream bars. So simple and understated, just like we were.

Here’s a refined but simple version of that snack bar classic.

chocolate and cream

Ingredients:

1 quart of vanilla ice cream
1 cup heavy cream

1 cup chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

chocolate sauce

Fill Popsicle molds with softened ice cream. Freeze several hours or overnight.

To make the chocolate sauce:

Pour the heavy cream into a small saucepan and heat on medium low. When warm, stir in the chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Allow to cool to room temp.

Gently remove the ice cream bars from the mold and arrange on a baking sheet lined with wax paper.

Using a spoon, pour the chocolate sauce onto the ice cream bar. Lay the bar back on the tray and freeze until firm.

the cutest cupcake ever

Ok, maybe not ever. But as far as baked goods in pots go, it’s pretty cute.

flower pot cupcakes

Here are the directions for making the cupcake segment.

All you need after that is one  mammoth bag of butter cream frosting and a few skewers with tiny paper flowers attached.

flower pot cupcakes

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Homemade Freeze Pops

homemade freeze pops

Let’s face it, most food that comes in tubes are not healthy.

*But it’s a fact that kids love to eat frozen food from a tube.

(*indicates that it is not really a fact and more of an observation)

homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-3homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-4

Luckily, there is an alternative to those sugar laced freezable yogurt tubes…

You can make your own and freeze them in small ziplock bags and your kids won’t even notice because they are just so happy to be eating sans silverware.

homemade freeze pops (2 of 1)-8

Homemade Freezer Pops

This being more of a technique than a recipe, the flavor possibilities are endless and they are super fast and easy to make.

Supplies:

Blender

Snack sized ziplock bags

baking sheet

tape

Ingredients for natural yogurt pops

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup raspberries (mangoes, strawberries, pineapple or peaches can be substituted)

1/2 cup orange juice or pineapple juice

2 frozen bananas

1 Tablespoon maple syrup ( or more to taste)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Puree all ingredients in a blender and pour about 1/3 cup into each ziplock bag. Gently press the air out of the bag and seal. Fold the sealed edge over and secure with a piece of tape. lay flat on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bags and freeze for 3-4 hours. When ready to eat, snip one end of the bag.

Chocolate Flower Pot Cakes

I grant you full permission to eat one of these healthy chocolate cakes for breakfast on the grounds that…

 

chocolate flower pot cakes

most of the butter and sugar were replaced with a heaping scoop of speckled mashed bananas.

flower pot cakes

Leaving a perfectly balanced and perfectly cute partner to your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

coffee

And wouldn’t they make a totally awesome gift or spring party favor?

flower pot cakes

Chocolate Banana Cake Pots

Recipe adapted from Betty Groff’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup mashed banana

1 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup brewed coffee

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Before you start baking, wash and dry the terra-cotta planters and be sure to remove any stickers. Line the pots with parchment paper or lotus cup liners. The 3 1/2 inch planters are the closest size to standard cupcakes, but larger ones can be used, too.

Directions

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

1.Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add in the eggs, one at a time until smooth and fluffy.Beat in the yogurt and bananas.

2.In a separate bowl,  blend together the salt, flours, baking soda and cocoa powder.

3.Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and beat well.

4.Beat in the coffee.

5. Pour the batter into terra cotta planters no more than 2/3rds full.

6. For 3 inch pots, bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. ( increase baking times for larger pots)

flower pot cakes

 

 

 

 

loaded veggie calzone

veggie calzone (3 of 1)

If I was going to write sarcastic e-cards on Facebook, here are some examples of what they would say:

  • I love when I can see the smile lines on my cheeks even when I am not smiling. Said no one ever.
  • I love when my child has a diaper blow out in the middle of the grocery store and a substantial amount of poop ends up on my sleeve. Said no one ever.
  • I love when I order a veggie calzone from a pizza shop and there are only faint signs of vegetable existence buried in a mound of cheese and dough. Said no one ever.

