Super Bowls

Today is me and my husband’s wedding anniversary.

It doesn’t really matter how long we’ve been married because we already communicate like an old married couple.

As in, he says stuff and I hear what I want to hear.

This year, our anniversary just so happened to fall on Superbowl Sunday.

I asked him what he wanted to do today.

Here’s what he said:

“Eat food and watch football. It’s the Superbowl.”

Here’s what I heard:

“I want to eat superfruit bowls.”

Well, since it is our anniversary and everything, we can do what you want to do.

So enjoy your superfruit bowl.

SUPERFRUIT BOWLS WITH ORANGE MANGO SAUCE

To make orange fruit bowls:

Slice the top and bottom of an orange.

Cut in half.

Scoop out the flesh of the orange using a grapefruit spoon.

To make Orange Mango Sauce:

Peel and slice a very ripe mango.

Add mango, orange flesh, and pinch salt to blender or food processor.

Puree until smooth.

Add blackberries, blueberries and diced kiwi to orange fruit bowls.

Top with orange mango sauce.

Here’s some stats on this winning team:

Blueberries:

Sacks cancer cells with its antioxidant protection and is a very good source of Vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. 

Kiwi:

Known for it’s running abilities, kiwi fruit keeps things running smoothly in the digestive tract as well as providing almost a full day’s worth of Vitamin C.

Blackberries:

Blackberries are top scorers. They provide more phytonutrients than any other fruit.

Oranges:

Oranges are one of the best defensive players in the league. With 116% Vitamin C, oranges help to block any cold or flu that threatens good game-day health.

Mango:

Mango provides 1/3 of your daily Vitamin A requirement and helps contribute to that healthy “glow.”

That’s a good line-up.

Hope you have a Super Sunday!

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TANgent

My friend asked me how I stayed so tan.

“Do you go to the tanner?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

“I eat a lot of orange food.”

People always laugh when I say this.

But its the only explanation I have for any coloring in my skin considering I spend 23.75 hours indoors.

Sometimes more.

And don’t go thinking that I’m one of those lucky olive complected people.

I’m not.

I’m just this side of albino.

And that’s after I put my make-up on.

It must be all that Orange Joos I’ve been drinking.

Or the pumpkin that gets mixed into everything.

Or the carrot fries.

Or the butternut squash soup.

Or this.

WHIPPED CHIPOTLE SPICED SWEET POTATOES

2 lb. sweet potatoes (about 2 large)

2 teaspoons natural peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Tidbit: These sweet potatoes are steamed before being whipped. Steaming retains more nutrients, flavor, and is quicker than boiling or roasting.

Add water and steamer basket to pot.

Peel and dice sweet potatoes-the smaller the dice the quicker they cook!

This is NOT an example of a small dice so they took about 25 minutes to steam. A smaller cut will cook in about half the time.

Add potatoes to the steamer basket and steam with the lid on until very, very soft.

Like mush.

Transfer potatoes to stand mixer or bowl and whip, adding some of the steam water (about 1/3 cup) if necessary.

Add peanut butter, chipotle powder, salt and whip until incorporated.

Tidbit: The peanut butter makes the sweet potatoes rich and creamy while adding a slight nutty flavor.  Use one without added sugar if you have it. 

Whip it.

Whip it good.

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Juiced

I just could not decide what to make this week.

I stalked recipes online for hours.

I poured over cookbooks.

I ran dozens of ideas by the husband-

During our morning cup of coffee.

During tv time.

During our workout.

I’m starting to think it really wasn’t an accident when he kicked me in the face during those switch jumps.

But I had forgotten something very important.

I was in possession of a secret family recipe.

It’s a secret because I can’t decipher my six year old niece’s   handwriting.

My niece and I are kindred spirits.

I’ve tried convincing my sister that my niece Marielle is actually my daughter, but my sister is pretty confident that the nine months of gestation and 12 hours of labor she endured effectively make Marielle her offspring.

Whatever.

The girl juices fruits and vegetables for fun.

We all know who she really belongs to.

So, courtesy of my niece, please enjoy this juice recipe.

