The only clear winner in tomorrow’s election is…

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-6-21-40-pm

soooo much stress eating

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Recipe: Toddler Muffins

All the whole-grain, none of the gluten OR the mess. Easy to make, easy to eat. We all need more easy in our lives!

Toddler Muffins

adapted from Oatmeal Banana Muffins at Eat Drink Pretty)muffins_edited
yields 48 mini muffins, which freeze and reheat beautifully

Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Lightly grease a mini muffin pan with cooking spray or use liners.

In the bowl of a large food processor, grind 2.5 cups old-fashioned oats until fine.

Add the following dry ingredients into the food processor and pulse a few times:

  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 0.5 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 0.5 cup sugar

Finally, add the following wet ingredients into the food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed:

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 cup plain Greek yogurt (regular yogurt works too, but I like the protein in Greek)
  • 0.25 cup canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Use a small ladle or big spoon to fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full.
Bake 10-20* minutes, or until the tops turn a bit golden and spring back when touched.

*Point of contention: Original recipe recommended cooking them for “8-10 minutes.” But mine always take 20-22 minutes. I cook two 24-cup mini muffin pans at the same time. So if you’re baking in smaller or fewer pans, maybe it will take less time?

In any case, when your muffins are done, cool them for a few minutes in the pans, then remove and cool completely before freezing.. Store in airtight container on counter or in fridge.

Variations:

  • Use 0.5 cup less oatmeal (so only 2 cups) and add 0.5 cup fruit or vegetables (fresh, defrosted-frozen, or rehydrated-dried) such as blueberries, dates, raisins, or carrots.
  • You can substitute applesauce for the oil, but (1) kids need fat and (2) the bit of oil gives the muffins a better texture and easier release from the pan.
  • You can probably substitute most sweeteners for the sugar.

Backstory

About the time the boys turned a year old, they got really into self-feeding. Which is a nice way of saying that pretty much overnight, they began flatly, and loudly, refusing everything I offered them on a spoon.

And pretty much overnight, I got really REALLY sick of the mess created by their attempts to self-spoon their morning oatmeal.

Then, from somewhere in the foggy depths of my memory, I remembered the baked oatmeal that KK used to eat almost every day.

I could make something like that for the boys! No more oatmeal hairdos before 8am!

HALLELUJAH.

2014.09.15 Felix try muffins first time (1)

This is the recipe that has evolved over the last few mess-free months. We make a batch of muffins (48 minis) every week or so. They’ll each eat 3 or 4 muffins most mornings. The hardest part of making these is timing the ripening of the bananas, because the grocery stores seem to specialize in stocking only the greenest they can find.

I use two Kitchenaid 24-cup silicone mini muffin pans (thrifted), I can’t find the exact ones, but they look like this. The silicone makes it really easy to pop the muffins out, and there’s no need for paper liners. They’re also easy to clean, either by hand or in the dishwasher.

emerson eating muffins

 

Recipe: Super Baked Oatmeal

For starters, it’s not the most photogenic food.

baked oatmeal in a glass baking dish

But I’m not going to apologize, because this super baked oatmeal is KK’s new favorite breakfast.

She likes it because it’s healthful and keeps her full until lunch time.

I like it because:

  • I can make our breakfasts for the week in about 15 minutes.
  • It’s gluten free (when you use gf oats, etc)
  • It’s customizable enough that I can change the flavor profile and not feel like we’re eating the same thing week after week.
  • It’s forgiving enough that I only actually measure out the oats and the milk. Everything else gets eyeballed.
  • It’s got all the goodness of oatmeal, without the pot or bowls to sandblast clean every day.

Super Baked Oatmeal

Adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light
Yields: 10 generous servings, enough for 2 people to enjoy every weekday

Ingredients

4 cups uncooked gluten-free oats (old-fashioned and quick cooking work equally well)
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/2 cup coconut flakes (sweetened or not)
2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups milk
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
optional: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, OR apple pie spice

Preheat oven to 375º. Coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes.

To serve warm: Top it with butter, margarine, heavy cream, cream cheese, greek yogurt, maple syrup, or honey.

To serve later: It’s easier to slice after it’s been in the refrigerator. Reheat individual servings in the microwave for 60 to 90 seconds.

To customize:

  • Make a 4 or 5 serving size by halving all the ingredients and cook it in an 8×8 pan (or an 8- or 9-inch cake pan — like I said, it’s forgiving) for about 35 minutes
  • Instead of raisins, try any dried fruits, like cranberries, dates, currants, or berries.
  • Instead of dried fruits, try fresh blueberries or chopped bananas.
  • And while I personally don’t like chocolate chips with oats, I won’t tell the breakfast police if you throw some in there.
  • Instead of walnuts, try pecans, cashews, or mixed nuts. Or go no-nuts, and just add extra fruit or your favorite seeds.
  • Instead of milk, try substituting your favorite milk-alternative — I bet it would work fine.

