Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year of Cooking with Anne

Here is a list of some of my favorite and most memorable moments from my third year here at Cooking with Anne:

The Cornbread Gospels Book Review - I just love this book and think it deserves another look.


Because falling three stories and nearly dying wasn't enough for my husband... HERE.


Book Review: 101 Easy Peasy Cookie Recipes . Made cookies from this two days ago - again. You really need this book.

Simon and Garfunkel Roast Chicken. No need to say more on this.


Stock and sauce making 101 - chicken, vegetable, beef and brown.


Cooking with Anne gets a new look.


Nacho Mama's Tortilla Soup


Butterflied Shrimp on Coconut Risotto with Avocado, Lime and Cilantro Cream


I get a lot of hits in for this: Puerto Rican Rice and Beans


Mango Egg Rolls with Cardamom Devonshire Cream



More hits than anything else: Sweetie Pie's Macaroni and Cheese


Making Cream Puffs


Tostones


Fried Squash Blossoms


One Year Anniversary of Marty's Accident


The Cooking with Anne Video


I turned 40


Making Pasta


My New Blog - A Thousand Soups


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

Not a bad year considering all that's gone on. Looking forward to my fourth wonderful year with you all!

Veggie Wednesday: The Lehigh Valley Food Co-op

Did you know there was a food co-op in the works for the Lehigh Valley? Good stuff, isn't it? I am reprinting here (with permission) the most recent email from the LVFC Board of Directors. If you're interested in a food co-op here, or you know of someone who is, please take a moment and read this through. Thanks!

Hello All,

We, the Board of Directors, have been working hard to get the Lehigh Valley Food Co-op up and running. We apologize for the length of this letter, but there is a lot of ground to cover. Some good things are about to happen!

Contents:

1) A Change of Strategy

2) Our Model

3) How it will work

4) How you can help



1) A Change of Strategy

For several reasons we have decided to change strategies. Rather than pursue an immediate opening of a storefront, we believe it wiser and more fiscally-responsible to take things one step at a time. What does that mean? The opening of a virtual farmers’ market where members can order online and pick up healthy and local food at a site near their home.


Do we still want a storefront? Absolutely. Why then are we not attempting to open one immediately? First of all, it would mean at least six more months of work before any storefront opens its doors. Secondly, with the economy in its present state and considering that we have a widely-dispersed membership, we think it better to begin at a point that will not put us in a significant amount of debt. Lastly, it has always been a part of our vision to service the entire Lehigh Valley; the virtual farmers’ market is a way to do that.



2) Our Model

The model we intend to imitate can be found at www.oklahomafood.coop. This model will help us establish relationships with our members and our member-producers while we raise capital for a physical store-front. Check it out and let us know what you think. We are retooling our business plan to include this model. We are working on our website to include a shopping cart; we anticipate that it will be up and running by the end of February.



3) How it will work

Members will be able to order once per week online through the Virtual Farmers' Market. Each Producer will have their place on the website for members to shop. We aim to have Fruits, Veggies, Meat, Poultry/eggs, Dairy, Bulk Foods, Personal care products, Household/paper goods, and Artisan items. Purchased items will be delivered weekly to an operation center in Macungie. They will be separated according to member and drop-off site. Members will pick up their food from a choice of several pick-up sites, located across the Lehigh Valley. We aim to make this convenient for people's work schedules. For those who cannot pick up their orders, we hope to allow for a direct drop-off (home delivery), albeit with some extra charge.



4) How you can help


Take a survey!

As we would like this part of the Co-op to be representative of your wants and needs, please take this survey about the Virtual Farmers’ Market:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=ldL9TQvKCX60glEIDEl9gQ_3d_3d



Donations are now tax-deductible!

We have been approved by the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities to have them be our fiscal agent for like-minded sustainable community efforts. The Alliance has agreed to oversee grants and tax-deductible donations given to the Lehigh Valley Food Co-op that are aligned with their purpose.


Drop-off Locations!

If you know of a place that would like to be a drop-off location, we would like to know!


Lastly, we welcome anyone with time or ideas to share.


Thanks for your patience,

The Board of Directors
Lehigh Valley Food Co-op
www.lehighvalleyfoodco-op.com
610-965-6198.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chorizo Eggs



Here's a good in-between-holidays dish. It's not very heavy, uses few ingredients and doesn't contain turkey OR ham. Really, some of us just can't take any more leftover recipes. Chorizo can be purchased either cooked - where the consistency is close to pepperoni - or uncooked like any other sausage. I used uncooked for this one, but I really prefer the cooked sticks of chorizo. Go with what you like.

Chorizo Eggs
Serves 3-4
Printable Recipe

8 eggs - beaten
1/2 pound ground chorizo
1/4 cup sliced green onion (aka scallions or spring onions)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and brown chorizo. Drain if needed and add eggs, cheese and onion. Stir until eggs are cooked but not dry. Serve with warmed flour tortillas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Marty Update

What a whirlwind year-and-a-half we've had! Yesterday was yet another trip to Philadelphia to see Marty's newest doctor added to the mix, a spine specialist. He is with the same group that his main ortho belongs to, so we're very confident in his findings. Marty has a disc in his back that has herniated as a result of the fall. Rather than being simply uncomfortable, because it is in his thoracic back (upper) it is causing more pain than a disc herniated elsewhere would cause.

He is often miserable in pain or simply sleeping to avoid it, which makes our family life rather difficult. Nearly every task falls to me, and although Marty does his best to help, it's often at the cost of great pain.

After a round of therapy for his back that didn't change the pain level at all, the doctor has decided to have Marty try steroids. There are several reasons that this is good, and several reasons it's bad - one being that steroids can cause the hip joints to deteriorate or become necrotic. With Marty's hip still broken (it will be that way for the rest of his life, we suppose) that risk is upped a bit, but the doctor feels the benefit of the steroids outweighs the risk.

