Because Life Can’t Be All Carrots And Tofu

One of the great secrets I have learned over the years is that to enjoy your kids while dashing from one place to the next (in our oh so scheduled lives)  you must make sure that you pay attention to keeping their blood sugar levels on an even keel.  How do you know you are accomplishing this without a blood test you ask? When no whining and no contact sports are heard from the back seat.  There is peace and all is well.

And how do you execute this magical feat you ask?  The best way I know is to have healthy, (or at least mostly healthy), snacks ready and with you at all times. A less perfect plan might find you pulling into the drive-thru once again, (putting a hole in your budget and who knows what into your kids).  Of course plan A only works if the snacks are eaten so on occasion rather than fixing baby carrots, graham crackers, or sliced apples, I prepare a special “treat”.  Here is one of my favorites, (found on a cereal box), because while it is sweet , but not too sweet, it offers fiber, grains and protein.  Who says brown food can’t be fun?  Oh, and did I mention that it only takes 6 minutes cooking time?

For those of you who don’t have kids you can dress this up in a party gown (your own unique packaging) and you have a great hostess gift or even a little gift for yourself.

Caramel Nut Mix

6 tbsp. – (3/4 stick) butter or margarine

1/2 cup – packed brown sugar

3 tbsp.- light corn syrup

4 Cups – Safeway® Rice, Corn, or Wheat Pockets™ cereal

5 cups – popped popcorn

1 1/2 cups nuts, such as slivered almonds, pecans, walnut halves or chopped peanuts

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine butter or margarine, brown sugar and corn syrup.   Microwave on HIGH (100%) for 3 minutes or until boiling, stirring after 1 minute, 

In a large microwave bowl, stir together cereal, popcorn and nuts.  Pour butter mixture over and stir until all pieces are evenly coated. 

Microwave uncovered on HIGH (100%) for 5-6 minutes.  Spread on waxed paper to cool. (I add salt here, because sweet and salty is always a good idea.) Store in airtight container.

(Due to differences in microwave ovens, cooking time may vary.  These directions were developed using a 625 to 700 watt oven.)

Recipe developed by cookbook author Marlene Sorosky Gray.

If you prefer the directions to cook this in a conventional oven,  just make a request in comments and I will email them to you.

This recipe features a store brand rather than a national name-brand product.  In my experience, quality is what determines the difference between a bargain and waste of time and money when making buying decisions, and the process of trying out all the options can be expensive and sometimes down-right painful.  That gives me an idea!  I will start a page that reviews and compares store brands with national brands, and because I can’t possibly review them all, you can help.

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Psst…The secret is the celery leavesPosted on March 1, 2011 by queenoffamilosity

The secret to this soul-warming, low-fat, non-dairy potato soup (yes, it is actually fabulous) is celery leaves. 

One of the challenges we face when trying to save money on groceries is to actually utilize all of that ten pound bag of potatoes that we got for $1.99 before it sprouts so many eyes we feel like big brother is watching us every time we go in the kitchen.  Here is a solution for that potato surplus that gets a solid twelve thumbs up from our family.  The bonus here is that it gets its flavor from cooking techniques and not from lots of fats from cream, cheese or bacon often found in many potato soups.

7 medium potatoes, peeled and diced to 1/2″ size cubes

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

6 baby carrots, chopped fine

3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 box (or canned) 32 oz. chicken broth

In a large soup pot using a medium heat, add onions, carrots and celery (with chopped leaves) and salt and pepper. Cook until onions are transparent, (about 3 minutes) stirring occasionally.

Add diced potatoes, and chicken broth.  Make sure broth just covers potatoes.  If not add chicken broth or water.  Raise to medium high heat, cook for 20 minutes.  Check potatoes, you should be able to pierce easily with fork. 

Remove from heat.  Remove potatoes to a large bowl.  take one cup of cooked potatoes and return to hot broth.  Use a stick blender to puree the potatoes into the broth creating a smooth, slightly thickened soup.  If you do not have a stick blender you can use a blender to accomplish this.(you may need to do it in 2 batches, 1/2 cup cooked potato with 1/2 the broth).  Return cooked potatoes to thickened soup and stir. Adjust seasoning as desired and serve. 

The secrets here are: well, I guess the first one is not a secret anymore, it is the use of celery leaves.  amazingly it is getting harder to find celery with the leaves on so remember to notice this while in the produce department.  The second secret is to salt the vegetables while cooking them rather than waiting to add the salt and pepper in the end.  This creates a huge difference in the depth of the flavor. Finally, using the puree of potato as a thickening agent rather than cream or milk actually creates more flavor as the potatoey goodness is not diluted


The Perfect Boiled Egg     Deviled eggs 1

The other day I ran across a great collection of recipes for deviled eggs.  Strangely enough, I can rarely stare down an egg at breakfast, but deviled eggs I can eat anyway, anytime.  I was considering which of these interesting twists on a deviled eggs that I might find the most enticing when I began to think about the fact that  if you do not know how to cook the perfect boiled egg none of them would be a good choice.  

As a matter of fact if you do not know the little secrets that chefs learn in culinary school or what young cooks learn “at the elbow” of someone older and much wiser in the techniques of creating fabulous food you will likely suffer the fate of many who have gone before you who wonder why every time they make that prized recipe they got from their mother-in law, or Aunt Susie or even from the flavor of the day chef on the Food Network ,”Why does it always taste better when someone else makes it?”

While I am sure there is more than one way to make a perfect boiled egg, I am doubly sure that there are many more ways to make an imperfect boiled egg,  so to save you the trial and error of discovering one that works for you, I am going to share the way that Martha Stewart recommends.  This is the simple, beautiful key to a perfect breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, brunch of deviled eggs, and tea time of egg salad sandwiches.

To view recipe click here,

(In addition, a trick I learned long ago is to add about 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the water before boiling.  This will hold the white together in the case you have a cracked egg.  It also helps the eggs to peel easily.)

It is truly perfect in its simplicity, however, the devil is in the details.   Martha knows that the temperature that the ingredients begin at affect the quality of the final product when cooking, especially with eggs.  Also you will notice that how quickly the temperature changes as well as the length of time that the eggs cook are also very important to creating tender almost addictive eggs.

So now that you know the technique for cooking a perfect boiled egg  almost any recipe you decide to use for deviled eggs, or egg salad, or anything featuring boiled eggs will be a better one.

I have often wished that someone would share the little secret techniques  that make the difference between a good cook and a great one in one easily accessible place.  Maybe with your help we can start that right here.

If you would like for me to share the deviled egg recipe collection that inspired this post just make a request in the comments.  If you have your own favorite way to create the perfect boiled egg or a favorite egg recipe please feel free to share it with others by posting it in the comments.

Eat happy, eat well!


2 Responses to “Recipes”

  1. on thehomefrontandbeyond May 6, 2012 at 3:24 AM #

    thanks for the vinegar trick

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