Thursday, April 28, 2011

Carrot Cake Breakfast

Testing week in elementary school.  I understand the need to measure learning and collect data to improve teaching methods, but I picture a room full of 7 year olds trying to concentrate on a piece of paper for more than their attention span is capable.  How accurate are these results, really?  Not that I could come up with a superior system.  Anyway, the first grader came home from school last Friday telling me I needed to make something healthy for breakfast every day this week.  With a smirk, I agreed.

My first thought was vegetables :) I had made this interesting cereal a few times before, I thought it was surprisingly good, but 2 out of 5 family members did not agree.  I adapted it slightly using the ingredients for carrot cake as my inspiration and came up with a new version that we could all enjoy.  Next time I think I will make it parfait style, layering the carrot mixture with the yogurt mixture.  Testing, what a great excuse to try new recipes.

1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 ½ cup grated carrots
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup raisins
½ cup shredded coconut

Combine yogurt, honey, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and chia seeds.  Mix well and let set up 5 minutes (or overnight in the fridge).  Toss carrots, nuts, raisins and coconut in a bowl and top with yogurt mixture.
links; Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Things I love Thursday, Cooking ThursdayFoodie Friday, Fightback Friday, Simple Lives Thursday, Things I Love Thursday, Frugal Friday, Finer Things Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Recipe Swap, Sweet Tooth Friday

Monday, April 25, 2011

Herbed Smoked Salmon Yogurt Cheese Spread

Have you made yogurt cheese?  It is a great way to make your yogurt thicker to any degree.  Just pour into a fine cheese cloth, tie the ends, let it hang and drip into a bowl (I use a wide vase)  A short drip of 2-4 hours will just give you a creamier yogurt like a Greek yogurt.  4-6 hours yields a great sour cream replacement that makes great veggie dips.  To make a cream cheese consistency, you will need to drip for 6 hours, open cloth, scrape, stir and turn contents to loosen, then drip 4 more hours. For this recipe I used a cheese somewhere between sour cream and cream cheese.

4 ounces smoked salmon
1 small shallot, finely minced
¼ cup fresh herbs, minced
4 ounces yogurt cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour to let flavors meld.  Spread on a fresh English muffin.
links; Hearth and Soul Hop, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Monday Mania, Happy Homemaker Monday, Menu Plan Monday

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spinach and Feta Frittata with Puff Pastry Topping

I love holidays for the opposite reason most people do.  I dislike buying things, so shopping for Easter baskets, candy and toys for the kids take a backseat and get little thought.  Visiting an Easter bunny is all a big joke to me.  I hate spending time on extravagant projects for the perfect centerpiece.  I loathe dying eggs and honestly, am not too fond of big family gatherings.  I love my family, just much rather enjoy them one on one than in a huge group.

So what’s there to love?  Peace.  There are no demands from the outside world.  Nobody expects me to go to meetings, rushing here and there or get anything substantial accomplished.  The phone is silent (except for happy greetings from distant family), the doorbell goes dormant, therapies and other reoccurring appointments are canceled.  I can focus on the kids, cook up a storm and maybe even gather enough treasure around the house with last season’s plastic eggs for an egg hunt.  Low key.

What are your Easter plans? 

How about serving up something special on Easter morning?  Though frittatas are like the lazy cook’s quiche, they are great for using up leftovers and a quick new way.   With puff pastry and lots of sharp cheese, this version is has quite the stage presence. 

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
½ pound spinach
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced
6 eggs
1 cup feta cheese
½ cup cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ batch puff pastry, cut into 3x3 pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large oven proof fry pan (12 inch cast iron), melt butter and sautee shallot.  After 1 minute wilt spinach thoroughly and add oregano.  In the meantime, whip eggs with cheeses, nutmeg, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Pour mixture over spinach, mix gently to distribute spinach evenly.  Place pastry pieces on top of eggs.  Brush with egg wash or cream and sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.  Bake for 20 minutes.
links; Works for Me Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Things I love Thursday

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Vertical Growing

 All pumped for my next class!  One of the things that saved me in my efforts to garden was vertical growing.  Living on a city lot, I do not have a lot of space to grow all the many desires of my heart.  Also, my neighborhood is established, so we have big trees that are great for electricity but really limit growing space.  I am so limited in my yard that I have exactly one area that gardening is even possible and wouldn't you know it gets shade from our neighbors huge palo verde tree from 1pm on?

Contrary to Arizonian belief, vegetable plants produce best when given full sun all-day-long, NOT afternoon shade.  20% shade cloth directly above your plants helps when growing through July and August, but morning AND afternoon sun is so, so important.

I learned these vertical growing methods from Jim Kennard, President of the Food For Everyone Foundation at a garden seminar I attended a couple years ago.  It has changed my gardening methods drastically for the better.  This picture up top shows the perfect set up, however it is not my own.  I have had to cut some corners because of time, money and skill level. The picture below is of my own garden last June, with my son and his fresh picked tomato that he stuffed with something, it was his own recipe.

I am offering 2 classes on vertical growing that will also include the important skill of pruning. By using these methods in your own garden, you are sure to increase yields and success in your garden.  Contact me at to register.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Buzzing in the Garden

This is the time of year that nothing can keep me out of the garden.  I put off doing so many things in the house just to go out and do some pruning, weeding, planting, transplanting, watering and fertilizing.  I am really getting behind, I need to have some discipline!

