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Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's my One Year Blogiversary!!

I can't believe it--a year has passed already! One hundred and twenty-four I didn't know when I started if I'd have anything to talk about. I guess I did, hehe! And it was technically February 24th, but I had to iron out the details of this post with the person who funds most of the stuff I do on this blog--my husband, Billy. I kept changing my mind about what I wanted to do to celebrate, and God bless him, he's just so patient with me, hehe.

This post is going to be short, but sweet. Really sweet!

So I've planned a giveaway, and I think you guys are going to like it. I know I do. Hell, I wish I could win it! But this is to give something back to all you guys that faithfully read my blog. I appreciate each and every one of you.

So what is it???

An Apple iPod Touch, 8 GB (second generation)!!!!

YES!!!! One lucky reader will win one of these babies.

AND!!!! The contest is open to all of you, no matter where you live.

The contest will run for one month, so the winner will be chosen randomly on March 26th.

All you need to do is leave a comment here to be entered in the drawing.

If you tweet on Twitter about it, come back here with the link to your Twitter post (you must have that!!) and post that link in a second comment for an extra entry. To get the link to your Twitter post, click under your message where it says "less than _____ ago" and that will take you to a page where you can copy the url of your message.

Make sure you leave a valid email address where I can reach you! If the address doesn't work, I'll have to choose a new winner. And I don't want to have to do that.

Are there any more rules? Not really, but if you'd like to subscribe to my blog--I'm not gonna lie, that would be awesome! But it's not required. ;)

So good luck! Tell all your friends! And thanks to all of you for coming along on this one year (and more to come) adventure with me. You guys are the best!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Current Favorite Snack/Breakfast...

This one is so simple. In fact, I'll bet a lot of you eat this already. It's not unusual, there's no super secret recipe, and no special techniques. Then again, maybe some of you are like me, and see one of these and say "D'oh! I keep forgetting how much I love those, but I never think of making them!" And then you pay the trendy little cafe your $4-$5 and walk away thinking you could make it fresher and cheaper.

It's more of an idea. An idea that you can take and do your own thing with. Put your spin on it, and use what you like.

It's Granola Yogurt Parfait. Granola, yogurt, and fruit. And in this case, nuts. Easy, right? I usually get my yogurt at Trader Joe's, and they have a flavor called Vanana. Vanilla + Banana. mmmmm. But I use strawberry, vanilla, whatever--and always low-fat, but that's your choice. I love my hot cereal, but this one is so cool and refreshing. And you get all the benefits of the fresh fruit, not to mention all the good stuff the yogurt has in it.

This one I recently made was a Good For You Banana Split. All the flavors you'd find in a banana split, without all of the fat, sugar and calories. Although, I didn't add a drizzle of chocolate sauce, but if you'd like to try that--go for it! There are some delicious ones to use, and if you're watching what you eat, use just a little.

So here's what I did this time:

Granola Yogurt Parfait

fresh pineapple slices
strawberries, trimmed and cut and quartered
your favorite low fat yogurt
chopped pecans

Add some of all three fruits to the bottom of your bowl.
Spoon on some yogurt, and top that with granola and pecans.
Repeat the layer again, as many times as you like.
I usually do two good sized layers. Only two because I like large fruit chunks. ;)

To print this recipe, click here!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chicken Pesto Tortellini Soup for a Soup Off

I love soup. L-O-V-E it. It's so comforting to have a big old pot of soup simmering away on the stove. It warms the home and smells so good, too. My mom made soup a lot. Not only because it's a good way to stretch your food budget, but it's a great way to get a healthy hot meal to your family with little effort. Pair it with a sandwich, crusty bread, or even a nice salad--and you've got a delicious lunch or dinner. And leftovers the next day? YUM.

When I heard the Danny at Gourmet Gastronomer was having a Soup-Off to follow up his Mac and Cheese-Off, I knew I'd enter that one, too.

This soup is a favorite. I've made it twice already and we love it! The second time, I added a splash of red wine and a little pesto to the simmering soup--my husband liked it better the first time, and preferred adding a dollop of pesto to his own bowl. Picky, can choose to add those or not, it's up to you.

