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With Turkey on My Mind

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Written by Peggy Fallon   
Saturday, 16 November 2013

ImageIt's never really too early to start planning for Thanksgiving. It is arguably the biggest feasting day of the year, and therefore deserves some serious contemplation. I admit to stashing inspirational recipes in my Project Foodie Recipe Box throughout the entire year, just so they're all in one place when I actually sit down to plan my menu.

Of course there are longstanding family favorites that simply must be served at every annual dinner. In most families, diverting from Grandma's bread & sausage stuffing or Aunt Carmela's cranberry sauce could start a near-riot. But even working within those perimeters, the Thanksgiving table usually provides a captive audience of adventurous foodies. So let's get started!

Click on the Project Foodie Thanksgiving Recipes link for hundreds of seasonal dishes sourced from only the most reputable publications. Some of the recipes are tried-and-true classics. Others? Not so much. Here are a just a few of the less-than-traditional appetizers and desserts that have tempted us to step out of our comfort zone.

 

Black-Bottom Pumpkin Tart from All You.

Autumn Fruit Pie from Fine Cooking.

No-Cook Pumpkin Chocolate Icebox Cake from Sunset.

Sticky Ginger Cake from Cooking Light.

Super-Simple Pumpkin Tiramisu from Bon Appétit.

Fresh Cranberry Salsa from Coastal Living.

The Great White Pumpkin Cheese Ball from Southern Living.

Pumpkin Soup With Pumpkin Seed-Mint Pesto from Sunset.

Mixed Chicories With Persimmons from Martha Stewart Living.

Salad with Pancetta Crisps, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Pear from Everyday Food.

Recipes to Try: Team Project Foodie's picks from this month's cooking magazines...

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 November 2013 )
 

Bring on the Boos!

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Written by Peggy Fallon   
Sunday, 06 October 2013
Image

It's time to roll out the pumpkins and join in some wicked Foodie fun.

Although most of us associate Halloween with candy, boys and ghouls cannot live on treats alone. Click our Halloween link for hundreds of spooktacular bites to bewitch your friends and family...from morning 'til midnight. What better way to cast a magic spell?

Here are just a few of the devilish delights we've scared up at Project Foodie to bring on the boos this Halloween!

Swamp Chili (Poblano-and-Spinach Posole) from Food & Wine.

"Broken Glass" Cupcakes from Martha Stewart Living.

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn from Cooking Light.

Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies from Cooking Light.

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins from Everyday Food.

Monster Mouths from Every Day with Rachael Ray.

Frankenpeppers from Vegetarian Times.

Mummy Dogs from Southern Living.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 21 October 2013 )
 

School Daze

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Written by Peggy Fallon   
Monday, 26 August 2013

ImageSummer may be drawing to a close, but the heat is on.  No matter whether you’re a parent, student, or teacher, we all need some quick and delish recipes to carry us through the busy weeks ahead.

Without warning, the lazy days of summer have given way to the challenges of carpool schedules, breakfast-on-the-run, and dinners squeezed into that narrow window between after-school sports and the nightly homework drama. Then, before you know it, it’s bedtime (for some)—and time for you to pack a lunch that (hopefully) won’t be offered up in the next-day’s schoolyard lunch-swap.

Food is the fuel that keeps us running, so we may as well make our meals appealing, healthy, and homemade. Here are a few of our favorites—though there are literally thousands more just waiting to be discovered on Project Foodie.  

p.s.

ImageThere’s no reason to cram your lovingly-assembled lunches into a dreary paper bag or rusty old lunchbox. Check out these uber-cool bags (pun intended) from Sachi. It may look like a designer handbag, but its insulated lining keeps all your homemade goodies fresh and safe for hours. It also folds flat for storage; wipes clean with a damp cloth; and holds far more plastic containers than you could ever imagine. Great for picnics, potlucks, and tailgate parties, too!
        

 

Greek Yogurt Fruit Parfait from Health.

Lunch Box Favorite Salad from Vegetarian Times.

Fiesta Veggie Wrap from The Lunch Box by Kate McMillian.

Quick Sesame Noodles from Fine Cooking.

Trail Mix Freezer Cookies from Bon Appétit.

Double Oat Breakfast Cookies from Better Homes & Gardens.

