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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Valentine Round-up- The Healthier Side

These cookie cutters may become your favorite February kitchen tool.

Did you know February is also a heart-healthy month?

Healthier Valentine Treats

Berry Green Smoothie

This delicious berry green smoothie recipe is a healthy way to kickstart your day!  It's full of vitamins and nutrients and is a great way to sneak in some greens!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen berries (I used raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries)
  • 1 /2 cup Vanilla Icelandic Yogurt or Greek Yogurt You can use regular yogurt instead if you prefer a less thick smoothie.
  • 1/2 - 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/4-1/3 ripe avocado
  • 1-2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut water

  • Directions: 
    Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add additional coconut water if it is too thick for you. Add any garnish if desired. Coconut flakes also taste good on this one!

      Pancake Kebobs
A tray filled with heart-shaped cucumbers, cheese, and meat.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Heart Shaped Sandwich 


Heart-Shaped Veggie Pizza
Ingredients:
  • 1 tube ready-to-bake pizza crust (13.8 oz)
  • 1 cup spinach dip (ready-made) or Boursin cheese spread 
  • 1/2 cup broccoli (chopped small)
  • 1/2 cup diced red peppers
  • 1/2 cup shoestring carrots
Directions: 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Flour the working space and unroll the pizza dough and use a rolling pin to even out the thickness. Use a large heart cookie cutter and cut a heart shape out of the dough.

  • Place the dough heart onto a baking sheet. If the shape happens to get wacky, place the cookie cutter back on the baking sheet and use your fingers to re-shape the dough.
  • Alternatively you can roll the dough onto the parchment paper on the baking sheet and then remove the excess dough rather than having to move the hearts.
  • Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the bottom of the crust begins to turn golden. Let cool completely.
  • Top each heart crust with spinach dip, about 2 tablespoons. Follow with pizza toppings, broccoli, carrots, and red pepper.
  • Makes 6-8 hearts depending on the shape of your cookie cutter.
Toad in the Hole
Hot Dog and Cheese Strike Through
Heart Shaped Charcuterie Board 
Fruit Tray
and ending with just a little bit of a healthy chocolate treat-Vegan Avocado Chocolate Pudding recipe previously posted  
https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2022/08/vegan-avocado-chocolate-pudding.html
"If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours!"
Dolly Parton

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Valentine Round-Up Part One-The Splurge

 

Cook's Notes: Posting some of Ever Ready's best Valentine's Day treats. Some links go all the way back to 2013!
Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2018/02/mini-cherry-oreo-cheesecakes.html

Healthy Strawberry Bars and several other Valentine Day  goodies

Red is for a Valentine Meal
Baked Salmon with a Strawberry and Tomato Salsa
Chicken with a Raspberry Balsamic Glaze
https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2013/02/red-is-valentine-meal.html

27 Healthy Valentine's Day Treats with Chocolate

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Lemon Orzo Soup with Chicken and Spinach

Cold? In need of a warm-up? A comforting bowl of Lemon Orzo Soup with Chicken and Spinach may be just what you need for the weekend.
The recipe serves 4 and is an Ever Ready Special.
Cook's Notes: Use a rotisserie chicken as a time saver.
Ingredients:
  • 3 large pieces of cooked chicken, shredded or diced chicken
  • 1 cup each of sweet onions, celery, carrots, and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon
  • 1 container 48 oz. chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 3/4 cup dried orzo
  • 1 small-medium lemon (zest and juice)
  • 3 cups torn spinach leaves, stems removed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese
Directions:
  • Heat oil and sauté carrots, celery, onion, and garlic for 2 minutes. Then cover and sweat veggies on low, about 8 minutes.
  • Uncover and add in spices, broth, and orzo. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer just until orzo is al dente, about 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and mix in lemon juice, and zest. Add in cooked chicken pieces and spinach leaves. Heat until spinach leaves are wilted.
  • Optional adding in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese right before serving.
  • Since orzo will absorb liquid more broth may be needed to add to leftovers.
Suggested food pairings-fruit and cornbread
Author Jean Marzollo certainly came up with a winner when she created the book "I Spy" in 1992. There is now a whole series of different themed I Spy books which encourage children to think, learn and explore on each page.
We have a small lemon tree and for the past 3 years we have been nurturing it and for any cold spell, we cover it with frost cloth. It had been adequately fertilized and watered but still no fruit. So disappointing until yesterday. I was sitting on the patio and much to my amazement I spied one lemon. Now I realize only one but one is one and at least it did bear fruit! So the find was the impetus for making the soup recipe posted.  Hoping for more this spring. 


