Luvo Flatbreads – Product Review

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could get food from a box that was not filled with preservatives and chemicals? Believe it or not a company called Luvo has developed a line of convenience foods that accomplishes just that. Normally, boxed frozen food leaves much to be desired, in my opinion, and I prefer to limit our intake of processed foods as much as possible. (That being said I won’t pretend there aren’t a few boxes of mac and cheese in my pantry.) So I was excited to try Luvo and see if they delivered on the promise of healthy, great-tasting, and convenient food.

ABOUT LUVO

Luvo was founded on a simple idea: people should love their food – how it tastes, how it encourages a healthier lifestyle, and how it supports a more sustainable planet. Part of their mission is to support farmers and suppliers with people-, animal- and planet-friendly practices. The company uses anti-biotic free meat and poultry, and non-GMO ingredients whenever possible.

THE TASTING

Our shipment of Luvo flatbreads contained six varieties: Apple Cinnamon Ricotta, Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta, Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion & Mushroom, and Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella.

We decided to sample the breakfast flatbreads the very next day. I was looking forward to simply turning on the oven and just popping the flatbreads in. No buttering toast or cutting fruit! I envisioned a peaceful morning with time to linger over a cup of coffee before getting the kids off to school.

The Verdict is:

Although cooking these breakfast flatbreads was convenient I’m not sure if they would work in our house during the school week. Between the cooking and heating and cooling phase, it took a little over 20 minutes. A lot longer than it takes for toast. However, they would make a great option for the weekend and I did get to enjoy my coffee while they were cooking!

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

Apple-Cinnamon w/Apricot Ricotta

The Apple Cinnamon was a little too sweet and the boys thought it would be better suited as dessert instead of a breakfast choice. But everyone loved the bread and ate most of the crust edges.

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

Mushroom & Egg w/Spinach Ricotta

I really liked this one but I was in the minority. Too much green for breakfast was the consensus. Again, it was all about the wood-fired crust which crisped up beautifully in the oven. So far I was sold but the boys were not yet convinced…

Next up were the appetizer flatbreads:

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Market Vegetable w/Roasted Eggplant

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

Cherry Tomato & Mozzarella

These got much better reviews and some of the comments were:

“I like the pizza one”

“Too many little vegetable parts”

“Bread is best part”

“Pizza is my favorite”

“Did Derek Jeter really cook these?”

The Tomato and Mozzarella was the clear winner. I thought all flavors were delicious and I would definitely serve them as an appetizer at our next party. I plan on keeping a few in my freezer on hand for the holidays. They were so easy! Just simply cut them up and drizzle with the balsamic glaze for a great presentation.

Where can I find Luvo products?

Luvo products are sold in major supermarkets. Visit Luvo Inc. to find a store near you. Price for flatbreads range from $4.99 to $5.99 for a box of two. Besides flatbreads, the company also makes burritos, breakfast and dinner entrees.

And if your kids aren’t convinced try telling them about Luvo’s latest partnership with Derek Jeter, who joined the company as Brand Development Officer. My boys were definitely impressed and I believe it was the reason they were willing to try the Market Vegetable version!

Disclaimer: I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive complimentary products to sample.

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Restaurant Review: Vistro Café at Recologie

Normally I would not seek out a vegan/vegetarian restaurant but I recently had the opportunity to attend a tasting at the Vistro Café located at Recologie in New Rochelle. The owners of Recologie Lifestyle Inc., have created a beautiful loft-like space “dedicated to sustainability and a commitment to creating a healthier environment.” Vistro Café is not just a place to eat, it’s a destination to shop for Global Fair trade products, listen to poetry, and gather to hear live music or attend a lecture.

At first glance this would not appear to be a kid-friendly restaurant but I tasted several dishes that I know my kids would love. Specifically the Morrocan-inspired Empanadas and the Fontina Garbanzo Fritters. Both dishes tasted as good as they look.

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Moroccan Empanadas (VG)

Fontina Garbanzo Fritters (GF)

Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by a sampling of delicious cornbread that set the tone for the amazing meal to follow. For each course, the chefs came out and described their dishes. I felt like a judge on Top Chef as we were presented beautiful plates of food. The three chefs cooking that night were D’Amour Giovanni Green, Ihsaana Muhammad, and Sonia Urban. Each of them brought their own unique flavors and spices to their recipes.

