My new obsession

I learned at an early age that cones were not for me.  I enjoyed the look of the cone, with the scoops piled high, and the sweet taste of the sugar cone, down to that last perfect dollhouse sized mini-cone bite  when the ice cream is pushed  into the very bottom of the teeny, tiny cone tip.  But, too often I’d take one lick and knock all the scoops over and onto the ground to the delight of the dogs down below.  So, I settled for cups.  Even today I forget that I do indeed possess the agility and control to handle the cone and get excited when I throw caution to the wind and order my ice cream that way.  Mint Chip was never my flavor.  I always favored Black Cherry.  And, to be perfectly honest, I’ll choose a salted soft pretzel over sweets any day.  Weird, I know.  But, recently my eye was drawn to a sale sign in my overpriced neighborhood market and my instinct was screaming out for mint chip.  I’ll admit, I may have been taken in initially by the minimalist, clear packaging, but Talenti Mediterranean Mint gelato is irresistible.  It has super yummy, fresh mint taste and just the right amount of good, dark chocolate chips.  It’s not organic.  Nor is it eco-friendly.  But, it’s smooth and cool and absolutely delicious.  I’ve seen it turn some other mint chip reluctants into believers at first taste.

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snacks reinvented…

One of my all-time biggest peeves is wasting food. I’m slightly neurotic about it, actually, which drives my husband kind of crazy.  One day I had what Oprah has coined an “a-ha moment”… I could turn all that leftover yogurt my son didn’t finish into tasty, healthy treats!  You can, too – it takes all of 60 seconds. Just put a few bits of fruit of your choice (frozen or fresh) in the bottoms of a popsicle maker and then spoon the yogurt on top. Your child can also help by putting in the fruit or the popsicle sticks, and voilá!  Yogurt popsicles for the whole family!  P.s. this works wonders on those teething babes or for sore throats/mouths

Berry Delicious: Wheat Berry Salad

Wheat berries are deliciously chewy and nutty whole wheat kernels that make great salads, breads and sides!  Because they are unprocessed they retain all three parts of the grain, including the germ, bran and endosperm.  This means that the grain has lots of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals like vitamin E, iron, magnesium and lignans.  It’s biggest boast is a healthy dose of  fiber, about 24 grams per cup!  But, each cup also has about 7 grams of protein – not too shabby.  I recently boiled soft wheat berries for about 45 minutes, allowed them to cool and tossed them with:

  • avocados
  • sliced raw green beans
  • steamed chopped beets
  • cucumbers
  • feta cheese
  • dried cranberries
  • olive oil, white wine vinegar and salt & pepper

Have fun experimenting with this yummy, earthy whole grain!

Spinach “Chips”

Looking for a healthy snack food?  Have you heard about kale chips?  They’re sweeping the nation!  You can find them chocolate covered, thai spiced, and of course, au natural.  But, with 2 bunches of organic spinach from my organic box delivery screaming for my attention, I thought – why not try to make a spinach chip?  The result is a beautiful batch of perfect looking dried leaves, with crunchy hints of tang and saltiness.  Are they as good as their potato cousin?  Absolutely not.  I would never lie to you.  But, they satisfy the savory snack food craving and they have zero guilt-factor.  These are good on their own but I also see them as a great last-minute garnish to a variety of dishes.

I roasted mine on oil prepped baking sheets in a 250 degree oven for about 30 minutes or so and then sprinkled them with sea salt.

My New Favorite Beer!

For my husband’s birthday a couple of years ago I surprised him with a beer-making class.  We and about 6 of our friends learned about the process from start to finish and then got to sample beers from some of the more advanced homebrewers.  On that night I had my first taste of Saison, and I have been taken with it ever since!  Saison is a French farmhouse style ale, brewed originally in the cold months in Belgium to be drunk in the warm, summer months.  If you imagine a rustic french farmhouse field of hay, flowers and fruits, that’s pretty much what you get.  Ranging from gold to amber hues, it’s complex – both earthy and refreshing, with spices, fruits and even a floral quality.  It’s one of my all-time favorites and, luckily, it’s been popping up on menus more and more!

3 Cheers for Healthy Bread!

Have you tried Ekekiel breads?  I love the Cinnamon Raisin Bread for my toddler.  It’s made with a combination of organic sprouted grains.  This means that the bread contains no flour, has preserved its naturally occurring amino acids and bursts with nutrients.  It also means that it is a complete protein.  This type of complete protein is super exciting to me, because it comes from a vegetarian source but closely resembles that found in milk or eggs, and that is fantastic!  We serve it as a snack, a vehicle for spreads or made into french toast.

Halibut and Sweet Potato Chowder (it kind of doesn’t get better than this)

While there’s still a bit of a chill in the air, make this recipe!!  I found it in an issue of Sunset Magazine several years ago and have recommended it many times to family and friends.  It’s earthy and sweet, and with that touch of saffron, how can you go wrong?  In my opinion it doesn’t even need the sausage or the whipping cream, but try it yourself and see what you think.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 andouille sausages (6 to 8 oz. total)
  • 1 onion (6 to 8 oz.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (see notes)
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 pounds halibut, boned and skinned
  • 1 green onion

Preparation

  1. 1. Pour olive oil into a 4- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat; add andouille sausages, sliced 1/4 inch thick, and stir often until beginning to brown. Add onion, peeled and chopped, and stir often until limp. Add saffron threads, chicken broth, and sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until sweet potato is barely tender when pierced, about 5 minutes. Stir in whipping cream and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, rinse halibut and pat dry; cut into 1-inch chunks. Lay chunks on top of soup, cover, and cook until halibut is opaque but still moist-looking in the center (cut a piece to check), about 10 minutes. Gently stir soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with thinly sliced green onion.
  3. Wine pairing: Arneis, a lively Italian white (the name means “little rascal”), is an almost perfect match for the halibut chowder, although a mineral-rich, aromatic dry Riesling works well too.