Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts


keep on truckin'

I need to get my groove going.  I feel like it's slooowly happening, but I want it now.  N.O.W. New house, new schedules, new munchkin activities, new responsibilities.  We still aren't unpacked from the move, and I'm not sure when that might actually happen.   BigDaddy is in season so making breakfast for dinner, again, is an option.  My meal plans are barely getting made, much less followed.  Back to school, with our additional post-move duties, is throwing me for a loop.  Doesn't this all sound familiar? ;)  Like last year-at-this-time familiar?

But I also know this too shall pass.  At some point, maybe late Fall, we will be more settled into our house, have our routine down, and be a semi well-oiled machine. And that's okay.  At some point we WILL get there. or not. But I haven't been blogging, haven't been working out, haven't been doing much planning in general.  So this is my feeble attempt to get the ball rolling...

Back to School came and went without a hitch. Nothing like last year's beyond embarrassing sob-fest at Kinder Open House or first day sniffles after the bus left.  I knew BigBoy was excited to get back to school and I was in heaven with his teacher and class.  All good fuzzy feelings.  Sassy started preschool this past week and this Mama has three whole munchkin-free mornings, which will soon be totally filled up with errands and volunteering and fund-raising planning.... but get this. I miss them.  It's the Mom double-edged sword.  You can't wait to have some free time and then you feel all weird cuz your shadows are missing.  Don't even get me started about next year when Sassy is jumping on that school bus with Bigboy-- I can already feel the waterworks are swelling up.

I worked out yesterday, one of my super easy, beginner videos.  But I did it.  I took the first step and struggled through it with my pitiful self.  I even hopped on Mr. Snarky and logged into wii fit.  Even after our eatingpalooza from camp, moving, and vacay, I'm down a bit!  I'll take it! But I'm uncomfortable in my own skin right now.  When I'm grabbing the comfy yoga/gaucho pants as soon as they are clean, I know I'm due for a change. 

I also have some updates to blog about.  Remember when I was on my Know Your Farmer Tour and I committed to buying better, local food? I am proud to say I am now the owner of an upright freezer filled with Polyface beef, chicken and a turkey.  I'm putting my money where my mouth is!  Now that we are home, I'm visiting our favorite farm stand again and I love it.  I'm just sad that it feels like we missed most of the summer season. We still have apples to pick. can. not. wait. but Fall just isn't the same for yummy fresh produce.

So there you have it, my blog brain dump.  I'm hoping to get on here more regularly, I feel better when I do and my mama brain feels a bit more useful.  Ta ta for now.


We know our farmers.

Me and my peeps!
I'm not sure how I can top the great day we had on Monday!  BigDaddy came home the night before he was due to surprise me for our anniversary. (fyi: surprise visit in the middle of the night = wife heart attack) But sweet nonetheless.

I had planned to take the kids to one of my Happy Places with some friends.  Polyface Farm.  If you are learning about the Slow Food Movement, saw Food Inc, read Omnivores Dilemma or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, you've crossed paths with Polyface.  The Salatins (And Wendy, their PR Queen) are so friendly and I just love visiting.  We went there on one of our "homeschool field trips" last fall and wanted to return in the spring/early summer to try and catch some baby animals.  Since BigDaddy came home early, we got to go as a family. Hooray!

It's vital for kids to learn where food comes from, and the difference between feeding your body junk and good, nutritious food. I won't lie and say we eat healthy all the time, but I do try to follow an 80/20 rule of good vs. junk.  And we are in the process of eating better and better each day.  It's a slow, on-going process, but a process of moving in the right direction.  When the munchkins know we are eating a steak, they know it's from a cow-- not just the meat section in the grocery store.  They know what vegetables look like, even if they know they don't like them.  We try to reinforce the the source of our food, be it an animal or a plant.  I want them excited about food, and knowledgeable about food.  I still cringe at Jamie Oliver's food quiz in an elementary class where the kids didn't know what  vegetables looked like.

One of my farmers! Me and Joel Salatin from last Novemeber.
So back to our day. After frolicking about the farm with baby bunnies and chicks, we grabbed our lunches and I met the crew at Polyface and learned all about ordering.  Yep, you heard me, ORDERING.  I mentioned we were upping our game.  I'm not sure what or how much or how this is going to work, but I got the form, talked to Daniel (Joel Salatin's son) and told them I'm ordering.  Now my food not only has a face (and a happy one at that), but a farmer. He knows me. Knows my name and he knows I'm supposed to make this step.  Creating some peer pressure for myself will force me to eat better.  Lame, I know.  But when other people know what I'm up to, I'm accountable, not only to you, My Loyal Seven, but to my farmer too.

