Thursday, July 29, 2010

Free Water! Lemonade? That's going to cost you.

R's been asking to do a lemonade stand for months and months. Problem was, before our recent move we lived on a very busy urban street that, despite having tons of cars, was not a safe place for a stand. Problem is, now we live on a cul de sac, off of another cul de sac, with no cars at all.

So it dawned on us we are at Chautauqua with few cars (safe!) and at my aunt's place that is right on the main plaza area (customers!) and it was hot, hot, hot (people will be thirsty!), why not do a lemonade stand here?

R and G got busy right away by moving some tables and chairs to the front:

Setting up shop:

Mixing some lemonade:

And began to wait for customers:

While R did his own signs and decided to charge 25 cents a glass, G said he wanted to give his lemonade away for free, just to be nice. R didn't like this threat to his capital enterprise, so I stepped in with the compromise that G could offer free water to customers. G and R agreed to this solution, and at the end of a really fun afternoon, they learned a thing of two about business.

G learned that if you drink out of a customer's water glass right before you are about to give it to them, they'll probably decline it, even if it is free (something he did three times).

R learned that folks, especially nostalgic older folks, LOVE a lemonade stand and will give you dollar bills and ask for no change, just to give you a smile on your face.

I learned that there are a lot of great stories behind lemonade stands, and many of them involve parents, whose own children are grown, reminiscing about how it seems like "just yesterday" they were doing their own stands. I love a good story, and I like to think we created a few yesterday too.

Life is sweet (and so is R's lemonade!)-

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rainbow Quinoa

Just to come clean, I'll be forthright and tell you that my boys are a little weary of quinoa. They try it and eat a bit, but they aren't huge quinoa fans.

Yet, I know many a parent who have kids that gobble this wonderfully healthful (lots of protein and fiber, one of only two "complete protein" in the vegetable realm) grain, so here's hoping your little ones fall into the latter category. Perhaps playing up the "rainbow" qualities of this beautifully vibrant salad will help convince them that they want, no need, to try this quinoa stuff. Either way, I had a recent request for more quinoa recipes, so here is my new favorite, based on an Eating Well recipe.

The recipe below is wonderfully balanced between earthy and sweet. The quinoa and black beans give earthy tones, while the mango, sweet bell pepper and orange juice dressing combine to finish the dish with a suitable sweetness.

Usually I make this with regular quinoa, but at Trader Joe's two weeks ago they were demonstarting red quinoa. I should have put a sign on my forehead that read "easy target" as I had a feeling I would probably pick up some, and once I tasted it, I was scoping some up before you could say "red quinoa."

If you follow nutrition suggestions, many folks who are way more knowledgeable than I suggest eating a "rainbow" of fruits and vegetables. This salad has red, orange, yellow, green...and purple. G helped me make it this time, and he suggested we add some blueberries to make our rainbow complete. Maybe next time?

Rainbow Quinoa

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 large navel oranges worth)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 cups black beans
1 small or medium red pepper, seeded and diced
1 small or medium yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup mango, diced (I use frozen mango, thaw it partially, dice it up and it works perfectly)
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup cilantro, minced

Bring the water to a boil. Rinse the quinoa well and drain, and add to the boiling water. Reduce water to a simmer, cover and let cook 10-15 minutes or until all the water has evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, mix the orange juice, vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Add the quinoa and mix well.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Like most composed, marinated dishes, this tastes better if it is made an hour or so ahead of time, or even the day prior.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish, 4 for a lunch or light dinner.

Have a sweet weekend-

PS--Yes, it is Saturday night and I am posting a quinoa recipe. We leave tomorrow from my parent's house (Cleveland) for our annual week at Chautauqua (New York). I can't wait, and as I finish up some laundry and other pre-trip tasks, I am blogging's going to be a wild night!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No Cook Italian Summer Vegetables

(Yesterday I spent a few hours at Nationwide Children's Hospital so G could get stitches on his forehead, just like big brother. Okay boys, seriously, I've had enough of the hospital. SPH and I tried to count last night, and we think we've been to the ER at least 6 times, been admitted once, had one minor "procedure" and 3 surgeries. I think we may be ready to christen our own wing. But enough about our trips to the hospital...)

It was great to read your suggestions for new recipe ideas last week. I think this recipe may kill two birds, er, recipes with one stone. Jenny, for you, this is a no-cook recipe that can serve as a side or a light main dish. Camille and Nicole, this recipe uses yellow squash, zucchini or cucumber, in whatever combination you prefer.

