That’s me on the way to the airport. Not!
But, you may see me eating in New York and/or in Boston over the next couple of weeks.
I’ll try to keep up with my blog and community visits, but I don’t know if I’ll be posting anything in between, so here’s some suggestions to remember me by while I’m gone:
Plans are in the works to do it again with different locations.
Living the dream in the Italian countryside.
• Looking for a food challenge?
Our Family Food Fight will provide some inspiration on how to “get it on” with your loved ones. Or try hosting a friend’s food challenge at your home? Here’s the ‘how-to’.
• OR…you could just start anticipating a new look at FOODalogue.
We’re going through a makeover behind the scenes. The facelift will be revealed on or about our first anniversary the end of July along with lots of fanfare!
Ciao for now.
These 2 recipes with spaghetti squash will make you forget you’re eating a vegetable instead of pasta. Trust me…I am the Pasta Lover Queen and if I say this is a good substitute, you can take that to the bank. Make that the First National Calorie & Carb Savings Bank!
For anyone unfamiliar with spaghetti squash, it is generally available year round though it’s supposedly at its peak in the fall. While it doesn’t have a distinct taste, it does have texture and, therefore, can be subsituted for pasta, rice or other starches. Somewhat like tofu, it takes on the flavor of what you mix it with. It also somewhat reminds me of the experience you have if you ever ordered a combo plate of ribs and chicken at a barbeque place? Didn’t the chicken and ribs taste exactly the same? What about breading and frying? You basically taste the breading and frying. This is not that different, only healthier. It’s all about the preparation.
1/2 spaghetti squash (fork shredded)
handful or two of fresh spinach
a few calamata olives smashed and pitted
3 marinated artichoke hearts chopped
feta (small amount or to taste)
mozzarella (small amount or to taste)
Bake whole, microwave or boil till fork tender. Halve and remove seeds and then begin shredding process with a fork (making spaghetti). Toss with a drizzle olive oil and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning*. Layer half of the mixture into an oiled pan, top with spinach, artichokes, feta, top with remaining spaghetti squash, sliced tomatoes, olives and sprinkling of mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Serves 2 for dinner with a salad or other side, or 4 side dishes as a vegetable, or 1 hungry person (oops, did I say that?)
So we still have another half of the squash left and I just love this Spaghetti Trio. (I guess because it incorporates a little real pasta.)The Holy Trio: julienned zucchini, 1-2 ozs spaghetti per person, spaghetti squash. Boil spaghetti, drain and toss with spaghetti squash and zucchini in a skillet with sauce ingredients (below) to meld flavors.
The sauce: Mix olive oil, juice of a lemon, garlic, squeeze of tomato, anchovy, black olive pastes.
*Italian Seasoning: I’m loving this mixture of capers, olives and oregano that someone gave me as a gift.
Finishing Touch: Another sprinkle of Italian Seasoning, a dash of red pepper flakes, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
It’s a very versatile vegetable. Do you have any favorite recipes to share that include spaghetti squash?
Now that Spring has sprung and most areas are on the verge of the official summer season, the blogosphere is afire (pun intended) with what’s on the grill. It’s hamburgers here and hamburgers there. So I decided to add my two cents with this ‘different burger with a different topping’. You might want to add it to your repertoire.
Turkey Burger with Feta + Date Filling
and Topped with a Warm Salad of Caramelized Radish
This combination offers up a taste of sweet, peppery, salty and vinegary all in one bite.
Burger Ingredients + Method (I’ll leave measurements to your tastes)
burger seasoning (I used Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning)
2 teaspooons each crumbled feta and minced dates (per burger)
Mix gently and split mixture for each burger. Shape burger bottom and add filling, then top burger with remaining meat mixture and form and close mixture around sides to keep filling in. Grill, bake, broil or cook stove top. I pan crusted mine stove top and then finished in the oven about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Caramelized Radish Ingredients + Method
radish sliced thinly
balsamic glaze (or reduced vinegar)
Toss sliced radish with olive oil, S+P and saute for a few minutes. Add balsamic syrup/glaze (once around the pan) and cover till tender. Remove cover and let reduce.
I served it on a toasted ciabatta roll with some curly endive for crisp fresh taste. Note: To save calories, I used only half of the roll for mine. Aren’t I a good girl? Anyway, did you get a gander at the size of that burger?!
Addendum: Sending this burger over to Chez Us for their ultimate burger contest.
See this powdery white stuff sitting on a spoon? It can save you money. And, no, it’s nothing I’ve been mis-using in any manner to create some drug-induced delusion. But I am on a high!
It’s corn starch. And it’s magical.
I read somewhere that the best glass and mirror cleaner was 2 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 1 quart of water. Being frustrated with the streaks that even the best (highest priced) cleaners left, I decided to try it. I’ve been experimenting for several weeks before going public with the news…it really works!
I’ve been using the solution:
• in the shower;
• around the bathroom sink basin/countertop, faucets;
• all glass tables;
• kitchen countertops;
• stove top;
• stainless steel work table;
• and to clean the inside of the refrigerator.
It was working everywhere so, today, I gingerly sprayed some on a cloth and wiped down leather furniture and even passed it over the wood. And I can’t wait to try it as a spray starch when I iron. OMG, did I say that? Maybe I am inhaling some because I never, ever said that before! I mean, really, not ever!
I looked at several brands of corn starch in the supermarket and, interestingly, not one of them has ‘household cleaning’ as a suggested use, so I looked on the internet and found this website that says corn starch is one of the lesser known natural cleaning agents.
How Much You Can Save
The highest priced corn starch was Argo at $1.69 for 1 lb.; most others were about $1.29. If more mathematical minds than me can figure out how many tablespoons of corn starch are in 1 lb., then divide that by 2 (2 tablespoons) to figure out how many quarts of solution can be made, I’d love to know. I’m thinking a lot.
