Archive for the ‘Dining’ Category

7 Honeys for your Honey

February 9th, 2009 by Jane

It is Valentine’s Week and I need to come up with something to give my honey, but I am worried about the bees. Not the birds and the bees, the honeybees. And I am not the only one, scientists have been worried about the bees for quite sometime. It seems entire colonies are disappearing and no one knows why.  So, here are a few suggestions for how to help the bees and treat your honey on Valentine’s Day.

1. Bee Cookies
Make these adorable honey bee cookies to give as gifts.

2. Bee Tees
The folks at Haagen-Dazs have made a commitment to help the honeybees and they have made it easy for us to join in the cause by purchasing one of these tee-shirts. Or try their new flavor, Vanilla Honey Bee, dedicated to the hard-working insects.

3. Food of the Angels
This recipe for angel food cake with lemon-honey yogurt sauce is heart-healthy which makes it a very good gift for your sweetheart’s heart! 

4. Give the Gift of Bees
At Heifer International, you can donate a hive of bees to a struggling family in another part of our world. This thirty dollar gift will provide income for an entire family for years to come. Now that’s showing some love! Or buy one of these sweet bee prints from this artist’s shop on etsy.

5. Honey Board
The National Honey Board is chock full of information, recipes, home remedies as well as a locator for you to find honey in your area.

6. Honey Rock
Sweet Honey in the Rock has been singing for  years and they still have it going on! 

7. Plant a Bee-Friendly  Garden
If your honey is a gardener, peruse this site for ideas on how to make your garden attractive to bees. Order some free gardening catalogs and plan your spring garden to make the bees and your valentine happy!

7 Ways To Enjoy Eggs

January 29th, 2009 by Amy

The incredible, edible, and economical egg!

(Spend a little extra on organic, cage-free, free-range varieties, it’s just good karma.)


1.  Egg Salad

Hard boiled eggs mixed with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper make for a cheap sandwich filling that’s a welcome change of pace from its just-as-stinky cousin, tuna salad.

4 Hard-boiled Eggs, peeled and chopped
¼ cup Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
1 Celery Stalk (no ends or leaves), finely chopped
2 teaspoons Red or Sweet White Onion, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste


2.  Frittata

The Italian frittata is a flexible way to use meats, cheeses, and vegetables to create a layered egg dish. Dense and flavorful, the frittata is first cooked on the stove, then finished under the broiler.


3.  Hard Boiled

Boil half a dozen eggs and keep in the ‘fridge for a budget-friendly protein addition to salad. Slice it, dice it, crumble it, and turn a simple salad into a meal. Mix with a roux of flour, butter, and cream for the old-fashioned comfort food, Creamed Eggs On Toast. Or whip up a batch of Curried Deviled Eggs for no reason at all.


4.  Migas

An inexpensive Tex-Mex classic, migas are eggs scrambled with corn tortilla strips, diced onion, chile peppers, and tomatoes served with cheese and salsa on top and refried beans and flour or corn tortillas on the side. Incredibly delicious and remarkably filling, this dish is cheap to make without cutting nutritional corners. The Homesick Texan provides an excellent recipe (and photograph!).  


5.  Open-Face Omelet Sandwich

Street vendors in Paris make something similar – a piping hot and gooey omelet served in a split baguette. Making it at home means you can play with add-ins – spinach, tomatoes, feta, bacon … anything you’d like. Serve in between slices of focaccia, toast, or French bread.


6.  Strata

The perfect use for stale bread, a strata uses eggs, milk and cheese to create what is essentially a savory bread pudding. Throw in last night’s leftover mushrooms or broccoli for added flavor. This innovative recipe uses English muffins and canadian bacon and make enough for a crowd.


7.  Quiche

Easy to make and great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, quiche has always been one of my favorites. Grate 1 cup of your favorite cheese and sprinkle inside a pre-made frozen pie crust. Heat 1 cup milk until warm and whisk in three eggs along with a dash of salt and pepper. Pour over cheese and top with bits of butter and a shake of nutmeg. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, or until set.