(Ok, so they need some work. Sarcasm is not my strong suit)

veggie calzone (1 of 1)

I think pizza shops put veggie calzones on the menu, but they don’t ever expect anyone to order it because if you’re ordering from a pizza shop, you are probably not really concerned with your vegetable intake in that particular meal. Or maybe they consider the tomato sauce to be a vegetable?  Either way, I am concerned with my vegetable intake, and I want veggies in my calzone. But I ‘m not gonna make a fuss about it. I’m just going to make my own.

veggie calzone

And here it is… it’s a medley of unpretentious and fragrant vegetables like marinated artichokes, garlicky sautéed spinach and meaty mushrooms. All finished with a generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper and tomato sauce.

Loaded Veggie Calzone

1 pound of fresh pizza dough

Olive oil

1 bag of baby spinach

1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms

1 cup diced peppers

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup chopped marinated artichokes

Tomato sauce for dipping

1 cup shredded mozzarella, Parmesan or provolone

1 egg, beaten

Bring the dough to room temperature and set out on a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll the dough out into a flat disc and place on a greased baking sheet.

Prepare the veggies:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute and add the peppers. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spinach on top of the veggies and gently wilt.

Fill one side of the calzone dough with the sautéed veggies and fold over. Using a fork, press down on the edges to seal the dough pocket. Poke a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape, and using a pastry brush; brush the top with the egg wash.

You will probably have some extra veggies that didn’t fit into the calzones. But this is good, because you can eat them alongside your calzone. Honestly, why don’t pizza shops do that?

Classic French Toast with Cinnamon Vanilla Butter Compound

So it’s Sunday morning and the troops are STARVINNNNGGGG!! All you wanna do is cozy up with a cup of coffee and catch up on current events, but everyone is soooo hungry, so you trudge over to the stove and make this…

french toast

Classic French Toast with Cinnamon Vanilla Butter. This is the best sort of breakfast for those days. It’s the “here’s a big plate of food and a pile of forks… so have at it “kind of food.

french toast with cinnamon vanilla butter

When you taste this while your still in your half-cup coffee coma, you might possibly start to go giddy like a group of gas-passing toddlers.

Why passing gas is so funny, I will never understand.

But I do understand that this cinnamon vanilla butter has the power to magically awaken you and your taste buds so much that you will forget that you didn’t even finish your cup of coffee. And your previous caffeine addiction will now be converted to a cinnamon vanilla butter addiction.

Don’t blame me.

Blame the butter.

And the cinnamon.

Classic French Toast

Adapted from William Sonoma

For those of you that have a fear of soggy bread (I know I can’t possibly be the only one). This is not just soggy bread. Trust me; I would not lie about something as seriously gross as soggy bread.

Soaking the stale baguette in the mixture for a few minutes allows the bread to absorb the eggs for a custardy center, but the crust remains slightly chewy and crispy.

Ingredients

1 stale baguette

4 eggs

2 cups milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

Pinch salt

Butter, as needed for greasing the pan

Directions

Slice the baguette on a slight angle about an inch thick.

In a large shallow glass or ceramic baking dish, mix together the eggs, milk, sugar, salt and vanilla. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer in the egg mixture. Soak the slices for 5-7 minutes, then flip them and soak for another 5-7 minutes.

Melt a pat of butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side on medium-low heat.

Serve with cinnamon vanilla butter compound and syrup.

Cinnamon Vanilla Butter Compound

1/2 stick butter, softened

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon of confectioner sugar

In a medium-sized bowl, blend all ingredients with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated.

(Or you could make it from scratch by substituting the butter for 1 pint of heavy whipping cream and these directions.)

french toast

pizza napoletana with fresh arugula

pizza napoletana with fresh arugula

pizza napolentana with arugula

pizza napolentana with arugula

 

This is the real deal. Pizza Napolentana is the holy grail of pizza; the purest, most celebrated pizza in the world. Pizza tends to get lumped into the junk-food/ take out category, and most of it deserves to be there, but not this one. And although the ingredients seem like a bit of a splurge, with the San Marzano tomatoes weighing it at almost 4 dollars a can, you can make this up for not much more than you would spend on your take out order.

dough (1 of 1)

I do recommend patience and a glass of wine. Especially if you are like me and you let your kid’s help you make it. You know, in case a handful of flour ends up on the floor or dough ends up in someone’s hair.

making pizza with kids

Which it inevitably will.

