Tag-Archive for ◊ toddler friendly ◊

09 Jan 2011 Oven Baked Fries

It seems as if it’s been a long since I posted anything.  The kids have been home, some of their friends have been here for varying hours and days, and my grandson has been staying here, so I have been focused on big batch cooking of tried-and-true family favorites.  The few new things I’ve made haven’t been Great or, if they have been, they’ve been devoured before I got my camera focused!  It’s been a mad-house around here!  Thank goodness they’ve all gone for three days.  I can post!

One of the family favorites I’ve made repeatedly over the last few weeks has been our oven baked fries.  My friend Mary first made these for me about 25 years ago.  I was so impressed to go over to her house for lunch and she had a basket of home baked fries on the table.  Not only were they a big hit with me, but they were also a big hit with our preschool daughters.

Since then, I’ve seen recipe after recipe for oven baked fries.  I think America’s Test Kitchen has one that calls for blanching the sliced potatoes in boiling water before baking.  I tried it, and it didn’t work any better than Mary’s way.  Another recipe had me sprinkling a lot of Kosher salt on the baking tray to lift the potatoes off the tray a bit and help with the browning.  That didn’t work magic either.  Here are my “secrets”, as passed onto me by Mary: use a mixture of butter and olive oil [1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil on one baking tray], use smallish potatoes of equal size and cut each into eight wedges.

Oven Baked Fries

  • Approx. 1 small Russet potato for each person
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter for each baking tray
  • Kosher salt and freshly grated pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Spend sometime picking the right potatoes.  Choose potatoes on the small size, and choose potatoes that are roughly the same size. Scrub the outside of the Russet Potatoes to remove all the dirt and soil then dry.

Place baking tray in preheated oven to get hot.

Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then half again, then half again.  You should have eight wedges from each potato.

Remove baking tray from oven.  Place olive oil and butter on baking tray and swirl until melted and evenly coating the bottom of the tray.

Place the potato wedges on the preheated baking tray on top of the melted butter and olive oil.  Make it easy on yourself and place all the wedges going to same direction in equally spaced rows.  You should be able to get all the wedges from 3 or 4 small potatoes onto one baking sheet.

Place tray in oven and bake at 425º for 20 minutes.

Remove tray from oven and turn over each wedge.  This is why you put all the wedges facing the same way.  Now you know which wedges you’ve turned and which you haven’t! Return tray to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

After flipping, your wedges should look like this:

After baking both sides your wedges should look like this:

Check your fries. Do they look brown enough?  Are they cooked through? (Taste one, but be careful, it’s HOT).  If necessary, flip wedges one more time and return to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove potatoes to a paper towel lined platter to drain (if you wish). Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Remove fries to a serving bowl.  Serve hot with ketchup or leftover blue cheese dips.

For years I made these for our “family night”.  We watched a family-friendly video, ate Chicken Nuggets, home fries, and corn-on-the-cob or broccoli.  Fun times! Oh my goodness, I just realized my Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets recipe has not been transferred from my facebook “Polly, Julie. and Julia” page.  I’ll do that right now.  I hope that an Oven Baked Chicken Nugget and Fries  family dinner is in your future soon!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Hope to see you again tomorrow!

23 Nov 2010 Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Apples

My daughter Hannah has started a new Thanksgiving tradition for our family, and I rather like it.  She invites our neighbors and friends over for Pumpkin Pancakes on Thanksgiving morning.  She suggests they come in their jammies.  (I am not seen in my jammies!  Slippers, yes, jammies, nooooo.) The pancakes are hot by 9 AM, and she keeps making them until about 11.  Some people stay for ten minutes, some for forty, others  for a bit longer than that.  It’s very informal and relaxed.  The parade is on.  There’s a jigsaw puzzle set up.  We serve Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Apples, Syrup, Sausages, Spicy Sweet Bacon, Pumpkin Roll, and coffee (with pumpkin creamer!).

