Thursday, December 18, 2008

Empanada's Place

Spicy Chicken, Beef Criolla, Potato Cheese... Sounds good so far... Now, take those things and wrap them in a tasty dough and fry up until golden brown. You've got Empanadas! Lately, I've been finding my Empanadas at Empanada's Place in Culver City. This tiny restaurant always seems packed at lunch, but the owner says some days it is, some days it isn't. I would recommend it either way, because you can always get your empanadas to go. Cocktail size empanadas are available by the dozen for about $15. Regular sized Empanadas are about $3 a piece and I find two to three to be plenty. The guys I lunch with sometimes get 5 but are stuffed at the end of the meal. They just can't resist the different flavors. Each flavor of empanada is crimped in a different way so you can identify what is inside. I love the care taken in making these Argentinian treats.

Empanada's Place has two other locations, one in Tarzana and one in West Hollywood. I've never been to the others, but the Tarzana location offers live tango music on Thursdays. Here are the addresses. The Culver City restaurant can be found on the Family of Food Map.

Culver City Location:

3811 Sawtelle Blvd.
Culver City, California
2 doors south of Venice Blvd.
Tel: (310) 391-0888

Tarzana Location:

18912 Ventura Blvd.
Tarzana, CA 91356
between Reseda and Tampa
Tel: (818) 708-8640

West Hollywood Location:

1040 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood, California
1 block north of Santa Monica Blvd.
Tel: (310) 358-0588

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Staving Off Hunger

Folks are finding it hard to make ends meet these days. Some people are finding it hard to eat out like they used to and buy the quantities of fresh foods they took for granted when times were better. Some people just want to know... what does it take to make it when you have very little.

I collected a few links to the experiences of those trying to live on on a budget for various reasons. Their experiences may help you if you are trying to tighten your belt.

Hillbilly Housewife $40 Menu
This menu complete with shopping lists and recipes has been around a while. Food prices in my area are much higher than on the list, but the basic principals still hold up. Hillbilly Housewife has also made a $70 dollar menu which is a bit more healthy for a family of 4.

Congressional Food Stamp Challenge
This page chronicles the challenge that many congress people and civic leaders took to try a month of eating on a Food stamp budget, $21 a week.

$5 a Day Food Stamp Diet
A reporter tries to live on $5 a day and fails.

One Dollar a Day Diet
A couple tries to live on a dollar a day each. They are able to do it, but not without a cost to their health.

Family of Food's Grocery Coupon Collection
Here is a link to our post about saving money at the grocery store.

Donate to the Family of Food Online Food Drive
Help those who really need it. Donate to the Family of Food Drive today!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Holidays from Family of Food.

If you are lucky enough to need a tax break next year, please consider donating to The Family of Food Drive. This virtual food drive is raising money to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. Los Angeles Regional Foodbank is a private, nonprofit, charitable organization that has been serving the disadvantaged of the Los Angeles community since 1973. Today the Foodbank provides food for nearly 900 member agency sites including abused and abandoned children homes, battered women shelters, senior centers, local food pantries, soup kitchens, AIDS hospices and more.

For every $1 you donate the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank can distribute enough food for 5 meals. Please join us in our attempt to give 10,000 hungry people a meal. If we beat that goal, even better. Any amount will help, even a dollar. Please click here on the Food Drive Link or at the bottom of the post to give.

Then tell your friends to visit our site and donate. You can even join the family and become a fundraiser too. You can make a whole lot of real people less hungry this Holiday Season. Thank you.

Silly Twin Bento

I was trying to do the bento challenge again. I thought this one would be a perfect topic... twins.
Well, see for yourself, not so good. The girls barely ate it, too. Oh well, maybe I'll try this challenge again later.

Here are the ingredients: almond butter and jelly on small round pitas, provolone, cheerios, clementines, raspberries, string cheese, pineapple, and m&ms.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wok Support in Action

A few weeks ago we had a post about a wok support called 5000 Years of Culinary Tradition.

Here is the Wok Support in action assisting Son of Food in making some Bok Choy.
You can see how this kitchen tool supports the wok so vigorous stir frying can happen without holding the hot wok.

Here is a cooking tip I read for Stir Frying Bok Choy:
Wok the Bok for about 5 minutes for stalks and about 2 minutes for leaves until the leaves are just wilted and bright green.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Family of Food Drive

We are so lucky at Family of Food, although times are tough for everyone this year, we can afford to eat. This is no small miricle. Many Americans are not as well fed as they used to be. People who may have gotten by in the past with a bit of scrimping are now slipping into poverty. The food bank demands in my home city, Los Angeles, are up 41% from last year.

As a gesture of goodwill towards our fellow Man, and a strong "Family of Food" desire to feed others, we are starting a Family of Food Drive. This virtual food drive will raise money to benefit the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. Los Angeles Regional Foodbank is a private, nonprofit, charitable organization that has been serving the disadvantaged of the Los Angeles community since 1973. They are at the heart of a charitable food distribution network that includes over 1,000 charities in Los Angeles County.

