Dinosaur Chicken Nugget, Asparagus and Black Olive Pizza

I asked the girls on the way home Friday night what they wanted for dinner. Pizza was the overwhelming choice. When I asked them what they wanted on their pizza, a new Pickles and Cake feature was born.

“Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets!” Sadie blurted out.
“Olives! And Asparagus!” Lillie shouted.

I processed the request for a second and realized that enthusiasm always wins out.

“You imagine it and we will make it!”

Now where to find dinosaur chicken nuggets!

I ran out of time to make my own dough so I picked up some Flatout Wraps – nice and easy.

Popped them onto a baking sheet and laid down the sauce, nuggets, veggies and cheese.

Baked in an oven for 12 minutes at 425 degrees.

The crust was crispy and crunchy!

A quick slice and our new pizza was ready to eat. Sadie was starving and ate every bite.

The pizza was really tasty and the fun meter was pegged because they got to make their own imagined meal.

I asked Lillie what she thought of her new creation.

“Are you kidding?! This pizza is phenomulous!”

What?! Is that a combination of fabulous and phenomenal? Am I really that out of touch?

Lillie and her dinosaur friend enjoying dino chicken nugget pizza

Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho Recipe
June 22, 2009, 9:29 pm
Filed under: chris, gourmet kids recipe, lillie, picklesandcake, recipe, sadie, sauter

It’s summertime in Florida which means hot soups are off the menu. Gazpacho is a traditional chilled raw-veggie soup from Spain with a tomato base. It’s like a refreshing liquid salad. I remember John Croatti occasionally making an amazing grilled vegetable gazpacho at the Berkeley Grille so I gave him a call to find out how it’s done. Grilling off a few veggies adds a complexity and heartiness to the soup that is worth trying.

Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho

3 ripe tomatoes, cut in half
1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 6 pieces
1 zucchini, cut into 1/3″ strips (see photo)
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tbsp fresh cilantro
2 average sized cucumbers, peeled, halved and seeded
3 cups V8 or tomato juice
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp course salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

The first step is to brush the veggies on both sides with olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and place on a hot grill.

Grill for about 3 minutes on each side. You want the zucchini to still be a little firm in the middle. Drop veggies into an ice bath (large bowl filled with ice and water) for a few minutes to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the skin from tomatoes and peppers.

Pulse tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs in the food processor (the blender would work too) until finely minced but not pureed. 12 pulses should do it.

Finely dice peppers, cucumbers and zucchini by hand. Pour puree into large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients. If it is too chunky, add a little extra tomato juice. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours – overnight if you can. The grilled veggie flavor was perfect 24 hours later.

Serve up with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a little more cracked pepper.

Sadie quietly ate her whole cup of soup.

Lillie loved the gazpacho as well! Another winner!

Will They Eat It? Japanese Crab Snacks

Talk about a hardcore snack – these crunchy little whole crabs are coated with a savory soy glaze and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. As soon as I saw this unique snack from Japan, it jumped to the top of the “Will They Eat It?” list.

Yes, this is really a snack! Sadie was ready to go and could hardly wait for me to set up the shot.

Hmmmm? Crunchy crab snack? I am so ready!

Love this shot! Bye Mr. Crabs!

Lillie was a little more skeptical but said she loved them. She put on a good show. Check the video at the end for her Oscar-caliber performance.

Check out the video! Sadie crunching the crab is so funny and Lillie’s hesitant praise is dead on. I ate one and could barely get it down. The intense and concentrated seafood flavor was over the top.

Best Guacamole Ever
May 25, 2009, 10:45 pm
Filed under: gourmet kids recipe, guacamole, picklesandcake, recipe, sauter

Best Guacamole Ever

3 ripe Haas avocados
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 small tomato, seeded and 1/4 inch cubed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt
ground pepper to taste (1/4 tsp recommended)

Cut avocados in half and use your blade to twist and pop out the pit.

Slice a crisscross (Jump Jump!) pattern down into the halved avocados without piercing the skin.

Flip inside out and drop the two softest avocados into a mixing bowl. Save the firmest avocado for last.

Use a fork to mash the first two avocados.

Add the remaining ingredients…

Mix well with your fork and then gently fold in the last avocado for some more solid density and texture.

Serve! Here is a video of me serving the girls guacamole in the musical sombrero. The reaction is priceless.

This easy fresh-flavored dip is perfect for chips or fajitas.

Lillie Loves Corn
April 28, 2009, 9:13 pm
Filed under: corn, epcot, lillie, pickles and cake, sauter
corn power!

Finally tall enough for Soarin’ and Test Track, Lillie was itching to go back to Epcot without Sadie to hit up some new rides. The two of us arrived during their Garden and Flower Festival on a late afternoon.

The weather was perfect and she loved both rides. They had some great playgrounds set up to wear her out.

We took a corn break in the park and then headed home as the sun was setting. Perfect afternoon with my little buddy.

