Friday, May 24, 2013

teacher gift idea: homemade dinner delivery

You don't have to stage an incredible Greek play with costumes, sets and script done by the 4th graders to deserve a homemade dinner. Really, I'd be hard pressed to find any teacher who wouldn't love-- and totally deserve-- a night off this time of year.  

Wondering what to whip up? I recently shared a few of my favorite make-ahead meals that you could pass along to a hard-working teacher these last couple weeks of school. Here's what I gifted last night, for those of you who want a bang-up idea:
  • A batch of my (amazing) chicken enchiladas (you could also make them veg, beef, etc). I delivered them frozen at the end of the school day, and told them they just needed to be heated at 350, lid off, for about 45 minutes. 
  • Because they were likely going to be salivating during those 45 minutes while their kitchen is filled with the aroma of homemade enchiladas, I also sent in: 
    • tortilla chips
    • guacamole (actually it was "kaleamole" that I found in the produce section of our local Whole Foods)
    • mango salsa (again, from the produce section at our local Whole Foods)
    • and a jar of one of my favorite salsas
    • If you wanted to make a dip, I'd make this one
  • I purchased a Mexican-themed salad with avocado dressing (from Whole Foods' prepared food section) but if you wanted to make one I'd recommend this one or this one.
  • I was squeezing cooking in in between a few errands, a tennis clinic and a meeting at school, so the second side was super easy and quick, but hearty and healthy enough that it could actually be a complete veg meal. It was kind of a Mexican-inspired variation on this rice/grain recipe and included: Seeds of Change Spanish Style Rice + roasted and then chopped organic zucchini and bell peppers + black beans + pinto beans + zest of a lime.**
  • Oh, and for dessert, I purchased Mexican Wedding Cookies (again, Whole Foods)

** Note that I totally thought I was Supermom, until I opened up the fridge in the evening (for a glass of wine, while my family's batch of enchiladas was cooking away) and realized the rice/quinoa/veg side was still in the fridge. I'd put it in to cool before running everything up to school yesterday afternoon, and completely forgotten it. Arch! So, I am really hoping my son's teachers have leftovers today and the it'll be the gift that keeps on giving with a second meal.... don't take my cape away yet.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

make ahead meals = EASY family dinners on the busiest of days

Our school year is wrapping up, and after school activities have me busier than ever. Unlike months of May past, I find myself driving from fields to courts, late after school pick-ups from appointments and team practices that go well into the evening. Still, I want family dinners as often as we can make them happen. It's not even that my kids are into eating... it's just the grounding nature of a family dinner. 

To get ahead of the curve, I spent 2 hours last night stocking our freezer. I had every intention of getting the cooking done during the rainy Sunday, but somehow the day slipped away. I had gotten the marketing done early in the day, but then totally ran out of time to actually cook. While tempting to come home in the evening and curl up with a book, I started cooking at 8pm and still wrapped things up / had the kitchen cleaned up by 10:30. Not bad!

First up: organic beef and veggie lasagnas (a variation on-- and multiplication-- of this recipe).

Start to finish, I had those lasagnas assembled in less than a 1/2 an hour. (The key is to use oven-ready lasagna noodles.)

Then I hauled out a big pot and make my go-to turkey chili, knowing that would take the longest to cool down. Since that's a "pop it in the pot and let it do its' thing" recipe, again, it was made in less than a 1/2 hour.

Next up, a giant batch of my chicken enchiladas, made with 2 rotisserie chickens and loaded with extra veggies. 

Last, but certainly not least: my greens and cheese pie, which freezes beautifully and is a hearty veg option. 

I cooked everything in a precise order, so everything had time to cool down.

And after 2 hours of cooking I had a plethora of wholesome family dinners ready for us, and a set to share with a family who I thought could use a variety of homemade meals made with love and nourishing ingredients. 

Do you have favorite freezer-friendly meals? I'd love to hear how you get ahead of the cooking curve on the busiest of days!

Friday, May 17, 2013

game day snacks

I used to think the parents who started their Saturdays bright and early, filling their car with little uniformed kids, going off to back-to-back games, were crazy. Now I am one. And I still think it's crazy.

But I am doing it because my kids are relishing all of this time on different fields. I will full admit to having no idea of the rules of the games I am spectating, but I do have the snack gig well covered.

