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Book Cookin' on

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

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

November 16, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

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

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 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

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

November 9, 2015
by Emily Klopstein

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

Sausage and Chard Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serving Size: 2-4


  • 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


  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.

Confetti Cornbread on

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

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

Confetti Cornbread


  • 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


  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.

candy corn

October 26, 2015
by Lacy

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.





Makin' it Meatless, Transitioning to a Meat-Lite Diet on

October 19, 2015
by Lacy

Makin’ it Meatless: How to Transition to a Meat-Lite Diet

Happy Food Day!

Food Day inspires Americans to change our diets and our food policies. Every October 24, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies.

And I’m thrilled to be a part of the Food Day Blogger Takeover — an effort by 15 real-food food bloggers to help YOU adopt a real food diet.

For my contribution, we’re going to talk about how to transition to a meat-lite diet — even if you are a meat and potatoes type of family!

Why go meatless?

Going meatless even once a week has a host of benefits, both for your personal health and the health of the planet!

Even eating vegetarian once a week can:

  • reduce your risk of getting cancerMakin' it Meatless, Transitioning to a Meat-Lite Diet on
  • reduce your risk of heart disease by almost 20 percent
  • reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes
  • lower your body weight and body mass index
  • and help you live longer overall!

As if that weren’t enough good reasons, meat has a huge impact on our environment, so eating less has a positive impact on the health of the Earth.

  • According to the United Nations, the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change — way more than cars or even airplanes!
  • Meat requires huge water resources, far more than vegetables or vegetable protein. It takes 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef!
  • A lot of fossil fuels go into producing meat as well. On average, it takes 40 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of feed-lot beef, while it takes only 2.2 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.

ratatouille_crostiniGoing meat-light can also be good for your budget. The website Learn Vest found that for an average day, vegetarians saved more than $2 on the cost of food over meat eaters, while vegans saved even more — almost $3.50. That may not sound like a lot, but if you have a family of four, and you save $2 per person every week of the year, that adds up to more than $400 in savings over the course of a year.

Of course it’s possible to eat cheaply if you eat meat, or eat expensively as a vegetarian, but going meat-free once a week certainly has the potential to save you money!

And we’re not even asking you to go entirely vegetarian. Even cutting out meat for one day a week, you’ll make a positive impact on your own health and the health of the planet.

How to make the switch — painlessly!grilled_Brussles_sprouts

Adopting Meatless Mondays (or any day of the week you choose!) can be super simple, even if you are a meat-and-potatoes household.  Start with these tips and make small changes, and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your meat-light diet without even thinking about it.

  1. Make a plan. It’s like that old saying: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Don’t expect that meat-free meals will magically appear in your kitchen. Get your meal planning on and plan your week around at least one meat-free day per week.
  2. Start with vegetarian meals you already like. When you’re just getting started, pick meals your family already likes. How about pancakes for dinner? Brainstorm a list of meatless meals your family already likes and work those into the rotation. Familiar favorites will ease any transitional pain.
  3. Which meals can you make meat-free? In addition to favorites that are already vegetarian, there are probably some meals you eat that can easily transition to meat-free. For example, if you usually make spaghetti with meat sauce, why not try it with just red sauce? Already doing taco Tuesdays? Try making them with tasty refried beans. Family a fan of stir-fry? Try it with baked tofu from the refrigerated case at your market.  And speaking of tofu…
  4. Don’t try to replace your meat, at least not right away. There’s no need to replace your meat with meatless soy or other meat replacement products. No matter how much they try, soy crumbles don’t really taste like ground beef, and your family will notice the difference! Instead, look for meal ideas that don’t include tofu or other meat replacements. If you’re worried about protein, go for beans, nuts, cheese, or eggs instead.
  5. Switch to “happy” meat. Wait, what? What does buying grass-fed, free-range, responsibly raised meat have to do with going meat-free? I’ll tell you what: it’s expensive!  When I made the commitment that my family was going to only buy higher quality meat, I realized right away that we were going to have to eat less of it to offset our budget. This is a GOOD thing, because it’s a strong reason to get your meatless Mondays going. The budget is a powerful motivator. 😉Service Review: Hello Fresh Delivery on

And a bonus idea: Start making meat-light meals. Healthy diets like the Mediterranean diet and the Okinawan diet regard meat, especially red meat, as a condiment rather than the main course. Once I started focusing on using less meat, I found lots of ways to reduce the quantity we were eating at any given meal. For example, my mom used to make her famous chili with two pounds of ground beef. Now I make the same amount with half a pound of meat, and add extra beans to make up the difference. It still tastes great!

