Daph with pumpkin

Brrrr.  It’s been so chilly here in Idaho.  It seems we went straight from summer into winter with not much of my favorite fall season in between. 

With the cooler temperatures, not much sounds better to me for dinner than a bowl of warm homey soup.  I’m kind of a soup fanatic and because of that we do “Souper Sunday” each weekend in our household.  I created this recipe for Pumpkin Soup a couple of years back and it’s become a favorite stand-by especially around this time of year.  It’s simple, low-fat and high fiber.  Plus it just tastes really good!  

If you want to be really creative and Marthaesque, hollow out a big pumpkin and serve up your soup in it.  The croutons are obviously not low-fat but they are delish and if you can keep yourself from shoving them in your mouth by the handful (I personally struggle with this), you won’t have to run too far to justify adding them to this healthy soup.

Daphne’s Easy Pumpkin Soup

 1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp dried sage

29 oz. can of pumpkin puree (or fresh pumpkin if you so desire)

8 cups low sodium chicken broth/stock

½ cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

croutons (homemade or store bought)

 Heat olive oil and sage in large pot over medium-high heat.  Add pumpkin, stir and heat for 1 minute.  Add broth and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.  Add cream, stir and add salt and pepper to taste.  You may need a lot of salt but I prefer to use the low sodium broth and then add my own salt back in so I can control the amount that goes in.

Keep over low heat until served.  Ladle into mugs and top with crunchy croutons.   Keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week.  Makes 8 servings.

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Daphne’s Croutons

Baguette (french, sourdough, seeded – any will work)

1/4 lb unsalted butter,  melted (8 Tbsp.)

1/4 cup olive oil (garlic olive oil works wonderfully too)

sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the baguette into 1-inch cubes.  Toss the bread cubes with the melted butter and olive oil.  Toss well so that each piece is completely coated.  Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet, lightly salt and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Use on soups and salads.  These will keep for several days in a ziploc bag or airtight container.  If they last that long!  You can also experiment and add fresh herbs, parmesan cheese to make “Caesar” croutons, etc. You would just mix in whatever you want to add when you are tossing the bread with the butter/oil mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

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Soccer cupcakes

Chocolate-Cream Cheese Cupcakes (adapted from Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook)

 

Filling

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (I like to use the mini)
 
Batter
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup water
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard-sized muffin pan with paper liners.  To make the filling, in a bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt and chocolate chips until well blended.  Set aside.
 
To make the batter, melt the chocolate chips using your preferred method (I follow the microwave directions on the bag or you can use the double boiler method).  Set aside to cool.
 
In another bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, egg and vanilla.  Stir in the melted chocolate.  Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the water, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and stirring until smooth.  Spoon batter into each of the prepared muffin cups, filling them half full.  Spoon about 2 Tbsp. of the filling into each cup and top with the remaining batter. 
 
Bake the cupcakes until they are puffed, slightly cracked on top, and baked through, 20-23 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool slightly.  These are wonderful served warm with or without frosting but they also work great just out of the fridge or served at room temperature.  Makes approx. 16 cupcakes                                      
 
Cream-Cheese Frosting (enough for 24 cupcakes or a 2-layer cake)
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature 
5-6 cups confectioners’ sugar*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
juice of 1 lemon (optional)
 
Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.  Slowly sift in confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated.  Mixture should be free of lumps.  Stir in vanilla and lemon if you use it.  Tint if desired.
 
*I don’t like my cream cheese frosting super sweet so I only use 5 cups but it works either way. 

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Can someone tell me when snacks become such a huge part of childrens organized sports? It seems as if someone somewhere along the line sent out a national mandate about snacks where kids athletics are involved.

Each parent must provide a really good (the definition of good will be in most cases determined by your child and accompanied with whining about how so and so’s mom brought cheetos, so in other words junky) snack and drink for every player for at least one game during the season.

I’m really not complaining because I like to bake, cook, etc., but I’m just curious and (forgive me) about to get on my soap box just a teensy bit… I wasn’t hugely involved in team sports as a kid but I did do my time playing Park and Rec basketball (yes, my nickname was Scrappy), Pop Warner cheeerleading for years, high school cheerleading (it wasn’t really a sport then, it is now). But I’m pretty sure that parent-provided team snacks were not part of the deal back then. What happened? Can kids not go for more than 1 hour without eating anymore?

