August 31, 2014

Happy last day of August!

Although technically it's still summer-ish
I always have the mind set that once September
rolls around- it's pretty much Fall.
Well, at least the beginning of it for sure.

Most school's are back in session, pretty soon
many tv shows will be airing their Fall season openers
and the leaves will be changing colors as the days get
shorter and shorter.

Hey, summer of 2014- it was pretty good.
I participated in 3 different Food Festivals
along with catering company lunches and dinners.

I look forward to the Fall and all things apples,
pumpkins and hearty Autumn veggies!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 31 of 31 days

August 29, 2014

Bang Bang Cauliflower

Ever have bang bang shrimp?

I am a self pronounced  'flexitarian'.
What the heck is a flexitarian?  It's when you're
not a fully committed vegetarian but you love
vegetables enough that you can totally go for
all veggie days but you also need other days
where all you want is BBQ  galore!

Cauliflower is great to eat in place of chicken
because it is a super hearty veggie where you can
deep fry or saute or steam or boil or bake and
it stays together without falling apart and
keeps great flavor.  yum!

Take the head of a cauliflower and cut it into a quarter (for 2)
and cut the quarter into small bite sized florets.  You can just bake it 
in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes or you can batter it just like chicken 
or shrimp.  I like to cook things on the quicker side because there are
just too many things to do and not enough time in the day!

I like to boil the cauliflower first for about 5-7 minutes so it gets
a head start in the cooking and getting a little softer.

Then, I strain the cauliflower florets in a strainer and then let it sit
on some paper towels to get the excess water off.

I mix the sauce which is Frank's hot sauce 
(to your liking of spiciness) and 2 TBSP of melted butter and 
1 heaping TBSP of mayo to thicken the sauce a little.
Then I lay the cauliflower on a baking tray and bake it until 
it gets a brown hue and charred on the tops.  
350-375 degrees for about 15 minutes.   

Even the meat lovers will enjoy this!

You can simply use ranch dressing as a dipping sauce.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 29 of 31 days

August 28, 2014

Tofu Tikka Masala

Tofu Tikka Masala is a great alternative to
Chicken Tikka Masala.  It's made exactly the same way
as the chicken dish is.

Chicken Tikka Masala ------->   recipe
(simply substitute the tofu with the chicken)

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 28 of 31 days

August 27, 2014

Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

An easy healthy snack I'd like to share with you today
is a cheese stuffed strawberry. These are great for a snack,
an appetizer or dessert or even a simple palate cleanser 
in between dishes during a multi-course dinner.

Take a handful of strawberries (medium to large) and cut them in half. 
Next, take a little teaspoon and scoop the center out a little. 
The center of a strawberry isn't completely solid so it's pretty effortless.
For the picture above, I trimmed the stems.  

You can stuff feta cheese crumbs in the center and add a sprinkle of coarse
sea-salt or you can add blue cheese crumbles and some peanut (or any nut)
with a drizzle of honey.  The sweetness of the honey goes well with the already
salty blue cheese while the feta feta cheese isn't as salty so the sea-salt gives
a nice contrast in flavor.  You can just leave the stems on (picture below)
instead of trimming them off as well.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 27 of 31 days

August 26, 2014

Mozzarella Egg Roll Sticks

String cheese egg rolls!  I recently took string cheese and
wrapped them in egg roll wrappers just like an egg roll.

I'd like to say...  Ah-mazing!  This was so much fun to take
an every item and cultivate it in a way that made it more
fun and  enjoyable simply because it was different but the same.

You know what I mean?  I think you do. Well, I'll just assume so.

Take you unwrapped string cheese and lay it on the egg roll wrapper 
as the wrapper is on a diagonal just like the picture above.  
Brush a little egg on the  2 sides that meet the top corner. 
(The egg is the gluing agent- water WILL come apart)

Roll the bottom corner up so that the cheese is wrapped and then 
fold the 2 sides in while rolling the rest until it is completely wrapped- 
just. like. an egg roll!

Once your veggie or canola oil is approximately 330-350 degrees 
you can deep fry your mozzarella egg roll sticks until they are a 
golden brown color.

