Off The Shelf: May Magazines

Well, our month has not gone quite as planned so this will be a shorter review and it’s later than we intended (my fault completely!). It’s wonderful to see the spring and summer recipes featuring seasonal vegetables and fruits! Perhaps inspiration will once again return to kitchens everywhere.

FOOD NETWORK (Alaina)- This wasn’t my favorite issue of Food Network but still, they have so many recipes and so much variety. The Jumbo Maple Pecan Scone, Poppy Seed Potato Salad, Stawberry Blondies, and Sage Limeade were a few of the recipes that looked interesting and tasty! 

However, my kids are big fans of chocolate milk and it is definitely a treat. So, I decided to make the Salted Chocolate Milk. The homemade chocolate syrup could be used as a sauce for all kinds of desserts. This was rich and delicious! The salt was a wonderful addition that brought out the chocolate goodness. This totally made me feel like a kid again!

SALTED CHOCOLATE MILK
Print This Recipe

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups cold milk
Kosher salt

Make the chocolate syrup: Combine the sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool completely.

Spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the chocolate syrup into each glass. Add 1 1/2 cups milk and a generous pinch of salt. Stir until the syrup and salt dissolve.

COOKING LIGHT – (Stephanie) I never know each month whether or not I’ll find many recipes I’m excited to try within the pages of Cooking Light. This month’s issue had several tasty sounding recipes. As I’m trying to learn to enjoy shrimp, I was pleased to find a couple new shrimp recipes: Shrimp Cobb Salad and Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli. There was also a section with assorted muffin recipes–Bacon-Cheddar Corn Muffins, Cherry-Wheat Germ Muffins, Tuscan Lemon Muffins, Pistachio-Chai Muffins–don’t those sound interesting and delicious? I also thought the Ancho Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cream sounded yummy.

I decided to try the Strawberry-Avocado Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips. I love fresh salsas and the flavor combination in this one intrigued me. I enjoyed this, though unfortunately forgot to buy fresh cilantro and jalapenos, so I used dried instead. If you’re looking for a quick, seasonal snack, give this easy recipe a try.

STRAWBERRY-AVOCADO SALSA WITH CINNAMON TORTILLA CHIPS
(from Cooking Light, May 2011)
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2 teaspoon canola oil
6 6-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup finely chopped, peeled ripe avocado (about 2)
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
2 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon minced seeded jalapeno
2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To prepare chips, brush oil evenly over one side of each tortilla. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over oil-coated sides of tortillas. Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges; arrange wedges in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes until crisp.

Combine avocado, strawberries, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt; stir gently to combine. Serve with chips. 12 servings.

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Kids in the Kitchen: Chicken Strips

My boys absolutely LOVE helping me cook and it’s a great bonding activity! Recently we did a kids’ pick night. We pulled out all of our kid cookbooks and each boy chose a recipe. We went to the store for the ingredients we needed which they also really enjoyed! The menu was Crunchy Oven-Baked Chicken Toes, roated asparagus (my choice), ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins), angel food cupcakes, and cherry punch. They helped with each part of the dinner and very proudly told my husband what was for dinner when he got home. It was a great evening!  

The chicken toes were so delicious and the dipping sauce (so sorry it isn’t pictured!) was excellent. The boys loved helping to get the chicken ready for the oven – the messy hands were a fun bonus for them. 🙂

CRUNCHY OVEN-BAKED CHICKEN TOES!
(adapted from Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids)
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1 c. corn flakes cereal, any brand
1 c. plain bread crumbs
2 Tb. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. allspice
3 Tb. oil
1/3 c. flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 lb. chicken breast tenders (you can cut these into 2 inch pieces but we left them as whole tenders)
1/4 c. honey mustard (I make mine with mayo, honey, and dijon)
1/4 c. barbecue sauce

Make the breading: Pour the corn flakes into a pie pan or shallow dish. Crush the cereal up with your hands. Mix in bread crumbs, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and allspice.

Drizzle the vegetable oil evenly over the breading. Toss and turn it to mix the oil all through the bread crumbs and crushed-up corn flakes.

Pour the flour into another shallow dish, and the beaten eggs into a third dish. Coat (dip) the chicken in flour, then eggs, and then in the special crunchy breading. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet coated with nonstick spray.  Place the chicken in the oven and cook until crisp and brown all over, about 20 minutes (until juices run clear).

Mix together the honey mustard and barbecue sauce in a small bowl. Enjoy with your chicken toes!

