My Caesar Salad

IMG_6428

Serves 4

Dressing:
3 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast* (you may substitute shredded parmesan cheese)
½ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce (or balsamic vinegar)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
½ teaspoon minced garlic
⅛ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Pepper to taste

Salad:
Romaine lettuce
Carrots
Green onions
Snow peas

Cashews, raw

To Do:
Whisk all dressing ingredients in a large mixing or salad bowl.

Chop lettuce, carrots and green onions. Add salad to bowl. Toss to coat with dressing.

Add in snow peas and cashews. No croutons needed!!

*Nutritional yeast adds a cheesy, nutty taste as an alternative to cheese.

It’s Jelly Time!

With strawberry picking a summer tradition that is upon us, I thought I would share my mom’s recipe for EASY strawberry jam. Note the very first instruction: Wash hands. So written for the kiddos…

JamminLove the minions’ labels: Mega Jelly, Epic Jams and the best, Christian’s Only.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Wash hands.
Wash strawberries.
Remove stems.
Crush strawberries 1 cup at a time.
Measure 2 cups of crushed strawberries into a large bowl.
Add 4 cups of sugar to strawberries. Mix well.
Let stand 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
Slice 1 lemon in half.
Put 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a small bowl.
Stir 1 pouch of Certo into lemon juice.
Add mixture to crushed strawberries and stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Pour into clean jars, leaving ½ inch at the top.
Screw covers on jars tightly.
Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours until set.
Store jam in freezer until ready to eat!

The Coco Loco

Day one of our cruise took us to Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island. We spent the day soaking up the Bahamian sun and chasing sting rays in the beautiful blue water. With the VERY convenient All-You-Can-Drink beverage package offered by the cruise line, we happily tried out many of the tasty tropical drinks the many happily obliging bartenders served up.

Coco Cay

This is one of our favorites. I was able to find the original recipe from Oceans Potions: Royal Caribbean Cocktail Recipe Book. This post is for my good friends, Joy and Patty. They inspired the search for this recipe (and I stole Joy’s very nice photo, xoxo). Thanks for all of the fun memories, my wonderful friends!!

Coco Loco

Ingredients
3/4 oz dark rum
3/4 oz coconut rum
1/2 oz cream of coconut
1/2 oz papaya nectar (optional)
1/2 oz orange juice
1/2 oz pineapple juice
1⁄4 oz grenadine
1⁄2 banana (optional)

To Do:
Blend ingredients together in a blender. Add 1/2 c ice and blend for a few seconds more. Garnish with a pineapple slice and a maraschino cherry.

Want to see how the calories add up for this drink? This nutrition calculator can be found on the MyFitnessPal’s website.

Coco Loco Cals

 

 

Coffee au Awesome

Today has not started out that great. Lots of little annoyances and three big ones. As in the three HUGE poops that Samson the Giant Dog left in the front hall. Yes, I know this is the recipe section of the blog and I really shouldn’t talk about gross things, but as a mom, this kind of dialogue is a daily occurrence and it seems completely normal to me to discuss within a food conversation.

So on these kinds of days, I need a mini escape. A small attempt to gather up my former self of stylish grace and loveliness and composure (at least that is what I remember, sticking to my guns on that one, ha!). A small attempt to forget the current self of messy kitchens, yoga pants and pony tails, and missing homework. Just a few moments to catch my breath. It is easy to do with this coffee.

Coffee

Coffee au Awesome

6-8 oz hot coffee (I use my French Press; makes me feel fancy)
1 tbs coconut oil
1 tbs grass fed butter* OR coconut or almond milk (vanilla would be a swell choice)
Optional additions: Whatever you like in your coffee. Vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa…rum…

How To:
Brew coffee. Pour in blender with oil and butter and blend. Find a quiet spot in the house and enjoy!

*Don’t freak out about the butter – that is what cream is anyhow! Remember, I am a vegetarian (no meat) so I need a little fat here and there (a little more HERE on my body (points to boobs) but definitely not THERE on my body (points to thighs).

This is a great way to make those expensive Starbucks type drinks at home. Save those gift cards for your “getaways”… Getaways as in hiding in the bathroom or those “necessary” trips to the grocery store. A friend of mine once told me (when her kids were really little), she would leave the minions at home with her husband on a Saturday morning. She would grab her shopping list, give them all a kiss and head off to Starbucks for her favorite drink. During her visit to the grocery store, she would slowly make her way down Every. Single. Aisle. I remember her saying that she would even walk down the pet food aisle while acknowledging to us the fact that she didn’t even have any pets. Gotta love what moms do to get away. Enjoy your moments!

