Friday, July 30, 2010

Deceptively Delicious, Recipe 3

I have been asked several times since beginning my journey through this cookbook, "What's the point?"  Why mix in all these vegetables if you can't taste them?  

Well, when it comes to the senses, if seeing is believing, then not tasting is believing.  The idea of this cookbook is to hide vegetables in the foods kids, and adults, love.  And, the beauty of this idea, is that you can give your kids the nutritional benefits of vegetables with out the fuss and fight of getting them to eat their veggies.  They literally have no idea... or at least, they won't with the recipes I have tried so far!

Unfortunately, not every meal I cook incorporates the ideas of this cookbook.  I am working toward this goal, but this is definitely a lifestyle change.  It is a trial and error process, and I don't want my family to starve due to too many of my errors!

Yesterday, I tried my third recipe from the book... Mashed Potatoes with cauliflower.  The book lists a recipe for the potatoes, but I decided not to follow it.  I have my own recipe - I use that term loosely to describe my own cooking.  I don't need to look up and follow a recipe for it.  And, that is what works better for me.  

So, I began my mashed potatoes as always... boil potatoes, drain water, mix in milk, butter, salt and pepper to achieve consistency and taste.  Once I was sure that they were just right, I mixed in 1/2 cup of cauliflower puree... steam cauliflower and puree in food processor until smooth. 

After making sure the puree was mixed in well, I tried them again.  There was no difference in taste!  They tasted just as good as before the new ingredient was added.  And, the best part is how good cauliflower is for you!  It has lost of vitamin C and other compounds that may help fight cancer!  Isn't that cool?  Read more about the health benefits of cauliflower here.

However, because my husband and I think that mashed potatoes, and just about everything else, must have garlic in them, I added the garlic that I had drizzled with olive oil and roasted.  This last little step really make them fabulous.  And, not only does it enable you to add more of the cauliflower puree because it hides the flavor so well, but it also offers benefits of its own!  

Score two for me!

I have always heard about the good things that garlic can do, but have never really given it much thought.  I just really, really like garlic.  But, this Deceptively Delicious journey has encouraged me to find out more about food... what's good about it, the best way to prepare and present it to my family, etc.  So, if you want to read more about garlic, and how good for you it is, click right here!

Finally, though, I served dinner to my family... roast with carrots, onions, and celery (this is a new thing I added.  It went over great!), and my side of mashed potatoes with cauliflower.  Chuck literally could not tell a difference in the potatoes.  When I told him that I had tried a new recipe with our supper, he thought I was talking about the roast. 

I asked if he could identify the hidden vegetable, and he tasted again, really trying to taste the vegetable.  He wasn't able to identify it.  Even after I told him about the cauliflower, he tried again and couldn't taste it.  

Then, the biggest surprise, he admitted that he really doesn't like cauliflower.  So, this really proved that this recipe can work for even the pickiest eaters!

So, what's next?  I am thinking either peanut butter and jelly muffins with carrot puree or chocolate chip cookies with chickpea puree.  I have the best of intentions to try one of these recipes this weekend.  So, check back to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I am excited to announce that I have news!

What kind of news?

Well, for that you will just have to stay posted!

I am hoping to be ready for full disclosure after the weekend!

Check back often to what my news is!

Until next time...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Electrosux, um, I meant Electrolux.

I don't mean to complain, really, I don't.  BUT, and it's a BIG but, I think that I have a right.

You see, my nightmare began about a week and a half after we moved in our new house (approximately 6 weeks ago).  The previous owners took their refrigerator when they moved.  Which, I thought was a good idea to begin with... That meant that I would be able to pick out whatever I wanted!

I did my research, and found that each brand that I was considering had its pros and cons.  And, honestly, I knew that would be the case.  However, none of the cons that I read about could have prepared me for this nightmare.

I picked out a beautiful Electrosux Electrolux French Door, Bottom Freezer refrigerator.  It was delivered the afternoon I purchased it, and the delivery man hooked it up.  Unfortunately, though, once plugged in, the unit didn't work.  The freezer worked, but not the computer screen that controls everything about the unit... temperature, water/ice dispenser, etc...

Chuck called the store where we purchased our refrigerator and they agreed to send over a new one.  The next day.  This was annoying, but I kept telling myself, "What's one more day..."  So, the next day came and Mr. Delivery man shows up with a new fridge.  Once plugged in, it works!  I was so excited, and relieved... I could finally get groceries.  It had been a week and a half!  

