Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category

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 CreamRoasted 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 FlavorPrintAfter 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.comRecipe 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.

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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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5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm!

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com The U-Pick Season has begun. It’s during this time of the year that my entire family gets excited to hit the u-pick farms and indulge in the juiciest, sweetest candy that we’ve been dreaming about since the summer before. You see, in my family we intentionally eat fresh fruit in its season. Sure, we can buy fresh berries in the winter months, but they’re void of flavor and anything good that it was created to have. So instead we wait patiently, salivating for that first juicy bite of the sweetest strawberry picked in June. 5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com Or the pucker of a tart cherry, ready to be made perfectly sweet when made into pies or  jam. 5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com As the strawberries dwindle down from large, juicy berries that can fit into the palm of your hand to the smallest of cones, still sweet and great for jam, blueberries and raspberries surge into season in the sweltering heat of July and August. 5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com Again, my family hits the u-pick farms to gather as many buckets of fruit that we can that will eventually be made into jam, pies, and sprinkled in our pancakes throughout the winter. As much as we enjoy the flavors in freshly picked fruit grown locally by family farmers, we really enjoy that we not only save money by picking our own fruit and purchasing it in bulk but also that we’re able to get the following 5 things for FREE. 

1. You Can Get a FREE Sense of Community!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com To my family, community is important. Supporting one another in our endeavors and celebrating with each other in everything good that nature provides teaches us to respect and be mindful of creation and in each other.

2. You Can Capture FREE Memories That Will Last a Lifetime!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com One of the things that I most enjoy about heading out to the u-pick farms is the opportunity to spend intentional time with my family. As most children do, they come up with their own stories, their own thoughts on what they can make with the fruits of their labor, and all sorts of other sweet sayings that I’ve been able to capture in my memory… forever.

3. You Can Get a FREE Family Outing with FREE Berries As You Pick!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com Visiting a u-pick farm with your family makes a great FREE outing. The kids have fun and what they enjoy the most is being able to eat berries as they pick. Now, I’m not sure exactly what the written rule is about eating while you’re picking but seriously, when you have kids, it’s going to happen… and they’re going to love it!

4. You Can Get a Tan and a Great Workout for FREE!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com It’s true, you can get a free tan and great workout while picking fruit. Squats while your picking, heavy buckets and trays filled with fruit works the biceps, and on top of that, you’ll be doing a lot of walking up and down rows. After an hour, I’d say you just had a great workout and you’ll be tan to boot!

5. You Can Get a FREE Therapy Session!

5 Things You Can Get for FREE at a U-Pick Farm! | momadvice.com There is nothing that relaxes me more than being outdoors in the natural world. Visiting a u-pick farm can be meditative and therapeutic and in my opinion, is a great way to de-stress from the busyness in our lives. I’ve been known to leave the kids with a sitter in order to pick some berries alone to unwind and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet while picking berries for my family. In order to find a local u-pick farm near you, visit localharvest.org or visit your farmers market and ask some of the local vendors. I’m sure they’ll be able to steer you in the right direction.

Have you ever visited a u-pick farm? Tell me, what’s your favorite fruit to pick at u-pick farms.

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Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

Tomatoes are one of my favorite summer foods and I try to incorporate them into almost every dish we eat. The fresh burst of flavor compliments just about any dish whether it is a garnish to our favorite pasta dishes, a fresh sauce, or a flavorful addition to our summer salads.  When I was pregnant, it was the food that I most craved with a drizzle of olive oil, a generous shake of salt, with a red wine vinegar finish. Although I am far from those years in my life, it is still my favorite summer craving.

Each month Walmart challenges me to create something in my kitchen with an item from their produce department. Today’s piece is dedicated to the fun varieties of tomatoes you can find in their produce department.

Cherry Tomatoes

We can all get in a rut when it comes to selecting our produce, myself included. Although I am a fan of my cherry red tomatoes, I incorporated some of these delicious yellow tomatoes into my dish today to add even more color to this easy summer appetizer.  I love to challenge myself to try the new varieties of fruits and vegetables out there and, especially this time of year, there is always so much to love!

Grilled Tomato Bread with ProsciuttoGrilled Tomato Bread with ProsciuttoGrilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

Today’s recipe is for a very simple Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto that requires just a few ingredients and can all be done out on your grill.

Have you ever grilled tomatoes before? It adds a layer of smokiness to the tomatoes, warming them and bursting the skins to create a sauciness to the bread.  I found this recipe that Bobby Flay created and he recommends grilling the tomatoes on high heat, until they are charred. I prefer a gentler heat with less charring, but I think that is a matter of one’s own personal taste. I recommend getting one of these grilling baskets for your veggies (and fish!) or purchasing a package of disposable grill pans for preparing these tomatoes all summer long. Not only are they delicious on top of bread, but grilled tomatoes can be flavored with any variety of herb in your garden or spiced up with your favorite dried spices and stand alone as a side dish with your favorite grilled meats!

Grilled Tomato Bread with ProsciuttoEven though the recipe calls for a loaf of crusty French Bread, I also toasted up some gluten-free bread for myself so I could enjoy this appetizer with the family. If you want to keep it fancy, purchase a gluten-free baguette, but I found that with so many flavors in this appetizer, that my regular loaf helps hold this appetizer together and offered a sturdy base for my overflowing of tomato topping.

Although the ingredient list couldn’t be simpler- cherry tomatoes, ricotta cheese, a fresh loaf of bread, prosciutto, and a little lemon juice, this appetizer is both impressive and satisfying. The saltiness from the meat balances the acidity from the tomatoes & lemons, while also incorporating the sweetness of the tomato with the creaminess of  the cheese. We paired this with our favorite red wine, but it would also pair beautifully with a glass of sangria or a mojito for a lighter combination.

No need to heat up the kitchen for this summer appetizer and it is a beautiful one to create for your next barbecue and shared with friends & family!

Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto

Grilled Tomato Bread with Prosciutto
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
An easy and impressive appetizer that you can create entirely on the grill!
Ingredients
  • Cherry Tomatoes (in red & yellow), total of one pint
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 slices French bread, sliced ½-inch thick slices (can substitute with gluten-free bread)
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 12 slices prosciutto
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • Basil for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat grill to medium heat.
  2. Toss tomatoes in oil and season with salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Place on the grill in a grilling basket and grill until softened, turning a few times, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove to a bowl.
  5. Crush the garlic with a little salt to form a paste and add to the bowl with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
  6. Brush bread with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and place on the grill. Grill the bread until lightly golden brown on both sides, about 20 seconds per side.
  7. Combine the ricotta with a little olive oil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mound some of the tomato mixture on the bread. Lay prosciutto on top. Dollop with some ricotta mixture and garnish with lemon juice squeezed over the top.

 Adapted from Food Networkwalmart_mom_disclaimer
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