Category Archives: Snack

2 Ingredient Ice Cream Bread!

close up of ice cream cake2

This bread is a dream come true for our son. Yep, two ingredients: Ice Cream and Self-Rising flour. Mix them together and bake. How great is that? My son and husband made a vanilla loaf this afternoon, using Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla ice cream.

Verdict: Easy, tasty, and a great canvas for experimenting with different flavors!

Denis first saw the cake recipe here:

The “bread”, which has a great crumb but is not too sweet, reminds me of Japanese desserts. It would actually make a great base for this Strawberry Shortcake if you baked it in cake rounds and frosted it with whipped cream and layered with strawberries.

We are already devising plans for making it with Butter Pecan and Rocky Road ice creams.:)

ice cream bread2

2-Ingredient Ice Cream “Bread”

1 pint of ice cream (2 cups)

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or 1 1/2 cups flour plus 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Soften ice cream so that it is very soft. You can speed the process up by heating it in a microwave oven for 30 seconds.
  3. Transfer ice cream to a bowl. Then add the flour gradually to it while stirring.
  4. Grease a loaf or cake pan with butter or non-stick spray (we also cut a piece of parchment and lined the bottom of the pan)
  5. Bake for 30-50 minutes, checking after about 25 minutes. Length of time depends on the kind of pan you use. For a loaf pan, it took about 40 minutes until it was golden on top and a skewer came out clean when poked in the center.
  6. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then cool on rack and serve!

 

 

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Filed under Children, Desserts, Grains, Snack

Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

sweet potato chips1

I have been addicted to these microwave sweet potato chips recently! Why? Because they taste great (obviously), AND they are sooo easy to make!  I’ve been keeping a peeled sweet potato in the refrigerator. When I want to have some fresh chips at lunch time, I just slice thin rounds with my mandolin, place on a parchment lined plate, season with parmesan and onion powder, and zap in the oven for three to four minutes.  How easy is that?

I was inspired by this recipe for sour cream chips.  I couldn’t find powdered buttermilk, so I just omitted it.  I also omitted the salt, which I found unnecessary.  I was dubious at first – -I have always made chips in the oven.  But invariably they would burn on the edges.  I thought microwaving these would produce soggy chips — and they did, the first time.  The trick is to slice them REALLY thin, and you need a mandolin to do this.

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Now, I keep a peeled portion of sweet potato in the fridge, and whenever I want fresh chips, I just make them.  It’s so much easier than having to preheat an oven and attempting to bake them that way.  For some reason, the microwave ones may brown — watch closely at the end of cooking– but not much.  And it still tastes good — I actually prefer a bit of browning.  It is a very different flavor than the brown/black edges I would end up with baking traditionally.  Hope you try these! 🙂

sweet potato chips2

Microwave Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

1 sweet potato (I peel mine, but you don’t have to!)

1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch or two of onion powder

Non-stick olive oil spray

  1. Line a plate with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Slice some thin rounds of sweet potato with a mandolin.
  3. Arrange in one layer on parchment. Spray with non-stick spray.
  4. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and onion powder.
  5. Microwave on high for about four minutes checking to see if they are getting too brown at about three minutes.
  6. Remove and eat! If you want to make a bigger batch and save in an air tight container for later, just repeat the process until you finish slicing the sweet potato.

sweet potato chips 3

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Filed under Appetizers, Snack, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Orange Infused Goji Berries and Yogurt

goji-berry-orange-yogurt-2

Goji berries are said to be one of the most anti-oxidant rich foods on the planet. Some claim that it boosts one’s immunity system, improves one’s brain function, and even extends one’s life expectancy! They are high in vitamins C and A and are also a good source of iron and fiber, and have some protein. I buy them in bulk at a local market, but they are also readily available at health food stores.

