Last week Hannah Doolin published an online article on Delish titled “The Buffet Everyone Is Talking About In Your State.” She chose Borgata Buffet in Atlantic City as the top buffet in New Jersey. Her favorite buffet in New York is Lakruwana in Staten Island and Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse in Philadelphia is her Pennsylvania pick. You can read the entire article listing all of Doolin’s picks in all 50 states with reviews here.
Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent 2017, which Catholics observe, among other ways, by abstaining from meat on Fridays. The custom of abstaining on Fridays, once required on every Friday, evolved as a way to do penance in remembrance of Jesus’s crucifixion. When the prohibition against eating meat on Friday was lifted by Vatican II, it was done so providing some other form of penance or prayerful activity was substituted in its place. Today, due to the decreased consumption of meat for health reasons, abstaining isn’t much of a penance. It’s not difficult to give up something you rarely partake of. Many people would select a meatless meal over a steak when dining out, and fish, pastas, and otherwise vegetarian meals are favored by many for weeknight dinners. So maybe we should all abstain from a food we really enjoy and crave – meatless or not – during the six Fridays in Lent. That would be the true penance.
Today we celebrate Mardi Gras, and tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of Lent, the 40 days that lead up to the Catholic Church’s Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, followed of course by Easter Sunday. Practicing Catholics will be observing the dietary changes that Lent requires. This means not eating meat on the six Fridays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Many Catholics also refrain from eating sweets during Lent as an extra penance or sacrifice. Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday, is recognized as the last day one can eat rich foods before the forty day fast. Many people celebrate Mardi Gra with a special meal replete with indulgent goodies, including the things they will try to do without during Lent. You don't have to go to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras because the “A Taste of Home” Web site, see below, has several recipes that can be used to plan a Mardi Gras dinner, including New Orleans Beignets, Mardi Gras cupcakes, Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, and Bayou Burgers. If Mardi Gras isn't marked with a special menu in your house, maybe this is the year to start a new tradition.
photo credit: Snappygoat.com
Happy Valentine's Day!
According to the Chequamegon Web Site,
(http://www.chequamegonfoodcoop.com), the food most people associate with Valentine’s Day is chocolate. No surprise there, right? But other foods are typically served and eaten on Valentine’s Day as well. Chequamegon provides a list, and they are: herbs, wine, honey, and strawberries. The Spruce Web site (https://www.thespruce.com) reports that more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and about 8 billion conversation hearts will sold for Valentine's Day. You could get a sugar rush just by reading this blog! Want to really impress your Valentine? “Women’s Day” just released a list of 27Valentine's Day Cakes and Cupcakes That Really Prove Your Love” Check it out on their Web site (http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes/food-drinks/g11/10-valentines-day-cakes-cupcakes-102532/)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
photo credit: Snappy Goat
Today marks the start of Chinese New Year, and this year is the Year of the Rooster. Unlike the Western New Year, Chinese New Year lasts 15 days. That’s 15 days of feasting!
The Web site, China Highlights (chinahighlights.com) lists “7 Lucky Foods to Eat during Chinese New Year.” They are: fish (for an increase in prosperity), dumplings (for wealth), spring rolls (also for wealth), sweet rice balls (for family togetherness), good fortune fruit (for fullness and wealth), glutinous rice cakes (for a higher income or an increase in position) and longevity noodles (for happiness and longevity).
There are many New Year’s Day taboos, as listed by the same Web site, and most are non-food related. However, porridge is not allowed to be eaten during the holiday, as it symbolizes poverty because poor people eat porridge. Also, meat should not be eaten for breakfast to show respect to the Buddhist gods who are against the killing of animals.
Happy New Year to all who are celebrating this weekend. May it be a year of good health and prosperity for all!
The holidays are over and January is here. As someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I have an especially difficult time getting through the first (and the second) month of the year. Spending as much time as I can in the kitchen baking and cooking helps a lot, and trying recipes for the first time and recreating tried and true favorites help me keep my mind off the cold weather and lack of sunshine.
January does have some bright spots; it’s been designated National Hot Tea Month, National Oatmeal Month and National Soup Month.
Oatmeal is meal made from ground, steel-cut or rolled hulled oat grains. It is low in fat and high in fiber, making it so much more than a breakfast food or an ingredient in homemade cookies. Try adding oatmeal to the meat mixture when making meat loaf or meat balls, or include it when you are making a crust for pie or quiche. Add some oatmeal when you are making a topping for apple or peach crisp. And don’t forget that oatmeal bread, muffins and pancakes are all interesting ways to use oatmeal
Happy National Oatmeal (and Hot Tea and Soup) Month!