But you won’t care because you’re drinking wine and eating great pizza!!

pizza (1 of 1)

Pizza Napolentana with Fresh Arugula

True Nepalese pizza has a thin, crispy exterior with a light but chewy interior, all while maintaining enough crust strength to hold the medley of rich creamy buffalo mozzarella and bittersweet San Marzano tomatoes.

You can sub in cow’s milk if you can’t find buffalo mozzarella, but the San Marzano tomatoes are what make this really great, and without them you just have ordinary pizza. I sprinkle a few handfuls of this casually dressed arugula salad on top instead of the traditional fresh basil because my kids love it.

If a kid asks for salad on top of their pizza, who am I to say no?

Ingredients

1 pound of pizza dough

8 oz. of fresh mozzarella

1 16 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes (you will only need about half of the can)

Arugula Salad

5 oz. arugula, washed and dried

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shaved

Salt and pepper

Whisk olive oil into lemon juice until emulsified. Add parmesan cheese and toss with arugula. Set aside.

Directions for the Pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring the dough to room temp. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out thin as thin as you can and lay it out on a pizza stone. Using your hands or a pastry brush, brush a thin coating of olive oil on the surface of the dough. Bake for 3-4 minutes, until the dough has set, but not browned at all.

Remove the crust and switch the oven to the broil setting.

On the hot crust, add the tomatoes and then layer on a few slices of mozzarella. Broil until the cheese becomes slightly golden and begins to bubble, about 4 minutes (Watch very carefully, as oven temps vary greatly) Remove from oven and finish with salt, pepper and brush the crust with olive oil. Top with a handful of arugula salad.

Remember to turn the oven back to the 450 degree bake setting to make the next pizza.

 

 

 

Strawberry Vanilla Butter Compound

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists.

-Joan Gussow

I am sad to say sayonara to strawberry season of 2012. It was a good run, and  I have but one pint of fresh picked strawberries left. I strategically hid them from my children, who will go to great lengths building makeshift ladders to the kitchen counter, spotting any berries left unattended. But this last little pint of puny berries were destined for something great. Something unusually simple that could transform a piece of toast is something extraordinary. Something like Strawberry-Vanilla Butter.

Now I could just whip the berries up with 2 sticks of good quality butter, or I could go ahead and make it from scratch. There are certain things in life that must be tried and tasted at least once. Homemade butter is one of them.

Here’s what to do:

1 pint of fresh cream (the better the cream, the better your butter will be. I love Seven Stars Heavy Whipping Cream, available at Kimberton Whole Foods.)

½ cup of fresh strawberries, chopped

2-3 Tbls Maple syrup

Salt to taste

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean pod

Pour the cream in a stand mixer and beat on medium. After about 5 minutes or so, the cream will inevitably turn into whipped cream, at which point you can stop the mixer, scoop out a few spoonful’s and eat this while you continue to make your butter. (this step is optional)

Now, turn the mixer back on, and in about 5 minutes, the cream will start to separate into chunks and buttermilk will be splashing around the bowl.

Scoop the butter out and put it into a sieve to drain out the buttermilk. Prepare an ice bath, (bowl of cold water with a few ice cubes) and drop the butter in the cold water to completely rinse out the buttermilk. Work the butter a bit, to squeeze out all the liquid.

Wipe the mixer clean and return the butter back to the mixer. Add the berries, vanilla bean seeds, salt and maple syrup. Mix until incorporated. This butter lasts about a week in the fridge. If you roll it into a log and wrap it in wax paper and aluminum, it will last about 2 months in the freezer.