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Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

20 May

I was craving dark chocolate yesterday, and I had a few free hours. I love spending my Sunday mornings baking and listening to NPR (how Chapel Hill I’ve become!). I whipped these up pretty quickly — they’re not hard to mix up, and they don’t take long to bake.

Mmm

They turned out kind of… weird. The flavor is AMAZING. Very rich and chocolate-y. But the texture was odd. The cookies held together just fine, but then have a sandy texture when you chew them. But still buttery, so kind of like greasy sand. There’s also hardly any oatmeal.

Chocolate-y

I’ll still definitely eat them, because as I said, the flavor is amazing. And the texture isn’t too weird. But I was kind of surprised they were weird. It seemed like this recipe had been posted by quite a few blogs, and none of them mentioned this issue. Maybe I didn’t follow the recipe somewhere. I dunno. Calling all bakers out there: Can you see anywhere in the recipe that you’d edit? I was surprised there was no egg… maybe it needs one or two? Or something else? What do you think?

Update: My coworker had one and said, “I don’t think it’s weird. It’s like a shortbread, which I guess makes sense if there wasn’t any egg in the recipe.” … So I guess she’s got a point! As I’m not the biggest fan of shortbread cookies, I don’t eat them often, so I didn’t really recognize the similarity until she pointed it out. 

Chip-tastic

Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies from Epicurious

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 heaping tablespoons traditional oats
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture and beat until moist clumps form. Mix in oats with spatula until evenly distributed (dough will be very firm). Add chocolate chips and knead gently to blend.

Using moistened palms, shape 1 generous tablespoon dough into ball. Place on prepared sheet; flatten to 2-inch round. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing rounds about 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until center is slightly firm and top is cracked, about 16 minutes. Cool on sheet.

Tied up pretty

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Up from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Coconut Cream Cake

13 May

All I have wanted to do lately is just sit and watch TV. I don’t know what has me so low-energy, but dang. So in getting ready for my weekly blog post, I was looking through my pictures, and I realized that I haven’t made anything recently to blog about! I guess you have to do the projects before you can write about said projects. I’ve even had some celebrations to bring desserts to lately, and instead of making desserts, I’ve bought them — gasp!

So today I kept scrolling through my old pictures and found some snapshots of a coconut cake from two summers ago that I forgot to post. The pictures aren’t all that great quality, but it is a delicious cake, so why not? This one is not hard, but is a little time-consuming, as filled layer cakes tend to be. It’s worth it though.

Happy birthday!

I made this one for a friend’s birthday, which we enjoyed at the pool on a beautiful North Carolina June day. Thinking about it while I sit looking at a gorgeous North Carolina May day makes me really want some coconut cake. Maybe this will finally give me some energy to get off the couch. We’ll see.

Mmm... coconut...

Coconut Cream Cake

Cake

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9″ round pans. Separate the eggs, reserving both the yolks and the whites.

In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups sugar and 3/4 cup butter. Add 3 egg yolks and beat well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut flakes. Stir the dry ingredients alternately with the coconut milk into the sugar mixture. Beat well. Stir in vanilla. Whip egg whites until stiff, and fold in whipped egg whites.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Filling, from Martha Stewart

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, scant
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cups coconut flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into the reserved egg yolks to temper. Slowly pour warm yolks into the saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook slowly, stirring, over medium-low heat, until mixtures begins to bubble, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut and vanilla.

Transfer filling to a medium mixing bowl. Lightly butter a piece of plastic wrap, and lay it directly on top of filling to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Classic Buttercream Frosting from Savory Sweet Life

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but not melted!
3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low until incorporated. Add vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons milk/cream. Beat on medium for 3 minutes.
If you prefer a thicker or more stiff frosting, add sugar until desired consistency. If you desire a thinner frosting, add remaining milk a little at a time until desired consistency.
Assembly
Slice the dome off the top of one of the cake layers to achieve a flat top. Spread with a liberal amount of cream filling. Place the second cake layer on top. Cover the entire cake, top and sides, with frosting. Press coconut flakes into frosted cake.

If desired, you could slice each cake layer in half in order to have 4 layers with filling in between each.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything & Everything Link-Up from My Thrifty Chic and The Sapphire Bee
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
TGIF Link Party from A Peek Into My Paradise
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Mini Cheesecake Bites

6 May

My big sister made these awesome little cheesecake bites for our brother’s wedding last month. She made three flavors: plain, chocolate chip, and caramel pecan. The funny part was that she didn’t really think about recipe yield when she started off, and just followed the standard recipe… for all three of them. Since she went with mini, she ended up with over 200 cheesecake bites. We had enough for the rehearsal dinner AND for the dessert buffet at the wedding!