Emmett Awesome

 

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Fresh is best. I am so looking forward to spring and the chance to grow a few herbs out on the patio. I usually kill any form of plant life, but I still try every year! I have been trying to eat greens as much as possible. This pesto has cilantro in it (good health benefits from what I read). I also added the traditional basil to the pesto. And drizzled a little olive oil over the whole bowl right before serving.

Pesto Prep

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Ingredients
16 oz shell pasta
3 avocados, diced
2 c fresh cilantro
1 c fresh basil
1/4 c lemon juice or 1 lemon
1/2 c whole raw almonds
1 T garlic, minced
1/3 c Parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

How To:
Cook pasta according to directions on box.
While the pasta cooks, in a food processor or blender add all the ingredients, process or blend until wellincorporate.
After the pasta is done, mix in the pesto. Drizzle the olive oil over the pasta. Serve.

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Adapted from basicndelicious.com

 

Lemon Garlic Tofu/Chicken & Asparagus

Asian inspired food is a happy place in our home. Chicken is an easy go to, but I often get the short end of the chopstick with a plate full of veggies and rice. Not. This. Time. After buying a block of tofu, I knew I had to think of a quick meal that I would like but I could also serve to the meat eating crew. Since I am the MOM, i.e. Queen Bee, here  is my tofu recipe first. Enjoy!

Garlic Lemon Tofu

My little cat pitcher came from a trip to Chinatown in San Francisco. Too cute not to add into a picture. The plate came from the minions. One Christmas, Mr C brought the little ones to a dollar store to let them each pick out a gift for me. I received two different plates and a candle that year. I cherish these plates and smile every time I use them.

Lemon Garlic Tofu & Asparagus

2 T olive oil
1 pkg firm tofu
1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
3 T minced garlic
1 T soy sauce
1 T lemon juice
1 t rice vinegar (or white vinegar, in a pinch)
1/2 t brown sugar
1 T paprika
Dash or two of cayenne pepper
Flax seeds and chopped scallions for garnish

One bunch asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces

3 c cooked brown rice

How To:
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add red onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add minced garlic and cook a few minutes more.

Cube the tofu into chucks and add to skillet. Drizzle soy sauce, vinegar and lemon juice over the tofu. Gently stir.

Sprinkle paprika, cayenne and brown sugar over the tofu. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the tofu is cooking, steam the asparagus until tender. Splash a bit of lemon juice on the asparagus and salt, if desired.

Place the cooked brown rice on a serving platter. Top with tofu mixture and add the asparagus.

Toss some flax seeds and scallions over everything. Serve hot.

Protein Option:
Cut up 1-2 pounds of chicken breast into 2″ cubes. In a large bowl, mix soy sauce and vinegar together. Add garlic and chicken. Let marinate for 15-30 minutes (more or less if you have the time, no judging here!). Add some vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the cubed chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side. Add any remaining soy sauce mixture to the pan; cook about 1-1/2 minutes more. Add lemon juice and cayenne and stir for 2 minutes. Toss in the steamed asparagus, giving it a whirl through the sauce. Remove from heat and serve over brown rice. Add flax seeds and chopped scallions for extra crunch!

Empty Plate

 

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Some lovin’ from the oven! This is a great treat for adults and kids alike. I would love to swap out the sugar for a healthier option. If I succeed, I promise to share!

Blueberry Bread

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Ingredients:
1/3 c melted butter
3/4 c sugar
3 T lemon juice
2 eggs
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 c milk
1-2 T grated lemon zest (2 tablespoons makes this very lemony – beware!)
1 c fresh or frozen blueberries

GLAZE (optional – we skip this)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter melted
1 cup confectioners sugar

How To:
In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture. Add milk. Mix well. Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Transfer to a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan.

If adding glaze: Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over warm bread.

Note: If using frozen blueberries, use without thawing to avoid discoloring the batter.

 

Vegan Key Lime Mousse

Getting back from Key West and getting back to reality means the cold weather of our northern states is hitting me square in the face. Trying to maintain a sense of the Keys, I wanted to dig out a recipe I found a few weeks ago. A Vegan Key Lime Pie. But no crust and just a few ingredients. Of course, the recipe is No. Where. To. Be. Found. Story of my life. I searched my phone, Pinterest, my Facebook page, my friends’ Facebook pages, even the black hole of an office cabinet I have. Nada. So in my stubbornness, I have assembled a recipe I hope will be a reasonable alternative. Can’t wait to try it out on the minions after school today…

Key Lime Ingredients

Key Lime Mousse

Ingredients:
2 avocados, diced
2/3 c lime juice
1/3 c maple syrup
2 cans full fat coconut milk – DO NOT shake cans!

