Cooking with Kids: Pumpkin Pie

A few days before Halloween this year, we were over at my Mom’s house to celebrate a birthday in the family. She gave each of the grand kids a sugar pie pumpkin and a tray of paints and told them to go to town decorating them, which they did with great gusto. She also told them we would be able to wash the paint off and be able to use them to make pumpkin pies.

Aurora painting pumpkinJonathan's painty hands

Well, the day before Thanksgiving, Jonathan decided that we had to use his pumpkin to make pumpkin pie. So he spent a joyful half hour at the sink washing all of the paint off so we could make a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. I baked the pumpkin that evening, and early Thanksgiving morning the two of us got to work in the kitchen.

He helped me scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the shell to puree it in the food processor.

Scooping out the cooked pumpkin

 Then we got to work making our crust. He helped me measure and mix it, and then press it into the pie pan. We used this recipe for the Gingerbread Crust from PaleOMG. We pretty much followed the recipe, substituting coconut oil for the grass-fed butter. I would suggest lowering the oven temperature and watching the crust very carefully for doneness, since our crust was burned in a few places.

Then onto the filling, using our homemade pumpkin puree. We chose this Raw, No Bake Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Filling from Living Healthy With Chocolate, because it has chocolate, and I can get Jonathan to try just about anything that has chocolate in it! (I had serious doubts he would actually eat a regular, pumpkiny pie, and I really wanted him to eat and enjoy the food he had made.) It paired beautifully with the Gingerbread Crust, and set up nicely after a few hours in the fridge. (We also made a couple crust-less ones in ramekins, since his Nina tries to not eat too many nuts.) The only thing I would change here is to maybe add some mini-chocolate chips to the filling, but it was otherwise perfect and amazing!

The chef

A sweet kiss

urora's kiss was even sweeter!

 Everyone in the family enjoyed Jonathan’s addition to our Thanksgiving feast! And most importantly, my super-picky eater loved it!

Yum!I had a delightful time in the kitchen working with my precious son. Usually I am so rushed trying to get meals on the table that it is hard to take the time having “help” in the kitchen requires. But I am so glad I did it that day! It is certainly a joyful memory I will always carry with me. I think I’m going to have to make my little chef an apron of his own. (I have a love of aprons- I got two new ones for Christmas!)

Fun in the kitchen with Honey

 

Cube Steak & Gravy

Cube Steak & Gravy

Comfort food. We all have favorite foods from our childhoods that remind of us of simpler, more carefree times. For me, one of my favorite comfort foods ever is Cube Steak & Gravy. It is simple and fairly quick to prepare, and most importantly, fairly inexpensive. (Which is probably why it is one of my favorite comfort foods- I think we probably had it fairly often because it was so cheap. I also love liver & onions for the same reason.)

I make it just the way my mama does, and serve it over mashed malanga, with some sauteed okra and summer squash on the side. A perfect meal that the whole family enjoys, especially me!

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Plantains: 4 Ways (Plantain Chips, Plantain Coins, Plantain Fries and Tostones)

 Plantains 4 Ways

It should be pretty evident by now that our family has a serious love affair with plantains. We use them as savory sides and in baking as sweet treats (see here, here, and here.) And why not? They are inexpensive, delicious, easy to prepare and a great, simple starch. I think we go through at least 20 green plantains a week. I will hold out on going to the grocery store when we are out of many things, but once we run out of plantains a trip to the produce store or Publix (both places sell them 5 for $1) is necessary. [Read more…]

Carrot Spice Plantain Muffins

Carrot Spice Muffins

One of our staples for a quick and easy breakfast has been my Apple-Cinnamon Almond Flour Muffins or Double-Chocolate Almond Flour Muffins. It is so nice to be able to grab a muffin from the freezer to satisfy an empty tummy on a busy morning. But with Aurora’s allergies to both tree nuts and coconut oil, I have been trying to come up with an easy breakfast alternative that would be safe and nourishing for her to eat as well.

As you know, I have been experimenting a lot with plantains (see here and here), which Aurora seems to do very well with. So I thought I would try my hand at coming up with a muffin recipe made from plantains that she, and the whole family, could enjoy without fear of an adverse reaction. I have been working on this recipe for quite a while- I believe that I went through at least a dozen versions before I came up with what I feel is a perfect balance. (It’s a good thing plantains are so inexpensive!)

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Chocolate Chip Cookies- Made from Plantains!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (from plantains) 

I haven’t had chocolate chip cookies in a really, really long time. And usually, I’m pretty OK with that. But sometimes a girl just longs for the delicious sweetness, comfort and fond memories a fresh-from-the-oven, warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie can evoke. I was very happy to find a recipe for chocolate chip cookies made from plantains on a favorite blog, Purely Twins, last week. Unfortunately, it used coconut flour, coconut sugar, and coconut oil, all of which Aurora is allergic to. So of course, I did a little tinkering and I am so pleased with the results.

