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Random Things, Yummy Things

BEST PUMPKIN RECIPES AND MORE……

It’s fall, and you know what that means! So many sights and flavors of autumn come out to play…The most iconic of the bunch? Pumpkin spice, of course! It seems like we wait all year long for the arrival of Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes and other festive pumpkin flavored foods – so I figured I’d write a post on how to create these spiced scents in your own kitchen.

Pumpkin pie is a MUST throughout the fall season, so what could be better than making your own homemade pumpkin pie spice, especially during the holiday season. This seasoning can be used in your everyday cooking as well as your favorite seasonal recipes. Although there is no actual pumpkin in this spice, it has the same flavor of pumpkin pie that makes everything this time of year feel cozy and comforting, just like a new pair of Uggs.

PUMPKIN PIE SPICE

One thing I love to do is sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice in a small pot of boiling water to make our home smell like a freshly baked treat. You can also sprinkle it in your morning smoothie or cup of coffee for that ‘pumpkin and spice and everything nice’ kind of feeling

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cloves

Method:
Whisk together the cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves in a small bowl. Transfer it to a small glass jar.

PUMPKIN MAPLE PECAN GRANOLA

This nutty, crunchy, pumpkin-y and not too sweet 9 ingredient granola recipe is like sheer bliss on a spoon. It’s perfect for fall and is filled with fiber, protein and healthy fats, making the perfect breakfast or snack. It also makes a lovely little gift for fall birthdays and holidays. “Give a friend granola, you’ll have a friend for life.”

Yield: 4-½ cups granola
Ingredients:
3 cups rolled oats (gluten-free for GF eaters)
1-¼ cups raw pecans
⅓ cup raw pepitas
3 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice + extra dash of cinnamon
¼ cup coconut or olive oil
⅓ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup pumpkin puree

Method:
Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Mix the oats, nuts, seeds, spices, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, war the coconut oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree and whisk. Pour over the dry ingredients and quickly mix with a wooden spoon. Spread the mixture evenly onto two baking sheets and bake for 23 – 33 minutes, stirring a bit near the halfway point. If you prefer chunkier granola, don’t stir as it breaks up the clusters. Instead, just rotate the pans at the halfway point to ensure even cooking. Once the granola is golden brown (usually about 25 minutes) remove from oven and let cool completely. It will crisp up as it cools. Transfer to an airtight container. Should keep for a couple of weeks. Enjoy with almond milk, yogurt or on top of oatmeal. Yum!

Recipe from: The Minimalist Baker

SWEET CHILI PUMPKIN SEED CLUSTERS

Pumpkin seeds require a long time in the oven, unlike other nuts and seeds. But it is so worth it! They are loaded with fiber, zinc, copper and plant protein so you can feel great about eating them by the handful. Pumpkin seeds are perfect to use as a garnish on top of a salad to add that simple touch of flavor or to simply snack on throughout the day.

Yield: 1 cup
Ingredients:
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt.

Method:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and toss to coat evenly. Add pumpkin seeds to a baking sheet in an even layer, but try to keep as many touching as possible – this is what will allow them to form clusters.

Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until seeds are puffed and crunchy with a slightly darker green color. Allow to cool completely, at least 20 minutes, before gently breaking into small clusters.

Recipe from : Balanced Cookbook by Laura Lea

PUMPKIN SPICE PECAN BREAD

A healthier take on traditional pumpkin bread, this recipe uses almond and coconut flour instead of bleached white flour.

Yield: 10 slices
Ingredients:
¾ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup canned full-fat coconut milk
½ cup maple syrup
4 large eggs
1-½ cups blanched almond flour
½ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg½ teaspoon sea salt
⅔ cup pecans

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a standard (8-1/2 x 4-½ x 2-¾ inch) loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing 1 inch of parchment to hang over the sides.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, coconut milk, maple syrup and eggs.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt.

Add wet ingredients into dry and stir until blended. Stir in pecans. Empty batter into loaf pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing. Bread will keep in a sealed container on the counter for 24 hours, or refrigerated for 5 days.

Recipe from: Balanced Cookbook by Laura Lea

CRUSTED PUMPKIN WEDGES WITH SOUR CREAM

You can use most varieties of pumpkin for these delicious pumpkin wedges. They will also make a perfect veggie main course for the holidays since the crust is a bit like stuffing.

Yield: Serves 4
Ingredients:
1-½ lbs. Pumpkin (skin on)
½ cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons dried white breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2-½ teaspoons finely chopped thyme
Grated zest of 2 large lemons
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and white pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped dill

Method:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pumpkin into ⅜-inch-thick slices and lay them flat, cut-side down, on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

Mix together in a small bowl the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme, half the lemon zest, the garlic, a tiny amount of salt (remember, the Parmesan is salty) and some pepper.

Brush the pumpkin generously with olive oil and sprinkle with the crust mix, making sure the slices are covered with a nice, thick coating. Gently pat the mix down a little.

