Author Archives: Linda Roy

Game Day Eats That’ll Score a Touchdown

superbowl stadium food
photo: edibleblog.com

Superbowl XLIX is this Sunday, and though I’m not really a football fan, there are always two things that pull me into the festivities: the half-time show and the food.

Superbowl party food is an institution unto itself, people are pretty serious about it. Talk about stadium food; it’s now a “thing” to build elaborate stadiums made of food. A field full of guacamole, tater tot spectators , corn dogs, all shored up by Italian subs. (I’ve also seen this done with Twinkies, but I just can’t…)

Every year, leading up to the big game day, every TV show that features any kind of food segment is rife with new and exciting ideas to add to the game-day buffet. But if anything like me, a healthy appreciation for the newfangled is mixed with a traditional Thanksgiving-style stodginess for the classics. It’s a once a year opportunity to feast on all those things you wouldn’t normally give yourself permission to indulge in otherwise; at least not all at once. But I’m adventurous too, so I like to mix it up; the classics, with just enough of a unique variety to keep things interesting and fresh.

That said, I took to Pinterest, a veritable gold mine of culinary delights, and where you’ll find practically anything you’re looking for for any occasion or holiday.

Here are some of my picks for this year’s game-day feast.

My MommyStyle.com

From the deviled eggs that look like footballs, to the decadent chocolate covered strawberries that look like…footballs, and everything in between, like copycat Wingers buffalo wing sauce and who doesn’t love 7-layer bean dip? This site features 25 recipes that’ll make you culinary VIP.

Tammilee Tips

Three words: Bourbon glazed kielbasa. Hang on, stay with me here. Four ingredients, AND you make it in the slow cooker. Easy peasy.

Fabulously Frugal

Indoor S’mores! Who doesn’t want s’mores? Indoor, outdoor, whatever. But we’re talking February, so to heck with the bonfire, pass the Hershey bars.

Chef In Training

Any Superbowl party would not be compete without chili, and this recipe for cowboy chili is fantastic!

iSave A to Z 

Hot & Spicy Buffalo Wings. Because wings. But you know what’s great about these, besides the delicious part? They’re baked, not fried. You’re welcome.

Handmade in the Heartland

Pulled pork sliders, apricot glazed kielbasa, football shaped BLTs and taco cups. Handmade in the Heartland offers a collection of Superbowl fare that will please all of your guests.

Mmmm is for Mommy

How about mouth watering ribs…made in the slow cooker? Yes please. Easy and fall off the bone delicious from Mmmm is for Mommy.

Every Little Thing. 

Cocktail meatballs have to be somewhere in the mix as far as I’m concerned. These meatballs from Every Little Thing incorporate a little sweetness, a little spice, and you make ’em in the slow cooker.

the emerging foodie 

Because no Superbowl party should be without guacamole, the emerging foodie has a recipe for guacamole that’ll knock your tube socks off. And it’s made with greek yogurt and edamame in addition to the classic ingredients.

Buffalo chicken sliders. You know, just to sort of pull together the slider and the buffalo chicken themes. This recipe from Hip2Save is buffalo pulled chicken with ranch dressing mix, buffalo sauce and topped with creamy cole slaw. Yum.

Enjoy your game day, and don’t forget to watch the Puppy Bowl during commercials!

football-pug
Sorry buddy.

Freaky Food Fads and Far Fetched Fodder

tuna casserole

Photo by undress / CC BY 

I grew up eating a number of questionable things, but the one that sticks out in my brain the most is the tuna casserole my mother the recipe for from a woman’s magazine which shall remain nameless. My mother put it on the dinner table excitedly exclaiming that the dish du jour was fish and chips. This was not the fish and chips we were expecting, but rather tuna casserole topped with crushed potato chips.

To this day I tease her about it and she doesn’t quite understand what all the fuss is about. It was tuna casserole covered in chips. “What’s not to get about that?” she wants to know. I tell her it’s funny. It’s a play on words, and blame it on the magazine, but not for nothin’, it was awful.

It all sort of made me think about some of the weird, sometimes downright unappetizing foods of the past. You know, the ones photographed in stunningly horrid bleak color palettes that did anything but tempt your palate?

