Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween over the years










Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fall Adventures

Last weekend we had to drive out to Palm Desert and back in the same day.  We decided to break up the trip with a detour to Oak Glen to do some apple picking.  Unfortunately when we got there, we found out that due to the drought and low crop yield, apple picking (especially the U-Pick) was over for the season.  After being pretty disappointed, the girls got to taste some different varieties of apples, sample cider, watch the cider press, and at least get out of the car for a little while.

At $15/bag, it wasn't exactly farmer's market prices, but we did buy some apples to make Dad a belated birthday apple pie.  In the past, we've gone to Los Rios Rancho and Riley's Farm, but this trip we stopped at Snow-Line which had some yummy smelling BBQ, hard and regular cider, wine tasting, antiques for sale, and apples galore.

We also went pumpkin picking (well, picking out, not picking from the vine) at Cal Poly Pomona's pumpkin patch.  We didn't go to the pumpkin weekend which is usually super crowded but they still had lots of pumpkins left ($5/apiece for any size) and it was fun to watch the girls decide which pumpkin was "perfect" in their eyes.

Back at home, we celebrated the arrival of slightly cooler weather with making some soup.  I know I've had many versions of broccoli soup and green soup in the past, but this was a riff on a popular family recipe - roasted broccoli.  If you don't make this for your family, try it tonight - just do the roasting step of the broccoli and serve with parmesan cheese (or you can leave it off).  I added more lemon juice than the recipe calls for and wished I hadn't, so try a little at a time.  But, I liked the overall result and it's pretty clean eating.  It reminded me more of the asparagus soup I make than other creamy broccoli soup recipes I've tried and I'm sure we'll be making it again!

Roasted Broccoli Soup (serves 4)

Two large heads broccoli
1 head of garlic
1/2 onion, diced
4 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 T lemon juice
grated parmesan
olive oil
salt and pepper

Slice just the top of the head of garlic off (leaving the cloves still tucked inside).  Drizzle the top with olive oil and wrap in a piece of foil to make a packet.  Roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Separate the broccoli into florets and place in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread into a single layer on a large rimmed cookie sheet and add to the oven after the first 20 minutes with the garlic.  Cook another 20 minutes (the broccoli will take 20 and the garlic will take 40).

When the garlic and broccoli are done roasting, put the broccoli into a pot on the stove and add the onion, broth, and thyme.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the broccoli is really soft.  Add the cooled roasted garlic cloves to the soup.  Blend in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth.  Taste and add salt and pepper and the lemon juice.  Serve with grated parmesan on top.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Greek Summer Pasta

I can't believe I'm writing this, but with temperatures still regularly in the 100s, it's been almost too hot to cook.  I made a batch of pumpkin muffins last week, and some banana bread over the weekend but in the evening, I am hot and tired and turn to some of my summer supper tricks.  This can be served warm or cold and it's delicious!

Greek Pasta Salad (2 servings)

1/2 lb bowtie pasta
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1/2 c. chopped kalamata olives
1/2 c. crumbled feta
1.5 cups cooked chicken
3 cups chopped fresh baby spinach

Greek Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp dried basil (or 1 T chopped fresh)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or 1 tsp. chopped fresh)
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
3 T lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Make vinaigrette by combining all ingredients and whisking in a bowl or shaking up in a glass jar.

Cook bow tie pasta according to package instructions.  Toss with the rest of the ingredients.  Add Greek vinaigrette until it looks moist enough.  Serve with more vinaigrette on the side.  The vinaigrette will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What's for breakfast?

In summer, I really slack off and let the girls eat cold cereal most mornings for breakfast.  Now that they're back in school, I try to change it up and usually make eggs once a week, pancakes once a week, and have homemade granola as another option besides cereal.  I also buy healthier cereal than what I let them get away with during the summer.

That being said, this #3 has a mind of her own.  She's obsessed with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.  She wants a small bowl of it every morning . . . but then usually proceeds to eat a second breakfast of whatever her sisters are having.  I found a healthier version with less sugar at Sprouts (it looks similar - squares covered in cinnamon sugar - so she's okay with the substitution).

I recently tried to change up my own breakfast routine of coffee and a greek yogurt by making a hot quinoa dish and by trying to drink a green juice before having my coffee in the mornings.  I do feel a lot better with something healthier in my stomach but it takes a little extra effort.

I made the quinoa dish when I was taking a break from sugar for awhile but I'll let you in on a little secret - it's way, way better with a tablespoon of brown sugar or a swirl of maple syrup!

Hot Breakfast Quinoa (2 servings)
from Cooking Light 6/13

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup light coconut milk
2 T water
1 T brown sugar (optional)
1/4 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raspberries (or other berries)

Combine quinoa, coconut milk, water, and brown sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked.

Toast the coconut in the oven or on the stovetop until slightly brown.  Top the quinoa with the coconut and raspberries (or any other fruit / nuts etc. of your choosing).  Eat warm.