Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two (more) versions of Edamame Hummus...before I turn of the computer for a week

I am going to try to unplug for a week. We'll see if I can do it? And why does this seem like such a big deal? Hmmm, this must be why I am making myself truly unplug.

But, before I actually turn my computer off, I promised to share the quick recipe for Edamame Hummus with a friend. When I originally posted my recipe for Edamame Hummus, I was really trying to bump up the protein and I'd added tofu. But depending upon the day I make it, what I have in the house, and whether my kids are going to be bringing it to school/camp (in which case it needs to be nut free) the recipe changes a bit. The basics are the same though: edamame + olive oil + lemon juice + kosher salt. It is delicious (and so quick and easy) no matter how you make it.

The edamame hummus pictured above (which is the one I served up this week) is simply:

Super Quick (Nut-Free) Edamame Hummus

Edamame (cooked according to the package)
Lemon juice (to taste, I like a lot of lemon juice)
Olive Oil
Kosher salt
Dash of cumin
Pop everything into your Cuisinart and pulse until desired consistency, thinning with a bit of water if necesary.

Another Day's Version of Super Quick Edamame Hummus (with nuts)

Edamame (cooked according to the package)
Fresh Mint
Lemon juice (to taste, I like a lot of lemon juice)
Olive Oil
Kosher salt

Pop everything into your Cuisinart and pulse until desired consistency, thinning with a bit of water if necesary.

This is one of those recipes that kids can help make...I mean, what child doesn't love to be the Cuisinart button pusher?

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Many more good ones to come...have a great week.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Simple Weekend Brunch: Veggie Hash

I wish I could say that I toodled out to our local farmer's market, two kids in tow this morning, and put a seasonal bounty on the table. But, the reality is: my husband's off playing tennis with the guys, I've got two kids who are totally beat from a big week in the sun, and I really wanted to sneak off and read during the quiet period when my kids were immersed in their LEGO creations.

Still, on a moments notice, we had a fabulous breakfast together. It wasn't the freshest, but it hit the spot. One of the secrets to being able to whip up quick, yummy meals for your family is to have a well-stocked pantry and freezer.

Brunch Veggie Hash
(4 servings)
1 package of Trader Joe's Country Potatoes with Haricots Verts and Wild Mushrooms (found in the frozen section)
6 eggs (or more if you'd like leftovers or your family is bigger)
handful of shredded Parmesan

Heat the contents of the country potato package in a medium fry pan. When potatoes and veggies are just about warmed through, add the eggs and cheese. Scramble everything together until eggs are cooked. Serve to your family. Don't mention there are mushrooms in there if your child hates mushrooms. Chances are they won't even notice them in the hodge podge of delicious flavors.

I served the veggie hash with biscuits smothered in strawberry jam, sections of a juicy orange, and dried cranberries (my little one's request...) I passed on the cranberries and also forgot to photograph my plate before thoroughly enjoying this meal.

Friday, July 23, 2010

This week in lunches...

This photo pretty much sums up mornings here. Granted, this was taken minutes before we all pile into the car to go to camp (or Camp Mom as the case may be with my little one). They've been awake for hours at this point, and have enjoyed the peace and quiet of the morning and are ready to head out. I have sucked down a cup of coffee, made breakfast, made lunch, checked my email and maybe run a brush through my hair. Maybe. Anyway, I have lunch packing down to a few minutes, but the contents within are still packed with care. This week was not nearly as "gourmet" or adventuresome as some weeks, but since many of you emailed saying you liked to see what I was packing, here's what was in the lunchbox this week:

Monday: a small container of crunchy dried fruit (that's the full bag in the photo, but one bag can be split between two lunches), some carrot sticks, a slice of watermelon, (leftover, no I am not up grilling in the morning thank you very much) chicken apple sausage, a lemonade, Yo Kids yogurt tube, and the mini Fig Newtons I caved and bought while we were at the market together.

Tuesday: (which for the life of me I cannot figure out why it keeps flipping on its' side when I load the photo that is right side up on my computer?!) featured cream cheese & jelly on whole wheat (cut with a star cookie cutter), organic bell pepper slices, carrot sticks, a tub of apple sauce, lemonade and those dark things up top (or on the right as the sideways case may be) are Trader Joe's Oreo O cookies (hey, I pick my battles when shopping with my three-year-old...).

Wednesday: today's lunch was meant to be easy on the wiggly teeth-- Boursin cheese spread on a a whole wheat wrap then cut into bite-sized pinwheels, lemonade, 2 yogurt squeeze tubes, a banana, bite-sized cheese crackers and bite-sized pieces of red pepper.

