Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Foodie Blog Roll And Marx Foods Iron Foodie 2010

Contest time!  I absolutely love a great foodie contest that brings out some awesome bloggers and their creativity!  The other day I opened an email from Foodie Blog Roll announcing a contest sponsored by the creme de la creme of fine gourmet foods, Marx Foods, looking to crown THE Iron Foodie 2010.  Mention Marx Foods and I'm up for whatever!  The best part of this contest is that Marx Foods will actually send the 25 contestants chosen for this contest a goodie box with 8 secret ingredients  and only 3 are to be used for a signature dish. How generous to not only be provided with the ingredients, but to also have a bonus of 5 extra foods to sample!  So, to even be considered, I need to answer the following questions by November 5th.

Why do you want to compete in this challenge?
This foodie contest is right up my alley!  I'm not the kind of gal that follows recipes, I prefer to just go with the flow and use what's on hand.  I'm at my best when I can get my creative juices flowing combining some pretty unusual things.  I love that this also gets those I'm cooking for out of their "limited culinary box" by presenting them with something they never would have tried!  Oh yeah, I also really want that secret ingredient delivery (just being honest here and probably speaking for many others)!!!

Limitations of time/space notwithstanding, whose kitchen would you like to spend the day in & why? Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Ferran Adria, James Beard, Marie-Antoine Careme, or The Swedish Chef?
Ok, this is a hard one since I remember watching Julia Child at my grandparents house and am pretty sure that she had a huge influence on the meals I ate that went hand in hand with my French heritage.  However, I would have to pick the Swedish Chef to spend a day with!!!  I never was a big Muppet fan (gasp) but loved watching the Swedish Chef  who defines the epitome of what I think cooking should embrace - the love of food and having fun!

What morsel are you most likely to swipe from family & friends’ plates when they aren’t looking?
Lordy, another hard question.  I have to give two replies here since they are polar opposites - vegetable dishes and desserts.  I love fresh vegetables and my body craves them but I also have a HUGE sweet tooth.  I have been know to eat dessert first with no regrets.

 Sum your childhood up in one meal.
I was truly privileged growing up due to being exposed to such wonderful foodie adventures.  Everytime the family gathered there was enough food to feed an army (nevermind the fact that my family is as big as an army) from the appetizers through dessert. So I guess I'm going with a vague answer here and saying the meal can't really be defined and was more of a cornucopia of international proportions! Let me just end this by saying that my brother and I thought it was a grand treat when my parents went out and we had a babysitter because we got to eat TV Dinners!  I know that sounds pathetic but we ate so well all the time that it was nice to experience something our friends considered a staple. 

The one mainstream food you can’t stand?
Mainstream to me means something that is mass produced and can be found in any grocery store so this is an easy one - Spam! I literally gag at the smell of it and the gag reflex is going now just thinking about it!

I feel like a school child in class who is so anxious to answer a question so picture me in my seat bouncing a little with my arm thrashing up in the air screaming in my head "PICK ME, PICK ME" knowing that I will create something wonderful of the challenge set before me!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Peppadew Pepper Giveaway Winners!

Congrats to the three winners of the Peppeadew Pepper Giveaway!  Winners were chosen using  The winning numbers are 14, 5, and number 10.

Serena over at Seriously Soupy
Kim over at Liv Life
Lynne over at Milk n Cookiezzz

Ladies, you need to contact me and send me your mailing info so that my good friends at Peppadew Pepper can ship your loot to you!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I'm Back And With A Giveaway To Boot!

Wow!  I feel like my lifeline to the world has been gone forever!  My 6 month old laptop crashed and I had to wait for a new hard drive and discs to fix the darn thing.  I did manage to snag my teens laptop for a few minutes each day,  but that was like pulling teeth and not really worth those few minutes on line.  I must say that not moving on in Project Food Blog was a blessing in disguise since I really would have had a panic attack with my laptop out of commission. 

Enough of that and onto the giveaway!  I'm very excited to post Another giveaway from my friends at Peppadew International! is one of my favorite gourmet pepper lines and they have been generous enough to let me host this giveaway for 3 winners again!  Please visit their site and get creative and let me know how you would try Peppadew Peppers and post a comment here on the blog.  Let me just say that whether you eat them straight out of the jar, top a dish with them or make a Peppadew Pepper Hummus like I recently did, you will be hooked on them!

