Yogurt Cake

imagePut aside your measuring cups and spoons, because you simply won’t need them for this quick French cake.  It’s great as a last minute, friends are coming over for coffee, kind of deal.  Kids will also love it as an after school snack.  You can dress it up (with a little fruit coulis, like I did here) or serve it au naturel.  No mater how you slice it, (pause for pun appreciation) it’s an easy and delicious dessert.

So what’s the deal with no measuring cups or spoons?  Well, since it’s a yogurt cake, you use your little old yogurt container to measure out all the other ingredients.  Guess I should have also mentioned that clean up is a snap with this one – you toss the yogurt container and only have one mixing bowl and spoon to wash.

In exactly this order, here’s what you plop in the bowl:

  • 1 personal size container of plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1/2 of the yogurt container full of oil
  • 2 yogurt containers full of sugar
  • 3 yogurt containers full of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder (OK, so you will have to measure one thing.  Here in France the baking powder comes in little individual serving packets and you just need to dump in about half a packet)
  • Some lemon zest – your call on the quantity.  I like a good lemon flavor and so zested a little over half of a lemon.


After all the ingredients are in the bowl, you simply mix with a spoon until  well blended.

If you have an interesting or cute pan, it’s fun to use it here.  I searched high and low and this is the best I could come up with – a pan typically used to make a Charlotte.  I was a bit worried that the batter would be too deep and thus take too long to bake, but ultimately, it worked out OK.


I baked in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Like I said, my cake was quite deep and so it took a bit longer.  If you go with a standard depth cake pan, you can count on closer to 30 minutes.  Just keep an eye on it and watch for that just right, still moist, golden brown stage.


I flipped it out of the pan after about 10 minutes.  I let it cool completely and then just dusted with powdered sugar. I blended some frozen raspberries to make a little coulis and served it to 4 hungry mouths as an after school snack.  Silence in the room for at least 3 minutes as they all devoured it.


Kiddos in the Kitchen – Scones & Flourless Chocolate Cakes

We have a really amazing little gig going in our neighborhood called the Children’s Resource Center.  It’s geared for educators really, but open to everyone.  We try to hit it at least every two weeks.  We check out games, books, puppets – you name it.  It’s basically the library concept, but with a lot more to choose from.  The upside is that we get to try without the BUY.  I especially love this for games since so often we buy a game, are hot on it for a couple of weeks and then it goes to rest in the game cupboard with all of the other various games that were once all the rage in this household.  With the Resource Center, we just return it once the love affair is over.

The down side to this system is that we have to be uber careful of how we treat these borrowed items.  Now for Big Little One and Medium Little One, this is a great lesson in responsibility. Little Little One even gets this and it’s good practice for her as well.  Wee One?  Not so much!  Just last week I had to go slinking back to the Resource Center, head hanging, tail between my legs, and broken game board in hand.  Yep, she quartered it!  Maybe surgery is in her future, because it sure was a clean cut and I can’t imagine that it was that easy to rip through.  I mean it WAS a game board and not her usual construction paper victim!

Recently, we have been on a little cookbook borrowing spree from the Resource Center.  Now I must admit that I’m really not a fan of the kids cookbook genre.  If I’m going to spend time cooking with my kiddos, I want the end result to actually taste good.  My experience has been that so many kids cookbooks sacrifice taste for ease of preparation and really miss the point when it comes to actually letting the kids COOK and not just assemble.  So you can imagine my jubilation when we hit on a cookbook that produced not one, not two, but three wonderful culinary treats.  Yes, we were three for three.  They whipped up a trio of recipes and every one was tasty. Safe to say the Around the World cookbook, will be checked out again by our little clan.


Big Little One first whipped up some marvelous scones, and in my opinion, scones are not an easy one to nail.  They’re often too dry.  These ones were just right – to quote Goldilocks.


Medium Little One pulled her own weight in the kitchen and served up a Tunisian soup (typically eaten at breakfast time in Tunisia) known as Leb Lebi.  So easy and yet very flavorful – and no, we didn’t go all cultural and eat it for breakfast; we stuck with it as dinner fare.


And just because we force teamwork around these parts from time to time, the sisters collaborated on a little flourless chocolate cake number that even surprised me.  I just wasn’t expecting great results from something made in cupcake papers and using chocolate chips.  But they were good.  Like really good.  Like wow.  Like they disappeared so fast I am sorry to say that I don’t have a photo to share with you.

