Monday, August 18, 2014

When Life Gives you Limes...

If I make "lemonade" with limes, is it still called Lemonade?  Or is it Limenade? 

We had way too many limes and Sydney wanted to squeeze them ALL, so what better thing to make than a nice refreshing pitcher of Limenade.

The Prep

In the Little Chef's Kitchen it couldn't be just plain old limenade though, we needed a twist and decided to add a superfood, chia seeds.  We'd made this before following a very simple recipe by Marcella Valladolid from her book Mexican Made Easy.  I think she used lemons in her recipe though.

We used a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds and soaked them in water for about 30 minutes to get them in their slimy consistency, I know that may sound a bit gross but trust me, that's how you want them.

While we waited for the chia seeds Sydney began squeezing the limes.  We have this little contraption in our kitchen that helps in squeezing limes, most people have one of these, they work great UNLESS you have tiny little hands like Syd's... may I say I had to step into the squeezing because her thumb couldn't reach the top handle, but it was really entertaining to see her really trying though.
We ended up with quite a bit of juice out of those limes so we had to make sure we added enough water and sugar to contrast the sourness of the lime.
The stirring was needless to say the most fun part for Sydney (other than drinking it of course) since we had added a lot of ice, when she stirred, it made this wonderful noise against the glass pitcher.  The sound actually took me back to when I was kid growing up in Costa Rica and my mom would make a "refresco" every day for lunch time.  A refresco is what is known in Mexico as "Agua Fresca."  My mom would take whatever tropical fruits were in season at the time, blend or squeeze, add ice, water and sugar and voila!  I really didn't know artificially flavored drinks existed (such as soda) until I was much older.
Now it was time to add our soaked chia seeds after draining most of the water out.

A little bit more stirring and we were ready to serve...

We took our most delicious drink to enjoy outside on a hot Southern California summer day!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tea Time

A weekend of playdates, that's how it panned out to be last weekend.  Our cousin Kaitlynn came to visit from Phoenix, Arizona.  We invited her over to our place for a fun afternoon.  We had not seen her in a while, since Easter I believe, so it sure was a nice surprise when we heard she would be in town.
What better way for two little girls to spend their time than with a fancy Tea Party?

Out came Sydney's special tea set (the real one of course) and even though there was no time for baking elegant cookies or making delicate sandwiches, we found a way to make it pretty and enjoyable.  We did seek out to make tasty tea finding a jasmine infused green tea full of flavor that filled the kitchen with a delicious aroma.

Iced tea was their choice since it literally felt like a Costa Rican summer day outside our Southern California home, hot and muggy... although don't get me wrong...a hot summer day on a Costa Rican beach sounds very appealing!

The simple things that children enjoy never cease to amaze me, it literally took us 8 minutes to make the tea and after setting up some little snacks my little chef Sydney and her cousin enjoyed a lovely afternoon.

How does the saying go... sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of? Yes?

Well I agree!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Pineapple and a Playdate

I asked somebody today …how are you doing?  And the person replied AWESOME!  I typically hear the casual “fine, thank you” or even a “good and you” but to hear somebody say "Awesome" with such enthusiasm put a smile on my face subject I know, but I had to share.

So what did we make this weekend with a pineapple…well as usual we went through a list of common things to make with it, from smoothies to pineapple upside down cake.  Now keep in mind that my Little Chef Sydney had a friend visiting us so there would be THREE of us in the kitchen…simplicity was key!

A few years ago I remember watching one of Giada De Laurentiis’ shows on the Food Network right around Valentine’s Day all centered around Sweet Treats, as a matter of fact, that was the name of the episode.  One of the recipes she made involved pineapple, grapes, and bananas on a skewer dipped in chocolate and hazelnuts.

I remember back then thinking what an odd combination that was, maybe not so much the banana with the chocolate, but PINEAPPLE and GRAPES…in Chocolate??  However, as you get to know us, you will realize…we are all about odd combinations and fusion of flavors, so we decided this would be a fun recipe to undertake for a Saturday afternoon with our friend Sophie.  Not too wild that would scare our friend away but different enough to have fun with it.

First things first…our ingredients.  We already had bananas and grapes at hand but we needed a good looking pineapple so off we went.

We found one along with some flowers, the ladies wanted to decorate our working table.

Back in our kitchen the ladies separated the flowers into two Mason jars and set up our working area while I did all the "knife" work.

The ladies assisted in separating all the fruit into bowls and getting their own working area set up with a plate and the skewers.  We used both regular pointed skewers and lollypop sticks, their choice.