A Meatless Monday Game Plan:

  • Start with breakfast.  Most of us have at least a few breakfast favorites that are already meat-free, so this should be the easiest meal of the day. Enjoy cereal, yogurt, toast, pancakes — whatever you choose! Just hold the bacon and sausage.
  • Brown-bag it. Lunch is another easy meat-free meal. Peanut butter (or other nut butter) sandwiches are a perennial favorite for kids. Grown ups can enjoy a salad, a veggie wrap with hummus, or a cup of veggie or bean soup.
  • Delicious dinners. Use the tips above and plan to fix a family favorite meat-free. Try a veggie pizza, mac and cheese with broccoli or peas, vegetable soup with crusty bread, bean burritos, veggie fried rice, or another crowratatouille_ingredientsd-pleaser. When your family already likes the meat-free meal, it’s easier to get buy-in from the beginning.

Looking for more? Here’s an entire week of meat-light meals to get you started.

This is just the beginning of the Food Day Blogger Takeover. Be sure to follow these other amazing food bloggers and look for their contributions in the following days and weeks!

Alli from Don’t Panic Mom
Amanda from Produce for Kids
April from Gluten is My Bitch
Donna from The Hanging Spoon
Emily from Colorado Moms
Gina from The Multitasking Missus
Jessica from The Balanced Kitchen
Jill from Just the Right Byte
Jory from Teeny Tiny Foodie
Kristen from Fueling a Fit Fam
Maaike from the Official Food Day Blog
Maybelline from Naturalmente Mama
Sally from Real Mom Nutrition
Susan from Real Kids Eat Spinach

And don’t forget to follow Food Day on Twitter and Facebook.
Happy Food Day!

Photo Credit: via Compfight cc

2015 Holiday Foodie Challenge

October 5, 2015
by Lacy

2015 Holiday Foodie Challenge

Merry Christmas October!

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but as of today, you have about 12 weeks until Christmas.

Some of you are probably thinking, “12 weeks? That’s OODLES of time. Why would that alarm anyone?”

While others of you are saying “OMG 12 WEEKS WTHECK! WHERE’S MY WRAPPING PAPER?!?!”

It’s a personality thing.

If you love to MAKE gifts, now is the time to start, so I thought I’d put together a little Holiday Foodie Challenge!

2015 Holiday Foodie Challenge

Here’s how it works:

  1. Hop on over to our Facebook page — be sure to like it if you haven’t already! — and comment “I’m In!” on this post.
  2. Check out our blog post this week for some ideas and start planning out what kinds of gifts you’re going to make and what supplies you need to stock up on.
  3. We’ll have some fun recipes over the next 12 weeks for inspiration.
  4. Post pictures of your gifts and hard work to our Facebook page to inspire others or tag us on our NEW Instagram account @laughinglemonpie and use the hashtag #2015holidayfoodiechallenge.

Some suggestions:

Having done this challenge for myself before, here are a few suggestions for how to make it work best:

  1. Do some pre-planning.  It pays to figure out what you want to make and who you want to make it for right up front.
  2. Make two grocery lists: food and non-food supplies.  That way you only have to make ONE trip to the craft store or container store for bottles and jars!
  3. Make your plan based on how long things take to make — and how long they keep.  If you look at my original Christmas Foodie series, I made the infused vodka first, because it takes a long time to infuse. It also keeps well.  But I made my apricot nut bread last, because it doesn’t keep as well.

To assist with your pre-planning, some amazing ideas and recipes for you to try!

