Day 12: Red, Red Wine

Still a day behind in my blogging, but I’m keeping up to date with my cooking and jogging (hey, that rhymes). Last night, a few friends and I had one of our favorite traditions — Top Chef Potluck. Every week or two weeks, we gather to watch Top Chef together, and each bring a dish for a potluck. We started with country themed potlucks (Cuba, Italy, etc) and progressed to fancier themes (colors of the rainbow — I had blue — and miniature foods). In honor of New Year’s resolutions, last night’s theme was foods under 150 calories per serving!

Daily Achievement
I went to several fitness magazine websites (Women’s Health, Self, etc) to look at their “healthy party foods” recipes. I ended up finding this recipe for Sweet Potato-Coconut Fritters, which looked delicious! I’ve recently discovered how tasty sweet potatoes can be, and coconut never goes wrong.

I cooked up the fritters last night after work. I thought they’d be quick, but it ended up taking longer, due to a few disasters. First, I was pulling out the ingredients for the recipe and realized I needed an egg yolk. Unfortunately, I had eaten my last 2 eggs that morning. I stood at the fridge for a while, debating whether I had time to dash out and get eggs, and googling “egg replacements” on my phone. I then realized that I was also out of minced garlic. At that point, I started looking around my kitchen to see if I could make anything else that would be tasty and healthy, but I didn’t think my friends would appreciate a bowl of pretzels accompanied by string cheese. Finally, I figured “Screw it” and decided to use vegetable oil in place of the egg yolk and garlic powder in place of the minced garlic.

I dumped everything into a food processor, plugged it in…. and the food processor didn’t work (it was a hand-me-down that I hadn’t tried out yet). Cursing to myself, I scraped everything out of the food processor and into my beloved Magic Bullet, slopping chunks of sweet potato all over the place. The Bullet did the job, and I assembled the fritters and stuck them in the oven.

The recipe said they’d be done when the coconut turned brown, but my fritters still seemed really wet and doughy, instead of nice and crunchy. But I didn’t want the coconut to burn, so I just took them out anyway. I offered Jim a fritter, and he took a bite, pulled a face and said, “Is this supposed to taste like this?” Not exactly a resounding endorsement… I may have overdone it with the garlic powder. I think my friends enjoyed the fritters anyway, but they definitely weren’t one of my better potluck contributions! At least the red wine I brought tasted good. 😀

Song of the Day
UB40 – Red Red Wine. Man, I love this song. I think everyone can relate to the lyrics at some point, right? “Red red wine you make me feel so sad, Any time I see you go it makes me feel bad…” Plus, watching the video cracks me up to see all those ’80s yuppies grooving to the reggae.


Day 9: It’s a Secret No One Knows

This is a delayed blog for Day 9, since Jim’s computer went kablooey (imminent hard drive failure). Until he has a chance to fix it, I’ll have to blog from my work laptop, which isn’t exactly ideal. But the dish I made last night is too good not to be talked about!!

I knew that I wanted to make some kind of baked goods for my kickball game on Thursday, since I owe a friend for donating to my cause. I had to buy a bag of coconut flakes for another dish I’m making later this week, so I started thinking about what else I could use the coconut for. Immediately, my favorite Girl Scout cookie popped into my mind… Samoas (also known as Caramel De-Lites). These are my favorite cookies ever — I buy multiple boxes from the girls in green, but they never last long. So I started googling around to see if I could replicate them at home, and found a recipe for Samoa Bars!

Daily Achievement

These cookie bars were fairly time-consuming, because there were a lot of steps. First, I made the base, which was a shortbread recipe. The raw dough for this was so delicious, I think I consumed a pound of it during the cooking process!

While the base baked for 20 minutes, I worked on toasting the coconut. Toasting the coconut was a lot easier than I thought it’d be; I just dumped it in a dry skillet and stirred it around on medium heat until the coconut turned somewhat golden-brown.

While that cooled, I made a semi-homemade caramel sauce by melting caramels (wrapping each caramel was pretty much the most annoying part of the whole process) with milk and a bit of salt. I dumped the coconut into the caramel sauce and smeared it all over the cookie base.

Finally, I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, put the chocolate into a ziploc bag w/ the corner cut out, and piped chocolate all over the top. The final step is to dip the bottoms of the bar in more melted chocolate, but I’ll probably wait until later to do that, since these bars won’t be consumed until Thursday.

I only tried a small piece of the bars, but they tasted pretty good! I think the shortbread base is a little too thick compared to the caramel topping, but maybe dipping them in chocolate will alleviate that problem. They’re definitely not exactly like the real Samoa cookies, but they’re a great substitute until the real thing starts arriving!

Song of the Day
Hanson – MMMBop. I’m concluding ’90s weekend with one of the biggest singles of 1997. Back in the day, I was a huge, insane Hanson fan. I was convinced I was going to marry Taylor (thank God I didn’t, because I’d have like 6 kids by now). I had all the CDs, DVDs, went to the concerts, etc. MMMbop was actually never my favorite song of theirs, but it’s definitely iconic, and watching the video instantly takes me back to being 15-16 yrs old. Hanson is still around, and they’ve matured into talented musicians and songwriters, so I’m sure some of their more current stuff will be featured in this space sooner or later. But for now, enjoy the mmmbop!