Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Costco now has Gelato!

Just rolled out last Thursday, the Houston Galleria Costco is now making on the premises three different kinds of gelato.
Pistachio (which I sampled - YUMMY!), Mixed Berry and Stracciatella, which is vanilla mixed with chocolate shavings. And look at the price -- THREE scoops in a waffle cone for only $1.50 and hand-packed quarts for $4.99. Right now the only Houston Costco with gelato is the Galleria store.

Get Heart's new song, "Sand" for free on Amazon!

Download Heart's new MP3 song, "Sand" today for free on Amazon! It's not bad! Their new EP is "WTF + 4".

Monday, August 30, 2010

Farro, not Pharaoh

Latest shopping-while-hungry purchase at Costco -- Earthly Delights Italian Pearled Farro. Three pounds for $7.99 -Bonus it is organic, too! I had never even heard of this, but it sounded like a nice alternative to potatoes, rice and pasta. I also liked the versatility of this grain -- I sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top, then had the leftovers the next day for breakfast with just a little of the real stuff maple syrup drizzled on top. You can even use honey instead and add blueberries and walnuts for a really filling start to your day! They also say you can add it to soups and salads. It reminds me of a more rounded oatmeal. Sort of a nutty flavor, but nothing "off" like quinoa. The "pearling" process removes the outer husk of the seed, so it cooks much more quickly - in 15 minutes!

Take a look at what you get in a 1/4 cup serving:
170 calories, 1g fat (0 sat, 0 trans), 0g cholesterol, 30mg sodium, 35g carb, 5g fiber, 0g sugar, 7g protein, 2% calcium, 12% iron

Next time you are in Costco, look for this on the endcap display and give it try!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Better For You Brownies

This is from the September 1, 2010 issue of Woman's Day, page 198. Here's the link to the original recipe and here are my changes.

First thing I did was cut the recipe in half. Then I umped up the chocolate quotient with Ghiradelli 60% Bittersweet chocolate chips instead of semisweet. I also used a 4 ounce snack pack unsweetened applesauce container. (I learned this trick along the way, instead of opening a large jar of applesauce and having it go moldy before using it all. Best to pay a little bit more than to waste money throwing your savings away.) For the whole wheat flour I used King Arthur's White Whole Wheat. And I also found that using the silicone baking pans - mine is the Calphalon Bake for the Cure - releases the brownies easily without having to use parchment paper, releasable foil, or even Pam. I love it! The result: I've tried a lot of low-fat, "healthier" brownies, with usually less than satisfying results. They were too cakey, never gooey or chewy. Up until this recipe, I've about given up trying and just sticking to willpower and the real deal. These have come pretty close to sinning. With a 5/8" height, it's denser but you can still detect lighter feel. I really think the bittersweet chocolate keeps it more gourmet/unusual to help fool your tastebuds a little easier.

Better-For-You Brownies - Revised

1/2 cup Ghiradelli 60% Bittersweet chocolate chips
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 - 4 ounce container unsweetened applesauce
2 large egg whites
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large glass bowl, stirring every 10 seconds until melted and smooth. Whisk in sugar, applesauce and egg whites until mixed well. Mix together flour, cocoa and salt then stir into mixture just until blended. Spread into pan, top with walnuts. Bake 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Makes 12 brownies. 118 calories, 2g protein, 17g carb, 1g fiber, 6g fat (3g sat), 5mg cholesterol, 61mg sodium

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

Update - Hobby-Lobby has Simplicity on sale for 99 cents this week, September 6/11.

Labor Day Sale - September 3/6
$1.99 McCalls
$3.99 Vogue
40% off sewing and cutting tools
50% off notions wall and quilting notions

September 9-September 11 - $1.99 Simplicity

August 29/September 11
"Decades Price" Coats & Clark 400 yard thread with limited edition Jo-Ann's label, in Black or White
This is the first time in 13 years I haven't had to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunches. . .

Monday, August 16, 2010

Netflix Stars - Bread and Tulips

4.5/5 A change of pace love story. Even with the English subtitles (the movie is in Italian), it was fun and easy to follow along. If you are looking for a different romantic comedy bordering on slightly bizarre, you'll enjoy this one.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Peace Maple Pecan Crisp Cereal

A tasty transition into Fall! Corn flakes, rolled oat clusters and pecan pieces sweetened with real maple syrup without being overly maple-y and sweet. I also like the fact a serving is a filling cup.

240 calories, 6g total fat, 0.5g sat fat, 220mg sodium, 42g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 11g sugar, 5g protein, 2% calcium, 6% iron

14 ounces, 7 servings, $3.59 at Whole Foods

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week - Tazo Vanilla Rooibos Organic Red Tea Latte Concentrate

Cost: $3.99 for 32 ounces at Super Target
Caffeine: No
Type of tea: Red
Ingredients: Rooibos tea, vanilla extract, apple and peach juices, cassia, chamomile, licorice root, water, cane sugar

4 ounces of concentrate has 60 calories, 5mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 12g sugar, 1g protein, 4% vitamin A, 2% calcium, 4% vitamin C, 4% iron

Opinion: Tastes like apple juice mixed with milk - yuck! I'll try it warmed next time, maybe closer to Fall for something more seasonal? Disappointed I couldn't detect the peach flavor. It's almost too sweet, and I certainly didn't use the suggested 50/50 proportions. More like 1/4 to 1/3 added to a little more than half filled glass of skim milk. Would I buy it again? Probably not. I'll finish it, maybe. I like the Green Tea Latte much better.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

August 20/22 - 5 for $5 Simplicity
50% off thread

Can't wait? Hobby Lobby this week has Simplicity for 99 cents.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Netflix Stars - The Bounty Hunter

1.75/5 Only because we played it all the way through, hoping it would get better. It seemed like it would never end. I guess I'm not susceptible to Gerard Butler's supposed charm? And to think I waited for it at the top of my queue...throw me another season of Las Vegas, please!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Sandra Betzina Today's Fit Vogue 1164 - View B Top

I finally finished the short-sleeved View B Vogue 1164. It had been cut and ready to sew on my sewing table for almost two months. It's been a busy summer! This view does not have darts, nor did I add the elastic to the back, as in my other versions of View A from February 27 and January 27 .

