Monday, August 03, 2015

Clean Grillin'


Today is the first day of my 5 Day Clean Eating Challenge! I can't believe it, but over 100 people have joined the group, and so far we are off to a great start. This dish above is the lip smackin' first dinner, and it's a keeper. Grilled Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan, fresh grilled tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. Drooool. I kept the pasta (whole wheat here, but you can do quinoa, garbanzo, rice, whatever) because my kids, heck, most kids, love pasta, and I didn't want to overwhelm anyone with a super strict meal plan the first go-round! Yes, I know pasta is processed, as is cheese, cooked oats, whatever. For this challenge the focus is more about limiting the processed foods and making healthier choices, not banning them entirely, You just have to decide where to draw the line for yourself, and start there! I'd start with this dish. 
It is so good, you won't miss that greasy breaded crust at all, Not one bit.

Grilled Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan
Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
4 large tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup finely shredded basil
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
WW Pasta of your choice
Fire roasted tomatoes, 1 can
Optional seasonings: dried oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme

Preparation:
Heat up your grill and set oven temperature to 450 degrees. Brush the chicken, eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil and season lightly with cayenne, salt and pepper. Grill the chicken until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Grill eggplant over moderately high heat, turning once, until softened and lightly charred, about 4 minutes. Grill the tomatoes, turning once, until lightly charred but still intact, about 2 minutes.
Line a large baking dish with parchment paper or grease with a little oil. In the center, arrange half of the eggplant and chicken, overlapping the slices slightly. Top with half of the grilled tomatoes, sprinkle with half the basil and mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the cheese. Bake in the center of the oven for about 10 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Boil pasta while eggplant bakes. Drain and toss with canned tomatoes, garlic, additional seasonings of your choice and reserved basil.


NOTE – Do you have a cast iron pan? If so you can skip the oven! Layer your ingredients in the cast iron pan after grilling and put it back on the grill over low heat. Lower the lid and let bake for about 8-10 minutes. You can even put the pasta and tomato in the bottom of the pan and then layer your ingredients on top!

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Yeah, I know. I've been lax again. Kids. Life. Work, y'know? Nooooot gonna beat myself up about it.

We are in full summer swing, which around here means hanging at the lake, driving up to Rhody beaches and eating everything in sight. I mean it. I've been eating everything in sight. We recently did our annual beach rental and I can't even believe how off the rockers we went with food. We hosted BBQs and went out often. Clam cakes and New England clam chowder, beer, Allie's donuts, pizza strips, potato salad, ice cream from Aunt Carrie's, beer, hotdogs, Cheese Balls, and did I mention the beer? I came home feeling like a depressed slug. The entire next week I was exhausted. I couldn't keep up with my toddler and I was snappy with everyone. It sucked. I knew it was time for a quick reset. I joined a girlfriend's challenge group to get back into my regular eating and exercising plan and I felt better in just a few days. 7 days in and I have even lost a couple of inches (probably inches of beer).

In talking with a few friends I realized they were all in the same shame filled boat, too. Since I'm a planner and a bit food obsessed (duh), I thought it would be fun to do a challenge group of my own! I would make a meal plan, shopping list and recipe file! Fun! 5 days, clean foods, kid friendly. Easy right? I opened a group, invited some pals on Facebook, and within a few days 60 people had joined. 60. Fuck. I began to get performance anxiety and to freak out about pleasing 60 people. Then I thought, "Shoot. I don't give a shit. If these 60 people throw out one gross food item and find 1 new thing they like eating this week, great. Goal accomplished." So the more the merrier!

Want in? Here's what is involved:
- Pledge to eat clean for 5 days, August 3-7th
- Follow the provided meal plan for the 5 days (to the best of your ability)
- Complete the daily check-ins to enter yourself for prizes!

Click on this link to add yo'self: August Clean Eating Challenge

I'll be posting the recipes here too, so if you aren't a joiner, you can still eat like one.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Milk Maid

It's all about the boobs once again in the Bean household. 


Nursing Jude was an amazing journey, one that I am still immensely proud of, but one that wasn't always simple. We had our early struggles, but finding Boobie Group was my saving grace. Those 12 ladies are my Jersey fam, and without them I would certainly not be where I am now. Nursing Eden has been smooth sailing so far, so I only popped into a group meeting once for the Valentine's Day party, and then only because my badass doula would be there. That woman is the BOMB. Anywho, I started off on the right foot nursing partly because I never had any supply issues this time around. One of the main reasons is that I knew how much extra water I had to drink, knew what foods to avoid and increase, and also (and best!) because I had Boobie Cookies. My friend Amy makes the. best. lactation cookies, and she brought a dozen over when we brought Eden home. One a day and I was good to go. Little lady is a satisfied babe. However. a cookie a day, no matter how much it supports milk production, is still a cookie a day. Full of butter, sugar, and chocolate, those bad boys weren't going to get me into skinny jeans any quicker.

