Sicilian Sauce with Eggplant and Tomatoes

My husband and I went to Italy on our honeymoon.  For two weeks we toured all around - Sicily, Sorrento, Rome & Venice.  Having kids is great... but this was the best two weeks of my life!  The food, the wine, the people, the history... so beautiful.  I am SO glad we did it then - because now with two kids I can't envision a time we will be able to go again... I am already worried about a car-ride to VA in September as E screams for even a 5 minute drive :)


During our time in Sicily - what we loved most about the food was the FRESH seafood and the fact that eggplant seemed to be in every sauce.  Growing up in a house that didn't embrace all that eggplant offers - it was new to me and soooo yummy!  With fresh eggplant available this time of year (not from my garden yet... but from the farmers' markets) I have been integrating it into everything!  This recipe turned out really well - and served over Lobster Ravioli - mmmmmm.

Here's the recipe:

2 small or one large eggplant (I used white)
1/4 cup of flour
sea salt
pepper
3 tbs of olive oil
3 tbs of butter
2 tbs of tomato paste
1 cup of white wine
1+ cup of water (use your judgement about how much to add)
1 cup of pasta water
2 cups of grape tomatoes cut in half
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
2 tbs of Italian seasoning (we have a mix from Italy... from our honeymoon)
1 cup of fresh basil
2 tsp of honey

Dice the eggplant (small) and coat it in flour and salt and pepper.

Fry it in the olive oil and butter (I split both and did it in two batches) - depends on the size of the pan you have :)  It's important to use a pan that some of the brown bits can stick to (a non-non-stick? pan).  It provides some yummy flavor for your sauce.


When your eggplant is browned remove it from the pan and add 2 tbs of tomato paste - fry it for a minute or two - it will stick to the pan - but that is good.  Then add the wine to de-glaze the pan - stir it all around to scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add in a cup+ of water, the tomatoes and the eggplant back to the pan.  Add in spices, honey and half of the basil.



Let the sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Taste frequently and season to taste.  Cook whatever pasta you would like to serve the sauce on.  UNDERCOOK the pasta.  Add a cup of the pasta water to your sauce and then the undercooked pasta.  Let it finish cooking in the sauce... it makes the sauce creamier and the pasta yummier!

Enjoy with Parmesan cheese and the remaining basil sprinkled on top of each serving. 


1/4 cup of the sauce is 2 WW points.  You probably won't even use that much - but it is SO worth it.


Honey Lemon Car Tea


Full disclosure. 

I didn't want to look for the teapot. 

My grandma used to make sun tea all the time when we were little.  I thought it was called sun tea because she let it steep on the sun dial in the yard. 

Mine steeped on the top of my car - Car Tea... and I almost forgot about it. 

Recipe:
3 decaf, organic tea bags
3 cups of water

3+ hours out on the top of the car in the sun!

3 teaspons of honey
3-5 more cups of water (depending on how strong you like your tea)

When I served it (to myself) - I added a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint.

It made my day MUCH  better yesterday - and I plan to enjoy the rest today.

It is NOT toddler approved... he hated it :) 

Good.

More for me!

Laundry Day

Just looking at the heaps of divided laundry in my basement makes my back hurt.  To think of lugging it up two flights of stairs and then leaning over my bed to fold it... ugh.

On a lighter note - I decided to make my own fabric softener - this makes me forget about my back and smile - because I feel all crunchy and crafty - two of my favorite... not me... things! 

Here is my recipe:

1 bottle of Organic Trader Joe's conditioner (it was 16.9 oz)
3 cups of white vinegar
6 cups of hot water (from the tap)

I put the conditioner in an old container of fabric softener (it took a lot of squeezing and D loved the "fart" noises the bottle made... a definite toddler activity!)  I then added all the water and shook it up - it took a long time to dissolve... I'm not sure it ever really did - I think I will shake it every time I use it.

Then I poured some of the vinegar into the conditioner bottle and shook it up to get the last bits of conditioner out - added it and the rest of the vinegar into the old softener container and shook it up and danced around the kitchen.

