Saturday, May 31, 2008

My breakfast buffet

First of all, I had some camera problems, so some shots were just not available.

We had the breakfast buffet at Trump's Taj Mahal, and it was good, but a little disappointing. It was all my fault. We went in at 10 or so, and I assumed it was brunch. Nope, breakfast only. And, the average age was somewhere between 90 and 119. I ranted about old people at a buffet at my Crotchety Old Man blog, so you may want to read that later.

But I digress. I decided to take pictures of my breakfast:


Notice the nice healthy muchroom and onion omelet. Pay no attention to the hash browns. And the corned beef hash was immediately passed over to the Mrs. after the photo op. It wound up my plate because, again, my fault, I mentioned to the Mrs. that they had corned beef hash. I'm sure if I had noticed a fish eye and pig intestine stew, that would have been served up, too. She means well, though.

But the highlight of the meal, and not available due to the stupid camera (I do have 11 other pictures of the omelet, though) wasn the toast. Yes! The designers of the breakfast buffet had the good sense and foresight to include, seperately from themish mash of all the other breakfast foods, a "Toast Station." It was more like a Toast Island, an oasis of toasted perfection in a sea of mediocrity. I selected a thick slice of rye. It was inserted onto the conveyor belt, and then emerged, bursting with well toasted goodness on the other side of the high speed toaster. It was then slathered with copious amounts of sweet creamery butter.

Tea and toast, the centerpiece of a perfect meal.

I'll be back later. Lots of meals to catch up on. And more pictures of my vacation meals.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Atlantic City, Here I Come

I'm going to Atlantic City for a few days, and while gambling is the main reason most folks go to a casino, foodies also know how important casino dining can be.

We will be at Trump's Taj Mahal. They have some really great dining available. Casino's are well-known for buffet dining. To be truthful, most buffets are a sucker bet. The food is usually awful. We have gone to the buffet at the Showboat because they usually give us a coupon, and that makes it cheap. It certainly doesn't make it good, though.

Trump's Taj, though, is different.

They have the Sultan's Buffet. While much smaller than Showboat's, the quality is easily seen. Last time the Mrs. had steak, and it was wonderful. Yeah, I said good steak on a buffet menu.

I'm not much of a meat eater, so I went for the pasta. It was excellent, aldente even on a buffet table.

But the highlight of the Sultan's Buffet for me is the dessert table. Again, slightly smaller than the Showboat's, but infinately better. I can't get exited about soft serve ice cream, but German chocolate cake, Italian pastries, and those kind of things really threaten my sugar levels.

It's hard to choose only one or two.

I'm leaving in a little while. I'll try to get and post some pictures of the best of the best.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Trimming the Food Bill Naturally

Every day, it seems, TV shows consumers complaining about rising food costs, and the news gives sobering facts about how much prices have risen world-wide.

Some staples have doubled or tripled. The most surprising thing about all this is that we waste so much food. Studies within the last few years ago have suggested that Americans and Canadians throw out about 25% or more of the food purchased.

Grocery stores also have what is considered shrinkage (stop snickering, Seinfeld fans.) That is, foods that are tossed either due to being outdated, or gone bad. Part of the problem is that we have too many choices. Walk in to almost any large grocery store, find mountains of various kinds of apples. In the dead of winter, find two or three (at least) types of tomatoes. Same with lettuces and other greens. Fresh foods are mounded to show plenty.

My grandparents never ate like this. When grandma went to the corner store, she had what was in season with very little variation. And Mr. Baccigalupe had only what he was going to sell in the next day or so on hand. And no one would even think of having fresh tomatoes in December.

I can remember a store in our little New Jersey town that only sold citrus. They were closed most of the year, and only opened up when the crop came in. My grandparents ate what we like to call “seasonally” because they had no other option.

But rather than feeling badly for them, I realized they were doing a lot of things right.

For the most part, they were eating locally, which is environmentally friendly. They were eating the freshest foods, again, getting the maximum vitamins and minerals.

Lastly, they were getting the best of the best. For anyone who has ever taken a tomato, still warm from the sun, sliced it and put it between 2 slices of bread slathered with peanut butter (ok, mayo for the provincial purists) knows nothing tastes better.

If anyone has ever picked corn, and gone in the house to drop it into some boiling water, knows niblets from the land of the Jolly Green Giant doesn’t compare, let alone some dreck shipped from “parts unknown.”

