Young Coconut Cocktail

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I must confess, I have a coconut problem. I can’t get enough coconut oil, milk, flakes, and water. It’s delicious and so good for you. It’s full of good fats, loaded with electrolytes, and will boost the metabolism. It also removes harmful free radicals to help prevent degenerative disease and premature aging. Need any more reasons to try it? Well, how about the most delicious drink ever? I’m not exaggerating. My husband’s response when he tasted it went like this “Mmmm. MMMMgulpMMMMM!!!” It’s that good.

The first step is opening a young Thai coconut. It takes a little practice and requires a good sharp knife. Obviously, this is not something you want your kids helping with.

First, place the coconut on a good heavy cutting board. Wood is ideal. Slice all around the top of the coconut, removing the white husk till you get down to the hard shell.

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Then, whack your knife around the top till you find a softer spot. You can either smack the knife into this spot or carefully stab the tip in. PLEASE be careful! Pry up the top just like a can. Pour the coconut water into a blender.

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Next, remove the meat. It can vary in color from a slightly purplish grey to pale yellow. The meat may be super soft like jelly or closer to very firm tofu. All are fine. Using the back side of a spoon, get under the edge of the meat and scoop into your blender being careful not to get any of the shell.

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Blend well. It will be pretty thick but so yummy. You could add water to thin it down but my family motto is Water Schmater. However you say that in Latin, I forget. Anyway, the ideal thinner would be spiced rum. Pour desired amount into the empty coconut shell, add the fresh coconut milk and stir. Add a straw and a tiny umbrella if you’re feeling fabulous. Cheers, Dahlings!!

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The Very Best Veggie Noodle Soup

When I was a kid, my Mom made this soup every time one of us didn’t feel well. It’s one of those memories you can taste when you think of it. She did a more traditional version with chicken and white flour noodles. My version is full of fresh vegetables and the noodles are half whole wheat but with the same comforting flavor. I wish I could take a photo of the smell that fills the house when it simmers on the stove.

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Pour 14 cups vegetable broth in a large pot. Add 10 large sliced carrots and 8 stalks celery, sliced. Bring to a simmer, then add 2 Tablespoons dried onion, 2 bay leaves, and one teaspoon each dried thyme, garlic powder and oregano.

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While you’re waiting for the soup to heat, make the noodles. In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups all purp. flour and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Make a well in the center and add 3 large eggs and 5 Tablespoons water.

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Mix and add more water by the Tablespoon if it’s too dry. You want a pliant dough that is slightly sticky. Turn out onto a well floured surface and roll to 1/4 inch thick. Slice into noodles with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. My 4 yr old loves to help with that step and its the perfect job to let him get involved. You really can’t go wrong with the noodles, the size doesn’t have to be uniform. Let the noodles dry slightly for around 15 minutes while the soup simmers.

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Once the vegetables are almost tender bring the soup to a boil, then add the noodles. A bench scraper is handy to have for this part since you don’t want to add the noodles in a giant clump.

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Let the noodles boil for 5 minutes and serve with freshly cracked black pepper. Yummy!

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That’s how he blows on his soup. 🙂

This recipe is so simple and rustic and it can be personalized easily. Sometimes I add chopped parsley or basil, frozen peas or broccoli. And of course, you can use chicken or even tofu.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

Green Chile – Goat Cheese Soup

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I hope everyone had an amazing weekend!  This Saturday we did a little painting in the kitchen, built a massive train track in the living room, and read a few library books. By Sunday we needed to get out of the house so we escaped the city to go for a hike through nearby Solstice Canyon in Malibu.  It’s great to have access to all the restaurants, shopping, and beaches, but we just need to get away from all the people sometimes.  It was nice to get some exercise without the distraction of all the crazy traffic and constant noise.

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The trail was easy for our little guy.  There are a few old houses along the way that were burned in wildfires many years ago, but the road is still there.

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Here’s a tree that wasn’t completely burned and is beginning to grow again.  Southern California is plagued with wildfires and it made me happy to see this promise that life goes on.

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There was plenty to see.  The boy got filthy and sweaty, AKA he had a blast.  For a six mile hike, he was a trooper.

When we got home, I knew I wanted something easy for dinner so I made my Green Chile – Goat Cheese Soup.  Pretty much everything in it is “my favorite thing ever”.  Creamy goat cheese, spicy green chile’s, plenty of garlic and onion make for a very flavorful and simple soup.