To Do:
Place diced avocados, lime juice and maple syrup in food processor. Or a bowl and use an immersion blender – I prefer quick and easy tools AND quick and easy cleanup! Blend until smooth.

Open coconut milk – did you remember not to shake the cans?? Scoop out the cream portion of the milk into a large bowl. NOTE: At times, the liquid will be at the top of the can and you can just pour it off first. Other times the liquid is in the middle. Scoop gently and you will find the liquid. Pour the liquid into a separate container. It is great in smoothies!

Whip the coconut cream with a hand whisk until it thickens. Great arm workout, by the way. Fold the lime juice mixture into the coconut cream.

Refrigerate or freeze until it is the desired consistency. Refrigeration will get a mousse texture, while freezing will make the mixture more like ice cream.

To serve, place in small bowls and top with shredded coconut. For kids, add a dollop onto a graham cracker. The extra sweetness of the crackers offsets the tartness of the limes. Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie

 

Scalloped Potatoes

I would like to attempt this in a slow cooker someday…

3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & sliced very thin
2 ½ c milk
1 c heavy cream OR ¾ c milk & ¼ c butter
1 t minced garlic OR 1 clove, minced
3 T butter, softened
5 oz cheese, shredded <- Gruyere, Swiss or Cheddar
Salt and pepper

How To:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees with a rack set in the lower third of oven. Combine sliced potatoes, 2 ½ cups of milk, and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and immediately reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 3 minutes.

Scoop out the potatoes from the milk (Martha suggests placing a colander over a large bowl to drain potatoes, but that’s a big pot with boiling milk and hot potatoes primed to launch themselves out onto the delicate skin on your hands and wrists. Scooping is safer – use a big slotted spoon. You’ll be fine.). You should have 2 cups of thick, starchy milk. If potatoes have absorbed more than 1 cup of milk, add enough milk to bring the reserved milk volume to 2 cups.

Grease a 3 1/2-quart oval baking dish with butter. Arrange half of the sliced potatoes in the baking dish; then add 1-2 ounces of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining potoatoes. Dot with butter and pour the reserved cooked milk over the potatoes. Add the cream or additional milk plus butter combo. Sprinkle cheese over top.

Bake until cheese becomes golden brown and milk had thickened; about 75 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Protein Option: I served this with turkey and gravy purchased premade from our local butcher shop.

Kids Option: Told them this was a variation of mashed potatoes. Which they love. They sort of bought it…

(adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe)

One Pot Sesame Noodles

So a paleo, a vegetarian and three kids walk into a bar…
Just kidding, no punchline! Just our real life situation. Husband loves low-carb, high protein meals, I love pasta, pasta and pasta (no meat) and the kids like to switch it up. One day, yes! Next day, nope. Not eating that, Mom.
Here’s my take on an easy dinner.

One Pot Sesame Pic

One­ Pot Sesame Noodles & Veggies (Vegetarian style)

8 ounces whole wheat long pasta, UNCOOKED! <-the best part, easy!
3-1/2 cups water
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, cut into coins (about 1 cup)
1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (because mom doesn’t always have fresh)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (watch the heat for the kids!)
Pinch of salt (or not)
1/2 medium Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4 cups, loosely packed)
1 tablespoon rice or white vinegar

Toppings: Ground cilantro, chopped salted peanuts, sliced scallions. Heck, go for honey roasted peanuts. It was what I had on hand and it worked just fine!

How To:
In a large pot over high heat, add pasta, water, bell pepper, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt.

Allow the pot to come to a boil; 7-9 minutes depending on the thickness of your pasta, use tongs to toss the noodles so they do not stick to the bottom of the pot. When noodles are al dente, the veggies should be tender and water will have mostly evaporated, leaving a nice sauce.

Remove from heat and add the cabbage and vinegar, tossing for a few seconds to wilt the cabbage.

Top with the ground cilantro and add peanuts and scallions to individual bowls.

Protein Option: Add in some grilled or slow cooker chicken.

Kids Option: Kids love this either way. The like the sweetness of the brown sugar, tho they tend to pick around the veggies. Grr. Least the nutrients from the boiled veggies stay in the pot!