Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Buttercream Sandwiched Sugar Cookies

From sandwich cookies
Aren't these cookies cute - I can see them at a little girl's princess party, a baby shower or even on dessert plate after a casual or fancy dinner!

The recipe is my grandmother's sugar cookie recipe that I originally posted here.

The buttercream is my favorite Neoclassical Buttercream by Rose Levy Beranbaum - those who read this blog regularly know she is my baking idol). I colored the icing pink and sandwiched it between two rectangular shaped cookies. But your favorite frosting - white, chocolate, or mmm even lemon would be spectacular. My kids and I are planning another round of sugar cookies this week - in a Spring theme. I'll post when ready!

Note: if you use my sugar cookie recipe and are using smaller cookie cutters like these, 8 minutes in the oven seems about right.
From sandwich cookies

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chipotle BBQ Sauce

From bbq pork
I came across the original version of this sauce while searching for something to go with a pulled pork I was making. I added chipotle hot sauce, smoked paprika and Old Bay seasoning to bring out a great heat that lingers but is not overpowering. It's delicious.

Adapted from: Memphis Blues Barbecue House: Bringin’ Southern BBQ Home

By George Siu and Park Heffelfinger
Makes about 4 cups

8 Tbsp tomato paste
4 Tbsp brown sugar
4 Tbsp molasses
4 Tbsp white vinegar
4 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp ketchup
4 tsp mustard
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp  onion powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp or more chipotle hot sauce
4 tsp Old Bay or other seasoned salt
2 cups water

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk thoroughly. Simmer over low heat, whisking frequently for  at least 1 hour - I usually do it for 90 minutes or longer. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

This is great on pulled pork or with homemade chicken wings or chickstrips.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Chocolate-Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.
From tian

From tian

I had never made a tian of any kind. This dessert version is lovely but I have to warn you: it is time consuming to make from scratch!

Preparation time:

- Pate Sablee: 20 minutes to make, 30 minutes to rest, 15 minutes to roll out, 20 minutes to bake
- Marmalade: 20 minutes to make, 30 minutes to blanch
- Orange segments: 20 minutes, overnight to sit
- Caramel: 15 minutes, overnight to sit
- Chocolate Whipped Cream: overnight then 15 minutes
- Assembling: 20 minutes
- Freezer to Set: 10 minutes

Equipment required:

• 9 inch spring form pan
• A food processor
• A stand-up or hand mixer
• Parchment paper or a silicone sheet
• A baking sheet
• A rolling pin

For the Pate Sablee:


2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon ; 4 grams


Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.

Using your spring form pan as a guide, cut dough into circle the same size as the pan (I just used a pizza cutter and cut around the pan base. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circle of dough is just golden. There will be extra dough.

For the Marmalade:
Freshly pressed orange juice ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams
1 large orange used to make orange slices
cold water to cook the orange slices
pectin 5 grams
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked

Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).

Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:

For this step you will need 8 oranges. I used Cara oranges.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

[See YouTube video in the References section below for additional information on segmenting oranges.]

For the Caramel:
To be honest I would just buy caramel sauce and save LOTS of time. I found the sugar was easily burnt before it began to melt.

granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams

Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.
Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.
Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

[Tip: Be very careful when making the caramel — if you have never made caramel before, I would suggest making this step while you don’t have to worry about anything else. Bubbling sugar is extremely, extremely hot, so make sure you have a bowl of ice cold water in the kitchen in case anyone gets burnt!]

For the Whipped Cream


heavy whipping cream 2 cups
3 oz dark chocolate ( I use Lindt)
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 2 tablespoons

In small sauce pan, add cream and chocolate. Carefully melt chocolate into cream over low heat.  Remove from heat and refrigerate over night.

In small bowl add hot water and gelatine, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.

[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]

Assembling the Dessert

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Put spring form pan together.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.
Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circle of dough ready to use.
Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of the spring form pan. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom, add a layer of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills 2/3 of the pan in an even layer. Leave at least an inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough
Carefully place a circle of dough over the whipped cream (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for an hour. You can leave it over night though the oranges will freeze (I liked it).

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the pan to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Note: Before I added the oranges I place a non stick circular round on the bottom of the pan. It made for easy removal later and I was able to slowly peel it away from the oranges, keeping everything in place.

