Saturday, April 30, 2022

Tip to get a child to eat healthier meals - a possible series

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll surely have noticed that the Fox doesn’t eat much these days. We kept a food diary for about 6 weeks and at that point had tangible evidence that, even though he is presented with vegetables at almost every meal, he very rarely eats any! 

I decided to serve the next best thing: fruit. Fruit as a side with dinner doesn’t typically happen, so the kids were delighted and ate them up! In the photo above, I had made frittata in which I put a bunch of herbs and green onions, along with turkey bacon, and surprisingly the Fox ate it too, probably because he was in a good mood about the fruit. (His piece was smaller than mine, though.) 

I also recommend this rainbow fruit salad I made last summer. In my case, it was a mitigated success because it turns out my kids don’t like peaches, but you can obviously adapt the contents!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Chicken Fricassée Pot Pie


As I was flipping through the March issue of Real Simple, the Fox saw the photo of this chicken fricassée pot pie and said that he wanted to eat it. He so rarely wants to eat anything that I had to make it! In the end, he only had a few bites, but it turns out he does seem to like mushrooms. The rest of us enjoyed this dish as well! 

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 (4-oz.) boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I may have had a bit more) 
3 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, divided 
12 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms (such as oyster, shiitake, or cremini) 
2 large carrots, cut into ¾-inch chunks 
2 spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced 
¼ cup all-purpose flour 
¾ cup dry white wine, divided 
3 cups unsalted chicken broth 
1 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard 
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon (I omitted it) 
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt 
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
¼ cup lactose-free cream 
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3-oz. package), thawed 
1 large egg, lightly beaten 
flaky sea salt, for serving 

Preheat oven to 425 °F. 

Heat oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high. Add chicken; cook, flipping once, until beginning to turn golden brown, about 2 ½ minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and shred. (Chicken will not be cooked through yet.) 

Add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet and melt over medium-high. Add mushrooms; cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned on 1 side, about 4 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and fully browned, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. 

Add flour; cook, stirring constantly, until flour coats vegetables and turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup wine; cook, stirring constantly, until reduced slightly, about 1 minute. Gradually stir in broth; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken, mustard, tarragon, kosher salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in cream and remaining ¼ cup wine and 1 tablespoon butter. 

Cut puff pastry into 12 (1 ½-inch) squares. Arrange on top of chicken mixture. Whisk egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush egg wash over puff pastry. Bake until puffed and deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Top with flaky sea salt. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Stuffed Lemon-Poppy Seed Scones


This stuffed lemon poppy seed scone recipe had been sitting in my bookmarks for a while and I finally made it. They were out of this world when warm – crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and truly one of the best things you can put into your mouth. The Engineer agrees! 

I don’t keep cake flour on hand, so I always replace it with a mixture of corn starch and all-purpose flour. For this recipe, I put a bowl on the scale, turned on the scale, put ¼ cup of corn starch in the bowl, then added all-purpose flour until I reached 270 g. Also, since I didn’t feel like making lemon curd, I used this vegan lemon curd. I still have half the jar left, so I’ll have to make these scones again! 

1/3 cup lactose-free whole milk, plus more for brushing 
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds 
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons) 
2 ¼ cups cake flour, plus more for dusting 
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar 
1 Tbsp. baking powder 
1 Earl Grey tea bag, leaves removed and finely crushed (about 1 ½ tsp.) 
½ tsp. salt 
1 stick lactose-free butter, cold, cut into small pieces 
1 large egg 
¼ cup lactose-free lemon curd (like this one)
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling 

Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside. 

Heat the milk in a small saucepan or warm in the microwave until steaming. Remove from the heat and stir in the poppy seeds. Let stand until cooled, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice (to thicken and sour the milk). 

Whisk the cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, tea, and salt in a medium bowl (I do this in the food processor). Work in the cold butter and lemon zest with your fingers until the mixture looks like coarse meal (again, the food processor is just so convenient for this, but you could also use a pastry cutter). Make a well in the center, then add the egg and milk-poppy seed mixture (you can do this in a bowl if you’re nervous about overmixing). Stir together until combined and a soft dough forms, gently kneading the dough in the bowl once stirring becomes difficult. 

