Strawberry & Rhubarb Season Repost

Had to repost this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe.  Now is the perfect time to pick your own strawberries and rhubarb and also to make this crisp.

A request was put in for me to bring my banana cream pie (this one I’d created the crust out of banana Cheerios) to a friend’s barbecue.  But it was forecast to be one of the hottest, most horrifically humid days of the hottest July’s on record, last thing I wanted to do was stand over the stove whisking the eggs and sugar until they reach 165°F.  So instead, I baked a crisp.  At least I could leave the kitchen while it was in the oven.

I had some rhubarb from my CSA and I bought some organic strawberries (we’re into blueberries round here now).  They make such a great sweet-tart combination and I wanted to use up the rhubarb. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
In a bowl mix: 

2 cups of strawberries, cut·
1 1/2 – 2 cups of rhubarb, cut 
sugar- about 1 Tbsp, just enough to coat them
juice of 1/4 lemon
2 Tbsp flour 

Crumb topping:

2 cups oats·        
2 cups oat flour (or wheat flour)        
1 cup minus 2 Tbsp loosely packed brown sugar
1/4 c maple syrup
1 stick butter (if you use unsalted add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt) cut into small pieces.  

Mix ingredients together until you notice crumbly appearance.

 Pour into 9×9 inch glass pan and top with crumb mixture.

Bake  it at 400°F for 20 minutes then at 325° for 20 minutes.  I warmed it later at my friend’s in the oven and served it with vanilla ice cream.   

My eldest son loved it! The other kids weren’t interested that evening, but had some as left-overs next day.  Next time I’ll make nectarine and blueberry pie or crisp, my other favorite combo.  

Baking Hacks- for when you’re short on time

While preparing to bake a Sticky Banana Toffee Pudding, I decided to share a few of my baking hacks; things to do to make baking easier and more successful. 

You may notice recipes usually state ‘use room temperature eggs (as well as) butter’, but you may not have taken the eggs and butter out to warm up enough by the time you’ve started baking.  It’s actually quite important when you’re creaming butter, sugar and eggs to not have butter and eggs that are cold.  If you don’t have the ingredients at the right temperature it won’t cream properly.  If too cold the butter will look like tiny pieces of rice in a puddle of egg stuff.  And if you’ve melted it, it also might not bake properly.  (Whereas in making pastry (crust) you do want cold butter.)

These tips will help get around the time constraints, so you can have warm enough ingredients.

IMG_0991Most commonly people know to soften the butter in the microwave, but it’s important to cut the butter into small cubes and use a low setting.  It’s also helpful to move the pieces around on the plate or bowl, so that they’re evenly softened (otherwise some melt while others are cold).

IMG_0989Once you’ve gotten the butter temperature correct, placing it into a cold stainless mixing bowl will not help your goal.  It’ll cool it down again.   So, put warm water in the bowl or place the bowl in warm water for a couple of minutes and tip out before adding the butter.  Too hot and butter will melt.  But warm, the butter won’t congeal again.IMG_0993

IMG_0988Last tip is one I discovered myself but I’m sure it’s been done elsewhere.  Since we refrigerate our eggs in the US, one usually needs to plan to bake with eggs by taking them out of the fridge in time to take the chill off.  But you can place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes.  Again, not hot water, but warmer than lukewarm.  The butter, sugar and eggs will look fluffy if you’ve got the right temperature. 

These tricks will help you bake great cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and cookies.

©2014 MyKidsReallyEatThis 

Rosemary Olive Bread

Yesterday's Rosemary Olive Bread

Yesterday’s Rosemary Olive Bread

Yesterday I baked a white loaf for a friend who’d recently had surgery.  Since it was a crummy day and the oven was hot I decided to make some more bread; just something a bit different.  I came up with this recipe and tried to duplicate it today without the bread maker (which I used just to mix/knead the dough) and I’d used the last of the potato flour yesterday.  Today’s was a bit different, but really didn’t matter too much as they were both delicious! 

Today's Rosemary Olive Bread

Today’s Rosemary Olive Bread

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Gluten-Free Cardamom Quinoa & Oatmeal Cookies


This gallery contains 3 photos.

I’ve been eating trying to eat just gluten-free foods the past couple of weeks. I haven’t put my whole family on it yet, as we are such bread and pasta loving individuals.  I’m finding it difficult to find a really good gluten-free … Continue reading

Greatest Dessert Find

An opportunity to cook for a friend who recently severely broke his leg came up yesterday and since I had so much housework to do, I seized the moment.  I’d much rather help someone out, especially when cooking is part of it, than vacuum or fold laundry. (And I wonder where my son’s avoidance of non-preferred tasks comes from.)  I was going to make pork chops, but I must have purchased old ones because they were no good.  So I changed to a Moroccan style (of course) stew with chick peas, chicken, tomatoes, peppers and kale.  I served it with couscous.  I ended up saving a little for us, which came in handy when our dinner plans changed at dinner time.  The boys ate it all without complaints and they really loved the couscous (it’s so quick and easy to make too).