For every $1 you donate the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank can distribute enough food for 5 meals. Please join us in our attempt to give 10,000 hungry people a meal. If we beat that goal, even better. Any amount will help, even a dollar.

Please click on the Food Drive Link to give. This will take you to the foodbank. Then tell your friends to visit our site and donate. You can even join the family and become a fundraiser too. You can make a whole lot of real people less hungry this Holiday Season. Thank you.

*Donate to The Family of Food Drive

Become part of the Family of Food Drive Team.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Peace and Love in a Bento

This wasn't supposed to happen. I meant to make a quick lunch. The spirit just came over me. What the world needs now, is a Love Bento.

Almond Butter and Jelly sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter into the shape of doves, corn, green beans, apple cinnamon rice cakes, ginger snap alphabet cookies, provolone cheese, and grapes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Best Burger I Have Ever Had

The first time I entered Father's Office at the Helms Bakery, I was a little disappointed. All of the reviews I read about it led me to believe it was an upscale restaurant with a decent bar. I looked forward to a nice sit down meal being served by a doting waitstaff and an elaborate menu.

It turned out that Father's Office is not a restaurant at all, but a bar with a limited menu. You are greeted not by a Matre D, but a bouncer, you are served not by waitstaff, but by bar tenders and bussers, your children are not allowed in. In addition, Father's Office is only open certain hours, not, let's say, for lunch on a Thursday. On the plus side, there is a huge selection of beer on tap. So, it's a bar. It doesn't matter. Father's Office is special. Fathers Office has a non-liquid attraction that lures me.

I have had only one thing and I want only one thing when I go to Father's Office; THE BEST BURGER I HAVE EVER HAD.

I admit, I am not a big red meat eater, I could ignore most burgers (I often go to In and Out and have the grilled cheese,) but this burger makes my insides happy. The cooked medium burger is served pink with crispy bits on the outside covered in barbecue sauce and blue cheese and onions caramelized perfectly soaking its juices on to a leafy lettuce and a fine roll. I am getting so hungry writing about it. There are two kinds of fries you could get to accompany this burger, sweet potato and shoestring. Although I do like the sweet potato fries, the shoestring fries are some of the best you can get. Garlicky, thin, crisp, I can think of no better side dish to go with the best burger in the world.

I took Husband of Food to try this burger, and he said "You know what would go great with this? A Beer." Well, Husband of Food, I know this great bar...

3229 Helms Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034
TEL: (310) 736-2224

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving, Turkey Bento

Today I made the twins a special lunch for their last daycare day before the American Thanksgiving. This bento is inspired by this upcoming holiday. At the bottom of the box there is an Almond Butter and Pumpkin Butter sandwich shaped like a turkey. The eye of the turkey was created with a small dot of frosting. This turkey sits on a bed of apple cinnamon rice cakes and some string cheese. Up in the left corner is some corn, legendarily the food shared by the "Indians" and Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. Above the corn is some turkey meat. On the right is a small orange called a "cutie" with a small french fry to look like a pumpkin.

Happy Holiday!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Carnegie Gorgefest, A Family Tradition

Daughter and Son in Law of Food Went to New York. For us, one of The City's greatest point of interest is the food.

For our fist meal in Manhattan we went to the Carnegie Deli. The Carnegie has long been legend in our Family. Father of Food tells one of his first trip to the restaurant, which sums up what makes this place extraordinary.

When Father of Food first sat down to a table at the Carnegie, he asked the waitress for a Bowl of Soup and a Corned Beef Sandwich. The waitress looks at him and says dryly "Pick One." My father, not a small man, rather a somewhat hefty fellow at the time, a man that could ironically wear the name "Tiny," says "What am I, a kid? Bring me the soup and the sandwich." She did, and he was sorry. Try as he might, he did not finish that soup and sandwich because one soup and sandwich at the Carnegie could feed a hungry family.

Husband of Food and I kept this tale in mind when ordering our lunch. We were hungry so we settled on a Corned Beef Reuben and a side of Fries, for the two of us. Here is the Reuben. The plate is tilted a bit in this shot, so it is difficult to see just how big it is, but you get the idea, right?

We almost made it through the whole sandwich; I struggled to eat about a third of it, but I was not sorry. Now had I ordered the soup...

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Apologies dear Family of Food Readers. We are lax in posting this week due to travel, illness, and the general craziness of late November in America preparing for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Even the bentos have gotten really simple. Today's boxes had green beans, hard boiled eggs, small clementine oranges, string cheese, tomatoes, and bunny graham crackers. No pictures.

Please bear with me and hopefully this weekend I will have a chance to post some of more entries from the past couple of weeks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

5000 Years of Culinary Tradition

Pardon my dirty stovetop, but is this not the most ingenious thing you've ever seen?

