Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Zucchini for Dessert?

You know how some people have a sweet tooth, while others have a salty one?  Well, I'm the latter, I love salty foods - pile on the pretzels, popcorn, chips, etc.  So when my mom asked me "what was for dessert?" the other night, I didn't have much of a response.  Ultimately, we ended up snacking on frozen fruit, but I began my search online for sweet, baking recipes.  We don't eat butter, so that limited my search even more, but after a few websites, I hit the jackpot, a Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Bread by the famous Ethiopian chef, Marcus Samuelsson.  The recipe was easy peasy.  I started with two separate bowls, one with dry ingredients, the other with wet ingredients.  In a small bowl, I combined 2 farm fresh brown eggs, 1/4 cup of clover honey, one mashed ripe yellow banana, 15 individually wrapped brown sugar packets which amounted into a 1/2 cup and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  In a larger bowl, I combined 1 & 3/4 cup of all-purpose white flour (a substitution for whole-wheat pastry flour), a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  The strong aroma of the cinnamon wafted through the room.  I sifted the dry ingredients together and then poured the smaller bowl of wet ingredients into the dry ones and whisked them all together, making sure every inch of flour was hidden in the mixture.  Then it came time for the meat (vegetable) of the recipe, I took a fresh medium zucchini and sliced it into quarter-shaped pieces and then into halves, quarters and finally tiny chopped pieces, spooning them into the mix.  The last part of the recipe called for mix-in additions - dried fruit or chocolate chips.  We didn't have chocolate chips, but I added a handful of sticky crimson red Craisins.  I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees and sprayed a loaf-sized pan with non-stick cooking spray and then carefully tipped the bowl over and let the liquidy-mix flow into the pan.  After 50 minutes our house smelled like a bakery.  The bread came out with a browned crust on top, with flecks of green and red from the cranberries and zucchini.  The first bite was sweet, but savory from the zucchini - a perfect combination of a sweet and salty flavor.  The outer crust of the bread was hard with a crunch, but the inside was soft and moist, it broke apart in my hands.

Friday, December 21, 2012

You Say Tomato, I say Tamato

I think it's safe to say that on a cold wintry December day there is one food that everyone can agree on, soup.  A good bowl of soup made of comfort, warmth and delicious taste.  However, on this wintry December day, I was in the mood for soup...but not a hot one, a chilled soup of Tomato Gazpacho.  I searched long and hard on Google for a couple different recipes and finally decided on one from a website called "momswhothink.com".  I perused the recipe once and then got down to business.  I took out three luscious large red tomatoes from the fridge and chopped them into small pieces.  I placed the now tiny chops of tomato into a large bowl.  Each tomato was bursting full of juice.  Then I moved onto the next step, a 1/2 cup of cucumber, I peeled a dark green cucumber, seeded it and then cut it into small chunks and scooped the pieces up into the bowl.  For the next step I cut one medium sized redish-green pepper into small slices and added them to the mix.  The next step of the recipe called for 2 green onions, but...we didn't have those, so I improvised.  I carefully cut one large white onion in half, putting one half in a container to save for later, and dicing the other half into tiny, minuscule pieces to add to the bowl.  Then came the tomato juice, I added two cups of creamy, red tomato juice into the bowl and stirred the ingredients together, as the pieces of vegetables floated on top of the liquid.  Next step, a tablespoon of lemon juice.  Well, in my case, lime juice (we didn't have any lemons), I tipped the spoon into the bowl and mixed the soup together again.  Finally, it was time for the ultimate flavor, the spice.  I took out black pepper, salt and garlic powder - but there was no specific amount of spices to add to the soup, so I twisted and shook the spices onto the soup, with a final mix so all the vegetables would be covered in spice.  Then I covered the soup and let it chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, I scooped a bit into the blender and added the mixture to the bowl of chopped soup.  The soup had a rosey red hue with red, white and green flecks.  My first spoonful had a fresh summer taste.  It was a mixture of the tomato juice and the chunkiness of the vegetables.  The soup was filled with hints of spice, along with the crispness of the cucumber, onion and red pepper, I was able to taste each vegetable in every bite.  "What good is the warmth of summer, without the coldness of winter to give it sweetness" John Steinbeck.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chicken MarsalNAH

I woke up this morning with one thought in my head...dinner.  Now I know that might sound weird, but I can promise you it will make sense as you read through the rest of my post.  I had been asked by my parents to cook dinner tonight and I was ready for the challenge.  Collectively, we chose Chicken Marsala, a favorite meal made of simple ingredients - onions, mushrooms, chicken and Marsala wine.  I carefully sliced a pound and a half of button mushrooms in fourths and placed them in a plastic bowl off to the side.  Then I chopped up one large white onion in half, then half again and finally into small finely chopped pieces.  First, I sautéed the onions until they were translucent, then I added the bowl full of mushrooms and sprinkled some garlic powder, salt, black pepper and onion powder on top to add a little flavor and spice.  I took a large metal spoon and began to turn the vegetables over and over in the pan, making sure every inch was browned.  Then it was time to add the chicken into the sizzling pan.  The pieces looked large and tender, but later I would find out that was anything but true.  The mix of food cooked for about a half hour until it was completely cooked.  I was anxious to bite into my creation as my stomach growled: "feed me, feed me!"  And so that's exactly what I did...well, kind of.  I sliced a piece of chicken and combined it with a forkful of mushrooms and onions.  But to my surprise, the chicken wasn't tender, juicy or flavorful, in fact it tasted a bit like leather (sometimes I snack on those in my free time).  On the other hand, the vegetables were cooked to perfection, with a tiny bite of crunch and a powerful flavor from the spices.  I tried to stomach the chicken, but it was so squishy.  My parents and I looked at each other because we all felt the same way, we laughed and put the chicken back in the package and prepared it to be returned to the store.  We were left with a pot of mushrooms and onions, but for me, a meal of vegetables wasn't going to cut it.  I thought a little about what I wanted, but nothing really sounded appealing, except a food that I haven't eaten in quite some time - pasta.  I boiled a pot of water and put in about a half cup of Cavatappi twisty pasta noodles.  After it cooked I added some garlic powder, salt and pepper and quickly gobbled it up!  It's funny how a favorite food can turn into a disaster and how a simple bowl of pasta can make it all better.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

No Oodles of Soup

Tonight for dinner at my sorority house we were having my all time favorite meal...salmon.  Okay, just kidding, I don't like salmon, or any type of fish for that matter.  I debated throughout the day of an alternative meal I could make for dinner and finally decided on a hearty soup.  And lets be honest, soup is my favorite food.  I pulled out the Vietnamese Pho Noodle soup box from my drawer and the cold package of No Oodles noodles from my fridge.  The original noodles in the soup taste a bit like straw, so I decided to switch them out for the No Oodles pack of noodles.  No Oodles are a new brand of noodles which are zero calorie and gluten free, made from sweet potatoes.  They don't taste like anything plain, but they work for mix-ins with already prepared meals.  I carefully placed the handful of No Oodles onto the bottom of the white plastic Pho soup bowl and cut open the Pho soup spice packets and sprinkled them on top of the new noodles.  Then I moved into my Sorority kitchen I searched for my mystery ingredients.  I started with a small bowl from the kitchen filled with firm tofu and raw broccoli as well as a plate with vegetables from the salad bar - shredded carrots, chopped green peppers, sliced mushrooms and dark green beans.  Tonight my Sorority's kitchen salad bar was going to take on a new meaning.  The ingredients could hardly be contained in the small bowl, as I filled it to the line with water, I had to push the food back into the bowl so it wouldn't fall out.  I placed my "homemade" soup into the microwave for 2 minutes and 30 seconds and out came a steaming hot bowl of flavors.  I spooned the broth into my mouth and was instantly taken aback by how spicy it was, but it mixed well with the other plain vegetables.  The broccoli was soft, the mushrooms were cooked and the peppers burst with crunchiness in my mouth.  The spoonfuls and forkfuls were filled with noodles, vegetables, broth, the flavors were endless.  The noodles, so long and clear were a perfect addition in the bowl of goodness.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Salads for Days