Meantime, as comparison, this could be your savings (x how many times a year you buy these products) versus a $1.50 or less for corn starch.
Arm & Hammer All Purpose Cleaner, 32 ozs. $2.99
Sprayway Stainless Steel Cleaner, 15 ozs. $4.19
Windex, 26 ozs. $2.99
Arm & Hammer Shower Spray, 32 ozs. $2.49
Weinman Leather Wipes, 30 sheets, $3.19
Pledge, 16 ozs. $4.29
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my money in the wine aisle! And it’s so empowering to not buy in (figuratively and literally) to the hype. Let’s save money and help the planet.
I invite you to share any similar tips in the comments section of this post.
Top Round Steak Stuffed with Boniato Mash on a Black Bean Purée
Boniato is a root vegetable in the potato family and very popular in Latin kitchens. It is known by several names: Sweet White Potato, Batata, Cuban Sweet Potato, White Yam, Florida Yam, Camote (and Kumara in Polynesia). There is a sweet back taste but it is not as sweet as the traditional orange-colored sweet potato.
To Cook Boniato:
It’s a sucker to peel so I suggest boiling till tender, draining and then peel.
To Make Mash:
Break down with a fork and add a little olive oil and chicken broth to moisten so that immersion blender can make a mash. Sprinkle nutmeg (optional).
Top Round Steak Thin-Sliced well-seasoned with your favorite steak seasoning.
Quick sear on high. Do not overcook.
Black Bean Purée:
1 can Goya Black Bean Soup
Pulse/puree half of the can with a couple of dashes of cider vinegar, hot sauce and oregano. Then fold in the remaining half (whole beans) into the puree.
Lay out steak, fill with boniato mash, and roll. Place in oven or under broiler for a few minutes to reheat and unite flavors. Layer plate with black bean puree and top with rolled steak.
OK, now the surprise is out of the bag. It’s a pork meatball with a surprise chorizo filling served with Mojo Rojo (piquillo pepper sauce).
Ingredients/Recipe for the Meatball
1 lb of ground pork
1-1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 egg beaten with a splash (or two) of hot sauce
1/2 cup of parsley
1 clove of garlic minced
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced chorizo
Mix all ingredients except bread crumbs and chorizo. Start forming meat ball and squish a little chorizo in the center and reform to cover filling. Roll in bread crumbs. Bake in 350 degree oven about 30 minutes. Makes about 10 small meatballs.
Piquillo Pepper Sauce (Mojo Rojo)
1/2 cup of piquillo peppers (or pimentos)
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tbl slivered almonds
a few drops of sherry vinegar
Pulse all the ingredients till they emulsify.
To Serve: Place on skewer (background second photo) or puddle sauce and make a ‘pincho’ (a Basque tapa) by placing the meatball on small toast with a Spanish olive topper.
What I liked best: It’s a given that meatballs, especially made with pork and a chorizo filling, would be tasty so what really did it for me with this preparation was the fennel seed in the meat mixture and the contrast (both in taste and appearance) of the sweet piquillo pepper sauce.
Ahi (that’s its Hawaiian name) Tuna is actually yellowfin tuna which is found in the open waters of tropical and subtropical seas worldwide.
While there has been a lot of controversy about the level of mercury in tuna, it seems to be targeted more at the bluefin variety than yellowfin. In an interesting article from the Seattle Times, they note that the environmental agency, Oceana, cited that the yellowfin tuna sold at Costco and imported from the Philippines contained acceptable amounts of mercury. Happily, that’s where I bought mine. It was beautiful, thick, and reasonably-priced.
I guess like everything else…’moderation’ is the key. And, nutritionally, it stacks up very well with only 140 calories for a 4 oz. portion, no saturated fat, only 4 grams of carbs, and a whopping 25 grams of protein.
With Tri-Colored Asian Slaw and Toasted Edamame
The tuna was marinated with ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and lime juice and pan-seared. The slaw was a chiffonade of red cabbage, spinach, carrots, basil, slivered almonds and tossed with a dressing of olive oil, rice wine vinegar, a little chile paste, basil and ginger. The finishing touch was the toasted edamame.
Coat tuna with a mixture of olive oil, anchovy paste and S&P. Quickly pan sear all sides on a high flame and set aside. In same pan, add your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce but be sure to include: garlic, lots of capers, parsley red pepper flakes, slivered sweet pimentos (I used Goya’s piquillo) and black & green olives. Then return tuna to pan to finish cooking (medium-rare temperature about 10 minutes on a low heat). Best over a thin spaghetti, but I was busting to try these large Pennoni.
Poached Tuna & Couscous
If I had a shotgun to my head and had to choose, I’d say this was my favorite of the 3.
Poaching: Make a poaching liquid of 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white wine, juice of 1 lemon. Add a few thin slices of lemon, a couple of garlic cloves, and thyme. Cook low for about 5-7 minutes. (Note: It didn’t exactly cover the fish but I turned it several times and spooned over.) Reserve liquid.
Couscous: I love Israeli couscous…mainly because it’s not really couscous but pasta! And I love it most especially when I cook it with all these Mediterranean flavors: chopped tomatoes, capers, Manzanilla olives, leftover stewed garbanzos (made with chorizo and very flavorful).
Finishing Touches: (I really love finishing touches…taking a great meal and sending it over the top of the culinary moon). For this one, I topped each piece of fish with one of the lemon pieces that was poached with it (so sweet tasting) and added a dollop of Avocado “Butter” made by smashing a piece of avocado with S&P, parsley, and a little olive oil. And remember that poaching liquid made with oil, white wine and lemon juice? Pour it over the couscous and toss. HEAVEN!