Kale & Spinach Pesto

I think I can speak for everyone when I say, kale.is.gross.

It makes me gag.

Don't throw your - "make kale chips" and "saute it with garlic" at me.  

It.doesn't.work. because kale is gross.

Welp.

Imagine my surprise when I tasted a delicious pesto sample on bread this past weekend.

I was visiting my parents and the kids and I wanted to take a ride and do a little shopping for a family party my dad was hosting, so we headed to a cute, unique grocery store (if you're in Poughkeepsie, NY stop by Adams Fairacre Farm - you will like it because it is across the street from the only sbucks in 50 miles).

There were some lovely ladies, giving out samples of organic pesto on yummy bread.  I grabbed one as I was trying to keep two kids from running away - D was legit hanging from the carriage chain (that connects the carriage to other carriages with a lock - you have to detach with a quarter to use it... have you seen this?!  Obvi the people who invented it weren't trying to keep two kids safe in a parking lot!!!).

Now.  I am a sucker for marketing.

Be warned - if put something in a fancy/different package.  I.will.buy.it.

A yummy free sample? I.will.buy.it.

But not kale.

I bought the pesto before I even knew it was kale!!! 

We served it at my parents house on bread - and it was a big hit.

So... off to try and recreate it... 

I added spinach because we had a lot of it, and D loves spinach (because it "makes him huge" -- ok popeye).

It was SO good on fried polenta - but I would imagine it would be great on pasta too.  

If you are a kale h8r like me - TRY THIS!





Kale & Spinach Pesto
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients
1 bag of washed kale (I bought a 10 oz one from Trader Joe’s)

2 cups of fresh spinach

2 HEADS of garlic (not cloves, heads)

1 cup of walnuts

1 cup of grated/shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese

1 cup(ish) of olive oil

Cut heads of garlic in half (horizontally).  Put on a cookie sheet (with sides) and drench in olive oil (be generous) at 400 degrees.

Saute kale and spinach with some olive oil (be generous).

As garlic is softening, when the sides just start to brown, add walnuts to the pan and continue roasting.

Take kale and spinach out of the pan just before they are cooked through (maybe 5-7 minutes) – they should still a bright green, and not totally soft/soggy.

When you start to smell the nuts toasting (just a couple of minutes) take the nuts and the garlic out.  Use tongs to hold garlic head halves upside down over the pan.  Squeeze – the garlic cloves kind of pop out.  You can help them out with a fork. 

Put spinach and kale, garlic and nuts, and cheese (along with the olive oil they cooked in) into food processor.  Process.



As you’re processing add a little more olive oil until everything becomes smooth, and a consistency you like.

Spread on bread, pasta, or like we did, fried polenta.


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I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3






One Organic Mess

There was a movement on facebook and twitter a few months ago called no more #fakebook.  It pointed out that if you just look at peoples' facebook pictures - you might think that nothing ever goes wrong, that all pictures have smiles, that babies never cry, that recipes never end up over the hill <a place where a few of my failed attempts have ended up>.

While I am not an online complainer <you know who I mean... their facebook statuses read like this: wahhhhh my house is messy I don't have time to clean it.... wahhhhh my baby won't sleep through the night... wahhhhh my husband is a lowlife and won't change a diaper when he gets home from abandoning me at work all day... etc> I did just want to put two of my organic messes online today.

Organic Mess #1:  Pinterest project gone wrong.
you are supposed to be able to grow a new pineapple from an old stump.  What was I thinking?!  Note the mold.


Organic Mess #2:  #neglectedsecondchild eats coffee from trash while I was counseling the other child on how best to get dizzy.
Yup.  Mom.of.the.year.

Note how happy my mess is.

Hope you have an Organically Messy day!!


___________________________________________________________

I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3


Entertaining with Toppah

First let me start out by saying there has been some <family> controversy about the spelling of "Toppah."