Gooey Chocolate Chip CookieMy husband was pretty amazed when he walked in the kitchen to see what the delicious smell was. He thought they smelled, tasted, and looked like the real thing. (The texture isn’t the same- these have a pretty soft cake-like texture- but we can’t have everything, can we?) Aurora really enjoyed them, too. I know she was very happy to be able to take a cookie with her in her snack bag to church. And now that I have a good cookie alternative for her, maybe I can keep her from snagging her brother’s cookies, since she is allergic to the nuts and coconut I use when baking for Jonathan.

Enjoy my version of these delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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Mango Chicken Salad with Chipotle Dressing

 Mango Chicken Salad with Chipotle Dressing

 One of our favorite meals and a frequent choice for our meal plan is this absolutely delicious Mango Chicken Salad with Chipotle Dressing. The original inspiration for this came from the wonderful Sarah Fragoso at Everyday Paleo, but it has really changed and evolved so much since I first glanced at the original recipe that it has become a creation all of its own. (Have you noticed that we like mangos yet?)

One of the great things about this particular recipe is that you can do most of the preparation ahead of time, so that it can be really quick and easy to throw together on a busy weekday evening. The chicken is precooked, so I will often bake a pan of chicken breasts in the oven earlier in the week for this recipe. Then it is a matter of chopping up some peppers and onions, cooking up some bacon and assembling the salads. It is especially nice when you are having guests for dinner, since you won’t be stuck in a hot kitchen and can enjoy some fellowship and conversation.

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Blueberry-Banana Plantain Pancakes

Blueberry Banana PancakesBefore Aurora was born, Pumpkin Almond Flour Pancakes (recipe coming soon!) were a regular breakfast offering in our family. Since Aurora is allergic to tree nuts I don’t do as much with almond flour as I used to, so I have had to be a little more creative in coming up with a pancake recipe that everyone can eat.

Plantains have become a staple in our house. Green plantains are nice, safe starches- they are even FODMAP friendly! And plantains are so incredibly versatile. From green plantains you can make a savory side, like tostones or plantain chips, a delicious not-too-sweet breakfast or treat, or even crunchy crackers. Ripe plantains are a nice treat in the form of maduros. Although our plantains rarely last long enough to ever become ripe. And they are so inexpensive- they only cost $0.20 each at the grocery store, so it takes less than $2 to whip up a batch of these pancakes.

Aurora loves her pancakes!I recently found a great blog, called Purely Twins, and they have a major love affair with plantains. Their blog has already inspired a number of Plantain creations that I look forward to sharing with you soon. I originally found their recipe for Banana Bread Plantain Pancakes, and I present it now to you, with just a minimum of tinkering. They are quick and easy to throw together for a family breakfast. My husband says they smell like French Toast and taste absolutely delicious, and Aurora is obviously a huge fan. The only downside is that they are best fresh and lose a lot of their charm when reheated.

 

 

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Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa

 Mahi Mahi with Fresh Mango Salsa  DSC_1874

I was trying desperately to come up with something to eat for dinner the other night, since I had forgotten to thaw anything out. My musings led me to fish, because it can be thawed in a matter of minutes in cold water. So I went out to the freezer and pulled out some Wild-Caught Mahi Mahi filets. And then I began to ponder how to dress it up, from a plain fish meal to something extraordinary. I looked around my kitchen, saw some mangos at just the right level of ripeness, grabbed a cucumber and a serrano pepper, and a delicious meal was born! The sweetness of the mangos was nicely balanced with the tanginess of the lime juice, and just a touch of heat from the serrano made it a real husband-pleaser.

It was pretty quick and simple to throw together, which was especially good because both kiddos are sick and want to be held by mommy constantly. Prepare the Mahi Mahi anyway you would like. I cooked them on the griddle, but they could be baked, broiled, or grilled with equally delicious results. Paired with tostones, cucumber salad, and some fresh avocado, it was a perfect light meal for a hot summer day (the downside to living in Florida is that summer lasts well into October, and sometimes beyond.)

