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Month: November 2011

Parmesan Poppy Pops

Parmesan Poppy Pops

Cake pops have had their 15 minutes of fame. Move over sugar balls, it’s time to present cheese pops! Not being from the Midwest, I may be slow to this wagon, but I am here now. I learned the recipe from Cooking Channel newcomer and former model, Lorraine Pascale.

Add this quick appetizer to your recipe file. Not only are these Parmesan Pops really yummy, they are ready to eat in under ten minutes! Don’t skip out on the extras, they give texture, color and a different bit of flavor. The standard recipe uses poppy and sesame seeds. Don’t be afraid to try out new combos, including spice mixes.

 

Parmesan Poppy Pops
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • Butter or Spray for pain
  • 1¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1tsp sesame seeds
  • Special equipment: 10 white round lollipop sticks; round 3½in (9cm) cookie cutter; 2 baking sheets
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and grease
  3. Toss the cheese and seeds together in a small bowl.
  4. Sit a 3½ inch ring or cookie cutter on one of the baking sheets and sprinkle a small handful of the cheese mixture into it, in a thin layer.
  5. Carefully lift the ring off to reveal a neat-edged disk of Parmesan and lay a lollipop stick on top, with the tip of the stick touching the middle of the disk. Repeat with the remaining cheese and sticks to make 10 in total (leaving about 1¼in spaces between them to allow for any spreading during cooking).
  6. You should have a little Parmesan left over, so use it to cover up the part of the lollipop stick resting on the disk.
  7. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, swapping to a different shelf halfway through. The cheese should be lightly golden and bubbling.
  8. Remove from the oven and slide the paper off the baking sheets and onto a rack to help speed up cooling.
  9. Let cool for 1 to 2 minutes until the lollipops have become crisp.
  10. Very carefully remove each one with a spatula.
Leftover Notes

Here is what I did with the major takeover of chickpeas in my kitchen! I mixed some brown basmati rice (found also at the Indian store) with some quickly wilted spinach, roasted butternut squash that had been sweetened with brown sugar and cinnamon and topped it off with parmesan and shredded mozzarella. I expected my family to veto, but they all loved it.

Moroccan Roasted Chickpeas

Moroccan Roasted Chickpeas

I’m hoping to roll out as many healthy appetizers and desserts as time will allow in December. Partially for selfish reasons; if I make cupcakes, I eat cupcakes. Partially for the purpose of sharing healthy options during this potluck heavy month and partially to show that there are other options in December than sugar cookies.

I think I have mentioned before that I’m not a chickpeas and lentil chick. I’m more of a butter and salt gal that needs a change. Now  I am taking note from a majority of the globe and leaning lentil. Roasted chickpeas are purported to be a great popcorn replacement (for us protein challenged) and a super snack that leaves no trace of guilt. I have finally jumped on board.

The local Indian store, Mirch Masala, is stocked with bags and bags of dried chickpeas. I bought a giant bag of the dried garbanzo beans for $2.99, which is the equivalent to three 15 oz. cans on sale at a large grocery store. This bag is probably a good five or six cans worth of beans. As with all beans, the hassle of soaking overnight seems to be more of a mental issue than a physical chore. Be sure to cover your chickpeas with lots and lots of water if you bought the dried variety, they are thirsty little suckers!

Moroccan Roasted Chickpeas
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • 2 cans or 4 cups Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
  • 3 T. Olive Oil

  • Moroccan Spice Mix
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (I didn’t have any, only green cilantro!)
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground allspice
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse, drain and pat beans dry. Mix olive oil and spice mixture and let roast for 40 minutes.
You’ll know they are done when they scream like little lobsters. It’s hilarious. Don’t believe me? Test it out, it’s awesome.

Added bonus, they are four-year old approved! I have a second batch with cinnamon and sugar roasting right now. When I took my first taste, I was disappointed at the lack of zing. I took my second and third thinking I did something wrong. Half a bowl of chickpeas later, I realized they are in fact, healthy popcorn beans. Totally addicting!

These were created using a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen. Check out her blog and learn why these are a million times better for you than a cupcake.

Deep Spiced Dip

Deep Spiced Dip

After eating a blog-worthy dinner last night (alas, a camera-less dinner), I was inspired to create some heat in my kitchen. Not another doughnut fest (I wish), this time a healthy appetizer that can help starve off a sportless carbo-load or present itself as a fun appetizer option for those looking to avoid butter.

If you can’t find Garam Masala in the spice section of your store, don’t feel alone. The first time I asked where to find the Indian staple I was asked if what I had meant to say was, wait for it…hummus. Sure, Greece, India, same thing right? Mama pajama.

While I used cream cheese for this dip, plain greek yogurt would also do well. The main reason I chose cream cheese is for its staying power. If this is something you’ll be eating at home, opt for the yogurt. If you plan to carry this to a party, be sure to keep the dip cold until the last minute. Or, if you are awesome and have one of those teeny-bikini slow cookers, keep your dip plugged in and warm. Either way it is yummy and sure to keep your smackers warm and toasty on a cold night.

