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Appetizers For Your #HolidayMenu

18 Dec

The Holidays are here and the New Year will be here shortly after. It’s time for parties, family gatherings and lots of Holiday cooking.  I recently had the opportunity to work with California EndivesNudo Olive Oil, and Rios de Chile Wine to come up with some starters for the Holiday season.

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Endive is a great alternative to bread, chips, and crackers.  Because our Holiday meals are so heavy, having a lighter/ low carb starter is a great alternative to loading up on chips and dip.  There are endless ways to use endive. You can put them in a salad, spread your favorite dip on them, or “stuff” them.  These two starters will please your guests this Holiday season:

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Endive Stuffed With Cranberry, Quinoa, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese

This recipe is so simple to make.  Chop butternut quash into small cubes.  Make the quinoa according to instructions however use chicken stock instead of water to give it added flavor. While the quinoa is cooking, use a little Nudo Olive Oil, water, and fresh garlic to saute the butternut squash, cover for a bit to cook.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Once the quinoa and butternut squash are finished cooking, mix together in a bowl, adding in the cranberries and goat cheese.  Spoon into an endive leaf and plate. Drizzle a little Nudo Olive Oil on top and enjoy.

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Taco Endive Boats With Sriracha Sour Cream:

Another easy recipe and I had most of the ingredients at home already.  Cook ground turkey with fresh garlic, onion, cayenne pepper & a bit of Nudo Olive Oil. While cooking, chop avocado into small cubes. When the meat is done cooking, mix in corn and cheddar cheese.  Spoon into endive leaves and top with avocado. In a small dish (I used an egg cup), mix sour cream & sriracha to taste.  Spoon a small amount of sriracha sour cream on your “taco boat” and enjoy. These are also perfect for football Sundays.

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Once your appetizers are complete, set out on your table and enjoy with a glass of Rios de Chile Sauvignon Blanc.

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Click here for more great endive recipes!

About California Endive: Endive is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, frisee and curly endive. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness — great served raw or cooked.  Click the image to learn more.

About  Nudo Olive Oil: Ideal for drizzling, dipping and holiday cooking. Nudo Olive Oils are produced in the Marche region of Italy so it is easy to impress your guests with the freshness and flavor of 100% Italian olives.  Click here for more information or to order.

About Rios de Chile Sauvignon Blanc ($10):  It comes from the Central Valley Region of Chile.  Tasting notes say that it is a very fresh wine with an intense aroma of tropical fruits with fine mineral notes and citrus accents.  It has a lively palate and pleasing finish.  I am no wine expert which is why I used the tasting notes.  I really enjoyed the taste and thought it was refreshing, especially after being in a hot kitchen.

 

Happy, Healthy Eating This Holiday Season!

 

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  I received samples of products to come up with sides or starters for the Holiday season.  All images unless noted are my own.  All information in italics came from the home site linked in the about sections or from press.

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How I Got My Daughter To Try Zucchini and Zucchini Noodle Dishes I Love

8 Oct

 

I never thought I would be able to get my girls to eat zucchini.  Not long ago my mom gave me a Veggetti™ Spiral Vegetable Cutter. It’s been the best gift.  It turns Veggies into thick or thin “spaghetti” noodles.  I use it almost every day for lunch and dinner, mostly with Zucchini. One day my youngest, who won’t touch zucchini when its cut into chips or sticks, saw me eating the Zucchini Noodles. She loved zucchini noodles. She prefers the simple version with olive oil, garlic, salt and a little parmesan cheese or in vodka sauce.

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Below are some of my favorite creations that I put together using simple ingredients:

Simple; with olive oil, salt, garlic.  Topped with parmesan cheese.

Simple; with olive oil, salt, garlic. Topped with parmesan cheese.

 

Sautee noodles with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red onion, adding tomatoes at the end.  Top with feta cheese.

Sautee noodles with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red onion, adding tomatoes at the end. Top with feta cheese.

Sautee with chile olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper, adding heirloom tomatoes a few minutes later.  Top with goat cheese.

Sautee with chile olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper, and carrots. Add heirloom tomatoes a few minutes later. Top with goat cheese.

Zucchini Noodles topped with Whole Foods pre-made Eggplant Balls that were simmered in Cucina Antica Vodka sauce.  One of my favorites.

Zucchini Noodles topped with Whole Foods pre-made Eggplant Balls that were simmered in Cucina Antica Vodka sauce. One of my favorites.