Thursday: the wiggly teeth are hanging in there and making biting difficult-- apple sauce, animal crackers (which came home untouched b/c he couldn't open the package), tiny carrot "pennies", a yogurt tube, raisins, and pretzels (also untouched) along with cream cheese & jelly on whole wheat (I know I am really pushing the limit sending in heart-shaped sandwiches).

Friday: lemonade, Trader Joe's fruity flakes (which I think I like more than my kids), another Yo Kids squeeze tube of yogurt, chunks of watermelon, goldfish, a whole wheat wrap with Boursin cut into pinwheels, and some chickepa salad that is high protein and I know that he likes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sides to have on hand for quick summer dinners: Quinoa Salads

We are having a great summer. But, with days chock full of swimming, parks, tennis, and running around the yard, dinner is often times an afterthought. In the fall and winter I love to fill our home with the smell of something delicious bubbling on the stove. In the summer? We usually roll in minutes before dinnertime. The key to avoiding chaos is to have some good sides on hand. Then you can just pop some chicken or fish on the grill and dinner is made in minutes. The black bean salad I posted a few weeks ago is excellent and will hold up for several days. Quinoa salads are packed with protein and are another favorite here.

Quick Quinoa Salad with Lentils
Quinoa (cooked according to pkg, usually 1 cup quinoa: 2 cups water, covered at a simmer for about 15 minutes)
Trader Joe's Black Beluga Lentils (which come fully cooked in a pouch)
Veggie of choice (I used tomatoes)
Fresh herb (I used fresh mint)
Scallions, white part chopped
Lemon, zested and juiced
Smoked paprika
Vinaigrette (I used olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of kosher salt)

Combine everything in a bowl and let the flavors meld. Will last for up to a week in the fridge. Great served alongside grilled fish, chicken, veggies or meat.

You can vary the taste of your quinoa salad based upon the veggies/beans/etc. you add and the vinaigrette. For more of my variations on quinoa salads, you might like to click here or here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Perfect meal for a steamy week: Quick & Easy Gazpacho

Wow, this has been a hot week. The kind that keeps me away from the kitchen. It's difficult to muster up enthusiasm for cooking-- or even grilling-- when it's so, so steamy outside. And so, for the better part of this week I have been offering up dinners from the snack bar or I've popped something from Trader Joe's into the oven and cringed when I had to open the door to take it out. But, there are only so many nights when a mom should have her children's leftover onion rings with a white wine spritzer, so today was the day to figure out a homemade meal that was: quick, healthy, and didn't involve the use of the the oven or stove.


While the notion of whipping up this soup intimidates some, it really shouldn't. If you own a Cuisinart or heavy duty blender, it can literally be made in minutes. And, since it only gets better over time, make a big vat of it and serve it various ways over the next few days:
  • as is (delish)
  • first put croutons in a bowl, then top with gazpacho, letting the bread soak up the liquid
  • topped with some grilled shrimp or crab meat
  • as a side dish with an assortment of cheeses and cured meats
  • topped with some chopped avocado + cilantro + sour cream for a slightly Mexican flair
Now that I have espoused Gazpacho's virtues, and promised it's easy to make, let's get to the recipe. I've also shared some photos for those of you who like to see the quick preparation in action.

Quick & Easy Gazpacho

English or Kirby Cucumbers
Bell peppers
Olive Oil
Sherry or Red Wine Vinegar
Lemon Juice
Tomato Juice or V-8
Mint, chopped (optional)

In a Cuisinart, chop the tomatoes, peppers, jicama, onion and garlic until desired consistency (some like their Gazpacho smooth, I prefer it chunky). Add olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and tomato juice to taste. As a basic formula, it's 1 part acid (vinegar/lemon juice) to 3 parts olive oil. Start there and you can always add more of one or the other. If you want to cut the vinegar but don't want to add more olive oil, you can always add more V-8/tomato juice. Serve the soup chilled. Will keep for a week in the fridge, and the flavor will improve over time.

Here it is in photos: I pureed half of the tomatoes, with the blade on my Cuisinart. Actually, I didn't puree them, my sous chef got in on the action.

Oh, one thing worth mentioning: you'll notice on a lot of Gazpacho recipes, you're supposed to "peel and seed the tomatoes". That doesn't happen here. I just cut out the stem, then toss them in, skins, peels and all.

This is what the pureed tomatoes looked like.

Then I switched to the shredder attachment on the Cuisinart, and shredded the rest of my tomatoes so they'd be a little more chunky.