Here are a few freaky food fads that make me happy as a clam that trends and photography have come a long way since then.

sausage

Photo by x-ray deita one / CC BY 

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this? Me, that’s who.

meat

Photo by classic_film / CC BY

Did I know it was this good? No. No I didn’t. The hamburgers I got at home were hockey pucks cooked to smithereens in a pan on the stovetop, placed on a bun, wrapped in foil and then “finished” in the oven to a crispy crunch. I love the part that says “Nourishing meat”.  I guess ground chuck has its moments of nourishment.

jello salad

Photo by x-ray dieta one / CC BY

If you grew up in the 60s or 70s, chances are one of these beauties adorned your dinner table. Especially during the holidays.  Ah yes, the Jell-O salad! I guess this was Jell-O’s way of making us feel like a packet of colored sugar with added…uh…sugar, could be a nutritious salad. Just add fruit, present it on a bed of lettuce surrounded by tomatoes (??) and voila! You have salad! Something the whole family will enjoy.  (Said no one ever.) In my house, it was usually lime green Jell-O with mandarin oranges…wait for it…served alongside spaghetti. Mm…mm…good! The one pictured above is particularly disturbing. Is it Pimento Salad? It’s got celery and green olives floating in it. Good God, and what are the triangular things? One can only imagine. “Don’t let a week go by without serving one!” And my mother never did.

corned beef hash loaf

Photo by alsis35 / CC BY

How about a nice, tantalizing corned beef hash loaf? Mmm…sounds scrumptious, does it not? Accompanied by vegetables with all the color, flavor and nutrients boiled right out of them, this makes for a meal to remember. (That you’ll spend years trying to block from your memory)

beef wellington

Photo by LP / CC BY

Remember that standard of upper crusty living that was Beef Wellington? I didn’t, until well into my twenties, a friend made one. It’s beef wrapped in pastry dough. And for some reason, I kind of liken it to the Turducken of its time, maybe because it was a food product inside another food product. You could be fancy if you ate this dish.

What weird concoctions do you remember eating growing up?

Crepe Expectations

crepesCrepes are delicious and exotic, sweet and savory, simple yet complex, intimidating but…what are you talking about???…so easy to make!

Can we talk? I have always wanted to make crepes at home, but feeling so out of my element, fearing the technique might be so way over my head that I never attempted it. Besides, don’t you have to assemble the batter ahead of time and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for something like 20 minutes? Listen, I don’t do ahead of time too much. Especially when it’s mid-caffeinated-slowly-achieving-consciousness-o’clock, you know what I mean?

But when my 15 year old son came to me not too long ago and said “Hey Mom, can you make crepes?”, I realized the time had come to face my fear of the crepe and take the plunge. I mean, this is the kid who never offers a clue as to what he’d like to eat, but every clue as to what he doesn’t want to see on his plate.

So I Googled the recipe online, and to my great astonishment and relief, you don’t have to make the batter ahead of time, and you don’t have to chill it.  I whipped them up in under 10 minutes expecting to throw out the first batch, ala pancakes, but lo and behold, they came out perfectly the first time. I filled them with banana and Nutella, cherry pie filling, with apricot preserves, raspberry preserves and apple compote. It was a veritable crepe fest in my kitchen, yo. It was positively crepe-tastic!

And my son? He was actually impressed. He loved them! And that, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.  Or blue steel.

Then a wonderful thing happened. I mentioned my crepe experience to a friend who is culinarily in the know, telling him that I was considering investing in a crepe pan. He recommended a good, inexpensive pan and suggested I get two in order to crank the tasty discs out continuously.

A week or so before Christmas, a box arrived at my doorstep. Inside were the pans, courtesy of my culinarily in the know, incredibly thoughtful friend.  He later told me that his pans were almost black from use, with a nice patina which had formed over time and many crepes. The pans are, of course, also great for omelettes, their shallow, sloped sides, making flipping a cinch. They’re French, and they’re coated in a thin layer of wax that you don’t scrub off; that’s how they’re seasoned. You need only wash them with dish soap and a sponge, dry and further season with a light coating (about one tablespoon) of vegetable oil before the first use.

So now I’ve overcome my fear of the crepe. I make them almost weekly. Sweet, savory, dessert, breakfast, heck – I might even make a lunch crepe with ham and gruyere. Ooh – and some pear.  That rhymed.

Here is the recipe I use:  Courtesy of All Recipes.com

Makes 8 crepes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

To make: 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and eggs. Gradually add the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 for each crepe. Tilt pan in a circular motion to coat the surface evenly.

Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, flip an cook the other side.

Serve hot.

Here’s where you can get the pans. I love them and highly recommend them.

Photo by PetitPlat – Stephanie Kilgast / CC BY 

10 Ridiculous Fad Diets to Kick to the Curb

ridiculous diets

Well, it’s the new year.  The holiday party is over.  I’ll tell you what I’m over; over eating. Don’t get me wrong, I still crave those cookies, but wow, did I want salad as soon as I slid the last big holiday dinner leftovers into the fridge.

Let’s face it, many of us have been putting this weight loss thing off as long as possible. After Halloween. After Thanksgiving. After Christmas. Oh hell, I’ve come this far, why not just throw in New Years so I can have the champagne and the pigs in a blanket.

Now is the day of reckoning people. But how to begin?  I’ll tell you where not to begin…

1. The Ramen Diet. My 15 year old loves ramen. Come to think of it, so do I.  But did you realize that ramen noodles are packed with sodium? Up to 3,000 mg! And they’re high in fat.  Besides, there’s plenty of time to binge on those babies in college.