Father of Food bought a traditional iron wok some time in the early 1970s, which I've had and kept seasoned for the past fifteen, twenty years or so, and for all these years, we've gotten along just fine with the simple metal ring that supports the wok over the fire. But at our new apartment, the ring just doesn't work. If I set the ring on the metal grate and the wok on top, it's just a little too precariously balanced, and if I dispense with the ring, it's even more unstable. This can be pretty disconcerting when you've got a wok full of oil at the smoke point and a toddler running around. If I put the wok on the ring directly on the stovetop without the grate, as I've done with some other rangetops, the wok is too close to the flame and isn't centered properly.

So today I was at one of our local Chinese markets, and for a mere six dollars, I found this heavy iron grate for supporting a wok that replaces the regular grate. That's the regular grate on the back burner, and the wok grate on the front burner. The wok is much more stable on this thing than it ever was on the metal ring, and it's just the right distance from the flame.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Translating the Family of Food

Hello All! I am so excited to announce the addition of the Google Gadget Translate My Page to this website. It will translate our blog into a number of languages. If you are reading this blog in a language other than English, please tell me if it makes sense to you by leaving comments in the comments section at the end of the post. I hope this gadget brings many international readers to The Family of Food.

Happy Reading and Happy Eating!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Very Hungry Bento Box

This week's Bento Challenge theme was "Bookworm". The point of the contest was to design bentos that celebrated books we love. Since this bento was for my twins (yes, I made two), I picked one of their favorites, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.
Spoiler Alert*
In the book a hungry caterpillar eats clean through all sorts of food until he wraps himself in a cocoon eventually turning into a beautiful butterfly.

I tried to find many of the foods that are featured in the book as caterpillar hole boring material, a strawberry, a pear, cheese, a sausage, an apple, and finally, a leaf. The best part of making this lunch was putting holes in everything. I used a straw from one of my kid's sippy cups for this. The caterpillar is made of a string cheese wrapped in thin sliced roast beef and baby greens. Green bean slices made up the caterpillar eyes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


On this very important day, election day, I urge you to VOTE! Could you possibly be still undecided? Well if you really need a reason to pick, maybe food can sway you one way or the other. There was a Good Morning America Story in March about the major Presidential Candidate's favorite recipes. Apparently Barack Obama makes a Tasty Chili and John McCain makes Ribs with a Dry Rub. McCain's recipe is simple, made with red meat, and is made on a grill. Obama's is more complex, gives more choice of different kinds of meat, and includes toppings. You can decide which is the most tempting to you.

Personally, I like Chili! Father of Food, well, I'm sure he's going for the Ribs.

Here are the recipes from that GMA story (link to it here) reprinted for your convienence:

Obama Family Chili Recipe
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Several cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or beef
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground oregano
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground basil
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Several tomatoes, depending on size, chopped
1 can red kidney beans

Saute onions, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft.
Add ground meat and brown.
Combine spices together into a mixture, then add to ground meat.
Add red wine vinegar.
Add tomatoes and let simmer, until tomatoes cook down.
Add kidney beans and cook for a few more minutes.

Serve over white or brown rice. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, onions and sour cream.

McCain's Ribs

Dry Rub:
1/3 part Garlic Powder
1/3 part Salt
1/3 part Pepper
3 lemons

Turn the grill down to low temperature.

Mix together garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then cover both sides of the ribs with that.

Grill ribs, bone side down, for 90 percent of the time. It will take about an hour to an hour and a half. Squeeze the lemon on it frequently, because that makes it taste a lot better.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Scary Clown

Yesterday's bento was inspired again by the bento challenge, this week's topic was "scary." What could be more scary than a clown? I didn't want to make something that would frighten the girls, so I picked a topic that would be more scary for adults.

The twins liked it just fine. The clown was made of a turkey and cheese in a tortilla for the lower face, strawberry for the cheeks, banana for the mouth, cherry tomato for the nose, rice cakes as the eyes, sausage for the irises, rotini for the hair, and pumpkin pie for eyebrows.

I did another quick bento today, which I didn't take a picture of, but the best part was pumpkin butter and cream cheese sandwiches cut with a cookie cutter into the shapes of ghosts and pumpkins. Pumpkin Butter is pretty tasty.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Halloween with Bat Bento Box

Today's bento was inspired by the most wonderful time of the year, Halloween! Family of Food is big on a holdiday where people give you not only food, but some of the most wonderful food there is... CANDY. No doubt this bento is only the first of the spooky lunches for my twins. Last night I was inspired to make Pumpkin Pie (which the girls loved) so I have to figure out how that works into my next bento. This one, called Bats Flying in a Moonlit Sky, contained two almond butter and jelly sandwiches on wheat cut into bat shapes. The night sky was graham cracker with swiss cheese clouds. A hard boiled egg and sungold tomato made for a misty moon. Lastly, the whole image was framed with green beans and string cheese.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Octopus' Garden - Experiments with an 8 Legged Cake

The Twins are two! This glorious event called for a very special cake. If you remember, for their first birthday, I made a Duck Cake. Friends gave us an octopus cake form a few months back, so this time, we went with an under the sea theme giving us the OCTOCAKE.

