Want an orange-flavored cake that isn’t overpowering?
My grandmother, fabulous in everything she did in the kitchen, could have owned a bakery business. If there is one thing she taught me well how to do, it’s to take a basic recipe and add things to make it my own. Her basic cake recipe has enough ingredients in there to make you think it takes a lot of time, when it really doesn’t.
A long time ago, I needed to bring a cake to a friend’s house, and I ran out of cake flour. So in a pinch, I borrowed a box of yellow cake mix from my neighbor, and called it a day. I know, I know, I don’t do boxed anything, but once a year, it’s okay to make it semi-homemade. Right? The result was a super-moist and delicious cake where the orange flavor is present but not overpowering. Doesn’t it look delicious?
Last week, I taught a friend of mine how to make homemade pizza dough and shared my recipe so it would come out on the thin side with a flavorful, crispy crust that tastes just like at the brick oven place. Why pay $18 for a pizza that can be made at home for much less? The trick is not only in the dough but also the oven temperature and a pizza stone, of course. While a pizza stone isn’t necessary to make homemade pizza (this recipe will turn out fine if you put it on a cookie sheet), it’s definitely a good investment if your house loves pizza as much as mine. The pizza you see to the left is pesto, pears, and brie.
Pizza night has become a Friday night staple at my house. We even use it as entertainment, and the running joke is that there is a “line” to get invited. My kitchen island becomes my dough rolling and topping assembly station. Everyone waits their turn, and one by one, we cook them while we chat and share appetizers. The added bonus is that the pizza is only in the oven for about 7 to 9 minutes, so we use that time to prepare the next one. I am telling you, it’s so much fun! The kids can select their own toppings, and adults can use whatever I have in my fridge. When I invite guests over, I often tell them that they need to bring the toppings they would like on their own pizza. I provide the dough and expertise. It’s good family fun and an inexpensive night in!
All the ingredients must be at room temperature. Warm the water to approximately 110F.
Add the sugar and yeast to the water, and stir. Let it stand for 10 minutes on the counter until the yeast has formed foam.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, olive oil, and salt.
Mix in the yeast liquid, and knead by hand for about 10 minutes, until a pizza dough ball can be formed. In a mixer, mix for about 5 minutes on medium speed.
Roll out the dough, and make a ball. Let the dough ball rest inside a bowl for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled. You can make it in the morning or the night before and store it in the fridge. The dough must rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours before rolling it out.
Preheat the oven to 500F with the pizza stone in the oven on the lowest possible rack (remove other unused racks prior to preheating).
Roll out the dough to make one extra-large pizza or individual-size pizzas.
Add your toppings.
Insert the pizza into the oven (with the help of a pizza paddle or a floured back side of a cookie sheet.
Bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Enjoy!
Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Pizza
Where do you find a pizza stone? There are inexpensive ones at Walmart and Target (between $10 and $20) or really fancy ones from Williams Sonoma. My stone is middle-of-the-road price-wise ($30), but it’s by far, the best I’ve owned. I prefer a rectangular/square stone, but a round one will be fine. Happy pizza-making!
Last week, I stumbled upon Jenn’s blog and fell in love with her genius idea of Mutant Pops. I thought, what kid wouldn’t love those? After a little begging (just kidding, she is so gracious and offered to share immediately!) e-mailing, I’m thankful I’m able to share her recipe with you! —Laura
Sometimes, good things come from the least likely places. I have always enjoyed cooking, even before I had children, and I assumed that once my children came along and moved past the nursing stage, they would be eager to come to the family table and share in the joy and comfort of healthy eating. Boy, was I wrong! I did not anticipate that I would have a child with a feeding disorder. What is the difference between a picky eater and a child with a feeding disorder? A picky eater may reject certain foods, but still manages to get enough variety to promote healthy growth and development. A child with a feeding disorder may eliminate entire food groups and not take in enough calories and nutrients to survive.
It sounds pretty scary, but there is good in this story. Owen’s feeding disorder has really forced us to take a good look at what we feed our family, how we cook for them, and where our food comes from. It has made us even more determined to involve our children in all aspects of food. Everything that comes from our kitchen must have boosted nutritional value!
Perhaps the most sought-after recipe that I use regularly is the one for vegetable popsicles. It doesn’t sound appealing, but my kids love them so much that they no longer ask for the sugar-filled ones from the grocer’s freezer. If they are going to have sugar in their diet, I want to be the one to control it. These are love at first bite!
I always start with pineapple as a base, for the digestive properties and also because it covers the taste of almost everything. I puree whole fruit instead of just a bunch of juice because my son, Owen, does not eat enough solid food to allow for empty calories. Just as with babies beginning to eat pureed veggies, you start with milder flavors and keep adding as much as you can get away with!
There are endless variations. Change it up! The general rule of thumb is to start slowly with the vegetables, and increase with each successive batch. With the Mutant Spinach Pops, I started with a couple of handfuls, and now I can get about 2 or 3 packed cups of spinach into each batch. If you find them too sweet, add some water instead of juice.
Leftover steamed broccoli (I used a bit more than a cup)
Enough raspberries to make it taste good
Splash of juice
Touch of honey
Mango goes really well in this one so add away…
Spaghetti Squash, Strawberry, Orange:
1/2 spaghetti squash, cooked (butternut may work too)
1/2 bag frozen strawberries, or equal amount fresh
Splash of juice (I like to add fresh orange)
A bit of honey, if you like
Toss in some mango or peach chunks if you like
1/2 pineapple, cored and cut into chunks
1 cup fresh spinach, or more
Orange or pineapple juice
Touch of honey if desired
Raspberry goes well in this mix, so toss in a handful of frozen berries if desired
Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into molds and freeze.
