Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category

Gluten-Free Lemon Chiffon Cake

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Gluten-Free Lemon Chiffon Cake

For our family, birthdays are all about the cake and my son’s 12th birthday was just the reason to try out a new recipe. After browsing through the cookbooks, which is the birthday child’s honorary ritual and right, he decided to repeat his choice last year with another chocolate snickerdoodle cake. I rounded out our birthday dessert table with a gluten-free lemon chiffon cake so that I could enjoy a slice of cake with the family too. I would say that this cake was just as much of a hit as the the chocolate cake and tempted me everytime I opened the fridge.

“Just one more slice,” it screamed.

I would grab a fork and nip off a bit and eat it while still standing at the fridge.

Don’t judge.

I am not much of a sweets gal, but this cake was so light and lovely that I couldn’t stop eating it.

Gluten-Free Lemon Chiffon Cake Chiffon cakes are my favorite cakes because they are so light. Much like an angel food cake, they are created with egg whites which really helps with the density of the gluten-free cakes. The cake is so delicate though that I ended up wrapping the cooled cakes in saran wrap and a layer of foil and freezing them overnight so they would not tear or fall apart when I frosted the cake. I highly recommend doing that too.  I still rely upon these two 8″ Wilton pans (affiliate)  (instead of those 9″ pans that produced flat layers for me) and a good spatula (affiliate) for all my cakes. With this cake, in particular, you want to make sure you don’t produce thin cake layers that crumble when pulled from the pan.

Smoothed between the layers is a delicious lemon curd (I used this recipe!) which sounds wildly impressive, but is so easy to make that you will wonder why you never tried making it before. My children fought over who could enjoy the last of the lemon curd that was in the jar.

I broke it up by telling them that since they were going to fight about it, I was going to eat it.

That’s the kind of mom I am, a true problem-solver.

Gluten-Free Lemon Chiffon Cake

The cake is then frosted with a whipped cream frosting that has the lemon curd whipped through it.

I mean, seriously. It’s as if this cake fulfilled all my food dreams.

12

Happy 12th birthday to my beautiful boy. I think this is the happiest of his birthdays and it was because there was no fuss and no elaborate themes. We had just got back from vacation, I had a millionty projects for work, and our shed was in the process of being finished.  There was no time for an elaborate birthday. It ended up being the best birthday yet.

Just friends, a takeout pizza, and some cake.

Why have I been stressing about this birthday party every year?

The smile says it all- simple is better.

I hope you can give this recipe a try. If you gluten-free cakes aren’t your thing, definitely try this Cream Cheese Pound Cake With Homemade Lemon Curd- it’s a winner too!

Gluten-Free Lemon Chiffon Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A beautiful lemon chiffon cake with lemon curd between the layers topped with a whipped topping laced with more lemon curd. It is the perfect summer dessert!
Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pans
  • 2 teaspoons rice flour, for dusting the pans
  • 1 extra large or 2 small lemons
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 package (15 ounces) yellow gluten-free cake mix
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup orange juice (fresh or from a carton)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • For the filling and lemon whipped cream frosting: 1 jar (10 ounces) gluten-free lemon curd (or prepare the homemade version- link above)
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist two 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust with the rice flour. Shake out the excess rice flour and set the pans aside.
  2. Zest a lemon and measure out two teaspoons for the cake batter and place it in a large mixing bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice through a fine sieve, discarding the seeds. Measure ¼ cup of lemon juice, pour it into the mixing bowl with the zest, and set the bowl aside.
  3. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in another large mixing bowl and the yolks in the mixing bowl with the lemon zest and juice. Beat the whites with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. Set the beaten egg whites aside.
  4. Place the cake mix, sugar, orange juice, and oil in the bowl with the egg yolks and lemon and beat with an electric mixer and beat until mixed.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter until no traces of whites remain and the batter has lightened.
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side. Place a large mixing bowl and electric mixer beaters in the refrigerator to chill.
  7. Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18-22 minutes. Allow them to cool on a wire rack.
  8. Freeze the layers wrapped in saran wrap & foil overnight to produce a sturdy base for icing.
  9. Meanwhile, make the filling and frosting. Measure ⅔ cup of lemon curd for the filling and set it aside in a small microwave-safe glass bowl. Pour the cream into the chilled mixing bowl. Using the refrigerated mixer beaters, beat the cream with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 3 minutes. Fold in the confectioners’ sugar and ¼ cup lemon curd. Beat again at low speed until the lemon curd is incorporated, 30 seconds. Refrigerate the frosting until ready to use.
  10. Remove the layers from the freezer. To assemble the cake, place the glass bowl with the lemon curd for the filling into the microwave on high power for 10 seconds to warm it. Transfer one cake layer, right side up, to a serving plate. Spread the top with the warmed lemon curd. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first and frost the top and side of the cake with the lemon whipped cream frosting. Refrigerate the cake until time to serve.

Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free (affiliate)

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A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad

Monday, July 28th, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Summer is the season of abundant vegetables. My family eats such a wide variety of vegetables in this season that my husband often jokes with me and asks if we’re becoming vegetarian. We are certainly not but I do take full advantage of the abundance of vegetables in this season, both in my garden and at the farmers market, to cook them in many different ways.

Although I love to experiment and develop new recipes using vegetables, an incredibly easy way to incorporate more of these nourishing ingredients grown from the earth is to make salads out of them. So often we think of salads as just greens tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese; however, salads can be made from a variety of vegetables tossed in a simple oil and vinegar vinaigrette – in Spain, this type of salad is called an aliño.

An aliño is just vegetables, cooked or cut up raw, and then tossed in a simple vinaigrette and seasoned with a large granule sea salt. It’s super simple to make and with the addition of fresh grown herbs, the salads become something to swoon over. Let me show you just how simple this beet and strawberry salad is to make:

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 1. Boil the beets, peel, and dice. Toss into a bowl.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 2. Thinly slice some red onions and add to the bowl.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 3. Slice up some perfectly ripened strawberries and add to the bowl.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 4. Add in a bit of herbs of your choice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and sprinkle with a large granule sea salt.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad Step 5. Toss together and serve.

Salads of this nature can be made from any vegetable you may have on hand. Here are a few tips for making sensational summer salads.

  • Red onions generally go really well in most salads. They’re sweeter and compliment vegetables and fruit well.
  • Add in seasonal fruit as it comes into season. It gives salads a touch of sweetness without having to add sugar or honey. I’ve been known to add blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, sliced peaches, and even watermelon to summer salads.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. I’ve tossed cauliflower salads, cucumber and tomato salads, beet and watermelon salads, roasted red pepper with red onion salads, etc…
  • Large granule sea salt is for more than flavor. It’s surprising how amazing salads can taste by the simple addition of a large granule sea salt. It gives them texture –  a delightful crunch.
  • Herbs can make a salad. It’s amazing how one salad can taste many different ways by using different herbs. Again, experiment with herbs. Some of my favorites are mint, cilantro, summer savory, marjoram, and lemon balm.

Now the key to a fabulous summer salad is in the vinaigrette. Often times we think we need to concoct a dressing made of 10 different ingredients to enjoy a salad but really it’s much simpler than that. As long as you have the seasons freshest fruit and vegetables all you need is a simple vinaigrette. On hand, I always have balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. The following is my ratio for a simple vinaigrette.

  • 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbls of vinegar (red wine, balsamic, or apple cider)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp large granule sea salt

That’s it. As soon as you start experimenting making salads with a variety of fruits and vegetables I’m sure you’ll memorize that ratio as I have.

A Sensational Beet and Strawberry Summer Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
 
A simple summer salad made with the seasons finest beets and strawberries dressed in a simple vinaigrette.
Ingredients
  • 3-4 large beets, boiled, peeled, diced, and cooled
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tbls marjoram (or any other variety of fresh herb like mint)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbls red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp large granule salt.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, toss together all of the ingredients.
  2. Chill or serve at room temperature.

Do you enjoy trying new summer salads? Please let us know in the comments below some of your favorite recipes for summer salads.

 

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Easy Lunchbox Solutions

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Easy Lunchbox Solutions from MomAdvice.com

The back-to-school season is just around the corner and today I wanted to share some easy strategies for packing those lunches this year. I have teamed up with Walmart to share three fun products that you can purchase this year for those lunchboxes: Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread, Frito Lay Chips in their 20-count variety pack, and Danimals Smoothies 12-packs (that just so happen to be worth triple the Box Tops for Education points!). These are all affordable and easy additions for this year’s lunchboxes.

Here are some additional fun ideas for making lunchtime fun for your child this year:

Easy Lunchbox Solutions from MomAdvice.com

Get Organized- As with all things related to back-to-school, getting organized is half the battle. Our family relies on this lunchbox creation station for creating our lunches for the week.  Take advantage of those back-to-school sales and get your lunchbox station stocked with reusable containers and baggies, water bottles, drinks, snacks and chips for the year.

As my children get older, I put more of the responsibility of lunch preparation on them and our lunchbox station really helps when assembling lunches the night before school as well as packing drinks & snacks for our extracurricular activities.

Insert Fun- Every year, I feel a little melancholy about my kids going back to school especially when we have spent so much time together in the summer. This is the perfect time to add a note to let them know how much you love them or add a comic strip and joke to an older child’s lunchbox.

