Tag Archives: kitchen helper

Reindeer cookies.

The Munchkin has been looking forward to making these for DAYS. & they turned out just as great as we hoped they would!

I had originally thought to do spice cookies, but The Munchkin said peanut butter, so that’s what we did! Lucky for us, Bakergirl had already made delicious peanut butter reindeer cookies! Hers are for mini reindeer, but I had full-sized “features,” so I made them full-sized. It yielded 18 cookies instead of 40.

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • scant 3/4 tsp. salt (I felt it was plenty salty from the peanut butter)
  • pretzels (I think chocolate- or yogurt-covered pretzels would “stick” better)
  • green M&Ms
  • red Cadbury Christmas Mini Eggs (or you could use peanut M&Ms, but I’m kind of obsessed with the Cadbury Mini Eggs, so we’re using those)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Cream together first 5 ingredients in your electric mixer. Add egg & beat until just blended.
  3. (Optional: combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.) Add to the wet ingredients & mix until just incorporated.
  4. Roll into 2-inch balls. Pinch one end between your thumb & forefinger for the “chin.” Then flatten between your palms. Place them on your prepared cookie sheet; I fit 9 on a sheet to keep them from spreading.
  5. Bake 9 minutes or until set in the middle & just starting to brown.
  6. Remove from the oven, & immediately (carefully!) press the pretzels in for antlers. Do this for all of the cookies right away; the pretzels don’t stick as well as the other “features.”
  7. Let your kitchen helper help you press in M&Ms for eyes (M side down, of course) & a Cadbury Mini Egg for a nose.

I was amazed at how good The Munchkin got at decorating these!

Her first attempts were rather… Picasso-like…

But by her 6th one, everything was in its proper place!

Who knew that cookie decorating could teach a two-&-a-half-year-old anatomy?
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{Secret Recipe Club} Fried Chocolate & Banana Ravioli.

This month I got the privilege of perusing a fabulous blog Tea & Scones. Margaret posts so many amazing dishes that it took me longer to narrow down what I was going to make this month than it did to actually make what I finally chose! So what did I choose?

Anyone who’s been around here knows my weakness for Nutella & banana sandwiches. Add something Giada came up with that I can make with The Munchkin, & deep-fry it, & you get perfection. Also known as Giada’s Fried Chocolate & Banana Ravioli.

  • 3/4 cup bananas, quarter-inch dice*
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 20+ wonton wrappers (original recipe called for 16, but there’s plenty of filling for lots more)
  • 1 egg, beaten (if your kitchen helper is as “helpful” as mine, water would be a less salmonella-infested choice)
  • Nutella
  • vegetable oil, for frying

*The recipe says 1 medium banana, but it’s better to have 2, because your kitchen helper might have to steal some of it.

Probably better that way, because it’ll balance out the vast amounts of Nutella she’ll pilfer while you’re making your ravioli.

  1.  In a small bowl, combine the banana, brown sugar, & walnuts.
  2. Brush 2 edges of the wonton wrappers, then put a small amount of the Nutella (as much as I love Nutella, I found that less is more here — like 1/2 tsp.) in the center of each. Then top with a less-small amount (1 tsp. or so) of the banana mixture, taking care not to overfill.
  3. Fold the corner over to make a triangle & seal the edges, then refrigerate for 15 minutes. (We kind of skipped the refrigeration part & were fine, but I’m sure it works great.)
  4. Heat about 3/4 inch of the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot (I used my Le Creuset braiser) to 375 (or if you’re like me & don’t have a candy thermometer, follow Margaret’s handy-dandy tip & see if a cube of bread will brown in 2 minutes).
  5. Fry the ravioli a few at a time for about a minute a side. Place on paper towels to drain.
  6. Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Tasty, tasty! Thank you, Margaret!
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Perfect oven fries with genuine fry sauce.

I LOVE FRENCH FRIES. I crave them all the time. (Even when I’m not pregnant!) However, rather than frequent our local Five Guys often enough for them to know my name & “usual,” I thought I’d make my own. Probably healthier anyway, right?

