Thursday, April 30, 2009

Delish Cupcakes

How cute are these? They're billed as no fat, no calorie cupcakes. Just fill your tub, put one under the running water, and they fizz to make a bubble bath. By Delish Gourmet Bath Bakery.

They come in various colors and scents, and the presentation really is adorable. Check them out at http://www.delishbath.com.


Five cupcakes!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Candle Jewelry

I have to admit to a fondness for jewelry -- but candle jewelry? This was a new one on me. For the diva who wants to dress up her plain Jane candles, cute little pins are now available. They're metal and come with a very strong straight pin on the reverse side so you can adorn your candles. And when the candle burns down, or you change your color scheme, you can remove the cute little bug and put it on another candle. Who knew?

Three cupcakes. They work -- as shown. But I have enough problems without worrying about what my candles are wearing. A candle enthusiast might award five cupcakes, though.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vidalia Chop Wizard Part Two

My next step was to try a carrot. The down side is that one has to slice the carrot first. Normally, I would have just left the carrot in slices. I have to admit, though, that the Vidalia Chop Wizard did a great job of creating equal sized diced carrot bits, which looked quite nice next to the onions. Not bad for a stir fry or a salad.




It came a surprise to realize that a carrot is so much softer than a sweet potato, but it must be because I had no problem dicing the carrot.

So, on the theory that the Chop Wizard does better on softer foods, I tried it on a strawberry. Child's play.


But in this photo of the diced strawberry, I think you can see what I mean when I say it doesn't really dice because it doesn't make a horizontal cut. The pieces are by no means unattractive, and it didn't crush the strawberry, but they wouldn't be called diced. Of course, one could slice the strawberry first and then use the Chop Wizard, which would then produce a diced strawberry.



And then I inserted a mushroom. Talk about fun!
The Chop Wizard diced those Crimini mushrooms like a pro. Open, insert, close. Open, insert, close. In less than a minute, I had gorgeous diced mushrooms. They were perfect.


The Vidalia Chop Wizard keeps it all organized
inside the container, and by standing it on end, it's easy to see how much you've chopped. At that point, I was sold. But then I thought, gee, how often do I want diced mushrooms? Sure, it would be handy for a side dish or an omelet, but is it really that hard to slice a mushroom? Or a strawberry, for that matter?

I didn't try the Chop Wizard on a hard boiled egg, but I can imagine that if you were making huge quantities of egg salad, it would speed up the process enormously. In minutes, it would make lovely uniform pieces. It would save a lot of time, and they would look nice.

So then I thought -- maybe the Chop Wizard can be very practical. Fruit salad? The pieces would all be similar in size, which would look attractive. But I'm not sure I'd bother to haul it out for the average fruit salad. It just doesn't take that long to slice and dice most fruit.

The package says that it's dishwasher safe, a big plus in my opinion. So I gladly placed the container, the top and the two slicing panels in the top rack of my dishwasher, glad that I didn't have to scrub all those little holes in the grid. But when I took it out after the dishwasher ran, I realized that I should have used the little cleaning device first, because bits of food were still stuck inside the little squares of the blade. On top of that, even though I had only used it once as described here, the inside of the white top was already stained and unattractive.

So, here's my opinion on the Vidalia Chop Wizard. If you need large quantities of chopped fruits or vegetables, if you have a large family or you regularly cook great quantities for pot lucks or other social activities -- then the Vidalia Chop Wizard might well save you time. It does cut uniform pieces. It doesn't smush the food. It's a nice, organized, unmessy way to chop a lot fast.

But if you're like me, and your dicing needs are limited to one item a day, it might be equally fast to just dice and slice on a cutting board with a knife.

Three cupcakes. It does the job, but so does a knife.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Vidalia Chop Wizard

This weekend, I tried out the Vidalia Chop Wizard. Yes, that's the same one you've seen advertised on TV. A few swift moves and the spokesman produces cups of chopped onions and a great fruit salad.

I'm going to be blogging about this gadget for two days, mostly because my impressions kept swinging back and forth about it.


The Chop Wizard is nearly a foot long and few inches high. It comes with a basic container, two chopping devices, one small and one large, and a little plastic comb for cleaning it.

