Sunday, August 31, 2014

Recipe: The Girl's Three Cheese Sauce - Kid Cooking!

The Girl has been wanting to learn how to make a cheese sauce for a while now.  She decided that she wanted to cook dinner tonight, and it was time for that cheese sauce.

She picked out cheese at the store - a nice cheddar, fontina, and Boursin.  You could use your favorite cheese of choice, for the most part.

Now, what to do with the leftover sauce (other than the obvious mac and cheese)?  I'm open for suggestions.

This is a pretty basic and versatile sauce, and a good staple for anyone to know how to make.  The Girl is incredibly proud of knowing how to make it.  She made a pan cooked breaded chicken and roasted tiny potatoes and carrots.  It was a wonderful dinner!

The Girl's Three Cheese Sauce

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 c lowfat milk
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c shredded fontina cheese
1/4 c Boursin cheese

In a saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour, cooking until slightly thickened.  Slowly stir in the milk, whisking constantly until slightly thickened and bubbly, about 8 minutes.  Be careful to keep stirring, or it will boil over.  Gradually stir in the three cheeses, and stir until melted and well combined.
Serve while hot.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lunches: 8.29.14

First Friday of the school year!  The Hubby and I will snag food for our lunches at work.

Salad with dressing and croutons: 8g, apple: 6g, blueberries: 3g, cheese crackers: 12g, pea crisps: 5g.
The Boy wanted to bring a Caesar salad plus more for lunch, so I decided to try him out with the GoGreenLunchBox.  It's much bigger, but it works out well when there is a salad, which takes up a lot of room, but isn't extremely filling.  He has a Caesar salad, with dressing and croutons separately packed, a small apple with some blueberries, cheese sandwich mini crackers, and pea crips.  His snack is the fruit bar (19g), in the same lunch box.

The Girl has some mini tacos, a small apple, blueberries (I discovered that plastic shot glasses fit perfectly into an Easylunchbox!!  I'm so happy about this discovery!), yogurt star cookies, a couple clementines, and some pea crisps.  Her snack is a yogurt (not pictured).

Happy weekend!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Family Lunches: 8.28.14

The first (official) day of school for both kids was a smashing success!  They had great days, and are so far looking forward to the year to come.
Sandwich: 25g, crackers: 10g, cookies: 15g, pea crisps: 3g, watermelon: 5g, apple slices: 6g
The Boy's lunch for Thursday is a mini slider bun with hummus, smoked turkey, and cheddar-Gruyere cheese, along with apple slices, watermelon, pea crisps, Goldfish crackers, and schoolhouse cookies.  His snack is a yogurt (not pictured, 10g).

The Girl has a mini slider bun with hummus, smoked turkey, and cheddar-Gruyere cheese, with a green fig, pea crisps. Godlfish crackers, schoolhouse cookies, and a couple clementines.  Her snack will also be a yogurt (not pictured).

The Hubby has a mini slider bun with hummus, smoked turkey, and cheddar-Gruyere cheese, apple slices, blueberries, strawberries, and some Goldfish crackers.

I have a mini slider bun with hummus, smoked turkey, and cheddar-Gruyere cheese, a couple clementines, blueberries, apple slices, heirloom grape tomatoes, and Goldfish crackers.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Family Lunches: 8.27.14 - First (Official) Day of School!

The Girl's Smart Start yesterday went really well!  She was very happy with her day, and only had minor problems with her locker (she said that it hated her... she needs to get used to working out a locker combination quickly.  That can be a challenge for the best of us)

Now, it's time for the official start of school for both children!

I had a little fun with the Trader Joe's Schoolhouse Cookies.  These are The Boy's.  The Girl has the letters to spell out her name.

Salad: 2g, dressing: 2g, croutons: 8g, watermelon: 5g, cookies: 15g
The Boy's lunch is a Caesar salad (he has been totally obsessed with Caesar salad lately - he got it three times in New York City, even opting out of french fries for a side Caesar.  I'm not going to question it) with some Parmesan crisps for croutons, with a container of dressing, watermelon, and the Schoolhouse cookies.  His snack is a pear sauce (not pictured, 18g)

The Girl has some mini tacos, figs, watermelon, some Schoolhouse cookies to spell her name, a cheese stick, pea crisps, and a happy little clementine.  Her snack is also a pear sauce (not pictured).

