A Rainbow Birthday Party Without Food Dyes

A while ago I posted about these great cupcakes that my friend had made for her son’s birthday.  She had made the caterpillar from the Eric Carle book and used mint leaves and strawberries for the colors.  Well, the minion recently celebrated her first birthday and we had a rainbow themed party.  This created a few hurdles where the food was concerned.  I wanted to have rainbow snacks with no food dyes.

We ended up going with a variety of fresh fruits and veggies and some blue corn chips.  We also threw in some humus for good measure.

Red – cherry tomatoes

Orange – baby carrots

Yellow – pineapple chunks

Green – bell pepper slices (the last of the pepper harvest from our garden)

Blue – blue corn chips

Violet – purple grapes

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We didn’t want the minion stuffing her face with a really sugary and unhealthy cake so we made her a watermelon cake.  It was a small watermelon that the hero cut into a circular cake shape with a dip on the top that I filled with organic yogurt and decorated with fruit.   We also did lemon cupcakes for everyone else with the same fruits on them.

Red – watermelon

Orange – mango

Yellow – pineapple

Green – kiwi

Blue – blueberries (that my grandmother had frozen from her harvest this summer because she’s awesome)

Violet – beautyberries (that I foraged without knowing what I was going to do with them)

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We had an amazing time and the minion loved seeing her friends and family, tearing the wrapping paper, and messing up her cute birthday outfit with yogurt!

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Cheesy Banana Pepper Spread

I’m not a huge fan of banana peppers but my dad gave me some of his extra plants and I ended up with a bunch of banana peppers.  We’ve been eating some, but I figured the best way to eat something you don’t really like is to cover it in cheese.

Cheesy Banana Pepper Spread

5 banana peppers chopped

8 oz. cream cheese

2 cups shredded cheese

2 heels of bread (for breadcrumbs)

Olive oil

Black pepper

Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 15-30 seconds.  Add in chopped banana peppers and 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese.  Mix well.  Top with final 1/2 cup cheese, bread crumbs, and black pepper.  Drizzle olive oil over top and bake at 250° for about 10 minutes.

It’s a really good spread on crackers, but we think it would go great with seafood.  Possibly chopped up shrimp in it as a sort of shrimp salad type thing.  You could also use more peppers or different types of peppers.  I don’t have a great picture, but it really was good.

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Veggie Spring Rolls

I was inspired to make spring rolls with edible flowers in them.  I wanted the brightly colored petals to show through the thin rice paper wrapping and look really cool.  But I have no patience and no edible flowers in bloom now.  So I made spring rolls anyways.

Spring Rolls

package of spring roll wrappers (these are made from rice paper and even though they seem intimidating, they are really easy to work with)

carrots

green onions

bell pepper

cucumber

cilantro flowers (or another edible flower if you have it!)

sriracha hot sauce

ground peanuts (unsalted)

warm water

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Slice the vegetables into thin sticks.  I think it’s a julienne cut.

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Next, you’re going to take a shallow dish (I used a frying pan) and fill about half way with warm water.  You want your dish to be large enough for the spring roll wrappers.  Take one of the spring roll wrappers and immerse it into the water.  it will take about 30 seconds and the texture with change significantly.  It will become much more flexible, almost like fabric.

When this has happened, remove the wrapper and place on top of one of your hands.  The wrapper will stick to itself, but you can gently unstick it if needed.  Place your flower(s) on the wrapper first so they will be seen best from the outside.  Then put the vegetables in a line in the middle of your palm (and the wrapper), sprinkle some ground peanuts and put a little hot sauce.  Now you’re ready to wrap it.  Fold in one side, then the other, then the bottom, then roll the whole thing up from the bottom.  This is much easier to keep in your hand and not on a plate, but I put it on a plate for the photos.

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That’s it, all done.  Serve with more sriracha hot sauce for dipping.  You can use any number of things for filling.  Shredded meat, shrimp, noodles, leafy vegetables, really any vegetables, various herbs, sprouts.  Use your imagination.

Healthy Hot Pepper Poppers

Jalapeno poppers are ubiquitous on appetizer menus.  And you should always stay away from appetizer menus.  They are full of overly processed and fried food.  But they taste do good!  I love jalapeño poppers but wanted a healthier version.  So I decided to make one.  The hero doesn’t like jalapeños but he does like other hot peppers so I made some with a variety of peppers.  They weren’t well labeled at the grocery store so I don’t know what they all are.  I know the first photo is jalapeños but other than that I don’t recognize the peppers.  If anyone knows what they are called, please comment!

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Healthier Hot Pepper Poppers

ricotta cheese

refrigerated bread dough (I tried both biscuit and crescent and they were good but ideally, I would make it from scratch)

hot peppers

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Tear off the stems from the hot peppers like so;

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Then cut the peppers in half lengthways.  The one really big one I cut in half both ways and made four out of it.  Then you stuff the cavity with ricotta cheese, you may have to break the membrane a little but don’t remove the seeds unless you want to remove the heat.  Then wrap the bread dough around the entire pepper and bake according to the bread dough instructions.  I ended up having to bake it a little longer, so just keep checking until the dough is thoroughly cooked and golden brown.

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They were really good.  The ricotta cheese could’ve used a bit more flavor, we thought basil might be good.  We also tried a few with cream cheese mixed with the ricotta, but it didn’t taste any better and it was much harder to work with.

Keep in mind it they get too hot for you, milk makes it less spicy, water makes it more spicy.  And be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after working with hot peppers.  Definitely before changing any diapers!

Salsa Verde: Completely Homegrown

I like the idea about dishes made completely from items from my garden.  I have dreams of a variety of things, but the main thing is salsa.  The hero and I love salsa and spicy food in general.  Thus the ghost pepper plant.  In fact, the main reason I wanted to start gardening was to grow my own salsa.  I wanted tomatoes, green onions, hot peppers, and cilantro.  And that’s where my garden started.  It has since grown (pun intended) to include many more types of plants.

Anyways, I made my first completely homegrown salsa today.  I couldn’t quite wait for the red tomatoes that I normally use, so I decided to try it with green tomatoes.  I’ve never done anything with green tomatoes, I don’t even think I’ve ever even eaten fried green tomatoes  So I wasn’t totally sure how it would turn out, but they are surprisingly tasty.

So I picked three green tomatoes, two sprigs of cilantro, one big onion green, and one still green cayenne pepper (I also added one I had picked a few days ago).

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To make the salsa I basically chopped everything up and mixed it together.  Easy, delicious, and healthy.

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We ate it on Melba toast and it tasted very fresh.  The minion even had some with the hot peppers removed.  She seemed to like it, but it was a little hard for her to pick up.  The green tomatoes didn’t have as much liquid as the red tomatoes that I’m used to, so the salsa was lacking that a bit.  My dad suggested pureeing a bit of the green tomato to add the liquid.  Give it a try, and let us know how your green tomato salsa turns out.

 

Hard Baked Eggs

I love hard boiled eggs but they can be kind of hit or miss when cooking them.  Especially when using fresh eggs.  I have heard the tip to put a bit of baking soda in the water when you boil fresh eggs and it will make them easier to peel but it’s never worked for me.  Luckily, there is a solution.  Bake them.  The finished egg is just like a hard boiled egg but so much easier to make.

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Put your eggs in a muffin tin to keep them from rolling around and breaking.

Preheat your oven to 325° and bake for 30 minutes.

When they are done, remove the eggs (with a potholder, they are hot) from the muffin tin and place in a bowl of ice water.  Done.  That’s it and then you can enjoy yummy hard ‘boiled’ eggs.

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