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Toffee mix-in ideas please!

@CJ McD: Would you sprinkle the spices on the toffee or mix in?
PS, love the candied orange peel idea!

Edible gifts for the holidays

This year we’re doing apple butter. In previous years, we’ve done granola, spice mixes/rubs, bbq sauces, and infused vinegars.

Homemade gifts are popular among our family and friends. People love seeing what everyone does each year!

Jarred pasta sauces?

Muir Glen is our canned tomatoes of choice, but we were unimpressed by their sauce. I think we only tried it once, though, so it could have been the flavor.

I always buy Newman’s Own. It’s pretty good. Plus, I figure that if I have to be eating jarred sauce, I may as well be donating to charity. (Well, in a round-about way, at least).

I second a SE taste test, if one hasn’t already been done!

Taste Test: Apple Sauce

Woot woot for Washington apple growers!!

This Oregonian agrees with your findings. I've tried the fancy brands and came back to TreeTop! The only exception is a regional gravenstein applesauce, which was amazing but cost an arm and a leg. It would be perfect for potato pancakes, but too expensive for everyday. I was so thrilled when I found ORGANIC TreeTop - at costco of all places.

Nothing beats slow cooked applesauce from freshly picked apples, but when you go through applesauce as quickly as we do in our household (we have little ones), you buy. We put our canning energy into putting up apple butter every fall. Yum!

Poll: Are You Making Pie or Buying It?

In our family, the guests bring pies. Considering how the only thing they need to bring is a single pie, I'm always amazed by how many of my family bring purchased pies. Not even good purchased pies, either! (It's not cost, they just can't appreciate good pie).

I'll be making a sweet potato pie for Thursday!

Ideas for a children's cooking class

A North African dish with couscous and raisins. Couscous can be made in the microwave, and every kid likes raisins.

Tabouli. The wheat bulgur can also be made in the microwave. Although, now that I think about it, it has to sit for a while to absorb the water. Depending on how the class is structured, you may be able to get it going, do some other activity, and come back and finish.

Savory and sweet crepes. The sweet could be fruit based (such as jam or fresh fruit), which is a pretty nutritious dessert.

Potato pancakes. You can try getting adventurous with adding zucchini, parsnip, or carrots (but try it first. In my mind it works, but perhaps not in practice).

Open faced cheese sandwich with a slice of ham and tomato. Brush some mustard on the bread before stacking toppings. My mother taught me this sandwich when I was a child, and I lived on it in college.

Sushi rolls. My niece and nephew learned to make sushi in about 3rd grade and loved it. Since I personally hate seafood (as many kids do), my husband makes it at home with tofu and carrot, cucumber and avocado, and sometimes a (canned) tuna fish salad.

In my home ec class we learned to make cookies and nachos (literally just cheddar cheese on chips). I applaud you to teaching them something actually nutritious and useful.

Baking cookbook for tween

Thanks everyone. These are exactly the types of book that I was looking for. Now my only dilemma is which to get for her... :) I'm going to keep this list for future gifts, too.

Wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free meal ideas please

@lemonfair: We know for sure that she can’t have cow milk products and eliminated it in her diet some time ago. The no goat and sheep requirement is a recent addition and only a suspected allergy. Her allergy issues got out of hand recently, so we’re pulling all suspected allergies until the issues clear up. We’re hoping to successfully reintroduce goat and sheep soon. Bringing goat yogurt and sheep cheese back to the table will aid us substantially.

Wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free meal ideas please


These are such fabulous ideas!!! Potato pancakes, falafel, tamales, orange chicken, Vietnamese noodles… It all sounds so delicious and are exactly the new ideas we needed.

Thank you also to links and cookbook suggestions. I will be checking them all. Glad to be reminded to check our soy sauce and to hear that we can find wheat free if ours isn't.

It’s true that you start focusing on what you cannot have rather than what you can. I’ve started keeping a notepad in my purse for when I see or hear of a meal that fits the bill. As you all have shown, there’s actually a lot out there.

I just can’t express how thankful I am for all these fresh ideas!

Gifting a dutch oven

Ditto 5 qt. I got one for my husband last year, and while he loves it, he's already eyeing larger ones. It would somewhat depend on what you are making though. The 5 qt is big enough for a double batch of spanish rice, but not large enough for a whole chicken, if that helps.

A dutch oven is a great gift for a cook. What a great piece of equipment! And gotta love Lodge!

Sunday Brunch: Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins

Not only have I been in the mood for carrot breads, but the Betsy-Tacy reference just made me so nostalgic. I'm definitely going to try out this recipe. I may grate some parsnip into it, too...

McCafe: McDonald's New Fancier, Pricier Coffee

I don't typically have anything positive to say about McDonald's, so I'll take the time to give them props for using "small," "medium," and "large." I hate the "fancy" words that Starbucks is fond of - particularly since they don't even make sense any more (as a direct translation).

That said, I don't see myself any more likely to buy an espresso drink at McD's than I am at a gas station (which is really, really unlikely).

