Cooking with Kids – Cupcakes & Quesadillas

Making Cupcakes

I was thrilled to hear from one friend that over the March break they had challenged their children to select a recipe from my cookbook, Anne’s Favourite’s, then make a shopping list and finally prepare it for the family. I try to organize the ingredients and instructions carefully so they can be followed by novice cooks and following a recipe together provides numerous opportunities for learning, reading, fractions and food science. Talk about where ingredients come from and how they work together to create something completely new.

For my February article in the Rural Voice I wrote about fun in the kitchen for Family Day and as families are spending time isolated in their homes I thought I would share some of those ideas for baking with you here (updated slightly for the occasion).

Family Day Fun in the Kitchen

When Social distancing keeps you inside, at home with your family, use the opportunity to share some fun in the kitchen. I am always surprised at how much young people like to participate in the magic of food preparation. Introduce them to a variety of foods in their original form and let them help to transform them into meals and snacks to enjoy together. Cracking eggs for breakfast, peeling cucumber or carrots for lunch gives them new interest in that food. Something as simple as peeling and deconstructing a pomegranate can be an activity for little hands resulting in a wealth of delicious and nutritious seeds to eat alone or add to salad or whatever you please.

Applesauce

Homemade applesauce is a simple way to get even the youngest children involved in the kitchen. I put a bowl of water on a low table and a container of apples to be washed with a cloth to soak up the water underneath and let the little ones wash the apples before I cut them into the bowl to microwave. We leave the skins on and later help them to turn the handle on the food mill to make applesauce. If you do not have a food mill get them to peel the apples with a vegetable peeler before you cut them into the bowl to cook. When they are soft your helpers can do some mashing. Enjoy this delicious treat on its own  or take a cup and make a batch of applesauce muffins.

George Mixing

Applesauce Cranberry Muffins

Apples and cranberries are always good together. Sometimes I use a little leftover cranberry sauce in place of some of the applesauce. These muffins are a little sweeter and more like cupcakes so kids enjoy them.

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour *
  • 1/2  cup all purpose flour *
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seed or ground flax seed (optional)
  • 2/3  cup white sugar
  • 1  tsp baking powder
  • 1  tsp baking soda
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 1 1/2  tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped or 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 2  eggs
  • 1/3  cup canola oil
  • 1/3  cup yogurt  or sour cream
  • 2/3  cup applesauce

*You may replace both flours with 1 ½ cups of gluten-free all purpose flour and 1 tsp of xanthan gum

  1. Mix both flours, flax or hemp, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and xanthan gum if using.
  2. Stir in eggs, oil, yogurt and applesauce until blended.
  3. Add cranberries and mix until incorporated.
  4. These muffins are a little runnier than most so do not be alarmed.
  5. Fill paper-lined muffin pans using a 1/4 cup measure or a 2 1/4 ounce scoop or use a 1 ounce scoop and fill mini muffin pans. Makes 3- 4 dozen small ones.
  6. Bake at 365°F for about 20 minutes for the minis and 28 – 30 minutes for the regular ones. Muffins are done when springs back when lightly touched.

Makes 11 -12  muffins

 Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Every occasion becomes special when you add some pretty cupcakes. These are probably my most requested contribution to family parties and group activities. I always have a package of grated and measured zucchini in the freezer from the summer abundance but if you do not there is usually fresh zucchini at the store throughout the winter. This popular cake adapts without much trouble to a gluten-free version. Most people would not realize there was anything different.

  • 1/2  cup canola oil
  • 1/2  cup margarine
  • 1 3/4  cups white sugar
  • 3  eggs
  • 2  tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2  cups GF all purpose flour  (can substitute regular flour and omit the xanthan gum)*
  • 1 1/2  tsp xanthan gum *
  • 1/2  tsp GF baking powder
  • 2  tsp baking soda
  • 1/2  cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2  cup sour milk, buttermilk or yogurt
  • 2  cups grated zucchini, unpeeled (may use frozen)
  • 1/4  cup chocolate chips

*you may substitute regular all purpose flour for the gluten-free and omit the xanthan gum

