Fudge Pops

These beautiful little fudge pops are the world’s most perfect way to consume chocolate on a hot summer day. The girls and I love love love them. They are like eating a popscile and a big bowl of chocolate pudding all rolled into one.

Fudge Pop Recipe

This recipe is heavily inspired by (read pretty much lifted from) Matt Aramendariz’s On A Stick!

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, chocolate, and 1/4 cup of the milk until the chocolate is melted.

2. Add the rest of the milk and continue to stir until the mixture thickens (about 5-10 minutes).

3. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two. Add the vanilla and butter and stir well.

4. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds (use as directed) or small (5-ounce) wax-coated cups. If you’re using cups, fill 3/4 of the way and cover the top with plastic wrap. Puncture the plastic wrap with a popsicle stick and insert the stick into the chocolate mixture all the way down to the bottom of the cup. Place on a level surface in your freezer for four hours or overnight.

5. To serve, simply tear and peel the cup off of the pop. If you’re using popsicle molds, run them under warm water for a bit in order to loosen the mold.

Yield: 4 – 5 pops
Prep-time: 15 minutes (and another 4 hours in the freezer)

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Mini BLTs

Most of my family is engaged in a love affair with the fresh summer, vine-ripened, field-grown tomato right now. Even our youngest has decided she might actually like the taste of home-grown grape tomatoes picked fresh out of our garden, which is pretty major. 

Mini BLTs Recipe

Heavy duty toothpicks or cocktail forks come in handy with this snack. Once you cut the sandwiches into quarters, they tend to fall apart without them.

Mayonaisse is an essential component in this recipe. Embrace the mayonaisse. Also embrace the white bread. Of course this sandwich would still be delicious if you went light on the mayonaisse and used whole grain bread. Make it your own and I’ll try my best to keep quite.

8 slices white bread, toasted to a golden brown
Mayonaisse, to taste
8 – 10 slices cooked bacon
1 large ripe tomato, preferrably heirloom, sliced
4 leaves of bibb or romaine lettuce, rinsed and dried

Lay out your bread slices on a clean counter or cutting board. Slather the top and bottom slices for each sandwich with mayonaisse. Layer on the tomato, bacon, and then the lettuce. Each sandwich gets 1 1/2 to 2 slices of bacon. Top with another slice of bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters (preferably triangles). Spear with a large toothpick or cocktail fork. Serve.

Yield: 16 mini sandwiches
Prep-time: 10 minutes (not counting cooking the bacon and toasting bread)

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Grilled Bruschetta

My approach to bruschetta is one I made up a while ago without referring to anything or anyone. I figure I’ve read enough cookbooks that I should know how to make bruschetta with my eyes closed. Feel free to educate me in the comments if I’m commiting some bruschetta sin of the highest order.

Grilled Bruschetta Recipe

Feel free to mix it up based on whatever abundance of summer produce you have on hand.  The kids love to “paint” the olive oil onto the bread prior to grilling.

For the bread:
1 large loaf of rustic crusty white bread
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the tomatoes:
16 grape tomatoes
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, chopped
Pinch kosher salt

For the summer squash:
2 to 3 yellow summer squash and/or zucchini
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
Goat or feta cheese, for garnish

1. Fire up your outdoor grill to medium heat. Somewhere around 400 degrees Farienhight is nice.

2. Slice the loaf into 1/2 inch slices. Combine the olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl. With a pastry brush, coat one side of each slice liberally with the olive oil mixture. Set aside.

3. Cut off the ends of the summer squash/zucchini. Slice them lengthwise to 1/4 – inch thickness. Spread the slices out on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Place the prepared squash, tomatoes, and bread on the grill. Watch the bread closely and flip it once grill marks appear and is starting to brown. Flip the vegetables when grill marks start to appear. Remove from heat and allow the vegetables to cool slightly.

5. To assemble, cut the bread slices in half, if they are large. Spread the bread out on a large serving plate in a single layer. Chop the tomatoes and mix them with the basil. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Next, chop the grilled summer squash and mix with the thyme and parsley along with pinches of salt and pepper. Heap the vegetables onto the prepared bread slices. Garnish with goat or feta cheese, if desired. Devour immediately.

Yield: 16
Prep-time: 25 minutes

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Black Raspberry Rockets

I used to think that raspberry rockets was the best snack I’d ever thought of. But now there’s a new kid in town… and she’s knocking my socks off.

My new life goal is to find some super high-quality white chocolate to use for this snack. The waxy aftertaste I’m getting from the cheapo Nestle chips we’re using is getting in the way of an otherwise perfect culinary moment.

In other news, we still don’t have anything resembling an Internet connection. We’re getting closer, but still not there yet.

