Thursday, September 30, 2010

2 Santa Fe Corn and Black Bean Soup

Here's a link to a soup from one of my favorite food blogs Foy Update. Enjoy!

Foy Update - Santa Fe Corn and Black Bean Soup - Recipe and Instructions

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

0 Chocolate Cream Mini-Pie

One of my favorite desserts my mom would make me when I was a child was chocolate pudding pie. I wanted to take that memory and transform it into something a little lighter and add my own twist to it. My favorite addition to the recipe is the crumb topping, as it adds some interesting texture to it. So here's the recipe to an adaptations to one of my favorite memories as a kid!

Ingredients:
- 3/4 cup Graham cracker crumbs (I use a gluten-free boxed variety)
- 1/8 cup Sugar
- 3 tbsp melted Butter
- Chocolate Pudding Mix
- Milk
- 2 spoons powered sugar
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- Whipped cream

Steps:
1. Preheat an oven to 350F. Line 9 cups in a muffin pan with baking papers. Line a small baking pan with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl combine the first 3 ingredients and mix until well blended. The mixture should appear like the mixture below:

3. Set aside about 3 spoonfuls of the mixture, and spread out onto the baking pan.
4. Add about 2 spoonfuls of the mixture into each muffin cup, and spread out evenly.
5. Add the muffin pan and baking pan into the oven. Bake for about 8 minutes until slightly browned. Let them cool completely.

6. Prepare the chocolate pudding as directed on the packaging, and let cool completely (if applicable).
7. Mix together the powdered sugar and cream. Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
8. Gently fold the cream mixture into the pudding. When the pudding mixture is well blended, spoon evenly into each crust cup. Throw into the refrigerator and let cool overnight.
9. When ready to serve, gently remove the pie from the cup, top with whipped cream and some of the baked crumb mixture. Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

1 Simple, Quick Guide to Beef

Being known as an avid fan of beef, many of my friends have asked me the differences on all the types of beef at the grocery store, and what it has to be used for. So for this post I plan on covering chuck, flank, short loin, and sirloin.

Chuck is likely the most common cut of beef most people have without knowing it. Chuck has a really rich flavor, and a fairly balanced amount of fat.  While chuck is cut as steak sometimes, its most commonly consumed as ground beef or as a pot roast (image to the left). For this reason, best way of cooking non-ground chuck is by roasting in a pot, slow cooking, or braising it. If you want to eat beef on an affordable budget, look no further.


Flank is another cut that is best suited for braising and cooking slowly. Due to its high fat content, slow cooking this cut is key in order to get a quality cooked steak. If you've ever had fajitas, you've most likely had flank steak.




Short loin is the cut of choice if you want beautiful grilled steak, and probably my favorite. This cut is one of the most tender cuts with a rich beef flavor. Famous steaks from the short loin are porterhouse, Kansas or the heavenly New York Strip, tenderloin and fillet mignon. 


Sirloin is similar to the short loin cut, normally with a higher fat content. This is the cut that I most commonly buy, because of its rather high quality for a much cheaper price than short loin. When looking for sirloin in the store, aim for top sirloin, as its the highly quality sirloin cut. Pretty much any preparation can be used on sirloin, aside from slow cooking methods.


I hope this is helpful, and comment if you want any other food guides!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

0 Fast and Easy: Gnocchi with Meat Sauce


Below's another one of my quick and easy meals that anyone can make. For real quick meals where I don't really have time to cook, I like to use pre-made pasta and sauce, and then add a few ingredients to enhance the flavors. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
- Pre-made gnocchi
- Your favorite jar of tomato sauce, 1 cup
- Parmesan cheese
- mozzarella cheese
- a few leaves of basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 pound ground beef





Steps:
1. Start a pot of boiling water, and cook the gnocchi according to the package's directions.
2. Heat a shallow pot to medium heat, add a small amount of olive oil and ground beef. To this, add some salt, pepper, and the garlic. Cook until the meat is no longer pink.
3. Drain the cooked meat, and add back to the pot. Add tomato sauce, along with approximately a 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, and a 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. Mix until all the cheese has melted.
4. Mix the gnocchi with the sauce, and add some chopped basil.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

0 Cinnamon Mocha Mousse


Base mousse recipes are fairly similar across the board, most contain chocolate, eggs, cream, and sugar. I've always loved chocolate mousse and pudding, and I made this recipe to mix it up and add some subtle cinnamon and coffee flavors. Keep in mind this is not a supremely sweet dessert.

