Yan Yan

Yan Yan is a Japanese snack that my kids love. I grew up eating Handi Snacks. They will have fond memories of Yan Yan.

We don’t make it to the Asian grocery very often, so Yan Yans are a special treat. I like that they aren’t at our regular grocery store so that I don’t have to deflect requests/begging every time I take the kids to buy a carton of milk.

There are no nutritionally redeeming qualities here. In fact, the ingredient list is quite frightening. But, the packaging is genius. And I’m trying to chill out a bit and am allowing some pre-planned trash into our diet occasionally.

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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Stone Fruit Salsa

Even though I’ve been eating peaches, plums and nectarines for what seems like weeks on end, I couldn’t stop eating this salsa. If only I could sneak a little jalapeno into the mix, it would be stellar.

My youngest tentatively snacked on this dip even though she saw me nonchalantly cutting up the yellow tomatoes. She is (currently) not a tomato fan. It was either a moment of genius on my part or dumb luck that she even tried it; most likely the latter.

1 medium ripe plum, pitted and chopped
1 medium ripe peach, pitted and chopped
1 medium ripe nectarine, pitted and chopped
1 medium yellow tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped purple onion (optional)
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1/2 lime)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a small bowl, mix together the plum, peach, nectarine, and tomato. Add the cilantro, onion, lime juice and salt and stir until they are well distributed. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Pie for Breakfast! (Granola Tart Shells)

These tart shells are super easy to throw together and there is no rolling out of the dough. They take as much time and effort as throwing together a batch of cookies. I still love cookies, but these are a delightful and healthier alternative that can serve as a breakfast treat, snack, or dessert.

Whenever any kind of fresh raw fruit is piled into tart shells, the kids are completely on board. My favorite way to fill it up so far is with fresh chopped peaches, strained yogurt, and honey. Add a dash of cinnamon on top if you dare.

The only warning I should give is that it isn’t the easiest crust to cut up. It’s on the hard and crumbly side. So, don’t hate me if the kids (or grown-ups) make a mess.

1/2 cup white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups oats & honey granola (I use store-bought)
3/4 cups walnut pieces
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the flour, granola, walnuts, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Run the food processor for approximately 30 seconds or until the mixture resembles large crumbs. Drizzle the honey through the feed tube of the food processor and incorporate for a five seconds. Then pour the melted and butter and coconut oil through the feed tube with the machine running and process until the mixture starts to come together.

Take one large golf ball-sized portion of dough at a time and press it gently into a 4-inch round tart pan with removable bottoms until it covers the bottom and sides of the pan.  You should have enough dough to make 8 shells. Place the filled tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Place baked shells on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. To serve, remove gently from tart pan by popping up the removeable bottom. The shells may be stored in the pans in an airtight container for up to two days.

Yield: 8 4-inch tart shells
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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Peachy Shaved Ice

I recently picked up 8 quarts of hail-damaged peaches that needed to be dealt with in a hurry. I decided it was time to squeeze one last frozen treat into our summer and make some granita. The Nectarine Granita recipe in David Lebowitz’s The Perfect Scoop served as my guide.

While it does need to freeze overnight, this is a relatively low maintenance and healthy frozen treat that does not require an ice cream maker. The only real pain was making room in my freezer. And the kids love it.

6 large ripe peaches (2 pounds)
1 cup water
1/4 – 1/3 cup honey (depending on preference and sweetness of fruit)
Tiny pinch salt

Wash, peel, and pit the peaches. I have a vegetable peeler that has little teeth on it that does the trick.* Place the pitted peaches and water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until the fruit is soft.  Remove from heat and stir in the honey and salt.

Allow the peach mixture to cool. Transfer the mixture to a blender to puree or use a hand/immersion blender. When the mixture is smooth, pour it into a 8 x12-inch (or thereabouts) baking pan. Cover with with plastic wrap and place on a level surface in your freezer.

In a couple hours, peel back the plastic wrap and check on the peach mixture by giving it a stir from the outside in. Check it one or two more times through the course of the day moving the frozen edges into the center while stirring.

Eventually, the mixture will freeze solid. It always seems to need to sit overnight for me. But maybe your freezer will work faster than mine. When it is solid and you are ready to serve, simply scrape it with a fork until you have enough fluffy frozen goodness to fill your bowl. Return the remainder to the freezer covered with plastic wrap.

Yield: maybe 6 cups
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Freeze-time: overnight

*Note: If your peeler doesn’t cooperate, I’ve heard you can dunk peaches in boiling water for a minute, run them under cold water, and then the peel will come off easily.

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Homemade Blueberry Fruit Leather

Who wants to place a bet on how soon my kids are going to get a cavity? I can’t stop making dried fruit purees this year and it is going to be my downfall.

Well, que sera sera. Frankly, not a bad way to go.

Dehydrated fruit purees I’ve posted about already such as the Strawberry Roll Ups and the Polka Dot Roll Ups contain very small amounts, if any, added sugar. For this reason, they are thinner and a little more brittle than traditional fruit leather. When fruit puree is loaded up with sugar the finished product is thicker and more flexible.

Turns out it doesn’t take gobs of honey to make thick fruit leather, just a 1/4 cup is necessary for this recipe. It’s not super sweet like grocery store fruit leather. I think it’s just right. 

1 pint fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup honey
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Heat the blueberries and water in a medium saucepan over med high heat until it comes to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium low so that the mixture is at a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove saucepan from heat and add the honey, applesauce, and lemon juice. Puree the mixture with a hand/immersion or regular blender until smooth.

Prepare a 15 x15-inch dehydrator tray with a lightly greased liner. Pour the blueberry mixture onto the middle of the lined tray and spread it out evenly with a large offset spatula or a spoon until it is 1/3-inch thick. It should be an approximately 12 x 12-inch square. Having the outside edges thicker is fine as they tend to dry more quickly.

Insert the tray into the dehydrator and set the temperature to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Run the dehydrator for 8 to 10 hours. The finished fruit leather may have a couple sticky spots on the surface, but for the most part it should be dried yet pliable.

Remove the fruit leather from the tray. Cut with a knife or scissors into individual servings. Wrap pieces in wax paper. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 10 pieces
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Drying-time: 8 – 10 hours

Web morsels

What Should You Do With a Ravenous Kid? by Frank Bruni at The Atlantic via Food News Journal.

Nutrition Lab: Stick with real fruit (i.e. Fruit Leather is evil.) from the LA Times via Healthy Child Healthy World.

How to handle negative peer (food) pressure kids get at school by Maryann at Meal Planning Magic.

Why You Should Stop Drinking Bottled Water from Accidental Hedonist.