We saved a bundle by getting married in March and it allowed our relatives to relieve their East Coast cabin fever, but it makes celebrating our anniversary a bit of a problem. Since we live in Los Angeles, having left our wintry childhood homes decades ago, our travel options are quite slim, especially since we don't usually have the time or inclination to schlep to Hawaii or Florida for the same weather. Living next door to Arizona and being baseball freaks has recently helped solve this vacation dilemma.
The Phoenix/Scottsdale area is home to the Cactus League, the Spring Training grounds of our beloved Chicago Cubs and, since 2011, our hometown Dodgers. So, for the past few years, instead of scouring the Internet for an interesting place in Southern California to while away a weekend, we’ve just jumped in our car and headed East. The drive is brutally dull and longer than you'd imagine considering flying to Phoenix only takes an hour, but our excitement and the MLB channel on XM kept our spirits up.
The great thing about attending games during Spring Training is the intimacy...and for most fans coming in from colder parts of the country, the weather. 82 and sunny is pretty much par for the course. You can pick out the out-of-towners quite easily by their sunburns. No local would be caught dead without a hat and sunscreen...or a shirt. Most of the facilities only hold around 10,000 fans, so there’s really no bad seat in the house.
Every Friday after school, my mom and I delivered groceries to my grandmother in her little apartment. (More about her here). We arrived at her front door, arms heavy with Stop n' Shop bags, and would ring the bell with a free elbow.
Invariably, I would complain about how long it was taking her. (I swear, it took her 5 minutes to walk the 10 feet from her recliner to the front door). And invariably, we would hear her voice from within, “Aspette! Aspette!” (Wait! Wait!).
With my arms completely numb by this point, she would finally let us in and exclaim: “Oooohh, I’m so glad you came! I just made a nice fri—taaa—taa. You’ll have some.” She said it every time as if she didn’t expect us.
Though we ate frittata often at home, I associate it most with Spring and with Nan; Fridays during Lent we would abstain from meat, so she always made a simple vegetable frittata, which was waiting for us when we arrived.
Weeknight dinners can be daunting if you are working all day or chasing kids around after school. We have been in the middle of basketball season, which means, three nights a week it is chaos at dinnertime. Mostly because the kids are starving by the time they get home.
Everyone here loves chicken Parmesan, but I don't really have time on a weeknight to pound out chicken breasts, make red sauce and shred several kinds of cheese. As a result, I have come up with an alternative, quick method everyone in my family really enjoys. The best part, I can literally throw this together after a basketball game and it's ready in no time.
The only thing I have to remember is take out a package of tenderloins from the freezer in the morning. I buy them in bulk at Costco.
Marathon Florida Seafood Festival - March 8 & 9th
Seafood lovers can savor a "fisherman-to-fork" feast of indigenous fish, shrimp, lobster and stone crab claws at Marathon's sumptuous signature foodie fair. A whopping 2,750 pounds of whole lobster, 1,400 pounds of mahi-mahi (dolphin), 1,000 pounds of stone crab claws, 750 pounds of Key West pink shrimp, 200 pounds of fish dip, 80 gallons of conch chowder and 50 gallons of conch ceviche will be served along with 75 bushels of oysters and 75 bags of clams from the west coast of Florida come. Local chefs offer up their talents to prepare the foods according to Keys-based recipes. Save room for the sweets booth, an extravaganza of fresh Key lime pies, baked goods and cakes, cool smoothies and icy treats -- all crafted locally. Children's games and more than 200 vendor and information booths are to dot the park, offering a variety of wares, nautical items, tropical apparel and accessories, plants, flowers, boats and material about watersports and organizations.
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 per adult. Children age 10 and under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. For more information: http://marathonseafoodfestival.com/
The Hungry Cat's 9th Annual OysterPalooza - March 10th
David Lentz’s flagship restaurant, The Hungry Cat in Hollywood, celebrates its 9th Anniversary with Oysterpalooza, an All- Day festival devoted to this much-loved mollusk. The Hungry Cat will be featuring half price oysters and some special oyster dishes by David Lentz including some fresh oyster po' boys, grilled oysters, pan roasted oysters and more.
