We really like making ices when the weather turns warm - and I really do not like buying ices in the store. All that red dye #4 and all. Blech. And besides, these could not have been easier to make - if you have a blender. Without one, I don't know what to tell you. A food processor maybe? A Magic Bullet?
I peeled, de-seeded and cut up one grapefruit and washed and cut the tops off of a pound of strawberries. Into the blender went all the little fruit and out come something resembling a smoothie.
I poured the fruit smoothie into my trusty ice pop maker, popped the whole thing into the freezer and then forgot about it. For like a week.
So a week later, on a hot afternoon, we broke out the ices. I enjoyed them immensely, as did two of my kids. The other kids would have enjoyed them more had the ices been a little sweeter, so experimenting with different sweetness levels before freezing might be a helpful idea. Josh wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole because of the grapefruit. Although, I'm willing to guess that these days, he might start singing a different tune - he's now on day 3 of his first Whole30 and fruit treats are starting to look pretty good these days.
We shall see what happens...
We have been having breakfast issues lately, specifically with the what to have
part of breakfast.
My kids are partial to cream cheese and saltines, an unfortunate combination that has become the go-to breakfast in the house for a while now. I have been trying to counter that by offering scrambled eggs, but really, who wants to get up early to scramble eggs every morning? I know. Me either.
So I made these muffins
) last night, in the hopes that they'd eat these for breakfast - and three out of four kids ate them happily, and in my book, that's a win.
The 100daysofrealfood mom says to put whatever you like into the muffin batter so I tripled the recipe and then added three different kinds of add-ins: chocolate chips, walnuts and coconuts. But now I think about it, I'm pretty sure she meant nice things like fruit, not questionable breakfast items like chocolate chips. What can I say? Baby steps.
The muffins are delicious and a triple recipe yielded 36 muffins, so enough for many many breakfasts and a few lunchbox treats. Like I said to Josh - one recipe makes 12 muffins. That's so cute. What would I do with 12? After everyone tastes, I'll be left with almost none.
Nope, in our house, we triple a recipe or we go home. Or however that saying goes.
Today marks three weeks since I began the Whole30 challenge
It's been very hard, exhilirating and boring, all at the same time.
Hard because I love chocolate, I miss chocolate and I think about it fondly and often.
Exhilirating because I am finally doing something for me and about me, and while I have no idea if I am losing any weight because weighing in is a big no-no until the 30 days are up, I feel better, sleep better, think better and eat better.
And boring, because I'm bored, literally bored with what I am eating.
There is only so much poached salmon, grilled chicken and diced avocados a person can eat. So for dinner tonight, I invented my own recipe and and it worked (it's okay, I'm shocked too).
It's super simple and very yummy.
And the best part, you can use as much or as little of any of the ingredients as you like.
And even better than the best part, if you have some chicken that has already been cooked sitting around in the fridge (and if you're Whole30ing, you really should have some), then you won't have to actually cook anything here, just chop, mix and eat.
What should I call this?
I think we're going to go with Citrus-Chicken Salad.
Romaine lettuce (or your favorite salad green), chopped
grapefruit, peeled, sliced and cut up
a handful of raw cashews
Toss the first five ingredients in a bowl. Add a little olive oil and salt. Retoss. Eat.
It was quite good, if I may say so myself. And there was also quite a lot left over, so I guess my dinner for tomorrow night is already done. Hooray.
And I keep thinking, Day 21 already, what am I going to do on Day 31? How and what will I eat. I'm getting nervous.
And because I seem to be the master of bad transition sentences lately, I'm now going to say that Chanukah is making me nervous too. There is still so much that I have not done. (See how I did that, with the word nervous in both sentences? Clever. I know. )
For the past fews years, I've been thinking about making a Chanukah bingo game for our family Chanukah party, but it always seems like so much work. I can make that first bingo board, no problem. It's the shuffling around of the pictures to make the other boards that throws me. So I've never done it.
I'm sure then, that you can imagine my delight when I found these free (free!) printable Chanukah themed bingo boards on Crayola.com
Just print and go.
And you can use chocolate Chanukah gelt as the pieces so even the players that don't win, win with all that chocolate. I think I'm going to be the bingo caller. I can't be trusted around all that chocolate. You know, the Whole30 and all. (See how I tied that all together like that at the end? I know.)
