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Adorable Empanadas, or How I Scored a Princess Bat 3

Posted on February 19, 2011 by crankycheryl

Z.’s kindergarten teacher saw that I was making empanadas on a Facebook post, and asked if I might come in and do them with the class.  They were wrapping up their five-senses unit, and a hands-on cooking activity seemed a fun way to use those senses.

If you’re not familiar with them, empanadas are little turnovers popular in South America and parts of the Caribbean.  The crust is flaky like a pie crust, though just a bit more doughy.  Often filled with spiced ground meat, they can also contain vegetables, beans, even sweet fruit fillings (think portable pie).  I let Z. pick the flavor (potato and cheese) and started the planning.

The constraints were time and food safety, and the desire to give them a good product that they could succeed at while feeling proud of.   (If you’ve ever cooked with a group of kids you know that they can feel cheated if they don’t have something substantial to do in the creation of the food.)

The solution was to prepare the filling and crust ahead of time, and to leave out the raw eggs or anything that could be dangerous if a kid found himself sampling the ingredients raw.   Easy.  So, with my bag full of dough and filling, I arrived for the activity, we talked about how we use our senses to see the food we’re making, and listen to its crunch or sizzle, and smell its delicious smells.  Then we washed hands thoroughly (I’ve seen what these people do with those hands) and off we went.

Potato & Cheese Empanadas
About 20 turnovers

The Filling

Mix together thoroughly:

  • 4 c. leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 c. butternut squash puree (totally optional, but I have a reputation to maintain)
  • 3/4 t. salt

Set aside.

The crust

1.  Place in a large bowl or food processor:

  • 6 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 t. salt

Stir or pulse until combined, then add:

Pulse or mix until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Drizzle over the top:

  • about 1 1/4 c. water

Pulse just a few times or mix gently with fork until dough is just dampened enough to gather into a ball.

2.  Divide into ~20 flat disks, each with a piece of parchment or wax paper between them.  Refrigerate for an hour, or until you’re ready to proceed.  N.B. – If you do make this ahead of time, make sure you give the dough an hour at room temperature to get it to a workable consistency before proceeding.

Construction

1.  Preheat oven to 400.

2.  Take each disk one at a time, and roll it or press it into a circle.  In our class we distributed a piece of parchment to each kid, which is worth bringing in if your fabulous teacher doesn’t have it right at hand.

Press the dough (or help the kids press the dough) into a circle.  The shape doesn’t matter terribly, but it should at least have even edges and be symmetrical so it will fold over and seal neatly in an upcoming step.

3.  Take a rounded tablespoon of the filling, and put it just below the center of the circle.  Kids will need help with this as they’ll be likely to put too much filling on for it to close up properly.  How you deal with that is up to you – it’s not a bad idea to let kids learn some food science by seeing what happens when they make different cooking choices.  On the other hand, it’s nice to let everyone succeed in a class setting.

4.  Fold over the dough from top to bottom and seal by pressing.  If your dough is at all crumbly, dipping your finger in water and running it along the edge can help the edges sort of glue together.  Use a fork to crimp the edges, and then place each on an ungreased baking sheet until they’re all completed.

5.  Poke each with a fork two or three times.  Then give them an egg wash by beating

  • an egg or two with a little milk or water and then brushing on the top.

Then we had to run, run, run our empanadas to the kitchen to have them baked before pizzas went in the oven for Pizza Day.  You don’t mess with Pizza Day.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned.  Let cool for a few minutes (or the amount of time it takes to run back up the hall to your classroom) and then cut in half and eat.

What we found was that about half the kids were willing to try them, and most of those loved them.  Z. was too conflicted by the warring emotions associated with having me in the classroom and just couldn’t manage eating a new food too.  But one of his friends especially loved them, and that’s how I got my very own Princess Bat.

Swoon.

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Carrot Cake Scones 0

Posted on June 01, 2010 by crankycheryl

If there’s a food habit I could break, it would be stealthing food into my children.