You choose a blade size and insert it into the container, which has a hinged, removable cover. The item being diced goes on top of the blade grid, and then you bring down the lid, thereby putting pressure on the food and forcing it through the blades into the container below.


The basic idea isn't bad. So I was excited to try it and see if it would save me time. I dice a lot of sweet potatoes, so naturally, that was the first thing I tried. I cut a piece of sweet potato about an inch and a half high, inserted it, and brought the top down to cut it. Now, I'm no 98 pound weakling, but it was very hard to push that small piece of raw sweet potato through. And it came out in long shapes, not diced. Aha, I realized that the device doesn't really dice. That is, the blades work in one direction, nothing is cutting horizontally to dice a piece of potato. So, I cut a slice of sweet potato about half an inch thick, but it still took herculean effort to drive the potato through the slicer. At that point, you can imagine, I was pretty darned disappointed in the Chop Wizard.

But to be fair, it doesn't list sweet potatoes as one of the veggies that it's designed to cut. So I pulled out an onion, which cut very nicely. The extra bonus about an onion is that they're layered, so it really does dice them, because when the blade cuts through the onion, it falls into lots lof similarly sized pieces.

More tomorrow on the Vidalia Chop Wizard!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Kitty Hoots



My cat, Mochie is putting together a basket for an auction with a few of his favorite things. These toys from Kitty Hoots are top of the line feline fun. Some are stuffed with catnip, others have irresistible feathers. Kitty Hoots are made by a company called Fat Cats, which started because a husband and wife gave their cats handmade toys for Christmas. They also make a line of dog toys. Mochie's canine siblings especially like their Tail Yankers. Learn more at their fun website http://www.fatcats.com/html_site/hhome.shtml.

Five cupcakes from Mochie!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drinking Green

One of my friends is in the habit of refilling water bottles and sticking them in the freezer so the water stays cold longer on road trips. Another friend bought an enormous plastic thermos, but it scares me each time I see her fill it with boiling water.

Kaye George blogged a while back about the dangers of plastic water bottles. And Lorraine Bartlett chimed in to say "Singer Sheryl Crow blames her breast cancer on bottled water. She'd leave the bottles in her car on hot days and the chemicals in the bottles leached into the water. She now uses tap water and stores it in an aluminum bottle that she can clean and use over and over again."

The problem is a chemical called bisphenol A that leaches into the liquid from certain types of plastic. So I was quite pleased to find Green Bottles at my health food store. They are lined with food grade stainless steel and come with two caps made of a "safe" plastic. They are not thermoses, so not intended for hot liquids, but they're the perfect replacement for water bottles. I took acai juice with me today and was thrilled with the sippy top. Especially since my old bottle, which cost more, used to leak on me, making me look like I had drooled.

For more information, check them out at http://www.greenbottleonline.com. My friends will be getting them as gifts. After all, $13.49 isn't a big price to pay for good health.

Five cupcakes to Green Bottles.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Champagne and Crimini Mushroom Gravy

Champagne and Crimini Mushroom Gravy

1 package crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 cup onions, diced small
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup champagne (or wine)
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the mushrooms and sage, and cook until the mushrooms begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the onions. At this point, it smells so good you'll be tempted to eat it as is. When the onions have cooked, add the 3 tablespoons of flour. Stirring frequently, cook until the flour turns a golden brown color. Add the champagne and chicken broth and continue stirring until well blended. Bring to a boil and let simmer about 20 minutes. Salt to taste.

This gravy turned out great. I will say, however, that you should only make it with a champagne or wine that you adore, because that flavor comes through and dominates. I'm looking forward to trying it with my favorite sweet red wine. A caution, though, this is a gravy more likely to appeal to an adult palate. I suspect it would not be popular with munchkins.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Roasting Turkey Breast

I am in the habit of roasting whole turkeys. But I happened to find a turkey breast at the grocery store, so why not give it a shot? When I make a whole turkey, the procedure begins nearly 36 hours before we plan to eat. It goes into a salt brine overnight (shameless self promotion here -- brining instructions are in The Diva Runs Out of Thyme), and then it rests, uncovered in the refrigerator for twenty-four hours. But that seemed like a lot to go through for the smaller breast (though I have brined chickens, so I guess I was being lazy).