Ingredients:
- a little more than half a cup of dark chocolate
- 1 spoon of butter
- 2 spoonfuls of espresso
- 1 cup really cold heavy cream
- 1 spoon cinnamon
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (for the topping)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla (1 for the mousse, 1 for the topping)
- 1 spoon sugar

Steps:
1. In a double boiler (a glass bowl over a bowl of shallow boiling water) melt the chocolate, cinnamon, butter, 1 tsp vanilla, and espresso. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Make sure that you have a glove or pot holder in whichever hand you're holding the bowl with.
2. Once the chocolate mixture is melted, remove from the heat, and let rest until warm.
3. Whisk the egg whites until they become light. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate and mix until well blended.
4. In a blender or with a mixer, whip the cream until it is light and fluffy. Take note that heavy cream has to be used, light cream does not whip properly (more on the science behind this in a later post).
5. Gently fold in the whipped cream until the mousse is well blended.
6. Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla set aside for the topping.
7. Spoon the mousse into serving glasses, and spoon whipped topping on top. Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top and enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

0 Garlic Basil Pizza


Autumn brings football games, cooler weather, and holidays, all with two things in common: comfort food and family. Sadly, gluten-free diets don't always agree with seasonal food and comfort food. Thanksgiving, Christmas, parties, and many seasonal foods contain gluten: pies, stuffing, sandwiches, cakes, hamburgers, pizza, and more. In fact, its been a whole year since I've had pizza. Luckily, I tried this pizza crust last month when one of my roommates bought the mix for it. The pizza turned out really well, so I wanted to go ahead and share it!

Ingredients:
-Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Dough Mix
-2 eggs
-1 tablespoon oregano
-3 glove garlic
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1.5 cups warm water
-1 block mozzarella cheese
-Parmesan cheese
-tomato sauce
-fresh basil
-pepper to taste




Directions:
1. Follow the directions on the back of the dough mix until the step where you let the dough rest. The difference before and after rising is shown below:
Before
After

2. After the dough has risen, fold in the oregano, one of the diced gloves, and some Parmesan cheese.
3. Split the dough in half, and spread over two greased pans. Whenever your hands begin to stick to the dough, slightly wet your hands with water. Its best to make sure the dough is spread evenly across the pan.
4. Bake for 8 minutes.
5. Add the sauce, some garlic, pepper, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, along with your favorite toppings. Cook for another 15 minutes. After the cheese is golden on top, pull out of the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

0 Quick and Easy Peppered Steak

This past week for me was very busy due to work, and on those kind of weeks, who wants to spend time cooking? That's why I'm sharing this recipes; its one of my few quick and simple recipes that I use to make a home cooked meal when I'm flat out exhausted. Another reason I love this recipe is it reminds me of my childhood, because its a dish my mom would make when she didn't have time to make anything extravagant. I've added the hoisin sauce and lemon juice to the recipe because it cuts into some of the saltiness of the soy sauce. Enjoy!

Ingredients
- half a pound of thinly sliced sirloin
- 1/8 cup gluten-free soy sauce
- one spoonful of hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 2 cloves garlic (or 1 tbsp garlic powder)
- half of one green pepper
- pepper to taste




Steps

1. Start preheating a skillet to medium low temperature.
2. In a bowl, mix everything but the meat and green pepper.
3. Slice the steak into even strips. (It'll make the steak cook faster and evenly)
4. Slice the green pepper into long strips (I don't have pictures of the green pepper because I did not have any at the time of making this).

5. Add the sauce and steak into the bowl, stir until the steak starts browning. This should take about 1-2 minutes.
6. Add the green pepper to the pan, and cook until the steak is no longer pink and the pepper has softened.

This peppered steak should go well with rice, potatoes, or any of your favorite vegetables. Enjoy!

0 Other Food Blogs: Pesto Gnocchi with Asparagus, Chicken & Shrimp

This week I plan on trying gnocchi for the first time, and this recipe caught my eye as a really tasty and appealing. Hope you enjoy!

