Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category

Healthy Fridge Makeover {& No-Bake Energy Bites}

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Healthy Fridge Makeover_1

As I shared with you, when I attended college I lived on junk & convenience food and I had the inevitable “Freshman 15,” to prove it from my bad eating habits throughout the year. I only wish I knew how great I would have felt and how much better I would have performed if I had stocked my fridge with healthy options.

Now I know that there are healthy ideas for stocking your refrigerator – whether it’s a dorm sized mini-fridge, your first apartment fridge, or the huge family-sized fridge many of us graduate to – and I’m making sure that my kids do know that the foods that are good for your body are easy to keep on hand, too. In this healthy fridge makeover, I’m sharing easy ways to keep good-for-you foods within reach along with a recipe for a quick to make no-bake energy bite that you can mix up in a bowl for easy snacks on-the-go that both kids and adults love.

Healthy Fridge Makeover_2 Eggs- Eggs are the perfect food for starting your day out right or for a healthy late night snack. Did you know that you can prepare an egg easily in the microwave with no special equipment at all? Simply spray or grease a bowl to prepare it and crack two eggs in it with a tablespoon of milk and whisk well with a fork. Place your bowl of eggs in the microwave and cook for one minute. Give it another little scramble with your fork and then cook for thirty second intervals, until your eggs reach the desired consistency. That’s it! Don’t forget that you can add your own fun add-ins to this versatile food like chopped up veggies, cheeses, or meats.

Berries- Berries are a great item to keep on hand to eat as a side, to grab by the handful for a quick snack, mixed in with a cup of Greek yogurt, or as a topper to a bowl of instant oatmeal in the morning. Cut berries can also be added to a water bottle and then allowed to steep overnight to create a healthy & inexpensive infused water.

Veggies- Cut veggies are the perfect item to have on hand for a quick and healthy snack. Some of my favorites for snacking are peppers (in every color), carrot sticks, celery sticks, & cauliflower. Pair these veggies with your favorite dips like a nut butter with celery or dip them in hummus for an easy snack.

Nut Butters & Nuts- Nothing is quicker or easier than keeping a package of nuts on hand for snacking. Did you know that you can even freeze nuts? Grab an extra package and store it in your freezer, up to six months, to make sure they don’t go rancid. Try a new variety like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, or cashews for a little variety. These can also be added to bowls of instant oatmeal in the morning or mixed into a salad for a crunch topping.

Nut butters are great for an accompaniment to celery or cut apples. My own favorite nighttime snack is peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast with a glass of almond milk before I go to bed. It’s a satisfying and inexpensive snack!

Hummus- There are many different flavors and varities now of hummus and it is the perfect snack or spread to add to pitas or even smeared as a topping for your favorite sandwich. My favorite variety is the Red Pepper Hummus with sliced cucumbers or pita for an effortless snack.

String Cheese- String cheese is one of those grab-and-go snacks that I love to keep on hand in our fridge. Chop these up to add to your eggs to add a little cheesiness to your egg dishes without investing in bags of shredded cheese or wrap cheese with whole grain bread and a little deli meat into a “sushi” roll for a quick sandwich that can make lunches special.

No_Bake_Energy_Bites Energy Bites- No-bake energy bites are a fun snack to have on hand when you are craving a treat with a little sweetness. We all adore these at my house! The best part is that they don’t require an oven or mixer, making these an easy treat to make…and to eat! Did I mention it tastes an awful like cookie dough too? Yum!

No_Bake_Energy_Bites_3

No-Bake Energy Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-16 bites
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated.
  2. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  3. Once chilled, simply roll into balls.
  4. Store these in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

No_Bake_Energy_Bites_2

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Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

This was originally published in March of 2013 and goes so well with our focus on health that I thought you’d enjoy it again – it’s one of my favorite ways to start the day!

I’m always looking for filling & satisfying breakfast recipes and these quinoa-berry breakfast bowls fit the bill perfectly. A mixture of quinoa and steel cut oats offer a hearty combination for a breakfast that will fill you up and give you the energy you need to tackle your day.

If you are not familiar with quinoa, you are missing out on a filling and satisfying protein-packed food. Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron. Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, become tender but chewy and expel spirals that boast the slightest crunch. My favorite preparation of this delicious food can be found in my tutorial on how to cook quionoa in your rice cooker.

Steel-cut oats are essential grains which are full of nutritional value, rich in B-vitamins, calcium, protein and fiber while low in sodium and unsaturated fat. In fact, just one cup of steel-cut oats contains 8g of fiber. Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats, the inner portion of the oat kernel, which have been cut into two or three pieces rather than flattened.

