February 7, 2016
by Lacy
0 comments

Making Room for Cupcakes

For years, I thought restriction was the answer.

I couldn’t be trusted around food. I was afraid that, given the opportunity, I would eat myself into oblivion.

Or, at least into obesity.

Cookies were the enemy (especially chocolate chip cookies — especially my homemade chocolate chip cookies). Desserts of all kinds were verboten. And don’t get me started on tortilla chips.

And, when I did — inevitably — eat those forbidden things I was bad. I was wrong. I beat myself up about it.

Or, I didn’t.  At least, not at the time.  Because I was too busy eating ALL THE COOKIES.  (Or cake. Or chips. Whatever.)

And then, of course, to punish myself later, I’d go back on a strict diet.

Sometimes those strict diets would stick for a while. Even a few months.  But then I’d start eating all the things again and head back towards tight pants and emotional woes.

I have since learned that those terrible swings, eating all the things then eating none of the things, it has a name. And it’s called binge eating disorder.

The binge eating didn’t surprise me that much. The fact that dieting was also a big part of my disorder?

THAT rocked me.

What am I supposed to do when my pants get too tight if I can’t diet????

I’m working on it.  I tune back in.  I get more mindful.  I try to pay attention to my choices and what I’m actually putting in my mouth.

But the one thing I don’t do?

I don’t restrict any more.

So when my daughter asked if we could make some chocolate cupcakes — and I happened to notice that it was national cupcake day — of course I said yes.

room for cupcakes Continue Reading →

February 1, 2016
by Lacy
2 Comments

Digital Detox

sugar snap peaA lot has changed for me since I started this blog.

When I started this blog four years ago, I had a new baby, I had just quit the 9–5 workforce, and I was trying to make it as a freelance writer and blogger. I was obsessed with going green and eating organic both for my and my new baby’s health. And I HAD to do it all on a budget, because I earned about $1500 that year. Total.

Today, my precious baby is now a precocious almost-5-yr-old, I run a successful content marketing business that grosses almost three times my previous 9–5 salary, I have team members, and I still love good food. I also lost my dad last year to leukemia, which changed my outlook on life.

But something else important has changed.

Last year, when my father was dying of cancer, I started seeing a therapist to help me deal with my grief, and she promptly diagnosed me with binge eating disorder.

This actually wasn’t the first time I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. Back in 2010, before I got pregnant, I saw a different therapist for a short time, and she also diagnosed me with “disordered eating.”

But I didn’t take the diagnosis very seriously either time.  It didn’t seem real to me — I didn’t have a real eating disorder (like anorexia or bulimia), I just had some issues around food. In 2011, when my primary care doctor asked me about the diagnosis in my file, I told her I was “better,” and she deleted it from the computer.

Just like that.

What I know now is that saying your eating disorder got “better” is kind of like saying an alcoholic or drug addict is “better.” We might be in recovery, but it’s not the sort of thing you ever cure.

In the last few months, I’ve gotten a lot more serious about tackling my eating disorder, and trying to come to a place of balance. For me, binge eating wasn’t about taking in thousands of calories at a single sitting (though I certainly did that as a teenager), but rather about the loss of control I felt around food, and the wild swings I had between restricting and eating anything and everything.

And one of the biggest changes I’ve experienced as I become more educated about my diagnosis and more open to working on those issues is that my feelings about food and food culture have shifted dramatically.

Junk in, junk out…

It’s become clichéd to say that the media isn’t good for women’s body images, but I realized this was actually extremely true for me. I would see magazines, Facebook posts, blog posts, TV programs all talking about the latest diet or “healthy” food fad, and I’d want to hop on that bandwagon so fast it’d make your boots spin.

But, as I was learning, dieting is a trigger for my eating disorder.

So I slowly started phasing things out. I’ve changed the magazines I buy from titles like Cooking Light and All You to body positive ones like Darling and Happinez and business mags like Independant.

I started unfollowing accounts on Facebook that were making me feel bad — for one reason or another. I unfollowed the Whole30 people, a couple of nutritionists, and even an acquaintance whom I like and respect very much — but who recently became a Beachbody coach, and whose posts were triggering for me.

Slowly, slowly I’ve been getting rid of the media that isn’t healthy for me, and replacing it with better stuff. I follow Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert, Bréne Brown and Geneen Roth.

And it’s made me come to some uncomfortable conclusions.

For a long time, one of the main rationales I had for fighting restrictive diets that promised me slender thighs and a less-jiggly belly was that I was a foodie; I couldn’t condone giving up entire food groups. I reveled in that self-appointed title. I loved being a food writer, a restaurant reviewer, someone in-the-know about cooking and eating and all things food.

But now I’m starting to realize, I don’t want food to define me any more. I don’t want my life to be all about what’s on my plate in public, while in private I agonize about what’s around my waist.

I’m craving more — and not more food.

