Savory Pumpkin Bread

Savory Pumpkin Bread

Fall has arrived and that means everything Pumpkin! Grandma DiDi has been experimenting in the kitchen and whipped up this savory pumpkin bread!

The cub is at an age where not every morning is created equal. As she navigates her big emotions, we often invite her toys to join in on the cooking process to keep her engaged. Whatever it takes! 🙂

Pumpkin

The cub began by cutting the chives. She followed Grandma DiDi’s lead.

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Next up, they mixed all the wet ingredients together starting with the pumpkin.

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Followed by the yogurt. The cub is at an age where she wants to do everything by herself. We guide her with assistance when needed.

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Stir, whip, mix! The cub loves this part!

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Now the cub helps add the dry ingredients.  In goes the flour.

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Nothing better than the smell of spices! Even ones that aren’t sweet.

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A new fun activity is grinding the pepper. She can do it all be herself!

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In go the chopped chives! Sprinkle them everywhere!

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The cub takes her stirring duties seriously. With all that flour, the dough is getting really thick! “Look how strong I am,” the cub explains!

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Again, the cub is not always willing to participate. And she does want to do everything herself. Grandma DiDi has to offer help in this scenario. The cub does not approve.

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Once the dough is added to the bread pan, the cub gets to sprinkle hemp and chia seeds to the top. Now it’s time to bake!

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Ding! The bread is cooked to perfection. Perfect for a sandwich or just warm with butter or a cheese spread! Dig in!

Savory Pumpkin Bread
(Adapted from chefdehome.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • ¼ cup oil (canola, olive or oil of choice)
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP fresh chives or thyme (or both if you’d like)
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds (more for top)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds (more for top)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven at 350. Grease a 5 X 9 inch pan
  2. In a medium bowl, add wet ingredients: eggs, oil, and yogurt. Whisk to break eggs and mix in yogurt. Add pumpkin puree and combine well. set aside
  3. In a large bowl, add dry ingredients: flour, spices and sugar. Mix well with fork to distribute evenly. Add wet ingredients in 3 batches and fold in until flour is moist and well blended. Add seeds and herbs.
  4. Transfer to prepared baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes then loosen sides and turn out of pan.
  5. Slice thin and toast with butter or make sandwiches. Suggested ideas are cream cheese and olive, turkey and cheese. Peanut butter and jelly actually works, too!

Plantain Crusted Chicken Strips

Plantain Crusted Chicken Strips

A new restaurant recently opened up by our house and they make these amazingly crunchy and slightly sweet plantain chicken strips. The cub loves them so we decided to try and recreate them. Not quite the same, but close!

Chicken

The cub started off the preparations by scooping some coconut oil into a bowl. This will serve as a coating for the chicken.

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We ran to our nearest Trader Joes and grabbed their Sweet Plantain Chips. Sooo good!

We placed the chips in an old coffee grinder to bring them to a fine ground.

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The cub enjoyed pushing the button!

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Grandma DiDi scooped the plantain grinds into a bowl while the cub watched.

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The cub seasoned the plantains with salt and pepper. Now they are ready to dip the chicken!

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The cub helps Grandma DiDi coat the chicken in plantain grinds.

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The chicken strips are placed on a baking sheet ready to go in the oven.

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Time to dig in!

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Try our healthier version of a chicken strip! Enjoy!

Plantain Crusted Chicken Strips

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lbs. chicken breast strips
  • 1/2 bag Sweet Plantain Chips from Trader Joes, crushed to either a crunchy or fine grind
  • Approximately 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted or 2 eggs whipped
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F
  2. Grind plantain chips to a fine ground (or courser if you choose)
  3. Season plantain grounds with salt and pepper
  4. Dip chicken strips in coconut oil (egg would work also here)
  5. Dredge chicken in plantain grounds
  6. Place chicken on parchment covered baking sheets
  7. Bake chicken for 15 – 20 min or until cooked through

 

Kale Popcorn

Kale Popcorn

Need an easy snack that your kids will love that also has some nutritional value to it? Look no further – an easy recipe that will satisfy that salty craving all while eating your greens! It’s a win-win situation!

Kale

The cub began by helping strip the kale from the stems.

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Grandma says, “Way to go”!

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Once all the kale had been stripped, the cub stopped for a snack. Raw kale for the win!

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Next up, the cub oils the baking sheets.

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And tosses the kale in the oil and adds some salt for flavor.

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While the kale bakes in the oven, the cub gets to work prepping the toppings. Popcorn wouldn’t be complete without a little cheese!  Yes, this task necessitated a princess and some help from Grandma!

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After the kale was cooled, the cub crushed the chips into small pieces.

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But she needs to taste them first to make sure they are just right! Delicious!

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Once all the kale has been crushed, Grandma DiDi adds the popcorn to the mixture. We used pre popped popcorn from the store, but you can make your own if you prefer.

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The cub stirs it up so that all the popped kernels are covered.

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Grandma DiDi does the final toss!

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The finished product. It didn’t last long!

