Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12/18/12 ChefElla's Fruit Stars

There are so many things to eat this time of year.  It seems like everyone you see wants to give you a cookie, a piece of cake or pie, or some candy, and it is so hard to say no.  We all like desserts, but sometimes our tummies need a little break.  I like to drink my Mom's famous fruit smoothies, but not everyone else does so I have the perfect solution, ChefElla's Fruit Stars.  My fruit stars look great they are easy to make, and they are good for your tummies.  They are great right out of the refrigerator, or you can bring them to your next holiday party, and your Mom won't complain about you eating more than one.
For this recipe you will need to use a knife.  If you are not allowed to use a knife by yourself you can have your mom or dad help.

1.  Wash your hands.
2.  For this recipe you will need a small bowl, a strainer, a melon baller (parisian scoop), a spoon a
     knife, a cutting board, and some bamboo or metal skewers.

Fruit Star Ingredients:
1                 Star Fruit
1lb.             Strawberries       
1/2              Honey Dew Melon
1lb.             Pineapple, Bite Size Chunks

3.  Put your strawberries in your strainer and run them under cold water to clean them.  Let the
     strawberries dry and then cut the green ends off.  Set aside for later.
4.  Wash your honeydew melon.   Place on a cutting board and cut in half.  Use your spoon to scoop
     out the seeds.
5.  Using your melon baller, put the flat side on the meat of the fruit (see the attached picture).  Tip
     up the melon baller and cut into the honeydew.  Turn the melon baller around to make a clean cut.
     Pull out the melon baller and you should have a ball of honeydew.  Continue to make melon balls
     until there is no more room to make clean cuts.
6.  You have two choices for the pineapple.  You can buy pre-cut pineapple in the produce section or
     your grocery store, or you can cut a whole pineapple.
     -To cut a whole pineapple first cut off the leaf end and then the stem end.  Stand the pineapple up on
     the flat end and cut the rough skin off.  Do not cut too deep.  Just cut off enough so that you can see
     the yellow flesh.  When the outside skin is gone it is time to cut up the pineapple.  The core of the
     pineapple is to hard to eat.  You will need to cut the pineapple away from the core.  The circle in the
     middle of the pineapple is the core.  Put your knife on the top of the pineapple just to the right of the
     core.  Cut straight down cutting off the whole side of the pineapple.  Put the pineapple down flat and
     cut the rest of the pineapple away from the core.
     When you are finished cut the pineapple into chunks.
7.  Lay your starfruit on its side and slice into 1/4 inch thick pieces.
8.  Start by sticking your skewer into a piece of star fruit.  Slide the star up to the blunt end.
9.  Next stick your skewer through a strawberry, then a melon ball, then a piece of pineapple,
     then another melon ball, and finish with another strawberry.
10.  Use the rest of your fruit to make a skewer for each of your friends or family.
11.  If you do not like the fruit that ChefElla picked your can make fruit skewers with your favorite
      fruits.  You can also try different patterns by putting the fruit on the skewers in a different way.

You can serve your fruit stars with caramel, fruit dip or with nothing at all.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

12/11/12 Table Setting: A Note From ChefElla's Dad


When I was young my family and I regularly ate dinner together.  My mother would cook and we would sit down to eat.  No t.v., no texting, no computer, and no homework at the table.  While I did not help in the kitchen, I had what I thought was the most important job, setting the table.  My mother would tell me what we were having for dinner and I would set the table accordingly.  I was proud of myself, and I was part of making dinner special.

Looking back on it now, I realize it was a little thing, but it taught me a lot, and while learning to cook is important, learning how to entertain and take care of your guests is just as important.  We eat with our eyes, and sitting down to a beautiful table can enhance any meal.

Things are different now, we eat on the run, we have t.v., text, computers and homework at the table, but it does not mean that you should not sit down to a properly set table.  Take the time to set the table with your little ChefElla's now, and when you have a special dinner they will be be ale to help by setting the table for you.

1.  For more formal dinners, the internet is a great place to see table settings.  There are pictures and
     explanations to help you set your table no matter what you are making.
2.  Do not make setting the table a chore, make it an important part of cooking and entertaining your
     family and guests.  Make sure you recognize your child's effort out loud and at the table.
3.  For special occasions you can have your child do something extra.  Personalized place cards,
     decorations, and even hand written menus will add to the entertainment.  This will also keep
     the kids busy while you are in the kitchen.
     (If crafts are not your thing, you can simply buy decorations, and have your child spend their time
     decorating the table.)

With family dinners, parties, and holidays coming up, it is a great time to introduce your ChefElla to setting the table.


