Thursday, February 24, 2011

Edamame Dip

Every time I walk through the frozen vegetable aisle I look for something delicious and I can never picture a bag of anything on our dinner table or in my hand for a snack. At Japanese restaurants I love the edamame, sucking the beans out of the salty shells. At the store I noticed I could buy soybeans already shelled. So I did...twice and I thought it was new every time! One day, in an attempt to be really healthy I made myself a snack of soybeans. They were so gross! I could barely eat the small bowl I made! They had no flavor no matter how much salt I poured in. So I started browsing the internet for things to do with these disgusting by themselves beans.

On one blog I found an Edamame Ginger Dip. It sounded great--but I wasn't about to make a whole dip just for me! The other thing is that the people we see most--Joey's family, by in large would not eat this dip. Today I finally have a reason! My parents are coming down tomorrow to do some work around the house so I thought I'd make this dip for them to snack on! I'm serving it with pita chips (hardest thing to find in the store btw, all chips should be together!) but I think it would be just as good with peppers--if only those weren't so expensive right now!

I made the dip already and tasted it and it is seriously delicious. Serve it with vegetables and you've got yourself one healthy snack!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

I'll admit it, I'm not the biggest breakfast fan. I don't really like cereal, I'm not a fan of eggs in the morning, and I prefer my bread un-toasted. The other problem is that I'm not usually hungry for breakfast until 10am and by then I might as well just wait for lunch where I can get something delicious. If I had to list my top 5 favorite breakfast foods thought they would be:

1. Lox & Bagels with all the trimmings
2. Bacon
3. Pancakes
4. Waffles
5. Huevos Rancheros

Yesterday, when I was browsing through my 45 favorite food blogs, I saw this recipe for pancakes. The recipe was from the Winnie the Pooh cookbook. Honestly, they are just regular old pancakes. The thing is though that the blogger or Pooh or someone decided to add berries on top--kind of like a syrup or lingonberry replacement--and probably better for you too. I thought that the fruit added the best element ever to the pancakes. Normally I can only eat one and maybe two at the most of pancakes. Today I powered through 5! All thanks to the berries and breakfast at 7pm.

Dinner consisted of:
3 slices bacon per person
Mostly egg whites, scrambled (we made a few recipes that called for yolks only, so we had a lot of whites and one yolk leftover)
Pancakes with berry 'syrup' (this was made by defrosting frozen mixed berries with a dash of water and a tiny bit of sugar)

Recipe makes about 8-10 1/4 C sized pancakes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spicy Beef Chili

I decided to make chili while at the store. I wasn't prepared with a recipe but I had a rough idea of what ingredients might be required. I pulled out my handy new iphone and started to look for recipes but I found the internet connection and no app yet downloaded to be cumbersome, so I just ran with it. I knew I had all the main spices at home--I just needed the other stuff. This turned out to be a 3-texture chili--meat, beans and sauce. I didn't add bell peppers and I cut the onions so finely you couldn't detect them. If you like textures, add bell peppers or cut your onions bigger.

The habeneros were pretty and on sale...the serranos have such a great flavor...

This chili was very spicy....oops ;) We ate it anyway with cheese and cilantro and corn muffins and glasses of milk.

Spicy Beef Chili

1.5 lb stew meat, cut into bite sized pieces if not already (that is chunks of beef--I like this for the chew factor, some people want this AND ground beef...)
1 15 oz can pinto beans
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 habenero peppers, stems removed
2 serrano peppers, stems removed
3 T chili powder
scant 1 t cumin
1 t salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped (jf you can find one, otherwise just use about 3/4 of the giant one from the store)
3 cloves garlic
1 T olive oil
Cheese (for serving)
Cilantro (for serving)

1. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add meat and onion and brown until onion is soft.
2. Meanwhile, in a mini chopper, chop all 4 peppers and 3 cloves garlic. Combine spices in a small bowl, and open cans of tomatoes.
3. Once the meat mixture has browned, add garlic mixture and cook 30 seconds. Then add tomatoes and spices. Stir.
4. Bring chili to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or more. 10 minutes to end of simmering, add beans and serve when heated through.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blood Orange Chocolate Chunk Muffins

In this month's Sunset magazine I read about a couple that bought a house somewhere in So. Cal a few years ago and immediately planted acres and acres of citrus trees of several varieties. Their blog was also featured in the magazine pointing to the recipes they make with their seasonal citrus and other fresh from the farm ingredients (not necessarily their farm). I checked out the blog and loved the pictures, the recipes--this is something I will continue to follow!

After reading through pretty much ever page of the blog (so I had a little free time, sue me), I came across this recipe for Blood Orange Chocolate Chunk Muffins. I love the combination of orange and chocolate and I figured blood orange and chocolate would be just as delicious. I knew that blood oranges are currently in season in CA, so I whisked myself over to the farmer's market and got some specifically for these muffins. I bought 6 oranges and they were relatively small, I needed 5 to make this recipe.

These muffins were delicious. It took a little bit of time to make it all because you have to zest and squeeze the oranges, but it is worth it! If you notice in their pictures the muffins look totally normal...however my muffins are blue. Any thoughts about why?