Maybe that’s part of our childhood obesity epidemic. Even the kids that are running around getting some exercise are fueling up afterward with Krispy Kreme doughnuts (yes, two different parents brought these as a “snack” to my daughters soccer game) and sugary juice or “sports” drinks. I don’t know about you but after I run or exercise, if I can even stomach the thought of eating it certainly isn’t going to be a fried piece of sugar dough that I want to put in my body. Water good. Fruit great. Protein, even better.

I am really not anti-snack nor anti-goodies. Promise. I just really believe in moderation and I’m pretty sure doughnuts and juice are the greatest post-game snack. Nor do I like the idea that we are rewarding kids for doing something fun and physical with the promise of not so great for you food at the end. These kids (mine included) seem to play the game FOR the snack! There’s just something not so good about that. It seems we’re getting them started for a lifetime of looking at food as a reward when instead it should simply be fuel for our bodies. Now you know I don’t mean that fuel shouldn’t taste really good, because I do not by any stretch of the imagination think you have to sacrifice flavor for health.

My point here is simply if providing a snack is indeed part of being a soccer mom/football dad, maybe we should all try and do our part and make sure what we are giving are somewhat healthy snacks and drinks. I know just as well as anyone, life is crazy busy and not everyone has the time or desire to make homemade snacks. Cheese sticks are great. Fruit – bananas you don’t even have to cut them up. Low sugar granola bars with no High Fructose Corn Syrup please. Pretzels. Shoot, throw a cookie out there but balance it out with some fruit or carrot sticks. Water makes a wonderful post game drink. I just really don’t think doughnuts belong anywhere near an athletic field. Maybe if we all banded together and stuck with it, they wouldn’t even miss the junk and soon be begging us for carrot sticks.  One can dream.

To prove I am not a complete snack nazi (no snack for you!), I’m going to post the recipe for the cookies I brought when it was my turn for soccer snack for one daughter and the cupcakes I baked for the soccer party at the end of the season. They are not healthy whatsoever.  But they are homemade so at least I know what’s in them and none of it is an ingredient  I can’t pronounce or spell.  R requested our special “Brown Sugar Cookies” that have become our signature cookie together. I don’t blame her for wanting to share these with her teammates. These are darn good cookies. But to temper the fact that we were bringing cookies for a snack, we also brought cut up orange wedges and bottled water for all the girls.

And the cupcakes, well, what’s an end of the season soccer party without cupcakes?  It is a party after all!

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If you love caramel and/or butterscotch, these cookies are for you.  I truly think these are one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted.  America’s Test Kitchen recipes are the bomb!  Failproof and delicious.

Brown Sugar Cookies (from America’s Test Kitchen, Cookie Jar Favorites)  makes 2 dozen cookies

14 Tbsp. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar (make sure to use fresh so the cookies won’t be dry)
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
 
Heat 10 Tbsp. of butter in a 10-inch skillet (don’t use a non-stick or dark interior – it will be too hard to gauge the color) over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue to cook, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.  Watch it constantly as you want it browned, not burnt.  Remove the skillet from heat and transfer the browned butter to a large heatproof bowl.  Stir the remaining 4 Tbsp. butter into the hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes. 
 
Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large (18×12) baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the packed brown sugar, rubbing between your fingers, until well combined; set aside.  Whisk the flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a medium bowl; set aside.
 
Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to the bowl with the cooled butter.  (Be prepared to take a moment to inhale the most divine caramel, butterscotch fragrance ever.)  Then mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; add the egg, yolk and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.  Give the dough a final stir with the rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and the ingredients are evenly distributed.  I’m not advocating eating raw cookie dough but this dough is amazing (disclaimer:  do so at your own risk)!
 
Divide the dough into 24 portions, each about 2 Tbsp., rolling them between your hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Working in batches, toss the balls in the reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart,12 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but it will take 3 batches.)
 
Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are browned and still puffy and the edges have begun to set but the centers are still soft (the cookies will have a raw look between the cracks and seem underdone), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.  Do not overbake and do not judge these cookies by their color – they are dark already.  When they are done, if you press on a cookie, it will form an indentation with slight resistance.  Err on the side of underdone.
 
