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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Frozen yogurt can make the day brighter

It says fall on the calendar, but the thermometer has reached well over 80 the last few days. The swamp cooler has been working overtime to keep my classroom cool. Warm classrooms are not conducive to learning so I truly appreciate even the trickle of cool air coming from the vents. Dismissal is miserable – standing outside in the hot sun with no shade. And this morning the doctor couldn’t do anything to help my sore toe. By the end of the day I was tired and cranky.

On the way home the boys and I stopped at Smart Cow Yogurt Bar for a cool treat on a hot day. This is a new place that opened recently by our house.  We’ve been meaning to try it for a while, but haven’t – no particular reason. We went today though because Smart Cow was having a fundraiser for our school.  20% of  today’s total sales will go to our school. We had to go – it’s our school!

I’m not a review blogger. Typically I write about books and my boys and teaching. But I started this blog as a writing experiment and so I want to write about Smart Cow because it’s pretty nifty and it made me happy.

We had a great time tasting different flavors  – there were these nifty little tasting cups so you can try different flavors. We went up and down the block of self-serve machines trying Watermelon Sorbet, Tahitian Vanilla, Thin Mint Cookie, Triple Chocolate, and White Chocolate Mousse sharing with each other. Mom, you have GOT to try this one! Each pair of flavors could be mixed together creating different combinations of flavors – some more appealing than others.

Then there are loads of different fun toppings including cereals, nuts, candy galore, and fresh fruit.

And very large cups to fill.

I decided to go with the Tahitian Vanilla which was more a vehicle for the toppings than a favorite flavor.  I wasn’t so sure about putting Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Heath Bar on top of Watermelon (that’s just me).  The boys and I went a little crazy with the sweet toppings and I was OK with that because it was a special treat. Plus it supported the school. And I got the fat-free no sugar added vanilla!!  And did I say how tired and cranky I was at the end of the day?

I felt much better eating the yummy yogurt topped with Heath Bar crumbles, crushed Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, marshmallows, sprinkles, and Oreo cookies.  Just a little of each – just to taste. Again, pretty tired and cranky.

The boys devoured their extremely chocolatey concoctions, every last drop. They asked if they could have seconds and my initial response was No.  They’d had more than enough sweets to last a week. Then someone said, But you could take some home with you.

Oh. I had really enjoyed the Watermelon Sorbet. The Watermelon truly made my mouth happy.  Yes, happy. And it is yogurt. OK boys, you can get some more but no toppings this time and we’re getting lids to save this for tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that – they filled those cups to the top!

And gosh, wouldn’t that Watermelon taste really yummy with the Tahitian Vanilla…

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The one that worked

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!

The other day I tried to make a chocolate Cool Whip pie and it was a big flop. It was more like a dessert soup than a pie. Tonight’s pie was much, much better.  It still wasn’t as chocolatey as I thought it would be, but it didn’t need to be.

I used 1 box of instant chocolate pudding that was not clumpy like wet sand (this was the problem the other day). I used 8 oz of cream cheese instead of 4. I also made one pie instead of trying to make two. It probably would have been more chocolatey if I hadn’t used the cream cheese, but I enjoyed the flavor. Overall it was a great success. This may be the end of my Cool Whip experience for the summer considering I have succeeded with berries, citrus flavors, and now chocolate.

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Quirky Eggs

There are so many quirky things that I love about Nantucket. Comparing Take It or Leave It treasures found while at the dump. Getting soaked at the beach without going in the water as the fog rolls ashore. Watching funny creatures like horseshoe crabs scurry across the ocean floor. Buying (and devouring) yummy Portuguese bread from the Bake Shop. Walking awkwardly over cobblestones as we cross the street in town. Drinking vanilla cokes from the lunch counter. Eating blueberry pancakes at the Downyflake. The list goes on and on. I added a new one yesterday morning – eating eggs from a lumber store.

Two days ago the weather was iffy for the beach and the kids needed some time apart from each other. My mother-in-law wanted to go on safari and my oldest son wanted to go swimming. We sent our oldest to the beach with friends and then my husband, myself, and my youngest piled into the truck with my mother-in-law. Before we went on our adventure through the undeveloped areas of Nantucket, my mother-in-law made us stop at the lumber store for eggs.  She had heard from a neighbor that you could purchase farm-fresh eggs at Island Lumber on Polpis Road and she wanted to check it out.

We drove to the lumber store and I was sent to purchase the eggs.  I wasn’t quite sure where one would find eggs in a lumber store since eggs just don’t fit under the usual categories – paint, pipes, hardware, lumber. I walked in thinking perhaps they also sold beverages for their customers and there would be a refrigerated case. I looked around but didn’t see a refrigerated case or any other place conducive for holding farm-fresh eggs. Trying hard not to sound like a complete idiot I asked the girl behind the cash register. She pointed to the other end of the counter where I saw a stack of egg cartons and a container that said, “Eggs $4.”  I put my four dollars into the container, grabbed my carton of eggs and walked out giggling to myself – I just bought eggs at the lumber store!

So here is the carton of eggs (minus the two I made for breakfast yesterday morning). I love how they are different colors and sizes, so very different from eggs purchased at the grocery store. I made my sunny-side up eggs and some Portuguese toast.

