Strawberries with Mint and Balsamic Reduction

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Change. It can be scary. And exciting. Maybe a little bit uncomfortable. But it usually ends up being a good thing. You grow. You learn. You discover. You experience something new and different.

Next year is going to be all these things for my family.

We are going to be spending the school year in

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Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

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These are slightly addictive.  A  two thumbs up kind of bar, according to  my son, Max, which says a lot.    He calls them the best granola bars.  And yes,  that makes me a happy mama.

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It took a few tries because his skeptical mind wouldn’t allow him to like them on the first try.  He started with one thumb slightly tilted downwards and my heart sank slightly.   I have been working this this recipe for a couple weeks and it was really only his opinion that mattered.   But I asked him to try it again and he gave it a thumbs 3/4 of the way up.  And then he asked me for bar.   And then another bar and then…he have them 2 thumbs up.     It’s not that I want Max to eat granola bars all the time, but when he does I would prefer that he eats the one’s I make, where I can pronounce all the ingredients and know what exactly is in them.

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He is my picky eater.   Not just healthy food picky.   He is equally picky about his treats. Or just about trying new things.   We are working on having an open mind about things.  To go into a situation thinking you might possible like it, otherwise nothing stands a chance.    It’s a hard concept to grasp, even for adults.

But it is his lunch that I have to pack, his soccer practice snacks, his opinion that matters most.   Of course, I sincerely hope you all enjoy them too.   And I am happy that my husband, Eric, has taken such a liking to them.    There is currently one granola bar left in the jar in the refrigerator.    I wonder which of them will get to it first.

With this recipe,  I may forever be done buying store bought granola bars. Read the rest of this entry

Radicchio wrapped Quinoa, Fennel and Avocado

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I just got back from a two hour hike with my friend, Dina.   It was so nice to catch up and be outside.   We are only starting to experience spring in Crested Butte.

This is what it looked like outside last week…

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And this is what it looks like this week!  Ahh,  much better.

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I prefer to exercise outside but it’s not always an option.   From cold weather to my two little munchkins,  I often workout on my treadmill.    I will occasionally watch  a Grey’s Anatomy episode or John Stewart while exercising but more often than not,  I watch cooking shows.   It’s true.    Something about it doesn’t seem right but I do…From Giada De Laurenttis, to The Pioneer Women, to David Rocco’s Dulce Vita I get inspired to cook as I exercise.   David Rocco’s show takes place in Florence  so I get to reminisce about the amazing year I spent living in Florence- almost 17 years ago!   That can’t be right?  Gasp…

My kids will wander in from the playroom and look genuinely interested in what they are cooking on the TV.  Or else they just love TV and will take whatever show they can get.   I am going to stick with my first thought because I want them to love cooking.  I am trying hard to instill in them a love of cooking.   Max is always asking what my favorite this or that is.   He knows my favorite food is pesto and that it is made using basil.   He recently tried it (after some pleading and maybe a little bribing) and said he “sort of likes it but isn’t in the mood for it right now.”   I’ll take it but I am not sure what happened because  when he was one or two, he loved it.   Did anyone else have a pretty good eater and then suddenly they stopped eating anything with a complex flavor?

Anway, the other day Giada was making a chicken salad stuffed in pasta shells.   It looked delicious but I didn’t have all the ingredients and I wasn’t interested in making pasta.  So  I took portions of that recipe and turned in into this.  Read the rest of this entry

Tuna and Kalamata Olive Salad

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It’s been a while.   It is really nice to be back on the blog.   I  hope you are all enjoying Spring wherever you are.   I just returned from 2 amazing weeks at the beach and feel so refreshed and ready to go.   Early morning walks on the beach are one of my favorite ways to start the day.  I am going to miss that fine white sand on my toes.

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Spring at 9,000 feet is always interesting.  It was nice to see almost of all the snow melted from our driveway when we got home and a warmish sunny day to greet us.   The kids were a little disappointed that their sledding hill disappeared while we were away but they got over it pretty quick as we played soccer outside and played at the park.

So some of you might be surprised to see a recipe for tuna and wonder if you are on the right blog.  Well, you are.   Aside from being busy this winter in my ceramic studio and with the kids,  I also starting eating meat again.   I have been eating wild salmon for a while but expanded to other fish and meat.   I can’t really explain all the reasons except that I was listening to my body and well,  apparently it was craving chicken.   I was cooking chicken for Eric and the kids one night using salt, pepper and coconut oil on the stove and as I was cutting it up for the kids, I popped a piece in my mouth.   It was good,   Before I knew it,  I ate a whole piece!   And then slowly I starting eating it here and there.   We were driving to Denver one day and stopped for lunch and I was craving a tuna fish sandwich.   I hadn’t had one in several years but the craving was really intense.   So I decided to listen to my body and go for it.    That’s really how it came about.     Some of you may be surprised it wasn’t bacon that turned me.   Well,   I have enjoyed some of that too.

This blog will still be a mainly vegetarian food blog as that is what I mostly eat and cook but who knows where life and food will take me…

I am very conscious of where my meat comes from, just as I am about where my eggs come from and my vegetables and other food.   I look for non-GMO labels on food packages and I usually stick with vegetarian food when I eat out in order to avoid factory farmed meats.   I order a lot of our vegetables and meat from a nearby farmer so I know the source of my food and how the animals were raised.   I am still adamantly opposed to factory farming and think it is truly important to be aware of where our food comes from.

So there you have it.   And now for the recipe.

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This is quick and easy with lots of healthy ingredients.   I made some version of this several days while we were on the beach.  It’s great for a picnic lunch!  Parsley is not just a garnish in this recipe.  Parsley is packed with Vitamins C and B, it is great for inflammation, cleansing, and it packed with folates and anti-oxidants.   I have started to throw a handful of parsley in my morning smoothies.    The Kalamata Olives and Capers add a nice bite to this salad while the Currants and a touch of sweetness.

