Sunday, June 30, 2013

quinoa and vegetable "lasagna"

If you're craving a hearty lunch or dinner, this is the meal (or side dish) for you! Packed with nutrients and quinoa protein, add any vegetable you'd like (or whatever is the fridge). 

Quinoa and Vegetable "Lasagna" Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
1/2 cup dry amaranth
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
teaspoon of oil or cooking spray
1 cup of swiss chard, chopped
1/2 bell pepper
(feel free to replace veggies with what you have on hand)
1/2 can of coconut milk or 1/2 can chicken or veggie broth
fresh herbs + condiments

Pre-heat oven to 350

Pour quinoa and amaranth into 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. 

In the meantime, heat oil on skillet and add opinion and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes until soft. Place onion and garlic into pot of water with quinoa et al. 

Chop all vegetables you'd like to you and, guess what, into the pot they go as well!

When your original thirty minutes is up (from when you started simmering the pot of quinoa and amaranth), place everything into a large, glass baking dish. Add coconut milk or broth and stir altogether. Bake for 30 minutes. 

(as you can see form my photo, I added some almond cheese to the top to make it more lasagna-like)

The key here is to pick a theme and stick with it. If you're feeling more Asian flavors, use the coconut milk and pair it with vegetables like bok choy, bell peppers, eggplant and ginger. 

If you're going with the broth, then Italian flavors such as spinach, tomatoes and basil work nicely. 

I gave mine a Mexican kick by using chard and bell pepper and then topping with cilantro and salsa (sliced avocado would have made a nice garnish as well!)

This is a meal you can eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner! For breakfast, you could place a fried egg on top, for lunch, cut a smaller piece and pair with a salad and for dinner, eat the whole darn thing...okay, I think I'm just hungry as I am writing this post. Don't eat the  whole thing in one sitting!

And if you eat cheese or beans (sigh, the good ole days!) then throw those in there as well!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

popsicle stick cuffs

So, the laws of physics dictate that if you heat up wood, it will become pliable. The laws of craftiness dictate that said bendy wood should then be molded into a lovely cuff bracelet!

Materials Needed:
Popsicle sticks (prep double because some might break)
an empty glass
paint, brushes
a naked wrist!

Begin by soaking your Popsicle sticks overnight.

Then boil a pot of water and throw those puppies in for about 30 minutes.

Using tongs and an over mitt, remove the Popsicle sticks, one at a time and place inside a glass cup. (* I wish my glass had been narrower!!!)

Here is a photo of about 5 sticks in each glass. 

Leave them alone for another day. The next day, they will be dry and ready to come out and play!

Take your paint and get to work decorating them. We had to add some duct tape to ours since I used a too-wide glass for my kids' small wrists. 

 Let them dry completely before wearing. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

power crackers

I had to share my new favorite snack with you. 

It comes from the blog Power Hungry and these crackers are packed with so many things that are good for you: pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, quinoa.......

I made a batch and topped them with some soy nut butter and orange "clean" version of good ole pb & j....they were just as satisfying. 

They'd be great with any kind of nut butter and jelly or jam or goat cheese (if you're eating that) or...anything you'd put on a cracker!

Get the recipe for the crackers here!

Friday, June 21, 2013

free giveaway: Jack the Giant Slayer

I don't know about you, but movie nights rank high on our hit list of summer activities and Jack and the Giant Slayer is just the sort of movie to pique those boys' interest! So, in honor of summer movie nights happening all over, I'm giving away the Jack and the Giant Slayer Combo Pack (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet) to one of my followers!

Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of this life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom and its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend... and gets the chance to become a legend himself! Directed by Brian Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns)

Starring: Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy), Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Moulin Rouge!), and Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones).

While you're waiting to see if you win, visit the Jack the Giant Slayer Blogg App, where you have the power! Control the moving GIFs and power the action in the movie with a swipe of your mouse! The Giant Soundboard lets you compose your own mashup of sounds from Jack The Giant Slayer, which your kids will enjoy for hours! Test your bravery and take the How Brave Are You? QUIZ to see if you are as brave as our hero Jack.

View the Jack the Giant Slayer Blog App here:

There are two things you must do to be eligible for this prize:
1. Become a follower of my blog (not just an email subscriber, but a real deal follower)
2. leave a comment telling me your favorite fairy tale. (please be sure and include your email address so I can contact you if you win.)

This prize is open to both US and Canadian mailing addresses!!!

This giveaway will close on Monday, July 8th at 11:49 pm et and I must receive your mailing address no later than Wednesday, July 10th in order to receive your prize. 

The prize will be sent via FedEx or UPS. No P.O. Boxes please.