I didn't plan to do anything fancy to the turkey breast, but I wondered how long it would take to roast. How early should I put it in the oven? So, as I often do, I checked the internet. Wow. Such variation. I was fascinated by the number of recipes which called for temperatures of 325 to 350 and a roasting time of two and a half hours. Huh? I don't even roast a whole turkey that long. That didn't seem right to me. Not at all.

Now I have to admit that I believe in roasting meat at a relatively high temperature because it seals in the juices. My temperature of choice hovers around 425. I roast chickens at 425 and they take one hour. The turkey breast didn't seem all that much bigger than a chicken. Two and a half hours seemed like overkill.

Of course, I didn't take the time to search hundreds of recipes. But I was stunned by how many recommended a slow, low temp roast. Only Rachel Ray roasted her turkey breast the way I would. Yay, Rachel! Finally, sensible instructions. I preheated the oven to 450 degrees. When I slid the turkey breast into the oven, I turned the temperature down to 410. It should have been 400, but I was fighting the urge to leave it at 425 and compromised with 410.

One hour and ten minutes later, the top registered 175 degrees on my Thermapen and the bottom registered 150. Apparently turkey meat should be at 160 degrees, so I took it out (with trepidation, I might add) and let it rest for ten minutes. The outer slices were fine. Very nice, actually, but below the top two slices, it turned into the juiciest turkey breast meat we've ever eaten. I'm still a believer in high heat for roasts.

I'd love to hear from anyone who roasts turkey breast at a low temp for two and a half hours. I'm having trouble imagining that it doesn't dry out the meat.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Roast Turkey Breast and Champagne Mushroom Gravy

Friends visited last weekend, which left me with something unusual in my refrigerator -- an open bottle of leftover champagne. One of them cleverly stuck a spoon in the open bottle, handle down, and I was surprised to find that even after a week, the champagne still contained bubbles. According to a group of researchers at Stanford (http://news.stanford.edu/pr/94/941221Arc4008.html) the spoon trick isn't supposed to work, but it did in my case. The researchers recommend leaving champagne uncorked.

I also had a box of crimini mushrooms, which, I'm told, are really just little portobella mushrooms. It seems odd to me that a fungus could be so healthy for us to eat, but apparently that's the case. Mushrooms are loaded with vitamins and minerals. There are those touting them as a cancer fighting food, too. Whatever the case, they appear to be very good for us.

And now, a nifty mushroom tip, courtesy of Alton Brown. If you haven't watched Alton Brown's shows on Food Network, you're missing some excellent information presented in an amusing way. On one show, he focused on proving or disproving food myths. And one of those myths was that one should never wash mushrooms because they soak up the water. For years I wiped mushrooms with a cloth as I had been told was necessary. Not so! Alton weighed fresh mushrooms, then soaked one group in water. I mean soaked, as in a much longer time than you'd ever spend washing them. The results clearly showed that the mushrooms did not soak up water. The weight on the mushrooms that were soaked was nominally more, just a hair. They clearly did not absorb the water.

So wash those mushrooms! I still wipe the tops a little but have no fear, you can wash mushrooms.

Tomorrow, I'll be talking turkey. And Wednesday -- the recipe for a very adult gravy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where Is Your Bread?


No, I don't mean your wallet. I mean where is that lovely loaf of your favorite bread? I hope it's not in your refrigerator.

For some reason, refrigeration makes bread stale. There are theories about refrigeration sucking the moisture out of bread. So if you're in the habit of popping your bread in the fridge to keep it fresh, you're actually just helping it get stale faster.

Believe it or not, bread wants to be stored at room temperature. Simple enough. That doesn't require any fancy gadgets. Forget all the bread boxes and air pressure thingies designed to keep bread fresh. Just keep it on the kitchen counter in the bag in which it came. That means a plastic bag for a lot of breads, or the waxy/papery bag for artisan and upscale breads.

If you're worried about your bread spoiling, it can be frozen. Be forewarned that it won't thaw to complete freshness. Frozen bread does very well in the toaster, though, and many artisan loaves can be reheated at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. Watch out for freezer burn because those little crystals are likely to make the bread soggy when it thaws.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Old Bay Seasoning

As warmer weather approaches, so do thoughts of summertime pleasures. Steamed shrimp are always a big favorite with my friends. And, shhh, don't tell but they're so easy to make.