Everyone’s favorite was the caramel pecan. What do you think? Which one would be your favorite? Or would you create a new flavor? The cool thing about this recipe is that it’s easy to swap toppings to customize your own. Chips, nuts, candies, jams, syrups… so much could work here.

Caramel Pecan

Chocolate chip was pretty good too, though I would prefer it to be a little more chocolate-y. Maybe Oreos? Or a fudge layer? I might have to think about that and try this recipe again.

Chocolate Chip

Mini Cheesecake Bites adapted from KraftRecipes.com

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
Optional toppings: chocolate chips, caramel ice cream topping and pecans, chopped fruit pieces, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix graham crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and butter until well-blended. Press onto bottoms of paper-lined mini muffin tin cups.

Spread desired toppings over crust: (1) For plain, skip this step. (2) For chocolate chip, add chocolate chips. (3) For caramel pecan, add caramel ice cream topping and crushed pecans.

Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, and vanilla with mixer until thoroughly blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed after each one until just blended. Pour over crusts. Sprinkle a few more pieces of selected toppings.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.

Enjoy!

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Up from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything & Everything Link-Up from My Thrifty Chic and The Sapphire Bee
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Blog Link Party from Somewhat Simple
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately

Zucchini-Rutabaga Fritters

29 Apr

Fritters? Latkes? Hashbrowns? Something like that. But with zucchini and rutabaga instead of white potato, they were just as delicious (especially when dipped in ketchup) but way healthier. Plus it was a great way to use up what will hopefully be the last of my winter CSA vegetables. (I am getting real tired of roots and greens.)

These do have a bit of flour in them, but if you’re gluten-free or doing the paleo thing, substitute almond flour, and it will be just as good.

Fritters

I guess technically these are a side dish and would be great as the starch alongside a main course. But I’ve had them as a main dish along with sauteed greens or a salad. They’re definitely versatile and would be appropriate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

As with most of my root-vegetable recipes, you can use pretty much any combination of root vegetables you have on hand. Straight-up zucchini would be good, using some sweet potato would be delicious. Whatever. Use your imagination.

It took some time to prepare these, mostly just because it takes a while to grate vegetables. But the nice thing about it was that I fried up a bunch of them and saved extras in the fridge. They were really easy to re-heat (in the convection oven, baking on 350 until warm) and have as a snack or as part of a quick, last-minute meal.

You may like these served latke-style with sour cream and apple sauce. I preferred them with ketchup, like hashbrowns. Yum.

Fritters2

Zucchini and Rutabaga Fritters adapted from SlimPalate.com

1 medium zucchini (about 200 g)
1 medium rutabaga (about 200 g)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup flour (or almond flour, to be gluten-free)
1/4 cup parmigiana reggiano, grated and packed down
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying (I used garlic grapeseed oil)

Grate zucchini and rutabaga with a medium-sized grater. Add a dash of salt. Place shredded vegetables in a clean paper towel and squeeze to get as much liquid out of it as possible.

Place in a large bowl and add beaten eggs, garlic, flour, cheese, and fresh ground black pepper. Mix well.

Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and wait for the pan to get hot. Once oil is shimmering, add spoonfuls of mixture to the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Place on platter lined with paper towels to soak up any grease.  Serve with sides of salt, pepper, sour cream, applesauce, and/or ketchup.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything & Everything Link-Up from My Thrifty Chic and The Sapphire Bee
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack

Curry Carrot & Rutabaga Soup

21 Apr

Another soup! With all these root vegetables, I’ve found that I really enjoy making up different soups. I had some leftover carrots and a single rutabaga leftover that were about to be all nasty. They were a little limp for much else than cooking and pureeing, so that’s what I went with.

I wish I had thought of it earlier when I first started our CSA, but I’ve found Andrea Reusing’s Cooking in the Moment to be really helpful in figuring out what to do with all these veggies. Her recipes are divided up seasonally and focus a lot on fresh produce, so when I was at a loss, I started there. I found an excellent recipe for carrot soup and edited it a bit to include my sole rutabaga and to make substitutions for a few ingredients I already had on hand.

If you haven’t bought it yet, go out and get her cookbook. But in the meantime, you can try this recipe. It’s not quite the original, but it’s pretty good.