I must have tried out eight pumpkin pancake recipes.  Some have one egg, others have four for each cup or cup and a half of flour.  Some have buttermilk, some have whole milk, one even had coconut milk.  There’s been every permutation of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and/or pumpkin pie spice.  Some use one-third a cup of pumpkin, some use three-fourths cup of pumpkin.  Some use baking powder, others baking soda, some use both. At the end of the day, I ended up liking our original recipe; the one we had been using before I started this testing nonsense.  My preferred recipe is the only one calling for whipping the egg whites separately from the rest of the batter, and then folding them in.  I think that’s the secret.  Pumpkin pancakes can be a bit stodgy, but folded egg whites keep them light. There has been a benefit to all this testing though, my grandson has a favorite food now, pumpkin pancakes!  He’s not too picky about them,  just so long as he can dip his pieces in real maple syrup.  He’s usually not a big eater, being only in the 17th percentile for weight, but he can eat his way through a man-portion of pumpkin pancakes.

Last week I found this recipe for Maple Apples.  Now I am in heaven.  Please put some warm maple apples on top of my pumpkin pancakes and top that with a bit of whipped cream. (I have a bit of a sweet tooth….)  If you are not into Maple Apples, you might enjoy adding 5 or 6 chocolate chips or blueberries to each pancake.  Add the chips or the blueberries before before flipping the pancake.  If you are into “healthy” pancakes, I have made these with King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour and they have turned out very well.  When I feel up to experimenting again, I am going to play with replacing some of the flour with oatmeal.

Be careful cooking these pancakes, they can easily over brown.  Cook on low-ish heat, but be sure the pan is hot before adding the batter.

The recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes, as well as the recipe for Maple Apples, is from Epicurious.com.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil
Maple syrup

Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend.Whisk milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; whisk just until smooth (batter will be thick). Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 2 additions. Brush large nonstick skillet with oil; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes and bottoms are brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet with oil between batches. Serve with syrup. Makes about 12

Maple Syrup Apples

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 large Golden Delicious apples (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and 1 tablespoon maple syrup; sauté until apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup and cinnamon.

These would be good the day after Thanksgiving, too.  And for Halloween morning.  Or any time in the Fall. Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. It’s always fun to see you here!

05 Nov 2010 Corn Pudding

My daughters made me do it. My daughters made me do it!!  Why else would I mix a box of Jiffy cornbread mix with a few cans of corn, a hefty handful of cheese, some butter, some sour cream and then pour it into my prettiest casserole dish and call it Thanksgiving?  Do you think I want to expand out of my jeans?  Nooo, of course I don’t.  I did it for my girlies. They seriously loved this corn pudding.  Just like they love those corn cake things at Chevy’s.  They think I am pretty darn smart.  Yay for the Internet! I found this recipe at The Runaway Spoon, but I must also thank my friend Terry, who brought a dish very similar to this to a Dining For Women meeting last winter… I have been thinking about it ever since!

Corn pudding is on our Thanksgiving menu now (along with a mandatory before dinner walk around the lake).  We usually try out one new dish each year (at least). The bright yellow will be a colorful addition to our plates, we have almost all the colors of the rainbow on the plate now (well, except for the colors at the blue-purple end of the rainbow).  And here’s another plus for this recipe, the leftovers will reheat very well in the microwave, 19 year old boys could probably do it all by themselves.  I don’t know about you, but after I get Thanksgiving dinner on the table I don’t want to cook again for at least another week!

Corn Pudding

2 eggs
1 (16-ounce) can creamed corn
1 (16-ounce can) whole kernel corn, drained
½ cup (1stick) butter, melted
1 cup (8-ounces) sour cream
1 (8½ ounce) package Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese (other kinds of cheese can be used, pepper jack anyone?!)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives (or finely chopped green onion if you forget to buy the chives, or chilies, or green pepper…)
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then add both corns, butter and sour cream and mix thoroughly.  Fold in the corn muffin mix, cheese and chopped chives.  Add salt and a few grinds of black pepper and mix completely.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until puffed and golden and firm in the center.

Serve immediately.

