Showing posts with label grocery treasures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grocery treasures. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Panzanella with Balsamico Di Modena

About a month ago I took a trip to PA. My sister and I had so much fun shopping their cute boutiques, enjoying the beautifully manicured grounds, and eating at their great local pub. I especially loved the several book stores and specialty food and cooking shops that they had there. I spent hours wondering, looking like a glazed over kid in a candy shop. One of the last shops I went to was a fantastic Italian shop called the Casa Casale, with an enthusiastic owner who quickly became my best friend. She let me sample all sorts of stuff, every one as delicious as the last. But then she let me sample this, and I was hooked.

There is a very long and interesting process in making the Balsamic Di Modena, which is a lovely balsamic vinegar. Long story short, it takes at least five years to age, switching from barrel to barrel all made of different woods. It's also incorporated with grapes, figs, juniper berries, cherries, mulberries and a bunch of other good stuff. The finished product is thick like a syrup, and delightfully sweet, along with the rich tanginess of vinegar. I sampled it, giggled like a little girl and immediately bought it. This is one of those products that does not need much at all to compliment it. In fact, you are practically looking for any vehicle you find to prevent yourself from simply drinking it straight from the bottle. It's so delicious on strawberries and melon, it does something completely different to the fruit. If using it on salads, it's recommended to not even mix in oil, or any other ingredient for that matter.

A beautiful product like this calls for beautiful fresh ingredients. I thought panzanella would be perfect, and another first for me. Panzanella is a really simple salad that is usually made of stale bread and tomatoes. I also added chopped red onions, cucumbers, fresh basil and halved bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls). Tossed it with a small amount of the vinegar and kosher salt, and you have sheer loveliness on a plate. I love the sweetness of the Balsamic Di Modena, but it would also be very delicious with any viniagrette. It's a light and healthy salad with a ton of flavor.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm Still Here!!

Hello my food-lovin' friends! I miss ya'll and I'm sorry that I haven't been around to say hi, but I've also LOVED my time with my family. We're in Idaho now, and the weather has been gorgeous. We've been enjoying all sorts of delicious food, especially Mexican food, which is scarce in Philly! I miss food blogging, but I do admit, sitting down to eat without having to take pictures of every plate is nice. I will definitely be back, but I am enjoying the break!

In the meantime, here are some food, and non-food related recommendations for you.

Have you ever tried these tortillas?

I generally prefer corn tortillas over flour, but sometimes they're a bit dry and crumbly for me. La Tortilla Factory makes corn tortillas that are so good, I would practically eat legos off of them. They are very soft, slightly sweet and delightfully chewy. They will not split or crumble at all and will be the shining star of any Mexican dish you'll make. So far I've made enchiladas, taco, quesadillas and fajitas with them and I can't get enough!

And second, I thought I'd share a website that has brought hours of late night giggling. Have you checked out The Oatmeal? It's basically made up of a bunch of silly cartoons, all with different scenarios, but it is HILARIOUS! A few of my favorites are How to Suck at Facebook, Minor Differences, and Ten Reasons to Stop Talking on the Phone. There is a bit of language in them, but they've had me laughing until my tummy ached! My favorite time to read them is late at night, I tend to laugh at everything when I'm sleep deprived.

Anywho, I just wanted to stop in and say hi. I'm going to do my best to check in on your blogs, but if I can't, I will definitely be back sometime in August. I hope you are all having wonderful summers with lots of sun, good company, and of course, great FOOD!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Quinoa Salad with Mandarine Oranges and Capers

I feel like I've learned so much through the food blog world. I've learned about ingredients and techniques that I didn't even know existed until now. Quinoa is one of those things. When I first heard about it, I didn't even know how to say it, I thought it was pronounced Ki-no-ah. Turns out you pronounce it keen-wah. Well, however you want to say it, you should definitely try it. It's made of small grains that you boil and turn into just about whatever you want. They are small, soft and remind me of a cross between tapioca and wheat grains. It's also crazy healthy for you, and fun to eat!

I made this salad simply by pulling ingredients out of the frigde that I thought would be good together. It turned out to be so good, and I was also able to use my Newman's Own Balsamic Dressing that I got a few months ago. This salad was so clean tasting and refreshing with a lot of great flavors. I especially loved the contrast of the salty capers with the sweet mandarine oranges. This would be great for a BBQ or any get-together.

Quinoa Salad with Mandarine Oranges and Capers


2 cups of prepared quinoa (use directions on the box)
1 medium can of Mandarine Oranges
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons red onion, or shallot, chopped
1/4 cup Monterey Jack or Feta cheese, chopped into small pieces
2-3 teaspoons Newman's Own Balsamic Dressing, enough to moisten entire salad.


Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep chilled.

