Drinks & Smoothies · kid-friendly · Recipes

Blueberry Super Smoothie

Inspired by the Blueberry Bliss Smoothie at Mother Juice in the Boston Public Market, I set out this week to create a smoothie recipe that had more complex flavors than the results I’ve gotten with just frozen berries and coconut milk alone. While there’s nothing wrong with tossing frozen fruit and milk into the blender, I always suspected there had to be a way of packing even more nutritional clout into something built on antioxidant-rich blueberries. I also wanted to give this smoothie some heft, to make it a real meal replacement possibility and filling enough to satisfy that afternoon sugar craving. I really love how this turned out, and I think you’ll be surprised at the secret ingredient that gives it that extra edge!

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Blueberry Super Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup juice (I chose cranberry)
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 ripe or frozen banana
  • 1 container vanilla yogurt (Greek or regular; about 4 oz.)
  • a small palm full of pistachios
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • a dash of pumpkin pie spice*

DIRECTIONS

In a high speed blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec, add all the ingredients, placing juice on the bottom and spices/seeds on top. Blend until smooth and enjoy cold!

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*Did that last ingredient surprise you?? That’s one of the things that made the Mother Juice smoothie so good! You couldn’t put your finger on it, but it tasted SO GOOD. If you want to really amp up the spice factor, add in some cinnamon! And if you want even more protein, make the yogurt Greek (I like Trader Joe’s vanilla bean) and add a tablespoon of almond butter, too.

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You can also swap out the nuts if you don’t like pistachios — I think almonds would be good. And if you don’t use frozen berries or banana, then throw in a couple ice cubes. I make this at night and put it into to-go containers so I can grab them the next morning. With chia seeds, letting them sit in the smoothie overnight lets them plump up and give your drink a wonderful, thick texture! They also add lots of fiber, too.

Read more about chia seeds and find my recipe for chia pudding right here.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

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kid-friendly · Recipes · Tips and Tricks

Maple-Dijon Pork Chops with Chunky Apple Topping

This dish has become a fall tradition in our house. Every October we plan a date to go apple picking as a family, usually the first weekend Mark gets off after closing his first show of the season; then, with our bounty overflowing, we get started making apple crisp and this delicious dinner that tops succulent brined pork chops with a maple-dijon glaze and a chunky apple cider sauce. It’s something we all look forward to when the air turns chilly! I made this for the first time this year just last night, and I’m looking forward to baking a sweet apple crisp this weekend, too. I can’t wait to share that with you!

These pictures are actually from the last time I made a large quantity of this for a dinner party a couple years ago (hence the Johnny’s Foodmaster packaging, for a store that doesn’t exist anymore in the Boston area!) Also pictured are some garlic-chive mashed potatoes (click here for my basic mashed potato recipe) and my balsamic roasted green beans, which is my go-to way of baking green beans in the oven so the whole family will eat them. Although there are lots of steps pictured, I actually managed this just fine on a weeknight yesterday. I threw the chops into a freezer-size bag to brine them before work with some poultry seasoning (sage, thyme and rosemary) — see brining instructions below — and then when I got home, I just set the water on to boil for the potatoes, tossed the green beans into the oven to cook, set up the apple topping on a back burner, and cooked the pork chops in the last 7 minutes while I mashed the cooked potatoes. It wasn’t hard at all!!

HOW TO BRINE

Brining, or submerging meat in salt water for tenderizing and flavor, can be done overnight or during the workday so your meat is ready to be cooked when you get home in the evening. As I wrote about in this post for Citrus Pork, brining is a simple technique that does a great job of preventing dense cuts of meat (like pork chops!) from drying out while cooking. Yesterday I just threw the chops into a double-bagged freezer Ziploc with enough water to cover them, and eyeballed the salt and herbs. In general, you want to aim for a ratio of 1 TBSP of salt for every 1 CUP of water; as long as you make sure to cover the meat completely with water and rinse them off well when you are done brining, it’s pretty hard to mess this up. You also want to use flavorings such as onions, herbs, or aromatics like ginger, lemon peel, cinnamon sticks, sugar or garlic in your brining bag. If you are hoping to brine a holiday bird, like a large turkey, or a roast, definitely make sure you give it overnight to soak. Want a more in depth guide by cut of meat? This article is a good place to start.

Recipe: Maple Dijon Pork Chops with Chunky Apple Topping

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 CUP apple cider
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3-4 pork chops (or more for a crowd)
  • If brining: salt, water & herbs (I used a fresh poultry seasoning mix from the grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 TBSP Dijon or spicy brown mustard (I used the latter)
  • olive oil for the pan

DIRECTIONS

If you are making the green beans and/or mashed potatoes, set those up to boil and bake in the oven first, then turn your attention to making the apple sauce and finally to cooking the pork chops in a frying pan. If you boil the water then prep all your other ingredients, your potatoes will be done cooking around the same time as your apple topping and your green beans, meaning you can set those aside in a warm place and cook the chops while mashing the potatoes.

