Mom’s Trifecta

Three of yesterday’s food adventures reminded me so much of my mom, I felt compelled to call her and tell her about the little hat trick that she unknowingly scored.  The food was not elaborate or fancy but for me, a simple nudge of childhood memories.  I believe the memories associated with food, home, and comfort are one of the greatest things that a mother can give to her children.  Surprisingly, the two main stars of the day were celery and raisins.

The first order of the morning was getting the split pea soup into the crock pot for dinner.  This involved putting dry peas in with some water, salt, pepper and finely chopping carrots and celery.  There is something very therapeutic about chopping vegetables.  Easy, simple, pea soup goodness.  Just like mom used to make.  I actually believe you either love pea soup or hate it.  I was fortunate enough to receive my mom’s genes for the affinity to pea soup.  She was also blessed with them by her mother.  If you don’t share the love, I do understand.  The texture.  The color.  Either one could possibly put your stomach into a tail spin, if you don’t have the pea soup gene.

After playing outside, we enjoyed a snack of Ants on a Log.  What’s that you say?  Ants?  On a Log?

My mom used to make these for a snack when I was little.  Celery.  Peanut Butter.  Raisins.  The celery acts as a log, the peanut butter is there because hello?  Celery and Peanut Butter.  They are somehow joined in matrimony.  While not as holy as Peanut Butter and Jelly, I believe the crunch and the cream is meant to be.  In reality, the ‘ants’ simply need something to stick to!  I am not even normally that big of a fan of the ol’ PB.  My husband however holds a completely different affection for the butter of peanuts.  He puts it in his oatmeal.  He puts it on his pancakes.  Don’t even get me started on how much he loves it with chocolate.  I would have to admit that the chocolate and peanut butter marriage ranks considerably above celery but in the land of healthy, I think celery would knock out chocolate.  Did you know it takes more calories to actually chew celery than it’s worth?  (Who am I kidding?  I.  Love.  Chocolate.  Sometimes more than my own children.  Well, that’s not really true.  But I do count it as a fifth food group.  If there ever truly was a war between celery and chocolate, my bets are on the dark brown cacao derivative.)

For the sake of the Ants on a Log, celery was our traditional log.  The raisins were served on the side for my kiddos because I wasn’t sure how those little wrinkly ‘ants’ were going to go down with the celery.  But when they saw me doing it, they had to try it too!  The raisins give the snack a bit of sweet goodness.  Successful Ants on a Log passed down from one generation to the next.  *wipes brow*

We also used to have Ants on a Toilet.  Half an apple served as the toilet, in place of the aforementioned ‘log’.  (I apologize for all of the potty related innuendos.)  I also recall that these two silly snacks served as the basis for the junior high speech I gave where we were required to do a demonstration.  What I most remember is the girl who shaved her legs for her speech.  I’m guessing the guys did too.  At least if my kids ever need to do a demonstration, we already have some ideas in our back pocket.

As the Ants on a Log were consumed by the little ones, I mixed up a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.  The food connections progressed so naturally from one to another.  The celery in the soup caused the peanut butter to be unleashed.  I had the cookies on the docket for about a week so I had the raisins in the pantry.  It was truly a very blessed kitchen trifecta.  All thanks to mom.  Thank you Mom!

The skies happened to be overcast and rainy.  This causes the conditions in my oven to be favorable in producing at least one baked item.  Oatmeal raisin cookies are my mom’s favorite and (most days) mine too.  I simply use the recipe located on the underside of the Quaker Oatmeal container lid.  I also use butter flavor Crisco.  Be sure to add the 2 Tbsp of water if using Crisco.  If you forget, your cookies will not love you, nor you your cookies.  This is a tip from my sister who makes the most amazing chocolate chip cookies.  One of her secrets to success is the Crisco.  Thank you dear sister!  Here are the cookies.  Mmmmmm….

The soup, while pea in flavor and pea in color, is not exactly what I consider photogenic.  However, I felt the need to photograph it just the same.  The greenish guise belies its delicious flavor.

Here is the recipe I used for the split pea soup.  I didn’t have ham or feel like going to the store with my two little ones in tow so I opted not to add any meat this time.  Usually, I throw a ham hock in and it gives the soup a really nice flavor.

Split Pea Soup

  • 1 package split peas (do not soak)
  • 2 cups ham chopped fine (optional)
  • 2 cups celery, chopped fine
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped fine
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons of salt (I used kosher)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of pepper

Put all ingredients into crock pot.  Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

Here’s to moms everywhere!  Keep doing what you do best.  Cook.  Bake.  Love.

Bribe to Mother Nature

I attempted to lure Spring into our house today through pastel colored frosting.  Lame, you say?  Maybe.  But these cookies are just too cute not to make. I found them in Parents magazine and have to confess that anything with seven ingredients or less tends to catch my eye.  Four ingredients for the actual cookie.  Four!

I used my cookie dough scoop on the first two dozen, not rolling into balls, and they turned out fine.  My last batch I did roll into balls and would recommend for uniformity.  It just depends how fussy you’d like to be.  I also did not have buttermilk and just used plain whole milk. However, you could use a buttermilk substitute if you feel inclined.  I baked the cookies for 8 minutes because I like mine on the chewy side. I used whipped frosting and would not recommend it. The plain old regular kind is best. The whipped was just too wet and and did not provide a strong sandwich middle.

The cookie by itself is delightful. If you don’t feel like doing the whole frosting bit or have tiny wee ones and don’t care for the mess, the cookie alone is a quick and easy treat. These are great for Easter or for a baby shower, with all pink or all blue frosting if the baby’s gender is known. To my fellow yellow-cake-with-chocolate- frosting lovers, you could substitute chocolate frosting for the vanilla and even omit the sprinkles.

We just might put a few of these cookies out on the deck as a bribe to Mother Nature…

Cake Mix Cookies

  • 1 box (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Colored sprinkles
  • 1 can (16 oz) vanilla frosting (use plain, not whipped version!)
  • Yellow, red, blue food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside

Combine the cake mix, egg, oil and buttermilk in a large bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Shape 1-inch mounds of batter into balls and flatten slightly.  Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.  Top with sprinkles.

Bake until cookies are golden and firm, 8-10 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Divide the frosting among three bowls.  Use a few drops of food coloring to tint frosting the desired shades of pink, blue, and yellow.  Sandwich the cookies together with frosting.  Makes about 30 cookies or 15 cookie sandwiches.

Nutella Cookies

Today my oven was graced with just four ingredients, which when combined were delightful.

Enter flour, sugar, an egg and *cue the alleluia music* Nutella.  Oh Nutella.  How I love you so.

These little guys even received praises from my dear husband, whose compliments can be slightly hard to come by.  Here is the recipe for Nutella Cookies.  Simple.  Easy.  Delicious.