What To Watch: Pressure Cooker

Hey there foodies and reality show fans!

The next season of Food Network Star airs Sunday, June 2. A lot of my friends are into this show. I’m more of an HGTV Design Star fan, but I definitely see the appeal. You get to watch talented chefs create amazing recipes and even get inspired yourself to get into the kitchen and work your own culinary magic.

May I make a recommendation? Before you see Food Network Star this weekend, set aside some time to watch the documentary Pressure Cooker. This documentary follows 3 high school students as they navigate both the inner city of Philadelphia and the culinary curriculum at their school. Led by their tough teacher, Wilma Stephenson, these kids learn more than the basics- they also learn about discipline, working together as a team and skills that help them (well, anyone) survive beyond the kitchen.

This documentary has everything you would expect from a reality show. It is emotionally engaging- you can not watch this doc and not make a connection with these students. It has drama and it’s own “bad guy”- Ms. Stephenson is equally tough yet nurturing- she knows what it takes to get these students to shine.

But like most reality shows this documentary has the drama of an intense competition. Each student in the culinary program is working toward a city-wide culinary showdown. Stephenson has a winning record and she intends to continue that. But is this year’s class ready to rise to the challenge?

This doc holds a very special place in my heart. When I watched this at the Nashville Film Festival, the audience was as engaged as I was with this film. You will cheer. You may even cry a bit. But you will not forget these kids. Unlike most reality show competitions, these kids are not competing for a shot at fame or for their own shows. They love what they are doing. They want to win not only for their school, but also for themselves. These young minds are reaching for the stars. And as a viewer you will sincerely want them to soar to new heights.

Pressure Cooker is available for instant viewing on Netflix. It is suitable for families to watch. In fact, if I was going to have my own summer film festival for families, this documentary would be on the list.

Watch and enjoy!




Why HGTV Will Get Me In Trouble…

I have recently discovered that I love watching Flea Market Flip on HGTV! On the show, two teams find antiques and treasures they can refurbish and sell. The team that makes the most profit wins the challenge.

Watching this show inspires me to hit every yard sale in town to buy things I can fix up myself. And that is also a problem. One, I don’t need to commit myself to too many projects. Two, I realize I can be dangerous with a spray can of paint in my hands. I’m not exactly channeling my inner Banksy, but still.

What TV shows inspire you to try new things?



Grilled Cornflake Crusted Chocolate Peanut Butter + Banana Sandwich

After what happened this morning, I may need to ban myself from watching Food Network and Cooking Channel for a while.

It all started it so innocently- I was watching TV late last night and Guy Fieri was interviewing a chef who made deep fried PB & J sandwiches. A light bulb went off- hey, maybe I can modify that recipe, using chocolate peanut butter and banana instead!

Fast forward to this morning as I bounced down the stairs to create my sandwich. I had this sample packet of Peanut Butter & Co Dark Chocolate Dreams that I wanted to play with in the kitchen. I also had some Publix frosted flakes I could use. So I worked some kitchen magic and, feeling a little like a mad scientist, here is my creation. It’s alive!

Grilled Cornflake Crusted Chocolate Peanut Butter + Banana Sandwich
Ingredients (for 1 sandwich)
Egg white from 1 egg
3/4 cup frosted flakes
1 teaspoon of butter
2 slices of bread ( I used Arnold Honey Wheat Whole Grain bread)
2 tablespoons of chocolate peanut butter (or use regular PB if you’d like)
1/2 banana, sliced

Crush the frosted flakes with your hands onto a flat plate and set aside. Put egg white onto a separate flat dish.

Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread. Place banana slices on top of peanut butter. Top with other slice of bread.
Now it’s time to dip! This will get a little messy. Take one side of the sandwich and either brush with egg white or lay/dip into egg white. Next lay this same side of sandwich onto the plate with the crushed flakes. Repeat with other side. If needed, sprinkle any leftover flakes onto the sandwich.

Melt butter in a small skillet. Once melted, place sandwich in skillet. Cook on medium-low to medium heat for 5 minutes. You want the flakes to lightly caramelize. Flip and cook for 5 minutes on other side.

Place cooked sandwich onto plate and devour immediately! Prepare for lots of “Mmmm’s” and “Oooooo’s” as this sandwich is perfectly sweet and filling.

I warned you. This sandwich is pretty darn awesome!



Birchbox May 2013

Hooray! My May Birchbox arrived a few days ago. Cue the Birchbox happy dance! I’m surprised that I’ve been able to restrain myself from tearing open the box like a child (okay even grown up) on Christmas morning! But it was finally time to open and see what goodies awaited inside.

I have been staying away from unboxing videos, but when I logged into my Birchbox account a week ago I did accidentally see what I was getting. Darn. So much for keeping the suspense up. But I was still excited to check out these products!

Birchbox is a subscription box service that sends you deluxe samples for only $10 a month. It was one of the first subscription services and I think it is one of the best. If you are new to subscription boxes, Birchbox is a great place to start! This month’s theme is Beauty Diaries and Birchbox editors are sharing some of their favorite products with us.
The first item I was excited to see in my box was this Cargo lipgloss in Route 66. It’s a really great blush shade that is perfect for summer. I was happy to see that my box included the full-size product which normally retails for $14.99. So I definitely got my money’s worth this month!

Next up is Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle Leave-In Conditioner. This mist is paraben- and sulfate-free and offers UV protection while it smooths the hair cuticle. I’ve recently switched to sulfate-free hair products so I’m happy to see this one in the box!