We'd already been to the cleaners, Target, the dollar store, the grocery and AC Moore this morning when I first realized I was hungry. This Whole30 is awesome - sometimes I actually forget to eat, but watching the little girl happily munch her way through a box of Target brand granola bars reminded me that I really did want something to eat. Sadly, my emergency bag of almonds was missing. Well, not missing for real. Just gone. As in eaten, yesterday, in another emergency situation. I really have to be more selective in my emergency situation designations.
Needless to say, by the time I got us and all the bags back into the house and put the little girl down for a nap, I was not only hungry, but cranky and in no mood to make dinner.
I had been planning on making meatballs and spaghetti, even though no one in my house likes spaghetti. But that's what your'e supposed to make with meatballs, right? What else could I do? But the thought of standing there and making the sauce and then mixing the meatballs and forming them into the little balls was way too much for me; it made me want to cry. So then I thought maybe I would make hamburgers. Much easier. But there were no hamburger buns in the freezer and my complainers, I mean my kids, prefer to have hamburger buns with their burgers. Okay, but I did have hotdog buns; I once tried to serve hotdog buns with hamburgers and the children were not pleased. Josh is much more adaptable. He just cut his burger in half to fill his hotdog bun. A pleasure to cook for, that one.
And then I remembered that when we were small, my mom, who really really didn't like to serve unhealthy things like hotdogs, would make hamburgers in the shape of hotdogs and have us make pretend. I believe we called them hotdoggers. And so that's what I did. So easy. Mix the one pound of ground turkey (or whatever you make your hamburgers with) with maybe 2 tablespoons of ketchup, around a quarter cup of bread crumbs or matzah meal and an egg. Divide the mixture into six sections and roll each one into the shape of a hotdog instead of a hamburger. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes on each side, or until they are golden on the outside and done on the inside. I don't have a meat thermometer so I just cut one open - the sacrificial hotdogger always goes to the mommy*. It's fine. I don't mind. Really.
I took less than five minutes and cut up a few sweet potatoes into smallish pieces and roasted them in the oven while the hotdoggers cooked. Defrosted the hotdog buns on the counter and hooray, a half-decent (dare I say, a three-quarters way decent?) dinner. And, and, it was so quick to make that I was able to sit and have a cup of tea and look out the window for a whole five minutes, 'till someone woke up. Heaven.
*Except this time. Because these hotdoggers are definitely not Whole30 approved.
This Shabbat we read Parshat Noach, the story of Noah and the ark which ends with a rainbow acting as a symbol that G-d will never again destroy the world through a flood.
And all week I have been watching a flood of amazing rainbow themed recipes flow out of Pinterest, Facebook and many mommy-blogs. I really wanted to throw a rainbow themed something into the mix, but I have been trying so so hard (and it's so so hard) to stick to eating clean, and food coloring filled goodies just doesn't mix well with all the clean. I kept telling myself I'd make rainbow cupcakes or this rainbow cake
that I made last year, and only give it to the kids, but
1. we both know keeping frosted cake around the house is pretty much a direct line to finding yourself covered in frosting, alone in the kitchen at midnight, stuffing your face and
2. if I am trying to keep it clean for myself, shouldn't I avoid being the one to give the kids food-colored food? I know, mean mommy. But they get plenty of that in school; I should, in theory, hold back at home.
So I thought and thought and thought and decided to go with a rainbow salad, and not just any rainbow salad, but this rainbow salad
, one I shared about six months ago and make all the time.
It's delicious, it's healthy and it's fun to look at. And not too hard to put together.
We're going to have some rainbow salad this Shabbat, but if someone were to, maybe, stop by with some rainbow cupcakes, we wouldn't ask you to leave. I'm just saying.
It's always a little weird that there's so much cooking involved in a Fast Day. And yet there is So Much Cooking to do. And it always makes me nervous - make chicken soup and everyone might wind up extra thirsty the next day. Boil some chicken and no one wants to eat it.
So this year, I moved away from the very traditional Jewish foods, just to see what would happen. We haven't eaten yet, but so far, it's been the simplest erev Yom Kippur meal I've ever made. You can prep the entire meal in way less than an hour. No photos today, we're cooking in a rush. Don't worry, we'll all just use our imaginations.
