Friday, November 30, 2012

Saag Paneer

This month's supper club theme was Indian.  I LOVE Indian but rarely cook it.  The ingredient list for most recipes is usually a mile long and I just don't have the time or patience.  But oh how I love to eat it!  About once a month or so I suggest to my husband that we go to the local Indian restaurant for their buffet lunch.  I love being able to try a whole bunch of different and new things, rather than stick to what I know and like (which I'd do if I was only able to order one thing).  So after much deliberation and searching for a recipe that didn't have a gazillion ingredients I decided to make Saag Paneer.  This wasn't a new dish for me since I've eaten and have enjoyed it many times before.  This was my first recipe from Aarti Sequeira though.  I watched her win The Next Food Network Star but never tried anything of hers until now. I'm so glad that I did.  I found the recipe to be very easy to follow....although the cheese took a VERY long time to make.  With the stirring of the milk and the draining, and pressing I think it took over an hour plus.  Then I had to make the actual saag.  Luckily, I had most of the day free to spend doing this.  And I'm glad that I got the chance to make homemade paneer.  However, if I ever find paneer in a specialty market (though I've never seen it before) I would definitely pick it up for a dish like this!  I think the paneer could have pressed for even more than the 20 minutes but I didn't have the time.  It ended up crumbling once it got put in the spinach mixture.  Overall though this was tasty and everyone at supper club enjoyed it. 

Saag Paneer
recipe from foodnetwork.com, courtesy of Aarti Sequeira

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces paneer, (Indian cheese, either store-bought or made from my recipe, recipe follows), cut into 1-inch cubes, see Cook's Note*
1 (16-ounce package) frozen chopped spinach
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 (1-inch thumb) ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green serrano chile, finely chopped (seeds removed if you don't like it spicy!)
1/2 teaspoon store-bought or homemade garam masala, recipe follows
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred until smooth

Directions:
In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons oil. Gently, drop in the cubes of paneer and gently toss, taking care not to break the cubes if you're using the homemade kind. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.

Thaw the spinach in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish, 5 minutes on high, then puree in a food processor until smooth. Alternatively, you can chop it up very finely with your knife.

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the paneer as the pan warms. In a couple of minutes give the pan a toss; each piece of paneer should be browned on one side. Fry another minute or so, and then remove the paneer from the pan onto a plate.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile. Now here's the important part: saute the mixture until it's evenly toffee-coloured, which should take about 15 minutes. Don't skip this step - this is the foundation of the dish! If you feel like the mixture is drying out and burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water.

Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin. If you haven't already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often, until the raw scent of the spices cook out, and it all smells a bit more melodious, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add a little salt and 1/2 cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off.

Turn the heat off. Add the yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling. Once the yogurt is well mixed into the spinach, add the paneer. Turn the heat back on, cover and cook until everything is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve.

*Cook's Note: Paneer is very easy to make at home, and my recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. I also think homemade has a better texture than anything store-bought. If you'd like to buy it, this cheese is available in better supermarkets as well as specialty Asian markets.

Paneer: Homemade Indian Cheese:
Cheesecloth
8 cups whole milk
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed, see Cook's Note*

Directions:Line a large colander with a large double layer of cheesecloth, and set it in your sink.

In a large wide pot, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning the bottom (a nonstick pot works really well for this purpose). This will take a little while so be patient!

Add the lemon juice and turn the heat down to low. Stirring gently, you should almost immediately see the curds (white milk solids) and whey (the greenish liquid) separate. Don't fret, this is perfect!

*Cook's Note: If the milk doesn't separate juice some more lemons and add another tablespoon or two. Boost the heat again and the milk should separate. Stir in a motion that gathers the curds together rather than breaks them up.

Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour the contents into the cheesecloth-lined colander. Gently rinse with cool water to get rid of the lemon flavor. At this point, you could squeeze out some of the liquid, and serve with some honey and some nuts, almost like a fresh ricotta!

Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist the ball of cheese to squeeze out the excess whey. Tie the cheesecloth to your kitchen faucet and allow the cheese to drain for about 5 minutes.

Twisting the ball to compact the cheese into a block, place it on a plate with the twisted part of the cheesecloth on the side (this will ensure your block of cheese is nice and smooth!) and set another plate on top. Weigh the second plate down with cans of beans or a heavy pot. Move to the refrigerator and let it sit about 20 minutes.

Yield: Makes 12 ounces of cheese.

Mommy & Daddy Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Recipe Repeat: Baked Macaroni & Cheddar

I originally found this recipe in an issue of EveryDay with Rachael Ray back from 2008.  I had made it once before, but not sure when.  I figured if I had saved the magazine tear-out it must have been good.  You can't really go wrong with mac & cheese.  Plus, this recipe has broccoli in it, so I didn't need to make any extra veggies!   My kids love mac & cheese and broccoli, so of course this was a hit with them! 

Baked Macaroni & Cheese
recipe from EveryDay with Rachael Ray, April 2008

Ingredients:
1 large bunch broccoli, cut into bite-size florets and stalks peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound whole wheat elbow pasta
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 3)
3 tablespoons flour
3 1/2 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

Directions:
1.Fill a large pot with enough water to reach a depth of 2 inches and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook for 1 minute; drain and rinse with cold water. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and add the broccoli in an even layer.

2.Fill the same pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain.

3.Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees . In the same pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the flour for 1 minute. Whisk in 1 cup milk until thickened, then whisk in 1 cup more. Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, then whisk the mixture into the pot. Simmer, whisking, until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat and stir in the cheddar and 4 tablespoons parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the pasta. Spoon the mixture over the broccoli.