Peppadew Pepper Hummus

So what exactly is Peppadew International? Peppadew is a South African company that has designed a line of gourmet products from the sweet piquanté pepper. They have found a way to balance the sweetness with the spice and keep the pepper crisp all at the same time. Here is a link that will give you more information on just what made Peppadew a top ten out of 50,000 at the NY Fancy Food Show in 2003.

Contest ends October 29, 2010 and done one of the following and leave a comment for each one. Additional entries for tweeting about giveaway and a third entry for following my blog!

1.) Leave a comment on how you would enjoy trying Peppadew International
2.) Tweet about giveaway and leave comment
3.) Follow my blog and leave comment

Don't forget to leave your email address as this is how you will be contacted if you are one of the winners.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nature's Pride Foodbuzz Tastemaker Entry

Nature's Pride Tastemaker

I decided to participate in the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program with Nature's Pride Bread.  Nature's Pride sent me a coupon for a free product and I chose their Healthy Multi-Grain Bread.  When I saw the opportunity for this Tastemaker opportunity, I knew exactly what I would make!  It's simply called Laura's Veggie Sandwich.  This sandwich is one of my absolutely favorite sandwiches to eat!  Several years ago I was craving something vegetarian that was full of flavor for lunch and this is what I came up with. 

Laura's Veggie Sandwich

Laura Veggie Sandwich
2 Slices of Nature's Pride Healthy Multi-Grain Bread
1/2 Cup Fresh Organic Baby Spinach
1/2 Avocado, sliced
8 Slices of Organic Cucumber
1/3 Cup of Mixed Organic Sprouts
3 Slices of Tomato
2 T. Spicy Pepper Hummus- I made my own Peppadew Pepper brand spicy hummus (make your own or purchase your favorite brand)
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste

This sandwich is so quick and easy to put together.
Spread 1 T. of hummus on each slice of bread. 
Layer cucumber slices on bottom slice of bread followed by the baby spinach. Add avocado slices on top of baby spinach.
Add mixed organic sprouts and top with tomato slices.

Laura's Veggie Sandwich
I like to have some fresh fruit and cottage cheese or Greek yogurt with the sandwich to round out a perfectly balanced and healthy meal. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Vote Now! Russian Love All The Way

Baikal Arctic Sun

Hurry and cast your votes for round 2 of Project Food Blog!  Voting ends tomorrow (Thursday) at 6 PM Pacific time. I'd appreciate your votes because you will want to see what I have planned for round 3! Thanks to all who have already voted for me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Time To Vote! Round 2 Of Project Food Blog

It's back!  Voting opened today, Sept. 27th and is open through Sept. 30th and ends at 6 PM Pacific Time.
Each and every vote counts as 400 will be narrowed down to 200.
Please read my entry and vote for me and Russian cuisine!!!

Summer Schi Soup

Sunday, September 26, 2010

PFB Round #2 - Russian Love & Maybe Just A Little Vodka

Holy Prince Church (courtesy of Marty Friend)

 Sweet (as my youngest child would say) as I am moving on to round #2 of Project Food Blog! Thank you for your votes and I'm even more excited for this next challenge.  The entry has to be an ethnic classic dish, excluding Italian and French cuisine, that I am not familiar with.  I think with a high degree of certainty that I will definitely NOT be in the norm in deciding to attack Russian dishes.  Anyone want to place bets that I am the only one choosing Russian cuisine?

Ship Baikal (courtesy of Marty Friend)

Why Russian?  My stepfather has taken numerous jaunts over there for business over the past decades and it's quite the honor when he decides to add "inski" to your name!  Oh the stories I've heard and the obligatory vodka shots for everything! 

Another deal maker for this  entry was decided when a friend and her husband were able to finally bring their daughter home from Irkutsk after a very long five and half year journey in adoption.  I would often find  my mind wandering as to what she was eating while in the orphanage and what others in Siberia would consider staples and their "go to" meals.  I have never imagined for the average Russian that food would be over the top.  We're talking Siberia, where the frigid cold has to be taken into consideration and the limited resources for food has got to be a huge challenge.  If one is lucky enough to have a market near them, I don't even need to mention the pure expense of buying food. 

So, in my mind, I envisioned homey, hearty fare using much resourcefulness with not alot of flavor combinations.   Keep in  mind that my blog focuses on taking classic dishes and putting a twist on them to make everything healthier.  I thought I would have a hard time finding classic dishes that would be able to fill those shoes. WRONG!

