Saturday, February 28, 2009

Look who joined the party!


We were lucky enough to befriend this sassy little chickie last year, and let us just tell you that we couldn't be happier about it!

Amy is the hostess with the mostest! She cooks, bakes, decorates, scrapbooks, plans the best parties, and has a smile that will light up a room. And the best part?? She wants to join the party! Just make sure to tune in tomorrow to see what amazing dish she brought!

Want to join the party? Email us with the most fabulous dish you make, along with a picture of it, AND a picture of YOU, partying in YOUR pantry (or kitchen)! Just one rule...we only use "real" ingredients. That means real butter, real sugar, and no mixes. That's it! Easy-peasy- lemon-squeezy! We'll try out your recipe and see where we can get it slated on our schedule.

Think about it, peeps!!
We're looking forward to partying with you!

Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes

Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes

2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1-1/2 Cup Milk
8 Ounces Sour Cream
1/3 Cup Butter, melted
One Cup Fresh or Frozen Blueberries

1/4 Cup Sugar
One Tablespoon Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Water
2 Cups Fresh or Frozen Blueberries

These pancakes are to die for! So very moist and fluffy, you will not be able to stop yourself at just one serving! This is our" go-to" recipe if we have guests for breakfast... not only because they are wonderful, but also because this recipe makes a lot!

I will tell you that the original recipe called for double the ingredients for the topping, but I just find that every time I make it, I have quite a bit of blueberry sauce left over. Plus, you always have a couple of people who prefer maple syrup over fruit topping, so that usually factors in as well. Now, having leftover blueberry sauce is not a bad thing, if you eat it. It's so yummy! But if you forget about it and leave it in the back of the fridge...well, that's just sad. And blueberries can be expensive, so we prefer not to waste them if possible. That being said, if you really want some leftover blueberry sauce, double the "topping" portion of this recipe and then gorge yourself!! Just be careful you don't eat too much and end up looking like Violet Beauregard!!

"Violet! You're turning violet, Violet!! What am I going to do with a blueberry for a daughter?" Heeheehee...we just love that movie!!

Let's get started, shall we? We'll start with the blueberry topping...that way if you make the portion above and you don't think it looks like enough, you can go ahead and double it. Hey, we're just here to make your life a little easier! Now get out a medium saucepan and combine your sugar and cornstarch, gradually stirring in the water. Add those luscious blueberries and bring to a boil over a nice medium heat. Boil for about 2 minutes...and don't quit stirring! We need that sauce to thicken up! When it looks good to you, remove it from the heat and cover it to keep it warm. Ok, ok, go ahead and taste it if you must.

For your pancakes, combine your dry ingredients in a nice sized bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs, and then add in the sour cream, milk, and butter. Mix these ingredients well. Now, make a bit of a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour your sour cream mixture into it. Stir just until moistened. Fold in your tasty blueberries very carefully and be careful not to overmix. Err on the side of caution here!! You don't want flat pancakes, do you? Heat your oiled griddle up and pour the batter on, making them whatever size and shape you want. When they start to bubble, lift up a corner to check for doneness. And we're sure you can all take it from here...especially if you read yesterday's post!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Some Tips On Pancakes!

We eat a lot of pancakes around here. In fact, when Kendall was little, we had pancakes almost every day because they were her favorite - just ask Aunt Jessie! To keep life from getting too boring (because we hate that!), we tried all kinds of pancakes - some good, some not so good. But rest assured, the only ones we will be sharing are the ones we like! Tomorrow, we will be sharing the best blueberry pancakes EVER...and in preparation of that, I'd like to share with you some tips for primo pancakes!!

1.) NEVER over mix your batter. For fluffy pancakes that your family and friends will rave over, only stir your ingredients until they are just incorporated together and then STOP!! Yes, we know you will be tempted to keep stirring...we always used to be. But trust us on this one. There is a very complex and drawn out reason having to do with giving gluten proteins too much time to organize and baking soda releasing carbon dioxide, but hey, we're not really into details like that. All we really need to know is when to stop mixing. So put all of your ingredients in the bowl, give it a stir or two to incorporate them and then just push the bowl away. You'll thank us for this later.