This challenge, quite honestly, was a challenge! It was time consuming. If I were to make this again I would definitely buy marmalade, and caramel sauce. I think a shortbread cookie base would also work nicely.

Taste verdict: The entire family loved the combination of orange and chocolate. It was delicious.

Assorted Photos:
From tian
From tian
From tian
From tian
From tian
From tian


http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-tian.htm (An article about the dessert known as tian.)

YouTube link on how to segment an orange: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG5mcEEBlcI

To learn more about Pectin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pectin

What to substitute for Pectin: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Dictionary/P/Pectin-6222.aspx

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Roasted Garlic Tzatziki

From tzatziki
I love tzatziki - as a dip with vegetables, fresh pita triangles or homemade baked pita chips, or as an accompaniment to meat dishes or even as a sandwich spread. The only down side to tzatziki is the sometimes overpowering garlic aftertaste. This recipe frees you from breathmints! I use roasted garlic instead or raw which cuts down on the garlic bite but also brings a new subtle take on the flavour of this dip. Even the kids like it.

I use Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt differs from regular North American yogurt in that Greek yogurt is a blend of cream and milk and it is strained longer than regular yogourt. You will find Greek yogurt creamier and firmer than most yogurts you have tried. It also has a much higher percentage of milk fat compared to regular whole milk yogurts. This results in more calories per serving than the yogourt most of us have on a daily basis but this dip is a treat, not a daily pleasure, so I never feel guilty about indulging in it every now and then.

Click here for Printable Recipe.

2 cups Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt
1 english cucumber, peeled and grated
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 bulbs of garlic, roasted
extra oil to roast garlic

Roast garlic and strain cucumbers ahead of time:
From tzatziki

Roast Garlic
Cut 1 cm off the tops off garlic bulbs, removing enough so that the top of each garlic clove is seen.

Place the bulb (cut side up) on a piece of aluminium foil and lightly coat the top with vegetable oil.

Fold the sides of the foil up to prevent the oil from running over, but don’t seal it–leave the top wide open to prevent steaming of the garlic.

Place in a heated oven (375°) for anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. When done, the heads will be carmelized and soft enough to squish out. The results will be a paste like consistency. Once cooled, squish the contents of the bulbs out into a small bowl.

Note: Cut off any hard bits (too carmelized) on the tops of the roasted garlic.
From tzatziki

1. Place grated cucumbers loosely in strainer and sprinkle with salt.
2. Place in fridge for at least 2 hours.
3. Place strained cucumbers on paper towel and pat dry.
Note: If you don't strain them the final dip will end up quite watery.

The Dip
1. Combine lemon juice, garlic and oil in small dish.
2. In large bowl gently combine juice/oil mix, yogourt, and strained cucumbers.
3. If desired you can also add dill or mint.

Serve with veggies and pita. Enjoy!
From tzatziki

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pretty-in-Pink Purse Cake

Pretty-in-Pink Purse Cake
From Purse Cake

I made this cake for a friend's birthday. She has more handbags than anyone I know!

It's really simple to make. Bake your favorite 8 or 9 inch 2-layer cake and mix up a batch of your favorite icing. Cut off a couple of inches of one end of both cakes so that you can stand up the cakes. Spread a layer of icing between the cakes and stand them up. Icing the outside of the cakes and smooth.

If you are using fondant, colour as desired. Roll out fondant and cut one inch strips to cover cake as in picture. Also roll out bag trimming. Cut another piece for the handle. I also cut out, with small cookie cutters, a few fondant pieces to decorate the purse.

Hope you like it, as much as I do!
From Purse Cake
From Purse Cake
From Purse Cake

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pine Nut Gateau Breton

From gateau breton
Have you ever craved something moist, buttery, not too sweet, something with a distinct texture and something that feels good to bite into? Then you have come to the right place. This Gateau Breton is the answer to your craving. This version uses toasted pine nuts which adds another rich discernable layer of flavour to this dessert. It pairs perfectly with a coffee at the end of a meal. PS it is also makes a great breakfast :) This recipe is adapted from Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. (This book should be in your kitchen.)

