Snapshots of Summer

Hello, hello, hello!

It’s been a long time since my last post.  Spring and summer have been very busy since I started a full-time job after being home with my sweet daughter (and working part-time) for many amazing months.  In March, I was thrilled to accept a position as a baker and sales representative at a bakery in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.  I’m so grateful for this wonderful opportunity!

Here’s a collage of my summer, highlights of what I’ve been up to and of course, what I have been eating.  Enjoy!

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  1. Two of my favorite combinations: prosecco and the back porch of my dearest friend’s home.  I’m loving this bottle of bubbles.
  2.  Weekend ritual of green smoothies and watching the choo choo trains.  There’s a charming little cafe located at one of the nearby train stations and little T loves their green smoothies.  We did a 30 day green smoothie challenge in July and T happily participated.
  3.  The bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids of my friend’s wedding.  Flowers were arranged by family and friends.
  4. We went on a nature walk and foraged along the way collecting wineberries.  These sweet little hands helped too.
  5. My friends live in the city and have a thriving apricot tree in their little back court yard.  They invited us to pick some of the fruit.  We went home with 25lbs of apricots and barely made a dent in that tree.
  6. Evening stroll down the street. We live in a mid-century modern neighborhood that was built on what was the grounds of a Gilded Age mansion, designed by Horace Trumbauer.  The statues in my neighborhood are remnants of the gardens.
  7.  10lbs of blackberries about to become jam.  My husband and I are huge fans of the Food in Jars blog.  Try the peach jam recipe–you won’t regret it.
  8. A  birthday tradition. We celebrated T’s 2nd birthday this summer.  On her birthday (this year and last) I presented her with a blank canvas and paints to create her birthday masterpiece.  I love it.  It’s a fun way to commemorate the day.  (first birthday to the left, second birthday to the right)
  9. My little gardener.  She’s been spending a lot of time at grandma’s house and therefore spending a lot of time in the vegetable garden.
  10. We spent a couple days at Ocean City, NJ.  I wish I could eat fried calamari and corn fritters everyday.
  11. My hubby and I went on out first ferris wheel ride together–good old fashioned romantic fun on the boardwalk.
  12. We celebrated the final weeks of summer with homemade lemon-orange gelato.  I love gelato. I love gelato. I looooove gelato. Did you know there’s less fat in gelato than ice cream? So it’s way better for you.

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Snack Bites for Tots (and Mamas)

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The main objectives when spending a cold snowy day–or any day really, with a very active toddler: well-rounded meals (haha) and entertain her (is it spring yet?).

I’m very lucky to have a toddler who loves to eat and will try almost anything.  However, she’s a human and she gets bored when I offer the same thing one too many time. I can’t blame her. I’m the same way!

So I dug up a recipe that was passed down to me from a dear friend.   I switched out some of the ingredients to create my own.  In truth, I didn’t have all of the ingredients in my pantry and had to improvise.

It was a cold and snowy day.  It was nearing snack time and my little 18 month old tot was getting antsy.

“T, would you like to help Mama cook?”

“Yeeeeeea!” was the enthusiastic response.

We donned our aprons and I pulled up a chair to the counter on which she stood with excitement.  I had created the mis-en-place of the required ingredients. I have learned that preparedness is key when it comes to toddlers. Little T dumped the ingredients into the food processor bowl. I hooked up the appliance and let her push the button to pulse the ingredients.  The best part was showing her how to roll the snack bites in the shredded coconut. My little sous chef was hard at work.  I was surprised how long it took her to realize that she was playing with food therefore couldn’t resist taking a bite–three snack bites to be exact.

Recipe calls for apricots but picture shows dates, an excellent substitution.

Recipe calls for apricots but picture shows dates, an excellent substitution.

Ingredients for Snack Bites

1 cup dried apricots

1 cup oats (gluten-free oats are available)

1/3 of a banana

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

2 TB almond butter

1 TB honey

1 TB water

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup shredded coconut

 

Pulse all ingredients except the shredded coconut until well combined. Roll into bite sized balls and roll into shredded coconut.  Enjoy!

 

Snack bites

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Reviews of Snack Bites:

“Nummy” and “More, pleeeeeeease!”- T (18 months)

“I’m eating this last snack bite.” – Mama Tara

Kale Pesto

We love kale and we eat a lot of it.  Our typical methods of preparing kale are either tossing it into a salad or sauteeing it with some garlic. I wanted to come up with a new creative way to eat this nutrient dense leafy green.

I just started a kitchen herb garden. As I was planting the basil, I thought, “Pesto”.

Kale Pesto.

What’s not to love? Pesto is a flavor packed condiment used for so many foods–pasta, meat, fish, veggies or sandwiches.

Pesto traditionally calls for pine nuts.  Walnuts were used as a substitute for pine nuts because I like the taste of walnuts paired with kale and walnuts are less expensive (bonus!).   To toast the walnuts:  Heat a dry pan over medium-high setting.   Add walnuts and constantly stir for about 5 minutes.  Walnuts are done when they become fragrant and toasted.

You will need…

1 cup kale (remove stems and tightly packed)

1 cup basil (tightly packed)

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

2 cloves of garlic

2/3  cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper

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Add kale, basil, walnuts, and garlic to a food processor.  Pulse the ingredients a few times before setting blender to mix.  Slowly add the olive oil while ingredients are mixing. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in grated Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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There are many ways to utilize pesto.  Below is one of my favorite ways to use it.

Kale Pesto & Canellini Bean Pizza

You will  need:

Pizza dough (store-bought or home made)

Kale Pesto

2 cups of shredded Mozzarella cheese or a shredded Italian cheese mix

1/2 cup Cannellini beans

Follow instructions for cooking pizza dough.  Spread a thin layer of kale pesto on the pizza dough and top with cannellini beans and cheese. Bake as instructed.

Note: Having mints on hand is advised when consuming garlicky foods.

 

Inspiration:

Our love of kale and garlic.

 

 

Apple Vinaigrette

Just drizzled some of this tasty and fresh vinaigrette on a yummy and healthy Spring quinoa and barley salad.

In a blender, add…

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. apple juice
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 TB honey
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

…and mix!

Add to salads, vegetables or use as a marinade.

Enjoy!