I needed to find a substitute and fast. I stumbled upon a delicious looking oatmeal muffin recipe from Vintage Kids, Modern World, and got to baking. I wanted to add in the go to ingredients for milk production (brewer's yeast, flax seed, and fenugreek) and take it another step. I added carrots and walnuts for an an extra boost, used honey for sweetness and swapped in coconut oil for a healthier fat (visit Healthful Mama for explanations about this list!). The result is a hearty, healthy muffin that is lightly sweet and super effective for increasing your supply. With no guilt. Promise.



Carrot Cake Oatmeal Boobie Muffins (to promote healthy lactation)
Ingredients:
makes 1 dozen muffins

1 c. rolled oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
4 Tbls. flax seed meal
4 Tbls. Brewers yeast
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. coconut oil, melted
1 egg
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. shredded carrot (about two medium carrots)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 c. golden raisins
1/2 c. dried pineapple, chopped

Preparation:
Whisk flour and oats together in a medium bowl and pour buttermilk over. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line muffin tin. Add all ingredients except carrot, nuts, and raisins and blend until well combined. Fold in carrots, nuts, and raisins. Divide evenly among muffin tins and bake 12 -15 minutes or until just golden. Cool on a wire rack. Freeze any muffins you will not consume in a day or two!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Lucky Treats




Yikes. So you remember that cereal milk buttercream frosting I made for E's birthday cake? Well, as big as the cake was, I still had at least a full cup of sticky goodness left over after frosting it. You know how much I hate to waste things. I just couldn't throw it away, and while I'm not above putting frosting on... oh, maybe a waffle at breakfast, or even (gasp!) stirring a spoonful into a hot cup of coffee, enough was enough. It had to go. Of course, there was also an almost full box of Lucky Charms sitting waiting for someone to liberate it. See, as much as E loved them as a kid, after his birthday breakfast was over they went into the cabinet of shame next to the Oreos. I've been doing a 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge for Lent, and the kitchen pantry is one of the areas that needed unloading. Any half boxes of anything, any past expiration date cans, anything I bought thinking it would be useful (or worse, because it was on sale!) went out! I donated a bag to the food pantry at church and a bunch went straight into the trash. That big box of marshmallow ick? Into cookies. Where else? I used my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe for the base and went from there. And even if these cookies are the size of my hand, I just had to sandwich them together with a big shmear of cereal milk buttercream. And then I gave them all away. 

Lucky Charms Sandwich Cookies
Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups Bob's Red Mill White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 cups Lucky Charms cereal

Preparation:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and pale. Add egg and almond extract and beat until just combined. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the mixer at low speed. Scrape the bowl and mix until just combined. Fold in cereal. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool for five minutes on the sheet before transferring to wire racks. Smear cookies with a generous tablespoon (or two!) of buttercream and sandwich together.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Happy Birthday, Daddy-o!


E and I are now both officially in our mid thirties. I know. That isn't old. But just saying "mid thirties" feels older. Like maybe I should stop saying "totes" and give away all of my mini skirts.

Not like anyone who bakes and eats cake like this has any right to be wearing mini skirts anyway. This delicious monstrosity is a straight to the hips, thighs, and butt cheeks delight. It was that goooood.

Jude is pretty adorable (just look at the grin!), but he's also pretty darn sweet. When we started talking about E's birthday, he said he wanted to bake a cake.

"What kind?" I asked.

"Cereal and Milk Cake. With bananas!"

Hmm. Ok, kiddo. At least he didn't say, "with sardines."

I did a little thinking and decided we would bake a roasted banana layer cake and make some Momofuku cereal milk for the frosting. It still needed something extra to put it into special birthday terrotory though. The next morning Jude asked E what his favorite cereal was when he was a kid. Cocoa Pebbles and Lucky Charms. Ick. In our house growing up, Honey Nut Cheerios were a big treat.

Jude took his first trip down the sugary cereal aisle of the
grocery store that afternoon, and he was astounded.
He had no idea what anything was. I had to answer way too many questions about cartoon Tigers and Vampires for
one day. He was so excited about the Lucky Charms
marshmallows that he could hardly keep still in the cart.
That box we wrapped up for E's birthday breakfast, but the Cocoa Pebbles were the perfect last detail for the cake.
It was crunchy and crumbly on the outside and gooey and sweet inside. The best birthday cake ever, and it was all the boy's idea.

Roasted Banana Birthday Cake with Cereal Milk Buttercream


For the Cereal Milk (from Momofuku Milk Bar)
Ingredients:
2 3/4 c. cornflakes
33/4 c. cold milk
2 Tbls. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Preparation: 
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Spread cornflakes on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 15 minutes until toasted. Cool completely.
Pour cooled cornflakes into a large pitcher. Pour milk over and stir well. Allow to soak at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Strain through a fine seive, whisk in brown sugar and salt.

For the Buttercream:
1/4 cup cereal milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 c. vegetable shortening
1 lb. powdered sugar

Preparation:
In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening until fluffy. Add 1 cup of sugar and 2 Tbls. of cereal milk and beat again, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add another cup of sugar and 2 Tbls or cereal milk and beat. Continue these additions until the buttercream reaches the desired consistency, you may not use all of the milk or sugar! I like it a bit stiff, so I use almost all of it:)

For the Cake:
2 ripe bananas
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 c. raw sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
Extra Cereal Milk
2-3 c.Cocoa Pebbles

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole bananas on a baking sheet and roast until blackened, 15-20 minutes. Peel and cool.

