Super Healthy Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing

(Becky, the Mama. )

Greg and I just spent two days on a road trip, driving from snow-covered Denver to the blue skies, hot air balloons, rusty-red mountains, green grass, gorgeous flowers and warm sun of Arizona.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I grabbed my bathing suit from the suitcase (still in the car) ran into the condo and threw it on, then dashed to the swimming pool. The sun was still in the sky, but sinking, so I arranged my lounge chair just so, where I could get the maximum rays, then sat down and basked and beamed with happiness. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a sun and a water baby. I wore my dark hair in two braids, as a little girl, and by summer’s end I always looked like Pocahontas, my skin as “brown as a berry,” my mother said.

To this day, I wonder if I am part Indian, as I disdain shoes and socks, preferring to be bare foot, even in the winter. I seek out sun like a lizard, anywhere I can find it. I do know that my grandmother Nonny and her family came to Sweetwater, Texas from New Mexico. Her eyes were a twinkling blue, her hair a stunning natural silver, and her skin turned a deep olive every summer.  She loved being outside in her garden, always in a flower print dress (I never saw her in slacks), and if we grandkids were lucky, she’d see and catch a baby horned toad, which us we loved to hold and play with more than any store-bought toy.

But I digress.  Back to the pool.  When I could see the sun dipping in the sky, I jumped out of the lounge chair, hurried back to the condo, grabbing this and that from boxes of food stuffs and ice chest we brought from home – kale, dried cherries, hemp seed,  sliced almonds, Clementine oranges – quickly creating the world’s fastest salad. Then photographing it while there was still natural light on the patio overlooking an emerald green golf course. After two days of road trip food burgers and fries, my body was craving something green and healthy.  This is truly a Super Salad, loaded with nutrition – and it was soo yummy, I know I’ll be making it again and again.  The nice thing about using kale in salads is that the salad still has lots of chew and crunch the next day, and in fact,  it seems to get even better as it has time to sit and soften a bit in the dressing.

Super Fruit & Almond Kale Salad with Clementine Maple Dressing

Ingredients for salad:

2 to 3 cups of chopped kale, leaves only – no stems (I was able to find it pre-chopped and mixed with some shredded carrots in the grocery produce aisle)

2 Clementine oranges, peeled and pulled apart in sections

2 T. dried cherries or cranberries

1 T. hemp, flax, or chia seeds

2 T. sliced or slivered almonds

1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts

Ingredients for Dressing:

¼ cup red wine or rice wine vinegar

Juice from 1 Clementine orange

1 T. pure maple syrup

1 t. soy sauce

2 t. good mustard

¼ cup olive oil

dash garlic powder or about 1/4 of a fresh garlic clove, grated

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Put kale in a large  bowl and knead and massage it with clean hands for a minute. This will break down the fibers and make the kale tender enough to eat raw.  (Sometimes I run hot water over it in a colander to soften the kale first, knead it, and then rinse again in cold water.)  Add all the rest of the ingredients for a salad and serve in a pretty flat platter.   Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and drizzle over the salad.  Serve and enjoy.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Fruit and Almond Kale Salad with Clementine-Maple Dressing
The URL:http://wp.me/p1UwM9-M9
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Vegan, Wheat, Dairy and Sugar Free)

Healthy Apple Crisp

After returning from a recent trip where I travelled without Greg (“The Other Half of my Heart and Brain”), we paused and took inventory of all the things I lost along the way: some clothes, my credit card,  my car keys (the kind with a computer chip that cost $70.00 to replace), and my camera.

Thankfully the credit card surfaced in a bag I’d left at home.  The hotel found my camera and zipped it to me quickly, Fed-Ex.  Three days later, my local library called to let me know that Frontier Airlines had my car keys in the Lost and Found. (My library card was attached to my giant key chain.  I remembered then that I’d let my grandbaby Jackson play with them on the plane.  Let this be a lesson to all:  Never trust a 13 month old baby to put your keys back in your purse when he is finished playing with them.)  Never found the clothes

Though Greg knows my absent-minded nature all too well, even he was amazed at all I’d managed to misplace in such a short time.

One morning soon after, he came upstairs to our bedroom to wake me up in time for a morning appointment.  “Becky,” he asked, “How in the world did you ever wake up without me to help you all those years when you traveled alone, speaking?”

“Well,” I answered sleepily, “the hotels had this thing where you could ask them to call you and wake you up. But I forgot what they call it.”

Greg smiled.  “A wake up call.”

“Yeah, that’s it!”