Thursday, January 26, 2023

Maple Glazed Chicken, Broccoli and Butternut Squash

 

We had snow flurries this week and the weather people have gone crazy reporting it plus noting the cold temps plummeting into the 20s for several nights and highs not even out of the 40s during the day. BUT I will not whine as I watch Twin Cities News every night with snow piles that just keep getting higher and higher. I will say some have shown their creative side by making snow and ice sculptures. 

Time for some comfort food on the healthy side using the sheet pan method 

The recipe serves four and is an Ever Ready special. The dinner was served with a healthy side of couscous and a Buttermilk Bran Muffin (recipe previously posted)

 https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2023/01/one-bowl-buttermilk-bran-muffins.html 

Maple Glazed Chicken, Broccoli, and Butternut Squash

Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup each olive oil and real maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon each thyme, parsley, rosemary, cinnamon 
  • 1 lb. chicken breast cut into 2-inch pieces 
  • 3 cups each of broccoli florets and diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash 
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into slices
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small Honeycrisp apples, diced or another crisp apple (could substitute 2 Bosc pears)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/3 cup pecans 
  • Optional 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad.  
  • In a bowl whisk together olive, maple syrup, and spices. Reserve 1 teaspoon of liquid for broccoli.
  • Add sweet potatoes or butternut squash cubes, chicken pieces, red onion chunks, garlic, and diced apples. Mix well and spread mixture out on a baking sheet. 
  • Roast vegetables and apples until tender 15 minutes. Mix broccoli florets and cranberries or cherries with reserved liquid. Cook 7 minutes longer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Book Review My Brother Eric

 BOOK REVIEW

This contemporary western novel embraces the heart of what it means to be a family plus navigating the challenges of running a cattle ranch. The family dynamics are ever-evolving with the addition of foster care children into the home as each one seeks to find their place. “My Brother Eric” by Mary Trimble follows the life of the cattle ranching Cahill family in Eastern Washington. The family made their first appearance in one of Trimble's earlier books “Maureen.”

Under Trimble's deft hands, an engaging heartwarming story unfolds that will tug at your heartstrings. Teenager Eric Buckley finds himself in a homeless situation when his foster parents have to move. Eric is unwilling to make another move and is determined to finish out his last year at Chewack high school. His life takes an unexpected turn when an opportunity arises to live with ranchers Maureen and John Cahill's family. They open their hearts and home to Eric where over time he learns discipline, and hard work and finds a sense of belonging.  A discovery of cattle rustling on their property prompts swift action with an unexpected turn of events. The Cahills' lives become more complicated with the addition of another foster child, Logan, age eight, who struggles to adjust to the family routine and life on a ranch. John Cahill, patriarch, and his wife Maureen provide experiences that encourage core family values of respect, love, responsibility, and resilience.

The storyline reads smoothly and the cast of characters is fully developed and relatable. I particularly liked all the authentic details of what it would be like to live on a cattle ranch. Trimble provides an uplifting story for readers wanting to hear more about the Cahill Ranch life. 