2.) Don't let your batter sit for more than an hour. Always make your pancake batter fresh and use it immediately. When you let it sit, the baking powder is sitting there doing it's work, releasing carbon dioxide when you finally go to use the batter, there are no bubbles left, resulting in flat pancakes. And NOBODY likes flat pancakes! Now, we have read that if your batter sits too long, you can try to add a stiffly beaten egg white to try to get some of your fluff back, but we can't say for sure, because we haven't tried it. I mean, we just can't figure out why you'd let your batter sit for over an hour anyway!!

3.) Make sure your pan is heated to the right temperature. This one can be tricky! But finding the perfect temp for your skillet is a must, because we don't like pancakes that are runny in the middle, or burned around the edges. Heat your skillet or griddle over medium heat and place a bit of oil or butter in it. After a few minutes, get your fingertips wet and flick the water onto your skillet. Does the water dance and spit? If it does, we're on our way! Next, take a small spoonful of batter and pour it onto the skillet and wait for about one minute. Check it, and if it's not golden brown, it's not hot enough. If it's black, it's too hot. We have a wonderful way of stating the obvious, don't we?? Anyway, you get the picture.

4.) Only flip your pancakes ONE time!! This is one reason to make sure your skillet is at the right temp before you start. If you keep flipping your pancakes over and over, they get flat...and decidedly UNfluffy. And you know how we feel about that, don't you?

5.) Serve ASAP!! The longer a pancake sits, the grosser it gets...The End. So, to keep your pancakes warm, we find that the best thing to do is to put them in a single layer on a cooling rack (sprayed lightly with PAM) in the warming drawer of my oven. If you don't have a warming drawer, you can set your oven on low heat, like 200, and place them in it until you are ready to eat. This will keep them from getting flattened from being stacked or soggy from being steamed under foil.

7.) Real Maple Syrup is a must. Ok, we realize that there are a lot of people in the world today who don't realize that Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth's, and Hungry Jack are not maple syrup. No, REALLY!!! People...please take a moment and look at the ingredients sometime. Then do yourself a favor and look past the price tag on the real stuff and buy it anyway. You need far less of it than you do the thick, fake stuff. And there is no comparison. None. Corn syrup will never measure up to maple syrup, no matter how much crap they add to it. And if the price is just killing you...try to find a deal at Sam's Club, Costco, or a local farmer's market. You just may be surprised to find that you never want to go back to the fake stuff!

6.) Always, ALWAYS heat your syrup!! Nothing ruins pancakes for me like cold/room temperature syrup. WHY would anyone do that to their warm, fluffy pancakes??? One of the most rewarding moments of eating pancakes is when you put that beautiful pat of real butter on top and then pour on warm maple syrup...and the butter melts and runs all over and down the sides of your pancakes. Why, oh WHY would anyone want to miss that part, we ask you??

7.) Freeze the leftovers. If you followed all of these directions, you probably won't have any pancakes left. However, on the off chance you do, freeze them for the next day! We almost always double the amount we need so we'll have pancakes for another breakfast or two. Just make sure you don't stack them! Leave them cool on the cooling rack in a single layer. Then just place your cooling rack right in the freezer until they get nice and solid. By doing this, you are making sure that when you take them out of the freezer, they won't be stuck together. When they're ready, stack them up and put 'em in freezer bags. We prefer to heat them up in the toaster/toaster oven or oven instead of the microwave, because they will stay a little crispy...but do whatever floats your boat!

Peace, Love, and Pancakes!!!

Coming Tomorrow..... Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes!!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wingin' It with Flat Pizzas

I remember when I first moved into my house, I was so excited to do all sorts of dazzling landscaping. Of course, when it came time to actually start, I was completely lost and overwhelmed. I asked friends, family, even strangers at the garden nursery, for guidance on how to choose plants that grow well together and compliment one another. They all tried to help, but the general consensus was, "Have fun with it and figure it out as you go - kind of like trial and error". My Dad recommended several books that "map it all out for you and makes it as easy as can be", but still, I often found myself staring blankly into the dirt - numb with confusion. BUT, as the years went by, I realized every one of them had been right. It takes time, practice, patience, and creativity to know how to mix things together to create beauty in the garden.

