Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why I wrote Love at First Bite, The Unofficial Twilight Cookbook


Why I wrote Love at First Bite, The Unofficial Twilight Cookbook
Gina Meyers

 
On November 21, 2008, my life changed. That was the night my friend had an extra ticket and invited me to the midnight showing of Twilight. Instantly, I  noticed how the movie premier was striking a chord with many different ages and generations, even men were at the premier donning Twilight inspired tee-shirts.  Before watching the movie, the only exposure to Twilight I had was knowing that my teenage stepdaughter had requested the entire collection of the Twilight Series of books by Stefanie Meyer and that they were in her closet on her bookshelf. I honestly thought the books were about vampires and werewolves, little did I know. After watching the movie, I saw it was a love story. Basically, I ran to my stepdaughters’ upstairs bedroom and took Twilight off her bookshelf and went to my bedroom and started to read it. It took me about three days to read Twilight.

While I was reading Twilight, it literally just came upon me, why not write a cookbook based upon the book? This thought didn’t seem odd in the slightest. While reading, I took notes every time there was a food reference. This took more time than the initial three days to read the book. For me, food is love and seven and a half years ago, I set a goal: to reignite a passion for cooking and getting people of all ages back together having meaningful conversations. This personal goal has continued to thrive in my life and the lives of others and still is my personal goal.

As a writer, I also realized that the Twilight series had a similar tone to what I like writing about, a love story with a twist.

The love story with a twist, is that we are all slightly different, but it is in the sacrifice where we can find true love and our true selves.

As I saw the story, a human girl, pasty and white, leaves her mom and stepdad to go hang out with her semi-recluse dad, Charlie Swan, Police Chief, in the rainiest place on the planet, Forks, Washington.

As the story goes, Stefanie Meyer had a brilliant dream which later became the Twilight book. She referenced the “rainiest place in the U.S.”  via the Google search engine to locate Forks. For me, a cookbook author, the name “Forks” couldn’t be more appetizing. The setting couldn’t be more appealing, the setting was chosen so the human, werewolves, and vampires could have a place to co-exist.

What about those vampires? Well, The Cullen Clan was a breed all their own, “vegetarian vampires”, preferring to consider themselves more civilized than the ordinary run of the mill blood sucking vampire, preferring to only suck the blood from animals. Well surely I wasn’t going to use real blood in my recipes, that’s totally disgusting and this wasn’t a “joke cookbook”, this was a “novelty cookbook” and so I opted to play upon the whole vegetarian vampire thing and made a slew of vegetarian inspired dishes. Some vegetarian dishes in Love at First Bite are:  Yellow Squash and Tomato Parmesan, Salad a la Cullen, Artichoke Cheese Squares. As for the werewolves, they feasted, so I did a hearty Wolfpack Waffles. During the holidays, my daughters’ Lauren and Makenna always made this dessert with Chex cereal, melted chocolate chips and peanut butter. I added powdered sugar to the concoction and renamed it Werewolf Chow.

 
 
 


Then I experimented with red velvet cakes and created some semi-homemade recipes. Charlie, Bella’s dad wasn’t much of a gourmand, he was a divorced bachelor. My mom used to joke that my dad only knew how to make a “dinner in a skillet”, which consisted of sliced hot dogs, sliced potatoes, and diced onion, so I renamed it, “Charlie’s Dinner In A Skillet”.

There was a reference to an apple to signify original sin how Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden, so in keeping with the theme, I did “sinfully” delicious apple recipes. I also researched the different type of apples and there are many different varieties to choose from. The cookbook has a three fork designation as well. “Three Forks” recipes are the most difficult, “two forks” means they are “medium” level of difficulty and “one fork” are the easiest recipes in the cookbook. I also did a play upon Edward’s eyes being the color butterscotch, with “Butterscotch Eyes”, a butterscotch pudding recipe with teddy grahams.

On their first date, Bella orders Mushroom Ravioli, so there is a Mushroom Ravioli recipe. Bella, aka, Isabella Swan is Italian. So being part Italian myself, I utilized a lot of family recipes in the Chow Bella Italian Food Section, including Bell’s Lasagna, Chicken Cacciatore, Veal Scaloppini, Tallerina (my late Great Aunt Rose’s recipe) and many more. For the Biscotti dessert, I used my Grandma Julie’s Biscotti cookie recipe, a family favorite.

How I came up with the title Love at First Bite. It felt as if I instantly thought of it (and no, I hadn’t heard of the movie of the same moniker) , however, one day I was looking through the picture album of my daughters’ 3rd grade Halloween party. I was in charge of teaching the kids to make Monster Hands. You pop popcorn, use a clear clean plastic glove, take five or so candy corns and place the candy corns as fingernails in each slot of the plastic glove, then you add cooled popcorn and use a ribbon or twisty tie and it looks like a hand. Anyways, as I looked at the picture, I noticed that I was wearing a Halloween inspired Orange tee-shirt with the words, Love at First Bite in black.