What is funny is the things my brain does remember: every word that Greg said to me when we fell in love, and the sweet things he continues to say to me almost a decade later.  Dozens of quotes I’ve found meaningful over the course of my life . Then there are recipes.  I have a remarkable taste memory, and can remember a long list of ingredients in recipes I’ve cooked and loved, simply by remembering the taste of it in my mind.

After cooking for years,  I can now imagine a dish I’ve never eaten, but would like to try making, and somehow my brain clicks off the  ingredients automatically.  Thus, the recipe for this skillet apple crisp that turned out exactly as I imagined it would: buttery, not-too-sweet, crunchy and rustic. It has no refined sugars, but is made with natural coconut sugar and tad of pure maple syrup. (It is easy to find coconut sugar these days in the baking aisle:  I found this bag at a local Wal-mart.) The topping has no flour: it is all oats and nuts and seeds, giving it a fabulous crunchy texture. It is loaded with fiber and protein, a comforting autumn dessert, and healthy enough to serve the next day for fruit-nut breakfast oatmeal – re-heated and served with a little milk, cream or almond milk.

Amazing Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Wheat, Dairy and Sugar Free)

 

Ingredients for Apple Layer:

2 T. Earth Balance Butter (or regular butter if you are not vegan)

2 T. coconut sugar

2 T. maple syrup

1 t. cinnamon

3 cups fresh organic apple slices,  loosely packed,  ¼ inch  thick, peel left on (This took about 5 small apples, so I imagine 3 or 4 larger apples would do)

2 T. raisins or dried berries

Ingredients for Topping:

1 c. old-fashioned oats

½ c. nuts (I used walnuts)

2 T. hemp, chia or flax seeds

¼ c. coconut oil (or other healthy oil if you do not have coconut oil on hand)

3 T. coconut sugar

¼ t. salt (unless nuts above are salted, then omit)

1 t. cinnamon

1 T. pure maple syrup

Optional: 2 T. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds for garnish (may also use sunflower seeds or slivered almonds)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 10 inch iron skillet, melt Earth Balance butter over a low flame.  Mix rest of “Ingredients for Apple Layer”  into the melted butter.

Put all “Ingredients for Topping” into a food processor, except the maple syrup.  Process until mixture is crumbly, about the size of Grape Nuts cereal.  Sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of maple syrup over all.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until topping is brown, apples are soft and juices beneath are thick and syrupy.  Top with pumpkin seeds, if desired. Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, yogurt or coconut milk-based ice cream.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Vegan, Wheat, Dairy and Sugar-free)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-GO
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Pumpkin Pie Dip with “Autumn Leaf” Apples (Vegan)

Pumpkin Pie Dip for “Autumn Leaf” Apples (with Extra Toppings for Double Dipping)

(Becky, the Mama)

Autumn. Nip in the air.  Pumpkin Lattes and Pies. Crisp sweet apples. Back-to-School…..

I was thinking today about the days when my children were young and how hard it was for me to organize my own purse, much less try to get four children enrolled in school.  I remember one day in late August, I took my youngest child Gabe with me to fill out the paperwork required to finish up enrolling his older three siblings in Lone Oak Elementary. I was at the school’s library, sitting in a pint-sized child’s chair, scooted up to a big a round table with a stack of intimidating forms in front of me. I had to concentrate so hard to remember all the kids’ birth dates and Who had What Vaccinations When — all while trying to keep one eye on three-year-old Gabe.  Thankfully, my little boy was keeping himself entertained, quietly roving around looking at the childrens’ books on the shelves.  He wasn’t even pulling them off the shelf, but seemed to be happy just gliding along touching the books.  What a good boy, I thought.

It was only after I finished the final form  and looked up that the truth came into clear focus.  Gabe had found a brand new book of postage stamps in my purse and had been busily licking and sticking all of them to the library shelves, as he quietly walked and browsed.  As an absentminded mom of four, this sort of thing happened with great regularity, which meant I never lacked material for my books,  but also meant I was always exhausted.

To exhausted hard-working mothers of young children everywhere, here’s a hug and a super simple recipe for a Back-to-School pumpkin spice treat that I think you will love as much as your kids will. I’ve seen a few recipes for something similar on Pinterest,  but these recipes call for Cool Whip and powdered pudding mix, and I really try to avoid food with ingredients with alien names I cannot pronounce.

