Adorkable Christmas Appetizers

Black Olive Penguin
To minimize my calorie intake from holiday appetizers, I make appies that are almost too cute to eat. Not that they aren’t delicious and nutritious (and low in calories), I simply want to keep them around a little longer. This year, I plan to reintroduce the penguins that were such a hit in 2011 – plus two more appies that are more about fun than food. All are are quick and easy enough for a slacker like me!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Pinterest…

Pinterest is a great place to find photos of creative recipes. Here are the Pinterest pages for my favorite holiday appetizers, Penguin Appetizers, Strawberry Santas, and Cheese Reindeer. So many pictures! Modern living – you must open the links.

Penguin Appetizers

My Penguin Appetizers, 2011

Originally from the blog FoodieWithFamily.com, these super cute cream cheese-filled black olive penguins are the hit of every party. AND, they have only four ingredients – olives, cream cheese, carrot, and green onions – and the toothpicks that hold them together.  I like my penguins to ice skate on a silver tray. See the recipe for Black Olive Penguins.

Strawberry Santas  

Strawberry Santas

Popular on Pinterest with only four ingredients again – large strawberries, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla – the chocolate sprinkle or seed eyes are optional. This recipe is oh so no work. Check out the Strawberry Santas from JustAPinch.com.

Cheese Reindeer

Reindeer Appetizers

This easy appetizer is – again – (I didn’t plan this) made with only four ingredients – a Laughing Cow cheese wedge, pretzels, olive, and red pepper, so its creator says. As for me, I think the nose is a maraschino cherry and there are more chocolate sprinkles for the eyes. Here’s the recipe for Cheese Reindeer from CuteFoodForKids.com.

Your thoughts: Do you have a cute Christmas recipe for a slacker to pass along?

Pie from The Automat

I am still working my way through the sugar pumpkins I bought – cheap – after Halloween. They are stored on the fire escape and I have to eat them before the hard freeze.

Yesterday, I made a Pumpkin Pie that is worthy of a recommendation. The recipe is authentic from Horn & Hardart’s Automat, a fixture in New York City, opened in 1912 to flourish in branches for the next 50 years. Drop a nickel in a slot, open the door, and pull out your dish. Sandwiches, hot dishes, and desserts – lunch for office workers and tourists.

The Pumpkin Pie recipe is a take-away from an exhibit at the New York Public Library, Lunch Hour NYC, through February 17, 2013 at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Drawing on materials from throughout the Library, the exhibit looks back at more than a century of New York City lunches, exploring the ways in which New York City—work-obsessed and time-obsessed—reinvented lunch. But honestly, Lunch Hour NYC, the online exhibition is really good too. Dig deep because there’s a lot there.

PUMPKIN PIE (from Horn & Hardart’s Automat)
2 cups of cooked pumpkin (mashed)
¾ tbsp. salt (I used less)
1 can (14 ½ fl. oz) evaporated milk
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Heat over to 425o
Beat all ingredients together with a rotary beater or wire whisk. Pour into a pastry-lined 9-inch pan.
Bake 40-45 minutes. Insert a silver knife into the filling about one inch from the side of the pan. If the knife comes out clean, the filling is done.

Watch “The Automat” scenes from THAT TOUCH OF MINK (1962) with Doris Day, Cary Grant, Gig Young, and Audrey Meadows.

Your thoughts: Have you been to The Automat? Tell us about it.

The Wish Tree. Keep Wishing.

Wish Tree at the Brooklyn Museum

“Yes, I’m your angel – I’ll give you everything – In my magic power – So make a wish and I’ll let it come true for you. Tra, la, la, la, la.” 
~Yoko Ono lyrics “Yes, I’m Your Angel” from the album “Double Fantasy” (1980)

Yoko Ono presented a “Wish Tree” to the Brooklyn Museum in appreciation of her 2012 Women in the Arts Award. “Wish Tree” is an ongoing project that has been installed across continents for decades, gathering wishes from more than one million people so far. After each presentation, when all of the wishes are collected, they are buried (unread) around the Imagine Peace Tower, an outdoor light installation in Reykjavik, Iceland created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. The Brooklyn Museum’s Wish Tree is new, and so it needs more wishes, but when a wish tree is full, it looks like this:

For over fifty years, Yoko Ono has made art that requires viewer participation for completion. Yoko provides the pencils, tags, and instructions. (“Make a wish, write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of the wish tree. Ask your friend to do the same. Keep wishing.”) You make the wish. Yoko encourages us to believe in the collective power of our hopes for the future. I encourage us to believe in the power of wishes for ourselves. Wish to make it easy to eat in a healthy way.

Your thoughts: Would you like me to hang a wish for you? Let me know. Keep wishing.

My Thoughts on Sarah Palin’s Diet Book

Mary Hartley as Sarah Palin

Yesterday, ABC News asked me for a quote about Sarah Palin’s new diet book. (The quote was not used.) I guess Palin’s book will be out soon, even though last October, People magazine couldn’t say if Palin had a contract or when the book would be published.

According to several news outlets, Palin said her book advocates “a balanced approach to weight loss” focusing on “self-discipline as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods.”  Of me, the ABC writer asked, “Is it OK to indulge once in a while?” and “Is this a good approach to weight loss?” To the first question, I answered, “Yes; only a control freak would not indulge once in awhile.” To the second question, I said, “Dunno.”

I do say this: Never take nutrition or medical advice from a celebrity.

Sarah Palin is no authority on diet and fitness, but she does have a loyal following and enough gawkers to sell a book. And then there’s the diet-crazed crowd. Get that book on the shelves by January 1st.

Sarah has lost some weight since she was a household name in 2008. She espouses a low-carb-, lean-protein-style diet, and so I presume that will be her focus. She drinks a “skinny white-chocolate mocha” for breakfast, and so I guess that is her indulgence. For decades, Sarah has been a distance runner, which accounts, in part, for her trim physique.

Without reviewing what Sarah actually eats, I cannot say whether her diet is wholesome and balanced. There are countless routes to a balanced diet. For instance, an Inuit does not eat like a Bantu, yet both native diets are correct.

I’m glad Sarah is happy with her own eating style, and as long as she meets her daily requirements for protein, carbohydrate, essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds with nutrient-like activity that are known and still unknown, it doesn’t really matter whether she focuses on low-carb or low-fat. That’s because total calories matter most when it comes to weight control.

The Palin family’s food choices don’t have to be yours. Every individual needs to find his own style in terms of personal preferences, resources and “life-style.” (Not my favorite term)  For me, moose stew doesn’t work, and I doubt if Sarah has tried my Portuguese Kale Soup.

Your thoughts: Would you read Sarah Palin’s diet book?