Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dinner's at 8. What Now?

Dinners at eight. You're hungry at 6. You ate lunch at 2- what to do, what to do?! Do you have a battle of epic proportions with yourself trying to stay away from the oreos, or potato chips? It would be sooo easy to reach for them, wouldn't it? So easy to down 6 cookies, or diminish half the bag of chips. Come on! You're better than that! Don't ruin your appetite with mindless fillers, who also happen to be saturated fat and carbohydrates...and not the good kind either. They will leave you feeling full, yet unfulfilled. Let's explore some healthier options to tide you over until the dinner bell has rung. What about making a parmesan pita crisp? All it takes it a pita, fresh grated parmesan and some herbs, such as rosemary. Maybe a smattering of olive oil as well. Sprinkle the cheese and herbs over the whole wheat pita, and broil until golden brown. Slice into 4's and enjoy not only a delicious treat, but one that has a good balance of protein, fat and fiber. Are you a cheese head? Then this is the perfect late afternoon snack for you. Take a part-skim mozzarella string cheese, and wrap it in a slice of fresh proscuitto. Pair this with some olives, or artichoke hearts, and you have yourself a nice little antipasto. How about a grown-up grilled cheese snack? Take a piece of whole grain rye toast, and slather it with dijon mustard. Place a piece of sharp cheddar cheese on top. Broil until the cheese melts. Top this with a tomato- and voila, you have a snack that is rich in calcium. These are some ideas for a quick bite to eat, that won't disrupt your dinner plans. If you have any go-to snack favorites, please post below!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Successful Failures

Ahhhh the road to culinary enlightenment is a long one, that's for sure. I have failed...yet again. When I say failed, I mean- I wouldn't have fed last night's "dinner" to death row inmates. That bad. I know I preach about healthy cooking, and rave about my latest great cooking encounters-- but after last night, I realized that in order to get better, you have to mess up. It started off as a mouthwatering day dream. Dijon chicken, with Giada's smashed fried lemon potato cakes. I bet your mouth is starting to was mine. I mentally rummaged through my fridge to see what I needed for the dish, and with the help of my mother who happened to be at the grocery store, I had all I needed for what was sure to be a home run meal. An hour later, I was looking at what can only be described as sludge. I may as well have prepared ordinary hashbrowns, with a side of chicken shaped rubber. If it weren't for my loved ones, who happen to have also been the victims of this last supper, I would have crumbled at the sight of my fallen meal. It got me to thinking....are we born with natural talent in the kitchen? Is it something you can learn? If so, how do we actively hone our abilities? And then I turned to my good friends at google. It seems that other people have pondered this same question. Upon polling the audience, if you will, I have come up with the following tips that will assist you in your quest to be the best chef that you can be: 1. Look at several different recipes for the same dish. Pick the least jazzy. Use this basic recipe as a way to learn the main architecture of a dish. Along the road, you will learn by trial and error what you can add, eliminate, or modify. 2. Less is more. You can always add more seasoning, (salt especially) but you can never take any away. 3. Use Youtube. It is a great tool for learning technique. Many of us are visual leaners, so it is much easier to see how to do it, than read a monotone recipe. 4. Avoid overworking your food. Flipping it too much, kneading it too much may make you think you are really cooking, but overworking your food may result in it being too tough, or not evenly cooked. 5. Sometimes the best meals are the meals that you create from ingredients in your fridge. A lot of times, you have everything you never knew you needed, right on those cold shelves. Get yourself a base. A pasta perhaps. Open your fridge and see what you can add to it. I got this idea from another blogger, who put it perfectly; almost anything can be made into a delicious soup, springrole or casserole, as long as you enjoy the ingredients. Be spontaneous. 6. Keep fresh herbs around at all times. They add pizazz to any dish. (remember- less is more.) 7. It's just like the age old question; "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Practice, practice, practice. Make a dish, and then make it ten times again until you perfect it. Then, the next time you're entertaining, you will have a delicious recipe that may not be new to you, but certainly is to your guests. 8. Use flavorful cooking liquids. I always try to substitute water when I can- because it has no taste. I love using chicken broth when baking chicken, or cooking rice instead of water. ] 9. Tang it up! I believe that any dish is automatically better, when a splask of wine, lemon, or vinegar is added. It really brings out the flavor of the meal's components. 10. Don't be afraid of using real butter. Your hips will forgive you. Cooking with butter makes everything creamier, and tastier.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sandwich Woes...

