Snacking, LHJ Style

March 12, 2012 at 11:03 am , by

Staff Snacking

Here in the LHJ offices, we are an army of snackers. My seat directly next to our communal snack basket confirms this – in the hours just before lunch and sometime after 3pm, when blood sugar levels begin to fall, LHJ staffers (see them in action, to the right) start wandering over to inspect the various bags, tins and boxes on offer. Between product samples, frequent test kitchen recipe results, and generous foodie staff members, we’re lucky to have a pretty bottomless supply of treats.

Although folks around the office are flexible and gracious with regard to our snack situation, it’s not overly difficult to gauge the real winners – a select few snacks manage to cause a feeding frenzy of sorts, disappearing almost as quickly as they arrive.  Over the last couple of weeks, the following treats have been some of our absolute favorites:


Popcorn_Indiana_Smoked CheddarPopcorn, Indiana Smoked Cheddar Popcorn

“This popcorn rocks!” exclaimed Louise Sloan, LHJ’s Senior Articles Editor during a recent afternoon snack session.  Sure, cheesy popcorn isn’t necessarily a new concept, but this fancy-pants variety by the snack experts at Popcorn, Indiana is unique – packed with real-cheddar flavor and a solid dose of smokiness, this version is an ideal solution to any savory snack cravings.

Find this delicacy near you using the Popcorn, Indiana store-finder.


Pretzel Bites All Flavors2

Edward Marc Pretzel Bites

These irresistible chocolate covered pretzels are an all-time office favorite. And although we love all four varieties of these addictive treats, the peanut butter version trumps them all.  Each of these crunchy, salty pretzels is shrouded with a creamy layer of chocolate and peanut butter, then drizzled with – you guessed it – MORE peanut butter. If you get your hands on a bag of these, you may want to think twice before sharing them. Find them online at


Sahale Snacks Valdosta Pecans

Nuts are heavy hitters when it comes to snack foods.  Although many might argue that they’re perfect simply toasted with a dusting of salt, the folks at Sahale snacks have upped the ante with their Valdosta Pecan Nut Blend – cranberries, black pepper and orange zest bring an appealing sweet-savory zing to already tasty pecans.  Try them with your favorite cereal for a sophisticated snack mix. Track this snack down here.


Amy's ShortbreadAmy’s Gluten Free Shortbread

During a recent snack tasting, these were a sleeper standout.  LHJ Creative Director Jeffrey Saks and Editor-in-Chief Sally Lee remarked on the buttery goodness these gluten-free treats, made with a hefty dose of organic almond flour.  One (or three!) of these would be the perfect mate to a cup of tea.  Use Amy’s online store-finder to find cookies at a grocery store near you.


pecan crispiesPecan Crispies from the March Issue of LHJ

When it comes to snacking, there are few pairings more iconic than the home baked cookie and tall glass of milk. If the craving for this sort of snack strikes, whip up a batch of these nutty delicacies.  After sampling more than a few batches during testing, our staff can vouch for them 100%! Find this vintage recipe from The Dessert Collector in our March 2012 issue here.


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Watch A Special LHJ Episode of Life Dare With Liz Nead

March 8, 2012 at 11:37 am , by

We love the show Life Dare: Host and life coach Liz Nead helps women tackle challenges big and small to—as she says—”put some life back into your life.” Amen, sister! So we knew we had to team up with her for our April story on mental flexibility, “Go With The Flow.” Our story is all about trying to relax and be less rigid about the little (and big) things in your life, so Liz found a woman who needed a little help loosening up and produced a special episode for us. Guest Lisa isn’t a big fan of foods with weird (to her) textures and flavors–slippery, raw, and spicy foods were just not her thing. But she was ready to break out of her habits—with a little help, of course.

Watch Lisa as she faces her food attitudes on camera. They explore raw foods with chef and nutritionist Sheree Clark (can you really put sweet potato with pineapple in the juicer?), slippery foods at Django in Des Moines (Lisa doesn’t want to gag on oysters in front of you!), and spicy food with Chef Brandy Lueders (spicy Indian food can be really hard on your stomach). Slippery, raw and spicy—will Lisa make it through all three food experiments and leave her old food routine behind? Watch now, above (or see it big here).