The dried berries are quite hard in their dried state. Unlike dried cranberries, they are not very chewy either. In Chinese cuisine, they are used in cooked dishes, so I decided to reconstitute mine in very hot orange juice. I heated 1/4 cup of orange juice and soaked about 1/4 cup of goji berries in it for about 10 – 15 minutes. This really softened them up and made them much easier to chew. I then mixed them in a 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkled with reserved berries, toasted almonds, coconut, and cinnamon for garnish.  Such a delicious, quick, and healthy snack!

 

Orange Infused Goji Berries and Yogurt

1/4 cup orange juice, gently heated

1/4 cup dried goji berries

1 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage)

toasted sliced almonds, dried coconut, and cinnamon for garnish

1.  Soak goji berries in heated orange juice in a small bowl for about 10 – 15 minutes

2.  Reserve a few berries for garnish.  Mix the rest along with orange juice into the Greek yogurt and stir until combined.

3.  Sprinkle toasted sliced almonds, dried coconut, cinnamon, and reserved berries on top and serve.

goji-berry-orange-yogurt

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Filed under Breakfast, Snack, Vegetarian

Spirulina Popcorn and the Bahamas

spiralina-popcorn-3

This month we went to the Bahamas on a cruise with my mom to celebrate her 85th birthday.

mom

85 years old! 🙂

It was a quieter event than the last time when we celebrated her 80th with our extended family five years ago.  I did a post on it here.

Jamie was so little then!

Somewhere in the Atlantic

Somewhere in the Atlantic

Here he is in the cabin as we left the New York port this time.

Jamie in the cabin as we left New York.

Cool dude.

The ship we were on was the Carnival Splendor.  It made stops at Grand Turks, Half Moon Cay, and the Bahamas.   We would have liked to have spent more time in Nassau where the ship docked for an afternoon.  It is a beautiful city, and we enjoyed a couple of hours at Ardastra Gardens and Zoo.

The highlight of the gardens are the delicate flamingos that are trained to do marching drills.

The highlight of the gardens are the delicate Carribbean Flamingos that are trained to do marching drills.

The gardens is also home to a collection of animals, including this guy, a capybara who wouldn’t stop eating.

capy

Did you know that the capybara is the largest rodent?  Somehow he is cute, but can you imagine him with a giant rat’s tail!?

After the gardens we visited Fort Fincastle and the Queen’s Staircase.

At the bottom of the stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs.

Then, we went quickly to an internet cafe to check our emails and then it was already back on the ship for us.

They say that it is not uncommon to gain a pound a day on a cruise ship, and I can believe it! There is an excess of food and alcohol and so many opportunities to consume. We definitely ate our share of soft serve ice cream and *popcorn* every night!  But luckily, Denis and I only gained a pound each. 🙂

While on the cruise ship, ironically, my mom and I listened to a long talk given by a nutritionist on detoxing the body.  He spoke at length about the benefits of algae and seaweed, and I was intrigued.  After the week on the cruise we all fell back into our normal daily habits, but I felt compelled to do more.  I researched more on the benefits of algae and seaweed.  I’ve always loved seaweed, and we all eat it regularly.  (I quit buying the seasoned roasted seaweed at Trader Joe’s because Jamie would inhale it and there is a lot of sodium in it.)  Now, we just eat plain roasted nori seaweed that is used to make sushi. It has no extra ingredients.   I cut it up myself with kitchen shears. 🙂

Roasted seaweed found in Asian markets.

Roasted seaweed found in Asian markets.

On the other hand, I had never had spirulina – a blue green algae, before, and decided to try it.

Spirulina is a microalgae that has been consumed for hundreds of years by Aztecs and other Mesoamericans.  It is a complete protein and has all essential amino acids as well as other nutrients and antioxidents, and is one of the best plant proteins on the planet.  It has been promoted as a treatment for many ailments, including diabetes and high cholesterol. Studies have also shown its antioxidant effects in reducing cancerous lesions.  See this 1985 abstract published in the Nutrition and Cancer journal for more info on the study.  It has also been found to help athletes recover from muscle fatigue faster, due to its antioxidant properties.  This is discussed in a 2010 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.