As the semester is coming to an end, I am getting ready to finish out the first half with a bang...(in the sense of food).  This past weekend was extremely busy - there were no eggs on Saturday, so I opted for a bowl of granola for breakfast with some fruit...which was yummy, but when it came time for lunch - I needed a hearty meal.  Myself and a couple of friends decided to take a lunch break at Bloomingfoods, the local co-op healthy grocery by College Mall in Bloomington.  I walked into the store and straight to the salad bar, where my eyes bulged at the delicious choices that were awaiting me.  I took a brown cardboard take-out box and began to fill it with the food that was set out in front of me.  I lined the bottom of the box with 3 tong-fulls of crisp, spring-mix lettuce (a mix of dark green and red leaves).  Then I moved on to the fresh vegetables, where I scooped up a spoonful of shelled, light green edamame beans and sprinkled them over the bed of leaves.  Then two bright redish purple vegetables caught my eye - dark red chopped beets, I put a tiny helping on my salad and light purple seasoned onions which I piled on top of the other ingredients.  I tossed a heaping portion of shredded carrots and sliced red, green and yellow peppers on top of the other vegetables...the box was starting to get heavy as I shifted the weight in between my hands.  Then for protein I went straight to the "deli bar" section of the salad bar where I found my favorite kind - tofu!  I chose a couple pieces of Thai seasoned tofu and placed them around the outer border of the square container of salad and then I saw the tofu tomato sauce gumbo, which looked unreal.  I took a large spoonful and topped it off on top of my salad.  I finished off my masterpiece with many steamed vegetables.  I could not wait to start eating.  I opened the box and dug into a box of flavors.  At first taste I could not stop eating, each bite was better than the next.  The crunch of the leaves and the peppers as they mixed with the firm bites of the tofu.  The saucy gumbo worked well with the pungent flavor of the onions.  I continued to eat, bite after bite, as my food selection got smaller.  10 minutes later, I looked down at the bottom of the cardboard box to see it picked clean and I smiled with a feeling of satisfaction - another great lunch in the city of Bloomington.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thai Tom Yum Yum

It's crazy that my Thanksgiving break has gone by so quickly, I cannot believe it is already over!  Even though this was the first year we had an entire week off, plus two days, it seemed to go by quicker this year than the last.  Tonight for a "farewell" dinner my parents and I were craving Thai Food.  After much research on Yelp and Google, I decided on Thai Pepper, an eatery on Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore, PA.  After studying the menu online, I was anxious to get to the restaurant and order!  At around 7 PM, we headed to the restaurant.  It was chilly in the restaurant because they are sharing the space with another adjacent restaurant.  We were seated promptly - and looked over the menu, although it was different from the one online, I was so hungry it didn't matter.  After a few minutes, we placed an order for appetizers.  I chose the Tom Yum soup, one of my favorites.  The soup came out in a small bowl, steaming hot - equally as hot as the spiciness of the ingredients in the soup.  I picked up my hollow spoon and spooned the broth into my mouth, as my lips tingled from the spiciness of flavors.  The main protein of the soup was three pieces of pink shrimp, cooked to a plump perfection, tender and juicy.  The scallions added bright pops of green dots to the bowl of orangey liquid.  The long brown strips to my surprise were mushrooms, they looked identical to strips of chicken, but tasted very different!  The soft and squishiness of the mushrooms were easy to chew, they added a nice element of surprise to the dish.  After all the individual elements of the soup were eaten, I finished off the bowl of peppery broth as my tastebuds were left in flames.  The mixture of flavors were all so different and distinct, but when combined together they formed a bowl of (tom) yummy goodness.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How I "Roll"

After 3 long but glorious months away at school, I was ready to come home for Thanksgiving break.  I was looking forward to the three f's: family, friends and of course, food!  I was so excited just to eat real food and tonight was no exception.  Since I am one of the firsts of my friends to come home for break, I've been enjoying quality time with my parents.  We decided for their "date" night, plus one we would go out for sushi.  My mom suggested, O-Toro, a Japanese/Tapas restaurant out in Wayne, PA.  We arrived in about 25 minutes and walked into a dark restaurant with filtered red lights that gave it an elegant essence.  The menu was limited, but filled with tasty options.  We started with a spare-rib tapas appetizer.  The spare ribs were cooked to perfection, dark on the outside, with a bit of redness on the inside, glazed in a gingery-hoisin sauce.  The sweetness of the tender meat was finished off with a peppery flavor of Arugula leaves.  The bone of meat was somewhat of a tease, it filled me for a quick couple seconds before the main dishes arrived.  We ordered four different rolls of sushi - a Harvest roll, Mango, Pacific Rim and White Tiger.  The Harvest roll was a white ball of rice filled with avocado, asparagus, cucumber and carrot - simple and fresh, a tasty classic.  The Mango roll was one with orangey-pink salmon, cucumber and avocado with a thin slice of yellow Mango on top - the sweetness of the Mango mixed well with the saltiness of the vegetables.  The Pacific Rim roll was sprinkled on top with a layer of dark green seaweed salad with tiny brown Sesame seeds, the cucumber, shrimp tempura and avocado were squished together in the center.  This roll was full of flavor, especially from the creaminess of the avocado and the crunchiness of the tempura.  The White Tiger was a different type of roll, one that I was not used to.  I am not a big fan of fish, but don't mind it as much in sushi, because the real taste is somewhat hidden.  The White Tiger was a roll filled with spicy Tuna and cucumber, topped with a pale white sea scallop, black tobika (fish eggs) and green jalapeno peppers.  If these rolls were in a Sushi contest - the White Tiger would be at the top, coming in at #1.  The flavors were undeniably the best, the spiciness of the jalapeno peppers left my mouth in a sea of smoke, the cucumbers were crisp.  "It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the [meal we had tonight]".

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Stir-Crazy

I've been to a lot of restaurants in the surrounding college town of Bloomington, Indiana so when my parents told me they were staying in a "bed and breakfast" type place for my Sorority family weekend, I was ready to try something different.  I decided on cooking a meal ourselves rather than going to restaurant because you can always go out to eat, but there are only so many opportunities as a college student to have a home cooked meal.  After a long day filled with a rainy tailgate, we were in the mood for some comfort food - a sizzling hot, spicy stir-fry.  At our "neighborhood" Marsh supermarket on Kinser Pike, we invested in the goods: fresh green stalks of Celery, whole white Mushrooms, bright yellow and red Bell Peppers, translucent bean sprouts, large orange Organic Carrots and frozen Shrimp.  We arrived home in 5 minutes and got right to work.  I chopped the Peppers into tiny pieces, sliced the Mushrooms, cut the Celery into halves and then into smaller chunks, circle-cut the Carrots and peeled the shells off the Shrimp.  One handful at a time, the vegetables were dumped in the pan and flipped over and over again.  Once it was cooked and seasoned, the Shrimp was traded in for the vegetables and they were poured onto a large serving plate.  The Shrimp cooked quickly, as the baby orange pieces rose to the top in the large pan and finally the finished dishes were combined into one, doused in a dressing of Soy Sauce.  I unhooked my chopsticks and anxiously dug into the meal.  The first bite was crunchy and full of flavor.  The vegetables melted in my mouth, as the Garlic-Pepper spice left my mouth full of a zesty spice.  I could not stop eating, this meal tasted like home and it was absolutely delicious.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it and I just finished eating about an hour ago.  A homecooked meal in Bloomington, a dream come true.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Fabulous Feast