Image From Runs with Spatulas

Runs With Spatulas: Pesto Gnocchi with Asparagus, Chicken & Shrimp

Saturday, September 18, 2010

2 Fruit Salad

Here's a really easy fruit salad to make. I love making it when local produce is available and in season. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:
Mixture of fresh berries and other fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and grapes.
.25c honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
zest of one lemon
handful of almonds or walnuts (optional)

1. In a bowl, whisk everything but the berries and fruits.
2. Toss the honey mixture with the berries.

0 Health Benefit of the Week: Chocolate!

Chocolate desserts are possibly my favorite. To me there's nothing more than biting into a forkful of pie or cake that pairs the distinct aromatic flavors of chocolate with other interesting flavors and textures. It wasn't until this past year that I heard about the potential health benefits of eating chocolate. But honestly, how healthy can a sugar packed, cream filled chocolate bar be?

Tasty yet functional?

A Short History of Chocolate

The cocoa bean is native to Mexico and Central America, and has been used in food and drinks for thousands of years. Aztecs and Mayans used chocolate in drinks such as tea, or as a fermentation agent in alcohols. Central Americans also utilized chocolate medically to cure ailments such as fatigue and diarrhea. 

After the Americas were conquered by Europe, settlers first harvested cocoa  for the royalty, and eventually for common European citizens. It wasn't until the 19th century and the Industrial revolution that cocoa was processed into the solid chocolate we are familiar with today.

Are there any health benefits to eating chocolate?

Yes, but a lot of the net benefits of chocolate depend upon what type of chocolate you eat.
  • The consumption of cocoa and dark chocolate benefits the circulatory system, specifically by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Chocolate contains antioxidants, with cocoa containing the highest percentage, followed by dark chocolate, and milk chocolate in a distant third.
  • Some research has shown that chocolate can help reduce migraines. However, this effect does not exist as much in milk chocolate due to its high sugar and fat content.
  • Other research has shown that dark chocolate helps stimulate the mind.
In general, the rule of thumb with chocolate is that dark chocolate is the healthiest of chocolates, due to its low sugar and fat content (since the sugar and fat content in milk chocolate can lead to obesity if over-consumed). Also, a tip for if you want to absorb the maximum amount of antioxidants in dark chocolates, some research has shown that drinking milk with the chocolate prevents the body from absorbing the antioxidants.

Hope that y'all enjoyed this article, and more recipe posts to follow today and tomorrow!

Friday, September 17, 2010

0 Apple Crisp Recipe

Sorry everyone for the total lack of updates this week. Work's been super busy this week, and has been capturing all of my attention. However, expect a ton of new posts this weekend!

But back to food. One of my new favorite food blogs is Foy Update. Simply everything she posts looks delicious, like this Apple Crisp! Link to the recipe below!

Image owned by Foy Update

Foy Update - Garden. Cook. Write. Repeat.: Fall Apple Crisp - Recipe

Monday, September 13, 2010

0 An Apple a Day...

Keeps your wallet all dry and empty. Yes, this does sound hypocritical because I own an iPhone. However, I own it because its one of the best smart-phones on the market for what I need. That being said, being the computer engineer that I am, I would never purchase a Mac. Below is one of several reasons...

Expensive Apples

Sunday, September 12, 2010

0 New Poll

Below is a new poll that I'll keep open for the next week. I'd love your feedback to cater the blog to what y'all want!





Saturday, September 11, 2010

0 Lowfat Chicken Portobello Lasagna

Lasagna is the food that keeps giving - make it once, eat like a king several times!

Ingredients:
- 16 oz frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 tbs buttery spread
- 6-10 No Boil lasagna noodles
- 8 oz sliced portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 10 3/4 oz fat free cream of mushroom soup
- 8 oz fat free sour cream
- 3 tbsp grated parmesan
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 8 oz extra sharp low fat cheddar (kraft has a 2 % version)
- Approx. 20 oz boneless, skinless chicken, diced

Directions:
- Pre-heat oven t0 350 F, drain the spinach

- Melt the buttery spread over medium heat in a large Dutch Oven or a large pot with lid, then add chicken and mushrooms and sautee for 10 min. Turn heat down to low, stir in spinach, soup, salt, pepper and sour cream. Fold in grated/shredded cheddar, stir well.