Why are deli sandwiches so much more delicious than homemade sandwiches?! I don't care what magic tricks you pull out of your fridge, it just doesn't taste the same. Sure you could go the extra mile and not only purchase the Boars Head cold cuts, buy the Boars Head mustard and oil and vinegar sandwich dressing to boot...but in my mind, your sandwich just falls a little below perfection. Now that I have paid my deli-workers sufficient respect, I must air my grievances. WHAT IS SO HARD ABOUT GETTING A SANDWICH ORDER CORRECT?! Every single time I order a sandwich from a deli, one ingredient is left out. Now, when you're a food snob, all ingredients are of equal value to your palate. Just because I like more lettuce than onions, does NOT give you, deli worker, free reign to "forget" my onions. They are part of my sandwich family, and without them, I feel incomplete. It down right puts me in a bad mood. In no way, shape or form am I a high maintenance sandwich orderer. Usually, I go mainstream. A little turkey, some cheese....perhaps L,T,O, mayo and mustard. Every time, EVERY TIME, something is missing. Can I get and "A'men" if you're with me!? Lord have mercy on the days where I crave something special. One day, I really wanted extra banana peppers on my un-original sandwich. Just that sour, pickled pepper taste was enough to make my salivary glands channel Niagra Falls. That being said, which ingredient do you think they left out? I used to gawk at crazy people who made scenes, or engaged in physical altercations in public places. Maybe someone got their sandwich order wrong? I almost feel a connection to these angry people right now. So, my question is this: is it necessary to ALWAYS write your order down and hand it to the lovely individual who has the pleasure of making your lunch? I seem to think so.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sassin' up the Casseroles

Growing up, I hated casseroles. Of course, I also thought wine tasted like hairspray, and look at me now. I begrudgingly ate my mother's tuna casserole, solely to be excused from dinner. As soon as I forked a sensible amount into my mouth, I could spring free of my fishy albatross, and play T.V. tag before dark.

What was I thinking? Now casseroles represent everything I love! Perhaps they are misconstrued by America. When most people think of casseroles, they think of slushy, sloppy scoops of goo, served up by a hair-netted woman, with a mole on her chin. Or their great Aunt Ursula.

I feel that it is my civic duty to reinterpret the casserole. In fact, I will now call it the "sasserole." (Insert eye roll.) I will jazz it up. No longer will we eat them with a spoon. No longer will we dread dinner. Let's create some sassy casseroles, containing all of the things we love. I'd hold off on the m&m's, though.

I love pasta. Don't you? I love chicken. I LOVE artichoke hearts. I love garlic. I love feta cheese, and I love pine nuts. Throw all of these together, and sprinkle the juice of 2 fresh lemons over the top. I suggest using shell pasta, as when you sprinkle the feta cheese in the dish, it melts into the shells and is absolutely delicious. The definition of a casserole is a dish that can be cooked and served, all ingredients together. That's exactly what we're doing! By placing all of the complimentary ingredients together- the possibilities are endless! Like sundried tomatoes? Throw some in there!

Another delicious casserole is a chicken tamale casserole. It incorporates the sweetness of cornbread and zesty enchilada sauce. It is quick, easy, and perfect for all audiences.


-1 Cup mexican 4-cheese mexican blend
-1/3 cup fat free milk
-1/4 cup egg substitute
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1/8 tsp ground red pepper
-1 can cream corn
-1 box corn muffin mix
-2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
-1 can red enchilada sauce-1/2 cup fat free sour cream


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine 1/4 cup of cheese and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13x9 inch baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake again at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until cheese melts. Remove from oven, let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces, and serve each with a dollop of sour cream on top.

Andale! Get to it!

Recipe courtesy of

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sample Sales

Do you love grocery shopping? Do you loathe it?

Perhaps you haven't found your groove when food shopping. Perhaps you haven't found that perfect market. Maybe you do your paper good shopping at Wal-Mart. Maybe you get your produce at Giant, Food Lion or A&P. Maybe ShopRite has the best fish selection, Grand Union, the best steaks. Maybe you're one of the chosen ones, who lives in a ten mile radius of a Wegmann's, Whole Foods or Fairway. Maybe you'd prefer to skip the shopping and order in.

