Browsing the blog archives for November, 2013.

Homemade Ketchup

Healthy, Kids

Generally speaking, ketchup is king with little kids. I know a few littles that don’t like it at all (aliens, obviously) but as a rule, kids and ketchup are a great pair. I have seen a lot of parents (among other family members) make a meal and present it to a child and be horrified or disappointed when they ask for ketchup. As if it is so offensive to them that a 4 year old wants to drown the pot roast they worked on all day in tomatoes and sugar. As long as my kids eat it, I’m cool with pretty much whatever they want to smother it in. My only problem is when I do my best to make a nutritionally balanced meal and a good portion of it goes uneaten, usually the healthiest part.

Insert dramatic sigh? Never! Insert healthy ketchup recipe instead! This is another winner from Deceptively Delicious! Thank you (yet again), Mrs. Seinfeld.

When I make homemade chicken strips and a veggie medley and they skip the medley to dunk the chicken strips in this ketchup, I’m fine with it. They’re getting huge doses of vitamins C, A and K plus potassium from both the tomato paste and the carrot and the flavonones, flavonols and hydroxycinnamic acids from the tomato. That just means they’re both great with anti-cancer, cardiovascular benefits and bone health.

You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already, too! All you need is a couple of mason jars.

Homemade Ketchup

1 6oz can tomato pasts
1/2 cup carrot puree
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or not, taste it first and decide)

Crazy simple. Just dump all but the chili powder in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it has reduced by half.

It’s good in the fridge for 5 days at the most, but how long does a bottle of ketchup last with a few kids running around? Spoiler: not long at all. You can freeze it for 3 months though! I put about 1/4 of this recipe in a jar in the fridge, 1/4 in the freezer and I shared the other half with our neighbors.

Homemade Ketchup

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Warm Chocolate Pudding

Domestic, Kids

I know that pumpkin and brown sugar generally take center stage in Thanksgiving desserts, maaaaaaybe something with apples too. None of our littles like pumpkin all that much, as far as I remember I didn’t like it much when I was a kid either. My granny always did Thanksgiving dinner and she always, always made sure there was something chocolaty for my sister and I to have for dessert. This chocolate pudding is served warm but instead of having a typical pudding skin on it, it bakes on top so you have a wonderful little layer of cake and then the warm pudding under it. So good – especially nice when it’s cold outside.

This recipe is another from Baking with Kids. All of the recipes in this book are well written and simple enough for small children to do with assistance either from an adult or an older child. Between our three, they can make these recipes by themselves and they love to be able to say they didn’t need any help. So sweet! It’s especially fun to have the littles involved in Thanksgiving dessert since the day is supposed to be about coming together as a family and celebrating what we are all thankful for – and most of the time, kids are shooed out of the kitchen!

Warm Chocolate Pudding

6 ramekins
5 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 extra large eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, ground

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

First preheat your oven to 425, get a small helper to butter your ramekins, and then put your chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl. Set it over a pan of simmering water until it melts.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding
Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

Then have a small helper crack open the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the additional 2 egg yolks and sugar. The kids love using the kitchen power tools so this is the perfect time to let them use the mixer. Beat it until very light and foamy. Now add the ground almonds and whisk.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

With a slightly older helper, stir the melted chocolate mixture until smooth and pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Be sure to scrape the bowl and then whisk the mixture again, for about two minutes.

Warm Chocolate Pudding Warm Chocolate Pudding

Bake for about 10 minutes. You just want them to be a little puffed and still soft in the middle. They are so good warm from the oven (let the ramekins cool off first, duh), but they are also really good once they have cooled off.

Warm Chocolate Pudding
Warm Chocolate Pudding

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Twice Baked Potatoes


As I collect ideas for Thanksgiving and try them out on my (thankfully willing) family, I am also collecting ideas for Christmas and I may or may not be knitting at a break-neck pace to try to knit up and otherwise craft all these fun projects! Second year here and it’s still pretty weird to be knitting up Christmas gifts and trying out Thanksgiving recipes when the weather is so wonderful but I know, poor me, right?

