Friday, November 29, 2013

Foodie Penpal REVEAL day!!

Hello Friends!

Remember I told you about the Foodie Pen Pals?  Well, FYI... I found it (through Pinterest) but it is on the blog of Lindsay - The Lean Green Bean.  Check out her blog!

Today is the day!  I can reveal what Nancy from Wisconsin sent to me!! I was super excited to open my box and see what treasures were in store for me, and honestly - I'm thrilled!! 

My box contained:
1.  Maple Peppercorn Mustard
2. Asian Nut Butter
3. Co-op Hot Sauce
4. Bacon Toffee
5. Chocolate covered cherries
6. Red Baby Rice Popcorn

Note:  Bacon Toffee IS open... Dave got to it!
And.... many recipes and items from around where Nancy lives as well as a edible Madison magazine.  I LOVED that Nancy included things from where she lives so I can get to see a bit of Madison Wisconsin here in NY! 

Let me tell you about what I tasted!

Maple Peppercorn Mustard - What a tangy spicy get a hint of sweet, but then the peppercorns hit your tongue... So delicious!  I've had it on a ham sandwich..and I've used it as a marinade on my pork chops.  This was a fantastic find and I can't wait to use more!  This would be fantastic in a vinaigrette too!!

Asian Jazzy Nut Butter - This has your classic peanut butter taste at the first split second...but then - all the spices...turmeric, cumin, cayenne... blasts in your mouth for such an interesting flavor!  I don't eat peanut better often.. like maybe twice a year... but this.... This has kick, it has depth.. it has texture and flavor depth.. This has transformed the peanut butter experience for me!!  I'm so happy!!

Co-op Hot Sauce - Who doesn't like a hot sauce?  I'm a spicy girl, so I loved this!  Even as simple as a few dashes on some scrambled eggs...  Yum.  Yum.  Wings are next!!

Bacon Toffee - It didn't last past the first hour of it being in the house!  It definitely smelled like bacon and tasted like bacon initially - and then the sweetness of the toffee comes in and cuts the salty of the bacon.  Having never had it before, I wasn't sure what to expect ... but it is something I'd absolutely have again!

Chocolate covered cherries - delicious!!  I have a thing for cherries, so adding chocolate to them - YUM!

Red Baby Rice Popcorn - Now, regretfully - one of the things I was looking forward to having the most - I never got to taste.  Guess who did...??????
Yup.  That's the Red Baby Rice Popcorn all over the dog bed...
and the sofa...and the floor.
Some one snatched it off the table and had a field day... Not sure which one, but I have my suspicions!
Pay no attention to the devil eyes...
They knew I was so mad, they put themselves to bed!
Delilah is just chilling out watching me clean up... Notice Sampson (whom I believe the guilty party is) has his head down... Tell-tale sign right there!

Well, I'm going to order me some Red Baby Rice Popcorn from online and try it out ... and its coming out of the Dog Treats budget!

It was a great box to get - and I can't wait to try some of the recipes that Nancy sent me.  I'm so happy I found the Foodie Pen Pal ... Hey - if you have any suggestions on what to add to a box...Let me know!! 

In December - they don't do a foodie box in and ask that you donate what you'd spend on the box to charity... So I'll be donating to Island Harvest - one of the largest Hunger Relief organizations on Long Island.  If you can.. whether it is $1 or $10 ... It will help.  Check out their site here...  Island Harvest.

Hope you've had a wonderful Thanksgiving...and are thankful for all you have around you.  I'm thankful... too much to list... but I am thankful!

Until Next Time...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Who could say no to a 16 oz Kobe Beef meatball?

Not me!!

Hello Friends!

So I want to tell you about a lovely experience I had on Friday Night.  My Friend Coreen and I had decided to go to dinner and a see movie...we ended up seeing Last Vegas at the Multiplex in Farmingdale (which was a very funny, light movie...Just what I needed!).  

We decided to meet earlier for dinner and here is the story of our little culinary adventure at Trento - Italian American Retro.  A new restaurant that colleague of mine had gone to Trento and she recommended the meatball so I knew I had to try that!  I suggested it to Coreen as it is very close to the theater and I knew she'd be game to try a new place with me!