Sautee Zucchini Noodles with salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed red pepper.  Heat two Whole Foods ready-made Turkey Balls and mix in.  Top with parmesan cheese.

Sautee Zucchini Noodles with salt, pepper, olive oil, crushed red pepper. Heat two Whole Foods ready-made Turkey Balls and mix in. Top with parmesan cheese.

 

Cook Pancetta and roast butternut squash first.  Cook Zucchini Noodles.  Add pancetta and butternut squash, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic. Top with goat cheese.

Cook Pancetta and roast butternut squash first. Cook Zucchini Noodles. Add pancetta and butternut squash, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic. Top with goat cheese.

 

 Veggetti™ is available at Bed, Bath, & Beyond for $14.99.  It is top rack, dishwasher safe

Disclaimer:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  I am not a professional chef by any means but I love mixing simple ingredients together to come up with something delicious.  I also love to share products that help my girls eat more vegetables.  I’m still working getting my oldest to try them because I know she will like them if she does.

 

 

 

 

Celebrating National Strawberry Shortcake Day with a Party @driscollsberry #StrawShortcake

10 Jun

National Strawberry Shortcake Day is June 14th.  Did you know that the first ever shortcake recipe was printed in an english cookbook in 1588?  In the 1850’s Strawberries were added to the delicious shortcake.  Since then, there have been several variations of one of America’s favorite desserts with whipped cream added to the sweet treat in 1910.  

Images from Driscolls

Images from Driscoll’s

 

Our refrigerator is always stocked with Driscoll’s Strawberries.  It was hard pass up the opportunity to celebrate National Strawberry Shortcake Day with Driscoll’s.  When I asked my 5-year-old daughter how we could celebrate, naturally she said “with a party”.   We started the planning process and decided to keep it simple and invite a few neighbors. We looked through recipes and looked at the history to find out which variation we wanted to make.  Growing up in the 1980’s, angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberries was very popular and the only version I remember having as a child.  I told her it was my favorite summer dessert and my brother had it at everyone of her birthdays.  She decided we should try my childhood favorite.

A few days before the party, we went to a friends bake sale.  My daughter saw ice cream cone cupcakes there.  She decided she wanted her strawberry shortcake in a cone. I suggested making cupcakes to in case some of the adults or kids didn’t want a cone. On the day of the party, we were about to fill our the cones and cupcake liners with angel food cake when she decided to add strawberries to the batter to “surprise” her friends.  Together we came up our own variation called Strawberry Shortcake Surprise, Any Way You Like (recipe below) in which guests could choose how they wanted their cake and what would go on it.

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What you will need:

Ingredients:

  • Boxed Angel Food Cake or try this recipe on Driscoll’s
  • Package of Ice Cream Cones
  • 1 container Driscoll’s  Strawberries (available at Whole Foods)
  • 1 can Whipped Cream (We used Whole Foods 365)
  • Strawberry Ice Cream
  • “Surprise” Toppings: My girls favorites are strawberries, rainbow sprinkles, and Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

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Directions:

  1. Lay aluminum foil over half of the cupcake pan.  Cut slits in the aluminum to place ice cream cone.  Line the remaining cupcake spots.
  2. Let your child(ren) help by slicing or chopping the strawberries using a Curious Chef Knife or mixing the Angel Food Cake ingredients together.
  3. Fill cupcakes and cones with cake batter and strawberries.  Bake for 12-15, times will vary so make sure to check occasionally.
  4. Clean up and set the table for the party.
  5. Place Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, Cupcakes, Ice Cream Cones, “Surprise” Toppings, Aladdin Mason cup(s) or bowels on the tables.
  6. Let your little guests get creative and create their very own Strawberry Shortcake Surprise. Strawberry ice cream was added too the cones, topped by whipped cream and delicious toppings while cupcakes were eaten with whipped cream and fresh strawberries or were placed in a mason and layered with with the ice cream, whipped cream, and other toppings.

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A party wouldn’t be complete without decorations and activities.  To let our neighbors know where the party was, my daughter made a sign on her boogie board and stuck it on the door.  When my girls hear Strawberry Short Cake, they think of their favorite show and the adorable characters.  We used our Strawberry Short Cake Berry Bitty Clubhouse on the table for decoration which the kids had fun playing with after.  The next activity was, pin the strawberry on the shortcake.  I printed a blank cake my daughter colored in.  Each child picked a Peaceable Kingdom Scratch and Sniff Strawberry Sticker and took their turn to get it on the cake.  It was a blast.