  1. Sift flour with xanthan gum, GF baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder.
  2. Beat oil, margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light.
  3. Mix in sifted flour mixture alternately with the sour milk, beating after each addition.
  4. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  5. Fill paper lined muffin pans ¾ full using a scoop or ¼ cup measuring cup. You may also use a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan or two 8 inch round layers.
  6. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes for cupcakes and 35 – 45 minutes for cakes.
  7. Cake is done when it springs back when lightly touched and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Easter Cupcakes

The internet has hundreds of ideas for decorating cupcakes so have a look at the incredible creativity shared there. You can simply pipe or spread a nest of icing on top and fill it with a few mini eggs or you can use some marshmallows to make bunnies  or sheep. Have fun! If you do not have piping bags for detail use a ziplock sandwich bag and cut the corner to make your own piping bag. Use raisins and nuts if you do not have the candy decorations. Ask your children for ideas, you might be amazed by how creative they are. We had some fun frosting cupcakes with rainbow colours mixing 3 pastels colours in the same piping bag and letting them come out in a swirl.

Butter Frosting

This butter frosting is based on the bakery fluffy white frosting we used for our slab cakes except I have substituted butter for most of the shortening. It has a lovely flavour and is very stable at room temperature. It can be easily tinted to your favourite colour for special occasions.

  • 1/2  cup butter, softened
  • 1/8  cup non-hydrogenated shortening or more butter
  • 4  cups icing sugar
  • 2  Tbsp corn syrup
  • 2  tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup water or milk, as needed to desired consistency
  1.  Beat butter and shortening with half the icing sugar until light.
  2.  Add corn syrup and vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  3. Slowly beat in remaining icing sugar, adding a little of the water if it becomes too stiff for the mixer.
  4. Add remaining water a little at a time as needed and continue to beat for at least 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. At the bakery we beat this frosting for a full 10 minutes.

Quesadillas

Quesadillas

 For lunch or snack or dinner these are quick and versatile and kids of all ages love them. This was a favourite item for cooking lessons with Cubs. They were amazed that they could make something like this with just the help of an adult to put it in the oven. It used to be difficult to find nice fresh, soft corn tortillas that did not contain any wheat but they are becoming  more readily available in the grocery store so these are making a comeback at our house!

  • 4 – 8 inch soft tortillas (corn tortillas for gluten-free)
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar, mozzarella or other cheese
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked
  • Garnish with chopped green onions if you have them
  • Accompaniments: sour cream, salsa and guacamole
  1. Cover 2 tortillas with cheese.
  2. Crumble bacon over top.
  3. Place remaining tortillas on top and press lightly.
  4. Bake in 375°F oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and tortillas are starting to brown.
  5. Cut in quarters and serve with sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

Serves 2 – 3

 Variation: Chicken Quesadillas

Substitute about 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken for the bacon. Toss chicken with 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce before adding to quesadilla.

Guacamole

Let your kids help you make some homemade guacamole. This is a pretty basic, but balanced, guacamole recipe that I got from my sister. When we make a little guacamole to go with nachos or quesadillas for the kids we will omit the jalapeno pepper. Since we also have some that are not fond of tomatoes we even make it without the tomato ….  so sometimes we just have mashed avocado with a little lime and salt and pepper to accompany our Mexican inspired meals and this is just fine!

If you have leftover cooked peas you can mash them right in to use them up and boost the protein value.

  • 1  ripe avocado, flesh removed and diced
  • 2  tsp fresh lime juice (lemon will also work)
  • 1  clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 – 2  Tbsp red onion or 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper, finely chopped without seeds
  • 1/3 cup fresh tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped or 1/2 tsp dry (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  1. Mash pulp from avocado with lime juice immediately because avocado turns brown quickly.
  2.  Add garlic, onion, pepper, tomatoes, coriander and salt.
  3.  Adjust salt if needed.
  4. Serve with quesadillas or raw vegetables or tortilla chips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon Edamame Salad

Edamame Salmon Salad

Salmon Edamame Salad

You will have to plan ahead and pick up a few of the ingredients for this salad but I think you will make it again and again once you have tried it. It is adapted from Michael Smith’s recipe with a few more options in the vegetables and seasonings since I had trouble getting everything the first time I made it. I recommend you buy a bag of frozen edamame beans since they will boost the protein and nutrient value of this dish and will go just as well in other summer salads or as a side with any dinner.  I bought a little squeezable pack of miso paste since I have a few Japanese recipes I use it in but if you don’t have it just make the dressing without it. It is delightfully delicious on a hot evening and the perfect meal to pair with fresh corn on the cob. I have cut the leftover corn from the cob and thrown it in with an avocado and cucumber to stretch the leftover salad into a lunch or second dinner.