A good dipping sauce is marinara sauce just like regular 
breaded mozzarella sticks.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 26 of 31 days

August 25, 2014

DAY 25 POST 25

It certainly hasn't been easy but I've written
a blog post every single day this month thus far.

It's August 25th and I have 25 posts so far for this month.
I will continue to write one each day for the rest of
August.    Happy Monday August 25th!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 25 of 31 days

August 23, 2014

Lays is going Asian...

Looks like Lay's  Stax is adding some
Asian flair into their potato chips.

Recently, these 2 flavors were discovered and the
they were pretty good. The flavors weren't too strong
and overpowering. It was subtle and pretty
spot on for the respective flavors.

I tried the Korean BBQ which had a lasting taste of
a teriyaki onion flavor. Very similar to a common
bulgogi marinade. It was good.

The other flavor was the Thai Sweet Chili which was not too bad but 
not that great either. It was on the duller side with a lot less flavor 
than the Korean BBQ one. Either way, they were both interesting 
and good to snack on.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 23 of 31 days

August 22, 2014

Raw Tuna appetizer

A delicious appetizer you can make to wow your friends is a raw tuna
and cucumber appetizer.  It is extremely effortless to prepare
and assemble. All you need is one pack of raw tuna (make sure it
is sushi grade though) Do NOT buy tuna that is meant to be cooked
as a tuna filet.  The difference is that sushi grade tuna or any fish
for that matter is that the sushi grade is cut that day and is meant
to be eaten that day or  no later than 1 day after whereas the fish
that is cut into filets or steak style can be kept uncooked in the frig
for many days rather than 1 or 2 days.

You will also need 1 English cucumber (they are super long,
are individually wrapped and is often used because it has less seeds)
or you can use an American cucumber or about 2 kirby cucumbers.
(Kirbys are often associated with Korean cucumber kimchi and they
are shorter and the most crisp)

You can use sesame seeds to garnish and the only other thing besides
the little wooden skewers is mayo and wasabi.
You can skewer these with toothpicks also. Start with cutting
your cucumber in half and then in half again so that you have 4
long slices and then cut them into about 1 inch large cubes.
Mix about 3-4 tablespoons of mayo and wasbi to your liking to make
wasabi mayo.  Simply use a small spoon to add your homemade
wasabi mayo in between your cucumber and tuna as a gluing agent
and for a great sauce. You can add a drizzle of soy sauce or have
the soy sauce in a separate little bowl for extra sauce for your liking.
You can be creative and line them up in a circle or a grid almost like a
checkerboard or in 1 long line if you have a plate or tray that is long.
You can be creative and create a design if you want also.

This appetizer would not be cheap at a restaurant but can be
super affordable if you just simply made it at home.
A regular size pack of raw tuna is about $6-10 depending of the size (lbs)
obviously but you can also  get around 20 or so pieces with one pack.
Not too shabby?!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 22 of 31 days

August 20, 2014

The basics of soy sauce...

Do you know that most soy sauces made in the USA are NOT
soy sauce?  Well then, what is it?  Is it safe? Are there just chemicals
inside these so called soy sauce bottles?
Is there dye in there?  Is it something completely weird?
Is it safe to consume?  OH MY GOODNESS! What is it!?!

More often than not soy sauce made in the USA is wheat and not soy.
A few will have both wheat and 'soy protein' but most often it just 
contains wheat.  So wheat sauce is more of an ideal name.  
Real authentic soy sauce is made from fermenting soy beans in salt. 
It gets pressed and the first batches are often the darkest and the 
strongest and best in taste. It gets pressed many more times after the 
1st pressing and therefore the lighter hue and it's cheaper.  
Premium soy sauce bottles are sometime over $10 for a small
bottle.  It's sort of similar to extra virgin olive oil and plain olive oil. 
The extra virgin olive oil that gets pressed first is the purest and 
most expensive. If you see olive oil that is ridiculously cheap... 
it's probably because it's the pressing of the excess of other pressings 
and the leaves and branches. 

