Make-Ahead Smoothies ♥

Make-Ahead Smoothies
A great tip for smoothie makers, how to make them ahead of time: Just make 'em, that's it.

So am I the last smoothie lover to figure out that smoothies can be made ahead of time?! If so, sorry, move on with your day, I'll try to do better next week. :-) Otherwise, join me in this life-changing smoothie revelation:

Easy prep ahead of time, all that washing and chopping done all at once and out of the way for the week (or at least three or four days).
Good-sense portion control, a great feature since I don't know about you, but a blenderful of smoothie just calls to me, "Drink me nowwww, NOW I say!"
An easy on-the-go, out-the-door breakfast, a quick after-swim snack all ready and waiting in the fridge.

Rhubarb Curd ♥

Rhubarb Curd in a Greek Yogurt Parfait with Rhubarb Curd & Brown Sugar Lemon Curd
Today's fun and easy rhubarb recipe: A take-off on lemon curd, not quite so tart but definitely "rhubarb sour" and with gorgeous color, especially in this easy and oh-so-pretty parfait.

Who says that lemon curd has to be made with lemons? Ahh, well yes, of course, lemon curd must be made with lemons and in my world, always always as Brown Sugar Lemon Curd, my Canadian family's signature recipe. But a couple of years back, my dear friend Mary served a couple of fruit curds for a book club dessert and while I've lost track of those recipes (mango perhaps? raspberry?), the idea of a fruit curd stuck.

Enter a handful of beautiful rhubarb from last Saturday's trip to the farmers market. Rhubarb custard pie? Muffins? (I'm still on the hunt for my go-to rhubarb muffin recipe. Rhubarb lovers, I'd love to try your muffin recipe if you'd be willing to share, especially if it's less-sweet and made with at least some whole-grain flour.) My mom's rhubarb bars or rhubarb torte? Instead I settled on this simple curd. Great call, Alanna!

RHUBARB REPORT So the beautiful Canadian Red rhubarb hauled from Minnesota (thank you, Auntie Meryl!) to Missouri last year is still alive, despite: a hot-hot-hot and dry-dry-dry summer in 2011; a neophyte weeder who luckily stopped short of digging up those "weeds with pretty leaves"; and just last week, a blast of Round-Up from a clueless rhubarb-hater. YIKES. The good news is, mine is no hothouse rhubarb, it is TOUGH stuff. Pies to come!

Chunky 'Choke & Chickpea Chow ♥
aka Chunky Artichoke & Garbanzo Spread

Chunky 'Choke & Chickpea Chow
Today's vegetable recipe: A great veg(etari)an sandwich spread, a sort of hummus meets artichoke dip. Weight Watchers, just 1 or 2 points, that's because the dense calories of chickpeas have been lightened up with virtually calorie-free artichokes. Vegetarian and when made with vegan mayonnaise, not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

Cha-Ching! When the word dancer in me noticed the chance to title this recipe with three CHs in a row, twas no chore to challenge myself to channel a fourth. "Chow" fit the bill! Chafing, I know, to my chagrin! But it might have been worse. You just don't the temptation to turn this into a mushroom spread too, you know, with chantarelles, perhaps with cheese and leaves of chive, served on china? And eaten with chopsticks! Please, tee hee, won't this arouse a small chortle?

Greek Spinach-Asparagus-Potato Gratin ♥
(Spinaki me Sparaggia Orgraten))

Greek Spinach-Asparagus-Potato Gratin (Spinaki me Sparaggia Orgraten)
Today's extra-special spinach recipe: A gratin that starts with a layer of potato, then is topped with a thick layer of the best "creamed spinach" I've ever made (or tasted). The secret? The spinach is mixed with asparagus! What a spring treat!

Three or four times a year, we share a dinner with a group of food-savvy friends who are the culinary branch of the Missouri Mycological Society. Each dinner carries a theme. Last month, we celebrated a "Greek Orthodox Easter" by cooking a whole lamb (note to vegetarians) at a green-as-summer outdoor venue west of St. Louis, part of Shaw Nature Reserve. I love-love-love this group! It's plain fun to cook with/for smart and food-obsessed like-minded food people and I also appreciate the forum to cook dishes slightly more complicated. Plus I always learn something!

And here's what I learned with our assigned dish, a vegetarian casserole called σπανάκι με σπαράγγια ογκρατέν, that's Spinaki me Sparaggia Orgraten [pronounced spah-NAH-kee meh spah-RAHG-yah oh-grah-TEN]. Spinach and asparagus are one very magical combination! The combination makes the very best – by far – creamed spinach I've ever tasted. I wondered if the bottom layer of potatoes might be gratuitous – but once the creaminess drops to the bottom to cook the potatoes, oh my, the potatoes are good too.