4.In a small heatproof bowl, combine the garlic and remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter; microwave at high power until melted, about 20 seconds. Stir in the bread crumbs, the remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Discard the garlic, then sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on the pasta. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Creative Thursday @ Michelle's Tasty Creations
Showcase Your Talent Thursday @ What's Cooking, Love

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Apple Meatloaf

Meatloaf to me is such a great cold weather meal.  It screams comfort food, especially when paired with mashed potatoes, like I served with this meatloaf.  I've made lots of meatloafs, but this one caught my eye because it used ground turkey (healthier) and apple.  The apple gave the meatloaf a sweet flavor that wasn't overpowering.  Plus, I think it also helped moisten it.   The picture below isn't very pretty but the meatloaf was really tasty!  Even though this needs to cook for 40-45 minutes, if I wanted to cook this on a busy weeknight I would premake the meatloaf the night before and cook it the next day.


Apple Meatloaf
recipe from Mostly Food and Crafts

Ingredients:
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons butter
3/4 cup peeled and shredded apple
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
4 teaspoons of ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
1 pound ground turkey (or lean ground beef)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 6x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a small skillet saute the onion in butter until softened.

In a large bowl, combine the apple, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, mustard, salt, and pepper. Once the onion is cooked stir it into the large bowl with the other ingredients. Now crumble in the turkey and mix well.

Shape your ingredients into a 6x5 loaf and place into the baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 - 45 minutes until no longer pink.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This post is shared at:
Back for Seconds
Marvelous Mondays @ This Gal Cooks



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cake Batter Rice Krispy Treats

I LOVE rice krispy treats.  When I used to teach I'd bring rice krispy treats to various events and everyone would go crazy.  I don't know why I don't make them more often since there's virtually no cooking involved.....maybe because I might eat them all??!!!  Luckily, I made these because we were going to some friends (who are also brothers) house-warming.  I made these and my husband made some m&m cookies.  Good thing, because they were the only dessert type foods there.....they are bachelors who don't really cook (their sisters pretty much made all of the food there!).  Everyone loved these and I figured with the cake batter and sprinkles it bumped them up a notch from regular rice krispy treats.  Plus, I've been wanting to make these for awhile and finally had a reason!

Cake Batter Rice Krispy Treats
recipe from Lovin' From the Oven

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter
1 10-ounce bag of mini marshmallows (4 cups mini marshmallows)
3/4 cup Funfetti cake mix
6 cups rice krispies cereal
6 heaping tablespoons of sprinkles

Directions:
1.Completely melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat.

2.Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.

3.Next, stir in the cake mix until dissolved.

4.Stir in the cereal until it is evenly coated with marshmallow. Sprinkle in half of the sprinkles and mix and continue stirring.

5.Press the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish and top with remaining sprinkles.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green
Totally Tasty Tuesdays @ Mandy's Recipe Box
Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays @ Blessed with Grace

Monday, November 26, 2012

New Book Blog!

Hi readers!  I am happy to share with you my new blog devoted to book reviews.  Please visit my new blog The Busy Mom Bookshelf at:

http://busymombooks.blogspot.com

I will of course continue to cook and share recipes with you!  But come check out my new blog to see what we've been reading!

Thanks!
Nancy

Might Have Missed Monday: Monkey Bars

I have decided to repost some of my favorite/most popular posts from when I first started my blog over a year ago. I've posted almost a new recipe every day since beginning this blog. I've had a lot of new followers recently, so there's sure to be some great recipes you might have missed! I first posted this recipe on November 9, 2011.

Somehow, bananas always seem to get too ripe before being eaten in my house. I usually throw them in a ziploc bag and keep them in the freezer until I need the freezer space or think that they need to be thrown out. After a recent grocery shopping trip my husband, annoyed, after doing the "freezer shuffle" pulled out a bag of ripe bananas and declared that he was, "going to do something with these." I jokingly said, "you mean I will do something with them." But I guess I wasn't joking. I whipped these up on Monday afternoon after searching for a banana recipe that I hadn't tried yet. Overall, these were a hit! I didn't have buttermilk, so I used regular 1% milk. I omitted the walnuts and to make these kid-friendly, I used the apple juice instead of rum. These were delicious and super-moist!

Monkey Bars
recipe from Cooking Light,  October 2001

Ingredients:
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum or apple juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the raisins and rum in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high for 1 minute, and set aside. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 3 ingredients (flour through salt) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Set aside.

Combine brown sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add banana and next 3 ingredients (banana through egg whites), beating well. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in raisin mixture and walnuts.

Spread the batter into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool the bars completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

This post is shared at:
Mangia Mondays @ Delightfully Dowling
The Bulletin Board @ Mrs. Happy HomeMaker

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Weekend Chef: Panko Chicken with Grapefruit Honey Sauce

It's become more the norm now that I will plan the menu for the week but when the weekend comes around my husband, a.k.a. "The Weekend Chef" will do the cooking.  It was getting too difficult waiting for him to pick his recipes and then make the grocery list.  I like to menu plan for the week and get all of the shopping done on Monday, minus a quick trip later in the week for the extra produce needed later on.  So, here's another recipe that I found but my husband cooked.  This is basically a chicken cutlet breaded in panko and fried and then drizzled with a grapefruit honey sauce.  The sauce was really different and tasty - tangy and sweet at the same time.  The kids LOVED this, sauce too! The Weekend Chef said it was quick and easy to make.  Since the kids loved it so much I would definitely make this again!


Panko Chicken with Grapefruit Honey Sauce
recipe from Creative Kitchen Adventures via Art From My Table

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts, sliced in half to make thinner
Panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs beaten
Olive oil for pan
sea salt
pepper

FOR SAUCE:
1/2 cup grapefruit juice (2 grapefruits juiced)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp honey (I’ll add a little more next time)
sea salt
pepper

Directions:
1.Rinse and slice chicken in half to make thinner chicken cutlets. Beat eggs in dish and have ready for dipping. Pour a cup or so of panko breadcrumbs into another container for dipping.

2.Using a mallet, pound to flatten chicken.

3.Preheat cast iron or other skillet with about a tablespoon of oil.

4.Dip each chicken cutlet into egg coating thoroughly, and then dip in panko. After you have 4 cutlets done, place into pan at the same time. Pan heated to medium (btwn 6-7 on electric stove).

