5 Ways Your Family Can Help Hungry Children

Hunger in America is a huge problem, with no simple solution. But there are ways kids and adults can help make a real impact in your community and beyond.

One cold day last winter, when my son Cal was seven, we were driving through town to do some shopping at Costco. We were stopped at a light, busy negotiating whether or not he would be allowed to get a churro from the food court, when he spotted a young woman in layered coats standing on the corner holding a cardboard sign.

Need money for baby food. Anything helps.

His voice quivering, he pointed out the window and asked if I had any money. I told him I didn’t  have any cash with me. The light turned green and as we drove away he started to cry.

“Mom, we have to help her.”

Of course, he was right. I said we couldn’t give her money, but we could give her food. At Costco we purchased a box of baby food in squeezable containers and on the way home we drove back along the same route to look for her. As we approached the intersection for the second time I slowed and rolled down my window. “Hi!” I said, trying to sound cheerful. “Here’s some baby food. I hope it helps.”

She took it, and thanked us. We drove off, and I looked back at Cal. He nodded seriously. He looked like a kid whose world view had forever changed. For the first time in his life, he was thinking about the reality of being a hungry kid.

Later he had more questions, and I answered them as best I could. But the hard truth is that many people in America don’t have enough to eat, and hunger disproportionately affects kids.

[su_note note_color=”#FFE0AB”]According to Feedingamerica.org:

  • In 2014 46.7 million people (about 15 percent of the population) were living in poverty.
  • 48.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households, which includes over 15 million children.
  • That translates to about 20 percent of the kids in an average public school classroom[/su_note]

I shared those numbers with Cal, and we thought about them for a moment. He said he couldn’t imagine coming home from school and worrying that there wouldn’t be anything for him to eat. Neither could I. Nor could I imagine what it would feel like to worry that  he was hungry and there was nothing I could do about it.

The problem is big, with no simple solution. And it’s easy to feel helpless, especially if you’re a kid. But there are ways kids and adults can have a real impact in your community and beyond.  If your kids are concerned about hunger, empathize, and encourage them to take action.

Kids are powerful, and it’s never too early to teach them that people working together can make a difference. You can even enlist classmates or teachers to help organize efforts.

For older kids – 10 and up – the 2012 documentary A Place At The Table  is a great resource for looking at the problem of childhood hunger in the U.S., and a good starting point for discussions on action kids can take to help in their community.

1 | Get involved with your local food shelf.

There are often volunteer opportunities for both kids and adults. Help prepare or serve a free meal, or volunteer to help out during the busy holiday season. Start on Foodpantries.org  or Ampleharvest.org to learn about programs in your area and what kind of volunteer opportunities are available.

2 | Consider making a weekly donation as a family to an organization that provides free meals or groceries to folks in need.

You can use this locator to find food banks near you and find out how and when to donate food or funds.

3 | Start a donation jar at your house.

When your kids get money (allowance, birthdays, etc.) or whenever they feel like it, they can add some to the jar. When you reach a set amount you can donate it to a hunger-fighting initiative like Feeding America or a local organization.

4 | Reduce family food waste.

There are a lot of good websites dedicated to ideas for working on this at home and in the community. Start here and follow their links.

5 | If you’re lucky enough to live near working farms, or if you participate in a CSA, find out if they have gleaning or food rescue programs.

You can usually volunteer to pick, wash, or distribute gleaned produce to food banks, schools or child care centers.

 

4 Ways to Restore Date Night and Rekindle the Romance

Between kids, schedules, and stretched finances, date night can feel like an impossible dream. These 4 ideas can make staying home just as fun.

I often think of that commercial from a few years ago that featured a couple at the kitchen table with their small kids. Everyone’s eating breakfast and the mom passes a card across the table to the dad, smiling.

He opens and reads it, and looks up with a twinkle in his eye. They smile flirtatiously at each other, and as the dad reaches for the mom’s hand seductively, a handful of flying cheerios, thrown by a toddler, hits him square in the face. Game over.

I laughed like crazy the first time I saw it because it rang so true. To me, that scenario sums up the struggle of remaining “a couple” while parenting. It’s tricky. It’s funny. It’s annoying. And it often involves flying breakfast cereal. But it is possible.

If finding time to get away together is difficult, or cost-prohibitive (real talk: getting a babysitter for three kids for the night almost kills our date budget before we even leave the house), I have an idea for you. But first, a quick story.

My best childhood friend was one of eight kids. When we were young most of them were still living at home in her parent’s house. I had only one younger brother at home, and I found  life at her place endlessly fascinating and fun. I slept over as often as I could.