This recipe is creamy and tastes exactly like pumpkin pie, but uses real food, and most of it is good for you! (Bonus: it is also vegan and dairy-free.) The fun thing about this recipe is that you get to “double-dip” your apple slices: once in the pumpkin pie fluff and again in any topping of your choice. (Or for “grown up parties” with less mess, guests can spoon desired toppings over their dipped apples on pretty plates.) I used ground almonds and mini-chocolate chips, but you could use coconut flakes, hemp seeds, crushed cereal, granola, or finely chopped (or ground) candied ginger. So many possibilities, probably sitting on your pantry shelves right now!

A word about this recipe: It uses canned coconut milk, and it needs to be the full fat kind, preferably organic – the type that separates into a solid lump cream and liquid in the can.   I’ve found that I can just shake the can when I’m at the grocery store (typically coconut milk is on the Asian aisle) next to my ear, and if it does not slosh, then it has already separated and is exactly what I want!  I always keep a couple of cans in the fridge so that they are ready for whipping and serving in a variety of recipes, such as this one. I actually prefer it to “cow cream,” even though I am not on a dairy-free or vegan diet. You can serve this fruit dip right away, but it will get creamier and fluffier in texture if you refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Dip for “Autumn Leaf” Apples

Makes 1 ½ cups

Ingredients:

1 can organic whole fat coconut milk, divided — separate “cream” from “milk” (Thai Kitchen, ORGANIC,  not “lite” brand always works for me and is readily available in most regular grocery stores in the Asian aisle.)

1/2 cup mashed cooked pumpkin – fresh or from a can

2 t. pumpkin pie spice (or 1 t. cinnamon plus ½ t. nutmeg and ½ t. ginger, 1/4 t. ground cloves)

1 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

3 T. brown sugar

2 t. maple syrup

Extra cinnamon for sprinkling on top (Saigon cinnamon is especially good)

Some of the ingredients that go into this wonderful pumpkin spice dip

Small cups of toppings of your choice for “double-dipping” apple slices: mini–chocolate chips, ground or finely chopped nuts,  seeds (hemp, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower), coconut, crushed graham crackers or cereal…use your imagination and what is in your pantry!

Sliced apples for dipping, about one apple per person. (An assortment of Green and Red and Yellow apple slices are so pretty on a plate — looks a little like autumn leaves.)

Directions:

Using a mixer, whip the solidified “cream” part of out of the can of cold, full fat coconut milk. Add the pumpkin and whip again until creamy. Slowly pour in the leftover liquid coconut “milk” from the can, continuing to mix until you have a consistency for the dip that you like. (If you are going to refrigerate this before serving, remember the dip will “set up” and become thicker as it gets colder, so you may want to use all the liquid in the can. If you are in a hurry and want to serve right away, you may not want to use much of the liquid.) Add the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the top of the dip with cinnamon and gently swirl with a knife.  Put in the fridge for an hour before serving, if you have the will power to resist eating it all right away, so the coconut milk will stiffen up a bit and yield a fluffier thicker dip.

For kids: Serve with a colorful array of sliced apples (you can call them “Autumn Leaves”) and small cups of toppings for “double dipping.”  It will be a little messy, but this is part of the fun for kids. Fun treat for after school snacking, Halloween and Fall Festivals, or Thanksgiving dessert.

For grown-ups: For a less messy, more sophisticated way to serve — put little spoons in each of the cups of toppings and encourage “sprinkling” the toppings over the dipped-in-pumpkin pie dip apples, on their individual party plates. You can let grown ups use forks to spear the apples for dipping as well, if you prefer.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pumpkin Pie Dip for Apples
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Broiled Fresh Peaches with Gorgonzola and Honey

Broiled Peaches with Gorgonzola and Honey

(Becky, the Mama)

So much to learn, so many creative foods and wines to try, so many wonderful chefs, photographers and food bloggers to meet at the Foodista sponsored conference (International Food Bloggers) in Portland last week. I have unpacked my suitcase stuffed with notes and free goodies, but it will take a month to unpack my brain and apply what I’ve learned. Andrew Scrivani, New York Times food photographer, gave us dozens of practical tips I cannot wait to try. (Be sure to click on Andrew’s name if you love food photography. If you aren’t hungry now, you will be soon.) In my photo above, you’ll notice the honey dripping slowly from the honey dipper. Who knew that drips and drops makes food look more tantalizing? Well, now I do. I also know that I probably need to upgrade from my $99.00 hot pink Samsung digital camera to a pricey grown up camera sometime in the near future. Sigh.