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes; using a wide spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature…if you can wait that long!
I’m going to post the cupcake and frosting recipe under a separate entry titled Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes.

 

Oh honey…

October 20, 2009

I will admit that before I moved to Idaho (for the most part) I was not very open-minded regarding any type of “homeopathic” treatments or remedies.  I don’t really know what my rational behind my disregard for natural remedies was but since I’ve been here in Spudsville I’ve changed.  Not drastically (see my green is good post – I still use toilet paper, etc.) but if there is some common sense, good reasoning behind it I’m kind of feeling these days that the more simple and natural, the better.  Getting closer to eating and using foods/products that more closely resemble the way nature intended them to be seems to be a worthy and attainable goal to aspire to. 

half marathonA great non-food example of this happened recently during my training for my 1st half-marathon.  Everything was going swimmingly (can you say that with regards to running?) when the wheels started falling off my 39-year old never been a serious runner before now, bod.  I ended up with a hip injury and some very painful jacked up runners toes.  If you don’t know what runners toes are, lucky you.  I had some black toenails and 4 nails that were almost completely lifted up and off of my toes.  Very painful and very gross.  Let’s just say they ooze.  It’s nasty and I guess somewhat unavoidable if you run for 10 plus miles. 

My homeopathic lovin’ friend Heidi (yep, brussel sprouts Heidi – what would I do without her?) recommended I soak my feet nightly in epsom salts and then follow by rubbing tea tree oil into the injured toenails.   I simultaneously made an appointment with a podiatrist and began to take Homeopathic Heidi’s advice.  I was desperate!  And wouldn’t you know it, I wasted $120 visiting the Dr.  After he looked at my toes, he told me to “soak your feet in epsom salts, apply tea-tree oil and get new running shoes.”  He also clipped the injured toenails which I couldn’t bring myself to do but at $120 for 15 minutes I probably could have convinced the nice ladies at Rosy Nails in Eagle to do it for a hell of a lot cheaper.  My point being, while sometimes the natural route may be the path less travelled it might actually be the path worth taking.

Honey_combFrom a food perspective, there are all kinds of foods out there that have homeopathic healing as well as nourishing properties.  One of the most versatile and multi-purpose ingredients you can (and should) keep on hand, is pure and natural honey.  I just read in Better Homes & Gardens that warm water mixed with a tablespoon of honey and vinegar can help relieve a sore throat.  The vinegar discourages bacteria growth and honey is anti-inflammatory.  And it sure tastes a lot better than just straight vinegar!  Good to know during this cold and flu season. 

In the same article, a remedy for nasal congestion recommends mixing the juice of one clove of garlic, 1/2 tsp of honey and some aloe vera. Soak two cotton balls in the mixture and insert them loosely in your nostrils for about 5 minutes.  You might not look very attractive but you’ll probably be able to breathe a little easier after the garlic clears your sinuses, the honey works as an astringent  and antibacterial and the aloe moisturizes your sore nasal tissue. 

There’s also was also a recent study done that found using honey as a cough suppressant for children over the age of 12 months was as effective (and probably easier to get down) than over-the-counter medications.  You can read this article and find lots of great information and recipes using honey on http://www.honey.com 

I have my own home remedy using honey.  Instead of buying those expensive sugar scrubs which I love because they make your skin smell so good and feel so soft, I make my own.  I take a plastic lotion jar (I go through tubs of cetaphil – it’s pretty dry here) and add brown sugar, coarse sea salt and lots of honey.  Mix together until it’s the consistency you like and use to scrub-a-dub-dub in the shower.       

My little aspiring chef, middle daughter “L” wanted me to include one of her favorite recipes using honey from her own kids cookbook.

Sunny Honey Granola (From Gooseberry Patch Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook)lila apples
 
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
non-stick vegetable spray
 
Mix oats, almonds, seeds and coconut in mixing bowl.  Stir honey and oil together in separate bowl and then combine with oat mixture. 
 
Spread out on a sprayed baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 20–30 minutes or until golden brown.
 