MISS MARIELLE’S ORANGE JOOS

1. Put carots and apls and orange

2. Pos Down

3. Wan uor dun put

4. the joos in a cup

As deciphered by Aunt Shana:

1. Put 6 carrots, 2 apples (cored), and 1 orange (peeled) into your juicer.

2. Press down.

3.  Allow all the juice to drip into the carafe.

4. Pour the joos into a cup.

Somehow this juice is creamy, sweet, and a remarkably  close rendition of an orange juilius.

Marielle is on her way to becoming a stellar cook.

Just like her Mom  aunt.

 

 And just in case there was a doubt in your mind about the power of juicing, here is six year old Marielle carrying her 10 year old brother.

 

Get juicin’!

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Move Me Cherry

There’s an art to begging.

Most kids have mastered this art.

I myself practiced this fine art on a daily basis with my mother.

It starts with a request.

You know, something simple like “Can I spend the night at  Kasie’s house?”

Then comes the interminable wait.

I try to keep my eyes wide and hopeful looking so she knows how important this request is.

“No. It’s a school night.”

I can see she needs more coercion. This is when it’s helpful to offer factual evidence to support the initial request.

“But all my homework is done and it’s a half day tomorrow.”

This is a critical period in the negotiation. It’s necessary to  keep a calm demeanor as you don’t want to play your emotional cards too soon.

“No. I don’t have time to drive you over there tonight.”

Ah.

So, this is a logistics issue. Hope is restored.

“Her mom said she could come get me.”

A little excitement is fine here. You need to increase your energy in order to pressure the person into responding quickly. It’s best to keep your overall composure though, as you don’t want to agitate the momentum of the situation.

Moments pass.

Thinking occurs.

A verdict is delivered.

“No. It’s late. You need to start thinking about bed.”

Danger! Danger!

You’re losing her!

Employ the heavy artillery! 

“BUTMOMI’VEBEENREALLYGOODANDHAVEA’SINALLMYCLASSESANDCLEANEDMYROOMANDIPROMISEI  WILLCLEANTHEWHOLEHOUSETHISWEEKEND!”

Depending on the Mom mood of the moment, this could go one of two ways.

1. She’ll be too tired to argue and approve the request.

2. She’ll be too tired to argue and I’ll be grounded for a week.

“You’re going to clean the whole house?”

Fuuuudddggeee.

I shouldn’t have said that.

“Um, yes.”

This new information gets processed.

“I don’t know.”

Yes!

We have re-entered initial negotiation phase.

“Pretty please?”

Silence.

“With a cherry on top?”

I can see her eyes soften.

Clearly this situation called for deploying the heart string pulling technique and not the previously employed emotional outburst.

“Yes but the WHOLE house gets cleaned by Friday.”

I smile.

And secretly hope she’s too tired by Friday to remember I made such a promise.

Upon reflection of my manipulative strategies, it occurred to me that “with a cherry on top” was one of the best, yet benign, techniques for emphasizing the excitement associated with a request.

Because everything is better with a cherry on top.

And with liquor in it.

What?

We’re not children anymore.

Now when I beg for things, I ask for Amaretto Cherry Sauce.

With shredded coconut on top.


Amaretto Cherry Sauce

1  (12 oz.) bag of frozen cherries

1 tablespoon of agave

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

3 tablespoons of  cold water

1 tablespoon of Amaretto liquor*

Shredded coconut, optional garnish

*Tidbit: Use 1-2 drops almond extract for a non-alcoholic version.

Heat cherries and agave in a small sauce pan over medium heat until almost boiling.

Mix cornstarch with water in small bowl until dissolved.

Add cornstarch slurry to cherries and boil mixture for one minute.

Remove from heat and stir in amaretto liquor.

Cool.

Serve in pastry cups and garnish with shredded coconut.

Make this soon.

Pretty please?

With a cherry on top?

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Everyone's A Critic

While people usually get excited about the prospect of free food, sometimes I think my friends are secretly afraid.

Because they know it comes with follow up questions.

Is it too dry?

Too salty?

Too sweet?

Too tofu?

I can always see them analyzing the food a little bit trying to figure out if I snuck something weird in there.

