Foodie In Training

Friday, November 30, 2007

Global House Salad

Since I'm on a health kick these days, I wanted to try this new salad I found in the Self Dishes magazine. Self Dishes is a whole magazine of tasty, healthy and easy to make recipes from Self Magazine. After my exercise class I came home and whipped up this salad in about 15 minutes and it was so good!! I added mushrooms to it and I thought it worked really well with all of the other flavors. All of the ingredients really compliment each other, and I even used the Sriracha sauce. I was pretty proud of myself because I normally don't like spicy things, but it only calls for 1/8 of a tsp. so I figured I could handle that. It wasn't that hot, but I could definitely taste that layer of heat underneath the sweetness of the pear and tanginess of the balsamic dressing. This was also a very filling salad considering it did not have any protein. I think the walnuts helped. I did toast mine in a little bit of honey, but looking back I think they would be good plain as well. I definitely recommend the Global Salad.

Serves 2

1/2 cup walnuts
1 tbsp honey
1 Anjou pear
4 cups mixed baby lettuce
1/4 cup blue cheese

1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp Sriracha sauce (Thai hot sauce)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350°. Mix walnuts and honey in a shallow baking dish. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove; set aside. Cut pear into thin slices. Combine nuts, pear, lettuce and cheese in a bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients in another bowl. Divide salad between 2 serving bowls; drizzle each with 2 tbsp of the dressing.

Beer and Me: Natty Light to Christmas Ale

Over the last couple years I have increased my knowledge and appreciation for wine. I would love to go to wine country in California or Europe (or even Chile or Australia) to explore the varieties and learn more about the drink of choice for most foodies. I even enjoy many of the wineries that I have toured and sampled in northern Ohio, the Lake Erie Islands and Canada- but that is for a different post.

I also go on lengthy vodka/martini kicks and whiskey kicks throughout the course of the year.

Sill, my alcoholic beverage of choice is beer. Maybe its because I feel like I was raised on the stuff. My dad used to have a couple beers every night. It was usually Molson or Labatt, maybe Michelob or Heineken. It's not that I ever was allowed to have more than a sip, but more that I just wanted to be like my dad. Now my dad is an all out wine-o, but this a recent development, after my formative years. Later, in high school, I started drinking. Natural Light, aka Nattie, was the beer of choice for me and my friends. "Good beer" was Busch Light or maybe even Bud Light. Then came college. I could actually have a couple beers on a week night, just like my dad. Still, it was all about quantity and not quality. The best value was Beast. Milwaukee's Best Light was really cheap, really prevalent on University of Dayton's Ghetto and dorms, and it went down like water- probably because it was about 95% water. You could drink a ton of it, and we did. Every now and then we'd splurge and get a sixer of something good. Honey Brown, Sierra Nievada, etc.

I studied abroad in Ireland one summer and I started appreciating Irish and English beers and began to understand different styles. Ciders, Stouts, Red Ales, Lagers, it all started making sense to me. Hell, at "tree fif-ty fiive" (As my favorite bar tender said when asking for 3.55 euros), Guiness was cheaper than a Budweiser, the only prevalent American beer in Dublin bars.

After college, I started really getting into good beers. A good friend of mine, Craig, is somewhat of an expert in the area and he would talk to me about the finer points and pointed me to some of his favorites. Being crazy for all things Cleveland, Great Lakes Brewing Co. was a natural start for me. I fell in love with their Commodore Perry IPA and really like Conway's Irish Ale. Their beers are expertly made, and each of their beers stays true to the Great Lakes quality and flavor. As a bonus, they are each named for something in Cleveland lore or history. Also, I encourage you to go through their website as they do a nice job explaining the origins of their different styles, descriptions and listings of the awards they have won for each style, and their impressive environmental commitment.

In addition to Great Lakes' 6 or so year round brews, they also produce some delicious seasonal beers. I am quickly falling in love with all seasonal beers. I love changing seasons and certain beers traditionally or practically fall nicely within different seasons: Bock's in the spring, Oktoberfests in the late summer and early fall, hefeweizen and wheat beers in the summer. My favorite, and, more impressively, one of Craig's favorite seasonal beer, is Great Lakes' Christmas Ale. It is a perfect blend of Christmas spice and honey backed by a strong ale that can stand up to the sweetness and spiciness. I urge anyone to try it regardless of their experience with beer or how much they like it generally. The only problem with it is its limited production. They only make it once a year, in a smaller batch and whenever that runs out, usually in less than the planned 3 months (November through January) you are left waiting until the next season. The Plain Dealer wrote about the supply demand issue with Christmas Ale, which I found pretty interesting.

I still like the cheap stuff (though that means Bud Light now, not Beast or Natty). I enjoy beers of all qualities and usually in large quantities.

