Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Monday, October 20th, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com In the Midwest, the fall is probably the most stunning time of year. The weather has cooled to a relaxing temperature and the vibrant colors of reds, yellows, and oranges are emerging in the canopy of trees while slowly taking their turn fading to brown and falling, one leaf at a time, to the ground below. It’s brilliant, heartwarming … comforting.

Of course, when the change in creation starts to become evident that yes, fall is here, it also signals to every woman that it’s time to pull out boots, scarves, chunky sweaters, and leggings. Yes, I love the fall. It’s also during this time of year that I’m sure every stew, soup, and treat is filled with pumpkin. Oh yes, I love to incorporate pumpkin into my dishes during this season and with the farmers market still open for another month, I’ll usually buy about 6-8 pumpkins and keep them in the coolest part of my home where they’ll last me into the winter. Pumpkin bars in January, oh yeah, stocking up is worth it!

With everything pumpkin during this time of year, of course one is going to need pumpkin pie spice. Now, one thing, pumpkin pie spice does not have pumpkin in it. Instead, it’s called pumpkin pie spice simply because it’s the blend of spices that is traditionally used in pumpkin pies. The spice blend can vary by brand but it’s usually a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Me, I like to add a bit of cardamom as well.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com

I’m sure many of you may be thinking, why make your own when you can buy it already blended. Well, you can make a bigger batch for less money and you can grind your own nutmeg and cinnamon for an even brighter flavor profile. One of my favorite things about making my own spice blends is that I can also add or omit spices just like the addition of cardamom in this recipe.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com

The pumpkin pie spice is very versatile. You can, of course, use it to spicen up your pumpkin pies, to sprinkle onto roasted pumpkin and other squashes, to incorporate into pumpkin custards, or to sprinkle onto coffee.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com Really, you can use it in so many ways. So, this year, why don’t you give homemade pumpkin pie spice a try. I’m sure you’ll love to have it on hand during this comforting time of year.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
Author: 
 
Pumpkin pie spice is a simple combination of sweet smelling spices including cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.
Ingredients
  • 2 tbls ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, Mix all spices together and store in an air tight container for up to one year.

Have you ever made your own homemade pumpkin pie spice? Tell me, what kind of dishes do you like to add pumpkin pie spice into?

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Tea Tips and Tricks From Celestial Seasonings (Plus a HUGE Giveaway!!)

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Tea-Tips-and-Tricks-From-Celestial-Seasonings *This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I don’t  travel as much as I used to, thanks to two busy kids with two grueling schedules, but when Celestial Seasonings contacted me to see if I would like to learn more about their teas and how they create them,  I just could not turn them down. I credit their Sleepytime Extra with breaking my melatonin habit, I got my husband (who drinks neither tea nor coffee) to indulge in a cup of Sugar Cookie Tea with me on cold days, and I consider all of their holiday teas the ultimate stocking stuffer. I could not wait to hear more about how they develop their products and how I could share about that with my readers.

I was expecting the best in tea offerings because that is what I know as a consumer.

As an observer to the inner workings of the company, I was surprised by the passion and enthusiasm from EVERY employee I talked to.  These people have a passion for tea and they have a passion for their customers.

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We got the chance to hear about where and how they source all of their ingredients and even heard from a farmer who provides the mint for the tea from his family farm. We got to see, smell, and hear the stories of where the ingredients are sourced and how these herbs are processed into the tea bags.  Although Americans might not embrace tea the way our European friends do, it is still the world’s second most popular beverage, topped only by water.

Do you know the difference between the different varieties of teas? I did not until this week!

Herbal Tea

Herbal “tea” actually does not have any tea in it, it is a combination of herbs,  which is why it is naturally caffeine free!  Whether hot or iced, naturally caffeine free herbal teas can calm, energize, refresh and delight naturally, depending on their ingredients—including herbs, spices, flowers and leaves.

Black Tea

Black tea, or what we commonly think of when someone mentions “tea”, is made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, a white-flowering evergreen bush about 3–5 feet high, native to China and India. Most people don’t think of black tea as an herb, yet it is the most widely used herb in the world.  Black tea actually comes from the same plant as green, white and oolong teas—differences in processing determine which kind of tea the leaves become.

Green Tea
Green tea has become increasingly popular in the United States, but it has been enjoyed in Asia for more than a thousand years, especially in Japanese tea ceremonies. The leaves used for green tea are initially the same as those that make black and oolong teas, but they are steamed right after being picked, so they stay green. Brewing green tea is a little different than brewing herbal or black tea – be sure you use water that is very hot but not quite boiling.