Perhaps your go-to grocer doesn't offer the heavenly samples that mine does...but that's another story.

When you find the perfect super market, it's as if you've found nirvana. No more suffering. No more crazy mom's with crazier kids, cruising down the aisle as if it were the Autobahnen-- legs, arms and pacifiers flying. There is a place for everything, and everything is in it's place. The number one rule in finding the perfect supmarket, is analyzing it's samples.

I refuse to go to a grocery store that does not fully support sampling. It is like being a diabetic in a candy store. What good is the chipotle crab dip to me, if I can't taste it!? To me, test driving a car is essential before purchasing it. Just sayin.

First of all, the employees dishing out the goods are always happy. They are either delighted to be sharing their little edible morsels of sunshine, or they must be high. Either way, they are appreciated by yours truly.

Second, the little creations they come up with may look mundane, tired, and/or generic- but I kid you not, they ALWAYS taste delicious. I have not yet determined if it is due to my insta-starvation the minute I walk into the market, or if there truly is something hidden in the spinach dip with pita chips. It may look like a cube of boars head ham on a little rye toast point, but what you don't see is the horseradish dill dip coating the bottom!

There may not be a wide array of samples, but I think it says a lot about the grocery store if they at least have them. It's giving back to the community, all the while promoting sales of certain products. Sometimes, when my farmers market/grocer get's realllll crazy, they have local folks come in and set up their own sample tables, filled with homemade goat cheese, tomato sauce, quiche, bruschetta, you name it! The best part is, I always by it. Without fail, if I taste it...I buy it. Sometimes it's subpar, but little MaryLee behind the folding table is looking at me with such pride, such helplessness, that I can't bare to turn her fruitcake down. So, in the cart it goes.

Very rarely I don't enjoy something that I sample. For example, there was a table set up this weekend, with a sign on it that said "Spinach Surprise!" Now, I love spinach, and I adore surprises, so this is a mini christmas morning to me. I nearly knocked down five patrons while making my way to the steaming dish. When I got my first (out of 5) piece and bit in, a mixture of warm cream cheese, garlic, artichoke, spinach and a warm crusty shell unfolded in my mouth. It. was. life. changing. I nearly went out to my car, found a hat and a different jacket as a disguise, and went back in for round two.

The moral of the story is this: If you're grocery shopping at a market that does not offer you samples while shopping, (even if it is only a weekend thing) you're not going to enjoy your grocery shopping to the fullest. If you read my first post on this blog, you will know that Sunday's are my grocery shopping days, solely because of the samples.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If You're Lucky Enough to be Irish...You're Lucky Enough!

Top o' the mornin' to ya, my li'l leprechauns! May the road rise up to meet you...and may that road lead you to good food, good friends, and good wine!

Although today's recipe is a slow cooker, it may be a wee bit too late to make for tonight's festivities. But, then again, who says you can't enjoy this delicious emerald of a dish the other 364 days of the year?

Ale-Braised Corbed Beef and Brussel Sprouts

- 1 3lb piece of corned beef brisket (with spice packet included)
- 1lb carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch lengths
- 1 12 ounce bottle amber ale
- 3/4lb brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tbsp whole-grained mustard
- 1 tsbp fresh chopped taragon
- Spoonful of minced horseradish

In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, place the beef, contents of the spice packet, carrots, and ale. Cooke, covered, until the beef is tender: (On high for 4-5 hours, or if you're at work, cook on low for 7-8 hours.) Ten minutes before serving, thinly slice the brussels sprouts. (This is easiest to do in a food processor with a slicing blade.) Transfer the beef from the slow cooker to a cutting board; if slow cooker is on the low setting, turn it to high now. Add the brussels sprouts to the carrots and liquid in the slow cooker. Cook, covered until the sprouts are tender; about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream, tarragon, mustard and horseradish. Slice the beef and serve with the sauce and veggies.

Cead mile Failte!

Recipe courtesy of

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trusty Sidekicks

I love sandwiches. I love burritos. I love steak, chicken, lamb and fish. But I don't love them all alone. I merely like them intsensely. There is a difference.

A main dish without sides is like a pitcher without a catcher. It's Ringo Starr as a solo artist. Sometimes things are just better with counterparts.