The same holds true in the kitchen. People want step by step directions with precise measurements and exact ingredients to help guide them through a recipe, but if they just perked up and paid attention when they ate their food, they would find themselves becoming aware of how many different foods, spices, and flavors create magic together. Think back to the last fabulous meal you experienced at a restaurant. Remember all the different flavors they used to excite and please your palate? Well, YOU can reproduce that same tantalizing flavor in your own kitchen using the same ingredients and flavors. It might take a few tries to make it spectacular, but all the rough drafts are sure to be tasty too. Or not...

Today, we're going to create several pizzas with no rules - just the way I like it. I'm going to give you ingredients to consider and spices to try, but it's up to you to throw it all together using your own imagination and create your own personal style of pizza.

Ezekiel Flat Pizzas

First off, you can use any tortilla you want, but Ezekiel Tortillas are the healthiest and their flavor and texture are perfect for these pizzas. You can find these tortillas in the freezer health section of most of your regular grocery stores.

For the pizza down below, I chose Red Onion and Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms. I tossed them in my wok ( you can use a skillet ) with a little Olive Oil, Salt, Cracked Pepper, and a sprinkle of Garam Masala. While those were softening over the heat, I chose to cover the tortilla with thin slices of Havarti cheese. Then, I covered the cheese with the onions and mushrooms and sprinkled a dusting of Asiago cheese on top. I placed it in a 400 degree oven and waited a few minutes for the tortilla to crisp up and the cheese to melt. It was Deelish.

For this pizza, I chopped up a Yellow Quash, Green Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Red Onion. I tossed them around in a wok over medium heat, with some Olive Oil, Basil, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, and a dash of Chili Pepper. I had just a little shredded Chicken left in the fridge, so he sort of crashed the vegetarian party - oh well - gotta have some protein at every meal anyhow, and then laid this over some Muenster Cheese, I think. Before I tossed it in the oven, I decided to toss a few Spinach leaves on just for fun. It had marvelous flavor.

And for my last trick, pictured at the top, I decided to use the Smoked Chitpotle Peppers my Dad ordered from the health food co-op and shared with me. He uses them on his own homemade pizzas and they are fabulous! I chopped up the "Chittle-Pole" Peppers - as my Dad calls them - and threw them in a skillet with some Ground Beef, Red Onions, and Italian Seasonings. I decided to cover one half of the tortilla with Havarti Cheese - because I'm on a Harvati kick lately - and the other half with Sharp Cheddar, because it's so intense. Then I layed the Ground Beef and some Orange Peppers that I had lightly sauteed with Red Onions on top the cheese and popped it in the oven.

Ouch! This pizza was a little zippy with that Chittle-Pole pepper in there - he's a real firecracker of flavor!

I know, I know, you've got to run - gotta get to the store and buy yourself some Ekekial Tortillas and create your own Flavor-Filled Flat Pizzas.

Have Fun!

Coming Soon... Tips On Making The Perfect Pancake From The One and Only "Pancake Master"...Jen!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sweet Pumpkin Chocolate Chippers

1 c. butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 c. unbleached all-purpose white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

These cookies are divine! The pumpkin adds some much-needed vitamins and nutrients, as well as keeping these babies nice and moist.

Anywho...the cookies are wonderful, plain and simple. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of toasted peanuts and 1 cup of raisins, as well as reducing the chocolate chips to 1/2 cup. Oh, the horror!!! If you're going to use chocolate, for goodness sake, USE IT!!! I like the original version (with more chocolate, of course), but my hubby and daughter have a "thing" about nuts in their baked goods.

My sister has it too. Weirdos.

