It’s a rainy afternoon so why not bake a little? It’s certainly cool enough to do it — which is odd since just a couple of days ago it was over 100 degrees.

Friends of ours came to visit recently and they came with fresh baked cookies. Oatmeal raisin, to be exact. And every time our friend offered my one, I politely declined. What I didn’t mention, being the hostess that I am, is that I do not like oatmeal raisin cookies. In fact, I do not like cooked raisins in just about anything.

When our friends left, they were nice enough to leave more of the cookies. At some point, I tried one. And guess what? These things are good. A good salty/sweet things happening. So I twisted Larry’s arm and now I am passing his recipe on to you. Here’s another idea from Larry: he said he found this by adding the word “best” to his Google search for “oatmeal raisin cookies.” So there’s another tip for you, courtesy of our pal Larry, and food.com.

Ingredients

Whisk together and set aside

      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Cream wet ingredients

      • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
      • 2 large eggs
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Then stir in

    • 3 cups oats ( not instant)
    • 1 1/2 cups raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients; set aside.
  3. Combine wet ingredients with a hand mixer on low.
  4. To cream, increase speed to high and beat until fluffy and the color lightens.
  5. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture until no flour is visible.
  6. (Over mixing develops the gluten, making a tough cookie.) Now add the oats and raisins; stir to incorporate.
  7. Fill cookie scoop with dough.
  1. (Use a #40 cookie scoop; it measures 2 tablespoon of dough) Press against side of bowl, pulling up to level dough.
  2. Drop 2-inches apart onto baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.
  3. Bake 11-13 minutes (on center rack), until golden, but still moist beneath cracks on top.
  4. Remove from oven; let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

George is Back

Last week I brought you the teaser, this week, the whole dang video. It’s George Michael’s new song, and all Kate Moss can manage is to stand around and shake her hair. of course.

Etc.

I’ve had a zit all week and I am way over it. I used to have this great charcoal mask that I got in Napa that would dry everything right up, but I couldn’t find it. I need to figure something out.

On a much more serious note, sending positive thoughts out to Colorado. Not sure how many people have to die before someone stands up to do something sensible about all of the gun violence. Kudos to Mayor Bloomberg, who seems to be the only politician not afraid to speak out.

Peace to all!

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Summer Salsa

July 5, 2012

Happy 4th week everyone! Hope you are enjoying some fun time this week, even if the holiday does fall on a Wednesday. (Boo!) We have the week off and are enjoying seeing family and friends, celebrating our daughter’s 5th birthday, lounging on the beach and of course, eating ice cream! (The official food of summer, really.) The only downside is that I think I have lost the ability to sleep late, which is a bummer, but what can you do. (And I am not blaming my kids here — I just keep waking up by 6:30. :()

Anyway, the other official food of summer is anything grilled, and we have been doing a lot of that too. Fish on the grill is especially tasty. Just pick any thicker, heartier fish so it doesn’t fall apart on the grill — salmon, tuna or mahi mahi are all good. And to make it really come alive, I do a lovely summer salsa:

My Summer Salsa

Mango, Red Onion, Jalapeno Pepper, Tomatoes, Fresh Lime Juice, Salt and Pepper.

Chop in bite sized pieces and mix together in a glass bowl. Serve over fish.

How much of each thing, you ask? That’s really up to you. I typically use a whole mango, half a large red onion, 1 pepper, 2 – 3 medium tomatoes, and the juice from half a lime. BUT if your guests don’t like spicy, I omit the jalapeno and use a green pepper. You can also substitute a couple of peaches for the mango. Two other tips: don’t use fruit or veggies that are overripe and thus too soft. you’ll get mushy salsa. (Frankly, it will taste ok but have horrible presentation.) You want it just before it’s ripe, but of course not too hard because then it will taste bad. And I find it tastes best if you make it an hour or so before and let it co-mingle in the fridge. The flavors really come out.

My other favorite summer foods? Peel and eat jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce with a generous amount of horseradish, steamers, watermelon and plums. Try eating any of them and not feeling like it’s summertime!

Get naked

I had a facial recently and one of the things she told me was to use higher SPF. She was talking about my face but I am taking it to heart all over. SPF 30 at minimum, and I even got some 50. The sun is strong. And I have come to the conclusion that the only way to truly get it everywhere it needs to be is to put it on when you’re naked, before you put your bathing suit on. This goes for your kids too. That way you don’t worry about it getting on anything, and all the nooks and crannies are protected. Do it with a friend!