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
3/4 cup berry sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 large egg yolks
1.5 tbsp rum
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups + 3 tbsp flour sifted before measuring
1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash

What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Grease and flour a 9 inch spring form pan (mine was 3 inch high but Rose says you can also use a tart pan or 9 x 2 cake pan)
  3. |In food processer, pulse the pine nuts, salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar until nuts are finely chopped.
  4. Beat the remaining sugar and butter in stand mixer for 1 minute.
  5. Add the yolks one at a time. Mix each for 20-30 seconds.
  6. Add the nut mixture, rum, vanilla and beat until smooth.
  7. Add the flour in 4 additions. Beat until just incorporated at each addition (15 seconds or so).
  8. Make sure the all the flour is incorporated (including the bits that get stuck at the bottom of the bowl).
  9. Transfer batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
  10. Brush top of cake with beaten egg.
  11. Using fork or tip of knife draw cross hatchlines across cake.
  12. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a deep golden brown.
  13. Cool for 10 minutes before removing sides of pan or inverting.
  14. Cool completely.
From gateau breton

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cheesy Pasta Casserole

OK, as much as we all like from time-to-time to feel the satisfaction of lovingly crafting a time consuming, complicated 4- star meal, most days all I want to accomplish is a quick, nutritious, and delicious meal that my kids will eat without complaining!

This dish fits the bill - very quick, very easy, very delicious. And yes, it passes the kid taste test.

Any pasta will do though in this case I used Cavatappi  or “Corkscrew” pasta - it's like macaroni but different enough for the kids to take notice. The tight spiral locks-in the flavor allowing the shape to pair with both simple and sophisticated sauces. In this case, it was a simple meat sauce. And since my kids love cheese and creamy foods I added preshredded, extra stringy cheese to the pasta and sauce and then a bit of sharper cheddar to the top. Of course, you can spice it up if you or your kids like some heat. Chopped onions or other veggies like carrots also work well in this dish.

1 lb of lean ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning (optional)

1 - 2 jars Newman's Own Marinara Sauce (depends on how saucy you like it)
1 cup pregrated cheese
1/2 cup grated cheese for top

500 g package of corkscrew pasta

What to do
  1. Mix salt pepper and Old Bay seasoning with beef.
  2. Brown beef over medium heat until cooked through.
  3. In large casserole dish add beef and sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on package.
  5. Add pasta to casserole dish.
  6. Add 1 cup cheese.
  7. Stir well.
  8. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  9. Place in preheated 350 degree oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes until heated through, bubbling at the sides and cheese in melted.
Note: If you don't have 30 minutes to spare throw it all in a big sauce pan and, over medium heat, warm until cheese is nicely melted and creamy.
From cheesy

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Coconut Cake

From coconut cake
This is one of my Mom's many amazing loaf recipes. I love eating a slice of this when it's still warm and with a little butter spread on it. mmmm, I'm hungry already!

Traditionally, my mom serves this plain or with butter. In this version, I have added a bit of "spring" to it by dividing the batter into 4 equal bowls and mixed each with a different colour food colouring. I then put the 2 coloured batters on two layers as in the picture. Enjoy!
From coconut cake

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fine ground unsweetened coconut

 What to do:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add eggs one at a time until well mixed.
4. Add milk and vanilla.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
6. Add coconut.
7. Add dry to the wet ingredients and stir until just blended.
8. Put batter into loaf pan.
9. Bake 60 -70 minutes until it passes the toothpick test.
10. Cool 10 minutes.
11. Remove from pan and let cooling finish on cake rack.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don't Sing the Blues... make Blueberry Bran Muffins instead

My kids and husband love blueberries muffins and I love bran muffins – to satisfy everyone I baked up a batch of these delectable bites. Good for snacks or breakfast these are quick to mix up and throw in the oven. The recipe is based on one I found on epicurious. I used a combo of sour cream and yogurt but either works. I also added an egg yolk because I like a denser muffin. For a lighter version leave out the extra egg yolk. Enjoy!
From blueberry muffins

• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 egg yolk
• 1/3 cup sour cream
• 2/3 cup yogurt – plain or fruit flavoured
• 1/4 cup molasses
• ¾ cup fresh blueberries
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup wheat bran

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and the brown sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the egg and yolk, the sour cream, yogourt and the molasses.

3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking soda, the salt, and the bran.