But what I really was excited about making and giving was the dessert.  It was the ultimate recipe that I’ve been trying to find but not quite finding the right one.  But this Banana Sticky Toffee Pudding was it; this one is really what I had been searching for all along.  The differences that make this recipe stand out against my other attempts are using less flour and baking it in a water bath but most of all roasting the bananas in their skins.  Roasting the bananas changes the chemistry of the starches/sugars before you mash them and their sweetness really comes out.  As one friend said, you could probably just take those mashed bananas and serve them over ice cream at that point.  I made the recipe in a one large dish a few days earlier but didn’t roast the bananas and realized what a difference it made after doing it.

The recipe comes from Ruth Pretty’s Favourite Recipes.  Ruth is a well-known New Zealand chef and author who has catered to cultural and political elite including royalty.  She has an amazing cooking school and catering facility on the Kapiti Coast, which I have had the pleasure of having touring with my close friend who works for Ruth.   Ruth herself was very sweet and I was truly in awe of her operation.  Well, I found the recipe while I was looking through the book trying to find a Pavlova recipe.  When I read it I knew I’d stumbled across the bestest of Sticky Toffee Puddings!!

Sweet Basil’s Sticky Banana Pudding via Ruth Pretty

3 ripe bananas (skin on)

180g unsalted butter, room temp

180g (¾ cup + 3 Tbsp) sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup flour

1½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Grease 10 ramekins or other oven safe dishes.  Pour toffee sauce into base about ¼ inch deep and set aside.  Preheat oven to 200ºC (392ºF).  Place whole bananas in a baking dish and bake in their skins for 10 minutes or until they are mushy.  Cool.  Peel off the skins, mash and set aside. 

With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until creamy and smooth.  Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add banana and vanilla and mix well.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt into mixture and fold in.  Spoon batter into ramekins (allow for expansion) and place in a roasting dish.  Pour hot water to about 2 cm deep (or halfway up sides of dishes) in the roasting dish and cover entire dish with foil.  Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes (until they’re spongy to touch).  Remove foil and cool on a rack.  To serve: run a knife around side to separate then tip upside down onto a plate, pouring toffee sauce from bottom over top of the pudding.  Add any additional warmed sauce you’d like and serve with whipped cream.  Sea salt on top is a nice option.This picture doesn’t really do it justice.  I was having camera trouble and this was the best I could do.

Of course my kids loved them… and the friend I made them for did as well! 

Birthday Cake Disaster

I don’t call myself a baker for good reasons— I am often too impatient to allow the proper processes and I tend to improvise, which can often end in disaster.  (Plus distractions can also lead to baking failure). Whereas cooking is actually open to not following directions as long as you have an idea of what flavors will go well together.  I once had a flat mate that mixed too many different herbs and spices and each meal tasted like it was burnt but it wasn’t actually overcooked.  Baking is a science with chemical reactions depending upon temperature and mixing the specific ingredients in sequence.  If you stray from the sequential order, forget or add something, or if the weather is not right for what you’re working with… not the best outcome. 

My youngest son turned four so I baked a cake for his party and make cupcakes to bring into his preschool class.  I followed my friend Amanda’s chocolate cake recipe (adding white chocolate chips) but I missed the part about lining with parchment (or flouring) and just greased the pan.  It stuck and broke and I was left with a horrible-looking mess.  Ugh.  Looking back I remember when I’ve made cakes in the past and they always say to grease and flour or line pan but last time I baked a “real” cake (not quick bread or brownies) was a year earlier for his 3rd. 

Well, I just thought I’ll try to save it by turning into an ice cream cake.  So I made some vanilla ice cream and added chocolate chips (yes, made— I got an ice cream maker for my birthday last year and I knew I’d have to soften a store bought tub enough to spread on cake, which could end in an expensive mess).  Now it would have worked nicely had I been patient enough to freeze the cake for more than 20 minutes (I wanted to take the boys for a hike) and wait to get the ice cream a little more frozen.  But, I didn’t.  I spread the lovely tasting ice cream over the mess of a cake and stuck it in the freezer.  When we got back from our fantastic hike, I checked on the cake and the ice cream had mostly melted and then refroze into the cake.  Man!

The next morning I made the frosting and actually got the cake looking pretty good considering its mistakes. But we had a 20 minute drive to the birthday party place and it was cold out— good for ice cream cake had it stayed outside instead of on the floor with 73F heat blowing on it!  Now it was more like a chocolate frosted mess swimming in a cream pool.  Luckily they had a fridge so the damage didn’t progress too much more. 

It made me realize if I insist on baking I should give myself plenty of time and read all the directions.   The cake actually tasted great to me and the parents who had some.  The kids’ reviews were mixed of those that ate any as some wouldn’t have any.   Since many children focus on aesthetics I completely understand why some would pass on even a taste.  