Etc.

I still find it odd that the DC area as well as Southern NJ were hit with such an awful storm last Friday night with no warning whatsoever. Some people still don’t have power, almost a week later. With the ferocity of storms growing, one would hope with all of the technology out there, someone could come up with a better alert system. And maybe they should start thinking about how to better preserve the electrical grid, but I know this country doesn’t like to invest in infrastructure…but I digress.

Anyway, Happy Birthday America!

Rinse and Repeat

June 26, 2012

Your new fav hair care product

I’ve gotten my hair cut by the same guy in the West Village for over a dozen years, maybe more. And so I was surprised when last time I went he said I had deposit on my hair. He asked if I was trying something new and I told him I had been using the same shampoo for several years, and he said to switch, it wasn’t working on my hair anymore.

Now, this is where you probably think he tried to sell me something, but no, he doesn’t sell shampoo in his salon, because, as he has told me many times, “I didn’t get into cutting hair to sell shampoo.” (Love that!) So I actually believed him about my hair. His remedy? White vinegar. It doesn’t mess with color, and it takes the deposits off of your hair, leaving it shinier and somehow fresher. Just get a plastic squeeze bottle, fill it with white vinegar and douse your head while you’re in the shower. Rinse it out and then shampoo and condition as normal. (One note — maybe do it on a day where you don’t care if you smell a little vinegar-y. I did it on a Monday and all day long I felt like I smelled faintly of salad dressing.)

It really worked, and I’m think every couple of months I’ll do it. As for my shampoo, I’m in the process of finding a new one that cleans, isn’t too drying and is easy on the wallet. So as soon as I find one that’s worth recommending, I’ll report back!

P.S. I also recently read an article that says anethesia can have an effect on your hair. This is weird because I did go under for my knee surgery on March, so maybe that had an effect. But the real effect I guess most people experience is slower hair growth. Weird!

Summer Protection…

If you’ve gone to the store lately to buy sunscreen you know how intimidating it is with all of the different brands, SPFs, consistencies, etc. There’s a new one on the market I love that’s specifically for the face: L’Oreal Sublime Sun Advanced Sunscreen Liquid Silk Sunshield for the Face — 50 SPF. (Note to L’Oreal: That’s a mouthful.) It really is different — it’s lighter, doesn’t clog pores, is packed with antioxidants and really protects well. This would be good to layer under makeup, and I like it for the beach. At $10.99 (although it’s on sale at Target at the moment) it’s a good investment for your face. They do sell a bottle for the body, but I’m not sure you need a formulation like this for the whole kit and kaboodle.

Summer Treat

When the days hit 90 degrees, what better thing to grab than some sort of frozen treat? I am really liking the Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches. They’re tasty, 140 calories, and just the right size so you feel like you’re actually treating yourself. They come in a bunch of flavors but I think vanilla ice cream with the chocolate outsides is classic for a reason. Enjoy!

Etc.

My son still has a couple last days of school, but it does feel like summer has arrived. We were on the beach all weekend and it was just gorgeous, although today I see how pathetically awful I am at putting on sunscreen. I think I really have to do it before I put my bathing suit on to make sure I get everywhere.

Tonight the Empire State Building is red and blue for the new Spiderman movie…it really must be summer!

Enjoy…

Oh, Memorial Day Weekend. It really is a harbinger of great summery things to come, no? Which always gets me thinking about all the things I want to do this summer. Like make a blueberry crisp. Martha Stewart was on the Today show yesterday whipping one up. I haven’t made it yet, but it looked delish:

Blueberry crisp

Recipe courtesy of “Martha’s American Food” cookbook

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 6 cups (3 pints) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as almonds (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Make the filling: Mix blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish.

2. Make the topping: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, nuts, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir flour mixture into butter. Using your hands, squeeze topping pieces together to form clumps.

3. Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake until filling is bubbling in center and topping is golden brown, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 30 minutes before serving.

You know what else I want to serve for dessert this summer? Big, ripe strawberries and a bowl of freshly whipped cream. It’s light, it’s sweet — just right for after a summer barbecue. We went out to Sparks steak house last week and a third of the desserts on their menu were different berries with their homemade whipped cream. After a big meal, it sounded divine.