If you’ve brined the pork chops, make sure to rinse them well and discard any seasonings that brined with them.

To make the apple topping, cook the apples in a medium sauce pan with the cider and brown sugar and cinnamon over medium/high heat until tender, about 15 minutes, then set aside.

(I’ve listed out the step-by-step for both the green bean side and the potatoes below).

To make the pork chops, heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the chops, seasoning with a little pepper. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Then, stir the maple syrup and mustard into the pan, tossing to coat.

Top the pork chops with the chunky apple sauce and serve alongside the mashed potatoes and green beans or sides of your choice. And enjoy!

Here’s a quick recap of the green bean recipe if you don’t want to click over to my full post about it. I bought a pre-rinsed bag of cut green beans (16 oz) and added half of a sliced onion in a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and add in a bunch of whole garlic cloves — I usually do between 6 and 10, peeled of course. Roast in the oven at 350F until browned pretty well, about 30 minutes; you want the onions to be starting to caramelize. You can also do 400F for 20 minutes, but I was timing it to be ready alongside the pork chops and potatoes here. Set aside and while still warm add a few drops of balsamic to the finished beans, tossing to coat (a little goes a long way). Serve warm.

For the mashed potato recipe you see here, I used half a bag of red potatoes (~1 pound) plus 1 stick of butter, about a half cup of milk (any kind; I used almond) and a hefty dollop of sour cream (a bit of cream cheese would also work), adding a generous sprinkling of salt to taste. I boil the potatoes, chopped in half, until fork-tender, then drain them, add them back into the stockpot and mash them by hand (skin still on) with all the ingredients mentioned above. So creamy and delicious!

I hope you enjoy this one. Stay tuned for a recap of our apple picking trip, some pictures from my recent travel to Detroit (where the food scene is bustling if you know where to look), and that apple crisp recipe I mentioned. The best part of fall is definitely the food if you ask me!

Recipes

German Apple Pancake

Looking for the perfect festive, filling thing to serve your house guests on Christmas morning? Look no further than the German Apple Pancake. 

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This is a recipe my aunt gave me a few years ago, after we had it for breakfast on Christmas morning at her house in Florida. Health food it ain’t — but you can’t do better by your house guests on a holiday morning!

German Apple Pancake

Ingredients

  • 4-5 large apples, cored and sliced
  • 2 stick of butter
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Cinnamon-Sugar (make it with 1 TBSP sugar & 1 tsp cinnamon)

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Directions

Melt the stick of butter in a small saucepan on the stove top, then pour directly into the bottom of a 9×13 glass pan.

Mix the pancake batter by hand: blend the flour, milk, eggs and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl, and set aside.

Arrange your sliced apples (I find big, tart Granny Smith apples work very well) to cover the melted butter in the bottom of the pan.

Pour the batter over the top of the apples, then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar, which will create a nice crust.

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Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. Serve with warmed, real maple syrup. Goes great with bacon (real or fake!)

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Tips: This is best served warm, the same day you make it. It just doesn’t reheat as well. You can add more apples along the bottom layer if you like, and of course you can add more cinnamon-sugar on top. It’s also delicious without the maple syrup.

Looking for more brunch food ideas?

I also love these two recipes by Ina Garten for one-pan baked berry blintzesapricot butter. I saw them on her show last year when she did a brunch special, and tried both immediately. I hope you enjoy them!

Drinks & Smoothies · Recipes

Three Ideas for Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving & Black Friday and that you’re getting geared up for Cyber Monday (I know I am!) I meant to post this last year, but then forgot to do it and eventually it was too late. As I’ve mentioned before, I love making homemade cranberry sauce, and I always make sure there’s plenty extra. But what if you just have TOO much left over? Here are a couple fun things to do with extra cranberry jelly.

Photo Courtesy of Inspired2Cook (http://www.inspired2cook.com/2011/12/17/leftover-cranberry-sauce-vinaigrette/).

First up, a salad dressing by Inspired2Cook:

Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette

Adapted from Cook’s Country Magazine. Makes about 1 cup.

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce

Whisk shallot, mustard, red wine vinegar, and olive oil into leftover cranberry sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

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Next up, a smoothie, courtesy of Hillbilly Housewife:

Cranberry Smoothie

  • 1 can or 16 oz. of cranberry sauce
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen unsweetened peach slices, partially thawed
  • 1 container (6 oz) vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Blend together until smooth. Serve cold.

