Thursday, October 31, 2013

grilled cheese sandwiches with savory roasted apples + roasted sweet potato wedges

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AppId is over the quota

Last night, I made a dinner so good that even the babysitter asked for the recipe.
It started with (leftover) savory roasted apples. Each month, I am hired to create a recipe for our local market, Walter Stewart's. In addition to running into a handful of friends every time I shop there (making grocery marketing a-- dare I say it, fun-- social outing as well as a necessity!), I agree to do this because I know the family-owned market takes pride in stocking and showcasing seasonal-- and often local-- ingredients.
This month, I whipped up a batch of savory roasted apples to highlight local apples. It was a variation on a recipe I concocted back in 2011, when we had a glut of apples from a weekend apple-picking adventure, and I was trying to use them up in every possible form. This super easy side dish has now become one of our go-to's in the Fall because it's so easy, and my children LOVE it. (Another favorite apple side is Cider-Braised Cabbage and Apples.)
OK, so back to the sandwiches! As you all know if you read my blog, I've kind of been a cooking maniac this week, squeezing all of the recipes that will be spread over my 3-week Kitchen Coaching Program into a few days of testing them all-- and then some that didn't make the cut-- one more time before a test group of busy parents gives them a whirl. (They get 3 weeks to leisurely stock their freezers... I gave myself 2 days.) So, you'd think that I would have just hauled one of those meals out of the freezer for the sitter and kids to enjoy while I was at Middle School Parent's Night, but no....when I opened my fridge and saw a big bowl of leftover savory roasted apples, I knew I should use them up. And so, it was the incarnation of a gooey, sweet and savory sandwich... And they were a hit.

I assembled them before running to pick up at after school activities, then baked them in 10 minutes so they were ready when the sitter got there.

Grilled Cheese with Savory Roasted Apples
8 slices of your favorite bread
16 slices of your favorite cheese (I made 1/2 with brie and 1/2 with a smoked cheddar)
1 cup savory roasted apples
non-stick baking sheet

Preheat oven to 400. Place 1 slice of cheese on each slice of bread. Top with about 1/4 cup of savory roasted apples. Then, place another slice of cheese and second slice of bread on top of that. Bake for 5-7 minute, then flip, and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until bread is toasty and cheese is melted. Serve warm or room temp.
I also had a sweet potato in the pantry, so as a side dish, I quickly made:
1 large sweet potato
canola oil spray
chili powder
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Cut sweet potato (skin on or off, your choice) into 1" wedges. Spray rimmed baking sheet with a bit of canola oil, place a single layer of sweet potatoes on baking sheet, sprinkle with spices, salt and pepper. Give the baking sheet a shake to distribute everything a bit more evenly. Roast for 10 minutes, turn the wedges over, and roast another 10 minutes. Sweet potatoes should be fork tender, meaning a fork pierces the sweet potatoes easily. Serve warm. 

Like I said, the meal was a total hit. So much so that the sitter asked for the recipe before she went home! Hope your family enjoys this casual Fall dinner as much as mine did.

keeping a pinky toe in... learning from home

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AppId is over the quota

Now that my {awesome} integrative nutrition program has wrapped up, I am craving another learning opportunity... something that I can also do from home.

When the homework is done, the kids are outside hammering away, the laundry is being completely ignored, and the make-ahead dinners are doing their thing, I wanted to find another opportunity to expand my knowledge. So, I gin up the computer and find a way to learn + grow from the nest. Next stop, Denmark. Would any of you like to join me?

chicken soup starter {a.k.a. liquid gold)

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AppId is over the quota

With all of the hoopla of the Stock Your Freezer in a Snap launch, I neglected to tell you that I totally burned the candle at both ends. While I can rock dinner like nobodies business, figuring out the technological side of creating a make-ahead meal guide that was instantly download able to anyone worldwide resulted in many sleepless nights. No sooner did I finally have it all figured out, I felt the cold creeping in...
My remedy {when the MD sends your sorry self home empty-handed "because it's a virus... it needs to run its course... get plenty of rest and drink lots of liquids...and...} the reality is: you've got two young children, no help, a guest arriving for the long weekend, and a much-anticipated product launch? Mineral-rich bone broth. The name is super unappealing, I know. But I'm telling you, friends, this stuff is liquid gold. I wish I'd had it stocked at the first signs of that cold. But I hadn't gotten around to making this year's first batch yet. After suffering through this cold, I've learned my lesson and now have a freezer stocked with a big 'ol batch to get us through the next few months.