Cocktails and Spirits with Paul Clarke: A Sour Subject

Ugh - I couldn't agree more. Sour mixes literally make me sick to my stomach. As a result, I rarely order sour drinks, although I like them when they are real. There is only one bar in town that I could imagine using fresh sour, but even there I'm too gun shy to pay the high price for a drink that won't be touched.

Serious Grape: Women and Wine

As a woman who buys wine because it tastes good (and is comfortable selecting wines solo), I am a bit appalled to find out that wine marketing had deemed women more interested in cute labels and looking chic. My wine glass is not an accessory. But, at least it sounds like the market researcher made the correct inferences from the survey, and hopefully female drinkers won't be viewed the same way going forward.

However, I must stick up for NW servers - every single time I have ordered wine in the presence of a man, I have been offered the taste.

Employee Resigns via Letter Written in Frosting on Cake

Thumbs up! I kind of wish that I was quitting my job, just so that I could do this!

@ eleeb: LMAO

In Videos: Re-Creating the Mona Lisa in Burger Grease

Does it really matter if it's an ad for Arby's? It's still real. It's an impressive and creative artistic feat. I don't personally care whether he used 10 burgers, 100 burgers, or a single slice of pepperoni pizza - it's an innovative use of food in art. Pop-culture food meets renaissance painting.

Cook the Book: 'Almost Meatless'

I like to accompany meatless meals with broiled open-face sandwiches of artisan bread, fresh herbs (or pesto), and sliced ham - topped with a poached egg. Yum! The punch of flavor keeps my meat-lovin' husband happy, too.

Peanut Butter Sales Down Almost 25 Percent

Our brand (Adams) hasn't been affected. We haven't needed to buy new peanut butter yet, but we will buy when we finish our current jar.

My Shocking Food Confession: What's Yours?

OMG - this post is making me feel sooo much better! I'm almost in tears - apparently, I'm normal!

-- I also love to eat raw ramen, with the flavor packet sprinkled on top. Always have, always will (no matter how much it freaks my husband out).
-- I also hate orange vegetables. I agree that vegetables should be savory, not sweet.
-- I was lucky enough to live in France for three months and got sick of eating French food.
-- I am a native (and current resident) of the pacific northwest and I hate salmon... and all seafood... including seaweed. So yes, I don't eat sushi.
-- I hate mayo - unless I "don't know" it's on my sandwich. Then I love it.
-- I love cheetos, and when no one is looking I eat cereal for dinner.

Whew - I feel better!

Kellogg's Testing a Shorter, Fatter Cereal Box Design

Oh, thank goodness! The large cornflake boxes are 1/2 too big in height and width to fit conveniently into any of our cabinets.

Can We Be Happy AND Healthy?

Moderation is key. Limit your bacon and sausage to one fabulous weekend breakfast per week. Have your favorite, heavy foods - but have them play a minor role on the plate; instead have most of the meal be healthier options. Watch your salads: iceberg with loads of blue cheese dressing is NOT a healthy vegetable dish.

Use olive, canola, vegetable oils instead of butter in most cases. (A tip: add a smidge of butter for taste).

Try substitutions. We often replace heavy cream with cream cheese or soy sour cream, for example. Low-fat, plain yogurt is a great alternative to mayonnaise and sour cream. They won't work in every case, depending on the chemistry required, but they work surprisingly often. Switch to 'no salt added' versions of items (such as canned tomatoes) and add salt to taste - you'll probably add less. Same is true for pre-sweetened items.

I don't recommend going wild on "low-fat" and "lite" variations of items. Read labels. Sometimes they actually cut down the fat, but often, you're just getting extra sugar or mystery chemicals - and the taste my not be as good.

As for cookbooks, this may sound crazy, but Weight Watchers has some good ones. They have many books - browse through them and find one that has 'real' recipes that you will actually cook. (I say 'real' because my only complaint about WW is that they can encourage use of man-made substitutes in place of natural ingredients, which is a personal bias).

Agree with pp re: switching to whole grains, focusing on flavor rather than fat and salt, and exercise. Regular physical activity will go a long ways to lowering your cholesterol - plus it gives you wiggle room in your diet.

The Icing vs. Frosting Debate

I agree with the cookbook, if we're going to get technical. You drizzle icing over a coffee cake; you spread frosting on a yellow cake. But it's really not a profound enough distinction that I'd ever correct anyone. It's not like using "good" as an adverb.

Butternut Squash Soup recipe w/out cream

We use soy sour cream or cream cheese in place of heavy cream in most recipes, including squash soup. We do it because my husband is lactose intolerant, so I haven't actually compared the fat content. But it works perfectly.

New Year's Resolutions for the Eco-Friendly Eater

Skip the disposable utensils at cafeterias and takeout. Instead, keep a set of flatware at your office that you can wash and reuse.

Dinner Tonight: Avocado and Sprout Club Sandwich

Mmmm... This sounds delicious! It reminds me of my all time favorite sandwich: cream cheese, tomato slices, sprouts, and salt & pepper on dense, whole-grain bread or "everything" bagel. This might fill my need out of tomato season...

Note: Sprouts have become difficult to obtain in my area because of contamination concerns, but micro-greens make a wonderful alternative.


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