Monday, August 29, 2011

Breakfast Quinoa with Berries & Bananas

When I saw this recipe in the current issue of Whole Living magazine, I was very intrigued. Quinoa is technically not a grain because it's not part of the grass family {it's a relative of chard, and spinach}...but, because of it's grain-like texture it's marketed as one. It seems I'm always hearing about how good it is for you, and I've had the good intention to use it more in my cooking...but, really don't all that often. It's very high in protein, making it an ideal breakfast choice for me, or my kids.
My guys are super oatmeal fans...during the winter months it's the breakfast of choice around here. I make a big batch of steel cut oats, then store it in the fridge to heat up during the week. That saves me from having to take the time daily to make it. You can use the same method with this quinoa hot cereal by multiplying the recipe. I had high hopes that they would like this. Unfortunately, they were not all that wild about it.
If their love of oatmeal was not so deeply ingrained, they may have. These kids won't even eat instant oatmeal because they've grown up eating the real stuff and think the processed version is "disgusting". So, getting them to like this was a long shot.
I, however, loved it. It was definitely much different than any hot cereal I've ever had, but I loved the texture and flavor. As the mornings begin to get cooler, I know I will be making more of it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Some Things I Just Love...

I've always been a sucker for linen. There's something about the soft, crinkly texture of the fabric that I love. I also love that every linen item I've ever owned and used it a favorite shirt, a beach bag, or a kitchen towel...has just gotten better with age.
When it come to kitchen linens, I have a bit of a problem. My stash has grown so that it no longer fits, neatly folded in a kitchen drawer and now calls a basket on the counter home. It's important to me that we use cloth napkins, and towels in our home..not only for the environmental impact using paper napkins takes on our planet. But, also because they work better, and they look, washing and folding linens is a great intro course in "how-to-do-laundry" for the wee ones.
My collection of kitchen linens comes from all over the towels passed down from my grandmother, embroidered napkins I've purchased at estate sales, vintage well-worn pieces on Ebay, and gifts from friends and family over the years. More recently, it's been handmade, sustainable linens found on Etsy.

{from NEW YORK} The first shop...which, I've recently become obsessed called Small Batch Productions. The owner of the shop, Claire, designs and hand sews each and every item herself. All of her pieces are made from sustainable, all- natural linen...or, a blend of cotton/hemp. They are incredibly well-made, and will withstand the test of time...but, when the time comes all her designs are compostable.
Pictured above: {a.} dish towel in citron. I love the color of this would brighten up any kitchen. {b.} grey recycled hemp/organic cotton apron...featuring 2 patch pockets & removable/adjustable ties {c.} light grey/aubergine check cafe apron...I own this apron and love it more and more every time I use it! {d.} gingham check dish towel...I love the classic look of this gingham fabric.
Claire has been generous enough to offer a 15% off coupon code to my readers this week! The coupon code, "parsley" can be used starting today, and is valid through Sunday August 28th. I highly recommend taking advantage of this great discount to get yourself something {or multiple items} from her shop!
Aside from the typical uses of cooking, or creating art...the deep, double patch pockets on the aprons are perfect for carrying tools while working on home improvement projects. I've also been using my apron while watering the garden, as it's perfect for keeping my garden snips, or pruner handy...and the short length makes it very easy to work in.

{from CALIFORNIA} The second shop I'd love to share with you is called Linea Carta. I am equally obsessed with this shop, which is owned by Diva. Like Claire, she designs, sews and prints all of her products using sustainable materials. Her shop is chock full of all sorts of amazing finds...from wishing bracelets {a favorite of mine} to stationery. But, today I'm focusing on her linens.
Pictured above: {a.} ladybug napkins...people close to me know how much I love ladybugs! I have a set of coasters in the same print. {b.} hearts napkin...this was the first item I purchased from Linea Carta. It's made an appearance in several of my posts, including this recent one. {c.} geo makeup bag. Even though this isn't a kitchen item, I couldn't resist including it. It's a recent addition to the shop and I love it! {d.} fern napkin...I can just imagine how pretty a table set with these napkins would look.
Diva is also generously offering up a 15% off coupon code for my readers this week! The coupon code, "parsley" can be used starting today, and is valid through Sunday August 28th. Be sure to take a look at all the beautifully made items available at Linea Carta...even if you're not in the market for kitchen linens, there are loads of other finds!
Supporting small businesses is important to me. I prefer buying items from shops like these any day over mass produced products. The simple beauty of these linens aside, they are amazingly well made. I love seeing them in my kitchen, or at our dinner table and I hope you do to! So tell you share my love of kitchen linens? What are some of your favorites?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Zucchini Blossom Fritters

