If you remember from my previous post about dining at Ziree Thai, I said I am not a fan of spicy foods. Well, this dish may have changed my mind! Thank you once again to Skinnytaste for this great recipe - Thai Chicken and Pineapple Stir Fry. Gina of Skinnytaste recommends using a pineapple and chili dipping sauce, but I couldn’t find it, so I used a sweet chili dipping sauce instead. The bottle said mild but wow, if that was mild I do not want to know what spicy tastes like!
The secret to the taste behind this dish is definitely in the sauces used:
This was my first time cooking any kind of meat, so I was extra careful to make sure the chicken cooked long enough. I was afraid I may overcook it but it came out perfectly! My grandmother and I enjoyed a delicious meal together that resulted in us both becoming fans of spicy food!
The colors of this dish are almost as hot as the dish itself! I used a red, green and orange pepper. I love yellow peppers but alas, Publix was all out of them! So orange had to do. It really is a beautiful entree to look at, and eating it is even better.
Don’t the bright, vibrant colors just make you want to eat it right off of the screen?! As I was preparing the dish, I was really feeling the heat. Eating it even made me sweat a little! If you aren’t fond of spicy dishes, try a different sauce. You should definitely use the Thai fish sauce with the chicken but when cooking the veggies you could probably use a sweet and sour sauce or something a little less spicy than chili and it’ll still be just as delicious. The sweet flavor of the pineapple really complements the peppers and chili taste.
Not a meat eater? Use tofu! Or if you prefer seafood, this would be great with shrimp or scallops. The best part about using an easy recipe is there is always room for your own personal interpretation of the dish. Improvisation is what makes cooking so much fun. There is no right or wrong when it comes to flavors, textures, colors, and temperatures in the kitchen. Use the ingredients you love and you’re bound to eventually come up with something perfect!
If you’re a coffee lover like I am, then you must love the holiday season for all the delicious flavors that come along with it, particularly at popular chains Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. The only thing that gets me down about some of these drinks is the amount of calories and sugar in each of them, which is why I love Starbucks skinny options! They recently added a new one to the list - Skinny Peppermint Mocha Latte! If you haven’t tried it yet, please do! Espresso, skim milk & sugar-free peppermint mocha syrup. Normally when I get one of the sugar-free syrups, I add 2 or 3 packets of Splenda to sweeten it up, but this drink needed none! You can also get the syrup added to your black coffee or my personal favorite, Cafe Americana. Other sugar-free syrups include hazelnut, vanilla, caramel macchiatto, and cinnamon dolce. You can lighten the other holiday drinks, the ones with sugar, by using skim milk. Gingerbread, Pumpkin Spice, Chai Tea, Eggnog, Salted Caramel, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha, Caramel Brulee… Everything sounds so decadent how could you ever choose just one? I wish they all came in skinny versions! Starbucks, if you’re reading, you should look into getting as many flavors as possible in a sugar-free syrup! It would make those of us watching our sugar and calorie intake very, very happy! But as long as you don’t overindulge too much, one sugary coffee drink every so often won’t hurt too much. It is the holiday season - treat yourself!
Now over to Dunkin’ Donuts, which also has new holiday flavors out, none of which are sugar-free, but like I said, once in a while isn’t awful! Pumpkin, Gingerbread, Peppermint Mocha, and even a Mint Hot Chocolate has been added to the menu. I need to try that soon; chocolate and mint is one of my absolute favorite combinations! I recently bought my own DD ground coffee to make at home. The limited edition flavors were just calling my name in Target. Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla Nut and Mocha Mint. All three are not as flavorful as they are when you get them at DD, but that’s because they serve the syrups there and what I got is simply the ground coffee with the infused flavor. Nonetheless, they are still tasty and satisfy my coffee cravings!
So what’s your favorite holiday coffee flavor?
Pumpkin is one of the most prevalent ingredients around the holidays, from Halloween to Christmas. It’s seen in so many dishes, especially in various desserts. But most of these desserts are so calorie-dense and packed with fat that it makes enjoying them a little bit harder to handle over and over again. I made a No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake from Skinnytaste and it was a big hit. You get the same creamy, smoothe taste texture as any other cheesecake for more than half the calories and fat.
You’ll need canned pumpkin puree, or you could be crafty and make your own. I made mine a while back when it was pumpkin-carving time and kept a container of it in my freezer. For the cheesecake, you’ll need fat free cool whip, fat free or 1/3 less fat cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract and reduced fat graham cracker crust. Whip it all up and pour into the pre-made crust and put into the frig to cool. Leave it in there at least overnight.
