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Earth Day Inspiration and Coffee Talk Reflection

It’s Earth Day, the perfect time to reflect on our habits and make some positive changes to help the environment. I first want to reflect on our weekend. Last weekend I skipped the usual Sunday Coffee Talk post to spend time with family. We had a wonderful Holiday, and way too many yummy treats (though I am not complaining in the least). It was great. We started the weekend with the last Hockey game of the season (well second to last). They won, it was exciting and my son is still obsessed with hockey. We also kept to tradition and visited a bakery on Friday morning. We always grab the babka, and various breads and or course donuts! We walked around the mall, participated in our town’s egg hunt (watch their video here you can spot us in the video!). We even enjoyed a mall pretzel, one of Anthony’s favorite treats. I spent all of Saturday night helping the Easter Bunny get prepped for Sunday. So. Much. Fun. Now with the Holiday well behind us, we are able to slow down a bit and enjoy some much needed time outside. This week I’m going to share an easy homemade rice pilaf recipe, some homemade soft pretzels for toddler snacking, Anthony’s all time favorite smoothie and some chocolate swirl buns that are to die for.

 

Now onto some Earth Day inspiration. This day always inspires me to make some positive changes. Always, the first is to reduce waste. One of the things I would love to get this year is a compost bin. Compost is such an important part of a healthy garden and a great way to use some of the items that we would otherwise toss. We have had a vegetable garden the last couple years and we love it. It’s something fun to do with my son and I love going to check on it every morning. I also want to get a couple of fruit trees and plant some new greenery in our back yard. Food waste is always a big issue in our house and I think a lot of other homes. I want to focus more on purchase what we actually need and less hoarding of snacks. It’s always a challenge with a young one because he is such a picky eater that we tend to have more than our need of snacks, but we’re working on it. Also purchasing more fair trade items. Fashionable is an awesome site for accessories and things that are all Fair Trade. I’ve linked to an AMAZING tote that I purchased a couple years ago. I absolutely love love love it.

 

Some Earth Day things I’m loving:

I recently watched Food Inc and I would highly recommend it.
I purchased reusable sandwich/snack bags and absolutely love them. You can find a wide variety here!
We all have reusable water bottles that we love.
This Netflix series! A blast from the past with benefits.
Organic reusable napkins
Reusable grocery bags – with style!
Wool dryer balls – amazing! Anthony is really sensitive, so these were a great investment!

 

Cinnamon Ice Cream

 

I scream you scream we are all going to be screaming for this ice cream. David Lebovitz wrote the best  book called The Perfect Scoop. I’ve literally put post-it’s on most of the pages and at this point the book looks like it could take flight. There are so many delicious recipes in there and I cannot recommend this book enough if you are interested in making homemade ice cream. Homemade ice cream tastes so much better and it’s not terribly hard. Though I will admit my first attempts were not great. Buy, you know, if at first you don’t succeed….enjoy the mistake that probably still tastes delicious and try again! It doesn’t have to look pretty to taste good! But the real issue I experienced was that no mater how long I would mix it, it just wouldn’t come together. It froze fine after, maybe a bit more icy. But then I read something “let it chill…preferably overnight”. I had never let the mixture chill overnight before and wouldn’t you know the next day when I brought my ice cream attachment up and let it get to work….success! I was beyond excited. So if you take anything away from this post, let it be chill the mixture overnight and this recipe. You will definitely want this recipe.

Instructions

  1. Crush Cinnamon sticks to break them up. For me, I placed them in a Ziploc bag and had my son help with his toy hammer. He got to help while I was able to prepare the other ingredients! If you don't have a toy hammer, you can still put them in the Ziploc bag and give it a few good hits with with your rolling pin or meat tenderizer.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, pinch of salt, 1 cup of the heavy cream and cinnamon sticks until warm. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for an hour.
  3. Place the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream in a separate bowl and place a mesh strainer across the top of the bowl. Place this bowl into an ice bath (Fill a larger bowl with ice and cold water). Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, add the egg yolks. Reheat the milk mixture to rewarm. Once warm remove as many of the cinnamon stick pieces as you can. Grab a whisk! At this point you are going to temper the eggs. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture over the egg mixture while whisking. When all of the milk mixture has been added to the bowl, scrape the contents back into the saucepan and cook until the mixture thickens and coats a spatula. At this point you will notice the mixture getting a little lumpy.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into the mesh strainer over the remaining heavy cream. Whisk together until incorporated and the mixture is cool. At this point, I tested the flavor and added some ground cinnamon. Place in an airtight container and LET THE MIXTURE CHILL IN YOUR FRIDGE OVERNIGHT!
  6. Once the mixture has chilled you can prepare according to your ice cream makers instructions. Place in an airtight container and leave in the freezer until completely frozen.

Notes

Actually Delicious Kale Smoothie

 

Kale, the garnish that became a trendy food overnight. When I think of Kale, I think of the Modern Family episode where Mitch visited the Farmers Market.

Cameron: Hey daddy, how was the farmer’s market?
Mitchell: Well, it was great but…guess what the new spinach is?
Cameron: Umm..radicchio?
Mitchell: [pulling a bunch out of his basket] Kale!
Cameron: [gasps] No!