So a couple weeks ago I searched my Google Reader – it may or may not have been the first time in like 2 months that it had been open, so I won’t tell you how many unread posts were in there – & found this treasure over at Talkin’ Chow, Playin’ House. They are PERFECT. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve made them since.

I had attempted sweet potato fries once, early in our marriage, & I ran into several problems: 1) they were impossible to cut, 2) they didn’t cook uniformly, & 3) the ones that weren’t charred were soggy & greasy. Briana’s method takes care of all of these problems beautifully, & even gives the fries that crispy, fried texture without all the oil!

Her fries use cayenne to give them a little bit of a kick, but it was a bit too much of a kick for The Munchkin, so here’s my 2-year-old-friendly version.

  • 2 1/2 lbs. Russet potatoes (2 large-ish potatoes is perfect for our little family of 3)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vegetable oil (yes, that’s really it!)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. white sugar (you don’t taste it; it’s the secret ingredient that makes them crisp up so nicely)
  • 1 heaping tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 & GENEROUSLY grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. Don’t use foil; it’ll actually make the fries stick worse!
  2. Scrub your potatoes & cut each one into a “brick” by slicing off a little of the rounded bit on each long side. Don’t worry about trimming the short ends; this leaves just the perfect little bit of tasty skin on.
  3. Then make 1/4- to 1/2-inch slices long-ways in each brick. Rotate the brick 90 degrees & make more slices. Ta-da! Fries!
  4. Throw your fries into a mixing bowl & add the oil. Let your kitchen helper toss them with her clean hands to coat.
  5. Combine the seasonings in a tiny bowl, then gradually sprinkle them over the fries as your kitchen helper continues to toss, making sure they’re coated evenly.
  6. Spread the fries out on your cookie sheet in a single layer so they don’t make each other soggy.
  7. Bake 15 minutes, pull them out, flip them all over with a spatula so they can crisp on the other side, then bake another 15 minutes.

Now wait, we’re not done yet. No fry is complete without genuine Utah fry sauce.

At its most basic, fry sauce is essentially mayo & ketchup, but there are many permutations of this condiment concoction, which is served at almost every local fast-food joint in the state. Briana’s uses barbecue sauce like a certain restaurant chain does out there, some places add a little garlic powder, & one restaurant that I won’t name even adds relish to theirs (as a pickle hater, I consider this a travesty).

Here’s my version, which I believe to be as close to “original” as possible. Simply combine the following & enjoy:

  • 2 parts mayo (not Miracle Whip)
  • 1 part ketchup
  • a small squirt of yellow mustard (amounts to like a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.)

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Witch (or Wizard) Hat Calzones.

It’s Halloween. The kids are so excited for trick-or-treating they don’t want to eat dinner. So they pick at their food & then wind up getting sick from too much candy on an empty stomach. That was a lot of our Halloweens growing up. Fortunately, I have a solution. Meet our most favorite Halloween meal ever:

These calzones are so fun & tasty — the kids get to decorate their own! — that they’ll finally eat dinner on Halloween!

I first found these at BHG, then made the filling tastier & more substantial for eating as an entree instead of an appetizer. 1 calzone would be good for a little kid, while big kids & adults will probably need 2 to keep their strength up for an entire evening of trick-or-treating. These could also be great as “Sorting Hats” for a Harry Potter party.

  • 3.5-oz. pkg. pepperoni slices*
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) crescent roll dough
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • decorations like olives, capers, bell pepper, parmesan, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, etc.
  • pizza sauce, warmed, for dipping

* You can make these vegetarian by using about 3 oz. of very finely diced quick-cooking veggies like peppers & onions.