I've been eating zucchini flowers my entire life. Every summer my grandmother would harvest the blossoms from her zucchini plants and use them to make a frittata. We ate many, many frittatas each season and I loved every one of them.
Nowadays, squash blossoms are a popular ingredient. But, when I was growing up, it seemed that unless you were Italian, you probably had never heard of eating them. So, it didn't surprise me one bit when shortly after meeting my Italian husband, his mother served me Zucchini Blossom Fritters...and it was love at first taste.
Since then, my whole family enjoys these delicious treats every year. My boys love when their grandmother makes them a batch....and, it brings me back to my childhood summers.
It's very common to find zucchini blossom recipes that involve stuffing the flowers with a ricotta cheese mixture, then pan-frying them in a tempura like batter. Those are fantastic too! But, these are different. The blossoms are sauteed in olive oil to soften them a bit, then chopped, and added to a fritter batter flavored with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. I was so happy when my mother-in-law shared the recipe with me. But, I have to say that unless she is the one making them, they are never exactly the same. Doesn't that seem to be the case with all passed down recipes?
For those not familiar with squash flowers...
The best way to get your hands on some is to grow your own zucchinis. But, if that's not possible, check your local farmer's market for some. If they don't have any when you go, just ask! Most times, if they can bring you some the following week, they will. I've also seen them at specialty markets,...or if you live in the Northeast, the company Satur Farms packages them this time of year.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

I made this pie today as a tribute to a fellow food blogger. One whom I've never met, but who's blog, In Jennie's Kitchen, I've been reading for longer than I've had my own. Tragically, her husband passed away this past Sunday...suddenly, of a heart attack. The food blog community immediately took to the internet, reaching out, wanting to know what they could do to help her.
Amazingly, she posted to her blog this week, to talk about her husband and to ask her readers to make this pie today. It was something he loved, and making it is a way to celebrate his life. She also asked that it be shared with someone you love.

Banilla Smoothie

Last week I talked about a way to freeze and store fruit, to have it on hand for making smoothies. Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite ways to use some of that frozen fruit...namely, bananas! I don't know about you...but, in our house, if there's one fruit that goes from ripe to over-ripe faster than any other, it's bananas.
But, ever since discovering this recipe, having over-ripe bananas has been a happy occasion. It means that there will always be a constant supply of frozen banana chunks in the freezer for making this smoothie.
Along with the smoothie bag making discussion...I also talked about how smoothie obsessed my two boys have been in recent months. They've always loved them. But, the obsession took over shortly after our regular blender crapped out and I purchased this system as a replacement. It's a compact blender that comes with four plastic smoothie glasses and lids. You fill the glass with your smoothie ingredients, twist the blade attachment over the glass...then blend away. It's super easy...even for a child to use, and safer than a traditional blender. I've seen them sold in many places, but this online store has them in a bunch of great colors!
The recipe for this smoothie came from a little book I got from my DH for my 30th birthday {which was more years ago than I'd care to think about}. At the time, I had a 2 year old & a newborn and happened to be in the midst of my own smoothie phase. I used the book for a while...but, since the phase ended, it's sat collecting dust. My older son has taken quite a liking to the book nowadays. I love seeing him {every morning} with his little black book of smoothies, deciding what the day's blend will be...then gathering up all the ingredients he can find, measuring them, and whipping himself up some breakfast.
It's bittersweet that my son is now old enough to fix himself breakfast...more so, one that doesn't simply involve pouring some cereal and milk in a bowl! For all of you mother's of babies and toddlers out actually does get easier...and, yes, it does go by in a blink of an eye.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Instagram Love

I first heard about the iPhone app, Instagram quite awhile back. But, at the time I was heavily obsessed with a similar {yet very different} photography app, called, I didn't really bother checking it out. When I finally did, I couldn't believe I had waited so long!
Many of you out there have probably already heard of fact, many of my friends and family are currently just as engrossed in using it as I am. But, as popular as this app is, there are still plenty of folks out there who haven't. I know this because I get inquiries very frequently from people who see my pictures on places like Facebook, and ask...How did you do that?? So, this post is my answer to all those inquires.
It's also to share with you all of the cool things I've learned you can do with the pictures you take!

Friday, August 5, 2011

{The Basics} Smoothie Bag

I've spoken many times here about keeping a "stock bag". Whenever I'm using a whole chicken for a recipe, I save any remaining pieces I might have and store them in the freezer for when I make chicken stock.
Over the past year I have started using the same method for making a "smoothie bag". It came about around the same time my kids became smoothie obsessed. Both my boys love drinking them, but my older one is consumed with the smoothie.
He drinks them every day after school, as his snack. He drinks them for breakfast, or a pre-sports game snack. If he could he would drink them for every meal. But, I had to limit him to one a day...even with good things, it's easy to go overboard.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bozo Picture of the Week...

My younger son participated in a theatre camp this summer and these pictures are from the performance they did at the end of the week-long session. It was called Mother Goose Retires...a story about the election of her successor once she retires to the Bahamas. The cast was made up of many of the typical Nursery Rhyme characters...such as Little Bo Peep, Jack & Jill, Nat King Cole, The 5 Little Piggies, etc. My little guy had the part of Little Tommy Tucker. He looks less than thrilled in the photo above...but, that was taken during a duet and he was super nervous about that part! Once he got through it he was so proud of himself.

I know that it's common to bring flowers for performers after a performance. But, I didn't think he'd be all that into getting flowers. So, I brought him a gift bag full of chocolates and a balloon.

I was so proud of him and got choked up at many points during the show. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever and I hope he wants to do another course again soon!