What's super ironic is that many stores sell what they call
'gluten-free' soy sauce which is REAL soy sauce because it is made
from soy beans  rather than wheat. So.......... in the US,
we have to pay more for ACTUAL  soy sauce (the gluten-free) one
which is often almost considered a gourmet or  specialized soy sauce.
Go figure!  Lastly, you know the soy sauce packets you get
when you order Chinese take-out?  9 times out of then- those
'soy sauce' packets don't even have the wheat in them.
Not all soy sauce packets BUT many of them are just caramel coloring
and corn syrup. Many don't even have salt in them either.
Always look at the labels prior to eating things so you know
what you are consuming!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 20 of 31 days

August 19, 2014

Bell peppers with hummus

Have you ever had hummus?
You know, the paste made from chick peas.

You can buy hummus that is already made but
you can simply make it yourself as well.

Just take a can of chick peas and blend it until the texture
is smooth.  Add a heavy drizzle of olive oil after you have
blended it. Make sure you rinse the chick peas or anything inside
a can for that matter except soup of course.
Could you imagine if someone tried to rinse soup!?!

What's great about making your own hummus is that
it's fresher, you can add whatever herbs or seasonings
you desire and it doesn't have preservatives or other chemicals
in it so it's much healthier!

You can add all sorts of things to hummus.  Here are a few examples-
garlic, dried onion pieces, nutmeg and thyme,  sun dried tomatoes, 
a little bit of pepper flakes to spice it up or even a few drops of sriracha sauce...
you really can add whatever you would like to season it up, especially
since plain hummus is as dull and boring as it can get!?!

You can dip all kinds of veggies and crackers and chips into hummus
or you can pipe it through a small zip lock bag onto veggies just like 
these green and orange bell peppers above.  It can be a SUPER easy dish
at a bridal shower or a healthy backyard bbq item!  

The combinations of color and patterns just in bell peppers are endless
but imagine what you could create with other veggies and crackers as well!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 19 of 31 days

August 18, 2014

Mint ice cream sandwich CAKE

This one is a.....  shall I say, no- brain-er?

Long story .....    super short, I'm not allowed to bake cakes
for family get togethers-  maybe,
just MAYBE  I'll explain another time why I'm not allowed to.

So the next best thing other than cupcakes for the summer
especially would be-  not just ice cream sandwiches and not just
ice cream sandwich cakes  BUT ice cream sandwich cakes
with a sneaky layer of mint chocolate chip ice cream!

The easiest way to make this is to layer everything in a bread pan.
The rectangle baking pans that you would bake a bread in.
Line everything up the best way you can and make sure everything
is as even as you can get it.  Almost think of it as a craft project where
you want everything to nicely fit in that rectangle pan.

Once everything is in there and pretty flat and smooth-
wrap the top with clear wrap. Put it in the freezer and wait 
at least 30 minutes just so everything is frozen together.

It will be easy when you cut/slice it.
When you get ready to cut it, run your large cake knife
through hot water under the sink- it will make for a clean
and easy cut.  I'll have to find a way to create this in a way
that the diabetics in my family can have this...
I WILL find a way to have cakes at family gatherings AGAIN!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 18 of 31 days

August 17, 2014

semi- Home made sun-dried tomato spread

If you have a super market that sells already sun dried tomatoes,
you can simply add olive oil to it and a dash of salt and simply create
your own sun-dried tomato spread.

Sometimes gourmet sun-dried tomato spread can be over $15
just for a little jar.

What's nice is that you can freeze the plain sun-dried tomatoes
and make little by little rather than using it all and it spoiling.

You can cultivate it by adding garlic to sometimes and sometimes
adding other herbs to change it up. All you have to do is take
the dried tomatoes and mince them up and after you add
the olive oil-- it will soften more and be a little softer than the
dried up tomato that you started with.

You can use sun-dried tomato paste for pasta sauces, especially
chilled pasta salads, on good crusty bread or any bread for
that matter, and in sandwiches as a spread.

The best sandwich is a sandwich with some turkey or chicken
with some basil leaves, mozzarella cheese and sun-dried
tomato spread.  YUM-ME!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 17 of 31 days

August 16, 2014

Sometimes Bird Food tastes really good!

Vietnamese summer rolls are super healthy, gluten free and
delicious.  For dinner last night, we had salad in a roll basically.

What's great about summer rolls is that you can cultivate it
to your liking and put whatever you and your family enjoys.

