New Obsessions

I thought I’d share with you two of my two newest obsessions. The first one came as a total surprise. That’s right, I never saw it coming until the moment I found myself reaching for the bag. Once I opened the bag it was all over. I have officially crossed over to the dark side.

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Starbucks. Dark Sumatra.

It all started innocently. My friend and co-worker, Betts, is a hardcore coffee drinker. The darker, the better. I’ve always been the lightweight but I graduated up to Colombian coffee a few months ago. When she makes a Starbucks run she gets me a Blonde and she gets the strongest coffee the coffee shop for herself. But they don’t sell Dark Sumatra. A couple of days later I was grocery shopping and I found the Dark Sumatra on the shelf and on sale and I remembered Betts disappointment so I picked her up a bag. You know, I was being a good friend.

I unpacked my groceries and I was tempted and not at all strong enough to resist. Figuring she wouldn’t mind if I scooped out a little bit, I made a cup of coffee. I didn’t know what to expect but I surely didn’t expect it to be the most satisfying cup of coffee I’ve ever had. Seriously, it was awesome. That was on a Saturday. I had another cup on Sunday. And then one on Monday. And I admit I was tempted to keep the bag…but I bought it for Betts. On Tuesday I gave her the bag. And she smiled a very satisfying smile when I told her that I too have come over to the dark side.

My other new obsession is Bare Naked cookies.

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Raisins, walnuts, cranberries and almonds. How can you go wrong with that? I like to have a little something with my tea at night but I find that cookies usually leave me craving more sweet. Not these cookies. They’re just the right balance. Not a soft cookie, but not a hard cookie, the cranberries and raisins are chewy and the nuts give it just the right amount of crunch and best of all, one cookie is enough.

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Do you have any new obsessions? New faves that you can’t imagine not having?


It’s A Treadmill Day

After days of not working out, today I had to hit the treadmill. While clearing the mega-snow that fell over the weekend could be considered a workout, there is something about a planned, structured workout that makes me feel as if I accomplished something. I hit the treadmill for 30 minutes while I watched Dr. Oz. His show today was about food fraud, which is pretty scary stuff. Fish, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, just to name a few things that are routinely mislabeled.

Over the past few weeks I’ve become more conscious about the food that I buy. I saw a report on 60 minutes about food flavorings. Inside this lab was all these flavors that had been chemically created. I guess I never really thought about it. Until that episode. And a perfect example of my change of thinking was when I was trying to decide on a side dish for a chicken dinner. I wanted something quick and simple. I immediately thought of one of those bag side dishes of noodles and cream sauce. Then I remembered the 60 Minutes episode and how nothing in that package was real. Instead, I remembered that I had my pressure cooker and in less time it would take me to make that noodle side dish, I could make risotto. That’s right, risotto in 10 minutes and no artificial flavoring.

Now when I look at my shopping cart I am seeing less and less packaged food and more whole food. But according to Dr. Oz I shouldn’t fall into a false sense of security because there are companies out there who are looking to rip me off and pass of lesser quality products that do not have the nutritional benefits I’m looking for or that I need. Eating healthfully in today’s world isn’t the easiest thing to do but I know that in the long run it will pay off for me and my family.

After my grocery shopping trip and a quick lunch, on a whim I whipped up a batch of brownies. Now, brownies are not the most nutritious foods but these brownies contain no artificial flavors or ingredients I can’t pronounce. So, in the big picture they are not terribly bad for me as long I eat them in moderation.

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Lemon Bars

The other day I arrived home and found a package of lemons in my mailbox from a friend who lives in California and has lemon trees. Opening the box was like getting a little bit of California. The fragrance that came from an ordinary cardboard box had me thinking of lemonade, flip flops and straw bags. I couldn’t wait to dive in and pull those lemons out. Since I don’t want them to go to waste I immediately started using them.

Aren’t they beautiful?

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First up was a batch of Lemon Bars. Since I didn’t have a recipe I went searching and found one. So I tied on my apron and got to work.

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I zested the lemons.

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I squeezed out 6 tablespoons of lemon juice.

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I measured out all of the ingredients.

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Then I baked the crust. Once that was out of the oven and cooled, I topped with the lemon mixture and baked. Finally I had perfect little lemon squares and each bite was like a little burst of California sunshine.

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The Gingered Lemon Bar recipe came from Fine Cooking. (I have a personal relationship with the magazine.)

Excuse while I serve myself up another Lemon Bar.


Healthy Chick… Meet Mushrooms

I admit it, I’ve been anti-mushrooms forever.  I’m not sure when it started. Growing up we never had mushrooms and I often found the texture of mushrooms unappealing when we dined out. So it’s been second nature for me to either pick or push away any mushrooms on my main dish.

Until now.

I tried a new recipe that was heavy on the mushrooms. And it was delicious!

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Mushrooms.

I served the stuffed squash with a side of spaghetti and spinach in a goat cheese and spinach sauce.

Meanwhile, our baby turkey, BB (short for Baby Bird), popped up outside my kitchen window standing on the patio wall. BB and his/her (?) mom, Stella, appeared in our backyard about two months ago. It’s been fun watching BB grow but I have to say he/she is making it hard for me to even think about roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

Of course, I’m rethinking our main dish for Thanksgiving. It may sound silly, but I don’t think I can roast a turkey with Stella and BB hanging around. That stuffed Acorn squash was pretty hearty.