Place the pan in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender: stick a little knife in one wedge to make sure it has softened and is cooked through. If the topping starts to darken too much during cooking, cover loosely with foil.

Mix the sour cream with the dill and some salt and pepper. Serve the wedges warm, sprinkled with the remaining lemon zest, with the sour cream on the side.

Recipe from: Yotam Ottolenghi

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If you’re a Trader Joe’s fan like me, one thing I look forward to every fall is the variety of pumpkin goodies lining their grocery shelves. It seems like every week there’s another new product or two that I didn’t see the week before, and if you’re someone who doesn’t really enjoy cooking, here are some of their more popular pumpkin items that are so perfect for the sweater weather time of year.

Pumpkin Ginger Ice Cream Cones
Trader Joe’s pumpkin ice cream is added to this pumpkin ginger ice cream cone for an amazing seasonal dessert.

Pumpkin-Flavored Greek Yogurt
This yogurt is so flavorful and creamy, it’s basically like eating pumpkin pie – but healthier.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin and cheesecake are a win-win combination. This cake is made with real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices, so every bite tastes like fall.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee
This coffee is what pumpkin spice latte dreams are made of. The beans are actually soaked in pumpkin spice oil.

Pumpkin Spice Granola Bark
A mix of granola and pumpkin season spices pressed flat and covered with dark chocolate. Yum!

Pumpkin Spice Bagels
What could be better than starting your day off with a toasted pumpkin bagel, especially this time of year. Festive and so tasty, they’re great to have on hand for out of town guests.

There’s no doubt that all of the items and recipes in this post will have you “falling” in love. If you enjoy cooking, you now have some new ‘must try’  pumpkin recipes, and if you’d rather have it all done, you have a great list of pumpkin treats to buy at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s. What more can I say about pumpkins other than…..enjoy every delicious bite of these perfectly spiced fall favorites. Happy Fall Y’all!!

Smooch!

xx Barbara

If you’re currently following me on Instagram, I want to send you a big thank you! Hearing from you makes my world go round. If not, please check out @lemonadetolace on your Instagram app and tap FOLLOW.

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

YOUR HEALTHIEST SUMMER YET, FROM SUNSCREEN TO SMOOTHIES

I’ve decided to give my sunscreen ritual a bit of a shake-up now that summer is here. You and I both know that not all sunscreens are created equal. As with all products in the beauty world, it’s sometimes difficult to tell what’s truly made with clean, thoughtful ingredients. The truth is, there are a multitude of chemicals in today’s conventional sunscreens – even the labels give it away. This summer, I decided to make a change and focus on supporting companies that are putting health and integrity first. It’s a surprising amount of work identifying which products are truly a cut above the rest, but it is worth it!

To be honest, I was shocked to find that some conventional sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays rather than block them. Mineral sunscreens that use zinc or titanium dioxide, however, sit on top of the skin and physically block UVA and UVB rays. Here’s an important thing to take note of: Mineral sunscreens will ONLY list zinc and/or titanium dioxide as ingredients. If you see a sunscreen that says “mineral-based” this typically means that zinc and/or titanium dioxide have been mixed with other chemical sunscreens.

Switching over to clean products takes a lot of research, so I’ll be switching over in baby steps. This summer, I’m planning on trying a couple of different sunscreens to see how I like them and to test if they actually do protect me from the sun’s damaging rays. Trying to find a “clean” non-toxic sunscreen is no different than eating healthy organic fruits and vegetables. I know that it’s not only important what you put IN your body; It’s also important what you put ON your body.

Here are a few of the non-toxic sunscreens that I’m planning to try out:

Suntegrity
Body Sunscreen SPF 30

https://www.thedetoxmarket.com/Suntegrity Body Sunscreen SPF 30

Babo Botanicals
SPF 30 Clear Zinc Fragrance Free Sunscreen Lotion

https://www.babobotanicals.com/Babo BotanicalsSPF 30 Clear Zinc Fragrance Free Sunscreen Lotion

Coola
Eco-Lux Body SPF 30 Organic Sunscreen Spray

https://coolasuncare.com/Coola Eco-Lux Body SPF 30 Organic Sunscreen Spray

If you decide to try a different “clean” sunscreen other than those listed above, please take note:

*Broad Spectrum is important
*You want mineral, not chemical
*Be wary of the term “mineral-based”
* Make sure all active ingredients are non-toxic. No parabens!

If you choose to switch over and start using a non-toxic sunscreen, let me know what you think of the product and how it works for you! Stay safe and have fun in the sun this summer!

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SMOOTHIES

Summer is finally here. It’s time to chill out – while you lay out with your new sunscreen, why not enjoy a refreshing smoothie? Below are a couple of smoothie recipes from Beaming, a healthy superfoods store right down the street in Santa Monica. (www.livebeaming.com)

Lisa’s Daily Lean + Green
¾ cup almond milk
¾ cup coconut water
2-3 Tbsp organic plant-based protein powder
¼ avocado
¼ cup frozen banana
1 large handful of spinach
1 tsp maca
1 Tbsp hemp seeds for garnish

Method:
Blend all ingredients on high speed in blender for about 30 seconds. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of hemp seeds on top.