Superbowl Snack: Peanut Butter and Jelly Popcorn

To be honest, I wasn’t initially excited about the idea of “peanut butter and jelly popcorn” when this recipe first crossed my inbox. But, the novelty of the idea caught me and since I love food experimentation, I couldn’t help but try this recipe. That’s when I discovered that this popcorn is addictive. Yes, it is. It was nearly as good as caramel corn, but with far less sugar and only a few minutes of time invested. It’s my new favorite.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY POPCORN
(adapted from the Cook It Quick Newsletter)
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1 large bowl of popped popcorn (probably 2 bags of microwave popcorn)
3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp. grape jelly (or jelly/jam of your choice — I used strawberry jam)
2 Tbsp. butter

Melt peanut butter, jelly, and butter together in microwave or over low heat.

Pour over popcorn and toss evenly to coat.

Serves 4-6.

Snow Day Must: Marshmallows

We thought this post from Heather was perfect to include today after the hot cocoa yesterday! Homemade marshmallow & cocoa is a wonderful winter treat!

Homemade marshmallows are a new discovery for me and now I can’t sing their praises often enough! Their soft, squidgy texture keeps the store-bought type from even entering the competition. Next time you have a snow day, you must give these a try!

The marshmallows do take at least 2 hours to “firm up”, so be sure to allow yourself enough time for that before you begin.

HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
Print this recipe

Nonstick cooking spray

3 (1/4-ounce) packages unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for coating
  •  

  • Lightly spray a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water; let stand for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Place saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and, with the mixer on high, slowly pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into gelatin mixture. Add salt and continue mixing for 12 minutes.

     

    Add vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Spray a rubber spatula or your hands with cooking spray. Spread gelatin mixture evenly into pan using prepared spatula or your hands. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, spray side down, on top of marshmallows. Let stand for 2 hours.

     

    Carefully remove marshmallows from pan. Remove all plastic wrap and discard. Cut marshmallows into 2-inch squares using a sprayed sharp knife. Place confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Working in batches, add marshmallows to bowl and toss to coat. Marshmallows can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

    Makes about 16.

    Kids in the Kitchen: Snowmen

    I saw this cute snowmen idea in Midwest Living and had to make them for my kids who just loved them! You need:

    vanilla ice-cream
    string licorice
    chocolate chips
    regular sized marshmallows
    a candy kiss or maraschino cherry for the hat

    Place 1/4 cup chocolate chips in a freezer ziplock bag and immerse in hot water until chips are melted. Snip the tip of the ziplock bag and squeeze eyes, nose and mouth onto a marshmallow.

    Scoop ice-cream onto plates, two scoops per plate, arranged on top of each other. Place chocolate chips on for buttons and set marshmallow head on top. “Glue” cherry or chocolate kiss to marshmallow with more of the melted chocolate chips.

    Stick in licorice arms.

    Kids in the Kitchen: Owl Cookies

    *I’m so excited that Heather is back to share this post with us!!!*

    I just happened to see these adorable owl cookies on Food Gawker recently and knew immediately they were the perfect thing to bake together with my six-year-old son. Before the day was up we had our own batch of owls perched in our kitchen. They were easier to make than I thought and the kids loved them!

    Hoot Owl Cookies
    (adapted from My Diverse Kitchen)
    Print this recipe

    12 Tbsp.  butter
    1 cup light brown sugar
    1 unbeaten egg
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
    1/4 tsp baking soda
    white chocolate chips (or dark), for the eyes of the owls
    whole cashew nuts (preferably unsalted and not roasted)

    In a bowl, using a hand held mixer, cream the butter and sugar till soft and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat well.

    Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the butter mixture and mix well to form a softish dough. (Note: I had to add about 1 tsp. of water to get my dough to come together.)

    Melt the semi-sweet chocolate over warm water and allow to cool slightly.

    Take 2/3rds of the dough out of the bowl and set it aside. Add the baking soda to the melted chocolate, stir well and add it to the 1/3rd portion dough which is in the bowl. Knead this well so that you have a brown coloured dough with no streaks visible. Chill both doughs for about 1/2 an hour to make the dough easy to work with. (Note: my dough was workable enough I didn’t need to chill it.)

    Take the light coloured dough and divide into 2 equal portions. Also similarly divide the chocolate dough into 2 portions and roll each portion into a long cylinder/ rope shape about 10” long. Set aside.

    Cut out a piece of wax paper (approx. 12” by 6”). Place one piece of light coloured dough in the centre of the piece of paper and roll it out into 10” by 4” rectangle. Place one chocolate dough cylinder/ rope in the centre of this rectangle.