Her parents were wonderful, kind, and incredibly good-natured about feeding extra kids, considering they were in the midst of raising eight of their own. And man, her mom could cook. I loved being called down to dinner at their house and jockeying for a spot at the huge wooden table because I knew whatever it was would be delicious.

One sleepover night, after we’d been sent upstairs to bed (i.e.: talk and giggle in my friend’s bedroom until the wee hours), I wandered down to the kitchen to get a drink of water. I pushed open the swinging  door and was surprised to find my bestie’s mom and dad sitting at the table alone, glasses of wine in hand and a candle lit between them, having a lovely dinner for two.

“Hey!” said her dad in his heavy Queens accent. “We’re just having a little late dinner. You gotta keep the romance alive, kid!”

I got my water and scooted back up the stairs, a little embarrassed to have interrupted. But I never forgot that moment. I think about it a lot, now that my husband and I are in the trenches raising three young kids of our own. That story, I believe, tells exactly how you keep your couplehood while parenting: By making a little time, and maybe a little something tasty, for each other.

So let’s hear it for dinner dates at home. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1 | Get take out. 

Set the table for two after everyone’s asleep, order your favorite dish from your favorite spot, and share. Bonus if you get it delivered. And don’t forget the candle!

2 | Cook something fancy. 

If you’re feeling energetic and have a little time (it could happen!) make something delicious. Bonus if you get to cook together, and/or try something new. Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out perfect, it’s the time alone together that counts the most. Here are 16 great mini-menus to inspire you.

3 | Make a delicious sandwich.

If you’re feeling exhausted and have no time to cook (that sounds more like it) make a couple of sandwiches. This option is great because, like take-out, it can be pretty much completely spontaneous. Go super casual and make grilled cheeses, or pick up a few things at the store ahead of time and you can try one of these bad boys.

Put them on plates, with chips. Use cloth napkins, and crack open a bottle of wine, or something tasty and non-alcoholic.

4 | Eat dessert for dinner. 

Remember when you wished you could do this as a kid? Well now you’re adults, and you can do whatever you want. You could pick up some dreamy chocolate cake from your local bakery and hide it from the kids. Maybe make some killer ice cream sundaes, like these.

Or make this boss ice cream pie I invented using chocolate graham crackers, caramel gelato, and Fluff.

Now turn off the tv, put down the phones, put on some music, and enjoy the lack of flying cheerios. Couple status, restored.

 

Posted on Categories Analog Life, Food

Think Outside the Bun: 3 New Ways to Love Hot Dogs

Think outside the bun and cook up these three new hot dog recipes for your kids or your next cookout.

This Labor Day weekend, enjoy 3 delicious ways to think outside the bun, without sacrificing the simple essence of the hot dog – not fancy, just awesome. Whether you’re feeding your own kids or hosting a neighborhood cookout, you’ll want to give these a try. Summer is short. You might as well do it up right.

All recipes make eight hot dogs, and all work with beef, turkey, or tofu dogs!

Pretzel Dogs

These are so good I’m seriously considering starting up a neighborhood food cart to sell them full time. Bonus: using store ­bought pizza dough makes the process easy and reasonably quick.

Because no one wants to wait for hot dogs.

Salt well and serve with mustard, obviously.

  • 1 lb store bought white pizza dough
  • 8 hot dogs
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Lay the pizza dough on a lighlty floured surface so it doesn’t stick. Using a sharp knife,cut the dough into eight strips. Starting at one end, wrap each strip of dough around a hot dog in a spiral. Secure the ends by pinching them back into the dough. Lay wrapped dogs on the parchment-lined sheet.

When the hot dogs are all wrapped with dough, add the baking soda to the boiling water. It will foam up quickly. Add the dogs to the boiling water two or three at a time, and leave them for 30 seconds. Remove from the water using a large slotted spoon or spatula and place back on the baking sheet. When they’ve all been boiled, brush the tops with beaten egg and sprinkle generously with salt. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes or until the tops are deep golden brown. Let cool briefly before digging in.

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Homemade Corn Dogs

As far as I’m concerned corn dogs are the only reason to go to fairs. Oh, and cotton candy. And funnel cake. Ok, the only reason to go to fairs is all of the food. But corn dogs are in a class by themselves, kind of the original fair food. Now I just need to convince my kids that these are super difficult to make so they don’t start requesting them every week. Because I’ll probably cave.

This is the easy and tasty recipe I used. It calls for grilling the hot dogs before coating and frying them. I skipped this step and the results were still amazing. Just don’t forget to dust them with flour before dipping them into the batter!

Tip: after frying, drain on a double layer of paper towels placed on top of a baking rack.

