Parmesan Crisps with Grains of Paradise

As I pointed out yesterday, the holidays are fast approaching. Along with having an ample supply of muffins and sweets on hand, it is also important to be ready to entertain. Cocktails parties are ubiquitous at this time of year, which is why I always have a stash of Parmesan Crisps at the ready. Easy to whip up at any time of day and tasty to a fault, they are perfect to serve anytime with a glass of wine, slice of salami and great conversation.

Cinnamon-Sugar Caramel Muffins

Cinnamon Sugar Caramel MuffinsWith the holidays fast approaching it is time to brush up on muffin recipes. In my house the holidays mean a revolving door of family and friends, and I always like to have some yummy muffins on hand when people pop in to chat. I already have a few favorite recipes including Aunt Ethel's Blueberry variety, Orange Mini's with Brown Sugar Glaze from The Pioneer Woman, and Allspice Crumb Muffins from Dorie Greenspan. But, I am always looking for new ideas, and was thrilled when my friend Barbara shared her recipe for Cinnamon-Sugar Caramel Muffins.


Babble Nibblers

A quick note with some exciting news, The Naptime Chef™ is now a regular contributor to the awesome website, Babble. You can always visit Babble's food column, Nibblers, to get great ideas and recipes from me, as well as some more exciting treats... to come soon!

Chocolate - Nutella Macaroons for Daring Bakers

Macaroons are a favorite sweet of mine, but I'll admit that I normally buy them at Bouchon Bakery rather than trying to make them myself. The horror stories I've heard of people ending up with runny messes on their baking sheets during their attempts have been enough to deter me so far. However, leave it to The Daring Bakers to charge with making my very own macaroons this month. The October 2009 Daring Baker's challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macaroons from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Chocolate Macaroons
If found that making these during my daughter's naptime last week was a good idea. While we love to do baking projects together, baking macaroons is a delicate process best left to times when you are alone in the kitchen, or have an able sous chef (i.e. someone over the age of 2!) Mixing the batter is quite simple, but it is important to head the advice of the recipe and not overbeat, overwhip or overfold. Macaroons are delicate to eat and their fragility begins the moment you start the batter.

My favorite part about this challenge, of course, we filling them with Nutella. At first I was considering a citrus flavored filling, but then I spotted my jar of Nutella and was instantly hooked on the idea. I'll admit, once everything was assembled it was next to impossible not to devour them all immediately, getting my family to keep their hands off while I photographed was quite difficult. And, don't be fooled by the photograph, it took me many minutes of trimming and molding to get three relatively uniform macaroons. Not all of them look this good, I just happen to make these three beauties and chose them to be the standouts. Just looking at this photo makes me think that they would pretty in a clear bag with a red ribbon to be given as a gift. This is something I'll have to keep in mind for Christmas.

Nutella Macaroons

adapted from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern
2 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 c. almond flour
2 T. granulated sugar

3 t. unsweetened cocoa powder

5 egg whites, at room temperature

1 jar Nutella, for macaroon filling


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Add the cocoa powder and continue to fold into the egg whites. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip. You could also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

8. To fill, swipe the bottom of one half of the macaroon with nutella and sandwich with a second half.


POM Wonderful Mocktail

Last month a fantastic package of POM Wonderful arrived on my doorstep. I was thrilled to receive a case of one of my most favorite beverages. I like pomegranates, of course, but POM holds a special place in my heart. You see, in 2007 I was pregnant and didn't drink any alcohol for nine months. Obviously I didn't miss wine one bit - I was very happy to follow the guidelines for a healthy pregnancy - but still wanted to enjoying a refreshing drink at the end of the day. In order to satisfy my need for a thirst quenching beverage I experimented with many different flavor combinations until I found one that I loved - a non-alcoholic POM mocktail.

Once I discovered this delicious drink I looked forward to it every evening with dinner. It didn't hurt that because of the POM my drink was filled with fantastic healthful antioxidants, always a welcome addition to any pregnancy diet. So, when the box came to me filled with all of POM's latest varieties I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to revisit an old favorite. Obviously it was no trouble making this during my daughter's naptime last week. Since there was no alcohol involved I had zero guilt about enjoying it at 3pm. Happily, even with all the fabulous new flavors, it was just as delicious as I remember. Even though I'm not pregnant now, I still love a good flavorful fizzy drink, and this is what hits the spot for me, and I'm sure you will love it, too.