But hey, if your family will eat them with raisins and peanuts, GO FOR IT!!! Increase the nutritional value!! And then bring some for me, because I like them that way too.
Now let's get on with it, shall we?

Prepare thy oven! Get that baby heated to 375!

Now we'll start as all good cookie recipes start...with creaming the butter and sugar. When that looks nice and smooth, add the pumpkin, egg, vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. You can sift it if you have a sifter...I just use a fork. I'm simple like that.

Now gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir to form a soft batter and then add the chocolate chips ( I HIGHLY recommend the Ghiradelli chips!!). Now, take a moment to thank God for chocolate. And for Matthew McConnaughey. And hey, don't feel guilty if you just have to stick your finger in the batter for a taste. We all do's ok!

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, making sure to leave some room for the cookies to spread. Bake for 12-15 minutes. I find that these cookies take some practice to get right as far as the cooking time. Don't be afraid to leave them in until you see a little browning around the edges. Now hurry and get your glass of milk, because you're going to want it with these tasty little treats!

And here's a tip...I usually put a few back just for me in a special hiding place, because the cookie monsters have a way of eating them in 10 minutes flat. They don't last long!

Coming Soon... A Chicken Soup Like No Other, To Warm Your Hungry Belly!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pasta Filled Peppers With Bacon

I love recipes that require just a few simple steps, that can be done simultaneously, and comes together quickly, beautifully, and deliciously in a very short time. It makes me feel like a real wizard in the kitchen.

This side dish is a perfect partner for a wonderful steak, because it won’t upstage the steak with it’s flavor and it won’t take up too much room in the belly either.

I made this as part of a first time dinner with a handsome Italian man once and he said this dish was his favorite part of the meal. Of course, I found out later that he didn’t eat much red meat or desserts, so this fabulous dish may have had an unfair advantage over the perfectly grilled steak and velvety chocolate mousse I served with it. The man didn’t like chocolate for Pete's sake! Absurd! But don’t let that fact discredit his good taste when it comes to this recipe.

Step One: Cut the Peppers in half from top to bottom. Clean out their insides, so no little white seeds remain. Then turn them belly side down in a pan and brush olive oil on their outer skin. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven and roast until soft. ( about 15-20 minutes..)

While those are roasting….

Grab yourself a glass of wine. Wine in hand......

Step Two: Place a pan of water on the stove and wait for it to boil.

While Waiting….

Step Three: In a bowl, drop in the basil, Parmesan, and crumbled bacon. Okay, I’ve made the assumption here that your bacon is already cooked. When I buy bacon, I cook it all up, then keep the slices in the freezer and pull them as I need them. If you have to cook your bacon right now, it’s gonna mess with my plan. It might keep you from reaching wizard status – but do what you gotta do.

Step Four: The pasta goes into the boiling water.

Step Five: The peppers come out of the oven and each one takes its proper place on a plate – belly up. Drain pasta. Add pasta to the bowl with basil, Parmesan, and bacon and toss. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper for bonus flavor. You could also add a touch of olive oil here to keep things loose, if you want to.

Step Six: Drop a large spoonful of pasta into each of the peppers letting the angel hair flow wildly. Don’t try to contain it – let it be free.

Step Seven: Refill wine glass and....

Bon Appetite’

You can limit the amount of pasta that each pepper holds if you’re trying to avoid a carbo coma.

Jen uses traditional bacon and I prefer turkey bacon. If I can’t get to the health food store, I use the Oscar Meyer brand from the regular grocery store.

If you have a crazy eye for detail and noticed that in the picture, I used spaghetti instead of angel hair pasta, I just want to clarify that I don’t have a problem following direction, I just chose to go a different way that day because I could – as can you!

Coming Soon... Pumpkin and Chocolate as Friends.....

