Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't become a Fast Food Fatality... 4 Foolproof Ways to get Fresh, Flavorful Food on your Table- Fast!

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It's a rainy day... the kind of day where I'd like to stay in my pink PJ's all day, cuddled up on the couch with my laptop, and Food TV... and what is it with December 21st in these parts being too warm for a fire??? ;-)

And if it wasn't for the whole week's worth of carbs I ate at lunch today (thank you Mellow Mushroom!), I might have just dialed up some delivery.

But we both know that leads down a very unflavorful, ok, yea, yea, unfavorable path... ;-)

So here are 4 sure-fire ways that get me (and hopefully you) up off the couch and into the kitchen... cooking!

#1- Put on some good tunes... something that you can't help but MOVE TO!  Click play now, turn it up, and read on for even more fun!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Dinner: Dinnertime Divas- What Started as a Challenge, Ended in Satisfied Bellies and Smiling Hearts

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"Your Italian Sausage, Spinach and Parmesan Stuffing was so moist...
~That Crown Roast was juicy and that Garlic, Balsamic Sauce was perfect!...
~The Mustard, Thyme Roasted Potatoes melted in my mouth...
~And that Cranberry Orange Cheesecake- to die for."

Yea, Yea, been there.  Done that.

Seriously, this whole holiday thing was feeling a bit dreary and dried up. 
And I was craving some outside-the-box foodie creations!

Mom & Pop came early this year (aka Mimi and Papa, in case any of the grand kids are reading... ;-)

And, well, Mom is my foodie hero.  She taught me to cook at about 2, and it's been my passion ever since.  She was the first one on our block to buy a pasta roller, garlic press, and she introduced me to roasting!  And some of the BEST restaurants and gourmet food stores in Santa Barbara (and beyond), not to mention inspired my love for B&B's and holiday cooking. 

And, I still love cooking with her.


And we've all shared some amazing meals together, especially Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Menu 9: Dinnertime Divas- Table for Two or for Nights When it's Just You, Especially After a Move!

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I moved on Saturday... and I don't just mean yoga!


(love yoga on the fly... two of the most beautiful murals in Cary, NC!) 

Up at 4am, 9 hr. round trip drive to Asheville and back to Raleigh, loaded, then unloaded a 16-footer full of very heavy furniture and even more so, beautiful memories...

Lots of stuff, 2-1/2 days of STUFF, and man, today I'm feeling stiff!

And, I'm late.  Way past my very own self-imposed Dinnertime Divas deadline... man! 

200 weekly Sunday columns over 3 years for the newspaper, and never missed a deadline- well except once...
I think I was moving then too! ;-)

Life happens.  And sometimes instead of being all healthy and combined and getting your recommended daily allowance of fruits and veggies... you'd rather just veg out.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chef Di's Top Ten Gift Picks Sure to Bring a Smile to Even the Finickiest of Foodies

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It's always better to give than receive...

unless it's a foodie gift.  Bring it on, baby! ;-)


But seriously, there's something about a foodie gift, that's different than the standard socks, sweater or Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate
(although, that is very nice too!)

Foodie gifts are really gifts that GIVE.

Give?

Yea, Give.  Because each time we "put on our apron" and cook up meals for our family and friends, we're not just nourishing bodies, but we're also passing on love and good intentions... and a piece of our hearts and soul through our food!

Love that.



Here are 10 of my favorite foodie gifts that will help spread the love... and give a few more smiles to those who give us smiles every day through their love and passion and creativity with food!  ♥ ♥ ♥

Monday, December 5, 2011

Menu 8: Dinnertime Divas Vegan! Does the Thought of Eating Tofu, Terrify? Here are 5 Meals to Give it all a Try... on Tippytoes!

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Face it, Vegans are sexier. 

And Vegans can eat potatoes.  Without guilt.

Jealous.

But seriously... sexier?  Yea, sexier.  Well, at least these days, this way of eating is more accepted as a way to be more balanced, get healthier (and thinner) and help the environment... now THAT's sexy! ;-)

But seitan? Sounds scary...

And TVP and tempeh?  Not so tempting...

