Full Belly Sisters: December 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2011

Cauliflower popcorn was a hit!

We started this blog a year ago. And what a year it has been! Thanks to all the new friends we've met here (and on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest, of course) for helping us to find our way through all this newfangled tech stuff. We're always learning and always trying to improve.

So, without further ado, here are the ten most popular posts (as determined by pageviews) from 2011:

10. Self-Care: Ten Tips for New, Breastfeeding Mamas

Take care of yourself in order to take care of your new baby.

Whether you use it on a steak or a sweet potato, chimichurri adds flavor and nutrition to any meal.

Three ingredients, no junk.

You take care of everyone else all the time. But do you remember to take care of your own needs every day?

Chocolate for breakfast? Sure!

Smoothies are the magic way to get kids to eat (and love!) their greens.

Easiest version ever. You don't even need to peel all those apples!

The secret ingredient? Prunes. Seriously, don't knock 'em till you try 'em!

Use a slow cooker to make massive amounts of delicious, sweet onions without the risk of burning them.

Want to increase your intake of veggies? Add this to your weekly menu!

Did your favorite post make the Top 10?

Thanks for coming along with us on this crazy ride. Here's to a terrific 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snickerdoodle Ice Cream

Wanna taste?
If you and your family eat ice cream with any regularity, I would highly recommend investing in an ice cream maker. It's not that I'm suggesting you should add more ice cream to your diet; rather, if you are going to eat ice cream, it might as well be the best quality. And, if you make your own, you can ensure that it is.

How to make your ice cream better quality than the store-bought stuff? Use organic (grass-fed, if available) dairy. Cut the sugar. You don't need any fillers or artificial colors or flavors. Just let the taste of your ingredients shine so you can truly savor this delicious treat. 

And did I mention that when you arrive at a party with homemade ice cream, people are seriously impressed: guests will treat you like you're some sort of alchemist, like you've transformed lead into gold. But—armed with an ice cream maker—the frozen dessert is actually exceedingly simple. 

For those who don't know, snickerdoodles are sugar cookies with a cinnamon sugar topping. They are simple and delicious. This ice cream tastes just like them; it is great on its own or paired with baked apples (or something along those lines).

My recipe is adapted from The Noble Pig's:

yield: a bit more than a quart
  • 1/3 cup vanilla sugar (can substitute plain sugar)
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Add sugars and spices to a mixing bowl, preferably with a spout (I use this one); mix together. 

Pour in half-and-half and whisk well, until sugars are dissolved. Whisking is a great job to assign to your kids, if they're looking to help you in the kitchen.

My son won't eat ice cream, but he loves to help make it.

Whisk in the cream and vanilla until everything is well combined. 

Swirls of spice and yumminess!

Pour in your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions to freeze. 

Mine takes about 20-23 minutes to get thick and frozen. 

It will be like soft-serve at this point. You can certainly eat it right away, but I prefer to freeze it (just spoon it into a freezer-safe container) for at least a few hours, so it's firm.

This batch is waiting in my freezer for Christmas Eve dinner. Can't wait to break it out! Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Herb Marinated Cheese: Homemade Holiday Gifts

Christmas presents stress me out. I freak out about how much they cost (Why are we spending so much when we need to put in a new drain in front of the garage?); I get fed up by the tit-for-tat expectations (So-and-So is spending this much on me so I have to spend that same amount on So-and-So.); and I get a bit self-righteous about the materialism (I'm not even religious, but this is not what Christmas is all about!). 

So, for those people in my life whom I want to give a thoughtful present to—but don't have the pressure of a present swap—I like to give homemade gifts of food. Whether it's for a friend, a neighbor, or my son's preschool teacher, I think it's a lovely way to say, "I appreciate you." 

Now, there are a million amazing food gifts you can give. I've got nothing against cookies, truffles, or brownies, but I'm already up to my eyeballs in all these sugary goodies. So, I made this simple, sophisticated, savory snack. Tastes delish and looks lovely in a glass jar...what more could you ask for? Oh, how about affordable? Because it's that, too. It can be enjoyed with crackers or crusty bread, on a salad, or atop hot pasta. Yum!

This is really a technique more than a recipe. Amounts will vary based on what size jar you're using and what dried herbs you've got on hand.

What you'll need:

For the goat cheese, I got a large log and cut it into about one-ounce portions. I formed balls with my hands. I added a bit of the oil and some herbs to the bottom of the jar; I used a jam jar, after cleaning it and removing the label. I put in some dried, crushed bush basil, freshly-ground lemon pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. 