The yolks were a gorgeous rich yellow color, almost bright orange. I couldn’t believe how wonderful these eggs tasted. Fresh. Flavorful. Phenomenal. From now on I’m going to Island Lumber for eggs on Nantucket!

This was the best breakfast I have had all summer. Well, except for those blueberry pancakes at the Downyflake – those are pretty hard to beat.

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Cool Whip Flop

My goal was to create the most amazing Cool Whip dessert of the summer – a rich silky chocolate mixed with cream cheese fluffed with Cool Whip and supported by a crunchy chocolate crust.

I’m not really sure what went wrong.  Did I use too much milk? Too little cream cheese?  Was the pudding mix too old? Could humidity ruin the thickening agent of the instant pudding? Should I have waited for the Cool Whip to thaw a bit more?

Well, here is what happened…

I purchased all of the ingredients early in the morning.  I found two Oreo cookie pie shells – yummy even if a tad more expensive than the graham cracker crusts. Next, I needed to find boxes of instant chocolate pudding mix. After scanning the shelves, I could only find the sugar-free, fat-free instant chocolate pudding. URGH! My OCD-ness hates it when the store doesn’t have exactly what I need! However, sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pudding was better than no pudding. I finished up my shopping expedition with 8 oz of cream cheese and a 16 oz tub of Cool Whip.  The recipe I was following called for 1/2 of 8 oz. of cream cheese.  I’m not really sure why they didn’t just say 4 oz, but I figured I was doubling the recipe for 2 pies so 8 oz would be how much I need.

Back home again I started to follow the recipe.  I microwaved the cream cheese for 15 seconds, stirred it, and nuked it for 15 more seconds. I used the egg beater which has been my trusty friend this summer and whipped the cream cheese.  I set that aside and began to make the pudding.  The recipe said prepare the pudding as directed using 1 3/4 cup of milk.  Well the directions on the box said 2 cups of milk, but I figured I would go with the 1 3/4 from the pie recipe.  That was when I noticed that I had purchased the Cook & Serve type of pudding, not the instant pudding.  AHHHHH!!!

My mother-in-law heard my distress and came into the kitchen.  I explained my error in shopping and that I needed to go back to the Stop and Shop – ugh.  Parking at the Stop & Shop on Nantucket in July is difficult to find especially in the middle of the day when it is foggy and no one is at the beach.  On any given day I will see more people shopping at the Stop & Shop here then I will see at the Safeway by my house in Colorado right before Thanksgiving. We will shop at 10 o’clock at night rather than fight the crowds during the day.

I could have  just made the Cook & Serve pudding, but that would have added a great deal of time to the pie process.  Once the pudding was made it would need time to cool off otherwise it would melt the cream cheese and Cool Whip.  In retrospect, I would have been better off.

Anyway, my mother-in-law started rummaging through cabinets trying to find boxes of pudding mix. We found two – one chocolate and one vanilla.  In my very OCD-way I explained it had to be two boxes of chocolate pudding – I really wanted to create a decadently chocolate dessert. Her response, “Adapt or die.” Apparently it sounds much better in Spanish. Taken aback by her abrupt yet friendly advice I thought, I can do this.  I can be flexible.  I can make creative substitutions in the kitchen.  So it won’t be as chocolately as I want – it’s all good.

I opened the boxes and thwump a blob of pudding mix the consistency of chunky wet sand fell into the bowl.  OK, this is not good.

I kept saying to myself – adapt or die, adapt or die, adapt or die. I can do this. I can make the pudding. I mixed and mixed and mixed and mixed. Needless to say, the pudding didn’t firm up. Not even after I added the cream cheese and the Cool Whip. It was a liquidy mess. I poured it into the pie shells hoping and praying that after a few hours in the refrigerator all would be well. Nope. I tried the freezer, that didn’t work either.

I brought the two pies (and I use that term loosely) to our friends’ house for dessert apologizing profusely as soon as I handed them to her. After a phenomenal dinner of broiled freshly caught bass, I scooped the soupy pies into bowls and cups. It tasted like a weak chocolate pudding with chunks of Oreo cookie crust.  It wasn’t horrible. It was not even remotely close to what I had imagined.

I learned quite a few lessons from this Cool Whip flop.

1. Read the box on the pudding very carefully to ensure it is truly what I need

2. When the pudding mix comes out in a clumpy mess, go buy more boxes of pudding

3. Add more cream cheese

4. Chocolate cream cheese Cool Whip soup is still better than no dessert at all

5. And most importantly – Adapt or die!

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Ode to Cool Whip III

You put the lime in the cocoanut and drink it all up…

I thought I would do a repeat of my first Cool Whip dessert – which was festively red, white & blue – for the Fourth of July, but I decided to try a new twist.

The leftover Lemon Pie from last week was consumed vulture style – kids and adults swooping in to break off bits of graham cracker crust then scooping up the melted lemony fluff.  This gave me the idea to make a Cool Whip dip!  Plus, a dip would be easier and more fun to eat on the beach!

