Black Forest Cupcakes

Black Forest Cupcakes with a biteIn honor of Germany’s recent World Cup win we made Black Forest Cupcakes.

Cheering on the German soccer team while staying in Uberlingen, Germany

Cheering on the German soccer team while staying in Uberlingen, Germany

Black Forest cake is the quintessential dessert of the southwest Germany home to Schwarzwald (yes, Black Forest in German). It’s known as the setting for many of the Brothers Grimm’s collected fairy tales with its rolling hills that dip into valley towns and farmland along with crystal-clear lakes. To sample some of the areas culinary sweets we visited the Alemannen Hof along the banks of Lake Titisee.

Alemannen Hof

The traditional Black Forest cake has a slim, spongy chocolate cake that’s enveloped by fresh, whipped cream that’s dotted with cherries that have been soaked in liquor. Since I don’t drink alcohol opted for a slice of thick, creamy fruit torte while my teen had the apple crumb cake and my youngest the apple strudel. Still, the flavors of dark cherries, chocolate, and whipped cream was one I wanted to play around with once I was back stateside. And with the German soccer team’s win it was the perfect excuse.

Black Forest Cake

German cakes tend to be drier than American confections so I made my cake batter moister but tried to pump up the cherry flavor by using both chopped dark Morello cherries and the juice from the cherry jar (available at Trader Joe’s) in both the cake and the frosting. I also made another addition – fruit vinegar. The combination of cherry juice and a dash of sourness from the vinegar in the frosting cuts the sweetness and gives the cupcakes a more complex, rich flavor.

Recipe

Servings: Make 24 regular-sized cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcake batter

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

2 tsps. baking soda

2 tsp. black cocoa powder (opt.)

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup unsweetened red grape juice, dark cherry juice (like Trader Joe’s Dark Morello Cherries), or hot coffee

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup dark morello cherries

1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Frosting

1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter, at room temperature

6 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup dark morello cherry juice

1/2 tsp. fruit vinegar (opt. like raspberry)

2 tbsp. finely chopped dark morello cherries

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

 

Directions

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line your muffin tins with paper muffin wrappers.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, black cocoa (if using), and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, use a blender to combine the vegetable oil, morello dark cherry juice, milk, eggs and extracts. Once combined add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the cherries and chocolate to the mixing bowl and blend until fully combined.
  5. Lightly coat the muffin papers with cooking spray before adding 2-3 tablespoons of batter to each one.
  6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the refrigerator.

 

Frosting

  1. In a mixing bowl whip the butter until smooth.
  2. Alternate adding 2 cups powdered sugar and a little bit of milk and the extracts until the frosting starts to become thick.
  3. Then, add the dark cherry juice gradually. Once the frosting is almost to the right consistency add the fruit vinegar to give the frosting a hint of tartness (opt.).
  4. Whip in the finely chopped cherries if you’re using them.
  5. Place the frosting in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm and then frost the cupcakes.

I use a french tip attachment to my pastry bag to swirl the frosting on top of each cupcake (using a knife is fine, too). Dust with cocoa powder and a chocolate chunk.

 Black Forest Cupcake

 

 

 

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Cleveland Daycation – West Side

It’s time for an adventure don’t you think?

We’ve lived in northeast Ohio for a few years now and yet we have a whole grocery list of places in the area we haven’t yet explored. We’re trying to change that this summer by going on daycations around town.

These little ventures aren’t just thrown together – we try to plan it like we would an out of town vacation so the kids feel like it’s a real getaway.

Our first daycation exploration was to Cleveland’s West Side.

 

Here’s where we visited:

 

Lunch at Happy Dog

5801 Detroit Ave.

Choose from 50 toppings on an all-beef or veggie dog. Peanut, pickle, mustard hot dog? You can get that here. If all the choices seem too overwhelming select one of their creative, suggested combos. Fill out the form with your selected toppings and then give it to your server. Along with hot dogs there are tater tots with cool dips like Jamaican jerk mustard mojo, Buffalo wing hot sauce, and more. This place gets pretty hopping at night so my advice is to go during the day with your kiddos.

 

Eating at Happy Dog

Dessert at Sweet Moses Soda Fountain & Treat Shop

6800 Detroit Ave.

Sweet Moses is just a short walk from Happy Dog – enough time to recover from an extra helping of tater tots. This old-style dessert parlor includes a mouth-watering assortment of homemade ice creams and treats. We chose the Gordon Square Sundae, which has a dense brownie at the bottom topped with Bananas Foster ice cream, caramel, and hot fudge. Oh, and whip cream and a cherry. We couldn’t resist getting one of their brownies to go, too. The brownie is served like a popsicle dipped in chocolate and toppings.