Another highlight for me, besides the chance to be with my darlin’ daughter Rachel, adorable grandbaby Jackson, and fabulous editor, Carolyn McCready, was to meet some bloggers and food authors I’ve admired. I had just listened to the audio tape of the book Kitchen Counter Cooking School (dubbed as Michael Pollan meets “What Not to Wear”), loved it and recommended it to many.  How fun to meet Kathleen Flinn, the book’s author, in person.  I’ve written dozens of books, but I still get starstruck when I meet an author-in-the-flesh whose work I admire. Kathleen was gracious, down-to-earth and charming. Be sure to click on her name to get more details about her life and books.

You may wonder if I was able to pull off this fairly new role as “professional food blogger” without being detected as the messy, clutzy amateur cook that I actually am. In two words: not really.

I’m not a fan of mingling, so I took a deep breath to suck in all the courage in the air, then entered the huge, elegant wine tasting party bustling with eager bloggers. Pausing near the door, I bravely introduce myself to a cheerful foodie. We exchanged business cards, just before someone informed me I was leaning on the light switches and had turned off all the lights in the room. I smiled weakly, and headed straight for a table of pinot noir, sipped a bit too eagerly, and began to choke so badly that I had to exit the room to the hallway to finish my coughing fit in private. When I looked up, there were two friendly and colorful conferees there, both offering to give me the Heimlich should I need it. Serendipitously, they turned out to be two of my favorite people at the conference. Some people, I hear, gracefully meet and greet their way around a room full of new people. I found that turning off all the lights, then choking and running out in the hallway also works as an attention-getting alternative.

The last evening of the conference was a Farm to Table dinner where beautiful local fresh food was served up on elegant platters, family style, around tables of eight. The food and the company were both amazing.

Pretty Vegan Appetizer of risotto, white asparagus, beets and pesto

Me, Rachel & Carolyn ready to dig in to the Farm to Table Meal at International Food Bloggers Conference

Here’s a peek at the menu.

My favorite was the grilled yellow watermelon and the buttery blackberry shortcake.

Inspired by the simple but flavorful use of fresh local fruits and cheeses and honeys, I came home and invented this easy, elegant sweet-savory recipe using tree-ripened peaches (broiled with just a touch of butter and sprinkle of brown sugar and sea salt), soft pungent Gorgonzola and silky sweet honey. It makes for a pretty appetizer or dessert, especially tasty on a summer eve with a glass of wine.

And you know that if this clutzy cook can make this dish – anyone can!

This is Jackson, exhausted after 5 days of food, fun and family in Portland. His mother and I felt the very same way!

The Littlest Foodie of the Family, Worn Out from All the Fun!

Broiled Peaches with Gorgonzola and Honey

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 fresh peaches, cut in half, pitted

1 oz. soft Gorgonzola or blue cheese

2 t. butter

Pinch sea salt

Pinch brown sugar

3 T. honey

Directions:

Put Oven on Broil.

Place peaches cut side up in a square Pyrex pan.  Put 1/2 t. butter in peach pit indention.  Sprinkle tops of peaches with tiny pinch of salt and sugar.  Broil the peaches about 4 inches from heat source until the tops turn golden brown in spots.  Serve each person two peaches, pour any juices in pan over them. Dot the tops of the peaches with soft crumbles of Gorgonzola or blue cheese.  Drizzle peaches evenly with honey.

Vegan Option: Substitute  Earth Balance for butter and  finely chopped cashews for cheese.

Other Options:  Try this method with other juicy fruits (apricots, pineapple, plums) and other soft or crumbly cheeses.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title: Broiled Fresh Peaches with Gorgonzola and Honey

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-EN

© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


90% Fruit Soft Serve “Ice Cream” (In Minutes, No Ice Cream Maker)

(Becky, the Mama)

I have no idea if you’ve noticed this, as I have, but it is HOT out there.

The thing is, Colorado can very tricky when it comes to heat.  In Texas or Alabama, it is equally as miserable in the shade as it is in the sun. But in Denver, if you walk out under the awning to, say, contemplate taking a little walk, you will be deceived into thinking, “What a nice day it is, with such pleasant temperatures!”  Because of the dry climate,  it is easy to experience this false sense of breeziness when standing in shade, unaware that if you leave covered shelter you could instantly be fried like an ant under a magnifying glass..

So off you may go on a walk, if you are like me and so naive you are still trying to figure out jokes you didn’t get in the 7th grade

But what you will find, as I found today on my walk-about, is that the sun in our great state is actually a giant heating lamp and because we live at high altitude, this means that it hovers about five inches above your head.   By the time I’d walked about twenty minutes, the sun had risen to high noon, and I was still a mile away from my air-conditioned home on a stroll-turned-death march.