We were there early - 5:45pm on a Friday night. After looking through the menu, Coreen and I decided to share some we both love trying new places, experiencing new flavors and enjoying what hoped to be a really good meal.    

To our table comes Carmela, our waitress.  She was such an energetic, professional young lady and was very informed on the menu.  We mentioned a few dishes we wanted to share and she was right in there with the why's we should absolutely do that and some great recommendations!

So we ordered for our first course... as Carmela described it, "a 16 oz Kobe Beef Meatball with a gorgeous sauce and a dehydrated ricotta on top".  

While we'd normally not have the two come out at the same time, due to time, we also ordered the Troffolini... "little purse like filled pasta with ricotta cheese and pear in a light truffle cream sauce".

In the back..that's still 1/2 of the freaking Meatball
(which was just as delicious and tender the next day!)...
And note what looks like shaved parm on the pasta... Nope!!
So, our dishes came to the table and Carmela jumped right in there and had separate dishes and served both Coreen and my self a little of each dish... Great service!!  Carmela then asked if we wanted some fresh cheese for the pasta.  I looked a bit quizzically at her (seeing on the dish some shaved Parm...but you all know I never say no to more cheese...) and said yes.  It wasn't until I actually took a bite that I realized what that cheese impostor was... thinly shaved pear!

But I digress... my first bite was the Meatball....a bit of the meat, some of the sauce and a touch of the ricotta - collecting the perfect bite.  Folks, you can just put it all in your mouth and it practically melts away!  I've never had such a tender more flavorful meatball!  The sauce was deliciously sweet but the ricotta's texture completely complimented each element of the dish.  I don't know how anyone can go to Trento and NOT order the Meatball...It is seriously that good...and yes, I dare say - the best I've ever had!

On recommendation from Coreen, she said "Just put one whole purse in your mouth - don't cut it...just eat"... so I followed suit. I built a 'perfect bite' of some sauce, the pasta and a shaving of that pear and boom!  I swear I had to close my eyes and just savor what was going on in my mouth...the pasta was so thin and al-dente... the filling was not too much, but so full of flavor...the sauce was so could taste the bits of pear in the filling but it all just accented the shavings of pear that was on top!  Oh My Goodness.  Sweet but savory and earthy but light as a feather...This was amazing.  This was "I don't want to stop eating it" delicious.  This was "if I didn't have 10 more ounces of meat ball to eat...and an entree coming to boot...I'd eat the whole plate and order another" delicious.  Perfection. 

After all that...(and wrapping up the left over meatball and pasta)... yes..we did have an entree coming out!  We decided to try the Black Sea Bass special... served on a parsnip puree with wilted spinach and a muffaletta olive sauce on top with a hit of tomato oil. The fish was cooked perfectly and was hearty enough to stand up to the flavors of the muffaletta sauce but not over power it.  The spinach was tender and delicate...but along with that parsnip puree - a fabulously delicious and light entree.  I could picture on a cold night, eating a bowl of that parsnip puree and being a very happy girl!  By the time Coreen and I were done, there wasn't a trace of it on the plate at all!!

Perfectly Cooked and Amazingly delicious!

So - my ratings:

Food: A - for our first time there, I was super excited to taste and try.  What I did taste and try was delicious and made me excited to bring Dave there to experience it with me.  Well done!

Price: Moderate - We had one appetizer and two entrees (yes, the pasta was an entree!) along with one cocktail each (yum!!) and the bill came to about 100.00.  For the food we got, I'd pay it again!

Service: A - Carmela was attentive, professional, knowledgeable and energetic.  She has a super "people" personality and it was a pleasure experiencing Trento under her guidance.  She even told the chef how excited we were and he came to the table several times to chat and see how we liked the food.  Well done, Chef Avallone!  I promised to be back with my husband... and we absolutely will!

Yes, friends - Trento is a must!  Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews are 4 stars + and I now know why.  I'm sure as a new restaurant there are kinks and growing pains happening, however we didn't see or experience any of that during our meal.  I do look forward to returning and trying more of this delicious food!

Ok - off to do some pre-Thanksgiving prep...

Until Next Time...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Um.. can we say - RIGHT UP MY ALLEY???