 

Sundae at Sweet Moses, Cleveland

Stroll Through Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop

17462 Lorain Ave.

Both the recent Avengers movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier were filmed in Cleveland. And Superman got his start in this town that was a stand-in for Metropolis. We wanted to embrace Cleveland’s comic book roots so we took time to work our way through Carol and John’s Comic Shop, which has been an institution in this town for over 20 years. There are several bins with $1 comic books perfect for a child that wants a souvenir for the day.

 

Visiting a Comic Book Shop

Hike Around Fort Hill Loop

Rocky River, North Olmsted

One-hundred-and-thirty-five steps – we counted them! This 1.3-mile loop takes you to the top of Fort Hill where you can see Rocky River and watch planes take off above the trees from the airport that’s literally in the backyard of this preserve. Save some time to go through the Rocky River Nature Center that’s at the base of the trial. The step trail only takes about 30 minutes or less depending on how many breaks your kiddos take on the stairs.

 

Rocky River Preserve

Movie Time! The Amazing Spider-Man 2

We finished off our adventures by taking in a movie.

Fort Hill Loop View

For more tips on how to plan a great daycation head on over to my post at Wandering Educators (coming soon).

 

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Potato Taquitos

 Potato taquitos

We made two types of taquitos last night – shredded beef and mashed potato. Guess which ones got gobbled up first?

 

Potato.

 

The crisp outside of corn tortilla pairs perfectly with the smooth filling of the mashed potato. Plus, you can pump up the potatoes with whatever flavors your family likes – chopped green chiles, corn, loads of cheese, fresh cilantro… Yes, if you have leftovers in the fridge this is the time to dig through and add in a few to your mashed potatoes before you roll them into the corn tortillas.

 

A few taquito-making tips:

  • Don’t overdo it on the filling or else your taquitos will explode (yes, hot oil and filling all over!) when you fry them
  • Use a cast iron pan, if you have one, to heat the oil and then fry your taquitos – cast iron pans hold in the heat better than other types
  • Frying isn’t the only way to get your taquitos crisp you can also bake them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit on baking sheet coated with cooking spray (they won’t get quite as crisp)
  • Try flour tortillas (called flautas when they’re rolled and fried like this) instead of corn
  • Get your kids involved – they’re usually great at rolling taquitos

 

Recipe

Servings: 15 taquitos

Making taquitos

Ingredients

3 medium-sized potatoes

1 1/2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. milk

1 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro, opt.

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 tsp. cumin, opt.

15 corn tortillas

Oil for frying

 Frying taquitos

Directions

  1. Peel potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces and add to a pot of salted water.
  2. Place the pot on the oven and bring the water to a boil. Cook potatoes until soft.
  3. Using a hand-held blender, whip together the potatoes, butter, and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste (and cumin, cilantro if you’re using them). Blend until smooth.
  4. Over medium-high heat either on a gas grill top or a skillet, toast the corn tortillas and then immediately put them into a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel. This steams the tortillas and softens them so they’re more pliable.
  5. Spread 2 tbsp. potato mixture onto the steamed corn tortillas. Roll up the tortillas starting with one end and working to the other.
  6. Place the rolled tortillas on a plate while you finish preparing the rest. Finish rolling all of the tortillas.
  7. In a heavy-bottomed pan bring about 1/4″ oil to medium-high heat. Place the taquitos 5 at a time in the hot oil with the seam side faced down.
  8. Fry the taquitos until crisp and then flip to the other side – about 3 minutes. Cook on the other side for 3 minutes.
  9. Remove the first set of tortillas and cook the other two batches.
  10. Serve covered with cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa, and chopped tomatoes.

Potato Taquitos on a plate

 

 

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Making Hummus with Dried Chickpeas

HummusOne of my favorite Lebanese restaurants churns out smooth, creamy hummus that’s unlike anything I’ve been able to make at home. Until now. The secret I’ve found is foregoing the canned chickpeas – you know, the ones that smell like cat food when you open them?

 

In playing around with making hummus from scratch I discovered that I was usually adding extra ingredients – more and more garlic, olive oil, and seasoning to cover up the tin taste of the canned chickpeas. When you make hummus from dried beans there’s no off taste to cover up, the beans are flavorful all by themselves. Making hummus with dried chickpeas doesn’t involve many more steps, just a little more planning. Plus, a bag of dried chickpeas costs a lot less than buying cans!