Divide the dough in half and gently pat each portion into a 6- to 7-inch disk (¼ o ½ inch thick), lightly dusting the dough and your fingers with flour if the dough is too sticky (I dusted the counter too). Transfer one disk of dough to a baking sheet and spread the lemon curd on top, leaning a 1-inch border around the edge. Place the remaining disk of dough on top of the curd and pinch the edges together to seal. Brush the top with milk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Score the dough into 8 wedges, cutting about halfway into the top layer of dough but not into the filling. 

Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes (I baked mine 22 minutes). Transfer to a rack and let cool 4 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Slide off the baking sheet and onto the rack; let cool at least 45 more minutes. Cut into wedges along the scored lines.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Pink Milk

Every once in a while, I try new smoothie recipes. I don’t usually make family meals out of them, because my kids don’t typically like smoothies (and the Engineer drinks Soylent), but a really good one I made recently was this raspberry smoothie with cottage cheese and cashew butter – both of those ingredients helped provide protein to keep me full, and the raspberries made it beautiful and delicious! 

Another beautiful drink is this pink milk from Emilie Murmure. It’s not really a smoothie, and it won’t keep you satiated; it’s definitely just a (heavy) drink. It was great!

½ cup raspberries (fresh or frozen) 
½ tsp. rose water (or orange blossom water) 
1 small pinch ground cardamom 
1 splash maple syrup, to taste 
1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk 
garnishes of your choice (raspberries, rose petals, etc.) 

Just blend all the ingredients together, pour in a glass (or two) and garnish. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Sesame-Ginger Soy Curls with Napa Cabbage Salad


I had some sheet tofu left from making this soup and I was wondering what to make with it. I then realized that I had bookmarked a recipe forever ago where it was referred to as soy curls: this Napa cabbage salad with sesame-ginger soy curls, in which the soy mimics chicken. 

This salad was surprisingly good! I actually really enjoyed the soy curls cooked this way, slightly charred and with lots of flavor. The salad was simple, but added up to more than the sum of its parts. 

For the soy curls 
2 cups soy curls 
2 Tbsp. sesame oil 
3 Tbsp. soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar 
1 Tbsp. brown sugar 
1 tsp. mustard 
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger 
1 or 2 shallots, finely sliced 
salt, pepper and chili flakes, to taste 

For the salad 
½ Napa cabbage, shredded 
1 large carrot, shredded 
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar 
sesame oil, to taste 
almond slices, for garnish (optional, omit for a nut-free version) 

Place soy curls in a medium size bowl. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and pour over the soy curls. Cover the bowl with a plate and let the curls reconstitute; this takes about 3-5 minutes. Strain and squeeze out excess water with your hands and set aside. 

In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add soy curls and all other ingredients. Cook on high heat for about seven minutes until soy curls are lightly browned and become a little crispy. Don't stir excessively, or else the soy curls won't brown or crisp. Stir only every minute or so. Add a little water if things are getting sticky or cooking too quickly. 

In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrot, sesame oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and plate the salad. Put soy curls on the bed of cabbage, garnishing with the almond slices.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Chocolate Mousse Cake

 This recipe is from Babka, Boulou & Blintzes – Jewish Chocolate Recipes from Around the World, a cookbook compiled by Michael Leventhal. There’s an introduction with the history of chocolate in both Jewish history and cuisine, then 50 or so recipes, including a few savory ones. The first recipe I tried is Judy Jackson’s chocolate mousse cake, which I adapted slightly, and it happens to be perfect for Passover! We all enjoyed it, except the Fox, who doesn’t like “melted chocolate.” (This means he’s not into chocolate with a soft consistency like sauce, pudding, or frosting, but the bottom part of this cake was fine for him. He may have come from my loins, but there’s no accounting for taste.) 

8 oz good quality semi-sweet chocolate
4 Tbsp. sunflower oil (I used safflower oil) 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
8 large eggs, separated 
1 cup (8 oz.) sugar, divided 
2 tsp. grated chocolate and fruit, to decorate (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease an 8-inch round springform pan. 