This week is all about baby steps.  Feeling out the waters before you take the Vegan plunge- with simple, everyday ingredients, that don't intimidate, are budget-friendly... and that you can pronounce!

Simply avoid meats and dairy one meal a day, for five days, and be introduced to new vegetables, fruits, grains, herbs and a lot of healthier, sexy foodie FLAVORS along the way!  It's all about being open-minded... try it, your arteries and sinuses will thank you.

Here are 5 Vegan Meals sure to please meat-eaters and veggies alike! (I think I just saw Mother Nature, and a few cows, pigs... and chickens smile ;-)


Bon Appétit, my sweets!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Menu 7: Dinnertime Divas- Five Tasty Dinners Sure to Trim your Tummy... Despite Those Turkey Day Transgressions!

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My jeans were tight today. 

Tight. 

Yea, tight.

... but I still got them buttoned ;-)

(and no, this isn't me... but it could have been 2 days ago!)

Thanksgiving is all about family favorites, and celebrating loved ones...
and it's just once a year.

Right?

RIGHT!

And it's OK that I ate carbs.  And I may have done the unthinkable thirds... and made huge dents in my fav yams w/those mini marshmallows that I could swim in.  And argued that stuffing is really a vegetable (it has celery...right?)  And had pie the last three mornings...at 9am.

But that all has to stop... just about now.  And HOW!~ 
Because the NEXT holiday round is less than four weeks away!

So, this week, I'm bringing you five healthy and food combined meals.  
With a little less cream and pretty much lacking in cheese... but, all with a lot of love and a ton of FLAVOR. 

It's time for some tough love, people
(but promise, these meals will still make you ;-)

Let's get back on track- together!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After, and This Turkey (and her Tootsies) are Tired!

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The day after Thanksgiving is a "couch potato in slippers" kind of day. The kind of day where you know you have THREE more days left in the weekend (YaY!) And the last thing on your mind is spending more time in the kitchen... spending more money...or eating more turkey!

So, it's back to basics.


Roasting.  I love roasting.  

Roasting is flavorful, soothing, and cheap!

(The Smoked Apple Chardonnay Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe's is a must- YUM!!!)


$13.  4 servings.  Under 10 in the kitchen... yes, you're welcome tootsies!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Butchers = LOVE

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I'm in love with my butcher. 

(no, this is not my butcher, but a very famous butcher out in Brooklyn!)

Well, not in a romantic way, by any means, but today I earned an entirely new respect for him, and every other butcher as I "walked the line" at my Food Lion.


Makes sense... like cheerleaders love the quarterback,  Lady loves The Tramp, peanut butter loves jelly, and especially how Alice loved Sam... ;-) 


It's inevitable.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dinnertime Divas: Tastiest Thanksgiving Dinner... Times Two!

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Thanksgiving is a time of love, togetherness, friends and families, sharing... and that slight hint of fear,
wondering what covered dish Aunt Bea's bringing
to the table this year!

(one of the funniest holiday bits ever!  All in good fun, my veggie friends ;-)

So, to shield you from tofu, and take-out, oh my!
Here are two menus sure to make your hearts and bellies smile...  no lie! ;-) 

From our families to yours
Happy Thanksgiving
~With love... and thanks, Diana & Laura, Flavor Chefs   



Bon Appétit, our sweets!
 Chef Laura's Meal Plan:

I grew up in a family that didn’t celebrate holidays.

When I was in my early 20’s, I had no family to spend the holiday with. So, I started cooking a huge dinner as if I had all kinds of people coming over, and my son and I would invite anyone who had nothing else to do. I have carried on this tradition for years now, cooking a huge meal and inviting any and all friends and their families who would otherwise be eating takeout for the holiday.

I often end up with an array of people from completely different areas of my life. It has come to be called "Friends"giving. I cook the exact same easy, but delicious meal every year, and many people have told me that it is these very foods that they consider to be comfort foods. Of course, they have no idea how simple the menu really is. Many of the dishes come from old family recipes that have never even been written down- until now!