Greg and I once dog-sat an pudgy old beagle who, when we took him for a walk, would park himself under every shade tree, lie down and refuse to budge unless we carried him. This was me today, only with no one to carry me, I had to do my own trudging from tree to tree.  By the time I got home I was exhausted, sweaty and crying.

There is a picture of a lean mean woman athlete that is going around on Pinterest. The caption under her says:”Sweat is fat crying.”

May it be known, far and wide, that I do not want my fat to cry.  Ever, ever again.

At age 53, I had to admit to myself and my husband that I will never be the Summer Olympic Champion of anything except cooking and napping. I will continue to walk, for my health, but it will be in an air-conditioned gym or mall.  I will reserve the Great Outdoors as my place to sit and sip a cold drink or eat ice cream under a nice big umbrella, the way God intended girls like me to enjoy nature.

I am open, however, to eating a healthier form of ice cream under the shade. Which is what brings us to today’s recipe: an ice cream you can spin up in your food processor in minutes that is 90% (maybe more!) fruit.  I went a little crazy with this recipe  once I discovered how delicious it is and easy to make, trying a new flavor every night for several evenings in a row, beginning with Sweet Black Cherry:

Sweet Black Cherry “Ice Cream”

Followed by Blueberry:

Which inspired Peach:

Then strawberry with a little chocolate syrup:

The basic recipe can be adjusted and played with dozens of ways.   My daughter Rachel inspired this dish when she made me a bowl of soft serve out of frozen bananas in her food processor.  It was amazing. (See her recipe for vegan  Mint Chocolate Pistachio Blizzard.)  The texture was just like that of soft serve ice cream or yogurt. I wondered if it could be done with other frozen fruits and sure enough, it worked!

I’ve only just begun to have fun with this recipe and want to hear what combinations YOU come up with as well.

90% Fruit Soft Serve “Ice Cream”

Basic Recipe to Serve Two to Three 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups frozen fruit

¼ cup of yogurt or almond milk or juice (really, any liquid you like)

1 t. vanilla or any extract you desire (zest of lemon or lime or orange can also be used)

Pinch salt

2 – 4 T. sugar or agave nectar or any other sweetener of your choice, to taste ( I like half organic sugar and half agave. )

Any “stir-ins” you may like such as chopped nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, peanut butter, etc.

Directions:

Put all ingredients into a good  food processor. Begin to pulse it,  scraping as you go.  Once the fruit is starting to pulverize, let the processor run several seconds as it works to turn the frozen fruit into a creamy texture. You will have to pause, and scrape the sides of the food processor a few times and you may have to add a bit more liquid.  Repeat this until you have a nice soft-serve fruit-based ice cream.

Fruit will gradually get from chunky to pea-sized bits, and with patience and scrapping down the sides, turn into a smooth soft-serve ice cream.

It takes a little patience.  You can put the whole thing in the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm it up a bit more, or serve as is, right away.  Add any stir-ins you might want, if you want them,  or any toppings.

Enjoy! And if you come up with an especially yummy creative combo,  do drop us a comment and share.

Variations:

Aside from the flavors pictured above, you might want to try:

Bananas and chocolate syrup

Bananas with rum flavoring and a stir-in of plumped raisins

Pineapple with coconut milk

Mango with orange juice

Cherries with almond flavoring and chopped nuts

Frozen apples with cinnamon

Kiwi and watermelon with green tea

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: 90% Fruit Soft Serve “Ice Cream”
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-zQ
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Peaches & Pretzels Caramel Sundae

(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

I love a great variety of foods for lunch and dinner, but for some reason I get stuck on one breakfast and can’t let go.  Maybe I’m such a one-note breakfast wonder because, as a general rule,  I can’t put two coherent thoughts together before 10:00 A.M.  Last year’s breakfast was coffee with a side of a few raw almonds and dried cherries.   Then I’d have an additional snack of PBJ toast as soon as my pre-frontal cortex came online enough to trust myself with a toaster and a knife.

Lately, I have been on a salted caramel banana nut smoothie  kick for breakfast,  a recipe I invented and posted about a month ago,  and have made every day since.  Sometimes I shake things up by subbing ½ cup of coffee for ½ of the almond milk.  So I was lying in bed the other night thinking of my new love for things salty caramely, fruity and sweet when I literally sat up, struck with a food idea. I grabbed a pen, turned on the bedside lamp and wrote down “pretzels,” “peaches,” “caramel” and “ice cream.”  I could taste the combination in my imagination: the salty, the sweet, the warm caramel, the cold ice cream.  I went to sleep dreaming of the perfect peach sundae.

