Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pour Some Sugar on Me: Brined, Roasted and Honey-Glazed Chicken

I've been on a let's-brine-everything kick...okay, just meat. What a difference it makes! Come to think of it, I've really only been brining chicken, but for all different preparations: for grilled chicken, chicken nuggets and of course, this lovely, golden, sticky-skinned clucker.

My parents brought us back some lavender-infused honey from a little jaunt they took to a prairie lavender farm. The farmer infuses the honey from his property with the lavender that he farms. It's really, really delicious. I wanted to do something special with the honey and not just slap it on a slice of toast, so I felt my beautiful little birdy would be very happy to be bathed in such a carefully-crafted product.

Some little Pooh Bear delightfully interrupted my photo session with the "hunny pot".

Slightly random side note: I have fond memories of my mom making a whole fryer dance a jig in the kitchen sink just before she broke it down into fry-able pieces. I just thought that was the funniest thing ever and so cute. Hence, my admiration for poultry and finding it irresistibly adorable.

What I love about brining, is that with minimal effort, one can achieve a flavorful and tender roast chicken that rivals that of Costco's cheapy, six dollar, rotisserie chicken, which is pumped full of all sorts of things that I cannot pronounce. (They are nice, however, when you've the cooking inspiration of a hound dog on a hot summer day.)

Lauren's Sticky Chicken

1 3-4lb. whole chicken
6 quarts water
1/2 c. kosher salt
1 c. sugar
2 garlic cloves
2 jalapenos, halved
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
2-3 tbsp. honey (lavender-infused or any kind you like)

Mix water, sugar and salt until dissolved in a large pot - I used my giant stockpot. Crush or slice garlic and add with peppers. Add the chicken and let it refrigerate at least 8 hrs.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from brine. Thoroughly dry off skin with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Stuff cavity with fresh rosemary and thyme and tie up the legs. Place on a roasting rack, breast-side up, and bake for 45 min. Baste with honey. Bake another 20 min. and baste with honey again.You will see how the honey turns the skin the most gorgeous amber color. Full baking time is around 1 1/2 hrs. Internal temp at thigh should be around 175-180 degrees. Let it rest a good ten minutes before carving.
 And that my friends is how you make a delicious, flavorful (through and through) roast chicken. Leftovers can be made into sandwiches, or chicken salad or into a chicken soup. But the best part has to be that crispy, sticky skin.

Love Ya, Foodies. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dork-a-licious: A BFF Reunion

Alright, people. I've been away gallivanting around with the likes of this fabulous person, Steph. Okay, that's not all I've been doing, but the Hubs and I did hang out the other night with her and her husband Adam. What a blast we had from the past...well, us girls anyway. They guys were left to watch football (which they did not complain about) while we cackled like wild chickens as we rooted through piles and piles of notes that Steph had saved from jr. high. Jr. high is where we were connected at the hip.

We found that not only did the notes that we passed to one another carry information, long since removed from our aged brains, but that they were full of drawings, redundant observations, bad spelling and the occassional pep talk, because, after all, jr. high is rough.

It has been 15 years since we last saw each other. I know it's cliche, but we picked right up like time had never passed. It was, from beginning to end, total delight.

Did I mention that she is a PHENOMENAL cook? Did I also mention we were total dorks?

Probably didn't take you long to figure that one out, huh? I'll get to the cooking in just a minute, let me expound for a moment.

We ROCKED the dork. I mean, we embraced our awkward ways, our clumsy ambitions, our fashion snafus and our love for all things drama/creative. We snorted when we giggled, we pretended to cook like Julia Child in my kitchen, we built forts out of mattresses, and we went to an all girls summer camp and tried to run with the big dawgs, but alas, it was futile. We were simply dork-a-licious.

That was my worst haircut...ever. I still cringe at the thought. Steph looked really adorable. She had good bangs.

So here we are now, years and years later, finding we still have so much in common, still a bit dorky but in the cutest of ways. We are slightly more refined and a little bit less awkward...okay, so it's pretty much the same, and I love it.