Gnocchi With Quick Meat Sauce from Everyday Food.

Black Bean Burrito Bake from Cooking Light.

Mini Deep-Dish Pizzas from Everyday Food.

Salmon Skewers With Smashed Potatoes from Everyday Food.

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 31 August 2013 )
 

New Spins on Summer

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Written by Team Project Foodie   
Sunday, 19 May 2013

It's no news that summer is just around the corner. But are you ready? Here at Project Foodie we've been busily trying out ingenious new discoveries for the grill; accents for thoughtful entertaining; and a classy way to cool off with indulgence. Take a look at these and you may just find one more reason to look forward to the dog days of summer.

Avoid a Sticky Situation

ImageFood stuck to the grill can ruin any cook's reputation. Likewise when a wad of paper towels bursts into flames as you attempt to clean the grate. (sigh)

Grate Chef® Grill Wipes attach to the bristles of any grill brush and apply a patented high-heat oil that prevents food from sticking. These specially designed fiber wipes are not flammable, which means they can be applied directly to a heated grill. Grill Wipes are also non-toxic and biodegradable. Hello, picture-perfect grill marks! Watch a video of these babies in action. About $8.99 for 18 wipes. Learn more at www.gratechef.com. -- picked by Peggy Fallon

Tame the Flame

ImageThrow away that water pistol. It never worked anyway. Here's a subtle gift for Dad, or for anyone else inclined to send smoke signals throughout the neighborhood. In fact, this is a valuable product for any backyard chef to keep on hand. Made from all-natural food-safe ingredients, FlareDown® is uniquely formulated to instantly attack the grease that causes flare-ups--extinguishing the flame but not the fire. Awarded the Best New Barbecue Accessory at the 2012 VESTA Awards, FDA-approved FlareDown® does not alter the taste of food, and leaves no unpleasant odor or toxic chemicals. It just gets to the root of the problem, quickly and efficiently. Watch a video of it in action. About $5.99 for a 20-ounce spray bottle. Learn more at www.gratechef.com.  -- picked by Peggy Fallon

Going Green in the Summertime...and all year round

ImageIn this age of food allergies and special diets, whenever I host a buffet I label each dish with its name and/or ingredients written on a small place card nearby, just so guests won't have any concerns about what they're putting on their plates. It's an efficient way to avoid a lot of annoying questions (she said graciously); but it also would require a trip to the stationery store to buy a package of tent-style disposable paper place cards. A task I often forgot until the last minute. Until now.

Fits for the Occasion Tiles are erasable ceramic plaques with interchangeable, magnetically-attached motif designs, making them customizable to any setting or party theme. I currently own the cool little pineapples, the traditional colonial symbol of hospitality...but they may just inspire me to host a luau soon. I also swoon over the gold Fleur de Lis motif. And then there are the starfish and the cupcakes and I really might need those green shamrocks someday...

To create a completely different look, you simply detach one motif from the Fits for the Occasion Tiles and attach a new one. In seconds. Magnetic magic. Fits for the Occasion Tiles come in two sizes: sets of six 2.25- x 3.75-inch Place Tiles, and one 6- x 8-inch Message Tile that's also perfect for listing an entire menu. Prices range from $14.95 to $38.95, depending on size and style. Learn more at www.PlaceTile.com. -- picked by Peggy Fallon

Chillin' in Style

ImageHave ice cream bars entered the ranks of designer goods? The release of MAGNUM Gold ice cream bars suggests the answer is yes. With celebrity endorsements and golden accents, these entered center-stage with the appropriate media blitz. But don't be put off by the hype. These golden bars are not only stylish, they taste great! On the inside you'll find vanilla bean ice cream swirled with sea salt caramel. The ice cream has a luxuriously smooth texture, and the caramel accents the fragrant vanilla bean perfectly. The outside is Belgian milk chocolate formed into a 'golden' layer. Sounds heavenly? Trust me it is. I couldn't stop after eating just one...though the actual number I personally consumed remains classified. One bite, and you'll understand.-- picked by Foodie Pam

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 19 May 2013 )
 

St. Helena: Great food and Relaxation

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Written by foodie pam   
Sunday, 21 April 2013

In the San Francisco Bay area we have lots of choices when it comes to a getaway including the city itself, the coast and either Napa or Sonoma’s “Wine Country”.  While I love the city, for relaxation I typically turn to the Wine Country and most often the Russian River Valley area of Sonoma.  Recently, however, I ventured into Napa County with its gorgeous vineyards spreading over hillsides, wealth of wonderful restaurants and several small towns to explore. 