8 – 12 oz cooked salmon fillet, see below

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp butter and a splash of olive oil

2 cups arugula or your greens of choice

1 cup edamame beans, cooked and shelled

1 cup carrot, coarsely grated

1 sweet yellow or red pepper, sliced thinly

1 cup snow peas, sliced thinly (optional)

1 cup bean sprouts (optional)

1 cup cilantro leaves or 1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped

2 green onions, sliced

Dressing:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 Tbsp sesame oil, toasted

2 Tbsp grated ginger*

2Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp miso paste (leave out if you do not have it)

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp honey

  • Michael Smith suggests keeping fresh ginger in the freezer and grating it as fresh and I find this works well.

Cook salmon according to directions below while preparing remaining ingredients.

Cook edamame beans according to package direction and set aside.

Prepare dressing by whisking the oils, ginger, vinegar, miso paste, soy sauce and honey until smooth.

Slice snow peas and sweet pepper and shred carrots.

Place arugula in a shallow bowl or large serving plate and sprinkle with edamame, snow peas, carrot, pepper, sprouts, cilantro and green onions. Break cooked salmon into large pieces with a fork and spread over all.

Drizzle with dressing and toss. Serve with some crusty bread or corn on the cob.

My Favourite Way to Cook Salmon Fillets

A long time ago I saw Ina Garten, on the Barefoot Contessa, cook salmon by searing the top side then flipping it and finishing it in a hot oven. I found I get almost perfect results every time so this has become my first choice for cooking salmon or trout. Even if I am doing it on the BBQ I like to start it in the frying pan and if the grill is on it’s a great excuse to season up some corn on the cob alongside.

Dry salmon fillet and season as desired with salt and pepper.

Heat frying pan that can be put in the oven (I use a cast iron pan) with a tsp of butter and a little oil to keep the butter from burning. When it just starts to smoke add seasoned salmon, skin side up and sear until browned and starting to turn pink about 1/3 of the way through, about 5 – 6 minutes.

Turn and place whole pan in the oven at 400°F or slide fillet carefully onto a piece of foil on a preheated BBQ and bake another 7 minutes until cooked through.

Serves 3 – 4

Salmon Edamame Salad Click here for printable pdf

Shrimp Quiche

Shrimp Quiche with Potato Crust

This shrimp quiche is a great excuse to celebrate spring or Mother’s Day with a brunch. Claudia always served this quiche in little tarts at her Christmas open house and those were spectacular but I had to quickly check her recipe to see if I got the same results and I did not have time for pastry and the extra time required to make individual tarts so I lined a pie plate with thinly sliced raw potato like I usually do for quiche and it was in the oven in no time and we had it for dinner with a salad. It was so delicious I wanted to tell everyone to add this to their favourites collection! I really cannot wait to make this again.

Claudia’s Shrimp Quiche

  • Pastry for 12 tarts or 9 inch pie plate*
  • 2  eggs
  • 1/2  cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3  cup milk
  • 1/4  tsp salt
  • 1/4  tsp dill weed
  • 4  oz cocktail shrimp, I use frozen
  • 1/4  cup shallots or onion, finely chopped
  • 1  cup shredded Swiss cheese

 

  1. Line tart shells or pie plate with pastry. * You may also peel and thinly slice or shave potatoes and overlap to line a buttered pan. I use a mandolin to shave the potatoes but I have also done it by hand.
  2. Whisk together eggs, mayonnaise, milk, salt and dill.
  3. If using frozen, cooked shrimp, thaw before use. Divide shrimp, onion and cheese between 12 tart shells and cover with egg mixture.
  4. Bake in a 375°F for 20 minutes for tarts, or 35 – 40 minutes for larger pie, until lightly browned and set and pastry is done.

Bacon Cheese Dip

 

If you are getting together with friends on the first long week-end of the season you may want to kick off the summer with this simple dip. Make it up ahead of time and heat it when you are ready to party!Bacon Cheddar Dip

Bacon Cheddar Dip

Canadian cheddar and bacon in the same appetizer is a good combo to celebrate Canada’s 150th and your family and friends will love it.