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Hawaiian Dogs

These are inspired by a recipe in an issue of “Curbside Cuisine” magazine my kids gave me for Mother’s Day last year. The original used a row of three still-­connected King’s Hawaiian dinner rolls in lieu of a bun. I recommend going that route if you can find them. Sadly, I couldn’t, so I opted for the potato rolls. I also garnished with sweet barbecue sauce instead of teriyaki, and I used crushed salted peanuts instead of toasted macadamia nuts just to eliminate an extra step. I used my own dressing recipe for the cabbage slaw, because I think it’s the best. I put all the toppings out separately so the kids could pick and choose, but these look so cool and taste so great I would totally make a whole tray and serve them up at a backyard party.

  • 8 hot dogs
  • 8 potato hot dog buns or 24 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, in rows of three
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple cup into 1 inch chunks
  • 2/3 cup chopped or crushed salted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup barbecue or teriyaki sauce

For the cabbage slaw:

  • 3 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tsp honey
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste

Combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to combine. Grill or pan fry hot dogs until brown on all sides but not charred. Pop into a bun and top with slaw, pineapple, peanuts, and a drizzle of sauce.

Got a favorite hot dog topping? Tell us in the comments. We need to know.

You’ll Eat What I Serve and Like It

It’s difficult to make hard and fast rules as a parent. But drawing lines in the sand around meal time can be beneficial to everyone.

When my twins were born I vowed to do a lot of things. One of them was to never make a separate kid’s meal from what I was serving myself and my husband.

Of course I wouldn’t serve sushi to a preschooler, but I vowed never to cut off their sandwich crusts and things like that. Our kids would eat whatever I had served just as my mother had expected of me and my brother because I refused to have high-maintenance kids. Granted my youngest, at age three, has a ritual of saying “Ewww, I don’t like it!” when presented with most foods, so sticking to our guns is becoming more difficult. But if we made it through the older three we will with him, too.

Growing up my mom insisted that we try new foods, even if it was just a bite. It made me into an adventurous eater, though I’m still not a fan of pickled Harvard beets in the thick, sweet sauce – but I digress.

The world has enough picky eaters. I’m always shocked when adults will say things like, “Ewww, seafood, I hate it.” If I ask what they don’t like about it they often reply, “I’ve never tried it, it just seems gross.” I have to figure this might be a kid who had his crusts cut from his school sandwiches and had mac and cheese waiting in the wings if he didn’t like what was on the docket for dinner that night.

As a parent to four boys, I don’t have the luxury, nor the desire, to be a short order cook. My kitchen is not a restaurant. My attitude is: try it, if you don’t like it there’s always salad to fill up on. This starts from the first solid foods that pass their little lips. To me, the issue is deeper than just a kid’s vs. adult meal. Making a separate meal for your child sets the precedent that if they don’t like something, they’ll be offered something they do like, and we all know life doesn’t work that way.

It can also turn into a form of disrespect and ungratefulness. Let’s face it, we have all been guests in people’s homes and been served a positively wretched meal but we eat what we can as a show of respect and thanks for being served and their kind effort. Training your kids to be flexible and roll with things – including food – is a key life skill.

One of our twin’s friends joined us for a BBQ and complained that there were grill marks on the hot dog. He refused to eat them, or anything else, so sat there eating a plain hot dog bun. It was pretty embarrassing considering his age. We were once served quail eggs at a child’s birthday party. It was considered a tremendous delicacy in their culture. All of us (including my kids) took one, thanked our friend, and tried a bite.

As stalwart as I was with my “no separate meal” stance I did have a son with special needs who was extremely thin and I worried. He started to refuse dinner so his doctor referred us to a nutritionist who specialized in children with medical issues like our son. I was so frantic to get him to eat I was contemplating making him the dreaded separate kid’s meal. The nutritionist sat me down and said, “Don’t do it. Children don’t starve themselves – even children with medical issues like your son. He will eat when he’s hungry. If he refuses dinner, then he’ll be mighty hungry for breakfast the next morning!”

Because she came recommended by our pediatrician and he agreed with her advice, as did my son’s specialists, I kept a steady course and it turned out that she was right. Sure he went without dinner for a while and I lost a lot of sleep over it, some nights almost barging into his room with a bowl of ice cream because I was worried. 

He did eventually get the message and started eating up at dinnertime. Today he is 14 years old and is almost always the last child at the table happily gobbling up two or three helpings of whatever I’ve served. He had an issue with shrimp for a while there, but one New Year’s Eve at our annual raw bar he decided to go for and it actually liked it! Two thumbs up!

Sure, giving in to chicken nuggets or pizza would have been easier in the short run but long term, not so much. Our other twin ordered roasted goose at the restaurant where we celebrated their 14th birthday this past winter. It wasn’t what he expected exactly but he ate almost all of it.