Pasta Filled Peppers With Bacon

2 Red or Yellow Peppers
Olive Oil
6 ounces Angel Hair Pasta
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
One Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped or One Tsp dried
3 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese, grated

1. Cut the peppers in half from top to bottom and deseed.
2.Brush with olive oil and lay on baking sheet, skin up. Place in pre-heated oven at 375 degrees until the peppers soften and the skins begin to blister and char a little. Approx. 15 minutes.
3. Cook pasta just until tender.
4. Drain pasta thoroughly, stir in bacon, parmesan, basil, salt, and pepper.
5. The peppers should now be roasted to perfection.
6. Pile spoonful of pasta mixture into each pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Blissful Chocolate Soup

Okay, so we really should be posting more recipes with vegetables and grains in them, but we're just getting this party started, so we're bringing out all the Yum Stuff to keep the party hopping! There will be plenty of days for delicious, hard-core healthy meals, but on this cold February day, we know you're all dreaming of warm homemade chocolate pudding.

And, we could make some good old fashioned chocolate pudding, but do you know what’s better than chocolate pudding? Chocolate Soup! Baby, it’s cold outside and sipping on some silky, warm, chocolate soup is better than a simple bowl of pudding any day. If you find yourself craving this soup – and you will – you don’t have to wait long to get it, because this soup can be made in a flash - ( 8-1/2 minutes if you're speedy... )


2 Cups Whole Milk
1/4 Cup and 3 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract

While 1 -1/2 cups of milk is slowly warming on the stove, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk with the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt just until they become well acquainted. When teeny tiny bubbles appear in the warmed milk, pour the cocoa mixture into the warmed milk, grab your whisk again and let the mingling begin. It won’t be long before the magic happens and your chocolate party thickens up a bit and the fun bubbles return. Once the bubbles start popping like fireworks, you can remove it from the heat. Now for the fun finale… whisk in the true party-starters -vanilla and almond extract- and can almost taste it, can’t you?

Shazam! You’ve Got Chocolate Soup!

Pour the soup into a beautiful bowl, grab a spoon, have a seat on the couch, wrap yourself in a cozy blanket, and slurp up some of that chocolately goodness!

Make some NOW…You know you want to….

Go! Go! Go!

The great advantage of chocolate soup over any other type of soup is that it also tastes great cold.

If you are not convinced that soup trumps pudding, then simply add one more tablespoon of cornstarch, and voila' – you have pudding.

If you’re a peanut butter fanatic, adding one tablespoon of peanut butter at the end with the vanilla and almond extract makes for a sinfully delicious blend of chocolate and peanut butter. The question is...can you handle it?

Coming Soon.... The Fastest and Easiest Pasta Stuffed Peppers You'll Ever Make...and Eat...and Love!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Freshly Whipped Cream Vs. Cool Whip

Both of us girls grew up on Cool Whip and Dream Whip and loved it - who didn't? In fact, it's only been a few short years that we actually made the switch to fresh whipped cream. With that said, once the switch did happen, it was permanent. Besides the obvious superiority in taste, the health benefits of cream over chemicals makes for an easy choice. Today, we're hoping to convince you to make the better choice and choose a real food over a chemically laden product.

Let’s start by painting a few pictures in your head, shall we?

Picture Number One: You, your brain cells and whipped cream.
Your brain cells bathe in fat – it’s a fact. After body fat, brain cell membranes are the next richest storage areas for fat. The most metabolically active parts of the brain are loaded with the Omega-3 fat (DHA).
Every time you pour whipping cream into a mixing bowl, imagine all your brain cells – the ones that help you do math in your head, remember all your children's names and where you put your keys - imagine them swimming, floating, and frolicking in the sea of fresh cream in your head. They are so happy and nourished in their world of Omega-3 rich Fatty Acids.

Picture Number Two: You, your entire body and Cool Whip
Imagine taking in partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated coconut oil, sodium casenate (a milk derivative), artificial flavor, and a long list of polymoly-bad stuff. Imagine your whole body drowning in that sea of gunk and garbage that we call hydrogenated and overly processed “food”. Visualize your body calling out for help as it chokes on the sludge. Oh, your poor body – how it struggles to find the energy to get you through your day.