I’d so much rather have them happily eating their own vegetables to the tune of,

“Oh mama, how we do appreciate the organic local goodness you get for us, never mind the expense.  Could you pass the broccoli and sesame sauce for dipping?  It’s simply divine!”

I’ve seen children like this.  I see the looks their parents give me when I tell them what my #1 son’s food repertoire consists of.  Oh yes, I see the looks they exchange with their friends, smug and sure that their superior parenting skills have produced adventurous eaters.    I’m sure they’re right, and not for one minute do I wish anything unpleasant upon them, like maybe a child who develops a midnight yodeling habit or becomes possessed by the spirit of Vlad the Impaler.

I try.  I put the vegetables on the table in a casual way, and when the caterwauling begins I nonchalantly suggest they try one bite.  Then, while they’re convulsing on the floor and crying, I shrug.  I say, “It’s up to you how you get your three healthy choices.”

But I want them to eat vegetables.  So it’s squash in this and spinach in that and carrots in some other thing.  Like these scones, which embellished a King Arthur mix that someone had given me at the holidays.   They would have been good on their own (though I’d prefer that King Arthur leave the “natural flavoring” out of their mixes and just let real ingredients shine through), but the additions made them really yummy indeed.  And healthy enough that I fed them to the boys for dinner while guests were here this weekend, all of us happy that we had gotten away with something.

Carrot Cake Scones
Makes 8

Preheat oven to 425.

  • 1 mix or basic recipe for 8 scones
  • (please consult recipe for the amounts of butter, milk, etc. you’ll need for that)

Add to the mixed batter:

  • 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1 c. shredded carrots
  • 1/2 c. yogurt raisins (it’s what I had around – use what you like)
  • 1/2 t. each ginger, cardamom

Press the dough into a circle 8 – 9″ on a baking sheet.  Cut nearly through into 8 pie-wedge type pieces.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Frost with anything, or nothing.  I had some cream cheese frosting around from cupcakes last week, which was pretty darned good.  In fact, that was the only part Z. ate, proving that I just can’t win.

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Mango Smoothies & Quiet Surprises 1

Posted on January 06, 2010 by crankycheryl

 

This is a recycled picture from Feb. 09. It wasn't any better the first time, eh?

 

I had to bring E. to the dentist this week for some sort of follow-up appointment.  He decided to go in with the dentist by himself, so I sat in the waiting room watching Z. terrorize the little girl who wanted to share the foam building blocks.  A half hour went by before a hygenist came out to get me and I went back to where my little patient was tilted back in a chair having this weird plastic bubble cemented into his mouth.  That was when I remembered some vague discussion about the alignment of his bottom teeth.   But still: I was flabbergasted!   And I was also nodding and repeating to myself, “poker face, poker face, show children how we roll with punches, poker face, poker face …” as the dentist was telling me my son couldn’t chew, or bite, or consume anything harder than a diced up soft sandwich for the next two weeks.  And said son was trying to kick the dentist and escape down the hall.

“Oh, we’re hoping to avoid orthodontics further down the road?” I brightly asked.  The answer was a gently pitying look.

So we’ll be crossing that expensive bridge soon enough, but the emergency was that I had no idea that I was going to have to make a strict soft food diet, starting right then, at 4:00 on a Monday.  But luckily, though E. has a pretty limited food repertoire, he may be the world’s biggest smoothie fan.  And as he’s been a little obsessed with mangoes lately,  I was easily able to sell him on a mango smoothie for dinner.  And snack.  And breakfast.  I’ve done some quick math to compute how many colors of produce he’s getting along with some protein and healthy fats and concluded it could certainly be worse.

But besides the uptick in blended drinks around these parts, I’ve been amazed to note how my beautiful son who’s so thrown by anything that challenges his plans or routine seems to actually be enjoying the challenge of having this giant plastic thing in his mouth.  He’s celebrating his new stellar underbite with ferocious brother-terrifying growls, gorilla hoots, and many other unidentifiable loud noises.  He isn’t showing any sign that he cares at all that he’s nearly incomprehensible and lisping fiercely.  He even tolerated pizza being cut into tiny little squares for him to eat with a fork tonight.

