Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Check your closets

There is a saying that was probably started by Imelda Marcos about one can never own too many pairs of shoes. I learned last night that not only do I own too many pairs of shoes but pants as well.

My husband is a night person and I am a morning person, and so it is not unusual for me to go to bed a couple hours before him such as I did last night. About 12:45, I heard him crawling into bed, and then he fell into a deep sleep while my mind wandered for a while. At 1:15, we were both startled awake by a boom, boom, crash, boom, boom noise. Instantly we both jumped out of bed not knowing if we had an intruder in our home or if World War III had begun. I called out to my son whose room is across the hall from mine. He was frightened as well but safe. I immediately ran downstairs not knowing if my daughter was in trouble. I think I gave her a heart attack as I opened her door and ran into her room. Gratefully, she was safe. I found nothing amiss downstairs and headed back to our main floor where my husband was searching for the cause of the commotion. As I was climbing the stairs, I had a thought to check my walk-in closet. I opened the door and found a huge mess. A clothes bar that was heavily weighed down by mostly my pants had fallen and pulled down the attached shelf above it. On the shelf, I stored many of my shoes in their boxes. All of them falling explained repeated gun shot like sounds we had heard. We arranged the clothes so no additional falling would awaken us, closed the door, and comforted our children before heading back to bed. As we climbed back into our bed with hearts still racing my kind husband who knew he now had several hours of repair work to do just said, “I think you own too many pairs of pants.”

I am not sure why I hold on to pants that no longer fit when there are many charities that would love these gently used clothes. After I turned 40, a few extra pounds slowly crept on my body, and I dream that one day they will fall off, and I will be able to fit in my old jeans. It really is just torture to see them hanging in the closet. I am almost embarrassed to admit it, but without feeling much of a dent in my clothing pile so far I am donating 37 pants, shirts, skirts and sweaters to Deseret Industries. The sad part is that many a day I walk in to my closet and feel as if I have nothing to wear. Ridiculous, I know!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The perfect time to go meatless

Winter time is a perfect time to try some meatless meals. Why? Because cold winter nights and meatless soups go together just like Donny and Marie, ketchup and mustard, Charlie Sheen and infidelity, Kanye West and a little hissy fit, and well, you get the point. When you serve a hearty vegetable soup with wholegrain bread, your family may not even realize the meat is missing. I always dread the end of summer and enduring long cold winter nights, but a good bowl of hot soup can push the winter blues away for a moment. I love steamed cauliflower, but my family doesn't, however they love this cream of cauliflower soup.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) cans vegetable or chicken broth
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Swiss cheese, grated

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and carrots and cook 5 minutes more. pour in broth and bring to a boil. Stir in cauliflower, cover, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Puree in batches in a blender or in the pot using an immersion blender. Return to low heat and stir in cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Heat through. Top with Swiss cheese.

This creamy soup and homemade cornbread go together like Joan Rivers and plastic surgery, Lindsay Lohan and rehab . . . . well, those things haven't worked out the best, but trust me on the bread and soup. Enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

For my grown-up taste buds

I grew up eating Captain Crunch and Wonder Bread. We had shredded wheat cereal in our house, but there was absolutely no way I was eating that wheat stuff without the frosted side. I remember trying Triscuit crackers once when I was a kid and couldn’t believe people would choose to eat those shredded mini-wheat crackers as a snack. Now they are my absolute favorite cracker. I will eat them plain, but I love them topped with Muenster cheese.

The best part is that they are made with whole wheat and only two other ingredients. I don’t know if another cracker exists that the recommended daily allowance of fiber is higher than the sodium and fat percentage. If you tried them before and didn’t like them, try them again when your taste buds are all grown up.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I guess if Al can do it so can I!

That would be Roker and not Gore. During the winter, my husband is obsessed with the weather. Since our business involves delivering each day, he wants to know if snow might be on the roads. So yesterday morning, he was flipping through the morning shows for weather updates, and I saw Al Roker with a bigger than usual smile on his face and a very large medal around his neck. Come to find out along with his colleague Meredith Vieira, he had run in the New York City Marathon. To be honest I am quite jealous. I ran the Snow Canyon half-marathon this weekend and about mile eleven I just wanted to cry. I have running a marathon on my bucket list, but the training schedule seems overwhelming. Maybe if I had a personal trainer, chef, and broadcast my progress on a TV show it might happen. Well, I don’t see any of those happening in the near or even very distant future so I guess I am on my own with that goal. As if Al Roker’s story of weight loss and marathon running wasn’t enough to inspire me, one of the Chilean miners also ran and finished the New York City Marathon. If he can train while trapped in a mine, I really have no excuse.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The reason I could never be a vegan

I love sour cream! I will eat it on just about anything. I always order a side of it when eating at a Mexican restaurant, and when my husband tries to share it with me; I usually give him the evil eye. At Sam’s Club, you can buy it in 3 and 5 pound containers and for me the bigger the better. I always thought sour cream was just sour cream until one day I happened to notice the list of ingredients on a container. Meadow Gold Sour Cream has 12 ingredients, and Daisy Sour Cream has just one – grade A cultured cream. It makes me wonder how many cancer causing chemicals I have consumed through the years. It is a little more money but I only purchase Daisy brand now, but it is probably cheaper in the long run when you factor in less health care costs.

I make these delicious Blueberry Muffins with my favorite sour cream. It is from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking with a little alteration.

Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
2 cups hard white wheat flour
1/2 cup barley flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries
Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Lightly grease muffin tin, or line with papers. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream, and mix well. Whisk together dry ingredients, and add to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed just until the batter is smooth. Gently fold in the berries and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scoop the batter by 1/4 cupful into prepared pans and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the muffins until a cake tester inserted in the center comes our clean, 22 to 26 minutes. Remove from oven and allow muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Martha Stewart Meatless Monday

I love a corndog on occasion, and yet the thought of eating deep fried animal parts usually stops me from enjoying one. I used to be able to buy veggie corndogs in the freezer section but haven’t seen them lately. I began thinking about making my own and wondered if I could bake them instead of frying. Well, I googled baked corndogs and guess who had a recipe. That’s right – Martha Stewart. I decided to attempt the recipe with a change from all-purpose flour to whole grain flour. Now I wonder how Martha Stewart feels about one of her recipes being altered. I have never met her and I am not a faithful follower, but I can hear her in an ever so slightly condescending tone say, “Why change perfection.” That would not be a question but a statement. I am sure she is not pleased, but I changed it any way. She suggested 4 smoked chicken sausages, but I used 8 veggie dogs. These are a little time consuming when you consider most corndogs only require you to preheat your oven. I would definitely make them again, and they were a hit with my family. I also tried her speedy “baked” beans with no alterations. My husband and son loved them. The molasses taste was a little strong for my liking.

Baked Corn Dogs
1 1/6 cup hard white wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
8 veggie dogs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt and pepper. Make a well in the center; add milk, eggs, and oil. Mix just until combined.
Insert a stick into one end of each veggie dog. Dust with flour; tap off excess. Using handle, rotate each veggie dog over bowl as you spoon batter to coat evenly. Place on sheet; bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Using spatula, reapply batter that has slipped onto sheet. Return to even; bake until golden, 20 minutes. Serve with ketchup and mustard.
The recipe said prep time was 10 minutes. Maybe that is enough time for a true Martha Stewart fan, but it was more like 25 minutes for me.