5.Cook about 3 minutes on each side being careful not to burn, lowering heat as needed.Season with salt and pepper. Dip and cook remaining 4 cutlets. Chicken should be cooked through, but if a little nervous like I was, I placed them in my convection toaster oven for another 5 minutes at 350 degrees.

6.After all chicken is cooked, wipe out pan to use or grab a new skillet. Heat a small amount of olive oil. Soften minced garlic on low being careful not to burn. Burning garlic will make it taste bitter.

7.Add in grapefruit juice, honey, sea salt and pepper, and whisk thoroughly. Heat on medium to medium low stirring fairly often and reduce to a thick syrup.

8.Serve chicken breast with grapefruit honey sauce drizzled on top or use as a dipping sauce.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Children's Book Review: Nighttime Ninja

Nighttime Ninja

Nighttime Ninja
Written by:  Barbara DaCosta
Illustrated by:  Ed Young
Published by:  Little Brown and Company, 2012

from goodreads.com:
Late at night, when all is quiet and everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps silently through the house in search of treasure. Soon he reaches his ultimate goal...and gets a big surprise! Will the nighttime ninja complete his mission?

With spare text and lush illustrations, Nighttime Ninja is a fun, adventure-filled story about the power of play and imagination.

A ninja comes out at night while everyone is sleeping to complete his mission.  But what could the mission be?  We were all trying to guess and were suprised to discover what the ninja was trying to do!  The artwork is really the star of this book though.  The illustrations are collages of cut paper and tell the story so well that text is almost not needed.  This was a quick read that we all enjoyed.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Skillet Cornbread

Yesterday I posted the recipe for Back Bay Chili that my family just didn't enjoy.  I made this cornbread in the cast iron pan to serve with it.  This was my first recipe from Ree at The Pioneer Woman.  I have heard great things about her and her recipes and I don't know why I haven't tried any of her recipes before this.  I love corn bread in the skillet.  Like this bread, it gets crispy around the edges but moist inside.  I know traditional cornbread does not have sugar.  I didn't realize when I was making this that this recipe doesn't have sugar in it.  I think we were all expecting a sweet cornbread so there was a bit of disappointment when we tried this.  With a little butter slathered on though the kids were eating this up.  I would definitely make this recipe again, but probably add a little sugar to sweeten it up and it would get a 2 thumbs up rating!


Skillet Cornbread
recipe from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Milk
1 whole Egg
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 cup Shortening
2 Tablespoons Shortening

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Stir together.

Measure the buttermilk and milk in a measuring cup and add the egg. Stir together with a fork. Add the baking soda and stir.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until combined.

In a small bowl, melt 1/4 shortening. Slowly add melted shortening to the batter, stirring until just combined. In an iron skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons shortening over medium heat. Pour the batter into the hot skillet. Spread to even out the surface. (Batter should sizzle.)

Cook on stovetop for 1 minute, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Edges should be crispy!

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Children's Book Review: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Goldilocks and The Three Dinosaurs
Written and illustrated by:  Mo Willems
Published by: Balzer & Bray, 2012

from goodreads.com:
Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur . . . and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.

One day--for no particular reason--they decided to tidy up their house, make the beds, and prepare pudding of varying temperatures. And then--for no particular reason--they decided to go...someplace else. They were definitely NOT setting a trap for some succulent, unsupervised little girl.

Definitely not!

This new take on a fairy-tale classic is so funny and so original--it could only come from the brilliant mind of Mo Willems.

* If you haven't noticed from some of my previous book reviews, our family is big fans of Mo Willems.  When my daughter saw that he wrote this book she told us, "I know him.  He's written the pigeon books and the Elephant and Piggie books!"  The kids are very familiar with the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears and have also heard several different variatons of the classic. The humor begins when you first open the cover and see the possible, crossed out titles including Goldilocks and the Three Naked Mole Rats and Goldilocks and the Three Clams.  Honestly, I think this book is geared more towards older kids.  My four and six year old I don't think quite "got" the humor but liked the story.  I found the book very enjoyable as an adult reading it.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Children's Book Review: Neville

Neville

Neville
Written by:  Norton Juster
Illustrated by:  G. Brian Karas
Published by: schwartz & wade Books, 2011

from goodreads.com:
Written by the acclaimed author of The Phantom Tollbooth, this is a simply told story about a boy who moves to a new neighborhood and finds a unique way to make friends. With whimsical illustrations by award-winning illustrator G. Brian Karas, here is a read-aloud that's great for storytime, and is sure to be a hit among fans of Juster, Karas, and anyone who is "the new kid on the block."

* This was a book that the kids originally read with my husband.  My daughter saw it lying around and asked me if I had read it.  I told her I hadn't and she started to tell me about it.  I ended up reading it again to the kids while they were finishing up their lollipop treats.  They knew about all the kids calling for "Neville" and started yelling it too as I read (in the appropriate places!).  This was a cute story, perfect for a child that moves and is nervous about making new friends.  This was our first book by Juster, but we will definitely have to check some of his other picture books out.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating:  1 1/2 thumbs up.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Children's Book Review: One is a Feast for Mouse - A Thanksgiving tale

One Is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale

One is a Feast for Mouse - A Thanksgiving Tale
Written by: Judy Cox
Illustrated by:  Jeffrey Ebbeler
Published by: Holiday House, 2008

from goodreads.com:
The Thanksgiving feast is over. Mouse spots one pea, which is quite enough for one mouse, but he keeps adding other tidbits. Then Cat sees him, in a story about giving thanks for the little things.

* This is the last of the Thanksgiving book reviews until next year.  In this book a mouse comes out of his hiding spot after the Thanksgiving feast has been eaten.  He scours the table for leftovers and finds one "teensy-tiny, toothsome, green pea."  But then he gets greedy and wants a cranberry, some mashed potatoes and gravy, and of course some pumpkin pie! The cat sees him and disaster occurs.  But mouse is still able to retrieve his pea and is thankful for his feast.  The kids enjoyed this story.  I liked the adjectives used to describe each food ("carrot sticks, crunchy and munchy and orange").  Overall this was a nice, last Thanksgiving read for us.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Bake

Happy Thanksgiving! If you've noticed I haven't posted any traditional Thanksgiving day recipes.  Fortunately for me, this is one holiday that I don't host and cook for!  My sister, down in Maryland usually hosts the family, but she's due to have her second child any day now!  When we don't go down to Maryland we head up to my husband's aunt's house near New Paltz for Thanksgiving dinner, so that's where we will be this year.  I did earn a free turkey from Shoprite that's sitting in my downstairs freezer, so eventually I will be using some of the tasty looking recipes I've been seeing on the blogs.  So for you today I have an Apple Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Bake.  We had this for breakfast for dinner.  However, this would make a great weekend brunch dish.  We all enjoyed this a lot, although almost all breakfast type dishes go over well with the kids. 




Ham and Cheese Breakfast Bake
recipe adapted from Confabulation in the Kitchen

Ingredients:
1 20-ounce bag frozen, shredded hashbrowns, thawed overnight in fridge
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
4  Apple Chicken Sausage links, diced
1.5 to 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
A few dashes of hot sauce

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Squeeze moisture out of thawed potatoes then put them in a large bowl. Pour melted butter over potatoes and stir until well-combined. Line ungreased casserole dish with buttered potatoes, and press to make a crust. Bake 10 minutes or until potatoes are just crisped and brown on the edges. Remove dish from oven and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl whisk eggs and cream.

4. Sprinkle sausage over potato crust. Then add cheese. Pour cream and egg mixture over ingredients.

5. Bake 30 minutes or until set and gold and bubbling at edges.  Sprinkle with hot sauce to taste.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Here's another muffin recipe for you!  It's been awhile and I've had this one bookmarked for some time.  I thought these would be a winner since pb & j sandwiches are almost a weekly lunch staple with the kids.  Warm, right out of the oven, these muffins were really tasty.  However, as my husband noted when he tried one, "These taste like soggy, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."  My daughter only ate a couple of bites of hers at breakfast the day after I baked these and told me that she didn't like it.  So unfortunately, these will not be made again in this house. :(


Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins
recipe from Alli 'N Sons

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat (or white whole wheat) flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1-1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter 
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl stir together the flours, sugars, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, peanut butter, egg, melted butter and vanilla extract. Whisk lightly, until the ingredients just come together.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

Stir in the peanut butter chips.

Fill each muffin cup 1/2 full.

Spoon 1 teaspoon jam into each cup.

Spoon the remaining batter on top of each cup.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins are a golden brown and spring back when touch lightly.

Cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Family Rating:  So-so.

Children's Picture Book Review: 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

'Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving (Bookshelf)

'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving
Written and illustrated by:  Dav Pilkey
Published by: Scholastic, 1990

from goodreads.com:
The incomparable Dav Pilkey adapts Clement Moore's classic Christmas poem to tell his wacky Thanksgiving tale. The day before Thanksgiving, eight boys and girls take a field trip to a turkey farm. They have fun playing with eight exuberant turkeys but are shocked to learn that Farmer Mack Nuggett plans to kill all the turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners. So the children decide to smuggle all the turkeys home, and all their Thanksgiving dinners become vegetarian this year. The turkeys' lives are saved!

* My kids are familiar with the classic story 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  This book is a Thanksgiving adaptation of that classic book.  It's a cute story of kids who take a field trip to farm and end up befriending turkeys.  When they discover what the axe is for they smuggle the turkeys home with them.  The kids enjoyed this book (even my daughter who had already heard the story in school that same day). 

This book was borrowed from the library.
Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Children's Book Review: Over the River: A Turkey's Tale

Over the River: A Turkey's Tale

Over the River:  A Turkey's Tale
Written and illustrated by:  Derek Anderson
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005

from goodreads.com:
Over the river Mama, Papa, and Baby Turkey embark for their vegetarian Thanksgiving Feast. But when a hungry boy and his dog start sniffing around, the turkeys have got to think fast before they become the main course! Acclaimed artist Derek Anderson's glorious autumn artwork adds heaps of holiday humor to Lydia Maria Child's classic Thanksgiving song. And readers of all ages will be wondering who gobbles up whom until the dessert finale.

* I think that I've only heard this classic song through the first couple of lines.  My daughter tried singing this but didn't quite have the tune.  So, I read/sang the song as we looked at the pictures.  And you really do have to look at the pictures as you read/sing this because there's a story going on through the illustrations.  Overall, a cute children's book take on a classic song that the kids enjoyed.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Zucchini Bread

I had bought some zucchini with the intention of cooking it as a side dish one night.  However, when looking for a muffin recipe, I thought that I'd go with a bread instead.  I'm always making muffins and I thought some zucchini bread sounded good.  I posted the original recipe below but I ended up halving it and making only one loaf.  The recipe was easy to put together and really tasty!  This was a great breakfast for everyone and I probably should have made the second loaf and frozen it.  We ended up slicing and freezing half of the one loaf I had made and had some for breakfast days after. 




Zucchini Bread
recipe from foodnetwork.com, courtesy of Paula Deen

Ingredients:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional - I left them out)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 standard loaf pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, for 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Alternately, bake in 5 mini loaf pans for about 45 minutes.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

This recipe is shared at:
Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green
Totally Tasty Tuesdays @ Mandy's Recipe Box
Show Me What You Got Tuesdays @ Our Delightful Home
Tempt My Tummy @ Blessed with Grace

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meatless Monday: Crock-Pot Huevos Rancheros Casserole

I'm always looking for slow cooker recipes. This recipe was a double plus because it was "breakfast for dinner" which the kids love so much.  I don't think I had ever made or eaten Huevos Rancheros before this, so I wasn't exactly sure what it was supposed to look or taste like.  I took the original recipe found here and adapted it to what I had and what I thought the kids would eat (the original sounded a bit spicy).  This was super easy to put together.  I had it prepared mid-afternoon and by the time we came home from tae kwon do it was ready.  I served this with yellow rice and we all enjoyed it. 