I followed the same basic recipe for the Lemon Pie, except this time I substituted frozen limeade for the lemonade for two reasons.  I couldn’t find yellow lemonade at the Stop & Shop and I wanted something a little bit different from the other night.

I mixed the whole concoction in Tupperware which I could easily close, pop into the freezer for a while, and then transport to the beach for our big Fourth of July celebration.  Since I was assigned s’mores duty I brought an extra box of graham crackers for dipping.  I also cut up fresh strawberries since we have a few wheat-free individuals.

The dip had melted to a perfect consistency – soft enough to scoop up a big blob without it dripping all over your hand.  We experimented as well.  Cape Cod Potato Chips and Frozen Limeade Dip is awesome.  Tortilla chips and Frozen Limeade Dip is not.

A green so pale it is barely distinguishable

Texture so creamy it makes your mouth smile

The lime so sweet with the hint of tart

Successful Cool Whip dessert number three

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To celebrate my father-in-law’s 79th birthday, my mother-in-law took us out to dinner at the SeaGrille last night. My in-laws both ordered blue fish which is never on my culinary radar. Charlie chose the Fisherman’s Platter because he always goes for the most bang for your buck!

Instead of choosing my usual stuffed shrimp or broiled scallops, I chose something called Free Form Ravioli. The list of ingredients were definitely tempting. I had no idea what Free Form Ravioli would look like, but it intrigued me.

Rather than stuff individual raviolis with ricotta cheese and tiny bits of fish, the chef piled the ingredients on top of each other in one delicious heap. The pasta was cut in rectangular sheets instead of neat little squares pinched together – one sheet at the bottom of the dish and one at the top, not connected. The ricotta cheese, warm, with a sprinkling of herbs, formed the mushy but yummy core. In between the pasta sheets and covering the cheese were huge chunks of lobster, shrimp, and scallops mixed together with mushrooms and tomatoes.  Crispy leak shavings were sprinkled on top adding more flavor and a little crunch to my dinner.

What a brilliant idea – Free Form Ravioli!  I love ravioli, but have always felt that the pasta and the cheese overwhelm anything else one may add – shrimp, lobster, etc. By going beyond the ravioli limits – taking the filling out of the pasta – you can have all of these wonderful flavors mixed together on an equal basis. A bite of pasta, a dab of cheese, a huge chunk of lobster. Mmmmmmmmmm!

Free Form Ravioli serves as a fabulous metaphor for summers on Nantucket. Our days are the same as when we’re home – we eat, we sleep, we cook and we clean. But days on Nantucket are not contained by the mundane in the same way my dinner last night was not contained by small squares of pasta. Summer here is relaxed and full of delights. We stroll through town eating ice cream and stop to converse with a stranger who has a friendly dog. We spend hours on the beach reading, swimming, combing for shells, sea glass and special stones. We linger over our meals with friends and family. We awaken to the sound of the foghorn in the distance. We give our children more leeway – allowing them to walk to town on their own and stock up on sweets at the candy store. We argue and laugh over who found the best treasures at the dump!

Eventually my summer here on Nantucket will end and I will return to the real world.  Instead of bringing home souvenirs maybe I’ll bring home the way I feel – relaxed and taking joy in simple pleasures – and live a little more like Free Form Ravioli…

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An ode to Cool Whip

Yesterday I made two pies

Cream cheese, Cool Whip, powdered sugar, and vanilla

Blended with a mixer older than me

Scooped into graham cracker crusts

Topped with fresh island berries

Eat less dinner

Consume more pie!

Homemade whipped cream is absolutely sublime – a heavenly blend of the most basic, real ingredients.  Cream.  Powdered sugar. Vanilla.   However, I’ve killed as many batches of real whipped cream as I’ve made.  I over whipped.  I under whipped.  I added too much vanilla.  I didn’t add enough sugar.  The cream wasn’t cold enough.  The bowl wasn’t cold enough.  The cream wasn’t fresh.  It just wouldn’t whip!

Cool Whip, on the other hand,  just requires you to cut off the plastic wrapper and open the tub. Voila!

According to Wikipedia, from 1967 until 2010 the only thing dairy about Cool Whip was the sodium caseinate.  In fact it was called a nondairy topping.  Starting last year, skim milk and light cream were added to the recipe, but the amounts are pretty minimal considering the first four ingredients are water, hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup.  Well, at least water is a naturally occurring substance…

Cool Whip allows you to make quick, easy, and fun desserts.  My pies last night were perfect for a summer evening.

Yesterday was an amazing beach day – the sun was warm and shining bright, a blue cloudless sky, the water was a perfect temperature, the kids were busy and more importantly not driving me crazy.  We savored every last minute on the beach, reluctantly leaving around 6:00. As we drove home I began to panic – we had to be at our friend’s house for dinner at 7 and I was bringing dessert which I hadn’t even started yet!  Thanks to my tub of Cool Whip, the pies were made and in the refrigerator before the kids were done with their showers. OK, so it wasn’t the healthiest of desserts but it sure was yummy!

So I have decided that this shall be the summer of Cool Whip using recipes found  online as well as experimenting on my own.

Cool Whip is yummy

A dairy topping sort of

It makes good desserts


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