Glass ‘O Green Stuff

green juice 3

I’m a big drinker.  Yup.  I love to drink stuff of all kinds.  I’m a  fruit smoothy lover and have been poking fun at my girlfriend, Noeleen, for drinking what appears to be a daily thermos of blended grass for a long time.

To shut me up she brought me some to sample (finally took the hint!) and I thought I’d share her concoction with the world–or at least my little corner of it.   I know you can drink green leafy thingies, and have done so before.  I must admit, however, that it is a bit odd to look at some fresh greens and think…

green juice 1

..I am going to drink this.  Weird, I say.

This glass ‘o green stuff, my friends, is darn tasty I will attest.  And I don’t mean that in a “I eat so much healthy food that my taste buds have morphed into a state where even weird things taste good.”   I am not one of those “dark side” kinda folks.  Promise.   Really

Noeleen’s Glass ‘O Green Stuff (which I modified and still enjoyed–see my version, below)

Ingredients:
1 cup juiced pineapple (if that’s too intense trader joes has 100% pure pineapple juice;)
you can also substitute the juice for water…it still tastes great!)
1 Granny Smith
1 handful of spinach
1 handful of kale
1 handful of frozen pineapple.
Directions:
cube the apple and put in blender with water or juice.
blend the heck out of it;)
add the spinach & kale
add the frozen pineapple
enjoy:)
Michelle’s version (aka: I didn’t have exactly what Noeleen described so I took a few liberties… so unlike me.)
Ingredients:
handful spinach
1 handful kale
few big scoops of apple sauce (I had bought a Granny Smith apple for just this purpose, but Mike found it in the fruit bowl before I got to it!)
can of pineapple including juice
few ice cubes
Directions: (and here’s a pre-blending photo for your viewing pleasure)
green juice 2
Blend the heck out of it and drink!
Tips: I think the key is the pineapple in one form or another.  It has such a sweet and tangy flavor that it can work with, well, some green leafy stuff that you wouldn’t likely consider drinking in the first place!  The apple, whether fresh or as a sauce, provides some added sweetness of course.  I think strawberries would work well.  Wouldn’t go for melon, though, as I think it would be too mild.  I mean, we are drinking kale here; you need some power behind it!
While Noeleen’s kids love this beverage, mine were–surprisingly–not so enthused.  For me though, I like to make one of these a couple times a week and keep it in the fridge.  I can grab a glass here or there and know I’m getting some quick and good nutrition for a girl on the go.
Some final nutritional notes on kale (aka: the Queen of greens!)…
Kale is high in fiber and contains no fat.  Kale is high in iron, vitamin A, C and K, is loaded with calcium and is filled with powerful antioxidants.  It is an anti-inflamatory food that also supports good cardiovascular health.
That’s a lot of bang from a small little green guy.  Hope you enjoy this tasty and healthy recipe!

Watching Tomatoes Grow…

ripe tomatoes

A few weeks back I shared a photo of our tiny green tomatoes just beginning to make their appearance on the vine.  What a difference a few weeks of sunshine makes.  In case the former image of my tomato plants isn’t burned into your memory, here are our little beauties from last month:

tomatoes

What were once hard, pale little buds of life, are now sweet, bright bursting little treats that we walk by, pick off and pop in.  There is nothing–OK, seriously, nothing–quite like a perfectly ripe home-grown tomato, still warm from the sunshine in my smiling mouth.  Ahhh…

Despite my type-A efforts to kick off summer with a BANG, due to some factors beyond my control we’ve been keeping a steadily sultry (and admittedly unproductive) pace these past two weeks.  It took me a while to recognize that the universe was telling me to chill the heck out; a request to which I have now surrendered my will.  I guess this is what my family and I need right now, and I as I am hardly one to argue with the universe, we shall go with it.