Among my favorites were the Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew and the Black Bean soup with Caribbean spices.

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Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew (VG, GF)

Black Bean Soup (VG, GF)

Black Bean Soup (VG, GF)

And just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, a decadent Triple Chocolate Cake, with a side of Ginger Zing Cookies was presented. Who knew gluten-free could taste this good???

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Triple Chocolate Cake & Ginger Cookies (VG, GF)

Recologie’s Vistro Café is located at 49 Lawton St., New Rochelle. The restaurant is now open for dinner Thursday-Saturday from 5-9pm. And it’s BYOB! The smaller café connected to the retail gallery offers a lunch menu of soups, salads and paninis.

Visit the Recologie website or follow on Facebook for monthly happenings and events. There are music programs for adults and children, poetry readings, a monthly songwriter’s circle, live music and more!

The Leftovers

After weeks of planning, days of shopping, and hours of prepping, pureeing, chopping, sautéing, roasting, boiling, basting, mashing, stirring, whisking, and swearing, the big day has come and gone. I’m happy to report Thanksgiving 2014 was a success!

A few things I learned for next time:

  1. Don’t stress about the turkey- It was sooooooooooooooo easy. For the most part you put it in the oven and it takes care of itself. Just make sure to have someone on your guest list who is a master carver and can handle that part for you. Thanks Keith!
  2. Make half the amount of food -Since it was our first time hosting we got a little ambitious. Next time I will go for smaller quantities and have more vegetables instead of so much mashed stuff. Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, completely redundant.
  3. Use paper plates – For more than eight people paper plates is the way to go. And those fancy plastic forks, they practically look real so I’m definitely buying those next time.
  4. Try not to flood the basement at the end of the night – And if you do make sure to have a WetVac so your husband can swiftly take care of it while everyone is happily eating their apple pie à la mode.

Remember those sweet potatoes we made last week. Well, they became pancakes for breakfast. The extra mashed potatoes are going to morph into gnocchi. And the plan for leftover turkey is a green curry salad that can be used for lunch tomorrow. And maybe the day after that too…

SWEET POTATO PANCAKES

Ingredients

1 cup leftover sweet potato (with crumb topping)

1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups whole milk (or 2%)

2 eggs, beaten

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Butter for pan

Directions

Combine sweet potatoes, milk, and eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. In a separate large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just enough to combine. If the batter is too thick add a little more milk.

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Heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Scoop a heaping tablespoon onto griddle or pan. Wait until bubbles appear on surface of pancake and then flip to brown opposite side.

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Extras can be frozen and popped into toaster to reheat. Cool completely before freezing.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “These are the best”

Liam (age 5): “I’ll take ten of these”

Dylan (age 5): “Just terrific”

***

SIMPLE GNOCCHI

Ingredients

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

About 1 ½ cups of flour

1 egg

Pinch of salt

¼ cup of olive oil

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped

Directions

Place mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Sprinkle one cup of the flour onto the potatoes and mix together with your hands until the flour is incorporated. Make a well in the center and add the egg. Combine the egg with the potato mixture until a smooth dough forms. Keep adding flour and gently kneading until the dough is no longer sticky.

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Break the dough into about six pieces and roll out into snakes the width of your finger. Cut the dough into 1” pieces. Place on a large baking sheet and score the gnocchi with a fork.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi to the boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon a minute or two after they rise to the surface. Drain well and toss with olive oil, sprinkle with grated cheese and garnish with the fresh sage.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “I really like this”

Dylan (age 5): “I love it”

Liam (age 5): “There’s a wild flavor in here”

***

GREEN CURRY TURKEY SALAD Mini Sandwich

Ingredients

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 ½ tsp green curry paste

1 ½ cups leftover turkey, chopped

Cranberry sauce, leftover

3-4 small rolls or croissants

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise and green curry paste. Add chopped turkey and mix until combined. Spread a small amount of cranberry sauce on the bottom side of croissant or roll. Add a heap of the turkey mixture. Enjoy!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “A little too sweet with the cranberries”

Liam (age 5): “Uh, no”

Dylan (age 5): “Don’t like that red stuff”

What did you make with your leftovers???

Thanksgiving Fever

We’ve managed to use the kids as an excuse for the last seven years but now our time has come. Thanksgiving will be at our house this year and we’re definitely getting Thanksgiving fever. I’m receiving an email every hour with a mashed potato recipe or reading a blog post boasting of the perfect brining method. The chatter is endless. The momentum that surrounds this day, the holiest of cooking holidays, is mind boggling.