Start eating seasonally. The stores will catch on, and the grocery bill will come down. Plus the family will be eating better than ever.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Top Chef Show Review

I like cooking shows. A lot. I almost never use the recipes I see, but I learn from them. I have a take what I want and leave the rest attitude is how I would best describe it.

I can "taste" many of the dishes, as I can imagine how they would be. For example, the show I saw today, one chef prepared a cheesecake using gorgonzola cheese. Not very traditional, but I can imagine how it was, creamy, and sweet, but with subtle undertones with the zip of blue cheese. Sounds great, and is the kind of interplay I like in my foods.

Occasionally, a dish will be made that I can't do this with, and today, such a dish was presented. It sounded gross and disgusting. I almost expected the judges to fall in love with it. This expectation came from my familiarity with Iron Chef Japan in which absolutely strange dishes were considered delicacies.

Fortunately, the judges on Top Chef seem to be more stable. And when presented with scallops in a butterscotch sauce (you read that right--freakin' butterscotch) they were suitably disappointed. That must be what happens when the judges are chefs and food critics, and not actors and fortune tellers.


"I should have gone with chocolate covered tuna"

Friday, May 23, 2008

Balsamic Vinegar trick

Balsamic vinegar is one of my favorite ingredients. It is available in many different qualities or grades or vintages, if you will. The price for some of the better, aged vinegars go for some serious coin.

A lot goes into making aged balsamic. Here's the process:

while it ages and gradually evaporates, the liquid is transferred to successively smaller casks made of different woods, absorbing the flavour characteristics of each wood and becoming more concentrated with each transfer. Oak, mulberry, chestnut, cherry, juniper, ash, and acacia are the most commonly used woods

That explains why it is so expensive, costing $100 or more for a rather small bottle. A few years ago, we received a bottle as a gift. It was wonderful, but didn't last very long. Mario Batali tells the story that his grandmother received a bottle as a wedding gift, and used only a drop or two in very special dishes, so the bottle lasted many years.

But I found a trick. I buy 2 bottles of balsamic at Trader Joe's. This is pretty decent vinegar from Modena, aged 8 years. I then take both bottles and pour them in a little saucepan. Simmer until the vinegar reduces by half. Cool, and pour back into one bottle.

You now have vinegar that tastes very similar to the much more expensive tiny bottle of 30 year-old balsamic for about 10% of the price. And, because it is affordable, it can be enjoyed more than a drop at a time.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vacation Dining Adventures Part 2

This is the second and probably last part of my series on vacation dining at some of the finest resorts in the world. Ok, the finest resorts in Southern NJ, specifically the Atlantic City/Cape May area.
When we go away, we like to stay at decent hotels. We are every bit as happy at a Motel 6 as at a 5 star hotel. After all, the main reason we go away is to experience local culture, not to watch local TV in a hotel room. Generally, we do little more than sleep in the room, so the room is usually not that important.
We found a great place to stay a few miles out of Atlantic City (actually about half-way between AC and Cape May.) It's called the Pier 4 Motel in Somers Point, NJ, and it is terrific for a number of reasons. It's very reasonably priced. It costs half or a thrid the price of a place to stay in AC or Cape May. To save hundreds a night, we'll travel the 20 mnutes it takes to get to the casino. Same with visiting beautiful Cape May. We'll pocket those Benjamins and use them at the restaurant right next door to the Pier 4.

The Mrs. and I are foodies, you knew there had to be another reason for us to choose this place.

They serve a free continental breakfast, that is so far from the traditional free breakfasts I have seen, it's almost hard to call it that. We have been in hotels (some fancy name ones) that "continental breakfast" means a box of Krispy Kreme donuts (and you better get there early before they run out) and coffee. The feature at the Pier 4 is fresh baked mini blueberry muffins. Plenty of waffles, cereals, pastries (I'm starting to have a diabetic incident here) but those muffins are the most wonderful taste treat. We go and get them and bring them up to our room to have breakfast on our tiny outdoor balcony overlooking the bay.

We usually eat a late lunch next door at the Crab Trap. This is one of the finest seafood restaurants around. The meal starts out with hot rolls, and........warm blueberry mini muffins. Oh yeah, those same great muffins from the hotel next door.
The restaurant menu features such great starters like BBQ'd clams, and too many to list here. For a main course I usually have the Crab Imperial. Delicious and so rich, I can take half back to the hotel for the next day.