Beaming Basic Smoothie
1-½ cup sprouted almond milk
½ frozen banana
1 medjol date (Prefer low-glycemic? Substitute the date and banana for ¼ avocado and a low-glycemic superfood sweetener such as yacon, mesquite, honey, coconut sugar or agave)
2 Tbsp Beaming Organic Superfood Plant Based Protein Powder
Your favorite fruits (banana, mango, strawberry, blueberry, etc) and greens (spinach is great)
¼ cup ice

Method:
Blend all ingredients in mixture until smooth.

I got the smoothie recipe below from Pamela Salzman. Check out her cookbook called
Kitchen Matters. I went to several of her cooking classes here in LA and learned so much about getting back to the basics and cooking “real” food. 

Strawberry-Cucumber Smoothie
1 cup cold coconut water or unsweetened almond milk
1-½ cups frozen strawberries (freeze your own organic strawberries)
1 Persian cucumber, unpeeled, cut into large chunks or ½ an English (hothouse)
Cucumber, seeds removed, cut into large chunks
1 Tbsp raw honey or sweetener of choice (optional)
1 tsp minced, peeled ginger (optional)

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add more almond milk as necessary, depending on your desired consistency.

Note:
You can substitute frozen blueberries or blackberries and add ground flax meal, hemp seeds or protein powder.

Enjoy these cool treats – and their amazing health benefits!

Smooch!

xx Barbara

Follow me on Instagram @lemonadetolace

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

2018 Food Trends

2018 is proving to be an adventurous year in the food industry. I’ve been sipping and snacking my way through LA, so I thought I’d compile a list of what’s currently trending! There’s so much going on, from a new water revolution to now-functional mushrooms. Not to mention, souping is the new juicing, and avocado isn’t toast yet – which is a huge “hooray” for me since I’m a major avocado lover. Here are ten food trends to try in 2018:

The Trend: Plant-Based foods Fresh produce is the star of 2018, especially with the popularity of plant-based diets and veggie-centric main courses and side dishes. Bright and bold natural colors are “rocking” in the food world. Think about what the produce section of your grocery store looks like: Colorful, to say the least. Using the entire vegetable, or root-to-stem eating, is the new way to go, because it reduces the food waste that is so common at home and in restaurants. If your goal is to cut back on meat, plant proteins like lentils, black beans and quinoa will take the place of meat proteins in everyday cooking. #MeatlessMonday, anyone?

The Trend: Coffee Elixir If coffee is the first thing that comes to your mind when you wake up, then we have something in common. Now, it’s time to up the ante: Superfoods are not just for your morning smoothies anymore. Revamp your morning cup of coffee by adding protein, maca, mushroom powders and other superfoods that are nutritious and delicious. Imagine actually getting health benefits out of a cup of coffee rather than just a caffeine fix. It’s a win-win!

The Trend: Air Frying Also all the rage? Air fryers. Unlike a deep-fryer that uses vegetable or canola oil, air fryers circulate hot air around the food and perfectly crisp the food in a much healthier way. It may sound too good to be true, but there’s absolutely no downside. From french fries to chicken wings, recipes for air frying are popping up more and more.

The Trend: Fizzy H2O Say cheers to the other kind of bubbly. Drinking a can of flavored fizzy water is more popular than ever and has captured the hearts of millenials and moms alike. Some people I know are so hooked on La Croix flavored sparkling water that when they go to Whole Foods, they buy every case of the lime flavor that they can get their hands on. The bubbly waters make you feel like you’re drinking a soda, minus the added sugar and additives. If you love LaCroix, you’ll also enjoy Spindrift and Perrier.

The Trend: Souping Over Juicing Move over, green juice. Drinkable soups are the hot new thing: Hearty, tasty, filling and convenient. Pureed soups are packed with vitamins and nutrients, making them a delicious swap for juices. Like juicing, souping gives your digestive system a rest, but it’s unlikely to lead to the energy crashes, headaches and weight gain rebound that sugary juices have been known for. Using bone broth as the base to your soup will give you many anti-inflammatory benefits as well.

The Trend: Ghee is the Better Butter Substitute If you’re not familiar with Ghee yet, be prepared to see it everywhere this year. Ghee is clarified butter, which is produced by heating butter and removing the milk solids and water. Ghee is a healthy fat and has been used for years in Ayurvedic healing practices. Ghee has a rich, nutty flavor and can be used in place of just about any other cooking oil or fat in recipes. It is the perfect substitute for butter if you have a milk allergy or are lactose intolerant.

The Trend: Donuts With Exotic Fillings 2018 is the year of creative fillings for donuts, not only in your neighborhood donut shop, but also in the fine dining world. Everyone still wants to splurge every now and then and when they do, donuts with fun and interesting flavor combinations are hard to beat. Fillings such as pineapple with basil cream, meyer lemon curd, mojito and mint leaf, lavender and berry with goat cheese are all the rage. Definitely different from your classic glazed donut!