I’m fairly new to Indian food and I’m pretty sure I have stumbled on to a fact that more seasoned eaters already know. Apples don’t cool down spice. I thought they would, as they are cool, sweet and juicy. For some reason, they seem to amp up spice though! So, rather than serving this dip with apples alone, I’d throw in some sliced bell peppers and crackers. And keep the egg nog close by!

 

Deep Spiced Dip
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dips & Spreads
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. package of Cream Cheese, softened (or 16 oz. Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup Shredded Chicken (if desired)
  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp. Curry Powder
  • 2 tsp. Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder
Instructions
  1. Mix ingredients and serve chilled or melty (yeah, I said melty) in a crock

Before I show you the end result, I want to share a funny conversation. Last night, at a Pho restaurant, the waiter brought a plate of herbs and veggies for our soup. I mentioned that I didn’t realize the green small leafed herbs were coriander, they looked like cilantro to me. My pal Jody agreed. However, our friend Geeta assured us that it was in fact coriander. As we tried to continue with our argument, she stopped us and said, “Dude. I’m Indian, we invented spices. Trust me.” Doh!

Baked Donuts

Baked Donuts

For $10.95, you too can have your own donut pan. I bought mine from the store with the most pretentious name around, Sur La Table. If I say it wrong, I sound like Mater. If I say it right, I sound drunk. Alas, I just say “That Sur La Taaaabul place.”

While it is not necessary to buy your own colored sugar, you sure can at SLT as well. Be prepared to say goodbye to $6.

The donut pan makes 6 cakes and is complete with a doughnut recipe and topping variations on the back. The half dozen dessert rounds turned out light and spongy, as donuts should.

The only variation I plan to make  is the subtraction of the 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg called for. Perhaps cinnamon or vanilla may make for a more pleasing doughnut. I should mention, I am the only person who complained of the nutmeg taste.

Baked Donuts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In large mixing bowl, sift together all of the following: cake flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add buttermilk, eggs and butter. Beat until just combined. Fill each doughnut cup approximately ⅔ full.
  3. Bake 7-9 minutes or until the top of the doughnuts spring back when touched. Let cool in pan for 4-5 minutes before removing. Finish and decorate as desired. I melted butter, brushed the tops of the doughnut with a basting brush and dipped them in sugar.
  4. If you’d like to try powdered sugar doughnuts, use a large zip top bag and shake the plain doughnuts inside.
If you do not have cake flour (I didn’t) you’ll want to substitute 2 cups all purpose flour minus 4 tablespoons. Don’t skip the sifting step, though!

And now, the coffee winner! Make that winners! We are going to pretend this is poker and chop the prize! One ten dollar gift card will go to Jody and the other to Jessica! I’ll be emailing you ladies soon. Thanks for playing!

Movie Fuel: Thanksgiving Double Feature

Movie Fuel: Thanksgiving Double Feature

Don’t forget to set your DVR for the two Charlie Brown specials and another short Ice Age show!

The Family Stone (2005) and Home for the Holidays (1995)

Thanksgiving is often a reflection of what we are grateful for.  It is also about food and is most certainly, family.  Poet Robert Frost once said, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” The dysfunctional family has always been open game for movies, especially comedies.  Because everyone’s family has some component of dysfunction (at times the tradition of getting together for the holidays can seem forced for some), we as the viewer can relate to other fictional families who love each other despite their faults.  We don’t always get to choose our family, but we can appreciate them in their own unique way.

The Family Stone and Home for the Holidays are two films about family gatherings that emphasize that “unique” designation.  In a nutshell, The Family Stone is about a man who brings his future fiancée home for the holidays only to find that his family doesn’t welcome her with open arms.  At first glance, The Family Stone can seem awkward, a collection of bad behavior by unlikeable characters.  The characters are less introduced to the viewer than just thrown at you right away, but by the end of the film, you get a feel for who everyone is and you are glad to know them.  Some films are designed in a way for the viewer to take what is presented in its entirety; as a whole rather than in parts.  It is too easy to be turned off early; the family with bad hospitality and two main characters that seem empty and misdirected make for uncomfortable viewing at times.  But  it is the story that, when allowed to play out fully, keeps your attention and captures a realistic picture of a family who has more going on than what is on the surface.  Home for the Holidays is about a single mother, down on her luck, coming home alone once again while trying to put all the pieces together.  The film has less depth and strives more for the humor within the quirks of the family dynamic. I would guess more people may see themselves with the family depicted here.

Common themes between the two films, touch on the overbearing parents and their children that are at a crossroads, seeking to create their own identity apart from their family dynamic.  Both films also push the limits on the extreme stereotypical characters; the gay brother, the crazy angry sister, the old flame that’s also back in town, etc.  Aside from the stereotypes, both films have similarities in style as well; they teeter between drama and comedy (similar to a real life family) and both start with the main characters as the children in the family, but the parents are really the center of the story.

Just like we cringe sometimes at the idea of family plans, in the end, we like the company of someone or something familiar and welcoming.  So, this holiday, hug your family, savor the rich calories and of course, enjoy a movie with that meal.