I feel the same way about my meals. I love savoring the different flavors, textures and bites of each element of my meal. I am a huge fan of sides. Whether they are potatoes, beans, salads, or bread- I will not discriminate. I believe that they are there for a reason- each one complimenting their superior. I like experimenting with my sides while at home. I take pride in choosing the most obscure, while dining out. I have come to find that the sides that I enjoy the most, are the ones that have a medley of ingredients. Sure potato chips are a nice snack. I won't turn my back on any starch ro carb, believe you me. But when mixed with something else, say, a we're talking.

Recently I have been really into salads. Not necessarily the leafy kind- but the pasta salads. The macaroni salads. The egg, tuna and chicken salads. I have relied on my Real Simple friends, as well as Martha Stewart herself, to compile some of my favorite original side salad recipes. Hold onto your seats!

Cucumber salad with sour cream and dill dressing. DON'T KNOCK IT TILL YOU'VE TRIED IT, PEOPLE. In this delicious salad, you want to very thinly chop your 4-6 cucumbers. Make sure they are the kirby cucumbers, which are longer and thinner. Halve them after you finely chop or julienne them. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of reduced fat sour cream, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of chopped dill, salt and pepper. Wisk the mixture together and and toss in the cucumbers. Sprinkle dill to garnish.

Green bean pasta salad. All you need is 4oz penne, 4 oz green beans, 1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed, 1/4 cup of chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. To assemble, cook the pasta, and add the green beans in 3 minutes before pasta is done. Drain, and run under cool water. Toss the pasta/beans with the red beans, parsley, parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve!

Apple, grape, celery and goat cheese salad. This one is absolutely delicious. I would have never thought that I would choose to make something with these ingredient, but I am so happy I did! The ingredients are as follows; 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, 2 celery stalks thinly sliced diagonally, 1 granny smith apple- cored, halved and thinly sliced, 1 cup of seedless red grapes, halved, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, a scopp of fresh goat cheese, salt and pepper to taste. To assemble, spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Chill, serve, enjoy!

Perhaps you are a potato salad fan, but want to sass it up a tad. How about a trying a warm potato salad with a dijon scallion vinaigrette? To do so, firt make the vinaigrette. You will need; 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, pinch of sugar, 3/4 cupe extra-virgin olive oil, 3 chopped whole scallions. Place all ingredients, minus the oil in a jar, and sken 'em up! Slowly pour in the oil, and stir again. Next, scrub 2 pounds of red potatoes, and slice them about 1/3 inch thick. put them in a medium saucepan with salted water, and boil them until they are tender. (Approx. 15 minutes.) Drain the potatoes, and stir in the vinaigrette. Top with freshly chopped scallions.


Recipes courtesy of Real Simple and Martha Stewart

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yuca'n do it!

Latin American cuisine is an art. Each dish has such charisma-- it's vivid flavors apparent in both taste, and sight. It's ingredients masking the truth of preparation, that has been passed down for hundreds of years. Sure you know what makes the dish- but how to make it is the real secret.

I had the pleasure of experiencing a real Latin American dish recently. In the past, I have had my fair share of Mexican food, which is one of my favorites. But this meal was on a whole different level. This cuban heirloom was a mambo on a plate. Los colores! los sabores! Fue increible!

The porkchops were mind-numbingly delicious. The rice and beans...even better. My mouth watered at the sight of the plantains. But the real scene stealer was the dish that should make every potato in the world jealous.

Yuca is the latin american equivalent of the potato. It is a light, fluffy root that when prepared in this dish, has a slight vinegar taste. It complimented all of the other sides on my plate- all the while, standing out in the crowd. I was so pleasantly surprised, I went back for fifths. Now, I don't come from a long lineage of latin american chefs- but I did manage to steal a few tips on how to make this succulent side. All you need is yuca, salt, olive oil, onion, garlic and lemon juice. Cut the yuca in long slices, and place them in a pan, with enough water to cover them. Stir in the salt, and let them come to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, or until tender. Place the rest of the goodies in a frying pan, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour over the yuca and serve immediately.

If you want to accompany this root goddess with coconut rice and beans- more power to you!

Place a tablespoon of butter, a half minced shallot in a pan over medium heat. Stir until the shallot has turned translucent. (3 minutes.) add the 1 cup of rice, and stir until it is coated with butter. Pour in the 3/4 cup coconut milk, and 1 cup of water. You can add a pinch of nutmeg too, although it is not mandatory. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat- then reduce to a medium-low heat. Cover and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, which is about 18 minutes. Add the can of black beans, and cook a few minutes until hot. Garnish with cilantro- cause even side dishes like to look goooood.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Broadening Your Horizons

Are you one of those people who don't like the taste of things you've never tasted?