The doctor we saw yesterday mentioned the Marty had "permanent nerve damage" in his leg and foot. This is the left leg and foot where he has neuropathy pain - badly enough that he is taking the maximum neurontin dose daily for it. Marty's main doctor has always tried to be positive about this, saying that there is a chance for regeneration there and trying to make Marty feel better about it. We pretty much knew after a year and a half of no change that it was permanent, but hearing it said in such an offhand way was difficult. I don't know how the main doctor would feel about this being told to us, but it may be better off just knowing rather than clinging to false hope.

Marty's hand is as far as it will ever get. The fact that he even has it and has some use is better than the alternative. He has no grip strength in the last two fingers - which is where all of a person's grip strength comes from - so he can't hold on to simple things like grocery bags for more than several seconds.

The memory problems continue despite a neuropsychologist telling us that there was not much of a problem beyond very short-term loss. What I am seeing at home is far different and we'd like a second opinion. Very major life-changing events are being forgotten along with other insignificant things - it's disturbing regardless of the magnitude of the subject that's being forgotten.

So, we are on to the steroids - Marty is done with outpatient therapy for the moment and the depression really needs to be dealt with, as well. He sees guys from work occasionally and gets very sad that he is not out working with them. We will pass buildings he has helped to put up and he mentions wanting to go back.

I'm trying to keep us above water with all that needs to be done, but even at this moment we don't have a Christmas tree up and not one thing for the kids has been shopped for. I'm trying not to get depressed myself! We're hanging in, as we will continue to do - it can only get better, right?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Win Ferrero Chocolates and Help Fight Hunger

Ferrero Chocolates and Share Our Strength, a leading hunger-relief organization have teamed up for the second year in a row with Share Something Sweet to help fight hunger.

So far this year Ferrero has donated $150,000 to Share our Strength and is offering the chance to the rest of us to add to it. Simply log on to Share Something Sweet and send a customizable e-card to friends or family and Ferrero will donate $1 per e-card sent, up to $10,000. You can alos log-in to Facebook and for each person that joins the Ferrero Facebook page, "Ferrero Lovers Unite", Ferrero will donate yet another $1 to Share our Strength (up to $1,000).

Click on the links above to help get Ferrero up to their goal!

Here's the truly sweet part, for each person who clicks out of this page to any one of the links above (yes, I can check that you have done so) AND leaves a comment, he or she will be in the running for one of two Ferrero Chocolate Christmas Tree gift boxes! Sweet.

PLEASE leave your email so I can contact you if you are the winner. Contest ends at 12:00 AM January 1st, 2009!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Zōe's Granola


Zōe Foods may be small, but they're packing some serious flavor and goodness. Take their granola's for example; We taste-tested all three flavors - Cranberries Currants, Honey Almond and Cinnamon Raisin.

Unlike other granolas, which are mostly made up of oats, nuts and dried fruit, Zōe's has these great little soy crisps and rice crisps that make the crunch a whole different experience. Not only is the flavor and crunch awesome, these granolas are chock-full of protein, fiber and Omega-3's, low in sodium and wheat and dairy free.

Here's a tiny excerpt from a conversation I had with my 7 year-old daughter over breakfast one morning:

Katie: Why does the box say, "All Day Energy"?

Me: Because it has a lot of stuff in it that's good for you.

Katie: But, it tastes good!

Exactly.

Try out Zōe's for yourself at www.zoefoods.com , online at Amazon.com or at the retailers listed HERE.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Constant Comment Muffins


Everyone has heard of the popular Bigelow tea, Constant Comment. To be perfectly honest, bad pun intended, it's not my cup of tea. In fact, if it were the only tea on earth, I simply wouldn't drink tea. My family, however, are all quite enamored with the amber brew and drink it like there's no tomorrow. There's no accounting for palates being passed on, is there?

At any rate, when I was devising muffins for my most recent Family.com post (Morning Muffins) I decided to see if I could come up with a muffin that would taste like the tea my family so adores. These are those muffins.

Constant Comment Muffins
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

1 cup sour milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 cup oat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon apple pie spice (allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg)
1 cup instant oats
1 cup finely diced apple

Combine milk, orange juice, sugar, oil, extract, egg and zest. Blend well. Sift wheat flour, oat flour, spice, soda and powder. Add to wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in oats and apple. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees F for or until tops spring back when touched.

Earth Bound Farm Cookbook Winner!

We have our winner for the Earthbound Farm Food to Live By cookbook - reader growingupartists will be receiving a copy of this fantastic book. Congrats to you and thanks to everyone who entered!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Emergen-C Kidz; Just in Time


It's that time of year again! No, not holiday cheer and all that; I'm talking about the sick-kid time of year. My kids have already had one (very long) bout with a virus and I'm shoring them up so they don't fall prey to another one floating by as they head out to school each day.

How so? Emergen-C Kidz. This isn't your run-of-the-mill character shaped vitamin, it's a fun, fizzy and tasty drink that the kids actually like to take. Simply mix a single packet in 4 to 6 ounces of water, depending on your child's tastes, and that's it! They drink it up like it's any other carbonated beverage without really thinking twice about the good it's doing for them.

We tried all three flavors, Strawnana Berry Blast, Orange Pineapple Explosion and Cherry Yumberry and according to the kids, each was as good as the next.

Emergen-C is produced by Alacer Corporation, which has been around for quite some time - since 1972 to be exact. The Emergen-C products were introduced on 1978 and have had a huge success rate. Emergen-C has been used and trusted by adults since that time - it just makes sense for this newest product to be available to children ages 4 and up.