With quinoa and steel cut oats in one bowl, you have a winning combination for a great way to start your morning.

Top your quinoa-oat bowls with any of your favorite oatmeal toppings. I love the combination of berries and toasted slivered almonds, but if the pantry is lean that day, I rely on walnuts and dried berries.

I prepared my oats with almond milk, giving it a great calcium boost and it adds even more protein to my breakfast bowl. You can prepare this with whatever your favorite milk is or whatever your family typically drinks.

This makes enough for two large bowls or four smaller bowls. Store leftovers shortly after preparing. The leftovers can be reheated in your microwave and thinned with a little milk.

If you make a double batch, you will have enough for all week long. I prepare these on Saturday mornings when I have a little more time and reap the rewards of my labor throughout the week.

You know the phrase, “a watched pot never boils.” Really, not the case with these. Keep an eye on these all the time and make sure you have a generous pot to prepare them in because these bubble up and boil over pretty easily.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A protein packed breakfast bowl made from quinoa and steel cut oats and topped with fresh berries and nuts.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup steel cut oats
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ cup milk of your choice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Toppings (whatever you favorite topping combination is)
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine steel-cut oats, salt and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes without stirring.
  2. Rinse quinoa well in a fine-mesh sieve.
  3. Drain and add quinoa to the oats, give it a quick stir, then partially cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  4. Add ½ cup milk and add vanilla to your saucepan. Stir gently to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Spoon into a serving bowl and top with remaining milk, maple syrup and toppings.
Recipe Adapted From Camille Styles.

Looking for other great ways to start your day? Be sure to check out my recipe for, “Save Your Green, Green Smoothie.”

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Slow Cooker Creamy Coconut Oatmeal

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

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It’s become an embarrassing pattern of mine to make a resolution every year to be better about eating breakfast. Each time, I start on the path towards healthy eating. However, as life becomes fuller and mornings more hectic, I find that eating a good breakfast often gets pushed to the side.

This year, I discovered how invaluable my slow cooker was in creating a beautiful, hot breakfast for my entire family that I could serve in the morning and enjoy for mornings to come. I could also serve it as a midday pick-me-up or as a healthy late- night snack. The discovery might seem a bit old-fashioned, but a batch of oatmeal is a great way to start the day. This isn’t just any old oatmeal though—this oatmeal is made from delicious steel cut oats.

Today I am sharing a trick to get the creamiest oats ever that will transform your mornings and your life. Did I mention that you don’t even have to clean the slow cooker after you make them? YOU MUST READ THIS!

Join me over on the Kenmore Blog as I share my tips & tricks for a delicious gluten-free and dairy-free slow cooker creamy coconut oatmeal bowl for your busy week!

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How to Make a Breakfast Bar

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

We have come to the age of slumber parties and epic sleepovers in our home. If you were anything like me when I was a child, you just couldn’t wait to wake up and find out what would be for breakfast.  Making a breakfast bar can be a fun way to serve a large group whether it is your child’s birthday or simply an easy way to entertain guests for the morning. I am partnering with Walmart today to show off a cute display for creating a breakfast bar in your home.

My favorite sleepover when I was a kid involved a huge display of toppings for our waffles and pancakes. I remember as a child delighting in all of the options and I still have that delight even as an adult.  Now as mom, I love creating a self-service bar of choices for our meals where everyone can customize their own meals to their own tastes.

Breakfast, in particular, as a buffet is a great idea so that guests can sleep in and then come and create their breakfast whenever they are ready, eliminating the need for you to all be around the table at the same exact time.

Even on busy school mornings, I find that this option would work beautifully since we all arrive at the table at different times. By prepping the toppings ahead, you can save time in the morning and really enjoy that cup of coffee.

Here are some of my suggestions for creating a beautiful and easy breakfast bar spread!

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

Make Serving Easy With Scoops & Trifle Bowls

Ditch the cereal boxes for an elegant display utilizing clear glass trifle bowls and an inexpensive all-purpose scoop. Give your guests choices by providing more than one selection of cereal.