Curry Carrot & Rutabaga Soup

Curry Carrot & Rutabaga Soup, adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing

2 tablespoons butter
4 green onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoons kosher salt
2/3 pound carrots & rutabagas, chopped
1 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
Chopped walnuts, for garnish

Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and some of the salt. Cover and cook about 8-10 minutes, until the onions are clear.

Add the curry and cajun seasoning and stir. Cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the carrots, rutabagas*, wine, and a little more salt. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, water**, and the rest of the salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook about 30 minutes, until the carrots and rutabagas are tender.

Puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor. Add seasoning if necessary and serve hot. Garnish with chopped walnuts and/or plain Greek yogurt.

* Any combination of carrots and rutabagas will do. The original recipe called for only carrots. I used one medium-size rutabaga and the rest in carrots.

** Any combination of vegetable stock and water will do. The original recipe used only water in order to better bring out the flavor of the vegetables. I used some homemade vegetable stock to add a little more herbal flavor.

Yummy Soup

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything & Everything Link-Up from My Thrifty Chic and The Sapphire Bee
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild, Inside BruCrew Life, The Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Coconut Macaroon Cookies

15 Apr

These coconut macaroons are so easy! Any time I need a last-minute dessert, I turn to this recipe. (Well, if it’s truly last-minute, then I go to the grocery store, but you know what I mean.)

C is for Cookie

They’re very simple and quick, but so delicious that your fans won’t know that you just threw it all together. These are a great dessert for a picnic or an excellent little addition to a potluck or dessert spread. I love to make them at Christmas time as ‘snowballs,’ but the coconut is so fresh that they’re equally satisfying in the middle of summer. To get even more fancy, dip the bottom half of each cookie in melted chocolate after they are completely cool. Yummm.

My only warning with this recipe? Double or even triple it. This recipe only makes 10 or 12 small cookies.

A whole plateful

Easy Coconut Macaroons  from Food.com

1 1/3 cup coconut
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk dry ingredients together. Stir in egg whites and almond extract, and mix well.

Drop from teaspoon on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove cookies from sheet immediately after baking.

Coconut Macaroons

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything & Everything Link-Up from My Thrifty Chic and The Sapphire Bee

Mountain Dew Cake

8 Apr

My brother got married! I can’t believe it! It was a beautiful day for a beautiful wedding. The bride was lovely, the groom was happy, and everyone had a great time. I really enjoyed spending the past few months helping my new sister-in-law plan her wedding, and it was a lot of fun being the ‘wedding planner’ for the weekend.

While I helped plan some logistics and decorations for their big day, my oldest sister prepared the dessert table. After a few days in her kitchen, she had banana pudding cups, strawberry shortcake cups, over 200 mini cheesecake bites, and these mini Mountain Dew bundt cakes.

The bride wanted a rustic theme in lime green and navy blue. The groom kept trying to make that rustic redneck, and my sister helped that along with cakes baked with Mountain Dew, his favorite soda. But aside from these, the bride and I managed to swing the theme back toward rustic chic. With the wedding held outdoors at a vineyard on the first gorgeous North Carolina weekend of spring, it was perfect.

Whether you have a casual wedding or a weekend barbecue, try these cakes. They’re delicious little conversation starters.

Mountain Dew Cakes

Mountain Dew Cake from DuncanHines.com

Cake

1 box lemon cake mix
1 box lemon Jell-O instant pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 can (1 1/2 cups) Mountain Dew
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a mini bundt or cupcake pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix with the pudding mix. Add the eggs and oil, then slowly add the Mountain Dew. Mix at medium speed until blended.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the mini cakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack.

Glaze

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Mountain Dew

While cake is still slightly warm, melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup Mountain Dew to the melted butter. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil for two minutes and remove from heat.

Poke holes in cake with a wooden skewer or the tines of a fork, and then spoon the hot glaze over the cakes. Cool completely before serving.

On the dessert table

 

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Homemade Pesto

1 Apr

I love pesto, and I love pasta. I really prefer creamy pesto, but in recent years I’ve found that a regular pesto is also pretty delicious.

Last summer I had a basil plant growing in a little pot on our balcony. It was really cute and awesome to have around. Problem was, I kept forgetting it was out there. I’d forget to water it for a week or two, then remember and bring it back to life with huge cupfuls of water. I actually did revive it a few times this way, but not without ill effects. The stalks became really woody and tough, and the leaves became less flavorful and a little bitter. After a few near-death experiences, it just wasn’t working out anymore, and I put the poor thing out of its misery.