Perhaps we should all take a step back, here and talk about what's really going on. Maybe you don't like the look of the white stuff oozing out of the pasta. Or, maybe the texture is a little too slimy for your palate. Maybe it's been ingrained into your head by a picky grandmother, who would never eat the stuff. But have YOU actually tried these taboo foods?

The offending food might not be terrible. You may even...gasp....enjoy the dish. The perfect way to introduce these foods to your repertoire is by "dumbing them down." Trick your too-picky tastebuds into eating these foods, by pairing them with something enjoyable. Miso soup is a great example. You probably constantly spoon around the bouyant white cubes floating around in your soup. But, upon eating one, you may actually enjoy tofu! Quit singling them out, and enjoy them. Next thing you know, you will be making a nice, light tofu stir-fry.

Fish. Many people swear against it. Maybe they aren't a fan of the "fishy" taste. Maybe the consistancy is too tender. Perhaps they had a bony experience with a filet in the past. Let's try it again. Introduce fish into your menu, by masking it with other ingredients. Start by making a nice white-fish taco. Tilapia, or grouper is a perfect training-fish. By adding the guacamole, or jicama slaw on top of your taco, you will be delightfully surprised at how delicious your meal is.

International cuisine. Whether it's curry, pad thai, or greek fare, many people are less than enthusiastic to broaden their culinary horizons. Once upon a time, I was on the fence too. It was a dark time. I remember my first gyro, like one would remember their first kiss. It was messy, enlightening, and delicious.

Is it the lamb that scares you off? Well, let's substitute that for something more vanilla. A chicken gyro is a great way to test the greek waters. You won't be disappointed. We can even go a step further and make it a chicken finger gyro. It is a fast meal, that is easy on your wallet. You can make your tysons chicken fingers, and even buy the tzatziki sauce. If you'd prefer to be crafty- bake or boil some chicken, and make your own sauce by whipping together greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic and a touch of lemon juice. Get a large pita, and place the chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki on top. If this doesn't leave you screaming "Opa!" I don't know what will.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mourning Time...Rise and Shine!

Eyes open slowly. It's time. It's the worst time. 5 more minutes?

Rain is beating on your window, a melancholy tune by a lone steel drum band. Only you're not in your Hawaiian shirt, nor is your nose covered in zinc. It's a weekday- and your alarm has once again assaulted you.

Rise and shine, friends! Peel yourself off of your warm, powder scented cotton cloud of a pillow. Lift one leg....and the next, to the edge of your bed. Feel that cool, stale dark morning air, as you mourn the loss of your comfort. Put on that dully appropriate attire. Comb that bed-head. Brush those teeth. What's next?


Let's make this commute to Jungleland a little more bearable, shall we? Before you do mach-10 to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks- or Stewarts if you live in the boonies, like myself...consider constructing your own liquid speed. They sell the good stuff at all of the grocery stores now- so by all means, you can still enjoy those DD arabica beans. But- spice it up- add a dose of calypso to your mundane "mourning".

Next time you're at your grocery store- pick up a bit of coconut milk. Use the coconut milk instead of creamer, with however many packets of splenda you prefer. I tried this trick, but went even a little further- and made it an iced coffee. It brightened up my morning, all the while conjuring visions of top-down convertibles, sunshine and tanning lotion. Ay Dios Mio!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Wonderful Discovery

Last night upon leaving the gym, I was tired, sore and hungry. I assure you, I'm not pleasant to be around while any one of these three, let alone all of them. I needed something easy, fast and cheap before I let myself enter the subtle realm of uninterrupted relaxation. (aka "Teen Mom" on MTV and a glass of chard.)

Nothing in the fridge, nothing in the pantry, nothing in my stomach. I picked up the phone, and dialed a number I only usually drunk dial. Chopstix chinese food.

Now, let me sort this out for you. I am not the healthiest eater, nor am I a gym buff. I realize that after college, you actually have to DO something to prevent yourself from resembling Jabba the Hut. Or Kirstie Alley.