Want to make some too? My recipe for bone broth is here. When I make it, it takes several hours, so I make sure I have a good book or magazine handy and I make a BIG pot. I keep a supply of these heavy-duty 16 oz and 32 oz tubs on hand for freezer storage, but you could also cool the broth down and package it in heavy-duty Ziplocs if {you trust their zipper and} space is at a premium and you want to stack them flat.

I am giving myself one quiet day now to fully recover {or until the school bus rumbles up at 12:30}, and looking forward to a warm bowl of chicken-veg soup for lunch.

Please note: the links to the tubs I use for freezer soup storage are affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your costs will be the same but the Full Plate Blog will receive a small commission. This helps cover some of the costs for this site. I appreciate your support!

August up in smoke

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AppId is over the quota
{This post has been in my draft folder for a few weeks. I've started it, forgotten about it, re-read it, added to it, debated deleting it... but now that August is over, I'm hitting send... and looking forward to getting back on track in September.}  August was going to be awesome. The kids and I were going to be in Idaho for almost a month. A whole month. After a school year and summer where I felt like I was a little mouse on one of those whirling circle things (better visual than frazzled mom in Volvo SUV, no?), I couldn't wait to just relax. In Idaho, I slow down. We all slow down. Our primary mode of transportation is by bike. We eat almost every meal outside. My parents dote on my kids.  In Idaho, my kids build stick forts. 

They could spend a whole day just building a stick fort. 

Heck, in Idaho, I might even unplug and help build a stick fort. 
At home, in Fairfield County, CT, I carefully "curate" (fancy word for plan out, week by week, often times as early as April, since everything here books up) a summer I think of as so balanced. Some inside camps, some outside camps, some creative camps, some sporty camps...and this means that I basically spend my entire summer driving to the morning day camps (usually in different towns, with the same start times, just to make sure I'm on my A-game) and then collapse briefly during the 1 hour they overlap in afternoon tennis clinics and golf lessons, dreading the fact that I still have to make dinner.
Summer is action-packed and F-U-N (all caps) for them. 
Totally crappy for me.

I will fully admit: I am not a very fun mom in June/July. I am a chauffeur on auto-pilot, who is often hot, sweaty, and tired.

Which is why, I really couldn't wait to get to Idaho.  Maybe because we don't live there-- we just excitedly visit for more and more weeks each summer-- I don't feel the need to have every day so scheduled. Maybe it's because despite the pressures I feel in Fairfield County to have my kids "doing something" and "good at something", I know deep down that they'd be just as happy building stick forts... so I go hide out in Idaho and let them do that. Of course I ogled various day camp offerings in Idaho, and I did sign the kids up for a week of woodworking / wilderness survival camp. (Old habits are hard to break...) But the rest of our weeks were to be unplanned. The mountains, trails, river, lakes and bike paths would be ours... whenever we decided to get dressed and start our days.
My kids spent post-camp afternoons whittling on my parents' patio. They made up elaborate board games well before the rest of us were awake.They held art sales... to raise enough money to ride their bikes to the candy store. We spent afternoons reading outside. And at the end of a relaxing day, I didn't mind making dinners. In fact, I looked forward to it. 

Then, on one of our afternoon bike rides, we noticed the smoke from a forest fire off in the distance. 

And each day, the skies started to get smokier and smokier. I was out one evening, helping my little one master hand brakes (ok, truth be told, I was chasing him down the road, beer in hand, willing him to slow down before I had to actually catch up to him) and I looked up. There is this beautiful sight when smoke meets sunset. Beautiful in an awful way. "Please don't let these forest fires be close", I thought. But they were close, and they were bad. We spent most of that second week inside, windows closed, everyone willing the fires to slow down. Board games offered limited distraction. Hundreds of "hot shot" firefighters were brought in. Events important to the town's economy and spirit were cancelled. People started leaving town because the air was so bad. Then they started evacuating whole neighborhoods.  Neighborhood streets we biked down just days before were like chimneys. Everyone was sad and worried. We begrudgingly packed our suitcases up.   We left in the wee hours, driving past flames you could clearly see. A scary and sad end to what was supposed to be an awesome month.

