Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Clean 2014


We ended 2013 with gusto, and GUTS, tis the season to stuff your face and we sure did! The past is past and there is no future like the present, so we decided to embark upon a clean eating challenge to kick the new year of right and truly embrace a #Clean2014 in as many ways as possible. I am not much of a "resolutions" gal, but I do feel that there's something about the start of a fresh year that's special, different than any other time- and it makes for some great reflecting, goal setting and getting motivated.

A friend of mine posted an interesting article about three words (you can find it HERE) - and I like the concept.
I decided to pick three words of my own for 2014 and here they are: Family, Prosperity, Courage.

On the courage front, we decided to try something new that we've never done before and embark upon a "cleanse" to get this party started RIGHT. We'd toyed with the idea for ages, but when my dad texted me these two photos-


...and noted that he was juicing and eating vegan for January, that was my call to action. I've seen this man complete a very well executed conference call with a cigarette in one hand, beer in the other, laptop, smart phone and tv with the game on all at once. I'm pretty sure sharp cheddar and a good ole log of anything from Hickory Farms are among his favorite regular snack items. I'm not arguing with him on that either.

For some fitspo to keep me moving, my beloved Bar Method rang in the new year with a fitness challenge to take 18 classes in January. Challenge accepted. The stars aligned, this is the way we're doing a #Clean2014 January!

After doing a bit of research, dusting off our juicer and gearing up by indulging in some thyme and Parmesan popcorn last night- it was time to dive in.

I will post the 7 day road map of our cleanse as soon as we complete it, with notes, recipes and all the info.

Today is day 1- all juice. (see image above....)

The lovelies over at Pressed Juicery are hosting a sale on all cleanses till this Friday (1/10/14) so we opted for a 1 day to really start this crazy endeavor off in a truly clean way.

It's almost 4pm as I write this, and so far so good. I'm most looking forward to the epsom salt bath that's coming at the end of this day, and the early bedtime. Stay tuned, all the fun details of this clean, green adventure are coming soon!

In the meantime, for some inspiration- check out some of my favorite green smoothies to start your day HERE

Or check out my CLEAN, GREEN, VEGGIE, VEGAN pinterest board

HAPPY NEW YEAR & a #Clean2014 to you all!!



Happy 2014! Amazing (easy) Crab Cakes





Well. Here we are, in 2014. How did this happen? Last year was amazing, full of love, loss, triumph, stress, family, laughter and everything that makes us real and makes life worth living. As usual, we celebrate & survive all of the above with great food. This year went out as it arrived- on a bullet train- a blur of toddler, house, fun and craziness....so, we decided to celebrate the blessing of our new home by having our dear friends and their son over for a quiet dinner, some Cards Against Humanity and a toast at 9pm (East Coast New Year style).
Of course the boy decided that naps are overrated on the 31st seriously cutting into my dinner making prep time- but because I'm a mom who knows to always expect the unexpected, I had planned a super easy menu that really only took a short time to throw together some major deliciousness.
We had a variety of cheeses, crackers, quince paste & fig jam to start- along with Trader Joe's goat cheese & caramelized onion puffs. Then after the bedtime routine commenced and my little angel was tucked in and dreaming, the grown-ups dined on arugula salad with almonds, goat cheese, heirloom tomatoes & avocado, Crab/Corn Bisque, artichokes,and these scrumptious crab cakes.

Because I've made the soup many, many, many times I knew I'd have some leftover crab- so when I went to Trader Joe's I bought 1 of the large (16oz) crab claws and 1 of the 8oz lump meat containers (in the refrigerator section between the meat and cheese).


Here is what you need for these show-stopper crab cakes & garlic dippin sauce:

Crab (16oz total- I used a mix of claw and lump)
2 sleeves of Butter round crackers (like TJ's version of a Ritz)- CRUSHED to smithereens
4 green onions, minced
Juice from 2 lemons (I used home grown lemons from our tree- they are petite so it took more than 2, but if you are using store-bought 2 regular size lemons will do the trick- buy 3 though- I used some for steaming the artichokes and the juice of 1/2 a lemon for the dippin sauce)
Mayo- about 4-5 spoon fulls for the crab cakes, and then about a cup for the dippin sauce (see below)
1 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
pinch of salt
a few shakes of red pepper flakes
(THEN, for cooking):
bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese
butter & olive oil

Dippin Sauce
Mayo (about a cup)
garlic (2-3 cloves, super finely minced)
juice from 1/2 a lemon
a few dots of Siracha hot sauce, you can always add more right before serving- go easy, it's powerful!

