Archive for the ‘sweets’ Category

Sweet Caramel Mango Nachos {and Giveaway!}

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

I know some of you are back to school already — we have a few more weeks, here, but it’s never too soon to start filing away new, fast and healthy breakfast, lunch, and after-school snack ideas. The National Mango Board helped get our creative juices flowing with a box of ripe mangos and a cookbook full of ideas. Mangos are high in vitamin C, which is important to keep our little ones healthy throughout the school year.

My soon-to-be first-grader laughed out loud when we came across the mango nacho recipe, so I knew we had to make that first. I made a few tweaks to the recipe, including adding mango puree to the caramel sauce to boost the fruit content and reduce the added sugar. (Plus, the mango makes the caramel sauce more orange — closer to “real” nacho cheese.) We’ll definitely make this again for an after-school treat.

Recipe: Sweet Caramel Mango Nachos
source: Mango Eats & Treats by Mango.org
makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced

Instructions:

To prepare cinnamon cream, beat cream, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl with a mixer until stiff peaks form; transfer to a bowl and refrigerate while preparing nachos.

To prepare the nachos, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut each tortilla into 6 wedges. Working in batches, line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and spray both sides with nonstick cooking spray. Bake tortillas for 10 minutes until browned, turning halfway through until crisp. Stir together sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl; add tortillas and toss well to coat. Pile onto a decorative platter (or individual plates for kids to assemble their own).

Process half of the mango in a blender or food processor until smooth. In a medium bowl, pour caramel sauce and heat for 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir in mango puree. Drizzle mango-caramel sauce over tortilla chips, sprinkle with diced mango and top with cinnamon whipped cream.

Check out the foodie boy explaining how simple this recipe is. The foodie tot tried to get in on the action, too (her job was whipping the cream — she loves to work the buttons on the mixer).

You can get some fresh ideas for cooking with mangos by visiting Mango.org.

The National Mango Board challenged me to spend a week creating healthier eating and snacking habits for my family. Join the conversation and one of my readers will receive a cookbook and a chance to win a shipment of mangos and $200 gift card to Williams-Sonoma.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of National Mango Board. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Sweepstakes Rules.

Life is Short. Make it Sweet.

Friday, August 12th, 2011

I had these lofty ideas of my summer break with the kids, that the boy and I would spend leisurely afternoons in the kitchen while the foodie bebe napped. Of course, it turned out that we’ve spent many days rushing from camp to story time to the pool, and I’m lucky to throw together a quick dinner most nights. But today, we made time for a trip to the store (between the dentist and baseball) and the boy and I finally baked something sweet — a peanut butter pie. For fellow blogger Jennifer Perillo and the unexpected reminder that life is often far too short. Read her post (with tissues handy), and bake something with the people you love this weekend.

peanut butter pie for mikey

the foodie tots bake peanut butter pie

(The recipe for peanut butter cream pie can also be found on Jennie’s blog.)

How Not to Bake Gingerbread Men

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Don’t be surprised if you reach for the molasses and your child starts talking about the Battle of Manassas
(especially if one of his best friends is a budding Civil War buff).

Don’t expect your child to heed your warnings about eating raw cookie dough after he catches you nibbling on it.
(But do buy your eggs from a trusted local farmer.)

Don’t expect to have your child spread flour on the cutting board without it also winding up on the wall, floor and his hair.

Don’t hope for traditional Christmas cookie shapes when you have Star Wars cookie cutters and a four-year-old boy in the house.

Don’t set out bowls of frosting and expect little fingers not to be promptly plunged in them.

Don’t arrange sprinkles in easy-to-access little cups and not expect two pinches to be consumed for every one sprinkled on cookies.

Don’t decorate cookies at 9 pm and expect your child to fall asleep before midnight,
or before he runs 10 laps through the living room and around the tree.

Gingerbread (Clone War) Cookies
Source: The Gourmet Cookie Book

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice*

Instructions: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. In the bowl of a mixer, or other large mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add brown sugar, molasses, butter and allspice and beat on medium low speed until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low until flour is incorporated. Shape dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into smaller portions and roll out on a lightly floured cutting board to 1/3-inch thick. Dip cookie cutters in flour before cutting out desired shapes. Gently transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, watching closely to ensure they only slightly begin to brown. Let cool on baking sheet for a couple minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before decorating.

To decorate, we just mixed up a simple powdered sugar glaze and tinted it various colors. For more elaborate designs, use royal icing.

Notes: The recipe calls for 6-inch gingerbread men and 12 minute cooking time. With more standard 3-inch cookies, you’ll need much less time. I did not have cloves or allspice, so I omitted the cloves and used nutmeg in place of allspice.

