Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Sides: Sweet Potato Balls

 This is VERY MESSY, if you're brave, you'll get some kids to help.  Grab a marshmallow, mush sweet potato all around it, then roll in the coconut-cinnamon.  Now lick all your fingers!!!

Very important to put a yam in the mix, not so much for taste, but for color.

Everyone has their favorite sweet potato dish.  My mom loves the sweet potato from the can, doused with maple syrup, topped with mini marshmallows and baked.  Is this a generational thing?  My friend Jin said her mom, who I we use to spend holidays with, use to love it too!  The canned sweet potatoes have a sharp bitter, sour taste that I just can't forget.  I hate the stuff.  I hate it so much I can't touch the serving spoon that is used to dish the stuff out.  YUCK!

OK, these aren't pretty, but they are so good!

SIDE STOREY: My sister-in-law, Lee, made an awesome sweet potatoe casserole one year and it was "off the hook", so good that we make this all the time, not just the holidays.  Besides plain roasted sweet potato, this dish was the best I've ever had.  My youngest sister would call from London for the recipe at Easter.  She doesn't call for it anymore, because I think we all have it memorized.  Althouh Lee has moved away, my family makes the Sweet potato casserole every year, and lovingly refer to it as Lee's Sweet Potato Casserole.  This year my sister Cindy will be making it for Thanksgiving Dinner.  YUM!

OK, back to my Sweet Potato Balls...This is not a new recipe for me. I made Paula Deen's recipe a few Thanksgivings ago.  Paula is always good for a sticky, sweet, yummy sweet potato recipe, right?
Was it a hit?  Not as a side dish, but definitely as a dessert. 

Sweet Potato Balls
adapted from Paula Deen

3 large sweet potatoes
1 large garnet yam
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
Juice from 2 mandarin oranges
Zest from 2 mandarin oranges
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups shredded coconut, sweetened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large marshmallow per potato ball

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the potatoes until tender, then peel and mash them. Stir in the brown sugar, orange juice, zest and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, toss the coconut with the sugar and cinnamon. Press mashed potatoes around each marshmallow, creating a 2 to 3-inch diameter ball. Roll the balls in the coconut mixture.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully for the last few minutes of cooking; the expanding marshmallows can cause the potato balls to burst open.

Sweet potato balls oozing with marshmallow...mmmmmm!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When you're snowed in, go to your sunny place...

The snow has arrived here in the Northwest, so what is the best way to just accept winter?  Reminisce about a sunny place!!!  It's hard to believe that just a week ago, I was in warm and sunny Arizona.  Chilly in the morning, but worth sitting out waiting for the sun to come out.  John and I were freezing walking over to the fitness center, but right after our workout, we sat outside and watched the sun come up...priceless.

I have to bring up the food.  We stopped into the Starbucks for the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but debated over where to go to breakfast.  I'll be honest, I am not a fan of the "in hotel" breakfast, unless it's room service.  What's the point?  Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised.  I went straight for the buffet and didn't turn back. 

There were 2 levels of breakfast buffet, my son went with the "everything" buffet, which included everything I had plus a few Mexican favorites like pozole, AND the usual items like, eggs, sausage, bacon.  In addition, you can order anything else you miht want on the menu.  Ty had everything at the buffet and then ordered a Tex-Mex Eggs Benedict and French Toast.  Great Breakfast!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Good Morning Artisan Snack...Protein

I try to workout every morning before work,
if I forget to pack yogurt or almonds or something...I'm starving!!!

Starbucks Artisan Snack: Protein

Go to Starbucks!!!
I'm not a "gotta have my Starbucks" everyday kinda girl, but I am thankful they provide SOME healthy stuff.

Egg, apple, grape, cheese, multi-grain roll and peanut butter...Perfect!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Smoothie: "Green" Blueberry-Banana-Flax

It's the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I am NOT sleeping in.  My son will be coming home for Thanksgiving and I am so excited to have him home.  My husband and I actually saw him last week down in Arizona, but this will be his first time home since he left for college.  OK, Today I have to roast sweet potatoes, wash linens (so Ty will have a nice comfy, fresh bed to sleep in), hang the "Fall Leaf" garland on the door, figure out what goes into a Cranberry-Apple Smash, try to find my corn pudding recipe (for the 20th - not kidding - time), pick up the house...but before I do all that, I need to have get in a quick workout.

No coffee for me this morning, I'm going to need something with a little MORE.  I have made something much better...A SMOOTHIE!!!
(OK, as I was posting, I just noticed it's snowing outside.  Brrr..)

