Saturday, December 29, 2012

Don't Denounce the Sprout: Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado and Toasted Pepitas

A big thanks to all of you that participated in the great Chobani Giveaway! I appreciate that so many of you helped spread the word about the giveaway and I had a great time reading all of the comments. Congrats to Allisha G. as the winner of a case of the 16-ounce Chobani yogurt blends. I hope to offer another giveaway in the near future so stay tuned.

Switching gears a bit…show of hands: who would say that their favorite vegetable is Brussels sprouts?...Anyone?? The poor Brussels sprout usually does not get the love it deserves.

As a kid, my mom would sometimes steam Brussels sprouts for our dinner veg. I would be playing in my room and the distinct aroma of cooking Brussels sprouts wafting in the air would make its way down the hall and permeate the entire house. As soon as the smell hit my nose, I’d call a friend and beg her to have me over for dinner to escape the torture of choking down one of those awful mini-cabbages.

Well, times have changed, my palate has matured (along with the rest of me) and now I can honestly say I enjoy the tiny cruciferous orbs.  If you are not a super-fan, don’t denounce the sprout yet! This Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado and Toasted Pepitas could be what changes you from a hater to a lover. The Brussels sprouts are shredded and served raw sparing your house from the smell when cooked. They are combined with the creaminess of avocado and nuttiness of toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and tossed in a lovely lemon Dijon vinaigrette. 

Question: if its not the B. sprout, what is your favorite vegetable? 

Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado and Toasted Pepitas 
(recipe adapted from Whole Living Magazine, Nov. '12)

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Shred Brussels sprouts in a food processor.
  2. Cut avocado into small cubes.
  3. Toast pepitas in a dry skillet for about 1 minute.
  4. Whisk together the zest and juice of lemon with Dijon and olive oil.
  5. Toss sprouts with vinaigrette, add avocado. Season with salt and pepper. Top with pepitas.
until next time...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Peach Compote with Vanilla Sauce and a {Giveaway}!

The countdown continues to Christmas Day and the end of a great Giveaway! If you enjoy Chobani yogurt as much as I do, you will be happy to know that there is still time to enter for a chance to win a case of Chobani Greek yogurt in the new 16-ounce size.

You have until the minute before Santa comes down your chimney (Dec 24th at 11:59 p.m. CST). There are 10 ways to enter and if you are already an EatingLocal in the Lou fan/follower on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google Friend Connect, you have an automatic entry by clicking on that option. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Before you dash away, here is a lovely recipe featuring peach Greek yogurt: 

Peach Compote Parfait with Vanilla Sauce 
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peaches, chopped (Shirk's Country Market)
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (make your own by following this link)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • a pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 16 ounce Chobani peach Greek yogurt
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine peaches, maple sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring sugar and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil. Remove from heat, whisk in butter, heavy cream and vanilla bean. Allow to cool.
  3. In a parfait glass, layer compote, top with peach Greek yogurt, and drizzle spiced vanilla sauce.
until next time...Happy Holidays to you all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Have a Happy Healthy Holiday with Refrigerator Oatmeal

The holidays are in full swing. As we dash and prance from one holiday party to the next, we are surrounded by decadent delectables calling us, daunting us, alluring us until we succumb to the temptations and say to ourselves, “Oh! I gotta try that!”

Years ago, I taught a series of weight management classes where we covered strategies for handling the holidays without overeating. One tip was to not under-eat the day of the party because inevitably we arrive at the party starving and snarf everything in site! Instead it’s best to eat healthy meals throughout the day knowing full well that our healthy-for-me meter will go out the door the second we eye the buffet table.

This Refrigerator Oatmeal can be made a day ahead and is the perfect pre-party breakfast. It is made with all good-for-you ingredients: Greek yogurt, oats, honey, fruit, milk, and chia seeds, those poppy seed look-alikes that have gained popularity. These cool little seeds are a good source of plant protein and omega-3 fatty acids, the good kind of fat known to reduce internal inflammation and boost heart health. Chia seeds are also super high in fiber: 1 tablespoon contains 6 grams! With the high fiber of the chia seeds, oats and fruit, and the probiotics in the Greek yogurt, your GI tract will be smooth sailing through the holidays right into the New Year!

A Happy Healthy Holiday Giveaway!!
As an incentive to get your holidays and New Year off to a great start, I am excited to announce another product giveaway!! One lucky winner will receive a full case of Chobani yogurts in the new 16-ounce size.  You have up to 10 chances to win- enter as many options as you would like. If you are already an Eating Local in the Lou follower on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and/or Google Friend Connect, you automatically get an entry by clicking on the Rafflecopter for that option! This giveaway is open to U.S. citizens and closes at 11:59 pm CST on Christmas eve (Dec. 24).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chunky Monkey Refrigerator Oatmeal

  1. In a jar with a lid, add all of the ingredients.
  2. Screw on lid, shake well and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Enjoy chilled.
Of course any flavor yogurt can be used with any fruit to make your own flavor combination. We also enjoyed peach yogurt with chopped peaches and blueberry yogurt with frozen blueberries...but this "Chunky Monkey" combo is our family fav.
until next time...

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Pssst...can you keep a secret? I am so excited about the homemade gifts I am giving this year I just had to tell someone! And if you are still in need of a super quick gift for a teacher, neighbor, your hairdresser or for the person that invites you to the next holiday bash, then read on!

I love giving homemade gifts almost as much as I love receiving them. It’s a great feeling knowing that someone cared enough to take the time to handcraft something for you. In years past, I made the traditional homemade treats that so many of us like to make and give this time of the year. But lately I’ve been making things that wouldn’t cause the recipients to resent me later when they stepped onto a scale. Plus, it’s fun to make gifts that “keep on giving” well beyond the holidays. 

