Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peach Blueberry Cake

We've had lots of blueberries and peaches in the last week or two.  When I was a kid, my mom made a delicious Blueberry Peach Kuchen (a german cake).  I searched for a recipe, but couldn't find what I thought I was looking for (and my Mom was away, so I couldn't call and get the recipe from her).  I found one for a Peach Blueberry Cake on Epicurious that sounded delicious and got great reviews.  We made it and it was fabulous!  (I was a little skeptical of how long the recipe listed for a bake time- 1 hour and 45 mins, but it really did need that long!)  I made another version yesterday using whole wheat for the crust and adding in cherries.  The cherries were great, the whole wheat crust not so much.  It was fine... and if I'd had that first I might not have minded, but in comparison to the crust with only all-purpose flour, well... it just didn't compare.  All in all, a great summer dessert we highly recommend!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Corn Fritters with Aged Cheddar and Arugula

I started this blog with partial hopes for it helping me to reduce my spending on groceries.  I wanted to track what we were spending and where we were spending it, and then figure out ways to reduce it.  In the midst of this, I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Both are wonderful, thought-provoking books. They've made me realize that there is nothing more important that I could spend our money on than the food that feeds and nourishes our family.  They've also given me some context for thinking about where our food comes from- where and how it is grown, how it is transported, how it is handled, etc.  I'm now trying to purchase as much of our food as possible from local sources, talking to the farmers who grow our vegetables, seeing the chickens that lay our eggs, putting money back into the community in which we live.  I'm also trying to make sure I use everything we buy, and hope this will be where I will be able to save some money.

With our new hopes for food, I purchased two new cookbooks in the last week.  Both are by Deborah Madison, a favorite cookbook author of mine.  Local Flavors approaches cooking from a seasonal perspective- the recipes are organized around what you would likely be able to find at a Farmer's Market around the same time.  Vegetarian Suppers is a lovely book of fairly quick vegetarian dinners that can be made on a weeknight when time might be shorter.  We made our first meal from Local Flavors last night and it was fabulous!

Corn Fritters with Aged Cheddar and Arugula from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

6 ears sweet corn, enough to yield 3 cups kernels (from our local CSA)
2 eggs, beaten (from a local farm's free range, pasture fed Chickens)
4 scallions, finely sliced (from our local CSA)
1/2 cup chopped parsley (from our local CSA)
2 Tbsp shredded basil or dill 
1 cup grated or crumbled cheese (aged cheddar, goat cheese, feta, swiss, gouda, jack, etc.)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
unsalted butter or oil for frying
3 handfuls arugula, stems trimmed (from our local CSA)

1.  Slice the tops of the kernels off the corn, then reverse your knife and press out the milk.  Mix the kernels and scrapings with the eggs, scallions, herbs, cheese, and as much flour as can easily be absorbed.  Season with 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper.

2.  Melt enough butter or heat enough oil to cover a wide skilled generously.  Divide the batter roughly into sixths and drop into the skillet.  Fry over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes, then turn and brown the second side.

3.  Place a fritter on each of 6 plates and top with the arugula leaves (we thought our fritters were too pretty to be under the arugula, so we put them on top).  Serve right away.

This was pretty quick and easy, and delicious!  We were thrilled to have leftovers and gobbled them up for lunch today.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Did I mention we have a lot of zucchini????  We love zucchini bread, but I felt like trying something different today.  I whipped up these muffins and they were a huge hit.  To make them into cupcakes, simply slather them with some yummy cream cheese frosting.  (A note on the baking time- my oven bakes very quickly, be sure to adjust baking time to your own oven.) This recipe yielded 12 regular muffins and 24 mini-muffins.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

3 cups flour (I used 2 cups Trader Joe's White Whole Wheat Flour and 1 cup All Purpose)
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 cups grated zucchini (2 medium, approximately)
2/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Line cups of a muffin tin (2 12 cup tins or 1 12 cup and 1 24 mini-muffin or...)