This past Friday I had the opportunity to do something very special on campus.  A couple of friends in my Sorority house asked if I was interested in helping to cook a dinner for the organization "Aish" on campus.  The normal hosts of Aish were out of town, but they still wanted to provide students with the weekly Friday night Shabbat dinner, but they needed the help from us, the active members of Aish.  We arrived at the house at 1 and instantly jumped into Challah preparation - the hefty bag of Spelt (non-wheat) Flour was carried up from the downstairs and lifted onto the counter, along with the other ingredients.  We cracked eggs, poured Spelt flour, dripped honey, sprinkled salt, scooped dry yeast, drizzled vegetable oil and began to mix the ingredients in a large bowl.  After kneading the Challah with our hands, we let it sit for about 2 hours so it had time to rise.
Next, came the "Thai Slaw" salad.  This is one of my favorite salads because of the sweet and salty tastes from the dressing combined with the crunchiness of the cabbage, cucumbers and leaves of Cilantro.  The rainbow array of cabbage was placed on the bottom of a large purple bowl, it was used as a base for the remainder of the salad.  Then we chopped up long green English Cucumbers and tossed them into the mix of cabbage.  I sneakily munched on the leftover pieces of Cucumber while no one was looking.  Then it was time for dressing preparation; Olive Oil, Rice Wine Vinegar, Soy Sauce and Sesame seeds.  Then I slowly drizzled the dressing over the salad.  In an effort to spread it out throughout the entire bowl, I took the large salad tongs and scooped the cabbage from the bottom up, so every last piece was dressed.
For a crowd pleaser salad, we decided on a corn, avocado and tomato salad.  About 20 miniature cobbs of corn were lined up in a tin-foil container and placed in the oven to defrost.  As the corn was softening in the oven, I took on the liberty of slicing the tomatoes.  Tomatoes are a difficult vegetable to cut and I struggled a bit as the juice poured out from the inside.  After the four tomatoes were cut, the corn was taken out of the oven.  I cut the kernels off the ears of corn and spooned both the tomatoes and corn into the large container.  And it was time for the last ingredient...avocado!  The brown and green circular vegetables were sliced in half and cut into small chunks for the salad.  The bright yellow, red and green colors of the vegetables made the salad a sight to see.  The salad was covered in a lime juice, salt & pepper dressing with a drop of olive oil.
Although it was a tiring day, the long hours of preparation were worth every second.  I love to cook and this was the perfect opportunity.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sweetgrassy Greens

Today I was invited to lunch by my friend and her parents who are in town visiting for the weekend.  They were interested in trying out new restaurants, and it just so happened that Sweetgrass was next on the list.  I've been to Sweetgrass once before, for dinner, but have never been there for lunch so I was ready to join them on a new adventure.  Sweetgrass is a restaurant located by the Bloomington Hospital on West Patterson Drive.  From central campus, it took us about 10 minutes to get there.  As we walked into the restaurant, the burnt smell of the home-made buns and the strong odor of steak wafted through the air.  The menu was designed with a southern-home cookin' style.  Some items on the menu were fried green tomatoes, fish tacos and the ultimate "Hoosier Daddy Burger" (one I recommend for all "Hoosier Daddy's") .  I decided to play it simple this time and order the "Seabrooke Revival" salad with grilled chicken.  My stomach grumbled as I awaited my meal.  Out came a large white plate covered in dark green spinach leaves, topped with crisp cucumbers, split red grapes, a couple specks of creamy white goat cheese, miniature tan sesame seeds, sliced white onions and a heaping amount of grilled chicken.  Before my first bite, I sliced the long, lean pieces of grilled chicken in half and then dug in.  In one bite, I was able to taste the soft spinach leaves mixed with the burst of sweetness from the grapes, a small slice of chicken and the crunch from the cucumbers and onions.  The flavors were a match made in heaven.  I continued to take bite after bite, each time revealing another ingredient.  The chicken was cooked to perfection and the bed of salad was absolutely delicious.  After today, I am a Sweetgrass girl, all the way.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mix it Up

As I opened the cereal cupboard in the kitchen of my Sorority house, my eyes scanned the top shelf, as I looked for my Rice Chex cereal.  I wanted to make something different, a fun food invention.  After seeing a couple of my Sorority sisters create these crazy colored, deliciously filled bags of homemade trail mix, I decided it was my turn.  I pulled out the box of cereal, measured a cup of Chex and dumped it into a small zip-loc baggy.  Then I added in a handful of dark red sticky Craisins and shook the bag, shuffling the food up and down.  Even with just two ingredients, this snack looked salty and sweet and ready to eat, but I could not stop there.  I waterfall-dropped some Almonds in the bag and again shook it up and down.  I returned to my room to finish off my creation, I rummaged in my food drawer until I found my last bag of freeze-dried fruit.  I tore the bag open and dumped in the freeze-dried strawberries and bananas.  The mix looked complete.  The colorful array of the burgundy Craisins, the bright redish-pink strawberries and the soft earth tones of the Chex cereal, the bananas and almonds.  My first bite was full of crunch of the Chex, mixed with a soft, squishy after bite from the Craisins.  The strawberries and bananas melted in my mouth, as I went back for a second bite.  There's something to be said about playing with your food when you're over the age of a toddler...but I'm not embarrassed to say, I play with my food and I have fun.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bloomington Food Girl


I was expecting today to be a normal, run-of-the-mill type day, filled with the 11:30 brunch from my sorority and lounging around the house, doing work and watching TV.  After coming back from a little walk around campus, I noticed the UPS truck in the distance, for I was expecting a package.  However, that package was not something that could have fit in a box.  As I strolled into the parking lot of my sorority house, I was heading for the front door when to my surprise, my parents stepped out from behind one of the cars.  I was shocked in more ways that I can describe, it was the perfect surprise.  I was excited and anxious to take them around the town.  Our adventurous day, today began at 12 PM noon when we drove out to check out the local Bloomington Farmers Market right behind the Smallwood Apartments, on College Ave.  There were enormous amounts of Golden Delicious apples, McIntosh apples, bright green beans, snap peas and freshly picked Bell Peppers.  My Dad and I decided on the “tie-dye” Bell Peppers and a carton of McIntosh apples.  My stomach grumbled as I reached for a juicy redish-pink apple, the first bite was crunchy and the sweetness of flavor filled my entire mouth.  I finished it in about 5 bites, but my stomach continued to grumble.  As we left the farmers market, we walked over to the local Co-Op Bloomingfoods, very similar to my favorite grocery store, Whole Foods.  I did a full circle around the “salad-bar, hot-bar”, carefully eyeing each individual dish.  I took a brown “to-go” box and filled the bottom with a bed of spring mix, a couple large slices of cucumber, a spoonful of baby cherry tomatoes, pickled bright red onions, sautéed Szechuan Tempeh and Kale, ginger-spiced Tofu and a little bit of Curried vegetables.  The mixture of foods meshed well together.  The spiciness of Szechuan flavor from the Tempeh, the lasting spice from the Curry sauce, the burst of the cherry tomatoes, the flavors just could not be beat.  Each bite had a different taste making my creation that much more enjoyable.  Our foodie day was delicious, fresh and local.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Hot Pot