This was what our fridge looked like the night we flew home... I joked with my husband that really, he can't be serious that that's what it's stocked with... but two weeks later, I will fully admit that I've barely cooked/restocked it with our normal bevvy of fruits, veggies and ready-to-sit-down-to-a-family-dinner-meals. I feel porky from eating out so much. Scratch that, I am porky from eating out so much. I am totally off-track when it comes to healthful eating / dealing / being ready for a new school year. The blog's been quiet because, well, I've been in a total funk that what was supposed to be this relaxing, awesome August went up in flames, both literally and figuratively. And while I fully appreciate that this is a very "high class problem" to have, still, I miss the August that was going to be so awesome. 
But, thankfully, Fall-- my favorite season-- is around the corner, and I am determined to get back on track as a busy mom, wife and friend. You all can come along for the ride, if you'd like. I'd love the company.

shaved Brussels sprout salad + lemony Brussels sprout-spinach saute

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I have such a crush on this salad. First inhaled enjoyed while sitting in the company of a couple girlfriends outside at Cava, it was the one dish I craved over and over this past summer. I never had to think before I ordered: first their fresh Brussels sprouts with a small crispy risotto cake followed by a second appetizer of artichokes + ricotta salata + shaved onion+ jalapeños + some decadent aioli. And a glass {or two or three} of Gavi di Gavi. As Fall moves in, I miss those carefree al fresco dinners with dear friends, laughing on Cava's front patio, well into the evening...
And so, of course I wanted to recreate this deliciousness at home.
My local market, Walter Stewart's, is now carrying shaved Brussels sprouts, making this salad easier to make than you can imagine. Like, as in a two minute salad. I've also spotted bags of shaved Brussels sprouts at Trader Joe's. It is ridiculously simple to make, but the earthiness of the truffle oil gives it a sophisticated, rich taste. 4 cups (or 12 oz.) shaved Brussels sprouts1 or 2 lemons, zested and juiced1 Tablespoon black truffle-infused olive oilToss everything in a bowl. The heartiness of the Brussels sprouts make this a perfect make-ahead salad. It may be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. In fact, I think it's even better day two. 
So, then, let's say you make this salad on a Thursday, and come back from a whirlwind weekend on a Sunday. Not that excited to launch back into reality and go to the market, you open the fridge and find a small amount of this salad + a bag of organic baby spinach. This, my friends, is the beauty of this salad. While it's amazing cold... it might even be better warm!!

Lemony Brussels Sprout-Spinach Saute
(makes 4 servings)

about 1/2-3/4 cup Brussels sprout salad
about 2 cups fresh organic baby spinach, chiffonade (thinly sliced into strips)
optional: extra olive oil or lemon juice

Heat a fry pan to medium-high. Saute Brussels sprout salad and spinach for a few minutes until spinach wilts. Serve warm. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

baked potato bar

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AppId is over the quota

After another absolutely fabulous week at HF Bar in WY, I'm now in ID with our children, getting some quality grandparent + mountain time in before the new school year.
When not riding our bikes on the extensive bike paths, to the market, or to our favorite ice cream stand,
we're out hiking, playing in the river,
reading under the aspens and pines,
or my kids are putting their newfound whittling skills from woodworking and primitive wilderness camp to work.
I've gotten a little lazy in the cooking department, since it is vacation after all... but last night I made a baked potato bar that the kids loved. We're at a funny stage right now-- no, actually, not so funny when you're the mom trying to make sure that your children are nourished and eating enough. Play trumps eating any day with these two. Unlike me, they never get ravenous, no matter how active they may be. But the baked potato bar is one of those meals that I know gets them happily trotting to the dinner table. I'm not sure if it's the make-your-own aspect, or if they just like all the decadent toppings? Either way, this is one of my current go-tos.