I highly encourage you to meet someone, anyone, in your area that you can buy a food product from.  The Farmers' Market.  A local farm.  A U-Pick berry patch.  Find out about the person behind the product.  I'm embarking on a Know Your Farmer Tour with a friend. Challenging ourselves to not only buy local, eat organic when possible, but to also talk to the farmers whose hard work created what we get to eat.  So get out there, Loyal Seven, and talk to some farmers!  Tell me about it after your done.  Gimme names, products, locations...


Spring Pickins

Sassy Sous-Chef
This is one of my favorite food times of the year.  Everyone is getting excited and planing their gardens, farmer's markets are open again, road side produce stands are back and fresh strawberries are ready for the pickin!  I loove fresh, ripe strawberries and we are lucky enough to have a local, patch about 10 minutes away from us.  I snuck away for a little Me-Time last week while the munchkins were both in school and managed to pick just over 12 pounds.  Nothing crazy, but enough that I needed to find something else to do with them in addition to eating them non-stop.  I started feeling a little like Bubba from Forest Gump. Fresh strawberries... frozen strawberries... strawberry banana muffins... strawberry panzanella... strawberry jam... strawberry smoothies...strawberry pancakes...

Being in the Kinda Country offers us quite a few of Pick-Your-Own options, but this patch, Hilberts {Nazarene Church Road, west of Dayton, VA,(540) 879-2595}, is also spray free-- not the norm.  This is my second season visiting and I will return every spring.  I love that is so close and I love getting to know our area farmers.  Last year BigBoy was covered from head to toe in mud and Farmer Gary hosed him off for me. This year he said he wished he had a long sleeve shirt to give me cause my arms were allergic to something in the patch.  Real People and Real Food.  Can it get any better than that?

As Farmer Gary rang me up, we chatted about spraying techniques and he told me about his friend who transports tomatoes and strawberries up from Florida.  The friend told him how he is in charge of ripening them up before they get to Costco, Walmart, Kroger, etc.  The fruit gets picked green and they get gassed along the way at various points to ensure they get ripe just in time for unloading. um, yum?  I gave him a big Thank You for providing us with a spray- free patch and let him know how much we appreciate it.  I brought my loot home and couldn't keep Sassy out of the fridge.  She figured out that since I picked them, she didn't need me to worry about washing them (it had just rained- prewashed!), and she was grabbing strawberries all. day. long.

The strawberries were amazing, ruby red and sooo sweet.  None of us could really stop eating them.  I ended up freezing most of them and I made one batch of strawberry banana muffins, one of my favorites. I briefly thought about making Strawberry Panzanella again. but eating an entire dish like this (which I would totally do) probably isn't the smartest thing to do pre-summer.  I'm going back later this week to pick some more and hope to do a batch of strawberry ice cream. YUUUUUUM!

I tweaked the recipe since the berries were so sweet already.  I almost always cut back on the amount of sugar, but for this I subbed out some of the butter, and subbed some regular flour for whole wheat.  I made a batch each way and couldn't tell the difference by much.  The munchkins gave them four thumbs up, so it's a keeper!  You could also play around with using molasses in place of the sugar or agave nectar.  I used molasses last year when I was obsessed with molasses, and they were super tasty, but totally spaced on it this time around.  What do you like to do with strawberries?  Any recipes to share??

Strawberry Banana Muffins (adapted from

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened, organic applesauce
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Position rack in center of oven.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease with butter or a vegetable spray.

In a small saucepan melt the butter.  Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the brown sugar, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana. Add the melted butter to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine.   

In another large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in the berries, making sure they are coated with flour. This helps to prevent the berries from sinking during baking. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12 regular sized muffins


Meal Planning Monday 5/24

Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad. yuuum!
Last week I gave you our summer meal plan template so I thought I'd follow up with my actual plan for the next two weeks.  We're moving yet again, in about 6 weeks (more on that later!) so I really want to use up what we already have on hand in the freezer.  If you are new to meal planning, step 1 is to shop in your freezer and pantry.  See what you already have to work with, then from there you can check out sales and fill in your blanks.  Right now, I've been so spacey and our schedule has gotten all wonky, that I haven't been using coupons/sales at all.  But that's okay, MamaBear's brain can only handle so much.  And Grey's season finale kinda fried what little space I had!  Crazy episode! Weren't you just on edge?!? Meredith is so bad ass I love it...And Cristina! Holla! What was I talking about again? Oh meal planning...