All you need are a pound of shrimp in the shells (hurrah, you don't even have to peel them!), vinegar, water, and Old Bay Seasoning, the classic spice for steamed shrimp. Honestly, if you can boil water, you can make steamed shrimp in a snap. But your family and guests will be very impressed.

The recipe is on the back of the Old Bay Seasoning container. Simply bring the liquids and seasoning to a boil, add the shrimp and steam 3-5 minutes, then drain and serve. Could anything be easier?

Five cupcakes for Old Bay and steamed shrimp!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The CocoaRoom Dragee


For Easter, a friend of mine gave me a box of dragees from The CocoaRoom. Seems the word dragee has several meanings, but it's basically a coated candy, often used decoratively. The CocoaRoom website describes their products as chic and I have to say that's an apt description.

The box itself is simple, yet elegant in a clean way. And the contents are delicious. Especially the tiny chocolate covered sunflower nuts. There's something very adult about this candy. No fussy wrappers or comic type logos. At http://www.thecocoaroom.com/ it's even displayed in martini glasses. Small, edible, elegant, a good choice for wedding favors.

They do contain food coloring and artificial flavors, but other than that, they're a delightful and oh-so-adult treat.

Four cupcakes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter

Everyone who sees my Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter asks the same thing -- does it work?

Well, yes. It's basically a heavy cylindrical bag with a plastic top. The top lifts off so it can be filled with soil. There's also a handy round hole in the top for watering. The tomato plant is inserted through a hole in the bottom. Not exactly rocket science but clever enough.

My biggest complaint with the Topsy Turvy Planter (and yes, you can plant flowers if you prefer) is that it has to hang. Now that wouldn't seem to be a big deal but it's about 16 inches long and 9 inches in diameter -- fill with soil and add water, and it's a very hefty package. You can't hang it in a tree because the plant will need light. I'd be hesitant about hanging it from a soffit, although I suppose it could be. I notice that they're now plugging a special stand from which it can be hung. If you're contemplating using a Topsy Turvy Planter, make sure you have a spot from which you can hang it.

My other small complaint is that it supposedly eliminates cutworms, but I found several nicely nestled on my tomato plant the first year.

Those things aside, it's a convenient and easy way to garden. I can imagine that it might be particularly useful for people who can't bend or walk. Or for people who don't have room for a regular garden. And, of course, there's that huge plus -- no weeding!

One of my friends reported that she got amazing results the first year and less stellar results the second year. I've used mine for two years as well. It has never looked like the ones in the advertisements, but each year the plant has yielded a few tomatoes.

Four cupcakes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Natural and Organic -- Shoe Soles No More

I was grocery shopping the other day when a man and a woman stopped their cart and I overhead her say, "Oh, natural foods. We don't need to go down that aisle." I could hear the ick factor dripping from her tone of voice.

Now, it's true that some organic foods are more expensive. However, as someone who has been buying them for many years, I can tell you that the prices have evened out and many natural and organic products are in the same price ballpark as their not-so-organic counterparts. Newman's Own Organic Olive Oil is a great example of that, and Newman's Own Organic Tea is a bargain.

But I think some people are still under the mistaken impression that if it's natural or organic, it must taste like a shoe sole. I will admit that many years ago, I bought my fair share of early organic products where I suspected the box might taste better than the food. But not anymore. These all natural Back to Nature Classic Rounds prove that. I served them to guests recently and if I had insisted on a blind taste test, I think everyone would have had trouble distinguishing them from the crackers we all grew up with. In fact, there were so few left, I almost didn't have enough for a picture.

Like non-organic and non-natural products, some are better than others and some don't appeal. But you don't have to skip the organic and natural food aisles anymore. The shoe soles are long gone.

Five cupcakes for Back to Nature Crackers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Foam-Backed Rugs


You've seen these rugs in stores and magazines. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors -- there's one for every imaginable decor. The top is colorful and the back is polyurethane foam, which makes them very easy on the feet. Just the thing for that spot at the sink or stove where you spend so much time. I've used them as doormats.

But not anymore. The first one was a gift. Very cute. I was so sorry to see it go that when it looked shabby, I shifted it to duty in the laundry room. Enter the next one. Several of these foam-backed rugs down the road, I have finally come to the conclusion that I would rather have a rug I can throw in the washing machine.