2.  Mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.

3.  In another bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vanilla; add to flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold chocolate chips in (do not overmix).  

4.  Divide batter evenly among cups.  Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (my large muffins baked for 25 mins, my mini-muffins baked for 20 mins).  Cool in tin for 10 mins, before placing on a metal rack to cool completely.  Frost with cream cheese frosting if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
8 ozs cream cheese
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla

1.  Beat the butter (at room temp) and the cream cheese (also at room tempt) in a mixing bowl on medium speed until smooth.  Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Zucchini Tart

We were away, and then spent the remainder of last week readjusting to being home, thus our lack of posts.  We're back, though, and looking forward to trying some yummy new dishes.

I just finished reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  It's an incredibly interesting, and important, book.  It gave me so much to think about in terms of both the health of my family and of our planet.  It's also causing me to think about the money I spend on our family's food (more on that in a separate post where I'll explain how I've been tracking things).  I've just started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  It's every bit as interesting as In Defense of Food, and reinforces many of the same ideas.  One of the main emphases of each book is the recommendation to buy (and eat) as much of your food from locally grown sources as possible.  There are so many important reasons for doing so, and each book explains these reasons wonderfully.

We hoped to have our own garden this year, but it turns out we just don't get enough sun in our yard (even without the insane amount of rain we've had this year!).  Next year we'll look into getting a plot at one of our local community gardens.  This year we'll utilize our CSA share, our wonderful local farmer's market, and the fantastic garden planted by my parents-in-law with help from our four-year-old.  (My parents-in-law live on a beautiful farm in Central Massachusetts.  They planted an amazing garden this year, and my older daughter was in heaven helping them (my younger daughter was in heaven trying to pick all the yummy looking veggies!).  We've been out a few times to visit and watch as the garden has transformed from a plot of dirt to an abundance of plants and flowers.  We're also hoping they'll get chickens soon, as they've been talking about for years, so that we can enjoy fresh eggs.)  We were out there this past weekend, and came home with some gorgeous zucchini and summer squash, perfect green beans, and very orange carrots.

I wanted to make a fresh dinner showcasing the zucchini.  With my husband home to entertain the kids I finally had time to try a recipe I discovered a few years ago and have been holding onto ever since.  It's for Zucchini Tart from Saveur magazine.  Even using prepared puff pastry (I don't often use this as it violates a few of my rules, but it's so good and everything in moderation is a great rule for a reason), this took longer than I would be able to spend on a normal weeknight.  That said, it was absolutely delicious!!  Both of my kids ate huge portions, and my older daughter asked for seconds (she usually screams and runs in the other direction when I put something with zucchini on the table).  My husband and I loved it, and we will absolutely find the time to make this again.  If you have lots of zucchini, this is a wonderful way to enjoy them.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Asparagus, Avocado, and Snap Pea Pasta

We got a big bag of beautiful sugar snap peas and a huge bunch of parsley in our CSA share this week.  Parsley is always tough- they sell it in such huge bunches and I've never found a recipe calling for more than 2 Tbsp of it.  I always feel terrible throwing it out, but... so I'm working on finding recipes that call for it, and trying to add it as a garnish whenever I have it on hand.  This recipe uses a half cup, which I thought was fine but my almost-four-year-old strenuously objected (she pretty much objected to the whole meal save the pasta, avocado, and parmesan).  My 14-month-old loved it, however, as did my husband.

Asparagus, Avocado, and Snap Pea Pasta

1 lb asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and strings removed
1 lb whole wheat pasta (we like fusilli)
2 Tbsp olive oil (I used to use butter, but prefer olive oil for taste and health)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 ripe avocado, cut into bite-size chunks
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (mint or basil would be excellent as well)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
Salt and Pepper

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water until bright green (2 mins or so), then add snap peas and cook for 30 seconds more.  Transfer veggies to a bowl.

