Thursday, September 26, 2013

A fall picnic

{Photo credits: Midwest Living}

I love the idea of a fall picnic. Picnics in the summertime are pretty common, but once fall's crisp weather comes around picnics sort of fall off the radar. But who says you can't bundle up in sweaters and scarves and cozy-up to an outdoor meal?

I am sooooo doing this.

I got the inspiration as I was flipping through the recent issue of Midwest Living magazine. The beautiful fall colors, the warmth of a plaid blanket-turned tablecloth, the caramel apple bar.

Yeah, a caramel apple bar. How brilliant is that?  

{Photo credits: Midwest Living}

Erik and my house is surrounded by tall trees. In the fall it is a gorgeous explosion of reds and oranges. We can picnic right in our backyard or head to a nearby park.

As far as a picnic menu, here is what I'm thinking:

Hot apple cider in thermoses
BLTs and/or caprese sandwiches wrapped in parchment paper
Mac and cheese bites (Juliet would adore these)
Kettle chips
A caramel apple bar (as shown above)

or if you wanted to go for more of a brunch-style picnic:

Coffee/tea and hot apple cider in thermoses
Individual herb and blue cheese quiche (great option because they can be served at room temperature)
Fruit salad in mason jars
Homemade pumpkin pie pop tarts

Yum. I can't wait to do this. I'm guessing a temperature of 60ish degrees or higher will be needed, especially with a toddler. The nice thing about a picnic with a little one is they can run around and you don't have to worry about them whining about being stuck in a high chair.

Have you ever been on a fall picnic?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kale, strawberry and avocado salad

I mentioned in a recent post that I really want to be more deliberate about taking time in the kitchen cooking and baking. My goal is to have one new recipe post a week, which means that I should plan a fun recipe to test every weekend. Juliet is working her way to one nap a day and it's usually at least 2 hours, a perfect amount of time for recipe testing.

With summer here I crave lighter foods, and even salads...which is weird for me. Have I ever mentioned that back in the day, in my early 20's, I was on the South Beach Diet for years and as a result I tend to never want salad. I just over-did it on salads back then.


With that being said, I do enjoy a healthy salad every once in a while and I'll definitely be making this one again soon. Kale is abundant at the Farmer's Markets right now and strawberries are in-season in MN, too. This salad is easy and quick and healthy and beautiful.

I googled kale salads on Saturday when I was in need of a light lunch and this recipe came up via Two Peas and Their Pod (an awesome food blog that you're probably already familiar with).

The salad was delicious and I ate a huge serving of it. With kale being full of calcium, vitamin a and c...and well, basically everything else good you can think of...and avocado being full of good fat, the salad was filling and hearty enough for a meal.

Kale, strawberry and avocado salad (recipe via Two Peas andTheir Pod) 

Ingredients

4 cups chopped kale, stems removed
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 avocado, sliced
1/3 cup sliced almonds 

For the Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup (I use pure organic from Trader Joes), original recipe calls for honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
1. Put the kale in a large bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands until the leaves are darker in color and tender.
2. Add the strawberries, avocado, and almonds. Toss gently.
3. In a small jar, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Shake until mixed well.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve.

Note, the original recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of feta cheese, which would be a great addition (so would goat cheese). I had neither which is the only reason it's omitted. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mac and cheese with sweet potatoes {toddler meal}

I've been meaning to make Juliet homemade mac and cheese for a while and hadn't gotten around to it until yesterday.  I bought a couple boxes of Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese but then thought to myself, why don't I just whip some up homemade?  And I'm glad I did because it was super easy and healthier than the boxed variety.

I found this recipe for mac and cheese via Pinterest.  It includes pumpkin puree which I thought sounded great.  I had sweet potato puree that I had made Juliet a couple weeks ago in my freezer, so I thawed out some of that and added it (instead of pumpkin).  Either would work.  Adding this is awesome because it ups the nutritional value and gives the mac and cheese a rich, orange color, which is what we're used to seeing (unfortunately) from the artificial dyes in the Kraft boxed kind.  To see some inspiring women create change in the food industry regarding artificial dyes at Kraft Foods, check out this blog post from Food Babe.

