Archive for the 'Food' Category

Taste This! (The Delicious Sequel)

Taste This! The Delicious Sequel

Taste This! The Delicious Sequel

Back in 2009, I was honored to review the cookbook Taste This! by author, blogger and friend Gina von Esmarch. (Gina hails from a foodie family best known for the famous Alioto’s at #8 Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.) While my favorite way to experience Gina’s food is sitting in her dining room and eating until I am stuffed… trying a recipe from her newest cookbook Taste This! The Delicious Sequel is not too shabby either.

This weekend, a group of bloggers rallied to enjoy a “Cyber Dinner” where we each prepared a course and then shared our experience on our blogs. When I first wrote about Taste This!, I chose to write about an appetizer since I believe the first course sets the tone and mood for the entire meal. For the Cyber Dinner, I decided to serve-up the dessert, which (if done correctly) seals the deal for the meal. I flipped through the cookbook and quickly decided on “The Memphis King’s Cupcakes” (banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting!)

These tasty cupcakes, found on page 100 of the cookbook, were a perfect ending to our family-friendly BBQ. The cupcakes are not overly sweet, and have a beautifully subtle banana flavor. The literal icing on the cake is the amazing peanut butter and cream cheese frosting, which would make The King himself happy.

If you’d like to experience the rest of the Cyber Dinner, check out these delicious blogs:

About the book: This version of the cookbook is as exciting at the original. Notable differences are food with global flair, including recipes from Peru, New Zealand and Germany, and the addition of delicious brunch recipes.

Cookbook giveaway: If you would like to bring Taste This! The Delicious Sequel into your kitchen, please comment below by Friday, May 11. Just share your favorite BBQ dessert selection! One winner will be selected at random. Winner must live in the United States.

Author Gina says: “The goal of Taste This! is simple, bring good food and good flavors back to the table.  Whether you are a working parent or a career individual that wants to bring people together at the table, you will find ideas to inspire your inner cook.”

Buy the book: Click HERE to purchase Taste This! and Taste This! The Delicious Sequel, each priced at $30 (includes S&H).

Photo Credit: Gina von Esmarch

Notes: I was given a copy of Gina’s cookbook as a gift. The giveaway copy was received at no charge. The words and opinions on this blog are mine, and I did not receive compensation for writing them.

Back to the Start

Back to the Start” is simply one of the best commercials I’ve ever seen. I am the grandchild, niece, cousin and friend of farmers in Nebraska and Iowa. I will always support family farmers, and I applaud Chipotle for this beautiful story given to us in the form of a commercial.

- LTV Mom

WINOS Pick of the Week: Franciscan Cabernet

Franciscan Cab = great Laptop TV

Franciscan Cab = great Laptop TV

It’s ironic that I would have to leave leave California and move to Austin, Texas to discover this legendary Napa Valley Cab. After living in Silicon Valley for 15 years — and making numerous trips to wine country — I am happy this newly minted Texan can recommend Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon.

I actually discovered this wine at my local grocery store, which employs a sommelier who has never lead me astray. When he suggested this wine, he was shocked that this proud (albeit former) Californian had never sipped it before. Embarrassed, I quickly grabbed a few bottles, headed home, and uncorked the goodness.

I didn’t allow time for the wine to breathe (go figure!), and liked it immediately. I particularly enjoyed soft berry flavors, with a hint of plum and chocolate, and the velvety smooth texture.  While this wine is good with meals, I actually prefer a glass of Franciscan Cab with a hunk of Gruyere or Manchego cheese as I partake in some laptop television. It’s a no-fuss wine that tastes more expensive than it costs.

Wine details = Franciscan Estate, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007

Winemaker’s notes = The fruit-laden 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon offers a luscious bouquet of dark fruit including blackcurrant, black cherry, and blackberry layered over aromas of sweet vanilla and baking spices. Approachable cherry and cocoa notes lead to a wine of intense concentration, with flavors of dried plums and cola laced with hints of tobacco. Generous weight and mouth-filling velvet tannins frame a finish that lingers with flavors of dark cherry and cassis.

For more information, visit the winery web site HERE; purchase the wine HERE, and schedule a tasting HERE.

-LTV Mom

Photo Credit: Franciscan Winery


Bridesmaids on DVD 09/20/11

Bridesmaids on DVD 09/20/11

There are many things in life that make me happy, and topping the list are smart and funny women, good wine and dear friends. Lucky for me, this weekend, I get all three!