Thanks Mr. Movie Fuel and Happy Thanksgiving to you! You know what you forgot to mention? Claire Danes shows up in both movies!

One of the reasons we disagree on The Family Stone can been read within Mr. Movie Fuel’s film comparison. Where he sees Stone as a dysfunctional family movie, I see it as a movie about a family’s love for their mother. Diane Keaton’s character is sick and each member of the Stone family uses the strengths and weaknesses of their own personality to deal with the inevitable future. I believe this is a story about finding love in unexpected ways.

Small Home Big Start has a great tutorial on the Morton Family Strata that Sarah Jessica Parker’s character makes. I think a wheat bread version would be fun to try. Home for the Holidays is great to watch with Thanksgiving leftovers. Wondering where all my recipes are? I am taking the day off of cooking!This is the first year in many that I have not been slaving away.

Dallas and I took a morning trip to Starbucks and I ate cereal for lunch. So today is just really a double feature movie review, I’m not cooking, just eating. Alas, recipes will be back again tomorrow!

Don’t forget about posting a comment on yesterday’s 100th post. You have until tonight at midnight to try and win a $20 gift card to either Peet’s or Starbucks. That’s one good Black Friday (with cream and sugar) deal!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your day and dinner and come back tomorrow for some fresh eats!

Post Number 100!

Post Number 100!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, but I want to spread a little thankfulness today. I am so thankful for you! Thank you for taking the time to check in and read my blog. Food It Forward began as an idea that I couldn’t shake for nearly a year. My new year’s resolution for 2011 was to get this site going and though it took until August for posts to become steady, it still happened.

Now, I’m not trying to kid myself into thinking I have a more popular blog than I truly do. I know how many people read FoFo each day. I check! While the numbers steadily grow (as do the number of FoFo’s Facebook fans), I become more and more inspired to forward as much food information as I know how. So this year, I raise my glass(es) of coffee, sparkling cider, wine and more coffee to the readers of Food It Forward. May this blog grow to be all I wish.

My goal for 2012 is to be featured on foodbuzz.com, a hub for food blogs. The exposure would be fantastic, of course, but my main motive is to be able to attend the 2012 FoodBuzz Conference. Sure, I could have bought tickets and went this year (it’s in San Francisco), but I’d rather go with more than just my toes wet. Also, FoodBuzz sponsors bloggers who have been featured and tickets ain’t so cheap. Now that I have put my goal out there, I can’t whimper away from it, can I?

To say thank you, I’d like to send one reader a $20 gift card to either Starbucks or Peet’s, your choice! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post telling me which coffee shop you’d rather visit, that’s it! Oh, and go tell someone you know about Food It Forward too!

Where to Shop at the Last Minute

Where to Shop at the Last Minute

My boys and I headed to Costco this morning around 11 a.m.; we drove into the parking lot and right back out. All hell had broken loose, with shopping carts ready to run over anyone in any way, cars included. I had passed Safeway on the drive over and saw the parking lot packed there too. Where do you think we headed? Fresh & Easy of course. Lots of parking available and plenty of deals to be had. I came in with $13 in coupons (two coupons are in last Sunday’s paper.)

I needed some Thanksgiving items, but I needed some weekly staples, like milk, too. I really don’t want to step foot in a grocery store tomorrow or Thursday and wanted to make sure I had enough food to keep our kitchen open through the holiday. I walked out having spent $67.76. Wanting to know how much my bill would have rang up to at Safeway, I did a little Safeway.com comparison.

If I would have shopped closer to home, it would have cost me an extra $30 or so. The same groceries at Safeway would have cost $106.01.

So, where should you shop at the last minute? It depends. How last minute are you? Don’t plan to save anything until Thursday. Just because you plan to buy your green beans fresh the morning of, doesn’t mean they aren’t the same green beans sitting in the store now. If you still need to shop, go. Go now. The longer you wait, the busier it gets.

If you have the coupons, drive to Fresh & Easy. If you have a list and have updated your Safeway card at Safeway.com, go there. If you need to feed 30 people, battle in Costco. If you are totally and completely out of your mind, go to Trader Joes. (Sorry Mom, I warned you.)

Maybe shopping while the store is busy doesn’t bother you. Perhaps you enjoy your time alone (if you go alone) with your ipod plugged in your ears and your shopping list. Chances are, you’ll spend more even if you aren’t in a hurry.

There is something about seeing people around you in a frenzy that signals your shopping fight or flight system to buy more. I probably didn’t need two gallons of milk, but the “storing up” for the holiday mindset got to me.

I bought extra cranberry  and marshmallow to ensure I wouldn’t have to go back to the store as well as to save for another time. (Freeze cranberries if you have extra.) Shopping before a holiday always costs extra.

I think I have mentioned before that kids are the anti-coupon. If you have your kids with you during hustle-bustle shopping time, you’ll of course spend even more. I brought ham sandwiches, apples and water into the store with us (in my purse and yes, I know I have turned into my own grandma.) Guess what happened? I still walked out with two sets of Juicy Juice boxed juice with Cars 2 characters on them and a 6 pack of Danonino. My kids love Danimals and Danonino. Barf.

