The peanut butter mayo sandwich didn’t divide my family

The PBM fit for the King

I grew up with Skippy peanut butter and PB&J sandwiches. I remember watching The NeverEnding Story, and noting the times that Bastian huddled under a dusty blanket munching on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As he pleaded to save Fantasia and the rainstorm thundered outside, he made his way through that comforting sandwich bite by bite. He seemed to have an endless supply of it while locked away in the school’s attic.

I’ve always enjoyed peanut butter and the various iterations of nut butter, including almond, cashew and even walnut butter. But nut butters have become the anathema of school lunches. The dangers of peanut allergies and sensitivities have gotten so much attention over the years. As a responsible parent, I understand and appreciate the safeguards we have in place to protect children who have life-threatening allergies.

At home, we enjoy the occasional PB&J sandwich on the weekends. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and comes packed with macronutrients. I’ll happily spread peanut butter on a slice of toast.

PBM: A Southern Comfort

One thing I had never tried was a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich. After reading about it in the Huffington Post article Peanut Butter And Mayo: The Sandwich That May Divide Us All, of course I was intrigued. I’ve always been interested in the time of the Great Depression (1929-1939), as it was both a devastating period and one of sea-change. The decadent roaring twenties led into a melancholic decade filled with jazz, blues, gospel and swing. One of the Southern comfort foods to come out of the Great Depression was the PBM sandwich. When food was scarce, folks could improvise with the less perishable white bread, peanut butter and mayonnaise. The combination was protein and calorie dense. The Huffington Post article referenced an older article from Garden & Gun, which provides a satisfying narrative of what it must have been like to have PBM as a saving grace, as well as a bit of childhood nostalgia for those who grew up eating it.

We all know that Elvis, the King himself, enjoyed a good peanut butter and banana sandwich. He may have even had a craving for PBM. Remembering my 18-hour road trip to Graceland years back, I knew I had to try it to satisfy my curiosity.

The experimental lunch

My daughter presided over the sandwich-making exercise, squealing with delight as she would be getting her toddler hands into the creative process. We went with GF white bread for the grown-ups, and soft brioche rolls for the kiddos. I grabbed a jar of Skippy’s for the grown-ups and Adam’s peanut butter (no additives) for the kids.

Simple ingredient list:

– Peanut butter
– Mayonnaise
– Ripe Banana
– White sandwich bread (and brioche rolls for the kids)

Ingredients
Simple ingredient list: peanut butter, mayo, a banana, and bread

Unlike some of the photos you may have seen, I used mayonnaise rather sparingly. The mayo could be overpowering, and I wanted to avoid pushing sourness into the peanut butter combo. I added sliced bananas. We had the natural sweetness of the ripe bananas, the tang of mayo, and the creaminess of peanut butter.

PBM sandwich
PBM in progress

The hubs and son were worthy participants. They both examined the lunch in trepidation, and then with a little encouragement, took the plunge. My normally picky son finished his sandwich with surprising efficiency and exclaimed “I like it.” The hubs commented that the mayonnaise combination had made the peanut butter creamier in consistency and taste. The sourness all but went away with the inclusion of the banana slices. Overall, my son gave a hiked thumbs up.

Lunch eating
Enjoying the PBM sandwich

The Verdict

The PBM was tasty enough, but didn’t rival my childhood PB&J. The experimental lunch satisfied my curiosity, and I understood why it had become a beloved staple during a time when food was scarce.

On a cold, rainy day, I am still in the camp of eating a PB&J, huddled under a blanket while watching Bastian save Fantasia for the umpteenth time.

 

Afternoon Tea with a toddler. Think twice

Try not to sweat the small stuff

I love creating memorable experiences for my kids and finding special occasions to bring us closer together. Whether that’s a weekend adventure, a trip to a museum, or creative projects at home. With two young kids, I almost always feel exhausted at the end of any project or endeavor. My son is also at an age where he is over-the-top inquisitive. Parents, you know what I’m talking about.

