Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Homemade Chicken Pho in the Crockpot!!

This bowl of pho is a work of art you can eat!
In the deep freeze we have had lately that makes us look at 32 degrees as a heat wave, something warm is always desirable on the menu, but you can get tired of the same soups and stews. When my daughter suggested that we go out for pho before payday,I wondered if we could make our own pho and avoid the cost and going out in the frigid weather.  It turns out you can make a respectable pho at home!!!

I think of pho kind of like ramen -  the broth is key and it takes an expert touch and tons of time, but it turns out that there wee several recipes for pho that you can make at home.  When I saw one on the Eating Well site that used a crockpot, I figured it was worth a try. I didn't follow the recipe exactly- I used half chicken broth and half miso broth from paste, I had star anise, which I increased, a chunk of fresh ginger and a cinnamon stick and cloves as called for. I also added a dried Tsien Tsien pepper I had from a trip to Penzey's Spices, thinking that would add a little heat.  I used boneless skinless thighs from Costco since that was what I had. I set on high for four hours and when I got home, my house smelled amazing!! I pulled the chicken pieces out and shredded them and then got all the add-ins ready.  We got baby bok choy, cilantro, sliced baby bella mushrooms, firm tofu that we browned lightly on all sides, and fresh bean sprouts.  Everyone put what they wanted in their bowls and then added the fragrant broth and ....success!!!  I felt
like Brittany Murphy in The Ramen Girl- the broth was complex with spicyness, and a touch of sweetness and heat.  The perfect thing to break the winter doldrums.

I can't wait to try a beef version, I think it would be amazing as well.  If you are looking for something different, a bit exotic and still healthy, give pho a try at home- it was pho-king amazing!!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Preparing for the Polar Vortex 2 - A Rerun

Since people are in a frenzy preparing for the next winterblast hear on the East Coast, I am bringing back this post on grocery shopping for a storm-  Love to hear your observations as you wait in grocery lines- your cart or those around you!!!  Be safe!!!

http://play-with-food.blogspot.com/2008/01/snow-day.html

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fish on Friday.... and other Food-Related Traditions

I was out with my husband for a quick romantic lunch (Filet O Fish at McDonald's) and the idea of fish or
This is us on a real date, not McDonald's!
seafood on Friday came up with the manager while we were waiting on our food.  While I know that fish on Friday used to be very prevalent in the Catholic community, it turns out that according to the manager at this McDonald's they do sell significantly more fish on Friday!

We started this as a family tradition and while we usually stick to it, we have been known to use a substitute meatless day. There are many advantages.  Healthwise it is good to increase consumption of fish, and cooking wise, it is a good idea to learn other ways to incorporate proteins without meat.  It requires a little creativity, but that is good in the kitchen, right?

Do any of you have a specific meatless day or any other special food traditions that you follow in your household?  Share... I am interested, and I know others will be too!

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Food , Luck and New Year's Resolutions!!!

I guess it should be no surprise that food is a big part of the start of our new year as it is central to our day to day lives. Resolutions often involve food as people resolve to "eat healthier", "cut out junk food","eat more fish", "increase fiber" or "eat more fruits and vegetables". Diets and exercise are the most common new year's resolutions as people strive to reduce their waistlines and increase their lifespan.  There are even "lucky" foods to eat for the new year such as collards or other greens that bring wealth, or black eyed peas that bring luck and prosperity.  We credit food for feeling and looking good, and blame food if we gain a pound or feel dragged down.

