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Foodie Resolutions: A five-year recap

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I came across an article on MSN Food & Drink in January 2015 that outlined new things that foodies should try in the new year.

The article (now accessible via PopSugar) really inspired me over the years to make and tackle some of my own "foodie resolutions" as well as see how many I could cross off from this list. Today, I'm revisiting some of them, five years later, as a recap of what I've accomplished.

Raw-curious: A whos-who of raw food

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This installment of my raw food series discusses some of the people and brands that focus on raw living. In case you missed it, read some reasons why you might try a raw food diet and essential tools for raw cooking to make the process easier and more enjoyable. As a reminder, I'm not a dietician or medical professional, so please consult with your doctors before changing your eating habits or starting any new diets. Also, this is not a sponsored post or endorsement made in coordination with or paid by any of the brands or individuals mentioned here. 

Bobby Flay. Ina Garten. Emeril Lagasse. Rachael Ray. When it comes to a who's who of cooking, any fans of food could probably also rattle off these familiar names. Those four come to mind first for me, having watched the Food Network since what seems like "day 1"and more precisely, back when the OJ Simpson trial was dominating the news.

Really. I remember this because my mom was, and still is, a fan of anything involving law and politics. We upgraded our cable package so we could have the channels that would cover the Simpson trial 24/7 instead of just the highlights that would come on the evening news.

The Food Network was only included in these higher-priced packages at the timeFoodTV, as it once wasso the perk for little ol' me was that this was now my chance to watch it at home, not just at my grandparent's house. The Essence of Emeril, hosted of course by Emeril Lagasse, was my favorite. And when we got our first family computer (a Packard Belldid anyone else have one of those?!) and printer (a HP and still to this day I have an HP printeralbeit a more modern one ;), I remember printing some of his more complicated recipes that, one day, I hoped to be able to master.

Learning about raw food introduced me to a whole new set of chefs as well as brands, some of which I'd like to share with you. Have a favorite raw chef or brand that's not mentioned here? I'd love to know about them, so leave me a comment!

Devils on Horseback

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Also known as stuffed dates, these are a great addition to your tapas board or as a quick and simple appetizer with cocktails before a meal. They're salty, sweet, and incredibly addictive... impossible to eat just one! This recipe makes a dozen but it's foolproof: scale it to make as many as you'd like.

If blue cheese typically isn't your jam, a creamy gorgonzola is a good choice that is a little milder. If you love blue cheese as much as I do, St. Agur is fantastic, probably one of my favorite blue cheeses to both use in recipes as well as just eat by itself with some crackers, since it's so damn delicious. It's also made with vegetarian-based rennet.

Menu Idea: Tapas Tonight

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In my house, warm weather, when nobody feels like looking or standing over a stove, calls for something quick and easy to eat. If the last thing that you can imagine doing is turning on the stove and you're craving something easy to nosh on that doesn't take a lot of time to assemble, try tapas.

Tapas are Spanish-style appetizers or small bites that are really fun to eat. It's one of my favorite things to enjoy at a restaurant—and going to restaurants that serve tapas is probably one of the things I've missed the most lately about "normal" life—where typically 2-4 per person makes for a good main course meal. And it's more fun when you have a variety to share with your partner or a group: some seafood, cheese and fruit; some hot and some cold.

Try these ideas a spread of Mediterranean-style tapas that you can make at home for a quick lunch or dinner.

Spicing-up take out: Chinese

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What's that one thing you really crave when a food craving hits? Pick your poison: savory or sweet. Maybe it's a really decadent chocolate dessert? Or a fresh, piping hot pizza with all of your favorite toppings?

You know that feeling of having a craving that just needs to be satisfied. A desire for something, you can practically taste whatever it is. Sometimes, the end result is amazing. Other times?

One of the worst food-related things that can probably happen in my opinion is having a craving for something, finally eating it, and having it be an epic fail. Talk about a letdown!

This happened to me recently with Chinese food. Dave and I try not to get take-out food too often, since it's expensive and not always the healthiest. But one night recently, neither of us felt like turning on a stove, firing up the grill, cutting seemingly endless amounts of produce, or doing anything for dinner other than picking up a fork (or chopsticks) and calling it a day. I ordered shrimp with broccoli, no sauce, and I couldn't wait to eat it after not having it in a while.  

Granted, it came without sauce, but on the first bite... something wasn't right. It didn't taste bad, i.e. spoiled, but it didn't hit the spot. Added a little soy—still not right. 

Then, the lightbulb went off in my head: make a quick sauce. Soy sauce needed some help from its friends ginger and garlic if there was any hope to save this dish.

The quest for a less-sweet lemon bar: The classic

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Every time I make one of my all-time favorite desserts, lemon bars, I'm always reminded of the insane amount of refined sugar that most recipes require. I tell myself the next time I'll find a better recipe that uses less sugar. But when that next time comes, the same thing happens.

I mean, 3 cups of sugar for a filling? Lemon bars are supposed to be sweet, but... yuck...

For that reason, I adapted Ina Garten's recipe to create a less-sweet version that cuts out half of the sugar in the filling and half in the crust.