Then, at night, they have live music at the Tiki Bar next to our hotel. Few things are more satisying than enjoying an adult beverage while listening to music and feeling the soft, warm breeze wafting across me. It's a bit of paradise in New Jersey.

If you go away this summer, give the local places a try. Chains like Red Lobster, and MickeyD's are pretty much the same as back home. But the Crab Trap, and places like that, are perfect to enjoy while on vacation.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vacation dining adventures Part 1

I don't do restaurant reviews because most of my reviews would be for places in Central NJ, and how few readers would that serve?

I live in an area with many great places to eat within minutes of me. Heck, within 30 minutes, we have had at least 4 restaurants featured on different Food Network shows. And that doesn't include the ones featured on various "Dining in NJ" type shows that have been on the Travel Channel and on Food Network.

But, since vaation season is fast approaching, it would be a good idea to let everyone know about some of the great places to eat in Jersey near our resort areas. Yeah, we have resort areas.

My favorite "Must See" is Yesterday's Heroes Ballpark Cafe in Cape May. This is a theme restaurant, which often means overpriced bad food and lots of sceaming kids. I've been there a few times, and the kids were well behaved. Usually we go during the day, when it's not crowded. The food is simple fare, heavy on burgers and things like that. Most have cutesy names, like Jimmy Key Lime Pie. (Jimmy Key was a pitcher who spent some great seasons with the Yankees) I usually choose Joe Pepitone's linguini or whatever it was called. It's a hearty portion of a spicy dish, loaded with shrimp. The Mrs. leans towards burgers, and again, very tasty, and everything is moderately priced. But that is not the only reason we go there. The Cafe has one of the best collections of baseball memorabilia around. Some of the truly weird and wonderful. You may notice when first arriving many women sit alone at the tables, facing an empty chair with a Coke sitting in front of it. That's normal, because the man is usually wandering around the room looking at all the "stuff." And it's great stuff. A lot of memorabilia from the Mick and the Babe. Jersey's from various players line the walls, and signed baseball fill a huge display. I could go on and on, but won't. Just take my word for it. If you find yourself in the Cape May/ Atlantic City area, it's worth the trip to the Ballpark for any baseball fan.

I'll be back later with another dining adventure in the Cape May/Atlantic City area.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My big weekend

Did a lot of fun food stuff this weekend. The Mrs. fired up the new coffee maker. She had a Kona blend, and I had Italian something or other. Both were delicious. We both take ours with just some soy milk, no sugar, so the full coffee effect comes through.

I also had some fresh watermelon. I know it's not local, because we are a few months away from that here in beautiful Downtown, New Jersey. She bought it at a place called Delicious Orchards. I have no idea what she paid, but it had to be a lot. I have found, the more quaint the name and setting, the higher the price. The cheapest food prices are usually found at stores with names ending in Rite, Town, or Mart. Anything ending in Orchard, Grove, or Acres and you can almost be assured they will have a loan officer on duty.

By the way, Delicious Orchards is wonderful, albeit somewhat pricey. They have a lot of baked goods made right on the premises. The Mrs, did bring home a tray of brownies that were fantatstic. Really chocolatey. I have had an epiphany concerning chocolate lately. I checked the calorie count in a brownie, and find it's a bargain for chocoholics like me. I can have half a brownie (around 100 calories) and its chocolate goodness satisfies me as much as a much higher calorie candy bar.

I only hope it's not like the Seinfeld episode where the yogurt place lied about the calories in a serving.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

MMMM Sunday morning

I haven't had my favorite Sunday morning breakfast in a few months. It's a diabetics nightmare, so I have been avoiding it. I will give in soon, though, I'm sure.

Here's my way to start a Sunday:

Start with Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake Mix. Add the water as directed.

Add in some chopped pecans

Add in some fresh fruit (blueberries or strawberries rock!)

Then just make them on a griddle.

Serve with butter and pure maple syrup. Please don't use that artificial junk.

Give me a hot cup of coffee to go with it, and it's a meal of meals. Perfect start to a perfect day.

By the way, the Mrs. serves me a special coffee most days. She mixes in a package of Swiss Miss instant hot cocoa in my mug to make my ordinary coffee a mocha latte.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Welcome to our newest family member

We take our appliances very seriously in my home. First, we don't have a lot of them. A food processor, the uber toaster, a dust-covered bread maker (it was a gift)and an old coffee maker is pretty much it. I admit I like the bread maker for making dough. I then bake the bread seperately, usually as rolls or for pizza.

