Fruit

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is the day we show our love… I love my husband… I love my kids… I love chocolate-covered strawberries! They are little, red, sweet, and fruity gifts wrapped in chocolate packages. The best part is, well, eating them. But the second best part is that they require very little skill. I don’t know if you’ve made them before, but I want you to know that it is so easy a four-year-old can do it.

As organic as possible:

2 pints (16-18) fresh Strawberries

1 bag (approx 11.5 oz.) Milk-Chocolate chips

1/2 bag (approx 6 oz.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips

1/2 bag (approx 6 oz.) White Chocolate chips (optional)

I know in a lot of professional dessert shops, they don’t rinse the strawberries. They actually use a soft brush and clean them like you would a mushroom. I understand the reasoning: you don’t want the extra moisture content to separate the berry from the chocolate. I get it. That said, I’m a little weird about not rinsing my fruit off.

I do use organic strawberries; which is important to me, not eating all of the toxic pesticides, not to mention GMO’s… But this is about Valentine’s Day -so let’s not go there! All I’m saying is that I rinse off my berries. Then pat them dry with a paper towel and let them sit until they are dry again. (I also realize that for someone who cares about the earth I use way too many paper towels.)

Now that we’ve got the dirty part out of the way, let’s get back to those clean berries. When they’re dry, all you need to do is melt your chocolate.

 

If you have a heavy bottomed saucepan, you could put the heat on low and let the chocolate slowly melt. However, it’s a more subtle and foolproof way to do the traditional double broiler method. Just put about an inch of water in the bottom of a sauce pan and set a glass bowl on the top (not touching the water) and set the heat on med-high letting the water come to a boil. Stir often until the chocolate is melted through, and no more chocolate lumps are visible. Carefully move the bowl to your work station (most likely the counter top).

Next, simply hold the berries by their green tips and dip and roll the fruit around in a chocolate bath until the berry is mostly covered with chocolate.

Let the excess drip off and then place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet.

It’s a simple as that, and you can totally stop there and eat your berries -and be happy. But my sweetheart happens to like white chocolate so I took it a step further and melted a little more goodness. This time because of the small amount, I microwaved the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds, then 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate was smooth.

Because I am not a pastry shop I just used a Ziploc baggy with a hole cut in the corner for my drizzle.

Using a back and forth zigzag motion, draw the white lines across your chocolate-covered berries. Let the kids help, this doesn’t have to be perfection! (Unless you’re selling them, then you need to be meticulous… please refer to another blog.)

The work is done! Let the berries set for a while until the chocolate cools and hardens. If you have a refrigerator large (and sparse) enough to hold the trays… Lucky you! Just kidding. It can help the chocolate set faster.

And if you have a little extra chocolate that you don’t want to waste… Consider dipping in cookies, or graham crackers!

 Or of course, cleaning out the bowl yourself is always a viable option.

I hope your day is full of LOVE! (and chocolate)

Apple Oat Crumble

Fruit crumbles are like the epitome of any season. You take what is sweet, ripe, and locally grown, add a buttery sugary topping and bake the fruit until it’s warmed through and soft. Then you eat it straight up by the spoonful! Whoa! Oh sure, you can get wild and throw a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of caramel sauce on top. Who am I to crush your creativity? The point is, there is a lot of good to be had… and by golly let’s have it!

As organic as possible:

1 pat of butter for greasing (about 1/2 Tbsp)

5 tart Apples, such as Granny Smith

1 Tbsp Flour

2 Tbsp Brown sugar

2 Tbsp rolled Oats

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

Pinch of salt

 

Topping:

3/4 cup Flour

1/2 cup rolled Oats

1/2 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Brown sugar

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 cup cold Butter (1 stick), cut into cubes.

 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a med-small baking dish (about 9×9) with a thin layer of butter, set aside.

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Rinse and dry your apples.

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Cut into bite sized pieces.

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Place cut apples in a medium bowl. Add tablespoon of flour, 2 tablespoons of oats, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and pinch of salt. Gently toss.

