Happy Independence Day

Hello!

Just stopping in to say “Happy Independence Day!”

Last night, Farmer Ben and I practiced our right to grill and had a pretty delicious meal of chicken hot dogs, vegan beer brats (I’ve been really digging Tofurky brand sausages lately-Ben thinks I’m such a weirdo!), zucchini, radishes, scallions and hot sauce-dipped pineapple.

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Everything was delicious… but we probably went a bit overboard for two people (We also had cheese and baguette).

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Luckily, I have lots of leftovers to eat while Farmer Ben is feeding the masses today. I may have eaten some for breakfast, paired with some iced mango-black tea I found at Trader Joe’s earlier this week.

Honestly, I can’t complain about this day one bit… it started with delicious food and some quiet time before doing some work. That feels like a total win!

Anyway, remember to take a moment to thank those who serve and protect our freedom today!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

What are you doing to celebrate the 4th? 

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Oatmeal (Bourbon) Scotch-Scotch-Scotchies

Oh hey… we’re doing another recipe post… That’s okay, right?

As I mentioned yesterday, Farmer Ben and I did some baking on Sunday!

I realize that I am going to lose almost all of my “healthy baking” street cred by admitting this… but one of the best cookies I make is the oatmeal scotchie… You know, with those artificial-everything-butterscotch chips? Yeah, those… I only make these cookies a few times a year, but when I do, they are a huge hit. I’ve tried to track down a better butterscotch chip, but have you seen the price on some of the alternatives?! Woof! No thank you. Any suggestions on a better brand that isn’t $100/lb?

Anyway, because I’m already using something unhealthy, I’ve made a few tweaks to the classic recipe.

1.       Whole wheat flour

2.       Less sugar/all brown-sugar.  2a. Coconut sugar-it’s got a lower glycemic index than regular sugar and trace minerals (just make sure no one has an allergy if you bring these to a party).

3.       Flax seed meal. It adds a layer of nutty-ness.

4.       Bourbon… not healthy, but doesn’t bourbon make everything better?

Again, these are pretty tasty. And, because the recipe yields around 4 dozen cookies (depending on size), they are great for a crowd (I usually keep a secret stash at home for Farmer Ben). No, these are not the prettiest cookies… but once people taste them, it’s tough to stay away.

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Farmer Ben struck again....

Oatmeal (Bourbon) Scotch-Scotch-Scotchies  

Adapted from the Nestle Butterscotch Chip Bag.

What You’ll Need:

·         1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

·         1/4 cup all-purpose flour

·         2 Tbsp. flax seed meal

·         A pinch of salt

·         ½ tsp. cinnamon

·         1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

·         1 tsp. baking soda

·         2 sticks butter, softened

·         1 scant cup coconut sugar

·         2 large eggs

·         1 tsp. Vanilla

·         ¼ cup bourbon

·         3 cups oats

·         1 package (11 oz) Butterscotch Chips

What to do:

·         Preheat oven to 375 degrees. *

·         Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

·         In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar (I use a pastry blender, but can also be done with a mixer).

·         Stir in eggs, vanilla and bourbon (I switch to a rubber spatula at this point).

·         Slowly stir in your flour mixture.

·         Mix in oats and butterscotch chips.

·         For a super bourbon taste, cover mixing bowl and place in fridge for a few hours (*if doing this, wait to preheat your oven).

·         Spoon dough onto un-greased cookie sheets and bake for approximately 9 minutes, 11 minutes if you like a crisper cookie.

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite Christmas Cookie?


Bagel Breakfast Pudding

Hi Friends!

Can we talk about food today? It feels like AGES since I’ve posted about …well anything, but specifically food!

So today, how about a recipe? This is great for company because you can make it ahead of time. And it involves bagels… So you really can’t go wrong, in my opinion.

I know Thanksgiving is tomorrow… But this is more of a Black Friday/Small Business Saturday recipe….

Farmer Ben and I were shopping last week and our grocery store was having an insane sale for a random ten minutes… 6 bagels for $1!!!!! It was such a good sale that we bought a dozen. Is there even a question on whether or not one should buy bagels when they are less than 17 cents each? I didn’t think so.

