Taste Testing: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Move over, cat videos. Tasty videos are the new online obsession.

We’ve all seen these posted on Facebook from Buzzfeed Food and others. These videos feature a person making a recipe, all filmed from his or her point of view. Some are narrated and others just feature catchy music and captions to go along with the video. The end result is often a delicious and mouthwatering dish that we’re lead to believe (because we just saw whole the process) is a cinch to make.

Tasty videos are always entertaining to watch, but there are some recipes I see and my immediate reaction is, Really? Looks like a hot mess to me…

About a month ago, one really caught my eye as something that could just be crazy enough to work: Chicken Bacon Ranch pasta, posted by Twisted Food on Facebook.

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Pantry Raid: Curried Chicken Salad

Shortly after I started eating meat more regularly, I saw Ina Garten make curried chicken salad on an episode of her show, Barefoot Contessa. My immediate thought was that it looked good (and, duh, her food always looks amazing) and sounded different, but I didn’t immediately put it at the top of my “recipes to try” list, and here’s why.

I took a big pause at the idea of curry and chutney mixed together, really skeptical about how two strong-tasting ingredients like that would taste when mixed together. Also, I was never a big fan of traditional chicken salad. Growing up, my dad and I would go out for sandwiches for lunch on a regular basis. Whenever I ordered chicken salad from a nearby deli or restaurant, it often tasted bland and mushy, with tiny pieces of chicken and not enough crunch from celery and onion to make up for the amount of mayo put in the salad.

Knowing that Ina has rarely led me astray, I gave the recipe a try and was soon obsessed. For a while I made this salad at least once a week, without fail, to bring to work for lunch. It has a totally unexpected flavor on account of the chutney and curry, which do taste good together after all. It’s creamy without tasting like eating a spoonful of mayo, and super-crunchy from the celery and cashews, one of my favorite nuts.

Ina’s Curried Chicken Salad has become a pantry staple recipe; I keep the ingredients on-hand for whenever I’m in the mood to make a quick dinner or lunch for work. Using the original recipe as a guide, here are a few things that I like to adjust when I make it.

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Homemade Aioli: Take 1

Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday! Mine was both productive and relaxing. Steve and I worked in the garden, weeding and spreading top soil, and I continued sorting and throwing away old stuff from the basement, trying to get moving-ready for when the time comes. The day in the city on Saturday with my mom to see Jersey Boys was fantastic, too.

Speaking of the garden, my first purple bell pepper is growing nicely! It was about the size of a kumquat, but it got much bigger just in the past week or two. We also have quite a few blooms on our Japanese eggplant and cucumber plants, sunflowers shooting up and zinnias starting to sprout (two of my favorite flowers), and healthy herb plants. Exciting!

I also managed to knock-off one of my foodie goals for this year during dinner on Sunday (grilled Dundore & Heister hamburgers and hot dogs from Easton Public Market, veggie burgers, and Greek tatzki pasta salad.) I made homemade aioli to go with the burgers, and all-in-all it was a good first attempt. I hit some roadblocks when it came to the flavor, though, but as far as the process? That was a cinch.

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What is Kombucha?

Last year, I took a long weekend and drove down to Maryland to see my friend. At one point during the visit, we were eating dinner and I saw her open up a curious, brightly colored orange drink. It wasn’t a soda, but made a similar “fizzy” noise every time the cap was taken on and off.

The drink, as it turns out, was kombucha, a beverage made by fermenting tea and other flavorings with a bacteria and yeast starter called a scoby. The smell was sour and fruity, like oranges or lemons. I took a sip and wasn’t turned off, but my first taste left something to be desired.

Earlier this year, though, I came across a whole shelf of kombucha varieties in the organic section of Wegmans. I was determined to try it again to see if I could develop a taste for what was supposed to be an incredibly nutritious drink and a source of natural probiotics.

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