Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Best Smart Phone Apps for Greener Living

Since joining the 21st century at the beginning of the year and getting a smart phone, I discovered a lot of apps that help me live a greener life.

1. Dirty Dozen - This app lists the "Dirty Dozen" aka the dirties, most pesticide-filled produce in the market, along with the "Clean 15" or the least pesticide-filled produce. The information is provided by the Environmental Working Group Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The list is updated yearly. I like this app b.c while I have most of the Dirty Dozen memorized, it is still nice to be able to check and make sure I avoid buying the most pesticide laden produce by buying organic.

2. Fooducate  - This is a great little app that allows you to scan a barcode on any food item and it will give that food a grade from F for unhealthy to A for healthiest. It will offer healthier alternatives for poor food choices. It was created by dietitians and it tracks fat, sugar, food dyes and high fructose corn syrup. It has a large database of food but the great thing is, if a food you scan isn't in their database, you can add it.

3. Honest Label Food - Similar to Fooducate, this is another barcode scanner. I have found that sometimes if one product is not in one database, it might be in the other.

4. Locavore - This app tells you what produce is in season currently, and what is about to be in season. It is depressing, for me at least, to see nothing in season in winter, but such is the case for living in Illinois.

5. Seafood Watch - This app is from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans. Our recommendations indicate which seafood items are "Best Choices," "Good Alternatives," and which ones you should "Avoid."

6. Seasonal Harvest - Similar to Locavore, this app tells you want is in season as well.

7. True Food Network - This app was created to help you find and avoid genetically engineered ingredients wherever you shop. Our guide gives you valuable information on common genetically engineered ingredients, brands to look for, and look out for, and common sense tips to keep you in the know.This one actually took me a minute to find the actual guide, but if you click on the menu button on the bottom on your phone, you will have the option to view the guide. But you probably aren't as stupid as I am and figured that out quickly.

If you know of any app, let me know!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes and exciting news

First the exciting news! I am going to be a Good Mom again. The Good Fetus is due at the end of July. 

So to commemorate the growth of TGF, I thought I would make some pregnancy cupcakes to honor the little parasite currently sucking out all my nutrients. At 11 weeks, the fetus is the size of a lime. The only lime flavored thing I really wanted was a margarita and frankly, I get funny looks when I drink in public while pregnant. So I decided to make the next best thing - cherry limeade cupcakes.

A lot of the recipes I found called for a shitton of sugar. Aside from the fact that all that sugar will kill my diabetic ass, I just don't like my cupcakes to be super sweet. I modified the sugar content in the recipe and it made for a tart, lime heavy cupcake with an accent of sweet cherry. The reviews were mixed. Some people loved them and some thought they were a little too tart. (I ate two cupcakes and thought they were a nice balance of sweet and tart, but since I can't eat them all, I gave the rest to family and neighbors.)

 So change the sugar content according to your taste.

For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoon limeade concentrate
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk

For the lime syrup:
3/4 cup limeade concentrate
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the frosting:
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 teaspoon (or more) maraschino cherry juice

For decorating:
fresh lime slices
maraschino cherries

To make the cupcakes:
~Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl sift together the cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the limeade concentrate and vanilla extract and mix to combine.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions.  Add in the flour mixture in thirds along with the milk.  Mix until combined. Do not overmix.

~Fill each cupake 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack over wax paper to cool completely.

~When the cupcakes have cooled slightly, whisk together the limeade concentrate and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lime syrup.  Brush syrup over the top of the slightly warm cupcakes, allowing the syrup to soak in. Repeat until the syrup is gone.

To make the frosting:
~Combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, vanilla extract and maraschino cherry juice in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated, then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth.  Add more maraschino cherry juice as needed to achieve desired texture.

~Frost cooled cupcakes.  Garnish with lime slices and maraschino cherries, if desired.

recipe modified from: Annie's Eats

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thansgiving Day Foods

You know you are a fucking adult when it is your turn to host Thanksgiving. Now I know why my grandma was always pitching a huge bitchfit for the holidays and why the normally dry house had 3 boxes of wine. This is the second Thanksgiving I have hosted and last year was such a mess that we ignored it. This year we hosted for my mom and dad, so it was a small affair. We had stuffing and taters and gravy and green bean casserole and rotisserie turkey breast. I like doing the turkey breast on the rotisserie because you can just turn it on and walk away and don't have to bother with basting. 

Everything is fairly typical and boring.

For sides, we had the ever popular Cowboy Sushi, homemade french onion dip and stuffed mushrooms.

My Mom's Stuffed Mushrooms

This is one of the dishes that I can actually remember my mom making. But I know she hasn't made them in years. I thought it would be nice to make them for Thanksgiving. 

(and yeah I know I am just getting around to a fucking Thanksgiving post in January, but I have been a lazy heifer lately)

The white wine and mustard provide a sharp bite to the mushrooms while the cheese gives them a soft texture. My mom had forgotten just how good they were.

24 large button mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 gloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/3 cup dry white whine
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
18 Ritz crackers, finely crushed
4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

~Remove stems from mushrooms and reserve and roughly chop.
~In a large skillet, saute chopped mushroom stems, onion and garlic in olive oil until tender. Ass parsley, basil, wine and mustard. Simmer for five minutes.

~Remove from heat and let stand five minutes. Stir in cracker crumbs and cheese. Fill mushroom caps with mixture. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes or until done. Serve warm.

recipe by: my mom