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  1. Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Thanksgiving Prep: Corn Souffle Recipe…and My Thanksgiving Freezer Plans

    Each year I feel like a food blog failure because I don’t write any Thanksgiving posts until the week of Thanksgiving, when most of you have already turned off your computers to enjoy time with family and friends. And then I don’t even take photos of our Thanksgiving feast because, by the time I’m done cooking, I just want to eat!

    This year, in an effort to get myself more organized and also provide you with some actual helpful ideas BEFORE the big day arrives, I’m going to put together a number of the dishes ahead of time and stick them in the freezer. My photos still won’t be of the final product, but at least you’ll get to see what the food looks like at some stage of the preparation!

    Today I threw together the corn souffle. It’s so easy and fast. And decadent. It’s one of our friends’ family’s traditions (thanks, Jen and Mike!) that we happily adopted. Warning: this recipe contains lots of butter and sour cream and cheese. Which, in my book, is less of a warning and more of a signal of good things to come. 😉

    Before we get to the recipe, side note: I’m putting the food I prepare this week into whatever dish the food will be baked in, wrapping the dish in plastic wrap and then putting the dish’s lid on top. I’ll take it all out of the freezer about 24 hours before cooking time and keep it in the fridge to thaw out. I will then bake as per recipe instructions on Thanksgiving. I’ve never done this before. I’m just assuming it will work!

    Ha ha! I just copied and pasted the recipe into this post and realized I put the cheese on too soon! But, it’s already wrapped and in the freezer…soooo…I’ll just take the cheese off before I bake it and keep it to the side until it’s time to actually add the cheese. So, don’t do what I did if you try to do what I do. 😉

    Thanksgiving Prep: Corn Souffle Recipe...and My Thanksgiving Freezer Plans
    From Marie Carroll, my friend Jen’s mother-in-law
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Thanksgiving
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1 can cream corn (16 oz)
    • 1 can whole corn (16 oz), drained
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • ? cup melted butter (I don’t know the amount, I usually do ⅓ C)
    • 1 box Jiffy corn bread mix
    • 4 ounce grated swiss cheese (as you can see from my photo above, I usually just buy a few slices so I don’t have leftover swiss cheese)
    1. Combine all ingredients except the cheese. Bake 35 mins uncovered 350F – do not overbake – should be moist.
    2. Top with swiss and broil until cheese is golden brown.


  2. ‘Books I’m Reading’ with Martha Stewart

    Just wanted to let you know about something fun that I’m participating in that launched today. Martha Stewart has started a Books I’m Reading section on her blog. Three of the bloggers in her Martha’s Circle network will be reading along and writing about the books with her…and I get to be one of the bloggers, along with Black Eiffel and Oh Happy Day. I LOVE reading, so this is right up my alley. (Click here for the press release if you would like to read more details, and click here for Sony’s special Martha “Books I’m Reading” page.) Sony sent each of us a lovely Sony Reader Pocket Edition. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a reader, any reader, for ages. I’m actually really liking it. The reader is so much easier to hold and read in bed than a book! {Insert choirs of angels singing from on high.}

    The first book is Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places by Bill Streever. As I awaited to hear which book Martha picked first, I must admit a book like this was the furthest thing from my mind. But after reading her first blog post today, it all makes sense now! I’m about 50 pages into the book and will wait to share my thoughts until I’ve completed it. I will say this…what were all those Arctic and Antarctic explorers in the 1800s thinking?!?!

    Off to the kitchen. I’m going to start cooking up some Thanksgiving food and will {hopefully} have a post and recipe for you later today!

  3. Monday, November 15, 2010

    Share Your Best “Do More with Less” Thanksgiving Tip

    This giveaway is now closed. But be sure to read through the comments for lots of great “Do More with Less” tips – both Thanksgiving-related and not!

    We’re starting off the Thanksgiving posts a little unconventionally this year. First off, it involves a phone giveaway (yes, I said phone). Second, I’m making you do the work. 😉 But I promise it will be fun!

    You may have noticed a few ads running on my site for the new Windows Phone 7. In conjunction with that ad campaign, today they’re offering a giveaway on my site (and a bunch of other sites, too!). Just comment on this post and you’re entered to win a brand spankin’ new Windows Phone 7. I was supposed to have one already so I could tell you how fun and cool it is…alas, there was a shipping issue. But it looks cool and I’ll be sure to fill you in when the phone arrives!

