Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fresh Basil and Tomato Pasta - #SundaySupper Dishes in Five Ingredients or Less


This weeks #SundaySupper is such a great concept - 5 ingredients or less. As soon as I heard the theme, I knew what I had to make: Fresh Basil & Tomato Pasta
In April, 2010, People Magazine featured a recipe from a NYC restaurant with Jay Z and Beyonce's favorite pasta recipe. At the time, I was living in Daytona Beach and had weekly girls nights on Wednesdays. We sometimes went out, but mostly we made dinner, watched TV and drank a lot of wine. Boy do I miss those Wednesdays! I cannot recall the name of the Chef or the restaurant, but the recipe featured has been my go to pasta recipe for over 2 years now. Gabe, who is not a fan of spaghetti, LOVES this recipe. One tip, make sure you use fresh pasta. If you cannot make it at home, you can cheat like I do with Buitoni Cut Pasta. Also, do not use canned tomatoes.It's an easy out, and using fresh tomatoes is easy. Here's how:

PEELING & SEEDING DICING (why did that title just make me think of Christian Grey?)
Start off with peeling and seeding your plum tomatoes. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside. Place a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. While your water is boiling, make a shallow X on the bottom of the tomatoes. Once your water comes to a boil, drop 5-6 in and watch for the skin to start peeling (around 1 min). Put the tomatoes into the ice bath for 5 minutes, and repeat with the remaining tomatoes.Peel away!
PS- aren't my nails cute? They are Sally Hansen Salon Effects - best invention EVER
Do you see the light yellowish line on the tomato in the bottom right photo? That is where you need to make your first slice. Then cut into fourths. This makes the perfect cut, easier seeding and perfect dicing. Get rid of the inner chamber and seeds. Now dice your tomatoes! The hardest part of this recipe is over! Pour yourself a glass of wine and carry on.
I must add - this is the ONLY recipe that I have not recreated into my own. I do not add anything extra, I leave it just the way it is: Perfection.

5 INGREDIENTS: Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and basil
  1. 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 16oz peeled, halved and seeded
  3. 1/2 cup freshly grated parmiagiano-reggiano
  4. 6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly
  5. 1 lb spaghetti
  6. (Seasonings don't count as an ingredient) Pinch of crushed red pepper Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
DIRECTIONS
In a wide pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes and season lightly with salt and pepper. Let cook for a few minutes until tomatoes start to soften. Using a potato masher, smash the tomatoes finely. Cook 20-25 minutes until sauce is thickened. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Drain pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Add pasta to sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons until pasta is just tender. If the sauce seems a little thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. Take pan off heat and toss in basil and cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 4
Source(s): People Magazine


Join us, September 30th, 2012 as we share our delicious, mouth-watering recipes! Here’s a sneak peak at what everyone is bringing to our #SundaySupper table. Be sure to stay after dinner at 7pm EST as we share our recipes during our #SundaySupper live chat!

Breakfast, Starters, Butters and Jams:
Main Dishes:
Desserts:
Beverages:
Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm(Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite 5 Ingredient Recipes! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!  We’d also love to feature your easy go to recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Run with extra heart to help fund the fight against childhood obesity


I received an email today from Fit Fluential and had to share it with all of my running readers.  Here is a way to run a few extra miles to help childhood obesity. Download he Saucony Run4Good app and track your miles towards a collective mileage goal. If that goal is reached, Saucony will DOUBLE its donation to help provide playgrounds, tracks, running programs, shoes and coaching for kids in need.
Run with extra heart this month; if you log the miles you run before the month closes, you’ll help fund the fight against childhood obesity. One in three children in this country is overweight or obese; this generation of kids is the first in a century not expected to outlive its parents. They need inspiration, support and resources to move more and eat better for healthier, happier, longer lives.
For the month of September, that goal is 10,000 miles and Saucony has pledged aid to:
  • The American Diabetes Association: the ADA New England Run For Your Life! pilot program will promote lifestyle changes in overweight youth through running and jogging
  • Chicago Run: a non-profit that provides free running programs for the youth of Chicago in tandem with nutrition and digital learning and cross-community collaboration
  • The 4 Life Foundation: a running program that emPOWERS youth by “igniting self-love, fearless confidence, & character”
At the time of this writing, 7,780 miles have been logged towards September’s goal. How many miles can the FitFluential family add ?
Just download the Run4Good app for iPhone. This app will track your miles for the challenge, but also offers pace tracking, calorie counting, route mapping and more. Keep us updated on your progress on Twitter with #Run4Good and #FF4Good!
Run4Good app

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Culinary Powders - The science of making naughty food healthy and cheap

I'm going to get a little science geeky on you today!