Local Free Range Eggs

I actually ended up making three Russian dishes.  I was intrigued that dill, eggs (hard boiled), and sour cream seem to be staples as well as the given sauerkraut.  I decided on soups since we are going into cool fall weather and a baked pumpkin dish for obvious reasons. Fall, celebrations, and pumpkins just go together, period! 

The first soup I prepared is Sour Schi which is chock full of sauerkraut and rumored to help those who have taken one too many shots of Stoli or Jewel of Russia the night before.  I must admit I scratched my head a little after reading that - who would want to put sauerkraut in their mouth after a night of libations? 
Well, let me just say this modest little soup hit the spot!  After making my own stock (a must in all soups if you have the time) and simmering the oxtail  for awhile, the aroma filling the kitchen was just beautiful. This is what I expect to be smelling in cooler months when walking into a kitchen, pure homeyness.  This is the kind of scene when walking into a friends house I just want to grab a bowl and spoon and sit down and slurp it over great conversation. 

Sour Schi Soup

Sour Schi (adapted from ruscuisine)
2 cups sauerkraut, drained, juice reserved
1-1/2 lb beef short ribs* (I used oxtail)
1 slice smoked bacon, about 3 oz.
4-5 dry shiitake mushrooms
1 cup wild mushrooms, such as borowiks, porcini, chanterelles, or shiitakes, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 small onion, whole, peeled
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 small carrot, whole, peeled
4-5 parsley stalks
2 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp minced dill
vegetable oil
sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
*Oxtails are also a good choice of meat, but they require longer cooking.

Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add short ribs to the pot. Add a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat and let simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove the scum. Add smoked bacon, small onion, small carrot, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley stalks and dry mushrooms. Cover and keep at a bare simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Remove the short ribs and set aside. Strain the stock through multi-layered cheese cloth and discard the solids. Strain fat from the top. (The stock can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated, which makes fat removal easier.) Bring the strained stock to a simmer. Reserve approximately 2 cups of stock and set aside. Saute chopped onions and julienned carrots in vegetable oil until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add  sauerkraut, stir, and saute, covered, for 10 more minutes. Add to the stock in the pot along with reserved sauerkraut juice. Add mushrooms and let simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Warm butter over medium heat and quickly sift in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture (roux) is dark blond in color. Add reserved stock in a thin stream, whisking vigorously. Whisk the resulting sauce into the soup. Adjust the salt and season generously with pepper. Return the short ribs to the soup and let warm through for 5 minutes. Stir in dill just before serving. Serve with sour cream on the side.

The next soup I chose to do is Summer Schi.  I wanted to do a comparison as to how the two schi's differed. Wow, let's just say night and day difference!  The summer soup is full of pure vegetable flavor and just looks gorgeous when garnished.  The vegetables are your everyday stock pantry veggies which I imagine are also staples in Siberia:  potato, celery, carrot, onion and spinach.  I think this is the most pleasing to the eye soup I have ever made, and I make a ton of soup!  Even though this is considered a lighter summer soup, if you substituted chicken stock for the water and added more cream, this could be a hearty winter soup no problem. 

Summer Schi Soup

Summer Schi Soup (adapted from ruscuisine)
6 cups water
1 lb sorrel
1 lb spinach
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 potatoes peeled and chopped
1 TB fresh Dill, chopped
1/2 cup cream
4 eggs hard boiled, sliced
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp black pepper

Bring water to a boil. Add onion, carrot, celery, spinach, potatoes and pepper and boil for 15 minutes. Add sorrel, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir the cream and fresh dill. Serve with a slice of egg and a teaspoon of sour cream.

Finally, my last dish is simply called Baked Pumpkin. What, no great ethnic name???  I know, I know!  I searched for some wonderful Russian name to no avail. I love this healthy pumpkin dish with the odd combination of hard boiled eggs and bread crumbs. I love to pair the unexpected and odd flavor combos and that is what drew me to this dish.  This was a quick and easy dish that will compliment just about any fall and winter meal.

Baked Pumpkin

Baked Pumpkin (adapted from ruscuisine)
1 lb pumpkin
1 tbsp butter
1/2 c cream
3 tbsp dried and finely ground bread-crumbs
2 ea eggs hard boiled
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp almonds ground

Boil pumpkin in salted water, cut it in strips. Put them in a stew-pan, sprinkle with dried and finely ground bread-crumbs. Chop eggs finely. Cover the top with chopped eggs and pour over cream. Bake in the oven for a half an hour. Before serving sprinkle with sugar and ground almonds.