That said, I wasn’t interested in taking spirulina supplements, I just wanted to eat it. 🙂  I have to say, the flavor is stronger than seaweed.  So it might take some time getting used to for people who aren’t even used to eating seaweed every day like us!  You could easily put it into a green smoothie though, and it would probably go well with the rest of the green flavors.  I haven’t tried this yet, because I’m still timid when it comes to green smoothies.

I like to eat my greens, so instead I sprinkled it all over my popcorn.

spiralina popcorn 2

I hinted before that I am somewhat of a popcorn addict.  I have an air popper and toss the popped corn with olive or sesame oil.  You could also use a mister to spray the oil if you have one.  I often cut up dried seaweed to toss in and sprinkle with sesame seeds and sea salt.  We have been enjoying popcorn this way ever since we had Hurricane Popcorn in Hawaii.   This is a much healthier version though!  I always found the thick buttery goo a bit much and prefer something lighter.

Spirulina Popcorn turned out to be quite tasty.  It turned our popcorn bowl into a green, healthy snack from the sea. 🙂

For more information on spirulina – its benefits and ways to use it, check it out nuts.com.

Spirulina Popcorn

1/4 cup popcorn kernels

olive oil or sesame oil

sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

1 sheet of dried roasted seaweed, cut into small pieces with kitchen shears

1 teaspoon dried spirulina

1.  Pop corn in an air popper or on the stove.  If you pop it on the stove, place popcorn kernels and a tablespoon of oil in a large pot with a lid and heat on stove.

2.  Toss popped corn with oil and season with salt, sesame seeds, and dried spirulina

spiralina popcorn 1

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Filed under Snack, Superfood

Kashi Healthy Treats and Advent Challenge

kashi treats 2

 

Whew, the holidays threw me for a loop!  Hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We went to Illinois to see my family and had a great time!  I was remiss in my photo taking, but I drew a lot. 🙂  All my daily sketches are on instagram.

 

This month up until Christmas, I am doing an Advent Challenge put together by Faye Brown Designs. Every day (in place of my daily sketches) I do an illustration inspired by her prompt.  At first I wasn’t going to do one every day, but so far, I’ve done seven, so that’s seven for seven!   They are all made digitally, and it is the first time I’m actually painting with digital brushes.  I bought these amazing brushes you from Kyle T. Webster for Photoshop, and they’ve really changed the way I work.  They are SOOO much better than the ones that come with Photoshop. There is no comparison.  Here is a nice review of them in Wired Magazine.  He is an amazing illustrator and he started making brushes for himself.  When he started selling them, he made a bucketful of money because they are so awesome.

The illustrations I’m making  take a lot longer than my 30 minute paintings – sometimes an hour to two hours!  So it’s kind of a heavy load to carry… But I’m having so much fun with these brushes and  at the end of the challenge, I’ll have 25 designs (if I can maintain the pace) to choose from to make into some greeting cards.  🙂 Wish me luck!

Here are some of my favorites so far:

bear copy72

DOG copy2

penguin copy

ETI copy

Today’s was:

7 polar bear

To see more daily, I’ll be posting at:  http://instagram.com/melissaiwai1/

I’ll leave you with a quick recipe I made up for a high fiber high protein low sugar snack.  I love Kashi cereals, and I had a coupon which I used to buy a box of Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal.  These crunchy treats satisfy my craving for a crunchy sweet chocolate snack, but are packed with fiber and protein without artificial ingredients.  🙂

kashi treats

Kashi Healthy Treats

1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped finely

2 teaspoons coconut oil

stevia or other sweetener to taste

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1  cup Kashi GoLean Crunch Cereal or other Kashi cereal

 

1.  Melt chocolate and coconut oil together in a medium sized bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals until melted.

