Monday, June 29, 2009

Lightning Rods

I'm always looking for low fat snacks that are also low in sugar. I was asked to sample some new beef sticks, a meat snack from the folks at They're called Lightning Rods. I thought that sounded interesting so I gave it a try.
Since the package does not show the fat or sugar content, I can't vouch for that, but I can say that these beef sticks pack a powerful beef flavor with a hint of something else. Hmmm, what is it?

It turns out that they are made with Guarana, a Brazilian berry that offers a caffeine punch, and Ginseng for high energy. I already knew of the benefits of ginseng. It has often been used by athletes for enhanced performance. I drink ginseng tea on occasion as an antiinflammatory, but while researching for this article I discovered that it can also lower blood glucose for type II diabetes patients, which is a concern of my husband's.
I had not heard of the Guarana berry before, so more research was needed. I discovered that it takes its name form the Guarani tribe of Brazil, who believe this berry can cure bowel disease. It also stimulates energy as it contains a natural chemical similar to caffeine.

All I can say is our sample pack didn't last long. Lightning Rods was definitely a hit at this household. Thanks I appreciate the opportunity to try your new product!

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Friday, June 26, 2009

Eggplant Penne with Mint Pesto

I have a wonderful way for you to use your mint and also surprise your taste buds. Instead of the traditional basil pesto, this recipe uses mint pesto. What a great summer treat for the senses.
Although not as low in fat and cholesterol as some recipes, this is still considered a light dish.

2 large eggplants
pinch of sea salt
5 cups of penne pasta
1/2 c. walnut halves

1 cup fresh mint
1/2 c flat leaf parsley
1/2 c walnuts
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 garlic cloves
3 T. olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 1/2 in. slices.

Cut the slices again crosswise to make short strips.

Layer the strips in a colander with salt and leave to stand for 30 minutes over a plate to catch any juices. Rinse well in cool water and drain.

For the pesto, place all ingredients, except oil, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, then gradually add the oil in a thin stream until the mixture is well blended. Season to taste.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add pasta; after 8 minutes add the eggplant and cook for 3 minutes more or until pasta is done to al dente.

Drain well and mix in half of the mint pesto and walnut halves. Serve with remaining pesto and walnut halves on top.

YIELD: 4 servings
Sat. Fat........6.29g
Cholesterol.....10 mg

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Grilled Red Potato Bundles

It's grillin' time. This is a great way to do your potatoes. You can make small packages so each person has their own bundle.

20 small red potatoes in skins (cut larger potatoes in half)
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic
3 T olive oil
1-2 sprigs each of thyme, tarragon, and oregano (you can also use dried mixed herbs)
salt and pepper

Heat grill

Spray olive oil cooking spray on 4 small pieces of aluminum foil, or rub with oiled paper towel.

Wash red potatoes and pat dry. Place in a bowl and add olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place 5 potatoes, thinly sliced onion, and 1 clove of garlic on each foil sheet.

Bring edges of foil together and seal to make a bundle.

Grill for 35-40 minutes on medium heat. Turn packets once during cooking.

YIELD: 4 servings
Sat. Fat..............1.54g

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zucchini and Potato Tortilla

I was so excited to find this recipe. It's a tortilla without the tortilla, therefore no white flour is used. We've been watching starches in an effort to control my husband's diabetes. Of course there are potatoes but that's the only villain in this dish!
The picture above does not have zucchini or tarragon, but rather is a Spanish-style potato tortilla.

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
2 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 medium zucchinis, thinly sliced
2 T. chopped fresh tarragon
4 eggs, beaten
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until it is beginning to soften. Add the potatoes, garlic, and zucchini to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes more, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the bottom if you don't have a non-stick pan, until zucchini are softened and the potatoes are lightly browned.

3. Stir the tarragon into the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the vegetables in the pan and cook over medium heat until the underside of the tortilla (being formed by the egg mixture) is set. Meanwhile preheat the broiler.

4. Place the pan under the broiler and cook for a few minutes more until the top of the tortilla is set and starting to brown. Cut into wedges and serve from the pan.

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iced Oranges

Iced oranges have long been a favorite on the beaches of France. I can't imagine anything more refreshing than cold orange in the heat of the summer. Although not sugar free, this recipe is fat free!
Beware: this does take time for the freezing process so plan ahead.

2/3 c. granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
14 medium oranges
8 fresh bay leaves, for decoration

Put the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan. Add half the lemon juice, then add 1/2 c. water. Cook over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes until the syrup is clear.

