Archive for ‘Recipes: The Family That Cooks Together’

January 13, 2014

Snowed In

by Kathy Higgs-Coulthard38-FE3-KathyHiggs-Coulthard

Remember the trapped-in-a-snow-globe feeling of watching huge snowflakes float outside your window as you drifted off to sleep? And waking with the anticipation of seeing your school’s name scroll across the screen, officially making the day a snow day? In my house, snow days are more than a day off school. They are a magical gift.

Of all the ways to spend those snow-kissed days, here’s our family’s top ten choices:
*        Make snow cream
Grandpa’s snow cream recipe
You need:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1  1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 6 cups clean, freshly fallen snow
To do:
In a large bowl combine half and half, vanilla extract and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Stir in snow, a cup at a time, until ice cream forms.

*        Mix up homemade hot chocolate
Nana’s homemade hot chocolate recipe
You need:
1 lb powdered sugar
8 cups powdered milk
1 container (30 ounces) Nesquick
16 ounces powdered coffee creamer
To do:
Mix all ingredients in large container. When ready to make hot chocolate, add 2 heaping tablespoons of mix to warm milk. (Don’t forget the marshmallows!)

*        Look for animal tracks in the snow (and make our own)

*        Make snow angels and snowpeople

*        Build a snowfort and spray paint it with colored water in squirt bottles (use food color)

*        Make fairy castles by packing snow into gelatin and cake molds & decorate with nature

*        Snow Marbles
In an effort to give our older son something to aim at besides his three little sisters, we invented this winter version of marbles. Use a stick to draw a circle in the snow, then take turns tossing snowballs into the circle. Extra points if you can hit your opponent’s snowball.

*        Blow bubbles and watch them freeze

*        Watch Frosty the Snowman (okay, so this one is a sanity break for Mom)

*        And of course… read snow-related books. Our favorites are below.

Black snowman   Title:  The Black Snowman
   Author: Phillip Mendez
   Illustrator: Carole Byard
   Genre: picture book
   Ages: 7-10 years

Title:Snowmen at Night   snowmen at night
Author: Caralyn Buehner
Illustrator: Mark Buehner
Genre: picture book
Ages: Listening 3 yrs and up; Independent 8 and up

stranger in the woods   Title: Stranger in the Woods
   Author & Photographer: Carl R. Sams, II and Jean Stoick
   Genre: picture book
   Ages: Listening 3 yrs and up; Independent 8 and up

July 10, 2013

A Vegan Mac and Cheese for the Healthy Family

Okay, so I am so excited to introduce one more new writer. I had been following Ophelia’s blog for some time now and have made almost every recipe she has posted. Seriously. Her chocolate-avocado pudding is one of my favorites. And now she is writing for us! Because I’ve always wanted to make sure that the Family That Reads Together is also Eating together. But let her introduce herself:

I am French and vegan (no, it’s true!). The French part, well, I obviously didn’t choose, but the vegan part was a decision I made about 10 seconds after watching a slaughter-house/factory farm video (thank you liberal arts schools!).

Cue 2009, the birth year of my daughter. I realized the moment my daughter was born that not only was I entirely clueless in my new role as a mom, but that my vegan cooking skills were going to be put to the test by the brand new palate of a child! Overwhelmed by the magnitude of this new responsibility, I had to dig deeply for a creativity I didn’t know I had.

And so here is some of that creativity! Welcome Ophelia! Thanks for joining us! (You can find her own blog at

A Vegan Mac and Cheese for the Family that Eats Healthy Together!

Yes, everyone needs a good vegan mac and cheese recipe. Let me rephrase that: everyone needs at LEAST one good mac and cheese recipe. If you search around, you will find that there are many out there and most of them will be satisfying (you know, the whole point of this dish). BUT, what many lack is a bit of originality (yes!) and a wise ratio of good nutrients. Just a roundabout way of saying that many require WAY too much margarine for my taste and (boringly) rely on flour to thicken the sauce. Cue this recipe.

Title: Vegan Fusion World Cuisine
Author: Mark Reinfeld and Bo Rinaldi and the chefs at Blossoming Lotus
Genre: Cookbook

This recipe comes straight out of the Blossoming Lotus cookbook. I love it because it covers my two most basic mottos: it’s easy (I mean, all you need is a blender!), and delicious. This one comes with an added bonus: it’s also original. Its originality comes from the main ingredient: tahini. Tahini is just another word for sesame butter (as in, ground up sesames). Most of us unknowingly consume tahini in hummus or perhaps even in the occasional “tahini dressing” (recipe to come!). Regardless, let’s be clear about this butter: it’s high in calcium, iron, good fats and protein. Win!