Then as they take initial bites, I am furiously trying to gauge their reaction while being as inconspicuous as possible  which really amounts to an a herculean effort to assess any facial twitches using only my peripheral vision.

If they hesitate before answering the post-mastication quiz, I automatically assume they hate it and mentally scrap the recipe in my head.

I am very critical of my food.

The vision in my head almost never translates to the final product.

And sometimes I think people are just being nice when they tell me something tastes good.

But I know something is good when someone asks for the recipe.

Requested Recipe:

BEER CHILI BEAN DIP

A black bean chili cooked in dark, roasty beer and topped with fire roasted tomatoes, crispy romaine, cilantro, and green onion. Choose a good, dark beer for the best flavor.

For Black Bean Layer:

1 large onion, chopped (reserve half for tomato layer)

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 (12 oz) bottle of dark beer (see tidbit)

2 teaspoons honey (optional)

salt + pepper to taste

For tomato layer:

1/2 large onion, chopped (reserved from beans)

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 (14.5 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes (no salt added), drained

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake

1/8 teaspoon salt

pinch pepper

For Romaine Layer:

1 cup chopped romaine

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

3 green onions, sliced

In a large pot, saute onion, celery, and garlic in 2 teaspoons of olive oil until soft.

Add black beans, beer, and chili powder.

Cook over high heat until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes).

Continue cooking over medium heat for another 20 minutes or until mixture is thick and almost no liquid remains.

Salt and pepper to taste.

While black beans are cooking, add remaining onion and oil to medium sized pot and cook until soft.

Add drained tomatoes and red pepper flake and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.

When liquid has evaporated from both the beans and the tomatoes, pour beans into serving dish.

Layer the tomato mixture on top.

Toss the romaine, cilantro, and green onion together.

Sprinkle the romaine mixture on top of the tomatoes just before serving.


*Tidbit: I chose a bitter stout beer brewed with coffee for this recipe and added honey off-set the bitterness. Any not-too-sweet porter or stout will work here but a nice lager or ale would be equally delicious.

If you ask for one of my recipes, you become the recipient of all my future culinary adventures by default.

Please neatly print your critique on white copy paper and don’t forget to add your name, date, and willingness to participate in future taste-testing nonsense.

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The Charlie Browniest

Let me start by saying I hate Charlie Brown.

I don’t understand the appeal.

Everything about him is depressing.

The way he talks, the way he walks, the way he broods over America’s dwindling values.

And the rest of the peanuts cast of characters?

They’re just mean.

They’re bullies, really.

Mostly, I can’t stand Lucy and her 5 cent therapy.

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO COMPETE WITH THAT?!?!

My boss would be so mad if I charged 5 cents for therapy sessions.

My point is I’ve been feeling a little Charlie Brownish lately.

It happens every January.

I get all brooding and contemplative and want to hold demonstrations about the evils of commercialism.

I knew things were bad when I didn’t feel like cooking.

It turns out cooking was exactly the therapy I needed though.

But instead of something heavy, I needed something bright to lift me out of this post Christmas funk.

The best part is it requires very little time or preparation. If you don’t have a food processor or a blender, just give the beans a good mashing with a fork.

Lemony Artichoke White Bean Spread

1 (16 oz) can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 lemon, juiced

1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped.

salt and pepper, to taste

Add beans, garlic and lemon juice to blender of food processor.

Process until smooth, but still has some texture.

Transfer to a medium sized bowl.

Fold in chopped artichoke.

Season to taste.

Serve with pita chips, vegetables, on top of salads or spread on a sandwich.

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It's a Wonderful Loaf

I’m

dreaming

of

a

white

Christmas.

And clearly it will remain a dream.

As there is no snow in sight.

I’ll settle for White Christmas Soup.

Sauteed apples, onions, and slow cooked cauliflower make this soup velvety smooth without adding any cream. Cozy up to the fire and enjoy this comforting winter warmer. 

WHITE CHRISTMAS SOUP

2 apples, peeled and chopped

1 large onion, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 cups (about 2-3 large heads) cauliflower, chopped

1 cup of water

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

2-3 cups of water

Green onion, sliced (optional garnish)

In a large stockpot, add apples, onion and oil.