I love that this easy menu allows me to see all of these people gathered around my table, enjoying good food, wine, and company, like everyone else, rather than being stuck in the kitchen for the whole party. Every year I take 2 or 3 minutes to sit back and send thankfulness for all of the wonderful people in my life, and especially for those who happen to be with me at that special time.

Starting your own traditions with your nearest and dearest can’t be easier or more delicious than this Thanksgiving menu.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Menu 6- Dinnertime Divas: Dust off that Crock Pot for Five Dinners that "Work It" while you Work... or Play!

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Today, I did it.  I really did it.  I joined the Crock Pot craze...
and reverted to my youth! 
...like fashion, everything old really is new again.

And as I stood in the line to pay at Target, I couldn't help but think of watching I Love Lucy and her antics (Vitameatavegamin! ;-)  And June Cleaver, and 60's and 70's (when the Crock Pot was invented) women everywhere.  With beehive hairdos and ruffled aprons, yelling at misbehaving children, "wait until your father gets home!" And where the highlight of the day was getting a home cooked meal on the table- every day, in red lipstick, and pearls!

Yes, I was born a century (or two) too late.


But Crock Pot cooking doesn't have to include Cream of Mushroom Soup, BBQ, Pot Roast or Stove Top Stuffing. Crock Pots really can be the new black when it comes to healthy, creative, gourmet and SIMPLE cooking!

Here's a week of meals sure to comfort your heart and soul, 2011 style...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Menu 5- Dinnertime Divas: Happiness is Flavorful Food... FAST!

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Short on time?  Here are 5 weeknight meal plans... perfect for those on the go!
Simple.     Cost-effective.     Yum!
Bon Appétit, my sweets!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu 4- Dinnertime Divas: La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin... ahhh, the French!

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"Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris."
~Thomas Gold Appleton


I love this picture.  And I love every single memory that Mom and I had celebrating Mother's Day in Paris a few years back. 

You see, Since I was very little, I've always been drawn to Paris... the Eiffel Tower, playing Frère Jacques on the piano, and especially dancing the cancan!!!


We started and ended our trip in this cafe, and became "famous" with the waiters (ok, one in particular). Despite the fact that I completely butchered their language with my first sandwich order, and 5 minutes in, with a heavy heart I said, "Oh, no, it's true... the French really do hate Americans."

But they don't. That week in Paris, that same waiter who at first I thought was pooh poohing us, ended up chasing us down the street to wave hello each day, as we passed the cafe from our hotel.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Menu 3- Dinnertime Divas: Foodie Twists to Tempt your Tastebuds

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Face it, fixing dinner EVERY night can put you in a foodie funk... especially when you're trying to keep it healthy, and especially when you're short on time and foodie funds- b.o.r.i.n.g.

Chicken... and then more chicken... lemme guess- chicken tonight???

Well I say it's time to mix it up, and twist it up! 

Because like martinis, games with spots, heavy metal glam bands of the 80's... and the dance move that is as good for your abs as it is for a good smile- everything is better with a twist.


Bon Appétit, my sweets!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Menu 2- Dinnertime Divas: Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall Fabulous Flavors

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The leaves painting the skyline in shades of greens, yellows, oranges, purples and reds are a sure sign of Fall. Just like the Fall bounty of pumpkins, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, spinach, leeks, beets, grapes, apples, cranberries and quince- using the same color palette. 

And as the seasons change, so should our eating, as Mother Nature gives us the perfect fruits and vegetables at the perfect time- chock full of vitamins and nutrients that help us flourish and stay healthy.

In honor of changing seasons, this week's menu focuses on Fall produce. Foods that are still fresh and flavorful- like Summer, but a bit more soothing to the belly and the soul. Bon Appétit, my sweets!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Menu 1- Dinnertime Divas: Roasting Lets you Rest Easier

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I fell in love with roasting back in the 90's and it's still my cooking method of choice... from meats to veggies (love roasted leeks, asparagus, fennel- and have you tried roasted Brussels Sprouts? Yum!) to fruits... roasted tomatoes and grapes taste like candy.

Simple preparation.  Simple clean up.  Intense flavor, and the theme of this week's menus. 

Bon Appétit, my sweets!