Let cool slightly, pour into a clean bowl and stir in raisins.  Store in a airtight container

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The Happy Menu Planner

October 19, 2009

daph with drinkYou know how you always read in all the home and cooking magazines about how dinner time will be so much easier if you just take a little time over the weekend to get organized and do some planning in advance?  Sure, it sounds simple enough when they write it but really, who has any extra time on the weekends and do you really want to use it menu planning if you do?   

But with three kiddos also comes having to prepare lunches every night, religion classes, soccer practices, football practices, showchoir practices, spelling tests, homework and the host of other unexpected activities that always seems to crop up.  Dinner was taking a way back seat and becoming a very stressful event in our household.  So, I decided to give the old menu planning advice a whirl.  I am happy to report, it has been an overwhelming success and the magazine writers were right.  I have been at it now for three weeks.  We’re eating great meals, at a decent hour and I’m enjoying the process.  When mommy’s happy, everybody’s happy.  Try it.  Like me, you might even find yourself with extra time for cocktails!

Whenever I can grab a half-hour at some point over the weekend, I pull together my dog-eared recipe magazines, cookbooks, recipe binder and my handy-dandy momagenda grocery/menu list notepad (this item is not a crucial part of the equation but it’s sure cute) and the planning commences.   If you can do your shopping over the weekend or Monday morning, you’ll even be that much more ahead of the game.  I got so overzealous one week I was making the next night’s meal the day before.  Only the more truly advanced menu planners should attempt this daring feat!

www.momagenda.com

I’m going to give you my past two weeks menus and a recipe from this week just to inspire you.  Happy planning!

October 5 -11th

Monday:  Lemony Chicken, Orzo and Maple-Glazed Brussel Sprouts

Tuesday: Turkey & White Bean Chili, Tossed Green Salad and Skillet Cornbread

Wednesday: Broccoli & Ham Quiche and Salad  — Brown Sugar Cookies (OMG – these cookies are so good, will post recipe soon)

Thursday: Crazy Bean Soup and Grilled 3-Cheese Paninis

Friday:  Pizza Night – Kitchen Closed!

Saturday: Chicken Marbella, Mashed Idaho Taters and Salad

Sunday:  Split Pea and Smoked Ham Soup, Garlic Bread — Tarte Tatin   

October 12 -18th

Monday:  Pork Bolognese* Penne, Green Salad

Tuesday: Beef Soft Tacos and Cheesy Black Beans

Wednesday: Whole Wheat Flatbreads with Lamb and Yogurt*, Cucumber & Tomato Salad

Thursday: Turkey Meatloaf with Fontina and Mushrooms*, Green Beans & Hazelnuts

Friday:  Dinner out – Kitchen Closed!

Saturday: Seared Cod with Pesto, Crispy Potatoes, Roasted Tomatoes and Green Salad

Sunday:  Greek Chicken Lemon Soup, French Bread and Roasted Broccoli  — Tarte Tatin

*Recipes from Everyday Food – September 2009 issue  

So what’s on the menu for this week you ask?  Well, the kiddos have requested chili and cornbread again so that’s up for tomorrow night.  I tend to like to make most things from scratch as I like to know what’s in the food I eat and serve my family.  That being said, I’m also not a complete purist (or a complete masochist) and I will go for convenience if it’s healthy and cost-effective. 

chili mixFor me, Carroll Shelby’s Original Texas Brand Chili Kit fits that bill.  Almost every major grocery store (including Wal-Mart) carry it.  My mom used it when I was growing up and I always liked her chili.  I use it now and my kids like my chili.  Nuff said.  It’s inexpensive and it has only very simple, real ingredients in it.  Plus you can easily doctor it up to make it your own.  I like that.  It used to come in the cutest little paper bag but for some reason (probably cost) they changed to a box.  It’s only the spices in the kit so you still need to add your preference of meat, tomato sauce/tomatoes, beans and whatever else says chili for you.  You can make it mild or hot using the spices provided.  http://carrollshelbyschili.com

With chili, must come cornbread.  At least in our house.  I like to make cornbread in my cast-iron skillet and serve it with butter and honey drizzled over the top.  Here is my recipe:

 

 Cast-Iron Skillet Corn Breadcast-iron-skillet

 
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. water
3/4 cup canned whole kernel corn (drained) 
butter
honey
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Pour the vegetable oil into a cast-iron skillet and put the skillet into the oven while it preheats.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and a pepper. 
 