The Trend: Functional Mushrooms Who would have thought that mushrooms and fungi would be the next big thing? Mushroom fans claim that they can cure everything from high blood sugar to arthritis. Medicinal mushroom powders are popping up in bottled drinks and can be added to coffees, smoothies and teas. When I went to check out the Four Sigmatic mushroom shop in Venice, CA, I got a brief education on mushrooms’ many health benefits. There’s even an e-learning course called Mushroom Academy where you can learn all about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms. The best part is, the course is absolutely free.

The Trend: Floral Flavors and Edible Flowers In addition to being used as beautiful decorative touches, more and more edible flowers are being sourced for their specific flavors. Think lavender lattes and rose flavored everything, from drinks to desserts. Flowers like lavender, violet and hibiscus are moving from fancy restaurant plates to grocery store shelves, so keep an eye out the next time you’re baking or hosting a tea.

The Trend: Overall Well-Being Through Food The saying “you are what you eat” has never been more true. The emphasis of body and mind connections are influencing new food and beverage introductions in 2018. Healing the “gut” and curing what ails you through ayurvedic cooking has become increasingly popular. If you’re interested in learning more, www.countertopfoods.com is all about cooking with spices medicinally. Their products “help make the food you already love into food that your body will love you for.” More on this in another post.  

 

 

In 2018 and in the trending food world, you’ll also notice a few other things. Dumplings still dominate. Meatballs are on a roll and tacos are here to stay. Only this time, look for breakfast tacos, dessert tacos and even sushi tacos. Yum! This year’s pizza trend will be square shaped pizzas. Grocery delivery (www.milkandeggs.com) and meal kit delivery services like (www.blueapron.com) will only get bigger. Of course, a few things will stay the same: I can promise you that mocktails will never replace cocktails.

If you’d like to try selecting your organic groceries online, I recommend milkandeggs.com!
Use code LEMONADETOLACE for 20% off your order.

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Beauty, Pretty Things, Random Things, Yummy Things

Amazing Holiday Hostess Gifts

There’s nothing better than being with family and friends during the holidays. Attending parties, going to home gatherings and celebrating is what this time of year is all about. It’s also about giving. Showing up with a gift is a nice way to show appreciation to your hostess for being included in their Thanksgiving dinner or holiday party.  Below you’ll find some thoughtful and creative ideas.

Chalkboard Cheese Markers – $12.95
https://www.crateandbarrel.com/Chalkboard Cheese Markers

Beauty Chef Cookbook – $35
https://www.anthropologie.com/Beauty Chef Cookbook

Bath Bombs – $19.99
https://www.amazon.com/BathBombs

Caramel S’mores – $16
https://bondbars.com/Caramel S’mores

Hand Soap – $20
https://shop.beekman1802.com/Hand Soap

Geo Printed Dishcloths – $24
https://www.google.com/Geo Printed Dishcloths

Estate Collection candles and fragrance oil – $35 – $43
https://shop.lisaparigi.com/Estate Collection candles and fragrance oil

Monogrammed Mugs – $10 each
https://www.anthropologie.com/Monogrammed Mugs

Kitchen Towels (for the hostess with a sense of humor) – $5 each
https://www.etsy.com/Kitchen Towels

Honeycomb Vase – $32
https://www.anthropologie.com/Honeycomb Vase

Bottle Stopper – $16
https://www.anthropologie.com/Bottle Stopper

Fragrance Diffuser – $45
https://shop.nordstrom.com/Fragrance Diffuser

 

I hope this list provides you with ideas and inspiration for the perfect hostess gift. I’m ready to get this holiday season started. As my kids would say, let’s do this!

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

My Go-To Thanksgiving Dishes

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is around the corner. For those of you who know me well, I’m a tried and true holiday girl and I love the cooking that goes along with it. Give me a holiday, a birthday or any special occasion and I’m ready to celebrate. Out of all the holidays throughout the year, Thanksgiving happens to be my very favorite food holiday. Southern favorites are always a highlight at our meal whether we’re spending Thanksgiving in Houston or here in LA. I’ve gathered a few of my favorite recipes below to share with you.

MASHED SWEET POTATOES WITH BROWN SUGAR AND PECANS

Serves 12 to 14
Ingredients:
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
5 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt

Method:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, pecans and butter in small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cook sweet potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Let stand in colander 15 minutes. Purée sweet potatoes in processor.Beat eggs, syrup, vanilla, lemon juice and salt in large bowl. Mix in puréed sweet potatoes. Transfer sweet potato mixture to prepared dish. Sprinkle pecan topping evenly over mixture.Bake until sweet potato mixture is set and topping bubbles, about 1 hour. Let stand 15 minutes and serve.