I know as a mother that I really appreciate having this available for my kids. Give it a try - your kids will certainly let you know if they like it or not, and their overall health will tell you that it's doing its job.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Piccolo Foods


Piccolo Foods new pestos, spreads and tapenades are perfection in a little container. I will free you to read the official press release, but I must tell you that these are absolutely fabulous.

I was able to try Spinach Feta Dip, Artichoke Pesto, Green Olive and Almond Pesto and Green Chili Smoked Gouda Spread, and each one was exactly like homemade; perfectly flavor-balanced, preservative free and organic - which means there was no chemical or 'off' flavors going on at all. I can't count the times I've purchased pre-made pestos and the like and been very disappointed in the mass-produced taste.

The Green Chili and Smoked Gouda Spread and Spinach Feta dip went so fast I was left wishing I had another container. The Gouda Spread was perfect on a toasted bagel as well as with crackers. I used the Artichoke Pesto on fettuccine and it was velvety and smooth and so flavorful. The Green Olive and Almond Pesto was perfect on penne and I even had little ones begging for more. I'll be looking for these to serve on Christmas day - and you should, too!


Piccolo Foods Introduces First Line of Artisanal Pestos, Spreads and Tapenades


New Products Are Designed to Enliven Home-cooked Meals and Entertaining

Lafayette, Colo., Dec. 3, 2008 – Piccolo Foods, a new brand of artisanal, preservative-free dips, pestos, spreads and tapenades, are being introduced in specialty foods markets and grocery stores throughout New York City, New Jersey, Colorado and New Mexico starting today.

Available in 16 varieties, Piccolo Foods’ products are the latest offering from Tellory Inc., the same company that produces the successful Ciolo Foods line of all-natural pestos, spreads and tapenades sold exclusively in Whole Foods Markets.

The Piccolo Foods product line combines healthy, high-quality, sustainably produced ingredients in convenient, recyclable packages. Combinations include Spinach Feta Dip, Artichoke Pesto, Green Olive and Almond Pesto, Green Chili Smoked Gouda Spread, Santa Fe Pimento Cheese, Kalamata Artichoke Tapenade and “Tzing!” a Roasted Asian Eggplant spread.

All products are hand-crafted in the company’s modern and comfortable plant just outside the city of Boulder, Colorado.

"These products are designed to help today's time-constrained home cooks create restaurant-quality meals and parties quickly and inexpensively," said Mallory Kates, who co-founded Piccolo Foods in 2008 with business partner Curt Tellam. "The current economy means that more people will cook and entertain at home, and our products give them a creative shortcut."

The first retailers to carry the Piccolo Foods line include King Soopers in Colorado; Fairway, Zabar’s, Westside Markets, Amish Markets and Zaytuna Market, all in the New York City area; Kings Super Markets in New Jersey and Eldorado Supermarket in New Mexico.

Piccolo's products have a shelf-life of 30 to 60 days and a retail price ranging from 4.99 to $5.99. All Tellory Inc. products are created with a commitment to protecting the environment. The company uses biodegradable plastic containers and has a company-wide recycling program. Serving suggestions and recipes can be found at www.piccolofoods.com.

About Tellory Inc.

Tellory Inc.is a Colorado-based company founded in 2006 as Chello Foods. The company sells its Ciolo line of preservative-free, artisanal pestos, dips and spreads exclusively to more than 100 Whole Foods Markets nationwide. In December 2008, the company launched its second brand, Piccolo Foods, an equally healthy, natural line of hand-crafted tapenades, spreads, dips and pestos, in key U.S. regions. Co-founders Curt Tellam and Mallory Kates take special pride in the fact that they not only source their own ingredients, their company also manufactures every product from its own facility in Boulder County, Colorado.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas Memories, Part One

This year marks the 40th Christmas I will have had in my life. That's a lot of Christmas. I certainly don't remember them all, but there are a few that really stand out in my memories and I wanted to share them.

I've found that the leaner the holiday, the better it was, so I'm hopeful that this year will be a good one. We've never gone without, but we've been so close on many occasions to having nothing at all and those were the times that we witnessed real miracles.

I don't remember even one Christmas before I lived in Pennsylvania. We moved here when I was 4 and shortly after that my parents separated and eventually divorced. Prior to that we'd lived in North Carolina, Indiana and the state I was born in, Michigan. Although there were 5 of us kids, not long after mom and dad's split two of my brothers went to Michigan to live with dad and 3 of us, oldest, youngest and middle-child, all stayed here with mom.

My oldest brother took on a sort of fatherly role that he has never quite lost for his siblings and was a very large part of every Christmas. He was allowed to hole up in mom's room and wrap gifts until his fingers cramped. He was quite good at it and he took charge when it was time to hand out gifts. We always exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve and always one at a time. He also helped with the tree - always a 4 foot tall tree that sat on a small round table in our front window. Mom and Bobby would decorate painstakingly so that everything was symmetrical. The house was decorated impeccably, the food my mother made was nothing less than perfect; Christmas was looked forward to very much in our home.

I still remember the year I got my favorite doll, My Baby Beth - it was also the year my youngest brother, Sean, got his Spider-man action figure and helicopter. Really cool stuff for way back then. One year in particular I wanted a Barbie styling head. I wanted that more than any other gift ever. I was not a child to ask for things over and over or to let it show that I was upset if I didn't get what I wanted. So, when the gifts had all been passed out and she was not there, I did my best not to do exactly what I wanted to do - cry.