Like with the Settlers Cake I made for my husband a few weeks ago, I used the Lemon Cake for Lino recipe from Amy Sedaris' Cookbook,I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. The cake baked well with only a small sink hole at the bottom and a few tiny abrasions to the surface. Those small deficiencies did not worry me because the frosting would easily cover any imperfections.

This is where things got a little dicey. I had a lemon buttercream recipe that called for powdered sugar and a white frosting recipe which called for boiling water. I only had regular cane sugar and I was not sure if the other recipe would turn out thick enough for frosting the octopus cake.
Under pressure for time, I made a rash decision. I combined the recipes. I thought maybe the sugar just needed to be lighter so somehow combining it with boiling water would make it work like powdered sugar. I beat the mixture in my Kitchen Aid for several minutes, but as you've probably suspected, no frosting came of it. Instead a thick lemon syrup formed. Feeling I had nothing to lose I added some flour and baking soda and attempted to make a lemon cookie. It was not a crazy idea, either the cookies would come out poorly and I would just be out a little bit of flour or they would be great and we would have an extra batch of cookies for the party. Either way it wasn't much of a risk. Well, it was close but no cigar. The cookies came out pretty tasty, but they wouldn't come off the pan. I was left with a I pile of lemon crumbs and a cookie sheet in need of some sort of solvent to remove the stuck on cookie bits.

It was time to face facts, I needed powdered sugar, but time was tight. I sacrificed a few of the dishes I was going to make and hopped down to the market for the powdered sugar. I left trusty Husband of Food in charge of the wee ones and a few of the cooking related tasks I had left to do other than the cake. He came through for me, like the prince that he is, and I was able to get to making the frosting.

The lemon buttercream (dyed green) came out beautifully. Frosting the octocake was not easy, but I had enough for coverage. I used store bought icing for the face and details, blue icing and coconut for the ocean waves at the base of the cake, Swedish Fish surrounding the bottom, and Hershey's chocolate sauce on the side for the octopus ink. The ink was a big hit. As amateurish as this cake may be, I can say this, it was made with fun, love, and just the right amount of powdered sugar.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The mundane kitchen accessory that will improve your life.

Yes, it's the Oxo Sink Strainer.

What is wrong, you ask, with the strainer/stopper in the drain that came with your sink?

Everything is wrong with it.

When you run the water, the stopper drops into the drain, and the sink starts filling up, so you have to kind of put it on a slant so it doesn't strain out the bits of food that you don't want to go down the drain, and then you realize you might as well just leave it on the counter. Then when you actually want to put down the stopper, it doesn't completely stop the drain, so the sink starts to fill, but it's draining at the same time, so if you wanted a sink full of cold water to cool down a big pot of stock, you would have to keep checking it and filling it up with more cold water. And besides, it's old and skanky with some kind of gelatinous crud that's been building up there for years between the bottom of the strainer and the top of the rubber stopper, because you don't have the specialized tool you would need to clean that, and the rubber stopper is probably cracked and crumbly.

By contrast, the Oxo Sink Strainer stops the drain when the stopper is released, and the stopper stays put when you want the sink to drain, and it strains out the things you don't want to go down the drain, and it's easy to clean silicone.

For $6.99 from Amazon, the Oxo Sink Strainer is way more expensive than the cheapo one you can get from the hardware store, but it's still just $6.99, and it will improve your life, and isn't it worth $6.99 to improve your life?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two Bentos for Two Girls

This bento was a second try at the "flowers" theme from the bento challenge. I like this one much more than the previous flowers box, but I was too busy to post the picture before the theme changed. It includes cous-cous, broccoli, pear, pineapple, craisins, celery, cheese, turkey, wheat bread, and bunny grahams. I went into daycare with the girls that day, so I had the pleasure of seeing them eat their lunch. The box got a bit messy on the way out that day, but the girls liked it anyway. They especially liked the pear.

The second bento is farm based. This one is filled with favorite foods of the twins, cheese, grapes, carrots, Cheerios, "quackers", and an almond butter and jelly sandwich shaped like a pig (the eye is a champagne grape). The girls ate this one up. Click on either picture for a closer look.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Roses in the Garden

The twins are under the weather, so they may not go to daycare tomorrow, but if they do, they are going to have another Bento Challenge inspired lunch.

I call it Roses in the Garden.

The leaves are cheese tortellini, the roses, tomatoes. Under the garden is a happy String Cheese worm tunnelling up through the roast beef and pretzel ground.

Update! One of the Family of Food Finds has Moved

If you read our article on Cuban Food last summer, you might have tried El Criollo in the Valley. This restaurant has moved to a new location.

EL Criollo is now located at 6622 Van Nuys Blvd, between Kitteridge and Van Owen.

Enjoy the flavors Van Nuys!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rubber Duck Themed Bento

This week I made bento to please my rubber duck loving children. According to the folks at daycare, this was their favorite lunch yet.

