Saturday, August 30, 2014

Different Dips Different Times

Dips are one of the most versatile and easiest dishes a home chef can create.They can be used to kick off a party or part of an after school snack.Best of all they can be made with healthy ingredients from legumes to veggies.Another good thing in their favor is that they also can be served with a variety of dippables too. One of the easiest and healthiest dips to make is salsa.It's also a great way to use up any leftover tomatoes , peppers or onions from your garden's yield.Dice two or three beefsteaks or vine ripes along with two green bell peppers.Add a diced yellow onion and presto a tasty dip.It's up to you if you want to add seasoning but I'd recommend just a dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.Salsa can be customized too to suit everyone's tastes.If your party goers go wild over anything four alarm, then add some ground up chile peppers or sliced jalapenos.If the salsa is for the kids, then think about adding some finely ground broccoli and cauliflower.Also fruits such as blueberries and mangoes can be mixed in for some sweetness.You can also whip up a dessert salsa, with mango ,coconut and pineapple.For heat think shaved Ginger added to the mix? classic dips such as onion and crab are alswyas fun, especially when served with potato chips or even crudités.However the main ingredient sour cream is too high in fat and calories.Remedy that with Greek yogurt,You"ll still have a creamy dip with a satiny texture but it won't be as lethal. Hummus is popular right now.It's not only good for those late summer gatherings but also for after school study groups.It's an easy mix of just tahini paste, chickpeas , olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice.Tahini paste is nothing more than mashed, hulled sesame seeds.You can buy it at any grocery store or you can make it yourself. It's a quick bake in the oven and then purée the seeds with vegetable oil.Hummus can be made to suit any ones's tastes.Roasted garlic and roasted pepper are two favorite add INS.You can also toss in lime, chile or basil.The best snack to serve with hummus is toasted pita wedges or chips.Kids can make hummus sandwiches for a healthy after school snack .Guacamole is another easy ,fun and good for you dip.The best recipe is the easiest.Take two ripe avocados, along with one vine ripe tomato mash with the addition of a minced yellow onion.I also add just the/scantest drop of olive oil to give it smoothness and texture.Remember to add lemon juice so the dip won't discolor.Serve with warmed tortilla chips. Nothing is as versatile or as tasty as a well made dip.Try a salalsa or hummus.Make guacamole for a special first day of school treat.Any kind is just fun to make and fun to eat?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Million Dollar Denny's

Really? The meals at the new Wall Street area Denny's is offering a $300 breakfast! Again really????? It seems the chain wants to appeal to the trust fund babies and traders.The bone of contention is that it's a chain that has somewhat of a good and bad reputation. Would it be better off staying in the heartland or expanding in the heart of the world's financial district? Denny's is a typically Midwestern restaurant.Although there are a few scattered around the East Coast and across the Hudson in Central and Southern New Jersey, the chain is primarily seen around the nation's heartland and So Cal region of the country.The restaurant started off in California in 1953 by Richard Jezek and Harold Butler.It's actually become an international chain with it being big in Japan.Yet, it has had a reputation of being racist thanks to several incidents in the late Nineties.The up side of Denny's and one sure to appeal to all those Wall Street types is that it does use free range eggs and does express concern over some animal rights and how it's various meats are treated pre slaughter.Their meals however will be competing with some of the trendier cafes throughout the southern tip of Manhattan Island. After all it's chief rival is Le Pain Quotidienne, that LA based bakery that offers ouefs and crepes with a totally Gallic charm.Denny's may do well with tourists, out of towners who want a taste of the familiar.IHOP has put one of their pancake houses in the middle of SoHo.It's doing well ,probably not only with visitors but with denizens who grew up with the chain in Long Island or Jersey and want to give their little ones the same dining fun they had. Will other fast food places go the way of downtown Denny's then? Will McDonald's change to Kobe beef burgers? Will KFC be offering emu nuggets at twenty bucks a pop?It's hard to say.Fast food restaurants do jump on trends pretty fast.Burger King is now offering vegan fare and low calorie French fries , exploiting two very fast-growing movements.Wendy's is known for adopting trends like the pretzel roll and the ciambatta into its menus..Some fast food places like McDonald's and even Pizza Hut pick up the foods in the foreign counties they're in.A Chinese PIzza Hut is entirely different from one here.There's no mozzarella and toppings such as corn and squid as opposed to pepperoni and mushrooms. Could this new Denny's be acclimating itself to it's surroundings, just as the foreign based joints, blending in(although the Atlantic City Denny's doesn't offer the $300 Grand Slam Jackpot breakfast for casino winners when it should). Will the novelty of a bond trader's Denny wear off? Maybe.It all depends on if the breakfast and the restaurant are both successful,If not then it's back to simple food at simple prices.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Green Pepper Power

One of the tastiest harvests of mid to late summer is the green bell pepper.These emerald beauties can mix well with anything from salads to stew.They're great stuffed and even better just cooked on the grill.Bell peppers are the perfect veggie for any holiday cook out or dinner. John Willoughby thought this and wrote about them in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.He defended this veggie often ignored by snobbish professional chefs.The younger version of red,yellow and orange peppers are not as tasty,often having a bitter taste.This however can work in their favor.The taste is fresher and cooler than the older ones who can be a bit too sweet.Green peppers are a mainstay in both Creole and Cajun cuisine.Spanish cooking, especially Basque are rife with them.The Brazilians also use them,having bell peppers be one of the contributing flavors in moqueca in fish stew.As for stuffed peppers, the greens are always better.The flavor blends with the stuffing, whatever that may be, as opposed to overpowering them like their older versions. Mr. Willoughby,a regular, Dining contributor looks to Basque cuisine for his green bell pepper recipe.Alex Raij, owner and chef of the Manhattan Basque restaurant,Txikito .It is salted cod or bacalao.She also employs the liquid from it, This happens when the pepper is roasted or grilled and the juices settle inside.It, too, has a clean, fresh taste.This is used with olive oil poached cod.The fish rests on a puree of the veggie's flesh dashed up with some pureed poblano ,a spicier version of the bell.the finished dish is then drizzled with more pepper liquer.If you're not into cod then try another Basque recipe that both Mr. Willoughby and Chef Raiz recommend, piperade.This is simple ,ratatouille like stew that is made from peppers, onions and tomatoes.Add ham to it and it's a main dish,without it it 's a nice side.Piperade can also be used as a condiment on grilled chicken and fish. Don't be snobbish and overlook the green bell pepper.It is a refreshing alternative to the older variations of itself.Enjoy it' clean ,green taste, whether raw or cooked.It's a cool burst of the garden in your mouth.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Gloripus Galette

