A Squared

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Almond Butter Banana Pancakes (Toddler Friendly)

These almond butter banana pancakes are a filling, healthy, and delicious way to start the day-- for the whole family!

Feeding a toddler has been a fun adventure full of surprises. I have loved trying new foods with her and seeing what her tastes are and how she reacts to different flavors and textures. And it's been a challenge for me trying to find ways to introduce her to new healthy foods with her limited number of teeth.


We were in a pretty good groove for a while when it came to breakfast: Every morning for the first few months that she was eating solid foods Hannah would have some diced fruit along with a bowl of oatmeal mixed with pureed fruit and a spoonful of nut butter. It was a great way to hit all the food groups and was easy for her to eat. Then one day a couple of weeks ago, she refused it. I thought she was being picky because she was teething but then she refused that same breakfast (or rather, just the oatmeal) all week long. So, I needed to come up with an alternative for whole grain and protein that wasn't just cheesy scrambled eggs and dry cereal-- which she does LOVE-- and these pancakes are just that!


These pancakes are a complete breakfast in themselves: whole grains from whole wheat flour, protein from almond butter, whole milk, and eggs, and the nutritional benefits of fresh bananas. They get some nice sweetness from the bananas and also from the addition of real maple syrup. These pancakes are hearty, but they have a nice fluffy texture and great flavor on their own-- which is how I feed them to Hannah-- slightly warmed with fresh fruit on the side. They're also great with a drizzle of maple syrup or melted almond butter too.

This recipe makes a huge batch of small pancakes, so it is perfect for making ahead and freezing. I have a huge bag of these stored in my freezer and will just take two out the night before and thaw them for Hannah to have for breakfast the next day. It's so nice to have an easy already prepared breakfast on hand for her-- and she loves them, which is the most important thing!


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup almond butter

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and oil. Fold in the mashed bananas. 

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the almond butter in the microwave until it becomes runny and smooth, about 20 to 30 seconds. Stir into the wet ingredient mixture and whisk until fully combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredient mixture and stir just until combined, without over-mixing.

Lightly grease a large nonstick pan and heat over medium heat. Drop a little less than 1/4 cup pancake batter and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the batter begins to bubble and the bottom is golden brown. Flip the pancakes and continue to cook until the edges are dry and the second side is golden brown as well.

Serve warm with maple syrup, almond butter, and/or sliced fruit. If preparing pancakes for freezing, transfer to a cooling rack until completely cooled. Store in an airtight large zip locking freezer bag and thaw as needed.


*Editor's Note: Recipe adapted from original recipe by Two Peas & Their Pod.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Wine & Food Pairings

I haven't shared my favorite wines in quite some time, so I figured that summer is the perfect time to do so! I'm a big fan of a cold glass of rose on the deck in the summertime, but my love for wine does not end there. A crisp white or even a bold red are also more than acceptable wines at this time of year-- as long as they're paired with the right food, of course!

Here's a roundup of a few of the wines I have been enjoying this summer-- and the recipes that you should enjoy with them too.

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Hogwash Rose - This is officially my favorite rose. That's sort of like picking a favorite child (in a kind of alcoholic way), but after sampling many this is the one that I love best. I discovered it a few years ago at a tiny (now closed) beer & wine shop in my neighborhood. The guys there recommended that I bring it along to a summer party I was headed to and they were right-- it was a hit! Fast forward to this spring when my picked up a bottle that we enjoyed by the beach in St. Simons Island, GA and I was reminded of how much I loved it so I found it at my local Whole Foods and have been enjoying it all summer long. It's a medium-bodied rose with fruity aromas and the perfect companion for barbecued food!
Pair it with: Balsamic Fig Grilled Lamb Chops
Lemon Marinated Grilled Chicken & Vegetables
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Frescobaldi Pomino Bianco DOC - The first thing that I noticed about this wine was how gorgeous the bottle and label were... I'm a sucker for good packaging and would say that if you believe that you "eat with your eyes first," then the same might be true for drinking as well. Beyond that though, this is a great summer white wine. Grown in Tuscany, it's a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco so it's dry, but not as harsh as some Chardonnays can be with some great fruity notes.
Pair it with: Watermelon Feta Bites
Kalamata & Lemon Roasted Salmon



