February Foodie Penpals

I took a little break from FPP because, well, we had Hurricane Sandy, and in hindsight it was a miracle that I even scheduled the post (since the Hurricane came a day before posting day), but I did and am glad because my penpal that month was awesome.  This month?  I had an amazing penpal too!  I had sweet Sarah from Creating a Great Today and an Even Better Tomorrow and not only did she give me great things to try, they were all completely new to me!

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I had heard about Love Grown Oats but never tried for myself, so I was pretty happy to try it.  Delish.  I love granola but not that loaded with HFCS garbage that they try to pass off as “healthy.”  Don’t get me started.  Anyway, Love Grown is a horse of a different color: tons of flavor and crunchy bits, perfect for snacking, and NOT loaded with sugar.  I am a huge fan.  She also included some Shakeology mixes to use in smoothies.   They were loaded with tons of nutrients and protein, had no sugar and I definitely felt a boost in energy after drinking it in my green smoothie!  Another win!  PB2 was something I had never heard of: it is powdered peanutbutter, so it has a ton of the protein with none of the fat.  This has been awesome in smoothies as well!  An additional goodie was the Bragg’s Vinaigrette, which I love their products and this is no different.  I usually make vinaigrettes but it is really nice to have something that is quick to grab.   Finally, Sarah included some herbal teas, which are great in the afternoon when I am trying to avoid coffee.  All in all, awesome stuff! Thanks Sarah!

The Lean Green Bean

If you are interested in joining us, please check out more information and sign up at Lindsay’s blog, the Lean Green Bean.  It’s a great way to meet new people, learn about new foods and get yummy mail!  Happy Thursday!

Mini Spicy Chocolate Cheesecake Bites / 2013 Oscar Night Menu

Mini Spicy Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Since I have been married and living in a cold weather climate, my husband and I enjoy going to see the Oscar movie picks (or what appears to be).  We rarely go any other time during the year but that cold part of early January finds us sneaking off to the movies every chance we can get.  This year was no exception.  Of the movies we went to see, I have created a silly little menu for the Oscar viewing tonight.  If all else fails, make this salted dark chocolate popcorn and curl up to watch movie stars who haven’t eaten in a month.  Our short list of Oscar films:

  • Argo (an Old Fashioned, since the stress of the situation drove the hostages to drinking much brown liquor)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (a Philly cheesesteak in honor of the City of Brotherly Love: Paleo version or regular version [however cheese whiz is really disgusting to me])
  • Lincoln (in researching for last weeks President’s Day post, I read that Abe Lincoln was not a big eater but liked apples and bacon, so we shall have Roasted Brussels Spouts with Apples and Bacon).
  • Les Miserable (bread.  duh.  I made Her New Roots’ Life Changing Bread in anticipation! Yummy!)
  • Zero Dark Thirty (Mini Terrorist Cheesecakes: because they are evil and must be destroyed)  Recipe at the bottom.

Overall, I think Argo should receive the Best Picture Award.  The story is gripping and tight.  At no point in the film did I wonder how long it had been running or when it would be over.   The viewer is right there with the characters, wondering and praying that they will make it out alive!

Les Mis, had to fulfill a huge legandary story and fell just slightly short in some areas.  While an epic film, was definitely too long (they added a song?!).  The gritty, dark camera work and the sweeping camera shots of the French countryside and the opening scenes set the stage very well.  I loved Eddie Redmayne’s voice and Hugh Jackman had a stunning performance. Kudos to Anne Hathaway for showing us that she is crazy for her art, I wish I hadn’t seen her previewed part before the movie, since it is such a moving piece.  Overall, Bravo! Anne.  Out of the nominations for Best Supporting Actress, she deserves it.  However, Russell Crowe was on the lacking side, contributing to the overall disconnected film.

I saw Lincoln on Thanksgiving day so it has been a while since I saw the movie but it was fantastic.  Daniel Day Lewis does embody the president and the entire ensemble gave stellar performances.  It’s funny because with this movie and Argo, we know what will happen, yet the story is moving and gripping.  Sally Field is good but isn’t that to be expected?  She plays a lot of loopy, eccentric characters.  It will be interesting to see Daniel Day Lewis and Hugh Jackman go head to head tonight.

Silver Linings Playbook was such a joy and a surprise to see.  After I learned that David O. Russell was directing it and saw previews, I knew that I wanted to see it.  Speaking of excellent ensembles: they give Lincoln a run for its money.  For me, this was a close second to Argo.  It’s a lovely story, flawed characters with very imperfect lives, yet you still feel transported into their world.  And Bradley Cooper isn’t even that cute in it.

I was so on the fence about going to see Zero Dark Thirty, but we bit the bullet on MLK Day with every other couple in Hoboken.  I didn’t look at the screen during the famed water torture scene and other than that, nothing was too gruesome for my thin skin.  Jessica Chastain is an actor from out of this world.  The story is complicated and has a ton of detail, some of which was over my head.  I enjoyed it for what is represents and I am glad the movie was made.  It’s not the type of movie you are going to curl up to watch on a lazy Sunday but it is an important film and an important story about a great moment in history.  Thank you, Kathryn Bigelow.