2.  Stir in stevia and peanut butter until combined.  Add cereal and coat evenly.

3.  Line a large plate or baking sheet with parchment paper.  Make six balls of cereal mixture and arrange on plate.

4.  Chill for about an hour until set.

Makes six treats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Art Related, Snack, Vegan, Vegetarian

Best Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa Ever and Baked Tortilla Chips

chip in salsa

I have made this salsa exactly four times since I saw this recipe from What’s  Gaby Cooking a month ago!  I made it a bit easier for myself by omitting the cherry tomatoes and reducing the amounts of garlic, cilantro, chipotle, and lime juice.  In the past I have shied away from using chipotles, not because of the heat, but because it comes in a can full of them, and you only need one or two at the most!  I made  Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas for a party, and I still had extra chiles.  Luckily, I learned that they can be frozen for future use!  Brilliant!  The key thing is to line your ice cube tray with saran first, as I learned here.  The sauce stains and everything is really spicy!  I defrost and use a cube at a time (about one chile).

Doesn't it look like some strange fossil?

Doesn’t it look like some strange fossil or worse– preserved organ?!

Throw the ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times and there you have it — perfect salsa.  Use more chiles if you want it spicier.  The fire roasted tomatoes give it a really nice rich flavor.  I used a can from Trader Joes.

fire roasted tomatoes

Serve with bagged tortilla chips, or make your own!  I also put salsa on everything else:  Eggs, veggies — both raw and cooked…  I can literally eat it by itself, I love it so much!
baked tortilla chipsFire Roasted Tomato Salsa

1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes

1 chipotle chile (or more if you want it spicier– one is pretty spicy though!)

1/2 medium onion chopped

1/4 cup cilantro with stems

1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

pinch of kosher salt to taste

1.  Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 10 times.

2.  Serve immediately with chips or store in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Baked Tortilla Chips

Corn tortillas

Non-stick spray

kosher salt

 

1.  Preheat oven to 4oo degrees F.

2.  Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray and set aside

3.  Stack up to four tortillas at a time and cut into 8 to 10 triangles (I like 10 for thinner chips)

4.  Lay in one layer on prepared baking sheet.  Spray with non-stick spray and sprinkle with salt.

5.  Bake for about 5 minutes, then watch closely and bake 1-3 minutes more until tan around the edges.  Transfer to a plate to cool and crisp up.

6. Repeat with remaining triangles until used up.

7.  Serve immediately.  Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.  If they lose a bit of crunch due to humidity, toast in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes before serving.

 

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Filed under Appetizers, Snack

Parsnip Chips

parsnip chips1


First off, thank you all for your support and voting for me in the Skillshare Valentine Challenge !  It turned out that my card and wrapping paper design was one of the two first place winners, which was decided in secret by the instructors, Faye Brown and Majo Bautista.  The voting was for 2nd and 3rd…but I had no idea beforehand where I stood!  So many friends voted for me–I’m pretty overwhelmed by the support and vote of confidence in me.  Thank you so much again!!!  To see the other winners and their designs, go here.

I’m immensely busy still, involved in many projects.  I’m working on my book dummy for a picture book and in the middle of creating artwork for a mini one.  I still have all my Skillshare classes (!) and I am participating in the Making Art That Sells Bootcamp.  This class was designed by Lilla Rogers Studio and Beth Kempton of Do What You Love.   It’s been an amazing experience.  For one, it’s so inspiring to see everyone else’s work — there are so many talented artists in the class — over 400!  Also, people are so generous and helpful with advice and support.  I’ve made a lot of new friends there and reconnected with old ones!  Our first assignment was to design a cell phone case that had to do with cuckoo clocks.  I can honestly say I had never drawn so many cuckoo clocks in my life!

One of many sketches

One of many sketches

The clocks weren’t really calling to me, so I decided to focus on the cuckoo birds. Also because I can never seem to get away from food, I ended up with two designs having to do with eating and drinking. ha ha.  Which one do you like the best?

!st two are the same design with a different color treatment and placement of coffee and clock icons.

!st two are the same design with a different color treatment and placement of coffee and clock icons.  Click to enlarge.