For the tortellini, I used dry ones filled with pesto from Trader Joe's. I know Barilla has some, too. If you can't find dried ones, go ahead and use the fresh ones like Buitoni. Just add them close to the end of cooking, and remember they only need a few minutes to cook.

Chicken Pesto Tortellini Soup

1-2 TBSP olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 small-ish leeks, rinsed and sliced across, not into long strips
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups chicken broth
14 oz can chickpeas, undrained
2 boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly
2 small zucchini, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
3 cups dried tortellini (fresh is fine, but keep in mind those take less time to cook)
fresh cracked black pepper
pesto for dolloping individual servings
fresh shaved Parmesan

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onion, leek, garlic and Italian seasoning, and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes, broth, and chickpeas.
Bring to a boil and cover, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add the chicken, zucchini, and peas, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Stir in the tortellini and keep the soup at a low to medium boil for the required pasta cooking time, or until al dente.
Taste first, then season with pepper--I don't think you'll need salt, but add it if you need to. (Keep in mind--you'll be adding pesto and Parmesan to each serving.)
Top each serving with a dollop of pesto and some fresh shaved Parmesan.

To print this recipe, click here!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Famous Name that Cereal Contest!

Great Island Common, New Castle, NH
Hey, the sun is up! What's for breakfast?

Have you ever thought you'd like to make your own cereal? That you could make it better than the big guys? You could add all the good stuff, and get a healthy, delicious cereal that isn't loaded with sugar and preservatives. Just the opposite--you could make a blend that was not only packed with flavor, but packed with good for you ingredients from all over the world.

Well now you can! There's a new guy (well, actually three new guys!) in the cereal world and they want to change the way you look at breakfast. Forget the Saturday morning buzz of sugary stuff while watching cartoons (or is that just me?), forget the bad for you, greasy breakfast sandwich that you pay too much for anyway, better yet--forget skipping breakfast at all!

Just one example of a Me and Goji blend.

Me and Goji is the newest thing in artisanal cereals. Meet the three guys behind this genius idea here. Go ahead, look around the site--there's so much to see! And I have to say, it's a lot of fun to design your own breakfast. The idea is that you go to the site, choose from the huge list of ingredients, drag and drop them into the big bowl, and make your own personal blend. Choose only what you want, and leave out the stuff you don't want. And don't think they've forgotten Gluten Free folks! They've got you covered, as well! And here's the fun part! Give it a name--Adam. Alexander, and Carl love to see funny, cool and creative names. Scroll down through this page to see some of their favorites.

Win one of these, full of your personal blend of cereal!

Carl, Adam and Alexander have been very cool and decided to offer THREE of you guys the chance to design and win your own capsule of Me and Goji! So here's the deal:

1. Visit the site and design your own cereal blend.
2. Send your perfect blend recipe and it's funny, creative name to, and make sure you tell him that it's the Elle's New England Kitchen Name your Cereal Contest.
3. Tell everyone you know about it so they can enter, too!
4. On National Cereal Day, March 7th, they'll announce the winners on their site. They'll also have some other cool promotions going on, so mark your calendars and be sure to check them out on that day!

So go visit the site and make your cereal! Good luck!

PS-- I'd love it if you not only submit your name ideas to Carl, but also to me in your comments. I'm so curious to see what you guys come up with!

PSS--This contest is open to US and Canadian Residents! :)

***Don't forget, to be eligible, you must
send your perfect blend recipe and it's funny, creative name to, and make sure you tell him that it's the Elle's New England Kitchen Name your Cereal Contest.

And the winners are:

1. Danielle Behlmer - Does This Cereal Make Me a Hippie?

2. Julie Cameron Hendrix – Mornin Munchies

3. Genevieve Charet - It's a Luau in My Mouth, and Every Fruit, Nut, and Flake is Invited!

And for anyone purchasing cereal, Me & Goji are offering free goji berries (until 3/31) for those who enter the coupon code FREEGOJIS upon checkout.

