November 2nd, 2012
I’ve sat at my computer amidst the chaos of a house filled with six cooped up people several times over the last few days. I’ve wanted to write to you and to share some of the cooking we’ve done while hiding from Sandy and staying clear of those working overtime in her aftermath. But each time I tried to write I got lost. In the news. On Twitter. Searching for ways to help. Working on a Halloween rescue plan. I have tons of recipes to share, but strangely little to say. (Don’t get used to it.) It’s hard to find words when you feel unbelievably lucky and are surrounded by so many who aren’t.
My family and I made it through the storm unscathed. We are safe—stir crazy, but safe. We were together the whole time in a warm, dry home, able to cook, play, watch movies and call loved ones who are also safe, though without electricity. My trusty computer speedily connected to the world each and every time I asked it to, even through the worst of the storm. And we went trick-or-treating last night. See, I told you: we are unbelievably lucky.
Many are not, though. The hungry boy is wondering if he’ll be able to visit his favorite place, Coney Island, this summer. I don’t have an answer. And what about my Jersey shore? These are just two hurt places that just two local people love. What about all the other places and all the other people with hurt hearts, lost homes, and damaged neighborhoods. I don’t have an answer.
October 29th, 2012
I’m an all natural mama. A from-scratch cook. But I have three junk food weaknesses: Oreos, nearly any sugar cereal and Snickers. There. I said it.
I do not bring these “foods” into my house. And when, a couple of times a year, I find a way to indulge, I hide from my children. Partly in shame, mostly so that I don’t have to share.
My homemade Snickers-inspired dip is a revelation. A gift. I can indulge without shame. I can share because there’s plenty, uh, I mean because it’s natural. Just four simple layers of homemade goodness—honey whipped cream cheese, an easy homemade caramel, crushed peanuts and melted chocolate—that make a perfect after school snack for Halloween or a great pre-Halloween cooking project with kiddo if you’re stuck hiding from frankenstorm (like us).
I’d say that this Snickers-inspired treat is also the thing you need to make if trick-or-treating is cancelled because of bad weather, but I’m rooting for the one time of year that my kids can indulge in real fake candy. Halloween will prevail! (Fingers crossed.)
Peek at this yumminess and get my “Snickers” dip recipe over at Momtastic.
It starts simple…
And then, like any good candy, gets gooey…
Wait: there’s more!
October 26th, 2012
I’ve been writing about making and choosing healthier Halloween treats for three years and, in that time, I’m amazed at how much has changed. More than ever, there are healthier options that don’t force you to be the Halloween grinch. With treats that are truly delicious, made with real food and without artificial flavors and colors, there’s no excuse: this year you’re going to be a natural candy wizard. Grab the hot glue gone now.
Halloween is only one day a year, there’s no reason to go mad over it. Your kids—and mine, too—will get their share of junk food and that’s okay. But it doesn’t mean that we have to buy icky stuff stuff we feel bad about. Oh no, all natural candy wizards do not add to the madness, they rise above it. With the help of brands like these.
Let me start with my current obsession: UNREAL candy. This brand is a shining example of what I’m talking about. UNREAL is a new line of candy bars made with no corn syrups, no GMO’s, no hydrogenated oils, and no artificial colors or preservatives. They currently make five candies, each nearly exact replicas of plain and peanut M&M’s, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Snickers and Milky Way bars. As if that wasn’t enough, these candies are priced similarly to those traditional candies.
I’m freaking out about this stuff. It’s candy, people—this is not for everyday consumption (uh, unless you’re still potty training a reluctant 3-year-old after 2 months)—but it’s real candy.
UNREAL could almost be enough, couldn’t it? The crazy thing is that there is more. More options. More all-natural treats. More Halloween fun.
October 24th, 2012
Today marks the second national Food Day, a celebration of healthy eating created by Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations, and you.
There is no life without food. Food is health, family, connectedness, and pleasure. It is joy. Yet our American diet is contributing to health problems at a severity never seen before, for children and grownups alike. Our food isn’t just making us sick, the way it’s produced is also harming farmers, the environment, and the animals we rely on to keep us well fed. We’ve made cooking a chore and replaced the pleasure of simple home cooked foods with the cheap high that comes from the extreme sweet and salt of processed foods.
The food issues that we face as a nation of parents caring for the first generation of children with a life expectancy shorter than our own—along with financial pressures, limited family time, and sheer exhaustion—have stolen our joy for food. Today I ask you to stand with me and take one step towards reclaiming it.
The Food Day site will tell you that today is about sustainable food options, eradicating hunger, farm worker justice, access to and knowledge about healthier choices. To me, though, Food Day is about bringing joy back to the family table. The joy of feeling good about what you put in your body. The joy of knowing that you’re doing right by your family. The joy of knowing that your choices support your local and global community. The joy of taking pleasure in small actions.
Food Day isn’t about making a fancy farm-to-table meal (unless you want it to be!). For us busy parents, today is about moving the needle towards joy, even if just by a hair. We can transform our diet and we can even work together to transform the American diet, but even revolutions start with small actions. And small actions earn dedication when they bring joy.
So, today, to celebrate Food Day, do just one thing around just one family mealtime that celebrates the joy of healthy eating. Whatever it is—whether scrambling eggs from a local farm for a simple dinner or asking a farmer at the market to tell you about a vegetable you’ve never eaten before—seek out the same easy joy you feel when biting into a perfectly ripe peach or sitting down to a holiday meal with people you love. Those moments crystallize the joy of food and we can choose to feel them everyday. Starting today.