If your school lunch hour is anything like our lunchtime, our kids have very little time to eat. Try to keep the gesture simple so that you can be assured that they were able to tackle their lunch and not just your note.

You can also add fun details like pretty straws, washi tape flags with special messages on them, or a fun treat like Frito Lay’s Chips & a fruity Danimals Smoothie to round out the meal. I love to use Rick Rack Scissors to trim my washi tape to add a fast & easy detail.

  Easy Sushi Sandwich from MomAdvice.com

Try a Sushi Sandwich- Have you ever made a sushi sandwich? These are so fun to create and couldn’t be easier. Grab a loaf of Sara Lee Whole Grain White Bread and your favorite rolling pin. Roll the bread out thinly, but not so thin that the bread will no longer hold together. Add a few slices of your child’s favorite lunch meat and then a cheese stick in their favorite flavor (my kid’s love a swirled stick). Carefully roll this up and then slice in half with a sharp knife. For kids that don’t love sandwiches, these spin on the traditional sandwich is always a hit.

Keep Them Organized Using Their Lunchbox- Trying to keep myself organized is difficult. Keeping my kids organized too? Well, that seems even more impossible. I have found that my children rarely forget their lunches though and this is the perfect spot to clip items that they need to remember for their day. Utilize a binder clip or heavy-duty clothespin and use this spot to jot down notes of activities they need to do for the day, apparel that they need to bring for extracurricular activities, appointments they might need to be picked up for, or forms/permission slips they need to turn in to school. This has been a great system for us and helps remind us all of what needs to happen each day.

I hope you love these ideas for freshening up those lunchbox routines and wishing you easy and sweet transitions back into the swing of the school year!

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Watermelon Coconut Lime Ice Smoothies

Monday, July 7th, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

This watermelon ice smoothie is thick, smooth, and refreshing. With its coconut water and a touch of lime, it’s reminiscent of Slurpees and Icees, except all natural at home.

Watermelon Coconut Lime Smoothies #recipe via momadvice.com

I sat down back in May, an oversized paper calendar in front of me and five or six Sharpies at the ready. Neatly I wrote down the activities for each day through the summer, color-coding by child, so I knew when each one needed to be where at what time. It seemed like a worthwhile task to clear my Type-A brain from the clutter of keeping all the information piled together in one place. At the end of the August page I even filled in school orientation nights that we’d already received reminders for, lest we forget summer’s length and imagine it stretching on forever.

I sat back and admired my handiwork. There were the camps and the sports practices outline in a rainbow of color. Family activities were marked in black. I flipped back to June and rather than feeling better, I instead felt the dread of too much to do all summer long.

No one ever prepared me for the reality that comes with having children out of diapers. It’s this idea that they are now little people with lives and activities and interests of their own. Try as I might to keep our lives simple and our summers as low-stress and relaxing as possible, what ends up happening when you are outnumbered four to one is that activities get spread and spaced out.

Watermelon Coconut Lime Smoothies #recipe via momadvice.com

A month in and several deep breaths later I can tell you the secrets to surviving summer.

Take it one day at a time. Say yes (to beach days and trips to the park) as often as you say no. Forget about scrubbing your floor (bare feet and clean floors do not go together). Serve plenty of on-the-go snacks that keep you cool, hydrated, and are just plain fun to drink.

These watermelon smoothies are just what summer ordered with their hint of coconut and bit of lime. Whether you’re carting one kid to soccer while picking another up from baseball or just relaxing in the backyard, they are the refreshing, invigorating, and full of summer flavor.

Watermelon Coconut Lime Smoothies #recipe via momadvice.com

I’ve taken to freezing the leftover watermelon in batches, whenever there’s a bit leftover. I scoop the last cup or so into a container, covering it and pretending all is well. Rather than ending in the compost pile at the end of a meal, these leftover chunks become an intensely hydrating snack that boasts vitamin C and antioxidants. It’s just what the summer heat ordered.

Watermelon Coconut Lime Ice Smoothies
Author: 
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey*
  • 4 cups cubed watermelon, frozen
  • 1½ cups coconut water
Instructions
  1. In a small cup, mix together the lime juice and honey until the honey dissolves.
  2. In a blender, add the frozen watermelon chunks, coconut water, and the lime and honey mixture. Pulse until the mixture moves freely in the blender. Blend on high until smooth.
Notes
*More honey can be used to adjust sweetness for your personal taste and to account for ripeness of the watermelon.

**For a fun frozen cocktail, add in 1.5 fl oz of vodka to 6 ounces of smoothie. I used Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka.

