Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ode to the "Pumpkin Roll"

I get excited every year for the "pumpkin season."  At the beginning of October I stock up on cans and cans of pumpkin.  I bake, I roast, I puree, I slow cook and I eat and eat and eat PUMPKIN!  Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin butter, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN, PUMPKIN!

Then there is the "dreaded" pumpkin roll. :-(

I am never making the pumpkin roll again. Why?  You don't have to look too closely to see that my pumpkin roll isn't actually a roll.  It is more like layers of pumpkin cake glued together with thick rich frosting.  Oh sure, the taste is delightful (that is if you aren't sick of pumpkin) but isn't the point of a pumpkin roll,  is that it actually be a roll?

If your pumpkin roll looks good enough to serve to the President of the United States, like my friend Mary's pumpkin roll looks, then sure you are in for a lifetime of pumpkin rolls. I mean why not.  If your pumpkin roll looks like a work of art, then heck, you might as well serve it all year long.  I don't think anybody would raise an eyebrow if Mary showed up at a Fourth of July picnic with her pumpkin roll!  While I am on the subject of Mary from One Perfect Bite, go take a look at this Pot Roast.  Get ready to shake your head is AMAZEMENT!

On the other hand, I would probably get a few snickers and giggles on why the heck I was showing up to a Fourth of July picnic with a pumpkin roll?  Here have a piece.

There will be no pumpkin pie for this girl on Thanksgiving.  There will be pumpkin pie on the dessert table, but none for me.  I happen to have first hand knowledge that there will be a Chocolate Truffle Cake which sounds like a wonderful sweet ending to a much anticipated "family" get together.

Guess who is coming home?  WE CAN NOT WAIT!  Andy is more excited to have a decent meal other than frozen food which is what he feeds himself day in day out. 

Happy Thanksgiving EVERYBODY!

(PS The Pumpkin Roll recipe can be found here)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Move Over T.G.I. Friday’s® There Is A New Green Bean In Town

Have you ever had T.G.I. Friday’s® Green Bean Fries? Did you like them? I guess as far as appetizers go, I would give them a 2 out 4 stars. Let's face it; anything deep fried with cold beer hits the spot.

What if you could bring the garden freshness of green beans to you very own "happy hour" with 1/4 of the fat but twice the flavor?

Gin's Happy Hour Baked Green Bean Fries

1/2 pound fresh green beans
2 eggs
1 cup seasoned flour
1 1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 cup light Ranch Dressing
1 teaspoon Sriracha Hot chili Sauce

(1) Place baking pan in oven and preheat to 450 degrees. (2) While oven and pan are preheating place flour in large food storage bag. Place Panko Bread Crumbs in large food storage bag. Mix the two eggs in a bowl. (3) Spray green beans with cooking spray and put in bag with seasoned flour. Shake. (4) Transfer Beans to bowl with eggs and saturate. (5) Move Green Beans to bag with Panko Crumbs and shake to coat. (6) Place green beans on hot baking pan and bake approximately 12 to 18 minutes, or until green beans are crisp and a brilliant brown. (7) Mix Sriracha Chili sauce with ranch dressing. (8) Serve Green Beans with dipping sauce and fresh sliced cucumbers. (9) ENJOY!!

(Note: The key to getting these browned and crisp is the heated baking pan.)

There is good news and bad news for Gin's Happy Hour Baked Green Bean Fries.

I am going to give you the good news first. This is a healthy inspired appetizer with a big dose of delicious flavor. I will give you a personal guarantee that you won't miss the fat or the calories. I also guarantee that your guests will rave and want your "secret" to such light satisfying appetizer.

Now, here comes the bad news. These little gems are time consuming. They are best served directly from the oven while they are crisp and piping hot. They might not be worth the effort for a "big" get together but are certainly perfect for a small gathering.

I served them to Mr. Crabby Head and guess what?

This is a smile of one happy eater, because Gin's Happy Hour Baked Green Bean Fries  passed his picky palate with flying colors.

This is the sad face of a loyal kitchen companion and willing taste tester because the "darn" vet put an end to his happiness with one quick statement.  "Kramer needs to stick with dog food only."  He also seems a little embarrassed by the fact that I dressed him up in a doggy shirt to keep him warm.

Poor Kramie!
Happy Tuesday EVERYBODY!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Story of the Little Black Dress and Homemade Pickle Salad

The Holidays are fast approaching. Christmas is exactly 44 days away for today!

A theme that seems to resonate through the holidays is the dreaded weight gain. (At least for me!) Let's face it; we are faced with a variety of eats, treats and drinks. The best made "waist watcher" plan goes out the window when you stand front and center of a fabulous holiday buffet table.

Before you know it, that little black dress you bought needs to be a bit bigger!