<if you don't know who I am talking about - get to know Toppah here>  

I always thought of it as Tappah.

Apparently I was wrong.  

I was corrected.  It is Toppah.

There.

That's out of the way.

So anyhow back to entertaining.

This weekend my parents were hosting a family get together <read 40 people>.

Growing up my grandmother did this every Sunday.  My parents didn't entertain much - because our house was SMALL.  Our kitchen was beyond small.  This much have been exceptionally frustrating for my dad, a kitchen designer.  Recently, my parents moved into their 'forever' house, after 30 years in their 'starter home'.  It has ample room to entertain, which is good since they have four grandsons under 4 running around it all the time :)

I have learned from my mom, dad and grandmother how to properly entertain.  I am here to pass on Toppah's words of wisdom on the subject.

Here are some common entertaining problems and questions and Toppah's advice.



Toppah, how early, often, and where do you shop when you are entertaining?
Toppah sez: shop early and often.  

You will have to go to at LEAST 4 different stores not including the wine store.  Stores should include but are not limited to; Costco, Stew Leonard's, Hannaford, Diciccio's, Whole Foods (not open yet but it will be when I entertain next) and Stop and Crap Shop.  No matter how much advanced planning there is you will have to go out 2-3 times the morning of the event to make certain there is ample food.  Typically the morning of stops are for additional appetizers and chips.

Even after the last shopping stop, you will have to call your brother and sister in law to pick up things like avocados, a red onion  2-3 additional pastry type desserts, a 1/2 gallon of each - vanilla & coffee ice cream & 100 16oz red and blue plastic cups.

ALWAYS leave your car in a spot where you can get out after the guests arrive for the final, final, final run to the store.


Toppah, what earth friendly measures do you take at your gatherings?
Toppah sez: none.  Well one.  Guests are encouraged to use a black sharpie, located next to the cups (brought by your brother and sister in law) to write your name on their cup.  Your REAL name is not required.  You are welcome to make up a funnier name.  Towards the end of the gathering it becomes difficult to remember what you named yourself and you will need a new cup as by now someone either is using it, or in cleaning up, threw it out.


Toppah, what protein is best to serve at a gathering?  Chicken, ribs, steak, turkey, or burgers?
Toppah sez: you need to serve at least two proteins.  This way if someone doesn't want one - you will have another.  

Prepare enough of each for everyone to have a serving and a half.  You never know what people will want more of - and you NEVER want to run out.  Head to the store if you need more.


Toppah, what vegetables should you serve and how many?
Toppah sez: There are a few options.  At least two cooked vegetables that compliment the meal and one uncooked should be served.  Some of my go-to veggies include (all homemade - homegrown if possible) - Eggplant parm, brussels sprouts, green beans, and tomato salad.  You can have more, but not less.

Toppah, what starch should be served?
Toppah sez: at least two.  Options include: homemade pasta, homemade ravioli, polenta, or fresh bread... you can serve something else - like rice, potatoes, or something... but you probably shouldn't.

You will ALWAYS underestimate how much time making pasta takes.  Even with the best calculations you will underestimate by 3 or more hours.  So it is best to start at 5 am or the day before - this leaves time for the last minute shopping trips you will need.


Toppah, on what holidays do you entertain?
Toppah sez: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Italian Thanksgiving <a made up family holiday>, Summer, Christmas Eve, St. Joseph's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Easter, February, Halloween, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Fall.

Questions for Toppah?  Need some advice?  Post your question below!  

<I still think Toppah is the wrong spelling...>



___________________________________________________________

I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3



8 Things a Baby REALLY Needs

So my amazing cousin has lived in Okinawa for the past 8 years.  

There she has taught at a Christian school, found herself a wonderful husband, and she came home last year to get married!  

We get to see her once or twice a year, and we were psyched when we heard she was making a quick trip stateside this past weekend.  We shuffled around our plans so we could head to my parents' house and hang out with her and some of my other cousins and aunts and uncles.