It's been a while since my last blog, but I'm back and ready to give your tastebuds a joy ride.  Tonight, my friend and I decided to try Siam House, a restaurant on the ethnic 4th Street, right behind Kirkwood.  We were starving, but the restaurant was extremely crowded, so we decided to sit outside on the patio.  There was a nice breeze and a sparkling ambiance of being outdoors.  I was craving Thai food, but not your typical Pad Thai or Curry dish.  I chose the Seafood Speciality called Goong Ob Woon-Sen.  It was a clay pot filled thin translucent bean noodles, bright coral-colored cooked shrimp, soft, squishy Shiitake mushrooms and green onions in a soupy ginger-garlic sauce.  The sun had begun to set and the nice breeze had turned into one with a bit of a chill as we anxiously awaited our meals to arrive.  My meal came out steaming hot, the heat from the dish provided me with an instant warmth.  I drizzled a tangy citrus sauce on top of my meal and started with a twisted forkful of the bean thread noodles.  The noodles were thin, but it was a heaping forkful, making them appear to be of a larger thickness.  The mushrooms were soft, the green onions were fresh and crunchy.  Shrimp is one of my favorite foods and these were cooked to perfection.  They were plump and delicious.  The steam from the sauce left my mouth on fire.  I continued to eat, hoping that there would be leftovers...sadly there weren't, but finishing it was completely worth it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Little Tibet

It was 6 o'clock on a Saturday night and I sat in my bed, super hungry.  My day had been a mish-mosh of meals but nothing that was super filling so I was anxiously awaiting a good night's dinner.  We decided on an ethnic restaurant on 4th street, right behind Kirkwood, called Little Tibet.  The restaurant aura was one of a vintage, hippie-retro scene.  I wanted to try an authentic Tibetan dish.  I decided on Phing-Sha, a bean-thread noodle stir-fry with Tofu.  The dish came out steaming hot, the vegetables peaked out from beneath the noodles and the pieces of Tofu were sitting on the sides of the plate, the entire meal was covered in a Tibetan spicy brown sauce.  I started with the chopsticks, but the noodles were sticky, so I switched to a knife and fork.  I cut the noodles into smaller pieces and then switched back to the chopsticks.  I scooped up combination of noodles and half a piece of tofu.  The noodles melted in my mouth, they were so thin, they tasted light and fluffy.  The next bite was filled with vegetables, they were crunchy good-ness.  The sauce was salty but sweet, with a spicy chili garlic aftertaste that left my mouth in flames, begging for water.  This meal was filling but not to the "full" extent, but extremely satisfying, I am excited to go back again!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Make Your Own Pizza...on a Salad!

I am not a big fan of pure carbohydrates.  I prefer the substitute ones: pretzels, popcorn, cereal, etc. rather than an actual piece of bread.  So tonight, when it was time for dinner, I was determined to make a crazy concoction using all the ingredients for "make your own pizza", but...not on a pizza.  I took a large salad bowl and filled it halfway with a previously prepared Greek salad, consisting of a lettuce mix, red radishes and chopped up scallions.  Then I moved over to the actual salad bar, where I added in some darker romaine lettuce, black beans, a little bit a Feta cheese and then the pizza toppings: chopped up juicy tomatoes, caramelized red onions, a couple spoonfuls of sliced mushrooms and miniature pieces of broccoli.  To finish it off, I poured a little bit of tomato sauce on the side of bowl as a make-shift dressing.  I mean hey, I had to finish off the "pizza", right?  My first forkful was a mish-mosh of everything.  It was full of flavor, the tartness of the radish mixed with the garlic-spiced caramelized onions, the sweetness of the tomatoes, the crunch of the black beans and the hearty flavor of the tomato sauce.  The pungent taste of the scallions left my mouth with a minty-like taste, but it quickly disappeared when I took my next bite filled with mushrooms, more onions, tomatoes and little chunks of feta cheese.  My creation of a meal was different and innovative and extremely tasty!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Spice World

Tonight could have easily been classified in my book as the best night ever.  Okay, I take that back, the best meal ever.  As a couple us sat in the kitchen discussing where to go to dinner, people were throwing out different types of restaurants with various types of cuisines, but I had one favorite tucked in the back on my mind...Roots on the Square on the corner of North Walnut, which became the ultimate decision.  I've been sick with a cold for the past week, which has limited my food palate, because everything I eat tastes the same.  I was anxious for a place with flavor and spice, a meal with a kick! 
As we walked into the restaurant I was overjoyed with great memories had here.  I decided on the Panang Curry dish.  As we waited for the meal to come, my stomach growled with a feeling of emptiness.  I could not contain my excitement as my meal was placed in front of me.  Some people get excited about going to a party, I get excited about delicious food.  I started with taking the spring mix lettuce leaves that were surrounding my bowl and placing them into the Curry sauce.  Then I stuck my fork into a dark green piece of zucchini, the bite was crunchy but the softness of the vegetable melted in my mouth.  My mouth was on fire from the Panang spice and as I peered down into my bowl, I noticed the red specks of spice floating around in the Curry sauce.  The carrots, broccoli and mushrooms were all cooked to a perfection and they mixed well with the soft baked triangular shaped pieces of tofu.  To block out part of the spice, I broke the circular scoop of brown rice in half and combined it with the Curry sauce.  This meal has been the best so far in Bloomington, hands down.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Fresh Start

The day had finally arrived, it was move-in day at Indiana University, which meant some serious unpacking and unloading.  After about an hour and a half of unpacking the suitcases from home, it was time to make a dent in the 6 boxes I had stored here over the summer...but they were oh, so daunting, and to top it off, I was famished.  My dad and I got in the car to go out for lunch, we decided on The Laughing Planet on East Kirkwood Ave.  A small, healthy, semi-vegan restaurant filled with locally-grown organic vegetables.  We've been there once before and were anxious to try it again.  I decided on the Steamed Veggies Bowl with baked tofu.  In a matter of 10 minutes, I was presented with my meal, a large bowl of food separated by layers.  The base layer was a heaping portion of steamed brown rice, then came the veggie mix: boiled broccoli, crunchy green snow peas, circular cuts of orange carrots, miniature pieces of celery and green napa cabbage.  There were pieces of baked brown tofu scattered around the sides of the bowl as well as a peanut Curry sauce on the side.  I dipped my fork in the Curry sauce and scooped up the brown rice that was covered in fresh crisp vegetables.  The flavors of the vegetables were so subtle but they mixed well with the sauce.  The tofu was firm on the outside but squishy on the inside.  The meal was extremely satisfying, making it a great start to being back in Bloomington.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Indian Summer

Tonight was my last supper...well, my last supper home this summer.  I leave to fly back to Indiana tomorrow so we took one final night out as a family.  I chose the restaurant Saffron Indian Kitchen on Montgomery Ave. in Bala Cynwyd, PA.  We walked into a small, crowded room and were led to a small table on the left side of restaurant with a view of the outside world.  We ordered a vegetable curry in a brown sauce, chicken Tikka Masala, lamb Roganjosh and Tandoori chicken.  My dish, the vegetable curry was filled with fresh green snap peas, jagged-edged cuts of zucchini and carrots, a single pale white piece of cauliflower, a couple heads of dark green broccoli and a handful of chickpeas all doused in the brown curry sauce.  The spices of the soupy curry were so powerful, each spoonful was filled with a strong, tangy flavor leaving my mouth watering and my taste-buds lingering for more.  After my first helping all I wanted was a second.  I took a piece of bar-b-qued Tandoori chicken and combined it with my curry sauce and vegetables.  The chicken was dry but it mixed perfectly with the liquid-curry sauce.  The lamb Roganjosh was filled with spices of ginger and onion in a creamy plain yogurt and garlic sauce.  The chicken Tikka Masala were pieces of cubed chicken in a tart tomato yogurt sauce.  The four polar opposite dishes meshed very well together.  This has been a foodylicious summer and I am looking forward to the treats waiting for me in Bloomington, IN.  Keep your eyes pealed for the next blog post!