You can probably also sub out the sugar, oil, and eggs, too. Let us know in the comments if you try something else that works!

How old will you be when you’ve spent half your life with your beloved?

(I’m so tempted to write “…with your LOVER,” because that grosses us both out so much, but I’ll refrain. This is a meaningful occasion, if not a somber one.)

Answers will vary, of course. We have no control over when our loves will pinball into our lives, and I’m still not sure how much control we have even over maintaining them once they arrive.

But for the sake of argument, my answer: 32 (33 in a week).

I am 32 years old, and last night I had the pleasure of celebrating 16 years with my wife.

This lady and I can lay waste to some charcuterie and cheese.

(Remember the Charcuterie Towers from our wedding dinner? I can’t find a picture, but they were awesome.)

I liked that when the waiter brought out my (surprise customized) GIANT peanut butter cup dessert, he asked, “Uh…is it 16 or 91?”

I laughed, because it feels like both, in the best way possible.

Here’s to the next 91.

Recipe: No-pickle Potato Salad

Growing up, I was never passionate about potato salad.

But a few years ago, I ate this superior version, and I suddenly knew why all the others were undesireable: pickle relish.

I love pickles and anything pickled.

Did I bring a laughably large bowl of giardiniera to a friend’s baby shower? Yep.

Do I periodically make wurstsalat and eat it until it’s gone?  Ja.

But apparently, I just don’t like pickles in potato salad, and I was 30 years old before I had a version without them.

This potato salad, from a dear friend’s collection, is just about perfection, and there’s not a pickle in sight. The secret is red potatoes — they’re creamier than russets and not mealy, either. The radishes are an unusual touch, but they fit right in and don’t upstage anything else.

Can you guess what I’m bringing on Thanksgiving? I will take a picture then and add it here.

No-pickle Potato Salad

For the dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon mustard (may double to suit taste)
0.5 teaspoon celery seed
dash pepper

For the salad:
4 cups (about 2 pounds) diced cooked red potatoes
4 eggs, boiled and chopped
1.5 cups diced celery
0.5 cup sliced green onions
0.5 cup radishes, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

In a large bowl, stir together dressing ingredients (mayonnaise through pepper). Add the remaining salad ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until time to serve. Yields 8-10 side servings or 4 main dish servings. Don’t judge — it’s that good.

If my life were a reality show, it would be called Kitchen Boners (NHBPM 14)

 

And oh, how we would laugh.

We got home from the gym just before 9pm, so I threw a chicken in the pressure cooker and dumped a bag of kale into a stock pot. Then I gathered the few supplies needed to make the lovely “Orange Kissed Almond Cookies” at Beard and Bonnet, which I’d bookmarked last week. Everything would be ready in about 20 minutes, and I’d be a rockstar.

Instead, the leeks I threw in with the chicken burned and had to be dynamited out of the pressure cooker. And the dark meat didn’t get 100% done, because the pressure cooker cookbook I’d borrowed from the library that said how long to cook everything? I returned it a few days ago.

The cup of leftover Mexican restaurant salsa I threw in with the kale made it too salty.

And the cookies?

Oh, the cookies.

Or more accurately, the “cookies.”

First, I didn’t have orange extract, so I microplaned some fresh zest and let the dough sit for a couple of extra minutes. It smelled heavenly. All systems go.

Then I opened the can of almond paste, which the fine print said was actually “almond cake and pastry filling.” Semantics! I thought. If they meant marzipan, surely they’d have said “marzipan.” And the regular grocery store didn’t sell anything exactly labeled almond paste, so this was probably the stuff.

I worried just a bit when the almond paste and sugar didn’t become so much “uniformly crumbly” as uniformly gooey and unappetizing looking. And my dough was darker than the original recipe’s pictures, but then, my kitchen’s not the best lit room in the house.

Besides, I was in a hurry. Twenty minutes in the oven would fix it all.

So what if it smelled like orangey-almondy-cancer after about 10 minutes?

The inspiration:

From Beard and Bonnet. Don’t they look absolutely scrumptious?

After 25 minutes in the oven, my reality:

This is pretty much why I don’t bother watermarking my photos.

If you’re detail-oriented, you’ll notice that I held the parchment paper up at about a 90-degree angle to the cookie sheet, and the cookie sludge did not budge. But when it cooled, it did harden into a substance that could be used to attach a guy in a hard hat to a girder. In case you’re in the market for a more natural hat-girder adhesive.

Today’s lesson: Almond cake and pastry filling IS NOT almond paste IS NOT marzipan. Use what the one a recipe actually calls for, and you’re more likely to end up with what a recipe is actually supposed to make.

 

Bonus lesson: This is exactly why you should keep ice cream in the freezer. Well, one of about a thousand reasons, but still a very good one.

Have you butchered anything in the kitchen lately, even though you really do know better?