Monthly Archives: January 2012

Grapefruit and Walnut Broccoli Slaw

Oh Mama’s not done with grapefruit yet. Not even close.

I’m actually a little obsessed with all of the citrus fruits in general lately. They are a miracle right now.

And I had a little epiphany on the subject yesterday afternoon that I’d like to share.

So I was standing over my sink, shamelessly sucking the juice out of the grapefruit that I had just segmented, and glancing around at all of the used tissues and various medicine bottles strung out all over the counter from The Dude’s most recent nasty cold. When it hit me how incredible it is that during the time of year when people’s immune systems are taxed and tested for months, the one fresh fruit you can find in abundance are the beautiful, juicy little specimens that are absolutely bursting with vitamin C to help you out.

Zen.

I totally found zen while standing over my kitchen sink and looking at dirty Kleenexes, friends.

Okay. So enough of that hippie talk. Let’s get to this slaw.

I’m telling you, if you are feeling the winter blues and have had enough of the heavy, hearty, stews and slow cooker meals you have been making since Christmas, you need to make this. This slaw doesn’t feel like winter. After a few bites, you will be ready to dig out your flip flops and tank tops and head out to the front porch swing.

It is crunchy in all the right ways from the shredded, fresh veggies. Which makes biting into the plump, soft, grapefruit all the more exquisite. The grapefruit also makes such a nice sweet contrast to the bitter slaw. I know I don’t even have to tell you how amazing the freshly toasted walnuts are. And the dressing is an Asian inspired, tart, sweet, wonder of flavor.

Now I know I always say that things are easy to put together, but this was so quick I was even kind of surprised, myself, when I was finished.

While your walnuts are toasting, you toss all of the dressing ingredients into a mason jar and shake it up.

Then you pour it over the slaw, segment a grapefruit (or two if you are feeling feisty) over the top, toss in the walnuts, and stir it around a bit.

Now it is of course like most slaws in that it really tastes better the longer you let it sit. So I would advise making this at least the night before you want to serve it up. You get bonus points if you go check on it and give it a gentle toss from time to time.

Now get in the kitchen and make something that will boost your mood by making you think of summer while giving that immune system a helping hand.

Grapefruit and Walnut Broccoli Slaw

1 cup walnuts

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice (approximately 1/2 medium grapefruit)

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

12 oz bag of broccoli slaw

1 whole grapefruit cut into segments

salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until golden and fragrant.

In a mason jar or any container with a tight fitting lid add grapefruit juice, sesame oil, vinegar, ginger, garlic, olive oil, and honey. Shake vigorously until well combined.

In a a large bowl gently toss together slaw, grapefruit segments, dressing, and walnuts. Season with salt.

Cover and refrigerate overnight until ready to serve.

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Grapefruit Martinis

Ahhhhh happy hour.

The time of day when you get to kick up your feet and have that long deserved spirit to help you relax.

A moment to toast the day’s accomplishments and savor the beginning of a fabulous evening.

A second to flirt over a sexy cocktail and appetizers before a nice meal.

….

Psssshhhh…let’s get back to reality folks. Come happy hour ’round these parts I have two cranky, fighting, crying, kids; a whining dog; and a hungry, sweaty Hubs who is just walking in the door from the gym. I myself can usually be found in the middle of it all trying desperately to plate up some dinner without pulling my hair out.

It’s an hour, but it ain’t happy.

No. Happy hour comes much much later for us. Once we ever get the kids down you will see The Hubs and I waltz out the girls’ rooms and do a little happy dance. Then you will often see us heading over to the liquor cabinet for a little evening drink to unwind for the day.

Here is one we have been sipping on the past several nights.

I bought a huge bag of pink grapefruits last week, and had tons of new recipe ideas in mind for them. Sadly, every single one of them flopped miserably except for this one. Now this one is a keeper. And I don’t say this lightly. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t do mixed drinks. I like to stick to beer and scotch. So for me to endorse this little drink  is saying a lot.

Cheers! Here’s to you for successfully making it through another day with two little kids!

Pink Grapefruit Martinis

Serves 2

2/3 cup freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice (about 1 medium/large grapefruit)

4 oz extra dry gin

splash of dry vermouth to taste

1 tablespoon loosely packed brown sugar

2 grapefruit segments for garnish

Pour fresh juice through a strainer.

Add gin, vermouth, and brown sugar to the strained juice and stir well, until sugar has dissolved.

Pour into a shaker with ice and shake.

Place a grapefruit segment into each martini glass and pour chilled mixture over segment.

Sip Sip Hooray!