This Saturday I will be throwing a party to preview the uber-popular movie Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. (Smart and funny women = check!) I’ll also be pouring wine, and lots of it. (Good wine = check!) And of course, I will be surrounded by my dear friends. (And check!)

Now, I have to admit, I am probably the only woman in the United States who has not seen this movie yet. Seriously. I blame my working-mother-with-a-young-daughter lifestyle. It’s ironic because I’m a huge fan of Wiig and Rudolph. (In fact, I’ve been known to yell “welcome to Target” every now and then.) Needless to say, I cannot wait to see Bridesmaids with my girlfriends.

In honor of the movie theme, I’m asking my guests to bring a photo of the bridesmaids dresses from their own wedding, which will certainly inspire lots of laughs! I’m also serving the appetizers with cocktail napkins from my own wedding. (Yes, even 17 years later, I still have a box of wedding napkins!) And since Bridesmaids is all about girlfriends, I’m honoring my dear friend Gina von Esmarch by serving appetizers from her cookbook called Taste This!

Now, I ask YOU this: How many bridesmaids did you have in your wedding and what color dress did you force them to wear, er I mean, what color gowns were they wearing when they walked down the aisle?

I hope that you too are able to enjoy your own trifecta of smart and funny women, good wine and dear friends this weekend!

– LTV Mom

I was provided with a free copy of Bridesmaids on DVD and a party pack of goodies by the PR team representing Universal Studios. I was not compensated for this post, and the words and opinions are my own.

Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey and Jennifer Perillo

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey and Jennifer Perillo

I am part of several blogging networks, and it’s a great way to meet people from around the country. One of the uber-smart women I have been fortunate enough to meet and write with is Jennifer Perillo, who is an A-list food blogger and the food editor at Working Mother magazine.

Last Sunday, Jennifer Perillo lost her husband to a sudden heart-attack. No warning, so signs, no signals. And now, she and her two young daughters are left with broken hearts. My eyes filled with tears when I read the news, just the idea of losing my husband is too much to think about. I was saddened for Jennifer and those precious girls.

Jennifer celebrated her husband’s life today in a private ceremony, and she asked her community of friends to honor her husband my making his favorite dessert: Creamy Peanut Butter Pie.

Today, I proudly made Mikey’s favorite Creamy Peanut Butter pie in his honor. I purchased the ingredients, heck I even had to buy a 9-inch springform pan to make it work. Yeah, I even emailed my friends at Bowl Licker and Dirt and Noise to see if a regular pie pan would work! (I decided to go tried and true.)

Jennifer’s story touched me deeply. So much I actually found a babysitter so I could have a dinner date with my husband for the first time in months and months and months. And the Creamy Peanut Butter Pie was our dessert.

Jennifer thoughtfully asked everyone to share Mikey’s Creamy Peanut Butter Pie with someone you love and then “hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.” Jennifer, in honor of your family, that’s exactly what I did…

– LTV Mom

Photo credit: Food For My Family (because my pie looked *absolutely nothing* like your beautiful creation)

365 Days in Austin

My Southern Belle

My Southern Belle

One year ago today, the Libby family rolled into Austin. In the past 12 months, we have had highs and lows as we built our new life in Texas. It was hard to adjust to a new hometown with very few friends, a remote job and shallow roots in the community. As I look back at the evolution of our life, even since I wrote a post at the six-month mark, I can happily report my favorite parts of the past year:

Becoming a Tex-Mex and BBQ expert: The food in Austin is awesome, as evidenced by my impressive flabdomin and muffin top. I have found my favorite fried fish tacoahi and avocado tacofried egg sandwichSunday brunch, and Mexican martini. My mouth waters just typing this post…

Finding an amazing elementary school: One of the reasons for saying “yes” to a work transfer was the public school system in Austin. I am happy to report that our elementary school is excellent, and we are so happy with our daughter’s progress and thankful for her wonderful teachers.

Cheering for the Cyclones: I do have to admit, I love being back in Big 12 Country. We were lucky enough to witness an Iowa State football win at UT… and not-so-lucky to witness an Iowa State slaughter on the UT basketball court. Regardless, this loyal Iowa State grad loved watching my team with fellow alums.

