Thursday, June 30, 2011

getting a summer groove

So, last week I mentioned that I was questioning how much I wanted to dedicate to this blog. I think that's a natural question to ask as school lets out, and I remind myself that while the individual days may seem long, my children will only be this little for a few more precious years. I don't plan to throw in the towel (if you were worried). A new friend reminded me today that this is the best of all worlds-- I get a creative outlet, I can share my expertise, and I can do it on my own time. And while I definitely am not in my summer groove yet, tomorrow is the start of a new month. A chance (at least in my own happy little head) to (re)prioritize and relish these next two months of summer. I'm not sure what my posting schedule will be. Some of that is up to free times (and weather) any given week. But, you can always subscribe via email in the upper right hand corner if you're not a fan of checking the blog only to realize I have been remiss about posting!

p.s. A few of you have asked me about the screen test. No news, which I am going to assume (since I am so darn smart) is not good news. It bums me out that I focused on that instead of my kids the last week of school...and of course my ego takes a blow not knowing if it was me or them? (Did they really have their heart set on a totally different look or background than me?) But then another friend reminds me that it took guts to put myself out there. I have to think that maybe it's one of those karma things, where everything happens for a reason. It means that I do truly get to enjoy this summer and not worry about who gets my kids ready for camp/school, and know that heading into the fall, I'll still get to be the one getting them off the school bus and whipping up their homemade meals. And while I could have made a case for seizing that opportunity, deep down, accepting and enjoying the "ordinary" feels right.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


I woke up determined to write a blog post. I have all of these great recipes and summer lunchbox ideas swirling through my head, and a backlog of photos (that I snap before the kids dig in...totally annoying mom move). But first, while my husband was playing tennis and my kids were happily entrenched in Legos, I decided to make myself a cup of coffee and catch up on reading posts from others I admire... and lo and behold, I read this. Hmm, spot on. It's not all skinny jeans and fruit skewers over here. Trust me. Sure, some days it is, but not every day. And there's always that lingering question of what I want this blog to much time should I be spending on it...could it be more...should it be less?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

two easy summer apps

There is nothing worse than inviting friends over and putting out a spread of appetizers that suddenly go soggy before your eyes on a humid summer evening. Well, ok, there could be a lot worse things, but still, it's disappointing when you're the happy hostess. My winter go-to's like Trader Joe's Tempura Shrimp or phyllo shell tartlets like this or this flop in humidity. So when summer rolls around I have other go-to's which I realized yesterday I haven't shared yet. I made both of these to bring along to a little gathering last night. They are quick & easy, and everyone loved them.

Soy Chorizo in Cucumber Cups
(makes about 30 cucumber cups)

4-5 English (seedless) cucumbers
olive oil
1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
1 pkg soy chorizo (usually found in the produce section, by other soy "meat" products)
1 brick cream cheese (regular, low-fat or fat-free, your choice)

To make the cucumber cups: peel the cucumber, if you'd like, then cut into 1" rounds. Using a melon baller, or teaspoon, scoop out the inside about 3/4 of the way down. This will make a little cup. Place on a paper towel for 1/2 hour, or so, to let some of the water from the cucumber drain. Then fill with soy chorizo mixture, or any favorite dip or spread.

To make the soy chorizo filling: in a medium pan, saute the onion and soy chorizo in a bit of olive oil until lightly browned. Add cream cheese and lower heat, stirring until cream cheese is melted. Set aside until ready to stuff cucumber cups. May be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a few days. (Extra soy chorizo mixture makes a delicious addition to omelets.)

Endive Spears Stuffed with Parmesan-Walnut Pesto
(makes about 3 dozen)

4 medium heads of endive
1 cup Parmesan
1 cup walnuts
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons mayo (optional)

To make endive spears: simply cut the base of endive and carefully remove the spears.

To make Parmesan-Walnut pesto: in a Cuisinart, pulse Parmesan, walnuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley until desired consistency. (Adding mayo will help to bind the pesto.) Extra pesto is delicious tossed with whole wheat pasta, or broiled over a crusty piece of bread.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

new favorite (energy packed) breakfast

I've taken up tennis again this summer. And, this has become my go-to breakfast. Not only is it delicious, but it tides me over til lunch and gives me the energy to zip around the court (totally avoiding my to-do list while the kids are at camp). The breakfast is simple (and makes an equally fabulous lunch or hearty snack):

Alvarado St. Bakery California Protein Bread* (toasted)
+ Hummus, White Bean Dip, Edamame Hummus or (mashed) avocado (whichever I have on hand)
+ one sliced hard-boiled egg

The key is to hard-boil a bunch of eggs once/week and keep them in the fridge so this can be made in minutes.

