Meet Ed and Edward. That’s what my daughter named her carved orange creations. When I asked why, she looked at me liked I’d just asked why leaves are green. “Because they’re elephants, mom.” Well, that answers it.
When I was cleaning out some of my cookbooks the other day I stumbled on The Fine Art of Garnished, publishing date, 1978. My mother-in-law sent it to me awhile back and I haven’t had a chance–or the hutzpah–to give it a try. My youngest? Well, when she saw it as I was stacking up books she immediately started thumbing through it, planning out what we were going to try. Luckily, I talked her out of making the viking-inspired watermelon boat this time…
These elephants are actually easy to make–and don’t require a sharp knife. I was making an apple bird while my youngest settled on the elephants. Well, you can see how my bird turned out (in my defense, it was a very, very small apple). But my daughter followed the instructions and stopped at two elephants just because we ran out of oranges.
How to make a carved orange elephant:
- Find the end of the orange with a circle (where it was picked). Use a paring knife to cut a long “V” in the skin, going down from the circle. Gently pull the skin away from the pith.
- Lay the “V” portion onto a cutting board (still attached to the orange) and then shape it into a trunk.
- Use the paring knife to cut a circle on either side of the trunk for the ears. To do this, push the knife into the orange skin but not all the way through to the juicy part. Make a circle starting above the trunk and ending just below the trunk–it’s almost as if you were cutting a slice. Do not slice the circle all the way around. Repeat on the other side and then carefully pull the “ears” away from the base of the orange.
- With toothpicks, secure grapes for the elephants’ “eyes” and gumdrops for their “feet.”
- Add kiwi fruit “grass” (optional, but fun).
Summer has arrived. Lately, we’ve become hooked on Flatout Flatbreads–they’re low in fat, with a bit of extra fiber thrown in, and make for a quick meal. My teen has been turning out these pizzas for lunch every day since school got out and I’m SO not complaining.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Serving size: 1
1 piece of Flatout pizza (tortillas & pita bread works well, too)
1/3 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, asiago)
Toppings: diced tomatoes, spinach, thinly sliced onion, Italian seasoning
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Lightly coat the baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place one Flatout flatbread onto the baking sheet and spread with 1/4 -1/3 cup spaghetti sauce.
- Choose your toppings and sprinkle on top of the sauce, followed by the cheese, and finally the Italian seasoning.
- Bake for 15 minutes until crisp.
I wasn’t expecting much when I read about Yum Yum Brownies on Hungry Girl. Canned pumpkin plus chocolate cake mix. Sounded like Thanksgiving mixed with Ghirardelli. Eww. But, I had to give it a try–I mean, there’s chocolate in it. Add to that, I happen to love canned pumpkin–I never had it as a kid so now it seems like almost a delicacy (go ahead, laugh).
Looking online I discovered chocolate-pumpkin desserts have quite a following. I opted for Cookies & Cups version–one family-size box brownie mix and one can Libby’s Pumpkin. That’s it. Well, almost. I tweaked the recipe just a little bit.
A few notes:
- The brownies end up with a fudge-like consistency. Nothing wrong with that! I cut them into squares and put them in the fridge. I think they’re better cold.
- If you didn’t know there was pumpkin in the brownies, you’d wouldn’t guess it.
- My tween loved these brownies–maybe because she convinced me to let her have them for breakfast, “They’re healthy mom, right?”
Prep time: 5 minutes + baking
1 family-sized box brownies (my fav is Duncan Hines)
1 can pumpkin puree
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl blend together the brownie mix and the pumpkin puree with a hand-held blender. Now, here’s where I had to do a few tweaks–I also added in 1/3 cup chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon chocolate extract.
- Coat a 9″ baking dish with cooking spray.
- Spread the batter onto the baking dish and cook for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
We go through at least a jar of Trader Joe’s Organic Raspberry Fruit Spread a week. Yeah, it’s that good. If you have a Trader Joe’s anywhere near you, I highly suggest you pick up a few. Even Santa likes it. He brought my teen a case of the stuff for her for Christmas–that’s all she wanted.
So just how do we go through that much raspberry spread?
•Mix it with plain, Greek yogurt for breakfast
•PBR sandwich–peanut butter and raspberry on whole-grain bread
•As a secret ingredient in my Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake
•Cracker, sharp cheddar cheese, dollop of raspberry jam–perfect snack
•As a layer in our chocolate mini dessert parfaits
•Thin it with a little lemon juice as a fruit sauce for desserts
I’ve never been to Hawaii, but after trying this new barbecue sauce, I want to go! Whenever I’m starved for dinner ideas (forgive the pun) World Market is one of my go-to places for inspiration. Enter Da Kine Hawaiian BBQ Sauce. I was debating between a couple of bbq sauces and I asked one of the staffers which one was better. She mentioned she got regular calls requesting Da Kine. After trying it out, I understand why. You don’t have to have Da Kine to make this salad, but it is worth hunting down.