 Sometimes they ate the fruit...
 Sometimes they went wild with it...
 and sometimes they there was lot of concentration involved...
Little by little they started getting their fruit put together while I worked on the chocolate, which was sort of a ganache to dip the fruit into. I melted the semi sweet chocolate (I used your classic semi sweet chocolate chips but I do recommend using a better quality chocolate as well) and heavy cream in a bowl over boiling water, the recipe also calls for a teaspoon of vegetable oil to give the ganache that shine.

Then came the most entertaining part of the process.. dipping the skewers of fruit into the chocolate ganache.  Now, it's fair to say that most of the chocolate ended up inside their little mouths and not on the fruit, although the fruit did get enough of it, the chocolate ganache was a hit.

So sad to say that my Little chef is really not at all fond of nuts right now.  We needed a substitute for the hazelnuts in the recipe much to my disappointment.  Sydney suggested graham cracker crumbs since we used those on a spin to s'mores we made a few months ago.  I thought it was a great suggestion and so graham cracker crumbs it was!
One by one they dipped each skewer into the chocolate as they pleased.  The recipe said to only dip half of the fruit but... well what the heck, I let them go at it and make their own creations.  Besides, isn't that more fun?  At the end we had enough skewers to keep and to send some home with Sophie for her and her family to enjoy! 
The tanginess of the pineapple and the sweetness of the chocolate turned out to be a surprinsingly tasty combination.  One thing I might add is that the grapes were a bit harder to work with, at least the ones I had.  They were smaller than the banana slices and pineapple chunks, therefore the grape didn't get as coated with the chocolate as the other fruit.  Next time I may use bigger grapes or substitute it with something else... marshmallows??

My Little Chef Sydney and her friend Sophie had a blast making these delicious treats, quite a  little change from their adventures in dance.  Perfect for dessert, or even a mid day snack.

And if you're wondering what to do with the left over chocolate...well I'm sure none of it will go to waste!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Peaches The Unconventional Way

Peaches… so much to do with them.  A co-worker brought fresh peaches from her tree to share with all of us, so right away I thought my little Chef Sydney would want to make something fun with these.  There was only one obstacle… not much time to cook since this weekend was her annual Dance Recital in Downey, CA with shows to prepare for.

Her first choice was peach cobbler, as was mine.  However, given that on Saturday there wasn’t much time and we needed a hearty lunch instead of a luscious dessert we started weighing our options.

We settled on a spin to a Martha Stewart Grilled Peaches Pizza recipe (link to recipe below) we found on her website, simple enough to prepare for a late lunch or early dinner before heading to the Downey Theatre.

Now it is widely know that Martha Stewart is... well Martha Stewart Queen Bee of all things crafty, tasty, etc … with that said, I have to admit that we were going to skip the part altogether of making our own pizza dough.  As much as Sydney wanted to tackle that one, there truly was no time to venture in that direction given the fact that we would’ve had to do several takes.

We stopped at the local market (Fresh & Easy) and picked up the remaining of our ingredients; their ready pizza dough, along with some fresh mozzarella and flavorful prosciutto, which happens to be one of Sydney’s favorite snack.  

We start our adventure by slicing our peaches and grilling them for a couple of minutes on each side.  As much as Sydney wanted to be the one turning them over, I let her have fun with the camera instead while I did the hard labor on the stove.

We set the peaches aside and preheat the oven as directed, rolling out the pizza dough turns out to be a whole lot of fun and and whole lot of mess...

 Here comes the twisting of the recipe a bit.  Since our dough was not previously baked as in Martha's recipe (we're on a fist name basis by now), we needed to bake the dough for about 10 to 12 minutes prior to laying down our toppings.  We take the dough out of the oven and lay down our fresh mozzarella.  Since we felt it needed a bit of a bite we add some feta cheese along with the mozzarella for a tasty combo and we pop it back in the oven for about 7 to 8 minutes more.

By now Sydney the little Chef is super anxious to lay all her yummy toppings down...she starts with the prosciutto, then the peaches, and then the fresh basil.

At this point some good old shredded Parmesan or Romano Reggiano cheese would be great but what I thought would give it that final KICK would be some freshly shredded Aged Gouda cheese and so Sydney proceeded to lay it on top.

And so here it is, the finished product, just in time to get ready for Dance Recital after having a healthy and satisfying meal.
I recommend this delicious pizza anytime this summer!

My little Chef gives it a Thumbs Up!