Vampires are known to “suck” or “bite” us and we “chew,” and “bite” our food. No other title could have worked as well as Love at First Bite to me.

On this Twilight journey, I have had book signings all over the United States, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Memphis, Tennessee, Cleveland, Ohio, Fresno, California, San Jose, California, and many other wonderful cities. I have done live cooking demonstrations on TV all over the United States. In 2012, I was presented with The Gourmand International Award for Best Fundraising Cookbook in the World. While in Paris, France, I met a woman who was in charge of The Culinary Institute of America. She also was a Marketing Professor and she told me that she had utilized my book, Love at First Bite to show her student’s an example of an  innovator who took a great idea and ran with it.

Much to my delight, they mentioned my Twilight Cookbook on the hit TV Show, The Office. A pregnant Pam is talking with Kevin Malone and Kevin says, “I cooked my way through the Julia Child’s Cookbook, I am half way through the Twilight Cookbook, last night I  cooked Edward Cullen’s Cornflake Chicken.” The LA Times wrote an expose on my life and appeasing the haters. A dude on Amazon was starting a Twilight war stating my Team Edward Tacos caused his girlfriend to “break up with him”.  Fun stuff like that, I don’t have a Taco recipe in Love at First Bite. The Calgary Herald featured my Twilight Cookbook and many reporters came up with super fun titles for their articles: my personal favorite, “Running All The Way To The Bank, The Twilight franchise now has a Twilight Cookbook!”


The friends of the Visalia Library, cooked their way through my Twilight Cookbook and had a special evening with me. And, by far, the biggest compliment was when The Allan Carr Chatty Man TV Show (out of London, England) met up with the stars from Twilight, they featured my cookbook and served the stars of Twilight my Twilight Tribute Punch. Kellan Lutz, also known as Emmett Cullen went nuts over my Twilight Tribute Punch, secret ingredient, gummy worms. I modified my late Great Aunt Mildred’s punch recipe by adding the gummy worms.  Allan Carr agreed to pay me 1 pound which is equivalent to $1.00 U.S. dollar, I’m still waiting.  No worries, the experiences have been priceless.
Purchase The Twilight Cookbook

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

California Grape and Prawn Curry Soup


California Grape and Prawn Curry  Soup

2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon of The Olive Oil Pantry Coconut Balsamic Vinegar

½ cup of Silk Coconut Milk

1 lime (from Farmer’s Market)

1 to 2 Tablespoons of Mild green curry paste (such as Golden Curry Sauce Mix, found at Savemart)

1 12 ounce frozen package of Garlic Herb Shrimp Scampi (found at Walmart in the frozen food aisle)

1 teaspoon of basil flakes

2 dashes of ginger

1 cup of chicken broth

1 cup of California grapes, halved

1 cup of red onion

 

Directions: Heat oils in a large skillet over medium heat. Add red onion and cook until onion is softened, about four minutes, next add coconut milk, curry, chicken broth and bring to a simmer; cook uncovered until slightly thickened. Add prawns (or the Garlic Herb Shrimp Scampi), basil, ginger, and halved grapes as well as lime juice. May add more chicken broth (if you want a soup) or substitute canned unsweetened coconut milk (instead of fresh coconut milk) if you want a thicker consistency and serve over white rice. Fresh basil as well as fresh ginger also works in this recipe, if in season and available. One skillet recipe, easy and healthy meal in minutes.
Resources:
 
 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Love at first bite, sinfully delicious desserts ( Torta Bella, Apple Cake, Chocolate Biscotti)


 
 
 
 
 
 

Heavenly Cake/
Torta Bella


 
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the cake pan

1 ½ cups of flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2 cups of confectioners’ sugar

Grated zest (orange part only, without the underlying white pith) of 1 orange

Grated zest (yellow part only, without the white pith) of 1 lemon

¼ teaspoon salt

4 large egg whites

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch cake pan with olive oil. Sprinkle the inside of the pan with flour and rotate the pan to coat the sides and bottom evenly.

 

Sift the 1 ½ cups of flour and baking soda together into a small bowl.

 

In a large bowl, whisk the whole eggs and confectioners’ sugar together until creamy, smooth, and doubled in volume. Add the zests and about half the salt and beat well. Alternately add the olive oil and flour mixture to the sugar mixture, stirring gently after each addition.

 

In a medium-sized bowl, using an electric mixer at high speed, whip the egg whites with the remaining salt until they hold stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted up. Add about one fourth of the whites to the batter and, with a spatula, gently fold them in, scraping the batter from the bottom of the bowl over the whites. Fold in the remaining whites the same way.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is deep golden brown and springs back quickly when pressed with your finger, about fifty minutes. Cool cake. With a thin bladed knife, around the edges of the pan and release the sides of the pan. Cool the cake completely, may take ½ hour. Can garnish with mint, fresh strawberries and cream.
 