Zack and Cody, always pimpin’ out the yogurt to my kids.

So, if you have to shop, be prepared. Throw a water in your purse, bring an ipod and stick to your list. The lines are gonna be long, so catch up on some tabloid gossip, download a new game on your phone or get all cah-razy and talk to someone else in line.

Tomorrow is the big #100 post. Don’t forget to come back!

Green for Beginners

Green for Beginners

A quick and easy post for this afternoon, as I have more things in the works this weekend. I’ll keep it short and sweet and share my favorite green smoothie recipe. It’s totally simple, but the flavors really balance each other out. This is one of those times when reading a recipe just won’t help you understand the taste. You’ve got to try it to believe me. All three boys suck these babies down, take their word for it if you won’t take mine!

  • 1 large banana
  • 2 handfuls washed spinach
  • 1-2 handfuls frozen mango
  • 3 cups almond milk (regular milk doesn’t mix with the mango/spinach combo very well)
  • 1/3 cup honey

Blend, blend, blend and be astonished!

Next week is a big one for FoFo, be sure to check in! Happy Saturday, friends!

P.S. What’s up with the shadow of the white lady in the photo? Look at the bottom left side of the cup. Like a gal version of George Washington mixed with a unicorn. Hmm.

Movie Fuel: Forrest Gump

Movie Fuel: Forrest Gump

As I figured it would go, we devoured yesterday’s turkey before photographing it. Here are the sad remains of the juicy gobbler.

Jy and I have a long standing conflict with some a good friend of ours. (Hi Kevin!) He believes the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1994 should have went to Pulp Fiction, while we standby the actual winner, Forrest Gump. Where do you stand? Here’s what Mr. Movie Fuel has to say…

Forrest Gump (1994)

 Starring: Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Robin Wright, Sally Field

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

When I was younger, I always sat really close to the screen (fourth row, four seats in), I never understood exactly why, but I remember years later a professor in a film class I was taking mentioning, “movies are like your dreams and you wouldn’t want anything to come between you and your dreams,” and it just kind of all clicked.

Growing up films were my great escape from reality, so going to the movies played a significant part in my life early on and sometimes still does.  Every person who enjoys viewing films on a regular basis has a set standard of criteria in which they base their viewing experience on.  My personal criteria for evaluating the quality of a film is simple; how well did I relate to the film and did it meet the standard in which it set based on its genre.  For example; Did the comedy make me laugh? Did a horror movie scare me? Did the mystery make me think?

The best films are often the ones that more people can relate to and succeed at many levels with many age groups and serve the ultimate purpose, which is to entertain.  This is the type of film that is universally praised and enjoyed, Forrest Gump is one of those movies. Spanning over thirty years of the title characters life, from the 1950’s to the 80’s, we are treated with action, comedy, drama, romance and so much more.  On the surface, this is a fantastical film where a simpleton changes the course of history through his achievements; both intentional and accidental.  Widely entertaining, with an array of fun special effects, catchy music that communicates time and place and perfectly placed humor throughout, elevates the film to a short list of movies I could watch multiple times with the same enjoyment.

Digging deeper, Forrest Gump is a story about trust, love and the loss of a generation’s innocence through the childlike eyes of our main character who maintains his throughout. It is also about finding our way in life and having a purpose greater than ourselves and our achievements.  Whether you are viewing it for the first time or the seventeenth, for pure entertainment or nostalgic purposes, Forrest Gump is the perfect heartwarming film that meets everyone’s criteria.

Gump Treat

Forrest’s “Mama” always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” Well, let me tell you what I got when I made this parfait, two kids going ape-poo-poo. They were both freaking out, yelling and asking to eat my creation. Max (my one year old) was shouting, “Nummanoes,” his toddler word for food. This was an accidental parfait. It was supposed to be chocolate cranberry chunky bars.

I had heard about chunky bars on Martha Stewart’s Sirius station. Sandy Gluck, the host for Everyday Food passed the recipe off as it was so simple. Perfect, I’d just look up the recipe when I got home. One problem, it was nowhere to be found on the internet! If you can’t find something on the internet, then it just may not exist. So, I recreated from memory and was planning to come out with something that looked like this…

How fun I thought, little chocolate bars with a surprise inside, cranberry. Yummy and in-season. Let me show you what happened instead, mkay?

Looks okay so far, right? Guess what? It tastes pretty good too.

I remembered to bake at 350, just like Sandy said. Twenty minutes later, I thought I would freeze the pan for a bit. Then, off to the fridge it went.

Thirty minutes later, I was peeling ooey gooey sludge from a baking pan and off parchment paper…with a knife. Still tasty, but not in photographable form. When dessert goes wrong, throw it on ice cream or with yogurt. I piled on the whip cream for show and to taunt my kids a bit. The three of us went out back and ate half the cup up. Messy and delicious.

I wish Mama would have said something about recipes. Maybe, “Recipes are like perms, sometimes they turn out beautifully and sometimes everything just goes to crap.” Ah, Mama has a way with words.

