Friday, April 19, 2013

Organic Goodness

Clearly, the children will lead us...
This article is a fascinating research study conducted by a middle schooler from Plano, Tx., Ria Chhabra.  It's a great read and encouraging to know that somewhere, children are being taught to think out of the box and not being parked in front of a TV.
Is Organic Better?  Ask a Fruit Fly by Tara Parker-Pope.

I know that my body always feels better when I eat organic food or, at least naturally grown produce.  As a fibromyalgia sufferer, I have sensitivity to anything that is raised with hormones and/or pesticides.  When I eat these foods, I experience a variety of symptoms ranging from intense migraines to inflammation, which then causes bad fibro pain.  However, I've learned a lot about what to eat, where to find it, and how to cook it.  So, I'd like to follow the above article with my wonderful local and organic produce supplier.  I LOVE them!

They used to be Arganica and under that name, I was helping with their blog, but Arganica was purchased by Relay Foods.  Relay is based out of Charlottesville, Va. and is therefore, completely in touch with the farms, ranches, and local producers of the Va., Md., and Pa., areas.  Be careful in what you select though because they do use Safeway and Farm Fresh to source some cheaper (non-organic/non-local) produce as well as regular home goods products.  Each item you select tells you where it comes from and gives some brief information about the producer or distributor.

I can make it a one-stop-shop if I want and they deliver to the DC metro area three times a week.  Also, they deliver to Richmond, Va., Charlottesville, Va., and Baltimore, Md. regions.  Delivery fees can be adjusted to pay-per-deliver or you can select the $20 a month for unlimited deliveries.

Click HERE if you're interested in learning more about Relay Foods.  Also, you get $20 off your first $80 purchase.  If $80 sounds like a lot, then please look at your future grocery receipt.  You'll be surprised at how much you can get from them with $80.  My favorite vendors with Relay are: Carpe Donut, Babes in Woods, Mona Lisa Pasta, The Cheese Shop, Trickling Springs Creamery, and Moctec Mexican Foods.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

FREE! Sun-Maid Cookbook

Sun-Maid Raisins - School Box Sized

So, I'm not the biggest raisin fan, but I love mixed golden raisins and salted roasted peanut.  I also am aware that eating raisins by themselves is, for most, a thing of the past. For some, memories of looking forward to, receiving, and eating from your own personal child-sized box of raisins has been warped with the smell of crayons, chalk dust, and the taste of Elmer's Glue.  However, I have recently discovered the merits of raisins.  Namely, they can be stored safely for a ridiculously long period of time and they have enough natural fruit sugar to allow you to lessen the sugar in certain recipes.  Sure, some raisin-producing companies add sugar, but you can always look for the organic and naturally produced/preserved raisins elsewhere.  Or, better yet, make them yourself using a food dehydrator and/or a convection oven.

In any case, there is currently an offer for a FREE Sun-Maid Cookbook. They actually give you two choices of cookbooks: 100th Anniversary Cookbook or New Taste of Tradition. I'm not sure how great the recipes are yet, but I did order my free copy! Click on the link above or visit:

On past visits to Pennsylvania, I have seen diners offering slices of raisin pie and I feel that I should get in touch with raisin dishes and thereby the country-Americana-homeyness that these dishes seem to offer.  Whenever I see a raisin dish, it seems like a Depression-era throwback.  Not sure why, since I was popping open little red boxes only as early as the 80's and have no experiential knowledge of Depression-era raisins. ;o)

So with that in mind, and just because I couldn't resist, here's an old Sun-Maid Raisins ad that just set me to giggling when I saw it!  


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Toasted Coconut & Chocolate Cheesecake

As requested friends, here it is!!