I got my groceries, and organized meticulously placed them in my fridge...  Each label facing a certain way, each type of item grouped first by frequency of use then by size.  I spent all afternoon making sure everything was perfect.  

Twelve hours came and went, then I noticed it.  Water.  Running down, in a slow trickle, the front of my fridge.  I first told myself that either Chuck or I had left a piece (or twelve) of ice in the dispenser or splashed the water out of our cup while refilling it.  I really couldn't let my mind think that something might actually be wrong.  

So, I cleaned up the water and said a little prayer that it would not return.  It did, though.  Water began leaking out of the ice/water dispenser with no end in site.  

By this time, Chuck is absolutely frustrated.  I get put in charge of getting a repair guy out to check it out.  I make a call to the store where we purchased this thing, and the lady there gave me a name and number to call.  I did and this repair man couldn't work me in for a week and a half.  I was obviously put out with the situation and debated calling the store to complain.  Before I could make up my mind, the sweet lady from the store called me back.  She just wanted to check and see if I had gotten in touch with the repair man.  I told her yes and told her how long it would be before he could come.  She said that she would make some calls and get him out sooner.  I was quite grateful for this gesture.  

Mr. Repair man showed up a couple of days after I called.  He was looking over the fridge, and I asked him about a part recall that I had seen some information about.  He said that he would have to order the replacement part and after installing it, my fridge would be as good as new.  Usually, that is a good thing, but this thing is new and doesn't work!

A week passed by, and I received the call that the part had come in.  Mr. Repair man came to install it.  He had warned that it would take about three hours to complete, but he didn't warn me that I would have to empty my fridge.  He and his partner began unloading it, and must have noticed the panic in my eyes.  They stepped back and let me unpack it.  Slowly.  And, as meticulously as I had loaded each item in there.  

Once finished, they began their work.  And, it did take them all of three hours.  But, when they were finished, they assured me that I wouldn't have any more problems.  They left, and I proceed to call Chuck with the good news.  To be sure it was really fixed, I walked by every few minutes to make sure there wasn't any water.  There wasn't!  Woo hoo!  

I decided that I would definitely consider buying another Electrosux Electrolux appliance.

Unfortunately, my joy was short lived.  Chuck came home and discovered that it wasn't leaking because it wasn't producing ice...  In all my excitement of having it fixed, I never even considered that it wasn't making ice.  

At this point, Chuck is completely and totally out done with this thing... He gets that way easily, sometimes.  I was sure he was going to divorce me for picking out this stupid appliance that wouldn't work.  And, I was already trying to figure out how I would explain to Emma that Mommy is a terrible appliance picker and that's why Daddy left!  Okay, so maybe I was over-reacting, a little, but you should have seen the look on Chuck's face!

Anyway, I called Mr. Repair man back the next day and explained to him the situation.  He actually asked me if I had checked to make sure the ice make was on.  Are you kidding me?  I may not be able to fix my refrigerator... only because I haven't tried... but I am not an idiot!  I was sure to let Mr. Repair man know that and that I had already checked to make sure the ice maker was switched on.  

He scheduled a day to come back out, and again I waited.  The day he finally arrived, he was here for hours.  And, at the end of it, still no ice.  He said that after running all types of tests, he had determined that the part that was ordered, was in fact faulty.  Now, I have to wait for another part to be ordered.  Ugghhh!

It finally came in and back came Mr. Repair man.  He changed it out... another three hour ordeal... and left assuring me that all was fixed.  I was quite skeptical, but smiled and thanked him.  Then, a few hours later, it began again... leaking.  

Once more I called Mr. Repair man.  He said he would come back to check on it, but it would be a week.  When her finally came out, he told me that he had spoken with a technician at Electrosux Electrolux, and this person said that the front of the fridge needed to be raised because this unit produces 'wet ice'  and the excess water would drain correctly.  

At this point, though I didn't really believe that this would work, I tried to.  I tried to buy into the story because that is what I wanted... a too easy fix.

Well, it has been a week, and I am still wanting an easy fix... My fridge is still leaking.  And, now, not only does the water run out the dispenser and all down the front, it now leaks inside the refrigerator too.  

It just keeps getting better!

I had reached my limit this time.  I began searching the internet for contact information on Electrosux Electrolux.  I called, but just missed their business hours.  Being a Friday, I would have to wait until Monday to actually speak with someone.  

