Thursday, September 16, 2010

So Saucy

{Green Bean Casserole}

I have a new secret sauce. I think it's pretty great, but my hubby absolutely loves it. He's always had a taste for creamy sauces ~ alfredo, bechamel, creamy pesto. Basically, if there's cream in it he loves it. Of course this hasn't always worked out so well for him. I mean, a busy dad can only squeeze in so many runs to stay ahead of the cream sauces. You know what I mean!

This creamy sauce isn't actually creamy ~ its texture comes from someplace other than cream. It has very little fat and lots of flavor, not to mention a dose of protein and fiber. So far I've used it with veggies and as a pasta sauce. Success, success, success! I plan to continue adapting this recipe for as many uses as I can. Tonight I'll share my basic recipe, and I'll share a few of my variations soon.

Consider trying it out. I think you'll be surprised how flavorful and satisfying it is ~ especially when you don't feel like running off a real cream sauce!


Garlic and Herb "Cream" Sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can canellini or white kidney beans, undrained
  • Up to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Up to 2 tsp. of dried herbs (try thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, or a combination)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
Place all ingredients in a blender (or use a hand blender) and blend until the sauce is smooth and creamy. It's that simple!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Announcing. . .

I'm pleased to announce the winner of my first giveaway for CSN Stores. Meeyeehere of Mississippi won the gift certificate. Congrats!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Le Menu

I have been a vegetarian for many, many years. As a young teenager I endured my fair share of teasing, and I encountered many situations where my only food option was to remove sausage or pepperoni from pizza and simply ignore the traces that stayed behind. Even in law school where I was surrounded by large numbers of vegetarians, the veggie-friendly options frequently ran out at school events or wasn't up-to-snuff to begin with.

As a result of countless bad experiences, I am always so grateful when an event is veggie-friendly and when it is done well. Last Friday I attended one such event ~ an evening garden party. There was a live band and a full bar, and the the party was all-around great.

There is no question that the meat-eaters dominated at this party. And, as far as I could tell, the meat-eaters were well taken care of. There were giant prawns, chicken satay, and lamb, all of which appeared to be accompanied by a scrumptious sauce and other appropriate adornments.

My expectations were low for the veggie fare, but it turned out to be both abundant and great. The veggie-friendly menu included:
  • Mango salad rolls
  • Pizza with blue cheese and pear
  • Pizza with onions, tomatoes, and feta
  • Heirloom tomato bruschetta (garden-fresh tomatoes, with top-notch olive oil ~ yum!)
Add some amazing chocolate cupcakes, butter cookies, truffles, and brownies, and it made for a great edible evening. It is so wonderful when a menu gives veggie fare the attention is deserves, and I know that the meat-eaters probably appreciated the variety, too!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pizza Remix 3

It's been a while since I blogged a Remix recipe. These are my simplest, easiest, most basic combinations of ingredients. I love to re-create tacos, pizza, and sandwiches in new or different forms. Very often the meal that results is fantastic, despite its simplicity. Do you do this too? If so, I'd love to hear about some of your creations ~ feel free to leave a link in the comments.

Whole wheat pita (or substitute white)
Tomato sauce
Shredded mozzarella
Crumbled feta
Pre-sliced cremini mushrooms
Pine nuts
Red pepper flakes

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Doing More

I've done it. Finally, I've done it. I sat down and I watched the movie Food, Inc. I'm not sure what took me so long, really. I guess part of it was that I knew what I was in for. I've read several Michael Pollen books and generally know that I don't like the way the food industry operates.

As it turned out, most of the movie I had heard or read before. I was still shocked all over again. The difference here was that in most cases I had never seen images of the food industry's icky business before. And the images are powerful.

The movie left me feeling very unsettled. It re-affirmed my family's choice to be vegetarian, but it also left me feeling that we should do more. The problem is that I haven't figured out what "doing more" means yet. For now, I'm pondering. Pondering where my food comes from and where I wish it came from. Afterall, I like that food is so convenient. I have no plans to grow all my food in my backyard. But surely there are some better ways to get food ~ better ways to grow it and better ways to buy it.

If I reach any firm decisions on how I plan to "do more" then I'll be sure to share. In the meantime, I'd love to know what others thought after seeing Food, Inc. or learning about the same food issues from other sources. Did it change how you ate? Did you find ways to do more?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Don't Forget!

My giveaway for CSN stores is still in progress. Click here to enter anytime between now and the end of Friday. Good luck!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Make-Ahead Favorite

I have a new make-ahead recipe that I love. I can't wait to have an excuse to eat it again! I made it for my graduation party and for the baby shower a few weeks ago. It's a strata, which is a dish made with bread, eggs, and cheese.

I love that stratas are hearty enough to satisfy full-time vegetarians and carnivores alike. Can you see why?

This recipe is stellar ~ it appeared on both Smitten Kitchen and Annie's Eats, two of my favorite blogs. You layer the bread, spinach mixture, and cheese in a pan much like you would layer a lasagna.

Then you pour the egg and milk mixture over the top and let it chill in the fridge overnight. The custard soaks into the bread and the flavors mingle a bit. In the morning the strata is oven-ready, making it so much easier to get brunch on the table.