The sandwiches were almond butter and jelly shaped like a rubber duck, complete with champagne grape eyes. To get a tactile sense of the rubber duck there were strips of rubber like cheese surrounding the sandwiches. Corn was included due to its Rubber Duck color. Tiny duck crackers "Quackers" from Whole Foods made a side dish. And a Strawberry topped the whole thing off. Why a strawberry? My kids like them. Not everything has to be duck themed...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Settlers of Catan in Cake Form

Husband of Food had a birthday this weekend. He wanted to have a few friends over for a day of playing board games. Inspired by friend of friend of food, I made a Settlers of Catan cake. Settlers is a popular German game which we have often played at game day.

Here is an image of the cake with some of the playing tiles that make up the board. Click on it for a larger image. Each "tile" is made from a single cupcake frosted to resemble the hexagons from the game, wood, sheep, wheat, ore, brick, and one desert cupcake.

The actual cake inside was a lemon cake and the frosting lemon butter cream, colored with different mixes of food coloring. The recipe came from Amy Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence under Lemon Cake for Lino. Knowing Sedaris' dry sense of humor, I feared that I might be the victim of some silliness in the recipe, but I found it to be no joke, the cake was deliciously for real.

As you may be able to tell, I sort of flew by the seat of my pants with this cake. I was rushed by the need to frost it all in secret while Husband of Food was sleeping in. Here is a close up of the "Game Board."

Those in attendance who were geeky enough knew what it was soon after the candles were blown out on the cake.

My husband ate a brick and a wood tile, he says he was working towards "longest road".

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Craft, NYC

Craft was opened by Chef Tom Colicchio in 2002, a short walk from the Union Square Greenmarket, as an antidote to some of the food excesses of the 1990s. You remember: a small hunk of flesh centered in a pool of sauce on an enormous plate with another sauce on top of it, and then a coulis in a contrasting flavor and color drizzled across the whole plate, maybe with some crispy bits sprinkled over everything. Everything at Craft, by contrast, is prepared with a few fresh ingredients, but they're the best ingredients you can get. We visited Craft for dinner last night, and I'd say the concept is holding up quite well.

Craft is a fairly expensive restaurant, even by New York standards, but having a meal like this is like attending a performance, and compared to opera tickets, it's not so bad. Grandson of food is at a stage right now (almost two years old) where going out to a restaurant is a hit or miss proposition, and I like cooking at home most of the time anyway, so we're not going out as much as we used to, and when we do, we're probably hiring a babysitter. One memorable meal at $125 a person is unquestionably worth five decent but forgettable meals for $25 a person and then some.

We started with Wagyu beef carpaccio with a vinaigrette and celery garnish as an appetizer. This was the closest any dish came to having a sauce. Before this came there was an amuse bouche in the form of two fresh mussels in a hot pepper marinade, presented on two spoons. Wagyu beef is astonishingly marbled. One can't imagine that it's very healthy for the cattle, but it is interesting, having a distribution of fat to meat that looks like a salami.

For the main course we had the roasted bluefoot chicken, hen of the woods mushrooms, roasted baby carrots with rosemary, risotto with corn and bacon. The roasted chicken is presented to the table on an oval copper gratin dish with the blue feet intact before it is carved for serving and garnished with chives. The mushrooms are just roasted with some butter and salt and maybe some garlic, so the main flavor is the mushroom. The carrots are similarly roasted and served with a sprig of fresh rosemary. The Savory New York site features an interview with Collichio on video, and you can see the chicken, mushrooms, and carrots. Everything was excellent, prepared simply but perfectly, but the risotto was transcendent. It seemed to use a small amount of very smokey bacon, and very fresh sweet corn added just at the end of the process, so that it had the texture of corn that had just been barely steamed.

For dessert we split the warm chocolate tart, which comes with a chocolate granite and Earl Grey ice cream. It came with another little extra from the pastry chef--two tiny semolina tarts. The Earl Grey was very intense and will foster some new experiments with the ice cream maker at home. That's what a good restaurant should do, isn't it?--make you want to try new things in your own kitchen.

Even the way they handle the leftovers is outstanding. They pack them up and put them into the refrigerator and hand you a number, like a coat check, until you are ready to leave. And they sent us home with another bonus--two packets of biscotti that we enjoyed this morning for breakfast as we remembered last night's dinner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

5 Quick Low Calorie Meals from the Freezer

Anyone who has tried the Flex Plan on Weight Watchers knows the panic that happens at the end of a day or a week when all of the points seem to have been gobbled up and there is still a dinner to be had. Of course these are usually the days when one has no time to cook up a zero point soup and there is not a vegetable to be found in the house.

I've found a few great stand bys to keep in my freezer for when I want a quick low point meal. Have something like this on hand and your diet won't go out the window when time is tight and points are low.