Print Recipe

Spicy Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Ingredients

  • 7 gingersnaps
  • 5 oreos
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 oz melted chocolate
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/8 tsp, heaping chili powder
  • 2/3 c chocolate chips
  • 1/3 c whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line 8 cupcake tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, grind Oreo cookies and gingersnaps to crumbs. Pour in melted butter and blitz again until well mixed. Spoon about a tablespoon of cookie mixture into each cheesecake well. Press down. Set aside.
  3. With a hand mixer, whip cream cheese and melted chocolate together. Scrape sides and mix again until evenly mixed. Stir in egg. Scrape sides and mix again. With mixer on low, stir in sugar and spices. Scrape sides and whip again briefly so the filling is evenly mixed with no lumps. Spoon over top each crust.
  4. To bake, set tins in oven in roasting pans filled half-way with hot water; bake until set, about 34 minutes, rotating halfway through. When you shake the pan, they shouldn’t jiggle. Transfer tins to racks to cool completely. refrigerate in tins, uncovered, at least 4 hours; remove from tins.
  5. Melt chocolate chips with whipping cream and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Spread over completely cooled cheesecakes. Refrigerate until set.
  6. Refrigerate in airtight containers up to 5 days.

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High Five For Friday III

I had an Oscar’s themed post planned for today but life happens and I can’t get off that ride.  Perhaps tomorrow I will post the Oscar themed post (not get off the ride of life).  For today, just 5 random things I’m loving.
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  • Ya’ll.  NYC got a country station.  Yes.  Now I may never leave.  I never understood why there wasn’t one, since this is such a large market, there are bound to be a few listeners.  I usually listen to country when I am so stressed that I can make no other decision about much of anything.  You can read more about why it will be successful, here

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  • Have you seen this mash up of the Yelling Goats and Oprah?  Life changing.
  • Do youuuuu add extra letters to your words, in texts or g-chats?  I am guilty of it.  Oooooops.  There might be a reason and I’m not talking about the R rated reason either! Okkkkk.

Have a good weekend!!!!

Happy President’s Day – Cocoa Almond Coconut Granola

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Happy President’s Day!! I have always enjoyed learning about our presidents and especially in the food arena.  I don’t think there is anything that ties us all together more than food.  Sure, the President puts his pants on one leg at a time, but does he enjoy a juicy bacon cheeseburger and a milkshake?  Does he crave fried chicken and biscuits?  Perhaps a piece of chocolate cake is more up his ally? In doing a bit of research in the spirit of President’s Day, I learned more about past President’s food preferences.

A lot of them preferred simple meals, over and over.  Many were very influenced by where they grew up: Kennedy loved New England clam chowder, Bush Sr. and Jr. enjoyed tex-mex and spicy food and Carter requested grits and biscuits. Many presidents also liked a strong cup of coffee, a request I make daily.  Some Presidents had less appealing cravings, for example James Garfield’s favorite was “squirrel soup.”

Old George Washington like nuts and ordered them by the barrelful and several other Presidents preferred to snack on nuts as well.  I think they would enjoy this granola.   A bit sweet, a bit salty, chocolaty and totally snackable, with protein packed almonds scattered throughout, it’s easy to munch on this granola and tide oneself over to the next meal.

I experimented a little with the fat in this recipe and used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and it turned out quite well.   Supposedly, this stuff lasts a few weeks but I have never had it last that long in my house.  Happy Snacking!!

Print Recipe

Cocoa Almond Coconut Granola

Source: http://joythebaker.com

Course: Breakfast

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raw whole almonds
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together oats, almonds, coconut, cinnamon, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, honey, oil and butter. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour the warm sugar mixture over the oat mixture and toss with a wooden spoon. Toss until all of the oats and almond bits are at least moistened by the sugar mixture. Spoon mixture onto prepared baking sheets and place in the oven.
  5. Bake granola for 30 minutes, removing from the oven to toss and stir 2 to 3 times during baking. Granola is done when it is toasted around the edges and fragrant.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Store in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks.

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Happy Valentine’s Day Profiteroles

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Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s a strange holiday, with the forced love and all.  Because I have a work history in food service, you will never find me in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day.  Bless those people who deal with the masses.  We prefer to spend it at home in the lap of luxury, haha!  If you do the same, you may not already have a meal planned for the evening.  If I may suggest something, profiteroles are where it’s at.  You can make them ahead of time, serve them with store-bought ice cream (or whipped cream!!) and chocolate sauce, and who’s the hero now?

These particular profiteroles from Anne Burrell from the Food Network are taken over the top with a bit of cinnamon.   It seemed so easy that I thought I was doing something wrong.  The chocolate sauce is worth whipping together as well.  It comes together easily, while the pastries are in the oven and you won’t be able to resist taking a taste (or three) while you wait.  Use a high quality chocolate and you will be above and beyond what you can find in a restaurant.  Plus, you will be in your pajamas! What could be better?   Happy Valentine’s!