This is what I put in my smoothie:
1 very ripe banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
2 T ground flax
1/2 cup Activia (I know) vanilla yogurt with fiber
2 T Very Green (or Greens+)
Add a little water if it's too thick.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good Morning Mosaic Cafe, Tucson, AZ

Mosaic Cafe, what can I say? I spent a great morning with my sister-cousin Melissa, the last day of my visit to Tucson, AZ. I'm a lot older than my cousin Melissa. I first met her when I was in high school one summer. Super cute and very chic for a baby...silver bikini with a matching jacket, no kidding.
Anyway, I have many fond memories of Melissa. She use to live in Southern California and I saw her a few times when I was attending University of San Diego. Well, now Melissa lives in Tucson, Arizona. My son attends Univeristy of Arizona, so Melissa is like a big sister to him.

OK, here's the deal. Melissa & I love FOOD. Seriously! We love all food if it's GOOD FOOD!!!
Melissa ordered the Huevos Rancheros, a specialty at Mosaic Cafe and featured on the FoodNetwork. I snuck a bite...yum.
OK, I had the menudo. Forget what you've heard, this stuff is awesome. The server brought the condiments first, she made sure to tell me the peppers are VERY HOT. Just how I like it.
Yes, it's tripe, but it's so damn good. The broth is rich and flavorful...mmm!

Teresa's Mosaic Café on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunday, Bloody Mary, Sunday

On my last visit to Tucson, my soon to be cousin-in-law, Toby suggest to go to Hotel Congress for Breakfast. Toby's fiance is my cousin Melissa. Melissa & I love to eat. Do I dare trust Toby's judgement and go to Hotel Congress for breakfast?
Well, if I had not gone to Hotel Congress, I would have been VERY SORRY. I think this is my favorite place in Tucson. Very Hip, Cool, and possibly haunted! Hotel Congress just smells of the old Wild, Wild West.

I have to admit, until that morning, I was a little underwhelmed with strip mall after strip mall that Tucson had to offer. I saw chain restaurants that I thought were out of business, but no, they are thriving in Tucson. If my son was not attending University of Arizona, I don't think I'd come back to Tucson. Sorry... I don't mean to be a Seattle snob, but I kept feeling like there was no character in Tucson. Thank you God for Hotel Congress.
As I sat in the lobby, I thought to myself, "I can't wait to come back!!!"

OK, one other cool thing at Hotel Congress, the Lobby Bar. All they make is Bloody Mary drinks. I couldn't wait. So your start with the menu and then the show begins.

I'm not the authority on the Bloody Mary, I'm really more of a Mimosa kind of girl, but a custom made Bloody Mary, now you're talking!

First of all the bartender was only offering vodka, however, I'm allergic to vodka. I asked for gin and the bartender whispered, "I prefer Gin myself". Ah, we speak the same language.

I can't say that the condiments I chose are for everyone, but they sounded good at the time.I'm not saying this was the best Bloody Mary I have ever had, however, this was one of the coolest places I've ordered a Bloody Mary and the bartender was AWESOME!

Cup Cafe (at Hotel Congress) on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cherry Walnut Cookies

So, I made pumpkin pancakes and I still have a big can practically full. I was going to make oatmeal cookies, but took a little detour.

I recently bought some dried organic cherries and I don't know why I bought them. The little old man said they are "all organic, great with everything". OK, the cherries were $7.66 for maybe 1 cup of dried cherries. I suppose if the cherries weren't dried I'd have a whole bowl of cherries and feel I was getting my monies worth...anyway.

My point was, I wanted to make use of some of the items that are in the cupboard and refrigerator, so nothing went o waste, however, I needed to make something a little healthy. Add flax, add oats, a few spices...voila!!! Yummy seasonal cookies. Not bad. I plan on having a few of these little pumpkin-oat gems in my gym bag everyday this week. Hopefully, they will stop me from eating left-over Halloween candy.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cherry Walnut Cookies
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups oats, uncooked (quick or old-fashioned)
1/4 cup ground flax
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon clove
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice,baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin, beating until smooth.
Scrape down the bowl again to make sure everything is well combined.
Stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.
Stir in any additions you are using.
Drop by heaping tablespoons (or medium-size cookie scoops) onto lined cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
Bake for about 13 to 15 minutes or just until the edges of the cookies are golden brown and the centers are set and no longer look like raw dough.
Cool on baking sheets for a couple of minutes then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
This recipe yields about 48 pumpkin oatmeal cookies.


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