7 Soups for National Soup Month

January 26th, 2009 by Jane

It is no wonder that the ultimate comfort food has a month dedicated in it’s honor.  Soup exists in all cultures and is the essence of what humans need to survive: water, vegetables, and protein.  It can be a humble dish of broth and leftovers to the most sophisticated layering of ingredients. The Japanese even eat soup for breakfast. I must be in perpetual need of comfort, because soup is one of my favorite foods. Some of the most memorable soups are those I ate while we lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you are visiting any time soon, try the Hangover Stew at Carlos’ Gospel Café, the Santa Fe Trails soup at Gabriel’s in Pojoaque and everything at Back Street Bistro. I swear, the Hungarian Cream of Mushroom soup that is served there is the best thing that you have ever put in your mouth. So, try a few of these recipes or visit the websites that use soup to help others and you will feel sated and restored.

1. Year-Round Tomato Soup
Try this recipe from television chef Michael Chiarello for a twist on the childhood classic. It uses canned tomatoes so you can make this anytime. Add a grilled cheese sandwich and you’ve got a meal any one of any age will love. Don’t forget the pickle on the side.

2. Chicken Noodle Soup
Driven by my parents’ refusal to stop adding onions to every main dish, my middle sister survived on Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup for approximately two years during her adolescence. If you want to make it from scratch, you can never go wrong with any recipe from Tyler Florence. We like it with Saltine crackers!

3. Bean Soup
Black bean soup is one of my favorites. Add some grated cheddar, a dollop of plain yogurt, chopped tomatoes and loads of cilantro on top and you will have a filling, healthy meal that stretches easily for a crowd.

4. Need Your Sinuses Cleared?
In Texas, when you are feeling poorly, someone who loves you might bring you Tortilla Soup from your favorite restaurant.  If not, try this recipe from Rachel Ray and keep some in the freezer! It will cure what ails you.

5. Vegetable Soup
I can throw together a pot of homemade vegetable soup in twenty minutes.  Just keep some good-quality broth on hand and use what you have.  Here is a recipe to use as a guideline. Throw in some alphabet noodles and trick your kids into studying their spelling words.

6. From Soup to Jobs
The Soup Peddler in Austin, Texas has one of the best jobs in the world. David Ansel started selling homemade soups to his neighbors, delivering the yummy goodness on his bike. Years later, he is a food business phenom! Check out his site and buy his cookbook for an entertaining read. The Women’s Bean Project teaches job and life skills to women when they are hired to work in this gourmet food company. Sales of soup mixes help fund the Denver, Colorado non-profit dedicated to stopping the poverty cycle.

7. Book Soup
Soup has even been the inspiration for many books including the children’s classic Stone Soup. This heartfelt tale about a village of stingy people illustrates a wonderful lesson on sharing. The charming book of poetry for children, Soup for Breakfast, would make a lovely gift for a child or teacher.

7 Steps to a Great Salad

January 22nd, 2009 by Jane

Ancient Greeks and Romans are thought to have made simple salads of greens with dressing, but I am sure they would not have predicted the myriad ways we currently enjoy them. A salad can be a small accompaniment to your entree or an entire meal. If I had my choice I would eat a salad everyday and my salad creations have become famous in certain circles, if I do say so myself. In fact, one friend said “If this salad were running for president, I would vote for it.”  I am unable to make the same salad twice, but I do have some tips on how to make a great salad that I thought I would share with you. Check out this beautiful book for more recipes.

1. Presentation
Start with a lovely bowl or tray on which to serve your salad.  Consider what type of salad you are making when you choose the dish.  Sometimes I make a mini-buffet on a tray by grouping the ingredients so that guests may choose what they would like to take. This is an especially great way to serve Salad Nicoise, as not everyone cares for all of the foods that are included in that delicious recipe.

2. Greens
I like to mix many types of greens for maximum punch. My favorite right now is spinach and arugula. I will also mix in whatever herbs I have on hand, even cilantro. For a taco salad, I use romaine paired with good old iceberg for lots of crunch. Make sure the greens can hold up to the toppings you are using. Heavy vegetables need a good foundation, so you wouldn’t want to use delicate baby greens. Save those for a more subtle application.

3. Toppings
Carrots, celery, bell pepper, red onion, cucumber are all great when they are ripe and in season, but try some different additions to make your salad more interesting. I like to add artichoke hearts, julienned jicama, garbanzo beans (make sure to rinse and drain them), hearts of palm, several types of mushrooms, steamed asparagus or green beans, thinly sliced radishes, or sliced pear or apple. My kids love it when I put some grated cheese of any kind on top. Find your own great combinations based on what you have or what is in season.

