Big, fluffy hydrangeas, lighthouses that once guided whaling ships to shore, an endless blue sea, and the best fish tacos EVER are just a few of the things that keep me coming back to the magical island of Nantucket. Even two of my favorite books of all time, Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund and In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, are set on Nantucket.
If you take the ferry to Nantucket, you’ll receive a warm welcome from the Brant Point Lighthouse, the second oldest light station in the United States.
Tim and I just spent four days on ACK (that’s the nickname for Nantucket) with our friends, Debbie and Bill. Here we are outside a new restaurant in “Town” called The Proprietors bar & table. The menu is inventive, the cocktails a bit bizarre (mine was dusted with bee pollen), and the vibe super hip.
This was one of my favorite dishes on the menu: Halloumi Cheese served with eggplant puree, orange blossom honey, and crispy chick peas.
If you like to ride bikes, Nantucket is the place for you. A bike path circles and traverses the island, connecting most of the beaches. On one of our days there, we rode to Madaket and back, taking a much-needed break on our 28-mile excursion for lunch at Millie’s. I ordered the Smith Point tacos made with grilled shrimp in corn tortillas with tomato and sweet corn salad, guacamole, and chili ranch. I’m not kidding when I say I’ll be spending the rest of my summer trying to recreate this dish!
Hydrangea bushes are blooming everywhere on the island right now. The flowers remind me of big bowls of colored popcorn!
Bill took us fishing on our last day on Nantucket. I actually reeled in this five-pound striped bass. Can you believe it? It was not easy work. I’m happy to report that this gorgeous fish is back at sea and that he did not end up on my dinner table.
The Big Reveal: Tim and I are building a house on Nantucket. I can’t wait to show you the kitchen! It’s straight ahead and to the right, and over the coming months, I’ll be sharing insights into my appliance, plumbing fixture, and cabinetry selections. Stay tuned …
It was a hot and steamy New England day, but Alton, who hails from Atlanta, had no problem handling the heat at the dedication of a new Concord grape vineyard made with cuttings from the original Concord grapevine, circa 1849. A man named Ephraim Wales Bull developed the grape variety that still thrives today … and the very grape that Welch’s uses in their juices and jellies.
We attended the event with our interns June and Lauren, and we spent quite a bit of time chatting it up with Alton.
Alton is as funny in person as he is on TV, and he’s passionate about Concord grapes. Besides their deep, rich flavor, the grape also brings big nutrition to the table.
It’s funny, when we think back to some of our favorite childhood foods and flavors, grape juice comes to mind. As kids, the last thing we thought of were polyphenols, but it turns out that grapes are rich in this powerful, health-promoting antioxidant. Polyphenols keep hearts healthy and minds sharp, and they may also help to boost the immune system. Grape juice is made from the entire grape including the seeds and the skin, which have the richest concentration of polyphenols.
Talk about cool swag: Before we left, everyone had an opportunity to take a Concord grapevine home. Since Liz does NOT have a green thumb, Janice will be planting the vines in her backyard. Stay tuned …
For all the grape science information you could ever ask for, visit the Welch’s wesite. Our colleague, Casey Lewis, MS, RD does a great job outlining the health benefits of grapes.
My Trip to the Culinary Institute of America and a Gluten-Free Recipe for Sweet Potato & Peanut Quinoa Cakes
Last month, I spent a weekend at the gorgeous Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, CA. My trip to the CIA was part of Plant-Powered Eating: The Role of Peanuts in Healthy Diets, a nutrition program sponsored by The Peanut Institute. We sat in on lectures exploring the benefits of adding peanuts to the diet and we cooked a variety of recipes—everything from a deep fried turkey to peanut caramel popcorn—alongside seasoned CIA chefs. My favorite recipe that day was this one for Peanut, Farro, and Mushroom Burgers with Swiss Cheese and Caramelized Onions.
This recipe took quite some time to assemble, and there were more than a few cooks in the kitchen preparing it. So in true Meal Makeover Mom fashion, I set out to recreate the recipe to (a) make it more streamlined, (b) use fewer ingredients, (c) keep it kid friendly, and (d) make it gluten free (something our readers love).
I used Tim and the boys as my guinea pigs, and I’m happy to report that there were no leftovers after dinner.
Fresh herbs including rosemary grow everywhere around the grounds of the CIA, and we used some for the recipe.
Sweet Potato & Peanut Quinoa Cakes
Makes 4 Servings
Peanuts are the most nutrient dense nut. They contain a long list of nutrients including folate, niacin, vitamin E, iron, copper, and magnesium. I love them for their versatility, and I’m especially fond of them in this recipe. The sweetness of the sweet potato is the perfect balance for the flavor of the peanuts, and the quinoa makes these pint-size patties perfect for people on gluten-free diets. To serve the patties, you can do a number of things. Consider melting a slice of cheese on top and serving on slider buns (unless you’re gluten free), or serve on top of a crisp, fresh summer salad. You decide!
- One 8-ounce sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil or expeller pressed canola oil, divided
- 8 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Steam the sweet potato until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, rosemary, and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 1 to 2 more minutes. Season with kosher salt and pepper.
3. Add the mushrooms, quinoa, peanuts, and Parmesan cheese to the mashed sweet potato and stir until well combined.
4. Form the mixture into 8 patties. Heat the remaining oil in the nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Carefully arrange the patties in the skillet and cook until the bottoms are golden, about 4 minutes. Flip carefully and cook until the other sides are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Cook in two separate batches if your skillet is not big enough to hold all 8 patties.
Nutrition Information per Serving (2 patties): 360 calories, 20g fat (4g saturated), 200mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 15g protein, 140% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 10% calcium, 15% iron
Disclosure: I do not work for The Peanut Institute, but my travel expenses associated with the conference were paid for. All opinions and recipe are my own. (Check out my other Napa CIA post featuring Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce.)
I recently returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon for an executive committee meeting of the Food & Culinary Professionals (FCP) subgroup of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I’m the new chair of this 2,700-member organization, and this was our annual planning meeting. FCP’s mission is to empower members to be the nation’s food, culinary, and nutrition leaders, and to that end, we provide a wide variety of educational and networking opportunities. I chose Portland for the meeting site for a few reasons: It’s a great foodie city and we’re all dietitians who LOVE food, three of the 18 attendees are from the area, and I have two sisters who live in the Pacific Northwest.
