Green Berry Smoothie

Green Berry Smoothie_1 No. There is no such thing as a green berry (at least not that I know of). The grammar freak inside of me is having a minor meltdown right now over the misplaced modifier - "green." I considered revising the name to "Berry Green Smoothie" but foresaw the "berry" being mistaken as a descriptor of the amount of "green" in the beverage and decided against it. This is neither a smoothie made from green berries nor is it a very green smoothie. Rather, it is a smoothie made with greens and berries - spinach and strawberries, to be exact. If I wasn't determined to give the poor drink a short and, hopefully, memorable name, I might have used the ever descriptive "Spinach and Strawberry Smoothie" title, but golly that sounds boring. So, Green Berry Smoothie it is and ever shall be. In my opinion, and to further the confusion, this delicious concoction of fruits, veggies, oats, and juice tastes like none of the above. For the spinach haters in the crowd, this is probably a good thing. Green Berry Smoothie_3 Now, I love my smoothies super thick (otherwise I'd order a juice - duh) and boy does this one check that box. Thick and almost creamy, a gift from the frozen banana to our taste buds, you can sip on this bad boy through your entire mid-morning meeting - or dig into it with a spoon. It gets bonus points for filling power, preventing the otherwise unavoidable nod-off halfway through the boss's presentation on ______. This particular ingredient combo is well on its way to becoming a staple in my smoothie rotation. Look at all those beautiful ingredients! Green Berry Smoothie_Ingredients Thank you California for providing fresh berries year-round - though the ones in spring do have a little special something that even the best year-round berry farmers can't pack in to their off-season greenhouse growths. Green Berry Smoothie_Ingredients 2 I obviously piled my glass to overflowing - that's just how I roll. But, should you be in a sharing mood, the recipe below makes a full 24 ounces so you could always split it down the middle to share with your BFF, significant other, or one lucky other meeting attendee.

Green Berry Smoothie

A fantastic mid-morning pick-me-up.

  • 1 banana, sliced and frozen
  • 5 – 8 strawberries (depending upon size), hulled
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup ice
  • ½ cup apple juice

Place ingredients into blender in order listed.

Press smoothie button. If you don't have a smoothie button, blend to preferred thickness.

Pour into a cup.

Top with strawberries, chia seeds, and coconut, if desired.

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Mini Pumpkin Pies

Mini Pumpkin Pies_plated Growing up, there were several dishes that only made the menu on certain holidays. Honey baked ham at Easter, monkey bread on Christmas morning, and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. That was it. If you were absent, sick, or just forgot to grab a bite, you had 365 days until you got another shot. You can probably imagine the chaos that filled the home with 18 - 50 people all vying for the same piece of bread or slice of pie at the same time. Let's not forget about the "her slice is bigger" or "he got more monkey bread than me" argument. Cue the "it's not fair" whining and you have a fantastic start to the day. The way we'd cry and argue, you would think we were starved the rest of the year or that there wasn't plenty to go around. We weren't and there was. We simply understood just how special these dishes were and wanted to get our fill. If that meant a sister or cousin didn't get his or hers, then so be it. Survival of the fittest. We do better now. To avoid such chaos and mayhem at my son's daycare (they have a Thanksgiving lunch and every family brings something), I opted for individual pumpkin pies (we were signed up for pumpkin pie). This way, each serving was identical and, big bonus for the caregivers, no knife cutting or messy serving. In fact, these are most definitely finger food so no forks needed! As you can see, I opted against the traditional dallop of whipped cream per my husband's suggestion. I guess he felt that a bunch of kids under the age of 5 probably didn't need the extra sugar right before nap time. With or without the whipped cream, these mini pumpkin pies are delicious. Just be careful, they go down way too easily! Mini Pumpkin Pies_stacked We have taken these to several parties and get-togethers this season and they have always been a hit with kids and adults alike. It's a bonus that they are so easy, if a bit time consuming. Though, if you use store bought, ready to go mini shells, your workload will be cut by 3/4. I don't think the ready-made shells taste quite as good - they tend to be tougher and crispier - but that is just my humble opinion. I am thinking of capitalizing upon the success of these mini pumpkin pies and giving a boxed assortment to friends, family, colleagues this holiday season. What do you think?

Mini Pumpkin Pies

  • 1 1/2 batches pastry dough (store bought or homemade)
  • Pumpkin pie filling (I use the Libby's recipe on the back of the can)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place a rack in the middle.

Prepare the pumpkin pie filling according to the recipe on the back on the can or using your favorite. Set aside.

Roll the pastry dough to about 1/8" thick. Using a small circle cookie cutter (or a glass prep bowl, like I did. Not super efficient or easy, but it gets the job done), cut as many circles as you can fit. Pull up the excess dough. Place each circle into one of the mini muffin tins.

Note: To prevent the dough from getting too warm, a good practice is to cut it in half. Work with one half while leaving the other wrapped in saran wrap in the fridge.

Repeat the roll, cut, pick up, & place process until you have filled the entire tray.

Using a tablespoon, fill each mini pie crust.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until done.

Allow them to cool in the tin for 5 - 10 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack until they reach room temperature.

I have found that 1 batch of dough makes about 30 mini pies, but there is always leftover filling. You can either dump the filling or get the second batch of dough and do another round (hence the extra 1/2 dough in the ingredient list).

If you do this, you will have about 1/2 of the second dough leftover. You can use mini cookie cutters to cut leaves or other seasonal shapes to place on top of the mini pies while baking for an extra festive kick.

Serve with whipped cream.

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Infused Water

Let’s face it. Water is boring. 64 ounces of it a day can get old quickly, so why not mix it up, change it up every now and then? I mean, you wouldn’t wear the same black pencil skirt and white blouse all day every day, would you? No. You add pizazz, sparkle, and fun to your wardrobe – and probably to your desk, your home, and your food. So, let’s give boring water a face lift. You could go out and buy lots of different fancy waters from specialty grocery stores, but that might end up costing you just as much as an actual face lift. For the cost your morning latte and in the amount of time it takes you to shave, you can make a gallon of water a day for a week. Yes, you heard me right; $5 and 5 minutes are all you need. I’m talking about infused water. I have long made lemon water (I think most of us have). But why stop there? Again with the boring and monotonous. Pick up your favorite produce item, slice it up, drop it in water, let it sit for a few hours to overnight. Presto – delicious, fun, refreshing water that just might have you craving it in the afternoon instead of that 8th cup of joe. Oh, and when you've finished the water and are ready to move on, toss those citrus slices down the drain (except the limes, they're too tough), turn on the water and the garbage disposal, and let it run for about 30 seconds. Take a deep breath: your sink and drain now smell fantastic! Some of my favorite infused waters (all quantities assume 1 gallon of water):
  • Strawberry (about 10 – 12 strawberries sliced vertically)
  • Lemon Lime (½ of a lemon sliced, 1 lime sliced)
  • Cucumber (1 cucumber sliced)
  • Cucumber Lemon Lime (½ of a lemon sliced, 1 lime sliced, ½ of a cucumber sliced)
  • Cucumber Mint Lemon (½ of a cucumber sliced, 8 – 10 mint leaves, ½ of a lemon sliced)
  • Berry (about 5 – 8 strawberries sliced vertically, about 10 blackberries halved)
  • Orange (1 orange sliced)
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