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Chop or grate 2 organic onions, 5-8 cloves garlic, and 5 fresh green chile.  Using the grater attachment on a food processor makes it even quicker.  You can substitute canned chile or roasted, or even swap out the NM green chile for Anaheim or Poblano.  In a large pot on med-high heat, saute the veggies in a few tablespoons of olive oil until soft.

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Add 4 grated organic potatoes, 2 chopped corn tortillas, and 6 cups of vegetable broth.

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Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Remove from heat.  Add 1 cup heavy cream and 4 oz. goat cheese (cream cheese would work too if you don’t like goat cheese), 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, and a teaspoon of kosher salt.  Puree in a blender with a tightly fitted lid till smooth and season to taste. Garnish with extra cilantro or lime zest.

Easy and delicious.  It’s one of our favorites and I hope you enjoy the recipe.

P.s. If you don’t use organic onions and potatoes, cut the number in half since conventionally grown are usually bigger.

Green Chile – Goat Cheese Soup

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 organic onions, chopped or grated

5-8 cloves garlic, chopped or grated

5 fresh green chile, seeded, chopped or grated

4 organic potatoes, chopped or grated

2 corn tortillas, chopped

6 cups vegetable broth

4 oz. goat cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over med-high.  Saute onion, garlic, and chile till soft.  Add potatoes, corn tortillas, and vegetable broth.  Bring to boil, then simmer till potatoes are soft.  Remove from heat and add cheese, cream, and cilantro.  Puree until smooth.  Serve garnished with extra cilantro or lime zest.

 

Easy Spice Tin Labels

Today was my little guy’s second day at preschool. I can’t say that I accomplished much but I did finally finish labeling and hanging my spice tins. That’s something, right? I’m really happy with the way it turned out and it’s nice not to be digging through a basket to find what I need.

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First I mounted a metal sheet I found at Home Depot on the pantry door. I found the spice tins here… http://www.containerandpackaging.com/catalog/deep-metal-tins/79/#1,0&0&0&0&0&0&0&79&0&0&list&0&0,1 A little over $30 for 48 tins. Not bad!

Next, I purchased round Avery labels at an office supply store. The Avery website allows you to easily add text and graphics to your labels before you print at home. Simple!

Add small magnets to the back, also from Home Depot. All finished! Some crazy people might even alphabetize which will last for around 5 minutes now that the boy is home from school for the day.

What do you think?

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After that, I didn’t get a whole lot finished. We live in beautiful Los Angeles where the weather is almost always perfect. So nice, most people don’t even have air conditioning. But, there’s always a week every year when it is HOT!! Day 3 of 90 degrees and high humidity. Yuck. So, this is what the rest of my afternoon looked like.

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Not even a smidge of guilt, either. 🙂 Happy Thursday!

 

Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Spirals

Coming up with fun school lunches is not always easy! I was playing around with a few recipes today and came up with these tasty treats. With no added sugar they are perfect for a lunch box. They look and taste like dessert thanks to the pumpkin pie spice and cream cheese but are packed with healthy ingredients to keep your kiddos energized and focused through the day.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

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This photo was an “outtake” but it made me laugh so here you go.  I guess he thought I wouldn’t notice since I had a giant camera in front of my face.  They do smell pretty tempting!!

Sweet Potato Cream Cheese Spirals

2 sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 oz. cream cheese

3 cups whole wheat flour

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup or more water

Set cream cheese out to soften.

Peel then chop potatoes into 1″ pieces.  Coat with olive oil and bake at 400 for 35-45 minutes, till easily mashed.  Rice or mash into a large bowl.  Add flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and water.  Mix well.

Set oven on 350.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out till 1/3″ thick and roughly rectangular.  Spread with cream cheese, leaving an inch at the top uncovered.  Roll up tightly, just like a jelly roll.  Using a sharp knife, slice into 1/2″ spirals and place on non stick baking sheet.  If you are having trouble slicing, you can cover and refrigerate the roll for an hour or so.

Bake spirals for 30  to 35 minutes till lightly golden and toasted.  Cool on racks.

Enjoy!

Mom’s Denver Biscuits

I am so excited to share this recipe!  It’s versatile and crazy delicious.  Besides making killer biscuits, it can be used for deep dish pizza, emapanadas, sopapillas, tortillas, breadsticks, pretty much whatever you can think of and it freezes well.  Enjoy!

Pour 1 qt./4 cups milk (we use rice milk) into a saucepan.  Slowly heat till scalded.  Bubbles should be rolling on the sides and under surface but not boiling.  Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup coconut oil or shortening.  Allow to cool then add 2 Tbs yeast.  Wait a few minutes to let yeast proof, then add 2 tsp each baking powder and salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 8 cups flour.  Stir till mixed or find someone else to do it for you.

