Gift Children a Cookbook for Valentine’s Day

Instead of  giving candy for Valentine’s Day, gift your children a cookbook that will keep them cooking and enjoying food all year around. Cooking Around the Calendar with Kids – Holiday and Seasonal Food and Fun has a section of easy recipes for Valentine’s Day.

Help children celebrate Valentine’s Day with a Tea Party complete with party games. Have them invite their friends and have a game of A-Tisket-A-Basket. Serve red and white food such as Apple Arrows. Slice red apples into wedges. Dip into lemon juice to prevent turning brown and arrange on plate.

A gift of a book will make a special remembrance for a special child. Get it here at Amazon.

Make Your Own Stuff

Healthy New Year!
Image by flickrich via Flickr

Did you know it really feels good to make your own stuff? Whether the “stuff” is making a drawing or picture, making a model airplane, or getting food ready to eat. When you make your own stuff for meals you can really feel creative and empowered.

And what would be a good dish to make for a meal, you ask? My favorite go-to meal consists of roasted vegetables and a protein food.

Roast Vegetables

You just scrub well and cut up any vegetables you have on hand. This might be foods such as potatoes (white or sweet), carrots, onion, garlic, green pepper, celery, mushrooms, squash, broccoli and others.

Then you dribble a little virgin olive oil over them, stir well to distribute the oil, splash a little balsamic vinegar over them and that’s it. Spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or other large flat pan. Roast in 425 degree oven about 30 minutes.

Using a long handled spatula, periodically stir them to prevent them from sticking to the bottom.

They will come out with a nice dark color, maybe a little too brown in spots, but crispy and oh, so good. You start out with a large amount and end up with a much small smaller portion when they are through roasting. The flavor is delicious.

For your protein, add any cooked chicken, hamburger, or roast beef. Or you can just sprinkle shredded Parmesan cheese over the vegetables and have a one dish meal.

To your health,

Chef Crombie

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National Nutrition Month Suggestions

MIAMI - AUGUST 06:  Meaghan Cooligan bites int...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

As we are winding down the month of March, National Nutrition Month, I wanted to summarize six “good health” ideas that can get powerful results. For your well-being, these are suggestions for everyday living that can boost health and energy.

1. Focus on fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of fruit. Try to include 2 a day. Berries and citrus fruits are especially good choices.

2. Vary your veggies. Eat more yellow and dark green vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli and dark leafy vegetables. Tomatoes, onions, pepper, celery, mushrooms, cabbage and cauliflower are other good selections.

3. Eat whole grains in moderation. This could include whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, rice and pasta.

4. Choose lean meats and use healthy cooking methods like baking, braising and broiling. Proteins are the building blocks of growth. Protein foods include beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and eggs. Salmon and fish, as long as they are shown to be safe from mercury and other toxins, are also good protein sources.

5. Young children need whole milk or 2 percent for calcium. Yogurt and cheese are also rich in calcium.

6. Choose foods low in saturated fats and no transfats. Healthy fats and oils include butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts.

7. Spare the sugar. Sugar is not an essential nutrient. Our taste buds have become acclimated to the sweet taste. However, we can live very easily, and sometimes, better, without sugar.

This is the guide the Chef uses to maintain vigor and good health.

Best to you,

Crombie

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Pre-School Kitchen Activities

Home Cooking Party: Appetizer - Tomato-Basil B...Image by panduh via Flickr

Most pre-school children love to “work” in the kitchen, just like grown-ups. Cooking with children can be a challenge, but it can also be a great experience for both child and adult.

Here are some jobs many preschoolers can do in the kitchen with a little supervision:

  • pre-measure ingredients for recipes
  • stir ingredients in a bowl
  • set the table
  • wash foods in a colander
  • core, tear and rinse lettuce
  • tear spinach
  • snap beans
  • shell peas
  • prepare garlic cloves
  • peel bananas
  • stem strawberries
  • pit cherries
  • peel oranges
  • knead dough
  • crack cooked eggs
  • beat with rotary beater
  • spread filling on bread
  • grease pans
  • cut dates with blunt scissors
  • cut soft foods using a rounded point knife, no paring knives

With a little help and encouragement, children can become competent and enthusiastic cooks.

Happy and healthy cooking with kids,

Chef Crombie

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Fresh Pineapple Gives Your Health a Boost

Manoj.TV This plant is extremely tall.Image via Wikipedia

Pineapples grow in warm climates and are native to South America. In their natural form, they have rough, prickly exteriors.  Early tribal natives called this “anan” or “excellent fruit”. Later it was called “pineapple” for its resemblance to a pine cone. It is known for its intense sweetness. juiciness, and excellent flavor.

Historians tell us Christopher Columbus discovered pineapple on one of his journeys to new lands and brought it back to Europe. Here the people were largely without any common sweet foods. Most of the sweets came from fruits grown, but each had a limited growing season. Sugar refined from cane was imported from the Middle East and the Orient but this, too, was very expensive.

Later pineapple was introduced to the New World. It was still very rare and high priced. Only the upper class could afford to have this adorn their tables. The whole pineapple was as exquisite as was the inside ripe, yellow, juicy pulp.

Now we continue to prize this fruit for its excellent flavor and nutritional value, largely vitamin C and potassium. Many grocery stores have the pineapples cut up, although this can be done at home by an adult. The outside is very hard and rough but the flavor on the inside is well worth the trouble of cutting and slicing.