Recipe from: Epicurious.com
Photo courtesy of: theodysseyonline.com


SOUTHERN CORNBREAD DRESSING
A traditional southern cornbread dressing flavored with onion, celery, and sage. Super moist and flavorful.

Serves 8
Ingredients:
Cornbread
1 cup self-rising cornmeal, I use Martha White
1/2 cup self-rising flour, I use White Lily
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons Vegetable oil

Dressing
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
3 medium onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 pieces toast, crumbled
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 to 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons butter

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients for cornbread. Pour into a lightly greased 9-inch cast iron pan or a 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Before using, crumble into small pieces.
Heat butter over medium heat in a large pan. Add celery and onion and cook until soft.
Add sage, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper to onion mixture.
In a large bowl combine crumbled cornbread and toast.
Whisk together milk and eggs and add to bowl. Stir in 2 cups of chicken broth.
Stir in onion mixture. Mixture should be very moist. Add more broth if necessary.
Transfer to a greased baking dish. Cut butter into small slivers and scatter on top of dressing.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until it turns light brown on top.

Note: The cornbread should be made a day or two in advance.

Recipe from: Christin Mahrlig
Photo courtesy of: thekitchn.com

PUMPKIN BREAD
Makes 1 loaf. Enjoy this popular southern recipe!

Ingredients:
 3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
 3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 cup chopped walnuts and/or chocolate chips

Method:
Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.
Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, ¼ cup of water and the spices together in a separate bowl. Then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts or chocolate chips.
Pour into a well-buttered 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Bake 60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let it cool on a baking rack.
Can easily double the recipe.

** And by the way, I got the Pumpkin Bread recipe above from my college roommate and dear friend Judy Finer Freedman. It’s one of her family’s favorites and now one of our favorites. Thanks so much for sharing Judy!!

Photo courtesy of: Sugarmamacooks.com

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

Farm to Table Fresh: When to Buy Organic

I’m constantly amazed at how many conversations here in LA center around food. People who live here take great pleasure in choosing, buying, preparing and cooking healthy food, and I’ve noticed that more and more people have very different eating habits than I was used to before moving to California.

Every fall, I find myself spending more time in the kitchen trying new recipes and cooking old favorites for family and friends. The holidays inspire me, and I find it easier to cook and bake for a group rather than just for two – what a happy feeling.

That said, the holidays find me making many traditional recipes that are not exactly low in calories. However, the recipes are so delicious that the holidays wouldn’t be the same without them. I try to choose organic and pure ingredients to prepare these recipes for my family’s favorite meals of the year.

We all have so many options when it comes to the food world, and it can be confusing knowing what to avoid and what to buy. In one of my cooking classes here in LA, I vividly remember my cooking teacher telling us that the single worst item you can eat is butter, so if you eat it or cook with it, she always recommends using organic butter. This is one tip I always take into consideration even when it comes to baking.

I buy organic when I can. This includes fruits and vegetables as well as milk and meat products. When time allows, I enjoy going to our Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. There’s really such a difference in the freshness and flavor of farm to table seasonal fruits and vegetables. Our favorite strawberries at our neighborhood farmer’s market are from Harry’s Berries. They are so sweet that they literally taste like strawberry jam.

Buying all-organic produce all the time is not always realistic, as it can be expensive and hard to find. However, if you’re trying to eat right and can only choose a few organic foods, “The Dirty Dozen Plus” lists the most important fruits and veggies to buy organic in order to avoid pesticide exposure.

The 2017 Dirty Dozen Plus

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce


The 
following list of “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables have the lowest amount of pesticides and can be bought conventionally.


The 2017 Clean 15

  • Sweet corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew melon
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit

 

You might want to take a photo of these 2 lists and keep them on your phone for easy access as you grocery shop.  If you enjoy shopping from home and don’t mind someone else picking your apples, check out the website milkandeggs.com. There are so many organic foods to choose from and your groceries will be delivered right to your front door.

On this final note, I thought I’d share a funny story with you. Last year I was at a deli here in LA ordering some chopped liver for the Jewish holidays. The lady standing at the counter right next to me heard me placing my order and said, “do you know how unhealthy that is for you?” I turned around and said to her, “Yes, I of course I do. But I love it and I enjoy eating it during the holidays and every now and then, it’s okay.” And one more time here in LA, it was an aha moment of sorts…..a definite “Dorothy, you’re not in Oz anymore” or “Barbara you’re not in Texas anymore” kind of moment.

Smooch!

xx Barbara

 

Random Things, Yummy Things

Fourth of July Favorites

The Fourth of July is all about stars, stripes and red, white and blue everything. It’s also about celebrating, with or without the fireworks. So whether you’re hosting a picnic party or a pool party at home, carrying out the patriotic theme with festive food, drinks and decor makes the holiday that much more of a special celebration.

I walked to the Farmers Market today, and it was obvious while walking around Santa Monica, that many retail stores have prepped and are ready for the July 4th holiday, especially Pottery Barn. They have a great selection of Napkins and Melamine Dinner Plates and what I love about these is they can be used over and over again for all of your outdoor entertaining.

