Disclosure: I was not asked to write a product review. I purchased the foodsaver with my own funds and came up with the idea of a product review on my own. I was not compensated for my time. Opinions are my own.
A few weeks ago I had a problem I’ve never had before. But it was a good problem. You see, my son went fishing and unlike his other fishing trips, he actually caught something. Here’s proof. And so when he and his friends arrived home with a cooler full of wahoo, I was at a loss for words and at a loss for how to store it to lock in freshness. Because I knew,
as much as we like fish, we wouldn’t be finishing ten plus pounds in a couple of days. So what would be the best way to freeze these keepers to maintain the nutritional value, flavor and overall quality? My first thought was a vacuum food sealer, but it didn’t make sense to spend $400 (or more) on a system to freeze such a small amount of fish, once. So I opted for a hand held system, the food saver®, I purchased for a mere fraction of the cost of a big unit, $19.99 to be exact.
This hand held device comes with quart sized freezing bags that were a perfect size for my needs, freezing individual 3/4 – 1 pound portions of wahoo steak. This system is simple to use. Fill quart zipper bags with fish. Place the nozzle of the Food Saver® over the designated circle on the bag. Turn it on. Most all of the air is removed and the fish was ready for the freezer in minutes.
Have you ever used a vacuum food sealer before? What are your thoughts?
n. noun the act of expecting or foreseeing something; expectation or presentiment.
If you’ve been following this blog you are aware that I am, along with my colleagues, anticipating the #BlogBrûlée. Woo Hoo! We’ve been tweeting, blogging and instagraming for weeks now about this inaugrual event taking place over the weekend of Sept 12 in beautiful Vermont. Why? Because anticipation is half the fun! The same goes for eating. Love your food! Instead of settling for the easiest option (something straight out of a bag or box), add a little pizazz to the lunch or bento boxes of your loved ones with the promise of something homemade, fresh and flavorful. Maybe like this…I made these chocolate cookie bars with creamy filling in response to this month’s Recipe Redux challenge. The theme for August: Bars and Bites for Brown Bags, is timed just right for back to school.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid and carried a bagged lunch everyday, I always anticipated that one special surprise mom would tuck in. She loved to bake, so I had the best desserts. Well, thanks to Mom, I always had first draft picks when it came to bartering for food in the school cafeteria! One ofthe nicest thing about baking your own goodies is you can pack a little more nutrition into something homemade. Homemade items are also tastier. These cookie bars evolved from a chocolate drop cookie I made little healthier by substituting Greek yogurt for some of the butter (see the cheat sheet on the right for more ways to use Greek yogurt to reduce fat in baking), and boosting the fiber and phytonutrients by swapping white whole wheat for half of the all purpose flour. The filling is identical to the filling in my Oatmeal Bars with Creamy Ricotta Filling, except I replaced the lemon zest with pistachios. The result was everything I had hoped for, moist, chocolatey with a sweet and salty middle. Please see the links at the bottom of this post for more nutritious ideas that will have your loved ones anticipating their bagged lunches like never before.
Chocolate Cookies Bars with Creamy Filling
by Diane Boyd
1 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup white whole wheat flour, sifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the filling
16 oz part skim ricotta cheese or low fat cottage cheese, drained
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil.
3. In a large bowl sift together the flours, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. Cream yogurt, butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
5. Beat in flour mixture a little at a time, until well blended and smooth.
6. Set aside 1 cup of dough and refrigerate.
7. Spread the remainder of the dough into the prepared baking pan using a spatula or the bottom of a measuring cup to press the dough into a even layer.
8 Make the filling by adding ricotta cheese, sugar, egg, honey to a medium bowl and stirring to combine.
9. Spread filling evenly over the bottom layer of dough.
10. Take out out the reserved dough from the refrigerator and using a grater, shred dough over top of filling creating third layer, or simply crumble reserved dough on top.
11. Bake 40 to 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Store in the refrigerator. Pack in lunch or bento boxes with a lunch box freezer pack or next to a bottle of frozen water.
Disclosure: My attendance at the Blog Brûlée is partially funded by Sponsor’s of the Blog Brûlée and I have received a discounted registration to the event in exchange for writing this post. Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.
There’s nothing else like doing something for the first time! It’s exciting! And exhilarating! Even a bit scary. Right now, I’m feeling all of these sensations as I plan my trip to Vermont to attend my very first blogging conference, and the inaugural Blog Brûlée! Today’s post is about what I hope to achieve during the weekend of September 12-14 in the mountains with 30 food bloggers!
Like all continuing education conferences, I will be trying to fill my noggin with as much information as will stick. What type of know how is necessary for a good food blog? If there’s one thing I have learned from blogging it’s this: gorgeous photos lure people to your site. Taking pictures of food is NOT something that comes natural to me. When I first began my blog (this September will be my third year anniversary), I didn’t know a thing about photography and getting a picture to go along with my post was not a piece of cake. Admittedly, I still struggle with it at times today. So here’s something that thrills me; I will be picking up photography skills from 3 amazing gals – I consider them the crème de la crème of food photography: Regan Jones of Healthy Aperture; Gretchen Brown of Kumquat; and Deanna Seagrave-Daily of Teaspoon of Spice. What an opportunity!
What else is important? You’ve probably heard this before but I will repeat it, content is king! I cannot think of two better individuals to share their advice on the art of story telling than media personality Brierley Wright from EatingWell.com and Eating Well Magazine (one of my personal favorite foodie magazines) and Dallas, Texas based nutrition and culinary expert Robin Plotkin of Robinsbite. Nutrition is a science, but writing about nutrition is an art. This creative outlet (along with photography) brings balance to my work day!
Better story telling and improved images here we come!!! Is there more? Yes, on a strictly personal note, I am seeking direction. It’s great not having a boss, but there’s a down side to flying solo. Sometimes you need someone to be honest. Someone to tell you… this is great.. or lousy… or you should spend more time doing this… or you’re wasting your time on that. I hate that at the end of the day when my husband asks, “What can I do to help you?” I have to answer, “I don’t know!” I am looking forward to three speakers who are champions when it comes to building a virtual community. EA Stewart, the Spicy RD, has a strategy that aligns with her personal philosophy. Then there is the dynamic duo, Janice Bissex and Liz Weiss, aka Meal Makeover Moms, who have mastered the art of name recognition! Online communities are here and now. My membership in the blogging community Recipe Redux has been an all around positive experience and I attribute much of the growth of my blog to this virtual community. Of course I’m curious how I can continue to use social media to influence, grow and create more opportunities.
Last but not least, I hope to recharge my battery. Outside of the time I spend with private patients and public speaking, most of my work-time is spent alone; reading, writing, developing recipes, prepping food, grocery shopping, cooking, taking and editing photographs, planning menus and meal patterns, brainstorming and putting together power point presentations. It’s quiet and it gets lonely (thank goodness for my son’s chocolate lab, Brody). It will be great to have some up-close and personal time with individuals I communicate with online and I’m enthusiastic to hear about each and every speaker’s and attendee’s experiences, ideas, passions and dreams. Let’s face it, food bloggers feed off of each other! Pun intended.
Before I close, I’m shouting out to all the generous brands for making this inaugural event possible. I know my first time will be a memorable one! Thank you!