The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

holiday penguin hors d’oeuvres!

Today I’d like to share a Thanksgiving staple in my family. It’s a fun little hors d’oeuvre that is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any gathering, really. It is a real crowd pleaser and if I ever showed up at Thanksgiving dinner without them I may not get in the door!

You will need:

2 8oz. packages of cream cheese (spreadable or softened)
3-4 medium sized carrots
3-4 cans of large olives
Serving tray
Toothpicks
Piping bag (not necessary but speeds the process tremendously)

We have been making these for years so we have developed a pretty efficient system. It’s easiest if you prep everything first and then assemble the little guys.
To prep, you’ll need to slice a small wedge out of half of the olives (~2 cans). Peel and slice 2-3 carrots into ~1/8″ slices. Peel and slice 1 carrot the same, only you’ll need to cut these slices into wedges for beaks.
This is what your prepped penguin parts should look like:

20121122-110608.jpg
With your piping bag filled with softened cream cheese, fill the olives that you removed a sliver from. These will be your penguin bodies. Make sure you fill them enough that they are nice and plump with plenty of white showing.

20121125-113030.jpg
For the penguin heads you’ll take the slivered carrot beaks and stuff them into the ‘x’ of the remaining (whole) olives.
At this point take a round cookie sheet or serving dish and spread a nice layer of cream cheese over it. This will be your iceberg and hold the penguins in place… momentarily… before they’re devoured.
You are now ready to assemble your penguin army. Stick a toothpick through a penguin head, followed by a body and then a carrot slice for feet.
Tadaa! An adorable, tasty penguin.

20121125-113859.jpg
Stand him up on your serving iceberg and repeat until you run out of parts. Here is our finished tray of deliciousness:

20121125-114220.jpg
This is a seriously simple hors d’oeuvre that kids of all ages will love. We have a pseudo-brother-in-law that literally squeals with delight when the penguins arrive. (He’s in his forties, by the way.) His reaction alone makes these handsome little devils worth the effort. Next time you’re stumped on what to bring to that holiday party give these a try and see the fantastic reactions you get! Just be warned… you may be expected to bring them every year to follow. Enjoy!

4 Comments »

fresh friday: buttercup squash soup!

Autumn has arrived! Falling leaves, chilly mornings and crisp cool air…
Isn’t it just amazing how a change in the air can control your cravings? For me lately it’s been buttercup squash. We love it roasted and mashed with warm freshly roasted garlic! It just tastes like fall! There’s also apples, pumpkins and classic fall spices. And hot cider… and baked goods… and red wine… Fall sure is delicious!

For fresh Friday this week I am sharing a scrumptious fall soup recipe. To be honest, I’m not a huge soup fan. Except in the fall, when flavors such as these are at their peak.

buttercup squash soup

ingredients

  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 medium onion, coursely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, coursely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & chopped
  • 1 large potato, cubed
  • 1 large buttercup squash, peeled, seeded & cubed
  • 4 c. stock or water
  • 1/2 c. cream

20120928-125650.jpg
Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and sauté until tender. Add potatoes, carrots and jalapeño and stir to coat. Add buttercup chunks, followed by stock or water. (For this batch I used Pacific organic free range low sodium chicken stock. Just be aware of the sodium content if you choose to use a chicken or vegetable stock.)

20120928-125742.jpg

Bring pot to simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer in batches into blender or food processor and purée. Return to a large pot or, in this case, a crock pot. Once everything has been puréed, stir in cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy hot!

20120928-125809.jpg

This is such a fantastically tasty soup! I can’t wait to enjoy some… tomorrow. This batch is going to a Harvest Moon Celebration that we will be attending tomorrow! I can’t wait to share it. Perfect for a crisp fall day. For maximum enjoyment, devour with some crusty bread and Octoberfest! Yum. Fall flavors at their finest!

Enjoy and happy Friday!!

4 Comments »

fresh friday: sun-dried tomato pesto!

Still buried in tomatoes over here!  We are still enjoying them, though and we are starting to get pretty creative.  I’ve been making a LOT of classic pesto this summer so this week I decided to make one of my husband’s favorites. Sun dried tomato pesto!  So good.

 I did a bunch of research online about oven drying tomatoes and I decided to give that a try. We do own a dehydrator but it would have taken DAYS for tomatoes to dry.  I just wasn’t feeling that patient.  I’m still not so sure about the oven drying, but for this purpose it worked out fine.  And the outcome was delicious!

To dry the tomatoes, I simply set the oven to 250 and placed the halved tomatoes on parchment lined baking sheets.  I used red slicer tomatoes and some green tiger heirlooms.