They have other festive options as well. Their Liberty Outdoor Party Banner can be arranged as a table runner or as a wall hanging. The Drink Dispenser is a great investment for anyone who entertains a lot and can be used for absolutely any occasion. You can also use red, white and blue in bold graphic patterns to create a chic and modern Independence Day vibe. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complimenting your tabletop with colorful foods can be a decorating opportunity too.  I’ve chosen four ‘frozen’ recipes that will keep your guests cool as well as add a few extra red, white and blue touches to carry out the party’s patriotic theme.

Photo from HGTV 

STRAWBERRY YOGURT POPSICLES

Ingredients:

2 C. Sliced Strawberries (10 ounces)
3 Tbsp. Agave Nectar, Honey or other sweetener
1-½ C. Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Method:

Place strawberries and 2 Tbsp. agave nectar in a food processor. Puree until smooth with some small chunks of fruit.
Mix yogurt and remaining agave nectar in a bowl until smooth.
Spoon 2 – 3 tsp. of strawberry puree into the bottom of each Popsicle MoldSpoon about 1-½ Tbsp. yogurt on top of fruit. Repeat with another layer each of strawberry puree and yogurt. Place popsicle sticks into popsicles. Cover and freeze until solid, about 3 – 4 hours.

Recipe + photo from Tastes of Lizzy T. 

RED WHITE AND BLUEBERRY PIE

Serves 8
Ingredients:

For the Crust:

2 C. Natural Granola
½ C. Walnuts
4 Tbsp. Melted Coconut Oil
1 Tbsp. Agave Syrup

For the Filling:

1 Quart Vanilla Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt, softened to spreadable consistency

For The Berry Topping:

6 Oz. Fresh Raspberries (about 1-¼ C)
6 Oz. Fresh Blueberries (about 1-¼ C)
2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup
2 Tbsp. Water
1 Lemon
1 tsp. Cornstarch

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse crust ingredients until combined and granola is ground to crumbs.
Lightly coat a 9-inch pie dish with butter and press crust into bottom of dish and up the sides.
Bake 10 minutes and cool completely.
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, stir together raspberries, 1 Tbsp. agave syrup, 1 Tbsp. water, the juice of ½ the lemon and ½ tsp. cornstarch.
In another small saucepan over medium heat, stir together blueberries, 1 Tbsp. agave syrup, 1 Tbsp. water,  juice of the other ½ of the lemon, and the ½ tsp. of cornstarch.
Simmer both saucepans of berries until the berries have broken down and sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally with a whisk, about 10 minutes.
Cool and pour each sauce separately through a fine mesh sieve into small separate bowls.
Let sauces cool completely.
Pour sauces into resealable sandwich bags. Snip a tiny amount off one of the corners of the bags.
Alternating bags, pipe circles about 2 inches apart over the pie starting in the center and working outward.
Drag a toothpick from the center of the pie outward to the crust so that the berry sauces are pulled upward.
Drag a toothpick back in the other direction (from crust to center) about 2 inches away from the first line. Continue around the pie.
Freeze uncovered at least 3 hours. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Serve with additional berries and any remaining sauces.

Enjoy!

Recipe + photo from Yummy Mummy Kitchen 

FOURTH OF JULY ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

Ingredients:

Ice Cream Sandwiches (full or mini size)
Red White & Blue sprinkles
Popsicle Sticks (optional)

Method:

Unwrap each ice cream sandwich one at a time. Can cut in half if you want to serve smaller bites.
Place the festive sprinkles onto a plate.
Place the ice cream sandwich onto the plate with the ice cream side down so the sprinkles stick to the ice cream. Coat all four sides. Insert popsicle sticks.
Place the ice cream sandwich back into the freezer to freeze again. Continue to do this with each ice cream sandwich.

Enjoy!

Photo from Endlessly Inspired

BERRY ICE CUBES

Ingredients:

¼ C. blueberries
½ C. strawberries, thinly sliced

Method:

Add water to Ice Cube Trays with 1 – 2 berries in each well.
Place into freezer until fully frozen, at least 4 hours.

Enjoy!

Recipe + photo from Damn Delicious

 

 

 

 

Fashion, Random Things, Yummy Things

FATHER’S DAY GIFTS

Yes Sir! June is here and summer has begun which means Father’s Day is right around the corner. We are ready to celebrate all dads…..our own dads, our husbands, our granddads, and all dads-to-be. Below is a list of Father’s Day gift suggestions, in no particular order because there’s something for every kind of guy on this list!

SOCK OF THE MONTH CLUB – $12/month or 12 months – $132
https://www.sockclub.com/SOCK OF THE MONTH CLUB
Each month a newly designed pair of quality socks will surprise each sock club member, make them smile and remind them they are loved. Designed in Austin and made in America.