Making some great friends: I’ve said it before, people in Austin are kind and nice and welcoming. We have made some very nice friends… and drank a lot of wine in the process.

Buying a house: We sold our house in California and bought a house in Austin. This helped with the “deepening the roots” process. We have nice neighbors, and even found babysitters and cat-sitters just a few doors down.

Enduring a Texas Summer: Dude. Summer in Austin is hot. H. O. T. We are talking 107 degrees for days on end. Thankfully, we have air conditioning and a neighborhood pool. I hope to forget about August in Austin when it’s March and we are enjoying the 75 degree-weather while we eat dinner outdoors.

Buying my first cowgirl hat: Now, this might be the highlight of my year. My husband organized a bash to celebrate my 40th birthday in February. Many friends (who happen to be some of my favorite people ever!) traveled to Austin to help me celebrate the Big Day. My friends decided I needed boots and a hat, so they took me to Cavendar’s to go shopping. I got a cowgirl hat. I love my hat… and just look at how cute my little girl looks in it!

While we miss our California friends terribly, I’d say life is good.

- LTV Mom

I am a Snackoholic.

Late-night snacking...

My arch-nemesis? Late-night snacking.

It’s 10:08 p.m. on a Tuesday. I am working, watching The Voice, drinking red wine and noshing on Pop Chips. Argh, I know I need to stop eating this late at night, so I wrap-up the snacks and remind myself this is an ongoing issue for this mama. In fact, here’s a post I wrote for Silicon Valley Moms Blog more than three years ago:

At the start of the New Year, like many moms, I make a pledge to get healthy both physically and mentally.  This means exercising, thinking positive thoughts, attending church, honoring my family, and (oh yes, the biggie) eating right.

It’s amazing. I have been so good at the first four goals.  I hit the treadmill 2 times a week (not as often as pre-baby, but more often than in 2007); I try to keep a positive attitude, I attend my wonderful and loving church; I spend time with my husband and daughter; and I eat healthy, home-cooked meals.

And here’s where it gets complex. From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. I eat like Dr. Sears himself:  cottage cheese, fruit and sliced almonds for breakfast, salad with grilled chicken for lunch, and lean meats and roasted veggies for dinner.  And lots and lots and lots of water.  Oh yes, and vitamins and supplements.  Then, around 9 p.m., I put the Kid to bed, toss a load of laundry in the washer, load up the dishwasher, and hit the couch with my laptop for work and television.  And then it starts.

The minute (no, the second) my butt hits the couch, the need to eat overwhelms my brain and I raid the pantry.  I crave chips and salsa, pretzels, popcorn, edamamerice crackers, “puffy peas,” or string cheese.  And, depending on the time of the month, I’ll toss in a little chocolate to go with that salt.  And let’s not forget the constant craving: red wine.

It is so frustrating that I am a dietary rock-star for 21 out of 24 hours a day.  But when I reach the magic hours of Laptop Television — from 9 p.m. to midnight where I sit on the couch trying to be a good employee and decent homemaker — I feel the need to eat junk food.  Why is that?  Am I bored?  Stressed?  Confused? Overwhelmed?

I think I reached my low point last week when I was butt-on-couch, eating an entire bag of Almond M&Ms, and watching The Biggest Loser on TV.  At that point, I decided that I am, in fact, the Biggest Loser.

I not-so-secretly want to talk to Biggest Loser hottie Trainer Bob for answers. In the meantime, can my fellow [Mom-bloggers] offer some cyber-therapy and talk me out of raiding the pantry, and loading up on unnecessary and empty calories, at 10 p.m. each night?

– LTV Mom

This post was written by LTV Mom and published on Silicon Valley Moms Blog in 2008. Sadly, three years later, I still partake in late-night snacking.