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Finally, scones, courtesy of Gourmandia:

Cranberry Oat Scones

  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 2 C all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tsp (=1 tbsp) baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ C butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 C plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla OR orange extract
  • 2/3 C cranberry sauce (the thicker the better)

Preheat the oven to 425F. In the large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then add the butter/margarine and cut it into the flour mixture. As long as you’ve washed them well, you can use your hands to do the cutting, but a fork will work just fine. In the small mixing bowl, combine the egg, the plain yogurt, the vanilla/orange extract, and the cranberry sauce. Mix with the fork until well-blended. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients to them. Blend lightly with the fork until you have a soft dough. Scoop out quarter-cup-sized balls of dough and place them on the greased cookie sheet or into the cups of the greased muffin tin. (You can also drop all of the dough into a greased cake or loaf pan and use the dough to make a thick cake or dessert loaf. Bake your scones in the oven for abut 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. NOTE: If you are doing the loaf/cake version, you will need to cook it for a good half-hour.

Serve hot with butter, and enjoy.

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Recipes

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

It’s been raining a lot this week, and work these days is a ball of stress wrapped in a germ-infested box…cue the comfort food and a night on the couch watching Friday Night Lights.

This recipe is a set-it-and-forget-it speciality, inspired by something I saw in Real Simple Magazine (love). You can leave it in the slow cooker all day on low and come home to a cozy vegetarian meal that is hearty enough to leave carnivores satisfied, too. Personally? I liked serving it with a dollop of low-fat sour cream and some multigrain tortilla chips, like these.

Other good topping ideas include shredded sharp cheddar, scallions or chives, a splash of hot sauce, sliced radishes, and even a drizzle of some high-quality olive oil. Do your own thing with it.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 large  sweet potato, peeled and diced into medium chunks
  • 1 onion, diced (I used yellow; next time I’d definitely do red)
  • 1 can of kidney beans (15.5 oz)
  • 1 can black beans (15.5 oz), rinsed
  • 1 28-oz. can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (such as Muir Glen Organic)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 TBSP chili powder (or, sub red pepper flakes or hot sauce)
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I had a small piece of stone-ground chocolate from Taza hanging around, so I used that instead!)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

*Note: Mark really hates kidney beans, so I subbed cannellini beans plus a handful of lentils to replicate the flavor and heft.

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a large (4 to 6 quart) slow cooker, including the liquid in the cans of tomatoes and beans, and heat on low for 7 or 8 hours (or on high for 4 or 5 hours to shorten cooking time). When it’s done, serve warm with your favorite chili toppings.

Did you buy a bag of sweet potatoes for this recipe, and now you’re not sure what to do with the leftover spuds? I love this recipe from Aggie’s Kitchen for Burritos with Black Beans & Roasted Veggies. This gal roasts everything together then slaps it into a sprouted tortilla with melted cheese, and YUM.

Drinks & Smoothies

Spiked cinnamon-apple cider

Every new home deserves a housewarming celebration, and what open house party would be complete without a signature cocktail? For us, that meant serving 50+ people a hot apple cider infused with oranges, cloves, cinnamon sticks & ginger, and spiked with dark rum and cinnamon schnapps.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) dark rum
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) cinnamon schnapps
  • 1 large orange, sliced (unpeeled)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • healthy pinch of ground ginger (about a teaspoon)
  • healthy dash of whole cloves (about a dozen)

Directions

In a large stock pot, combine the entire gallon of cider with half to 2/3 of the rum and half to 2/3 of the bottle of schnapps. Add the orange slices, cloves, ginger and cinnamon sticks.

Bring all ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low. Simmer continuously and serve hot. I kept mine on low throughout the whole party and we just ladled it out into Irish coffee mugs!

You can easily make a larger quantity to serve a bigger crowd by pouring in the entire 750-ml. bottle of rum (same with the Schnapps) and adding a half gallon or more of cider.

Adjust the quantity (and therefore the strength) of the alcohol to your preference.

Cheers!

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Recipes

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Cinnamon-Sage Brown Butter

My mom and I made this recipe to celebrate Little Christmas last weekend. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, our family celebrates Little Christmas, or Ephiphany — commemorating the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem — with small gifts every January 6. It’s a nice way to end the holiday season each year and we always wait to take down our Christmas Tree and holiday decorations until after this day.