So, today, I called back.  I was able to speak to an actual person, but that didn't do much good.  I kept trying to explain to the representative that their refrigerator is terrible and that I think they should replace it.  She was unable to understand that... surprise, surprise... She kept saying that she would contact Mr. Repair man and give him explicit instructions on how to fix the problem.  I kept trying to tell her that I had another appointment with Mr. Repair man, and he seemed to be doing all he knew to do.  No matter what I said, though, she kept twisting it and putting the blame on Mr. Repair man.  I never got anywhere with her.  

And, now, I feel terrible because it must appear to Mr. Repair man that I was calling to complain about him.  That wasn't the case at all.  I was simply calling to tell them the dang fridge SUX!  Hence, my new name for them, ELECTROSUX!

I guess I will wait until Wednesday when Mr. Repair man comes to see if this nightmare will end.  I know that I am so ready to wake up!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Love Affair

I have been having a love affair for years. Actually for as long as I can remember.  And, though the names may change, there is always love.

Older is always better... there is just something about their smell.  It is warm and musky, with just a hint of wood.  The smell is captivating, welcoming, like the embrace of an old friend.  And their offerings are always better too. Classic, with a sense of abandon, thrilling, yet heart-warming.

My love affair is my escape from reality.  It is the time I carve out for myself, or sometimes steal away.  Sometimes it leads to a roller coaster of emotions, sometimes just pure delight, fear, enlightenment, or even horror.  No matter what it evokes inside of me, it is always worth it.  Always.

My husband knows about this love affair, supports it, even.  Sometimes, he even admits that he wishes he had one too.  I guess in a way he does.  His 'object of affection' is different, seasonal.  His love is hunting.

Not mine.  Mine is always available... Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter.  What is my love?  My love is... a bookstore.   Any book store, but like I said, older is always better.

There is just something about an old bookstore, with its mix of old and new books, old wooden shelves, and the leather covering the old chairs.  I get sucked in... EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  It is almost impossible for me to pass by one without stopping in.  And, if I don't go in?  It is anxiety producing!

I can vividly remember going to the library as a child.  I was in love with the book The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907) by Beatrix Potter.  I remember being encouraged to check out something besides that book, because I would check it out every time we went!  I loved it; I still do.  And, now, I read it to Emma.

Looking back, I am surprised that I liked it so much.  The language is quite archaic; and I am sure quite confusing to a child.  But, somehow, even at such a young age, I got it.  It made sense to me.

Now days, I go to the 'chain' bookstores like Books-a-Million and Barnes and Noble, because they are convenient; but they aren't quite as intoxicating.  They don't mesmerize me.  They don't call out to me like an old store.

I have been known to sit down in an old bookstore, in an old leather chair and read an entire novel.  These sittings usually require a 'classic,' something like Tolstoy, Faulkner, Welty, Dickens, or Eliot.  And, what makes these sittings better?  Finding a copy of the book with pages that are yellowed and just before brittle, with just a touch of dust on the cover.  It is like finding the Holy Grail!

But, I am not afraid to grab a work by a barely known author.  I love to find a 'new' author.  Especially, an old author that is new to me.

And, I also love reading present day authors.  One of my favorite present day authors is Lee Child.  He has a collection of "Reacher" novels (Jack Reacher is the lead character) that absolutely take over my life when I read them!  I wait each year for a new one to be released.  And, once I get my hands on it, I can hardly tear myself away.

My current interest... Stieg Larsson.  His books, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, have me intrigued.  Not to mention the fact that the author passed away shortly after delivering the manuscripts!

I always hate for a book to come to an end.  But, with the end always come the excitement of knowing, as well as the excitement of returning to the bookstore on a quest for the next great book!  My husband supports this love, even hopes that it might rub off on him.  However, if nothing else, he hopes that I can instill it in Emma.  So do I!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Deceptively Delicious, Recipe 2

Another recipe attempted, another success!

Because Emma is completely obsessed with eating "sicles" (pronounced suckles, often confused with her attempt at pronouncing 'circles') - Popsicles - these days, I decided that I should try this recipe sooner rather than later.  Yesterday, we went out to get the molds and the ingredients for our popsicles.

Emma loves to go, and yesterday was no different, but she had no idea what we were going after.  I tried to tell her about making popsicles, but this only led to her wanting one right that second.  That made for a
l-o-n-g outing!  We returned home without too much of a melt down and began prepping our materials.  

Our popsicles consisted of plain yogurt (less sugar than flavored), frozen fruit - we chose strawberries, her favorite - and a small amount of confectioner's sugar.  The recipe claims that it makes 8 popsicles, 100 calories each and less than 1 gram of fat.  However, our molds must have been smaller... we wound up with 10.5 popsicles.  Which means that ours are less than 100 calories and 1 gram of fat!  Wooo Hooo!  

I put them in the freezer and once frozen, I pulled one out for Emma to try.  She wasn't sure about it at first, so I took a bite.  This thing was divine!  I am so impressed with this recipe.  It was simple and yummy!  

Anyway, Emma finally tried a bite and loved it.  She ate at least half of it.  And, she probably would have eaten the whole thing, but her Daddy kept eating it!  I offered him one, but he said he didn't want one... even though he was eating Emma's as fast as she was!  

So, I am proud to say that I am 2 for 2 right now.  Both recipes that I have tried were definite successes!

Oh, and while we are talking food... I must brag just a bit... After flipping through this cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, I became inspired to create a recipe of my own with hidden veggies.  Last night I served my family Manicotti,  and it was fabulous.  

What veggies did I include in it?  Well, I started the sauce like my typical spaghetti sauce.  I sautéed onions, red and green bell peppers, carrots (yep! I dice them and sauté them), and mushrooms,  seasoned with garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, bay leaves, and Pinot Noir (cooking wine causes the alcohol to dissipate, so it's okay for Emma).  Then, once I achieved the flavor I wanted in my sauce, I added 3/4 cup of sweet potato puree.  It enhanced the sweetness of the basil, and added a nice counter to the sharpness that the wine imparts.  

Then I stuffed the Manicotti shells with a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, freshly grated Parmesan, and freshly grated Romano cheeses. I placed the stuffed shells in a baking dish and smothered them with the sauce.  Finally, I baked and served with more freshly grated cheese.

I must admit, I was quite surprised with how well this dish turned out.  Chuck even went back for seconds!  And, that isn't something he does often... especially when I serve pasta.  

One thing that I have learned through my own attempts and failures, as well as this cookbook, is that tomato sauce is an excellent cover for many vegetables.  Most kids love 'spaghetti' sauce, and you can easily incorporate extra veggies without them even suspecting!  

I am anxious to try some of the recipes that I am most skeptical about.  I plan to try at least three next week!

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Excuse This House

I love this poem!  Just thought I would share.  I know that so many of you can relate!  
Excuse This House

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there,
Ours boasts it quite openly,
The signs are everywhere.

For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges are on the doors.
I should apologize, I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.

But I sat down with my children
And we played and laughed and read.
And if the doorbell doesn't shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.

For when at times I'm forced to choose
The one job or the other,
I'd like to cook and clean and scrub,
But first I'll be a mother.

Author Unknown

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

True Balance


I have been wearing my shoes everyday, at least two hours a day since I purchased them.  I haven't actually lost any weight, but I do feel better.  Not sure if I am just motivated to walk around more or what, but I will definitely keep wearing them!

Have you seen these things?  The new toning shoes made by New Balance?  The ones with the balance board inside the shoe? They look pretty awesome, right?  Well, I think so!

I saw a spot on the Today show that these shoes were a part of.  That sent me on a mission.  I wanted those shoes.  I had to have those shoes!  So, after checking my local stores and not having any luck, I ordered them from the New Balance web site.

They came in yesterday, and, well, I am in love!  They look great, which we have already established... otherwise I wouldn't have purchased them... I am vain, fashionably vain.  And, they actually are comfortable.

After putting them on, I didn't think they felt much different from my regular tennis shoes.  That means there is no learning period.  That's good on many levels... Older people can wear them and not worry about stumbling in them, and neither will I!  But, also, there is now no excuse for not exercising!

I put these shoes on around lunch time and by the time I sat down around 8:00 PM, I felt as if I had done a total lower body workout!  I was shocked!  Never did I think that these shoes would make that big of a difference in each step I took.  Boy, was I wrong!  It has only been a day, and I can feel the tightness in my legs.  Much like the tightness that I feel after a workout, well, like I felt after a workout... I haven't had one lately!

Actually, since I got pregnant with  Emma.  And she will be two in December... But, I digress.

I am determined to wear these shoes every day, at least for a little while.  I want to know if they really make a difference.  I won't change anything else in my routine, just to be sure. And,  I'll keep you posted because I'm sweet like that.  I will be the guinea pig and test these babies out.

If these shoes really do make every step that each person takes count just a little more, then New Balance is on to something.  Because these are fashionable, the way we, as a public, view 'toning' shoes may change!  And, if by just changing shoes you can change your body in a positive way, imagine what that could lead to!

Now, that's exciting!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Deceptively Delicious

So, I am one of those Moms that everyone hates.  You know the ones... always dressed perfectly,  hair and make-up is always flawless, has the perfect child, who sleeps perfectly through the night, and eats three perfectly square meals every single day; her perfect child is a genius, and has NEVER stomped her feet in protest.  Yep, that's me...

In my DREAMS!!!

Okay, I admit, I am far from that kind of Mom (and Emma isn't always that perfect child (gasp!)).  But aren't we all in some way?  In reality, there are days that I am lucky to shower much less plan three perfectly square meals a day.  But I try.  I really, really do.

I try to make a conscious effort to serve my family healthy foods, but it is hard.  I have exhausted my efforts to serve vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods in a way that my family will eat.  Emma will eat fruit, if she won't eat anything else.  This is great, except that fruit is easy.  It is ready to eat; just cut up and serve.  And, when life gets hectic, easy usually wins.

I have a harder time with veggies.  Emma doesn't eat them.  She used to... when she was eating the baby food I made her.  At that point she would eat anything! But, again, life got hectic and I got behind on steaming, pureeing and getting them ready to serve.  Since she didn't have teeth until well after her first birthday, I couldn't give her raw veggies.  Like many Moms, I opted for easy more times than not.  Which, now, is problematic.

Because of easy, I have developed a guilty conscious.  I feel terrible that there are days when she consumes nothing more than Teddy Grahams and milk. But, what can I do?  You try to convince her otherwise!

I have been searching for recipes that include more veggies in ways that would be more appealing for her, and for me.  And, I found it.  I found a way to please everyone.  I found a cookbook full of recipes that are easy and have lots of veggies.  But I wouldn't buy it; I wouldn't even give it a second glance on the shelf.

And, though the cookbook has been out there a while, I have been skeptical.  I have doubted.  I have tried to convince myself that I wouldn't have to resort 'hiding' vegetables in other foods.

Last night, however, I gave in.  Threw in the towel.  Waved the white flag.  I went out and bought the dang cookbook.  Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.  And, tonight, I gave my first recipe a go.  Emma and I bought the groceries and I whipped it up.

I served my family tacos, deceptively delicious tacos!  When we sat down to dinner, there were seven, yes SEVEN, different veggie options!  These options included tomato, avocado, corn, red bell pepper, banana pepper, lettuce, and sweet potato.

What? Sweet potatoes and tacos!?!? You read it right.  The recipe for the taco meat included sweet potatoes.  And, it WAS delicious, Deceptively Delicious.  So, according to the recipe, you cook your ground beef, chicken, turkey, etc. as usual.  After browning it, you add crushed tomatoes, taco seasoning and sweet potatoes... pureed.  Let it simmer, then serve as usual.  The other veggies are just an assortment of toppings.

This recipe definitely has my curiosity peaked.  If I can add sweet potatoes to tacos and it still taste great... maybe even a little better than normal, then, what else can I do?  I am so excited to dive into this cookbook and find more great recipes.  I did glance over one recipe for peanut butter and jelly muffins.  They sound delicious!  And, they have a little bit of carrot puree in them.  Therefore, they have health benefits too!

So, join me on my Deceptively Delicious journey! I promise to give you my honest opinion on how each recipe turns out, as well as the opinion of any others that taste these creations.

Finally I may have found a way to serve the foods my family and I love without feeling the least bit guilty!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Picture It

In the words of The Golden Girls own Sophia Petrillo, "Picture it..."  

A warm summer evening in the South.  Outside, in the distance, crickets are chirping, frogs croaking, and mosquitoes are buzzing.  But closer, you hear the crackle of fire, the sizzle of meat on the grill, and the chatter of friends.  Each sound rising and falling in a perfect rhythm that is metered by the clink of ice against glass.  You smell the burn of charcoal, the spicy aroma that seasons steaks, and the occasional whiff of freshly cut grass.   

This is what weekends in the South are made of.  This is what this past weekend was for me.  Perfection.  

We had friends come into town from Alabama to spend the weekend.  It was a glorious time of hanging out, relaxing, and watching our girls play.  A time of catching up, and of "remember when..."  A time of laughter, and tears... brought on by much more laughter.  Our weekend was, in a word, divine.

We listened to music and reminisced about the memories that each song brought to mind.  We shared stories, and reminded each other of events that at least one of us would probably rather forget!

We slept in, well, as much as two toddlers would allow.  And, watched a friendship develop between our daughters.  

We cooked out, went boating, swam a little and served up cocktails to toast to old memories and the new ones we made, to future gatherings and lasting friendships.

All in all, the weekend came and went too fast, but we parted ways a little lighter, a little more joyous because of the time we spent together.