These LA FRESH® Eco-Beauty Oil-Free Face Cleanser wipes will come in handy for summer travels, post-workouts or simply for everyday use. They are biodegradable and good for acne-prone and sensitive skin types.

I was pleasantly surprised by the CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40! I love how this product protects the skin without leaving that annoying white cast on your face. It actually perfectly blended in with my caramel skin. Whew! It also doesn’t have that stinky sunscreen smell. Double whew!! It leaves a matte finish and can be easily layered under foundation or BB creams.

The final item in the box is this Pilot pen with a hybrid ink that combines the “richness of gel ink with the water-resistance of quick-dry ballpoint ink, preventing any smudging or smearing”. I always say you can never have too many pens so I am glad to add this stylish one to my stash.

Once again, Birchbox has amazed me by the selection of samples. I appreciate how they send you samples that are in tune with your beauty profile. At a cost of only $10 a month, Birchbox is a perfect way to explore new beauty products and discover your new favorite things! You can learn more about Birchbox and subscribe yourself by visiting their website. Subscribers also get exclusive discounts on products which is great when you fall in love with a sample! They also have a Birchbox Men division, offering samples for the men in your lives. Hmmmm… With Father’s Day around the corner, this would make a really great gift!



What’s My Summer Skin Routine?

I live in Nashville, TN, where we are expecting a high of 90 degrees.

WHAT?!? It’s only mid-May! Goodness- this is going to be a hot summer.

As I get my wardrobe ready for summer, I started thinking about what am I going to do to protect my skin this summer. I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty relaxed over the years. Even though I know the dangers of not protecting my skin in the sun, I don’t do it every day. Some of my everyday products contain SPF and I usually apply SPF products to the body, but I need to be better.

So I was happy today when I got an email from Sephora about their Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit. What once was a 5-item kit has exploded this year to 18 products that will keep your skin protected in the summer heat. This year’s kit contains products from brands like Josie Maran, bareMinerals, Shiseido and Peter Thomas Roth.

This kit is great for all women– especially for those like me who need to pick up the habit of better protecting our skin in the sun. Kits cost $30 with $20 going to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Kits are available for purchase on May 22 but VIBs can buy them now. They sell out every year so if you want one, you better act fast!



Spicy Crunchy Garbanzo Beans

Recently I confessed my love for sweet foods. Well today I am confessing my other love: spicy foods. Mmmmm… the spicier the better, I always say! I haven’t met a jalapeño pepper I didn’t like. Hot sauces and salsas are my friends. I joke that I like a little pain with my food. I’m only slightly kidding when I say that.

A while back I was looking for spicy snacks that didn’t require a trip down the chip aisle. After seeing a recipe for roasted garbanzo beans, I decided to give it a try, adding my own spicy twist.

Spicy Crunchy Garbanzo Beans
1 cup of dried chick peas/garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp red cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
Dash of cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp of cinnamon sugar (optional)

First step is to soak the dried beans overnight in water.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Drain the beans and pat dry with a paper towel.
Put beans in a large plastic brag and add vegetable oil. Shake to cover beans with the oil.
Add all seasonings to the bag. Shake again to cover.
Place beans on a baking sheet. I lined my pan with parchment paper to minimize cleanup.
Bake for 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven. You can sample the beans (be careful- they are hot) to see if additional seasonings are needed.
Store beans in an airtight container. They will easily keep for a week- assuming they last that long!


Simply Delicious Banana Pudding

True confession, everyone: I love sweet foods. It doesn’t matter what it is. Cookies. Brownies. Cobblers. Milk shakes. I am a friend to all that is sweet and good in this world. One of my closest friends is a pastry chef- that should tell you something.

Last year I made the decision to eat healthier. With my fondness for sweets, I often turn to fruits to satisfy my cravings. But there are times when a girl just has to go for the real thing, you know?

One of my all-time favorite desserts is banana pudding. Maybe it’s the warmer weather, but I have been craving this dessert a lot lately. So when I discovered that Hungry Girl had a healthier option, I knew I had to give it a shot!

You can find Hungry Girl’s version here, but I made a few modifications.

Roqberry’s Rockin’ Banana Pudding
(modified from Hungry Girl’s Bananarama Wafer Pudding Recipe)
Makes 6 servings

1 box Jell-o Instant Banana Cream Pudding
2 cups skim milk
26 Vanilla wafers (I used Publix brand wafers)
2 bananas

Combine milk and pudding according to instructions on box. Set aside.
Place half of vanilla wafers, flat side down, in dish. I used a 9″ pie plate.
Slice 1 banana and layer slices on top of cookies.
Repeat layers, placing remaining vanilla wafers on top followed by remaining banana slices.
Pour pudding mix on top. Mixture will seep down between cookies and banana slices.
Cover and let set in fridge for 2-3 hours. Try to distract yourself from the knowledge that some sweet and creamy goodness is firming up in the fridge.

Makes 6 servings.

You can serve the pudding with whipped cream, but I think it is equally perfect without. If you are following Weight Watchers, Hungry Girl’s recipe is 4 Plus Points, using reduced fat cookies and sugar free, fat free pudding. I used the regular cookies and pudding, creating a recipe that is only 5 Plus Points!

I love finding quick and easy recipes that have delicious results! If you will excuse me, I’m going to dig in!