With any of the above recipes, you can add yogurt or coconut milk to make a creamy variation that is a little higher in fat and calories. They make a great dessert year-round, and in the summer months, my kids end up going through ten or twelve a day. I always have some in my freezer, even in the dead of winter. They are a great way to soothe sore throats! And yes, I even let the kids have them for breakfast. The above recipes also double as smoothies in our house. Just add a few ice cubes to the mix, yogurt if you like, and you have a mini meal. I may add a tablespoon or two of macadamia nut butter, tahini, or pumpkin seed butter for Owen, to boost his fat and protein intake. Happy mixing!
About Jenn Sprung: A full-time mom to three wonderful children, with a keen interest in boosting the nutrition in every bite. Because in my world, every bite counts! Visit Jenn’s blog Cleverly Disguised as Cake for additional sneaky resources, or learn more about Pediatric Feeding Disorders and how to help your child.
Do you buy that packet of taco seasoning from the store with who-knows-what in it?
I am a big fan of making my own seasonings because I am able to adjust the spiciness, salt, and quality of ingredients. I also choose to make my own of something I might use often. I find taco seasoning to be extremely versatile and useful on many of my go-to recipes: roasts, tacos, quesadillas, scrambled eggs, dips, soups—just to name a few.
The ingredients in this recipe are very basic, and having the other spices in bulk allows you to use them in other dishes. The best part is that it’s free of salt, MSG, preservatives, and anti-caking agents. Hello, fresh!
Visit your local farmers’ market, Whole Foods, or grocery store, and you will see new varieties of apples on display. With so many options, how do you know which ones to buy? Haven’t heard of one before? Stop grabbing the same red delicious apples day after day, and start enjoying some of the juicer, sweeter varieties out there! Here is a quick guide on apples you’ll see this fall. Go ahead, try a new variety. And just for fun, you can get baking with our easy apple turnover recipe below.
Royal Gala apples have a mild flavor and are crisp and sweet. Their characteristic yellowish orange skin has a distinct red striping. They are perfect for salads and eating out of hand, and cook nicely in applesauce.
Golden Delicious apples are a perfect all-around apple. They have a sweet, rich, and mellow flavor, and hold their shape best when baked.
Popular, crisp, and tart, Granny Smith apples are a good all-purpose apple. Their flavor is enhanced when paired with sweeter, spicier apples in pies and crisps, and delivers that perfect balance between richness and tang.
Honeycrisps are sweet, delicious eating apples. They are crisp (just like their name), and juicy, with a sweet honey-like flavor and a bit of tartness. They work well in baking and are perfect for applesauce.
Cortlands are juicy, with a slightly tart flavor. They have a bright, red skin and pure white flesh. They are excellent for baking, especially in pies, cobblers, and crisps. Because their flesh doesn’t discolor quickly when sliced, Cortlands are great for fruit salads and fruit and cheese plates.
Empires are a combination of a McIntosh and a Red Delicious apple. They have a firm texture and a slightly tart flavor. They are an excellent eating apple, and a good one to have around for applesauce, pie, cakes, and salads.
Mutsu apples are usually very large, with a yellowish green skin. They are juicy and very crisp, with a very sweet flavor. They’re excellent for fresh eating, as well as using in salads, applesauce, and baked goods.
Ida Reds are tangy with a pink flesh. They give a nice pinkness to applesauce and keep their shape well during baking. They also freeze well and are nice and crisp in salads.
If you’re looking for a tart apple with a rich, spicy flavor, Jonathan apples are a good pick. They are also great to balance out sweet apples in baking because they hold their shape well. They’re a versatile apple that makes good salad and applesauce, too.
A delicious eating apple, Macouns are sweet, aromatic, and perfect for nearly everything. They have bright red skin and a snow-white flesh. Their juicy taste makes them perfect for daily eating, but also for salads and applesauce.
Jonagolds are a combination of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples. Their tangy, sweet flavor is housed inside a characteristic yellowish-green exterior with a blush stripe. They are excellent both for eating fresh and for cooking.
These classic bright red apples with green undertones are juicy and crisp. McIntoshes tend to break down when they are cooked. They are delicious and readily available, making them a good choice for eating out of hand or made into applesauce. For baking, they are best paired with Golden Delicious or other apples.
Popular Red Delicious apples were bred to be eating apples. They don’t make good baking apples, but are perfect for eating out of hand. They have a mild flavor, are sweet and juicy, and are known by their deep red skin and a classic heart shape.
Winesap apples are firm and sweet, with a bit of a spicy kick. The Winesap is very firm and aromatic, with a spicy bite. A sweet-flavored apple, Winesaps are good in sauces and for baking.
With so many types of apples to choose from this fall, you can get creative and bake away! Why bake apples? They are inexpensive, they are delicious, are good for you, and paired with some sugar and cinnamon, who can turn them down?! Here is my go-to recipe for easy apple turnovers. Save it, print it, enjoy!
You can choose any variety of apple, but Granny Smith is the traditional variety to use. Avoid baking with red delicious apples; these do not bake well. Prep time: 25 minutes. Bake: 25 minutes. Total time: 50 minutes. Yields 8 turnovers.
Combine the lemon juice and 4 cups water in a large bowl. Place the sliced apples in the water to keep them from browning.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain the water from the apples, and place them into the hot skillet. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon, and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Stir together the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Pour into the skillet, and mix well. Cook for another minute, or until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
Unfold the puff pastry sheets, and repair any cracks by pressing them back together. Trim each sheet into a square. Then cut each larger square into four smaller squares. Spoon the apples onto the center of each square. Fold over from corner to corner into a triangle shape, and press the edges together to seal. Place the turnovers on a baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the turnovers are puffed and lightly browned. Cool completely before glazing.
Mix together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Adjust the thickness by adding more sugar or milk if necessary. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled turnovers.