Just as we were cleaning up, my brother came down the stairs from mom's room with another unwrapped gift. Mom said, "Oh, look! I guess we forgot a gift." I was swoony over that silly plastic head of hair, but just like My Baby Beth, I can still recall the way it smelled and how soft the ultra-blonde hair was and how not-as-easy-as-the-commercials it was to get make-up on it.

My childhood Christmases were never of the too-much kind. We didn't have a lot and mom sometimes just did as much as she could with what she had. She had remarried, but my step-dad was a steelworker and didn't make a king's wage. Other than that baby doll and doll head, my two other favorite gifts were a beautiful pink sweater my mother had actually gotten at a thrift shop and then packaged beautifully for me, and a clear cased Mickey Mouse watch. I really wish I still had all four gifts, but what I'm really grateful for is the memories I still have of them.

I'll be sharing a few more stories soon, so please check back.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting



This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge is hosted by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater with her Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, as published on Bay Area Bites - full recipe HERE. There was also an optional challenge: Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111.

Co-hosting with Shuna are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo), Jenny of Foray into Food, and for the gluten-free options, Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.

I decided to use the caramels as a decoration for my cake, and although we haven't eaten ours yet, the cake smelled so good when it was baking that I was having to hold the kids back. Caramel is one of my husband's favorite things and he can't wait to get his fork on this one!


I think it went together really easily, the cake baked perfectly and the icing was a real pleasure to work with. I can tell you that the caramels themselves are delightful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Philly Steve'steak Sandwich Recipe

What happens to everyone after high school? You know, the people you see every day during the school year but then suddenly lose contact with when graduation is over. The people you only ever see in old photos ... "Hey, whatever happened to that guy?" You know what I'm talking about.

Well, I've recently gotten back in contact with several old school pals at Facebook. No more wondering what everyone is doing! Good, bad and everything in-between, it's just plain good to be able to talk to them again.

This is another reason to find old friends - recipes. I've known Steve since grade school. He was a goofball then, and although he's mellowed a bit (haven't we all?) his sense of humor is still very much intact. He's lived one incredible life, too. I mean, he probably could write a book. He's rubbed shoulders with the likes of Thomas Kinkade and Arnold Schwarzenegger; lived in Hawaii, is former Navy intelligence and currently one of his jobs is diving at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The best part of his fascinating life is that he's still married to the same beautiful girl. That's saying something nowadays, isn't it?

All that and a recipe too - yeah, he cooks - and obviously very well. The only bad thing I can see about his life is that he's no longer able to get a real Philly Cheesesteak out there in California. No matter, he's adapted and shared the recipe with me. This is one good steak sandwich. I'd make it even if I could get the real deal right around the corner.

Philly Steve'steak Sandwich Recipe
Printable Recipe

Ground-rule: USE REAL USDA approved steak not steakum!

1 Serving:

Ingredients:
1 New York Strip Steak
4 Dill (not sweet) pickle round slices
1 can Paul Newman's Sockarooni Spaghetti Sauce
3 slices American Cheese
1 Steak Roll (Sourdough or Italian roll)l can be substituted.
Green bell pepper slices
Onion slices

How to cook:
First freeze the steak so it is easy to slice. You can slice it paper thin if it is frozen.



After slicing - brown the sliced steak in a skillet.



Pour a tablespoon of dill pickle juice on top of the steak as it browns. Let sizzle until brown.



Lay a mixture of green bell pepper and onions on top of the steak. Let sizzle for 3 minutes on low burner.



Place one tablespoon of Paul Newman's Sockarooni sauce on top and mix it into the steak and veggies.



Use a spatula to shape the meat and veggies into an "I" shape.



Place cheese on top. Wait until it starts to melt.

Open the roll and place it upside down on top of the cheese The bottom of the roll should be facing up. Let sit for 15-20 seconds. (Don't wait too long the roll will get soggy).



Squeeze the roll, with the meat inside and turn over quickly. Set on a plate and add four dill pickle slices to the top. I like to add a little more fresh Sockarooni sauce (like it's ketchup).


Bada-boom Bada-bing!!! Philly Steve'steak. Yummy. Whip up some real steak fries to go with it and watch an Eagles/Steelers game while you eat it (the game makes it taste more authentic ). I taught myself how to make these out here because no one out here knows how to make a real cheesesteak sandwich.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Apple Napoleons with Dulce de Leche


This past week's Top Chef challenge was to come up with "New American" cuisine to be served at Tom Colicchio's Craft restaurant in NYC. There seemed to be some confusion as to just what New American may mean, but my personal feeling is that New American is more fusion than anything else.

America has become such a melting pot (wasn't it always, though?) and expressing that through food really shouldn't be so complicated. I admit to patting myself on the back when Rhadika's dessert wontons were well-received, because I had just done similar a few weeks ago at Family.com, sans the mousse. While Carla's apple dessert was obviously well-liked, I can't help but think I'd have done it differently.

What would I have done? Well, I think the French Napoleon crossed with the classic American apple pie and a Mexican dulce de leche would be about perfect - and I have to say, they were!

Apple Napoleons with Dulce de Leche
Makes 6 pastries
Printable Recipe

2 sheets puff pastry cut into 3 inch squares - 18 total
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large apples peeled, cored and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup dulce de leche
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Bake pastry squares according to package directions until golden brown. Set aside.
Melt butter in a skillet and add apples, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook until apples are soft and lightly caramelized - about 10 minutes. Heat dulce de leche and keep warm. Add powdered sugar to cream and beat until stiff peaks form.

Lay out 6 pastry squares and top each with whipped cream, apples and dulce de leche. Repeat a second layer for each. Top each with a pastry square, whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Gourmet Dipped Apples


Have you seen these? They are offered on every upscale gourmet website and in every posh overpriced catalog imaginable. The average price for these beauties is $10 each. I am of the, "Why buy it when you can make it?" camp and I can imagine that my Scottish ancestors would rise up and haunt me if I actually paid for one.

