Full Belly Sisters: October 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Apple Cider #Paletas w. Cinnamon Sticks: Autumn #Popsicles!

It's getting chilly here in New York. But that doesn't stop me from making popsicles, which my son loves. It's a great way for me to get more fruits and veggies into his belly, since he'll pretty much eat any kind of frozen treat on a stick. One of his favorites is my Candy Corn Popsicles—perfect, even in chilly October.

I got inspiration for these particular ice pops from a CD of world music for kids: All Around This World: Latin America. The disc was given to me by a friend who provides these wonderful classes in my area. My son enjoyed the classes, which feature songs from around the globe and expose kids to music that you won't hear on Radio Disney.

Since we're up to our ears in apples and apple cider this time of year, I'm always looking for new ways to use them. And the Mexican music on the CD put me in the mood for paletas: Mexican ice pops made with fresh fruit and juice or water. Right up my alley!

Paletas get their name from the wooden stick—palo—frozen into each pop. I decided to switch it up a little bit and embrace fall by using a cinnamon stick instead. 

I used my Vitamix to really liquefy my apples, but if your blender isn't so powerful, you could try using applesauce instead, or just go with straight cider. You can use spiced cider, or not. Also, the amounts you'll need will depend on how big your popsicle molds are. Basically, just play around with it to suit your needs. Here's what I did:

makes about 8 two-ounce popsicles
  • 2 small apples, cored (and peeled, if you want)
  • about 1 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 8 cinnamon sticks or craft sticks
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, other spices, optional

Blend cider and apples (and spices, if using) until smooth. Pour into BPA-free popsicle molds. Freeze with cinnamon sticks. To hold the sticks upright: either freeze for a while until the mixture is icy enough to support the sticks, or you can cover the mold with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then push the sticks through (the wrap will hold them in place). I did the first option, since my molds were deep and cinnamon sticks relatively short.

The cinnamon adds a lovely autumnal flavor and is just a fun, seasonal twist on a regular popsicle stick. My son thought it was so cool—I just had to remind him not to try to eat the stick.

Were we immediately transported to warm and sunny Mexico? Nope. But the frozen pops and wonderful music provided a lovely afternoon daydream...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What's On My Plate Today? Omelette & Avocado

I post about a lot of my quick meals and snacks on the Full Belly Sisters Facebook page, hoping to give our readers some ideas for simple, healthful meals. But I haven't really posted these quick posts here because I always feel like I need to have more a fully fleshed-out recipe here. Well, I've decided to change that. I'll periodically post my meals here.You don't always need a recipe, do you? Just a little inspiration, right?

My breakfast today was a one-egg omelette with some avocado on the side. Here's how I did it:

  • I sauteed a couple of tablespoons of chopped onion in a small frying pan with little bit of ghee
  • I poured one scrambled egg over the top
  • I topped one half with some thin slices of cheddar*
  • I folded the egg over to make an omelette (or you could just scramble it all together)
  • I sliced 1/4 avocado
  • I splashed Tabasco over everything

*I love this raw, sharp, organic cheese from Woodstock Farms—and, yes, I bought it myself, it was not provided for review!

What did you have for breakfast today?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Buttery Brioche Loaf for the #BreadMachine

My son recently started kindergarten. We're still getting the hang of packed lunches; up till now, we pretty much always had hot lunches at home together. So, we're trying out different lunches and figuring out what he likes best. 

He mentioned to me that his friend has a sandwich every day. "And it's on white bread! Can I try that, too?" Poor kid. It's not that he hasn't ever had  white flour—he loves Italian bread dipped in olive oil and he's recently discovered the deliciousness of croissants—but we really never buy white sandwich bread. Our sandwiches are almost always on sprouted, whole grain bread. Which he likes just fine! But I did want to honor the fact that he wanted to try something new.

So, I decided to bake some white bread with more nutrition than your average supermarket loaf. I used the best-quality ingredients: I'm talking organic flour and milk, pastured eggs from a local farm, and grass-fed butter. And, hoo boy, did it come out divine! It's flaky and light. Plus, I made it in my breadmaker, so it was ridiculously easy.

Best of all, my son loved it. And he thinks I'm some sort of sorceress for making him special bread.

I adapted this recipe very slightly; I didn't have bread flour (and I don't have room in my pantry for yet another baking ingredient), so I added some vital wheat gluten to all-purpose flour to achieve the same result. FYI, vital wheat gluten can be purchased online or in any health food store and is already in my pantry for when I make wheat bread.

yield: 1 1/-lb loaf
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut in pieces and softened
  • 1/3 cup warm milk
  • 3 T warm water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups minus 3 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp vital wheat gluten
  • 2 T Sucanat or sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast

Place all ingredients in your bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer; for my machine, this meant wet ingredients at the bottom, topped with dry ingredients, and then the yeast on top.

Process on the white bread or "basic" loaf setting. I chose the setting for "light" crust color.

After baking, cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, I wrapped my loaf in aluminum foil, placed it in a plastic zip bag, and stored it on my counter.

Not only does this bread make fantastic toast (the butter in it makes the slice gorgeously golden when toasted), but it makes amazing French toast and bread pudding. So rich and delicious—enjoy!

Just look at the brioche and ignore the Toblerone, mmkay?

Don't have a bread machine? No problem! My friend, Nancy, wrote up a handmade version at her blog, The Real Nani.
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