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Monday, June 29, 2015

Chew on This | Roasted Strawberry Mint Lemonade

Last summer we took a long weekend trip to Michigan. We stopped in Ann Arbor for one night and made our way walking around the UofM campus, shopping at boutiques (and Zingerman's), and of course, eating. 

We stopped at Mani Osteria for dinner and had a really spectacular meal. We came away from it wishing we lived closer, or had this restaurant closer to us. While there, both kids raved about the strawberry mint lemonade so much that I had to try. Wow! Holy wow! The. Best. Lemonade. Ever. Ever. Ever.

So here is my attempt to recreate the most amazing lemonade ever. Yes, I'm quite sure they don't roast their strawberries. That trick was my genius idea! And yes, I know they strain out the strawberry seeds. The Sprite insisted I do that as well, before she would try it. But dang, this stuff is gooooooood! 

Is it a labor of love? Yes, but you can shortcut the lemonade-making portion by using your favorite already-made lemonade product. The rest - well, all I can say is, it is TOTALLY worth it. Enjoy!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Who knew? How to...Celebrate Leon Day

We're celebrating Leon Day today. 
Happy Leon Day!

If you don't know what Leon Day is, no worries. Until a handful of days ago, I didn't know what it was either. You see, Leon Day is celebrated today, June 25th, and is the midway point until...Christmas. Yep, that's right, I said it - Christmas!

I know Christmas may be the furthest thing from your mind right now - we're in the midst of summer, for goodness sake. We're all popsicles, the sound of lawnmowers, and fire flies. However, Leon Day (Noel spelled backwards - clever, right?) gives us the opportunity to enjoy a little Christmas magic outside of a wonderful, but often times very busy, holiday season. To celebrate this lovely day, maybe you and the kids bake some Christmas cutout cookies for a friend as a nice surprise. Or you could write out your Christmas list and start making or shopping for the gifts now so that last minute spending doesn't blow the budget. Maybe you do what we decided to do to celebrate, make some eatable ornaments for our bird friends that fly south for the winter. 

I love preparing our house for the holiday season, our two large Christmas trees, one in the foyer and one in our family room, being my favorite things to decorate. We fill those trees to bursting with treasured ornaments made or purchased by ourselves or loved ones (these Christmas Ornaments from Patience Brewster are especially whimsical). So we thought, why not gussy up a tree outside to top off Leon Day. Here's what we did; we took some many-days-old bagels, slathered them with peanut butter, and sprinkled with a heavy dose of sunflower seeds. We strung them with bakers twine (as well as some crackers, you know, for variety) and hung everything from a Christmas pine in our yard. Now we can delight in watching the birds feast on our Leon Day ornaments! 

And for the two cuties that thoroughly enjoyed celebrating Leon Day with me, we toasted this new-to-us holiday with Roasted Strawberry Mint Lemonade (don't miss this recipe next Monday!!). Yum!

Happy Leon Day!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Chew on This | Herbed Oil

Our summer break is in full swing. We've had a vacation, camps, started sports leagues, eaten s'mores, been eaten by mosquitos, stayed up too late, slept in too long...all those awesome things that summer is made of. 

We've also been seeing tons of growth in the garden. The rain has been plentiful and more often than not, the humidity has made it feel like a greenhouse outside. So yes, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, snap peas, peppers, all getting huge. And my basil, rosemary, mint, and oregano are so gorgeous. I have so many recipes for their use that its been hard to decide what to make first. I was actually stunted by the whole decision making process for a bit until I couldn't stand it anymore. So, I made the easiest thing I could think of, this delicious Herbed Oil.

Our primary use for this yummy goodness is as a dip for bread. The best! However, herbed oil is good for so much more - as a marinade for your meat or seafood, over pasta, drizzled on pizza...all excellent choices. Now you go make a good choice and get to making this fabulous herbed oil.


Here's our recipe:

Herbed Oil
1/2 C oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of your knife
2 T basil, chopped
1 1/2 T fresh oregano, chopped
1 1/2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t fresh cracked pepper
1/2 t salt

In a small sauce pan, warm your oil with the smashed garlic cloves over medium-low heat. When the oil is just beginning to simmer, take pan off the heat and allow the garlic to steep for 20-30 minutes. Remove the garlic (save for another recipe or discard) from the oil and add the rest of your ingredients. Stir to incorporate and allow the herbs to meld their flavors before serving (about 15 minutes or so). 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Chew on This | Seared Stuffed Dates

My Sprite, she has just completed her career in elementary school. She is now officially a middle schooler. To commemorate, celebrate, and honor the maturing masses, the kids had final choir, band/orchestra concerts, a class picnic, and The Clap Out.