Last weekend, I brought along sesame-almonds (from Trader Joe's nut aisle), chunks of cucumber, an apple (currently in the mouth and out of the shot), and some cinnamon letter cookies (also from Trader Joe's). When packing a snack (that has to sustain a 6-year-old for 3 hours of back-to-back tball and soccer practices and games), I try to include:

a fruit + a veggie + a protein + a treat

A quick perusal of my blog and I was reminded of few more favorite snacks that are portable:

Next challenge? Dinners for the bleachers at night baseball games....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

the full plate blog picked as a favorite!

No, that's not me. That's my dear friend, Elissa. I wish I were half as fashionable as she is, on a daily basis. You know how some people just 'get' fashion? I get cooking, but I most certainly will not be asked to help someone curate their closet, let alone have people clamoring for what I wore last weekend. And so, I was super flattered when Elissa named the full plate blog as one of her two favorite blogs alongside Hotel Chic. Want to see what else makes her swoon?  If you're not already a member, I think you can use this code to get in: 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

please vote for the full plate blog / meals in a snap!

like the full plate blog?
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i *truly* appreciate you taking a second to vote!

mother's day Eggs Benny... made by me (by choice)

I know, I know... on Mother's Day I am supposed to luxuriate in bed, waiting for the pitter patter of little feet bringing me breakfast in bed. But on Saturday, our children's tball/soccer/baseball games were rained out and I found myself with a few minutes to peruse the newspaper, where I spotted a recipe for "Great Eggs Benny". (Shocking, I know, that I go straight to the recipe section of any paper...) In the article, the author extols the virtues of homemade English muffins. I skipped that part.

I'm sure hers are better.... but I was most excited about the perfectly poached eggs (which I taught myself-- and you-- to make last week), and homemade hollandaise (which I'd never made. Who knew it's so easy to whip up?... As long as you're not afraid of butter!). I woke up early on Mother's Day excited to whip up a decadent brunch for my family-- and my own mom, who is in town visiting. 

I will fully admit to assuming Eggs Benedict was some complicated dish, only ordered when out to brunch. But the recipe was surprisingly easy-- and quick. Here's the recipe I was working off of. But my copy is now covered in melted butter, so I am copying her hollandaise sauce here so I have it for ever and ever...

Hollandaise Sauce
Total Time: 10 minutes Makes: About 1 cup
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
Dash of hot sauce
1 stick butter
1. Place yolks, lemon juice, salt and hot sauce in a blender or food processor. Pulse to combine.
2. In a small saucepan, melt butter, then remove pan from heat.
3. Turn on blender or food processor and drizzle melted butter into yolk mixture. Continue blending until mixture emulsifies and thickens slightly. Serve immediately or keep warm in a double boiler.

Oh, and I made a sautéed kale version for my mom who doesn't care for Canadian bacon. Also amazing. (The veg version, not the fact that my super health-conscious mom eschews processed meat, ha.)

After thoroughly enjoying our homemade brunch, we all headed out for a gorgeous hike, and worked off all that buttery goodness. 

It was a perfect Mother's Day.

Then we came home, got tarted up, and I let someone else make dinner! I went to sleep tuckered out and feeling thankful for my two sweet children, and my day "off".

Friday, May 10, 2013

Avocado-Mango Smoothie

Having just taught a cooking class on "clean eating" to a bunch of friends + full plate blog readers, I am totally inspired to do my own 7-day clean eating gig. I've looked at the calendar, and next week looks as good as any. Check back with me afterwards... I'll be the one with the fabulously glossy hair, clearer skin, stronger nails and perhaps smaller backside. (Whether the smaller bottom is actually the case or not, all that self-care has me feeling like it is the case... which, in a happily cyclical way, makes me want to continue to take care of myself... resulting in a smaller backside. Get it?)

Anyway, this morning I concocted a smoothie worthy of sustaining me through one school meeting, two hours of vigorous tennis, and a grocery marketing run-- and I felt content and energetic. It's one I'll definitely incorporate next week:

Avocado-Mango Smoothie
(makes 4 servings)

1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks
1 banana
1 cup mango, cut into chunks
1/2 cup pineapple chunks (frozen)
3 large handfuls baby kale (about 4 cups)
coconut water, added until desired consistency
juice of 1 lemon

Blend everything until desired consistency. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

making the most of a leisurely morning: poached eggs on sautéed quinoa and kale with lemon zest

I woke up early and donned tennis whites. It's now almost noon and I'm still in my tennis whites, though they won't see a court today. Best laid social/workout plans derailed by a sick child. The upside of a morning tethered to the house: time to make a leisurely breakfast. Actually it took me about 10 minutes to make... but that's 10 minutes I don't usually have on a busy school morning. I'll share the recipe with you, in case you too find yourself with 10 extra minutes, and some quinoa, kale, eggs, and a lemon...

