Monday, February 28, 2011

Party Planning

Spring is coming and with it a wealth of parties. There will be showers, small weddings, graduations and everything large and small in between. What do you do? Do you throw a bash in a big hall, or restaurant? Can you try to have it at home? What about a small barbecue? Or a series of them? So many questions but luckily they all have answers.

For anyone planning any big events this season there are three choices , restaurant,hall or someone's house. The best bet is a restaurant for groups larger than twenty(I would even say groups larger than ten). A restaurant can work with you to have a variety of menus or just an all satisfying buffet. You can work with them to tailor to meet needs and dietary restrictions.They will also throw in a dessert buffet too , depending upon the place. A hail is nice too but you have to have a good caterer to go along with it. A good thing about renting a hall though is that you can decorate it the way you want. Restaurants do have restrictions. Someone's home is nice but it;s just that someone's home. There's only one kitchen and one bathroom. at times.

Private homes aren't bad for smaller get togethers. There's nothing like relaxing in your yard and celebrating some event. with a close cadre of friends and family. There;s nothing like making your own barbecue or buffet.Again you can incorporate your guests with yours. Remember to keep it small. A party can get out hand when you have too many . You'll be running out of food or worrying about people's allergies With smaller groups you'll be able to manage everything from cooking to cleaning up yourself. There's also more of a chance of guests chipping in to help too.

Yes, Spring is on the horizon and with it the party season. If you are planning one go over the available options. Think about what you want. Then start mapping out the festivities

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Want Pure and Natural? Try Vegan Essentials

Years ago it was hard getting all natural food.You usually had to go to out of the way health food stores or scour your supermarket aisles Then came the Internet and with it search engine and goo s all natural food sites. One is Vegan Essentials which offers cruelty free and mostly all organic foods . You can get everything from breakfasts to snacks to party foods here.

Vegan Essentials is a great place for any vegetarian along with animal rights activist. here you can get tasty soy based main dishes like faux chicken nuggets and pulled pork . They taste like the real thing and are lifesavers when cooking for an all vegan household. There are even "chicken soup mixes that taste like the real thing with soy bits filling in for the bird. You can even buy fake soy meat loaf and fish flavored fingers too if you're craving them.Another plus is that Vegan Essentials also has some good cheese products as well as ethnic foods. They have a wide range of Indian and Mexican, perfect for vegans craving variety.

The site also offers some yummy sweets too. Here I found Sweet Money cookies as well as the Liz Lovely ones I wrote about yesterday. VE also offers some tasty all natural doughnuts and best of all that Midwestern treat Kringle! Theirs is rich and buttery , surprising, because it is dairy free (I don't know how they do it)! The site sells all natural gum and chocolate too! I think on my next visit , I'll order the all natural gumballs from Dylan and Delaney along with reordering these fantastic after dinner mints called Summerdown Pure Mints. These are bitter chocolate with a refreshing all natural mint added to them.

Vegan Essentials is perfect if you're looking for all natural, cruelty free foods. It's also good if you;re thinking of converting over to a healthier lifestyle. the food is still yummy whether it's a main meal or a snack. Visit them today and check out their other cool products too!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Liz Lovely Cookies A New Favorite!

I've recently discovered an amazing cookie company that produces the most decadent cookies. Why are they so amazing ? Because Liz Lovely cookies can bake something so sinful and decadent without dairy or eggs. They also create gluten free masterpieces that would make your knees weak! How could something so good taste soooo bad?

The company was started back in 2003 by Liz Lovely ( it's not listed whether this is her real name or an alias) and Cowboy Dan (his nickname???) her husband in crunchy granola Vermont, home to some of the most organic and wholesome products in the world. Their beliefs mirror other all natural green Vermont industries with supporting sustainable and local agriculture by using products grown in their immediate area. They also use all green packaging when shipping. Above all this Liz and her staff make cookies that are just simply good. They are good tasting and good for you, perfect for those with dairy or egg allergies or those with gluten problems.

What I love is that the cookies taste like pure heaven. I've only bought two kinds , the amazing awesome Cowboy cookies and the Snicker Dudes. The first is a wonderful meld of walnuts oatmeal and chocolate and actually taste buttery. The cookies have a chocolate bottom which makes them more candy like . The Snicker Dudes are these again buttery tasting snickerdoodles. They have just the right amount of cinnamon to give them a punch. I also like that the fact the cookies are big. like those individual bakery cookies and they come two to a pack. I am dying to try their mint Lovely Ohs which is a chocolate cover minty Oreo along with some of the gluten free chocolates.

