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The 10 Easiest Ways to Celebrate Earth Day on April 22!

21 Apr
"Design Scavenger project herb garden"

Photo courtesy of Design Scavenger, http://www.designscavenger.com

FOR YOU TO LIVE A SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE, IT’S ALL ABOUT BEING PRACTICAL.  AFTER ALL, THROWING YOUR ENTIRE PAYCHECK INTO A HEMP WARDROBE MIGHT BE ECO-FRIENDLY, BUT NOT EXACTLY A TREND ANYONE WOULD WANT TO SUSTAIN.  CHECK OUT THIS LIST OF THE 10 EASIEST WAYS TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY, MADE ESPECIALLY FOR THE FOODIE IN YOU.
1. Be a conscious eater.  Takeout King or Queen? Cook at home once a week to reap the therapeutic benefits of cooking while cutting back on the packaging that’s wasted on to-go meals.  Additionally, go meatless once per week to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51%.  That’s emissions the animals and you produce.  I’m pretty sure people will be happier with that switch!
2. Start your own organic urban garden.  How great would it be to have fresh fruits, veggies & herbs in your backyard or on a patio or windowsill? You’ll be eating nutritious food free of pesticides and chemicals that do more harm to your body than good.  Check out the rolling herb garden that my fiance, Kris Kaufman, a.k.a. Design Scavenger, made for me out of an old trash can and wood off the side of the road.
3. Reuse your shopping bags.  Paper or plastic? How about neither. Bring reusable grocery bags to reduce your impact on landfills.
4. Abide by the Dirty Dozen.  Don’t throw good money away. Keep the Dirty Dozen cheat sheet by your side to remind you of what to organic fruits & veggies you should splurge on and what conventionally-grown items are OK to consume.
5. Plant a tree.  Did you know one tree might absorb as much as one ton of carbon over a 40-year lifespan.  That’s some staying power if you ask me.  Why not make it a Meyer lemon tree so you can make lemonade?
6. Save water. We’re such wasters of nature’s precious resources. Only use the dishwasher when it’s full and be mindful of over watering your garden because you might actually kill your plants.
7. Get physical. Physical fitness boosts your mood.  Get out of the big box gym and instead take a hike, ride a bike or practice yoga.  Outdoor fitness connects you with nature and allows you to create your own energy instead of wasting it at the gym.
8. Stay local.  Dinner date downtown? Cancel those plans for a restaurant within walking distance.  Support your local Farmers’ Market to beat the 15,000 miles produce can travel to get to your local grocery store. And, ask questions—there’s so much to learn from your local farmers!
9. Recycle.  Preventing unnecessary trash in our landfills is easy.  Donate unwanted kitchen accessories and trinkets.  Or, throw a “swap” party with your friends.  You might be surprised someone actually wants that old can opener of yours.  Use empty liquor and wine bottles or mason jars as candle holders or vases.  Clean out the fridge and recycle all those expired beer bottle, sauce containers and dressing jars.  After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
10. Find a celebration in your neighborhood.  Get educated and find out how you can get involved at your Local Earth Day event.
SEE, THERE REALLY ARE EASY WAYS TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY.  SO WHY NOT MAKE EARTH DAY HAPPEN EVERYDAY?

Truffle & Parmesan Popcorn

25 Feb

 

 

truffle and parmesan popcorn

Makes 16 Cups

Movies and popcorn.  You’re passionate about the pair.   You wouldn’t go to a movie and not get popcorn because the novelty of ordering a jumbo bag of the light and airy pops of joy is just delightful.  And so, every movie you see, you buy popcorn and eat it—all of it—doused in liquefied butter and salt.  And you think to yourself, “Yes, I just did that, and no, I’m not sure it was worth it.” Because you also know there’s nothing gourmet about movie popcorn.  Instead make Truffle & Parmesan Popcorn, packing on gourmet flavor without the extra butter and salt.

Ingredients:

½ C. organic popping corn kernels

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. truffle oil

¼ C. grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. sea salt

Directions: 

Place vegetable oil in a 3-quart pot with three kernels.  Cover and heat on medium heat, shaking constantly until kernels pop.  Once they pop, add remaining kernels and continue to shake over medium heat until popping stops, about ten minutes.  Immediately transfer popcorn into a large mixing bowl.  With a spatula, mix in truffle oil, Parmesan and sea salt.  Add additional seasoning to suit your palette.  Serve warm.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  Not only is popcorn fun to make the old-fashioned way, it is high in fiber and low in fat and sodium.  Any seasoning can make popcorn a new and exciting flavor, so season to your heart’s desire!

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A Menu for Your Honey Bunny on Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Uh-oh.  Cupid struck you.  And he struck you good.  Looks like this Valentine’s Day,  “Romance” is your middle name.  That’s why you’re cooking from the heart to show your honey bunny just how much love you have to give with the most romantic Valentine’s Day menu.

SET THE MOOD WITH MUSIC

Download the ultimate romance playlist.  Some great ideas from Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, and these KCRW DJ’s love song selections.

WINE

First and foremost, you need some good wine on hand.  Just make sure it goes with what you’re serving–and more importantly, it’s what your Valentine loves to drink.  Keep in mind you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg.  Find great deals at:

  • Whole Foods | Aside from their excellent selection of bottles priced under $10, they also have a handy-dandy wine tutorial on their website.
  • BevMo | It’s 5 cent sale is going on now which means you can really splurge on a good bottle because the second one is only five cents!
  • Trader Joe’s | If you’ve never perused their wine aisles, you’ve been missing out.  The store stocks  a fabulous selection and prices start at $1.00 (although you may have to spend more money on Gatorade the next morning to cure your hangover)!

FOOD

Lean Mean Meatballs with Mushroom Marinara Sauce

SAY ‘AMORE’ WITH AN ITALIAN SPREAD…

START | Follow The Hip & Urban Girls’ Guide to Cheese & Meat Board.

MAIN COURSE | Lean Mean Meatballs with Homemade Mushroom Marinara.

SIDE | Flash Roasted Green Beans.

SEAL THE DEAL WITH CASUAL GASTRO PUB FARE…

START | Cranberry Goat Cheese & Herb Hot Pockets.

MAIN COURSE | Enlightened Shepard’s Pie.

SIDE | Spinach and Strawberry Salad via allrecipes.com

DESSERT | Milk & Oats, Orange & Oatmeal Cookies.

Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup

IMPRESS WITH CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN CUISINE…

START | Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup.

MAIN COURSE | Sunset Magazine’s Perfect Roasted Chicken.

SIDE | Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Sage Apple Butter.

DESSERT | Hubba Hubba Brownies.

Veggie Cassoulet

NO TIME TO SLAVE AWAY IN THE KITCHEN?  MAKE VEGGIE CASSOULET, A SIMPLE ONE-POT MEAL, READY IN MINUTES. 

So, what do you have on your Valentine’s Day menu?  Share your love spun food selections by leaving a comment below.

Super Bowl XLVI Recipe Roundup

4 Feb

You’re stressing because you’re throwing a Super Bowl Party for the friends and fam but you don’t know what to make.  Well, you’re in luck because of this delicious, All-American, Super Bowl-worthy recipe list. Now all you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the people around you!  Oh–and don’t forget to cook!

Set the Scene:

Do you have a favorite team?  Consider a Red, White & Blue theme (since the teams are pretty much representing the SAME exact colors anyway).  No offense to die-hard fans.  You’ll probably be able to borrow decor from 4th of July!  Easy!

CUTE ALERT!!!  Katie Brown turned lemons into mini footballs and created a fun Super Bowl centerpiece.

Drinks:

You won’t disappoint if you stock up on beer for the Super Bowl.  But put some thought into it…make it special by serving local beers, beers from Boston or New York, or an organic selection that pairs well with what you’re serving.

Starters:

Fresh & Easy Cantaloupe Salsa.  Cool, spicy and tangy.  Serve with your favorite healthy chips, like Garden of Eatin‘ Red Hot Blues.

Cranberry Goat Cheese & Herb “Hot Pockets.”  Like grown-up pizza rolls.  They’ll disappear in a flash!

Baked Kale Chips.  There’s nothing fried about ’em.  For a big crew, buy a few heads and bake away.  You’ll be amazed how quickly they’ll go.  Even the kids will love!

Spiced Party Nuts.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  No party is a party without party nuts.  And your guests will certainly go nuts over these sassy little numbers!

Sides:

Super Bowl Sunday Salad.  Flavorful and colorful.  Just what you want in a salad.  A real crowd pleaser!

Flash Roasted Green Beans.  These green machines go faster than it takes to cook ’em!

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries.  Because what’s better with an All-American meal than fries?

Not Your Grandma’s Potato Salad.  Leave the mayo in the fridge and try this slightly refined potato salad on for size.  Ol’ Grammie might not like the idea of it, but once she tastes, she’ll never go back!

Main Course:

Baked Rosemary Chicken Strips.  Kids will love ’em and parents will feel like kids again!

Pulled Pork Sliders.  Might be the easiest part of the entire meal…thanks to the crock pot!

Black Bean Patties with Mole Glaze.  Add instant chic to your football party by throwing in a little vegetarian fare.  Plus, your friends with food restrictions will love you for it.

Garlic Ginger Chicken Wings.  View this step-by-step YouTube tutorial on how to create Foodwishes.com Garlic Ginger Chicken Wings.

Desserts:

Ice Cream Social Network.  What’s more all-American than an ice cream social?

Oats, Orange & Hazelnut Cookies.  Perfect for a standing-room-only dessert line.

Healthy Tasty Chow’s Nutella Puppy Chow.  Such a great dessert for a Super Bowl soiree!  Don’t you just want to dig in already?

Oh How She Glow’s Itty Bitty Carrot Cake Cookies.  You wouldn’t know these were vegan…or a healthy cookie!  YUM!

Phew!  Now, get to work STAT.  Super Bowl starts in 24 hours!

Have a favorite Super Bowl recipe that you want to share?  Leave a comment below.

Baked Rosemary Chicken Strips with Homemade Dip Trio

1 Feb

Image

Serves 4-6

Frozen chicken nuggets. Delish?  Not so much—unless you’re a five-year-old.  But every once in awhile, you have that craving and—pow!  They hit your stomach like a brick.  Well, my dear, serves you right.  That pseudo-vegan diet of yours has made your stomach weak in your day.  So  make a healthier, homemade version.  Baked Rosemary Chicken Strips are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and so much fitter for a young-at-heart grown up like you.

Ingredients:

Chicken:

1 lb. organic chicken breast

Salt & pepper

¼ C. veggie oil

½ C. panko breadcrumbs

¼ C. shredded Parmesan cheese

2 sprigs rosemary, minced

Chipotle Ketchup:

¼ C. ketchup

1 Tbsp. lime juice

1 tsp. cumin

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

Honey Mustard:

¼ C. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. local honey

Tangy Yogurt with Dill:

¼ C. non-fat Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rub chicken with salt and pepper.  Cut into thin strips, creating at least four per breast.  Pour oil into a medium bowl.  In a separate medium bowl, combine breadcrumbs, cheese and rosemary.  One at a time, dip the chicken into the oil and then into the breadcrumb mixture until every strip is coated.

Get a large, non-stick fry pan going on medium heat.  Sear each strip for two minutes on each side, flipping with tongs, and transfer to a baking dish.  Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes.  Serve warm with dipping sauces.

For the trio of sauces, whisk ingredients together using separate mixing bowls to avoid mixing flavors.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  If you’re into eating meat, chicken is a good low fat option and an excellent source of protein.  It’s also a good promoter of strong bones and boasts a great deal of selenium, which is essential for promoting good metabolism.

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HAVE A FAVORITE CHILDHOOD FOOD THAT YOU’VE MADE INTO A HEALTHIER VERSION?  LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW. 

