Homemade Pop Tarts

Picture of my delicious pop tarts!

Homemade “Pop Tarts” are really just pocket shaped jam pies. They are so easy to make and a fun project with kids. You can make the pie dough days, weeks, or months in advance. Just store in freezer until two days before you need it, and thaw in fridge.

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Pie Crust Dough

This recipe is good for savory or sweet pies. Makes two crusts.

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour level (see GF option below)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 16 tbl cold, unsalted butter cut in pieces (see vegan option below)
  • ¼ – ½ cup ice water

Combine flour, salt, sugar in food processor**, add butter and pulse until crumbly with pea size butter, sprinkle with water and pulse until it holds together, do not use too much water.  Form into disc shape (makes it easier to roll out), wrap in parchment paper, and refrigerate one hour minimum (so the fat is cold which gives you a crispier crust). If you are going to put it into freezer, put in plastic bag and write the date on it. I’ve used dough that’s been in the freezer for months. If you want to do this GLUTEN FREE or VEGAN, use a mixture of 70% millet flour to 30% tapioca flour and use coconut oil instead of butter.

**If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop ingredients together by hand using a pastry cutter, but I find this gives you a chewier crust. As always, use the best ingredients you can. I’m obsessive about using butter from pastured cows such as Kerrygold.

To make Pop Tarts

  • 2 pie crusts
  • 1/2 cup your favorite jam
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 a lemon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Roll out dough in rectangular shape, then cut into rectangles about 4 inches wide by 12 inches long. Mix 1/2-cup of your favorite jam with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with maybe a squeeze of lemon juice to offset the sweetness. Spread it onto HALF of the rectangle, leaving 1/2-inch around the edge, then fold the rectangle over to create a packet. “Crimp” the edges with a fork. Bake at 400 for 18 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool. If you want, mix a little powdered sugar and water together to create icing, and drizzle on top COOL pop tarts and allow to dry.

Recipe: Spinach Artichoke Dip

There is a big chain restaurant that I visit a couple of times a year, simply because I ADORE their spinach artichoke dip. The other day I thought to myself, “I need a healthy version of that recipe!” And here it is!!!image-1-3

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It’s so much healthier and lighter than the restaurant version, and so easy to make, that I’ve been making it every weekend. This will be a really fun appetizer in the holidays. If I don’t have the artichoke hearts and spinach on hand I’ll throw in other veggies such as olives and kale and I’ve enjoyed those versions just as much!

A couple of notes: I like baby spinach better than regular spinach because it isn’t as “grainy” and I do 99% of my cooking with ghee, but if you don’t have any then use some other high-heat flavorless oil.

Have fun and buy organic whenever you can.

Ember Living Greek Yogurt, Feta Cheese, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1-tbl ghee (use cooking oil of your choice if you don’t have ghee)
1-medium onion chopped
4-cloves garlic chopped
9-ounces artichoke hearts chopped coarsely (I used frozen because most hearts come packed in oil)
1-tsp salt
12-ounces baby spinach washed
16-ounces whole fat plain Greek yogurt
7-ounces feta cheese crumbled
1/4-cup “Italian-blend” cheese

Saute ghee and onion on medium-high flame for 3-5 minutes until softened, add garlic and turn down to medium heat. Toss until garlic begins to turn color (30-seconds about). Add artichoke hearts and salt and saute 2-minutes. Add spinach, stir and cook until fully wilted. Strain off excess liquid. Grab a casserole dish (about 9×9 inches) and mix everything above with the yogurt and feta. Taste and add more salt if you want. Spread out evenly. Sprinkle with Italian cheese and bake at 400-degrees for 20-minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Serve WARM with tortilla chips or bread.

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A Yummy Vegetarian Recipe and Why eating less meat is good for the planet

I was asked by a reader to post a vegetarian recipe that the whole family would love. This recipe is one I developed based on a packaged food that Whole Foods offers in their stores. I think I’ve done a good job of getting the flavors right, however, I’m more of a “cook by feel” cook, so you might have to play with the measurements (or lack there of.)

Curried Pearl Couscous with Eggplant and Cranberries
1 tbl olive oil
1 small eggplant cubed

1 large portobello mushroom cubed
3 cups water
1 cup pearl (aka Israeli) couscous (available on-line easily)
1/4 cup wild rice
2 cups dried cranberries
1 bunch mint minced
curry powder (to color and slightly flavor), salt, pepper and honey to flavor

Try and buy all organic and farmer’s market products. Put olive oil in a large pot (about 8 qts) to heat up. Once hot, saute eggplant and portobello for a few minutes with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Add water, couscous, rice and enough curry powder to color water a mustardy yellow (maybe about 1 tsp?) cover to boil for about 24-minutes until all liquid is gone. Couscous will plump up considerably. Take off heat and remove lid and add honey to sweeten slightly (I do this completely by taste, but perhaps 1/4 cup of honey), mix well. Allow to cool completely. Once cool add cranberries and mint and any additional salt, pepper or honey. Refrigerate for a few hours. Variations: I’ve used 2 medium green zucchini in place of mushroom and golden raisins in place of cranberries successfully.

Why eating less meat is good for the planet

Personally I have no ethical problems with eating meat that is raised and killed in a humane manner (free range, no antibiotics, natural diet fed, un-cloned, etc.) However, we as Americans do tend to eat much more meat than is good for us, health-wise, or the planet, environment-wise.

Although at one point both my husband and I were vegans, we felt that eating no meat didn’t work for us. However, both for our own health and for the planet (and really, doesn’t it usually seem that doing right by one does right by the other?) we do limit our meat-eating to one meal a day and many days we end up not eating meat at all.

Why is eating meat bad for the planet? A few statistics:

– The livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities (and a larger % of nitrous oxide and methane which are even worse for global-warming than CO2)
– Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface
– Clearing forests to creature pasture is a major driver of deforestation such as in the Amazon where some 70 percent of former forests have become grazing pastures
– To create 1 pound of beef requires 4.8 pounds of grain and 50,000 liters of water

More on this:
So You’re an Environmentalist; Why Are You Still Eating Meat? by Jim Motavalli of E Magazine
Livestock a major threat to environment, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, November 2006.
Save the World, Don’t Eat Meat on Brad’s Brain Blog

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