My son, on the subject of Margherita pizza

Why is the pizza called Margherita? What are these green things? Do I have to eat them? What’s basil? Does basil grow in the ground or on trees? Did God make them? Does God eat basil? Can we get a pizza without basil? Actually, I just want pizza with no sauce, no cheese, no basil, and no tomatoes.

Me: No, because it’s no longer a pizza.

Fast forward: The basil and the tomato slices (on his side of the pizza) have been surgically removed.

Half and half
You can tell which side is his side of the pizza.

I love that my son is curious. He has an existentialist mindset, questioning absolutely everything and defining his own sense of the world. Something we should always encourage as parents…to question things.

My daughter, when it comes to tea time

My youngest is a toddler with a bold personality. She can be a hurricane force of nature, and I can see the machinations behind her cherubic mien. In many ways, she and I are most alike. My mom says she is a mirror copy of what I was like at that age. Personality to boot. Embracing her English side, my daughter loves playing make-believe with tea sets and sipping from tiny cups.

Make-believe tea time
Playtime with tea and cakes

My son was an easy toddler in comparison. He has a breezy, sunny personality and in my eyes, a total charmer. My daughter is far more intense in comparison, a roller coaster of fun and ebullience.

Afternoon tea with fine china

I had made an appointment to take my parents and the kids out for afternoon tea. It would be a first-time treat for my daughter and son. I thought “how cute” if I could dress up my girl in a frilly outfit and adorn her hair with a fascinator hat from her Auntie D. She was so good with her toy tea set. Surely this was an excellent idea.

Reality: Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The English Rose Team Room in San Francisco’s East Bay is a gorgeous place with fine bone china and tables covered in pretty tablecloth. Every inch of the place is covered in floral patterns. Very English I thought. But as soon as I walked in, I had a feeling of dread. Everything was in close quarters and the fine china looked incredibly delicate as I saw my toddler stomping her little feet.

Beads of sweat formed on my brow and on my upper lip. As we sat in chairs with little seat cushions, the server appeared and patiently walked us through the tea service.

Tea service
Server was warm and friendly

Delicate teapots in the shape of chimneyed houses, cups with delicate handles, clattering saucers, gilded plates, and a 3-tier tray of finger foods appeared. Every inch of the table was covered with dangerously breakable items. Did I want hibiscus tea or mint tea? Cucumber sandwich or egg sandwich? Scone with clotted cream and jam, or carrot cake? Sugar cookie or apple pie? Everything was sumptuous, but I was too busy hovering around my little girl to have much of an appetite. Making sure she didn’t touch this or that, or worse actually drink anything from a tea cup.

I looked over at my son. He was enjoying himself and was quite happy with his special meal and apple juice in a tea cup. Bonus, he found a tiny dish of M&Ms next to his flower shaped PB&J sandwich. Talk about finger food!

Afternoon tea with the family
Happy with his kid-friendly meal

My son was a perfect little gentleman and made his momma proud. My daughter, on the other hand, was building herself into a quite a state. Of course she wanted to interact with the fine ladies sitting at adjacent tables. An elderly pair were having a polite conversation to our right, while the table to our left had the most well-behaved pair of young sisters, bows and all. This was not going to be my day.

My daughter bellowed that she wanted to get down from her chair. Nana and I promptly escorted my mini-me outside where they had pretty tables and tea sets displayed in a garden party setting. Phew, disaster averted. We had escaped outside.

Garden party setting
My girl running around in the garden party setting

Pretty soon a stuffed bunny with long floppy ears caught my daughter’s eye. She managed to decapitate it with one quick swoop of her energetic arms. The bunny’s head was fortunately affixed to a wooden stick, so I was able to easily re-attach the head to its floating body.  Another potential crisis averted.

So much for finding respite outdoors, the garden party setting was rife with adorable breakables. With defeated looks, we marched right back inside.