And my previous Christmas Foodie Series:

No. 1: Pepper-Infused Vodka
No. 2: Jam
No. 3: Pie in a Jar
No. 4: Sugar and Spice
No. 5: Hot Chocolate on a Stick
No. 6: Gingies
No. 7: Granola
No. 8: Preserved Lemons
No. 9: Gingerbread Biscotti
No. 10: Cracker Crack
No. 11: Satsumettes
No. 12: Apricot Nut Bread

YOU IN?  Comment here or on our Facebook Page to let us know!  And happy planning!

Better Butter Tasting 2015,

September 28, 2015
by Emily Klopstein

Baking with Better Butter

Better Butter Tasting 2015, Have you ever stood in front of the dairy case at the grocery store wondering about those “other” butters – the ones in the gold wrappers, the ones that come in a package half the size but double the price of the butter you’re used to? I know I have!

I’ve long wondered what it’s like in there, what $10/pound butter tastes like, and if the butter churned from the milk of these idealized cows grazing on only the finest and greenest grasses of Ireland was really any better than the run-of-the-mill store brand butter I’ve always bought.

So one day when I found myself feeling that old curiosity standing in front of the butters at our local Whole Foods, I took the plunge and bought 4 different butters (3 of them in those fancy gold packages!). In the past I’ve been held back by my relative foodie-solititude – but among the many perks of writing for a food blog is having a community of people who say YES! when you ask if they’d like to come over and try some butter. It might have helped that I mentioned the words “scones,” “mimosas,” and “shortbread” as well – the overall effect was rather undeniable and hence the 2015 Laughing Lemon Pie Better Butter Tasting was born.

With the 4 butters I boBetter Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comught at Whole Foods plus my usual Safeway store brand on hand, we tested 5 kinds of butters ranging from $2.50 per pound to $10 per pound. I couldn’t bring myself to buy the most expensive butter on offer – it was $8 for 8oz. That’s $16/lb butter! Wow. But even when I’m trying to be extravagant I’m a cheap-o, and I just couldn’t do it. We figured it was either infused with gold, or perhaps made from the cream of unicorns hand milked by virgins. Some things are better left to the imagination, and $16/lb butter might fall into that category.

We tried 5 butters in 3 ways – baked into scones, baked into shortbread, and plain on toast. That’s 15 tastes – wow! It was a blind tasting, meaning that the tasters didn’t know which butter or which price-point they were tasting. I lettered all the butter in no particular order to preserve their anonymity and not influence the tasters:

A = Whole Foods 365 house-brand (16oz) $3.99 = $.25 per ounce, $4 per poundBetter Butter Tasting 2015,

B = Organic Valley European-Style Cultured Butter (8oz) $3.99 = $.50 per ounce, $8 per pound

C = PLUGRA European Style (8oz) $4.99 = $.62 per ounce, or $10 per pound– this was the priciest butter we tasted. However, I saw it just yesterday on sale at Safeway for $3.79 = $.47/oz or $7.58 per pound, which would put it in league with the midrange cultured/European style butters

D = Lucerne (Safeway’s house dairy brand) (16oz) on sale for $2.50 = $.156 per ounce, $2.50 per pound

E = Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (8oz) $3.99 = $.50 per ounce, $8 per pound

For baking I thought thatBetter Butter Tasting 2015, shortbread and scones would be best for testing the butters’ taste. I chose the Scotch Shortbread recipe out of that good old standby, The Joy of Cooking (1997) (or the JOC as I call it). It’s a very simple recipe of working 1 cup creamed butter into 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt. Pressed into a pan, it gets baked at 325° for 35 minuteBetter Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.coms (more or less). I topped it with a nice layer of white sugar – cuz what goes better with butter, really? The simplicity and near-lack of any other ingredients in this recipe let the butter shine, as it were.

For Scones…that was a tough decision involving me thumbing through my vast collection of scone recipes, seeking a butter-based and simple one. Since I’ve moved onto cream scones, I haven’t been in the butter scone biz for a while and don’t have a particular go-to in that category. However, I found a 2013 recipe I’d clipped out of Bon Appetit for Adare Manor Scones – I had written “fave” in the margins, the ingredients were simple, and the directions uncomplicated so it won out. It’s a milk and butter scone – no eggs, no cream, no buttermilk or half & half. Just flour, sugBetter Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comar, salt, baking powder, butter and milk. I used the Cooks Illustrated method of cutting the chilled butter into the flour using the food processor. These were supposed to be cut out scones, but with the volume (40 scones) and the time crunch (wanting them to be freshly baked, but not wanting to wake up earlier than 6am) I just formed them into scored rounds topped with eggwash and turbinado sugar.