ICE COFFEE HYPERCHILLER – $29.99
https://hyperchiller.com/ICE COFFEE HYPERCHILLER
HyperChiller will chill a hot cup of coffee in about a minute without watering it down. It’s compatible with all brewing methods and can also put a chill to wine, whiskey or any other liquid ‘vice’ that your Dad may have.

AMAZON FIRE TV – $89.99
https://www.amazon.com/AMAZON FIRE TV
It’s a tiny box that connects your high definition TV to a world of online entertainment. Amazon Fire TV lets you enjoy your favorite TV episodes and movies on Amazon Video, Netflix, HBO GO and Hulu plus enjoy games, music and more.

LULULEMON GIFT BOX – shorts, shirt and boxers – $128
https://shop.lululemon.com/LULULEMON GIFT BOX
A bundle of 3 Lululemon favorites to make dressing for sweating a no-brainer.

AMAZON ECHO – $179.99
https://www.amazon.com/AMAZON ECHO
Plays all your music from Spotify, Pandora and more using just your voice. Answers questions, reads the news, reports traffic and weather and even controls the lights. The options are endless.

LEATHER TECH ENVELOPE – $149
https://www.markandgraham.com/LEATHER TECH ENVELOPE
Luxe leather for the business traveler or wi-fi cafe’ kind of dad: stash cables and cords, cards and cash, travel docs and passport, an external battery plus small electronic devices including an iPad Air, iPad Mini or iPhone. Fold it, snap it and you’re ready to roll.

CRAFT BEER CLUB – $42 / month
https://craftbeerclub.com/CRAFT BEER CLUB
This club entitles its members to an opportunity to sample 12 craft beers delivered each month, all produced by small-production, independent brewers using traditional ingredients and brewing methods.

BEARD TRIMMER – $17.99
https://www.amazon.com/BEARD TRIMMER
This all-in-one beard and hair trimmer with 18 length settings is simple and enjoyable to use. Skin-friendly blades ensure a gentle trim and the rechargeable battery provides 60 minutes of cordless use on a full charge.

FLIP BELT – $22.99
https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/FLIP BELT
This gift was on my Mother’s Day gift list and is also a perfect choice for the fit dad in your life. The FlipBelt is a tubular pocket that fits around the waist or hip to hold keys, credit cards, phone or whatever else he needs. Everything gets locked into place when you flip the belt inside out and it comes in a variety of colors.

GOLF SWING TRAINER – $52.49
https://www.amazon.com/GOFT SWING TRAINER
Whether your dad is a competitive golfer or plays leisurely with friends, this golf trainer will help develop his core golf muscles, build muscle memory and strengthen his swing helping him to reach his goals while out on the golf course.

KIEHLS MEN’S TRAVEL SET – $43
http://shop.nordstrom.com/KIEHLS MENS TRAVEL SET
This gift set is a mix of classic Kiehl’s products and perfect for the dad on-the-go.

OLLO CLIP iPHONE LENS – $99.99
https://www.olloclip.com/OLLO CLIP IPHONE LENS
This easy-to-use phone attachment has 3 interchangeable lenses: Super-Wide, Fisheye, and Macro 15X zoom. These lenses will revolutionize your dad’s photography skills for any “photo-op” moment.

Random Things, Yummy Things

CHEESE BOARDS – BORING NO MORE!

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with creating cheeseboards. They’re my “go-to” appetizer for dinner parties and friends’ gatherings. Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner….While cheeseboards may not be the healthiest option for a starter, if done right, they can be the perfect addition to any summer soirée.

When I say that I love making cheese trays, I’m not talking about simply throwing a block of cheese on a plate and fanning out some crackers. I like to think of it as flower arranging, but with food! I love getting creative with the cheese and cracker choices, mixing in other items and elevating my cheese platters with an art-like presentation.

When I’m putting together a cheese board, I start with two local spots down the street from me on Montana Avenue: Andrew’s Cheese Shop and Marmalade Cafe. The professionals in both these shops have shared their best tips for creating the ultimate cheese tray:

🍴Choose a mixture of soft and hard cheeses so that there are a variety of textures and shapes.

🍴Choose a total of three to five cheeses made from different milk: goat, sheep, and cow milk.

🍴The general rule is two to four ounces of cheese per guest.

🍴Include both savory and sweet accompaniments on your cheese tray including nuts, cured meats, dried fruits and spreads as well as crackers.

🍴Cheese is best served at room temperature so take the cheese out of the fridge an hour before your guests arrive.

🍴Cut most of the hard cheese on a separate board when still cold prior to arranging it on the cheese tray. No more sticking a knife in the cheese and putting it out.  It’s much tidier this way and the guests will have an easier time with it and enjoy it more.

🍴Go for a clean cut wedge or strip of the hard cheeses that can be eaten in one or two bites – just not too thin where it’s translucent looking.

🍴Blue  or stilton cheese as well as other creamy cheeses like goat or brie, should be kept in a triangle.

🍴Label your cheese. It lets guests know what they’re eating.

Experiment, be creative, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and have fun! No two cheese trays need to look alike, that’s the part I love most.  Remember this: no cheese cubes or Triscuits allowed… or at least not on my cheese trays.