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The next variation of Strawberry Shortcake we make will be  Dorrie Greenspans Strawberry Mouse Shortcake (below).  Check out her story and connection to Strawberry Shortcake on Driscoll’s.

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Image from Driscoll’s

For more great recipes visit http://www.driscolls.com/recipes.  Follow the celebration with @driscollsberry on twitter and instagram using #StrawShortcake!

Click the Image to ENTER for a chance to win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer & a year of berries

Click the Image to ENTER for a chance to win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer & a year of berries

Happy National Strawberry Shortcake Day 2014!

Happy National Strawberry Shortcake Day 2014!

Disclaimer:  I received coupons and a gift card to Whole Foods to use towards our celebration with Driscoll’s  All ideas and opinions expressed are my own.  Information in italics are from Driscoll’s.

 

 

Happy Valentine’s Day and Last Minute Snack Ideas for After School #ValentinesDay

14 Feb

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My girls were so excited for today! They have been making Valentine’s for weeks now and trying to figure out what they were going to get their dad!  The girls woke up to a Frozen themed Valentine’s Day gift, Anna and Elsa swimsuits, and FunBites Heart Pancakes!  Then off to school the went for endless lollipops, candy and treats from the school bake sale, what’s not to love!

During the week, the girls and I tried different Valentine’s snacks for after school!  They are so simple, you could run out or pick up the ingredients on your way home but you probably have them already!

“Berry Banana’s for You” smoothie:

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  • 1 plain non-fat Fage Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Banana
  • A handful of Strawberries, cut
  • 3 Strawberry Peeps Marshmallows (I got the idea to use Peeps in a Smoothie after a Holiday event I attended!)
  • a handful of ice

Blend all ingredients but only use 2 peeps  until consistency you like.  Slide the third Peeps Strawberry Heart trough a straw, use gel icing to write a message! Serve and enjoy!

Valentine’s Fruit Tray

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  • Grapes
  • Driscoll’s Strawberries
  • Cabot Sharp White Cheddar Cheese Single

Use a gel icing writer to outline the shape of a heart on a serving dish!  Place grapes on the gel icing!  Once the heart outline is complete, fill with strawberries.  Finish by using a knife to cut an XO out of a piece of Cabot Sharp White Cheddar Cheese single!

Trick-or-Treat, Give Me Something COOL to Drink… (Cool Gear Halloween Giveaway)

22 Sep

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Happy First Day of Autumn!  Although, we are sad summer is over, the crisp fall air is refreshing and it means time for pumpkin picking and Halloween.  My girls are anxiously awaiting Halloween!  They started planning their costumes over the summer and are already making plans with friends for Halloween night!

We recently received a Cool Gear Inc 14 oz Light Up Skull Mug and set of Glow Eyeball Ice Cubes.  My daughter opened it immediately and wanted to leave a “spooky” drink in the fridge for her dad when he came home from work.  We looked in the fridge and came up with “The Eye Socket” (below).  The mug features a flashing light that is turned on and off with a button on the bottom and the eyeballs glow once they are charged with light, adding extra festive fun perfect for night.

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Our favorite berries are Driscoll’s

We have made this drink several times, and every time my girls enjoy it.  It makes about 2 servings.  They enjoy measuring and mixing the ingredients themselves.  They also love smashing the blueberries.  We plan on having a few friends over for pizza before trick-or-treating and will be serving this fun Halloween drink!  DSC_0994

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Another Fall favorite is Apple Cider.  Our favorite apple cider is  from Red Jacket Orchards, found at Whole Foods.  I received a sample of SINFIRE Cinnamon Whiskey from Hood River Distillers not long ago, and decided it might be a good combination.  It sure was tasty.  A great drink to cozy up and relax with after the kids are in bed.  An easy drink to have at an adult Halloween party.  Serve it in this awesome mug and keep it cool with the eyeball ice cubes to “light-up” your night!

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Make this Halloween extra “Spooktacular” for you and your kids and enter to win a Cool Gear Light Up Mug and set of Glow Eyeball Ice cubes by clicking the link HERE!  Giveaway ends on 9/30/2013 at 11:59 p.m.