But before it met its end, I got quite a few good leaves out of that basil, and with it, I made my own pesto. This project was actually my original reason for buying a food processor, if I remember correctly. I whipped up this pesto, which I used as a sandwich spread and as a base for a pasta sauce. I subbed inexpensive walnuts for harder-to-find, pricey pine nuts.

Basil, pre-haircut

Before

Basil, post-haircut

After

Overall, I remember thinking that it just needed more. More garlic, more parmesan, more flavor. This recipe is pretty good — good enough that I’ll return to it again. But if you have a hit-it-out-of-the-park, homerun of a pesto recipe, please share! I’m thinking of getting a new basil plant this spring.

Homemade Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the basil and garlic, and pulse a few times until mixed.

While the processor is on, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop and scrape the sides of the food processor bowl with a spatula. Add the grated cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. Pulse until blended.

Pesto!

Serving Suggestions:

  • Crostini: Serve as a spread with toasted baguette slices.
  • Panini: Use as a spread for sandwiches.
  • Pasta: Toss with pasta, vegetables, etc. I made one with whole wheat pasta, broccoli, asparagus, pesto, and parmesan.

Mmm... tastes like spring!

 

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Rosemary Turnip & Rice Soup

24 Mar

“This was surprisingly good for something that was probably a staple for medieval peasants.” So says the BF.

I needed some way to use up more CSA veggies. We received yet more root vegetables, and really, I was running out of ideas. I dug up my Cooking in the Moment cookbook, Andrea Reusing’s excellent book of recipes focused on cooking seasonally. The recipes are divided into spring, summer, fall, and winter, and considering I have a winter CSA, I thought I might have some luck there.

Turnip Soup

I found her recipe for Turnip Soup with Rosemary and Black Pepper. I adapted it a bit and gave it a shot.

Considering I didn’t think I liked turnips, I thought this was very delicious. And as the BF says, as turnips are often considered a somewhat lowly vegetable, it really turned out great.  I used my own homemade vegetable stock that I had also made with rosemary, so that was really the strongest prevailing flavor, which I love. I topped mine with black pepper, parmesan, and rosemary. If you want to go vegan, leave the parmesan off, no problem. If you want a slightly different flavor, use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.

IMG_0862

Rosemary Turnip & Rice Soup adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing

3 green onion bulbs, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup long-grain white basmati rice
black pepper
3-4 medium turnips, cut into small bite-size cubes
3 small branches fresh rosemary – 2 whole and 1 chopped
grated parmesan cheese

Add the olive oil to a heavy stockpot and warm over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the wine and stock, and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice, and simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low. Add the turnips and two whole rosemary branches. Cook about 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season with more salt, if necessary. Discard the rosemary branches, and serve the soup into bowls. Top with grated parmesan, fresh-ground black pepper, and chopped rosemary.

IMG_0865

Linking Up With:

Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou

Green Smoothies

17 Mar

If you’ve been following my posts about the CSA we’re doing, you know that I’ve been having these for breakfast almost every morning. And I haven’t gotten tired of them! They’re so easy and super fast. If you get bored, you can also add in new fruits, veggies, flavors, and other ingredients to the mix. Don’t be turned off by the idea of greens in your smoothie! When you add enough fruits, you don’t taste the greens at all. It tastes like a delicious fruit smoothie, and you get the added benefit of an extra serving of veggies. Kinda like those V8 fruit/veggie juice things.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned while experimenting with smoothies. It’s a lot, so if you’re not in the mood to read my dissertation, just jump to my recipe for a basic green smoothie at the bottom.

Mmm... green

Shopping & Prep

I recommend buying organic greens — since they don’t have a peel or skin, they can absorb a high amount of pesticides and chemicals. For other fruits and veggies, I refer to the Dirty Dozen list (a list of veggies that you should always buy organic). But mostly, I follow this rule: If it doesn’t have a skin (greens) or if I eat the skin (apples), I buy organic. If it has a thick peel that I don’t eat (bananas, citrus, avocado), I don’t bother with organic. I do buy organic dairy products (yogurt, milk, etc).

I have learned to prepare my fruits and veggies way in advance, which makes it a breeze (about 3 minutes) to prepare breakfast each morning. For example, my freezer currently contains a bag of diced fresh pineapple, banana slices, and apple chunks, and I have strawberries and blueberries in the fridge.

I have not bothered with any fancy equipment. I’ve read some blogs that say you need a super expensive blender in order to get a well-blended smoothie, but I’m not spending that much money. I use a knock-off Magic Bullet single-serving blender that my mom got me for probably less than $40. Maybe I’m missing out on incredibly well-blended smoothies, but I doubt it.

