Archive for August, 2008

Baby Burger

This cute pic was on the FailFoods site, which is pretty funny, albeit a bit gross. How can this be a fail?? It’s too damn cute!!!

baby sandwich

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Fava Beans, Broccoli and Tomatoes with Pesto and Pasta

Sorry for the lack of posting. A lot has been going on lately that has deterred from my writing here. I hope you, my dear readers, will forgive me. First of all, the very good news. I got a new job. Finally. I’ve been unhappy since last April when I was laid off from my corporate communications job that I loved at a company I loved. I spent a year doing financial editing which just wasn’t my thing. I’m happy to say I’ve found a job working back in my field.

Secondly, I had to give up my ballroom dance instructor job. I just couldn’t get there three nights a week anymore and quite frankly, I wasn’t enjoying teaching as much as I enjoyed being a student. And lastly, I took on a few, heavy duty volunteer positions with my sorority, including writing for our national magazine. So my priorities haven’t been focused much on the blog and I apologize. I have been thinking about the blog though. I’m still cooking and taking pictures, I just need to get around to posting!

So, because of all of the craziness lately, finding quick meals like this one are awesome. The inspiration for this meal came from this recipe from the August 2008 issue of Cooking Light. I had to make a lot of changes to make this work because of my supplies and because I felt like it. So there. Haha.  Here’s what I had to change or add:

*I only had about a cup and a half of fava beans (frozen), so I added some fresh broccoli from my local farmer’s market.

*I did not have enough basil (my mini-me garden is thriving EXCEPT my sad basil) to make my pesto so I substituted some parsley.

*I used whole wheat pasta since I don’t eat “white” pasta during the week.

*I used a can of diced tomatoes and some fresh heirlooms from the farmer’s market.

I also drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil before serving. This was a great meal, it was filling and the flavors all blended together beautifully. My only complaint was I wished I had made more pesto with it.
Overall rating – 4.5 stars

Fava Beans with Pesto and Cavatappi

Pasta is a dry ingredient that becomes water-rich when cooked. This vegetarian main dish shows off summer-fresh fava beans. If you can’t find them, substitute fresh lima beans or even thawed frozen edamame.

2 pounds unshelled fava beans (about 3 cups shelled)
1 cup fresh basil leaves (about 1 ounce)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
1 pound uncooked cavatappi pasta
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Remove beans from pods; discard pods. Cook beans in boiling water 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Remove outer skins from beans; discard skins.

2. Combine basil and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; process until smooth. With processor on, slowly pour oil through food chute, and process until well blended.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain. Combine pasta and basil mixture in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Add beans and tomatoes, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Yield:  8 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups pasta and 1 tablespoon cheese)CALORIES 335 (24% from fat); FAT 8.9g (sat 1.9g,mono 4.7g,poly 1.5g); IRON 4.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 46mg; CALCIUM 116mg; CARBOHYDRATE 51.9g; SODIUM 411mg; PROTEIN 17.3g; FIBER 2.7g

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2008

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A Culinary Adventure in Western PA….

A couple of weekends ago I headed West to Camp Hill, PA (across the river from Harrisburg) to attend the annual MagicMeets. Yes, nerd-alert, it’s a Disney convention. This was my third year going and since it’s about 15 minutes from Hershey we end up there as well. Now, part of my plan was to eat something somewhat decent this weekend. Sadly, we ate twice last year at Perkins and I was sooo not going to repeat that this year. So I headed over to the Chowhound boards and hit up the Pennsylvania board asking for places in Harrisburg. Only one response, which I recall was sending me to a chain and I wasn’t having that. After doing my own research on the board I decided that I was having dinner at a tapas place in Harrisburg. More on that later…

Off to Hershey that Friday morning. It’s official. I detest Hershey Park. Hershey Park is good for two types of people – those that appreciate crazy thrill rides and those still in diapers (due to abundance of kiddie rides). Those of us who are potty-trained and cannot handle upside-down coasters are left with not much else to do but wait for the rest of your group as they defy gravity. So that’s issue number one…lack of moderate thrill rides or wimpy rides for wimps like me. Oh, how could I forget the disgusting log flume though? As we get in it, we all step into several inches of dirty water which then proceeds to splash us every time we go up or down a hill. I tell the ride attendant as we get off and NOW it’s an issue. Whatever. Obviously, it ain’t freakin Disney.

