Thursday, December 31, 2009

Granola is easy to make! Here’s how!


Posted by Lyndi
My husband Dennis has become obsessed with granola lately. Obsessed with shopping for ingredients, obsessed with experimenting with different variations, obsessed with eating it. I am not sure what switch was flipped that caused this recent adoration of the concoction, but I do know that he is obsessed with granola.
The best part is his exclamations “look how inexpensive this is to make!” And now I am going to share with you his base granola recipe that his mom gave to him.
Feel free to make it your own and add by adding all the luscious ingredients that you personally love!
GRANOLA DELIGHT
Ingredients
½ cup butter (or macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, or blend between the three)
¼ cup honey (or agave nectar, agave amber nectar, or brown rice syrup)
½ teaspoon salt
Stir in:
2 cups of raisons (or cranraisans, or mixed dried fruit)
4 cups of oats
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup wheat germ (or flax seed meal)
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup blanched almonds (or slivered almonds)
Combine liquid ingredients: oils, honey or agave, and salt in skillet on stovetop on medium heat and stir in dry ingredients for 5 minutes.

Arrange all ingredients on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes until toasty perfect
Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Want to know when an avocado is ripe?


Posted by Lyndi

Here is a handy little tip to know when an avocado is ripe and ready:

1. Look for the stem.
2. Pull stem out of avocado.
3. Did it not pull out? Not ready.
4. Did it pull out? Look at the color underneath. Brown? Overripe. Green? Ripe and ready!

Mellow Mushroom pizza = Amazing. Their salads = Amazing.


Posted by Lyndi
Last night we ran a few errands in Fayetteville and decided to conduct a culinary exploration as well. As you already know, pizza joints aren’t high on my to-do list due to that pesky dairy/wheat intolerance issue (may I have a plate of pizza sauce and mushrooms on the side, please?). Throwing tolerances to the wind, we determined to try out Mellow Mushroom, the cool-vibin’, louder than loud, cozy-comfy restaurant in Fayetteville.

While most pizza joints around here are lacking on the non-pizza options, Mellow Mushroom delivers.
Dennis ordered a small pizza with red sauce and pesto and double-mushrooms. His verdict? “This may be the best pizza since the New Jersey Pizza!” The infamous New Jersey Pizza incident was back 2001 when we visited Hasbrook Heights, New Jersey for my brother-in-law’s wedding. The pizza was room service at the Hilton. And yes, it was that good. So when Dennis says it is in the same league as the New Jersey Pizza, man, this pizza is good. He let me smell it (c’mon, all you gluten-free foodies know what I am talking about) and it was all that I could do not to take a bite. And I haven’t been tempted in a loooong time.
I ordered the tortilla soup as an appetizer, sans the chicken, cheese, and sour cream. The taste was fantastic although I wouldn’t call it tortilla soup. Think hearty tomato soup. It is a fantastic hearty tomato soup.
My main course was the teriyaki chicken salad. We already had a back-up plan to order the chicken wings appetizer in case the salad was extremely lacking (hence my not ordering the $1.50 chicken addition to the soup). Then. the. moment. arrived. The salad was AMAZING and huge and housed a plethora of ingredients that delighted me throughout! Even the lettuce was fresh and tasty. And get this; the teriyaki chicken was served… hot! Finally, someone around here has figured out that if a salad is a main dish and comes with chicken… serve it hot! Want to know what else was in the salad? A medley of olives, shaved Parmesan, roasted bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and croutons (no thank you). Finally, the salad comes with a Caesar dressing coating. I substituted with the balsamic vinaigrette and it was perfect.
If you have not visited Mellow Mushroom yet, do. And while it is a franchise, don’t let that deter you. It has a homegrown feel to it.
Mellow Mushroom is located in Fayetteville on 1460 East Augustine Lane (off Joyce, next to Masons Boutique and Lindsey Management Corporate Office). Phone is 479-521-1001. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 10am-10pm; Friday-Saturday 10am-11pm.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Who knew baked bananas could be so satisfying!