Back to the dinner, Steph graciously invited us over for dinner. I asked what I could bring, she said some wine and some herbs from my garden. No problem. I made a dash to the liquor store and harvested some fresh parsley from the garden along with a few hot peppers and other tasty bits. I remember being extra careful to avoid the caterpillars for they like to hang out on the parsley.

That evening, as Steph was stirring her duck risotto (sing-songy "awesome!!!"), letting the dog out the back door, sipping wine and carrying on a conversation (which was all quite effortless, for she caressed that risotto like she had done it a million times before, that is, if risotto can be caressed) I was in awe that here we were hanging out, only grown-up now, and it was simply surreal.

I snapped back into reality, when she asked me to chop up some of the parsley I had brought. I carefully plucked each leaf and rinsed it well. I started chopping, all the while imbibing my chardonnay and carrying on, when I realized there were all these little yellow balls on the cutting board. I looked closer and there was a massacre of caterpillar mixed in with the weird yellow balls (which I am guessing were caterpillar eggs?) and the vibrant green of the parsley. I told Steph about the abuse on the cutting board and then another hilarious uproar ensued. Needless to say, I washed the board and started over. Caterpillar-free garnish was now on the menu.
It really was as good as it looked. Scrumptious. I don't use the word "scrumptious" very often, so when I do it's for only the good stuff. The duck was the most perfect pink and the risotto was creamy and studded with bits of duck thigh and proscuitto! It was finished at the end with lemon zest and the fresh parsley.

And then there was this...brace yourselves, raspberry sherbert. You may be thinking, "Um, Lauren, I love raspberry sherbert as much as the next guy, what's all the hullabaloo?"

The most perfect balance of sweet, fruity and tangy creaminess that you can imagine. It was the best ending to a rich, sumptous meal. I went absolutely bonkers over this stuff and even more so after I found out the recipe.

Are you ready? It has only four ingredients...really. AND no ice cream maker required!

Steph's Raspberry Sherbert

1 10 oz. bag of frozen raspberries, thawed and crushed with a fork
scant 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. light sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well and freeze. Serves 4.

In the words of Steph, which are so true and sweet:

"When you are a teen, you write things like BFF, FF, Yours Always….And then 20 years goes by and your written promises are put to the test. Tonight I was lucky that despite more than 15 years of pause of “friend” in BFF, I know that the forever still stands.We may have missed a few romances, heart breaks, weddings, children, several states and other milestones, but the core of who we were, who we still are today will always bond us." 

P.S. Never judge a worm by his bottom. (this p.s. was quoted from one of the notes I sent to Steph. I've got no explanation, people. Steph just said I was "creative". Sounds good to me.)

Well, I leave you with that, dear friends.

Love Ya, Foodies.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Oh, My Peas! Tasty and Entertaining Purple Hull Peas

 Boo greedily hoarding her stash of the peas.

I found something new for my kids to play with. Doesn't cost me much and after they are done playing, we can eat it. That toy is purple hull peas.

Now, don't start calling me a hippie just yet, I'm not sporting patchouli or letting the pit-hairs grow, I'm just saying that I loved the fact that my kids were entertained by these peas for 45 minutes. No T.V., no whining, just a few minor fights over who gets more, which is a given.

I could not pass up these peas at our local farmer's market last week. I could however, used a bit more input from the purveyors of these fine peas.

Me: Wow! These are amazing. I'll take one box. How do you cook these? I've never done it.

Seller: (young guy, wearing an unusually distracting fedora on his head, which was covered in all sorts of buttons with crude sayings) Um...(glances over to older, most-likely grandfather, who mumbles something and looked like he forgot his dentures that morning) I guess, just cook 'em like any other pea.

Me: (suddenly extremely enlightened and constantly resisting the urge to read his stupid hat buttons) Oh. Okay.

Then he sold me some crappy peaches.

So without being more informed on the cooking of these gorgeous peas than I was when I walked into that market I decided the best bet was to add bacon and onions. That's good with just about any vegetable.

So that's what I did.

Tiny with his stash.

They turned out really, really good. I couldn't stop eating them. I even got the kids to eat them one. Well, at least it's a start.

Purple Hull Peas with Bacon and Onion

2 slices bacon, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
(sorta guessing here) 1-1 1/2 cups shelled  purple hull peas
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper

Brown bacon until nearly crispy, add onion and cook until nice and brown. Add peas and water. Cover and let steam until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove cover and let moisture cook off and peas get a little browned. Season to taste.