2.  Bring water back to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water, and set aside with pasta.

3.  Heat the olive oil in the pasta pot.  Add cooked veggies, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 2 mins.  Add cooked pasta, avocado, parsley (mint or basil), cheese, and reserved pasta water.  Mix well; serve with extra cheese.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Healthy" Mac & Cheese

I discovered a version of this pre-Deceptively Delicious.  It's evolved over the years, and it's now one of my husband's top three favorite dinners.  The kids love it as well, especially Cecily. It's a great dinner to make ahead- I often make it in the morning while my older daughter is at school and my younger daughter is napping, and then just keep it in the oven until it's time to throw it in the oven.

"Healthy" Mac & Cheese

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
8 oz vegetable stock
8 oz milk (any kind will work, even plain soymilk- I use 1%)
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne (I use a fairly mild cayenne with the kids in mind)
salt and pepper
1 lb pasta (I use whole wheat Fusilli from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods)
1 lb ricotta cheese (I use part-skim)
2 cups grated cheddar (I use Cabot Seriously Sharp)
1 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup breadcrumbs (if I don't have any on hand, I grind up a slice of whole wheat bread in my mini-cuisinart- works great)
2 Tbsp olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 375F 20 minutes before baking

2.  Combine prepared squash, stock, and milk in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer until squash is tender.  Add nutmeg, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mash together to form a smooth sauce (I use a potato masher right in the pot; I've also used the paddle attachment with my stand mixer but that makes more dishes and I haven't noticed a big difference in how everything turns out).

3.  While the squash cooks, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.

4.  Drain pasta; add it to the squash mixture.  Add ricotta and cheddar, and stir to combine well.

5.  Pour the mixture into the mac & cheese pan of your choice.  (I used to use a deep round baking dish.  My husband loves the topping so much that I've started using a 9 x 13 baking dish to make even more topping.)  Refrigerate until ready to bake.

6.  Just before baking, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, and olive oil in a small bowl.  (The amounts for this are approximate, add or subtract depending on how much topping you're going for.)  Spread evenly over the mac & cheese.  Cover with foil.  Bake for about 35 minutes; remove foil and bake for another 10 - 15 mins until topping is golden.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Veggie and Cream Cheese Frittata

This is another staple for our family, and it's always received with applause (not to mention it's fast and easy on a week night).  Cecily (14 months) LOVES it, and always eats more than I can believe.  It's our standard recipe below, but use any veggies to suit your preference.

Veggie and Cream Cheese Frittata

1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed into bite size chunks
2 mushrooms, cut into bite size chunks
Olive oil
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 slices bread, cubed (any kind works well, we use Whole Wheat- Rosemary bread is fabulous)
4 ozs cream cheese, cubed
6 eggs
Salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Generously oil a 9-inch glass pie pan.

2.  Saute the asparagus and mushrooms in the olive oil over medium heat.

3.  Beat the eggs together.  Add the veggies, cheeses, and bread cubes, and mix well.  

4.  Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until eggs are cooked and set and top is golden.  Cut into wedges, and serve.

Zucchini-Crusted Pizza

My mom has Celiac disease, which translates to an inability to eat anything with gluten in it (wheat, barley, oats processed in a wheat facility, etc.).  We were fortunate to eat some wonderful foods as a result throughout my childhood, many of which I love making for my own kids.  Zucchini-Crusted Pizza is a favorite, and is adapted from the Moosewood cookbook.  As usual, it's a great way to get some veggies into kids.  The zucchini grates well in a food processor with the grating attachment, though it's also possible to grate it by hand.  The trick to this recipe is to squeeze as much water as possible out of the grated zucchini before mixing it into the crust.  It makes a huge difference!  (If you don't remove the water, the crust will be soupy and goopy.  If you do, it will be crispy and flavorful.)