Please note that I am working with Warner Bros. who supplied these materials.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

fancy free cookies (dairy, gluten and egg free)

What if I told you I have this recipe that makes the best cookies without using eggs, flour or butter? Would you believe me?  I hardly believed myself, but it’s true! And for my vegetarian son, I deemed these cookies to be high protein snacks for him, which he couldn’t be more thrilled about.

Fancy Free Cookies (makes about 15 cookies)
1 ½ cups of cashews (sub almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts……)
2 tablespoons tahini
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

add-ons – if you’re feeling extra fancy:
½ cup dairy free chocolate chips
¼ cup whole flaxseeds
¼ cup grated carrots
¼ cups grated zucchini

Now here’s the easy part. Place all ingredients in the Vitamix (or other blender-type device) and mix. I like my cookies with lots of texture and chunk, so I don’t mix too much.
Spoon onto baking sheet and bake at 350 for 9 minutes.
Allow cookies to completely cool before removing from pan.

Then enjoy and wow your wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free friends!

Monday, June 17, 2013

we have a winner!

And the winner of The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage is.....

Mel who wrote, "Ooh! Thanks for this chance! I am a long time follower via email, and everywhere else. LOL! I do so love a good cookbook and really love when recipes are shared with memories. :)"

Mel, I don't see an email address attached to your comment, so I will try and hunt you down...or you hunt me down at meremadeblog (at) gmail (dot) com in order to send me your mailing address!

Thanks, everyone! Another giveaway will be coming up later in the week!

As will the following:
a visit to farm camp
my new favorite cookies 
and baked chicken

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A new way of eating

Well, things have gotten interesting around here in the food department. While I don't post about my rheumatoid arthritis often, becaue it has become so linked with my diet, I wanted to share with you some interesting information that perhaps you may be interested in applying to your own health.

So, to make a long story short...I've been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for a year and a half. The hardest part for me is the joint pain and the fatigue. It's like having the flu without any cold symptoms. When it's bad I can't get out of bed. I'm cranky. I'm sore. I'm no fun to be around. The doctors have suggested going on some pretty strong meds for the rest of my life. For someone who doesn't even take Tylonal, this is hard to stomach. So I did my research and explored other options. 

Which leads me to the important role that food can play in your health. A few weeks ago, I won a food sensitivity testing from Doodle's preschool and last week, I got the results. It turns out I am "highly sensitive" to a great number of foods: eggs, legumes (all beans except adzuke, mung and black eyed peas), apples, strawberries, all dairy (even goat's milk). well, those are the big ones. 

How does this relate to my RA? Researchers are now discovering that food sensitivites can bring about an inflammatory response in your body. Bombard your body with foods you're sentive to day after day, year after year and you can develop all sorts of illnesses including autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancer to name a few. (*I am by NO means a doctor and I am NOT giving medical advice here, just sharing my own experience in hopes that you will ask your own questions). So the idea is if you avoid these certain foods, your body's system can recover and settle and the symptoms will go away. 

Let me tell you by experience this is easier said than done for this here foodie!!! But I'm trying! The nutritionist who did my testing also explained that it's a good idea to have your diet be on a four day roation system, that way, no one food is repeated until four days later, so that if you do react with some inflammation, you give yourself four days to recover. She placed all the foods I am able to eat into four I just see what day I'm on and only eat food from that particular column (this goes for drinks as well...before, I was using coconut milk all the time! Now I alternate between coconut, almond, hemp, flax and rice. 

I am on day 7 of this diet and I have to say that two days ago, for two days straight, I experienced a full 48 hours of being symptom free (for the first time in a year and a half) it felt miraculous and I am so motivated by the results that I am trying my hardest to stick to it!!

So, if the recipes seem a bit different in the next coming months, this is why. In a few weeks I'll be able to add back my sensitive foods, one at a time and see if I am still reacting to them. If I am, I'll need to wait another 6 months before trying them again. 

Here are some online resources if you're interested in the subject of food elimination!

Alcat Testing (this is one of the diagnostic tests I used)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

kid craft: rain sticks

Mr. P.'s class made rain sticks last week as part of their Southwest studies. His little brother really wanted in on this project so we came up with our own version at home. 

Rain sticks come from the Aztecs who used to play them in hopes of rain. Typically, they are made out of hollow cacti. The spines are removed and then placed into the cacti like nails. Pebbles are then placed in the cacti and when they are turned, the pebbles jostling around the cacti spines makes the soothing sound of a rain stick. 

Materials Needed:
Paper towel roll (or any other sturdy roll)
duct tape
aluminium foil
twine / yarn
1/4 cup dry rice

-Take a large sheet of aluminium foil (twice the size of a piece of paper) and roll it up lengthwise. Wrap it around your forearm to get a spiral shape. 

-Insert coil into paper towel roll. 
- Secure one end of the roll with duct tape. 