White Tea

In the mountains of China, white tea is harvested only from springtime’s first tender buds and top leaves that are covered with soft, silvery-white needles. Very simply and naturally dried, white tea retains the unique flavor of a freshly picked tea leaf—mellow, delicate and slightly sweet. This also preserves an even higher level of healthful antioxidants than in green tea. Because it is so delicate, white tea requires less brewing time than green or black tea.

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Not only did we get to actually smell, touch, and hear the farming stories behind where the ingredients were sourced, but we also got to do a tasting of teas and experience how these teas are meant to be prepared. What I discovered from this process was that I absolutely leave my tea bags in far too long, especially when it comes to green and chamomile tea, and a shorter duration of steeping really yields a better flavor experience overall.  Distilled water was recommended for optimum flavor, but I can’t say that this is an extra step I would take at home. I can, however, be more diligent about removing my tea bag after 1-3 minutes so that I have a better flavor experience overall.

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I am a coffee drinker in the afternoons and have always considered tea to be something to relax with only in the evening hours.  I asked their team if I was making the afternoon switch from coffee to tea what they would recommend for someone who desires to be highly caffeinated all day long (*ahem*) and they shared that Fast Lane just might be the tea for me. It is a black tea, sold exclusively online and in their gift shop, and this tea has 20 milligrams MORE caffeine per 8 ounce cup than coffee. I snagged a case of it for myself and I am giving a case away below (along with tons more stuff!) for one of you. I believe everyone should be as highly caffeinated as me so I am excited to share this tea with you! 

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Did you know that you can tour the Celestial Seasonings factory?  Check their schedule for factory tour times and consider it a must-see attraction in Boulder. I happened to visit while recovering from a sinus infection and I think there is, perhaps, no greater cure in the world then getting to stand inside the mint room to open up those sinus cavities. Getting to tour the factory gives  you a chance to really see how the product is made from start to finish!

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One thing I haven’t thought of is using tea more as an ingredient in my cooking.  To inspire us, our evening meal was created utilizing the Celestial Seasonings tea in each dish from a delicious tea-infused sorbet to a tea brine on the main dish, a roasted chicken. We also got to have a happy hour where the tea was utilized in simple syrups to create a variety of cocktails. I happily indulged in their Jammin’ Lemon Ginger Drop and came home to make it myself. The combination of the Jammin’ Lemon Ginger Tea brewed into a simple syrup, bourbon, and fresh lemon juice makes an elegant and easy cocktail perfect for entertaining.  You can find the recipe below our giveaway today!

Today I am giving away $100 worth of tea and tea accessories from Celestial Seasonings! Not only am I including over a case of Fast Lane tea, but I am also including a few seasonal favorites, a beautiful handmade tea mug, a tea bag holder,  and a thermal carafe to take your teas on the go. Follow the instructions below to enter to win! 

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Jammin-Lemon-Ginger-Drop-Header

Jammin' Lemon Ginger Drop
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
A fast and delicious cocktail made from Celestial Seasonings Jammin' Lemon Ginger Tea, fresh lemon juice, and a splash of bourbon.
Ingredients
  • 1.5 oz Bourbon
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz Jammin’ Lemon Ginger simple syrup (see instructions)
Instructions
  1. To make the Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup: Combine 4 Jammin' Lemon Ginger Tea bags, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Using two spoons, remove tea bags and squeeze out excess liquid. Allow syrup to cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker as listed above. Add ice and shake. Strain and serve in an old fashioned glass with a sugar rim.

 

Tomato Soup with Roasted Cauliflower Crumble

Monday, October 6th, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

Tomato Soup with Roasted Cauliflower Crumble #recipe via MomAdvice.com This tomato soup and grilled cheese combo gets an update in the form of golden brown roasted cauliflower florets. It’s just the right combination of classic and new just in time for fall.

I’m giving in, but not without a bit of stomping my feet and audible sighing. Autumn is here, and with it there is a crispness to the air that didn’t accompany my summer evenings. I find myself continually reaching for my sweaters, and although they’re still kicking out a few tomatoes, the production in my garden is slowing mightily.

I even wore boots last week, pulling them from the closet where they sat all summer as I ran around in sandals and low profile tennis shoes, skipping along the pavement in the sunshine. I zipped them up over my jeans and stared in the mirror at my sweatered reflection before heading to the market. There I grabbed as many tomatoes as I could find, hauling them to my car and then home where I rinsed them and diced them and stewed them in a large pot, trying to preserve the flavors of summer for the winter that is just around the corner.