Back inside for tea
With nana by her side, she dips her pirouette smack dab in a frosted cupcake

We finally got my little one to take a few bites of her meal. She managed to dip her pirouette straight into the frosting of a pink cupcake, and made a little mess of things. Bits of her beautiful floral PB&J sandwich ended up on her lap, and she slingshot launched the fascinator hat, nearly hitting me in the face. Her idea of sitting in a chair was to stand, so she was at eye-level with all of us. Did she think she was the Queen of England?

Our afternoon tea outing turned to be an abbreviated visit, and we left with a generous doggie bag filled with all the sumptuous food we had not been able to enjoy.

We’ll come back in a couple years

Fine time
Afternoon tea in the future

In summary, I loved the ‘idea’ of experiencing afternoon tea with the kids. My son happily nibbled on all the finger foods and loved the whimsy of the tea settings. It was too much to expect my toddler daughter to sit still for even a few minutes. Would I go back? Absolutely! But I’ll wait a while until my daughter is a bit older. At the moment, we’re better off taking her to the local pumpkin patch.

Healthy Chocolatey Banana Smoothie

Kid tested, dad approved

Hail to the super food drink that’s deliciously smooth, and a healthy way to start the morning. It’s also a better alternative to a rich cake or sundae. My hubs loves his smoothies and the kids love them too. Smoothies are simple to make and require only a handful of ingredients. The recipe below can make 2.5 to 3 large drinks. For little tykes, you can divvy up and pour into smaller cups.

Smoothie History

A smoothie is basically that cold frothy beverage made from pureed fruit (sometimes veg) and combined with ice, milk, or juice. You’ll often find nut butters incorporated into chocolate smoothies. A smoothie is a healthier cousin to milkshakes.

Smoothies go back to the turbulent 1930’s when health food stores started making and selling them. All thanks to the invention of the electric blender.  The term “smoothie” found its way in recipes during this decade. By the late ’60s, they were more widely distributed via ice cream vendors and health food stores. Smoothie bars came about in the ’70s.

Smoothies are ubiquitous now. Walk into any grocery store, coffee shop, Starbucks, chain restaurant, and gym, and you can order one up. They come bottled up, or made to order.  Some smoothies contain a scary amount of calories, packing 600-1000 calories in a single serving!

When possible, make it at home. It takes you <5 minutes.

Chocolatey Banana Smoothie Recipe

The ingredients are simple. The only appliance you need is an electric blender. We like the Ninja blender.

Assemble your ingredients
Get your ingredients together. Almond milk, organic cacao powder, bananas, raw honey, almond butter, and monk fruit (powdered form).

Assembling ingredients
Gather all your smoothie ingredients

Toss into the blender
Place sliced bananas, ice cubes, cacao powder, unsweetened almond milk, almond butter, monk fruit powder, and raw honey.

Ingredients go into the blender
Toss all your ingredients into the blender container

Blend for up to 2 minutes
After securely placing the lid, blend for up to 2 minutes. Everything should be well combined.

Blend your smooth
Ready, set, blend!

Serve it up with love
Smoothies look great in a tall glass, or a cool stainless steel cup. Add a small detail like a colorful paper straw when you serve it up to loved ones.

Chocolate smoothie
Yummy smoothie that’s good on the tummy

Ingredients

– 2 bananas
– 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
– 3 tbsp of almond butter
– 2 tbsp of cacao powder
– 1 tbsp of raw honey
– 1/2 tsp of monk fruit
– 1 1/2 cup of ice cubes

Optional chocolate spice version, include:
– 1 inch fresh ginger (sliced)
– 1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Optional chocolate mint version, include:
– fresh mint leaves (small bunch)

Monk fruit usage advice (if you’re a newb)
As a word of caution, don’t overdo the monk fruit sweetener. A little goes a long way. It’s extracted from a small melon native to China and Thailand, and has been used for centuries in traditional Eastern medicine. You can buy monk fruit in dried and powdered forms.

Enjoy for breakfast, post work-out, or dessert
Have a smoothie without the sugar crash! It’s a favorite in our home, and the hubs is the master smoothie maker. Kid tested, dad approved!

