How to make Dehydrated Watermelon

Dried Watermelon--How to make Dehydrated Watermelon

Dried Watermelon–How to make Dehydrated Watermelon

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at Page’s school.  Every day this week she is required to bring in a small gift to show how much she appreciates all that her teacher’s do.  The note that the room mom sent home said to send a sweet treat as a gift, knowing the kinds of sweets that most moms have sent in the past I thought why not send something semi-healthy.  So I marched down to my local Whole Foods and purchased an organic seedless watermelon.  Lucky for me it was on sale.   The result- a deliciously sweet watermelon snack.  It was so good, that I raced back to Whole Foods to get another watermelon to dry.  When I dry fruit I never add sugar to it.  I see many recipes that do and I never understand why.  There really isn’t a need to. In fact, the watermelon I chose was not at all that sweet in its natural form, but in its dried form it was highly sweet, almost like I had added sugar to it. So for this “recipe” all you need is a fresh watermelon, a dehydrator, or an oven set to low and time.

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Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 6-8 hours

Ingredients:

Watermelon

Directions: Slice the watermelon and discard the rind. Keep in mind that the thinner you slice it the quicker it dehydrates.

Place the sliced watermelon on dehydrator sheets. Set it on 135F for 6-8 hours depending on how thick you sliced the watermelon.

The watermelon is done when it is pliable but dry to the touch.

If you don’t have a dehydrator–get one they are worth the money and the counter space–you can do this in an oven, set the oven to the lowest setting, and place the watermelon on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  My oven’s lowest setting is 250F.  If you are using your oven on a setting this high, keep in mind that the watermelon will dehydrate at a faster rate, so keep an eye on it, at the 4-5 hour mark, your watermelon will likely be done.

Lentil Soup With Cilantro and Lemon Gremolata

Lentil Soup with Cilantro Lemon Gremolata

 

My daughter loves lentil soup. It is one of her favorite meals. My version of lentil soup is not highly complicated, lentils, carrots, celery, onion, and a final squeeze of lemon at the end. When I ran across a recipe by Kenji over on the Serious eats blog adding a parsley and lemon Gremolata, I knew I had to try it! Let me tell you, hands down this is the best lentil soup that I’ve ever had or made! My daughter ate 3 bowls, (3 of her little mini bowls, but 3 bowls none the less), and she could not stop saying how yummy it was. I decided to use cilantro instead of parsley because I love the flavor of cilantro, lemon, and lentils—super yummy. If cilantro is not your thing, then by all means use parsley, this soup is good either way! If you know you’re putting this in your weeknight line up soak the lentils overnight, it will shave off 30 minutes of your cooking time.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45minutes-1hour

servings: 6

Here’s what you need:

Gremolata Ingredients:

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon zest

4 tablespoons oil

1/2 cup cilantro chopped (sub parsley)

Ingredients for Soup

1 cup of lentils ( I used French green lentils)

1 cup carrots diced

1 cup celery diced

1 medium onion diced

4 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

5 cups of good quality chicken broth( sub with veggie stock if you want to make this vegetarian)

1 lemon cut into wedges for squeezing.

Directions: Add the ingredients for the gremolata to a small bowl,

Mix well and set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven pan, add the onions, carrots and celery,

Sauté until onions are translucent about 5 minutes,

 

Add the lentils mix well,

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Add half of the gremolata. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes, your house should smell amazing at this point.

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Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

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Lower the fire and simmer until lentils are nice and tender around 45 minutes. Add water, if necessary, it wasn’t for me. Once lentils are tender, add the lemon juice, mix well then turn off the fire. Serve by ladling into soup bowls and topping with a dollop of the remaining Gremolata, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and enjoy!

 

 

 

If you don’t have it already, check out Kenji’s new book, The Food Lab, it’s full of useful cooking information backed by science.

