Super, Organic, Awesome-Pants Festive Icing!
December 22, 2011 at 6:00 am
I know what you are thinking. That is some headline.
But I had to choose something that showed my excitement at discovering the BEST recipe ever for colorful and festive natural decorating icing.
Until now, I have been at a loss when it comes to cool icing for holiday cookies. The only products out there have trans fat or artificial colors … it’s an organic nightmare.
But recently, I tried the simplest recipe ever — just three ingredients. Ready?
And guess what?! We have bright green trees, pink snowmen, and all sorts of other fun cookies. The icing tastes great and “dries,” so the cookies can be stored and shared.
I start with two cups of sugar and add a few tablespoons of cream. I keep adding cream until it gets thin enough that all the sugar is incorporated, and it is easily spreadable. I then separate small amounts into small bowls and add coloring according to package directions to make lots of beautiful colors!
Bulk Roasting Veggies
December 15, 2011 at 6:00 am
I am the worst vegetarian.
I have been at this for 20 years, and I am still discovering all these things I could have done along the way to make veggie-eating easier.
Like roasting vegetables. A lot of vegetables.
I should have totally done that in the past.
BUT, I am doing it now. To go along with my bulk grains and slow-cooker beans, (don’t forget to add kombu!)I have started making huge batches of roasted veggies once a week.
It is SO easy. I make a batch on Sunday to go with our meal, and there is plenty left over for lunches the next few days. Roasted veggies are also great on salads (think potatoes and asparagus) and in soups.
My favorite veggies to roast are mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, peppers, potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, broccoli and asparagus. But pretty much ANY veggie is great when it gets all carmelized and delicious in a hot oven.
I cut any veggies we have into bite-size pieces and toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs like thyme, basil, rosemary or oregano. Then I cook them for 35 to 34 minutes in a 475-degree oven.
They are great over brown rice, and delicious heated up for the next few days!
Kids, Books and Food: Chicken Soup with Rice
November 30, 2011 at 6:00 am
I love cooking with my kids. It is one of my favorite activities.
But I really, really love combining cooking with our favorite books.
During the next few months, I am looking to share some of our favorite books and corresponding recipes here. These are simple ideas for helping favorite books come to life, and sharing healthy food with kids. I’d love it if you shared some of your favorite books and the recipes that go with as well!
This first book is a long-time favorite around here. We love Maurice Sendak, and for years we have read Chicken Soup with Rice, a book about the months and how chicken soup is always appropriate.
From the book: “I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice, All seasons of the year are nice, For eating chicken soup with rice.”
We read this book when we make our favorite chicken stock. As we read, the kids chop onions, celery, carrots and parsley. Rice boils on the stove.
When we finish the book, the vegetables go into the pot with a little oil to soften. We add the stock, one cracked clove of garlic, salt, pepper, and the cooked rice, bring it all to a boil and then lower the heat, cooking until everything is tender and the flavors have combined.
Although “all seasons of the year are nice, for eating chicken soup with rice,” we especially like it this time of year.
Do you have a favorite recipe for sharing with kids?
November 29, 2011 at 6:00 am
So I have a few people in my life who occasionally tease me about my organic ways.
They are just joking, of course, and I don’t really take it seriously.
But recently, someone made a joke about me making my own butter.
I hadn’t ever tried it, but you know how these things work — it wasn’t long until I found an opportunity. (Coincidentally we made it in a pre-school co-op class I am co-teaching. It. Was. AWESOME.)
So now, it’s sort of a new obsession around here. Not only is homemade butter very easy (you don’t have to buy a churn, I don’t care what the Internet says), the kids love making it, and we are finding all kinds of different versions and uses for the stuff.
This past weekend we made garlic-herb butter for homemade garlic bread.
We also love to make cinnamon-butter to go with homemade bread. I know. I am getting a little Little House on the Prairie with all this. But I promise, try it once, and if you don’t find yourself making batches and batches of butter, you are a stronger pioneer than I am.