Kale Popcorn

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Kale Dusted Popcorn recipe)

Ingredients

Kale Dust:

  • A bundle of Lacinato kale (aka dinosaur or Tuscan) although, we used red curly kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt

To finish:

  • 4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels or bag of popped popcorn(we used  1 bag of Trader Joe’s olive oil popcorn)
  • 2/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale. Remove and discard the tough stems.
  2. Lightly brush two large baking sheets with olive oil. Arrange the leaves in one layer on the prepared baking sheets, sprinkle lightly with salt, and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the leaves are crisp. Let cool completely. In a food processor, with a mortar and pestle, or even with a muddler in a bowl, grind the kale chips down into a coarse powder.
  3. Make the popcorn (Directions from Smitten Kitchen): Place 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 or 3 kernels of popcorn in a 3-quart or larger pot. Turn the heat to medium-high, and cover with a lid. When you hear these first kernels pop, add the remaining kernels and replace the lid. Using pot holders, shimmy the pot around to keep the kernels moving as they pop. When several seconds pass between pops, remove from the heat. (Or use your preferred brand bag of popcorn heated in oven on tray for just a couple minutes.)
  4. Transfer to a bowl, and immediately toss with the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, kale dust, Pecorino, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss until evenly coated. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed.

 

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta

Delizioso! Nothing like homemade pasta! Grandma DiDi and the cub took on the task of making homemade whole wheat pasta and boy was it worth it! All the while, the cub learned about the time and energy it takes to prepare and cook noodles.

Pasta

The cub was feeling brave today and decided to work with the food processor. In goes the flour.

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Then the eggs and a little water!

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The cub watches while Grandma DiDi mixes the dough. The cub stands back, but isn’t as intimidated this time around.

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Grandma DiDi rolls out the dough.

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Now it’s the cubs turn to pat the dough and shape it so it can rest for an hour.

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The cub delicately wraps the dough with plastic wrap.

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Time to feed the dough through the Kitchenaid pasta attachment.

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After a few passes, the dough stretches out nice and long! Almost time to feed through the noodle press. The cub enjoys her duty of helping hold the dough with her hands.

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The cub got to pick between fettuccini and spaghetti… she chose Fettuccini and was eager to help feed it thought the roller.

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All done and the cub wants me to see her finished work!

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Fettuccini!

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And we had enough dough to make spaghetti!

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Lunch is served! Our version of Caccio e pepe! We added oil, butter, salt, pepper, parmesan and peas! Make your own creation and share it with us!

 

Whole Wheat Homemade Pasta

(adapted from Small Victories)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Water, as needed

Directions

  1. Combine in bowl or food processor the flour, eggs and salt. Run machine until it forms ball of dough and it doesn’t stick to fingers or blade. Add water, teaspoon at a time, until this occurs (took more water with the whole wheat flour than with all-purpose). When dough has formed, pat into flat disk and dust with some extra flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temp for one hour.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Using a kitchenaid mixer with correct attachments:  After dough has rested for an hour, cut dough into about 6 equal pieces (keep the rest covered).  Press one piece of dough down with the heel of your palm until it flattens,  then run it through the pasta machine on level one. I needed to do level 1 several times with the whole wheat pasta, folding over once or twice to get the consistency correct. Run dough sheets through every level (up to6 or 7) at least once or twice until you have achieved desired consistency.  Towards the end, sheets become very long and it’s necessary to gently carry them on the backs of your hands.  If dough becomes sticky dust with a little flour.
  4. You can use the flat sheets for lasagna – no pre cooking needed. We changed the attachment and fed the sheets through to make fettuccini and spaghetti.
  5. Cook noodles in boiling, salted water for about 3 minutes  and serve with your favorite sauce/toppings.
  6. All pasta should be cooked right away or refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

 

Strawberry Spinach Wrap

Strawberry Spinach Wrap

Staying creative with meals can be a challenge, allowing us to easily fall into the same routine – I’m very guilty of this! This wrap is easy and uses items you probably already have in your refrigerator.

The cub loves sour foods, i.e., lemon, vinegar, etc. So when thinking of something that would fit her palate, we decided to make a sweet and sour tasting wrap! The perfect balance in flavor and nutrition.

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The cub began by helping Grandma DiDi cut up the strawberries.

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Next up, Grandma DiDi made the ricotta spread. She used regular ricotta cheese and added honey .

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The cub loves lemon, so we zested a lemon and added it to the ricotta spread to create a light balance that was slightly sweet with the zesty brightness of the citrus.

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The cub must try it to make sure it’s just right! She approves!

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Grandma DiDi grabs a lavash wrap and spreads the ricotta on one side.

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Next, the cub layers spinach leaves on the ricotta.

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On go the strawberries!

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Strawberries go really well with a balsamic dressing so we added that to give it a bit more flavor. The cub helps drip it on the strawberries. It’s almost time to eat!

 

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Such fun watching it roll up. Some of the ingredients fell out the side and the cub helped push them back in as Grandma DiDi rolled it up.

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Dig in! A perfectly balanced snack or lunch that is sure to satisfy your sweet and sour cravings!

