Monday, July 28, 2008


My niece and nephew were visiting this past weekend so we decided to do something fun for our Saturday night dinner - Fondue party! My niece and nephew had never tried fondue and it had been awhile since we have made fondue with our kids. My husband and his family love fondue and made it for all birthdays when he was growing up. So we have made it a tradition in our house as well. It sounds cheesy (no pun intended) but kids love fondue! You get to stab things with a fork and dip it into yummy cheese - how can you go wrong? We always do cheese and chocolate. Getting the right consistency is always key with fondue, but with kids, it's even more important to have the right foods to dip. This weekend we had:
• 1 loaf whole wheat french bread – strategically cut so that each piece has at least one side of crust
• broccoli (not in season right now so store bought bag of florets to save time), blanched
• small pickles
• mushrooms
• baby potatoes, boiled until just starting to soften and cut in half

You can dip just about anything that is firm enough - try cauliflower, carrots, olives, cucumber, peppers, and garlic cloves. The kids loved it! They had a great time dipping and trying different things, figuring out which was their favorite.

We used a basic fondue recipe:


• ½ clove garlic
• 1 lb. Gruyere cheese
• 8 oz. Emmentaler cheese
• 1 ½ cups dry white wine
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 4 teaspoons cornstarch
• pepper
• pinch of nutmeg

1. Grate the cheese and toss with the cornstarch.
2. Rub the inside of the fondue pot with the cut surface of the garlic.
3. Mix together lemon juice and wine and heat in the pot over medium heat.
4. Once hot enough to melt the cheese but not boiling, begin adding the cheese one handful at a time, stirring until melted.
5. Stir constantly and continue adding the cheese until the fondue is a smooth and creamy texture. Add nutmeg and a few dashes of pepper.
6. Remove from the stove and place over a flame.

This makes enough for 4-6 adults. It could easily serve 6-8 adults if you started with a salad.

Then, of course, we did some chocolate fondue (see pictures above). Just heat about 1/4 cup of milk in a pan on the stove and add about 1/2 bag of chocolate chips, stirring constantly and removing when smooth and creamy. Chocolate fondue is easy to experiment with - we often do peanut butter and chocolate. This time, we added a handful of chopped chocolate mint from our garden (yes, there really are chocolate mint plants). We have a very small ceramic fondue pot that sits over a tea candle that is perfect for chocolate. This time, we just dipped strawberries, blueberries (from the Farmer's Market) and pound cake (keep pound cake refrigerated until serving to help it stay together). It was divine! I have to admit, the chocolate was a bit messy for the four-year-old but well worth it!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kid's Choice: Goat Cheese and Banana Muffins

We started our weekend at the Farmer's Market, buying produce and some of our favorite local cheese. The cheese booth has become a favorite. On a previous trip, the owner let Lillian wear a Cheesehead hat and ever since, that booth has been her favorite. And, we recently discovered that our girls love their goat cheese - Lillian picked out her own package of goat cheese this week (she picked a ball rolled in herbs). I know, goat cheese for a one and four year old! My husband says that he didn't even try goat cheese until he met me, which was in his mid-twenties.

We also picked up some great green tomatoes and corn on the cob. For Saturday night dinner, we had fried green tomatoes with a goat cheese roasted red pepper spread, corn on the cob roasted on the grill, and grilled tofu (marinated in olive oil, garlic, fresh basil and fresh oregano, which made a nice crust).

After dinner we made some vegan banana muffins with some over-ripe bananas we had. They turned out delicious - very moist. Lillian and I made them together with a recipe from Better than Peanut Butter & Jelly by Marty Mattare & Wendy Muldawer:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 T unsweetened applesauce
2 bananas, mashed
1 T water
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
Dash Cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with vegetable cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until blended. Spoon batter evenly into muffin pan. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from pan immediately. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

I reprinted this here without permission. You can buy this great cookbook here: This cookbook was given to me by a great mom who loves to cook, Maria Mangano.

Wonders from the Summer Gardens (of Others!)

Last week brought some wonderful surprises in the produce department, especially in light of last week’s post (and the further encouragement to eat local in light of continuing salmonella outbreaks). My co-workers shared cucumbers, tomatoes (yellow and red!) and purple eyed peas. We are new to purple-eyed peas – but, being vegetarian, we are always open to the wonders of the bean world. So, amidst our usual hurried weeknight meals, we tried some new things.

The week started with the free cucumbers. I made cucumber almond gazpacho. My one year old loved it, but our four year old refused to try it. Her tastes change on a daily basis these days:) I love gazpacho because it’s so cool and refreshing in the summer and you can get very creative with ingredients. We have done cucumber gazpacho before but the almonds are new (I had a delicious almond gazpacho in New Orleans last month that served as the inspiration for this recipe).

Cucumber Almond Gazpacho


• 1 cup whole almonds
• 4 medium size cucumbers or 6 small, peeled and roughly diced
• 2 T fresh dill
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 T lemon juice
• 1 T olive oil
• 2 T white wine vinegar
• 1 cup water

Put dill and garlic in food processor and process briefly. Blanch almonds and peel. Add almonds and olive oil in food processor, and process for one minute. Add remaining ingredients and process until desired consistency. You will want to add more or less of the vinegar and water, depending on your taste and how thick you like it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lilly's Eggplant Stew

Last night we made an eggplant stew that was a combination of Indonesian and Moroccan recipes we have used in the past. We served the stew with pineapple rice. The whole family loved it. I am calling it Lilly's stew because my daughter, Lillian, picked out the eggplant at the Farmer's Market.

  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 2 medium size sweet potatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 t ginger
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1 t brown sugar
  • Cilantro, as much or as little as you like
  1. Saute over medium heat onion, garlic and sweet potatoes with a dash of olive oil and the ginger and crushed red pepper, until onion starts to brown and sweet potatoes start to soften. [I didn't have any fresh ginger on hand, and my husband isn't a huge ginger fan, BUT, if you like ginger, fresh ginger would be good. I only used a few pinches of crushed red pepper for the kids.]
  2. Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, soy sauce and brown sugar in a bowl.
  3. Add the eggplant and chopped tomatoes with a dash of salt and continue to cook over medium heat for another two minutes or so.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk mixture and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer about 10-15 minutes - until the eggplant is soft and the sauce thickens.
  5. Serve with cilantro and sour cream, if desired, over a bed of pineapple rice.

For the pineapple rice, I used basmati rice made with about 3/4 cup of pineapple juice (the amount of juice in a can of pineapple chunks) and 1 1/4 cup of water. You could also add some garbanzo beans to the stew for some added protein.

As a side note, the coconut cream and pineapple juice were left over from making the "Tropsicles" in the July/August 2008 Vegetarian Times Magazine.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Eating Local

We buy locally grown produce, eggs and cheese as much as possible. We are very lucky to have great Farmer's Markets in our areas. We go to (which has a playground) and The South Estes market just started this year but has already grown to over a dozen booths.

The kids love to go and try the samples and walk around the market. It also helps to have them help pick out the items and help cook with them later. I find that my 4 year old is more likely to eat vegetables she has picked out herself!

To find out about eating local in your area, visit