“Happy to have tried it once in my life,” he said. If I had made him chicken nuggets or mac and cheese every night this may never have happened!

Because my kids have known from day one that a separate meal wasn’t an option there has been some moaning and complaining but overall it has worked. Yes, I know certain foods they don’t prefer but they usually take a few bites anyway as sometimes things you didn’t like as a kid you end up liking later (hello, shrimp!). The effort is worth the end result.

Posted on Categories Food

I Tried Baby‐Led Weaning and My Son Still Hates Vegetables

Some say baby-led weaning can lead to better dexterity and a more sophisticated palate. But it’s not a guarantee they’ll gobble everything up.

There is always a new parenting trend to try. If it makes sense to me, and doesn’t take too much effort, I will likely give it a shot. That’s how I came to baby‐led weaning.

Baby‐led weaning is a fancy term for finger foods. It basically means you skip purees and go straight to real food, food that babies can grab with their fat little hands and gnaw on like animals. This is for babies around six months to a year, when food is a supplement to milk.

According to the trend‐setters/preachers, the method is supposed to improve dexterity early on, get kids acclimated to real food, and introduce them to a wide variety of colorful roughage that promotes healthy eating for a lifetime. Think all children are picky eaters? Not baby‐led weaners, no sir!

As someone who is solid frenemies with food of all shapes and sizes, I’d like my son to have that healthy relationship. If baby‐led weaning was a way to start things off right, I was definitely going to try it. Also, it promised to be quick and easy. I’m cheap and a bit on the hippie side, so store‐bought purees weren’t for me.

The other option was to make baby food. This involves varying degrees of prep, which takes time. Time that is – when you’re dealing with a six-month-old – very much at a premium. Baby‐led weaning involved a little chopping, steaming, cooling, and… done. That sounded good to me.

The verdict?

Let’s start with the good news. Baby‐led weaning was incredibly easy. It took maybe five minutes to get food together for my little guy. Bonus: it was also adorable. I have endless pictures of my son grasping a stick of zucchini, smashing blueberries all over his face, and inhaling broccoli dipped in hummus. The whole process was disgusting and messy and ridiculously cute. (Make sure to put a drop cloth underneath the high chair. And get a dog.)

The bad news? That healthy-relationship-with-food thing. You know, the important part of the whole equation.

My son is now two-and-a-half and he’s just like every other toddler when it comes to food (and tantrums, but that’s another blog post). He’s a picky little monster, surviving on mostly bread and cheese. His love of vegetables? Gone. He will sometimes ask me to dip his broccoli in hummus, but I think it’s just nostalgia. It goes untouched along with the rest of his dinner.

I spend most of my life avoiding foods that are so wrong but feel so right. I run three times a week so that I don’t feel quite as guilty when I go for those nachos or that extra slice of pizza. But the guilt is still there – still way there – and I’d love for my kid not to deal with that.

We’re so lucky to be able to make bad food choices, but we also have the means and access to make good choices, too. I want my son to opt for the good, not because he feels guilty, but because it’s what he wants to do. For his health, yes, but for his taste buds, too. I want people to think he’s weird for wanting veggies instead of fries with his meal. I want him to be that guy who hates soda.

There’s research now that food habits begin in the womb, so… good news, moms-to-be! We get to start this food worry even earlier! As someone currently cooking up a baby, I often feel guilty-for-two every time I go on a cake‐eating binge or finish an entire bag of chips. Sometimes I take a beat, remember how much my son used to hate cake, and realize that habits change. For the worse, yes, sometimes, but maybe for the better, too.

This is why I refuse to make “kid food.” My son eats what the rest of the family eats. He won’t starve; he’ll always have his bread and cheese and fruit. And every now and then, there’s hope, like the chicken marinara he inhaled the other day. He asked me to lick the sauce off first, but I’m calling it a win. And not just because I got all that extra sauce.

I don’t regret trying baby‐led weaning. I do think maybe he would like soup and applesauce a bit more if he had been exposed to purees, but that’s not a huge loss. And again, it was SO easy. Maybe, for new parents, that is the most important thing.

I know I’m going to pass on bad stuff to my kids; that’s something none of us can avoid. The best I can do is keep putting those green beans on my son’s plate, keep ordering a side of spinach for the little one I’m growing, and hope the good will eventually outweigh the bad.

Posted on Categories Analog Life, FoodTags

6 Awesome Podcasts To Enjoy While You’re Cooking Dinner

When I’m dying for a break, I gather my ingredients, make myself a drink (coffee or wine), and catch up on podcasts while I chop and sauté. It’s lovely.

I love making dinner. Food is my thing, so I’m happy to mess around in the kitchen whenever, but I look at dinner prep as an opportunity for a tiny slice of me time.