Here are the results:


The laundry is fluffy enough and it does not have a heavy scent.  I may pick up some essential oils and add a few drops to it - if I can manage to get screamy and cranky in the car later... but until then the laundry smells fresh and clean and is soft.  Next time - I may use a little more conditioner for even more softness :)

Prosciutto Wrapped Haddock



4 Points.

That's right!  Prosciutto Wrapped Haddock for FOUR points!

This was yummy, quick, and according to my husband "restaurant quality."

You will need some white fish - buy whatever looks yummy, is cheap, is wild caught and American/Canadian - we used haddock.

Each piece was about 4oz or a little less.
Lay out the fish on a cutting board and drizzle with a smidge of olive oil
Sprinkle some black pepper
Sprinkle a very small amount of cut fresh basil (a little goes a long way here - your fish could taste like prosciutto wrapped basil... which I guess wouldn't be so bad either...)
Wrap each piece of fish in a piece of prosciutto

You do NOT need additional salt - the prosciutto takes care of that for you.



Bake in the oven at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until fish is firm.  While baking make the following lemon butter sauce.

In a sauce pan melt 2 tbs of butter
Add in some fresh thyme and turn the burner off - let the flavors meld
zest half a lemon into the butter
squeeze half of the lemon in the butter


When the fish is done drizzle each portion with a tsp of your lemon butter.  Since it is only really half butter (in each tsp) it is no points unless you put more than a tsp on - which you do not need - it is very flavorful! 

I served it with fresh veggie salad.  Nothing is better than using herbs and veggies that I grew and serving safe and healthy food to my family.

Oh.

We also had tater tots, they didn't make the picture :)


Fresh Veggie Salad


So last year I vowed to create an organic garden to help feed my family, safely and cheaply - mission accomplished. 

Now I have the challenging task of dealing with...

ZUCCHINI.

Lots and lots of zucchini.  I was a fool.  Planted TWO squash plants - how was I to know.  They are so huge that today I realized there was a third growing underneath them.  Sheesh.  We can't keep up with it.  We seriously eat squash everyday for both lunch and dinner.

Zucchini pancakes, grated up in sauce, grated up in burgers, grated up in everything.

This fresh veggie salad was delicious and an easy use for these healthy, fresh, garden veggies.  I used cucumbers and zucchini from the garden and organic tomatoes from Trader Joes (ours are not ripe yet).

So here is the recipe:

1 large zucchini or 2 small sliced in half moons
1 large cucumber or 2 small sliced in half moons
1 1/2 cups of grape tomatoes sliced in half

Now... if you play your Weight Watchers right - really you are just counting points for the olive oil here - so adjust amounts as needed to taste/counting :)  I charged myself one point for the olive oil and honey - but really I am probably over estimating.

olive oil (just a little)
honey (just a little - half a tsp)
balsamic vinegar (maybe 1/4 cup)
LOTS of fresh basil from the garden
sea salt
pepper
garlic powder (1/2 tsp)

It was delicious !! - my husband ate the entire bowl (after me and D each had a serving).

Best Bridal Shower Gift!

Today we had a wonderful bridal shower for my future sister in law.  I found the coolest gift to craft for her (via pinterest... where else...). 

The site I found it on is here: http://www.occasionsonline.com/from-the-editor/bridal-shower-gift-wine-basket-poem-tutorial-free-download-6099  There are some downloads for the tags - but that would be TOO EASY - I needed to find cool fonts and do it on my own :) 

Here is a picture of the completed gift.

First Fight

Wedding Night

First Dinner Party

Christmas Eve

First Anniversary

If I could figure out how to post a word document here - I would... but I am not that techno-savy... if you want it - comment with your email and I will send one along :)



A Year of Dates


For our anniversary this year I gave my husband a Year of Dates.  I got this idea from my sister - who I am sure got it from pinterest... or google... nothing is unique anymore right?  Well in any case - I thought it was such a cute idea I figured I would share the results.  I stayed up late "crafting" (this is about as crafty as this organic mama gets) each month (translation... finding a new font to download and a picture to match...) and facebooking all of my friends pleading for babysitters!  I was pretty pleased with how it turned out!

For July our date will be a night of Scrabble - something we used to play all the time but never have time for anymore!  For August we will be going to dinner and a movie!