    The campaign theme is “Do More with Less.” So I decided that we should share our best “do more with less” tips for throwing a Thanksgiving feast! And I’ll kick us off right now.

    Jane’s Thanksgiving Tip: My favorite tip for doing more with less at Thanksgiving is post-it notes. Just a few post-it notes (that’s the less part) ensures I can put together the biggest feast of the year (that’s the more part). The day before Thanksgiving, I’ll sit down with some post-its and schedule out the day. I assign a time for each thing I need to do that day, write the steps out in chronological order on as many post-it notes as it takes, then stick them to the wall above my stove. It’s a LIFESAVER. I don’t have to think about when something goes in or out of the oven, generally all the food ends up being done at the same time, and I can SEE the schedule easily by just looking up at the wall. I love it!

    Your turn! Please post your best “more with less” tips for Thanksgiving! (Even if you don’t want the phone…I want your tips, I need your tips…besides, it’s a $500 phone, you want it!) If you do not have a tip, feel free to comment anyway to enter the contest! (See the official rules here, but basically say nice things and make sure the comment is at least 25 characters long.) You have until Midnight PT on November 29 to leave your comment and you can enter once per day…as long as it’s a new tip or comment! One winner will be selected randomly at the close of the contest. Winning address must be in the U.S.

    Can’t wait to read your comments!

    This giveaway is brought to you by the new Windows Phone 7. Less tech tired. More tech trendy: Learn about Windows Phone online and see it in person at local T-Mobile stores today.

  4. Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Week 199 Menu

    This week we are going to talk Thanksgiving! That’s right, I’m actually thinking about it more than a week in advance! There are several recipes that I make each year that I’ve never blogged about or photographed, so my goal this week is to make a few of those recipes ahead of time to photograph for you and then stick in the freezer for the big day!

    The Italian sausage explosion last week was hilarious! Six of us had some sort of Italian sausage something on our menus…all before we saw each other’s menus. I wonder what this week’s magic, random ingredient will be…

    – Leftovers – we’ve got a bunch we need to use up!

    – Eating out Indian food with our friends

    Cream of Mushroom Soup (Cate wants me to type in right now, “Cate likes mushrooms, so she will like this!” Cute girl.)

    Stuffed Shells
    – Salad and bread

    – Paninis of some sort

    – Leftovers

    Pumpkin Pancakes

    As always, I read through all your menus for inspiration – they are such a great help! Now, let’s see what you’ve got planned for this week!

  5. Friday, November 12, 2010

    Cooking with Kids…and a Recipe for Cream Cheese Fudge

    Each week Cate, my kindergartener, gets to choose a book at the school library. This week she picked a cookbook, which I thought was really sweet. We sat down, picked out a recipe (a very tasty fudge recipe that I’ll share below), gathered our ingredients and got to work! After a few moments of me getting frustrated because Cate wouldn’t listen, we finally settled into a groove and had fun. And I had her cut the fudge into pieces and display them on a plate. She really had fun and was very proud of her hard work!

    I have to confess something. Cooking with kids is not the easiest thing in the world for me. I try to be patient, and we usually settle into a groove…but incorporating my children into my cooking just doesn’t come naturally to me. But I want it to! I think it’s important for children to have positive experiences in the kitchen and to develop cooking skills that will serve them their entire lives. Plus, it’s supposed to be fun! SOOOO….

    Does anyone have any tips for cooking with kids? I want to hear them! I’m sure some of you out there do a great job cooking with kids, while others may be more like me and struggle with it. For those of you who do have it figured out, I’m hoping some of your magic can rub off on the rest of us. Please share your tips!

    Oh, and before I forget, the fudge recipe. YUM.

    Cooking with Kids...and a Recipe for Cream Cheese Fudge
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • ½ cup full-fat cream cheese
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 level tablespoon cocoa powder
    • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chipps
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 8-inch square baking pan and wax paper
    1. Lay the cake pan on a sheet of wax paper and draw around it. Then cut out the square just inside the line.
    2. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan (or you can use cooking oil). Press the paper into the bottom of the pan then butter the top of the paper.
    3. Put softened cream cheese into a bowl. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa through a sieve into the bowl. Mix everything well (we used our beaters).
    4. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture.
    5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the cream cheese mixture and stir until well mixed and creamy. Spread in the pan and smooth the top with a spoon. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until the fudge is firm.
    6. Loosen the edges of the fudge then turn it out onto a cutting board and remove the wax paper.
    7. Cut the fudge into 36 squares. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate 2 more hours. EAT!

