Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumpkin cookies and quesadillas

We had a great time with all of our family last week.  Addy sure enjoyed having the extra playmates around. Uncle Ben and Addy enjoyed computer time together.

This morning we tried to get back into the routine by baking. We had some pumpkin leftover from pumpkin pancakes which inspired us to try pumpkin cookies.  I figure they've got to be somewhat healthy and they turned out really delicious as well.  Since we didn't have exactly a cup of pumpkin I added some of the leftover roasted sweet potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner.

I let Addy do a lot of the scooping today, both measuring and spooning onto the cookie sheet.  She's really getting much more coordinated. It's exciting to watch her move beyond stirring.  Now if I could get her to stop eating the raw ingredients by the handful we have it made.

After we made the cookies we put together cheese and bean quesadillas to serve to the boys for lunch.  Addy  got to spread the beans, sprinkle the cheese and add the top tortilla.  We put them in the fridge to toast after we picked the boys from preschool.  I use a quesadilla maker to toast them but you could also heat them on the stove in a dry pan.  I use refried beans and a mild cheese like Colby jack or cheddar and serve salsa and sour cream on the side for dipping.  I cut them in small wedges using a pizza cutter.

Addy enjoyed "washing" the dishes once we finished our projects.

This recipe comes straight from Betty Crocker's Cookie Jar Cookbook.

Soft Pumpkin Drops

1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup shortening
1 TBL grated orange peel
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or raisins)

Mix wet ingredients, stir in dry ingredients.  Mix in chocolate chips or raisins.  Drop by spoon fulls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 until light brown, 8 to 10 minutes.  Betty Crocker suggests frosting them but we liked them plain.  Even Chad has eaten several of them tonight and he generally doesn't go for sweets.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are getting very excited around here for Thanksgiving.  Aunt Marie and Albert and Uncle Ben are arriving after bedtime tonight. Addy has been going around all day saying "I'm so lucky!" or "I'm so excited!". She really can't wait to see them.

We have the house decorated and Addy and I have been shopping and cooking and shopping some more to get ready for the big week. I have a basic menu planned for each day.  It helps me know that we'll have plenty of time to do things with Addy if we aren't worried about shopping or eating.  I'll also know what needs to be done so I can give our guests tasks to help with.

We've done plenty of meatless cooking this week. Rather than include any recipes this time I think I'll just give some links for exploration.  We've made hummus, roasted kale chips, and tonight we'll have gnocchi withh roasted cauliflower for dinner. Addy wasn't sure about the kale chips, but I liked them a lot and we'll try them again with family this week.  She liked the hummus but said it was a little bit spicy.  I think I added more garlic than she liked.  She loved the gnocchi last time we made it.

Have a great week and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Meatless Monday-Yummy muffins

It's been a very busy week and I haven't had time to blog. We've done plenty of cooking but I've just been too busy to document it.  

We're back to Monday again so I'll post another Meatless Monday recipe.  These muffins are family favorites.  My mom usually serves them soups and stews.  We've started to really enjoy them for snacks and for a quick addition to the lunch Chad packs each day.  They are super healthy and easy to make as well.  Mom says the recipes probably comes from the 1981 La Leche League cookbook, "Whole Foods for the Whole Family".

La Leche League is a great organization that supports breastfeeding mothers and their families.  I've enjoyed being a member of my local group.  I strongly suggest finding a group if you are expecting or have a baby.  While I'm on the topic of breastfeeding, here is an interesting article that my dad ran across this week.

These muffins would be a great gift for a new nursing mom.  Muffins are quick to make, easy to eat, and these are nutritious too.  I suggest making half the batch regular size muffins and half mini muffins.  The mini muffins are easier for the toddlers to handle and there is less waste.

Recently Addy and I went with some of the friends we made through La Leche League to Rocky Mountain Milling. Now I can make these muffins with fresh, local flour. 

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 brown sugar or honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins (chopped dried apricots are also great)
1 egg beaten
1 cup buttermilk, yogurt or sour milk (I often use a combo of whatever dairy I need to use up)
3 TBL oil or melted butter (you could substitute an equal amount of applesauce) 

Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly,  including raisins.  Make a well in the center and add the liquids.  Mix just until dry ingredients are moist.   Fill muffin pans half full and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Mini muffins take about 12 minutes.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Meatless Monday-Easy Bean Soup

This is a quick meatless Monday soup to make that can be easily adjusted for your diners preferences.  I usually keep all the ingredients on hand so that we can make it any time we need to throw a dinner together in a hurry.  My dad developed this when we were growing up.

Addy enjoys using the blender and sampling the beans as we add them.  She would rather eat the beans whole than in a soup so I set out a portion for her before making the soup for us.

It's also a nice warming meal for fall with some cornbread and a salad.

Easy Bean Soup

1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup salsa
1 cup half/half
optional toppings: jalapeƱos, sour cream, limes, cilantro

Drain beans and blend together with vegetable broth.  I like the salsa chunks in the soup but if you prefer a smoother soup blend the salsa as well.  Pour into sauce pan and heat gently on the stove stirring occasionally. Stir in half and half and heat just to desired serving temperature.  Serve with optional toppings.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Messy Macaroni and Cheese

Once a week I try to fix one meatless meal.  I do this for several reasons.  It started as a way to make sure our meals were diverse and it is often a less expensive way to eat and healthier.  I recently came across this idea of a meatless meal once a week in the blogging world.

Today is not Monday, which is the popular meatless day in the blogs, but I want to share one of our favorite meatless meals;  baked macaroni and cheese, green beans and stewed tomatoes.

Yum, it just makes me think of eating this meal at home growing up.  We always ate these three elements together. My mom recently told me that she learned to put them together from my grandmother.  My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago so it feels good to be thinking of her tonight. Below is a picture taken this summer of four generations who have enjoyed this meal.

Sometimes I use Alton Brown's recipe which is delicious but today I used the Betty Crocker recipe.  It is a little more mild than Alton Brown's and the one we always used growing up.  Addy and I made it this morning and put it in the fridge.  Then about 45 minutes before we wanted to eat I put it in the oven.

Cooking with Addy today was particularly messy.  This was because there isn't much she could do to help other than grate the cheese and then hang out with my while I stirred the white sauce on the stove. But it was also partially my fault. I crushed some crackers for a crunchy top and dropped them all over the stove and floor.  We had to vacuum.

She did well holding the grater very carefully and helping me hold the cheese.  She doesn't have the coordination or the strength to grate by herself but she does have the desire.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups uncooked macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups milk
2 cups grated or cubed Cheddar cheese plus more of sprinkling on top
1/4 toasted bread crumbs or about 8 Saltine type crackers

Cook noodles as directed.  Melt butter in saucepan then add flour, salt, pepper, ground mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Stir  over low heat until thick and bubbly.  Stir in milk, bring to boil while stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.  Turn off heat, stir in cheese until melted.  Stir noodles into cheese sauce and pour into a 2 qt. casserole.  Add a layer of grated cheese and then top that with a layer of buttered toasted bread crumbs or cracker crumbs.  I like a sprinkle of Italian seasoning in the cracker crumbs.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

I hope you enjoy it.  I highly recommend paring this with green beans and stewed tomatoes.

What meatless meals do you enjoy?