-ChefElla's Dad

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

11/27/12 ChefElla's Quick Candy Cane Pudding Pie

The holidays are so much fun.  Everyone decorates, gets together, gives gifts, and of course eats.  My parents work so hard to make the holidays fun for us, and I like to do my part.  The holidays are a great time to share by making something homemade from your kitchen.  But there is something else that makes cooking fun, and that is spending time with your family in the kitchen.  The fun part about making this pie, is that it is so easy, that you can spend most of your time talking.  Everyone will think that the candy cane pudding pie took you a long time to make, but you will know that all it took was a good conversation, and a little help from ChefElla.

1.  Wash your hands.
2.  For this recipe you will need a small bowl, a small wire whisk, measuring cups, and a small
     hammer, meat mallet, or rolling pin.

Candy Cane Pudding Pie Ingredients:
1                 Oreo or Chocolate Graham Cracker Pie Crust
2  boxes       Jell-O, Sugar Free, Fat Free, Instant Pudding Mix, Cheesecake Flavor (1oz)
2 1/2 Cups  Skim, Fat Free, Milk
2-3 Drops   Green Food Coloring
2-3 Drops   Red Food Coloring
                 -You can use more drops for a brighter color, but I like pink and light green so I used 2-3
                  drops of each.
3.5-4oz      Peppermint Bark, crumbled
                  - You can crumble your peppermint bark by leaving it in the package and using a hammer
                  meat mallet, or rolling pin to gently smash the bark.  If it is not in a package put the bark in a
                  sealable plastic bag and then gently smash the bark.
1 can         Real Dairy Whip Topping

3.  Put 1 1/4 cups of milk in the mixing bowl, add green food coloring and mix.
4.  Add 1 box of the instant pudding and mix until the pudding begins to thicken.
5.  Pour pudding mix into chocolate pie shell.  Let the pie sit on counter or other flat surface for 3-5
     minutes.  Wash your bowl and whisk.
6.  Sprinkle 1/2 of your peppermint bark over the green pudding.

7.  Add remaining 1 1/4 cups of milk to the mixing bowl, add red food coloring and mix.
8.  Add second box of the instant pudding mix and mix until the pudding begins to thicken.
9.  Pour red pudding mix over green pudding and peppermint bark already set in the chocolate pie shell.
     Let the pie sit on counter or other flat surface for 3-5 minutes.
10.  Cover your pie and refrigerate.
11.  When you are ready to serve your pie, top with whipped topping and sprinkle remaining
       peppermint bark over the whip.

You can give this pie as a gift, or enjoy with your family and friends.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

11/06/12 ChefElla's Chicken Pot Pie With Dumplings

Sometimes my Dad tries to tell me about the things he would eat when he was my age.  My Mom always say yum, but to be honest none of it sounds very good.  Last week my Dad said he needed my expert help in the kitchen.  He said he was making a special soup, and because I was ChefElla he needed my help.  Making the dumplings was the best part, and when we were done, it tasted so good.  Later my Dad told me it was pot pie soup.  That day I learned that sometimes even food with a funny name can taste good.
For this recipe you will need to use the stove and a knife.  If you are not allowed to use the stove or a knife by yourself you can have your mom or dad help.

1.  Wash your hands.
2.  For this recipe you will need a 1 gallon stock pot with a lid, a wooden spoon, a large mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a wire whisk, a small scooper, a fork, a cutting board, and a knife.

Chicken Dumpling Soup Ingredients: (This recipe will make 4-6 servings)
2 Cups       Mirepoix (mirror-i-pwaw) Mirepoix is the french name for your soup starting vegetables.
                           Mirepoix is made up of carrots, celery, and onions.  Usually it is 2 parts onion to 1 part
                           carrot and 1 part celery, but each recipe can change.
                           For example in this recipe we are using:
                  1 Cup        Red Onion, small diced
                      -Small diced is when you cut the onion into 1/4 inch pieces.  (see ChefElla's salsa recipe
                      for more explantation on how to cut an onion.
                  1/2 Cup      Celery, small diced
                  1/2 Cup      Carrot, small diced

3 Tbl.         Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbl.         Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup     White Wine
                 -You can use any kind of wine you have or you can buy white cooking wine at the store.
                  The good thing about cooking with wine is once you cook it, the alcohol is gone and
                  all that is left is the flavor.
3 Tbl.          Extra Virgin Olive Oil
32oz.          Chicken Broth.  (You can buy 32oz containers of Broth at the store.)
1 lb.            Chicken Breast, Large Diced.  You can use fresh or pre-cooked chicken.
1/2 Cup      Fresh or Frozen Corn.
1/2 Cup      Fresh or Frozen Green Peas. (if you do not like peas you can leave them out)     
1 tsp.           Salt, Kosher or Sea Salt
1/2 tsp.       Tabasco

