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Sneaky Chefs

Let’s be honest. As parents, we…bend the truth sometimes. It’s always with our children’s best interest at heart, and I’ve found that this has seeped into the kitchen at times.

I’ve struggled to get my picky little eaters to go for what’s good for them. So, I’ve found some sneaky ways to cook up things that are actually full of flavor AND healthy stuff!

1. Spinach Meatballs: When kids find their favorite sauce, they can tell right away if it looks (or tastes!) different. So, leave the sauce the same…but hide some spinach in the meatballs!

Spinach Meatballs

Spinach Meatballs

Mix together 1lb. of ground beef (or turkey), 1 10-oz. bag of thawed chopped spinach, 1 beaten egg, and 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and garlic powder and 1 teaspoon onion powder to the mixture and form into meatballs. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes on 350 degrees and combine with heated spaghetti sauce—your kids’ favorite—and serve! They’re getting a heavy dose of iron…and they don’t even know it.

2. Broccoli Dip: Just puree one 14-oz. bag of thawed frozen broccoli, 1 cup cottage cheese and a little bit of salt in a food processor. Serve with pita chips—it’s super easy and a super healthy snack that’s full of fiber and B1!

Broccoli Dip with Pita Chips

Broccoli Dip with Pita Chips


3. Sweet Potato Biscuits: Sweet potatoes are healthy, and biscuits are the perfect side dish. It’s a win-win!

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Microwave a medium-sized sweet potato on high for 4 minutes, scoop it out of the skin, and mash in a bowl. In another bowl, mix together 1-1/4 cup whole wheat baking mix (find it near the flour) and 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter. Note: don’t melt the butter—just cube it and rub it into the mix until large clumps form. Then add the sweet potato, ½ cup buttermilk and ¼ tsp. of allspice or cinnamon. Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes on 400 degrees. Let them cool a little bit and serve up some vitamin A and C!

Do you have any recipes that are under-the-radar healthy? Let us know at Facebook.com/FoodCityGrocery!

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5 New Uses for Your Microwave!

When we first moved to Tennessee many moons ago, we were renting a cute little house…that didn’t have a microwave. Now, you wouldn’t think that this would be a real-estate deal-breaker, but let me tell you. It took about 4 days to realize that this kitchen appliance came in way too handy in my day-to-day life!

Over the years, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks when it comes to nuking things. And I’m not just talking about popping some popcorn for movie night or quickly defrosting some frozen chicken, folks. Here are 5, I-never-knew-that!, things you can do with your microwave!

  1. No more tears! Have an onion to chop but you don’t want to ruin your mascara? No problem! Just slice off the ends of the onion and place it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then dice away, and you’ll see—it won’t make you cry!
  2. Aches and pains – Take a sock and fill it with dry/uncooked rice. Tie the end of the sock in a knot and heat in the microwave for about a minute and a half. There you have it—a homemade warm compress!
  3. Clean – I hate it when my dish cloth gets stinky and gross…so I just pop it (or a kitchen sponge) in the microwave for about 2 minutes every night after I’m done with the dishes—it kills 99% of the germs that are in that rag!
  4. Be your own barista – I’ve recently become obsessed with cappuccinos in the morning…although I haven’t splurged for a fancy, in-home machine quite yet. In the meantime, I just take a cup of milk with a lid, shake it up until it’s a little foamy, and zap it for about 30 seconds. It froths up even more, I pour it into my cup of coffee and voilà! Homemade cappuccino!
  5. No more wine-ing – I hate it when I’ve left a bottle of red wine sitting on the counter for too long and it gets too bitter to drink. Let’s be honest—that doesn’t happen very often, but when it does…just pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Some researchers say that heating red wine this way gives it a fuller flavor…and I can drink to that!

What are some microwave hacks you use? Tell us on at Facebook.com/FoodCityGrocery.

Favorite Wines at Food City

Wine for Mommies

Now look. I’m not claiming to be a wine sommelier, even though sometimes it seems like I drink wine for a living. 😉  But over the years, and with trips to vineyards across the world, I’ve picked a few things that have helped me when it comes time to pick up a bottle or two in the grocery store.

(How cool is it that we here in Tennessee can now say that?!)

