Swedish Tea Ring

Written by Megan of Stetted.

When I was a girl, I never really noticed how the small moments of our ancestry touched our family celebrations. I only knew that my taste buds had not evolved to the point of being able to enjoy the spiced breads my grandfather would share, and that I could eat a lot of the fried fattigmund cookies that appeared at Christmastime.

Now that I have a child of my own, I’m wishing I had spent more time getting to know the foods of our family, from the Germans on my mother’s side to the English and Swedish on my father’s side. The Swedish part of me I find most intriguing – perhaps because it is a country I know little about to begin with. Wisconsin and Minnesota are full of people with Swedish heritage, but sadly it seems several of the Scandinavian traditions are going away as the last immigrants are leaving us.

This Christmas, I’ve decided we need to add back some of the “Old World” to our lives. Our morning will be spent opening presents, of course, but we’ll also sit down to a breakfast of Swedish Tea Ring, a sweet cardamom-flavored bread that appears on numerous Swedish tables all year long.

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One-Pot Lemon Chicken and Zucchini with Rice

Written by Megan of Stetted.

My son just turned five the other day, and while that means we have yet to dive into the busy world of elementary school, I’m already having horrifying visions of homework and sports and fundraisers and PTA meetings.

OK, it’s probably not as bad as many of the parents I know make it seem (please don’t tell me if it really is that bad) but I am still trying to get a head start on planning for the future by building up a repertoire of dinners that are easy to make, don’t use a sinkful of dishes, and are family approved. One-pot meals to the rescue!

We’ve talked about one-pot meals on Simple Bites before – they can range from classics in the slow-cooker to quick stovetop dishes. But my favorite way to make a one-pot dish is to use my dutch oven.

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How to Grill Whole Fish

Written by Megan of Stetted.

How was your summer vacation? I had the good fortune to spend a chunk of August with my family in a cozy riverside house in Wisconsin, doing all that vacation entails: practically nothing.

One thing I made sure to do while we were vacationing was to have plenty of real food on hand (to help balance out all those fireside s’mores). We weren’t too far away from a couple of cities with farmer’s markets, making it easy to load up on veggies. And of course, we were housed at the perfect location for rounding out the meals – the river was full of fish.

At first I was a little … concerned about cooking whole fish. It turns out, though, that cooking whole fish is a breeze, and only slightly more messy than cooking a fillet.

Grilling is my preferred method for cooking the fish, but if you don’t own one or have already retired your grill for the season, whole fish can also be baked in the oven with similar preparation.

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How to Make Slow-Cooker Ketchup

Next week we’re going to be talking all about canning, but I couldn’t resist getting a head start today with these gorgeous tomatoes and a fuss-free recipe for homemade ketchup.

If you have kids in your house, chances are ketchup is one of your most-used ingredients. And why not? Sweet and tangy, ketchup, like its originator the tomato, goes great on just about everything. These days the big-name ketchup makers have been paying attention to the organic and whole-food movements, and have started offering more natural versions of their product. That’s great, but if you’re like me, you might still want to control what goes into the food your child is obsessed with.

Luckily, ketchup is quite easy to make, especially if you employ a slow cooker. The most work comes from preparing the tomatoes, which can be done ahead of time if you’re like me and not quite as deft at coring and dicing. Ketchup is perfect for the slow cooker because it takes a long time to cook away the excess liquid. Cooking it low and slow, rather than quickly on the stove, will help bring out a depth of flavor that lets the summer tomatoes shine and makes ketchup even more delicious. [Read more…]

Hemp Cocoa Bites: A wholesome and easy snack

Written by Megan of Stetted.

Did you know that snacking accounts for almost half of all eating in the United States? Try as I might to load my son up on plenty of wholesome foods during meals, we can’t seem to get away from snacking.

Since seasonal fruits and raw veggies take up a large portion of our snack menu, it’s no surprise that my son gets bored with the options and starts clamoring for something sweet and chocolatey.

While cookies used to be something that was always on hand in our kitchen, sweet baked goods (even whole grain versions) have become a special-occasion food group. I don’t mind giving my son a cookie every now and then, but when a fresh-baked pan of chocolate chip cookies is staring me in the face… well, the rest of the family will be lucky to get any.

My search for a wholesome, easy, and yes, chocolatey snack led me to something that is popular in fitness communities. Known as energy balls, energy bombs, peanut butter balls, and other monikers, these small raw treats are great to satiate your sweet tooth and provide some healthy fats and proteins. Plus, kids don’t realize they’re being duped in the health-food department.

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