4. Garnishes
I love to put something crunchy on top like sunflower seeds or candied cashews. A sprinkle of dried cranberries or cherries will add just the right amount of tartness to a salad of arugula, pear and goat cheese. Using what I had on hand led to a great salad with cornbread croutons and a cilantro vinaigrette. Toast leftover cubes of cornbread with olive oil and chili powder sprinkled on top. Throw minced cilantro and a few squeezes of lime juice into a simple oil and vinegar dressing and you’ve got an unusual combination that people will love. And of course, olives. I always include olives, unless Amy is coming over.

5. Dressing
A salad with the most pedestrian ingredients will shine if you make the dressing from scratch. I know, you are saying “Who has time for that?”  Well, you do if you follow this recipe.  Experiment and add different herbs, flavored vinegars or unusual types of mustard. You say you are a Ranch Dressing kind of person and nothing else? Try it from scratch and you will never buy another bottle of gelatinous Ranch Dressing again. Making your own salad dressing is also a great way to control your intake of salt and high-fructose corn syrup, and that just makes a body healthier.

6. Make it a Meal
You can top your masterpiece with leftover grilled chicken, pork or any type of lunch meat to expand it into an entree.  Vegetarian? Add some diced hard-boiled egg or a can of rinsed black beans. My favorite vegetarian salad entree’ is a taco salad. Brown some vegetarian crumbles with garlic and taco seasoning. Put on top of a sturdy mix of greens and tomatoes, then add salsa, plain yogurt, grated cheddar and tortilla chips. Yum!

7. Servers
Try these great salad hands or tongs to get your portion from the bowl to your plate without spillage! Enjoy! 

7 National “Something” Months In January

January 21st, 2009 by Amy

Ever noticed how every month seems to be a ragtag collection of a dozen National “Something” Months jammed into one? National African-American History Month (February), National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month (April), National Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month (May) all make good sense. But, National Roller Skating Month, National Country Ham Month, and National Toilet Tank Repair Month (all in October)? Each month has its special “somethings” and January is no different.


1.  International Coffee Gourmet Month

According to Global Exchange, “The United States consumes one-fifth of all the world’s coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often toil in what can be described as ‘sweatshops in the fields.’ “


To enjoy your cup of java to the fullest, consider buying one of the many Fair Trade Certified coffees available at supermarkets nationwide. 

2.  National Fiber Focus Month
According to the USDA, half of what we eat each day should be fiber. Forget how many cups of this and how many ounces of that. HALF! The good news is that if you eat your fruits and veggies, switch to wheat bread, and have a bowl of whole grain cereal you should be doin’ fine. The Mayo Clinic has a handy list.


3.  National Mail Order Gardening Month

The nights may still be nippy and the days a little too short, but it’s never too early to start planning for summer. The folks at the Mail Order Gardening Association – 75 years old and still going strong! – have an unbelievable website that will take you straight to the sunshine.


4.  National Mentoring Month

The great thing about mentoring is that you don’t have to teach anything, have anything, or do anything, you just need to be yourself. A great way to pay it back … or pay it forward. Read what Maya Angelou had to say about hers.


5.  Oatmeal Month

Over the years, oatmeal has morphed from a mild-mannered staple to a cholesterol-fighting culinary superstar. While happy to play a supporting role in cookies, breads, and cakes, oatmeal can also hold its own at breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner. This recipe for overnight crock pot oatmeal sounds like it’d be great to wake up to.


6.  National Prune Breakfast Month

Whether you call them “prunes” or “dried plums,” these aren’t just your granny’s laxative aid anymore! Delicious and healthy, if you plan on enjoying them for breakfast, this is the month!


7.  National Volunteer Blood Donor Month
The winter holidays tend to interrupt routine blood donation, which means that come January supplies are critically low. Donation is free, easy, relatively painless, and has the potential to save countless lives. To find a donation location or check the list of disqualifying factors, click here.

7 Thoughts on Tea

January 16th, 2009 by Jane

The healing properties of tea have been in the press  a lot over the last decade. These days you can find a flavor to suit any mood or ailment, if the shelves of the tea aisle in my local grocery store are an indicator. I love a light, lemony green tea with honey sometimes, or a spicy chai with soy milk, and I can always get boost of energy with a cup of Earl Grey in the afternoon. Since January is National Hot Tea Month, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about the lovely leaves.

1. Brew a Proper Pot or Pitcher
Do you know how to brew a good pot of tea? Before I educated myself, mine would sometimes turn out too bitter to drink. Can you make a clear, delicious pitcher of iced tea? Now that I know how to undo a cloudy batch, I can invite Martha Stewart over without embarrassment!