3.  Put your pot on the stove add your Olive Oil, and heat on medium.
4.  Add your mirepoix and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or two.  Do not brown your
5.  Add flour to your pan and mix well.  Try to get the flour all over your vegetables.  Stir 1-2 minutes.
6.  Add the wine to your vegetables and mix.  The mixture should look like a globby mess. Stir for
     30 seconds.
7.  Add your chicken stock and mix with a wire whisk.
8.  Bring your soup to a simmer.
     -Simmering is when there are bubbles gently coming up in your soup.  If there are a lot of bubbles
     and steam then you are boiling.
9.  When you soup is simmering, add your chicken, corn, peas, salt and Tabasco, and mix well.
10.  Bring the mixture back to a simmer.  Stir the soup occasionally so the soup does not stick to the
       bottom of the pan.

While you are waiting for your soup to simmer you can make the dumplings.

Sage Dumpling Ingredients: (This recipe will make about 20 - 1inch dumplings)
1 Cup          Whole Wheat Flour
2 tsp.           Dried Parsley
1 tsp.           Dried Sage
1/2 tsp.       Granulated Garlic
1 1/2 tsp.     Baking Soda
1 tsp.           Salt, Kosher or Sea Salt
2 Tbl.           Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Cup       Water.

1.  Add all of your dry ingredients to a bowl and mix well with a large fork.
2.  Add your oil and water to the dry ingredients.  
3.  Mix slowly.  Try to incorporate all of the flour into the dumplings, but do not over mix.
     -Incorporating is when you do not see the flour anymore.
4.  The dumpling mixture will look like a sticky lump of dough.
5.  Scoop your dumplings with a scooper or spoon one by one and ease them into your simmering

     -Try not to put the dumplings on top of each other.  
     -The dumplings will begin to float.
6.  Put the lid on your stock pot, turn your stove down to medium low or low heat, and set your timer
     for 15 minutes.
7.  After 15 minutes you can take the top off your pot and turn off the stove.

Serve warm in a bowl.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

10/23/12 ChefElla's Crispy Fall Squash Cakes

I like fall.  The colorful leaves and cool air make it nice to be outside after a hot summer.  What I do not like about fall are the vegetables.  I like sweet fresh vegetables and fall vegetables are heavy and sometimes bitter.  My parents give me try all sorts of fall vegetables to try including squash, but I just did not like them.  One night during a family dinner my parents gave me some orange ravioli.  They were so good, and then I found out they were butternut squash ravioli.  While I like the ravioli they take a lot of time to make.  My squash cakes are much faster and easier to make.  I would serve these cakes as an appetizer before dinner or as your vegetable with dinner.  For this recipe you will need to use the stove and the oven.  If you are not allowed to use the stove or oven by yourself you can have your mom or dad help.

1.  Wash your hands.
2.  For this recipe you will need a small sauté pan, a blender or food processor, a rubber spatula
     or wooden spoon, a large mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a small scooper, a fork and
     spoon, aluminum foil, a cutting board, a knife and a sheet pan.

Ingredients: (This recipe will make about 36 pieces)
1 each         Butternut Squash
                   -You will need two cups roasted and mashed for the recipe.  2 cups is equals to around
                   1 medium sized squash.
1/4  Cup     Red Onion, small diced
2                 Large cloves of fresh garlic
                   -Garlic has a paper like coating.  Break off 2 large pieces (cloves) of garlic.  Put them on a 
                   cutting board and hit them with a rolling pin or mallet (kitchen hammer).  It is o.k. to smash
                   them for this recipe.  This will break the paper shell on the garlic.  Remove the cloves from
                   the paper.
4 leaves       Fresh Sage
                   -You can find fresh herbs at your local farmers market, or the produce section
                   at your local grocery store.
3 Tbl.           Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 each         Large Egg
1/4 Cup      Parmesan Cheese
1 Pkg.         Panko Bread Crumbs
                   -Panko bread crumbs are also known as Japanese bread crumbs, mie de pan (middle of the
                   bread), or white bread crumbs.  They are flakey and made from only the white part of the
1/4 Cup      Whole Wheat Pancake Mix        
1 tsp.           Salt, Kosher or Sea Salt
1/4 tsp.        Black Pepper
                   Pan Spray