For this trip the destination within Napa Valley was St. Helena, CA, which has shops, restaurants and a lodging all within a 2-3 block area.  I particularly like when I can find a hotel near my dinner choice so I can walk back to the hotel. In St. Helena not only could I walk back to the hotel after dinner but in the morning I could walk to my choice of breakfast options and window shop too.

ImageThe hotel I stayed, the Wydown Hotel, is a 12 room boutique hotel located on Main St.  I love boutique hotels because each has a unique feel and they cater to your every desire.  The Wydown has 4 different room types that vary slightly in price.  The corner rooms are slightly larger and have a view of Main St, whereas the other rooms have views of the neighboring park or inner atrium which shields them from any traffic on Main St. All of the rooms are spacious with King size beds and include a fridge, Keurig coffee maker, day passes to Health Spa Napa Valley, free WiFi, and parking.  The staff is very friendly and helpful with recommendations for wine tastings/tours, food choices, and things to do during your stay.

ImageThe Wydown is named after the owner’s favorite street from his hometown of St. Louis.  As I was relaxing at the Wydown I started thinking of it as the “wind-down” because it is such a great place for clearing the stress of our daily lives starting with its large lounge that has not only comfy seating, reading material, and a fireplace but also a fun puzzle to clear your mind as you relax.  They also provide passes to a nearby spa (about a 3 block walk) so that I could exercise (a necessity given all the food I was to eat during my stay!).  The spa has all the essentials for a great workout including treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, weight machines and even a lap pool.  I didn’t get a massage but they offer them if you feel the urge to further indulge.

I’m not sure I could have handled a massage since I ate way too much of the amazing food at La Condesa the night before.  While I hadn’t been to La Condesa in St. Helena before I was at the La Condesa in Austin Texas. The St. Helena location has revised both their style and food to accommodate the St. Helena feel, which is much more subdued than the bustling Austin Texas location. 

ImageThe food is also more refined that what I experienced in Austin. Chef Chris Mortenson has an amazingly creative palate from which he creates amazing savory dishes like Guacamole with pickled strawberries, queso fresco and toasted pepita seeds; Guacamole with poached shrimp; pastor sauce and pineapple, pork belly huarache with point reyes blue cheese, fig jam, and arugula; and fried shrimp tacos with avocado puree, salsa bruja valentine and chipotle-corn salsa.  The guacamoles were part of the guacamole and salsa tasting that includes 4 different guacamole variations and 4 salsas served with chips.  I was surprised when the poached shrimp guacamole was my favorite, but the flavors really worked well together especially the slightly sweet tang of the pineapple.  The pork belly huarache was another favorite with fig jam and blue cheese pairing perfectly.  In addition to the small plates and tacos, La Condesa has main dishes but I didn’t sample those as I was saving room to try their homemade ice creams.  With creative flavors like bacon, birthday cake, brown sugar banana, coffee chip, cream cheese and blue cheese it was hard to pick only one.  Instead, my husband and I shared 3 – with cream cheese being my favorite and brown sugar banana his favorite.  I really liked the coffee chip too though, especially because you could taste the dark roast coffee that went into it.

ImageAs though all the food at La Condesa was not enough we’d have been lax foodies if we hadn’t sampled some of their more than 200 different varieties of Tequila.  We did a tasting of 3 tequilas and then based on the recommendations of our server tried a shot of one more – an ultra añejo tequila called Don Julio 1942 which is the smoothest tequila I’ve ever tasted.  It was silky smooth with vanilla and tropical fruit flavors with spiced undertones.  After the 4 tequilas it was a good thing we only had to walk (er stagger) a block and a half to the Wydown for a wonderful night’s rest….

If you go:

Wydown Hotel
1424 Main Street
St.Helena, CA 94574
707.963.5100
http:www.wydownhotel.com

La Condesa

1320 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574
http://lacondesa.com/napa

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 April 2013 )
 
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