Thanks again!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mexican Hot Chocolate Muffins and an Award

My inspiration for these came from of course, Mexican Hot Chocolate. I saw some somewhere online and decided to translate the cinnamon-laced chocolate drink to my my favorite little hand-held-excuse-to-have-cake-for-breakfast, muffins.

It wasn't very difficult--a basic chocolate muffin, and add some cinnamon and chocolate chips for good measure. And then a nice chocolatey, cinnamony streusel over the top. I found the streusel here, and just added a good dose of cinnamon to it. It's so good! Could've sat there and eaten the streusel with a spoon. A little crunchy that way, but so tasty.

These are my entry to Grace's Cinnamon Celebration. I love Grace! She makes the most delectable sweet things that constantly make me say "I want that!" And she's got a thing for cinnamon. Lots of cinnamon.

The winner of the Cinnamon Celebration is getting some Vietnamese Cinnamon bark. That's a good reason to enter right there! Head on over and give her your best cinnamon recipe!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (1/4 pound) butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
2 TB cocoa
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TB of melted butter

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
Sift the dry stuff together, and make a well in the center.
Add the butter, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla and chocolate chips.
Mix well, but don't overdo it.
Fill the muffin cups evenly.

Mix the streusel stuff until it's crumbly and top each muffin with some.
Bake for 17 minutes or so, and check for doneness.
Cool in pan for a few minutes then remove to a rack.
A cooling rack, not the old torturing device.
And really, I hope you don't have one of those lying around.
Because then you're probably too mean to make nice little streusely muffins.

To print this recipe, click here!

The Sisterhood Award

This award comes from Giz and Psychgrad at Equal Opportunity Kitchen. They are two of the sweetest ladies in the food blogging world, and I'm happy to have met them through their blog. Thank you, ladies! Now, all of you, get on over there and check them out--they have tons of wonderful recipes!

Here are the rules:

The rules for recipients are:
- Put the logo on your blog or post.
- Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
- Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
- Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

I happily pass this award along to these lovely blogs and sisters in blogging (in no particular order):

1. Kelly at Sass & Veracity
2. Kat at A Good Appetite
3. Grace at A Southern Grace
4. Shelby at The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch
5. Deborah at B More Sweet
6. Lori at Recipegirl
7. Nikki at
8. Judy at No Fear Entertaining
9. Shaye at Smarter Than Pancakes
10. Dawn at Vanilla Sugar

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Look, its a Steak and Cheese!

Or IS it????

In an effort to eat healthier, I've decided to cut some of the meat from our diet. That isn't steak at all. It's sliced Portobello Mushrooms! And oh my gosh, what a delicious sandwich!

My confirmed meat-eating husband completely loved these. I served them on roasted garlic ciabatta, but you can serve these on your favorite type of roll. Honestly, the flavor is so good that you can't even tell you're not eating meat. And if you can tell, well, it tastes so good that you won't care! Seriously.

I used a frozen blend of herbs in this, but you can use whatever you want. And I was also thinking that the next time I make these, I'll try adding fennel seeds and cook it up the same way I do sausage and peppers. (Scroll down, it's the second recipe.) And I don't see why you couldn't use steak in these--so go ahead and give it a shot if you like.

This is from Eating Well, and I've changed it up a bit.

Portobello "Cheese Steak" Sandwiches

To print this recipe, click here!

2 tsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium red bell peppers, sliced
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, sliced
3-4 tablespoons of your choice of fresh herbs, minced (I used a blend of Basil, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme)
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
reduced fat provolone cheese, thinly sliced
4 whole wheat rolls

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and peppers, cook for 5 minutes.
Pour in a scant 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook for about 4 minutes.
Add mushrooms, cook uncovered for another 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add herbs and pepper.
Reduce heat to low, sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat.
Stir in broth and soy sauce, and bring to simmer.
Remove from heat, cover the vegetables with cheese, and let it stand for a couple of minutes,
till the cheese melts.
Divide the mixture between the rolls and serve.

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