Zucchini-Crusted Pizza

Olive Oil
3 cups (packed) grated zucchini (about 3 medium zucchini)
3 eggs lightly beaten
1/3 cup flour (when making this for my mom we use Rice Flour, any kind of flour works well)
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp dried basil (rosemary or marjoram work well too)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Toppings (this is what we used in the photo, use anything!)
Tomato Sauce (we use Classico Tomato Basil)
Sauteed asparagus, mushrooms, and red pepper
Mozzarella and parmesan cheeses

1.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Generously oil a 9 x 13 pan.

2.  Mix together zucchini, eggs, flour, mozzarella, parmesan, herbs, and 1 Tbsp olive oil.

3.  Spread into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 - 40 mins, until golden brown.  Halfway through the baking, brush the top of the crust with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil.

4.  Remove crust from oven.  Top with preferred toppings, and then return to oven and bake until heated through (10 mins or so). 

Sunday, June 28, 2009


We LOVE guacamole.  We use a very simple recipe and it's always a huge hit (witness the kids devouring it with spoons!  Cecily was very upset when it was all gone).

3 ripe avocados
1 ripe tomato
fresh cilantr0 
fresh lime juice (one lime is about right)
kosher salt to taste

1.  Slice the avocados in half; remove the pit (insert a paring knife gently into the pit and twist while holding the avocado, pit should come right out), and scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Mash the avocado gently with a fork or potato masher (or in a food processor), leaving plenty of small chunks.

2.  Chop the tomato into bite size chunks, add to the avocado.

3.  Finely mince cilantro (to taste, a tablespoon is a good start) and add to the bowl.

4.  Add the lime juice.

5.  Add a 1/2 tsp salt.  (We use Morton Kosher Salt, it makes a difference.)

6.  Mix well, and add additional salt as needed.

Serve with blue corn chips, cut up veggies, etc.

Veggie "Enchiladas" with Rice and Beans

This is our version of Enchiladas... they aren't true enchiladas, but they're very fast and easy and pretty yummy, as well as a great way to get kids to eat some good foods.  Any combo of veggies will work, so use what's in season and what you have. 

Veggie "Enchiladas" with Rice and Beans (serves 6)

6 Whole Wheat Tortillas (Fajita size)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 large zucchini, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 large red pepper, chopped into bite-size pieces
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 - 1 cup Salsa (to taste, and whatever variety you prefer)
2 - 3 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 box Fantastic Black Beans prepared

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil.  When the oil is warm, add the onion and saute until translucent.  Add the zucchini and pepper (or whatever veggies you're using), and saute until just tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

2.  Transfer cooked veggies to a medium bowl.  Add salsa and 1 - 2 cups of the cheddar cheese; mix well.

3.  Place one tortilla on a large ovenproof plate.  Add a large scoop of the veggie mix and fold in half.  Place a scoop of cooked rice and a scoop of cooked beans on the plate.  Sprinkle grated cheese over the top.  Repeat with remaining ingredients, making up six plates.

4.  Place the plates in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and turning golden.  Serve with extra salsa and sour cream.  (We served these with Sangria for the adults.  Yum!)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whole Wheat Calzone with Spinach and Cheese Filling

These were a big hit!  They are great to make with a kid who likes to cook- Maia had a blast rolling out the dough, scooping in the filling, helping seal the dough, etc., etc.  And after declaring she doesn't like spinach, she ate a huge portion and asked if she could have another for lunch tomorrow.

Dough (I have a few different pizza dough recipes that I love- this one is great in this recipe)

1 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 Tbsp honey or sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (if you're used to all white flour pizza dough, try using King Arthur's White Whole Wheat Flour.  It's much more nutritious than all purpose flour, but not as dense as a traditional whole wheat flour.)
1 - 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
olive oil

1. Place the water, yeast, and honey/sugar in the bowl of a food processor.  (If you don't own a food processor, place it in a medium bowl and stir until everything dissolves.)  Process for a few seconds to combine well.