When I’m dying for a break in the day, I let everyone know that leaving me alone in the kitchen briefly will get us all to the table faster. Then I gather my ingredients, make myself a drink (sometimes iced coffee, sometimes wine), and catch up on podcasts while I chop and sauté. It’s lovely.

I know dinner prep is not every parent’s favorite time of the day, so I came up with a list of essential dinner-making podcasts for everyone from the serious home cook to folks who’d rather be ordering take out.

Shoo your family out of the kitchen, pour yourself a tasty beverage, and cue up one of these. You may find yourself opting for dinner duty more often.

radio

If you want to relax while you prep, I suggest:

1 | The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table began as a Minnesota Public Radio show in 1994. It’s hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, food writer and cooking instructor, whose cookbook “The Splendid Table” won both the James Beard and Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Awards.

This podcast is kind of the thing that got me cooking dinner for my family after our first baby was born. We started listening to it as background noise to the fussiest time of our parenting day: the dinner hour.

Slow paced and relaxing, we found it soothing to listen to knowledgeable folks discuss cooking delicious food, even if we weren’t doing much of it ourselves. But it was so entertaining, we got hooked. We started listening religiously and eventually even tried some of the recipes.

Ms. Kasper sounds like your grandmother’s stylish friend who wears a ton of jewelry and knows everything about everything. During each episode she talks with a food professional (chefs, cookbook writers, restaurateurs) then takes calls from the listening audience and answers cooking questions.

My favorite segment is always “Stump the Chef,” wherein callers give her three ingredients and she comes up with a dish using all of them. Got only pickles, some yogurt, and a carrot in your fridge? She can tell you how to make dinner with it.

Bonus: guest dispatches from Jane and Micheal Stern, authors of the “Roadfood” books and website, sharing their latest delicious discoveries from the highways and byways of America. I need that job.

If you’re a home cook who can’t get enough of food blogs, try:

2 | Burnt Toast by food52

More of what you already love (or should check out, immediately) from the ultimate cooking website, food52. Hosted by Kenzi Wilbur with many special guests, Burnt Toast features recipes, conversations, interviews, and more. I recommend starting with the January 13, 2016 episode: When Kids, Parents, and Grandparents Predict the Future of Food.

If you’re looking for smart and inspiring food-centered conversation with cool creatives I recommend:

3 | The Food Seen

This is my current favorite podcast for any activity. Hosted by photographer Michael Harlan Turkell, it explores the ways food, art, and design intersect in the modern world. Often a discussion between Turkell and a chef, photographer, food stylist, or designer, the episodes focus on a single topic but the discussions take off in sometimes unexpected directions. The guests are hip and engaging and I feel like I always come away with a new idea. I recommend starting with Episode 271: Maple Syrup.

Maybe you couldn’t care less about food blogs or celebrity chef fanatics, and just want to tune into something entirely different while you (reluctantly) cook. If so, I humbly suggest the following. Both have taken me through long hours of recipe testing. Also excellent listening while washing dishes or other general kitchen cleaning drudgery!

If you need a laugh, I suggest:

5  | How Did This Get Made?

Comedians and writers Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas take listener suggestions of horrible movies, watch them, and report back with hilarious, and NSFK (not safe for kids) reviews and commentary. Ludicrously entertaining.

I suggest starting with Episode 109: Face Off: LIVE! And don’t forget the earbuds.

If you’re looking to lose yourself in something absorbing and don’t mind being mildly creeped out, try:

6 | Lore

Writer Aaron Mahnke explores the true stories behind creepy urban legends, and vice versa. I’ve lost myself mid-chop listening to this. Start with Episode 19: Bite Marks. And watch your fingers.

Kid Made Recipe: Let’s Bake! Butter Crunch Coffee Cake

I mean, cereal-themed coffee cake? I don’t want to brag and say that it’s the perfect breakfast treat, but it might be. Try it and see what you think.

Reading baking books and trying out recipes is how I meditate.

But lately my weeknights are too busy to get anything going in the kitchen except dinner, and sometimes even that’s a stretch. So whenever I stumble onto a recipe for something completely awesome I save it in my weekend file.

I love serving up some fresh baked sweets on a weekend morning. My kids dig it, of course, but my reasons are actually selfish. Morning baking helps me set the weekends apart from the workdays, and reminds me to slow my roll and have some fun, dishes be damned.

My go-to cookbook for blissful browsing is “Milkbar” by Christina Tosi, founder and badass head baker of Brooklyn baked goods mecca Momofuku Milkbar. She is the genius behind the concept of “the crunch” – her name for the various salty/sweet buttery mixtures she uses for everything from cake layers to pie crusts.