Kroger Meals Made Simple - Shrimp Stir-Fry
3 Servings per package
140 Calories
.5 g Fat
3 g Fiber
2 Points

Dr. Preger's Veggie Burgers
1 Burger
110 Calories
4.5g Fat
5g Fiber
2 Points

Lean Cuisine
Roasted Turkey and Vegetables
1 meal
150 Calories
5g Fat
3g Fiber
3 Points

Trader Joe's Asian Style Chicken Stir Fry
8oz. Serving
190 Calories
1g Fat
4g Fiber
3 Points

Progresso Light Soups
OK, this is for the pantry, not the freezer, but it is a great option and there are 5flavors:
Italian-Style Vegetable
Homestyle Vegetable & Rice
Savory Vegetable Barley
Southwestern Style Vegetable
1 Serving
60 Calories
4g Fiber
0 Points

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hungry Little Fishies

These Bentos were inspired by the Bento Challenge blogsite. This blog eggs on the aspiring bento artist by posting a topic and inviting the public to post pictures of bento based on the theme. The topic this week was Under the Sea.

Here are my bento boxes made with this theme. Mini orange peppers stuffed with Hummus make up the hungry fishes. A small dollop of mayonaise with a dot of soy sauce make up the fish eye. Fresh Parsley plays the part of the tasty coral. The seabed is made of Cous-Cous with a rock Feta floor. Purple and yellow tomatoes are nestled in the sand. Mini green grapes from the farmer's market bubble up the Muenster sea. Muenster also is the root for the String Beans which grow up tall along the side.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back to School

Here's some food news worth writing about; Colbert University, the online school for all things Stephen Colbert related, has listed a new course,
Colbert University GAST 101 - Gastronomic Adventures.

It's a frighteningly comprehensive collection of Stephen Colbert's adventures with FOOD!

There are links to everything from Dorito’s Spicy Sweet Pennsylvania Primary Coverage from Chili-Delphia—The City of Brotherly Crunch to the classic Cooking with Feminists.

Our Family of Food loves Stephen Colbert and you know we love Food... It may just be time to curl up with a pint of Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream and catch up on our studies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day Two Bentō

For the Second Day of Daycare I made the twins these Bento Boxes.

They are inspired by the sun rising over the mountains.

The sun is made of an orange slice with orange pepper for the rays. Feta acts as clouds surrounding the sun.
carrot rays extend over roast beef on a bed of spinach. Fields of green grapes line the foothills below the bagel mountain. Meunster cheese brings those sun rays down to meet the Earth.

Monday, September 15, 2008

First Day Bento

The twins start daycare tomorrow, a special occasion, indeed. This is their first packed lunch and my first Bento Boxes.

The fancy details are strawberries cut like hearts over a bed of raisins, bunny crackers hopping along in a green bean patch, slices of cheese aside roast beef, and cut grape tomatoes. Click on the picture for a bigger image.

I don't know if I am doing it right, but the meal is balanced, healthy, and definitely made with love.

Thanks to the Bento Love blog for inspiration.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sorrento Italian Market

My five dollar lunch from Sorrento

I've mentioned Sorrento Italian Market before. This is an example of why I love them. For lunch I got a large turkey and provolone sub with Sorrento's delectable tomato sauce at the sandwich counter. That was $3.95. Near the checkout I picked up a bag of about 16 plums for a dollar. Delicious, nutritious, and cheap; what more could you want from a lunch?

Sorrento Italian Market
5518 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 391-7654

Frozen Fish from Trader Joe's

I'm usually a bit dubious about the idea of frozen fish, but I noticed that one of our new Trader Joe's stores here out east had some interesting selections of mostly wild caught fish that looked good in the packages and was very reasonably priced, so I thought I'd sample a few--mahi mahi, swordfish, Dover sole, and coho salmon. Modern "individually quick frozen" (IQF) processes that use vacuum packaging and flash freezing have greatly improved upon the frozen fish of yesteryear. The fish seems to be glazed with ice, which is probably part of the secret. I defrosted the fish overnight in the refrigerator, and all the selections I tried smelled fresh and had good texture when I took them out of the package, and all were very neatly cut and filleted.

I've grilled the Trader Joe's wild Coho salmon in a very hot cast iron grill pan twice now, once with garlic butter, once with a teriyaki style marinade. This kind of salmon has a good flavor, but it tends to be a bit on the dry side, so it needs to be just barely cooked through--about two and a half minutes on a side--and a marinade to add to the moisture doesn't hurt. I've had plank roasted Scottish wild salmon that was like this in England. It's very easy to overcook, but if you get it right, it's perfect.

The Dover sole was the least freezable fish of those we tried. Even though the texture was good in general, the thin frozen fillets had evidently cracked in shipping and storage. It held together well enough to roll and bake with a crab and spinach stuffing, but it would have fallen apart, if I'd tried to broil it.

The swordfish was a success--maybe not as high a fat content as the best swordfish I've had, but that kind of swordfish is hard to find in general. 4 minutes on a side in the cast iron grill pan with garlic butter and a little lemon zest was perfect.