Then I placed the cheese balls in the jar, topped with more of the basil and peppers, tucked in some dried rosemary sprigs, and poured EVOO over the whole shebang. Let it marinate for at least four hours before serving; it should keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. Gorgeous!

Cute labels cut out of Trader Joe's holiday shopping bag. Reduce, reuse, and recycle, y'all!

I did basically the same thing for the feta, but I diced it.

Stress-free and lovely, right? Just tell your gift recipients to store the jars in the fridge!

Happy holidays! (Yes, the Full Belly Sisters celebrate both Chanukkah and Christmas. The best of both worlds!)

Check it out: our Herb-Marinated Cheeses were included in this gorgeous round-up on edible holiday gifts from Food Apparel!

 Interested in a vegan version? Check out this Marinated Garlic from Life Currents (we've been lucky enough to have her guest post here on our blog!).

Zucchini Potato Pancakes #ChanukkahRecipe #holidayfood

As far as I'm concerned, the best part of Chanukkah was always the latkes, or potato pancakes. Crispy, hot, and savory they're perfectly balanced with the tart/sweet/cool combo of sour cream and applesauce. Nom nom nom, bring on the Festival of Lights, y'all!

My only issue with the meal was all of the labor involved. Peeling tons of potatoes and then grating them (while trying not to include any pieces of flesh) was such a drag. So, this year, I went ahead and made a quicker—and, not for nothing, healthier—version. I didn't bother peeling my potato; why would I, when there's so much nutrition in that skin? And by including zucchini you definitely don't need to do any peeling; throw 'em in the food processor and it'll take just a minute to do all your grating. I also love the look of the green from the squash and the scallions. Bonus: you'll cut calories by "crowding out" most of the potato with zucchini.

I don't often use my food processor, but it's worth it for this shredded-veggie dish.

Many potato pancake recipes call for copious amounts of flour; I found that I could use less flour (and whole wheat, at that) plus some flaxseed meal to bind these pancakes effectively. They are a bit more delicate, but I actually prefer them that way.

yield: about a dozen pancakes
  • 2T flax meal
  • 2T water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 small zucchini, coarsely grated (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 large russet potato, finely shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 4 scallions, chopped 
  • 4T whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • extra virgin olive or coconut oil for frying
  • Sour cream and Applesauce (optional but highly recommended)

In a large bowl add beaten egg, flax meal, and water. Mix until well combined; let sit for a few minutes. In a colander, drain zucchini and potato, squeezing to remove excess liquid. 

Add zucchini, potato and onion to egg/flax mixture. Stir in the flour, salt and scallions; mix well.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with oil—this version is not fried in a deep vat of oil—and put over medium to medium-low heat; I find I have to turn down the heat for the later batches so they don't burn. (You don't want to cook on very high heat, or the outside will cook too quickly and the inside won't cook quickly enough). Add about 1/4c of batter for each pancake, pressing lightly to flatten. Cook until golden, about 4 minutes on each side.  Repeat with remaining batter. 

You can certainly enjoy these with just some sour cream or creme fraiche and chopped scallions. Or try crumbled goat cheese on top. Have them as a meal or a side dish. I love my latkes with sour cream and applesauce. But—just as you can enjoy these any day of the year, not just on Chanukkah—you can serve them however you want!

  • L'chaim! For those of you who don't know, this is a common Jewish toast and it literally means "to life!"  Sure, life can be painful; toasting "to life" means  it's worth bearing the trying times so that we can also experience the happy times. As we head into a new year, we wish you more happy times than sad; together we will drink (and eat) to life!

  • Happy Chanukkah from the Full Belly Sisters!
This post contains affiliate links, so I make a small commission if you purchase through my links—which helps to keep this blog running. Don't fret, I only recommend products I personally use and approve.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baked Peaches 'n' Cream Oatmeal for Christmas Morning (or Any Morning)

We are so excited to have a guest post by Debi from Life Currents. We love her blog because she features all these incredibly fabulous recipes that are also incredibly doable for all of us busy gals. Her recipes are gorgeous, vibrant, and made with real food. What's not to love? Here, she's given us a lovely idea for a baked oatmeal to serve on Christmas - or, really, any - morning! Bonus for you nursing mamas out there: oats may increase your milk supply.

I can’t believe how fast the year has flown by. It’s almost Christmas. It’s almost the end of the year. I guess that means I have to start planning for the holidays (yikes!). This year, I’ll be serving Christmas brunch for the family.