This is more of a process than a recipe. Homemade butter only contains only two ingredients: heavy cream and a bit of salt. We favor Organic Valley’s heavy cream if you can find it. The salt really makes a difference, but we literally add just a pinch.
We make butter by putting about a half-cup of cream into a small jar. We add just a few grains of sea salt.
Then the fun begins. We shake, rattle and roll that little jar until the magic happens. Shaking is great, but when little arms get tired, it sure is fun to roll it back and forth across the floor.
In just a few minutes, the cream starts to thicken, and eventually achieves a whipped consistency. This is perfect for bread and a great way to covert margarine-lovers who think that the spreadability of that stuff negates the uckiness of the ingredients.
If you shake a little more, the butter will thicken and the solids will seperate from the whey or butter-milk. (Buttermilk is great stuff and has lots of uses!)
We keep our butter in the fridge for a few days. We usually make pretty small batches, and make it often.
To make cinnamon-butter, add a just a shake of ground cinnamon to the cream before shaking.
To make garlic-herb butter, mix in minced garlic and finely chopped herbs when the butter reaches the whipped stage and stir carefully.
To make honey butter, add about a tablespoon of honey to the cream and shake like crazy.
To make citrus-butter, add minced orange or lemon zest to the cream before shaking.
Go ahead and give butter-making a try. And if anyone teases you about your efforts, offer them a bite. They will pretty quickly declare a take-back.
My favorite new green smoothie!
November 25, 2011 at 6:00 am
The kids and I are big fans of green smoothies. We all them frog guts, and we are in a special club called the “Frog Guts Club.”
You can join. It is open enrollment right now.
I know green smoothies seem a little scary. If you haven’t tried one yet, you probably don’t buy it when people talk about how “they don’t taste like death,” and “they really don’t make you gag at all. Promise.”
But it’s true. Close your eyes. Take a sip. It will be OK.
This is a recipe for my new favorite green smoothie. I am drinking one this morning, as part of my squirt whipped cream and too much cranberry bread detox plan!
I promise this smoothie is delicious. If you are nervous, just add a little bit of kale the first time.
Tropical Green Smoothie
3/4 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup coconut milk (or more, depending on the consistency you need to get it going)
A few handfuls of kale or other greens
Throw everything in a blender and take it for a spin!
No really … Yum!
Mix It Up: Cranberry Hazelnutty Granola
November 18, 2011 at 6:00 am
We made a big batch of granola this week for cereal and snacking. It is a seasonal twist on one of our favorite recipes, and features cranberries and hazelnuts.
This recipes makes a big pan-full of nutty, flavorful granola. I use my friend Rachel’s trick of cooking it in a Pyrex pan to keep the granola from burning. We had plenty to eat right away, and plenty to freeze for when holiday guests are here for breakfast.
adapted from Feeding the Whole Family’s Maple Butter Nut Granola recipe
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon almond butter (or any nut butter will do!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine oats, seeds, hazelnuts, cinnamon and salt in a big bowl and mix well.
In a small pot over medium heat, melt coconut oil, syrup and peanut butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl and mix well. Pour into a large, glass Pyrex pan and spread flat.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
Remove from oven and cool. Add cranberries and stir well. Store in glass jars.
Halloween is Hallo-Over
November 8, 2011 at 6:00 am
I’m kind of over the Halloween candy. What about you?
I really do try to be a good sport about these things, but the problem with having so much candy in the house is that we eat it, because it is here. When it eventually runs out, or more often we forget about it, it stops being a problem.
But toward the end of last week, I started feeling a little over the candy. Instead of dumping treats in the trash, we started leaning toward other sweet things.
When the kids asked for a treat (or I felt like one myself) I tried offering up something slightly healthier but still sweet, like granola, muffins or homemade cookies.
How about a few of these:
Instead of a few of these:
I also made up a big batch of rice pudding using agave, which doesn’t cause a blood sugar spike the way candy does.
Our favorite recipe uses arborio rice, which makes the pudding extra smooth and creamy.