I also packed lunches for The Hubby and for myself.  I have a couple of figs, heirloom grape tomatoes, and a mini pizza (leftovers from dinner).

The Hubby has strawberries, apple slices, and a leftover mini pizza from dinner.

Happy new school year!

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Lunch for The Girl: 8.26.14

Today, The Girl has Smart Start at her new school.  It is a day when only the 6th graders are at the Middle School, and it a way of easing them into the school.

Tomorrow will be the official start of school for both kids, but The Girl still needed a lunch for today.  I realized yesterday that I am now beginning my 7th year of lunch packing.  I asked her last night if she wanted me to still use picks in her lunches and pack the occasional cute theme lunch.  She said that she absolutely wanted me to - but reserved the right to change her mind.  I'm good with that.

Her lunch for the first day of 6th grade is a mini slider bun with hummus, cheddar-gruyere, and smoked turkey, along with a couple fresh green figs, plaintain chips, clementines, and some Pea crisps.  For snack, she has a yogurt (not pictured).

She picked out the options for her lunch from my "Availability Board."  I sometimes lose steam on this later in the school year, but it is so handy to keep track of what's in the fridge and pantry, so that less food goes bad, forgotten in a bottom drawer.  It is always my goal to keep it going for the school year.

Are your kids back in school yet?  If not, when do they start?

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Lunches for an Outing: Stowe Pinnacle - 8.25.14

School starts tomorrow, and I had the day off today, so I thought it would be a good day to fit one more outing into our summer break.   We decided to head up Stowe Pinnacle, where we have hiked before (but it was a couple of years ago).  It is a really fantastic hike - not a long haul, and a big payoff.

For our lunches, we have sandwiches on whole wheat bread with garlic hummus, pesto gouda, smoked turkey, and salami, some cheese and peanut butter crackers, apple slices, and some figs (The Boy had strawberries, as he is not fond of figs, and I am not going to waste them!)

A panorama of the top
We hiked along with my friend and her daughter, and I would love to hike it again in a month or so, when the foliage colors really start to pop.

My friend is a photographer..

Stay tuned - school lunches are coming soon!

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Matkins

Sometimes, kids are not the cleanest of eaters.  School cafeteria tables can be sticky and not the nicest place to set your apple.  Wouldn't a placemat be nice?

How about Matkins?  They are a reusable, stain resistant, portable, and - best of all - cute!

A while back, Matkins sent me a Matkin for each of the kiddos to review.  Each Matkin features a placemat (about 10" x 14", so most lunchboxes will fit nicely on it), a Minikin (a little washable napkin), and a Poppet (a little pouch to stow the Minikin in).

The Matkins roll up easily and have a little ribbon to tie them shut, so you can pop them right in a lunchbox (or a purse, if they are for you!).  They are washing machine and dryer safe, so you can easily clean up any spills.

We love all the different designs that the Matkins come in, and the kids had fun picking theirs out.  Just in time for Back-to-School, Matkins is offering a 2-for-$25 deal (a savings of $7), and you can also get a whole week's worth of Matkins for $65 (a savings of $15) by using the code WEEK at checkout.

They even offer personalization with embroidery!

Now for the fun part - Matkins has offered to send one lucky reader their Matkins of choice!  Simply enter on the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(US residents only, please.  See Rafflecopter for full terms and conditions.)

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Recipe: Orange Maple Granola

Back-to-school season always puts me in the mood to make granola.  It's a great start to the day, and the kids love it.

My go-to recipe is my Grandma's granola.  I stand by her adage that if you are eating more than 1/4 c, you are overeating.  She was Swedish, and believed in "lagom" - not too much, not too little, but just enough.  It's really a wonderfully Swedish ideal .  1/4 c is the lagom amount of granola for breakfast.  Add some yogurt, and you've got a meal.
Granola in Grand Central Station

When we were recently in New York City, my mother and The Boy got parfaits for breakfast with pine nut honey walnut granola.  I wanted to give a nod to that, but make it my own.  I grabbed some sunflower seeds (because pine nuts are six times as expensive as sunflower seeds) and walnuts, but decided to use maple instead of honey, because I am a Vermonter, after all.

The Boy has an adoration for marmalade, so I used some in this granola.  I love how it turned out!

Granola is a wonderful thing to experiment with, and you can really play with the flavors a lot.  I hope that you give this variation a try!  I would love to get some pine nuts to make some granola at some point ... it really was delicious granola.

Orange Maple Granola

4 c rolled oats
1/2 c wheat germ
1/2 c dried milk
1 c sunflower seeds
1 c chopped walnuts
1 c shredded coconut (I used unsweetened - if you use sweetened, the granola would be sweeter. You could reduce the maple in that case)

1/4 c orange marmalade
1/4 c maple syrup (real syrup only, please!)
1/4 c vegetable oil

1/2 c dried fruit (I used King Arthur Flour's Fruitcake Fruit Blend)
1/4 c cinnamon chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 F.  Stir together the rolled oats, wheat germ, dried milk, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and coconut in a large mixing bowl.  Combine the marmalade, maple syrup, and vegetable oil.
Before mixing the liquid into the dry ingredients
Pour the liquid over the oat mixture and combine very well.

Spread on a large sheet pan (or two half sheet pans, or any combination of pans that will fit your mixture in a thin layer).  Bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10-12 minutes.  Watch it carefully!  As soon as it looks toasted and smells good (and oh, does it smell good!), it is ready to take out of the oven.  Burned granola is a very sad thing.
A variation of Grandma's Granola, in a spoon my Daddy made for me.. 

Once the granola is removed from the oven, allow to cool before stirring in the dried fruit and cinnamon chips.  Transfer to well sealed containers and enjoy, 1/4 c at a time.

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Doctor Who Series 8 Edible Geekery Blog Hop: Lemon Ginger Souffle (plus Doctor Who inspired dinner)

It should come as no surprise to most geeks that there is a new Doctor Who season starting on Sunday, with an all new face for the Doctor, as Peter Capaldi takes over for Matt Smith.

This calls for an Edible Geekery Blog Hop!

Since the kids are not yet in school, and I have the day off from work, there is no call for lunches... so dinner it is!

Now, bear with me.  My Doctor Who references in this dinner may seem a bit of a stretch - but I had to make something that people would eat.  As it was, The Boy refused to eat the fish (soy-ginger cod, from Trader Joe's - Ginger for the gingers), and neither child liked the (Rory the) Roman artichokes, though I loved them.  
Image found on Pinterest

The big hit in dinner was the baked potatoes, to honor our favorite Sontaran, Strax.  I just baked them with some olive oil and Italian spices.  So good.

All puffy and gorgeous
And then, I decided to make a souffle for dessert.  I went with a lemon souffle (because it is zippy, just like Clara), and threw in some crystallized minced ginger, in honor of the gingers in The Doctor's life, Donna Noble, Amy Pond and River Song.

This was absolutely delicious.
Image found on Pinterest
I modified this recipe for the souffle slightly.

Lemon Ginger Skillet Souffle (in honor of The Doctor's zippy gingers, and Clara aka Souffle Girl)
Modified slightly from One Perfect Bite

5 eggs, separated
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 c lemon juice
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp butter
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a grease free bowl of an electric stand mixer, whip together the egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium until frothy.  Add 1/3 c sugar and salt slowly, while beating.  Turn speed up to high and beat until stiff peaks form.  Carefully transfer the whites to a clean bowl.
Beat the egg yolks and the remaining 1/3 c sugar in the stand mixer's mixing bowl until thick and pale.  Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour, mixing until just combined.  Fold in about 1/3 of the egg white mixture, until only a few white streaks remain.  Gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture, along with the crystallized ginger.
All folded in and ready to bake
In a 10" skillet (not non-stick), melt butter on medium-low heat, coating the bottom and sides of the pan when it has melted.  Add the souffle mixture to the pan gently.