Where does my voice fall?

I believe we have fetishized food in our culture to an unhealthy extreme.

One of the mental pitfalls I experience when I swing from permissive eating to restrictive is that I don’t know what to do: there are so many different rules out there, so much conflicting advice, so many hard and fast dogmas about what is and is not healthy that directly oppose one another. I become overwhelmed and, frankly, despondent that I will ever reach my goals — so I just go back to eating, because it’s easier.

To paraphrase Geneen Roth, when we are dieting, we are relying on other people to tell us what is right for our bodies. We’re listening to other people’s rules and advice and treating it as gospel.

When we give up dieting, we take back our voice.

I’m deep in the frightening process of remembering how to listen to my own body, to trust its innate wisdom, and to accept that the size it wants to be may or may not conform to what all the voices around me tell me I ought to be.

And I realized: I don’t want to be a part of the noise.

I don’t want to be one of those voices telling anyone else what’s right for them, for their body, for their family, for their life. I am actively trying to get away from that for myself, so I cannot abide the thought of being that distraction for anyone else.

I also realized that keeping up this blog in its current form had become a burden. What had once been a passion project had fizzled and become just one more thing on my to do list. And that’s never what I wanted this to be.

Putting the laughter back into Laughing Lemon Pie

This blog was born of joy. The family story that gives it its name was a moment of pure joy. The blog was born of a desire to share, to teach, to talk, to cook. For me, food has always been equated with love, and I wanted to share that love with an audience, with the world.

But I don’t want to contribute to the noise any more. I don’t want to be a part of that tsunami of information that keeps so many of us mired in negative thoughts, believing that we are wrong, or bad, or that foods fall somewhere on the spectrum of good vs. evil.

I need to preach what I hope to practice.

After much soul searching and talking with my dear friend and contributor, Emily Klopstein, we have decided to let the old version of Laughing Lemon Pie go. Its time has passed.

What that means practically is that we won’t be posting weekly any longer (unless we feel like it). We won’t be doing many sponsored posts, and I’ve removed the advertising from the site.

I also won’t be paying dear Emily to contribute here any more, though I will leave the door open if she ever feels the desire to come back and share!

It also means that you’ll probably be seeing more things like this essay, and fewer recipes, fewer reviews, and absolutely no dogma or judgement.

Instead, I may choose to talk about my journey, about the insights I gain as I turn my attention to the hard inner work of listening and being kind.

I still love to blog. I still love my silly laughing lemons. I want this to be a place that continues to provide joy, to me and others.

Thank you for coming with me on this journey.

Here’s to the next step.

Homemade Kitchen book review on LaughingLemonPie.com

January 29, 2016
by Emily Klopstein
3 Comments

Book Review: The Homemade Kitchen

I’m so thankful for The Homemade Kitchen because it saves me so much time.

Not time in the kitchen mind you, it’s not full of minute-shaving tips. The Homemade Kitchen is saving me oodles of time in that now I don’t have to write a cookbook! WooHoo! Alana Chernila has said eveHomemade Kitchen book review on LaughingLemonPie.comrything I’d ever want to say, and about half the recipes are things I make on a regular basis and would put in my own cookbook. Except that now I don’t have to. What a relief! It’s all so beautifully done and with absolutely zero stress or effort on my part. 😉

The subtitle, “Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure,” is a five word manifesto for how Lacy and I aim to feel and eat. As with Chernila’s first book, The Homemade Kitchen is written in such a realistic and approachable way. The food photography is gorgeous, and the recipes are solid.

“How do I eat? Organicish. Locenough. Homemade when I can. Fresh. Good. Mine.” – Alana Chernila, The Homemade Kitchen

More than a cookbook, The HomeSwiss Chard Tacos with Fresh Cheese and a Fried Egg from The Homemade Kitchen on LaughingLemonPie.commade Kitchen opens with an invitation to “speak honestly about why we cook, and who we are.”

Alana, you had me at “honestly.”

She acknowledges that “all this [modern] focus on the redemptive power of home cooking can feel oppressive and judgmental,” and that in the same week we can both love and loathe the act of feeding our families: “Talk to me on a Saturday morning when I’m working at the farmer’s market, and I’ll convince you that a locally grown kohlrabi can change your life. Walk into my kitchen when the whole family is grumpy with hunger and I can’t figure out what’s for dinner, and I’ll pour you a glass of wine and admit that I, too, just hate making dinner. One perspective doesn’t negate the other.”

As for the homemade aspect of this book, that’s some powerful stuff as many of us know: “Small as the act might be, having the power to feed myself and my family makes me feel optimistic about my own resources to create what I want in life…I can choose, day by day, to pay attention to the small moments, to love the work of life, and ultimately, to love the days I get to live it…When I cook and eat in a way that reflects how I want to live, it means I have the opportunity three (or more!) times a day to make decisions that help me live that life.”