My second issue with Hershey is how it’s laid out – all hills, mostly UP (not fun when it’s 96 degrees out), black pavement (so nice when absorbing the sun), and lack of trees (for shade). Genius the way this park was built. And lastly, my third issue is dining. This is the second year I’ve attempted to eat in the park. Disgusting. And extremely expensive.

I did hear about this Candy Explosion dessert at Tudor Square restaurant in the park- some sort of Hershey candy with fudge and cake and goodness. So we went there, sat down, got the menus and ordered one. Only to be told they were out. Geez, it was only like 4pm people?! Okay, off to Hershey World where we did get some weird chocolate thing with cake and chocolate and whip cream. It may look good but it was just blah….

Onto to better things…or not…That’s right I ended up eating dinner at Perkins. Kill me now. It was one of the worst burgers I’ve had. And then to make matters worse I end up there the next morning for another mediocre meal. As God as my witness…I will never eat at a Perkins again.

After the fun-filled day of Disneyana, I was soooooo ready to hit up that tapas bar in Harrisburg. Oh, how fulfilling when research pays off….After driving around for about fifteen minutes looking for parking we descended upon the lovely restaurant, Suba…Tapas Bar. Suba is located upstairs from Mania Qui, a small and lovely Italian restaurant. As I made my way upstairs I was feeling good. This place was charming – brick walls, beautiful light fixtures and decor, small, and live music just about to go on. If I lived in the area, this would sooo be my hangout. I started out with a Mango Mojito, my drink of choice when hitting up my favorite local restaurant, Trinity in Keyport. This was good but just didn’t compare to Trinity. But enough about the booze! I’m here for the food!!!

We ordered multiple tapas. We started with the Queso, $7 (assorted artisan cheeses including Manchego which I heart) and Aceitunas alignadas, $4 (assorted house marinated olives). What a perfect start and they complimented each other so well. Next up was Alcahota Frita, $5 (crisy fried artichoke with a dill horseradish sauce). This was very good but very small as they only included one as you can see from pic. We also had the Pa amb tomaquet, $5 (Catalan inspired grilled bread rubbed with garlic, extra virgin olive oil and tomato). This was good, not fabulous. We also tried the Bunuelo, $8 (piquillo pepper stuffed with crab meat, tempura batter fried, and with chili, cashew, and shrimp sauce). This was pretty good, sauce wasn’t too spicy.

The main draw here for me was the Tacos, $12 for 2. We tried two kinds, the Suba Taco (fried tilapia, salsa rosa, avocado, mango cilantro salsa, shredded cabbage on warm flour tortilla), which was tasty but paled in comparison to the other taco – the El Ranchero. Damn this was good. So good, we ordered two servings of it. The El Ranchero is slow cooked beef, horseradish and chive sauce, buttermilk battered onion rings in warm flour tortilla. It was that beef. Holy moly. It was awesome. I’d go back there just for that. Right now. That’s right, I’d leave NJ and drive the 3 hours to Harrisburg for that damn taco.I really loved this place. Now it wasn’t cheap because we ordered quite a few tapas between the three of us, but everyone agreed, we hit the jackpot with Subas.

Sadly, my food fortune ran out the next morning. Since I decided there was no way I was having breakfast at Perkins, I was determined to get something good. Now, those of you lucky folks that have Waffle House in your state, consider yourself fortunate. In New Jersey, there are zero. Now I’ve only been to Waffle House while visiting the World, but I recalled really liking it. And Pennsylvania has a ton of them. Since we were leaving the Camp Hill area and heading back towards Hershey to go to Hershey Gardens, I found one on the way there. But it wasn’t. Google said it was and there was NO Waffle House in this random town we pulled into. There was a Bob Evans and a diner, both with lines out the door. Oh hell no, I’m hungry. I say let’s drive into Hershey. Well, there’s not much there either. We hit up Hotel Hershey, go to their sit-down restaurant (as their Sunday brunch required men to wear jackets) and promptly leave there. It’s 11am and they hand us lunch menus. I believe it was something like $14 for a burger. No thanks. I WANT BREAKFAST. We then drive back the way we came, try another Bob Evans, again, line out the door. A glimmer of hope….a Panera across the street. I’m not a huge fan of Panera but I knew I could get a semi-decent bagel and coffee there. So that’s where we ended up, although to make my food journey more complete, the first item I wanted, an egg sandwich, was not served after 11am. What the H-E-double hockey sticks?! So a bagel it was.