Crock-Pot Huevos Rancheros Casserole
recipe adapted from Crock-Pot Ladies

Ingredients:
8 Large Eggs
1/4 Cup milk
1 cup salsa
1 – 14.5 Ounce Can Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
1 Teaspoon Cilantro
1/2 Teaspoon Black Ground Pepper
8 flour Tortillas, Soft Taco Size
sour cream (optional for topping)
1 avocado, diced (optional for topping)
shredded cheddar cheese (optional for topping)

Directions:
Spray non-stick spray inside of your crock-pot.

Crack eggs into medium bowl, add milk and pepper and whisk.

In another bowl, mix beans, salsa, and cilantro.

Place two tortillas at bottom of crock.

Spoon about a third of the salsa/bean mixture on top.

Pour about a fourth of the egg mixutre on top of that.

Top with two more tortillas and repeat layering 3 times so egg is your top layer.

Cover and cook on low for approximately 8 hours.

Cut and serve with desired toppings.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

This recipe is shared at:
Mangia Mondays @ Delightfully Dowling
On The Menu Monday @ StoneGable
The Bulletin Board @ Mrs. Happy Homemaker

Early Chapter Book Review: Turkey Riddles

Turkey Riddles

Turkey Riddles
Written by:  Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg
Illustrated by:  Kristin Sorra
Published by:  Puffin, 2002

from goodreads.com:
Do you like plucky puns? Do you have a fowl sense of humor? Well, fluff up your feathers and get ready for fun. Turkey Riddles, the sixteenth book in Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg's best-selling series, is stuffed with jokes and riddles that kids will gobble up.

Find out what you'd get if you crossed a turkey with an octopus. Discover why Tom Turkey climbed into the vegetable bowl. To help you guess the answers, Kristin Sorra's illustrations provide hilarious clues. 

 * My kids have recently really gotten interested in riddles and jokes.  I saw this book at the library and thought they'd really enjoy it.  It's part of the Puffin Easy-To-Read series but it's a Level 3.  Some of the decoding and vocabulary was a little difficult for my 4 year old beginning reader.  However, when my 6 year old daughter got ahold of this book she was very interested in reading it on her own and asking us the jokes.  I have to say that the humor is definitely for older kids.   A lot of the punchlines they just didn't understand (he hit a fowl ball, Cluck Kent, etc....).  Even though it's in the Easy-To-Read series, I'd recommend the humor more to a 3rd grader +.

This book was borrowed from the library.  

Family Rating: So-so.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Weekend Chef: BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas

This is a recipe that I had planned on making and had my husband, a.k.a., "The Weekend Chef" make us for dinner last weekend.  We haven't had a quesadilla in awhile, especially since our quesadilla maker broke.  There wasn't a lot of cooking to this recipe, but more of a lot of prep work.  The kids love pineapple.  Mixed with the chicken and bbq sauce this ended up being a sweet and tasty quesadilla.  We all enjoyed it a lot!  And really, all the quesadilla maker does is cut the tortilla and semi-seal the filling into little triangle pieces. 


BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas
recipe from Kate's Recipe Box via Jenny's Cooking Journey

Ingredients:
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup diced pineapple
1cup jalapeno jack cheese, shredded
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
8 large tortillas

Directions:
In a small frying pan, brown the chicken pieces over medium heat. When cooked through, add in barbecue sauce and stir to coat. Remove chicken to a small bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add pineapple to pan and cook until warmed through. Remove to a small bowl.

On a skillet, place a tortilla. Cover with a layer of the cheeses and top with chicken and pineapple. When the cheese starts to melt, place second tortilla on top. When browned on the bottom, flip over.

Remove to a cutting board and let cool for 3 minutes before cutting.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

This recipe is shared at:
Church Supper @ Everyday Mom's Meals
Sundae Scoop @ I Heart Nap Time

Children's Book Review: A Plump and Perky Turkey

A Plump And Perky Turkey

A Plump and Perky Turkey
Written by: Teresa Bateman
Illustrated by: Jeff Shelly
Published by: Marshall Cavendish, 2001

from goodreads.com:
The townspeople of Squawk Valley try to trick a turkey into being their Thanksgiving dinner, but are frustrated in their efforts when the turkey tricks them instead.

* Both of my kids were familiar with this book, having heard it in the past at school.  My husband and I had never read it so we decided to give it a go.  Told in rhyme, this story tells about the town of Squawk Valley where the turkeys have gotten smart and disappear in the fall.  The townspeople really want a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner so they come up with a plan to catch one.  However, they are disappointed, when all is said and done, that they have been the ones tricked.   

This book was borrowed from the library.  

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beginning Reader Book Review: Trucksgiving

Trucksgiving

Trucksgiving
Written by: Jon Scieszka
Illustrated by:  David Shannon, Loren Long, David Gordon
Published by: Simon Spotlight, 2010

from goodreads.com:
Trucktown has a tradition every year at Trucksgiving.  Find out what it is in the latest Ready to Roll in the New York Times Bestselling series.

* My family, especially my son, is a fan of Jon Scieszka's Trucktown series.  I was excited to see that there was a Ready-to-Roll Reading series based on the characters from the picture books.  Even better was what looked to be a Thanksgiving themed book.  However, after reading this with my son I have to say that I was disappointed.  The trucks are dressed like pilgrims on the front and the book opens with the arrival of the first trucks to Trucktown.  However, the book barely touches upon anything Thanksgiving related except for a feast to thank everyone who helped set up Trucktown.  The illustrations were more relevant with a truck dressed like a turkey and the pilgrims I mentioned previously.  Of course my son enjoyed the book since it featured trucks, which are one of his favorite things.  However, I was expecting a little more and was disappointed.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: So-so.