In a bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and water until blended.  Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing together just until moist; a few lumps is a good thing.  Do not overmix.  Stir in the corn. 
 
Carefully pour the batter into the preheated oil in the pan.  Bake the corn bread until the top is golden brown and the sides have pulled away from the pan, about 20 minutes.  Serve immediately with butter and plenty of honey. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Green is good

October 18, 2009

No, I’m not getting political,environmental or granola on you.  Unlike that “No Impact Man” Colin Beavan in New York, I do not have any immediate plans to give up using toilet paper or stop shaving my armpits.  No toilet paper for a whole year?!  Really?  I can absolutely promise I will never, ever go there by choice.  Me likes me my quilted Northern way too much to do that.  I can’t even do the Kirkland brand.  Ooops, maybe that’s tmi… 

The green I’m talking about are the green veggies in my three favorite vegetable recipes.  At least one of these is on the menu every week in our household.  They are each a great way to get those veggies in and actually enjoy them in the process.  When my kids ask “What’s for dinner mom?”  and one of these recipes is part of my response they actually have been heard to cheer “yes! I love brussel sprouts!”  Crazy, I know…but I promise, completely true.broccoli

Roasty Toasty Broccoli

2 large crowns of broccoli (or as much as you think you need to feed your family or yourself)
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
sea salt               

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Wash and trim broccoli removing all stalks. My kids like to have some really tiny pieces mixed in with the larger ones because they get very crispy and crunchy, in otherwords, even more yummy!  Pat dry trimmed broccoli and put in a large heap on a baking sheet.  Pour the olive oil over the broccoli and toss with tongs or a fork and spoon to evenly coat all pieces.  (You could also do this is a bowl but why dirty another dish that you’re going to have to wash?)  Spread broccoli pieces out over baking sheet and salt.

Put on top rack of oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.  For a variation, you can also offer fresh grated parmesan at the table.                                                                                                                Serves 4-5 people.

I have to give credit to my good friend Heidi for this next recipe.  She invited us over for dinner one night sometime back and I asked what I could bring.  She said, “Well, I’m making brussel sprouts, we’ll have some grilled steak and blah, blah, blah…”  Basically she lost me at brussel sprouts because they were the one vegetable that both hubby and I detested.  I brought a BIG salad to that dinner since I knew we would not be eating those sprouts.  Heidi proved us wrong and turned our whole family into huge brussel sprout lovers.  It’s all in the preparation.  I think I had only previously tasted them boiled — ugghhh.  No wonder I didn’t like them.  Thanks Heidi! 

240px-Brussels_sprout_closeupMaple-Glazed Brussel Sprouts

1/2 – 1 lb. small to medium-sized brussel sprouts
Olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt
Maple syrup (real – imitation will not do)
Trim and halve sprouts (as many as you need for your family – we use at least a 1/2 lb). Put in a large skillet (I do it in my cast-iron) and toss generously with olive oil. Add 1-2 cloves minced garlic and a generous pinch of sea salt.

Saute over med heat, stirring frequently until the sprouts start to get brown and a little crispy on the edges. Just before serving, drizzle maple syrup (only real will do) over entire pan and stir. Serve immediately.

*Allow at least 15-20 minutes for them to cook thoroughly.                   Serves 4-5 people.

I just discovered this recipe in early September and it was an instant hit.  We’ve already had it twice in the past month.  It’s from my absolute favorite little food magazine, Everyday Food, from Martha Stewart.  If you’re not familiar with it, I highly recommend snatching one up next time you’re in the grocery checkout line.  It’s tiny – the size of a Reader’s Digest but they pack a ton of great stuff in there.  Their recipes are simple, healthy (for the most part) yet with enough of a flair to be a little different and unusual.  The best part…they always work!  You will see me post many recipes either straight from their pages or adapted…I am huge fan and dedicated subscriber.  And, no, I am not being paid to write this (Hubby only wishes I was). 

greenbeansGreen Beans With Hazelnuts (adapted from Everyday Food – Sept 2009)

1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1Tbsp. unsalted butter
coarse salt and ground pepper
2-4 Tbsp. hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (your preference – we like more)
fresh parsley (totally optional)
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
 
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add green beans.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook, tossing occasionally, until green beans are crisp-tender, 5-8 minutes.  Stir in hazelnuts, parsley and lemon juice.  Serve immediately.                                                                                                                 Serves 4-5 people.
 