Little dramatic, eh? Yep - that's us! We just hope you consider choosing the tremendous flavor of freshly whipped cream over the chemically based Cool Whip in the future. We hope you never walk to the freezer section, open the door, and grab a tub of Cool Whip without hearing a teeny, tiny, high pitched voice begging you to have mercy on your fabulous functioning body.

If you haven't already, just try whipping your own cream one day and see how easy it is to "whip up" and how naturally good it tastes. Do your kids a favor and turn them into whipping cream snobs, by helping them acquire a taste for the real deal. Your family will appreciate the change. I think Barry, (Jen's hubby) who loves whipped cream, could testify to that!

And if you don't know how, just place a stainless steel bowl and whisk in the freezer to chill. When chilled, pour a cup of cream in the bowl and whisk until the cream starts to thicken. Add a small amount of sugar and a tablespoon of vanilla. Beat until whipped to your liking. More tips....

Your body thanks you!

Coming Tomorrow…. A Lemon Lovers Ultimate Dream Dessert

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And The Winner Is...

So we had our first Food Tasting Party on Sunday and the spotlight was on Chocolate Ice Cream. Eight different brands were selected to taste, and everybody was excited to see if there would be much of a difference between them. I know Jen and I were definitely curious as to whether we would choose our normal favorites when ‘blindfolded’. Jen came to the party without eating lunch, so she was definitely ready to taste some ice creams!

There were many twists and turns when it came to the likes and dislikes. There were one or two that everybody agreed were very good and there were one or two that everybody agreed were simply awful. Other than that, opinions varied.

Even though nobody could agree on a decisive winner – which is great, because how boring would that be – Turkey Hill was the only brand to make it into everyone’s Top Three favorites. I think that’s pretty significant, considering all the differing opinions.

For the majority of us, Jeni’s Ice Cream made it into the Top Three favorites and was described as rich, intense, and fudge-like! It was a little too rich for Karen’s blood, but Carrie was all over it. It was agreed that you wouldn’t have to eat much of it to satisfy a craving for chocolate. This unique Cocoa Gelato definitely stood out as one of a kind.

Graeters ( Jen and I’s longtime love) made it into the Top Three also – Woo-Hoo! We were both just a teeny tiny bit nervous to sit down for a blind taste test – just a little nervous that our taste buds might betray us – how silly! Graeters is Number ONE for a reason. Neither Jen nor I typically order plain chocolate ice cream when at Graeters, so this was new territory for us. We were both relieved to know that all of our over-the-top love and respect for Graeters has been warranted over the years! And even though Graeters did not officially take first prize in this contest, this is Jen and mine’s blog, and we have declared it the winner in our hearts, so…...hence the picture of Graeters as the winner!

And I am proud to announce that every single one of us girls sniffed out the Kroger “Crap”, as we called it, and gave it two thumbs and eight fingers down! This was the only brand of low quality ‘ice cream’ that was allowed into the contest - simply for entertainment purposes. When this brand was revealed to us in the end, we all patted each other on the back for knowing what sugar syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, yellow #5 and #6 taste like – it tastes like yuck! Taste, texture, and quality were all so substandard that a few of the girls washed it down the sink – refusing to waste the calories on it. Jen and I couldn’t do it. I know…….very sad…but we have this addiction...

Nobody was shy when it came to sharing their thoughts and opinions about the different brands – in fact, Carrie’s first comment on Ice Cream Number Six was, “It tastes like dog food!” Too bad Number Six was my very own homemade chocolate ice cream. My heart did not completely break in two, only because when I ran all the ice creams by my nieces and nephew the night before, they had unknowingly given mine the two thumbs down also, so my heart was already half-way broken. If truth be told, I didn’t trust the kid’s taste buds when they rejected my homemade brew, because I really liked my homemade stuff, but when I ate it alongside the other seven, I had to agree with them - it did not taste right. I don’t know if I would have gone with ‘dog food’ ...CARRIE – the first member to officially be thrown out of the group - but truthfully, nobody liked it. (just kidding Carrie, you’re still in). Boy, did all the girls feel bad when they found out it was my homemade ice cream. Yeah! They felt so bad, they laughed until they cried – as did I. I guess I’m going to have to tweak something….

