Friday, August 19, 2011

Soothing Blueberry Banana Smoothie

For the past couple days I have not been feeling well. I have had a horrible sore throat, hard time swallowing, and have actually lost my voice. (No, it's not strep- this has happened to me before.)It's not easy to whisper to 3 little ones! My issues are caused from allergies- I have rotten ones almost all year long. Recently in our area we have had a wildfire burning, and apparently that can make allergies so much worse, especially for those allergic to trees- like I am. I am allergic to about 9 kinds of trees that are native to my area- including Pine and Magnolia- which are prevalent where the fire is burning. Even my allergy meds are not helping much at this point. Since I've been feeling rotten, and not been able to or wanting to eat a lot, I decided to make myself a smoothie for breakfast today. I loaded it with foods that are full of vitamins, in hopes that I'll start feeling better soon. At the very least, I hope I won't feel worse! (And it's easier to swallow than solid food!)

My friends over at Green Living Eco showed me how to make the Green Monster Smoothie a few months ago. Today I made one similar, but changed it up a bit.

1 whole, ripe Banana
1 handful Fresh Spinach
1/4 cup frozen Blueberries
1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter
1 Tablespoon Flaxseed Meal
1/2 cup Vanilla Almond Milk
2-3 ice cubes

Put the banana, spinach, blueberries in the blender/food processor first.

Add the Flaxseed,

And the peanut butter

cover with the almond milk- add more or less depending on how thin you want it.

Yup- I still need a blender:-)

Blend until it becomes liquid, then add the ice cubes and blend some more to make it more of a smoothie consistency. It really is that easy! And so good and good for you!

Now to go make myself a cup of green tea with honey:-)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fresh Peach Sauce

With our CSA we usually get several bags of fresh South Carolina peaches.  We got so many that I had to find something to do with them before they started to rot.  I made a peach cobbler with some of them but was running out of room to store what was left.  I decided to try out a fresh peach sauce to have with waffles and pancakes.

4 fresh peaches
1/2 cup water
3 Tabelspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a dash cornstarch ( or about a 1/4 teaspoon)
Aren't those pretty?

Peel and chop the peaches into medium size pieces. Put in a saucepan with the water and sugar and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down and let simmer on low until the peaches start to soften. Add the cinnamon and vanilla, stir well, and let cook on very low heat.

About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve them, stir in the cornstarch.

You don't need a lot- just enough to slightly thicken the sauce. Stir well being careful not to let it burn.

We like to eat ours on Belgian Waffles, Pancakes, or Ice Cream, (Dairy Free of course!)

What do you do with your extra summer time peaches?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fresh From the Oven: Focaccia Bread

I am a carb fanatic. There I said it. I love bread, potatoes, pastas. For a long time I have wanted to learn to make my own bread since so many store bought ones contain dairy. That and there is no better cooking smell than that of bread baking in the oven. I am not sure what's been holding me back, but most likely it's simply been the amount of time it takes to make bread. With kids (especially 3), time is at a premium most days! My favorite brand of flour is the King Arthur brand, mostly because I can buy it in bulk. One day I stumbled across their website, which is a wealth of bread recipes. Any kind of bread you would ever want to make- the recipe is there. It's a very well laid out website, the instructions are very easy to understand, and there are tips from others that are extremely helpful.

I served this with our Sunday dinner of my Homemade Spaghetti and Meatsauce.

1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil (plus additional for drizzling)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
Dried herbs of your choice (I used garlic powder and dried Rosemary this time)

1) Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom.

2) Combine all of the ingredients, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds.

3) Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover the pan, and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, till it's become puffy.

4) While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

5) Gently poke the dough all over with your index finger.

6) Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with the dried herbs of your choice, if desired.