“You can create the life you want out of the small, ordinary moments of every day.” – Alana Chernila, The Homemade Kitchen

Stuffed Winter Squash from The Homemade Kitchen on LaughingLemonPie.comOut of this cookbook, I’ve made the Ginger Pumpkin Pie which uses maple syrup instead of a more refined sugar; the Tagliatelle with Fresh Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar was perfectly simple and delicious; the Swiss Chard Tacos with Fresh Cheese and a Fried Egg were a major revelation; and the Stuffed Winter Squash inspired my own mash up version which is now my best/favorite autumn recipe EVER!

“Homemade food is the opposite of perfection…Cooking at home is my window into what I want to create in life as a whole. I want to make it better, unique, delicious, stamped with my own love and work. It’s going to be imperfect, and I’m good with that.” – Alana Chernila, The Homemade Kitchen

The mindfulness that Chernila brings to cooking and making things homemade also extends to the act of eating, and the many ways we sabotage ourselves: When I “eat with the thought of some differently shaped me, the food tastes different than it does when I rest in the deliciousness of the meal, when my focus is on enjoying my food. In fact, I don’t taste it at all. Instead, I feel afraid of my food.”

“I think enjoyment might just be a nutrient in itself – in fact, it might be the most important one of all.” – Alana Chernila, The Homemade Kitchen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Homemade Kitchen also includes tips and tricks like the “Ten Bits & Scraps Worth Saving” which has great ideas for how to use things like citrus peels.

Her other book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making is pretty cool too, if you’re so inclined.

This book was provided tBlogging_for_Books_Lockup_2o us free to review by Blogging for Books, a service of The Crown Publishing Group. Opinions are entirely my own.

January 25, 2016
by Lacy
3 Comments

Zen and the Art of Conscious Consumption

satsumasI’m in the process of trying to learn to be more mindful: about my eating, but also about my consumption in general.

And in the process, I’m redefining what it means, for me, to be a foodie.

I used to think being a foodie meant eating anything and everything. Trying everything. Going to every restaurant. Tasting every dish, every cocktail, every ingredient. It meant cooking the “right” recipes, eating at the right places, drinking the right locally distilled alcohol.

It was all about more.

My job as a restaurant critic encouraged this. Being the only person on the food “beat” for my magazine, I felt like I had to know everything, be everywhere. The restaurant scene in Boulder is so vibrant, I could barely keep up with the new restaurants, let alone visit all the old standards that longtime residents already knew. And forget Denver. It was all I could do to keep on top of what was happening in one town, let alone the entire metro area.

I continued feeling that pressure when I started this blog. I felt like I needed to be everywhere, know everything. I was the “expert” after all, the author.

It was exhausting. And a bit demoralizing for this perfectionist. I simply couldn’t know everything and be everywhere, so somehow that meant I had failed.

But as I work towards being more mindful with every bite, I’m coming to redefine my relationship to food and food culture. Perhaps I don’t want to be a foodie, with all the urgency and feigned mastery that implies.

Maybe I want to be a gourmand.

Slower. More elegant. It’s about savoring one thing rather than trying everything. It’s about taking deep, slow pleasure in a single bite of food, rather than worrying that this bite might not be as good as the one you did not order or cook.

I’m reading a new book called The Joy of Half a Cookie, and in it, the author talks about nurturing your inner gourmand as a path to mindfulness — and eventually better health.

And I love it.

I love the revelations I’m finding.

One blueberry tastes just as incredible as an entire mouthful. Maybe more so.

I can feel full after one delicious slice of pizza, and not crave more.

A few bites of cheesecake may be all I need to satisfy me, rather than downing the whole slice.

It’s not automatic yet. It’s not even at every meal yet. But I’m savoring these moments of clarity and success the way I might savor a perfect bite.

~*~

Shopping used to be a hobby for me. I’d go to the store and buy a shirt, a pair of pants, a dress, a pair of shoes. Even if I didn’t need them.

Now I’m trying to be more intentional about my purchases, my wardrobe. Fewer clothes, but better. I’m a little put out nowadays when a t-shirt only lasts one season. Or when I forget myself, buy something on a whim (or on sale) and realize after a few wearings that it doesn’t really bring me joy.

I’m finding the same is true of grocery shopping.

A full fridge used to make me feel rich.

Fill those shelves with beautiful ingredients — rich cream and cheese, beautiful jewel-toned vegetables, baskets of succulent berries, farm-fresh eggs. That, to me, was true riches.

Now I find I’m savoring the spaces in between. The shelves that aren’t crowded with boxes and jars. Actually being able to see what’s in there.

And I’m savoring the seasons. Rather than feeling dissatisfied with a strawberry in February, I’m embracing what comes naturally.

