Happy Holidays (Take 1)

We’ve had a big year this 2016. New house to settle into (and a new kitchen to get used to)! We’re big on thanking those around us this time of year who have helped keep our sanity high and our hair color (relatively) natural. Today we’re out delivering to some of those that helped do just that! I hope you all out there have had as much luck as we’ve had with great friends and neighbors! 

Pumpkin Biscuits 

In a rare moment of silence (my son is actually taking a nap) I’m enjoying some biscuits the two of us whipped up earlier today. 

I had roasted a pumpkin and stuck it in the fridge with high hopes for an inspiring brain fart. This morning I decided I would make slightly sweet biscuits. I wanted something easy, that B could help with. This recipe took 15 minutes to throw together and 20 minutes to bake. Not bad?

This is what you’ll need;

1 small pumpkin, roasted

1 3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 1/2 tea baking powder

1/4 tea salt

1/4 tea baking soda

3/4 cup of the above roasted pumpkin, puréed

1/3 cup half and half

Preheat oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Purée your roasted pumpkin 

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar together in a standing mixer on low.

Add pumpkin purée and half and half to the mixer and mix until incorporated.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until not very sticky, adding flour as needed.

Roll out with pin or by hand until about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into biscuit rounds. This made 20 small biscuits!

Bake for 20 minutes and done!

Seafood Pasta (or the day my son ate mussels)

Not to rub in how awesome my kids are (rub rub rub) but despite some tantrums, lack of sleep and general food dislikes, we have somehow created children that will at least try what you put in front of them. Awesome right? Well that has always excluded shellfish. (Maybe they were trying to keep kosher without me? I kid.) Well my friends we have entered into the “Beckett officially eats more food items than his sister” stage. And I’m pretty ecstatic that he chose mussels as his way to push past that hurdle. My husband and I love mussels. We choose them over most foods (besides cheese in my case and sour cream and cheddar ruffles in my husbands, blech). 

So while cooking for friends, which was a pseudo disaster since I’ve learned (this past weekend) that if you want a mean Goan curry or a homemade pita or a French palmier I’m your girl, but if you want a pot pie, well, it might take me a couple times. So I was making a simple clam spaghetti base and adding mussels and shrimp. Easy enough, delicious enough, right? B was trying to rip the mussels bag. What? I chalked it up to him being slightly nuts in the kitchen. Then I plated, and he grabbed at those shells like they were gold. So we handed him one. He not only opened it, but ate the meat. So we handed him another, and another. Well you get the gist. In a classic Erin moment I neglected to take a picture of the dish, but of course took one of B’s accomplishment!

Here’s my recipe for an easy seafood pasta, serves 4 adults and 3 kids with a ton of leftovers!

This is what you’ll need;

1 lb littlenecks, washed

1 lb mussels, washed

1 lb medium shrimp

1/4 cup clam juice

2 cups white wine

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium white onion, diced

1 stick butter

salt and pepper to taste

2 -3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

2 lbs pasta

2 freshly squeezed lemons.

Wash your little necks and mussels thoroughly. 

In a sauté pan over medium heat add your  butter, onions and garlic. In about 5 minutes add clam juice and white wine. Simmer for 10 minutes and cook pasta of your choice per box directions. When pasta is ready add seafood to liquid, salt and pepper. Close sauté pan tightly with a lid. in 3-5 minutes your seafood should be ready. Remember to discard any shells that haven’t opened. Toss pasta in, add parsley and lemon and serve!

Thai Basil Pesto (the second time around)

Please don’t clean up pesto with your socks! As my toddler looks at me guiltily with green smeared sock in hand, looks back at the floor then happily starts licking the floor. Definitely not how I imagined cooking with my kids. But my second is redefining how I get my kids cooking, finding new ways to make them both excited about cooking (and doing it safely, eek!)  is important, just…harder.

