December 23, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake is overrated...

Red Velvet Cake is the one that has the dark reddish color.
It's associated with being a little more...  shall we say ga-ga fancy?
It's typically made with cream cheese icing/frosting.
Originally, the color of the batter changed to a red-brown color from
the reaction of the cocoa powder to the buttermilk, buttermilk having an acidic quality.
However, these days the reddish color just comes from red food coloring.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news if you didn't already know...
but red velvet cake batter is just chocolate cake batter with
red food coloring/dye in it. The ones with dye in it traditionally tend to
have a more moisture from the use of juice from boiling beets.
The deep red beet juice enhances the color but also helps retain the moisture as well.
Many gourmet eateries and bakeries are starting to make red-velvet pancakes.
hmmm a red pancake?

A Few HORRIBLE ones...

I would like to award these worst awards for these items for 2011.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to bad mouth these establishments as a whole.
I'm just awarding worst awards to these specific items.

Michael's Deli in KOP has the worst cheese fries EVER!

Now, I feel I can judge these fries because I've had/tried these a hand full of times.
I've ordered than more than once because I figured it was just a bad day,
BUT the fries are always soggy hands down, always!  The cheese isn't so attractive either.
I'm not sure what I was thinking ordering these more than a few times- I guess
I was assuming you can't screw up fries unless you were having one bad day....?

Next is the salad from Kildare's Pub..... let me tell you, this salad was so bad,
I don't even remember which one it was. The lettuce was not only brown on a
few of the edges but there were actual pieces of lettuce that were completely
brown and spoiled. The vinaigrette dressing was also so tart that I seriously
couldn't eat the salad. Once again, I never knew a salad could be that SO bad.
Worst salad EVER!

The next award goes for worst Calamari..... given to Bahama Breeze.
I've had other food at Bahama Breeze and have enjoyed it very much but the calamari....

The calamari was on the soggy side and SO chewy it was like chewing
on leather, seriously! There are actually red bell peppers underneath the calamari
and they certainly didn't help the app in any shape or form!
(Don't let the picture fool you!)

The worst coffee EVER goes to Gloria Jeane's coffee at the Franklin Mills Mall.
Now, this is just a regular hot coffee....  you probably are asking... what are the brown
spotted spots! Excellent question! I couldn't tell you and neither could the girl and her sister
behind the counter. The coffee was barely luke warm also. It certainly didn't help that they
charged me incorrectly for the coffee and then on top of that they tried to charge me a
re-stocking fee!!! I'm not exaggerating. REALLY? re-stocking? What are you re-stocking?
If I remember correctly... they DID go out of business. Now, I'm giving them the worst
hot coffee award based strictly on the coffee alone and not the horrible customer service!

December 14, 2011

Knock, Knock... Who's There?

So I started composting food last year and I've had good days and weeks that went by
where I've neglected to recycle/compost.
I bought this metal tin container with a lid from Ikea for $12.
I simply started the compost with dirt
from 3 small plants that had died from neglect from my balcony.
I would add coffee grinds, vegetable peels, fruit skins and cores, egg shells,
OMGoodness there are probably over 300 egg shells in there.
(roughly guessing of course) Every once in a while I would take my little garden shovel
or a plastic fork and mix the soil around.  In the summer I have it sitting on my balcony...
and once the Fall season rolled around- I brought it inside and have it in the corner
of the kitchen. It doesn't smell and because there is a lid- it doesn't attract bugs
which is great of course!  Now, who wants to see what it looks like inside?

Knock, Knock........................................  who's there?

Notice how you can't even tell that there were regular size carrots peels,
full cracked egg shells, banana peels, orange peels, peanut shells,
hmmm what else was thrown in there.... onions skins, leaves from other dead
plant leaves and much more...
The picture doesn't really do it justice... The soil IS really dark and healthy,
ridiculous with nutrients for when I grow my indoor, window side-
herbs and veggies! There is nothing better than fresh basil, thyme and rosemary!

December 12, 2011

RAINBOW cake it up!

So, I've had the great opportunity of making this crazy yet awesome cake 5 times now in the
past 3 months. It's called Rainbow Cake for the simple reason of being a 6 layered cake with
colors of the rainbow. I'm not too much of a baker but there are a few cakes I really enjoy
to make but more importantly...EAT!
Flourless Decaf Espresso Chocolate Cake being one and the second new favorite is the Pumpple.

Making this cake takes a teeny bit longer than the normal cake but it's SO worth it. After your white/vanilla cake batter is ready... (2 boxes) you want to split your batter into 6 even amounts.

Here is one, and then here are 4.... (you want a total of 6)

Then you add drops of food coloring for each color of the rainbow.  (ROYGBIV)
You want to start with the bottom layer first. Purple being the bottom layer of the cake.

For some reason- purple always looks grayish before it is baked.
Then you want to follow with the blue- followed by green, yellow, orange and then- lastly, red.