But wait, there’s more! (Because if you watched that fun episode, you probably want to tackle your own challenge, right?)


My Life With A Celebrity Chef (Age 5)

March 8, 2012 at 1:06 am , by

“If you speak to me disrespectfully one more time, you will not be allowed to cook for a week,” I told my son in my best dispassionate, Dirty Harry “Go ahead, make my day” voice. His babysitter, who was on the way out the door, shot me a “WTF” look. I was threatening a 5-year-old with the terrible punishment of not being allowed to cook dinner for a week? Were we in Bizarro World?

Um, I guess so. I don’t know—it’s just the way things are these days at my house. My kindergartner has always loved to cook (check out the video of him making pancakes at age 1 and my blog post about his surprisingly good radish soup), but lately he’s become downright obsessed. And more than that, Scott’s suffering from, shall we say, a slight overabundance of self-esteem? It’s like I’ve suddenly become Bill Buford, author of the wonderful memoir Heat, which is about spending a year working in Mario Batali’s kitchen, getting schooled—and yelled at—by the famous chef. Scott, of course, is Batali.

“Most kids my age don’t know how to cook, but I’ve practiced a lot so I can,” he’ll say proudly. “That’s right,” I’ll reply, watching as he expertly cracks and scrambles eggs or slices up some potatoes with a disposable plastic knife and sautées them in olive oil with garlic, fresh herbs and a touch of freshly ground black pepper. (His idea.) But then I’ll come up against his inner Batali. I’ll give him some basic guidance or I’ll hand him an ingredient, and he’ll rebuke me: “Mom. I’M THE CHEF. Chefs don’t have people helping them!” Oh my goodness, the tone! I tell him that real chefs actually DO have lots of people helping them. And that he is not to speak that way to his mother. What I don’t tell him is that real chefs often have the same imperious attitude. They’re just a little older and wield a lot more financial power over their kitchen companions.

Night before last he had a bit of a come-uppance. Read more

Win a Giada De Laurentiis for Target Prize Pack!

March 1, 2012 at 8:00 am , by

Do you love chef and Food Network personality Giada De Laurentiis as much as we do? She graces the cover of our April 2012 issue—which officially hits newsstands on March 13th—and in her interview with us she opens up about her adorable 4-year-old daughter, the importance of friends and family, and her passion for cooking. She also shared exclusive recipes from her new cookbook, Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner, which comes out on March 27th. We loved her cookbook so much that we decided to we decided to give away a copy and throw in over $300 worth of products from her Target kitchen line, including a 10-piece cookware set! Click through the slide show below to see all of the products we’re including in the prize pack, and enter to win by leaving a comment below. Good luck!

Official Rules


10-Piece Professional Series Tri-Ply Clad Cookware

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Margaret Durante’s Nashville Diaries

February 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm , by

This month’s installment of Margaret Durante’s Nashville Diaries finds the up-and-coming country star answering our reader submitted questions from one of her previous guest blog installments. Watch our fun video chat with Margaret (and get a quick tour of her recording studio in Nashville) to find out everything from her thoughts on those who shoot to instant stardom on American Idol to her varied musical influences, her love affair with the snooze button and her most recent healthy snack obsession, hummus, which she claims she would eat with a spoon if it were socially acceptable.*

Margaret is gearing up for her next single, “I Ain’t Your Mama,” to hit radio next month. The playful and sassy number is the first release off of her forthcoming full-length CD, tentatively titled Better Now, which is being produced by James Stroud (Tim McGraw, Chris Young, Toby Keith). So while we all wait for those musical goodies, go grab yourself an edible goodie (hummus, anyone?) and continue on after the jump to watch our video Q&A with Margaret.

Note: I checked with LHJ food and entertaining director Tara Bench, and we both say acceptable or not, we’d be right there with Durante eating the stuff by the spoonful. Bench’s creative but less fanatical serving suggestions include whisking a spoonful into a lemon vinaigrette to make a creamy dressing for salad or grilled chicken, or spicing it up with some hot sauce and spreading it on an egg sandwich for breakfast.