Reduce oven heat to 350. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans. Sift flour, salt, soda, and powder into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add bananas, oil, extract, and beat until just combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating between additions. Add 1/3 flour mixture and mix until just combined, then mix in 1/2 buttermilk. Continue mixing and add next 1/3 of flour mixture, the rest of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mixture. Pour evenly into pans and bake 20-30 minutes or until golden. Tester should come out with crumbs stuck to it and cake should not be dry. Let cool 5 minutes in the pans and then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

Place each cooled cake layer onto a rimmed dish. Pour half of the remaining cereal milk over each cake layer and refrigerate for an hour.

To assemble, fold 1/2 cup of Cocoa Pebbles into 1/2 c. room temperature buttercream. Place one of the chilled cake layers onto a plate. Spread buttercream mixture over this layer and top with second layer. If the cake is too soft to lift, stick it in the freezer for half an hour before continuing! Spread a thin crumb coat of room temperature buttercream over the cake and return to the fridge for half an hour. Frost with remaining buttercream and cover sides with remaining Cocoa Pebbles.







Friday, February 13, 2015

Cookies for the Kiddos


I used to think Valentine's Day was great. My mom always gave me and my siblings little Russel Stover boxes of candy which we'd squirrel away and nibble for weeks. She'd bake a heart shaped cake and let us stuff our faves. As boyfriend-less teenager I used to host "Lonely Hearts Club" parties at my house for all my single friends. I thought it was really great when I actually had a boyfriend to spend it with, but honestly, Valentine's Day is so much more fun with a toddler. Pretty much everything is so much more fun than a toddler.

Except maybe Whole Foods. I still really like Whole Foods alone. 

Jude thinks all holidays are fun, especially the food. We just had to host a party for his buddies from class. I am all for little treats for kiddos once in a while, but I'm not about to offer up a sugar coma as a party favor to all of the kids who come to our craft classes. Jude really wanted to decorate cookies with his friends, and he was googly eyed over t

he vast selection of candies and sprinkles in the grocery store (he has a thing for sprinkles, just like his mama). To assuage a bit of my guilt about the oncoming candy head rush, I made this healthier version of my favorite rolled sugar cookie recipe. It cuts the sugar, replaces white flour with whole wheat, and the cream cheese keeps it soft and buttery. The dough is really great for detailed cut cookies since it won't spread at all, but we stuck with simple hearts. I kept them small, and whipped up a bowl of cream cheese with a little homemade strawberry syrup for frosting. The bowls of sprinkles, pink candy corn, and conversation hearts were plenty of sugar without using real frosting! Of course, I used a little royal icing for the leftover cookies later, just because I can't resist that glossy look:)

  • Healthier Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies
  • Ingredients:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup raw cane sugar (organic if you can!)
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour flour

  • Preparation:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter
    and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until fluffy. Beat in almond extract and egg. Add sugars, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Beat mixture until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half, press into discs, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 to 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time to a 1/8-inch thickness. Using 3-inch cookie cutters, cut out dough.  Place cookies on prepped cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges just start to brown. Keep an eye on them as they cook very quickly! Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool before decorating.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Little Love Cakes


I'm getting into the Valentine's spirit a little early this year. Perhaps it's being cooped up in the house thanks to all of this snow, snuggling with my kiddos. Perhaps it's the hormones of a nursing mama with a cutie pie baby girl in her arms most of the day. Or perhaps it's the fact that a FULL MONTH of no sleep (damn you 4 month sleep regression. Damn you straight to hell!) has given me hallucinations that I have had to craft out of my system. Whatever it is, I am all good to go for the love fest. This little cupcake was my first attempt at baking a shape within a cake, and it was a bit of a miss. I need to cut the hearts smaller next time, but they are still cute! The recipe is a modified version of the French Yogurt Cake Jude and I bake together often. It's one of my faves, and the lemon addition makes it fresh and new. It also pairs perfectly with strawberry whipped cream frosting! This is the best little cake to make with your kiddos, since it is forgiving and they can do all the measuring themselves! Remember that a spoon in this recipe equals a teaspoon, and a scoop equals 6 ounces, or one little kid yogurt cup, which we conveniently have lying around often!


Little Lemon Love Cakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream
Ingredients:

Cake: 
3 scoops White whole wheat flour
2 scoops sugar
1 scoop plain, whole milk yogurt
1 scoop vegetable oil
1 spoon salt
3 spoons baking powder
1 spoon lemon extract
2 eggs
zest of one lemon

Frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
4 Tbls. strawberry syrup or jam

Preparation:
Grease a 9x9 round cake pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Allow your kiddo to do as much of the scooping and dumping as possible into a large bowl. Mix well with a hand mixer. Pour 1/3 of the batter into a small bowl and tint with beet powder or food coloring. Pour the pink batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then cut hearts using a small cookie cutter (or a knife and a template). Place each heart into a lined muffin tin, pour remaining batter over hearts. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. 

Beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form, Fold in strawberry syrup. Pipe onto fully cooled cakes.