 

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Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

With summer in full swing, I thought I would share another yummy frozen treat that you can create with  fresh fruit. If last week’s 3-ingredient Watermelon Granita was just too light for you, you will love the bold and rich flavors of this Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream. Today I am sharing this delicious homemade ice cream that you can create with just a few ingredients and a basic ice cream maker. Of course, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, no worries! Check out this technique for making ice cream without an ice cream maker and use that this summer.

I partnered with Walmart on this project. Each month they give me a produce challenge and it constantly pushes me out of my box to try cooking with produce items that I am less familiar with and to invent new flavor combinations.

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Have you ever cooked with plums? Confession time. I had not. Plums have never been on my radar before, but I thought I might try incorporating them into a fruit ice cream. They remind me a lot of peaches, although a bit more tart, and the flesh reminds a bit of a grape.  When selecting plums at the market,  look for ones that yield to gentle pressure and that are slightly soft at their tip. While you can also purchase plums that are firm and ripen them at home, avoid those that are excessively hard as they will be immature and will probably not develop a good taste and texture profile. When making this ice cream, it is better to go for a fruit that is a bit more ripe to add to the sweetness and also make it easy to remove the pit. Just as a reminder though, if you are unhappy with your purchase for any reason, Walmart does offer a 100% freshness guarantee on all of their produce.

Plums that are not yet ripe can be left at room temperature. As this fruit tends to mature quickly, check on them in the next day or two to ensure that they do not become overripe. Once they are ripe, plums can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

The roasting of the plums is a bit torturous because the house smells heavenly.The worst part is that then you have to scrape all of that heaven into your blender and then wait a whole day before you can churn it into ice cream. To help with these difficulties, be sure to make an extra pan of these and eat them with a pint of vanilla ice cream from the freezer. You will thank me later.

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

The beautiful hue of this ice cream is all naturally made. The skin give this ice cream it’s pinkish-purplish hue that happens to be my daughter’s favorite color. I loved this color so much that I decided to make this post dark and moody like these plums. The richness of the fruit deserved a little of the dark treatment on the shots. I hope you love them as much as I do. I admit that experimenting with light while photographing a frozen treat might have not been my smartest moment. In the end though, I loved how these turned out and am thankful that I have a creative platform where I can practice my techniques.

I hope you can treat yourself to this rich, slightly sweet, slightly tart, and fully roasted flavor of this Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream for a summer treat this year! If you are looking for more ideas to try with fresh produce this summer? Be sure to check out my Baked Strawberry Doughnuts, my Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, my Grilled Tomato Bread With Prosciutto, my Fresh Peach Sorbet, our Slow Cooker Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal, my 3-ingredient Watermelon Granita,  and my fresh Gluten-Free Orange Chicken for some fun ways to incorporate fresh produce in your family’s diet!

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Roasted Plum & Cinnamon Ice Cream
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Plums are roasted in cinnamon & sugar and then blended into cream to make a rich ice cream for the summer months.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ripe plums, halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon (or more, depending on your taste)
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the plums in a 9x13" baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle plums with dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and a few pinches of salt.
  3. Roast the plums for 20-25 minutes until they are fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add 2 cups heavy cream, sugar, honey and vanilla extract to a saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add a ¼ cup of cream mixture ( to the jar of a blender, along with the roasted plums and their juices. Blend until very smooth, about 1 minute. If you have a high-speed blender, your pulp should be fully blended. If not, you can pour the mixture through a sieve to make sure you get rid of any pieces.
  6. Add the remaining milk to the bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours of overnight.
  7. Churn the mixture in the bowl of your ice cream maker, according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Serve immediately for soft serve or alternatively transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.

Adapted Slightly from A Cozy Kitchen.

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McCormick FlavorPrint + 3 Fun Ideas for Dinner!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

*This post is sponsored by McCormick Spice in partnership with the One2One Network.

One of my late night past times is staying up to take ridiculous quizzes like, “What 80′s Boyfriend Should You Have?,” and “What OITNB Character Would You Be?” and one of my favorites, “What Country Should You Live In,” as though these quizzes will hold the deep meaning to life.

In case you are wondering, I am Piper, Lloyd Dobbler from Say Anything should be my boyfriend, &  I belong in Paris. All completely accurate & true.

Well, if you are a quiz junkie like, me you will love the new FlavorPrint tool from MCcormick Spice that is a lot like those quizzes you love, but actually will be useful because you can plan your family’s meal around the answers you provide. For someone who is stumped for fresh ideas in the summer and who has found herself gravitating towards the same three dishes for ease, I couldn’t wait to take the quiz and figure out what options would fit our family’s needs.

McCormick FlavorPrint

McCormick has found that each person has a unique flavor “fingerprint” that is conveyed through a distinct visual mark, which has 33 “spikes” to represent different flavors in your personal flavor profile. The bigger the spike, the more prominent the flavor. Through this quiz, it can identify your own personal tastes and provide delicious options that fit that unique profile for your dinner hour.

