My Life of What Ifs

Monday, April 25, 2011

Potatoes? No, Tomatoes. Learning to love them.

I love tomatoes.  Enough said.  Blog post over.

One of the favorite joys in my life is walking to my garden in the summer, picking a tomato, slicing it up and eating the whole thing.  My lips and cheeks are puckering just thinking about the taste.

Four people live here and we are a house divided.  My husband is not a fan of the tomato and that is putting it nicely.  My youngest daughter has not yet discovered the joy of a tomato, in fact she actually says it's "potatoes" that she doesn't like.  But if I put a tomato anywhere near her she cringes.  But my oldest daughter has discovered that she likes tomatoes, she- is on my team.

I love to cook with tomatoes.  Sauce, diced, stewed, whole, and canned tomatoes are a great way to add juice and flavor to many things including one of our favorite recipes.  This recipe doesn't have an official name.  It's just a crock pot meal that a friend posted on a message board years ago.

You will need:
  • One pound stewing beef
  • 1 can tomato sauce (we use Hunt's)
  • 1 small bag of frozen peas
  • 2T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 onion chopped
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.
  • Add a can of stewed tomatoes for more sustenance, and more health benefits.
Place all ingredients in crock pot, stir, cover and cook on high for three hours or on low for 10.  Serve over linguine, other pasta, or mashed potatoes.  Top with Parmesan.

This recipe makes me happy because our garden hasn't even been planted yet this year, heck it snowed last week, and making this crock pot tomato stew is one way I can expose my family to the benefits of tomatoes in the off season.  I recently read the article Tomato Consumption and Health: Emerging Benefits and was very interested in a few of the basic tomato facts, such as:  
  • Tomatoes are the most consumed non-starchy vegetable.
  • Tomatoes are the most significant source of dietary lycopene.  Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that gets more powerful after cooking.  Which, this time of year, most of the tomatoes I use are cooked!
  • Tomatoes are one of the top contributors of potassium to the American diet.
  • Tomatoes are good for your heart. (It’s easy to remember because they’re red.)  They are low in calories, but rich in fiber.
  • Emerging research underscores the relationship between consuming tomatoes and tomato products with reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease, ultraviolet light-induced damage, osteoporosis and other conditions.
A favorite of mine is Hunt's tomato products. All of Hunt's products are grown in California, 100% Natural, and they come in a lot of varieties including No Salt Added.  Only Hunt's uses the natural FlashSteam process to lock in the natural tomato goodness of every tomato in their diced, whole and stewed varieties.  And each Hunt's tomato goes from vine to can in just hours so home cooks can enjoy the summer-fresh taste of tomatoes all year round.

If you think I'm just tomato happy then check out the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and see how tomatoes and other healthy foods can benefit your life.  These guidelines recommend one or more servings of tomatoes a day, as part of the new red-orange vegetable sub-group.  Now if someone could just convince my husband that they really taste great too!

I received a stipend from Hunt's and The Motherhood in exchange for this blog post.  All opinions, ideas and statements are mine and mine alone.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookie Pizza and hormonal tweens

I have an enormous sweet tooth.  Seriously, I need help. I also have a hormonal 10-year-old daughter.  Seriously, I need help with that too.  I will also say right off the bat that I am not condoning or fixing my daughters mood swings with sweet, sinful desserts.  But I do make them to make me feel better after putting up with her.  And her seven-year-old sister who can be equally as bitc... ummm, moody.  I have food issues, and I am trying to make sure my daughters do not.  But anywho, let's talk about the dessert pizza goodness I made today.  #Familymeals do not need to be followed by dessert, but is sure as hell helps.

I found the recipe for Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookie Pizza on the Pillsbury website. I have seen it in magazines other times and had always wanted to make it.  Today it was necessary.

All you need is:

1 roll of chocolate chip cookie dough
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter ( I used Peter Pan)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup whipped topping (I used Reddi Whip)
hot fudge topping
chopped nuts

With those sinful ingredients you do the following:
  • Heat oven to 350°F. Press cookie dough evenly in bottom of pizzsa pan to form crust.
  • Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
  • Spread peanut butter mixture over top. Drizzle with fudge topping. Sprinkle with peanuts. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until serving time. Cut into wedges or squares. Spray a dollop of Reddi-Whip on top (OK that's my own signature move)
Then you eat this ooey, gooey goodness and try not to gag.  It's that good.  I also strongly suggest small portions.  Even those with the healthiest of blood sugar levels may have issues after ingesting this dessert.  Check out my whrrl below for pictures of the delectable dessert pizza.

More check-ins at Walmart Supercenter #1754
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This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho

I have been a little M.I.A. this week, and I apologize but I have a really good reason.  I'm working!!!!

Yes, I am always working, but this time I am working out of my home, in an office that is 30 minutes from my house.  I have contracted with a company for a couple of weeks and haven't had much free time.  But I'll be back.  This is a good thing!  In the meantime, watch some Snow White and see what song I've been singing in the shower every morning. :)


Monday, April 4, 2011

Having fun in my El Naturalista Shoes

I am a fan of shoes.  Shoes and socks are my favorite clothing items.  No matter what, I can find shoes and socks that fit me and my style.

Recently I heard about
El Naturalista shoes and using their store locator I found a store in Ann Arbor- Fourth Avenue Birkenstock- that sold them.

I was intrigued by El Naturalista because they're comfortable and yet attractive.  And I like the "road" they follow.
 "Naturalistas" start their journey observing everything that surrounds them. They travel through the world and observe it, becoming impregnated by its textures, its colors, its lines... and after a thousand journeys, real and imaginary, they discover that a single idea brings us together. Whatever our race or culture... we all walk in search of happiness.  It is that simple. And that complicated.

The philosophy of El Naturalista reeks of my What If beliefs.“Naturalistas” are sincere. They analyze life and the world around them with the intensity of a thoughtful observer. “Naturalistas” enjoy every moment of every minute, and every minute of every moment.

Of course they also make cute shoes, in great colors of green, red, orange and purple.  Iggdrasil is my favorite collection and exactly what I found on Fourth Ave.  I tried on clogs and Mary Jane's and when the weather is more reliable I think I will be going back for these.

The folks at Fourth Avenue Birkenstock were extremely helpful.  It has been A LONG time since anyone helped me try on shoes.  I felt like I was back in my hometown at Miller's Shoe Store getting corrective shoes as a child, with a golden egg surprise when I was all done.

In the end I went with Cobalto Mary Jane style El Naturalista's.  They are a dark, normal color, but they are not brown, or black, and with my need for new shoes that I could wear a lot they fit the bill.  They are super comfortable.  In fact, I have worn them for two long periods of time with no trouble at all.  They have breathable, anatomic, removable insoles, and are made of hand-stitched, soft pull grain leather.

I also love the sole of this shoe.  It's made of recycled rubber.  It has a decoration all of it's own and it's firm, but not hard.

I really like these shoes, and aside from one instance of a shop on their store locator being no longer in business, I really liked shopping for them.  It led me to Fourth Avenue Birkenstick, a great local store, with friendly, knowledgeable staff, and I felt important from the minute I walked in until the minute I walked out.

And now I feel important because I have comfortable, well-made shoes that still have a funky look to them, and that's alright with me.

More check-ins at Fourth Avenue Birkenstock
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