Chicken update: 10 weeks old

 

I’m very happy to report that the chickens are still among the living. Sometime in the past couple weeks they passed from the realm of baby to full-fledged chickendom.  While I occasionally found myself wishing they had an older chicken to show them the ropes, they are adjusting well to life in their new home.

A couple of the chickens are actually friendly and the other four want nothing to do with us. My kids have been enjoying them a lot more since we opened the door to the coop and allowed them to roam in the hen yard. I never have to ask twice if they’d like to bring some table scraps out for the chickens to feast on.

I’m a really big fan of the chicken’s hind feathers. They are as soft as they look.

I’m also fascinated by their feet. Scared might be a better word than fascinated. Luckily, they appear to be completely unaware that they’re walking around on a set of potentail weapons.

If all continues to go well, the egg factory will swing into gear sometime in the middle of September.

Agave Limeaide

My new favorite web site is bussongs.com because it has given us the lyrics to On Top of Spaghetti. How great is it to finally have a kid old enough to memorize my all-time favorite childhood song? I think I’ve got our summer plans all shored up now. Lots of running around and lots of signing. Loudly.

Agave Limeaide Recipe

Ice cubes
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons agave nectar

Throw four or five ice cubes in an 8-ounce cup. Pour the lime juice and water over the ice cubes and then add the agave nectar. Stir vigorously until the agave nectar is dissolved. Serve.

Yield: 1 cup
Prep-time: 5 minutes

Sunshine Smoothie

One of my newest measures of snack recipe success is how messed up my four year-old daughter’s face gets when she eats. A good snack should leave behind some tell-tale signs of having been consumed with gusto.

Here we have Exhibit A which was the aftermath of our latest Sunshine Smoothie. Her face isn’t actually that messy. But the sprinkles on her chin make it a winner, non? The sprinkles were entirely her idea, by the way.

Sunshine Smoothie Recipe

1 fresh mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1 medium ripe banana, peeled
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup orange juice

Place all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve.

Yield: 3 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

Golden Raspberries

Eating fresh local raspberries this time of year feels like cheating. Raspberries taste like they should only be available at the height of summer. And yet Mother Nature (or is it farmers?) has been kind enough to give us one last taste with the late season berry crop.

I was recently lucky enough to stumble upon some golden raspberries from Sweet Wind Farm. I instantly fell in love with these show ponies of the berry world when I saw a post at Tender Crumb that featured them perfectly. Those little tarts make me smile.

When we got them home, after much deliberation, I finally settled on topping a bowl of mixed raspberries with a dollop of fresh whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup.

And it was perfect.

Fresh Edamame

Has everyone been snacking on edamame and keeping it secret from me?? Actually, now that I think about it I’ve seen it mentioned all over the place as a great snack. But I never thought I was crunchy or worldly enough to take to it, much less locate it at the grocery store.

Luckily, I took the plunge and finally tasted some at a restaurant a while ago. And then I spotted some at the farmer’s market.

All fresh edamame needs is a five minute steam over salty water. When they’re done,  run them under cold water for a couple minutes to cool them down and stop them from cooking further. Et voila!

Popping the beans out of their shells brings some fun to the table. But I also genuinely like the taste. They remind me of a firm pea, but not as sweet. My normally adventurous eater has recently decided she doesn’t like edamame. But the younger one loves them. I’ll take it.

Working a new food, especially a legume, into my family’s diet is a bit of a thrill for me. Such is the life I lead.

Dimply Plum Muffins

This recipe, adapted from Dorie Greenspan‘s Dimpled Plum Cake, is a new favorite chez nous. I’m still in awe of how well the plum works in this recipe. It is best to use plums that are ripe but still firm espiecally if you’d like some of the muffins to be edible the next day. Plums that were mushy to begin with tend to get ugly sitting overnight.

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1/4 salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (if you don’t have any, use ground cinnamon)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup canola or safflower oil
Zest of one lemon, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 small ripe plums, halved and pitted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a regular muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.

Cut the plums into two halves along the crease and remove the pits. Set aside. When I accidentally mutilate the plum trying to get the pit out, I just put it in the batter pit side down.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and cardamom. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the brown sugar. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the oil, lemon zest, and vanilla and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture and stir well.

Transfer a scant 1/4 cup of batter to each muffin cup in the prepared pan. Place one plum half into each cup pressing down slightly so that it is firmly nestled in the batter.

Bake on the center rack for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean. Rotate once during baking. Allow the muffins to cool for 2 minutes in the pan. Use a knife to gently dislodge the muffins and transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Serve once cool, paying special attention to the plums as they stay hotter longer.

Yield: 12 muffins
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Bake-time: 15 minutes

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