Monday, October 1, 2012

A quick word on Quinoa

So there's been a lot of fantastic food over the last few weeks from brunch to a delicious dinner with the rents to a very fantastic anniversary dinner involving wine and seared ahi tuna.I also got the opportunity to sample some fresh from the garden tomatoes from my friend and coworker M. They were scrumptious!

Today I'm just giving a quick note on a new item I tried. With all this talk of gluten free etc. there's been an increased market for alternative grains. Quinoa happens to be one of the ones that often comes up in the health food circles. I've had quinoa maybe once or twice, and didn't particularly dislike it but didn't find it so amazing I had to have it again, however I discovered red quinoa in the store the other day and decided to give it a shot. I'm not a big fan of rice and I thought some other grains might be a good idea.

I cooked some up tonight for the week. It does look a little odd since it's tiny little reddish dots but it gets points for easy cooking. 20 mins to cook and let stand. The package claims the red quinoa has a nutty flavor. I'd say it definitely has a richer taste to it. I like the texture because it has a little crunch in a good way, so you really feel like you're eating something substantial. It's texture and flavor seems to lend itself well to making salads like a quinoa corn and bean salad or something of the sort. I may have to start to look into this because grain more because it really has caught my attention.
 I also discovered that it looks beautiful when it grows, as you can see in the picture above.

Since I'm still learning how to use this lovely grain I just mixed up a little tofu and veggies with a light miso/chili/chicken broth sauce and there's a meal!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Let the Cooking Begin!

With Halloween approaching it seems only fitting that this blog should become "undead'. I always get excited for the fall and Halloween holiday foods so  I decided it was high time to wake Road Raging Foodie up again. However, buyer beware this blog may be about to become Road Raging Foodies, otherwise known as cooking with EL and JJ.

As some of you may know,  I recently vacationed in the wilds of Utah for about a week, living off the lovely freeze dried camping meals ( which actually weren't so bad). On my return home my lovely boy insisted on cooking me a full home-cooked meal. This is what happens when you date someone who spent 6 months in a culinary program! Since then he has been spoiling me, or planning ways to spoil me with delicious meals. If anything was going to inspire me to come out of the void of the cyberspace to write about food again it certainly would be his meals.

The menu for my return to civilization meal was Pulled Pork, Grilled Veggies, Coleslaw, cornbread and Molten Lava cakes. The pork  and corn bread he prepared at home and brought to heat up, the coleslaw was bought and while he made the lava cakes I grilled the veggies.

 I grilled peppers, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and onions on my little George Foreman grill after drizzling them with oil and vinegar.
The veggies took forever but came out really tasty; even the chef approved. The pork was fantastic and I couldn't believe it was homemade. The lava cakes were care of a Paula Deen recipe and they came out beautiful and delicious.

cakes hot from the oven

Every thing was delicious but the warm lava cake with a gooey center definitely stole the show. JJ said it could have use whipped cream but I thought it was perfect.

Meal number two which we had a few weeks later consisted of breakfast for dinner, which is usually my favorite way to have breakfast ( aside from at midnight or later).
We made french toast from a recipe, which I can't say I've ever done before, and JJ brought a quiche ( one of my standbys) that was half Gruyere and bacon and half just Gruyere ( for the veg roommates). We used half and half in the french toast, which lightened it up from being so heavy, and made it super delicious. The quiche was excellent, especially with the smoky flavor of the bacon against the strong cheese flavor. We accompanied both with fresh fruit and mimosas. I did say I was getting spoiled didn't I ?
And, last but not least, I created a meal for myself tonight which I'm rather proud of for being unusual. It wasn't as magical as I'd hoped but it was pretty darn good.
I found myself hunting through the kitchen for dinner ingredients and decided to try cooking up a mango with my tofu.

I started by sauteing half an onion and adding a bit of hot sauce and ginger. Next I cut up the mango and cooked it up for a bit. Next the tofu was cut and added ( about 3/4 of a block) followed by some black beans. I was going for sort of a hot mango chutney/salsa inspired thing but as a main dish. Something was missing, despite the fact that I kept adding hot sauce.
I wanted a little liquid and couldn't find anything until I stumbled onto some tangerine-guava- mango juice I had bought recently. Just a touch of that and it was perfect! I put it over some egg noodles and voila! Dinner is served! It was spicy and had a good flavor to it, but probably could be tweaked into perfection.
Don't hold your breath too long but stay tuned for more cooking adventures to come! There's certain to be a lot more joint menus on the way :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

What's that? More bacon, you say?

Last week I talked about bacon pancakes but today we talk about the novelty that Burger King has unleashed on the world just a few days ago, known as the Bacon Sundae. Yes, you heard that right. A quick internet search brings up a plethora of new articles and reviews on the subject. The sundae is part of the new limited time, summer menu. I have not had the opportunity to taste this beast yet, however it will definitely be on my agenda, when I am planning on eating nothing else for the day.

The promotional image is, of course, ridiculously prettied up- but given the other images I've seen, it still looks pretty good.