Sure enough, my imagination proved accurate.  I love this sundae, perhaps a bit too much.

It is taking a lot of will power not to make it my new daily breakfast.

Peaches & Pretzels Caramel Sundae

Peaches & Pretzels Caramel Sundae

Makes Two Servings

Ingredients

1 T. butter (Earth Balance for Vegans)

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup half n half or cream (Vegans use coconut milk. You can also use evaporated skim milk or even plain dairy or almond milk, though the sauce won’t be quite as rich, it will definitely save some calories. )

2 fresh ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (I used sweet white peaches)

2 scoops vanilla ice cream (I used vanilla frozen yogurt; vegans will want a non-dairy vanilla – there are many wonderful varieties. Or try Rachel’s vegan soft serve recipe — it would be awesome with this.)

½ cup chopped pretzels (Just start with a nice big handful of pretzels… it will yield approximately 1/2 cup of chopped pretzels.)

¼ cup chopped salted nuts (I used salted roasted cashews, starting with 1/3 cup whole nuts)

Directions

To make quick caramel sauce, melt butter in small saucepan, then add brown sugar and cream or half-n-half.  Stir and simmer until sugar has melted and smooth syrupy sauce forms.  It doesn’t take long, just a minute or two. Take off heat and let cool.

Caramel sauce bubbling away in the skillet

In a blender or food processor, chop pretzels and nuts together, until they are the size you want for sprinkling on top of the sundaes.

Chopped pretzels and nuts for topping

Into each of two pretty dessert bowls put 1 sliced, peel, chopped peach. Place a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of this (or two small scoops as pictured).

Ladle one tablespoon of warm caramel on top of each sundae.  Sprinkle each dessert with a tablespoon or two (your preference) of the pretzel nut mixture.  Top this with one more spoon full of caramel.  (This assures that the nuts and pretzels are sufficiently surrounded and coated with caramel.)

Serve, dig in, smile.

Variations: Try bananas, pineapple or strawberries or other fruit. Try other flavors of ice cream or Rachel’s vegan soft serve recipe. I think a combo of strawberries and cheesecake or white chocolate ice cream would be heavenly.  You can also skip making your own caramel sauce and use a bottled variety of your choice.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Peaches & Pretzels Caramel Sundae
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-vj
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Red, White & Blueberry Salad (Watermelon, Blueberry, Feta)

Red, White & Blueberry Salad

(From Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

Update: Looking for a summer vacation beach read?  How about a memoir that will make you laugh, inspire you,  and give you some great ideas for cooking for friends and loved ones? Check out our book, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook!

I’m going to post this recipe early– for  tonight and in the morning, again, to give everyone time to scoot to the store — if needed — and haul back the ingredients for this simple, amazing, knock-out Red, White and Blueberry Watermelon Salad. Because if you put it together for your 4th of July Celebration, you will be crowned the Queen Cook of Independence Day.  And I would not want you to miss that honor.

Last week I had a little minor surgery (although  it is only really “minor” when if it is happening to someone else)  and to my delight, my friend Lindsey O’Connor brought over a feast so good I’d almost go under the knife again to repeat the meal. It included grilled chicken, humus, homemade tzatziki sauce,  pita chips, Naan bread and a gorgeous watermelon-mint-feta salad.  I’m sharing my 4th of July version of her watermelon salad today, but she promises me the original recipes for the rest of the meal soon! (Which I will share with you.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Red, White & Blueberry Salad
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

I love to bring meals to my friends who have been ill or had a new baby. Truly pure joy.  As opposed to,  say, helping someone move or dog sit for them.  When I plan to bring a meal to someone, I usually start cooking in the mid-afternoon and just double whatever Greg and I are having for dinner.  I have a cabinet where I save disposable containers for this purpose, and a system where I wrap the hot stuff in a big towel and put it in one box, the cold stuff (with a bag of ice if needed) in another box and off Greg and I go to deliver some love disguised as a good meal.

I am so rarely sick, and my youngest baby is in his mid-twenties; so I had forgotten what a pampered, soothing experience it is to enjoy a great meal that has been lovingly home-made and delivered.  Somewhere around midnight I got up, padded to the fridge, and finished every last bite of Lindsey’s cold crisp sweet-salty watermelon salad before going back to bed. With each bite, I thought of Lindsey with gratitude.  It is true that  food, made with love, somehow tastes better.