Pure and natural doesn't t have to taste bland and boring. Liz Lovely Cookies makes that certain. They may be wholesome in ingredients but sinful in taste!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shaved Beef, Delicious And Easy

Shaved beef is one of the easiest ingredients out there. You can make whatever you want with it and it will still be tender and tasty. Best of all any novice cook can take it and turn it into a masterpiece. It's hard to screw up - no matter how you prepare it.

The cut was feature din yesterday's New York Times Dining section in an article written by Jane Sigal. She not only explains what it is but gives some excellent recipes with it. The cut is basically the chewy top round from the leg. it should be tough however thanks to precision butchering it comes off perfect for any kind of dish. The Germans make rouladen out of it where it's rolled around pickles, onions and bacon while the Italians create bracciole which has the slices stuffed with a spinach and cheese mix or tomato and breadcrumbs mix. Shaved beef can also be used in bulgoki, the Korea's national dish.

The recipes include d in the article were good too. There was glazed beef and scallion rolls, which would be the perfect small dinner party treat. This involves asparagus and scallions wrapped around marinated shaved beef and then grilled in canola oil. There's also a saucy Mexican twist on peppers and steak involving jalpeno or habenro peppers along with beef involtini ( a smaller version of bracciole) that;s great topping fettuccine. Shave beef allows you to be as creative as you want to be. It's even good just served plain on toasted Italian bread.

Shaved beef is any novice or creative cook's dream. it is simple to make and serves as the base for any number of recipes. You can make traditional like bracciole or exotic like bulgoki. It can be turned into a Sunday rouladen served with sauerkraut or a Saturday night party dish filled with fiery peppers. Shaved beef is really a great canvas for any cook.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Indianaolis Culinary Capital??

Midwestern cities aren't usually known for ethnically diverse cities. The people may come from all over the world bu t the tastes are usually mid American with chain restaurants and simple grocery stores. Not so in Indianapolis, It turns out this capital city is host to a wide variety of ethnic restaurants. The heartland doesn't just offer beef and potatoes. it has a whole new menu these days.

In a brilliantly written article for the New York Times Dining section, regular contributor, John T. Edge tells about the diversity in Indiana's capital.. It was once the home to just Germans, English , Scotch and Irish,. The city now has Burmese and Mexican. Pakistani and Salvadoran residents, all creating interesting foods. Restaurants now offer dishes like tikka masala and satays, enabling both newcomers and older residents to experience great international feasting.

Indianapolis is not a new phenomenon. There have been Vietnamese coming into New Orleans for four decades now, mixing Southeast Asian with Creole and Cajun cooking. There is Charlotte, North Carolina that has a big South American population. Empanadas and Southern classics mix freely. As with immigrants groups before them these new waves blend their tastes and likes in with the established to create a new kind of taste.

The heartland is changing. Gone are the days of the typical Midwestern meal of just meat and potatoes. new dishes are making their way into the Midwest, and they bring delicious winds of change.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheerios Our Cereal Through Life

The first time anyone enjoys Cheerios is probably from their high chair tray. Millions of parents for the last seventy years have given their babies this crunchy cereal . It's perfect for them , with the little rings fitting perfectly in miniature palms. As kids grow up, Cheerios becomes the go to breakfast food. As adults it becomes our ideal comfort food - a great breakfast or a great snack.

Cheerios isn't one of the oldest cereals. It actually started right before World War Two in 1940 it does have the distinction of being the first oat based cold cereal. Originally called Cheerioats, General Mills, , its' manufacturer, name was shortened in 1946 to Cheerios,For along time until the 1980's there was only the slightly nutty oat flavor . The 80's and 90's and '00's introduced us to new flavors like Honey Nut and berry flavored. there was a cinnamon flavored Cheerios back in the late 70s; however those didn't last for more than two years. The cereal even celebrated the millennium by adding the number 2 to its' boxes during 1999 -2000. There is even a savory Cheerio mix that has cheese nuts and Melba toast with onion and garlic powder tossed in.