So there you go.  Another stereotype blown away – kids cookbooks can actually groove with some flavor and Abigail Johnson Dodge definitely does so in this one.  Hope you will find some time to bond with your kiddo in the kitchen.  If you do, here are a couple of the recipes mentioned above.

British Scones

Flourless Chocolate Cakes

Pizza Boxes, Pumpkins & Chickees – Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread

These last couple of weeks, there has been just way too much creativity pumping through this house.  As if the joy of Halloween costumes for four small people weren’t enough, we have painted pizza boxes which we hope to get displayed at CPK, crafted a pumpkin (not carved, mind you) which will be displayed in preschool, half built a chickee which will be displayed at the school’s American Indian mock museum, and handcrafted a clay pot which will also be shown at the very same mock museum.  Now I love, creativity, don’t get me wrong, but whoaaaaaa.  All that in the course of two short weeks?   I’m whooped.

The pizza box painting was really enjoyable.  Mainly because Big Little One and Medium little One were totally self sufficient in their creation.  Did I mention that I really love crafts accompanied by self-sufficiency?

The pumpkin project too was very enjoyable, once we got past the design phase.  I – while background processing major items on my schedule, the amount of laundry piled in the garage, my daily taxiing schedule, and various other logistical concerns, was suggesting very cut and dry pumpkin projects; you could paint your pumpkin white and call it a snowman, you could put stickers on your pumpkin, you could stick Mr. Potato Head pieces into your pumpkin.  You fellow adults see where I am going with these suggestions, right?  EASY.  Unfortunately, the four year old would not budge from her own original scope of Project Pumpkin – – – a butterfly pumpkin.  So I acquiesced and off she went.  Aside from some super glue assistance, she was at the helm and it was honestly a delight to watch her work.

You, especially if you are a mother yourself, know this little craft saga can’t be all joy and light.  Enter the chickee.  Haven’t brushed up on your Native American tribes and habitats lately and need a refresher?  Well, a chickee is the type of hut built by the Seminole Indians who inhabited the Southeastern area of our country.  That would be the first definition you would probably find in the dictionary were you to look it up.  I would add a secondary definition and it would read something like this, “Pathetic looking hut; especially when crafted by mother and daughter team. Rickety at best when teacher requires “authentic materials” to be used in construction. Structure whose construction results in mother-daughter friction when mother resorts to use of super glue and throws “authentic material” requirement to the wind.  Dwelling place which, when built by mother-daughter team, makes said team thankful they are not responsible for the construction of their own shelter.”  I think that just about sums up the chickee ordeal, so I’ll just leave it at that.

No, I really can’t leave it at that.  The minor detail I was trying to overlook, but just can’t is that COOKING a traditional Native American dish was an option.  A very viable, enjoyable, right up the mother’s alley kind of option. First,  I suggested we whip up a little Safki (a Seminole dish made of hominy and meat of some sort).  Then I cleverly pulled up a recipe for Safki and left it prominently displayed on laptop where child could see it.  Finally, I whined and begged to cook rather than build.  But I guess my apples don’t fall far from the tree and Medium Little One held her ground in much the same way the four year old had.  So chickee it was, chickee it is, and chickee it shall be!

With so many little artisans working away around here, I have had to keep them nourished with snackable goodness, The fact that they have downed two loaves and multiple muffin tins full of this pumpkin number attests to its success.

I started by throwing together the dry ingredients which include flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.


In another bowl, I tossed together some butter, sugar, and vegetable oil, and beat with an electric mixer.  Once that was fluffy, I tossed in some pumpkin puree, and  a couple of eggs.


Finally, I added the dry ingredients and a little water.

I dumped it all in a buttered loaf pan and put it to bake at 350 degrees for about an hour and ten minutes.


I am not joking about the quantities consumed of this stuff.  The bread is a little on the long side to bake so in later versions, I opted for mini muffin tins and took the baking time down to about 15 – 20 minutes.  It really is delicious, and if you are ever sipping tea and bemoaning the sad state of your chickee, it’s just the perfect accompaniment.

Here’s the complete recipe for Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Bread.

