Archive for November, 2011

Whoopie! Oops! Thank Goodness!

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

We had plans to go to friends for dinner over the weekend and they asked me to bring a dessert.  I rarely make the same dessert twice.  Why, when there’s so many to
try?  I happened to buy a Whoopie Pie cookbook (Love Foods, UK, Paragon Books).
Yes, I have too many cookbooks, but this one was screaming at me with a $3.99 price tag as I stood in line at my local bookstore.  I decided to make two seasonal options – gingerbread and pumpkin.
I made the pumpkin cookies the night before we were going to eat them.  However I waited until the day of the dinner to fill.  My plan was to fill them as I made the gingerbread batch the next day about an hour before we were expected at our friends’.  Well, after quite a bit of time in the oven I realized the oven wasn’t actually on.  Yes, I did turn it on.  I tried what I thought as rebooting – turning on and off, but nothing.  I even got out the manual, with no help there either.  “Whoopie!”
Became “Oops!”  I called my friends and warned them I’d be bringing my cookie sheets to finish the whoopies at her house.

My friend’s oven saved dessert.  Both the pumpkin and gingerbread were a hit with all ages.  Although I thought the gingerbread wasn’t spicy enough and preferred the pumpkin.  Looking at the book, I realized mine are not as filled as the book photos.  I guess that’s why I have so much filling left.  It just seemed like so much.  My
healthy cooking philosophy and habits can sometimes get in the way of decadent
foods.  (I used low fat cream cheese for the filling too)  Also to get them to look perfect and smooth like the photos, you’d need a whoopie pie pan – which I
don’t have or want.  I was fine with a more rustic look, made from a small ice cream scoop.

So I need to call an oven technician.  Luckily I am not hosting Thanksgiving.  Thank
goodness.  That’s every host’s biggest nightmare.  I wonder what an oven house
call before Thanksgiving costs?  I’ll wait to call after Thursday.

Hopefully you have an oven and can make them.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes 12

2 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup light brown sugar

½ cup sunflower oil

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup canned pumpkin puree

Cinnamon and Maple Filling

1 cup full fat cream cheese

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with
parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Place sugar and oil in large bowl and beat with electric mixer for 1 minute.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Then beat in pumpkin.  Stir in flour mixture and beat until
incorporated.

Spoon or pipe 24 mounds of batter onto prepared pans, spaced well apart.

Bake each sheet separately in oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until risen and firm to
touch.  Cool on baking tray for 5 minutes then remove with palette knife to transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the filling place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat until well
blended.  Beat in the syrup, cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

To assemble, pipe or spread the filling over the flat side of half the cakes.  Top with remaining cakes.

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New Recalls – Bagged Salad and Peanut Butter

Friday, November 18th, 2011

In the past two days there have been new recalls due to possible salmonella contamination – one for bagged lettuce sold at Trader Joe’s and Safeway the other for Smucker’s Natural Chunky Peanut Butter.  Check your fridge and pantry and read stories below.

 

Lettuce recall details here

http://news.yahoo.com/ready-pac-bagged-salad-recalled-e-coli-fears-152340977.html?bouchon=807,ca

Peanut Butter story here…

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/11/17/smuckers-recalls-jars-of-chunky-peanut-butter/

 

 

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Not Eating…Due to Spite

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

I have a sassy, stubborn and dramatic 5 year old girl.  She is also cute and smart, thankfully.   You too?  Well I’ve written that mine is vegetarian.  Lately she has decided if she isn’t getting the meal she wants, she just won’t eat.  Is the name for this diet a spitetarian or a stubbornarian?

 

After a big 3 hour hike (yes, her too) we went with friends for lunch.  We were all very hungry.  My daughter wanted pasta and I said no because she had pasta the previous night.  There was a huge variety of foods, many even vegetarian.  She said she wasn’t eating then.  O.K. fine.  I really am o.k. with my kids not eating a meal, and they’ve even gone to bed hungry.  I know they won’t starve.  I don’t think that makes me a bad mom.  I’ve done my job and presented a healthy meal and it’s their choice to eat it or not.  I’ve met enough parents who have become short order cooks, offering their child meal after meal (usually gets down to pb & j or cereal) because they need to see their kids eat something.  However in a restaurant I’m kind of stuck.  I haven’t presented her with anything.  Her brother’s burger comes with a side salad, so we (my son agrees too) decide that can be her’s if she changed her mind.

 

When I wasn’t looking she ate a few bites.  She didn’t ask for anything until dinner, but she put it away then.  Just like a Spitetarian…

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Make the Bread, Buy the Butter – Book Review

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What you Should and Shouldn’t Cook From Scratch by Jennifer Reese is a clever book in that is weighs making something from scratch vs. buying premade.  Jennifer was out of work and decided to try to make things (including raising chicken for eggs and goats for cheese) she might otherwise purchase to see if it really is better and cheaper to make from scrath.

 

All her kitchen experiments are told with recipes and break down’s for making vs. buying each item or dish.  Price is weighed heavily.  However she also weighs in difficulty or mess for making, which is fun and honest.  And what kinds of unhealthy ingredients you will find in premade.  She also figures in animal welfare and sustainability.

 

Of course cost doesn’t figure in your time, however many recipes can be made in the time it would take you to go to a store and buy it (guacamole anyone?).  And if you already have the ingredients (like I did with her Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins) and a bit of time, why not take pride in making it yourself?