Don’t you just love old cookbooks?

One of the many treasures I inherited from my Aunt Peggy was her vast collection of cookbooks. Not the traditional hardbound cookbooks mind you. No, her collections were more like cookbook pamphlets. Short on pages, small on height, and softbound. These cookbook pamphlets are an awesome treat to browse through. 

It's like an archeological excavation of eating patterns and trends in America.

So I got to thinking… why not try some of these recipes out? Where they ask for margarine, substitute butter. Where they ask for processed cheese, substitute real cheese. Where they ask for beef bone marrow on toast, substitute… wait, I’ll skip that recipe thank you.

Here is the first recipe I tried last night from “Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book,” dated 1947 from the United Fruit Company. This is a cookbook pamphlet dedicated entirely to the humble banana. (Or, as my almost one-year old niece Jocelyn says “Ha-nana!”)

One word regarding this recipe: Wow!

Who knew baked bananas could be so satisfying? 

And the best part is that since bananas are the #1 basket item in America, this means you always have a desert on hand! And who knew such a staple would actually be delicious? Actually that is a Walmart statistic. I just substituted Walmart with America.

BAKED BANANAS
Serves 4

Ingredients

4 firm bananas
1 ½ tablespoons melted butter or margarine
salt
brown sugar

Instructions

Peel bananas.
Place into well-greased baking dish.
Brush well with butter or margarine and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Sprinkle bananas lightly with brown sugar.
Bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees).
15 to 18 minutes, or until bananas are tender… easily pierced with a fork.
Serve hot as a vegetable (really?), or as a dessert with cream, syrup or a hot fruit sauces.

Important: When browning is desired, place the baked bananas under broiler heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

Enjoy!

Lyndi

Eat well, my friends. Eat well.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Looking for a natural chicken breast? At a good price?

Posted by Lyndi

I just can’t do it. I just can’t make myself purchase Tyson’s natural chicken. That is like saying MacDonald’s is going vegan. Or kosher. Or gourmet.

If you are like me and want to purchase chicken breasts that are not mass-produced and over-exposed to chemicals and poor living conditions and yet are not willing to pay through the nose, then I have a great discovery to share with you! Get in your car, turn on the engine, and head on over to Cooks Natural Market in Rogers where you can buy chicken breasts for $3.99 per lb.

Since I am a sucker for packaging, I have Wayne the Butcher wrap my chicken in white butcher paper. Two breasts to a package so they can stack neatly in my freezer. Nice and orderly. The way I like it.

Cooks Natural Market is located in historic downtown Rogers at 726 W Walnut St. (corner of W. Walnut and 71B/8th Street). Hours are M-F 9:00-6:00 and Saturdays 9:00-5:00.

US Pizza has gluten-free pizza on the menu. Don’t get excited, it’s more like a large cracker.


Posted by Lyndi

Since I gave up wheat years ago, pizza joints aren’t high on my restaurant to-do list.

However, when my husband orders a fluffy ever-lovin’ goey deliciousness pizza, I beg him to let me at least get a good sniff out of it! And boy, talk about nose candy! Does anything smell better than a delicious slice of piping-hot pizza? Anyone?

Imagine my surprise and delight to drive past US Pizza on Dickson Street in Fayetteville and see posted on their street sign: GLUTEN FREE CRUST AND BEER. Yippeee!!! Finally!!!

Sorry to say, the happiness turned to disappointment once the pizza arrived: flat and tasteless. Although I have to admit I ordered the cheeseburger pizza which, lo and behold, came sans the pizza sauce. It came with mustard sauce. Mustard sauce? Not good. IF (big IF) I go back and try this again I would definitely order the pesto chicken topping. Then I would be expecting something besides a bite of delicious slice of piping-hot pizza.
If you are expecting a big fluffy pizza pie, this entrée is not for you. If you want to have a cracker-topped chicken pesto dish, then this may be for you.