Interesting to note: The first ice cream we tasted was liked by everyone. By the time we got to Ice Cream Number Three, Karen commented that she wasn’t sure that anything could compare to Ice Cream Number One. By the time we got to Number Five, we all started to wondered if the first one tasted so good simply because it was our first taste of chocolate for the day. Soooooo, to test that theory, we re-tasted Ice Cream Number One at the very end and we all agreed it definitely tasted different than before. Karen, however, stood by this brand and named it her personal favorite. Patty and Carrie kept it in their top three favorites, but Jen and I immediately took it out of ribbon contention. The brand? Aldens Organic.

Surprisingly, Breyers did not make the top anything. Neither did Patty’s normal choice for ice cream, Purely Decadent. It’s made with coconut milk, so it’s dairy free. Everybody agreed it was good overall, but when competing alongside dairy ice creams, it just couldn’t hold up. However, if you were looking for dairy free/soy free ice cream, it's a great choice. Patty also noted that Purely Decadent’s other flavors were superior to the chocolate, so if your body has some sort of issue with milk, definitely check it out!

We had lots of fun and look forward to the next party! The foods we discussed exploring more are breads, cheeses, apples, pears, peanut butters, potatoes, and squash. We may have started with ice cream, but our real objective here is to explore good, healthy foods and learn to appreciate all the different flavors that we can experience with each particular food.

Certainly let us know if you have any ideas of what foods you would like to know about, or better yet, start your own Food Tasting Club!

Coming Soon... Roasted Veggie Quesadillas That Will Make Your Mouth Water!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Rockin' Orzo

3 Tablespoons Butter
1-1/2 Cups Orzo Pasta
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
6 Tablespoons Freshly Chopped Basil OR
1-1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste

So we’re making dinner for some friends one night and we needed a simple side pasta that wouldn’t upstage the main entree. When we ran across this gem in the foolproof Best of Bridge Cookbook our favorite Canadian friend Sarah gave Jen for Christmas last year, we thought it screamed simple and easy. We were right.

To say that the making of this dish is simple is an understatement because a drunk little monkey couldn’t screw this one up – we promise. But, what’s more fabulous than the simplicity of this “simple” side dish is that the flavor rocks! What we heard most often at the dinner table that night was “this orzo is like crack – I just can’t stop eating it!” Isn’t that what every cook longs to hear from the ones they cook for?

So, to start this fabulous recipe, you’re going to melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Then add the rice impostor – otherwise known as orzo – to the butter and saute’ two or three minutes until slightly browned. We recommend keeping a close eye on these little orzos as they brown and keep them moving so their tan doesn’t turn into a burn.

Now, add the broth for the orzo to bathe in and bring it to a boil. Then, reduce the heat a little, cover, and simmer until the orzo is tender and has drank up all the broth. (15-20 minutes)

When the orzo is sufficiently drunk and no chicken broth is left, you'll know the party has officially started! Now, the two things that really make this pasta rock is the Parmesan and basil, so waste no time – add them to the skillet with a little salt and pepper, stir it all in together, and then do a quick taste test.

How’s that for a simple side dish that rocks?!

The chicken broth is the big star here - a lot of the flavor hinges on him. We have used boullion cubes and we have used organic free range chicken broth and have noticed only slight changes in the flavor.

With that said, when parmesan cheese was not available, asiago or a blend of parmesan, asiago, and romano have been used, and a slight flavor change was noted once again.

Basically, you can make this recipe your own!

Coming Soon...The results of the Chocolate Ice Cream Taste Testing Party!


