Archive for November, 2011

Think Global this Thanksgiving {A Somali Sambusa Recipe}

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

It’s hard to believe, but here we are at the start of the holiday shopping season. Oh, and Thanksgiving, too. As we surround ourselves with delicious food, friends and family, it’s too easy to stay caught up in our own little world. Of course, this is also the season for giving, and opportunities to do so are plentiful.

thanksgiving plates

This year, I’ve tried to select methods that will resonate with my five-year-old son and help him begin to understand gratitude. Yesterday we dropped off our shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, a small selection of toys, school supplies, superhero toothbrushes and warm socks that will travel to a 5-9-year-old boy in a yet-to-be-determined country. We’ll be able to check our tracking number to see where it winds up, but naturally Africa came up as I explained to my son why there were kids who needed our kindness in order to celebrate the holiday.

It seems most people of my generation were raised with the stern admonition at the dinner table that “there are starving children in Africa who would love to eat your meal.” I remember cutting and pasting pictures of Ethiopian children from National Geographic for an elementary-school report about the famine. It’s almost incomprehensible that that saying, which we treat as a cliché, is every bit as true today.

A representative of the ONE Campaign (you know, Bono’s anti-hunger nonprofit) recently asked me to share this virtual recipe card with a Somali recipe for Date-Filled Sambusas, adapted by Sarah Commerford of What’s Cooking in Your World. The recipe is meant to help raise awareness of global hunger and the escalating famine in the Horn of Africa. You can view the recipe below, or download a PDF copy here. And click here to learn more about the situation in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and how we can help.

Thanksgiving Virtual Recipe Card

I’m not sure if we’ll get to it for Thanksgiving, but I look forward to making these with my kids soon. And I hope you’ll consider working it into your holiday baking plans this season as well. It can be hard to imagine that the food that connects us is so scarce for so many — but hopefully by sharing recipes like these we can spread awareness and band together to help others, at home and abroad.

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!
Colleen & the Foodie Tots

Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes {and Macy’s Giveaway}

Friday, November 18th, 2011

One of my favorite things about the holidays is learning the stories behind treasured family recipes. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to holiday meals, and yet I can’t resist the occasional tinkering or experimentation. While our Thanksgiving menu generally resembles the meals I had growing up, I’ve taken a few liberties with some dishes. We rarely spend the holiday with my own family, so I make the sweeter cranberry sauce we prefer instead of my aunt’s cranberry-orange relish, and add blue cheese to my mom’s green bean amandine. Other things, like sweet potato casserole, have made their way to our menu even though I don’t recall having had them as a kid.

For one of the first Thanksgiving meals my husband and I hosted, I decided to add a Southern twist to that ubiquitous sweet potato and marshmallow casserole. (This Oregon girl and New York boy now reside in Virginia; though just slightly in “The South,” there are a few Southern favorites we’ve embraced, like bourbon.) A splash of bourbon and crunch of pecans counters the sweetness, and the result is a fully-loaded crowd pleaser of a casserole that’s earned its place on the table every year. The kids go nuts for the marshmallows while the grown-ups like the sophistication of the bourbon. I’m kidding of course, the grown-ups go just as nuts for the marshmallows as the kids. After all, at what other meal of the year can you get away with topping the vegetables with candy?

southern candied sweet potatoes with bourbon

Recipe: Southern Candied Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 large potatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/8 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 2 cups marshmallows

Instructions:

1. Wash, peel and cut potatoes into large chunks. Place in a large pot and fill with cold water to one inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Drain.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread potatoes in an 9×12-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, brown sugar, pecan pieces, and bourbon. Place marshmallows on top.