I served this alongside a BLT, one of my favorites! To kick it up a knotch, try this spread out...

It's a sandwich spread that is full of peppercorns, dijon and lots of fantastic flavor. You could use it on sandwiches, burgers, breakfast sammies, you name it. I'm not being endorsed in any way to promote this stuff, I just really happen to like it!

Monday, February 1, 2010


My husband was raised in Texas, which has given him a taste of good old southern food. One particular thing he asks for quite a bit is brisket, a cut of meat that I'm not very familiar with, and definitely never cooked before. So finally a few Sundays ago we thought we'd try our hand at some good old southern brisket. We found a lovely cut at Costco (I love Costco, I really do), and I found a recipe for a marinade at Recipezaar. Now, from what I understand brisket is normally dry rubbed and then smoked, but we thought we'd try something different. We cooked it in the oven for about five hours. We went about our business while it was cooking, and when we walked into our apartment complex (mind you, we live on the second floor), we could smell the brisket in the lobby! And it smelled GOOD! I made two briskets and I shredded the first one, which I thought it would be okay since it was practically falling apart after being cooked for so long. Not a good idea, it was tough, stringy and dry after I shredded it. Slice it, against the grain, and it will be juicy and rich with a great bark on the outside. I'm definitely sold on brisket now, but I do think next time I'll be more traditional and make it with a dry rub.



4-6 lbs beef brisket trimmed
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Mix ingredients and cover both sides of meat. If you do this with your hands, you may want to use gloves so you don't smell like liquid smoke for four days, it's strong stuff!
2. Wrap in foil and seal.
3. Marinate overnight in refrigerator.
4. Bake in 300°F oven for 5 hours, or at 275°F for 6 hours. May cover with barbecue sauce during last hour, leaving uncovered. I suggest Sweet Baby Ray's!

I served this with a broccoli salad, which I will post later and these mixed fingerling potatoes, that I also found at Costco. They are white, red and purple little potatoes that are so good coated in olive oil, herbs and roasted. Look for them next time you're there, they're so fun!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Roasted Veggie and Hummus Sandwich

If anyone inspires me as a cook, it's definitely my mom. Growing up, I really can't remember a night that we didn't get to sit down to a hot, delicious meal. She was even able to turn leftovers into a lovely dinner. After all her years of cooking, she has perfected many of her dishes to be some of the best food I've ever tasted. To this day I still haven't have salmon or ribs that rival hers. Having moved away from her makes me long for her food as well as admire her even more for the person and cook that she is!

We were able to go home over Christmas, which was basically a two week GORGE fest of some of the best food imaginable. But there were points in the week that our bodies were screaming for mercy and begging for something light and healthy. To meet those needs my mom made these delicious roasted veggie sandwiches with her homemade hummus that were to DIE for. Her hummus had just the right amount of bite and sharpness, paired with the sweetness of the roasted veggies and the softness of the bread, oh, a veggie lover's dream come true. I ended up requesting the same sandwich three days in a row and I've been craving them ever since!

There is no wrong way to make these, and I did make mine a little differently then my mom's. She used kaiser rolls and added thick slices of provolone, and while I would LOVE to do that, I'm trying to keep things as light as possible. So I used these awesome Sandwich Thins that you can find at Costco. They are like thin hamburger buns, they are delicious, with just the right density and are only one point each! If you are trying to cut carbs or calories out of your diet, I highly suggest these, I use them for breakfast sandwiches, fill them full of lunch meat, and have even used them for burgers, they're great.

For these sandwiches you can either buy or make your own hummus. There is a huge variety of wonderful hummus at the grocery store right now, but I'm still a fan of my own. Hummus is really easy to make and there are a million different ways to make mine. Traditionally the base of hummus is chickpeas (garbanzo beans), but you could also use things like edamame, white beans, artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers. My mom adds things like red onion and tahini to hers, which gives it such a rich tangy flavor. Mine is really simple, and very garlicky, here is the recipe.


1 can garbanzo beans
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1-2 teaspoons cumin
1-2 teaspoons garlic salt
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Combine beans, garlic, cumin, garlic salt, and lemon juice in a food processor. Blend until grainy. While blending, add olive oil in a steady stream until desired consistency. I love to serve these with pita chips.

I just recently tried this using water instead of olive oil to cut out some fat, didn't work! It took out all of the elasticity and I really missed the pungent flavor of the olive oil, it's worth the extra calories, trust me.

For your veggies, just chop up your favorite veggies in bite sized pieces, all roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. My favorites are asparagus, mushrooms (portabello or cremini), red pepper, zucchini, summer squash and onions. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with Kosher salt and pepper and toss on a cookie sheet. I roast them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until they are soft and browned.