The next time you see Forrest Gump in your TV Guide, I suggest you go get yourself some nice southern sweet tea, a box of tissue and just buy the box of chocolates. One of my favorite expressions I have learned from Facebook, le sigh.

Next Thursday is special at FoodItForward! It’s Thanksgiving, it’s a DOUBLE FEATURE Movie & Meals day, but most importantly it is my 100th post and I have something special for you! Happy Black Friday Eve-eve-eve-eve-eve-eve-eve-eve.

Thanksgiving Countdown

Thanksgiving Countdown

Start saying your goodbyes to the yellow guy now.                                        

I’m roasting a turkey on a Wednesday afternoon and I wanted you to know you can do the same. Yes, Thanksgiving Day is special and so is the meal we eat on that Thursday. But, there are no great reasons to save our turkey cravings until then. In fact, there are a couple good reasons NOT to, I’d say.

Number 1: There may not be as much meat to go around as you’d like.

Number 2: Your host may not be the best turkey cookin’ chef around. (Mine will be this year, though. My brother and his wife (fun to say that) are hosting at their new home. Fun!

Number 3: You won’t have as much room in the old gut as you would normally. This is true if you are like me and appreciate all the carbs that surround a Thanksgiving turkey.

Roasting a turkey is so much easier than you might think, it just takes a bit of time for sticking around the house and a strong stomach for shoving accoutrements where the sun doesn’t shine through a turkey.

The USDA has a great site which offers information on buying, thawing a cooking your bird. Go there once you have purchased your turkey. Remember, .59 cents a pound for a frozen guy at Fresh & Easy.

There are many ways to skin a cat. Why in the world would you need to skin a cat? That is gross. There are also many ways to brine a turkey. When in doubt, I love to go to my favorite quasi-scientist foodie, Alton Brown. Food Network offers a his roasted turkey recipe and tutorial, complete with video. You’ll need a big bucket, ice and place to put the two. This is why I don’t do the Alton Brown brine. I am sure it tastes amazing and someday when I have one of those giant farm kitchens with an extra fridge in the garage, I’ll do it. For now, I rubbed the dry brine sold for $2.99 at Fresh and Easy all over my turkey monster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping: Unwrap, rinse and drain your turkey. Putting aside the bag of giblety organs for your neighbor’s dog. Or, if you are my grandma, put them in the stuffing. Pat the turkey dry and place it on a raised rack over a large pan. If you have no large pan, do what I did and put it on top of two large metal spoons that are crisscrossed to keep the bird lifted.  Rub that puppy down with some brine mix. You can make your own, but I just don’t have the time. Cover with whatever you have enough of (aluminum foil or plastic wrap) and refrigerate 8-24 hours.

“Stuffing”: Rinse off all the brine mix, pat dry and fill the turkey up with anything fruits and veggies that float your boat (almost anything.) Rather than waste tears on onions, I love to use F&E’s Stew Mix. I know most stores have the same mirepoix (carrot, celery and onion mix) for between $1.50-$3.00. I packed in a couple of lemon halves and normally would use oranges if I had any. Those two big owl eyes in the photo above? Parsnips. How parsnippity of me! I have used apples, full-sized celery and carrots in the past two. Anything that would roast well will work. I shoved a few lemon wedges under the skin, as well as some garlic and butter.

The HOT part: Roasting the turkey uncovered at 425 degrees or so, for 20-30 minutes is usually enough to get the outer skin nice and brown with a little crisp. Once that time goes off, full the roasting pan with 4 cups of stock and drizzle with olive oil or add more butter. You want to do this now, rather than at the start, because you will be turning the temp down to 350 degrees and preventing the skin from getting too crispy.

As you get closer to the end of cooking your turkey, perhaps the last hour or so, it’s wise to tent your bird with aluminum foil to keep the thinner wings and breast skin from burning or drying out too much. Resist the turkey baster, it is not your friend! Using a turkey baster is like spraying yourself with suntan oil on a hot day, it only helps to get you nice and crispy (read: dry.)

It is generally not a great idea to stuff your bird with dressing. Unless of course you are bacteria, then you should be all for this.

I’ll be posting my turkey tonight, it won’t be done for another three and a half hours. Be sure to come back tomorrow for this week’s Movies & Meals, you never know what you’re gonna get. (That was a clue.)

 

 

Happy Tuesday

Happy Tuesday

It’s a pretty good thing I am not paid to blog, I missed my 3 p.m. deadline today. We took a fun tour of the local SPCA (animal shelter) and took a not so fun trip to Fresh & Easy. The kids and I were tired, hungry and I didn’t enjoy being back at the grocery store only two days after my last trip. I left coffee out of my Sunday shopping trip and let’s just be clear, I don’t care if we were all exhausted, I have priorities. We made it home in almost one piece and I successfully put three people down for a nap.

Naps!

So, here I am blogging at 3 p.m., Hawaii time. Uh, I think.

Let me start with some important stuff, like coffee. The Fresh & Easy Organic French Roast is really good and it is only $6.88 a pound. They have had a sale going on for a while on The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, but I really think F&E’s brand tastes better. Peet’s is still my favorite, but $10.99 a pound is hard to justify, when $6.88 is almost just as good.