Tomato Soup with Roasted Cauliflower Crumble #recipe via MomAdvice.com

At the end of the session, several pots of tomatoes later, I let the final batch cook down a bit longer, added a sautéed onion and some herbs, and then blended it together as the oven warmed the house right as the sun started to fade. I suppose fall isn’t so bad when it means the return of oven-warmed rooms and the smells that come with baking and roasting.

This soup gets a bit of a twist by placing the roasted cauliflower right on top. Cut your cauliflower into tiny florets so that they can suspend themselves right at the top of the bowl, just getting a bit of a dunk in the thick tomato broth.

Tomato Soup with Roasted Cauliflower Crumble
Author: 
Recipe type: soup
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup minced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 32 ounces stewed tomatoes
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons minced basil
  • 2 cups milk
  • kosher salt to taste
  • For the roasted cauliflower:
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the garlic.
  2. Add the stewed tomatoes and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and and simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. While the tomatoes are simmering, preheat oven to 425ºF. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, olive oil, oregano, honey, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, stirring once.
  4. When the tomatoes have simmered for 25 minutes, remove from heat and blend in a blender until smooth. Pour back into the pot and heat over medium-low heat, stirring in the milk, basil, and salt. Cook until hot, but do not boil.
  5. Serve with cauliflower sprinkled over the tops of the soup bowls.

 

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Honey Sweetened, Applesauce Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

Honey Sweetened, Applesauce Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins #recipe via momadvice.com

Now that school is in full gear, I like to make sure to feed my children nourishing breakfasts to keep them alert and energized throughout the day. Although I educate my children at home, there are still quite a few days during our school week that we need to head out early. Wether it’s for our co-op days, horse riding lessons, exploration days, or other field trips, a quick, on the go healthy breakfast is a must.

For days like these I enjoy baking breakfast muffins that are a cinch to make and travel beautifully.

Honey Sweetened, Applesauce Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins #recipe via momadvice.com

What I love about breakfast muffins is that you can be pretty flexible with them by adding a variety of nutrient dense ingredients of your liking, making them a great healthy food to serve to your family in the morning. I usually like to add oats, nuts, seeds, and a variety of wet and dried fruits or vegetables to up their nutrient content. In my home, I don’t use very much white sugar; instead, I opt for natural sweeteners like honey, pure maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, and fruit to gently sweeten my breakfast muffins. This, too, adds additional vitamins and minerals.

As I shared with you earlier this year, I’ve grown to really enjoy using einkorn flour in my home. Einkorn flour is more nutritious than modern varieties of wheat. It’s high in thiamin, fiber, and a number of b vitamins. It also contains a significant amount of the the powerful antioxidant, lutein. As compared to modern varieties of wheat, it’s higher in protein and has a lower percentage of nutrient loss during processing. As you can tell, these breakfast muffins are not just tasty but healthy too!

Honey Sweetened, Applesauce Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins #recipe via momadvice.com

Now that apples are in high season, I decided to make a batch of honey sweetened, applesauce cinnamon muffins. Really, these are so easy to make and they turn out delightfully moist so that they will keep well for a few days on the counter or can be frozen to be eaten throughout the week. In addition to the applesauce I also added pecans and cranberries for good nutritional measure. I think once you bake these, you’ll find that they are perfectly sweet, moist, and just the right size to grab on the go!

Honey Sweetened, Applesauce Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins #recipe via momadvice.com

Also, these muffins are great to add to your children’s lunches or served as an after school snack!

Honey Sweetened, Applesauce Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: Makes 12 muffins
 
Honey Sweetened, Applesauce Cinnamon Muffins. Perfectly sweet, moist, and just the right size to grab on the go!
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups einkorn flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, just barely softened
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, honey, applesauce, egg, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  4. After 3 minutes, lower the speed to low, and ⅓ cup at a time, add the flour until just mixed. Do not overmix.
  5. Gently, fold in the pecans and cranberries.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Bake at 350F for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Do you enjoy baking breakfast muffins? Tell me, have you ever had an applesauce cinnamon muffin? Please share with us in the comments below your favorite muffin to make for your family.

 

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This Is Where I Leave You (TIWILY) Book Club & Giveaway (Plus Caramel Apple Sangria Recipe!!)