Ok, so gathering the ingredients is what will take you the most time, though they can all be easily found in your local health food store. This recipe also calls for raw garlic, which many little ones might find too strong/spicy in flavor. I recommend trying it anyway at first and if you notice a reluctance, perhaps blend it with less or even without garlic, take a batch out for your child and then go to town with the garlic for yourself.

If you want to make this entirely gluten free, simply replace the oats with ground up flaxseeds (same ratio), and use quinoa pasta instead. And you know, it doesn’t HAVE to be poured over pasta. Clearly you can use it as a dip, pour it over veggies, rice, quinoa or even eat it with a spoon (yeah, I said it). Enjoy!

Mac and Cheese (or “Cheez” if that makes you more comfortable!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 1/2 cup soy, rice or almond milk (unsweetened preferrably)

2 TBSP rolled oats

2 TBSP tahini

2 TBSP nutritional yeast

1 tsp soy sauce (or tamari or bragg’s)

3/4 tsp dijon mustard

1 clove of garlic

1/2 tsp turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

Place all these ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.

Pour over pasta

and stir.


Top with sauteed or raw veggies


So what do you think? Are you in for vegan mac and cheese? And if you try this recipe out, let us know how it worked for you and your family! Happy eating!

April 6, 2012

Homemade Cake

Welcome to another installment of The Family That Eats Together Fridays!

My mother baked. My sister bakes. But I don’t bake. Or, more accurately, I bake with varying and unpredictable degrees of success and failure. So when birthday cake time comes around, I get slightly nervous. Sometimes, for inspiration, I check out a blog of a friend of mine, Lamb’s Munchings and Musings, but that only serves to remind me what I will never be capable of. The recipes, maybe. But carving a lion out of a cake? Nope.

So when it was time for the Wizard of Why’s 4th birthday party and he wanted a knight and dragon theme, we logged on to the internet together to search for dragon cake ideas. Logging on to the internet with a small child takes a leap of faith because there is always the possibility that he will see some unbelievable cake and want that one, at which point I will either have to admit defeat or spend a week in the kitchen. We did find plenty of instructions for a pretty neat-looking dragon cake, but luckily for my week, he was pretty insistent that a knight and dragon party have both a knight and a dragon incorporated into the cake. So we did what the grandmother in my recently-blogged-about book Piggy Bunny did: we ordered stuff off the internet.

This has become somewhat of a tradition now, and it’s one I really like. Instead of paying a zillion dollars for a grocery store cake, and instead of spending too much time teaching my kid four-letter words in the kitchen, I order a couple of themed toys and stick them on top of a plain homemade cake. It was prefect. For this cake, we ordered two dragons and a knight. We made a delicious family chocolate-cake recipe but bought store-bought frosting (a good compromise I thought). Making the cake batter was a fun activity to go together and we didn’t have to get the kitchen completely wrecked while making frosting. He helped me spread the frosting and pump it out of the little cans. We frosted it with green (for grass) and blue (for water)…we did have one land dragon and one sea dragon after all. It turned out awesome (and completely delicious)! It was relatively easy, and my son now has some new knight and dragon toys to play with.

If you try this out, let me know how it goes. And if you have any other ideas for ridiculously easy birthday cakes, I’m all ears!!! (And maybe I’ll post that family recipe on a future Friday!)

March 9, 2012

Ridiculously easy and so very yummy chickpea burgers

Welcome to another installment of The Family That Eats Together Fridays! These chickpea burgers are the best thing to come out of my recent (nonvoluntary) experiment in (pseudo)-veganism. When Gyroscope’s instestinal tract decided it was going to temporarily refuse to handle dairy, I had to eliminate from my diet. One easy way to do this was to eat a lot of vegan meals.

I was so excited to get out an incredibly awesome cookbook called Veganomicon, which I highly recommend for anyone who wants to spice up their family cooking with some more vegetables and healthy flavors. Even if you aren’t vegan or anything close to it, you are guaranteed to love these meals.