Yummy smoothie
Kid tested! Dad approved

Gluten Free Crêpe Recipe – Confetti Fruit + Mortadella & Cheese

Crêpes for all [wheat & dairy sensitivity]

I have a fondness for breakfast and brunch foods. In fact, I would say brunch is hands-down my favorite repast. On the weekends, the mid-morning meal represents the quality time I get to spend with people I love. Coffee that I can sip in comfort, and a meal that befits my more leisurely weekend tempo.

The hubs loves sweet and savory meals of french toast, pancakes, waffles and crepes. The challenge is that with a gluten sensitivity, we have to be more creative with options that taste almost or as good as the wheat version.

I want to share a simple crepe recipe that you can enjoy with your partner, your rambunctious family, or special date. If they have a gluten or dairy sensitivity, no problem!

Keep reading and you’ll see easy-peasy recipes for mortadella & cheese crepes and confetti fruit crepes. Fun fact, funfetti was trademarked by Pillsbury, so hence the references here to confetti and the use of rainbow sprinkles to achieve the effect.

A little crêpe history mon ami

The delicate, thin pancake is typically made of wheat flour. It’s French in origin and is a Latin derivative of the term crispa, which translates to ‘curled’. The history of crepes date back to the thirteenth century in Brittany, a region west of France. Crepes were made famous in Brittany and eventually became a national dish of France.  These delicate pancakes are most often filled with fruit fillings with sweet syrup, fresh fruit, and even a sweet lemon filling.

Crepes today can be found in much of the Western world. It’s popularity is seen in US, Canada, Belgium, and throughout Europe. Crepes are often eaten for breakfast, dessert, and the savory versions are ideal for lunch, snack or even dinner. Depending on the preparation, you could theoretically enjoy it breakfast, lunch and dinner. Popular savory versions include fillings of ham, cheese, and eggs with various types of veggies, i.e. mushrooms and spinach.

From time to time, you’ll see crêperies that specialize in an assortment of sweet and savory crepes. It’s also a popular item on some restaurant menus, but it’s easy to make at home. You don’t need any special equipment to make crepes in your own kitchen. Just grab that skillet, and let’s get started.

Basic Gluten Free Crepe Recipe

The first thing you want to do is to make the crepes themselves. You’ll need to gather up your ingredients. Dry ingredients of gluten-free flour and a pinch of salt. Wet ingredients of eggs, almond milk and vegan butter (for those with dairy sensitivities).  See the ingredients list below.

For gluten-free flour, I would recommend Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour, or King Arthur’s all-purpose flour. Both are high quality GF flours. The Bob’s Red Mill flour I use is made from a blend of garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, whole grain white sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and fava bean flour.  If you’re curious, the King Arthur all-purpose flour is a blend made from rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and whole grain brown rice flour.

Gather ingredients
Ingredients of GF flour, eggs, butter and almond milk

Blend flour and a few pinches of sea salt
Quickly blend the GF flour with a few pinches of sea salt or kosher salt.

Gluten free flour
Blend GF flour and a few pinches of salt

Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl
In a separate bowl, blend all your wet ingredients first. Your eggs, almond milk and melted butter (cooled to room temperature) should be whisked together until its well combined.

Then add your blended flour in with the wet ingredients, whisk until its well combined. Then set your batter aside

Combine the ingredients
Whisk and combine all the ingredients

Heat up 9-inch skillet to make crepes
Use extra virgin olive oil spray oil to lightly grease the Skillet, then heat it up to a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, then ladle in the batter (~5 tablespoons) until the bottom of the pan is completely covered. You’ll want to tilt the pan around so the batter evenly spreads. Give it a minute to a minute-and-a-half and then carefully flip over with a large spatula. The other side will need half the time.

Stack up the cooked crepes on a platter
You’ll be able to make one crepe at a time, and the time goes by pretty fast. Stack up the crepes on a large plate or platter.

