Monthly Archives: August 2012

Smooth(ie) Mornings

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Breakfast is my least favorite meal of the day. Not because I don’t like to eat it, don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE to eat breakfast.  Eggs, bacon, sausage, and a few slices of a nice, ripe tomato picked straight from the garden.  Yum.  That would start my morning off right.

No, it’s definitely not my least favorite meal of the day because I don’t like to eat it.  It’s my least favorite meal of the day because it starts the morning off with a mess to clean up.  And since I clean the kitchen really thoroughly every night, I want to keep it reasonably clean at least through the mornings, which means that my kids get very simple breakfasts that are easy to clean up.  Cereal and fruit, oatmeal, or yogurt and peanut butter toast.  Things like that.  Unless my husband is home and feels like making breakfast, which he usually does on the weekends.

Recently, I was looking through my food pins and saw this smoothie recipe, from Sing for Your Supper, and I thought that smoothies would be a perfect quick, easy to clean up breakfast option.  And low and behold, I had everything I needed to try Sing for  Your Supper’s recipe:  Ice, honey, unsweetened vanilla soy milk (you can also use the sweetened variety, or even cow or almond milk), Greek yogurt (adds protein and gives it a creamy consistency), strawberries (I used frozen because it was what I had), blueberries, a peach, a banana, and raw spinach leaves.

Smoothies are pretty hard to mess up.  You basically just blend your ice with a little of each of the various fruit that you want to add, a squirt or two of honey, your milk, a few spoonfuls of yogurt, and a handful of spinach.  The spinach may sound like a strange addition to you, but it does nothing to the flavor and adds all sorts of vitamins and nutrients.  Just slop everything in your blender, put the lid on, and start blending.  It’s thick, so I stopped it periodically and stirred it to be sure everything got nice and uniformly chopped and blended.

he likes it A blender full of smoothie goodness will make about four 8-ounce servings.  His Majesty drinks portion of smoothie served in “his” “shot cup”.

Yep.  I serve my two year old smoothies in a shot glass.

 

It may sound strange, but it was too thick for him to drink from a straw cup, and he’s not quite ready to handle a larger cup (see above about how I don’t want to clean up a mess in the morning…), so the 2 ounce shot glass holds a perfect amount.  He devours it, and then asks for more.  We keep topping him off until we run out of smoothie, and in the end, he gets about an 8 ounce serving… well, maybe 7 ounces.  About an ounce ends up on his face and placemat, which is pretty minimal given the damage the boy can do with even something simple like a piece of toast.  He really likes smoothies, though, and now asks for one every morning.

Christopher was skeptical of the spinach addition until he tasted it.  Then he sucked his drink down, too.  You can’t taste the spinach at all, and it adds tons of vitamins and nutrients to the blend.  The more spinach you add to your mixture, the less pink your smoothie will be, but it will still taste good even if the color looks a bit funky.  He didn’t really care for smoothies until I started adding peaches to them, after having been inspired by this recipe.  Before that, I’d only made them with berries and bananas.  The peaches are a perfect addition.  The riper the better, too, so if you have a peach that is too squishy to eat, toss it in the blender.

If you don’t have everything in the recipe, no worries.  Smoothies are very forgiving.  Give it a try.  Clean up will consist of cleaning the blender and the cutting board.  Oh, and here’s an easy way to clean you blender.  Fill it up about 2/3 of the way with warm water, then put the lid on and turn it on.  Then dump the liquid off, and you won’t have to scrub your blender as much to get it all clean.

What is your favorite breakfast meal?

 

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You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl

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How’s that for the title to a blog post?

I didn’t think of it.  It’s the title to the book I just read by the same name:  You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl, written by one of my favorite authors– who also happens to live in North Carolina– Celia Rivenbark.  She writes her books, which are a collection of essays, in such as way that they are a great blend of sarcasm, humor, and snark.  This is the 4th book of hers that I have read, and while it wasn’t my favorite of her collection (that recognition goes to her book entitled Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank), it was the perfect book to take with you to the beach or to read en route to your vacation destination or while waiting in the lobby at your dentist’s office… so long as you don’t mind being stared at for laughing out loud.

When I first started reading Celia Rivenbark’s books, I really needed to laugh.  It was early 2010, His Majesty had just been born, and I was spending hours– HOURS– sitting and nursing him.  HOURS.  Like most newborns, he occupied 90% of his waking time eating, but unlike most newborns, he occupied what little time he didn’t spend eating by crying.  If he wasn’t on the breast, he was wailing, and oh boy, it was an angry cry.  He had “colic” (or whatever they call it now, “PURPLE” crying), and we tried everything to sooth him, and finally just bucked up and endured it, and mercifully, it passed.  It was about as much fun to pass as a kidney stone, but it did pass.  If you’re dealing with a colicky newborn, hang in there, and please accept my heartfelt fist bump, Mom to Mom.  It’ll go away, and your baby will eventually act like the “normal” babies that you think all of your friends have. Anyway, I wasn’t doing a whole lot of laughing for several months after that little bundle of joy arrived.  To pass the time while he nursed, I started reading, and I’m not talking about Brown Bear or Dr. Seuss.  I started reading something that *I* wanted to read.  And somehow, I ended up with a copy of one of Celia’s books, and that’s what I started out reading.