B has been a bit under the weather this week and I’m trying to find new ways to entice him to take his medicine. Pesto being maybe his favorite food seemed like the perfect intermediary for two different medicine doses.

Thai basil seems to be the bigger hit when making and eating pesto with my kids. It’s more fragrant, slightly spicier tasting and goes with EVERYTHING.

This is what you’ll need;

1 bunch Thai basil

1/2 lemon, squeezed

1/2 tea salt

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp olive oil 

1 tbsp almonds

Yes, I make my pesto with almonds. They are lighter, less expensive and less likely to get stuck up a kids nose. Yup, you read that right. So almonds it is.

In a mini cuisinart, add your oil, garlic and almonds. Pulse on chop for 15 seconds then unplug and let your kid (s) de-leaf the basil and add to the cuisinart. Pulse on grind for 15-30 seconds then add lemon juice and salt. Pulse again for about 15 seconds, unplug and taste. If it’s a little dry and grainy looking add more olive oil and pulse until combined. Taste and either serve, or refrigerate for up to a week. Since this is made without dairy you can also freeze for up to 3 months. For individual use servings freeze in an ice cube tray, otherwise we use a freezer friendly mason jar.

And now I find myself asking him to stop sticking markers into sockets…sigh.

To Say It’s Been Awhile…

To say it’s been awhile is a serious understatement. It’s been a year. And that’s okay. I’ve been beating myself up about not posting, not updating the site, not, not, not. The truth is, I haven’t been cooking the same way. I have a very active second child, who was simply not kitchen inclined like the first, and it was a freaking miracle if I managed to get grilled cheese on the table, let alone a well balanced meal that involved co-cooking with both my kids. 

But over the summer we moved towns. I gained (a little bit) more patience, and started trying to cook with both kids and you know what? It’s slow going, but we’re going. Zara is very self sufficient in the kitchen and B is…well he’s becoming more involved.

Both of my kids LOVE making pizza. While making pizza dough from scratch is easy and something we’ve done before, right now I’m valuing time and convenience over ‘from scratch’ foods. So I bought a ball of dough from my local grocery store. 

We always make either a basic cheese pizza or a pesto cheese as these are the big favorites. I have B roll out the dough and Z top it. B eats spoonfuls of pesto and Z spoonfuls of cheese. They’re well matched.

For the adults, I made a kale, potato and onion pesto pizza. It’s easy, with minimal ingredients. This is what you’ll need:

1 ball of thawed pizza dough

2 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp pesto

1 bunch kale

2 onions, roughly sliced

6-8 multi colored baby potatoes, cooked through


salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F

Dice or slice potatoes, salt, and cook until they can easily be speared with a fork. Set aside.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface until 1/2 inch thick and pizza like in shape

Using a pastry brush, paint on the olive oil until the top is glistening 

Pop in the oven on a pizza pan or baking sheet for 15 minutes.

While this is happening, sauté your onions and kale in a little bit of oil.

Remove pizza from oven and press down the dough with a spoon, leaving the crust edges up. Spoon on the pesto to form the sauce base. Place back into the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove pizza and add all your toppings. Squeeze lemon making sure all seeds are removed. Top with a bit of salt and pepper and place back in oven for 10-15 minutes.

Serve hot with a fresh herb salad.

Apple Crumble Bites

We are knee deep in Apple (and hurricane) season here in the northeast and last weekend we took a family fun trek to CN Smith farm. Normally this farm is a fabulous idea with small kids. Easy parking, some animals, lots of apples and donuts (not to mention a kitch halloween display). I don’t know if they were featured on something recently but it was a zoo and prices were a bit crazy ($23 per peck). We had fun but wow, we might be expanding our PYO repertoire next year.

With a peck of apples we of course ate them but my kids aren’t the pick up an apple and just eat it type. Apparently I’m the only one in the house that does that. So this week, realizing the apples were starting to become more decorative that a standby snack, I decided to transform them, into baby muffins.