We're used to fresh caught local mahi-mahi when we're in Hawai'i, but even with that as a point of reference, Trader Joe's Peruvian wild caught mahi-mahi made a very respectable showing, grilled about three minutes on a side with garlic butter and lemon in the hot cast iron grill pan. It's not fresh from the shores of Moloka'i, but for what we can get in New York, it's excellent.

We're fortunate to live close enough to water to find fresh local fish in the markets and from the Greenmarkets around the city, but for fish that aren't local to our waters and the convenience of being able to have fish of good quality on hand in the freezer Trader Joe's gets a thumbs up.

Update (14 May 2009): A couple others we've tried since this post are the sockeye salmon, wild halibut steaks and the Alaskan wild cod. The halibut grilled very nicely. The cod had a good flavor but was maybe a bit chewy for a grilled fish; however, it seemed to have enough substance to hold up well braised or in a stew, so we might try it again that way. The sockeye salmon was first rate.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Free Pie in Vegas

This message was left in our comments from a previous post. I'll help this PR guy out, why? Because a Friend of Food likes the show and... you might get some pie.

"Hi , I apologize for leaving this in your comments section but I could not find a way to contact you directly! :) I’m working with ABC to spread the word about their Mobile Pie Hole – a truck that’s traveling the country this month, giving away free pie for to kick off the second season of Pushing Daisies. The Pie Hole will be in Las Vegas this Friday, September 12th, at Fashion Show Mall (3200 Las Vegas Blvd.). As an local Las Vegas foodie and blogger, I thought you and your readers might want to stop by for some free pie! You can read more about the Pie Hole tour at you have any questions or would like additional information, event photos, etc, from ABC, please let me know! All the best, Miguel C. "

Send Miguel a thanks, too.

Daughter of Food

Friday, September 5, 2008

Now You Know

The studious reader of Family of Food may have noticed that many references to Weight Watchers for the last several months. I am the one on the diet. This is the second time I have seriously and successfully embarked upon weight loss in my life. I am a lover of food after all and I have never been skinny. When I was a child I tried every diet on the planet, fairly unsuccessfully, and it was not until I was an adult did I ever find the knowledge and the will to really slim down. The first time I tried Weight Watchers (as an adult), I lost over 40 pounds.

After that first time I used this program, I was for the first time in my life, within the normal range of body size. I enjoyed a period of time where I was not seen or treated as fat. Although I was the same person, others did treat me quite differently. There was a guy I worked with who had never spoken to me before the weight loss and then after was friendly. I would have never guessed that my size was the reason he shunned me previously, but another told me that this was the change that caused him to want to interact with me. This person probably did not even realize he had done this. Fat prejudice is ingrained into the American psyche. After the weight loss, I was flirted with a lot more, I got a raise (maybe a coincidence), people touched me more... that was hard to get used to. Then, I got pregnant.

I carried twins in my body and had to adjust my eating habits to the needs of two growing babies. Even pregnant, the very day before I gave birth to my twins, I weighed less than when I started Weight Watchers for the first time. After the birth, the twins needed to be fed so, I supported the needs of my nursing babies. Producing milk for two takes a tremendous amount of energy, so I was free to eat without the much worry of weight gain. I even tried getting back on Weight Watchers at that time to lose the pregnancy weight, but they could not give me enough points to fuel my milk production. After the nursing was done, however, I was still very hungry all the time, and the weight started to creep back on. At this time, the needs of my twins do not dictate my caloric intake, so I am attempting to get back down to my pre baby/post weight loss weight and perhaps get even a few pounds thinner.

When I first joined Weight Watchers, I was terrified to go to a meeting, because If I saw someone I knew, then they would know I was fat. Silly right? It wasn't top secret information. Everyone knew I was overweight, it was right there for everyone to see. At my first meeting I did see several people I knew and had always admired... the last people I would have wanted to see at a meeting. I was mortified. It turned out that they were nice and encouraging and if they even cared, would have already known that I was heavy. Going to the meetings meant that I had to recognise the flaw in myself. Up until now, I had not wanted to write much about my Weight Watchers experience, because it exposes my not-so-secret secret. My friends read this blog, my family reads this blog, you read this blog. So, I have written it and now, you know.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Healthier Lasagna

I'm watching my figure, so
I made a traditional heavy Lasagna recipe a little lighter. I used low fat ricotta and provolone, but left the mozzarella full fat for better flavor.

My Healthier Lasagna
Serves 8
7 Weight Watchers Points per serving

6 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
26-28 oz can or jar tomato sauce
1/3 pound cooked lean ground turkey
1 Tbsp ground oregano
1 tsp McCormick Ground black pepper
2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp dried parsley
2 egg
2 serving Sargento Reduced Fat Provolone
1 1/2 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese (yes, you could use skim mozzarella)
1 cup spinach
9 pieces Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Pasta Lasagna Noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown Turkey in a large Pan.

While browning meat, in a large bowl, mix
Ricotta, 3/4 Cup Mozzarella, Parsley, Eggs, and 3 Tbsp Parmesan.

Drain turkey and add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, oregano, water. Stir and Simmer for a few minutes.