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

This Is Where I Leave You (TIWILY) Book Club Ideas #TIWILYbookclub, #TIWILY *This post is sponsored by Warner Bros. Pictures

I am so excited that my book club was chosen to participate in a This Is Where I Leave You book club before the film hits the big screen on September 19th.  When I was asked to participate, I had heard of Jonathan Tropper, but had never read one of his books before.  I can honestly say that if you are wanting to add a little sparkle and hilarity to your book club discussion, This Is Where I Leave You is the book for you.

I read this book in a record two days and my husband kept finding me with it in some state of crying-laughing almost every moment I read it.  Although he isn’t much of a reader, I handed it to him and said, “You must read it.”  Each night when I crawl into bed, I hear random laughing and snorting on his side of the bed.  It is that kind of book that you finish and hand off to someone else so you can laugh about it together.

This Is Where I Leave You (TIWILY) Book Club Ideas #TIWILYbookclub, #TIWILY

When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.

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In this story, each of the siblings are told that it is their father’s dying wish for them to sit shiva together as a family. The irony is that their father is an atheist who made it known he didn’t believe in religion, but with their mother’s persuasion, she manages to get their family together under one roof for one week. With no escaping each other and a lot of time to reflect on life and the choices they have made, it really makes for some hilarious moments of family dysfunction at its best.  What I loved about this story more than anything is the message that even when they drive us crazy, we will always love our family.

I love it in the way that I loved the movie Bridesmaids- so wrong and so right. Raunchy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming, and so perfectly pitched. I would highly recommend this one for fans of Arrested Development as it reads just like my favorite episodes of the early seasons of the Bluth family. The crazy family dramas are always my favorites and this family does not disappoint in the craziness department. For better or worse, they are family, with all that history and messiness and love. 

This Is Where I Leave You (TIWILY) Book Club Ideas #TIWILYbookclub, #TIWILY
Love stories told from male authors sometimes fall short for me, but that was not the case in this one. Tropper does such a fantastic job of sharing what a failing marriage looks like, what it would feel like to lose the love of your life (interweaving old stories of the couple and new), and how one can find love again. Even in the darkest of moments of this marriage, Tropper finds a way to bring the hilarity into even the depressing situations of losing your life partner.

Since the movie will be hitting the big screen on September 19th, I hosted our book club to read the book and then we plan to make an outing to see the book on the big screen.  Sometimes it is difficult to find a book that we all like, but this one fit the bill perfectly for our group and we used the time to have a delicious brunch together and celebrate the kids heading back-to-school.

After seeing the trailer, I already know that this is going to be one of my favorite movies this year. I have to say that after reading the book, the film could not have been more perfectly cast and I kept seeing these actors in these roles even as I read the book.  Many times the movies just don’t live up to the books, but I can already tell that this one won’t be the case.

This Is Where I Leave You (TIWILY) Book Club Ideas #TIWILYbookclub, #TIWILY

TIWILY Boozy Brunch Ideas

Here are some delicious brunch options for a fun morning with your girlfriends that are some of my favorite when I am entertaining. I am selecting these because they can be made before everyone arrives so that you can really enjoy book club with your friends.  You will also find a fun drink I have created just for your book club that you can sip while chatting about the book.

In the theme of the book and all the food that is brought to the family as they sit shiva, you could also make your friends bring you brunch dishes potluck style in excessive abundance, taking the pressure off of you as the hostess.

Perhaps you could even pass some of these recipes on to them and ask them to make them for you.

It just seems like something awkward that the Foxman family might try in the book.

Blame the theme.

Delicious Brunch Options:

Sausage & Vegetable Frittata

Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal

Easy Bloody Mary Mix

Baked Blueberry Donuts With a Lemon Glaze

Dairy-Free Crustless Quiche

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

What is a book club without a good discussion? LAME. Here are some of my favorite book club questions that I gathered for our discussion together!

TIWILY Book Club Questions

1. What was your first impression of Judd’s wife, Jen? Because you see her almost entirely from Judd’s perspective, was there any chance to see her as a sympathetic character before Judd finds her so? Do you think that Judd and Jen have a chance at salvaging their relationship, with or without a baby girl to raise?

2. Discuss Judd’s mother and her relationship with each of her children. Do you think that Hillary Foxman was truly a bad mother? Was there any real irony in her being a child-rearing guru? What was your opinion of her character?

3. Most of the characters in this novel struggle against living up to an ideal established either by themselves or by a friend, family member, or spouse. Judd fails to be the perfect husband, brother, and son; Jen fails to be the perfect wife; Wendy fails to be the perfect mother and Alice fails to become a mother at all. Mort and Hillary Foxman, it turns out, fail their children spectacularly in some ways while succeeding in others. What do the lives of these characters reveal to us about perfectionism, ideals, and our expectations for ourselves and others?