And here are some other fall pumpkin recipes  for your browsing leisure:

Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel Topping (cafecarol.com)
pumpkin recipes (percolatingdesign.wordpress.com)
Scrumptious Pumpkin Recipes for Fall (myyogaworksblog.com)
8 Must-Try Pumpkin Recipes (pearlsandlaceblog.com)

Contemplating my Jerusalem – Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

Here in my little ramblings, I try not to take myself too seriously. How can I? Most days I feel lucky if I have a single moment of sanity.
But then there are times, when I see my existence with such clarity that it amazes me. Don’t get me wrong, overall it’s like I’m looking through a fuzzy haze (think year round June Gloom)  just trying to figure out the general form and shape of things. Just trying to keep all the balls in the air, all the plates spinning, and all the children believing that their mother is a somewhat credible source, and at some point, prior to their births, had fully functioning cerebral capacity. The great thing about this usual state of craziness called my life is that it makes these rare moments of clarity even more beautiful.
This past weekend, I heard a really gifted speaker talk about Jackie Robinson and the apostle Paul. You see the connection right away, don’t you? Yep, I wasn’t so quick to get it either. But essentially, it has everything to do with greatness and advocating for something bigger than yourself. Of course Jackie was a great baseball player. But more importantly he was a great human. And the main thing that made him great was that he was focused not on himself, but something greater than himself. Paul had once been about himself.  He had the pedigree, status, and citizenship to make him totally success-bound, at least in the way people in the world define success. But after his transformation on the road to Damascus, Paul  became all about Jesus. He was willing to risk everything for something greater than himself. When all indicators told Paul he should turn tail and run, he repeatedly headed straight into the place or situation he should have avoided. Jerusalem was that place for Paul on more than one occasion. With others pleading with him not to return to Jerusalem, he stayed true to his convictions, stayed obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and went. He knew that what he would encounter there would not be easy, pleasant, or fun. Be he knew it was necessary.
After hearing this all laid out, I started wondering if we all have our Jerusalem? Do we have a place we return to because it’s the right thing to do? Because the Spirit calls us there? A place that it might be easier to avoid, but that we go back to in obedience and in faith?
In my moment of clarity, I inventoried my Jerusalem(s) – yes, plural, because I decided I have a few. And I was thankful for them. I was actually thankful for those “places” that I say time and time again I don’t want to go back to. Those places that give me grief. Those places that get my hackles up. Those places that make me nutty. I was thankful for THOSE places. Because in my conviction to go back to them, I know that I’m living for something bigger than myself, that I am at least trying to stay true to my convictions, and that I’m capable (on a good day) of the humility needed to do something I don’t want to do.
So thank you, gifted speaker, for stirring this up in me. I know my JerusalemS and I wouldn’t trade them for any 5 star resort on the planet.
And now, how on earth does one segue from THAT into a recipe? I have no clue. I have used my allotted daily allowance of brilliance just getting that thought down. I have no words or energy left for a clever transition. So if you want to keep reading for a great breakfast recipe for Baked Breakfast Oatmeal Bars, please do. If you’re stuck on figuring out your Jerusalem, just take your time with that one. And if you think I’ve gone over the edge with this one, just know that it made sense in my mind. It really did. So now . . . about that oatmeal . . . .
I love this recipe because I can mix up one pan of it, bake it, and have breakfast ready and waiting for my clan for about three days. I start by mixing together old fashioned oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, chopped pecans, and white chocolate chips. I spray a glass baking dish and then spread the oat mixture in that dish.

On top of the mixture I place sliced banana, more chocolate chips, and more pecans. I also add fruit sometimes. Sliced strawberries and raspberries both work well.

In another bowl I mix together eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. I pour that over the oat mixture.

I bake the whole thing in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes, until it is golden brown. The next morning, I cut into slices and my crew has a yummy oatmeal breakfast.

I personally like to reheat my slice, but my odd offspring prefer the bars cold (?). Weird, but acceptable. The sweetest thing? They can serve these to themselves and their siblings which can buy me another 20 minutes in bed!  And no, my bed does not count as one of my Jerusalems, even though I’m called and drawn to it again and again!

Here’s the complete recipe for Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Bars, adapted from The Urban Nester.

Here are some additional breakfast options to peruse:

When You Feel Like a Stinker, Go Do Something Nice – Apple Peach Fruit Leathers

Wish I could say I had orchestrated this on purpose, but I’m afraid that’s just not the case.  A little family bike ride the other night led us through an area near our house known as The Incredible Edible Garden.  We noticed that tons of tomatoes, squash and peppers were literally rotting on the vine.