Cheerios make the great breakfast cereal however they still make a wonderful TV snack no matter what your age. There's nothing like eating them straight from the box . After all they are low in calories (only103 a serving). Cheerios are versatile too. You can make treats with them similar to Rice Krispie treats or clusters in which you mix them and nuts in melted chocolate and then drop them on cookies sheets.

Cheerios have always been a big part of any kid;s life. They're the perfect snack, the perfect comfort food and of course the perfect breakfast. Those little circles have made everyone happy over the years - They really do bring fun to life.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Old Ingredients, New Dishes

Ever look into your pantry or fridge and just sigh? You're faced with the same boring ingredients day after day , year after year? Do you feel like you're boxed into making the same dishes?Then revamp your cooking. Use the same old stuff but in a different dish? You'd be surprised at what you can come up with.

Rice and cornmeal can be pretty boring. They do make a great aides for dishes like gumbo and the latter for chicken cacciatore. However they are also wonderful at the bottom of a chili bowl. Their creamy blandness is the perfect foil for any chili's fieriness and chunky texture.Pasta too is great with traditional sauces but you can also use it to make a zesty low mein or even fried into Chinese birds nests to house creations like Szechuan beef or curried chicken. Veggies , usually reserved for salads and sides can make wonderful grilled kabobs . Try onion peppers and grape tomatoes for a fun and new hors d"oeuvre.

Sweets also can turn run of the mill. Those Lorna Doone and Social Tea cookies can be used instead of Nilla wafers for ice box puddings.Even the wafers, especially the new multicolored ones, are a neat for layering in a trifle or individual parfaits. Take a plain chocolate bar. Scrape it along a hasp and then add it to softened plain vanilla ice cream to create stratichella, Italian chocolate chip ice cream. You can also add it to puddings for some extra crunch. That ho hum fruit bowl can be made into a dozen different things to help you come up with fun snacks and desserts.

Boring ingredients don;t have to be boring. Think outside the cookbook for once and try your own hand at creating novel dishes. it;s a fun way to approach the ordinary!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flavored Vodkas

Vodka is a strong enough drink on it;s own . Yet there''s just one problem, no flavor, literally it';s a great mixer drink. After all it makes for wonderful screwdrivers and Cape Codders.However it's not memorable, not like champagne or whiskey. However that;s all being amended these days thanks to the help of some flavoring.

Flavored vodka is nothig n ew. Poles and Russians have been flavoring theirs for centuries mostly with local fruit, herb and honeys, However in this day and age it's not unusual for companies like Stoli to include odd flavors not normally associated with the drink. there is a bacon flavored one - perfect for those brunch Bloody Marys; as well as a cotton candy one (this one should stand alone and not e mixed with anything) There are the also the more palatable fruit ones that have infusions of everything from grape tokiwi in them. The brand Three Olives also produces one with tomato and root beer

Who produces the best flavored vodka? Of course the answer would be Stolichnaya or Stoli.The company has been around for a long time(since the early 1900' s)Stoli takes its' product and gives it a modern day US twist by including flavors such as cranberry and raspberry along with popular vanilla, apple and blackberry. However the British Three Olive s is the hot dogger here with its'off the wall yet surprisingly workable tastes that include bubblegum and watermelon. This is the brand served in clubs and private house parties, appealing to th e thirty and younger set.

Vodka isn't just that strong drink used as a mixer. Now it's coming into its; own being infused with a variety of sweet and savory flavors. it;s growing up and expanding to fit a market that demands more than just the original.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dieting Dilemma - It Tastes Too Good!

Foodies always have a big problem on their hands. We gain weight - and fast. It's just that we can't resist good tasting food. Unfortunately to much of a good thing puts on the pounds. Then it;s back to diet food - which is usually bland, unexciting and has about as much taste as cardboard. What's a fat foodie to do?

Surprisingly keep eating what you love.You can still enjoy fries and burger, cookies and lattes. There are two ways of tackling this yummy food problem. Moderation . Eat what you like but in little increments or eat full portions but maybe once or twice a month. In other words you can share that splice of pizza or basket of onion rings or fries or just eat a few every so often. either way treat them as treats. Some people hold off with eating the fun stuff for the weekends. This makes them food that much more special and fun after a grueling week of low cal fare.