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Cover and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.

This is what it will look like in the morning after gently scraping down the sides of the bowl.

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Turn out onto a floured surface and pat into the general shape of a 9 by 13 Pyrex.  Cut into even squares with a knife or pizza cutter.

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Pour a generous amount of olive oil into the glass baking dish.  Coat each biscuit on all sides with the oil in the baking dish and fit them in side by side.

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Allow to rise one hour at room temp.

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Bake at 400 for around 30 minutes and tent with foil if the tops start browning too fast.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family does!

Photo from Aug 29, 2013

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Breakfast sandwiches with Denver Biscuits, Morningstar sausage, eggs and cheddar cheese.  Good morning!

Make Me a Mimosa, Kronk!!!

It’s back to school time! Have your kids started yet? Mine will next Wednesday. As much as I will miss him during the day, I will be glad to have a little me time. One thing I am NOT looking forward to is the hectic rush that most school mornings seem to become, at least at my house. Last year I spent time on a Saturday every month or so preparing healthy, freezable, and mostly car friendly breakfasts that could be heated and served in minutes. I cannot tell you how much this helped us get out the door with a minimum of fuss and his teachers actually thanked me for sending him well fed and not on a sugar high. Have you read the ingredients on cereal boxes? Probably 95% have sugar as one of the top 3 ingredients, “Enjoy your sugar crash, Sweetie!!”.

One of my favorite recipes is Denver Biscuits and I’ll share it with you tomorrow. My family makes them every Thanksgiving and they are delicious! I use the dough for plenty of make ahead recipes like biscuit sandwiches, empanadas, and pizza rolls. It can be rolled out very thin for tortillas or fried for sopapillas. You see why it’s one of my favorites?

One more hint, make extra when you’re cooking dinner. If you already have the food processor out, why not grate potatoes, toss them with flour and bake in the oven for burritos? It takes almost no extra time to scramble some eggs, grate cheese in that warmed up food processor, and roll a few breakfast burritos to freeze. If you are making beans in the crockpot, make extra and throw those in too. If you’re making quinoa, make alot and use the extra for quinoa muffins. Steam extra rice and use it to make delicious and filling rice milk for breakfast smoothies the next day. Spending 10 extra minutes in the evening is not a big deal, but those same 10 minutes can cause grey hairs on school mornings.

Here are just a few make ahead breakfast ideas and if you have some to share, please do!!

Whole grain waffles or pancakes. I make a ton, and freeze them separated with deli wrap (you can buy a huge box at Costco, its even pre cut) in freezer bags. I make savory waffles with cheddar and chopped chives, or cinnamon and berries. If you add plenty of flavor to the ingredients, you don’t even need syrup. Take a few out of the freezer, pop them in the toaster, and go!

Breakfast burritos. Egg and hashbrowns, beans and rice, quinoa and veggies. They can be wrapped in the deli paper I mentioned above and frozen for a quick, hearty breakfast.

Smoothie chunks. This one doesn’t save all that much time but does simplify things. The berries are prewashed and cut and you only need to take one thing out of the fridge. Buy one of the huge tubs of unsweetened yogurt, I love Mountain High or plain greek. Chop up your kids favorite fruits and berries and add them to muffin cups with the yogurt. Cover and freeze, then pop out the frozen yogurt and store in freezer bags. In the morning, throw a few smoothie chunks into the blender with coconut water, that rice milk you made the night before or orange juice. Healthy and delicious breakfast smoothies are always a hit at my house.

Crock pot oatmeal. Before you go to bed put the ingredients for oatmeal in the crockpot. It cooks for around 4 hours and is perfect in the morning! If you have a fancy crockpot, you can set it to come on during the night or if not, use one of those lamp timers. Ah ha!!!! Add dried fruit or nuts, spices, and if desired, stevia or agave nectar for sweetness. How easy is that?

Granola or homemade granola bars. Have you seen how expensive these items are? And read the ingredient labels? Ouch. It’s so easy to make your own and you know exactly what you are feeding your kids. Pinterest has more recipes than you will ever use and I’ll be posting a few soon.

Mom McMuffins. That delicious Denver Biscuit dough? Yep. Make a big pan of muffins one night, serve some with dinner and use the rest for breakfast sandwiches. Scrambled eggs, sliced cheese, sausage patties (we use Morningstar), maybe sliced tomatoes? You can add whatever sounds good, wrap in deli paper and freeze.

The possibilities are endless and if you need some inspiration, check Pinterest! I can’t get over how clever people are.

Cheers to calm mornings and well fed kids!

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