And I pretty much instantly began laughing again.  So, during the next several weeks, while I racked up hours upon hours of chair time with His Majesty, I plowed through 3 of her books.  And I loved every one of them.  I loved them so much, that I wrote her fan mail.  Seriously.  I emailed her and told her that her books had livened up my endless breastfeeding sessions and brought a smile to my face when I thought that even my facial muscles were suffering from exhaustion.  I may have even said that if she lived closer to me, I’d try to force her to be my BFF… And do you know what?!  She wasn’t even freaked out by my fawning over her, and she actually wrote me back!  Her email was totally friendly and funny, and it made me love her books all the more.

She writes the kind of books that make you want to read them out loud to your husband, or your friends, or someone who can laugh with you– someone other than a 2 month old baby who doesn’t share in your gut splitting amusement.  They are just too funny not to share.  She’s raw, and walks the edge, and doesn’t sugar coat things.  She uses some profanity, and she’s no holds barred in that she is an equal opportunity offender, and not only is her family not exempt from being included in her books, she makes fun of herself.  Often.  Hence the title of the book.  She’s often the butt of her own jokes, and I love that about her.  She pokes fun at mostly pop culture trends and headlines, most of which are out of the proverbial spotlight faster than you can say “There goes their five minutes of fame”, and while many of the topics were no longer socially relevant by the time this book went to print, they are nonetheless fun to laugh about, even after the fact.

 

I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy Celia’s book if you:

–  Loathe being asked for every bit of your personal identifying information, just short of a DNA sample, to check out at Sephora.

–  Have ever been accosted by salespeople running live infomercials at the mall kiosks.

–  Get a kick out of science fair parents, or, as I like to call them, “Parents who base their own self worth on their children’s achievements”.

–  Find that the word “asshat” describes so many, many people in an incredibly profound way, but without being terribly vile.

–  Think that politics, and government agencies, are always fair game for satire, if not only because if you don’t allow yourself to laugh at the travesty that defines our collective elected officials across all party lines, you would surely have to lock yourselves in your room and give in to permanent depression and social exile.

–  Can’t help but at least pause when you come across another trash reality TV show when flipping through channels.

–  Appreciate Southern recipes (she tosses some of her family’s tried and true goodies in each book at the end of a few chapters).

–  Would absolutely and without a doubt click a yahoo article headline telling about someone being cited for shaving while driving.

–  Own a Snuggie… and use it.

This book is an easy read.  The chapters are short, giving you have lots of logical stopping points if you get distracted by your husband, or your kids, or your bladder, and when you are able to come back to it later, you won’t have to reread pages to catch back up (although, if you enjoy it as much as I did, you’ll want to, simply to get a few extra laughs).   It will make you laugh.  It may even make you snort.  And I’m pretty sure you’ll want to go out and grab another one of her books when you’re finished.  You won’t want to be done with Celia Rivenbark.

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Pineapple Summer Salad

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This dish will get you an invite to everyone’s summer cookout!

It might sound strange at first: Strawberry Pretzel Salad.  But it is so good.  My Grandma makes a version of this that doesn’t have a cream cheese layer like this version, from Rebecca Crump at Ezra Pound Cake.  The cream cheese layer takes this dish over the top.  Does the inclusion of strawberries and pineapple qualify this dish as a side of fruit, rather than a dessert?  Hmmm…

Rebecca’s recipe uses all of the good stuff: butter, sugar, pretzels, cream cheese, cool whip, strawberry gelatin, frozen strawberries, crushed pineapple, and whipped cream.   Holy goodness.  (And speaking of Rebecca, her website has an amazing recipe index, including everything from crab dip and hot chocolate to sweet tea and couscous.  She also has easy to follow recipes for several classic cocktails.)  I modified Rebecca’s recipe to use generic Splenda, which measures 1:1 with sugar in baking recipes.

Here’s what I did to make Strawberry Pineapple Pretzel Salad (recipe from Rebecca Crumb at Ezra Pound Cake):

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish (I used real butter).

Make your crust.  Start by mixing 2 cups crushed pretzels (I added a cup at a time into a zip lock freezer bag, and pounded it with a cooking mallet to get the pieces nice and small without turning them into fine crumbs), 3/4 cups melted butter, and 3 tablespoons (generic) splenda in a bowl to coat all of the pieces evenly.  Then press the mixture into the bottom of the greased pan, and bake in preheated oven for 7 minutes.

Set your crust aside to cool.

While your crust is cooling, mix your cream cheese layer.  Combine 8 ounces of whipped cream cheese, and 3/4 cup of splenda, and whip until smooth.  Then fold in 8 ounces of Cool Whip (or, in my case, generic whipped topping).

Once the crust is cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture over your cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to evenly chill. 

Combine 2- 3 ounce packages of sugar free strawberry gelatin with 2 cups of boiling water.  Stir to dissolve the gelatin, and let sit for 5 minutes to cool.  Add 2- 10 ounce packages of frozen strawberries and 8 ounces of crushed pineapple, and gently combine.  Then pour the fruit and gelatin mixture over your chilled cream cheese layer.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until serving time.

Look at this baby.  Nice and frosty and delicious.

I took Rebecca’s advice and serve it with whipped cream on top.

It was a hit with my taste tester, so I made it again for a cook out, where it was gone in a matter of minutes.  People loved this stuff.

It does take some advanced planning, since you have to chill it for a few hours, but it’s so easy that it’s worth planning ahead.

This would be a great recipe to keep on hand if you freeze fresh strawberries when you can’t eat them fast enough.  It’s fatty, and rich, and sweet and salty.  Perfect combination.

And there’s fruit.  It’s got to count as a serving of fruit…

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What’s your favorite dish to share at a cook out or summer party?