So to keep it real for The Loyal Seven, and to keep me accountable, here you go.  Is this not the most boring blog post evah? gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Monday (Meatless)--
Crock Pot Split Pea Soup fresh homemade bread, and watermelon. I'm cheating a little and tossing in hamhocks and I'll probably use chicken broth instead of plain water.  I need to use the hocks up from the freezer.  
Beans, rice and cheese.  tortillas and fruit.  I swear the munchkins could eat this every night. simple and yummy!

Tuesday (Pasta)
Turkey Bolognese w/ spinach salad. double batch to have dinner ready another week.
Dinner at KCBFF's!

Wednesday (Fish)
fish tacos, beans and/or rice, applesauce.  Most likely I'll bake the fish instead of frying though. 
Baked wild Salmon, lemon quinoa salad.

Thursday (Meat Dish)
Sassy has her preschool dinner picnic.  Need to figure out what I'm bringing...
Boardwalk Italian Beef Sandwiches, green salad.

Friday (Pizza)
30 min. dough, BBQ chicken and Pepperoni/Olive  Need side. both weeks.

Saturday (open)
Baked wings, veggies and dip.  I have a ton of frozen, organic wings that I got on cheapy cheap, but I'm not sure what to do with them.  Any ideas or recipes??
Turkey burgers based on this recipe.  Need side.

Sunday (Poultry)
Crock pot turkey legs, mashed potatoes
Crock pot "roasted" whole, organic chicken.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program with tales of gashing my forehead and sparkly vampire love.


Summer meal plan, take 1

Somehow I missed Spring.  We were in an allergy infested stupor and now we've been seeing hot and humid.  when we got back from our NYC trip, it was in the 80s. at night. hot, sticky and just plain ol' icky.  Time to start meal planning again, and time to switch to our lighter, summer (no oven if possible) recipes.  I can 't use my old stand-bys of soup and chili. What's an overwhelmed, not really into cooking right now, momma to do?  Plan. Boooo! I know. Boring, but it really does help you stop staring into the fridge at 5 and wondering what to make.  So, I've come up with a general template for us and I'm going to go from there.  We've changed our habits again, so some of my old faithfuls have been tossed out.  I decided to have my template and use the meals that we gravitate towards anyway.  Then I can build from there. 

Barbie Oven.  That's a reg. sized cookie sheet. nice, huh?
So Summer Meal Plan, Take 1:

Sunday:  crockpot roasted chicken or chicken soup (or um... Fried Chicken from IGA in a pinch)

Monday: Meatless- smoothies and eggs/ burritos/ beans, rice and cheese/ grilled cheese/big salad/eggplant Parmesan try: Falafel and Cucumber Sauce

Tuesday: Pasta- turkey Bolognese/ chicken spaghetti/ creamy sausage, kale, ( I also add beans)/ kid pasta/ mac & cheese/Pasta "garbage" Salad (toss everything that needs to get eaten into the bowl!)

Wednesday: Fish- wild Salmon patties (from Costco) /stir fry/tilapia in pimento sauce/tacos/BBQ-baked

Thursday: Meat- crockpot/WW parmesan turkey meatloaf/turkey burgers/beef broccoli

Friday: Pizza try: 30 min. dough

Saturday: Grill out/New recipe/leftovers

Cous cous
Bean salad
Veggies and dip
Fresh fruit
Brown rice

Bread- wheat and French
Pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Brown rice

I would love for you to comment with suggestions for recipes or commit to doing a meal plan if you haven't before.  Even if you just commit to doing one more homemade meal per week, you are taking a step in the right direction. I'm also trying not to use any convenience items (season packets, processed foods, etc).  Also, our Barbie Oven takes forever to heat up and then the kitchen is roasting (have I mentioned we don't have any a/c yet.  And when we do, it's only a window unit) so I want to keep it to a minimum.  Oh yeah, and our microwave broke.  Actually  really.  flames shooting out the inside wall. I can't make this stuff up.  The toaster oven has been my BFF lately.  And my beloved new non-stick pan--- I'll tell you all about this later this week. It rocks my world.  Yes, a non-stick pan.  who knew??