Membership Rewards

We’ve joined many museums over the years because we feel it’s nice to support them, and if we go a lot, it can save money on entrance fees. More and more, I feel the museums are offering nice amenities that make it even more worthwhile to join. At the Metropolitan, they recently opened up on a Monday, typically their day that they are closed to the pubic, for a members-only day. As a member, you got to tour some of their most in-demand exhibitions (The Stein Collection; Prada and Schiaparelli at the Costume Institute) without the crowds, and in the foyer they offered cocktail tables and cookies and drinks. Plus 20% off in the store. Very civilized! MoMA offers family mornings on Saturdays where kids do art scavenger hunts and have a continental breakfast before the museum opens to non-members. And if your husband watches the kids, you can sneak off and go through some of their recent exhibits in peace. So the next time you visit your local museum, wherever you are, take a look at what a membership gets you. Chances are it’s much more than free admission, you can feel great about supporting the institution, and that you’ve enriched your family’s life that much more!

Etc.

Um, maybe it could stop raining right about now?! I can’t believe we have to fly to London to escape the downpours! It’s darkening everyone’s mood. Hopefully the long weekend will cheer them up!

Have a good one!

In Kind

May 16, 2012

I was talking to a nutritionist recently about what snacks were good to keep at work. One thing that I tend to do is eat lunch and then not have time to eat until I get home around 7pm or so, and then I am starving and grab whatever is quickest, not necessarily whatever is best nutritionally. She was adamant that it’s important to have a snack mid-afternoon. And having protein as a part of the snack is a good idea.

So what did she recommend? A string cheese or a light Babybel with five or so whole wheat crackers. (She liked Triscuits more than Wheat Thins. I actually really like a multigrain cracker from Trader Joe’s.) Almonds or trail mix, in a prepackaged serving size so as not to over indulge. Trader Joe’s sells 10 individually wrapped packets of trail mix and it’s tasty. As for bars, she recommended Kind bars, which have few additives. I really like the cranberry almond bar, which is a little sweet and a whole lot satisfying. She also recommended Pure Organic bars. I’ve tried the chocolate brownie bar and it is tasty. I would classify this as a treat rather than just a snack, as it’s a little more like a candy bar. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Everyone runs from carbs, and maybe with good reason, but she assured me that the trick is mixing protein in with the carbs. So if you have an apple, put a little almond butter on it. As I mentioned above, have a few crackers with some cheese. Peanut butter and banana on a slice of light toast fills you up.

The moral of the story here is that you can snack, be satisfied, and stay healthy.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Foam rolling, that is. If you’ve got any sort of pain from tight calf muscles, IT band, or really anywhere, try foam rolling it out. It really does work. Most gyms have them tucked in a corner, and you might want to ask one of the staff for a few tips on using it, but here’s a quick tutorial: place the foam roller under where the pain is. Roll it out in small sections, applying as much pressure as you can stand. So, you don’t want to do big long rolls, and you want to do short ones and work your way down the leg. If you’re doing the back of your calf, for example, you may want to cross your other leg over the top to give you a little more leverage and pressure. It’s a bigger stretch.

I also really like lying on the foam roller long-ways, and having it support your head down to your lover back. (You should feel well-supported.) Bend your knees, feet flat on the floor, arms by your side. Breathe in and out. This in itself is relaxing and really lets my shoulders fall away and release. You can do some rocking side to side and take your hands up over head for a bigger stretch. Once you’re done, roll off the roller and let your back lay flat on the ground. Feel the benefits. Roll up and return to standing, with a little less pain!

Etc.

Another rainy week. I feel like the weekend was so nice that we really can’t complain…too much. I wore all black today in anticipation of the weather making me feel a little crummy. I recommend that — dressing for your mood. It broadcasts to the world what to expect from you, in a perfectly relaxed and easy way!

Hope you’re feeling great! (And that would mean wearing a bright color…)

I realize it’s a little bizarre to follow up a post about Easter candy with a post about sugar being toxic, but so be it. I just happened to watch Sanjay Gupta’s piece for 60 Minutes, and it’s pretty scary. Essentially the latest research shows that a sugary drink is just as bad for your body, and can have the same ill effects, as a fatty hamburger. I’m oversimplifying but that is essentially the headline. You can watch for yourself here.

