Archive for the ‘ Food ’ Category

Obsessed with Oils

I tend to get overwhelmed about which oils to use for cooking or dressings so I was thrilled when Andrea Karim of WiseBread put together one of the most comprehensive articles on The Best Cooking Oils: For Your Heart & Wallet. It covers the gamut from extra virgin to avocado, coconut & peanut to name a few.

For further ‘research’ Vom Fass will turn anyone into an oil aficionado. Who knew that you could infuse orange, peperoncino, basil or chili to make a culinary master out of me? At your local store, you are able to sample dozens of these delicious oils in addition to a huge selection of Aged Balsamic Vinegars and Liqueurs , my favorite is the Latte Macchiato.

To finish off my oil obsession, I went in search of a fun dispenser / cruet. My top picks were from Folk Art Guild, Generate, & Red Candy.


Measuring Up

In August, I decided to put in motion some great intentions regarding my health that I had been putting of for a while. Now I’ll tell you that I didn’t enjoy it but my body needed a break / reset from some bad habits that had made their way into my life so I went cold turkey on sugar, carbs (starchy things) & alcohol. In addition, I tried to follow guidelines for proper portion controls. Did I already mention how much I didn’t enjoy this?

Coming out on the other side of this, I hate to admit that I did have more energy, skin never looked better and I did drop a size. And while I’ve added everything back, the word MODERATION is no longer such a nasty word and these 2 products have really helped. Measure Up Bowls and Wine Trax both make portion control easy & discreet. Both look good and even better, both help me to feel good.




10 Days till Father’s Day

I know it’s cliche to link all things ‘grilling’ to the men but I’m happy to take a back seat in summer & let my husband take charge of dinner. Here’s a few things for grills / open fires that can keep it interesting…and me out of the kitchen!

Stainless Steel Branch Skewers – Shish kabobs are branching out with nine individual prongs, perfect for veggies, meat or marshmallows.

Rome’s Square Pie Iron (sandwich maker) – Simply place two pieces of buttered bread in the clam shell style compartment and stuff with preserves, cheese & meat, pie filling or whatever you want. Close the lid and toast.

Long Handle Salt & Pepper ShakerPerfect for those hard to reach areas on the grill and a patented extra long finger grip handle keeps your hand away from the heat.

School Pride Mustard – This sweet and hot mustard can be used as a dip or on top of (almost) anything grilled & better yet, get your favorite NCAA team on the label.

Swashbuckling BBQ Sword –  Grab him a mask and visualize Johnny Depp Read the rest of this entry

8 Essential Summer Must-Haves

Technically, summer is a few weeks away but with longer nights and higher temps headed our way, I’m gearing up with these great finds below:

*Zoku Quick Pop Maker – Now you can create your own customized frozen pops, including cream-filled varieties, in as little as seven minutes.

*Chef’s Case – Five Sauces: Pomegranate Teriyaki, Lemon & Mint Chili, Garlic Chili, BBQ Figs and Red Wine Onion plus three professional spice blends that can be used in a myriad applications, from the exotic to the everyday.

*CPX 6 High Tech LED lantern –  Stays lit for 25 hours, comes with a 4D battery pack or you can purchase 6V rechargeable battery pack.

*Watermelon knife – Microserrated blade quickly cuts through tough rind and slices cleanly through the delicate, delicious flesh.

*Flower Ball Vase – A clever alternative to the quintessential vase which lets each beautiful cut flower (from your gorgeous garden) enjoy its space.

*Ready, Set… GLOW!Read the rest of this entry

Delicious for Derby

Being raised a Kentucky girl, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity and provide a bit of education regarding the upcoming 137th Kentucky Derby – the greatest two minutes in sports. The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, of which yours truly is a member, provides this wonderful & informational history of the mint julep, drink of choice on May 7th, 2011.

“Julep” is said to be a word meaning “rose water”.    Mint Julepjulep is a concoction of bourbon, water, sugar and a sprig of spearmint. The drink is over 200 years old, first referred to in print in the first decade of the 1800’s.  The book defined the julep as “A dram  of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” It is said that Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced the mint julep to Washington, DC. and thus it became famously associated with Kentucky and Kentucky Bourbon.

OK, for those holding Derby parties, here’s a recipe.  There are several but this is MY favorite:  Take two frosted silver mint julep cups.  In the first fill with ice and add a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of water.  Then, gently crush a couple mint leaves and place in the ice.  In the second cup, pour about 3 fingers of a quality Kentucky Bourbon.  Now, pour out the mess in the first cup and drink from the second.

Enjoy! -Colonel Saltsman

Let’s Get Cookin’

Admittedly I’m not the most comfortable in the kitchen but with the help of two new (to me) cookbooks & some dandy accessories, I’m at least starting to feel mildly competent & have some fun.

Squeaky Gourmet is the first cookbook that I have truly loved. Don’t get me wrong, I can spend hours flipping through beautiful 20lb cookbooks, but never have I found one small cookbook so fitting to my most basic needs & skills. Let me warn you that there are NO pictures and this delighted me to no end – nothing to show how sad my food looked compared to professional photos. What I’ve enjoyed best about this little book is that I have most ingredients on hand for every recipe.  It’s all of 138 pages, contains great nutritional info, and as stated on the cover,  Simple – Clean – Food.

One of my other hesitations in the kitchen comes from the fact that you have to clean up afterwards. Elizabeth Yarnell’s Glorious One-Pot Meals removes all such concerns. Now there’s a lot of chopping involved but then you simply layer proteins, vegetables and sometimes rice /pasta in your Dutch Oven and walk away. Her book does contain lovely photos but when everything is tossed together mine looks just fine too. For a limited time, Elizabeth will personally inscribe a book to the recipient of your choice when purchased on her site.