POM Wonderful Mocktail
1 c. plain sparkling water (I use Poland Spring)
1/3 c. POM Wonderful
1 t. fresh lemon juice
A lemon slice for garnish

1. Add all of the liquids into one glass and stir. Add ice if you'd like it extra cold.
2. Place lemon slice on the glass for garnish, serve.


Carrot Souffle for Kids & Adults

Carrot SouffleMy daughter is a great eater, but feeding her still comes with a few challenges. Although she enjoys most of the food we do, it is only just recently that she's gotten most of her teeth and can handle chewing heavier foods. Before she had molars I often had to mince her food into small pieces so that it wouldn't be a choking hazzard.

One day last winter, watching me break up my daughter's steamed vegetables into itty-bitty pieces, my friend Nicole offered up a recipe for Carrot Souffle. Since carrots definitely fall into the category of hard-to-chew food for small children, this souffle was the perfect solution. It is soft and malleable, well-suited for a toddler's palate, but adult enough that the whole family can enjoy it. Given that my food philosophy is exactly that - we all eat "adult" food and I refuse to be a short order cook - I knew it was right up my alley

The popularity of this dish in my house is evident when I say that I started making this a year ago and am still doing so to this day. When I made it last week I was able to find a big fat bunch of organic carrots at farmers market since it's peak root vegetable season. After that, making the souffle while my daughter napped was a snap. It helped that I recently got a new Cuisinart Mini-Chopper, a gift from the
BlogHer Food conference. As you can see below I didn't actually need one - the antiquated chopper on the right still worked like a champ - but I wasted no time introducing it to my kitchen. It has a bigger work bowl (4 cups!) and is easier to clean - both things any busy home cook can stand by. (Also, don't worry, I merely put the old chopper in storage, I couldn't bear to throw it out in such perfect working condition).

Making this is so easy that the hardest part of the assembly is pressing the chop button on the food processor for a minute or so. Then, I mix the remaining ingredients with the carrots in a big bowl, pour it in the baking pan and pop it in the oven. Over the course of the baking time the souffle puffs up slightly and turns a beautiful burnished orange. When I take it out the edges are slightly pulled away from the sides and the corners lightly browned. My husband and I agree that the souffle tastes like candied carrots, along the same lines as candied sweet potatoes. It is not overly sweet, but the touch of sugar in it makes the carrot flavor pop, along with the delicious addition of cinnamon and nutmeg.

This dish is such a regular staple in our house I can't believe it has taken me this long to write about it. In addition to the adults and toddlers loving it, it is fantastic food for babies or teething toddlers with sore gums. One mother I know even made it for her daughter after she'd had a particularly painful braces tightening! Although we are mostly finished with teething these days, I know this dish will remain in my family menu repertoire for quite a while. It is food that transcends age and rank, appealing to everyone in my household. And that is something every Naptime Chef can stand behind.

Carrot Souffle for Kids & Adults
1 lb. carrots, finely chopped
8 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. whole milk

1 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. vanilla

1 dash of nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.

2. Peel carrots and trim the ends. Finely chop them in a food processor.

3. In a separate bowl add the butter, eggs and milk, stir well. Add in the flour, sugar and spices and mix to combine. Then add the carrots and mix well until everything is incorporated.

4. Pour carrot mixture into a 9x13 pan and bake for 1hr 10 min, or until the edges are browned and pulled away from the side.

Naptime Notes:
Naptime Recipe Props
: This is a great way to serve your family carrots, a wonderful vegetable loaded with important vitamins, in a form that is easy for even the tiniest mouth to consume. I like to play with the spices from times to time and you should too, there are endless variations to the basic souffle.
Naptime Stopwatch: Other than chopping the carrots, this souffle takes about 5 minutes to make, plus baking time. It is well worth the time for such a large dish that will feed the family for a few days.
Naptime Notes
: As noted above, this is a family favorite.