2. The TV Dinner Diet. We’re not talking about Lean Cuisine here either.  I guess the concept is portion control combined with ease of preparation. But again, fat and sodium are the culprits.  Nice try, but put that Hungry Man back into the frozen food case and back away slowly.

3. Fruitarianism. What could be so bad about eating only fruit? Besides the fact that you’re not getting a well rounded diet, although fruit contains natural sugars, it’s still a lot of sugar if that’s all you’re consuming. And the diet itself restricts dieters from eating anything that while being picked, contributed to the damage of the plant or tree, or seeds, since they will become a new plant.  Some fruitarians won’t even eat fruit picked from a tree or plant; it must fall from the tree itself. At that rate you could become very, very hungry my friend.

4. The Cookie Diet. Sounds amazing! Sign me up! Snacking only on cookies which are high in fiber, delicious and so very capable of staving off hunger until that next meal? Sounds like a plan. Until you realize you’re eating most of your calories at snack time and getting very few essential nutrients. What a let down. I had such hopes for that one.

5. The Air Food Diet. The french swear by the “L’Air” diet. Here’s what you do: cut your food into tiny bite size pieces, then pick it up with your fork and pretend to eat it. Then eat your soup instead. What’s in the soup? Water and salt, silly. Oh, don’t worry, it’s supposedly full of minerals (is that only from the non-purified water?), quenches your thirst, and think about the money you’ll save on groceries!

6. Blood Type Diet. Type O? You’re a hunter, so you should eat only meat. Type A’s are vegetarians. It all depends on your blood type. But as with most fad diets, there’s little scientific research to back up the claims that it really works.

7. Cabbage Soup Diet. Remember when Charlie Bucket’s family was so poor in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that they had to live on a steady diet of cabbage soup? I’ll tell you what. If that were true, Charlie and his grandpa wouldn’t have had to rely on fizzy lifting drinks to summon the flatulence needed to become airborne; the soup would’ve done the trick. I have to admit, I thought for a moment about maybe, possibly trying this. After all, I live in a house full of males – what’s a little more flatulence? But this diet is rife with sodium, low in nutrients, especially protein, meaning you’ll feel weak. Claims have been made that the diet will help you lose 10 pounds in a week. But that’s unlikely, not to mention unhealthy. You’ll lose weight, but it’ll be all that water. And you know what will happen when you start eating solids again. *sigh*

8. The Cereal Diet. What could be bad about this? After all, didn’t Jerry Seinfeld eat a lot of cereal? For starters, it’s full of sugar. And as with any fad diet, if you’re required to eat only one type of food, what do you do when the diet is over? How do you acclimate to a diet filled with other foods? Not to mention that cereal portions are always measured, right? A quarter cup of this one, a half cup of that one. Hey! I have an idea! How about measuring other foods? You know, like fruits, vegetables and lean meats? What? “But the cereal can be measured too?” Never mind. You’re hopeless.

9. The Master Cleanse. I’m not sure which cleanse Gwyneth is doing, but this one sounds miserable. It’s lemon water with cayenne pepper and maple syrup. You still with me? You’re not eating anything. The question is not how much you want to bet me the weight will come back, but how fast.

10. The Russian Air Force Diet. Feeling tough as nails? How about the Russian Air Force diet? Breakfast is coffee, lunch is two eggs and a tomato, and dinner is a salad with a tiny portion of meat. You in? What do you mean, “Nyet!”? Yeah, I was hoping it was vodka too.

Believe me, I could go on. There are seemingly endless possibilities in the ridiculous diet category. But we all know that moderation, portion control, eating healthy foods and exercising are all key to success when it comes to weight loss.  So don’t worry, you can still have that cake, those cookies, that muffin for breakfast. Enjoy it! Just make sure you get in some exercise and balance it with healthy foods. Kick those fad diets to the curb as you jug alongside it.

Photo by Thrice 18/3 / CC BY 

When 3750 Means Three Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty

3329547020_b122880bc9_z

The English language can be a tricky thing. And a bottle of wine can cost a hell of a lot more than you might think.

Joe Lentini learned that the hard way.

During a business dinner at Bobby Flay’s Steak at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City recently, Lentini and two of his dinner companions decided to share a bottle of wine. Lentini let the waitress know that he didn’t know too much about wine and asked her for a recommendation.  She pointed to the menu and recommended a 2011 bottle of Screaming Eagle Oakville. Since he didn’t have his glasses handy and couldn’t read the menu, Joe asked her how much the bottle would set him back.

He had no idea how much of a setback this would be.

