Monthly Archives: April 2014

Banana Nutella Smoothie

bnsWas it “Take Your Child to Work from Home Day” for you today, too? Was it as much fun for you as it was for me? My son opted out of all the fun things I had planned for him. In a way, he demonstrated EXCELLENT leadership skills. He delegated all the work to me. He’s going to make a superb supervisor one day.

Tomorrow, he’s going to need a great send off to school so I will make him one of his favorite breakfast treats. It is a true leader’s breakfast. If you hosted some future leaders of America today, you may want to send them back to the real world with this, too.

Banana Nutella Smoothie (2 servings)
2-3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup Nutella
5-6 pieces of ice
1/4 cup water

1. Place all the ingredients in the blender in the order listed.
2. Blend on low, slowly increasing speed to high.
3. Yum it up!

This would be just as delightful with almond milk or soy milk instead of yogurt. Just leave out the water. If you don’t love bananas (I don’t) you could put apples in or even avocado. I cannot in good conscious suggest you leave out the fruit. It would no longer be an acceptable breakfast, but it would make a darn good dessert treat.


Homemade Pickle Relish

hprI don’t know about you, but I’m so happy that the weather is getting nice again. I can even deal with the pollen that is coating my car and the inside of my nose. It’s so nice to feel the sun and smell the spring flowers.

I also love being able to grill. We will probably grill at least once a week until November. And we just inherited a HUGE propane grill. So many possibilities!

Last night, we kept it simple and had some fantastic Hebrew National hot dogs on the grill. We don’t have hot dogs very often so these were a real treat. And to go with our treat, I decided to make some homemade Pickle Relish.

Homemade Pickle Relish
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
8 green onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
2 cups finely chopped dill pickles

1. Heat the vinegar with the mustard on medium high until reduced by half.
2. Combine everything else in a container with a lid.
3. When the vinegar is reduced, pour it over the pickle mixture, put the cover on your container and shake shake shake.
4. Refrigerate for an hour and serve nice and cold on your grilled goodies.

This relish had quite a little kick. It was so good! You may be able to tell from the picture, I left my pickle chunks a little on the big side. The carrots were a nice touch. Besides their sunny color, they added a slight sweetness to the relish. Delicious. One word of warning. Boiling vinegar can make a real stink. Be sure to open the doors and windows to keep the air flowing!

Stay tuned for some more fun grill recipes and accompaniments. It’s going to be a great summer!

Asian Chicken Burgers

acbCOMPANY’S COMING!!! Okay, they have come and gone and it was absolutely one of the most precious visits of my life. I write about it a lot, and here I go again. I met some really wonderful people at the First Kids’ State Dinner two years ago. One of the most wonderful was Jen Cowart from Rhode Island. We never actually spoke at the event but got to know each other over Facebook and through our respective blogs. We have become the best of friends. Jen’s husband has family in Virginia who they visit at least once a year, often for Spring Break. They didn’t visit last year but did this year and Don, Jen’s husband graciously agreed to stop at my house for lunch.

I drove my family nuts getting ready. This was the second KSD friend coming to visit in just a few weeks which meant lots of extra cleaning and cooking. I was so excited. I needed to come up with something we could make that would please a variety of pallets, from the most simple to the more adventurous. I settled on Chicken Burgers, some of which I made plain, and some that I made Asian. I knew we could start grilling when Jen and her family reached Baltimore and the burgers would be ready just as they got to our house.

Asian Chicken Burgers
2 lbs chicken breast, ground
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 chopped green onions

1. Combine all the ingredients and shape into patties. We made 12 sliders.
2. Grill until the internal temp is 165, about 5-6 minutes per side.

We covered our burgers and kept them in a warm oven for a few minutes until everyone had gotten out of the van and stretched their legs. I served the burgers with fresh fruit, baked beans, caprese salad and made a delicious Boston Cream Poke Cake from Bunny’s Warm Oven. It was a hit. Everything was a hit. I think this visit will go down as one of the best I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to do it again next year.


Monster Cookies


mcOriginally published April 19, 2013

My dream cookie is a nice, hearty fat chewy cookie with lots of stuff in it that isn’t too sweet.  I have mastered that cookie with these Monster Cookies. These cookies have lots of M&Ms and white chocolate chips as well as oatmeal. I go light on the sugar so a lot of the sweetness comes from the candy and chips.

I call them Monster Cookies after a recipe in a cookbook written by the mother of a friend of my sister called North Country Cabin Cooking. Mine are slightly different. The original recipe has peanut butter and no flour. Mine skips the peanut butter but adds flour. I also make them BIG! The final cookies measured between three and four inches in diameter. My 11 year old and I had a lot of fun making them last night and even used them as inspiration to learn more about circumference, diameter, and all things circle related.

Monster Cookies
1 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 cups oatmeal (instant is fine)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup milk
1 cup M&Ms
1 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Cream butter and sugar.
3. Add eggs and vanilla.
4. Add the dry ingredients gradually. You may want to mix them together in a separate bowl and add them in from there.
5. Add the milk.
6. If you’re using a mixer, you should stop now and take out a nice wooden spoon and use that to add your M&Ms and chips.
7. Drop by rounded tablespoon (if you want big cookies) on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
8. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

If you’re making smaller cookies, adjust the time accordingly.

I wish I could tell you what to adjust if you want to add peanut butter. Maybe less butter? More flour or oats? I honestly don’t know. Maybe one of you baking gurus can leave a comment.

I believe my brother makes these with a little cinnamon. It would be a nice touch. You can add any type of chips you like. They’re great for lunch boxes, great with coffee, tea, midnight snack.


Perfect Roasted Chick Peas

prcpOriginally Posted April 15, 2013

I have been trying for months to perfect the Roasted Chick Pea, and thanks to extensive research and trials, I am happy to say, I’ve done it! I have tried many brands of chick peas; store brands, name brands, organic, etc. I’ve tried very hot ovens and medium hot ovens. I’ve tried long roasting times and shorter times. I think you get it. I’ve tried a lot of methods and I simply couldn’t get the chick peas to dry out completely.

The trick it seems, is using dried chick peas, cooking them and then roasting them. This is beyond ridiculous. I am saying that you take something dry, rehydrate it just so you can dry it out again. It makes no sense. I am asking for your trust. Please, trust me on this.

Perfect Roasted Chick Peas
1 1/2 cups dried chick peas

1. Place the dried chick peas in a 2 or 3 quart pot.
2. Cover with water and cook on medium for 60 minutes
3. After the hour is up, drain the chick peas, dry them a bit and place them in a single layer on a pan sprayed with cooking spray.
4. Place in a 375 degree oven and roast for 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
5. When the 90 minutes are over, turn off the oven and leave the chick peas in there for another 30 minutes.
6. Remove and season as desired.

I opted to season my chick peas with only sea salt. You can add some garlic powder or cayenne pepper or toss them with Parmesan while they are still hot. Roasted chick peas are a great little snack and are much healthier than chips, of course.

Today was another shocking day. As if paying taxes isn’t enough, now we again struggle to process the senseless brutality that occurred in Boston this afternoon. Today, I hope you did the things you love, with the people you love. I cooked because it helps me make sense of the things that don’t make sense.  I really hope I don’t have to hit the kitchen and cook while fighting off tears ever again.