Some call this the “Shrek” smoothie. Since my kids don’t know Shrek as well as Kermit I called it a Kermit smoothie.
They LOVE it!
1 frozen banana
1 c frozen peaches
1 c frozen mango chunks
2-3 c cold almond milk
2-3 ice cubes
2 handfuls spinach
OPTIONAL: splash lemon or orange juice
Honestly, I don’t measure this stuff! I put about half the frozen fruit into the blender & 1 c of the almond milk & blend. Then add the ice cubes. Blend. (Add as much more almond milk as you may need.) Add the rest of the fruit. Blend. Then add the spinach. Blend. As you can probably tell, I don’t have a powerful blender. If you have a Vita Mix or whatever you can probably toss it all in at once!
Start out using less almond milk until you get used to it. It’s easier to thin the smoothie out than it is to make it thicker.
I love to add a few ice cubes and 2-3 TBSP lemon juice since it’s a sweet drink and needs a little acid.
You can’t taste the spinach at all! My kids LOVE this! They have had variations on this one for the past three days. What’s the spinach for? Spinach is SOOOOOOO full of vitamins!! And it makes a crazy bright Kermit green smoothie! (Unless you add blueberries & strawberries, in which case it makes a gnarly brown smoothie that is still delicious.)
There’s my other “smoothie” on the left. A STRONG coffee.
The kids drink it from those plastic cups you get at restaurants.This one is from Benihana’s. And the beer cozy (koozie?) is courtesy of a pre-kid weekend up at the Tuolumne River. Classy!
Maddie wants to call it “Frog Pillow Smoothie” after a particularly filthy little someone special to her.
We hosted our 3rd Annual Cox-Fitz Egghunt & Brunch this year!
Like the wreath? So did about 7 people at the Farmer’s Market. I think they assumed it was artisanally made or somethin’ because they kept asking me where I bought it.
TJMaxx. That’s where I bought it. HAHAHAA!!!
This is our third year having a yard and our third year hosting Easter. The kids were barely ambulatory when we started this so I’ve had to adjust every year. It’s really the most fun holiday for me, a non-religious person. I love it because:
a. It’s warm & sunny out.
b. You can decorate in pastels without receiving too much criticism.
c. Little girls in pastel dresses are soooooo cute no matter how anti-princess I am.
d. There are flowers everywhere.
e. The kids have a ball!
On Saturday night I was up till 2:00AM cooking & prepping. I woke up at 5:30AM (thanks a LOT, Bea!) and decided to stay up and let everyone else sleep. Around 6 I heard some tiny footsteps and an “Ohhhhhh WOW!!!!”
She had that bunny unwrapped and an ear bitten off quicker than I could say “April Valley.”
Then Bea woke up.
I distinctly heard Maddie exclaim, “This is REALLY GOOD!” while she looked through her basket.
These pix were all taken with my phone and are a tad blurry. But still capture that golden halo of baby hair.
Meanwhile, I was cooking!
1. Sunshine Dazzler
2. Orange juice
4. Cheese Grits
5. Summer Vegetable Torta (gluten free)
6. Coffee cake
7. Asparagus gruyere puff pastry (forgot to make until half the guest were gone & I’d had too many Sunshine Dazzlers.)
8. Fruit Salad (two kinds)
9. Lemon-Blueberry scones (scrapped these as I decided to have fun instead of keep cooking!)
10. Earth Wind & Fire Salad
This torta was really pretty and amazing!!! It’s gluten-free as well (not that I’m on a gluten free diet but just thought you’d be interested…) Here’s a link to the recipe.
These roasted potatoes look better than they were. I made some EXCELLENT ones this past week that were part of a broccoli gribiche recipe, soon to be shared. So if you come over again & see these, they’ll be WAY better!!
The kids’ fruit salad.
The adults’ Kir Royale Fruit Salad.
I quartered these for the Sunshine Dazzler cocktail. Love those blood oranges!!! Btw: I somehow neglected to take pix of the Sunshine Dazzler AND the Earth Wind & Fire Salad again. I got busy.
is a VERY easy, excellent brunch beverage. It totally beats a screwdriver or a mimosa in my opinion. Though it actually is a sort of combined mimosa/screwdriver with some mango juice. And you can make a big pitcher of it and just let guests get their own ice. YUM! Very pretty with sliced citrus floating on top.
Here’s the table in the early morning – still missing a few dishes but you can see the Earth, Wind & Fire Salad, the Sunshine Dazzler is in the glass pitcher way in the back and there was the most excellent coffee cake in the world under the foil. However, I made that around 1AM and I totally forgot a minor ingredient, baking powder. So I had to add it late and it was too late. Enough said, this wasn’t the best coffee cake in the world but here is the link to the BEST Coffee Cake in the WORLD.
