Posts tagged ‘kids’

April 26, 2012

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s Teacher Appreciation Day at my daughter’s school today, and ever since I found out her teacher is vegan I’ve wanted to whip up some tasty sweets for the fearless leader of her classroom. Now, I had the perfect excuse. In addition to the Grain- and Dairy-Free Breakfast Bars I wrote about in October, I decided to make these Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. A cookie that’s sweet and savory—is there a better combination? Plus, I like that you get a nice punch of protein from the peanut butter, making it almost good for you. With the grain-free recipe, you lose the flour and pack in even more protein from almond and peanut flour.

I first made these cookies last week when I found the recipe on Elana’s Pantry. If you’re on a gluten- or grain-free diet, you should bookmark the site. Elana has come up with some amazing gluten-free recipes for baked goods. Almost always, they’re tasty and straightforward. Last time, I made the cookies with butter (even though Elana’s recipe is vegan and called for vegan palm oil shortening)and added the chocolate chips. The kids loved, loved it! And so did I. This time, I substituted coconut oil to make it vegan for S’s teacher. They’re just as scrumptious, and the kids couldn’t tell the difference. With just 1/4 cup honey, 2 TB of butter or coconut oil and gluten-free, I’ve decided they’re healthy enough to serve as a mid-day and after-school snack. After the kids descended on these cookies, I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough left for S’s teacher. Try them, try them and you will see!

** If your child has a peanut allergy, consider making these with almond butter or sunflower seed butter.

 

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from ElanasPantry.com’s Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies)

Makes 12 – 16 cookies.

Ingredients

1 cup blanched almond flour (or 1/2 cup peanut flour and 1/2 cup almond flour)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup roasted peanut butter

1/4 cup honey or agave nectar

2 TB coconut oil or butter or palm oil shortening

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients: almond/peanut flour, salt and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, mix together wet ingredients (peanut butter, honey, coconut oil and vanilla extract) with a hand blender.

Blend dry ingredient into wet until well combined.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop dough 1 TB at a time onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 6 – 12 minutes until golden brown around the edges.

 

 

April 23, 2012

Italian Wedding Soup

I’ve always loved a piping-hot bowl of Italian Wedding Soup, but I had never found the right recipe. Until now. I scoured the Web and combined a little bit of this one with a little bit of that one, added a few more vegetables and voila—it was perfection. Everyone had seconds and asked me to make it again.

I started by sauteeing a container of mirepoix from Trader Joe’s, which is basically chopped carrots, onions and celery, in olive oil. Pre-chopped vegetables for a good stock is just what I needed on a rushed day. Then, I added 8 cups of low-sodium chicken broth, plus 1 can of cannellini beans and a the heel of a wedge of Parmesan cheese. I let it simmer for a about 15 minutes and then I added the meatballs.

For the meatballs, I combined:

1 lb. of lean ground beef

1/2 lb. ground mild Italian sausage

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

2  tsp minced garlic

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup bread crumbs (leave out if you’re GF)

I shaped them into mini meatballs and dropped them into the simmering broth until they were cooked through. Lastly, I turned off the heat and stirred in a bag of baby spinach. You could substitute endive or Swiss chard, but you’d have to increase your cooking time. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

April 12, 2012

Would You Let Your Child Pack Her Own Lunch?

Last night, I got too involved with Katniss and Peeta. It was past midnight and I was still trying to figure out if there was any way they would both make it out of the Quarter Quell alive. Yep, I’m talking about the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. As a result, I didn’t get out of bed until 6 this morning. When I stumbled down the stairs, I found S packing her own lunch. A first, for sure.

Here’s what I found:

A gluten-free bagel with Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Spread (It’s basically Nutella, but made with almonds instead of hazelnuts.) and bananas. That’s almost healthy, right? Gluten-free and with fruit? LOL. To her credit, she also packed a pear, a granola bar and water. It’s certainly not the lunch I would have made for her, but she saved me the trouble of packing a lunch. For that, she got a big hug and the right to eat what she made. Had I known I didn’t have to make lunch, I would’ve kept sleeping.

Here’s the funny part: when I picked her up from school this afternoon, she told me the chocolate spread and bagel “tasted rotten.” After one bite, she decided to eat only the bananas. I was so floored I almost drove off the road. Now that Nutella sandwiches are off her radar, I clearly need to come up with some sort of arrangement with her so I can sleep in while she makes her own lunch. At least until I’m done with the Hunger Games trilogy.

Would you let your child eat whatever he/she packed for lunch?

April 5, 2012

Sweet Sandwich Ideas

I know it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted, so I wanted to start back up with something fun. I’m in New York City this week and came across some sweet sandwich ideas at the much ballyhooed Dylan’s Candy Bar. Check out this menu and let me know if you’d try any of these at home.

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February 29, 2012

Light, Lazy Lunch

 

This was one of those mornings I would have rather washed dishes and vacuumed the house than pack lunches. When I feel that way, I grab the LunchBots containers and silicon muffin liners. I line each with six red cups and start looking in the fridge and pantry for anything that I can drop into the liners. Today, I found baby carrots, kalamata olives, hardboiled eggs, string cheese, strawberries, sweet potato chips and gluten-free animal cookies. C is a lighter eater than S, so I added some sliced pastrami to S’s container. Lunch was packed in just a few minutes, and in the process I even managed to clean out some bags from the pantry and jars from the refrigerator.

I know this is a lot like the Tapas Lunch I posted a few months back. But this morning I filled it with different food items. That counts as a different lunch, doesn’t it?

 

February 23, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Grilled Chicken

Leftovers! I love leftovers, because it makes packing lunch a cinch. Last night’s quinoa salad and grilled chicken went straight from my Pyrex dish in the fridge into S’s LunchBots container.

