Granola Bars

 Hey Kids, let’s make some granola bars! It is super freaking easy! Just toss a few handfuls of things you like together, bind with some melted coconut oil & a smidge of honey, and you’re all set! I’ve been off my cookies lately, but still craving some sweet & fatty things. Enter, the granola bar.

This iteration was: pepitas & cacao nibs tossed in a pan to toast up for a minute. Probably about 3 handfuls of pepitas and one small handful of cacao nibs.

Then toss them with some rolled oats and ground flax seeds, and some chopped up cranberries.

I had some cashew & almond flours, so I tossed in a handful of them, too. Use maybe 1/4 C of coconut oil for all of this. Press it in a pan and let it sit in the frige. 

 Let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour before cutting up. 

Enjoy with some yogurt. Mmm! I wrapped the rest of mine up to snack on throughout the week. Do you have any favorite granola combinations?

Check Splitting

How do you split a bill when going out with friends?


Here are some of my bill splitting scenarios:
If everyone shares all of the dishes, has about the same number of drinks, split it evenly between all attendees.
If everyone pretty much sticks to their own meals, then everyone gets to pay for what they ate. Yes, a marginal amount of math is involved here, but we all have phones with calculators on them. If you heartily dislike calculating down to the penny you can always ask the server for split bills. If you forgot to ask, or they don’t do it for groups, give me the receipt and I’ll portion everyone out accordingly to include meals & tax. I am one efficient bill-splitter. Most restaurants I’ve been to are fine with self-splitting even if it’s on multiple credit cards, so long as you tell them the amounts.
If you ate a goodly portion of someone’s app, toss in a few bucks. My personal take is that if I’m ordering the app, then I’d pay for it all, even if I shared it among friends since I wanted to eat it any way.

So that’s my take on splitting bills. Then again, I like simple math, I have no problem discussing financial matters with my friends.

Albany ShopRite Preview Party

The opening day for Albany’s ShopRite store was this morning. I went earlier in the week to get a peek at what the Albany store’s setup looks like, and left with the impression that it’s a pretty big deal to Albany to have ShopRite here. 

 They had associates passing out samples of food (some good, some not so good), but still. Wow. This was an event.

 Daniel B. came with, and we made a beeline to the Cheese Shop. He was even impressed with their selection (or at least disliked it less than the CoOp’s). 

 Their store made mozzarella was creamy, although I think Roma’s in Latham may just be a bit more tender.


 The ShopRite staff for Albany were all fairly upbeat, but like other ShopRite stores, some are still a bit green when it comes to understanding their products. 

 Beverages!

 They had a curry chicken salad that is unique to the Albany store at their deli area to sample.

 I’m not a chicken salad fan, but the Profussor was all about me getting a shot. 

 Sushi! This was about as good as grocery store sushi ever is. 

 Here’s the Asian hot bar section. They even had fat ribs on there!

 The fried food section. Avoid chicken cordon bleu. It was not so great. 

 But fried shrimp is always good. I’ll be interested to see if their oil stays clean with more turnover.

 Store roasted eye of round. Cooked med-rare and pinky and served with some kind of creamy sauce. 

 The guy slicing it up did an excellent job of thin slices. 

 Healthy schtuff to try. I thought their fruit platters/bowls were a good buy – the entire platter is packed with fruit. So it’s about $20, but it’s a solid several pounds of fruit in there. Daniel B. suggested I get one every now and then to appease Albany John’s head shaking around my poor knife skills.

 They have UNFLAVORED Wensleydale cheese! I’ve been dreaming of this for ages, and other places have said it isn’t made in the US without fruit. I so can’t wait to go back and buy this. 

 Gruyere with those crystalline bits in it! 

 DESSERTS

 Coccadotts is featured as a local bakery within the bakery. After talking with a ShopRite representative, she said that part of the reason they were so excited to work with Coccadotts was because their products would be exclusively available at the Albany ShopRite outside of the Coccadots bakery. 

Internet dramz that may exist aside, Coccadotts can bake one damn fluffy cupcake. The peanut butter cup one was fan-freaking-tastic, and so was the red velvet cupcake. Daniel B refused me a bite of his champagne cupcake (just a nibble!), but said it was also great.

 THEY HAVE ONE OF THESE MAGIC POP MACHINES! They are awesome – 15 calories for a disc as big as your face, and full of brown rice goodness. They’re great as crackers. 

 Aww, happy cake!

Villa Italia is also present in the bakery section. 

 The napoleon was really good. That custard inside was so creamy and smooth.