Love ya, Foodies!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So Easy A Cavegirl Could Do It: Plum Peach Crostata

Me Cavegirl. Me bake crostata. Me no like fussy desserts like this one. Me sounding like Cookie Monster.

Alright, that was pretty stupid.

This crostata, however, is not. It's brilliant! Simple, flaky, buttery, sweet, juicy, tart, fresh and seasonal. All Cookie Monster eats is cardboard, fake cookies.

The cavegirl part of this recipe is the flagrant ignoring of rough pie crust edges, lumpy fruit chunks and a complete disregard for a top crust. A cavegirl would never know to trim edges or daintily cut precision wedges of fruit. Heck, she would most likely use her hairy forearms to roll out the crust and use a shard of wild boar's jaw to hack away at her prehistoric fruit.

But in the age of Martha and Ina, we try just a bit harder to make rustic look chic. (And keep our much shorter and lighter arm hairs out of the crust.)

The fruit is what inspired this rustic pie. If you don't have good fruit, it won't fly. It's fifty percent of the dessert. That's the thing with simple recipes- if your ingredients aren't quality it really shows. So get some good fruit.

It doesn't really matter the type of fruit you choose. I've made this recipe with all berries, just pears, or just peaches. Come to think of it, I've never made it with apples. My guess is that you would have to slice the apples thinly or else they won't get soft in the baking time allotted. But I've have luck with just about every fruit I've tried. You've got a pretty high success rate goin' on here folks. Give it a shot.

This bakes at a very high temperature (450 degrees) and bakes quickly. So much faster than the traditional pie...another reason I love it so. The quicker to bake, the quicker I get to eat it.

So don your best Pebbles (or Bam Bam) attire and get to work on this pie.

Plum Peach Crostata

the recipe for the crust makes enough for two crostatas (I throw one in the freezer so I have it available when a craving hits!)

Adapted from Ina Garten's recipe (best one I've come across)

2 cups A.P. flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks cold, cubed butter
6 tbsp. ice water

For the filling: (my recipe)

3 very ripe and juicy plums, quartered
2 ripe and juicy peaches, cut into sixths
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. flour
couple extra, generous sprinklings of sugar for the top

To prepare the crust, Ina suggests putting in a food processor. I don't really roll like that, but if you do she says to pulse the dry ingredients together, add butter, pulse 12-15 times until it's the size of peas. With the motor running add all the water at once, then pulse until it almost comes into a ball. Take it out, cut into 2 halves and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill one for at least an hour and the other goes into the freezer.

I personally like to do the above by hand. I mix the dry ingredients together and dump in the cold butter (for my method, it's still a bit great against warm hands melting it too fast.). I simply break the butter apart between my fingertips (only) and work it quickly into the dry mixture. Once it's the size of peas, I add the ice water, but in parts. Half and then slowly add the rest. Sometimes I use all of it sometimes I don't. When it comes together easily I gently and quickly knead it together and cut it in half. Wrap and store.


Couldn't be easier. Mix the sliced fruit with the sugar and flour. 

Preheat oven 450 degrees. Line pan with parchment paper.
Roll out your chilled dough into an 11" circle on a lightly floured surface. Place fruit in the center of dough with a 1 1/2 " border. Gently fold the border up over the fruit creating an edge. Generously sprinkle sugar over the top of the fruit and edge of crust.

Bake 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden. Let it cool 5-10 minutes, then using two spatulas transfer it to a wire rack or serving plate.

It's really good served with vanilla ice cream or just simply by itself. So, so good.

 Love Ya, Foodies.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Don't Turn on Your Ovens! Ice Cream Cake to the Rescue!

 I'm pretty sure it's hot everywhere right now, and I'm pretty sure there are tons of us home cooks wishing we could make what we love to make without sweating through our aprons, donning extra coats of deodorant and rockin' headbands just to make it through dinner.

So we don't cook.

We say to our family, "It's sandwiches again tonight, kids." (To which, my kids anyways, start celebrating that I'm not forcing grilled zucchini salad and salmon cakes down their throats.- They just don't like it yet.)

