Chocolate Pudding Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream

This is the time of year that as a stay at home mom I think I should probably go into a new profession. I’m weary and burnt out on “mothering”. No wonder the kids can’t wait for dad to get home. We are nearing the end of this marathon called summer and I’m limping to the finish line.

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Where do I go to rejuvenate? The kitchen, of course. I’ve been baking pie, cookies and now a chocolate pudding tart. This tart crust was baked and kept frozen for a rainy  (or especially loooong day). I wasn’t sure what I was going to make with it until this week. I decided to keep it simple with a chocolate pudding filling. I made the pudding recipe from Tyler Florence and then, after chilling it, mixed in some heavy whipping cream and a little coconut milk that had been slightly whipped. Poured it into the tart pan, topped with fine coconut and served it to some hungry little boys. And you know what? I’m ready for another day.

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Stay strong moms and dads! School will start again soon and after a month or so, the longing for summer days will come again.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Friday Reflections – June 16

I hope the week treated you all well! I am finishing out this week with some thoughts on the huge role that my husband fills in our family. I am so darn thankful and I hope that Father’s Day isn’t the only day he knows it.

Besides having the job, Mike keeps our family moving forward in the right direction. He takes care of each of us in different ways and makes sure that we stay close throughout all the soccer practices and school projects. He makes us laugh and gets out the chips when we are all getting too serious. He plans the vacations, manages the finances and keeps the lawn mowed. It really is incredible. He handles the bedtime routine (thank goodness!) and takes time every evening with each child. Have I mentioned that he gets up and makes the coffee every morning? Angelic.

But I fear I don’t say it enough, how much I appreciate his tenderness and strength, his presence in all the big and small things that go into building a family.

My husband and I each grew up in a home with a loving, engaged father and I am so glad that our children are getting the same.

Below are a few pictures from the last couple weeks. Cheers!

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My favorite three boys at the Natural History Museum of LA back in February.
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Bake sale goodies!
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This local theater lets you bring beer into the auditorium and sells gigantic cookies.
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I’ve been in a pizza rut but this new rolling pin helps.
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Scored one with the 7 year old soccer team.

 

Berry Coconut Freezer Pops

Here we are at the tail end of the school year and I can tell you that I have been learning a lot lately. Take this week for example: I learned not to skip adding the potatoes to the skillet when roasting a chicken because the oven will become a grease covered, smoky mess. Coincidentally, I also learned how to clean my oven (steam cycle!) I learned that you can only say “yes” so many times before you have to say “no” to keep your sanity in check. Also, it is much harder to say “no” after initially saying “yes”. So hard! I’m also learning how to stand, which sounds even crazier than the first two, but while at a Pilates class, the instructor reminded us all to stand equally on both feet and not to lock our knees (room for air between the joints). This is called “active standing”. Locking the knees is called “passive standing” and I realized that I stand that way all the time. No wonder my hip joints and back hurt. So yes – I am learning how to stand. Lastly, I am learning how to create meals using what I have on hand and this is the most exciting of all the lessons. School is in session!

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I started volunteering at a cooking school down the street from us and one of the classes was called “Cooking by the Seat of your Pants” by Becky Selengut. I have basically talked about this class nonstop since that night. It was was one of those aha moments. She talked about how to taste food a

nd the different ingredients needed to make balanced food, which is the most satisfying. The food made in class contained ingredients she had on hand and she didn’t use any recipes. This is my dream way to cook.

When I started out cooking a few years ago, I didn’t know how to roast a vegetable and had to Google search EVERYTHING. I didn’t know how to cook a pork chop or what tarragon tasted like. I can’t even tell you how many times the smoke alarm went off while I was cooking. So, I’ve spent the majority of my energy on learning how to cook and keeping the seasonings to salt, pepper and olive oil. I also use recipes religiously. But after listening to Becky and hearing the different ingredients needed to create all these different flavors, I realized that I had all of them sitting in my cupboards. What I don’t have is the experience to put them together in satisfying interesting ways…..yet.

Which brings me to the other thing that I learned from Becky. Curry is one of those dishes that you can make using a variety of leftover vegetables and proteins. According to Becky, coconut milk and curry paste will be your best friend on a busy Wednesday night. Well, I have a real soft spot for curry and now seem to not be able to go a week without whipping up a pot. This week I didn’t use the whole can of coconut milk (another lesson I learned – don’t skimp on the coconut milk!) but no matter – I had another concoction in mind for the remaining.

Unlike curry, popsicles are one of the foods I have made quite often. chocolate pops,  smoothie pops, vanilla pudding pops – pretty much any recipe I see. We have had blue skies and sunshine this last week and I had my first after school request for a popsicle. I basically ran into the kitchen to comply and I encourage you to do the same. The coconut milk is sweet, smooth and creamy and the berries add that tart contrast that is irresistible.