 

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

Create a Simple Toppings Bar

I love to provide a variety of toppings so everyone can make their bowl their own. Fresh strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries can be a wonderful fresh topper. Dried fruits, slivered almonds, or crunchy walnuts can also add variety to your toppings bar. Make an easy batch of granola (I love this vanilla-scented granola or this easy honey nut granola) and add this to the mix for another crunchy layer. Remember to take advantage of what fruits are in-season to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

Add a Gluten-Free Option

As someone who is gluten-free, I love when there are options for me. Yogurt can be a delicious option and give your guests a chance to also create their own bowl utilizing the delicious toppings you have provided for your breakfast buffet. I like to keep small bowls handy to pour the yogurt out into and giving me room to really layer on the fruit, nut, and granola toppings, just as I would do with cereal. Make sure that you are using gluten-free oats if making your own granola or purchase gluten-free prepared granola if purchasing them.

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

Make a Pretty Display

If there is one investment that I am glad I have made over the years, it has been in classic white dishes. Display your toppings in pretty bowls and add an inexpensive bouquet of flowers to the center of your breakfast bar. Even if the ingredients are not all homemade, you can still make things feel pretty and upscale with a few inexpensive additions and beautiful plating.

How to Make a Breakfast Bar from MomAdvice.com

I hope these ideas inspired you for your breakfast. Whether it is a weekday rush or a leisurely morning with out-of-town guests, the breakfast bar can be an easy way to serve a meal!

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Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Morning Buns

Friday, December 12th, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Rolls Recipe A recipe for gluten-free breakfast rolls with cranberries and an orange-infused sugar swirl and icing that drips between the cracks and glazes deep into the seams.

Last winter my mother-in-law was diagnosed with celiac disease. As she faced uncertainty in feeding herself after a lifetime of from-scratch baking with wheat flour, I wanted to show her how this wheat-free life could taste delicious, too. My very first step was to hand off a bucket and dough whisk and a collection of gluten-free recipes. I talked to my friend, Zoe, who was up to her eyeballs in recipe testing for her new gluten-free cookbook, and I tried as much as I could to encourage my mother-in-law, Kathleen, to get back into the habit of baking with new flours and textures.

When visiting for the holidays, Kathleen always had breakfast breads waiting for us as we tumbled out of bed to the table. These rolls, filled with a citrus-filled sugar and a bit of spice, are for her this holiday season. A gluten-free breakfast bread that will warm the house and make your tongue sing.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Rolls Recipe

The recipe uses the brioche dough from the recently released Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the book Zoe was working on so many months ago. I purchased a copy for my mother-in-law and went about sampling everything I could before gifting it to her. Our family is especially fond of the brioche doughnuts. You can check out an apple cider version of the recipe on their website. The book makes a wonderful gift this season for any gluten-free family member or friend looking to reclaim a comforting breakfast bread or just to have a baguette to dip into their soup.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Morning Buns
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 2 cups Gluten-Free All-purpose Flour Mix (*below)
  • 4½ cups cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons xantham gum or psyllium husk
  • 1 tablespoon granulated yeast
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2¼ cups warm milk (100ºF)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the sugar swirl and glaze (triple to use all the dough at once):
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup confectioners' sugar
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, cornstach, xantham gum, yeast, and salt. Add in the milk, eggs, honey, melted butter, and the vanilla with the paddle attachment. Allow the dough to rise, lightly covered, for two hours.
  2. Place the risen dough in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours and up to five days.
  3. When ready to make the rolls, remove the dough from the refrigerator and dust with rice flour. Split into thirds. Take one-third of the dough to make rolls. The remaining dough can be held in the refrigerator or frozen for up to 3 weeks until ready to use (or you could make it all into rolls for a party).
  4. Lightly flour your work surface with rice flour. Press the dough into a ¼" thick rectangle. Mix together the ½ cup granulated sugar, orange zest, and the cardamom. Sprinkle evenly over the dough, sprinkle the cranberries on top of the sugar. Roll the dough into a log, pinching the seam closed.
  5. Cut the log into 2" pieces and arrange in a greased baking dish. (I used a 4-quart baking dish.) Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until rolls are golden brown.
  7. To glaze, mix together the confectioners' sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of orange juice until a smooth consistency is reached. Drizzle over the warm buns.
Notes
Brioche dough and flour from Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoe Francois.

 *GF All-Purpose Flour Mix:

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
Author: 
Recipe type: bread
 
Ingredients
  • 6 cups white rice flour
  • 3¼ cups sorghum flour
  • 1¾ cups tapioca flour or starch
  • 1¼ cups potato starch
  • ¼ cup xantham gum or psyllium husk powder
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all the ingredients until. thoroughly combined.