 
*I like this feature on their website that helps you meal plan and grocery shop.  Check it out!  www.marthastewart.com/grocery-bag
 
 

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beta-fishWe started off today on a sad note.  Super Dorothy the super-long living beta fish passed on to the great ocean in the sky this week.  Super Dorothy was my 7 -year old middle daughter’s pet who managed to live a very long (2 years) life despite being for the most part completely ignored and rarely fed.  I highly recommend beta fish as a family pet.  They must  have the market cornered on low-maintenance.  You might not be able to cuddle with them but you also don’t have to spend $50 a bag on premium dog food, make overnight doggie “spa” arrangements when you go out of town or end up with chewed up shoes, toys and underwear all over your house.  Don’t even get me started on the amount of poop a dog adds to your life.  Too much.  I promise (kind of) that I’m not bitter about our dog Rocky.  He is however very high maintenance!

So I scooped Super “D” up in a cup (she was getting pretty rank after two days a’floating in her bowl) and we sadly trudged to the canal near the bus stop so we could quickly eulogize our beloved fish.  L said some sweet words.  “Dorothy you were a great fish.  I hope you are happy swimming in heaven.  Good-bye.  Amen.”  We added the obligatory “Father, Son, Holy Spirit (we are catholic after all)” and tossed her in.  The current carried her away to a bigger and better fish bowl somewhere up there we hope.  Within a minute, the kids had forgotten all about Dead Dorothy and were running for the bus.  Amazing resilence those kids!

 

crotch splitter

Ok, on to what you are all (all three of you at this point) dying to hear about (come on, admit it!), the crotch splitters.  Any guesses?  I won’t keep you in suspense any longer.  I went to meet with my trainer, the slave driver Crystal, who you will be hearing a lot about.  Actually she is awesome and even though she pushes me very hard — I love her.  And I guess I am paying her to push me hard so that’s a good thing.  She seems to be under the assumption that I am some kind of studdette who can endure a constant barrage of high intensity push-ups, pull-ups, dips and yes, crazy exercises called crotch splitters.  I just couldn’t even do those without laughing although really they hurt too badly to laugh. 

 Try to visualize.  You stand on this really tall step (I am somewhat vertically challenged so anything that comes up past my belly button seems really tall to me) with a big exercise ball to the side of the step.  You put your right leg extended out onto the top of the ball and you squat down as you push the ball out with your extended leg, thus putting you in a position akin to (yes, I’m going to say it)  “splitting your crotch.”  Are you doing it right now?  Ok, now you know my pain.  And then she made me curl a medicine ball to boot.  Yikes!  All this for a tight tushy?  Hmmm…

blue-mooseFor those of you local to da’ho (Idaho, that is), The Blue Moose in Eagle, just happens to be one of my favorite places to eat.  Hubby asked me to meet him for a late lunch date (sweet) after the torturous workout.  I was nervous that I might not be able to lift my fork to my mouth but accepted his kind offer anyway.  We’ve been together so long (almost 20 years) I figured he’d still love me even if I had to lick my salad off my plate. 

Marcy, proprietor and chef extraordinaire at The Moose, has added a charming, rustic wine bar complete with bar stools to the main entry area of the cafe.  Last night kicked off the Cafe’s first official “wine” night.  Wine was flowing as was conversation with a cozy lit fireplace warming up the room.  This is going to be a regular happening going on both Thursday and Friday nights at Blue Moose, so line up your  sitter for the kids (if you have them) and high-tail it over there.  She’s going to have some great comfort food specials going on as well.  Think Yankee pot roast, beef stew in a bread bowl, chicken pot-pie and the like.  And then of course all her regular to-die-for salads (big, big fan of the Maytag and the Orange Grove) and ginormous sandwiches.  Finish it off with one of her famous frosted brownies and someone can  just roll you out the door back to your car.  Later you can find Crystal and do some crotch splitters.

Happy Weekend!!

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