Another solution is to make diet foods tasty. use more herbs and spices to liven up salads and grilled foods. If you;re becoming tired of constantly eating grilled chicken or fish take it to the next level. Add lime juice to the cooking process to make it tastier. Salads boring you? Switch vinegars. Apple cider vinegar gives traditional vinaigrette a whole new spin and actually makes whatever is on your salad tastier. If you're tired of eating the same kind of fruit, mix it up by going for something else.

Don't worry if you've put on a few pounds. There are ways of getting the weight off while still enjoying your favorite foods. It does take some thinking and planning but it can be done. You can have your cake, fries and pizza and eat them too.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Ever Changing Menu

Every restaurant change sits menu from time to time. They have to in order to garner a crowd and keep themselves fresh. However imagine changing your entire menu every three months. One restaurant has done this. it not only keeps the attitude fresh but keeps customers and regulars guessing.

This was the subject of an article written by Julia Moskin in yesterday's Times Dining section. the article is about the appropriately named Chicago restaurant Next. the chef and owner Grant Achatz has his menu go through a complete metamorphosis. Right now he's featuring the foods the great 19th Century chef Georges Augustus Escoffier made, mining a wealth of sauces that have been rarely tasted since then. His other inspirations are Kyoto on the springtime, Palermo int he late 1940;s and surprisingly Hong Kong in th e future 2036. There is also the dark date of 1996 when he found out he had oral cancer (luckily for us he has been completely cured)he has a knack for using creativity and time honored recipes. it must be interesting working with and for him .

This concept is a new one and I can see Mr. Achatz opening up a branch in New York and possibly even Los Angles.It would be fun t o see what s next on a brand new menu. The big question would be would it appeal to some diners. I know New Yorkers and even some New Jerseyites who would flip if their favorites were taken off the menu for a good six months to a year or expecting pasta and bruschetta and being only offered coconut shrimp and mei fun instead. How would that play out?

Next is a bold and promising idea that I hope takes hold here. Imagine a restaurant that reinvents itself more times than Madonna and Lady Gaga. Now that's some wild eating

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Food Of The Stars

Ever wonder what your fave celebs eat? Do they chow down ion burgers and fries like you and me? Or do they just inhale a lettuce leaf and spring water? Today's Times Dining section answered this question.

And yes they do eat real food like we do.

The era of the willowy starlet is gone as Jeff Gordenier, a Dining regular contributor has found out. They love hearty breakfasts and lunches. Stephanie March, the former Law and Order SVU actress loves anything fried from chicken to steak. Luckily Ms. march is married to Bobby Flay who can satisfy all her culinary whims and passions. other actresses such as Mila Kunis of"Black Swan loves Mickey' D's supersized mealswhile Drew Barrymore is famous for her lifelong love of baked mac and cheese.

The real problem is what about the guys. Do we obsess over Christian Bale's or Colin Firth's diets? Do we care if Clooney eat a hot dog or lasagna?Or if he gains weight? no!There's this absurd double standard that means we scrutinize what any female actor eats while the males of the species can pig out whenever and whatever they choose. It's ridiculous. Luckily we're starting to appreciate the curvaceous actress again such as Chrisitna Hendricks or Sofia Vergatos

Yes, those starlets eat real food. They were real people before they became famous. They weren't; dropped from the skies by the gods and goddesses, destined to live on air and love from their fans. They need bacon and eggs, pizza and burgers to survive , like the res t of us mere mortals

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Foods For A Sick Day

There's nothing quite like a stomach flu or cold to kill an appetite. The problem is you have to eat. The more nourishment you have in your the faster you'll get well. The problem is what to eat. The answer is to eat simply. There's enough foods out there that can take you through a few days of discomfort.

Soup is one of the best foods to have when you're feeling not quite yourself. A clear broth or consomme is always good if you;re battling any kind of stomach flu or virus. Just add some plain Saltines and you;re good to go. Another favorite is chicken soup or even what the Northern Italians make , panne pesto , bread crumb soup. This is what has helped and almost cured generations of Piedmontese and all it is is just beaten eggs with bread crumbs in a chicken or vegetable broth. As you're feeling better or even have a cold then you can work your way up to minestrone.

Rice is another good sick day food as is pasta. Both can be made plain and then served with butter. Both make for light but nutritious lunch or dinner. It's also filling and easy to make if you;re on your own. Simple toast is good but you can also have plain slices of chicken turkey or even roast beef. Forget adding mayo or mustard. Just stick with light sprinklings of salt and pepper. Avoid anything like vegetables , spicy or greasy food. Lay off the snacks and sweets until you're ready to resume your normal diet.