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Product: Hubert's Lemonade

I was so thirsty when I got to the store to stock up on a few things I needed. I had already finished my two water bottles in the car (that were only a quarter full to begin with) and then talked on the phone for a while and the sun was beating down through the windows.

I really wanted to go to Porto's and get an iced mocha. They have the best iced mocha in town. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out my route with a grocery store and time to stop there, so I held back the urge and just went to Ralph's.

As I walked in, I noticed the cold beverage section near the deli. I glanced over and saw the familiar blue "New Product" sticker under this bottle of Hubert's Lemonade and Hubert's Raspberry Lemonade. Perfect! A drink AND a product review.

As I strolled around the store picking out my other items and my arms got loaded down with more things, I glanced at the calories on this bottle of lemonade. 70 calories a serving, bottle for 2. Reasonable actually, far more reasonable than other lemonades on the market.

And then I got in my car (after avoiding the creepy homeless guy following me) and tasted it and I can tell why it doesn't have that many calories. Because that lemonade doesn't have enough sugar. It may have been made with the best California lemons but it was a little tart for my taste. I thought, though, that if it was served in a chilled glass with that crystallized sugar around the top--like they serve lemonade at the Cheesecake Factory, it would have tasted a lot better.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Slow-Cooked Beef Ribs

At the store this week I noticed some beef-back ribs hanging out in the meat section and on sale. I couldn't recall ever seeing these guys in the meat section before so I decided to snatch them up. 6 ribs for $5 seems like a good deal since when you go out for ribs 2-3 runs you about $12 with sides.

I had no idea how to cook them when I got home but thought I might use the crock pot. I searched for recipes high and low on the food network, martha stewart and google and came up with nothing. I don't know why it wasn't working.

So then I went on over to Crockpot365. This woman made a crockpot recipe each day for a whole year! I figured she probably knows what she's doing and followed her recipe omitting the green onions and using a little less than full bottle of bbq sauce.

My omitions did nothing to the final product, I thought the ribs were good although not that flavorful. My husband ate them but had nothing good to say about them. I recommend rubbing the ribs with some spices first to gjve the dish a little more flavor. I didn't really notice the onion or garlic at all. The presentation also looked a little gross. I recommend cutting the meat off the bone and then serving it. Cutting the meat off will be no problem, the meat was tender, moist and had a great texture. I would make these again with a few more spices...although since my husband didn't like them much I don't really see a future of making them again.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cattlemen's BBQ Sauce - Logo Discussion

It is true this is the lowest light poorest picture I could've taken for a comparison shot, but you know, sometimes picture taking is not a high priority. Sometimes eating dinner is a higher priority.

Today I made beef ribs (read about them next!) and I used up our bottle of Cattlemen's Classic BBQ sauce (left). I decided to buy more sauce for serving tonight so I went to the fancy Ralph's on Alameda and perused the sauce section. I wanted to get the same kind that I used for cooking so there was no weird flavor meld.

There are lots of kinds of sauce and when I finally found Cattlemen's I was disappointed to see a total label change. I see what they were going for, but I think the change makes the sauce look less authentic and more generic like the Select or Ralph's brand products. I like how the edges are a little rough but I do not like the new conservative font. I like the sauce, so it probably won't hurt my buying it but if I had never tried it and it was standing there on the shelf with all the others I might just pass it up, cause I'd assume it was the store brand and then wonder why it wasn't at store-brand prices.

Cattlemen's I am no brand designer, but I do a little online marketing and advertising and I think this new branding is boring--go back to your fun "right off the ranch" look, please?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Challah French Toast

I discovered last week that I have access in this great state of California to a childhood memory. Great Harvest Bread Company is that memory. Every week after my trombone lesson in Naperville, my mom would pick me up and we'd stop by the Great Harvest Bread Company for our weekly loaf of bread and free sample. The free samples were a full slice of the fresh made bread of your choice slathered with sweet, soft butter. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we also got a quarter of an oatmeal chocolate cookie--warm from the oven.

When I learned that there is a Great Harvest Bread Company right around the corner in South Pasadena, I knew I had to make it my priority to visit!

I went with my sister in law to the bread company on pretty much the cutest street in South Pas. I didn't even know such an adorable street existed! Despite all the other restaurants on the street, GHBC was packed. The line was almost out the door at noon when we arrived. This GHBC offers sandwiches and salads in addition to selling fresh bread and cookies. You can read my review of the restaurant here.

The bread. The bread is dense and fresh and delicious. GHBC makes a few breads every day and then some variety breads that are different each day. Every customer is offered a sample of bread and either butter or jam. They also have samples of the cookies sometimes. I tasted the Challah. I was thrilled to see that they have challah on Fridays because that and brioche is the bread that is always called for in French Toast recipes--and I can never find it. GHBC was offering both plain challah loaves and cinnamon chip raisin loaves. The challah was delicious, the loaf was a little expensive for the size--$5, but it was worth it!

I used Betty Crocker's recipe for French Toast. We only made 6 slices of toast and had about half of the loaf leftover. The French Toast was good but I didn't think it was that much better than using French Toast bread that you can get for $2 at the regular grocery store. I would rather just eat the bread, warmed in the microwave with a little butter.