Earthy Egg Embellishment

Searching for eggs around the yard is an annual tradition for many families in the Spring, but first there is decorating to be done. Dyes are easy enough to find in stores this time of year. No special trip to the store is necessary this year. All the things you need are in or around your house.

Decorating eggs has various historical roots. Eggs are a symbol of Springtime, and new life. The ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for their new year’s celebration, which falls on the spring equinox. Sculptures on the walls of Persepolis, capital of the Achaemenid Empire, show people carrying eggs to the king. Jewish Passover Sedar calls for hard-boiled eggs called Beitzah dipped in salt. Thanks to craft.com, we have a homemade recipe for your own beautiful eggs.

This year start a new tradition at home by playing with flowers, clovers and pretty leafs as the inspiration for your beautiful eggs. So many things can be used as dye like berries and veggies – yep, a fun way to play with your veggies!

You’ll Need
White eggs
Flowers and leaves to decorate eggs
Pot of water
Dye (onion skins, blueberries, asparagus / spinach…)
1 tablespoon white vinegar to intensify the dye
One pair old nylon stockings (in a color that won’t bleed)
Thread

Here’s How
Cut up your stockings into 4-5″ sections. Tie off one end.

Wash the eggs in mildly soapy water to clean off any oils or residue that might keep the dye from being absorbed.

Dry off the eggs and place them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.
Choose leaves and flowers carefully, looking for interesting and distinctive shapes. Plants that can be pressed flat create interesting two-dimensional graphics.

Carefully place the egg in the stocking pouch. Be careful, your plant could move around. This will get easier with practice.

Tie off the other end of the stocking, making sure the stocking is stretched tightly as possible around the egg to hold your natural inspiration in place.

Add the dye material – blueberries, raspberries, spinach, asparagus – with vinegar and eggs to the water. Boil for 20 minutes. Remember to do the dyes separately. Or, mix blueberries and strawberries and see what happens.

Remove the eggs, cut off the stocking and leaves. Then rinse your eggs. Rub vegetable oil on for a nice finish.

Lastly, share any really special designs with me in the comment section below!

No Artificial Color- Empress Red Sugar Beet Cupcakes ! 

Ingredients:

1 cup puréed fresh red sugar-beets, (fresh cooked not canned)

1/3 cup coconut oil, slightly heated to pourable state

1 1/4 cup granulated organic sugar

2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons natural cocoa powder ( do not use Dutch processed cocoa for this batter) 

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup almond milk or substitute 

Method

Preheat oven to 350′ F Degrees. 

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. 

In the bowl of your stand mixer, or large mixing bowl – add the beet purée. 

Fitted with the whip attachment, whisk on medium high speed and slowly begin to combine the beet purée with the oil by adding the oil in slow, yet steady steam hitting the interior side of the bowl- while whipping. Continue until all the oil is incorporated. If added too fast he after will delegate. We call this ” breaking” – so take your time adding the oil. 

Next, add the sugar and the vanilla extract. Beat an additional minute. 

Alternate adding the flour mixture and nut milk until incorporated into the batter. Continue to beat until combined. 

Divide among cupcake liners, filling them 3/4 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle.

Cool and keep airtight in cooler. 

Storing airtight is an important step to retain moisture and the natural red color. Only remove 30 minutes prior to serving to frost. 

It’s all about the dressing

Summer salads are a great way to explore what’s in season while introducing your little one to new flavors. Dips, dressings, that little something extra is what makes a difference from the little one turning his or her nose up to diving right in. Dressing doesn’t need to come in a bottle. It’s something you can make at home with your little ones. Get them involved. See which flavor they like. Then, try mixing the dressings with produce. What do you like with the raspberry vinaigrette? Is there something that the balsamic is better with? (Try strawberries, feta and spinach with the last one. It’s a simple, warm weather healthy addition to any meal.)

Today, it’s all about the dressings. Maybe you end up with a variety of them in your home to meet individual tastes. That’s OK!! These are homemade and fresh. Each recipe makes enough to dress salad for four. If you find one that everyone likes, consider doubling or tripling the recipes and storing it in a mustard or jam jar. Before to shake before serving. These dressings should stay fresh for a week.

Citrus vinaigrette

  1. In a saucepan, simmer ½ cup of orange juice, ¼ cup lime juice and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice for 4 minutes or until 1/3 cup remains. Pour into a bowl.
  2. Whisk 1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar, minced red chile, a large minced shallot, chopped mint, ½ tsp. each grated orange and lemon zests, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Whisking continuously, slowly add ¼ cut extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified.

 

Balsamic vinaigrette

  1. Whisk together 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (white or dark), 1 ½ Tbsp. warm water, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and ½ tsp. of each minced garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Whisking continuously, slowly pour in 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified.

 

Mustard-herb vinaigrette

  1. In a blender, puree 1 hard-cooked egg yolk (this makes the dressing extra creamy, 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp. each grainy Dijon mustard and water, and ½ tsp. each of minced garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. With blender running, slowly add 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified. Pour into a bowl; stir in 2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon, chervil, basil or parsley.

 

Fresh raspberry vinaigrette

  1. In a blender, puree ¾ cup fresh raspberries with ¼ cup reduced sodium chicken broth.
  2. Scrape puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl and discard seeds.
  3. Into the puree, whisk 2 Tbsp. canola oil, 1 Tbsp. each of apple cider vinegar and minced shallot, 2 tsp. Dijon honey mustard and ¼ tsp. each of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper until emulsified.

 

Sesame-ginger vinaigrette

  1. Whisk together 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger, 1 tsp. each of minced garlic and sugar, and 2 Tbsp. each of rice vinegar and soy sauce.
  2. While whisking, slowly add ¼ cut peanut or canola oil and 1 Tbsp. toasted Asian sesame oil until emulsified. Stir in 1 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives and 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds.

 

Chipotle-honey-lime vinaigrette

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk 3 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce, 1 ¼ tsp. each or honey and ground cumin, and ½ tsp. each of minced garlic and kosher salt.
  2. Whisking continuously, slowly add 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil until emulsified. Stir in 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro.

Orange Smiles with a Jelly Twist

Most children have stuck an orange slice in their mouth and smiled. The peel making a comical smile is a childhood favorite. And, since slices of citrus will always be a healthy snack, this tradition will continue. In the spirit of April Fool’s Day this weekend, let’s add a twist to this favorite with blood orange jelly smiles. This can be made with any kind of citrus – like tangerines or navel oranges. Choose whichever your kids will try. But the blood oranges offer the most dramatic look. Consider serving these side-by-side with real slices of blood oranges. See if anyone can tell the difference!

 

Ingredients

6 blood oranges
1 packet of plain gelatin
Sugar or honey (optional to taste)  

Instructions

  1. Buy a sack of blood oranges.
  2. Get some plain gelatin. (You can find this in the baking aisle near the regular Jell-O.)
  3. Cut 6 oranges in half. (You can always multiply this recipe to make more.)
  4. Squeeze out the juice. Here’s where this project can be a little tricky. You want to squeeze out as much juice as possible without damaging the orange peel. Consider using a traditional manual juicer. Go slowly and twist each half so it’s as clean as possible.
  5. Scrape out any extra strings or flesh. Again, you want the peel intact, so if you can’t get everything out, it’s OK. A little extra orange flesh won’t mess this up.
  6. Put each orange peel shell into a muffin tin to hold them steady when you pour in the gelatin.
  7. Soften the gelatin. Measure 1/4 cup cold water in a glass measuring cup. Sprinkle 1 packet of plain gelatin into the water and let it sit.
  8. Heat the orange juice to boiling. Measure out about 3/4 cup of the juice. Also, this is where you can add a little sugar or honey, if you want to sweeten the juice. Taste and sweeten as needed. Bring the juice to a boil.
  9. Mix gelatin and juice. Take the boiling juice off the heat and whisk in the gelatin. Pour the juice and gelatin mixture back into the glass measuring cup.
  10. Fill orange peel shells. Fill each orange peel cup with the gelatin mixture, and put the muffin tins into the fridge to cool. The orange jelly will need 2-3 hours to set completely.
  11. Trim, slice, and serve! The filling should firm up and be quite stiff. Once it is hard enough, slice into wedges.

Super Strawberry Muffins

Being healthy is most attractive when it’s super tasty – right?

Bright red, juicy strawberries are the first sign of the spring and summer produce that will soon be filling farmers markets on hot evenings. California produces 1.8 billion pounds of strawberries a year, that’s 35,696 acres. This week we celebrated the fruit that offers antioxidants and boosts immunity with California Strawberry Day! For this weekend, we’re making strawberry muffins.

You can substitute strawberries for another berry – raspberries or blueberries for example – if you’re not a fan of, or are allergic to, the red berry.

What strawberry recipes do you love?

Image

Ingredients
2 1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned kind, not quick)
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sweetener of choice, (that measures the same as sugar), or 1/2 cup if you prefer muffins to be less sweet
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cup strawberries, diced, and patted dry

Optional ingredients
1/2 cup of strawberries diced (to be placed on top of the muffins)
1 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with silicone or foil liners, (or just use a silicone muffin pan). Using a flour-less recipe means the muffins will stick to paper liners.
  2. Place all of the ingredients (except the strawberries) in a blender or food processor, and blend until oats are smooth. Pour mixture into a medium-sized bowl, and stir in strawberries.
  3. Divide remaining 1/2 cup diced strawberries over the top of each muffin. (This step is optional, but it really makes the strawberries burst with color and flavor on top of each muffin!)
  4. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.