Quinoa is a high-protein, gluten-free grain (actually, a seed) that’s easy to make and very versatile. I had a plethora of cucumbers and grape tomatoes, so I decided to go Greek with the quinoa salad. I like to make quinoa in my rice cooker because it’s perfect every time and I don’t have to think about it once I hit “Cook.” After letting it cool, I tossed it with finely chopped cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes, minced flat-leaf parsley and red onion, chopped and pitted Kalamata olives, and crumbled feta. Then I made a vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and dried oregano. I gently mixed it all together and let it chill in the fridge, while I grilled chicken breasts that were marinated in pesto.

Along with the quinoa salad, I packed some carrots, fruit and blue corn chips.  All done and all gluten-free.

February 21, 2012

Zucchini Patties with Feta

I’m always looking for ways to use up zucchinis, especially in the summer when they’re in season, so when I came across this recipe I had to try it. I couldn’t wait for the summer. And I’m glad I did, because C ate three in a sitting. S was lukewarm on them, telling me she prefers spinach patties. Oh, well. You can’t please everyone all of the time.

I bought so many zucchinis that I ended up doubling the Epicurious recipe.  To make it gluten-free, I simply substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour for the regular wheat flour. Other than that, it calls for eggs, feta cheese, green onions (which I subbed with sautéed white onions and garlic) and fresh parsley and dill. I left out the dill, because I wasn’t sure the kids would like it. Instead, I minced and stirred it into the Greek yogurt dipping sauce that accompanies the zucchini cakes. As it turns out, the kids loved the dill in the yogurt. Next time, I’ll definitely mix it into the patties. I may also try it with Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, instead of the feta.

We had them as side dish with dinner, and the next morning C asked for them for breakfast. Even though S thought they were just meh, I packed them in her lunch. I froze the rest, so I could have an easy, healthy snack on hand.

CLICK HERE for the Zucchini Patties with Feta recipe.

 

February 16, 2012

Five Under 5: Meatball Sliders

Okay, I admit I’m cheating a bit with this post. But you really could make this with less than five ingredients—if you bought pre-made meatballs and sauce. Friends have told me that the turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s are quite tasty. And there are a number of jarred sauces on supermarket shelves that are winners. I had a few meatballs left over from the batch of 100 I made months ago. I warmed them up in some sauce (confession: I made my own) and put a little slice of fresh mozzarella over the top of the meatball. I lightly toasted some mini hamburger buns and pieced it all together.

1 – Mini hamburger buns

2 – Meatballs

3 – Marinara sauce

4 – Fresh mozzarella

I packed the sliders with some baby carrots, cucumbers and a banana. These sliders would be great for dinner, too.

In doggie news, my sweet German Shepherd is feeling much better after chemotherapy and some prednisone. She’s finally eating and wagging her tail again. Keep your fingers crossed that remission is on its way and that it’ll be a long one.

February 13, 2012

Valentine’s Day Cookies – Just Say No to Red #40

I love Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and I especially love baking for both holidays. But I detest artificial food coloring. I won’t go into the myriad reasons why it’s awful,  unnecessary, and  should be banned. But I do want to make you aware of all the places it shows up. Yes, it’s on virtually every birthday cake your child will eat. Plus, it’s in rainbow-colored goldfish crackers, most candies, maraschino cherries, jello, popsicles, commercial breakfast bars, and those gummy fruit-flavored snacks that are somehow passing for fruit. Food coloring also sneaks its way into children’s Tylenol and Ibuprofen, as well as the majority of toothpastes.

With that said, my kids are no different than anyone else’s. They love colorful icing, sprinkles and candies. And while I appreciate how beautiful desserts can look with artificial food dye, I want nothing to do with eating them. As for S and C, that’s another story. To satisfy the whimsy in my kids and me, I decided to make my own red food coloring—from beets. And you know what? It worked! Plus, it was super easy.

                                      

I always have beets on hand because of my CSA, so I decided to slice one beet into four slices and steam it with a 1/3 cup water. You have to be careful not to let the water burn off, so add more water as you steam, if necessary. After about 15 minutes, I had a beautiful deep red liquid in my pan. I added about a tablespoon of it to my icing and voila it all turned pink. Since beets are naturally sweet, it didn’t impart an unusual taste to the icing. I was happy and the kids were ecstatic, because their mom was going to let them frost the cookies and eat them, too! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Pink Icing (made from beet juice)

1/2 stick butter, at room temperature

1 lb. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Beet juice

milk

Beat butter with powdered sugar until well blended. Add vanilla and beet juice. When you’ve achieved the desired color, add milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency. Spread over cookies, cake or cupcakes.

February 9, 2012

Five under 5: Pesto Burger

It’s pesto—again! I had no idea how much S and C love it. I knew they liked it in their pasta, but they seem to like it anywhere and everywhere. Today, I packed S a leftover pesto bison burger from last night’s dinner. I had mixed two heaping tablespoons of pesto with one pound of ground bison. I shaped them into five patties and cooked them in a cast iron skillet. I topped each patty with a slice of fresh mozzarella and let the cheese get nice and soft. Then, I toasted a couple of Par-Baked Panini Rustic Rolls (a new Trader Joe’s find!) and spread each side with more pesto. I topped the rolls with some spinach leaves and a few slices of red bell pepper. On the side, I served grape tomatoes, carrots, and sweet-potato chips. S begged to have it again for lunch today. Easy enough—and with just five ingredients.

I may have to take a short hiatus from blogging. My beloved German Shepherd, Zoe, has been diagnosed with lymphoma. She was our first baby (we got her when she was just 8 weeks), and has been a sweet, loyal friend for more than 12 years. While there are still lunches to pack, I’d like to make time in the mornings to take her to Dog Beach and the wilderness preserve, making her last days as happy as possible.

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