 

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How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship

Monday, December 1st, 2014

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

*This post is sponsored by Walmart

I have had my calendar booked forever for Peter Pan Live! ever since I heard it was the next live theater production to hit television. Did you hear that it is coming to NBC on Thursday, December 4 at 8/7c? The cast includes several of my favorites like Allison Williams, Christopher Walken, Christian Borle and Minnie Driver. In honor of the film, I have crafted up a watermelon boat that you can share with your kids for your family night together. This fun food craft can be created together, adding your own personal pirate touches, or you can create it to surprise the kids for your family night.

Not many people know this, but I did theatre for many years and my favorite type of shows to do were musicals. My love for this started in high school and I took a year off in between high school and college to do more shows. In fact, I even did a show when I was pregnant with my son.  Thankfully, it was of an era with empire waists and flowing Victorian clothing. I miss it a lot and that is, perhaps, why I appreciate the opportunity to catch any production that I can. I also appreciate any opportunity I can get to expose my children to the arts and it is why I put a big significance on this in our home. Not everyone can afford a ticket to see a show and I love that this is an affordable way to enjoy the arts as a family.

Without further adieu, let’s create a fun pirate ship for your family night!

Supplies Needed

1 watermelon

1 pint blueberries

1 pint strawberries

1 pound grapes

1 sharp knife

cutting board

1 piece of cardstock

5 paper straws (I found these in the party supplies aisle)

1 hole punch

1 pair of scissors

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

 

Directions for Watermelon Pirate Ship

1. To help your boat sit upright, slice very thinly the end off of the bottom of the watermelon, making sure not to puncture your watermelon so it can act as a boat for your fruit.

2.  Slice the top half of your watermelon off. Set aside.

3. Using a melon baller, remove the meat of your watermelon. If you do not have a melon baller, you can score the watermelon into chunks and glide your knife all around watermelon to help create the shape of your chunks. Use a spoon to then scoop out the squares of melon. Ideally though, a melon baller makes quick work for your fruit salad.

4. Once the melon is completely hollowed out, slice your fruit and place it inside of your bowl, weaving in your watermelon, to create your fruit salad.

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

5. Now we can make our sails for our ship. Cut out five squares from a single piece of cardstock, any size you wish. I just cut out one square and used it as a template to create the rest of my sails. These do not have to be perfect, in fact, if they are imperfect they look like they are waving a bit in the breeze.

6. Using a hole punch, punch out a punch near the top of the square and then near the bottom to create a place for our straws to slide through. I stacked them all together and then punched them all at once so they would look more uniform.

7.  You will then need to cut your straws are varying sizes. I did one long straw, two medium, and then two short.  Slide the straw through making sure that the straw is peeking out of the back and not the front of that pretty white sail.

How to Make a Watermelon Pirate Ship from MomAdvice.com.

We hope you love this craft we created in honor of  Peter Pan Live! and we hope you can catch the show with us!  You can learn more about this amazing production here! We can’t wait and hope this idea inspires you for your family night together!

xo

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Eating Well During the Holidays: Light Cranberry Bar Recipe

Monday, November 24th, 2014

*This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am very passionate about good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. You may not know that I actually went to school to study to be a dietician so I could help others eat and live better too. Although I never dreamed this would be my job, I am thankful for that background when putting together recipes for our site. I have come a long way over the years toward living a healthier lifestyle. I actually starting eating better because my body was indicating to me that something just wasn’t right after discovering I have a sensitivity to gluten. The other reason is how much better I feel when I eat well and exercise.

Today I am partnering with Celestial Seasoning Tea to share some ways that I try to stay on track for the holidays. You may not have considered tea a delicious (and healthy!) holiday indulgence, but they actually have 8 holiday offerings that include my new favorite Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Black Tea, Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea, and Caramel Apple Dream that would all be lovely offerings for a post Thanksgiving feast treat.

Looking to stay on track for the holidays? Try these ideas!

Eating Well During the Holidays

Get in a Good Walk Before or After Your Feast

As you know I am absolutely obsessed with my Fitbit and we even shared a great way you can glam it up for the holidays.  Tracking my steps each day has been a great reminder to keep active and moving throughout the day. Whether you have a Fitbit, a pedometer, or use an app on your cell phone, try making a step goal for the day and get your steps in before or after your holiday feasts.

Many gyms offer a modified schedule for holidays for die-hard exercise enthusiasts (or just those of us who want to indulge in an extra slice or two of pie). Consider tackling a class in the morning, challenging your family to a game of flag football after your feast, or taking a family walk together after your dessert.
Eating Well During the Holidays

Eat Before You Eat

Since I have to be careful about what I eat for dietary reasons, I often eat before I head to a gathering because I know that many of the foods offered will leave me sick and feeling lethargic.  Consider indulging in a healthy meal or snack before heading out to your holiday gatherings that will help fill you up on the good stuff and give your stomach less room to indulge.