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups water
1 tsp light olive oil
a pinch of sea salt
3 cups almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 to 8 tbsp agave
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
In a medium pot, bring 2 cups of water plus olive oil and salt to a boil. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently. In a separate large pot over medium heat, warm milk, vanilla, agave and spices. When rice is cooked, add to warm milk mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until pudding thickens. Chill and serve.
How are you handling the week after Halloween at your house?
Good Old Fashioned Chicken Stock
November 4, 2011 at 6:00 am
It was more than a year ago now that a very vegetarian girl asked a couple of Traditional Foods loving friends how the heck to make chicken stock.
The process had never really interested me before, because as a long-time vegetarian, I very rarely had a chicken carcass lying around.
But then because of some food allergies and restrictions, our diet changed pretty drastically, and we started having chickens appear in the kitchen. Still a vegetarian myself, I somehow felt better about using the whole bird.
And so, I began making chicken stock from scratch a couple of times a month.
Do you make stock? Are you wondering why anyone would bother?
It turns out that the stuff is pretty darn healthy, if you are carnivorous. A lot of those old wives’ tales about chicken soup helping with healing really might have some scientific merit.
And around my house, three out of the four of us really like it. It is a great base for soup, of course, and can come in handy for sauces and risotto too.
What I learned from those Traditional Food friends is the important step is adding a tablespoon of vinegar to draw out the minerals from the bone (I know — this from a girl who has shunned eggs and dairy in the past). Also, the gelatin you see floating to the top really is the good stuff, so go ahead and share that with all involved.
An optional step is roasting the carcass. I don’t, but I do enlist the help of little chicken pickers like one friend suggested in order to get all the meat off the bones.
I am still adjusting to our new diet, which seems to be ever evolving anyway. But if I am going to buy chicken, I want it humanely raised, antibiotic-free and organically fed. I also want to use every bit of it.
Homemade Chicken Stock
Chicken carcass, picked clean (roasted or not)
Fresh filtered water
1/2 of a large onion
3 carrots, washed but not peeled
2 celery stalks
a large bunch of parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
In a large pot, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 4 hours or as long as you can. Drain and transfer to jars. We do freeze ours for later use, or refrigerate it if we are going to make soup the next day.
Pumpkin Seeds Three Ways
October 25, 2011 at 6:00 am
One of our favorite Halloween traditions here is to carve pumpkins and then roast the seeds.
It’s a yearly celebration that began even before our children were born, way back before we knew that pumpkin seeds are a really healthy treat.
They are packed with magnesium and have a hearty dose of zinc too. And they are just really fun and festive to make.
Each year, we try to come up with some new and different ways to serve our seeds.
We begin with this basic recipe, and then add various seasonings to the bowl to coat the seeds.
This year’s winners were:
- Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seeds, flavored with pumpkin pie spice blend and a little evaporated cane juice in place of the salt.
- Taco Seeds, coated with cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and salt
- Garden Seeds (Owen’s very own creation) seasoned with garlic and celery salts plus oregano and parsley.
All were yummy and fun, and disappeared faster than a ghost at sunrise!
Do you have a favorite way to flavor your pumpkin seeds?
Fall Flavor: Two Cool-Morning Autumn Smoothies
October 7, 2011 at 6:00 am
Is it just me, or do traditional frozen smoothies loose their flair a little when the weather gets cooler?
I just don’t feel like an icy-cold breakfast to start my day this time of year.
But these two fall smoothies are delicious for breakfast or an afternoon snack. And neither is very cold — in fact they feature warming spices — so they are just right on a blustery autumn day.
The secret added bonus of these smoothies is a small piece of fresh ginger in each recipe. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. You can store fresh ginger in the freezer and just chop off a small piece when you need it. Peel it using the side of a spoon.
Apple Pie Alamode in a Glass Smoothie
1/2 cup milk (we use almond milk)
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon agave or honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 small piece ginger
1 small splash of vanilla
Pumpkin Spice Smoothie
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup milk or milk alternative (we use almond milk)
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (or honey is fine too)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 small piece ginger
a small shake of ground cloves
Blend these smoothies up and serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Fall doesn’t have to be so cold after all!