About Me

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My friends call me the "grammar goddess." Really. ;-) I own a freelance writing, editing and tutoring business. Previously, I served three years as food editor for The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, which kindled my interest in food writing. My other areas of expertise in writing include features, community news, architecture/construction and engraving/personalization. I have a frightening number of cookbooks and watch too many DIY, HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Antiques Roadshow (BBC and PBS versions) shows. And I tweak nearly every recipe I make.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

LÄRABAR: The Demise of Cocoa Mole

My favorite LÄRABAR flavor recently was discontinued. It's a spicy chocolate bar made of all raw/natural ingredients that makes a good substitute for a small meal when on the run (it's even better washed down with a cup of soy milk). I am hugely disappointed that the company isn't making Cocoa Mole anymore.
LaraBar, Cocoa Mole, 1.8 oz., package of 16Making my own version for my use is something I've meant to try for a while, but I've been putting it off. I will try to get some if they're still for sale anywhere to see how my version compares; otherwise, I'll have to go by memory.

Looking on the positive side, yet another company has given me an excuse to step away from the computer and attempt to reinvent a favorite. (The last one was Carob After Dinner Mint Tea, which had no satisfactory substitute for several years, but recently, I found a similar tea by Stash.)

I haven't hunted for other recipes yet, but anyone else has come up with a version of Cocoa Mole, feel free to let me know and I'll post the link to his or her recipe here. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted if I find one that's similar.

Product Review: Health Valley No Salt Added Organic Minestrone

Soup is one of those things you'd think would be good for you, aside from high-fat cream soups. But have you looked at your average soup can label lately? Ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (aka MSG) and, in some cases, about half the recommended daily allowance of sodium for the average adult are all too common on the labels.

One name I've always trusted in the health food business is Health Valley. I decided to try some of the low-sodium soups. The company features some soups with no salt added, just the natural sodium that is in the ingredients. In addition, the soups are organic.

Yes, it's a bit pricey, but overall, I would put this Health Valley No Salt Added Organic Minestrone (spiced up with a touch of my favorite addition, Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic) up against any canned minestrone I've tried. You can always add a pinch of salt yourself, of course, but try it without adding salt first. I think the organic ingredients really make a difference.

Product Review: Terra Krinkle Cut Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt

I'm not sure what I was expecting, exactly, but what I got wasn't it.

Don't get me wrong, Terra Krinkle Cut Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt taste fine, but they're a bit like overcooked sweet potato fries.
This ridged chip is very crisp and a bit thicker than most chips. I like them a bit thinner and less crunchy. If you like thick, crisp chips, try them.

On the up side, they're definitely better for you than sweet potato fries. 

One serving of 17 chips yields 160 cal, 90 mg sod, 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 1 g protein; 11 g total fat  and 1 g saturated fat.

Chili Con Carne á la Mom

My mom doesn't get nearly enough credit; she finds the best way to make something and sticks with it. Take her chili, for example. It's evolved over the years. Now she uses:

3 14-oz cans tomatoes (one with green chilies, one salt-free and one Mexican-style blend)
3 14 to 16-oz cans of beans (any kind of white bean, one can kidney beans and either seasoned black beans or seasoned chili beans works well. (Don't use more than one can of seasoned beans, unless you like really hot chili.)

1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin
1/2 onion, chopped fine 

Saute onions, add meat and freshly ground black pepper in a large saucepan; saute until meat is no longer pink. Add tomatoes and beans, cook until thoroughly heated. (Usually, 20 minutes will do it, unless it's a double batch.)

This is a mild chili, depending on the brand of tomatoes used. Add more chili powder to season if it's not hot enough.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Revolution in Snacking

My all-time favorite appetizer is Olga's Snackers™.  I was appalled to learn how much salt and fat are in those cute little pita crackers and the Swiss cheese spread that accompanies them.

I determined this afternoon that I'd make my own version. It's already 12:30 p.m. and I've made one and tried it. (Now that's a quick snack.) 

First of all, I wanted them to look and taste somewhat like the original. Paprika mimics the red coloring, which probably was achieved from seasoning salt. So, after spraying with Olivio spray to make the seasoning stick and allow for some browning, lightly cover one half a whole wheat pita (but split it first) with enough paprika. Also sprinkle the pita with a bit of  a of Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic and Lawry's Seasoned Pepper (at a guess, it'd be about 1/4 tsp of each spice blend). 

Place on a rack in a toaster oven; set toaster oven to toasting option (or in the case of mine, on bake) and set the dial on medium. As toaster ovens are all a little different, watch the pita so it doesn't burn. Use about 2 tsp. Swiss cheese spread (I tried Kaukauna's version).