In a 13x9 baking pan, Pour a cup of the turkey sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan.
Lay down 3 sheets of lasagna noodles in a row on top of the sauce in the pan.
pour 1 cup of sauce on the noodles.
Lay out half the spinach (rinsed and dried)
on top of the noodles and sauce.
Spread half of the cheese mixture on the layers.
Lay down three pieces of pasta.
Pour one cup of sauce over this pasta.
spread remaining spinach and then remaining cheese for the next layer.
Place three more slices of pasta down.
Pour the remaining sauce over the layers.
Sprinkle remaining grated mozzarella on top, add the slices of Provolone, and the remaining Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Uncover and Bake 10 Minutes more to Brown the Cheese.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Cook Killed the DJ - A Playlist

I made a playlist for you to play while cooking.
Most of it is embedded right here in video form, just press play:

Make It With You - Bread Make It with You and Other Hits

Come On In My Kitchen - Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings

Banana Split For My Baby - Louis Prima Capitol Collectors Series: Louis Prima

Think - Aretha Franklin The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack

Green Onions - Booker T and the MG's The Very Best of Booker T. and the MG's

Sugar Sugar - Archies Absolutely the Best of the Archies

Whip It - Devo Freedom of Choice

Feed Me (Git It) - Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin Little Shop Of Horrors (1986 Film)

The Candy Man - Sammy Davis Jr. The Candy Man

Any Way You Want It - Journey Greatest Hits

C is For Cookie - Cookie Monster Sesame Street - Cookie Monster's Best Bites

Eat It
- Wierd Al Yankovic Weird Al Yankovic - The Ultimate Video Collection

Because of limitations on embedding on Blogger, only 9 of the 12 are playing on the site. Check it out at YouTube for more information and the rest of the videos: A Cook Killed the VJ

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Michael Phelps vs. an Average Woman on Weight Watchers

The newspapers have been reporting on the incredible amount of calories that Michael Phelps has been
eating per day to maintain his weight as he trains and competes for the gold.

According to The Guardian UK, CNBC, and a whole mess of other media outlets, Mr. Phelps up to 12,000 calories a day. What would that mean to Michael if he was on the Flex Plan of Weight Watchers? Michael Phelps would need to eat 240 points a day.

Compare this to an averaged sized, moderately active woman on Weight Watchers who might get about 24 points a day.

Here is a sample menu for that Average Woman.

1 cup light artificially sweetened yogurt - 2 pts
2 Tbsp dried cranberries - 1 pt
1/2 cup low-fat granola cereal 3 pts

(Breakfast total - 6 pts)

1/2 Cup Tomatoes - 0 pts
Turkey Sandwich on Wheat Bread with one slice of low fat cheese - 5 pts
1 Cup Carrot Sticks - 0 pts
2 Small Plums - 1 pt

(Lunch total - 6 pts)

Healthy Snack
1 Apple - 1 pts
1 Tbsp Peanut Butter - 2 pts

(Snack total - 3 pts)

For dinner, lets say Average Woman eats at the chain restaurant called Islands...
1/2 Small Caesar Salad - 3.5 (She puts the other half in a to go box before she even has a bite.)
1 Bowl of Tortilla Soup (no sour cream or Guacamole)- 8 pts
1 24 oz Diet Coke - 0

(Dinner total - 11.5 pts)

Total Points for the day... 26.5
Just a bit over the 24 point goal, but luckily Average Woman has 35 extra points a week to use when she goes over her daily limit.

What would a sample menu for Michael look like?

5 Slices Wheat Toast - 6 pts
2 Tbsp of Butter - 6 pts
1 Tbsp Jelly - 1 pt
8 Egg Cheese, Mushroom, and Spinach Omelet - 24 pts
6 Mini Sausages - 5 pts.
3 Pancakes Prepared from Scratch - 9 pts
2/3 Cup Maple Syrup - 11 pts
2 Cups Melon - 2 pts
16 Oz 2% Milk - 5 pts
24 Oz Fresh Orange Juice - 6 pts

(Breakfast total - 75 pts)

3 Cups of Caesar Salad -7 pts
3 Dinner Rolls - 10 pts
1 16oz Steak - 36 pts
2 Large Baked Potatoes - 7 pts
2 Table Spoons of Butter - 6 pts
4 Tbsp of Sour Cream - 3 points
2 Cups of Peas in Butter Sauce - 6 points
1 Cup of Berries with 1/2 Cup of Real Whipped Cream - 3 pts

(Lunch total - 78 pts)

Healthy Snack
3 Apples - 3 pts
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter - 20 pts

(Snack total - 20 pts)

For dinner Michael also visits Islands and has...
1 China Coast Salad - 28.5
1 Pipeline Burger - 36
1 24 oz Coke - 6

(Dinner total - 70.5 pts)

Total Points for the day... 246.5
Oh no... just a bit over the 240 point goal, luckily, Michael has those 35 extra points a week to play with, otherwise, he would have to hit the gym for a good workout.

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