Sweet

Healthy Dinners you can make in advance

Everyone I know (okay, online anyway) is in love with their Instapot, and while I have not yet succumbed, we do have a few time-saving kitchen devices. There’s an older pressure cooker that I pull out only rarely – just one bad experience with a chicken soup spill/semi-explosion (entirely operator error, btw) stays with you for a while, and a newish Crock-Pot which I use at least once a week because I do like an easy dinner prep.

Our favorite, and possibly over-served but maybe not because I never get push back, dish is Smitten Kitchen’s Black Bean Ragout. Served over garlick-y toast, rice or pasta or sweet potatoes (we do love our starches), with avocado and quick pickled red onions. The leftovers (if there are any) go into another favorite – and super easy – dish also from Smitten Kitchen –  Spaghetti Squash tacos (shhh, I even microwave the spaghetti squash – it’s so fast and easy).

These lovely Parmesan crackers are another favorite.  Serve them alone, or with almost anything – hummus, chutney, more cheese, and it will look as if you know more than you do about baking.

We’ve been eating more plant-based foods around here, it’s healthier, more eco-friendly and kinder, too. And the Minimalist Baker is wonderful go-to resource. I made the One Pot Red Lentil Chili for that freezing cold Marathon Monday and it was delicious! Start it on the stove and move to the slow-cooker.

We also love the wonderfully flavorful and hearty Abundance Kale Salad. Prep this on Sunday and you have meals for a few days. I also prep grain bowls for lunches. Make your favorite grains in advance and put them in the fridge, do the same with roasted veggies. In the morning, pack a bowl with whatever strikes your fancy. Fast dressing? A chef friend told me to slightly water down hummus for a quick tahini dressing. Yummy and easy.

Minimalist Baker knows sweets – and appreciates you don’t have all day – try these One Bowl Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes, and the Two Ingredient Dark Chocolate Truffles

 

 

 

Farmers To You Year Round

or How to get Farm Fresh Food even in the middle of Winter in New England.

I love everything about our local Farmers Market, from the farm fresh produce to seeing friends, getting to know the farmers, and bringing my recyclable bags, which for some reason I don’t remember to bring anywhere else but the farmers market – go figure. And right about now, in the midst of all the holiday cooking and baking, I miss it the most.  As luck would have it, I was introduced to Farmers To You and invited to try it out by ordering so I could write about it – perfect timing – just before Thanksgiving.

This is a terrific find – it links New England farmers and producers to Boston-area families bringing the best local, sustainable and artisanal foods to your family year-round. Farm to Table – yes! Farmers To You delivers to several cities and towns – and now in Newton! You can check your zip code here to see where the closest delivery spot is to you.

What did we get? To start – great produce – romaine lettuce, mixed organic shoots from Pete’s Greens of Vermont, then some organic sweet potatoes and carrots, some awesome flour from The Nitty Gritty Grain Company, and an unbelievably gorgeous and delicious double crust apple pie from Champlain Orchards. All wonderful and fresh, and since I was responsible for roasted vegetables and salad, it was easy.

Oh, and cheese – gorgeous Moses Sleeper cheese from Jasper Hill Farm, organic tofu from Vermont Soy, Vegan eggrolls from Rhapsody Natural Foods – the non-vegans loved these, too. And salmon from Starbird Fish Company, which came in super handy with the vegan egg rolls when someone was too sick to go to Thanksgiving dinner and we had all the gorgeous vegetables and salad but no turkey (don’t worry – we had a do-over the next day).

My next order will include this yummy ice cream…I tried it at a friend’s house and it definitely needs to be parked in our freezer…for a few days anyway. Check out their Facebook Page here.

 

Along with this pizza crust from Red Hen Baking CompanySo excited to be able to get farm fresh produce and artisanal products year round! I can’t wait for my next order – Newton pick up is super easy – just off Lincoln Street in Newton Highlands.

 Disclaimer – I did not receive any compensation for this post just a credit so I could sample the service to aid in the review.

Holiday Cookie Swap – Best Practices

I love this time of year – lots of opportunities for family and friends to get together, and generally my favorite types of food – baked goods – are literally on the table.

So, this year a group of us are planning a cookie swap with an accompanying Facebook Live event because it’s fun to bake and decorate cookies, and, pretty much because we like to hang out together. See us on Facebook at Boston City Life at 11:30 am on Friday, December 1st for great swap ideas… and watch me try to decorate a sugar cookie.

Here are the co-conspirators in this event:

Leah – City Living (Boston) – somehow she convinced me to be on camera – I still don’t really know how that happened.