Better Butter Tasting 2015,

Tasters hard at work.

Better Butter Tasting 2015,

The spread.

So that was the process, what were the results already?

There was a tie for first place and…they were both store-brand! Our A & D, Whole Foods 356 ($4/lb) and Better Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comLucerne/Safeway ($2.50/lb), were the most universally liked butters. B & C, Organic Valley ($8/lb) and PLUGRA ($7.58-$10/lb), fell in the middle of the pack – not un-liked, but not standing out as special. And poor E, Kerrygold ($8/lb), was universally dis-liked.

I have to take some of the blame for Kerrygold’s failure – it is a salted butter. It doesn’t say so on the front of the package, but I know I read that on the ingredient list but then somehow didn’t factor it into my baking. I should have reduced or eliminated the salt in both recipes when baking with it. Tasters thought it came off salty, and that was my fault.

It did however have several other characteristics that were hard to get over – it was very yellow and had a chemically taste. Tasters were openly debating whether or not I might be trying to trick them by putting a margarine into the test, that’s how much and how oddly Kerrygold stood out! And that is the butter I most wanted to like – I’ve always coveted it in the store and imagined it to be the epitome of butters! Ha! It just goes to show you the power of good packaging. That cow and the idea of the green Irish meadow grasses have tugged at me for so long, but no longer!

Better Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comOne very deep thought came up as we tasted, and may further reflect on our reaction to Kerrygold – we wondered if we had a European on the tasting panel what their opinion would be. In other words – did we North Americans like the American store-brand butters best because that is what we’re all used to? What we’re conditioned to like? What we recognize as tasting “good?” There really wasn’t an answer to that, but it was interesting to consider our cultural biases and experience and how those impact our palates.

Overall it was amazing to me how little relative difference there was between the butters. Many stood out “in no way whatsoever” as one taster said. For the most part the butters were quite mild, tasters often reacted to differences in their saltiness but not many comments on how buttery any of the butters tasted.

Whole Foods 365 and Lucerne performed well in baked goods, but as for plain butter as a spread or condiment tasters agreed that A and B were tops – Whole Foods 365 and Organic Valley European Style Cultured.

The venerated baker/scientists at Cooks Illustrated did a butter tasting in 2011 and found similar results. Their tasters like PLUGRA best (as did one of ours), but regular butter (they used Land O’Lakes) was recommended overall due to the small difference in taste vs the big difference in price.

Better Butter Tasting 2015, LaughingLemonPie.comNow, some of you are wondering what exactly is “better?” Better is kind of a judge-y word, implying some kind of superiority. Obviously I chose it because “better” next to “butter” is kind of a headline no-brainer, and it gets the basic point across.

“Better” here was meant to signify butters other than the generic grocery store brand – those pricier ones that we often pass by. One could assume based on their price that those butters are superior in some way. However, our small tasting group decided that grocery store brands were actually the better tasting butters.

“Better” could signify a range of factors though, like environmental (grass-fed) and health (organic). Better butter could mean more expensive, but/and it could mean better for the environment and you – often and lately those two overlap. Unfortunately a lot of those factors are difficult for the consumer to determine in-store. That’s why it can be nice to shop at a place like Natural Grocers/Vitamin Cottage where they’ve fastidiously narrowed down the choices for you by only stocking pasture-raised dairy products.

I didn’t particularly seek out grass-fed or organic butters for this testing. I’m not looking for the “best” butter for me and the environment because frankly I don’t think that exists. Personally, I’m trying to cut dairy/beef products out of my diet altogether – organic, grass-fed, conventional, CAFO or otherwise – mostly for environmental reasons (water usage and carbon/methane emissions). There are some shocking numbers associated with gallons of water needed to make butter – it’s hard to pin down, but estimates range from 665 gallons of water per pound, to 2,044 gallons of water per pound, and up to 2,586 by my own math if you multiply the 122 gallons of water to make a pound of milk by the 21.2 pounds of milk required to make a pound of butter. *See Comments* Basically, if you weren’t already using butter judiciously for health and weight reasons, the environmental impact of the stuff should encourage a very limited use of this product.