Chipotle Pulled Pork Enchiladas
April 22, 2009, 9:50 pm
Filed under: chipotle, enchiladas, gourmet kids recipe, mexican, picklesandcake, pulled pork, sauter

Old pal Brandi Marsh Panzarino asked me to share some Mexican-themed recipes for an upcoming fiesta. I decided to update the classic enchilada with a smokey pulled pork filling – I used the Chicken Enchilada recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook as a guide and let the rest fall into place.

Knowing I was serving this to a 2 and 4 year old, I pulled back on the Chipotle and used Ancho chili powder to make the dish less spicy. Ancho chilies are smokey and sweet without all the heat of a traditional chili powder. The Ancho chili powder can be hard to find, so you can substitute chipotle or traditional chili powder if you crave the spicy fire.

There are a few steps to this recipe but they are all relatively simple and will be worth it in the end. Just ask my little oven-mitted helper.

The first step is to slow cook the pork. I use a crockpot to get just the right pulled pork consistency without a smoker, etc. It will take about 8 to 10 hours so make the pulled pork the day before if you can.

Ancho Pulled Pork

3 – 4 lb Boston Butt pork roast
1 sweet onion
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Ancho or regular chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika (add two canned chipotles instead for a little more spice)
1 tsp cumin
2 cups white wine (or a can of beer)
1 cup bbq sauce
1 cup v8 or tomato juice (remainder of can will be used for enchilada sauce)
2 packets Goya sazon

Thinly slice the onion and place on the bottom of your crockpot. Add all dry ingredients over onions.

Place pork into crockpot and then add wine and tomato juice. Pour bbq sauce over pork. Turn on High for 2 hours to jump start the cooking process.

Set on Low and cook for an additional 6 to 8 hours. Carefully rotate pork top side down with tongs 3 or 4 times during the cooking process. When done, the pork will be falling off the bone.

Remove roast from crockpot onto a cookie sheet or large plate. Careful now! That pork is hot and at the same time, is falling apart. Let it cool and then use a fork or even your hands to pull the pork into small shreds and pieces. Discard any fat and the bone – the pork should be as lean as possible. Depending on the fat content, in the end you might have more pork than you need for the recipe. If you have enough, you can make a double batch or freeze the remaining pork and save for quesadillas, etc.

Strain cooked onions from the crockpot and set aside for the enchilada sauce.

The next two sauce recipes are quickies.

Chipotle Enchilada Sauce

1 15 or 16 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup v8 or tomato juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Ancho chili powder (use traditional chili powder for more of a kick)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup reserved onions from pulled pork (just onions, not liquid)
1 tbsp adobo sauce (from canned chipotles)
1 whole chipotle (add 2 or 3 if you like a little more spice)

Most enchilada sauces start with softening some onions in a saute pan. Since I already had some seriously flavorful onions, I figured I’d take a different approach. This no-cook enchilada sauce knocked my socks off and is the star of the dish. If smoked paprika is difficult to find, used an additional chipotle or adobo sauce to add more smokiness.

Throw all ingredients into blender and puree for 1 minute. Set aside sauce in bowl, rinse blender and reuse for the cilantro sour cream.

Cilantro Sour Cream

1 tbsp fresh cilantro
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp fresh lime juice
pinch of salt
cracked pepper to taste

Combine ingredients and blend for 30 seconds. Place into ziptop bag and refrigerate until needed.

Chipotle Pulled Pork Enchiladas

3 cups shredded pulled pork
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese mix
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups enchilada sauce
1 cup black beans, drained
12 to 14 6″ soft corn tortillas
1 whole tomato, chopped (for garnish)

Heat oven to 400 degrees and adjust rack to the middle position.

Combine pulled pork, 1 cup enchilada sauce, 2 cups of cheese and black beans in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stack tortillas on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until warm and pliable – maybe 60 seconds. Don’t skip this step or your tortillas will tear. I know from experience. Boo!

Coat 9 x 13 inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Place 1/3 cup of pulled pork mixture down center of each tortilla and then gently roll tortilla tightly around filling. Place into baking dish 5 or 6 down each side – pack those suckers in there. If you don’t have room for the last few enchiladas, stack a few in the middle.

Lightly spray tops of enchiladas with vegetable oil spray.

Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheddar down the center of enchiladas.

Cover with foil and bake until enchiladas are heated all the way through – about 20 minutes.

Remove foil and continue to bake until cheddar browns up, about 10 minutes.

Plate one or two enchiladas at a time. Cut corner of ziptop bag and drizzle each enchilada with cilantro lime sour cream. Garnish with fresh tomato and a little cilantro. Enjoy!

Hurry up and take the picture already, so I can eat!

Lillie’s big bite!

Leftovers are portioned and go right into tupperware containers. Anything we arent going to eat in 48 hours goes into the freezer.


Sadie’s First Cake – Devils Food with Peanut Butter Cup Buttercream Frosting
April 20, 2009, 11:21 pm
Filed under: chocolate, devil's food cake, peanut butter, picklesandcake, sadie, sauter

It takes me way too long to get a finished recipe up on picklesandcake so I’m changing my approach. I’ll post each food adventure twice – first with a few pictures and a brief description and then once again with a complete recipe and more detail.

Sadie and I made our first cake together and we had a blast. The buttercream frosting came out great – I melted 4 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups into the dark chocolate.