One of my favorites (and my husband’s who is a true meat-eater), are the chickpea burgers. They are ridiculously easy, which is also a plus. We had them recently with some purple sweet potato fries. Yum! The Wizard of Why is still not sure what he thinks of these, but we can’t usually get him to eat regular burgers, either, so he might not be the best test…

Here’s the recipe from Veganomicon, with my notes in italics:

Chickpea Cutlets (Makes 4, take 10 minutes)

And they are serious about the time. These are ridiculously easy!


Make sure to soak the dried chickpeas over night before cooking to make it go faster. The recipe calls for cooked, so you need to cook before starting. Roast the extras in a hot oven with salt and spices for an awesome snack.

  • Olive oil for panfrying
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (You could probably use canned, but I fell in love with chickpeas when I started using dry ones. They are so delicious you will never buy a can of anything again.)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (This sounds weird, but makes the whole burger and it’s texture. And you will use the whole box because you will be making these again and again, I swear.)
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs (I have used almost everything with this recipe; white panko, whole wheat panko, regular crumbs and seasoned ones. Use what you have–just make sure if you use seasoned ones they go with the flavors you are adding.)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce (For reasons I won’t go into, I can’t eat soy right now, but 2 Tablespoons of molasses does just fine by this recipe!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (I always use more; I am from the school of “there’s never enough thyme in any recipe”.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika (This may be the best, but I’m sure any paprika would work. I put in extra of this, too.)

    Vital wheat gluten and panko bread crumbs

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage 

I’m going to paraphrase the recipe, but it’s really easy:

1. Mash chickpeas until no whole ones are left (this is an awesome task for eager little hands!), then add in all the other ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes, until strings of gluten have formed. (Make sure you put in chickpeas first; don’t NOT work in reverse!)

2. Preheat heavy skillet; make four cutlets and need together and then flatten into a 4×6 in shape. (Kids will enjoy making their own!)

3. Add thin layer of olive oil to the pan and cook for 6 – 7 minutes on each side. Recipe says you can also bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, of you brush them with olive oil first. Flip and bake again for 8 – 10 minutes on other side.

February 3, 2012

Bright orange soup gets “Sam I Am” approval from 3yo

It’s another installment of The Family That Eats Together Fridays!

Here’s the way I usually make a new dish: I look up a bunch of recipes online and get the general idea of the process. Am I sautéing, roasting, or boiling? (Side note: if there is any debate, I always choose to sauté or roast over boil as it’s way more flavorful.) Is there a general order in which people put ingredients? Is there a general trend to flavors–do a lot of the recipes have similar herbs and spices? And then I usually make it up with a combination of what I like and what I have on hand.

Last week I had a five-pound bag of carrots to use up. I also had a jar of my favorite ginger, which I always keep in the fridge because I love to cook with ginger, but not so much that it makes sense to keep the fresh stuff on hand. Plus, this stuff is delicious and really easy to use. So after looking up a bunch of carrot-ginger soup recipes, here’s what I did.

1. Chop a large onion and sauté in coconut oil. (It’s unlikely to be a good soup if it doesn’t start with sautéing onion. You could use any other oil or butter here, but I’m on a coconut oil kick right now. Plus, coconut-ginger is a great combo of flavors.)

2. Squeeze in some garlic paste. (I would have normally put in fresh garlic here, but I was out. Oftentimes, I will put in both.)

3. Put in two heaping tablespoons of ginger.

4. Put in about 2 pounds of chopped carrots and sauté a little first.

5. Add in a bunch of vegetable broth, a little less than a quart.

6. Cook for a while, at least until carrots are really soft, but soup is always better the longer it cooks–I love to make soup early and then let it simmer for hours. Yum! Or even cook it in the morning and reheat it at night. Also yum!

7. I used my favorite kitchen tool, the blender on a stick, and made it nice and creamy and bright orange. You could also put it in a regular blender, but BE VERY CAREFUL. Don’t fill it up very full, and hold the lid on TIGHT. Trust me, I have exploded hot soup all over the kitchen before, and it is not fun. (It’s even less fun when you do it at your dad’s house, just FYI.)

8. Add some milk at the end to make it creamy. Coconut milk would have been perfect, but I didn’t have any. I also didn’t have any cow or goat milk, so I used rice milk, which was just fine.

The soup was incredibly delicious! My husband raved, I raved. My 3-year-old didn’t eat a lot, but he ate some, and after trying it, he said, with the same emphasis I use when reading Green Eggs and Ham, “Say! I DO like it!” And then we went through the whole routine of eating carrot soup on a boat and on a train…