The quiz takes about two minutes of answering questions like, “Do you like mint?” and then “How about onions?” Once you have completed the quiz, it will provide meal options for you that you can try. If you like the options, you can dive in deeper and give them a thumbs up, answer more questions about your personal taste, share what you always have on hand in your pantry, and even tell them what type of equipment you have or don’t have in your kitchen. It will continue to share more and more personalized meal options as you completely more answers. For quiz junkies like me, it was a little slice of heaven.

McCormick FlavorPrint
For families that suffer from food allergies or sensitivities, you can also share what you need to avoid. I love that Wheat was an option on this so that the recipes that were shown for our family were gluten-free meal options, helping us really have useful choices for us. The last thing I want to see is all the wheaty goodness I can’t indulge in. Thanks, FlavorPrint, for making me feel like I actually have food choices.

McCormick FlavorPrint After answering the questions, these were the flavors that rose to the top. Based on this information, FlavorPrint offered some meal ideas for us. After I picked a meal to try, I answered  more questions on the quiz and got more meal ideas.  Here are three meal ideas that FlavorPrint suggested for me.

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

The first dish it recommended for me was a Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette. I can see exactly why it would recommend this for me because I LOVE edamame and I love corn. Since sourness is something I love, the acidic dressing just makes sense for me. This salad had fresh corn, red bell peppers, parsley, and edamame in it. This would be a great dish to take to a cookout and I have been eating the leftovers as a side dish for my lunch.

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Playing on my love for all things cheesy, the next recommendation that was made was this Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto made from an easy boxed rice mix. Although I wouldn’t say that this would be in our regular rotation, I know that on a busy weeknight of activities, this would be a fun side to add with a little grilled meat and is much easier to create than babysitting a pot of homemade risotto.

Let’s be honest…ain’t nobody got time for that.

My kids really loved this dish and I found it comforting & satisfying. We called this another dinner win!

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Grilled Chicken Caprese

The last dish recommended was a Grilled Chicken Caprese which could not have fit our family more perfectly. You may recall, I had just shared a 5-ingredient Caprese Pork Chop recipe that our family loved. This mimicked those same flavors, but did not require marinating the chicken, but utilized Lawry’s Roasted Garlic Salt with Oregano & Basil instead and a grilled tomato that was sprinkled with the same. My family absolutely loved this dinner option and my only regret was not making a double batch of these. It paired well with the risotto and would be a perfect summer meal to entertain with.

McCormick FlavorPrint

As you can see, we got some great dinner ideas using the FlavorPrint tool and we can’t wait to continue quiz-taking to find more meal ideas for our family.  I highly recommend you take the quiz too and get some fresh ideas for your dinner hour. In the meantime, I have created three pinnable images (below) for the meals that we tried, in case your FlavorProfile looks anything like ours!

Edamame and Corn Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Risotto

Grilled Chicken Caprese

 

 

Cheers to summertime meal ease & quizzes that give us actually useful information for our families… although wouldn’t you be sad if you didn’t know your destiny resides in Paris?  I hope you love it as much as we did!

 

*This post is sponsored by McCormick Spice in partnership with the One2One Network.

Raspberry White Chocolate Sorbet

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

Raspberry White Chocolate Sorbet Recipe on MomAdvice.com

Every summer I feel as though I time my family activities by the season of berries that’s ripe for the pickin’. There are trips to the strawberry fields, where our knees become encrusted with the straw that is used to mulch between the rows. There are blueberry picking adventures, the sun beating down on us as we pull handfuls of bulbous berries into small buckets.

The raspberries, though, they happen in our own backyard. The far corner in the back of the yard is devoted to the thorny canes, poking up and often trying to run into other parts of the yard. They start the spring off looking like nothing more than bare twigs, and by June they’re full of leaves and flowers and then bright red berries.

Raspberry White Chocolate Sorbet Recipe on MomAdvice.com

We pick bowl fulls for breakfast, adding a few to our morning yogurt, stirring them into our oatmeal. We drop them into sparkling juices to toast special occasions. My kids, barefoot and still dripping from the pool, hover over the prickly branches, sacrificing themselves for a few of the tart treats. But when the summer sun is hot and unforgiving, the best way to enjoy them is to gather up as many as you can and blend them into a cold, sweet cup of summer.

Raspberry White Chocolate Sorbet Recipe on MomAdvice.com Recipe Notes:

I love raspberry and white chocolate together, and while you can use any white chocolate you desire, a good quality one will definitely go father here. It’s worth it for the small amount you use. I used a Lindt Lindor Truffle Bar, which has a firm white chocolate outside and a softer, as the name suggests, truffled center, and I love that it doesn’t get too hard when frozen.

