Finest Foodies Friday: May 30, 2008

foodie-blogroll3.gif

Here we are, time for this week’s installment of FFF. It is a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! It is a small way to share and discover all the wealth of food information we have at our fingertips with The Foodie Blogroll, the fastest growing blogroll for food bloggers. The only requirement to be featured here is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and that you are displaying The Foodie Blogroll icon on your page.

If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join, please click here.
If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here, please join us over on The Leftover Queen/ Foodie Blogroll Forum, and post your favorite foodblogs here.

Now on to this week’s picks!

Today I am going to start off with Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy
(don’t you just love that name? It is so vivid and makes you want to lick your fingers out of instinct!)
Susan is a professional musician who loves to cook. She also comes from a long line of Italian home cooks and I think growing up in that environment just lends to generations of people who adore food! Susan is no exception there. She talks about her musical history in her most recent post – The Daring Baker’s Challenge!

Next is Deborah from Taste and TellShe is like me, and so many of us out there – an experimental cook. She has trouble cooking the same recipe more than once, because there is just so much good food out there to try! In order to facilitate this more, she has made a personal goal to blog about one recipe out of her many cookbooks – and invites you to join in her Taste and Tell Cookbook Project

A relative newcomer to The Foodie Blogroll is Farida from AZ Cookbook or Farida’s Azerbaijani Cookbook
The minute I saw her blog for the first time, I was impressed. Not only does she have a whole blog devoted to a cuisine I would love to know more about, but she is very personable and helpful to her readers by answering questions about her national cuisine. She has great step by step instructions paired with beautiful photos of her yummy food! So if you would like to learn more about Azerbaijani Cuisine (and TRUST ME, you DO) – go on over and check out Farida’s blog.

Another blog I am really enjoying these days is Palachinka by Marija.
A beautiful blog with a focus on Serbian Cuisine. This is just another example of how the look of your blog plays an important role -everything from her blog design, photography and food is very clean with a strong attention to detail – so what really stands out when you visit is her food – front and center. There are so many recipes I would love to try.

Last but not least is Roni from GreenLiteBites
She focuses on the light side of food creations, that are low in fat, high in fiber and whole foods. This way of cooking is very near and dear to my heart! Through the recipes featured on her blog she shows us again that just because food is healthy does not mean it isn’t tasty! I also like that she does not use artificial sweeteners or processed foods in her recipes. Her food is just plain old good and good for you.

So please go visit today’s picks! When you do, be sure to leave them a nice comment and if it is your first time there, let them know that you heard about them via Finest Foodies Friday!

icon-foodie-joust.gif

Just a quick note! The Royal Foodie Joust competition is underway. You still have until Sunday at 10 PM EST to get your entries in. This month’s featured ingredients are lime, almond and raspberries. Be sure to get your entry in for your chance to win your own personalized apron as well as Tupperware Prizes from Our Sponsor, Ben!

Daring Bakers: Let Them Eat Cake…at L’Opera!

opera-cake-ready-to-eat.jpg

I want to start off by saying this is by far my favorite Daring Bakers Challenge yet. Why? Well, true to its name… It was very challenging, and it was a lot of firsts for me as well: first buttercream (that worked), first mousse (that worked), first time making almond flour and first time making dulce de leche. So after creating this cake, or 15 mini cakes, in my case, I felt really really accomplished and super happy about how delicious they were. So thank you very much Lis and Ivonne, our fearless founders for this wallop of a pastry!

So here we are, just getting back from our wedding (there was cake there) and then our fabulous honeymoon in Jamaica (yes, there was cake involved there too) and when I check to see what the DB challenge for May is, I am faced again, with cake. Opera Cake to be exact, and when I printed out the directions and it was 9 pages long, I almost passed out from spiking glucose levels!!!
BUT, I had missed the challenges for March and April and I was not about to miss another. So I decided to just be smart about this challenge and create some mini cakes (easily given away, and small portions) for Mother’s Day, because who deserves all this time and effort I was going to put into these cakes more than my Mom? Who happens to love cake and opera…(right, mom? back me up here!)
*pics of my Leftover Opera Cake Ice Cream follow*
Read the rest of this entry »

Finest Foodies Friday: New Favorites!

foodie-blogroll2.gif

It is Friday again, which means another rendition of FFF – a weekly Friday post featuring favorites from The Foodie Blogroll! It is a small way to share and discover all the wealth of food information we have at our fingertips with The Foodie Blogroll, the fastest growing blogroll for food bloggers. The only requirement to be featured here is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and that you are displaying The Foodie Blogroll icon on your page.

