Baby · Holidays · Tips and Tricks

Mother’s Day is next week! #giftideas

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because I’m totally not joking: all I want for Mother’s Day is some extra sleep! I’m not holding my breath though 🙂

Take a look at my first Mother’s Day one year ago, when G was 8 months old, and here’s what we cooked two years ago.

Thank God, she still has those fat little ankles and nibble-able feet. But she’s a whole lot bigger these days!

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I’m so thankful for everyone in my family being happy and healthy that I truly can’t think of a better gift for Mother’s Day. I would say that just spending the day together is enough, but as usual Mark has to work every weekend this month, so probably my “gift” will be entertaining a toddler solo and praying for nice weather so we can get outdoors! I’ll take a rain check for a pedicure and the chance to pick dinner at a place only I like (hello, Mexican food!) Speaking of which, check out Georgia chugging an entire TigerNut Horchata I’d planned on drinking myself:

OrganicGemini Horchata review coming soon!
Getting ready for Cinco de Mayo a week early!

So, what are some Mother’s Day gift ideas? Well, apart from sending cards to all the women in my life, here are a few things that caught my eye, both food-related and non.

ceramic macaroni necklace//food52.com
monogram-able transport tote//madewell.com
grandmother bracelet, Alex and Ani//thepaperstore.com
santa barbara design//nordstrom.com

*Nordstrom is offering free delivery by Mother’s Day for all orders placed by 11 p.m. ET tonight, April 30.

english garden lounge pant//anthropologie.com
a pampering serum//amazon.com
edgy mom? ear jacket//etsy.com
funny new personal essay collection//amazon.com
whisk necklace//food52.com

I know I’ve also got my eye on these pants and just bought myself these sandals for my birthday (which is today)! And if those sandals don’t scream “mom” then I don’t know what does 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

kid-friendly · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

How to Revive Stale Cookies

Don’t you hate it when someone makes you homemade cookies and you don’t have time to eat them all?

Yeah, that never happens to me either.

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But I did recently have a huge batch of cookies left over from a get-together that was cancelled at the last minute, and I stuck them in the fridge where they didn’t spoil…but then they didn’t stay soft and chewy, either. So I adapted a trick I’d heard a long time ago for re-moistening stale bread, which calls for using your microwave and a glass of water, and found it to be a sure-fire way to bring hard cookies back to life. Pin it for later, you won’t be sorry!

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All you do is place the stale cookie on a paper towel in the microwave next to a small glass of water. Heat for 30 seconds, see if it’s reached desired softness, and go for another 10 or 20 seconds if not. Voila! Moist, chewy cookies can be yours again, no matter when the goodies were baked or how long they’ve been hanging out in the refrigerator. This also works for stale bread, as I mentioned above, as well as hard pizza crusts and any other starch that’s turned hard and inedible. Enjoy!

Looking for a good cookie recipe? Don’t miss the easy Martha Stewart 5-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe in my last post!

Christmas · Holidays · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

Michelle’s Stuffed Mushrooms

By popular demand, I’ve got Michelle, my brother’s girlfriend and an awesome cook, to guest blog about how she makes her easy yet delicious stuffed mushrooms. They’ve been a staple at our holiday celebrations this year, and are truly addictive! Interested in finding out how she makes this healthy dish? Keep reading!

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Michelle’s Famous Stuffed Mushrooms

INGREDIENTS

  • White mushrooms, 3 or 4 packages
  • Plain bread crumbs, any brand
  • Butter (5 TBSP total)

DIRECTIONS

The number of people you are planning to serve determines how many packages of mushrooms to buy. I buy the white mushrooms that still have the stems attached. For Christmas, when we had 12 guests, I got four packages, and for Easter I got three. It may seem like a lot, but remember that mushrooms shrink! I also use the 4C Plain Bread Crumbs but you can use your favorite kind.

Usually the night before I am going to make them, I take the stems out and I save about 10 of them. Then I wash all the mushrooms to make sure I have all the dirt off, and put them back in the fridge. (Don’t forget to wash the stems too!)

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To make them, I get a pot of boiling water and put the mushrooms in the water for 5 minutes. Make sure not to leave them in any longer then that! I have a limited amount of large pots in my house so I boiled them in three batches, and it works well either way. Then use a (clean) towel and put them facing down so the water doesn’t pool. Then, you want to use the stems: chop them up very fine and use about 1-2 tablespoons of butter (it can be salted or unsalted). I use salted butter for mine. Have the butter melt in the frying pan then put your stems in and let them cook until they get a deeper brown color. Make sure to keep stirring them so they don’t burn. That usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat.

In a bowl, have your bread crumbs ready. The amount will vary depending on how many mushrooms you have. I used a little less than a cup. If you’re making more mushrooms, then add more breadcrumbs. Once the stems are done cooking you add those in with your bread crumbs.