4. Add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture bowl.

5. Mix the batter until it is just combined. (The batter will be lumpy.)

6. Fold in blueberries.

7. Spoon the batter into 12 greased standard muffin tins or tin lined with muffin paper cups.

8. Bake the muffins in the middle of a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown or inserted tooth pick comes out clean.

9. Cool 10 minutes and turn out onto a rack and let them cool completely.

Click here for a printable verison of this recipe.
From blueberry muffins

Monday, March 8, 2010

Toy Box Baby Shower Cake

From shower cake
About seven or so years ago, I completed Wilton’s cake decorating courses. I have to confess that I didn’t put the lessons to very good use. In fact, it wasn’t until I had kids that I found a desire to make beautifully decorated cakes.

My first attempt was not very good. However, by the time my daughter turned four and wanted a “Barbie” princess cake, I was more proficient. Last year was a princess castle and my son was happy with his jungle themed cake.

I’m still not perfect and have to say I use my Wilton lessons as a stepping stone to try new things but don’t use their exact ways. And I certainly don’t think I could make a decent rose to save my life.

Anyways, a couple of weekends ago I made a baby shower cake for a friend who recently had a beautiful baby boy. It was a Wilton inspired cake called a Tot Toy Box. Of course, I put my own personality into it. For example, I used butter cream vs. covering it in fondant (I don’t like the taste of fondant). The cakes were Rose Levy Barenbaum’s recipes. I had a hard time figuring out a recipe for a 12 inch square pan, In the end I used a recipe for a 13 inch round pan – it worked beautifully.

The icings were also Rose’s – chocolate sour cream ganache and neoclassical butter cream. I did make the toy box and baby out of fondant…it was a bit labour intensive but so much fun to see the end product.

The letters on the toy box are made out of melted chocolate. The decorative baby bottles and bears are sugar candies that were purchased from a local cake-decorating store. The instructions for Wilton’s cake can be found here.

It doesn’t say on Wilton’s site, but I would make the toy box a week ahead of time if possible. For the baby, if you are making it out of fondant here’s what I did:
  • Colour 1 cup of ready-made fondant (I used copper tone).
  • Roll fondant out to about ¼ of an inch in thickness.
  • Cut two circles out of rolled fondant – I used the open side of a drinking glass to cutout the circles.
  • Roll two pieces about three inches long each and form into arms.
  • With a small ball of leftovers, color fondant black or other hair colour and thinly roll a piece of hair, and eyes (I used blue but again use whatever you like).
  • Colour another small piece pink or rose for cheeks.
  • Attach the pieces with a bit of water.
  • Sprinkle some cornstarch on a pan and place “baby” on top to dry.
Also, instead of attaching the baby to a wall of the toy box, I cut an extra long side of the toy box and then used it as an extra prop to ensure the toy box lid stayed in place and I leaned the baby on it.

New Cook Book - Rose's Heavenly Cakes

Thanks to this blog post, I won Rose Levy's Beranbaum's new cookbook, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, thanks to Half Hour Meals and it finally arrived last night. I have to say after a long day at work, getting the kids ready for bed and having completed a 35 minute run (that I really didn't want to do) I was beyond tired...till I opened this beautifully bound book. The photographs! The descriptions! The detailed instructions! The chocolate! OH MY! I wanted to get up and start baking then and there. My sore quads prevented that but I did make a mental list of the beautifuls cakes I wanted to try ....

Oh Rose, you are a master baker and one of my food idols -- right up there with Julia.  I'll be sure to post as I bake my way through this inspiring work of art.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thai One On - Red Curry with Chicken & Vegetables

From Thai Red Curry
When my husband and I first started dating, one of the first dinners I ever made for him was Thai Red Curry with Chicken. I was in my mid-twenties and didn’t know much about cooking and certainly nothing about curry. This is a very simple dish and really the only way to go wrong is in the amount of curry paste you add. Mine went wrong. Very wrong. I must have put the entire jar into the pan because with the first bite, he started to sweat. By the third bite, it was running down the poor guy’s forehead! Nevertheless, he was sweet and ate the entire bowl! Now that’s love.

Over the 14 years we’ve been together, I’ve figured out a few more things about cooking and have realized a tablespoon or two of curry paste adds the perfect amount of taste and heat to this recipe without the need for a shower after.