Basic Crepe Ingredients (makes ~12 servings)

– 1 3/4 cup of gluten-free flour
– Few pinches of sea salt
– 3 large brown eggs
– 2 tablespoons of vegan (or regular) butter
– 2 cups of Almond milk
– extra virgin olive oil spray

Mortadella & Cheese Crepes

What I do is split the 12 crepes and make half savory crepes, and half sweet crepes. The first batch of 6 crepes, I start with the savory filled crepe of mortadella (Italian bologna) combined with diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and shredded cheese. Mortadella is basically a fancier bologna that has become quite popular. It’s made from finely ground, cured pork and flavored with spices and includes whole peppercorns, myrtle berries and slices of pistachios. It’s certainly not the bologna I grew up with back in the day.

For dairy sensitivity, Daiya mozzarella shreds are fantastic. Otherwise go with a nice blend of mozzarella and cheddar shredded cheese.

Savory ingredients
Savory ingredients

Heat up the skillet and make savory crepes
Make one crepe at a time and fill with a large tablespoon of each type of savory ingredient. Then fold over the crepe to cover the filling, using the large spatula. A minute on each side (carefully flip over the closed crepe).

Serve up the crepes on a platter, and dig in.

Savory crepes served
Savory crepes ready to eat

Savory Filling Ingredients

– 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes
– 3/4 cup of shredded (vegan) cheese
– 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
– 3-4 slices of Mortadella (Italian bologna) or ham. Diced up.
– 1/4 tsp Herbs de provence

Confetti Fruit Crepes

You can then use the remaining crepes to make sweet fruity versions, which the kids (or the kids at heart) will love.

Prep fresh bananas, strawberries and blueberries for the filling
Slice up the bananas and strawberries. Place them in a bowl along with the fresh blueberries. Sprinkle the fruit with cinnamon.

Heat up the skillet to make the fruit-filled crepes
Heat up the skillet at a medium temperature and place a generous tablespoon of each type of sliced fruit. Add more to your liking, and then fold over the crepe. Heat both sides of the folded crepe for about a minute.

Place the finished crepe on a serving plate and get ready to adorn with the funfetti part.

Melt dark chocolate down in a bowl
In a microwave safe bowl, you can melt down 70-80% dark chocolate (or bittersweet baking chocolate chips). Microwave on high for 1 minute when you’re actually ready to use the chocolate. Stir the chocolate with a spoon before you drizzle over each of the folded crepes. You can do zig-zags of melted chocolate over the folded crepe.

Top off the fruit-filled crepes with rainbow sprinkles
On each crepe, drizzle the melted dark chocolate using a table spoon. Then optionally add non-dairy (or regular) whip cream. You can add sprinkles at the top and then serve it up on a dish.

Confetti Fruit Filling Ingredients

– 1-2 large bananas (sliced)
– 1/2 cup of strawberries (stems removed, sliced)
– 1/2 cup of blueberries
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/4 cup of dark chocolate (70% cacao+) melted down
– Rainbow sprinkles (confetti effect)
– Non-dairy whip cream (optional)

Funfetti Crepe
Crêpes with a funfetti soul

Enjoy a fun new breakfast tradition. For a healthier sweet crepe version, you can tweak and adjust the toppings.  Enjoy and bon appétit!

Instant Pot sous vide egg bites (breakfast with love)

Healthy-ish sous vide eggfast

When I consider healthy alternatives to regular egg dishes, I think of poaching and boiling eggs. Sous vide opens up more options. This recipe makes 7 servings, perfect for a weekend brunch. You can even save and reheat the next day.

What is sous vide?

Sous vide has become popularized in the culinary world. A French term, it literally translates to “under vacuum”, and it applies to a method of cooking in which food is sealed in an airtight plastic pouch or a glass jar, and cooked in a bath of hot water or steam environment for a long cooking time (i.e. 1 to 7 hours+). The temperature is regulated during the entire duration of the cooking process. 