I decided to go with the girl one because it had more of a response on the class forum, and because I had way more fun creating it!  I figured out a different way of working, and I’m really excited about that and plan to do my book illustrations this way.  It even got me to get off my tush and start building a place to sell some artwork once and for all.  I have been dragging my heels at the overwhelming thought of it.  I only have two things available at the moment (lol) but it will grow!  Check it out here: Society 6  I will also upload different sizes so the designs can be used on different things.  Stay tuned!

All of these extra activities are great in that I’m creating double the work I normally would and learning lots of new ways of working and thinking about art making!  But it curtails my ability to cook or bake anything that takes more than 30-40 minutes….  (An exception will be next week when I will bake a German Chocolate Cake for Denis’ birthday!)

gc-cake-2

The other day I saw a bunch of parsnips for sale, so I grabbed them and made chips.  I was craving something crunchy by healthy, and these fit the bill.  You could probably make these out of other root vegetables, like carrots, yams, etc. but I haven’t tried it yet.  I like the flavor of parsnips — they are a tad sweet, similar to sweet potatoes.  While I was making them, Jamie and his friend thought I was baking cookies!  Imagine their disappointment when I told them it was vegetables.  They tasted the parsnip chips, though, and they liked them. 🙂

You need a mandoline or a box grater with a slicer on the side to cut thin slices of the parsnip.  I have one something like this.  Then you just lay the slices on a foil lined baking sheet and pop in the oven.  My friend, Alexandra, mentioned that she makes chips by putting them in a cold oven and then turning the oven on.   The method works well because you don’t burn any chips, which are delicate when thinly sliced!  Cooking them this way makes it easier to do this.  Turn the oven on to 250 degrees F, set your timer for 30 minutes and walk away.   Check them after 30 minutes.  I remove the tan, crispy ones, and return the pan to the oven and for another 10-15 minutes or so.  Easy, no?  I think the chips are best eaten right away, which isn’t hard to do! If you save them and they lose their crunch, you could probably pop them in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes and let cool a bit to crisp them up.

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Parsnip Chips

Several parsnips, washed and trimmed and peeled

Non stick spray

kosher salt to taste

1.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

2.  Slice thin rounds of parsnips with a mandoline or other slicer and lay slices in one layer on prepared baking sheet.

3.  Place in oven and turn onto 250 degrees F.

4.  After 30 minutes or so, check parsnips.  Sprinkle with kosher salt if you like.   Remove tan, crisp chips to a plate.  Return baking sheet to oven.  Check chips after about 10-15 minutes.  They should all be crisp now.  If not, let cook a bit longer.  Remove to a plate and eat!

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Filed under Art Related, Gluten Free, Sides, Snack, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Winter Citrus Pound Cake

January 2014_melissa3

This is pretty much what our January is looking like!

Even after living in NYC after more than sixteen years, seeing trees shed all their leaves in autumn and snow fall in winter is still a novelty for me.  Hey, it beats mudslides, wildfires, and earthquakes.

One thing I miss about California, though, is the fresh produce year round.  Here, on the other hand, I usually only buy apples, pears, and grapefruit regularly during the winter, because they are plentiful and reasonably priced.  At our local green market, grapefruits are three for a dollar, which is a great price for the city.  And who doesn’t love a burst of fresh citrus in the morning?

grapefruit2

Denis likes his with sugar, and I like mine with salt (I know–weird, but maybe it’s a Hawaiian thing passed down from my parents?)  Jamie doesn’t like grapefruit, which works out fine, because then I only have to cut up one.

grapefruit

I decided to experiment with grapefruit in my baking. It’s usually not the first fruit you think of it — it has some sour, bitter notes.  But I love lemon and orange poundcake, and I thought, maybe it would be a good candidate for it.  I made one  based on Ina Garten’s Orange Pound Cake, halving the recipe and substituting grapefruit juice and zest.  We brought the cake to Shelter Island and I iced it there.

Denis took these photos. Ahh, natural lighting!