Or we make giant salads or eat bowls of salsa and chips and call it dinner. Growing up, BLT's were the hot weather meal of choice.

So when it comes to baking in the summer, it's really tough. It feels like the oven is burping out copious amounts of hot-air balloon quality air and it's chapping my face! Slight exaggeration, but seriously, I do not enjoying doing loads of dishes in Sahara-like temperatures while dusty balls of camel hair roll past my feet. Okay, yet another slight exaggeration.

My little Tiny just turned two and I wanted something fun and festive for his cake. Cupcakes are overdone and tedious. I wanted something I could slap together and forget about, and preferably NOT use the oven.

 So I made this!

I had made this recipe some years ago, loved it and then forgot about it. It re-emerged like flotsam on the high seas of this brain of mine and I quickly decided this would be the BEST recipe for his birthday party. And it did turn out pretty great. I did, however, forget one little thing...his party was outside in 96 degree heat. All I can say is that we ate it pretty fast and licked our plates clean.
 My favorite part of this cake is the outside ring of quartered ice cream sandwiches! It's such a stunning presentation. It looks complex but couldn't be easier.
 Layered Ice Cream Cake
Adapted from Family Circle Magazine's recipe

  • 15   Oreos ( I used about 5-6 more because I didn't feel the crust was thick enough)
  • 1 tablespoon  milk (I added and extra tbsp for the extra Oreos)
  • 8 to 9   ice cream sandwiches, depending on size
  • 1 pint  mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 1 pint  vanilla frozen yogurt (I used ice cream)
  • 1 pint  strawberry ice cream or frozen yogurt

Coat bottom and side of a 9-inch round springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line side with waxed paper, using spray to help adhere to pan. Trim paper to height of pan.
Finely crush 12 of the cookies (this is where I added the extras) in a food processor. Add milk; pulse just until mixture holds together. Set aside.

Unwrap 4 ice cream sandwiches. Working quickly, cut each in quarters. Stack strips of sandwiches on end, packing them snugly together, around waxed-paper-lined pan. Repeat with remaining sandwiches to form a stand-up edge. Spoon cookie crumbs into center of pan; press firmly over bottom. Freeze 1 hour.

Remove all 3 flavors of ice cream or frozen yogurt from freezer and let soften for 15 minutes at room temperature. Transfer mint ice cream to a small bowl and stir until good but firm spreading consistency. Repeat with vanilla and strawberry. Remove pan from freezer. Spread mint ice cream on bottom, then top with vanilla and strawberry, spreading all layers level. 
I used my off-set spatula to create a pattern on the top of the cake. The original recipe called for Cool Whip on top, but I don't like that stuff so I skipped it. I then broke the extra Oreos in half and stuck them in around the edge for a nice finished look.
To serve, remove side of pan, then waxed paper. Cut into wedges. It works well to use a sharp knife and dip it in hot water before you cut.

P.S. I was able to find all the ice creams without egg (unfortunately they were not "high end" brands like a luscious Hagen Daz or something like that, but I was just happy I didn't have to make the ice cream!!!) so everyone was happy.

Is that a cherub hovering over that cake? Yes, yes it is.

Told ya it was hot.

That pretty much sums it up. 

Its such a great party dessert. I hope this get you out of your hot kitchen and your face into some ice cream!

Love ya, Foodies!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ode to Pregger Jeans

 I had a moment this morning...with my maternity jeans. I am not pregnant, but I put them on and did a dance.

No, really. I did.

I danced in my maternity jeans, with the stretchy panel pulled up to my bosom and shook it like a Polaroid picture. It was organic, spontaneous and stupid. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's to gushing over a pair of pants that I wore for moment in history and who didn't judge my rolls.

Me in 2009, 21 weeks pregnant and workin' the pregger jeans.

Ode to Pregger Jeans

Oh, Pregger Jeans, how I adore you.
How I miss your stretchy front panel
Coddling my once bulbous belly.

How I daydream of the days we spent together.
Growing a baby and ingesting horrific culinary combos.
Raisin bran and chicken curry, grapefruit and Oreos.

Unheard of amounts of peanut butter and protein bars
Did I ingest.
Oh, the indigestion that occurred.