Yes, I realize this has an ice cream maker in the recipe. If you don’t have one, sorbet is a hard thing to master. The ice cream maker helps it freeze evenly and quickly, which gives you that smooth texture that you think of when you think sorbet. However, if you don’t have one, don’t despair. Put the mix in a zip-top bag, and massage the bag every half hour or so in the freezer. This will help it to freeze evenly, and you’ll get a delicious frozen treat.

The vodka helps the mix from freezing solid. If you are opposed to any alcohol in your sorbet, try adding a tablespoon of honey or golden syrup instead.

Raspberry White Chocolate Sorbet
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 6 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons vodka
  • 1 cup white chocolate, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for five minutes . Remove from heat, pour into a heat-proof bowl, and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Once the syrup is chilled, combine the raspberries, vanilla, and vodka in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Press the mixture through a sieve to remove pulp and seeds. Process the mixture in an ice cream maker, adding in the white chocolate at the end. Transfer to a container and freeze.

 

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3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

I don’t know of anything more delicious than fresh fruit in the summertime. Today I am sharing an EASY 3-ingredient watermelon granita you can prepare with just fresh watermelon, lime juice, and a little sugar.  It is one of those dishes you will love for an effortless weeknight treat or a fun dish to entertain with for the 4th of July weekend!

Each month Walmart challenges me to find a new way to use their fresh produce and this month’s challenge just-so-happens to be one of my favorite fruits…WATERMELON.

Hello, summer!

Seedless Watermelon

I woke up early one morning to make this dish and here is my early morning watermelon shot for you as the sun had not even risen. I tend to operate best first thing after I have had my coffee. I’m sure you can relate (*ahem*).

I chose a seedless watermelon for this dish because trying to pick out seeds to prepare your granita is far too time-consuming for a busy mom especially when she has a full summer day of kids. If you have a high- powered blender it is possible to pulverise them, but I save my blender the work and choose the seedless variety to make it easy on all parties involved.

How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon

There are three easy steps to selecting the perfect watermelon.

1. Lift Your Watermelon- Does it feel heavy? You want a watermelon that feels weighted and not light.

2. Check for the Yellow Dot- Watermelons have a yellow spot on them where they have rested and grown on the ground. You want to find one that has a creamy yellow spot on it because that showcases that it is a lovely ripe melon.

3. Thump It- Have you seen people thump their watermelons at the grocery store and wondered what that was all about? Sometimes I don’t think they even know why they do it.  You are listening for a sound that indicates a great melon. It should have a deep hollow sound, but if it is too ripe or underripe, it will have a dull sound.

4. Dissatisfied? Bring it Back- I didn’t tell you there was a fourth step, but if you should pick the wrong watermelon, Walmart will graciously give you a refund on it since they have a 100% freshness guarantee on their produce. Basically, it makes the process of selection foolproof, especially if that thumping bit gets confusing.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

What is a Granita?

The word granita sounds awfully fancy to this Midwest girl’s ears, but it is actually not fancy at all. A granita is a semi-frozen dessert traditionally made from sugar, water and various flavorings that originated in Sicily. It’s a little like sorbet a little like Italian ice, but uniquely its own person with a texture that is a tin bit coarser.  Since the watermelon is in season and often on sale this time of year, I decided to use it to make the granita. 

All you do for this recipe is give it a whirl through your blender. After blending your cubed watermelon, fresh lime juice, and sugar, pour it into a 9×13″ dish and slide it in your freezer. Every half hour or so, take a peek and give it a scrape with a fork to move things around. Keep doing this every once in awhile and then after about three-four hours of freezing time, your dessert should be ready for serving.

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita from MomAdvice.com

I wish there was more to tell you about this dish, but it really is as easy as that. It’s a frugal way to incorporate more fresh fruit and is best served with lots of spoons on a hot summer’s day!

Looking for more ideas to try with fresh produce this summer? Be sure to check out my Baked Strawberry Doughnuts, my Blueberry Sangria Lemonade, my Grilled Tomato Bread With Prosciutto, my Fresh Peach Sorbet, our Slow Cooker Honey Crisp Apple Oatmeal, and my fresh Gluten-Free Orange Chicken for some fun ways to incorporate fresh produce in your family’s diet!

For more watermelon ideas, check out this Watermelon-Strawberry Smoothie from Mommy’s Kitchen & this Watermelon Margarita from Presley’s Pantry. Oh, yum!

 3-Ingredient Watermelon Granita

6-8 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of 2 limes
Add your cubed watermelon, sugar, and lime juice to your blender. Blend until smooth. Pour it all into a 9×13 metal pan and freeze for one hour. Using a fork, scrape to loosen the granita. Freeze for another hour and repeat. After it has been frozen for three hours, scrape it once more and then serve in a hollowed watermelon or in cups.