I think the thing that is so frustrating as a parent — really, as a consumer — is that sugar and all its derivatives (high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, etc.) are hidden in things you wouldn’t even think had them. Things like peanut butter and spaghetti sauce. Bottom line, you really have to read every label. Because it could say “natural” and be loaded with sugar, since sugar is, in fact, natural. Natural but toxic, apparently.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Just want to give a shout out to a couple of customer-friendly stores. Sephora, who has a liberal return policy, which is very rare for cosmetics stores. I had a spray that was malfunctioning, and they exchanged it lickety split. Jack’s Stir and Brew, a great coffee spot in the city, couldn’t accommodate my request but tried to make up for it in another way…I had gotten a pound of their coffee and wanted to exchange it for decaf. It had only been a week but they said they couldn’t take it back. I didn’t argue — it’s a small operation and what can you do. I had also ordered a large decaf skim latte, and without missing a beat he said the drink was on the house. Which means I will be a loyal customer, and tell others. Because if a place really believes that the customer comes first, the customer will in fact always come there, first!

The Emperor Needs New Clothes?

Warm weather leaving you feeling like you need a new outfit? It’s the Friends and Family sale and Lord & Taylor this weekend — 25% off just about everything, and 10% off cosmetics. Shop online here and enter the code “FRIENDS”.

Etc.

The weekend is here! And the weather is supposed to be fab…enjoy it!!

I feel like I have a lot to get to this week, but maybe that’s what happens when you actually get a few days off to stop and smell the…Daterra coffee from Irving Farms. Seriously good coffee. We had dinner at the lovely (and tasty) Blue Hill one night, and the after dinner coffee was so good we asked where it came from. A few days later I hit their small shop on 7th avenue, right below 14th street. (They also have a main store over on Irving Place.) only drawback is that Daterra doesn’t come in decaf. You can also order it online here — it’s $14 for a 12 ounce bag ‘o beans. And by the way, Blue Hill is great for a special occasion — it’s a cozy vibe with a market menu utilizing the very best of what’s being grown right now. You may remember the Obamas went here on their date night to NYC a couple of years ago. They picked a good place. (Blue Hill is at 75 Washington Place)

We hit Zampa Wine Bar the other night, which I also really liked. In addition to an extensive wine list, the food is truly tasty. The crostini is a must – the tuna with hot pepper oil for sure. There are all sorts of small plates. On the large plates, the lasagna doesn’t disappoint. I like that you can order a little or a lot, depending on how hungry you are, and share with your dining partner or a whole table. Small tastes of everything add up a to a much more satisfying meal. It’s a much more modern way of eating, and perfect for a neighborhood joint. It’s comfy/cozy, which means that you should make a reservation. (306 West 13th Street)

Let’s just finish out the week with another new place that I had been wanted to try for a long time: The Dutch. For those of you who follow this type of thing, The Dutch comes to us from Andrew Carmellini, the chef who also brought us the hot spot Locanda Verde in Tribeca. Because these hot spots tend to attract a see and be scene kind of crowd, and they are almost impossible to get into, I tend to want to ignore them, but then they go and wind up on the New York Times‘ list of best new restaurants of the year and I feel like I must go and check them out! So we went with some friends and I have to say it was truly worth the hype. The space is larger than I thought it would be, but broken up into different rooms so it doesn’t feel cavernous. The mini oyster sandwiches are a good place to start, and the eggplant dip makes a nice accompaniment. One thing I liked about the menu was that I didn’t feel like I could get a lot of the choices other places — it felt special. The black cod with sticky rice was delish. Others at the table had the peking duck, the cod and the roasted chicken, which were all satisfying. Desserts are generous and definitely split-able. The devil’s food cake with black pepper boiled icing was amazing, as well as the Dutch apple pie a la mode. A good time to be had by all! (131 Sullivan Street)

I’d say that’s a pretty tasty post this week, no?

Etc.

Did you watch the Academy Awards? Can anyone produce that show in a way that makes it more entertaining? I don’t know…at one point there was a montage of old movies and I felt like I had seen the montage a thousand times before and I found myself wondering what in the world the purpose of including it was. And Billy Crystal, while at times funny, just seemed so old school. I did love Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech. It’s not easy to be self-deprecating but confident, and heartfelt without seeming forced or schmaltzy, but she deftly managed it like the pro she is. I think they need to cut the awards given back to just the ones people really care about, get a good host, put in a little more entertainment and call it a day at 2 hours. Amen.

Spooked

November 1, 2011

As I write this, I can hear the sound of the Halloween revelers at the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. And I can tell you that Halloween really makes people crazy. If you need proof of this, just watch some footage of what happened on Good Morning America this morning, when it turned into a crazy dance party on live television for many. many minutes, leaving poor George Stephanopoulos to stand in the background, in costume, dumbstruck and drinking. Bananas. (Check it out.)