- insert 1/4 rice.
- secure other end of roll.

- decorate rain sticks by painting and wrapping yarn. The more colorful it is, the more festive it looks. 

Bring on the rain!!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

i pickled it!

I've been reading up on canning and pickling and wanted to give it a try! Over the holiday, my friend gave me the most amazing jar of pickles!! I haven't stopped thinking about them, so I rounded up some carrots and cauliflower and got to work! Pickling is easy! For this recipe, I didn't sterilize the jars the way you need to if you're making a seal (that will make the jar last for 6 months or longer) but I took the easy route, which means my pickled items only last two weeks in the fridge...which was fine because they're all gone now!

The great thing about pickling is you can pickle anything! And after you get this recipe down, you'll want to pickle your life!

easy pickling recipe:  (makes 3 medium jars of pickled deliciousness)

1/4 head of cauliflower, washed
1 lb of carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
3 garlic cloves, crushed slightly
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon anise seeds
3 bay leaves (one for each jar)

-Par boil the carrots and cauliflower then remove from pot.
-Place the rest of the items into the pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for about two minutes. 
-Distribute the carrots and broccoli into your three jars. Then pour in the items from the pot. Make sure to evenly distribute everything (Each jar should have one bay leaf, one clove of garlic)
-Close the lids and place in fridge for at least 48 hours before eating!

Friday, June 7, 2013

it's da bomb!

Remember that phrase that was so overused in the 90's??

Well, I love me a good yarn bomb and The Craft and Folk Art Museum is the most recent victim of this wool beautification. Apparently, it was completed by Yarn Bombing Los Angeles - a (I kid you not) knit graffiti collective. How do I get into that club??

The building is now covered in 12,00 crocheted granny squares. I wish they'd come yarn bomb my house!!!!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

giveaway: the cassoulet saved our marriage

I am really excited about today's giveaway. It's not only an amazing book - funny, poignant and interesting, but three, count 'em, three of my friends have essays in it!

The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage is the perfect book for people interested in good food and good writing! And there are some really great recipes in between all the wonderful storytelling!

Let me introduce you to my three friends featured in the book!

Lisa Harper, one of the book's editors and writers, met my sister years ago in graduate school. I first met her on the dance floor, swing dancing in San Francisco. (and boy can she dance!) Lisa is the author of the award winning non-fiction book, A Double Life. She is also a professor and teaches writing in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco.

Melissa Clark is not only my friend, but my sister! I know you've heard me talk about her before! She is the author of two novels, Swimming Upstream Slowly and Imperfect. You should go order both, right now!! She is one of my favorite people to cook for because she so appreciates a good meal!

If you haven't heard of Max Brooks, then you've clearly been living under a rock as the adaptation of his book, World War Z, is plastered on billboards all over town! I've known Max since I was born as our parents were good friends and while his piece doesn't cover zombies (his usual territory) it will move you as only a good piece of writing can.

So, take these three powerhouse writers, add 28 original recipes paired with storeis about family and food and why it matters and you have The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage! 

One lucky reader will win a book, signed by Lisa Harper! All you have to do is become a follower of my blog AND leave a comment below. If you'd like, you can even tell me your favorite meal to cook or eat!

This contest will close on June 16th at 11:59 pm ET and a winner will be announced Monday, June 17th. Open to U.S. mailing address only. 

Good luck and bon appetite!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

where have i been?

Sorry for the silence. This time of year is so crazy! Wrapping up school, end of year parties, endless to do lists, summer planning. Endings and new beginnings! 

I have a lot to share including recipes, crafts and a giveaway coming soon! But in the meantime, I'll show you what I've been doing in my time away from my computer this past week:

A spontaneous trip to Disneyland (we're only 45 minutes away, so it's not a huge commitment...thank goodness for the season pass option)

stoic boy in the Tarzan tree:

and my accident prone children never cease to amaze me with their injuries - this while waiting in line for the Dumbo ride. 

There was a major haircut for Mr. P. (he looks so much older now!)

Brotherly love on the carousel at the Santa Monica Pier:

Even fairies like to scooter:

and pose:

our first guest slept over (Doodle joined in until the lights went out)

lots of pool time (this kid knows how to max and relax!)

And a visit to Underwood Farms, a favorite, local farm where you can pick your own produce.

The potato patch was full of surprises:

Peaches were not quite ready:

We covered lots of ground:

found this unreal-looking flower (I think it's a passion fruit or guava flower - any flower experts who can confirm?)

And we picked the sweetest strawberries which I immediately rushed home and dipped in chocolate. Yum!

Aside from that we helped host a party for 50 parents at Mr. P.'s school, ran numerous errands, had a multitude of guests over, went through a diet overhaul (more on that later in the week)...the list could go on and on, but I am back in action!!!