Many of us have our go-to greasy chinese favorites. In fact, my staple used to be sesame chicken. Some prefer lo mein, or pork fried rice. I URGE you to try what I experienced last night, because that is exactly what it was-- an experience. I opted for the healthy meal, a steamed chicken and broccoli, with no sauce, over brown rice. Sounds pret-ty boring, I know.

...Remember that miso-soy dressing I have been writing about for weeks? The one that Iput over the ahi tuna in "Next to Nobu"? Well, open the fridge, and take out the remaining dressing. I poured this dressing over the steamed chicken and rice, and it was an instant delicious meal, that only cost me ten dollars, and 20 seconds.

With a "Takeout Fakeout" like that- who needs pots and pans?!

Don't answer that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Power Couples

Peanut butter and Jelly. Milk and cereal. Chips and dip.

These classic culinary couples are known for tempting your tastebuds, and have long secured positions among your top ten favorite foods. There are classic couples out there, but as always, waiting in the wings are the next rising stars.

What happens when you pair unlikely ingredients, that not only compliment each other's flavors, but enhance your health? Sure Brad and Jen were great together. They were like Macaroni and cheese. They made America feel comfy, cozy and warm inside. But, when Macaroni (Brad) is paired with Olive oil, lemon juice and garlic (Angie), he starts being more nutritious, tastier- more alluring. He even starts building orphanages.

And so the tides turn. Classic meals are a wonderful idea, even better if executed perfectly. But there is room in your heart and your fridge to spice it up once in a while, if only for your health.

These new "power couples" are walking the red carpets of the produce section as we speak. They are wearing the finest haute couture saran wrap out there. They have waited in the wings, giving mac and cheese their time in the spotlight. Now it's their time. They were just discovered by the agents at Real Simple.

Their reviews:

Grilled Steak. A handsome leading man. Everyone loves him, especially with his old broad, mashed potatoes. But a new compound leading lady in his life, has made him more attractive. Brussels Sprouts, a fresh faced german gal. They are a wonderful vegetable that rid the body of carcinogens that may form on meat during high-heat cooking-- such as grilling. Try substituting one of your go-to steak sides with some nicely dressed brussels sprouts. I highly recommend adding olive oil, garlic and pancetta to them.

Avocados mixed with tomatoes. Now, if you've been reading my blog from day one, you know I love a good salsa or pico de gallo. Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, which is great for you. Throw some avocado into the mix, which is a good fat- and you have quite the power couple. The fat from the avocado helps your body absorb seven times more lycopene. Not only is it delicious with fresh lime juice- but it is healthy too! HELP yourself!

Olive oil and fresh veggies. Similar to the avocado and tomato recipe, adding a small amount of healthy fats such as olive oil to your zucchini, spinach or other dark green vegetables brings out their carotenoid lutein, which is an antioxidant that helps prevent against age related macular degeneration. Now that's a Kurt and Goldie power couple!

Spinach...and oranges?! I thought they hated each other! Spinach, which is full of iron, is hard to absorb. When eaten with vitamin C, such as an orange or tangerine, the iron in the spinach is absorbed more efficiently. If the two together don't strike your fancy, consider adding a fresh red pepper, and some tomatoes to make a nice baby spinach salad.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Snacking can be so mundane sometimes. There are only so many choices, such limited varieties. It's time to pull a snack time switch-up. Let's take your go to guilty, or not-so-guilty pleasures and spice things up.

Freezing snack foods is a fun way to make your go-to goodies a little edgy. Have you ever tried frozen grapes? Deeeelish. It's a frozen treat that won't let you down. I have tried this with many fresh fruits, such as strawberries, pineapples, mango, blueberries, raspberries- and to be honest, I've never met a frozen fruit that I didn't respect. Nothing but love.

Do you find yourself mindlessly helping yourself to a sleeve of oreos? Make sure you freeze that sleeve first! Now, I'm not the biggest oreo fan, but putting those suckers in the freezer made me see them in a whole new light-- which leads me to the next treat.

I know everyone is with me, when I say that the Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies are far better frozen. The only down side is- you can't eat just one. I cant put away a box of those, in the span of two commercials.

On to everyone's favorite lunch time snack - fruit roll ups. (Fruit-by-the-foot, gushers, and all of the other futuristic fruit snacks that are out there now.) Freeze these fruity snacks for a delicate and delicious snack.

Frozen candy is also delicious. Gummy bears, chocolate bars, jolly ranchers, you name it- I'll freeze it.

You can mix healthy with sweet also. Try dipping banana slices in dark chocolate and topping with nuts. Put them in the freezer- and you won't soon forget about them!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From "Ewww" to "Woooooo!"

I remember a time when my love affair with food was tumultuous. It was not pleasant, not inspiring and certainly not welcome in my day-to-day routine. It would nag me, like a jilted lover. "You're not paying enough attention to meeeee." "You never want to try new things!" "Do I look prettttty?"

I feel sorry for the boyfriends out there, mine included.

I didn't have the patience to pay attention to this love growing inside of me. I knew I enjoyed food- I don't think I have ever skipped a meal. I knew I savored each bite a little too much...I knew I wasn't exactly earning gold stars when it came to sharing during mealtime. Before long, I knew I had to embrace it.

I was in Philadelphia at my sisters house, a few days before her wedding. My mother decided grace my family with her culinary talents one evening. To say that I had been excited about the potential of this meal was an understatement. I remember the sheer disgust that reached deep down into my soul when I heard she was making.....

.....shrimp and grits. NO.

Enter a killer mood swing. Not only was I not going to be able to enjoy her famous "Chicken Cindy," but I was being forced to entertain the idea of enjoying her deep southern roots, or so she called them. (She was born in Texas, but moved at 4 months old...puhhlease.)

Begrudgingly I help set the table. There I sat, heavy hearted, fork in hand. When I finally put that first odd shaped bite in my mouth- and chewed- I was utterly dumbfounded.

The flavor!

The texture!

The color!

The presentation!


It was such a piece of art, this meal- I will never forget it. I urge you to make this culinary wonder- the more unappetizing it sounds to you- the more you will enjoy it. It is definitely a dish worth adding to your repertoire.


-4 cups water
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup stone-ground grits
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 cups sharp shredded cheddar
- 1 lb shrimp- peeled and deveined
- 6 slices bacon- chopped
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
- 1 large clove garlic- minced


Bring water to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Add grits and cook until water is absorbed - about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir with butter and cheese.

Rinse shrimp and pat dry. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned- drain well. In the grease, add shrimp. Cook until shrimp are pink. Add lemon juice, chopped bacon, parsley, scallions, and garlic. Sautee for 3 minutes.

Spoon grits into a serving bowl. Add shrimp mixture and mix well.

recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay and the Food Network.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Food Alias - Think Thin!

Do you want the Big Mac taste, without the Big Mac waist?

Then start thinking about ways to disguise your food- make healthier options just as pleasurable as their naughty counterparts. No one said healthy food couldn't be mouthwatering.

Instead of the Big Mac, make a lean turkey burger. Dress that baby up with worchestershire, onions, oatmeal, and whatever else strikes your fancy, and throw it on the grill. With the calories your saving from the Micky D's "beef", not to mention the three sesame buns (Think sandwich thins, people!) you can indulge by adding the super secret sauce. (Which is really just mayo, (use low fat!) french dressing, vinegar, ketchup, relish and minced onions.)

Are you craving mashed potatoes? How about making something that tastes almost the exact same, but has exponentially fewer calories? Mashed cauliflower is an excellent "food alias" for mashed potatoes. Doctor it up with some fresh garlic, lemon and herbs, and perhaps a little butter substitute. (You won't believe it's not butter.)

Are you addicted to the cold asian sesame noodles? Try substituting the actual carb stocked noodles for shredded spaghetti squash. It has the same look and almost the same texture- you won't even know the difference!

If you're making stir-fry, consider using chicken broth as your base instead of any oils. Although canola and vegetable based oils are healthier than other alternatives, broth is by far the healthiest and gives the dish a fresh crisp flavor. Spaghetti squash is a healthy alternative for pasta in general. For all of you Atkins lovers, you don't have to dream of ziti anymore. Make a homemade marinara and add it to this multi-faceted veggie.

There are infinite ways to cut the calories, without cutting the flavor. They are as easy as using splenda instead of raw sugar. Drinking Crystal Light, rather than a high fructose lemonade. Use less salt- opt for more herbs. Cut the oil, and fatty products- use the zing of a citrus to flavor a salad. Ditch the milk chocolate- who doesn't love a dark chocolate covered strawberry? Even better- a 60 calorie Jello pudding cup!

Think thin!