Greens

To ensure that your greens blend in smoothly, blend your greens with your liquid first, and then add the rest of your ingredients. You can use any kind of greens, but each is going to be slightly different.

When I get a big bunch of greens, I go ahead and wash them and store them right in my salad spinner. Then they’re ready for each morning, when I pull out a couple handfuls and rip them up just a bit while I stuff them into the blender.

I learned from a little internet research that many greens, especially those from the brassica/cruciferous family (pretty much everything on my list except for spinach and lettuce) have a natural chemical that can disrupt hormone function. This is really not an issue for most people because you’d have to eat a TON of greens every single day. But since I already have thyroid problems (and my spring CSA has given me almost entirely brassica vegetables), I was a little more concerned. The good news is that cooking them can help. So for brassica greens, I wash them, rip them up a bit, steam them, and then store them in a bowl in the fridge. Then each morning I can just pull some up and stuff them into the blender. Easy peasy.

  • Lettuce: Easiest to mask their flavor because they’re super mild. But of course, they also have the least nutritional benefits. If you’re really not sure about green smoothies, start here and work your way up to something a little more green. OR… this can be a great way to use up slightly wilted salad lettuce. I used butterhead, which was great. Romaine would be great too.
  • Spinach: A classic in green smoothies. More health benefits then lettuce but still an easy flavor to mask with fruits.
  • Kale: A standard in green smoothies. Super healthy! To prepare for a smoothie, I prefer to cut the stems out before I chop them up. If you don’t mind yours a little chunky, keep the stems. They’re edible and full of nutrients. When blended, you may see some flecks, but you won’t notice any chunks when drinking. Check your teeth afterward though.
  • Turnip greens: They blend really smoothly. They have a slightly more green taste, but not noticeable if you blend in stronger or sweeter flavors like banana and sweet juices.
  • Kohlrabi leaves: Same as turnip greens.
  • Collards: Same as turnip greens.
  • Beet leaves: Really mild flavor. A great way to use up greens that you usually throw away. They will turn your smoothie pink instead of green.
  • Mustard greens: No. Don’t do it. Gross.

Liquids

For the liquid, I started off with orange-peach-mango juice from Trader Joe’s. It was incredibly delicious, but a little too much sugar to start off my morning. As I grew accustomed to the green-ness of the smoothies, I started cutting back on sugars. Apple juice is a good option — it’s lower in sugar and acids. These days, I usually mix about half apple juice and half almond milk. Prune juice can also be a good option if you need some natural assistance in that department — just be careful not to overdo it.

For a thickener, I always include yogurt. With that addition and the fact that I don’t freeze all my mix-ins, my smoothie comes out more like the consistency of a drinkable yogurt than a frozen smoothie. I prefer Greek yogurt since it adds more protein to my breakfast, helping me feel fuller longer and have a bit more energy. And as with the juice, I started off with vanilla or blueberry and have gradually progressed to plain yogurt, with the goal of cutting out extra sugar.

Mix-ins

Any fruit is great. Banana is the best for masking other flavors, plus it makes your smoothie a little thicker and smoother. I use pineapple with almost every smoothie. I’ve also used strawberry, blueberry, apple, and clementines — basically whatever I have laying around.

I’ve also mixed in veggies, either in addition to or instead of the greens. Carrot is a great option — it goes well with apple juice and bananas. Mixing in a few leftover turnip pieces didn’t change the flavor at all but did give it a slightly powdery, grainy texture. Beets are good too — they go well with apple and pineapple.

Keep in mind that some mix-ins will change the color of your smoothie, if that’s the sort of thing that bothers you. Mixing warm (red, orange) and cool (green, blue) colors will usually result in a brown color, which isn’t particularly appetizing. Though sometimes I just do it and drink it from an opaque cup. Mixing cool colors (greens and blueberries) will usually result in a cool blue color. Just think back to your elementary-school paint palette, and you’ll be fine.

Green smoothie

Okay, that is way more information than I thought I would share, so if that’s too much for you, here’s a recipe. Just try it. You’ll be glad you did.

Green Smoothie

1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup packed steamed spinach or other greens (use 1 1/2 to 2 cups if not steamed)
1/2 banana, sliced
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
apple juice or almond milk to taste

Blend the juice and greens together until greens are thoroughly chopped.

Add the banana, pineapple, and yogurt. Blend until smooth.

Add more juice or almond milk until smoothie reaches desired consistency. Blend well.

After you try this, experiment a little! Add whatever you have and whatever you like. That’s the beauty of a smoothie — you can’t make it wrong. Enjoy!

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities