Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taste Test Tuesday: Chicken Potstickers

First...SORRY I didn't do a Six on Sunday! I had a really busy day and totally forgot (I promise to behave this week). On to my taste test...I saw Ling Ling All Natural Chicken Potstickers at Publix Greenwise Market the other day and couldn't resist. The nutritional info looked decent. I love potstickers! Eventually I will try to just make them myself. But I love convenience...especially when I get home from a long day and am too hungry to wait around for food to cook.

Serving Size: 5 pcs
Calories 260
Fat: 6g
Sodium: 620mg
Carbs: 39g
Fiber: 2g
Sugar: 5g
Protein: 13g
Rating: 4 out of 5

The instructions were pretty simple, just put them in a pot with a little oil and water and let them cook for 8 minutes. While they were steaming...I eyed the sauce that came with the potstickers and decided against it. I ended up mixing some Veri Veri Teriyaki with water and honey (I mixed it with water because the sauce is thick with a lot of sodium). It came out great! It was a thin consistency with a slight sweetness. Now time for the dumplings! I made 7 of them...2 of them came apart at the seams slightly. The wrapping of the potsticker seemed a tad bit overcooked. The filling was great! It tasted exactly like what I would get at a restaurant. It was moist and flavorful. Seven was almost too many..I think next time I'll stick to the serving size of 5 and eat a nice salad with it. It was WAY better than having a Lean Cuisine!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers Go Crackers!

I had a football party to go to (GO GATORS!) so this worked out perfectly. It was very easy to make. The crackers came out very well. They were crisp without being too hard and ha just the right amount of flavor to complement my Buffalo Chicken Dip. The dip was a huge hit at the party! People gobbled it up quickly. It's the easiest dip I've ever made, so it will definitely be in my repertoire. It's perfect for tailgating.

Lavosh Crackers* 1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp instant yeast
* 1 Tb sugar
* 1 Tb vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Joe's Stuff and Salt

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, sugar, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should be 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of salt and Joe's Stuff. Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

RECIPE - Buffalo Chicken Dip
* 2 8 oz pkgs cream cheese
* 1 cup Blue Cheese crumbles
* 1 cup Monterey Jack
* 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
* 3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce

This recipe is super easy! All you do is combine all of the ingredients in a pot over medium heat until melted. Then let cook for about 10 more minutes to meld the flavors.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Eat Out for a Good Cause

From September 21 - 28, more than 3,700 restaurants across the country are participating in Share Our Strength's Great American Dine Out. Each participating restaurant will donate a portion of their proceeds to the Share Our Strength, which works to end childhood hunger in the United States.

Click here to find a restaurant near you! A few options in the Fort Lauderdale area are Buca di Beppo, Big City Tavern and Beach Watch. Make sure to make it this weekend...the event ends on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taste Test Tuesday: Almond Breeze

On other sites I've heard good things about Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla. I have scoured many a Publix store looking for it but it seemed like they always ran out. I finally found it at Publix Greenwise!

Serving Size: 8 fl oz
Calories: 40
Total Fat: 3g
Sodium: 180mg
Carbs: 2g
Fiber: 1g
Sugars : 0g
Protein: 1g
Rating: 4 out of 5

I was excited to try this out. I wasn't sure what to make with it, but I needed some coffee big time! I found a great recipe for a cool coffee drink on Hungry Girl. I adapted it a little bit to use the almond breeze and my magic bullet blender. The recipe is below. The texture is very similar to reduced fat milk (as long as you shake it up well). It's nice and creamy. There is definitely an almond flavor but it's not overpowering. The touch of vanilla comes through. I will definitely keep buying this for drinks and my sweet concoctions.

Cool Mocha Malt (serves one)
1/3 cup Hot water
1 tsp instant coffee
2 tsp malt powder
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 1/2 packets Splenda
1/3 cup Almond Breeze (vanilla, unsweetened)
1/3 cup ice cubes

Dissolve the dry ingredients with the hot water and put in your blender. Add the Almond Breeze and Ice and blend. It's a cool and refreshing coffee drink with around 70 calories!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Six on Sunday: Burger Time!

