Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

If you’re looking for a pretty side dish for brunch, a fun preschool snack, or something for the kids after school, try these simple pear cups with cheese cubes!

Breakfast on the patio, anyone?

Breakfast on the patio, anyone?

Pear Cups with Cheese Cubes

1 organic pear per two people (Tip: if your pears are not quite ripe, put them in a paper bag with a banana overnight and the ethylene gas will help ripen the pears)
blocks of cheddar cheese and colby jack cheese (or substitute your favorite hard cheese, or this would even work well with Brie or cottage cheese too. If you use Brie, spoon a little honey mustard on top and the combination will taste like heaven and look pretty too!)


Preparation Time:
5 minutes for each set of two pair halves (Note: try to prepare these cups just before serving. I made mine about an hour before serving and that was fine, but any longer and the pear will brown and the cheese might get soggy from the pear juice).


Rinse and dry the pear. Slice it in half vertically (from stem to bottom). Cut out the core and a little bit extra in the center to create a pear “cup.”

The pear cup, ready for cheese cubes.

The pear cup, ready for cheese cubes.

Cut up the cheese blocks into small cubes and arrange the cubes inside the pear cups, piling the cheese as high as possible. Serve ASAP but you can refrigerate them for an hour or so before serving if desired. You can either eat the cheese and the cups separately, or enjoy them together for a tasty treat!

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Monday meant back to school for my kiddos and that meant back to “work” for me. Three or four weeks per year I bring the snack for the preschool class. What compelled me to be on the list for the week after winter break I don’t know. Thank goodness I put it on my calendar and remembered! I even researched a healthy, fun snack that was inexpensive and easy to prepare. It turned out so cute I’m thinking of serving it for the next kids’ book club meeting for my 2nd and 5th grader and the rest of the moms.

Cucumber Cups with Ranch Dressing and Carrots for Dipping

Ingredients for 30 cucumber cups, 2 each for 15 people:
5 large organic cucumbers (you want to leave the skins on)
1 large bag of at least 60 organic baby carrots (you could use regular, peeled and cut carrot sticks)
1 bottle of organic or homemade ranch dressing

melon baller or similar scooper

Prep time:
20 minutes

Rinse and scrub the cucumbers. Slice off the ends of the cucumbers. Cut them into 2-inch sections, about 6 sections per cucumber depending on the size. Use a melon baller to scoop out the center of each section, creating a “cup” for the ranch dressing. Reserve the scooped-out cucumber to use in a salad or cucumber soup.

Step one: cut a two-inch section of cucumber and scoop out the center, leaving a cucumber "cup."

Step one: cut a two-inch section of cucumber and scoop out the center, leaving a cucumber “cup.”

Into each cucumber “cup,” pour a small amount of ranch dressing and add two baby carrots or carrot sticks.

These fun dipping cups end up looking like rabbit ears or sushi.

These fun dipping cups ended up looking like rabbit ears or sushi.

I knew I had a hit on my hands when my 8- and 10-year-olds wanted to help me make — and EAT — these before school. The preschool kids loved them too. When I asked my 4-year-old if the class liked them, she said they loved them. “Everyone ate 2, or 3, or 4, or 5! I had the most!”

If you’re looking for other healthy snack ideas, check out:

Ants on a Log
Four Fun Pirate-Themed Snacks

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I knew it was Halloween weekend when on my 13-mile run I saw a lady pirate and a skeleton pass me on the trail! Thus happily entertained (and with my friend Stephanie to chat with me for the last 7 miles) I managed to complete the run in 2:01 at an average 9:18 pace including the first mile as a slower warm-up. I’m very happy with that, especially given that it was 84 degrees out with high Santa Ana winds. The only thing I wish in retrospect is that I’d run those 13 miles for a medal at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon on Sunday! What a crackup to see the clever costumes for the race, my favorite being the Runaway Brides!

After my run my family and I donned costumes and headed to my cousin’s House of Hurl for a fun Halloween dinner.

Halloween vampires

This is me two years ago, a few days after I died my hair with henna. Just imagine me now about 15 pounds lighter and with darker hair!

The House of Hurl Halloween Party menu:

Dried Bat Wings w/Gangrene Sauce and Chopped Monster Guts (chips with guacamole and salsa)
Devil’s Eyeballs (deviled eggs topped with olives)

Mummy’s Milk (lemonade)
Vampire Blood (red wine)

Main Course
Graveyard Worms (a spaghetti-like tube pasta called perciatelli)
Zombie Brains in Fresh Blood Sauce (meatballs in marinara sauce)
Witches’ Fingers w/Pus (breadsticks with olive “fingernails” glued on with butter)
Frankenstein Skin, lightly dressed w/Slime (Caesar salad)

Bloody Creepy Crawly Cakes (spider cupcakes)
Werewolf Turds (Baby Ruth bars)
Haunted House Rat (large red gummy rats!)

Batwings with dip

Dried batwings with gangrene sauce and chopped monster guts

Devil's eyeballs

I gobbled up several devil’s eyeballs

flower centerpiece

The dead flowers for a centerpiece were a nice touch!

vampire blood wine

This vampire skipped the vampire blood but appreciated the hospitality!

meatballs in sauce

Zombie brains in fresh blood sauce – yum! Served with “graveyard worms” perciatelli pasta

Halloween treats

Dragon scales (red pepper flakes), mummy wrapping flakes (parmesan cheese) and dragon eyeballs (fresh mozzarella with olives)

witches' fingers

The witch fingers breadsticks were a huge hit with my kids

Halloween salad

Frankenstein skin lightly dressed with slime

Halloween desserts

The werewolf turds and spider cupcakes were delicious!

I hope you all have a spooktacular Halloween! What is your costume going to be this year? I’m getting the most out of that vampire costume!

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Fall is my favorite season. Correction: fall in the midwest is my favorite season. In California, winter is my favorite season. Why? Because the first week in October, we had “fall” temperatures topping 100 degrees. Just makes you want to turn the oven on to bake some pumpkin muffins and turn on the stovetop to simmer some pumpkin soup, right? Seriously, though, I couldn’t wait any longer for the temperatures to drop. Regardless of the temperature outside, this happened. This:

got smashed into this:

Pumpkin guts

which then got scooped out and baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour, peeled and blended into this:

Pumpkin puree

Ten cups of that, to be exact. Yes, I magically turned a $7 jack o’lantern pumpkin into $10 worth of pumpkin puree. (Tip: don’t be like me. Buy the more flavorful, less watery sugar or pie pumpkin instead of the jack o’lantern pumpkin meant for carving. The puree will taste better and certainly be more suitable if you plan to bake a pumpkin pie.) I also turned this (plus two tablespoons of butter and some salt):

Raw pumpkin seeds

into one cup of yummy

Roasted pumpkin seeds

after just 40 minutes on 300 degrees F (toss/stir after 20 minutes).

With the pumpkin puree, I made this amazing pumpkin curry soup from According to Kelly and these dessert-like whole wheat pumpkin muffins from Shut Up and Run. Both were a hit with my family. Only the four-year-old didn’t eat the pumpkin curry soup “because it was too ficy [spicy].” The 7- and 10-year-olds ate their entire bowls and thanked me for making it, so you know it’s a good recipe! In fact I foresee making more soup and muffins ASAP with the seven remaining cups of pumpkin puree I now have waiting for me in the freezer.

What’s your favorite fall recipe? Feel free to leave a link in the comments.

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