Happy National Chocolate Day!

Perhaps one of the greatest pros about writing your own blog are the free samples people send your way.  Some samples are better than others, but I am excited to tell you about one of the best products I have sampled so far.  My mother discovered a product called Brownie Points and told the owner about Alibabka.   A few days later a package arrived at my door.  There was a delicious assortment of popcorn and brownies with delectable flavors.  I couldn’t resist opening up the popcorn first, since it is one of my most favorite snack foods. Between me and a few of my friends, we managed to consume almost all of the contents of the box within a week.  I had to taste a bit of each in order for me to write a review…it’s just so so hard being a food blogger 😉

In order to prep for Hurricane Sandy or “Frankenstorm” I made some delicious popcorn inspired by the one from Brownie Points.  I recommend ordering from Brownie Points and making this recipe while you wait for the package to come.  It will definitely tide you over.  Below, you will see all the flavors that were sent to me.  The brownies are more like fudge, but nonetheless awesome.  I put them in order from most to least favorite, enjoy!

Contents of my Brownie Points box

(I would love to try the Nutty Caramel Popcorn)
Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt – Popcorn + Chocolate + Caramel + Sea Salt = Holy Shnikey! AMAZING!
Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch – You have to try this!  Loaded with peanut butter, caramel and chocolate!
Apple Pie – So good!  Really impressed by how authentic the taste was to apple pie!
Trendy Trash – Good, but too many flavors and textures.

Butterscotch Sensations – We put this in the microwave for less than a minute.  It make this even more amazing!
Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt – Caramel and Sea Salt were meant to be paired together.
Buckeye Brownie – Ummm, yummm! Just look at the picture.
Raspberry Caramel Fudge – Something different and not loaded with caramel or peanut butter, the raspberry was refreshing and delicious!
Cappuccino Toffee Fudge – I should replace this with my morning coffee (or with my morning coffee)
Fudgey Cookie Crunch – Chocolate Chip Cookies + Brownie = need I say more?
Chocolate Fudge – Chocolate lovers, you want this!
Peanut Butter Passion – Definitely loaded with peanut butter, just a little too much for my taste.
“Original” Kitchen Sink – Tasty, but a lot going on.
Brownie Points is certified kosher under the vaad of Columbus.
Chocolate Covered Popcorn
3 TBS. Oil
1/3 C. Popcorn Kernels
1/2 C. Peanuts
1 1/2 C. Chocolate Chips
Salt to taste

In a large pot with a lid, heat up oil and add a small handful of popcorn kernels to start.

 When the popcorn starts popping, add in the rest of the kernels and cover the pot leaving a little bit of the lid ajar (this keeps the popcorn from becoming soggy).  When you hear a few seconds in between popping, take the pot off the stove.

Dump the popcorn onto a cookie sheet pan lined with foil.
In a smaller pot melt the chocolate on low.   When the chocolate chips are almost completely melted, take the pot off the heat (you do not want to burn the chocolate).

Mix in the peanuts on top of the popcorn and drizzle the chocolate all over the popcorn. Sprinkle a little salt over the popcorn. Pop the pan in the freezer or fridge and serve when chocolate has hardened.

Shout out to Shy and Sivan Krug for helping me consume the popcorn!

And The BEET Goes On…

Known to stain everything it comes it contact with, beets are by far one of my favorite vegetables! Their leaves and stems are very flavorful, full of great vitamins and their bitter flavors contrast so nicely to the sweet beet.  I couldn’t help but use every part of this plant in my recipe!  The crust has a nutty flavor, giving this tart a comforting feeling; like chicken soup, chicken pot pie, or mac and cheese.  
Tonight, I surprised my fiance’ and a few friends with this great addition to our make-shift impromptu communal dinner.  It was a huge hit and this recipe will definitely be added to my spontaneous (and non spontaneous) meal menus in the future!  

Beet and Sweet Potato Tart

3/4 C. Walnuts, fineley processed
3/4 C. Cashews, finely processed
1 C. Flour
6 TBS. Earth Balance, cut into cubes
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 TBS. Flax Meal

3 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced
4 Garlic Cloves, peeled and sliced
1/4 C. Almond Milk
2 TBS. Earth Balance
3 Beets, Leaves and Stems, sliced thinly, beets seperate from leaves and stems
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350.
In a food processor, mix the nuts, flour, salt and flax meal.  Add the butter and turn the food processor on till the dough forms a ball.  Using your hands, press the dough into a non stick tart pan with a removable bottom. Put the pan in the oven for 10 min. Remove from oven and reserve for later.

In a pot with boiling water, add the potatoes and garlic cloves.  Boil till the potatoes are soft.  Drain the potatoes and garlic and mix in the earth balance, almond milk, and beet leaves.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Smooth the mashed potato mixture over the crust.  Place the beets in a circular pattern on top of the mashed sweet potatoes. Drizzle the beets with a little olive oil, a few extra beet leaves and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Bake in oven for 50 minutes.  Serve warm.

How Not To End Up On PeopleofWalMart.Com

4 Rules For Grocery Shopping:

1) Make a list. This will reduce the likelihood of grabbing THIS off the shelf.

2) Never shop while hungry (or on a fast day), you will overbuy!

3) Get dressed. Don’t wear pajamas or next thing you know there will be a picture of you HERE…

4) Bring your coupons or saver’s card. Don’t you get all fuzzy and tingly when you see how much you have saved on the bottom of the receipt?

I am ashamed to say that I don’t always follow my rules.  Rule number 2 is the biggest challenge for me; I ALWAYS shop while hungry.

After your shopping trip, it is important to figure out how to use the produce before it goes bad.  A few weeks ago, I catered an 150 person event and ordered too much cabbage. After many days of eating fresh coleslaw, I decided to make and freeze cabbage soup.  The winter months are coming and there is nothing better than eating a hot bowl of soup on a cold night.

The cabbage soup below is a one pot meal.  Made with cabbage, tomatoes, lentils and beans, this soup is extremely versatile and wonderfully tasty.  I add ground up cooked meat or morning star to the soup to add some extra protein.

De-Constructed Stuffed Cabbage Soup
Makes A Lot!

2 Onions, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 TBS. Oil
2 Carrots, diced
2 Stocks Celery, diced 1 Head of Cabbage, sliced thin
2 Cans Chopped Tomatoes, with juice
1 Can Kidney Beans
1 Cup Lentils
8-10 C. Vegetable Broth
1/2 C. Parsley, chopped
1 tsp. Oregano
1 lb. Ground Meat or MorningStar (optional)
Salt and Pepper

Heat oil in a large pot.  Add onions and saute till translucent.  Add garlic, carrots, and celery and saute for another minute.  Add tomatoes, kidney beans, lentils and cabbage.  Pour in the broth until it reaches about 2 inches about the cabbage.  Add the parsley and oregano.  Cover and let simmer till vegetable and lentils are tender and cooked, about 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  In another pan, saute the meat or morningstar till brown.  Top each bowl of soup with the ground meat.