So if you don’t make this salad for July 4,  save it in your recipe file under “Great Dish to Bring to a Friend in Need.”  It’s easy,  nutritious, beautiful and delicious.

Becky’s Red, White and Blueberry Salad

Red, White & Blueberry Salad (Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry)

Ingredients

2 cups diced watermelon (about the size of dice)

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

2 T. crumbled feta cheese

1 T. fresh lime juice

Dash sea salt

2 t. chopped fresh mint

2 t. honey or agave nectar

Directions

In a glass bowl, layer the watermelon, blueberries and feta, in that order.  Just before serving add the rest of the ingredients and toss very gently again. Serve.  Note:  If you are using frozen blueberries this dish is best served just a few minutes after the berries start to thaw, so they are still a little bit icy and hold their shape. In fact, I would just toss the frozen blueberries in last, and they should be ready for eating by the time people serve themselves and sit down to eat.


Red, White & Blueberry Salad (Watermelon, Blueberry, Feta)

Red, White & Blueberry Salad

(From Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

I’m going to post this recipe early– for  tonight and in the morning, again, to give everyone time to scoot to the store — if needed — and haul back the ingredients for this simple, amazing, knock-out Red, White and Blueberry Watermelon Salad. Because if you put it together for your 4th of July Celebration, you will be crowned the Queen Cook of Independence Day.  And I would not want you to miss that honor.

Last week I had a little minor surgery (although  it is only really “minor” when if it is happening to someone else)  and to my delight, my friend Lindsey O’Connor brought over a feast so good I’d almost go under the knife again to repeat the meal. It included grilled chicken, humus, homemade tzatziki sauce,  pita chips, Naan bread and a gorgeous watermelon-mint-feta salad.  I’m sharing my 4th of July version of her watermelon salad today, but she promises me the original recipes for the rest of the meal soon! (Which I will share with you.)

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The Title: Red, White & Blueberry Salad
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I love to bring meals to my friends who have been ill or had a new baby. Truly pure joy.  As opposed to,  say, helping someone move or dog sit for them.  When I plan to bring a meal to someone, I usually start cooking in the mid-afternoon and just double whatever Greg and I are having for dinner.  I have a cabinet where I save disposable containers for this purpose, and a system where I wrap the hot stuff in a big towel and put it in one box, the cold stuff (with a bag of ice if needed) in another box and off Greg and I go to deliver some love disguised as a good meal.

I am so rarely sick, and my youngest baby is in his mid-twenties; so I had forgotten what a pampered, soothing experience it is to enjoy a great meal that has been lovingly home-made and delivered.  Somewhere around midnight I got up, padded to the fridge, and finished every last bite of Lindsey’s cold crisp sweet-salty watermelon salad before going back to bed. With each bite, I thought of Lindsey with gratitude.  It is true that  food, made with love, somehow tastes better.

So if you don’t make this salad for July 4,  save it in your recipe file under “Great Dish to Bring to a Friend in Need.”  It’s easy,  nutritious, beautiful and delicious.

Becky’s Red, White and Blueberry Salad

Red, White & Blueberry Salad (Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry)

Ingredients

2 cups diced watermelon (about the size of dice)

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

2 T. crumbled feta cheese

1 T. fresh lime juice

Dash sea salt

2 t. chopped fresh mint

2 t. honey or agave nectar

Directions

In a glass bowl, layer the watermelon, blueberries and feta, in that order.  Just before serving add the rest of the ingredients and toss very gently again. Serve.  Note:  If you are using frozen blueberries this dish is best served just a few minutes after the berries start to thaw, so they are still a little bit icy and hold their shape. In fact, I would just toss the frozen blueberries in last, and they should be ready for eating by the time people serve themselves and sit down to eat.


Kickin’ Melon Cucumber Salad

Melon, agave, and a tiny hint of cayenne take this ordinary tomato and cucumber salad to extraordinary with a burst of flavor. It’s sweet, spicy, and refreshing. Surprise your friends with this unique summer salad at the next barbeque.

Whatever it is that makes pregnant women crave weird things, I’m pretty sure I have it all the time. As I’m trying to eat everything in my refrigerator before vacation (this is counteracting my plan to get in shape for the beach, by the way), I keep finding myself pairing the oddest things.

Oreo cookies, cream filling removed and replaced with peanut butter and banana.

A baked sweet potato doused in hot sauce for breakfast.

Crackers dipped in tomato paste and hummus.

