Archive | April, 2012

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

30 Apr

A few fun and different Mother’s Day gift ideas:

On the NRDC Green gifts website, you can help support the local and organic food movement while also buying a great cookbook for your mom, grandmother, aunt or sister!  Image

Two other cute ideas I saw on one of my favorite blogs (Progressive Pioneer) are Jenny Kostecki-Shaw’s new project, the Mother’s Wisdom Deck.


And a fun project to make with your kids — May Day cones — which are traditionally for May 1 but I am thinking they make a cute Mother’s Day present.


Mother’s Day cards

25 Apr


It’s time to make Mother’s Day cards!  My daughter and her friend had a great time using a kit I found at Paper Source. They could still make them by hand but the kit gave them an extra touch of creativity.  And they both made beautiful cards that they can give to their mothers (me!), grandmothers, sisters….Image

Healthy Thin Mints

23 Apr

My daughter asked for thin mints the other day so we decided to make a healthier version of them than the ones you can buy in a box.

Here is our recipe, adapted from Handle the Heat:

Makes about 24 cookies

4 ounces (or 1 stick) of unsalted butter (we used organic)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened organic cocoa

1/4 tsp (plus a bit more) sea salt

3/4 cups whole wheat pastry

Chocolate Peppermint Coating:

1/2 pound good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (we used Scharffen berger)

peppermint extract to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Make the dough:

In a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the honey and continue to cream.  Add in vanilla, salt and cocoa. Mix until creamy like frosting.  Add flour and mix until batter no longer dusty.  Don’t overmix.

Knead the dough, using flour on your surface, and place in plastic bag.  Flatten to 3/4″ pancake and put in freezer for 20 minutes.  Using a lot of flour, roll out dough to 1/8″ thick and use 1-1/2″ to 2″ cookie cutters (round or heart-shaped or whatever shape you like).  Place them on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Let cool completely on wire rack.  In the meantime, melt the chocolate and add the peppermint one drop at a time to taste.  Don’t overdo it on the peppermint.

Drop the cookies into the melted chocolate for a thin coating.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer or refrigerator until set.

The original recipe called for powdered sugar instead of honey.  Our dough was a bit sticky so next time I may try to use an organic powdered sugar instead.  Another thing to try might be putting the peppermint in the dough instead of the coating.


Gray whales and Earth Day

16 Apr

There is a very special place in Mexico where gray whale mothers come to give birth to their babies.   They travel thousands of miles from Alaska to this pristine lagoon in San Ignacio, Mexico because the mothers know this is a safe place for their babies.

photos from Laguna San Ignacio

This Earth Day, I want to do something to help continue to protect these very special creatures.  Like our children, the wildlife on our planet count on us to keep them out of harm’s way.

So this Sunday , I am honoring my young daughter by buying an acre of land surrounding this lagoon in her name.

I am joining with The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pierce Brosnan (check out his video) to help save this last whale nursery on Earth.  Please join me too!

Happy Earth Day!


7 Apr


I have always wanted to be able to make a delicious chocolate mousse ever since I was 10 years old.

I still remember a day in 5th grade when I tried to make mousse for a school bake sale.  I made it the night before and the next morning ran to the refrigerator so excited to bring it to school.  And what did I find — a RUNNY chocolate mousse.  I was SO DISAPPOINTED.

Ever since that day, I have always wanted to find the perfect recipe and serve chocolate mousse in beautiful demi-tasse cups for dessert.

I found this recipe today on The Family Dinner website (a great resource!) and it has gotten me closer to the PERFECT CHOCOLATE MOUSSE.

The recipe says to beat by hand for 5 minutes.  At 5 minutes my mousse was not thick enough so I beat with a hand-held mixer for another 7 minutes which ended up being too long.  The mousse still tastes delicious (I didn’t even add sugar) but it is not as pretty as the picture on the website.  I started by sitting my bowl in water and ice but then switched over to sitting my bowl on top of an ice pack which seemed to work better.

I used Scharffen Berger bittersweet (70% cacao) dark chocolate.  And didn’t add any sugar.  Next time, I might add a little salt or vanilla.  Hazelnut flavoring might be nice too.  A lot to try still!

I am very excited about this recipe.  I can see my childhood dream coming true soon of serving the perfect mousse in tiny individual cups. Just a little bit more experimenting!  And I still need to go out and buy the cute little cups.  Will send you a photo soon! But in the meantime, here are photos from round 1.

Healthy Desserts

1 Apr

The word healthy and desserts don’t always go together but here are 2 recipes that taste good and are healthy too!

One is from The Family Dinner website and one from the Progressive Pioneer blog — both of these sites are great resources for healthy food.  And these 2 recipes are easy enough for your kids to help make them too.

In the recipe from The Family Dinner website, I used almonds instead of cashews because I love almonds in dessert.  I did add a little honey when I made it.  And next time, I would try adding dates.  I think that would be a good addition.  I used it on top of a mixture of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.  And added a few pomegranate seeds on top for some extra color!

From Progressive Pioneer, I made these lemon bars on Valentine’s Day for a brunch and they are excellent.  Not too sweet and delicious. One of my favorite desserts ever.


My next challenge is to find a healthy chocolate dessert!  Will report back soon with a couple great recipes.