Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DIY S'mores Bar

DIY S'mores Platter

So what has been going on over here you ask? A 34 week doctors appointment for baby, a meeting with four 5th grade girls to figure out how to make a cardboard boat for "the cardboard classic" (a school project), watching my friend Melissa's kids so her husband could take her on a date, an end of the year kindergarten picnic at Whistler Park for Jeremiah, a bike race in Gunnison for my athlete husband, and a 5th grade band concert for Isabella. I was warned the band might not be in the best shape.

DIY S'mores Platter

Not sure how I was going to "perpere" myself since this is not actually a word.

I may be the rudest mom ever. I know. But I love her, and she won't read this until she's at least 16 and we can deal with it then. She plays trombone, by the way. Reluctantly.

PS. They were actually pretty good! It would have been better if I could have actually seen my daughter playing her instrument. She was in the back row. Hidden. I kept my eye on Riley who was front and center, and I don't even know Riley that well. So really, I listened and watched a random kid play the flute. That's how it went down.

It's amazing how when your kids get older your calendar seriously fills up like magic. Not because you are making plans but because there is just a lot of stuff going on.  Oh yeah, middle school orientation just happened too. I'm not ready for that crap.

You know what I am ready for? Summer! Not that's it's going to be any less busy because it won't. In fact my summer is looking to be fuller, but I just love the flexibility it provides. I really miss our fire pit when the nights start to warm up. We made a habit at the end of our long weekend summer days to build a fire and roast s'mores or dough boys under the stars.


Dough Boys are when we take a biscuit from a can of biscuit dough and stretch it out and wrap it tightly around a stick slightly overlapping each wind. You'll end up with a cylinder shape of dough about 4 inches long. When you place it over the fire, it bakes and puffs and when done can easily be slid off the end of the stick. Then, you roll it in melted butter (the fire melts the butter in one of those disposable foil containers) and then in another foil container of cinnamon sugar. It's good, I'm not gonna lie.

DIY S'mores Platter

We did it just as a family a lot of nights, but we also had people over to partake. This is where the ingenious idea of a s'mores bar comes in handy. People can pick which chocolate they want and customize to their hearts desire. I realize this is not a "recipe" but it's a dang good idea, yes?

DIY S'mores Bar
adapted from Pinterest

Graham crackers (you can use different varieties of these too such as the cinnamon sugar)
Different varieties of chocolate (dark, milk, white, oreo hersheys bars, milk almond chocolate, etc)

Arrange on a platter and voila!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Whole Food's Glowing Green Smoothie

Whole Foods Glowing Green Smoothie

My kids make me laugh.

Whole Foods Glowing Green Smoothie

There was the time that my little boy said this:

Jeremiah: Mom, why can't I say "damn it?"
Me: Because that's a bad word. It doesn't sound nice
Jeremiah: Oh man. Well can I at least say "damn?"

After I said no, he says:

"But mom, what about a beaver damn? I can say beaver damn, right?"

Whole Foods Glowing Green Smoothie

And then this conversation just took place the other day:

Jeremy: (sniff, sniff) Who farted?
Everyone: not me
Isabella: It wasn't me! I swear! Watch, Jeremiah, come here and smell my butt.
-Jeremiah starts crying-
Jeremy: What's wrong buddy?
Jeremiah: Isabella made me smell her butt and...and...she ACTUALLY FARTED!
Jeremy: (very, very seriously) Jeremiah. Don't you ever, EVER smell anyone's butt ever again. That is the lesson here. I mean it. Ever

Then, just weeks ago when Isabella was upset about her hair:

Isabella: Daddy, I look like a WHORE! 
-Jeremy stares at her stunned-
Isabella: I don't know what that means but that's what I think...

He told her what it meant, appropriately enough, when she got extremely embarrassed and said: 

"Oh, I thought it meant, like an ugly rat...or a horses liver" 


And...we bought her a hat.

I don't know if my family has problems or if everyone has stories like this, but I figure a little extra spinach in their diet couldn't hurt to help make them saner in the cabeza. Enter the Glowing Green Smoothie transformed into a popsicle. 