Right now it’s citrus.  From early season satsumas and mandarins (don’t offer me a “Cutie” in March), through to the gorgeous Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges, all the way to the juicy Rio red grapefruits I avidly await from Texas and the Meyer lemons with their incomparable smell.

I bought a pound or two of satsumas at Whole Foods this week with their leaves still attached, and I’ve been savoring every one. Their season only lasts a few weeks, and their flavor is possibly my favorite.  I eat them morning noon and night.

But in another week or two, they will be gone. And that’s ok. They might lose their preciousness if I could buy them in a big five-pound blue box any week of the year.

One final lesson I’m teaching myself, day after day: I don’t have to try to cling to any one thing, when the next amazing thing to savor is right around the corner.

Promotional consideration provided by Whole Foods Markets.

Peppermint Cupcakes with Natural Flavors on LaughingLemonPie.com

January 16, 2016
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Nature’s Flavors & Peppermint Cupcakes Recipe

Over the holidays we had the opportunity to try 6 different organic flavor concentrates made by Nature’s Flavors: Vanilla, Pumpkin Spice, Cranberry, Gingerbread, Peppermint, and Eggnog. These are organic and all natural ingredients used primarily to recreate or amplify flavors in baking, ice cream, anNature's Flavors on LaughingLemonPie.comd/or coffee drinks.

Nature’s Flavors has 335 different organic flavor concentrates to choose from, as well as flavor powders and powdered and liquid all natural food colorings. Their flavor concentrates make it so easy to make the holidays taste special, naturally. How simple and delicious would it be to add liquid peppermint flavor to hot chocolate, a coffee drink, or even cheesecake? You could make your home baked goods say “Happy Holidays!” by adding eggnog or pumpkin flavor to whipped cream, coffee cake, or even pancake batter!

I’ve been using the Vanilla in all my baked goods for the past few months, and featured it especially when my daughter and I made and decorated Coconut Oil Sugar Cookies. I added the Pumpkin Spice to a pie, but that wasn’t really it’s best use. I’d recommend it as an addition to your favorite Pumpkin Scone recipe, and/or it would be great to experiment with making your own Pumpkin Spice coffee drinks at home. Even just adding a teaspoon of concentrate to a plain cookie or cake recipe would be such a simple way to make it festive. I haven’t gotten a chance yet to try the Cranberry flavor extract – but I’ve been thinking it would be the ideal way to amp up the flavor in something like a Cranberry Sweet Potato Quick Bread.

In December I made many attempts at Gingerbread Scones. I’m still looking for the “perfect” recipe – but a dash of Gingerbread Flavor Concentrate really helped enunciate that flavor in the recipes I tried. Eggnog Scones have also been popular around here this holiday season – and the Eggnog Flavor Concentrate was just the thing to drive that home. My recipe is very similar to this Cream Scone recipe, but I use eggnog in place of the cream and top with cinnamon sugar (YUM!!).

When my daughter smelled the Peppermint Flavor Concentrate she was smitten. Candy Canes are one of her favorite things and a rare treat for her each December. She smelled it and said – We should make a peppermint cake. Well, who can argue with that? Since peppermint + chocolate is one of my favorite December combinations I made sure that a chocolate peppermint ganache was part of the plan, and then we decided on cupcakes because…CUPCAKES!

So, for your holidayPeppermint Cupcakes with Natural Flavors on LaughingLemonPie.com baking pleasure, here’s our recipe for Peppermint Cupcakes with Chocolate Peppermint Ganache featuring Nature’s Flavors Organic Peppermint Concentrate.

Peppermint Cupcakes featuring Nature's Flavors

Ingredients

  • For the Peppermint Cupcakes:
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 cup Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 2/3 cup Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Peppermint Flavor
  • For the Chocolate Peppermint Ganache:
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp - 1 Tbls milk
  • 2-3 drops peppermint flavor concentrate
  • crushed candycanes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Whisk to combine your dry ingredients in one small bowl (flour, baking powder, and salt).
  3. Measure the milk into a cup and add the peppermint flavor.
  4. In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light. Add the egg, and sour cream.
  5. With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry flour and wet milk to the bowl of butter et al.
  6. Once combined, pour the batter into buttered or sprayed muffin tins - DO NOT OVERFILL! These rise quite a bit.
  7. Bake 13-15 minutes.
  8. Cool and let rest in pan for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to finish cooling.
  9. Once the cupcakes are cool, microwave the chocolate chips in a bowl for 10 second intervals, stirring between each. You are looking for the chocolate chips to melt together, but not be overcooked. Stir gently and be patient - the heat in the bowl and the other melted chips will encourage them all to melt.
  10. Add a splash of milk and a few drops of peppermint flavor and stir some more. The addition of cold milk may make your chocolate seize. It's OK! Stir it gently, again coaxing the heat from the bowl back into the chocolate. If that doesn't work, give it another few seconds in the microwave and stir it gently back to glossy.
  11. You can try dipping the cupcakes top-first into the ganache or use a spoon to spread some on each one. Top with crushed candy canes (this can be accomplished via food processor or good old aggression - you pick! A rolling pin will do the job, but may be overkill. A 1 cup dry measuring cup did the trick pretty well and makes it a lot easier for small helpers to assist).
http://laughinglemonpie.com/natures-flavors-peppermint-cupcakes-recipe/

