Thursday, June 27, 2013

Superfood summer smoothie

I love smoothies.  And, while I've experimented with smoothies over the years (believe me, I've had to drink a lot of them on my own) - this is the smoothie that my kids get the most excited about.  
I love that it is made from simple ingredients.  Spinach, blueberries, strawberries, bananas and soy milk.  
The blueberries, spinach, and chia lend their "SUPERFOOD" powers to it,  and it is a great way to get some fruits and veggies into my family first thing in the morning.  

1.5 cups frozen blueberries
3/4 - 1 cup frozen spinach
6 fresh strawberries (frozen can be used)
 1 frozen banana
3-4 cups soy milk (or any other milk on hand)
1 T. agave nectar or sweetener of your choice
1 TBSP. chia seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Combine in blender and blend until smooth.  Add milk or ice as needed to adjust for desired consistency.  

A few tips:   
I love to use fresh spinach, but it always gets too slimy in my fridge.  To alleviate this, I buy large bags of spinach (Costco carries a very large inexpensive one) and sort  it into sandwich baggies and then freeze it. 
Bananas do two things at our house.  Get eaten immediately, or go brown. 
I have started freezing ripe bananas, and just grab one to throw into the smoothie.  
I use a knife to peel it (frozen) and it works great. 

I find that if I use frozen ingredients, I don't need to bother adding any ice to the smoothie.  If I don't use frozen ingredients - it needs approx. 2 cups of ice. 

I add cinnamon and nutmeg because of their amazing health properties - google them, you'll see!

Serves 4, and each serving has approx. 160 calories

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Easiest Corn on the Cob - Ever!

It's summertime, which means corn on the cob time~we love that stuff!
Growing up, I learned to prepare corn on the cob by shucking/husking it and boiling it.
Then - about ten years ago, I learned to shuck it, and then to add corn and 3 T. water to a ziplock, seal it all except for a corner (for steam release) and to cook for 6 minutes.  This is a really great way to cook corn.

However, a couple of years ago I discovered that you can cook an intact ear of corn over fire coals - so I figured it could be done in the microwave too.

Really - the  LAZIEST  EASIEST way to cook corn - and it comes out perfectly!

Step by step instructions
1.  Remove corn ears from shopping bag.
2. Place in microwave.
3. Cook for 8-10 minutes (4 ears)

Husk and serve.

The beauty of this is that the corn self insulates and steams itself, and it stays pretty warm until it is husked.  Sometimes I throw the corn into my oven (if the oven is warm already) to wait while I'm finishing everything else so that it is still hot when I serve everything.   

Monday, June 24, 2013

School Lunch Butter Finger Bars

While I posted a variation of this recipe several years ago, the frosting just wasn't quite right.  They were 98% there, and it bugged me.

Today however, I hit the holy grail!!   JUST like the lunch lady.  While the recipe is almost identical to what I'd been doing, the process changed a bit.  

Note the frosting that is fudge like, the light peanut butter layer, and the bar's crisp outer edges with a chewy moist bottom and center.  
Growing up, these bars were a commodity - secrets, and favors were exchanged for these babies.  EVERYONE wanted hot lunch on French Dip and Butter Finger Bars day.  I hope these take you back to second grade too!   

Cream together
3/4 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup peanut butter (smooth not chunky)
1/2 cup sugar

Mix in
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Mix in
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal/quick oats

Spread into greased 11x17 greased jelly roll pan.  Bake at 350* for 22-30 minutes - until light brown and puffy.

Peanut Butter Topping
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Whip 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter until it becomes light colored and fluffy.
Carefully spread the whipped peanut butter over the hot pan cookie.

1/2 cup butter
1 TBSP milk
3 TBSP cocoa baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add milk and cocoa, and cook on medium heat stirring constantly.  Heat just until boiling.  Remove from heat and add vanilla, and gradually add powdered sugar.  Stir until thickened and then pour over the whipped peanut butter and gently spread over entire cookie.

Cool completely, then slice into bar cookies.

Grandma Jeri's Sloppy Joe's

The quintessential sloppy Joe, or Barbeque as Grandma calls it

I grew up in a really big family, with lots of uncles & aunts, cousins, and relatives - all usually within a 8 mile radius.  That said, for most of my younger years, my memories of Sunday afternoons all include dinners at grandma's house.  During the hot summer months, grandma would make Sloppy Joe's since they didn't have to be cooked on the stove, but could be cooked in a mammoth electric roaster like this: 

Here's grandma's recipe - approximately 20 servings

3 lbs hamburger (or lean ground turkey, with 3 cubes beef bouillon)
1.5 chopped onions (Grandma uses 3 - that's too much for my family)
1-3 chopped green/red/yellow peppers (optional - to taste)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 TBS. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
1 can tomato soup
2 small cans tomato paste (Grandma uses 4 - my family likes 2)
1 can tomato sauce

Brown meat and drain (rinse if desired).  If using turkey, reserve juices for later.
Mix all other ingredients into meat and bring to a boil. Transfer to a crock pot and heat for at least 2 hours on low. Stir occasionally.
Alternately, this may be simmered on the stovetop for 1 hour, but stir often so that it doesn't stick and burn.

Use reserved turkey juices to add moisture and thin slightly if mixture seems too thick.
Serve on buns.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

For the record

Every now and then (or more often than that), I try a recipe that is awful.
For the record, tonight was the night.  It started with a can of red enchilada sauce.  It had a recipe for Enchilada soup on the back of the can.  We love tortilla soup, so why not try enchilada I thought...besides, if it is on the back of the can, it must be great!
Bleh, horrible.  For the record -stick with the tortilla.  While I love good food, food is food in my reasoning.  Enchilada soup is not food.  It got thrown out.

For the record though - my Pavlova (see previous post) turned out as light and fluffy as a ballerina.  Cosmic balance was made in my kitchen tonight.  

Pavlova, Red, White and Blue

My friend Judy in Colorado made this for our family several years ago.  Her husband's family is from Australia, and it is a traditional Aussie and New Zealander's dessert.  It has a crunchy, meringue like outer shell, and the inside is soft and almost marshmallowishly light.

I was headed to a book club tonight and wanted to take something elegant, yet light - and then I remembered the Pavlova. What could be lighter than meringue, whipping cream and fresh strawberries?
For the record, it disappeared, and several went back for seconds and thirds.

Preheat oven to 275
*Note - this takes an hour to bake, and almost another hour to cool in the oven, and may need to be planned ahead.  

1-1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 T. cornstarch
6 large egg whites (room temp - NOT cold)
pinch salt
fresh fruit

Combine dry ingredients - set aside

Beat egg whites for 2-3 minutes
Add wet ingredients and blend (vanilla & white vinegar)

Slowly introduce dry ingredients

Beat for 4-5 minutes

Spread on parchment paper, or pipe from decorators bag for a detailed edge.

Reduce oven to 250 and bake for 50-60 minutes

DO NOT OPEN OVEN.  Allow to cool in oven.  

Serve with whipped cream, and fresh fruit of choice. Strawberries, and Blueberries are perfect for a fourth of July celebration.