September is a VERY busy month for us as we have two weddings and will be traveling for one of them.  I picked a museum to go to with our children and a kid-friendly lunch.  For October we are going to our favorite local farm - Tougas - for apple picking (something that has drastically changed since we have kids... don't pick that apple it is rotten, stop running toward the tractor, etc) - it should be much quieter without the kiddos.

For November I picked his favorite movies (also my least favorite) - Back to the Future.  We are going to do take out and a movie marathon - complete with a new card game!

January is usually pretty snowy (although this past year wasn't) - so thinking about that for January I picked another family activity day.  For this I included a cute new book of kid activities!

We HATE doing the conventional Valentine's Day crap so for February I bought a new cookbook of brunches for us to use and hopefully we can choose a day to cook together.

For March I chose a date that was something we used to do in college.  We used to walk on Newbury St. in Boston all the time - so I picked that!  For April we have been wanting to try our a winery close to where we live that does lunch and picnics in the orchard - so that is the April date.

For May I organized a getaway to our new favorite place - The Attwater in Newport!  Then for the last date I chose a family day in one of our state parks.

Again - I didn't invent this idea - but maybe writing about will inspire you to set some time aside for your family too!

Hop on over to these blogs where - if they are lucky - I'll share this :)     

Zucchini & Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken

Anything with prosciutto is delicious and this chicken wasn't any different.  My son called it "ham" as he was eating at a snail's pace with the toothpick from the chicken and I almost jumped across the table - this isn't HAM! It is imported, $25 a pound prosciutto that I happened to have left over and will make ANY dish it touches fantastic.


Then I remembered, he's three, and it totally looks like ham.

Zucchini & Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken
6 Weight Watcher points per roll up

I used about 1/3 of a chicken breast for each roll - I trimmed ANY fat off and then cut them really thin and pounded them out

I filled each with:

1 piece of prosciutto
1/2 of a piece of muenster cheese (any melty cheese would be good though)
a bunch of grated zucchini
a sprinkle of bread crumbs

I rolled them up and secured them with toothpicks and then sprinkled the top of each with:

sea salt
a bit more bread crumbs

I sprayed a baking dish and cooked them for about 30 minutes and they turned out really well. 

I can't think of a better way to spend 6 points (except of course on a glass and a half of Malbec).

Zucchini & Watermelon Salad

We have zucchini.

LOTS of zucchini.  So I am trying to be creative as well as healthy in preparing it.  Since we had a busy day yesterday - the kiddos napped LONG naps today - which gave me time to try to be creative in my zucchini dishes.

Bread = fail.  The yeast is done.  It is like a whole wheat zucchini hockey puck in the bread maker.  I am going to finish it - because the last time this happened - my husband really loved the... unleavened? bread - but I can't imagine anyone else is going to eat it.

Next up...

Zucchini & Watermelon Salad

As it is July 5th... we have a bunch of left over watermelon - and since zucchini really doesn't taste like anything (neither does watermelon...) I figured they would go well together.

1 zucchini
about a cup of watermelon

Both sliced in ribbons (I used the mandolin for the zucchini)

For the dressing:

1 lemon squeezed and zested
2 tbs of honey
2 tbs of olive oil
some fresh mint (which - I am still not sure if I like mint - but people do so I am trying to like it) - I think basil would work though too
sea salt to taste


If nothing else - this dish is very pretty.  It was fresh and D was happy we could have "watermelon for dinner - that's so silly mom."

Sesame Salmon

Yum.

Ok.  Full disclosure.  It wasn't that good.

BUT... it would have been had I not overcooked it.  In my defense - kids were screaming and I forgot about the fish on the grill in the kitchen until it was too late. 

The flavoring however was good so I figured I would share :)

Sesame Salmon
6 oz. was 7 points - I tacked on an extra point for the sauce/marinade - but in the end I don't think all that much really ends up on it :)

I started with about a pound of wild caught Salmon - which is less Weight Watcher points and better for you than farmed Salmon - while I prefer wild caught seafood - sometimes it is impossible to buy it exclusively.  At the very least I typically make sure my fish is not from the Vietnam area... no offense - but after learning about the toxic weapons we used there - the last thing I want is fish that are from the water where the weapon material drained during the following rainy season. 

