Tag Archives: recipes

My Mom’s Holiday Rolls

rolls image My Moms Holiday RollsThis year we’re doing our second visit to Kim’s place for Thanksgiving. And as my gift to her, and the rest of you, I’ve received permission from my favorite cook to share her Oatmeal Dinner Roll recipe. My Mom tends to test several different versions of the same thing until she finds the absolute perfect one. This recipe has been a solid favorite in our house for the last decade or so. Mom likes them because they’re easy and everyone eats them. She assures me that even if you haven’t made rolls you can make these, though she cautions new cooks to read the recipe through first, you have one step that needs to happen about an hour before you start.

Happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Day Off Work Everyone!

My Mom's Oatmeal Dinner Rolls
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2 cups water
1 cup old fashioned oats
3 tbsp butter
2 (1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; stir in oats and butter. Boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat; let cool to 110 degrees. Stir together yeast, warm water, sugar in a 2-cup measuring cup; let stand five minutes.
Beat oat mixture, yeast mixture, flour, salt and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down and divide in half; shape each portion into 16 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place evenly into 2 lightly greased 9 x 1 3/4-inch round cake pans.
Cover and let rise in a warm place 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Mom recommends you put butter on your fingers when breaking up the dough into balls. You can add a little flour if it's sticky, but too much may dry them out.
Plan to start the oats an hour before you continue.
Don't Mind the Mess http://dontmindthemess.com/

Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming Tsai

sponsored post image Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming TsaiSo last week I headed out to Natick with the kiddos to see Chef Ming Tsai do some cooking and demonstrate some of his recipes. Graham was pretty pumped. I don’t think it’s come up, but for the last few weeks Graham has often requested to be addressed as “Chef Graham Bam” after he was bestowed the nickname by one of his babysitters. 

affiliate links pic Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming TsaiTo get fully in the mood, Graham wore his chef’s hat, even if it wasn’t quite correctly branded.

 Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming Tsai

He wasn’t in the mood to pose for pictures. Sometimes he gets bored of the Mom Paparazzi. 

You can tell Chef Ming has a TV show. He definitely knows how to talk his way through his work. He’s definitely a charmer and shared lots of cooking secrets.

He focused on 3 recipes from his new cookbook that are kid-friendly, including ice cream sandwiches made with Almond Oatmeal Cookies and Chicken-Onion Meatloaf with Sambal-Worcestershire Gravy. 

My favorite was the Quinoa and Tomato Soup, easy to sell to kids who will eat tomato sauce on pasta, quinoa to make it a little hearty, and little touches that work great for adults (sprinkle parmesan on top) that can be skipped for skeptical kids. 

 Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming Tsai

These recipes are all in his cookbook Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy Quinoa and Tomato Soup from Chef Ming Tsai which also includes QR codes you can scan to get videos of Ming demonstrating techniques for the recipes.

And here’s a special treat: the recipe for Quinoa and Tomato Soup, my fave of the night. It’s also a way to get your kids to try quinoa if it’s been unsuccessful before. With it hiding in the soup they won’t be staring at it on their plate, asking you what it is.

Quinoa and Tomato Soup
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3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
Two 28-oz cans whole plum tomatoes
2 quarts chicken stock
1/4 c. wheat-free tamari
1 c. quinoa, rinsed
parmesan for garnish
kosher salt
coarsely ground black pepper
Heat a medium stock pot or soup pot over high heat. Add 2 tbsp of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, add the onions, ginger, carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and saute, stirring every few minutes, until the vegetables are lightly caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their juice. Break them up and add the stock and tamari. Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
With an immersion blender, puree the soup. Add the quinoa, bring to a simmer, and cook until the quinoa is just tender, about 12 minutes.
Transfer the soup to individual bowls, grate parmesan over each, drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Add a few grinds of pepper and serve.
Adapted from Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy
Adapted from Simply Ming in Your Kitchen: 80 Recipes to Watch, Learn, Cook & Enjoy
Don't Mind the Mess http://dontmindthemess.com/
Thanks to the Everywhere Society for sponsoring this post.

Kid-Friendly Recipe: Rainbow Rice

So technically this is Jambalaya, but since we wanted Graham to eat it we called it “Rainbow Rice.”

Remember all those peppers we used for his rainbow lunches this week? It was a pretty big success so we tried to see if we could expand his dinnertime repertoire by tying in the rainbow peppers. (And if you haven’t entered my Rainbow Giveaway, you need to head on over there right now!)

rainbow rice Kid Friendly Recipe: Rainbow Rice

We normally use a spicy Jalapeno sausage but this time we tapped down the spice and kept the recipe really simple so I could throw it together quickly. (I MADE DINNER. SHOCKING.)

I was hoping that I could call the sausage “hot dogs” and get Graham on board, but his skepticism of meat continues. But he did eat his entire bowl of sausage-free Rainbow Rice.


rainbow rice Kid Friendly Recipe: Rainbow Rice
Rainbow Rice
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4 sweet peppers in a rainbow of colors, chopped into bite size pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 c. rice
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
Combine all ingredients except sausage in a nonstick saucepan. Heat on medium-high until boiling. Add sausage, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed during cooking.
You can add celery and onion, too for extra veggie power.
We like using pre-cooked chicken or turkey sausage. The hotter the spices on the sausage, the hotter the rice.
For adults, feel free to add cajun seasoning for flavor.
Adapted from Turkey Jambalaya
Adapted from Turkey Jambalaya
Don't Mind the Mess http://dontmindthemess.com/
This was a pretty successful dinner in our house. Graham was reluctant but eventually ate all of his and there was some leftovers for the next day. You have a lot of room to wiggle in this recipe when it comes to spice so adjust accordingly.

Cocktail Hour with Heart of Haiti

Sometimes being a blogger is really hard work. And sometimes, well sometimes you just kick back, sip your cocktail and think that you have it pretty good.

This is a post where two things I love come together beautifully.

IMG 6691 e1363045436147 Cocktail Hour with Heart of Haiti

Don’t just look at the gorgeous drink. Don’t you love that tray? It’s part of a set.

It’s a part of one of my favorite lines: the Heart of Haiti artisan series at Macy’s.

heart of haiti collage Cocktail Hour with Heart of Haiti

(Oh, and hey, whaddya know, they’re on sale right now for $29.99!)

But they weren’t just going to send me the trays to look at and take pretty pictures. They said, “Oh, and by the way, how about you make some cocktails?”

You don’t have to ask me twice.

I chose to make the Goslings Ginger Ale Cocktail by chef Ming Tsai not realizing that it was not just throwing some stuff in a glass. This was an intense recipe. And it ended up being kismet that at the last minute I got together with my friend Kathy to put these together.

Kathy is the kind of person who looked at this recipe and said, “Making my own candied ginger??? Yes, please!” I’m so glad I have her in my life. Because I am not the girl who makes her own ginger syrup. Kathy is the girl who makes it and then sends you home with extra.

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We used Kraken Rum instead of Goslings, as you can see. Because, well, it’s KRAKEN RUM. (And that’s what Kathy had.)

So I didn’t really know what to expect with this cocktail. I’ve had the ginger ale everyone has, that doesn’t actually have *ginger* in it. I’ve definitely never had homemade ginger ale.

Then there were the mixers. Ginger, rum, lime and… orange juice? This seemed sketchy but we followed the recipe right on. Kathy even made some lovely lines of lime zest for garnish to keep the candied ginger company.

IMG 6711 e1363048697583 Cocktail Hour with Heart of Haiti

The moment of truth came. We took a sip and… well, it wasn’t what I expected. It was fantastic.

Light, sweet, sharp. Somehow all the flavors came together to taste like something totally different than the individual ingredients. It may sound strange, but it kind of tasted like cream soda. Like the best cream soda ever.

As a thank you to my fantastic partner in cocktail-making (let’s be honest, she did the work) I left her with these lovely trays. She will make great use of them, I’m sure. And someday when I don’t have tiny children in my house I will do some serious entertaining myself…

This post is sponsored by the Everywhere Society. I was compensated with these trays which made a great gift to pass on to my fantastic hostess and partner in crime.

Thank you to Kathy Day for the first and last pics. They are super lovely.

Mac & Cheese Kit Review

Making for-real super-cheesy macaroni and cheese is one of those things that I would do all the time if I lived the life I imagine in my head. I am a cheese addict and a carb addict so it’s basically one of my favorite things. And yet I never really get around to actually doing it. I don’t think I’ve made REAL mac & cheese since I was living alone.

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Full disclosure: not my picture. The light in my kitchen sucks.
Image by stevendepolo

Given that I have two hungry kiddos who enjoy cheese (this is new for Graham and I’m super pumped about it) I was happy to review a Mac & Cheese Kit from Smith’s Country Cheese here in Massachusetts.

A local dairy that makes their own cheese and has a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint. Yes, folks, you are in New England. Love it.

I really want to be better about eating more local food, supporting small businesses and buying less processed food, so getting cheese from a local dairy is a triple-threat. (Maybe it will offset a little bit of my warehouse-club-membership…)

Even better, this is a Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese recipe that has Smith’s Cheddar and Smoked Gouda. You will still have to make your sauce (roux & cheese on the stovetop) but I like a recipe I can make in the middle of the day and have hot and ready when everyone’s home from work and school without having to manage cooking and the crazy-that-is-our-house-at-6pm simultaneously. While you will have to make a sauce, it’s pretty simple as long as you’ve got all your ingredients ready to go before you start.

So what did we think?

Graham, as I’d feared, was unconvinced that putting cheese & pasta together was a good idea, even though he enjoys them separately. Someday he’ll kick himself for depriving himself of homemade mac & cheese.

But the rest of us gobbled it down and Tessa and I ate the leftovers for days. (The recipe makes a LOT. You’ve got a pound of cheese AND a pound of pasta.) I love Smoked Gouda, but I’d never used it in Mac & Cheese before and I liked the flavor it added. The cheese isn’t so fancy your kids will be turned off (like they would with something like gruyere) and the mix is half cheddar. So it’s a nice mix of adult and kid palates coming together.

My only complaints are (1) I’d love to see a company committed to local food and such provide a locally sourced pasta, since the one in our kit was a brand we could get at the grocery store; and (2) I think the price is on the high side. I’d recommend ordering the cheeses on their own and getting the recipe online to save a little cash.

If you don’t want to order online, you can find Smith’s Cheese at a bunch of Massachusetts locations (including Whole Foods and several farmers markets).

A Perfect Summer Treat

I’ve had this idea for ages. I wanted to do it for Graham’s birthday last year but never got around to it.

But this year, especially with help from my mom and sister, we pulled it off.

Birthday cakes tend to be too heavy, too rich and too loaded with sugar for my taste. And since Graham’s birthday is smack dab in the middle of the hot summer, I’d rather have something cool, light and a little tart.

So we made Summer Fruit Cakes.

cakes3 A Perfect Summer Treat

These are surprisingly easy to make and not at all expensive. If you have a crowd on the smaller side you can do it with one small seedless watermelon.

cakes collage 2 A Perfect Summer Treat

We started with a seedless watermelon, cut it in half, and set out to remove the rind. When I say “we” I mostly mean my Mom, who took on the task with her usual tenacity and expertise. She took care of the rind by taking her knife around the inside of the rind and then cutting out triangles.

cakes collage 3 1024x341 A Perfect Summer Treat

With the little bit of rind on top, we cut a clean slice across.

From here, we cut the melon into several slices straight across. If you’d rather, you could easily cut it in half first to make this easier.

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Mom pulled out a very long knife for this job. She did pretty well getting nice even slices.

Next we enlisted the help of these Williams-Sonoma biscuit cutters.

IMG 2857 300x225 A Perfect Summer Treat

Also note the wax paper we laid out on the counter to keep this from getting too messy. Watermelon is a lot juicier than you realize.

Once you hit this point, the hardest part is all done. Smooth sailing from here on out. Just start cutting out cute little circles of watermelon.

cakes collage 4 1024x341 A Perfect Summer Treat

If you look closely, you’ll see that we played a little bit towards the end and made some heart-shaped melons.

There’s only two more ingredients: Whipped cream and blueberries. To keep our lives easy, we just used the whipped cream that comes in a can.

For the bottom layer of your cake, use a slightly thicker slice of melon. Then cover it with a small layer of cream. We did our fair share of experimenting and while you can just lay the berries on top of the fizzy cream, I liked the look of it better when I used a spoon or spatula to smooth the cream out.

IMG 2906 300x225 A Perfect Summer Treat

Add a layer of blueberries, pressing them lightly into the cream. Then just add another slice of melon (slightly thinner) on top.

For Graham I added 3 little blobs of cream on top with 3 little berries in them to celebrate his 3rd birthday.

IMG 2900 300x225 A Perfect Summer Treat

The kids didn’t care much if theirs were pretty. They highly enjoyed demolishing them.

cakes collage 5 1024x341 A Perfect Summer TreatA fun treat for the kids. Graham was over the moon having his very favorite things all together in his “birthday cake.’

Fear not, you don’t have to be messy to eat these delicious cakes.

cakes collage 6 1024x512 A Perfect Summer Treat

Yeah, there’s some juice. But this IS watermelon. Nothing a little plate can’t handle. These aren’t good finger foods, but they’re perfect for a light summer snack or dessert.

Honestly, I had this idea mostly to make something I knew the Bug would love. But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I’m not even a big blueberry lover, but it was a great counterpoint to the mellow melon and the cream.

If you’re going to be cutting up a watermelon, this is just a little extra effort to make a super cool treat.

cakes3 202x300 A Perfect Summer Treat