Book Cookin' on LaughingLemonPie.com

November 23, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Book Cookin': Fall 2015 Cookbooks

Well the poor library is wiped out again. If you don’t see any cookbooks on the shelves there, it’s because they’re all at my house – sorry!Book Cookin' on LaughingLemonPie.com

There are library users, and then there are library abusers – Sometimes I can tread the middle line there, but when it comes to new fall cookbooks I take full advantage of my local public library’s wealth and generosity.

One thing I like in particular about using the library is the chance to “try before you buy.” If/when I find a cookbook with sooooo many recipes I want to make, too many pages to photocopy – that’s a pretty good indicator that it would make a worthwhile purchase.

The other bonus of the library is the holds system – it’s so easy to fill up my cart on the library’s website and boom! all these books are waiting on a shelf with my name. It’s just up to me to have a bag big enough (and strong enough) to bring them all home. If you don’t already know about placing books on hold – call your local librarian TODAY! It’ll change your life.

Now, not all of these are new…that’s the other neat thing about the library, they stock a range of years not just all the latest and supposed-to-be greatest like in a bookstore. You’ll find other books you might like on the shelf next to the ones you came in for.

OK – enough former-librarian library love-fest. What have I been cooking out of lately? And what’s got me excited about a fall and winter of deliciousness?:

Michael Symon’s 5 in 5: 5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes = 120 Fantastic Dinners and Michael Symon’s 5 in 5 for Every Season: 165 Quick Dinners, Sides, Holiday Dishes, and More

These two books are pretty neat, filled with very simple ideas for practical, healthy, home-cooked weeknight dinners (without any gimmicks or shortcuts). If you’re inclined to overthinking (something I tend toward), such back-to-basics ideas are so liberating on the dinner front. Some examples: Fried Eggs with Tomatillo Cilantro Sauce, Orecchiette with Brussels Sprouts & Bacon, Lazy Meatball Kebabs with Yogurt, Chicken with Spicy Yogurt & Cilantro. We made the Breaded Chicken & Mozzarella with Basil last night. Symon has a lot of husband-friendly dinner ideas, just sayin’.

Jamie Oliver‘s Food Escapes: Over 100 Recipes from the Great Food Regions of the World

Oh that Jamie! While trying to wait for Jamie Oliver’s newest cookbook (Everyday Super Food), I distracted myself by going through this inspiring 2010/2011 contribution to the Oliver empire. I was moved to make the Sexy Swedish Buns – though I made mine slightly less messy and added white chocolate chips.

The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking

Emphasis here on the spice part of the title – the book is divided into sections by spice, each chapter containing recipes that highlight a certain spice. The usual suspects like cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla appear of course. But also pepper, chile, cardamom, ginger, anise, fennel, and saffron centered recipes. It reminded me a lot of the inventive flavor combinations those darling Great British Baking Show bakers dream up each week. I made the Saffron Currant Braid. It came out nicely but lacked loft, by some fault of my proofing or altitude (not a fault of the recipe). I’m sure GBBO’s Paul Hollywood would be able to tell me exactly where I went awry. Aye, bread. I live to bake another day.

The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest

If and when you need an infusion of Berkeley without actually hopping a plane to California, this book contains all those same feelings without the airfare or the full body scanner. Mollie Katzen is a vegetarian genius and author of the epic Moosewood cookbook (possibly “the most popular vegetarian cookbook in the world”). From this book I made the Chile & Cheese Cornbread (but modified it to fit what I had on hand, and in so doing created my favorite/best cornmeal recipe yet). I’m planning to make the Oatmeal Maple Bread soon (we’ve got a backlog of baked goods to eat through before I’m allowed to make anything new, sigh), and the Russian Carrot Pie with Nut Crust when our babushka comes to visit.

Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans

I found this book totally approachable, incredibly useful for paleos but interesting and informative for non-paleos as well. I’ve always kind of wondered what actual paleo-dieters eat on a daily basis and this book breaks it down. Better yet, it doesn’t focus on the single person – it’s truly a cookbook for feeding a family of paleo-eaters, which is pretty special. I’m excited to try the Chopped Liver & Bacon recipe (yes, liver!).

The Best Mexican Recipes: Kitchen-Tested Recipes Put the Real Flavors of Mexico Within Reach

You really can count on the America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated people. They have a whole series of these compendium cookbooks – offering in depth and comprehensive coverage of Mexican recipes, Slow Cooker recipes, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, the list goes on and on. The Best Mexican Recipes includes a great chart profiling all the different chiles. I made the Cheesy Stuffed Poblanos last week, and am looking forward to making the Spicy Pinto Bean Soup, Shrimp a la Diabla, Enfrijoladas, and the Ancho-Orange Pork.

Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel

A rather gorgeous volume, I made Swanson’s vegetarian Pozole Verde with my tomatillo harvest and later the Saag Paneer to go with rice and Trader Joe’s Mini Chicken Tikka Samosas. I substituted firm tofu for paneer – I love the convenience, texture, and consistency of the tofu much more than I love homemade paneer. That Saag was good – such an easy way to eat a pound of spinach! I’m looking forward to making the Carrots & Beans recipe (sounds too simple, doesn’t it? But probably another example of simple = delicious).

Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less

Here’s an example of a “try before you buy” book that I now own. Basically I want to and could cook every single recipe out of this book. It is one of the handiest and simplest cookbooks I’ve ever run across. Just plain full of great and easy to implement ideas. They’re written in neat little paragraphs – a lot like how I cook. A few of our favorites so far include Fennel-Orange Braised Pork and Maple-Ginger Glazed Chicken with Pecans (great with sides of wild rice and sweet potatoes).

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life

A rather overly dramatic title, sheesh! These aren’t recipes that will reverse terminal illness, or cure suicidal tendencies (though I’ve never had my magazine pulled out from under me, so I guess I shouldn’t judge how suicidal or dramatic that might make a person). I’m super excited about the High-Heat Turkey recipe – 16lb turkey bakes for just 2 hours at 450°? That’s worth a try. Also on my to-bake list: Gingered Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze, Reichl’s Tart Lemon Tart (or maybe just use it’s nut-based crust recipe), and New York Corn Muffins. We made the Pork and Tomatillo Stew from this book – it tasted excellent, but photographed not-so-great. Also not pictured is the Sriracha Shrimp over Coconut Rice which we devoured last night and is going into immediate rotation.

Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week

Yes, this book has dinner recipes, but I was drawn (not surprisingly) to the baking section. We’ve made the Lemon-BlIMG_3582ueberry Loaf (now one of my top 2 go-to BB bread recipes) and the kids helped us make Rosemary Chocolate-Chip Cookies (minus the rosemary, plus a few M&Ms). They’re a very soft cookie, but easy and fun to make. [Side note – steer clear of the VERY disappointing Marbled Banana Bread – there’s a very good reason most recipes call for a minimum of 1/4 cup of oil. Any less is just gross.] I’m planning to make the Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies to take up to the mountains with us next week, and the Lemon-Lemon Cookies to cut through the pumpkin overload this season brings.

Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less Fresh Fast & Flavorful Home Cooked Meals with More Than 200 Recipes

I’m a big fan of Good Cheap Eats and Jessica Fisher, you may recall my glowing review of her Good Cheap Eats cookbook. This new volume is as reliable as the last – full of easy weeknight recipes that look a lot like how and what I cook on a weekly basis. Plenty of Mexican-at-home recipes if you need direction in that department. I’m hunting down a half can of pumpkin to make her Pumpkin Biscuits, and looking forward to a Greek Beef Wraps with Tzatziki dinner, and a Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes breakfast here soon.

Well! What’s your newest and favoritest book to cook out of? Or an old reliable? Jot it in the comments below, please. You know I’ll check it out – literally! 😉

7 Ideas for Chard on LaughingLemonPie.com

November 16, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
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7 Ideas for Chard

This list just keeps getting longer and longer. It started out with just 4 chard recipes I was in the process of trying, but I’ve found that chard is one of those things where once it’s on your radar you start 7 Ideas for Chard on LaughingLemonPie.comto see recipes for it everywhere!

(I have an inverse and very frustrating relationship with buttermilk – when I don’t have any it seems like every other recipe I come across wants the stuff. Then the very minute I buy buttermilk, all those recipes magically evaporate. ARG.)

My neighbor’s garden has been overflowing with chard – quite a green thumb over there! Since our front lawns are connected, I often just keep going and mow/rake/tend her yard as well as mine – and so have been given a free pass to the garden and all its goodies!

So we’re in full-on chard mode over here! Here are 7 I’ve tried and recommend:Stuffed Winter Squash from The Homemade Kitchen on LaughingLemonPie.com

Sausage and Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash (aka the best autumn recipe EVER!)

Rainbow Chard with Pinenuts, Parmesan, and Basil

Lacy’s foraged Dock au Gratin can be made with chard instead.