So now what to do with all of that candy? In my house we try to wrench the non-chocolate candy out of their paws. At least the chocolate has some sort of redeeming nutritional qualities…Nerds are just going to rot their beautiful little teeth. We let them trade it for a treat at the toy store of their choice. And the rest can go into work…for co-workers to rot their beautiful teeth. But at least I don’t have to pay for that dental work!

But here’s what’s really spooky: snow — lots of it — in October. Town upon town without power so they have to postpone Halloween. And now, November. Which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And then…the holidays. I’ve already planned a shopping day with my friend to knock out a lot of holiday shopping right after Turkey Day. (Not Black Friday, of course.) I say get as much as you can done early, so you can try and enjoy the season.

Like I said, spooked.

Candy!

If you’re a grown up in need of a chocolate fix, and the remnants of your kids’ pumpkin haul just aren’t cutting it, Jacques Torres has all kinds of tempting treats. (Not cheap, but hey, you’re worth it.) I’m a big fan of their dark almond bark, and for the season they’ve got chocolate covered pumpkin seed brittle. I haven’t had them, but others swear by their chocolate covered cheerios. Stop by in Chelsea Market or one of their other locations — I had a tasty latte at the one in Dumbo a couple of weekends ago.

Etc.

Happy Halloween! Hope you had a good one.

 

 

If you caught our previous post, you know that our friends at Tate’s Bakery are sponsoring a contest here at Family Favs.  WELL, TODAY IS THE DAY TO MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE!!

Send us your favorite cookie recipe, and you could win 3 bags of Tate’s delicious Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip cookies, as well as a signed copy of master baker’s Kathleen’s cookbook. Plus we’ll put your recipe on Family Favs to share with all of our readers. Just email us at familyfavs@yahoo.com by MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, Tuesday, October 18th, and don’t forget to include your name and address so Tate’s can ship you your prize if you win. Open to U.S. residents only (sorry international friends!)…we’ll take all of the entries, mix ‘em up and pull out one lucky winner.

Come on, you know you want some tasty cookies!!

When we heard from our friends at Tate’s Bake Shop last month that they’d like Family Favs to do a tasting of their Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, we jumped at the chance. Who in her right mind with 2 kids and a hungry husband would say no to that?! October is National Cookie Month, after all. (No, I didn’t know that until they told me!) And apparently Tate’s Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies won a Gold in the Cookie category at the 2011 sofi™ Awards, presented at the Fancy Food Show (known as the Oscars® of the specialty food industry) in Washington, DC. Sounded good to me!

Kathleen King, who created these cookies, has been baking since she was 11 years old, selling chocolate chip cookies at her family’s farm stand. Those chocolate chip cookies have since been voted America’s Favorite Chocolate Chip cookie by Rachel Ray, and Tate’s Bake Shop now offers many more cookie flavors, as well as a variety of Kathleen’s signature traditional American desserts such as cakes, pies, crumbles and more. She has now put it all together in a cookbook, The Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook, which includes a forward by Ina Garten. The cookbook has been a huge hit as the recipes are delicious and simple to bake. According to Kathleen, each recipe is designed to “take less time to make than it would to go to a store to buy a commercially prepared baked good.” I am definitely down with that.

So, on to the cookies: how are they? Quite tasty, I must say. I should state up front that I have built in preference for soft cookies (that just out of the oven smell and taste can’t be beat) but given that I almost never have time to bake, especially during the week, these are a terrific substitute to have in the cabinet. The chocolate chunks are my favorite part — it tastes like high quality chocolate, which isn’t always the case with store-bought cookies. And there is a very generous chocolate: cookie distribution, so you get some chunks in every bite. Also a huge plus. And the fact that they’re whole wheat (but don’t taste it at all), well, that gives any mom a little extra satisfaction about giving them to their kids. Thumbs up I say!

Now, here’s the good part. From now through October 12th, Family Favs readers can take 15% off their order at Tate’s Bake Shop online by using the code cookie2011 at checkout.

And, we’ve got an exclusive contest. Send Family Favs your favorite cookie recipe, and you could win 3 bags of Tate’s delicious Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip cookies, as well as a signed copy of Kathleen’s cookbook. Plus we’ll put your recipe on Family Favs to share with all of our readers. Just email us at familyfavs@yahoo.com by Tuesday, October 18th, and don’t forget to include your name and address so Tate’s can ship you your prize if you win. Open to U.S. residents only (sorry international friends!)…we’ll take all of the entries, mix ’em up and pull out one lucky winner. Come on, you know you want some tasty cookies!!

If you’d like, you can check Tate’s out on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @TatesBakeShop.