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!