Makes a lot of servings, at least 10-12.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

26 Oct 2010 Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta

A few weeks ago my friend Nancy and I went to a free cooking class at Williams-Sonoma.  We like free. Part of the free class was a sales pitch, which we had to sit through before the the free food was served.  We were shown $300 pans we couldn’t cook without, $500 blenders to blend and boil soup (I am not kidding), and a $12 bottle of Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce that would change our lives.  We like free; a $12 bottle of pasta sauce was out of the question…, but that boiling blender was sooooo tempting. I still dream about it. But I digress… After downing the free samples (and not being that impressed), I went home to Google Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce Recipes.  Five popped up. I compared them. Combined them.  Made them. I fed the first batch to my grandson. He loved it (and he doesn’t love everything).  My daughters had the leftovers and they said the words that make me swoon, “This is really good, Mom”.  I love those girls. Feeling I was on the right track, I upped the spices a bit, and made another batch for my Dining For Women group. They liked it too! YAY! They asked me to post the recipe. I love those women.  I hope you bought an extra can of Pumpkin Puree. You are going to want to use one to make this recipe at least once this season.  It’s tasty, it’s different, it’s nutritious and it’s just the thing to be eating this time of year and, drum roll please, it’s FREE!

My only caution about this recipe: don’t make it ahead of time.  Make it, and then serve it immediately. Right after combining the sauce with the pasta, it’s all nice and creamy, but it doesn’t take long for the two parts to congeal into a big blob.  Other people didn’t seem to mind, but I did. Perhaps I need to add more liquid to keep it creamy longer?

I wanted to serve the sauce with cheese tortellini or cheese ravioli tonight, but I forgot to buy some, so I had to make do with what I had in the cupboard, Rotelle. I’ve also made this with with Penne and Bowties, too, and both were good. But I really wanted to try it on cheese ravioli 🙁  If you try it on ravioli, let me know how it is, please!

I serve this as a side dish.  Recipe will serve 6-8.  This sauce goes together quickly.  Not as quickly as opening a $12 jar of sauce, but almost!

Pumpkin-Parmesan Pasta Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped shallot (about ¼ cup)
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 box pasta (penne, rotelle, bowtie)
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. ground sage
½ tsp. nutmeg (freshly ground is best)
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

Fill a pasta pot with water, bring to boil, add salt.

While the pasta water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a skillet and stir in onions and shallots.  Saute until translucent.  Stir in minced garlic and saute for another minute or so.

By this time, your water should be boiling.  Stir in pasta, and cook according to package directions.

Add pumpkin, broth, cream, vinegar and spices to the onion/shallots/garlic mixture in the skillet.  Simmer on low for 5 minutes or so.

Gradually stir in 1/3 of the cheese to the sauce.  When that cheese has been incorporated, repeat with another 1/3 of the cheese.  Then repeat again with remaining cheese. Stir in chopped fresh sage.

By this time, your pasta should be cooked.  Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Stir the drained pasta into the sauce.  If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the reserved pasta water until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Serve immediately. Enjoy!  Happy Fall!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Raise your hand if you are a pumpkin junkie! (I am, I am!!)

20 Oct 2010 Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies

I’ve posted this recipe before, on my Polly, Julie, and Julia Facebook page.  I think this is one of my Top Ten Posted Recipes 🙂

When asked what his favorite kind of pie is, my son always answers, “meat” and then gets those raised eyebrow are-you-kidding-me looks from Americans not familiar with Great British cooking. Meat pies are one of the delicious cornerstones of British cookery. That being said, this is a very American recipe from Epicurious.com (but it stays true to the spirit of a great British meat pie). This meat pie uses boxed pastry crusts (although you could make your own), ground turkey, grated apple, grated onion, and sage. The pies can be eaten hot, warm or cold. Whole trays of unbaked pies can be frozen to be baked later. Baked pies can be frozen to be reheated in the oven, oven or microwave . Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies can be a quick snack, breakfast, lunch or dinner, they are good for game day parties, buffets, and picnics, and they are tasty all the time. My grandson giggled his way through his first Cupcake Tin Turkey Pie and that meant he liked it a lot!

I have two dozen Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies in the freezer. At my house, one never can tell when a gaggle or bevy of college students will stop by.

Try these! They are so much better in taste, nutrition, lack of preservatives, and cost-per-serving than Hot Pockets and other similar packaged food products. Don’t eat those nasty things! Try these instead! They’ll become a staple at your house, too.  BTW…, how much would two dozen Hot Pockets cost?  Waaaay more than two dozen Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies, that I am sure of.