My go-to ingredients are shredded or cut julienne of
carrots, red bell peppers (you can use any color but red is vibrant),
cucumbers for the crunch, a little romaine, avocado for the
creaminess and mint leaves for the refreshing taste.

As far as the sauce... you can use peanut sauce or a another sauce.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 16 of 31 days

August 14, 2014

Shall we JUST. 86 it?

Have you ever heard the term '86 - it'?  Eighty six it.
It's a term that restaurants often use
when something is out of stock so a common phrase
might be the manager informing the servers
that they are out of  'that' for the night.

"eighty-six the flounder or we are eighty-six-ing the filets)

Where or where did the term come from though?
Why the number 86?  What's so significant about that number?
Is it a certain year?  hmmm.... any guesses?

There are actually more than one explanations.

Here are a few I will share with you today~!

The Delmonico origin.  Delmonico's  was known for their
ribeye steaks.  The ribeye steak was # 86 on their menu.
On 1 or 2... or many occasions that they ran out of menu item #86
it became shorthand for running out of the ribeye and quickly
caught on for other items when they were out of it.

Another possible origin people say it that it came about
from the street car line on the East side of Manhattan.
The line ran from 14th Street to 86th Street.
The motorman or conductor would yell out,
"Eighty-six! End of the line! Everyone out!"

Some say it came from:
a British merchant shipping term
where.... the standard crew was 85 men
so that the 86th man would be left behind.

Some even believe it came the the dimensions
of a grave! What!  8 feet long and 6 feet deep
and therefore the item (or person in this case) yikes!
 was dead or..... 86'd.

To me, the Delmonico origin sounds most
realistic especially since it directly relates to running
out of food!?     To me, it's a no brain-er!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 14 of 31 days

August 13, 2014

Strawberry Basil Crostini

Do you ever have friends or family over or have to take something
to someones house and you JUST.DON"T. have the time?

Here is a little something that could look a little  'fant-cee'
AND it's in season AND it's easy to prepare, travel with, assemble etc...

Strawberry basil crostinis.   All you need is love... nope, that's a song not
the ingredients to this recipe.  You will need a pint of strawberries,
a few basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, bread of your choice and either
goat cheese or even cream cheese if that's what floats your boat.

Slice your bread, line them up on a baking sheet to make them warm 
and toasty  (you don't have to) 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes if that.  

While your bread slices are toasting... you can wash and cut 
your strawberries into slices or dices  (whichever you want to do)  
Add a TBSP of balsamic vinegar and 
1 teaspoon of sugar or honey (optional)  Chiffonade  (cut thin long strips) 
your fresh basil leaves and add to your strawberries.

Take your toasted bread out of the oven and slather some 
goat cheese onto your bread. Lastly use an ice cream scoop and 
scoop a spoonful of your strawberry basil onto each piece of bread 
that now has melted  goat cheese.
(when I say melted- it's because the goat cheese was smeared 
on when the bread was JUST taken out of the oven and still is warm)

Ta-Da!   super easy right!?!

Even though it's super easy - your friends and family will be impressed!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 13 of 31 days

August 12, 2014

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

Although it's summer and we want to enjoy chilled foods...
sometimes a hearty hot soup is good for our insides.

Have you ever made cheddar broccoli soup at home?
Here's a super easy way to make some.

You will need broccoli, an onion, celery, red bell peppers
and some cheddar cheese. (I like to just use already shredded)

Dice an onion (this recipe is good for 2-3 people as a side soup) 
and throw that into the pot so that it gets cooking first. 
Add a coffee mugs worth of water with that onion. 
When the onion starts to get translucent- 
add our celery (diced up) and broccoli (bite size) 
(red bell pepper diced up is optional)

Once the veggies have cooked down and are soft, 
add a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 a cup of milk 
along with another full cup of water.
Let them have a good time in the  'hot tub' as they 
socialize and  get acquainted with each other. 
Once everything is smooth and mixed together....
Your super easy cheddar broccoli soup is done.  
You can add salt at the table to right into the soup
(1-2 teaspoons of salt or soy sauce)

Having some crusty bread to dip into your soup will be good also!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 12 of 31 days

August 11, 2014

Celebrate each day!

Celebrate each day... like it's ...... your birthday!