BTW, I keep most of my recipes online at under sassyaztec if anyone is interested.  Go here to see


panzanella = evil (tasty, delicious, evil)

I'm in strawberry heaven. or hell depending on how you look at it. I prepped all the berries from last week's strawberry pickin' and made the goods. strawberry muffins. strawberry-banana oatmeal cups. strawberry syrup. strawberry ice cream. strawberry pancakes. strawberry panzanella. I'm all Strawberry Bubba-Gumped out.

I was in strawberry bliss. Now I'm just taunted by strawberry goodness that will NOT help my bathing suit challenge. Froze all the extras (lots!) and now they are all calling my name. Mocking me. And the panzanella. OH the panzanella. Seriously to. die. for. I ate some last night for dessert okay, okay for a mid-day snack. And dinner. And breakfast today! Don't judge! And it was divine. Think country style croutons but SWEET and loaded butter and brown sugar and a little cinnamon with tons of fruity spots and chunks of fresh berries, topped with creamy Greek yogurt. I even drizzled local raw honey on top. cuz I could.

Am I seriously dreaming of strawberries and farm eggs. really? Is this what inner peace is? Strawberry and bug fed, happy chicken eggs. I'm in a food coma. But not the tryptophan Thanksgiving bloated type food coma. I'm in a food coma of utter amazement. Food really tastes THIS different? Yes. Fresh berries, picked in the cool morning after (and during rain) and farm fresh eggs from one town over. It just makes my belly happy.

I just know BigDaddy is sick of my detailing the beauty of our farms eggs. The colors! The sizes! The shapes! Look at the two different types of whites! And the yoke! Have you ever seen such an ORANGE yoke! Look at it!! Perfect! I'm becoming the Crazy Egg Lady aren't I? The Crazy Egg Lady who eats Strawberry Panzanella all day long.

Because I'm a giver, here are my two favorite strawberry recipes:

Strawberry Muffins from Stoneyfield Farms

I opened the lid on our yogurt container and viola! A recipe stared me down. The Yogurt Strawberry Gods spoke to me. Make muffins! Maaaaake muuuuuffins! So I did. And they rocked. I also substituted molasses (I think I used 1/4 cup) for the sugar and they came out a nice dark brown. Big hit with BigBoy.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup Stonyfield lowfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped strawberries
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 12 muffin tin or line it with paper baking cups. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and baking soda. In another bowl, stir together eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla until blended. Toss the strawberries with the flour mixture.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until the flour is just moistened. The batter will be lumpy. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
12 muffins
Nutrition Facts
(1 muffin) Calories 160; Fat Calories 45; Total Fat 5g; Carbohydrate 25g; Protein 5g; Fiber 3g

And then the Panzanella.... sweet child o' mine:

Strawberry Panzanella from 101 Cookbooks.

Panzanella is usually a savory bread salad, so this is a great twist and comes out like a yummy shortcake/breadpudding type dish. I omitted the
poppy seeds and added a little drizzle of honey. D'lish!

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons natural cane sugar OR brown sugar*
couple pinches of fine grain salt
1 pound loaf of hearty, substantial day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1+ pint basket of ripe strawberries, trimmed and cut into matchsticks
a 7 or 8 ounce container of plain (Greek) yogurt
poppy seeds for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. In a large pot melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves and remove from the heat. Add bread cubes and toss, coating the bread cubes. Toss for a minute or so to get decent coverage. Pour the bread out onto a baking sheet and arrange them in a single layer. Toast for about 15 minutes or until bread is well toasted, tossing every 5 minutes to make sure all bread surface areas get golden and crunchy.
In the meantime, place half the chopped strawberries in a small bowl and mash them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. I found a potato masher works well for this. Keep mashing until berries are super juicy and appetizingly chunky - this is your dressing.
When the bread cubes are done toasting (and have had a few minutes to cool and crisp up), toss them in a big bowl with the mashed berries. Add the remaining chopped strawberries and toss a bit more. Give the yogurt a good stir, and serve on the side garnished with poppy seeds (feel free to sweeten it a bit to your liking).
Serves 6 or so. Or just one Crazy Egg Lady.


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