A couple of days later I did a little googling around and found the contact info for the food bank that harvests the crops.  The lady on the phone didn’t seem too concerned about a minimum group size, so I arranged for myself and kiddos to go do some gleaning today. I roped a friend’s kids into picking with us, and off we went.  What a wonderful relief to the stress I have been feeling of late.  Everything was put on hold for two hours as we did nothing but pick eggplant.  Who knew eggplant could be so therapeutic?!  And who knew that eggplant could be so prickly?  I was glad to get these shoes off when we were done picking.


All together we picked 11 bins of eggplant and 2 bins of bell peppers.  Not bad for a band of 5 kids, one toddler, one almost toddler, and a weary mom.  Everything we picked will go to Second Harvest Food Bank and be distributed to people who are in need.  How cool is that?

We had one brief break while picking and I whipped out some homemade fruit leathers, water, and grapes.  Let’s just say that the friend’s daughter that I  had taken with us is BEYOND PICKY in what she eats.  I was banking on her maybe drinking some water and that would be about it.  She suspiciously eyed the fruit leathers.  Like an animal checking out its prey, she inched closer and closer.  She asked what they were and I answered.  Still not actually offering so as to not scare her off.  Finally she asked to taste.  I held out the container and she took a smidge.  That would be the end of that, I thought.   All of a sudden it was like Mikey and the old Life commercial – She liked it; she really, really liked it!  To the tune of about 6 fruit leathers down the hatch.  So with that picky eater approval, I present you Apple Peach Fruit Leathers. This is so simple it is ridiculous!

I started with some unsweetened applesauce. Then, I pureed one peach and added that to the applesauce.


After that, I added in some cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.


I spread the mixture out thinly and evenly on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.


Now here’s the kicker . . . I baked it for SIX hours at 170 degrees.  I then used a pizza cutter and cut the leathers into strip size pieces.

So easy (long yes, but easy) and so healthy.


Oh, and the really sweet part of this deal?  Not really satisfying the picky eater friend at all.  But driving these kiddos to get well-deserved milkshakes post-picking and hearing their sweet voices as they prayed for the people who would eat the food that they had gathered.


Here’s the complete recipe for Apple Peach Fruit Leathers, adapted from my friend over at Love Life Naturally.

Want to explore more “leather” recipes?  Check these out to start.

Never Underestimate the Tastebuds of a Kid – Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites

Weird.  The only word fitting to start this post.  If you have read about our Carrot Breakfast Protein Bars, then you know that this week I have been experimenting with energy, boosting healthy snacks as we head into a weekend of Water Polo Junior Olympics.  Well when I saw a picture of these Cranberry Pistachio Bites, I thought they were beautiful.  Yes, I’m odd that way.  I find food, especially colorful food, beautiful.

So the way this recipe rolls, there’s a point where you mold the “dough” into bite-sized balls.  I seriously almost chucked the entire thing down the garbage disposal at this point in the process.  It was just weird.  It felt weird.  It looked weird.  And it wasn’t holding together like I thought it would.  But I persevered.  I’m just wired that way with a lot of things  (can’t walk out of a movie theater in the middle of a bad movie, can’t abandon a bad book . . .)  I guess I  have a hopeless belief in redemption.

So I stuck with my sticky mess and completed all of these little Energy Bite Balls.  The Hubs tried one and appeared really impressed.  Was he just faking because he saw my “energy bite disappointment”?  I thought so.  I was definitely not going to ask the kiddos to taste one.  But, shocker of all shockers, they ASKED to try one.  I started with the 10 year old.  Thumbs up.  Next, on to the 8 year old.  Another thumbs up.  Gasp.  On to the 8 year old’s friend who had slept over last night.  Not a loving embrace, but . . .  she finished it.  Finally, the 4 year old.  Loved it.  Amazing!  They consumed 9 of them in a matter of minutes.  And to think that I had almost gifted the disposal with this “weird” yumminess.

So here’s the super simple way these little bites went together.