Lonely are the days I don't wear you.
How my shrunken belly misses your kind caress.
It's been an cruel two years of conventional jeans.

You never pinched or prodded like your evil twin Regular Jeans.
No ugly indentations on my stomach like "button dent" or "waist ripple".
No muffin tops or bagel bulge to declare.

Only you know how to keep my belly smooth and unwrinkled.
My friends make fun of me, but I don't care.
I'll declare my love for you, Pregger Jeans!

Most women voice their disdain for you.
They hate the vast wind sail you create across their bellies.
But I embraced you.

I secretly wish to wear them everyday.
But now that it is no longer a secret,
I will shout my love for you from a rooftop or tabletop, whichever is nearer.

There is no judging when I wear you.
No applied pressure to my wobbly bits.
Just a stretchy, Spandex-woven tent of acceptance.

Your job was never to conceal or constrict.
Squeeze or contour.
Just to hug and love,
My belly of baby.

Though there's no baby there now,
You still managed to call to me from your perch on high (the closet shelf),
"Once last dance?" you shyly asked.

I put you on for a quick reunion,
Spontaneous and jubilant it was,
Ridiculous and rare.

I danced and sang the words, "I love my pregger pants!"
I swiveled my hips and awkwardly lunged in abandonment.
No fears of ripping the seams or cutting my waist in two.

Wild and free was I.
All to you, comfy, non-judgmental pants.
All to you.

But sadly, now is time to put you away,
Into the Spacebag you go.
Until the time comes to wear you again,
Hopefully with a child in tow.

Love ya, Foodies!

P.S. My four year-old son took the flashy/bad jean advertisement pictures for me. Poor child. I was laughing my butt off, as I realized the absurdity of a four year old child with a camera, hunkered down in the corner of a room taking photos of his crazy mother dancing in some stupid pants. All I can say is that my kids are not going to have the usual childhood memories of eating dirt and dancing in the rain. They will have those plus their mother doing the maternity pants can-can.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Best Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie EVER...really

Chocolate chip cookies are a good recipe to have up your sleeve. You never know when a C.C.C.E. (that's Chocolate Chip Cookie Emergency, for the lay person), may hit. I've got the rundown for you on what qualifies as a C.C.C.E.

1. PMS
2. Peace offering to the Hubs for spending too much at the craft store.
3. Bribing children to eat their food.
4. A counter-productive reward for doing lunges.
5. A tasty replacement for a frisbee (when and if a frisbee replacement was ever an emergency).

So there are a couple special things about this cookie. It's a riff on the famous Nieman Marcus cookie...the real one. Not the one that floated around in forwarded emails in the mid-nineties. Not the one that requires you to blend oatmeal and grate chocolate. Unfortunately, I made my fair share of the faux cookie during my time working in a coffee shop, hence the shabby knuckles. This is far more simple.

Also, this is an egg-free cookie, not originally, but I made it so. Not vegan, but you could easily make it vegan by replacing the butter with shortening. I think  it would work fine, but don't quote me on it. I'm merely guessing. But yes, no eggs! I'll share my secret weapon with you.

Ener-G Egg Replacer! This stuff is so awesome...even if this picture is not. LAME-O.

This has worked beautifully in many baked items I've made, other things not so much. I tried it once in homemade pudding...horrible. Tasted like paste. If you are using it in a heavier baked good, such as a chocolate loaf or pound cake, it may not rise properly. But for cookies, it rocks! It's mainly potato starch and it creates a crisp exterior that eggs simply cannot achieve.

When we found out my son had an egg allergy, I immediately started crossing off the list all the things I thought he couldn't have. But this egg replacer has been such a help. I make all my baked goods egg-free now and he can enjoy them with everyone else. It's also great to use in baked items that you are giving to babies or toddlers if you are wary they may be allergic to eggs.

Foodie House Version
Nieman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I'm going to give you the double batch recipe. This makes 16 giant cookies or 30 something smaller ones.