*I find Alvarado Street bread in the freezer aisle of our local markets.

Now for those wondering, no, my kids aren't digging that breakfast. And so, I've kept a supply of Trader Joe's French Toast on hand...

or I'll give them a muffin, fruit and yogurt...

or, one of the hard-boiled eggs, some fruit and a frozen tube of yogurt if it's hot...

and they've seen their fair share of Van's waffles.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

fruit skewers

My husband asked me what I did on Friday morning, my last big chunk of "free time" on the last day of school.

I chopped and threaded fruit onto skewers. 48 of them to be exact.

And while it took way more time than I realized it would...the excited squeals when I brought the "treat" into class made it totally worthwhile. Who knew that fruit could be so exciting to 2nd graders?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

i'm looking for a recipe with ____ in it

Good news: the search function is back up and running! So, feel free to type in protein pancakes or quinoa...or anything from workout to basil and all relevant past posts should pop up. It took me a few days to tinker with the technology because another bout of bronchitis kept a certain small person home from school for several days, I was cooking up a storm for many appreciative folks, there were lots of last days of school celebrations and (drum roll) I went into the city for my first screen test (!!! more on that in a bit). Now I hope you find exactly what you're looking for!

P.S. For those who want more frequent posts don't forget about full plate/meals in a snap's facebook page... I know, I know, facebook can be such a time suck. But, when I haven't got the time to write/format a post here, I have been quickly zipping off recipes and ideas over there.

Monday, June 6, 2011

summer fruit buckle (cake)

I was excited the latest issue of Eating Well magazine was waiting for me so I could pour over it while waiting on the school bus. June's "Sweet Summer" feature promised recipes that would "transport me to the long, lazy summer days of my childhood". Juicy berries protruded shamlessly from flaky crusts in one photo, an inviting ladder leaned against a stone fruit tree in another. A fruit crisp in one photo reminded me of the treat my mom would make my brother and me-- not just in the summer, but throughout the year. Blueberry Cobbler...Strawberry Pandowy...Peach Ginger Crisp...Plum Betty...Apricot Grunt. What names! Wondering what I was going to make for my younger son's class snack the following day, a recipe for Cherry-Raspberry Buckle caught my eye. Running it by him, he eagerly agreed that it was the perfect snack to share with his friends. Something every classmate would like. Of course, once we were in the supermarket that evening, he couldn't decide which two fruits he wanted to make it with, so we made it with fresh apricots, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. Here's our take on the recipe, which was a hit.

Apricot-Blueberry-Raspberry-Strawberry Buckle
from Eating Well's June 2011 issue, page 67-69
makes one 9" round dish / 8 servings
(I quadrupled this recipe, which made five 8" pie plates of cake...4 for preschool and 1 for home)

1 1/2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
1/2 cup light olive oil or canola oil
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups raspberries or blueberries
1 1/2 cups apricots or cherries (pitted)
Turbinado for dusting the top before baking

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9" round baking dish with a bit of oil. Whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. In a larger mixing bowl, whisk milk, applesauce, oil, sugar, egg and vanilla until blended. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and fold until blended. Sprinkle with fruit and gently fold until blended. Spoon the batter into baking dish and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons, or so, of Turbinado sugar. Bake until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Let cool for a half hour before serving this moist cake.

comfort of a homemade meal

I love the comfort of a homemade meal. When I was on bed rest with my younger child, friends came out of every corner, delivering meals to nourish and sustain my family during those long months. Perhaps that is why I always jump at the chance to cook for someone who would appreciate a homemade meal. (Either that, or I need someone to save me from myself.) When making these meals, I'll often scale the recipes up, making sure I can offer a second or third meal to others who could use a night off of cooking (and extras for us so I can take the next day off of cooking too). I've noticed there's a little glitch in the search function on full plate right now, so I'm going to link each recipe here. I've categorized this post under "throw a party and get to enjoy it too" because in addition to being a perfect room temp meal to drop off to a friend, all of these dishes are simple and can be made a day ahead, making them great options if you're having friends over some warm summer night too...

Giada's Grilled Chicken with Basil Sauce
Quinoa Salad with Grilled Vegetable, Feta & Pistachios (this link also has the basil sauce)
Lentil-Cucumber-Fennel Salad
and a fruit salad (mangoes, strawberries and blueberries this time) topped with fresh mint