While we were baby gossiping, she asked my sister and I what things she absolutely NEEDED for the baby. 

<let me back up>

My cousin's husband is in the military.  They will be changing bases when the baby is THREE months old - it was hard for me to even leave the house at that point!!  She's amazing!  Right now they are in Okinawa but it is likely they will be moved somewhere in Europe.  She really wanted to know the LEAST she could get for the baby - but to obviously have everything she needs.  She can invest in some bigger items once the move was over but for the beginning here is what I told her she needed.


<none of these are affiliate links - honestly - I don't even know how to do it! haha - just thought you might want more information>

#1: A carrier, of some type.  I love my Ergo.

#2: A Rock 'n Play.  So far - no one - I repeat - NO ONE - i know that has one of these doesn't like it.  I picked it for my cousin because it folds up and travels SO easily and takes up very little room.  It will fit right next to her bed well past the move.  No need to buy a big crib, assemble it, and have to move it.  E was in his until well over 5 months!

#3: A regular digital thermometer - newsflash - you can stick that under their arm.  You don't need some special smancy thermometer (and the bum ones... not my style).  You can buy it at the grocery store or the pharmacy next to the Tylenol. 

#4: Motherlove Nipple cream.  I said it. Nipple.

#5: Disposable breast pads.  Yup, I love the environment - but sorry, the washable ones aren't enough for me!

#6: Muslin swaddling blankets.  They are big enough to last until your babe is huge, cozy enough for when it's cold, and breathable enough for when it's warm (or you happen to live in a tropical humid climate... like Okinawa).

#7: A travel system.  It's nice to say you're always going to wear your baby, and most of the time I do - but with the amount of air travel that this baby is going to be doing, it might be nice to have a place for him to sit, and for his mama to put some of his stuff!  Also having a car seat that can move easily through the airport and be checked at the gate might be useful! I really liked just putting my babe into a convertible car seat and carrying almost everywhere - but realistically - when you are taking flights around the world (sometimes that take more than 24 hours with layovers etc) - you need to have a place for your stuff, and for your baby so you can... pee, eat, rest etc.

#8: Dipes and wipes: I'll convert her to cloth when she is in her new house I promise!  I like the chlorine free and unscented ones when I do use sposies.  <3

Things I didn't think she needed right away:

Bottles (who knows which ones if any her little will want - no point in buying a bunch before he is here - only to have to pack up stuff she isn't using anyway - her husband can go out and get some if the need arises).

A crib.

Cloth dipes... not yet... 

Lots of clothes - people give you this anyway - no point in overstocking before you know how big (or little) he will be!

A convertible car seat - she can get one once she moves - again no need to buy something just to pack and move it!

Burp cloths and bibs - again people give you this stuff - and even if they don't - the blankets can double as those things.

A changing table.  Can't you do that anywhere?

A pack n play.  Again - it's good to have, nice for traveling, but the Rock 'n Play is easier in the beginning - and it is the right height to be right next to your bed without having to get up or bend to grab the baby in the night <3 

A bouncer, jumper, high chair, excersaucer, or other "station."  If she wants this stuff - she can grab it when she moves.  I found with my second baby - you don't really need ANY of it :) we just used one of those travel booster seats once E started eating at 6 months.  Fits with the table and isn't always rolling all around in the way! 

Anything I missed from needed list? Let me know! 

Here is a quick shot of B and E this weekend - enjoying some story time <3


___________________________________________________________

I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3


We deserve better too.

Let me start by saying I don't need an excuse to get lost at the grocery store.  I could arrive at Wegmans, be there four hours, and come home thinking I was gone 30 minutes.  Add a coffee to that - and you can comfortably add another hour.

With that said, I got a bit... distracted during a recent trip.

I usually shop around the outside of the store (veggies, meats, dairy... wine, sushi, you know - the essentials).  I also usually go to Wegmans when there is no one there, 6am on a Sunday.  