His little brother has a dentist appointment next week.  All I can say is that I pity the fool who tries any of this nonsense on him.

Mango-Cherry Smoothie
2 generous servings

Put in your blender and blend well:

  • 1/2 fresh mango (about 3/4 cup frozen)
  • 1/2 c. frozen black cherries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 c. plain (unsweetened) yogurt
  • 1 c. milk (we use skim – you should do what you like)
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Coconut Spice Harvest Brownies 4

Posted on November 02, 2009 by crankycheryl

[11/15/09 Update: This picture was featured on Healthy Yum’s Cinnamon Challenge.  Cool.]

brownies 003You know how it is.  First you’re hanging out on Twitter and getting huffy because of the people maligning those who add pumpkin to everything.

And then you check your voicemail and one of your neighbors requests that you bring brownies to a celebration of Diwali that night.  Before you know it you’re in the kitchen muttering about why on earth wouldn’t you add pumpkin to everything you bake since your crazy children invent new vegetables daily just so they can declare that they don’t like them and what are you supposed to do – let them get the vitamin A version of scurvy or something?

All the while you throw together something that you hope will be appropriate and vindicatingly delicious.  Which they in fact were.

Coconut Harvest Spice Brownies
16 – 24 brownies, depending on how you cut them

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8 x 8 pan well.  The Joy of Cooking has some mishegas about lining with foil, but why line with foil?

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt:

  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. olive oil

Set aside to cool completely, then stir in:

  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla

Add one at a time:

  • 4 large eggs,

then:

  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. apple butter or applesauce

Combine in a small bowl, then add to egg-sugar mixture and stir until just combined:

  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground dried orange peel
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread to the edges.  Bake until center is firm, but batter is still a bit moist, about 25 minutes.  Remove to a rack and let cool before cutting into bars.

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Cider Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting 10

Posted on September 26, 2009 by crankycheryl

0926090846a I’ve been been making wonderful cider cupcakes from Coconut & Lime for a couple of falls now.  They’re pretty easy and wonderful and a reasonable substitution for cider donuts, which I really oughtn’t buy every time I leave the house.  Probably.

I’ve adapted the recipe to make it a bit heartier and healthier, adding in (you guessed it) butternut squash, reducing the sugar and butter, and switching whole wheat pastry flour for white.  I don’t do this for every dessert I make, but I did for this because I doubled the recipe and baked the rest as mini-muffins to have around for snacks.  Plus I don’t think that cupcakes with sweet frostings need to be terribly sweet themselves.

As for the question of what is in fact on top of these, I’ve had the problem of not liking the idea of C&L’s icing.  For me, cupcakes are supposed to be fluffy and frosted and not things with delicate, subtle little dabs of things.  On the other hand, I’m not going to use shortening in homemade frosting, and I’m not likely to buy pre-made Toxic Sweet Stuff of Death to feed to my family.  I’ve experimented with cream cheese, white chocolate ganache, and with white chocolate-cream cheese.  All good, but nothing’s been just right.

Then this fall, to the rescue came Eating Well magazine with its featured apple recipes, and this lovely idea for a caramel marshmallow frosting.  Perfect – fluffy and sweet and light enough to be a nice balance for the butter-y cake beneath.  We’re bringing these to a potluck tonight, which is an awesome opportunity to act like a generous martyr as I let everyone else eat the cupcakes, never admitting that I’ve eaten a flock of semi-burnt mini muffins and the bowl of leftover frosting.  Yup.