Slice the tops off 8 of the oranges to make "hats." Scoop out the flesh of the oranges and set aside. Freeze the empty orange shells and "hats" until needed.

Grate the rind of the remaining oranges and add to the syrup. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and from the reserved flesh. There should be 3 cups. Squeeze another orange or add purchased orange juice, if necessary.

Stir the orange juice and remaining lemon juice, with 6 T water into syrup. Taste, adding more lemon juice or sugar, if desired. Pour the mixture into a shallow freezer container and freeze for 3 hours.

Turn the orange sorbet mixture into a bowl and whisk thoroughly to break up the ice crystals. Freeze for 4 hours more, until firm, but not solid.

Pack the mixture into the hollowed-out orange shells, mounding it up, and set the "hats" on top. Freeze the sorbet shells until ready to serve.

If desired, just before serving, push a skewer into the tops of the "hats" to make a hole and push in a bay leaf, to decorate.

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cabbage Slaw With Date and Apple

I love cole slaw and never tire of my mother's recipe, which I have used for 40 years, but I also like to try new ways of making it, especially in the summer.
This recipe is easy and as usual very low in fats. Cabbage also contains a lot of vitamin C. It's just perfect for hot days when you don't know what to serve. I like the way the red cabbage adds color, also.

Cabbage Slaw:
1/4 small white cabbage, shredded
1/4 small red cabbage, shredded
1/4 small Savoy cabbage, shredded
1 c. dried pitted dates
3 eating apples
juice of 1 lemon
2 t. caraway seeds

4 T. olive oil
1 T. cider vinegar
1 t. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Finely shred all the cabbages and place them in a large salad bowl.

Chop the dates and add them to the cabbage.

Core the eating apples and slice them thinly into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and toss together to prevent discoloration before adding to the salad bowl.

Make the dressing: Combine the oil, vinegar, and honey in a screw top jar. Add salt and pepper, then close the jar tightly and shake well. Pout the dressing over the salad, toss lightly, then sprinkle with the caraway seeds and toss again.

YIELD: 6-8 servings

Total Fat 8g
Sat. Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 0

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Measuring Spoons Winner

Did you ever wonder if you could win more than once at a blog site? Here's proof! dawns41 regularly enters my giveaways and she won The Herb Companion magazine subscription in March. Today her number came up again at, which is the way I select my winners, but also most important is that she followed all instructions to the letter, which cinched her as the winner of the Tin Woodsman Pewter Measuring Spoons. Congratulations dawns41!

Here's what she wrote:

I would love to have the Vineyard Canister Set in Pistachio. I am definately going to nudge my husband in this direction for a christmas or bday present.
I like the Butter Pecan color too.


If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tin Woodsman Pewter Measuring Spoon Giveaway

Oh my, oh my, oh my! This was all I could say when I first opened my box from
Tin Woodsman Pewter . My new measuring spoons were so beautiful they took my breath away! After all, the motto and favorite quote of this company is "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Jim and Deborah founded Tin Woodsman Pewter in 1985 in Oregon, and began making wonderful American-made, usable, pewter products. And then in 2008 they formed Crosby & Taylor, their sister store specializing in stoneware and baby products.
Pewter is a white metal alloy consisting principally of tin with small amounts of antimony and copper. It was first used over 2000 years ago by the Romans and at that time it was 30% lead. Of course, now government regulations have banned lead from all cooking utensil, so yes, Tin Woodsman pewter is lead-free; therefore it does not tarnish easily but over time will change to a lovely darker patina.

The measuring spoons are accurate (I checked each one with my current set) and are made to be used and washed. You may put them in a dishwasher but beware that if your dishwasher uses a rinsing agent or you have hard water, the spoons made change appearance. I think I prefer to wash mine by hand; it's a small price to pay to keep them beautiful.
They come on a hanging post of the same design as the spoons, so there's no need to hide them away in a drawer or to find a place to tack a spoon rack to the wall. Keep them in a handy spot so you will be able to reach them easily.

Last month Tin Woodsman and Crosby & Taylor opened an online store to the public. For the first time you can browse their inventory and buy something for yourself or a gift for someone special in your life. I also discovered that they will make custom products. And guess what? Paula Deen uses their measuring cups!!
I am very thrilled to tell you that Tin Woodsman is offering the same set that I have as a giveaway. It's their newest design called Fleur de Lys (trust me, it's gorgeous)
Here's all you have to do to enter:

1. Just visit Tin Woodsman/ Crosby & Taylor and come back here to leave a comment about something you would love to own.

2. For a second or third chance to win, sign up as an e-mail subscriber with Feedburner or become a Google Follower (see sidebar.) Then leave a comment for each action telling me you have subscribed or are already a subscriber.