Spread hummus on your roll or bread, pile on as many veggies as possible, add whatever cheese you like (provolone or Swiss are probably my most preferred) and enjoy! If you have a lot of veggies leftover, you can throw them back on your cookie sheet and roast them again another time, just not as long.

Hope you love these as much as I do!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuscan Chicken with Garlic-Parmesan Fettucine

I found this recipe in a Weight Watcher's magazine and it turned to be absolutely delicious. It's light, delicious and packed with so much flavor that even the smell will have your mouth watering. And my kids loved it, always a bonus! But before I give the recipe, a few grocery product shout-outs are in order...

I'm in love with the Nakano vinegars. They come in several flavors that help to dress and marinate your foods with barely any calories. The balsamic blend is my favorite. It's a little more mild than regular balsamic vinegar, but it has such a sweet and tangy flavor that pairs with so many foods, and is divine on a salad!

I also just discovered this Ronzoni Roasted Garlic Fettuccine. At first I was a bit skeptical as to how much flavor there would really be in this pasta, but I was pleasantly satisfied. The garlic comes out just perfectly and makes your job as the cook very easy. A little basil oil and Parmesan and we had some delicious pasta!

Tuscan Chicken


4 6-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon water


1. Place chicken breast halves between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2 inch thickness using a meat mallet or small, heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until golden. Add tomatoes; cook 4 minutes or until tomato skins pop. Stir in balsamic vinegar and water. Cook 4 minutes, or until chicken is done and liquid almost evaporates.

Serves 4: One serving is 1 chicken breast half and 1/3 cup tomatoes.

Per serving: 238 cal, 5.8g fat, 40g prot, 4.4g carb, o.8g fiber, 407mg sod, 99mg chol.

5 points per serving

Garlic-Parmesan Fettuccine


1 9 oz package roasted garlic fettuccine (the recipe originally calls for spinach fettuccine)
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter, oil or basil oil blend


1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions, omitting fat and salt. Drain.

2. Combine cooked pasta, cheese and butter or oil. Toss well.

Serves 7: One serving is 1/2 cup pasta.

Per Serving: 157 cal, 5.5g fat, 6.4g prot, 20.3g carb, 1.2 fiber, 39mg chol, 1.2 mg iron, 129mg sod.
3 points per serving

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I rediscovered these sinful morsels going through the Hershey Factory over Thanksgiving. If you are a fan of all things chocolate-mint, you must stock up on these treasures. Mmm, this will be a short blog because I'm going to go get one now!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


If you are a salad lover, such as myself, but find yourself in a salad rut, might I suggest these fun little potato dumplings to your leafy cuisine. Now I don't know if pierogies are an eastern thing, or if I just never discovered them until coming back east, but I finally just bought some, not having any clue what to do with them. Fortunately I rediscovered them in my freezer while suffering from the salad-blahs and found them to be fabulous on my bed of greens. They are small or large dumplings usually filled with a potato and cheese combo, they are soft, warm and velvety and give a great contrast to your crunchy lettuce. My favorite dressings are either french, or any kind of vinaigrette. Mmmm, go get some!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

If you are a Chocolate Lover!

And I am actually not a huge chocolate fanatic, but I still LOVE these brownies! When it comes to brand named foods, sometimes it matter, sometimes it doesn't. In this case, it really matters! We've tried a lot of different brownie mixes (my husband doesn't have a sweet tooth, he has sweet TEETH, he could eat sweets all day long), and the Ghiradelli brand is the very best, particularly the Triple Chocolate. With a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, or mint chocolate chip if you like to be difficult like me, you have the best Sunday afternoon dessert.
What's your favorite dessert?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Let the grocery store help you out.

One of my favorite things about cooking is the actual process that it takes to create a dish and make it look appealing. BUT, there are also times when stress and busy schedules have gotten the best of you and you need some help. That is when you cheat and look for some easy shortcuts.
The latest shortcut I found were these little phyllo dough tart cups at the grocery store freezer in the pastry section. They come empty, but you can fill them with anything you want, bake them and you're done. Chocolate, a pastry cream, spinach, blue cheese and cranberries, not all at once though, that would be gross! These bacon quiche cups probably took me a collective 10 minutes to make, minus baking time. Here was my filling:
1/2 cup ricotta (use low-fat, you can't tell a difference)
1 egg
1/2 cup mozz
1/2 cup cheddar
6 oz bacon
1 onion chopped finely
1/2 tsp garlic powder
dash cayenne
dash black pepper
You could probably fill about 60-70 tarts with just this, so you may want to half it with a smaller crowd.
Mix all ingredients together, fill phyllo cups and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. These are good warm and at room temp. This was another dish that disappeared first, but they are also very tiny, so don't be shy about serving a lot, they will be gone by the end of your party.
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