Saturday, January 30, 2010

Congratulations...

To Amer21. You are the big winner of the Stonyfield Yo Baby Giveaway! Drop me an email at sweetpeaeats@gmail.com to confirm!

SPC

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Unplugged and then, unplugged. Oh, and a Stonyfield giveaway!

Last week, while on vacation, I didn't get on the computer, Internet, smart phone, anything for a week. It felt good. I am firm believer in the potential tyranny of technology, so to just unplug for a week, well, it was refreshing.

When we returned home I was anxious to upload some photos of our trip. Our USB cord for the camera? Completely vanished. Both SPH and I contend we saw it on our kitchen counter while unpacking, but it is gone. Another item lost to the mysterious vortex in our home. This vortex also enjoys snatching socks. But I digress...after a week of being unplugged, we returned to find ourselves unplugged, as in, where is that #&$^ computer cord?

But happy day, I have a technologically savvy SPH and he helped me upload some photos. Wanna guess where we were off to last week?

Someplace warm...


Where you can drive with top down...


Have a spot of tea...


A magical place where children all ears...




Give up? This picture pretty much sums it up:



Yep, for the first time since I was seven, I, along with the whole Sweet Pea family, visited the Magic Kingdom and Disney World. We celebrated both R and G's birthdays while there, met up with some good friends, visited SPH's Aunt and Uncle and, surprisingly, ran into R's Sunday School Teacher, R and G's pediatrician and R's former tumbling teacher too.

A great time was had by all, but now it's back to reality and time for me to begin blogging again.

So, how about a giveaway? Stonyfield Yogurt has a new Yo Baby product that combines yogurt, vegetables and fruit. Yo Baby Meals combine organic yogurt, organic fruit and vegetables to create a yummy meal for baby. Brilliant!

Leave me a comment and you could win:


Free Yo Baby Meals, an adorable Eric Carle growth chart, a cute bib, reusable grocery bag and a travel bowl with lid.

Yo! You have until Saturday, January 30th at 6pm EST to leave a comment. I will announce the winner Saturday night. And as an aside, this yogurt tastes so good, it is a good way to sneak veggies into your older child too!

SPC

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Headin' Out

We're headin' out. The boys both have birthdays next week and we are surprising them with a special vacation.

I'll leave you in suspense, but I'll have photos when I return. Oh, and I also have a fun giveaway when I return too.

Until then, I leave you with this video I stumbled upon just now. G likes to think he runs with big kid crowd. Here he is this past September after R and his friends had been doing hopscotch. I think this video could be called, "Hopscotch? Yeah, I totally have it mastered."


video

It is good to remember in the cold January weeks, that shorts weather *will* be here before we know it!

Have a sweet week,
SPC

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy Endings

Now granted, this is a food blog about helping your whole family eat healthfully, but this is not a recipe you want to feed your little ones. For one, it has a good amount of alcohol. And second, it has a fair bit of espresso, not something I want pumping through the veins of my already-active-as-it-is boys.

But, sometimes it is good to have something just for you. And your grown-up friends. You remember, the ones that you used to hang out with every weekend and Thursday nights for happy hour before you had kids?

So, Ten-rrific Recipe #10 is a lightened Tiramisu. Tiramisu is one of my all time favorite desserts, but in its original form, light it ain't. I used to have a recipe for lightened tiramisu that featured some ingredients that weren't exactly natural, so I came up with this version that I like even more.

So whip some up this weekend, invite some friends over for dinner and dessert and enjoy a real conversation.

Lightened Tiramisu

2 cups espresso (if you don't have an espresso machine, either brew your coffee strong or buy instant espresso granules)
1/2 cup Kahlua or coffee flavored liquor, divided use
7-8 ounces marscapone cheese
1 - 8oz package of light cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 - 3 oz packages of ladyfingers (about 24--buy the hard ladyfingers, not the sponge-like ones if you can)
Cocoa powder for dusting

Mix the espresso and 1/4 cup of the Kahlua in a shallow dish. Set Aside.

Combine remaining 1/4 cup Kahlua, cheeses and brown sugar in a bowl. Stir until smooth and the kahlua is well incorporated.

Take one ladyfinger and dip into the espresso mixture until it is saturated. Place in a 9x9 glass dish. Repeat with half of the ladyfingers to cover the bottom of the dish. Layer half of the marscapone mixture on top. Repeat.