Debbie –  A Little Bit about A Lot of Things

Kim –   Family Friendly Boston

Debbie and Kim are technical support and behind the scenes, unless I can get Debbie on camera? Maybe she’ll sub in!

Now, Leah is the list maker so she’s putting together a check list but I can at least get us started.

First, the guest list – usually 8-10 people work well – but if you’re up for it and want to have a bigger group, that works too! And I like to use Paperless Post for invitations – they have so many pretty ones and it’s easy to keep track of attendees and to send updates to the guests. You know, last minute requests or instructions.

I made a Save the Date Flyer with Paperless Post- so easy to do!

And I chose these invitations:

 

 

 

Love that you can choose by theme  – click here to see how it works.

What are your favorite ways to send invitations? I’d love to know! Wish us luck on the Facebook Live Event!

 

Disclaimer: I received Paperless Post coins to facilitate with this review. All opinion are, as always, my own.

 

Ready for Easter?

In my family growing up,  Easter was a big deal. My mom made our Easter outfits (I know, pretty incredible), dresses in sprigged cotton and matching lining in the pastel wool coats. Yes, she made us coats. And new shoes and frilly ankle socks for me and my sisters, my brother got a new suit or new shirt and tie.  I particularly remember our footwear, especially the one year that white patent go go boots (to be clear, only we called them that), replaced the usual patent leather Mary Janes. Oh, we were mod.  I wish I could find a photo to show you the awesomeness.

There were Easter services, an excruciatingly painful time away from our candy, and we had awesome candy. Always an Easter egg hunt with plastic eggs filled with candy, and peeps, because there must always be peeps, and a solid chocolate bunny. Bunnies were special, and if your bunny was touched, you knew it and if it was defiled, you could tell by the teeth marks left behind. Or was that just us? It took years of hurled accusations to realize that the cleanly cut off tail was certainly the handiwork of our father, who would stoop to steal a bit of Easter candy but never in such a base manner as to actually gnaw on the bunny, and he always used a sharp knife. We should have known.

When I had children of my own, the week before Easter we dyed eggs (always fun and messy), and Easter morning had an Easter egg hunt (my favorite thing), and I made up pretty baskets and stayed true to solid bunnies. And just in case you think this is picture perfect, it’s not. Here’s how it usually goes around here, the night before Easter, I dig out the plastic eggs from last year to fill with the candy I have managed not to eat, and I go to the present cabinet for the few non-edible gifts I stashed there over the past few weeks. Seat of my pants, people, seat of my pants.

My blogger/friend/cohort team that makes up @GoLocalBoston, all approach holiday preparation with a purpose – some of us are just better planners. And for Easter, with a quiet (okay, not quiet), certain, and thoughtful focus, we curated gorgeous gift baskets. Why do we do this? For you, dear reader.

In general, we got together because we all like to support local businesses, and we like each other, and we all really like sweets. So this was definitely not a bad gig. Most of my work involved unwrapping candy, arranging hard to wrangle lollipops, and bolting down most of the Cadbury mini-eggs (sorry, Debbie). As we took pictures of the beautiful items from local companies, we called out orders to each other, laughed, sampled candy, and talked about the work at hand, other business, food and families. What a fantastic group of women to work with, and as we are all slightly opinionated and not afraid to share our thoughts, some people might need a lie down after a session with us. We are funny, too. Just ask any of us.

So for this project, we started off with baskets in the following themes: Nautical, Spring, Sports, and Farm. If that’s not your style, simply grab your favorite from each, and mix and match.

Want to round out the baskets with non-food items? Ideas abound and some of our favorites include:

Sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, bouncy balls, a frisbee or two, stuffed animals, art supplies, markers, pens, or colored pencils with sketch pads or journals, picture books, twinkle lights, phone cords, portable phone chargers, a cute new case, ear phones, a tea cup or coffee mug and fill with small treats, or add a small flowering plant. Since there is no shortage of cute baskets, pails and other containers, just go to local drug store or market to find the just right sized basket.

 

Easter basket treats are not just for the kids any more – I’d love to bring one of these as a hostess gift or use as Easter brunch centerpieces or even make small baskets as party favors.

Want to learn more about these local lovelies who helped us fill these baskets? Check out Leah’s Life, A Little Bit About A Lot of Things, and Kim World.

Featured brands include:

A Dozen Eggs

Bisousweet

E Frances

eh chocolatier

Cardullo’s

Formaggio

Gray Mist

Harbor Sweets

la Burdick

Magic Beans

Pao de Brasil

Phillips Candy House

Pure Sugar Candy

Royce chocolates

Seacoast sweets

Spindler Confections

Wilson Farm

#Easter Capability Mom

Amd P.S. I steal their candy, too. Only I know better than to cut the tail off.

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