Pumped

There hasn’t been much cookery around these parts lately.

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The extent of meal preparation has involved making banana berry smoothies,  a loaf of peanut butter and jelly’s and eating frozen edamame straight from the bag.

Its been delicious.

But then fall came and smacked me in the face.

And suddenly freezing all of my super ripe bananas for smoothies and banana ice cream seemed irrelevant.

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Pumpkin isn’t allowed in any form until at least September.

A strict rule that I never adhere to.

But now I at least feel less awkward about drinking pumpkin lattes by the half gallon.

Get ready for four months of pumpkin madness.

Starting with butter.

Banana Maple Pumpkin Butter

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BANANA MAPLE PUMPKIN BUTTER

2 very ripe bananas

1   (15 oz.)  can pumpkin puree

1/4 cup maple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food process and puree until smooth.

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Pour into a small pot over medium-low heat and cook for about 30 minutes or until thick.

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Fall is here.  

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GET PUMPED!

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Blue Up

If your belly doesn’t hurt after a day of blueberry picking, you’re doing it wrong.

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It took about an hour to pick six pounds of berries.

It took about 20 minutes until I felt like my stomach was going to explode.

I don’t want to see a blueberry until, well, tomorrow morning when the bloating has gone down and I do it all over again.

The best part of blueberry picking is listening to all of the conversations happening around me.

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Like the young mother taking the opportunity to turn sweet fruit into an even sweeter lesson about primary colors.

“The blue ones! I said the blue ones! Not the purple ones! Put the green ones back. I said put it back!”

Or the girl who found a bush with a “million” berries.

You would have thought she struck gold the way she was gushing.

Or the little lad who squealed excitedly when he “caught” a blueberry.

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Its a quaint little memory that I’ll pack away until February when the only produce in sight is a russet potato.

But for now, I don’t want to see, smell, or even think about fruit, berries, and anything even remotely close to the color blue.

Because once again I’ve Violet Beuregarded myself on blueberries.

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I’ll never learn.

And based on the girth of my stomach following dinner, I have the same problem with peas.

Especially when they’re fresh from the farm and coated in a tangy miso dressing.

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Mayonaise based pea salads are so 1986.

Miso is so summer of 2013.

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You might know miso in it’s more traditional soup form served at Asian restaurants.

But it makes a really great dressing for salads when combined with lemon juice and a little olive oil.

And little else.

What is miso?

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Fermented awesomeness, that’s what.

It’s good for your gut and tastes good too.

Pass the peas, please.

Pea Salad with White Miso Dressing

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1/2 pound shelled, fresh peas

3 tablespoons white miso paste

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 tablespoons of water

1/2 cup chopped herbs (a combination of parsley and dill would be nice)

pepper, to taste

Steam peas until tender but crisp.

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Add miso to a small bowl.

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Add lemon juice, olive oil, and water.

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Whisk to combine.

Pour over peas.

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Add 1/2 cup chopped herbs

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Toss to combine.

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Add pepper, to taste.

Serve chilled.

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PEAS OUT!

Hot Dog

I feel like summer came and just smacked me in the face.

Suddenly I want to do all the summer things.

Ride bikes.

Drink iced coffee from mason jars.

Go treasure hunting at the local flea market

Drink beer from mason jars.

Eat hot dogs.

Teach the (real) dog how to typewriter some corn.

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Nothing goes better with grilled corn than some veggie hot dogs and all the fixin’s.

When we were treasure hunting, we stumbled on some locally made hot and sweet pickles.

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Half the jar immediately made it  into my mouth.

The other half made it into a homemade relish.

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PINEAPPLE PICKLE RELISH

1 cup fresh pineapple

1 cup “hot and sweet” pickles + juice

1 bunch green onion, chopped

Add pineapple, pickles, and green onion to food processor.

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Pulse until all ingredients are chopped very fine. 

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Makes about 1 cup. 

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Here’s to summer and all its

festivities!

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Spring Fling

Guess what showed up at the local orchard this weekend?

For only being the beginning of Spring, these strawberries were as sweet as a summer’s pie.

It seemed wrong to use them in a recipe.

