Few vegetables are as emblematic of spring as asparagus. Have you ever seen asparagus growing in a garden? My daughters and I discovered stalks of asparagus growing in a strawberry patch last year. It was amazing to see the spiky vegetable poking out of the soil. Asparagus is a great vegetable to get kids excited about gardening.
A simple way to enjoy eating asparagus is with a light and flaky puff pastry tart. Ready made, puff pastry is a home cook's secret weapon. Puff pastry is simple to use and makes a fool-proof base to many different dishes. This spring tart combines seasonal asparagus, green onions, peas, gouda and bacon - because everything tastes better with bacon. Tarts are a fabulous addition to the kids' lunch box or alongside a green salad for lunch or dinner.
2 cups grated gouda
1 package of puff pastry, thawed
12 asparagus spears
2 green onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 pieces of bacon, baked and chopped
1/2 cup spring peas (fresh or frozen)
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 tsp grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp water
Your best friend had a baby and you want to bring something along when you visit the baby for the very first time. Leave the stuffed toy at the store and take along this hearty and heart warming sweet potato and chicken soup. This simple and delicious soup moves easily from the freezer to the slow cooker, making it perfect for a busy (and tired) mama. Do all the prep work ahead of time for your friend - what more could a new mom need?
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped kale
Combine all the ingredients in a large, resealable freezer bag. Roll down the top of the freezer bag and scoop the sweet potatoes into the bag first. This will anchor the bag, so that it doesn't tip over as you add the other vegetables and chicken. Don't add the kale to the freezer bag. Wrap the kale in a piece of paper towel and place the kale in a separate small resealable bag to be stored in the fridge.
A couple of things to know about freezer meals, first of all freezer meals can be safely stored for up to three months. It is best to thaw freezer meals before placing them in the slow cooker. This will result in the most even cooking of everything in the dish. Because the slow cooker is cooking everything from raw, freezer meals won't taste like leftovers. The soup tastes fresh and is a healthy, convenient option for busy new parents. Finally, don't forget to label the freezer bag. Either write directly on the bag or use an adhesive address label. Be sure to include the name of the dish, the cooking instructions and the "eat before" date on the label.
When I unwrapped the ice cream maker that my sister gave my daughter for her first birthday I was a little shocked. What was a one year old going to do with an ice cream maker? Well, it turns out that the ice cream maker was one of the best gifts my kids have ever received. It's the gift that keeps on giving - giving deliciously freshly made ice cream. If you are heading to a baby shower or a little one's birthday party, might I suggest gifting an ice cream maker. Please, who doesn't love ice cream?
Of course, over the years we have made many batches of ice cream. One of our all time favourite recipe's is our homemade birthday cake ice cream. Yep, chunks of birthday cake, chunks of icing and plenty of sprinkley toppings turn ordinary vanilla ice cream into a fun, festive treat.
2 vanilla cupcakes (either ready made, store bought cupcakes or from a cake mix box)
2 tbsp vanilla icing (either ready made or homemade)
1 tbsp festive sprinkles of your choice
For the Ice Cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
Turn on the ice cream machine and pour the cold mixture into the cold ice cream machine. Churn until the ice cream has formed, yet is still soft. Follow your ice cream machine's manual for the timing. We have the basic Cuisinart 2 quart ice cream maker - we let it churn 20 minutes.
Transfer the soft ice cream into a large, freezer safe, resealable container. Crumble in 2 cupcakes, icing and half the sprinkles. We used 2 cupcakes from a batch of cupcakes that we had baked for the birthday girl. It was easy to spare 2 cupcakes for the ice cream. Gently stir the cupcakes, icing and sprinkles into the ice cream.
Be sure to add the cupcakes and sprinkles to the ice cream after it has been removed from the ice cream machine. If not, the ice cream maker may get jammed and damaged.
What is the birthday boy or girl's favourite flavour? We used a vanilla cupcake, but feel free to add a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing. The chunks of cake and icing make a delightful and festive surprise for guests.