There are so many choices out there, and even more explanations of what each type of wine entails. So, in true Forks & Flowers fashion…I’m summing up my favorite  types for you in a nice, super easy list.

Sparkling – Now, I say “sparkling” here instead of “Champagne” because a sparkling wine is ONLY Champagne when it comes from the region outside of Paris called—you guessed—Champagne. Any other bubbling wine is just called “sparkling.” There are different tastes: sweet, dry, and rosé…but here’s my tip. Prosecco is another kind of sparkling wine that comes from Italy—just north of Venice—and due to a cheaper production process, it runs about half the cost of Champagne for a good bottle. So if you’re looking to pop some bottles for a celebration (an anniversary, a bridal shower, you made it through a Tuesday), try and bottle of Prosecco instead!

Favorite Prosecco Wines

Favorite Prosecco Wines

Red Zinfandel – Please, please, PLEASE do not confuse this with the box of Franzia you bought on your 21st birthday. While white zinfandel is a low calorie, low-alcohol-content wine…we have grown up and moved on, ladies. Red zinfandel is much bolder. Look for a bottle produced in the higher elevations of Napa Valley—there are some great ones made in the good ol’ U.S of A.

Red Zinfandel

Favorite Red Zinfandel Wines

Chardonnay – This is the most popular type of white wine in the world. Although it started being produced in France, a California winery by the name of Chateau Montelena took the world by surprise by beating France in a taste test of its wine 40 years ago—true story! The only thing you need to look out for is the “oakiness.” Really inexpensive bottles of wine (that are usually mass produced) use the oak flavor to mask the poor qualities of the grapes. So, either lean toward an unoaked bottle, or lean towards the get-what-you-pay-for philosophy. 😉

Favorite Chardonnay Wines

Favorite Chardonnay Wines

What other grapes of wisdom can you bestow upon us when it comes to wines? Let us know which ones are your faves!

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A Few of My Favorite (Kitchen) Things

I’ve had people ask me what my favorite recipe is, and that’s like asking me which of my children is my favorite—I could pick one, but then feelings would get hurt. 😉 What I can claim favoritism with are a few things that I simply MUST keep in my kitchen:

KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer – Now this is one of those ‘splurge’ items. I received my ‘grown-up’ mixer as a Christmas gift my first year out of college. (I think my mom was hurling me out of the nest and into the real world…) A few—OK, fine…MANY—years later, I still use that for just about every recipe that requires mixing, dicing, beating, folding…you name it, this mixer can do it. Trust me—it’s totally worth the investment.

Candy wafers – This should be no surprise. You’ve seen firsthand how I’ve used it to fancy up popcorn, spruce up pretzel sticks for parties…and there are so many other uses! I’ve even taken some, melted it in a bowl and placed a graham cracker face down in it—let it cool and you’ve got the perfect s’more-ready graham cracker!

Cream cheese – This one sounds a bit strange. But so many times, just ‘whipping something up’ comes to fruition when you have the key ingredients on hand. I have so many recipes that call for cream cheese, that it just helps to keep some stocked in the fridge. Same goes for butter. And eggs. And sugar. 😉 My point is this: once you build up your recipe box with go-to recipes, you should try and keep key ingredients close by!

Betty Crocker Supreme Cookie Brownie mix – Now I’m totally letting you see behind the curtain with this one. I can’t tell you how many times we have thrown together a last-minute dinner gathering, and I show up with freshly baked, STILL WARM cookie brownies. They’re delicious. Everyone loves them. And guess what. It took me about 45 minute to make them. Because I had a box of this in the pantry and eggs and butter in the fridge. See above. 😉


Silicone spoonula – I’m not joking. Out of all of the gizmos and gadgets out there, THIS hybrid spatula-spoon is what made me squeal on Christmas morning when I opened a new aqua-colored one from my sister. (True story.) Never underestimate the power of a good tool—this bad boy comes in handy with stirring, mixing, spreading…all of the above. It’s definitely good to have.

Growing up, I thought my mom was nuts for keeping so many different little things in the pantry and on the spice rack. Now…I can see it was her ingenious was of always being prepared for whatever culinary challenge thrust itself into her kitchen. (Ooo! Speaking of nuts…I always keep a bag of chopped pecans in the freezer, too!)

What are your must-haves? Let us know!