I knew I could do it, and so I did - and I only paid $2.50 for each one. If I don't go into business for myself, I think these would make lovely gifts this Christmas, and I may just give a few away.

I've made them with homemade caramel and wrapped caramels and covered in nuts or sprinkles. I even made a design with nut halves and dragees on one. I think they're pretty no matter how you make them and they disappear so quickly there's no doubt about how delicious they are.





Caramel and Chocolate Dipped Apples
Makes 2
Printable Recipe

2 very large Fuji or Granny Smith (I prefer these) apples - washed, dried and at room temperature
1/2 pound dark chocolate coating
1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted nuts or small candy sprinkles

Caramel:

1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup dark brown sugar

OR

40 wrapped caramels melted smooth in the microwave

Mix all three together well in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Clip on a candy thermometer and cook over low heat, stirring very often, until the temperature reaches the 'soft ball' stage - or 235 degrees F. Remove from heat and stir continuously for several minutes until the caramel beings to cool and thicken.

Dip each apple - using the stem - into the caramel as far as it will go. Use a spoon to cover the top half of the apple, making sure it is well coated and there are no bare spots. Set on parchment or waxed paper to cool. Dip other apple likewise.

When they caramel is set, it's time to dip in chocolate.

Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. When fully melted, dip each apple the same way they were dipped for the caramel, coating all sides well.

As soon as they are dipped, roll to coat in 1/2 cup chopped nuts or sprinkles. Let stand in a cold spot until well set. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat and consume within one week of dipping.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lava Cakes with Cherries


Lava cakes are absolutely nothing new. But they sure are good. A couple cherries added to the center make them even better; if that's possible.

Lava Cakes with Cherries
Makes 4
Printable Recipe

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
8 maraschino cherries - well drained

Grease 4 custard cups - 3/4 cup capacity and pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt butter and chocolate together and stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Beat eggs and yolk with vanilla; add to cooled chocolate and blend well. Stir in flour. Divide evenly between custard cups. Gently push 2 maraschino cherries into the center of each cake. Bake for 13 to 14 minutes. Loosen gently with a thin knife and upturn onto a plate. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

Who doesn't love Whoopie Pies? While the chocolate version are definitely my favorite, these pumpkin cakes are perfect for this time of year.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies
Makes 12 pies
Printable Recipe

Cakes:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter - melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling:

1/2 stick butter
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix together melted butter, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, pie spice, pumpkin puree and eggs until smooth. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well until a thick batter forms. Drop by spoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheets. You need 24 cakes for 12 pies. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 - 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean. Cool completely and make filling.

Blend softened butter and cream cheese with vanilla. Add powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread on 12 cakes and top each with another cake.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kitchen Keepers

Everyone has products they use in their daily lives that they would not be without. For the most part, I'm not what I would call a "brand loyal" type; except for a few things.

Two of those things that I prefer over any other are Bounty paper towels and Dawn dish liquid.



While I try as hard as I can to keep my carbon footprint small through recycling (and many other actions), I don't see the value in using a cheaper paper towel - especially when I could use an entire roll for a couple spills. I admit to using rags for nearly all spills, but there are some that just need a throw-away.

I think Bounty Select-A-Size are the best choice for those. Not only can I choose which size towel I want, I am also able to rinse them out and use them again. There is no other paper towel I have used that has those properties. I wrote over a year ago about these at Short Order Mom, and my opinion hasn't changed one bit.



Dawn dish liquid is also something I've written about before, but even prior to being offered samples, it's the only dish liquid I've ever bought. Nothing works as well on greasy plastics and I haven't found another that smells as good, either.

Dawn's newest version, Dawn PLUS Hand Renewal, feels so good on my hands I actually find myself wanting to wash dishes! I have the Pomegranate and Splash scent and can't wait to give the other two a try. Now my only dilemma at the store is which Dawn dish liquid to buy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Gathering of Friends


Entertaining for friends and family is one of my favorite things to do. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to be able to bring smiles to others' faces with the meals I make.

The Gathering of Friends focuses on just that; entertaining family and friends through food. This book is a real keepsake - beautifully bound and filled with gorgeous colorful photos. The recipes are not anything that the average home cook wouldn't be able to make. Each recipe is tried and true, many of them very familiar, but perfectly paired with others and presented in such a way that it makes each meal a memorable one.

There are fifteen gatherings presented in the book, from an Evening Gathering in chapter one to a Hero Shower in chapter fifteen. There is also a chapter devoted to ideas on creating the perfect gathering place - even when you think it's not possible.

Authored by Michelle Huxtable and Alyse Christensen with stunning photos by Matt Christensen, The Gathering of Friends, Volume One is a book you'll cherish for years to come.

You can purchase The Gathering of Friends, Volume One online at http://www.thegatheringoffriends.com/.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thanksgiving Day is Just Around the Corner

That is, if you live in the United States. Thanksgiving Day this year falls on the 27th of November. For the best Thanksgiving Day Recipe Round-Up check out what Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants has put together HERE. You really don't want to miss this!

If this is your first year cooking a turkey, or even if you've done it before and hit a snag or have a question, Foster Farms is available to rescue you!

From November 19 to December 1, including Thanksgiving Day, the Foster Farms Turkey Helpline may be accessed 24-hours a day, seven days a week by calling (800) 255-7227. The Turkey Helpline is staffed by live operators and provides consumers with tips to help make their turkey dinners a success. Prior to November 19 and after December 1, the Foster Farms Turkey Helpline is available Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. PST. Online self-help resources are available at www.fosterfarms.com year-round.