1  pkg (8 oz)  light cream cheese, softened

1/2  cup mayonnaise

1/4  tsp thyme

1/8  tsp black pepper

1  cup shredded Cheddar cheese

3  green onions, chopped or 3 Tbsp chives, reserve some for topping

8  bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

Beat cream cheese until smooth and light.

Add mayonnaise, thyme and pepper and continue beating until smooth.

Stir in cheese, green onions and crumbled bacon.

Transfer to an 8 inch pie plate or 3 cup oven proof dish and sprinkle reserved green onions or chives.

Bake at 350 degrees for about15 minutes until bubbly and starting to brown around the edges.

Serve warm with crackers and raw vegetables.

Lemony Lentil Soup

Lemony Lentil Soup

This month marks my first recipe column in the “Rural Voice” magazine.http://www.northhuron.on.ca/the-rural-voice-magazine-subscription

My goal is to present at least one new recipe along with several trusted favourites from my cookbook.

The column in the Rural Voice is general and will include recipes that still use wheat but I plan to include the gluten-free adaptations in the blog for those of us following a Celiac diet.

My first month’s selections for spring, with the fresh taste of lemon, all work well without wheat flour: lemon curd, meringues  (see recipe under Pavlova on this blog) and Lemony Lentil soup. Recipes for lemon curd and meringues are in my cookbook but the Lemony Lentil Soup is a new favourite.

I would never have considered this combination of lemon and lentils without the encouragement from my son. Try this lemony lentil soup for your health and enjoyment or just for a change at dinner!

Lemony Lentil Soup for pdf version click here

Nick and his wife raved about the soup a friend served them, which had quickly become Satomi’s favourite. My feelings were a little bit hurt that it surpassed my soups in their favour and I admit to being quite sceptical even when I did finally give it a try but it turned out a winner!  It pays to go outside our comfort zone sometimes. Adapted from the cookbook Whitewater Cooks: Pure, Simple and Real, this recipe is, indeed, simple, healthy and unbelievably delicious. With the flavour of lemon and dill it seems light and refreshing despite being packed with nutrients. It has become a staple in my soup freezer. The original recipe says it is good chunky or smooth but I definitely preferred the smooth version and enjoyed it even more the second day. Thank you Pat and Emily!

1  cup red lentils, rinsed and drained

1-2  Tbsp olive oil

1  large onion, chopped, more than 2 cups

4  cloves garlic, minced

2 ½  cups carrots, diced

1  tsp pepper

1/2  tsp red pepper sauce of choice, or to taste

1 Tbsp oregano, I have substitute 2 Tbsp pesto for the oregano and rosemary for a change

1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped

2  bay leaves

8  cups chicken or vegetable stock, homemade or low sodium

2  tsp salt or to taste

1/2  cup lemon juice

2  tsp lemon rind, finely grated

2  Tbsp fresh or frozen dill, reserve some for garnish if desired

1  cup Feta cheese, crumbled (optional – I do not bother with it)

  • Cook onion with olive oil in a large, covered pot on medium low heat until soft and translucent.
  • Add garlic, carrots, pepper, oregano, rosemary (or pesto) and bay leaves and continue cooking until carrots are tender crisp.
  • Stir in stock and drained lentils and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until lentils are soft.
  • Remove bay leaves and puree soup.
  • Add lemon juice, lemon zest and dill and adjust seasonings.
  • Serve, topped with desired amount of feta and a sprinkle of fresh or frozen dill if you like

Serve 6

Tip: If you buy fresh dill for this recipe, wash, chop and freeze in a Ziploc bag what is leftover and use it as fresh dill in other recipes.

Tourtiere with Potato Pastry

The potato crust for tourtiere was one of the delightfully, successful gluten-free adaptations of my Christmas favourites. This crust adapted from Kingston’s Chez Piggy cookbook written by restaurant and bakery owners Rose Richardson and Zal Yanovsky is amazing. We used it for the tourtiere topper at the bakery and cannot believe I have not come across something similar elsewhere. It is a bit more work having the potatoes cooked and cooled but not if you think about it with your dinner prep the night before. Since it translated so well with gluten-free flour I now use it for all my savoury crusts. It is a delight to roll and work with.