Glowing Green Smoothie Popsicles

My kids don't even care that it's green. They know it has spinach in it, and that doesn't faze them in the least, probably because it tastes like a sweet tropical vacation with all that pineapple, peach, mango, and creamy coconut goodness contained within than pop mold. They propped themselves up in their outside chairs, feet up and flip flops on like it was summer out (it's not summer out) and slurped them down after a dinner of tomato and arugula pasta. I may have heard mention of "the good life" as this was happening.  Since then they have begged me for these as an after school snack almost everyday.

Here's the thing. The Glowing Green Smoothie does indeed make a mean green popsicle, but I prefer it in it's original form -smoothie style- for lunch or breakfast. Except who am I kidding? I get hungry for "real food" 45 minutes after downing this drink because that's the sad reality us eight and a half months pregnant women have to face. Bravely. With a tear in our eyes, shaking our fists, and wondering when we will ever feel satisfied. I digress.

Whole Foods Glowing Green Smoothie

I drank this smoothie 3-4 times when we visited Whole Foods. I'm learning that each Whole Foods with a smoothie and juice bar has their own specialties and this was the one I happened upon. Lucky me. I cannot stress this enough. Ready? I LOVE this smoothie. The taste is creamy and tropical with a slight hint of nuttiness, probably from the flax seed which I adore that they sneak in. At home I pretty much nailed the recipe. It tastes exactly like the Whole Foods version. Jeremy sometimes can get up in arms about smoothies like this because even though every single ingredient is very healthy, it's still high in sugar because of all the tropical fruit used. Not added sugar, mind you, but he still prefers his spinach smoothies blended with berries which are lower on the glycemic index, but hey, all fruit is good for you! I just don't drink this everyday. It's more like a twice a week thing. Luckily for him the Whole Foods had another smoothie that used the same base but subbed kale for the spinach and berries for the tropical fruit. Everything else was the same if that's more up your alley. I'll say mine tastes better though. 

Whole Foods Glowing Green Smoothie
adapted from Whole Food's Market
makes 1 large smoothie or two smaller smoothies

I only use organic fruit for my smoothies, but that is optional. Also, if you have fresh fruit instead of frozen you could use that as well; just make sure to add a couple ice cubes to keep everything cold. You also won't need as much almond milk if you are using fresh fruit, but keep in mind it won't be as thick. Do use both the "unsweetened" milk and coconut flakes. Trust me, it's sweet enough as it is. 

2 cups packed baby spinach
1 cup frozen organic peaches
1 cup frozen organic pineapple 
1/2 cup frozen organic mango
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes 
1 tablespoon flax meal or flax seed (I use flax meal because it blends better)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (add more if needed to blend)

Blend everything together well and drink.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Julia's Best Banana Bread

Julia's Best Banana bread

Oh, hello. No, I haven't had my baby, I've just been busy and not making much time for blogland...until now.

Julia's Best Banana Bread

Olivia plays with this bop-it toy constantly. It's a game that shouts out commands such as "pull it!" or "twist it!" and you are supposed to keep pace and do what it says or it verbally berates you. Lots of nights Jeremy and I feel so bad for her because she hauls this thing around without a clue as to what it's saying and it just shouts horrible things at her like "Booooo", "epic fail" and "I'm going to sleep!" Of course she has no idea and It's funny and sad at the same time. We tell her "Don't listen to that thing, big girl! You are awesome!"

Julia's Best Banana bread

Something about the upcoming summer and baby's due date rapidly approaching (5 weeks to go!) has made me drawn to simplistic foods. I've been making green paletas (popsicles) for the kids, eggs on toast for breakfast, thick honeydew slices packed in kids lunches, bags of cherries, and whole wheat pastas and soups at night since our climate hasn't quite taken the hint that it should warm up indefinitely now. We're slow to catch on to such things up here. In short, exciting blog material has not been plentiful for a few weeks. However, I did stumble upon a simple banana bread recipe I've been dying to try out. It's definitely blog material. Oh, yes.

Julia's Best Banana bread

I don't usually make banana bread recipes I run across because I already have a great one with big banana flavor and studded with nuts. It's my standby and favorite with the hint of vanilla and buttermilk tang. But this one called to me. Andrew McCarthy wrote piece for Bon Appetit on this banana bread and it ran in their March issue. Yes, Andrew McCarthy the actor from movies such as Pretty In Pink and Weekend At Bernies. He's a thoughtful writer with a passion for travel and good food. He used to live on the Island of Maui where he would listen to the trade winds rustling palm fronds and dig his feet in the buttery sand while watching a fiery sun hang above the Pacific. He also swears that his most potent memory of Hawaii is the smell of warm, moist banana bread. Julia's banana bread to be exact. So he heads down the famous road to Hana chasing a memory.