Park Avenue Potluck CELEBRATIONS: A Virtual Celebration

I am not a Park Avenue hostess, but now I know how to entertain like one with Park Avenue Potluck CELEBRATIONS (Rizzoli). Written by The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and edited by award-winning food writer and New York Times contributing columnist, Florence Fabricant, this book is a compilation of sensational recipes, entertaining ideas, seasonal menus, party-planning tips, and personal anecdotes from New York's most celebrated hostesses. Best of all, proceeds from the sale of each book will provide funding for The Society's patient care, research and education programs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Today it is my pleasure to play the role of "virtual" Park Avenue hostess and celebrate the publication of this book with a Naptime Chef dinner party. Talented food writers and bloggers from around the world have joined me to provide a glimpse into it's pages by cooking and photographing a variety of recipes. I encourage you to visit their sites directly (names below are hyperlinked) to read and comment on their wonderful work in support of this important cause.

While I'm always up for hosting a dinner party, there are two special reasons why I am excited to host this particular event. First, in 2007 I was the Project Manager and recipe contributor to the original best-selling cookbook,
Park Avenue Potluck (CELEBRATIONS is the sequel) and, secondly, cancer has affected family and friends in my life so I believe strongly in supporting any cause aimed at fighting the disease. Available on Amazon today, I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself and a friend. Heck, buy a whole bunch to give away as holiday gifts! Either way, each purchase will support the fight against cancer, and give you fantastic recipes and entertaining ideas for the holiday season. Now, time for a wonderful glimpse into the world of Park Avenue Potluck CELEBRATIONS!

Pomegranate Mimosas by Melissa Morris of Melissa C. Morris:
"These delightful Pomegranate Mimosas give champagne a fun, fruity kick. I love the cocktail's ruby color; this festive red makes them the perfect drink to serve at a holiday party. The recipe is simple and easy to make and absolutely delicious to drink - cheers!"

Ebba's Swedish Apple Cider (non-alcoholic) by Stacie of ChowMama
"Whether your holiday parties are late-night, debaucherous affairs or kid- and preggy- friendly gatherings, one big batch of Ebba's Swedish Apple Cider Punch can be served with our without alcohol. Either way, this sophisticated, cozy, and tasty drink gives a warm holiday "buzz" that makes you want to CELEBRATE! And, of course, goes beautifully with cocktail party apps. What more can a hostess wants?!"

Ebba's Swedish Apple Cider (spiked!) by Jennifer of Unplanned Cooking
"Swedish Apple Cider Punch: delightfully tangy, rich and thick, Ebba's Swedish Apple Cider Punch warms up you and your home on a cool autumn night."


Bibb & Avocado Salad by Jennifer of Savor The Thyme
"This is a healthy and refreshing salad. I love all the green colors in it as it seems so hopeful and lively: just the way I feel about Cancer Research."

Cornmeal Batter Cakes by Ellise of Cowgirl Chef
"These Cornmeal Batter Cakes are fabulous! They come together in less than 15 minutes, and are so light and elegant - just perfect for a dinner party. They work well with savory toppings, such as my homemade chorizo and chipotle creme fraiche, or as a dessert or breakfast, with a spoonful of strawberry jam and a bit of whipping cream."

Bibb & Avocado Salad by Linda of One Scoop at a Time
"This salad is a perfect side to any meal or to enjoy on its own with a few crackers and a yogurt dipping sauce. Don't be fooled by its simplicity - it's packed with clean and fresh flavors that will liven up your meal."

Cornmeal Batter Cakes by Megan of A Sweet Spoonful
"This is a wonderful versatile recipe. My family is all out of town, so I actually made these as a small side dish for myself last night. With a bowl of homemade tomato soup, they were the perfect light meal. The corn cakes would also be a lovely accompaniment to smoked salmon or could be made as mini-appetizers with a variety of toppings. I liked them so much that I decided to whip up a batch this morning and serve them for breakfast with berries, butter and honey, and local jam."