Dust cocoa powder on top.


Serves 8-10.

SPC

PS--Did I mention this is a really easy recipe to pull off too?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thank you Target One Spot

I love hearts. So as more and more hearts start to pop up all around this time of year, I smile. I was smiling big when I found this at the Target One Spot:True, it is actually $2.50, rather that a true one spot, but isn't it cute? I already made some adorable muffins in it (tip: take a toothpick about 5 minutes before they are done cooking to indent the top so it looks like a true heart when it is complete).

Other ideas: mini-meatloaves, baked risotto hearts, homemade jell-o, baked mac n' cheese hearts, frozen treats...the list goes on!

So pick one up before they are all gone!

SPC

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reunited and it feels so good

First, the more important reunion: SPH and I, on Friday night, after a weeklong work trip to Dallas. I can honestly say my stomach fluttered when he returned, a nice feeling to have after almost 10 years of wedded bliss. But it is hard to say if I, or the two Sweet Peas, were more excited to see him home. While the week went amazingly smooth, after a week long absence, which ended on Friday with a snow day, seeing SPH back home was wonderful.

Second, a less important, but still notable reunion: me and Cream of __________ Soup. Cream of Mushroom. Cream of Celery. Cream of Chicken. What most of these “Cream of” soups have in common is that they could be called “Cream of Hydrolyzed Funk.” While there are a lot of fast, kid-friendly and easy recipes that use Cream of ___________ Soup, I had abandoned them all because of their long list of UFIs in the ingredient list.

Not anymore.

After a long search which turned up empty, I have come up with my own version of homemade Cream of Celery Soup. I used this soup in Green Bean Casserole, and it was delicious. Now I am going back to all my old recipes to find where I can use my new version to make old recipes.

Why Cream of Celery? Well, a couple reasons: first, I wanted to make a vegetarian version, so chicken was out. Second, I wanted to make a version my kids would eat, so mushroom was out (their mushroom radar has reached peak performance, with not so much as a mushroom iota going undetected). Third, I had celery in my crisper.

So my Ten-rrific Recipe #7 is: Cream of Celery Soup. Certainly not the most alluring recipe I have ever typed on this blog, but one that I figure will become a go-to for some of you natural eaters who have been missing some of your old recipes.

Cream of Celery Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery rib, diced
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups skim milk
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic, and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown a bit.

Stir in flour, mixing well to fully incorporate. Gradually add the milk, stirring well as you add to ensure no clumping of the flour bits. Once the flour is fully incorporated into the milk, continue stirring and add the worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes.

Voila! Funk-free Cream of Celery Soup

Makes about the same amount as a can of Cream of Celery Soup.

SPC

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ten-rrific Recipe #4: Anatomy of a Stir-fry

"A little of this, a little of that." "Whatever you have on hand." "Alter it to your taste."

These phrases permeate my cooking style. If I see a recipe and it is heavy on a vegetable that just doesn't jive with my boys, then I substitute it with something that works. Or perhaps I just don't have the *exact* ingredients in my kitchen and I am not busy/tired/distracted to go to the grocery to pick up what I need.

In other words, I wing it. I hope you feel free to wing it or just get a little creative from time to time in your kitchen. It is very freeing and can lead to some great flavor discoveries.

Not comfortable with winging it? Well, I am here to give you the confidence to bring a little freedom to your kitchen creations. I call this...Anatomy of a Stir-fry. Stir-fries are hard to beat on their healthful potential and flexibility.

Anatomy of a Stir-fry:
Protein (Chicken, Pork, Beef, Shrimp or Tofu)
Aromatics (Onion, Garlic)
Vegetables (Sky's the Limit!)
Sauce
Garnish
Rice/Noodles

I used to follow stir-fry recipes exactly. But once you get comfortable with how to put a stir-fry together, you can alter to your heart's content. Go ahead and give yourself the freedom to get a little kooky in your kitchen. Come on, you know you have it in you!

This recipe below features a really basic asian flavored sauce, but you can come up with your own. Or use a bottled stir-fry sauce, like Soyaki or other natural sauce. We usually end up serving our stir-fries over brown rice, but noodles are also a fun choice for kids.