For now, all my fellow gluten-free foodies, stick to the Kinnikik brand of pre-made frozen pizza and make your own in the comfort of your home. At least until we can locate someplace that has it figured out! If you know of a local pizza joint or restaurant that makes a good gluten-free crust, let us know!

Oh, the gluten-free beer? SOUL SATISFYING! Now, that would be worth the visit!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"She brings her food from afar.”

Posted by Lyndi

There is a passage in the book of Proverbs that I have always found fascinating. It is the chapter about the virtuous woman who is physically and mentally strong. She capably runs her household and is full of wisdom and gets things done.

The verse that I have always found fascinating is verse 14:

“She is like the merchants’ ships; she brings her food from afar.”


Love that.

The verse is talking about carefully planning and purchasing food. That is inspiring to me because I am not always 100% consistent in planning out our meals each day. Secondly, I like to think that she enjoyed unique and interesting foods and ways to prepare them. Even though this takes places before the birth of Jesus Christ and store fronts such as Trader Joes and Williams-Sonoma, the mere mention of she is “like the merchant’s ships” tells me that her menus were varied and went beyond the weekly repeats. So, she is still inspiring to the modern woman, no?

Ways we can be “like the merchants’ ships” and bring our food “from afar...

1. Carefully plan ahead. I know I do much better when I write down my meal plans for the week. It allows me to create a better shopping list and also always me not worry about “what’s for dinner” when I get home each day.

2. Schedule eating-out time. I’m talking about challenging yourself to reconsider fast food. Make it an adventure by trying out a new restaurant or an old favorite. The thing to remember is to give yourself a way to make eating out a looked-forward to event.

3. Purchase foods with less processed ingredients. Now THAT takes careful planning. Your local Walmart has many great foods that can be considered an adventure. Take olive oils for instance. There is always a better-best option. Instead of just olive oil, try the extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressed. As nature intended it.

4. Pay attention to ingredients. I used to carelessly purchased granola-type bars each weeks so I could always have food on hand. When I started looking at the ingredients, I was shocked at how many unpronounceable items were in there. So, I made that conscious choice to stop. Now I bring apples and slices of almond cheese to work as a snack. Simple ingredients. Planned ahead of time.

5. Shake it up. Shop somewhere else. Conduct your own retail safaris. I am bound and determined to try out the local Hispanic grocery stores. When a friend turned me on to Hong Son Oriental Market in Rogers, I discovered a great deal on shallots and it is now my bi-weekly stop. Who knows what other culinary surprises await me! And of course, I will share them all with you!


I hope you found this helpful. I know I intend on slowing down and enjoy the process more when it comes to planning, shopping, and preparing food from now on.

After all, isn’t food one of the main things in life that sustain us?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Like sushi? Blu Fin Restaurant offering private sushi lessons.

Posted by Lyndi

While I am not a sushi lover, I know many of you are. And very passionate lovers of sushi!

Here is something new for you…

Blu Fin Restaurant in Springdale and Fayetteville are offering private sushi lessons for only $30 per person. Spend one-on-one time with owner Jonathan Park learning how to prepare great rolls, receive your prepared meal, sushi kit, and a certificate to purchase fresh produce from the restaurant. Sounds like a great time to me!

This offer was published in the December 2009 issue of CitiScapes Metro Monthly and their “Best of NWA 2009” issue. Blu Fin was just recognized as runner-up for Best Japanese Cuisine in Northwest Arkansas.

Two locations in NWA:

- 522 W. Dickson Street, Fayetteville at 479-444-8122
- 4276 W. Sunset, Springdale at 479-717-2877

- Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11am-2pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-2pm/4:30-10pm; Sunday, 12-2pm/4:30-9pm

Favor to ask my readers: If you have been to Blu Fin and have a dish that you absolutely love, let us know!

Now Walmart has a gluten-free section, in Rogers!