Finally, I sat back, took a deep breath and broke it down.

Turkey, gravy, some form of potato (sweet, mashed or both), vegetable, another vegetable, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, which I count as optional since hardly anyone even eats it. Appetizers are fairly easy, we’re just talking some cheese, dips, and chips. Most guests can be counted on to bring a dessert, so I’m not even stressing about that.

Since I can do the sides ahead I’m fairly confident I can pull those off. If I screw a dish up I can remake it, not a problem. It’s really all about the #$^%$^% turkey. Sink or swim, there are no dress rehearsals. But before I even cook one I have to figure out all the other stuff. To brine or not to brine? Wet brine or dry? Organic, heritage, locally grown, antibiotic-fee? How many pounds??? Well, I did what any self-respecting home cook would do – let the experts do it for me! Some might say it’s a bit of a cheat but if the turkey can come pre-brined in a roasting pan already done for you – why not???

So the focus at our house will be coming up with some delicious sides that hopefully will become tradition. And I’m even getting the boys in on the action, they are responsible for a desert. More on that later in the week…

Sweet Potato Crumble (recipe serves 8-10)

Ingredients

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

3/4 cup mascarpone cheese

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 stick butter, cold

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup walnuts, rough chopped into small pieces

Method

Place sweet potatoes in large saucepan and cover with water. Boil until they are fork tender. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Add mascarpone cheese, maple syrup, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mash or blend with a food processor until smooth.

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Spread the sweet potato mash in a large shallow baking dish and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the butter, flour, brown sugar, and chopped nuts until the topping is a crumbly texture. The best method is to use your fingers to work the butter into the sugar and nuts. Arrange the topping evenly over the sweet potatoes.

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At this point you can refrigerate the dish until the big day or bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until edges are bubbly and topping is crispy, about 35-40 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “The top is quite good”

Liam (age 5): “I kind of like it”

Dylan (age 5): “Not sure – top’s okay”

Hmmmm, hope the family likes it a bit better!

 

 

My Little Foragers

A few weeks ago I did a story on Foraging With Kids. As with all educational things I do with my children I never know if it has any impact. So I was taken by surprise when out on a nature hike the boys suddenly screamed “ONIONS!” They had actually spotted wild garlic, which look and smell similar to small onions. All three vigorously began yanking and tugging to break some bulbs loose from the soil. We harvested a few sizable pieces and Dylan insisted he would keep them safe in his pocket, dirt and all, until we got home.

After a lively discussion we unanimously decided a pizza sauce would be the perfect thing to make with our wild edibles. Nothing hard about this recipe and a much better alternative to jarred sauce. With some simple ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, and some spices (plus, I snuck in a zucchini), we had a delicious sauce in no time. And the boys were thrilled that they had eaten off the land. I can almost guarantee they would not have eaten this zucchini sauce had they not had a part in harvesting one of the ingredients. I will confess, I supplemented with garlic cloves purchased at the supermarket.

Now if you live in the suburbs you might be familiar with this plant (or weed as most people would refer to it) as it tends to invade lawns in clumps and take over quickly. This is how I first became acquainted with it, although I would strongly advise against eating anything from a lawn that has fertilizer on it.

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Zucchini Sausage Pizza

Ingredients

1 zucchini, peeled, cut in large chunks

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp basil

½ tsp pepper

1 lb. sausage meat, removed from casings

1 package pizza dough

All-purpose flour, for dusting

2 cups, shredded mozzarella cheese

Method

Puree zucchini and diced tomatoes until smooth. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Do not brown.

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To the garlic, add pureed vegetables, salt, sugar, oregano, basil, and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Let sauce reduce by at least half, this will take about 45 minutes. The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for 3-4 days.

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Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet and brown the sausage, breaking it up, until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lightly coating it with olive oil. Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface and transfer to baking sheet.

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Next add the zucchini sauce in an even layer onto the dough.

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Then top with sausage.

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And lastly, sprinkle liberally with cheese.

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Bake in oven until underside of the pizza is crispy, approximately 12-15 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “That’s some good stuff”

Liam (age 5): “Only put a little on mine”

Dylan (age 5): “I love our onion sauce!”

Can you guess who made these?

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