Why?   Because you deserve it.
Almost all of the time, we bring upon ourselves
the drama in our lives and the headaches and such.

If you have a positive outlook and try your best in
being productive and taking care of the people
around you even if it's simply by words... THEN
your day, each day will significantly become better!

Today I celebrate the fact that it's a Monday!
I have officially been blogging away for 40 months...
aka 3 years and 4 months.

I currently have over 50,000 world-wide followers and visitors of my blog.
This is also my 401st blog post.  WHAT!?!!

It certainly has been a fun venture so far. I can't complain.
As I have lost count with how many cooking classes (over 150 at this point)
and creating menus and menus and menus and .... wait for it....
MENUS. for Personal Chef lunches and dinners --
I am grateful. I am grateful that I have brought a smile to people
(often strangers- people I have met for the first time) with food.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 11 of 31 days

August 10, 2014

Why do Koreans slurp seaweed soup on birthdays?

Seaweed soup in Korean is called Mi-yeok Guk - 
'Mi-yeok'  meaning seaweed and 'Guk'  meaning soup.  
Seaweed soup is made from a sea vegetable known as 'wakame'  
or sometimes called sea mustard.  Seaweed contains a super
high concentration of iodine and calcium which are super important
especially to nursing mothers. Many Korean women consume
seaweed soup during pregnancy so that their newborn receives
the nutrition through breastfeeding.... 

AND that's why Koreans prepare and eat seaweed soup
on birthdays. It's a reminder of the first food they consumed
through their mothers, thus bringing good fortune for the rest
of the year.  

It's not too difficult to make either. (As long as you can get to 
an Asian supermarket) Seaweed is sold dried so you will have to 
soak it in water first so it bloats up. 
Make sure you rinse it several times because it does 
come from the sea and even though it's dried- often times 
it's actually dried by the sand area.

You can use anchovies for the broth or I actually prefer beef. 
Any cut of beef is ok to use in making the broth. 
I often dice up or give the beef a rough chop
so it's a little tender and in smaller pieces.

I take a TBSP of sesame oil and 3 TBSP of soy sauce and saute the beef first. 
Then I add one whole onion (medium size) sliced up to give it more flavor. 
Once the onion has cooked a little (5-7 minutes) I add water and fill the pot. 
I then add the bloated and already wet seaweed into the pot.
Let it come to a boil and then turn it to a medium low and let it simmer
for a bit. (minimum 30 minutes) The broth will turn into a yellowy-greenish
hue from the seaweed. That's when you know it's ready and it will 
taste good. You can add a little more salt & pepper at the table. 
Seaweed soup is more often than not eaten with a small bowl of rice.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 10 of 31 days

August 9, 2014

Sesame Spinach Tofu

Having vegetables can be super simple or super hard.
It's really how to go about it.  Yesterday for lunch I had some 
sesame spinach with tofu as a side dish.  

It's a no brain-er.   First, wash your spinach because there
is often soil around the stems. Boil some water and once the
water boils- turn the stove off and toss your spinach in the pot.

The spinach will wilt right before your eyes. It takes about 1 minute.
Strain it and add 1-2 teaspoons of sesame oil.  

Take firm tofu (about 2 X 2" cube) and squeeze it over the sink
with a disposable glove or a cheese cloth. Once the excess water 
is out of the tofu, simply add the tofu to the spinach.

For the seasonings- add a drizzle of soy sauce or a sprinkle of salt.
One or the other not both. I like to add a minimal about of red pepper
flakes (cayenne or spicy paprika is ok too)

That's it. Spinach is a common side dish in Korean cuisine plain
by itself but adding the tofu makes it a little bit heartier.

If you REALLY wanted to cultivate it and put a twist on it...
you could add some grated parmesan cheese on it also!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 9 of 31 days

August 8, 2014

Have you ever wondered where the name came from?

As you are driving to work or commuting on the train
have you ever pasted a restaurant and wondered...

I wonder how the food is there... or
have you ever wondered where that name came from...

Is it simply the owner's name or something else!?

Here are a few I wanted to share with you today before
the weekend!

