Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Foodiness

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

WIAW: What I Ate…in Disney World!!

I’m officially back from Disney World and back into real life (wah.) BUT I have lots and lots of yummy Disney treats to share with you now! (YAY!)

I ate a LOT while I was in WDW, so I’m starting off with the best of all: Disney sweets and treats.

I’m not even going to pretend that I ate healthily while on vacation. I did at times (you’ll see that later), but for the most part I enjoyed myself, right down to the very food I ate. This is pretty evident when you realize that I have about a dozen pictures just of sweets and snacks. And I didn’t even photograph nearly everything I ate, just some of the highlights. (Also, there were times, like when I went to afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian’s Garden Tea Room, that I didn’t feel it was appropriate to keep snapping photo after photo–but don’t worry, it does make an appearance below!)

So, without any further ado, I give you WIAW: Disney Sweets and Treats…

1-Dark-chocolate covered caramel with sea salt from Karamell-Küche in Epcot’s Germany pavilion. See the size of that thing? That’s ALL caramel, covered with *just* enough chocolate. Even I, with my mountain of a sweet tooth, could barely finish the thing!
2-Red velvet cupcake from Contempo Cafe in the Contemporary Resort. This cupcake was recommended to me almost as soon as I walked in the door–how could I say no? But I know what you’re thinking: “Gee, that looks an awful lot like buttercream frosting. But Alex, being the huge red velvet fan you are, you must know you need cream cheese frosting!” Totally agree. Good thing it’s filled with it. 😉 Yup. Heavenly. I ate the whole damn thing.
3-The classic, the quintessential Dole Whip float. So famous that this was my first one ever. Pineapple soft-serve with pineapple juice. Super refreshing!
4-Carrot cake cookie sandwich (two large carrot cake rounds filled with cream cheese frosting) and coffee in Hollywood Studios. Breakfast of champions.

1-Coffee ice cream in a sprinkle- and chocolate-dipped homemade waffle cone from Ghiradelli’s in Downtown Disney. Awesome bus-riding snack!
2-School bread from Epcot’s Norway pavilion: a savory-sweet bread filled with sweet custard and topped with icing and coconut. I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped, unfortunately.
3-Told you afternoon tea would make an appearance. This wasn’t even my dessert, it was Kevin’s, but it was too pretty not to share: pastry filled with vanilla bean mousse…in the shape of a swan! Adorable 🙂
4-And of course, a classic: the Mickey Premium Bar! Your basic vanilla ice cream-dark chocolate shell combo, but the mouse makes it special! He’s posing in front of another classic fave: Space Mountain!

1-Venturing into the treat, away from the sweet momentarily. Chips with chipotle salsa and queso dip from La Cava de Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion. Salty, cheesy, spicy–YUM!
2-What’s a tequila bar without some margaritas?! Aguacate Margarita (Avocado Margarita.) Oddly, tasted banana-y, which was a little weird. Don’t worry, there was extensive menu to taste from! 😉
3-Back to the sweet (cause it’s me): Maple Crème Brûlée from Le Cellier in Epcot’s Canada pavilion. I had this the last time I was in Disney–2 years ago–and have been thinking about it ever since. Hands down the best crème brûlée I’ve ever had.
4-More frozen treats–frozen banana covered in chocolate and peanuts. I had two of these, they were that good. And SO simple–I’m totally making these at home. Also the breakfast of champions.

So, this is the last week of Jen’s awesome WIAW theme of “Summer Staples.” Does Disney food count as a summer staple? I sure think so!

Well, there ya have it, folks. Installment 1 of what I ate in Walt Disney World. Are you drooling yet? If not, no worries–there’s more where that came from!

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Am I the only person in the world who can’t make kale chips?

It’s no secret that I don’t bake. I’m just not good at it. I mean, last Christmas I had a pretty successful cookie-making run, but that was not without help. (In the form of both human and Kitchenaid stand mixer.) But overall, I’m not a baker. I can cook on the stove top, but once that oven turns on, it’s hit or miss for me.

Which is probably why, even though everyone and their mother are making kale chips, I managed to burn them.

Yup. Not even five minutes in the oven and I burned ’em. Just in case anyone needed further proof that I can’t bake.

Now, here’s where you, my lovely readers, come in. I’m going to tell you what I did, and hopefully someone out there will be able to tell me where I went wrong. Because seriously, if kale chips are so hot right now, there must be a reason, and I want in on the secret, dammit!

I am not going to return to burying myself in a bag of potato chips. I will make successful, tasty kale chips!

