Arpita Joshi

Guest Blogger: Catherine McCord of Weelicious

January 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm , by

Catherine McCord, the face of Weelicious.com, was kind enough to guest post for us today. She shares her thoughts and helpful tips for using a slow-cooker to whip up family meals, which is especially useful during this cold season. Weelicious is a site dedicated to recipes and cooking advice for busy people who want to keep their families well fed and healthy, including the littlest ones — she’s a resource to busy moms everywhere!

When I was growing up, I had dinner with my entire family every Sunday night. It’s a tradition that I continue with my own kids. But that doesn’t mean that mom cooks while everyone else sits around playing or watching. I get everyone involved. From cleaning and chopping the veggies to mixing, stirring and pouring, when everyone takes part in the preparing of the meal, it makes the whole process of cooking so much more enjoyable and it is truly what puts the “family” in family dinner.

One of our favorite new recipes is this Slow-Cooker Lentil-Veggie Stew (recipe after the jump). After a leisurely Sunday morning at our local farmer’s market, picking out beans, vegetables and all kinds of fresh toppings for the soup,  my husband, our kids and I head home to work as a team and put dinner together. I find that the more I involve my kids in the process of cooking, the more excited they become about eating the foods we make. And since there are so many family things we want to accomplish on Sunday, I always focus on meals that are easy. Around noon we simply dump all of the ingredients into “mom’s best friend in the kitchen,” the slow cooker, and then head out for an afternoon of family fun. At 5:30pm, we all sit down together, take fresh bread out of our bread maker, ladle some of this healthy, hearty stew into colorful bowls and then everyone gets to top theirs off with a dollop of herbed goat cheese as a finishing touch.

If you’ve never used one, slow cookers can make cooking and cleanup about as painless as it gets. And don’t forget, whenever you’re making anything in the slow cooker, double the recipe so you have plenty to freeze or keep as leftovers for the next few days when you’re running around and don’t have time to cook — something I know most moms can relate to. Who says cooking has to be time consuming and boring? It never is when everyone has a job and gets to be part of the fun. To me, there’s no better way to eat as a family.

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Pestos with Panache

December 1, 2009 at 5:39 pm , by

tartsAs delicious as traditional pesto is on just about everything from appetizers, sandwiches, pastas, and pizzas – sometimes experimenting with flavors will make you appreciate it in a whole new way. Pestos with Panache by Lauren does just this – Lauren’s creations come in 6 different flavors: Fabulous Fig & Gorgonzola , Decadent Dark Chocolate & Ancho Chile, Pumpkin Chipotle, Proscuitto and Smoked Almond, Succulent Strawberry, and Bangin’ Blueberry. My favorites would have to be either the Fig & Gorgonzola or Blueberry, but thBanging_Blueberry_Labeley all have their own unique appeal. Now that the holiday season is in full swing and you’re sure to be thinking about party appetizers and snacks, try a couple of these flavors in place of traditional pesto for a fun alternative that will throw your guests off a bit. Just last weekend, I made appetizer tartlets by baking flaky dough in mini muffin cups and filling them with tomatoes mixed with the blueberry pesto, and topped with goat cheese. While it would’ve been a hit snack anyway, I think the blueberry pesto added an unexpected hint of sweetness that everyone loved – the entire tray disappeared in minutes! Get your own Pestos with Panache here.

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Bogged Down with Ace Of Cakes’ Duff Goldman

October 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm , by

cakeFear not – just because this post is about cranberries doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Thanksgiving (I know you already can’t get over the fact that Halloween is already here). I spent a chilly afternoon in Rockefeller Center, New York, to watching a taping of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes that will be airing tonight at 10pm/9c and 10:30pm/9:30c. For the episode, the host, Chef Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes and his cake team (known for making elaborate, out-of-this world custom cakes) made a cake celebrating cranberries and appreciating the work of Ocean Spray’s growers – who were all on hand at the event to tell their stories about growing up in cranberry bogs and continuing generations of harvesting. While he stood in New York City’s very own” bog”, Duff told me about the event and the incredible cake commemorating it.

bogBefore he became Food Network’s cake-making master, Duff Goldman grew up in Cape Cod – where he says the whole town was surrounded by cranberries and everyone grew up in a cranberry bog. “Bogs were like the cool place to hang out — we would hang out and drink beers there in highschool, we’d meet up there… it was just a huge part of the culture and I have a lot of memories. So it’s a very exciting thing for me, I really wanted to get involved and make a cake when I heard Food Network was partnering with Ocean Spray on this.”

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The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

October 28, 2009 at 10:48 am , by

recipeclubThe Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel is about two childhood best friends, Lilly and Val, who throughout their lives share letters and e-mails with each other, as well as recipes. Food plays an integral part in their relationship — their “recipe club” is made up of recipes that represent sentimental moments of both of their lives, good and bad. I thought the book had a really interesting concept and it even made me wish I had my own foodie pen-pal to trade recipes with.

The recipes appropriately correspond with the time in either girls’ life – when they are younger they share recipes like “Friday Night Fish Sticks” and “ First-Kiss Caramel Almond Kisses,” and as they mature, share things like “Forgiveness Tapenade” and “Good Karma Veggie Samosas.” Lilly and Val are similar yet different in so many ways, and their friendship is one deeply rooted in love but finds some really challenging obstacles as they get older and their personalities don’t mesh as much, and they don’t seem to agree on anything anymore.