Anyway, we ended up giving ½ dozen to Ben’s dad and step-mom who are in town visiting and had bagels for breakfast one morning… and then I had people over on Saturday and needed counter space, so I moved them to the top of the fridge and promptly forgot about them until yesterday. Needless to say, they were starting to get a little hard.

Now, if you know me, I HATE wasting food. So I perused our cookbook collection to see if I could find a way to use them up. Farmer Ben said he would use them in stuffing, but I had a better idea.

Bagel Pudding. I love traditional bread pudding…but I also love breakfast. Savory breakfast…I’ve been eating a lot of sweet stuff lately and we had all of these delicious garlic/onion/sesame bagels to use up.  I’ve also been on a major casserole kick lately, so this was a perfect way to keep that rolling…not to mention, it is stupid easy to make!

This is slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Breakfast Bread Pudding (from her cookbook).

Everything Bagel Breakfast Pudding

Ingredients:

4 savory/salty bagels that are a couple of days old.

2 + TB butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound veal chorizo (but breakfast sausage will also work!)

10 eggs

1 cup of half and half or whole milk

Salt/Pepper/Smoky paprika to taste

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

Optional: add your favorite veggies (peppers, spinach, beans, etc)

What to do:

*If you’re using fresh bagels, lightly toast them and let them sit out for a few hours to dry out…

Cut bagels into chunks (I cut mine 4 ways both directions, no need to slice) and set aside.

Place 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add in your onions. Cook until nice and soft (I caramelized mine because Ben’s a weirdo and only likes disintegrated onions, but as long as they are pretty well cooked, that will also work).

Remove onions from skillet, placing into a small bowl, and set aside.

Put sausage into the same pan, breaking up as you cook it. Let brown. Remove from heat. If you have a lot of grease, drain it (this will depend on your sausage).

While your sausage is cooking, whisk together your eggs, cream and spices in a large bowl. I went very light on salt as the chorizo and bagels I used were pretty well flavored, but again, this is to your taste.

Grease a 2 ½ qt casserole dish with remaining butter.

Layer half of your bagel pieces in the dish.

Add half of your sausage and onions.

Top with half of your cheese.

Repeat bagel, sausage, onion and cheese layers.

Pour your egg mixture over dry ingredients. This part is a little scary, but it will fit!

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It should look like this

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight/for a few hours.

The next day… pre-heat oven to 350 (you’ll want to take your casserole out of the fridge so it warms up as well). Once pre-heated , place casserole in the oven, still  covered. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted, and casserole is firm and crispy.

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What carb-filled dreams are made of

Eat immediately. This will also reheat well.

Happy Thanksgiving, Shopping and Long Weekend, Friends! Cheers!


Creamy Dreamy Dip

Hi Friends!

Happy Tuesday! I figured I’d stop in and share my latest obsession: Creamy Cheesy Dip/Spread (made in about 5 minutes with a blender). Seriously… I think I’ve made this dip about 5 times in the last month (3 times for social gatherings and 2 times just because I couldn’t stop thinking about it). I make it a little differently each time, but this way seems to be my favorite.

And if you have these ingredients… how can you go wrong, really?!

Three of my favorite things....

Three of my favorite things….

This is super easy to make and can be made with so many different flavor combinations… serve it with some sliced baguette, a good dip chip or some veggies… I’m also loving it as a spread on sandwiches.

Sorry for the lack of photos… but I didn’t think that blended cheese would photograph well.

Noelle’s Creamy Dreamy (cheesy) Dip:

*adapted from a cream cheese box–I can’t find it on the Organic Valley website or I would link it for you.*

  • 1 package cream cheese, softened.
  • 1 (8 oz) brick cheddar cheese (I am a big fan of Cabot Extra Sharp)
  • 8 oz. Plain Greek Yogurt/Sour Cream
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tsp. onion powder or chives.
  • 2-3 tsp. smoky paprika
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a few good cranks of black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon (optional)

Grate your cheddar cheese.

