My Little Foragers

A few weeks ago I did a story on Foraging With Kids. As with all educational things I do with my children I never know if it has any impact. So I was taken by surprise when out on a nature hike the boys suddenly screamed “ONIONS!” They had actually spotted wild garlic, which look and smell similar to small onions. All three vigorously began yanking and tugging to break some bulbs loose from the soil. We harvested a few sizable pieces and Dylan insisted he would keep them safe in his pocket, dirt and all, until we got home.

After a lively discussion we unanimously decided a pizza sauce would be the perfect thing to make with our wild edibles. Nothing hard about this recipe and a much better alternative to jarred sauce. With some simple ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, and some spices (plus, I snuck in a zucchini), we had a delicious sauce in no time. And the boys were thrilled that they had eaten off the land. I can almost guarantee they would not have eaten this zucchini sauce had they not had a part in harvesting one of the ingredients. I will confess, I supplemented with garlic cloves purchased at the supermarket.

Now if you live in the suburbs you might be familiar with this plant (or weed as most people would refer to it) as it tends to invade lawns in clumps and take over quickly. This is how I first became acquainted with it, although I would strongly advise against eating anything from a lawn that has fertilizer on it.

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Zucchini Sausage Pizza

Ingredients

1 zucchini, peeled, cut in large chunks

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp basil

½ tsp pepper

1 lb. sausage meat, removed from casings

1 package pizza dough

All-purpose flour, for dusting

2 cups, shredded mozzarella cheese

Method

Puree zucchini and diced tomatoes until smooth. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Do not brown.

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To the garlic, add pureed vegetables, salt, sugar, oregano, basil, and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Let sauce reduce by at least half, this will take about 45 minutes. The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for 3-4 days.

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Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet and brown the sausage, breaking it up, until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lightly coating it with olive oil. Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface and transfer to baking sheet.

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Next add the zucchini sauce in an even layer onto the dough.

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Then top with sausage.

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And lastly, sprinkle liberally with cheese.

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Bake in oven until underside of the pizza is crispy, approximately 12-15 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “That’s some good stuff”

Liam (age 5): “Only put a little on mine”

Dylan (age 5): “I love our onion sauce!”

Can you guess who made these?

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I’m in love with a rabbit

There is a new children’s show on Nickelodeon called Peter Rabbit – if your kids don’t watch it – turn it on today. It is about a rabbit, Peter, and his buddies Benjamin and Lily who spend their days pilfering munchies, like radishes and carrots from Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden.

The other day we were watching an episode where Benjamin accidentally hits Mr. McGregor’s cat with a Brussels sprout, and the cat got VERY ANGRY. Well, the boys just thought it was hilarious, the madder the cat got, the harder they laughed. So Dylan turned to me and asked if we could go buy some Brussels sprouts! I guess if they are good enough for Peter Rabbit to risk his life, then they are worth a try? Or maybe he wanted to use them to throw at his brothers? I believe it was the latter…

I almost strapped all three boys in their car seats to head out to the supermarket, never mind they were in PJ’s and minutes from bedtime. But I patiently waited to get them the following day; I had to ride this Brussels sprout wave while I had them on it.

One of the best ways to make a vegetable taste yummy is roast it with lots of olive oil and salt – on high heat until it caramelizes and gets crispy. I was cautiously confident it might work… but just to be sure I also added some sausage to tip the scales in my favor.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Sausage Crumble

Ingredients:

1 episode of Peter Rabbit

1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts

3 links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

4 Tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp for the sausage

1 tsp Sea Salt (coarse if you have)

1/2 tsp black pepper

 

Directions:

Turn on episode of Peter Rabbit for your kids while preparing this dish.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves.

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To a large pot of boiling salted water add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 10 minutes remove with a slotted spoon and drop into a bowl filled with ice and water, after 5 minutes strain and set aside. (Can be done ahead – store in airtight container –refrigerated)

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Heat one tsp of olive oil in a skillet and cook the sausage, breaking it up, until cooked through. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. (Can be done ahead – store in airtight container –refrigerated)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the Brussels sprouts into quarters and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet (line with foil for easy clean-up) and roast until crisp on the outside and browned, about 35-40 minutes. Toss the pan once or twice for even browning. During the last 10 minutes of cooking add the sausage crumble and toss.

