Tag Archives: family
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bunnicula by James Howe.
Well, school is in session, and since we seem incapable of experiencing any down time between holidays, all the mini fridges and Trapper Keepers are being pulled and replaced with shrieking skeleton heads and bags and bags of candy. Friends, it is officially the start of Halloween season! Personally, I couldn’t be more pleased. I love all the masks, monsters, and makeup. Pumpkins, papier-mâché skeletons, and party favors. It’s also time to bring in a new collection of spooky stories to share!
My son is now old enough to move past the cutesy Halloween picture books and tackle some heavier material. A couple of those old picture books will forever have a place in my heart, but I’m super excited to share with him the classic vampire story, Bunnicula. Narrated by the family dog, Harold, this story introduces us to the most unusual family of pets I know of. While Harold is very much a family dog, interested in snacks and naps, his companion, a cat named Chester, is a little different. He’s well-read and a little paranoid. When the family comes home one rainy night with a bunny they discovered in the movie theater, Chester is immediately wary. And as he begins to put the pieces together, wariness turns to suspicion, to fear. For it becomes clear that this is no ordinary rabbit. For one thing, he only wakes up at night. For another, he can slip in and out of his locked cage in mysterious way. And when Chester discovers that vegetables are suddenly turning bone-white, his fears are confirmed. This bunny is a VAMPIRE!
A little bit spooky, and a whole lot of fun, this book is a great family read to offer goose bumps and laughs in equal measure. Ages 6+
Post by Alison Hein.
I have been remiss. I’ve shared with you my recipes for Toasted Maple Corn Muffins and for Corn Bread Hot Browns. Even Fried Cornmeal Mush! But somehow in all this corn madness, I’ve neglected to provide my favorite recipe for simple Corn Bread.
This sturdy but crumbly quick bread can be whipped up inside 30 minutes. It’s nearly as easy as a boxed mix, and much more delicious. I like to break up the sugar content with a little honey, with its old-fashioned sweetness, texture and depth. Then, I like to reprise that flavor with some homemade, spreadable Honey Butter. There’s nothing like a gooey glob of it melting into some oven-hot corn bread.
For best results, use a pure, stone-ground corn meal. I sometimes buy it from a local living history farm, where they grind organic corn into meal in a 300-year old working gristmill. The rich, coarse meal, ground fresh, makes the perfect base for a batch of bread.
My husband always enjoys a basket of fresh corn bread beside a bowl of spicy chili, and I often make some to go with dinner, when I’ve forgotten to buy bread or rolls. But best of all, I like to cut a thick yellow square of bread in half, toast it to a crumbly gold, slather it with honey-sweet butter, and enjoy a crazy, corny breakfast in bed.
1½ cups corn meal
¾ cup white flour
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
¼ cup corn oil
⅓ cup honey
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 350°. In large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In separate bowl, mix together milk and eggs. Stir milk mixture into dry ingredients. Add corn oil and honey, mixing in well.
Spoon into greased 8×8-inch pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown, or until toothpick in center comes out clean. You can also use 2 cast iron mini-corn molds, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
To make Honey Butter, add softened butter to small bowl. Stir in honey and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Post by Alison Hein.
We were preparing for our last outdoor party of the season. I always like to have at least one hearty vegetarian dish. This time, I was making Baked Vegetable Enchiladas – pure corn tortillas filled with a medley of vegetables and cheese and baked in a spicy tomato sauce. As I was mixing up the filling, I thought, why not save some of this for a spicy, Latin-style egg bake?
So, out came my cute little mini-cast iron pots (easy to buy from Lodge or use other small baking dishes). To my mixture of cumin-spiced black beans, spinach, corn and green onion, I added a little Monterey Jack cheese and a few eggs. I poured the concoction into the pots and covered them with a crumbling of Mexican queso fresco (you can substitute any kind of semi-firm cheese). Then I popped them in the oven and made a cilantro-lime sour cream sauce as a topping.
A quick thirty minutes later, we were enjoying a vegetarian, Mexican-style breakfast in bed.
1 tablespoon black beans
1 tablespoon chopped spinach
1 tablespoon corn kernels
1 tablespoon sliced green onion
1 tablespoon Monterey Jack cheese
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons queso fresco, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, plus 2 sprigs for garnish
1 teaspoon lime juice
2 mini-cast iron pots (or substitute any ½-pint baking dishes, such as ramekins)
Preheat oven to 350°. Add black beans, spinach, corn kernels, Monterey Jack cheese, and cumin to a large mixing bowl and stir together. Crack eggs into medium bowl and whisk until thick and smooth. Add to vegetable / cheese mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover tops with crumbled queso fresco.
Lightly oil mini-cast iron pots (½-pint baking dishes). Pour egg mixture evenly into each pot. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes, until eggs are cooked through and puffed up.
While eggs bake, make sour cream cilantro sauce. Add sour cream, cilantro and lime juice to a small bowl and mix well.
To serve, remove eggs from oven. Place an equal amount of sour cream cilantro sauce on each and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Serve immediately with hot sauce on the side.
NOTE: If you would like a spicier, non-vegetarian version, add a little chopped chorizo to the mix before baking.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Alison Hein.
You know how they say that desperation, starvation, uh necessity, is the mother of invention? Case in point – after returning from vacation, I found that our cupboards (and fridge) were bare. Hungry, yet not wanting to shop yet, I decided to create my very own Blue Plate Special.
To me, this means a meal scrounged from scraps and served on a blue plate. J Wikipedia, however, describes a Blue Plate Special as “a term used in the United States by restaurants, diners and cafes. It refers to a specially low-priced meal, usually changing daily. The term was very common from the 1920s through the 1950s, but it is a vanishing tradition.”
So I foraged and found some stale (but not moldy) Ciabatta rolls, then sliced off the ends to make two lovely slices of thick, hearty bread, just right for toasting. Now, what to put on it? As luck would have it, I located an egg, and some pungent sharp cheddar. I decided to cook the egg over easy, and melt a bit of the strong cheese on top. Yet my sandwich was still missing something (a thick slice of bacon or salty ham would have worked wonders, but to no avail). I settled for a satisfying squirt of sweet mayonnaise. Surprising and tangy, my Blue Plate Special turned out to be a very repeatable breakfast in bed that’s here to stay.
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices Ciabatta bread (or other hearty style bread)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon (or 1 thin slice) sharp cheddar cheese
Mayonnaise, to taste
Fresh lettuce and tomatoes, for garnish
Melt butter in heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add Ciabatta bread and toast until rich and golden on both sides, flipping once. Remove from heat.
At the same time, heat oil over medium heat in small frying pan. Crack egg into pan. Reduce heat to medium low. Season egg with salt and pepper and fry on one side until cooked on the bottom but still soft on top. Gently flip the egg (over easy) and place the cheddar cheese on top. Cover with tight fitting lid and turn off heat. Allow to sit for a minute or two until cooked to your preference. Put a little mayonnaise on each of the toasted bread slices. Place egg one slice of toast and cover with the other to make a sandwich. Serve immediately with a little fresh lettuce and tomatoes on the side, if you like.
Makes one breakfast sandwich.
Post by Alison Hein.
Summer is flying by, and I can’t believe I haven’t shared any blueberry recipes this season. Well, we’re about to rectify that with these berry-rich creamy crêpes. The blueberry crop was lush and bountiful this year, and if you look around, you should still be able to find perfectly ripe, tangy-skinned, sweet-fleshed berries.
Thin, lightly sweetened crêpes are filled with a creamy blueberry spread, then rolled and topped with thick, zesty blueberry sauce. First, make the sauce with fresh fruit, simmering the berries stovetop until they burst and meld. Next, prepare the sweet, blended berry and cream cheese filling (also great for spreading on bagels). Finally, make the thin pancakes and assemble the final dish. Add a sprig of mint, if you like, for garnish. Voila! The berry best kind of breakfast in bed.
2 cups (1 dry pint) blueberries
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Add blueberries, water, sugar and vanilla to small, heavy pot. Place on stove over high heat and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, until blueberries are soft and popped open, and syrup is thickened. Set aside and allow to cool. Syrup will continue to thicken while cooling, so adjust cooking time to your preference.
Makes about 1 ½ cups of syrup.
¼ cup blueberries
6 ounces whipped cream cheese
4 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Puree blueberries in blender. Mix in cream cheese, sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Set aside until ready to assemble crêpes.
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
In large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Whisk egg into milk, then whisk milk mixture into flour mixture until batter is thick and smooth. Let batter rest a few minutes before cooking.
Heat about 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy 6-inch pan over medium heat. When hot, but not smoking, add ¼ cupful of batter to pan, swirling to cover bottom. Cook crêpe 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned, flipping once. Keep warm while cooking remaining crêpes, monitoring heat and adding oil as necessary.
To assemble, place crêpes on serving plates. Spread each crêpe with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream cheese filling. Roll up, and top with Blueberry Sauce. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 to 7 crêpes.