Apple Cider Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting
Yield: 12
Cupcakes adapted from coconutandlime and frosting recipe from Eating Well

Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 stick (6 T.) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin or butternut squash puree
  • 1 c. apple cider (Pasteurized?  Unpasteurized?  Here’s a take on the issue.)
  • 1 2/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease cupcake pan or line with parchment liners and set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar with electric mixer until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then squash, then cider.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Mix dry ingredients into wet, stirring just until well blended and only small lumps remain.
  5. Fill cupcake wells 2/3 full and bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until firm and an inserted toothpick emerges clean.  Let cool on a rack while you make the frosting.

0926090838

Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. light brown sugar (I used fair trade raw sugar)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 4 teaspoons dried egg whites (equivalent to 2 egg whites), reconstituted by stirring powder into directed amount of water until most lumps are gone
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
  1. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom of a double boiler (I put one saucepan on top of another since I don’t have a double boiler).
  2. Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in the top of the double boiler. Heat over the simmering water, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add reconstituted egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick and stands in peaks, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Remove the top pan from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute more to cool.
  5. Add vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine.
  6. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.  I used a tablespoon to place and swirl a large dollop and am pretty happy with those results.   Garnish with sprinkle of cinnamon if you like.  (And I imagine you could avoid having those kind of big blobs I got  of it if you shook a bit out into a small bowl and rubbed it between your fingers to apply.  But who cares, right?  Homemade cinnamon-marshmallow frosting, for goodness sake.  What do they want from me?  Jeez.)
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A Surprising Hit 0

Posted on March 26, 2009 by crankycheryl

cardamom-bread-001cardamom-bread-005When it comes to what monkeyboys will and won’t eat, well, I just never know.  The larger one announced a couple weeks back that he no longer likes macaroni and cheese.  Macaroni and cheese!  From a box!

Though I explained that no one in our house is allowed to stop liking anything, he has persisted.  Now there’s no more spaghetti.  Or ketchup.  But cheddar is back on the list, and he did try a sweet potato … though he spit it out.

All of which is why I was surprised to have both the tykes like this one.  You can taste the squash, the cardamom is slightly unusual, and the pine nuts are perceptible.  But it’s a good snack cake: moist, flavorful, not too sweet, and pretty healthy.

Butternut Squash & Cardamom Cake with Pine Nuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Whisk together thoroughly:

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour – pastry if you can get it, white whole wheat if not
  • 1 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 c. ground flaxseed
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. baking powder

Combine in another bowl:

  • 2/3 milk or soymilk
  • 1 t. vanilla

In a large bowl, beat until creamy:

  • 6 T. unsalted butter

Add:

  • 6 T. olive oil

Beat in gradually:

  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup

Beat in one at a time:

  • 4 eggs

Add the flour in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Fold in:

  • 1 c. pine nuts
  • 2 c. shredded butternut squash

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.  Let cool in the pan on a rack, then slice and serve.


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Why It Matters 0

Posted on March 05, 2009 by crankycheryl

I thought I had finally demonstrated my cooking nuttiness this week when I looked down in the sink one evening and saw every one of my 8  (8!) wooden spoons there.  There was the one from starting the sponge for sourdough bread, the one for the cake, the one for its icing, the oatmeal, the custard for the cohousing dinner, plus whatever else I’ve already forgotten.

But I realized that I didn’t feel nutty.  I was tired, but I felt kind of great.  And it made me realize that there’s something I haven’t yet said here:

I cook for the joy of it.  For the satisfaction and simplicity of feeding those I love.  For the pleasure of necessary thriftiness.  Because it’s art and craft and creation and primal and needed.

For me, cooking all the time – the daily grind of it, and the fanciest flights – is life.  To do it with a glad heart is to try to keep my own best self close.  That I can make people happy and engage in the organic magic of bread-making and fill the house with the smell of chocolate or melting butter and evoke memories and even save money is a pure and needed joy.

So every day, here we are, slogging along through money worries and perpetual lateness and ADHD and cabin fever and the rest of it.  But every day we can come back to this quiet, necessary, open-hearted act of creation and sharing.  And if that doesn’t make it all somehow worth it, I don’t know what could.