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Berry Pecan Salad With Candied Pecans & Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Berry Pecan Salad With Candied Pecans & Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette

Summer was made for salads.  This month I want to share with you some new salad flavor combinations we have been trying for our family dinners. Today I am sharing a delicious Berry Pecan Salad that is perfect for sharing around the picnic table or at your next cookout. It is my new favorite salad and what makes this salad standout is the homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing, pecans, and the combination of berries.  When I took an enormously large bowl of this to our last cookout, I brought home an empty bowl and a promise to share the recipe.

Berry Pecan Salad from MomAdvice.com.

Where to Buy Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

Since going gluten-free, I have become really diligent about package reading and making sure that I am not eating anything that can make me sick. Many of the bottled dressings are not anything that I can eat or even pronounce. Unfortunately, not all the items I need to create beautiful flavor combinations are necessarily on the grocery store shelves where I shop.

For this dressing recipe, you will need Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar. I went to two grocery stores and wasn’t able to find it so I headed to The Olive Branch, a locally-owned shop that sells olive oils and vinegars. I spent the morning tasting all of these rich balsamic vinegars and learning more about the different flavor notes in each one. I took home a bottle of their Red Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar and couldn’t wait to put it to work in this salad.  You can certainly substitute this homemade version with a bottled dressing, but I promise you that it will lack the depth of flavor and the richness that I was able to achieve with my homemade dressing. Because the dressing is so rich, a small drizzle is all you need to dress your salad bowl.

Candied Nuts

Have you ever candied nuts before?  It is ridiculously easy and you can make a large quantity at one time for your salads.  This recipe calls for just Candied Pecans, but you can add any variety of nuts into your salad that you prefer. Pictured above are my Sugar & Spice Nuts that are always a fun gift to give (and to eat!).  They also are a delicious topper to oatmeal or even bowls of warm quinoa.

For the chicken, I use this technique for cooking chicken in bulk. If you are pressed for time, you can certainly substitute with a rotisserie chicken from your grocer.

To keep this salad vegan, ditch the chicken and replace the egg white in the nut recipe with two to three tablespoons of water and a tablespoon of flax to coat the candied nuts.

To enjoy this salad all week long, prepare it all for the week and consider creating your own DIY Salad Bar in the fridge for easy summer meals after a long day with the kids. Everyone can customize their own salad bowls and you can enjoy that prep work all week long!

I hope this salad inspires you to get creative with your summer salad and I look forward to sharing more fun salad combinations in the upcoming weeks!

Berry Pecan Salad from MomAdvice.com.

 

 

Editor’s Note- Our recipe software is not working this week and we have submitted a support ticket. Please accept our apologies!

A berry pecan salad that is perfect for celebrating the berry season. Enjoy this one at your next potluck or cookout!

Pecan Berry Salad

1 bag of spinach

1 pint of strawberries, sliced

1 pint of blueberries, rinsed

1 pound roast chicken (see technique above or use a rotisserie chicken), sliced

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Pinch of Salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 egg white (see above for vegan substitution)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups pecan halves

1/4 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 tablespoons white sugar (to taste, you may not even need it depending upon the quality of your balsamic vinegar)

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg in a plastic bag, seal the bag, and shake to mix.

Put the egg white and vanilla in a bowl, and beat until slightly foamy.

Add the pecans and stir to coat them well. Using a slotted spoon, lift the pecans out the bowl and transfer them to the bag of sugar and spices. Shake, making sure the pecans are well coated with the seasoning. Spread the pecans out on the prepared baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet.

Assemble the salad: spinach, sliced strawberries, blueberries, roast chicken, and then top with cooled candied pecans. In a mason jar, add the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper, mustard, and sugar. Shake well. Serve on the side for your salad, shaking well before using.

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Serves: 6

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Restaurant Style Steak Recipe

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Restaurant Style Steak Recipe

If there is one thing I love, it is creating a restaurant experience in the comfort of my own home with a price tag that fits our budget.  Father’s Day is just around the corner one way you can really wow those amazing dads in your life is by creating this restaurant style steak recipe for an amazing culinary experience at home.

Walmart wanted me to showcase a fun recipe you could create for Father’s Day and I immediately thought of making Dad a delicious steak dinner. What says I love you more than a delicious New York Strip Steak or a beautiful Filet Mignon?

Today’s post is less recipe and more technique. The truth is, if you have a beautiful cut of meat, the last thing you want to do is mask that delicious flavor. A beautiful steak needs only to be dressed simply with a little oil, salt, pepper, and a butter finish to be more than worthy of your taste buds.