2.  Add 2 1/2 cups total flour plus the salt; process until the dough comes together in a ball and is still a little sticky.  If it seems too sticky, add additional flour as needed until a nice dough is achieved.  (If you're not using a food processor, stir in the salt and flour.  When it gets too difficult to continue stirring, knead the dough for 5 - 10 mins.)

3.  Oil a medium bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn over once to coat the outside of the dough in oil.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm area until it has doubled.  While the dough rises, prep the filling.

Spinach and Cheese Filling

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 lb spinach, stems removed, minced
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 -3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp dried basil (3 Tbsp fresh basil may also be used, be sure to mince)
1 lb part skim ricotta cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Heat the oil in a skillet; add the onion and cook over medium heat until translucent.

2.  Add spinach, salt and pepper; cook over high heat, stirring often, until spinach wilts (3 - 4 mins).  Add garlic and basil, and cook for 2 - 3 more mins.

3.  Mix the cheeses together in a medium bowl.  Add the spinach and mix well.


1.  Preheat the oven to 450.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat it in oil.

2.  Divide the dough into six equal pieces; roll each piece out into a circle.

3.  Scoop 1/2 cup filling onto half of the circle, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Use a pastry brush or your finger to moisten the border, then fold the empty dough over the filling, pinching it together to form a seal.  Crimp the edge with a fork, then prick little holes on top.

4.  Bake for 15 - 20 mins, until crisp and lightly browned.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Swiss Chard and Parmesan Tart

This is a staple in our house; I make it at least once a week.  It's delicious, not too much work (if you own a food processor), and an easy way to get greens into kids and husbands.  I generally try to chock it as full of chard as possible, so I usually use two big bunches.  I only got one bunch in our CSA, and given that I'm trying to be economical I went with it.  The tart was still a big hit; both kids gobbled down huge portions and asked for seconds.

Tart Dough
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or 3/4 cup unbleached a-p flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I often use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, works great)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8 - 10 pieces
4 -5 tablespoons ice water
1. Place the flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse several times to combine.
2. Place the butter in the work bowl.  Pulse 10 - 15 times, until the mixture resembles pea-size crumbs.
3. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing several times after each addition.  After 4 tablespoons water have been added, process the dough for several seconds to see if it is coming together into a ball.  If not, add the remaining tablespoon water (I always need 5).  Once the dough seems to be coming together, continue processing until it comes together into a ball.  Remove the dough from the food processor.
4. Flatten the dough into a 5-inch disk.  Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle.  Lay the dough over the tart pan and press it into the pan.  Trip the dough and proceed with tart recipe as directed.
Swiss Chard and Parmesan Tart
1 Recipe Basic Tart Dough
1 pound swiss chard (I always use two bunches)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cup shredded (grated works as well, though the shredded makes a prettier tart) Parmesan cheese
1. Prepare the dough and fit it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Refrigerate while preparing the filling.  (It can be refrigerated for several hours in the pan.)
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove and discard teh stems from the swiss chard.  Tear off the green portions from either side of the rib that runs down the center of each leaf.  Discard the ribs.  Wash, dry and corsely chop the leaves.  Set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large saute pan.  Add the garlic and saute over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes.  Add the chard and cook, stirring often, until the leaves have completely wilted and all the liquid in the pan has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with a fork.  Stir in the cheese and the chard mixture.  Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tart pan.
5.  Bake until the filling is set in the center and turns golden brown in spots, 40 - 45 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  (My oven cooks very quickly, so this is generally ready in about 25 minutes.  I've made it many places, and the cooking time really does vary widely.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Veggie Stir Fry Featuring Bok Choy with Quinoa