The pineapple can be cut into wedges or chunks. Then insert a toothpick into each. Now you are ready for an instant treat in the manner of the early nobility.

To your good health,

Chef Crombie

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Cooking at Home – The New Survival Tactic

Image via Wikipedia

Aren’t you glad you know your way around the kitchen and can prepare good food for yourself and others?  Hopefully the recipes in this blog have helped you come up with some tasty dishes to set before the king (I mean, friends or family).

The media tells us we are in a new era of thrift. There is a suggestion we may not be able to eat out as often as we would like. Perhaps the days are gone when everyone can go out for pizza or hamburger after a game.

This is not all bad. Think of the money you are saving. You can still invite your friends over for snacks. These late winter days continue to call for some popcorn popping time or quick and easy snacks like the following:

Bagel Pizzas

2 bagel halves
About 4 tablespoons or more
of tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 cup grated cheese
Toppings of your choice

Place bagel halves on a cookie sheet with cut side up. Spread with tomato sauce and oregano. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Add any toppings such as pepperoni, cooked hamburger or sausage, olives, extra cheese, or what is available. You or an adult helper can put the pan in a hot oven (375 degrees) until cheese melts.

Should be yummy, especially eating with your friends or family.

Here’s to your happy “cooking at home” days,

Chef Crombie

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How to Have an Instant Breakfast

Dried fruit and nuts on a platter, traditional...Image via Wikipedia

Here is another breakfast hint – have a Breakfast Drawer for an instant meal.

In this Breakfast Drawer you can have foods that are easy and fast to prepare. That way you don’t have to think, or worry, what you will eat for breakfast.

This list of quick foods will take you through the morning with a smile!

Single serving cereal boxes
Instant oatmeal packets
Cereal bars
Whole grain crackers
Dried fruit
Nuts
Vegetable and tomatoe canned juices
Fruit juices in small cans
Small cans of fruit

This is a quick and easy solution to the morning rush.

Yours for better breakfasts,
Chef Crombie

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Cooking at Home – Meal for Four in Less than 25 Minutes

Burrito at Papa Chevo'sImage via Wikipedia

Why go out to eat if you can whip up a tasty meal in less time than it takes to stop for fast food. You may need to add a few ingredients to your grocery list so you have them on hand. Planning is the key.

This is an easy recipe kids will enjoy. Adult may need to do the cooking of the meat, depending on young helper’s age. But children can help prepare vegetables and roll up their finished product.

These burritos use the “other white meat – pork” for the protein. With a skillful blend of vegetables, spices and seasonings, you will have a delicious meal ready to go. Here is the recipe. It is an adaption from the Minnesota Pork Producers Association.

South of the Border Burritos

1 pound lean ground pork
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup green pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 cups coleslaw mix with carrots
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cumin
4 (10 inch) whole wheat tortillas, warmed
Garnish with fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook pork in large frypan over medium heat. Break up meat with fork while it cooks. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, and ginger. Cook until vegetables are soft and pork is not longer pink. If there is excess fat, pour it off.

Add coleslaw mix and stir-fry with pork until vegetables are wilted.

In small bowl, combine oil, soy sauce, juice, and honey. Add to fry pan. Cook, stirring gently until all ingredients are heated through and blended.

Spoon burrito mixture evenly onto warm tortillas and roll up. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Makes four servings.

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Making Cupcakes Using Your Baking Skills


OK, let’s practice some of your good baking skills by making something sweet today. These cupcakes are so light and fluffy you can see why they are called Fairy cakes in Britain! Cupcakes are great for taking to a friend’s house for tea, taking to your class bake sale, making for birthday parties or just baking for fun on the weekend.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can easily mix it all up in the food processor, so it is really quick to make. So it’s perfect for those times when you remember a school bake sale only just before bedtime the day before.

You can have fun with the frosting on these too. If there is some food coloring in the pantry, try experimenting with colors … you’ll find you don’t need very many drops of red color to get bright Barbie pink. Make one bowl of white frosting and one of pink and get creative with two tone patterns. If you don’t have any food coloring in the house you can add a tablespoon of cocoa to the powdered sugar to make chocolate frosting.

Light and Fluffy Cupcake Recipe

1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
½ cup / one stick soft butter
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Collect together these things: the food processor, 12 cup muffin tray, paper muffin cases, measuring cups.

Put all the ingredients except the milk into the food processor and blitz it.

Add 2 tablespoon of the milk and blitz again. It should be smooth and drop easily off a spoon when you tip it. If it is still too thick, add the last spoon of milk.

Put a paper muffin case in each cup of the muffin tin.

Use a dessert spoon to dollop the mixture into each of the cases.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes – they should be a light golden brown when cooked and if you gently touch the top of one it should be springy and not leave a dent in it.

Cool them on a rack.

When they are cool it is time to play with the frosting. The simplest frosting is just powdered sugar mixed with a little water. For this amount of cakes use 2 cups of powdered sugar and add 1 tablespoon of water at a time – you’ll be surprised how little water you need to make it into a thick but smooth paste. Add coloring a few drops at a time and mix well to see what color you’ve got to.

Put about one teaspoon of icing onto each cupcake, let it drizzle down the sides and then add sprinkles or make letters with silver balls.

If your Mom has a piping bag for frosting, ask her to let you experiment with it on your cupcakes. With the smallest nozzle fitted you can try drawing simple shapes and patterns with a contrasting color frosting, for totally cool personalized cupcakes!