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You will need to melt about 2-3 more tablespoons of butter (just use the same frying pan you cooked the stems in) and once that is melted add that to your bread crumbs and mix it all up until it kind of looks like wet sand. (You can do a taste test here ~ I promise you it doesn’t taste like sand!) You just want to make sure that all the breadcrumbs are coated.

**At this time if you wanted, you could add whatever spices you like, for example garlic powder, cheese, onion powder, etc. You can get creative, but I keep things plain.**

Now time for stuffing! I have a large round glass dish that I like to cook my mushrooms in. By this time they will be cooled from being boiled so just move them into whatever dish you baking them in and stuff them! I use a small spoon and make sure I really pack the stuffing into each mushroom by using the back of the spoon. You will more than likely have a little left over stuffing, so that’s what I sprinkle over the top. Put them in the oven at 350F for about 20-25 minutes (or until the stuffing looks golden brown) and that’s it! Very easy and delicious!

Thanks, Michelle! We are so glad to have you sharing your recipe with us by popular demand, and can’t wait to see what you cook up next 🙂

Baby · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Why we’re going nuts about almonds

Last week, Georgia had her (very belated) 18-month checkup. In addition to hearing that my baby who once wouldn’t gain weight is now in the 65th percentile (!), I was thrilled to get the green light on introducing almond milk and other nut products to her diet. Why? Because, pre-Georgia, that was all we used! We were not milk (or even really dairy) consumers, and buying three cartons of cow’s milk every week has honestly been one of the weirdest adjustments for me to make when grocery shopping. We always follow her pediatrician’s directions on food, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been excited about the prospect of one day trying things like sushi, tofu, smoothies, natural nut butters and almond milk together, which I always loved before having her.

she's a growing girl who needs her protein!
she’s a growing girl with an appetite to match!

New evidence, which our pediatrician pointed to, shows that children who are exposed to peanut products earlier in life may have a lowered risk of developing allergies later on. That, in combination with their nutritional value, is why our doctor encouraged us to offer Georgia all varieties of nut butters, flours, milks and crackers at home, now that she’s at an age where she can tolerate it. And I’m always excited to offer her new things to expand her palate.

Not quite what I had in mind...
Not quite what I had in mind…

When we gave her almond butter on apples and bananas, and made her a berry shake by pureeing frozen fruit with almond milk this week, she loved it! Now there’s so much more I can’t wait to try. And there are great reasons we use almond products beyond just the taste and the fact that I, like so many people, can’t digest lactose, or that eliminating cow’s milk (while adding exercise) has helped Mark resolve his once-serious acid reflux.

another new food buddy?
making new food buddies every day!

They are a great source of protein, which is important if you or your child eat little to no meat, and they are loaded with healthy fats, fiber, fewer calories than cow’s milk, and powerful antioxidants. By including plenty of calcium from sources like organic, low-sugar yogurt and real cheddar cheese in your toddler’s diet, you can confidently replace some of their cow’s milk with almond milk every day.

nuts

What are some of the ways we use almonds, almond butter, almond milk, and almond flour in our home?

  • A post-workout shake that I created for Mark
  • A creamy, green, fruit smoothie for breakfast
  • An afternoon pick-me-up while at work: I keep raw almonds and walnuts in my drawer at all times!
  • This pasta dish with kale
  • These tasty breakfast Muffins
  • This better-for-you baked Mac n’ Cheese
  • As a substitute for pricey pine nuts in Classic Pesto
  • To make gluten-free treats for friends with dietary restrictions, since almond flour is naturally free of gluten and can seamlessly sub for wheat flour in baking recipes
  • In lieu of cow’s milk as a drink or in almost any recipe. I blend almond milk with one banana and a dash of cinnamon for Georgia, and she loves it!
Pioneer Woman’s Apple-Nut Butter Delights: click photo for recipe

We also love Martha Stewart’s Five-Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, which uses 1 cup almond butter, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 large eggs and 1/2 tsp coarse salt. You mix together the almond butter, chocolate chips, sugar, eggs and salt until a dough forms, preheat the oven to 350, drop tablespoon-sized dollops of dough about an inch apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies puff up and the tops are set. After cooling on a wire rack, you can store these in an airtight container for up to three days!

I’m so glad Georgia been an adventurous eater so far, and I can’t wait to keep discovering new foods together.

Nuts.com gave me the opportunity to share this infographic on the health benefits of almonds here on OrganicGlory. As with all such posts, opinions are my own, and I never endorse anything my family doesn’t already love. Please check with your doctor or pediatrician to make sure you follow their guidelines on when and how to introduce nuts to your family diet.

mac n' cheese and apples: still our two favorites.
mac n’ cheese and apples: still our two favorites.

How about you — how do you cook, bake and snack with Almonds or other nuts? Do your kiddos like them? 