So, overall no big butter switch over here as a result of this weekend’s tasting. It’s nice to know that the plain old wax paper wrapped store-brand butter I’ve always used pleases most palates. Lacy’s go-to butter is Costco’s organic butter, I wish I’d added that to the panel. Do YOU have a favorite butter? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

Breaking Up with Conventional Laundry on

September 21, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Breaking Up With Conventional Laundry

OK…this post is not about food. But life, health, and Laughing Lemon Pie isn’t just about food. Breaking Up with Conventional Laundry on

Just as we make choices in our purchases at the grocery store, there are so many other home purchases we make and could think critically about. I’ve been working to reduce waste around here and reduce plastic consumption too, so it was getting harder and harder to see that huge plastic jug of liquid laundry detergent on top of my washer or in my recycle bin.

You remember the 3 Rs, right? They’re listed in order of importance: Reduce, Reuse, (then, finally, lastly) Recycle. Some people throw in a 4th R to the start of that list: Refuse. I knew I wanted to get back up the Rs – stop recycling giant laundry juBreaking Up with Conventional Laundry on LaughingLemonPie.comgs and reduce my household plastic intake. And only in my dreams did I imagine getting all the way to that optimum first R of refusing laundry-room plastic altogether.

You can imagine then how primed I was by the time I saw this headline on TreehuggerDitch the Laundry Jugs and Go Plastic-Free – I ordered Dizolve Eco Strips directly after reading the article.

Just as Lacy and Amy Ramsey counseled me through Breaking Up with Conventional Food (by buying organic), I’m here to declare that I’m breaking up with conventional laundry!

It’s part of a larger shift to break up with STUFF in general. In The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discusses the materials economy. It’s a long video (by modern YouTube standards) but so fundamental and worthwhile.

All our stuff – where it comes from and where it goes when we’re done with it – is the materials economy. In the video, Leonard neatly and reasonably outlines the “linear system” we’re imposing on a “finite planet.” She notes that the US represents just 5% of the world’s population, but we are “using 30% of the world’s resources and creating 30% of the world’s waste.” Furthermore, “we aren’t [truly] paying for the stuff we buy” – just like with organic vs. conventionally grown foods there is a lot more at stake than what’s reflected in the price tag at the store.

Now, I can’t speak to Tide or Target or laundry products in general in terms of The Story of Stuff. I don’t know enough to know how they all fit in there. But after watching The Story of Stuff I can never look down the aisle of Tide in the same way. Each of those jugs weighs over 10 pounds! And once I stopped to think about the process of making all those plastic jugs, filling them up with chemicals not necessarily approved by the FDA, loading them onto huge and heavy semi-trucks, and carting them around the country, then us all using them up and tossing them in the recycling bin…I was ready for a change.Breaking Up with Conventional Laundry on

Enter Dizolve Eco-Strips – what a difference! The entire package (64 loads worth of laundry) weighs just 7 ounces! That’s just 5% of the weight per load compared with conventional plastic jug liquid laundry detergent. And it’s not just light, it’s also small – The whole package is about the size of a tablet, or a thin paperback book. The minimal packaging is made simply of easily recycled paperboard. The difference in shipping, hauling, and storing Dizolve vs conventional liquid detergent is tremendous!

Dizolve Eco-strips are laundry soap that comes in flat perforated sheets. When laundry time comes around you break off a strip and put it in the soap section of the washer – for my washer that’s the same place I was putting liquid soap, and I break the strip up into 3-4 smaller pieces to fit into the little compartment. Dizolve works in cold or hot water, and in HE washers like mine.

So Dizolve easily met and exceeded all my logistical and environmental impact hopes and dreams. But in it’s ingredients, Dizolve is also better for the environment and your body. It’s paraben-free, phosphate-free, free of added dyes and perfumes, chlorine-free, readily biodegradable, and hypoallergenic.