The kids have been learning more differences between Canadian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving. Canadian Thanksgiving is all about the fall harvest and of course, American Thanksgiving is a celebration of the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians sharing a harvest feast. Similar, but not quite the same. So we’ve been learning some American history. Here’s a little trivia that’s new to me, this first breaking of bread between the colonists and the Native Indians took place in 1621, but it wasn’t an official holiday until Lincoln declared it one in the middle of the Civil War in 1863. I wonder if it was a tradition for some people during those 242 years it wasn’t an ‘official’ holiday?

These potatoes have an extra dose of Vitamin C, Vitamin B-6 and Magnesium by adding pureed cauliflower to the mixture before it’s spooned back into the potato skins. This is yet another winner from Deceptively Delicious, my go-to collection of recipes for hiding pureed veggies in everyday meals.

Deceptively Delicious Twice Baked Potatoes

4 large potatoes
1 cup cauliflower puree
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 slices turkey bacon (cooked, drained, dried and chopped)

Preheat your oven to 400, and wash the potatoes. Poke vents in them in a fork, wrap in aluminum foil and bake for about an hour.

Once potatoes are cooked and cooled, cut each in half and remove the flesh. Don’t scoop too close to the skin or you may tear it, better to leave some extra flesh than lose a whole potato skin bowl! Mash the potato flesh with the cauliflower puree, sour cream, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Spoon this mixture back into the potato skins and bake for another 15 minutes. Now sprinkle with bacon and voila!

Twice Baked Potatoes Twice Baked Potatoes
Twice Baked Potatoes Twice Baked Potatoes
Twice Baked Potatoes
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Cheddar Bacon Buns


When looking for new ideas for fancy meals (or fancy feasts as my littles call them), I almost always go straight for breads. I like to have a winning bread option at dinner because each of us can be picky about different things and while I do try hard to come up with meal ideas everyone will like, of course there are some meals that are better received by some littles than others. Thankfully, our pickiest little one loves pretty much anything to do with bread, so I always have something different ready for her.

Bread, scones, buns, rolls, sticks, whatever. Something carby with a little something extra, like cheese or bacon or like these, both!

Cheddar Bacon Buns

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 bacon slices
1 cup low fat buttermilk

If you can make scones or muffins, you can make these. Simple and pretty fast but really good too!

Preheat the oven to 400 and cook the bacon first so it’s ready to roll, and then chop it to bits. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt. Then using either a pastry cutter or two butter knives, cut in the pieces of butter until the batter looks oatmealy. Now stir in the cheese and chopped bacon, and add the buttermilk while stirring until you’ve got a sticky dough.

Place heaps of dough about 2″ apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. My heaps were about 1-2 tablespoons each, maybe a little more. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

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Gearing up for Thanksgiving!

California, Kids

One of the things I really love about the date difference between Canadian and American Thanksgiving is that since American Thanksgiving is after Halloween the holiday season kicks off with Halloween and keeps rolling until New Years! So fun! In Canada since Thanksgiving is before Halloween there is sort of a whole lot of nothing going on in November and then BAM, Christmas. I always say I’m going to leisurely knit my Christmas projects throughout the fall and be done comfortably before Christmas, and then I tend to knit it all in December. Not so awesome. I’ve already made a decent dent in my list!

Halloween really ran away from me! My aunt came to visit from Canada and we ran all over LA showing her some of our favorite places and had such a blast I was exhausted and half asleep before reaching my bed each night. Tiring but so so fun. Our second Halloween in California was spent the same as our first, in Manhattan Beach and it was just as much fun as last year – if not more so since we know where we are going now. Our girls went as princesses and our son went as a Minecraft creeper! Since all of us play Minecraft it was an especially silly costume for him to wear!

We had a Halloween party with my girls’ besties, we made caramel apples, pumpkin donuts with eyeballs, creepy soft green cookies (with more eyeballs), and played so many silly Halloweeny games!

Now we are gearing up for Thanksgiving! I’m testing out some fun and festive recipes I’ve never tried and I will also make some tried and true family favorites and I have about a dozen bread recipes I have been waiting to try. It’s hard to get into bread baking when it’s 80 degrees, and now that it’s cooling off a bit I’ll have a chance to make a few loaves. I’m also hoping to knit some leaves and pumpkins to hang in the window, this is our second autumn in California and while I love, love, love life without seasons, not going through them makes me want to decorate seasonally. So funny to me, as I have never really had the desire to decorate with leaves or snowflakes or anything. I don’t want to actually deal with real leaves or snow though!

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