Criminal, even.

When I woke up on Saturday the sun was streaming in through the kitchen window and blades of  fresh, green grass were beginning to break through winter’s barren ground.

It was going to be 50 degrees.

That’s like a heat wave around these parts.

Practically a dream come true.

It had me craving the bright, fruity flavors of spring and summer.

So I washed myself a bowl of super sweet berries and made a frosty dip for them.

ORANGE DREAMSICLE DIP

2 frozen bananas, chopped

1 orange + zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest the orange and set the zest aside.

Peel the orange and chop roughly.

Add the frozen bananas, orange pieces, and vanilla extract to a blender or food processor.

Process until creamy, dreamy, and smooth.

Stir in orange zest.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with fruit.

Or just insert a straw and sip.

When I finally got myself together for an afternoon bike ride, I stepped out into the drive-way to say hello to Mr. Sun.

And then immediately turned around to get my mittens.

Fifty degrees is cold.

My little fling with spring was short lived.

I was a popsicle by the time I got off of my bicycle.

Which is exactly why I enjoyed a hot toddy when I got home.

Nothing helps with muscle recovery like a hot whiskey with lemon.

I’m still trying to recover from the whiskey, though.

HAPPY WEEKEND-ING! 

Rabbit Food

Every year, I do my best to lure the Easter Bunny to my house.

Muffins?

Bunny Butter?

Cocktail?

I thought long and hard about it this year.

Candy just won’t do.

E.B. already carries around baskets full of chocolates, candy, and other sweet treats.

So I knew he wouldn’t want any of those things in return.

No, I had to get him by the bunny ears.

The fastest way to a bunny’s basket is through his stomach.

And this recipe is 14 carrot gold.

Bunny Bait Salad

1 (10 oz.) package matchstick carrots

1 cup diced pineapple (or canned pineapple tid-bits)

1 cup red grapes, halved

1/4 cup ground almonds

2 tablespoons orange marmelade

1 tablespoon walnut oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)

Add carrots, pineapple, grapes, and almonds to large bowl.

Whisk together marmalade and walnut oil.

Tidbit: Walnut oil is pretty expensive. If you can’t find it or  don’t want to pay for it, you can use any neutral flavored oil like canola or grapeseed. 

Pour dressing over the carrots and toss gently to combine.

HAPPY EASTER!

Killer Cereal

You know what I’m really bad at?

A lot of things.

But you know what I’m really, really bad at?

Making decisions.

Oh, not major life decisions.

I knew I wanted to go to college before I even went to full day kindergarten.

I didn’t get cold feet before my wedding because I was more than sure I was ready to be a Mrs.

I put my life savings toward my very first home with hardly a care that I would

potentially have to eat Oodles of Noodles for the next 30 years.

Life might actually be easier if I was forced to eat Oodles of Noodles for the duration of my home loan.

Because then I wouldn’t have to decide what to eat.

I.can.never.decide.what.I.want.to.eat.

I have literally stared into cupboards for upwards of 45 minutes trying to decide what I want.

I want everything.

And nothing.

My step-dad has been witness to this.

If he came into the kitchen and found me planted in front of the pantry for longer than it would take a lasagna to cook, he would look at me and chuckle…

“Looks like its a cereal for dinner kind of night.”

Yes!

Cereal!

Jeeze louise, there are 7 kinds of cereal in there.

This is never going to end.

But cereal-ously, I love cereal.

And granola.

And granola cereal.

And chocolate granola cereal.

Because sometimes, nothing will do for dinner besides a big old bowl of  cereal granola.

Cocoa Crunch Granola

2 cups old-fashioned oats

2 cups crisp rice cereal

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Tidbit: You can also use 1 tablespoon of canola oil for a nut free granola*

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, rice cereal, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

If you want crispy granola, you must use crisp rice cereal. Also known as Rice Krispies for the upper middle class that can afford such name brand-ary.

Does there really need to be baking soda in granola? Well, no. But it makes the cocoa taste less bitter.

 

Add peanut butter (or canola oil, if using) and maple syrup.

Mix until oats and rice cereal are evenly coated.