Add a festive touch to this year’s Christmas dinner with a Broccoli and Dried Cranberry Salad. The deep green of the broccoli dotted with splotches of red from the dried cranberries will make your dinner table come alive with Christmas spirit. Allow time for the salad to thoroughly chill.
2 lbs. fresh broccoli crowns, trimmed and separated into bite-sized pieces
1 5-oz package of dried cranberries (add more if you love dried cranberries)
½ cup onion, chopped fine (optional)
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons vinegar (apple cider, red wine or balsamic)
In a large salad bowl combine the broccoli, dried cranberries, and onion. In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar. Add mayonnaise mixture to broccoli. Toss well. Chill at least one hour. Makes about 8 servings.
Several surveys and polls taken over the years show that the most popular main courses for Christmas dinner are turkey, ham, prime rib, roast beef, and goose. Some Christmas dinners include two or more main courses, and Italian families usually serve a pasta dish, such as lasagna or ravioli as well. Most popular Christmas dinner side dishes include mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, green bean casserole and other vegetables, and stuffing or “dressing.”
This recipe for sausage and cranberry stuffing will go well with any main course you set on your Christmas table. This stuffing, which is called “Maria’s Stuffin’ Muffins,” is a recipe my sister, Jen and her husband, Glenn first found online a number of years ago. (http://www.food.com/recipe/marias-stuffin-muffins-266044). You’ll find variations of this stuffing on several Web sites, such as allrecipe.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/13651/awesome-sausage-apple-and-cranberry-stuffing) and the Food Network (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/robert-irvine/cranberry-apple-and-sausage-stuffing-recipe.html). Maria’s recipe states you can bake the stuffing mix in either a casserole or as individual servings in muffin pans, as seen in the picture. The individual muffins add a nice touch to Christmas dinner. If you plan to have extra stuffing for leftovers the next day, then take my advice and double the recipe. It is THAT good!
Asparagus is a light and healthy vegetable that makes a good Thanksgiving dinner starter or side dish. In addition, asparagus has many health benefits. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods Web site, asparagus is loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds, both of which help keep the circulatory and nervous system in good working order and reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes and cancer. Asparagus is also low in calories – a one-cup serving has about 40 calories – and it is high in fiber. Asparagus contains no fat or cholesterol and it is loaded with vitamins.
One of the easiest ways to cook asparagus is to roast it. First wash, then trim the asparagus by removing the tougher portion found at the bottom of the spear. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a baking dish and arrange the spears over the oil. Sprinkle the spears with a little more olive oil, grated cheese, oregano, and salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes.
Typical pizza toppings of cheese and high-fat meats like pepperoni and sausage make pizza notorious for being a high calorie food. Still, thirteen percent of Americans eat pizza daily, according to a survey published on pizza.com.
Today is National Pizza Day. Why not make a vegetable pizza to celebrate? One of the ways to rev up the healthfulness of pizza is to substitute the traditional white-flour crust with one made from whole wheat flour.
This crust recipe below for 100% whole wheat pizza crust is based on one that is published on the tablespoon.com Web site. It is essentially the recipe for white-flour crust with the flour substitution. Other whole wheat recipes, such as the one on the Food Network Web site, use a mix of both whole wheat and white flour. Some recipes call for honey, others for parmesan cheese. Clearly, pizza crust can be adapted to fit anyone’s taste preferences.
To make a vegetable pizza, use toppings like broccoli, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, and sun dried tomatoes. Part-skim mozzarella is used to keep the fat and calorie content low.
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 T sugar
For the topping:
1 cup (more for an extra cheesy pizza) part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup steamed broccoli florets
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup black olives
1 cup jarred sun dried tomatoes, drained of oil and chopped
1 cup artichoke hearts
Directions for the crust:
1. In a small bowl, combine yeast, water and 1 tsp. sugar. Let sit for five minutes.
2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups flour, salt and remaining sugar. Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture and olive oil.
3. Stir using the paddle attachment or a spoon until the dough just comes together, then knead, either by hand (about 5 minutes) or in a stand mixer fixed with the dough hook (3-4 minutes)
4. Add remaining flour in 1 tbsp, increments just until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl or is no longer sticky.
5. Shape dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Punch down risen dough, shape into a ball and place on a lightly floured pizza stone. Roll out into a circle of desired crust thickness and let rest about 10 minutes.
6.Sprinkle the cheese over the crust. Add broccoli, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes.
7. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 500 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are baked. Let pizza rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.