…shhhhhh…don’t wake up the girls, please…

Cherry Almond Butter Breakfast Cake

My mom was always the coolest. Whenever we had some leftover, she let my sisters and I  have cake for breakfast.

I guess she figured that cake really wasn’t any worse for you than most sugary cereals out there. I actually agree with her on that one, yet I have never given The Dude cake for breakfast. Mainly because there is no amount of coffee in the world that could help me power through Sugar Dude first thing in the morning. Scary thought.

This weekend though, I decided I wanted to be cool like my mom. The Dude stumbled into the kitchen, rubbing her sleepy eyes as I was feeding Monkey some breakfast. I gave her a big hug and asked her what she would like to eat, “Monkey is having cake. Would you like some too?”

“Waaaahht?! Cake for breakfast?!

Needless to say, she was game; and I felt like the cool mom. Mission accomplished.

This here is a cake you don’t have to feel bad about feeding to the wee ones.

I am billing it as a breakfast cake because it runs circles around cereal (or leftover birthday cake, for that matter) in terms of nutrition. But really, it is great any time of day. It makes a nice mid day snack, or a grab and go lunch for anyone who has to chase around after kids who have boundless energy.

It is full of fruit, oats, whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt, flax seed, and as promised, the fabulous almond butter that we made over the weekend.

You will notice that for this recipe, I let my oats soak for a little while before I combined them into the batter. Basically I did this because The Dude has texture issues. Many times, if she sees oats peeking through baked goods, she picks them out and declares that “nuts are yucky.” I have never been able to convince her that the oats she sometimes finds are not in fact nuts. So a lot of times what I will do is soak them in milk for a bit before I bake with them. It helps the oats dissolve into the batter and adds a bit of softness to the whole wheat which can sometimes be a little grainy.

Here are my oats pre-soak.

And here they are after about 45 minutes.

And just a little heads up, this is not a very sweet cake so I made a little sweet drizzle to go over the top.

Come on now, even though it is healthy cake we have to have a little bit of fun. I mean…I am the cool mom after all…

Cherry Almond Butter Breakfast Cake

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup almond milk (regular dairy milk is fine too)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons milled flax seed

3/4 cup almond butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

1 cup dried cherries

Stir together oats and almond milk in a small bowl and let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and flax seed. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine almond butter and brown sugar.

Fold in Greek yogurt and vanilla.

Stir softened oats into the almond butter mixture.

Add the dry ingredients to wet.

Fold in the dried cherries.

Press batter into a greased 8×8 in pan (it tends to be pretty thick and sticky, so you may want to press it down with your hands) and bake for 30 minutes.

Let cool completely before drizzling with glaze (2 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons almond milk) and cutting into squares.

Almond Butter

Want to know what my very very most favorite food in the whole wide world is?

Peanut butter.

Want to know what food is sweeping in to take it’s place?

Almond butter.

Okay, I’m sorry. We have to stop here. Every time I read over that line about the almond butter “sweeping” in. I imagine a winged jar of almond butter crying out with an angry vengeance as it lifts up a jar of peanut butter into it’s talons, and flying off with it into the mountainous distance.

This is the kind of junk that goes on in my mind all the time. All. The. Time.

Try not to be scared. Why don’t we get back to the almond butter?

This stuff is pretty much amazing. And guess what? You are not going to believe how easy it is to make at home.

First roast up your almonds in the oven. They are going to give your house the most warm and inviting smell only second to maybe coffee. Get ready.

Then so long as you don’t nibble away at too many (this is sometimes a concern for me), all you do is dump them in the food processor with some oil, salt, and honey. Let it whirl and leave it alone for a while. You have to leave the food processor running for about five minutes. Which I agree is an incredibly long period of time when you have a one year old who will understandably start to get a bit cranky with a noise that loud and a three year old who will start to scream, “MOMMY! TURN THAT THING OFF!” But you will power through and ignore them because it is worth it. I actually get mine going in the laundry room and shut the door to help with the noise.

What you will find when it is finally ready is a rich, intensely nutty concoction that quite frankly makes peanut butter seem a little plain.

You can swirl it into oatmeal, slather it on graham crackers and fruit, or if it pleases you, just go in with a spoon. And if you can save just a little bit (yeah right…you are just going to have to make more) I will show you something really fun you can bake up with it on Wednesday.

Almond Butter

2 cups raw almonds

3 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375.

Place almonds in a single layer on a large cookie sheet and roast for approximately 15 minutes. (I took mine out at 14 minutes. Just check on them when the lovely aroma begins to emanate from the oven and take them out when they are starting to turn a deeper brown.)