Prep time: 30 minutes
1 Head Romaine lettuce
2 chicken breasts
Da Kine Hawaiian BBQ Sauce (or regular BBQ sauce with a few tweaks–see below*)
Ranch dressing (or plain Greek yogurt, sour cream)
Garlic powder, onion powder
Green bell pepper
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup cilantro
1 lime, divided
1/8 cup pineapple (tidbits from a can work well)
Cayenne pepper (opt.)
- Cut the chicken into thin pieces. Bring 1 tablespoon olive oil to medium-high heat in a saute pan; add the chicken.
- As the chicken cooks, sprinkle it with onion and garlic powders along with salt and pepper to taste. Once the chicken is almost cooked through–about 5 minutes–drizzle with 1 tablespoon bbq sauce and squeeze with a little fresh lime juice. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl mix up diced avocado, green pepper, red onion, and cilantro. Squeeze half a lime over the salsa and season with salt and pepper and cayenne (if using).
- In a small bowl mix equal parts bbq sauce and either ranch dressing, sour cream, or Greek yogurt. *Now if you don’t have Hawaiian bbq sauce, I understand. Try doctoring regular bbq sauce with a little bit of pineapple juice. I don’t like to drench my salad so it’s your choice how much you want to make.
- Assembly time! Place a handful of chopped romaine lettuce in each serving bowl. Top with chicken, sprinkle with almond slivers and then drizzle with bbq-ranch dressing. Finish off the salad by adding a heaping scoop of salsa to each dish.
Kids’ reaction: My youngest finds an excuse to put the Hawaiian bbq sauce on her wraps, salads, as a veggie dip… All around, we plan on having this salad a lot this summer.
Just in time for Memorial Day–the hamburger cake! We had a blast putting this together as a family and the grandparents even joined in to add the finishing touch…the olive on top.
Here’s how to put the cake together.
First, the bun:
Mix up a boxed yellow cake mix and divide into two 8″-round cake pans. Bake until golden. One cake will be the top of the bun and the other the bottom. Let your kids choose which cake looks the most like a bun top. Put them in the fridge (the cake, not the kids).
Now for the meat:
Bake a brownie mix in a 9″-round cake pan (or you can use the same 8″, I just like having the “meat” hang over the side). Yup, in the fridge it goes. Note: You will have extra brownie batter if you use a family-sized brownie mix.
You can’t have a decent burger without the fixins’ mayo, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. I bought 1 can of ready-to-go vanilla frosting. Divide the frosting evenly into four bowls.
Spread the red-tinted frosting onto a piece of waxed paper making two, large circles for the “tomatoes.” Put the tomatoes into the fridge. For the lettuce smear the green-tinted frosting onto a piece of waxed paper with a spoon trying to make the texture uneven, like lettuce. Finally, the yellow-tinted frosting is smoothed onto a piece of waxed paper (you’ll cut it later so the edges don’t need to be even). Into the fridge for all the fixins’.
I recommend having a burger assembly team–there is flipping involved, folks! Make a circle just smaller than the bun bottom with a piece of cardboard. Put your bottom bun piece onto the cardboard circle (this will make assembly, cutting, and moving the cake much easier.)
Break up the green-tinted frosting lettuce into large pieces and lay half of them around the bottom of the bun. Spread a little bit of the leftover white frosting (remember that fourth bowl we haven’t used yet?) and carefully place the brownie “meat” onto the bun bottom–this will hold the “lettuce” in place.
Add more lettuce around the edges of the brownie “meat” and then carefully add more white frosting onto the center of the brownie. Lay the two tomato slices on top of the lettuce. For the cheese, use a kitchen knife to slice the yellow pieces into squares that look like American cheese. Place two pieces of your “American cheese” on top of the tomatoes. Use the rest of the white frosting to smear over the bottom side of the bun top for the “mayo.” It’s flipping time! Flip the bun top onto the cheese layer–carefully (this is a two- or three-person job). Gently push down on the bun top.
With the remnants of white frosting, stick crispy rice cereal pieces onto the top of the bun to look like sesame seeds. We had leftover red and green pieces from constructing the lettuce and tomato so we made it into a green olive for the top of the burger.
Voila! It’s hamburger for dessert.
I get pretty creative when it comes to getting my kids to try new foods, but this idea came right from my tween.
Here’s the deal: I’m a spinach lover, and my youngest kids…well, not yet. I’m working on it. I recycle my spinach containers as giveaways when I take treats to friends or into my kids’ classes. My kids found my stash of extras and discovered another use for them–as fish “aquariums.”
My kids tend to spend every waking moment once the weather gets warmer fishing in a nearby creek. They’ve discovered that my spinach containers make the perfect holders for their catch.
So my tween made the connection that when we eat more spinach there are more containers for fish. Lately, my tween has started eating spinach without complaint. Coincidence? Well, I’m still thanking the fish for my tween’s new-found interest in greens.
For the finishing touch on tostadas, I like to add a little bit of sour cream swirls. They’re easy to make and the perfect job for kids.
Here’s how to make sour cream swirls for Mexican dishes:
- Place 1/3 cup sour cream into the corner part of a plastic baggy.
- Use kitchen scissors to cut a small hole in the corner of the bag with the sour cream. You’ve just created a DIY sour cream pastry bag!
- Make designs on your tostados, tacos, nachos, or flautas with the sour cream.