When I bought the book I immediately became obsessed with the Cornflake Crunch, something like sweet Chex mix with salty, buttery clusters. I loved the stuff so much I set out to come up with my own alternative uses for it.

But even if baking isn’t your thing,  please make some Cornflake Crunch and just eat it.  You won’t believe you made it this far in life without it.

My top three? Spooned over ice cream while still slightly warm from the oven, layered parfait-style with greek yogurt and blueberries, and this cake.

I mean, cereal-themed coffee cake? I don’t want to brag and say that it’s the perfect breakfast treat, but it might be.

Even if baking is not your thing, please make some Cornflake Crunch and just eat it. You won’t believe you made it this far in life without it.

Butter Crunch Coffee Cake

Ingredients For the Cornflake Crunch
  • 5 cups cornflakes, crushed to about 1/4 their usual size
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into small chunks
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 275º F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the cornflakes, powdered milk, 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar, and salt with your hands.
  3. Add the melted butter and toss to combine.
  4. Spread the mixture on a rimmed, parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown with caramelized bits.
  6. Set aside to cool while you make the cake batter.
INGREDIENTS FOR the Butter Crunch Coffee Cake

30 minutes active time, 1 hour 30 minutes total time

  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups full fat plain yogurt
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on low speed, until well combined.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat again on low until well blended.
  5. In another bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon until combined.
  6. Add about a quarter of the flour mixture to the mixer and blend on low speed until combined.
  7. Add about 1/3 of the yogurt and blend again.
  8. Continue alternating flour mixture and yogurt until everything is combined.
  9. Do not overmix. A little bit of lumpiness will produce a better cake texture than a super smooth batter.
Baking Instructions
  • Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan or line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • Pour batter into your prepared pan.
  • Combine the cooled cornflake crunch with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits, and the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  • Use your hands to incorporate, making sure the extra butter and sugar are evenly distributed.
  • Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the batter.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, then check the center with a toothpick. It may need 5-10 more minutes depending on your oven. When the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes or so before cutting.
  • Enjoy!
Posted on Categories Analog Life, Food

Kid Made Recipe: Everything You Need to Pull Off An Impressive Mother’s Day Brunch

You don’t need to plan for weeks to host a delicious, beautiful Mother’s Day brunch at your place. One trip to the market and minimal prep will set you up.

Moms deserve to be celebrated every day, obviously. But Mother’s Day can really sneak up on you (dads, I’m looking your way).

Relax. Just because you haven’t been planning for weeks doesn’t mean you can’t make it special – and super delicious.  You can totally host a killer brunch at your place, with one trip to the market and minimal preparation.

Here’s a list of easy brunch hacks that will help you impress the heck out of any mom in your life and show her how much you appreciate her, even if you wait until the last minute.

Flowers

If you’re hosting Mother’s Day brunch at your place, get some flowers. Not to give as gifts, though that’s nice, too, but because they’re a quick way to add some beauty and style to the table. Several inexpensive bouquets from the grocrey store will do the trick. Get lots of one single kind – daisies! roses! – or a mix of colors and shapes, and arrange them in a few different sized vases on the table.

Mimosas

It is brunch after all. Plus, fancy drinks always take a party to the next level. My hack? Make a mimosa bar. Provide champagne (and/or seltzer) on ice and a few juice choices. Mango, cherry,  orange, strawberry-kiwi, pineapple – go for it.  And don’t forget the garnishes: lemon, lime, and strawberry slices, and fresh cherries with stems.

The Food!

Here are some go-to recipes that are easy, but still fancy and delicious enough to qualify as party food. Make them all, or mix-and-match depending on the number of folks you’re feeding.

Potato Scallion Frittata (serves 8)

Ingredients
  • 1 lb small yellow potatoes (like fingerlings) washed and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, green parts only, chopped
  • 18 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • a few Tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
Prep
  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Add the potatoes to a medium saucepan of salted water, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender enough to pierce with a fork but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until frothy. Set aside.
  • In a 10-12 inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and starting to brown – about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and mix to combine, careful not to break up the potatoes too much.
  • Add the egg mixture and cook, using a rubber spatula, carefully lifting the edges once the bottom sets a bit to let uncooked egg run underneath. When the eggs are slightly set around the edges sprinkle the scallions over the top and put the skillet into the preheated oven, Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is set and just starting to brown. Let cool slightly before cutting.