This year, I want to encourage readers to make a different kind of New Year's resolution- to develop and
maintain a healthy relationship with food.  There is a reason that we have high obesity and record numbers of young people with eating disorders AT THE SAME TIME!!!!  In moderation, there are no "good" or "bad" foods.This attitude can encourage both over eating and restrictive food behaviors, neither of which are healthy. This year, try having a variety of foods, prepare and experiment with new foods and ingredients, make the choosing, preparing and cooking a part of the overall meal experience. Eat your meals in a thoughtful and quiet way without the distractions of computer TV or smartphones so that you can savor the amazing variety of foods that the earth provides. There is a place for ice cream, steak or even french fries in a diverse meal plan that will help you reach a weight that is healthy for you and enhance your relationship with food. Superfoods like berries or greens are great, but a healthy diet includes them, not focuses on them.  There is a reason man is an omnivore - our bodies are meant to take nutrients from a variety of sources. Balance and diversity are as important to our food lives as they are to the rest of our lives, so make them the keystone of your food-related resolutions this year, and for once you may find you have set a resolution you can stick with not just for the new year but for life!!!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jose Andres for a Cause

Groupon and Living Social offer so many great food-related opportunities, but here is one that I wish I could take advantage of. a Jose Andres Culinary tour of Penn Quarter in DC.  Somebody please go and take pictures ;)

What fun, you get to kick off with appetizers and apps then hit Penn Quarter's array of participating restaurants Azur, Oyamel, Jaleo, Proof, Zaytinya, and Poste for special plates and cocktails.  Sound amazing? Yeah, it does to me too!  And the best part is proceeds go to Jose's non profit efforts with World Central Kitchen to address hunger and poverty.  For $99, it is a steal!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

To Refrigerate or not to Refrigerate? Reader's Digest Answers that Question

I often get press releases and other information about food related products, articles and books, but this one really surprised me.  I looked at this slideshow from Reader's Digest and was surprised that I had a number of misconceptions.  Check out the slide show, but first test yourself and see how you do:

Which of these items should be refrigerated:  hot sauce, ripe bananas, maple syrup, tomatoes, bread

No peeking and see how many you got right!
http://www.rd.com/slideshows/food-storage-guidelines-you-didnt-know/#slideshow=slide1

Monday, April 29, 2013

NYC, Here They Come Again - Dowds Are Taking Manhattan

Bridget making the selection of Kirk Cousins on ESPN
Bridget with legend Ken Harvey and Commissioner Goodell.
You may remember that my daughter Bridget won a contest sponsored by Verizon  last year to participate in the NFL Draft where she became, to our knowledge, the first woman to make a televised draft pick.  It was the trip of a lifetime, staying in the center of Times Square, rubbing elbows with athletes, media reps, and enjoying all the excitement that the Draft and New York holds. The highlight of her time at the Draft was the opportunity to announce a draft pick for the Redskins, where she shared the stage with Redskins legend Ken Harvey and Football Commissioner Roger Goodell. She so impressed the Redskins that they asked her to announce two other picks as well, including Kirk Cousins, which was controversial at the time, but turned out to be quite strategic when RG III was hurt later in the season.

So what does this have to do with food? Well, Bridget is headed back to the Draft again to participate  with the Skins, sitting at the table during their picks.  This time since she is paying her way, she will be taking the train instead of flying and will have to wait in line for free tickets instead of having VIP tickets that include special seating and non-stop food and drink.

On a budget, she will need to find good food in walking distance to either the hotel or the Radio City Music Hall. And that is where I come in. Last year when she and her dad were headed to the Big Apple I researched places they could go for a good cup of coffee, where they could find pizza, even where they could attend Mass after the day's activities were over. Besides sending out a call to my fellow bloggers, I hit Yelp and TripAdvisor where you can search for just about anything, including restaurants, by location, by cost and by food type (Asian, Italian, Pub, etc). It was a great resource since it carries reviews from people who have been there.  For bloggers, TripAdvisor also encourages reviews of restaurants and allows people who read them to state whether they are helpful or not, which gives you a feel for the reliability of the reviews.
Junior's in Times Square is famous for its cheesecake!

My research last time was very successful- Junior's turned out to be a convenient place with good food. Evergreen Coffee Shop became my husband's  favorite place to grab coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and Patzeria Perfect Pizza provided an opportunity to have a real New York slice.  I know my recommendations were good because the only time that they went out on their own, they couldn't decide and ended up grabbing some mediocre pizza in Hell's Kitchen.

More from their adventure to come, and if you want to read Bridget's more sports-focused account check out her blog at Girly Girl's Guide to Football.