Let almonds cool at least 10 minutes.

Place almonds, oil, honey, and salt in a food processor and blend for about five minutes or until it is completely smooth.

The butter may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. If it will take you longer than that to eat it (hahaha), then keep it refrigerated.

….shhhh….do you hear that? (angry caw in the distance)

Blueberry White Chocolate and Bean Smoothie

This recipe reminds me of that episode of Friends where Rachel cooks the traditional English trifle for Thanksgiving.

Do you remember it? Monica lets her make the dessert all by herself. Then just as she is getting ready to serve it, everyone asks her what is in it. So she starts going through the list of ingredients. It all sounds pretty basic at first with custard, jam, etc. and then she says, “…and beef sauteed with peas and carrots.”

I love that. It makes me laugh every time (Oops. Did I fail to mention that I was a big Friends nerd?)

This smoothie recipe kind of looks that way. We start off with blueberries, white chocolate chips, Greek yogurt, and milk. And then toss in a little spinach and white beans.

Wickawhatwhat?

Now the spinach probably isn’t that much of a shock. Spinach is very easily hidden behind berries in a smoothie (come on, Moms…evil laugh with me!), and people have been doing that for forever. But I agree, the white beans do sound a little nuts. Let me tell you though, it is awesome. It makes the smoothie unbelievably creamy.

I tried to tell you that I wanted to get more protein in us at every meal. And since the girls and I eat a smoothie for lunch at least once a week, I wanted to see if I could go a little bit above and beyond the Greek yogurt.

And if you are worried about the taste, the proof is in the trifle. Check it.

Do these faces look grossed out to you?

Now I realize that the white chocolate seems a little extravagant, but you aren’t really using that much. They add a nice sweet richness to it. Plus, look at what happens when you tell your Dude that there is white chocolate in her smoothie.

Love it.

Blueberry White Chocolate and Bean Smoothie

serves 2

1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach

1 cup frozen blueberries

1/4 cup frozen white chocolate chips

1/4 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed

6 oz Greek yogurt (I used strawberry but whatever flavor you have on hand should be good)

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in the order listed into the blender. (The spinach always goes in first, just in case The Dude walks in and sees what you are making. It will get hidden first.)

Blend on high for about a minute until no lumps remain.

Serve immediately.

This may have a few wonky ingredients, but it definitely does not taste like feet.

Saturday Selections: Championship Dip Duo

Well folks, this is my last Saturday Selection of the football season.

I know, I know. Wipe your tears away.

I am leaving you with something very exciting to graze on during the big game on Monday night.

A little duo of dips if you please.

One is for the Tide. The other for the Tigers.

The Alabama side is a sweet white chocolate cheesecake dip with a raspberry topping.

It is a rich cream cheese and marshmallow fluff mixture studded with white chocolate chips and slathered with a sweet/tangy raspberry preserve.

The LSU side is a decadent blueberry cream cheese dip topped with apricot preserves.

The sweet blueberries pair so well with the tangy cream cheese. And don’t they make the prettiest purple?

I loved serving them together so you could go back and forth between the two.

It is kind of hard to tell, but I was trying to mound the dips into the shapes of little footballs so that we could make sort of a competition between the two. You know, whichever dip made it to the end zone first would win or something cheesy like that. But I would not recommend serving it that way. The blueberry dip was a bit too soft to stay formed and it kind of started making a mess all over the board. When I make these again on Monday, I think I am going to swirl the preserves into the dips.

And even though I am supposed to be partial to the Alabama side, I couldn’t tell you which one is my favorite if you held tickets to the game itself in front of my face.

…haha I’m just kidding…if you were trying to give me tickets I would totally make up an answer so I could go to the game.

But whatever I said would be a lie because the one I liked best was the one I had in my mouth at the time.

We served these up with graham cracker sticks, Nilla wafers, and pretzels.

Please, please, please promise me that you will try the Alabama dip with a pretzel. It really brings out the white chocolate. Crazy good.

Alabama Cheesecake Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup marshmallow fluff

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/3 cup raspberry preserves

1/4 teaspoon water or lemon juice

Combine cream cheese and marshmallow fluff in a medium bowl.

Fold in white chocolate chips.

Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Before serving, top with raspberry preserves thinned out with water or lemon juice.

LSU Blueberry Cheesecake Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup blueberries (frozen is fine, just thaw before blending)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup apricot preserves

In a food processor combine cream cheese and blueberries until smooth.

In a medium bowl combine blueberry cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla.

Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Before serving, top with apricot preserves.

(and P.S. Roll Tide!)