Sometimes I question my authority to co-write a food blog. I mean seriously, how can you trust the palate of someone who removes the filling from their Oreos?

However, sometimes my weird cravings create something truly delicious. When I took a bite of this salad with crisp cucumbers, bright tomatoes, sweet cantaloupe, red onion, and an agave and cayenne vinaigrette, I was in love. It’s an odd combination of fruits and veggies, of spicy and sweet, but it works I tell ya, it really works.

It would brighten up and bring a perfect balance of acidity and flavor to grilled tofu or chicken for a healthy summer dinner. It would also be a great side dish for Fourth of July parties, no refrigeration needed for at least a few hours.

Just be prepared to answer the questions, “How did you come up with this combination? Are you pregnant?”

Rachel’s Kickin’ Melon Cucumber Salad

Serves 6-8 side portions

Ingredients

2 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 c. cucumber, chopped
1 . red onion, diced
2 c. canteloupe or other melon (watermelon and honeydew would both work), chopped

Vinaigrette
3 T. rice vinegar
3 T. agave
3 t. salt
3 t. crushed black pepper
1 t. cayenne

Directions

Mix vinaigrette ingredients and toss with chopped fruit and veggies. Serve.

It’s that easy!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Kickin’ Melon Cucumber Salad
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-rI
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

Becky’s Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”  Tenneva Jordan

I’ve always loved the above quote with its sentimental statement about the selfless love of mothers.  But, to be perfectly honest, I am the type of mother who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly bakes another pie so she can have at least two pieces for herself.

I’m not proud of this, but it is sadly true.  In fact, I did it yesterday.

Let me explain. I made a beautiful blueberry pie, Greg’s favorite, for Father’s Day dinner.  I honestly thought the family had eaten the whole thing.

But yesterday while my husband was away on errands, I woke from a nap feeling suddenly famished. Scrounging around in the fridge I discovered – a ha! – one leftover piece of blueberry pie!  I immediately said to myself, “Now, that is Greg’s favorite pie.  Don’t you want to save that one last piece for your him?”  But my Self completely ignored “I” and ate the pie.  It was delicious.

Then the guilt set in. Thankfully, I had exactly four cups of blueberries left, and an extra two rolls of Pillsbury pie crust.  Before Greg returned, a new pie was in the oven and I looked like a culinary hero, making him TWO pies in two days. That is, until he pressed the issue asking, “So there wasn’t even a single slice of pie leftover from Father’s day, eh?”  I started to lie, but could not do it.  I ‘fessed up, and he gave me a pious “just as I thought” look before taking a bite of warm blueberries wrapped in flaky pastry.

Alas, we humans like to think we are better people than we are.  But I would not trust even the likes of Mother Teresa to avoid the temptation of the last piece of this sumptuous blueberry pie with just the right twist of lemon. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and I doubt even the Pope could resist.

Let me just add this: if you have to make a pie in a hurry to assuage any sort of guilt, I know of no pie as fast and easy to throw together as blueberry pie.  No fruit to cut, you just toss those berries in a bowl, add a few ingredients, dump it into the crust.  Feel free to make your own crust, but if you only have a few minutes to cover your tracks, I’d reach for the Pillsbury refrigerated versions!

Becky’s Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

Serves Six

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

4 c. fresh blueberries  (frozen will work as well but fresh tastes better to me if they are in season, as they are right now)
1 1/4 c. sugar

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. fresh lemon zest

1/4 t. salt

4 T. cornstarch

1 T. butter, cut in tiny pieces

Two unbaked pie crusts

Directions:

In a large bowl, gently toss the blueberries with the next five ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  Line a 9 inch Pyrex pie pan (I prefer the simple Pyrex pans with about 1/2 inch lip) with bottom unbaked pastry shell.  Fill with blueberry mixture.  Dot with butter. Top with other pie crust, fluting the edges. Using a sharp paring knife cut a pattern.  I always like flowers!

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  If edges begin to brown before pie is cooked, carefully and lightly crimp strips of aluminum foil around edges to keep it from getting too dark.  I double test for “done-ness” by sticking a fork into an open slit.  If it comes out coated, as if with syrup, it is probably ready.  If the fork emerges dripping thin juice, it probably needs a few more minutes for the cornstarch and blueberry juice to combine and thicken.
Variation: If you are making a deep dish pie, add another cup of blueberries, another 1/4 cup sugar and another tablespoon cornstarch. You can substitute a teaspoon of cinnamon or vanilla for the lemon if you prefer. Vegans will want to use a pie crust that does not use lard or butter.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-r6
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved