OK, folks, I’m not even going to try to pretend I’m not slightly biased about the awesomeness of this next culinary adventure. Having lived in Maine through high school and college (go Black Bears!), I’ve developed a special fondness for Vacation Land. Anyone who’s lived in Maine at one time or another can attest to the motto being 100% true. It really IS “The Way Life Should Be!” It’s beautiful, the folks are as friendly as can be and holy crap the food is delicious! So I admit to nudging Madison towards “visiting” this state next on our Culinary World Tour because it’s summer and I was craving “Maine food” anyway! For this stamp in our Food Passport, we decided to make some good ol’ Maine clam chowder and whoopie pies! Now, there is some debate as to the origin of both those dishes, but having spent so much time in Maine, I can definitely verify that they are two staples of Maine cuisine. And they are made differently in Maine than in other places, so that’s good enough for me!
Now. I need to take a moment to talk about whoopie pies. Because, if you’ve never tried one before – and I’m really not familiar with places outside of Maine that make/sell them, so there may be many of you who haven’t tried them- you need to prepare yourself for the mouthful of awesome that you are about to experience. Seriously. I’m talking like… put on your stretchiest pants and sit your butt down in your favorite chair. Whoopie pies are a comfort food punch in the mouth in the best possible way. I honestly forgot how amazing they were since moving back to Connecticut but back in the day, they were sold in our cafeteria… at every Mom ‘n’ Pop store… gas station… bake sale… you name it. There is an entire bakery devoted to whoopie pies in Gardiner, ME (Wicked Whoopies. Go there. You will possibly die from pure sugary bliss but it will be worth it…. Or if you don’t like to travel for your sugar comas, THEY DELIVER. Did you read that correctly? Yes. Someone will put a real Maine whoopie pie in a box and ship it to your door.), and I’m fairly certain it is the official state treat.
So… is this a lot of hype? Yes. Will you ever regret making… buying… eating… a real whoopie pie? Absolutely not. Now there are a few debates on whoopie pie filling…some people use regular frosting… some use just marshmallow fluff… some use a cream cheese type concoction. While these are all delicious, I’m a whoopie pie purest and like to stick with the magical concoction included in this recipe. And this is a recipe from a couple of Maine grannies… so I’m pretty sure that makes it the best ever (visit the link to the original recipe to see pics of the adorable grannies making whoopie pies).
After we did our little bit of trivia searching – Madison learned that there is a county in Maine (Aroostock) that is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined (this of course blew her mind) – we set up our Pandora station to accompany our baking. This time around we went for a bluegrass station, as I have so many fond memories of summers in Maine with blueberry and bluegrass festivals, and it just seemed right. To my surprise, Madison loved the bluegrass (I swear, this kid is a “Mainah” at heart!). And onto the cooking!
MAINE WHOOPIE PIES
Ingredients for Cakes:
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons of cocoa (rita uses 4)
- 2 cups sifted flour
- 1 teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda, salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Cream sugar and shortening together.
- Add beaten egg yolks.
- Sift dry ingredients together.
- Add milk and vanilla alternatively with the dry ingredients into the wet mix.
- Drop the batter in equal spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving room to spread.
- Bake in a pre-heated 375 degrees oven for 7-10 minutes.
- Remove to wire racks to cool.
Ingredients for Filling:
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons Fluff
- Combine all ingredients and blend with an electric mixer.
- Spoon filling onto completely cooled cakes and top off like a sandwich.
(As you can see… we didn’t wait long enough to put the filling in the whoopies – it smelled too good to wait! They were still a little too warm so it got a little messy but it was still delish!)
This recipe was found on katyelliott.com
MAINE CLAM CHOWDER
The recipe is from the historic Cliff House in Ogunquit, Maine and it pairs the briny clam broth with hickory smoked bacon. Maine clam chowder is not as thick as other New England chowders, but in my opinion it’s the best there is! Give it a try!
- 1 slice hickory-smoked bacon, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon butter
- 1 cup onion, minced
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon The Cliff House Spice Blend (see below)
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 can clams (6.5 ounces)
- 1 cup bottled clam juice
- 1-1/2 cups half and half
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and diced
To create The Cliff House Spice Blend:
- 4 teaspoons oregano
- 4 teaspoons dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons marjoram
- 2 teaspoons dill
- 4 teaspoons thyme
- 4 teaspoons basil
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 4 teaspoons rosemary
- 2 teaspoons tarragon
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Blend all ingredients (crushing in a mortar if possible). Store in a resealable plastic bag to refrigerate.
- In a heavy-bottomed, 4-pint soup kettle, sauté bacon, butter, onion, garlic and The Cliff House Spice Blend over low heat. Do not allow to brown.
- Drain clams and set aside, reserving the juice.
- Slowly stir the flour and clam juices into the sauté mixture.
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat.
- Add half and half. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add white pepper, potatoes and clams.
- Heat to serving temperature. (Avoid boiling, as this can make the clams tough.)
- Serve immediately with crackers (and cornbread!)
This recipe was found on gonewengland.about.com
NEXT STOP: FLORIDA!
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Panini Bar: Kids in the Kitchen
If you’re just joining us for the Kids in the Kitchen Series, be sure to check out last week’s challenge where we shared some tasty breakfast treats. This week, we’re working on lunch! If your kids are tiring of the same old lunch sandwiches, let’s change things up a bit and get them involved with their lunch choice. A panini bar is a great way to host an afternoon of family fun! (In truth, the panini bar makes regular appearances on our dinner menu as well – it’s a great option for the working mom who wants to serve a hot meal but doesn’t have a lot of time. I’ve also been known to sneak a hot panini for breakfast!)
