Homemade Corn Tortillas - the easy way

I know you are thinking, homemade tortillas for breakf
ast why bother? Well my job is to get kids interested in food and this is faster and more fun than you may think! Make the tortillas, fry some eggs add cheese and black beans and you have a meal.
Cast Iron Tortilla Press
You do need a tortilla press, but a few sheets of parchment and a rolling pin or two baking dishes will double as a press just fine. If you have a Mexican market near you you will likely find an inexpensive press there. You can pick up a bag of Maseca too. You can find this in the ethnic isle of your grocery store too. I use Maseca, code name, masa harina..... just add water, it is that easy. Now get the kids working it is just like playdough.

Follow the recipe on the bag.
I add a bit of salt and a squeeze of lime juice

Combine masa harina with water.

Mix with hands until dough is moist but holds its shape. Add more water if needed.

Let dough rest for 15 minutes. Divide dough into 12 balls. Dampen your hands slightly with water.

Using a tortilla press or two flat baking dishes, press dough between two pieces of waxed paper to a 6 inch round. Carefully peel off the top sheet of paper.

Place tortilla, paper side up, on a hot ungreased griddle or skillet. Gently peel off remaining paper.

Cook for 30 seconds or until edges begin to dry. Turn and cook until surface appears puffy. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Keep warm in tin foil in a low oven.

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Beans, beans...you - know - the - rest!

I never gave beans much thought, I mean, yes creamy white beans with a touch of brothy red sauce and a crust of bread, I can get in to that. But growing up in a kosher household it was bagels and Lox, not rice and beans. I didn't really discover rice and beans until I came to California, now beans are one of our everyday foods. Kids love them because they are soft, flavorful and they forget they are a vegetable!
But they are...more than that they are fiber, flavor and a perfect food.
I am lucky enough to have been asked to be on The Bean Expert Advisory Network (B.E.A.N.) which is composed of nationally renowned food, nutrition, health and culinary experts who advise on ways to help Americans achieve the 2008 Dietary Guidelines.
The recommendation is to consume 3 cups per week of legumes, such as beans, as part of a healthy diet.
Here is a breakfast idea to help you start to get those beans in your family's diet. My colleague Connie Guttersen, R.D. PhD developed this one. She is an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America and author of The Sonoma Diet.
As with any recipe for children, you can alter it to your family's taste, play around a bit.

Rise and Shine Burrito

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes

1 (16 ounce) can BUSH'S® Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 small eggs, lightly beaten
8 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh tomato salsa
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup sliced green onions
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Heat beans in a medium sauce pot. Set aside.
Heat a nonstick large pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and eggs. Using a spatula, cook and stir until eggs are scrambled. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread the pinto beans in the lower section of the tortilla; top with cheese and eggs. Place salsa and avocados on top. Garnish with sliced green onions.
Fold the outer 1/2-inch left and right sides of the tortilla in. This will help keep the filling inside once you roll your tortilla into a burrito.
Warm completed burritos in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

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Bento Lunch #2

Here is a quick nut free camp lunch for a hot summer day. 

The sandwich: Biscoff spread and cream cheese. Biscoff or Speculoos spread looks like peanut butter but is nut free, unfortunately it is not available in the U.S. yet. I was working on a photo shoot and was lucky enough to get a hold of a jar!

Veggies: baby carrots and cooked sliced purple potatoes

Fruit: blackberries and banana

snack: Goldfish crackers and a frozen thawed filo cup with avocado and shredded cheese.
yogurt, frozen to add chill to the box.

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Doof-a-Palooza was Fun-a-Palooza!

Yesterday was a fantastic day for us at the amazing Google campus. 

Toddler Café  and  What's Cooking 
teamed up to create a fun interactive booth at  DOOF

DOOF is a food show for kids with a mission to help fight childhood obesity. We made Happy Trails Mix from my book. The recipe helps kids with fine motor skills and teaches about recycling by using old bags.
Kids and parents cut circles out of brown paper bags.  The circles were then decorated, formed into a cone shape and filled with dried fruit and other healthy snacks.