So... midday Saturday things are considerably more crowded.  I was 'sneaking' down an interior isle when I came upon a 'European' section.  I thought to myself... ooooo maybe something yummy and Italian lives here <read real nutella>?!  So I looked around and found a bunch of English stuff (no offense... just not what I was looking for).  I picked up a couple of cans and flipped them around to look at the ingredients... and was intrigued.  It seemed liked these (AMERICAN) imports (that have been exported, imported, exported, and imported again to get here) had semi-real ingredients.  No corn syrup either.

Now I HAD to compare...

<before you continue - you should know I am working with a phone that doesn't have the internet and perhaps has the very first camera phone ever - I will transcribe the ingredients from their respective websites after as there is NO way you can read them off my excellent pictures.>


Let's start with the soups shall we?!


Campbell’s Tomato Soup (USA)

Water, Tomato(es) Paste, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Salt, Spice(s) Extractive, Wheat Flour,Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid
Heinz Creamy Tomato Soup (UK)

Tomatoes (84%), Water, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Modified Cornflour, Salt, Dried Skimmed Milk, Milk Proteins, Cream, Spice Extracts, Herb Extract, Citric Acid

Interesting isn't it? Lots of tomatoes in the non-US one.  A bit depressing that the US version is just tomato paste reconstituted no?

Let's move on to the Spaghettios.  Before I show you the lists... can you just for one second look at the FRONT of the can.  The marketing is making Spaghettios seem like you're basically eating vegetables right?!  

'Healthy Kids!'
'Low Fat'
'Vegetables for the Day!'

My goodness.


Spaghettios (USA)

Water, Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains Less than 2% of: Salt, Enzyme Modified Cheddar Cheese (Cheddar Cheese [Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Calcium Chloride], Water, Disodium Phosphate, Enzymes), Flavoring, Potassium Chloride, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Cottonseed, Canola and/or Soybean), Enzyme Modified Butter (Milk), Skim Milk, Paprika Extract, Citric Acid.
Spaghetti and Hoops (UK)

Tomatoes (47%), Spaghetti Hoops (42%, Water, Durum Wheat Semolina), Water, Sugar, Modified Cornflour, Salt, Citric Acid, Spice, Garlic Salt, Herb Extract, Spice Extract

Do I even need to write anything? 

Really Spahettios?!  
Really?!  
Good thing you guys have 'macaroni product.'  I was worried it was all just crap.

Ugh.  

What have I learned today?
1. DON'T go to Wegmans mid-day on a Saturday
2. DON'T walk through the center of the store
3. DON'T.ever.buy.spaghettios. 


___________________________________________________________

I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3

Taco Pizza


I'm bored with dinner, I am sick of cooking the same stuff.

"How about something different like taco pizza?"

A wonderful idea thanks to my wonderful husband.

Life.
Changing.

Pizza will never be the same.  Tacos will never be the same.  Dinner will never be the same.

Never.

Ok... maybe dinner will... we are just going to keep making this.

So... first you need some homemade pizza crust.  Don't just use regular boring pizza crust.  What you NEED is something taco-y.  Like cornbread but pizza crust.  It's easy peasy because you just put it in the bread maker!

What you need is my Corn Pizza Crust:
CORN Pizza Crust for Taco Pizza
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients
1 cup of corn flour
½ cup of corn meal
1 ½ cups of white flour (I haven’t tried whole wheat)

1 cup of warm water
2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp yeast


Put in bread machine according to instructions.  Set on dough cycle.

When cycle is through let rise (either in the bread machine for a bit or somewhere else).

Roll out, drizzle on a generous amount of olive oil (and rub it into the dough, and bake on 400!  

I split it in 2 and made two pies.  Depending on how thick you like your crust and how big of a pan you have - use your judgement on keeping it as one big ball.  I like my pizza to fit my silpats. :)


Now... onto the pizza.