I don’t want to give anything away, but the best part about this novel is that it is a cookbook at the same time it is an engaging and intense story about their relationship with each other and with food — you’ll laugh with them through their awkward high school moments and cry with them as they betray each other throughout the story — and at the end when they find something out that will change their relationship forever. And all the while, you’ll find yourself hungry and wanting to run to the kitchen to try out all their favorite recipes — get a copy of The Recipe Club for yourself and for your best girlfriend on Amazon.

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Truffibite: A Truffle and Brownie Combined

October 13, 2009 at 4:59 pm , by

truffiYou’re either really excited about the holidays approaching (it’s closer than you think), or you really just don’t even want to think about it. Either way, I have a gift idea that I’m sure you can appreciate this early in the game…and if you’re stressed out even thinking about it, then just gift yourself this, and you’ll feel much better. Gotta Eat Sweets makes these amazing treats, the Truffibite and Truffipop, that are halfway between a chocolate truffle and a brownie. Sounds like a combination that couldn’t possibly go wrong, right? Absolutely right. I got to taste a few flavors: S’mores (pictured), dark chocolate mint, and raspberry.

When we sampled them at work, I thought it wouldn’t be very dainty of me to scarf down the whole Truffibite at once – self-control fail on my part, they really were delicious. The 9-year-old in me liked the s’more flavor best: The outside was chocolate coated with crunchy, sweet graham cracker goodness, and the inside was soft, fluffy marshmallow inside a milk chocolate brownie. Two other editors tried white chocolate cheesecake and dulce de leche. All I got from the white chocolate cheesecake sampler was an “Mmmmmm” between bites, and I was told dulce de leche is definitely good for someone with a serious sweet tooth. The best part? These Truffibites/Truffipops are made totally out of scratch with all natural, organic ingredients (no preservatives, no trans fats and no artificial colors) so you know you’re getting the good stuff. There’s even a gluten-free version available. They come in a beautiful box with a huge bow, so if you can resist keeping them for yourself, it makes a great gift that’s got a little more personality than your average box of chocolates. Buy some here: gottaeatsweets.com


Cheat Sheet: 5 Things You Missed While Living Your Life

October 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm , by

GourmetMagazineMasthead1. Gourmet magazine will be shut down – and so will 3 others at Conde Nast Publications.

Are you a fan of the epic food magazine? Conde Nast reported losses in the company and announced that it’s closing Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride magazines. Foodies everywhere were shocked and dismayed, especially on Twitter – where Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Riechl herself even tweeted, “We’re all stunned, sad.”

2. President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The internet is in a flurry over deciding whether or not he deserves it – the supporters are filled with pride and the nay-sayers think he really hasn’t done enough in office (or even had the time to do enough) – to get the prize. What do you think?

3. …And then we bombed the moon.

4. Marge Simpson is going to be on the cover of Playboy.

Cute, funny…or just plain creepy? TV’s favorite cartoon mom will be gracing the nudie mag’s November issue cover, and will even have a “sexy” spread of pictures inside. We’re sure Simpsons fans will rejoice, but it sort of freaks us out.

5. And finally, a site with tons of hairstyles.

We know how much our readers love hair stories — but this site won’t show you how to get gorgeous styles. But just for laughs, you need to head over to dontjudgemyhair.com to check out the craziest, most hilarious do’s you’ve ever seen — faux-hawks, mohawks, mullets — and even something called “The Hermit Crab.”


Chef Tom Colicchio’s Advice on Eating Well

October 7, 2009 at 5:40 pm , by

me&tom1Diet Coke partnered up with the The Culinary Institute of America, the American Dietetic Association, and Chef Tom Colicchio (of Bravo’s Top Chef) for their Eat Tastefully campaign, which aims to educate people about eating and living well, and not sacrificing delicious taste and culinary style for nutrition. The campaign features an online guide at DietCoke.com filled with recipes and tips for cooking and entertaining, as well as pop up kitchens in New York. I visited one and got to sit down with Chef Colicchio (I almost squealed like the total fangirl I am) to talk about the project and get some tips.

Our readers are mostly women — busy women who juggle husbands, kids, jobs– sometimes all three at once. What kind of advice can you give them on feeding their families delicious meals that are healthy at the same time?

Making a good meal doesn’t have to be fancy — you can take some shortcuts and still have a gourmet meal ready that’s tasty and healthy. Keep using fresh vegetables, fresh meats, but it’s ok to buy prepared marinades and things as shortcuts. But, after a certain point, you really have to realize it’s less about shortcuts and ways to cut time and more about finding the time. Families need to place more importance on cooking and eating — these days there’s always someone in front of the TV, someone on the computer, someone on their video games — when I was growing up, everyone had to be home before dinner, and everyone had to pitch in. If you get everyone to pitch in and appreciate making and eating food, then you spend less time doing it and worrying about it. Buy fresh food, appreciate the process of cooking and eating, make more time. It’s easier than you think.

That’s good advice — a lot of families these days are too wrapped up in other activities to actually realize that eating well is one of the most important things that need attention. That said, I still want to know — what’s one really simple thing a busy person can squeeze into their food routine every day? Something they barely have to think about but that can really make a difference?

Too often people equate good health with dieting and changing their lives around to diet — you don’t have to sacrifice good taste and the food you like to be healthy. You can incorporate little things like cutting corn syrup out of your diet, eating flavorful vegetables and fruits that are in season…and what’s most important is to walk away before you’re stuffed. We should go by the French diet — eat what you want, eat better, richer tasting food, but in moderation. You’ll get satiated faster than when you try to diet and you’ll enjoy what you’re eating too, which is important.

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