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Sprinkle with a touch more salt and serve.

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And the VERDICT is:

Liam: (Age 3 11/12): “I really like the crispy parts” “Mommy, I am staying up late tonight to wait for Peter Rabbit!”

Matthew (Age 5): “Liam, Peter Rabbit is not REAL! Mommy bought those at the supermarket”

Dylan (Age 3 11/12): “Did he bring radishes too???”

OMG- they ate it! I am not sure if Liam and Dylan actually believe Peter Rabbit is real but who am I to rain on their parade??? I neither confirmed nor denied it. And, obviously, everyone got ice cream for dessert.

Thank you Nickelodeon!

Sunday Breakfast

Sunday breakfast in our house is usually an elaborate affair. We break out the silverware and fancy plates (no Thomas Train plastic) and cross our fingers that the boys don’t break anything.  To date, there has only been one plate casualty, not bad considering the clientele!

I used pumpkin in this recipe but sweet potatoes work too if there are any leftovers still sitting in the fridge from Thanksgiving.

Making them small takes forever but it’s worth the extra effort. Plus, using the pumpkin adds some cooking time so silver dollars are the way to go.

These were so good the boys never even asked for syrup! Of course there was a little in the mix but it was a lot less then they would have normally poured over them…..

Pumpkin Cranberry Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 3/4 cup 2% or whole milk

4 Tbsp butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten

3-Tbsp maple syrup

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup dried cranberries

 

Directions:

Combine puree, milk, butter, eggs, and syrup in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just enough to combine. Fold in cranberries.  (Batter can be made and refrigerated overnight – just leave out the cranberries till the next morning)

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Scoop a heaping tablespoon onto griddle or pan. Brown pancakes on both sides.

Extras can be frozen and popped into toaster to reheat. Cool completely before freezing.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (big brother): Not as yummy with the raisins – but still delicious.

Liam (little brother): Maybe I do like the raisins, I need a toothpick

Dylan (littler brother): I only want crabby patties for breakfast! (hmmmm, too much Spongebob maybe?)

Leftovers

One of my assignments this year for the Thanksgiving feast is sweet potatoes. Yes, somehow I managed to escape hosting another year! I have never made traditional mashed sweet potatoes so I did a trial run before the big day. Consequently, we had lots of leftovers even before Thanksgiving.

I knew the boys wouldn’t go for the mashed sweet potatoes straight up so I came up with a great idea for pizza that I thought they would love. Anything with cheese usually does well at our house.

Since the sweet potatoes were well hidden I was counting on the boys to like it. Plus the recipe called for maple syrup to sweeten the deal – how could I go wrong with that? But then again, our crazy crew tends to react exactly opposite to what you would expect…. I think they do it just to drive me insane  keep me on my toes– but that is another story…

“Sweet” Sweet Potato Pizza

Ingredients:

3 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1/4-cup milk

2 Tbsp butter, room temperature

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp Olive Oil, plus some extra for brushing on dough

1 lb sweet sausage, casings removed

Pinch of salt

1 ball pizza dough (16 oz.)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups grated fresh Mozzarella cheese

 

Directions:

Make the mash:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well and mash with fork or potato masher. Add milk, butter, syrup and salt. Blend until smooth and set aside. (Potatoes can be made ahead, bring to room temperature before using)

Make the sausage:

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the sausage and salt. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage and sauté until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer sausage to plate with slotted spoon, then set aside to let cool. (Sausage can be made ahead)

Roll out the dough:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking sheet. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pizza dough with rolling pin and transfer dough to baking sheet. Lightly brush dough with olive oil.

Spread sweet potato mixture evenly over dough, leaving about 1/2 inch border. Top with mozzarella cheese, sausage, and grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake until the crust is golden, about 16-18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cut into slices and dig in! Yield: 12 square slices.

And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: The BEST PIZZA I ever had! (total = 2 1/2pcs)

Liam: It tastes burnt- the sweet potato is disgusting (total = 2 1/2pcs)

Dylan: Mmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm (total = 2 pcs)

Brian: When I saw you spreading sweet potato on pizza I was skeptical but this is really good! (total = 4pcs)

This pizza came out so yummy, entirely worth the effort. Next time I am making two because if you do the math there was not much left for me!