A Millie Favorite

A Millie Favorite

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You can do this!!!

One of the most difficult things about being such a foodie, is holding myself back from shopping for extravagant and exotic food products. Whenever I am in New York, all I want to do is go to Dean and Deluca and look at all their amazing food creations. Of course a cheese platter there will set you back $75.00, even though it is quality cheese. 

Well, I was more than blessed by a certain gift this year from my grandfather and his new wife. It was a $100.00 gift card to The Fresh Market. WOO HOO! Normally, if and when I shop there it is for very specific things. It is such a beautiful store, with beautiful food, but of course, it is a bit pricey. So, when I received this card I was well... more than excited. 

I take my card and go to the store, with ideas in my head of all the meals I was going to prepare with these fancy food products. The term "kid in a candy store" was more than appropriate here. I walk by the exotic fruits and veggies, the antipasti bar, the fresh seafood that was plucked out of the Atlantic that morning with a large smile. I did not have to budget, I did not have to check prices, I could just shop. It is a feeling that I don't get too often, so I tried to soak in the moment. 

People do that when they go on vacation, but a true food person, will find this to be a little trip for their pallet. As I passed all the neat and tidy aisles and shelves filled with jars of jams from France and olives from Spain, it dawned on me, I can make a lot of these things! After all, I have been making my own jam for years out of fruit that was three days away from going bad. I know how to make sweet potato pancakes and butter cookies. I know how to do it and I know how to do it without breaking the bank. 

I feel that if you get a chance to shop at a store like Fresh Market, then you absolutely should. But next time you are in there, take a good look around and pick out some treats that you may be spending a good amount of money and ask your self this, "can I make that?" Um...ABSOLUTELY!!! 

One thing you may see in these gourmet grocery stores, are the specialty baby food. You have to admit, they are in lovely little jars and there are interesting and beautiful graphics on the side. You reach out to pick some of these jars up, well because you want the very best for your child. I have to say, stop right there. Take your cart, go to the produce section, where you are going to find some of the most colorful and organic fruits and veggies around. Pick up different types of pears, apples, berries, citrus and greens. Mix up the varietals and see what amazing baby and toddler foods you can create. Place the food on a fancy plate and if you have one, give your child a silver spoon to eat with. 

There is your gourmet meal, made with the care and love you put into it. While it is always nice to try different things and especially high end foods, always remember the most high end you can get is in your own kitchen sharing memories with your kids and loved ones. 


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dreaming of a Spicy Christmas

When the holiday's come around, we are tempted by treats treats treats! They are EVERYWHERE! Your office, your child's school sends home cookies in their backpacks, your parents house has chocolate and of course don't forget all the merry wine!

I was wondering last year how I could fill my home with nice holiday treats, without all the sugar and calories?Ugh... this was a challenge. You know as well as I do, when given an option between healthy treats vs Christmas cookies, those little red and green iced cookies are going to win out with your kids hands down!

Well, here is a recipe for a holiday treat that has won over the teachers at school, my diabetic mother-in-law, and ding ding ding... CHILDREN! And they are so fancy looking, you will have people asking you if you are a pastry chef in disguise. Tee hee! 

Spicy Pumpkin Rasin Tarts

  • One can organic natural pumpkin or one pie pumpkin, cooked and pureed. 
  • Two boxes of mini tart shells
  • Two table spoons of brown sugar
  • One table spoon of pumpkin spice
  • 1/3 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup of flour 
  • 1/2 rasins
In one large mixing bowl, place all the ingredients. Fold, do not whip ingredients together. You want some density to the mixture. 
Fill the tart shells with pumpkin mixture and then place on sprayed cookie sheet. This mixture will yield up to 40 tarts. Most boxes of tart shells come with about 15, so you should have plenty. 
Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, take out to cool and serve. 

Have a wonderful, safe and most of all healthy holiday. My wishes to all families out there is to enjoy each other and don't let the stresses of the holiday season get to you. 


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Put a little love into it.