I used a lycra knit fabric, (it's hard to tell in this picture, but it is a cream/white/yellow/black print I bought from C & C Fabrics when they were at the Houston Quilt Festival last year) lined with a camo print lace knit from the Jo-Ann's Red Tag sale. Get a little creative and have fun with the front lining! As long is it is a lightweight stretchy knit, it will work. Sometimes that stretch mesh is hard to find, and can be a little pricey. Tricot is cheaper but also difficult to locate locally. The clerk at Jo-ann's just said, "Huh? We don't carry that!" (???) You should also note the sleeves are not as long as drawn on the pattern envelope. I even added 5/8" to the length. The 100+ degree temperatures this afternoon persuaded me to stay inside and improvise from my button stash, adding an extra button to the front. I may still try to find a cool button to showcase later.

FYI: Jo-Ann's is having their $3.99 Vogue pattern sale this weekend, and this pattern is currently on sale for $5.99 on the Vogue pattern website. Grab this pattern while it is still available...and at a considerable savings from the $27.50 list price. At least they still carry patterns!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

This week: Cost Plus World Market Organic Jasmine Pearls
Cost: $4.99
Number of teabags: 15 individually wrapped pyramid "infusers"
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Green
Steeping time: 5 minutes
Mix ins: CBTL Fat-Free Vanilla powder
Ingredients: Organic jasmine pearls
Double Dip: Surprise! Yes! I had left the teabag out overnight and the leaves somewhat reformed back into balls. It wasn't quite as strong, but still drinkable.
Opinion: I tried the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls tea as an iced latte in the store and loved it! It tasted (and with the crushed ice looked) like rice pudding! I went to purchase a canister, it rang up $20.20! Whoa, that's a lot! I put it back ricky-tick, and vowed to find a less expensive version first. When I found this at Cost Plus World Market for less than $5, I figured it was worth a shot. Each teabag contains 15-19 "pearls". I liked the fact the tea bags are sealed, keeping intact the jasmine flavor and fragrance. I tried this both hot and cold and loved both versions. So did my wallet! The fragrance and taste is very soothing and calming. Perfect when you need a recentering moment or just want a taste change of pace. Being organic is bonus, and if you join the free Cost Plus World Market "Explorer" program, you can get coupons for 10% off. I was also impressed at all the teas they had, I'll be back!
Rating: 4.25

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Cascadian Farm - Vanilla Almond Crunch

Cascadian Farm Vanilla Almond Crunch - $3.49 at Whole Foods

Nice and tasty combination of oats, wheat, crisp rice, sliced almonds and vanilla. The generous 3/4 cup serving size is enough to sustain you throughout the morning and even a treadmill workout.

200 calories, 2.5 g total fat (0.5g sat, 0.5g polyunsaturated, 1.5g monosaturated), 190mg sodium, 125mg potassium, 41g total carb, 3g fiber, 15mg sugar, 23g other carb, 4g protein

Bonus they participate in the Box Tops for Education, too! I'll be buying this one again!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Thank Your Lucky Stars Hello Kitty

Found this Hello Kitty metal "take-out" candy tin at Cost Plus World Market for only $2.99!
Isn't it cute?! It measures 2 1/4" Haven't tried the candy yet, tho! I'm going to put this in my sewing room.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Frozen Hot Chocolate

When the temperature breaks 100...

I found this recipe in the August 2010 issue of Woman's Day magazine, page 100. It's by Joy Bauer from her book, Slim & Scrumptious. A book I will definitely be checking out from the library.

It is a take on Frozen Hot Chocolate, a signature dessert at Serendipity. My version is a little different, as I made it ahead and changed up the ingredients a little. It was actually more like a slightly creamy chocolate ice.

For starters, I used Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate syrup. And instead of 1 cup of the evaporated milk, I used the entire can - 12 ounces. So I increased the chocolate syrup from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup, trying to keep the same proportions. It was really chocolate-y, I may decrease it to 2/3 cup. I also bumped up the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon.

I mixed the ingredients in a 4 cup measuring cup and poured into 5 Chantal 1 cup sized custard cups. I put in the freezer around 1 PM and it was frozen by 6 PM. I pulled them out while we ate dinner and they softened just enough to be eaten easily with a spoon.

Another variation is to use 1/4 teaspoon mint extract instead of vanilla. To make the Mexican version, add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.

The result - 3.5/5.0 I will definitely make it again. It is much healthier than ice cream - no fat, no added sugar other than from the syrup. Perfect for hubby's late-night noshing.

Here is my version, followed by the original --

3/4 cup Hershey's Dark Chocolate Syrup
1 can (12 ounces) fat free evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix together, pour into cups and freeze
150 calories, 5 g protein, 0 g fat, 85 mg sodium

1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups ice cubes

Combine ingredients in blender until smooth, pour into glasses. Garnish with a dollop of whipped topping and chocolate shavings.