Spread onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes

*Tidbit: Check frequently since granola tends to burn quickly!

This has a lot of sugar to be eating giant bowls of it, but feel free to sprinkle it on smoothies, fruit, non-dairy yogurt, or just eat it by the handful.

But if you’re eating it for dinner, by all means, load the bowl up.

Well, shoot.

Now I have to decide what I want for breakfast.

KEEP CALM AND CRUNCH ON!

See Money

Here’s what I could do with $400.00:

Buy 28 cute spring scarves from Target.

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Stock up on 266 cans of pumpkin

Finally get a smart phone

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 Gift a llama to a family in Africa.

 OR

Or I could get new glasses.

Oh, that doesn’t include the frames.

Just the lenses.

That’s exactly how I wanted to spend a whole month’s worth of groceries: on fragile pieces of glass for my face.

I thought I could save money by using my old frames.

Too bad they charged me for that too.

Good thing this recipe is free.

Gluten-free, that is.

I thought I would spring for gluten free pasta since I’ve never had it and I like to try new things.

If I can’t have new glasses, at least I can have new pasta.

And adding fun things like zucchini, red pepper, and raisins almost made me forget the half of a mortgage payment I just dropped on spectacles.

Next time I might add some vision enhancing foods like carrots, walnuts, or tofu.

But this recipe is light, springy and perfect for your Easter table.

Springin’ Vegetable Pasta

8 oz. gluten free pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

1 bunch basil, chopped

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 lemon, juiced

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Tidbit: Pinterest Success! A wooden spoon over the pot really does prevent the water from boiling over!

In a large saucepan,  add half of the olive oil, celery, red pepper, and zucchini.

Cook for 7-8 minutes over medium heat until vegetables are tender.

Add drained pasta, basil, rice vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and remaining olive oil.

Add the raisins and toss gently to combine.

Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

This is a fantastic Easter recipe for those of you that have gluten free family members.

You’ll see.

I, however, won’t be seeing anything until I can save enough pennies for my prescription lenses.


SEE you later!

Lucky Charms

Top O’ The Morning To You!

St. Patrick’s Day is a rather unfortunate holiday for me.

I’m short, small, and my ears are slightly pointed.

And it doesn’t help when I show up to 5k races looking like this.

It must have been my lucky day.

Thirteen is definitely my new lucky number.

Please note that I beat a nine year old by two seconds.

But if I wasn’t trying to beat that little leprechaun, I never would have FINALLY met my goal of running a sub 25 minute 5k.

24:58

To be exact.

I also won the contest for wearing the most green.

I credit that one to Irish blessings from heaven.

And the hat from heaven’s favorite Irishman.

My race day lucky charm.

Thanks Grandpa McFetridge.

For being my spirit and making me sprite.

Speaking of spirits, how about having some with breakfast?

Not the ghostly kind.

The whiskey kind.

IRISH WHISKEY WAFFLES

2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups non-dairy milk

3 tablespoons Irish Whiskey

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoon canola oil

Pre-heat waffle iron.

Whisk together white whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt.

Tidbit: Just in case you’re not a regular around here, remember to use white whole wheat flour and not regular whole wheat flour. I am not in the mood to get the shamrock beat out of me because your waffles turned out like blarney stones.

Pour in non-dairy milk, whiskey, honey, and canola oil.

Mix just until combined.

Pour batter into hot waffle iron.

Cook according to manufacturer’s directions.

*Mine took about six minutes.

Serve with fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey, and a shot of whiskey.

In your coffee.

It’s breakfast, for pete’s sake.

You’re not an animal.

You’re Irish.

Just like me and everyone else in America!

This little leprechaun is wasted.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Pump up the Jam

Breakfast is my jam lately.

As in, massive amounts of jam make its way into or onto every single breakfast.

Those all fruit jams at the store are great, but they can be a bit pricey (a lot pricy) and come in minuscule amounts.

You can make your own at home.

You don’t even have to spend hours in the berry patch picking your fruit.

Since, you know, its not even near berry pickin’ time.

And since it is freezing outside it only makes sense that your berries will come from the freezer too.

All you need is your favorite frozen fruit and some fresh fruit that naturally has a high amount of pectin.