 I can't find any faults with the concept of bacon, chocolate and ice cream all in the same place. Bring it on! My only concern is that cold bacon might have a questionable texture. But I'm still willing to give it a shot.The Huffington Post has a nice review of it here, which I will defer to until I get a chance to experience and report for you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A little bit of this and that

Greetings Earthlings! I have returned briefly to planet earth to bring you some food tidbits.  I've been busy doing heavy snack research for you, as well as enjoying some delicious camping food fit for a king this weekend. Life is crazy, the cooking continues with some interesting dishes which I keep meaning to write about.
Here are the highlights starting with this weekend......

I went up to Phoenicia New York to camp with some co-workers etc. Right in the town we stopped on the adorable little main street for ice and I insisted we check out the ice cream shop. Good choice because they had Carrot Cake Ice cream, which I have never ever seen before. Mostly they had Hershey's flavors but this one seemed homemade. Let me tell you, this might be the best ice cream I've ever tasted. It literally tastes like carrot cake in ice cream form. It has all the delicious spices and it tastes like cream cheese frosting. This might be a strange way to describe food, but it pretty much tastes like how I imagine all those pumpkin spice or 'fall' scented candles would taste ( minus the wax of course). So it's a super big thumbs up on this one. Now if I only knew where to find some closer.
Next fabulous food item from this weekend, aside from all the awesome meat and veggies cooked over the fire, was P's invention of bacon pancakes. Essentially you add precooked bacon into the pancakes while they are cooking. It's a way to warm up the bacon and it's also delicious! It's a time saver too because you know you were going to dip your bacon in syrup anyway!
Moving on to snack foods, I've been finding lots of yummy snacks at  Stop and Shop lately, particularly in the hoity-toity area with all the health foods and organic stuff- not that I claim that any of this is good for you.
Snack one- the ultimate chocolate bar. Never heard of this company, but they have a very vintage look and I'm a sucker for cherries in my chocolate so I decided to give it a try. The company is Chocolate XOXOX. So far the bar pictured above, and the plain dark chocolate is the only one I've seen or tasted but it is truly fabulous. I have gotten everyone in my department hooked as well. The chocolate is deep and rich and I definitely appreciate the cherry/ almond version, although the plain is great as well. If you can find this stuff, pick it up immediately. Be warned though, you might never go back to any other chocolate.
Next interesting snack was freeze dried peaches. I had to try them since it was only 99 cents for a little pack. I can't remember at all what the company was called, but it really tasted like a peach formed in your mouth out of an ugly white chip. A few of my coworkers tried them but were freaked out by the texture, but I thought they were a decent snack. I wouldn't want to eat it all the time, but I might try out the pineapple ones once too.
Snack Three, dried edamame. Edamame are soy beans, if you don't know, and they apparently can be eaten dry roasted. I started out with the wasabi flavored ones by Seapoint Farms and then tested the plain salted ones. Wasabi is definitely better, because they come up with a nice kick every other bite, but the salted ones are nice too. It's a good snack, and pretty healthy as well. Thumbs up!
And last but not least, a few weeks ago I was inspired to buy a salmon kabob to cook on my tiny little George Foremen grill. I also decided it was time to cook some meat again and I made up a few awesome marinade. I made one marinade out of chili paste, oil, rosemary and another with balsamic and orange and oil. Both came out very tasty.

 Salmon pre-cooking and post-cooking...

And the chicken...

And that's all for tonight folks. Hope you enjoyed your  super speedy tour through my cooking highlights.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Real Free Range Eggs

I mentioned in passing that I'd purchased some fresh eggs recently. Normally I wouldn't say eggs are much to write about, however these eggs were truly incredible.
I picked up the eggs somewhat on a whim at one of the agencies my non-profit company works with. I was there for work but I could pass up farm fresh cage free eggs that were $2.99 for a dozen. Eggs are never that inexpensive, particularly free range eggs. The place I got them from, Central Islip Civic Council was pretty awesome as well. It's basically an old homestead,  with a garden and a blacksmith and chickens and a garden in the middle of neighborhood that is otherwise pretty sketchy. Shout out to CI Civic Council for doing great work with kids as well as providing social services and a food pantry.

Anyway, they told me I would notice a difference in the color of the eggs and the flavor and I have to say they were right. The outside of the eggs looked a little dirty, but definitely very natural, like they literally just came from under a chicken.

I washed them off, just for good measure. Once I cracked them open they were such a vibrant shade of yellow. It was definitely a noticeable difference from any kind of store bought egg- free range or not. The color was like sunshine yellow yolk. Not only were they super yellow looking, I also thought they tasted better. I can't really tell you exactly why, but they just seemed fresher and tastier. I might have to go back there specifically to get some eggs because the price is so ridiculously good and they are so delicious. No more $5.00 eggs for me!  I used some today and I still have 3 left but I think I shouldn't let them sit around too long.  I turned the first ones into a nice omelet with tomatoes. Yay! Definitely a food win!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Love at first Bite

A few weeks ago I made a sort of impulse/test purchase in the snack aisle. I tend to stay away from this aisle in general because I try to spend my money more on food and less on snack. Nevertheless, snacks are important, especially at work. I saw that these new Keebler Wheatable crackers were on sale and that they claimed right on the packaging to be "better than Wheat Thins". I happen to like Wheat Thins so I thought I'd test this claim. The nutrition facts were decent as well so it seemed like a win-win.

