Foodie Feasts Recipe Club: Guilt-Free January

I posted a very long while back about the first meeting of the Foodie Feast group I started and how much fun it was. Since then the group has gotten larger and we’ve had 6 awesome meetings with great people and amazing food. Each event there has been more and more food, almost so much that you can’t even try everything. Some of our themes have been: Best Food Memories, Food on a stick, Brunch, White Hot, Summer Favorites and Fall Fresh. I’m really sad I didn’t have time the last few months to blog about them but they have been documented and well photographed so later on I will have to share some of what I’ve made with y’all for those themes. (and other members creations too if they give me permission).

We all decided it would be best to take a break from the club through the holidays since everyone has a million parties and obligations with family. I’m so excited for tonight and our first Foodie meeting of 2014! This guilt-free theme is a welcome one after the garbage I’ve been eating the last few months.

I’m always a bit excessive and obsessive when it comes to parties, planning, creating and eating. I made a list of considerations to make. I thought of raw dishes, eating clean dishes, low-sodium and healthier versions of comfort food. What was decided on was completely random. I am marinating some english cucumbers as a fresh side dish and am doing a slight variation on Rawmazing’s recipes that you can find here.

I made a couple of changes to her recipe. I like to cut my cucumbers in cute u-shapes and used 3 large English cucumbers. See picture below. I omitted the onion because I’m a cucumber purist. I used 1/4 cup light agave nectar instead of coconut sugar. I also added dill because cucumbers and dill are happy together.

It has a wonderful crunch, a little sweet, nice tang from the vinegar and a slight kick with the chili flakes.

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Chris thought stuffed cabbage sounded good so we are also doing a turkey and brown rice stuffed cabbage.

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For dessert I am making a tofu chocolate mousse adapted from the Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno. I know it sounds gross but I promise you would never a million years know there was any tofu in it! It’s chocolately deliciousness with a good punch of protein and my version is dairy free. I like dark chocolate but you could use semi sweet chips too.
Tofu Chocolate Mousse
Ingredients:
1 Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate bar, broken into squares
1/2 bar Ghiradelli 100% cocoa chocolate bar, broken into squares
16 oz organic silken tofu, at room temperature, drained
3/4 cup warm vanilla coconut milk (soy, rice and almond milk can be used)
1 tsp best-quality vanilla extract (I use homemade, so easy and cheap!)

Directions:
1. Melt chocolate in double boiler.
2. Heat milk to warm, do not boil.
3. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Pour the mousse into individual sized containers and refrigerate to thicken, at least 1 hour.
5. Optional: Serve with fresh raspberries garnished on top!

Friday Favorites: No Cooking Just Eating

Have I told you about my Trader Joe’s obsession? No, well you will soon become familiar. I just wanted to share some of my favorites and maybe they are some of yours too? I always pick up a few new things I haven’t tried to see what I’m missing out on as well. Last week was Banana Man’s long week of the month at work. He’s in accounting so when it comes to month close we don’t really see each other and I take a cooking siesta. Trader Joe’s makes it so easy to be a lazy cook and I mean that in a good way. Sometimes the last thing you want to do after a long day is cook some laborious meal just to scarf it down in 5 minutes. Yeah, I admit it…I have a lot of those days. I love to cook but sometimes I love to NOT cook and there lies the balance of domesticated life. I will never be a pretentious home cook who has to make everything from scratch or balks at people who microwave frozen meals. Sometimes frozen meals are true life savers but you have to smart about it. Banana man used to live on Stouffers and DiGiorrno…umm no, just no. I guess I am balking at those frozen meals.

One thing I always get at Trader Joe’s is their yogurt. It’s rich and creamy and absolutely the best yogurt I’ve tasted. This one is full fat and sweetened with honey which is obviously not the healthiest yogurt. I eat it for dessert with banana’s and dark chocolate chips or with granola. I’m sure you have plenty of ways you like your yogurt but if you haven’t tried this one give it a go. The only other yogurt I buy is Fage, original plain.

Trader Joe's Greek Honey Yogurt
I think this would be great frozen into yogurt pops
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Definitely not fat free
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These microwave in just 1 minute. That’s dangerously convenient. They are all warm gooey on the inside and rich choclate cake on the outside. It’s not dry at all and the perfect portion size.
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I thought there was no way these could be good but took a chance. You let them sit out over night to rise and bake them 20 minutes in the morning. They are buttery, flakey and not too sweet. Chris ate 2 1/2 in one sitting.
I added powdered sugar after they cooled a bit
I added powdered sugar after they cooled a bit

Almond Croissants

Then there are the Trader Joe’s Apple Blossoms. Oh how I love love love these. I always keep some of these on hand. Again they are perfect individual serving sizes and would please any discerning apple pie lover.

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Tonight Chris and I are excited to see the musical American Idiot based on Green Day’s music! It’s at the Belk Theater in Uptown Charlotte. We are going to dine at Blue Restaurant for the first time and doing their pre-fixe dinner they offer for show goers. I’ve heard all good things so hopefully it’s fabulous to celebrate my darling husband’s 35th birthday. I’m off to go get glammed up for the show! Have a great weekend!

Dessert and Jewelry Party

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I love parties, soirees, gatherings, shin digs…what have you. Any excuse to put together a social event and I am all over it! My favorite part of the day was baking with Katie and making everything (very hastily). I got a little later start than I should have even having done a full day of prep the day before.  I always tend to be overly ambitious in my menu planning than time actually allows. Ce la vie.

Menu

Coconut Macaroons

Strawberry Mini Bundt Cakes with Cameo Chocolates

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecakes

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Key Lime Tarts Key Lime Cake Pops

Melon ball Skewers

Candied Bacon Ice Cream

Drinks

Lemon infused Water

Chocolate Wine

Champagne

Even though I didn’t get my candied bacon ice cream done I’d say it was totally successful. We ended up having tons of extra desserts which I had to immediately disperse to my neighbors so I didn’t eat it all myself! I would make everything again with just a few tweaks, mainly in presentation which I just simply ran out of time for. I would have chocolate dipped half of each macaroon, sprinkled the moon pies with confectioners sugars, glazed the strawberry bundt cakes and garnished the raspberry cheesecakes with a single raspberry each on top. The details just make everything look finished and more appetizing. Alas, I will let the perfectionist in me rest and be happy because it really was all just wonderful 🙂

The jewelry part of it was really fun too. I got to share all the baubles and bling that I love with my neighbors and girlfriends. Stella and Dot has traveled with me here to Charlotte as a part-time business. You can visit my website www.stelladot.com/kendraleelarsen if you liked some of what I had displayed you can order directly from my site. This month I am up to renew as a stylist and since I have been buying it more for myself than selling it to people I may not continue with it. (I’m just not the pushy salesperson type) Let me know what you think or if you are in the area and would like to host a jewelry party at your house! You just send me a guest list, I send the evites and bring over the bling and it’s as easy as that. I was hoping it would be a fun way to meet new people in the area too.  I’m looking forward to the next excuse for a party! Cheers!