I started by putting chopped dates, honey, chia seeds, wheat germ and salt in the food processor.  This was seriously some THICK stuff to mix.  I pulsed until it was able to be stirred.

energy processor

I transferred that mixture to a bowl and added in cranberries, pistachios, and white chocolate chips.

energy mixture

After this was all mixed well, I put it into the fridge and let cool for about 30 minutes.  This was supposed to make the batter easier to work with, but this is where the weirdness all came in.  It was really tricky to form them into bite-sized balls.  I stayed the course though, and they were basically done.

Energy final

Voila – – – Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites!  Who would have thought that they could be so good?

The Quest Continues – Modified Carrot Breakfast Protein Bar

I’ll be brief and to the point on this one.  Carrot Breakfast Protein Bars Take II was a success.  I also liked my modified version better.  Enter the additional cast of characters.

protein bar new ing

I basically took the original recipe, and omitted the raisins.  In their place I added:

1 Tbsp. Chia Seeds

1 Tbsp. Wheat Germ

4 Tbsp. Old Fashioned Oats

1/4 c. diced dried apricots

protein mod final

protein bar mod 2

This is the version I’ll be sticking with.

Like Mother, NOT Like Daughter – Carrot Breakfast Protein Bars

For those of you who know me personally, I probably don’t need to remind you of my athletic INabilities.  For those who are just peeking in on this little life of mine, let’s just wrap it all up by saying that if athleticism is located on one specific gene – – – I was definitely born WITHOUT that gene.  I don’t run.  I don’t go to the gym.  I don’t do boot camp.  I don’t even take aerobics.  OK, I confess, a while back  I had a little bout with yoga, but I got over it quick enough.

A girlfriend once coaxed me into this insane boot camp thing with her.  I lasted about three weeks and then ended up in the hospital for four days for some unidentifiable leg injury.  In the realm of divine interpretation, I  don’t think God could be any clearer – He does not want me exercising!

So hold that thought and let’s turn our attention to Big Little One.  Just turned ten and is shaping up to be a pretty tough water polo player.  Yes, water polo.  How does THAT happen?!  Couldn’t she just ease into this whole sports thing with badminton or synchronized swimming?  No.  She has to plunge head first into one of the most physical sports out there.  I watch her play and am just amazed that I had any part in her genetic makeup.  She once asked me what sport I played when I was a kid and I answered, “Reading”.  I can’t even begin to describe the look of disgust on her face.

This weekend, two years of water polo training come to a climax with  . . .  dun, dun, dun . . . Junior Olympics.  Big Little One and Medium Little One will play together in the Under 10 Girls division (nothing like a little sisterly love as you’re getting wailed on and thrashed about in the water).  Then next weekend, Big Little One will do it all over again in the Under 10 Co-Ed division.  The excitement in this house is palpable.  So in honor of my girls’ H2O exuberance, I decided to devote a little baking time to the exploration of healthy, energy boosting snacks for the big weekend.  Now I should mention that the other night, I made a really yummy Thai Basil  Eggplant dish and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  But no, I will restrain myself,  and in the spirit of Junior Olympics I give you . . . Carrot Breakfast Protein Bars.

This one was quick and easy.  The most time consuming part was grating two large carrots.

carrot grate pbar

Into that I added some almond butter &  2 eggs.  I mixed that well.

carrot pbar

Then I tossed in some raw honey, a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder, some cinnamon, a little baking powder, and some salt.  Then I folded in some raisins.  I put the whole thing into a greased glass baking dish and baked at 350 for about 35 minutes.  I cut into bars and then kept in an airtight container until this morning.

The result:

protein bar final

Now a picture might speak a thousand words, but I think age specific reactions and ratings say even more.  The shocker of the morning?  The 4 year old, when asked what she would give it on a scale of 1 – 10 firmly stated, “A 12”.  And yes, she does know how to count and has excellent number sense (just in case you were headed there).  The 8 year old also loved it and consumed probably 4 of the 8 bars.  The soon to be 2 year old voted with her mouth and chomped down about 2 bars.  The party pooper in the group?  The 10 year old.  She gave it barely a 6 and complained of too many raisins.  So my mandate for tomorrow is clear:  Carrot Breakfast Protein Bars take II sans the raisins.  I’ll also be trying out some Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites.  I’ll be sure to let you know how those go.

Here’s the complete Carrot Breakfast Protein Bar recipe, from the site PaleOMG.

Want to browse other Protein Bar Recipes?  Give these a try.