Grilled Greek Chicken Bowls

Greek Grilled Chicken Bowls

Greek Grilled Chicken Bowls

After years of only getting a harvest of two or three lemons per year, my lemon tree is in full bloom.I finally have a bountiful harvest. In fact, I have so many lemons, I caught myself finally uttering words I thought I would never utter–I have too many lemons.  My motto is when life gives you lemons–cook with them! Luckily for me,  the Mediterranean flavor profile is one of my favorite flavor profiles.  I love a great greek chicken salad. I decided to switch things up a bit, by taking the same ingredients I might use to make a greek salad, and instead, make a warm and savory bowl.  The result–delicious! The best thing about this bowl is it can be eaten warm, or cold, it is delicious either way. Feel free to switch out the ingredients, using kale in place of spinach, grill the chicken on the barbecue instead of in the pan,  or add red bell pepper and marinated artichokes.  You can also switch out the grains, use basmati rice instead of quinoa.  If you want to make this vegetarian, replace the chicken in this recipe with tofu or just add more mushrooms. To make it Paleo omit the grains and add more spinach or kale.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

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Ingredients For Sauce/marinade:

4 large cloves of garlic minced

1 tablespoon of fresh Thyme

1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon of lemon zest

1/3 cup of olive oil

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

Ingredients for chicken bowl:

5 chicken thighs

1 cup of Persian cucumber diced

1 cup of tomato diced

10 ounces of sliced crimini mushrooms

12 ounces of spinach

1 cup of quinoa

1 cup of feta cheese, crumbled

4 Tablespoons of oil, split

sea salt to taste

Directions: Place the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a pan, cover and cook until water evaporates(about 10-15 minutes), then set aside.

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Heat the garlic, olive oil and thyme in a saucepan for 1-2 minutes.

NOTE: You do not want the garlic to brown. If it browns then you’ve cooked it too long.  The point of this is to infuse the oil with garlic and thyme and also mellow out the garlic.  The two-minute mark is usually long enough.

Transfer the infused oil to a bowl, add the lemon juice, sea salt, and lemon zest, mix well.

Season the chicken with sea salt, and pour half of the sauce/marinade over the chicken, set the remaining sauce/marinade aside.  Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for a minimum of 15 minutes.

Heat  2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan, add the mushrooms, season with sea salt and cook until brown–about 10 minutes.  Once the mushrooms are brown, transfer them to a plate and set aside.

Add the spinach to the same saute pan, cook until wilted about 3-4 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet. The skillet should be smoking hot.  Once it is hot, add the chicken and cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through.

Assemble the bowls by adding some quinoa, mushrooms, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta and chicken to each bowl.  Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the remaining sauce over each bowl, and enjoy!

 

 

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix–DIY Hot Chocolate Mix

DIY Hot Chocolate Mix-How to make Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

DIY Hot Chocolate Mix-How to make Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

 

I have been so busy these past few weeks, too busy to even think about putting up a blog.  That is not to say that I have not been thinking about you guys. I have so many great recipes that I want to share with you, but they will have to wait until the new year.  I wanted to share a few Holiday recipes with you as I prepare them for my family and friends.  This recipe for hot chocolate is one such recipe.  It makes a great gift and it’s not overly complicated to make.  I added the mix to some mason jars and purchased some white tops  to replace the metal lids to give them a more elegant look.  Add a ribbon, and you’ve got a perfect food gift for a loved one, not to mention some fantastic hot chocolate mix for yourself!

 

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Ingredients

8 oz semi-sweet organic chocolate  bar ( 70%-100%)

1 cup of unsweetened baking chocolate powder

1 cup of  organic sugar can sub with maple sugar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

 

Directions: Place the chocolate bar into the freezer so that it’s frozen solid before you process this mix.  It Should not take longer than 10 minutes for it to freeze.  Roughly chop the frozen chocolate bar,

Place it and all of the other ingredients into a food processor,

Blend until the ingredients are completely powdered–about 2 minutes.

Once powdered, transfer to an air tight container.

When ready to use, add 2-3 tablespoons of the hot chocolate mix to 1 cup of milk– You can use any kind of milk you like, you can also use water.  Bring the milk/water and hot chocolate mix to a boil in a sauce pan.

Top hot chocolate with marshmallows–get my recipe here-– and enjoy! So easy, and so delicious!  Page is in love with hot chocolate now thanks to this recipe!  Happy Holiday’s everyone!!!

 

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Garlic

Lazy Girl Dinners

Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken

I love to roast chicken whole. It is the epitomy of lazy cooking in my opinion, however, the payoff is amazing! You marinate the chicken, stick it in the oven for an hour, and you’re done. I’ve mastered the art of roast chicken. My roast chicken is famous among my friends and family. Brining is the secret to perfectly roasted chicken, but I’ll save that for a another post. For now I’ll just give you a recipe for perfectly roasted chicken.

