Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

I know it sounds strange but my oldest daughter LOVES cottage cheese.  It is her all-time favorite food and she literally begs for it.  Since she is not a great breakfast eater I wanted to give this recipe a shot.  Make sure to use a nonstick skillet or griddle for these, otherwise you will end up with a big mess.  They are delicious and they turn out much denser and moister than your average pancake.

*Recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking, but I got the idea from my favorite cooking blog- Smitten Kitchen.  Go check it out it will inspire you to cook like crazy!

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup milk
1 cup cottage cheese (I used lowfat)
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

2 large egg whites

  1. Lightly butter skillet or griddle over medium heat.  If you are using electric, preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, cottage cheese, butter, egg yolks, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and gently mix just until combined.  
  4. Beat the 2 egg whites until they are stiff, but not dry.  Fold them into the batter.  
  5. Spoon 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle for each pancake.  Cook until the top is starting to dry around the edges, then turn.  Serve with pure maple syrup. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Petit Fours For Dummies

I don't know about you but my kids love anything miniature.  I am not much of a baker and fondant is certainly out of my realm.  This is a quick and easy way to make "fake" petit fours for your kiddos.  These are great to take to school for a birthday or to make for a fancy tea party with your favorite little princess.

You will need:
  • 1 Angel food cake (look for the rectangular one not round- its easier to cut into small cubes)
  • Food coloring
  • White icing
  • Starburst candies
  • Small decorative cutters (all I had on hand was circles, but you can find little flowers, etc.)

  1. Cut rectangular cake into 1 1/2 inch thick slices.  Then cut each slice into four to make 4 small rectangular mini cakes. 
  2. Arrange mini cakes on a cooling rack that has been placed inside a baking sheet lined with foil.
  3. Add desired amount of food coloring to white icing (I used 3 drops of red to make pink).  Stir well and microwave for 15 seconds.  Stir again and microwave again for another 10-15 seconds.  You want icing to be very thin and runny otherwise it will not pour easily.
  4. Slowly and carefully pour icing over angel food cakes.  Go slowly and make sure to pour around edges to cover sides well.  If your icing gets too thick stop and microwave again.  Repeat until all cakes are covered.  Place cakes in fridge for 10-15 minutes to set icing.
  5. Microwave individual Starburst candies (without wrapper people) for 8 seconds.  Using your palm, press candy into thin layer on counter top.  You may use some non-stick cooking spray if you find it too sticky.  Then use the small cutter to cut out a shape and place on top of cake to decorate.  Use your imagination and have some fun!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How To Handle Picky Eaters

Since I started this blog I have gotten lots of questions about how to manage picky eaters.  The truth is that every kid is somewhat picky.  Kids tend to like the basic and the familiar and that's okay by me.  I don't know that I have any wise secrets to offer, only my personal philosophy on the topic.  Some may disagree, but since I get asked so often I will share anyways.  It's just an opinion- take it or leave it...

I am well aware that many moms today steer away from any processed or fried foods.  I completely understand, but I also feel that kids need to be kids and you can't make every meal from scratch.  You are not going to kill your kid with a Pop Tart now and then.  I also think there are some positive things to teach kids by not making certain foods "forbidden."  I have never had an issue with my kids enjoying an afternoon ice cream or eating a cookie with lunch.  As a result, my kids don't really get excited about sweets.  Half the time they leave the cookie on their plate after two bites. 

All that being said, my basic rule of thumb is to try to provide good balanced meals when I am cooking at home.  This is usually some protein (meat) with fruit and a veggie.  I am not going to pretend that my kids always eat it all.  In fact Mary Catherine barely eats any veggies.  I usually have to work very hard to get a few bites in.  My boys however will eat salad till the cows come home- go figure.  I put one of everything on the plate and I always make sure to have at least one familiar food on there too.  Let them eat and relax.  As for eating out, I let my kids order what sounds good- within reason people.  I am not going to waste my time or money forcing them to order something they will barely eat.  If they want the macaroni, go for it.  I lead by example and make sure to eat and cook well myself.  Beyond that try not to get too frustrated and remember that their preferences will mature as they grow up.  Good luck!

Greek Salad and Talapia

This salad is super quick so it's great to throw together on a weeknight.  I like it chunky and full of veggies so I don't use much romaine lettuce.  You can adapt it any way you like and leave off anything you don't care for.  I am sort of a food snob so I usually hate most bottled dressings.  I found this one at Kroger and it is to die for, plus it makes things quick and easy. 

Roughly chop:
1/2 English cucumber (this is the long skinny kind that comes in a clear wrapper)
2 small tomatoes (I used a yellow and a red tomato)
1 handful pitted kalamata olives
1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 red onion (chop into small pieces so it is not too strong)
1 small head Romaine hearts

Top with a squeeze of lemon, fresh salt and pepper, and Ken's Creamy Greek Dressing.  Couldn't be easier!  Then on to the fish...

I top the salad with a piece of pan sauteed talapia.  Here's the secret trick to my talapia...

