Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Product Placement Wednesday - Amazon Wish List

With this being the last Product Placement Wednesday before Christmas, I thought it was appropriate to go with a "gift" theme. Unfortunately it is too late for this product to help you and your friends & family this holiday season but there is always next year! has an amazing feature - the Universal Wish List. This allows you to create a wish list from the many amazing items on the Amazon site as well as add items from other sites as well. The key to adding the non-Amazon items is the "Universal Wish List Button" that adds to your toolbar with a simple download. This allows you to keep yourself organized as to things you might like and helps your friends and family figure out exactly what to get you for all of the gift giving holidays. You can set up as many wish lists as you like and also decide if you would like to make them public or keep them private. The benefit of keeping the list private is that you can keep track of items you might like for redecorating a room, etc. It is a great companion in that regard to Pinterest. Though Pinterest allows you to dream big (in ground trampoline for the backyard) I tend to keep my Amazon list a little more realistic.

As I mentioned in my previous post "You Shouldn't Have! - A Guide to Gifting," this is a great idea to share with your friends and family and help make the holidays more fun and less stressful! Still not convinced about the wish list? Hopefully this previous entry will still help you give amazing gifts!

I would love to hear from you about the best and the worst gifts you've ever received. Remember you don't have to be a registered user to comment and you can be anonymous if you prefer!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cooking Club, Part 2

A little over a month ago was the second meeting of Cooking Club! As a reminder, the guidelines we are trying to stick with are as follows:

  • Fresh (or fresh frozen) veggies & fruit as much as possible
  • Whole grains
  • Minimally processed food
  • Organic when possible and affordable
  • Lower calorie dishes preferred

All the recipes below are linked back to the source if known and we don't take credit for any of them (even though with our tweaks they are NEW recipes!). We are missing Katie's recipe but hopefully she will send it over and I can update the post. Let us know what you think of these recipes as well as those from Cooking Club, Part 1!

Mia’s Contribution: Eggplant Caponata

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grilling

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons golden raisins

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons sugar, plus more if needed

1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/3 cup white-wine vinegar

Coarse salt

2 cubes TJ's basil

2 cubes TJ's garlic

1. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; cook stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 4 to 6 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste, cocoa powder, and sugar; cook, stirring, until tomato paste is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant, vinegar, and 1/3 cup water.

3. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is tender and mixture is thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and more sugar (up to 1 tablespoon), as desired.

4. Serve with crostini as an appetizer or over pasta as a meal.

Note: Raisins were not included in our version of this recipe and it turned out delicious.

Jasmin’s Contribution: Quinoa With Toasted Almonds & Dried Cranberries

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 vegan vegetable bouillon cube

1/2 tsp salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Soak the quinoa 15 minutes in cold water

2. Stir the quinoa with your hand, pour off most of the water and drain through a fine mesh strainer

3. Shake dry in the strainer, then set the strainer over a bowl or pitcher

4. Heat a wide bottomed pan on medium heat and add the oil

5. Stir and toast the sliced almonds until golden, then remove from pan

6. Add the quinoa. Stir and toast until dry and turning color

7. Add boiling water, veggie cube, salt, bay leaf and cinnamon stick, and dried cranberries

8. Bring back to boil, cover, turn the heat to simmer, cook for 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed

9. Remove from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on

10. Fluff gently with a fork and serve

Note: Cooked chicken was added to our version to up the protein content of the meal.

Rachael’s Contribution: Slow-Cooker White Bean and Kielbasa Stew

1 pound dried white beans (such as great Northern or navy)

14 ounces kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

5 ounces baby spinach (6 cups)

country bread, for serving

1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, kielbasa, broth, tomatoes (and their juices), onion, garlic, rosemary, and 1 cup water.

2. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 5 to 6 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).

3. Just before serving, stir in the spinach. Serve with the bread.

Note: Turkey kielbasa was substituted for regular kielbasa and the spinach was left out.

Gretchen’s Contribution: Easy Lasagna

1 28 oz. jar plain Ragu or other spaghetti sauce

1 ½ lb. browned ground chuck (or leaner beef)

1 6 oz. can tomato paste

1 15 oz. can tomato sauce

1 lb. low-fat ricotta cheese

1 lb. grated mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese

Lasagna noodles, uncooked

1. Combine first 4 ingredients to create sauce.

2. In 9 X 13 pan: layer of sauce (1/3), layer of noodles, layer of sauce (1/3), layer ALL ricotta cheese, layer ½ mozzarella cheese, sprinkle parmesan cheese to taste, layer of noodles, remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella cheese, sprinkle parmesan cheese to taste.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 50 minutes. If top is dry, add a little more sauce. Let sit about 15 min. before cutting.

Note: Lots of substitutions were made with this dish. Organic marinara was used instead of Ragu. Ground turkey was used instead of ground chuck. Fat free ricotta was used instead of low fat. Low fat mozzarella was used instead of regular. Also the first layer of sauce did not have meat in it and two layers of fresh baby spinach were added after the ricotta cheese and before the final layer of mozzarella. The spinach didn't add much but was an easy way to sneak in some veggies. Next time I would add more spinach. This is also to adapt for vegetarians too. Just leave out the meat!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Product Placement Wednesday - Paper Pots

The holiday season is upon us and time is at a premium! At least that's what I am blaming for the past two weeks absence of Product Placement Wednesday. Speaking of holiday season, if it's holiday season unfortunately it is also cold season. I had one of those last week so it can share the blame with the holidays. Unfortunately I don't have a product to help with the lack of time during the holidays but I do have one that will make your cold a bit more stylish.

Paper Pots are colorful orbs that can hold/hide your tissues or toilet paper while also adding a pop of color to your life! As you can see by the photo above, you can mix and match the tops and bottoms to coordinate with any decor. It is simple to add your choice of paper as also referenced above. Who knew a cold could be so fun!?!?! For those readers that avoid all things BPA, this is made from BPA free plastic.

While available in a variety of stores, the link above will take you to Uncommon Goods.

Paper Pots not enough to make your cold better? Clearly you didn't read my post about Cold FX!