20120914-075312.jpg

According to different sites online, drying time can vary anywhere from 2 to 12 hours, depending on the size of the tomatoes. It ended up taking mine about 10.  Roma’s may have been a better choice, but I just used what I had.  They came out a bit sticky as if there was still a bit of moisture in them.  But I was ready for bed, so I considered them done. I think next time I’ll just suck it up and get out the dehydrator, but I’m glad I tried it.

20120914-075528.jpg

Now, on to the PESTO!

sun-dried tomato pesto

ingredients

1 1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 c. fresh basil
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/3 c. fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/3 c. walnuts (or pine nuts)

*All of the quantities are approximate and can be adjusted to your taste. 

Place sun-dried tomatoes, basil, garlic and some of the olive oil in food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times.  Add remaining olive oil, parmesan cheese and nuts (I only had walnuts on hand.) and turn food processor on for 30 seconds.  Scrape down sides of bowl and turn on for another 30 – 60 seconds, depending on desired consistency.  You may need to add more olive oil if you’d like a thinner pesto.  I tend to keep it a bit thick and spreadable and dilute it with olive oil, if i have to, as I use it.

Pack into cute, small jar that you’ve been saving just for pesto and store in refrigerator.  Actually, any air tight container will do.

20120914-075541.jpg

That’s it!  It’s so easy and SO good!  We love to spread it on our dough when we make pizza instead of sauce.  I think today during nap time I’m going to try to make some whole wheat ciabatta rolls.  I’m envisioning grilled eggplant (we still have 2 from CSA last week), fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomato pesto on a ciabatta panini!  I may have to update this post if my vision actually comes to life!

OK.  I am now officially hungry!

Happy Friday!  Enjoy!

12 Comments »

fresh friday!

It’s Friday again!  This Friday is particularly exciting because Schy’s daddy has THREE days off for Labor Day weekend!!!   How I love our family time.  We have a wedding this weekend and Schy will be spending some time with her Grandma and Grandpa.  But first things first!  Today we have a visit from our favorite farmer from our CSA!  I am inspired by our CSA today as I write my first recipe share.  This is a recipe that I whipped up last weekend for Schy’s birthday party and everyone really loved it!  Our CSA share last week included 11, yes eleven ears of corn that were freshly picked mere hours before delivery.  Eleven ears of corn is a LOT for 3 people, especially given the loads of other veggies that we received.  Needless to say, I had to think of a creative way to serve corn to 45 people.  So, without further ado… here is my first fresh friday recipe: Southwestern Corn Salad!

(All quantities in this recipes can be altered to suit your tastes and party size.  The leftovers are delicious, so don’t forget to make extra!)

Ingredients

  • 6 ears of corn, husk and silks removed
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large or 2 medium red onion(s)
  • 1 can of black beans (organic and sodium free, if possible)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Start by boiling the corn until slightly soft and crisp.  Remove and rinse thoroughly with cold water.  Set aside to cool completely.  Chop tomatoes into bite size chunks and toss into large mixing bowl.  Dice onions and add to bowl.  Rinse and strain beans well and add to bowl.  Once corn is completely cooled cut kernels from the cob, add to bowl and stir together.

In a cruet, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cumin, lime juice and finely chopped basil.  Shake well and pour over vegetables.  Once mixed, add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve chilled!

We prefer this salad with some spice, but have many family members that are sensitive to spicy food so we left it out.  You can substitute chili or chipotle powder for some of the cumin or simply add a few pinches for a little kick.  This salad is delicious and the leftovers are even better!    With all of that beautiful corn that is in season, this is a great, easy recipe that is perfect for that Labor Day barbeque!

We’ll see what fresh recipe today’s CSA share inspires!  Have a fantastic Friday!  Enjoy!

12 Comments »

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

Using the Whole Farm Share Box

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

Have Dessert First

Life is sweet...so have dessert first!

Real Food Real Deals

Healthy food on a budget

AnnieRie Unplugged

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE

the kitchen creative

creatively attacking the kitchen, one meal at a time.

Tree of Love Organics

Love for your Organic Child.

restaurantbastards

Let me tell you what I'm really thinking

Fresh Veggies in the Desert

Gettin' fresh ... in Northern Nevada

In Her Chucks

Navigating the Journey of Mommyhood, Kitchen Queen and Music Maker in My Chucks!

The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

draw and shoot

Shooting photographs, drawing lines...

Pumps & Iron

A healthy lifestyle blog.

Nonsense to Mom's Sense (of Humor)

How life as a stand-up comic prepared me for motherhood

In the mind of A

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

Conditioned Fitness

The database to become a fitter, healthier you!