Take the fish and run it through a shallow dish with white distilled vinegar just a second or two on each side.  Then rinse in water and pat dry.  I know it sounds crazy but this step gets rid of any fishy taste!  Next season the fish with salt and pepper.  Run it through 1 egg beaten and press both sides into panko bread crumbs.  Saute over medium heat in 1/2 inch olive oil until golden (about 5 min or less) per side.  Serve with a wedge of lemon.  You can make this whole meal in 20 minutes... can't beat that!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Diary of an Exhausted Mommy

The crew en route

Traveling will never be quite the same!

River Day 1
Oh my goodness, I am tired.  We loaded the car and drove to the river cabin today.  As many of you know traveling with kids is a lot like moving.  By the time we got there I was already exhausted.  Of course none of this fazed the kids so I began the task of unpacking and entertaining the troops.

 First I filled a bucket with little water balloons and let the kids throw them on the pavement (not at each other- I am not that adventurous).  I have to say that the water balloons were a total hit!  Cheap, quick to set up, and tons of entertainment.  The kids threw them into the sidewalk and happily yelled, "SCORE" every time one burst.  Up next was bubbles, a boat ride, swimming, snow cones, dinner, and bath time.  I am dead!  Glad I can share this trip bit by bit because I will need all the motivation I can get.  Tonight I am going to pass out... tomorrow we conquer fishing and soft pretzels.

River Day 2
I have never made bread and am not much of a baker so I figured I'd start easy with a soft pretzel recipe.  Since this is a week of many firsts why not take on another right?  I found this recipe from Alton Brown's show called Good Eats on Food Network- (go to Alton's Pretzel Recipe for the full recipe).  Of course I have promised to share the good, the bad, and the ugly so here is the pretzel pic...

Okay, so they don't exactly look like pretzels, but I swear they tasted amazing.  In my defense I did let the kids help out shaping them.  I really liked the recipe because it called for you to boil the pretzels first for 30 seconds in water and then bake them with an egg yolk wash.  The result as you can see was not pretty, but super tasty!  I'll get it down next time.  Here are some step by step pics...

After pretzels we were on to fishing (another first).  Thank goodness my babysitter had some idea what she was doing and she rigged the kids lines with bobbers and hooks.  Since this was not exactly high tech fishing we used cut up hot dogs as bait.  Here are my little fishing pros hard at work waiting....

and waiting...
until finally we felt a tug and reeled it in...

Yes, we caught a snapping turtle with a hot dog.  Not exactly dinner, but you should have seen Jake's face.  It was priceless and he still tells everyone he caught a turtle.  Up next was a boat ride and some good old fashioned swimming with my favorite people.

After all that swimming I was ready to relax and so were the kiddos.  We popped some popcorn, watched a movie, cuddled up, and called it a night!

River Day 3
More of the same.  Swimming, boating, and resting.

River Day 4
Time to pack up and head back home.  I have to say I am relieved to head home.  It was fun but I am missing my hubby and his help.

Monday, August 2, 2010

This Weeks Plan

Today I have a hundred thoughts running through my head.  I am all over the place and for that I apologize.  This blog has really inspired me to try new things and to be more creative.  As a result I am getting ready to borrow a sewing machine (Lord help us all) from my sister-in-law.  Every morning as I dress my kids I find myself thinking, I could make that.  Don't get too carried away, I do not intend to make a full wardrobe for my 3 children, only to try out a few things.  We will all see how this new indeavor pans out as I promise to show the good, the bad, and the ugly.

On top of my new quest to sew, I am getting ready to do a mini-renovation in Patrick's room.  He is getting too big for his changing table and I am preparing to put a twin bed in his room to use for dressing and changing him.  In the process, I am going to repaint, and redecorate.  This should all be interesting because I have a very small budget (my husband still doesn't fully know what I am up to).  Having two toddlers on the ground and moving to a new home while pregnant with Patrick, I sort of threw a room together and I have never really loved it.  Now is as good a time as any to tackle it I suppose.  I have some fun ideas and I will share them along the way.

As if these new endeavors were not enough, I have decided to pick up and take all 3 kiddos to the river cabin for the week.  My husband is slammed at work and I know the only way he can get it all done this week will be with a quiet house.  Don't worry, I am not totally insane... I will be taking along a babysitter for some much needed extra hands and eyes.  Even I am not crazy enough to brave the river and driving a boat with 3 little kids alone!  Since the cabin is in the middle of nowhere, you can rightly assume that there is absolutely nothing to do there (oh, and NO internet).  I have been packing all day and I am coming fully armed.  I am bringing plenty of outdoor things to do including bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and little fishing rods.  I am also bringing fun recipes to do with your kids.  I plan to try my hand at bread making and attempt homemade soft pretzels (recipe soon to follow). 

FYI- I have never driven a boat and I have never fished.  One thing is certain... I will return Friday loaded with pics, good stories, and recipes.  This should be interesting...