 Sarada Bernstein, ShopRite’s dietitian for the area also included tahini in a glass jar, specifically for Mr. Fussy. Sarada reached out to me earlier in the year to discuss the nutrition program at ShopRite in Schenectady, and their in-store dietitian (more on that in the near future). 
I brought Daniel B along for the ride when we first met, and (big surprise) he found a nit to pick on, specifically how squicked out he gets about tahini in plastic containers (like the brand on the right). Sarada vowed to find him something in a glass jar, and true to her word, we found it while wandering the aisles in Albany.

ShopRite will pretty much go out of their way to get anything you can think of. It’s pretty sweet. 

 Also sweet was the theater team from SUNY that they had. The kids performed some cute jingles and live ads for ShopRite. All in all, it was a nice way to involve the community. 

Even Jerry was there!

I’m really excited to have ShopRite in the area. It’s a store I grew up with as a kid downstate, and it will add to our often stale grocery store competition up here. Overall, I got a really big sense of community involvement from all of the staff present, and a desire to really make an impact in the community, especially from the nutrition standpoint. 

Hash & Waffles


 My brother-in-law sent me some of the best corned beef hash ever – from Paulina Meat Market in Chicago, IL (where he used to live). Seriously, this is soooo good. Everything is a fine mince – carrots, potatoes, some beef. And it crisps up so well! Goes really well with some waffles, and would be absolutely decadent with a runny egg yolk on top. 

 Here’s what the hash looks like from the tube after it’s been thawed out. 


Minimal ingredients. Just corne dbeef, carrots, potatoes, bacon, and their seasonings. OF DELICIOUSNESS. One of their major spices is pepper, because there’s a definite peppery kick to this, too. 
Ready the cast iron pan, ye scurvy dogs!

While your hash is cooking (I tend to prefer a low & slow searing method so I don’t burn it), you can whip up the Greatest Waffle Recipe Ever. Literally, whip. After mixing most of your ingredients together, you fold in whipped eggwhites at the end for some seriously light and fluffy waffles.
Albany John & I used white whole wheat flour and added an extra half teaspoon of baking powder.
You leave some lumps & bumps in the batter. It’s all good. 

AND THEN YOU GET THIS! Crispy waffle of deliciousness!
And then you eat the best waffles ever with the best hash ever and you are very, very happy! How can you not be happy with a crust like that? Happiness in meat crust form. Which I’m sure I’m not selling, but it is so good, trust me.

….AAAaaand now I have to re-up my supply of corned beef hash since I’ve opened this one up. So worth ordering and having shipped. This is cracktacularly good. 

Passover at DeFazio’s

I was lucky enough to be included in the second end of Passover with Cap 2 Cap & the FUSSYlittleFAMILY at DeFazio’s. Twas a lovely evening filled with great people and great pizza. The Profussor thought the pies may have been a touch on the under done side. Possibly – I just thought it was a bit less poofy than it sometimes is.

Pie #1 was cheese, a very kid-friendly pie.
Pie #2 was Eggplant Florentine. I thought the eggplant wasn’t fried enough & was a bit oily, but otherwise a sold pie. Mmmm. Florentine.
Pie #3 was BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA! My lovey love love of a pie.
Pie #4 was Artichoke Chicken pizza. Mmmm, even the bell peppers didn’t bother me all that much. Their chicken is so good. The specialty pies will set you back about $16.95 each, and DeFazio’s is a cash-only operation that sells only whole pies. So good. SO good.

Carmen’s Cafe

Flan French Toast at Carmen’s Cafe is my new favorite breakfast food in the area. Get it, get it, get it, get it, get it! Three thick and fluffy slices of french toast absolutely drenched in caramelized sugar and… oh. So good. And only $7!
My favorite local social media maven ordered the Cuban eggs ($8.25) with egg whites, and they didn’t add any extra charges for using egg whites. She was happy with this plate. So much food!
Albany John got two sliders (Fritas Cubanas) with plantain chips for $5.50 & a side of chorizo hash. The sliders were cooked well & were on the tough/rubbery side. Probably would skip these next time. The hash wasn’t crispy-style hash, but still enjoyable.
DON’T RESIST THE FLAN FRENCH TOAST! IT IS SO GOOD, AND HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE SOMETHING SLATHERED IN CARAMEL SAUCE???

From Scratch Club Food Swap – April 2012

Food swap, From Scratch Club style! The From Scratch Club is a lovely group of ladies who are all about combining food powers & making the world a better place. Their food swaps are a great way to try some new foods and swap out some of your own stock.