In the skillet, stovetop
The edges are bubbly and slightly cooked - time to transfer to the oven!
Cook on medium-low heat on the stovetop until the edges begin to set and a few small bubbles appear.  Transfer to oven and cook until set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

All baked and topped with confectioner's sugar.
Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve immediately.

This recipe is a win all around for sure.  I would absolutely make it for a party.

Now, since we have caught up on the current run, and we are anxiously awaiting Sunday's premier, The Girl has decided to watch some classic Doctor Who - she started with Season 1, episode 1.  I love that I am raising a good and proper geek girl.

Older Doctor Who posts are found here and here, if you want to stroll through history a bit.

Come along, Pond
Now, why don't you head on over to the next stop in the blog hop, and see what Jessie from Chaos and Confections has come up with, then hop on through to see the offerings from everyone else.

We are excited for the premier on Sunday, that's for sure!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Lunches for an Outing: Treasures of Tutankhamun in Montreal - 8.15.14

When we went up to see the Caves of Lascaux last month, we saw a poster in the subway advertising the Treasures of King Tut.

The Girl is totally obsessed with Egypt, and her jaw dropped.  My mother has been to Egypt and has seen some Tut artifacts already.  I also adore Egyptian history.

The Boy grumped at The Met in the Egyptian exhibit so much, he declined to go when I offered.  His loss.

My mother and I brought The Girl up to Montreal today to see this amazing traveling exhibit before it moves on to it's next stop at the end of the month.

I don't even know where that will be, but I do know that it is not going to be as close to us as Montreal.

Of course, I brought lunches.

We ate out on the pier in Old Montreal, with the World's Fair building and La Ronde amusement park in the background, and with seagulls for company.

We had turkey and salami sandwiches with hummus and salad greens on ciabatta, with popcorn, champagne grapes, and plums.

Deciphering the hyroglyphics
If you have a chance to see this exhibit, go.  I am not sure where it is going next, but if it is anywhere close to you, it is more than worth it.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

That Time I Ate Manhattan - Part II (with Kids, Queens, and Brooklyn)

The first time I got to go to New York City, I was 35.  I was there for less than two full days, and it was my mission to eat my way through as much of Manhattan as possible.  I blogged about it in That Time I Ate Manhattan.

When I learned that my cousin was getting married in Brooklyn, I decided that we should do our best to bring the kids, so that they got their first taste of the city before the age that I did.  Though The Hubby was unable to come due to work, my mother and I bundled up the kids and went to stay with a good friend in Astoria for the long weekend.

Snacks for the trip: Yogurt, champagne grapes, cucumber, and trail mix

We started out from Vermont bright and early Friday morning.  My mother brought homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and I packed Easylunchboxes full of car-friendly fruits and more.  The kids were able to eat happily in the back seat without  making any pit-stops.

We drove all the way to a train station in Connecticut, then hopped on the commuter rail into Grand Central Station, where my friend picked us up.

We wandered around Midtown Manhattan, showing the kids Broadway, Times Square, and (the lobby of) the Empire State Building, among other things.

For dinner on Friday night, we decided to take in the "show" at Ellen's Stardust Diner.  It was worth the wait in line!  The waitstaff are all up-and-coming Broadway stars, and since we could not fit in a Broadway show for this trip, we decided this was a good option.  The kids were enthralled!

My mother and I had some Brooklyn Lager (it was a long drive, long day, and time for a beer... and my mother doesn't care for crowds and lines, so she really deserved this!).

I had a Reuben sandwich, my mother had a beautiful Blue cheese burger, The Boy had a salad with macaroni and cheese bites, and The Girl had a meatloaf.

Seen, but not eaten at... someday.... 

"I am tired, and need sugar."

We wandered around after dinner to Rockefeller Center, and ended up at Junior's for dessert.

My mother and I shared Devil's Food Cheesecake.

Yes, we brought leftovers back to my friend's apartment
The Boy had Strawberry Shortcake Cheesecake.

Our friend got a Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake.

The Girl ... had to be different.  She got some strawberry ice cream.