 

Tips for hummus success:

  • Don’t use flavored olive oil – I tried with with garlic oil and the flavor overpowers the chickpeas
  • Do blend in extra ingredients, like roasted red pepper, once you’ve made your hummus (although the plain variety is the best when you make it from dried beans)
  • Hummus becomes fluffier in texture on day #2
  • Chickpeas cook more evenly in a smaller crockpot but go ahead and use what you have on hand
  • Do double or triple this recipe!

 

Recipe

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

 

Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas (usually available at the grocers either by the canned beans or in the Mexican food section)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp. tahini (in a pinch you can substitute 1 tbsp. peanut butter plus 1/2 tbsp. each more olive oil and more reserved liquid)

1/2 clove garlic or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1-4 tbsp. reserved liquid from the beans

1/2 juice from a fresh lemon

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1-2 tsp. salt (sea salt, preferred)

 

Directions

  1. Place the dried chickpeas in a crockpot and cover with water – about 1″ above the beans. Soak overnight.Soaking chickpeas
  2. Rinse the chickpeas and empty the water from the crockpot. Place the rinsed chickpeas back into the crockpot and cover again with water – about 1″ above the beans. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or until the beans are tender (it’s okay to overcook the beans a bit). *Add in 1/2 tsp. salt halfway through cooking.
  3. Ready the food processor! Drain the cooked chickpeas, reserving the extra liquid.Blending Hummus
  4. Put the lid onto the food processor and place the oil into the dispensing funnel (if you have one; alternatively place the olive oil in with the beans before processing) and pulse the beans until they become mushy.Making hummus
  5. Remove the lid and add the tahini and seasonings; blend again. Add salt to taste.
  6. Adjust the consistency of the hummus with the reserved liquid. If you like a smoother consistency by all means add more – if chunky is your style, you’re done.
  7. To serve place the hummus, in a bowl and drizzle with extra olive oil and roasted pumpkin seeds or sprinkle with smoked paprika or cayenne pepper. Last night I just put a big pile of hummus on each kid’s plate.
Lebanese dinner

Lebanese dinner – grilled chicken, hummus, tabbouleh, pitas, cucumbers, and grapes

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Happy National Chocolate Chip Day! To commemorate the invention of chocolate chip cookies by a creative baker back in the 1930s, May 15th is the day to bake up a batch. But cookies are so 2013. Make muffins instead to pair chocolate chips with something a little healthier – oats.

 Open chocolate chip oatmeal muffins

Recipe

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins

 

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour (or go half whole-wheat, half all purpose or use just all-purpose)

1 cup oats

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (opt.)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup milk

1 cup mini-chocolate chips

2 tbsp. ground flax seed (opt.)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the dried ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  4. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones until just softened.
  5. Fill each of the muffin tins up 2/3 full. (You can use muffin papers or generously grease the pan with baking spray.)
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until just browned around the edges.

Optional: Add sugar crystals, chopped nuts, or extra mini-chocolate chips on top of the batter before baking.

*Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is.

 

Stacked chocolate chip oatmeal muffins

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Fast French Chocolate Mousse

Close up of French Chocolate Mousse

Once a year my mother would make chocolate mousse. It was usually at Christmas time.

 

Well, it’s not Christmas but for Mother’s Day I thought making mom’s mousse recipe would be a fitting way to celebrate. Right now my mom and dad are living abroad at the moment as medical missionaries so communication is with sporadic emails. For Mother’s Day I’m remembering mom by making her mousse recipe. It’s simple – chocolate, heavy cream, eggs (they’re not cooked). My mom always ordered fresh heavy cream for the milk man. I was able to get mine through a special order from my CSA, Fresh Fork Market.

 

 Chocolate Mousse

 

Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes or less

Servings: About 6

 

Ingredients

6 ozs. semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 1/2 tbsp. water

2 whole eggs, plus 2 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

 

Directions

  1. In a glass measuring cup, melt the chocolate chips with water in the microwave. Whisk until smooth and allow to cool.
  2. In a blender, blend together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cream and blend again for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chocolate mixture into the blender and blend for another minute.
  5. Pour the mousse into 6 glass containers (4-oz. ramekins work well).
  6. Refrigerate overnight and serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.
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5 Ways to introduce your kids to ramps

RampsRamps are the first sign – and taste – of spring. In appearance ramps look like tulip leaves outfitted with green onion bulbs. And the flavor is a mild to robust garlicly zing with undercurrents of onion.

Now how to get your kids to try leeks … there’s no disguising ramps green color but you can meld the flavor in with other foods that are familiar to your kiddos. Here are a few ways we’ve used them so far, so good.