2. History
Tea has had an ancient and sometimes bloody history. To find out more, read this book by Beatrice Hohenegger.

3. Mystical Leaves
Learn how to read tea leaves! It’s like a little fortune cookie in your cup.

4. My New Favorite
Look for zhi tea for a sophisticated cup of loveliness. My favorite is pinhead gunpowder.

5. The Road to Peace
Taking the time for a cup of tea in the middle of your busy day can lead to a sense of calm and peace. Read Three Cups of Tea to see how that can be expanded on a global scale.

6.Not Just for Drinking
Yes, tea can be used for cooking! That’s right, tea can be used to make duck or salmon dishes more complex and interesting. Prepare either this tea-infused souffle’ or this green tea ice cream and be a hit with guests at your next pot-luck.

7. Tea Party
Treat yourself to a fabulous new tea cup or teapot and have a tea party for one. You will feel restored and pampered.

7 Things You Can Layer

January 14th, 2009 by Jane

It’s winter time and if you are like me, then layering your clothing is the way you get through the season. Well, since everything in my life seems to inspire a 7Of topic, this got me thinking about other things I have layered. So, here is a little peek into how my brain works…

1. Sweaters and Tees
I love to layer tissue weight tees.  I mix up the colors to suit my mood.  Coral over melon.  Emerald over teal.  Charcoal over camel.  On really cold days I add a sweater and I am ready for any temperature drop.

2. Emotions
As children we learn to identify our emotions: happy, sad, mad. But as we grow up, we realize those three words do not begin to cover the complexity of the range of human emotions. It seems they become even more complicated and nuanced as we age. At eight, it is difficult to imagine how the bitter and the sweet can enhance one another. Or how you can be the angriest at the person you love the most. Sometimes, when I am in the middle of an emotional layer cake, I envision myself at eighty, looking back on these times with wisdom and humor. I imagine that all of this swirl of human emotion will take on a patina, and with age, bring perspective and clarity. And probably a good laugh, mixed with a tear or two.

3. Jewelry
One of my favorite things to layer! Try lots of bracelets or several necklaces. A cluster of vintage pins on a jacket or hat looks great.

4. Dessert!
My family’s favorite recipe from my childhood is Butterscotch Bitsy. It is a sublime layering of crust, pudding and Cool Whip. Here is a recipe for a yummy chocolate layer cake! A delicious take on the bitter with the sweet.

5. Dips
The 7 Layer Dip is a party favorite!  Here is a kid-friendly recipe so they can help out in the kitchen.

6. Paper
I stopped buying greeting cards years ago when I found a box of printer-ready cards and envelopes at Costco. One hundred cards and envelopes for $9.99! So, I have a file box of scraps of nice papers that I have bought or salvaged and we make our own cards. This is a good 20 minute project for my kids. We have a few paper punches that they like to use. I put out a couple of glue sticks, some glitter glue and let them create their masterpieces to send to friends and family. Saves money, inspires creativity and makes the recipient feel special.

7. Linens
I’ll be honest: my bed is rarely made. However, I love those beautiful beds that are made up with lots of patterns and layers. My husband says that it would take 30 minutes to unmake those beds in order to get in them and he is probably right. But I still have my fantasies!

7 Great Cover Songs

January 8th, 2009 by Jane

Covering another artist’s work can be a gamble for a singer or band, but here are some  cover songs that definitely pay off for the listener. Download these from iTunes or your favorite online store and make an updated version of a mix tape.  I am now obsessed with finding more.  Send us your favorites!  Thanks to Sweet Bob in Seattle for some of these.

1. You Know You Loved the ’80s
This version of I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You is my favorite next to Elvis’, of course. The London-based band, Lick the Tins, had its moment in the 1980’s and left a lot of people wanting more.  Lucky for us, John Hughes included this song on a soundtrack to his movie Some Kind of Wonderful.

2. You’re not in Hawaii Anymore
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s recording of the classic Somewhere Over the Rainbow is incredibly haunting.

3. Be Still My Heart
Who can cover a legend properly?  Another legend. Try Springsteen’s cover of Bob Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom.

4. Revival
Ray Charles done CCR style with The Night Time is the Right Time will get you off of your booty.

5. Reggae Mama
You won’t believe how great a John Denver song sounds done with a Reggae twist.  Toots and the Maytals make Take Me Home Country Roads sound fresh.

6. Southern Soul
The Band’ s most famous song is perfection when the Queen of Soul pairs with an Allman brother. The Weight will lift you up!