4. For all of their faults, is the Foxman clan a likeable group of people? What makes them an endearing group of people? Who did you like the most, and who did you find the least appealing, and why? Were there any characters you would have liked to see developed further?

5. Clearly, Judd is an adult, yet this book can also be seen as a delayed coming-of-age story. What does Judd learn in the end about himself and his role in helping to create the world in which he finds himself?

6. Discuss Judd Foxman, the novel’s protagonist, from his very ironic and dry sense of humor (shared also by his brothers and sister), to his anger and vulnerability regarding his wife’s infidelity, to his conflicted emotions regarding his immediate family. What was your first impression of the protagonist/narrator of this novel? What did you find the most engaging aspect of his character? Did you find any aspect of him off-putting?

7. What comment is Tropper making about the role of trauma and tragedy in our lives? Almost every character in this book suffers or has suffered: Phillip from his neglected/overindulged childhood; Judd from his wife’s infidelity; Horry from his brain damage; Paul from the Rottweiler attack; Wendy from her unhappy marriage; and Alice from her infertility. What does their unhappiness, and the way each person copes with that unhappiness, teach us?

Be sure to head to the theaters to see This Is Where I Leave You on September 19th!

Want to connect more?

Visit the official website

Like This is Where I Leave You on Facebook

Follow @wbpictures on Twitter and Instagram

Share your own book club and hashtag it with #TIWILY #TIWILYbookclub

In honor of the movie, I am hosting a giveaway today for one (1) $50 Visa gift card and a copy of the book so you can enjoy reading the book and then catch the film in theaters September 19th! Please follow instructions in the Rafflecopter below to enter to win by September 12th! One winner will be chosen at random!
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Caramel Apple Sangria

Caramel Apple Sangria
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Nothing screams the Fall season like caramel apples. This recipe is just 4 simple ingredients and perfect for your next get together!
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle of Pinot grigio
  • 1 cup caramel flavored vodka
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 2 medium apples, cored and chopped
Instructions
  1. Stir the wine, vodka, and apple cider together in a large pitcher or serving container.
  2. Add the chopped apples to the pitcher, or to individual glasses.
  3. Serve the sangria over ice.

 

*This post is sponsored by Warner Bros. Pictures.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

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Mint Watermelon Berry Fruit Salad: Turning a Fruit Bowl Into a Salad

Monday, September 1st, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

Mint Watermelon Berry Fruit Salad via MomAdvice.com
Summer is coming to a close. Once the kids go back it’s basically already over, but there are still warm weekends that you can make the most of before the wind turns cold and the produce stops flowing. It’s actually right now in this early September air that my farmer’s market seems to be bursting at the seams with tables overflowing and after months of waiting, there are watermelons for the taking.

There’s something about a watermelon grown locally that just sings more than any supermarket watermelon (that I’ve been enjoying liberally all summer long, mind you). We usually get our best watermelon of the season right at the end of summer, a bright flag-waving send off as we head into the colder months. It’s only right to dress it up then.

I’m the first to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with my melon baller. The waste is what gets me. There’s all this juice that seems to collect as you’re balling, and then the bits in between the balls are just byproduct – okay, so I just snack on all the little bits, and I’d do the same if I were slicing it.

Still, it’s a kitchen tool I don’t often use. I pulled it out recently to make a fruit salad for my daughter’s swim team (high school sports do so many meal functions), and everyone was excited about the end result, but none more so than my 6-year-old, who told me it was like “eating a bouncy ball made of watermelon” that was “so, so tasty.” That, folks, right there is how you win your mommy over.

Mint Watermelon Berry Fruit Salad via MomAdvice.com
This fruit salad gets a minty punch from reduced watermelon juice, and an extra special crunch from a few chia seeds sprinkled on at the end.

Mint Watermelon Berry Fruit Salad
Recipe type: salad
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 1 watermelon
  • 4 cups strawberries or other summer berries
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • ¼ cup mint
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
Instructions
  1. Cut the watermelon in half and, using a melon baller, scoop the watermelon into balls. Collect the formed balls in a bowl, and pour off the excess juice that collects in the watermelon into another bowl or pot to use for later.
  2. Slice the strawberries, rinse the blueberries, and combine with the watermelon balls.
  3. Julienne the mint, setting aside 1 tablespoon for garnish, and combine with 3 cups of the reserved watermelon juice and the honey in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has reduced by half. Once the liquid has reduced, strain the mint pieces, remove from heat and chill.
  4. Pour the watermelon-mint syrup over the fruit. Sprinkle the chia seeds on, toss to combine, and serve cold.

 

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Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

I don’t know if I ever devoted an entire post to grapes in over a decade of running this site, but perhaps this showcases how underappreciated this fruit is.  It is a staple around here as a side to round out our sandwiches, it’s an effortless appetizer paired with wine and cheese, and it spends its freshly rinsed self at the pool with us as a snack that can withstand the heat and temperatures. We are definitely fans of the humble grape and I am sure you are too.

Walmart gives me a produce challenge each month to showcase one of their produce items. If you haven’t followed along on my journey towards appreciating fruits and veggies, I have roasted and churned a Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream,   Baked Strawberry Doughnuts, created a Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, threw on my grill  Grilled Tomato Bread With Prosciutto, churned Fresh Peach Sorbet, slow cooked my Slow Cooker Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal, wowed my family with a 3-ingredient Watermelon Granita,  and my fresh Gluten-Free Orange Chicken is our weeknight staple now. What a journey it has been to appreciate the produce section.

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

Tips for Selecting Great Grapes

Unlike some of the more difficult fruits I have featured, it is quite easy to spot a good batch of grapes.  Did you know premium grape season is actually September and October? It really is the best time to buy a big bag of grapes for your family. It is advised to select grapes based on the color of them. For green grapes, they should have a slightly yellowish, translucent hue rather than a true, opaque green. Red grape varieties should be mostly red and have a rich, crimson tone.

One other way to check for a good grape is to look at the stem of the grapes. A dry and brittle stem indicates that the grapes might not be as fresh and seeing a little peek of green on the stem is a good indicator of a fresh batch. The shape of the grape should not be misshapen or wrinkled, but plump and juicy.  Of course, you can always bring them back to Walmart if they aren’t perfect thanks to their 100% money back guarantee so selecting great grapes is foolproof.

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

I decided to incorporate these grapes into a gluten-free pasta salad to take to a cookout. This salad was hearty and filling for someone who is often unsure if she will be able to eat at social events (ahem). Not only is this just the kind of creamy pasta dish I love, but it incorporates the smoky saltiness of turkey bacon and chopped toasted pecans for a protein punch that really fills you up.  The smokiness is balanced with the sweetness of the grapes making for an interesting flavor combination and perfect for showcasing the beautiful in-season grapes.

Oh, grape, you certainly are a wonderful fruit and I’m sorry we haven’t loved on you more over the years! I promise to do better!

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad

Gluten-Free Broccoli Grape Harvest Salad
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A gluten-free pasta salad laced with pecans, bacon, and sweet grapes.
Ingredients
  • 1 bag of gluten-free pasta (any variety)- 16 ounces
  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 packets Stevia
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes
  • 10 cooked turkey bacon slices, crumbled
  • ½ cup pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan for about 6 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Once done cooking, rinse well before assembling.
  3. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems and separate into small pieces using a paring knife. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, Stevia, red wine vinegar and salt and toss with broccoli, hot cooked pasta (that has been rinsed) and grapes. Stir to coat.
  4. Cover and chill for up to 3 hours. Stir in bacon and toasted pecans just before serving.
  5. Note- The sauce on this can be doubled if you desire a more creamy pasta.

Slightly Adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny

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Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Back-to-School requires a lot of planning and getting back on track with a healthy breakfast is one thing I want to work on this year. Today I wanted to show you a recipe for Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos that can be made ahead and also created for your gluten-free or dairy-free family members.  One batch of these freezer breakfast burritos can yield 15-18 burritos, depending on how you stuff  ‘em, and they are filled with everything your kids need to start their day on the right foot. I am partnering with Walmart on this back-to-school idea today so you can snag all the supplies you need right at their store.

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

What I love about these burritos is that they are not only filled with fresh whole foods, but also that they are inexpensive to create. With kitchen staples like eggs, cheese, potatoes, and tortillas, it is likely you already have a few things on hand for this back-to-school breakfast. Create an assembly line of ingredients in the kitchen and have your kids jump in on the fun.

The potatoes are tossed in paprika and garlic powder for a tasty topping to the eggs. I love a little Italian turkey sausage, red peppers, and cheddar or colby cheese for these burritos. You can create your own flavor combinations or consider clearing out items from the fridge and making a unique combination all your own.