This mac and cheese seriously took about 15 minutes.  It's so quick you can do mostly everything (make the roux and chop extra veggies) while the noodles boil.  I had an organic zucchini and squash in my fridge so I decided to chop that up and add to the dish.

Mac and cheese with sweet potatoes (recipe via Simple Bites
Ingredients
  • 1 box (8 oz.) whole wheat macaroni pasta (I used whole wheat rotini, these are super easy for Juliet to pick up with her little fingers, I cut them in half before giving them to her)
  • 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin*
  • 1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in large pot of boiling water according to package instructions, about 8-9 minutes. Drain and set aside in large bowl.
  2. Begin making the cheese sauce by melting butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Once completely melted, add the flour little by little and mix with a whisk to prevent lumps. Cook flour and butter mixture for about 3 minutes, but do not let brown. Remove from heat and slowly add milk; mix with whisk until well combined. Return to medium-low heat and cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Add nutmeg and sweet potatoes (pumpkin puree or squash works as well). Remove from heat and add grated cheese; stir until cheese is completely melted and sauce is smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, pour cheese sauce over cooked pasta. Mix sauce and pasta until well combined. The mixture may appear a bit soupy but the pasta will absorb more of the cheese sauce as it sits. Once cooled, chop slightly in food processor for small babies or keep whole for toddlers.
Notes
*Can substitute pureed sweet potato with pumpkin puree or butternut squash.  I also included half of an organic yellow squash and zucchini (chopped into small pieces) and added it to the milk/cheese mixture prior to combining with the noodles.  This slightly cooks and softens the squash/zucchini to make it appropriate for toddlers who might not have all their teeth!

Juliet was my taste-tester and loved it!  She also was giving her new Oogaa spoon a try and did so good with it!  She isn't coordinated enough yet to scoop up the food but she understands the concept and loves eating with a spoon.  Mama helped her out a lot.  This recipe made a lot of mac and cheese and Juliet will be eating it for lunch a couple times this week and I am also taking a serving for lunch tomorrow.  It's great for adults, too!  I would just recommend adding salt and pepper to taste because I found it to be a bit sweeter than I prefer (but this is also most likely why Juliet loved it!).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Mother's Day picnic

Mother's Day was idyllic.  We had a picnic in our backyard with my family.  The weather was perfection and we sat on blankets and ate good food and lots of desserts.  My little sweetie was super happy all day, mesmerized by the trees and sky.

Here she is saying "momma, please stop with the pictures!".
A cute girlie and a picnic basket.  I caught a little smile!
Our picnic set up.
Family photos with a fussy baby.  This was the only 30 seconds she was fussy all day.  I should have tried again for better photos but totally forgot.

My sis and bro chilling on the blanket with Juliet.
Pretty tulips from Erik and Juliet.
Erik and his girlie napping on the blanket.
We kept our picnic lunch super easy with sandwiches, quinoa salad, chips and fruit.
I bought a Boston Cream Pie because it's my mom's favorite.
My brother Joel brought cupcakes.
My momma opening her Mother's Day gift and Juliet with her grandpa.
My mom, Juliet and I celebrating Mother's Day together.

I will be slowly coming back to more regular blog posts within the next week or so.  My goal will be 2-3 posts a week.  I go back to work Monday and the anticipation has been really hard.  Juliet will be with her grandma so I know that she'll have constant snuggles and love all day.  I'll just miss her so much.  But I'm lucky in that I like my job a lot and my my bosses and colleagues have already shown so much support and I haven't even come back yet.  My bosses are making sure my workload is manageable and they are throwing me a little welcome breakfast on my first day back.  Pretty great, huh?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Buffalo grilled cheese sandwich (gluten-free)

Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese month?  Yeah, I didn't either until Udi's Gluten Free Foods contacted me to create a unique grilled cheese recipe.  They partnered with Horizon Organic to provide select food bloggers product to create and showcase their recipes to celebrate grilled cheese this month. 