In a large bowl combine the crab, crushed butter crackers, minced green onion, lemon juice, mayo, Old Bay, lemon pepper, salt, & pepper flakes- mix well till all ingredients are completely intergrated.
Form crab cakes- we made about 8 cakes about 3 inches in diameter- for cocktail sized cakes this recipe will make 16-20.
Lay on a baking sheet covered in wax paper, cover and refrigerate at least a hour, or till ready to cook.

Make dippin sauce:
in a small bowl combine mayo, minced garlic, lemon juice and siracha- stir, cover & refrigerate 1 hour to overnight for flavors to get really well married.

When ready to cook- in a large skillet, heat 2 table spoons butter, 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat, coat each cake in a 50/50 mix of bread crumbs and Parmesan and pan-fry about 5 minutes per side/ till golden brown. Serve with fresh avocado & yummy dippin sauce!

Wishing you all the best for this New Year~ Happy 2014~







Monday, December 23, 2013

Chocolate Chip Mocha Fudge Cookies



I try to attempt a new Christmas cookie recipe every year and see if it's a "keeper". This year I hit a home run & I have a feeling these will be making several appearances through out the year as a go-to chocolate cookie- the variation possibilities are pretty endless.

Here is what you'll need:
1 1/4 C Butter, softened
2 C white sugar
2 eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
2 T instant coffee/espresso powder
1 16oz bag mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a medium bowl.
Using a stand mixer w the paddle attachment, whip the butter & sugar into a fluffy dream of yumminess. Add the eggs, one at a time- keep mixin, add the vanilla.
Slowly add in the bowl of dry ingredients until fully incorporated.
Use a large, sturdy spatula and stir in the coffee/espresso and chocolate chips. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (I did overnight, but I think you'd be ok in 2 hours)
Preheat the oven to 350, use a spoon and your hands to form walnut sized globs, keep em kinda messy looking, not perfect balls.
Space about 2 inches apart and bake for 9 minutes, they won't look totally done. Let them sit on the baking sheet 5-10 minutes before you transfer them to a cooling rack.

They would be great topped with smashed candy cane, and I am pretty sure some shredded coconut is going in the next time I bust these out!

ENJOY!! XO

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tis the season- budget friendly diy gifts




Tis the season to GIVE. That's truly (other than the food) my very favorite thing about the winter holidays. This year Logan is in a preschool group and I was excited to make something for his teachers, but have to be honest- as a stay at home mama, our budget it TIGHT and there are SEVEN amazing women who assist with his group. Pinterest is super helpful in times like these, and you can really get inspired, or overwhelmed searching all the amazing ideas!!

This is just a quick post to share what I ended up making. Due to the hoarding of glass jars that began here in October, the use of ingredients and materials I had on hand, this came in at around $3 per gift.




What you will need:

JARS
(as many jars as you will be gifting, I started saving glass jars from items we used in October for the project to keep budget in target range. Michael's also ran a sale at the end of November w Mason Jars for $0.99)
Burlap or fabric (I had this leftover from the GIVE THANKS banner I made last month)
Yarn or ribbon

Ornaments- I bought these on sale for less than $1 at Michael's- they were plain wood, I had my son help me paint them white so the gift is truly from him as well. While the paint was still wet we added some shimmer (iridescent glitter)



Mocha Mix:
This is pretty much unsweetened cocoa, sugar, powdered milk and instant coffee, I also add a bit of cinnamon. There are tons of recipes if you do a quick Google search.

My mix is pretty much 1 part cocoa, 1 part sugar 1/2 part milk 1/4 part coffee, pinch of cinnamon- increase volume to fill as many jars as you need. To save time, money and space, fill the jars only half or 2/3 full and top off with mini-marshmallows.
You can also sub a candy cane for the ornament idea!
I attached a card with instructions to mix 2 tsp with 1 cup warm/hot milk or water.

CHEERS!!!




Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013



Gearing up for our first time hosting family for Thanksgiving AND our first Thanksgiving as homeowners in our new place!
I thought I would share the menu, now that I've got it set, to help inspire anyone still working out their details- PLEASE share your menu and links (to recipes only please, spam will be deleted) so we can all get ideas & prepare for next week's food-fest!
CHEERS!!

                                                   

PRE-GAME
Devil'd Eggs
Turkey-veggie tray (above is the one we made last year)
Sweet potato chips- Costco had the Terra Chips last week so I got those
Crackers- Trader Joe's
Hummus- I'm buyin it at Trader Joe's
Cranberry cheese log- Also Trader Joe's- I buy at least one of these a year- SO GOOD!
Nuts- Trader Joe's assorted



MAIN EVENT
Turkey- I will have to post AFTER we make it, we will be smoking our bird in the smoker this year! First for everything!
Gravy
Garlic Mashed (no-peel) potatoes- I make these often, will add a recipe in my wrap-up, basically when making so much other stuff to cut down on prep, I bake the potatoes whole then scoop the inside away from the peel instead of peeling the potatoes and boiling them.
Cranberry Relish (I am making my own version, similar to THIS (with apples & orange zest, but no celery)
Green beans with bacon & crispy home-fried onions- making this one up as I go so like the Turkey, look for this recipe after Thanksgiving.

AFTERMATH
Pumpkin pie
Cherry pie
Chocolate pudding pie
Cranberry Blueberry Crumble (THIS filling with an oat & brown sugar crumble crust topping)
COFFEE.

                               

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Matzo Ball Soup


I recently wrote THIS POST about fighting the sick season and sited Matzo Ball Soup as on e of my favorite defenses against the yuckies. I have never attempted to make this myself, but usually haul buns to a deli or Bristol Farms and buy it when things get under the weather over here. I know there are mixes for this, but really wanted a recipe for the homemade stuff. I found one, then lost it...somehow never pinned the sucker, so while at the market today I scooped up a container of Matzo meal and decided to try to make up my own recipe. It came out pretty good for a first try & now I'm ready to make it when we need it!! I also froze half for extra preparedness. Apologies for any errors that make this not-kosher or not "real" Matzo ball soup, this is the Italian mama version ;)

Here is what you will need:

2 large carrots
4 celery stalks
1/2 a brown onion
1 T salted butter
3 large eggs
2 32oz cartons chicken broth or stock
3/4 cup matzo meal
2 chicken breasts from a rotisserie chicken, keep it simple people. (chop up into bite sized pieces)
salt


Chop celery carrots an onion into bite sized pieces
Place butter in stock pot on medium low heat and add celery, onion & carrot- stir about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, raise heat to medium-high & start makin the matzo balls!
This is the recipe from the Manischewitz Matzo Meal container- figured stick with a professional opinion on my first try.
Separate the eggs.
Use a hand or stand mixer to beat the egg WHITES until stiff.
Use a spatula to fold in the yolks, then fold in the matzo meal & a pinch of salt.
Let the matzo mix sit for about 5 minutes.
When stock is boiling- use a spoon to form walnut-sized matzo balls & drop into boiling soup mixture. Lower heat, cover and simmer 40 minutes....WITH OUT UNCOVERING (apparently that's they way to do it.) Heat the chicken up in a little skillet so it doesn't get cooked to oblivion since it's already cooked- then just add it to serve.

I'm sure you could doctor this up six-ways-from-Sunday with other herbs, rice, noodles, whatever grabs ya!

Logan liked it, he ate 2 of the matzo balls and lots of the chicken, he also spilled some on Leela's head and Arthrur enjoyed licking it off of her so everyone wins.


If you have a family Matzo Ball recipe you are able to share, please do- we'd love to try it!!! I will try a version using the crackers next! Stay tuned....









Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Easiest Halloween Party "recipe" ever....




This is easier than it looks, if that's even possible, like, I suppose you could do it in more than the 30 seconds I spent & make it a little more "pretty" ;) - this is 2 bags of organic carrots at .79 per bag- peeled and chopped into sticks and 2 cans of olives (that were 2 for $1) drained & rinsed.
We are talkin $3 total here people. Plus $4 on a big tub of Trader Joe's Hummus Dip (my favorite)- boom. Big, festive pumpkin face party plate for under $10!! HOORAY!