For sauce - I used enchilada sauce.  It is easy enough to make (you probably have the three necessary ingredients) - so don't buy the processed version.  I like the one from 100 Days of Real Food - found here. Basically it's a can of tomato sauce (no salt), cinnamon, and chili powder.  I don't usually adhere to measurements but that's the gist. 



Next you will need some kind of protein.  Veggies?  Use black beans.  Meaties?  We used ground beef - browned, a can of black beans (rinsed) cooked together with the following spices (DON'T use a spice pack... they have lots of icky things):
Taco Pizza
We use organic, fair trade, and or local ingredients
2 Corn Pizza Crusts

2 cups of enchilada sauce

1 lb of beef
1 can of black beans rinsed
1 tsp of each: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (if you’re into that kinda thing… we are)

Cheddar cheese (2 cups)
Monterey cheese (1 cup)
 x
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
Sliced black olives
avocados

1 cup of sour cream
½ tsp of paprika
½ tsp of chili powder
A couple dashes of red hot sauce

Prepare crust.

Prepare enchilada sauce and set aside.

Brown beef (you can leave it out if you don’t do meat – I don’t think you would miss it).  Mix in beans and spices, let cook a couple minutes (I used a fork to mash everything up together a bit).

Grate cheese (don’t use that pre-grated stuff with wood pulp in it please).  

When pizza crust is partially cooked (firm), remove from oven and top with sauce, meat/bean mixture, and cheese.  Cook until cheese is melted.

Mix sour cream, spices and hot sauce.  Put in plastic bag and snip one corner.

Take out and top with taco toppings.  Drizzle on sour cream mixture.

Eat.

Never have regular tacos again.




It's like eating the most delicious nachos except instead of chips... they are on delicious, crispy, cornbread. 

SO good.  

Make it. 
Right now.



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I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3



Chicken Pot Pie

So a while ago I wrote this post: 

Easy Whole Crock Pot Chicken.

It's my most viewed post.

For realz.

Then I wrote this one about what to do with the leftovers: 

Leftover Chicken Soup.

Since I make this crock pot chicken at least twice a month - I have other things to do with the leftovers.  My current favorite... chicken pot pie.


 So... I chopped up all the leftovers and set them aside.

I then made a thick sauce.

3 tbs butter, 3 tbs flour - cook together for 2 minutes.

I then added some stock (about 2 cups) - from the crock pot where I was making stock from the chicken bones.

I whisked in the stock until the flour and butter was incorporated.  I then added a cup of milk and whisked it in.

Add in your leftovers.

I topped each crock with a rectangle of pastry crust (I used this recipe: Basic Pastry Dough, from Martha Stewart).

I then baked it up at 350 for 45 minutes until everything was bubbly and delicious.

I dump the whole thing out and put ketchup all over it... don't judge. 

___________________________________________________________


I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3

High Five for Friday

It is good this week to look back and focus on FIVE good things that happened.  We are so blessed and it is nice to remind myself of that at the end of each week!  Here is this week's HIGH five!


One: As I write this it is back to snowing a little... but I swear it was SPRING in my yard this week!

Two: Happy Birthday BUDDY!  I can't believe my funny, adorable, smart nephew is THREE already!!

Three: One Organic Tappah.  Funny, confused, Yankee fan... my dad, guest posted on my blog.  If you haven't read it... it's quick and funny... read it now

Four: Best pic of the week.  My E with dolls made by my grandma!

Five: High Five for new bloggy friends with whom I am co-hosting a LINKUP on Thursday (perfect naptime pass time!) COME BACK on Thursday to 

The Pin it Party

and pin your best post of the week!  Mark your calendar!  Also check out Ellie's awesome blog here!  If you blog and you don't link up... I'll be stalking you Thursday afternoon! xo!

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I share my posts here.  It's an awesome list.  Check it out.  Seriously.  It's a great list and if you visit blog parties you are going to want to check them out!  It's up to date, organized by day, and the links all work <3


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