One of the easiest baked treats is the galette.Despite the fancy French name, it is one of the simplest pies to whip up and bake. Unlike some of it's" more complicated cousins, it can be made either savory or sweet.One week it can be made with your garden harvest, the next, with fruit from your local farmer's market.Either way you fill it it, a galette is truly special and different. Melissa Clark both explained and gave recipes for this in today's New York Times Dining section.She dedicated her weekly column, A Good Appetite to it.The galette or the Italian version, the crostata can be made by the most novice of home chefs.There's no sweating over making the perfect crust or filling.It's a very rustic form of tart and it's imperfections is what makes it so charming.As with any pie it is the crust that makes the whole dish.Ms Clark varies it for the two types however you could reinvent the recipe so that your crust is perfect for both savory and sweet.Her sweet crostata crust is rich.Think French tart instead of American pie crust.She adds a large egg, along with heavy cream and unsalted butter.There's also lemon juice and zest add to give it a nice flavor and aftertaste.For the savory sort ,she goes wholesome with rye and whole wheat flour.There is still the richness of egg butter and cream but without the sugar. One of the best things about galettes is their fillings. You can create anything you want .Ms Clark recommends using berries , stone fruits or figs.A fig filling doesn't require as much sugar because the fruits are naturally very sweet.As with any pie you can mix fillings.Try blueberries with strawberries or with cherries.Raspberry season is coming up.Think of a galette bursting with fresh picked ones.Galettes can also be filled with sliced apples and pears.A cinnamon apple galette is the perfect fall dessert, especially when served with freshly whipped cream.For any of the berries,stone fruits , such as peaches and nectarines as well as the figs, Add three to four tablespoons of cornstarch.This thickens the filling.For savory ,think tomatoes, eggplants, onions or zucchini or all together as one filling. The vegetables should be cooked before filling. Ms .Clark recommends roasting them for thirty minutes before adding to the galette.They will also cook up while baking.She recommends adding chili peppers to the semi cooked veggies to give them spice and then sprinkle the filled tart with goat cheese and thyme.You can also add meat such as ham or bacon.I would go Provencale , with tomatoes , black olives and anchovies as a filling.The web has recipes for a spinach galette.This is a versatile veggie because you can also thrown in goat cheese , bacon or mushrooms. A galette is a great way of getting into baking.It is easy to whip up and the finished product is rustic yet elegant.Make it with a savory veggie filling for a weekend supper or with fruit for a luscious dessert that's easy and quick Either way a galette is such a treat ,fun to create and fun to eat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Magical Mango

Not many fruit are as versatile as the mango.It cam add color to salad, be grilled as part of a fruit kabob, and grace a chicken.It may be considered exotic but is fast becoming part of the mainstream American diet. The mango surprisingly has something in common with it's North American cousins peaches,nectarines and plums.It is fleshy fruit with a stone.It is part of the mangifera family, a variety grown primarily for it's fruit.It is grown in abundance in Sumatra, Java and Borneo and to a lesser extent in India and Burma.Not surprisingly it is the national fruit of India,Pakistan and The Phillipines and the national tree of Bangladesh.They have even in the American diet most surprisingly since the late 1600s.It was sent to the colonies pickled and strangely enough all pickled items were then called mangoes.It's name derives from the Malayalam word ma and then the Portuguese called it manga.One of the first travel writer,Italoan born di Varthema first wrote about it around 1510".It is a carwtenoid having a put orange flesh.It is high in both Omega 3 and 6 and is well known to lower cholesterol.It has been known to halt the grown of both skin and prostrate cancer.There is one caveat , however.It's skin or rind contains urushiol the same skin irritant as poison ivy ,poison oak and poison sumac.Quickly wash your hands after handling or cutting mangoes. Mango dishes are fun .Mango salsa is one the hottest recipes today.It has several varieties so you can even improvise one. A popular recipe is combining diced mango with diced cucumber. Heat is given by jalapeño and red onion.You can also purée the mamgofor this or add lemon or lime juice.Salad with this tropical gem is zingy and a step out of the culinary comfort zone.Pair them with avocados.Again add red onion along with simple vinaigrette for a nice side to any grilled meat dish.You can also turn mangos into a dressing.Use very very ripe mangos and mix with two vinegars, both apple cider and balsamic along with a dash of water.One of the best dishes is chicken with mango.The two mild flavors play off each other.Some mango chicken dishes add dashes of cumin and turmeric for bite You could also do a mango chicken salad.Basil and onion are added as well to the cubed fruit and leftover chicken. Add to it's deliciousness by serving heaping scoops on a brioche or croissant.Of course mango is good as ice or ice cream. For both start off with a mango purée by putting mangos and lemon juice in a food processor.Also use the purée for mango coladas or mango martinis. Don't be put off by this exciting and exotic fruit. It's so versatile that you'll use if for everything, from snack to dinner to drinks.Mangos are just fun, bright and sassy, sweet and original.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Good Indulgemces

Surprisingly what's bad for you is actually good for you too.Some of what's seemingly decadent has all sorts of benefits.Even though they may taste sinful. These goodies are actually full of vitamins and antioxidants along with tremendous benefits for your body ,skin and wen hair.Not only are you treating your palate, you're also treating your body. Some lush looking meats are actually very good for you.Salmon is one of those good for you decadent fish.The taste is rich,flavorful with a smooth taste.It is greet steams or grilled, perfect with a squeeze of lemon or even lime.As we all know is its packed with essential Omega 3s , .These stave off certain cancers and even lower cholesterol.Mussels,a staple in Belgian cooking , are great bathed in a white wine sauce.They're low in calories but high in Vitamin B12 and selenium.However since they're basically filters, taking in "dirty" or contaminated sea water and spitting out purified, clean water, caution should be exercised.Contaminants and algae can sometimes be found.Mussels are good steamed in white wine but they're also tasty drenched in a healthy tomato sauce. Sop up the juices and sauce with slices of whole wheat Italian bread. Bison meat may sound like a true indulgence,thanks to it being from an animal not usually known for its meat.It's abetted alternative to the standard burger.It's loaded with zinc and Vitamin B. It's low in calories and fats so you can make yourself a quarter pounder.Emu may sound like the most exotic and the most decadent It actually has Vitamin C?The lean but tasty meat are great for athletes, because of the high concentrate of protein. What about those decadent desserts? Again it's pleasant shock to know that some of the dreamiest creations are actually good for you.Black cherries are a great snack,but also a wonderful component of any dessert.They can literally chew the fat, reducing pounds.They're also good in combatting gout and diabetes along with rheumatism.You can make a Black Forest cake however a healthier treat is a pie.Rolled oats is added to the crust for texture and more benefits.Brown sugar, much more beneficial than refined white kind, is added for sweetness.Serve this with a big scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.Mangoes which would work at any luau are another seemingingly decadent food.Yet, as with any fruit, they are chock full of good stuff.They help the body fight cancer as wells alkalize it.The fruit helps keep cholesterol in check which is perfect for those having trouble with it.Mango is good raw however yup can slice and grill it.Brush it with some margarine and again brown sugar to give it a glaze.Want ice cream?Then try any of the ones made with Greek yogurt,soy or coconut milk.These're taste as good as the real ice cream.Make healthy parfaits or ice cream pies with these.Delicious but not that sinful. If it tastes good ,it may be bad.Yet maybe not.Sometimes the best tasting, most decadent dishes are actually the most healthiest.Indulge.Enjoy.Savor.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Fake Stuff Is Actually The Good Stuff