Sweet corn bread

INGREDIENTS
  • 1  cup yellow corn meal
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk just add a splash of white vinegar to the same amount of regualr milk)
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 3 Tbsp honey
PREP
  • Preheat oven to 450
  • In a large bowl, sift together corn meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In another bowl mix the milk, buttermilk, egg, and melted butter.
  • Slowly add to the dry ingredients and mix gently until they’re all incorporated. Add the honey and corn kernels and fold gently. Don’t overmix!
  • In a 10-12 inch ovenproof skillet, melt the 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. When it’s all melted and the skillet is hot, add the cornbread batter. It should sizzle a little! Cook for just 2 -3 minutes until the bottom sets and looks slightly crispy around the edges, then pop it in the preheated oven, on a rack near the top. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the top is golden brown. Let cool 10-15 minutes before cutting.

Breakfast flatbread (Serves 8)

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 package store bought pizza dough, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 eggs
PREP
  • Preheat your oven to 450.
  • Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Using lightly floured hands or a rolling pin,  stretch the pizza dough out the fit the pan into a large rectangle or oval.
  • Brush with the olive oil, then sprinkle the minced garlic and pepper slices evenly around.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Spread the grated cheese around evenly.
  • Carefully crack the eggs, keeping yolks intact, and place them on the dough, avoiding the edges.
  • Carefully place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until the crust is golden brown, the cheese is bubbly and the eggs are set.
  • Yolks will still be runny.
  • Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and more salt and pepper if desired.

Lemon garlic asparagus

Ingredients
  • 1 lb asparagus, washed, and trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 large lemon,  sliced into rounds
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper
Prep
  • Preheat your oven to 400
  • Spread the asparagus on a large rimmed baking sheet and gently toss with the olive oil, salt, lemon juice, and pepper to taste.
  • Scatter 5 or 6 lemon slices over the asparagus.
  • Roast for 12-15 minutes or until bright green and just beginning to soften – you still want the spears to have a little bite.
  • Serve with extra lemon slices.

Puff Pastry Berry Shortcake (makes 9 shortcakes, recipe can be doubled)

Ingredients
  • 3 cups mixed fresh berries
  • 3 cups sweetened whipped cream ( 1 1/2  cups heavy cream if you’re making it yourself)
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry , thawed and cut into 9 squares
Prep
  • Preheat your oven to 400.
  • Arrange the pastry squares on a parchment lined baking sheet and set aside while the oven heats.
  • Gently mix the berries, sugar, honey, and lemon juice in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Bake the pastry for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

Don’t forget the card!

This is important. Store bought Mother’s Day cards can be cheesy, but handmade cards from the heart are always great, even if your elementary school years are far behind you.

Now pull up a chair, raise a mimosa, and tell that mom you love her!

Kid Made Recipe: 5 Impressive (And Really Easy) Bake Sale Recipes for Every Occasion

The coming of spring means the family calendar gets crazy. Here are 5 VIP treats that look impressive and will have kids and adults coming back for more.

If your life is anything like mine, the coming of spring means the family calendar gets crazy.

Little League, school concerts, fundraisers, classroom celebrations. Suddenly your inbox is flooded with requests for baked goods. Don’t panic. Even if you don’t bake, you can get through this season in style, with your kitchen and sanity intact.

Here are five VIP treats that look impressive and will have kids and adults coming back for more. You’re on gluten-free duty? School has a “healthy stuff only” rule? No time to get to the grocery store? I’ve got you covered.

If you want to: Be Your Kid’s Hero

Fruity Pebble Krispie Treats

Follow the traditional recipe on the Rice Krispie box http://www.ricekrispies.com/recipes/the-original-treats  but use those multi-colored and flavored fruity pebbles instead of the plain ones.

If all that artificial color freaks you out, this also works well with cocoa krispies, but has less of a wow visual factor.

Obviously, either way these are straight up sugar bombs, so cut small pieces accordingly.

Provide Something Healthy(ish)

 Dark Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Coconut

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Ok, there’s still the dark chocolate. But everyone says it’s basically health food these days, so let’s roll with it.

  • Melt a bag of dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips in a saucepan over low heat with a teaspoon of coconut oil, whisking until it’ smooth.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Lay a sheet of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet.
  • Wash and dry the berries – you’ll have enough chocolate to dip about 30.
  • Holding by the leaves, dip and swirl berries one at a time in the chocolate, so they’re coated about halfway up.
  • Lay them on the paper and sprinkle with unsweetened shredded coconut.

You can keep them at room temp until the chocolate solidifies, or put them in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to speed up the process. To transport, make sure the chocolate is no longer gooey, then cover loosely with plastic wrap.

If You Need To: Get All Your Supplies at the Corner Store

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwiches

I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood that boasts several old-fashioned corner stores. When I’m in a pinch, which is often, I rely on them for all kinds of daily necessities that seem to disappear faster than I can replenish them in my house – mainly milk, toilet paper, and hot sauce.