We bought gnocchi at an indoor farmer’s market near my mother’s house, but you could easily make your own.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of fresh sweet potato gnocchi
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 20 fresh sage leaves, stems removed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Assorted root vegetables for roasting (optional)

Directions

First, if you are going to serve this with roasted vegetables like we did, preheat your oven to 400 and toss your sliced veggies (no need to peel if they’re organic and/or from the farmer’s market like ours were) in a dollop of olive oil on the cooking sheet. These will go in for about 20 minutes or until brown but not burnt, and in the meantime you can whip up the brown butter sauce and quickly cook the gnocchi in a pot of boiling water.

If you aren’t making the veggies, just start by putting a small pot of water on to boil. Gnocchi cook notoriously fast, so I’d get the bulk of your brown butter made before you throw the gnocchi in the boiling water. If you cook and drain them and set them aside for even 5 minutes, gnocchi will stubbornly stick together and turn into a huge block of glue. So don’t do that!

Start the sauce by melting the stick of butter of medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the 20 sage leaves.

Continue cooking, swirling here and there, until the foam subsides and the mixture begins to brown. Turn heat to low.

Stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir gently. (The mixture will bubble up, so be careful!)

Once the bubbles simmer down, stir the cooked gnocchi into the brown butter. Transfer to a serving dish and VOILA!

We served this with a roast pork loin for the carnivores (read: everyone but me) and some roasted root vegetables. It made for a satisfying meal to fill meat-eaters and veggies alike! Sweet potatoes and sage are a can’t-miss pairing, and this dish was no exception.

Looking for even more gnocchi recipes? Check out my last post about these delectable Italian dumplings!

This recipe was inspired by Food Network Favorite Giada De Laurteniis.

Recipes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce (with a kick)!

It’s such a weird feeling for me to not be cooking the meal this Thanksgiving, but in truth I couldn’t handle it this year. Between 10-hour workdays, a major move, a husband juggling two jobs, and the fact that my recipes and pots are NOT unpacked, I’m lucky I managed to unearth the simple ingredients and saucepan needed to make my favorite side: Cranberry Sauce with a kick!

Here is the basic recipe (inspired by one of my first copies of Rachael Ray Magazine, from about 2006). I double this so everyone has plenty to take home with their leftovers.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (add more if you like; I do!)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp grated orange peel
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground), orange peel and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.

Stir in the cranberries and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.


Transfer the mixture to a bowl and remove the cinnamon stick (unless, like me, you let it simmer wayyyy longer than 10 minutes so that the sauce turns gelatinous and the cinnamon sticks practically dissolve). Let cool.

Enjoy! And have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipes

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

These are everywhere suddenly…I like this version best!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C pumpkin
  • 3/4 C almond milk
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  •  1 tsp cinnamon
  •  1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  •  1/2 C ice
  •  1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender; mix until smooth.

This recipe, from the tasteforhealthy blog, is published in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition Fall eBook.

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Harvest vegetable pasta

I created this after roasting a bunch of root vegetables together with nuts and raisins in a (failed) attempt to make something compelling. Luckily, even though they bored me as a standalone dish, these harvest veggies tasted excellent once I tossed them with rotini pasta and a nutmeg-infused sauce. Easy as pie….kind of tastes like pie too, actually.

INGREDIENTS

  • Red potato, sliced into quarters (unpeeled)
  • Turnips, sliced in half
  • Pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • Squash, peeled and cubed (or buy this way)
  • Raisins (I used about one small box)
  • Carrots/parsnips, sliced (unpeeled)
  • Almonds (handful)
  • Vegetable broth (enough so an inch or two coats the pan)
  • Cinnamon to taste (be liberal with it!)
  • Nutmeg (generous spoonful)
  • Ginger (to taste)
  • Honey (about a half cup)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375. Prep all the chopped ingredients (or do this a day ahead). Toss with olive oil, nuts and raisins on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and drizzle with honey. Season with salt and pepper. Add an inch or two of vegetable stock to the bottom of the pan. Roast in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, boil your pasta — I used rotini because it can “grip” chunky sauces like what you’re making.

You can use premade white sauce (I bought a great nutmeg sauce at Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Davis Square that I used as a base); or, you can make a simple white sauce by whisking butter, flour and then cream together over low heat, and then add the nutmeg in. Here’s a great example. I also added some leftover cream cheese into the pan to thicken the sauce even more (I never claimed this was health food). Combine the veggies, pasta and sauce in a large pot with a dash of pasta cooking water to help it all stick together! You can loosen it up with some more milk (I like almond milk) if it looks too thick or sticky.

This reheats well, but I’d recommend pouring a dash of  almond milk (or whatever kind you use) into the tupperware container and also putting a pad of butter on the top of the pasta when heating up leftovers to re-moisten things in the microwave and to keep it all from turning sticky.