I devoured so much great food during my trip that I’m not really sure where to begin. OK. Let’s start with food carts. Portland has tons of them including Tabor, voted among the top 10 best food carts in the entire U.S. My sister, Diane, who lives in Portland, insisted we try their famous Schitzelwich.
Here I am with my share of the giant Schnitzelwich—it’s made with breaded pork loin, Ajvar red pepper spread, Romaine lettuce, sauteed onion, and horseradish sauce on ciabatta bread—which my two sisters and I split for lunch!
After our initial FCP meeting and a walking tour of the city, we had dinner at Lardo, a modern sandwich shop that uses local and sustainable ingredients. This Italian Tuna Melt made with provolone, olive tapenade, and shaved fennel was beyond delicious, and I think the side of fries was the best I’ve ever had. (No worries, I shared them with three other people.)
Another culinary highlight was the fried chickpeas at Oven and Shaker. They’re famous for being crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
If you have never tried vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, you are missing out and must add this to your bucket list of foods to try.
After leaving Portland, I traveled to Olympia, WA with Diane and her partner, Nancy. Our mission: to spend a few days with our sister Lori and her husband, Chris. Lucky for us, they own a boat, so we motored up the Puget Sound with Mount Rainier in the distance and spent the night in the beautiful town of Gig Harbor.
Eating salmon tacos on the outdoor deck at Tides Tavern with family was yet another highlight of the trip.
On my last night in town, my niece Jennifer cooked up some amazing Manila clams. She works for Taylor Shellfish Farms and really knows her stuff. Stay tuned, because I plan to invite her to join us as a guest on Cooking with the Moms to talk about tips for choosing and preparing mollusks and shellfish.
On a final note, did I mention that Portland is a beer-lovers paradise? So many microbreweries … and so little time. It was great fun sampling some of the local beers, and we even did our own “Hop Project” beer sampling in Diane’s backyard. Ten Barrel Brewing released a mixed 12-pack of four different IPAs, each made with a different hop. I think my favorite was #2! For those of you who aren’t beer experts, the hops in beer function to balance the sweetness of the malt by providing bitterness. The type and quantity of hops helps determine the flavor profile of the beer.
This was an amazing trip, and I’m already looking forward to returning to the Pacific Northwest. If you want to see more photos of my trip check out our Flickr page.
As registered dietitians, we certainly know a lot about the subject of food and nutrition, and now, after writing this blog since 2007 (can you believe it’s been that long?), we’re working hard to tackle the topic of food photography. One thing we’ve learned about taking pretty food photos is that the background can make a big difference. A while back, Janice’s friends gave us some old boards from their 1800′s New England barn. Then Liz snagged an old weathered piece of wood her husband was about to throw away. Both have become our go-to background boards, and both have been showcased here on the blog many times. But now we’re bored … so we decided to create some new boards DIY style!
To boost traffic to your site, it’s important to take pretty food photos. Gorgeous images of food—whether decadent or healthy—will improve the Pin-ability of your pictures and increase the odds your photos will be accepted to sites like Healthy Aperture, Food Gawker, and Tastespotting. And if you’re like us and spend your days cooking up healthy recipes for families, nice-looking food photos can help to entice kids to try new foods and take that first bite!
Here’s our step-by-step guide to creating DIY food photography boards:
STEP 1: Buy Your Boards. We stopped by Home Depot with our intern, Catherine, and this more-than-eager salesman was happy to show us a bunch of birch “handypanel” boards.
- One 2 x 2 foot, 1/2-inch-thick handypanel board = $7.42 per board
- Three 2 x 4 foot, 1/4-inch-thick birch handypanel boards = $8.52 per board (* The salesman cut each of these boards in half to create two 2 x 2 foot boards. If you do this, tell the guy to use a sharp saw blade to avoid splintering. Several of our boards were splintered at the cut edge, which required sanding).
STEP 2: Buy Your Stains and Paints
- One 2-inch foam brush for staining = $0.77 each
- Three 2-inch bristle brushes for painting = $1.15 each
Paints and Stains –
- Two 7.25-ounce Behr paint samples = $2.94 per sample
Colors = Blue Jewel and Glazed Raspberry
- Two 8-ounce jars of Varathane stain = $5.26 per jar
Colors = Dark Walnut and Sunbleached
- We also used a Benjamin Moore paint color called Palm Coast Teal that Janice had left over from painting Leah’s room.
STEP 3: Stain Your Boards. We hired Janice’s daughter, Carolyn, to help us with the project. She’s home from college and about to leave for an internship in DC, so we took advantage of her two week lull!
STEP 4: Use a foam brush to place stain on one side of board. Wait 24 hours and then either add another coat of stain or brush on a coat of paint. To give your boards an old-time feel, leave room for the stain to show through beneath the paint. Once dry, you can repeat on the other side with stain and a different color of paint. Or, you can stain the board and leave as is.
Half-inch 2 x 2 foot board with one coat of Dark Walnut stain.
Quarter-inch birch board with one coat of Sunbleached stain.
Quarter-inch birch board with one coat of Dark Walnut stain and one coat of Glazed Raspberry paint.
Quarter-inch birch board with one coat of Sunbleached stain and one coat of Blue Jewel paint.
How cool is this? We took this photo with the Camera + app, edited it, and then added a filter in Instagram. The background board had one coat of Dark Walnut stain.
When it comes to your choice of stain colors or paint colors, the sky is the limit. Our goal was to have some boards with stain only and a few boards with stain and paint. We also purchased a 2 x 4 foot black chalk board that we cut in half, so it will be fun to experiment with that. So, for $70.89 in materials we got 9 boards, which should be enough to add a bit of variety to our backgrounds. Moving forward, we would like to create a board with stain plus cream-colored paint and another one in a terracotta color.