Chicken & Ravioli Carbonara

I saw this recipe and had to try it.  It would give me an excuse to eat bacon, which I haven't had in forever! I liked that it didn't have a bunch of ingredients.  The only change that I made was cooking the chicken in a honey balsamic dressing instead of Italian dressing.  I thought I had some and I wasn't going back out to the store for 2 Tablespoons of it!  It really didn't have a big impact on the flavor.  I have to say that this ended up being really soupy.  I used a slotted spoon to take the ravioli out to serve and it was good.  But I ended up packing the extra ravioli away in the sauce and they just got all mushy the next day.  We all liked this and my son even had seconds....my kids do LOVE bacon!  This was a nice change from ravioli and red sauce. 

Chicken & Ravioli Carbonara
recipe from Mandy's Recipe Box

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. Honey Balsamic dressing
1 lb. chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 lb 9oz. package cheese ravioli
1 c. half and half
12-16 oz. package of bacon, cooked and crumbled
shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Heat the dressing in a large skillet. Cook the chicken in it til done. Add broth and thawed ravioli. Heat to a boil. Reduce to medium and cook uncovered 4 minutes or till ravioli is tender. Stir in half and half. Reduce to low and simmer 3-5 minutes or until sauce is at desired consistency. Sprinkle in the bacon, but save some for topping later. Stir all together. Serve up and top with more bacon and parmesan cheese.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pumpkin Seeds Two Ways

When we were carving jack o'lanterns with the kids I thought that I'd try roasting some pumpkin seeds.  I'm not really a fan of them but I thought that if I seasoned them I'd like them.  So found two different recipes to try, one savory, one sweet.  I have to say that even after roasting and seasoning them I still wasn't really into them.  However, we discovered that our son really likes them!  So, my husband and son got to enjoy these.  My husband preferred the Toasted Pumpkin Seeds over the Caramelized Spicy ones.  Although I do have to note that they did not caramelize the way I had wanted them to and became more sugar and spicy.


Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
recipe from allrecipes.com by CRYSTAL10

Ingredients:
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 teaspoons seasoned salt

Directions:
1.Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).

2.Rinse the pumpkin seeds and pat dry. Place them in a bowl. Add the Worcestershire sauce, melted butter and seasoned salt; stir until evenly coated. Spread out in an even layer on a baking sheet.

3.Bake for about 1 hour in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until crisp, dry and golden brown.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.


Caramelized Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
recipe slightly adapted from allrecipes.com by Theresa

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds, washed and dried
cooking spray
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions: 1.Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.In a large bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons of sugar, the cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne pepper, and set aside.

3.Place the pumpkin seeds on the prepared baking sheet, spray them with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake the seeds in the preheated oven until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

4.Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and stir in the toasted pumpkin seeds along with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cook and stir the seeds until the sugar forms a coating on the seeds, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir the caramelized seeds into the bowl of sugar-spice mixture, toss to coat, and let cool.

Family Rating: so-so.

This recipe was shared at:
Simple Living and Eating

Children's Book Review: Splat Says Thank You

Splat Says Thank You!

Splat Says Thank You!
Written and illustrated by:  Rob Scotton
Published by:  Harper, 2012

from amazon.com:
Splat the Cat's trusty mouse friend, Seymour, needs cheering up, and Splat wants to help. He's been working on something special for Seymour—not just a thank-you card but a thank-you book! His book lists all the sweet and often hilarious reasons Splat is thankful for their friendship.

The funny adventures that Splat and Seymour have had together, complete with animated illustrations and a laugh-out-loud text from bestselling author and illustrator Rob Scotton, will leave Splat fans thankful to know this cat-and-mouse duo.

* Splat the Cat is a well-known character from Rob Scotton.  He stars in picture books and beginning to read chapter books.   We have read a couple of the Splat the Cat books as a family.  In this book, perfect for this time of year when we are celebrating being thankful, Splat thanks his friend Seymour for all of the kind things that he's done for him.  The illustrations and reasons are somewhat funny, as Splat can get himself into a lot of trouble.  It also touches upon the importance of good friends.  Overall, the kids seemed to enjoy it.  It took the theme of being thankful away from the traditional "Thanksgiving" theme which was a nice change. 

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Avocado and Watercress Salad

The end of the Eating the Alphabet Challenge is coming to an end soon!  This fun challenge is hosted by Brenda at Meal Planning Magic.  This month's letters were U,V, or W and the challenge is to make a recipe that features a fruit, vegetable, or grain that begins with the month's letters.  This month was a toughy!  There aren't a lot of fruits and veggies that begin with the letters U,V, or W!  I decided to go with watercress.  I'm not sure that I've ever eaten it before (unless it was mixed in some fancy salad that I've eaten!) and I know that I've never cooked with it.  I found this salad recipe and decided to make it to serve with some home-made mac and cheese (recipe coming soon!) for dinner.  It was super easy to put together, though I was definitley surprised at how stemmy watercress is.  The dressing is definitely the key here and is super-tasty-hints of both sweet and tangy.  I was even more suprised when my son, the picky eater, tried his mandatory bite and said that he liked it!  So, we shared the plate of salad pictured below (although he didn't eat the avocado....score!  More for me!).  For lunch we had leftover mac and cheese and I made another plate of salad.  Without even seeing my plate my son requested some of the "green leafy food."  So, he got his own bowl of watercress salad and ate it all! I'm sure this salad would taste great with cut up pieces of apple and maybe even some chicken or shrimp to make it a meal. 
Avocado and Watercress Salad
recipe from Gourmet, May 2008

Ingredients:
1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (use small holes of box grater)
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
1 firm-ripe avocado

Directions:
Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and sugar until sugar has dissolved, then stir in oil.

Just before serving, toss watercress with enough dressing to coat. Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Gently toss with watercress.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up!

