Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pan de Muerto...por Una Gringa

I know its Halloween weekend and everyone is enjoying the last bits of celebration, but I think I really am Latina en mi corazon because I can’t stop thinking about Dia de Los Muertos

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 Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a celebration that occurs on November 2nd in Mexico.  On this day, families honor their family members who have passed away by setting up alters to remember them and visiting their grave sites.  Mexicans don’t just take flowers to the graves, they also give food and gifts.  I know to most gringos this sounds terribly morbid, but according to my Spanish teacher and other Mexicans that I’ve spoken with, the focus is on the good times and the memories, not the death of the person.  I dig it. 

One of the best things about Dia de Los Muertos is the food and Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead) is a keystone.  Pan de Muerto is a sweet yeast bread with a hint of orange flavor and a generous dusting of sugar.  During the weeks preceding Dia de los Muertos, the smell of this delicious bread wafts through Mexican streets throughout the country and each region makes their pan de muerto just a little different from their neighbor.  To add more diversity, every baker shapes the dough into different things (ie: skulls, bones, flowers, animals, or people) and decorates the loaf simply or intricately with sugar so everyone’s pan de muerto is unique. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Food Blogger's Tummy Isn't Invincible, Have A Regroup Smoothie

I'm a foodie and I'm a blogger.  This means I cook, taste, sample, peruse, touch, smell and enjoy a lot of food, sometimes more than I should.  This means that as happy as food makes my stomach, it can also cause my stomach a great deal of anger and pain.  I think most food bloggers hit this point.  A point in which we must must regroup and cleanse the system of sauces, fats, meats, creams and carbs...

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Recently, I've been especially gluttonous in the name of food.  I've eaten fried deliciousness at the NC State Fair and perhaps a whole pig at Restaurant Three's Week O' Bacon...all in a week in the name of my blog and food, but that has consequences.  So this week I've decided to apologize to my stomach and focus on eating as clean as possible.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Praise the Pig: Bacon Week at Restaurant Three

I love bacon.  I really do.

The sweet, smokey, salty, and savory flavors of it dance with my eggs, swim in my black bean soup, and flavors my vegetables (hey, I'm a Southern girl).  So imagine my joy to find out that a restaurant here in Virginia loves bacon (and pork in general) as much as I do

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Open Your Mind, Open the Bag: Fresh Express Recipe Challenge

I'm not going to lie, I usually don't buy bagged lettuce or salad kits.  Why you ask? Because, I've experienced some less than appetizing surprises upon opening the bag, so I much prefer to buy the seperate components of my salad.  

Despite my fear of bagged vegetation, I was excited to be one of the bloggers chosen to receive some coupons to try Fresh Express salad kits as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program.  I know that seems contradictory, but I was eager to creatively showcase Fresh Express salad kits as more than a plain bag of lettuce or spinach.  Furthermore, I wanted to see if a fresh bagged salad was an oxymoron or something that was actually possible since Fresh Express claims to to take "freshness very seriously."  

Before I even touched a leaf, I promised myself that I would keep my recipes as simple possible so that they would be feasible to create after a busy and tiring workday as I'm always striving for quick, easy, yet flavorful meals.  After making this vow to myself, I broke into the bags like a kid on Christmas morning to see what I was working with and was surprised to find crunchy, green lettuce and spinach, chicken with grill marks, cheese that wasn't nuclear orange, and nuts that weren't pulverized.  That's it Fresh Express, rock my world and prove to me that there are quality bagged salad products.

Strawberry Fields Kit

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Haute Candy Apples: Less Drama, More Flavor.

As Halloween nears, I'm sure you're all eating tons of treats.  You know the drill: candy corn, chocolate, peanut butter cups, and candy apples--if it can get stuck in your teeth, you should be eating it.  Of all of the cavity causing things I mentioned, I have a particularly strong love-hate relationship with candy apples.  
Why you ask?  Because all of the glorious candy or caramel falls prey to waxy, chewy apple skin that you endure just to enjoy the coating and then you're stuck with a tart, damn near inedible apple. Lame. 

I decided to fix this problem in two ways.  Step One: Loose the unpalatable apple skin, it stands in between me and my sugar.  Step Two: Jazz it up. I mean isn't a Vosges chocolate covered apple bite more exciting than an apple covered in that creepy red stuff that has peanuts sprinkled on top?  Or how about a Caramel Appletini Pop, that's soaked apples, covered in caramel, with a generous graham cracker dusting, instead of a giant tart apple with not enough caramel?  Hopefully, I've got you thinking a little more about Halloween and tasty treats, all of these years we've been doing it wrong.  Jump on the wagon with me: more apple, even more topping, and maybe even a little booze.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is it Oreos and Milk, or Oreos and Peanut Butter?

Before I even start I just want to say that this post was largely driven by my desire to rid myself of my fear of baking.  But, I also wanted to give a fun twist to a common snack item in our household: Oreo cookies.  Most people (my fiancee included) like Oreo cookies with milk, but there are some oddballs like my friend and I who enjoy them with peanut butter...yep, peanut butter.  Given the split in our household I did the only sensible thing: Make half a dozen Oreo cupcakes, and half a dozen of Peanut Butter Oreo Cookies.

Since I'm new to this baking from scratch business, I lined up my suspects before I started doing anything, it makes me feel in control of the situation:

Okay, I felt a bit overwhelmed with the amount of stuff on my counter, but turning back now!  Step One: Make the batter and take deep breaths.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yeah, I Eat In Parking Lots, Don't Judge...Join.

So I'm sure you're all well aware of the current food truck craze.  From Food Networks "The Great Food Truck Race" to addicts on twitter following their favorite truck in search of their next hit, food trucks are finally getting the respect and attention that they deserve.  Although a norm in other countries and on the west coast of the U.S., the east coast...Washington in particular has a been a bit slow on the uptake.  Luckily this is changing and the district is home to a number of new, innovative, affordable, and delicious yum mobiles.

Since I live in Arlington I have to work a little harder for my fix since most trucks concentrate their deliciousness in Washington proper.  So imagine my glee to find out about DC's Curbside Cookoff, an event that concentrated the areas food trucks in one central location of the city for two days of food, fun, and competition (there was a contest to win the Curby, a prize for the most popular food truck in the city).

I headed there on Thursday evening around 6 after meeting a friend for happy hour at nearby Ceiba.  When I saw the parking lot filled with food trucks my eyes started to glisten! I was salivating at the thought of poutine, tacos, empanadas, BBQ brisket and cupcakes and then...defeat.  One by one, the trucks ran out of food, I was too late.  I left hungry, hurt, and confused but I vowed to return on Friday...and eat. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Drunken Crème Brûlée--A Consolation Prize to Myself

You all probably know by now that I didn't advance to the third round of Project Food Blog Many thanks to everyone who supported me and Fro and a Fork!  I hope you enjoyed my take on the challenges and I also hope that you were able to nose around my blog and find something that appealed to you.

So now that my weekends aren't consumed with PFB challenges and since I felt like I deserved a consolation prize, I decided to try to make something that's been on my to-do list for a while: Crème Brûlée. I love crème brûlée, in fact I think its my favorite dessert.  It's simple, elegant, timeless, and  perfect  because its just sweet enough and not terribly heavy, especially when paired with fresh berries. 

To set my crème brûlée apart for the rest, I decided to make mine using Bailey's Irish Cream.  In the words of my grandmother, this is a "grown folks" dessert!  It was stupid easy to make so I want to show you how I did it--this will definitely impress your friends at your next gathering.  And to answer the burning question that no one wants to ask: Yes, you can taste the Bailey's.

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