Tag Archives: easy recipes

Now what do I do with all of these apples and pumpkins?

It’s fall and  time for all of those outdoor fall activities that my family and I love! If you are a Northeast girl like me, than you know that September and October bring fall festivals, apple picking, pumpkin picking and the most perfect sweatshirt weather imaginable. My lil’ Jojo shares my love for the outdoors, so naturally as soon as we welcomed the fall season, we were out and about picking apples at a local farm with friends and family, and driving out east to pick the next great pumpkin with Jojo’s BFF :).

There are few better ways to spend time as a family, than outdoors watching your energetic, almost-two year old run, jump, roll and apple/pumpkin pick himself into a “nap-coma”. You will undoubtedly experience a meltdown or two,  but trust me its worth it.  The trip is sure to always be filled with wonderful memories and laughs. (*A Few trip tips- bring lots of food and visit places that are no more than an hour away from home to avoid lengthy car trips that only increase the chances of a meltdown as soon as you arrive.)

When the day trip is over, you’ve unpacked the car, brought all of your goodies into the house, and successfully transfered your sleeping child to his/her crib for an extended nap time (fingers crossed – I realize that this is quite idyllic), you may find yourself thinking… now what do I do with all of these apples and pumpkins? While the experience of apple picking is certainly one of a kind, you may also ask yourself why on earth you decided to pick two 12lb bags full. Were you really thinking that you could eat 24lbs of apples?…And what about all of those apples you already ate while walking though the orchard? …You know who you are MWL!!  Did you really see yourself snacking on apples for the next month? Did “all you can carry pumpkins for 50 cents a pound ” really mean you had to try to carry the whole farm home with you?… Of course not!!! But you did, and now you’re saying, “HELP ME! My house is turning into a farmer’s market!!!”

So what can you do with all of those apples? Well, my first suggestion is have a game plan BEFORE  you leave the house. But for those of you  who didn’t, no worries, I’m here to help! It is important to think about what you want to make or bake, so that you are not overwhelmed when you walk in the door with pecks of produce. …Yes, I said pecks! You know, approximately 10.5 lb bags of apples … doesn’t everyone know that?  (…OK, I didn’t either. Thank you apple farmers for teaching me a new measurement!) You need to understand that certain dishes are more laborious than others, but that you can cut down on the work and get to the enjoyment of your tasty, homemade treats faster by having the right tools and recipes handy.

When I went apple and pumpkin picking I had the following dishes in mind:

For Jojo:

  • Applesauce
  • Apple pancakes
  • Apple muffins
  • Baked apples
  • Pumpkin pancakes

 For us:

  • Apple Crisp
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Pumpkin bread

To make these dishes I needed:

  • Apple Peeler – I think I have the best one on earth…(props to my hubby)Picture 19
  • Large pot with a steamer basket
  • Food processor/ blender
  • Large glass 9×9 baking dish or casserole dish
  • Sharp knife & cutting board (one that does not slip on the counter)

Here are few of my favorite recipes. They are all family tested and approved. For a sweet apple treat, make sure you try the apple crisp. I know that it is not my usual health conscious recipe, but you deserve a little indulgence every now and then. Pair it with Vanilla ice cream and you have a real crowd pleaser. The recipe doubles and even triples quite nicely for a large group…Thanksgiving dessert anyone?

Apple Crisp: Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardensphoto-10

Makes: 6 servings/ Prep 30mins/ Bake 375°F

Ingredients

            5 
 cups  sliced, peeled apples

            2 – 4 
 tablespoons  granulated sugar

            1/2
 cup  regular rolled oats

            1/2
 cup  packed brown sugar

            1/4
 cup  all-purpose flour

            1/4
 teaspoon  ground nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon

            1/4
 cup  butter

            1/4
 cup  chopped nuts or coconut

            
 Vanilla ice cream or light cream (optional)

Directions

  1. For filling, thaw fruit, if frozen. Do not drain. Place fruit in an ungreased 2-quart square baking dish.
  2. Stir in the granulated sugar.
    For topping, in a mixing bowl combine oats; brown sugar; flour; and nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts or coconut.
  3. Sprinkle topping over filling.
  4. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes (40 minutes for thawed fruit) or until fruit is tender and topping is golden. If desired, serve warm with ice cream or light cream.

Natural Apple Sauce– 6 large apples will make a typical 8 oz jar of applesauce.

  1. Peel core and slice 6 large apples.
  2. Place apple slices in a large steamer basket in a large pot filled to the bottom of the steamer basket with water.
  3. Steam apples until they are tender.
  4. Place the steamed apples in the food processor or blender and puree.
  5. Allow too cool before placing in containers and storing in the refrigerator.

Apple Applesauce Muffins: Courtesy of Weelicious.com

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup honey

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cups peeled and chopped apples (about 2 medium apples)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the applesauce, buttermilk, honey, egg, and vanilla.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the apples.
  1. Pour batter into greased muffin cups, about 3/4 full and bake 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center
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A Sweet Graham Treat

I have a sweet tooth! How could I not? I grew up in a family full of bakers,  in a house where there was always a fresh-baked batch of chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen counter. Some of my best childhood memories are baking and eating various types of cookies with my mom, grandma, aunts and cousins! So naturally, I want my lil Jojo to share those same types of experiences with me. After all, its all about the food memories!