“Like Mother, Like Daughter”

I was fortunate to attend the Mom 2.0 Summit in April, where I spent time with the wonderful people from the “Milk Mustache” campaign. I’ve always liked the campaign, I think it’s a clever way to engage celebrities to promote a healthy lifestyle that includes vitamin-rich milk.
At the conference in April, I learned of a new initiative from the Why Milk Foundation where they examined role modeling and influencing the next generation of women. The campaign — beautifully called “Like Mother, Like Daughter” — is anchored by a commisioned-study that suggests that mothers have a unique opportunity, and a powerful responsibility, to influence the next generation of women. Research shows a mother’s lifestyle and eating habits have a profound effect on her daughter’s health, weight and self-image. Read the report HERE.
The campaign also powerfully reminds us that the first female role model most of us have in our lives is our mother.  I was inspired to reflect on the values, morality and kindness my mother has role-modeled for me. I also acknowledge that it’s now my turn to be that role model for my young daughter.
To promote the “Like Mother, Like Daughter” campaign, a collection of moms attending the Mom 2.0 Summit participated in a video called “Thank you, Mom” to offer thanks and gratitude to the moms who have been inspirational role models in our lives. I was honored to participate in this video. Link can be found HERE.
Find more information on the “Like Mother, Like Daughter” campaign by following @MilkMustache on Twitter or find them on Facebook.
– LTV Mom

Wordless Wednesday: Dessert at Mom 2.0

Chocolate, Toffee-covered almonds, cotton candy

Find more at Mom 2.0 Summit and Almond Accents.

My Personal Food Revolution: Phase Two

Food Revolution

Food Revolution

About a year ago, I sat down to watch the premiere of celebrity chef Jaime Oliver’s new television show called Food Revolution, where he attempted to dramatically change the eating habits of one American town. Episode after episode, I learned about American eating habits, and more importantly, how we feed our children. I was prepared to end the season with a “holier than thou” opinion about how nutritiously I feed my family compared to the rest of the world.

Well, I did discover how well I feed my family… and how poorly I feed myself. I finally recognized that I was preparing my daughter’s organic sandwiches and fresh fruit for lunch, while grabbing an over-processed breakfast bar for myself on the way out the door. My daughter drank organic, low-fat milk; I was guzzling diet sodas. Was it possible to be absolutely conscientious and a complete wreck at the same time? Well, yes it was.

I detailed my experience in a post for Silicon Valley Moms Blog, which can be found HERE. And with the new season of Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution underway, I am taking another look at the food in my home, with a focus on how I educate and talk to my six-year-old daughter about food.

Practice what I Preach

I am proud of how I have learned to better incorporate healthy food into our family. I follow Jaime’s advice and ensure are eating whole foods, and remembering foods like “real” potatoes are okay. I have embraced my crock pot for cooking lean meats that are juicy and flavorful. I even made my first Indian dish in a crock pot! (Might be sacrilegious to my Indian friends, but the meal was delicious!) I always serve a fresh vegetable or salad with the meat.

I’m also more aware of snacks and sweets with my daughter. When she says she is hungry and wants a cookie, I ask her if she is really hungry or if she is craving something sweet to eat. I am fine with sweet cravings (we all have them), but want her to know there are bananas for hunger and a small ice cream sandwich when she just wants to satisfy a sweet-tooth.

My next challenge: stopping late-night snacking when the kid is in bed and I am up working. Hand’s down, this is one of my worst habits. I am working on solving this problem as I type…

Finding Inspiration

I love, love, love Jaime Oliver. I think he is witty and smart and driven. I admire his willingness to engage with his supporters on all levels, including a brief conversation with me over Twitter. I also discovered a teen star who has taken on a similar cause, and at the same time, found an external inspiration for my child (one to accompany the ongoing lessons from her mom of course.)

I recently spoke to Reed Alexander, also known as the nasty Neville from Nickelodeon’s iCarly, who recently transformed his diet and exercise program in an effort to increase overall health and energy. After losing 15 pounds and discovering boundless energy, Reed decided to translate his experience for other kids and created his own health and fitness program. Reid explained his experience with big-brands like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, and found they were too “adult focused” for his liking, so he created KewlBites for kids. Information and resources can be found HERE.

Reed Alexander

Reed Alexander

I like what Reed is doing. He message is about empowering kids, getting them into the kitchen to cook and learn about food, and finding time to exercise. His message is similar to Jaime Oliver’s message, so my hope is that Reid can reach millions of teens like Jaime has reached millions of adults.

And for the record, I have to say that Reed was absolutely delightful! He is a polite, gracious and humble 16-year-old star. He even spared a few minutes to talk to my daughter – and uber-iCarly fan – over the phone.

Here’s to healthy cooking and good eating!

- LTV Mom

Photo Credits: Food Revolution, found on ABC 8/7c and