The HomemadeSwiss Chard Tacos with Fresh Cheese and a Fried Egg from The Homemade Kitchen on LaughingLemonPie.com Kitchen’s Swiss Chard Tacos with Fresh Cheese and a Fried Egg

Bon Appetit’s Nov 2015 Tomato and Cannellini Bean Soup features a bunch of chard – this was really tasty, husband commented more than once on how good it was. I simplified the BA recipe by using pantry staples – canned beans, a 14.5 oz can of tomatoes, and no fennel. 7 Ideas for Chard on LaughingLemonPie.com

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos with Swiss Chard Pesto this makes an excellent and novel Mexican flavored pesto. The leftover ‘pesto’ is good as a dip.

Swiss Chard Pesto over pasta.

What’s YOUR favorite way with chard? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Stuffed Winter Squash from The Homemade Kitchen on LaughingLemonPie.com

November 9, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
2 Comments

Sausage and Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash (aka Best Autumn Recipe Ever!)

When I read the Stuffed Winter Squash recipe in The Homemade Kitchen I immediately flagged it. I knew I had sausage in the freezer, acorn squash in the pantry, and access to my neighbor’s garden overflowing with chard. Bingo!

In the original recipe, Alana Chernila adds millet or quinoa, and uses cheddar cheese. She also makes her own apple sausage by adding leeks and apples to the browning sausage. But many markets (like Sprouts and Whole Foods) have done the apple and leek part for you and sell some version of apple sausage like the kind I had frozen and stashed away. Baked squash reminded me of my favorite winter side dish: Martha’s Creamy Baked Acorn Squash – such a simple recipe, but SO delicious and special.

So I shortcut-ted Chernila’s recipe and mashed it up with Martha’s to create our own LLP Sausage and Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash. You could use other types of sausage, and other types of greens. You could add a grain, or substitute grains for meat to make it vegetarian. AND if you omit the dairy, it could be a fantastically paleo dinner option as well!

OK – no more dragging it out! Here’s my new Best Autumn Recipe EVER:

Stuffed Winter Squash from The Homemade Kitchen on LaughingLemonPie.com

Sausage and Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serving Size: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1-2 Acorn Squash, halved, seeds removed*
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 links of Apple and Leek type Pork or Chicken Sausage
  • 2 cloves Garlic, smashed, sliced, or chopped
  • 2 big handfuls of Chard, cut into ribbons
  • 2-4 T Cream
  • 4 T grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. *Cut the squash in half more or less, depending on your appetite. 2 people could share 1 squash, or you could remove just 1/3 of the squash so that each person gets a more generous portion (I peeled and blitzed the leftover thirds in my food processor to use in place of carrots in a carrot quick bread, or Bon Appetit has a really great Ginger-Squash Cake you could use the remaining squash in).
  3. Rub the squash halves with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  4. Place them cut-side down in a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until tender.
  6. Meanwhile, remove sausage from its casing and brown in a large pan. Add the garlic as well.
  7. After about 5 minutes, pile your chard ribbons on top of the sausage to start steaming.
  8. Once the chard is wilted, stir it into the sausage. You might want to add a few tablespoons of water to get any tasty brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  9. Turn off the heat and set this mixture aside until the squash are cooked (Alternately, you could cook the sausage and chard during the last 10 minutes of the squash's bake-time).
  10. Once squash are tender, remove from oven.
  11. Turn oven temp up to 425°.
  12. Flip squash over, pour 1-2 teaspoons of cream in the bottom of the well then stuff tightly with the sausage chard mixture.
  13. Pour the remaining 1+ tablespoon of cream carefully and slowly over the sausage/chard so that it fills the crevasses.
  14. Top with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.
  15. Bake for 10 minutes more.
http://laughinglemonpie.com/sausage-and-chard-stuffed-acorn-squash-aka-best-autumn-recipe-ever/

Confetti Cornbread on LaughingLemonPie.com

November 2, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Confetti Cornbread

Cornbread is my jam. If I had to pick 5 foods and only eat those 5 foods for the rest of my life, cornbread makes the list for sure.Confetti Cornbread on LaughingLemonPie.com

So I collect cornbread recipes, seeking the ideal version. And when I see a new cornbread recipe I feel compelled to try it out. Lucky for me, it’s been cold and rainy – perfect weather for chili which is the perfect excuse to maConfetti Cornbread on LaughingLemonPie.comke cornbread.

I’ve had a note on my to-bake ideas board for a while now that says “Zucchini Cornbread.” I mean, why not, right? When I ran across the Green Chile & Cheese Cornbread recipe in The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest it seemed like the opportunity to try that idea out. The Broccoli Forest may seem like unlikely place to find an excellent cornbread recipe – but I’ll tell you, those vegetarians know their stuff! I altered the recipe based on what I had on hand (sour cream, not yogurt; jalapenos, not poblanos) and added zucchini as well as per my note.

I love the high ratio of cornmeal to flour in this recipe, and the density of the sour cream moistens the whole thing to a level of utter delectability. The jalapenos add a great punch, and the cheese helps temper them. Overall a great balance and texture in this one, and that’s how a new favorite cornbread recipe is born!

I did run into a spot of bother trying to think what to name this cornbread…Zucchini, Jalapeno, Cheese, Sour Cream, & Honey Cornbread does not exactly roll off the tongue. Confetti is about what it looks like though with the red and green jalapenos, plus the zucchini bits in there too. If our chili didn’t already have a ton of corn in it, I would have added frozen corn kernels to the batter as well.

See what you think – add whatever chiles you have on hand, and help me think of new veg to add to cornbread!

Confetti Cornbread on LaughingLemonPie.com

Confetti Cornbread

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T oil
  • 2 small zucchini, cut to fit into a food processor
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers (or other peppers)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together to combine (cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt).
  3. Use a food processor to make confetti out of the zucchini and peppers. Add zucchini, peppers, corn kernels, and cheese to bowl with dry ingredients. Stir to mix.
  4. In a separate bowl or measuring cup combine the wet ingredients thoroughly (sour cream, milk, honey, oil, egg).
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry.
  6. Pour into a greased 8x8" pan.
  7. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes.
http://laughinglemonpie.com/confetti-cornbread/

candy corn

October 26, 2015
by Lacy
2 Comments

How Do You Handle Halloween?

Emily and I take our daughters to the same music class on Thursday afternoons, and a couple of weeks ago, the teacher was encouraging the kids to find all the C notes on the piano keyboard. She passed out five M&Ms to each kid and told them to put a candy on each C key.

And, of course, they got to eat them afterward.

This was in addition to the graham cracker snack they got for singing their “doggy one chord” and the gumballs they got at the end of the class for good behavior.

For an adult, maybe that’s not a big deal. But for a little kid — and the mom who is working hard to not make sugar a bad habit — it’s a lot all at once!

Of course, we’re headed into the candy holiday season. It starts with Halloween, continues into Christmas and Hannukah, right on to Valentine’s day, and then Easter before we get a bit of a summer reprieve.

So how do you handle Halloween — and all the other sugar-heavy holidays that follow — without driving yourself crazy or giving up your values?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some thoughts.

I struggle with doling out candy, sweets, and dessert at my house, because they are a problem for me. I LOVE dessert! And I indulge in something, whether it’s a piece of quality dark chocolate or something less virtuous, almost every night.

And while I do want my daughter to understand the particular joy of a hot-from-the-oven homemade cookie, a special birthday treat, or the indulgence of a killer dessert at a fine restaurant, I DON’T want her to be ruled by sweets the way I often have found myself.

So I try to practice good habits around sweets the rest of the year, and let Halloween be what it is: a crazy, gorge-yourself candy fest.

I got this idea from the brilliant Dr. Dina Rose, and her blog (and book), It’s Not About Nutrition. She is heavily focused on teaching good habits, and letting the exceptions take care of themselves.

Here are some of her best suggestions:

  1. What you do all the time is more important than what you do on one day. So, if you already have a good game plan for how to handle sweets, don’t stress too much about those occasions when kids are almost certain to go overboard.
  2. Don’t give candy the power. I learned from Dr. Rose that trying to control and limit candy too much gives candy the power in a lot of ways: it makes kids want what they can’t have, prefer it over healthy foods (even ones they like), seek it out, feel guilty about wanting it, and learn that they only get to eat it when they’re already full. None of which is very healthy.
  3. Letting kids control their own candy teaches good habits. This is a hard one for me, especially when my daughter wants a mini Snickers bar for breakfast, but the payoffs as Dr. Rose describes them are worth it.

There are a few more tricks I’m trying this treat season as well:

  1. Limit the load. We don’t live in a very heavily trafficked neighborhood on Halloween, and for the past few years, we’ve had a lot of candy left over after all the little ghouls and goblins have gone to bed. My husband and I used to debate: do we buy the good stuff we like to eat (since we’re going to have left overs) or the stuff we don’t like to eat and toss it? But this year I came up with a third option: don’t buy candy. It sounds like a recipe for getting your house egged, but if you get cool goodies and toys, they don’t have to be edible. This year, I’m handing out glow sticks instead of candy.
  2. Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:sg:jdt3q14s0891bkczs3_hnff95y5q8f:T:TemporaryItems:natural-candy-corn-350.jpgBuy better. If you are going to buy candy, make it better candy that’s less junky. Whole Foods Market has a selection of candies made with better ingredients, like dye-free candy corn, organic dark chocolate mini peanut butter cups from Justin’s, and gummies from Annie’s, all of which kids will love — and you’ll feel less guilty about.

3. Change the game plan. If you find yourself in charge of a Halloween party at home or at school, try changing up the focus away from food and sweets entirely! Decorate pumpkins, do relay races, paint faces, tell scary stories, even go bobbing for apples. It doesn’t have to be ALL about how much candy they can get.

Do you worry about how to handle Halloween (or is it just me???)? What are your strategies for keeping sane during the candy days? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.