I made whole wheat & semolina pappadelle to swap.
Dough

1.5 C Semolina Flour
1.5 C White Whole Wheat flour
3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg (I just had a bunch of yolks in my fridge, you can also just use 3 eggs)
salt

Olive Oil (1/4 – 1/3 C)

Knead, roll. Slice into thick strips, let dry et voila.
Tables & tables with items on offer for swapping. What I like about this is that you don’t have to go crazy with what you bring to swap. Just bring something you’ve got a lot of, or can make a bunch of. It might be easy for you to make, but other people may have never made it before, or find it more complicated than you do.

I wasn’t sure of what to make for the swap, so I waited until the night before and sought inspiration from my pantry. I wanted something that would keep well at room temp and was fairly easy for me to make. While time consuming, working with dough is something that always seems easy to me. I rolled my dough to the second possible thinnest setting and did a rough/rustic slicing.
So much food!
Christine chatting up the crowd. Thanks for a fun time, ladies!

Ala Shanghai – Spring Love

Spring dinner at Ala Shanghai – they have some new specials on the menu. Beef ribs on the left, and soy beans with pickle on the right. They are both served cold. Lanny brought these out for me to try, and explained that cold beef ribs are how it’s served up in Shanghai. The coldness helps enhance a chewy texture, but they aren’t tough. Mmm, I do like chewy textures.
Pork with Tofu & Capsella soup ($7) to start. Albany John was like “What’s capsella?” And I was like, “A veggie,”. Handily, many ingredients are explained and defined (with pictures, even!) in the menu. Love Ala Shanghai’s soups – so clean & light and well flavored. Tender pork, minced cubes of tofu, and the capsella adds some nice vegetal flavor, but it’s nothing overwhelming. Kind of like spinach, really.
For dinner we split the steamed whole fish with hot peppers ($16). The peppers come in fresh & are dried in the restaurant for a few days before being used in the dish. Loved this dish – perfectly steamed, and lightly flavored with soy sauce. The chili peppers add some definite heat – Lanny warned us a bunch before ordering it that it was one of the spiciest dishes they serve, and when he saw Albany John chomping on peppers (coughing & breaking a sweat) he also mentioned that it wasn’t mandatory to eat… uh… all of the peppers on the plate. Goodness, that man loves his spicy food.

I ate the tail, hehe.
I thought of my Yeh-Yeh when I saw the winter melon with dried shrimp ($11) on the menu. It was so good! The winter melons were the star of the show, and there were so many dried shrimp! Mmm, so good.
Tail, you are mine!
Here, fishy fishy fishy!
And some medlar jelly for dessert. This worked wonders to cool down our mouths after the spicy steamed fish!

Capitol Region Mini Food Tour

My Dad came up for a weekend, so he was taken on a food tour of the area. First stop was Selena’s Cafe in Troy for lunch. Albany John likes this place, and he’s only told me good things – it was definitely a place I’ll visit again. $6.99 for salad bar lunch buffet with soup/mac & cheese! $5.99 if you just want the salad bar.
And the salad bar comes with a bunch of fresh ingredients! We went for a late lunch and they were still replenishing the salad greens and items at the bar. Freshly roasted chicken, ham slices, chickpeas, tons of tomatoes, beets, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, olives… so many veggies! What a great value! Seriously, there is a ton of stuff on their salad bar – tis a great healthy alternative for lunch. There were a bunch of salad dressing offerings as well.

Their mac & cheese was awesome. So rich & creamy. They also had a pot of cream of mushroom soup for the soup of the day. I took a few spoonfuls – so rich and fresh! Equally delicious – I liked how fresh everything was.

We went to Taiwan Noodle for dinner. My dad really liked this place. They were slammed and were apologetic to my dad in Chinese since we came during a rush. Tea was really good (it’s served in large mugs) and we all LOVED the pigs feet appetizer for $4.95. My dad and I couldn’t get over what a great value this was. The feet were sliced and super soft – great tendon & collagen texture. Jiggly, soft, & supple. My dad was saying it’s a great bargain because trying to make this dish at home would be so much work for three people – long cooking times, and the mess to clean up afterward. This was a great portion for the three of us to share. Loved it. Get it. It’s not gross, it’s delicious.
Dad also liked that they served some baby bok choy with the pigs feet. And they’re cooked perfectly – cooked enough to be cooked through, but still have some crunch to the base. Mmmm! Perfect boy choy!

Sorry for the poor exposure – Boiled lettuce in oyster sauce (and some oil). I’m still not sold on this dish. My dad likes it and has made it at home before. Texturally it was alright – the lettuce was wilted but still crunchy. I’d rather have a greener veggie boiled like gai lan, but I guess this is legit Chinese home cooking.
Suppah time! Albany John got the Spicy Noodle with Meat ($4.75). Nicely chewy noodles! Albany John thought it wasn’t that spicy, but I thought it packed a goodly dose of heat. It’s either ground pork or beef (or both)- the menu doesn’t specify, even in Chinese, lol!
My dad got the three mushrooms soup ($5.95) – shiitake, enoki, and straw. Very clean soup. Noodles were also nice & chewy.