As this school year came to an end, we–OK… I was more tired than I thought.  Rather than start on my grandiose first draft of the book I’m dying to write, rather than rearrange the wall of photos I’ve been meaning to tackle, rather than redoing some of the details of my recipe pages on this blog, I have, uh, taken two naps this week while my kids watched TV. 🙂 I have also walked every morning at 6:15 for the past 10 days straight with two girlfriends.

I have touched up my roots.

I have pet my dog.

I have savored a perfect nectarine.  Alone.  While the house is still quiet.

I have added a touch of vanilla to my cup of coffee in the morning while I take a moment to breathe.

I have watched my tomatoes grow.

 

Rub-a-dub… RIBS!

ribs with slaw

OK, so I don’t know about your husband, but there’s something about Father’s Day that brings out Mike’s inner cave man.  And when I say “inner cave man” I am referring to the innate, undeniable desire for a big ‘ol piece of meat on his plate for dinner.

We eat meat.  I like it too.  I’m just sayin’ that it seems like guys like it a whole lot more than we do.

Funny enough, although I’m not a big meat eater, when I do eat meat, I really prefer it on the bone.  Cooking meat on the bone always yields more flavor; any foodie can tell you that.  But I like the bone there too.  Can’t really explain it but there you go.

Over the past few months I’ve been checking out some fun Southern Foodie blogs and playing around with different rub situations.  There are many ways to make tasty meat rubs that include everything from coffee grounds and dry mustard, to celery salt and paprika.  ‘Round here we have agreed that the one I’m posting today is a real winner in the taste department, and I love it because all the ingredients are likely in everyone’s cupboard already (or, if not, they’re not so exotic that they’ll go untouched after you whip up these babies.)

As a Midwestern transplant to the west coast, I will admit to having a very limited rib background.  My journey thus far have taught me a few things: First off, the key to yum-ola ribs is definitely slow cooking them on a low heat.  Smoking them over hickory and coals would likely be ideal, but I hardly have the time–or, let’s face it, the inclination–for that kind of rib action.  My oven does the trick just fine.  Secondly, rubs ROCK.  I really love the voodoo they do to ribs and other meats too.  You can use today’s recipe on  chicken, a pork roast, etc…

So as we are not even close to getting into a summer groove yet, allow me to get right to the point and back to a bunch of tasks that, for whatever reason, have yet to be completed in my home.

Michelle’s Caveman Ribs (These are super easy to prepare, but they do need 3 1/2 hours to cook.)

Ingredients: (which, by the way, I do not actually measure.  Big shocker, I know.)  your basic rack of pork ribs–3 or so pounds, 1/2 cup loosely packed cup of brown sugar, 1 tbsp. chili powder, 1 tbsp. oregano, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1-2 tsp. cayenne, few healthy shakes of salt and black pepper.

Directions: grab yerself a cookie sheet.  Place a piece of aluminum foil on it.  Pat rack of ribs quick-dry with a paper towel.  Spread/pat rub on both sides of the ribs and place them on the foil.  Sprinkle any last rub on top with the “u” shape up so that all that yummy stuff can rest there and turn into a de-lish glaze when all is said and done.  Should look something like this:

pre cooked ribs

Wrap the foil around the ribs and cook all cozied up like that at 250 for 2 hours.  Then open foil up and cook like that for another hour and a half.  When they’re done they will look something like this:

cooked ribs

And they will taste like heaven.  At least I hope they have these in heaven…

I recently served my ribs up with some cole slaw, as pictured above (see my recipe under salads) which was pretty much the tastiest dang combination we’ve had in a while.  Cave man happy = good Father’s Day.

Play around with your rub.  It’s cool and very “in” right now!  Try things like onion salt, cumin, celery salt, paprika, chipotle powder… Hope you enjoy!

 

Beauty and the Beasties… Michelle’s Fruit Crisp!

nectarine

(keep reading for a great summer fruit dessert recipe below!)

Beautiful.  And funny looking–just like nature intended.  Perfectly ripe white nectarines make my mouth and heart smile.