Children's Book Review: Glamorous Glasses

Glamorous Glasses

Glamorous Glasses
Written and illustrated by:  Barbara Johansen Newman
Published by: Boyds Mills Press, 2012

from goodreads.com:
Bobbie and Joanie are best friends and best cousins, and they do everything together. So when Joanie has to get glasses, Bobbie figures she'll get them, too--especially once she discovers the fabulous frames on display at the eyeglasses store. Meanwhile, Joanie has the opposite reaction. Glasses make her feel different and look different. And they're uncomfortable. So the ever-resourceful Bobbie comes up with a perfect plan to make both of them happy. Illustrations full of rich, comical details enhance this story about friendship and a classic childhood experience.

* My daughter recently got glasses, for distance only.  While at the eye doctor my son also got his eyes checked.  He luckily doesn't need glasses....yet.  While picking out frames for my daughter I had to deal with a bit of a tantrum from my son while he kept telling me that he NEEDS glasses.  I told him that he just had his eyes checked and he did not need glasses.  I told him by the time he's six he'll probably need glasses too.  I am practically blind (though I prefer to wear contacts) and my husband wears glasses too.  He's doomed!  So, this book ended up being one that the kids could relate to.  Bobbie goes with her cousin Joanie to pick out her glasses and she really wants a pair too.  She even goes as far as to fake pretending that she needs them (pretending that she couldn't see the board, tripping on purpose, etc.).  Joanie doesn't like her glasses but really likes Bobbie's pure so they end up doing a switch.  Only after a couple of mishaps do the girls realize that Joanie should really wear her glasses!

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beginning Reader Book Review: P.J. Funnybunny Camps Out

P.J. Funnybunny Camps Out

P.J. Funnybunny Camps Out
Written by: Marilyn Sadler
Illustrated by: Roger Bollen
Published by:  Random House, 1993

from goodreads.com:
Illus. in full color. Camping is not for girls, right? At least, that's what P.J. and his pals tell Donna and Honey Bunny when they want to tag along on a camping trip. But when two mysterious ghosts frighten the boys all the way home, only the girls know the "real" story.

* My son picked this book off of the beginning chapter book shelves at the library.  I didn't really like when P.J. told his sister that "Camping is not for girls."  I asked my son, is he right?  Can girls go camping? I was very relieved when my son told me that girls can go camping (which we have done before as a family!).  However, in the end, the girls prevail.  This was a good book to practice predicting.  When I had my son make some predictions he ended up being partly correct.  When I made my prediction and ended up being correct, my kids accused me of reading the book before!  Overall, this was a cute story about a bunny and his friends who attempt to go on a camping trip but end up being frightened and run home.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.



Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

I had a leftover zucchini in the refrigerator and had this recipe bookmarked in my "To Try" folder.  So I thought now would be a perfect time to go with the Hummus Turkey Burgers.  I thought the breading might entice the kids to eat zucchini, but I was wrong.  They didn't like these.  I did, although they didn't come out as crispy as I would have liked.  For the amount of time and dirty dishes this created, I don't think I'll be making these again.

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries
recipe from The Soulicious Life

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut into french fry sticks about 3″ long
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. Panko or traditional bread crumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan and/or Romano cheese
1 tbls. fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease two baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.

Arrange three bowls assembly line style. In the first, stir together flour, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. In the second, whisk together eggs with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. In the third bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and/or Romano, and oregano.

Working in batches, first dip zucchini in flour, then transfer to egg mixture and toss until coated. Finally, coat zucchini in breadcrumb mixture.


Arrange zucchini on prepared baking sheets in single layers and without touching. Bake 22-27 minutes until breadcrumb coating is golden and crisp.


Family Rating: 1 thumb up.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Children's Book Review: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
Illustrated by:  Various illustrators
Published by: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2006

from goodreads.com:
We all know the joke. We've all told it. Kids love to tell it over and over and over again, with as many different punch lines as possible. And now we've found out that famous award-winning artists love to tell the joke too—and they have some wacky and downright hilarious ideas about why that chicken really did cross the road. Mo Willems's chicken confesses his motives to a police officer; David Shannon's chicken can drive a car; Marla Frazee's chicken is looking for a more luxurious coop; and Harry Bliss's chicken encounters aliens. And this is just the beginning. One thing is for sure—you won't cross this book without a good laugh!

* My kids are beginning to get into and understand joke telling.  They are familiar with the classic "Why did the chicken cross the road?"  So when I saw this book at the library I thought they would enjoy it.  I had no idea what the book was about but was pleasantly surprised to see that it's a compilation of various illustrators, including some of our favorites, Tedd Arnold, Mo Willems, and David Shannon.  Each artist drew their own interpretation as to why the chicken crossed the road, so there are many different artistic styles represented.  This is a great introduction to popular children's illustrators (and some are also authors). The end of the book contains mini bios of the various illustrators, including other books that they have illustrated.  This is a visual and humorous book that we all enjoyed.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

Hummus Turkey Burgers with Feta Tzatziki Sauce

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I needed hummus for a recipe.  This is the recipe that I was talking about.  I actually made these burgers the Monday of Hurricane Sandy.  I was trying to use up some of the food in the fridge and freezer thinking that we'd lose power.  Luckily, we did not....and we had these yummy burgers to eat.  Turkey burgers can be dry and flavorless.  These burgers had a lot of flavor as is, with the hummus, coriander, and cilantro.  Then you add on the tzatziki sauce (my daughter ate hers without) and it's even more flavorful.  My son loved the sauce on burger and everyone ate theirs up. This is a meal where the sauce and the burgers can be pre-made the night before and cooked for dinner the next day.

Hummus Turkey Burgers
recipe from Edesia's Notebook

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients:
¾ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced small
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp dried dill
1 lb. ground turkey
¼ cup prepared hummus, plus more for topping if desired
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
4 hamburger buns
Lettuce
Tomato

Directions:
Combine Greek yogurt or sour cream, cucumber, feta, garlic, and dill in a small bowl. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

In a medium bowl, combine ground turkey, ¼ cup hummus, cilantro, and coriander. Mix until just combined. Divide into 4 equal portions and form into patties.