But I’ve also discovered that one can pull decent last-minute treats together with only corner store loot. If you have one near you and you need snacks stat, you could buy a few boxes of those weird chocolate covered donuts, or you could grab ritz crackers, peanut butter, and chocolate chips (three or four Hershey bars will work too) and make these.

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  • Melt the chocolate chips in a small sauce pan over low heat, stirring gently, until they’re smooth.
  • Turn off the heat and set aside. Make 12-15 sandwiches with crackers and peanut butter, then use a fork to lower those babies one at a time into the melted chocolate until they’re coated.
  • Let the excess drip off, then lay them on a piece of parchment or wax paper to firm up. You can put them in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to speed up the process.

Warning: these are highly addictive, especially to lovers of peanut butter cups.

If You Need to: Give Parents a Reason to Make it Through the 2-Hour Band Concert

Nutella Brownies

The band AND the orchestra are playing? HOW many songs? Better bring some rations for the  parents.

There are a million recipes for these on the internet and they’re all ridiculously easy.  Here’s my version:

  • Spray an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with cooking spray.
  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • Whisk the following ingredients together until smooth:
    • 2 cups of Nutella
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pour into the greased pan and bake for 20-24 minutes until the top has a shiny look and the edges are firm.
  • Let cool in the pan completely before cutting.

These are SUPER rich so cut small squares, and don’t forget to stash a few in your bag.

If You Need to: Wow the Gluten and/or Dairy-free Crowd

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes

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Admittedly, I don’t do much gluten or dairy-free baking, but I do like having a few kick ass recipes in my pocket for when the need arises. It always makes me sad to see a gluten free or vegan kid at the bake sale table with no options. And folks with diet sensitivities simply should not to have to eat crappy baked goods.

I found this recipe on the excellent Food52 site and I looooooove it. Recipe is vegan as-is, to go gluten-free just omit the regular flour and substitute a gluten free mix.

Bake Sale glory is yours!

Posted on Categories Analog Life, Food

Kid Made Recipe: Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Make the best homemade tacos you’ve ever had without touching your stove Taco Night, I didn’t think I could love you more.

Slow Cookers are kitchen bosses.

I absolutely love mine, though I’m not one of the fanatics who think you can and should make everything in them. If I want lasagna, or say, brownies, I still think the regular old oven is the way to go. But there are some things slow cookers do better than anything else.

Mine used to get the most action in the winter, naturally.  I could never figure out a way to use it in the warmer months, even though I rarely want to turn on the oven in the summer. Then I discovered a way to make the most delicious spicy shredded chicken – with literally almost no work.

It may be a bold claim, but I believe that with this recipe, you will make the best homemade tacos you’ve ever had without touching your stove. Plus the leftovers can make even more oven-free meals – sandwiches, salads, burritos! Taco Night, I didn’t think I could love you more.

Make these for your family on Cinco De Mayo, and it may just become your new favorite holiday.

Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Serves 4-6 (with leftover chicken!) You need a 4 qt or larger slow cooker

For the chicken

  • 3-4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1  4.5 oz can of Chipotle peppers in Adobo (found in the salsa section)
  • 1 tsp of salt

Put the chicken in the slow cooker and sprinkle with the salt. Add the chipotles with their sauce.

My family loves the spice, so I use the whole can. If you want your chicken more on the mild (but still delicious) side, use half the contents of the can and save the rest.

Close it up and set it for as long as you can. I find the longer you can leave it in there the better. I like to try to get it going before the kids leave for school and set it for 8 hours, but in a pinch 4 hours will get the job done.

When  the time is up, open carefully to let the steam escape.

Using tongs or a fork, remove the peppers and discard.

Use a ladle or large spoon to remove about a cup of the liquid from the cooker.

Then use two forks to shred the chicken. It should be very very tender and practially fall apart. Keep warm in the slow cooker until you’re ready to serve.

For the red cabbage slaw

  • 4 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup green or savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup kale leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch scallions, thinly sliced horizontally (divide in half and use half for garnishing the finished tacos)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 small lime
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • generous sprinkling of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so if you can before serving to let the flavors really come together.

For garnish (use any or all of these, in any combination)

  • crumbled goat cheese
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • salsa or hot sauce
  • sliced scallions
  • Roughly chopped cilantro leaves

To serve

Use small flour or corn tortillas – as many as you think you’ll need. My family members eat an average of 3 tacos each, but admittedly we have big appetites. Do your own math. I usually buy a 10 count package of each so we’ve got tortillas for leftovers the next day.

Warm the tortillas slightly in a low oven for a few minutes before serving. Set everything out on the table and have at it.

Have a go-to taco night recipe at your house? We’d love to hear about it!