Dizolve is made in Canada, and not available for purchase in US stores. But ordering off their website is really easy, and if you purchase 2 boxes (128 loads worth) you get free shipping. I was so enthusiastic about the product that I considered buying a box for one of you lucky readers to win, but then I got in touch with the nice folks up there and Dizolve has agreed to sponsor a reader to try their product! Just enter the raffle below. I hope you’re as impressed as I was and can start to think about the story behind the stuff you buy too.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on

September 11, 2015
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Roasted Pueblo Chile Salsa Verde

Colorado’s own green chile was the focus of our in-store demonstration this Tuesday at the Whole Foods in Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on LaughingLemonPie.comBradburn/Westminster. No offense Hatch, NM, but we’ve got our own green chiles to be proud of and excited about!

If you haven’t heard the good news, Rocky Mountain area Whole Foods stores have started stocking Pueblo chiles exclusively – opting for our local Colorado green chile rather than the Hatch chiles that come from neighboring New Mexico. There is a wonderful article covering the change wfm smallin the Denver Post, along with a description of Colorado’s own Pueblo Green Chile:

“The high elevations of southeastern Colorado, along with hot summers and cold nights, Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on LaughingLemonPie.comcreate a chile that is thicker and meatier than others, which makes them ideal for roasting. Pueblo chiles range in heat from medium to hot, compared with the typical Hatch chile, which ranges from mild to medium.”

We covered a lot of ground at the demo – discussing this year’s crop of local Pueblo green chiles (roasted freshly onsite); how to preserve and store this seasonal specialty to enjoy all year round; the joys of immersion blender use; how you can freeze avocados; and how to make nachos! In between all that, we made a modified version of Lacy’s Best Salsa Verde Recipe EVER and then used that to make my Muy Verde Salsa.

Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on LaughingLemonPie.comNow, Lacy’s Best Salsa Verde Recipe EVER doesn’t actually include greenPueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on chiles and it is a raw salsa – all fresh ingredients blended together. It has a very light and fresh flavor, perfect for summer. However, for me and for fall, I like my salsa a bit on the dark side. So I revised the recipe to include roasted Pueblo Green Chiles, and further modified it by roasting the other ingredients as well:

Pueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on

Pueblo Chile Roasted Salsa Verde


  • 1 lb Tomatillos, whole (paper husks removed)
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic (skins on)
  • 1 medium Onion, quartered
  • 2-5 Roasted Pueblo Green Chiles (stems removed)
  • Salt to taste
  • optional add-ins:
  • Lime Juice
  • Spinach
  • Cilantro


  1. Preheat Broiler.
  2. Lay the Tomatillos, Garlic, and Onions on a baking sheet lined with a rimmed piece of tinfoil.
  3. Place the sheet under the broiler for 7 minutes - check if anything is burning, needs to be turned or removed. Broil another 7 minutes.
  4. After 14 minutes, remove the onions and place them in a blender. Remove the garlic and let cool. Turn the tomatillos using tongs.
  5. Broil the tomatillos another 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the partially roasted garlic cloves from their paper skins - add to blender with the onions.
  7. Add the roasted tomatillos to the blender, along with all the juices that have accumulated in the rimmed tinfoil.
  8. Add 2-5 roasted Pueblo green chiles to the blender (you might want to experiment, start with just 2-3 and adjust according to your taste. You could always add sour cream or an avocado if it gets too spicy to enjoy).
  9. Blend until uniform.
  10. Pour into a bowl and serve alongside chips, use as an enchilada sauce, or freeze your Pueblo chile salsa verde for later use!

In the salsa photoPueblo Green Chile Salsa Verde on LaughingLemonPie.comgraphed here I added about half a bag of spinach – I just couldn’t resist. It doesn’t taste like spinach, yet has all that goodness built in there! The tomatillos have so much tang on their own that I didn’t feel like lime juice was necessary. I used 3 Pueblo chiles, but could have gone with 4. At the in-store demo we used 3 chiles in the raw salsa and it came out with quite a kick! Experiment for yourself and to your taste.

Have you tried the Pueblo Chiles yet? Share your favorite way to use this local, seasonal ingredient in the comments below.