I tested them out and thought they were decent. I'm not sure I'd say better than Wheat Thins, but definitely similar and tasty. The following week I was in the store again and saw that they Wheatable Nut Crisps. The flavor they had that day was cashew, which is not really my favorite nut, but I certainly don't dislike it either. Again they were on sale so I bought them. I opened them at work the next way and was completely blown away.

They tasted nothing like the original honey wheat flavor. At first I felt like I was eating pancakes. There was a definite syrup like taste going on. After a few more I decided that they were equivalent to eating french toast - at least in flavor. The weird thing is that there really isn't a whole lot of sugar in them, nor is there anything resembling syrup in them. There is also a distinct lack of cashew taste, which doesn't bother me at all.
These little snacks are highly addictive. I've managed to get my whole department hooked on them. My boss decided that 'malt' is the ingredient giving these tasty treats their syrup flavor since a comparison of both boxes showed that the original flavor only has a hint of malt. I'm on my second box and I bought a box for my co-worker who couldn't find them at Stop and Shop ( which by the way is where I found mine).  While they aren't the greatest thing for you, they certainly aren't so awful as snacks go. They also have a Pecan flavor, which I'm eager to try since I actually really do like Pecans. I wonder if those taste like any sort of breakfast food. Guess I will have to let you know.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A chain worth blogging about

Lots of good things to talk about in food news like the free range eggs I recently purchased from a local Civic Council, or the intriguing new Sol sunflower milk I've seen in the supermarket or the Thai tuna casserole I just made, however, today I'd like to talk about a recent restaurant find called Energy Kitchen.

When I'm not at work, most of my time is being taken up by massage therapy school. This means I find myself in Sysosset several times a week. Here's what I've learned about Syosset: There's a LOT of money there and there's an alternative, new age, trendy sort of vibe that seems to govern at least certain parts of the town. As a result there are some interesting food choices. I had been getting food from a sort of 'healthy deli' where they had nice salads, sandwiches and wraps and frozen yogurt but no red meat. It was probably the best option and they are open late, which is helpful when you get out of class at 8 or 9pm.

About a month back however, I saw another place when I stopped at the Kinkos up the road. It was called Energy kitchen but there was paper all over the windows so I figured they had closed down. I discovered a few weeks ago that they were opening rather than closing ( I think, or maybe remodeling?).  Anyway, I saw that they were open and then a teacher recommended the place so I decided to give it a shot. They are also open late, even later in fact than the other place. Apparently this chain started in the Financial district and has branched out across the city to include 11 locations. There are also 2 in NJ and 2 in FL.

I tested them out a few nights ago and enjoyed myself thoroughly. I won't say that they aren't somewhat deceptive ( every good thing has a catch right?) but I do believe that their food is genuinely more healthy than a lot of places that claim to be healthy.  Here's what their website says about their food:
We take the guesswork out of eating healthy by offering a completely guilt-free, fail-proof menu. There are no hidden temptations, no hidden calories and, best of all, no regrets. Everything on our menu is grilled, baked or steamed, never fried, and always under 500 calories.

I ordered a turkey burger with 2 sides, which is one of the meal deals they offer. Their side dish choices blew me away, but I ended up getting the mashed sweet potatoes and the corn and edamame salad. I was also definitely intrigued by the black bean and mango salad and the baked fries. That I will have to save for next time. The burger comes on a whole wheat bun with lettuce and tomato and here's my only problem with this restaurant; the burgers are tiny. Actually, they are probably what a normal burger should be, but as Americans we are so used to eating giant portions of everything. So the secret to their 500 calories in partially size. But I can forgive them. Between that and the sides I felt full afterwards, so no harm done. It also comes in a cute little tray that looks like wood.
Since I was sitting there for a little while I also scored a free  protein brownie which has sort of an odd sticky consistency but overall was pretty decent. 
This afternoon I once again found myself hungry in Syosset and opted to try out something other than a burger. This time I chose the Thai Chicken wrap, sans sides. It was also good. I can't really describe it any other way than to say it tasted healthy. Some people might think of this as a negative, but I think it's a positive. It tasted fresh, even the wrap.  The best part about Energy kitchen is that it's reasonably priced, by New York standards anyway. My burger and 2 sides cost $9.50, which is basically what you'd end up paying for Wendy's these days, and this is a hell of a lot better for you than that is ( although the fast food is delicious). On the opposite end of the spectrum, I passed a Smash Burger the other day and was tempted to stop for some fried pickles. Somehow I restrained myself.