Posted by Lyndi


Hello fellow gluten-free foodies! Did you know that the Walmart Neighborhood Market at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers has a 4ft section of gluten-free products?


Assortment and brands are varied across categories: crackers, pasta, rice, cookies, cereal, flour, bread, pretzels, and rice chips. I have no idea where they are getting their assortment insights from but I do see some of my favorites: Glutino® brand crackers and Pasta Joy® brand rice pasta to name two.


Next time you visit the Pinnacle Hills Promenade, head across the highway to visit this Neighborhood Market. It is located on the newly opened Pauline Whitaker Parkway, between Pinnacle Country Club and I-540. It’s unlike any other one with low-profile shelves, an inside Starbucks, gelato station, koser foods, hormone-free chicken, and more. They even have a butcher on-premise -- my sources tell me they are serviced by Bentonville Butcher.


Check it out!

Today Only! GREAT DEAL on Cuisinart Mixer at Williams-Sonoma!

Posted by Lyndi


I just HAVE to share this with you!


Today in my in-box I received a 1-day exclusive deal from Williams-Sonoma: A Cuisinart 9-speed hand mixer with brushed chrome for $49.95! Suggested price is $145.00. Wow! I hope they don’t run out before I am able to snag one! Offer ends tonight at midnight, PST. Hurry! Hurry!


Good news to those who do not live near a Williams Sonoma. This offer is available online as well.


What’s available with this mixer?


-Nine speeds to suit the task at hand.
-Electronic sensor automatically maintains speed regardless of resistance from batter.
-Digital control pad displays beater speed at a glance.
-Digital count-up timer tracks mixing time.
-Smooth-start feature eliminates splattering and wafting flour.
-High speeds are ideal for cream, egg whites and meringues.
-Low speeds mix heavy doughs, frostings and batters.
-
Includes extra-long beaters, whisk attachment, dough hook and spatula.



Happy shopping!

Monday, December 7, 2009

One-night only: Cooking class at Soul restaurant

Posted by Lyndi

It is billed as “the greatest cooking class of ALL TIME” by Chef Brooks and Case from Soul restaurant in Fayetteville are hosting their December cooking class this Tuesday, December 8th at 7pm. If you have never experienced the cuisine at Soul restaurant, you are truly missing out! Especially delicious are the unique and clean-tasting cocktails that Case creates.

Class description from http://www.soulrl.com/ email newsletter:

Don't Hate Us Because We're Delicious!
Let the Soul Men Inspire you with their December Cooking Class...
Nouveau Christmas Dinner Ideas
Tuesday, December 8th at 7pm.


A veritable Holiday Package of great New Ideas for your Christmas Dinner and Holiday Party. Brooks shows you the newest and coolest techniques for turning old ideas into new and exciting favorites, while Case will be Ho, Ho, Ho-ing it up with a score of innovative adult beverages. Tis the season to be gluttonous, so call to book your place at the Soul Table for this ONE NIGHT ONLY CLASS today!
479-442-0800

Soul restaurant is located at 3878 N. Crossover Road in Fayetteville (close to the Walmart Neighborhood Market). Open Tuesday-Sunday. Lunch: Tues-Fri 11am-2pm; Dinner: Tues-Thur 5pm-10pm and Lounge open until 11pm; Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm; Sunday Brunch: 10am-2pm

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shhh… I am sharing my super-secret marinated lamb recipe.

Posted by Lyndi

We have a Thanksgiving tradition in our family: marinated leg of lamb. If you love the taste of lamb, you will love this easy recipe. If you do not love the taste of lamb… you may tolerate this recipe but let’s face it – you will probably never be a lamb convert.

For all you fellow lovers of prepared lamb, this one’s for you!

Lamb Marinade

Ingredients

For 3 lbs of lean lamb: cut in 1-inch cubes
1 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
1 bay leaf

Instructions

Mix the ingredients.
Put the lamb cubes in the marinade and place in the refrigerator for 12 hours.
Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Pour lamb (including marinade) into heated skillet and sauté until cooked, approximately 15-20 minutes depending on your preference. Taste-test recommended! Sautéed lamb will have a grey color to it when finished.