This year, a friend told me she was going to make vanilla extract- brilliant! I decided to join her on this homemade Christmas gift making adventure. You would not believe how easy it is to make vanilla extract! Just as much love went into making this year’s gift, but it took only about 10 minutes to finish a whole batch.

The key is to start with good quality whole vanilla beans, preferrably organic. We purchased bourbon extraction-grade 1 certified organic vanilla beans in bulk from Amadeus Vanilla Beans company. The beans were resonably priced and shipped to us in a matter of days. If you are in a hurry to make your extract, you can also purchase smaller portions of vanilla beans from most markets and Penzies Spices stores. You will need about 2 vanilla beans per 4 ounce bottle (or 4 beans in an 8-ounce bottle).

The only other ingredient needed is a good quality vodka. Right now, most grocery markets have vodka on sale in anticipation of New Year’s Eve soirĂ©es. Figure out how many bottles of extract you plan to make and how large your bottles are, then calculate how many ounces of vodka you need to buy. 

To make the vanilla extract: 
Sterilize the bottles in the dishwasher.
Split the vanilla beans lengthwise. Add vanilla beans to glass bottles and fill bottles up with vodka using a funnel. THAT’S IT! Now let it sit in a darkish area, turning the bottles upside down every few days until you are ready to give away. The extract is fully developed in about a month. The vanilla beans can be removed or kept in the bottle. The extract keeps indefinitely. 

Now everything that your friend (and mine) bakes will taste that much better with this pure vanilla extract homemade gift that will keep on giving well into the New Year!

Question: What is your favorite homemade gift you ever received?
until next time...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Home for the Holidays: Enjoying a Warm and Cozy Lunch with My Big Kid

Last Friday was a half-day for my kiddos. Since the high school gets out earlier than the elementary school and doesn’t serve lunch on these shorter days, I asked my big kid to meet me at Panera Bread, or what we call St. Louis Bread Co. here in the Lou.

Both my son and I are huge fans of soup, and no one does soup like Panera. We got to the restaurant around noon and the place was packed, as it often is, which to me is a sign of a place that is top notch. Despite the crowd, we were lucky enough to snag two cozy chairs next to the fireplace.

We got in line to order and believe it or not, my big kid decided to order the Big Kid Grilled Cheese and Chicken Noodle Soup as a “you pick two” option. This is no ordinary grilled cheese- made with a blend of gruyere, white cheddar and organic American cheese and topped with Applewood smoked bacon! 

I decided on the Vegetarian Creamy Tomato soup with Asiago Croutons and French Baguette on the side.

Oh I tell you- this soup is divine! Creamy, tomatoey goodness with a hint of spiciness at the end of each spoonful. Although this is a cream based soup, I feel good eating it on occasion since it is so concentrated with tomatoes and good-for-you seasonings.

We sat next to the fire, chatting about things that we otherwise may not get the chance to talk about…upcoming final exams, a possible mission to Mars, and something called the cinnamon challenge (this topic spawned from the huge cinnamon roll that he conned me into getting him for dessert).

The soup warmed and nourished our bodies, but the time spent one-on-one with my big kid warmed and nourished my heart.

Question: What is your favorite Panera soup?

Disclosure: As part of the DailyBuzz Food Tastemaker program, I received a stipend and gift card to try soups from Panera Bread. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

until next time...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Creative Take on an American Classic: Turkey Burgers with Blueberries, Ginger and Lemongrass served with Blueberry Ketchup

On a recent road trip to visit a friend, my father passed Shirk’s Country Market, a unique food store located in rural central Missouri. My dad knew that I would be delighted to have a few items from this little shop. So the generous man that he is, phoned me, went isle by isle telling me what was on the shelves while I yay’d or nay’d the items to purchase for me.

Thanks to my pops, I was able to stock my kitchen with wholesome, sustainably grown ingredients such as organic rolled oats, polenta, molasses, millet and barley berries. He also brought a large bag of frozen blueberries that I could not wait to dive into.

In one of my “out of the blue” cooking moments (pun totally intended), I thought it would be fun to make a ketchup using blueberries as the fruit base rather than tomatoes. I experimented with these little blue beauties and created a tangy blueberry ketchup with a flavor kick from pickled ginger, you know, the pink stuff that comes with sushi. Now I just needed a burger to slather and some fries to dunk.

I thought turkey burgers and sweet potato fries would pair nicely with the blueberry ketchup. And then I got to thinking…turkey burgers tend to be a bit dry so why not add a handful of blueberries to the turkey burger mix to boost moisture and add a different flavor? And so I did.

The result was a succulent, tasty take on an American classic.  The turkey burgers were indeed moist and delicious with the added blueberries, ginger and lemongrass. And the blueberry ketchup worked wonders as a condiment for the burger and fries.

Question: how do you like to use blueberries?

Succulent Turkey Burgers with Blueberries, Ginger and Lemongrass

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. lemongrass
  • 1 tsp. coarse black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 4 hamburger buns
Cooking Directions
  1. Peel and mince ginger. Using the bottom portion of fresh lemongrass, peel away woody outer layer and mince inner flesh. Add blueberries, ginger, lemongrass, and black pepper to ground turkey, mix well. Form mixture into 4 hamburger patties. Brush soy sauce on both sides of burgers. Grill patties at medium high heat for about 4 minutes each side until reach an internal temperature of 165 F. Serve on poppy seed buns with lettuce, sliced red onion and blueberry ketchup (recipe below)
Blueberry Ketchup

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup minced onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. pickled ginger (gari) or fresh ginger, minced
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool, then blend using a hand immersion blender or a food processor. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For great tips, recipes and nutritional information on blueberries, visit:
until next time...
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