The food gods were just not shining on me this weekend. They only graced me for a brief moment that Saturday night at the tapas bar. It was definitely an adventure though. Just remember, do your research before traveling if you want good eats!

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Chicken Shawarma

I can’t even pronounce this dish, but dang it was tasty! It’s from the July 2008 issue of Cooking Light. I’m not a huge fan of curry but this was surprisingly tasty even with the pronounced taste of the curry. The chicken was very moist (despite me being too lazy to fire up the grill and just saute-ing the chicken) and full of flavor. I was also so not threading this chicken on a skewer. That’s just way too time consuming for me. I just sauted the chicken in full breast form and then sliced when serving. Now…the sauce….mmm…a few issues with this. First, I thought I had purchased plain Greek yogurt but alas, it was vanilla so that wasn’t going to work. However, I always keep plain, fat-free yogurt on-hand so that went into it instead. Secondly, my A&P, which is completely remodeled and fancy did not carry tahini!!! So I used natural peanut butter instead. The sauce was very good, but I think unnecessary. It took away from the flavors in the chicken. I’d used the sauce on plain, grilled chicken though.

As a side I make a quick veggie salad. I used some frozen (yes, that’s right, frozen) mixed veggies (cooked and then rinsed under cold water) and threw in some red onions, tomatoes, and fresh parsley, tossed it with olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Pretty good I must say for something I threw together on the fly.

Overall: Chicken – 4 stars, Sauce – 3.5 stars, Veggie Salad – 3 stars

Chicken Shawarma

Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish of garlicky meat or poultry served on pitas. Total time: 45 minutes.

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 16 (3-inch) stripsSauce:
1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt (such as Fage)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, mincedRemaining ingredients:
Cooking spray
4 (6-inch) pitas
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
8 (1/4-inch-thick) tomato slices








1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.




Yield:  4 servingsCALORIES 384 (23% from fat); FAT 9.8g (sat 2.1g,mono 4.1g,poly 2.7g); IRON 4.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 64mg; CALCIUM 106mg; CARBOHYDRATE 40g; SODIUM 821mg; PROTEIN 34.4g; FIBER 2.5g


Cooking Light, JULY 2008

2. To prepare chicken, combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes.

3. To prepare sauce, combine yogurt and next 4 ingredients (through 1 garlic clove), stirring with a whisk.

4. Thread 2 chicken strips onto each of 8 (12-inch) skewers. Place kebabs on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until done.

5. Place pitas on grill rack; grill 1 minute on each side or until lightly toasted. Place 1 pita on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1/4 cup lettuce and 2 tomato slices. Top each serving with 4 chicken pieces; drizzle each serving with 2 tablespoons sauce.

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Polenta with stuff…

Seriously, the title of this recipe is too long (Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes, Basil and Cheese) so I condensed it for the blog title (I know how clever and witty – “stuff”??). Now if you’ve ever eaten polenta, you know that you usually need “stuff” in it or on top of it to make it better as it really is bland. I enjoy eating and making polenta because it’s quick and easy to make and it’s not a bad choice nutriontally.  This recipe was a pretty good alternative to your standard polenta recipe. It’s a good summer recipe where you can utilize the bounty of the warm months – fresh corn, fragrant basil, ripe tomatoes…I will admit I did use frozen corn this time as I find cutting corn off the cob too time consuming. I did use basil from my mini-me garden.  Overall, this made a quick, easy, tasty sidedish and is perfect with some grilled chicken or sausages (or grilled pork and green beans as Cooking Light suggests).

Overall rating – 3 stars

 Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Cheese

Corn kernels and polenta layer texture and flavor in this dish. Serve with green beans and grilled pork.
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (2 medium)
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup instant dry polenta
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, corn, and garlic; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Slowly add polenta, stirring with a whisk until polenta is thick (about 5 minutes). Add cheese, stirring to melt. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat; sprinkle with tomato and basil. Serve immediately.


Yield:  7 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)CALORIES 194 (20% from fat); FAT 4.3g (sat 1.5g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.4g); IRON 1.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 6mg; CALCIUM 134mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.6g; SODIUM 457mg; PROTEIN 8.9g; FIBER 4.6g


Cooking Light, JUNE 2008

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