I love burgers! They are easy to make and really delicious, even a the fake "Boca Burger" tastes great. I love to come up with different toppings for them. Here is a good one I came up with. This recipe serves 2, enjoy!

Mediterranean Burgers
2 Burger Patties (I used Boca for this one)
2 Hamburger Buns
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tbsp crumbled Feta Cheese
2 tbsp sliced Olives

Prepare your burger patties and buns the way you like it. While the burgers are cooking, combine the mustard, olives, and feta until everything is well mixed. When burgers are done, place the olive feta mix on top and then plop it on the bun. If you have sun dried tomatoes on hand...that would be a good addition too!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Food Fact Friday: Chicken Cordon Bleu

September is National Chicken Month...woohoo! Seriously though, I do eat a lot of chicken. Probably 80% of all the protein I eat (As you can see by all the chicken recipes). It's very versatile and relatively inexpensive. I was thinking about all of the yummy ways to eat it, and Chicken Cordon Bleu kept popping in my head. I mean, what's better than stuffing cheese and meat into more meat then frying it?! Below is what I could find about this delicious dish. For a really good recipe, Click here.

First for the term, "Cordon Bleu". This was originally a wide blue ribbon worn by members of the highest order of knighthood in France. By extension, the term has since been applied to food prepared to a very high standard and to outstanding cooks. The analogy was from the similarity between the sash worn by the knights and the ribbons (which at the time, were almost always blue) of a cook's apron.

The first known dish with "Cordon Bleu" in the name is Veal Cordon Bleu, a Swiss dish in which veal is wrapped in ham and Gruyere and fried. Food historians believe that Americans adapted this recipe to include chicken instead of veal, and substituted Swiss cheese for Gruyere. The term "Chicken Cordon Bleu" first appeared in airline ads in the 60's, when they were focusing on the elegance and luxury of flying.

Chicken Cities Tidbit: There are four places in the United States with the word "chicken" in their name: Chicken, Alaska; Chicken Bristle in Illinois and Kentucky; and Chicken Town, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Taste Test Tuesday: Ezekiel Bread

On to another healthy pick that I've been eating regularly lately. Buying bread in the freezer section of the grocery store kinda scared me. I thought it wouldn't be good. But I heard lots of good things about Ezekiel 4:9 and all of it's healthy ingredients. So I gave it a try. Now I'm hooked!

Price: $3.99/loaf
Serving Size: 1 slice
Calories: 80
Fat: .5g
Carbs: 15g
Protein: 4g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 0g
Sodium: 75 mg
Rating: 4 out of 5

They call it Ezekiel 4:9 because of this bible verse, "Take also unto thee Wheat, and Barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and Spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it...". It's 100% natural and organic. It's lightly processed, so your body processes it better than regular bread.

Now for the taste testing...It's kind of a pain to defrost because the slices like to stick together. What I usually do for sandwiches is just defrost the slices enough so I can pull them apart, then put my toppings on it then pop it into the microwave (for no more than 20 seconds) or the toaster oven. It tastes great warm and especially toasted. When warmed, it has a great nutty taste that regular bread doesn't have. But it's not great when it's cold. It's also a little more crumbly than regular bread (but who knows how chemicals are used to create "softness"). If you haven't tried it yet, give it a go to see if it's your cup of tea. One of my new favorite ways to prepare it is toasted with peanut butter and bananas!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Food Fact Friday: Slow Food

The new term, "Slow Food", is becoming more and more popular. There was even an event in San Francisco called Slow Food Nation recently. I know it is mostly about eating locally grown food, but I wanted to find out more...

The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 to combat fast food. It claims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within a local region.

