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13

Jan

For The Love Of Fondue!

Hey Foodies!

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I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m writing about fondue? It’s not a food and it’s not a dish. But it is a WAY to eat food. And a really fun way at that.

The reason I write about fondue today is simply because I just did exactly that! My foodie friends and I spent some time at Bread & Chocolate in Old Town, Alexandria (and how convenient that my boyfriend works there too!), and happened to have their delicious ganache-based fondue. 

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Now, I’ve had my fair share of fondue in my life, so you could say I’m a bit of a pro (not at all, I just eat a lot), and I love trying new flavors of cheese, chocolate, oils, etc. In fact, my all time favorite restaurant is The Melting Pot. Yes, I KNOW, it’s a chain, but I love it so much not just because of the actual fondue, but because of the event based around it. If you’ve ever been to The Melting Pot, it is like a 3 hour ordeal, so go with people you enjoy spending time with.

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I also love the fact that you can make every course in it as well. A cheese course for an appetizer (my Stepmom found this great Swiss cheese at the grocery store that works really well…I wish I could remember the name), flavored oil or broth for the main course (use seafood, beef, chicken, vegetables), and last but not least, the dessert course. Now all of you that know me know how bad my sweet tooth can be, so this is definitely my favorite part of the meal. I love how you can use any type of chocolate, mix it with other flavors, and dip in so many different types of foods in. The dippers….now that’s what makes fondue. You could dip in almost anything for the dessert round - fruit, graham crackers, marshmallows, pretzels, shortbread. The list goes on and on. And who DOESN’T like everything dipped in chocolate!? 

So for all of you that have never done fondue, do it. Now. Like, right now. Get all your friends and make a party out of it. It’s great for game nights, sports games, and even cocktail parties. And remember, it is about the food, but even more about the company.

Until next time, my fabulous foodies, happy eating!

-THE FOOD EXPERIMENT

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06

Jan

Let’s Go Nuts For Nuts!

The blog is BACK! I know, it’s been a while, but so many new and exciting things in my life have taken place, that I was even too busy for the blog!

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Let’s jump right back into the wonderful world of food, starting out with a really great item: NUTS.

Nuts are quite an interesting topic, for various reasons. Firstly, there are so many to choose from! Peanuts, Cashews, and Almonds (my personal favorite). Macadamia, Brazil, and Pecan. What’s even better is how much you can do with them - salted, candied, and toasted, to name a few. Nuts are such a versatile food, how could you NOT eat them every day? (Except for those who are allergic, like my cousin Tim or my best friend Emily. Sorry guys!)

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For many of you that know me, I work in the Admissions Department at an Art College. I am more or less known as the “snack lady”. I have a whole drawer dedicated to snacks that keep me from those hunger pangs we often get in the middle of the day. These snacks include: Special K cereal, graham crackers, granola bars, and of course, nuts (they are now my favorite item in my drawer, so I restock them every week). 

The reason I’m writing about nuts today is because they’ve recently became a big part of my life. I have been taking better care of myself, in regards to the amount of exercise I get and the food I eat. It’s been giving me more energy and the ability to fit in those jeans again (thanks a lot holidays!). As a part of my “new way of life”, I have been eating nuts every single day. I always have a handful in between breakfast and lunch. It really keeps me focused and full before I hit the phone for the day.

Nuts are great for you because they are:

-Heart Healthy

-Great source of Vitamin E

-Full of fiber

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Some people do forget, though, about moderation. When it comes to nuts, this is no exception. Nuts can be SO good for you, but can be SO bad for you if you eat too many. So eat just a handful a day, and keep yourself fit and fabulous!

Here are a couple of great nut recipes I go nuts for:

Salted Nut Bars: http://www.bakeyourday.net/how-to-host-a-holiday-baking-party-recipe-salted-nut-bars/

Apricots with Basil Coat Cheese and Almonds: http://www.bakeyourday.net/how-to-host-a-holiday-baking-party-recipe-salted-nut-bars/

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Clusters: http://www.marthastewart.com/274693/christmas-candy-assortment/@center/276952/christmas-candy-recipes#281666

"I think being a little nuts is helpful" - Carter Burwell

Until next time - Happy Eating!