Thai Peanut Granola

I’m not usually a New Years resolution kind of lady. I typically feel like if you are waiting around until a specific date to decide you are going to do something, then you probably aren’t really committed to doing it in the first place.

For example I will say, “I will fold that basket of laundry this afternoon when Monkey Mode is napping.” And then two days later The Hubs and are still nabbing underwear from the basket after we get out of the shower. Had I really been determined to fold and put away those clothes, I probably would have just done it when I pulled them out of the dryer.

So even though I am not usually into the resolution thing, I am into making an effort to make the year as great as it has potential to be. So I made a list of ten things I can do. I just took the basic abstract hopes for my year (i.e. to be a better mom and wife; to be happier; to feel stronger, healthier, and smarter) and put down some clear cut ways that I think will help me get there. Just little things…well most of them are little…you wanna see my list? Of course you do, you little voyeurs!

1. Do something silly every day.

2. Make the girls do something silly every day. Back when we first got married, The Hubs and I were always so goofy.  We laughed a lot. But now that there is so much that has to get done in a day, I feel like we are rarely as silly as we used to be. From the time I get up until the time I go to bed it is feed the girls, brush their teeth, get them dressed, change Monkey’s diaper, help The Dude to the bathroom, clean up the table, sweep, feed the dog, do the laundry (but not fold it or put it up, of course), blah, blah, blah…it is so constant that I forget to take a moment and just be ridiculous and have a good time. There have been days this past year that I don’t think I ever laughed. Not once. That is sad. What good is going through a day if you can’t enjoy it?

3. Do something away from the girls twice a month. When Monkey was a little baby and I was nursing her around the clock, it was hard to get out of the house; but now there is no reason that I can’t get do something away from them. They need to spend time away from me just as much as I need to be away from them.

4. Get dressed up for The Hubs at least once a week. This is one I have already been trying to do. But again, I am so busy running around after the kids that I sometimes literally haven’t even looked in the mirror since I stepped out of the shower in the morning. I figure he would probably appreciate seeing me with a little makeup on and maybe some clothes that aren’t covered in food or worse. Can I get an amen, Hubs?

5. Do something for others once a month and try to get the girls in on it. I want my girls to be philanthropic, magnanimous kinds of people. It would probably be best to start them young.

6. Take a photography class. You know that you guys would appreciate this as much as me. I mean seriously…I obviously have no idea what I am doing.

Yikes.

7. Read the entire Jane Austen catalog. Now this one is kind of embarrassing for me. I am a total bookworm and minored in English in college, but I have never read a single Jane Austen book. I hear they are pretty good.

8. Go to an Avett Brothers concert. When we were in college, going to concerts was what The Hubs and I did. But of course, there is something about having kids that makes it a bit difficult to go to shows. These guys have quickly become one of my favorite bands, and I would love love love to go see them this year if at all possible.

9. Do ten uninterrupted kipping pullups. Come on! What kind of resolution list would this be without some kind of fitness goal? Hubs has become a die hard CrossFit freak over the past year and has somehow managed to make me feel like a slob even though I am arguably in the best shape of my life. So by the end of the year, I want to be able to get out in the back yard (yes we have pullup bars in the back yard…told you he was a freak…) and knock out some pullups with him.

10. Eat more protein daily. After just a few weeks of doing CrossFit type workouts and increasing the weights that I am using, I am craving protein like crazy. It has really made me stop and evaluate what all of us should be eating. So I am trying to make sure that everyone gets at least a little bit of protein with every meal and snack they eat.

So there you have my list. We will see how it goes. Like I said, I feel like everything on here is really just little things that I can do that will make an all around positive impact on my life this year.

So how did I do yesterday? I was silly more than once and made both The Dude and The Hubs laugh at me. I encouraged The Dude to do some crazy good interpretive dancing (to the Avett Brothers no less) which made me and Monkey laugh. I put on makeup before The Hubs got home. I did a super hard upper body workout that could not have hurt my cause for pullups. And I made this granola.

Full of hearty, protein-rich peanut butter, and peanuts. It has tons of flavor just like your favorite Thai peanut sauce. It is garlicky, and spicy, and slightly sweet, and crunchy, and irresistible, and good for you. Just the kind of snack to help you get on with your own list of ways to better yourself this year.

Here’s the recipe.

Thai Peanut Granola

Makes approximately 4 snack portions

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha hot chili sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/4 cup (heaping) salted, roasted peanuts

1/4 cup packed sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl combine peanut butter, sriracha, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, garlic powder, cilantro, and ginger.

Stir in oats, peanuts, and coconut.

Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stirring once halfway through cooking.

Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.