And in that spirit, I’m sharing some recent, unblogged creations:

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Cranky Cake 1

Posted on March 01, 2009 by crankycheryl

feb-09-food-snow-008

“Hey monkeys.  What would be in Cranky Cake?,” I found myself asking the other day.  The older tyke thought for a moment and started listing.  “Flour … milk … eggs …sugar … baking powder … salt …” What about flavor, I asked.  He told me, “Bananas.  And chocolate!  Lots of chocolate!”  Hmmm.  So I asked, “So Cranky Cake is a banana cake with chocolate chips in it?”  They told me yes.  And then we made it.

Cranky Cake

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 3 8 x 8 square pans, or (as I did) 1 8 x 8 square, and one 9x 13, which was just the right capacity.

Whisk together thoroughly:
1 1/3 c. white whole wheat flour
1 1/3 c. unbleached white flour
1/3 c. ground flaxseed
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. powdered dried orange peel (optional)

In a large bowl, beat together until lightened:
5 T. + 1 t. butter
2/3 c. sugar (keep the sugar at the ready – see below)

Add to the butter and sugar:
1/4 c. olive oil
1/3 additional cup of sugar

Then add in:
4 eggs
3 mashed very ripe bananas
1 T. molasses
1/2 c. squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato puree
2 t. vanilla

Mix together until smooth and very well blended.  (I usually use an immersion blender.)

Fold into flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until thoroughly combined.  Stir in:
4 c. semisweet chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into pans and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let cool in the pan and then cut into squares or slices to serve.

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Breakfasts Out with Wild Beasts 3

Posted on December 15, 2008 by crankycheryl

I am from a restaurant family.  I spent years and years waiting tables.  Believe me, I know that families with children are a pain in the restaurant tush.  Messy, distracted, noisy, hated by your other eye-rolling customers.  I really know.  From personal pain, I even know the cardinal rules of dining out with tykes:

  1. Come early.
  2. Eat fast.
  3. Tip big.

Now I’m a mom, and I do occasionally like to eat out.  And I’m sorry – Olive Garden and places with the yellow arches and their close relatives are of zero interest to me.  Burlington is a restaurant town – especially relative to its size – and we can do much better.

But I questioned this recently when some friends of my parents came into town and we all went out for breakfast at a place I’ll call, “Dogwood.”  I took the step of giving my children a don’t-be-crazy-when-we-get-there-but-still-have-an-appetite-sized snack.   I brought toys, books, crayons and paper.  When we got there, I went right down the stairs to get the host’s attention and get on the list to be seated.   First one server rushed past without looking at me, then another.  Then after the third and fourth I found myself not only hungry but really, really irritated.  And when the (presumed) host walked up, and looked over my head, past the other eager would-be diners, and said to someone who had just walked in, “Oh hi Dave!  Do you have three today?”  I felt the steam coming out of my ears.

Through clenched teeth, but smiling to show my children my respect for these hard-working restaurant folk, I told them how many were in our group and gave her my name.  We eventually got to our table.  And that’s where I developed the following requests:

  • Please do not seat my family at a booth that is anchored to the floor and can’t be moved so that my children could reach the table.
  • Please do not give my three and six year old tall goblets filled to the brim with water.
  • Please do not look blankly at me when I ask you for glasses that they can pick up and put down without spilling all over themselves, the table, and the bench on which we’re seated.
  • If the food I’ve ordered for the children has some weird garnish or topping or something I may not be aware of, please ask me if I want it to be there.  Or else take it off before one of them spots it and starts screaming his head off.
  • Please check to see if we need anything after you’ve dropped off the food.  Like ketchup for eggs, without which a 6-year old may be incapable of eating said eggs and may start screaming his head off.
  • When the meal is over, please bring the check as promptly as you can.  I know you’re busy and working hard and an interesting person with many other fun things you could be doing and people you could be talking to.  But if you make small children sit still and behave for too long, you’ll find them, you know, screaming their heads off.

Thank you.

