Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Confetti eggs for Easter

We introduced cascarones, or confetti eggs, at our family Easter festivities two years ago and they immediately gave the treat-filled baskets and morning egg hunt stiff competition for the best part of the day. They're simple to make and an absolute blast to enjoy, but they require a little advance preparation.

I happened across a mention of cascarones somewhere online, and thought: "Yeah, my kids would love cracking confetti-filled eggs on each other's heads!" Boom: instant family tradition.

To make one, you carefully open an egg at one end, empty out the contents, wash and dry it, decorate, then fill with confetti and seal with tissue paper. You can gather cascarones in a special basket or include them in an egg hunt for a special treat.

Last year, we didn't even decorate them. I ran out of time and energy, but the kids didn't mind a bit. Just be sure to make more than you think you'd ever need!

Here's how to do it:

Using a spoon or butter knife, gently tap a hole in the bottom of the egg. Chip away a small opening, as carefully as you can, and dump the egg white and yolk into a bowl. You might need to pierce the yolk with a skewer or knife tip.

I don't always see this step mentioned, but it's important: Remove the membrane lining the inside of the egg shell. That’s the translucent white film that sometimes clings to bits of shell. If you don’t get most of it out, your eggs will resist cracking — you’ll end up with sore heads. (I know this from painful experience.) Stick a finger inside the egg and carefully scrape away at the membrane. You don’t need to get it all out — just most of it.

Next, rinse your egg well with warm, soapy water and let it dry. I stick a chopstick in each egg and plant it in a glass for a day or two — ready to go!

You can decorate these just like other Easter eggs: dye them, paint with watercolors, put some stickers on them, color with markers. They are fragile, so be careful. Again, it’s a good idea to prepare a few extra so the kids don’t get too worked up over the occasional — and inevitable — crushed egg.

To finish them, gather up tissue paper, glue, and confetti. I use cheap tissue-paper confetti from a dollar store. It gets everywhere, and I wanted something more biodegradable than glitter.

Cut the tissue paper into squares big enough to cover the openings in your eggs. Fill each egg with confetti (a funnel helps), then glue a tissue paper square over the opening. Let dry, and you’re done!

A few more suggestions:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Eggs almost Benedict

History says that one day a certain Benedict was bored with her usual breakfast and then decided to create something new. The other  version also involved a Benedict, but the story is slightly different, as you can read here. Both have something in common: creativity and New York.

My oldest son, who was born in New York, is the one who asks me to prepare Eggs Benedict when everything else on the weekend breakfast menu sounds boring to his 7-year-old ears: cereal, smoothies, cereal bars, yogurt, pancakes and waffles somedays just won't make it to his plate.

It all started when we were meeting with friends at the California Village Cafe, and he was interested in what I've ordered and not his kids' blueberry pancakes. Since then, brunch means eating Eggs Benedict. And since then I've had to find my way on poaching eggs to the perfect texture and carefully piling it up over Canadian bacon, the round bottom of a burger bun and maybe something else on the top. You can use any bread, the traditional English muffin, or brioche. I've even seen eggs over a round nest of puff pastry.

Happy Sunday!

Eggs Almost Benedict

I just use free-range eggs from vegetarian-fed hens, and I use every opportunity to advertise the benefits of a great quality of life for the chickens. Hollandaise sauce is optional. There are plenty of easy recipes online, like this one by Alton Brown that I might use if I have plenty of time.  I am searching for one that takes something other than eggs, like tofu. There are tons of recipes of how to poach an egg around cookbooks and the web. For me, this is the one which worked better.

free-range eggs
white wine vinegar or lemon juice
Canadian bacon or Smoked Nova Salmon Slices
halves of whole wheat hamburger bun
kosher salt to taste
favorite fresh herb to sprinkle

Slowly grill Canadian bacon in a skillet and toast bottom of a burger bun.

In the meantime, fill a medium skillet with water. When the water is boiling, add some drops of vinegar or lemon juice. Vinegar will help the egg white hold together, giving a firm texture to the egg. Lemon juice will not have the same results, but it makes the white softer.

Carefully crack the egg into a small dish and transfer it at once to the water. Lower the heat to medium-high. It takes 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for the egg to be ready, with a soft yolk. Take the egg with the help of a slotted spoon or a ladle and pour off the excess water, then transfer it to a plate lined with a kitchen towel.

Compose the plate with the bun, Canadian bacon and the poached egg. Very important: Do everything fast so to taste the egg while it's still very hot! Sprinkle herbs on top, if desired.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sweets for St. Patrick's Day

CPE_Leprechaun Cookies_Mar2010

We're not just about green veggies around St. Patrick's Day: This trio of lightly sweet treats features brightly flavored mint.

110315_shamrockish1First up is one of my favorites: the Shamrock-ish Shake, a homespun variation on a certain fast-food restaurant's seasonal offering. Creamy milk, vanilla ice cream, and all-natural mint flavoring — plus a bit of spinach — make this a treat you can feel pretty good about. (I used to have a soft spot for the Official Major Chain's version, but the current incarnation looks — and tastes — like radioactive sludge. Even my sugar-crazed son pushed it away in disgust.)

The minty meringues pictured at top — we call them Leprechaun Cookies — are simple to make. They're mostly egg whites and sugar, an irresistible fat-free sweet.


Fresh mint is also spotlighted in smooth, silky Mint Chocolate Panna Cotta. You need to make it at least 8 hours ahead of time, and it's worth the wait.