One of the biggest complaint of any carnivore going vegan is "That fake soy meat tastes awful!" followed by "Yechh!".That may have been the case twenty five or thirty years ago.Not anymore.The fake stuff is really tasty and at times better than the real thing.Truly. One of the easiest paths into veganism is the veggie burger.It's becoming standard with even Burger King and Jake's Wayback Burgers selling them.They can be home made or store bought.Homemade ones may be tricky to create ,especially for the novice home chef.Most home made ones are usually made with black beans along with variety of spices like cumin and chile.Guy Fieri, the loud but skilled Food Channel Star, adds chick peas and rolled oAts to his.If this is too labor intensive then head to your local grocery store.Morningstar Farms has the best.Their varieties range from Asian veggie style which has water chestnuts and onions along with their take on a no meat turkey avocado burger.Morningstar Farm probably has the most extensive range of not just burgers but chicken patties and nuggets.All taste like the real deal.In fact if you present the nuggets with different sauces,from barbecue to homey mustard, no one, especially the kids would know the difference.Another tasty stand in are the chicken strips ,again, from Morning Star Farms.These are greate just sautéed in oil and margarine and flavored with garlic or lemon.You can also make a great curried chicken with them,and their flavor adds to the dish. One of my "fake" favorites is bacon.the ersatz stuff definitely tastes better than the real bacon plus it has a nicer crunch.I like the easiness of the Morningstar Brand kind. It just needs toe microwaved for two or three minutes on a paper towel.It's crispy and excellent with scrambled eggs.However for a real salty and almost identical taste, then try The Lightlife Smart Bacon.This calls for old fashioned frying in a hot pan.The strips require oil and are cooked in a big lump until cooking separates them into crispy, curly slices.It, too, has a nice crunch and is more reminiscent of Taylor ham.Vegan sausages can also pass for their meat filled cousins.Again SmartSausage is a favorite of mine.I love their Italian style with it's impact of added tomatoes and peppers?Cut the links into bite sized pieces ,add to any tomato sauce and you have a flavorful and healthy pasta sauce.Faux beef crumbles are another of my favorites.They are truly versatile and I've used them in everything from chile and tacos to sauces.They taste just like real chopped beef but without all the danger and fat. The fake stuff is actually the good stuff .Soy and bean meat substitutes are not only good for you but also tasty.The days of them being cringe worthy and yucky tasting are gone.Enjoy the ersatz stuff.It's just as flavorful and versatile as those real deals.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fresh Flatbreads At Your Fingers

Fresh baked bread has the most wonderful aroma and flavor in the world.However it can be too much to make, especially on these sweltery days.Not to despair.Flat bread comes to the rescue.Make it , grill it and then eat it in all of six minutes flat. Melissa Clark discovered this as well and wrote about it in her weekly column A Good Appetite in Wednesday's Dining section.One aspect of flatbreads that makes them more interesting than regular bread is the fact that they can be stuffed as well being baked in less than ten minutes. Any home baker can have a field day with what to put in them.She recommends cheese olive and even coconuts.Meat can also be added.Try cooked sausage or even bacon.While she recommends avocado ,Iwould try tomatoamd mozzarella.You could also try other veggies, such as cooked pepper or zucchini with a drizzle of garlic infused olive oil.Flat breads can be made plain, perfect for barbecued brochettes, (see yesterday's entry). Or even as earthy buns for sliders. As with any bread, it's the process that"s the most important.Since flatbread is a grilled instead, the dough should be cold when thrown on the grill.this eliminates the dough sticking to everything from the cutting board to the grill(and no one like to scrape burnt bread off a barbecue grate).Ms Clark's recipe is for whole wheat with honey as a sweetener.This is the most healthiest and actually original tasting however you can add white flour and a pinch of sugar if yup want.She also adds three quarters of a cup of yogurt to give the bread body.If you make the stuffed kind make. Sure you don't overstuffed the dough.Use two tablespoons of whatever filling to fill each individual flat breadFirmly press the seams together.A word of warning.Don't do this outside .Hot temps and the atmosphere will turn the dough into a paste.Form the flat breads inside and then bring them put to the prepped grill.Brush both sides with olive oil and then grill for three minutes.Flip and grill for thee more minutes.Serve hot.Sprinkle with seasalt and dip into flavored olive oil. Flatbread is an easy bread to make during these hot days.Slap it on the grill to enjoy , whether it be stuffed with tasty meats and cheeses or plain.It's a summery way to enjoy the taste and smell of fresh bread.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quick Summer Fare

Even though most store and TV are pushing the fall season , it's still summer,it's still August.That means hot day where all you want to do is eat light.Nothing beats a brochette or shish kabob.They"re fun and easy to assemble, especially for a party. David Tanis of A City Kitchen provided us with the recipes for an easy warm weather meal in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.As always the French have taken just simple roasting and turned it into a high art.Yet it was probably France's soldiers of a few centuries ago.Their swords became cooking implements at night roasting bits of meat over open flames.Brochettes are fun to make and there are all sorts of combos,from seafood such as scallops and shrimp to chicken and beef.These can be custom made ,tailored to family and friend's taste as well as dietary restrictions.Another plus is that these shish kabobs can be made the night before.leaving the day of the party free for cleaning and getting the patio ready for guests.Grilling time is only three minutes over a medium hot fire.Since this goes fast ,and they get eaten quickly , it's best to make a whole platter of about twenty sticks.Also use double skewers.This ensures that the meat won't fall off and slip into the coals. Mr.Tanis has some excellent recommendations for the skewers.For one bamboo is about the best for spearing and works well over a grill.His offerings are red chile pork and coconut curry chicken.The first is a marbled pork shoulder cut into manageable pieces .The sauce uses roasted and pureed tomatoes with the kick of New Mexico red chile powderToasted cumin is also added to balancing it out.If you want a less kickierIt still has cayenne but also turmeric and coconut to tame it down.It's made with chicken breasts ,again sliced.You could also try a London Broils sliced, marinated in just olive oil and lemon.Add sprigs of Rosemary and oregano.Mr. Tanis recommends serving the brochettes with pita (more on that tomorrow) or small rolls.I would keep the French theme with basket of thinly sliced French bread. Sides should also be kept simple.Think just plain tomatoes and a green bean vinaigrette to ladle next to the brochettes. The summer is still around.It calls for a simple to make, simple to cook meal like brochettes.Pick your favorite meats ,marinades and spices to create tasty shish kabobs, perfect for a warm night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brisket OnThe BBQ