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Pour apple mixture into prepared baking dish. Set aside.

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In a separate bowl add topping mixture, flour, oats, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Mix. Add cubed butter. Using a pastry blender (or two butter knives), cut butter into mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs (about pea size).

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Pour flour mixture evenly over the top of the apple mixture.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until topping starts to brown and apples start to bubbling out the sides. Enjoy the smell of your kitchen, this is home.

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Serve warm, with coffee, family, friends or scoop of vanilla ice cream. (All optional).

 

Apple Oat Crumble

Ingredients

  • 1 pat Butter for greasing (about 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 5 tart Apples, such as Granny Smith
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp rolled Oats
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • Topping:
  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled Oats
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup cold Butter (1 stick), cut into cubes

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Rinse and dry your apples. Cut into bite sized pieces.
  3. Place cut apples in a medium bowl. Add tablespoon of flour, 2 tablespoons of oats, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and pinch of salt. Gently toss.
  4. Pour apple mixture into prepared baking dish. Set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl add topping mixture, flour, oats, sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Mix.
  6. Add cubed butter. Using a pastry blender (or two butter knives), cut butter into mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs (about pea size).
  7. Pour flour mixture evenly over the top of the apple mixture.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until topping starts to brown and apples start to bubbling out the sides. Enjoy the smell of your kitchen, this is home.
  9. Serve warm, with coffee, family, friends or scoop of vanilla ice cream. (All optional).
http://sadiesnest.com/apple-oat-crumble/

Marco Island Farmer’s Market

One of my favorite things to do anytime, anywhere, if it is a possibility, is visit the local farmer’s market. Not only can you get reasonable (and often excellent) prices on local fruits, vegetables, flowers, artisan breads, pastries etc., you get to see and sample a variety of things that grow in the area! I am sorry to say that my favorite cheese vendor had already left for the season (only 2 weeks to go). But not to worry, what I didn’t get to spend on stinky cheeses I more than made up for in savory sausages! The whole experience is really “mommy time” where I can slow down… and smell the roses.

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I enjoy the whole adventure. Some things look familiar…

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And some things look completely exotic!

 

I love to see how the vendors set up their stands.

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And I’m a sucker for trying local roasters and honey…

 

Thank you Marco Island Farmer’s Market! …Until we meet again. 🙂

And a quick shout-out for my favorite olive oil by Moz!

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Flavor Your Water

Once upon a time, I worked at an upscale day spa. It was a gorgeous relaxation facility with all sorts of estheticians, massage therapists, nail techs, hair stylists and lavish beauty products. As I possess none of those professional skills, I was a part of guest services. And the best thing I took with me when I left (since I couldn’t take any people) was the tips on flavor-infused waters. We would select a different water filled with freshly prepared fruits, and occasionally vegetables, daily to serve in the lounging area. Of course they could be as well known as lemon-lime, containing vibrant round slices of green and yellow, but my favorites were the simple and oh-so refreshing cucumber water and the watermelon water with pure pink cubes of sweetness.

Lately I’ve been seeing so many more creative blends. What a great presentation they make when entertaining guests, and how fun to come up with flavors that complement your meal! As an added bonus, you can feel good about serving your loved ones a flavorful option that doesn’t include any added refined sugar, artificial flavors or colors. That is so nice of you!

Pictured above is just an easy addition of frozen blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to iced water. Here are a few more I’ve found for us to try…

An inspiring youtube video from Honeysuckle Catering I originally saw on Facebook: 8 Ways to drink more Water

From SkinnyMe Tea courtesy of Pinterest:

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Marsh-bani Fruit Dip & Fruit Salad

It doesn’t get easier or tastier than this. Honestly it’s just delicious. The fruit dip is sweet and a little tangy, ridiculous when you think about how easy it is. Did I mention it is fat-free? Your taste buds will never know. The yogurt goodness coats the fruit nicely as a dip, but why stop there? The next thought was, oh my goodness, this needs to be in a fruit salad. And can I just tell you, it was stellar. As in: this is what fruit salad needs to taste like for the rest of my life. If you are having a party this weekend, it’s great to serve dip style or in individual cups. So because I really can’t decide which way I like more, I’m sharing both. Lastly, let me just add that if you have any left over, you should throw it into a morning smoothie, because it is awesome… and so are you.