3. If you're not a blogger, be sure to leave your contact e-mail address like this to avoid spammers: pianananna(at)gmail(dot)com. If I can't reach you, your name will be disqualified, and I will draw again.

The winner will be chosen by
Open to US residents only, 18+.
Email addresses will not be shared with any third parties.
This contest ends on Friday June 19th at midnight EST. Good Luck!
If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Naturally Thin

Okay, I admit it, I watch The Real Housewives of New York City. I never miss an episode. Bethenny Frankel, a columnist for Health magazine, a natural foods chef and business woman, and among many other things a runner-up on Martha Stewart's Apprentice, is my favorite "housewife." I like her no nonsense approach to life, so when I had the opportunity to review her
New York Times Best Seller "Naturally Thin," I jumped at the chance.

Here's the thing - I used to be "naturally thin" -- I never went over 97 pounds. I could eat anything I wanted and I never gained a pound, even after having children. I came home from the hospital in the clothes I wore before getting pregnant. Don't hate me. It only lasted until I was 40, and then the pounds started to slowly creep on. That's why this book intrigued me. But if your life story is just the opposite of mine, you'll be interested in it, too.

Bethenny's book is subtitled, Unleash Your Skinnygirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting. Unlike some of you, I don't have a dieting mindset. Matter of fact, I don't think I ever really learned how to diet, which I had thought was probably my problem. I read this book coming from a different background than some of you might if you've had trouble with your weight all of your life. It doesn't matter because it all boils down to one thing -- it's how you eat, not what you eat.

Part One teaches you about getting and staying naturally thin. Part Two offers guidelines to implement 10 rules for your life to give you more structure.

All of this comes along with some great recipes that made my mouth water just to read them. What? from a diet book? That's the point -- it isn't a diet book at all but a way to look at and enjoy food without weighing, measuring, and feeling guilty. Just enjoy your meal; don't fear your food! What a concept!

The 10 rules are explained by Bethenny in detail and she also includes what she calls "Bethenny Bytes" in shaded boxes. It's her daily log of how she eats, even including her unhealthy choices at times and how she has learned to trade them off later in the day.

Naturally Thin introduces a very sensible way to keep an eye on your weight without going to extremes, which usually leads to falling off the wagon anyway. I really like this approach to food and weight watching. It certainly works for Bethenny; it's should be just right for me and you too!

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Choice Organic Tea Winner

A winner was chosen this morning for the three boxes of Choice Organic Tea.
Congratulations, Pam. You followed the rules and your name was selected by
Here's what she wrote:
I learned that they use wind power!!! WOW!! I'm impressed by that. Thanks.

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Living Well Health Master Blender

I did a guest review post for dkMommy Spot for Montel Williams' Living Well Health Master Blender. She's giving one away! It's a $199.99 value!
Stop by and enter at dkMommy Spot.

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cheesy Egg Casserole

I have several egg casserole dishes, but I like this one the best because the herbs give it a very homey but still French Country flavor. You can make it the night before and pop it in the oven when you get up in the morning. It's great when you have overnight guests.

4 (1-in.) slices of French bread, cubed
Vegetable cooking spray
3/4 lb. lean ground pork
1/4 t. dried whole sage
1/4 t. dried whole thyme
1/8 t. dried whole marjoram
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs. beaten
1 1/2 c. skim milk
3/4 c. (3 oz.) shredded 40% less-fat Cheddar Cheese
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/8 t. ground red pepper
Fresh sage leaves (opt.)
Fresh thyme sprigs (opt.)

Place bread cubes in a 2 qt. baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray, and set aside.
Combine pork, sage, thyme, marjoram, and black pepper in a large nonstick skillet.
Cook over medium heat until pork is browned, stirring to crumble.
Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle meat mixture over bread cubes.
Combine eggs and remaining ingredients; stir well.
Pour egg mixture over meat mixture.
Cover and chill 8 hours.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes or until set.
If desired, garnish with fresh sage leaves and thyme sprigs.

YIELD: 6 servings

If you like this blog, please look for my other blogs:
Thyme for Herbs
Happenstance House
Tickling the Ivories