Holidays · Recipes

Split Pea Soup

OK, finding dried peas was IMPOSSIBLE this week, which is why this post is so late. Am I crazy, or is making Split Pea Soup with your leftover holiday ham bone not a thing anymore? At Christmas and Easter my relatives usually fight over the thing on their way out the door, and having pea soup for lunch all week is supposed to be a post-holiday treat, not a chore. Poor Mark went to three different stores for me before finding a one-pound bag of regular old Goya dried beans yesterday. Trader Joe’s and Target said they don’t even carry peas at all, so this isn’t a case of stores running out because everyone else wanted to make pea soup, too.

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My mom always made a wicked good pea soup, but her memory of the recipe was approximate, so I decided to use a good old fashioned Betty Crocker recipe for this Split Pea Soup. My mom does not use celery or carrots in hers, but I wanted to try that and see how I liked it. I think it worked, so I’ll probably do that again the next time I make it.

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It came out delectable, if I do say so myself!

SPLIT PEA SOUP

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 ham bone (or 2 pounds shanks)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Directions

Heat the peas and the water to boiling in a 4-quart Dutch oven. Boil uncovered for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Stir in the onion, celery, carrots and pepper. Add the ham bone. Heat to boiling and reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until peas are tender.

You can either remove the ham bone trim and off the excess fat, and then chop some ham from the bone and place into the soup, or leave the bone in the soup and cut off some pieces with scissors, like I did, then remove and discard.

Heat to boiling again, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 30 minutes more or until the soup is your desired consistency.

Skim the fat at this point, or later before serving (that’s what I did). Serve warm with toast or a salad. IMG_9517

Start to finish, this took just over 3 hours, most of it simmer time. I started right after putting Georgia to bed Friday night and finished up right in time for ME to go to bed, at 10:30. I put portions into takeout containers for me to have lunches all week. If you make this in a cast iron Dutch oven, it may take quite a while to cool down completely, so I’d recommend storing in a separate container. It will look much more liquid-y when you first stop cooking and then it’ll solidify overnight, which is how long I like to let it sit before eating.

Betty Crocker’s Tips include:

How to sort and rinse peas. Preparing split peas for cooking is easy, BC says! “Just pick over the dried split peas and discard any grit or discolored peas. Place the split peas in a bowl, and cover them with water. After a minute or two, remove any skins or split peas that float to the top. Finally, rinse the split peas in a colander.”

What to do if you have no ham bone? “If you’re looking for another option for a ham bone, use 2 pounds of smoked pork hocks.”

How to eat this. Like you need the help. “Serve this hearty soup with warm crusty bread and a fresh green salad drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette. Mmm!” Adorable.

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Nutrition Per Serving: 170 Calories, Total Fat 2g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Sodium 30 mg, Carbohydrate 33g, Fiber 13g(!), Protein 17 g.
Baby · Holidays

The Easter Bunny Came! {+ our new fave camera}

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend! We had a wonderful Easter. Georgia not only wore her bonnet the whole day, to my complete surprise she also hunted for eggs rather enthusiastically! My brother hid plastic eggs (with stickers inside) around our house for her to “find,” and she loved it so much we had to keep running behind her to re-hide them in new places. It was adorable.

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Daddy had to work, so Georgia and Mommy went to church, where we stood on ours chairs to better see the special musicians, and then played with our friends in the nursery downstairs. Then we went home and Georgia took a nice long nap while Mommy made a glazed ham, and pretty soon Grammie, Uncle Brent and Auntie Michelle came over and we all ate a nice big dinner! Daddy made it home just in time for baby’s bedtime.

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The ham came out great — even G ate it, and loved it! — and I’ve got a Split Pea Soup queued up for the ham bone later this week. I’ll be posting my recipe on the blog as soon as I can! In the meantime, it’s back to work, and crossing my fingers for continued warm weather so we can start our garden, plant some flowers, and enjoy our front porch. 

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My brother’s girlfriend brought the coolest camera to capture the fun  yesterday: the FujiFilm Instax, which is like an old-school Polaroid that develops instantly.

Georgia was a little freaked out by the photo popping right out of the top (she’s only ever seen an iPhone camera, remember!) but quickly got the hang of it and loved seeing her pictures right away. I might have to get one of these things.

She was so into the pictures that she barely wanted to look at the Easter Basket Grammie brought her! She did, however, pause long enough to eat an entire Lindt Chocolate bunny. What can I say? She has good taste. Hope you all have a great week, and stay tuned for my Split Pea Soup recipe! 

Holidays · Recipes

Eating Fish on Good Friday?

Allow me to share my two favorite seafood recipes for any last-minute Good Friday cooks out there (with apologies for the 2012-style fuzzy photo in the second dish). These really are scrumptious and easy to pull together.

Seafood Pasta Baked in Foil, adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Are you eschewing meat entirely this Lent? Allow me to share with you my favorite meat-free risotto recipe.

Springtime Risotto

However and whatever you’re celebrating, have a lovely weekend and enjoy your family, friends and food. XOXO