Super Bowl Sunday Salad with Carrot Basil Vinaigrette

31 Jan

Sunday Funday Salad, Healthy Salad

Serves 4 as main course | Serves 12 as small side

Remember Sunday Funday?  You left it in college along with those shots of bad tequila and affection for anything greasy to cure your hangover.  And now, you read this and ponder, “Have I lost my fun luster?”  The answer is no—you are clearly more refined now.  So reinstate Sunday Fundays with a bit more class, like the Sunday Salad with Carrot Basil Vinaigrette.  And, consider pairing it with Sauv Blanc instead of cheap tequila, will you?

Ingredients:

Salad:

1 6 oz. bag organic spinach

½ lb. turkey deli meat, cubed

1 can kidney beans

½ C. grape tomatoes, halved

¼ C. dried cherries

Dressing:

¼ C. carrot juice

1/3 C. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. honey

½ tsp. pepper

pinch salt

1 C. extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. basil

Directions:

Rinse and lightly dry all ingredients.  Place into a large mixing bowl.  Just before serving, pour ¼ Cup dressing over salad to lightly coat and toss.  Add any additional dressing to taste.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: Its no wonder Popeye loves him some spinach.  This all-over powerful veggie is packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals that promote strong bone health, healthy eyes, clear skin and stellar brain function.  Spinach is also a great choice to ward off free radicals and diseases including some cancers, like prostate cancer.

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Merry Christmas, It’s National Eggnog Day! So, Make A Healthier Version.

24 Dec
Healthy Eggnog Recipes

Image via Flickr courtesy of elana's pantry

It’s only appropriate for December 24 to be deemed National Eggnog Day.  But with all the special food you’ll be eating today, how could you possibly leave room to down some ‘nog?  You can with these less guilty versions which skimp on calories but still pack a deliciously creamy punch:

Eating Well’s Eggnog

Dr. Katz’s Better-for-You Eggnog

The Blender Girl’s Raw Vegan EggNog Recipe

Healthy Eggnog Recipe via Naturally Savvy

Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Healthier Eggnog

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

Do you have a healthier eggnog recipe you enjoy?   Leave a comment and share it.

Pulled Pork Sliders

14 Dec

Makes 24

Pulled Pork Sliders

You’re a Sunday Funday fanatic.  That’s right—come Wednesday you’re already planning lunches, brunches and aperitifs to spare.  It’s all play and no work on Sundays.  Especially when it comes to not wanting to work on those dishes.  That’s why on Sundays you put the slow cooker to work and make Pulled Pork Sliders.

Ingredients:

3 lbs. pork shoulder

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Gala apple, whole but slit around center

1 onion, cubed

¼ C. spicy Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. local honey

Hamburger pickles (dill, sweet or both)!

Your favorite slider buns (Hawaiian Rolls are delish)

Directions:

Create a dry rub in a small mixing bowl by combining brown sugar, paprika, sea salt and cayenne pepper.  Massage the dry ingredients into the pork.  Place pork into a freezer bag with olive oil.  Allow to marinate.  Tip: This is best done the night before to create the most flavor.

Place pork, apple and onion in a slow cooker on low and cook for 7 hours.  If you’re running low on time, you can crank the heat up to high, but cook for 4-5 hours only.  When done, pull the pork apart in the slow cooker using tongs (to secure) and a fork (to pull the meat).  Let it sit in the jus.

Just before serving, mix mustard and honey in a small bowl.  Spread honey mustard on inside top of roll and finish building out your sliders with a generous serving of pork and a pickle or two.  Secure with a toothpick.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  A good source of lean protein, pork is naturally low in sodium and is packed with several vitamins and minerals.  Pork is also a great source of iron, which makes it a great option for your monthly holiday…hint, hint!

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Thanksgiving 911 | Signature Cocktails and Delectable Desserts

23 Nov

The dining room table is set, pretty china and all.  The family arrives tomorrow.  The menu is…oh boy!  Procrastinated ‘till the very last minute, did ya?  That’s so you.  You’re experiencing a Thanksgiving 911!  But before you ring the alarm, here’s a secret: you don’t need to sweat over it sweetheart!

Make this Thanksgiving’s feast oh-so memorable.  Put some thought into it…what’s your food style?  Is it festive, savory, a modern twist on classics, comforting or seasonal?  Or, is it a fab combination of it all?

This Thanksgiving 911 is handled.  So, set the menu already!  Add some magic with signature cocktails and delectable desserts:

Campari Crush

SIGNATURE COCKTAILS – TIP: GIVE ‘EM A SIP OF SOMETHING SPECIAL RIGHT AS THEY ENTER 

Festive | Champagne or Bourbon with Cider Super simple, there’s no recipe required! Add a splash of apple cider to your favorite bubbly or bourbon for an instant holiday-in-a-glass cocktail.

Savory | Food and Wine’s 10 Top Thanksgiving Bottles Pair your meal with the perfect wines.  (Disclaimer: this may warrant you having to host all future Thanksgivings. You’ve been warned).

Modern Classic | Campari Crush This is a one-and-done kind of aperitif. A little palette cleanser preps your guests for the big meal.

Comforting | John Fibley of Jonoon’s Sprig Around the World Because maple syrup makes everyone feel like a kid again.

Seasonal | Martha Stewart’s Apple Ginger Sparklers This non-alcoholic spritzer puts a sparkle in everyone’s eye.  Super kid-friendly, too!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

DESSERTS – TIP: NON-PIE DESSERTS ADD A CLOSING ELEMENT OF THANKSGIVING SURPRISE

Festive | Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Oh-so creamy, who would’ve known it was dairy-free? Tastes best served with a warm brownie.

Savory | Oh How Posh’s Maple Pecan Sundaes with Candied Bacon Because bacon seriously tastes good on everything—most especially dessert.

Modern Classic | Bree Hester of bakedbree.com’s Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes Like pumpkin pies in a new-and-improved form.

Comforting | Oats, Orange & Hazelnut Cookies Homemade cookies are comfort food at its best–and they smell darn good!

Seasonal | Cottage Gourmet’s Cranberry-Molasses Pudding with Vanilla Hard Sauce This tart dessert spells H-O-L-I-D-A-Y.

Thanksgiving 911 | Ten Simple Side Dishes to be Thankful For

22 Nov

The dining room table is set, pretty china and all.  The family arrives tomorrow.  The menu is…oh boy!  Procrastinated ‘till the very last minute, did ya?  That’s so you.  You’re experiencing a Thanksgiving 911!  But before you ring the alarm, here’s a secret: you don’t need to sweat over it sweetheart!

Make this Thanksgiving’s feast oh-so memorable.  Put some thought into it…what’s your food style?  Is it festive, savory, a modern twist on classics, comforting or seasonal?  Or, is it a fab combination of it alll?

This Thanksgiving 911 is handled.  So, set the menu already! Serve up fabulous side dishes:

Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Sage Apple Butter

SIDE DISHES – TIP: THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX

Festive | Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Sage Apple Butter & Crème Fraiche It even smells like Thanksgiving!

Festive | Gluten-Free Girl’s Cranberry Chutney  Sweet, tart and rich.  Perfectly pairs with turkey and potatoes.

Savory | Spicy Sweet Potato Fries Because sometimes mashed is a little too predictable.

Savory | Smitten Kitchen’s Crispy Potato Roast Your non-traditional Thanksgiving feast just got crispier.

Modern Classic | Not Your Grandma’s Potato Salad An ode to Granny sans the mayo.

Modern Classic | Whole Foods’ Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds Simple, absolutely gorgeous and no need for Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom.

Comforting | Williams Sonoma’s Golden Broccoli Gratin Enough butter & cream to make Paula Deen proud!

Comforting | Giada’s Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta The Italians really know how to make a holiday dish that shouts “welcome to the family.”

Seasonal | Ina Garten’s Roasted Butternut Squash Throw it in to roast and let the caramelized flavors speak for themselves.

Seasonal | The Kitchn’s Roasted Brussel Sprouts Quick, easy and healthy. Save room for dessert!