Right now the whole backyard is buzzing with bees.  They are everywhere, but especially love the blackberry bushes.  I am typically pretty relaxed about the constant hum in my ears.  Next month we will receive 2 bee packages that will be placed in vertical box "Warre" hives and have our own colonies pollinating our garden.  Which means we will have over 100,000 bees working on some delicious backyard honey!  I really hope they are as friendly as all the bee's currently buzzing around my garden because I like the fact that I have never been stung.

Good work, little guys.  You have given us a lot of berries to look forward to.
links; Works For Me Wednesday, Things I Love Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring 2011 Class Schedule

At last, it is staying lighter later in the evenings, which opens up my final set of classes this season.  I will be repeating the three gardening classes for all those who have day time conflicts.  Please register early, if I do not have at least four people registered on the day before the class it will be cancelled.  

As always, these classes will be held at my home in East Mesa. Contact me via email at with questions or to register. Tell your friends and receive a free blackberry shoot. When they register, make sure they mention you sent them.  Class fee will be collected at the start of class. No children please.

The 13 nutrients all plants need.
Monday, April 11 from 10 to 11 am
$10 per person

Vertical Growing and Pruning
Get more from your vining crops.
Monday, April 18 from 10 to 11 am
$10 per person

Kefir 101
Get started with water and dairy kefir
Monday, April 25 from 10 to 11 am
$15 per person

Garden Planning
What, where and water.
Thursday, April 21 from 6 to 7 pm
$10 per person

The 13 nutrients all plants need.
Thursday, April 28 from 6 to 7 pm
$10 per person

Vertical Growing and Pruning
Get more from your vining crops.
Thursday, May 5 from 6 to 7 pm
$10 per person

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Slaw

Preschool field trip today, I am good and worn out!  It was my first time to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.  It was an awesome place to chase the kids around.  I’ll admit there was a bit of racing heart hide and seek.  Really, my little 5 year old is the greatest kid living, we enjoyed our day out together not to mention the rockin’ picnic lunch.

Yesterday I was thinking about a good way to use up the rest of the napa cabbage in the fridge. It was already shredded from when we had fish tacos earlier in the week. Yum.  The Backyard Farmer had just dropped a nice bag of pablano peppers and my favorite kinnows; honey mandarin oranges.  The green onions in the garden that are about to flower, I estimate 1 large garden green onion equals at least 4 green onions.   With that, I decided to throw together my own slaw and it was GOOD! Please share? Oh, you know I will.

1 head cabbage, sliced thin
4 green onions, sliced thin
1 pepper, chopped
3 fresh mandarin oranges, sectioned and halved
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and refrigerate at least 2 hour before serving. It will look dry, like it doesn’t have enough dressing, but the salt will break down the cabbage in time and it will release plenty of liquid.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chia Sale

In a perfect world, this good deal would have been right in my recent post for Chia Pudding, which also suggested other uses for the super food.  Still, I couldn't let this deal go unposted here, what kind of friend would I be?

Save 10% on Amazon with the code "NUTICHIA." Plus an additional 15% off when you use the subscribe and save.  Here is what you end up getting; 14 ounce 2 packs for $11.53.  3 pound bag for $19.15 and 10 pound bag for $45.00 (that's what I bought).  Free shipping if you spend $25.00 or more. These all end up being more than $1.00 per pound cheaper than Azure, which is my regular best price.
links; Works For Me Wednesday

Friday, April 1, 2011

Au Gratin Medley

I totally made this up and it was totally perfect, love it when that happens!  I have been eating veggies straight from the garden lately because I have random root veggies and winter greens scattered around that are very mature and are only going down hill from here.  Out with the old and in with the new.  I organized my garden this year so that a couple rows can be turned off completely in the summer to save on water during the desperately hot month when nothing really grows, just barely survives.

I love good au gratin potatoes.  Chef Brad had a cafĂ© for a short time where he served the most awesome sweet potato/potato mix of potatoes au gratin.  He wouldn’t give me the recipe and I searched and tried to figure it out.  It has been too long now that I can’t remember the flavors.

It was like 90 degrees today, so I didn’t want to do the oven.  I knew it was important, because with the direct heat, to have the potatoes on the bottom of the pan.  With the higher sugar in beets and sweet potatoes, they would burn.  The potatoes formed a nice crispy crust, yum.  I used my mandolin to slice all the veggies nice and it all came together quickly. 

4 tablespoons butter
2 medium gold (or other baking) potatoes
1 sweet potato
1 medium beet with greens
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup cream
1 cup sharp cheese, shredded

Peel and slice all vegetables in rounds of uniform thickness (1/8) inch. Remove the stems from the beet greens, roughly chop and set aside.  Heat butter in large fry pan on low.  Arrange 2 layers of potatoes in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Follow with a random assortment of the rest of the roots, including any extra potatoes.  Sprinkle salt and pepper every 2 layers.  Pour cream over the top and cover for 15 minutes.  Place beet greens on top and sprinkle with cheese.  Cover once more for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, let cool 5-10 minutes and serve.
links; Fight Back Friday, Foodie Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Recipe Swap, Finer Things Friday

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