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More information about the products  below:

Image from Cool Gear Inc

Please note that these eyeball ice cubes are intended for adult use.  My girls asked to use them in their drinks and I explained the cubes were for their cups and not to be put in their mouths.  Because of their size and shape, they could be a choking hazard.  If you choose to use these eyeballs, supervision is required. Image/ Information from Cool Gear

Image/ Information from Cool Gear

Image/ Information from Cool Gear

Disclaimer:  I received a Light Up Skull Mug and set of Glow Eyeball Cubes for this review.  All photos, recipes, and opinions, unless noted, are my own and require permission if used on another site.

Tasty Tuesday: Crazy About Quinoa (Recipe)!

25 Jun

20130625-160024.jpgI recently discovered I love quinoa. My husband bought a giant bag at Costco one weekend and we have tried to come up with different dishes to use it up. I also love Mexican and crave it often. To satisfy my crave and use up that bag, I came up with an alternative that wasn’t loaded down with cheese and is easy to throw together on those busy evenings.
Ingredients:

  • Red Quinoa
  • Vegetable or Chicken Broth
  • Chile Olive Oil (I used Ah Love Oil)
  • Red and Green bell pepper (diced)
  • Yellow Onion (diced)
  • Fresh Garlic clove
  • Chile powder
  • Can of Corn
  • Can of black beans
  • Cherry or grape tomoatoes (cut in half)
  • Avocado
  • Low far Sour Cream
  • Lime

Here’s how to make it:

  • Follow cooking instructions for Quinoa using 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup broth and 1 cup water.
  • Sauté peppers and onion in chile olive oil. Add chile powder, salt, pepper, and crushed garlic to taste ( I didn’t measure) continue to sauté until desired texture.
  • Meanwhile, drain corn and black beans.
  • Slice avocado
  • Place a serving of quinoa on a dish. Top with sautéed peppers and onions, corn, black beans, tomatoes and avocado. Add a little sour cream and squeeze lime all over.
  • Enjoy!

The dish was a hit with my husband and have made it several times since my first trial run. It makes a lot so you can take it for lunch the next day or use the left over ingredients to create a new dish or use in a salad.

Fun Food Friday: Flower Power

14 Jun

My girls are all about flowers. When we walk by the neighborhood garden, my oldest stops to see if any new flowers have bloomed. She is currently doing a gardening unit at school and is going to be a flower girl in a wedding this weekend so her interest has peaked even more recently. Every time we go to Whole Foods, both of my girls want to pick out fresh flowers for our apartment, which I don’t mind because fresh flowers always brighten up the place. We were home one rainy day when I decided we needed “flowers” for lunch to make the dull day a little brighter. We also talked about what my oldest was learning at school and her upcoming role as a flower girl.
I made due with what we had in our refrigerator and freezer but there ate many ways to alter the meal. How I made it:
Flower Pedals: round spinach and cheese ravioli
“Stigma”: halved cherry tomatoes, could also use halved meatballs
Stem and Leaves: sliced cucumber
For the leaves you can also use fresh basil.
You can also add Blueberries at the bottom of the “stem” to make it look like “dirt”.

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Have a Happy Friday!

National Blueberry Pancake Day!

28 Jan

Today is National Blueberry Pancake Day!  Cooking activities are an excellent way to keep kids busy on cold, rainy or snowy days like today.  Whip up some blueberry pancake (a few recipes below) with your child and eat them for lunch, snack, dinner, dessert or save them for breakfast tomorrow.

Blueberry Pancake Fun!

Blueberry Pancake Fun!

A few recipes:

1. Keep it Simple Blueberry Pancakes:  Perfect for when you are in a rush or need a simple activity for young children.  For 5 pancakes: Use  1 cup Aunt Jemima’s Original Complete Mix, 3/4 cup water, 1/4- 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Mix together in a bowl or we mixed in a measuring cup to make pouring the batter on the pan easier.  While pancakes are cooking, place blueberries in batter. Use as many or as little as your child would like.  My older daughter added chocolate chips for an extra sweet treat!