Baked Explorations with Kids (and Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins)

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

We had a spell of grey, rainy weather when we returned from Florida, which made me want to hunker down in the kitchen and do some serious baking. It was perfect timing to receive a review copy of Baked Explorations, the newest cookbook from famed Brooklyn bakers Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Its gorgeous pictures and simple recipes for classic American treats with a modern spin had the whole family pouring over the pages trying to decide what we wanted to sample first. From black and white cookies to caramel apple cake, there doesn’t appear to be a lackluster recipe in the bunch. (Well, there is one weird one that calls for tomato soup, but we’ll let that one slide.) But the recipe that made my heart flutter was for Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins. The sidebar note extolling the virtues of Vermont raw milk cheddars didn’t hurt, but it was the combination of my two favorite foods, pumpkin and cheese, that led me to believe I’d met my breakfast soulmate.

Indeed, this muffin is a little bit savory, full of pumpkin flavor and the very essence of fall. If, like me, you like pumpkin-flavored fall treats that actually taste like pumpkin, not just overly-sweet cinnamon-spiced concoctions (ahem, Starbucks pumpkin spice latte), you’ll love these muffins. Especially if you use fresh roasted pumpkin puree. I made cinnamon-sugar roasted pumpkin seeds to use on top, and used extra sharp Cabot cheddar (from Vermont).

The only other change I made to the recipe was to use just 1 teaspoon black pepper instead of the 1 1/2 it called for. My pepper mill produces too coarse a grind and I was afraid of biting into a chunk of pepper. The muffins have a slight bite but not so much so that littler taste buds won’t still enjoy them. I did have to tell a little white lie to get the boy to eat them, however. He suddenly declared he didn’t like pumpkin, but asked what flavor the leaf-shaped muffins were. (I baked half the muffins in a pumpkin and leaf muffin pan I have.)  I said they were oak, and he declared, “I love oak! Oak is my favorite flavor!” before digging in. Sometimes food-phobias really can be overcome with a simple change of semantics.

Whatever you call these muffins in your home, I’m sure you’ll enjoy them. And take a look at the rest of the book if you’re looking for some new sweet treats to bake with your kids on rainy days.

Recipe: Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins

Source: Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups (about 4 ounces) grated sharp cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, optional

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and sour cream. Add the eggs and butter and whisk until combined.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and brown sugar. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and fold until just combined. Fold in three-quarters of the cheese.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the pumpkin sees on top of the muffins. Bake them for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the muffin pan cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out the muffins. Serve them warm. Makes 12 muffins.

Review Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this cookbook. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are strictly those of myself and my family. Read my full review policy here.

Kooky Spooky Halloween Party Treats

Friday, October 29th, 2010

What do you get when you combine four 4-year-olds, Halloween costumes, and make-your-own popcorn ball Jack o’Lanterns? Sweet, sticky fun! With a small dash of chaos. ;-)

Kids Halloween Luncheon Menu

  • nuts & dried cranberries
  • “Goblins” on a Log
  • Monster (Carrot) Fingers
  • “Pumpkin” Grilled Cheese
  • local Apple Cider

It was a beautiful day, but cooperation for organized games was a little lacking … we managed the pillow case race and one round of the “pumpkin walk” before the kids ran back inside to play.

The party centerpiece — White Chocolate Seckel Pear Ghosts — doubled as party favors, and we decorated popcorn ball Jack o’Lanterns before wrapping up with the boy’s favorite Halloween show: Word World’s “Kooky Spooky Halloween” (we <3 PBS Kids!). So much fun!

Recipe: Popcorn Balls

Ingredients:

  • a large bowl of plain, air-popped popcorn (about 8 cups)
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • pinch salt
  • to decorate: white chocolate candies, candy corn, gummy worms &/or licorice ropes.

Instructions: In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When completely melted, stir in salt and marshmallows, stirring to coat marshmallows with butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows are melted into a smooth liquid. Remove from heat. Pour melted marshmallow over popcorn, stirring with nonstick spray-coated wooden spoons until thoroughly combined. Oil hands, then grab a large handful and roll into a ball. Set on wax or parchment paper and let rest.

To make Jack o’Lanterns: Melt a small piece of white chocolate bark. Provide kids each a small assortment of candy (candy corn, gummy worms, etc.), a popsicle stick and a little bowl of melted white chocolate. Have them use the popsicle stick to apply the white chocolate “glue” and attach candies.

Makes 8 balls. Wrap uneaten balls in plastic wrap, but they’re best eaten the same day you make them. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!