It took me a while to get on the kale train. It can be pretty overpowering and high maintenance to get it to taste good. In the past, when roasting it, my husband has literally said what smells like farts in here…. so we don’t eat it often. But when I do, I typically enjoy it most with olive oil and spices, roasted in the oven until it turns potato chip like crispy. I’ve read some health benefits of this darling, hip garnish, that it’s high in fiber, has powerful antioxidants, high in iron and vitamin K…the list goes on. I’m a fan of incorporating more veggies into your diet any way that you can. As a parent, I feel like my mission is to incorporate as many hidden veggies into things as I can. For anything green, I usually tell him it’s what the Incredible Hulk eats and he may try a bite. But smoothies are the easiest place for me to incorporate a veggie that doesn’t taste awful.

When I first tried this smoothie, my, at the time, 2 year old downed it. He grabbed my cup and chugged. He was none the wiser that it had and vegetables and absolutely enjoyed it. This time around, now that he’s a year older (and has started to say “when I used to be a kid”) he’s not as easily convinced that this smoothie tastes good, but trust me it does! If you are looking for something refreshing for a snack or light breakfast, give this a try. I was feeling sassy the other day and topped this with some chia pudding. The result….delicious! I’m going to add the chia pudding recipe below as well, just in case you are also feeling sassy.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Toss everything into your blender and mix it up! Simple! For the chia pudding, I use 1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened, 2 tbsp chia seeds and 1 packet stevia. Pour the milk in a mason jar. Add in the chia seeds and sweetener of your choice. Place the lid on top and shake the jar for a few seconds. Pop it in the fridge and let it sit overnight. For this smoothie, I added about half of the prepared pudding to it.

Notes

Adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Out Of This World Blondies

Today is one of those days where I find myself craving something delicious to eat my way through the stressful work day. I made these blondies for the Easter holiday and they were a hit. They paired well with the cinnamon ice cream that I made (another recipe coming this week!), but back to the blondies.  Brownies are one of my go to indulgent treats. Classic, peanut butter, you name it I’m sure I’ll love it. But sometimes I crave a change. With all the chocolate Easter candy, I wanted something sweet but didn’t want to overdo it with the chocolate, so I opted for this recipe. Of course, when you see a Pioneer Woman recipe you know that it’s going to be delicious and this certainly was the case. I will admit I sampled more than my fair share to make sure they were good enough to bring along for dessert, but I’d say it was worth it. If you are looking for something simple to make, that is going to taste uh-mazing, then you need to try this recipe out. These are also fairly forgiving. I used chocolate chips and pecans, but toss in some butterscotch or cinnamon chips if you are feeling sassy. You could also use up some of that Easter candy and use some M&M’s. Whatever you choose, I know you are going to enjoy these.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a sauce pan, melt the butter and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together and set aside. In the sauce pan, add the brown sugar to the melted butter and whisk together until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla and whisk together until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the nuts and 1 cup of chocolate chips and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet, top with the remaining 2 tbsp of chocolate chips and bake for about 25 minutes, being mindful not to over bake, I did need to bake an additional 15 minutes or so. I would bake for about 5 minutes additional each time.
  5. When done, remove from the oven and let them sit until cooled. Sprinkle the top with flaky salt and cut into about 16 squares.

Notes

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman.

Caramelized Scallops

 

Anyone else feel like they ate their way through Easter? I certainly do. I feel like I went on a bender and had a major pre-party in the weeks leading up to Easter. All of that is to say that I’m definitely craving things a bit lighter and healthier. I’ve made these scallops a few times and always enjoy them. It’s a quick, easy, light dinner that feels extravagant. I served this with roasted asparagus or rice pilaf (recipe for this coming soon!). Not everyone in the house likes seafood, actually I think I’m the only one aside from the cat, so this is a dish that I don’t mind making for myself while preparing something for everyone else, it’s that easy.

One thing I’ve always hated about cooking scallops is the chance to overcook and the texture becomes something similar to shoe leather. It can happen so fast. With this recipe I have never had that happen. The cook time is so short that it’s almost impossible. I’ve also cooked them longer and have never had this happen, so it’s a fairly forgiving recipe. The original recipe calls for clarified butter. I have never used this and I feel like the flavor/recipe is great. I have linked to the original version below, if you would like to check it out.

 

Now that the weather is starting to stay a bit warmer and our says are a bit brighter, I’m excited to share some healthier dishes including more main dishes and sides. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to balance it out with a little bit of indulgence too. This week I’m sharing a kale smoothie that actually tastes good, some blondies that are drool worthy, a homemade ice cream recipe and a special Earth Day post this weekend.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry the scallops. Season both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat a pan on medium high, add the butter and swirl around coating the pan. When the butter begins to foam, begin to prepare the scallops. Working quickly, coat one side of the scallops with sugar, twisting the scallop slightly so the sugar sticks. Place the scallops sugar side down in the pan. Saute them for about 2 minutes. If the sugar begins to brown too quickly, reduce the heat. Flip the scallops and cook for one minute longer.
  3. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pan. Reduce the liquid by half, about another minute or so. Transfer the scallops to a plate and pour the juices from the pan over the top. Garnish with chopped chives and lemon zest.

Notes

Recipe slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats.