Category Archives: Food

Goin’ BANANAS!

I’ve been trying not to use the word “busy” so much. I noticed that I was leading off almost every conversation with a detailed description of how full my calendar is. But isn’t everyone’s?  I think my busyness was becoming my favorite go-to excuse for why I wasn’t doing something. This post from my friend Kay resonated with me and since I read it, I’ve been more cognizant of how often I’m tempted to wear my busyness like a medal of honor.

That said, this week my family has several opportunities to fill our time. (Is that better?!) Truth be told, this week has the potential to be a little bananas.

In honor of our exciting and somewhat challenging calendar of events, I tried a new dessert on the grill last night. I pinned it to my Looks Good Enough to Eat Pinterest board a couple of weeks ago from the Eighteen25 blog and since we were grilling hamburgers for supper last night, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out.

 Doesn’t that look delicious?  Grilled Bananas!!

And they couldn’t be easier.

Slice a ripe banana down the middle. Try not to cut it all the way through. Then fill the banana however you want. We raided my baking pantry and found marshmallows (I found those are good to add first. Space them out and they will help your banana stay open enough to add more treats.), chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and Heath bits. You could also nuts, Nutella, peanut butter or peanut butter chips, marshmallow fluff….the sky is the limit!

Put your bananas on some heavy duty aluminum foil and grill them over medium heat until the  bananas are warm and the toppings get “melty.” I don’t think I left ours on quite long enough but they were still yummy.

It tastes kind of like a banana split without the ice cream. Try it!

I’m still in love with grilling! I’d like to find more desserts we can grill. Do any of you have any grilled dessert recipes we could try?

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Why, Yes, This Is An Entire Post About A Cookie

Do you have a World Market close to where you live?

If you do, I want to introduce you to your new best friends.

Yes, I know they’re cookies, but they’re also an event. It’s like a little party every time you take a bite.

I don’t know how they make these things. It’s like they took two super thin crispy cookies and stuck them together with a layer of delicious milk chocolate in between.

My aunt introduced me to them when she was here last year and my life will never be the same.

I love them so much that I’m not even going to spend much time debating with myself whether they should have spelled that last word “Lacies” instead of “Laceys.” According to my spell check, both spellings are wrong. I don’t really care how they’re spelled, just don’t get between me and that little plastic container.

I’m not sure if this is exactly what happened but I may have bought two containers on Sunday: one that I shared with the family and one that I think I may have hid. And now one container may be empty and the other one may be dangerously close to the same fate.

I may have had Laceys for breakfast and lunch yesterday. Nothing else. Just Laceys.

Don’t judge me.

Especially since I’ve decided not to keep this wonderful knowledge to myself. I think you should all go to World Market and buy some. Unless you live near my World Market. in which case, you’d best stay away from them so there will be more for me.

World Market did not pay me to talk about their fine product, although if they wanted to remunerate me, I’m pretty sure we could work out a deal.

Since I was so nice to share, would any of you like to return the favor and tell me what new snack food you’ve discovered that the rest of us may have been missing from our lives?

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The Recipe for Former Soviet Union Tea Mix So That Sus’s Life Can Be Swell* Again

*Swell?! Who am I? Beav Cleaver?

Last month while Sus and the boys were here for a visit, I made a batch of spiced tea mix. Over the years I’ve collected three or four different recipes for spiced tea. They all have the same main ingredients in common but the proportions are different. The tea mix my mom made when I was little contained ground-up Red Hot candies. I love the kick the Red Hots add but the sound made when Red Hots are ground in a coffee grinder makes my teeth hurt. Only one little nerve survived 2009 and it’s a frail, needy anemic one, so I’m not grinding Red Hots so as to not threaten its survival. I’m hoping it will grow strong and less nerdy so as to attract many more stronger nerves this year. But we’re not talking about my nerves today. No, we’re talking about spiced tea mix. Where we we? Yes, well, since I lean towards excess on a daily basis and am prone to indecision (my parents’ decision to branch out in ministry to those in recovery  and the ones who love them is becoming clearer to you every post, isn’t it?), I make my tea mix by laying all my tea recipes side-by-side on the kitchen counter and then I choose the greatest quantity of each ingredient from each recipe for my mix. Then to complicate things further, I taste the dry mix and add more of certain ingredients to fit my taste. I do this any time I have more than recipe for a dish and I can’t decide between them. This may be the reason many of my meals never taste the same way twice.

So anyway, Sus and I worked on the spiced tea mix together and tweaked it until we both agreed it had just the right clovey-ness and Tang-iness. We consumed multiple mugs of tea while she was here and I sent a little container of mix home with her. Well, some time last week while I was in Kentucky, she ran out of tea mix. I know this because I received the following Tweet:

@whimzie I just ran out of spiced tea and you are nowhere near your recipe. This constitutes an emergency.

I giggled. I thought she was just being cute and quite honestly, forgot all about it…until two days ago. When the abuse started. First there was this Tweet:

@whimzie I am in DESPERATE need of your Russian tea recipe. BREAK THE GLASS desperate. I’m totally out and it’s 18 degrees. And I’m sick.

Just a word of explanation: She calls it “Russian tea.” I think I remember it being called that back in the day. I’m not completely sure of why it’s called Russian because I haven’t Googled it, but I have my own theory. I think it’s because one of the ingredients in the mix is Tang. NASA used to use Tang on its Gemini flights in the ’60s and subsequently many began associating this orange drink mix with the space program. The 60s was also the time of the big “space race” between the United States and who?  Yes, Russia. Therefore, some call this Russian tea. I will now write a Wikipedia article declaring this to be so and it will become fact because that’s how the world works these days.

Back to the story, Gretchen Tweeted Susan wanting to know what Russian tea was (she hadn’t heard my theory read my Wikipedia article yet.)  In answer to her question, @carpoolqueen “sweetly” Tweeted (like a little canary, I tell you):

Well, if @whimzie would get her act together and SEND IT TO ME, you’d know.

Our friend Rebecca must have also asked her what Russian tea was because Susan sent this message to her in response:

It’s a hot tea drink. It’s fabulous and heart warming. Unless your friend @whimzie forgets to send you the recipe and you’re out.

In the meantime, Susan incited other Twiter friends to join the melee. Suddenly Heather and Kellie were demanding tea recipes, too. Let the record state that during this time I was nowhere near Twitter. I was busy providing nourishment and comfort to my precious children in my ever-demanding but so rewarding duty as their mother (i.e., I was cooking supper.). When I finished my household duties and sat down to see what goodwill and encouragement I could spread to my friends who live in my computer, I saw all of the vicious Twitter demand and attacks and found this comment on my post about new recipes I’ve tried:

Where’s the little blue linky thing to the spiced tea recipe????? Sigh. What’s a girl gotta’ do to get it?

(Just so we’re clear, this tea mix contains no pharmaceuticals, legal or otherwise.)

So, without further ado, because for crying out loud, we’ve certainly had enough ado, this is my attempt to replicate the tea mix recipe we made last month. I’m also filing this recipe on SnoodleSnacks so it will be preserved for posterity and to prevent another crisis of epic proportions aka “a tea emergency.” You’re welcome and in the words of the great CPQ, aka Susan,

Have a nice day.

Whimzie’s Spiced Tea Mix (from Russia)

1  20 oz. container of Tang (I buy two containers because I like to add a little more Tang to mine.)

1 cup of dry lemonade mix

1 cup instant tea mix (sweetened; I like to use the one that has lemon)

A little less than 3 cups granulated sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon

3 teaspoons cloves

Mix together. I use three heaping teaspoons per large mug of hot water. You can adjust ingredient proportions or serving size to your taste. If it doesn’t make your teeth hurt, feel free to add a handful of ground Red Hots OR just throw a few Red Hots into your hot water and let them melt….if you’re patient.

*Oh look! I actually have this recipe labeled “Russian Tea.”  That’s nice.

P.S. For continued hot beverage enjoyment, may I suggest my homemade hot chocolate mix? It’s delicious! I’ve heard that it pairs fabulously with Kellie’s homemade marshmallows and I hope to find out for myself later this week!!

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Now We’re Cooking!

I’m trying to get back into the swing of cooking again. Last year during the moves and while Dad was sick and then after, we ate a lot of meals that others had made for us (and gratefully enjoyed every single bite) and we ate a lot of take-out. Now that we’re trying to get back on track with some semblance of a routine, I’m trying to find my meal mojo again. I’m discovering it’s like jumping rope. You have to find your rhythm with the dish selecting and the recipe compiling and the list making and the grocery buying. There’s a whole other rhythm that has to happen in the kitchen to get the meal prepared and on the table. It’s going to take a little time until I’m making music in the kitchen again, but at least today I was actually getting a little excited about some new recipes I want to try this week.

I think my move back to the kitchen actually started Christmas Eve. We usually spend Christmas Eve at my parents’ house but this year we decided it might be a good idea to change things a bit. My brother and mom came over to our house and spent the night with us Christmas Eve. Earlier in the week I solicited my friends for some good breakfast casserole recipes for Christmas morning. They sent me several really tasty-sounding ideas. I finally decided to go with Kellie’s (LaVidaCoffeeGal) Creme Brulee French Toast. It did not disappoint.  And it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Sus (Carpoolqueen) sent me her best breakfast casserole idea and said that I had to try it, so I didn’t feel like I had any choice but to obey. She was right. It is definitely a keeper. These were both so good that I’m thinking that I might plan a brunch for a few girlfriends this month mainly so I’ll have an excuse to make them again. Doesn’t that sound fun? Christmas was so rushed that I didn’t really get to visit with my friends. I’d love to have them over for hot chocolate and spiced tea and these two breakfast dishes. Of course, I’m great at ideas and terrible at follow-through. One of you needs to ask me at the end of this month if I actually threw a brunch or not and embarrass me if I didn’t. Amy sent me a recipe for a sausage and egg casserole with sun-dried tomatoes (Yum, right?) but I didn’t have all the ingredients so I’m saving that for another time. Just in case you want to try it before I get around to it, I linked you to the recipe on epicurious.com. You can find the other recipes I mentioned by clicking on the name of the dish.

On the way to Kentucky I was thumbing through the January issue of Southern Living and saw a recipe for Hoppin’ John with White Cheddar Cheese Grits that sounded delicious. In my house, every New Year’s Day we eat greens (usually a combination of mustard, turnip, and collared served with pepper sauce and/or vinegar), black-eyed peas, and cornbread. If you eat your greens you’ll have plenty of dollars in the coming year. The peas guarantee you an abundance of coins. The cornbread is good to sop up the juice from your dollars and coins. My husband’s family serves cabbage rather than beans. Hoppin’ John is a black-eyed peas with rice dish that is often served on New Year’s Day. Since we were finishing up our road trip on New Year’s Day we decided to delay our New Year’s meal to last night and we left out the greens. I tried out the Southern Living recipe and we all decided that it was definitely going in the “Keep” file. It’s perfect for a cool-weather meal. Speaking of weather….

We’re supposed to have cold weather this week so I have chili, soup, and red beans and rice on the menu for this week. I also have a few recipes that I want to try from a couple of new cookbooks that friends gave me for my birthday last month. Kasey gave me Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook (!!) and I’ve drooled on almost every page. Tanya gave me The Mitford cookbook and I can’t decide which recipe I want to try first!

Today is the first day back to school so I must go wake the children. Reentry into the world of alarm clocks and schedules and commitments is always a little rocky, isn’t it? I’ll be cheering for you if you’ll be cheering for me. We can do it, right? All this talk about yummy, home-cooked meals and I’m off to prepare nice big bowls of cold cereal for the children. Wish me luck!

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White Chocolate Popcorn Crack

Last night was a typical wild and crazy party Friday night! Except that it wasn’t. We stayed home and vegetated, but a good time was had by all. Mainly, because of the snacks. We had party snacks! Well, we had one party snack, but it was so good that I’m dedicating an entire post to the beauty that is White Chocolate Popcorn.

A couple of days before we left Mom and Dad’s to make the great trek back to the Northeastern Tundra, a family friend brought by some snacks for the road. She had gone to the party store and bought a few of those cardboard popcorn boxes, the ones that look like this:

ex0065-11

She had filled them with, what I thought at first, was plain old popcorn. Don’t get me wrong, I like popcorn, but I’m not a fan of cold popcorn. I like it hot and dripping with butter. Upon closer inspection, I realized that our friend had written White Chocolate Popcorn on the side of the box. Que pasa? Qu’est-ce que c’est? (I’m trying to give this blog a little more of an international flavor.) I was intrigued, but a little leery. This could be really wonderful or not so much so. I didn’t have time then to investigate further. In fact, I didn’t even taste the popcorn until we were in the car on the first day of our road trip. I tasted it, and almost wrecked. Good grief, Charlie Brown, this stuff is amazing!!

I emailed our friend and asked her to send me the recipe. There is absolutely nothing to it, sports fans! Here it is in recipe form, but basically all you do is pop a bag of microwave popcorn, melt some almond bark or white chocolate, pour it over the popcorn, and stir. Spread it out on some waxed paper to cool and to keep it from clumping together. That is all in the world there is to it. 

I made it last night and the rest of the fam loved it. “Wait a minute,” I hear you interjecting, “haven’t the kids already eaten it before? Didn’t they have some on the road trip?” Well, surprisingly, no. They didn’t. I meant to pass it back to them, but it didn’t happen. Before you judge me, each child had his/her own snack box filled with their favorite snacks. And they had junk food that Mom doesn’t usually buy them. And I didn’t ask for a single Pez or gummy. Okay, I had a few Pez, but no one gave me even one gummy. And I was driving! Eyes on the road and all that jazz! I can’t be turning around to pass out snacks! Can’t a mom have one thing that’s only hers? Yeah, you’re right, I should have shared, but now that we have the magic recipe, we can enjoy white chocolate popcorn crack anytime we want. In fact, I want some right now. 

But let me finish this first. I was just going to tell you that I thought this would be a great gift idea. Put it with a DVD or a movie theater gift card or a free rental to the local video store. I’m going to take some to the family that just had a new baby when it’s my night to bring a meal. I remember when my Little People were babies I had a little snack center beside my chair. I’d snack while I nursed. Seriously, are you judging me again? Yes, I may have dropped a crumb or two on a nursing baby’s head, but I needed my strength! 

Anyway, enjoy the popcorn. The first taste is free, after that you buy your own.

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The Making of the Next Food Network Star/Junkie…..And a Plea for Help!

I used to be a serious Food Network Junkie. I TiVo’d Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, Giada, Emeril, Next Food Network Star, Good Eats, Unwrapped…I honestly don’t remember what else. When he was three, my oldest used to know Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals intro by heart and would say it with her every time the show came on. “…Hi there I’m Rachael Ray, and I make 30 minute meals. Now that means, in the time it takes you to watch this program, I will have made a delicious and healthy meal from start to finish.” The Little People think we’re actually related to Paula Deen. But when we got busy preparing to move and then actually moved and then had to recover from the move, I quit watching Food Network for some reason. Probably because during that time I wasn’t doing very much cooking so watching it made me feel guilty.

Anyway, for some reason this morning I turned to Food Network while we were doing our daily “get ready for the day” chores. My daughter’s eyes have not left the TV yet. She can now make a homemade coke float thanks to Emeril, knows how to make a delicious vegetable fondue, can stretch our mealtime budget, and will be able to turn our chicken leftovers into a delicious soup. I had walked out of the room for a few minutes when I heard her exclaim, “I knew it! I knew she’d be here! She’s finally here! I’ve been waiting for her!” Before I even walked back into the room, I knew I’d be seeing Paula Deen in all her glorious Southern splendor dishing up pure love with a stick of butter. We’re supposed to be going to the grocery store but I don’t know how I’m going to get the Princess Diva to leave her Paula. Maybe if I can promise her we’ll get the ingredients for the white chocolate cocoa Paula was just making….

The cocoa reminded me of a side story: Monday the whole fam spent the afternoon in the front yard making a snowman. It was a real Hallmark moment for me. The Princess Diva and I were the first ones to go back into the house because the boys wanted to engage in a little snow warfare and she didn’t think that was an activity in which she wished to participate.

She said, “Mom, can we have hot cocoa?” Fortunately, we still had some homemade hot chocolate mix left over so I was happy to oblige.

“Do you want marshmallows in your hot chocolate?” I asked.

“It’s COCOA, Mom,” was her retort.

So we sat at the table and talked girl talk for awhile. We talked about our favorite chocolates (she likes the ones that have caramel in them) and favorite foods (“Of course you know I love PB& J best, Mom. You’ve seen me eat them everywhere!”).

“I sure am enjoying our hot chocolate date, sweet girl,” I said.

“It’s COCOA, Mom.”

Whatever it was, we had fun.

Okay back to the real reason for today’s post. I need your help, Barry Manilow (That’s an old Ray Stevens song. Good grief, how old AM I?!) I’m doing a little project. When I was home with the family right after Dad’s surgery, our incredible church family provided meals for us. What a HUGE help!  Over time, I started collecting good ideas for “take over” meals (the meals you take over to someone’s house when they have a baby, surgery, etc.). I’ve decided I want to make a collection of recipes and helpful hints so that the next time I need to take a meal to someone (which will be this weekend, as a matter of fact), I can go straight to this collection and  pick something from my list. So, I’m wondering what’s your favorite “take over” meal or “take over” idea? Do you have  a standard meal that you usually prepare? If you’ve been on the receiving end, what was your favorite meal that someone brought to you? I’m looking for meals that can be put in disposable dishes so that the recipient doesn’t have to worry about returning anything. So, to my five loyal readers (and you’re exempt, Mom, so that brings us to four), what are your best “take over” ideas? If you have a great recipe and don’t mind sharing it, either link it or post it in your comments section.  I’ll put them all together with the ones I’ve already collected and put them in a central place that we all can enjoy! Won’t this be fun?! 

By the way, I’ve found a couple of really great recipe blogs that a couple of my new favorite bloggers have in addition to their every day blogs (lots of blogginess in this sentence). Meredith’s even has meal plans. Kelly’s has cool pictures to go with the recipes and is Paula Deen approved ;).  Both have great ideas that sound delicious! I’m taking several of the recipes I found with me to the grocery store (if we make it out of the house before swim lessons!) to get the ingredients so we can try them!!

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