The waitress replied “Thirty seven fifty”.  That’s right – 3750

In Joe’s and his co-workers’ world, “thirty seven fifty” means $37.50.  Okay, so it was the Borgata Hotel & Casino in luxurious downtown Atlantic City, wheeler/dealer capital of Joisey. (I encourage you to insert as much sarcasm as possible there.) But your average…uh…Joe, would never dream that what the waitress meant was actually “Three thousand, seven hundred and fifty” dollars, or clams, or whatever we’re currently calling them in Jersey.

I would’ve been screaming like an eagle too.

Naturally, Joe and his wine drinking cohorts were dumbfounded. They called over the waitress, who stood by her muddled words, they called over the Manager, who stood by the waitresses’ muddled words. And in the end, in order to be permitted to leave the premises, Joe and his dining companions were able to cut a deal with the Manager, settling on a cool $2,500 instead.

Between you and me? I would’ve popped my cork.

The argument from the point of view of the restaurant was that this is a fine dining establishment at a well known, high end, casino where they think nothing of charging and selling bottles of wine ranging well into the thousands. It just so happens, that the wine Joe ordered was the second most expensive bottle on the menu.

So why did the waitress recommend that particular bottle to a relatively un-annointed wine drinker? A cynical and probably right on the money guess would be for the lucrative 18% tip she stood to receive from the bottle in addition to what she would make from the dinner check on a party of ten.

Should Joe have had his glasses at the ready? Sure. But should the waitress have pointed out the second most expensive bottle of wine to a vino newbie? Absolutely not. Should the Manager have charged Joe and his buddies $37.50 and eaten the rest? You bet. Could Bobby Flay afford to take the hit on this one? For freakin’ sure. Will he take an even bigger hit from the media fallout from the story? I sure hope so.

When all was said and done, and Joe was asked what he thought of the most expensive bottle of wine he will consume in his lifetime, his answer was “It was okay. It was good. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t terrible. It was fine.”

And there you have it. So much for your tree-tousand-seven-huntred-and-fifty bottle-uh wine, Bobby!

Sorry Joe, I believe you just got flayed.

Why do I hear Billy Joel singing in the background? “A bottle of red…a bottle of white…costs so much I lost my appetite…”

Photo by It’s Holly / CC BY 

Pumpkin Gets a Bum Rap

8090618619_b575d24139_z

Our old friend the pumpkin. Is it just me, or does anyone else here think he’s getting a bum rap?

I mean, sure things have gone a little overboard in the last several years. By the time September rolls around, we’re deluged with so much pumpkin that we don’t know which end is up.

Just to clarify, it’s the stem end.

I get it; we’re just one Venti pumpkin spice no-foam latte away from excruciating exasperation, but you gotta admit, it tastes so good going down. I don’t know about you, but I go all weak in the knees when I cross the threshold at Yankee Candle.  As soon as I smell the pumpkin pie votives. I scoop those babies up like the free cashews at the neighborhood bar. I realize they are tainted by the unwashed hands of humanity, yet, I can’t resist their allure.

Maybe it’s just that I have an addictive personality. Too much of a good thing is never really too much for me. I’m binge watching Orange Is the New Black while the sweet aroma of pumpkin incense surrounds me in a heavenly cloud, as I reach into a bag of pumpkin spice granola until there’s nothing left but pumpkin dust and unwatched Breaking Bad episodes.

So yes, I will have another slice of pumpkin pie.  And thank you very much, I would love a pumpkin whoopie pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pudding, ice cream, soup served to me inside a festive pumpkin bowl. I will happily go all Martha in fashioning a fleet of Pinterest worthy decorative pumpkins for my front porch. Hell, just to show you I’m serious, I’m going out now to get my hands on a pint of chalkboard paint in order to go all rogue on my happy orange harvest of pumpkin friends, so as to scribe my affections onto them forthwith.

I’m a go-against-the-grain kinda gal.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, don’t blame the pumpkin. Don’t smash all his little pumpkiny hopes and dreams. He comes to the party but once a year, so he’s gotta get the glory while he can. He’s not hanging out all year with the apples and bananas. He gets the shaft the other ten months. He just wants our love and attention now, in so many varied configurations. Who could blame him? He’s carved out a nice place for himself on the societal landscape.  Perhaps we were all just taking the pumpkin for granted and suddenly realized how much it meant to us, so much that we iconized it to death. Nobody gives the Kardashians this much grief. Or maybe they do, but at least the pumpkin has done something to earn our adoration.

Why do I feel so strongly about this, you ask? What’s up with the pumpkin lady that she feels it necessary to type out a 500 word missive in defense of one of the world’s most overblown fruits?

Consider me a pumpkin advocate. If nobody stands up now, what then? Will we start taking pot shots at egg nog? If we don’t do something now, by the time February rolls around, it might be a full on war with chocolate.

So don’t be afraid to stand up and profess your love of pumpkin. It may have taken on a plethora of roles, but it truly is the Jack o’ All Trades.

Photo by Bunnyrel / CC BY