FYI: In case you’re interested in learning more about cheese, Andrew’s Cheese Shop at 728 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica offers cheese classes every other month. They also have a Grilled Cheese & Beer Night coming up on May 26th. For more info: call 310-393-3308.

 

Beauty, Fashion, Pretty Things, Random Things, Yummy Things

Mother’s Day Gifts

Yes darling! The flowers are blooming and spring is in the air which means that it’s that Mother’s Day time of year again! We are amped and ready to celebrate all Moms…..our own Moms, our Grand-Moms, and all of you Mom’s-To-Be. Below is a list of gift suggestions for every Mom in your life.

1. LANDEAU BOUQUET OF ROSES – $179
https://www.givelandeau.com/BOUQUET-OF-ROSES
A luxurious yet simple twist on the classic gift. Landeau delivers bouquets of hand tied roses (25 is the new dozen) and delivers in LA, NYC and Vancouver

2. DYSON SUPERSONIC BLOWDRYER – $399.99


https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/DYSON-SUPERSONIC-BLOWDRYER
The “mother” of all hair dryers – sleek and lightweight, this hairdryer is truly top of the lineThe special edition version of Dyson’s iconic hair dryer is finished with a pale rose presentation box, felt lining and a magnetic clasp.

3. LEATHER IPHONE CASE WITH STRAP – $98

https://www.bandolierstyle.com/LEATHER IPHONE CASE WITH STRAP
This cross-body phone case is an everyday alternative to carrying a big handbag and the added plus is there’s a slot big enough for a credit card. 

4. COMMUTE CLUTCH $129

http://www.markandgraham.com/COMMUTE CLUTCH
This zippered clutch is designed for the tech-savvy mom on the go. It has plenty of pockets and places to stash cards, cords and cables. Perfect to drop in any tote!

5. HERMES TWILLY – $160

http://usa.hermes.com/TWILLY
This gift is a fabulous accessory that can be worn as a head scarf, tied around the neck, or even as a bracelet tied around your wrist. It can even be wrapped around the handles of a handbag for that added touch of cuteness!

6. POTTERY BARN BEADED SILVER-PLATED PICTURE FRAMES $20 – $48
(monogram available at an extra charge)


http://www.potterybarn.com/BEADED-SILVER-PLATED-FRAMES
This is a “go-to” gift that is perfect for any mom. These picture frames are even available with a monogram for that added touch of personalization! Don’t forget to include a favorite snapshot.

7. TAXI WALLET – $49

https://www.amazon.com/TAXI WALLET
The taxi wallet is great for an evening out or traveling. It holds coins,  8+ credit cards and there are two currency pockets for bills.

8.  THIN OPTICS – $19.95 – $29.95

http://thinoptics.com/ THIN OPTICS

These reading glasses are so small, thin, and lightweight they that they can go on a phone, in a pocket or in a wallet. Handy – to say the least.

9. ESTEE LAUDER PRESSED GOLD POWDER COMPACT – $42.50 Neiman Marcus

http://www.neimanmarcus.com/ESTEE LAUDER PRESSED GOLD POWDER COMPACT
This pretty gift makes a statement to the mom in your life. A beautiful little compact perfect for touch-ups or applying lip color and small enough to fit in an evening bag.

10. FLIP BELT $28.99 

https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/FLIP BELT
The perfect gift for the fit mom in your life – the FlipBelt is a tubular pocket that fits around the waist or hip to hold keys, credit cards, phone or whatever else she needs. Everything gets locked into place when you flip the belt inside out and it comes in a variety of colors.

11. OLLO CLIP IPHONE LENS – $99.99
https://www.olloclip.com/OLLO CLIP IPHONE LENS
This easy-to-use phone attachment has 3 interchangeable lenses: Fisheye, Super-Wide and Macro 15X zoom. These lenses are going to revolutionize your mom’s selfie game!

12. BEES KNEES HONEY TRIO – $39.99

https://bushwickkitchen.com/BEES KNEES HONEY TRIO
A flavorful trio of honey is gluten-free and paleo friendly for that honey of yours who enjoys her time in the kitchen or her evening cup of tea.

13. POLAROID ZIP INSTANT PHOTO PRINTER – $129.99

https://www.amazon.com/POLAIROID-ZIP
This portable pocket-sized device pairs wirelessly to any smartphone or tablet and uses a dedicated app available for IOS or Android users. It allows you to print your pics from just about anywhere on 2” X 3” smudge-proof paper. Perfect for any “photo – op” moment.

14. PERSONALIZED NAME NECKLACES $250 – $1,396

http://www.markandgraham.com/PERSONALIZED NAME NECKLACES
This necklace tells a story – and can be personalized with one, two or three different names in a beautiful calligraphy script. Perfect for any mom or “grand” mom.

 

Hope you have a fabulous day celebrating Mom (or being celebrated)!

 

Smooch!

xx Barbara