Foster Farms isn't only there for help - check out this recipe for Citrus Turkey:



Citrus Turkey

1 Foster Farms Whole Turkey
4 oranges
2 grapefruits
2 lemons
2 limes
2 tangelos or tangerines
1 sweet onion (maui or Vidalia)
1/8 cup honey
1 tablespoon pepper, divided
1/4 cup tequila or lime juice


Directions
1. Zest citrus, dice onion and blend together with honey, tequila (or lime juice) and 1/2 tablespoon of pepper. Cut the leftover citrus into wedges and reserve for stuffing.

2. Spread zest into mixture over the exterior of the bird. Rub remaining pepper into cavity of bird and then stuff with citrus wedges.

3. Tie legs together and then BBQ for best results. If cooking in the oven, baste the bird with drippings, or make extra zest to drip over it as it cooks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A New Blog

I adore soup, in fact, I think I could eat soup every day. I have so many of my own soup recipes and even more stored away that I decided to start sharing them. My newest blog venture is A Thousand Soups. Stop by and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veggie Wednesday: Earthbound Farm Launches Videos


It's no secret that I love Earthbound Farm. Myra Goodman's Food to Live By has quickly become one of my most treasured cookbooks and I don't think there's any better baby spinach available on the market. As if that wasn't enough, they've now launched videos featuring Myra Goodman herself.

You can access the videos HERE and see what Myra has to say about baby greens and watch the making of her famous (and delicious!) Maple Almond Granola. I've made this and it's so good, you don't want to miss this video.

In conjunction with the release of these wonderful videos, I also have a copy of Food to Live By to give away! Don't miss your chance to enter this giveaway - this cookbook is so wonderful, it's one you'll want to have in your collection.

Leave a comment for me here WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS (U.S. Residents only) and I will announce a winner on December 12th. Good Luck!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bloggers Unite to Reconnect Families


Family dinner; it's just another night at the table, isn't it? My own family gathers each night to eat together and discuss our day. Sometimes it all goes rather smoothly and other times we have kids leaving the table in tears. As frustrating as that can be, I'd miss it terribly if it were taken from me.

For tens of millions of people across the globe, family dinner is a thing of the past and a thin thread clung to in the hopes that it will again happen some day. Those people are refugees.

What exactly is a refugee? A refugee is a person that flees to a foreign country to escape danger or persecution. Many people find themselves not only separated from their country, their home and their familiar surroundings, but also from their families. Many families flee together only to lose contact with one another and have nowhere to call home. Imagine yourself in this situation. What would you do? Where would you turn? Even if you found a place of refuge, how would you find your family?


BlogCatalog, in conjunction with Refugees United is getting the word out today; There is hope. Refugees United is a unique online forum - completely anonymous - that helps refugees to connect with family and friends. While they are not able to provide reunions of a physical nature, they do provide a way for refugees and their loved ones to get in touch.

From the website:

Refugees United provides refugees with an anonymous forum to reconnect with missing family. By registering with nick- names, scars, former locations and other markers only identifiable to family and close friends, everyone can remain 'invisible' to all but relatives.

  • All refugees are welcome, regardless of conflict, place or time.
  • Refugees United is an independent, non-political, non-religious NGO.
  • No third party is involved. No official papers need to be filled in.
  • The service is free of charge and easy to use.
  • Before you sit down with your family tonight, please take a moment to check out the Refugees United website to find out how you can help bring families together -- because everyone deserves to know where family is.

    Monday, November 03, 2008

    Supernoots - The Smart Way to Kid Nutrition


    Do you have mealtime struggles with your kids? Are they (and you) stuck in a rut of not-so-nutritious foods? I know my kids have all gone through this phase and it's one of the most difficult parts of parenting.

    Enter Supernoots! This totally unique method is a sure-fire solution to your mealtime woes. Don't take it from me, though, here's what Lori Liakonis, owner of Supernoots has to say about how this awesome program came to be:


    First of all, my name is Lori Liakonis, and I am a former teacher and now WAHM of a five-year old and two-year old twins.

    The idea for SuperNoots began with a struggle to get my son, Nicholas, to eat healthy food. Up until age 3 1/2, Nicholas had always eaten most of what I put in front of him. As he discovered the world of chicken nuggets, chips and mac and cheese, however, mealtime and snacktime turned into stressful events. For both of us!

    Since 'eating healthy' was not a battle I was prepared to lose, I came up with an idea and sketched it onto a paper napkin. My dear friend Victoria, who is an amazing graphic designer, breathed color and life into my pencil drawings, and SuperNoots was born.

    So, what is SuperNoots? Two things. First, an interactive shopping list, which is a dry-erase list of healthy foods that kids can use over and over again. Second, a magnetic food chart that helps kids keep track of their daily nutrition.

    THE BIG IDEA IS THAT KIDS USE THE SHOPPING LIST TO CHOOSE THEIR OWN FOODS, PARENTS BUY THE FOOD, THEN KIDS USE THEIR CHART AS NOT ONLY A GUIDE FOR WHAT TO EAT, BUT AS A FUN MOTIVATOR.

    The first time Nicholas made his own food choices on the shopping list, then saw his food in the refrigerator and pantry, he received an amazing boost of independence and empowerment. This is what truly makes SuperNoots special, because when kids associate eating with positive feelings at a young age, those feelings are likely to stay with them for years to come.

    What started out as a problem-solving solution has turned into an amazing passion project for me. I feel like this business is a dream come true, and meeting wonderful people like Anne, who share the vision of helping kids eat healthy, is just icing on the cake, so to speak :) Thank you for taking the time to read about SuperNoots!


    You can find Supernoots online at www.supernoots.com. Give it a look and see if you don't think this is the best idea for kids and nutrition ever.