2 sticks soften butter (or one cup veggie shortening, for vegans)
2 cups brown sugar
6 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer PLUS 5 tbsp. water, mix well (this is more water than what the box would tell you. Also, if you are not making this egg-free, this is where you would put 2 eggs)
4 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. instant espresso (I don't usually add this, just because I don't want the kids to have the caffeine, but it tastes delicious!)
1-1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks ( I don't like a TON of chocolate chips in my cookies. I normally add just 1 cup. I know most people like a bunch. Just add what you like.)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (that's not a typo, it's an unusual temperature to bake cookies at but it works great!). Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg or egg-replacer and water mixture and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients together. Add to butter mixture. Beat in coffee powder, then stir in chocolate. Scoop onto cookie tray (I use a silpat liner or parchment) and gently press down tops. Bake for 18 minutes for smaller ones or 22 minutes for large ones. I always let them rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Enjoy, Foodies! Love ya.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Read Your Veggies!

I spent twenty minutes in 100 degree heat arranging bits of vegetation into a word. I was in complete awe of how a green bean can grow into a perfect circle or "u" shape. I can't let that pass by me without doing something with it can I? 

What a merciless taskmaster Inspiration is. She doesn't care how hot it is outside, she only cares that you craft!

(Now that you have that in-depth preface)
I slithered back into the house, glistening with sweat, breathing a little heavier from my crafty-sweatshop workout and I proudly showed my husband the above picture on my camera's play back mode.

Hubs: (comfortably sitting in his recliner, playing dorky bird game on his iphone. Stares at the picture, squints, says nothing)
Me: (waiting with a goofy smile on my face, while intently watching his face for a reaction)
Hubs: (stills says nothing)
Me: Can't you read it?!
Hubs: No. Wait, "gorcen"?
Me: Huh? (I look back at the play back screen, searching for "gorcen")
Hubs: What's that supposed to be? (points at the yellow cucumber flower)
Me: That's an "a". (as soon as I say it, I see how it's not so much like an "a")
Hubs: Oh, that's a "d". (pointing to the chili pepper and near invisible thyme sprig)

As I walk into the kitchen, I take time to toot my own horn on how creative I thought it was and how adorable the vegetables were, my voice trailing off behind me. From there I schlepped my deflated-balloon self to my computer to upload my un-readable vegetable word. Wah, wah.

I hate it when you craft in Sahara-like temperatures and you get no reaction, no reaction at all, I tell ya!
That's all. Just a little something to share. 

It says "garden" by the way. But I know you guys got it, right?

Love ya, Foodies!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chic Guacamole

You may be saying, "Lauren, 'chic' is not the first word that comes to my mind when I think of guacamole." I understand, it's weird. But let's think of it in a fashion sense, shall we?

What's the chicest thing you can think of when it comes to fashion? What is timeless? My first thought is the little black dress. Simple, classic and does not draw attention to itself but to the one wearing it. (I'm not implying you wear this guacamole, although, you may in your ravenous state and utter euphoria, end up with a schmear here or there.)

When I think "chic" I also think, uncluttered.

I hate cluttered guacamole. The saying, "less is more" is definitely appropriate here, as it is with fashion. I'm against all forms of tomatoes in my guac and I am abhorred by garlic (some my be gasping at this moment), I don't want corn or beans or cilantro or mayo (!), but here is why.

I want to taste the avocado. I've just paid $4 for 2 organic avocados (and that was on sale!). I don't want to taste garlic or have a seedy, watery tomato fighting with my creamy, smooth super-food.

So I have stripped down what I usually end up getting if I were to order guacamole in a restaurant and have created for you a simple, easy guacamole that will not only cut back on buying a butt-load of ingredients but will let you taste what nature intended.

Chic Guacamole

2 perfectly-ripe, organic avocados
1/2 green onion, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
Juice of 1/2 -3/4 fresh lime

Mash it all together. Adjust for salt and spice. Go crazy on the jalapenos or use whatever pepper is your favorite. And if you want to make it even simpler, cut out the onions and peppers and simply use salt and lime. Such a summery treat!

Love ya, Foodies!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Duo Of Nap Time Snacks

I don't quite know what it is, but when nap time rolls around, I tend to celebrate with a snack. It could be for a couple of reasons: A. I didn't get to eat much of a lunch (as I am more of a short-order cook rather than a diner in my own house during the frenzied lunchtime rush of my three children). B. I simply get so excited about having some peace and quiet that I yank the Nutella out of the pantry with exaggerated Kung-Fu moves.