I like to keep a bag of spinach and roasted chicken or roasted turkey in my fridge for a quick salad with a few vegetable or fruit additions from the crisper drawer. Having a few items like these on hand during the holiday season will help you to eat healthy between the rush of holiday errands and gatherings. I have never regretted the time spent chopping and preparing my DIY salad bar for busy weeks.

Offer To Bring a Dish

I always offer to bring a dish to family gatherings that I know that I can eat and snack on. Opt for healthy options like a vegetable tray for snacking with a low-calorie dip or a fruit salad that can be a dessert replacement. Consider a lightened up holiday recipe as a dish to bring like these delicious Cranberry-Oatmeal Bars that can be enjoyed without the guilt.

Instead of coffee drowning in creamer opt to enjoy this sweet dessert with a tea that compliments it well. For these bars, I recommend the Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea or, another one of my personal favorites, Gingerbread Spice.

Light Gluten-Free Cranberry Bars

Indulge Moderately

Even I can’t shy away from the dessert table around the holidays, but there are definitely fun, light desserts you can share in lieu of the calorie-laden pie.  To inspire you, here is a delicious Cranberry-Oatmeal Bar you can make for a sweet treat to enjoy with your cup of tea. May I recommend the Celestial Seasonings Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland Herbal Tea as an accompaniment?  It is a perfect pairing!  The best part, each bar is only 133 calories and has just 4.6 grams of fat.

Light Gluten-Free Cranberry Bars

Eating Well During the Holidays: Light Cranberry Bar Recipe
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
A lighter dessert option for the holiday season best paired with a cup of tea.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free quick-cooking oats
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar $
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • Cooking spray
  • FILLING: 1⅓ cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces) $
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. To prepare crust, weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle butter and juice over flour mixture, stirring until moistened (mixture will be crumbly). Reserve ½ cup oat mixture. Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray using the bottom of a measuring cup to create a cohesive crust.
  3. To prepare filling, combine cranberries, sour cream, granulated sugar, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spread cranberry mixture over prepared crust; sprinkle reserved oat mixture evenly over filling.
  4. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

 

*This post is sponsored by Celestial Seasonings. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Homemade Pork Potstickers

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

From our food contributor, Shaina Olmanson.

Homemade Pork Potstickers Recipe

One of my children’s favorite things to order when we go out for sushi is a plate of potstickers to enjoy while we watch the sushi chef in his tall paper hat roll out or rice and seaweed and tuck pink-fleshed fish inside. They are second only to sushi itself in my children’s eyes.

While your children may not be on the same sushi train as mine, potstickers are rather universally delicious. A two-bite dumpling with a salty pork meatball tucked inside. But why wait until you head out to enjoy them when they can be made at home?

Homemade Pork Potstickers Recipe

Once you get the hang of getting potstickers unstuck from the pot, there’s little stopping you from making your own all the time. We like to have a potsticker party, filling and crimping as many as possible, and then freezing them for use later as a quick and easy treat, nearly as easy as heading to our favorite restaurant.

Pulled from the freezer and cooked up on the spot, these meatball-filled dumplings make a wonderful lunch option when paired with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.

Homemade Potstickers
Author: 
Recipe type: appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 1 cup finely shredded Napa cabbage
  • ¼ cup shredded carrot
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 30 potsticker wrappers
  • ¼ cup frying oil of choice
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, cabbage, carrot, onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg, salt and the black pepper.
  2. Place a small bowl of water near your work surface. Cover the potsticker wrappers with a damp cloth to prevent them drying out.
  3. Place a rounded teaspoon of the pork filling into the center of the wrapper. Lightly wet the edge of the wrapper, and then using your thumb and finger, fold pleats into the dumpling, starting at the center and going towards the cents to form a crescent shape.
  4. Set the filled dumplings on a baking sheet or cutting board, covered with a damp cloth. Continue until all the filling has been used.
  5. To cook, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a 10" non-stick skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add about 6 dumplings to the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour in ¼ cup of water, cover, and allow the potstickers to steam for 5-6 minutes, until they are cooked through. and golden brown on the bottoms. Remove the lid and allow the steam to cook off, shaking the pan lightly to encourage the potstickers to dislodge themselves from the pan bottom. Serve warm.

Homemade Pork Potstickers Recipe

 

 

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Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Monday, October 20th, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

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

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

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

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com

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

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herbal Tea

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

Black Tea

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

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

White Tea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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