Although this version uses chicken, beef and pork also work well. I especially like the addition of sugar snap peas as they add an amazing freshness and crunch to the dish. The ingredient, however, that MAKES this dish is the pineapple. I highly recommend using fresh pineapple not canned whenever possible – its sweetness adds an amazing depth that also offsets the heat of the curry paste.
This recipe serves 2-3 people with enough for seconds (and you will want seconds) but not enough for leftovers. It is also a good recipe when you have left over chicken or rice to save time in the kitchen.

  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • ½ large jalapeno, minced
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • ½ fresh pineapple, cored and chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ chopped fresh basil
  • 1 can lite coconut milk
  • 1-2 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce or 1 Tbsp anchovy paste (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, sliced or diced into large pieces
  • 3-4 cups cooked rice

Wok to do:)
In a wok or large sauté pan, heat oil on medium high heat. Add shallots and sauté for 2 minutes or until translucent. Add paste and stir. Add coconut milk. Stir in fish sauce or anchovy paste, brown sugar, and stock. Reduce to medium heat. Add cooked chicken, peas, jalapeno, bamboo shoots, pineapple and red pepper. Heat thoroughly, about ten minutes.

Place ½ cup rice in each bowl and add 1 cup or more curry mixture to each. Garnish with basil. Enjoy!
From Thai Red Curry
From Thai Red Curry
From Thai Red Curry
From Thai Red Curry

Friday, March 5, 2010

Six Tips to Increase Your Kids Love (or at least like lessen their dislike) of Vegetables

Ever have a day when your kids are out to get you? I’m pretty sure every parent has had a few. Well, one time we were struggling to put my three-year-old son in his car seat. He was not interested… fighting, screaming, going straight as a board so that we could not maneuver him in.

Finally, I had enough and shouted (yes shouted) “If you don’t get into this car you will not get any broccoli at dinner! Seriously. The people passing us just stared. Then they started to laugh. Then we started laughing.

Are we the only parents to ever punish a child by NOT giving him veggies?? Possibly.

But that did start me thinking about how we lucked out with kids that love most vegetables.

I have to admit to not being a fan of hiding pureed veggies in food – it’s ok to make sure they get veggie goodness, if they never eat them, but it really doesn’t teach them to LIKE veggies.

My kids really like a lot of veggies – well no potatoes for my daughter and my son won’t eat mushrooms but broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are dinner plate staples. And they will try veggies – sometimes only a bite before they spit it across the table (seriously) but I have to give them props for trying.

I don’t know if there are really any simple tricks to get kids to eat vegetables but here are my tips. What are yours?
From Thai Red Curry

1. Lead by example. If you happily eat veggies at every meal, they may not see veggies as the enemy.

2. Start early. I didn’t give my kids a choice. Meals for the first few years were pretty plain but filled with lots of pretty veggies. Lots of steamed or pureed vegetables (depending on their age) WITHOUT cheese, butter, or other sauce. To this day my 6 year old prefers her veggies without, as she says, “goo.”

3. If you want to increase their veggie count, let them pick a veggie once a week…whatever it is, everyone at the table has to try at least a bite of it. And if possible let them help prepare it – even if it’s just putting the cut veggies into a bowl or pan (not hot of course). Not only might they find a new veggie they like, you might too!

4. Try different cooking methods, if age appropriate. Texture is everything when you are three! Do they like carrots mushy or firmer? If older, do they like raw veggies rather than cooked? Boiled, steamed, grilled, mashed, chopped, grated, small, large… try it all!

5. If plain just won’t work for your kids, what about a healthier sauce then ketchup (not that there is anything wrong with ketchup – I LOVE ketchup)? What about peanut butter – maybe even a bit melted? Or plain yogurt? Ask them – it might sound gross to you but if they like broccoli with pickle juice (ok, that may not be healthier than ketchup) what the heck!

6. Most important piece of advice: DON’T GIVE UP!

If anyone has any other tips email them to me at withinthekitchen@gmail.com and I’ll post them for all to see!

Note on kids and choking:
My son almost choked to death on a marble. He managed to throw it up on his own but it was a scary 30 seconds or so. It can happen fast. And it can happen with marbles, food, batteries or any other number of things. Click here for a great article on kids and choking - including food dangers- put out by BC Children's Hospital. Read it.