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Château Saransot-Dupré Cru Bourgeois - I know embarrassingly little about French wine. I'm a big fan of Italian wines, love a good wine or sparkler from the Pacific Northwest... but French, I'm clueless! I may not know much about it, but what I can tell you about this Cru Bourgeois is that I like it... a lot! It's a gorgeous deep dark red blend including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a full-bodied wine with notes of balsamic and espresso that feels decadent to drink in the summertime, but because of that it is a great one to sip and savor on a summer night.
Pair it with: 
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Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva - This Chianti Rufina Riserva is a good one! After spending several months living in the Tuscany region and being a lifelong lover of Italian food, Chianti is definitely one of my standby reds. That said, sometimes the same old ones can get boring. This Tuscan Nipozzano Riserva is a little different: A nicely balanced red with big fruity notes (they cite cherry, plum, raspberry) with hints of spice like nutmeg and pepper.

Anne Aimee Cuvee A Midnight Saignee Rose Pinot Noir - You have my mom to thank for this rose too! After sampling it at a favorite wine shop she gifted me a bottle as an early birthday gift knowing how much I love rose-- and because I share a name with the vineyard! This rose is nice and dry with fruity notes like strawberry and cherry and spicy ones like chai spice and white pepper. If you like a dry rose, this is a great find!
Pair it with: Grilled Shrimp & Spaghetti with Spicy Breadcrumbs
Chicken, Peach & Goat Cheese Salad with Chive Vinaigrette





Editor's Note: Complimentary samples of Frescobaldi and Château Saransot-Dupré were provided in order to facilitate this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Weeknight Chicken Pasta Salad with Lemon Tea Vinaigrette

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #ServeWithACoke #Jewel #CollectiveBias

A lot has changed in my household since becoming a mom a little over a year ago. There is one thing that hasn't though: Putting delicious and healthy dinners on the table for my family every night is still one of my top priorities. What has changed is that after a long day at the office and an evening of tending to family matters, spending a ton of time making dinner in a hot kitchen on a steamy July night is about the last thing I feel like doing. And that's where my friends at Jewel-Osco and Gold Peak® have come to my rescue this summer!


I live just a few blocks away from a Jewel-Osco grocery store, so I find myself there often: Doing a big weekly shopping trip and then stopping in between for last minute items -- like dinner essentials, when I don't feel like cooking! And with that in mind, Jewel's Signature Meal Deals are a weeknight go to. I love the versatility of rotisserie chicken-- this chicken has the best flavor, it's super moist, and you can turn it into a sandwich, tacos, chicken salad, add it to pasta salad (scroll on down for my recipe!), or serve it as is, of course!


Rotisserie chicken is also part of the Jewel-Osco signature meal deal, so you can pick up a whole roasted chicken, 2 side dishes (like classic cole slaw!), and Hawaiian rolls and dinner is ready! It's a great value, but even better when you add a refreshing beverage to the mix. I'm partial to an iced Gold Peak tea in the summertime, while my husband is a Coca-Cola™ man all the way. The great news is that you can add a Gold Peak tea or a Coca-Cola to your signature meal for just $0.99. It's an easy way for us to get dinner on the table and have some time together without cooking or cleaning the kitchen. It's nice to have a few extra minutes to linger over a cool beverage together during a summer night!


And speaking of summer nights, one of my favorite dishes to make for dinner at this time of year is a pasta salad. It's a one-dish dinner that is totally customizable, can feed a crowd (or yield leftovers for lunch later in the week), and because I use a fully cooked rotisserie chicken, it requires very minimal cooking! This recipe starts with whole grain pasta and then I add season vegetables (in this case, green beans, carrots, and green onions), and cubed rosemary garlic rotisserie chicken. It's all tossed in a delicious homemade lemon tea vinaigrette made with fresh lemon juice and Gold Peak tea. The Gold Peak tea adds a little unexpected earthy flavor to the tangy lemony vinaigrette. And everyone knows that Gold Peak iced tea pairs perfectly with chicken, so the idea of a cold glass of iced tea plus bowl of roasted chicken pasta salad just tastes like summertime to me.


Gold Peak tea and this chicken pasta salad definitely make for a perfect dinner match... but let's be real, Gold Peak tea and Coca-Cola products go well with just about any meal! In case you're looking for more summer mealtime pairings though, Coca-Cola has shared some other great ideas for dishes to pair with your favorite Coca-Cola brand beverages.


Get a delicious and refreshing dinner on the table fast this summer with Gold Peak tea and Jewel-Osco signature meals. Summer is too short to spend standing over a stove when you should be enjoying it with friends, family, and a great meal instead!


Recipe:
  • 8 oz. dry short cut whole grain pasta *I used farfalle (bow ties)
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup Jewel-Osco Rosemary Garlic rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1/3 cup carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 cup green onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup Gold Peak unsweetened tea
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dry chives
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. 

With 3 minutes left of pasta cook time, add the cut green beans to the boiling pasta pot. Cook and drain well, rinsing well with cold water to prevent further cooking.

Add the pasta, green beans, chicken, carrots, and green onion to a large bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl or cruet, whisk tea, honey, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, chives, salt and pepper together until fully combined. Slowly stream in the oil, whisking constantly to incorporate.

Pour 1/2 cup of dressing over the pasta mixture and toss to combine. Serve or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Taste the pasta before serving and dress with reserved vinaigrette, if needed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Cooking with Toddlers + An Invitation to a Virtual Book Party!

As a lover of food and cooking, one of the things I have looked forward to most in becoming a mom is spending time in the kitchen with my daughter. Granted, right now she's more of a mess in the kitchen than a helper... but the kid loves food and I love that about her!

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Recently, I met up with fellow (newish) working mom Katie for coffee sans babies (delightful) and she told me a little bit about Usborne Books & More, a publisher of some of the cutest and most unique children's books I have seen in a long time. Katie is a consultant for UBAM and she started this side gig because as a mom herself, she fell in love with these books and wanted to fill her own son's shelves with them-- while sharing them with other book lovers along the way! And when we met up, she brought along a bag of some of her favorites as well as some great food-focused children's books that I am so looking forward to reading with Hannah.

She also shared with me a copy of Start to Cook by Abigail Wheatley, a first cookbook for kids. It's such a great book with tons of healthy recipes that are kid-friendly, but not basic or boring. I couldn't wait to take it home and try making something with Hannah and decided that since she had recently mastered drinking from a straw (hurray!) we'd try making a  strawberry & pineapple smoothie. The recipe was so simple: Only 3 ingredients (strawberries, banana, and pineapple juice) and the instructions were easy enough that a child (a little older than Hannah) could safely prepare it themselves. For instance, instead of using a blender to combine ingredients, the recipe called for using a masher in a pitcher instead.


I am sure that Hannah and I will be referring to this book a lot over the next few years as she claims her rightful place as my sous chef! And I'm excited to check out more Usborne Books as well and would like to invite you to do the same at my virtual Usborne Books & More party tomorrow night! Katie will be hosting an interactive Facebook party (nobody will see you so you can attend in your pajamas, like I will be!) to share more about these great books for children and grown ups alike, along with fun food-themed content that Katie created with you guys in mind, questions and some book giveaways too!

Interested in attending? The party starts at 8:30 PM Central Time on Thursday, July 20. It's a private party, so send me an email at aasquaredblog@gmail.com letting me know you'd like to attend and we can invite you too. And even if you can't make it, shop the party here!

Looking forward to "seeing" you all there!

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