Friday, February 27, 2009

Introducing Quaker True Delights Bars

Recently I had an invitation from Foodbuzz to receive samples of Quaker’s True Delights Granola Bars.  I received an assortment of bars in the mail, and waited to try them all before giving my review.

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The bars come in 3 flavors;  Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond, Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry, and Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut. 

Quaker describes them as “made with only premium, delicious ingredients, these granola bars are an indulgent combination of real fruit, whole nuts and dark chocolate, mixed into wholesome honey-drizzled Quaker oats. 

As you can see, there are definitely good sized pieces of dried fruits and nuts.  Dark chocolate…not as much. 

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These granola bars are 140 calories and have 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.  They also have zero grams of trans fat. 

What is my verdict? 

I loved the toasted coconut banana macadamia nut flavor.  Funny, as I am not the biggest fan of banana anything, but this flavor just tasted tropical!  I wasn’t a big fan of the other flavors, but that could be because I don’t really like dried berries and oatmeal together.  (I know, weird huh?)

Overall, I’d say they do taste more decadent than a regular chewy type granola bar, but not decadent enough to satisfy my dessert tooth.  Would I buy them again?  Probably not, as they are a bit pricier ($3.49 for a box of 5) and they are almost to sweet for my usual snack-y tastes, but not sweet enough for when I want a “sweet.” 

Has anyone else tried them?  What do you think?

Back to your regular scheduled blogging, here is the daily picture of Chase.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel – 2005 Vintage

Last week while in Indianapolis, some colleagues and I had the chance to dine at Indy’s renowned St. Elmo Steakhouse.  This place has been a landmark in Indianapolis since 1902.  And rest assured, if you are planning on going to Indianapolis, everyone that has been there will give you the recommendation to go to St. Elmo’s! 

We started the evening with dirty martini’s (blue cheese stuffed olives) before moving on to  a bottle of the Klinker Brick Old Vine Zin.  I thought this would be a good choice, based on the assumption we would probably be eating some red meat (steak) and that a couple of my colleagues were red wine newbies.  I have had this zinfandel several times before, and it never disappoints. 

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I was right.  The 2 gals I shared this with loved it!  I was again amazed that this wine showed so much complexity  with lots of berries and spice.  Furthermore the mouth feel is smooth and lush,(and dare I say chocolate – like?) - which really wowed my friends.   If you are looking for a superb value on a magnificent zinfandel, this one is a must!  It retails for $15-17 and drinks like it is in the $40+ range.

The rest of dinner was fabulous as well.  Filet mignon topped with melted blue cheese crumbles, baked potato (roasted with kosher salt) , sauteed asparagus…it was old school steakhouse perfection! 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meatless Mondays – Mediterranean Hummus Wrap

After spending last week in the midwest for business, it is nice to be back in Arizona, where today it is in the 80’s.  (Does anyone else think of Wham and Boy George when you hear the word “eighties?”)  :)  It also feels nice to be back in the kitchen. 

Today’s take on Meatless Mondays is a simple lunchtime wrap using Mediterranean inspired ingredients. 

First, layout your favorite large tortilla or pita for the “wrap.”  Spread half of it with your favorite homemade or store bought hummus.  Today I used my delicious homemade hummus that was made for snacking over the weekend. 

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(Sprinkled with some red bell peppers)

Next, I layered some grilled eggplant, kalamata olives, and feta cheese.

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All that was left to do is add the spinach and then roll up.

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Mmm…the perfect combination of savory, salty and a hint of sweet from the red bell pepper.  And for a bonus, I got in a few “super foods” with the beans (hummus,) red bell pepper, spinach and healthy fats. 

A wrap is terribly easy to throw together in the morning for a packed lunch.  Instead of my Mediterranean theme, use hummus as your base, and pile on cucumber, sprouts, pepper jack cheese, and tomatoes for a great all veggie filling.  The possibilities are endless for a quick and healthy lunch.  I promise that it will take away the doll drums of the “cold sandwich” lunch. 

I’ll leave you with a photo of Chase.  He was sleeping while I was making lunch, but apparently ready for any opportunity to play!

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Easy Valentine's Lunch or Dinner

Running through some old photos, I came across this picture of our Valentine's Day dinner a few years back when Scott and I were still dating.  I don't think I even knew about food blogs at the time, but wanted to take a picture of our 'heart' pizza.  So, if you are staying in tomorrow, or have children that want to get involved, or just feel like making something cute, try a homemade heart shaped pizza

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(Sorry for the poor photo quality.  Blame it on an old camera and first time photographing food. :) 

We make homemade pizza dough, but this could just as easily be done with Trader Joe's or any of your favorite pizza doughs.  Serve with a great chianti and you're all set.  If you have plans to go out tomorrow night, this would be a fun lunch to celebrate a Saturday Valentine's Day. 

Hope you all have a great Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Easy Weeknight Dinner

Have you seen the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine are flying and Jerry gets first class while Elaine has to ride coach?  Well, if you have, that could really sum up the 5 hour flight home last week from Ft. Lauderdale to Phoenix.  I flew first class, while my husband was stuck back in coach.  I dined on salmon with lemon butter, wine in hand, while he scrummaged through his carry-on for a bag of chips.  While I was being offered chocolate cake and Baileys, he was trying to get a sip of water, that had pressurized in the bottle and exploded on himself and passengers seated next to him.  It was really quite comical...at least from my perspective. 

What does that have to do with an easy weeknight dinner?  Well, in all honesty, I would have rather sat with him in coach.  We couldn't get the person next to him to switch with me, so we ended up flying separately.  Thus, I had a lot of time for reading.  I read 2 magazines and the majority of one book in between dining and sipping wine.  While reading Shape, I noticed fellow blogger, Julie O'Hara of A Mingling of Tastes, had done a story with recipes on citrus fruits.  Not only have I adored many of Julie's recipes off her blog in the past, but we happen to have a lot of citrus fruit around these days.  So, I tore out of few recipes and stuck them in my bag for future possibilities. 

That future possibility came about the next evening.  After doing lot's of laundry and all of those post vacation chores, it was dinner time, and we still didn't have a lot of groceries in the fridge.  I thought of Julie's recipe, and thawed out a couple of frozen tilapia fillets.  We had everything on hand, except the red bell pepper, but nothing a quick trip to the corner store didn't fix. 

The Roasted Fennel and Orange Tilapia came out perfect.  I cooked it a little less than the recipe suggested as I had very thin tilapia fillets.  Very light, and refreshing, this was the perfect "post vacation" aka overindulging, meal.  Cooking up some rice as a side, this whole meal was done in less than 45 minutes. 

Check out this month's issue of Shape magazine for the recipe. 

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Meatless Mondays...Sushi Rolls!

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What?  You say sushi can't be meatless?  Look closely...these are absolutely meatless little bundles of sushi love. 

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It all started last week upon returning from our Florida vacation, I ended up with a nasty head and chest cold.  So sick, that I ended up missing sushi night out with my favorite gals to celebrate my friend, Renee's birthday.  (I have to be really sick  to miss sushi, wine, and girl gossip!)  LOL!  Since I did not go and infect everyone else, I was still craving sushi like mad.  So, after a few days of coughing and sneezing, still being to sick to go out, I took matters into my own hands. 

Homemade Sushi! 

If you've never tried homemade sushi rolls, it is actually much easier than it appears.  Let your imagination be the limit as to the different combinations you can create.  This was an easy meatless meal, with the help of tofu,assorted veggies, including beets (didn't they almost trick you into thinking there was some raw ahi in there!?) we were set to roll.  Literally.  ;-)

So, you ask, what is that yellow stuff around some of those rolls?  It's our latest discovery at the Asian Market, soy paper.  We have had this at a few of our favorite sushi restaurants on various rolls, and finally found it recently in the market.  It is a fun change of pace, with a very light flavor and texture.  Great for making a few rice-less rolls, as it really sticks to whatever you lay on it.   Once, you have your fillings cut and ready to go, lay out a piece of nori (roasted seaweed) or soy paper, and spread with rice, leaving about half and inch, all the way around for edges.  Horizontally on the end closest to you, lay some of your fillings, fish, tofu, veggies, etc.  Then roll it up.  It might take a few for practice to get the hang of it, but the mistakes are just as delicious.

Mmm... after days of coughing and sniffling, a little wasabi was just what the doctor ordered!  I mean really, to me, it's all about the wasabi.  I'm not terribly picky about what's inside the rolls, because let's face it, they are just a vehicle to soak up that wasabi kick! 

Here's a little look at my first round...

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Champagne and sparkling wines go great with sushi, but if sparkling isn't your thing, try either of these white blends;  Conundrum or Evolution as an alternative.  Both are excellent with sushi! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Arugula!

Only in the last couple of years have I grown to love this  rich peppery green known as arugula.  Also called "rocket," this lettuce is high in vitamin C and potassium, but I love it for the unique flavor it adds to pizzas, salads, pastas, etc.  Pair it with goat cheese and/or something sweet and it is absolute bliss!

We enjoy arugula so much, that back in October, the beginning of our growing season in Arizona, I planted 6 little starter bundles.  It has taken a couple of months, daily watering, and lots of primping, but it is now to the point where we can enjoy using it for a couple small salads or ingredient in the dish I made below. 

Since I don't really care for chicken very much, I always need to jazz it up in a way that won't remind me that I'm eating chicken.  Taken from ideas off other blogs and recipes in various magazines, I decided to stuff some chicken breasts with arugula and goat cheese.  And because sherry is a wonderful way to "jazz" up chicken, I threw some of that in for good measure.  The result was fantastic.  Finally, a chicken dish that made me look forward to eating chicken again - soon!

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SHERRIED CHICKEN BREASTS STUFFED WITH GOAT CHEESE AND ARUGULA

Serves 2

2 large chicken breasts (6 oz each)

1 large bunch of arugula (about 4 oz - stems trimmed)

2 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled

1-2 tsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. dry sherry

coarse salt and ground black pepper

balsamic glaze (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

2.  Pound out chicken breasts until about 1/4-1-2 inch thickness.  Season with salt and pepper

3.  Layer a bit of arugula and goat cheese on one half of each breast.  Fold over the other half to cover filling.  Hold together with a toothpick if needed.

4.  In a large nonstick, oven proof skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Cook chicken until golden brown, then turn and cook additional 2-3 minutes (to brown.)

5.  Transfer skillet to oven.  Cook until the chicken is opaque throughout - 10 -12 more minutes. 

 

Speaking of arugula, I came up with the most amazing combination of flavors the other night in this light and lively salad.  The creaminess of the goat cheese and avocado was a tantalizing match to the peppery rocket lettuce and sweet blueberries.  Topped with this sweet and tangy lemon poppyseed salad dressing and it was LOVE!   Really, you all must try this combination, and thank me later.  :-)

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ARUGULA, GOAT CHEESE AND BLUEBERRY SALAD WITH LEMON POPPYSEED DRESSING

Arugula

sliced red onion (optional)

avocado, diced

fresh blueberries

goat cheese

For Dressing:

juice of 1 whole, fresh lemon

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp poppyseeds