We load ours in a refillable Keurig cup. My pal Jody reminded me today how disappointing most of the Keurig cups can be. The  coffee is weaker and pretty pricy. The Solofill saves the day! You can order one on Amazon for about $13 right now. Every morning I rinse out the old grinds, dump in some new and off I go. It is much less trouble than I thought it would be.

In other coffee news, I have an urgent message from  Starbucks.

Grab a friend and head to a participating Starbucks® store – because November 17-20 from 2-5 p.m., when you buy one holiday drink, you’ll get another one of equal or lesser value for ree. Take your pick of your most-loved holiday beverages, including Peppermint Mocha, new skinny Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte, Gingerbread Latte and Eggnog Latte.

I’ve got one friend signed up already, right Meg?

The bogo offer came in my email and was under a banner for Starbucks Rewards. I’m not sure if this offer is only good for Reward card holders or for Jenny Q. Public. If you don’t have a bux rewards card, get one! Let me warn you though, having a button on your phone to instantly add money to your Starbucks card can be very dangerous.The perks of free drinks on special days, free refills on drip coffee and iced tea and free syrups is so much fun, it is almost worth my smartphone induced checking account pain.

Back to Fresh & Easy. On Sunday I bought one their advertised Jenny-O frozen turkeys for .59 cents a pound. I think I spent a little more than $7 and earned the easy 500 points. With all my points from Sunday, I had a $9 coupon to use today. When I left the store, one of the employees handed me a $10 coupon, good through December. Don’t leave F&E without one (or two) of these! You’ll have to spend $50 to use it, but it can be stacked with the coupons that come in the mail AND with your points! Think about that for uno momento, I can usually spend $150 for a full cart easily. With $8 in mailer coupons, $10 with this bonus coupon and $9 (or more) with Friend points, I can take $27 off the top of my bill. That’s a great deal for a store with already fairly low prices.

By the way, do you think this will fit in my stocking?

Double Oy Vey

Double Oy Vey

As you know, I spent the day at a luncheon for the MOMS club. Totally fun, made new friends and got a little bit of that fresh air perspective one can only gather when driving (far) out of town. I love talk radio and I extra love NPR. My close second is a bay area station, KGO stationed at 810 AM. This morning I listened to a fascinating interview on the Joanie Greggins show.

Memba me?

Joanie spoke with Dr. Joel Furhman, the author of one of Dr. Oz’s and of course one of my favorite books, Eat To Live. His new book, Super Immunity was the topic and holy Moses it sounds like a must read!

 Before I can say anything else, I have to mention what Dr. Furhman threw in about meat. He was explaining fast food meat to be low quality, junk food meat. Ok, we’ve heard that before. Here is one I had yet to hear until this morning; low quality meat is fed low quality food. Well, I knew that part too, but one of the low quality items? Defective candy (still in the wrapper), stale gummy bears, bakery waste and blood meal. Hadn’t heard that. There is actually a regulated upper limit for the amount of old, banged up candy that can be fed to cattle.
Google this: candy fed to cows. You’ll have some fun reading material there! I think we will be taking a very long break from Happy Meals in this home.
Back to Super Immunity. The book asks us to focus on micronutrients, rather than macro. No more obsessing about carbs/proteins/fat. Instead, focus on the “superfoods” and getting in the vitamins. Funny, I just heard the same thing from Angela at SynfullyFit.com a few weeks back.
Dr. Furhman likened the United States to a country of Cocaine addicts. We can’t stop ingesting what is killing us.   There just happens to be plenty of pills to offset the side effects of our foods. Meaning ,those with high blood pressure or cholesterol can take the right drug and there will be no need to change ones diet, the drugs blinds us to the problem. What a sneaky solution.  He mentioned that Cocaine kills a good 100,000 people a year in this country. Poor nutrition and lack of exercise kills half of us. Half of us!
He continued on about how fake foods are totally addictive and drive serious cravings. As I sipped my iced mocha and nodded, I thought I was safe eating my Peet’s scone. High calorie, yes, but awful…no. Scones are not fake food. Wrong sistah!
White flour is made to be “clean looking” using Alloxen, a chemical that destroys the beta cells of the pancreas. There was all kinds of talk about a flour and sugar connection to Cancer. I couldn’t follow. I was too busy drowning in my carbohydrate tears.
He went on to argue the idea that we could stop heart disease and Cancer if we chose to. Great, I’m feeding my kids on their way to heart disease and Cancer. That’s IT! I’m moving my family to a remote village in Africa where we only eat bugs and dirt. Sorry, gonna reel it back in here.
Last month was all about Breast Cancer. I flippin’ hate BC. It’s not pretty just because it is pink. Stupid BC took my grandma (Nana as in banana) long before she was ready. I have a sweet friend from church who is killing her BC off right now. I hate it. It sucks. I hope by posting some of Dr. Furhman’s info below I am not being insensitive. He strongly believes Cancer is environmental, lifestyle and nutritional in cause.

