Snow Day Snow Men

full size snowmen

I’ll admit I’m sentimental (not about snow storms, they drive me nuts!) but about the first kid’s column I ever wrote for The Connecticut Post.

snowman mix it up with kids


Years ago, I was very excited the Saturday it was coming out. It was a monthly column, a whole full page on recipes and crafts for children. Naturally, the calendar begins in January and I thought ice cream snow men made the perfect project: Something to do when you’re cooped-up with your kids on a snow day. Only problem was… it was springlike weather all month!

snowman teaser

I almost ran out of  month waiting for a really good blizzard to re-publish my old January column on this blog and here the storm is turning to rain. Truth is, I couldn’t be happier!

So stock up on ice cream and coconut the next time the media is predicting snowmaggedon and  here’s the transcript from the article below:

You’re up an hour early listening for school cancellations. You call the snowplow guy and his message box is full. The car is somewhere out there underneath a snowdrift. You’d like to pull a warm, cozy blanket over your head and hibernate but when the weather outside is frightful— so are the kids! Relax… the best cure for kiddy cabin fever is to occupy them with a new and memorable activity. Once you’ve heard that winter storm warning (it’s coming, it’s coming), when you’re out raiding the supermarket for bread and milk, just pick up a few extra ingredients for sweet and savory snow men. Even if the blizzard is a bust, you’ll be prepared for the next snow day.

Frosty Ice Cream Snow Men

(Note: This recipe will make about six, more or less depending on the air content of the ice cream)

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

Shredded coconut (at least 2 cups in a shallow pan or plate) Miniature chocolate chips

Fruit roll candy (in strips)

6 chocolate covered mint patties

6 chocolate bon bon type candies

Toothpicks. Full size and mini-size ice cream scoop (very useful to have-available at cookware shops)

For each snowman: Roll two large scoops of ice cream and one small scoop in coconut. (Place scoops on a foil lined tray in freezer, while making the others) Stack one large scoop on top of the other and stack the head on top of that. Use chocolate chips to make eyes, nose, mouth and buttons. Cut strips of fruit roll candy and wrap around the neck of snowman for a scarf. Make a bowler hat out of the chocolates by spearing a toothpick through the mint patty and the bon bon so that the bon bon becomes the crown and the mint patty is the brim, secure in place on head. Keep frozen until ready to eat

snowmen copy 2

snoman column

A Few of my Favorite Things: Part 2

Parmesan crisps

It’s that time of year when everyone in the house has been “cutting back” after the holidays and trying to stick to new, healthier regimes. My New Year’s resolution was walking a mile and a half every day. Why a mile and a half? Because last year my resolution was to walk a mile every day and, I’m proud to say that I actually did it! It wasn’t easy because I live in the North East and walking outside in the winter can be treacherous most of the time (take it from one who’s a “frequent faller” on ice).  Mall walking is great but I live too far from a mall to waste time and gas to drive there. My solution is walking in circles around the periphery isles of Home Depot or BJ’s Wholesale club which are a short distance from the house. Sometimes I’ll even use Whole Foods for my exercise track but it takes more laps around the place. I use the pedometer iPhone app to know how I’m doing but, in general, it takes six orbits around my track to to reach this goal.

It’s not only a good work out for the body but for willpower as well. To any shopper,  there’s the desire to stop and check some new product that catches your eye but that has to wait until I’m done with my mile and a half. One of my favorite discoveries this year has been ready made Parmesan crisps. These have always elevated any Caesar salad to a whole new level and if you skip the croutons it makes a perfect meal for anyone who’s doing Paleo or low carb (as so many are in the bleak month of January). Parmesan crisps are very basic and simple  to make. You just bake grated piles of Parmesan cheese on baking sheets until they form crispy, lacy wafers— but when I’ve been walking for miles, I get lazy and would much rather pick up a box.

To my delight, I have stumbled upon two excellent brands. I first came across these Kali Parmesan Crisps for $7.99 at whole foods.whole foods parm crisps

About a month later I noticed these Simply Indulgent Gourmet Parmasan Cheese Crisps at BJ’s Wholesale club for $4.99.BJ's Crisps


Both products are excellent and the only real difference is that the Simply Indulgent Gourmet Parmesan Crisps contain a trace of potato starch and their label list having 1 carbohydrate per serving as opposed to Kali’s 0 carbohydrate per serving but it a savings of three bucks so it’s a matter of which matters most to you.

So how do I use these things? On salads and soups of course. They are even a good dip dipper if you are off of eating chips. My go to favorite will always be a Caesar salad. I like to do my chopped style– where you toss the romaine with dressing, pack it into a bowl, invert it on your plate and garnish with a Parmesan crisp– a totally guiltless pleasure.Caesar with crisps






Peas for Prosperity

Forgive me, I meant to ring in the New Year on my blog with some black eyed pea recipes. (You know how it is, the holidays hijack your life and it’s not until they’re over that you discover that present you wrapped and meant to send to your aunt.) As you might have guessed from the last post on making Cream Carton Cottages for Christmas, we usually have a lot of black eyed peas around the house this time of year. I guess I’ve always been comforted by them, having some southern roots in my background. Traditionally, this humble dish was served at New Year’s dinner to insure prosperity in the coming year. On that note: I thought it was interesting that all forms of black-eyed peas (dried and canned) had been wiped-out of inventory over at an affluent Westport Connecticut Stop & Shop on New Year’s Eve afternoon.  I was finally able to locate some at a much less upscale market.

So here’s what I do: I cook my black eyed peas in a big pot with smoked pork hocks, drain them and divide the beans in half. I use part of them with the meat from the hocks in a side dish (served on January 1st). The remaining beans find their way into black eyed pea chili. Both dishes hit the spot on these frigid winter nights.

Traditional Black Eyed Peas

2 pounds dried black eyed peas

4 cups vegetable stock

3-4 smoked pork hocks

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 bay leaves

1 Tbs olive oil and  1 Tbs butter

1 diced onion

1 diced green bell pepper

2/3 cup diced celery

1Tbs fresh thyme leaves

In a very large stock pot, cover peas with 3-4 inches of water. Soak overnight 8 hours or use rapid method: Bring peas to a boil for 1 minute. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 1 hour. With either method, rinse peas well and cover with vegetable stock, pork hocks, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves and enough water to cover again by about two inches. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until peas begin to fall apart. Drain peas and divide in half (reserve half for following chili recipe). Remove hocks from broth and peel away fat. Pull out any meat and dice. Set aside. In a large saucepan, melt butter and oil and sauté onion bell pepper, celery and thyme until tender. Stir in diced pork and peas.

6-8 servings

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Black Eyed Pea Chili

2 pounds ground beef or turkey

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2/3 cup chopped celery

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1-2 cloves crushed garlic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

4 Tbs chili powder (mild or hot)

15 oz can crushed tomatoes

15 oz can tomato sauce

2 Tbs ketchup

2 bay leaves

reserved black eyed peas (about 3 cups)

or 2 15 oz cans of black eyed peas.

Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Drain off excess fat, allowing enough to sauté vegetables. Add onion, celery, green bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and chili powder. Sauté until tender and moisture has evaporated. Transfer mixture into a large saucepan or stockpot and add tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, bay leaves and black eyed peas. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer cover for 10 minutes. Remove cover and continue simmering for another 30-40 minutes or until desired consistency.

4-6 servings