  • 1 1/2 Cups of Sweetened Coconut Flakes

  • 1 Cup of Pecans
  • 1/2 Cup of Toasted Sweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Melted Butter
  • 1 1/4 Cups of Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons of Cornstarch
  • 3 2/3 Cups of Creme Cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup of Half-and-Half
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup of Malibu Rum
  • 1/3 Cup of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Melted

Toasted Coconut & Chocolate Cheesecake

prep time:
30-45 minutes
cook time:
90 minutes
total time:
4 hours
other time:
Allow to cool for 2 hours, then refrigerate for another 2 or more hours.
Makes 8-10



  • 1
    Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • 2
    Line a cookie sheet with tin foil.
  • 3
    Evenly spread the Sweetened Coconut Flakes over the tin foil.
  • 4
    Bake for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to stir the coconut.
  • 5
    Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the coconut is light brown.


  • 1
    Grease a 9-inch Spring-form Pan.
  • 2
    Make a hot water bath by setting the Spring-form Pan in a Larger Pan. Holding down the Spring-form Pan (you may want to wrap the exterior bottom edge of the Spring-form Pan with tinfoil so water doesn’t leak into the cake and spoil it) so it doesn’t float, fill the Larger Pan with enough hot water to come one inch up the side of the smaller Spring-form Pan.
  • 3
    Remove the Spring-form Pan and set aside the Larger Pan of water while you prepare and bake the crumb crust. (The water will cool somewhat, but that’s okay.)
  • 4
    Combine the Pecans, Toasted Coconut, Brown Sugar, and Flour in a food processor or blender. Pulverize the ingredients, until they are crumb sized.
  • 5
    Add the melted Butter to the crumbs, mix to incorporate, and press mixture into the bottom of the Spring-form Pan.
  • 6
    Bake for 9 minutes, then remove when browned and cool while mixing the cheesecake.


  • 1
    Stir together the Sugar and Cornstarch in the bowl of an electric mixer until combined.
  • 2
    Add the Cream Cheese and blend, at medium speed, until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  • 3
    Beat in the Eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • 4
    Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the Half-and-Half in a thin stream.
  • 5
    Melt the Chocolate Chips for a few seconds in the microwave, then stir in the Vanilla Extract and the Malibu or coconut flavored rum until the mixture is smooth.
  • 6
    Add the 3/4 of chocolate mixture to the cheese mixture and blend well, scraping down the sides of the mixer bowl as needed.
  • 7
    Pour batter into the cooled pecan and coconut crust.
  • 8
    Slowly pour the remainder of the chocolate liquor mixture in a swirling motion on the top of the cake and use a fork or knife to gently create chocolate designs.
  • 9
    Carefully top the cake with the remaining toasted coconut and place a loose square of tin foil on top of the cake. This is to prevent steam to build up underneath the tin foil and to prevent the toasted coconut from burning.
  • 10
    Place the pan into the prepared hot water bath.
  • 11
    Place pan in the middle of the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 250°F.
  • 12
    Bake for 90 minutes.
  • 13
    You can remove the tin foil top after 60-80 minutes of cooking.
  • 14
    Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool completely.
  • 15
    Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then “spring” the pan and remove your masterpiece. Keep refrigerated until serving time.


It's best to make cheesecakes the night before so that they don't crack
and have time to set and cool. Start early so that you're still awake in time
to place the cheesecake in the fridge after it has cooled for an hour or so.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Foodie Suggestions??

To the few readers who are kind enough to glance at my blog...

Middlesex, PA ~ July 2012

What recipes would you love to have?
Is there a favorite ingredient that you absolutely love and can't get enough of?
Have you always wondered what people do with ginger?
Are you trying to find a favorite dish or haven't quite perfected a certain flavor?
Have you been looking near and far for a healthier solution to your favorite dish without loosing the buttery
sweet flavor that initially drew you to it?
Trying to figure out a perfect menu or wine pairing for a party you're hosting?

Let me know!  I'd love to see what I can do to get creative and help solve some foodie problems.
Please leave your comments and suggestions below...I'll choose one or more and we'll go from there!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Story's End is Here!

PictureAs mentioned in a previous November post, I have amazing and talented friends.  My roommate from college years 1996-1997 (Ravencrest Chalet) & 2001 (Wheaton College), Marissa Burt has announced the release of her sequel to the young adult fantasy, Storybound.