Merry Christmas. Celebrate with a good Christmas Ale, Great Lakes, if you can get your hands on it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Foodies on a diet

As Erin mentioned, we are making an effort to eat healthier, lose some lbs and get into shape. Well, doing all that while eating interesting and delicious things is not impossible, but it is an added challenge. General rules of thumb include eating less cream/cream sauce (which I generally avoid because I think they are gross), cheese, fatty meats, cut down on portion size and snacks, and generally reduce complex sugars and fat. One thing I have found effective was keeping track of the fat and calories that I eat.

Many websites can assist you in this, but my calorie calculator of choice is FitDay.com

Also, Men's Health has a good compilation of several restaurants' nutritional information:
Nutrition Facts - Men's Health

So, over the next several months if you see us substituting skim milk cheese for regular cheddar or ground turkey for ground beef, you will know why. And while it might not be the foodie thing to do, we should be pretty successful at making these healthier options just as delicious.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Maybe Ryan has a point..

I had so much great food this Thanksgiving weekend that I still feel full.. I would blog about all of my meals I had around the state of Ohio (3 cities in 4 days) but I'm only going to choose one meal to talk about and only because it's kind of funny.
Sunday night Ryan and I went to dinner with his Grandma and parents to Marconi's, an awesome family-owned Italian Restaurant in Huron. I ordered one of the specials, Fontina Chicken. The description said, spinach and artichokes over chicken with fontina cheese. When I got my dish it looked amazing and it was very tasty, but about half way through I looked at my plate and I saw, spinach, artichoke and cream sauce..basically the ingredients for Spinach and Artichoke dip on my plate. This was a little different because it was a pasta dish, but maybe Ryan has a point about how overdone spinach and artichoke dishes are in restaurants..ugh, I hate when he is right. :)
Anyway, the dish was actually very good, I just didn't realize it was going to be a heavy cream sauce, something I am not used to getting, but it was a nice treat to end a week of great food. Ryan and I are starting new, healthy eating plans today so there will be no more cream sauces for me!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Quick and Easy Salsa

Hey everyone, it looks like this is going to be a combo of mine and Ryan's blogs so hopefully there will be more posts on a variety of topics!
The day before Ryan's amazing Brazilian chicken I made some quick and easy salsa that we had as an appetizer to the chicken dish. I had leftover corn and black beans from a previous meal I made and some leftover green pepper. So I added that all together and wanted to add some diced tomatoes...well, I opened the wrong can (we didn't have any diced tomatoes)and so I had to work with the can of crushed tomatoes that I opened. I just added a few tablespoons of the crushed tomatoes to add the tomato flavor but not make it too juicy like the jarred salsas. I also quartered some grape tomatoes and added those. Next came the purple onion (which we had to buy and add later and it made such a difference)and for seasonings I put a lot of salt and pepper, tons of cilantro, lime juice and orange juice and then Ryan made me add a lot of Tobasco sauce. I'm not a huge fan of spicy things and at first the salsa was way to hot for me, but after I let it sit for a day and let all of the flavors blend, it turned out to be a great salsa!
It lasts for a while and I like to add it to other dishes because it can really pump up an otherwise ordinary dish. For example, you can always just eat it with tortilla chips, but I like to add it to eggs for a Mexican omelet and I've also added it to top burgers. Now that I think about it, it would be really good added to a grilled cheese.
Yum, now I'm hungry!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brazilian Chicken ala Ryan


I'm quickly becoming a fan of amateurgourmet.com. The author is a former law student who started cooking in his third year to stay sane. He critiques restaurants, mainly in New York, tries recipes and generally discusses all things food. Actually a similar format to this blog, but honestly, I never heard of the Amateur Gourmet until a few weeks ago when I got his book, "The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hop like a Pro (Almost)" for Erin's birthday. Maybe someday one of us will have time to review the book on here.

Anyway, last night I wanted to cook dinner for JJ and Erin. I had some chicken breasts and Erin made some fresh salsa over the weekend that I wanted to try, but I didn't really have a full meal in mind. After searching around the internet, I went over to amateurgourmet.com and found this post about Brazilian Chicken with Olives: http://www.amateurgourmet.com/2005/10/if_i_were_perky.html

Here is the link to the simple recipe:

Now, I had to adjust for Erin's dislike of olives and what we had around the kitchen. I ditched the olives idea and added some lime zest and lime juice to makeup for the lack of orange peel. Also, we didn't have yellow rice, but a packet of Litpon's Spanish rice worked ok. Lots of garlic, cilantro, lime, and orange juice was the keys to flavoring the chicken and rice. It turned out really well. Cooking with orange juice added nice flavor throughout the rice and chicken and it was highlighted nicely with the lime and garlic. I might just use plain rice the next time so the individual flavors don't compete with the flavoring of the Spanish rice packet.