    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    A Daringly Slow Baker

    One of the three pizzas I made. This one was brushed with garlic and herb olive oil in lieu of sauce and topped with goat cheese, red pepper and Nicoise olives.


    I'm not really a slow baker, more of a slow poster. This challenge should have been up by October 29th, but we all know how busy my life is, so I'm hoping everyone will understand. This month's challenge was hosted by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums and I'm including her words here about why she is hosting single and also why I didn't want to miss out on posting this particular challenge:

    Originally, I was supposed to host this challenge together with Sher at http://www.whatdidyoueat.typepad.com (USA) and Glenna at http://www.afridgefulloffood.typepad.com (USA), but life’s sad events made me stride that horse alone…

    As you all know by now, Sherry passed away tragically on the 20th of July2008 after having been struck by a massive heart-attack. Glenna, on her side, has decided to quit The Daring Baker’s and to stop her baking adventure for personal reasons. So that’s why I am all alone on that challenge.

    Prior to her sudden death (9 days before), Sher had shared with me her recipe idea for the October challenge that she, Glenna and myself should have hosted together. When she died, it was clear for me that I would respect her choice and that I would still submit her recipe. This is my last ode to a very appreciated blogger, DB member, skilled baker and cook whom I miss a lot!


    ~ Sherry “Sher” Cermak 1948-2008 ~


    This is the challenge we were put to for this month:

    THE CHALLENGE: You have to use the tossing method (as explained below) for at least 2 Pizza Crusts. If you are not comfortable with it, then you can switch to the rolling method, but you HAVE to try the traditional method and exercise it, using at least two dough pieces. You should also capture the moment by either filming or photographing yourself while tossing the dough.

    **I didn't get a photo of this, but you can bet I did it! Not very well, I can see where it would take practice to get this part right, but I did give it a go on two of the three pizzas I made.


    ~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~
    Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

    Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

    Ingredients:

    4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled - FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
    1 3/4 Tsp Salt
    1 Tsp Instant yeast - FOR GF use 2 tsp
    1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
    1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
    1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
    Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

    DAY ONE

    Method:
    1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

    2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

    NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
    The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

    Or

    2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

    3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

    4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

    NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

    5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

    NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

    6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

    7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

    NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

    DAY TWO

    8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

    Or

    8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and allow to rest for 2 hours.

    9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

    NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

    10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

    Or

    10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

    NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
    During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
    In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
    You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

    11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

    Or

    11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

    12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

    Or

    12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

    NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

    13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

    Or

    13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

    NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

    If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

    14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

    REMARKS:
    Tossing links: http://www.wikihow.com/Toss-Pizza-Dough, http://www.vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?f … D=35480534, http://www.ehow.com/how_2066953_toss-pizza-dough.html, http://www.classic-hand-tossed-pizza.bl … hands.html, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhcTKeslAmk, http://www.ask.yahoo.com/20050222.html

    ***************

    NOTE ON SAUCE: Your sauce (any) should not be too thick as it will thicken in the hot oven. Less is more but make the less truly more by using quality ingredients.

    SAUCE IDEAS: Pestos, white or brown sauce, tomato sauce, sour cream, thick cream, Bolognese sauce, etc…
    Check here for sauce recipes: http://www.tenspeedpress.com/page.php3?ftr=300

    ***************

    TOPPING IDEAS: Seafood, fish, meat (dry, cured, smoked or ground), cheeses (Gruyère, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Provolone, Ricotta, Maroille, Munster, etc…), nuts, tofu, veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, artichokes, hearts of palm, zucchinis, pumpkin, red onions, etc…), herbs (mixes, fresh or dried), spices (garlic, gourmet salt, pepper, curry, berbere, ras-el-hanout, za’atar, etc…), nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashew nuts, Brasil nuts, macadamia nuts, etc…)….

    TOPPING LINKS: http://www.greatpartyrecipes.com/pizzatoppings.html, http://www.correllconcepts.com/Encyclop … ppings.htm.

    ***************

    GENERAL PIZZA LINKS: http://www.breadtopia.com/pizza-dough-recipe/

    ****************

    See how Peter Reinhardt’s “Napoletana Pizza Dough” recipe turned out: http://www.chubbyhubby.net/blog/?p=142, http://www.101cookbooks.com, http://www.ieatfood.net/?p=7.

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Quadrucci - Making Pasta


    Pasta is such a diverse and widely consumed product that many people have no idea how easy it is to make your own. Pasta is also so cheap that many people wonder why one would make their own. For myself it's a feeling of accomplishment. I've always enjoyed making something that most people think can only be store-bought: cream puffs, wonton soup, fortune cookies.

    The first time I ever made pasta with a machine rather than rolling it out myself was in school. Every pasta dish that was served at the school restaurant was made from fresh pasta. Making pound after pound was a bit tedious, but worth it.

    Making your own pasta is like making anything else homemade; you get to be in control of what goes into it. Whole egg or egg white, salt or no salt, semolina flour or all-purpose flour. Water or not, oil or not.

    Most store-bought pastas are made from semolina flour - a flour made most often from durum wheat. It's usually more coarse than standard all-purpose flour, so many people mix the two for pasta making. I've made pasta from all semolina and from half and half and I prefer the latter. All semolina makes a very stiff dough.

    Here's the recipe based on what I made last week.

    Basic Pasta Dough
    Printable Recipe

    1 cup semolina flour
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 large eggs

    I don't usually add salt to my pasta, but I was making quadrucci, which are rather large, and wanted a little more flavor because they were being served simply, in broth.

    Combine flours and salt and make a well in the center. Drop 3 eggs into the well and start mixing them into the flour until a stiff dough forms. If you are making pasta on a very dry day you may want to add a tablespoon or so of water to the eggs. Cover the dough and let it stand for 10 minutes.

    Roll out or run through a pasta machine and cut as desired.

    Fresh pasta cooks faster than its dry counterpart, so you need to keep an eye on it as it cooks. As with dry pasta, timing depends on the size and shape of the pasta.

    I made quadrucci with herbs encased in the center of each. It makes for a very pretty presentation and isn't very difficult to do. The photo above is the finished quadrucci in broth.

    The making of pasta:




    Stirring together egg and flour.
    Dough at the proper consistency and ready to rest.
    Run dough through each setting twice starting with the widest first - number 1.
    Turn the dial to the next number and run the dough through again - twice. Do this until you reach the desired setting. I like number 7.
    Lay very dry flat-leaf herbs on half of the sheet of pasta. Make sure to space them well, they will expand in size once run through the machine again.
    Fold the other half of the pasta sheet over the herbs and press down lightly so they don't move when transferring the sheet to the machine.
    Run the pasta sheet through the machine on the number just before the one you decide on. Run it through one more time on the correct setting. For example, I wanted a number 7 thickness, so I ran the dough through 6 first and then through 7. This is the way the sheet should look when finished. Cut into squares with an herb in the center of each square. Cook in boiling stock until done.

    This is an example of quadrucci with herbs done the wrong way. Any moisture on the herb at all will cause the pasta to tear, resulting in exposed herb. All is not lost, however!


    Run the damaged dough through the machine several more times so the herbs distribute themselves throughout and then cut it to a desired shape. I made fettuccine with mine.

    That 'damaged' pasta looks pretty good! These are ravioli made with a full sheet of pasta.



    This is thin spaghetti the kids helped to make.


    All-in-all, not difficult! It helps to have a machine to get the dough to the right thickness, but you can roll and cut pasta by hand, as well.

    Veggie Wednesday: Two Books

    I have two great books along green-living lines that I think you should check into. The first is The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Cooking by Beverly Lynn Bennett of Veganchef.com and Ray Sammartano.



    This is one of those essential books for vegan living. With 240 delicious recipes and tips galore, you may not need another book about vegan cooking. I absolutely love the formatting of the book. There are 6 parts, each prefaced with a cute little cartoon (one of my daughters kept leaving the book open to Part 6 because she thought the cartoon was so funny) and 22 chapters in total. That's a lot of information and a lot of great recipes.

    The 'extra information' boxes are so helpful; broken down into Thyme-ly Tips, Soy What?, def-i-ni-tion, and Sour Grapes, they're placed just where needed to add that little extra bit of info necessary to that particular recipe. I've learned quite a bit from those little boxes!

    This is geared toward the beginner, but the recipes are so terrific that I would recommend this for even the seasoned vegan.

    The second book is Eco-Friendly Families by Helen Coronato. I love this book! I've learned more about green-living and recycling than I ever thought possible. It's written in a very approachable way and full of family-friendly ideas for living as ecologically responsible as possible.

    My favorite part are the Five-Minute Makeover boxes throughout the book. They are the small ideas that help you to make a big impact without taking much time at all. I also think the first chapter, "Taking Inventory: Getting Ready to Go Green" is brilliant. Helen helps you to figure out where you are, where you want to be and just how to get there in the most painless and simple way you can.

    She causes you to think and re-think about your family's impact on our earth and how you can help to keep your footprint small. It really is for all ages. The crafts at the end of the book are wonderful and the resources listed are all you'll need to send you and your family on your way to greener living.

    You can purchase both of these books at Amazon.com.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Interlude


    I found these perfect, juicy, tender and delicious little Seckel pears at my favorite farm stand. If only they lasted longer.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Freshology


    This past week I was lucky enough to be the recipient of four days' worth of Freshology meals. I was sent a sampling of the Get Slim meals offered by Freshology, Inc. and now I'll share my thoughts on it all.

    When the box arrived, my first thought was that I would never fit it all into my refrigerator. I was wrong, it was just very good packaging surrounding the meals. The top of the box was filled with water bottles that were still frozen and everything underneath was intact and ice-cold. Once it was all unpacked, it actually fit onto one shelf in the fridge.

    The contents were: 10 bottles of water, 4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners and 4 desserts. My first impression of the meals was that they looked a bit small. Coming from the Get Slim program, I thought that was about right. Usually the idea is to cut back on portions and control calories that way. I was wrong about this, too!

    Not only was the food delicious and perfectly prepared, it really was filling. Really. My family is one of those 'heaping plates' families and I couldn't wrap my brain around those smaller portions having the ability to be fulfilling. I can easily see how a person could lose weight - in a healthy and delicious way - with Freshology meals.

    Here is the menu from one of those 4 days:

    Breakfast: Spinach & Mozzarella Frittata with Fresh Fruit & Grilled Ham Steak
    Lunch: Mediterranean Salad with Cucumbers & Kalamata Olives
    Dinner: Grilled Salmon with Grilled Asparagus & Carrots
    Dessert: Blueberry Coffee Cake

    This was all fresh, PRESERVATIVE FREE and cooked to perfection.

    Freshology offers 6 different meal plans from Freshmommy to Wholefamily, each with a fantastic array of menus that rival anything you'll find at your finest neighborhood restaurant. You can find Freshology meals online at Freshology.com or you can call 1-877-89-FRESH and speak with a representative who will help you choose the right program for you. It's a revolutionary way of thinking about eating; fresh, healthy, delicious and convenient.

    Don't take my word for it, though, JLo and Ricki Lake are just two of the celebrities featured on the Press page at Freshology. You can watch clips about their success with the programs and check out other celebs as well.