Pectin.

The powdery stuff that costs an arm and a leg at the grocery store and is practically non-existant in the winter months.

The stuff your grandmother uses to make her generations old jam recipe.

The stuff that is so fickle, you can never get it the way your  Granny did, leaving your jam runny, watery, and soupy.

Or maybe I’m the only one who spends 8 hours in the kitchen boiling fruit, adding pectin, sterilizing jars, canning, and waiting for the inevitable final product of fruit soup.

Fruit soup does not work nicely on a cashew butter and jelly.

And husbands get mad when jam oozes out onto their work uniforms.

Hulk-ishly mad.

So because berry season is an interminable amount of months away, because fresh fruit comes from countries that I can barely geographically locate, and because store bought all-fruit jam contains about a spoonful of actual product, I present you with this jammin’ recipe.

It’s easily customizable to your favorite fruit and fun additions like orange zest, citrus juice, or flavor extracts like vanilla and almond.

Fruits high in pectin that can be used include apples, plums, grapes, and citrus peels. Unripe fruit contains more pectin so now you have a use for those rock hard plums. Also, most of the pectin is in the skin of the fruit so don’t get all peel-y with it.

Just get jammin’.

Frozen Fruit Jam

2 plums

2 ( 12  oz.) bags of frozen blueberries

Juice + zest of 1 orange

Zest the orange and set the zest aside.

Slice and chop the plums.

You can’t taste the plums. They really just help to thicken up the jam.

Add the plums to a medium sized pot over low-medium heat and cook for a minute or too until softened.

Add the frozen blueberries and the juice from the orange.

Cook for 20-30 minutes or until jam gets nice and thick.

Remove from heat and add the orange zest.

Tidbit: The jam will thicken significantly when cooled completely.

And that’s my jam.

Fire Fighting

Everyone in my family is flaming.

Wait.

That’s not right.

Everyone in my family is inflamed. 

Arthritis, IBS, bone pain, joint pain, headaches, allergies.

And that’s just my sister.

Rumor has it you can fight inflammation with an anti-inflamatory diet.

It was like the ultimate challenge when my sister asked me to help her come up with some meal ideas for her anti-inflammatory and anti-allergen diet.

Ok, she didn’t ask.

I practically tripped over my oven mitts begging her to let me meal plan for her.

Her diet requirements include:

No meat, eggs, dairy, white fish, nuts, gluten, wheat, rye, corn, citrus fruit, apples, bananas, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, paprika, coffee, and processed foods. 

It seems limiting but there are actually a ton of foods she can eat.

Flameless foods like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, tofu, kale, broccoli, peppers, onions, squash, sweet potatoes, beans, seeds, lentils, beans, peas, olive oil, and canola oil. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

All healthy things.

That are delicious when you know how to cook them.

I was so excited.

That is until she told me the rest of her own personal criteria.

1. No creamy food.

2. No thick food.

3. No mushy food.

4. No oatmeal

5. Nothing that needs a lot of prep work.

6. Nothing that takes too long to cook.

7. Nothing that takes food too far away from its original form.

8. Absolutely no oatmeal.

Seriously, what is it with this girl and textures?

I’ve had migraines that hurt less than my head hurt after she got done with that list.

I was so excited.

Here’s the fastest, non-creamiest, un-mushiest, sans oatmeal, flameless, and allergy free meal I could come up with.

(withwhitebeansbecauseyouneedtolearntolikebeansbecausetheyhaveprotienfiberandhealthycarbohydrates)

Mediterranean Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Salad 

1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts

1 ( 12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers

12 pitted Kalamata olives

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning

1 bunch fresh basil (about 1/2 cup)

salt + pepper to taste

1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Drain artichoke and roasted red pepper.

Add to a medium sized bowl.

Add olives.

Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning, and chopped basil.

Add cannelini beans if using.

And you are using them.

Be not afraid! Cannellini beans are just white kidney beans. If you don’t like cannellini, you could substitute any bean or even lentils.

Gently toss everything together.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Best served room temperature or cold.

But very tasty warmed through.

 HAPPY HEALING!