You have to eat when you;re sick. It;s just that simple. However just stay away from the wild and the spicy , the greasy and the exotic. Stick to the simple foods.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Hot Cup Of Love

Today is Valentine's Day and usually it's a day rserved for champagne or wine. However there's nothign like a good hot cup of cocoa or even a mocha latte. Love may be better with bubbly but it's more cozy andcomforting with something hot and sweet. What better than with a rich, steamy chocolatey drink.

There are a lot of good powdered chocolate mixes out there. You can use the Dutch based Droste which is the closest in taste to a rich Parisian chocolat chaud. Be warned with this one however. You do have to add sugar to bring its' flavor. Droste is a bitter cocoa that's used more for baking but it could be used for chocolate or even a malted. Another favorite is surprisingly the supermarket fave, Land O ' Lakes' Usually the company is associated with butter and eggs but they've branched out into the hot cocoa and instant cappucino arenas. Their Chocolate supreme is heavenly but also try their mint and amaretto infused hot cocoas.

A good mocha coffee on Valentiness Day is another cup of warm, snuggly love. Mocha coffee is easy to make. You can just add any syrup or mix in a hot cocoa mix to your average cup of joe. You could also try Maxwell House's International Brands. These are great. Just add hot water and a blob of whipped cream and you're good to go. They 're sweet and tasty with almost a home brewed taste.

Champagne is fine for this day but even better is something hot and sweet. Make yourself and your sweetie a hot cup of coffee or mocha and cuddle up. It's the perfect night for it!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Honest Abe's Menu

Today is Abe Lincoln;s birthday. This great man came from humble beginnings as we all know. His backwoods origins also included a love of simple food whether from the forest or the garden. He ate simply , his mind more on his law studies than on his stomach. Despite all he ate well and even nutritiously.

Lincoln's Southern Illinois and Indiana back in the 1800's was just starting to become farmland. His stepmother probably cooked a lot of wild onion and parsnips, either boiled or stewed with meats to flavor them. There was plenty of wild meat to choose from, from raccoons to squirrels to pigeons. Lincoln had a fondness for chicken, especially fricasseed and he carried that with him to the White House. H e liked gingerbread a, love from his boyhood along with fruits, in particular apples. These probably grew in abundance on his farms and along the roads and were always there for the picking.

Once he was elected into the White House, Lincoln abandon his culinary loves. He still enjoyed plenty of fresh fruits,. especially grapes in the summer. He still loved apples along with apple pies pies He was not into the fancily decorated cakes and gelatins of the period, preferring simple butter cookies and plain cakes. He did have a passion for oysters especially in a creamy stew.. This last was a big 19th Century passion. Mostly everyone from that era relished this particular bivalve. and there was an incredible amount of oyster recipes in cookbooks of the time. One thing that stood out Lincoln was a lifelong non drinker,he preferred a glass of water to wine or spirits. This may have come from his days of drinking fresh stream or well water a a boy.

Abe Lincoln wasn't a gourmand like other presidents. He had none of Jefferson's culinary curiosity about food nor was he a love of all things rich like Taft . Much like his principles, he was more for the simple and pure..

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Meal At The Mall

Despite what food snobs say, mall food isn't that bad. Whether;'s it the popular chain restaurant or the pretzel stand, they can provide good eating for much less than a fancy privately owned restaurant. In these money tight times. there's nothing like a meal there.

Chain restaurants are mall magnets. it;s a bit more upscale yet the food isn't as high priced as some chichi one. There's PF Chan's which offers a glam setting and god Chinese food. They also have a wide array of dishes that cater to everyone. Their desserts are Western - .Let's face it who can resist the great Wall of Chocolate?. Another fun one is On The Border a fast and somewhat fancy Mexican restaurant (and a subsidiary of Chili's). Try their build your own fajita along with some of the tasty chicken taquitos. Another fun thing that I love about this restaurant is their bottomless bowl of tortilla chips that start off every meal. For more elegance, try the super cool Legal Seafood which looks more like a chic NY night club. The seafood is excellent with emphasis on the catch of the day and the shrimp dishes.