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Be careful to not overstuff the burritos so they can be wrapped easily and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet to place in the freezer until frozen. Once these are frozen you can tuck them in a freezer bag and just grab them when you need them. Do you know how to wrap a burrito?  If not, I love this tutorial for perfectly wrapped breakfast burritos!

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

With one kid in middle school (GASP!) and a daughter who prefers not to eat in the morning, I am hoping that these burritos will be the perfect way to get them motivated to eat a healthy breakfast. Just grab one from the freezer and wrap it in a dampened paper towel  for the microwave for three minutes (flip it halfway through). Wrap in foil and let them eat them on the way to the bus or in route to school.  These also make a great after school snack,  after sports activities, or an impromptu dinner with their pals while doing homework.

To make them dairy-free substitute the cream with almond milk (which is what we did) and add a vegan cheese to them or leave them cheeseless. For a gluten-free burritos, Walmart offers this option in their stores.

We hope you love this delicious breakfast as much as we did. We have already started raiding our make-ahead breakfast burritos for quick lunches this week. I am shocked how beautifully these reheat and taste. There are no excuses why you can’t tackle a healthy breakfast. Be sure to check out my recipe for Slow Cooked Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal for another fun breakfast treat!

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 18
 
A make-ahead breakfast burrito that you can tuck in your freezer for a healthy breakfast, snack or meal.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb Italian Turkey Sausage
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cream (or milk substitute)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • ½ pound cheese of your choice (or vegan cheese)
  • 18 tortillas, soft-taco size (8-inch), whole-wheat, flour, or gluten-free tortillas
Instructions
  1. To roast potatoes, preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle diced potatoes with oil and season with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Toss the potatoes together to evenly coat in oil and seasonings, and spread out into a single layer on the parchment. Roast until browned on the bottom and tender, about 20-25 minutes.
  2. Brown your sausage. Once it is cooked through, set aside in a large bowl, leaving about a 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan for the eggs.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream (or milk substitute) and pour into the sausage skillet. Cook over medium heat until just set, stirring as needed. season with salt and pepper and stir to combine, and transfer to the bowl with sausage.
  4. In the same skillet, cook your red peppers over medium heat until fragrant and softened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Make an assembly line- tortilla, cheese, followed by a small handful of potatoes and a scoop of the egg/sausage mixture. Roll the tortilla up.
  6. For freezing, place burritos on a wax- or parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm, at least an hour. Transfer to large freezer bags and keep frozen for up to one month.
  7. For reheating, place a frozen burrito in a dampened paper towel and microwave for three minutes, turning halfway through.

Recipe Adapted From: Dinners For Winners

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Refrigerator Pickles – Canning Made Simple

Monday, August 18th, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

Refrigerator Pickles - Canning Made Easy | momadvice.com

Okay, so a raise of hands: who here loves the icy cold crunch or sour pucker of a dill pickle on a hot summer day? Me too! Really, nothing says summer like a steaming footlong hot dog or a savory bbq pulled pork sandwich served with a cold pickle on the side. With cucumbers growing in abundance during this season, let’s make some pickles to enjoy at your next family bbq.

Dill pickles, made tangy and sour, are a cinch to make. I make them in a couple of different ways with no canning equipment required. I put up most of my cucumber harvest by fermenting them – brine cured pickles. They’re easy enough to make at home, requiring no vinegar to make, and the end result is a good old fashioned sour pickle filled with probiotics. I love the flavor of a fermented, brine cured pickle. The downside is that although you don’t need any canning equipment to make these pickles, they do need to ferment at room temperature for a good 1-2 weeks. If you’re having a family bbq soon, well, they just won’t be done in time. This is why whenever I make a large batch of fermented pickles, I also put up a few pints of refrigerator pickles that I know my family will be able to enjoy right away.

Refrigerator Pickles - Canning Made Easy | momadvice.com Refrigerator pickles are easy to make and don’t take much time at all. What’s great about them is that you can use this same simple recipe and pickle any kind of vegetable you may have in abundance. Cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, carrots, green beans, okra, hot peppers, and one of my favorites… red onions. Really, whatever you may have growing or bits and ends you have leftover from cooking will make great refrigerator pickles.

To make them, all you need to do is cut up the vegetable of your choice and layer them into a pint sized mason jar. I used pickling cucumbers.

Refrigerator Pickles - Canning Made Easy | momadvice.com

Then, add a couple cloves of smashed garlic, about a teaspoon of pickling spice, and then some dill weed, or if you’re growing them or can find them at your farmers market, the head of the dill weed with seeds. Not too much, about a couple teaspoons worth.

Refrigerator Pickles - Canning Made Easy | momadvice.com

Once you’re jars are packed, all you need to do is make a quick brine with apple cider vinegar, water, and salt, and fill the jar.

Refrigerator Pickles - Canning Made Easy | momadvice.com For refrigerator pickles, I like to use un-pasteurized, raw, apple cider vinegar since it’s filled with immune boosting probiotics. These pickles aren’t just tasty but nourishing. Just make sure to bring the brine just to a simmer, not a full boil. You can find raw apple cider vinegar at any natural food store or the natural food section of your local grocer.

That’s the entire process. Like I said, they are super simple to make, are full of crunch and mouth watering pucker, and will last a few months in your refrigerator…. unless you have a house full of boys that love pickles.

Refrigerator Pickles - Canning Made Simple
Author: 
 
Simple to make, refrigerator pickles recipe that is full of crunch and mouth watering pucker, and will last a few months in your refrigerator.
Ingredients
  • 9-10 small pickling cucumbers
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed then peeled (2 per jar)
  • 3 teaspoons pickling spice (1 tsp per jar)
  • fresh dill weed or dill heads (about a good 1-2 tsp per jar)
  • 1½ cups raw, apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons large granule sea salt (kosher or pickling salt)
Instructions
  1. Gently clean and remove any dirt and debris from the cucumbers.
  2. Slice the ends off of the cucumbers and quarter each one.
  3. Pack them into 3 pint sized mason jars.
  4. To the jars add the garlic cloves, pickling spice, and dill.
  5. In a medium sized heavy bottomed pan, bring the apple cider vinegar, water, and sea salt just to a simmer.
  6. Pour the brine into the jars, leaving about a ½" headspace.
  7. Screw the lids onto the jars and allow them to cool completely on the counter. Once cooled place the jars in the refrigerator. Let them sit for 24-48 hours before eating.

Have you ever made refrigerator pickles? Tell me, what vegetables have you used?

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Caprese Pasta Salad

Monday, August 4th, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via MomAdvice.com
Some evening meals require simplicity. They are the evenings when I’ve stood in my kitchen, sans air conditioning, feeling the heat condense on my skin as I look in the cupboards and attempted to choose a heat-less meal twice already that day.

They are evenings when the day has been one obstacle to climb after another. It’s when each child has separately skinned their knee on the driveway in four isolated incidents, each involving band-aids. It’s for days when even the excitement of a long-awaited package arrival ends in disappointment as it is opened to reveal a wrong item and a note indicating an “upgrade.”

This meal isn’t flashy. It’s honest and good. It’s your basic caprese salad, the one with the thick slices of summer tomatoes and too white mozzarella, full leaves of sweet basil, and a healthy drizzle of olive oil and balsamic – a summer essential. It’s that salad with a few extras. Pasta and green onions are invited, and if it’s a meal on its own, add a bit of protein in the way of beans or leftover chicken, shredded and tossed directly into the mix. It’s served in one bowl with one spoon, and it can be eaten on the patio or on a picnic blanket with slices of watermelon and a jug of iced tea. It can be tucked into a thermos and carried along to school or camp or off to the beach.

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via MomAdvice.com
In my repertoire of summer meals, I tend to rely on salads more than anything. This year’s has been an ode to simple pasta salads and a leafy salad with a hearty helping of quinoa dumped in for good measure. They’re simple, but they’re pulled together enough to be carried to a neighborhood barbecue or a family gathering where they’ll disappear on the buffet table in short order. You won’t regret doubling the recipe here.

Tomorrow, when you climb out of bed and feel the breeze coming through the open window, the world will feel new. And there will be leftover salad in the refrigerator for lunch.

Caprese Pasta Salad #recipe via MomAdvice.com

Caprese Pasta Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Pasta Salad
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces small pasta (in shape of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh basil (packed tightly)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups fresh mozzarella pearls
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Add-ins: shredded chicken, chickpeas, white beans, grilled peaches
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the box directions with the kosher salt in the water. Drain, rinse with cold water, place it in a large bowl, and chill.
  2. Make a chiffonade of basil by stacking the basil leaves on top of one another, rolling tightly, and slicing very thin strips.
  3. Once the pasta is chilled, add the grape tomato halves, the mozzarella pearls, green onions, and the basil to the bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, Dijon, and the sea salt. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Stir in any additional add-ins to make this a meal on its own or serve as is.

 

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