Also check out these practical & fun kitchen gadgets:

Thanks to Lisa & Vann Knight who recommended these great cookbooks!

Coffee or Tea, part deux

One of my first posts just over a year ago was called I’m Thirstea as I was slowly trying to make my way into the world of tea from my comforting coffee cosmos. While I still haven’t declared an overall winner, I do find that I’m easily swayed by the cool accessories & additions by both sides.

Blue Q Tea has won me over with their fun flavors such as ‘Be A Better Parent’ or ‘Erase Your Past’ tea in addition to their fantastic tea tumbler which lets you drink tea bagged or get it all loose. But as we head into summer, I have to make a fuss about Rooibee Red Tea! I was fortunate to be served this deelish tea by my sister, Ashley, when I was back home in Kentucky this past week. Currently available in 19 states, and hopefully they’ll keep growing as I had to load up on a case before I left. Flavors such as Watermelon Mint, Vanilla Chai and Honey Lemon combined with the fact that the tea is naturally caffeine-free, low cal, rich in antioxidants, full serving of Vitamin C, gluten free & organic makes it my new go-to drink.

Though some may claim that my blood type is espresso, I actually try to stick to 1-2 cups/day. I typically use a french press and pour it into my favorite  porcelain travel mug which fits in my cup holder, can be warmed up (as I sip on it for hours) and has a section where I can write myself erasable reminder notes. My other latest obsession is Inbru coffee flavoring. Pick up any delicious flavor such as Cinnamon Hazelnut, Pumpkin Pie or Peppermint and add a scoop to the ground coffee in your brew basket which adds fantastic flavor to a cup or a pot of delicious coffee at home or work. Addictive!

Selecting Safe Sustenance

If you are resolving to make better health and food choices this year, I’ve found 2 great articles that offer simple,  straight forward directives on making these decisions a little easier. Planet Green has listed 15 Foods To Banish From Your Kitchen which include:

Pasteurized Homogenized Milk, White Bread, Vegetable Oils,  Mac & Cheese Box, Canned SoupsPeanut Butter with additives, Breakfast Cereal, Refined White Flour, Velveeta Cheese, Enriched Pasta, Coffee, Chicken Eggs, Instant Grains, Frozen Dinners & White Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners.

Now I will still enjoy  my daily cup of joe, my kids will still eat  mac & cheese and eggs are a constant in our lives but the article gives sound background on why organic may be important for some of these items and suggested alternatives.

In addition, as we work to add more seafood in our lives, it’s hard to remember which is safest and most ethical. Monterey Bay Aquarium has a handy Seafood Watch Pocket Guide that is perfect to take along on your next shopping trip or I downloaded the Seafood Watch app for my iphone. It helps you choose safe seafood as well as ocean friendly restaurants and stores. The newest version, with Project FishMap, lets you share the locations of restaurants and markets where you’ve found sustainable seafood. As the map grows, you’ll also be able to see what others have found near you.

Fun & Fancy foodie stuff

Whether you are hosting a holiday gathering in your own abode or wanting to bring something out of the ordinary to your next fete, these are a few of my favorites that are sure to delight.

No one will touch the chips & salsa once they see the delicious four cheese honey flight from terrain. Honey lovers will enjoy tasting this delicious honey variety consisting of blueberry, buckwheat, sourwood and sweet yellow clover all with suggested cheese pairings.

Phat Beets, Mean Beans, Smokra, The People’s Pickle, and new Hotties from Rick’s Picks are perfect when you want to make an impression with quick, healthy, and delicious hors d’oeuvres. Try pairing them with cheeses and cured meats,  eat them straight out of the jar & use the delicious brine in your cocktails!

For a light and playful addition, pick up these  gourmet spiced lollipops from this charming candy on etsy. The flavors of  Pistachio-Marshmallow, tongue-tingling Teaberry,  decadent Nutmeg-Crème and Hazelnut Coffee will have adults arguing over who gets which one.

No evening would be complete without something sweet so put out a batch of Vosges‘ Bacon Caramel Toffee and watch it disappear. Made with buttery bacon toffee with smoked salt, in deep 45% milk chocolate, absolute heaven.

Are you NUTS?

Today is National Nut Day (who knew?) so I thought I’d bring to light some of my favorite things about this often overlooked snack.  We’ve all heard that nuts are one of the best plant sources of protein and that they are rich in fiber,  phytonutrients and antioxidants.  Nuts are also high in plant sterols and fat – but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 – the good fats), which have all been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. A2Z of Health, Beauty and Fitness provides a great starter list of the specific health benefits of each nut but the list is endless and eating a broad range of nuts is best.

I’m so nuts about nuts that someone gave me the most fabulous book called Party Nuts! that contains 50 recipes for spicy, sweet, savory, and simply sensational nuts that will be the hit of any gathering – great for the upcoming holidays! Now the recipes aren’t as easy as dumping a jar of peanuts into a bowl – but they aren’t  much more difficult either. Curried garlic peanuts, vanilla walnuts, three-pepper almonds, sugared bourbon pecans…you get the idea. Real Simple also covers three easy party nut recipes in their November issue such as Buttered Nuts wtih Rosemary & Orange.

Obviously it goes without saying that nuts should not be eaten by anyone with an allergy to them.  And for snacking, it’s best to stick with the raw, unsalted variety.