From The Low Carbohydrates Dieter’s Cookbook by William Thorne Pinnacle books © 1973

Williams-Sonoma class today at Noon: Hosting a Cookie Exchange

Posted by Lyndi

If you are heading out to the mall today, consider stopping by the Williams-Sonoma store in the Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers for the following complimentary technique class.

Today, December 6th at 12:00 p.m. (lasts about :45 minutes)


Class description: Hosting a Cookie Exchange
Are you hosting a cookie exchange or attending one? This class is a must! A cookie exchange is a wonderful way to entertain your friends and family during the holidays [actually anytime of the year, in my opinion!] – and to sample a variety of sweets. We’ll offer tips on how to host one and also share our favorite cookie recipes.

Check out Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante!

Posted by Lyndi

There is a new restaurant in Rogers that is… get this… not a chain. It is called Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante and they "serve foods of Ecuador and Latin America with southern hospitality." This is the same Rolando’s restaurant located in Fort Smith and Hot Springs.

Shout-out to victormoralesPR who told me about this place, otherwise it may have taken me awhile to locate it. Located in historic downtown Rogers in the old Stogie’s shop, it is a gem of location and the food is a gem of flavors, too.

As soon as we were served the chips and salsa, we immediately knew we weren’t in your average Latin restaurant. The homemade corn chips were crisp and warm and the salsa was more of a relish with tomatoes and corn. Very yummy. I ordered the Pollo Chuchaqui ($8.75 lunch; $15.95 dinner) and I will order this dish again and again. Consisting of chicken tenderloins marinated in a Cuban moja, the chicken tasted more like a chicken marsala, thinly sliced. Just how I like it. The tenderloins were sautéed in a lime and wine sauce with roma tomatoes, onions, and celery. All served over rice with black beans and cheese (sans the cheese for me). My husband order the chicken tamales (photo above) and they were a perfect blend of corn meal and meat. Just right.

Presentation seems to be an important part of the meal at Rolando’s. While you may be surprised at the entrée dinner costs, the food is exceptional and the presentation makes you feel pampered so it is well worth the price. Besides, we have all been to the chains where entrees are the same price yet you know as soon as you are served that you’ve been had with pre-made food.

Rolando’s is located at 224 South 2nd street and W Elm Street in historic downtown Rogers (across from Las Palmas). Easiest way to get there is to go East on Walnut from Hwy 540 and take a right on 2nd Street. You can reach them at 479-621-1002. Open daily for lunch and dinner, even on Sundays!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Did you know you can buy spices at Acropolis?

Posted by Lyndi

Every once and awhile I get in the mood for a gyro omelet and head over to Acropolis restaurant in Bentonville. Imagine my surprise and delight to see spices and other Mediterranean ingredients and products for sale in the lobby! Plus, they are really great prices, too.

Here is a sample of some of the items stocked:

Sadaf brand in 2oz containers for $2.99: Cumin, Tandoori, Garam Marsala, and Ginger. There is also Dill Weed, Basil and Parsley for $3.99 in bulk packaging. Tumeric is also available in large size container. I purchased the Dill Weed and split it up in Ziploc® snack bags so I could share with my family.

Other Mediterranean items include: Sour Cherry Syrup, tabouli, Persian noodles, and more. Essentially, if you plan on making a Greek or Mediterranean dish, be sure to check out the selection at Acropolis.

Acropolis restaurant is located on the corner of N Walton Blvd. and NW 13th Street in Bentonville, close to Fred’s Hickory Inn restaurant. Hours are Monday & Tuesday 6:30-2pm; Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 6:30-2pm and 5:00-9:00pm; Sataurday 8:00-2:00pm and 5:00-9:00pm and Sunday 8:00-2:00pm.
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