So, here’s how it went down:

I took roughly half to 3/4 of a bunch of kale, cut off the stems and tore the leaves (leaving the center stems behind.) I laid them out on paper-towel lined baking sheets to dry and covered with more paper towels. After they dried, I tossed them with olive oil, salt and black pepper, then laid them back out on the baking sheets (sans paper towels), sprinkled with a little more salt and pepper, and into the oven they went (Preheated to 375F.) One sheet was on the middle rack, one on the top rack. Five minutes in, both racks were starting to burn.

Before:

After:

Womp.

I was all excited about these, too. When I went to Sickle’s Market with Kevin a couple weeks ago, I saw a big, green bunch of kale sitting there, and I had to have it. I have had kale chips on my radar for quite some time, since they’re popping up on just about every healthy eating blog. I was super-stoked to get such a yummy-looking bunch of kale and share my own chip recipe with you all. (If I was successful, I was even going to try my hand at kale chip nachos!)

Alas…this happened. Though it may be a lot funnier than if I had succeeded, it still bums me out. Plus, my house reeked of burnt kale. The night before a showing. That wasn’t so good.

So, tell me…where did I go wrong??

WIAW: Summer Weekend Eats

Phew! It’s been a very writing-intensive couple of days for me. Between banking articles for work and banking posts for the blog while I’m on vacation, my fingers have been getting quite the typing workout!

So thank goodness What I Ate Wednesday is photo-diary format! (Not that I WON’T write cause, hey, I’m a writer, but at least I get a little bit of a break!)

Now, this month’s WIAW theme is “Summer staples.” (Thanks Jen!) I think a couple of my eats below (see mango, ice cream and shandy) DEFINITELY qualify as summer staples!

I will let you know, though: these are technically weekend eats from two weekends ago, not this past weekend. I got so busy last week (Wednesday in particular) with vacation errands, work and details (like making centerpieces) for my dad’s wedding that I didn’t get a chance to post my summer weekend eats, so I’m sharing them with you all this week!

Saturday:

Breakfast:  McCann’s Irish oatmeal with a teaspoonful of strawberry Chobani and a chopped peach, topped with ground cinnamon and ginger. Mmmm. It was actually kind of a late breakfast, and I ate while watching this really cool guy place second in his prelim heat with Nikki. She was significantly less interested than I was.

[side note]: Is everyone else as sad as I am that the Olympics are over??

Lunch/snack: A cut-up mango and the rest of the strawberry Chobani from breakfast.

Dinner: This one’s got a little bit of story. Kevin and I had decided to cook a good dinner that night, since we were both off and had the time. Then, about 10 minutes after I watched Pistorius race, my power went out for, like, 4-5 hours. So that sort of killed the cooking dinner plan–neither of us wanted to cook in a place with no AC, plus it’s much harder to ignite the stove and we were trying to keep the fridge closed as much as possible. So we decided to go out to dinner.

A few days earlier, I had been cleaning out my room and came across an Olive Garden gift card I got for Christmas. It seemed like a good a time as any to use it.

Is Olive Garden the pinnacle of Italian cuisine? Not in the least. Is it particularly healthy? Not really. Is it fairly quick and cheap and relatively tasty? Yup, especially with a gift card.

So, to Olive Garden we went. We split salad, bread sticks and bruschetta and then I got the shrimp mezzaluna: sautéed shrimp with half-moon shaped cheese ravioli. What you see above are the leftovers, since I didn’t take pictures in the restaurant. And you know what? It was actually pretty good. (I’m soooo gonna get flamed for that.)

Sunday:

Breakfast: Blueberry Chobani with the last of my Bear Naked Fit Triple Berry Crunch granola and a Rook iced coffee at my desk. (Yeah, sometimes I have to work weekends…the life of a Web admin.)

Lunch: Vanilla ice cream at the beach. Seriously. I popped over to the boardwalk after work (I know you’re jealous, it’s ok). I planned on stopping at this Korean taco stand that opened there this summer and is supposed to be really tasty, but it was 90 bajillion degrees and there was a “new” ice cream shop. I say “new” because it was really just a new location for a shop the next town down the boardwalk that’s pretty famous for its ice cream. So of course I had to stop in. And I was feeling like some simple, good, pure ice cream, so I got vanilla, which is pretty uncharacteristic for me. (My usual orders typically involve cookie dough, gummy bears and/or chocolate.) And it was damn tasty ice cream.

Dinner: Possibly my new favorite summer beer, Saranac Shandy (seriously, this stuff’s possibly even better than Leinenkugel’s Shandy, my long-time summer favorite) with some suspiciously brown Pad See Yu.

I felt really sick from the stuff a few hours later, so it doesn’t deserve a picture. (I sometimes react negatively to large amounts of MSG.)

Well, that’s it! I’m focusing my energy on vacation now, because when I leave my office in the next five minutes, I’m officially on vacation! And I’m going to DISNEY WORLD tomorrow! I’m entirely too excited.

OH…before I go–Happy 100th birthday to the one and only Julia Child! Bon apetit!

So. Much. Produce.

My fridge has been lacking in the produce lately, so I was very glad when I had a half day at work last week and Kevin and I could hit the farmer’s markets. He only needed to get corn for dinner that night, but I walked away with a far more impressive haul:

We made our rounds. We started at Sickle’s Market, a part garden center, part farmer’s market and part general store. It’s a year-round place, with the majority of the produce and groceries indoors, but the quality and selection is more akin to a good farmer’s market than a supermarket.

Anyway, everywhere I turned I found something else I had to have. It’s a miracle I only walked away with what I did.

I ended up walking away with a bunch of kale (meant to make kale chips, but that didn’t go quite as planned–more on that later), five nectarines, a quart of Jersey-fresh blueberries and half a watermelon. There was also an almond croissant in there that didn’t make it through the car ride home. (Don’t judge.)

We also hit a small, local produce stand, Trader Joe’s and Wegman’s, where I grabbed a couple of avocados so I could make more of this before leaving on vacation.

Over the weekend, I also got a goody bag of home-grown tomatoes and cucumbers from a friend of mine. She’s been growing them in her yard and had more than she knew what to do with, so I gladly volunteered to take some of that pesky produce off her hands. Then I realized I don’t know what to do with five tomatoes and four cucumbers either. So I’ve been eating a lot of tomato, mozzarella and basil salad and drinking tons of cucumber-lemon water. I’m not complaining.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Kevin did get the fresh Jersey corn he was looking for–and it was delicious! It was so sweet it didn’t even need butter. Just boiled with some salt, and I could’ve eaten all six ears! Also, I forgot how much fun it can be to shuck corn. (I can’t believe I just said that.)

Speaking of vacation, (I spoke of it somewhere, I’m sure…) I’m getting pretty stoked to go to Disney World in two days! (Yup, I’m a child. Whatever. Happiest place on Earth, man.) Anyway, I’ve been compiling a list of certain things I want to try to do while I’m down there this time around. It’s a little lopsided though:

Yup, my Things I want to eat list is far longer than my Things I want to do list, especially since some of the things I want to do a really food-related anyway. Really, though, is anyone even surprised? I’ll be lucky if they’re not rolling me out of the parks. The saddest part is there is literally, like, one healthy thing on that food list, and that’s the AK egg roll stand (really!) because I want to go there for their veggie spring rolls, Asian noodle salad and fruit salad.

What? I’m on vacation. Don’t judge.

Well, not quite yet. Right now, I’m still at work, eating avocado-black bean salsa and wishing I was already in sunny Florida. (New Jersey’s a bit cloudy today…)

Expect some fun, Disney-themed posts in the coming weeks!

Avocado-Black bean salsa

It’s August, which means there’s still a month or so of summer left (almost two, technically) and still plenty of grilling and barbecue opportunities. Also, it means we’re coming into the hottest days of the year, and hot, heavy food just doesn’t always sound so appealing. Sometimes, in the East Coast heat, I just want a cool and refreshing snack or light meal that will leave me satisfied but not weighed down. And that, folks, is how I got my avocado-black bean salsa.

I made this stuff on a whim one night after I bought ripe Haas avocados and some canned black beans. Served with some super-addictive Trader Joe’s plantain chips, I couldn’t put this stuff down! I ate it for dinner, a late-night snack AND lunch the next day!

It’s the perfect summer snack and an awesome side dish to bring to your next barbecue–a fun and nutritious way to mix it up from regular salsa or mayo-laden picnic salads.

Seriously, make this salsa and you’ll never want to stop! It will become a staple for your summer, for sure!

One thing I’d like to note: I always look for no salt added canned beans–they’re much more convenient than dried beans, but canned beans are notorious for their sodium content. Rienzi sells all sorts of no salt added beans, which I love, so my pantry’s stocked with black beans, cannellini (white) beans and chickpeas. I still rinse the beans, though, to get off any extra salt and to improve the texture (they’re still canned in liquid, so they are a little slimy otherwise.) By rinsing them, it also allows me to almost completely control the amount of salt that goes into my food.

Avocado-black bean salsa

2 small or 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
1-15.5 ounce can of no salt added black beans, rinsed (I buy Rienzi brand) or soaked and cooked black beans
1 tomato, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, diced
Juice of half a lime
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Mix the first five ingredients together, being careful not to overly mash the avocado. Mix in lime juice, and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.  Serve with veggies, tortilla chips, plantain chips or use as a topping for, well, anything you want! (This would go great over salad greens, steak, grilled chicken, burgers, you name it!)

This is so fast and so easy, and it brings a bounty of veggies and a healthy dose of protein and fiber to the party!

Happy August!

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