Malls can't be beat for less expensive fare either. They're great places to pick up pizza or a burger. my favorite is Villa Pizza which has one of the best spaghetti dishes. The sauce tastes exactly like homemade scratch and it comes with a garlic bread. Another fave is Ranch Chicken . Their popcorn chicken nuggets with fries makes a fun Saturday night dinner . The y also have healthy plates like the grilled chicken and veggies. This is a meal for two and doesn't; taste like any bland diet dinner.

There;s nothing like a meal at the mall. You can save money along with having a wide ranges of choices. You can go for Italian, Japanese Mexican , American, the whole gamut. It's great way of eating out without breaking the bank.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Good Southern Restuarant

You would think that the New York Times Dining section would only cover city restaurants. It makes sense because it covers the Manhattan metro area. Yet , yesterday's Dining section regular writer.Sam Sifton gave a glowing review and interview about Husk. Sean Brock's brand new sensation in Charleston, South Carolina.

Sean Brock is really a Virginian who attended the famous Johnson and Wales College which is famously known for their hospitality courses. H e fell in love with Charleston during his years there , so much in fact that he purchased an 1893 Queen Anne style home in the town's center. The cuisine celebrates Southern heritage and th e foods that made it great. There is also mentionof Mr. Brock's other restaurant McCrady's , another local favorite

I was curious myself and I checked out Husk's menu. It does stick to the Carolinian food traditions of combining fancy and simple . There' s even a fried baloney appetizer which is kind of a rebel fave. Yet there is also a great variety of seafood, a nod to Charleston's maritime heritage. Grits were on today's' menu (it changes daily) with shrimp . I can just imagine this to be creamy and actually a perfect accompaniment.Usually grits are somewhat dry and not known for being with seafood,

Good Southern cooking is hard to come by these days, even in the South itself. Yet, Sean Brock has managed to top even himself with his love of the cuisine and use of fresh ingredients. he adheres to the tradition of good cooking with simple ingredients , and makes each dish true to tradition yet unique.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The New Wave Of Sports Bars

Sports bars bring to mind smoky atmospheres with loud TVs and louder fans. The food isn't particularly great, just filling and at times super spicy. However all that's changing. Gourmet and haute cuisine are coming to these now up scale hangouts. It's not only fun to go out and cheer your favorite team it's becoming chic.

This was explored in today's New York Time's Dining section, with a great article written by Glenn Collins. He visited several more upscale bars and tasted their fare. It turns out that it wasn't just your average plate of soggy nachos and oily wings. There was butternut squash bisque and roasted Brussels sprouts, two dishes normally not associated with this type of restaurant. There is also a meatloaf that has minced shrimp in it to give it more oomph. Some even offer brunches worthy of Village bistros

There are the traditional nachos and wings. After all that;'s what sports fan cry for. Yet these are a bit better, with more thought put into them. The nachos, are crisper and cheesier, made more like a layer gratin than just a pile of corn chips with cheese gooped on them. The chicken wings have ginger honey and Old Bay seasonings. Even the burgers and tacos are a veer off from the eh ordinary with the burgers being infused with anchovy and paprika and the tacos having tuna frown in from Hawaii.

Sports bars are not the hangouts they once were. You can now get gourmet food while watching your favorite team win or lose. It's not just about the game anymore.It's about the food.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Turkey Subs

There's nothing like bacon and burgers. Even put together they're pure heaven. yet they're also bad for us. What do we do ? Cut them out completely? GO overto soy - which is sort of tasty but still not the real thing. The best bet is to go turkey. There's nothing like turkey bacon and turkey burgers to fill our cravings fo r these foods,.

Turkey bacon is a relatively new creation. It's made from the thighs of the bird and has been smoked , chopped and reformed. The bacon can also come from the turkey's dark meat and has a surprisingly ham like flavor. Two strips of it contain only 2.5 grams of fat and only 70 calories as opposed to regular bacon's almost 80 calories and double the amount of fat. Turkey bacon can be served with eggs or in BLT's. It's not a good sub for recipes that call for pork bacon because it has no fat content , and can ruin the dish.

Turkey burgers are another good sub in for red meat. They, too , are a relatively new invention, and fill the need for a leaner, more healthier burger. They are only 130 calories with only 30 grams of fat while a hamburger is 160 with about the same amount of fat grams. Turkey burgers are not only eaten for healthy reasons but also for religion such as Hinduism where beef is forbidden. On the whole turkey can be just as tasty as the other. A good turkey burger is just as juicy and flavorful as a regular one with no greasy aftertaste.

