My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

It is back to reality this week, huh? I have shunned using the internet for as long as possible and it is time to get back into it (at least for a few days).

These last couple weeks have been a bit hectic. I felt like my mind has been constantly racing in order to check items off my huge list. While price limits were set for gift giving, we did not technically set any limits on stocking stuffers. So, I ran from store to store to buy little stocking stuffers for everyone. Juice boxes, fruit snacks and puzzles for the kids, candy and mini bottles of champagne for the adults, protein bars for my dad, and so on.

Luckily, to help us keep energized, I made some Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars from the newest issue of Vegetarian Times. I carried one in my purse so I wouldn’t be tempted to grab something quick and unhealthy for breakfast or lunch.



The key nutritional ingredient in these bars is chia seed. Yep, just like the seeds you use for Chia Pets. Surprisingly, they are full of fiber (7 grams per bar) and heart-healthy Omega-3 fats. I always wondered if those seeds were edible!

In 2008, my former employer held a company-wide contest using Chia Pets. Since I was the designated over-achiever in our department (read: nerd), I was named to be in charge of the Chia. I know it is advertised as being an easy thing to grow, but that was not my experience.



While the seeds sprouted a little in the beginning, I must have used too much plant food or fertilizer and fried the thing out. Pressured to enter our Chia Pet in a contest, I had to come up with a solution to our dead Chia Pet.



Yep, I cut and glued pieces of yarn all over the Chia and turned it into a party Chia Pet. While it did not take home the top prize, my craftiness did land it in the top three.

While I will never try my hand at another Chia Pet, I will continue to use chia seeds in my food. Not only are the seeds great in energy bars, but they can be added to smoothies or yogurt and even used as an egg replacer in vegan baking. Find it in the bulk spices section of your co-op.

Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars

from Vegetarian Times, January 2010
(makes 8)

1 ½ cups pitted dates
1/3 cup raw unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup whole chia seeds
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup raw slivered almonds

Place dates in a food processor and puree until a thick paste forms. Add cocoa powder, chia seeds, vanilla and almond extracts. Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Add almonds; pulse until nuts are finely chopped and well distributed through date mixture.

Spread a large sheet of wax paper on a work surface. Transfer date mixture to wax paper and use paper to press mixture into ½-inch thick rectangle. Wrap tightly and chill overnight.

Unwrap block and cut into 8 bars. Rewrap each bar in wax paper.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Simple Side Dish: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Is it just me or is cooking inspiration lacking in others too? I blame the weather. Who wants to go grocery shopping when the temperature is hovering around zero? I also blame the holidays. Instead of making a meal planning list, I’m making gift shopping lists.

So, instead of trying new ingenious meals, I’ve looked around my kitchen for items to use up. We’ve eaten a lot of hodgepodge meals lately like a trio of side dishes or a small meal with a bigger dessert. One of my favorite recent meals would have to be Roasted Brussels Sprouts alongside Roasted Delicata Squash. Simple, easy, light, and totally local.



We had planned on making a fresh salad from the Brussels sprouts from our winter crop share. However, we did not use them fast enough and they started to wilt. So, after a little damage control (tossing the wilted yellow leaves & halving the sprouts), they were tossed with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and baked at 425° for 25 or so minutes. I grated a bit of Parmesan cheese on top for extra flavor.



The light dinner gave us an excuse for a big piece of pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream. Mmm…delicious!

Monday, December 14, 2009

On Being Sick

I have been in total hibernation and out of touch with the world for four straight days. I barely used my computer, did not leave the house, and definitely did not speak on the phone. That’s right, I was sick. No, I wasn’t suffering the dreaded H1N1, I had your garden variety head cold which put me out of touch for awhile.

Problem is: I’m not very good at being sick.

The first day, I felt the symptoms coming on, but chose to ignore them as if they were a fluke. Just in case, I down a bunch of Emergen-C, super nutritious smoothies and a bunch of liquids.

The next day, the symptoms worsen and I accept that I could possibly be sick. Hating to pass it onto anyone else, I cancel lunch plans with a friend, miss out on the Simple, Good & Tasty event, and skip my networking meeting where Jason DeRusha was guest speaking. Bummer.

I try to rest, really, I do. But, I’m just not that good at sitting still. I alternate reading a book and catching up on chores like laundry, cleaning, and cooking. I even make dinner.


