Weston Price, Paleo, GAPS: Word jumble or meaningful diets?

There are many theories and philosophies on healthy eating, some of them seemingly contradictory: eat meat, don’t eat meat, eat lots of fish, go vegan, use lots of healthy oils, low-fat, consume probiotics, don’t and the list goes on. There is also a lot of “new” vocabulary out there  like Paleo, Weston Price, and GAPS. In my opinion, it’s important to find a lifestyle, not a diet per se, that fits you and your family. At the same time, it’s good to be aware of what’s out there. I have curated a few links to posts about these philosophies that I hope you’ll find informative and will help you make healthy choices

Parker House Rolls Are a Hit

Epilogue on Parker House Rolls. Just what we needed for Thanksgiving dinner, another carb on the table, I thought to myself repeatedly, and voiced out loud  at least 1 or 2 times. But I am not too big to give credit where it is due and compliment Hubs on this last minute addition to the menu. The rolls created a few last minute scrambles like a missing 9X13 dish (had to swap out the homemade stuffing) and the equipment fumble (had to use Vodka bottle instead of rolling pin), but it was worth it. I was a doubter, and now I am a believer.

The rolls were rich and delicious and downright addictive. The Parker House rolls recipe we followed is from Bon Appetit. The good thing about having others help in the kitchen is that I can also capture their handiwork. Here is a video of Hubs lining up the individual rolls in the baking dish.  Did I mention that these make great leftovers, too?

Preparing Parker House Rolls

I Dream of Camping?

Words I rarely utter, trust me. But this camping trip to Chaffin Family Orchards in Oroville, California by fellow food blogger Cheeseslave looked awesome. It is the epitome of California Dreamin’ – u-pick ’em mandarin oranges, pomegranates, olives.

Pomegranates@ Chaffin Farm courtesy of Cheeselave

And the accommodations are more cabin-like than pup-tent. Sign me up, Cheeseslave.

Thanksgiving Kitchen Crisis Averted: Vodka to the rescue

Thank you, Grey Goose. Parker House rolls saved!

Rolling Pin Substitute courtesy of Epicurious

Hubs realized that our kitchen lacks a wooden rolling pin, which is needed for the Parker House Rolls. After a quick Google search, found this great idea on Epicurious’s blog to use a 1.75 liter vodka bottle in place of a wooden rolling pin.  Our kitchen does NOT lack vodka.

How Could I Forget the hors d’oeuvres?

With all the planning for Thanksgiving dinner, I almost forgot to map out what we’ll be snacking on while the turkey roasts. After a few emails and phone calls, we’ve settled on a few easy classics from Hubs’ family holidays:

  • Shrimp Cocktail (with Real Homemade Cocktail Sauce – recipe below)
  • Crudite’ and
  • Olives

Fortunately, we got these items inserted into the Google Doc in time to print the shopping list. And, a last minute addition to the main menu because you can never have too many carbs: homemade Parker House Rolls. The recipe in Bon Appetit called to Hubs.

Who could resist? I am biting my tongue about the calories and unhealthy ingredient list (whoops) for this recipe, but I won’t stop Hubs from pushing forward on this initiative.

Getting back to the hors d’oeuvres, let’s talk about Real Homemade Cocktail Sauce. I am a fan of homemade condiments overall, and if you have the time, it is worth it. Making your own cocktail sauce/mayo/spice mix will have an impact on the final result and often make an everyday dish outstanding. It’s like going from good to great in 5 minutes. We made this homemade Cocktail Sauce at Christmas a few years ago and it knocked our socks off. It’s hard to take prepared cocktail sauce seriously after tasting this. Recipe courtesy of Mark Bittman, of course.

Real, Homemade Cocktail Sauce 

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or red wine vinegar if you don’t have any lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
Combine the ketchup, lemon juice (or vinegar), and butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts. (At this point, you can keep the sauce warm for over an hour — but keep the heat as low as possible.) Add horseradish to taste. And done! Serve with shrimp and crackers.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Shrimp-with-Better-Cocktail-Sauce-105609#ixzz2Ci54B3KJ

Preschool Thanksgiving Celebration: The Crisis of What to Bring?

If you have kids, you are undoubtedly invited to some sort of Thanksgiving concert/luncheon/festival at your child’s school. My son’s school celebration is on Tuesday and I’m bringing…drumroll…Crispy Caramelized Brussel Sprouts! No muffins, no stuffing, no pumpkin pie. That’s right – I am putting a stake in the ground and bringing a vegetable, and a “difficult” one at that. Even I used to dislike the mighty Brussel Sprouts and am only a recent convert. Despite what you may be thinking, my 2 1/2 year old eats and enjoys these.

Crispy, Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

Will I be a rock star for bringing a healthy, savory side dish to the table, or snickered at for quasi Grinch-like behavior?

I promise to report out the results, baring my soul to you all. Tell me what you think about my controversial choice. Please post your comments below.

Crispy Caramelized Brussel Sprouts @ school: All Gone

Warning: Nerd Alert & Thanksgiving Planning

Thanksgiving planning and Google Docs. Perfect together. In an effort to get organized for Thanksgiving, I started a Google Doc workbook with several spreadsheets. First time ever and this feels like a big step, but maybe many of you are doing this already. The rationale is that we have several family members participating in the menu planning, and fortunately shopping and preparation, all living in different states and coming together for the holiday. Another factor is the kitchen itself: just 4 burners and 1 oven. My hope is that this collaboration tool will help us stay organized, reduce extra trips to the store and bickering at the stovetop.

Here’s what I did: I created a spreadsheet for our shopping list, noting which ingredient is for which recipe. I created another spreadsheet with the menu to help us plan timing. On this spreadsheet we will plan what can be made in advance, what day of, and when. I then shared the file online with the 4 other key stakeholders. The others can edit/delete from the document at will. So far, I am the only one to contribute. I am hopeful that will change….

Let the games begin! How do you get organized for the holiday? Please write a comment below and share.

Bye Bye Pepperidge Farm: DIY Stuffing Recipe Selected


Bye Bye: Pepperidge Farm Stuffing in a bag

First time ever: I will stray from my trusted Pepperidge Farm dry stuffing “foundation” in a bag. It is my family’s tradition – what my mom always made, and what I’ve made in recent years. Mind you, she always doctored it up significantly  sauteing carrots, celery, onion and mushrooms before adding the cubed bread mix. Strictly vegetarian, of course. So I am taking it to the next level this year and saying Bye Bye Pepperidge Farm and doin’ it from scratch.

I’ve been inspired by several recent articles online and in print to go my own way, as well as the From Scratch Club blog. I’ll follow the “Simple is Best” Dressing recipe by Sam Sifton from November’s Bon Appetit. It most closely mimics our old recipe – keeping it simple as the recipe title claims. Lots of fresh herbs. No sausage, no dried fruits, nothing fancy.

The recipe doesn’t seem like that much more effort than my old version, just a few additional steps and the need to remember to buy the bread in advance so you can let it go stale.

Please comment below if you make your own stuffing or dressing from scratch.

Take 2: No Knead Bread Revisited

One week later, I am back at it with the No Knead Bread. I followed Breadtopia‘s No Knead Bread recipe this go-round. Breadtopia’s recipe uses a little less water than Mark Bittman’s recipe, and since my original doughwas more batter than dough, I thought that would help.

Take 2: No Knead Bread

I also used a handful of whole wheat flour along with the all-purpose flour, just because I had it on hand. At the onset, the dough had more elasticity and body than my first batch. It seemed to rise more, too, during the overnight rising, and was easier to handle when turned out on the work surface. It was still very liquid-y, but I did manage to turn it onto itself.

The final product looks great, but sadly is not much higher than my first batch. We may have the same low bread:crust ratio experienced previously.

Take 2: slightly more height on this loaf than the first attempt

I have reproduced the No Knead Bread recipe below, courtesy of Breadtopia.

3 cups bread flour
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups purified or spring water

  • Mix together the dry ingredients.
  • Mix in water until the water is incorporated.
  • Cover with plastic and let sit 12-18 hours.
  • Follow video instruction for folding.
  • Cover loosely with plastic and rest for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer to well floured towel or proofing basket. Cover with towel and let rise about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Bake in covered La Cloche or Dutch oven preheated to 500 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Remove cover; reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  • Let cool completely on rack.
  • Consume bread, be happy.