I knew I was in for a treat when I saw the teaser for a Datz Event tat stated: "Ever wonder how we turn malt vinegar into powder, or bacon grease into dust?". The Culinary Powders class, hosted by Datz Chef Jason Dame was all it was promised to be. We were taught the science behind how he makes culinary powders. I was first introduced to culinary powders by Chef Jason a few months ago. He turned Malt Vinegar into a powder so your fish and chips wouldn't get soggy. I was instantly intrigued.

At our class, we learned the basics behind the transformation of liquids and solids into powder with Tapioca Maltodextrin. Upon arrival, we were given popcorn with the above mentioned malt vinegar powder and a glass of champagne. Popcorn & Champagne -I was a happy girl!
Popcorn with Malt Vinegar Powder

Champagne
Malt Vinegar Powder
Chef Dame taught us the science behind Tapioca Maltodextrin, what turns food into powder. One may ask why you would want to do this. We will use Nutella as an example. One serving of Nutella, which is 2 tablespoons, has 200 calories, 11 grams of fat, 22 carbs, 29 grams of sugar and 11 grams of saturated fat. Ouch. With the method of turning those 2 tablespoons of Nutella into powder, you now have 3/4 cup of powder which you can sprinkle on your toast - your 11 grans of fat has turned into .39 grams of fat for a 12oz portion.
Nutella Powder
I failed math and I tend to get really bored with it - so that is the end of today's math lesson. Basically, Tapioca Maltodextrin has a very low bulk density. It dissolves when in contact with any aqueous medium. It is used to increase the volume of foods. You can take seasonal items and extend their life by turning them into powders, or taking something expensive like a white truffle and turning it into truffle powder. Maltodextrin has a forever shelf life.

Take a bag of dried fruits from Whole Foods - they can set you back $6 a bag. Combine 60/40 ratio of the dried Strawberries to the Maltodextrin powder and you have amazing strawberry flavor at a very low price. We were given some samples to take home and Gabe used it to make strawberry milk (suggestion from Chef Jason). It was amazing. You can replace powders in baking with the powders you make. Essentially, you can take the strawberry powder, use a 80/20 ration (20 powder/80 flower) and make healthy strawberry cupcakes. We also combined the strawberry's and other dried fruits turned into powder with our Champagne!
Strawberry Powder
Powder Bellini
Chef Jason made us an amazing dessert using fat free frozen Greek yogurt, strawberry powder and Nutella powder. It did not taste guilt free - but it was.
Frozen Greek Yogurt with Nutella and Strawberry Powder
I already purchased Tapioca Maltodextrin and the first powder I plan on making is Bacon powder (shocker). I want to make chocolate bacon cupcakes. With the bacon - you take 2 tablespoons of solidified bacon fat to a cup of Maltodextrin powder. You now have a cup of powder, which is enough bacon powder to last you a really really long time. You get the flavors of the bacon without the fat!

Click here to purchase your own Tapoica Maltodextrin. It's much cheaper than you would think - 1lb for $9.99.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting a taste of Zen at Wat Tampa Thai Temple

This Sunday, Gabe and I ventured into unknown territory. I have heard wonderful things from other food bloggers about the Wat Mongkolratanaram, also known as Wat Tampa. I came in with knowledge that Wat Tampa is a Thai Buddhist Temple that offers a Sunday Market, every Sunday between 10:30am and 2:00pm outside of the Temple. The market has volunteers that serves you authentic Thai cuisine in exchange for donations. 
Wat Tampa Buddhist Temple
Let me tell you, Wat Tampa is a Thai food lovers fantasy. Upon first pulling in at 11:30, we noticed the place was crowded. Not too bad, as I am now accustom to standing in long lines for Food Truck Rallies, but you did have to wait in line for about 10 minutes to get a dish. Upon instruction from other bloggers, I made my way over to the noodle station promptly. I ordered Beef Guiteow and Gabe got Pork Guiteow (Noodle soup). My photos of both dishes did not turn out as I had a very bad  issue w/ shadows.