And to sweeten the pot, The Hungry Cat’s expert bartenders will be mixing up big boozy anniversary cocktails during an All Day Happy Hour, all offered for $7 each. Limited edition tee shirts designed by Los Angeles artist Eric Junker will be for sale along with a few other surprises in store. For more information: http://thehungrycat.com/hollywood.html
Every Friday night I like to do pasta night. I love pasta dishes because they're quick to make and so satisfying to eat. And they don't at all need to be complicated. Sometimes all you need are a few pantry staples like canned tomatoes, capers, or olives to make a delicious sauce that doesn't take hours to cook. That's the true appeal of pasta.
Oftentimes when I don't feel like eating meat I'll whip together a vegetarian-style pasta or I'll make a quick Carbonara. Other times I'll make pasta with fish, adding seared cubes of fish to finish cooking in the sauce—you'd be surprised how wonderful fish is with tomato sauce. This recipe for pasta with swordfish is one of my favorites.
The best part about this recipe is that you use one pan (not including the pasta pot). Start by making the lemon and parsley crumb topping. Then wipe out the pan and sear the fish. And finally make the sauce and cook the pasta. Once it's all done, add the fish back to the pan along with the pasta to let the flavors mingle. Serve the pasta sprinkled with the crumbs instead of grated Parmesan, since cheese on fish is frowned upon by Italians (and I happen to agree with that assessment). Enjoy this dish for dinner any night—it's also great for Lent.
I get excited when I see fresh asparagus standing tall in the produce department at the grocery store. It tells me spring is almost here. Although fresh-from-the-garden asparagus probably won't be available around here until sometime in June, I know that when spring hits the produce department it won't be long before we actually feel that season in northern Minnesota. Now, that's something to celebrate.
I've been blanching, steaming, sauteeing and roasting asparagus for the last week. I've discovered I love having blanched asparagus in the refrigerator. I can grab a spear and nibble on it just the way it is or dab it into some of the roasted red pepper and garlic hummus that I whip together in my food processor and store in the refrigerator for a healthful snack.
Asparagus with Hazelnut Crumble is a quick-to-make dish that takes advantage of blanched asparagus. On a recent evening I melted some butter in a saute pan. When it was hot, I added some minced shallot (because I had some in my little garlic basket on the counter) and cooked it just until tender. Then, I added blanched asparagus spears and kept shaking the pan back and forth so that the spears would be totally coated with butter.
Many recipes for brown rice can require special equipment (like a rice cooker) or time consuming stovetop methods that are not always foolproof. This recipe for baked brown rice is perfect every time and eliminates the risk of poorly cooked rice.
While white rice many be more popular, brown rice clearly is the best choice in terms of health benefits. The process of creating white rice removes almost of all of its original nutrients, and according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, “the complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids”.
Brown rice has been shown to help lower cholesterol, has a low glycemic rating which helps reduce insulin spikes, and is rich in anti-oxidants and high in fiber. This recipe is probably the most basic, but you can add flavor by substituting chicken or vegetable broth for the water. Once the rice is cooked, add fresh herbs like chopped parsley or basil, or sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Yesterday I sat through two and a half of the most excruciating hours of my life. Sat through, twisted my torso through, felt like throwing up through. But I stayed there riveted, horrified, sickened and saddened beyond belief.
I was at a movie, "Twelve Years a Slave." A movie that should, in my humble yet convinced opinion, be required viewing for every American over the age of fifteen. It is based on the true story of a black man, a father, a husband, a violinist, a cultured, educated, middle class citizen of Saratoga Springs New York in the 1840's who is kidnapped, brought to the south and sold into slavery. It is the story of what he witnessed, endured, and survived for twelve years before being rescued and reunited with his family.