I'll show you:
Crockpot Vegetable-Lentil Soup
Baked Chicken and Brown Rice
Sauteed mushrooms and onions
Let's start at the beginning: challah. I pulled that out of the freezer. If you happen to not have any challah in the freezer, I'd go pick some up at the store. Today's not the day to start pulling out the kitchen-aid. Today's the day to figure out what you're going to do with the kids all day tomorrow. (Good idea: visit that secret closet in the attic and take a look at what hidden toys you can pull out for the day.)
Next, set up the vegetable soup in the crockpot. I just put mine up at about 8am. Cooked on high for 5 hours, it should be ready around 1pm, a great time to start the serious erev Yom Kippur snacking - and while stuffing your face with handfuls of chocolate chips from the pantry sounds amazing, it's probably not the best way to start off a fast. A bowl of fiber-full soup is probably a better idea. You can have the chocolate chips after that bowl of soup.
Here's the how-to:
5 small onions, 3 of them chopped and 2 of them sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 cup lentils
3 red potatoes, washed and cubed
1 zucchini, washed and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
8 ounces mushrooms, pre-sliced
5 cups water
a few shakes of Mrs. Dash's salt-free soup mix or you can use whatever favorite spices you have on hand.
Put all the ingredients into the crockpot - EXCEPT for the two onions you sliced . Cover and set it on high. Come back five hours later and have soup. The whole soup doesn't take more than 10 minutes to put together - these are all easy chop vegetables.
Baked Chicken and Brown Rice
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Pour 1 cup of instant brown rice into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Open the package of chicken - I used a chicken already cut into 1/8ths.
Rinse the chicken and remove the skin from the chicken pieces. A handy little tip: If you hold a paper towel in each hand and grip the chicken with one paper-toweled hand and pull the skin off with the other paper-toweled hand, it comes off quite easily. (And just an aside, I totally threw up in my mouth a little while typing that. If you know me at all, you know that touching, looking at and/or smelling raw chicken makes me gag, but I do it anyway. Mommies do so much for their families. Go us.)
Place the chicken on top of the rice. Wash your hands super-well. Pour a small amount of olive oil onto a (new) paper towel and rub it over the chicken. Sprinkle some garlic powder on top of the chicken. Next, pour enough cold water over the rice so that the water is visible through the rice. It might seem like a lot of water, but the rice will absorb it all.
Cover the pan with foil and place into the oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, uncover the pan and let the chicken cook for another 15 minutes or until it's slightly browned and done on the inside.
Minutes 20-26 (includes some standing around)
Sauteed onions and mushrooms
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and add in the sliced onions - remember when you sliced those two extra onions before? Now is when you save time because you prepped all your onions at once.
Saute the onions for two minutes or until they start to get soft. Add in 2 containers of already sliced mushrooms (timesaver!). Saute the mushrooms and onions until everything in the pan is browned and soft and much of the liquid has evaporated. Normally, I would add in some frozen spinach, but many of the people who live in my house don't like spinach and I'm not in the mood to fight today.
The best part of these muffins - they're clean. I mean, except for the challah, so far all these recipes have been clean, but I feel like it's easy to make clean chicken and vegetables. Muffins, of any kind, are different.
The original recipe for these came from the back of the Indian Head brand cornmeal container.
Here's the new one.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (and lookee, the chicken is already in the oven on 400 degrees!)
In a large bowl, combine the following:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup honey
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup oil
2/3 cup pareve milk - I used unsweetened almond milk. You can also use soy milk or rice milk.
Mix all by hand - remember, no kitchen aid today.
Pour into a greased 12-cup muffin tin. You can also use paper muffin liners if you don't want to have to work so hard cleaning the muffin tin later.
Bake for 18 minutes - I checked them after 16 minutes and they were just about done then but my oven is a little weird.
These can also be made in a mini-muffin pan.
A fruit salad in three minutes? Yup.
Wash some green grapes.
Wash some purple grapes.
Mix them up in a bowl and look at how pretty they are together.
Wash one container of strawberries.
Cut the stems off of the strawberries, slice them in half and mix them in with the grapes.
Warning: these are not clean eating brownies, but we'll all be okay.
Open box of Duncan Hines.
Follow the directions and bake.
Lick the spoon when no one is looking.
Clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes and drink a large glass of water. You haven't been drinking for the past hour, you're probably dehydrated. Finish your glass of water and have another - don't forget, you're prepping yourself for a fast.
Take five minutes for yourself. Sit down in your now clean kitchen which smells awesome from all the yummy food cooking in the oven and the crockpot and think. Just sit and think about how your year went, and send up a big Thank You for all the goodness in your life.
Wishing you and your families a Gmar Chatima Tovah, and all the health and happiness and good things that life has to offer. Fast well!
Did I pin this? Did I not? I have no idea.
All I know is that I saw these somewhere and they were the perfect answer to a blackout snack.
There was quite a big storm, with thunder and lightning this past Saturday night and at around 3am, the power went out. With all the flashlights stored in an overhead cabinet in the kitchen. So now we know better and have strategically scattered the flashlights around the house.
Anyway, the power did not come back on until 12 hours later. I had already force-fed all the melting ice cream to the children - all seven of them. Oh yeah, we don't do our blackouts quietly. We do them with friends of ours who also have a bunch of little kids. All together, we were four adults to seven kids under the age of seven. And so while the ice cream seemed like a good idea at the time - I really hate to waste food - it was a little, shall we say, too much sugar.
Yeah, yeah, fruit has sugar too, but you work with what you have.
So we made apple and grape cars.
First slice the unpeeled apples into rounds and then cut each circle in half, forming, you guessed it, half circles.
Then wash a bunch of graped and cut them in half, forming the wheels of the car. Thread two toothpicks through the bottom end of the car and attach a grape to the ends, using four grape halves.
Now that I typing this out, it all sounds a little complicated. It's really not though. Take a look at the picture above and you will see just how easy this little snack really is. We served it with crackers and peanut butter on a picnic blanket on the living room floor and all the kids came running.
Just be sure to hover around the gaggle of kids and collect the toothpicks before they become weapons. I'm just saying.
Baking chocolate chip cookies hasn't been on the top of my list lately, what with the clean eating and everything. But the kids really needed an afternoon activity and with the rain, we couldn't play in the backyard.
Our go-to activity is generally baking, but I have been trying to hold them off because I don't want to eat it.
So we made these cookies instead.
Do you like our playdough cookies?
We used rolling pins, cookies cutters and we made chocolate chips to top them off.
And best of all, we didn't have to put the oven on and heat up the whole house.
And even better, after a some negotiating, the kids accepted apples for dessert - with chocolate chips on the side.
It's been a while. And I am not even sure where I have been or what I have been doing. No, that's not entirely true. I have been spending a lot of time immersing myself in the world of clean eating and trying to understand what is or is not permissible in this way of life. See? I didn't say diet, I said way of life. Cause it kind of needs to be. And yet, it's so so so so hard.
So far, I have been clean eating for several weeks now and have lost a measly pound. One pound. Pathetic. But I will say that I feel clearheaded and awake and alive - something that I have not felt in a very long time. I don't wake up with a headache anymore, I go through my day without that fuzzy feeling. It's been weeks since I have fallen asleep while putting the baby down for a nap or while getting the kids to bed at night. I used to fall asleep like that all the time. As in Every. Single. Day. And now, now I'm having my smoothie for breakfast, eating fruits, vegetables, quinoa, greek yogurt, almonds, salmon and other things like that all day long. And drinking tons of water. And still, it's just so darn hard.
I really wanted to have some chocolate ice cream last night. So I had some. Only a spoonfull, but I was still so mad at myself afterwards. It almost feels like you can't win.
But - I do have one skirt that fits now that did not fit at the end of April. So maybe it's not about the pounds per se, maybe it's just that smaller clothes fit, so something must be going right - even if the scale just won't budge at all.
Anyway, I did have a point here. It's coming up on a year since my grandmother passed away and a couple of my super-creative cousins have rallied the rest of us lazy relatives, and now we (they :) are putting together a book of recollections about my grandmother. Everyone was supposed to have had their submissions in by May 20th. I wrote mine, just forgot to send it in. No really. I did. It's been in my gmail drafts for ages.