This dish creates a great base to be creative and adapt to flavors and what you have around the kitchen. We could have added capers, olives, artichokes, tomatoes, really whatever flavor combination you feel like, or have the ingredients for, could work with this garlicy and juiecy chicken and rice base.

Overall, I think it was a big success. It went nicely with the fresh salsa and really any green salad or veggie would make a good meal. I'd give the recipe an A-.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


So..it's quite apparent that Ryan and I had very different dining experiences at York Street Cafe, but I guess that happens when a person does not like their entree. To defend my critique I think that atmosphere can definitely sway me one way or the other when I think about a restaurant and food. I loved the feeling I got at York Street Cafe, just very cozy and cool and like Ryan and I both said, eclectic. I think the restaurant has definite potential and it all comes down to what you choose from the menu. I think when I go back I want to try new things on the menu and critique them again and I encourage Ryan to do the same. :)

P.S. Ryan does not like broccoli, therefore I do not think he is a good judge of it. I also had no idea how jaded he was about spinach and artichoke dip. Learn something new everyday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ryan's Restaurant Review: York St. Cafe

Hi everyone, this is Ryan, I’m Erin’s fiancée and I’ll be guest bloging every now and then with some restaurant reviews and thoughts on food shows and recipes.

Last week, Erin and I went to the York Street Café in Newport, KY for dinner. We were celebrating Erin’s 25th B-day. I found the place through some while looking for a restaurant in Newport, but away from the Levee scene. We wanted to go to a movie, but I didn’t want to eat at the cliché places that the Levee has to offer.

York Street Café appeared to fit the bill. To call the atmosphere eclectic would be an understatement. The dining room walls were filled with bookshelves containing everything form 1940’s football helmets, to old random family portraits, to small collectables. Our waitress somehow fit right in with her obviously over-dyed hair, short skirt, high argyle socks, and long black boots.

We started with one of their “conversation boards,” basically an appetizer/salad combo to share. We decided on the Toastie Sampler, which included “toasted pitas” with a couple different toppings and a cherry salad. It was ok, but besides the layout, did not inspire much conversation. The pitas were just mini-pizzas and I enjoyed the one topped sun-dried tomato, eggplant, roasted red peppers and provolone. The artichoke, spinach topping on the other “pita” was ok, but I am bored with the cheesy creamy spinach artichoke dip that is on every menu in the discovered world. The highlight of the dish, and maybe the entire meal was the cherry salad. A nice mix of fresh greens was complemented with dried cherries, toasted sunflower seeds and some feta. The dressing was a dijon vinaigrette that beautifully combined the kick of vinegar and horseradish with a smooth and mild mustard.

For our entrees, I chose the Pork Tenderloin, while, Erin smartly went with the York St. Fresh Catch, Halibut. The Tenderloin was just ok. Instead of being “seared to perfection” as portrayed on the menu, it was overcooked, and more importantly tasted as if it had sat under a hot lamp since the afternoon. The Asian sauce was pretty good, but there isn’t enough sauce in the world to make up for a dried out piece of meat. The “garlic” mashed potatoes had no garlic, or garlic flavor to speak of, and they were seemed to be sitting for some time before being served. Finally the season vegetable was a lone broccoli sprig, overcooked and mushy with no seasoning.

Erin’s dish had its flaws, but was overall a success. The fish was cooked nicely and served with some nice basmati rice, and the same sad broccoli sprig. Unfortunately, the fish was smothered in a spinach artichoke sauce that was probably the same that they used for the appetizer. It overpowered the fish and made what should be a nice light dish heavy and creamy. Erin enjoyed it, but it could have been so much better.

Overall, I thought the meal was disappointing and the atmosphere can only go so far to save average food when you are paying $20 a plate. It was fun though, and I’d probably recommend York St. Cafe for a “conversation board” and a bottle of wine with a group of friends, though probably not for dinner. Overall grade: C

I did take a couple things from this meal: Spinach/Artichoke is overdone and I am over it and sunflower seeds are a tasty, crunchy addition to a salad. Cheers, Ryan