I am amazed at the variations in Russian dishes and even more shocked at how healthy many of the recipes are.  I hope you will also explore this area next time you are wanting to try something different and put this remote area on your "must" list.  I would like to thank the Friend family for allowing me to use their beautiful photos from Russia.
Arctic Sun Baikal (courtesy of Marty Friend)
Kazansky (courtesy of Marty Friend)

Wall (courtesy of Marty Friend)

 Voting for the second round of Project Food Blog begins September 27 ~ September 30.  Those moving on will be announced October 1.  The 400 contestants will then be whittled down to 200 so every vote counts!  You will have 200 votes so please vote for me!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last Day To Vote PFB! Hurry-Ends Sept. 23,2010

Hurry!  Have you cast your votes for your favorite PFB entry posts yet?
Hurry!  Voting ends today at 6 pm PST.  Please cast one of your 400 votes for me!
Good Luck to everyone!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vote For Me! Project Food Blog Voting Now Open!

Woohoo!  And the voting begins!
Project Food Blog is now officially open for voting and you have until September 23, 2010 to vote. Yes, only 3 days to vote! Please click on PFB profile and vote for me-thanks!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Foodbuzz Next Blog Star Challenge #1

Excited. Nervous. Anxious. Wow!  I am feeling so many mixed emotions upon writing the first challenge for the Project Food Blog Contest.  Foodbuzz is having one huge contest to determine who is THE best food blogger from their Featured Publishers.  There are 2000 bloggers competing to be THE ONE standing after ten challenges.  This first challenge will only leave 400 moving on to the next challenge!!!  Check out my profile by clicking on my entry on the right side my blog.  To be amongst some truly awesome foodies with blogs one can dream and drool over and so many bloggers I admire and draw strength and inspiration from is beyond words. 

Having been a Caterer, Personal Chef and Culinary Director, I do have the knowledge and basic background for blogging. However, this alone does not make a well rounded blogger.  Does it really matter to the reader that their diced onion be 1/8" cubed (it doesn't make it taste differently so no need to stress over it) or that the majority of readers don't know the difference between a roasting chicken and a capon? (I know many would really rather not know what a capon is).   I draw upon memories of my family growing up and the strong influence they have had in my foodie world and thank them for the passion for food they have instilled in me.  I was exposed to so many different types of food growing up coming from a French, Irish and German background (and whatever else might be sprinkled in there) that I had no choice but to fall in love with every type of cuisine imaginable.  Every gathering was a need to celebrate food in every form!  I feel very privileged to have had such great food memories.  
Memere and Pepere

Mom Mom
  I loved to eat but never really had to cook because my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother did it all from scratch.  Even back then the kitchen was the hub of the house and my grandmother made it look so effortless with her grandiose dinner parties and holiday spreads.  While blogging I hope to invoke that warm, cozy feeling of family and good friends while opening up my home and memories.  I hope my readers will pull up a seat with their favorite beverage and cook along with me.
Loudenville Home
I remember coming home from school to homemade chocolate whoopie pies, which by the way were the bomb!  Everyday my mom had a "homemade with love" snack for me and my brother after stepping off the bus.  With all the great food surrounding me growing up it's no wonder I was a chubby child!

Fast forward through college and having my own family.  I had no more excuses, I had to learn how to feed the family!
Family circa 1934

Thank goodness my first child was a healthy eater as I was feeding him healthier versions of classics and very little meat.  Taking the classics (or not so classics) and putting a healthy twist on things is what helps me stand apart from many other bloggers.  I love to take my wonderful food memories and experiment with new ways to infuse that healthy twist and make it taste just as good, if not better, than the original.  I will also be the first to admit that I am the Queen of taking whatever is in the fridge, freezer and pantry and throwing together mind blowing meals!

Pleasurable reading to me involves cookbooks (the most recent is my family cookbook of five generations of recipes), cooking magazines, blogs and numerous recipe sites.  Not much is different in the entertainment realm either as the t.v. is always on some sort of reality cooking show or food channel!  Eat, Sleep and Live all things food IS my world. 