Rockin' Orzo

3 Tablespoons Butter
1-1/2 Cups Orzo
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
6 Tbls Chopped Basil or 1-1/2 Tsp Dried
Salt and Pepper to taste

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add orzo and saute two minutes until slightly brown. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed (15-20 minutes). Mix in Parmesan and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stellar Strawberry Trifle

Cream Cheese Layer
16 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whipped cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Strawberry Layer
5 cups quartered strawberries
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup whipped cream

Graham crackers ( 1 pkg)

Have you ever eaten anything that was velvety and tangy and refreshing, and completely divine all at the same time? Yes? No? Well, hold onto your shorts people, because you’re in for a marvelous treat. This trifle is so easy to make that it’s like throwing paint on a canvas with reckless abandon and still producing a masterpiece for all to enjoy. So, get out your mixing bowls and spoons, because you’re about to create your own masterpiece of edible art.

First, get that mixing bowl in the freezer so it’s all good and chilled when we want to whip the fresh cream. You will need about a cup and a half of whipping cream to produce the near three cups of whipped cream necessary to fluff up this trifle.

Now, we like to start by mixing the ruby red strawberries with the sugar and balsamic vinegar, because these three flavors need time to mix and mingle if they’re going to create that strawberry zing that makes this trifle the kind of art you want to eat…..everyday. In our experience, the very best zing is created when you introduce the three flavors the night before and let them “mingle” allllll night long, but it's certainly not necessary. A simple hour or two will do.

Then, pull the chilly mixing bowl from the freezer, pour the cup of whipping cream in, and whip that cream until it’s nice and whipped. Add some vanilla and sugar to taste – you know how good whipped cream should taste – you be the judge - we trust you ( maybe 1/4 cup ). Set this aside for just a moment as we move on to one of the best food combos ever!

You’re going to beat the cream cheese with the sugar and the vanilla. Now, use your finger and swipe a taste of that simple perfection. We know what you’re thinking, “How could it get better than this?“ Read on and we'll tell you. Just fold in 2 cups of the whipped cream until you longer see whipped cream and simple perfection, but a brand new flavor of deliciousness. Again, take a swipe of the fluffy goodness and notice how happy you feel inside.

Now, for the artistic part of the program, set the majestic looking trifle dish before you. Start laying pieces of graham crackers on the bottom of the bowl – no order or neatness required. Then with a large spoon, drop a third of the cream cheese mixture over the crackers and smooth it all out. Follow this with a third of the strawberries, allowing the juices to run off the filling and onto the crackers. Lay two more layers of each in the same order. Finish with a dollop of whipped cream and a few more strawberries.

We highly recommend letting this sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. When you do serve this masterpiece, prepare yourself for the oohs and ahhs.....they're inevitable!

We must thank our dearest Canadian friend, Sarah for introducing this fabulous recipe to us! "We love you for it!"

Any graham cracker will do with this recipe - whether from the regular grocery store or a health food store.

For those of you who prefer using Cool Whip or Dream Whip to whipping your own cream, we say, "May the force be with you", but we cannot guarantee the flavor or fluff will be as outstanding as we can promise you with the fresh whipped cream.

If you do not own a trifle dish and do not wish to purchase one, a pretty glass dish will work just fine.

If it's the whole neighborhood you're feeding and you want everyone to share in the fun, just increase all the ingredients and really stack the layers. There are no rules here, because it's really hard to go wrong if you're tasting everything along the way. We assume you ARE tasting everything along the way.....

If the party's just for two this Valentine's Day – *kiss*kiss* - you can just make up single serving dishes as pictured below with crumpled graham crackers, one dollop of filling, and a generous layer of strawberries.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Stellar Strawberry Trifle

Cream Cheese Layer
16 Ounce Cream Cheese
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Whipped Cream
2 Teaspoons Vanilla

Strawberry Layer
5 Cups Strawberries
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
4 Teaspoons Sugar

One Cup Whipped Cream

Graham Crackers ( 1 pkg )

Mix strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar and let sit until flavors intertwine. In separate bowl, beat cream cheese with sugar and vanilla. Fold in Whipped cream.

In trifle bowl, place a layer of graham crackers. Then layer 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture. Then 1/3 of the strawberry mixture. Make three layers. Top with whipped cream and then a few strawberries. Let sit at least two hours for the juices to soften the crackers. Then...dig in!