Baked potatoes are so simple: wash them off, prick them with a fork, roll them in a bit of olive oil, then into a 350 oven for 1 hour they go. Topping choices included: butter, Greek yogurt, sour cream, crisp local bacon, steamed broccoli, scallions, mushrooms and red onion sauteed in balsamic and a little olive oil, shredded cheddar, hot sauce...and I put out steamed green beans for the kids to munch on while I was getting the toppings laid out. At home, I do a similar make-your-own gig, but offer up some of my go-to turkey chili as a topping. (Freezing it in small containers makes it easy to thaw just the right amount.)

Do you have a meal like this-- something that's easy, that your family loves? A meal that can compete with Legos, drawing, reading and whittling?...

two new {and super easy easy} Fall apps: potato pancakes topped with truffle mousse and apple-cranberry butter + sausage and apple phyllo cups

AppId is over the quota AppId is over the quota I do love a Fall dinner party... but, like many of you, I want to prep the food ahead so I get to relax and enjoy my company. Here are two new app ideas for all of you who may be hosting Fall gatherings, inspired by chillier temps and autumn flavors. Hope you and your friends enjoy them as much as we do!
Potato Pancakes with Truffle Mousse and Cranberry-Apple Chutney
Trader Joe's potato pancakes
Les Trois Petits Cochons Mousse Truffee
Trader Joe's cranberry-apple butter

Heat the potato pancakes according to package (350, 10 minutes on each side), then top with a dollop of truffle mousse and cranberry-apple butter. Serve warm or room temp.

Note: the small frozen potato pancakes were found in the frozen breakfast section (by the waffles, croissants, etc.), the cranberry-apple butter was found by the jams, and the mousse truffee was in the cheese section of our Darien, CT Trader Joe's.

As you all know, I love anything stuffed into phyllo cups. They're versatile, easy to pick up, and they look special. I've filled them with Feta & Figs, I've made them Christmas-y with dollops of sun-dried tomato and pesto, I've brought them to Spring parties filled with pea dip, and I've taken them to Winter gatherings filled with white bean-bacon dip. This past weekend, they were offered up at our neighborhood block party, to rave reviews: Sausage and Apple Stuffed Phyllo Cups
4 packages (48) Athens mini phyllo cups (found in the freezer section of most major supermarkets)
4 chicken sausages* (I like the Hans brand Brat ones)
3 apples (2 for the filling, cored + 1 for topping, 1/2" diced)
1 medium onion
1/4 cup fresh sage
1 8oz block cream cheese

While the phyllo cups are being crisped up in the oven (per package instructions, usually 350 for about 5 minutes or so), combine the four sausage, two apples, one onion and fresh sage in a food processor. Warm the brick of cream cheese in a fry pan until soft. Add the sausage mixture, and warm over medium heat, for about 5-10 minutes, stirring until flavors are combined. Place a dollop of sausage mixture into each phyllo cup and top with a piece of fresh apple. Serve warm or room temp. 

*You could also make this appetizer vegetarian, by filling them with this meatless "sausage" dip.

Amis de l'école West + famille remise une « école » dans le congélateur de son action dans un programme plug-in.

C'était juste un petit éclat dans votre congélateur moyen {alias : le bonheur qui vient abrite un congélateur plein de délices maison... et qu'un « heures supplémentaires » pour maman}. Ainsi qu'un cadeau spécial, je vous offre la nourriture dans une cuisine de Snap Coaching : programme "action votre congélateur en un clin d'oeil" à vos amis pour 20 % de réduction + toutes les familles de l'école West *, au cours de la "journée scolaire" (08:00 - 16 h 00 HAE), vendredi 25 octobre 2013. Parlez-en à vos amis et nous allons commencer moyen leurs congélateurs et avez-vous de profiter de ces « heures supplémentaires » !Vous pouvez en savoir plus sur le programme ici et ici, , mais pour la promotion de l'école West, s'il vous plaît acheter via cette page seulement {ou je vais payer plein tarif!}.

* $49,99, Mais offre normalement les familles de l'école West et leurs amis pour 39,99 $ au cours de la « journée de l'école » a rabais!  Caps, etUO peut toujours acheter le programme à tout moment, mais a maintenant terminé ce rabais pour un temps limité pour les familles de l'école West + de ses amis. Impossible d'attendre pour écouter avant tout des mères de l'école West Jersey leurs congélateurs et de ces « heures supplémentaires » !