Jimmy Johns - Is it 2 peoples names?
One named James and the other John?
Did they discuss if it should be Jimmy & Johns or Johnny Jim's
or some other combination of their name?
Jimmy Johns simply came from the founder's first and
middle name.  ----- Jimmy John Liautaud

P.F. Changs - What does the P.F. stand for?  Ping and Foo?
Pan-seared and Fried or just Pan Fried? hmmm
The P & F stand for Paul Fleming who partnered with a
Chinese chef with the last name Chiang but they dropped
the letter "I" thinking it would be difficult to pronounce
so P.F. Changs stands for Paul Fleming Changs.

Denny's - Was it someone named Denny..?... nope!
but good obvious guess. Denny's was originally Danny's donuts.
Owner Harold Butler and his wife moved closer to Harold's wife's
uncle Danny (who owned Danny's coffee shops) and at the time
Harold didn't have any money to create the now Denny's so
his wife's uncle helped him with running a Danny's Coffee shop
that they later  just changed the name from Danny's to Denny's
for corporate franchising reasons. I wonder why they just didn't
call it Harold's?  Interesting huh?!

One last one for you today is:

Red Robin - Red Robin was first called Sam's Tavern.  hmmm.
The owner- Sam sang in a barbershop quartet and their go-to
song was "When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin along"
He enjoyed that song SO much that he later changed the place
to Sam's Red Robin.  Two decades later, Gerry Kingen bought
the restaurant and as he expanded it- he decided to drop the Sam's
and the rest is history as simply: Red Robin.

The history of how things started is always fascinating to me.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 8 of 31 days

August 7, 2014

Buffalo Fried Rice

When you are making fried rice- it's  best to use day old rice
especially if you have left over take out rice.
Most fried rices are made with day old rice simply because it is
not as sticky and once rice becomes cold, all the moisture is gone and
for a fried rice stir-fry texture... you want it to be not as moist or
too sticky.  For- who wants fried rice that is porridge like?

I love fried rice and I also delight all things Buffalo especially when made
with Frank's Hot sauce. For this super easy way of making Buffalo fried rice-

I diced up one small onion and  rough chopped already shredded carrots.
I also sliced 2 hot dogs as well. I scrambled 2 eggs in the pan first and then
took the eggs and put them in a bowl (to be added at the end)

I sauteed the onions first and then added the carrots then the hotdogs
with 1 TBSP of soy sauce for the salt, a teaspoon of garlic powder,
a teaspoon of mustard powder and a teaspoon of sugar along with
about 5 TBSP of Frank's Hot sauce.
I then added the rice and stirred everything together.
Lastly, add your already scrambled eggs and stir-in.
I added some parsley flakes at the end as well. (optional)

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 7 of 31 days

August 6, 2014

Personal Chef Dinner with SPIN Inc.

I love churning menus for not just cooking classes but also for
Personal Chef Dinners.  I was recently invited again by SPIN Inc.
for a Personal Chef Dinner. It's pretty awesome what they do.

The reason I was there was for a 'winners' dinner' which is
exactly what it sounds like. A dinner for the 15 winners.

Spin runs fitness challenges and contests for their employees
every few weeks and the winners received a Personal Chef Dinner
along with their certificates!  How cool is that at a work place?!!

I think it's a win, win, win!  It's a great way to motivate your employees
along with building stronger bonds and team work within your co-workers.

Receiving a Personal Chef Dinner after your hard work is cool too!

Their winners dinner was in their work cafeteria. It's a great space with 
a kitchen attached to it which helps tremendously in preparing the food, 
obviously.  I wanted to dress up the table a little bit even though it's a 
work lunch area with a green table cloth (their logo color) and a few 
tissue paper pom poms... which is always an easy way to dress up the table.

The winners participated in a taste test also. For this group- 
the item was cheese.  Each participant was able to taste 4 different cheeses 
and decide from which it came.

Did it come from a  cow,  goat,  sheep or buffalo?  
The results weren't half bad! I think a few people answered a few correctly.  
More often than not...  people guess completely wrong 
but have so much fun guessing!

The menu started with watermelon lemonade with frozen 
watermelon cubes in place of ice and with strawberry basil crostinis 
with garlic and goat cheese.  The strawberries and basil were marinaded 
in balsamic vinegar.  There were also  Vietnamese summer rolls (not pictured)

The main entree was Soba Noodles (gluten-free) mixed with 
shredded carrots,  sauteed garlic mushrooms and cabbage with 
a side salad of tomatoes and spring mix.

