Meringue bones with plum jam

How scary can be to eat a broken bone with some blood on it? Enough to create a spooky (and healthy) snack for your kids!!

The merengue recipe comes from my best friend Francesca’s mom, grandma Tina. Every time I go to visit them, grandma Tina is in the kitchen cooking amazing dishes like it’s always Christmas ;-) There is always a fresh baked cake for the kids to enjoy and 90% of the ingredients come from their garden and animals. Last time I was there she was preparing some meringues for her nieces and she gave me the recipe to try…so simple and so perfect! Thank you grandma Tina, you’re the best!!!

Being Halloween time I decided to use the recipe to create some scary shapes…like bones, but you can use the meringue recipe every day of the year and shape them in any design you like!

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Here you are the ingredients to fill a baking tray with meringues (I prepared 20 bones):

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How to proceed:

Divide (very well) the egg white from the yolk. If you do not know what to do with the yolks, what about a custard cream? or a homemade mayonnaise? or a homemade lemon curd? just some ideas for you.

Place the egg whites in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and using an electric beater beat the egg yolks in snow. It will take less than 4 minutes. They will be done when you will have obtained a thick and firm cream and the egg white mix will stay still on the electric beater without falling (see picture).

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Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to avoid any egg flavor in the final meringue.

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Using the electric beater slowly add the sugar. Mix for 2 minutes up until obtaining a shiny sticky mousse.

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Transfer the mousse in a plastic bag and cut one corner

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On a non stick baking sheet (you can use a parchment paper on top if you have a standard baking sheet) start creating the bones, one next to the other. I started making two circles one next to the other and a vertical line. Other two circles on top and my cute bone was done!

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Place the bones in the preheated oven at 250F / 120C  for 2 hours.  We are not technically baking but dehydrating the meringues. As I used brown sugar the meringues came out beige and not bright white, still spooky!

Final touch: I heated some homemade plum jam to make it more liquid and I let some drops fall on top of the bones creating a blood effect. My kids were extremely excited about it!!!


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merengue bones

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posted on October 16, 2014

Potato and cauliflower ghosts

I really like cauliflowers: I think they are extremely beautiful (that pale white with the elegant green side leaves) and the incredibly bubbly shape like an old tree. In addition to that cauliflowers are an excellent source of vitamin C, fibers and folate. Nevertheless it seems that kids do not particularly like them, at least in their beautiful natural form. Maybe for the kind of sulphur smell that they have if cooked a bit too much.

If boiled cauliflowers are not so attractive for kids, what about potato & cauliflower puree ghosts? My little Luca loved them without even questioning about cauliflowers ;-)

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Let’s start from the ingredients for 18/20 small ghosts:

potato ghosts ingred

How to proceed:

Wash and cut both the cauliflowers and the potatoes in medium size pieces. I used only the cauliflowers florets. Place the vegetables in some boiling water and let them cook for 20 minutes.

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Drain the vegetables and place them back in the same pot you used to boil them.

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Add the milk, a pinch of salt and the butter.

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With an immersion blender create a nice and smooth puree.

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Turn the heat on at low and place the pot back on the flames. Cook the puree for 5 minutes and keep stirring it with a wooden spatula.

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Turn the heat off and add the parmesan cheese and the nutmeg.

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Stir few times to nicely incorporate the ingredients to the mix and let it cool down for 10 minutes.

Fill a pastry bag with the puree and with a circular movement you will start creating the ghosts on a parchment paper on a baking sheet

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Cut a carrot in slices and cut out small triangles from every slice. Use the triangles as eyes for the puree ghosts.

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Place the puree ghosts in the oven (already preheated) and broil them for 10/15 minutes in order to create a nice and gold crust.

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The potato and cauliflower ghosts are lovely if served warm. Enjoy!

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potato ghosts

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posted on October 9, 2014

Crostata with homemade Nutella – no butter, no eggs, no milk!

Crostata, tart, gallette. Three different ways to express the same concept: a flaky crumbly crust filled either with fruit jam or with a chocolate mousse and decorated on top with the same dough of the crust. Simply delicious, tremendously easy to prepare.

Crostata is the very traditional sweet that you usually prepare at home and serve for breakfast or for an afternoon snack to your kids: a slice of homemade crostata + a nice glass of milk.

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Like tons of traditional recipes you can really play with the ingredients and prepare a traditional crostata, a lighter crostata, a vegan crostata….today I’m sharing with you my “light – allergy free” recipe without butter, without eggs and without milk. Compared to the traditional recipe, the crust is of course less buttery and more on the bread side. Thanks to the yogurt the crust is very soft.

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As my little Luca is kind of addicted to Nutella (or anything that runs in the chocolate family…) I decided to fill my crostata with my homemade Nutella (always to stay on the healthy side!!!). You can always substitute the Nutella or chocolate spread with a fruit jam: strawberries, apricots, peaches…you name it!!

Let’s start from the ingredients:

crostata ingred

How to proceed:

– in a medium bowl add all the ingredients starting from flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. On top of them add the sugar, the yogurt, the apple sauce and the zest of half lemon.

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– start mixing all the ingredients with a fork or a spoon at first. You do not want all the wet ingredients to get attached to your hands ;-)

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– When you will see that the mix will start getting crumbly, you will continue kneading the dough with your hands in order to obtain a compact and smooth ball.

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– Remove 1/3 of the dough and set it apart. We will need it for the final decoration. Take a tart baking pan and spread the dough on the base with your hands. You want the crostata base to be around 1/4 inch tick (5mm)

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– spread on top of the crostata base a generous layer of homemade Nutella (click the link for the recipe!). The more…the better ;-)

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– It’s time to take the 1/3 of dough that we set apart at the beginning. Dust a flat surface with some flour (and your hands will need it). and divide the dough in small balls.

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– With your hands roll the small balls in order to obtain long cylindric stripes. The traditional recipe uses the roller pin to flatten the crostata base and the stripes, but I find easier to use my hands and I really like the homey look of the crostata once baked. In particular, as the dough is very soft, i like that the base and the stripes are irregular and bumpy.

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– Final decoration: place the stripes on top of the Nutella layer creating a chessboard look.

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– Few brushes of milk on the dough surface and a sprinkle of granulated sugar on top.

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– The oven is preheated at 400F/ 200C. Bake the crostata for 30 minutes and let it cool down 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!!!

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crostata nutella

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posted on October 1, 2014

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