Oh yes, you can put your tennis shoes on and tack on another mile to your run.

Or you can vow to eat healthy for the days that the treats aren't calling your name.

Gin's Spicy Pickle Salad

1 pound salad cucumbers, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 Daikon Radish, sliced
1 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
 piece 2 inch fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Fresh chopped cilantro

(1) In medium saucepan combine vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. (2) Pour over vegetable mix and stir. (3) Move to refrigerator and marinate one hour stirring frequently. (4) Drain mix and toss with 1 teaspoon Sesame oil and top with fresh cilantro. (5) Enjoy!

I usually save the liquid and use it has a marinade for chicken, or as a base for homemade salad dressing.  It is savory and full of flavor and lends itself to a variety of uses.

This pickle salad is spicy, filling and can turn a mundane meal into something delectable without all the calories. You could have a little bowl before you head out to your holiday party to take the edge off your hunger.

With that being said, let the Holiday begin! :-)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

From Farm Fresh Eggs to Incredible Fresh Egg Salad

Now this is fusion! Who would have thought that combining rich mayonnaise, tangy mustard, fresh herbs, and tantalizing spices with farm fresh eggs would taste so good?

There is nothing not to love about farm fresh eggs. When I say "fresh" I mean FRESH. Most times you will be purchasing eggs that the chicken just gifted the farmer with that very morning. How much fresher do you want than that?

You will notice a difference right away in the quality of the eggs. The yolk is a brilliant shade of yellow that you will never get in store bought eggs. The taste of farm fresh eggs is extraordinarily rich, savory and frankly way more tasty. And yes, they are a little bit more expensive but you are paying for the highest of quality. A side benefit not to be lost in the farm fresh egg's deliciousness, is that you will be supporting local farmers and their families. It doesn't get much better than that!

Or does it? Yes it gets much better when you transform your fresh eggs into distinctive egg salad.

Gin's Egg Salad

8 eggs

6 Tablespoons mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 Tablespoon fresh chives

1 Table Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Johnny's Great Caesar Garlic Spread & Seasoning

(Note: I use an egg cooker and have perfectly cooked eggs every single time whether I am looking for hard or soft boiled.) (Note: Johnnys Great Caesar Garlic Spread & Seasoning was the missing ingredient to my egg salad. It really racks up the flavor to a delectable knotch of YUMMINESS)

(1) Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Cover pan and bring to a boil then remove pan from heat. (2) Let pan sit 1o minutes then drain water and cover eggs with cold water and ice. (3) When cool, peel eggs under running water and transfer to a bowl. Chop eggs with pastry blender or a fork. (4) Stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. (5) ENJOY!!

An egg is a pretty good bang for your nutritional buck. A medium egg will cost you approximately 60 calories and 4 grams of fat. It is a powerhouse as far as protein, vitamins and minerals go.

Mr. Crabby Head would sooner starve than eat egg salad.

Don't let this happy face fool you. This man has a palate that would put any "picky eater" to shame! He is a meat and potato guy. I have thought about sending him to my friend Dave over at My Year on the Grill because he might be better off learning to cook for himself!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Holidays courtesy of Johnny's Great Caesar Garlic Spread & Seasoning

I would like to say a big "Thank You" to MaryBeth from Dunkin Cooking the Semi-Homemade Way for the Johnny's Great Caesar Garlic Spread & Seasoning that I had the incredible opportunity to win!

When my package arrived I eagerly opened it and and got a whiff of Johnny's Great Caesar Garlic Spread & Seasoning and knew I was in for a treat. The seasoning smells delicate but rich in flavor. There is no doubt the seasoning is created using the highest quality ingredients that delivers a taste experience that will have you stocking up your spice cabinet.

On the back of the bottle there are recipes for bread, prawns, dressing, and dip. My brain immediately started going through it's virtual cookbook to see where Johnny's Great Caesar Garlic Spread & Seasoning would make a good recipe so much better. I can see that this seasoning would complement a wide variety of dishes from meats and breads to soups and salads. It has the normal uses that you would think of; like a dash on bread or a sprinkle in sour cream for a flavorful dip, but my culinary curiosity is going so much deeper than those uses.

I can see it in egg salad, mingled in a fish dish, added to my chicken and garlic stew, as a marinade for Mozzarella Balls and so on. . . . . . . . . .

Probably the best thing next to the extraordinary flavor of the seasoning is that there are no calories, no fat and very little sodium. That is what I call a bang for your taste buck!

Since we are getting closer to that magical "day" (50 days) but hey who is counting, you might head over to Johnny's website and check out their incredible gift packs. I for one would be extremely happy to receive one as a gift. Would someone please pass that on to my Husband??

Happy Holidays EVERYBODY and have a wonderful week!