Monday, July 30, 2012

This Soup is Hot...and Sour

About a month and a half ago, my mom and I went shopping at H-Mart, a Korean grocery store and we picked up a few items for our spin on a homemade Hot n' Sour soup - a bottle of Soy Sauce and dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms.  And for the past month and a half, the Soy Sauce has sat in a shelf in the refrigerator and the mushrooms have sat on a cupboard on top of the refrigerator.  Until today, when the magic happened.  It started with a medium size soup pot, then I added four cups of low-sodium Chicken Stock for the broth base.  After the stock began to boil, I sprinkled in some black pepper, two tablespoons of Soy Sauce, a quarter-cup of white Vinegar and two packets of sugar.  I stirred the ingredients around in the pot, as the broth darkened from the spoonfuls of Soy Sauce.  Then, in a separate container, I poured two cups of boiling water and the packet of dried shiitake mushrooms, as they revived themselves and became their original plump, meaty pieces.  I then took the large white firm-rectangle of tofu and cut into half-inch cubes.  On the left side of the stove, the soup continued to cook to a rolling boil as I added the cubes of tofu.  Then I took about a quarter cup of water and mixed in two and a half spoonfuls of corn starch (used to thicken the soup), then I added the corn starch and as a final step, I whisked an egg.  I continued to whisk the egg as I added it into the soup, where it separated out into thin strands of egg and spread throughout the broth.  After the soup continued to cook on a low-heat for about an hour, I decided it was time for the taste test.  A heaping amount of soup was ladled into a clear bowl, as I took the first spoonful, the flavors bursted in my mouth; the bitterness of the Vinegar, the spice of the pepper and the saltiness of the soy sauce.  The squishiness of the tofu melted in my mouth and the mushrooms were soft and easy to chew.  The soup took about an hour to prepare and hour to cook, it was so easy and so worth it.  Who needs to order in when you can just make it at home? #deliciousmeal

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pho Sure

Last night my family took a little road trip downtown to Chinatown, Philadelphia for a Vietnamese dinner.  After doing some research about the true definition of Pho, while reading reviews about different Pho restaurants on Zagat, Urbanspoon and Yelp, we decided on a small "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant called Pho Xe Lua, on the corner of 9th and Race street.  They specialize in big broth noodle bowls called "Pho".  I have been craving a big noodle broth soup for the past week and finally the night was here.  I decided on a bowl of seafood noodle soup.  The large, steaming hot soup came out in a matter of minutes.  The majority of the bowl was filled with a translucent tan salty broth, with a heaping amount of transparent noodles on the bottom of the bowl, as the rest of the soup floated on top with tiny chops of green scallions as well as all different types of seafood like soft red crab, crunchy orange shrimp and even outrageous creatures like purple octopus and squid!  (I gave those pieces to my dad :)). In front of me on the table, there was a plate full of different "add-ins" for the soup, white bean sprouts, basil leaves, circular cuts of bright green jalapeño peppers and a couple halves of juicy green limes.  I dumped a handful of bean sprouts, a couple basil leaves and three jalapeño peppers into my bowl and mixed them around with my soup.  To finish it off, I squirted the half of lime into my soup for a tangy, tart flavor.  I then picked up my large miso soup spoon with my left hand and creamy-white chopsticks in my right hand and dug in.  The spoon had a hollow bottom making it easy to scoop up the broth.  Each spoonful was better than the next, the spices of the chili pepper left a steaming imprint on the roof of my mouth.  The more I ate, the fuller I became, but the soup was soooo delicious, I just wanted to keep eating it.  I kept eating until I felt as though I was about to burst and pushed my still quarter-full bowl back in front of me.  I woke up yesterday dreaming of Pho, I went to bed satisfied and woke up this morning with one thought in my mind, "I have to get to the left-overs before anyone else!"

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Breakfast Club

My all-time favorite breakfast food is cereal, because it's so easy and convenient.  I like all different types of cereal, but my favorite is Special K original because it has a really crisp taste, it stands up in milk, it tastes good with milk or without milk, you could eat it as a snack, and it's a healthy alternative to a heavy-laden breakfast.  I am a big fan of natural cereals, not a huge one of the sugary types.  This morning I combined two Trader Joes cereals: bran flakes and new favorite of mine, puffed wheat cereal.  Both are all-natural.  The bran flakes taste a bit bland, but the puffed wheat have a bit of natural sweetness to them.  Because one measly bowl of plain cereal is not enough, I decided to throw in a handful of plump, juicy blueberries, a couple of bright red cut-up strawberries and a couple slices of ripe yellow banana.  To top it off, I poured a generous amount of skim milk in the bowl as it soaked up the cereal.  I like to scoop up the extra milk with my spoon at the end of my bowl.  I would have to say, this is one of the best bowls of cereal I've ever made.  The ingredients were so fresh and tasty.  The simple sweetness of the strawberries, the soft, mushy flavor of the banana, the slight crunch of the blueberries were a perfect combination with the pair of cereals.  The remaining spoonfuls of milk had a touch of sweetness from the fruit.  It was a delicious breakfast and a great start to my day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Steaming Hot Summer in a Cup

For the past week and a half it has been unbearably hot outside.  It's like we were living in a sauna, but instead of being secluded in a separate room, the hotness was everywhere.  I have been patiently waiting for it to get cooler outside and finally tonight the heat-stroke broke.  The coolness of the air circulated back into the night and I was able to step outside without having to catch my breath from the powerful heat.  Now I'm the type of girl who loves hot food..to pick two of my favorites, sizzling-hot soups and steaming mugs of peach, green, or Cinnamon tea.  However, I haven't really enjoyed eating hot food when the temperature of the food is the same as the temperature outside.  Tonight, with the cooler weather, I decided it was time for a cup of Cinnamon Spice tea, my favorite kind.  I let the tea bags steep in the hot water, with a drop of a natural Agave nectar sweetener and a couple pieces of fresh organic mint leaves from our garden in the backyard.  The flavors intertwined with a freshness from the mint, a spice from the cinnamon and the sweetness of the Agave flavor.  It was a nice change-up from the typical cold drinks I've had the past few nights, the warmness was refreshing, in a different way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grill-tastic

Tonight I was in the mood for something exotic.  I picked a fresh ruby red grapefruit from our fruit bowl and tried to think of a creative way to eat it.  I could peel it like an orange, but I'm not a huge fan of peeling grapefruit...(I'm not sure anyone is), or I could cut it in half and scoop out the triangular sections, but that seemed boring.  And then, a light bulb went off in my head: grill the grapefruit!  I sliced the grapefruit in half and flipped them upside down on the grill, so the peel was facing upwards.  After about 2 minutes, I took a spatula and flipped the grapefruit halves right-side up on a plate to reveal the diagonal burnt grill marks slicing the grapefruit.  I let the halves cool for about 30 minutes and then decided it was time to taste my new creation.  I carefully sliced out each individual triangular piece of grapefruit, grabbed my "grapefruit" spoon with the serrated edge and scooped out piece by piece.  The grapefruit had a mix of savory and sweet flavors.  The sweetness of the juice with each bite of grapefruit and the savory flavor of the after-bite from the crunch of the grill marks.  The grilling helped reveal the hidden taste of the grapefruit, making each bite sweeter rather than its normal tartness.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wok n' Roll

Since I've been home for the summer, I've discovered one of my new favorite foods: home-made stir-fry.  I love to cut up all different types of vegetables and wok them together.  Tofu is usually my protein of choice, sometimes shrimp, but tonight I decided on some chicken tenderloins.  In a separate pan, I grilled the chicken in a marinade of fresh chopped garlic with a splash of soy sauce.  On the other side of the stove, was a large black Wok filled with "c" shaped pieces of green celery, bright orange carrots cut into flat circles, crisp red pepper, chopped white onions, a couple green scallions, sliced Chinese mushrooms and a generous handful of shredded tri-colored cabbage.  I layered the vegetables on top of each other and pushed them around with a large black spatula, determined to cook every little piece.  When the vegetables were done stir-frying, I added the chicken and folded the vegetables on top, combining every ingredient into a finished product. 
I'm known in my house-hold for my kick-ass stir-frys, but this one hits the top of the charts.  Every new stir-fry is better than the next and this one was no exception.  The flavors of fresh garlic infused with soy-sauced chicken, the crunch of the red peppers, the meaty-flavor of the mushrooms and the complimentary taste of onions and scallions were mouth-watering.  As they would say in Chinese, Tas Ti Din Na.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