The Slow Food movement incorporates a series of objectives within its mission, including:
- forming and sustaining seed banks to preserve heirloom varieties in cooperation with local food systems
- developing an "ark of taste" for each ecoregion, where local culinary traditions and foods are celebrated
- preserving and promoting local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation
- educating consumers about the risks of fast food
- educating citizens about the drawbacks of commercial agribusiness and factory farms
- teaching gardening skills to students and prisoners
- encouraging ethical buying in local marketplaces

I try to eat local when I can, but I feel this is pretty difficult in South Florida. I even went to a farmers market and everything was imported. Anyone have any good tips?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Get Some Flavor...

We're smack in the middle of the inaugural Flavor Palm Beach, where some great restaurants in Palm Beach County are offering a 3 course menu for a nice price, $20 for lunch and $30 for dinner. This only runs through the end of September, so there are only a couple weeks left to take advantage. I'm definitely going to go to at least one. My problem is Miami Spice goes on at the same time too...there are way too many good restaurants to go to!

When I was looking at the menus, some sound really appealing and some just don't seem worth it. The first place I really want to try is Forte di Asprinio, which is owned by Top Chef's infamous Stephen Asprinio (I've been to the bar there, but not yet to eat...and yes...I saw Stephen). The two things that really interested me were the local corn zuppa with crispy pancetta and brioche gnocchi appetizer and the wood burning oven-roasted local grouper “ivornese with marscapone polenta and asparagus. Some other menus that looked good were Strip House and iii Forks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Taste Test Tuesday: PB2

I forgot how I first heard about PB2, but my first thought was..."This stuff has to be gross!" If you haven't heard of PB2, it's a powdered peanut butter. They make it by extracting the oil from the peanuts (The same company sells peanut oil too). It's all natural, mostly peanuts, with just a touch of salt and sugar. All you do is add water to the powdered peanuts and voila, you have peanut butter. I read lots of good reviews about it, so I took the plunge and bought one jar on ebay to test it out (It's not in any stores around South Florida, but you can check on their site for a store near you).

Cost: $3.99/jar in a 4 pack from their website (plus shipping)
Nutrition Info for 2 tablespoons:
Calories: 53.2
Fat: 1.87 g
Protein: 5.65g
Carbs: 3.4g
Fiber: .48g
Sodium: 77.6 mg
Sugar: 1.66g
Rating: 5 out of 5

My box arrived and I was craving a PB&J sandwich so I cracked open the jar and was ready to go. I followed the easy directions...take 2 tablespoons of the PB2 and mix it with 1 tablespoon water. So far so good, at least it looked like peanut butter. Before I condemned by bread and jelly to an unknown fate, I had to taste a little bit. Wow...it was awesome! It tasted just like peanut butter and had basically the same texture (maybe just a little less "mouthfeel" because most of the fat was missing). I made my PB&J and was thrilled. I now have no reason to miss the real thing. I know regular natural peanut butter has healthy fats, but I get enough fat in other ways. So PB2 is now my new peanut butter staple. I have been eating this stuff every day...you gotta try it...you'll love it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Taste Test Tuesday: Fruit & Yogurt Parfait

We stopped at McDonald's right before our drive to New Orleans. It was early in the morning, and my hunger was creeping in. I new the next 5 days would be full of delicious foods...andouille...fried shrimp...beignets. My heart told me to order the McGriddle (Mc D's best invention...damn you IFF!)...but my mind told me to order the Parfait. I decided to listen to my mind.

Calories: 160 (for a 5.3 oz serving)
Protein: 4g
Fat: 2g
Carbs: 31g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 85 mg
Sugar: 21g
Rating: 4 out of 5

When the person at the drive thru handed it over, my first thought was, "Whoa this is tiny!". You can see by the serving size...it's almost 2/3 of a cup. I think they should increase the size to 1 cup (or have a "large" option). That makes for a better breakfast if this is all you're going to eat. The fruit to yogurt ratio looked good. The fruit was mixed berries, and they looked fresh. I took the little packet of granola and poured it in. I mixed everything up and took a bite. I was very impressed! The yogurt is sweetened nicely. It has a slight vanilla flavor which goes very well with the fruit. The granola gave it a nice crunch. I would definitely get this again...maybe even order it as a side dish instead of fries. Give this one a try if you haven't yet.