Then you take your cake pan (the pans with the sides that get unleashed work best)

I cook 2 at a time- simply because I own 2 pans.
If you have more than 2 pans- try it all at once... be a rebel!
Once each layer is baked (you can stick a toothpick in the center and see if it comes out clean)
I take the sides of the pan out and throw each layer in the refrigerator.
As I start the 2nd batch of the next 2 colors- and clear the counter area a little bit-
it's already time to take the first ones out from the refrigerator.
(as they are chilled it becomes way more convenient to take off the bottom of the pan.
I start with carefully centering the purple layer on the middle of the plate.
Then I add a little icing followed by the blue layer, than more icing etc... for all 6 layers.

It's always a "wow", "oooo" "let me take a pic" moment when you cut into this cake!
I think I might try to alternate red and green for the next one....

November 21, 2011

Elevation Burger

Elevation BurgerCheck out their website to find a location near you!

Elevation Burger is all about organic ingredients.

Their menu is pretty simple and straight forward. We ordered the Cheeseburger 
and the Veggie Burger #1 along with some fries of course.  (I love fries)

 Elevation burgers vision is to have organic ingredients such as grass fed cows,
100% free range and even fresh cut fries cooked in healthy olive oil.
They are all about a better you, a healthier you and a better environment.

The burgers really did taste a little different. They were very light, even the beef burger 
was not greasy and I didn't have that heavy bloated feeling that you can sometimes get 
after heavy burgers.  The fries were really good also.  I would recommend Elevation Burger. 

Peanut Butter & BACON!

I heard this 89 year old woman say...
"What's that McDonalds like.. I've never been there before."
I was like....  what!!?! You've lived in the USA all of your life  and
have never been to a McDonalds at least once in your life?
All I could say was wow. Now, don't get me wrong I don't love
Micky D's but an occasional Egg McMuffin....come on.

Just like the McDonalds ....who hasn't had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
especially as a child or even now as an adult right?
Well, have you ever had a peanut butter bacon sandwich?
Yup, good ole peanut butter with that salty bacon in between 2 slices of bread.
Pretty good!  It can't get much easier to make as well. Take some cooked bacon,

 and some bread. (I decided to use plain old white bread for this one.

I spread the peanut butter on the bread and with a little butter- toasted the bread in
the pan as if I was going to make grilled cheese.

 Then, cut the bacon in half and lightly fried/toasted both sides of the bread.

 Yeah, It's a no brainer. You should try it.  It has bacon in it, come on. BACON!

November 10, 2011

Hand Drawn Noodles in Chinatown, Philly

Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House is located on
927 Race Street in the heart of Chinatown in Philly.

 It is a very small place with pretty much no flair.... BUT the noodles are hand drawn
on the spot and the food is very tasty. These noodles have just a simple peanut sauce
topped with scallions for a garnish but the fact that the noodles were hand pulled
gives the noodles that slightly chewy and elasticity that you can't get with
machine made noodles.  It's a very simple dish but  pretty good and you can't beat $3.00

This dish was the Sliced Beef Noodle dish. The broth was exceptional.
The sliced beef was quite tender and it only had a little bit of fat .
The greens were cilantro and baby spinach. It also had a handful of picked cabbage
which really brought out the acid to the dish and was yummy.
I would totally recommend Nan Zhou for the tasty food and very cheap prices
but it can be a little weird not because the dining area is so small but it's hit
or miss who you will be sitting with. They will literally seat you at the same table with
complete strangers due to limited seating as you slurp your tasty, noodles that
were just pulled from scratch. It's totally worth sitting next to complete strangers
for fresh hand pulled noodles.

November 4, 2011

CLASSICO Creamy Alfredo Sauce

I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in the Foodbuzz  Tastemaker program
and to cook with Classico Creamy Alfredo Pasta Sauce.
It all started off by receiving a jar in the mail.

I decided to make some garlic butter sauteed shrimp with linguine in the Alfredo Sauce.
After I cleaned my fresh shrimp, I added a little butter into the pan and sauteed my shrimp
and sprinkled on some garlic salt. As the shrimp was cooking, I took some chives
and chopped them.


I added a sprinkle of salt and boiled my linguine in water. Once the linguine
was cooked, I strained the water (I didn't rinse the pasta with any water)
By not rinsing the pasta- it helps my sauce stick and cling on better to the pasta.
They pretty much become BFF. (best friends forever)
Lastly, I added the linguine, the creamy alfredo sauce and added the chives last.
I tossed everything together in the pan so the sauce would heat up and cook
and give the pasta pretty much no personal space anymore.


I added some garlic croutons as a garnish and to have instead of bread to cut back on carbs
that night. Although the sauce is "Light" it is sooo creamy and tasty.  It is obviously already
made for you to simply use- so I would highly recommend this Classico Sauce!

For more detailed info on the sauce please check out Classico Creamy Alfredo Sauce.

OO as in Oatmeal Overload

Who's selling oatmeal and what's the price?

McDonald's Oatmeal for $1.99.  Fries are good, but the oatmeal- hmmmm

Chick-Fil-A's Oatmeal for $2.49  Chick-Fil-A... good all around.

Jamba Juice's oatmeal for $3.25   smoothies are good too!

Starbucks' Oatmeal for $2.45  Pretty good with a Tall, Grande or Venti!

