Yesterday was Witzy's birthday... and we pulled off a fabulous celebration. I say "pulled off" because my life has been so scattered over the last few months, that I left a lot of the details until the very last minute. Thankfully, everything came together. She felt very, very loved... which is what every little girl needs, right?
As is our family custom, the birthday girl got to pick her meals for the day. She chose granola with milk for breakfast (of all wonderful things she could have thought up!) with organic valencia oranges on the side, and an egg of course. For lunch, she wanted cheese sandwiches, popcorn and FruitABu's, which are 100% fruit leathers, a very special treat. (Don't you love how she's keeping things simple?) For supper, she wanted homemade Macaroni and Cheese and Steamed Broccoli. In making the Mac n' Cheese, I used whole wheat Fusilli, a homemade cheese sauce, and bits of Hormel preservative-free ham. (This isn't normal fare, but you can read why we celebrate this way here.)
For her special dessert, she wanted a Raspberry Tart. I didn't have to look far for a recipe, because there was one I could use in my new cookbook. It was actually for Raspberry Cookies, but it worked well as a large tart too. It was a super simple recipe. Really simple, which I loved. The crust is ground up almonds, oats and wheat flour and is sweetened with maple syrup. The filling is an all-fruit raspberry jam. It was definitely sweet enough. The only thing I would change next time is that it called for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which tasted too strong. I might try melted butter or coconut oil next time. Here is the final result.
And, here it is with a scoop of Breyer's Natural Vanilla Ice Cream. Or, is that two scoops?
And here is a bonus picture. My husband's birthday was two weeks ago and we made him a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pound Cake. It is pictured here with Breyer's Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, of course. Both of these desserts were made with natural sweeteners and whole ingredients.
Now, for the Basic White Sauce. As I was making the cheese sauce yesterday, I though about how one Basic White Sauce enables me to steer clear of MSG- and preservative-laden canned products. It has revolutionized my cooking. Every time I see a recipe that calls for a condensed soup or a jar of cheese sauce, I know I can still use the recipe by substituting a version of my white sauce. Making a white sauce is a really simple, empowering kitchen skill. Here's how:
- For a medium thick sauce, melt 2 Tbsp of butter in a saucepan.
- Add 2 Tbsp of flour. I regularly use whole wheat flour, but if I need it white I will use 1 Tbsp of Non-GMO corn starch.
- Stir until smooth and bubbly.
- Using a wire whisk, stir in 1 c. of milk or stock or a combination of both.
- Cook until smooth and thickened. It will be a little bubbly, and at that point, you want to stop cooking it.
- Once you have your Basic Sauce, you can add herbs, salt, pepper, mushrooms, sauted onions, chili seasoning, or cheese.
I use this basic recipe when making a sauce to pour over rice and chicken, in making the cheese sauce for Macaroni and Cheese, for making thickened soups... and on and on. I even use it to make a whole foods version of Hamburger Helper!