 

Mixed into shredded lettuce on tacos

Thin sliced ramps can be tossed into shredded iceberg lettuce and then used to top tacos.

 

Sauteed in scrambled eggs

In a skillet add 1 tablespoon of butter and bring it to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of thin-sliced leeks to the butter and saute for 1 minute. Add in whisked eggs and scramble.

 

Stirred into cream cheese as a dip for chips

Purchase a container of whipped cream cheese and mix in chopped ramps along with salt and pepper to taste. Offer this as a dip for your kids with tortilla chips, baby carrots, and/or celery sticks.

 

Blended into sauces

Time to whip out the blender. Use it to mix ramps into spaghetti sauce or other colorful sauces that love garlic.

 

Plain!

I used ramp leaves instead of lettuce on sandwiches.

 

Now it’s your turn: Have you tried ramps? How do you like to serve them?

 

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Chocolate Coconut Tres Leches

Chocolate coconut tres leches on a plate

Tres Leches translates into three milks cake. With nearly the consistency of a pudding cake, the dense cake batter is designed to soak up a sweetened milk glaze that you pour over it before after baking and before adding the frosting.

 

I first sampled the traditional vanilla tres leches not in Mexico, but La Crosse, Wisconsin of all places. In a tiny Mexican restaurant frequented by college students and foodies our server brightened when we ordered the tres leches. The owner of Iguana’s Mexican Street Cafe made it from scratch and took great pride in serving us a huge slice. I’ve been thinking about making it ever since. That was July.

 

I wanted to amp up the flavor of the cake so of course I thought it needed chocolate. I found a version of Chocolate Rum Cake from Chow that lead me through how to add chocolate to both the cake batter and the tres leches glaze. But I also wanted to temper some of the tres leches glaze, which can become too sweet for my taste, with another ingredient. I found it in coconut milk – a great stand-in for much of the heavy cream and some of the sweetened condensed milk. I just couldn’t stop there. I also added dark cocoa powder into the whipped frosting for a rich dessert that really is more like Cinco Leches – sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, coconut milk, heavy cream, and milk chocolate chips. I usually opt for semi-sweet but this creamy dessert works better with a milky chocolate.

 

Both of the recipes I combined made the tres leches cake as a layer cake. I like it better in a casserole dish – it’s easier to make that way and serves more people. If you want a layered cake go ahead but your cake may not soak up all the tres leches glaze, which was another reason I went with the dish – I didn’t want to lose any of the sauce!

Chocolate Coconut Tres Leches

Recipe

For the cake

¾ cup water

2 tsp. dark cocoa powder (opt. I used black onyx)

½ cup cocoa powder

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 ¼ cups sugar

5 large egg yolks

½ cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

8 large egg whites

¾ tsp. cream of tartar

 

For the tres leches

4 ounces chocolate (milk chocolate chips work well)

1 cup coconut milk

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup evaporated milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

Tres leches ingredients

For the frosting

2 cups heavy cream

1/8 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder

1 tsp. coconut extract (opt.)

 

For the garnish

Shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Mini chocolate chips

 

Directions

For the cake

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously coat the inside of a 9” x 13” casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks, oil, and extracts until combined. Whisk dark cocoa powder into the water right in the measuring cup and then whisk into the egg mixture.
  4. Whisk the egg yolk mixture into the flour until combined. (Lots of whisking!)
  5. In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites, ½ tsp. salt, and the cream of tartar in a bowl until the egg whites become frothy, about 2 minutes. (Yes, you’re essentially making a meringue.) Gradually add the rest of the sugar, ¾ cup, into the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  6. Working in three batches, add 1/3 of the egg whites to the flour-egg yolk mixture and fold together until there are no white streaks. Follow the same procedure with the rest of the egg whites.
  7. Pour the batter into the casserole dish and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Test to see if the cake is done by putting a toothpick into the center – if it comes out clean take the cake out of the oven. Cool the cake for 10 minutes.

Adding tres leches

For the tres leches glaze

  1. In a large, glass measuring bowl, melt together the chocolate and ¼ cup heavy cream in the microwave on medium-high heat for 90 seconds. Stir until smooth.
  2. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk in coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, extracts.
  4. Pour 1/3 of the tres leches glaze onto the cake. Wait 10 minutes and then pour the next 1/3. Follow the same process with the rest of the glaze.
  5. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or, if possible, overnight.