[Optional] appliances that make it easy-peasy

You can find best-selling appliances online like the ChefSteps Joule (list price: $199) or the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker (list price: $149). These nifty gadgets create the right temperature control by heating up the water in a pot. You can monitor the process through an app on your smartphone. The art of sous vide means there is absolutely zero contact with flames or smoke. What’s great about this French method of cooking is that you forego the need for unnecessary oils and butter. 

But, all you need is an Instant Pot

The beauty of the Instant Pot Egg Bites is that you enjoy the sous vide execution without other appliances. I used the 6 Qt Instant Pot. It’s very simple to make, and you can add your own creative flare.

In my case, I used heart-shaped silicone egg bite molds, which you can buy on Amazon. An alternative heart version can be found here. I also have a set of adorable food punch-out cutters, which I use to dress up kid lunches, and weekend brunch. 🙂

Heart-shaped (IP) recipe – made with LOVE

So, let’s get started with making the recipe. Nothing says I love you like a beautiful heart-shaped breakfast. The family and kids love it. You can accompany your eggfast with an expresso, English Breakfast tea, or a bubbly mimosa.

Get the Instant Pot ready
Pour (1) cup of water into the bottom of the pot, and place a metal (or silicone) trivet on the bottom (as you don’t want the egg mold sitting in the water).

Prep strawberries and punch out hearts
Take a carton full of ripe strawberries. Rinse them, remove the stems and then halve the strawberries. Then use the heart-shaped fruit cutter and punch out hearts. Set it aside.

Prep the egg dish ingredients
You’ll need five large brown eggs and a large mixing bowl. Prep your diced ham and/or pre-cooked breakfast sausage, diced tomatoes, and shredded cheese. You can sprinkle some wonderful Herbs de Provence in keeping with the French origin of sous vide.

I used diced rosemary ham and a turkey sausage patty. If you’re vegetarian, you can sub with vegan breakfast sausage or do without it. Same goes for cheese if you’re lactose sensitive, opt for a non-dairy version like Daiya mozzarella style shreds.

You’ll also want to add 1/4 cup of milk. I used almond milk, but you can use a milk of your choice.

In the mixing bowl, blend or stir all the ingredients together (eggs, cheese, ham, sausage, tomatoes, milk, and herbs). If using a blender, you can pulse for about half a minute.

Egg mixture
Blend all the ingredients in the egg mixture

Pour the egg mixture into the molds
You can lightly grease the molds with olive oil spray. There are seven reservoirs, so pour the egg mixture into each all the way to the top. The carefully place the mold tray onto the trivet resting in the Instant Pot. You’ll want to keep your hands steady for this part.

Egg mixture in egg molds
Pour egg mixture into the molds

Pressure cook on high for 8 minutes
Close the top of the Instant Pot lid and turn dial to sealing position. Turn on the manual setting at high pressure for 8 minutes. You can let the steam release naturally.

Voilà! Your egg bites are perfectly cooked.

IMG_6153

For presentation purposes, I take a plate and cover it with paper towels and carefully flip the egg bites out of the molds. The paper towels removes the excess moisture.

Toast some bread
Eggs and toast go well together. You can toast some bread and lay it out on a toasting rack. Your company can butter and jam their toast to their liking.

Heart-shaped presentation
For presentation, use a nice wooden board and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper. Arrange the egg bites on the board with some gaps, so you can add the heart-shaped strawberries.

Breakfast with love
Breakfast with L-O-V-E


Ingredients

– 5 large brown eggs
– 1/4 cup almond milk
– 1/3 cup diced tomatoes
– 1/4 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella and cheddar)
– 2 slices of ham or turkey (diced)
– 1 savory breakfast sausage patty (diced)
– 1/2 tsp herbs de provence

– Olive oil spray (grease the mold tray)
– 1 cup water

– 1 carton of ripe strawberries

– Several slices of toast

Things used
– Instant Pot pressure cooker
– Trivet (goes inside Instant Pot)
– Silicone egg mold tray
– Fruit/veggie shape cutter (heart)

Hope you enjoy the sous vide eggs. Lots of love went into this dish. 😉