Add all ingredients into food processor/blender–EXCEPT your cream cheese and lemon juice. Pulse until everything is chopped/well combined.

Add in remaining ingredients and pulse for a few more minutes until everything is incorporated.

Scrape into a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for an hour or so before serving–this allows the flavors to really come together.

Want to add in some veggies? Throw in some broccoli, spinach or kale.

This dip is real good. Please try it!

 

 


“What is my expertise?” or The Art of Photo-Bombing Part III

Hi Friends!

Today’s #elf4health challenge is to “share my expertise.” Obviously, because I’m a Renaissance Woman, this is hard. I’m really good at many things, such as tripping up stairs, running into furniture, jam sessions while driving, spilling stuff all over myself and rocking second-day hair, but I didn’t think any of these were what Elle & Lindsay had in mind.

I tossed around a few other ideas.

I love to eat…bake and cook, weird things, especially… and add whiskey to cookies (or everything)…. but I’ve told you all about that before.

So, back to the drawing board I went… and I came up with something really good–and super useful–to share with all of you and my fellow elves.

Photo-bombing.

Yes. I am a not-so-secret photobombing expert. I realize that I’ve already written two posts on this, but what can I say? it’s kind of a big deal. AND, what better time of year to ruin carefully planned photo sessions with your loved ones than Christmas/New Year’s parties???

So, here is Noelle’s Notebook’s Photo-Bombing Refresher Course:

1. Pick your victims.

We all know THAT person. You know, the person who HAS to take the perfect photo… they need to stand “just so,” to hide their muffin top or do 2341354134135245 retakes until they finally look better than all other parties in the photo. OR, they have to document EVERYTHING (seriously, do you need to take a picture of Uncle Charlie eating a piece of celery?).

This person is almost always the one I pick…probably because sometimes I am that person (Farmer Ben can attest to this).

2. Plan your entrance.

Depending on the location, I have a few different approaches… at a party, I like to casually dance up behind the subject of the photo–slide to the left, you know? If the subject is sitting down, I prefer the walk-by… OR, I just quietly creep into the background. Your photographer is key to this step because if they so much as let out a chuckle, your cover is blown.

3. Find your motivation.

Are you the photo-bomber who tries to go unnoticed with the blank stare? Or do you go big–arms, eyes and all? I am typically  the “make the most horrendous face possible” girl, but to each their own. The important thing is, once you figure out what you’re going for, you have to commit…

There’s no turning back in photo-bombing–you only have seconds to ruin the perfect photo.

4. Escape.

Find the quickest way to flee once the camera flashes…this could be as simple as turning around with a sweet spin move, or as complicated as leaping over a couch. Just remember to plan ahead and act natural.

5. Have fun.

This one should be obvious but sometimes we forget. I realize that photo-bombing is serious business–Just remember why you’re doing it and the fun will follow.

Finally, because I love this photo so much, here is my finest photo-bombing moment (thus far):

He never saw me coming...

He never saw me coming…

To read Photo-Bombing Part I, click here.

To read Photo-Bombing Part II, click here.

Let’s chat! Are you an expert at anything? Discuss. What are some of your favorite photo-bombing techniques? OR are you a victim? Share your story.


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part II: Garden Eats

In my last post, Dad, Eileen, Gary and I were in Saranac Lake getting our local food on… I managed to pick up a few goodies….

My new addiction...

My new addiction…

 

I have a weakness for goat cheese....

I have a weakness for goat cheese….

After bringing Farmer Ben a surprise coffee, I took Gary and my Dad for a long walk on a bike path by the lake. It was hot…and sticky.

I then rushed home to clean-up and make some more delicious eats….

Here is what I whipped up….