I had hoped to have a beautiful picture tutorial for you, but this steak cooks so quickly that I am going to type out my tips instead. Even with the tomatoes and roasted asparagus as our sides, we still will have dinner ready in about fifteen minutes!  That will be even less time than it would take to haul everyone in the car for a meal out, not to mention the incredible savings you will experience by dining at home.

Here are my personal recommendations for creating that perfect steak for Dad! 

Restaurant Style Steak Recipe

Pick the Right Type of Pan

Since we are need to sear the steak and then finish it in the oven, you want to make sure that you have a pan that can do this task well. I love a good heavy-bottom skillet that does not have a plastic handle or a cast iron skillet for this job. I bought one of these Lodge Logic 12″ cast iron skillets a couple of winters ago and it has been so good to me over the years.  This is definitely a work horse in my kitchen and it is also a great tool to use when outdoor grilling for delicate meats or when mixing up a big batch of fresh veggies so you don’t have to cook in a hot kitchen in the summer. It has truly been the best $20 I have ever spent and I know that you will feel the same way especially after cooking your steaks on it.

Let Your Meat Rest At Room Temperature

It is really important that you don’t put cold meat into your hot pan.  I like to pull my steaks out about thirty minutes before I plan to cook them and leave them on my counter. This helps to heat your steak more evenly and helps prevent the risk of your meat drying out before you have finished cooking it.

Get Your Pan Screaming Hot…Hotter Then You Think

If you want a beautiful sear on your meat, you need to be sure that your skillet is hot enough to add that beautiful caramelization on your meat. Turn your heat up to high with nothing in the pan for at least five minutes. When you place your meat in the pan it should stick and you should hear a nice sizzle on the outside. That’s exactly what you want to hear and see happening to your meat.

Dry & Season Your Meat Well

One of the best tools in your arsenal for creating the perfect steak is a paper towel. If you want a beautiful sear on your meat, you need the meat to be dry and not wet, otherwise you risk just having your meat steam in its own juices rather than sear. Dry the meat with a heavy-duty paper towel and then brush the steak with oil. I love canola oil and then season your meat simply with salt and pepper. Once your pan has to come to that screaming hot phase, drop your seasoned meat into the pan and let it sear for two minutes on each side.

Don’t Move Your Steak

Once you have dropped it in, the first thing I know I want to do is to shift the meat and take a peek at it. Just don’t. Let the meat get the golden sear it needs for two minutes on each side, giving it a beautiful crust on the outside, and keeping your meat perfectly pink on the inside.

Butter Makes Everything Better

A butter finish makes all dishes a little more beautiful, don’t you think? A dab of butter is a beautiful finishing touch to the steak before sliding it into the oven to finish cooking.

Avoid Overcooking

A meat thermometer is your best friend. I still rely on mine for my steaks. I love my steak to be medium rare, but cook it to the consistence that you love the most. Keep in mind that Rare is 120 degrees, Medium is 125 degrees, and Medium Well is 130 degrees.

Always Let Your Meat Rest

If you cut into your meat right when you take it off the pan, chances are that all the juiciness will just pour out on your cutting board or plate. Cover your steak with a little tin foil and let it rest for ten minutes before diving in.  I promise you will have a much more flavorful bite if you just wait the recommended amount of time.

asparagus 2 asparagus 3

I hope these steak tips help you and a great accompaniment to this steak is my Simple Roasted Asparagus. You can slide this in at the same time and temperature as your steaks and it should be ready in 10-12 minutes. I also added a side of the warmed tomatoes from this tomato appetizer we created last week!

Restaurant Style Steak Recipe

Restaurant Style Steak Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A beautiful restaurant-style steak, perfect for celebrating any occasion. Once you follow the tips & techniques for a perfect steak, you will save a bundle on special occasion meals out.
Ingredients
  • 2 (10-ounce) filet mignon (you can double this recipe, just make sure you have a large skillet so all the steaks have room)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and brush them lightly with canola oil. Combine the salt and pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture, pressing lightly to evenly coat all sides.
  4. When the skillet is ready, add the steaks and sear them evenly on all sides for about 2 minutes per side, for a total of 10 minutes.
  5. Top each steak with a tablespoon of butter and place the skillet in the oven. Cook the steaks until they reach 120 degrees F for rare or 125 degrees F for medium-rare on an instant-read thermometer. (To test the steaks, insert the thermometer sideways to be sure you're actually testing the middle of the steak. Mine took 4-5 minutes to come to medium rare)
  6. Remove the steaks to a serving platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

 

 

Looking for more Father’s Day ideas? Check out these Monster Cookie Bars & Monster Printable Cards for Dad, this chalkboard cookie jar you can personalize for your favorite guy, or this beautiful candy bouquet we created for our Dad last year!! Happy Father’s Day!

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