Pear Pancake

red pears

 

Pancakes seem like such a quick, easy meal. And they are, except for the mess. All those little batter drips that get cooked onto the stove top..ggrr.

and waiting for pancakes to cook – it’s like watching paint dry!

I’d rather just pour the whole thing into one big pan and cook it.

Like I did here.

No drips, no mess. And with the addition of sautéed pears and walnuts, this is looking  a smidge healthier than plain old pancakes.

red pear pancake

pear walnut pancake

pear walnut pancake

 

(recipe to follow)

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Homemade Freeze Pops

homemade freeze pops

Let’s face it, most food that comes in tubes are not healthy.

*But it’s a fact that kids love to eat frozen food from a tube.

(*indicates that it is not really a fact and more of an observation)

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Luckily, there is an alternative to those sugar laced freezable yogurt tubes…

You can make your own and freeze them in small ziplock bags and your kids won’t even notice because they are just so happy to be eating sans silverware.

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Homemade Freezer Pops

This being more of a technique than a recipe, the flavor possibilities are endless and they are super fast and easy to make.

Supplies:

Blender

Snack sized ziplock bags

baking sheet

tape

Ingredients for natural yogurt pops

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup raspberries (mangoes, strawberries, pineapple or peaches can be substituted)

1/2 cup orange juice or pineapple juice

2 frozen bananas

1 Tablespoon maple syrup ( or more to taste)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Puree all ingredients in a blender and pour about 1/3 cup into each ziplock bag. Gently press the air out of the bag and seal. Fold the sealed edge over and secure with a piece of tape. lay flat on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bags and freeze for 3-4 hours. When ready to eat, snip one end of the bag.

a juice fast for foodies

A juice fast.

It seems like a good idea.

Even though I don’t  like juice.

So it started out like this…

smoothie

A thick frosty smoothie with frozen mangoes, berries and a handful of kale for good measure.

Always keep an eye out for jammy clad smoothie snatchers who like to nibble on frozen fruit…

smoothie snatcher

Later, mid day calls out for an icy cold coffee…

iced coffee

With a teeny tiny swirl of vanilla whipped cream…

iced coffee

Then a cold beer while waiting for the sun to set…

beer pour

And there you have it.

A juice fast for people who don’t like juice.

loaded veggie calzone

veggie calzone (3 of 1)

If I was going to write sarcastic e-cards on Facebook, here are some examples of what they would say:

  • I love when I can see the smile lines on my cheeks even when I am not smiling. Said no one ever.
  • I love when my child has a diaper blow out in the middle of the grocery store and a substantial amount of poop ends up on my sleeve. Said no one ever.
  • I love when I order a veggie calzone from a pizza shop and there are only faint signs of vegetable existence buried in a mound of cheese and dough. Said no one ever.

(Ok, so they need some work. Sarcasm is not my strong suit)

veggie calzone (1 of 1)

I think pizza shops put veggie calzones on the menu, but they don’t ever expect anyone to order it because if you’re ordering from a pizza shop, you are probably not really concerned with your vegetable intake in that particular meal. Or maybe they consider the tomato sauce to be a vegetable?  Either way, I am concerned with my vegetable intake, and I want veggies in my calzone. But I ‘m not gonna make a fuss about it. I’m just going to make my own.

veggie calzone

And here it is… it’s a medley of unpretentious and fragrant vegetables like marinated artichokes, garlicky sautéed spinach and meaty mushrooms. All finished with a generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper and tomato sauce.

Loaded Veggie Calzone

1 pound of fresh pizza dough

Olive oil

1 bag of baby spinach

1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms

1 cup diced peppers

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup chopped marinated artichokes

Tomato sauce for dipping

1 cup shredded mozzarella, Parmesan or provolone

1 egg, beaten

Bring the dough to room temperature and set out on a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll the dough out into a flat disc and place on a greased baking sheet.

Prepare the veggies:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute and add the peppers. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spinach on top of the veggies and gently wilt.