If you make this, put cake layer in freezer for at least an hour or two before topping with ice cream.

Vanilla with Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk or half and half

3/4 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

2 tsp real vanilla extract (used bourbon vanilla)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

pinch of sea salt

Over medium-low heat mix cream, milk, sugar, salt and egg yolks.  Stirring often until mixture is just about boiling.  Lower heat and stir in vanilla.  Keep stirring while it thickens slightly (for thicker ice cream increase egg yolk amount).  Chill for at least half an hour before pouring into ice cream maker.  My ice cream maker takes about 25-30 minutes for a nice creamy yet frozen ice cream.  Add chocolate chips in last few turns.I didn’t want it too stiff so that I could easily spread it on the cake.  (It was all for naught really, but the cake was super moist!)  The ice cream itself was also super delicious! 

A Day of Baking

We have new neighbors so I made some cookies and bars to bring over to them; welcome them. They haven’t moved in yet, doing renovations, but the builder was there and put them in the fridge. I got a message that did get them at least, just have to wait to meet them.

I made the Apricot In-Betweens my friend blogged about here. I actually made 3/4 of the pan with apricot and put chocolate chips in the other 1/4. Both tasted great.

I thought of making some chocolate cookies but didn’t have the patience (nor time) to make most recipes- melting chocolate and then chilling the dough for a couple of hours when there was a ton of housework calling out to me, just didn’t seem like the best idea. So, chocolate chip cookies are an easy thing to make. But still I wanted something, more… I found it in the form of Ghirardelli’s White Mocha Hot Chocolate Mix. I made the recipe (but just half) from just the back of a Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chip package but substituted the White Mocha mix for the white sugar. It was subtle but delicious, especially when still warm from the oven.

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt       

1/2 tsp baking soda

Set aside. 

Mix until creamy:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Ghirardelli’s White Mocha mix

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla

Add 1 egg and beat.

Mix in dry ingredients.

Stir in 1/2 package chocolate chips (about 6-8 oz)

Place rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake at 375F (preheated) for 8-10 minutes.  Makes about two dozen cookies.


I also mixed the ingredients together for the No-Knead Bread I posted here.  It’s best to mix the dough the day before you’re baking it.  I made this one with regular flour and just a Tbsp of ground flax-seed.  Yum!  Really, such a great method.  I never used to bake bread, now I make it all the time!

Accidental Baker

As I’ve mentioned before I’m not much of a baker, but I seem to be doing my fair share lately.  I attribute some of it to getyourbakeon!, some to actually finding out how easy it is to bake delicious artisanal bread, and some to my natural curiosity when it comes to creating things that I think would go well together.  I often cook this way too, occasionally it’s because I like certain combinations of flavors or that I’ve had some dish in a restaurant and I try to replicate it — even if it’s not the exact ingredients, it often doesn’t matter because it usually works out well.  

I recently bought the kids Banana Cheerios thinking they’d like it, but they don’t.  So, what to do with the box?  Throw it away?  Then two days ago I figured out what I would  do with it.  I had a party to go to yesterday and needed to bring something.  I had some overripe bananas and decided to make banana cream pie with the Banana Cheerios as the crust.  I had never seen or read about using them, just thought they’d make a good one.  I looked up some recipes for graham cracker crusts and other cookie crusts, so I got the general idea of what to do. 

The filling isn’t as easy as pie, but if you have some time and an instant read thermometer(I suggest you get one if you don’t— best way to figure out if your chicken or steak is done), it’s doable.   I found some recipes (Icebox Pies by Lauren Chattman was my main source) and then adjusted them to my preference. 

         Banana Cream Pie  

  • 2 Tbsp cold water
  • 2 tsp of gelatin (about 2/3 packet)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla (separated into two 1 teaspoon portions)
  • 5 cups Banana Cheerios
  • 1 stick butter, melted

For the crust, preheat oven to 375F.  In a Cuisinart, use regular metal blade to chop the cheerios until they are small crumbs.  Add the melted butter and 1 tsp of vanilla.  They should be mixed until they stick when pressed together.  Pour mixture into pie plate and press to edges.  Bake for 6-8 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl dissolve the gelatin in water (sprinkle on top or stir in, it works either way), set aside.  Whip cream and when stiff, put in fridge for use later.  In a double boiler (metal bowl over couple of inches of boiling water) whisk the eggs and sugar together (temper) until they reach 160 F.  Remove from heat and beat in gelatin— mix for several minutes until creamy and fairly cool.  Stir in bananas, salt and 1 tsp vanilla.  Fold in 2/3 of the whipped cream. Pour into cooled crust.  Chill in fridge for an hour then use the remaining whipped cream to spread on top.

I made the bread again and also turned a failed blueberry mousse into ice cream. 


© 2010