And the flavor of the spinach and gruyere cheese is . . . well, yum! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


Spinach and Cheese Strata
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Annie's Eats
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups onion, finely chopped
  • 2 (10 oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • ½ tsp. pepper, divided
  • Dash freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. prepared Dijon mustard
  • 8 cups cubed French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 oz. coarsely grated Gruyere (about 2 cups)
  • 2 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 2/3 cup)
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2¾ cup milk
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and the nutmeg, and continue to cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the spinach, remove from the heat and set aside.

Butter the inside of a 2½-3 quart baking dish. Layer the bottom of the dish with one third of the bread cubes. Top with one third of the spinach mixture and one third of each of the cheeses. Repeat these layers twice more with the bread, spinach and cheese.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, the remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard. Whisk together until blended. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and spinach layers in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, 45-55 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Game Prizes sans Perfume

At the baby shower I helped plan a few weeks ago I was in charge of buying or making prizes for the shower games. Since we had just as many men as women coming, my big dilemma was what exactly a "game prize" should be. My online search told me that the most appropriate shower prizes include: lotions, scented candles, sachets, and lip gloss. These options clearly wouldn't do ~ I didn't want the guys to bolt, afterall! Then I thought about chocolate, but we were already having chocolate cake and chocolate favors.

In the end I made up a double batch of my homemade salsa (recipe here), which these friends have always enjoyed.

After adding a little cuteness, I felt like I had some very respectable game prizes to offer. No makeup or girlie scents in sight!

I'm happy to report that the guys did not bolt from the party. We had an all-around great time!

Friday, September 3, 2010


I'm not sure why, but the last few months have been loaded with "life events" ~ baby showers, bridal showers, graduations, bachelorette parties, birthday parties, and then more baby showers. These are some of my favorite things in life ~ I adore celebrations of any kind, but especially celebrations of such wonderful milestones.

Two weekends ago (I'm still catching up on my posting!) I helped plan a baby shower at the home of my lovely friend Nina. The parents-to-be are expecting a boy, and we went with a jungle animal and Noah's Ark theme. We served brunch foods, which was one reason that I was worried about serving so many egg dishes smack dab in the middle of an egg food poisoning scare. Fortunately nobody complained and nobody got sick! It turned out to be a wonderful shower and a wonderful day all around.

I was in charge of getting a cake that went with our theme. The cake turned out pretty well, but it was harder to draw the animals from the partyware than I expected. With chocolate cake and fudge filling, at least I can say it tasted great!

These are flowers from my yard:

Favor boxes filled with Godiva chocolates:

I'll share more pictures and recipes in the next few days. Happy Long Weekend!

Still Excited...

I'm still super excited! My first giveaway, which is being offered by CSN Stores, ends next week. Don't forget to check it out!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

More Maui Favorites

I think it's fair to say that three of my favorite things in Maui were also some of the simplest:

- Check out this fruitstand and deli in Lahaina called Take Home Maui. We enjoyed their smoothies on several occasions. The fruit is so fresh that they tasted nothing like what we can find back home. You can also order farm fresh produce delivered straight from Maui to your doorstep.

Ice cream
- Our guidebook recommended the locally produced Rosalani's Ice Cream, so we were thrilled when they served it at the Plantation House Restaurant. Although the town of Lahaina where we stayed seemed to have an ice cream shop on very corner, I can honestly say that Rosalani's was some of the best I've ever tasted. Their website has a convenient list of the restaurants and stores where you can find this local treat. The passion fruit sorbet at the Plantation House Restaurant wasn't bad either!

- From the freshest fruit juices to the perfect flower adornments, Hawaii knows how to do cocktails. One of our favorite stops for cocktails was the Happy Hour at Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina. We had top-notch Mai Tais and a full meal, including the best macaroni and cheese we've ever tasted. Plus, the staff won us over by giving our daughter a crab toy to play with.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My First Giveaway!

I am super excited to announce the start of the very first giveaway on Appetite for Conversation!!! CSN Stores will be giving one lucky reader a $40 gift certificate to use at any one of their 200+ online stores. That’s $40!!! Just for being one of my readers!!! I hope you can tell how excited I am!!!

There’s something for everyone at the CSN sites. Need a new dining table? They've got it. Hoping to adorn your dining table? They have that too. Maybe you need more help with kitchen items? Home decor? Baby items? Look no further. They've got it all. And... many products are on sale right now and certain items even come with free shipping.

{Nordicware Pumpkin Bundt Pan found here}

There are several ways you can enter, but please note that the giveaway is limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada. For each entry leave a comment on this post telling me that you’ve entered. You can:
  1. Subscribe to Appetite for Conversation in a reader
  2. Become a Follower or Friend of Appetite for Conversation on Foodbuzz
  3. Link to an Appetite for Conversation recipe, post, or this giveaway post on your own blog
  4. Follow Appetite for Conversation on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway
  5. Leave a comment letting me know what you would buy with the gift certificate from CSN Stores
This means you can enter up to 5 times! Just don't forget to leave a separate comment here for each entry. The giveaway will end Friday, September 10 at 11:59pm PST, and I will announce a winner Monday, September 13.

Good luck!

Disclaimer:CSN Stores will provide one gift certificate to one of my readers, and I am not receiving any compensation for this post.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template 'A Click Apart' by 2008

Back to TOP