If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join, please click here.
If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here, please join us over on The Forum, and post your favorite foodblogs here.

Now on to this week’s picks!

I have just started to get to know Ingar from Taste Memory and I am really enjoying her blog and her personality! Her blog is so much fun, and every time I go there, I learn something new. She is a fellow Floridian and fresh, organic food advocate. Her recipes have an Asian flair to them often showcasing her Korean background, a cuisine I know too little about. Some of my favorites posts of hers include one about Seaweed and her most recent post – all about one of my favorite fruits, the coconut.

A newbie Foodie Blogroll blog that I have been enjoying is Alex‘s blog Just Cook It!
Alex is a very hands on cook, and his posts are always dotted with a little education along the way. This is why I enjoy reading his blog. He is also a freelance writer like me! Alex is living life in the slow lane with his girlfriend and really enjoying himself – tending a vegetable garden, writing a book, baking bread and most recently blogging his account of his most recent culinary rite of passage – taking a pheasant from field to kitchen and learning how to prepare very fresh meat. But how he got the pheasant in the first place is a story in itself! Reading Alex’s blog is like reading a a bunch of short stories.

Cassie‘s blog, Cassie Craves, is another really fun blog, and relatively new to The Foodie Blogroll. I love Cassie’s blog because she is so laid back. This quality is really going to help her now, because she has just recently, and I am talking days ago, become a mom! Her baby Andrew is adorable! She says that cooking is like therapy for her, helping her reflect on early memories in the kitchen as well as make new ones. If you are looking for nice, comfort food recipes, that are as down to earth as Cassie is, go check out her blog.

The next blog I want to talk about is Ben‘s blog,
Zest Therapy
. Ben is officially our youngest Foodie Blogroll member, a high school senior! Yes, you read that right, a high school senior and his blog is part of his Senior Comprehensive Project. How cool is that!?! He confesses that the blog is also a way for him to learn how to cook before he goes off to college. Lemme tell you Ben, learning how to cook is going to also do wonders for you in the dating game! :) Have you checked out my e-book, Love Through Food, yet? I know, it is a shameless plug, but it would be perfect for college! Ben just recently cooked for this AP Biology class – where he made his famous chili and bbq sauce – how lucky are they??? I know you all out there are going to help me welcome Ben to the ranks! :)

Last but not least, let’s talk about Foto Cuisine, a photojournalistic blog devoted to food and culinary techniques. We all know how important food photography is for having a top notch blog. But Christey and Peter have got it down to a science. Also fellow Floridians
(Hey all you FL bloggers, we need to do a meet and greet soon!!!),
they really appreciate food as an art form! Peter is a self taught cook, who has been teaching himself all the classic techniques to get his food to a higher level. Christey is the photographer. In Peter’s own words: “My step-by-step cooking techniques gel with her photojournalistic style, and I think between the two of us, we can tell the story of a meal in a way that blends both of our arts.” Rock on you guys!

My Foray into Artisan Gelato By Way of Ice Cream: Recipe: Tamarind Ice Cream and Papaya-Mango Ice Cream

papaya-magno-ice-cream.jpg

For the longest time I have had a dream that one day I would own a Gelateria – a quaint little storefront brightly colored and smelling of heavenly delights. The setting would of course be in a quaint little town, preferably historic and with cobblestones, where I would hone my creative juices to a simple yet delectable gastronomic experiment. This town would be full of people who appreciate fine foods and artistry or maybe just a constant stream of tourists looking for a unique snack. My life would essentially be like the movie Chocolat, but instead of chocolates, I would be making gelato, because just like Vianne, I believe that good food, filled with fine ingredients, that speak to people’s hearts and souls, can change lives and ultimately make people happier.

I have always had a deep respect for artisans of food. Those craftsmen and women who dedicate their lives to a single creative outlet and do it great – with purpose and passion. I am talking about cheesemakers, hand roasted coffee roasters, breadmakers, chocolatiers, vintners, olive oil producers, and farmers.
I have also always had a deep and profound love for ice cream. That soft and creamy texture that is nothing but a blank slate for all the creativity you can throw at it! So why haven’t I opened the doors to my gelateria yet? Because also in this vision, I am much older than I am now. I have been around the world, tasted a lot of frozen treats, ice creams and gelati from all over there world filling my head with an abundance of ideas and recipes, and am at the point where I am ready to throw down roots and stay somewhere for a while, putting my heart and soul and love into my creations.