Guests melting in the hot driveway as the backyard was still verboten at this time.
LET THE EGGHUNT BEGIN!!
Bea’s first “walking” egg hunt. Lyn served as her butler.
Frog Pillow oversaw the hunt:
This egg was empty.
I really don’t think I look like Mama Cass in real life. Or do I?
M’s basket at the end of the hunt. She is so non-competitive.
We only have good-looking friends.
Love. My own children don’t hug me this much.
My friend made these adorable cupcakes with rainbows & clouds on top. Email me if you want the “how to” and I’ll get it for you. I think the rainbow is some candy and the clouds are white frosting. Soooo cute!!!
We had so much fun and loved having our friends over!
This is SO easy. I started it with some Greek Yogurt I had.
I wanted to do this for a while because I am sick of throwing away all those little half eaten yogurt cups. This way I can control the serving size and use a lot less packaging. Also, I just wanted to try it!
Here’s all you need to get it started:
2 quarts milk (I used whole milk but you can try 1 or 2% if that’s all you have)
1 fine mesh strainer
1 candy thermometer (oops mine isn’t in the picture – we had it from deep frying a turkey a while ago)
cheesecloth/coffee filters or thick paper towels (I had the coffee filters)
2 teaspoons of plain yogurt (this will be your starter)
This is so easy! I recommend starting this an hour or two before you go to bed. Then the yogurt can incubate while you sleep…
1. Heat 2 quarts of milk (on medium-high heat) in a pot to 180 degrees F. Stir occasionally.
2. When temperature reaches 180, remove from heat and let cool down to between 110 and 120 degrees. Stir occasionally as it’s cooling. When it’s between those two temps, add the 2 teaspoons of yogurt whisking to combine.
3. Turn oven on for about a minute – just to take the chill out.
4. Pour milk into large bowl, cover with a heavy plate or lid and place in oven. Leave for 8-12 hours.
5. When you take it out, strain it into the mesh colander lined with cheesecloth, coffee filters or THICK paper towels. Do this over a shallow pan or bowl with a lip as the whey will drain out of your yogurt. Place this draining contraption in your refrigerator for a few hours, or until it seems to have stopped dripping. Honestly, I didn’t have room in my fridge so I just strained it on the counter for an hour (I think!) and then I poured the yogurt into a large plastic container, whisked it to combine & stored it in the fridge.
OPTIONS: add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract and/or honey or just toss fresh fruit on top. I love it with honey!
Making your own yogurt is soooo yummy! You can use it to replace sour cream or to cut the heat on spicy dishes. Think of all the plastic yogurt containers you save AND all the chemicals & added sugar you and your kids are not getting.
Make your own yogurt with NO special equipment! Great for toppings on spicy meals, baked potatoes, in smoothies, baking & just as a snack.
2 quarts milk (1%, 2% or whole)
a fine mesh strainer
cheesecloth, coffee filters OR thick paper towels
candy thermometer (or any kitchen therm. that can measure liquids to 180 degrees safely)
Heat milk to 180 degrees F over medium heat.
Take milk off heat and allow to cool.
When milk cools to between 110 and 120 degrees, whisk in 2 teaspoons of plain yogurt.
Turn oven on for about a minute just to take the chill out.
Pour milk into oven safe bowl with lid (I used a ceramic plate as a lid) and allow to “incubate” for 8-12 hours.
Line mesh strainer with the cheesecloth/coffee filters or paper towels and rest over a shallow pan. Pour yogurt into strainer and allow to drain for a few hours or until it’s done draining. The liquid that ends up in the pan is your “whey” which you can use or discard.
Pour strained yogurt into a lidded container for the refrigerator.
Yogurt will be good in refrigerator for about a week.
Add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract if you plan to serve it with fruit etc.
Add honey to taste or fresh fruit. YUM!
Now a lot of people (‘specially on the East Coast) are going to be playing the ol’ air violin for me when they read this but yesterday our pilot light went out on our old gas heater. I am flying solo this weekend as G is back in the blue grass of Kentucky and I count on him to do manly things like light the pilot light when it goes out. The house was cold, cold, cold yesterday & never seemed to heat up! What’s a girl to do when the house is cold, the baby’s asleep and M and I are hostages inside, freezing to death? Bake a hot, buttery, COFFEE CAKE!!!
This heated the house and the bellies up thereby improving sour moods on a gray Saturday. Yay for coffee cake!!
The best part (except for the cake which is THE best part) is you probably have all these ingredients (‘cept maybe the pecans which you can always replace with walnuts or omit entirely!)
