Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's almost 8pm New Year's Eve and my date just fell asleep. My husband is at work ensuring drunken cheer when it turns midnight in Washington, DC so here I am sitting on the couch with the dog and the cat. This was the first year that my kid was old enough to continue a tradition from my childhood so that was my highlight. Every New Years' Eve as a kid my parents went out and left my brother and me at home with a babysitter. We were allowed to go and pick out large amounts of our favorite candies to fill our own big bowls, grab our sleeping bags, and watch tv all night in the family room til the ball dropped in Times Square. Which reflecting right now was kind of slick on their part since we were in Kansas (an hour behind New York). HEY! I don't think we ever made it, if anyone did it would have been my little brother, he has always been the night owl. I didn't have candy until my brother came along 4 years later and loosened up my parents. Until then they told me raisins were candy. Clint came and all the rules went out the window (he also saw a rated R movie -Pretty Woman- waaaaaay before me). So this was a REALLY big deal for me to have mounds and mounds of junk food on New Year's Eve.

So tonight my kid and I had our first New Year's Party for 2 and I stepped it up a notch from my early days.
With a quick run to the party store to grab a $5 backdrop of Times Square, an $8 ball pinata, and some party hats and noise makers we were ready to go!

Yes, he was very excited to use a bat indoors

Goodbye 2010!

So after the ball dropped and broke open we were ready for our feast

Tonight my kid had his first pixie stick and his first ring pop and loved every minute. We watched "Happy New Year, Charlie Brown" and "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" and he then asked if he could go to bed.
So here I am. The rest of the candy is hidden, Times Square is down and put away, and I about to type up the first blog menu of 2011 for Arubula's Kitchen while enjoying some peace, quiet, and champagne.

Happy 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I have to laugh because of all my recipes requested throughout 2010 my pickles were the most popular. I have heard from friends that they polished off the jar the same day it arrived (or very shortly after) even one report that they drank the pickle juice. I added a jar for good luck in my basket of goodies for my kid's teacher and she asked for more jars for her son as a Christmas gift. These pickles are super easy to make and if you don't have the time to can them you can stick them in the fridge.

6 pounds pickling cucumbers
3/4 cup sea salt
4 cups white vinegar
1 head garlic cloves, peeled
Dill seed
Fresh Dill
Black Peppercorns
8 mason jars

Rinse cucumbers in cold water, cut off the ends.Cut into wedges. Put cucumbers in glass bowl, add 1/2 cup salt, and cover with water. Cover for at least 8 hours.
Drain off brine. Rinse cucumbers.

In a medium pan combine vinegar, 3 1/2 cups water, 1/4 cup salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

In each jar place 4 garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon dill seed, 1 teaspoon dill, 8 peppercorns.

Pack cucumber into each jar and cover with vinegar solution. Wipe rim clean with damp cloth. Place on lid and screw bands until finger tip tight.

If canning, process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath (you know it's properly sealed if lift lid with fingertips and it doesn't loosen), let cool.

Otherwise just throw in the fridge, and any jars that don't seal through canning put in fridge.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Top 5 Cooking Resources of 2010

I was making my Christmas baking list, then my menu for Christmas dinner, and it got me thinking what cookbooks have I bought this year, which one's have I actually used, which one's have I loved. While thinking about it and thinking about sharing it with you I began to think about the publications I subscribe to and what I use most from those, and what about online, blogs, websites. Browsing through a cookbook should be inspiring, but not off putting....I would love to eat that, but there is no way I can make it or that looks awesome, but what is with all these absurd ingredients that will send me to 5 different stores to find maybe half of them. As a dairy free house who eats locally/seasonally and my sister in law is gluten free I have a lot of cookbooks for vegans, gluten free, seasonal cooking. I have an addiction to cookbooks. My "save for later" checkout cart at amazon is pages upon pages and I browse through picking up another few every so often (more often than every so). My top 5 may or may not be on NYT must have cookbooks of 2010, they may not have even been released this year, but they have been my go to's this year, giving me extra confidence when I am looking for inspiration they are going to help me out. So here is my list of Top 5 Cooking Resources of 2010.

1. The Divvies Bakery Cookbook
I have loved Divvies products for a few years, regularly ordering 5 lb bags of chocolate chips or festive lollipops for my kid or chocolate bars for s'mores in the summer. When I heard they had a cookbook coming out I could not wait. It was a name I trusted, and the cookbook has not let me down. I have by now made several items from the cookbook and nothing has been short of mouthwatering. I always enjoy people who sneer at dairy free claiming you can taste a difference. I laugh, because trust me, these days you can't and this cookbook proves it. (and this comes from a dairy lover) But not only is it dairy free it is also nut and egg free too. And it is hands down turning into one of my all time favorite baking cookbooks. *Note even if you don't have food allergies you should pick this one up.