Denis took these photos.
Ahh, natural lighting!

Denis’ mom wrinkled her nose when he told her it was a “Grapefruit Cake”, as she’s not a fan of grapefruit.  I told him I was going to tell her it was  “Winter Citrus Cake” but he beat me to it.  Luckily, she tried it anyway, and guess what– she loved it!  So did our non-eating grapefruit son.

loaf slice


The cake doesn’t actually taste anything close to fresh grapefruit.  It has a “lemony” “orangey” “citrusy” flavor.  I think if you gave someone a taste of this, they wouldn’t even guess it was made with grapefruit!  Just tell them it is a “Citrus Cake” — it sounds better.  Grapefruit lovers and non-grapefruit lovers alike can enjoy this is nice winter treat. 🙂

slice 2

Winter Citrus Pound Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup freshly squeezed and strained grapefruit juice, divided

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 stick of butter

1 1/4 cups sugar, divided

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons grapefruit zest (about two grapefruits)

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a loaf pan bottom with parchment and grease or spray sides with non-stick spray.

2.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.  In another bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit juice, the buttermilk, and the vanilla and set aside.

3.  Cream the butter with 1 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and the grapefruit zest.

4.  Add the flour and the buttermilk/grapefruit juice mixture, alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour while mixer is on low.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

5.  Bake for 40-50 minutes , until a cake tester come out clean.  While the cake is baking, heat the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup grapefruit juice in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely.  Set aside.

6.  When cake is done, let sit in the pan to cool for 10 minutes.  Then remove, and put on a rack with a baking sheet underneath.  Pierce top of cake with a knife and pour the grapefruit juice sugar mixture on top.  I also make piercings while pouring slowly so that I can get as much of the syrup into the cake. Let cool completely.

7.  When cake is cooled, whisk sifted confectioner’s sugar with a bit of the remaining grapefruit juice until it can pour easily.  Pour over the top of the cake and let glaze set.  I did this step after traveling to our destination, as the icing would have gotten mashed if I had wrapped it tightly and carried it.

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Filed under Breakfast, Desserts, Snack, Vegetarian

Visit to Oregon and Almond Plantain Bread

plantain bread 2

I’m still obsessed with plantain bread and playing with different flavors.  I tried adding some sweetener as well as almond extract, and I love how it cut the tanginess of the plantains.  The almonds on top added crunch.  I brought some of this Plantain Almond Bread on a visit out west to dad’s farm in Oregon last week. My brother (who traveled from Illinois and met me at Portland Airport) and I ended up eating it all on the shuttle on the way to Corvalis….! I did make a couple of mini loaves during our visit though to make up for it. 🙂 dad and sherry's farm My dad and his wife, Sherry, live on a beautiful mountain in between Corvalis and the coast. They have a farm with alpacas, sheep, chickens, and Guinea Fowl.

Ruben, one of the alpacas

Ruben, one of the alpacas

My dad made this chicken tractor out of light weight materials.  There are wheels on it, so you can move it around from place to place for fresh grass.

My dad made this chicken tractor (a mobile chicken coop) out of light weight materials. There are wheels on it, so you can move it around from place to place for fresh grass.

My dad has a great workshop in a big barn. He is an amazing builder, craftsman, and artisan.

In his barn/workshop looking down from the loft.

In his barn/workshop looking down from the loft.

An owl lives in the barn as you can see from these owl pellets!

An owl lives in the barn as you can see from these owl pellets!

In addition to various structures he’s built around the farm and inside the log cabin, he makes all kinds of cool decorative things. These gorgeous sonorous Japanese gongs are made from recycled oxygen tanks. dad's gong His newest pursuit is sculpting figures which Sherry dresses and which can also serve as more pleasing looking scarecrows.

This yoga lady lives in the vegetable garden.

This yoga lady lives in the vegetable garden.

Looking at these gorgeous chard plants shows that she is doing her job well!