It's hard to give up th efoods we love such as bacon and burgers. Yet we can switch to healthier alternatives like turkey to satisfy our cravings. These subs not only are good for us but good tasting too.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Day After

Most fridges across America are still stuffed to the gills with yesterday's party food. It's always wonderful to have tables groaning with food and drink. It shows that we're good hosts who care for our guests. However what happens when those tables are still groaning afterwards when the party has ended. What do we do?

Luckily some dishes like chicken wings and ribs can be reheated and recycled with some potato salad for the next day's dinner. Ditto the cold cuts and extra rolls plus they can also be made into tasty lunches too. Any sour cream based dip will last for a few days as long as it's covered and stored in the fridge. You can even have it again with veggies as a fun alternative to a regular meal. Extra veggies themselves can be cut down and made into soup or salad ingredients

You can also get creative with some of the other leftovers. Take pretzel, tortilla or potato chips and crush them finely for a different kind of bread crumb. Using them makes for much more interesting fried chicken and tempura. Cold cuts can be sliced up for a nice Cobb salad. Guacamole can be used as a spread in sandwiches or even used for taco or tortilla filling (note : guacamole's shelf life is only a day or two, try to use it within this time frame). Leftover pita bread can be baked into chips or used as a base for homemade pizzas.

Party leftovers needn't be so scary. You can use them recycle them in a variety of ways that your family will still enjoy. Just be creative and you'll have an empty fridge!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A New Discovery Seaweed

People think seaweed is just that green stuff served alongside sushi. Most discard it Most wouldn't dream of even touching it. Yet this staple has been a part of some diets for century. It;s actually not bad and if prepared right can be very tasty. Once you get used to the taste it can actually be downright addcitive.

Seaweed has been a part of many cultures for centuries. Mainly it's the Asians, namely the Japanese that have it in their diets. However it's also eaten in Europe too, namelyin the United Kingdom and Ireland. Seaweed helped save thousands of lives during the Potato Famine of 1848 and is still harvested there today. It's rich in beta carotene, chromium and zinc .Seaweed is also high in vitamins A and C along with being low in calories and fats like land grown greens. There are several different types ranging from Agar to Dulse to Irish Moss (used as food for the Irish during their famine).There is also the common kelp, Nori, Kombu , Sloke and wakame.

How do you eat seaweed? There are dried Nori sheets you can buy in packages at Chinese food stores. These are flavored usually with a light coating of wasabi mustard. You can also use seaweed as flavoring in miso soup. The greens are probably best mixed in salads. Th e flavor is the strongest when it's raw and it some have a nice crunch to them. You can cook seaweed into vegetable stews too for color and nutrients ifyou want Most use wakame for this because it resembles arugula in a way.

Seaweed is one fo the food world's most misunderstood of greens. Try it in your next salad or soup. It's high in mineral and vitamins, like any regular land grown green You may be surprised by this emerald gem of the ocean.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gimme Sugar The Soft Drink Controversy

There's a major controversy in the New York metro area. It seems that besides a tax on sugary drinks there are also commercials showing the bad side of drinking too much of the stuff. It's annoying.It's not that I'm from NJ and find pontificating from a mayor that's not my own irritating. I just don't like to be told what to do with my eating habits. Neither do others.

I can understand the need to show smoking and alcohol PAs. Too much of either is deadly and can harm others. However what one chooses to eat or drink with one''s meal is another matter. Yes,sugary drinks are bad for every and anyone - kids or adults - whether it's soda , sweetened teas or coffees. Yet, Coke and Snapple are a part of our everyday diets, much more than cigarettes or a bottle of beer could ever be. We could switch over, It's easy to wean yourself off them. Yet that let that be your choice - not one made fo r you or me

As far as regulating sugar intake - why let it stop at drinks? Every processed food has some form of it in them. Do we tell people not to indulge in French or Russian salad dressing because those have sugar. Do we cut out Girl Scout cookies or the occasional morning Danish? What about the chocolate? Will there be a ban on white and milk chocolate because it's not as healthy as dark? Then do we go after fruit because that contains sugar too - as does corn . It gets ridiculous after a while, doesn't it?