One snack is healthy the other is is not. I like giving my readers options, ya know? You like that, right?

I adore cottage cheese. I have very fond memories of eating bowlfuls of the stuff with canned peaches and pears (in heavy syrup, of course) over the top. Well, nowadays, I don't do canned fruit. So here's my updated and more healthy version, which honestly tastes better.

1/2 cup lowfat, organic cottage cheese
1/2 organic peach or pear, sliced
drizzle of raw, organic agave
One issue House Beautiful or Food and Wine magazine

You could layer it into a parfait or do like I did, make it all dainty in a tea cup. Whatever suits your nap time (or anytime really) hankerings.

Alright, so the above is super healthy. This little guy below...not so much.

He looks kinda dejected, huh? He's not really. I accepted him heartily and fully into my giant mouth of pearly chompers. Gosh, it was so good. What is this unhealthy-ish snack? Well, maybe it's not too unhealthy. Two out of the 3 ingredients are actually pretty good for you. It's that dang Nutella.

So stack these three ingredients up for a super satisfying (mainly for the sweet tooth in us all) snack:

One brown rice cake
One heaping tablespoon Nutella (don't be chintzy!)
6-7 sliced banana
Dash of Kung-Fu moves (optional)

It's not only the taste that is so great, but the textures. If you have been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that I am huge on texture. Most things I eat need to have some form of crunch or it's just not worth eating. The creaminess of the bananas and Nutella play beautifully together. Add a glass of milk and you just entered snack time heaven.

Being a stay-at-home mommy is a hard job, but your snacks don't have to be! That sounded like a commercial on much-too-late night t.v.

Well, Foodies, whether you are a stay-at-home mommy, working mommy, not-a-mommy or daddy, everyone needs a good snack. Maybe I will make snack posts a regular thing. I've got some more yummy ones up my sleeve.

Love ya, Foodies!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baby Veg

 Okay, so from the above picture you might surmise that I enjoy delegating, managing, holding shovels in a sassy fashion or I'm lazy.  I'm learning to be better at delegating, I'm a good at managing my kids, definitely a cute shovel-holder and lazy only occasionally. I actually dug the entire garden alla myself (in a hurried/frenzied fashion during a nap-time lull) and had the Hubs do the tiller because the tiller makes me giggle and when I giggle, I get week arms and if you've ever used a tiller its extremely unsafe to be struck with giggling-induced weak arms because the tiller goes nutso-crazy on you like a jackrabbit on crack. Hence, the beefy man doing the tilling.


So I've been raising seedlings indoors since March or April. We've got three varieties of organic tomatoes: Brandywine, cherry and some sort of flaming (?) Romas. They seriously look like they have yellow, stripey flames on them. We have parsley, pickling cucumbers and green beans. A variety of hot peppers for the Hubs. I've never grown green beans or grown tomatoes from seed. It was quite an enormous undertaking as far as the tomatoes go. They are so very delicate and require so much attention. I felt like my family grew to 45 children over night.

Cucumbers are probably my favorite thing to grow. They are so fool-proof. They grow like mad, so they really stroke your gardening-ego. They make you feel so accomplished. They have this naturally super-poky exterior on the leaves, stems and even the fruit itself so I never have worms or rabbits trying to eat it.

The green beans, other than herbs, have been my first harvest! I have been collecting tiny handfuls each evening until I came up with enough to justify cooking them. I feel strangely attached to these little guys. I've nurtured them, sang to them (yes, I sing to my garden. Trust me, it saved a wimpy tomato plant), weeded their bed and cooed over each little purple flower. Ready to throw-up? I REALLY love my little garden.

So it felt a slightly weird cooking up my green bean babies, but I was quickly over their death as I enjoyed every buttery bite. I simply steamed them in a pan with butter and salt and a dash of water. I topped them again with a wad of butter just before the Hubs and I recklessly dangled each one over our mouths and ate them more like popcorn than a proper bean. All the while smacking our lips, commenting on the fresh taste and sucking the butter from our fingertips.