Looking at these gorgeous chard plants tells us that she is doing her job well!

It is so peaceful and quiet there…

This is where I did morning stretching -- on the cabin porch overlooking the field.

This is where I did morning stretching — on the cabin porch overlooking the field.

We had a wonderful time catching up and visiting.

On our walk with our walking sticks.

Sherry, Dad, and my brother on our walk with our walking sticks.

Apple picking bounty from their apple trees

Apple picking bounty from their apple trees

We even made little trips to the surrounding area.

Me and Sherry in Newport, OR

Me and Sherry in Newport, OR

Sea lions napping near the pier

Sea lions napping near the pier

We also had the opportunity to visit their neighbors’ farm and workshop up the road.They make beautiful candles out of beeswax, like this dragon candle I brought back for Jamie and one shaped like a knot. dragon candle They smell fragrantly of honey. But we don’t want to burn these, as they are beautiful pieces of art!

To see more of their unique and beautiful products, visit their site here. We also tasted some  of their fresh honeycomb filled with sweet Oregon honey. honey comb All in all, our trip to Oregon was an inspiring, memorable, and awesome!

Sherry took this of us right before we said our good-byes at the shuttle stop in Corvalis.

Sherry took this of us right before we said our good-byes at the shuttle stop in Corvalis.

Thank you for such a wonderful visit, Dad and Sherry! I can’t wait to see you again soon, next time with Denis and Jamie!

Slice of bread with a bit of Bertie and Marshall's honey.

Slice of bread with a bit of Oregon honey.

Almond Plantain Bread

Non-stick spray 1 ripe plantain, cut into slices

2 eggs 2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon sliced almonds

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a mini loaf pan with parchment paper on the bottom.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

2.  Blend plantain, eggs, sugar, and almond extract in a blender until smooth (you could also use a food processor, but process plantains until smooth first).

3.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle top with sliced almonds.

4.  Bake in oven for about 35-45 minutes (checking at the 30 minute mark).  When a tooth pick or skewer comes out clean and the inside of the loaf looks like it is completely dry it is done.  Cool on rack for a few minutes.  Then run a knife around the edge, and remove loaf to rack to cool completely.

Top of loaf -- so yummy!

Top of loaf — so yummy!

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Filed under Desserts, Eggs, Snack, Travel, Vegetarian

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread (Gluten Free) and Book Events

At Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn

At Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn

This past weekend I had back to back book events.  On Saturday, I read B is for Bulldozer and Truck Stop  at Greenlight Bookstore.  I also did this  ultra cute, fun collage project (from No Time For Flashcards) with the children.  Check it out — it is perfect for pre-K and Kindergarten aged kids!

Collage made by me and Jamie

Collage made by me and Jamie

I precut the shapes out of construction paper.  Jamie was my helper and passed them out.  I brought pieces of brown paper bag for “dirt” and encouraged them to tear it up into pieces and glue to their collages.

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Sunday was an amazing event at Books of Wonder on 18th Street in Manhattan.  If you have never been there before, it is a fantastic independent bookstore devoted solely to children’s books.  They do not carry any licensing products — you will not find any Disney or Nickeloden books here!  All the picture books are arranged alphabetically by illustrator, rather than author.  It’s the only bookstore I know of that does this!

>We love it there and go often for events of which there are many.  It’s been a wonderful opportunity to meet legendary book people, like the late Tomi Ungerer or Chris Van Allsberg as well as newer, well-known authors and illustrators.  One of our favorite events was listening to Nortan Juster and Jules Feiffer talk about creating The Phantom Tollbooth last year in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

This Sunday, though, I was on a panel there!  My panel mates are all exceptional picture book creators.  I was honored to be included in the group.

With Brian Floca, Anne Rockwell, Robie Harris, Chris Raschka, Deborah Heiligman.  Not pictured are Leyuen Pham, Doreen Cronin, and Betsy Lewin.