For the Cake:
1-1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 c scant sugar
3 c flour, sifted
4 tsp baking powder, sifted
1 tsp salt, sifted
1-1/4 c milk
3 eggs whites, beaten until stiff
For the Crumble:
1-1/2 stick butter, softened
3/4 c flour
1-1/2 c brown sugar
2 TBSP cinnamon
1-1/2 c pecans, chopped
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder & salt. Set aside.
I used to forge on painfully with my hand sifter until I saw The Pioneer Woman use a strainer. SO much easier! I’m not sure what the great pastry chefs would say but this is my new technique. Thanks Ree!
2. Beat egg whites (Although I’ve been phasing out eggs, I used egg whites in a carton because I had them in my fridge for a longggggg time and they are going to expire end of the month. I am not sure what the substitution is for egg whites but it’s probably just the same egg replacer.)
3. In a LARGE bowl, cream butter & sugar. (A large bowl because this is the bowl all the ingredients will end up in eventually.)
4. Take turns adding flour mixture & milk until just combined.
5. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish. I just save the butter wrapper & use that.
With a rubber spatula, fold in egg whites until just combined. Dump batter into the baking dish.
6. In a medium bowl (I tried this in a small bowl which is why I recommend a bigger bowl!), combine the CRUMBLE ingredients with a pastry cutter or your clean fingers!
Somebody gave me this pastry cutter – I never knew what it was but I’m so glad I have it! (Was it you, Nina?)
Sprinkle crumble mixture on top & pop it in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
Who’s going out the dog door?
Bea, those jeans make your butt look big!
Delicious on a cold Sunday morning! (Or Sat. afternoon…)
This weekend G headed home to his high school reunion. Knowing I’d be alone with the kids for a few nights, I thought I’d whip up some yummy meals ahead of time to avoid resorting to boxed macaroni & cheese.
Breakfast is always a headache for me. I mean literally, I have a headache during breakfast. I just can’t get to my coffee quickly enough! Maybe I should put it next to the bed? Anyway, I thought to myself, “What’s a surefire breakfast that everyone loves & that will fill the kids up all morning?” and instantly thought of my dear dad’s cheese grits recipe. My dad makes the best breakfast and this is probably everyone’s favorite dish. Two Easters in a row I’ve served it and there have never been leftovers. Plus, they’re easy.
Here’s what you need:
8 c water (for grits)
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 c grits
1 c milk
2 tbsp butter
1 or 1 1/4 lb cheddar, grated
1 1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne
paprika & parmesan to sprinkle on top
1. Set water to boil. (I leave the lid on as it boils faster.)
Look, I even took a pic of the control knob.
This thing was so dirty I was compelled to Photoshop it. Not clean the actual knob, just Photoshop the picture of it. Did I really do that?
2. Whisk eggs & 1 tsp salt.
Then add milk & beat.
3. Your water should be boiling by now. Listen VERY carefully. Read VERY carefully. Read BEFORE you attempt. FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. This is the only part that requires care. I took the liberty of doing this carelessly and you’ll see what happened to me. Ok. Ready?
Add 1 tsp salt to the water. Next slowly add grits to boiling water STIRRING ALL THE WHILE. Do NOT stop stirring to run for your camera or call your dad to ask about when to add butter. If you do, you’ll have this or these:
I had to start over on the grits. Dad blame it! Here’s what they should look like:
Ok. NOW you’re ready to add the grits. Go for it!
Once you’ve added & stirred ALL the grits, turn the heat down low, cover & finish cooking. Every once in a while take a gander in there & give it a stir. Should take about 30 minutes but check your grits instructions as they can vary. Should be sort of cream of wheat-y in texture – viscous but pourable.
5. Preheat oven to 350 & grease a casserole dish.
6. Slowly add cooked grits & butter to egg mixture, stirring constantly. Add cheese, Worchestershire sauce & cayenne. STIR, STIR, STIR!! You want that mixed “real good.”
If you’re short on time you can use pre-grated cheese. I don’t think it tastes as good. But I usually kick myself for NOT buying it.
Look at that!
7. Sprinkle some grated parmesan (or a handful of the cheddar if you prefer or if you just don’t have any parmesan cheese) & paprika on top. Bake until bubbly & browned (about an hour.)
Some of these directions are loose – that’s just how it is. In fact, when I called my dad to ask him about the butter, “Dad, when & where do I add that butter?” he laughed and told me, “Whenever you want! Add it to the hot grits, or add it to the egg mixture, or forget to add it. Nobody will say you didn’t add it at the right time or “Oh, you forgot the butter!”
I felt like a real square.
So, don’t worry! As long as you slowly add things and stir, stir, stir you will be fine!