ObsESSIEd

Last night my friend came over so we could have a girls night and give ourselves manicures.  As I mentioned before in a previous post, I am obsessed with nail polish and always need to have my nails painted.  It was the perfect remedy after a long work-filled week.  I un-zippered my "makeshift" summer nail polish case which contained 6 of my 30+ bottles of my nail polish collection, while my friend emptied out her clear plastic nail polish case as well.  I was so ecstatic to see all of her colors, most of which I recognized from the previous year, but many others that were new, along with glitters and sparkles.  I must say, I really enjoy the popular bright and neon hues of the summer, but I am a huge advocate for dark colors year round.  However, I opted for a baby bluish periwinkle color called "Bikini so Teeny" by Essie.  The color spread easily over my freshly filed nails.  After two coats were applied, I picked up another bottle of nail polish, this time it was full of glitter.  I chose an over-coat called "Shine of the Times" a white-goldish glitter by Essie and applied to the fourth or pArTy nail on both my hands.  The glitter over-coat added an element of shimmer and shine to my already perfectly manicured hand.  I couldn't stop smiling while staring at my nails and am completely ready to add these colors to my collection.

Friday, June 8, 2012

SweetGreens

Today I was psyched to work a 7 hour shift at Whirled Peace frozen yogurt shop, it was a good shift, but a long one indeed.  I was surrounded by frozen yogurt and fruit galore but because I was so busy, I hadn't had a chance to eat during my shift and when it was over I was left absolutely famished!  When I got in the car on the way home, my stomach was growling.  I snacked on a delicious cheese stick and some red juicy grapes, but that was not filling and I was really looking forward to eating a real meal when I got home.  I grabbed a square plastic container and gathered two heaping handfuls of the most tender spring mix lettuce, I made a bed for it on the bottom of the container.  Then I sprinkled toppings of colorful shredded cabbage, tiny chopped red and green peppers, some pieces of a sunset-yellow colored peach, a couple chopped pieces of cucumber, Chinese white bean sprouts, red grapes and paprika-spiced tofu on top.  The mixture of flavors from the sweetness of the grapes, the crunchiness of the peppers, the spice of the tofu and the tartness of peach blended together in harmony. It was so tasty, I ate it naked...with no dressing.  Every forkful subsided the growling in my stomach.  I have to admit it was veggie good.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Do Like Green Eggs & Ham

I was on my way to another excursion in the city of Philadelphia, meeting up with a friend for brunch.  We were going to this cute-sy eatery called Green Eggs & Ham Cafe, on the corner of 13th and Locust Street of center city Philadelphia.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day so we decided to sit outside, plus, the restaurant was extremely crowded.  By the look of the line out the door, I knew it had to be good.  My friend and I decided to split two dishes.  First, an egg-white omelette with chopped rustic red tomatoes, translucent white onions and dark green peppers, with a layer of bright orange cheddar cheese melted on top.  Plus there was a handful of roasted potatoes on the side.  The second dish was a Tabouleh salad with wedged tomatoes, sliced onions, chopped cucumbers and shaved parsley.  The omelette itself was tasty, the cheese was overpowering.  I dug my fork into the omelette reaching for the egg-whites and the other vegetables, trying to push the cheese to the side.  The Tabouleh salad was made of grains.  I scooped up the salad with a piece of tomato and onion, the vegetables crunched in my mouth.  There was a light lemon vinaigrette on top which provided the dish with a tart flavor.  The two dishes were a perfect combination together, the salad was light, the omelette a bit heavy.  Green Eggs & Ham is a great brunch place, I would definitely go back there again.  I do like Green Eggs & Ham, I do like it there, sam I am.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bubblicious

Since my summer break has started, I have been spending part of week in the city of Philadelphia, interning at a non-profit agency.  I really love the city of Philadelphia, it's gorgeous, welcoming and full of adventure.  I feel very independent, being able to take the train downtown and using my new friend Siri, who helps me navigate the streets of Philadelphia.  I feel like such a city girl even though I'm from the suburbs.
Today two friends and I decided to walk around Rittenhouse square, a very exclusive neighborhood in the city of Philadelphia with high-rises, brownstones and good shopping.  We took pictures like tourists, frolicked in the streets and shopped till we dropped.  As the clock struck 1, our stomachs grumbled and we decided to take a quick snack break.  My friends were in the mood for frozen yogurt, so we stopped at Sweet Endings, a self-serve frozen yogurt shop on the corner of 18th and Chestnut street.  To be honest, I am fro-yoed out from my job at Whirled Peace but I was extremely thirsty and wanted a cool refreshment.  I decided to try the infamous Bubble Tea, a blended mixture of flavored tea, milk and tapioca balls.  I looooove tea and milk.  I always put a drop of milk in my hot tea every night.  I chose the Thai flavored tea with skim milk and voilà! a masterpiece drink was created, with a fat neon pink straw.  After first taste, my eyes lit up as the bursts of flavors splashed through my mouth.  The second taste was even better, as my straw scooped up the squishy tapioca ball which I bit into.  I was in awe of this amazing drink.  It was the perfect thirst-quencher.  The sweetness of the tea was blended perfectly with the creaminess of the milk and the tapioca balls.  It's official, I am in love with bubble tea.


Monday, May 14, 2012

The Perfect Summer Salad

This morning I picked up the lone mango in our fruit bowl and cupped it in my hands, it was soft, smushy, ripe and ready to be eaten.  Mango is the ultimate summer fruit.  I decided that I would use it for lunch.  As 12 PM rolled around, I jumped up from my big comfy couch in my den to make lunch.  I decided to make a chicken mango salad, first I peeled the mango with a thin knife (a skill that I picked up at my summer job at Whirled Peace) and sliced up some small pieces, then I filled a medium size bowl with some romaine lettuce, arugula, cut-up bright orange baby carrots, white onions and multi-colored cabbage.  Then I chopped up a piece of char-grilled chicken, left-over from our Mother's Day BBQ and put the chicken and mango into the bowl of lettuce.  For more flavor, I peeled a cheese-stick and ripped the long strands into little pieces.  To finish off the colorful bowl, I scooped a couple spoonfuls of dark red tomato salsa on top of the salad.  My first bite was a combination of romaine, a couple strands of arugula, a bite-size piece of a carrot, a sliver of white onion, cabbage, mango, cheese, chicken and salsa.  The ingredients mixed together perfectly, the sweetness of the mango, the saltiness of the cheese and salsa, the crunch of the chicken and carrots and the sting of the white onion.  I tried to pace myself and eat slowly, but before I knew it, the bowl was empty.  It was a bittersweet feeling that tempted my taste-buds.  Bitter from the fact that I had finished it so quickly, but sweet from the fact that it was a delicious creation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pistachio Green...Nail Polish?