Jojo loves graham crackers, so I figured they would be the best cookies for his first baking experience (especially since the dough is egg-free and very playdough like). We prepared it together. I let him dump the measured flour into the bowl and help with the cookie cutters (we used ginger breadman cookie cutters since they looked fun.) He handled these tasks very well and even enjoyed watching me mix and roll out the dough. It was definitely a fun and easy activity to do together, and the end results were delicious!! Yum!

Here is the recipe. I found it on Weelicious (of course). Read the tips that follow for MY recommendations.

Graham Crackers  (Makes A LOT, depending on the shape you cut them in) Prep Time:10 minutes, Cook Time: 15 minutes, Total Time: 25minutesIt’s not that I make everything our family eats from scratch, but I do try to make as many of the sweet treats my kids eat as possible. I recently realized that Kenya had never eaten a graham cracker before. How is that possible?! Graham crackers are…

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter, chilled & cubed

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup water

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a food processor or mixer combine the first 6 ingredients.

3. Add cubed and chilled butter to the mix and pulse/mix until it resembles coarse meal.

4. Add honey and water and continue to mix until it all combines.

5. Remove and shape the dough into a flat disk and place between two pieces of parchment paper.

6. Roll dough out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into crackers or shapes.

7. Place cookies on a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

8. Cool and serve.

To Freeze: After step 6, place the cut out cookie shapes on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. Remove, place in a Ziploc bag, label and freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to bake, follow steps 7-8, adding an additional 1-2 minutes baking time.

** If you have no Whole Wheat, you can use 1 Cup Oat Bran to 2 Cups AP Flour instead of what the recipe calls for and it works

 Jojo’s Mommy’s Tips:

If you bake the cookies for 15 minutes, they will come out hard like true graham crackers. If you want these cookies to be soft and chewy, then cook it for less time. I cooked mine for 7-8 minutes and they were perfect!

If you want to add a professional touch to the look of your cookies you can use a toothpick to poke a design around the edges of your grahams before you cook them .You can also add a frosting glaze using confectioners sugar and a splash water or milk to jazz these delicious cookies up!

Sandwich “Sushi”?

O yes! Like many, I am a sushi-holic. It is my go-to take-out food and a “guilt-free” guilty pleasure. Is that possible? I love everything about it, the delicious taste created by the fresh ingredients (crispy cucumber, buttery avocado etc.), and of course how beautiful it is. Each tiny piece of sushi is like its own miniature piece of art, which for me, makes it that much more delicious. YUM! To my surprise there are many foodies and mommy chefs out there using sushi as inspiration for their toddler lunches. No, they are not suggesting we all run and take our toddlers out for a sushi lunch (I do NOT feed my Jojo any type of raw fish or raw protein), but what they are doing is taking inspiration from these scrumptious pieces of food art and creating yummy spins on the sandwich.

It makes sense, I mean I said it myself, part of what makes sushi so delicious is the way it looks and how it is presented. So if you take that simple principle and apply it to making a sushi sandwich, your toddler will find it just as fun and delicious as you do!

Inspired by a picture I saw on the cover of the new Weelicious Lunches book last week online, and stumped about how to get my lil Jojo to eat chicken in other forms besides the pot-pie and pasta methods (there is something about plain chicken that is simply unappealing to him), I thought why not make it into a fun sandwich sushi roll where the whole grain bread acts as the rice and the filling is whatever fresh produce and/ or protein that is on the menu for the day. What an easy idea! So I did, and yes I got a “ummmmmm” on the first bite which means this was a complete success. What’s even better is that I can make sandwich “sushi” for all different types of fresh vegetables, fruits and cooked proteins.

JoJo’s Carrot, Cucumber and Cooked Chicken Sandwich Sushi

 Ingredients:

1 slice multigrain bread (edges trimmed)

2 tbsp cream cheese

5 thin slices of cucumber

2 tbsp steamed shredded carrot

pieces of diced cooked chicken breast

Preparation:

Cut off the edges to your slice of bread and then take a rolling pin and roll the bread flat. Spread the cream cheese over the flattened piece of bread. Top with the thin slices of cucumber, carrots and chicken. Roll the bread up into a sushi roll shape. Squeeze cylinder to set ingredients.  Cut into small pieces with a sharp knife.

*Prepartion Tips: You will need to experiment with the placement of your ingredients to get a perfect roll. The thinner the slices, the easier it is to form the bread into a roll.

* Dairy Free: For all my dairy-free moms out there, I know it can be difficult to find recipes that fit your needs. A good substitute for cream cheese in this recipe is hummus (any variety just be sure to use a nut-free variety and watch the salt content- I recommend making your own).

Other Variations:

  • Sweet: Cream cheese and berries
  • Savory: Black bean hummus, avocado, steamed shredded carrots, diced chicken breast cooked with cumin, thinly sliced fresh tomato and shredded cheddar.

Make It Exciting: For my Jojo nothing amps up a meal more than adding a dipping sauce. Jazz up your rolls by creating your own spectacular sauce- yogurt, sour cream, and applesauce are all great accompaniments. Pick what best fits the flavor profile of your rolls.

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