Seven key weapons against breast cancer that work

Be proactive and adjust your diet and lifestyle to achieve a high level of health, so that any abnormal cells never can overcome your body’s powerful immune defenses. Early, pre-cancerous changes in the breast can be normalized by nutritional excellence. Women can prevent breast cancer and even if they have cancer they can significantly increase their survival with nutritional excellence. Read Eat For Health, understand nutritional excellence. The best way a women can protect themselves from breast cancer is:

  1. Do not drink alcohol and of course do not smoke anything
  2. Do not take any type of estrogen, and avoid drugs (especially antibiotics).
  3. Have babies and nurse them as long as possible,
  4. Eat a high nutrient, vegetable-based diet, with loads of greens as described in my book, Eat For Health.
  5. Take sufficient Vitamin D supplementation to drive the blood level to 35 – 50 ng/ml.
  6. Use one tablespoon of ground flax seeds daily.
  7. Don’t grill or fry foods. Steaming vegetables or vegetable soups should be the primary modes of cooking.
  8. Exercise at least 3 hours a week, and maintain a lean body with little body fat.

Green vegetables are the most powerful anti-breast cancer food. Take note that a vegetarian diet does not show protection against breast cancer as much as a diet rich in green vegetables, berries and seeds. Many vegans eat a high glycemic, nutritionally poor diet, and do not take sufficient Vitamin D, leaving themselves at high risk of cancer. It is the phytochemical nutrient density and diversity of the diet that offers the most dramatic protection against cancer, not merely the avoidance of meat or fat. Close to 300 case-controlled studies show a protective effect of vegetable consumption against cancer and that cruciferous vegetables are the foods with the most powerful anti-cancer effects of all foods. While eating fresh fruits, beans, vegetables, seeds and nuts have been all been shown in scientific studies to reduce occurrence of cancer, cruciferous vegetables are different. Instead of a 1 to 1 relationship they have 1 to 2 relationship with a wide variety of human cancers. In other words, as plant food intake goes up 20% in a population, cancer rates typically drop 20%, but as cruciferous vegetables go up 20%, cancer rates drop 40%.7

Bottom line, eat lots of greens and don’t forget to take your Vitamin D every day.

Number one was no drinking? Someone forgot to mention to Dr. F. that wine can be good for you. Maybe not for your liver, but good for your heart and sometimes your mothering skills. I rarely drink. One drink a month would be overestimating. Wouldn’t you know that I have a big fat glass of vino with me as I type this tonight. Go fig.

I know that was a lot of words. Sorry to be posting heavy stuff. That reminds me of my mom, she always quotes some song, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” It’s from 1969. Still not getting that reference, mom. So long story short (I learned that whenever someone says that, it’s too late), eat healthier.

Sometimes, I think it would be better to live before the Industrial Revolution. Farm my own stuff. No car insurance payments. Oh wait, that also means no epidural either. Nevamind!

 

Movie Fuel: Harry Potter

Movie Fuel: Harry Potter

Let’s head back to ABC Family this weekend for multiple showings of the first four Harry Potter films.

What a perfect time of year to revisit the start of Harry’s adventures. As we quickly pass through November into December, we delve into the most magical time of the year. No movie magic can match that of Potter’s, so set those DVRs. Check ABC Family’s schedule today through Sunday and start recording! For those following yesterday’s clue, HP was published in 1998, which is the same year the story finds itself at an end.

There are loads of websites with specific HP recipes and foods that are eaten at Hogwarts or drinks served somewhere in Potterland. I’m not a HP expert, I haven’t read the books (yet), nor have I seen the last two movies released. It’s not that I don’t want to, I just haven’t got to it yet. At this rate, I figure I’ll read the books along with Dallas in a few years. When should kids start reading Harry Potter? Is seven too young?

I whipped up two snacks that make for fun movie munching. Golden Snitch Meatballs are a take on the Snitch, or the golden ball which is the game clincher in the fictional game of Quidditch.  The second is a kid friendly pumpkin smoothie. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the idea of a pumpkin flavored drink outweighs the actual pumpkin flavor? Not this time! The Potter crew drinks pumpkin juice throughout their story. A pumpkin smoothie does require a bit of sugar, but don’t forget that pumpkin is a vegetable, folks!

You can either roll meatballs from scratch, or cheat like I did and use premade! Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy both have frozen turkey meatballs, I used F&E’s variety and baked them to soften. Either way, you’ll need to dip your balls in a beaten egg with a bit milk, before drenching in your golden crunchy mix.