2. Gourmet Today
I miss Gourmet magazine. It feels like I lost an old friend. Thankfully I have Gourmet Today to fill some of that void. Sometimes cookbooks feel like they left out that one ingredient that would put the dish into the WOW, but didn't want to share it's secret, well Gourmet Today is sharing the secret. When I'm wondering dinner and looking for inspiration this is my go to book.

3. ChopChop Magazine
Ok this one is a little young to get too excited about, but I have loved what I've seen so far. It's a quarterly magazine that launched in 2010. It is for kids, teaching them about food, choices, and getting them cooking. My 3 year old has loved looking through and we read it together. I hope this magazine sticks around for a while because it's a good one for a kid at any age.

4. Twitter
So I changed this one (if you read a little earlier). I was driving around thinking about it and I felt I needed to change it. I know it's broad, but following folks who cook and/or tweet links to blogs or food news, there have been many times this past year where I have a read a tweet and then printed out the recipe or run into the kitchen to make it or just gotten inspiration, advice, or a connection. Twitter has opened up my world to people who have similar interests from the farms that my food comes from, to chefs, to hobby cooks, gardeners, restaurants, etc. So Twitter should definitely be on this list.

5. The Flavor Bible
This is a fantastic resource to have in your library. It is full of awesome flavor profiles: what compliments each other, helps in what to stay away from combining, what is in season, it goes on. I have used this most of all of my cooking resources. Knowing what I have in my kitchen I would look up an ingredient and from there create a dish. Instead of reading a recipe and going to buy the ingredients, this book allows real creation to begin. Love it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Egg Nog Doughnut

I responded on a post yesterday for Kids with Food Allergies and had a good response asking for my Egg Nog Doughnut Recipe. We are a dairy free house so the recipe is written dairy free, trust me you won't taste a difference if you can have dairy, but you can use full dairy egg nog and butter if you choose. In parathesis are alternative allergy substitutions. I love Rice Dream Rice Nog and Kids with Food Allergies posted a recipe to make your own.

Rice Nog Doughnuts

3/4 cup rice nog
3 1/2 c all-purpose flour (gluten free all purpose flour)
1 Tbsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg (cinnamon can be substituted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp Chinese 5 spice (remove if you can't have nuts)
4 Tbsp vegan butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (egg substitution is fine here, just mix it with seltzer)

vegetable oil or shortening for frying

1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1-2 Tbsp Rice Nog
Nutmeg to sprinkle on top

To make doughnut:
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed beat butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and continue to beat until mixture is smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of bowl. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add rice nog. Add flour mixture and continue to mix until dough comes together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and SPRINKLE VERY GENEROUSLY (dough is really sticky otherwise) with flour. Turn dough onto one of the baking sheets and top with flour. Flatten with hands until 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if dough is still wet. Transfer to freezer until slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Cut out doughnuts (or I like using a circle cutter for doughnut holes). Put cut outs on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20-30 minute. (you can also cut out dougnuts and place in a freezer safe container for up to 2 weeks- great to make ahead for Christmas morning)

Add enough vegetable oil or shortening to deep sided pan for 3 inch deep. Line a plate with paper towels. When oil is hot fry each doughnut for approx 60 seconds- golden brown- flip. Drain on towel.

For Topping:
Slowly whisk rice nog in with confectioners sugar until it is a thick syrup.
Dunk donuts into topping and let rest.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Peppermint Truffles

This year I received a great present from my wonderful friend, Carrie (who needs to open her own bakery), a cookbook made just for me, "Kate's Just Desserts". It is full of her amazing dessert recipes. I received it a couple of weeks ago and have just been drooling over the recipes deciding what to make this year for my Christmas baking. Finally it's crunch time for holiday baking and I have a week long schedule of at least 2 treats a day. Whew. Today, day one, was truffles and day one prep for gingersnap cookies (a recipe I need to share with Carrie). The truffles are for the Sweet Swap at my kid's holiday party at school. I actually chose this recipe because I like to handwrite all my recipe cards and this one is the shortest recipe of all the sweets I am making in the next week. Also great is they are safe in the fridge for weeks and yield 60 a batch. Awesome to make ahead and not have to worry about them. I made two batches today, one is Carrie's original recipe for Chocolate Truffles and then my improv to make a festive Christmas Peppermint Truffle.

Carrie's recipe Chocolate Truffles from "Kate's Just Desserts"

1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate
1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp prepared coffee, optional
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
confectioners sugar
cocoa powder

Chop the chocolate finely with a sharp knife. Place them in a heat proof mixing bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boils. Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit for 20 seconds. Pour the cream through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl with chocolate. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolate together until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla and coffee, if using.  Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

With 2 teaspoons, spoon round balls of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll each ball of chocolate in your hands to roughly make it round. Roll in confectioners sugar, cocoa powder, or both. These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.

Now here's Arubula's Kitchen modified version for
Christmas Peppermint Truffles
as with anything that happens in my house, it has to be dairy free so in parathesis I have added the dairy free version

1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (vegan)
1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate (vegan)
1 cup heavy cream (Silk non dairy creamer)
1 Tbsp prepared coffee
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup smashed to powder candy mints

In a food processor chop chocolate until a fine powder. Place in a heat proof bowl.

Heat cream in a small saucepan until it just boils. Turn off the heat and allow cream to sit for 20 seconds. Pour cream through fine mesh sieve into the bowl with chocolate. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolate together until becomes creamy. Whisk in peppermint extract and coffee. Set aside at room temperature for one hour.

With 2 teaspoons, spoon blobs of chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper. Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Remove, roll blobs into balls in your hands to roughly make it round. Roll in powdered candy mints. Roll again in hands, then again in powder. Place back on baking sheet. Finish all truffles.
This will keep for refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.
*For extra holiday sparkle, 1/2 cup powdered candy mints, 1/2 cup red colored sugar

Now here's the really exciting part! I've just talked to Carrie and she has said I can give away a copy of her fantastic cookbook that was made just for me. So to one lucky reader you too can have Carrie's fantastic dessert cookbook! Thanks, Carrie!!! All you have to do is comment on this blog post. Share what you are baking for the holidays, a family tradition, something festive. For an extra entry you can "like" Arubula's Kitchen on facebook, retweet this contest on twitter, and/or mention in you blog comment that Carrie should open her open bakery. Winner will be chosen randomly Dec 26, 2010 at 12pm EST.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chicken Croquette...Mice

Chicken Croquettes Over Lemon Mache

This is such a fun meal for my kid and a fun meal for me because he eats it all up, greens and all. Then goes for seconds.

Chicken Croquettes

Sauce Bechamel: Combine in a small saucepan over very low heat 1 1/4 cup milk (almond milk works great for those who can't do dairy), 1/4 onion with 1 bay leave stuck to it using 2 whole cloves, and pinch of fresh nutmeg. Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered, to infuse flavor into the milk. Discard the onion, bay leaf, and cloves. Meanwhile, melt in a medium, heavy suacepan over low heat 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (vegan butter works fine), stir in 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, over medium-low heat until the roux is just fragrant, but not darkened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Slowly whisk in warm milk and return the saucepan to the heat. Bring the suace slowly to a simmer, whishing to preven lumps, and cook, stirring often, and skimming any skin that forms on the surface, over low heat without boiling, until it reaches the consistency of thick cream soup, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Melt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat 1 tablespoon butter, stir in 1 cup chopped onions. Stir often until tender but still crunchy, 7-10 minutes. Add the sauce bechamel and cook for 1 minute. Scrape the sauce into a large bowl and combine thoroughly with 2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 cup cooked rice, salt to taste. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and refrigerate until very cold and firm, at least 2 hours.

Spread in an even layer on 2 separate plates 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Whisk together in a wide shallow bowl 2 large eggs. Drop a generous 1/4 cup scoop of the croquette mixture on the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs and gently roll until the rough ball is evenly coated on all sides. While rolling, shape the croquette into ball. Set aside on plate. Repeat with remaining mixture.

Heat heavy pot over medium-high heat 8 cups vegetable oil. Gently drop 4 croquettes in the hot fat and fry until deep brown on all sides, 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Fry the remaining croquettes.

For kids, cut two slices of carrots for "ears" and a thin slice of carrot for a "tail", get 3 craisins to create "eyes" and "nose". Place appropriately on croquette ball to create a mouse. Put mache in front of mouse as though he's eating the greens. This is one of my son's favorites.


Using a handful of mache for each serving put in large bowl. Squeeze 1/2 of a lemon's juice over greens, 1 teaspoon ground pepper, 1/4 cup craisins and mix. This is my son's favorite green, especially served this way.

Make a bed of greens on a plate, place two croquettes on each plate, and serve with 1 lemon wedge.