Thank you to my grad school history professor for ruining most fish for me by explaining how the toxins are still there - as I don't know much about science I just took her word for it and have tried to avoid it ever since.

I marinated the Salmon for a couple of hours in the following (notice the very precise measurements):
3ish spoonfuls of honey
1 lemon squeezed and zested
a couple of squirts of stone ground mustard
a little bit of sesame oil
a bunch of dried ginger
some sea salt

I grilled the salmon on the George Forman grill (for much too long).

When I was finished overcooking it - I drizzled it with a little bit of the following sauce:
honey
lemon juice
stone ground mustard

I then sprinkled on some sesame seeds.

The flavor was really really good.

I served it with brown rice (cooked in water and lemon juice and a little honey) and some FRESH from the farmer's market snow peas.

D loved it all - especially the finishing sauce - which he asked for more of and wanted "on the rice too." 



Healthy(ish) Banana Bread


Dieting. Organic. Non-processed(ish). While nursing. 

Ugh.

I am in a constant battle with weight... and just when I hit a weight I was kinda happy with (although I wasn't happy with the size clothes still...) bam.

Pregnant. 

Don't get me wrong, I am THRILLED to eat for 9 months for 2 (even though one is the size of a raisin for most of the time and DOESN'T need any additional food) - but afterwards I am left with all the flabby, unattractive in a bathing suit results. 

Now, there are those women that "the weight just falls off if you nurse" that my OB told me about.  I hate those people. 

My sister.

My mom.

All skinny new moms. 

Ok. I don't hate them. 

But it is really a struggle for me.  Even though I am nursing sometimes every hour (mostly night time...), and even though I am chasing a 3 year old, forgetting to eat until what is it right now... 12:06 pm... it is still a struggle for me to lose weight.

What amplifies this is my family's love for food and the fact that MOST of them gain NO weight eating pasta laden with olive oil and sausage and bags and bags of chocolate chips ("that's a healthy fat"... flash to a picture of a half a cup of olive oil going into a pan to fry up some garlic and sausage).

Additionally, since I had kids and started caring about what they eat, I do my best to eat whole, non-processed, healthier foods.  This makes dieting hard - because less processed also means more fat (ie: whole milk, whole fat yogurt, no little pre-portioned Weight Watchers two point snacks).

One example of food that I love to hate is my mama's banana bread.  In hopes of making a piece of banana bread that isn't 10 Weight Watcher points... I created this healthier banana bread recipe... it's not so bad and still has the chocolate chips, nuts, and bananas :) and short of the processing of flour and chocolate chips - it is less processed and organic if you buy the right ingredients.

Banana Bread - 5 points a piece
(14 servings... if you cut skinny slices - 6 points a piece of you cut it into 12 or 13 slices)

1  1/2 cups flour (I used mostly whole wheat flour, a little white flour, and steel cut oats)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use 60% coco chips and mini semi-sweet mixed together - I like that there are big areas of chocolate and little areas of chocolate)
1 egg
4 large bananas
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup sugar (I might make this 1/4 of a cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch of sea salt

I mixed up all of the wet ingredients (ok to be honest - my 3 year old mixed them for about 20 minutes while I tried to con my 2 month old into going back to sleep by feeding him for the 6th time this morning... oh still haven't eaten either...) in one bowl and all of the dry ingredients in the other bowl.  I added in the walnuts and chocolate chips (ok he did... and ate some in the process... I was in the other room again...).  We reserved some walnuts and oats to sprinkle on the top... but just a few.

I put it in the oven at 350 for about an hour (give or take a few settings of the timer and figuring out how it works... I rarely bake and therefore I rarely measure to the minute any of my cooking) in an organically pam-med bread baking pan.

On a side note it worked like a charm as a bribe for my 3 year old to take a nap.  Baked at the correct time of day it can be used to encourage a decent nap before eating.

Ok.  Time to try eating a skinny piece for my first meal of the day... I can eat it as I sip my ice cold coffee poured at 6am that hasn't left the counter... oh wait... is that the baby crying?


UPDATE: After trying this - NO need for sugar next time - there is chocolate in every bite!  Also... down to 4 points a slice!!
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