We make lots of stir fries in our house- they're easy, fast, and a great way to get in a whole lot of veggies.  As Maia has gotten older, she's gotten fussier about which vegetables she'll actually eat. We continue encouraging her to at least try everything, and hope that at some point she'll reliably eat what we've made.  I used bok choy in our stir fry for the first time tonight.  I really liked it, as did Sean and Cecily.  Maia was not such a fan, though she did admit the crunchiness was "okay." Quinoa is an amazing food, high in protein and all kinds of good things.  I like to serve it with stir fry rather than rice for an extra nutritional boost.  Here is what I made tonight (any combination of veggies works):

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

2 bok choy
2 carrots
1 zucchini
1 red pepper
1 head broccoli
1 package Seitan  (made from wheat gluten)
1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp low-sodium wheat free Tamari
3 Tbsp brown sugar
Freshly grated ginger to taste

1.  Rinse the quinoa under cold water; place in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and add two cups water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender (about 15 mins).  Drain if necessary (most of the water should be absorbed by the grain).

2.  While the quinoa cooks, wash, dry, and chop the veggies into bite size pieces.  (For the bok choy, cut off the very bottom and then cut the stems into chunks and the leaves into strips.) Heat a nonstick wok (or large saute pan) over medium high heat.  Add the olive oil; once the oil is hot, add the bok choy to the pan and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.  Add the rest of the veggies and seitan and cook, stirring often, until the veggies are just getting tender but are still crunchy.

3.  While the veggies are cooking, make the sauce.  Combine the tamari with the brown sugar, then add freshly grated ginger to taste (ginger is easiest to grate when its frozen).  When the veggies are tender and crunchy, add the sauce and cook for another minute until warm.

4.  Serve the stir fry over the quinoa.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Maia's Magic Smoothie

After Maia was diagnosed with her third case of pneumonia in fewer than 6 months, I was desperate to try anything to help boost her immunity and overall health.  We started making a smoothie each morning in March, and now the day just doesn't feel right if we don't have one. (I should also note- since we've been making this, my hair has been growing like crazy and is the healthiest it's ever been.  It must be the flax seed oil- highly recommended if you're in the mood for longer hair.)

The quantities for this are intentionally vague- they vary depending on how many people will have the smoothie, daily and individual preference, etc.

Frozen Strawberries
Frozen Pineapple or Peaches or... whatever you're in the mood for
Frozen Sambazon Acai Berry Pulp Smoothie Pack
1 ripe Banana
1 packet Emergen-C powder
2 Tbsp Flax Seed Oil
Organic Low Fat Vanilla or Strawberry Yogurt (I prefer Stonyfield Farms)
1 - 3 tsp Raw Agave Nectar (the acai is bitter, we add this to taste depending on what other fruits we've used; less with pineapple for example)
Orange Juice

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend to the texture and consistency you like.

Green Barley and Kale Gratin

I am shocked by what a huge hit this was.  Maia is generally against most green things, and knows she doesn't like kale.  She does, however, like to help de-stem and wash it, so there's no hiding it from her when it's being prepped.  We ask her to take two bites of what we prepare so that she can make an informed decision as to whether or not she likes it.  After her first bite of the gratin she declared, "this is the yummiest dinner ever."  She and Cecily both ate huge portions, and then had cherries for dessert.

2/3 cup pearl barley
1 large bunch kale, 1 - 1 1/2 lbs
2 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup grated cheddar (Gruyere or provolone would be excellent as well)

1. Rinse the barley.  Add it to 4 cups boiling water with 1/2 tsp salt and simmer, uncovered, until tender (about 30 mins).  Drain.  While the barley cooks, remove the stems from the kale and wash it well.  Cook it in a pot of boiling water with salt until tender (about 6 mins).  Drain, then puree the kale with 1/4 cup of its cooking water in a food processor.

2. Preheat the oven to 375F, then butter a gratin dish or 6 individual ramekins.  Melt the 2 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan.  Whisk in the flour, then add the milk.  Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat, until thick (5 - 10 mins).  Add the all-spice, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.  Combine barley, kale puree, sauce, and grated cheese, and then pour into the baking dish(es).