Place the chocolate pieces and sunflower oil in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally until the mixture is smooth and combined. Once melted, mix in vanilla and set aside to cool to lukewarm. 

Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and whisk (I did this by hand to just do fewer dishes, but it’ll be easier with an electric handheld mixer or stand mixer), then gradually add half the sugar, whisking the yolks and sugar together until they are thick and a pale yellow. 

In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the melted chocolate until just combined. (Try not to overmix, but at the same time, make sure you got to all the chocolate at the bottom of the bowl.) 

Spoon three-quarters of the mousse mixture into the springform tin, levelling out the top. Cover and refrigerate the remaining mousse mixture. 

Bake the cake for about 30-35 minutes, until it is just set (a toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the center of the cake). 

Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack and leave to cool completely in the tin – it will sink in the middle as it cools, and this is normal. Once it is cool, spoon the remaining chilled mousse mixture over the top in an even layer, smoothing it out. 

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cake, loosen the clip, then gently push the cake up from the bottom and transfer to a serving plate. Decorate with grated chocolate and fruit, if desired, then serve.

Friday, April 08, 2022

Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins


These blueberry muffins were a hit! I strayed from my usual white whole wheat flour (I was plumb out) and used regular all-purpose flour, which is admittedly a big change for us. They also don’t contain too much sugar, and the Greek yogurt helps keep them moist and ups the protein content. I’ll have to make these again! I think this recipe would also be a great canvas to use other fruits, or maybe I’d follow the variation suggested on the original post and make chocolate chip muffins from it. I even wonder now whether I could swap out the sugar for maple sugar or even maple butter? Anyway, I got 15 muffins instead of 12 from this recipe. 

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda 
½ cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling, if desired) 
½ tsp. salt 
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
2/3 cup vegetable oil 
1 cup lactose-free Greek yogurt 
¼ cup lactose-free milk 
1 ½ cups blueberries 

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line a muffin pan with paper cases. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, oil, yogurt, and milk. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until just combined. Fold in the blueberries. (Add a tiny bit more milk if the mixture seems too thick, depending on what brand of yogurt you used – you want the batter to be a soft dropping consistency.) 

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle a little extra sugar over the top of the muffins if you like, then bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Cool on a wire rack, then store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Batch of links

- I admit I often peel cloves of garlic before mincing them by hand (or grating them on a microplane), but it certainly is faster to use a garlic press, especially since you don’t need to peel the cloves first. Just be sure to rinse the press clean promptly! 

- Speaking of garlic, you can use grated apple or potato to remove the smell from a cutting board. I can confirm that this works with onion smells as well, and it works better than baking soda! However, I just don’t use this tip because it would feel like wasting food on a regular basis to me. (Like, if I happen to be making latkes, I might let some of the potato rest oxidize on the cutting board, but I’m not going to do that every week!) 

- Did you know that plant-based isn’t synonymous with vegan? In a nutshell, plant-based diets are primarily, but not exclusively, made up of plants – they *can* include animal products. As someone who avoids lactose, I know how important it is to check the label, even if the front of the package says “plant-based”! That being said, I’m not sure it’s actually a generic-specific relationship (vegan being a specific kind of plant-based). After all, an Oreo cookie is vegan, but is it really plant-based? 

- Did you know there’s a fix for “fishy” seafood? Apparently, you should soak it in milk. (I don’t like seafood in the first place, so this doesn’t make me want to salvage anything…) 

- An unexpected tip for buying soft cheeses, depending on your texture preference. 

- I don’t know why I never got around to posting this – Dave Grohl is hooked on barbecuing

- Another pre-pandemic article… When paternity leave was introduced in Spain, men who took advantage of it were just as likely as before to remain in the workforce, but they also remained more engaged with childcare after returning to work. A surprising result, though, was that they then desired fewer children than before. Researchers think that spending more time with their kids “may have made men more acutely aware of the efforts and costs associated with childrearing.” 