(Cashew Quinoa Stir-Fry from Veganomican)

By the third day, I’m sick of being sick. Being cooped up for too long and not being able to socialize, I’m tempted to go to a friend’s birthday party with my husband, but remind myself that my energy level would only last 1-2 hours (and I’m probably contagious). So, I stay home and read all 579 pages of my book while sitting on the couch. How’s that for sitting still?

By the fourth day, although still tied to the box of tissues and had yet to leave the house, things are starting to look up. I can confidently say, “Yes, I can meet for lunch next week”. My life is no longer on hold. So here I am, finally crafting a blog post and feeling a lot better.

Take that sickness!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bowties with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Last week was quite crazy, but full of great activities. I tried out a few new restaurants, Barbette, Nami, Tanpopo, and BeWitched Deli, tried the new Surly Smoke beer (awesome!), attended the No Coast Craft Fair, and went to a really cool Taiko Caravan (drum group) performance courtesy of Metro Magazine at the Southern Theater.

This week should be a bit more low-key and I’m looking forward to it. We still have a lot of our winter crop share to use and I get to check in on the Tahitian Vanilla Liqueur this weekend.

While we were not able to cook too much last week, we did squeeze in one of my favorites from Very Vegetarian, Bowtie Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.



First I make a sun-dried tomato pesto using home dried tomatoes soaked in hot water for 20 minutes. Blend in basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and water until it has a uniform crumbly texture.

Next, sauté a red onion with strips of portobello mushroom and slices of garlic. Toss the veggie mixture with freshly cooked bow-tie pasta, pesto, and a little water to thin it out.

I love this dish. Not only is it great the first time around, but it holds up well for leftovers too.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chex Mix & Mingle Event

I’m excited to share my experiences from the Chex Mix & Mingle event yesterday. Now before you start thinking that I drank the Kool-Aid, I’m going to tell you right now that you’re wrong. I ate the Chex Mix (hee hee):



I’ve always been a fan of homemade Chex Mix (um, hello to polishing off a whole bag of my mother-in-law’s recipe), but when I received an invite to an event featuring Chex Mix and Katie Lee (as in the one formerly married to Billy Joel), I was a bit apprehensive. I’m not a fan of Katie Lee and figured it was just a gimmick to get me to buy her new cookbook. After doing a bit of research, I realized the event was focused on Chex Mix and considering I’ve been chatting with the General Mills/Betty Crocker folks lately, I figured it would be a great opportunity to “mix and mingle”.



If you haven’t been out to the General Mills campus, you need to visit this place! I passed a Caribou Coffee, a bank, a hair salon, and even a mini-grocery store stocked with General Mills products. Their employees can never say, “I didn’t have time to run to the grocery store”!







The group attending was pretty small, probably under 100 people. We sat in the auditorium to learn more about “America’s Most Trusted Kitchens” and hear a bit from Katie Lee about holiday entertaining.

Interesting Fact: Everyday at 4pm, 50% of consumers don’t know what they are having for dinner.



Afterwards, we were ushered into the gorgeous Betty Crocker Kitchens to try the Top 5 recipes in the Chex Mix Recipe Contest. With names like Lemon Rosemary, Deviled, Chexicago, Pumpkin Pie Crunch & Buffalo, I had to try them all. America voted for the winner, which was announced at the event and it was my personal favorite as well: Buffalo Chex Mix.

I have to admit, I’m now really tempted to throw a Chex Mix party of my own to try all the great recipes again. I wonder which one my friends would vote to win.

We also received Katie Lee’s new cookbook, The Comfort Table, Recipes for Everyday Occasions, and she autographed the books. 



After some more mingling, I was whisked off to another area of the Betty Crocker Kitchens where we got to be crafty. You know me, I love crafts and I love food, so what a great combination. They showed us how to make simple gifts using Chex Mix. It was so dead easy that I put them together very quickly and went back to socializing (and eating more Chex Mix). Here’s a picture of me with one of the gift ideas, a recipe box:


I did mention they are gorgeous kitchens, right?

We walked away with some swag:



Overall, it was a great afternoon and I came home on a post-event high. I met a lot of fabulous people and I even found a few recipes I’m going to try from Katie Lee’s book. I am glad to walk away with some hostess gift ideas too.



FTC Disclosure: I received everything mentioned for free, courtesy of General Mills in exchange for attending the event. I drove my own car and paid for my own gas.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...