Today is your birthday! Today you are you!...There is no one alive that is you-er than you!
A birthday is a special day to celebrate. It’s an even more special day when friends and/or the kids are involved. And, who says a birthday must be yours, or a loved ones, to celebrate? Celebrate someone else’s very special day, like Dr. Seuss!
Although we lost Theodore Seuss Giesel in 1991, the 87-year-old was responsible for bringing countless smiles and laughter to all those with whom he made an impact, especially those who learned to read and rhyme through his many whimsical stories. Every year on March 2, schools across the country honor Dr. Seuss during Read Across America Day. Why March 2? It is Dr. Seuss' birthday. That’s next week! Many diehard fans decide to bring the festivities home. Sharing a Seuss-family night prompts everyone to Think and wonder, wonder and think.
This year, when cooking Seuss-like, take a few moments to plan healthier ways to eat, read, and be merry. Keep the celebrations fresh and natural, leaving the artificially colored and flavored items at the store. Then, remember the possibilities reading and cooking with your friends will bring, Things may happen and often do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
Need some ideas matching food to stories?
Green Eggs and Ham: Make a grown up version of this classic by using various green vegetables and/or herbs instead of dye. The picture shown here is a modern version of green eggs and ham: a toasted baguette with a thin layer of basil pesto, topped with grain mustard scrambled eggs and crispy Prosciutto.
A pesto works beautifully because its versatility allows opportunity for all party goers to enjoy. It can be utilized as a spread, a sauce, stirred with a creamy vinaigrette, or folded into an ingredient as a seasoning. And, don’t limit your pesto experience to just basil and parsley. Dill and sage also work flawlessly.
While pesto is readily available in many stores, check out the recipes below. Besides pesto being a cinch to make, making it at home allows oil and salt control. In addition, the home pesto chef is able to choose the nuts that will be included.
ABC Book: Kids and adults alike love a great alphabet soup. How can great conversations not result from a family dinner that includes countless opportunities for word recognition?
Happy Birthday to You: Celebrate the reading of the book with a birthday cake.
Horton Hatches the Egg: Sugared puff pastry rolled and cut make Elephant Ears on which kids can giggle and nibble all at the same time.
Yertle the Turtle: Combine melted caramel squares, chocolate and pecans (or your favorite nut), and layer them with nuts at the base and chocolate at the top. Refrigerate to harden, then store in an airtight container in a cool area.
Homemade turtles are bound to bring smiles. Just be careful during preparation, as caramel can burn when handled incorrectly in its hot, melted state.
Cat in The Hat: Have you ever indulged in a Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil? Stack it and make the Cat’s Hat for a fun snack.
Or, create a parfait with yogurt and a red fruit, like strawberries, raspberries, or watermelon.
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: What wiggles, jiggles, and prompts us to giggle? Jello, of course! Prepare several different colors of Jello, according to package directions, for a snack during reading time.
What do you think? Are you ready to bring a little fun into reading? Let’s all wish Dr. Seuss a wonderful happy birthday and thank him by honoring his special day with delicious and healthy food.
Herb Pesto Sauce
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, loosely packed
½ cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
1 tsp. sugar
¼ cup vegetable broth (or water)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped
Combine all the ingredients, except for the broth, in the food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Gradually add the broth, starting with 2 Tbsp. Process to preferred texture. (Makes about ¾ -1 cup)
Fresh Basil Pesto
1 lb. fresh basil (about 6-8 cups loosely packed leaves, stems and branches removed)
4 garlic cloves
½ cup olive oil (to taste)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups pine nuts
Rinse and pat dry the basil. Transfer the leaves into a food processor. Pulse until the leaves have been chopped well, before adding garlic. Run the processor, streaming the olive oil through the lid opening, in portioned amounts, in a steady stream. Turn off the machine and scrape down the sides. Add cheese and nuts and run until you get the consistency you want. Add more oil if you want it more like a sauce. Store in an air tight container. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for several months.
1 cup chopped cilantro
3 finely chopped garlic cloves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Combine the garlic, salt, cumin, and chopped cilantro in a food processor and pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides and add the vinegar, then pulse again for about 30 seconds. While the processor is going, add the olive oil in a slow stream. Process for about 2 minutes or until the sauce is to your preferred smoothness.
1 bunch of dill
1 large garlic clove
¾ cup walnuts
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup (plus) extra virgin olive oil
Put all the ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides. Turn on the processor and, while it is going, add the olive oil in a slow stream. Process for about 2 minutes or until the sauce is to your preferred smoothness.
¼ cup whole almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 ½ fresh sage leaves
¾ cup fresh Italian Parsley leaves
3 ounces cream cheese
½ tsp. fine sea salt (or kosher salt)
1/8 tsp pepper
(about) 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for storing
In a food processor, combine almonds and garlic and pulse to roughly chop.
Add sage and parsley. Pulse to chop. With the motor running, slowly pour the oil, processing until fully incorporated. Use immediately or transfer into a small container and cover with a thin layer of oil, and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
**When working with pestos, gradually add oil. You may or may not need the amounts noted in the recipes here. Work according to preference and textures.
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup celery, diced
¼ cup carrot, diced
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup ABC Pasta
1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a medium sized pot and sauté the onion, celery, and carrots for about 5 minutes, until tender, but not mushy. Add the tomatoes, seasoning, and salt and pepper. Carefully pour in broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 10 minutes. Increase heat back to high and bring the heat back to a boil, add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until pasta is tender. Serves 4-6
(For storing, refer to our for details.)
Palmiers (Elephant Ears) Recipe
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 sheets puff pastry, defrosted
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Spread ¾ cup of the sugar on a flat surface. Unfold each sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar. Spread the remaining ¾ cup of the sugar on top of the pastry, spreading it on across all four sides to get an even layer of sugar. Roll the dough into a 13 by 13-inches square (approximate), allowing the sugar to sink into the pastry on both sides. Working two opposite sides, one at a time, roll each side towards the center, stopping in the middle. Then, like closing a book, fold 1 half over the other half, making about layers. Chill for 5-7 minutes.
Slice the dough into thin slices, placing each cookie cut side up on lined baking sheets. Bake for 6 minutes until caramelized and brown on the bottom. Remove from oven. Flip over and bake 3 to 5 minutes more, or until the other side is caramelized as well. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.