We hope you’ve found our tutorial to be interesting and helpful and that you’ll let us know if you end up taking the food photo board plunge youself! There are other tutorials out there on the web including an excellent one by Recipe Girl, and we’ve shared links to many others on our Delicious Photography Tips Pinterest Board.
A Mother’s Day Recipe for Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce … and a Sneak Peek at my Recent Trip to Napa
I’ve never made crepes before—at least not that I can remember—but they’re super easy to make, even if you’re a kid with a dad hovering over your shoulder. These peanut-butter filled crepes are the perfect breakfast-in-bed treat for Mother’s Day … and they’re healthy too! All YOU have to do is copy the recipe and pass it along to your family. HINT HINT!
Many of the crepe recipes I’ve seen are made with lots of butter (yes, I used some, but not much, and I used “light”), filled with all sorts of decadent cream cheese-laden ingredients, and topped with whipped cream. My crepes are a lot lighter, which is something I know you moms will appreciate. They provide a nice helping of protein thanks to the heart-healthy peanut butter and the Greek yogurt, and they’re filled with vitamin C from the strawberries. Plus … they are gorgeous to look at.
The motivation for making crepes was twofold: First, it’s Mother’s Day, and when we asked our Facebook fans what they would love as a breakfast-in-bed surprise for Sunday, crepes topped the list (along with waffles). Second, last weekend, I traveled to Napa, CA for a food and nutrition conference sponsored by the Peanut Institute. We spent some time at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone where a peanut butter crepe recipe was demonstrated. My recipe is a version of that one.
This is the view from my window as we flew towards California. A feast for the eyes!
A chef at the CIA demonstrated an interesting technique for making crepes. She suggested blending the crepe batter ingredients—a quick way to get everything incorporated—and said the key to crepe success is a nonstick pan. You can certainly use a lot less butter that way.
Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Topping
Makes 6 Servings
Peanuts are one of nature’s most nutrient-rich foods. Hmmm … where to begin? They contain vitamin E, which research shows boosts the immune system and lowers heart disease risk. They also contain more arginine (an amino acid) than any other food; arginine improves circulation and may help to lower blood pressure. And studies indicate that when people include peanuts and peanut butter in their daily diets they have lower BMIs and body weight. The nutrient analysis for this recipe is per crepe, and I suggest you serve it with lots of fresh, sliced strawberries on the side. (Recipe adapted from the Culinary Institute of America.)
- One 12-ounce bag frozen organic strawberries (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch, divided
- 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
- 1 large egg (preferably an omega-3 egg)
- 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons light butter, melted, divided
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 3/4 cup 0%-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
- Sliced fresh strawberries for topping, optional
- Powdered sugar, optional
1. Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and a pinch of the salt, in a small or medium saucepan. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to cook at a low boil, stirring every few minutes, until the berries break down and the mixture is nice and syrupy, 15 to 20 minutes. To speed things up, use the back of a spoon to smoosh the berries against the side of the saucepan as you stir.
2. Remove the berries from the heat and transfer to a bowl (you’ll have about 1 cup of sauce). Let cool to room temperature, or cover and place in the refrigerator for later use.
3. To make the crepes, place the milk, egg, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of the melted butter, 1/8 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a blender and blend until smooth and all ingredients are incorporated.
4. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly brush the pan with a bit of the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Place a scant 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan and swirl to form an even layer. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned, 60 to 90 seconds. Use a spatula to flip the crepe and cook an additional 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate and cover with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter. (You can make the crepes ahead of time, cover, and place in the fridge. Before assembly, simply heat each crepe for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
5. To assemble, spread 2 teaspoons peanut butter on each warm crepe. Spread on about 1 tablespoon of the strawberry sauce. Fold the crepes in half and then in half again to create a triangle. Top or serve with Greek yogurt, the remaining strawberry sauce, and sliced berries and powdered sugar as desired.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 crepe): 200 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated), 150mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 9g protein, 40% vitamin C
Post a comment and let me know what you had for Mother’s Day!
Disclosure: I do not work for the Peanut Institute, but my travel expenses associated with the conference were paid for. All opinions and recipes are mine and the scientific research addressed in this post is based on peer-reviewed, published studies.
Most of us would probably entertain more often if someone else did the food shopping for us and then stopped by to prepare, serve, and clean up the mess! It takes hours to plan and implement a spectacular dinner party … hours most of us don’t have in our busy lives. As much as I love to cook and entertain, which I do fairly often, it was great to recently host a dinner party for local foodies on behalf of the Tri-Lamb Group AND have it catered by Miss Fork, a boutique catering company in Stoneham, MA.
Chef Julie served up samples of my Barbecue Lamb Sliders which one guest declared as, “mad good.” I’m a big fan of lamb not only because of the flavor and the fact that it’s nutrient rich, but it’s also surprisingly lean (especially the leg, loin, and rack) with an average 3-ounce serving containing only 175 calories.
Every item on the menu was inspiring, but the Armenian Lamb Kufta and the Mediterranean Lamb Loin Chops with Quinoa Salad were show stoppers!
Liz certainly enjoyed the Mediterranean Lamb Loin Chops with Quinoa Salad!
Boston-area food bloggers were invited to the dinner including Shannon from Tri to Cook, Christine from America’s Test Kitchen, Kathy from Kathy Can Cook, Pam from Cave Cibum, and Rachel from Fork it Over Boston.
Fellow RD and author Carolyn O’Neil (on the left) was in town from Atlanta to receive the Nutrition Science Media Award for 2013 from the American Society for Nutrition, so I was thrilled that she was able to join us. Here she is along with Allison Beadle from the PR firm Salt & Co.
If these lamb kabobs have you yearning for more, be sure to try my Sweet & Sour Lamb Meatballs. Stay tuned for my Barbecue Lamb Slider recipe on the blog in the coming days…
Disclosure: Janice was compensated for recipe development and media work by the Tri-Lamb Group
Kitchen Makeover Update: I Host an Open House for the Contractors and Builders Who Worked on the Project
My kitchen makeover took six months to complete, but do you know how many people it took to make it happen? The answer: A lot! It took a village to make my dream kitchen a reality … from the architect, excavators, framers, roofers, and siders to the countertop/appliance/cabinet suppliers, plumbers, electricians, tilers, painters, and general contractors. To thank everyone for their hard work and commitment, I invited them to an open house in my new kitchen last weekend.