If you've followed my blog for a while you know that I have an obsession with buffalo sauce.  So why not create a grilled cheese with that tangy flavor; vegetarian and gluten-free?  After all, buffalo sauce tastes great on a lot of things other than just chicken wings.  I had my friend Libby over to taste test the sandwich (since I am attempting to be dairy free right now).  Libby loved the sandwich and thought it tasted awesome.  She said you don't miss having meat on the sandwich because it's so full of flavor.  I took a bite and agreed, it was delish.  I especially love how the celery adds a crunchiness and great texture. 

Buffalo grilled cheese

Ingredients

2 slices gluten-free bread (I used Udi's White Sandwich Bread)
1 slice Horizon Organic Provolone cheese
1-2 tablespoons thinly sliced celery
4 slices tomato (I used a roma)
1-2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon buffalo sauce (I used Franks Red Hot Buffalo)
1-2 tablespoons butter, softened

Preparation

Warm a skillet on medium heat.  Butter the bread.  Spread buffalo sauce on the inside of both slices of bread.  Add the slice of provolone, celery, tomato and blue cheese crumbles to a slice of bread.  Top with other slice and place on warm skillet.  Cook until the bread is lightly browned and cheese begins to melt.  Flip and brown other side of bread. 

Optional: serve with side of blue cheese dressing.

Disclosure: Udi's and Horizon Organic provided products for this post, all the opinions and recipe are my own.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Sunday family lunch

Yesterday I had my family over for a pasta lunch.  Erik was out of town ice fishing up north so I thought I'd keep myself busy cleaning/prepping/cooking for a fun lunch.  My house is pretty small so having 9 of my family members over was a bit cozy, but it worked out great. 

On the menu:

Spinach artichoke dip with baguette
Crackers and cheddar
Fruit salad
Caesar salad
Lasagna
Vegetable alfredo fettuccini
Garlic bread
Brownies with vanilla ice cream

My family helped out by bringing a dish to share.  I was in charge of appetizers and the pasta.  I kept it pretty easy with my go-to lasagna recipe.  I also threw together the vegetable pasta that included kale, squash, red pepper, tomatoes and a light cream sauce. 






My favorite course was dessert. 
After my family left, I cleaned the kitchen and then relaxed on the couch.  My kitty had a rough afternoon sleeping.

I had a great weekend that was spent with a lot of "me" time.  I relished it knowing that this was probably one of the last weekends I'll ever have all to myself.  Baby girl is due in just 7 weeks (give or take a week or two).  I took major advantage of the weekend and watched lots of Food Network, got a pedicure, hung out with girlfriends, snuggled with my kitty and even enjoyed take-out Chinese food on the couch in my pjs.  It was an awesome weekend but I was definitely ready to see my honey when he got back from his trip. 

I hope you all had great weekends as well!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mini pizzas

{Photo credit: Green Kitchen Stories}

Udi's Gluten Free Foods has reached out to me and asked that I create a unique recipe using one of their products.  I'm definitely up for the challenge and know it's about time to get back into the kitchen.

On Sunday my honey and I will be hanging out on the couch, he'll be watching the Vikes game and I'll be working on a client presentation.  I figure we'll need some good food to fuel us through the day.  I'm thinking small bites, game-day type food. 

My plan is to make a few different mini gluten free pizza bites, using Udi's gluten free pizza crust.  I may get more creative than that but pizza is sounding really good to me right now...so we'll see.

I'll have the post up within the next couple days so stay tuned.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Scramblewiches

Allison, my coworker, sent me this quick, easy and yummy recipe. She is a super busy gal, always on the go, but still loves to find time to cook her own meals. Rachael Ray's magazine and cookbooks are some of her favorites.

From Allison: They're called scramblewiches and they took about 10 mins total. Cook up some deli meat (I used turkey) add eggs, scramble together. Put in hollowed out whole wheat baguette, top with Swiss cheese and put under broiler to melt cheese. Remove and top with fresh chives. SUPER easy and yummy! From Rachael ray's 365 meals cookbook.

Thanks for the great idea, Allison!

I love getting emails and ideas from readers, please send me photos and recipes of recent cooking adventures (eatdrinkpretty@gmail.com).