Easy Italian Summer Vegetables

4-5 cups diced vegetables (I used about 2 ears of corn, straight off the cob--no need to boil, 2 yellow squash, and a zucchini, but you can use cucumber, sweet peas or even thawed frozen green beans)
1/4 cup sliced red onion (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or apple cider or rice wine)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Combine vegetables, onion, basil and mozzarella in a medium or large bowl.

Add the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir well.

Let sit for at least one hour before serving. The vinegar in the dressing "cooks" the vegetables a bit and they are soft to eat.

Serves 4-6.

I've made this twice already in the last week, and it is an instant hit. So easy, so fresh, and even the boys eat it. Don't let the simple ingredients fool you, the fresh vegetables, combined with the slight acidity of the vinegar, and creaminess of the cheese create a heavenly combination!

Oh and Nicole and Camille, I am working on a recipe that uses a *lot* of yellow squash, I am just not ready to post as it is still "in development." :) Stay tuned.

Make it a sweet day-

Monday, July 19, 2010

Settling In

We've been in our new house for one month now and it is slowly becoming more "home" to me each day. I feel so thankful for so many things, but one of the simplest pleasures of our new home is our kitchen island:

The island is where I prepare most of our meals and it also serves as an interim kitchen table until we choose our "real" table. In our old house there was no where for anyone to sit while I cooked, so to have a place for the boys to color, chat or help with the cooking is priceless. Already I can imagine the boys doing homework as I hastily prepare snacks and meals for their bottomless-pit tween and teenage stomachs.

Speaking of hungry stomachs, I've managed to actually come up with a meal plan for the week that I can share with you. It's been weeks since I did this, but with a slightly more settled home comes a little more time to share our meals for the week:

Grilled Fish, Sauteed Okra (new recipe), Italian No-Cook Vegetable Salad (hope to be ready to share this recipe soon--Camille and Nicole, it's chuck full of yellow squash and cucumbers!)
Smoked Turkey, Cheese, Red Cabbage and Potato Salad
Vegetarian Enchiladas, Green Chili Rice and Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Mango Dal, Indian Side Dishes from Trader Joe's, Naan
Main Dish Spinach Salad
Tuna Pan Baguette with Fresh Fruit

So, there you go!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Raspberry Granita. Or Sorbet. Or...

This easy summer dessert has been mulling it the back of my head for years. I first tasted a granita at a friend's house years ago and ever since the name of this frozen dessert pops up from time to time in random places, always giving me pause to think, "I should try this."

Enter another recipe I recently read for a homemade sorbet that you made in the freezer (ie, without needing an ice cream maker) and it was time to give this idea a try.

Not sure if this is technically a granita or sorbet, but regardless, it is simple and simply delicious. R was my taste-tester for this recipe, and he declared after eating a bit, "it's perfect!"

Raspberry Granita/Sorbet

2 pints raspberries
1 cup natural applesauce

Puree the raspberries in a food processor or blender. If you aren't a seed person, take a fine sieve and pour the puree through the sieve to remove the seeds. (We didn't remove the seeds, as we're just kooky like that)

Add the applesauce to the raspberry puree and mix well.

Pour into a 9x9 glass dish or the like, and put into the freezer for 30-45 minutes.

With a spoon, scrape the frozen parts into little piles.

Freeze for another 20 minutes or so and scrape again. Repeat until you have frozen granita like this:

(R, showing off his bowl of "it's perfect" granita)

Serves about 4, perfect for after a hot summer weekday supper.

Have a sweet weekend-

Thursday, July 15, 2010

KIDStrong Winner

Congratulations to...


You are the winner of the 2 cases of KIDStrong.

Email me at with your address and I'll get it on its way to you!


PS--Thanks to all of you for your great recipe request ideas. I'll be working on them in the coming days and be sure to report back!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Broccoli and Bowties

This recipe isn't fancy, but it is real food, real quick. It seems to me that even the pickiest kids seem to eat broccoli and pasta, so I combined them into one healthful recipe that is easy and fast.

Click on over to for the recipe.

Simple, short and sweet-

Monday, July 12, 2010

KIDStrong Giveaway!

It's another morning to myself, which is the perfect time to post a new giveaway! But first, a little background:

It has been hot. Darn hot. So hot you start sweating the second you walk outside and merely sit down. Despite the fact that as I type it is rainy and cooler, later this week, it will be HOT again. Did I mention it's been hot?

With all this heat, R has begun requesting sports' drinks whenever he plays T-ball or soccer, which is what "all the cool athletes drink." I think he looks pretty cool himself--

While I certainly want to keep R hydrated while he plays, I just didn't love the fact that downing a sports' drink also means downing artificial coloring and other gunk that just don't do his body well.