The best part about a panini bar is that you can always switch it up. We lay out everything in the fridge in a huge spread and then the choices begin! Emily usually takes the orders and then I help her prep. She cooks them in our panini maker (Best invention ever! This is an affiliate link for the one I have – don’t feel led to click – it’s just there if you want it because I really think this product is awesome!) and then serves them up like a waitress in our own little family restaurant. Some things you’ll need:
- Assortment of bread – We’ve used white, wheat, tortillas, homemade, rolls, bagels, pitas…whatever happens to be on hand.
- Assortment of meats – Ham, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, roasted chicken (See The Bird Word Series!)…whatever you like!
- Assortment of cheese – We always have cheddar and provolone on hand, but often take it up a notch with pepper jack or fresh mozzarella (my fav!).
- Assortment of toppings – Tomatoes, basil, roasted red peppers, hot peppers, avocado and bacon have all made appearances on our panini menu.
- Assortment of condiments – Mayo, mustard, hot sauce, ranch dressing…lots of tasty options here.
The opportunities are truly endless. Everyone loves getting to have something a little different and choosing their own toppings per their tastes, but you don’t feel like you’re prepping separate meals for everyone. It’s quick to set up, quick to prep and quick to clean up. And the best part is that a panini bar requires some input from every member of the family, so it’s a great activity to get everyone chatting and interacting in a combined effort to create some tasty together.
We’ve made BLTs, club sandwiches, mozzarella caprese yummies (YES!!!!), grilled cheese…seriously, I can’t think of a food that doesn’t taste better after it’s been pressed in the panini maker. It’s like my own little homemade Panera! Emily feels super independent and in control getting to prep and cook, and I love getting a bit of a break from being in charge of mealtime.
Do you have an awesome sandwich that you think would be killer in the panini maker? Please share! I’m always looking for new ingredients to include in our panini bar. And be sure to link up any awesome panini recipes below and check out what the other gals made this week!
Quick and Easy Recipes for Working Moms
If there is one thing I am always on the hunt for, it’s quick and easy recipes. With growing toddler twin boys eating me out of house and home, I’m constantly fighting the grumpy munchies when we get home from work. Dinner needed to be on the table…like five minutes ago. Finding the right quick and easy recipes has been a bit of a challenge. There’s no shortage of recipes on Pinterest, but I find myself quickly overwhelmed and click happy, leaving me with hundreds of options spread across 15 different boards. Some recipes are easy prep and then some just look darn tasty and would take some real elbow grease and time for me to pull off.
So! I decided to create a never-ending quick and easy recipes link up on Chaos & Kiddos! For all those working moms out there who frequent our site for recipes that are manageable for the tight-on-time working parent, we’ve now got this extra bonus post for you! We’ll be collecting quick and easy recipes from bloggers all over the planet!
There’s just one rule – All recipes posted MUST BE 45 MINUTES TOPS from preparation to table. This includes cooking time!
The link up sorts the most recently added recipes to the top of the list, so come back time and time again for new recipes to freshen things up a bit. Bloggers! This is your chance to get creative when sharing recipes that would be an ideal fit for a tired working mom coming home to starving kiddos. It does not have to be dinner specific either! Quick snacks, breakfast, lunch…anything that can be whipped up in a jiffy to quell hungry voices with just a little bit of time and effort.
If you try a recipe and find that it is extra, extra fabulous, please come back to leave some blog love via the comments to encourage other working moms to take special note of a home run quick and easy recipe that you discovered on this link up. And visit the original poster to say thanks for helping save time and energy (and sanity!) in my home!
Oatmeal On-The-Go Bars by Weelicious: Kids in the Kitchen
The name really says it all on this one. As working moms, I’m sure most of us would admit that “on-the-go” is pretty much the only mode we operate in. When it comes to cooking, it needs to be quick and easy. As I work harder to focus on healthy ingredients, I’m often drawn back to my Weelicious Cookbook, where simple healthy recipes abound and cooking is always a family affair. This week, for the Kids in the Kitchen Series, we had to come up with a breakfast food to cook with our children. I immediately thought of the Oatmeal On-The-Go Bars by Weelicious because they’re super healthy, very easy and have lots of ingredients that the boys enjoy dumping in their bowls. And for the working mom, they are a major win, because they’re perfect for me to grab for breakfast as I’m heading out the door in the morning.
I admit, this post was supposed to publish first thing Monday morning. As often happens, life got in the way, and I’m, let’s see, only about 12 hours late. I almost didn’t get it done tonight either! I had one moment of “Oh, I’ll just do it tomorrow,” and thankfully, I convinced myself otherwise. Cooking tonight with the kids (all 3 of them!) will be a memory I hold dear for years to come. The boys were so excited, and their “sissy” was happy to hang out with her family for some tasty fun. They ended up chanting “You can do it! You can do it!” when Emily was measuring ingredients and even hugged each other in happiness, which is a rare occasion for my crazy competitive boys. It was a special night. I’m so glad I followed through. Doing these series with my blogger friends really challenges me to purposefully plan fun activities with my children, which as a busy mom, is something I feel I often overlook when the going gets tough, even though it should be my number 1 priority.
What You’ll Need:
- 2 cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
- 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 1/2 cups Milk
- 1/2 cup Applesauce
- 1 Egg
- 3 tbsp Honey
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 3/4 cup Dried Fruit (I used raisins and dried cranberries)
- 1/4 cup Nuts or Seeds (I used Pepitas and Sunflower Seeds)
-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Combine oats, flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.
-Combine milk, applesauce, egg, honey and vanilla in a large bowl.
-Mix the dry and wet ingredients together.
-Add the dried fruit and nuts.
-Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.
These bars will last 5 days in the fridge and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Be sure to check out what recipes my gal pals tackled for this week’s challenge and link up your own tasty breakfast posts!