All the stone fruits are in coming into season at my local farmer’s market.  White nectarines are my personal fave right now.  They taste milder than yellow nectarines, but–and at the risk of sounding like a cheesy poet–I appreciate their more delicate and subtle taste.  There.  I said it.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to hit a farmer’s market on a weekly basis, but if you enjoy good fruit, I highly recommend hitting one at least once this summer.  In Southern California, in the summer, you will not be disappointed with this experience.  (If you are please let me know and so that I may rethink my entire existence.)

Prices for stone fruits right now range from 2.00-2.50/lb. which is not much different from the regular market.  You can also find the “seconds” bins where the less attractive fruits find a place to rest before being snatched up for, often, 80 cents a pound!

80 cents a pound right now bought me a whole slew of some “beasties,” aka: not so purty apricots.  No problemo.  Josie and I made our absolute favorite summer dessert, which we have aptly titled cheap fruit crisp.

Cheap Fruit Crisp (as the name implies, this can be made with a variety of stone fruits.  This time was apricots.)

Ingredients: 3 cups apricots, diced, 1/4 cup cup flour, 2-3 tbsp. sugar, few healthy shakes cinnamon, 1 cup raw oats, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, few pads of butter

Directions: toss the fruit with flour, cinnamon and sugar.  Spread in a baking dish like this:

fruit crisp step 2

Sprinkle oats, then brown sugar on top.  Add a few pads of butter like this:

fruit crisp step 3

Bake at 350 for 30 or so minutes, or until fruit is cooked to your liking.  When it’s done it should look divine (like this:)

fruit crisp baked

Tips: We love our cheap-fruit crisp served fresh and warm with a scoop of ice-cream on top.  Not only did this whole entire delicious concoction cost me, like, less than 4 bucks to make (no joke)… it’s also much healthier than a pie or cobbler which contains all that yummy–and fattening–crust.  Took about 10 minutes to whip it up and clean up too.  Great with apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines… buy the cheap ones with bad spots.  Why not?

If you’re trying to make use of bland fruit, add a splash of lemon juice to the first step.

Final tip: Near the end of the summer, I like to make one of these and put it way back in my extra freezer.  Then, when fall is in full swing and we begin to miss our sweet stone fruits, I toss the crisp in the oven and wah-lah!  A summer memory ready to gobble up!

Josie helped me record the recipe… Of course I generally eye-ball everything, but for the purposes of spreadin’ the love, we thought we’d better write it down.

Josie's fruit crisp recipe

My Friend, Bruschetta

bruschetta

OK, so I’m just gonna come out and say it: Bruschetta is the best salad in the world.  Yup.  WORLD.

Don’t get me wrong, I need variety in my diet and absolutely adore other salads (cole slaw, for example) but, honestly, if I had to eat one salad for the rest of my life, (a strange  scenario, but just go with it) I would–hands down–choose bruschetta.

I love the simplicity of this dish.  6 little ingredients that come together in the easiest way to create a sensory experience that appeals to the eyes, nose and mouth.  I can seriously smell the basil and garlic in that photo above.  And the ripeness of the tomatoes coupled with the malty vibrancy of the balsamic vinegar… oh my…

On a hot summer’s night when the thought of turning on the oven or standing over the grill makes me wilt, sometimes I make just this for dinner.  With fresh fruit for dessert and (who are we kidding?) a nice glass of wine… well, that’s kind of a complete meal, right?  At our house: yes.

Michelle’s Bruschetta (pronounced “Broo-skeh-tah”)

Ingredients (quantities are approximate–I eyeball it every time): 5-6 good sized ripe tomatoes, handful of fresh basil, 1 large clove garlic, 1 rounded tsp. salt, 3 tbsp. decent balsamic vinegar (I like Costco’s Kirkland brand, actually), 3 tbsp. olive oil.