Golden Snitches
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • 6 cups Corn Flakes
  • ¼ to ½ cup shredded parmesan Cheese
  • Homemade or frozen meatballs - about 1 pound
  • Seasoning mix of choice – Italian, Garlic Powder with Salt & Pepper or the easy one to remember, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (sing it with me!)
Instructions
  1. Smash it all up into bitty crumbs via blender, food processor or angry housewife rolling-pin style
  2. If you fry the meatballs, they will gain some flavor, but lose the gold. For this recipe, I say bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes for premade meatballs. More like 40 minutes for homemade, or until inside reaches 160 degrees. Use flat parsley to create wings.
My kids ate these for breakfast and let out a bunch of mmm’s!
Potter Pumpkin Smoothie
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beverage
Ingredients
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (not pie mix)
  • 2 cups almond milk (almond milk works really well in smoothies, I prefer it over regular)
  • 1 banana (frozen works perfect, if you have one)
  • ¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 T. real maple syrup
  • 1 T. sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice concentrate
Instructions
  1. Blend up well and pour over ice.
Blend up well and pour over ice. This also received two kid thumbs up! Bonus: If you look closely at this photo you will see my toddler rocking out in his sweats. Hurray for morning bloggin’!

Now, to get you rolling, here’s your weekly wording from Movie Fuel!

November 2001, there was movie excitement in the air.  Not one, but two new fantasy series were coming out for the holidays; the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Harry Potter!  And, while the Lord of the Rings Trilogy will live on in infamy, it was the Potter series that evolved over time and nurtured a generation of young children into preteens and then full blown teenagers, as well as the rest of the young at heart.  Who better than Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire) to helm the first two installments?  Other famous directors would also contribute over the years; Mike Newell (Young Indiana Jones, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Alfonso Cuaron (Little Princess, Great Expectations), ending with a newcomer, David Yates, who would go on to complete the last four films.

Lessons on relationships, disappointments and loss spoke volumes to the primary audience of both the books and films.  Adolescents crave someone they can relate to and the Harry Potter universe supplies ample examples of righteous, yet imperfect characters with plenty to say; don’t undervalue others, be true to your friends, get help when overwhelmed and ultimately, love is stronger than death.

What makes Harry Potter special is that all of this is packaged in an entertaining volume of adapted films.  Action, suspense, fantastical special effects, humor.  When viewing each film, there is a sense escapism and confidence that you are “getting your money’s worth”.  So, as a life lesson or just a journey to another land, you are sure to have your imagination fired up and will be thrilled by any of the eight Harry Potter films that have spanned this past decade.

Cinnamon Date Dessert

Cinnamon Date Dessert

Dallas loves boy toys and movies. However, he also really loves girl toys and girl movies. We’ve gone through a Tinkerbell phase, a My Little Pony Phase and are currently storming a Barbie phase. He is just into characters and drama. Maybe he’ll get into acting someday, he has the dimples for it.

So now you’ll understand when I say the two boys and I were watching Strawberry Shortcake yesterday. Strawberry’s motto is, “If something doesn’t go the right way, improvise.” Or something close to that.

Today, when the Cinnamon Date Bar recipe didn’t quite go my way, I improvised. What you’ll now see is Cinnamon Date Dessert.

This recipe was printed in the San Francisco Chronicle on October 30th, in the food section. It comes from the book, “Maman’s Homesick Pie,” by Donia Bijan. Her story and recipes recall Donia’s childhood in Iran and the recipes that remind her of her mother.

Maman sounds like a gal that has plenty of time on her hands to roll dough, grind spices and finely chop dates. I ain’t that kind of maman. I had about an hour to do it all. Which, if you read the recipe will see is about the time needed for the dough to rest. I was able to let the dough sit in the fridge for about 12 minutes while I cut the dates and brought the brown sugar mixture to a boil. I grabbed a casserole dish, layered the dough, date mix and more dough, then baked for 10 minutes. Date bars in a flash. Or uh, kinda.

Let me show you what the date bars should look like:


Cinnamon Date Bars / Photos by Craig Lee / Special to The Chronicle; styling by Amanda Gold
Credit: Photos by Craig Lee / Special to The Chronicle; styling by Amanda Gold

Let me show you what my end result looked like. (With a bit of vanilla yogurt, banana and walnuts for styling.)


Cinnamon Date Dessert
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • The dough
  • 7 ounces (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Date filling
  • 2 cups finely chopped dates
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Topping
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing the dough
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. To make the dough, cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour and salt, and mix just until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  2. To make the filling, combine the dates, brown sugar, and water in a saucepan and cook over low heat about 8 to 10 minutes, until the mixture boils and thickens. Stir in the cinnamon. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  4. To assemble the bars, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. Keep one half cool.
  5. On a well-floured surface, roll half the dough into a rectangle about 10 x 14 inches. The dough is crumbly, so patch it together with your fingers if needed. Roll dough carefully up onto your rolling pin and then unroll it onto the baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg.
  6. Spread date filling evenly down the center and out toward the edges of the dough, allowing ¼ inch on the edges for sealing. Roll the remaining dough into a same-size rectangle. Roll it onto the rolling pin and unroll it directly over the dates. Press gently to seal edges. Trim edges and brush top with beaten egg. Using a fork, lightly poke top layer of the dough to make vents. Refrigerate 20 minutes.
  7. Sift together powdered sugar and cinnamon over the date bar before placing in oven (I just sprinkled mine with granulated sugar and forgot the cinnamon).
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet. Slice into 2-inch bars.

Come back tomorrow to see the next installment of Movies & Meals. It is going to be a fun one! Here’s a hint, it started and ended in 1998. Curious? Good!