In short, I standout from other blogs because I stand tall and am proud of who I am and the passion I have for great food.  I am fearless in the kitchen and pair the most unusual things together.  How boring is it to be stuck in a food rut and never try new things???  I hope I convey the feeling and celebration of my family.  Being in the kitchen is not a chore for me, it's an escape to my happy place.
Food ~ Family ~ Memories = One passionate food blogger!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vote For Me In Palm Plate Review!

Yea!  I am one of the runner's up in the Marx Food Palm Plate Review.  Four winners have been chosen and now Marx Food is opening up to the public to vote on the other winners from the runner's up list. Please go to the Marx Food link and vote for me through the 19th.  I recommend the Palm Plates to all!

Friday, September 10, 2010

UGH - It's Back To School Lunches

It's back to school time! Since most of the states have started their new school year, I feel compelled to comment (if you know me, you know I rarely make just ONE comment) about the dilemma of whether to pack lunch or buy from the cafeteria. My oldest child is in college and my youngest is in second grade so I have been facing this dilemma for what seems like forever! My biggest gripe is that if my child buys lunch from the cafeteria I should not have to worry about the choices he makes because the school should be following the guidelines.  It should be healthy, no matter the combination chosen.

School lunch programs should follow The U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines (remember when we had to learn in school many moons ago the Food Pyramid?) if the school is federally funded. While the USDA does require that the meals meet certain nutritional standards, schools choose the specific foods. This should be a no-brainer, right?  As usual, things are never that easy.  While it is more economical for the most part to purchase a school lunch (ours is $2.00 average depending on what grade child is in) vs. packing a lunch, parents really need to study the school menu.

According to a article, a school breakfast fares pretty well compared to a school lunch. The not so surprising fact is that many schools are not complying with the guidelines. And you better do a double take of the menu if your child attends a private school where more than likely that school is not receiving federal funding for it's food program. Basically, no federal funding means no rules for nutrition.

My school system does an ok job with the lunch menu and they have received the USDA Gold Award in the HealthierUS School Challenge. There is no frying anymore, only baked which is a step in the right direction. Gone also are the white rolls having been replaced with wheat rolls. They still have chocolate milk which tends to have the same amount of sugar as a canned soft drink. Check out my good friend Jamie Oliver's stats (ok, in my mind we are best buds and have a passion for the same things) and read about his Food Revolution.

Our school menu seems to be on a four week rotation and there is one particular lunch I cringe over, so much so that I am seriously thinking of making an appointment with the Director of Dietary to discuss it. Let's just say that my child chose pizza, mashed potatoes and a roll for his lunch! Don't even get me started that elementary kids can also get extras via ala carte if they have extra money! I found this out when my child was collecting all the loose change around the house to support his ice cream addiction! Parents are none the wiser either and must notify the school that their child not be allowed to purchase ala carte. Another slap in the face is the menu at the high school but that would take another post on its own!

In short, parents need to be proactive in lunch programs and discuss with their child what the better choice is  for their meal. Make that appointment with the school cafeteria manager and district dietary director.  Visit school and have lunch with your child to see what is being served (added bonus is your child will love having you as a guest).   Help our children lead healthy lives with healthy choices.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Comments Disappeared???

I have been getting several messages that the comment section had disappeared on the blog for some reason. I think I have fixed it now so comment away! For those of you who sent me comments on the Peppadew Giveaway, not to worry, you will be entered in the giveaway. I will extend the Giveaway until September 13, 2010 (Monday)due to this glitch so hurry and post your comments!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hurry & Enter! Deadline is Friday Sept. 10th

Just a quick note that you must post a comment on my blog to be eligible for the Peppadew Giveaway.  Although I do enjoy getting messages and comments on other sites, you need to visit the Peppadew Pepper site (read blog entry below for websites) and peruse their yummy products and post what you would love to try.  Remember, there will be 3 winners for this great giveaway. But you need hurry since the deadline to enter is this Friday!  Good Luck!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peppadew Giveaway! Peppadew Giveaway! Peppadew Giveaway!

I am SO EXCITED about this giveaway! 
Peppadew International  is one of my favorite gourmet pepper lines, so much so that I can honestly say that I love all of their products. How often can you say that?  Peppadew was one of the first gourmet food lines I carried in my retail store and customers absolutely fell in love with them. 

So what exactly is Peppadew International?  Peppadew is a South African company that has designed a line of gourmet products from the sweet piquanté pepper.  They have found a way to balance the sweetness with the spice and keep the pepper crisp all at the same time.  My mouth is watering just thinking about the peppers!  Here is a link that will give you more information on just what made Peppadew a top ten out of 50,000 at the NY Fancy Food Show in 2003.

 I must admit that at times my lunch consisted of only Peppadew Potato Chips. I love the thicker cut of the chip which is coated with a special blend of that sweet and spicy goodness.  I swear after your first bite you will not be able to eat just one of these.  I love to use the chip in place of crackers also for things such as chicken or tuna salad.  YUM!  I also love the Splash-On-Sauce hot sauce which takes your food to the next level whether it be on eggs, ethnic dishes, soup, beans, meats or cheeses. Whatever you can think of to try this on , the food will definately be complemented by any of the pepper products and will make food dance in your mouth.       
So, for this great giveaway there will be 3 winners!  Yes, I said 3!  How great is that??!!!  The giveaway will begin today, August 30 and run through September 10, 2010.  Complete the two little requirements to be eligible for the giveaway:

1.)  Follow my blog and post a comment that you have done so.

2.)  Visit the Peppadew site and let me know what products you would love to have in your kitchen.  Post a comment on my blog telling me which products caught your eye. 

The winners will be chosen at random on September 10, 2010 and notified via email. 
Good Luck!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Toasted Pine Nut Lemon/Blueberry Mini Bundt. Yes, I Am Impressed With Myself!

A baker I am not.  I generally don't like to bake because I have had more flops than rave reviews.  Don't get me wrong, most of the time anything I try to bake tastes perfectly yummy, however, I have never claimed to be Picasso, O'Keeffe, Monet or even Duff.  Baking induces anxiety in me kind of like Finite did in college. In baking, everything needs to be precise and measured.  I don't like to measure or follow recipes. I consider myself to be more of a free spirit when it comes to cooking - no measuring, no rules, no recipes = perfection in the kitchen.

Having rambled enough, I had fresh blueberries I was itching to do something with.  Blueberry anything is my favorite and I was craving blueberry muffins but wanted something more filling (so I wouldn't eat half a dozen at one time) and opted for mini bundt cakes.  I took a basic recipe and altered it to what I had on hand and thought might actually turn out well.  This was a big risk for me (see opening note) so I actually measured what I added and wrote it down (another big deal for me since I rarely write my recipes down).  What I came up with was a Toasted Pine Nut  Lemon/Blueberry Mini Bundt Cake and just let me say HOW VERY IMPRESSED WITH MYSELF I AM! 

Toasted Pine Nut Lemon/Blueberry Mini Bundt Cakes
1/3 cup  Butter - softened
2  Eggs - room temperature
1  Lemon juiced & pulp
2 T.  Lemon zest
1 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 cup Milk (use whole or 2 %)
2 cups Fresh Blueberries
1 cup Pine Nuts - Toasted
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees and grease and flour pan

Mix flour, baking soda and salt in bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well with each egg.  Add lemon juice with pulp and lemon zest.  Alternate adding milk and flour a little at a time and mix well (don't over mix though).

Fold in blueberries and toasted pine nuts.  Pour into pan and bake approx. 25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

*Tip for toasting nuts - Put nuts in skillet over medium heat and toss continuously.  When you start to smell their nutty fragrance they are done.  It's very easy to burn nuts while toasting so don't walk away.

Note - I'm still finding it hard to eat just one!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Palm Plates Biodegradable Review

First, let me start this post by thanking Justin Marx at Marx Foods for the sample of the Palm Plates.  I had forgotten that I was going to be receiving them so it was a great surprise when UPS came to the door!  I was expecting a small box or envelope with a plate - yes, 1 plate - so I was shocked when a decent sized box was packed with several plates of different sizes.

After opening the box, I have to admit that the top few plates were not the prettiest things I had seen.  They actually looked like they had been used and  picked out of the trash (sorry Justin, you said to be honest) and boxed.  Even my son, who was home from college, thought I had a pile of plates to be thrown away (again, sorry Justin) when I questioned why he wasn't using them.  This is where the old saying "don't judge a book by its cover" comes in (it's going to get really good Justin).  This is one of the prettier plates!

Palm Plates are a disposable and biodegradable plate made from leaves that have fallen from the Adaka palm tree.  The leaves are not picked or cut off nor is the tree cut down for this process, they are actually gathered from the ground and so the process begins. Please visit their site to read about the rest of the green production process.

The plates are not all the same size or thickness due to the natural product, so I knew there would be variations in this as well as the color of each plate.  I picked them up and inspected several and was almost convinced these were not disposable due to how sturdy they were.  The thought even crossed my mind to wash them when finished with dinner (I still might try this with the couple I have left) just to see how well they hold up to water.  I would love to try the bowls to hold soup or cereal!  Yes, Palm Plates even makes bowls, utensils, several shapes of plates and entire place settings - everything you need except the drinkware for your next soiree.

Not only was I impressed with how sturdy the plates were, the smallest size I tried held a TON of food.  The picture below has at least 2 cups of melon, a container of yogurt, a small bagel and the scattering of blueberries. As you can see, there is still room for plenty more on that plate!  These plates would hold a Thanksgiving feast no problem without the need to refill. 

Needless to say, I absolutely love these plates!  After getting past "the face only a mother could love",  I looked deeper and found true beauty.  I would use these every meal if I could get away with it (told you it would get better Justin).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Food Giveaway

I am so excited to be able to be offering a food giveaway very soon!  Several years ago I owned a retail  business that offered gourmet food products and had a few favorites that I  really got hooked on.  I wanted to be able to promote some of those companies with a giveaway and share the goodness!  Details coming soon!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Need A Mommy Drink

After a long and exhausting day of back to school shopping (and the sticker shock from the purchased school supplies), I really needed a "mommy drink" or two or even three!  I was craving  a Midori concoction but was out.  Thank goodness I remembered I still had some fresh white honeydew from the farmers market that I could use.  Let me just say that this white honeydew is the sweetest thing that has passed through these lips all summer - yum!  However, as wonderful as this melon is, I do NEED a light libation to get me through dinner prep. 
After blending honeydew, cantaloupe, a splash of orange juice, ice & a squeeze of lime, I needed to decide what type of liquor to add to take this summer cooler over the top. So many choices that I couldn't decide so I added several.  After about an ounce each of vodka, tequila, gin & a splash of white zinfandel, I believe I had my drink!  The melon cooler reminded me of a Long Iced Tea because I couldn't taste any of the alcohol!  So good yet has the potential to be dangerous if I drink too many! 

 Perfect way to unwind while I grilled burgers loaded with fresh veggies (yes, there is a burger under it all) for dinner.  What a great summer meal!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fermented Legumes Anyone?

I love to eat healthy foods as much as possible and don't know why I have never tried tempeh - (pronounced "tem-pay") in the past. The other day while grocery shopping it happened to catch my eye and there were only three boxes of it so I decided to snatch them up. If I didn't like it I could always find some concoction to use it in or feed it to the dogs.So what exactly is tempeh? Originating in what is now modern day Indonesia, tempeh consists of fermented soybeans and a tempeh starter (Rizopus mold). Sound yummy? The brand I purchased, Lightlife Tempehtations, is ginger and teriyaki marinated cubes that take only a few minutes to prepare. The organic cubes have soybeans, brown rice, water & lactic acid derived from plants in addition to the marinade.
I used a tablespoon or so of olive oil and threw in some green onion and water chestnuts then sauteed until golden brown. The aroma had my taste buds excited and I couldn't wait to try it. It was pretty tasty, although a little too sweet for my taste (hence adding wasabi paste), however I was fairly satisfied. Next box I will keep the green onion and water chestnuts and add fresh garlic, mushrooms, soba noodles and some sort of hot pepper to balance the sweetness. I am positive that with the changes this dish will become a favorite!
This is an excellent vegetarian option or perfect for one of those nights you don't want to serve meat, yet want the texture.

New Blog Layout

No, you're eyes are not playing tricks on you. I am working on a new layout and design for my blog so each time you visit in the next week or so you may see a different layout each time. Please be patient as I work on figuring out what is most pleasing to the eye.
I have also been looking at new cameras since mine is one of the first models that came out when digital cameras were new (wow-it's really old) and the megapixels are low also. I can't wait to be able to post beautiful pictures that are in the same league as my fellow bloggers! Feel free to offer suggestions on the best cameras.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Bounty

All weekend I have prepared meals from the wonderful bounty purchased at the farmers market. Dinner tonight was simple, light & just right for the heat we've had all weekend in Tennessee.

Eggplant, lime green bell peppers, white bell peppers, sweet red peppers, and sweet onion grilled to perfection then tossed with a splash of olive oil. Throw in grilled Italian roped sausage and toasted hoagie roles with an ice cold cervaza and life couldn't be any better tonight.