Story's End was released by HarperCollins on April 2nd and I know of at least one young reader who is psyched about this new installment! Marissa's work has been compared to the work of another Wheaton alumna, Madeleine L'Engle's, A Wrinkle In Time series.  

If you're looking for an adventurous, wholesome read, or are looking for the perfect gift for a tweeny-bopper, this series would be it!  Hopefully, I'll be able to purchase my own copy of Story's End shortly and delve into this fun-filled fantasy world of fairy-tale-characters-in-training.  

Marissa, I don't know how you find the time to write with three young boys in what I'm guessing is a pretty active household and still remain looking so cool, calm, collected, and youthful. You are a marvel.  ;o)  You always did manage your time well!  Congrats on another successful release my friend! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Capital Cooking Posts - aka, Why I haven't had the time to post anything here on my own blog. ;o)

Colonial Herb Garden in Yorktown, Va. - May 2012

The wonderful amazing wine tasting that proves that the Wine Cooperative knows what's up in the wine world: Bodegas Resalte de Peñafiel Wine Tasting  at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center.  
The event was presented in collaboration with Pearson's Wine and Spirits, located on Wisconsin Ave, NW.

Also, I had the opportunity to do a cookbook review on 150 Best Desserts in a Jar, written by Andrea Jourdan.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have the opportunity to try one or both...the wine and/or the cookbook!

Friday, March 22, 2013

3 Hoorahs for Chuck!!

If you like electronic tunes or are looking for a new album to run or relax with, check out Chuck Soo-Hoo's new album, "Tiny Elephants." Released in early January, the album was recently selected by indy music review, The Deli Magazine in Washington, DC as the Album of the Month!

Congrats Chuck, super excited for you!

Known as the electronic music artist, Ki Oni, Chuck works with me at Artisphere and in his free time co-runs Joy Pop Records. He recently had a successful art exhibition in Richmond, Va. at Gallery 5 which combined the audio and visual worlds for a unique art experience. 

If you're interest in purchasing his music, visit his page at - Ki Oni, "Tiny Elephants."  I think my favorite track is "Trees (Bodhi)." $5.00 is a pretty awesome deal for an Album of the Month.  Eat your heart, indy music lovers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New/Old Posts on Capital Cooking's Blog

The National Cathedral ~ Winter 2011
(I had to post this because it's my favorite view of winter in D.C.)

Oh dear, oh dear...Sorry, dear readers, for the lengthy delay in posting anything of significance. I promise a new recipe soon!

February was a busy month for Capital Cooking since Washington, D.C. hosted the International Wine & Food Festival, plus there were a number of restaurant openings, seasonal menu changes and general fun events to attend.

Here are two such events that I was fortunate enough to attend through Capital Cooking. I can't thank Lauren DeSantis enough for allowing me to attend these events. They were spectacular!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 -
Uncorked: Regional Food & Wine Celebration
Wow! Talk about a lot of wine and food. I thought I'd never need to eat again...but then I saw the dessert table.
Appetite immediately returned.
Funny, how that happens.

Saturday, March 2, 2013 -
Uncorked: Peter Lehmann Wines
I must state here, so that it may be publicly known, that if you EVER have the chance to attend a future showcase dinner offered through the DC International Wine & Food Festival and/or the Wine Cooperative, it is absolutely, positively worth the money. (Full Stop.)

This was the best meal I've had in a long time. It was well thought out, balanced and perfectly paired with the featured wines, yet could easily have stood on its own as a masterpiece menu.

Also, worth noting: A good friend of mine informed me that due to my colorful description of this event and Peter Lehmann Wines, she purchased a bottle or two of Lehmann's Shiraz for about $10.00 a bottle. It was a complete hit at her party!

No one guessed it was so inexpensive. Her guests even asked where she purchased the wine thinking it came from a boutique wine merchant. How often does a $10.00 bottle of wine buy so many compliments?

Better yet, knowing the wine is from the Barossa region of Australia may make you feel even more classy and wine knowledgable. If you didn't know that this info. mattered, now you do. You may even start self-proclaiming the title of Household Sommelier. Lehmann also offers several wonderful Rieslings besides their well-known and more widely distributed Shiraz varieties.

