Quick Tip: How to Pit Cherries Without a Pitter

Posted by Jennifer Lee on May 21, 2012 5 Comments

Pitting cherries can be as easy as child's play! Here's a simple way to pit cherries without a pitter. 

A cherry pitter may be a convenient gadget when it comes to making cherry pie, but in the service of clutter control it's a kitchen tool that I can live without. Instead, when cherry season is in full swing we use a simple tool that's already in our kitchen: a pastry tip. My kids love this pitting project -- but be warned, it can get messy! Be sure to wear clothes that can handle a stain or two.

How to Pit Cherries Without a Pitter

Step 1: Wash the cherries. Find a pastry tip, preferably star shaped.

How to pit cherries without a pitter: Step 1

 

Step 2: Remove the stems.

how to pit cherries without a pitter: step 2

 

Step 3: Place the cherry, stem side down, on top of the pastry tip. Press gently and presto, out pops the pit!

how to pit cherries without a pitter: step 3


Step 4: Enjoy!

how to pit cherries without a pitter: step 4


Do you have a trick for how to pit cherries without a pitter? Share your tips!

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Simple Cherry Compote (52 New Foods, Week 20)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on May 21, 2012 1 Comment

Life’s a bowl of cherries – especially when you’re enjoying the simple pleasures of homemade cherry compote.

On an early morning stroll my daughter spotted a cherry tree. Gazing at the branches, hanging heavy with bright red beauties, she wondered, “Can we try cherries this week?”

Feature Recipe: Simple Cherry Compote

cherry compote

It is impossible for me to resist a summer roadside stand calling out, “Fresh, local cherries!” Faced with an overflowing basket of beautiful, bright red gems, we had ample opportunity to experiment with this simple summer fruit. One of our favorite treats is to drizzle warm berry compote over homemade vanilla ice cream or yogurt. Why not give it a whirl with cherry compote?

Homemade Cherry Compote

Adapted from Small Kitchen College

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: about 12 minutes
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
1-pint fresh cherries
1 Tbsp honey
½ cup water


Directions:

1)    Wash and pit the cherries. See this easy trick for how to pit cherries without a pitter. This part is a little messy, but great fun for the kids!

2)    Add the water and honey to small saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until thin syrup forms. About 7 minutes.

3)    Add the cherries. Cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook longer for a more jam-like texture.

4)    Serve warm over homemade vanilla ice cream, or cool completely and add to your favorite yogurt parfait.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Sweet!

What we liked: Pitting the cherries was the best (and messiest) part of this adventure. Be sure to wear clothes that can handle a stain or two! We also reserved a portion of our cherries for the freezer. Cherry frozen yogurt, anyone?  

What is your favorite way to prepare cherries? Share your tips and recipes!

Next up: Our local farmers’ market is back in full swing! Can’t wait to see what our friends have in store for us this week. Stay tuned!

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Steamed artichokes.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook and Twitter to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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How to Cook Artichokes the Easy Way! (52 New Foods, Wk 19)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on May 15, 2012 3 Comments

Teach your kids how to cook artichokes for a fun and tasty family treat.

Standing at attention, peaks pointing to the sun, a beautiful bounty of artichokes lined the tables of our local farmers’ market. Their prickly appearance was a little off-putting to my budding new food adventurers. “How do you eat those spike-y leaves?” pondered my five year old. Whispering, I replied, “Hidden inside is a delicious, secret treasure. Would you like to find it?” With that, we were off on our food adventure of the week: learning how to cook artichokes!

Feature Recipe: Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce

How to Cook Artichokes

The beauty of artichokes is that they are so simple to make, they look glamorous when they’re done, and eating them is a tasty, fun adventure in itself! At our local market we found everything from teeny tiny purple bundles to glorious green giants, so we decided to try a variety to compare tastes and textures.

How to Cook Artichokes the Easy Way!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
4 large artichokes
3 Tbsp butter
1 lemon



Directions:
1)   
Let the kids trim the sharp ends of the leaves with a pair of kitchen scissors.

2)    Using a large knife, cut off the top two rows of the artichoke, then the stem. This part of the recipe is better suited to a parent.

3)    Add about two inches of water to a double boiler. Bring to a boil.

4)    Place the artichoke in the basket of the double boiler and cover.

5)    Steam for about 30 minutes, or until the leaves can be easily removed. Check the pot occasionally to make sure the water hasn’t boiled away.

6)    Once cooked, remove the artichokes and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

7)    While the artichokes are cooling, slowly melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Mix in the juice from one lemon.

8)    Serve the sauce in individual dipping bowls alongside your freshly steamed artichokes for a fun family treat.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: We heart the heart!

What we liked: Learning how to cook artichokes is easy and fun! The kids loved helping to prepare the recipe by snipping the pointy ends off the leaves. They enjoyed peeling back the layers and noting how the texture changed as we got closer to the hidden treasure. Naturally, the heart was the best part!  

Do you have a favorite way to prepare artichokes? Share your tips!

Next up: We’re off to the market to find what’s fresh and in season. Tune in next week for another fun and easy food adventure!