As far as the dessert, it was something not too heavy but dessert is dessert
so I cultivated my own banana split and made them into banana split kebabs.

I baked a super moist brownie and a vanilla cake and cut them into
large bite-size cubes.  I skewered a mixture of strawberries, bananas,
brownie and vanilla cake pieces and a pineapple just to freshen it up.
I received many compliments even without the ice cream.
Being it was a hot summer day and it was at a company cafeteria-
I decided to 86 the ice cream and it still worked out well!
Plus, it was a winners dinner from a fitness challenge y'all!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 6 of 31 days

August 5, 2014

Beef and Radish Soup

Soup is a very common side dish to eat along with your rice
and  'banchan' (side dishes) in Korean cuisine.

This morning, I wanted to share a very go-to soup called
beef and radish soup.  Radish is a bit spicy at times and very crisp
when it is raw but in this soup-
you will cook the radish so that is super soft and ever so tender.

The ingredients for this soup are: 
~ 1 pound of Korean radish (which is a large white radish)
    (sliced it into rectangle bite sizes)
~ 4-6 oz of beef (any type of chuck works well for this soup---
   you want to mince it into small pieces)
~ sprouts (a large handful which is about 1/2 a cup)
~ 2 scallions chopped
~ radish stems from smaller radish (optional)
~ 3 TBSP of soy sauce 
~ 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
~ 1/2 a pot of water (about 5 cups)

Start with taking your beef and sauteing it in the sesame oil and when 
the beef has cooked (is a brown color and not the original pinkish color)
you can add all but the sprouts to your pot.

Once your radish has cooked down and is tender-
you can lastly add your sprouts in, turn the stove off 
and add a lid to your pot.

Beef and radish soup is best eaten with a bowl of rice.
You can add a little bit of hot pepper flakes as well if you want to add 
a little spice but this soup is typically enjoyed as a milder beef broth soup.

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 5 of 31 days

August 4, 2014

Watermelon lemonade!

Watermelon is perfect for summer.
Everything about this drink screams out.... summer!

From the color to the refreshing watermelon to the chilled
sweetness of the watermelon and slight tartness of the
lemonade combination- you can't go wrong with this drink.

Again, it's SO easy to make.  Your family and friends will be
so impressed that they'll look at you twice!

Let me share with you not only how easy it is to make watermelon lemonade
but a few simple tricks that will really WOW your family and friends as well.

First start off with some cut watermelon.
You can purchase a whole watermelon or you can purchase already cut
watermelon in a clear container from the supermarket.
There's always a debate which is cheaper...
whether to buy the whole watermelon or to buy it already cut.

If you were to literally analyze the weight of the inside, red, edible portion
of the watermelon compared to the price per pound of a whole watermelon...

THEN.... buying already cut watermelon is more often than not cheaper
simply because most people are going to throw away the whites
and rind of the watermelon which is a huge portion of the watermelon
that accounts for the extra $ per pound.

Anyways,  take some cut watermelon cubes and throw it into your blender
and blend it for about 30 seconds. Yup, that's all it takes. Make sure you
add a little bit of water, maybe about a 1/4 cup - otherwise it will not blend.

If you wish to have the watermelon not as pulpy- feel free to run the
blended watermelon through a strainer.  Otherwise, just add your blended
watermelon to your choice of lemonade.  I often prefer
Crystal Light lemonade but feel free to use any kind that floats your boat!

Before you blend all your watermelon cubes, take some of it
(depends on how many people you will be "chilling" with)
and place the cubes into a cup or bowl and throw it into the freezer.

As you serve your summer watermelon lemonade--
you can drop some of the now frozen watermelon cubes and use it
in place of ice cubes. Using the actual watermelon as frozen cubes
will not only keep it more flavorful and enjoyable but it will also
not water your drink down!  Your friends will truly be impressed!

If you add a little wedge of watermelon or lemon or even mint as
a garnish... it looks really nice as well.

Cheers to day 4 of August!

Zestfully Let's Cultivate Food.........  day 4 of 31 days