Normally brisket wouldn't be considered something to put on the grill.Flanks steaks, and shoulder cuts ,yes ,ribs most certainly but not brisket.It"s more of a piece preferable for a slow cooker.Yet brisket , roasted over a fire actually makes sense.The plump roast is perfect for a long slow grilling , bursting with flavor. New York Times Dining section regular ,Julia Moskin , has set about to prove this right.She visits various eateries throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn,sampling slices and getting advice.Some of the best barbecue place these days are in these areas.Texas style whole briskets are now being made and served at the Mighty Quinn"s Barbecue and of all places on Hester Street.These are not really traditional roasts.Think of them more as hipster briskets for millenials.The flavor is a lighter one along with using prime grade beef instead of using a lesser quality.There is even some barbecue masters who add sauce, a usual taboo in the grilling world.Not only that sides are changing too.Instead of heavier , more calories rich dishes such as potato salad, white bread and pinto beams.Eateries like The Mighty Quinn"s decided on a roast corn and edamane salad.This is an airy side, not soaked with mayo but laced with a dressing of lime, cilantro and honey.Dennis Ngo, of Lonestar Empire infuses his brisket with his Vietnamese roots. Takes the ends and makes them into summer rolls. No matter what you eventually do with your brisket, it is relatively easy to cook.Finding a good brisket may be akin to a treasure hunt, however, according to Ms. Moskin.A whole brisket consists of two muscles, the flat and the point. The first, which is always sold on it's own, is too lean to be barbecued on it's own,braised, however, it does make a nice pot roast.The latter point must be attached for barbecuing along with the sheath of fat that covers everything..A butcher can order a whole brisket for any chef and it will only be a few days of waiting.Some stores such as CostCo .WalMart and Restaurant Depot will have them.Once had, home chefs should now break all the barbecue rules.The grill temp should be only 225-250 degrees..Also think a ten to twelve hour roast. You can take it off sooner but be prepared for a chewy fibrous texture.The brisket should be cooked in a kettle grill although most brisket lovers use a backyard smoker.You can serve it later with raw onions on onion rolls as Brooklyn'S Hometown Barbecue rolls from nearby Caputo "s Bake Shop in nearby Carroll Gardens.You can also make sliders with them ,using King's Hawaiian Rolls. Barbecued brisket is a nice vacation from the usual grilled fare.Yes it does take time but the result is worth it.A meltingly tender piece of meat that is lightly seasoned and slow cooked to perfection.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dining For One

Being single does have it's advantages, especially in the kitchen.You can make what you want when you want.You can also splurge on expensive ingredients and have it with a good wine or even champagne.That's the joy of dining for one. Eating alone can always mean sticking with favorites.One of my culinary specials is filet mignon with bagna calda sauce.This last is a blend of anchovies, butter ,oil and garlic ,cooked with the meat.It's a wonderful blend of flavors, both briny and earthy.The dish is just pure heaven.I can never make this for my friends because they have a strong aversion to the fish.(I can't even order anchovy pizza except when I'm on my own).The same applies to surprisingly enough, kale.Forget making kale chips for any kind of get togethers.Yet it's one of my favorite vegetables. Luckily I have a family who enjoys this vitamin rich veggie and enjoys both kale and Brussel sprouts chips.A splurge is usually expensive.If that's the case, wait until your supermarket has a sale or is offering coupons.You can also use alternatives.For my indulgence, it doesn't always have to be filet mignon.It could even be flank steak or beef tips. What happens if your splurge is a good chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie? What about if you crave a slice of red velvet cake? Many people find buying the whole box or cake too much.It's all that effort and time just for one slice.Bakeries can help that, with offering bigger size of your favorites.Grocery stores are now offering individual sliced cake served in a size appropriate plastic container.As for A one chocolate, many candy stores like Rocky Mountain sell individual pieces like the chocolate covered Oreos and graham crackers.If you're craving ganache or fudge, you could make those yourself. There are a million recipes on the web regarding them and you can use primo ingredients like Dutch cocoa and French butter as ingredients.What about chocolate fondue for one? It can be done and you can have a ball dipping anything and everything into it.Another great aspect of eating alone is there 's no one to shame you if you exceed your calorie count or go off your diet for a super banana split or a bottomless ice cream soda. Dining for one can be fun.You can treat yourself to all sorts of fun dishes and desserts.Best of all you don't have to share.It's all yours!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chili's All Spiced Up

Not that long ago Chili's Restaurant had basically, well, boring food, typical of what you'd find in any chain restaurant.The food was OK, with the typical array of burgers, soups and salads.It's all changed The beloved chain has given itself a spicy shake.The result? Fun, flavorful dishes. I spent lunchtime at the restaurant, excited with the new choices, It's more like it's cousin,the attached Mexican restaurant On The Border. There 's a strong Tex Mex vibe but not so loaded with fajitas and chilis( although those dishes are featured)The kitchen has embraced new food trends like flatbread which is crispy and flavorful.It's served in a long narrow dish.It was a spin on the Margherita pizza, with fresh tomatoes and basil but with the addition of a drizzle of cilantro basil pesto.The other flatbreads have the plus of chicken and avocados.The flatbread was like a crispy cracker with a tangy topping. They have many more burgers, starting with a traditional cheeseburger to burgers loaded with applewood bacon and sauces.Try their chicken quesadillas,.These are laden with chicken and cheese complete with salsa and black beans.There's also a chicken enchilada soup that is like a tasty cheese soup loaded with chicken along with another chicken soup.This is closest to a true Mexican recipe with hominy or maize added along with tortilla strips. Chili's has maintained some of it's American dishes. They still serve thickly cut steaks with a delicate garlic butter along with the traditional broccoli and mashed potatoes.There's also the homey country fried steak with a black pepper gravy along with fresh corn on the cob and mashed potatoes.Another dish that could come straight from a country kitchen is a rack of ribs graced by cinnamon apples and homestyle fries.Luckily Chili's provides lighter fare with salads and fish.The salads are not your typical fare.There's the Caribbean salad, full of fruit and veggies plus chicken along with quesadilla salad that has the addition of extra quesadillas.For those truly watching their weight, Chili's has a mango salsa tilapia,and for really healthy fare, there's salmon with just broccoli and rice.The desserts are pure Chili's , starting with the yummy skillet cookies.Diners can have the choice of the giant chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie, complete with a scoop of vanilla and drizzles of caramel or chocolate.There's also the brownie sundae and a New York cheesecake as well as the very decadent molten chocolate cake that has every decadent plus, from a candy shell to ice cream to gooey chocolate. Go to your neighborhood Chili's.It's livened up with new dishes,from Tex Mex fare to fun desserts.It's far from a boring chain ,restaurant with ho hum fair.It's amped up its dishes with new recipes and ingredients.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Neat Little Meals

One of the best aspects of a summer weekend is that it's anything goes.This includes eating.You can create a neat little meal using your imagination and whatever is around the kitchen and in the fridge.Make what you want.Eat what ypu want.It's just that simple. One of the most fun dishes to whip up is a cream cheese spread.Cream cheese, the real dairy and the soy kind is such a great base for any sort of spread.One of my favorites is a family recipe handed down from my Piedmontese side.It 's taking a whole clove of garlic, mincing it into tiny pieces and adding it to the cream cheese.Also add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil along with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. The soy version is actually easier to work with because it"s softer and creamier.Another cream cheese spread contains chopped green Manzanilla olives. .Just add about a third of a cup of the cut olives and some of the brine.Mix well until thorough Y blended.You can serve these on thin slices of French or Italian bread.I usually like the spread on crackers.A good side is salted grape tomatoes too with the rounds.They're light and filling.Another fun idea is taking tomatoes,garlic and basil ,chopping them up to make a tasty bruschetta.For some variety and weight, you could also throw in any minced Italian cold cut like pancetta, or salame.Another spin is adding tuna or minced cooked shrimp if ypu have them around. Want a more substantial hot meal?Then try soup. You could easily open a can but one bouillon cube, a cup of hot water and a slew of ingredients can create a fun meal without any mess.With the broth you can try, either beef, chicken or vegetable(you could also make these yourself and thaw enough frozen stock for one bowl of soup.Mix one eggs with shredded fresh spinach leaves for a quick stracciatella.Vegetable broth with the addition of a fresh tomatoes, onions along with celery and carrots can serve as an easy made veggie soup..You can also add half a can of corn and half a can of beans too.A cup of rice can also be a great base to any quick summer dinner.Add some beans ,along with sliced grape tomatoes for a quick rice salad.If you have any leftover chicken or beef make quick stir fry in your frying pan.Drop in some snow peas if you have ,them or actually any sliced veggies .Toss in a good dash of soy sauce and voilà, an instant hot meal.If you want a sweet meal, then make French toast.It just takes one beaten egg and two to three slices of any bread or even left over rolls.Have with butter and syrup or jam. It's the weekend.Don't sweat making a meal for yourself.Forage around until you find something you can make a meal out of and enjoy.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Feasts Of Ferragosto