  6. Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Let’s talk beets, shall we?

    I will admit, there was a time in my life when beets made me, well, gag. And if I’m going to be brutally honest, that time was my entire life! That is until this past September, when I had the beet salad at Cafe Borrone (pictured). The beets were so light flavored, sweet and wonderful. And combined with creamy, heavenly goat cheese? Yum! And then, when I cooked my One-Dish Dinners meal, a similar beet salad was part of the menu I selected. I decided to give beets a chance once again and ended up happily eating them up!

    Since I had avoided beets like the plague, I had never prepared them before. I was happy to discover that they are super easy to make. Just cut off the greens, wrap in foil, place on a pan and roast in a 400-degree oven for 40-60 minutes. Once they’re cooked, the skins fall of very easily. Mine had a bit of a heavier flavor than the beets at Cafe Borrone, but they were still good. And Nate was in heaven because, you see, he’s always been a fan of beets. How open-minded of him.

    I will say this. If you cut them on a wood cutting board, make sure you use a board that you don’t care gets stained. I purposely chose this old yucky cutting board for the job.

    My sister-in-law Cora doesn’t believe me and insists that beets taste like dirt. And, yeah, two months ago I would have joined along in her beet taunting. But no more. I refuse to beat up on beets any longer! You’re on your own, Cora. Okay, who am I kidding? Cora is probably not alone. I think there are actually plenty of people who will join in to declare that beets taste like dirt. 😉

    For those of you who DO like beets, though, please feel free to share any recipes or tips! I’m ready to do a bit more experimenting with beets!

  7. Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers have been Mini-Me’d

    Just a quick simple post today, a follow-up on a favorite recipe.

    I really do love the vegetarian chickpea burger recipe that I shared with you last April. It’s become a staple around here. My only beef (ha ha!) with the recipe is that often when I go to flip the burgers, they fall apart too easily. So, I have to be super careful and gentle…and often still mess them up!

    I found the perfect solution! Chickpea Burger Sliders! I mini-me’d the burgers and used mini hamburger buns. They were super duper easy to flip and tasted just as delicious. I had to share that quick tip because I’m downright delighted by the discovery.

    I found mini hamburger buns at Trader Joe’s, but given the recent popularity of “sliders,” I’m sure you can find them in other stores as well.

    One more thing! I topped these particular burgers with cheddar cheese, sprouts and cucumbers, and a little mayo and mustard. Scrumptious, I say!

    Click here for the recipe!

  8. Monday, November 8, 2010

    “The Food Matters Cookbook” Giveaway Winners

    First off, LOVED all your comments for the Mark Bittman giveaway. I wanted to respond to so many of them but just ran out of time. So, just want to say how great I thought they all were!

    Second, I had one reader email me with a concern. Basically, she feels a lot of the food discourse lately attacks hardworking farmers and ranchers. We had a good, constructive and positive email exchange. I told her that for me this isn’t about meat vs. no meat or conventional vs. organic. It’s much more complicated than that. In fact, after watching Food Inc., I was furious on behalf of the farmers…the system (and the big companies controlling it) have so much control over these farmers, it’s infuriating.

    Mark quoted some other famous person at the event in San Francisco saying, “Organic junk food is still junk food.” I loved that! For me it’s all a message of moderation. It’s not that eating meat is bad. It’s just that the demand for meat per capita has increased significantly over the last generation. It is simply not  sustainable environmentally. The reader who emailed mentioned that they purchase a whole beef each year from a local, conventional cattle farmer. I think that’s wonderful! Oftentimes local will have more of an impact than organic. ANYWAY…I’m blabbering and could go on all day. Bottom line – processed food takes a toll on the environment and our bodies, and we’re demanding more meat than we need. I haven’t cut meat completely, but I am much more thoughtful about how much we eat, how it is produced and/or where it comes from. Also, I really think a lot about packaging nowadays. One small example, I try to buy mushrooms in bulk rather than in a container with plastic wrap.

