Tag Archives: Cookbook

Baking, Bonding and Getting Ready For The Holidays + GIVEAWAY

1 Nov

This is my favorite time of year.  With the Holidays quickly approaching and the weather getting colder, baking is one of our favorite after-school activities.  We bake for friends, family, parties, and Holiday gatherings.  I always include my girls in our baking activities because it’s a great way to bond, talk about the day, and it’s a wonderful learning experience.  They learn which ingredients go into mixtures.  My oldest is learning to read, so she works on reading the recipe and helps find ingredients while we are shopping. 20141101-084017-31217875.jpg 20141101-084020-31220728.jpg We recently spent a few afternoons making the most delicious Jam-Filled Sandwich Cookies from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi (recipe and giveaway at end of post). When baking with kids, it always takes a little longer (or double the estimated time).  To start our baking adventure, we were lucky to work Driscoll’s and made home-made Rasperry Jam which was absolutely delicious. We used Driscoll’s rasperries and this recipe.  It was such a fun activity, especially since it was a rainy day, and it makes enough to give as a gift or use for breakfast or lunch.  It takes a while so I recommend making it a day or two before you plan to make the cookies. Jam 20141101-084016-31216029.jpg Next, up was making the cookie dough.  Before you start keep in mind the dough needs to be refrigerated so if you don’t have enough time to do it all in one day, you can place it in an air tight container and finish the next day.  We ran into that problem but it worked.  We started putting all the ingredients together to make the dough.  My daughter couldn’t believe that we didn’t need eggs.  After the dough was ready, I had my girls pick a few cookie cutters. Dorie uses a 2-inch round cutter but since it was the Holidays my girls wanted to add a twist and make a few other types of cookies.  We tried to find cutters that would be easy to fill and pinch together to keep the jam from spilling out the sandwich. The dough can crack easily.  Use a little water and push it back together. After the cookies were finished, we added decorations (because my girls love to decorate after baking) and colored sugar sprinkles instead of regular sugar. DSC_0041 jamcookie Here’s what we made: DSC_0221 Halloween Ghosts & Pumpkins DSC_0233 20141101-084014-31214180.jpg DSC_0229 Hearts DSC_0235 DSC_0236 DSC_0239 Frozen Lovers or Winter Wonderland DSC_0252 We shared our cookies with friends and left some for dad when he came home.  Everyone thought the cookies were “amazingly delicious”.  We can’t wait to bring some to Thanksgiving.  We are also excited to bake more of Dorie’s desserts this Holiday season. GIVEAWAY:  One lucky reader will have the opportunity to win a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi and $15 in Driscoll’s Coupons.  Enter HERE for your chance to win!  Good luck and happy baking!

Thank you to everyone for following and entering, I hope you have a happy Holiday season!

Picture 2

Dorrie Greenspan’s Jam-Filled Sandwhiches (Makes about 12 sandwich cookies. Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup (60 grams) Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 oz; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (43 grams) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • About 3/4 cup (240 grams) jam, for filling
  • Sugar, for sprinkling
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

Directions: Position a large strainer over the bowl of your stand mixer, or over a large bowl if you are going to use a hand mixer, and shake the confectioners’ sugar through it.  Drop the pieces of butter into the bowl, add the sugar and beat at low speed with the paddle attachment or hand mixer, until smooth. Put the strainer over the bowl again, add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt, stir them around to combine and shake them onto the butter mixture.  Pulse the mixer a few times, so you don’t have flying flour, then beat on low speed until the dough comes together.  You’ll hit a stage where the dough is crumbly, mix on.  In another minute or so, the dough will come together and just about clean the sides of the bowl, your signal to stop mixing. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide it in half.  Shape each half into a disk, kneading the dough gently if necessary to pull it together and shape it. Put one piece of dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper and roll it to a thickness of about an 1/8 inch.  Don’t worry about the shape of the dough. Slide the papaer-sandwiched dough onto a cutting board or baking sheet.  Repeat with the second piece of dough (you can stack the pieces).  Refigerate the dough for at lease two hours.  (Wrapped well, the dough can be refrigerated for up to two days or frozen for up to two months.  Defrost frozen dough for 5-10 minutes before cutting.) WHEN YOU’RE READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheers with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Pull one piece of dough from the refrigerator and cut out the cookies.  (Leave the bottom piece of paper in place so that if the dough gets soft and needs a quick chill, you can easily trasport it.) Use a 2-inch round cutter, but you can cut these a little larger, if you’d like (of course the yield will be less).  Dorrie doesn’t advise using smaller than 2-inches because they’ll be too difficult to fill.  Place the cookies on the baking sheet, an inch or so apart, and refrigerate while you cut the second piece of dough (reserve scraps).  Put the second set of cookies on the other baking sheet; refrigerate. Gather the scraps from both pieces of doug, press them together and roll the dough until it’s an 1/8 inch thick, then chill until firm enough to cut and make more cookies. Spoon a little jam onto the center half of the chilled rounds- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon is sufficient for a 2-inch cookie.  Dip your finger into a bowl of water and, one at a time, lightly moisten the edges of each round, top with an uncovered round and press gently to seal.  Sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating the pan at the midway point, or until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and colored only around the edges.  The tops may crack, and thats fine.  Carefully transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool to room temperature. Bake the second sheet of cookies, then cut and bake the remaining dough, making sure the baking sheet is cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if you’d like, right before serving. Disclaimer: I received a copy of Baking Chez Moi and coupons and a gift card to Whole Foods for ingredients.  All opinions expressed are my own.  The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking Chez Moi.  Thank you to Driscoll’s Berries for introducing us to this amazing recipe.  We can’t wait to try more!

Downtown Bookworks: The Do It Myself Kids’ Cookbook and Other Great Books

7 Feb

Image from downtownbookworks.com

Downtown Bookworks is a children’s publishing company founded two years ago by Julie Merberg.  Julie is a mom of four and tests everything out on her own children. Their “mission is to raise a new generation of book lovers with books that engage, entertain, educate and feel good in small hands”.  Initially, I reached out to Downtown Bookworks for the The Do It My-Self Kids’ Cookbook but Julie invited me to their office to see more of their books.  They offer a variety of books for all ages.  They have a cookbook, a “green and groovy” craft series, activity books for on-the-go entertainment, and many adorable reads with beautiful illustrations. Downtown Bookworks accomplished their mission with both of my girls and here is how…

Click image to purchase from B&N

Image from downtownbookworks.com

Over the holidays I bought The Do It My-Self Kids’ Cookbook by Laurie Goldrich Wolfe on Zulily as a joint gift.  Since buying the cookbook, the girls have enjoyed making and eating many of the recipes.   I have used it as part of our morning or afternoon activity time to keep the girls busy so they won’t get caught up with the TV or scream for the IPAD. The recommended age on the book is 5+, but with support, direction, and preparing ingredients beforehand, the girls have been able to make many of the recipes.  Pela has had the most difficulty, as expected, but has no problem letting Maddie create so she can eat.  The best feature of the book, especially if you are using it with younger children, are the step by step illustrations for the recipe.  None of the recipes require anything sharp and are not hot, perfect for little ones.  We noticed many of the recipes have peanut butter as an ingredient.  Peanut butter can easily be substituted with alternatives like soy butter.  Our favorite recipes are the Cream Cheese, Strawberry Quesadillas, and the Orange Juice Strawberry Spritzer.  The Do It My-Self Kids’ Cookbook  would be a great addition to any parents kitchen and would make a wonderful gift for your child’s friends.

Making Cream Cheese Strawberry Pineapple Quesadillas

Yummy in my Tummy!

Ready to make Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Cones!


Books I received that are perfect to take to restaurants, the doctor’s office, long car rides, and other places you have to entertain while waiting:

Click to purchase from B&N

I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love keys.  It was the first item my girls tried to grab from me to play with as babies.  Now they take turns trying to unlock our mailbox and apartment door. Turn the Key  Around Town by Julie Merberg is a favorite for both girls.  They fight over it when we are out.  The book has a yellow key attached, and a little slot in the top of the book to store the key when not using it.  Each page has a door to different spots around town.  You have to unlock the door to see what is inside.  I tell the girls that they need to lock the door when they turn the page to go to the next store.  It is a great book to keep little ones busy while working on their fine-motor skills.  Maddie goes through it pretty quickly so to buy time we talk about our favorite neighborhood spots.  She also likes making up her own story with the illustrations.  It is a must when packing our activity bag. Recommended for ages 1-4.

Unlocking doors until Maddie finishes dance class!

Even great for a long drive!

Click to purchase from B&N

EYE Q Picture Puzzler by Georgia Rucker is a beautifully illustrated with bright themed puzzles.  Each puzzle is a different theme with three or more challenges.  The book includes a dry erase marker to complete the challenges.  Challenges include circling what doesn’t belong, counting, choosing your favorite treat, finding shapes and more.  Maddie  has difficultly completing the challenges independently.  If I am not there to help she attempts to do it on her own by circling her favorites.  Recommended ages 4 and up.

Waiting for dinner

Other books I received:

Click to purchase from B&N

Animals in Art: Art from the Start by  Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober teach children about animals through historic artwork.  The artwork makes it fun for adults too, you may see some of your favorite artists in there.  A list of the artists with museums is in the back of the book.  If you are feeling adventurous, visit the museum where your child’s favorite animal is.  Both of my girls love animals so this was a great book for them. There are two other Art from the Start books: How is Mona Lisa Feeling and Mama, Baby, & Other FIrst Words.  Recommended ages 0-3.

Click to purchase from B&N

Absolutely adorable is the only way I can describe The House That Mouse Built by Maggie Rudy and Pam Abrams.  We read it at least once a day.  Every detail of the house is so amazing, Maddie has asked to go to Mouses House.  The story is about a mouse that left cheese out and another mouse stole it and got hurt while running away.  Every time I read it I think about Maddie and Pela at meal-time.  Maddie always leaves food out and Pela runs off with it.  When Maddie tries to get it back Pela always ends in tears.  It is definitely worth reading. My girls love it.  Recommended age 4 and Up.

A book before bed!

Click to purchase from B&N

 I’m So Not Wearing a Dress be Julie Merberg is about a girl who would rather play sports and get dirty then wear pink and get manicures.  Her Aunts asks her to wear a dress for her wedding but does not want to. In the end she makes a deal and wears the dress. You need to read it to find out how her parents got her to wear a dress.  We haven’t read this book as much as the others but I often find myself making deals with Maddie when getting dressed in the morning because her choice is usually inappropriate for the weather.  Recommended age 3-6 years

"Reading" on the stroll home from school!

To find out more information and see more books visit Downtown Bookworks.  Books are available at Amazon, indiebound.org, and Barnes & Noble.
Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this post.  I received books for review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  

Allergy- Free Cooking at the Kids Food Festival NYC

22 Jan

My mom, Maddie and I braved the snow yesterday and headed to the Kids Food Festival NYC at Citi Pond at Bryant Park.  I signed Maddie up for the Allergy- Free cooking event with Kristin O’Connor.  Maddie was able to help pour, mix, and crush ingredients to create chocolate truffles.  She rolled the chocolate into balls and covered them with cinnamon, crushed dried pineapple, and crushed dried apple.  While she was learning to make the truffles, she tasted the different ingredients she was using.  Her favorite ingredient by far was Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.  I have been looking for allergy friendly chocolate chips to use for pancakes, cookies and frozen yogurt for sometime now and have finally found some that are soy, dairy, and nut free.  Kristin was kind enough to send the remaining bag home with Maddie and she has been eating them as a snack.  I tried them and you would never know that they were different then your regular chocolate chips.  They tasted the same if not better.  Maddie had a wonderful time cooking with Krisitn.   She was so excited to bring her truffles home to Daddy and Pela. The truffles were amazing, the entire family enjoyed them.  The recipe will be featured in her book, Personalized Living..Using the Blood Type Diets, which will be in stores on February 14, 2012 and will include other recipes for eating right for your Blood Type.

At the Kids Food Festival Maddie also participated in the USDA Choose My Plate Scavenger hunt.  She went to different booths which included Plum Organics, Horizon Organic Dairy, Wild Planet and Little Duck Organics to collect stamps for each of the food groups on her plate.  She had a great time despite the cold and snow.  Kids Food Festival will be traveling to Washington, D.C., so I think we will have to make a trip so she can go with her cousins who live down there.  Keep checking the Kids Food Festival website to see when it will be held.