My mother was a stockbroker in the 1980's and then pursued her PhD in the 1990's. Somewhere in there she had my little brother. These are not easy undertakings by any stretch of the imagination. However, my mother found time to have dinner on the table every single night. I don't mean precooked nonsense. I mean, full on dinner productions!

Everything was fresh, complex and placed onto the plate just so. She would have me set the table every single night and dinner conversations would last for hours. Wine was always served and if my grandparents where in town, it was even grander. I tell you this, because, while I do not find it necessary to have dinner fit for the Queen of England on the table every single night, I do agree with what my mother was trying to make happen.

You see, it was never about the fancy production, it was about the family. I am sure there were some nights where my mother would of rather kicked up her heals, pour herself a scotch and laid down on the couch with some take out. However, she would come home after a long day at work or school, make sure that Jonathan (my little brother) was played with and then got to work on dinner so that the family could have a couple of hours of togetherness.

Food is an amazing vehicle to connect with each other. I encourage you all to make a meal with your family and include your children in the process. My mother always had me make the salad and set the table. It was a great way to give me responsibility and it gave me a sense of pride.

A sense of pride and accomplishment...hum... what a great gift to give our children.

Tonight, go ahead and make a nice big bowl of pasta with tomato and basil sauce. Some garlic bread and a nice big salad. Simple, delicious and you will never regret the time you spend with cell phones, computers and TVs OFF.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Food Magic

Ever notice that there will always be certain foods that no matter how hard you try, you just can't get your child to eat? And why is it always the foods that are the best for them? It is never a big chocolate chip cookie, it is always fish, broccoli or spinach.

One of the proudest moments I ever had, was when Millie turned down a cookie for her champagne grapes instead. I always wonder why that was? I have never denied her a cookie, but I guess it is true what they say. If you start healthy, you will stay healthy.

Having said that, it has always been a struggle to have her eat fish and leafy greens. So, I have devised a way to get these foods into her diet, while performing a little food magic.

Here is a recipe for my black eyed pea, mango salmon balls. While this recipe does have a bit of prep work involved, it will yield quite a bit that can freeze for up to six months. It is an easy meal to pull out in the middle of the week, heat up and serve. It is a hit in our house with everyone. Safe enough for toddlers one year and older and is complex enough for the adults in your home to enjoy.


Black Eyed Pea, Salmon and Mango Balls:

Tip: If you buy the peas raw and in bulk, you will save your self a lot of money AND there is no sodium like the canned peas. 

  • One cup or one can of black eyed peas
  • Drain canned peas and rinse to get rid of some of the sodium content. 
  • Soak raw peas over night, drain and then put to boil for for 10 minutes.
  • Put to the side to let cool
  • Peal
  • Cut into small cubes
  • Put to side with peas
  • Two salmon fillets (fatty) 
  • Cover each patty individually with tinfoil and put into oven for 20 minutes at 350 F
  • When salmon is done, let cool for about five minutes. 
Get a big bowl to combine salmon, black eyed peas and mango. If you do not have a masher, you can use a large fork or even a food processor. But I really do recommend the masher. Best texture. Make sure you flake the salmon off the skin in order to combine properly. 

When all the ingredients have been mashed together, place into storage bag and put into the refrigerator for up to one hour. Take out after time has elapsed and then place back into bowl. 

  • Add one egg 
  • One cup bread crumbs
  • Salt, pepper and oregano to taste
Start forming balls or patties about one inch thick. Place into hot skillet with olive or grape seed oil and cook through for about five minutes on each side. Place onto plate with paper towel to drain excess oil, let cool and serve. 

For balls not used, place into freezer bags, mark date and store for up to six months. Like I said, there is a wee bit of prep here, but your kids, family heck even your friends will be so impressed! And you have saved money, sodium and nitrate content and you have successfully been able to get all that good salmon into a dish your kids will love. Serve with dill sauce and lemon and baby you got yourself one heck of a midweek dinner!