However, every great gelato maker has to start somewhere right? And aren’t the guinea pigs of said gelato makers always happy too? So from this day forward, as I live my life and get closer to that gelateria dream with each step, I will begin experimenting with ice creams – and you can be my cyber-tasters. Sound good? Good. Then Enter.
Read the rest of this entry »

Recipe: Leftover Chicken Pasta with Artichoke Hearts, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Olives and Parmesan Cheese

artichokes_pasta_in-dish-450.jpg

I really thought twice about posting this recipe. It is so simple, but isn’t that what The Leftover Queen is all about? Simple, yet delicious meals using leftovers and ingredients you already have at home? I also decided to post this, because it is the first thing I actually “cooked” in my kitchen when we came back from our Honeymoon, and therefore it is sentimental, as am I.

We stopped at my mom’s house on the way back from the airport to say hi and pick up our kitty. She had a nice chicken dinner ready for us. I was so food-ed out from the trip and the chicken breast was so big, that when I was full, it looked like I had barely touched it! So she wrapped it up to go – just like a good mamma! :)

The next day, I was faced with a kitchen that was mine but unfamiliar after almost 2 weeks without really cooking. The fridge was empty, but luckily the pantry was still full of canned and jarred goods, including artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes. I love chicken with either of these, so I figured, why not both!? Now I only had 3/4 of a large chicken breast to work with, so I knew I needed to stretch it, so immediately my mind went to pasta. We had some nice whole wheat spaghetti in the pantry as well, so into a boiling pot of water it went. Roberto went to work cutting up the chicken into chunks and grating the very high quality parmesan cheese, while I opened the jars (what a slacker!).

artichokes_pasta_in-bowl.jpg

In a big mixing bowl we mixed the chicken, drained jar of artichoke hearts, some Kalamata olives and about 1/4 cup of sundried tomatoes with some of the oil from the jar (i love that stuff!). We added the hot pasta stirred it all together with about 1/2 cup of grated parm. Opened up a nice glass of chardonnay, left over from the wedding reception, and dinner was on the table, in minutes.

artichokes_pasta_jenn_eating.jpg

We both really loved it. I think the main reason why is because the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and we used a super good quality parmesan. Without these, this dish would have been just okay, but because these were perfect, this dish was heavenly and has me craving pasta again! Time to make pesto!

roberto-and-spaghetti-friend.jpg

artichokes_pasta_on-spoon.jpg

Finest Foodies Friday: Readers Choice

foodie-blogroll1.gif

Another Finest Foodies Friday, already? I really feel like I just did one! That must mean this week is going by really fast and I can’t complain because that means it is Friday and the weekend is here! I hope you all enjoy yours.

For those of you not familiar with FFF it is a weekly event, where we showcase favorite blogs from The Foodie Blogroll. It is a way to share and discover all the wealth of food information we have at our fingertips with The Foodie Blogroll, the fastest growing blogroll for food bloggers. The only requirement to be featured here is to be a member of The Foodie Blogroll and that you are displaying The Foodie Blogroll icon on your page.

If you are not yet a member, but you have a food blog and would like to join, please click here.
If you have a favorite foodblog on The Foodie Blogroll, that you would like to be featured here, please join us over on The Forum, and post your favorite foodblogs here.

A word to the wise, if you are listed on The Foodie Blogroll as being a member, but I come to your page to feature you on FFF and the code is not there, I will not be able to feature you in FFF. The point of participating in The Foodie Blogroll and thereby displaying the code, is to help promote each others blogs, if you aren’t doing your part, it makes it hard for us to do ours. There are a few bloggers out there who I had planned to feature, but could not, because you are not displaying the code anymore…you know who you are! ;)

This week I decided that I wanted to learn about some blogs that I am not too familiar with (and some that I am) by featuring some of the nominated blogs from the forum thread. I guess we could call these The Readers Choice Blogs.