    Using the paper, wrap the light coloured rectangle of dough around the chocolate one from both sides. Your dough should now look like a long roll of light coloured dough with the chocolate dough in the center. Wrap the wax paper around the roll.

    Repeat this with the other half of both doughs, and chill both rolls of dough for at least 2 hours or even overnight. (Note: we chilled ours in the freezer for about 15 minutes.)

    When ready to bake the cookies, remove the wax paper and slice each roll of dough into 1/4” thick slices and place them on lined baking sheets.

    For each owl, press two slices together to form a face. Pinch, or shape the outer corners of each slice to form “ears” and push an upside down chocolate chip in to the centre of each slice to make “eyes”. Press a whole cashew nut between the slices, with pointed side down to make a “beak”. Repeat with all the slices.

    Do leave some space on the cookie sheets between “owls” as the will swell up and become larger as they bake. Bake the owl cookies at 350F for about 10 to 15 minutes till the edges of the cookies start becoming brown.

    Cool the cookies on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then carefully remove them racks to cool completely

    This recipe makes 2-3 dozen owl cookies.

    Off The Shelf: Bean Appetit

    Bean Appetit by Shannon Payette Seip, Kelly Parthen, and Carisa Dixon is a captivating cookbook for children. Its goal is to get kids excited about healthy eating. It certainly did just that for my daughter who couldn’t wait to try out several of these recipes.

    The chapters cover topics such as: breakfast, snacks, going to the market, outdoor eating, food art, cooking-themed birthday party, winter food, summer food, international food, tea party, and book-themed food. There are activities and games interspersed with the recipes, making for a very fun book.

    We tried the Stick Stacks and the Stack ‘N’ Sip — both were much enjoyed by my children (not to mention me!).

    STACK ‘N’ SIP
    (Bean Appetit)
    Print this recipe

    Make 3 different colored smoothies. Pour one color in the bottom of a glass. Layer the second smoothie on top. Add a top layer using the final smoothie. It’s a triple-decker drink!

    Note: We used blueberry, banana, and strawberry smoothies.

    STICK STACKS
    (Bean Appetit)
    Print this recipe

    1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    3 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
    1 Tbsp. baking powder
    2 Tbsp. flax meal
    pinch of ground cinnamon
    3 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 Tbsp. butter, softened
    1 cup milk
    4 strawberries, cut widthwise into slices
    2 kiwis, peeled and sliced widthwise into circles
    1/4 cup blueberries (we used blackberries)

    maple syrup, for serving

    Chant “Pancakes! Pancakes!” as you combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, flax meal, and cinnamon.

    Combine the eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and milk. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until smooth. Chill in the freezer for 5 minutes.

    Preheat a griddle to low. Lightly spray the griddle with nonstick spray. Ladle the pancake mixture onto the griddle to make 2-inch mini pancakes.

    When the pancakes start to bubble lightly and the edges turn golden brown, flip them over. all the bitty bakers should flip around the kitchen, as if they were just flipped with a spatula. Cook on the other side for 1 to 2 more minutes, until the pancakes come off the griddle easily with a spatula.

    Layer the pancakes and fruit on the skewers. Dip in maple syrup and eat one layer at a time.

    Makes 12 to 14 mini pancakes.

    Note: This post contains affiliate links.

    Kids in the Kitchen: Applesauce Cake

    My boys love it when I invite them to help make something in the kitchen. Their eyes light up as they eagerly scrub their hands and get ready to help. They generally get along well and bend over backwards to take turns. I think cooking with kids is a great way to build relationships, teach skills, and create appreciation for all that goes into food preparation. And we always have a great time!


    This cake was so fun – it’s all mixed up in the pan so both of the boys had a chance to stir it.


    They were so proud of their handiwork and they really liked eating this cake, too!

    CRAZY APPLESAUCE CAKE

    1 1/2 c. flour (white or whole wheat)
    1/3 c. sugar or honey
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. cloves
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    3/4 c. applesauce
    1/2 c. water
    1/3 c. butter, melted
    1/2 c. raisins
    1/2 c. nuts, chopped (we used pecans)

    Mix dry ingredients in a greased 8×8 or 9×9 pan. Add the wet ingredients and stir with a fork until combined. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool and serve.

    This is wonderful as is or you could dress it up with a soft whipped cream (add a little cinnamon and sugar) or for an adult dessert, a rum sauce.