Sauteed Baby Kale and Quinoa with Poached Eggs and Lemon Zest
(serves 1 happy mom)

olive oil
1 cup organic baby kale
1/2 cup cooked quinoa*
1- 2 eggs
1 teaspoon vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
zest of 1 lemon
coarse sea salt and pepper, to taste

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. While waiting for that to boil, sauté kale and cooked quinoa in a bit of olive oil. (I used Olave Garlic-infused oil, yum). Pop a lid on the greens and quinoa, turn heat off and just let the kale wilt a bit. Pop the kale/quinoa mixture onto a pretty plate. (Remember, this is the bright spot in your day...)

When the water in the saucepan comes to a boil, turn heat to low so it's just at a simmer. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water, then stir it in a circular motion with a spoon to create a 'whirlpool'. Slide cracked egg(s) into the center  of the 'whirlpool', then let the egg cook for 3-4 minutes. (This will cook the whites but leave the yolk a little runny.) Remove the egg with a slotted spoon, and place it/them on top of the kale/quinoa mixture. Grind a little salt and pepper over the top, and zest a lemon atop that. Perfect. 

* I've started making a bowl of quinoa at the beginning of the week and storing it in the fridge. Not that it takes long to make, but kind of like cut up fruits and veggies-- having it readily available and ready to go means that I'll use it!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

it's a wrap!

Just finished the last of my small group cooking lessons. So fun!! That's it for live classes this spring. But, if you want to be in-the-know for Fall offerings, be sure to send me an email and I'll make sure you know if/when we're gathering again!

Simple Grilled Asparagus with Fresh Lemon Zest and Ginger

One of my easiest-- and most delicious-- asparagus recipes can now be found on the Walter Stewart's Market site! Enjoy!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

my favorite Mexican-inspired recipes for Cinco de Mayo (or any day!)

Sunday is.... May 5th!

Cinco de Mayo!

A perfect excuse to make a big batch of enchiladas. (As if you needed one.)
{Insert the sounds of a mariachi band.}
My go to enchilada recipe is here, and it is totally adaptable-- make it with your favorite veggies or meat. Really, whatever you have on hand! 
You can watch me making a batch here in this video.

Make sure to make a BIG batch, because these enchiladas freeze perfectly!

Another great Mexican-inspired option would be my vegetarian tacos. I have heard from many parents, that when their kids have the chance to "make-your-own" they are apt to try a little of this and a little of that. Turning any meal into a fun game of getting as many colors as you can on to your plate is a challenge lots of kids enjoy.

On the appetizer front, my salsa baked goat cheese dip is creamy and decadent tasting. Perfect for a casual weekend gathering, served alongside tortilla chips and veggies.
It's really simple to make, and everyone loves it!

Another easy appetizer idea would be jicama with lime juice and a sprinkling of chili powder. Light and crisp, this is a fresh and healthy option. My kids love jicama, so I set some aside when I am chopping to pop into lunch boxes, have for snack, etc. Not sure of exactly what you're shopping for? I've included a photo of jicama here. Some markets sell it already peeled and chopped, in which case, it would like like a little container of the spears pictured above.

Another favorite jicama recipe is this salad with mango, jicama and a lime vinaigrette. I had forgotten how much I love this salad until I just reposted it. Definitely making this soon.

A great make-ahead option is this jicama, black bean and corn salad. It gets even better after the flavors have melded a day or two. 

And speaking of black beans, these citrus-infused black beans are so, so good!

Leftover beans can easily become this colorful dinner later in the week.

And, last but certainly not least, cilantro-roasted veggies are delicious warm or room temp. 
I "re-purpose" any leftovers in scrambled eggs, frittatas (watch a frittata video here if you'd like), on salads, added to a grain side

That's quite a round-up of simple, colorful Mexican-inspired recipes. Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend ahead. Let me know what you whip up!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

the storm after the calm: another successful + fun cooking lesson

8:45am: the calm before the storm

11:15am: the storm after the calm

But what a delicious storm it was! I had class participants whizzing...


mixing, laughing and sampling their new found repertoire of simple, healthy, plant-based recipes, inspired by the Mediterranean. Two more classes are on the calendar, these two focused on "clean eating". For more information and availability, simply email me