- I saved the best for last! I’ve discovered a new-to-me podcast called Strange and Unexplained with Daisy Eagan. As the name suggests, it’s about events that are strange and have not been explained, even though they’re not necessarily paranormal. Episodes are roughly 30 minutes long and I’m so into them that I can use this podcast to bribe myself (as in, “Finish filing your taxes and then you can listen to one more episode”). It even had an episode about one of my favorite mysteries, the case of the Dyatlov Pass. (Warning: the subject matter and language are not appropriate for young listeners.)

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Big Green Cake


Things are a bit in disarray in this post, but it’ll be worth it. See, I switched iPhones recently, and unfortunately some pictures got lost in the transition (I guess they weren’t in the cloud yet when I switched off the old phone?). So anyway, I don’t have any photos of the squash cake with dark chocolate ganache that I made to use up the squash purée (and some sweet potato purée) from my freezer. Just take my word that it was delicious! The cardamom was a fantastic addition. 

I also don’t have good pictures of the caramel butter cake with fudgy chocolate frosting that I made for the Fox’s birthday. It was great, though I didn’t expect a pour-over frosting (it’s not what it looked like on the original post), so that threw me off, but I managed. It just seems like it was prettier before it was frosted! Instead of chocolate shavings as a topping, I used his favorite rainbow nonpareil sprinkles. And this made me realize in horror that I never shared the recipe for his birthday cake LAST year, which was the fantastic plush confetti cake from Smitten Kitchen (just double the quantities for the cupcakes, and bake in two 8” pans for 25 minutes). I mean, really, that recipe should be in everyone’s rotation, and I’m actually starting to feel guilty that I haven’t made it since! It’s *that* good. 

All this brings me to the beautiful spinach cake from Weelicious! I decided to make it for Saint Patrick’s Day, and since the Little Prince was on spring break, he helped me make it. Let me assure you that the spinach is undetectable! There’s a total of 5 cups in this cake, so if a serving of vegetables is ½ cup, you’d have to cut this cake into 10 slices to have a serving of vegetables per portion (we had closer to 12 slices). Note also that I made it in two 8” pans rather than three 6” ones; that’s what I’m writing below, because I don’t think I actually know anyone who owns three 6” pans! This cake was as delicious as it was beautiful and was very well received by all. 

For the spinach cake 
3 ½ cups cake flour, sifted 
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder 
½ tsp. kosher salt 
6 large egg whites, at room temperature 
1 ½ cups lactose-free whole milk, at room temperature 
4 cups fresh spinach 
1 cup (2 sticks) lactose-free butter, at room temperature 
1 ½ cups sugar 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 

For the spinach buttercream frosting 
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) lactose-free butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature 
6 ¾ cups powdered sugar, sifted (I “only” used 4 slightly heaping cups) 
1 cup fresh spinach 
1/3 cup lactose-free whole milk 
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract 

For the spinach cake 
Position the rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Coat the insides of two 8-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray, line bottoms with parchment paper rounds, then spray parchment. 

Whisk together sifted flour, baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl to combine. Set aside. 

In a blender, combine milk, egg whites and spinach, blend until well combined and smooth. Set aside. 

Beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Add sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in the vanilla. 

Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk-spinach mixture, while beating on low speed. Begin and end with flour, and beat briefly until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into layers shows a few moist crumbs when removed. The layers will be a light golden brown around the edges and top and will have come away from the sides of the pans. 

Cool the pans on a wire rack for 8-10 minutes. Unmold, peel off the parchment, and place the layers directly on the racks to cool completely. 

For the spinach buttercream frosting 
In a blender combine milk and spinach. Blend until well combined. (This was impossible for me – I had to use my stick blender.) 

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer or a stand-mixer on medium-high, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add one cup of sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Add remaining sugar, milk-spinach mixture, vanilla and beat on high until silky smooth. 

For assembling the cake 
If necessary, cut off the very top of the cake to make both layers even. 

Place one layer on a platter and spread with 1/3 cup of the frosting. Top with remaining layer and use remaining frosting to cover the cake.