Read more

Home Baked Comfort Giveaway: Best Cookbook Ever! (she never says that…)

January 12, 2012 at 8:00 am , by

Before you read further—you should post a comment below to enter to win a copy of this super amazing cookbookHome Baked Comfort, by Kim Laidlaw, (we featured it in the February issue of LHJ).

After many years cooking professionally I’m pretty skeptical about cookbook recipes. Sure, I have favorite chefs and authors that I love, but for the most part I rarely find 100 percent success with cookbook recipes. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of cookbooks—truthfully I’m thinking about how my collection is getting unruly (hoarder level perhaps). But when I cook from these lovely books, there’s usually some tweaking I have to do with amounts, flavors or cooking times.

Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist or have high expectations, but when I try a recipe I want it to work! Call me crazy.

I love Home Baked Comfort, the beautiful images, the variety of baked goodness, the perfection that happens each time you try a recipe…you get the idea.

Oh, I also failed to mention I love pretty much any baked good that’s put in front of me, so again, Home Baked Comfort sort of works for me on that level as well. It’s also fun to see contributors from bakers all across the country. Even bloggers like the talented Smitten Kitchen and the amazing Bakerella (see our Q&A with her here) have tasty treats inside.

I think, of the recipes I’ve tried so far the Lemon-Blueberry Drizzle Bread and the Homemade English Muffins are my favorite. However the Bacon-And-Egg-Breakfast Tarts and the Gooey Cinnamon Rolls (with a touch of orange, mmm) were darn close. And not to be left out, homemade toaster tarts anyone? (Check out the video!)

Even if you don’t win one in our giveaway, you’ll want to own this cookbook.

Your friendly food editor

Full contest rules.

Ladies We Love: Chef Tiffany Derry (and a holiday recipe!)

December 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm , by

Chef Tiffany Derry's Gnudi with Brown Butter, Peas and Mushrooms

How does chef Tiffany Derry (of Top Chef fan-favorite fame) handle holiday parties for her 70-person (!) family?

“My grandmother is really the only one who can wrangle all of us,” she says. “But I know you also need to plan ahead and make as much as you can the day before. That’s why I love my gnudi pasta dish—you can roll the balls and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. Then all you need to do is boil some water, grab a sauté pan, and you’re good to go.”

If you’ve never heard of gnudi, it’s an addicting “naked ravioli” dish (click here for the recipe). Tiffany serves a variation with oxtails at her new restaurant in Dallas, Private Social, but for for the home cook, she’s created a recipe that swaps in easy-to-use mushrooms to complement the savory, gotta-have-it brown butter, and of course, lots of cheese. That’s why she’s teamed up with Sargento—the makers of the natural, unprocessed cheeses Tiffany likes cook with—this holiday season. When the cheese is the star of your dish, quality and flavor matter!

“When you cut into it and you see the melting cheese, you think, ‘Oh yeah, it’s going to be good!’ ” Tiffany says.

Cheese bites not enough to cure your Tiffany fix?  We also asked the chef to spill some of her hopes and dreams with our Ladies We Love questions:

What makes me a lady:
My southern hospitality charm.

Favorite guilty pleasure:
Foie gras. I’m not a big dessert or chocolate fan, but if you give me some foie gras … oh my gosh. I tell people in my group, if we order it for the table, it’s okay if you don’t want any!

Three things on my life list:
I want to visit Thailand—I love Asian cuisine. In fact, I’d also like to go back to China and study their food for two months. And, if I ever slow down, I would love to have a child.

I could have a super power, it would be:
I would have twin so that I could be everywhere. I’d have one that stays at my restaurant, and one that travels the world and does all of the events. I would have the best of both worlds, and nothing would be lacking.

A lady I admire:
Oprah Winfrey. How can you not? She is the ultimate woman. I love that with hard work and just going after her dreams, she made it happen. And now she has her own network. Are you kidding me? How many people have their own network?

Read more