The foam-backed rugs aren't terribly expensive, but then, neither are washable rugs. Ironically, the tag on the foam-backed rug says "easy-care". That's true ... but they can't be washed. Vacuuming helps a bit, of course, but most of the fur and little bits of dirt still cling to the rug. I have rubbed them with damp sponges, again -- a little improvement, but dirt just sticks to the rug. And before long, the edges begin to fray a bit and, well, my laundry room is already full of other things I don't have the heart to unload.

One cupcake. They feel good under the feet, but they don't hold up well and can't be cleaned.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Coolaroo Dog Beds

My dogs adore these Coolaroo dog beds. They're slightly elevated and have an amazing fabric top that stretches tight and acts sort of like a dog hammock. The fabric is synthetic but it breathes. It's woven so that rain goes right through it. Which means you can hose it off if it should happen to get dirty. Air can circulate underneath the bed, too, keeping your dog cooler in the summer. There's no place for fleas or bugs to nest. The beds stay remarkably clean, even when exposed to the elements.

They come in three sizes. Queenie is modeling the large size here. The small size is right for a Jack Russell Terrier.

A word of warning, though. The fabric has to be stretched very tight -- it takes two people to assemble a bed, and the act of assembly may lead to marital discord.

They're available through Improvements at http://www.improvementscatalog.com/home/improvements/792924522-coolaroo-the-ground-dog-beds.html and DogBeds.com at http://www.idogbeds.com/coolaroodogbeds.cfm?source=googleaw&kwid=coolaroo%20dog%20beds&tid=exact. Or search Coolaroo dog beds on Google.

I have to say that I have owned many of these and I think they're great. However, they do eventually rust. The frame has been improved and seems sturdier than it was a few years ago. The product comes with a guarantee, but it does not cover fabric damaged by dogs digging, clawing, or chewing on it. If you have a dog prone to digging on a bed, this may not be the best choice for you because dogs can claw holes in the fabric.

Four cupcakes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Class Act -- Newman's Own

Recently, I blogged about the price and size of Newman's Own Organic Olive Oil. It's a regular item on my shopping list, and suddenly, the bottle shrank and the price went up by a dollar.

Well! Much to my surprise, Newman's Own contacted me in regard to that post. Turns out the bottle didn't shrink. They sell their olive oil in two bottle sizes. But they were concerned about the fact that the small bottle appeared to be priced higher than it should be.

Thinking I had erred, I immediately deleted the blog, and I returned to the store to find out how I could have been so wrong. I found the large bottle for $10.69 in a fancy olive oils section of the store -- the price I have paid for well over a year. So, no shrinking bottle, no rise in cost. You can imagine that I was banging my head as I shopped. How could I have been so wrong?

Until I got to the organic aisle. And there the small bottle was indeed priced at $11.79, more than a dollar over the price of the large bottle. I brought this discrepancy to the attention of store managers, who found it curious, and wondered if it could be the result of using two distributors for the same product. Frankly, I was just glad I wasn't totally wrong. I would never want to mislead anyone.

But the most amazing thing to me is that Newman's Own is so conscientious that they wanted to know which store was over-charging for their product. In this day of high prices that soar ever upward, of corporations so large that they do anything for an extra buck, I find it amazing that Newman's Own followed up on one little blog in the noise of the blogosphere, to correct a price that was too high. They're currently following up with the store in question, and I'm so impressed that I like them even more. I already knew that Newman's Own turns out consistent products of the highest quality and excellent flavors, but their interest in correcting a price also demonstrates a concern for detail, their reputation, and the consumer. I call that a class act.

Five cupcakes for Newman's Own!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Homemade Bread -- The Easy Way

Sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day for a diva to do everything. Instead of making yourself a wreck, there are times when it makes more sense to use a shortcut. Hodgson Mill Bread Mixes to the rescue.

These mixes are almost infallible. Just drag out your bread machine, dump in the mix, the yeast (which comes in the package), a knob of butter, and warm water, and you're half way to home baked bread. Now, it is technically cheating, because you don't have to measure flour, you don't have to come up with the recipe, or remember to buy four kinds of flour and yeast. And since the bread machine does the kneading, well, it really is too easy to be true.