Grill burgers over medium-high heat, about 7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Place burgers on buns and top with lettuce, tomato, prepared tzatziki sauce, and additional hummus, if desired.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up!

Recipe Shared At:
Tasty Tuesday @ 33 Shades of Green
Totally Tasty Tuesdays @ Mandy's Recipe Box
Show Me What You Got Tuesdays @ Our Delightful Home

Monday, November 12, 2012

Children's Book Review: What is Veteran's Day?

What Is Veterans Day?

What is Veterans Day?
Written by:  Elaine Landau
Published by: Enslow Elementary, 2012

* I was looking for an age-appropriate book that would be suitable for both my 4 and 6 year old children that would help explain what Veterans Day is.  I put a couple of different books on hold at the library, but this one is definitely my favorite.  It is part of the "I Like Holidays" series.  Each page has a large, title with simple text to explain how the title relates to Veterans Day (Our Veterans, Parades, Speeches, etc.) with photographs to help illustrate.  This book was recently published so it is relevant (President Obama is featured giving a speech).  I think this was a great book that explained Veterans Day simply to young children. 

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up. 

Super Easy Homemade Hummus

My family enjoys hummus.  Normally, I buy it at the store and we'll use it as a dip for pita chips or veggies.  I needed hummus for a recipe (see tomorrow's post!) and recently saw this homemade hummus recipe.  I liked it because it didn't call for tahini.  I've made hummus in the past, bought the container of tahini for like $5 and only used it once.  Another plus is that I already had all of the ingredients in the house.  This was super easy to make, just like the title implies.  The most time consuming part was taking the skins off of the chick peas.  This was very garlicky and tasty but it definitely wasn't as creamy as I would have liked (like the store bought hummus!).  Could the tahini possibly have something to do with it?  Possibly.  This was perfect for my recipe that I needed hummus for, but I probably won't make it again.


Supe Easy Homemade Hummus
recipe from Pinch of Yum

Ingredients:
2 cans chickpeas
1 clove garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
up to ½ cup water
½ teaspoon salt

Directions:
Remove the skins from the chickpeas by gently pinching them until the skin comes off. Discard the skins and reserve the chickpeas.

Place de-skinned chickpeas in a blender or food processor with garlic, olive oil, ¼ cup water, and salt. Blend or puree until very smooth, adding the remaining water one tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too sticky to move through the blender. Once the mixture is going, you can stream in a little bit more olive oil to help achieve a super creamy texture.

Family Rating: 1 thumb up.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Children's Book Review: Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops

Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops

Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops
Written by:  Jill Biden
Illustrated by:  Raul Colon
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012

from goodreads.com:
Inspired by her own granddaughter Natalie, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, tells a story through a child’s eyes of what family life is like when a parent is at war across the world. When her father leaves for a year of being at war, Natalie knows that she will miss him. Natalie is proud of her father, but there is nothing to stop her from wishing he was home. Some things do help her feel better. Natalie works with her Nana to send her dad and the other service men and women cookies and treats they have made. Natalie, her mom, and her brother can see and talk to Dad over the computer, and the kindness of friends at school and at church help her feel supported and loved. But there is nothing like the day when her Dad comes home at last.

* As Veteran's Day approaches, I asked my daughter if she knew why she had off of school on Veteran's Day.  She answered something along the lines of honoring the "army men and marines."  Before reading a book about Veteran's Day, I thought it would be nice to read a book about current troops stationed abroad.  This book was written by Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Jill.  They have personal experience, since their son was deployed to Iraq.  This book mainly focuses on 5 year old Natalie dealing with her dad's year long deployment overseas.  To a child, a year seems like forever.  She tries to be brave through it all and always remembers to "God Bless Our Troops" when she prays at night.  This book was very touching and almost had me in tears while I was reading it to the kids.  They have not had any personal experience with family in the armed forces, being deployed.  However, one of our neighbors recently went abroad for a year to Afghanistan.  He has three young children and I tried to use them as a connection to the girl in the story.  We have decided that between now and Christmas we will try to get together a box of goodies to send overseas to our neighbor to thank him for protecting our country.  If you know a child who has a parent overseas than this is a definite must-read!

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.

Gnocchi & Bacon Gratin with Garlic Bechamel

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I needed gnocchi and this is the dish that I needed it for.  When I first saw the recipe, it had me at bacon and garlic.....yum!  This was a good storm day meal to make.  There were a lot of components to this dish so it was nice to cook it and not be in a rush.  It is a perfect comfort food type dish perfect for a cold night.  My brother was staying with us during the storm since he was without power and he had and enjoyed this dish with us.  I posted the original recipe below, the only change I made was not adding the nutmeg.  Unless I'm making a dessert, I don't usually add nutmeg to my main dishes. 

Gnocchi & Bacon Gratin with Garlic Bechamel
recipe from Lauren's Latest

Ingredients:
3 slices thick-cut bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large cloves garlic
17 oz. package gnocchi
salt & pepper, to taste
scant 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

topping-
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Directions:
Bring large pot of water to boil. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and butter into small skillet and place on medium heat. Once butter melts, stir breadcrumbs around to moisten completely and brown lightly. Remove from heat and set aside. Once bacon is cooked and crisp, remove from skillet onto paper towels to drain. Leave 1 tablespoon bacon grease in pan and melt in 2 tablespoons butter. Grate in garlic cloves and cook 1 minute. Sprinkle in flour and whisk. Cook 1-2 minutes and then whisk in milk slowly to prevent lumps. Add in salt, pepper and nutmeg and reduce heat to low. Pour gnocchi into boiling water and cook until they start to float, 2-3 minutes. While gnocchi is cooking, crumble cooked bacon. Drain gnocchi and stir into sauce. Add in bacon. Pour entire contents into buttered baking dish and sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes and serve hot.

Family Rating: 2 thumbs up.