It’s easy, both kids can eat a ton of them and it used a couple apples…I’ve got plans for the others.

This is what you’ll need;

2 cups flour

1 tea baking soda

1/2 tea baking powder

1/2 tea salt

1 stick butter, softened

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 tea vanilla

1/4 cup applesauce

3 large apples, diced

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tea flour

1/2 tea cinnamon 

1 tbsp butter

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Line muffin tins or grease.

In a large bowl, add softened butter, sugar and eggs. Cream until well blended then add vanilla and applesauce. Mix well. Fold in diced apples.

Add flour mixture in thirds, making sure flour is mixed well before adding next bit.

In the now empty flour bowl add brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter. Mix with your fingers until butter breaks down into a coarse pea size consistency.

Fill muffin cups 1/3 full and top with brown sugar mixture. 

Bake for 8-11 minutes for mini muffins and 13-18 minutes for larger muffins.


Eggplant Bites

We are finally getting used to our back to school schedules, which means cooking dinner again instead of ordering pizza! (Am I the only one that shouts yay at this?) I took quite a bit of the summer off from blogging to work on other projects and can happily say most of those went well.

To get back into the swing of things I thought I would try my hand at making a vegetable that doesn’t go down very well over here (eggplant) a kid friendly makeover.

This is an easy recipe that is pan to table in minutes (perfect for those hungry school kids!) My toddler thought these were the best thing ever, my kindergartener saw right through these (but ate some anyway) “mom these are not chicken nuggets!”

This is what you’ll need;

1 medium eggplant, cut into “nugget sized bites”

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tea pepper

1 tea salt

1 1/2 cup panko 

1/2 cup vegetable oil

in 3 small bowls add

  • flour with salt and pepper
  • milk
  • panko

Add the eggplant bites to the flour to coat.

In a sauté pan, add oil and heat to medium high. When oil is hot enough (you can test by dipping a utensil in the oil, bubbles should surround the utensil) you can start the rest of the process, rapid fire.

I always reserve a plate with a paper towel to remove excess oil.

Take flour dusted eggplant and quickly dip into milk and then coat with panko. Then place in hot oil. Dont add too many or they won’t fry well. Flip after 1 minute. Remove (2 minutes cooking time total) and add to paper towel plate. Serve immediately. My kindergartener ate these with ketchup. The rest of us ate them with tortellini and homemade pasta sauce. 


Buffalo Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

I know what you’re thinking…what????? … I know, it’s a little crazy but bear with me. I love spaghetti squash. I could eat it once a week. To get my family on board with that idea I’ve been trying variations of their favorites using the squash. Since my husband loves anything and everything buffalo chicken style I thought I would give it a go.

Except I didn’t have chicken (whoops) but I did have pulled pork and it’s the other white meat right?

I’m going to admit off the bat that this was not my favorite spaghetti squash meal but I caveat that with I don’t really like buffalo style stuff so, if you like that, you’ll like this.

This meal is really easy to pull together and you can alter the spice level to what your family prefers. I took a horrendous picture (sorry mom) that even looks bad edited (I’m not selling this dish on this post am I?) here goes, if you make it, I’d love to hear from you!!

This is what you’ll need;

1 medium sized spaghetti squash

4 oz cream cheese

1/3 cup hot sauce

1/3 cup ranch dressing

1 cup pulled pork

1 celery stalk diced

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup scallions diced

1/2 tea salt

1/2 tea pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F

Slice squash lengthwise and remove seeds and middle bit.

brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, flesh side.

Turn flesh side down on a cookie sheet and place in preheated oven for 40 minutes. You should be able to pierce squash with a knife and fluff the inside up easily.

While squash is cooking melt hot sauce and cream cheese over medium heat until cream cheese is melted. Turn heat to low and add ranch, celery and pulled pork. Stir until mixed.

Fluff up squash and add mixture to squash. Top with cheddar if you want (we did). 

Cook for 15 minutes and serve hot.