Then when you take it out you can decorate to your liking! I added more cool whip on the outer edges to mine and sprinkled cinnamon on top. I’m a huge fan of cinnamon so I tend to go a little overboard in any recipe that calls for the spice.
You could really make this no bake cheesecake any flavor you desire. Use the basic ingredients (cool whip, cream cheese, vanilla extract and brown sugar) and go from there. You could add cocoa for a chocolate cheesecake, or mash up a ripe banana and add it to the mixture. You could also keep it a simple, plain cheesecake and flavor it with fresh fruit on top. Get a little playful and make it candy or cookie-themed. Crush up your cookie or candy of choice and mix it in with the other ingredients. Drizzle more of the crushed ingredient on top. But be careful not to go overboard with whatever you decide to use; this is supposed to be a low-calorie dessert alternative!
I have been itching to write this post since I started my food writing frenzy! Thanksgiving is by far my favorite day of the year: glutton without guilt! I love everything about Thanksgiving dinner, from the preparation to the after-dinner food coma. This year was both special and sad for me. Special because it was the first year I had a big family dinner with all homemade dishes, but sad because my immediate family was not here with me. They will be visiting next week though! :)
We all gathered at my aunt and uncle’s house for our Thanksgiving feast and everyone contributed to the dinner in some way. I brought the risotto, my cousin Beth made two desserts and the cranberry sauce, my brother-in-law made another dessert, Bubby made one of the turkeys; we had two small ones, both cooked differently, one in the oven and one on the grill. My Uncle Gary took care of the grilled turkey. Aunt Patty took care of the rest of the sides. Check out our main chef and her super cute Thanksgiving apron! The apron was passed down to her from my Bubby a few years ago when Thanksgiving Dinner moved from Bub’s to Aunt Patty’s.
The table was set beautifully. All it needs now is some hungry eaters and plates of food!
Now for the much-anticipated part of this post: the food! Like I said earlier, we had two types of turkey. Roasted and BBQed. Both were absolutely delicious! The white meat wasn’t too dry as it sometimes is, and the skin on the BBQed turkey had a nice finish to it that gave it a smokier flavor than the roasted turkey. I took a slice of both to make sure I got a taste of both cooking strategies. Here is Uncle Gary hard at work carving the turkeys, along with the finished platter!
Now for the side dishes! There are so many different sides served on Thanksgiving. Every family has their own traditions and special dishes always included on their Turkey Day table. Beth made a cranberry sauce using Mandarin oranges and dried cherries. The oranges and cherries added such a good taste to the already sweet and delicious cranberries. It was especially good poured over top of the turkey. I made butternut squash risotto again and tweaked the recipe a little from the last time I made it. It came out ten times better this time. I used regular Parmesan cheese instead of the Italian Pecorino I used before, and made sure to allow the rice to cook longer. Everyone agreed that it made a world of a difference. Aunt Patty made a sweet potato soufflé, sans marshmallows. I’m not a huge fan of marshmallows so I didn’t mind the lack of white gooiness on top of the sweet, creamy dish. She also made a broccoli casserole and a stuffing unlike any I’ve ever had before. Instead of only using breadcrumbs, she also used Kasha. If you aren’t familiar with this ingredient, Kasha is buckwheat and a common food in Eastern Europe. In the Jewish culture, we use it in a dish alongside bow tie noodles and it can also be used in various other foods.
Cranberry, Cherry & Orange Sauce and Sweet Potato Soufflé
Butternut Squash Risotto
Dinner is served!
I can’t even choose my favorite dish. Everything complemented each other so well. The sweet potatoes were so smooth and creamy and has the perfect amount of cinnamon. I am a huge fan of cinnamon so I’m glad I was able to taste it in the dish. The stuffing had so many different elements to it so each bite was different. The broccoli casserole was light and creamy and the cranberry sauce gave a sweet flavor to each bite of turkey. Of course I had to have seconds! I was stuffed, as you should be after Thanksgiving dinner, but about an hour or so later it was time for the part of the meal everyone looks forward to the most: dessert!