 

Spinach Strawberry Wrap

Ingredients for 2 wraps

  • 1 12 x 9  whole wheat Lavash cut in half
  • Handful of spinach/or arugula
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp lemon zest or to taste
  • 1 tsp honey or to taste
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cut the lavash in half, crosswise.
  2. Mix the ricotta cheese with honey and lemon zest and set aside. Wash the strawberries and slice.
  3. Make dressing by mixing vinegar, oil and salt and pepper.
  4. To assemble, spread half of the ricotta on top half of the lavash as well as the one inch portion on other end to create a glue when you roll it into a wrap.
  5. Cover the ricotta with a thin layer of spinach.
  6. Cover the spinach with a thin layer of strawberries.
  7. Drizzle with as much balsamic dressing as you would like and roll up.
  8. Cut in half at an angle or into two inch rings.
  9. Remaining dressing can be used for dipping on the side.

 

Veggie Alphabet Noodle Soup

Veggie Alphabet Noodle Soup

Anyone else on an endless cycle of colds with their little ones this season? The cub has had her fair share of sickness. A balanced, healthy diet can help boost your immune system, so we are doing all we can to help the cub during this season.

For centuries soup has been regarded as a cold fighting food. To back up this theory, we dive into the nutritional benefits of each ingredient.

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The cub learns about thyme and how to strip it. Grandma DiDi models and the cub follows along.

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The cub always smell new ingredients she uses. It activates more than one sense in the cub helping her to fully understand it.

Thyme: The flowers, leaves, and oil of thyme have been used to treat bedwetting, diarrhea, stomach ache, arthritis, colic, sore throat, cough, including whooping-cough, bronchitis, flatulence, and as a diuretic, to increase urination.

Thyme to eat up!

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Next up, the cub chops the zucchini. If you have been following along, you will notice the cub has improved on her knife skills. We’re so proud!

Zucchini: Already being an outstanding source of manganese and vitamin C, zucchini is also contains vitamin A, magnesium, folate, potassium, copper, and phosphorus.

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The cub moves onto chopping the bell peppers. Check out those knife skills!

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Along with smelling our ingredients, we eat them, too, to make sure they are delicious.

Bell peppers: are rich in many vitamins and antioxidants, especially vitamin C and various carotenoids.

Eat up, Cub!

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Grandma DiDi helped chop the rest of ingredients with a quick kiss to show love and appreciation for one another.

Onion: An onion contains fiber and folic acid, and B vitamin that helps the body make healthy new cells.

Carrots: Most of the benefits of carrots can be attributed to their beta-carotene and fiber content. These root vegetables are also a good source of antioxidants, vitamin A, C, K, and B8, as well as pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese.

Potato: Potatoes offer the body fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C and iron, and are an excellent source of potassium.

Celery: The benefits of celery begin with it being an excellent source of antioxidants and beneficial enzymes, in addition to vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin B6.

Tomatoes: Are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Niacin, Calcium, Magnesium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Iron, Potassium and Copper.

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Once again, the cub tests out how celery leaves taste. Eat your antioxidants, little one!

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We added all the yummy ingredients to a pot to cook. Can you smell the aroma? Delicious!

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Grandma DiDi made her own vegetable broth and added it to the soup. You can also use store-bought. The cub watches with curiosity.

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Time to add our noodles. We decided to use Eden Organic Pasta Vegetable Noodles for our soup. Bonus points for adding a learning component to the soup!

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In they go from the loving arms of Grandma DiDi.

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The final product that’s filled with so much goodness. Add fresh lemon for added Vitamin C – a proven way to help boost your immune system and a brightened flavor in whatever you’re eating!

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She’s so proud of her dish. Extra credit: Happiness is also known to lead to better health! 😁

 

Veggie Alphabet Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • I cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • I cup bell peppers – whatever color you want, diced
  • 3 – 4 small yukon gold or red skinned potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • approximately 4 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken if you wish) *see note
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cups alphabet noodles *see note
  • Salt and pepper to taste (note that canned tomatoes have a lot of salt)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Add whatever veggies you want, spinach, Swiss chard, turnips, parsnips, etc.

Directions:

  1. Put oil in large dutch oven pot or pan.
  2. Add onion, celery,  and carrots and saute until softened (about 5 – 10 min) over medium heat.
  3. Add peppers, zucchini and potatoes with thyme and cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Pour in tomatoes and broth and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add noodles and cook about 10 minutes (or per package direction of noodles).
  6. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste.

Note: I have found that packaged vegetable broths taste terrible. So as I cook I throw all leftover trimmings of veggies I have (carrot ends, stems of parsley, and other herbs, etc) into a plastic bag and put them in the freezer. I add to them and then put them in a pot with water and some fresh garlic, onion, peppercorns, bay leaves etc)  and simmer for a while then strain.  Freeze and use when needed.

Also noodles in broth will continue to soak up the water/broth until there is no more liquid. It’s best to eat soup with pasta first couple days.   You can freeze, but the noodles don’t always hold up well structurally, although they still taste wonderful.