My machine has a manual mode that takes it through the kneading cycle. I can remove the bread dough, shape it into rolls or whatever I like, let it rise one more time, and then bake. But it's still so easy that I almost feel guilty. Until I eat it.

I can heartily recommend the Caraway Rye, 9 Grain, European Cheese and Herb, and Potato Bread mixes. They turn out perfect every time. Look for them in the baking aisle of your grocery store and if you can't find them, go to the online store at http://www.hodgsonmill.com/online-store/. Shh, just don't tell anyone your homemade bread came from a box.

Five cupcakes and enough time left over for a much deserved nap.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder


I happen to like squirrels. Even if they can be pests sometimes, they're very cute and so smart. I give them a lot of credit for hanging upside down by one paw and still managing to open a bird feeder. Such clever little beasties.

But they hoover bird seeds. And at the current price of sunflower seeds, well, one does wish there would be some left for the birds. Over the years I've tried assorted squirrel proof bird feeders. I'll be reporting on a few of them over the next weeks.




This feeder has proven to be a winner. Similar models are made by several companies, and as long as the outside cage is made of metal, I imagine they all work pretty much the same. They're not cheap. But it's important to have that metal exterior cage, because squirrels will gnaw through wood and plastic. With this model, they can't poke their little heads through the outer portion to reach the seeds in the center.

The biggest problem with this feeder is that it caters to small birds. Cardinals, for instance, are excluded. You might find one with larger openings, but if they are too large, they won't keep the squirrels out.

The metal cap lifts off, the seeds are poured inside and you're done. In spite of his size, I have a woodpecker who visits. He clings to the outside and sticks his head through to reach the seeds. Never mind that I have a woodpecker feeder hanging right next to it -- he prefers this feeder.


But the best thing is that it really does work. Squirrels soon realize that it's hopeless.

Five cupcakes.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Asapargus to Die For -- The Recipe

This Easter don't boil your asparagus. Roast it! We like it so much that I often make it for Easter brunch and Easter dinner. And it's so simple.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the asparagus and snap off the tough ends.

Cover a baking sheet (one with little sides is great so they don't roll off) with aluminum foil.

Spread the asparagus across the baking sheet in a single layer.

Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and powdered garlic.

If you have an oil mister, spritz the asparagus with olive oil. Otherwise, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Using your hands, roll the asparagus lightly back and forth. The spices and oil will spread to coat them. Be sure they are not on top of each other, they must be in a single layer.

Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus and your personal preference for degree of doneness.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Asparagus to Die For -- Getting Rid of the Tough Ends

Easter is almost upon us and the stores are loaded with gorgeous fresh asparagus. Whether you prefer the tiny thin ones, or the fatter ones that you can sink your teeth into, asparagus is always a treat.

Serve it as a side dish or use it in pasta dishes and salads. It's very versatile and just as tasty when eaten cold. I always make extra so I'll have leftovers to use for the next few days.

But there's always that problem of the tough stems. Don't cut them off. The funny thing is that asparagus breaks where it gets tough. Hold a stalk of raw asparagus in both hands, one toward the middle and one at the very bottom -- and snap. The tough part at the bottom will break off easily. Sometimes it's a little surprising just how much breaks off, but I haven't encountered tough stems since I started using that method.

Tomorrow -- how to cook asparagus to die for. You won't believe how easy it is to make unforgettable asparagus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mangoes Are Here!

Mangoes are coming into season. If you're not familiar with these delicious fruits, you're missing a real treat. Look for mangoes that are slightly soft to the touch but never mushy. I like to find a little yellow or red on them. If they're not quite ripe yet, that's okay, leave them on the kitchen counter and they'll ripen.

Sweet and juicy, mangoes are fantastic in fruit salads. They go particularly well with cantelope and kiwi. I even like them in green salads for a little spark of sweetness. I hear the complaints already -- they're such a mess to cut. Oh, really?



Slice the mango as close to the big seed in the middle as possible.







Hold the part without the seed in your palm and cut a crosshatch. Make it any size you like, but don't cut through the peel.








Press gently on the peel side to flip it inside out, so it's convex.








Slice off perfect little squares. Sounds like a lot of steps but it's easy.






Mangoes, definitely worth five cupcakes!

 
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