This particular place has a menu very similar to that of Penny Cluse, which I tremendously prefer.  Though it’s very, very busy, they’re so efficient, and attentive, and great with kids.  They brought my 3-year old’s OJ in a cup with a lid without being asked.  They brought extra plates without being asked.  Their menu is good and interesting and healthy enough to keep adults and children happy.  They don’t charge exorbitant amounts for sides and substitutions and extras.  We shared their delicious tofu and peanut sauce scramble with toast and a side of fruit and were exceptionally happy.  And no one screamed his head off.

And just last week, in some sort of holiday-season inspired wackiness, I decided to take us out for brunch after our ride on the miniature pony-carts.  So we went to Sadie Katz, where we had had a lovely and successful meal once before.  They are so friendly and so fast, and though they may not be perfectly authentic NY Deli (their latkes are deepfried and a little more like hashbrowns, the onions in their lox & onions omelet are caramelized rather than raw), their food is really solid and tastes great.  My older monkey loves their plate-sized blueberry pancakes.  His little brother pronounced that the latke that came with his cheese omelet was “delicious and delightful.  And yummy, Mommy!”  When the big guy dropped his nearly full chocolate milkshake (hey – it’s the holidays!), the waitress got there quickly, and even rinsed out the hat and scarf that ended up covered with it.

How meshuggah am I?  I have no recollection of what I ate, but I know I liked it.

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The Chocolate Oatmeal Cupcakes 0

Posted on December 15, 2008 by crankycheryl

I’m equally compulsive and ambivalent about inserting stealth ingredients into the foods my kids eat. I don’t own the Jessica Seinfeld book, but I’ve heard it hotly contested – this idea that the best way to get vegetables into kids is to hide them in things they already love. After all, if the only cauliflower that tykes encounter is pureed in their beloved mac & cheese, how will they ever learn to really eat it?

It’s a good argument. And one I probably would have made before I met my strong-willed children. Maybe yours are different, but mine only eat things they actually like. And now that the 3 year old has discovered that he has his own identity, he likes to exert it by liking the opposite of everything his brother cares for.

Here is a list of the vegetables they’ll both happily eat in their pure form:

Well … this is a slight exaggeration. They both like marinara sauce.

After years of self-examination and head-shaking, I’ve decided that I do actually want them to consume vitamin A and fiber and things. So I stealth vegetables into baked goods. I did it long before Mrs. Seinfeld’s book, and I’ve got a few tried and true methods.

So when it was cupcake time the other day, I pulled out my 2nd most frequent technique: the pureed-spinach-in-chocolate-maneuver. Here’s the recipe, which I based on the Joy of Cooking’s Oatmeal Sheet Cake:

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (dark if possible)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon powdered dried orange peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup steamed or thawed frozen spinach, very well drained
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vani.lla

Combine the oatmeal and hot water and let them stand for 20 minutes.

All of the rest of the ingredients should be at room temp. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease or line the cups in a cupcake tin (if memory serves, this will make 12 full size and 24 mini cupcakes).

Whisk together the flours, soda, spices and salt. In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugars until they’re lightened in color and texture. Years ago I learned that this step is the crux of baking – where your texture and rise and everything happen. Don’t wimp out here!

Add the eggs and vanilla and use a blender or immersion blender to mix in the spinach until it’s pureed to smithereens. And in the oat mixture, then the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 – 25 minutes. Let cool briefly in the pan, and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

I frosted the larger ones with dark chocolate fudge frosting, and then showed what a complete sucker I am by adding rainbow sprinkles, along with the M&M-ish sunflower seed candies that my little guy painstakingly removes from each one. The minis I left unfrosted so as to be more appropriate for morning snack, but then a friend absconded with them to a D&D game and that was the last I saw of those.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that these cupcakes don’t quite reach the level of Bad Ass. They’re a little bit crumbly, and the oatmeal makes the texture a little weird/chewy. But they’re chocolatey and reasonably full of nutritious things and the monkeyboys eat them so they’ll probably make repeat appearances.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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