Monday, April 04, 2022

Almond Butter Chocolate Bars


As I was looking for another dessert with little added sugar, I saw Minimalist Baker’s almond butter cup bars. The title is a play on peanut butter cups and the fact that they’re bars, but it somehow confused me when I read it, and since these have a crust, I decided that almond butter chocolate bars was a more descriptive title. 

My only problem was that the almond butter layer was a nightmare to spread out in the pan, as it stuck to the paper like crazy. I don’t know if I should have used a more liquid type of almond butter, or perhaps spraying the paper with oil first would have been sufficient… In any event, I got through it, and everyone really liked these bars! 

For the crust 
1 ½ cups raw or roasted almonds or walnuts 
¼ cup cocoa powder 
1 pinch sea salt 
1 cup (packed) dates 

For the almond layer 
1 cup creamy or crunchy almond butter (or sub other nut or seed butter; see note above) 
1 Tbsp. maple syrup 
1 pinch sea salt 

For the ganache 
1 ¼ cup (9 oz.) vegan dark chocolate, very finely chopped 
7 Tbsp. light coconut milk 
1 Tbsp. coconut oil 

Prepare crust by adding nuts, cocoa powder, and sea salt to a food processor and blending into a meal. Remove from bowl and set aside. 

Add dates to the food processor and mix/pulse until small bits remain or a ball forms. Break up the dates with a spoon so they’re not all in one clump. Then add the nut-cocoa mixture back in and blend to combine until a loose dough is formed. 

Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined 8” square baking dish and spread with fingers to evenly distribute. Then top with parchment paper or plastic wrap and use a flat-bottomed object – such as a drinking glass or measuring cup – to press and pack the crust into a solid, even layer. Remove parchment paper and set aside. 

Add almond butter to a small mixing bowl along with maple syrup and sea salt. Stir to combine. (Depending on the brand, if it is extremely runny you may need to add a little almond meal to thicken until spreadable, but I didn’t find this necessary.) 

Add the almond butter mixture to the crust in spoonfuls. Then top with parchment paper again and use the same object from earlier to spread and pack the mixture down into a flat, uniform layer (see note above). Remove parchment paper and set in freezer to chill. 

Add finely chopped dark chocolate to a medium mixing bowl. Add coconut milk and coconut oil to a separate glass mixing bowl or glass measuring cup and microwave until hot but not boiling. (Alternatively, heat in a saucepan on the stovetop until very hot, or do what I did and use a double boiler). Pour the coconut milk directly over the chocolate, stir to combine, and cover with something (such as plastic wrap) to encourage it to melt. Let set for 5 minutes. Then whisk to combine. The mixture should be entirely melted and smooth. If not, heat in the microwave in 20-30 second increments until entirely smooth and no chunks remain. (Alternatively, set your glass or ceramic mixing bowl over a double boiler on the stovetop to melt). 

Remove pan from the freezer and pour the ganache on top. Spread with a spoon until smooth. Then add back to the freezer to set for 5-10 minutes, or until semi-firm to the touch (enough to slice). 

Slice into desired number of bars (I made 16; you could make them bigger, or go even smaller so that they’re “bites” rather than bars). Enjoy immediately. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Chocolate Chip Freezer Scones


This recipe is from The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes. I bought this book right before the pandemic and ended up shelving it, since I didn’t make a school lunch for months and months after that… I pulled it out again recently and realized that I had bookmarked a lot of good recipes in there! They are not necessarily things for the lunchbox (I wouldn’t pack a smoothie, for example), and this recipe here is more of a breakfast to me, though it could be a snack or dessert in a lunchbox as well. 

Scones are best the day they are made, though these kept well in an airtight container overnight. That being said, baking them straight from the freezer does allow you to only bake enough for one breakfast at a time, so it’s very convenient! 

Everyone in my household really liked these scones

3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour 
½ cup (100 g) + 3 Tbsp. (40 g) sugar, divided 
2 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt 
½ cup (88 g) chocolate chips 
2 cups lactose-free cream or half-and-half (or vegan substitute) 
2 Tbsp. lactose-free milk 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, then add ½ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips. Whisk together. 