Saute until softened.

Add cauliflower, water, and bay leaf. Cover and cook over medium heat until cauliflower is super tender.

Transfer to a blender or food processor and process in batches until smooth.

Return to pot and add spices and salt.

Add 2-3 cups of water until desired consistency.

Ladle into soup bowls.

Garnish with sliced green onions.

I’m pretty sure this is going to be awesome with my

“It’s a Wonderful Loaf” Bread

A quick, whole grain beer bread sweetened with apples and molasses, then topped with oats and pumpkin seeds.

3 cups white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup molasses

10 oz. beer (take a sip!) or seltzer water

1 apple, cored and chopped

1/4 cup raw oats

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add molasses.

Pour in beer and stir just to combine.

Fold in chopped apple.

Pour into cast iron skillet or baking dish.

Sprinkle on the oats and pumpkin seeds.

Bake 45-50 minutes.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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'Tis the Sneezin'

I think I can see it.

Do you see what I see?

I can practically hear it.

Do you hear what I hear?

Yes, I just know it.

Do you know what I know?

It’s disgusting.

I can just feel billions of little germs invading my office space.

I have been coughed on, sneezed on, and I’m pretty sure someone used my stuffed Frosty the Snowman to wipe their snotty little nose.

There appears to be a massive cold/flu epidemic hovering right outside my door.

I’m not taking any chances.

So I’m taking every opportunity to build up my immune system and super load it with Vitamin C.

Oranges are an obvious source and I’ve been eating them two at a time.

Between decontamination sessions.

But there are other Vitamin C packed foods that will help you fight a cold faster than a flying snot rocket.

Things like red peppers

Chili peppers

  Even parsley

And if you spend more time shoveling salsa in your face than shoveling the snow in your driveway, this is the winter salsa recipe for you.

It’s loaded with vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables to give you a fighting chance this flu season.

If you’re reading this on your smart phone in the middle of the produce aisle (because who doesn’t) put the fresh tomato down.

I SAID PUT IT DOWN!

Fresh tomatoes suck in the winter.

They’re all mealy and flavorless.

There is nothing delicious about that.

So push your little cart right over to the canned goods aisle and pick up a can of fire roasted tomatoes.

No salt added.

There is no sense in being so bloated that you can’t even squeeze into your flannel jammies.

Now walk back to the produce aisle and pick up some fresh oranges, red pepper, chili pepper, red onion, parsley, and cilantro.

Because we’re making

WINTER “VITAMIN C” SALSA

1 (12 oz) can fire roasted tomatoes (no salt added)

2 oranges, peeled and chopped

1 red pepper,  seeded and chopped

1 chili pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 medium red onion, chopped

1 cup parsley, chopped

1 cup cilantro, chopped

salt, to taste

Drain the tomatoes and add to a medium sized bowl.

Gather your chopped oranges, peppers, onion, parsley and cilantro.

I like to put everything in a heaping pile and run my knife through the whole mixture until everything is minced.

Add the mixture to the tomatoes.

Toss until combined.

Add salt to taste.

Just in case you were thinking about it, don’t heat your salsa.

Heat kills Vitamin C.

Eat it on a tortilla chip like a normal person.

Or on salad.

Or inside a baked sweet potato.

Or on, um, a tortilla chip.

I ate so much of this the first day I’m pretty sure I’m immune to the plague.

Or whatever that green goo all over Frosty is.

Lovely.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Kid at Heart

I constantly get asked when I am going to have kids.

Well.

After five years of marriage and no children,  the husband and I have made a very important decision.

We have decided to adopt.

We’re still not ready for children though.

So we decided to adopt a senior citizen.

For Christmas.

As the final challenge for the 12 Challenges of 2012, we decided to share our blessings this Christmas by adopting an 86 year old man who is currently living in a nursing home.

His wish list was a simple one.

Pajamas

Slippers

A blue comforter

Action DVD’s

And a baseball cap

I think we can manage that.