It's about a nut cake (food. what else?) that my grandmother was famous for. I used to make it often years ago, but now that clean eating has swept through this house, I am thinking that anything with 3 sticks of margarine is no longer welcome here. So I won't be making this and taking pictures. But I also wouldn't refuse a piece should someone perhaps bake it and stop by with a piece. Just saying.
Here's the recipe, along with my (late) submission:
Food makes powerful memories.
This past Mother's Day, while driving, it hit me, probably for the first time, that I had no grandmothers left to call that day. This was it. A chapter of my life was over, a chapter that was still open last Mother's Day.
Last Mother's Day, I was lucky, I had it made. My mother, my aunt and my grandmother came to my house for brunch. I didn't go the regular route with lasagna or baked ziti. I made some weird stuff - focacia bread pizza, mushroom fritattas and pretend lemonade margaritas - and true to Bobby's Judy's style, she tasted everything without hesitation - because everything I always did was golden. I could do no wrong and whatever I decided to wear or cook or bake or make was amazing and exactly the right choice*.
I am having trouble remembering even one time that Bobby Judy came to visit without bringing food.
Especially tuna fish, which she apparently used her magic wand to make because I have never before and never since tasted such good tuna fish.
Bobby Judy did not leave me many recipes; she liked to cook from recipes in her head and really stopped experimenting or even making her usual for the last many years because she felt that steamed vegetables, cottage cheese and rice cakes were the way to go, just like the Start Fresh lady said. And if the Start Fresh lady said it, then well, you know, that was it.
To this day, I cannot steam cauliflower without feeling like I am back in her apartment.
But there is one recipe that I do have - one that we made together when I was young and one that I have made countless times since, anytime I need a fancy cake. It's easy, it's quick and it tastes like Bobby Judy's house and smells like her housecoats. What more can you ask for?
Bobby Judy's Nut Cake:
5 cups flour
2 egg yolks
2 ounces of yeast
5 tablespoons sugar
3 sticks of margarine
4 egg whites
1/2 pound of ground nuts
juice of one lemon
1 cup sugar
1 grated lemon peel
For the dough: Mix all the ingredients together in the bowl of a standing mixer. Mix on low until all the ingredients come together to form a ball of dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.
For the filling: Beat the four egg whites until they make a snow. Fold in the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Allow the dough to come to room temperature.
On a flour covered counter top, roll out the dough into a large rectangle.
Lay the dough on a clean dish towel.
Spread the filling on top of the dough.
Use the dish towel to roll up the dough and filling, jelly roll style.
Transfer to a parchment lined rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Allow the cake to cool and wrap it in foil to keep it fresh.
Best if stored in a Ziploc bag.
Does not need to be refrigerated.
*Except once. Early on in my marriage, I showed up at her house wearing a beret and she said, "yoy, that's an unattractive hat, it doesn't show off your beautiful face?" Was I insulted? Maybe a little. But she immediately ushered me out the door to a fancy hat store on "the avenue" so who was I to complain?
You know how some days you have it all together and you go to the supermarket
and the fruit store, and you clean up and vacuum and not only do the laundry but
fold it too? Oh, and you go walking? And then there are days when you're still
in pajamas when it's time to pick up the kids from school. Yesterday was the good
kind of day. Wait, I shouldn't say good because that would mean that I think
staying in pajamas all day is bad - and I don't think that. I'll say that today
was a productive kind of day.
So productive in fact, that when I saw a sign in the fruit store announcing 3
containers of strawberries for $2.00, I grabbed a bunch. That sounded like a crazy
price - adnd it was. And here's why - upon close inspection, I noticed that the
strawberries were on their way out. Not bad, yet. Just not the freshest they could be.
But that was okay with me.
And why, you ask, would I want to take these strawberries home? I'll tll you.
I have been enjoying adding a cup of strawberries to my smoothie every morning and
so I have been looking longingly at the very expensive frozen fruit in the
supermarket. And standing there, I thought, hey, why not just freeze my own?
And so I did. And here we are, two hours later, with five pounds of
strawberries washed, dried and cut up, sitting in a freezer bag in the freezer,
just waiting for their turn to hop into a smoothie. Because is this not what you
are supposed to do with fruits and vegetables that are going bad and have not yet
been eaten? Of course it is! We don't waste food. If they were vegetables, I would
have roasted them. Or made soup. Fruit, apparently, we freeze.
I wonder what other fruits I can freeze.