The movie, directed by Steve McQueen, gives it to us full strength, undiluted. The camera lens takes us into the open, oozing, purple wall of the wound. Close up and into the bubbling beads of fresh blood made by the long taut leather lashing out, slashing, ripping red rivers into chocolate skin.
It's a story of a despicable part of our history and needs to be told correctly for many reasons. And it is torturous to sit through.
In the chill air at 7:30 in the morning, I would head out. Heavy books that I never opened were piled high in my arms. They weighed me down, but I was used to it. These were pre-backpack years. Teachers required you to cover books then, and mine wore clumsy jackets of recycled brown Safeway grocery store bags. The covers barely hung on, despite the many pieces of Scotch tape randomly applied in all directions.
I was twelve. My bare, skinny legs descended from short, orange and yellow culottes as I crisscrossed the sidewalk, crunching hard on those fall leaves. Never stepping on cracks for two blocks -- from Roxbury to pick up my best friend Susie on Peck Drive. She was freckled like me, but taller and more mature. Now I could be distracted, not having to concentrate on my steps. Instead, we’d talk about our plan for the weekend. Compromising and strategizing. Your best friend in school is really your first important relationship, almost a rehearsal for a someday marriage.
The weekend plan was to sleep at Susie’s. To wake up at five in the morning, walk in the dark to meet Mr. Shaver by six, and go to the stables for horseback riding. Which, to be frank, wasn’t even a passion of mine. But horses were Susie and Bettsie’s hobby and they were my friends. Happily, I went along. Ben Shaver, the 8th grade history teacher, offered this weekend field trip, opened to all grades. This was before everyone was so litigious. With no thought of legal or insurance problems, he piled a bunch of us in his van, no one wearing seat belts and drove to Newhall for a long morning horseback ride.
Ford's Oyster House and Cajun Kitchen in Greenville, SC recently introduced a new dish called *Gumbalaya*. It's a modern mashup of a Cajun classic, and is the perfect food hybrid of Gumbo and Jambalaya and something new to try for your Mardi Gras celebration. - Serves 6
For Gumbo - Serves 6
4 Tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Flour
3 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup green peppers (diced)
1/3 cup celery (diced)
1/3 cup onion (diced)
2 Bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 teaspoons Crystal hot sauce
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 lb. chicken boneless skinless breasts
1 lb. Andouille sausage
Uglesich's Restaurant in New Orleans (Uglesich website) serves one of the best shrimp and grits that I ever tasted, although, just about everything there was incredible. This recipe, which follows a method from America’s Test kitchen, is pretty easy to throw together and makes a great quick dinner for two.
Southern Style Shrimp and Grits
8 ounces shrimp (large size 31-40 per pound), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 minced garlic clove
pinch of Cayenne pepper
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Cajun Seafood seasoning
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small onion minced (about 1/2 cup)
1½ cups water
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup Quick Grits (Quick not instant grits is key)
4 oz extra-sharp shredded cheddar cheese, shredded
1 green onion sliced thin
by Cathy Pollak
This is the perfect finger-food. It is a breeze to make and serves lots of hungry mouths. You can even make them up the day before and bake them off right before guests arrive. Since it makes enough for a couple sheet...Read more...
by Susan Salzman
My girlfriend took one bite of these and said, “this tastes like Mac ‘n Cheese”. Voila, the Mac ‘n Cheese cracker was born.
I had been wanting to make more savory snacks and this was a really great place to start.
What I love most about this recipe is that these can be made in big batches, baked right away or frozen for future use, making last...
by James Farmer III
The mother of one of my good buddies from my childhood in Hawkinsville made the best pimento cheese… and that’s the recipe I wanted to try. I couldn’t remember exactly how she made it, so I tried to recreate hers. Low and behold, I came out with...Read more...
by Oyvind Tangen