The Clap Out is a school tradition when all students line the hallways and clap, cheer, and congratulate the departing fifth grade class as the walk through the halls. It is as precious and bittersweet as it sounds. 

There have been many 'lasts' this year for my Sprite. The last elementary school classroom parties. The last elementary school Father-Daughter Dance. The last time, for a long time, she'll be one of the big kids on the bus, sitting in the way back acting all cool and...big. The last day of elementary school. 

It dents your heart a bit. More than a bit. 

Lots of firsts and new beginnings are on the horizon. They will be wonderful. And different. And amazing. And ouchy. 

To lovely, sweet endings.
To exciting and happy beginnings.

'Closing time, every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end...'


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chew on This | Cheesy Cauliflower Sticks

Two more lunches to pack. Homework folders have been emptied. Permission slips, end-of-year party donations, teacher gifts - signed, purchased, delivered. And registrations for summer sports camps and leagues have been mailed. It's the end, and I couldn't be happier.

Summer break begins this week. With it brings the sudden stoppage of the many things that have kept us moving briskly since, well, the end of last July. I'm looking forward to a slower pace and a break in the routine. We haven't had time to make a summer bucket list yet, but after this week, we'll have plenty of time to explore further what great adventures we can plan for the summer. 

Yay summer!! 


Here's our recipe:

Wondering what else you can do with that head of cauliflower sitting patiently in your refrigerator? Why not try a batch of healthy cheesy sticks. Surprisingly tasty (especially for me, a notorious vegetable avoider), you'll get the cheesy goodness you crave delivered in a healthier, low carbohydrate package. Enjoy!

Cheesy Cauliflower Sticks

1 head of cauliflower (riced)
2 eggs
1 C cheddar cheese, shredded (separated)
1 tsp powdered garlic
2 green onions, white and green parts chopped (reserve 2 T for garnish)
salt and pepper

marinara sauce for dipping

Preheat your oven to 400℉. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

To rice your cauliflower, grate cauliflower head on the large holes of a box grater - or cut cauliflower into florets, place into a food processor and pulse until cauliflower is reduced to the size of rice. 

Place riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl, add 2 T of water to the cauliflower and heat on high for 1-3 minutes, or until cauliflower is soft. Pour your cauliflower onto a large square of cheesecloth, or clean dishtowel, and squeeze out as much water from the cauliflower as you can. Keep squeezing - you don't want mushy cheesy sticks!

In a large bowl, crack your two eggs and whisk. Add to your eggs your drained cauliflower, 1/2 C of your shredded cheese, garlic powder, green onions, salt and pepper. Fold all the ingredients together with a spatula until combined. Press cauliflower mixture into a large rectangle on your lined cookie sheet, about 1/4" thick. Sprinkle top with remaining shredded cheese and place into the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until edges being to brown. Remove from the oven, garnish with reserved green onion and cut into sticks. Serve with marinara sauce and enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chew on This | Chai Tea Latte (Concentrate)

The game started at 6:00pm. The threat was there, you could feel it as the clouds steadily rolled in. Yet, we were hopeful. At 5:56pm I felt a drop. At 5:57pm I was soaked to the bone. Parents stood, umbrellas bent, pant legs heavy with rain. The girls on the field, however, acted as if the torrential downpour didn't exist. They ran hard, shot hard, and won the game 12-3.

The Sprite, so thrilled to have had such a great game, came off the field with chattering teeth and blue lips. Once home, a warm shower and dry, cozy clothes were the first orders of business. Second, a large mug of our favorite drink to date - Chai Tea Latte. A beautiful combination of flavors, you can enjoy this drink warm or iced. Either way is a total delight.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chew on This | Minty Mushy Pea

The start of Spring is a big tease. It always is. I anxiously watch as sweet little crocus and daffodil shoots struggle to unearth themselves in the midst of snowflakes. I hear the thick, brown mud laughing victoriously as it makes its way onto my wooden floors. Steel grey, rainy skies outnumber glimpses of blue. In these shifting weather moments before blasts of color start filling our landscape, I am left longing for brilliant greens, buttery yellows, and blushing pinks. 

So scratch-made color it shall be.