Thursday, February 21, 2008

What's for dinner: Gingered Sweet Potato Pancakes

These gingered sweet potato pancakes are quite capable of carrying the meal for a vegetarian dinner. I only added slices of ham to the plate because we had them leftover. Naturally sweet applesauce sets off the salty-earthy flavors.

A food processor's shredding disk makes quick work of the potatoes you'll use in this dish. Go ahead and chop the onions with it too for tear-free preparation.


3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded

1 medium potato, peeled and shredded

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 teaspoons Canola oil, divided

In a bowl, combine the first eight ingredients; toss to mix well. In a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls into skillet; press lightly to flatten. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining oil and batter.

This recipe is from Light & Tasty magazine.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Food finds: Limited edition Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper and Pizza Hut Pizza Mia

Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper

Thank goodness it's only a limited edition.

Dr Pepper debuted a cherry chocolate version of its diet cola for the holidays. It's supposed to tasted like chocolate-covered cherries, which is why I keep typing the chocolate before the cherry.

I tried one bottle of Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper and I don't care to have more. I didn't think it was disgusting, like the checker who rang me out did. I just couldn't taste any chocolate flavor. All I could taste was fakey, mothbally flavor characteristic of all diet sodas.

My husband, however, had the best description of Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper after just one drink. He said Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper tastes like a stale Tootsie Roll.

To which I add only: Avoid.

Pizza Hut's Pizza Mia

I'll be sad when Pizza Hut's limited-edition Pizza Mia reaches the end of its run. It is really yummy.

The Pizza Mia crust is hand-tossed and lightly topped with a sweeter, less herby tomato sauce, a blend of mozzarella and cheddar cheese and your choice of add-ons. I got only pepperoni. Pizza Mia is a light little pie and I found I had eaten all but two slices. It's not greasy and heavy like the pan Pizza Hut pizza I usually order there that makes me feel overfull and nauseated after just two slices.

Pizza Mia comes only in medium and with one topping costs $6.99; you can get three for $5 each. Pizza Mia comes in a cute white box adorned with white and gray curlicues like you might've doodled on your notebook in high school. The corners are blacked like photo corners in an old scrapbook.

You've got to try this pie! Especially if you don't live near a great independent pizzeria. For fast-food pizza, Pizza Hut's Pizza Mia is closest to authentic.

(A footnote: A cruise of some message boards told me that not everyone agrees: If those people like Pizza Hut's regular pizza, then of course they're going to pan this one. It's actually good. I went to Pizza Hut reluctantly the night I tried Pizza Mia. We don't eat a lot of junk food and we hardly ever eat out anymore. But the trip was sort of a reward for my daughter, who asked nicely and did a good job in dance class. I had been thinking about trying the Pizza Mia anyway and my server's enthusiastic endorsement of it sealed the deal. Conversely, she couldn't say enough bad things about Pizza Hut's newest promotion: the Crunchy Cheese Crust Pizza.)

So please-a take-a MIA word for it: Go get a Pizza Mia!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Funny face (cereal) we love you!

When I was a kid, my mom would get me to eat my Cream of Wheat by making a face in it with m&ms. Now I do that with Bella. She calls it "funny face" cereal.

Here is what my family looks like as m&ms. (Sizes are not to scale -- Bella's tall and getting taller but she has yet to pass me up. Maybe in kindergarten.)

A more recent family food tradition is making this cinnamon candy-coated popcorn for Valentine's Day. It's also yummy at Christmas, but I usually don't make it for all the other traditional holiday goodies.


32 cups plain popped popcorn (If you're using an air popper, this is 1 1/4 cups unpopped kernels.)

1 cup margarine or butter

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 9-ounce package Red Hot candies

Grease with shortening or cooking spray three 13-by-9-inch pans. Put the popped popcorn in the pans.

Melt margarine, syrup and candy together; bring to a boil (the candies will sort of clump at first, but they do eventually dissolve.) Boil 5 minutes.

Pour over popcorn and stir to coat.

Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool. Break apart. Store in airtight container.

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Sun-dried tomato bread

This sun-dried tomato bread is dense and flavorful. It bakes up as a tall, golden, pretty loaf. For lunch today, I sliced two pieces and made a grilled cheese sandwich with fontina cheese.


The recipe originally came from a Junior League cookbook but the Miami Herald adapted and reprinted it.


1 bunch green onions

1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

5 ounces provolone cheese, grated

2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature

2 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 9-inch loaf pan or three 5-by-3-by-2-inch pans.

Slice the green onions thin, and include 1 inch of the green part. Drain and chop the tomatoes, reserving 2 tablespoons of the oil. Heat the tomato oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, and saute the garlic and rosemary just until the garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and baking soda. Stir in the cheese until well distributed. In antoher bowl, beat the shortening and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs and buttermilk, beating until well combined. Stir in the cooled garlic-oil mixture, the scallions and the dried tomatoes.

Add liquid ingredients to the dry, stirring just until combined. Fold in the pine nuts.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the middle of the oven until a cake tester comes out clean, 25-30 minutes for the small loaves, 45-50 minutes for the large loaf.

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