3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until marshmallow tops are golden brown. Makes 6 servings.

~~~

macys recipe contestWhat’s your family’s favorite holiday dish? Macy’s wants to know: Macy’s is cooking up a storm at its Facebook page and asking fans to share their most-loved recipes here. Then, fans can vote for their favorites for a chance to win fun prizes! The Facebook contest is open until November 30.

And, you can enter to win a prize right here: Macy’s is offering one lucky FoodieTots reader a choice of one of four products:

-          Martha Stewart Professional Cookware Ceramic Covered Casserole Dish (perfect for sweet potato casserole!)

-          Martha Stewart Professional Cookware Hard Anodized Fry Pans (set of 3)

-          Martha Stewart Professional Cookware Stainless Steel 15” Roaster with Roasting Rack

-          Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving and Holiday Cookbook

To enter, simply leave a comment below sharing which item you would choose and what you’d cook with it. The giveaway ends Friday, November 25 at 11:59pm, Eastern time. The winner will be notified by email so be sure to leave a valid email when you comment (will only be visible to me). For additional entries, tweet or share the contest on Facebook, then leave an additional comment here letting me know you’ve done so. Good luck, and happy cooking!

Update: Thanks everyone for entering our holiday giveaway — the contest is now closed and the lucky commenter is #13, Sara. Check your email, Sara!

Tea and Manners with Mrs. B

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

You know the drill. The crowd has gathered for the holiday, friends and family are seated around the table and lovingly-prepared food is passed from plate to plate. Just as the chatter dies down, while people dig in for their first bite, your charming child loudly declares, “Ew, this is disgusting!” We’ve all been there. (We have, right?) Well local parents rejoice: The Grille at Morrison House hosts a monthly story time tea with Mrs. B. Who’s Mrs. B, you ask? A children’s etiquette teacher.

tea spread

The monthly themed teas cater to the children with an introductory activity, kid-friendly menu items (pb&j and egg salad sandwiches, naturally), and story time. All the while, Mrs. B works in subtle tips about proper tea time manners casually throughout the afternoon. Tea is served in the hotel’s elegant tea room (available for afternoon tea for grown-ups every Saturday, 2:00-5:00pm).

We were invited to attend the Spooky Halloween tea and my five-year-old son had an absolute blast. He was smitten with Mrs. B, delighted to hear they had a “special hot chocolate” just for him and thoroughly enthralled the entire time.

tea with mrs b

Spooky Tea with Mrs. B

The breaks between the savory and sweet courses helped keep him entertained, and the champagne cocktail for mama made the afternoon even sweeter. As we left he declared that he wanted to return every month. The November and December teas feature Thanksgiving and Christmas themes, naturally, but story-time teas are held the third Saturday of every month. See details below for reservation information. And visit Mrs. B’s website for more info about her other classes and birthday parties. (I foresee a birthday tea party for the foodie bebe someday.)

MONTHLY STORY TIME TEA with MRS. B

The Morrison House
Old Town Alexandria, Va.

Every third Saturday of the Month, 2pm

November 19: Giving Thanks
December 17: A Very Merry Christmas Tea

All ages welcome

$38 adult / $28 child

RSVP
703-838-8000
storytime@morrisonhouse.com

Disclosure: We attended the tea as guests of the Grille at Morrison House. As always, all opinions and reviews are our own.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies {Kids Cook Monday}

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I know, here we are on the cusp of holiday baking season — the arrival of Gourmet’s annual cookie issue was better than Christmas to many a food blogger — and here I am with plain old chocolate chip cookies. But before the hustle and bustle of the holidays, why not enjoy a simple pleasure. A recipe simple enough to make with the kids, an easy after-school treat for a rainy Monday, or, in my case, a quick way to assuage a mama’s guilt after a weekend away.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies can be a polarizing matter — do you like yours crispy or chewy? I add oatmeal, which makes them healthy (it does, right?) and lends the perfect crisp-chewy texture, in my opinion. Like many recipes, it is based off the back of the chocolate chip package. Aside from the addition of oatmeal, I also double the salt and add almond extract with the vanilla. (I can’t take credit for that either — it’s a tip gleaned from Giada.) I’ve been known to use a mix of raisins or cranberries, or even coconut, with the chocolate chips, but I’ll leave those choices up to you.

Recipe: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Ghiradelli’s baking chip package

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 ounces chocolate baking chips

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and almond extracts, continuing to mix on low speed until well combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt, then gradually add oats until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and drop dough by tablespoon onto pans. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until centers are dry and edges are lightly golden. Remove to cooling rack and try to hold back little hands at least until the cookies are no longer piping hot.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your scoops.

Peko Peko: Remember Japan and Jump Start Your Holiday Shopping

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Peko Peko Charity Cookbook
Today marks the eight-month anniversary of the Japan earthquake and tsunami that brought widespread devastation to that country. While our news cycle has moved on to many other stories in the weeks and months since then, the people of Japan continue to rebuild their homes and livelihoods. A few months ago, I contributed a recipe to Peko Peko: Family Friendly Japanese Recipes, a charity cookbook organized by Stacie of One Hungry Mama and Rachel of La Fuji Mama. Through the generous support of Blurb.com, $11.45 from each book sale (purchase price $29.95) goes directly to the GlobalGiving Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. That’s right — unlike other charity sales where pennies and nickles go to the cause, more than 1/3 of the sales go to the most critical areas in Japan.

Click here to see the full list of recipes contained in the cookbook — each contributed by well-known food bloggers.

shitake mushroom miso soup

(My contribution is pictured above, but you’ll have to buy the book for the recipe!) And then hop over to Blurb to order copies for all your friends and family for the holidays.

Thanks for your support!