Oh wait, we do have a microwave and juicer (both gifts--why does everyone always give us appliances that we won't use?) The microwave is used to store the food processor and all it's components. The juicer? I have no idea where that is, for all I know it has been donated to Goodwill long ago. Anyway, the Mrs. bought a one cup coffee maker at Sears the other day. It was on sale, and she decided we deperately needed one.

I am normally opposed to buying excess crap unless it's a toy I like. In fact, she hid it from me for a few days. I think I'm going to make an exception for the coffee maker. It seems to make her happy, and that's what life is all about. At least she didn't buy another pair of shoes. Last I counted, that woman had more than 50 pairs.

I need to get some coffee.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Easy "Roasted" Garlic

This is one of the greatest recipes ever. It is so ridiculously easy, I almost feel badly about calling it a recipe.

Everybody has had roasted garlic. It's pretty easy to make, but requires heating the oven, and it's kind of messy. Try this method instead:

Take a large amount of cleaned garlic. By cleaned, I mean out of the husk or whatever you call that stuff covering the cloves. Because I am incredibly lazy, I buy garlic in bulk at Costco or BJ's in a container of ready to use garlic cloves. Dump them in a pot (I usually use about a 1 qt. or so pot) and them cover them with olive oil. Use good oil, preferably extra virgin (trust me on this.)

Then turn up the heat to what could be considered a simmer, I guess. Be careful, oil can "spit" or splatter early on. Anyway, let it go until it starts to turn light golden. Better to turn it off a bit early than too late, as it will keep cooking for a few minutes after the heat source is removed. And if garlic is over done it gets bitter. One can always simmer it a little more, if needed. After trying it a few times, you'll get better at timing it just right so the carryover heat "roasts" the garlic to perfection. Sometimes, I cool it, remove the small pieces, and cook the big ones a bit longer.

Let it cool down, and remove all the garlic and put it into a container.

Here's the good part. This will taste just like roasted garlic, and can be spread on toasted French or Italian bread, and will be terrific in recipes that call for roasted garlic (like in pasta.) We like to add a few cloves to a salad. Roasted garlic is almost buttery in texture, and moderately sweet tasting.

Now, here's the bonus that really makes this a super recipe: after the oil cools, put it back in the oil bottle, and you will now have the most wonderful garlic infused oil for salads and pastas. One easy cooking method, two high-priced gourmet products, for one low price.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Olive oil primer

Simple and healthy, yet delicious. What could be better?

Last night's dinner was some sauted frozen organic spinach, tossed with some heated leftover spaghetti. Then just drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on some shredded Roman cheese, grind on a bit of red pepper, and enjoy.

Two things I have found over the years. All olive oil isn't the same. I have been using an extra virgin oil from Sicily that tastes really delicious. Try different ones to find what you like. Also, a trick to using extra virgin, is to add it at the end of cooking. Just drizzle it on to add flavor to your dish. It gives more bang for the buck that way. The Mrs uses very little to cook with as we use Todd English's Green Pans, then adds oil at the end. A side note on cookware. Green Pans are the newest nonstick cookware. We use them because they can endure higher heat without the breakdown associated with Teflon. They also do not chip like Teflon.

Here's the differences in oils (occasionally, one may find some slight variations as some terms are stil not fully defined)

Extra virgin--the best and most flavorful. It is fruity, and from the first pressing. Usually a dark, rich color, with a pleasing aroma. It is generally from what is known as the first pressing, and about all that is done to it is the olive is washed and the oil is filtered.

Virgin olive oil--Little difference between this and extra virgin. It can be a blend from different regions

Olive oil--Usually made from lower quality oils, and is more highly refined and filtered, sometimes through charcoal. Not very flavorful, and can be used for deep frying or other applications where the oil flavor is not that important.

Lite or Light Olive Oil--I am reminded of an old Our Gang short, where the kids made lemonade by dipping fresh lemons in water.

Blended olive oil--dreck

Olive Oyl--Popeye's girlfriend


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

No surprise at Hell's Kitchen

Last night was the traditional contest where Gordon Ramsey tested the palates of his chefs. And, every year, as usual, he was disappointed. This year was as bad as ever, as the chefs were tricked before the contest. Ramsey served them chicken parm, beef stew, and ravioli, and the chefs were asked to guess what was the missing ingredient. The closest anyone came was that one suggested the meat was of a strange consistency. The missing ingredient in every one was the meat. Soy based meats were used to replace the meat, and not one professional chef, aspiring to work for Ramsey in a dream job knew that. I've had plenty of soy based meats, and while many are pretty good, not one tasted exactly like meat. And the consistency was so different, it was almost impossible to not know it wasn't meat.

On to the rest of the challenge. Various foods were tasted blindfolded, and the chefs were able to identify less than half of them. The best anyone did was 2 out of 3. My point in all this? I pointed out, long before the challenge, to my wife that the chefs all smoked. I wondered why anyone who relied so heavily on their palate would smoke and dull it? Makes no sense to me. Anyone who so depends on one of their senses would be foolish to intentionally dull them.



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What's for dinner tonight?

It's going to be a favorite. The Mrs. takes ground turkey and browns it. She then mixes in some packaged taco seasoning spice, and serves it with soy cheese melted over it and salsa. Sort of like a taco dip. Maybe it would be more like nachos. Either way, it's really good. And she serves it with organic blue, low-salt tortilla chips.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Dinner

Ever since I was a little toast crumb eater, Sunday dinner has been an important meal. It was the one time when the family tried to get together and have a favorite meal. At my parent's home it was always pasta with sauce. Ok, technically it was gravy, but I'm not going to quibble over that. My absolute favorite meal was rigatoni with ground beef in the tomato sauce. And I covered it with a veritable blizzard of Romano cheese.

Today, I'm not too different. Though I usually prefer the sauce a little different. My wife makes it with Griller Crumbles, lots of chunky onions and/or mushrooms, some hot pepper flakes and just a sprinkling of shredded Romano cheese.

And the rigatoni has been replaced by whole grain spaghetti. As I get older, I have made compromises. I sometimes miss the heavy meals, but I'm pretty happy with today's choices.

Here's my basic tomato sauce recipe:
bear in mind, I don't measure, so these are approx
1 small-medium onion (finely chopped)

2-3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

dried basil (about a tablespoon usually I just cover the sauce as it's in the pot, so I'm guessing on the amount)

dried oregano (about a tablespoon usually I just cover the sauce as it's in the pot, so I'm guessing on the amount)

pinch of salt (optional)

couple grinds of black pepper (optional)

small can of tomato paste

olive oil (about a tablespoon)

3 large cans of tomatoes (whatever is on sale, either crushed or whole--I prefer 2 cans crushed and 1 can pureed)

1 splash or so secret ingredient (revealed later)

Sweat the onions in the bottom of the pot (3 qt or so)

add the garlic and saute briefly.

then add the tomato paste and mix it in a little (sort of cook it?)

Then dump in the tomatoes. If using whole canned tomatoes they can be put in blender first, or just broken up by hand.

Simmer on low for about an hour.

Add the spices, stir in well.

Then add the secret ingredient.

This is either a splash of wine or some balsamic vinegar. Let simmer for about another 15 minutes or so.

If at becomes too thick, just add water. Too thin? Simmer longer.

This is a basic sauce. Add chicken, beef, sausage, or pork at the beginning for a slightly different taste. The meat will be delicious, too. And the acid in the tomatoes will make it really tender. Just be sure to simmer a little longer if meats are added. (closer to 2 hours total)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

M & Ms Update

M & Ms has a limited edition Mint Crisp Edition featuring Indiana Jones in a green wrapper.


I read on various candy blogs (yes, you read that right, there are candy blogs Photobucket) that they taste like Girl Scout Thin Mints.

I can understand that. They are chocolatey, crispy, and minty, like Thin Mints. I thought they tasted more like a slightly less minty Junior Mint, with a satisfying crunch. Oy maybe an Andes mint with a crunch might be closer to the taste.

Bottom line, they are wonderful. Maybe even better thzan wonderful. And my favorite part is that they are mostly mis-shapen little nuggets. Regular M & Ms are such near perfect litle globules of deliciousness, while these are oddly shaped little buggers. They are the rugged individualists of the candy world.

I most highly recommend trying these. They will only be around for a short time.

Go now. What are you waiting for?

Friday night delights

Friday night for us, like for so many other old farts, is take-out/delivery night. Last night, the Mrs. went to Baja Fresh on her way home from work.