A few of the key people who helped with the kitchen makeover are Randy from Sears/Kenmore, Paul from Paul John & Son Roofing, Dave the tile guy, Billy the plumber, Tom the general contractor, Alberto and Jorge from Paul’s Professional Painting, and Tom #2 (Tom’s sidekick), the guy with the colander on his head!
I made two slow cookers full of our Pulled Pork Primavera Sandwiches, and they were devoured. You may recognize Tashia, one of our past Boston University interns, who came early to help me organize the pantry and then helped shred the pork.
Randy, the awesome Sears sales associate who helped me pick out my Kenmore appliances, was impressed with the double oven.
In addition to the builders, I invited my many neighbors who endured months of trucks on the street, our messy yard, and construction noise. There were 52 people who showed up, and it never felt crowded in the space!
My kitchen makeover would not have happened without these two guys: Tom Moylan and Tom Roy. They were fixtures at my house for six months. Some days I miss seeing them, but most of the time I’m glad they have moved on so I can cook and entertain in my new kitchen!
My parents have hosted every major holiday since I was born … and well before that too. They’re the ultimate entertainers, and they throw a party like no one else I know. Mom sets her game plan weeks in advance, and she and Dad set their beautiful dining room table days before their doorbell rings … and rings … and rings.
Mom and Dad on Easter 2012. Unfortunately, my dad didn’t make it to Easter dinner this year due to a medical issue. Luckily, we live close by so we were able to send over a nice plate of food — (lamb and asparagus are two of his favorite foods) — and we called him a few times throughout the day to cheer him up.
All this holiday entertaining doesn’t happen without a lot of effort on my parents’ part, so I decided it was high time I stepped up to welcome my family here for Easter. After all, I have the space now in my new kitchen, and I have a brand, spanking new Kenmore double oven, which makes cooking for a crowd so much easier than life before my Kitchen Makeover.
We fit twelve people easily around my new Pompanoosuc Mills extension table, and Don and I could have fit two more on the ends if we needed to.
I made a lovely raisin sauce to go with our ham that I adapted from a Farmland Foods recipe I found online. I cut back a bit on the butter and sugar and used cornstarch instead of flour, and it was very tasty. (Yes, I did use a bit of rum.)
One of the highlights this year: My brother Jeff brought a whole leg of lamb that he cooked in his new smoker. The flavor was amazing.
Scalloped Potatoes, Maple Glazed Carrots, Grilled Asparagus, Smoked Leg of Lamb, and Honey Baked Ham were on the menu at Chez Bissex this Easter.
In addition to family, holidays are about friends, and I was delighted that Nancy (right) stopped by for Easter dessert and Shirley (left) invited me over to her house the day before Easter to try her family’s awesome pizzagaina (a traditional Italian dish made with eggs, meat, and cheese).
It wouldn’t be Easter dinner without the “Lamby Cake” that our family friend Lucy makes every year. Gotta love our holiday traditions!
I couldn’t resist sharing this photo of my two girls. Leah was so happy when her big sister, Carolyn, came home to celebrate the holiday.
The second Passover seder is tonight, though I must admit that I celebrated the holiday early this year. Over the weekend, we visited my family in Connecticut where we sat down to my mom’s best-in-the-world matzo ball soup and my niece’s hardest-in-the-world-to-find afikomen. I made two vegetable side dishes for the meal: Roasted Fennel and Carrots with Pecorino from the Food Network’s Giada De Laurentis and a Sweet Potato and Apple Kugel from Martha Rose Shulman of the New York Times. Now that I’m back home, I thought it would be fun to treat my immediate family to a new recipe tonight for Mushroom Matzo Kugel.
Fresh herbs can turn a simple side dish into something sensational!
Use regular or whole wheat matzo. If you can’t find cremini at your local market, use portobello or button mushrooms.
Mushroom Matzo Kugel
Makes 12 Servings
Kugels are often sweet, but once in a while, I like to cook up something more savory for Passover. This kugel is made with matzo — use whole wheat if you can find it at the market — and lots of chopped up vegetables. The herbs add a flavor punch and look lovely as a garnish.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 medium carrots, shredded on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 cup)
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 10 matzos, broken into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cups all-natural vegetable broth
- 4 large eggs, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their liquid and the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley and thyme.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, place the matzos in a large bowl. Add the broth and stir to combine. Stir every minute or 2 until the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the matzo mixture to the cooked vegetables and stir to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the eggs. Transfer the matzo mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake, uncovered, until set, about 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil after 30 minutes if the top of the kugel begins to brown too much. Garnish with additional parsley and thyme.
Nutrition Information per Serving: 180 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated), 220mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 6g protein, 40% vitamin A
My sister, Amy, hosted Passover this year. We had my mom’s matzo ball soup, and Josh, who is turning 18 in less than a month, ate us out of house and home. (See plate piled high with kugel, mashed potatoes, brisket, green beans, and salmon!)
Josh, Tim, and Uncle John on the left / John, Simon, and Cousin Andrea on the right. (Hey, I just noticed the cell phones on the table. Those teens better not have been texting…)
Wishing everyone who celebrates a happy and healthy Passover.
Many of you know that Don and I have been working on a major kitchen renovation for the past six months. My mom, whose spectacular cooking and entertaining skills have inspired me to do what I do, turned 80 as our project was winding down. My siblings and I had talked about a surprise birthday party for Mom, but the challenge was that she hates surprise parties! So, we decided to compromise — we didn’t invite a gaggle of friends — by hosting a low-key surprise dinner party in my new kitchen with just us “kids” and Dad. Don served as bartender, photographer, and host, but otherwise it was just the seven of us.
Diane, Denise, Mom, Dad, me, Lori, and Jeff celebrate Mom’s birthday in style. Diane and Lori live on the west coast, so it’s always a special occasion when we are all together.
My beautiful Pompanoosuc Mills table had not yet arrived, so we brought our coffee table into the kitchen dining area and ate there! Smoked salmon and spanakopita held everyone over until dinner was ready.