Julia's Best Banana bread

Julia's Best Banana bread

Julia grew up on the Island of Molokai and started making banana bread out of necessity. She was selling fruit and the bananas got too ripe so she had to do something. It's the simplistic recipe that  makes it stand out for me. No buttermilk or sour cream, no vanilla extract, a hefty amount of eggs. This is just simply banana bread without need for the extra frills. As Andrew eats the last of his loaf he laughs to himself. He's thinking of moving back.

This bread is sturdier than my other recipe without losing any of the dense moistness, which I like. It almost has a mouth-feel like I've added a package of vanilla pudding but I most certainly have not. We like our slices thick and warm with a little salted butter. But as you know, theres no wrong way to eat banana bread.

Julia's Best Banana bread

Julia's Best Banana Bread
adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2013 by Andrew McCarthy

serves 8 or makes 1 loaf

This bread can also be baked in three small (5 3/4 x 3 1/4") loaf pans, which is how you'll find them at Julia's stand; cooking time will be 40-50 minutes. For deepest flavor, use ripe bananas with lots of freckles.

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
3/4 vegetable oil (I used 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/2 cup vegetable oil)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a 9x5x3" loaf pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. 

Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.

Tip- Bread can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Easy Cheese Danishes and I'll tell you what I want...

Easy Cheese Danishes

What I really really want...

I want a...

I want a...

I really want a quilt for the new baby.

A quilt that looks like this.

Photo courtesy of Little Miss Momma

And I really, really want every special person in my life to gift a piece of fabric that they picked out to give to me so I can make this quilt. A patchwork with pieces of every one in my life right now to document forever. I want my grandmother to pick a pattern. My sister to pick her favorite color. My mother, my Aunts in California, my Aunt in Colorado Springs...I even want the girls at Creekside and and Freshies (My breakfast spots) to pick me out a piece. I'd say the girls at Winona's too, but I think I feel closer to them then they actually do to me. Awkward. Old friends, new friends, Facebook friends, people near and far who may have to ship their fabric. All of them. I want them all. Selfishly. The only problem? I have NO IDEA how to quilt.

And how do I guarantee the quilt is soft and thin, and pliable instead of the heavy rigid ones I've been around? I have no idea. How would I get it to look like the picture above that seems to embody all of those things? Can I take it to a quilter? Is there even such a thing? I'm asking you, dear friends, because I don't know who else to ask. I'm hoping you have some advice for me. I'm guessing the fabric would have to be of a certain quality or made of "quilting" material, which may present a problem. We have some thin, itchy stuff at our Wal-Mart here. That's not really what I'm talking about. I think we have fabric stores though. Fingers crossed. Although, maybe it's sort of rude say:

Would you want to pick out a pice of fabric for Baby MacGray's quilt? Oh, it needs to be quilting fabric. Make sure of that. 

Maybe that's just a given. It would have to be "quilting" fabric, right?

And now I vill talk about zee food. Sorry for my shameless quilt talk. Easy Cheese Danishes, ready? GO!

Easy Cheese Danishes

I made these cheese Danishes for the Soulation gathering I catered this March. Someone in attendance asked me if I had made them and was shocked when I said yes. She expressed that she had never seen danishes that someone had made, only from the store. I suppose someone at the store had to make them as well but I knew what she meant. She went on to point out to everyone that I had, in fact, made them. They were beautiful. And they did look impressive and fresh baked and homey. But honestly? These things are so easy that I felt guilty accepting the praise. Maybe if I had made my own pastry I'd have felt more worthy. Alas, I've done that, and the results are not noticeably different, so I stuck to the frozen pre-made Pepperidge Farm version. I'm not ashamed. Even Ina Garten uses it.

I've always loved Danishes. I remember lusting after the Entemans Raspberry Danish from the grocery store that my mom sometimes got for us as a treat growing up. It was that memory that prompted me to tuck little spoonfuls of good raspberry jam into half of the cheese danishes before baking. Lemon curd would have been amazing too.