Review:

Pros – good recipes for many everyday food items/ingredients. Fun stories about the lengths the author went to make items from scratch.  Like that each chapter takes on a theme and context for the experiment/recipe – breads, restaurant foods, dinner, cheese, Thanksgiving, etc.

Cons – some things she suggests may not always be easier to make and store (homemade vanilla and mayonaise anyone?) and a few are time consuming.  Some of the foods weren’t too appealing to me.  I wouldn’t make or buy canadian bacon, beef jerky or maraschino cherries.

 

Speaking of book reviews, I made the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for my kids’ book fair this week.  They were a hit and appreciated by students, volunteers and teachers alike.  I was glad I made them from scratch, at home.  I made a few different recipes.  About 72 baked goods in all.  If I had bought these at a bakery or grocery store such as Whole Foods, at an average of $2 a piece, I would have spent $144.  Making them I probably spent less than $20 on ingredients.  I was surprised, and happy to see this book on the book fair cookbook table, next to mine.

 

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Mc…Yikes! Humane Society Sues Smithfield Farm and McDonalds Over McRib

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

You’ve seen the ads – It’s Back!  Not only is the item questionable, being made of bits of tripe, heart, stomach.  There’s the addition of chemicals found in yoga mats an sports shoes.  Now the Humane Society says the pigs supplied by Smithfield Farms are treated cruely and unusual in small dirty cages.

Here’s the whole story…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2011/11/04/mcrib-lawsuit-humane-society-smithfield-farms_n_1075992.html

 

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Peas and Thank You – New Family Meatless Cookbook Review and Give Away

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Sarah Matheny, author of the popular blog, Peas and Thank You has written a new cookbook, Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love, after changing her family’s diet to one without meat products.  She has an easy and witty style about her writing and this book is peppered with food photos as well as her little “peas” (aka girls) enjoying her recipes.  This book has stories, tips and recipes from a mainstream family that takes on a not-so mainstream diet.

 

This book is a good one for those looking to make a diet switch and eat less animal products, as well as someone just looking for new meatless ideas.  I know I am.  Sarah has recipes from morning to night.  There are fruit smoothies for breakfast, sandwiches and salads (Hugh Jass Salad is just for mom) for lunch and hot meals (curry, jambalaya) for dinner.  Plus a few retooled desserts without the use of dairy (carrot cupakes).

 

My family made the homestyle chocolate chips cookies with sea salt, the thai veggie burgers and the homestyle spaghetti sauce.  While the cookies were good, I did notice they were missing something…butter.  But good to have a vegan recipe for such a popular treat.  Also the veggie burgers were good, but needed some sauce to lend moisture.  Luckily Sarah has a versatile almond ginger recipes that did the trick for me.  The spaghetti sauce was rich and easy (see below).  We used it on pasta as well as sauce for homemade pizza.

Review

Pros: good variety of meatless dishes, some simple and quick, fun writing style, good photos, nutritional info on each recipe, pea points on each recipe give helpful hints

Cons: some dishes require special ingredients (tempeh, non dairy cream cheese) that may be hard for some to find, some recipes are time consuming and need many ingredients

Give Away!

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Sarah’s new cookbook, Peas and Thank You, please send a comment on this post, with the name of your family’s favorite meatless recipe.  One winner will be chosen at random on Thurs. November 10, 2011 and notified via email.

 

Homestyle Spaghetti Sauce, pg. 142 from Peas and Thank You

It’s almost as easy as opening a jar, both with the added joy, if you wish, of letting it simmer for hours, rubbing garlic behind your ears, smearing a few splatters on your apron and bringing your thumb and teo fingers together to emphasize, “Now attsa some tasty sauce!”  You’d be right.

2 14.5 ounce cans organic diced tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/3 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender ot food porcessor and blend until smooth.  Pour sauce into a large saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 

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Halloween – The Aftermath

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

So after trick-or-treating for hours on Halloween night, my kids came home and counted their candy.  Scary thing is that after hours of trick or treating, each with their own friends, they both had 74 pieces.  Although my son had a tube of toothpaste so he said he won with 75 items.  My daughter had been saying she would get more because “if you wear a cute costume, instead of a scary one, people give you more candy”.  Well, apparently, not true.  Yesterday we turned in the candy to my son’s orthodontist who pays $2 a pound.  They each kept 3 pieces to eat.  My son had 4 pounds and my daughter 3 pounds.  Knowing he couldn’t eat more than a few pieces of plain chocolate with his teeth hardware, he said he picked more lollipops thinking they would be heavy.  I guess his stretegy worked.

Here are our pumpkins still standing.  My husband really did a great job this year.  And no, he doesn’t use stencils.  The kids looked at photos with him online and they chose they’re favorites.  The kids were better at pulling out the guts from the pumpkins than in years past.  I did the usual roasted seeds.  This always seems fun, but not many have been eaten.  They are hard to chew.  Luckily my mom came for her annual Halloween visit, so I send seeds back with her to Poppa.

Instead of eating all the candy collected, here are the cute spider cupcakes we enjoyed.  We made a few for friends and neighbors too.  These are easy, but quite a hit.  Simply make your favorite chocolcate cupcake recipe, add thin pretzel legs (I dipped mine in chocolate) and lots of sugar eyes (we buy ours at Cake Art in San Rafael).  Be sure to break the pretzels before inserting.  I thought I could put one pretzel straight thru for both sides of legs, but the cupcake came apart in two.  A friend of ours made them for a kids’ soccer game last weekend, and unfortunately dropped them on her garage floor getting into the car.  Now that’s sad and scary.  So be careful transerring.

Hope your Halloween was happy.

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