 

For the whipped topping

  1. With a hand-held mixer beat the whipping cream until frothy. Add the coconut milk and powdered sugar to the whipping cream until stiff, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the extracts and cocoa powder and whip 30 more seconds.
  3. Spread the whipped topping onto the cake using a spatula.
  4. Optional toppings – shredded coconut and mini chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate 1 more hour.

 

To serve

  1. On a large plate use chocolate sauce (such as Hershey’s syrup – it’s for the design not the flavor) and make a swirl shape on the plate.
  2. Use the extra tres leches sauce in the pan to do another swirl of sauce.
  3. Cut the cake into square pieces.

 

*Not a coconut fan? The coconut flavor in this recipe is subtle. Nix the coconut extract and the coconut milk in the whipped topping if you don’t like coconut. Keep it in the tres leches and you probably won’t notice it. Or, just go ahead and use all heavy cream instead of any coconut milk.

 

Pieces of chocolate coconut tres leches

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Ramp Au Gratin Potatoes

RampsRamps look like a cross between a green onion and a leek – but they have a pungent oniony-garlic flavor softened with a hint of sweetness. Also known as wild leeks, ramps are a sign it’s spring!

 

In my bag from my local CSA (community supported agriculture), Fresh Fork Market, I had a bunch of fresh ramps in need of a home. I paired them with a creamy au gratin recipe.

 

How do you cook with ramps? It’s easy. Wash them and then slice them thin as you would green onions. Remove any filmy parts that may be coming off the white ends already. For this recipe I used the entire ramp—white and green parts. Time to get cooking!

 

 

Recipe

Ingredients

6 Medium potatoes (Red, Yukon, regular, or a combination)

3 tbsp. butter

¼ cup onion, diced small

1/4 -1/2 cup sliced ramps

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground pepperSauting ramps

¼ tsp. ground thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp. fresh)

1 can (12-oz.) evaporated milk

½ cup half and half

½ cup water

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 clove garlic, diced (opt.)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel potatoes and then slice thin. I used my food processor with the slicing attachment.
  3. Place the thin-sliced potatoes into a pot and fill with water and a generous helping of salt. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat on the stovetop. Cook until the potatoes are just barely fork tender (about 4 minutes) and drain.
  4. Coat a 8” x 8” or similarly sized casserole dish with cooking spray. Place the potatoes onto the greased dish. Top the potatoes with the cheese.
  5. In a saucepan melt the butter on medium-high heat and add in the onions. Saute until translucent (about 4 minutes). Add the ramps and the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  6. Turn the heat to low and add the evaporated milk and seasonings.
  7. In a measuring cup, whisk the flour into the half and half and water until fully combined. Slowly pour into the saucepan and gradually bring to a boil stirring constantly. Simmer until thickened (about 3 minutes).
  8. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and bake for 25 minutes. Broil the potatoes on high for 3 minutes to crisp the top. Allow the potatoes to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Make it a meal—add in cubed ham, steamed broccoli or whatever else you might have leftover in the fridge.

Ramp au gratin potatoes*Tweaked from a recipe for Scalloped Potatoes from Very Best Baking.

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Simple Blackberry Vinaigrette

Blackberry vinaigretteFor dinner, we’ll often do a big salad–especially now that spring is finally here.

 

But salads can be boring. And kids know it.

 

So I like to play with the lettuce, toppings, and dressing to keep my kids asking, Can we have salad for dinner?

 

Berries–dried or fresh–are a great way to enliven a salad and add a burst of sweetness. I also like to add them into the dressing.

 

You can make your own vinaigrette from scratch by using equal parts vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) and olive oil along with seasonings such as dried herbs but I usually don’t have time on a weeknight meal to do all that. Instead, I start with a good quality store-bought vinaigrette as a base and then pump up the flavor.

 

Here’s how to make your own blackberry vinaigrette–this is the perfect starter salad dressing recipe for kids who like to help in the kitchen and are old enough to be trusted with the blender.

 

Recipe

Yield: About 1 1/3 cups dressing

 

Ingredients

1 cup oil-based salad dressing (I like Matsos Greek Dressing or Ken’s Lite Northern Italian Dressing)

1/3 cup blackberries (or any other kind of berry, fresh or frozen)

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (opt.)

1/2 tbsp. fresh parsley or other fresh herb you have on hand–basil would be fabulous (opt.)

1/4 tsp. ground cayenne

 

Directions

  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and puree. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  2. Drizzle on your salad.

 

Salad Suggestions

Romaine lettuce or green leaf, topped with grated carrots, pumpkin seeds, cubed cheese like Gouda, thin sliced onion, rotisserie or grilled chicken

 

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