Welcome to eatmytailgate....summer edition!  For the next three and a half months I will be spending it where? About 12 hours from Bloomington, Indiana - as the TV show's title says, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia".  For the past 12 summers of my life, I have been going to overnight camp, so this will be my first summer in my hometown since 2001.  I feel like my summer will be sort of like a Chinese restaurant menu.  One from column A, one from column B.  Because, this summer I will be preoccupied with an internship in the city of Philadelphia, a job at Whirled Peace, a frozen yogurt shop on Restaurant Row located in a trendy part of Philadelphia called Manayunk, as well as taking the dreadful course of Finite Math.  Coming home from IU last week was definitely weird.  I mean, now I don't have a roommate or share my bathroom with a whole floor of dorm-mates.  To readjust to being home, I have been spending a lot of time with my family.  This Thursday my brother is graduating from college.  So today, my mom, brother (feel free to giggle) and I went for the full excursion of a spa day, manis, pedis, massages, the whole shaaaabang.  Now, I am seriously obsessed, like an unhealthy obsession with nail polish, my two favorite brands are Essie and OPI.  Today, I decided on two Essie colors.  For my nails, a pistachio pale green called Da Bush and for my toes a purplish-gray called Master Plan.  I like funky colors, like purples, greens, blues, aquas, oranges, I am known for defying the norm of pinks and reds...when it comes to nail polish.  I plunked my feet in the pedicure tub and had my feet washed, scrubbed with that tickly sponge (you all know what I am talking about), as I squirmed in the chair and had a hot stone massage.  After the polish was on my toes, they were glowing.  I was anxious to see the pistachio color on my nails.  My nails were filed in a round shape and then the polish was applied, the color is absolutely gawgeous.  I am so excited to rock my new colors in my new outfit for my brother's graduation tomorrow.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Getting Back to My Roots


So I have this minor obsession with Roots on the Square in Bloomington.  I mean, who can blame me?  It's just so good, like for real...soooo good.  If you are reading my blog and you haven't been, please finish your read, get up, and go to Roots, it's just on the square a little past Kirkwood.  I was anxious for dinner because my Dad is here to move me out and I wanted to take him somewhere good; I'm a health freak and he's obsessed with the environment, so Roots seemed like the best choice.  He chose a tempeh coconut curry and I chose a sweet and sour tofu dish.  Both plates came out sizzling hot with a large scoop of brown rice on the side.  My dad's was full of earthy-tones, the light green broccoli, burnt-orange carrots, brown mushrooms in a light tan creamy coconut broth.  My platter embodied a rainbow of colors.  The bright colors of the vegetables, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers and broccoli.  My mouth was watering as I bit into my first forkful.  The spiciness of the curry stung my taste-buds as the mix of baked tofu with jagged edge slices of zucchini and carrots erupted in a burst of flavor in my mouth.  To make my meal even better, I grabbed a handful of the spinach leaves, that were meant as a garnish and placed them in my spicy broth.  The added vegetable mixed well with the mushrooms and red peppers.  I sipped on the remaining red broth as the flaming flavor heated up my mouth.  The spice was well worth it as I left the restaurant content with a good feeling of full, not to the point of over-fullness.  I am sad to say goodbye to Roots for the summer, but will be so excited to return to it in the fall.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Keep Calm and Slurp On

In an effort to finish out my meal points for the remainder of the semester, I have eaten in Gresham, and it's been gross, and salads from the C-Store, which are past their prime.  I could not do it anymore.  Today, for my last real day in Bloomington, I decided to give up on trying to finish up my meal points.  A couple friends and I decided to go out for a late lunch to this soup place called Darn Good Soup on the Square in Bloomington.  I have passed this place countless amounts of times and have always wanted to try it.  It just so happened that today was my lucky day!  There were so many delicious options to chose from, Lentil Split Pea, Minestrone, Chicken Tortilla, but the one that caught my eye was Carrot Ginger.  I love carrots and I love ginger, so I figured I would love a mixture of the two.  The soup was a pretty, bright orangey-yellow color, making it look almost too good to eat, but I was not going to let the presentation of the soup stop me from digging in.  The taste of the mush of puréed carrots with ginger was to die for.  It was a sweet and salty combination, each bite creamier than the last.  Some spoonfuls were filled with chunks of shredded crunchy carrots.  Even after I devoured the small Styrofoam cup of soup, the flavors still lingered in my mouth.  I am anxious to find a recipe to make the soup at home and hopeful that it will taste just as good.  Trust the name, this place has Darn Good Soup!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Pepperwich

The start of the weekend at IU can only mean one thing when it comes to eating....the assault of disgusting food to humans from the so-called dining hall which I call Grosshum.  As I approached the entrance, for the third time today, I had a brilliant, beyond brilliant idea.  What about another type of wrap/sandwich/thingamabob.  I had the luxury of going shopping at Kroger the other day and had a fresh, bright yellow pepper sitting in my fridge.  So I decided that I would make an open-faced sandwich using the yellow pepper.  I filled a large salad bowl with tan bean sprouts, dark green skinned cucumbers and bright green jagged sliced juicy pickles, as well as a little condiment cup of yellow mustard.  And for protein, a piece of grilled chicken.  I ripped open the plastic bag containing the pepper and cut it into medium-sized pieces, spread some mustard on the slice, placed half a cucumber slice and pickle on one side, with the other half of cucumber and some bean sprouts on the other.  Then I placed a small piece of chicken on top to finalize my new invention of a meal.  The first bite was unreal.  The burst of sweetness from the pepper was paired perfectly with the tang of the mustard.  The cucumber, pickle and bean sprouts all tasted so different, but so good together.  The chicken molded the entire meal together.  The best part of the meal was how easy it was to make, an accessible although unusual college meal.

Friday, April 20, 2012

California Dreamin' in Bloomington

Same old food, different day.  I was looking forward to my adventurous dinner at Malibu Grill on North Walnut.  I have been there once before, and tonight was a special occasion, two of my friends' birthdays, and we were going out for a night on the town.  I perused the menu, of course looking at the salad selection first...because we all know, I am salad-obsessed!  I settled on the Mediterranean Chicken Salad, with fresh Roma tomatoes.  I am not a huge tomato fan, but I've started eating them a lot more ever since coming to school, they add a juicy burst of flavor to my meals.  The large salad came in an eye-catching redish-orange plate, with a bed of mixed-greens, slices of grilled chicken, a circle of red onions, four tomatoes, three kalamata olives and three cubes of feta cheese.  Although everything was layered on top of each other, it was all separate at the same time, but when I dug into salad, I mixed everything together.  Each bite was a different mixture of taste, some with salty crumbled bits of cheese, others with sweetness from the tomatoes.  Within about ten minutes I had polished off my salad, and the rest of my friends had finished their meals as well.
As we arrived back at the dorms in the Northwest side of campus, dessert was on my mind.  As a last resort, I headed over to Gresham and to my chagrin nothing looked appealing as usual.  My friend suggested to try a green pear.  My experience with pears has not been positive and I have always convinced myself that I didn't like them, but I thought why not.  After the first bite, I was in heaven!  I can't believe how skewed my views of pears were.  My new motto is: when in doubt, try it out!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Curry for the Common Cold

For the past three days I have been cooped up in my room with a bad cold.  Being sick is a really rotten feeling, and I have a bad case of the sniffles.  Over the past couple days, I've struggled with eating because I really haven't been able to taste anything!  I am sooooooo sick of eating soup and dry foods, because everything tastes like cardboard.  I ordered Matzoh Ball soup from IU Hillel's Matzoh Ball Soup hotline, but it was frozen when it came, so I just shoved it in the freezer and decided to save it for tomorrow.  After some consultation with my Mom, I decided to order in from Roots on the Square, a health-food Vegetarian restaurant on the Square in downtown Bloomington (a couple blocks past Kirkwood).  I decided on the Red (mild!) Curry with a heaping portion of brown rice.  The food came in a speedy 30 minutes, and the smell wafted from the bag up the elevator back to my room.  I opened the container of Curry to find a creamy tan coconut broth with baked Tofu and a combination of mixed vegetables.  I took a spoonful of the grainy brown rice and dumped it in my container of Curry.  My first bite was a mixture of the spicy broth (I wouldn't really say it was of mild spice), with a crunch of a jagged edge carrot and a slice of zucchini.  My spoon reached down further into the broth, revealing pieces of yellow baby corn, translucent onions, dark green broccoli, and bright green snow peas.  Bite after bite my taste-buds lingered for more, as I placed the container on my desk to take a break, I found myself reaching for it back within seconds.  It was too good to save, I thought about the possibilities of saving it for tomorrow, and realized it probably wouldn't taste as good after one day of refrigeration.  As I devoured the final spoonful, the last surprise was a steamed piece of basil, that left a strong flavor in my mouth, one of which I could actually taste.