- Spoon 1/4 of the mixture into an 8x8 or 9x13 pre-buttered dish; arrange noodles, spoon more mixture on top. Keep repeating this procedure until you don't have any more yummy lasagna mixture left.

- Sprinkle liberally with parmesan, cover with tin foil and bake for 35 min. Remove tin foil and bake for an additional 10 min.


Final Step - EAT!

0 Gluten Free Chocolate Ganache Cake


Yesterday I was having a serious craving for chocolate, so I made a white cake with chocolate ganache filling and a chocolate butter cream frosting. Recipe below (and even though there's a lot to it, it's very easy). Enjoy!

Gluten Free White Cake
2 cups of your favorite gluten-free flour blend (or 2 cups of cake flour for a wheat recipe)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1.5 sticks softened butter
2 tsp vanilla
.5 cup milk
3 eggs
2 greased and floured 8-inch pans

1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
2. Sift the flour, and then mix with the sugar, powder, and salt.
3. Whip the butter until it is light, and then cut into the flour mixture.
4. Whisk the eggs with the vanilla until well mixed, then add to the flour.
5. Whisk in the milk to the mixture, and stir until well combined. 
6. Pour the mix into the pans, and bake for about 24 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
7. Once the cakes are done, pull out of the oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Ganache
9 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

1. Finely chop the chocolate in either a food processor or with a knife. You'll want a consistency as seen to the right.
2. In a small saucepan, constantly stir the cream at medium heat until it comes to a boil. Take off the heat and add immediately to the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and the ganache is fully mixed. 
3. Either let the ganache cool at room temperature, or put in the fridge to cool down.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

.5 cup butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
about 4 tablespoons milk

1. Cream the butter in a medium bowl until fluffy.
2. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla, and mix until well blended.
3. Slowly add the sugar, whipping each time until well blended.
4. Add the milk tablespoon by tablespoon to the mixture until the frosting is light and creamy.





Construction:

1. Flip one of the cake layers onto a plate. If you're afraid of the cake breaking as it comes out, use a knife to go around the perimeter of the cake to separate it from the pan.

2. Whip the ganache with a fork or whisk. If the ganache is at room temperature, it appear like a thick sauce; if it is refrigerated, the ganache can be whipped into a lighter filling. Whichever method is up to you. I personally like the consistency of it as a sauce.
3. Use the same methodology as step one to place the other cake on top of the one on the place. If the cakes or the ganache have not fully cooled, the cakes will slide around, so ensure that you've let them cool completely.

4. With a knife, spread the frosting on top of the cake. Enjoy, because everyone in my household did!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

0 Health Benefit of the Week: Apples!

An idea spurred by one of my friends Jimmy, I decided to start a weekly post about a variety of foods, and their health benefits. So I'd like to start with the mythical fruit that's supposed to keep you from ever needing to enter a doctor's office: the Apple.
No, not that Apple...

  • Stronger bones: Apples contain chemicals and elements such as Boron, which are proven to increase bone density.
  • Helps prevent asthma
  • Helps prevent heart disease: Apples have a chemical that lowers "bad" cholesterol, which helps your heart and other body functions work better.
  • Helps prevent lung, colon, liver, and breast cancer
  • Helps you lose weight
  • Good source of vitamins and antioxidants
  • Recent research shows links between eating apples and the prevention of Alzheimer's.

Hope this is a useful tidbit of information! Please let me know if you think this is a good idea, or any other food's you'd like to see various health benefits of. Happy Thursday!

0 Rock Band 3 New Instrument

Rock Band 3 features several new features, one of which is the addition of a keyboard instrument, so now anywhere from 1-7 people can play in a virtual band together.

I addition to the new instrument, there's now a new mode called Pro Mode. With Pro Mode, each instrument now can be played in the traditional Guitar Hero/Rock Band manner, or they can be played just like traditional instruments (however traditional Rock Band Guitar controls cannot be used in Pro Mode, since they only have a few buttons).