Easy Cheese Danishes

Easy Cheese Danishes
adapted From Barefoot Contessa at Home, by Ina Garten
yield: 8 Danishes

For the Danishes:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Raspberry Jam (optional-if wanting to make raspberry danishes)

For the icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoon lemon juice or milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream them together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don't whip!

Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it's a 10 by 10-inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters with a sharp knife. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. If making raspberry danishes: spoon 2 teaspoons of jam into the cheese mixture. I spooned one teaspoon towards the top and one towards the bottom. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.

Bake the pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Meanwhile, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl. When Danishes are done and still warm, drizzle the glaze over the top in a criss cross pattern. Serve warm.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fettuccine with Kale Pesto

Fettuccine with Kale Pesto from True Foods Kitchen

Kale Pesto. I've heard of it before but never struck me as something I needed to run to the kitchen to make. I like regular pesto. In my mind the basil version can't be beat, especially with kale. I love kale, just not for pesto. But hark! I made that kale pesto namely because the recipe stated that most people couldn't believe it wasn't made with basil because the taste was so similar except kale keeps it's verdant green color better and makes for a brighter dish. So did it taste like basil pesto? Shockingly, it sort of did. Not exactly, but close enough. I may add some basil leaves to the kale next time just for an extra boost of flavor. This is an awesome version to try out with the vegetable of the moment. You did know kale was the vegetable of the moment didn't you? I say use it up while you can before it's dethroned by the next big thing.

Fettuccine with Kale Pesto from True Foods Kitchen

In other news, my doctor did a quick ultrasound the other day and this baby is already 4lbs! I'm 32 weeks and still feeling good, although was completely overcome with the need to nap the other day. Like, it wasn't even an option. An hour and a half later I was worried I wouldn't be able to fall asleep that night, but by 9pm was ready. We still don't have a name picked out which is completely annoying. When I wasn't pregnant I had all sorts of favorite girl names and now nothing sounds right or stands out. Or I can't pick between them. I'm not sure. Either way it's annoying and I fear we will be those parents in the delivery room with no name until two days after the birth. Lame. We suck.

Speaking of things sucking, have I told you how much Colorado spring weather sucks?! Yeah, Olivia wore shorts to school last Monday and by Wednesday she wore fleece lined jeans and a jacket because it was snowing...again. My daffodils need sunshine! Boooooo! Boo to the snow! That's what I say. 

You? You can go ahead and say hello to kale pesto pasta. You know you're gonna make it. You can double the kale pesto recipe and freeze the second half so you can have a dinner later that's ready as soon as the pasta is done cooking. I store my leftover pesto in mason jars with a little olive oil covering the top (so it doesn't turn brown) with the lid screwed on tightly in the freezer.

And just for a bit of random... Mom! They said. Take a picture like we're getting blown away by the wind!


Please note Jeremiah's "Mary Poppins" umbrella. You can tell it's Mary Poppins because of the parrot head on the handle. He thinks it's a "boy" umbrella because it's black. He also likes parrots or any bird for that matter, so that helps too. He loves this umbrella. The play Mary Poppins? Not so much. My grandparents took us to see it in Denver last week and while he had lots of fun running around with his cousin Reisa and getting to skip a day of school to go down to see the play, he was ready to leave at intermission.

Reisa and Jeremiah with their umbrellas (in the package still) outside the Denver Performing Arts Center using them as weapons.


He much preferred Iron Man 3 this weekend at the movie theaters. Go figure.

Fettuccine with Kale Pesto
adapted from True Food Kitchen via Natural Health Magazine
serves 4-6

Kale Pesto
4 cups stemmed, chopped black kale
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 plus 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 fat garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound fettuccine (we used whole wheat)
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (we used 1/2 cup)
1 recipe kale pesto (above)

To make the pesto, bring a pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and cold water. Using tongs, plunge the kale into the boiling water for three minutes; transfer it to the cold bowl (doing so retains the kale's bright green color). After three minutes, drain and squeeze out excess liquid. Put the kale and remaining pesto ingredients into a food processor, puree until smooth and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta al dente according to the package. 

Just before pasta is done, remove two tablespoons of pasta water and add to the pesto. Add the cheese and mix well.

Drain pasta and toss with pesto.