Next up were cucumbers. I found these small ones at the supermarket, that didn't require anything but a quick wash and they fit down the chute. Brilliant.

You'll see that I am just adding each new veggie that fills my Cuisinart bowl to a large mixing bowl. No need to clean the Cuisinart bowl between veggies... they're all ending up in the same place!

Next up: onions.

Then: green bell peppers.

And last: another cucumber and a medium-sized jicama. Whoa, we have outgrown our bowl.

A few lemons squeezed into the new big pot, then a quick pour of sherry vinegar and olive oil...

and a splash or two of Low Sodium V-8.

Then my piece de resistance (since I had some in my herb pot outside): fresh mint, chopped in the Cuisinart.
Add the mint, and a sprinkle of kosher salt and plenty of fresh pepper. Give it a stir and

done! Tonight eaten as is, no fancy toppings, but I did serve it with a side of hearty whole grain bread. Perfect.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cooking with Kids: Blueberry Muffins

Baking's not really my thing. I much prefer to improvise with a little of this and a little of that, rather than follow a recipe with the right proportions. But my younger child loves to help out in the kitchen, and at his age, baking is a better gig than hovering over a hot pot or using sharp knives together. So, this morning we whipped up some blueberry muffins, putting the bounty of berries on the counter to good use. I did the measuring, he did the dumping into the bowl, washed the blueberries, used the hand mixer with reckless abandon and wiped the counter down as I filled the muffin cups.

Blueberry Muffins
Yields 12 Muffins
(adapted from a Stonyfield advertisement, which was sort of pointless since I didn't have any yogurt on hand*...)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
between 1/2 to 2/3 cup of sugar (depending upon how sweet you want them)
1 cup of sour cream* (which was supposed to be yogurt, but I didn't have any)
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, room temp
lemon zest
1 1/2 cups of blueberries
Turbinado sugar (optional, to sprinkle on top before baking)

Preheat oven to 375 and spray muffins tins with cooking spray (which we didn't do, so ours are, um, stuck but still taste good). In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except blueberries. Using a hand mixer, blend on low speed until combined. Fold in the fresh blueberries. Spoon into twelve muffins cups. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes (depending upon your oven, mine always takes longer) until tops are lightly browned and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For the first year that I can remember, someone else will be doing the cooking this Fourth of July. So, this might be as festive as my cooking gets this weekend? But for those of you looking for a festive treat idea to make (and one that is great for little helping hands to get in on the action), I'll send you back to last year's posts from the 4th here and here!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Last camp lunchbox of the week

It should be fairly obvious who hasn't gone to the supermarket the past couple of days. The only fresh fruit or veggie in today's lunchbox is the apricot (which I packaged in a little tub today after scraping a smushed one off the lunchbox last night. I thought my packing was foolproof yesterday but those lunchboxes must fly through the air then get kicked from boy to boy a few times before the children sit down to lunch?!).

Anyhow, here's what's in the lunchbox today: hummus and whole wheat pita chips for dipping, a fruit leather, raisins, a cheese stick (two for my older child), freeze-dried strawberries, and a very well protected apricot.

For those who wondered about the packaging (which my little one's counselors agreed is totally kid-friendly, as he can lift the lids off and on himself), here's that original post. My friend, Shiva, was mildly horrified that I sent snack in the first day in those plastic baggies since my handy dandy tubs wouldn't fit in the front pocket of the lunchbox, so she turned me on to Lunchskins, which look both fabulous and functional.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What's in the lunchbox today...

Only needed to pack one lunch today: my older child requested the last of the black bean salad (I know he likes it a lot, but over a sandwich? He won't say it but I wonder if I should go back to stars...), "ants on a log", a cheese stick, an apricot and a box of raisins for snack.

Here is the recipe for the black bean salad, for those looking for a quick, healthy side dish at your weekend BBQ, and a lunch option that travels well. (Don't forget to pack a spoon or fork!)

Black Bean, Corn & Jicama Salad

Black Bean, Corn & Jicama Salad

Black beans, rinsed and drained

Fresh corn kernels or frozen corn, thawed
Jicama, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Scallions, chopped
Basil, chiffonade or chopped

Lime juice
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Use proportions of the first six ingredients (black beans through basil) that your family will enjoy. Mix together in a big bowl, and add fresh lime juice and olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste.

The colors get a little less vibrant, but the flavors meld if it last a few days in your fridge. Great served with grilled fish, chicken, or can become a Mexican Shrimp Salad with the addition of some greens, grilled shrimp, and a drizzle of a little more lime vinaigrette...