Below is an embed detailing the new keyboard features.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

0 Let's Move!

From LetsMove.gov:

"In the end, as First Lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me. This is a passion.
This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition."
- First Lady Michelle Obama


Two of my passions are Community Service, and eating healthy, delicious meals with friends and family. In college I was a brother in Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity that helped me grow into the person I am today through giving back to the community on a regular basis. I'm also a strong believer that eating healthy dinners and meals with those you love not only helps you grow closer together, but gives a family memories tied to food they've had together. That's why I really appreciate what the current first lady is campaigning to do, and that's help end childhood obesity by giving kids and their families the tools to be healthy.

I've joined Let's Move! Meetups to try to help and do my part in the community that I live in, Vienna, Virginia. As of now I'm the only one at my event, so any interested in joining, please join here because I need all the help I can get coming up with ideas and advertising for the event.

More info on Let's Move and links to other potential Virginia "Let's Move" events below the jump. Thanks to anyone who wants to help!


Monday, September 6, 2010

1 Apple Bacon Salad




Apples are one of the best products in Virginia during the fall. I love using them in anything from pork dishes, to desserts, and especially in salads. There's nothing more refreshing to me than biting into a crisp slice of apple in a salad. Below is one of my favorite fall-time salads, that's a little salty, a little sweet, and not too heavy. Besides, who doesn't love apples or bacon?


Ingredients:
Spring Mix of Greens
1 apple
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
2 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 diced shallot
1 diced garlic clove
salt and pepper




1. In a pan at medium low heat, cook the bacon. Don't worry about oiling the pan as there will be plenty of grease from the bacon.

2. As the bacon cooks in a small bowl mix the vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest.
3. After the bacon has fully cooked, place the bacon onto a plate with paper towels, and pat the bacon dry.
4. To the pan with the bacon grease, add the diced shallot. Sauté for a minute or two, and scrape up the bacon bits from the bottom of the pan. Drain the shallot in a fine metal colander.
5. Add the shallot to the vinegar mixture, and slowly whisk in the oil.
6. Slice the apple into very thin slices, like below.

7. In a large bowl, add the salad greens and apples. Slowly add a few spoonfuls to the bowl, and toss the salad. Add more dressing spoon by spoon. The goal is to lightly coat the salad, without drenching it in dressing, Nothing is worse than a over dressed salad...
8. Slice the bacon into small pieces and toss with the salad. Enjoy!

0 Best Little Restaurant in Northern Virginia

I've gone to this restaurant several times, and wanted to share it with any who haven't attended yet. Maple Ave has such a wide range of cuisine, most of which blends American, French, and Asian flavors seamlessly and beautifully. The menu depends upon what's seasonal in the greater Virginia area, and I love that they point out where their products are from. You can tell they put great respect and skill into turning these products into a delicious menu that always satisfies, but doesn't leave you stuffed or bloated.

Image owned by Maple Ave Restaurant


View Larger Map

Other reviews after the jump.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

0 Warms my Blood

As an alumnus of UVa, this video makes me all warm and happy inside...

Friday, September 3, 2010

0 Donkey Kong Country Returns Boxart

Rambi in the corner

0 Portal 2 Co-op Mode

3 Videos from IGN of the Portal 2 co-op mode. The more I see of this game the more excited I get.

Part 1:



Part 2 and Part 3 of the co-op visible after the jump.


0 Other Food Blogs

The I Am Gluten Free Blog just posted an utterly delicious looking Chocolate Cake recipe, I'll let you know how it tastes after I make it sometime over the next week!
 
Also, I found another awesome blog called Newfound Celiac, a useful blog for anyone you know who has Celiac.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

0 Chicken Parmesan

Yesterday my friend and I decided to make some chicken for dinner, and below is the recipe we followed! Apologies for no photos...

Ingredients
4 Chicken breasts
1 small can tomato paste
1 medium can tomato sauce
2 tomatoes, diced
5 leaves basil, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 tbsp onion powder
shredded Parmesan
salt and pepper

1. Salt and pepper the chicken, and preheat a pan to medium heat. Cook the chicken on one side for about 5 minutes, and then flip and cook for about 4 minutes.
2. While the chicken is cooking, in a pot combine all the other ingredients, with about 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cook on medium low heat until the chicken has cooked for 9 minutes.
3. Spoon the sauce on top of each chicken, and pour the rest into the pan. Shave Parmesan onto the top of the chicken, and cook until the chicken is done.

Eat with your favorite pasta or vegetables, and enjoy!