With Brian Floca, Anne Rockwell, Robie Harris, Chris Raschka, Deborah Heiligman. Not pictured are Leyuen Pham, Doreen Cronin, and Betsy Lewin.

I was totally nervous before the event – I am not so comfortable speaking in public anyway, but my anxiety was heightened by the stellar company I was keeping.  Anne Rockwell, who is the most sweetest, generous, warmest person ever, put me at ease.  I was so thankful she was able to make it.  She is a “living legend” as Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder, said in his introduction of her.  She has written over 100 books, many of which she herself illustrated.  You can imagine my immense relief when she told me she love the illustrations for her warm story, Truck Stop!

Anne and I both spoke a bit about how the book came to be and our process of creating it.  Brian Floca spoke about his amazing book, Locamotive.   He actually got to drive an old fashioned locamotive for an afternoon as part of his research.   Robie Harris and Chris Racshka discussed writing and illustrating a book about child fears, When Lions Roar.  The challenge was creating something that wasn’t too scary, but scary enough, and what a delicate line that is.  Deborah Heiligman and Leuyen Pham talked about their book on the life and work of Paul Erdos (The Boy Who Loved Math)  as well as the esoteric system of Erdos numbers.  The wonderful Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin of Click, Clack, Moo! fame have been collaborating for 18 years.  Their newest is Click, Clack, Boo! They spoke about their collaboration and how much trust and respect they have for each other — also how they both share the same sense of humor (obvious if you’ve ever read their hilarious books about duck and Farmer Brown).

Everyone had such an interesting perspective on the work of picture book creating. It was really fascinating and inspirational.  I was so happy to meet finally Chris Raschka and Betsy Lewin  whose illustrations I adore and whose books Jamie grew up with (along with many of Anne’s).

Anne Rockwell and me outside of Books of Wonder after the event.  Do I look relieved?

Anne Rockwell and me outside of Books of Wonder
after the event. Do I look relieved?

It really is such a gift for kids to be able to meet authors and illustrators of the books they love.  If you ever have the opportunity, please do so!  Not every place is like  NYC where there are book events all the time, but in cities across the country, especially at independent book stores, there are events taking place often — and they are free!

With all these book events (not to mention deadlines and travel), this fall has been really busy.  It’s always a pleasure then to find a really, super easy recipe — especially one that is tasty, healthy, kid-friendly, and in this case, gluten free!

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread

I have several people in my life (friends, my niece, Jamie’s friend) who are gluten intolerant.  So I am always on the lookout for some yummy gluten free recipe I can pass onto them or make.  I saw this TWO ingredient plantain bread on purelytwins.com recently, and I’ve been making it and experimenting with different variations and flavors.  The twins recommend using yellow plantains with a few brown spots, as they are less starchy.  But if you want a sweeter, less tangy flavor, the dark ones work too.

plantains

I came up with this Double Chocolate Plantain Bread Mini Loaf that is so moist and delicious.  It’s a nice snack cake for after school or even for breakfast.  I added vanilla, sugar, cocoa powder and chocolate chips to the two ingredient aforementioned plantain bread.  I baked it in a mini loaf pan.  I made the batter in my Vitamix, but any blender or food processor would work just fine (I’ve also made it in a food processor but the Vitamix is easier to clean!)

chocolate plantain bread 2

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread Mini Loaf

non-stick spray

1 large plantain, either yellow with a lot of brown or all brown

2 eggs

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon (or more depending on your taste) sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line the bottom of a mini loaf with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

2.  Peel and slice plantain. Put in a blender or food processor with eggs, cocoa, and sugar.  Puree until smooth.

3.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Drop chips evenly on top and stir gently to incorporate.

4. Bake for 25-35 minutes, checking with a skewer.  If it comes out clean when poked in the center, the loaf is done.  Check at around 25 minutes.  The center can be very moist and pudding like.  If you like that texture, take it out.  If not, bake a bit longer.

5.  Let cake cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then remove and cool completely.

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Filed under Books, Desserts, Snack, Uncategorized, Vegetarian