Hi Friends...

How are you all doing this crazy November?  Me? I'm shocked that its nearly Thanksgiving...Nearly Dave and my 3rd Anniversary...and I have to start Christmas Shopping in week and a half!  While I'm married to Mr. Christmas, who wants to decorate already...I hold off the beginning of the Christmas season until December 1st.  I need each holiday to have its own Month!!

So this will be the start of at least three...maybe four blogs in the next two weeks. Of course around Thanksgiving there is a ton of cooking going on...and I'm doing a few of my favorite side dishes for the big day...but more on that in a later blog.

This blog - is about a wonderful discovery I found all because of the "suck-me-into-another-vortex-of-time-wasting-searches-on-my-new-addiction-called-Pinterest".  I'm all over the food and beverage section of Pinterest...I mean, obviously with my affinity for food - that's of course where I'll spend my spare time, when I'm not in a grocery store, specialty store or in my kitchen cooking.  I've found some great recipes...and some great blogs from people posting their recipes. 

But seriously - the most favorite thing that I've found of all time...The Foodie Pen pal.  Yes.  You heard me correctly. FOODIE PEN PAL. Now you get it??  RIGHT UP MY ALLEY!!!!!!!

I stumbled upon a blog through Pinterest and some amazing recipes...and of course stayed on there to look around this amazing blog and get some amazing ideas when I saw the heading "Foodie Pen pal".  Uh.. What?  OK.. I'm in...One click...and a brief glance and I was hooked!  Signed up and then starting thinking, planning, plotting what I was going to send. 

Let me explain a bit.  The blogger collects names of people interested in participating in exchanging food from around the country and connects them with another participant.  The two participants email each other and gets to know each others likes and dislikes, dietary restrictions or allergies...and then by the 15th of the Month - they send out a package of goodies to each other (spending no more than $15!).  Seems "simple" and while it is... It was really hard to think of what to send...  Its challenging, creative and I had a blast participating!  I'm already signed up for next month!!

So, I got paired with Nancy from Wisconsin.  Now I can say I know someone from Wisconsin - a first for me!

Now...I can't tell you what I received from Nancy until November 29th (official Blog Day for Foodie Pen pal)... I can tell you what I chose to send Nancy...and why!

I wanted to encompass something very ... well... New York.  My first thought was a bagel is the IT thing for New York (other than Pizza!) and my favorite bagel is the "Everything Bagel".  So I decided to send some of "Everything" to Nancy.  I made the Everything seasoning and even got some fabulous ideas on how to use it in other recipes.

So, the seasoning is:
3 Tablespoons each of: Poppy Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Dried Onion Flakes, Dried Garlic Flakes
and 1 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt.

Voila!  You can use it on any raw dough to make Everything biscuits or croissants.. You can toss it in with some scrambled eggs or even use with breadcrumbs to top mac and cheese.  I put some on top of my meatloaf the night I made it and it was delic! My next thought is to use it on Pork chops or Chicken as a nice rub before cooking.

I also sent a package of lentils ... If you've been reading my blog, you'll know I discovered lentils recently (No, I don't live under a rock...I just don't pay attention some times!).  Since I was sending some of my "favorites" I decided to include the lentils and the recipe for my Quinoa & Lentil Salad along with it.  I make this just about every other week and love, love, love it!!

Lastly, I decided on one of my favorite snacks... Spiced Snack Mix

Super delicious and flavorful...  Such a simple recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush a baking sheet with vegetable oil.

In a small bowl, mix together:
1 tbs sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
2 - 3 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Then - in a larger bowl whisk 1 large egg white until frothy.  Once that is done mix in your nuts! :)  You'll need 4 cups of nuts - choose what you'd like.  I used almonds, peanuts and cashews.  Also mix in 1 1/2 cups of mini pretzels and 1 1/2 cups of oyster crackers.

Sprinkle in your spice blend and then stir to coat each piece.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake... stirring occasionally until golden brown (about 15 - 20 minutes).  

Really yummy...In fact, I'm snacking on some now!  

Stay tuned ... Nov 29th is reveal day and I can tell you all about what Nancy sent to me!

Until Next Time...