October 22nd, 2012
Subj: request for your child’s favorite cars characters
yup. that’s right. you’ll soon get confirmation that i’m throwing a disney themed birthday party. i’m the first. i’m going there. i stand proud.
in honor of this great event of parental resignation and humility, i ask that you please send me your child’s favorite character from the Disney/Pixar movie Cars by the end of the week.
if you have a child (ahem, a daughter) who does not have a favorite character from Cars, please know in advance that I will do the Disney thing and provide her with a Sally-themed goody bag in honor of the token spunky female character.
buckle up, bitches. you’re on my ride now.
October 19th, 2012
If I understand correctly, Pop Tarts are toaster pastries that get their name from the fact that they P-O-P in and out of the toaster. Sound right? Then these—and most other homemade—’Pop Tarts’ making the internet a tastier place are not really Pop Tarts at all. Made with a simple pie dough (as opposed to a flaky pastry dough), they are more like hand pies.
I have a feeling that you don’t care much about the veracity of my pop tart claim. (If you do, drop me a line and I’ll happily divert some of the time that I spend on Pinterest to a conversation about the accurate naming of home baked goods.) I have a feeling that you’d much rather know that these:
* freeze beautifully
* can be filled with nearly anything you like
* can be taken out of the freezer the night before you want to, uh, POP them into kiddo’s lunchbox or serve them as an after school snack
* are fun to make with kiddo (you can tell from my photo that the hungry boy led the charge on our last batch)
So, yea, pop tarts… hand pies… who cares?!
October 17th, 2012
Do you tire of me carrying on about meatballs? (I hope that’s the first time you’ve been asked that question!) A quick scan of my Indian Spiced Meatballs post reveals that I’m a serious fan. And who wouldn’t be? Meatballs are a wonderful early finger food, a great way to introduce animal protein, and also a grown up favorite, whether at dinner or a cocktail party. Meatballs are pretty much a perfect all-around family food.
This recipe is a quick adaptation of the Greek-Style meatballs that my grandmother made for me when I was little. When she—and, really, all Greeks—make meatballs with rice, they are usually cooked in an avgolemono (egg-lemon) sauce. It’s delicious, but requires a bit of extra cooking time. When Greeks whip up quick sautéed meatballs like these they typically skip the rice and serve the meatballs plain or in a quick-cook tomato sauce.
I combined both approaches to make this super easy, quick cook meatball that has the added grain which makes these a more complete meal for little ones. My approach cuts cooking in half, to just shy of 30 minutes, especially when you see my trick for dealing with the onion and garlic.
October 10th, 2012
I love apple butter, and I love my slow cooker, too. Lucky for me, they work well together.
You throw apples and some spices into a crock pot in the morning (or before bed), your house smells amazing for 10 hours, and you scoop out a sweet and spicy, dark amber spread that makes anything it touches more delicious.
October 8th, 2012
You’ve been following as I document daily school lunches for the hungry boy. Now, you can watch my conversation with Johanna Cook of MommaCuisine.com on how to make packing healthy and fun lunches easy breezy.
For the segment, which was part of the premier episode of the Momma Cuisine #MCShowLIVE, I’ve put together a One Hungry Mama school lunch resource guide.
Take a look and watch the video for some of my favorite school lunch packing tips (watch the whole show; I start at around 26:20).
October 5th, 2012
Ever since I made this Zucchini, Tomato and Pesto Tart, I’ve become obsessed with puff pastry. Weird considering that I used to have an aversion to the stuff.
If it hadn’t been for Alice Currah’s Savory Sweet Life cookbook, I’m not sure that I would have ever tried working with frozen puff pastry again. It never did anything for me and now, thanks to Alice’s savory tart, I know why. I’d always used puff pastry for sweet recipes. I’d end up feeling like I’d rather have cake or at least something like cake, which puff pastry is not. Topping puff pastry with savory ingredients, though, opened a whole new world. A world that I’m happy to visit. Often.
I’ve made the Zucchini, Tomato and Pesto Tart a few times and have even churned out a couple of Corn and Mushroom Tarts. Both delicious each and every time. Now I’m bringing easy puff pastry tarts into fall with this Beet and Feta Tart.
October 3rd, 2012
This is the hungry boy’s new favorite lunch. Big surprise, huh? Who wouldn’t want to eat cream cheese and jelly french toast bites for lunch? I know that I would. Well, actually, I’d prefer them for breakfast which is exactly what I get when I pack these for school lunch.
It’s true that these school lunch french toast bites require some cooking, but only 6 minutes. And here’s the best part: they double as a on-the-go breakfast for you (and a great finger food for little brother or sister!), which makes the fact that you have to do a little cooking totally worthwhile.
Breakfast for you, a school lunch they’ll eat—I’d say that’s worth 6 minutes. If you agree, here’s how you whip these up:
October 2nd, 2012
The show follows 16 chefs, 8 Americans and 8 Brits, as they race across American in hopes of winning $100,000. With no money and minimal resources, the chefs must rely on their cooking skills, as well as on their resourcefulness and ingenuity to make it through their 3,000 mile adventure. I don’t know, but Phoebe has serious cooking skills and is pretty damn smart. We might have a winner in our corner!
In honor of tonight’s Chef Race premier, Phoebe is hosting a virtual viewing party potluck that is starting NOW! Join in the fun by checking out the all-American recipes that Phoebe’s cheering squad has put together in her honor. Then be sure to visit the “girl next door” herself to enter to win a red, white and blue goodie bag from Le Creuset, Edgeware, and Dreamfarm.
So, what’s my all-American recipe for Phoebe? Dulce de Leche Apple Pie, of course!