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Healthy Lettuce Wraps.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook and Twitter to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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Healthy Chicken Lettuce Wraps (52 New Foods, Week 18)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on May 08, 2012 2 Comments

Plan a "build your own dinner" night with healthy chicken lettuce wraps, featuring fresh mint from the garden.

As much as I love my greens, I am certainly not a green thumb! So when it comes to our garden I always pick easy to grow, hearty plants that can tolerate a beginner like me. Mint is one of my best friends in this regard. Early this spring, we planted a small pot of mint and within a few weeks it was brimming over the pot, literally crawling it’s way into our kitchen. We decided to make it a feature in our new food of the week: Healthy Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Feature Recipe: Healthy Chicken Lettuce Wraps from The Family Dinner

Healthy Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The Family Dinner has become one of my go-to books for easy, family friendly recipes. I can always rely on the fantastic Laurie David to come through with dinner suggestions that my whole family will love. Her recipe for healthy chicken lettuce wraps is no exception. We simplified the recipe a bit to work with what we already had in the pantry. Here’s how we made them:


Healthy Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Prep time: 15 minutes
Makes 4 to 6 servings

 
Ingredients for the chicken filling:

1 lb ground chicken
¼ cup chicken stock
¼ cup chopped mint leaves
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 slice fresh ginger, finely chopped
Juice from 1 lime
2 tsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Ingredients for the wraps:

1 lettuce head
1 cucumber, cut into long thin strips
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
A handful of mint leaves
1 lime, sliced into wedges

Directions:

1)    Heat a wok, then add the vegetable oil, garlic and ginger. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.

2)    Add chicken stock, then the chicken, breaking it up into small pieces until browned.

3)    Add the fish sauce and mix well. Sauté a few minutes longer.

4)    Transfer the cooked chicken to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients for the chicken filling and mix well.

5)    Serve the fixings in individual bowls and let each person build their own wrap. Include a side of spicy green beans for an extra boost of color.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: It’s a wrap!

What we liked: It’s flexible and fun! We started out with the Thai version of Laurie’s dish. With a simple tweak of the ingredients, swapping salsa for the fish sauce and including black beans in the mix, we created another version of this easy dish that was perfect for our Mexican fiesta night.  

What is your favorite easy weeknight dish? Do tell!

Next up: Artichokes
Despite their prickly appearance, artichokes were a winner at our table. Next week, we’ll feature an easy recipe that will make artichokes a welcome guest at your family dinner too!

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Pineapple Smoothie.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook and Twitter to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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Meet Alotta Colada: A Pineapple Smoothie (52 New Foods, Week 17)

Posted by Jennifer Lee on May 01, 2012 0 Comments

A recent trip to Hawaii left us longing for the tastes of the islands. What better way to bring back a sweet Hawaiian breeze than with a healthy pineapple smoothie!

Sun, sand and lazy days spent playing in the surf. It was a recipe for a perfect Spring Break vacation. This year we took the kids to Hawaii, and one of our favorite snacks (and a new food for my daughter) was the deliciously sweet pineapple that was in abundant supply. One taste of a virgin Pina Colada and my kids were hooked. Not surprising given the sugary syrup, so I decided to create a healthy version of our favorite island drink that we could all feel good about enjoying.

Feature Recipe: Pineapple Smoothie

Pineapple Smoothie

Most kids would happily jump at the sweet, juicy flavor of a fresh pineapple. For reasons beyond my ability to understand, my daughter was hesitant. It took a visit to Hawaii to change her mind. Whether it was the warm island breezes or the myriad ways that pineapple works into island cooking, my daughter ventured to try this sweet fruit on a recent family jaunt to Hawaii – and she loved it!

“Healthy” and “Hawaii” don’t always go hand in hand, so I decided to create a healthy version of a Pina Colada that features fresh organic pineapple (to avoid the chemicals and concerns sometimes associated with this fruit).




Alotta Colada: A Pineapple Smoothie

Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
½ organic pineapple
½ organic banana
1 cup orange juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
6oz coconut milk yogurt (or substitute with non-fat Greek yogurt)
6 ice cubes

Directions:
1)   
Slice the pineapple into wedges, making sure to remove the tough center and any pieces of the rough outer skin.
2)   
Load all of the ingredients, ice cubes first, into a blender.
3)   
Blend for 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth.

Serve with a wedge of pineapple on the side of your glass. Enjoy!

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Blend it up!

What we liked: This tasty treat makes a refreshing afternoon snack. The coconut milk yogurt (found at most natural foods stores) can easily be substituted with Greek yogurt for an extra boost of protein. It’s reminiscent of a Pina Colada, but much healthier!

What is your favorite healthy smoothie recipe? Do tell!

Next up: Thai Chicken Wraps
The mint we planted earlier this spring is bursting out of our little garden. What better way to use it than as a feature in Laurie David’s tasty Thai Chicken Wraps! Who’s joining us for dinner?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Healthy Caesar Salad.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit children’s nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook and Twitter to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.

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