Beth made her legendary pumpkin cheesecake and she also made a Kentucky Derby pie, which is a chocolate pecan pie. I had never heard of this dessert before so I was anxious to try it. Both were absolutely amazing. I could have eaten that cheesecake in its entirety! My brother-in-law Michael is known for his baking chops, as well. He graced us with a beautiful apple pie. I love an apple pie that is more chunky than gooey and his was exactly that. The crust was flakey and sweet, just the way it should be. Dessert was topped off with coffee and a taste of Apricot Brandy my aunt brought back from Vienna, Austria. Delish!
Kentucky Derby Pie and Apple Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake and Apricot Brandy
It was an amazing night filled with quality food and even more quality time with family. I hope everyone had just as great of a Thanksgiving as I did! Now that Turkey Day is behind us, we can begin the preparations for the holidays next month!
We all know and love the Thanksgiving staples of turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and stuffing, but every so often someone will come up with an out of the ordinary dish to bring to the table. Here are a few really creative ways to show the Thanksgiving spirit in the only way fitting: through food!
My friend Kelly is a school teacher and every year around this time, she makes her students an adorable little treat that I’m sure they just gobble right up. Ah, please excuse to lame joke…I had to do it… Oreo Turkeys!
What you need: Double Stuffed Oreos, white icing, Whoppers, Candy Corn
-Take apart one Oreo cookie and place half of the cookie (the side with cream) off to the side; you’ll use it in a minute.
-Take one Oreo cookie and put some icing on the top - stick in four Candy Corns, upside down. Put icing on the bottom of the cookie and attach it to your other cookie half like seen in the photo above.
-Put icing on the bottom of one of the Whoppers and stick it to the front of the bottom Oreo cookie.
-Break off the tip of one Candy Corn and use icing to stick it onto the Whopper to look like a beak.
-Use the icing to make dots on the Whopper for eyes!
SO cute, right? What a fun and easy Thanksgiving arts and crafts project to do with your kids, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, etc. Of course, I won’t tell anyone if you just want to make these for yourself too… :)
Here is another great Thanksgiving creation made by my friend Cara. This is great for decoration (and eating too, duh!) during the early part of the day when family is hanging around watching football waiting for dinner to be served. Not only is it absolutely adorable, but it’s healthy and won’t ruin your appetite before dinner! Presenting…Veggie Tail!
This treat is named after the cute little kids Veggie Tale movies - Cara was obsessed as a child so her family named this dish after it. You can easily recreate this masterpiece just by looking at the picture, and you could even swap different vegetables in if the ones used aren’t to your liking. But try and stay true to these Thanksgiving colors!
-Use baby carrots and cut up red, yellow and orange peppers to make the tail
-Slice cucumbers for the body and use two small pieces of broccoli for the feet
-Cut half of a green pepper for the head
-Cut a small piece of red and orange pepper for the beak and use two dried cranberries for the eyes and you’ve got your turkey!
There are so many different veggie options to use for this, and you can really use anything small and round for the eyes. Cranberries are very appropriate for Thanksgiving, but raisins would also work, as would any kind of bean. Serve with a good dip such as hummus or ranch for a nice, light pre-Thanksgiving feast appetizer.
Now for one more creative Thanksgiving dish: a turkey pound cake! One of my Jersey friends, Lisa, posted this photo on Facebook and it looked so great so I asked her about it. She confessed that it is store bought, but someone still did make it. It may not have been her, but some creative little genius at this South Jersey bakery thought up the idea.
I don’t even think I would want to cut into this adorable cake! I’m sure it tasted just as amazing as it looks. Thank you to Minos Bakery in Absecon, NJ for having such a great Thanksgiving dessert! I hope Lisa and her family enjoyed it. If you’ve got some artistic talent you could certainly recreate this delicious dessert right tin your own kitchen.
Did you have any out of the ordinary dishes at your dinner? Let me know! There are so many ways to get creative with your food when preparing for a big holiday meal. It’s fun to get crafty in the kitchen and makes all the chaotic cooking more enjoyable!
Stay tuned for my much-anticipated Thanksgiving Day Feast post to come.
Everyone enjoys a good Sunday Funday. What better way to wind down the weekend than by hanging out with friends and enjoying yourself before you have to jump back into the work week? This past weekend, I spent all day Sunday at a friend’s in Delray watching football and just hanging out. We were going to grab dinner from one of the many restaurants nearby, but decided it’d be more fun (and better for our wallets) to stay in and cook. After a quick fridge & pantry raid, we had our menu planned: pan-seared tilapia with cajun spice seasoning, parmesan asparagus, garlic parmesan broccoli, and wild rice with a sun-dried tomato seasoning.
Zach and Bruce were in charge of the tilapia, and I took the reins on the veggies. It was such a simple recipe and took barely any time at all. I cooked the two vegetables separately and then we tossed them together in one platter when it came time to serve. For the asparagus, I mixed together parmesan cheese with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper, then poured about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over top of the asparagus and sprinkled on the parmesan cheese until the asparagus is covered to your liking. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Super easy; anyone can do it! I steamed the broccoli on the stovetop. First, I poured about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into the pan, along with a tablespoon of garlic and a quarter cup of water and filled the pan with as much broccoli as it could hold (or as much as you’d like to cook). Make sure the broccoli is just about fully coated with the olive oil and garlic mixture and then sprinkle a little parmesan on top. Cover the pan and let steam for about 8 minutes. After both veggies were done, I threw the broccoli in with the asparagus and put it all back into the oven to keep warm until we were ready to serve dinner. Both side dishes came out so good! The parmesan softened up the asparagus a little, but they still had a bit of a crunch to them. It’s hard to go wrong with steamed broccoli, but sometimes it can be bland so the garlic and parmesan really added some great flavor to the dish. You can modify these two recipes in so many ways, using whatever spice, cheese, etc. you prefer!
Here’s a shot of the delicious and perfectly prepared tilapia by the boys. They did an awesome job. I’ve had tilapia in so many different ways, but never with cajun seasoning. I tend to shy away from things that seem too spicy but this was the perfect amount of spice! It complemented the light flavor of the fish and gave it just the kick it needed.
Dinner was served just in time to sit down for the Eagles Giants game, which ended up being a great game for my birds! Proud to be an Eagles fan! :)
Last night was my second outing to the Biergarten and once again, I had a great time. This is one of the newest spots in Boca Raton, located in Royal Palm Place. The outside area is nice, with lots of seating at the bar and tables are available, too. Hanging behind the bar is a chalkboard full of available beers and food specials hangs, so there is no excuse not to know what you’re going to order! I’m not really a big beer drinker, but last time I went I thought I’d try out a few that sounded appealing. I tried two that I really liked: Woodchuck and Shipyard Pumpkinhead. Woodchuck tastes a lot like a cider, which is probably why I like it; it doesn’t taste like beer! The Pumpkinhead was just a little bit heavier than the Woodchuck, but still a really light beer with a nice pumpkin flavor to it. It’s Fall, pumpkin is everywhere! For my second visit to the “garten,” I wanted to try one of their cocktails. My waitress suggested her favorite, Holy Water, which is a banana liquor and another liquor I was not familiar with, Aquavit. Whenever I hear banana, I think creamy so I was iffy about ordering the drink, but I was assured it was really light and sweet and definitely delicious. She was 100% on the money! I loved it and would recommend it to anyone who likes a drink that is more on the sweet side. We decided we’d get an appetizer after seeing the huge Pretzel that everyone around us had ordered. “The Pretzel” is the Biergarten’s signature appetizer: a giant soft pretzel served with house made mustards and some kind of German cream cheese dip. I shared it with friends when I was there last time and it’s good, but we opted for a much healthier and filling choice and were happy with it. We got the Alpine Tray, which comes with cucumbers, carrots, celery, broccoli, pretzel bites, and a small balsamic onion side salad served with the cream cheese dip. This platter gives you a little taste of everything: you still get the pretzel along with other healthier options for dipping into a not-so-healthy but amazing dip. It was a nice pairing to our drinks. Aside from enjoying our drinks and appetizer, the crowd was fun too. There was a mix of all ages, groups of friends hanging out, couples on dates, etc. Our waitress was super sweet and friendly. She stopped a few times to talk to us and made some great recommendations when we asked. Good conversation, good company & good eats…I can’t think of anything better.