First I am going to talk about Jerry, over at Cooking By The Seat of My Pants
I know Jerry from way back – we were novice food bloggers together back in the day, but it has been a while since I have been over to visit him (Sorry, Dude, you know how it is…) but many of you on the forum reminded me about the great blog he has over there, where he talks about his special way of cooking. What is that special way? You guessed it, by the seat of his pants. Jerry says that he never follows recipes and when he tries, he never ends up getting through it! His style of cooking besides winging it is Southern Comfort with a little Asian and Italian thrown in.

Our next suggestion is for Terilynn of The Daily Raw Cafe
She is a mother of five who features raw cuisine on her blog. I have been learning a lot about raw foods since I became a food blogger. There are many blogs out there devoted to this cuisine. Although it is not a diet that fits in with my lifestyle, what I like about it, is there are some really yummy recipe ideas. I have enjoyed the challenge of adding some raw food recipes to our diet. Terilynn’s blog outlines her own discovery of this type of diet after she and her husband were tired of eating two different ways. They wanted a new way of eating that they could both feel good about and this blog is the story of their journey.

Another one of my favorites, as well as a nominee, is Cara from Cara’s Cravings
What I love about Cara’s blog is she is always upping the ante for herself. She is always striving to improve on her cooking and baking skills by trying new things. Her recipes are always unique, usually comforting and dare I say it, cute, just like Cara herself! Her blog is also very personable, by reading her posts, you always get a feel for the woman behind the apron!

Next is Home GourmetsSuzana‘s blog that hails from Lisboa, Portugal. Suzana is such a creative cook – her dishes always have that wow factor. Whether that is because she has her creative juices really going, or because her photography really captures the yumminess of the dish or sometimes just because the food looks so fresh and healthy you just want to stick a fork into the screen.

Let’s end with another of my favorites, Catherine of The Dish
Be prepared to laugh when you get there. Catherine just has a way about her that makes you chuckle. The first post I read on her blog was about a gay deer that she shot. Yep, you read that right. Don’t ask questions, just get over there! Catherine is so down to earth, even though she could have an inflated ego, because she has been on The Food Network and wins like every cooking contest that exists!

Product Review: Freida’s Garlic Delight

garlicdelightsd.jpg

Recently I was sent another great product to review. I was contacted by Hazel over at Freida’s Inc. about a new, fresh garlic product that is now on the market. Hazel told me that the product is made using all natural ingredients and no preservatives: fresh USA-grown garlic, canola oil, lemon juice and salt — that’s it. It sounded too good to be true, a dream come true product review. Something that sounded great and totally fell into pace with my Mediterranean eating habits. So of course I agreed to sample it.

The package from Frieda’s arrived overnight in a cooler with ice. I recieved the original Freida’s Garlic Delight as well as the chipotle flavor – imagine my delight. Immediately I checked out the ingredients and it was just as Hazel had said – all natural and no preservatives! Each tub is 7 oz. and so my head was just swimming with ideas of what to do with these tubs of garlicky goodness.

garlic-bread-on-dish-and-candle.jpg

This package could not have come at a better time. It arrived the same week that Roberto’s mom arrived here from Rome. So I thought it would be great to get everyone’s opinion of the product. The first thing we did with the original flavor was to make garlic bread – what better, simple way to showcase the flavor of this product? Good garlic bread’s merit is based on the subtle, yet earthy flavor of garlic. When I opened the tub, I was immediately hit with a lovely, sweet and nutty garlic aroma – similar to the smell of roasted garlic. As I dipped my spreader into the container the spread was light and fluffy. All good signs.

iberian-acorn-ham-on-bread1.jpg

Some of us got adventurous and decided to put a piece of prized Iberian Acorn Ham, a lovely gift from Nuria, on top.

I must say I am very pleased with this product. The garlic bread was so good that we decided to try the spread with several other recipes: we put it in hummus, in a dipping sauce for sweet potato fries, as well as the Koftas and Buffalo Wings we made for Movie Night. Everything turned out great.

chipotle-garlic-shrimp-pasta-making.jpg

With the Chipotle flavor we used it as a sauce for a spicy shrimp pasta that we served when my mom was here this weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day. We included her in Movie Night and enjoyed this delicious pasta dish, while watching Into The Wild, a movie that stays with you long after the watching. Similar to garlic, that stays with you long after the tasting.

chipotle-garlic-shrimp-pasta-on-dish.jpg

The chipotle garlic spread was a perfect smoky heat with a great garlic punch. I think it would be delicious as a sauce for fish tacos, in cole slaw, or slathered on hot, fresh corn on the cob!