 Apple Cake

7 apples, such as Gala, Red Delicious, Jonathan, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious
Peeled and sliced into chunks.
1 ½ cups of vegetable oil
2 cups of sugar
3 eggs
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of walnuts, chopped
 
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a cutting board, slice apples and discard seeds and skin. Set aside apple slices. In a large bowl, beat together oil, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract and eggs. Mix with an electric mixture and slowly add flour, baking soda and then apples. Stir in walnuts or continue to beat with mixture on medium speed using a spatula to clean sides of bowl. Place in a greased loaf pan and cook for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center. May dust with powdered sugar, and also you can add cranberries or raisins to the Autumn Harvest Cake. Pecans can also be substituted in place of walnuts.
 
 
 

Chocolate Biscotti Cookie Recipe


Ingredients:
3 cups of all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup of granulated sugar 
1/2 cup of firmly-packed light brown sugar 
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¾ of a teaspoon of salt 
3 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder, 100% Cacao
3 eggs
1/3 of cup olive oil 
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed of orange juice 
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract 
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1 cup of chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds
 
Directions: In a medium sized bowl, with an electric mixer, blend sugars, eggs, butter, vanilla extract, olive oil, and orange juice. Next, add baking powder, salt and flour. Continue to mix, add flour a cup at a time, using a spatula to blend mixture. Finally, slowly add the chocolate chips and nut of your choice. Next, with your hands, mold the dough first into a ball and then into a loaf. Place loaf on a greased baking sheet (a Tablespoon of butter or a spray of cooking spray or even a dab of olive oil on the pan spread will help prevent sticking. Flatten dough into a loaf shape with your hands.  In a preheated 350 degree oven, bake for 20 minutes, take out loaf and cut with a sharp knife, into diagonals cookies about ¾ th of an inch thick. Return to oven, and bake on each side of the cookie for an additional ten minutes. If you bake both sides, you will have an extra crunchy biscotti cookie. For a softer biscotti, return to oven and bake on only one side for ten minutes.
 
 
 

 
 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Orange Pineapple Crumb Cake


Orange Pineapple Crumb Cake

 

1 cup of all-purpose flour

4 Tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

Dash of salt

1 large egg

½ cup of Orange Pineapple Juice (Dole)

 

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray non- stick cooking spray in an 8-inch square baking pan. In a bowl, with a pastry blender or a fork, combine flour, cinnamon, sugar, and butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Set aside

Measure ½ cup of the crumb mixture and move to a separate bowl. With the main crumb mixture, add baking powder, salt, mix with a wooden spoon. Next, add the pineapple orange juice and egg and mix until well blended.

Pour the batter into a prepared pan. Sprinkle the reserved cinnamon-crumb mixture over the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes eight servings.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Love at first bite...Easy Guacamole Recipes


Serve with tortilla chips or carrots. An easy and fun vegan recipe sure to please all avocado fans!
 
Easy Guacamole Recipe

2 Ripe Avocados, mashed

1 Small Onion, diced (purple, white, or yellow onion)

1 ripe tomato, chopped (Campari, Roma, or garden variety tomatoes)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lime, squeezed and juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions: Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in diced onion, minced garlic, chopped tomato, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Season with remaining lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for half an hour in the refrigerator to blend flavors.

 

 

 

Gina’s Easy Guacamole Recipe

2 Ripe Avocados, mashed

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

2 Tablespoons of Marukan All Natural Ponzu (Citrus Marinade)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions: Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in with a spoon, garlic powder and Citrus Marinade, and salt and pepper. Chill for half an hour in the refrigerator to blend flavors.

Love at First Bite: Gina's Easy Guacamole Recipes





Easy Guacamole Recipe

2 Ripe Avocados, mashed

1 Small Onion, diced (purple, white, or yellow onion)

1 ripe tomato, chopped (Campari, Roma, or garden variety tomatoes)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lime, squeezed and juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in diced onion, minced garlic, chopped tomato, lime juice, and salt and pepper. Season with remaining lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for half an hour in the refrigerator to blend flavors.

 

Gina’s Easy Guacamole Recipe

2 Ripe Avocados, mashed

2 teaspoons of garlic powder

2 Tablespoons of Marukan All Natural Ponzu (Citrus Marinade)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions: Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in with a spoon, garlic powder and Citrus Marinade, and salt and pepper. Chill for half an hour in the refrigerator to blend flavors.

 

 






The Multicultural Kids Cookbook

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Black Jewell Popcorn, Love at first bite

Food For Thought:
A series of thoughts on food products that I was initially introduced to at the National Food Product Expo in Anaheim, California.

Oh my goodness. Christmas came early at Gina's house! Black Jewell makes the best microwavable popcorn on this planet! 100% Natural, Gluten Free, Cholesterol Free, 0g Trans Fats. The popcorn pops pure white. To me, popcorn is an anytime snack. It comes in many different flavors, from Kettle Corn, Natural, and Butter Flavor. My favorite is the Kettle Corn. When making Monster Hands, my recommendation is to use the Natural Flavor Black Jewell Popcorn.