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the cream to the well and mix with a wooden spoon until the batter is evenly moistened (the dough will be a bit sticky). 

Using your hands, make 12 2-inch scones and place them onto the baking sheet; you can rub a little flour onto your hands to prevent sticking. (The dough looked too sticky to me, so I decided to make scones with my 3-oz cookie scoop instead; I got a total of 20 scones.) Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours, until the dough is frozen, or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and let the scones thaw for about 5 minutes. If you are baking all the scones at once, you will need a second baking sheet, because they will expand while baking (I had 8 on mine). Save the rest in a freezer bag and bake them another day. 

Brush the scones with the milk and sprinkle with the additional 3 Tbsp. sugar. (I actually did this before freezing the rest of the scones.) 

Bake the scones until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes (mine were smaller and 20 minutes was sufficient). Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, April 01, 2022

Candied Ginger Spice Cookies


I had a lot of homemade candied ginger left over after making chocolate and ginger cookies, and my friend Jen kindly suggested these candied ginger spice cookies. They were great! I adjusted the amounts to get roughly 2 dozen cookies (21 to be exact), and that’s what I’m writing down below, but you can absolutely make larger batches. Everyone loved these! 

1 stick (¼ cup) lactose-free butter, softened
5 Tbsp. sugar 
¼ tsp. kosher salt 
1 large egg yolk 
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract 
1 cup + 3 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour 
¼ cup finely diced candied ginger 
3 Tbsp. light brown sugar 
½ Tbsp. ground ginger 
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon scant 
½ tsp. ground allspice 
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg 
¼ tsp. baking soda 
¼ cup turbinado sugar, for rolling 

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. 

In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. 

Scrape the bowl and with the mixer running on medium, add the egg yolk and the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape the bowl. 

With the mixer on low, gradually beat in the flour until combined, then add the candied ginger, light brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and baking soda. Mix until well combined. 

Form the dough into tablespoon-sized balls (I used a small cookie scoop for this). At this point, the dough can be refrigerated or frozen until you are ready to bake the cookies. 

Place the turbinado sugar in a bowl. Roll the balls of dough in the sugar to evenly coat them and place them 1” apart on the prepared baking sheet. 

Bake 8-10 minutes, until lightly golden brown. The cookies will still be slightly soft but set on the outside. Carefully slide the parchment or silicon sheets onto wire racks to cool.

Mini Meatball and Pasta Marinara Soup


My kids aren’t always big on soups. Curried carrot soup and vegan sweet potato chowder are not up their alley. So during spring break, when I know the Little Prince was home with me, I knew I had to branch out a bit. I made this mini meatball and pasta marinara soup. And then, due to unforeseen circumstances, the Fox ended up joining us for lunch that day. He was reluctant to taste the soup, so when I served country bread on the side for the kids, instead of simply slicing it, I cut the slices into strips, so that I had steak-fry-shaped pieces of bread. I presented them as dipping sticks, and that’s how the Fox cheered up and tasted some soup. The Little Prince really liked it, as did I, and we ended up saving a bowl for the Engineer so that he didn’t miss out. All this to say, this meatball marinara soup was a hit! 

Note that I really wanted anelletti for this, so I ended up ordering them online, but any small pasta would do (including alphabet pasta and pearl couscous). I also threw in a handful of mini tomatoes that were just sitting on the counter. 

This yields something like 6 servings. 

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped (I only had ½ red onion on hand) 
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped 
4 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (I used a scant ½ tsp. each basil, oregano, and thyme) 
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (I used 1 pinch Korean pepper) 
kosher salt 
freshly ground black pepper 
1 (24-oz.) jar marinara 
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
8 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, shaped into ½" balls 
1 cup small pasta (such as anelletti) 
3 cups packed baby spinach 
freshly grated parmesan, for serving 

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions, carrots, garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 6 minutes. Add marinara and chicken broth and bring to a simmer.

Add sausage meatballs and pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is al dente, 9 to 12 minutes. Stir in spinach to wilt and then remove from heat. 

Serve with parmesan (and dipping sticks, as needed).