Each tub comes with a recipe and there are two other great flavors, Sun Dried Tomato and Green Olive, both of which sound wonderful! You can also get other recipe ideas on the Frieda’s Inc. website. I honestly thought when I received this product that it was a great idea, but that I would never really use it myself – I have fresh garlic cloves that I use in nearly everything I cook and I don’t get products that overlap. But after sampling this, I changed my mind. The texture and taste is so good, and it is just so convenient, that I told Roberto I might need to be buying this soon.

If you would like to learn more about the various products that Freida’s Inc. offers, including organic, tropical and latin produce, as well as gift ideas and gourmet foods, please check out their webpage. If you would like to know where you can purchase Frieda’s Inc. products near you, please click here or check the produce section at your grocery store or market.

Movie Night: A New Tradition – Recipes: Olive Cheese Balls, Lentil Koftas, Greek Green Beans and Mango Buffalo Wings

cute_family.jpg

I am all about tradition. Even as a young child, I always enjoyed re-occuring events based on a date, an event, or time. I don’t know what it is about me that just loves a good ritualistic event. Maybe it’s the food. Most likely…Now that I am an adult and getting older and recently married, I have started thinking more about traditions, what they mean to me and what kinds of traditions I want to start for my own family.

When we lived in Vermont, we used to have Roberto’s girls with us every other weekend, and I loved cooking special things when they were there. Especially in anticipation of Movie Night. We would rent a movie and then make fun food, perfect for watching and eating at the same time. Recently Roberto and I decided that we really need to bring back Movie Night – even if only for us. A time to get our jammies on and eat fun foods. We have done this three times so far and it seems to be sticking. We have prepared some really fun finger foods and menus that I want to share in case anyone else has Movie Night and is looking for recipes, or wants to start a Movie Night tradition of their own.

olive_stuffed_parmesan_bites.jpg

So for our first official movie night, a few months ago, we watched Simply Irresistible. I made Lisa’s Olive Stuffed Cheese Ballsand Curried Deviled Eggs. We also mixed Greek Yogurt with Sumac, Za’atar, Sesame Seeds and Olive Oil and scooped it all up with warm whole wheat pita bread. For dessert we had leftover Key lime pie with strawberries that my mom had sent home with us after a visit. It was a great time. The movie, Simply Irresistible is with Sarah Michelle Gellar. A cooking movie where the emotions she puts in her food while she is cooking, affects those who eat it! Really cute film, especially if you are a die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan like we are, and therefore are bound to watch anything that has any of the stars from that show in it for all eternity.

koftas_with-tagine_and_lemon.jpg

The next movie night we had was kind of themed without meaning to be. I had Lentil Koftas with cucumber salad on the menu with a side of Greek style green beans. As we were frying the koftas, I was looking for a plate to put them on, so they would stay warm. Our good friend, Tony had given us a Tagine for a wedding present that he and his partner, Jonathan had carried back with them from a recent trip to Morocco. It had a lid and looked nice, so I decided to use it as a serving platter. Plus I have really been dying to use the Tagine! Don’t worry, I just made Chicken Tagine this weekend – so you will be seeing it in its primary use in a little while!

We ended up getting The Kite Runner as a movie and the theme of the movie really fit well with our menu. The koftas were really great, and I plan on making them again.

greek-grean-beans_ready-to-eat-2.jpg

I have made the green beans for ages and they were a perfect accompaniment. Recipes to follow. The movie was excellent. It is one of those films that you can’t shrug off for several days. I had read the book and felt the adaptation was perfect.

mango-buffalo-wings.jpg

For our third movie night we really wanted to try Elle’s Mango Buffalo Wings from last month’s Royal Foodie Joust.
I love the spicy and vinegar combination of buffalo wings, but I have never made them at home. When Elle entered the contest last month with a mango buffalo wing, I knew I would love it, so I got the ingredients to make them. They were wonderful, the perfect combination of spice and sweet that I adore with that vinegar hot sauce note. However, the movie, I Am Legend was not a big hit. There is a very bad scene in the movie involving an animal and I just couldn’t take it…I am a big wuss when it comes to these kinds of movies.

However, this one bad movie has not deterred us from continuing the tradition of movie night! Join us for movie night and let us know your best creations!
Read the rest of this entry »