We also gave away Boon Snack Balls, they were a huge hit. For the give away we put a bunch of healthy play food in a big stockpot and without looking the kids chose one. If they got the marked veggie they won!! We had lots of fun and made tons of noise every time we had a winner.
We handed out a recipe card with a recipe from Toddler Café generously printed by The Vegetable With More a website promoting beans and fiber in the American diet.

A big thank you to our volunteers, Jessica, Drew and Maria and sponsors, Boon and The Vegetable with More.

Stay tuned to see our gang on a cooking segment with  Joey Altman.

Below is a clip from the Show which is due to air sometime this all on PBS.

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Red White and Pink on the 4th

Instead of the typical 4th of July strawberry, blueberry and whipped cream dessert we decided to make our famous marshmallows. We usually only make them at Christmas time who says there are rules about white-ish desserts, it's not like I was wearing white after Labor Day or anything.

We got this beautiful hand marbled paper effect by using a skewer and drops of food coloring. We put the mixture in a pan and dropped tiny drops of our food coloring right on top, a little goes a long way.

Then we used a skewer and dragged it all over the pan. I thought it was really pretty but unfortunately my smarty pants daughter let me know that they looked more PINK, white and blue! Whatever color they turned out they were delicious. Here is the recipe:

You can make them white or add coloring. Add color either when mixing or use a skewer to drag color through them after you have put them in the pan but before chilling. Getting them out of the pan can be tricky, be patient and pull slowley if they give you trouble. Use clear vanilla to get bright white marshmallows, you can get it at a baking supply store.

Confectioners’ sugar or more for dusting
2 Tbs plus 2 1/2 teaspoons or 3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup warm water about 115°F
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites (pasturized are ok to use)
1 tsp vanilla
Food coloring of choice.

1. Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal
baking pan (non stick works great) and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners' sugar.

2. In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle
gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften.

3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, hot
water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until
sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium and boil mixture,
without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers
240°F about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture
over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

4. With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high
speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 6
minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held
mixer. (if making one color batch add color here)

5. In a large bowl with cleaned beaters beat whites (or
reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat
whites and vanilla into sugar mixture by hand until just combined. Pour
mixture into baking pan (add color here for swirl effect) and sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly
over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours,
and up to 1 day.

6. Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large
cutting board. Lifting up 1 corner of inverted pan, with fingers
loosen marshmallow and let drop onto cutting board. With a large knife
trim edges of marshmallow and cut into small squares.
Shake confectioners sugar over the sticky edges, serve.
Keep them chilled overnight to retain freshness.

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The Vegetables, They Talk to Me

I always thought I had some sort of culinary ADD. I’ve always had trouble sticking to a recipe. I’m always straying from the ingredient list and making substitutions. I thought it was because I was creative and curious but I have since found out that my actions go deeper than that. I think I am listening to the ingredients.

I start to hear them the minute I go into a store or stroll through the farmers market, “Hey you, the one with the curls… I’m talking to you. Don’t I look delicious, green, and crisp, and I’d be oh-so-good with caramelized onions and crunchy toasted almonds. You have those at the home right??” “Pick me, pick me!”

No, I’m not hallucinating. I don’t really believe in talking veggies, but I do believe that if we open our ears we can hear all kinds of important things.

I guess when I’m walking around the grocery store, I fall into a sort of culinary meditation, a trance-like state where I become like a kid in a candy store. Mouth agape, I pick up things, smell things, look closely at the spices and fruits. And my brain is quickly calculating whether anything in my pantry would taste good with this particular pear or with that ripe red tomato.

I listen to the people around me too. Being used to the high-pitched sound of my daughters voice, my ears perked up when I heard a similar voice nearby. Right next to me a child was begging for “rainbow” carrots–a beautiful bunch of golden, beet-red and orange carrots. I saw a few more moms and dads shopping with their kids and I heard their conversations clearly, “Dad, I want to try these tomatoes, please.”

I was so taken by these little ones who were so interested in the fresh produce section. It was such a departure from what I am used to hearing in the store–the frantic scurry to find the sweetest, most colorful boxed snack or lunch item. I smiled to myself and wondered if perhaps the vegetables were talking to them too?

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