We chose a menu that we could eat on our laps and that didn’t require cutting. Asparagus risotto happens to be my Dad’s specialty, so he and I cooked it together. Don grilled chicken breast halves and sliced them thin so they were easy to manage. It was a thrill to cook on our big Silestone island, look out, and still be part of the party.
Check out Dad seasoning the risotto with kosher salt and my sister Diane sneaking more butter into my gorgeous Le Creuset French Oven. Don’t think I didn’t see you Diane!
Don snapped a shot as I roasted asparagus in my new Kenmore double oven. Stay tuned for an upcoming Cooking with the Moms podcast with more details on the kitchen renovation and the materials Don and I chose for the project.
Here is a sneak preview of my new kitchen. Come visit and cook with us!
Cooking Classes at the Culinary Institute of America … And a Recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote
Any time I can go to Napa Valley — for business or for pleasure — I jump at the opportunity. When the Food & Culinary Professionals (a sub group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) announced plans for a culinary workshop at the Culinary Institute of America, I think I was the first dietitian to sign up! On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, I share the delicious details from my trip, and I serve up two new recipes: this one for Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote and another one for gluten-free quinoa guacamole.
This olive oil cake may seem rich and decadent, but according to a new study on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, eating EVOO every day can help to protect against cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The Culinary Institute of America has amazing facilities for classes with tiered seating and video screens. Hmmmm. And I thought the big island in my new kitchen was impressive!
What fun to start the day with an extra virgin olive oil (AKA fresh fruit juice) tasting. Heat and light are enemies of EVOO, so be sure to always store it in a cool, dark place.
The sweetness of the blueberry compote adds a luscious, family-pleasing flavor element to this awesome dessert.
Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote
Makes 12 Servings
I ate lemon cake like this one at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, and it was so delicious that knew I wanted to make it when I got home. When I looked at the recipe and saw 2 cups of sugar, 1½ cups of oil, and all white flour, I felt a mini makeover was in order, so I cut the oil and sugar in half and replaced half the white flour with whole wheat flour. I also created a blueberry compote for an added burst of great nutrition. To make this cake even prettier, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
- 3 tablespoons lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 cups frozen wild blueberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9-inch springform cake pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter and set aside. (If you don’t have a springform pan, use a 10-inch cake pan and cook about 5 to 10 minutes less.)
2. Whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, yogurt, milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and whisk until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and slowly add the liquid ingredients, stirring until just combined and lumps are gone. (You may need to use a rubber scraper to smoosh the lumps against the sides of the bowl.) Do not overmix.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is just pulling away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake to a serving platter.
5. To make the blueberry compote, place the lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside. Place the blueberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, add the cornstarch mixture, and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.
6. Serve each cake slice with the compote, and sprinkle with powdered sugar as desired.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 slice with 1½ tablespoons compote): 320 calories, 16g fat (2.5g saturated), 200mg sodium, 41g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g protein, 10% calcium
In the “before” recipe, each slice has 500 calories, 30 grams total fat, 5 grams saturated fat, and 55 grams carbohydrate.
Every time I go to a culinary workshop at the Culinary Institute at Greystone in Napa Valley, I want to stay forever. It’s a food lover’s paradise
Most people come home from vacation with a snow globe, a piece of local art, or even a few seashells. The souvenir I nabbed on our recent family vacation to Amelia Island, Florida, however, was this gorgeous antique plate. I’m a pushover when it comes to pretty blue dishware, so I couldn’t resist nabbing this beauty from a local antique shop on the island.
Amelia Island is located in northeast Florida. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the Jacksonville airport, so it’s easy to get to. The island is close to Georgia, so being on Amelia brought back memories from my years living in Atlanta. The trees drip with Spanish moss, the beach-side sand dunes rise as high as 60 feet (see my photo below for NaNa, the tallest dune in Florida), and the island’s historic district of Fernandina Beach dates back to 1811.
During our vacation, we stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, which was just a boardwalk away from the beach. Tim and the boys spent a lot of time on the golf course … while me and my shadow spent hours walking along the lovely beach.
The inland marshes in the area are ideal for long kayak adventures. Tim and I paddled around in this two-man kayak one sunny afternoon while our boys hung back with their fishing rods, eager to snag a local fish. (They were skunked on this day but managed to catch and release a couple of fish at the beach.)
A few words on the food ….
The Ritz offered an all-you-can buffet each morning with everything from sausages and grits to lox and cream cheese with bagels. After recording our podcast with Danielle Nierenberg from Food Tank, I decided to go for the à la carte menu and helped myself to a simple yet filling bowl of oatmeal each morning. I’m trying to reduce my personal food waste, which is why I kept my morning meal minimal. The hotel offered up plenty of beautiful berries, dried fruits, and local honey from their very own bees.
The Ritz Carlton is home to Salt, a restaurant that boasts contemporary American cuisine. The menu reflects what’s grown and caught locally, and dozens of natural and infused salts are served with the meal and as accents to the meal. For example, I ordered the Local Flounder with Gnocchi, Spinach, Piquillo Pepper, and Grapefruit, and it was served with Adriatic Citrus Salt.
Executive Chef Rick Laughlin serves up one creative menu. Tim and I loved our meal which included Key West Pink Prawns with Grits, Green Tomato, Goat Cheese, and Balsamic, the Local Flounder, and Dark Chocolate Souffle with Salted Caramel Ice Cream and White Chocolate Cream Anglaise for dessert. We also had Florida Snapper with Calypso beans, Clams, Braised Kale, and Rouille and the Grilled Romaine Salad. And yes, I was full after the meal
My favorite place to walk during our time on Amelia was American Beach, home to NaNa, the tallest dune in Florida. The American Beach community was established in 1935 during segregation when black citizens were not allowed on other area beaches. Today, the area and its majestic dune are protected.
Okay. So maybe it was a wee bit cold during our trip. But hey … we’re hearty New Englanders so we handled it well. All in all, it was a great trip of fine food, fun adventures, and lots of outdoor fitness.