I, of course, got coffee.

The first day entirely tuckered the kids (and the rest of us) out.  Back to my friend's in Astoria!

We started off our second day at the New York City Bagel and Coffee House in Astoria.  We got "mini" bagels, and they were the size of normal bagels in Vermont.  Thanks to my friend for suggesting minis - or else we would have been totally overwhelmed!

From there, we headed into Manhattan.  Our agenda for the day was to see the American Natural History Museum!  On our first trip to this fabulous museum, we worked our way through the North American Mammals dioramas, the dinosaurs, and the Hall of Human origins... so much more to see!

Crusty bread with olive oil

For lunch, we decided to go for classic New York pizza and stopped into Patsy's for a pie.  Delicious!

Appetizer: Octopus skewers with wilted potatoes

My entree - hake fish with clams

Mom's entree - chicken in garlic sauce
Chocolate mousse as a dessert option

An assortment of cupcakes in lieu of wedding cake
The kids hung out with our friend while my mother and I went to my cousin's wedding at MyMoon restaurant in Brooklyn.  The wedding was lovely - and the food was amazing.  We got to order from a set menu, and all of them were absolutely wonderful.  The wedding was beautiful and heartfelt and sweet, and I was thrilled that we could be a part of it.

On Day 3, we went to breakfast at Cafe Via Espresso.  I got huevos rancheros, my mother got a Greek omelette, The Girl got pancakes and an egg, and The Boy got a big banana chocolate chip muffin.  I would absolutely go to this place again.  The coffee was delicious, and if I had wanted a larger breakfast, I would have tried the challah French toast.

From there, we went on the the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The Girl was in her glory in the Egyptian wing.  She could easily have spent an entire week there.

The Boy was less enthusiastic about the Egyptian exhibit, and I took him to see the Medieval art, along with Armor and weapons.  He liked that better.

We took a jaunt up to the rooftop garden, but the food there was not to our liking, so we just took in the view before heading out.  We didn't even get to see the Roman or Greek sections of the Met... so much else to see!  Next time, next time...

We walked through Central park, getting some (very subpar, sadly) soft pretzels for the walk.  The kids liked them, but my mother is a soft pretzel aficionado... so that was disappointing.

On the other side of Central Park, we found Savoury, an Indian restaurant, and my sister and her husband joined us for lunch.  My mother and The Boy were not hungry, so they just got salads, but the rest of us got the lunch specials to share, along with some chicken pakora and vegetable samosas to share.  I was busy eating and got no pictures... oops. My brother-in-law got Chicken Tikka Makhani, I got Lamb Pasanda (in a cardamom cream sauce that I have to try to recreate), my sister got the Goat Rogn Josh, and The Girl got the Chicken Saag.  All of the lunch specials came with naan and rice.  We were very happy with this meal.

From there, we continued back to the American Natural History Museum to try to see some things that we didn't get a chance to see the day before.

For dinner, we headed into Union Square.  Oh, hi, Trader Joe's Wine Shop!

We ate at Heartland Brewery, a local brew-pub.  My mother and I had the Heartland Pu Pu Platter - a sampler of some of their most popular items.  It was exactly what we wanted.  The Boy got a grilled cheese with a side Caesar salad. The Girl got a bacon cheeseburger.  I had an apricot ale, which was delightful.

A short walk brought us to a view of the Flatiron building and some more beautiful views of the city.

For our final morning, we decided to eat at Grand Central Station, so that we could have some time for people watching before our train back to Connecticut.  We ate at Dishes.  The Boy and my mother had yogurt parfaits with pecan and pine nut honey granola (I will be trying to recreate this one).  The Girl and I had breakfast sandwiches with ham and spinach and cheese.

Before it was time to hop on our train, we took a nice walk around Grand Central. I bought some Rainbow cookies from Zaro's Bakery for the way home, and to share with The Hubby and friends.  I will also be trying to recreate these.

I think the kids were a little tuckered out from our weekend!  We are looking forward to our next adventure, though it will not be nearly as grand as this one.  It was amazing and I am thrilled that we were able to bring the kids to NYC for their first taste!

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