It sounds a heck of a lot easier than growing a human being inside of my uterus for nine months and raising it for the next eighteen years.

Yes, eighteen.

Then it’s time to either go to college or get a job.

Either way, you’re not allowed to live in my house anymore.

If you’re really nice to me from the ages of 2-17, however, I might consider sending you care packages.

College food sucks.

Nursing home food ain’t so hot either, I hear.

So I decided to include a little treat along with the gifts for our newly adopted octogenarian.

It’s easy to make.

But maybe not so easy to chew.

Maybe that just means the enjoyment will last longer?

CHERRY COCONUT  AND CASHEW BARK

2 (12 oz) packages non-dairy chocolate chips

1/2 cup cashew pieces

1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

1/2 cup dried cherries

Add chocolate chips to a large bowl.

Microwave for 20-30 seconds and then stir.

Continue until most of the chocolate has melted.

Stir until chocolate is smooth.

Pour onto foil lined sheet and spread in an even layer.

Top with cherries, cashews, and coconut.

Chill until firm and break into small pieces.

Sweet coconut, salty cashews, tart cherries, and chocolate?

This is one Christmas tradition you’ll definitely want to adopt.

The senior citizen is optional, but highly recommended.


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Life's Little Gems

I was watching 60 year old Christmas movies starring a cast of puppets and strings, when I was moved by a particular scene.

Santa was galavanting around town pretending to be, um, not Santa when he starts chatting up a young boy.

Can you name this movie? I’ll send a batch of cookies to the first person with the right answer!

Due to a nasty cold, Not Santa Santa sneezes, which alarms the young boy’s mother.

Upon learning that it was actually that it was not her son that was suffering from sinus issues, the mother promptly invites her son’s “new friend” into the house and offers a nice home remedy to combat his cold.

That would NEVER happen today.

Today we would assume that man was probably some sort of pedophile who was trying to take advantage of an innocent little boy.

We would probably call the police, or at the very least, punch him in the jingle bells.

Essentially we have become so jaded and so cynical, we don’t even trust Santa anymore.

And if you can’t trust Santa, who can you trust?

All of this got me thinking about the 12 Challenges of 2012.

Thanks to my co-workers generosity, we were able to raise enough money to provide a full Thanksgiving meal for a family in need as part of November’s challenge.

For December’s challenge, I put some serious thought into adopting a family for Christmas.

But cynicism was sucking the spirit of the season right out of me.

What if the family sells the gifts for drugs?

What if the kids get mad and break the gifts in fit of rage?

What if they’re not grateful because the gifts aren’t good enough?

But Christmas is about having faith.

And goodwill towards men.

And other catchy snippets of songs that remind us not to be so grinchy.

So this year, I am going to have faith that if I choose to adopt a family, the money and gifts will go exactly where they need to go.

And you can have faith that even though the ingredients in this recipe might sound unusual, they make one fantastic tasting cookie.

It’s the softest, chewiest, gingerbread cookie you’ll eat all season.

GINGERBREAD GEMS

1 (8 oz) package of pitted dates

2 tablespoons molasses

1/2 cup flour

*Tidbit: I used white whole wheat for this recipe. You can use 1/2 cup finely ground oats to make a gluten free cookie!

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4-1/3 cup turbinado sugar (for rolling)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Add dates and molasses to a food processor and process until dates are finely chopped.

Add flour, spices, and salt.

Process until mixture forms a ball.

Use a tablespoon or cookie scoop to divide mixture into about 24 cookies.

Roll into a ball.

Press each ball gently with the palm of your hand to flatten into a disk.

Roll each disk in the turbinado sugar.

Tidbit: Turbinado sugar (raw sugar) is larger and more coarse than regular white sugar giving the cookies a golden sparkle and a bit of crunch.

Place on baking sheet about one inch apart.

Bake for about six minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely to allow cookie to set.

This Christmas, I have faith.

And I believe.

I believe in Santa.

I believe that Christmas movies that feature puppets and claymation are the best Christmas movies of all time.

I believe that we need to go back to a time where we helped our neighbors.

And I believe cookies made with dates might be just what you need to help you get the spirit back in Christmas.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!