Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pumpkin Pie for Breakfast

I love making larabars.  It is a snack I have blogged before, that my kids adore.  I keep looking at the store for the new flavors to make them myself at home.  This year they added pumpkin pie to the lineup.  This was great for several reasons: first I always have a partial can of pumpkin this time of year since most recipes only call for half a can, it is a great seasonal flavor snack or breakfast, and I love the smell of the spices and fruit in this.  It smells like Thanksgiving. 

First thing to do is to take that partial can of pumpkin and spread it really thin on a silicone baking sheet or cookie sheet lined with parchment.  This is important, don't skip it!  Bake it at 250 until dehydrated.  You could use a dehydrator if you prefer, but this doesn't take long.  Let it cool.  Crumble into the food processor with 1 cup pitted dates, 3/4 cup cashews and 3/4 cup sliced almonds, 1/4 tsp each: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice.  Follow same procedure for regular larabars.  You could use seeds instead of nuts.  These taste like pumpkin pie and are so good.

To make them festive I made them look like little turkeys!

 I used sliced almonds for tail feathers, and slices of pitted dates for the head.  These are for breakfast for Thanksgiving with a fruit platter made to look like a turkey.
Hope you have a delicious and amazing Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tumeric Tea

2 cups water
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 cardamom seeds
4 tbsp milk
Maple syrup

Add water, tumeric, ginger and cardamom to small pot, bring to boil.  Reduce heat and summer for 5 minutes.  Add milk.  maple syrup to taste.   Makes enough for 2.  Or one really thirsty person.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Greek Dinner: Souvlaki, Tzatziki, and Roasted Potatoes

First I want to say how much I love this meal.  everyone in our house adores it, is is super healthful, and quick and easy.  The only thing that needs to be done ahead is to make tzatziki.
 Super easy:  Small dice a lot of cucumber, I like at least 3/4 of a big English cuke.  To that add some lemon zest (optional) lemon juice (not optional, a tablespoon or so) a tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, and herbs.  I always add fresh parsley and dill (fresh, dried, or in this case paste all work well), sometimes I add mint or chives, whatever floats your boat that day.  Mix in enough yogurt to make it look like this, and don't forget salt and pepper.

 For the potatoes, preheat oven to 400, and drizzle some olive oil on a cookie sheet. Cut some potatoes into nice large wedge shapes and drizzle with more olive oil and heavily season with Penzey's Greek Seasoning.  If you like Greek then just buy a huge bag, worth it just for these.  Roast at 400 till golden brown and crisp outside, tender and fluffy inside.  These are amazing.

 Greek salad, romaine, good Greek olives, feta, cucumbers, tomatoes and the Greek salad dressing recipe on the Penzey's bottle, except I often use lemon juice instead of vinegar.  Rich likes to add pepperoncini peppers, I am not as big a fan.

For the souvlaki, heat a large frypan on the stove to medium high and heat olive oil while you chop the chicken breast small.  Season well with the Greek seasoning and brown in the hot olive oil.

While the chicken browns chop up a mountain of onions and bell peppers, all fairly small.  Don't mince it, but still small.

Add the peppers and onions to the browned chicken and continue to saute until all is cooked and browned.  The onions should be soft and golden, the peppers should still have a bit of bite.  Be sure to season liberally with the Greek seasoning as you cook, and add more olive oil if needed.  After it all gets brown squeeze in a bit of lemon to help get all the browned bits up off the pan.  Adds such amazing flavor to the souvlaki.

This is one of my family's favorite meals.  We always start with our salad and then pile the tzatziki sauce on top of the souvlaki and dunk potatoes.  Alternatively we serve it with white rice, souvlaki on top of that, all covered with tzatziki.  Delicious!!

Third Annual Game Of Thrones Food Day

 I was so excited to start cooking yesterday.  I got up early and started blackberry walnut yeast bread.  I then made honey butter to go with it, and lemonsweet.  (Recipes are either from the Game of Thrones cookbook, or adapted from them or my own recipes based on the literary descriptions.)

 Then once the bread was baking I started on fingerfish (aka, fancy fish sticks) and Dornish eggs.  Dornish eggs my way, sauteed onions and lots of peppers.  I used poblano, cubanelle, green bell and orange bell peppers.  Seasoned and sauted until still a bit crisp but mostly tender.  I topped them with chopped hard boiled eggs and cheese.

 The whole breakfast was rounded out with the lemonsweet (lemonade made with honey and herbs), a blood orange, and a pear.  I think that this was the best breakfast I have ever had, anywhere.  I am making it again, soon.  The kids LOVED it, and I wasn't sure how they would react to fish for breakfast, but they want it again.
 We were actually so full from breakfast that we skipped lunch, but I made date apple orange oatbread, and apple stuffed rolls.
 Pease porridge, which tasted far better than it looks I assure you.
 Buttered carrots and parsnips, amazing.
 Buttered beets, always a favorite.
 Interior of amazing apple stuffed rolls.

 Roasted chicken, and roasted apples.
 Oh the sweetcorn fritters, they were so delicious.

One of our favorite meals so far.  Next year though, I am making beef and bacon pie, Sansa salad, and some of the recipes from the new Dornish chapter that I just got on the kindle.  I may decide to have another feast for the season finale, since this was so much fun!  Plus I still have so many recipes I want to try.  I also forgot to take pictures, but I made lemoncakes, and they were also amazing.  Next I want tarts.  Lots of pies and sweets :)  Definitely doing a feast for the season finale.  What do you think I should make?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

House Cleaning

One of my New Year's resolutions was to thoroughly declutter the house.  I knew I couldn't do it without a plan, so I found a great one.  I luckily discovered A Year of Decluttering Missions.  There is a great calendar with 15 minute daily missions, and I choose some days to do more.  There are great articles on how to declutter, how to organize, and other cleaning information.  It has helped me so much.  The house feels lighter and freer, and it is much easier for me to keep it clean.

I also have a general cleaning schedule each week to help keep everything under control.  I have made it a priority to keep things neat and tidy, without going crazy about it.  I vacuum and mop twice a week, more if needed.  I dust once a week, and deep clean the bathroom once a week.  Every day I wipe out the sinks, scoop the litter, wipe down the table and counters, and do some laundry.  Once a week I clean the fridge out, clean the garbage cans, clean all the mirrors and change the beds and bath towels.  The kids help with some chores too, and it has made a big difference.

I have found that the house smells fresh most of the time, just by combining the wonderful natural cleaners and this cleaning regimen.  When is gets a little smelly I spray my homemade essential oil air freshener and it takes care of it quickly and easily.

We have cleaned out so much of the basement, and gotten rid of many things we had been holding onto for too long.  After many trips to Goodwill and lots of bulk trash pick ups we feel finally like our possessions are not possessing us, and we are really starting to feel so much more control in our home.  We are starting to hang more things on the walls that we want to see, and we are getting rid of knick knacks that we don't LOVE!  My new rule is that if it gives me stress to find a place for it, its place is outside our home.  We have gone through and organized all our curriculum materials, and started using more of them.

We also replaced all of the mini blinds, which makes a big difference in how clean the house looks to me.  And perception is a lot of it.  The house feels less full, and more tidy, and that makes it easier for me to feel comfortable here, and easier for me to clean.  I know I get overwhelmed with clutter, so I knew clutter needed to go.  Once I got started it got a lot easier.  The first few things were hard to let go of, but the more I put in the give away box, the better I felt.  Now we are very particular on what we keep.  We don't have an attic, and I refuse to pay for storage, so we need to simply have less.  I am finding that a little bit of minimalism is improving everybody's moods.  CJ and Eliza are having a much easier time keeping their rooms clean.  That has been a load off my shoulders.

I am looking forward to warmer weather so that I can declutter and thoroughly clean the car, the deck, the porch, and the garage.  And of course to get started on yard work.  I want this summer to be full of outdoor fun in our yard.  I want to have a big party with a ton of kids running around in the sunshine.  With green growing things all around, and not much work to do in the house.  And I feel well on the way to making the dream a reality.

Sunday, March 8, 2015


The last week of February we took our first real vacation that the kids will remember.  Usually we just see how many educational day trips we can cram into a week, or do something fun like clean the basement for vacation.  Not this time I tell you, I needed some warmth, and a few days without cleaning, cooking, or planning.  We went to Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg MA.  Water park, arcade, ropes course, and magiquest.  It was AMAZING!!!  We had such a great three days, and I never shivered once, even when in the hot tub in the snow.  It has made us all more patient with each other at home to have had some great family time together.  And I was surprised at the price, it was expensive, yes, but less so than I thought, and we were lucky enough to find a groupon.  Woohoo!  We went to Newbury comics on our way up, and brought new books and graphic novels for all of us to read while there, because we are that nerdy, and we spend hours just reading quietly.  And we saved a little money by bringing stuff to have breakfast and lunch in the room.  There are fridges, coffee makers, and microwaves in each room so that was pretty easy.  We only ate one meal a day at the Lodge, and that was at the buffet meal each night.  We spent a ton of time in our bathing suits on the water slides and laughing like crazy.  Now we all want to make it a yearly vacation.  I am so on board with that.

 View from our room.  See that giant funnel thing?  Most terifying water slide I have ever been on, especially as we did it at night and it was pitch dark.   Eeek, I still shake when I think of it.

 Ropes course.  In case anyone wonders, no I did NOT go up there.  No way.

And the kiddos being knighted for completing their Magiquests, it is like my first LARPing for kids.  We all had a blast.  The pictures don't do it justice, mostly since I didn't take too many pictures.  I was too busy having fun with my family.