THE FOOD EXPERIMENT

22

Jul

Somethin’ Salty

Salt. Such a simple seasoning, right? That one ingredient has revolutionized the world of food, and has recently exploded on the scene. 

Salt has been around since the beginning of time, and has helped preserve and create a new depth of flavor for food. It even used to hold monetary value (in Rome!), and is used in every household, state, country, and continent. 

So, say you get a piece of steak. You grill it, along with some potatoes. You sit down and begin to eat, and put the first piece of steak in your mouth. The first flavor you’re going to get? Nothing.

Why?

UNLESS the food already contains salt (like panchetta or ham), salt is essential. It takes the already wonderful flavor of steak, and takes it to a whole other level. Now, some people like very little salt, some people like a lot of salt. It just depends on your personal taste, but everyone needs salt in their life. 

Salt is now making its way into the world of sweets. Who would have guessed…sweet and salty? But, the combination is sensational, and honestly indescribable. It has a way of, again, taking that sweet note and enhancing that flavor to a whole other level. Let me guess, you’re thinking “duh Dana, chocolate covered pretzels have been around forever. That’s nothing new”. Yes, that IS true, but the new sweet and salty trend is now in a whole other category by itself. Flavors like Sea Salt Caramel and Chocolate Covered Bacon are letting salt strut its stuff. Not only is regular salt popular, but salts like Hawaiian salt and Fleur De Sel are sweeping the food scene like never before. And I’m embracing it 100%.

I’ve been experimenting with salt a lot lately, with cookies, cheeses, bacon, etc. But, what I found to be the most unique is salted brownies. I made these brownies for the office last week, just adding a little finishing salt when they came out of the oven. I told no one at work what I had added, and a ton of people at the office came up to me and said “those brownies were so good! What is it that you added to it?” No one could figure it out! Something so simple made that much of a difference, and no one could decipher that swift little ingredient: salt. 

Take some time this week and make some of these recipes:

Bacon Chocolate Chip Biscotti:

 http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/03/bacon-chocolate-chip-biscotti.html

Beer Caramel Ice Cream:

http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/08/scooped-beer-salted-caramel-ice-cream-recipe.html

Salted Caramel Shortbread Cups:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/10/salted-caramel-shortbread-cups-recipe.html

Salt may be an everyday ingredient, but it makes food come alive. Not so simple anymore, is it?

"Let there be salt for all" - Nelson Mandela

Happy Eating!

-The Food Experiment

15

Jul

Mikey, He Likes It!

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? 

Okay, BESIDES the “oh shit, I have to get up” thought that crosses everyone’s mind. 

It SHOULD be “What am I going to eat today?”

Yes, I know we’ve discussed this already. Some people aren’t breakfast people, I get it. But for those of you that do, choosing a breakfast meal can be difficult. Some love their eggs, some love their oatmeal, but most…most love cereal. 

Think back to your childhood. Yeah, WAYYY back. What did you eat growing up? Cereal. In fact, for most of us, it has followed us throughout our entire lives. It’s also one of those foods that never, ever get old. 

My favorite thing about cereal is the fact that it can fit into anyone’s lives. Looking to lower your cholesterol? Buy some Cheerios! Or how about increasing your Fiber? Buy some Bran Flakes or Fiber One cereal! Want a sweet treat? Reese’s Cereal, or COOOOOOOKIE CRISP could be your type of cereal. It’s for any lifestyle, any time of day, and can fulfill any craving. 

My favorite cereal, which my brother and I absolutely loved (and still do) growing up, were Oh’s. They’re shaped like Cheeriso, but thicker and coated in this amazing sugar substance. Then where the O gap is in the cereal, they fill it with graham crackers, sugar, and crack. Okay, it’s not ACTUALLY crack, but it could be…maybe that’s why I’m so addicted. I also have a “thing” about my cereal getting soggy. I like to eat my cereal while I’m doing something else (doing my hair, reading, etc), so I like that the actual cereal stays hard. And every time I eat this cereal, it leaves the most wonderful aftertaste in my mouth. I can’t get enough of this cereal, and I would do anything in the world for it. 

Ever wonder which cereals were the most popular? If not, you’re thinking about it now!

5. Frosted Mini Wheats

      And now they have all different types of flavors such as chocolate and other fruit flavors. YUM.