Birthday Cakes

Every year I try to make a cake that gets my kid to say "WOW". Since he has food allergies I have to make his birthday cakes. I had never made a decorated cake unless you count mix out of a box and frosting out of a can put on a round cake. Well, 3 years later I now agonize just how I am going to pull off the wow factor this year.

 First Birthday, "Little Einsteins"

Second Birthday, Rockstar Birthday

Third Birthday, Superheroes.

And of course, 1/2 a cake on your 1/2 birthday. This was 3 1/2.
My most stressful cake. Happy 4th Birthday!

School Snacks

One of my joys is seeing how creative I can be with preschool snack. We are in charge of snack one day each month, so I like to focus on the letter of the week or what subject they are focusing on that month. Here are some of my snacks.

"Alphabet Ocean"
This was in June as the kids were about to be out for the summer. I floated gummy alphabet letters in blue jell-o (each ocean did make a word if you dug out the letters) and put Teddy Grahams in life saver floating the seas.

This snack was for the month when the kids were working on their class garden. I used a cookie cutter to cut watermelon flowers and a hole cookie cutter to make a cantalope center. The insects are made from celery, piped with hummus, and pretzel wings.

Vroooommmm into "C" week. A Teddy Graham takes the wheel of this race car made of celery, carrot, and currants.

At the end of the rainbow discover the magic of learning the letter "R".  By using jello and some popcorn this becomes a very popular treat.

1/4 cup butter
3 Tbs corn syrup
1 pkg of jello- color/flavor of choice
4 cups popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Bring butter and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan. Add in jello and reduce heat to low, stir until jello is dissolved. Pour syrup over popcorn. Mix well, coating popcorn. Spread on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool then break apart. Serve.

Keep checking back as more snacks will be added as school goes on!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Double It Up

As you are doing all of your cooking for the Holidays, double the recipe. You're already cooking, cook twice as much and have some freezer meals for those hectic days that are sure to come up when you don't have time to cook. Make sure you date and label the contents in a freezer safe container for storage. Also make sure the dish/ingredient you are freezing has completely cooled before freezing. It is even easier when you freeze it in individual portion size.
For more frozen recipes Arubula's Kitchen: A Week of Frozen Dinners

Recently I was making a sweet potato puree for raviolis, so I doubled it up. I do this with vegetable purees, soups, meatloaf (cooked in a mini muffin pan), lasagnas...Anything that has a high water content so it will make for good freezing.

This is a really easy dinner to make. You will need:
Wonton Wrappers
6 sweet potatoes,
whites from 1 egg,
2 tablespoons maple syrup
                                                                   1 teaspoon salt
                                                            1 tablespoon brown sugar
                                                                       fresh sage

Put a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Half the sweet potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over sweet potatoes and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 1 hour or until soft. Let cool. Scoop insides of sweet potato into food processor. Add maple syrup and brown sugar. Puree.

Put a large pot of water on stove and bring to a boil.

Start assembling your raviolis.
*You can do this using only one wonton wrapper and folding over and pinching or using two, sandwiching the puree inside and using a fork to pinch edges.

Either way of assembly start with a small spoonful of the puree in the middle of a wonton wrapper. Brush egg whites on edges of wrapper and fold over pinching the sides. Add a second on top if you are using two.
Place in finishing raviolis in boiling water and cook for a little over a minute. Drizzle melted butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and chopped sage over. (I sometime add chopped sausage with the pasta for my kid)

Kid's Plate

Taking the extra puree put into an ice cube tray (mini ice cube trays work great too!)

Let cool completely, then place in freezer till frozen, depending on size ice cube tray will depend on freezing time. Anywhere between 1 hour-4 hours.
Pop them out when frozen put in a dated and labeled freezer bag and put them in the freezer. This is great to take out for sweet potato dishes, pies, raviolis, baby food, soups.
For more frozen recipes Arubula's Kitchen: A Week of Frozen Dinners
*Thank you, Sonya for the time saving genius of using wonton wrappers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Arubula's Kitchen is teaming up with Run4Haiti. Their goal is to raise $10,000 before the anniversary of Haiti's earthquake on January 12, 2011. For your donation you will receive a one week menu from Arubula's Kitchen, created just for your table, complete with grocery list.

How to make the donation and receive this offer:
Donate at They will send me your email address after receiving your donation. I will email you a questionnaire helping me learn more about your table. After you email it back to me your menu and grocery list will be emailed to you the following Friday. If you would like to give your week as a gift a printable gift certificate can be emailed to you or recipient or a gift certificate can be mailed to an address provided.
No minimum donation required.
Run4Haiti also has Christmas Cards available!

Need to reach us?
Arubula's Kitchen: