Thursday, May 31, 2007

Product Review Day

Quickie one today. I swear, I've been lazing around for what seems like months and now there is just over a week of school left for Abigail and I'm running around like a chicken with her head cut off! Who knew all these commitments could happen at the same time! Argh!

Anyway, while grocery shopping the other day, I spied this year's summer versions of Lay's Potato Chips. I picked up a bag of each, the flavors being Santa Fe Ranch and Italian Rosemary and Herb. I haven't tried the Santa Fe Ranch, only because I can't bring myself to open two bags of chips at the same time, and let me tell you, the Italian Rosemary and Herb are some of the best potato chips I have ever eaten. They are fantastic! They are very similar to a bistro style potato chip and full of flavor. They definitely taste of rosemary and herbs with just a little bit of a lingering heat on the back of the tongue. I will be buying these chips often this summer, and I can only hope that it recieves consideration as a permanent flavor. Yum! **Photo from

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

R is for Radish-Vegetable Wednesday

I've decided that going in order alphabetically doesn't make much sense for us. I'm working on a page where we can keep track and make sure that we hit every letter, and I'll be sure and link to it when it's ready. See, if I waited for R until we were there, it could be late July or August or even later and the radishes would not be what they are today. And that is sweet and wonderful. Yesterday I plucked the first handful of radishes out of my garden. There is something radically special about the first gleanings from the veggie patch. When I walked in the house with these gorgeous treasures, the kids got quite excited, and Abigail headed out to her garden and dutifully plucked one of her radishes.

The first words out of her mouth were "can I eat it?" Aha! She wants to eat a radish! Having not tried one yet myself, I did feel it fair to warn her that sometimes radishes can be "bitey", but then she cleaned it up, took a bite and declared it delicious. She savored that radish. We've had the perfect radish weather, as it's not been terribly hot, and these French Breakfast radishes have the tiniest bite, but mostly they are just sweet and crunchy. They're wonderful! And of course, needed to be used for dinner somehow. I turned to the current issue of Vegetarian Times which has several recipes I want to try and found a recipe for Couscous with Asparagus, Snow Peas, and Radishes. My Mom has an asparagus patch that is growing like crazy, so we headed over there for the daily picking, and the only thing I lacked was the snow peas. Chiding myself for not planting peas, we picked some up at the store and were in business.

This salad is light, refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. As is, it is completely vegan, although a carnivore probably could add some diced chicken or shrimp to the salad for a more substantial meal. But it was excellent as is. Andy ate two helpings, and I really considered it. Abigail enjoyed it and said I could pack some in her lunch. The only abstainer was Zander who has a touch of a cold or something and didn't really eat anyways. Abigail also liked the asparagus in this salad, even though it was blanched, I told her it was raw and she ate it up. Do try this salad- it's the perfect declaration of spring. The only changes I made to this salad was to eliminate the mint (not a fan) and I added a drizzle of olive oil. You could certainly leave that off, but I really think it added something. The fresh herbs are key though- so don't be clever and try to use dried, the fresh herbs combined with the lemon juice really sparkle.

I also should mention that my friend Joe at Culinary in The Country also made a couscous salad yesterday and his looks fabulous as well- so check that out if you have a chance.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We're Back!

We had a really great weekend away. It was great visiting with my brother and his wife and we're already looking forward to the next time. We did a little visiting, a little shopping, a little playing, and it seems a bit of eating.

Shortly after arriving, I realized we forgot to pack the kids toothbrushes and toothpaste, so we had to make a stop at the grocery store for that. While there, my brother wanted to take the opportunity to show us the new and improved cheese section, and that turned into an impromptu cheese party. Andy and I were only too thrilled to share some of our new found cheese knowledge.
If I remember right, we sampled, Cahill Porter, Butterkase, Manchego, Irish Cheddar, Bocconcini, and an herb cheese from Holland. They were all good of course, and my brother and sister in law found new cheeses that they enjoy from around the world. We also ate out a bit while visiting. We ate at a little Italian bistro where we enjoyed some fantastic pasta and sausage hoagies. We also indulged in some Chicago style pizza while visiting, as well as lunch at The Mall of America. I definitely feel over-fed from the weekend- although I'm sure the late night ColdStone Creamery did not help that feeling.

Then there was Ikea. Ikea, Ikea, how I love to shop thee. It's been such a long time since I was at an Ikea! We saw so many things that we would love to have. We did manage to pick up a bag full of odds and ends. We picked up some practical things like pot lid racks for the cupboards and a hamper for Zander. Then some not so practical like a huge canopy for Abigail's bed and a new can opener. Then there were the unexpected treasures. Like this mortar and pestle.
I've been wanting one for a long time, and fairly recently I saw an episode of Kylie Kwong where she made a tagine and used a mortar and pestle to combine about 30 herbs, spices, chiles, and aromatics. It looked amazing, so I'm looking forward to using this awesome kitchen tool. Then there was the most unexpected purchase, our new dining room table.

I have really been wanting a new table for some time now, but it's really not been an affordable option. This table was just the right price, and the perfect size. As is, it's actually a tiny bit smaller than our old table, but once it's expanded and has the two leaves dropped in, it's bigger. I love it. The old table was broken and put together so many times, it literally was on its last legs. My only problem with this table is it's so pretty! I like to have tablecloths on my table, and this one is too pretty to cover right now. The last thing I expected to come home with from Ikea is a new dining table! Next trip we may think about some new dining chairs too...

So there's some highlights from our trip. Now I have to dash off and figure out a grocery list for the week ahead. I have no idea what this week will bring...other than something Indian so I can use my new mortar and pestle. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Alpha-Veggie Challenge

This is the space where I will keep track of the vegetables we've tried to ensure that we don't miss any in the alphabet.

A- A is for Asparagus
B- B is for Broccoli
C- C is for Cucumber
R- R is for Radish
S- S is for Sugar Snap Peas

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sailing Away!

It's been a long while since Tummy Treasure has taken a bit of a break. This weekend our little family is taking a holiday and heading for the Twin Cities, so it's going to be quiet around here for a few days. This summer I'm hoping to get the equipment necessary for mobile blogging, but this time, it's just going to be a little blogging break for me.

So what are we seeing in the cities? Well, my brother and his wife for one thing. But then there's this:And how can we pass up THAT opportunity. I'm hoping to come away with an item or two to blog about next week. Have a very safe and enjoyable Memorial Weekend everyone! I'll be back on Tuesday.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Not Really A Salad...

But this is a good one! Featured in Paula Deen's magazine, it was generously shared by a member of the CLBB. If you recall, I posted a recipe not too long ago for a Snicker Salad- this is along those lines. A sweet salad, it's reminiscent of a Jello salad or an Ambrosia salad, and I would certainly have no qualms about serving it up next to the baked beans at the barbecue this weekend. For those of you who'd rather not have sweet with your meal, but for dessert, this would work there as well in a pudding-cup sort of way.

Banana Split Salad tastes just like a banana split. Andy described it best for me when he mentioned that it tastes like the puddle of go left at the bottom of your split after you've eaten most of it and the remains have melted together. It is pretty sweet, but completely worth it. I made this for Sunday Company Dinner this week and at the time, I wondered if I should chop up some chocolate to put in it. I didn't, and one of our guests brought a chocolate cake, so we all dug in and tried them together. It was pretty good, and I have to suggest that if you want to serve this salad as dessert, making a trifle out of it with chocolate cake would be a good way to dress it up a bit. But mostly, I just preferred it straight up in a bowl with a spoon. I topped mine with toasted coconut for a garnish, and I just don't think you could do better than that.

Banana Split Salad. Perfect for your Memorial Weekend get-togethers. That Paula Deen is a genius.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Simple Veggie Salad

Last night as I was grilling a few simple burgers for dinner, I went on a hunt into the depths of the fridge to see what kind of salad I could cobble together. I really had no idea what I would find, but managed to pull out a seedless cucumber and one each of a red and green bell pepper. With no greens turning up, I started thinking along the lines of a pasta salad of sorts, which progressed even further when I spied the pint of grape tomatoes hiding behind the stand mixer. I started chopping my vegetables into bite size chunks, and as I did so I spied a hunk of day old bread.

I was sad about the bread. I'd made it fresh yesterday to accompany a simple tortellini soup. Andy's been working very late, so he arrived home several hours after we'd finished eating, and I'd just assumed he'd wrap it up when he was finished with it. Not so. This morning I found the bread still sitting on the counter, not wrapped. And it was humid, so I knew the bread suffered. Rather than throw it out, I thought I'd salvage what I could for toast for breakfast and then torment myself staring at it all day. But as I chopped those vegetables and glared at that bread, inspiration struck. There was plenty of bread there, forget the pasta, I was making panzanella.

Panzanella is a simple salad created by Italians as a way to use up day-old bread. They would cube the bread and toss it with the vegetables of the day and a simple vinagrette. Anyone can make a panzanella! I cubed up my bread and tossed it with some olive oil, garlic powder and herbes de provence and toasted them up. The cubes went into the vegetables and we had ourselves a great salad with our burgers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Doing Our Part

I've really been trying to think more green these days. It wasn't that long ago when I was a casual recycler. Our city has mandatory recycling, but quite often I would find myself not wanting to rinse out a jar or two, so they would end up in the regular trash. Or I'd come home from grocery shopping with a mountain of plastic bags and just lump them all into the garbage together. I think it started with really seeing how much garbage we put out each week. When there were weeks with six, seven, or eight full size trash bags for a family of four, I was really embarrassed to have people walking by or driving by before it was picked up. We're gradually getting better.

One of the things I've started doing is probably a no-brainer to some, but I've started re-using the plastic bags from the grocery store. Instead of just tossing them, I save them to line our bathroom garbages, and our van garbage. When Zander was still in diapers we would use them to wrap each diaper tightly to attempt to conceal the odor. I've also become meticulous about washing out jars, bottles and cans, and our garbage is definitely shrinking every week. One thing I keep wanting to do is start a compost bin, since that is one of the biggest sources of waste for us. We're really limited on where we could put a bin in our yard though, so we're still researching that idea.

The whole point of this post is to share my latest attempt at going green. Recently on one of the bulletin boards I visit there was a big discussion about reusable shopping bags. I've often thought about doing that, but I could only imagine the looks I would get around here... I don't think I've ever seen anyone pull out their own bag for shopping. After a bit of research and shopping around, I found the bag I wanted. Reusable is the site I ultimately went with for ordering a bag. Now before you click that link, let me warn you, the stuff there is really cool. You will want one of everything- I have my eye on a few more items, that's for certain. Today I received my shopping bag. Here is a picture of it sitting on the counter next to my cell for size reference.
It's tiny when it's all folded up. Perfect for tucking into a purse, diaper bag, glove compartment, or a jacket pocket. Made of washable nylon, it's extremely light weight, and I wasted no time filling it with pantry goods to see how it would hold up.

I filled my shopping bag with:

48 oz. bottle juice
18 oz bottle BBQ sauce
24 oz box raisins
21 oz can pie filling
8 oz can sunflower seeds
16 oz jar hot fudge sauce
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 package chocolate chips
1 can tuna
3 boxes Jello
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can cocoa
2 boxes Rice-A-Roni

This bag still fit comfortably in my hand, and I carried it around the house for a bit to see how it felt after a few minutes. Now had I bought this stuff today and put it in plastic, it would have easily been five bags- the juice itself would have gotten one bag by itself. I already love this bag and I haven't really used it. Since we live just a five minute walk from the local store, I frequently find myself dashing off for just a few things instead of making a full shopping trip. I figure that with this bag alone I can save myself probably 10 bags per week. After a few test runs, I plan on buying a few more of these bags to stash in the van for the larger shopping trips.

Are you green? I'd love to hear what you do to do your part. And don't forget to visit Reusable Bags, they are highly recommended by The Waz household. To read about another way we're trying to do our part, be sure to check out my article tomorrow on Kids Cuisine.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Fishy Findings

Fish isn't something that makes a frequent appearance on our dinner table. After one issue of Abigail not wanting to eat fish, I just proclaimed my kids non-fish eaters and stayed away from it. Fish for dinner meant a separate chicken entree for the kids, which meant I was making two dinners. And I really hate to do that. The last time I wanted to make fried fish, I decided I was just making fried fish, so when the kids asked what was for dinner, and I told them fish, they both looked at me like I was from outer space. Lucky for me though, they both decided to be brave and try it out. They each polished off a rather large chunk of beer-battered cod before declaring that they liked fish.

Then a few weeks ago we had dinner with my parents and my Dad made some cajun-seasoned tilapia. It was insanely good, and while Abigail didn't want any, Zander gobbled it up, telling Grampa it was really good fish, but it made his tongue tickly. After two successful fishings in a row, I figured it was safe to say that my kids were converted.

So when Zander and I were out shopping last week I spied some swordfish, and it simply had to go in my cart. I've been thinking about swordfish ever since I saw Tyler Florence make some on a Food 911 episode. I made a quick Asian flavored marinade for it from lime juice, low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper and bathed the steaks for about 20 minutes. (I really wanted to add some chili flakes, but cooking for kids, you know.) To accompany I made a rather forgettable Thai Peanut Salad and some matchstick veggies in soy butter. The veggies were perfect for letting the fish star. When I put a portion on each of the kids plates they looked at me kind of funny, but agreed that they would try it. Not only did they like it, but they inhaled it, both finding it amusing that they liked to eat swordfish. I am thrilled because I want to cook more fish, and this completely opens up the door for other fish dinners at our house. So keep an eye out, I hope there will be plenty of fishy options coming this summer from my kitchen.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Something New To Try

Have you seen Izze anywhere? I mean, how could I not buy some to try it, it's so attractive! It's labelled as a sparkling fruit juice that is naturally sweetened. And look at the flavors it comes in! Apple, blueberry, pomegranate, clementine, grapefruit, pear, lemon, and blackberry. Seriously, you cannot buy soda in those fun flavors. The tough part was picking just one to try. Pear would have won if my store had it, but I settled for blueberry after a long staring match with the pomegranate.

Ingredients: pure juice from grape, apple, blueberry, lemon and acerola juice concentrates, sparkling water, natural flavors.

Nutrition information is listed for both one bottle and one serving of 8 ounces. Most beverages list information for just the 8 ounce serving, misleading the consumer into thinking that one bottle is one serving.

And the flavor? Is excellent. The blueberry tastes like blueberry with hints of grape and apple in the finish. The carbonation is not excessive, just enough to be pleasant. Overall it is a very refreshing beverage. It lacks that sugary sweetness that most sodas have, and it actually does satisfy my thirst. As I'm sitting here with some in a glass, I've decided that I quite enjoy it,and I'm looking forward to trying all the flavors. The only thing that Izze could do for me that it doesn't is package it in a resealable container. Container beverages like soda, iced tea, and water for us are most often reserved for on the road drinking. And while it does come in cans, I would like to see something resealable that can be tucked into a tote bag for sipping. Overall, two thumbs up from me. It's a little pricey, but I think if I were to be debating between something like Izze or a soda, the extra price would be worth the fact that it's much, much better for you to drink.

**photo courtesy

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

A quick post today! I just had to share this little tidbit this morning. You'll remember a few months ago I made homemade pita bread. Well, I finally got around to trying a whole wheat version and it was fantastic. I don't think the process was any different than with the white flours, except that I did let it rise longer. Oddly enough, the whole wheat actually produced much cleaner pockets as well. My only problem with them was that the pockets were thin, meaning cutting the pita into halves and stuffing them really wasn't an option, the thinness on one side wouldn't hold anything. I had one split perfectly, but I think part of that was because I cut into it while it was warm, saw the beginning of a pocket and used a knife to finish it. Maybe that's the secret?

Anyway. The whole wheat version is the same as the white version, only I subbed in half whole wheat-regular red whole wheat flour. So it was 1 1/2 cups whole wheat, 1 1/2 cups bread flour. Using bread flour I think was key with the whole wheat as it gave some texture to the pitas. Definitely worth making on your won, Whole wheat pita bread is fantastic.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I'm taking a blogging break today to send all my readers elsewhere.

To see something truly amazing, head on over to Winosandfoodies and see the results of A Taste of Yellow. Not only will Barbara's story inspire you, but she inspired foodies from around the globe and compiled a round-up consisting of all 143 blog postings supporting LiveSTRONG day. Go check it out.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Grilled Vegetables Times Two

The one thing I wanted Andy to make me for Mother's Day was grilled vegetables. I didn't care about anything else, but I wanted the veggies. So I picked up a nice selection of vegetables and he prepared them for me. We used zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, fennel, red bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes, and the blend was perfect. He put them on our large pizza pan and grilled them that way- they were perfect, but of course, we made a bit too much.

Yesterday I opened up the fridge to see what I could prepare for dinner and I spotted those leftover veggies and puzzled over them for a bit. After a while, I decided they needed to go in pasta- and since Zander had just requested spaghetti, spaghetti it was. My original thought was a spaghetti tossed with the roasted veggies and olive oil, but I suspected the kids would not jump up and cheer over that spaghetti. So I opted for a marinara instead. I boiled up my spaghetti, and warmed a jar of marinara with the roasted vegetables in it. I daresay, there could not have been a better use for those vegetables. In fact, it tasted a lot like a spaghetti dish I get at a local restaurant. The star was clearly the fennel- it was made to be grilled and tossed in marinara I tell you.

The kids gobbled it up, I gobbled it up, and there is a small bit left in the fridge waiting for me for lunch today. Grilled vegetables can go a long way, but tossed with some whole wheat spaghetti has to be one of the best uses for them. I mention the whole wheat spaghetti because we've switched to whole wheat pasta, and no one has really noticed. I think Andy and I have now adjusted to where that is the flavor we prefer for pasta, but the kids never really noticed. They still slurp up their spaghetti and rave about it all the way. The biggest change that has come about because of the whole wheat pasta is that we all eat a little less. The whole grains fill us up more than regular standard pasta, so we eat less, which means I can make less, which ultimately translates to savings in the checkbook- all from switching to a different pasta. If you haven't tried it yet, you really should.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Sure Way

To get my kids to eat their veggies. My kids love raw vegetables. Veggies and dip is one of Abigail's favorite snack. If I'm preparing dinner, and there is chopping of vegetables involved, I always have to give my kids a bit of the vegetables. Because of this, when I am cooking with something they really love, like red bell pepper, I actually pick up more pepper than I need, because I know they will happily gobble up half of it before it makes it to my pan. I'm okay with that. I love that they love their vegetables raw- they're full of nutrients and vitamins that way. And in fact, I've even thought about picking up a raw food cookbook for them, except that I don't think they'd welcome strangeness with their food. Things like vinaigrette's are to much for their little palates. Although last night Zander surprised me and gobbled up his salad at dinner time. I had made a salad of mixed spring greens, and usually both kids don't care so much for those little lettuces. Well, Zander inhaled it, even stopping to ask me what some of the leaves were called. Guess I should have planted a spring mix instead of just romaine. :-)

But what they do love is a good vegetable dip. They both love ranch dressing as a dipper, but Abigail's favorite is doubly good for her, and that is spinach dip. A simple dip made from sour cream, mayo, veggie soup mix, and spinach, she inhales it with vegetables, or even the occasional chip. I love that they're eating spinach up, and you know I always use a little more spinach than is called for to ensure that they're getting more of the good stuff. This time I also left out the can of water chestnuts called for and chopped up some artichoke heart bottoms instead. I really liked what that added to it. In the past I've also added a handful of feta cheese to change the flavor a bit, and that was also excellent. The add-ins are really endless. You could add some sun dried tomato paste for a new flavor profile and color, you cold add some freshly chopped herbs, or add some heat in the form of chipotle, smoked paprika, or aleppo pepper. Anyway you do it, Spinach Dip is a frequent flyer at our house.With that, I think I have pretty much decided that my regular Wednesday post is going to be devoted to vegetables. Some weeks it may be an update on our veggie challenge. Some weeks it may be a round-up of interesting veggie recipes from around the blogosphere. And some days, maybe it will be exploring something new from vegetarian or vegan cuisine. However it ends up, I hope you'll join me for my Veggie Exploration. It should be fun, and we are less than one month away to the farmer's market being open. This will be a fun growing season.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Turning Into A Monster

An ice cream monster, that is. The other day after making that sorbet I was reminded of how easy homemade frozen treats can be. Feeling all proud of myself for tackling and succeeding at sorbet, I wanted to tackle something else I hadn't before-Gelato. Thanks to The Chocolate Gourmand, I had a little of an idea about what gelato was and what its make-up consisted of. I know now that one of the differences between ice cream and gelato is the milk and cream. Gelato is not made from cream like ice cream is. Gelato is made from milk, so it's more dense, since that cream isn't there to pull in air bubble and expand the ice cream. So in essence, I figured gelato should be that much more flavorful! One of my problems with homemade ice cream is the "coat factor". I can make a really luscious ice cream, but I hate the fact that all that cream feels heavy on the tongue.

Not so with gelato. :-) After seeing an extremely decadent recipe at Ice Cream Ireland, I was craving cinnamon. (Go, check out Ice Cream Ireland, I know you want to!) While I was out yesterday, I picked up some Organic Valley whole milk and half & half. If I was going to make gelato- I wanted the best milk money can buy. After coming home I went to find a recipe online, and couldn't find one. So once again, I had to kind of extract things from other gelato recipes I found. I started with egg yolks, corn syrup and sugar. From my ice cream experience, adding a touch of corn syrup helps keep the texture smooth, but you could leave it out if you avoid corn syrup. Once that was all mixed up I added in my milks and then placed the mixture on top of a double boiler. I cooked it to 180, stirring constantly, before chilling in a water bath and adding vanilla and sea salt. After it was completely cool, I poured it into my ice cream maker and away it went.

The gelato took a little longer than my ice creams to bulk up, but it was so creamy and wonderful! When I thought there was about five minutes left, I dumped in 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, which was actually 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Cassia and 1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese Cinnamon. I dumped the whole mixture into a Rubbermaid container that I use only for ice cream and tossed it in the freezer for a few hours. It was perfect. Really perfect. It was full if cinnamon flavor, it had a nice creamy texture (as much as homemade can give you, I guess) and it didn't have that "coat factor". In fact, it was so good, that I am eagerly awaiting my freezer container's return to frozen state so that I can make more gelato. Really, I daresay that ice cream may be a thing of the past. Homemade gelato is fantastic. And did I mention it can be flavored with just about anything? My recipe for Cinnamon Gelato is ready and waiting for anyone who has a craving.

Friday, May 11, 2007

My 200th Recipe!

I just realized that this morning I imported my 200th recipe into my Recipe Trove. That's a lot of cooking going on! Just 200 recipes, and there are so many that I make that aren't even in there yet! It's pretty exciting to me to go online and view my counters for each of my blogs, and see that the Recipe Trove gets about 50 hits a day- that's quite a few people looking for something good to cook. And that's 50 people looking to cook in the first place- that's encouraging, I hope they're finding what they are looking for there.

It just so happens that the 200th recipe is one that is fitting for a celebration this time of year. You can't have a picnic or a party in Wisconsin this time of year without a bowl of potato salad. Potato Salad also happens to be one of the things I learned to make from my mom. Which of course means there is no recipe. It's toss a bit of this and a bit of that into a bowl and you have potato salad. I have managed with time to write down most of the recipe, and I think I have it right. And while that is usually the potato salad I make, I just had to try the one Emeril featured on his show. You know how sometimes you see a recipe being made and you just have to try it? That was the case with this potato salad. Potatoes, eggs, onions, and ranch dressing form the base of this potato salad, and then is gilded with the addition of bacon. Bacon! Now how could this potato salad be bad! Using ranch dressing instead of mayo was also interesting, so I just had to try it.

Emeril's Favorite Potato Salad is excellent. It's just enough different from standard potato salad to make it, well, different. The bacon adds a wonderful layer of flavor, and they only thing I would change for next time would be to add some radishes. Otherwise, the recipe is perfect as is. One thing that I would recommend is that you use a good quality ranch dressing for this recipe. I find that most reduced fat and fat free ranch dressings really lack depth, so I went with a bottle of Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch for this salad. Marie's is another ranch dressing I favor. Homemade dressing would be fine if you have one you really like, but make sure the dressing has flavor and isn't too sweet. I've been eating this salad all week with my lunch and will be sad to see it gone later today, it's most definitely a company worthy potato salad. And for those who are interested, I also have my version on Mom's Potato Salad in the Recipe Trove as well. I say my version because it's not the same as Mom's- but it is good, and similar in that you dump what you need into the bowl and see if you like it or if it needs more of something.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mango-Melon Sorbet

The other day I was visiting a blog that I really enjoy. The Chocolate Gourmand is a newer blog to me, and it couldn't be more up my alley. Brian makes his own candies and chocolates, and given the time of year, he's into all sorts of ice creams and sorbets. The last recipe for mango sorbet did me in, and I determined that I really needed to get out my ice cream maker and try my hand at sorbet. I asked Brian how he thought cantaloupe would fare because I had a cut up cantaloupe that really was a little too ripe for eating, so it was either use it or toss it. Brian hasn't tried a melon sorbet yet, so I decided to give it a whirl.

A quick search didn't bring up too many recipes. I ended up reading through other sorbet recipes and came up with my own, which I have to say, is pretty darn good. And while I kept my sorbet alcohol free, I have to tell you, this would be a perfect foil for an adult dessert laced with a liqueur of some kind. I was thinking a midori for added melon flavor, or a good spiced rum for a different version. Either way it would work really well. The cantaloupe really shines with the addition of lime juice and the pinch of salt really brings everything together-don't skip it. The mango was probably a little superfluous, and you could do without, I just happened to have an over-ripe one in the fridge and decided to add it in. The combination of cantaloupe, mango, and lime juice gave the sorbet an almost tropical flavor, and it really is the perfect dessert for when you don't want something heavy.

The best part? I now know how to make a sorbet, and it was crazy-easy. So thanks Brian for the inspiration! And if you haven't checked out the Chocolate Gourmand before- you really should, his step by step photography makes everything look easy. (He really should go into the confectionary business!) I have the recipe for Mango-Melon Sorbet in the Recipe Trove, and it's my first ice cream/frozen dessert entry in over two years! I'll have to work on that I think. A gelato is seriously calling my name, so if I get into town to pick up some organic milk, I may do that later today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Saying Goodbye To Weigh-In Wednesday.

I've thought about this a bit over the last few weeks. I think it's time to put Weigh-In Wednesday behind me and focus on healthy eating versus weight loss. About a week or so ago I read an article on MSN about calorie restriction and it literally broke my heart to read it. It talked about grown adults who ate very little in an effort to lose weight. One 70-something year old man in particular had been enforcing a diet of heavy calorie restriction for years and years, and literally can't stop himself from eating so little. The heavy calorie restriction has literally shrunk him 5 inches, as his spine continues to weaken and slump. (Of course, now in a few searches I can't find this article to link to it.) In fact the article went on to discuss how severe calorie restriction is very similar to anorexia and could be considered an eating disorder in some cases.

The fact is I know people who are like this. I think there are many people in my generation who grew up being told to watch what they eat so they don't get fat. (For the record, not me.) It really is something to watch a normal healthy adult eat the tiniest portions of food because they fear getting fat. It's been programmed into them and as a result even their children are beginning to suffer. Their children's eating is monitored closely, and as we've all learned, children pattern eating after their parents, so these children are learning to eat little as well. The saddest part is that there is nothing I can do about it.

When I started Weigh-In Wednesday it was in the spirit of fun. It was a way to attempt to be accountable to myself in watching what I eat, and hopefully lose a little pudge from having babies. But to be honest, I am within a healthy weight zone (barely, but within) and according to my doctor, I am not overweight. I have excess pudge in places I would rather not, and yes, I would love to be back to my pre-baby svelte self, but I am not expecting to get there. My problem with continuing to put this out there is that I know people who are overweight- some by quite a bit. And while I doubt that they read my blog, I can't help but wonder what they would think of me if they saw me lamenting about losing a pound or two when they are obviously struggling with a much bigger problem. I think being conscious of eating healthy and exercising are important, but I care too much about the people I come in contact with everyday to continue lamenting about my trivial bit of padding.

So instead of focusing on weight, I'm going to focus on just being healthy- which is really what I do everyday. I may decide to turn Wednesday into a veggie day, but I'm not sure about that yet. If I ever do get into an exercise routine, you can bet I'll be posting about it, but you won't read about me trying to lose a few pounds anymore. I do eat smart and moderate everything. Lately I've been eating a lot of vegetables and upping the whole grains- I'm just in the mood. I think it balances a few weeks of heavy protein we had when we first turned on the grill. Some days I indulge in a dessert, some days I don't- yet some days I'll have two pieces of cake while others there are none. I think it all balances out, and as long as I'm not binging, I'm doing okay. I want to be an example for my children and show them that you can enjoy great food whenever you want, as long as you are smart about it. And with that, I close the book on Weigh-In Wednesday.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Feeding the Beast

I've really been craving vegetables lately. It must be the change of seasons has me craving freshness or something, but I just have not been able to get enough. Add to that my insane craving for something with Indian flavors, and you have tonight's dinner. It began with a cauliflower. I wanted to do something with cauliflower, but I didn't want to run to the store. A quick go-through of my authentic Indian cookbook revealed plenty of exotic ingredients that I don't have on hand (nigella seeds, asofetoeda, black mustard seeds to name a few). So I picked up an Indian cookbook that I think I only have ever used once.

New Indian Home Cooking by Madhu Gadia, M.S., R.D. is something I received in a cookbook swap. While the recipes seem mostly authentic to me, they are of the low-fat variety, so I seldom pick up this book. (Not that low-fat is bad, just tends to be a bit bland to me.) But the extremely simple recipe for Phul Gobhi Salad caught my eye right away. Translated, it simply means stir-fried salad. And that intrigued me.

The only problem I had with it was that there was no Indian flavor to it. It was simply vegetables, stir-fried with salt, pepper, and vegetable oil. I wanted Indian. So instead of following the recipe precisely, I added about a teaspoon of cumin seeds to my hot oil. I toasted those up a bit before tossing in my veggies, and the result was lip-smacking. I barely cooked them, they were still slightly crunchy, but oh were they good. With some homemade whole wheat pita bread and cantaloupe, it was a more than satisfying veggie dinner.
I didn't quite use the veggies in the recipe. My blend consisted of cauliflower, red bell pepper, onions, carrots, asparagus, and green peas. It was perfect- but I bet zucchini would have made it even better. Another book to check off my list and just many, many more to go.

I also just realized that this great big bowl of veggies is full of antioxidants and such, so that means this is a perfect candidate for Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday challenge. I almost always make a qualifying food AFTER she's posted the weekly round-up. Be sure to head over there and check out all the other heart-healthy submissions this week.

Yellow For A Good Cause

I haven't been participating too much in the blogging events as of late. Part of that, of course, has been my budgetary restrictions. But also, I just haven't felt inspired to be creative. This time though, I was inspired and moved. Barbara of winosandfoodies is hosting a one-off event in honor of Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong Day- which is May 16th. You can read more about her details here, but the long and short is that us bloggers were asked to make something from a yellow food to help raise awareness for cancer. That is definitely a cause I can get behind.

As luck would have it, just last week Abigail mentioned to me that we had never made a lemon pie together. And the second she said that, I knew that lemons were going to be my yellow food for A Taste of Yellow. I had planned to make a pie, but then that mail-lady left that package on my doorstep and Dorie Greenspan was beckoning. Before I even opened up the book, I knew Dorie was going to have something delightful and lemony for me to make. Sure enough, she did. How could I not try a recipe titled "The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart." I mean, come on! Just two lines into the description and Dorie was mentioning that French pastry genius Pierre Herme was responsible for this tart and well, I just had to do it.

I encountered a problem right off the bat. Even though I had all of the ingredients necessary for this tart on hand, (yes! On hand!) I lacked the one essential bit of equipment- a tart pan. So I opted to press my tart dough into a mini muffin pan and make The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tartlettes. The tart dough worked perfectly, and the lemon cream, while a bit time consuming, was very easy to put together. One recipe into this book and I adore Dorie Greenspan. She has a way of directing you that feels like your grandmother is in the kitchen guiding you. The recipes are written in a comfortable conversational tone with no detail left out. I knew exactly how the lemon cream was going to come together before I even began. After reading for months on other blogs, I can finally say that I see the obsession... Baking From my home to yours is a gem written by a gem.
I topped my tartlettes with honeyed strawberries and had a delightful dessert for company. Now normally, this is the part in my blog post where I direct you to my Recipe Trove for the recipe, but I'm not doing that this time. See, I have a personal policy that recipes from other bloggers get credit where credit is due, and since Dorie has recently joined the ranks of us bloggers, I don't quite feel right about posting this extraordinary recipe. So. If you have this book, do check out the recipe for The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart (page 331). If you don't have the book, and you beg me mercilessly, I may be persuaded to e-mail this recipe your way. In the meantime, please head over to Winosandfoodies on May 16th for a complete round-up of A Taste Of Yellow, and consider supporting other LiveStrong activities in your area.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

He Did It!

After getting a slow start with the playset due to a lack of battery power, the pro's showed up to lend Andy a hand at construction. ;-)

And after just a few hours, the behemoth was ready for occupation. And wouldn't you know, the kids have spent the last hour or so playing with the box it came in...

I don't know...

It doesn't look like very much fun to me...

Do you think Andy can get it put together today? I guess we'll find out. :-)

In the meantime... I think Dorie Greenspan is calling my name. I simply have to make something out of it so I can give it a proper review...don't you think? I guess I also need to add my new cookbooks to my masterlist, and remove some that I actually purged and got rid of. (I know, amazing right?)

Happy Saturday!

Friday, May 4, 2007

I Found Plunder!!


When I went out to my mailbox I found a nice sized package on my porch. I knew instantly what it was, and was quite excited to open it. It really was no coincidence that the day Andy got the call to go back to work, I received an offer I couldn't refuse from The Good Cook. :-)

Now I just have to figure our which one to crack open first.

And today's pirate reference is courtesy of CBS's new reality show this summer- Pirate Master. Seriously. Go check out the preview...looks like a ton of fun, and we'll be watching. And with the final installment of Pirates of The Caribbean on the way, it looks to be a pirate filled summer ahead.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A New Product Worth Checking Out

I love Organic Valley milk. It really is the best tasting milk, and I also know that I am supporting local farmers when I buy it. Sadly, it's a bit pricey, and since we go through a lot of milk, it isn't very often that Organic Valley finds its way into our cart. Last week while shopping though, a new product caught my eye, and we just had to try it. I found single serve Organic Valley milk in shelf-stable aseptic packaging. My only experience with shelf-stable milk is that it tastes pretty bad, but this was Organic Valley! They have standards to meet, so I plucked two cartons of chocolate off the shelf and into the cart.

Later that day I placed them in front of my kids, and they instantly liked the fun packaging and expanding straw. But it was the taste that won them over. Abigail guzzled her milk down like you wouldn't believe, declaring it the best chocolate milk ever- and would I get more of it for her. Zander drank about half of his (8 oz. is a lot of milk for a little boy), so Mommy and Daddy tried his. Seriously, it was the best chocolate milk ever. It was rich and creamy and loaded with chocolate flavor. At $1.00 per serving, its on the pricey side- but it's shelf stable! It's perfect for tucking into a lunch or for taking camping or on a hike. This week I'll be picking up some of the 1% milk to see how plain milk fares in the aseptic packaging. According to their website, they also package strawberry milk, and if I can find that I'll get it for Abigail for her lunches next week.

Organic Valley states that the shelf stable milk has been Ultra-Pasteurized, and for those who think that means radiation, I thought I'd let you know that is not the case. Ultra-Pasteurization simply means that the milk has been heated to temperatures over 300ºF for a few seconds to eliminate bacteria and germs from the milk. Often times you can taste the difference, and the milks that have been ultra-pasteurized do have a "cooked milk" taste to them. But I can assure you that ultra-pasteurized milk (at least from Organic Valley) has not been irradiated with toxins. For more information on the pasteurization process, go check out the Organic Valley website- which is a neat site to check out anyway.

**Milk pictures courtesy Organic Valley website.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Asparagus and Groceries

I don't have a whole lot to post about, but thought I'd share a bit of a funny this morning. This week Andy gets a real paycheck for the first time in 4 1/2 months, and I get to go real grocery shopping. And of course, I'm super excited about being able to spend more than the tiny budget I've been working with. I'm also excited to return to my favorite grocery store after months of grocery shopping at Wal-Mart. Oddly enough though, last night when I asked Andy what he wanted for lunches, dinners, etc. he came up blank. Which is funny because I was also staring at a blank page. I'm so used to minimal grocery lists and meals that include the basics that I'm having a tough time making a list. The only thing I'm in the mood for is vegetables, and the only thing on the menu so far is a steak dinner. I plan on picking on of my Cooking Light recipes to try over the next week, but other than that... it's a different situation to be in I guess. I'm beginning to think that instead of the "big grocery shop" that I'd been planning the last few months that I will just add a few extra things to the cart over the next few weeks and do it gradually. Any new finds out there that are must haves?

Secondly this morning, I have a new article up at Kids Cuisine. Want to know how our asparagus adventure turned out? You can read about the adventure and our conclusions here. It was an interesting experience, I have to say. I am working on making a list of B vegetables for Abigail to pick from. So far I have broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts, beets, and butternut squash. I know she won't be picking the brussels sprouts, but thought I'd throw it in anyway. But am I overlooking something that's a B vegetable?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Company Dinner Conundrum

This past Sunday for Company Dinner, I was really having a tough time coming up with something to make. My brain just didn't want to function, and I really didn't want to think about cooking for 14- five of which are children. Then I was online chatting with a few people about catering, and I was sternly reminded that I had successfully catered a wedding for 100- surely I could pull together a Sunday Dinner for 14. Once I was in that mindset, dinner ideas came freely, and began with Teriyaki Chicken. After finding some ultra ripe pineapple and strawberries, fruit skewers were also easy to come up with, but I needed a side dish. I went back and forth on many different ideas- the only thing they all had in common was noodles.

Then I remembered a baked noodle dish from Cooking Light that I'd only ever made once, but I remembered we enjoyed it and wanted to try it again. That one won, and I picked up the necessary veggies. It begins with shiitake mushrooms and red bell pepper sauteed in sesame oil. That right there fills the house with an incredible aroma! To this, garlic and ginger are added as well as chicken broth, corn starch, and soy sauce. After it thickens nicely, thinly sliced bok choy, scallions, and sesame seeds are mixed in (hot pepper flakes too for some heat!) and then some cooked spaghetti is thrown in. This whole mixture is dumped into a baking dish and topped with a panko crumb topping before baking. The result is a wonderfully easy noodle dish, brimming with flavor. This is something that you can make it, bake it, and eat it right away, OR you can assemble and then refrigerate until you are ready to bake. I love dishes like that- especially when company is calling.

Baked Sesame Chicken Noodles were the perfect accompaniment to teriyaki chicken, and they are also excellent as leftovers, warmed in a microwave. You can make them with or without the chicken, and I suspect you could use tofu or pork as an alternative if you wanted a protein in the noodles, but they really don't need it. Oh, and as an aside, I think we discovered what our B vegetable is going to be- Bok Choy. We hardly ever use it, and I think we should more often.