Getting everything together for the tortiere takes time and even more of it now that I move more slowly – haha – but seems well worth it when you can sit and enjoy time with family while it bakes by itself in the oven. I make a double batch and have enough for 2 dozen small tarts, a large pie and a small pie for just the two of us to try. The tarts are great for any potluck gathering because they can be served to both the allergic and non-allergic crowd without apology.

getting-ready

tortiere-with-potato-pastry – Click here for pdf version

Tortiere

  • 2 cups carrots, sliced tsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped, about 1 1/4 cups
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp savoury
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped or 1 tsp dry
  • 1 1/2 cup mashed potatoes

Potato Pastry:

  • 1 cups GF all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup GF bread flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup cold mashed potatoes
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp milk
  1. For the filling cook carrots in a little water until they are tender crisp, set aside, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid to add to the meat mixture later.
  2. Brown ground pork with bay leaf until it is no longer pink, then remove from pan and drain on paper towel.
  3. Cook onion in butter in same pan for about 5 minutes then add celery and garlic and continue cooking until soft.
  4. Add back pork then stir in salt, savoury and cloves with 1/2 cup of water from the carrots and continue simmering for about 20 minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated.
  5. Add cooked carrots, potatoes and fresh parsley, stirring until mixed.
  6. Cool to lukewarm while making pastry.
  7. For the pastry mix butter, flour, baking powder and salt with a pastry blender or your clean hands until lumps are the size of peas.
  8. Mix in cooled potatoes and milk to form a dough. This dough is lovely to work with.
    Divide dough into 2 pieces, roll into circles on plastic wrap to keep from sticking and line a 9 or 10 inch pie plate or 2 dozen mini tarts reserving enough for tops..
  9. Pour in cooled meat filling, wet edge of bottom crust, cover with top and seal and flute edges.
  10. Bake at 375°F about 1 hour, until crust is browned and filling is bubbling.

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Sausage Pasta

Roasted Tomato - Copy.JPG

 

Roasted Tomato and Sausage Pasta

I love the little orange Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes from William Dam Seeds www.damseeds.ca but in a good year they produce more tomatoes than we can use or give away since we have given all our friends and families their own plants to grow in the summer. They add a delicious taste and sweetness to tomato juice but sometimes I am not ready to make a pot of sauce so this pasta uses the excess and answers the question “what’s for dinner” in a very satisfactory way! It is adapted from Michael Smith’s “Cherry Tomato Penne” with a little more bounty from the garden added.

Roasted Tomato Sausage Pasta Sauce – For pdf version click here cherry-tomato-pasta

Nick recommended I try Michael Smith’s Roasted Cherry Tomato Penne and I was glad he did. I could not believe how simple and delicious this pasta dish was and it used a commodity that is difficult to preserve if you have an over abundance from the garden. Because I love roasted peppers and they are available at the same time as the tomatoes I included them with the sauce. I added the egg plant just to use them up one time and found they added a depth and creaminess to the dish that made it even better. This quick summer pasta dish has become a staple in our house.

1              Tbsp olive oil

8              cups cherry tomatoes, I use a mixture of red, orange and any chopped larger                              tomatoes if needed

1              red or coloured sweet pepper, coarsely chopped

1              small to medium egg plant, peeled and cubed (optional)

1              large onion, coarsely chopped

4              cloves garlic

6              garlic sausage (500 g) or sausage of choice – It’s fine to use up smoked sausage

salt and pepper generously sprinkled over all

8 -12       ounces  Gluten-free pasta shells or penne, I use an 8 oz box

1              large handful of fresh basil, about 4 stems, remove leaves and chiffonade

Grated Parmesan cheese as desired

  • Place olive oil, tomatoes, pepper, egg plant (optional), onion and garlic in a large roasting pan so vegetables are essentially in a single layer and roast at 400 °F for 30 minutes. I actually use 2 lasagna pans to spread them out and combine them after they are cooked.
  • Cut sausage into 1/2 inch pieces and add to roasted vegetables and continue roasting until sausage is browned, about 30 – 40 more minutes..
  • Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions when sausage is almost done.
  • To chiffonade basil leaves pile leaves together and roll. Cut through all leaves at once in narrow strips..
  • Toss basil in with roasted tomato mixture when pasta is done and top with grated cheese if desired.

I have roasted all the vegetables with the sausage for the sauce and frozen it to use in the winter and was really glad to have it for a quick meal.

Serves 6 – 8

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