I have made a lamb version of these pies, but I didn’t likethem nearly as much.  If you want to try Cupcake Tin Lamb Pies, change the herbs and spices to 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, 1 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies

¾ pound ground turkey
1 medium (or ½ large) onion, peeled and grated
¼ cup applesauce or ½ grated, peeled apple
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or ½ tsp dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried…or omit)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 boxes pre-rolled, refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)or a double batch of your own pie crust

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients but the dough and 1 tablespoon of the eggs; refrigerate mixture while you prepare the pastry. Unroll the dough and cut out twelve 4-inch circles with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a drinking glass. Line the bottoms and sides of the tins with the 4-inch rounds. Remove the bowl of filling from the refrigerator and divide evenly among the pastry filled muffin cups. Press the 2-inch rounds on top, pinching the edges together to seal. Poke a hole in the center of each pie. Brush tops with the reserved egg. Bake until the tops are browned and puffed slightly, 30 to 35 minutes. Loosen pies with thin metal spatula, place into a paper or foil cupcake/muffin liner. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Eat with hands. Serve warm…although my kids eat them hot, cold, warm and at room temperature. Can be frozen before baking-when ready to bake just follow directions above but bake for 40-45 minutes. Makes 18 cupcake sized turkey pies. Can make mini-muffin size for an appetizer buffet (but the mini pies have too much crust, and not enough filing,  for my taste.)

If these become a frequent item in your home, you might want to dedicate one cupcake pan to them, because a few batches do mess up the pans. I have two older pans for meat pies, and three pans for cupcakes. The pans stack and store easily, and you can buy a cupcake pan on sale for $3.99 sometimes.  OK, so I might have a few too many cupcake pans…

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you again, soon! (Pssssst…! Vegan version to be posted shortly.  Yes, it’s true, veganized Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies!)

17 Oct 2010 Cheddar Cheese Crackers

Look what I made for my grandson’s “Pups and Trucks” birthday party,  dog bone crackers!  Aren’t they adorable?  I think the two year olds, and their parents, are really going to enjoy them.  I used a small cookie cutter to cut the bone shape out of a cheddar cheese flavored cracker dough.  Look how I’m going to serve them!  Don’t shudder, it’s a brand new dog bowl!  I bought it at the dollar store and I washed it well before putting the crackers in it!

The crackers taste great.  It’s sort of like the Goldfish crackers, not nearly as crisp, but much more flavorful (and no icky preservatives).  I’d never made crackers before, but now I know they are easier than cookies, and taste so much better than store bought boxed stuff,  I will be making them a lot more.  Think of all the possibilities: the bone cookie cutter would also make good Halloween treats (and the dough is slightly orange making it PERFECT!), for Thanksgiving  I could make leaf or acorn shapes, Christmas options are too numerous to list, Valentine’s Day hearts, Easter eggs and bunnies, Mother’s Day flowers…

I found the recipe at Yum Food & Fun for Kids magazine, October 2010 by Laura Flowers. THANKS Laura!

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

1 1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced
8 ounce package shredded cheddar cheese
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (DO this, the crackers bake so much better on parchment paper). Clear a space in your freezer to accommodate the cookie sheet.  You will need to freeze the crackers for 15 minutes before baking.

In a food processor pulse together the flour, salt, paprika and onion powder. Add the butter and process until combined. Add the grated cheddar cheese and pulse until combined. Process in the egg yolk and water until the mixture forms a ball.

Remove the dough and knead in your hands for a few turns. Divide in half and roll one part between two pieces of wax paper to 3/8 inch thick. Peel off the wax paper and cut with cookie cutters (or just cut into a square or rectangular cracker shape of choice). Place the crackers on the parchment lined cookie sheets.

Freeze the crackers on the cookie sheets for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325º.

Transfer the cookie sheets to the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Cool crackers on cooling racks. Store in an airtight container.

I was able to get 70 1.5 inch dog bone crackers from this dough.

Happy Birthday Zadeykins!