3.  Bake until lightly browned on top, 25 - 30 mins.

Week One...

We joined an organic CSA (community supported agriculture) for the summer with a friend, hoping to increase our consumption of organic foods while forcing us to try some fruits and veggies we might not normally eat.  To make it as easy as possible, we decided to alternate weeks with our friend's family.  We picked up our first share last Thursday, and immediately left Friday morning for the weekend.  I'll be using everything this week.  

Here's what we got:
1 container strawberries
1 sandwich bag of mint
1 sandwich bag of chives
2 cucumbers
2 zucchini
2 bok choy
1 bunch kale
1 bunch swiss chard
1 head romaine lettuce
2 sweet potatoes
1 bunch white beets

I've made a meal plan for the week through Thursday, we'll see how well I do at making everything.  (I'm assuming my husband will take leftovers to work for lunch; when there aren't any he'll take a sandwich and some carrots.)

Monday: Green Barley and Kale Gratin
Tuesday: Bok Choy Stir Fry w/Quinoa
Wednesday: Lunch Date: Swiss Chard and Parmesan Tart, Dinner: Tofu Burgers with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Peas
Thursday: Spinach Ricotta Calzones with Roasted White Beets

Our organic farm share is $23.38/week.  I spent $95.37 at Whole Foods this morning.  (I'll try to detail what we eat for our other meals/snacks so I can see where our $ is going.)  So far, our weekly total is $118.75.

Here we go...

I was raised a lacto-ovo vegetarian-- aside from obvious vegetarian foods (plant-based), I eat eggs and dairy.  When our first daughter was born, my husband and I decided we would raise her (and any subsequent kids) l-o vegetarian as well.  We had a number of reasons for this from health (we're terrified of all the antibiotics and additives found in so many meat products ) to practical (as someone who has never intentionally eaten meat or meat products in my life, I can't prepare meat for anyone else to eat either- I've tried and it's been pretty disastrous).  My husband does eat meat, just not in the house.

Like most moms, I struggle with finding healthy foods that appeal to my kids- Maia will be 4 this August, and Cecily just turned 1.  Both can be picky eaters.  Additionally, Maia had three bouts of pneumonia this past winter.  We're working with some specialists at Boston Children's Hospital to prevent any recurrences.  We're also doing everything we can to improve her health- from making sure she gets enough sleep to trying to improve her immunity and overall health from the foods she eats.

I have a few rules when it comes to our food- I won't buy anything containing High Fructose Corn Syrup (I've done lots of research on HFCS and I really think it's bad stuff) or added Trans Fats (some food items, such as butter, have trace amounts of naturally occurring trans fats.  I'm okay with these, but I avoid anything with the words "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredient list).  I try to avoid refined flours and refined sugar whenever possible (though I do believe in a fabulous chocolate chip cookie now and then).  I try to only buy dairy products that are RBST (the growth hormone given to cows to increase their production- there is a fair amount of research linking RBST to early puberty in girls, as well as some other health issues) free.  I buy organic when I can, though I sometimes prefer "conventional" (in the case of granny smith apples for example), and it can also be prohibitively expensive.  Lastly, I try to use as many ingredients as possible from the fabulous book: 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life by David Grotto (it's really an outstanding book).

As a result of these rules, I do the majority of our grocery shopping at Whole Foods, with some occasional trips to Trader Joe's.  It's crazy how much money I spend on our food, and I'm determined to get it down.  I've tried shopping at other stores (Shaw's, Stop 'n Shop, Market Basket) but I often end up spending more at one of these on our basics (organic soy milk, one of our staples, is considerably cheaper at both WF and TJ than at any of the others), and I can't always find what I want (RBST-free butter that is not organic for example).  I also don't have the time, energy, or patience to make multiple stops at various stores, particularly when I'm doing the shopping with the kids.  It's not rare for me to spend at least $150/week on groceries.  My goal is to see how low I can get this...