ALL ABOUT THE AUTHOR MARY TRIMBLE

https://www.marytrimblebooks.com/

Mary E. Trimble, an award-winning novelist, lives with her husband on Camano Island, Washington. Their family, most of whom live in the Northwest, play an important role in their lives.     Mary’s four previous contemporary western novels have met with enthusiastic acclaim. She is also the author of two memoirs, Sailing with Impunity: Adventure in the South Pacific, and Tubob: Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps, and has been a frequent guest speaker to groups interested in those topics.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

One Bowl Buttermilk Bran Muffins


One Bowl Buttermilk Bran Muffins

Cook's Notes: If you check out the ingredient list for most muffins, you'll quickly discover that they're really (what I call) "cake in disguise". With 100% all-purpose flour, lots of sugar, and often a mountain of buttery crumble, there's minimal worthwhile nutrition.

On the contrary, these Buttermilk Bran Muffins have whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, lots of wheat bran, eggs, buttermilk, oil, raisins, and a relatively small amount of sugar in the cast of characters, making them much more suitable for a healthy breakfast. With all the fiber in these bran muffins, along with 3 eggs, you will find yourself satisfied for hours. They are delicious, filling, and super moist. And the 
one-bowl method is always a plus for cooking and not having to use a mixer.
The recipe adapted from Chris Scheuer and makes 12-14 muffins.


Cooking Tips:

  • Wheat bran is available at most grocery stores, but it can be a little tricky to find. Most stores that carry Bob's Red Mill products will carry it and will stock it near the oatmeal or in the flour section. Health food stores will often carry it in bulk. If you can't find wheat bran wheat germ can be substituted for satisfactory results. 
  • These bran muffins freeze well. Allow the muffins to cool completely, then freeze on a sheet pan, uncovered, for 1 hour. Once frozen, place muffins in a ziplock bag or airtight freezer container. Pull out as many as you want and allow to thaw before serving.
  • Golden raisins, dried currants or dried cranberries are all delicious substitutes for the raisins.
  • Add a teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ground ginger, and ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves to the batter for a spiced bran muffin.
  • This is a somewhat unusual muffin recipe in that you fill the muffin tins almost full rather than ⅔ or ¾ full like most muffin recipes recommend (if you're making just 12 muffins, fill the cups right to the top.)
  • When you spray the muffin pan as you prep for this recipe, spray generously and also around the top edge of each muffin cup as well so they'll be super easy to remove from the pan.
  • You can make this batter the night before, store it in the fridge then bake up the muffins in the morning.
  • The honey-butter glaze is optional, but it's super delicious and only adds 10 calories per muffin. It will make enough to glaze the top of each muffin. If you want to glaze the whole muffin (it's delicious!) double the glaze amounts.
  • If my raisins are dry, I like to plump them up before adding them to the batter. To plump, just combine the raisins with 2 teaspoons of water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with a plate or with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes, then proceed with the recipe.
Buttermilk Bran Muffins
Ingredients:
  • ½ cup mild-flavored oil such as sunflower, grapeseed, canola or avocado will all work
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups wheat bran or wheat germ (can use either) 
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup raisins
Optional glaze:
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter
or sprinkle each muffin with white sparkling sugar before baking and skip the glaze.
Directions:
  • Preheat oven:n to 400 degrees. Spray 12 muffin cups with non-stick spray or use cupcake liners. 
  • Whisk together oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl until well blended. Add molasses, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
  • Sprinkle bran, flours, baking powder baking soda, and salt over the top. Stir just until all of the flour mixture is incorporated (do not overmix). Add raisins and stir to combine.
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling to the top. Bake for 12- 13 minutes until firm to touch and a tester comes out clean.
  • Allow to sit in muffin tin for 3 minutes, then remove to a cool rack.
For the honey-butter glaze:
Combine melted butter and honey in a small bowl. Stir well to combine. Brush the mixture over the top surface of the warm muffins.

KINDNESS MATTERS-SHARE A TREAT
Recently a friend shared chocolate chip cookies with us💓YUM and YUM!

Monday, January 23, 2023

Indigo and Ida

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2023 (1/26/22) is in its 10th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen, two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those books into the hands of young readers and educators.

Ten years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues. Read about our Mission & History HERE.