4. Frosted Flakes

      This cereal is GRREEAATTTTTTT! And who doesn’t love that tiger?

3. Honey Bunches of Oats

      Also one of my favorite cereals. The flavor combinations are unreal.

2. Special K

       Delicious AND healthier for you than some cereals. A+ !

1. Cheerios

       Because who doesn’t love Cheerios. They revolutionized the cereal industry!

Some enjoy cereal for a midnight snack, and others enjoy theirs with a glass of wine. However you plan to eat your cereal, really savor the flavors…and find out what is it about that cereal that you like and enjoy so much. 

"Like religion, politics, and family planning, cereal is not a topic to be brought up in public. It’s too controversial." - Erma Bombeck

Happy Eating!

- The Food Experiment

22

Jun

Food Truckin’ It

Ever been to DC? Philly? NYC? Rather, any city? Then you know exactly what a food truck is.

Food trucks have EXPLODED on the food scene in the past couple years. They’re becoming more and more of a staple when people come to the city, and for good reason. These trucks are raising the bar for restaurants all over the city. Why? Because it’s unique, simple, CHEAP, and absolutely delicious.

There is also something to be said about being able to walk down the street, having the option of getting some of the best food A La Carte (“on the fly”), and NOT having to wait in line at a restaurant, that is just so appealing. 

These trucks are whipping up foods like BBQ, Thai, Donuts, Pizza, Crepes, Whoopie Pies, and Mexican. And that’s not even making a dent into the realm of what food trucks can offer.

And trust me on this one, NOT every truck is created equal! In fact, it’s hard to find the good ones. It takes some serious time to find the “oh my god that’s good” trucks. They even have apps now that can point you to the nearest truck, so you can truly become part of their fan-base. Ever heard of food truck groupies? :)

Many shows are now based around some of the best food trucks in the US, such as Eat St. and The Great Food Truck Race. According to Smithsonian.com, some of the most popular trucks in the Continental US are as follows:

Kogi Los Angeles, CA (Korean-Mexican fusion)

Torched Goodness Phoenix, AZ (creme brulee)

Fojol Brothers Washington, DC (a slew of different cuisines - I’VE BEEN HERE!)

GastroPod Miami, FL (Seasonal-fusion. That truck is so badass!)

Schnitzel & Things New York City, NY (Austrian-inspired)

Check out the other trucks here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/The-20-Best-Food-Trucks-in-the-United-States.html?c=y&page=10&navigation=next#IMAGES

All in all, if you’re visiting a city, be SURE to check out the local food trucks and see them for all of their delectable glory. You might just find some of the best hidden food gems :)

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Happy Eating!

-The Food Experiment

12

Jun

Breaking The Bread

What is more comforting than bread? How about WARM bread? Mmm, talk about satisfying!

Have you ever made bread before? Kneading the dough, putting it in a hot oven, watching it bake? If you haven’t, stop what you’re doing. Put DOWN the laptop and make some bread. Oh my gosh, it is worth every second of labor. 

And you know what I love Italian restaurants for? Their delicious bottomless bread basket, and their sweet EVOO (as Rachael Ray would claim). Dunking that warmed, crusted bread into olive oil, letting the flavors come together so harmoniously. Nothing gets better than that. 

Don’t get me wrong - I LOVE hearty breads. Whole wheat, sourdough, rye. But, WOW do I love sweet breads. Don’t tell me you’re surprised! Banana Bread - that’s a weakness of mine. And have you ever heard of Sweet Potato Bread? Google it, AND make it. It’s intoxicating. 

If only bread wasn’t so full of carbs, we’d eat it all day, every day…right? Well, I know I would. So here are some recipes to get you started: 

Multi-Grain Bread: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hearty-multigrain-bread/

Sweet Potato Bread: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sweet-potato-bread-i/

Banana Banana Bread: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/banana-banana-bread/

This week, focus on the type of breads you’re eating. You’ll be shocked as to how much is-bread based, and how many carbs we actually consume in a day! Not that I’m complaining :)

"Eaten bread is never forgotten" - Thomas Fuller

Until next time, Happy Eating!

-The Food Experiment

03

Jun

Crazy For Cooooookies!

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “bake”?

We’re talking about food here, people. 