Fill one side of the calzone dough with the sautéed veggies and fold over. Using a fork, press down on the edges to seal the dough pocket. Poke a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape, and using a pastry brush; brush the top with the egg wash.

You will probably have some extra veggies that didn’t fit into the calzones. But this is good, because you can eat them alongside your calzone. Honestly, why don’t pizza shops do that?

clementine vinaigrette and upcycling the crates

clementine vinagrette 3 (1 of 1)

Clementine peeling is an Olympic sport in my house. I don’t like to brag, but I can peel 10, maybe 12 clementines in 4 minutes flat. And the kids eat them just as fast as I can peel them, leaving me lucky if I manage to nab a few slices for myself. So I stashed a few away to make this sweet-savory clementine vinaigrette. It is light and clean and can dress a simple harvest salad or grace the top of a grilled fish fillet.

clementine vinagrette 2 (1 of 1)

 

If you are an avid clementine consumer, I’m sure you have a secret stash of clementine crates piling up in a closet somewhere. I painted mine with a distresses style and organized all my doo-dads throughout the house. Here’s a painting kit, complete with a glass water jar, smock, paints, and brushes.

clementine crate 2 (1 of 1)

clementine crate (1 of 1)

Clementine Vinaigrette

2 clementines, peeled

2 tsp. finely diced shallot

1 tsp. honey or simple syrup

1 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice the clementines in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in the diced shallots and honey. Slowly stream in the olive oil and continue whisking. Salt and pepper to taste.

the prettiest pureed vegetable soup

winter soup (1 of 1)

I just know you have a collection of tubers lying around in your pantry, right? A random rutabaga or a bunch of turnips that you bought just because they were the most perfect shade of purple.

You do buy produce because it’s pretty, right?

 

rosemary2 (1 of 1)

If you don’t buy a parsnip for its killer good looks, then it must be because of those tiny little produce description tags… Oh, wow these parsnips are sweet and nutty!?

Sweet and Nutty… like a snickers?!  I’ll take it!

root vegetable soup (1 of 1)

Then you get them home and wonder what in the world you are going to do with these sweet and nutty vegetables.

Here’s what to do.

Make this soup. It has an enchanting arrangement of complex flavor profiles and finishes off with a few kicks of cayenne. Many other soups of this type finish with cream, but there is enough happening here that you won’t even miss it.

Winter Root Soup

Makes about 8-10 servings

The great thing about this soup is that it is completely adaptable to whatever kind of root vegetables you have on hand.

Ingredients

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup onions, chopped

1 cup carrots, diced

4 cups celery root, diced (or 1 head of diced celery)

1 ½ cups turnips, diced

1 ½ cups parsnips, diced

1 cup rutabaga, diced

1 cup potatoes, diced

1 cup white wine

3 quarts vegetable or chicken stock

1 Tablespoon Rosemary

3 bay leaves

Cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

optional- a few sliced of stale Italian bread

Directions

Heat 4 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot and add onions. Cook until lightly browned. Add the diced root vegetables. Cook several minutes, until softened. Add the white wine and cook down until the liquid is reduced by half. Add stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and add a few sliced of stale bread to thicken, if needed. Season with salt, pepper, rosemary and cayenne pepper.

Puree until smooth.

*If you are using celery, add the bread. If you are using celery root, you may not need to add the bread.

How to Grow Sprouts at Home

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-sprout-

  1. To begin to grow; shoot forth, as a plant from a seed
  2. To develop and grow

I can’t think of anything better to do on the first day of a new year than to grow sprouts!!

Sprouts have a unique crunchy bite and crisp grassy flavor that blends effortlessly on this Veggie Bagel layered with  red peppers, tomatoes and rich avocado slices and hummus.

Sprouting Seeds at Home:

Start with about 1/8 cup of alfalfa or red clover seeds …

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A mason jar with metal rings and cheese cloth or fine wire mesh…

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Fill the jar with water at least ¾ full and soak the seeds overnight for at least 4 hours.

Turn the jar over to drain out the water. Rinse and drain again. This step is perfect for little ones who love to dump water.