Today is a holiday throughout Europe,the Ferragosto ,Mostly Italy, Greece and Spain celebrate The Aussumption when the Virgin Mary ascends into heaven.The Italians are the ones who enthusiastically observe the day with masses and, of course, food.The summer holy day is also a culinary holiday, celebrating the best of the harvest of estate, or summer. Both the north and south of the Republic have different dishes.The North offers the truly tasty Vitello tonnato, veal in tuna sauce.This is boned veal that has been marinated in wine overnight and finished with a tuna and anchovy sauce.Some enjoy grilled steak accompanied with pasta and a simple pesto sauce.Cranberry beans ,a pink and white striped bean is also served ,usually in a form of salad.A kind of ratatouille is served.This is a delicious blend of garden fresh onions, eggplant and tomatoes.Potatoes are also added.Parmesan cheese mixed with egg is then added to it to give it body.Another tasty treat that's a great beach snack is stuffed tomatoes.The filling is arborio rice mixed with basil and oregano.Potato wedges are also baked with them, a kind of French fry accompanyer .To end the meal is watermelon or cocomero.Families enjoy chilled slices, perfect foils to the salads and meat dishes.The melon can also be turned into refreshing ice as well or part of a fruit salad too. The Greeks also celebrate the day or as they call it Assumption Day.Every section has a different way of observing the day.The mainland has potatoes, beef stew and potatoes while the islands such as Karpathos ,one of the Dodecanese has seafood feasts..The island of Syros makes a special fish soup known as kakavia.This is a kind of bouillabaisse .Lobster, hake, along with smaller fish is cooked with tomato, olive oil, water and eggplant.along with the staple of Hellenic soups, lemons.Spain also celebrates, usually with families and friends visiting each other.Restaurants and even stores are closed so it's a homemade and home cooked.Grilled sardines are served at many cookouts along with various salads and wines.Some towns celebrate Noche de Vino or Night of Wine The Assumption may be a holy day but it is also a day of celebration and good summer dishes.The day is a great time to enjoy the fruits of the summer harvest with delicious food and drink.It is not only a religious holiday but a culinary one as well.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Spicy Take On Summer Corn

There's nothing like summer corn.It's sweet yet versatile, pairing with everything from butter to tomatoes.The best part is is that it can be made into any dish.One of the best is a tasty corncake,griddle cooked and topped with fresh from the garden toppings. David Tanis know this and wrote about them in his column ,A City Kitchen in yesterday's New York Times Dining section.Like most of us he prefers his ears of fresh picked and newly shucked slathered with butter and salt. However by now that can grow old.He suggests other recipes to keep up the veggie's appeal.First though, he gives a quick guide to picking the perfect ear.The husk should be a bright green and plump.There should be heft to it.That means that it's mature, with fully formed kernels and ready to take home with you.Cooking it is a matter of choice.You can easily boil it or grill it for a smokier taste.You can even microwave it.This last just requires the corn to be cooked with it's husk on and the silk(those strings that hang from it).One ear only takes three to five minutes to fully cook. Mr. Tanis opts to make corn cakes.These are a nice and tasty alternative to other corn based dishes such as chowder, creamed corn and succotash.He gives it zing with scallion and sliced jalapeño peppers.There's a homeyness to it by the addition of buttermilk and corn meal.This last is a cup and a half to give the griddle cakes a more corn cake like texture and chew.Keep the griddle medium hot to give the cakes a nice crunchy exterior.Mr.Tanis creates a kicky topping that goes well with them.This also can have your garden's or farmer's market's latest harvest.His salsa has bell peppers along with red onions and tomatoes.Lime is added to give it a Mexican vibe along with more chopped jalapenos and cilantro leaves.Sprinkle with quasi fresco, or if you don't have it, mild feta.You could also add ham bits instead of jalapeño to the batter and serve with a good dollop of sour cream or Plain Greek yogurt too for a heartier lunch or dinner. There's nothing like fresh corn to enjoy on a summer's day.However corm cakes, fresh from the griddle is taking it to a whole new level.They're a yummy way to enjoy the best of the warm weather harvest.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Skirt Steak A Grill Alternative

Everyone is probably sick of grilling the usual rib eye by now.Yes it's tasty and it looks pretty charring over coals, but it's the same cut barbecue after barbecue.Home chefs should try another cut,something succulent that's tasty and also relatively inexpensive. This can be found in the humble flank steak.It's the perfect way to get out of those grilling doldrums. Melissa Clark thought this too as she recommended flanks steak today's in New York Times Dining section.Her A Good Appetite column gives some tips about buying the cut as well as a recipe for one.Another plus is a quick sidebar about what wine goes well with it.Flank steak is actually tastier than any other cut however it's not popular.This could be due to it's length.The cuts are longer than the average beef ones, usually flipping over the sides of the frying pan or plate.This can create a lot of frustration as cooks try desperately to get the piece evenly cooked.It comes from a cow's abdominal muscles?It's at it's best when it has a bright red color.Cut the finished flank at a forty five degree angle when serving.Doing such guarantees a tender slice every time.It should be cooked between rare and medium rare.Any longer and you will wind up with a chewy ,tough piece.It also has to be cooked on a grill.An open fire is the best way although you can use a frying pan.It does have to be strikingly hot.Anothervplus is that flanks steaks are less expensive and a value price wise. MOst chefs, both home and professional marinate flank steaks.A good soak is perfect for the almost mineral flavor and loosely knit flesh. In South America where flank steak is the most preferred cut, it's usually cooked with a Chimichurri sauce, a kind of salsa verde made with parsley and basil.Ms Clark gives us a simpler recipe. Hers is with basil and aromatics for color and aromatics and peperoncino or pickled peppers for bite..This is made into a paste which is slathered on the meat before grilling. You can also try a simple oil and vinegar marinade that has an extra kick of soy and honey or just olive oil with some salt and pepper..As for an accompanying wine, Ms Clark recommends a malbec ,a deep red ,almost violet wine, that will stand up to the steak.You could also try a syrah with this or a St Joseph or a Croze Hermitage from the Rhone.To be honest any full bodied red is an exellent go with for flank steak. Flank steak is a nice break away from the usual barbecue fare of rib eyes and T bones.Try it ,coated with a fiery paste or a simple marinade.Either way, it's a succulent, juicy meat, perfect for a summer dinner.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kitchen Critters