YES! COOKIES!

Nothing is more classic than a chocolate chip cookie - they never seem to get old. And how could they? They’re chewy, rich, and chocolatey. Is there really anything better than that?

How many of you think your Mom’s cookies are the best? (Okay, my Stepmom’s cookies are not the best, but she makes them from a box…so, you understand.) But, yes..there IS a reason for that! It’s what you grew up on, so of course they’re your favorite. 

Remember receiving cookies in the mail from Mom (or your boyfriend’s Mom, in my case), or coming home from a hard day at school/work, and smelling the aroma of freshly baked cookies? Oh yeah, I know you do. And it’s probably one of your greatest memories too. 

Cookies have this lasting impression on people, which is why they’re such a special food. They are great for any occasion (literally), they make people feel better instantly, and are so addicting, you can’t just settle for one. Maybe more like 15. Or 20.

Have any fab recipes you want to share? I have a couple worth writing home about: 

Yes, it’s Food Network, but these are GOOD

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/chocolate-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/index.html

Chocolate Crackled Cookies - these are GRREATTTT

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-crackled-cookies/

And yes, some of the best Chocolate Chip Cookies I’ve had:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-big-fat-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookie/

So try these this week! Make some for your honey, co-workers, or hell…yourself!

"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about 3 o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." 

Ah yes, Robert Fulghum, what a life that would be :)

Until next time, Happy Eating!

-The Food Experiment

27

May

The Wonderful World Of Pastry

Pastries.

Decadent. Flaky. Sweet. Delicate.

There is not a single negative thing you could ever say about a pastry. Oh, except maybe the calories. But, who’s counting? 

I went to a Meetup group today (not sure what Meetup is? Look it up! Meetup.com), where I hosted a Bakery Bar Crawl in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. We went to four different bakeries to get the sugar high we were looking for. To say we succeeded would be an understatement. Some pastries were better than others, but it was so much fun getting to taste so many divine pastries. 

Pastries have a way of making a really bad day into a wonderful one very, very quickly. They’re incredibly satisfying, diverse, and definitely not created equal.

My dream one day is to take some time off and travel - tasting pastries, baked goods, and the cuisines of the country. 

This blog entry is more of a drool session than me gabbing away. Here are some great pictures of some of the foods we were able to try today. Let the slobbering begin ;)

Mini Chocolate Mousse

Lemon Tart. And yes, that is a piece of lemon zest tied in a bow.

Pistachio Triangle

White Chocolate Raspberry Brownie

What a great group :)

"Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." - Ernestine Ulmer


Happy Eating!

-The Food Experiment


20

May

The Skinny On Popcorn

Can you imagine watching a movie without popcorn? I know I can’t - nor would I want too! It’s mini-sized, salty, and absolutely a staple in every American household.

I ADORE POPCORN. I love plain (buttered), but I go crazy for Kettle Corn. That sweet and salty combination is UNBELIEVABLY wonderful, and I crave it. 

I used to buy boxes and boxes of ready-to-pop popcorn, heat it up in the microwave, and risk the fact that some kernels MIGHT be burned (which we all know can very quickly ruin a batch of popcorn). Little did I know that popcorn could taste even better than that pre-packed stuff.

My lovely friend Jen taught me the RIGHT way to make popcorn. Yes, the homemade way. I know, I know..it takes a little longer. TRUST ME ON THIS. Spend 5 extra minutes making it on the stove and you will never, ever think of popcorn the same way again. 

Not only can you salt it and flavor it the way you want, but the taste of homemade popcorn is MIND BLOWING. It gives the popcorn a much crunchier, fresher flavor, which will make that 2+ hour movie even more enjoyable. Also, it is astronomically cheaper. Buying a 20 oz bag of kernels will cost you around $2, whereas a 3-pack of microwavable popcorn can cost you close to $3.50. If you eat popcorn on a regular basis, this might be a great option to save a few bucks!

Here is a great starter recipe for homemade popcorn: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/08/03/how-to-make-perfect-homemade-popcorn/

Popcorn can be a ton of fun to experiment with as well! Eating it plain is always a great route, but why not try spicing it up next time?