    I’m going to stop now. We could talk for days on the topic, and there are facts and opinions on both sides. For me it boils down to moderation and thoughtfulness. And cooking! The clearest message from Mark Bittman and Ruth Reichl the other night was people need to cook and not be afraid to cook. Amen to that!

    I think it’s time to announce the two lucky winners of “The Food Matters Cookbook” giveaway!

    Jessica Lee, who said, “Oh wow! I want this book. I love cooking, and have come to realize that food from a box is horrible for you! I do all that I can to eat from scratch and to have a book help me along the way would be great.”


    Kaitlin, who said, “Oh, I would probably geek out too if I were to talk to Mark Bittman. Or Ruth Reichl. Or several other folks in the food writing industry. As for more sustainable eating”¦it’s incredibly frustrating, because my mother “knows” best. And so, when she tells me that it isn’t worth buying garlic from the farmer’s market or having our eggs delivered by someone we know, it is frustrating. But then, she came for Thanksgiving (in Canada”¦we’ve had ours already!), along with my father and my in-laws (all six of them), and I cooked. And I cooked some more. I made dishes from local brussel sprouts and potatoes, and made the pumpkin filling for the pumpkin cheesecake from scratch (ie. from a real pumpkin, not a can). And it was so fulfilling, the process. But, it was mostly fulfilling when I mentioned this all to my mother and she said it had been the most delicious Thanksgiving meal she had eaten and perhaps maybe eating with a conscience wasn’t such a bad thing. Perhaps this isn’t so much about how I came to eat more sustainably, but how I’ve helped her to do the same?”

    Congratulations, ladies! And thanks to everyone else for entering! 🙂

  9. Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Week 198 Menu

    Today’s photo is a teaser. I’m not telling you what’s under those sesame buns. At least for now. I will. Don’t worry. But today I just want to share this pretty picture.

    What the? I totally followed my menu plan last week! Which means I can’t steal even one idea from myself. Which means this week I have to come up with a completely original menu. Which means I might have to give up on this ‘being responsible’ nonsense. It’s way too much work. 😉

    – Sweet Italian sausages with sauteed peppers, onions and tomatoes, on hoagie rolls
    – Fresh fruit or smoothies

    – Nate’s Omelettes
    – Spinach salad with pears

    Chicken Tortilla Soup

    – Leftovers

    – Baked potatoes and salad

    – Eat out

    – Pumpkin Pancakes

    As usual, having all of your menus to browse was a HUGE inspiration. So, please keep ’em coming! Share your menu for the week!

  10. Friday, November 5, 2010

    Report Back on Apples & Tomatoes…and My Red {Not So} Delicious Apple Experiment

    Two weeks ago I asked for your best recipes for preserving apples and tomatoes. And you delivered – big time! In fact, recipes are still coming in and I look forward to having that post as a resource for years to come! (If you haven’t shared yet and want to, please click here and comment!)

    I figured I should report back and let you know what I actually ended up making. I kept it kind of simple.

    • Applesauce
    • Apple Crisp (three, to be exact)
    • Tomato sauce (based loosely on this Simple Bites recipe so I could get an idea for relative quantities…I mostly just did what I normally do when I make sauce with canned tomatoes…all of your tomato sauce comments gave me faith in myself!)
    • Roasted tomatoes

    Everything is delicious and I’m excited to have all these goodies stocked away in our freezer. Actually, we haven’t eaten the cobbler yet, but I’m thinking we can’t go wrong with that one!

    A few notes on my experience. First, WOW…it takes a long time to prep the apples and tomatoes! Second, the tomato sauce is SO good and tastes SO fresh, can’t wait to pull that out of the freezer in the middle of the winter. Third, it was fun making everything, but definitely took more time than I expected. But the house sure did smell good during all that time! Fourth, boy am I glad we bought a chest freezer.

    While we’re talking apples, a word on Red Delicious. It’s official. I hate ’em. I’ve always had a thing against red delicious apples. I recently saw local, organic, tiny, adorable red delicious apples at the market. I thought to myself, “Maybe I haven’t given red delicious a fair shake. Maybe if I eat a nice, fresh version, it will actually taste good.” Nope. Tasted just as bad as I figured it would. Too bad because they look so good!

    My friend Anna convinced me that they do have good flavor and I agree they probably make a nice juice…but as far as eating them straight up. BLECH. That is the result of my red {not so} delicious apple experiment. You can try to convince me otherwise, but I doubt I will be convinced!