Summer is here and with it visitors.No not relatives who want to camp out in the backyard ,but actual pests. Hot weather draws all sorts, mostly insects. Yet you can keep your cooking and eating areas pest free with being smart as well as using natural methods to get rid of them. One of the most abundant summer pests is the ant.Colonies of them start invading kitchens by March and usually go into hibernation by October or November.It's a common thought that ants will eat anything ,but they will go for sweets long before they'd go for baked goods or meats.They're particularly drawn to jams and honey.It's best to keep these in the fridge until the winter Ants will pass up salty foods so potato chips, pretzels and any other salty snacks can be left out.Ironically cinnamon, long associated with sweet treats that lure ants, acts as a repelllent.Lemon juice is another deterrent as is vinegar .If you don"t mind the mess, you can also draw chalk lines in your doorways.The insects will not cross them.Cockroaches are another problem ,mostly in multiple family dwellings.They , too, head for sweets, however they also are partial to starch and this includes a wide range from potatoes to glue..Fast food is a definite roach magnet.It has everything they like, meat, grease ,sweet and starch.Strangely, depriving them of water is the surest way of killing them.White vinegar also repels them.Some kitchens are plagued by mice. Interestingly enough they would rather have chocolate instead of cheese.It doesn't,t harm them as it does other animals.?Peppermint oil is an excellent all natural deterrent. Mice are put off by the intense aroma. There are many ways to keep your house pest free.One of the methods is keeping all food neatly stored away, whether in the fridge or plastic or glass containers.Target has an excellent selection of plastic canisters that work well for storing cereal, candies or cookies.Also keeping a clean kitchen is always a plus.Constantly wipe up cookie crumbs and throw out candy wrappers as soon as you eat their contents.For added protection , wipe down countertops with either lemon juice or white vinegar on a weekly or bi weekly basis.Get in the habit of storing everything in the refrigerator during this time. To be honest food actually tastes better when it's chilled during the summer months.Another good habit to get into is rinsing plates, bowls, and utensils before leaving them in the sink.As many as twenty or thirty ants will flock to a cake crumb or even a drop of honey.Pantries should also be checked, and be reserved for canned goods or goods put into seal tight canisters. Don't let your kitchen become a summer hangout or vacay destination for pests.Keep your cooking and eating area tidy.It's the best way not to attract unattractive dinner guests.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Quest For Healthy Snacking

Snacking is never easy.If we indulge in some sinful or tasty, then there's the guilt of eating mixed with the extra calories and fat.If we eat healthy, we have to give up flavor for something that tastes like cardboard.Luckily there's a new chip that's not only good for you but really flavorful as well. The munchie that promises everything from taste to benefits is Quest Protein Chips.This is a brand new snack.The company is known for their,good for you candies and even pasta.Each bag has twenty one grams of protein.It is low in carbs making it an excellent snack for both mid afternoon and late night. Another plus is that they are low calories too with each 32 gram bag being 120 calories.A huge benefit is that they are gluten free so anyone with gluten allergies can use these instead of crackers.Protein blend and protein isolate are also included in the recipe as well making them a tad more nutritious than the average potato chip or Pringles chip.There are three flavors, sea salt, barbecue and cheddar and sour cream. The big question is are they tasty? Most good for you snacks aren't however Quest chips is just the opposite.The sea salt flavor is pleasantly salty, has a nice cracker like texture and would work well with hummus or a veggie dip.The cheddar and sour cream is cheesy more than sour cream.I can see this crushed as a coating for fried chicken (which kind of defeats it's purpose)"The barbecue flavor has a nice ,sweet and smoky tang in the taste.Again use this too as a coating for fried or even barbecued chicken..The chips come in smaller packs ,ideal for lunch boxes and brown bags?Hopefully, there will be more flavors in the future along with Quest coming out with a line of protein enhanced pretzels, popcorn and popcorn chips. Quest Protein Chips are the ideal snack for those who want both taste and quality.Have them as a mid afternoon pick me up or a late night snack.They are the best treat for you .

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pretty Pretty Foods

Food has to look good.It's just an accepted fact.It's even more delicious when it's cut and arranged in pretty shapes.However, most home chefs are scared to attempt even a simple radish rose.Not to worry .There an excellent how to book to create everything from picturesque salad to whimsical desserts Garnishing and Decorating : Ideas For All Seasons (Schiffer Publishing, New York 2014) is the must have book, especially for those who love throwing lush and elaborate meals and dinner parties.The author, Chef Georg Hartung, has written a very good how to book.Any part of a dinner can be made pretty and it just requires patience and the right tools.He has included a chapter along with pictures of what you need to employ for edible decorations.The tools are what most home chefs have in their kitchen drawers, namely a peeler, a good sharp knife, and a fruit and veg knife.The only exotic ones are the spiral cutter which is kind of like a pencil sharpener to create pointed ends for certain veggies and the marzipan modeling tool.Also small cookies cutters are need to create some of the bases.Chef Hartung also has a how to guide for creating piping bags from parchment squares.The book's photography is amazing along with the how to ones.Each recipe has the raw materials pictured and then smaller photographs to show the various steps. Once the techniques are tried and tested, it s time to create.The edible artwork is divided into the four seasons and the patterns reflect them.For a Spring wedding try the salad with blossoms ,a simple garden mix with the addition of colorful and edible flowers.The vinaigrette is an easy yet elegant pumpkin seed balsamic one.Another is onion crowns with a fluffy tomato carrot paste.This is meant as an amuse bouche but resembles a creamy sorbet.Summer brings chocolate covered fruits with the standard strawberry and the not so usual gooseberry.There are also sweetly decorated melon boats to start a meal and pannacotta to end it.The last is wonderful creamy treat that can be topped with a lovely raspberry mash ,whipped cream and kiwi stars.For autumn there are deviled eggs, perfect for Thanksgiving or a fall family reunion.Chef Hartung offers them with a purée of salmon or chicken ,also cutting out edible carrot and cucumber chickens and fish to be placed near the eggs when they're served.Winter is the most fun with instructions on how to make cute marzipan animals, roses and snowmen.All three, especially the snowman would look adorable gracing trays of home made cookies. Creating an aesthetically beautiful meal is easy thanks to Garnishing & Decorating:!Ideas For All Seasons.Plain fruits and veggies can be turned into ethereal works of art with a few cuts and snips.Best of all anyone can follow the directions and bring up the level of their meal.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pitstop Picnics

This is the time of year when everyone hits the road for their vacay destination. With that comes food and rest stops. These are a big help because it recharges everyone 's batteries, especially for the chief driver.There's nothing like a restorative drink and meal or snacks before a long haul. Most roadways like New Jersey's Turnpike and our Garden State Parkway have rest stops with a variety of fast food joints.These are quick , a somewhat adequate replacement to packing a lunch or even dinner.Eating healthy here can be achieved however.If there's an Italian style one such as SBbarros then order pizza or pasta.These are about the healthiest and most nutritious.There are also burger places such as McDonald's or Burger King. Try their burgers or Burger King's veggie burger..As for extras, a side salad would be better than fries.There's usually an area when you can buy bottled water(stay away from the energy drinks (they"ll only dehydrate you) and packaged snacks.Go here for the bottled water(and definitely stock up on this for the trip) along with pretzels and almonds.There's usually a Starbucks or Cinnabon gracing these rest area's too.Yes ,a frosty whipped cream and syrup topped latte is treat however stick to plain black iced coffee or iced tea.These are better for you and have less calories.Better stay clear of the baked goods,opting instead for an apple or banana. The best fuel at a pit stop are the sandwiches and salads you make at home and bring along.Your family can have salads along with cold cuts. This last can be bought at your supermarket's deli counter.One, the meat is actually cheaper than the packaged stuff and two, there's not that many nitrates in the curing process.Buy different kinds to satisfy everyone's tastes.If there's any leftovers .repackage them and store them in your cooler for later at the motel or hotel.You can pre make the sandwiches and individually wrap them or bring bring a loaf of French and Italian bread,and make the sandwiches fresh.Some outdoor rest stops have grills and you can make fresh grilled hot dogs and burgers you have the time too.Salads are always welcome and you can drizzle them with oil and vinegar instead of mayo which can go bad if not properly refrigerated.Try a Cole slaw an apple cider vinegar dressing or just olive oil and basil for a tomato and mozzarella salad.Have nips or mini bottles of juice , iced tea and water for drinking.Snacking could be pretzels along with fruit and those low calorie cookie packs.All travel well and better than some of the junk that the stops offer. A pitstop picnic is always fun and always restorative.Eat and drink healthy on these .You'll feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the next leg of your journey.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Basket Of Eggplants