In the mood for something a tad sweet? Crackle Corn will satisfy that craving quick!

http://www.recipetips.com/recipe-cards/t—2808/crackle-corn.asp

Craving dessert? Chocolate and Caramel Corn will please any sweet tooth!

http://www.recipetips.com/recipe-cards/t—2730/chocolate-caramel-popcorn.asp

Wanna pack a punch in your next popcorn escapade? Try Spicy Peanut Popcorn!

http://www.recipetips.com/recipe-cards/t—2423/spicy-popcorn-and-peanuts.asp

Whichever way you like it, popcorn is an absolute must in the diet. It’s delicious, fun to eat, and not all that bad for you either. 

Wait, what? Popcorn can be healthy? 

That’s right! Popcorn actually contains a wonderful antioxidant called polyphenol. Also found in foods like fruits, chocolate, and tea, polyphenols can protect the heart and reduce the risk of cancer. WHO KNEW? 

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/popcorn-is-good-for-you-say-scientists-1773779.html

So next time you’re throwing a party or sitting down for a movie with friends and family, don’t forget that heaping bucket of salty goodness that we fondly know as popcorn.

"I’m someone who believes the only way to see a movie is in a big theater, on a big screen, with a big bag of popcorn." - Dan Glickman

Couldn’t agree more Dan. Happy Eating!

-The Food Experiment

14

May

You Better Believe I’m Screaming For Ice Cream!

Mix milk, sugar, cream, and flavoring…and what do you have? ICE CREAM!

Ice cream is such an interesting and playful food. It’s cold, creamy, and absolutely necessary on a hot day. You can fry it, shape it, and dress it up! It’s great to enjoy alone or with a big crowd - and EVERYONE can be satisfied. 

Ice cream offers you so many different textures. It can be smooth, creamy, milky, and crunchy. Sometimes all at the same time! 

Some of the most classic flavors include: Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Cookies & Cream.

But, have you heard of these wacky flavors? Bacon, Goat Cheese with Cherries, Balsamic Strawberry, and even BEER ice cream!

The point I’m trying to make is how ice cream can be mixed to make so many different flavor combinations and be so fantastic. It’s experimental, risky, and downright delicious

As some of you might know, ice cream has a very special place in my heart. I worked at an ice cream shop, Zwahlen’s Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, for 5 years, and it was some of the best years of my life. It is also the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. Why was it so good? First, Zwahlen’s only makes 3 flavors of ice cream every day. Vanilla, Chocolate, and the Flavor of the Day. Many customers would always ask “why just 3 flavors?” Because at Zwahlen’s, not only was it made on sight, but they only used the freshest of ingredients. Therefore, they wanted to focus on QUALITY, not QUANTITY. Which I can appreciate. 

Their vanilla is unlike anything I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. The second the ice cream hits your tongue, there’s the VANILLA! BAM! Then the milk and cream hit the roof of your mouth, producing the silkiest, creamiest texture you’ve ever had. Every single flavor note is obvious and pure in every bite, and comes together so harmoniously. Now that’s what real ice cream is supposed to taste like. 

When it comes to ice cream, Zwahlen’s does it right. Located in Audubon, PA, this is an absolute must for sweet treats and decadent desserts. Check it out for yourself! You’ll never look at ice cream the same way: www.zwahlens.com.

One of my favorite memories of ice cream was when I was a little girl, maybe around 10 or 11 years old. I would spend every summer at my Aunt Judy’s house playing with my cousins. Every once in a while, my Aunt would give us ice cream. We would all stand in line, waiting for our empty cones to be filled with whatever wonderful ice cream my Aunt decided to buy that week.

One time, after we had all waited in line for our ice cream, we ran outside with our freshly scooped ice cream and started to devour it. Kelly was the youngest of the family, so she got her ice cream last. She sat on the playground swing, ready to focus on eating her cold treat. As she eagerly went to take her first bite, her mouth knocked over the entire ball of ice cream on the ground. All we heard next was her wail of cries - after all, who wouldn’t cry after dropping their ice cream? (“Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.” - Jim Fiebig)

We all still remember and tell that story to this day :)

Tell me about a time you had some of the best ice cream you’ve ever eaten. Where was it from? What notes and flavors of the ice cream did you notice first? 

"Ice Cream is happiness condensed" - Jessi Lane Adams

Happy Eating!

-The Food Experiment