Here’s what you need:
Ingredients
1 Whole Organic non-GMO Chicken
4 cloves of garlic, pasted
The juice of 1 lemon
The zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt
Black pepper
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Servings: 4-6

Directions:
In a small bowl add the pasted garlic, lemon zest and oil.

Rub the the olive oil mixture all over the Chicken, and season it generously with…

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Popcorn Balls with Peanut butter and Marshmallows

Popcorn Balls with Peanut butter and Marshmallows

Popcorn Balls with Peanut butter and Marshmallows

Now that Page is in school–two schools if we’re being technical–there are always opportunities for me to cook, or prepare treats for her classes.  This week has been particularly hectic because both schools are doing fundraising drives, and if you’re a parent then you know the schools require a lot of participation from parents in the form of raising money and volunteering to bring food and elbow grease.  Luckily for me none of the kids in Page’s class have food allergies, so I decided to make these popcorn balls.  Popcorn balls have always been one of my favorite Halloween treats.  They contain popcorn and marshmallows, really what’s not to love? These popcorn balls also have a yummy touch of peanut butter, you can omit it, or sub with sun butter or almond butter if you have a little one with allergies. If not–live a little–tis the season! You can make your own marshmallows here’s how, or you can buy a store brand.  I got a gluten free version from Whole Foods.

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Makes 12 medium popcorn balls

Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

6 cups of organic Non-GMO popcorn (equal to 1/4 cup of unpopped popcorn)

3 cups of marshmallows

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1 tablespoon of organic peanut butter

Directions: Pop 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels then set aside in a large bowl.

To a sauce pan add the butter,

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let it melt then add the peanut butter, marshmallows,

Stir until melted,

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Working quickly pour the marshmallow mixture over the popcorn.

With a spatula work quickly to coat the popcorn in the marshmallow mixture.  Once all the popcorn has been coated, work quickly to form the popcorn into balls.

The mixture will still be quite warm so be careful and try not to burn your hands.  Once all the balls have been formed serve and enjoy!

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If you like this you’ll probably love my Caramel popcorn with Almonds and coconut recipe, it’s crunchy and oh so delicious!

How to make Maple Caramels

Maple Cream Caramels

Maple Cream Caramels

 

These caramels have been on my ever expanding list of things I’d like to make for a while now.  I decided that since Halloween is just within our grasp, why not make these as a special Halloween treat.   One of my all time favorite Halloween treats are caramel apples. My mom always bought a package of caramels and on Halloween night we would melt them and make caramel apples.  If you have never made caramel before there can be some pitfalls.  You’ll need a thermometer that can read temps above 250F.  This caramel needs to be heated to 248F.  While cooking, it took a considerable amount of time for my caramel to go from 228F to 248F.  This happens quite often when making candies of this type.  The first time that I made caramel I thought that my thermometer was broken, but it was not. My thermometer just would not go past 230F.  I turned my thermometer off and on, recalibrated it, and yet when I placed it in my caramel it would not budge beyond 230F.  My caramel had reached a plateau. When making candy it takes a considerable amount of energy to burn off enough water to reach a higher temperature.  This plateau  typically occurs at temps between 230-240F.  Simply put, do not be surprised or thrown off if you put your thermometer in your caramel and the temperature stalls at 230F and does not rise for 10 minutes.  It’s completely normal, and once the water cooks out the temperature will rise.  Give it time.  If you don’t the caramel will not set–great if you just want to use this to coat apples, but bad if you want to have them set as a candy.

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Here’s what you need:

Ingredients

1 cup of organic sugar

1 cup of  organic heavy cream

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 tablespoons of butter

1/2 teaspoon maple extract

1/4 cup of water

3 tablespoons of organic corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Directions:

Line a 9 by 11-inch pan with parchment paper spray lightly with oil and set aside. Heat the cream, butter, salt, and maple extract in a sauce pan, once butter melts, remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan add the remaining ingredients:

Bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring,

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Once the sugar completely dissolves, slowly add the cream mixture, be careful the mixture will boil violently:

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Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the temperature reaches 248F.  Remember, going from 230F to 248F could take some time, but keep an eye on it, do not walk away.  The mixture will become less watery and more thick and candy-like as it nears 248F:

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When it reaches 248F it will be very thick:

 

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Thick enough to coat a spatula:

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Pour it into the parchment lined pan and let cool for 2 hours.

 

Once cool cut into bite size pieces and enjoy!