7) Bake the bread till it's golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

8) Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Not sure why this picture turned out bad, other than I am still learning how to use my new fancy camera)

This was so good and sooo easy! It will definitely be a staple in our house from now on! Next time I am going to change up the herbs and spices and see what I can come up with:-)

This recipe is directly from King Arthur Flour's website. Changes I made were the garlic powder and dried herbs

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"I Dip, You Dip, We Dip"

Saturday night we decided to do another "fun" dinner. It had been a rainy, dreary day here, and we've been stuck inside so we thought we'd brighten up the day by spending some time together in the kitchen. I've had the idea to do a dinner of all dips for a few weeks now, and this just seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Our menu for the evening was:
Baba Ganoush with Toasted Pita Chips
White Bean Dip with Sundried Tomatoes
Homemade Pico de Gallo with tortillas
Fried Zuchinni with Marinara Sauce (The sauce was not homemade- we had some leftover that needed to be used up).

WHITE BEAN DIP:(Serves 4 as an appetizer)
I adapted this from one I had tried in the past, and one I had found online. I kind of combined the two to get this one.

1 can Cannellini beans
1-2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (or to taste) sundried tomatoes- diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1-2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove of garlic
handful fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the beans. Put in food processor with garlic and lemon juice and puree until smooth- make sure there are no lumps. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and blend until mixed.

Transfer bean mixture to a serving bowl. Add in the minced sundried tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, basil, salt and pepper. Combine well. You can serve this chilled or warm. We had it with toasted pita chips.

BABAGANOUSH (Roasted Eggplant Dip)(Serves 4-6 as an appetizer)
I had never made this, nor had we ever had it before. We decided to try making this after another CSA Member told me that they make this with the eggplant they get from the CSA. Since we had 3 fresh eggplants (or aubergine for my foreign followers) in the fridge we decided to give it a try. I found the base of this recipe on made some changes based on the comments. It worked out well, not the best dip I've ever had, but definitely a great starting point. I will share this recipe with you, but this is still a work in progress. I am going to try a few more recipes, and make some more modifications. My husband and I both agree that this does make a wonderful dairy free dip!

1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons tahini sauce ( I used Trader Joes)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
a pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Cat juicing a lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Prick eggplant with a fork and place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake the eggplant until it is soft inside, about 20 minutes.

Let the eggplant cool. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid, and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Add in the tahini sauce, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Process the eggplant until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

Cat got to add the tahini and other spices

We added more tahini and more salt. And we added the cayenne for a little kick because we felt it was a little bland (we like spicy). The consistency of this was perfect, the flavor needs a little work in my opinion. The big test was if my husband liked it (He's not a fan of eggplant) and he did like it. He agreed it needed some work still, but he still ate a huge helping of it. :-)

PICO DE GALLO (Servees 4 easily as an appetizer)
This is by far mine and my family's favorite dip. It's so easy, and so basic, but that is what makes it so good. It just has a clean flavor.

2-4 large fresh tomatoes
1/2-1 medium onion diced as small as you can (I find that vidalia works best, but red onion is good if you want a stronger onion flavor)
handful fresh cilantro- chopped
1/2 -1 jalapeno, seeded and minced. Leave the seeds in for more heat.
Splash of lime juice (I had to use bottled because I only had fresh lemons on hand-oops! But the bottled worked fine too, I just prefer fresh squeezed)
Fresh ground sea salt to taste.

Chop, mince, dice all the veggies to the size of your choice. Toss together in a bowl, add 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, and about a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir well, adjust seasonings to taste, and chill for about 20 minutes before serving. You may find you need more lime juice or salt depending on how many tomatoes you use.

Lastly we had fried Zuchinni with marinara sauce. The sauce came straight out of a jar for this one. I had some leftover from the other night, and it needed to be used up. It was Trader Joe's Organic Marinara Sauce with Basil. I did make the fried zuchinni from scratch but didn't get any pictures because I was too busy breading and frying, and David was helping the girls set the table.

Our fun dinner of dips looked like this:

White Bean and Sundried Tomato Dip, Babaganoush with toasted pita chips

Fried Zuchinni with Marinara Sauce

Pico de Gaillo with Warm Tortillas

My plate- it was all so good!

We will be doing this again soon and trying new dips. What are some of your favorite dips?