Ten-rrific Recipe #4: Anatomy of a Stir-fry

Protein: 1 pound extra firm tofu, chicken pieces or pork, beef or shrimp -OR- a combination
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Aromatics: 1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Vegetables: 1 red pepper, sliced
1 can baby corn, drained and cut into bite sized pieces
3 ribs celery, sliced
Sauce: 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Brown Rice
Black and White Sesame Seeds (optional)

1. First, prepare all your ingredients. If using tofu, slice and place between two clean towels to absorb excess liquid. Chop all your aromatics and vegetables.

2. In a large bowl, combine your protein, flour, salt and pepper. Set Aside.

3. In a large non-stick skillet or wok, heat oil over high heat. Add your protein and stir as you cook. Cook until heated through and slightly browned. Remove from the wok.

4. Next, in the heated wok add your aromatics. Cook 3-4 minutes. Add your vegetables, starting with the firmest first (things like broccoli, peppers, baby corn, carrots, celery) and ending with the vegetables that will take less time to cook (mushrooms, zucchini, greens). Cook until vegetables are tender, but still firm and not mushy.

5. Meanwhile, in a bowl prepare your sauce. For the sauce above, combine all sauce ingredients and wisk well. Add to the wok while the vegetables are still in the wok and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

6. Return your protein to the wok and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to ensure good distribution of the sauce.

7. Serve over rice or noodles, add your garnish.


Just like anything else, the more you try winging-it in the kitchen, the more comfortable you will become.

Serves 4-6

SPC

(Looking for Ten-rrific Recipe #3? Check out my post from today's FamilyEducation.com for Penne Puttanesca!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Into the Future

When I was in high school I was selected to be a reporter on a teen news and general interest show entitled, “2010, Taking You Into the Future!” At the time, 2010 was nearly 20 years away and seemed impossible to imagine. I remember thinking, “In 2010 I will be in my 30s! I will probably have children! Whoa.”

Well, here it is, the future. What seemed so far off in the mid-1990s is suddenly a present reality. On one hand, it doesn’t seem so futuristic as I may have imagined at the time, but then again, I never could have guessed that my part-time job would be to write a blog, over the Internet. In fact, if you had told me this reality, I would have probably looked at you sideways as I typed on my bitchin’ word processor and used my fancy cassette player to listen to my Wham tape.

But I digress…this is a blog about food, not my ruminations on how time flies or how much has changed in less than 20 years. It is a New Year, a new decade and for many, a new time to reflect on their personal and family’s eating habits. I am here to offer you encouragement, hope and resources for your goals. (Note: I did not say “resolutions.” I think *today* is the best day to improve yourself, be it January 1 or August 23)

So let’s get started. In the coming days, in partnership with my blog on FamilyEducation.com, I’ll share ten recipes for healthy eating. I'm calling the list Ten-rrific Recipes and Recipe #1 is Quinoa Your Way. A variation of a Rookie Cookie recipe, you have got to try quinoa. "Keen-wah" is a whole grain full of protein and flavor and looks pretty good too:



Another great power food is pomegranate and pomegranate juice. I've been using it lately in lots of different variations, from drinks to my Pomegranate Braised Pork Shoulder (you really need to try this recipe!).

Here's another fun way to use pomegranate juice in a sublimely strawberry sweet syrup that's really quite healthful. I used it on our french toast the other morning, but it could be used as a dessert topping or other ways. If nothing else, tuck it away as a great way to make breakfast look super special for Valentine's Day...

Ten-rrific Recipes #2: Pomegranate Strawberry Sauce

8 ounces pomegranate juice
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Continue to stir occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes or until the strawberries are very tender and the sauce has thickened slightly.

Makes about 2 cups sauce.


(mmm, tastes especially good with some chicken apple sausage and garnished with mint!)

And finally--an aside--

I wanted to cut to the chase and share recipes with you first, since I have been on mini-hiatus during the holidays. Other things I must mention:

**How 'bout them Buckeyes? I love Roses...
**Christmas was wonderful here, no snow in Ohio, but plenty of Legos, Star Wars and Emergency Vehicles to keep the boys happy under the tree. Oh, and check out the gifts that my two little Sous Chefs received (photo below)
**Winter Break was fun, but boy am I ready for school to start today!
**Happy New Year!



Have a great week All-
SPC