Friday, April 13, 2012

CalciYUM

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were a bore yesterday.  I am sick of the food here at school!!  Especially with the Passover restrictions.  Scrambled egg-whites for breakfast, another C-store salad for lunch, and to top it off, a yummydeliciousbutreallyactuallydisgusting salad from Gresh for dinner.  I had had it with the crappy dorm food and was ready for something different.  Two friends and I decided to go to Red Mango on 10th Street for frozen yogurt.  I've been there once before, but it was earlier in the semester, so I was excited to go again.  The place was packed, I guess everyone was into the fro-yo feeling last night.  I am an original flavor girl, because I like the tart flavor, but feeling adventurous, I tasted the blueberry as well as the a citrus flavored yogurt, I ultimately decided on a generous swirl of original, and a dab of the citrus, which amounted to a perfect blend for any palate.  As the line moved quickly, the brightly colored array of toppings came into a full view, there was a section of fresh fruit (my dream come true), and I piled on a heaping amount of fresh red strawberries, a scoop of tangy pineapple, a spoonful of blueberries, some cut mango, and a couple blackberries.  Then, the frosty white mochi caught my eye.  Mochi is a japanese rice cake (sorry Passover, I had to make an exception) made, pounded into a paste and formed into little circular frozen yogurt toppings, they are my all-time favorite.  I finished it off with a waterfall of almond-slivers.  Anxious to try my masterpiece, I could hardly wait to pay.  Finally, it was time for the taste test...the combination of the tart flavor from the original yogurt, with the sweetness of the pineapple, and ripeness of the mango was to die for.  The mochi was a sticky soft complexion, that mixed perfectly with the tang of the citrus yogurt.  The best spoonful was a mixture of everything, a drop of original and the citrus yogurt, with a couple strawberries, a sliver of a blackberry, pineapple, mango, a blueberry, with a piece of almond and a tiny mochi on top.  I have to say, I was most pleased with this combination of goods, it was the best frozen yogurt bowl I've had in a long time.  It was a healthy influenced bowl of yogurt, that was indulgent in a non-guilty way.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

#PassoverProblems

You know that feeling where you're always hungry?  Where you never really feel full, and your stomach feels empty?  That is how I feel every single day of Passover.  And let me tell you...it's not a pleasant feeling.  In order to prepare myself for the coming week, I signed up for the meal plan at Indiana University's Hillel for the week, gorging myself on food that is K for P, food that I am actually able to eat.  Tonight, during dinner at Hillel, I was glancing at the plates of my friends, trying to figure out what to eat, when this dark green reddish dish caught my eye.  A stuffed green pepper covered in this spicy red sauce.  It looked absolutely delish, but I couldn't really figure out the mystery meat, it looked a bit like Gefilte Fish (and I hatehatehate fish).  Skeptical as I was, I decided to try it anyway because my stomach was grumbling, and was hooked after the first bite, cutting a piece of pepper and pairing it with the saucy meat.  I finished it off within 5 minutes.
However, as I mentioned before, even after my meal...I did not feel full.  So, I looked around the room again for a snack and found myself staring at the little round container of red Horseradish, as the wheels in my brain started to spin with ideas.  I jumped up from the table and ran to the salad bar, where a loaded a cup with broccoli, carrots, and celery (three of my favorite vegetables), and a nice-sized glob of horseradish.  The horseradish was easily spread along the inside of the celery, dipped into by the carrots, and patted on the top of the broccoli heads.  The burst of flame from the spice of the horseradish got me teary eyed...again, but it was totally worth it.  I wouldn't say I felt full, but there was a feeling of satisfaction, which was a true Passover miracle.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Not a Seder to Pass Over

The clock struck 5 - my stomach grumbled.  I wanted to eat, but it was the first night of Passover and the Seder was starting at 6.  I forced myself to be patient and wait, trying to ignore the harmonious smells of the food cooking in the kitchen as their aroma wafted throughout the house.  Finally, after what seemed like forever (less than an hour), the Seder began.  However, food was still a ways off.  We started to read the Haggadah, the book describing the story of Passover, around the table...
Then came the moment I had been waiting for...the Charoset, representing the mud that ancient Israelites used in their pyramids.  It was a dark colored paste of red wine, chopped apples, and chopped walnuts, with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  The sweetness of the ingredients melted in my mouth.  Then came the traditional "Hillel Sandwich", a piece of matzah with Charoset (the sweet), and Horseradish (the bitter).  I was feeling daring, as I scooped a large spoonful of white Horseradish which has a strong fiery taste with a little bit of Charoset.  At first bite, the taste from the Horseradish was so strong that it cleaned out my sinuses.  My eyes began tearing because of the heat.  Although, the white Horseradish was good, I decided on sticking to the red Horseradish, seeing as it was the less-hot version.  After we read through the Hagaddah, the feast began.  We started with Matzoh Ball Soup, which is my favorite, so I could hardly sit still.  The soup had been cooking all day, allowing all the spices and various flavors to settle in, with chopped carrots, tomatoes, celery, chicken, and large matzoh meal balls.  I graciously accepted my large bowl, and slowly sipped the steaming soup.  The matzoh balls were fluffy and light with a soft center.  Then came the remaining dishes.  First was chicken with chives and tiny scallions.  I wanted to try everything, so I took a small piece of chicken and a glob of red horseradish, which I ate with a salad made from carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, orange peppers, and romaine lettuce.  Then came the almighty brisket, which had been slow-cooking in the crock-pot all day.  The dark redish-brown brisket was cooked to perfection.  It was tender, juicy, and served with stewed red and orange peppers, making it twice as good.  I could hardly contain myself, every next bite was better than the rest, if only I could bring this back to school with me.
Finally, came dessert.  A large platter of my favorite fruit, ripe red strawberries, luscious blackberries and blueberries, bright yellow pineapple, mouth-watering watermelon, and fresh cantaloupe.  Then there was a platter of dried fruit with dried apples, pears, plums, apricots, kiwi, prunes, papaya, and mango.  And as always, the actual dessert sweets - flavored chocolates, toffee-covered matzoh, coconut macaroons, and K for P chocolate chip cookies.  To put it simply, this Seder was unreal, it made me feel right at home.  And I must  say, homemade Seders are way better than store-bought ones.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Love at First Bite

Welcome to Chi-City!  I have the pleasure of spending Passover in Buffalo Grove, IL with a friend from school.  I have never been to Chicago (okay, in this case, the suburbs of Chicago) before, and I am so excited to be here.  In order to prepare for the Passover holiday, we have to get rid of all the bread in the house, and replace it with Kosher for Passover (K for P) food.  We had our last carbo-licious meal last night of pasta with mushroom sauce and steamed broccoli and asparagus. 
Today, my friend insisted that she take me to this little local restaurant called Go Roma, very similar to Cosi and Corner Bakery.  We both decided on the Tuscan Salad.  However, I ordered it without the pasta and instead of with roasted chicken.  When the salad came, there were many surprises.  It was a gorgeous bowl filled with fresh spring mix, chopped roasted chicken, sliced cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and green beans!  I for one have never had green beans in a salad, and was anxious to see how they would fit into this combination.  I was hooked after the first zesty bite!  The chicken was cooked perfectly, the roasted red peppers full of spice, and the green beans added an extra crunch.  This salad was delicious, filling, and easy.  Watch out Chi-town, because this foodblogger is about to get cray, K for P style.