How far will it go? Will we wake up one day and find the Sugar Police at your doors? The illegal white stuff won't be cocaine anymore, that's for sure. Just think Prohibition could be brought back - not for Jack Daniels but for Pepsi!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Finding The Perfect Sake

Sake is one of those beverages that people, think they know but really don;t. A lot of Americans only think there's one brand or one kind and that it goes with anything Asian.They're wrong , of course. Like any alcoholic beverage, there are varying degrees along with varied ingredients and tastes.Like any wine , liquor or champagne, once acquainted it becomes a lifelong love.

This was explored in yesterday's New York Times Dining section. There was an very good and interesting article by Jeff Gordinier, a new Dining regular. he explores the different kinds out there and in the city where sake is king - Las Vegas. yes that Las Vegas, home of cheese and cheap liquor. It 's also a hangout for "whales" high rolling gamblers mostly from Asia who demand the best food and drink. One of the best sakes served on the Strip is the twelve year old aged Frozen beauty or Ancient beauty(think of it as the Angel Champagne of sake) that sells for $2,300 a 750 ml. bottle.

There are several different kinds out there. One,Maborishi, is made from the yeast of apple peels which adds to the drinks' aroma. After all it's a fermented drink (not quite classified as wine or beer)made solely from fermented rice and water. There's also one called Ice Dome which ferments in an igloo and sells for forty dollars a bottle. Most Japanese restaurants serve Sudo Honke sake made form Japan;s oldest brewery. The brewery was started in 1141 and has been in the Sudo family for an amazing fifty-five generations.

Sake isn't complicated. It's a brew , not unlike other alcoholic beverages with a fermenting process and different types. Like with any alcoholic drink , once it's tried it will be a favorite.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Kind Of Italian

Here's a question - is pepperoni pizza really Italian?

Surprisingly not. There is no such thing on pizzerias in Italy. In fact it;s an American invention There is no pepperoni in Italy, It's kind of a hybrid food sort of what fortune cookies are to Chinese cuisine. However it is the most popular choice for pizza lovers through out the US. Why? because it goes well with the cheese and tomato sauce.

Julia Moskin explored the whole myth and story of the pie in today's New York Times Dining section. Pepperoni is an American invention probably taken from Calabrese and Abruzzese sausage recipes. These last are infused with red chilis and super hot, not unlike America's most popular brand. Hormel. The Hormel pepperoni is similar to these, fine grained with a slightly smoky flavor and a bright red coloring. Many chefs will refuse to top a pizza with it. They choose lardo a finer salami that can be sliced over fresh from the oven pies.

Mid America does demand pepperoni on its'pizzas. Let's face it it is the tastiest of all the toppings. it;s got a lot going for it too. Cooked up it leaves a spicy oil that mixes in with the mozzarella and tomatoes. Most like their pepperoni crispy edged, sort of like fried Taylor ham. It gives a kind of crunchiness to an ordinarily soft dish. Most pepperoni used in Manhattan pizzerias are cut fresh. Pre cut slices can be tough which ruins the whole pie.

Pepperoni pizza may not be truly Italian, but it is truly loved .It'ss an American classic. It goes right up there with game day, wings and beer

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Soup Homemade Vs Canned Controversy

This is the weather when soup reigns supreme. It;s the perfect lunch after a morning shoveling snow. It's the ideal light supper on a Sunday night after a day of skating skiing or even just walking. The question is to make it fresh or open a can? What's best? What's easiest? There in lies the question

Of course fresh , homemade soup is the healthiest for you. You don't have all that extra sodium that soup companies add to theirs. You also know the ingredients are fresh and at times organic. You can tailor the mixes to fit your families likes and dislikes as well as allergies. However they are time consuming t make. There is a lot of prep time for ingredients such as squash , broccoli and cauliflower Seafood has to be precooked and shelled. Meats have to be deboned and cut up. if you make too much you'll have a freezer full til June.

Canned soups do have an allure to them. One it;s just opening up the can and dumping it into a waiting saucepan. This is a plus for the more complicated soups such as Italian wedding and any of the clam chowders.Also you don;t have to go on a wild goose chase of the out of season ingredients such as broccoli or tomatoes. The down side are the sodiums along with the preservatives which can trigger allergic reactions. You can buy all natural organic soups however some taste like dish water.

The best bet is to make the soups you're familiar with and buy the more complicated ones . Vary between then them. Any soup is good , especially during these cold times.