Friday, December 02, 2016

Concord Pear & Raspberries: School Lunch Idea!

Pears are a favorite at our house.  D'Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, and Concord are currently in stock at my local grocery store.  Instead of the usual apple in the lunch box I have been switching it up with a raspberry-filled pear half.  The Concord travels very well and does not brown.  The taste is sweet and the texture is buttery.  I like the skin which has a little bit of chewiness but not too thick/tough.
These can be prepared the night before but if you like to make lunches in the AM it can be prepared in less than a minute.  All you need is a spoon and a knife to prepare. Use the spoon to scoop out the seeds leaving a perfect space to fill with raspberries.  Use a knife to cut out the stem.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving Preparations

My Mom's Roast Turkey
My husband made our Thanksgiving celebration absolutely perfect by adding a heated tent a few years back.  It has become a tradition and the best way to celebrate with 30 people at one long table! I just love it and love him for doing this for our family.  I hope you are way ahead on your preparations and I hope some of my recipes will make your job a little easier.  I got lots of feedback last year and over the past few days and it gives me so much joy to hear that so many friends are cooking up My Mom's Roast Turkey!  It is so easy and always turns out perfect.  Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo

Claire's Thanksgiving Menu
Pumpkin Pie (to be posted)

Cranberry Sauce

Butternut Squash Casserole
Make-ahead Gravy
Brown Rice with Leeks
Spinach, Fennel, Apple, & Pecan Salad
Old Fashioned Carrot Salad
 French Apple Tart
French Apple Tart

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sugarnut Squash with Black Beans, Basil, & Chevre + Bonus Recipe

I don't know if these are just tiny butternut squash but the sign at My Organic Market read, "Sugarnut Squash".  They were just too cute to pass up!  You can see just how tiny they are in the picture above next to a clementine and an avocado.  The taste turned out to be just like butternut squash and at our house that is a winner.  I adore the tiny size of this squash which allows for the perfect individual serving.  This recipe would be just as wonderful using a full-size butternut squash - - serve the large halves on a platter and then slice for servings.  I plan to add this to my Thanksgiving buffet. This recipe is hearty and delicious and will be a nice option for the vegetarians in my family.

Sugarnut (or Butternut) with Black Beans, Basil, & Chevre
three sugarnut squash or one butternut squash
one 15-ounce can black beans
handful of fresh basil, chopped
6 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Prepare Black beans using this recipe (can be prepared up to several days in advance)
Slice squash in half, scoop out seeds, drizzle cut side with oil, salt & pepper and place cut side down on parchment lined baking sheet or casserole dish - bake for 35-45 minutes at 375 until squash is cooked through and skin is easily pierced with fork or small knife.
Remove cooked squash slices from oven, allow to cool for a couple of minutes then place cut side up on platter.  Fill squash with black beans and top with basil and chevre.  Serve warm with roasted romaine (see BONUS recipe below).

 BONUS RECIPE: My BFF Sarah prepared romaine this way when we ate dinner at her house recently.  An alternative to cooking on the grill - when roasting in the winter just throw the sliced romaine hearts onto the roasting pan for a couple of minutes after your items are done (i.e., after I took the sugarnut out of the oven I added the romaine hearts to the baking sheet and they roast in the juices from the cooked squash.)  Remove and serve with anchovies - DELICOUS!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Chia Seed Pudding with Fruit Compote

This has become a favorite snack and breakfast at my house.  If your family is like mine then they love foods with texture like tapioca pudding and bubble tea.  The chia seeds work as a thickener in the same way as tapioca.  The texture is very similar to tapioca in pudding or the larger tapioca pearls at the bottom of bubble tea.  My youngest is an expert at homemade bubble tea and makes a very authentic Thai Tea with bubbles.  Will need to coax her to let me post her recipe! ;)
You can add fresh fruit to this pudding but I like the texture of a fruit compote mixed with a little fresh fruit.  This pudding is delicious with fruit or without.  Enjoy.