Cosi's Oatmeal for $2.99   oatmeal for breakfast, smores for dessert

Au Bon Pain's Oatmeal for $3.00  stop in before you catch your next flight

Breakfast Progression

Have you noticed breakfast is starting be served everywhere... almost everywhere.
The usual places that many of us are familiar with such as McDonalds,
Burger King (I like to refer to it as The BK Lounge) & Dunkin Donuts along with Wawa
and 7-11 are still serving our favorite breakfast sandwiches.

Did you know that Sonic, Chick-fil-A, Wendy's,  Arby's, Subway, Quiznos
and KFC all sell breakfast items now also?  Not only are most fast food chains selling
breakfast but many restaurants are serving breakfast all day. Eggs and hash browns
are making their way into more and more lunch menus as well. Hispanic type of foods are also
making their way into our breakfasts with burritos and even breakfast tacos.

There is even a 24 hour Dominos in Ohio that serves breakfast pizza. WHAT!
They don't deliver that early though. Could you imagine, the pizza delivery guy
delivering a breakfast pizza as the kids are grabbing their homework and stuffing
it into their back-packs. Kellogg's is even launching Fruit Pizza soon.

As far as drinks, in an effort to save some money, more and more adults are brewing
their own coffee at home but, more and more kids are drinking energy drinks during
breakfast time. I guess it's hard to win with everything.

October 29, 2011

Literally... Dinner & A Movie

Among many of the words or phrases that go hand in hand-
dinner & a movie is one of them.  
You know when you're planning to catch a flick and your food at the restaurant is taking
FOR-EVERR to come out and you keep looking at the time  to make sure you will
make the movie at least by the time the previews are running.
WELL...  if you don't know about it yet...  you can actually do dinner and a movie.
All at the same place.   You can do it at the MOVIE TAVERN
There are about 15 theaters so far but the closest one to me was the one in Collegeville.
140 Market Street  Collegeville, PA- in the Providence Town Shopping Center.

So you walk in, purchase your tickets and you can order a drink while you wait...
or you can  eat at a table.  We wanted the full experience so we decided to get
a drink and get in line. The movie Real Steal was to start at 9:30pm so at 9:00
they started to seat us.  You walk into a small and intimate theater and there
are really big and comfy seats with swinging table tops.

A server comes to you and takes your food and drink order from a pretty simple
but decent menu. American food mixed with a little flair.
We ordered fried pickles and the Game Day Platter.

The food overall was pretty good. The buffalo wings were quite tasty and the fries were good 
(could of used a little more bacon though) and the Mini Me burgers come from 1 regular
sized burger cut into 4 pieces...all were ok.  
The best of the night was the hot (temperature) deep fried pickles with chilled
ranch dressing. The overall experience was great.  The theater wasn't too busy
but being able to eat before and during the movie was pretty sweet.
You might think it would be distracting because the server comes in here and there but
after the first 5 minutes or so... it's no big deal! (there is also a button
that you can press that allows the servers you need them for something)
I would recommend The Movie Tavern!  I would also recommend watching Real Steel.

October 26, 2011

Chipotle Lime Guacamole Tacos

So, as I was saying the other week, I like to try to re-create food I've had in restaurants.
It's almost like a weird challenge.  So after seeing a Louie C.K. show a few weeks ago,
we hit up Chelsea Tavern in Wilmington, DE.  It was basically a midnight snack
of Pork Belly Tacos.  Here is a picture of the tacos from Chelsea Tavern.

Granted the picture is not the clearest picture and it was kind of late for a school night....
these pork belly tacos from Chelsea Tavern were really flavorful and yummy.
(It's amazing what the difference in a photo can be with and without turning the flash on!)
Below is my cultivated replica of pork  tacos I made inspired by these late night tacos!

I started with cutting my pork belly into smaller cube-like pieces. (Pork belly is a thick cut
of the famous.... BACON) I added a little spoonful of grated garlic, chipotle powder and cumin.
Cumin is the really odor-heavy spice but, makes food very earthy and gives good flavor.
I also added a heavy drizzle of Kraft BBQ sauce. I tend to spread out my spice or seasonings
next to each other so I can remind myself of what was already added.

To get the guacamole ready, I chopped a handful of cilantro, split an avocado in half and
diced a quarter of a medium sized red onion. I also added some chipotle powder and squeezed
the juice of half a lime.  (Guacamole is an avocado based dip that originated in Mexico.)

I took a spoon and smushed the avocado while squeezing the lime.
I decided to zest some lime to garnish my finished chipotle lime guacamole.

The pork belly sat in the bowl as I browned up a little bit of diced onion to give extra flavor
to the pork. I sizzled the pork in a pan turned on high to get a slight char on the meat.

I used a mandoline to slice some radishes. I added a splash of vinegar on the radishes
to make them less spicy. I guess at this point, I just wanted to take all the hand held
kitchen tools out. I took the scallion shredder out and shredded some scallions.

Oh, I started the night with roasting some garlic in the micro-oven on 350 for about
20 minutes with a drizzle of olive oil and sea-salt.  Everything turned out quite flavorful
and tasty, the only thing I will change next time is to cut the pork belly into even smaller pieces.

And that was Wednesday night.