Avocado-Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta... under a mountain of parmesan

Bruschetta… under a mountain of parmesan

What you’ll need:

  • 1 baguette…preferably local
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on bread
  • 2 large tomatoes (or 3-4 small-medium)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves (approximately)
  • 1 tbsp. or a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mince garlic.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic. Stir…cook garlic until it softens-do NOT let burn. This won’t take long. Pour garlic and oil into a metal mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Chop/dice tomatoes (this will be depend on how big you want your chunks to be–side note: chunks is not an appetizing word.) Add to mixing bowl with garlic and oil. 
  • Also, if you don’t want soupy bruschetta, drain some of the juices before adding to bowl.
  • Chop basil. (tip: stack some leaves on top of each other, roll them length-wise and slice into thin strips) Add to mixing bowl.
  • Add in remaining balsamic, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside
  • Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/4 -1/2 inch slices. Place on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Place in oven and let brown. Meanwhile, dice up your avocado and add to the bruschetta mixture–do NOT do this until ready to serve.
  • Remove toasted baguette from oven and top with bruschetta mixture.

If you’re feeling extra naughty, grate some parmesan over the top.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Garden Delight Pasta

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(Or…trying to use up all the veggies on your counter/in the fridge pasta)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (I used angel hair)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 1/2 a giant onion like I used…), diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 6 large kale leaves, sliced (I just ripped it up)
  • 2 large Swiss Chard Leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped (about 1-2 tbsp.)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or, if you have leftover bruschetta mix, that will work too!)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Heat water for pasta and cook according to package
  •                  While your water is boiling….
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add in onion, until it starts to soften.
  • Add in zucchini and eggplant, stirring occasionally, be careful not to let veggies stick/burn. Reduce heat to medium low. (This should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on your veggies/size of pan)
  • Add in Swiss chard and kale, cover and let wilt. Stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cooked and drained pasta (it should be hot) and mix in remaining ingredients.

Remove from heat and Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Favorite seasonal meal? How do you use up all of your leftover veggies? Goat cheese in pasta, yes or no?

Stay Tuned for Scenes…Part 3!


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part I

Coming off a long weekend is really hard. It’s Wednesday, but my body thinks that it’s Tuesday…and my brain just really wants it to be Friday again! Combine that with the food hangover from eating…everything… yikes! See the dilemma?

Anyway, Ben and I were super blessed this weekend as we had family visiting. My dad and his wife and their good friend Gary rolled into town on Friday night. I picked them up on Saturday morning and we took a leisurely drive to Saranac Lake, NY…about an hour away.

You see, there was this amazing local food festival going on in conjunction with the Saranac Lake Farmers’ Market. It was the Farm 2 Fork Festival. Click here for more info. Basically, it’s a celebration of local growers and producers…and lots of delicious food, demonstrations and workshops.

It was $10 for a ticket and you got to try a lot of good food, made by locals–right up my alley! Unfortunately it as a bit of a dreary day, but that didn’t stop us from getting our localvore on…

Anyway, here are some photos….

The menu

The menu

 

Dad and me.... in the drizzle...

Dad and me…. in the drizzle…

 

Plate 1...the first trip around... loved the quinoa!

Plate 1…the first trip around… loved the quinoa!

 

Dad, totally thrilled that I'm taking his picture....

Dad, totally thrilled that I’m taking his picture….

 

Plate 2: not as much as plate 1, but holy moly that ice cream was delicious!

Plate 2: not as much as plate 1, but holy moly that ice cream was delicious!

 

Speaking of ice cream....

Speaking of ice cream….

 

I loved this station...

I loved this station…

 

Fridge Pickle Bar

Fridge Pickle Bar

 

Kale and Carrots...

Kale and Carrots…

 

I love purple.

I love purple.

 

One farmer had such gorgeous flowers...I took 2341354132 photos.

One farmer had such gorgeous flowers…I took 2341354132 photos. And I loved this kohlrabi!

 

Sprouts and spuds!

Sprouts and spuds!

 

Radishes...be still my beating heart!

Radishes…be still my beating heart!

 

I love all the color!

I love all the color!

 

a closer look....

a closer look….

 

More flowers...

More flowers…

 

 

 

Anyway, as you can see…I had a really good time strolling around the market, eating and hanging out with the family…but that’s not all that we did this weekend!  Stay tuned for more scenes….

 

How was your long weekend? Any big plans for September? What did you eat this weekend?!