Foodie Hints -
If you view yesterday's Capital Cooking blog post, you'll see a scrumptious recipe for Barry's Guiness Braised Beef Short Ribs.  Guiness and beef?
Talk about a perfect pairing!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Recipe: Ginger Creamy Carrot Soup

Last month was soup month and I missed it!  
This post is in honor of the all the soups I missed posting.

This savory soup is a creamy comfort for cold winter's days. It is uniquely light and simple in flavor and balances well with the cauliflower. Don't tell the kiddos it's healthy!

 Delaplane Cellars ~ Delaplane, Va.


  • 4 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Shallots large, chopped
  • 1-1 1/2 Tablespoons of Fresh Ginger, minced (equivalent to a knuckle and a half of ginger root)
  • 2 Pounds of Carrots, julienned (cooks faster than chopped), may be substituted for 3 1/2 Cups of Butternut Squash, cubed
  • 1 Medium Head of Cauliflower, rough chopped in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Dashes of Pepper, freshly ground
  • 6 Cups of Chicken Broth (Vegetable Broth may be used as a substitute)
  • 2 Cups of Heavy Cream OR 3 Cups of Milk, plus 2 extra Tablespoons of Butter
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

prep time:
cook time:
45 minutes
total time:
90 minutes
Makes 6-8


  • 1
    In a deep stock pot, sauté Butter, Olive Oil, Garlic, Shallots and Ginger until the Shallots cook clear. (Olive Oil cooks at a higher temperature and prevents the butter from browning.)
  • 2
    Add in the Carrots and Cauliflower and stir until all vegetables are mixed together and heated through.
  • 3
    Add in a couple dashes of salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • 4
    Pour in the Chicken Broth and bring ingredients to a rolling boil.
  • 5
    Turn heat down to slow boil and cook for 30 minutes or until vegetables are fork tender.
  • 6
    Using a hand blender, carefully pureé ingredients and incorporate Cream. You may use Milk as a substitute, but be sure to add the extra butter to give the soup the proper creamy flavor.
  • 7
    Add a dash of Cinnamon to enhance the Ginger.
  • 8
    Salt and pepper to taste.


May be served hot with a sprig of thyme or cold with a dallop of sour cream
and a squeeze of lemon on top.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Books: Story's End

My friend and young adult author, Marissa Burt, just posted this announcement about her new sequel!

Story's End (Storybound, #2)

Just a few more days to enter to win Story's End ! Click on the link below to enter:

Which means the Storybound sequel is going to be released soon!  YAY!
The expected publisher release date is April 2, 2013.  You can reserve your copy today by clicking here at Story's End.

 You may remember my previous write up regarding Marissa's debut book Storybound.  However, I think our friend Emily (click here to read her blog, Emily's Hollow) does a far better job of  describing this book on her review from GoodReads -

Storybound (Storybound #1)"Storybound gives a fun and unique take on how all of our favorite stories have been created: from Fairy Tales to Pirate Lore to Cowboy Westerns. They're all created in the world of Story. When a girl from our world enters Story, however, everything begins to change. Una Fairchild finds herself transported from her school to a school in Story, where her fellow students are training to become characters: Heroes, Villains, Ladies, even Sidekicks and Beasts. She must learn who to trust as she tries to figure out why she was brought to Story in the first place, and how she can help its enemies from destroying the world completely.

Storybound is refreshing in that, while it is a middle grade novel, it is not written down for children. Many times when I read books geared for such a young audience, there is a certain self-consciousness to the book; I am never unaware that I am, in fact, reading a book. Storybound allowed me to fully immerse in the world Burt created. The descriptions of Story are vivid, and the characters all have plenty of nuance. For a book that deals with the stereotypes of stories, her characters have many shades of gray that make them real. 

The language and syntax is simple enough for children to read, but as a parent and an English teacher, I was happy to see a handful of words that might encourage young hands to reach for a dictionary. The twists in the plot found the balance of holding the attention of older readers, while not confusing its intended audience. 

I eagerly await its sequel."