And there's Anna's whimsical Leprechaun Cakes, a surprisingly delicious combination of avocado and kiwi in a baked treat perfect for lunch bags.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stuffed Shamrock Peppers

This greened-up take on stuffed peppers combines brown rice, ground turkey, and pesto for a filling, flavorful dish. Cutting the peppers in half should result in a shamrock shape — you'll have to use your imagination with these particular peppers, however. The ones I bought were too blocky. Pick peppers with more curves and you'll have more convincing shamrocks!

Stuffed Shamrock Peppers

For the meat, I chop up a handful of precooked meatballs. (Lemongrass Chicken Meatballs would go well here.)  You can substitute quinoa or Israeli couscous for the rice; leave out the meat for a vegetarian version. This serves four as a light meal or side dish; double the recipe for a more substantial serving.

2 green peppers
1 cup cooked brown rice
4 ounces cooked ground turkey or beef
3 tablespoons pesto
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash peppers, cut in half, and scrape out insides. In a bowl, combine rice, meat, pesto, and tomato sauce. Place peppers, cut side up, in a baking dish. Fill each half with rice mixture. Cover dish with a lid or foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Uncover peppers and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Celebrate with great green veggie dishes


If ever there's an opportune time to coax your kids to eat more green veggies, this is it.

Take full advantage of the wee 'uns excitement for St. Patrick's Day and serve them some healthy green goodness. These favorites from our archives are by no means Irish, but that's besides the point.

Pin It
Pesto, that magically delicious favorite, gets a delicious twist as Popeye Sauce: spinach and cream cheese pack a powerful nutritional punch, and kids will adore coating pasta and gnocchi with this festively green sauce.

Baby spinach makes an understated guest appearance in one of my favorite spreads, Spring Pea Dip. You can whip it up in under 10 minutes with frozen peas. Set it on the table with crackers or baby carrots while you prepare dinner — and watch it disappear.


Finally, for an quick and easy side, toss together the Minty Armenian Cucumber Salad pictured at the top of this post. It's simply delicious, and a lovely addition to a packed lunch.

We'll feature a few more of our favorites for this very lucky holiday throughout the week!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leprechauns and Hass Avocado Kiwi Muffins

This time it's a sweet treat, light green and it can be the perfect company for a St. Patrick's Day high tea party. Or maybe just to help the leprechauns to mess up with crumbles ... But a warning: It's not your grandma's traditional muffin and it might take some bites for you to come to like it!

As you might have noticed, I am slightly obsessed about the idea of coloring food with natural ingredients. And one of my ideas was to get rid of the tons of kiwis I have in my seasonal organic delivery and use a reference from my childhood. In Brazil, avocados are served mainly with sugar. Guacamole was not very popular when I was growing up, so we used to have this delicious cream made of avocados, a dash of milk, drops of lime juice, and a pinch of cinnamon ...a nd shameless spoonfuls of white sugar folded in.

Leprechaun Cake

I found few recipes for avocado cakes on the Web, and finally mixed my own blend. I don't yet consider it perfect — but I am close to making these cakes more similar to the taste I remember from my childhood. Avocados should be really ripe! 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh Hass avocados, mashed to a creamy texture
1 kiwi, mashed
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons milk (or milk substitute)
Cinnamon to taste (optional)
dried mint (to sprinkle on top)

1/2 cup lime  juice
Enough powdered sugar to make a thick glaze

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare muffin pan lined with paper cups. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl and set aside.

Remove flesh from ripe avocados and kiwis and mash or blend them with a electric hand blender in another bowl. Add eggs, lemon juice and oil and whisk.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, folding delicately, until it's a moist batter. Spoon into prepared muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes or until the tops are golden and the center is dry.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Patrick-crepes with (or without) Wild Arugula and Balsamic Reduction

If you are enjoying the luck brought by leprechauns this March, this recipe will help you bring more greens to the table. This good-looking crepe (with no artificial colors)  is a delicious way to wrap up even more greens inside it.  It is also a chance for your kids to get acquainted with different tastes. Another possibility is to fill it up with cream cheese or ricotta seasoned with pesto or simply cheese and turkey ham.

My boys gave mixed reviews about it: With arugula and balsamic reduction it was a 10 out of 10. Without the pretend "shamrocks" these crepes were a 100 out of 10, if you know what I mean ... They rolled the crepe-pancakes and just ate them.

This is the first of a mini-series with some green food  that we will post up to March 17. As you know by now, Darienne and I can't resist celebrating holidays with food.  This is a great and inspiring one: If food has to be green, that's the most beautiful occasion to take advantage of!

Patrick-Crepes With (or Without) Arugula and Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

1 cup milk
1 cup cooked or 2 cups raw baby spinach (if cooked simmer with olive oil and a tablespoon of water)
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 to 3 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon dried savory or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Kosher salt to taste
Balsamic vinegar reduction, to taste (optional, see note below)
Arugula (optional)

Mix ingredients with an electric hand blender. Let the mix stand for 10 minutes at room temperature and then blend it again.

Preheat griddle to 300 F (or use a skillet over medium heat), and coat it with a thin layer of olive or canola oil. Ladle the equivalent of 1/2 cup of crepe mix onto the griddle, and cook each side for about three minutes.

Pile cooked crepes on a plate to retain moisture and temperature. After about five minutes, plate them with arugula, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction, or your favorite filling.

Note: To make balsamic vinegar reduction, simply bring vinegar to a boil over medium heat. Continue to cook over low heat until vinegar is reduced by at least half.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...