Water the seeds everyday for 4 days.

jar

You will begin to see little white shoots…

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The best part about growing sprouts is when you wake up on the third morning and they have a tiny green bud.

green sprouts (2)

They need at least one more day to fully develop and shed their brown husks.

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Once the sprouts are ready, rinse them thoroughly to remove the brown husks.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

Boardwalk Fries with Cheesy Spinach Sauce

boardwalk fries with cheese sauce

This is nostalgia served with a swirl of spinach. Boardwalk fries are nothing short of a sharable paper cup of comfort.  Imagine your sand sprinkled toes propped up on a bench, watching all the colorful chaos scurry by as you sit back and savor a salty serving of crispy French fries.

boardwalk fries

I’ll take the beach frizzed hair; crispy sun burned shoulders and splintered toes to be back on the Boardwalk for a night, to feel the goose bump inducing evening ocean breeze and share a bucket of hot fries with good friends.

boardwalk fries with cheese sauce

Only Mother Nature can bring us the ocean breeze, but I bring along a lighter, brighter version of this Boardwalk staple. These fries are not actually fried at all, but they do have a crispy oven baked exterior, and when drizzled with this sharp homemade cheddar cheese sauce and laced with fresh spinach, they are transformed into a wholesome savory snack, vegetarian lunch or versatile dinner side dish.

homemade french fries with homemade cheese sauce

Boardwalk Fries with Homemade Cheese Sauce and Spinach

I can see these being served as a non-traditional appetizer for a cozy casual New Year’s get together.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

4 baking potatoes, (skin on) washed and scrubbed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.5 cups milk

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 tsp mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

1.5 – 2 cups loosely packed spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425.

Slice potatoes into long thin strips. Place in a colander and rinse with very cold water. Lay potatoes out onto a towel and pat dry. (*The cold water rinse helps maintain that crispy skin and soft potato center*

Spread the potatoes out onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat all the fries and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

Warm the milk in the microwave, just to take the chill off. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Whisk the mixture and cook over medium until it turns a medium –dark brown color. Add the warmed milk, a little at a time, and continue whisking until it starts to thicken and look saucy. Whisk in the mustard.

Remove from the heat and add the shredded cheese. The cheese will gradually melt. When cheese in melted, and the potatoes are ready to serve, warm the cheese sauce up slightly and drop in the spinach. Stir gently, until the spinach wilts into the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Any leftover cheddar sauce can be served over rice, broccoli or other veggies.

Spiked Cranberry Citrus Slush

Who says cranberry sauce has to be that goopy, jelly like condiment plopped out onto the plate? I know, this is the time of year that people want the same dishes they have eaten every Thanksgiving for the past 30 years. And to go and change something, even something as a simple as the cranberry condiment could disrupt the whole harmony of the holiday. Because that’s what make the holidays so great.  The recipes made by grandmothers and great aunts who are long gone, and these edible memories are the only thing we have left to keep us connected to our past.

And then people like me go and try to change something as crucial as the cranberry sauce. So I would never recommend replacing your traditional cranberry sauce with cranberry slushy, but rather, adding to it. Because not only does this cold, icy texture make a great contrast with warm turkey, but it can also double as a cocktail mix. Just mix equal parts vodka and cranberry slush for a festive cranberry cocktail.

Spiked Cranberry Citrus Slush

Recipe adapted from Betty Groff

1 lb. Cranberries

½ cup water

1 ½ cups sugar

2 cups club soda

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 grapefruits

Vodka (optional)

Wash cranberries and put in a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook until the berries are starting to soften and burst. Using a wood spoon, start mashing the berries against the walls of the pot to help smooth it out. While the berries are hot, stir in the sugar. Allow to cool and add the lime juice, grapefruit juice and soda. Pour into a Quiche or pie plate and freeze for a few hours or until a slushy like- texture and serve in the pie plate.

Optional adult version: float a tablespoon of vodka on top just before serving. It cuts the sweetness a bit.

Use any leftover slushy as a cocktail mix, just mix 2 oz. vodka with 2 oz. cranberry slushy.