The above sentence is not something you typically hear when talking about a restaurant, but at Seasons 52 that is their mantra. Everything listed on their menu is under 475 calories, with no sacrifice in taste at all. My aunt, cousin and I decided to have a girls night and go out to dinner. Again, I didn’t take pictures (ugh I know, I’m slacking - I’ll get back on the wagon for my next post, I promise!) so I hope my descriptions form mental images of the amazing food we had. There’s a pretty extensive list of flatbreads so we got one of those as an appetizer to share. We got the flatbread listed on the Specials: artichoke and goat cheese with balsamic onions and red peppers. The thin crispy bread was a perfect base for the ingredients - sometimes too much bread can take away from the flavor of the main focus of a dish. Here it was the goat cheese and artichokes, and I definitely got the creaminess of the cheese and bitterness of the artichokes with every bite I took. I absolutely love goat cheese and any dish that includes the ingredient usually gets an A in my book. I decided I’d try one of their signature martinis. It was really sweet, which I like, so I was happy with it. The Superfruit Martini is made with a Veev Acai Spirit, Pom Pomegranate Blueberry Juice, and organic agave nectar, garnished with a few blueberries. Then came our dinners. Mind you, there is no bread served for the table, and dinners do not include the standard soup or salad option. This factors into the “Everything Under 475 Calorie” concept. All three of us ordered a seafood entree, and of course we all tried a bite of each other’s dinner. I got the grilled sea scallops with roasted asparagus and tomato-mushroom pearl pasta. My cousin got the artichoke-stuffed shrimp with leaf spinach, pearl pasta and a clam cioppino sauce. None of us really knew what this sauce tasted like, so just in case it wasn’t too her liking, she ordered it on the side. She ended up being pleasantly surprised by its taste. My aunt got the grilled boneless rainbow trout with roasted carrots and asparagus. It was a beautiful piece of fish, and tasted just as great as it looked. The stuffed shrimp were delicious too, and my scallops were cooked to perfection. All of us were completely satisfied with our meals and couldn’t stop gushing about how good everything was. But no dining experience is complete without dessert. These desserts are the perfect ending to a great dinner. They are served in shot glasses, so there is no after-dinner regret or stomach woes from eating too much!. There is a huge selection to choose from, ranging from seasonal fresh fruit to decadent chocolate rocky road. There is even a no-sugar-added cookies and cream option. We got three different treats and shared: pumpkin pie served with a mini gingersnap cookie on top, key lime pie, and caramel mocha macchiatto. These are three very different desserts each with their own distinct flavor. Having a taste of each was just what I needed to satisfy my end-of-the-night sweet tooth. The best part about this meal? We didn’t leave feeling overstuffed or uncomfortable like you sometimes do after a big meal. Seasons 52 is in Boca Raton on Glades Road. I’ve been told the bar area is really nice, with live music some nights. Whether you’re headed out for a meal or just drinks and appetizers, Seasons 52 is a pretty good choice, for taste and your waist.
I’ve had some really great dining experiences over the past week, so of course I had to share them with you! First let me bring to you one of the coolest spots I’ve been to in Delray: Dada. The restaurant is set in a building that looks like it was once someone’s home, and the way it’s decorated is just awesome. The inside is very modern and artsy, with lots of sitting areas reminiscent of a living room or den area in a house. There’s a stocked bar inside where they make their famous mojitos, which made me very happy because mojitos are one of my favorite cocktails. The mojito menu has at least 10 different kinds you can choose from. I opted for the Blackberry Mojito, made with fresh fruit and was garnished with an actual stick of sugar cane. It was delicious! So light and refreshing; exactly the taste you want from this type of drink. There is a beautiful outside seating area where I highly recommend you enjoy your dinner. Weather permitting, of course. Sitting outside felt like we were in our own backyard having a nighttime picnic. The wooden table and chairs, the woodsy lawn adorned with lights, the brisk air - it’s a great atmosphere for dining with friends or a date. I was very thankful to my cousin Leah and her best friend Beth for introducing me to this awesome restaurant. I’m so obsessed with how cute it is there that I haven’t even touched on our food yet! When the waiter read us their nightly specials, I was immediately locked on the Ginger and Carrot Soup. I got that and the Dada Garden Salad, which was your basic garden salad with a delicious herb tahini dressing. Beth got a great starter dish, the Mediterranean Plate. It came with a tomato red onion salad, cucumber salad, grape leaves, grilled pita and hummus and tabbouleh for dipping. This is a good choice for someone with an appetite, but doesn’t want something off the entree menu. I tried some of the hummus and it was very good! Leah got the Butternut Squash Ravioli. The ravioli was cooked in a thyme cream and served with asparagus, fresh vine ripe tomatoes and artichoke hearts. It was a beautiful dish and not too big like some restaurant entrees. Silly me, I forgot to take pictures of our food so unfortunately I don’t have any to accompany this post. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will definitely snap a few shots. Dada is in Delray Beach on Swinton Ave. If you haven’t already been, this should definitely be on your radar for your next night out. I can’t wait to go back!