Gardens and farmers markets are yielding up the fleshy, delicious beauties otherwise known as eggplants.Like their cousins,the tomatoes, these veggies have all different kinds and can be grilled, fried or roasted to create interesting and exotic dishes.A home chef can get lost in the many sorts and with them create a different meal every day. David Tanis wrote about them in yesterday's A City Kitchen column in yesterday's New York Times Dining section,The eggplant world is expanding.Not that long ago there was only the deep purple kind, thickly sliced and then dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried.These were known as " poor man's oysters" and served only with a lemon wedge and salt.To add more zing tomato sauce and mozzarella were put on the already cooked sliced, baked almost like a casserole and called Eggplant Parmesan.Both dishes are still tasty but it's time to try other kinds and other recipes?Italy may have given us the second dish but they're also given us another genus, the Rosa Bianca, a pale lavender colored ones, now gracing farmers markets throughout the US..Home chefs looking for something unique should visit Chinese markets .These sell the magenta hued kind.There are also eggplants from Southeast Asia, the size of a cherry tomato and multicolored.Japanese stores carry sleek, shiny elongated ones from their country. The eggplants that Americans use should be a glossy deep purple.It's called the Black Beauty.It should be firm with a green calyx, the caplike pod that attaches the fruit(and yes the eggplant is a fruit) to the stem. This ensures that the eggplant's flesh will be sweet with very little seeds.Mr Tanis has included a baba ghanouj type recipe.This is a great way to enjoy them and also a good dip for any summer party.It starts with charring the fruit until the skin blisters.The flesh should be smooth right now and ready to be pureed.Cut it into quarters and then scoop it out.Put this in a food processor along with tahini paste and lemon juice.Add toasted and crushed cumin seeds along with cayenne and paprika.Drizzle in olive oil for smoothness..Throw in parsley and mint.Toasted pita chips work well with it but you can also have toasted and thinly sliced baguettes to dip in too. This is the height of season for eggplants.Try an exotic and smokey spread or have slices dipped in egg and bread crumbs, fried to a golden crunchiness.Anyway you have it, just enjoy the eggplant's earthy sweetness.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Shrimp Facts

Everyone love shrimp.It's so common that it"s part of our weekly diets,,thanks to fast food chains and all you can eat buffets.Yet do most shrimp lovers know what kind they're really eating? Is this love helping or harming the environment? it 's not just prawns in cocktail sauce anymore.It's a whole new world, as deep and complex asvthe oceans that give us these tasty morsels. Luckily regular contributor,Kim Severson,The New York Times Wednesday Dining section explored this along with giving us really good recipes.There's a wealth of knowledge to grasp before buying shrimp though.Most shrimp come from Asia, primarily Thailand .However if you're fortunate to live in the Southeast, you have your own kinds.The Gulf Coast produces brown shrimp ,from the Gulf of Mexico.This is an acquired taste because the shrimp has a strong iodine taste yet most natives of the area swear only by it.The waters off South Carolina gives us white shrimp while eastern Florida has pink.The Sunshine State also has the much treasured Royal Reds, a rare variety because they are pulled from very deep water and spoil quickly.As with salmon, there are shrimp farms on both American coasts.When buying in your local grocery store make sure that the shrimp have their shells still on.Shelled varieties are usually treated with chemicals to preserve them.Also look for the letters I.Q.F. Which stands for individually quick frozen..The lack or abundance of the crustacean on the market also depends on the season, government regulations and reproductive cycles. Shrimp also come with an environmental price too.Firstly the are affected by pollution. Louisianan shrimpers saw this when BP created that ghastly spill a few years ago.The result is deformed animals that can't be eaten and must be discarded..Other animals suffer too in the shrimping industry.Fish and turtles get caught in the large nets that shrimpers use however there are now devices that they must use.This allows freeing the turtles.Before buying research where the store or fish market has acquired them.Despite all this shrimp always has been and still is addictive.They meld well with any seasoning and cooking method.Ms Severson offers some tasty recipes such as spiced salt baked shrimp.This is a salt rub, enhanced by cardamon, cinnamon and peppercorns and baked around the shrimp in a kind of casing.there's also a scampi made with wild shrimp along with pan roast shrimp with mescal, tomatoes and arbor chiles..The last is broth cooked and fired up with poblamo chiles and a shot of the Mexican liqueur ,mescal.This last is the perfect dish for a Saturday night with friends. Shrimp may be a simple dish to create but it comes with a complexity of quandaries.The best bet is having an open dialogue with your purveyor about it's origins and how it was caught.Then enjoy it.It's is excellent in a salt rub or spice with peppers or a shot of mescal.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mom's Best Cereals Healthy And Fun

There's always a quandary when it comes to breakfast cereals.Do you give the family healthy when they want sweet? Do you give in then and feel guilty because you're basically feeding them garbage? Don't despair.Mom's Best Cereals is here to save the day. This brand is brilliant.It plays on some of the unhealthy kind like Lucky Charms and Coco Puffs with a healthy spin.It also is one of the country's oldest, started in 1919 by Joseph Campbell.The original name was Malt-O-Meal (hence MOM)They're now the third largest cereal company in the US.The founder created away of melding both farina and malted wheat.There are still Malt-O-Meal cereals out there such as the original as well as chocolate and maple and brown sugar.MOM has a good chunk of the market,their Three Sister brand is a staple at both WalMart and Whole Foods.They also have Better Oats and several other types of farina,oatmeals and cold cereals.Mom's Best Cereal is one of the most popular in the New York metro area being sold in stores such as Stop&Shop and Target. Mom's Best Cereal is one of my favorites and the only cold cereal that I'll eat.It really is one of the healthiest with no high fructose corn syrup or artificial dyes.Another plus is that all the flavors are gluten free.It is high in much needed magnesium and relatively low in calories.One of my favorites is their Honey Nut Toasty Os .These are a take on the Honey Nut Cheerios and they are just truly tasty.I like the fact that they're sweetened with honey and not sugar.Pair it with almond milk and it's the perfect start to the day(along with making a good night time snack too)I have also tried their Mallow Oats, a natural twist on Lucky Charms.To be honest I wondered how the manufacturers were going to make this all natural ,with the colored marshmallow pieces .They did.The marshmallows are all natural with all natural dyes such as blueberry and beet y taste like the other brand( from what I can remember) and were a fun vacation from the oats.I'm looking forward to trying the Honey Ful Wheat and the Oats And Honey .These are also gluten free. If you 're looking for a cereal that will satisfy you and your family look to Mom's Best Cereal. They're both healthy and tasty. That's all you need to start the day off right.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Healthier Ice Cream Treat

August is the time for ice cream and ice cream sandwiches.True, they are delicious but kind of limited in their flavors.It's usually the same chocolate cracker with only a few filling choices.Not to worry .There's a new recipe book out that offers tons of options.The best part they're all homemade and healthy! Vegan cook, Kris Holechek Peters has come up with an ingenious book aptly called " Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches" (Ulysses Press 2014).This slim book is chock full of good all natural cookie and ice cream recipes.Separately both treats are good on their own.Together they are heavenly.This is a great book for the lactose intolerant and those who want to get away from dairy and eggs.There is am introductory chapter in which Ms. Holechek Peters explains why and how to use the milk substitutes such as soy milk, coconut milk and raw cashews( although she also suggests using almonds and macadamia nuts).The ice creams are easy to make, the mixtures being thickened by all natural thickeners such as tapioca and arrowroot as well as guar gum and coconut oil.The cookies again, great on their own also have healthy ingredients like unbleached flour, evaporated cane and brown sugar,along with non dairy margarine.(although you can use regular),One the two components are made, assemblage is easy and kids will love scooping and sandwiching, probably testing both. What I love is the variety of different ice creams and cookies.For traditionalists there is the standard chocolate cookie with vanilla ice cream filling.Chocolate lovers will love the double chocolate sandwich and the fun X Ray sandwich.These are vanilla cookies with a chocolate middle.There is also the pairing of homemade sorbets and cookies too.For an entirely refreshing treat try the lemon raspberry pucker sandwiches.The cookie is a snap made with the unusual ingredient of cornmeal.The filling is a sherbet of fresh raspberries.Another truly neat one is a spin on the non alcoholic drink Shirley Temple.Ms. Holechek Peters pairs a chewy cherry cookie with a lemon lime sherbet.Of course there are plays on ice cream standards with an homage to the banana split, orange dreamsicle and a root beer float with homemade root beer ice cream!She even includes sandwiches for cold weather holiday desserts? Imagine ending a Thanksgiving or fall Sunday dinner with pumpkin snicker doodle or cranberry gingersnaps sandwiches. There are nods to the coffeehouse with chai ice creamed filled sandwiches and a neat coffee infused treat. Spend these balmy August days makes dreamy treats.Use Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches to create tasty and healthy ice cream sandwiches.They're a departure from the usual fare plus, they not only good tasting but good for you!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Summer Gift For A Summer Party

Party or dinner invites usually mean bringing some kind of gift to the hosts.This is easy in the winter.Colder weather means you can buy a nice cake or even brandy to the table.Candy is also welcome during the winter season. problem is you really can't bring any of these to a summer gathering.What to do? Chill.Literally.Bring gifts that are cool and refreshing. One of the best host gifts is fruit.It travels well and unlike cake, won't become warm and gooey.Many supermarkets sell fruit trays with prettily cut melon, watermelon, strawberry and even pineapple.Some supermarkets such as Stop & Shop and The A&P also include a vanilla cream or yogurt dip.This is one of my favorites to bring to any warm weather backyard party.There is such a variety that everyone gets to have their favorite.The pieces are cut the same so they're perfect for kids to nibble on.I also bring cookies, usually just the plain butter kind for added oomph.Of course, even a small watermelon is welcome.It can be easily sliced and always refreshing after a spicy barbecue.If you're bent on bringing something homemade, then stick with easy crumbles or crisps.These are great way of taking advantage of summer harvests along with being easy to prepare and bake.Another idea is making a Jello no bake or an easy cream pie using instant pudding and ready made crusts.Make the pies the night before so they're perfectly chilled for the gathering. No one can go wrong with wine.or even champagne at a summer bash.Remember to pick one that goes with the main course, whether it be fancy or plain.Try a Merlot or a Pinot Noir if the fare being served is chicken or chops?for fish or shellfish gift your hosts with a nice Sparkling Chardonney.Sauvignon Blanc makes an excellent accompaniment For lighter fare such as lemon grilled chicken or vegetables.This white also is good with salads.Just a thought, the wine also depends on if there's a barbecue sauce on the meat too.Choose accordingly with this because the last thing you want is the wine warring with the sauce's sweetness or heat.Surprisingly even hot dogs can be paired with wine(although if you want ,some good ale or hard apple cider would maybe more appreciated)Even more startling Asti Spumente would be an excellent choice with wieners and even burgers.The bubbly sweetness plays off the unami flavors of the grilled food, sort of like the way Coke or Pepsi does.You could also try a Rose ,not only with these but with nachos and dip. Go chill with summer party gifts for your host.A fruit tray or a good bottle of iced wine is always a nice way of saying thank you for the invite.They're not too fussy , only simple and good ,the way a summer gathering is.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Your Fridge On Holiday

This is the height of the vacation season.Even your kitchen gets a holiday when you're away,,well, sort of gets time off.Your fridge will still be working.However food still will go bad if it's not being used.Before you pack your bags, clean out your refrigerator. Fridges and even freezers are usually crammed full, even during the summer.The best bet is to decide what needs to be tossed and what needs to stay.One of the most spoilable is milk.You can drink it use it in recipes or bring it with you if you have a cooler.If you run out of it a day or two before vacation, then buy Parmalat, the boxed and sealed milk.It also comes in smaller boxes, but this can be used for cereal too.Sour cream and yogurts can stay however, if they're unopened.Remind everyone in the family to not put their half eaten yogurt snacks back in the fridge.Try to share them before you go.Luckily eggs have a longer shelf life and can last anywhere from a month to six weeks in a cold environment.If you have cracked eggs, use them right away or you'll come back to an ice box that smells like a sulphur pit.Cold cuts, that hot weather staple, can last about thee or four days, especially if you got them fresh from the deli.Eat them if they're still good.If not, toss. Many home chefs keep their fruit , vege and even herbs in their refrigerator. Peaches and plums can last five days before rotting. .This also applies for berries too.Bananas keep for about a week.Luckily fruit makes a great snack or dessert so you can get rid of it quick.Tomatoes and other veggies last a week too,but again you can get rid of them too.Make BLTs or tomato sandwiches to use up not only the veggies but any leftover bacon ,bread and mayo.Herbs can keep only for a few days before losing their flavor.Again any green from basil to dill can be used in a variety of hot and cold dishes.Use basil as a topping in mini pizzas. Put the dill to good use in a variety of store-bought or homemade salads.You can even make foil packets and bring the herbs with you on vacation.As for the canned and bottled stuff, they're good as long as the lids are tightly screwed on.It is good to be prepared for a power shortage when you're away.Give a spare house key to a friend or relative to check the fridge after a power outage.Tell them to throw put anything that has an odor.Also have them check the freezer and have them Ro Chuck anything that's been melted and refrozen. Your fridge will still be working hard while the rest of your kitchen takes a much deserved rest..Make it easy though by cleaning it out.You"ll come back rested with a fridge that had a holiday on it's own.