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2.  Driscoll’s Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes

Image from Driscoll's

Image from Driscoll’s

3. Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes: Add blueberries to this Whole Wheat Pancake recipe from Skinnytaste

Image from Skinnytaste

Image from Skinnytaste

4. Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes by Your Cup of Cake

Image from Your Cup Of Cake

Image from Your Cup Of Cake

The Naked Pancake

11 Jan

DSC_0295The mornings can be chaotic.  My daughter has to be at school at 8:45 and most days the girls aren’t up until 8 which makes getting them dressed and fed rushed.  I usually have to make something quick.  My girls love pancakes but with the rushed mornings it’s impossible for me to get all the ingredients together for homemade ones. I always have a box of  Aunt Jemima Original Complete on hand so all I have to add is water.  It’s easy to whip together and my girls love getting creative with what they add to it.  One day it’s all the fresh berries we have, the next day it’s chocolate chips, bananas and sprinkles.  Sometimes I even blend up zucchini or spinach to add with a fruit.  We have tried  mixing in their favorite fruit/ veggie pouches too.  The other day my daughter thought it would be fun to make “Naked Pancakes”.  She got a kick out of the name and couldn’t stop laughing every time she said it.  I didn’t know what she was talking about.  I thought she wanted a plain pancake until she said “no mom, a smoothie pancake”.  My girls LOVE the Naked Juice Smoothies.  They tried a sample once and were hooked.  Instead of adding water to the pancake mix, I added the Berry Naked juice.  It was a little thick so I added a little water to make it the consistency I wanted.  I served the pancakes with blueberries and a little side of  strawberry fig syrup for dipping.

To Make Naked Pancakes you need:

1 cup Aunt Jemima Original Complete Mix

3/4 cup your favorite Naked Juice Smoothie

Mix and add a few sprinkles for fun while they are cooking.

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Hope you enjoy them as much as my girls did!

A Freshmade NYC Thanksgiving {Recipes & Review}

13 Nov

A few weeks ago my friend, her son, my oldest daughter and I attended a farm-to-table class at Freshmade NYC. I was excited to try the class because all the ingredients are fresh, seasonal vegetables and herbs they receive from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group that week. During the class the kids made Sweet Potato- Apple Stuffing Muffins and Quick Pan Gravy (recipes below). As Thanksgiving nears I have been thinking about what to bring for our family potluck. The recipes we made at Freshmade NYC were delicious and great for kids to make with you to bring to Thanksgiving lunch or dinner. Cara was nice enough to share the recipes below.

What I loved about Freshmade NYC:

  • Cara and Thomas, founders, were amazing with the kids. They found positive ways to redirect the kids when situations got a little hairy.
  • Cara and Thomas encouraged all the kids to touch, taste, and smell the ingredients as they were using them.
  • My daughter tried vegetables she would never have tried at home and discovered she liked them.
  • While the stuffing muffins were cooking, they read stories on the floor.

What my daughter learned at Freshmade NYC:

  • “The Claw”: Since attending Freshmade NYC, my daughter has been helping cut vegetables with her Curious Chef knife. While at the Freshmade NYC farm-to-table class Cara taught her about using the “claw” method when cutting so she won’t cut herself.
  • How to crack an egg on the table. Thomas helped my daughter crack an egg on the the flat surface of the table. Since she has been helping crack eggs and gets excited to do so.
  • Peeling fruit and vegetables. The kids took turns learning to peel apples and sweet potatoes.

We had a great experience and are looking forward to attending more classes. Check out Freshmade NYC classes and events by clicking the links!

Sweet Potato-Apple Stuffing Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 medium sized apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts, diced
  • 4 cups bread, diced (we love a whole grain baguette or roasted garlic ciabatta bread in this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup dried organic cranberries (look for cranberries that are sweetened with apple juice rather than sugar and ones that are preservative free)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Combination of your favorite herbs (we loved fresh thyme, parsley, and rosemary for this recipe. About 1-2 tablespoons of each, or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions: In a large skillet, add butter and sauté onions, celery, sweet potatoes and apples until tender, set aside to cool. In a large bowl, add diced bread, herbs, scallions, nutmeg, cranberries, and sweet potato-apple mixture. Add eggs and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spoon into a lightly greased muffin pan and bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool slightly and remove from muffin pan. Serve warm with gravy.

Quick Pan Gravy

Ingredients:

  • 2 pats of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Fresh herbs
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper

Directions: In a small sauce pan, melt butter and add flour, cook over low to medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add stock and simmer for about 15 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Season with fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

From the Kitchen of Freshmade NYC
www.freshmadenyc.com

Disclaimer: I received a free trial class for attending the Freshmade NYC open house event whic I used for the purpose of this post. All opinions expressed are my own. The recipes received are from the kitchen of Freshmade NYC.  Thank you to my friend, Tori, for sharing some of her photos for this post.