"Indigo and Ida" features Indigo, a spunky biracial 8th grader, who aspires to be a journalist. She breaks an important story investigating school policies at her school that gets everyone's attention and puts her in the spotlight. Indigo finds rules aren't enforced equally for Black and Brown students who tend to receive the harshest punishment. She also has devised a plan to win back her best friends who have turned on her. Some of her classmates criticize her for being too militant, aggressive, and just plain annoying with her investigative work. Indigo feels her voice can be heard more if she runs for school council with the slogan "Indigo Belle for Justice."  

A book discovery about journalist Ida B. Wells that also includes some of her private letters sidetracks Indigo as she reevaluates her course of action. Capp's book is a great blend of past and present as Indigo learns more about this investigative journalist who spoke out against violence, inequality, and racism back in the 19th century. Ida B. Wells becomes her role model. Indigo's parents who both are doctors become involved in a local situation where medical care was denied to a man in their community. Her parents use their voices to speak up on behalf of this man. Subsequently, Indigo's parent's actions become a role model for Indigo as she weighs choices on how to effectively use her voice against inequality.    
 
This book addresses so many timely issues students face each day. It makes for a great discussion tool encouraging students to find their own voice to work for equality and justice but also learn how to celebrate and appreciate differences. 
Megan Ciskowski (associate publicist) and Lerner Publishing Group at  www.lernerbooks.com for gifting me the book.

Sue Ready is a freelance writer, food blogger, book reviewer of all genres, and former teacher.

All About the Author

Heather Murphy Capps 

"Indigo and Ida" is Capps's debut novel for middle grades. She is also a coordinator for the Mixed Up Files Blog based in Northern Virginia. She enjoys reading and writing books that incorporate great scenarios with magic, mystery, and adventures. The author draws upon her experiences as a television news reporter and a mayoral press secretary.

MCBD 2023 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!

FOUNDER’S CIRCLE: Mia Wenjen (Pragmaticmom) and Valarie Budayr’s (Audreypress.com)

🏅 Super Platinum Sponsor: Author Deedee Cummings and Make A Way Media

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MCBD 2023 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Authors: Sivan Hong, Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett, Josh Funk , Stephanie M. Wildman, Gwen Jackson, Diana Huang, Afsaneh Moradian, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Eugenia Chu, Jacqueline Jules, Alejandra Domenzain, Gaia Cornwall, Ruth Spiro, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Tonya Duncan Ellis, Kiyanda and Benjamin Young/Twin Powers Books, Kimberly Lee , Tameka Fryer Brown, Talia Aikens-Nuñez, Marcia Argueta Mickelson, Kerry O’Malley Cerra, Jennie Liu, Heather Murphy Capps, Diane Wilson, Sun Yung Shin, Shannon Gibney, John Coy, Irene Latham and Charles Waters, Maritza M Mejia, Lois Petren, J.C. Kato and J.C.², CultureGroove, Lindsey Rowe Parker, Red Comet Press, Shifa Saltagi Safadi, Nancy Tupper Ling, Deborah Acio, Asha Hagood, Priya Kumari, Chris Singleton, Padma Venkatraman, Teresa Robeson, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Martha Seif Simpson, Rochelle Melander, Alva Sachs, Moni Ritchie Hadley, Gea Meijering, Frances Díaz Evans, Michael Genhart, Angela H. Dale, Courtney Kelly, Queenbe Monyei, Jamia Wilson, Charnaie Gordon, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Debbie Zapata, Jacquetta Nammar Feldman, Natasha Yim, Tracy T. Agnelli, Kitty Feld, Anna Maria DiDio, Ko Kim, Shachi Kaushik

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📌 FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

📌Register for the MCBD Read Your World Virtual Party

Join us on Thursday, January 26, 2023, at 9 pm EST for the 10th annual Multicultural Children's Book Day Read Your World Virtual Party!

This epically fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. **

Valentine Round-up- The Healthier Side

These cookie cutters may become your favorite February kitchen tool. Did you know February is also a heart-healthy month? Healthier Valentin...