York Street Cafe

For my birthday last week Ryan took me to a great restaurant in Newport, KY, York Street Cafe. What a great place, you walk in and instantly it feels homey and comfortable. The restaurants was filled with antiques and knick-knacks and everything had a very eclectic feel to it all the way down to the collection of pez dispencers lined up behind the bar. Some of the smaller tables made for two had mismatched, really cool club chairs that looked really comfortable and added to the unique decor of the restaurant. Ryan and I started off with one of their "Conversation Boards" all of them looked great and at first we thought it might be too much food for 2 people, but the waitress said they are good for 2-4 people to share. We got the Toastie Sampler and it was delicious! It was mini slices of pizza one with spinach and artichoke topping and the other with sun-dired tomatoes. They were served on a beautiful platter and in the middle there was a tasty salad filled with mixed greens, sunflower seeds, feta, and craisins. The dressing was a homemade, really tangy balsamic vinaigrette. I decided on their catch of the day which was halibut grilled with a spinach and artichoke crust (I couldn't get enough spinach and artichoke). The fish was cooked well, but the artichoke spinach crust overwhelmed the fish and I didn't really taste much of the fish, but it was still wonderful! On the side was 2 large, bright green stalks of broccoli, which is my favorite vegetable and tasty basmati rice.
York Street Cafe is a unique place with a unique menu and I definitely recommend it to anyone. It was a great birthday!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I'm going to take a few moments to write about my favorite cooking show...if you are Food Network savvy you know that my blog title "Giada" is the host of Everyday Italian. My favorite kind of food is Italian so that is a huge reason I love the show. All of the recipes I have tried from the show or one of Giada's cookbooks are delicious and very easy. She uses just a few ingredients and lets them speak for themselves.
I also really like the look of the show and how they style the food. Giada used to be a food stylist for Gourmet so I think that is why everything always looks so beautiful and stylish. Some of my favorite and easy recipes from Giada are lemon spaghetti, grilled vegetables, stuffed shells, and chicken piccata. Yum!

I think her show is on in the mornings and then in the afternoons around 4 p.m. Check out the show and try a recipe, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Redskin potatoes cont.

I realized in my haste to post something I forgot to tell you the most important part of the redskin potato dish..how to bake it.. I use a cookie sheet covered in foil (easy clean up) and spread the potatoes, onions and green peppers on the cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. Half way through, stir the ingredients a bit so the potatoes turn over.
Dinner last night was very yummy. Ryan was in charge of the steak and it was tasty! He seasoned it with cilantro, chili powder, salt and pepper and olive oil. The juices from the steak made an awesome jus!
Tonight is a study night so I think I'm just going to make those whole wheat cheese ravioli's with red sauce, quick and easy!

This is not food related, but don't forget to vote today!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dinner guest

Ok, so my attempt to blog at least once a day for November failed. It was an interesting weekend and I had things to blog about, but just never found the time. Oh well. Back to the grind!
Tonight, JJ is coming over for dinner and I'm excited to cook for him. Ryan is in charge of the protein for the meal, but I'm going to make steamed spinach with lemon and roasted redskin potatoes with green pepper and onion and fresh herbs. The potato dish is so good and so easy, my mom made up the recipe. You start with small redskin potatoes, watshed and the eyes scraped out. Chop the potatoes in to medium-small pieces (I usually quarter the potato) but make sure they are all about the same size so they all cook evenly. Chop the onion and green pepper evenly as well and you can use as much or as little of these ingredients as you want. In a large bowl, add the potatoes, onion and green pepper and add olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. I also like to add fresh herbs like parsley, basil and anything else you want. I sprinkling of crushed red pepper is also good, but a little goes a long way.
Happy Monday!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pizza night

So apparently it is National Blog Posting month so I'm going to try and post something every day in November, we'll see how that goes.
Last night Mo and I had dinner and I made a pizza. I used a store-bought wheat crust which makes things quick and easy. To start off, I lightly brushed the crust with olive oil, which is a trick I learned from my mom. Then I spread the sauce and for my sauce I use the jarred stuff (Classico, spicy tomato sauce) which I know isn't very "foodie"-like but it's quick and I think it has more flavor than the canned pizza sauces. I also like to add fresh herbs like basil or parsley to the sauce to brighten it up a bit. Tonight my toppings were onions, green peppers, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, grape tomatoes and spinach. I also added some diced garlic. Before topping with cheese I like to add a little bit of salt and pepper and sometimes crushed red pepper. Then I topped all the veggies with a little bit of part-skim mozzarella cheese.
It was a tasty meal that was really quick and perfect with a glass of wine, which I might have drank to much of last night but that will have to be another post. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Lunch in Paris

It is always great to go to lunch with friends and it's even better when it's at my favorite downtown restaurant! Cafe Paris on Garfield between Vine and Race streets is a cute and quaint restaurant with great sandwiches and salads. It really feels like you could be in a cafe in Paris. I usually get one of there Cafe Paris specialty's, the Cafe de Paris sandwich (which is what Mary had for lunch) which made with home-made chicken salad on a baguette with melted brie, tomato, sprouts and red peppers. But I wasn't sure if my jaw could handle a huge baguette so I opted for my second favorite, hummus plate with a side of pasta salad. The hummus is also homemade and they serve it on a large plate sprinkled with finely diced cucumber, onions and tomatos. Warm wheat pita bread is served on the side so I can dip! The pasta salad is made differently ever day, today it was tri-color pasta with chopped carrots, a sprinkle of feta cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing. Sometimes they add broccoli or cauliflower or tortellini's.
Hopefully my dinner is as good as my lunch. I think I'm on my own tonight so I'm making a pizza.

Au Revoir!