Directions: dice tomatoes, chop basil (stems can go in too as long as they’re not too “stalky,”) press garlic and throw everything together in a bowl.  Mix and let sit for a few hours if possible.  That’s it, baby!

Serve on sliced pieces of french baguette.  If you’re feeling super fancy, you can broil the pieces of bread with a drizzle of olive oil for a couple of minutes each side so they get toasty and won’t get soggy with the bruschetta on top.  If you’re not fancy today (and it’s OK, I won’t judge you); slice the bread and there you go.

Tips: Tomatoes need to be ripe and pretty much any kind will do.  Basil can be droopy or even at that “just before it goes off” stage and still work just fine.  Even if you’re a garlic lover like me, use only one clove per 6 tomatoes as I suggest above.  The vinegar and tomato juice will amplify the garlic as it sits.

I make this salad a lot, take it to various summer potluck gatherings and it has never-ever-ever failed to impress.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

Final Countdown

brownie

Wow.  If Jen Hatmaker is hangin’ on by a thread, then I’m clinging to a thread’s molecule right now.  I.  AM.  COOKED.  I.  AM.  FRIED.  You can put a fork in me, cuz I is dun.

It is Monday afternoon and I’m finally posting my Monday thoughts for the week that I have religiously gotten to every Monday before 9:00 am (OK, 10:00) for the past six months–even when I was on my imagined deathbed back in March.  But sometimes, when you are the mother of three kids under the age of nine, there are factors which lie out of your type-A personality control.  I am OK with this.  Mostly.

Hopefully I can get this done before 9:00 pm.  People, this is just where I’m at today.

Three days.  Three more days till the end of the school year.  In that time I will have the pleasure–and when I look back on this it will be a pleasure–to attend a kindergarten performance and potluck breakfast, a third grade potluck  park-picnic/performance and and second grade–say it with me: potluck party.  Oh, and I am in charge of the birthday treats for the June babies (Rhea is turning nine this month) at said third grade picnic.  Sometimes I think about being bored and how nice that might be.  Do you?

I’m making a delicious egg dish for Grayson’s breakfast, which I will post later this week.  I haven’t a clue what I’m making for Josie’s party, but I don’t have to worry about that for another 24 hours, so it’s not even crackin’ the top 10 on my to-do list yet.  For the third grade birthday celebration I’m going all out.  Well, “all out” for how motivated I’m feeling right now at least.

I’m too cheap to buy store-bought-mountain-high-frosting cupcakes for 27 dollars, so I’m making my famous brownies.  They are so famous they even have a special name.  It’s called: Ghiradelli! 🙂

brownie box

The box is featured next a pile of notebooks, folders and other random academic support materials that keep coming home, day after day, by the backpack full.    There is no counter space left to get a clear shot without them and I can’t find a shovel big enough to sift through it all at the moment.  Like I said: this is where I’m at today.

Yes-sir-ee bob these delectable delights have all my favorite ingredients; things that make one proud to feed one’s family: You got your thiamon mononitrate (who doesn’t love that?) and your artificial flavor (my mouth is watering already!)  And my personal favorite: “canola or soybean oil.”  OR!!??  What the heck?

Yes, well, strugglers shan’t be picky, or something like that.  These brownies will be yummy and that is all I care about at the moment.  Really.  I don’t care about anything else.

I do have a tricky little brownie enhancing secret that I will now share with you: Add a tsp. of vanilla to the mix and then consider tossing in some extra sweet stuff.  We made three batches of brownies this afternoon.  One with white chocolate chips (pictured above), one with regular chips and one with M&M’s.  Practically gourmet by my standards at the moment and certainly snazzy enough to satisfy a pack of hungry and festive third graders tomorrow.

For some reason I have a nagging suspicion that addition to the assorted potluck party endeavors I am facing over the next few days, my family would also like meals at home, some clean clothes to wear, and a moderately clean house.

Some people are so demanding.