3.  Pre-heat your oven to 425F.
4.  While your oven is heating cut your squash in half the long way.  Use your spoon to scoop out the.
     seeds, and throw the seeds away.  Line your sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Spray the inside of the
     squash with pan spray, and put the halves inside down on your sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 35-
     40 minutes.  When the squash is done put it on a plate and place it in the refrigerator for 20-30
     minutes.  When cool, use your spoon to scoop the squash out of the skin, and into your bowl.
5.  Heat your sauté pan on the stove on high and add your olive oil.  When the oil is hot add your
     onions, smashed garlic, and sage leaves.  Mix the ingredients and turn the pan to low.  Cook for
    5 minutes.  After 5 minutes remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
6.  When cool put the mixture in your blender, and add your egg, salt and pepper.  Blend the mixture
     until is is smooth.
     -Smooth means there are no lumps in your mixture it should look like milk with green specs.
     -Make sure you wash your hands after you crack your egg.
7.  Pour your liquid into the squash and mix well with your spatula.  When mixed add 1 cup of
     the Panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Save the rest of the bread crumbs for later.  When
     incorporated add the whole wheat pancake and mix gently until it is also incorporated into the
     -Incorporated means you cannot see the pancake mix anymore.
8.  Line your sheet pan with a new piece of foil, and spray with pan spray.  Pour some Panko bread
     crumbs on a plate.  Using your scooper, scoop some of your squash mixture, and put it on the bread
     crumbs.  Cover the squash with more bread crumbs from the plate and pat the mixture down into a
     patty shape.  As you pat the mixture down the bread crumbs will stick to the squash.  Add more
     bread crumbs as needed.
9.  Line your pan with the squash cakes and bake in your 425F oven for 12-15 minutes.

You can eat your squash cakes plain, or serve them with spinach artichoke or onion dip.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10/10/12 ChefElla's Chicken & Asparagus Pasta

I like spaghetti.  I would eat it everyday if my parents let me.  I like spaghetti with red sauce, cold spaghetti, spaghetti noodles with butter, or even spaghetti out of the refrigerator.  The problem with this is my parents do not love spaghetti as much as I do.  Lucky for me I have the perfect recipe.  This is a recipe that might not be your favorite, but your parents will love it.  It does have all of my favorite things in it, asparagus, parmesan cheese, olive oil, chicken and of course noodles, and I even added some tomatoes for my parents.  For this recipe you will need to use the stove and the oven.  If you are not allowed to use the stove or oven by yourself you can have your mom or dad help.

1.  Wash your hands.
2.  Get a stock pot, a pasta strainer, a large sauté pan, a blender or food processor, a heat proof spatula
     or wooden spoon, measuring spoons, aluminum foil, and
     measuring cups.

Ingredients: (This recipe will make four servings)
1 1/2 Cups    Dried Whole Wheat Pasta, Elbow, Penne, or Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta will all work for this
6                  Large cloves of fresh garlic.
                    -Garlic has a paper like coating.  Break off 6 large pieces (cloves) of garlic.  Put them on a 
                    cutting board and hit them with a rolling pin or mallet (kitchen hammer).  Do not smash
                    them.  This will break the paper shell on the garlic.  Remove the cloves from the paper.
4 oz              Asparagus spears, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
                   -Make sure you cut off the white part of the asparagus because it is too hard to eat.
1/2 Cup        Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
1/4              Medium Red Onion, chopped
1/2 Cup       Parmesan Cheese
3 Tbl.           Lemon Juice     
1 Tbl.           Parsley Flakes         
1 tsp.           Salt, Kosher or Sea Salt
1/4 tsp.        Black Pepper
8 oz.            Roasted or Grilled Chicken, Medium Diced.         
                  -Medium dice is about the same size as a dice from one of your games.
1                 Medium Tomato, Small Diced.  If you want you could also use 1 cup of Grape Tomatoes
                   cut in half.
                  -Small diced is about half the size of your diced chicken.

3.  First, heat your oven to 400F. 
4.  While your oven is heating, take a medium sized piece of aluminum foil and put it on the counter.
     Put your garlic on the foil with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Fold up the foil so the garlic is enclosed in
     the foil pouch.  Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
5.  Fill your stock pot 3/4 full with cold water.   Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat on high.
    When the water comes to a boil add your pasta and cook for the recommended cook time on the
    box.  When your pasta is finished put your pasta strainer over the sink and pour the pasta into it.
    - Be careful because the water and the noodles will be very hot.  You might want to have your
      parents help you with this part.
    - If you are going to use your pasta right away let it sit until you are ready for it.  If you are making
    your pasta ahead of time run cold water over your pasta, let it drain,  cover it and put it in the
    refrigerator for later.
6.  When your garlic is finished (it will be soft), put it into your blender or food processor.  Add olive
     oil, red onion, cheese, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and parsley flakes to your blender and blend
     until smooth.
7.  Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan on the stove on medium heat.  When hot add the asparagus pieces
     and cook for 5 minutes.  Make sure you stir the asparagus a few times while it is cooking.
8.  Add chicken and cook for 2-3 more minutes.  Add pasta and sauce from your blender to your pan
     and mix. 
9.  Heat for 2-3 more minutes, add tomatoes mix well and remove from heat.

Enjoy this alternative to plain spaghetti.