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 & grease 2 cookie sheets.
  2. Reserve a few slices of pepperoni to cut into shapes for decorations. A sharp paring knife & a few minutes can yield everything from simple triangles (cut a pepperoni slice like a pizza) to stars (cut 5 triangles out of a slice) & even jack-o-lanterns (uhhh… just use your head). You can do this with bell pepper as well if you’re going the vegetarian route.
  3. Then chop up the remaining slices finely.
  4. In a small bowl combine the pepperoni with the cream cheese, parmesan, & mozzarella. Use the back of the spoon to “smoosh” it together to form one mass that sticks together. This will be your filling.
  5. Carefully unroll a package of crescent roll dough & separate into triangles. Place them on your prepared baking sheets. Place a tablespoonful of dough into the center of each triangle & try to spread it out just a little so it’s not just one big lump, but stay at least a 1/2 inch away from the edges of the triangle, & even further than that from the short edge, if you can. (See the triangle on the right, below.)
  6. Then carefully unroll the other package of crescent roll dough & separate into triangles. Add a little water to your beaten egg & brush the mixture around the edges of each triangle & carefully lay a new triangle on each prepared triangle (see above). Be sure to seal the edges with your fingers.
  7. Brush the bottom (short) edge of each triangle with more of the egg mixture & fold/roll it up to form a brim for your hat. Then tweak the top of each hat to make it more crooked & spooky. (Basically I just kind of bend them into a bit of a squiggle.)
  8. Finally, brush the whole thing with more egg & let your ghouls & goblins decorate their hats however they’d like. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until golden & serve with pizza sauce.

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Mummy Dogs.

Unbelievably enough, it’s fall! Though Florida seems to be hanging on desperately to July… What I wouldn’t give for some fall colors right now. & maybe even the chance to wear a sweater.

Even more unbelievably, I’m cooking again! Which means I can start posting again! & maybe even reading other people’s food-related posts again too!

That’s how I realized that what I’m posting is not original. At all. Mel’s Kitchen Cafe posted her version just this morning. But I’m posting it anyway because a) mine is just different enough — it came from BHG – & b) Halloween is one of my absolute favorite holidays, for the sole reason that it gives me license to make fun food that looks like monsters, jack-o-lanterns, witches, &…

Mummies!

(Most photos will be works in progress until we “fall back” next month because by dinnertime at 7pm there is ZERO daylight.)

  • 12 hot dogs (we use bun-length; if you’re making an appetizer for a party or something, you can miniaturize the recipe with cocktail wieners & thinner breadstick strips)
  • 1 pkg. refrigerated breadtick dough
  • 24 capers for eyes (if you don’t like or don’t feel like buying capers just for this, simply dot on mustard or something like Mel did)
  • condiments of choice
  1. Preheat your oven to 375. Unwrap the breadsticks & use a pizza cutter to slice each in half lengthwise. Stretch them out to 12 inches.
  2. Pat your hot dogs dry, then take 2 breadstick strips (say that 10 times fast) & let your kid help you wrap them around the hot dogs. I like to use my thumb to kind of anchor a strip to the top, then let The Munchkin wrap it. Then I flip it upside-down & do the same with the other strip.
  3. Position your dogs on a lightly greased cookie sheet, then firmly press the capers into the breadstick dough for eyes.
  4. Bake about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Serve to your little ghouls & goblins before they head out trick-or-treating! (I see many 8-year-old boys creating delightfully gory scenes with their ketchup.)

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“It’s Shake & Bake {Potatoes}, & I helped!”

Anyone else remember those commercials? Well, these potatoes don’t use the Shake & Bake mix you buy at the store; you use your very own herbs & seasonings. This keeps the sodium level down — a plus! We seriously love these potatoes. The recipe first came from one of my Young Women’s leaders in — you guessed it — the ward cookbook! That thing is worth its weight in gold, I tell you what. Since then I’ve started customizing the spices to complement whatever meal I happen to be making. They’re delicious every time!

  • A couple lbs. of potatoes of your choice (we like reds & sweets), cut into 1-inch cubes (peel the sweet potatoes & russets first)
  • 1 med. onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or enough to coat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • seasonings of choice (see below)

Seasonings: The original recipe calls for approx. 2 Tbsp. dried rosemary & salt & pepper to taste. This way is delicious! So is using dill in its place. Tonight, though, I went with Herbes de Provence Sea Salt & my Steakhouse Grinder.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Let your kitchen helper help you put the potato & onion chunks in a gallon Ziploc bag.
  3. Add garlic & olive oil. (You can add seasonings at this point too, but I prefer adding them later to keep it even & reduce the amount I use.)
  4. Let your kitchen helper shake it up!
  5. This is where I sprinkle on the seasonings evenly.
  6. Arrange in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until fork-tender.

Let me know what seasonings you decide to use!

Tidy Mom

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