I spent a few glorious days in Napa Valley recently for the Food & Culinary Professionals‘ culinary workshop at the Culinary Institute of America. Wow, that’s a lot of culinary in one sentence, and I certainly experienced a lot of culinary magic during my time there. In an upcoming Cooking with the Moms podcast, I’ll be talking about my trip, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few tidbits and a fabulous recipe that I sampled.
One highlight of the workshop was a visit to the new studio kitchen of Cheryl Forberg, RD (dietitian for The Biggest Loser TV show) where I sampled this High-Pro Guaco from her latest book, Cooking with Quinoa for Dummies.
I had seen Cheryl’s kitchen a couple of years ago when construction began, and it was amazing to see the finished product. Having just completed a six-month renovation of my own kitchen, it was great fun to compare notes! Just when I thought I had a big kitchen suitable for videos and cooking demos, Cheryl’s kitchen knocks it out of the park; it seats an impressive 50 people. What an amazing place to cook.
Makes 3 Cups
You can serve this as an appetizer with tortilla chips or as a side dish or lunch. I sampled this gluten free, quinoa-filled guacamole at Cheryl’s house, and I was delighted when she packed up a container for me to take on the airplane ride back to Boston.
- 1 cup cooked black quinoa
- 3 ripe Haas avocados
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup drained, diced canned fire-roasted tomatoes or diced fresh tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Chipotle Puree*
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
1. If you don’t have cooked quinoa on hand, cook the quinoa according to package directions and set it aside to cool.
2. Halve, seed, and peel the avocados; then dice them into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the diced avocado and the lime juice in a medium-sized mixing bowl and toss gently to coat. Set aside.
3. In a small mixing bowl, combing the fire-roasted (or fresh) tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, Chipotle Puree, and salt. Mix well.
4. Add the tomato mixture and the cooked quinoa to the avocado cubes. Toss gently and serve immediately with corn chips.
*To make the Chipotle Puree, puree one 7-ounce can chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce with 1/4 cup water in a blender or food processor until smooth. Store leftover puree in the refrigerator for up to a month and use a teaspoon or two to spice up your recipes.
Nutrition Information per Serving (2 tablespoons): 46 calories, 3g fat (1g saturated), 55mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g protein
Here I am taking a picture of Cheryl’s flock of chickens, known as the ”girls.” I’m a little jealous of Cheryl’s relaxed life in the beautiful countryside of Napa Valley. On my final night of the trip, I stayed with Cheryl and savored a fresh, hard-cooked egg for breakfast, courtesy of one of these lovely ladies.
Here is what you might eat if you spent the night at the home of the dietitian for The Biggest Loser TV show: quinoa breakfast cereal with nuts, a locally-grown kiwi, a fresh hard-cooked egg, and a steaming cup of cappuccino. I can’t wait for my next trip!
Our blog readers know that I have a special affinity for Julia Child (see our 100th birthday tribute post and podcast), so when I traveled to DC last month to shoot cooking videos for the Tri-Lamb Group, I decided to arrive a bit early and visit the new Julia Child exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History. I spent over two hours in the exhibit, and loved every minute. I think the fact that it took Julia Child over ten years to complete her first cookbook and that she started her TV show when she was in her 50s, serves as an inspiration to me (IE there is still plenty of time to accomplish big things)!
Everything appears exactly as it did in Julia’s kitchen when she moved, and it’s essentially how I remember it when I visited back in 1994. (Notice the silver skillet behind my head!)
I was in Julia’s kitchen during a luncheon served by Chef Daniel Bruce from the Boston Harbor Hotel, and she was gracious enough to have her picture taken with me. I mailed her an 8 x 10 enlargement of the photo and she signed it, “Bon Apetit! Julia Child.” The signature got smudged in the envelope, but I love it just the same.
Clearly I am not the only one obsessed with Julia Child since my new friend Sarah also sat for over an hour watching old Julia Child videos. Check out our Meal Makeover Mom Flickr page for lots more photos of the exhibit and my time in DC.
Now back to the reason I was in DC in the first place. I’m doing some work for the Tri-Lamb Group helping to educate consumers about the versatility and health attributes of lamb. For example, did you know that on average, a 3-ounce serving of lamb is lean, nutrient rich, contains 23 grams of protein, and only has 175 calories? I developed two family-friendly recipes, and while I was in DC, I joined fellow dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield to shoot cooking videos of the recipes … including this one for lamb meatballs.
Cook up these Sweet & Sour Lamb Meatballs for your next gathering and I guarantee they will be devoured in minutes
Sweet & Sour Lamb Meatballs
Makes 8 Appetizer Servings (about 32 meatballs)
- 1 pound lean ground lamb
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely diced (about ½ cup)
- 3 scallions, white part only, finely chopped (reserve the green tops for later)
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, lightly oil or coat with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.
2. Combine the lamb, egg, bread crumbs, bell pepper, scallion, soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and pepper in a large bowl and mix until just combined. Shape the meat mixture into thirty two 3/4-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheet and cook until lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place the hoisin sauce, honey, vinegar, and the remaining ginger in a large bowl and whisk until well combined.
4. When the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the bowl and toss gently until well coated with the sauce. Slice the remaining green scallion tops into thin rings. Place the meatballs on a serving platter, insert toothpicks if you have them, and sprinkle with the scallions and sesame seeds.
Note: Serve meatball appetizers with small cubes of fresh pineapple. Meatballs can also be served over whole wheat egg noodles with a side of sautéed vegetables such as red bell peppers, snow peas, and cauliflower.
Nutrition Information per Serving (4 meatballs): 180 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated), 270mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 16g protein, 20% vitamin C
Shooting cooking videos is an all-day affair; it requires many support people and lots of equipment.
My make-up artist was wonderful (and so appreciated). Did I mention that she’s also done hair and makeup for President Obama?! I bet my hair took longer to style than his did!
Disclosure: Janice was compensated for her trip to DC and recipe development by the Tri-Lamb Group.
College Students Learn to Cook … And a Recipe for Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans (Podcast #210)
Both of us were graduate students at Boston University, so the school is near and dear to our hearts. We also get a lot of smart and talented nutrition interns from B.U. including Bianca (standing in the photo below second from the right with a gray shirt and white apron), who spent some time with us last summer. Turns out that when Bianca isn’t interning, she’s a full-time student at B.U. who also happens to work part time for the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we dish about the SC Test Kitchen, which brings college students together each week to talk, cook, taste, and learn and where new and nutritious recipes are tested out before ending up (or not ending up) in the B.U. dining halls.
Every Wednesday, professor Karen Jacobs (left) invites students into her apartment — which also happens to be in one of the B.U. dorms — to prepare a recipe provided by the university’s team of registered dietitians. We stopped by to check out the action, meet some of the students, and nibble on the evening’s creation: Penne Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans.
All hands on deck! Between the garlic and the basil, Karen’s apartment smelled great. While no student randomly ambled in, Karen does leave her apartment door open during test kitchen gatherings; everyone is welcome.
Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans
Makes 8 Servings
The dietitians with Sargent Choice Test Kitchen chose this recipe from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger. The consensus among the group was that the dish needed more flavor and that it would be better in the summer when tomatoes and fresh basil are at their peak.
- 6 to 8 large ripe tomatoes (about 4 pounds)
- 12 large cloves garlic, papery outermost skin removed, but left unpeeled
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini or other white beans, low-sodium
- 1 box (13.5-ounce) whole wheat penne pasta
- 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves cut into ribbons
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
2. Slice each tomato into 8 wedges and discard the seeds. Put the tomato wedges and garlic in a large roasting pan or cookie sheet, toss with 4 tablespoons of the oil, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste. Roast, uncovered, until the tomatoes lose their shape and become slightly charred, 35 to 40 minutes.
3. Drain the beans in a large colander in the sink.
4. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in the colander containing the beans, so the hot pasta water warms the beans. Return the drained pasta and beans to the pasta pot.
5. When the tomatoes are done, carefully pick out the garlic cloves, squeeze the garlic out of the skin into a small bowl, and mash with a fork. Add the lemon juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper, and stir to combine.
6. Transfer the roasted tomatoes to the pasta pot, and add the garlic-lemon mixture and basil. Toss to combine. Serve topped with the Parmesan.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1½ cups): 460 calories, 14g fat (2.5g saturated), 68g carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 18g protein
Rumor has it that the Sargent Choice Test Kitchen will be testing some of our Meal Makeover Mom recipes in the coming months. We’ll be sure to link up to Bianca’s blog with the students’ feedback. (Our fingers are crossed that the recipes are well received!) PS: Karen Jacobs is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. She’s written a wonderful book called, How Full is Sophia’s Backpack?, a story that illustrates the relationship between siblings, one of whom is autistic.
Those of you who follow our blog, listen to our Cooking with the Moms podcast, or know me personally are no doubt aware that I’ve been knee deep in a major kitchen renovation since last August. It’s been an exciting journey, but like most home improvement projects, a big-time challenge. Indeed, washing dishes in the bathtub got old after a week, never mind after five months. Don and I are now so close to kitchen completion, we can practically smell the cookies baking in our new Kenmore double oven!
You have to start somewhere. This is what our kitchen looked like last summer when the construction crew dug out our kitchen foundation. Last week was a thrill, when the countertops, sinks, and faucets were finally installed.
Check out our new island, countertop courtesy of Cosentino. The Silestone surface is made from natural quartz, a hard surface that is scratch resistant and non porous, so it’s naturally stain resistant and doesn’t need to be sealed. In other words, it’s maintenance free. We chose a color called, Lyra, and a leathered finish.
When my architect friend, David, saw the kitchen island he said, “That’s not an island … it’s a continent!”
Cosentino also makes an award-winning line called ECO, made with 75% recycled materials — things like glass bottles, mirrors, ash, and ceramics. We used ECO for our main countertops in a color called, Iron Ore. Don’t I look happy?
Will from Gerrity Stone was responsible for the installation of my countertops.
The folks at Kohler were kind enough to provide the faucets and sinks for the kitchen renovation (this made my plumber happy since he told me Kohler was the best quality). These materials have been in our crowded basement for weeks, and it was so cool to finally see them installed. It will now be a huge pleasure to wash dishes
Has anyone undergone a big renovation in their house? Any stories to share? If you want to see more photos of the kitchen renovation visit The Meal Makeover Moms’ Flickr page.
Every year, Janice attends her neighborhood cookie swap, and every year, she raves about it! Well, this year, she finally invited Liz. The reason: Janice’s kitchen is still in the midst of a major renovation and she has no working oven. Instead of showing up empty handed, she kindly invited Liz along … as long as Liz made six dozen of our Monster Cookies. LOL. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we take you behind the scenes at Janice’s cookie swap, share our better-for-you Monster Cookie recipe, and chat with some of Janice’s neighborhood cookie-loving friends! Read on for highlights … and for a gingersnap cookie recipe from Janice’s neighbor, yoga partner, and best friend, Mary.
Every year, Mary brings gingersnaps to the cookie swap. The mix of spices — ginger, cloves, cinnamon — says “holiday” in every bite.
Makes About 30 Cookies
Mary’s original recipe called for shortening. Over the years, she changed things up by swapping the shortening (high in trans fats) for canola oil. Maybe next year we can convince her to swap half of the white flour for whole wheat!
- 1 cup granulated sugar (plus extra sugar for rolling the cookies)
- 3/4 canola oil
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
1. Whisk together sugar and oil. Whisk in molasses and egg. Mix in sifted dry ingredients. Chill dough.
2. Roll into small balls, approximately 1 to 1½ inches. Roll in sugar. Place on un-greased cookie sheet, or on parchment covered sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees. They will puff up slightly while baking, then flatten and crinkle on top.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie): 120 calories, 6g fat 0(g saturated), 85mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 1g protein
Gathering cookies at the end of the night makes you feel like a kid in a candy store.
Janice’s next door neighbor, Brooke, made these decadent Chocolate Mint Brownie Bites from The Pioneer Woman. Yowza: That cowgirl loves her butter!
Ruth, Mary, and Carolyn (all long-time swappers featured in interviews on this week’s podcast), gather cookies to take home.
Many thanks to Maureen for hosting the cookie swap and to the ladies from the best neighborhood in Melrose, MA for baking such luscious holiday treats. Hope you all loved our Monster Cookies as much as we loved your creations. Happy Holidays everyone!
I’m not going to lie. Going into our fifth month without a kitchen and with only the living room for food prep, eating, doing homework, watching TV, playing piano, and reading has been a big-time challenge. Toss in an emergency appendectomy for 13- year-old Leah and well … let’s just say we are all ready to get our lives back to normal!
In the midst of all the kitchen chaos, one night last week, Leah complained of severe stomach pains, so we took her to the ER. After many hours and many tests, they determined that she had an appendicitis. Early the next morning, Leah went into surgery. I spent the night “sleeping” on a cot — predictably uncomfortable — and Leah pulled through with flying colors. Today, she was able to go back to school. Phew!
Imagine my delight, after spending the night in Leah’s hospital room, when a ‘caregiver’s breakfast’ was delivered. Poor Leah was still on clear liquids! Thank you Winchester Hospital
Now for some exciting news (not that the appendectomy wasn’t exciting). Kenmore came forward recently and generously offered to provide appliances for the kitchen makeover. Kenmore recognizes the importance of helping busy families eat a healthier diet — something we’re obsessed with here at The Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen — and they’re eager to support this project. We plan to use the kitchen to shoot cooking videos and to take food photos (and maybe even do some cooking classes), so I look forward to supporting Kenmore and all the folks who helped make the almost-new kitchen a reality.
This double oven looks like it’s ready to bake some delicious Meal Makeover Mom cookies. Can’t wait!
The other good news is that the floors went in last week. Don and I knew we wanted bamboo because of it’s sustainability, so we chose Teragren bamboo flooring. As a company, they are also environmentally conscious. We chose a dark floor called Teragren High Tea to offset the white cabinets. Looks like I may need to use a Swiffer mop every day to keep it clean!
As difficult a process as this has been, it has been made exponentially easier due to the support of family, friends, and neighbors who have had us over for dinner, baked us cookies, and kept us sane (you know who you are!).
My friend and neighbor Moe came over last week with three of her four boys to deliver a dinner of pasta with red sauce, salad, and garlic bread.
You know you live in the best neighborhood in the world when you call your neighbors and ask them to get a pot of water boiling so you can come over and cook up some pasta. That’s exactly what I did with Joe and Pat. Not only did they oblige my request, they followed up with a delivery of homemade bread, which Leah devoured!
To give you an idea of what my house has been like these past months, I took a short video when my ovens were being delivered:
While our builder Tom from Moylan Building and Remodeling hangs a cabinet with help from his cohort (“Tom2″) and the electricians, Steve from Gerrity Stone measures for the new Silestone and ECO countertops.
Some last random photos of our progress: our amazing general contractor Tom Moylan with the ductwork for the downdraft vent, an array of tools required to build the kitchen, and our island before the cooktops are installed.
Wish me luck, and I’ll post again when the next phase is completed!
There’s nothing better than a good ol’ fashioned cookie swap, and this year, we took part in the granddaddy of ‘em all. Thanks to two dedicated bloggers, Love & and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen, the second annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap welcomed well over 500 food bloggers from around the world. As part of the swap, we were given the names of three fellow food bloggers, Hannah from Cats and Commas, Ali from Cheater Bites, and Jackie from Just Add Milk, and then we sent each of them a dozen of our homemade Monster Cookies. In return, we received three dozen cookies from three other food bloggers: Kelley from The Culinary Enthusiast, Janet from A Cook at Heart, and Kristin from Nanna’s Cookbook. How fun is that?!
To participate, we made a $4.00 donation to Cookies for Kid’s Cancer, a non-profit organization that raises money for pediatric cancer research. To thank us (which they really didn’t have to do), OXO sent us a Be a Good Cookie spatula.
For our makeover, we swapped the usual butter for heart-healthy canola oil, tossed in dried cranberries, used chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (they look like little ornaments and they’re naturally colored), cracked open three Eggland’s Best eggs (gotta love the extra omega-3, vitamin D, and lutein), and added just one cup of brown sugar for all 40 cookies. We used lots of oats too, which are downright nutritious!
Monster Cookie Makeover
Makes 3 Dozen Cookies
Here at Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, we’re all about taking popular recipes and giving them a healthy and delicious makeover. We recently asked our Facebook fans which cookie they’d like us to make over and Monster cookies came up several times. This recipe was inspired by a Monster Cookie recipe we found on The Pioneer Woman and another one from Paula Deen. As you can only imagine, the original recipes had LOTS of butter! We hope you love our butter-free, better-for-you-but-just-as-luscious makeover. Happy holidays!
- 4 cups quick-cooking oats
- 3/4 cup chocolate sunflower seed drops (we found them at Trader Joe’s)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup peanut butter
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil or coat two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Whisk together the oats, sunflower seed drops, cranberries, chocolate chips, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until well combined.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in the peanut butter until the mixture is smooth. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened.
4. Working in batches, scoop the batter using a 2-tablespoon cookie scooper and place on the prepared baking sheets, flattening slightly with the heel of your hand to create circles, about 2½ inches in diameter. Leave about 1 inch between each cookie.
5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, about 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring the cookies to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.
For the “BEFORE” nutrient analysis, we used The Pioneer Woman’s Monster Cookie recipe with 2 sticks of butter:
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie): 200 calories, 9g fat (5g saturated), 160mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein
Here is the nutrient analysis for our “AFTER” creation with 1/4 canola oil!:
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie): 130 calories, 7g fat (1.5g saturated), 95mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein
The cookies were shipped to Liz’s house (no worries, she shared with Janice), and you can’t imagine the excitement Liz felt when the packages arrived. (Bottom left of the montage to bottom right) Amaretti Cookies from Nanna’s Cookbook, Double Chocolate Biscotti from The Culinary Enthusiast (great for dunking in hot tea), and Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares from A Cook at Heart.
Many thanks to Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for organizing The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. Count us in for next year! As for this year’s recipes, Here’s a link to Recipe Roundup Part 1.