Smooth Broccoli Soup by Rebecca of Chow and Chatter
"When The Naptime Chef asked me to join the potluck to help cancer patients, I couldn't say no. As a registered dietition who has often worked with patients going through cancer treatments I know the importance of tasty nutritious and calorie/protein dense food to get them through. This soup is rich in nutrients and calories, and easy to make, good for those days when it is hard to have a big meal it is a great thing to keep in the fridge for a quick meal or snack"

Butternut Squash Soup with Parmesan & Sage by Jen of My Kitchen Addiction
"This smooth and creamy soup is elegant enough for any dinner party, yet easy enough to whip up on a busy weeknight for dinner. In fact, I plan on adding it to my Thanksgiving menu this year! For a bit of a twist, try garnishing with crispy sage leaves fried in olive oil."

Main Course

Bobby's Crispy Chicken Cutlets by Patricia of PVE Design
"My kids devoured these. I prepared a plate, went to get my camera to take a photo and they were "all gone" when I came back! This is the second plate prepared, we loved the lemon juice squeezed on top - De-lish! You know, I am from Kentucky and we love chicken!!

Filet Mignon a la Creme by Shani of Camille Maurice
"It was the perfect combination of richness and simplicity... one of those recipes where the lack of fussiness makes for smoothness from the pan to the first bite."

Bobby's Crispy Chicken Cutlets by Sarah of Supper Starter
"Preparing Bobby's Crisp Chicken Cutlets reminds me of picnics in the park under sprawling shade trees. While the chicken would be perfect straight from the skillet, this Southern Girl prefers hers cold alongside coleslaw and sweet potato chips. Either way, you can't go wrong with these perfectly crunch yet surprisingly juicy chicken strips!"

Filet Mignon a la Creme by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie

"My contribution to the party is an entree, Filet Mignon a la Creme. I was fortunate to get two gorgeous grass-fed filet mignons that prepare with mushroom cream sauce, were wonderfully savory and delicious. We loved the earthy tones and the touch of spiciness of the sauce."

Side Dishes

Warm Mushroom Rolls by Molly of Tastebud Tart
"I added some cayenne to the original recipe. Like any good Southern Girl, I like a kick with my cocktail. I paired the Warm Mushroom Rolls with a nice, buttery Chardonnay. It went well with the earthy mushrooms, and enhanced the buttery rolls."

Green Beans that Cooked All Night by Kate of Savour Fare
These green beans may not look pretty, but they make your house smell divine, and they taste how green beans SHOULD taste."

Warm Mushroom Rolls by Rachel of La Fuji Mama
"These little bite size rolls have a slightly crispy and toasted outside with a rich mushroom filling on the inside. The delicious flavorful filling will make both vegetarians and omnivores happy. The rolls can be made ahead and then reheated in the oven right before your party, leaving you free to get the house ready instead of stressing about making the appetizers!"

Green Beans that Cooked All Night by Cathy of Show Food Chef
"Green Beans are cooked slowly wit caramelized bacon, onions and a tangy sauce in this amazingly simple recipe. I highly recommend this for a no fuss dish with a lot of flavor."


Mary's House Oatmeal Cookies by Dorie of Dorie Greenspan

"Soft, sweet, chewy and almost caramelish, it's easy to see why Mary chose these to be her 'house' cookies. Make them once and they might become your house cookies, too."

Praline Pumpkin Pie by Phoebe & Cara of Big Girls, Small Kitchen
This is the ultimate fall pie - pumpkin on the bottom, pecan on the top. It satisfies the craving from creaminess and spiciness with the pumpkin and for caramel and nuttiness with the pecan praline topping. From our kitchen, albeit small, to yours, Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS."

Mary's House Oatmeal Cookies by Tiffany of The Cookie Network
"These are, hands down, the best Oatmeal Raisin Cookies I've ever had the pleasure of tasting (And I've tasted a lot of them!)."

Praline Pumpkin Pie by Deeba of Passionate About Baking

"I am deeply honoured to be part of such a meaningful project, a cause that supports cancer research. This way my first ever pumpkin pie, everything from scratch, including the pumpkin puree, and was the best pie we've ever had!"