If you have any young friends or friends with kids, I definitely recommend this series to you!


Just found a blog that I need to visit more and a recipe that I have to try ASAP! Thought I'd share: Bust Your Buttons Butter Cake at Just A Pinch Recipe Club.

Also, for those in the DC metro area, I made a new friend while doing a restaurant review for Capital Cooking. Each day bargain-hunter/mom of two, Laura, posts great contests, deals and coupons that can be found throughout the DC and Northern Va. area. View her blog BeltwayBargainMom to find today's deal! What's not to love about cheap and free?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Capital Cooking: New Post Up!

For my DC central friends, specifically those who are looking for a great pool and fitness center off of U Street; here's my recent review of VIDA Fitness and one of their Penthouse Pool Club member perks. Please click HERE to view.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Capital Cooking: Kentucky Opens the Inaugural Ball Season!

Here's what you've been waiting for...
My full write up for Capital Cooking's blog on my experience at the Kentucky Society's Inaugural Bluegrass Ball!

High Spirits at the Inaugural Ball

Enjoy and I'd love feedback if any of you are bourbon aficionados!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Capital Cooking: Buick Encore Review

Great Falls, Va.  ~ 2012

Hi Friends!

My recent review of the 2013 Buick Encore, the newest crossover for the GM family, was posted last Saturday and I forgot to let you all know. Oops! Click HERE to read my thoughts.

Sorry, I was a bit busy last Saturday preparing for the Bluegrass Inaugural Ball with Capital Cooking. <pats and fluffs hair>  Hopefully, I can post that blog soon too! Enjoy the review and the pics by my friend Bryn Wallace.  You can also credit Bryn with being the person to light a fire under me to start blogging and connecting me to Lauren DeSantis and Capital Cooking.  :o)  Thanks Bryn!!

Have a great weekend, and stay warm!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Recipe: Potato Leek Quiche

This is one of my favorite comfort foods!

I used to order this at a favorite café of mine in Chicago. When I moved West, I missed it so much that I created my own version. It’s the one quiche that guys actually seem to like. There are several versions you can create on your own as well and I've listed the ingredient options at the bottom, so have fun!*  It is not conducive to vegan or gluten restricted diets, but it's definitely for cheese lovers!


  • 2 Pillsbury Deep Dish Pie Crust
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2 Cups of Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1 Cup of Gruyere Cheese, Grated
  • 1 Cup of Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of Butter
  • 2 Potatoes, Finely Cubed
  • 2 Leeks, Chopped
  • 1 Large Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Pepper

cook time:
45 minutes
Serves 8-10


  • 1
    Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • 2
    Using a fork, put holes in the pie crusts and place in the oven until golden brown.
  • 3
    In the meantime, in a large pot boil the Potatoes in salted water with the Butter.
  • 4
    Heat the Olive Oil in a large pan and sauté the Onions until translucent; add in the Leeks.
  • 5
    Once the Potatoes are al dente…not quite tender, drain off excess water and add them to the Onion and Leek sauté pan.
  • 6
    Continue to cook the Potatoes until they are tender. Add Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper as everything cooks together.
  • 7
    Spoon the Potatoes into the Pie shells. Sprinkle with both cheeses and stir through to combine.
  • 8
    Mix/Scramble the Eggs, Cream, Salt and Pepper together.
  • 9
    Pour the Egg mixture over the Potatoes in the Pie shells.
  • 10
    Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
  • 11
    Let stand 10 minutes until cutting and serving.


*Other Quiche Ideas:
 1.) Broccoli, Bacon, & Cheese - Substitute
      Swiss Cheese for the Gruyere Cheese.
 2.) Spinach, Onion, & Cheese
 3.) Seafood Quiche – 1 1/2 Cups of Chopped Cooked Crabmeat,
      Shrimp, and/or Salmon. Increase Salt by 1/2 Tsp.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Foodie Events: Heads Up!

Okay DC friends!  Here's my foodie post of the week.  This is the recent event listing I created for Capital Cooking with Lauren DeSantis.  It's DishCrawl time!!  Please click HERE.