Mahi Mahi with Fresh Mango Salsa
Serves 4
A quick and easy dinner that will keep you and your kitchen cool.
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Total Time
25 min
Total Time
25 min
For Fish
  1. 4 Wild-Caught Mahi Mahi Filets
  2. Healthy fat of choice
  3. Salt and pepper, to taste
For Fresh Mango Salsa
  1. 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  2. 1/2 C cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  3. 1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped (any chile will do, it just depends how hot you like it)
  4. 2 Tbsp green onions, diced
  5. Juice from 1 lime
  6. salt and pepper, to taste
  7. 1-2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (opt.)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the griddle, and lightly coat bottom with the fat of your choice (i.e. bacon grease, lard, coconut oil, olive oil). Season fish filets with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook fish filets for 5-7 minutes on each side, until fish flakes easily with a fork and is cooked through.
  3. While the fish is cooking, prepare the mango salsa by gently stirring all ingredients together until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve by spooning the mango salsa over the fish. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. I served this with tostones, a simple cucumber and onion salad, and fresh avocado slices. For the kids, I made them a simple salsa, without the chile or green onion.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

 

Apple-Cinnamon Almond Flour Muffins

Apple-Cinnamon Almond Flour MuffinsAlmond flour has been a staple in our household for quite some time, although it doesn’t get used as much these days due to Aurora’s tree nut allergy and foraging habit. Add in our egg allergies, and it has been tricky to come up with a delicious muffin recipe that will both hold together and stay moist and delicious. This Apple-Cinnamon Muffin strikes the right balance between being a sweet treat and a safe and easy breakfast food. I hope you will enjoy them as much as Jonathan does!

(Note: Jonathan likes his “plain” so we leave out the apples for him, but they are so delicious with the apples in that I often make two batches- one without apples for Jonathan, and one with for the grown-ups.)

Apple-Cinnamon Almond Flour Muffins
Serves 12
A delicious breakfast treat with just the right amount of sweetness.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups blanched almond flour
  2. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  3. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  4. 1/4 C arrowroot powder
  5. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  6. 1/4 C coconut oil (or oil of choice)
  7. 1/4 C raw honey
  8. 1 ripe banana
  9. 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  10. 1/2 tsp baking powder mixed in 2 Tbsp water (helps replace the egg)
  11. 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, arrowroot and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, blend together the coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. Add the ripe banana and baking powder/water mixture and mix until smooth.
  3. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined thoroughly. Fold in the apple pieces. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. These freeze really well! Make up a double batch and freeze half, then thaw for a few seconds in the microwave for a quick breakfast.
  2. Try different fruits, like diced pears, peaches, or blueberries.
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/

Tacos! Tacos! Tacos!

One of our family traditions since long before kids entered the picture has been a weekly Taco Night most Saturday evenings. Of course, we used to eat them with tortillas or corn chips. Now we love to enjoy our tacos in a simple lettuce shell, with plantain flour tortillas, or even scooped up with plantain chips. Even the kids get into the taco spirit, happily munching away on crisp lettuce tacos. We served these tacos at Jonathan’s last birthday party, which was a huge hit! I prepared the taco meat ahead of time, and warmed it up in the crock pot for the party. Everyone was able to enjoy a hearty meal that they could customize to their liking, and it was a great alternative to ordering a pizza like most families can do.

One of the ways I survive the daily grind of cooking healthy, delicious and varied meals every.single.day is to periodically make multiple batches of favorite meals for the freezer, called a Mega Cook. We set aside a whole day on Saturday and with the help of family, will put together dozens of meals on one day that I can later just pull out of the freezer, thaw and cook or reheat. In fact, this was a life saver when I was put on bed rest for the last trimester of my pregnancy with Aurora. I wasn’t able to stand up for even a few minutes to put together a meal (and most meals take way more than a few minutes to prepare!). It was a huge blessing for my darling husband to be able to walk out to the freezer, grab a meal, and throw it in the crockpot or reheat it for dinner that evening. This taco recipe lends itself really well to the Mega Cook concept- just prepare the meat and freeze in meal-sized portions. Allow to thaw, then reheat and serve with some quick sides. And even if you aren’t up to doing a full Mega Cook, I will often just make 4 or 5 batches at once to freeze. (I jokingly call this a Micro Cook.) It doesn’t take much more time to make five meals worth than to worth than to make one.

This recipe is adapted from the Chile Rellenos recipe in Everyday Paleo, which I highly recommend. Such an amazing meal, and great for when you have dinner guests.

Beef Tacos
A delicious taco meat blend that is easy to prepare and freeze for a quick and delicious family meal.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
For each batch use
  1. 1 lb ground beef
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  4. 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  5. 1 Tbsp chili powder
  6. Salt and pepper to taste
  7. 6-8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef and onion until thoroughly cooked.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook until garlic is tender.
  3. Serve with: lettuce or plantain flour tortillas, avocado, green onion, diced bell pepper, hot sauce, or whatever condiments you enjoy with your tacos!
Notes
  1. This recipe is great to make large batches to freeze for future meals. Simply cook according to directions, and then freeze in meal-sized portions. Then thaw, reheat and enjoy!
Adapted from Everyday Paleo, by Sarah Fragoso
Adapted from Everyday Paleo, by Sarah Fragoso
Created To Be Paleo http://CreatedToBePaleo.com/
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