Chia Seed Pudding

12oz to 14 oz of unsweetened coconut milk
5 Tablespoons of chia seeds
3-4 Tablespoons Agave Syrup (or to taste)
1/2 pint of organic raspberries (Cook half of the berries in saucepan with a teaspoon of water for about 1 minute or 2 until they break down and release their juices.)

Pour coconut milk into large quart-size measuring cup or a medium-size bowl.  Whisk in agave syrup and chia seeds - whisk for a minute or 2.  That's it!  Pour mixture into small jars or ramekins and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


Friday, September 02, 2016

Power Lunch in a Jar!

I just have to say "WOW"!  This recipe is the easiest one on my blog and I would say it is probably the most delicious lunch recipe, too.
I was inspired to put this together as a new lunchbox option.  It went over very big with my kids.
It looks beautiful, tastes yummy, and is packed with protein.  Two friends tried it this week and both requested that I post the recipe.  Jocelyn enjoyed it for breakfast and Mary loved it at lunchtime.
The very best part is that it is a make-ahead recipe (a few days in the fridge is fine).

Power Lunch (or Breakfast!) Jars

Red Quinoa
Chick Peas from 15 oz. can, drained
Hard Boiled Egg (see directions for the perfect hard-boiled egg here)
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Cook quinoa according to package.  Usually it is 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water - bring to boil, turn down to simmer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Once quinoa is cooked remove it to a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.  Let cool to room temperature while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.*
See how to make hard boiled eggs here.   You may prepare the eggs several days in advance and store in refrigerator (peeled or unpeeled).  They will keep longer unpeeled.
Cut egg in half and sprinkle yolk side up with salt and pepper.
Peel cucumber and chop to small size dice.
Slice avocado in half, remove pit, and cut into small dice.

Fill small (8 oz) mason jars or Weck jars in this order:  1-2 tablespoons quinoa, couple teaspoons chickpeas, teaspoon avocado, teaspoon cucumber, half an egg.  No need to be exact!  Pack in as much of each item as desired.
*If you want more flavor add to quinoa: a little olive oil and fresh lemon juice, fresh herbs, cooked lentils, roasted nuts, dried fruit,  - whatever you love!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Chia Seed Granola Bars

We are trying recipes everyday at our house but in the summer I rarely turn on the oven.  It's just too hot to bake!  This recipe uses the stove top just a little bit so you need not worry about heating up your kitchen.  These are very hearty and I particularly love the crunch of the chia seeds.  We love chia seeds at our house and after trying several brands we very much favor the hearty Mayorga brand. Mayorga chia seeds are all black, non-GMO, and Farmer Friendly.
These little bars are great for packing in lunches or as an after-school snack.  Cut them as small or as big as you like!

Homemade Chia Seed Granola Bars
2 ½ cups old fashioned rolled oats
½  cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
1/3  cup honey
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons chia seeds (I prefer Mayorga Brand)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper. 
Combine the oats and roughly chopped almonds to a small baking sheet then bake 7-10 minutes until lightly toasted or golden brown. (If it is summertime and you don't want to heat up your kitchen there is no need to turn on your oven.  Put the oats in a large saute' pan and cook over medium heat, shaking pan or stirring occasionally until toasted.  Do the same with the almonds.)  Transfer toasted oats & almonds to a large bowl.
While the oats and almonds are in oven, combine the butter, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla, and chia seeds. Pour the butter mixture over the toasted oats and almonds and add the cranberries. Mix well. Let cool completely for ½ hours then add the chocolate chips. Stir to combine. (I did not wait long enough and my chocolate chips melted…still tasted great but I would rather there be bits of chocolate throughout each bar.)
Transfer the oat mixture to prepared pan. Using a rubber spatula firmly press the mixture into the pan until the mixture is in a uniform layer. Transfer the entire pan to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.

After the granola has cooled completely, gently lift it out of the pan using the parchment paper as handles and cut it into squares or bars.  I keep these stored in the refrigerator and add to lunches or have ready for after-school snacks.  Yum!