Anna’s Guacamole

The night I found out I was preggo with Little numero dos, I ate an entire avocado. Maybe two.  It was a chilly December evening out at our friend’s ranch and for supper they served a gorgeous salad of avocados and tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  I seriously ate every slice of avocado on the platter.

So it should come as no surprise that this particular Little inherited a passion for avocados.  Since she was nine months old, she’s been eating them straight from the skin. Gratefully her siblings appreciate the green goodness too, and woe be the day that mama doesn’t have avocados in the fruit basket.

The avocado-loving-littlest is now eight.  For the last two years, the guacamole making responsibility has rested squarely on her shoulders.  In fact, she’s down-right territorial about her method and ingredients.  I’m honored she’s letting me share her tried and true guacamole recipe with you today.

All measurements are approximate because, like her mother, she just adds and tastes as she goes.  You should do the same!

Anna’s Guacamole

2 large avocados, preferably organic

1 lime

coarse sea salt (generous teaspoon or two)

cumin (several shakes, probably 1 tsp)

red onion (2-3 tablespoons, chopped)

cilantro (1 -2 tsps, chopped)

In a large bowl, scoop out avocados.  Add the juice of 1/2 lime (reserve the other half for garnish or additional juice if needed), salt, cumin, red onion, and cilantro.  With a wire whisk blend all ingredients together until well blended with large segments of avocado remaining.  Taste until perfected (or gone!).

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Strawberry Smoothie

We are big fans of smoothies at The Schell Cafe.  Smoothies are a quick and tasty way to get a good dose of fruit, protein, and vitamins into the Littles’ diet.  Going gluten and dairy free doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our smoothies! Here’s a remake of our favorite standby.  Guess what?!?!  It scored a unanimous four thumbs up!

I don’t really use a recipe for smoothies, so I guesstimated on amounts.  This yields enough for all four Littles to enjoy the smoothie for an after-school snack.  Sometimes I add or subtract ingredients based on what I have on hand.  If I’m making a breakfast smoothie I’ll add more.  The following is our favorite smoothie variation.  (OK, not really. We like a peanut butter & chocolate smoothie better, but it’s really a dessert and worthy of another post). Stay tuned.

Strawberry Smoothie

3/4 cup frozen strawberries

3/4 cup milk (we used vanilla Almond Milk)

1/4 cup orange juice

1 scoop protein powder (we use Whole Foods 365 Vanilla Whey) ***

1/4 – 1/2 cup yogurt (we use So Delicious Coconut Milk Strawberry)

Blend all ingredients. Pour into individual glasses and enjoy! The Littles claim the smoothie is best consumed through a brightly colored straw.

What’s your favorite smoothie combination?

*** This protein powder contains milk.  I still have 2 containers of this protein powder and plan on using them before switching to egg white protein powder.

Shrove Tuesday: A Pancake Feast!

ORIGINALLY POSTED: February 24, 2009

Ahhh…Mardi Gras.  Here you are again.  I knew it was coming when beads started popping up on the store aisles last week and king cakes were positioned front and center at the bakeries.  Needless to say there will be lots of revelry taking place tonight as the world seems to embrace this now secular mini-holiday.

We’ll be preparing our hearts for the Lenten season tonight with Mardi Gras’ lesser known cousin, Shrove Tuesday.  I’m going to share with you a letter that our amazing kindergarten teacher sent home explaining how the children will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday today.  Her words are far better than mine and I’m certainly not a believer in recreating the wheel:

We will be spending a bit more time than normal on “Chapel” topics this week since this is the beginning of Lent.  The day before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday.  The word “Shrove” comes from an ancient word “shriving” which, means “confession.”  On Shrove Tuesday, we confess our sins and prepare our hearts for the beginning of Lent.  On Shrove Tuesday, we prepare our homes for Lent as well.  In some traditions and families, Lent is a time of strict fasting – a time when no meat, eggs or sweets are eaten.  During ancient times, families would cook cakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up those things that were “forbidden” during Lent and that would not last until the Easter celebrations begin.  Eggs, butter, and sugar syrup were on the list of things that needed to be used up.  Thus, the tradition of serving pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up (not waste) certain foods began.  We will cook pancakes during lunch time on Tuesday.  Please send in “sides” for your child to have WITH his/her pancakes…or pack a regular lunch if your child would prefer not to have pancakes for lunch.

Another fun part of our Shrove Tuesday celebration is having pancake races.  The pancake races come from a legend that long ago, in England, a woman was cooking pancakes for her family when she heard the church bell ring telling her that worship was beginning.  Afraid of being late, she took off running down the street wearing her apron and carrying her frying pan with the pancake still in it!  In many places today, pancake races are a SERIOUS tradition.  We’ll have our own, NOT SO SERIOUS, races Tuesday.  It will be lots of fun.

Sweet  Littlest Middlest went to school today, but she is smack dab in the middle of a 24 hour food allergy test and won’t be able to share in the pancake feast with her friends.  Her allergy test ends at 4pm today so I asked her to help me plan our own Pancake Feast for this evening.  We’ll start with Grandma’s Hot Cake recipe and then add special toppings.  Each of the Littles picked their special topping and guess what they came up with — marshmallows, frosting and sprinkles, strawberries and jelly beans.  Hmmm…I’m not sure how this will help prepare our hearts, but our bellies will clearly be up for a fast!

Look how they are passing right over those strawberries!

Here is Grandma Schell’s Hot Cake recipe in case you want to join in on the Shrove Tuesday tradition.

Hot Cakes (Her recipe also titles them Griddlecakes)

1 1/4 c sifted all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk (She uses buttermilk)

3 Tbs melted butter.

Mix dry ingredients; mix egg, milk and butter. Combine wet and dry mixes together.  Pour onto hot griddle.  Makes about 12 cakes.

Valentine Mice

If you have your own Littles running around the house, this Valentine’s Day treat will surely bring smiles to your house too.  These adorable, edible strawberry mice are a healthy and fun alternative to balance out all the chocolate and candy the Littles will end up scarfing at Valentine’s Day parties this week.

Valentine’s Day Mice

fresh strawberries

mini chocolate chips

sliced almonds

licorice pieces

Wash and hull the strawberries.  I sliced off the bottoms so they will lay nice and flat.  I put all the ingredients out on the table and let the Littles go to town making mice using the mini chocolate chips for the eyes and nose, the almonds for ears, and the licorice pieces for tails.

These fun Valentine’s Day treats have always been the hit of the party at The Schell Cafe.  I hope your Littles will enjoy them too!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Kristin

Shrove Tuesday: A Pancake Feast!

shrovetops

Ahhh…Mardi Gras.  Here you are again.  I knew it was coming when beads started popping up on the store aisles last week and king cakes were positioned front and center at the bakeries.  Needless to say there will be lots of revelry taking place tonight as the world seems to embrace this now secular mini-holiday.

We’ll be preparing our hearts for the Lenten season tonight with Mardi Gras’ lesser known cousin, Shrove Tuesday.  I’m going to share with you a letter that our amazing kindergarten teacher sent home explaining how the children will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday today.  Her words are far better than mine and I’m certainly not a believer in recreating the wheel:

We will be spending a bit more time than normal on “Chapel” topics this week since this is the beginning of Lent. The day before Ash Wednesday is known as Shrove Tuesday. The word “Shrove” comes from an ancient word “shriving” which, means “confession.” On Shrove Tuesday, we confess our sins and prepare our hearts for the beginning of Lent. On Shrove Tuesday, we prepare our homes for Lent as well. In some traditions and families, Lent is a time of strict fasting – a time when no meat, eggs or sweets are eaten. During ancient times, families would cook cakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up those things that were “forbidden” during Lent and that would not last until the Easter celebrations begin. Eggs, butter, and sugar syrup were on the list of things that needed to be used up. Thus, the tradition of serving pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up (not waste) certain foods began. We will cook pancakes during lunch time on Tuesday. Please send in “sides” for your child to have WITH his/her pancakes…or pack a regular lunch if your child would prefer not to have pancakes for lunch.

Another fun part of our Shrove Tuesday celebration is having pancake races. The pancake races come from a legend that long ago, in England, a woman was cooking pancakes for her family when she heard the church bell ring telling her that worship was beginning. Afraid of being late, she took off running down the street wearing her apron and carrying her frying pan with the pancake still in it! In many places today, pancake races are a SERIOUS tradition. We’ll have our own, NOT SO SERIOUS, races Tuesday. It will be lots of fun.

Sweet  Littlest Middlest went to school today, but she is smack dab in the middle of a 24 hour food allergy test and won’t be able to share in the pancake feast with her friends.  Her allergy test ends at 4pm today so I asked her to help me plan our own Pancake Feast for this evening.  We’ll start with Grandma’s Hot Cake recipe and then add special toppings.  Each of the Littles picked their special topping and guess what they came up with — marshmallows, frosting and sprinkles, strawberries and jelly beans.  Hmmm…I’m not sure how this will help prepare our hearts, but our bellies will clearly be up for a fast!

shrovetopjelly1

Look how they are passing right over those strawberries!

Here is Grandma Schell’s Hot Cake recipe in case you want to join in on the Shrove Tuesday tradition.

Hot Cakes (Her recipe also titles them Griddlecakes)

1 1/4 c sifted all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1 egg

3/4 cup milk (She uses buttermilk)

3 Tbs melted butter.

Mix dry ingredients; mix egg, milk and butter. Combine wet and dry mixes together.  Pour onto hot griddle.  Makes about 12 cakes.

Simple Homemade Granola

granolabowl

How about starting your day with this simple homemade granola?! The Littles sure did enjoy it this morning.  We found the recipe in Chef Bobo’s Good Food Cookbook and followed the simple instructions.  The Littles love it plain with flavors of maple and vanilla starring front and center.  Of course, I’ve already dreamed up several variations for the next few batches.

Why buy over processed cereal when you can make this simple granola? There is no excess or wasteful packaging, you know exactly what ingredients the granola contains and it tastes so much better. The Littles can’t decide if they like it served with milk and fruit for breakfast or sprinkled over yogurt  and drizzled with agave nectar for snack.  And judging from the empty cereal bowl I found in the sink this morning, Husband thinks its pretty good too.   Try it, you’ll like it.

Maple Vanilla Granola

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats ***

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1 Tbs vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl mix the oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.

granolaingredients

In another small bowl, mix the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla.  Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and mix with your hands until well combined.  This is messy!

Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

granolapan

Cool completely then crumble granola into big chunks and small bits.  Store in an airtight container.

Thank you Chef Bobo! We love you and this granola.

*** Gluten-Free Update: We make this staple at The Schell Cafe with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats

Kids Cook Night: The Best Red Sauce Ever

Here’s a sauce that is so simple it seems incomplete.  Wait until you taste it.  The kids love to help make this sauce.  And by help I mean dumping the can of tomatoes in the pot and dropping in the onions.

Try this sauce on any kind of noodles, spooned over meatballs and even roasted chicken.  I’ve served it with parmesan chicken and as a dipping sauce for cheese sticks. It’s divine served family style with polenta.  And did I mention how simple it is???  Oh you’ll be tempted to add a dash of this or a hint of that.  I was.  I tried adding  herbs, both fresh and dried, and experimented with garlic, parmesan cheese and spices.  But leave it simple,  you won’t miss a thing.  I promise.

Simple Red Sauce

1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

4 Tbs butter

1 onion, quartered

Add all ingredients to sauce pan and simmer over medium heat until the tomatoes break apart and the onions are translucent (about 20 – 30 minutes).  My kids like the onions removed from the sauce before serving and I am happy to oblige this request.  I remove the perfectly seasoned onions and pop them right in my mouth.

I would have taken a photo to show you this yummy sauce, but that would have added a step to this ridiculously simple recipe.

Oh and I always, always double the recipe.  You’ll find lots of uses for the left overs during the week.  Tell me what you do with this sauce so I can try too.