Spicy noodles came with a broth on the side. Albany John, heat lover that he is, requested more hot sauces. They gave him two – an oil based one (I think it had ma la peppers in it), and a chili paste. Boy was he red by the time he was done with his noodles!


I had the stewed beef chuck soup ($4.95). OMG, so tender, and even had bits of tendon attached to the beef. Generous portions of beef for a soup. And the broth! So flavorful and yet not greasy! I specifically ordered the chow fun noodles with my soup – these aren’t chow fun noodles, just flat rice noodles. They were nicely chewy, but next time I won’t specify the noodle and just have get those nicely bouncy & chewy long noodles that come with the soup by default. Again, perfect bok choy.

We left stuffed for $30 with tax and tip. How crazy is that for dinner for three people?! I left about 1/3 of my soup behind – couldn’t finish it, so much food! My dad wanted to go back the next day for dinner again. That good. We also hung around after dinner and chatted, and they didn’t even try to push us out (don’t worry, the rush was long over by then!) and kept asking us if we wanted more tea. So nice, I love that this space is being put to good use again!

We went to the Troy Farmers Market for brekkie the next day. Albany John got a tamale from Magdalena’s. He loves their hot sauce and while it had a good dose of heat, it was very flavorful, too.
Dad and I opted for Nighthawks Kitchen. You can see Christian Noe outside cooking while his family and friends take orders. They’ve got a neat setup for how to get orders to him – you should check it out – very ingenious and a good use of space.

I opted for a ham biscuit ($2.50). It’s deliciously smoky ham on a sweet potato biscuit. The biscuit was a bit falling apart, but surprisingly (very) tender and fluffy. Noe, I want this recipe!
Dad opted for an egg sandwich with sausage. I may have been a source of influence on the sausage.

Dinner was DeFazio’ for pizza. We got there when they were busy and ordered the Fra Diavolo pizza – nicely spicy and I could only manage two slices! Woah mama! We also got sides of sausage & meatballs. So good and meaty. Garlic bread was tasty, although there was an ant crawling around the outside of the basket. 😡 It took somewhere around a half hour for everything to come out, which seemed a bit on the long side. We also got sun dried tomato pesto, which was very creamy. The noodles were great – nicely al dente yet tender, and if they weren’t homemade I want to know where I can buy them.

Easter

ShopRite had beef rib roasts on sale for Easter – $4.88/lb with the card (so this 5+ lb roast was <$30)! I got a bunch of groceries delivered to my door using their Shop at Home program, oh man do I love it. I'd ordered a 3 lb roast, but got a 5.5 pounder, so I decided to volunteer it for Easter dinner. And dry roast it. (Thanks for the advice, tweeps!)
Rib roast pre-fridge. I came into ownership of a small humidity controlled wine fridge. I’ve mostly got it stocked with lychee juice & coconut water, so I used the bottom half of it to dry out the roast. Yay, no funky flavors getting picked up! It sat for about 1.5 days before…
Salting. The exterior was dry, so I had to use a touch of oil to coat it was kosher salt. Then I tried using the prime rib recipe from Serious Eats. Low and slow for a few hours until it reaches 120F, rest, then blast at 500F for 15 minutes.

I got it to about 115/120 on my non-instant thermometer. Wrapped it up, then headed to my Mom’s for Easter.
We blasted it in her oven. The exterior looks mighty nice.
BUT EPIC FAIL. IT’S A MEDIUM-WELL (at best) ROASTED BEAST. :< Not the medium rare I was shooting for. So much sadness. Le sigh.

So much room for error:
Too much resting time.
Too much time being blasted in the oven before carving.

Not using an instant thermometer
English heritage coming through for cooking meat

Slightly less grey in the center. Sigh. My Mom was way too nice and kept telling me I did a good job with it, and that it looked very good. Man, talk about a Mother’s love, hunh? The only good aspect of this roast were the crispy bits of fat on the outside. You can never go wrong with crispy fat.

Interestingly enough, most of my mom’s guests were Hindi or vegan/vegetarian, so not too many people other than Albany John & my mom had to suffer through the roast. Although some griping about the grossness of meat was had. And I got to eat some awesome tandoori chicken & egg masala curry. It was a ridiculous amount of food for our group, and so tasty.
My mom made super fluffy mashed potatoes, and some tasty fried chicken wings. Nom! For dessert she made lemon meringue pie – reminded me of what Nana would have made.