I was so excited to learn about KIDStrong, a natural hydration drink and even more excited when R tried it and loved it even more than traditional drinks. It tastes great, appeals to kids and unlike other mainstream drinks, is 100% cool is that?

I love it so much I want to share the love with you. I am giving away 2 cases of KIDStrong to one lucky winner...a case each of orange and grape flavor.

To enter, leave me a comment with what sort of recipe you want to see in the near future on Sweet Peas and Pumpkins. You have until Thursday, July 15th at 8 PM EST to enter. I'll pick a random winner and post their name on Thursday evening.

In the meantime, stay cool-

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pastrami Style Pork Tenderloin

It's 8am on Saturday morning, the whole family is still sleeping and I have a moment to myself. Mornings like this are beautiful, a real gift.

My parents are visiting this weekend to help us continue with the setting up of our new home. Things are going well, slow, since I refuse to sacrifice all the summer fun to the tyranny of opening box after box. The boxes aren't going anywhere, and since I am not interested in impressing anyone with my speed and dexterity of making our home look finished, the slow pace suits me just fine.

But with my parents here this weekend we have two extra sets of hands on deck to help, so last night I treated them to a great meal to help say "thanks" in advance for their sure-to-be awesome help. They both love pork, and while the Sweet Pea Family continues to eat very little meat, if I had to pick one meat that we favor, it would be pork. Why pork? Let's just say reasons why begin with bacon and end with barbecue.

I started mulling options for a pork tenderloin main dish and somehow fell upon the idea of doing a pastrami rub for the pork. SPH loves pastrami and I knew it would suit my parents well too. This rub I developed is lower in sodium than a traditional pastrami yet still tastes delicious.

Everyone in our family gobbled this up...

Pastrami Style Pork Tenderloin

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 - 1 pound pork tenderloins

With a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or in a heavy duty plastic bag with a mallet, smash the coriander seeds and peppercorns until they are just slightly broken. If some are still whole, that is fine.

In a shallow dish (to use for marinating), mix the coriander and peppercorns, salt, brown sugar, paprika and garlic powder. Mix well. Add the mustard and olive oil to make a thick paste or "wet rub" for the pork.

Add the pork and coat well with the spice mixture. Refrigerate for an hour of up to 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven or grill to 450 degrees. Cook the tenderloins for 25-35 minutes or until the pork reaches and internal temperature of 155 degrees.

Let the pork "rest" for about 10 minutes before thinly slicing.

Serve with baguette and mustard.

Serves 6.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Good Day Columbus!

This morning I had a fun time being on Good Day Columbus to demonstrate to quick ideas for healthy snacks for summer road trips. Thanks GDC for inviting me to come back on your show!!

Here are the recipes I shared this morning:

Peanut Butter Energy Bars

Homemade Happy Trails Mix (adapted from my "Cloud Mix")


Friday, July 2, 2010

Honey Vanilla Cheesecake

It's July...June is behind us and, phew, what a month it was. We sold a house, rented back on a house, bought a house, flooded a house, packed a house, moved a house, and unpacked (a bit) a house. To say we've been a bit caught up in house stuff would be a huge understatement.

Oh, we did have some fun too, in the form of a Clippers' game:

And a trip to visit SPH's family at the beach:

But onward with July and the 4th which is creeping up on us...soon.

The boys' have been so patient with all the house stuff, I decided to treat them last night to a dessert that I have been developing for a bit in my mind. This dessert is quick, easy and if you choose to use a premade crust, no-bake. It is so delicious, you will never guess it is low fat!

Honey Vanilla Cheesecake

1 premade Graham Cracker pie crust


8 ounces Graham Crackers, Vanilla Wafers or other similar cookie
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 envelope gelatin
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
2 - 8 ounce packages reduced fat cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey
seasonal fruit

If making your own crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crumble the Graham Crackers or Vanilla Wafers either in a large zip storage bag or a food processor. Pour into a springform or pie pan and mix in butter and oil. Press into the bottom and sides (if using a springform, it will only need to come up about an inch or so) of the pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, sour cream and gelatin over medium low heat until the gelatin melts. Be sure to stir regularly with a whisk.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and sugar together until well incorporated. Add the egg mixture to the milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately and add the cream cheese, vanilla and honey until the cream cheese is melted and the mixture is creamy.

Pour the cream cheese into the pan and refrigerate, at least 3 hours, or overnight. Top with seasonal fruit.

Perfect for this weekend, don't you think?

Happy 4th All-