Berry Coconut Freezer Pops

This recipe is so quick and versatile! Feel free to substitute any combination of frozen or fresh berries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups organic strawberries, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups organic blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (plus 2 tablespoons for coconut milk if layering popsicles)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk

Directions:

This recipe made 8 popsicles. Fill each mold half full of coconut milk and set aside. Combine berries, water, sugar and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Warm on medium-low, stirring and crushing fruit occasionally. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for a couple of minutes. I used a potato masher to really smooth out the fruit but you could keep the chunks. Pour mixture into a glass measuring cup and gently pour over the coconut milk to fill the molds the rest of the way.  Take a knife and gently swirl the two flavors together. Freeze for an hour and then add popsicle sticks. Continue freezing until firm (3-4 hours more). Enjoy!

Directions for layered popsicle:

In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the coconut milk and stir to combine. Divide equally among the popsicle molds. Continue as above. Omit swirling with knife.

 

Toasted Poppy Seed and Lemon Scone with Rhubarb Compote

April has turned to May and with Mother’s Day just around the corner, it is an obvious time to reflect on motherhood. My oldest turned 10 years old last week and I’m suddenly surprised that I’ve been doing this for that long already. I am just so proud of him and excited about this coming year. I remember those early years of mothering and how hard they felt. Everything was new and uncertain but also fiercely emotional. It’s not as new anymore and it’s easier to trust my parenting instincts as the years go by. I’m so thankful for all the moms that I’ve had in my life to help light the way. Friends who listened and talked me through sleep deprivation, picky eating (I talked a lot about this one), and new schools.

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I firmly believe that raising humans is the hardest, yet most important work of all.  Over the years, I’ve learned (or am learning, ahem) that parenting is not about creating a certain outcome but is more about finding out who these little humans are and helping them along the way. They are not my mirror and so they do not necessarily reflect me. Yet, I am responsible as well to ensure that they get all that they need so that they can grow up and continue the cycle. So lets celebrate motherhood and our own mothers for the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured into us and that we in return are pouring into our own children.

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This Mother’s Day is extra special because my mom is going to be traveling across the country to visit and will be here to celebrate with us. As I was thinking about what I wanted to make for her, as well as for my own family, I landed on lemon poppy seed scones. Scones that are flaky yet can hold up to a bit of compote or jam. Scones that announce that spring is here. Scones that can be eaten slowly over a cup of coffee. These ones fit the bill. The tangy lemon combined with the nutty crunch of poppy seeds keeps me coming back for more. I find many lemon poppy seed recipes to be a tad fussy (syrups and glazes) and so I love the simplicity of this recipe. I especially like the sparkling sugar that gives a nice sweet contrast. I used lemon extract that was given to me by Ballard Extracts, and I have to say, that I really like how the extract worked to let the poppy seeds share in the lime light.

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Rhubarb grew in our back yard growing up and I remember eating it raw right after pulling up a stalk. Rhubarb has a delightful sour taste that reminds me of grapefruit and has a texture similar to celery. It breaks down quickly when cooked and the pretty jeweled tone is a beautiful complement to the sparkling scone. I couldn’t stop dipping my scone in the compote so I finally just cut the scone in half and layered half with butter and compote. I would suggest doing the same!

 

Toasted Poppy Seed and Lemon Scone

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Dreamy Cranberry Scones.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (I prefer aluminum free)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter. Remove from refrigerator and cut into cubes right before incorporating into mixture.
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
  • 2 tablespoons sparkling sugar

Preheat the oven to 400° degree Fahrenheit and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a dry non-stick skillet, toast the poppy seeds on medium for a few minutes until they smell nutty. Remove to a small bowl and allow to cool. This is important because you don’t want warm poppy seeds to melt the chilled butter.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cooled poppy seeds. Using fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until the flour looks like sand and stays together when squeezed. Work quickly so as not to warm up the butter too much. I like to stick the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so to firm up the butter before moving on to the next step.

Mix lemon extract into heavy cream and pour into flour. Use a wooden spoon and mix. You will have a shaggy dough. Dump out on a clean counter top and knead 2 or 3 times to bring the dough together. Flatten dough into a 8 in circle. Use a bench scraper to even out the edges. The circle should be about 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to the baking sheet.

Cut into 8 triangles. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle sparkling sugar on top to your hearts desire.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotating once for even baking. The scones are done once a toothpick comes out clean and the scones are golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Scones are best eaten the same day, but you can freshen them up in the oven for a few minutes the following day or keep scones refrigerated over night and bake off the next mirning. You will need a few extra minutes for baking if refrigerating over night.

Rhubarb Compote

Adapted from Food52.com. I love this compote and along with slathering it on a scone, it is also lovely swirled into yogurt. You won’t want to skip it! Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to your tastes. I found 1/3 cup to be right for me but you can start out with a 1/4 cup and adjust from there.

  • 1/2 lb rhubarb stalk, chopped
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium low. Add rhubarb, sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir to combine and continue to stir to keep sugar from burning. The rhubarb and sugar will create a syrup on the bottom and bring to a simmer. Simmer and stir for 10 minutes. The rhubarb will soften and you will begin to smell the happy scent of the sour and sweet rhubarb. Take the compote off the burner once the rhubarb has softened and the compote is mostly smooth, with only a few chunks remaining. Cool and refrigerate. Serve on the side.