Baja Fresh is very good Mexican fast food. Usually I order fish tacos, but last night, I wanted to go completely vegetarian. I do try to eat a vegan diet, but usually it is more vegetarian as I eat some dairy, and once or twice a week, I eat some meat or fish.

Before I go too far into last night's wonderful meal, let me tell you about fish tacos. At Baja fresh, they are pretty traditional, served with thinly sliced cabbage and a nice piece of white fish in a soft taco with some salsa and a tangy ranch-like dressing. They are very light, and full of flavor. They come with a lime slice, which I immediately squeeze and douse my taco with the juice.

But last night I went with the vegetarian burrito with pinto beans. It was huge, and full of peppers, onions, salsa, and mushrooms, with just enough pinto beans to add some protein, but not so much as to resemble a bean sandwich. I would say they were an accent to the burrito.


They do everything fresh, including the salsa
From the Baja Fresh website

No Microwaves,
No Can Openers,
No Freezers,
No Lard,
No M.S.G.®
No Compromises

I heart Baja Fresh

Friday, May 9, 2008

Life is Sweet

Peapod showed up late last night, so I didn't have my Greek yogurt until this morning. It was worth the wait.

I'm really looking forward to the weekend. My tastes in food, just like my tastes in TV viewing are, ummm, eclectic. So Saturday is my day for channel flipping. I start off with Showbiz India, then move on to The Soup. After that, I watch almost all PBS cooking shows for the rest of the day, or at least until the movie of the week comes on either HBO or Starz.

Here's some of my "must see" Saturday fare:

Farmer's Almanac TV--not a lot of cooking, but some interesting food facts, and production information. This week, they will discuss cheese making. I can't wait. : )

Colemeco's Food Show--Mike Colemeco tours various restaurants or locations, and eats. Then he goes back home and either tries to duplicate the recipe, or crates one that is similar, but simple for the home cook. His studio is very plain (may even be his home kitchen for some shows) and he does all the cooking himself. Nothing like watching most of the glitzy Food Network shows.

Christina Cooks--Vegetarian cooking with Christina Parillo. Watch carefully, you may catch me and the Mrs. in the background in one show. Christina provides a lot of philosophy, and education in addition to simple recipes.

These are just a few of my favorites. I'll chat about some more later.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Peapod is coming tonight; yogurt for everyone.

Oh yeah, tonight's the night Peapod shows up. This is always a good night here. We usually celebrate with a special treat. I'll get to that later.

Peapod is a grocery delivery service, and part of Stop and Shop. They have a limited variety of foods available. They offer more than enough for my typical needs, but some items aren't available. For example, the only ketchup (a staple here) is Heinz and Stop and Shop brand. I like Heinz organic ketchup, but that option isn't available. So, I make compromises. They usually will substitute,and sometimes the substitute is something I wouldn't have ordered. Again, that is part of the deal.

Now, on to our special Peapod night treat.

Fage Greek yogurt. Ok, not the most exciting thing, but this is a real treat for us. This yogurt is rich and creamy, not anything like the dreck I usually eat. It has been strained so the water that usually sits on top of a cup of regular yogurt isn't squirting out when the top is popped. We get the strawberry (the only other choice at Peapod is honey (sounds disgusting.) The strawberry mixture is seperate in a different compartment of the cup. It is possibly the best tasting strawberry stuff (can't call it topping because it isn't on top, what is it?) I would use this yogurt every day, but it is kind of pricy. It costs around 2 bucks a serving, compared to the 50 cent or so on sale stuff I usually buy. And we eat a lot of yogurt, a serving per day each, and just can't justify spending 28 bucks a week for yogurt. Although it is higher in calories than most yogurt, the Mrs. and I think it's worth every spoonful.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I love Crumbles

Meat analogs have come a long way in the last few years. An analog is a substitute for meat made from soy (usually.) We have been cooking lately with Morning Star Farms Griller Crumbles. This is a ground beef substitute that tastes pretty good. Not exactly like beef, but it works pretty well in most dishes. Tonight, my sweetie will be making her almost famous cabbage, beef, onions, and tomato dish. It is really tasty and healthy, and if I had any idea how she makes it, I'd gladly share the recipe. I just know she starts with sauerkraut that she rinses off first to get rid of most of the salt and vinegar.
The other tings she uses Crumbles in is a "meat" sauce for pasta. Growing up, my absolute favorite meal was pasta with ground beef sauce. This makes a good vegetarian substitute.