They were sweet. They were perfectly tender. I have to say, I inhaled them.

And that was that. The first fruits of my garden. It was bittersweet. I raised them and then I ate them. I can't imagine doing that with an animal. Ugh. I'd surely be converted to a vegetarian.

Sorry to be so sappy over my baby beans, but I mean...just look at them? Coochie-coo!

 Crazy dill. It's ready for pickling but the cucumbers are dragging behind. Hurry up cucs!

 So here is what the garden is now. It's much too cramped, overgrown and a plant free-for-all. I have 9 tomato plants crammed in next to each other- very much against the seed packet's instructions. I crammed so many in because I could bear letting some get in the garden and others not. I asked my neighbors if they would adopt my surplus tomato babies, er, plants. I basically made them sign an adoption agreement to nourish and take care of them. Okay, so I didn't, I just gave them the 'ol stink eye as I handed the baby plants over.

Curious about those wonky, ladder-ish things? I got them out of someone's trash. I pick up stuff out of people's trash occasionally. Not nasty trash, nice trash from the nice neighborhoods. You know, where they throw out stuff that's still useful, but they just have no use for it, which makes it perfect for me! Anyway, those ugly things are for my beans and cucumbers to grow up since my garden is a postage stamp size. Having things grow up helps a lot.

As I write this, I am realizing with great clarity my weirdo-plant love I have. I'm really attached. Hmmm.

Nuzzling my manicured toes in with the parsley. I have garden clogs...but honestly, who cares? I love my feet in the dirt- that is, until the Hubs points out the clods of mud still clinging to the sides of my rustic, farmer feet.

Dig in the dirt and plant something. (Al Gore didn't tell me to tell you that.)

Love ya, Foodies.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Whole Dole

It's warming up outside. It's time for popsicles and ice cream. Time to eat your frozen treats in total abandonment with sticky, grape, orange and cherry stains to match the love fest.

That's why I strip my kids down to their undies to eat such treats. And I hate laundry.

With that said, I'm not so big on pre-made, processed frozen treats. They're okay once in a while, but I much prefer the kiddos getting their treat fix with natural juice pops or whole fruit "ice cream", which they can eat with their clothes on, because apple juice doesn't stain (or make your kids crazy) like red dye 40.

I guess I should teach my kids the word sorbet. Apparently I don't want them to look like junior food snobs when they play with the other four year old kids. (read next sentence in a hoity-toity voice.) "We had a palate cleansing dish of sorbet between our first and second course. What did your mom make?"

So the "whole dole" is like the whole enchilada, or shebang, know what, I don't need to explain. You get it. It's everything. The whole pineapple. (I teach workshops on how to rabbit trail, if you are interested.)

I got this idea this morning. Instead of super sugary sorbet, or super fatty ice cream, why not save my fleeting waistline and feed my kids some extra fiber, by blending an entire pineapple, freezing it in the ice cream maker and calling it the "whole dole" sorbet?

Earth-shaking, I know.

Side note on the whole fiber thing. I LOVE chomping on the core of the pineapple. It's fibrous texture and juicy, watery content satisfies that need-to-gnaw-on-something/puppy dog nature of mine.
Well, I believe one could, if one was so inclined, could give oneself diarrhea by chewing and consuming one too many pineapple cores. It's merely heresay. I may know a girl who did that, once.

The Whole Dole Sorbet

1 whole, fresh, ripe pineapple

Take off it's jacket, remove core, chew on the core, lop the flesh it into chunks and whiz away into oblivion in the food processor. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze. It comes out almost fluffy. I think air gets whipped into it in the food processor. Interesting texture.

Word on the sorbet firmness...I'm weird about making homemade sorbet. It must be eaten immediately after it's made. I find that homemade sorbet, when frozen in the freezer after its jaunt in the ice cream maker is, well, solid as a rock. It looses it slushy texture. So while we are all eating our dinner, I have the sorbet churning away. It's a great incentive for slow and picky eaters, to hurry up and eat. The soft and gentle whirring sound of the ice cream maker as it goes round and round is like kid-brainwashing that sends this message: "Eat your food, child. Eat!"

We are going to be eating a lot more sorbet around here.

Love Ya, Friends.
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