I always want the food I serve to taste great; eating is such a part of our social behavior. I love to get together for a family meal, to talk about our lives and our dreams. But, without tasty food, people would be less likely to gather around the table and have a fun time.

But at the same time, I want nourishing and healthy foods. I like to use as many “whole” foods as possible. Real peaches in my oatmeal rather than peach flavored instant oatmeal not only tastes better, it’s better for you. Pure maple syrup rather than flavored high fructose corn syrup tastes so much better.

And, like many families, we have dietary restrictions and picky eaters. How do I cope with all these demands (tasty, healthy, vegetarian, dairy-free, etc)? I like to serve a few different dishes to choose from. Some bacon in that egg casserole? The vegetarian can avoid that dish. A dish with dairy? Those who avoid dairy can eat everything else. I serve coffee for breakfast, but also have caffeine free teas available for those who can’t have caffeine. Having a variety of dishes to choose from, keeping the dietary restrictions in mind, but not letting them overwhelm you is really the key to accommodating so many needs. Just be sure to let everyone know what’s in the dish when you sit down to eat.

This Peaches ‘n Cream Baked Oatmeal is great for Christmas breakfast. It’s an elegant way to upgrade hum-drum oatmeal. It’s healthy (those oats have great soluble fiber). It’s low in sugar and fat. It’s vegetarian. And, it works well with dairy milk (any kind from skim to whole), soy milk, or almond milk. It’s quick to make, and bakes in the oven while you’re spending time with your family. And, best of all, it’s really tasty! It’s even great cold from the fridge the next day.

You can make this as a large family style dish, or try making individual servings. Equally divide the peaches, oats, and milk mixture into 6 shallow oven-proof bowls. Reduce baking time to 40-45 minutes.
Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Peaches ‘n Cream Baked Oatmeal

Makes 6 servings
  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups sliced peaches, peeled (fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar or pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups milk (or plantmilk)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • toasted slivered almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan, a 3-quart oven proof dish, or 6 shallow oven-proof bowls with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine oats, peaches, and sugar (if using maple syrup, add to the wet ingredients). In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients (and maple syrup if using). Beat wet ingredients with a fork or wire whisk until blended. Add milk mixture to oat mixture, stirring to combine.

Pour mixture into prepared pan, and bake, uncovered, 60-70 minutes for a large dish or 40-45 minutes for 6 small dishes, or until golden brown and set in the center.

Enjoy hot, garnished with almonds if desired.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Flourless PB&J Thumbprint Cookies: Perfect for the Holidays!

'Tis the season for cookie swaps and homemade gifts. And, unfortunately, 'tis also the season for artificial food coloring, highly processed ingredients, stress, and weight gain. 

It doesn't have to be. You can make simple, lovely treats from whole food ingredients. Are these diet food? Nope, they're still cookies. They should be eaten in moderation. But they should also be savored and enjoyed and shared with loved ones.

The base of these is similar to my Flourless Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies. You don't needs lots of equipment and you don't have to be a master baker. What I'd suggest you do need, though, is a quality jar of peanut butter. Ideally, you should use one that has just peanuts (or peanuts and salt) as its ingredients. If it has hydrogenated oils and/or sugar, avoid it.

You can also use almond butter or—for a lunch-box friendly, nut-free version—sunflower butter. If your nut butter is particularly wet/oily (as happened to me with a recent batch when I used almond butter), you can just add a couple of teaspoons of almond flour.

Adapted from Tate's Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies recipe:
(yield: 24 cookies)
  • 1/3c raspberry 100% fruit preserves*
  • 1T chia seeds
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat (can substitute raw sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted peanut butter)
*Note: I used raspberry because its seedy nature pairs well with texture of the chia, but you can certainly use any flavor jam you like.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the jam and chia seeds (a fabulous source of omega-3s and calcium, among other good things).

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Scoop heaping teaspoons of the dough and (using your hands) roll into balls, about an inch across. Put them on a parchment-covered cookie sheet; they don't spread much, so you can put one dozen on each sheet. Press down with your thumb to make a small indentation in the center of each cookie; I spread mine a little so the indentation is wider and can hold a bit more jam.

Put about 1/2-3/4 teaspoons of jam into each of the cookies' wells.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheets on a rack for about five minutes. then carefully remove the cookies from the sheets onto the racks to continue to cool.

Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!

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