By the way, for the purists amongst us, it would be a ground beef gravy, technically. Tomatoes and spices are a sauce, add ground beef or any other meat, and it becomes a gravy. Not sure what it would be if a meat analog is added. Technically, it's a sauce, but it's a substitute for gravy. Hmmm.

I don't care. It tastes good.

Monday, May 5, 2008

MMMMM favorite pasta dish

This is so easy and so good. And, believe it or not, it's even healthy.

It's best with the extra virgin Sicilian olive oil I bought recently

It's broccoli served with spaghetti.

Take some oil (not a lot) and saute the broccoli. I usually use frozen organic mini broccoli because it cooks so fast and requires no prep. Add some garlic.

Serve over spaghetti with a drizzle of the oil and some crushed red pepper flakes. Some shredded Romano cheese kicks it up a notch, but isn't necessary. We often have some cooked spaghetti sitting around so it takes around 15 minutes or so to get dinner on the table because instead of boiling water for pasta, we just have to toss it in the pan with the broccoli. Also, we use whole grain pasta, so it's even more healthy.


I couldn't finish my Rita's Ritaccino on Saturday night, so I stuck it in the freezer. I had it last night, and it was even better. It had a different consistency, obviously, but I preferred that. Rather than being an icy drink, it was more like a really light ice milk. And, perhaps it was me, but it wasn't as cloyingly sweet. Could it be because as it freezes, it expands? I'm not sure, I just know it's good.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Citizen of Fast Food Nation checking in

I admit it. I love fast food. Not because it's cheap, and a lot for the money, but I like the way most of it tastes. I'm not talking about a regular Mickey D's burger and fries, and a Coke (although that can be pretty good,) but instead I am into the specialty stuff. Although I usually eat a near vegan diet (no meat or dairy-except for a yogurt in the morning) 5 days a week, I do find that when I'm out it is nearly impossible to maintain that. Factor in that I am pretty much limited to drive thru places, and the choices are even lessened further. That being said, yesterday we went to Arby's. I got a cheesesteak, which was pretty mediocre. The Mrs. ordered the corned beef rueben. I had a small bite, and it was wonderful.

But the highlight of the meal was the jalapeno poppers. They come with a berry dipping sauce that at one time is both disgusting and the most wonderful treat in the world. I never would have mixed berries and jalapenos, but it's not such a stretch to mix hot, creamy, and sweet. Bet everyone who laughed at my peanut butter, jelly, and jalapeno sandwich is feeling pretty silly now.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I'm pretty excited

Saturday is my traditional day for toast and an omelet. I don't know if anyone ever noticed, but I am a creature of habit. Of course, it's usually bad habits, but still.

Today, I'm hoping for an onion and mushroom omelet and some nice whole grain toast with butter. Usually, on Saturday, the Mrs. makes coffee, too. She puts a packet of Swiss Miss in my cup. Today she's making cinnamon flavored, which should be good with the chocolate.

Lunch is going to be my usual Saturday afternoon fare: grilled soy cheese on whole grain bread. Saturday night is my wild and crazy night. Not sure what I'm going to have, but it's important to have a bit of mystery in my routine. : )

Friday, May 2, 2008

Let Them Eat Toast

That's what Marie Antoinette should have said.

I had a toasted wholegrain bagel for breakfast this morning. Crunchy, with a soft middle, and butter slowly melting and mixing with the grape jam. MMMMM.

Lunch is going to be a PB&J&J.

Last night I had some Bush Honey Baked beans. Very delicious. However, I dare anyone to pull my finger today.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Is Food Network Star Show a Fraud?

The premise of the show is that they are seeking the Next Food Network star. The show has been on 3 years, and the 3 winners were the Hearty Boys, Guy Fieri, and Amy Finley.

The only one who became a star is Guy. The Hearty Boys, according to the website, are still airing, but it's on at 4:00 a.m.

Not exactly star billing. And I have no idea when Amy's show is on, but last I saw it I believe it was in the highly coveted early Sunday morning slot (sarcastic font).

I don't mind that the winners (Guy Fieri notwithstanding) really were not given proper promotion once they won, but it is kind of a bill of goods.

I just read that Food Network will produce a 4th season. I'll watch even though I know the premise is hokey.