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Tuna and Kalamata Olive Salad (serves 2)

 5 oz. Can Wild Tuna in water

1/4 Cup Kalamata Olives (pitted and roughly chopped)

2 tsp Capers

1-2 TBSP Dried Currants ( or Raisins)

1/4 Cup Parsley (chopped)

1 Celery Stick (finely chopped)

1 TBSP Organic Mayonnaise

1/2 tsp Mustard

pinch of salt and pepper

Lettuce or crackers

To make: Add tuna and celery to a bowl and mix together.  Add mayo and mustard, salt and pepper and mix.  Add olives, capers, currants and parsley and mix well.

Enjoy over lettuce, in a sandwich or with crackers.

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Red Pepper Soup

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Has any one else had the beach on their mind lately?   Let me tell you it has been co-old around here.   Last week around 11am the thermostat in my car read -6 degrees and I thought, “wow, it’s warmed up 20 degrees already.”    This week is considerably warmer but I have our beach vacation all booked for April.    Until then,  I will enjoy the snow and the beautiful blue sky days.

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We are deep in soup season.    And the upside of the cold weather is spending time inside a warm house, cooking.    I made some vegetable broth last week, which I try to do every few weeks or so – it is really so easy.  And it is a good way to use up any vegetables that might be on their way out.   I chop up an onion, a couple carrots and a couple stalks of celery and roast them in a baking sheet with a little oil for about 20 minutes.   Then I put them in a big pot filled with boiling water and cook the broth over medium heat for about 45 minutes with some salt and pepper.    Strain and pour into containers to freeze or use in the next few days.   It was just what I needed for this soup.

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Years ago I used to buy boxed organic red pepper soup that was pretty tasty.  I don’t buy canned or boxed soup anymore, especially not when they are so easy to make.    I saw a great recipe on EatingWell.com that inspired me.  This soup is better than the boxed soup, of course, and doesn’t take more than 30 minuted to make.    The jalapeno adds a nice spice but if you don’t like spice, or are making this for your kids you might want to leave that out.

As for spices,  fresh is always best.   If you have spices in your cabinet that have been there for years, they probably aren’t good anymore.   Buying spices in the bulk section of the market is great because you reduce waste.   Just buy a little bit so the container of cumin, for example, isn’t still in your cabinet 5 years later.  If you are so inclined, you could experiment with nutmeg.   But a fresh, whoole nutmeg and with a cheese grater or zester, grind the nutmeg and compare the smell to the container that has been in your cabinet for a while.   I took a cooking class once and the chef said he doesn’t keep spices for more than a year and goes to his mothers house every year and throws out all her old spices.   I am not going that far, but it’s  good to take notice of your spice cabinet.  For this recipe I used whole cardamon pods and ground the seeds in a coffee grinder.   It added really great flavor to this soup.   And the smell was wonderful.

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If you have a nut allergy, try replacing the pistachios with sunflower seeds or raw pumpkin seeds.

The most time consuming part of this recipe is shelling the pistachios.   I find it meditative though.  It’s also something older kids can do!

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Red Pepper Soup  (serves 2-4) –takes about 30-40 minutes

(adapted from eatingwell.com)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 small onion, diced

2 large red bell peppers, seeded and diced

1 jalapeno, de-seeded and diced

2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios

2 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons heavy cream,  mascarpone, or creme fraiche

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro or basil

To Make:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, bell peppers and jalapeno. Cook until the onion is lightly brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionaly. Add paprika, salt and cardamom and cook, stirring, until the spices are very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add pistachios and broth (or water). Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat; let cool 5 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. (Be careful when pureeing hot liquids.) Return the soup to the pot.

When serving, add a dollop of cream to each bowl of soup and sprinkle with cilantro and a few chopped pistachios.

Cauliflower Rice with Artichokes

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I  was experimenting a little bit with being grain-free just to see how I felt and saw various recipes for cauliflower rice on Paleo websites.  It is one of my new favorite things of 2013- although just to be fair I don’t have many new things in 2013 yet.  But still.  All you do is put your cauliflower in the Cuisinart until it is finely blended and saute for a few minutes.  Genious.

Are any of you grain-free?  It is an adjustment but I do notice a difference in how I feel.   I have been wheat free (again) for the last few weeks and mostly grain free but not totally.   As someone who loves to bake, that poses a bit of a problem- until Almond Flour came into my life.  I was a little obsessed with almond flour this holiday season and cooked probably a dozen things from this cookbook- almond flour pizza crust, almond flour quiche, almond flour biscotti (dynamite!), almond flour pancakes…it’s good stuff and a great alternative to wheat flours and less healthy gluten free flours.

Anyway, now I have an alternative rice to add to the mix.   This is a quick and easy side dish – takes 15 minutes tops- and you can add whatever flavors you like.   Read the rest of this entry

Orange Dark Chocolate Almond Flour Scones

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This is what I plan on enjoying Christmas morning as I watch my kids tear open wrapping paper in a mad fury.  I can dip these scones in a cup of tea or coffee and read the paper…wait what?   I mean I can show my excitement for what Santa brought as I bite into this chocolate orange deliciousness.

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These are made with Almond Flour which is very nutritious and full of protein and fiber.   It is not a flour that can easily be substituted in other recipes though.   This recipe is from elanaspantry.com which is a recipe blog focused on baking with almond flour and other grain free recipes.    As someone who loves to bake but has been trying to move away from wheat flours and even gluten-free blends which are not very nutritious, this is the best news!   I just bought her cookbook Read the rest of this entry