1 cup Marshmallow Creme

1/2 cup Chobani Fat Free Vanilla Greek Yogurt

1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained

2 pints strawberries, rinsed and drained

2 large bananas (or 3 medium), I leave mine in the peel and third or quarter

2 apples, cut into wedges (with a couple center slices reserved for garnish)

Dipping fruit of your choice

Garnish with apple slices and fresh mint (optional)

That’s it! Two parts marshmallow creme to 1 part Chobani Vanilla Greek yogurt. Brilliant! I used a hand held mixer (with a whisk attachment) to blend the marshmallow and yogurt in a medium sized bowl. If you are blending by hand, just mix until they are incorporated. Place the mixture into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or until party time), and the marshmallow and yogurt blend will continue to infuse.

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Now if you want to turn it into fruit salad…

Hull and half (or quarter depending on size) your strawberries, peel your bananas and cut them along with the apples into bite size pieces. Place the fruit into a bowl, drizzle with the Marsh-bani Fruit Dip and gently toss. I take the extra step of tossing the fruit salad in a separate bowl from the one I am serving in, especially for a party… but that’s up to you. The dip can be made a day in advance, but I would not dress and toss the salad until ready to serve. Present in a bowl with a serving spoon or in individual serving dishes for guests to help themselves. Indulge yourself in this sweet treat!

 

 

 

Peach-Pear Muffins

I have recently become a fan of the peach-pear combination; the contrasting textures, the flavors, the colors… They just work for me. And of course so do muffins, because why not wrap up your favorite things in a beautiful little sweet bread basket? For another level of texture, I added pecans. So technically we could call these Peach-Pear-Pecan Muffins, but it just doesn’t have the same ring. Right? Regardless, they’re yummy. (Just ask my nephew, Jude).

Makes 24 muffins

As organic as possible:

3/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup walnut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pears
1 1/2 cups chopped peaches
1 cup chopped pecans (1/3 cup reserved)

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease 24 standard muffin cups with butter or baking spray, set aside.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix milk and balsamic vinegar and let it sit. In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to wet ingredients and stir. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix just until combined. Fold in the pears, peaches and pecans until incorporated (not over mixing for fear of muffin bricks).

Spoon or scoop batter into muffin tins until almost to the top. (Side note: I love ice cream scoops for all muffin, cupcake, and most cookie recipes. The kind where you squeeze the handle and the batter is released. If you don’t have one, you might want to consider it.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve while still warm or at room temperature.

I love most quick breads and muffins with coffee in the morning for breakfast or on the side of a salad for lunch. Enjoy!

Good Morning Smoothie

Everyone has a smoothie recipe, and for good reason. They’re fun, fast, flavorful, and full of healthy things. (How many f’s can you fit in a sentence?) Owen is big on smoothies these days; which is great for me because my breakfast is often made by the time I get up. That makes for a good morning! He loves to experiment with flavors, and usually with fresh fruit. However for this recipe we used a mixed frozen organic berry blend; my contribution for the days we are out of fresh berries. He also likes to blend in some granola, so often his concoctions have a little chew.

Serves 2 (large)

As organic as you can:

12 oz Vanilla protein drink

1 cup ice

2 cups frozen mixed berry blend

2 bananas

½ cup granola (such as Kind brand blueberry and vanilla)

2 Tbsp honey (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a blender, and let her rip. When all combined and liquid-y, pour into a glass! Easy as that!

You are getting a healthy dose of fruit and some protein in this drink, so I feel it’s rather healthy. However this is not necessarily low calorie… so my recommendation is to drink your breakfast, and not to serve this with your eggs and bacon. I like my smoothie a little sweet, so I added that option. Now go seize the day!

And although this all seems very specific, I am not trying to put a boundary on the time you drink your smoothie.