7. Instead of Prozac
Take a little Sam Cooke, add Van Morrison and you can’t help but be in good mood. Bring it on Home to Me… Yeah, baby!

7 Alternative New Year’s Eve Celebrations

December 31st, 2008 by Jane

Don’t feel like going to that big New Year’s Eve party this year? Here are some fun and festive ways to ring in 2009 whether you are alone or with your family.

1. Fun for the Family
Those creative people over at Family Fun have some great ideas for you and your kids to do tonight. Crafts, games and fun ways to count down to midnight are included! I love the one about setting LOTS of alarm clocks to go off at twelve.

2. Dance the Night Away
Set up your computer or your iPod with your favorite songs, push back your furniture and have your own ball. This is one you can do with your special someone or the whole family. Make sure to put in some kid-friendly songs that they love. Grandparents visiting? Download some Sinatra or Benny Goodman and watch them show you how it is done. 

3. World Traveler
Choose several New Year’s Eve traditions from other countries and try them out for yourself.  If you are having a few guests, set up tables or stations for each country.  I love the Spanish tradition of eating 12 frozen grapes, one at each chime of the clock at midnight.

4. Cocktails
Invite a few friends over early in the evening to try out some unusual mixed drinks. Shake up some mocktails for the designated drivers. Make sure you provide snacks so that people don’t get tipsy. When they leave to go to their next party, you can get in your pj’s and watch the ball drop!

5. Starters
New Year’s Eve is the perfect excuse to make dips and appetizers a meal! Make it a contest with your guests and have them vote on their favorite. You can make categories such as: crowd pleaser, most unusual ingredient, best use of sour cream, and most elegant presentation!  Winners can take home a bottle of wine or a small trinket.

6. Wrap-Up
Use the evening to wrap-up up a project that you’ve been meaning to finish.  Closet shelves disorganized?  Put on some of your favorite music and tidy it up. You will feel great about how you rang in the year every time you reach for a sweater! Have some photos to go through or craft projects left undone?  Invite a friend to bring over her unfinished project/object and have a great time catching up while you, um, catch up.

7. Exfoliate!
If none of these ideas sound appealing and you are just ready for 2008 to be over, then give yourself a mini-spa while you listen to music or watch an old movie. Start 2009 with a clean slate and smooth skin!  

7 Organizations That Feed Hungry People

December 30th, 2008 by Amy

“About 25,000 people die [worldwide] every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations … Unfortunately, it is children who die most often.” (


Even in these lean times, the big hearted always err on the side of empathy. If you are looking for somewhere to give – or receive – look below or look further.


1.  Dishola

Post a review of your favorite restaurant fare on this outside-the-box website and Whole Foods will make a donation to Meals on Wheels. Dishola calls it Dish-for-dish, meaning your dish on your favorite dish will serve up a full plate to someone who could really use it. A great meal deal!


2.  FEED

FEED sells sturdy cloth reusable grocery bags to help fund the UN World Food Program’s efforts to provide food to children in dire need. Currently, proceeds from the sale of the each 100lb feed bag, for example, will go directly to feeding 100 children in Rwanda school lunch. You read that right: one bag, 100 children!


3.  Feeding America

Formerly America’s Second Harvest, Feeding America is a very effective network of organizations and individuals across the nation who work together to make sure that funds and food land in the places where there are needed most. The website allows you to search food banks and volunteer opportunities in your own community.


4.  Feed The Children

Feed the Children is all about feeding children – simple name, simple mission. But, what makes them extraordinary is their swift and reassuring presence during national and international disasters. While the emphasis is clearly on food, Feed the Children also serves plenty of hope.


5.  Free Rice

Where wordsmiths and do-gooders meet, is an interactive site that allows you to grow your vocabulary while earning rice for folks in need. As odd as it sounds, the site is totally legit – it’s sponsored by the Beckman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.


6.  Heifer International

Give a heifer, a goat, or a water buffalo. Or bundle them together and give a “milk menagerie.” You can also choose a llama, a trio of rabbits, or a flock of geese. When it comes to meeting needs, a little goes a long, long way, which is why with Heifer you can even give some honeybees. The web site is informative and inspiring for kids.


7.  Mercy Corps

This upbeat site has an easily searchable database of targeted populations, needs, and issues, many of which are bundled into inexpensive thematic “kits” that make giving simple. Fun photos and a shared sense of humanity make Mercy Corps a great web site for family viewing.

© 2008 7of