I did however get photos of our two sides, chicken spring rolls and Kanom Krok (coconut custard).  Both of which were to die for. The spring rolls were amazing. They were made fresh and where I generally order my spring rolls with shrimp, the chicken was really good with the peanut sauce. The Kanom Krok was a first for both of us. They were these little airy coconut savory pillows, I could have ate the whole lot - and I don't like coconut!
Chicken Spring Rolls & Kanom Krok
After drinking two Thai Iced teas ($1 each, how can you beat that), I bounced around the market snapping photos to share with my readers:
Zen Views
Fried Bananas!
A variety of Thai Desserts
More Thai Desserts
Making Kanom Krok
Our entire lunch cost us $22. As much food as we consumed, you cannot beat that. Wat Tampa offers a variety of dishes, Grilled pork or chicken on a stick, Grilled chicken "Phat Thai" - vegtable and noodles, Various chicken curry dishes with vegetables, Egg rolls, "Guiteow" - Beef or pork noodle soup, "Som Dom" - Thai Papaya salad, Fried bananas, taro root, and sweet potatoes, A wide variety of Thai deserts, Thai tea. You can also purchase your favorite Thai fruit trees and vegetables here. It is cash only.

Do not go to Wat Tampa without checking out the Temple. Trust me when I say to go spend a beautiful Sunday day here. You will leave feeling a sense of Zen. If you have a pup, you can bring him/her along too!




Wat Mongkolrata Temple on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Howl-O-Scream 2012, Experiencing Alone and Conquering Clowns

This past Friday was the opening night of Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This was also September's Yelp Elite event which really excited me as we had already planned on attending for our third consecutive year.

We entered into the Yelp tent where we were we "unlocked the fear inside". At the Yelp event, we drank and ate for free for two hours. We received VIP passes which got us front of the line access all night to every haunted house and ride. We also received two free drink passes after our party commenced. Talk about treating us right!! I have to give it to Busch Gardens and Yelp - you truly threw an amazing party, so many thanks to Lauren & Bret.
Unlocking the Fear
We grabbed a few (ahem) cocktails and bites to eat with our friends Katie (Ruffles and Truffles) and Justin. Katie suggested getting our yard glasses filled with wine vs. beer but we didn't get very far with that. Prior to the event, we were notified of a contest which would award two winners four tickets to Alone. All you had to do was tweet the most useful tips for Howl-O-Scream, using the hashtag #howloscream. I only lost 30 followers from my two hour long tweets every 5 minutes.....and this was the outcome:
Justsin & Katie - Megan & Gabe, prior to Alone
If you look at the sky, that is not just dusk upon us, those are really fast moving clouds. It started monsooning shortly after. Between the howling wind and rain, it seemed like Busch Gardens was able to orchestrate the perfect setting to this experience (although I could have done w/o the rain). We met a few peacock friends while wating out the storm.
Baby Peacocks
Once inside of Alone, we experienced an up-close and personal Haunted House. Since only 4 people can go at a time, you have actual interaction with the actors inside of the house. All we had knowledge of prior to entering was that Alone had a deranged Master who hoarded  “cultural” remains and stockpiling people. I do not want to give away any details of Alone as I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone. I will state that a slide is involved ;) It was such a neat experience and I am so happy Busch Gardens offers this. Alone tickets are $50 for one person, and $10 for each additional guest (up to 4). A party of four can split the cost at $20 each. Make sure you pre-purchase your tickets, they sell out fast.
Don't worry Katie, the Poncho will protect you!
We had the full VIP experience with front of the line passes all night for the rides and haunted houses. Even with the rain, the lines for the houses were pretty long so we were very grateful for this. Thank goodness for the Ponchos because we were drenched! Oh how I wish I wore my Sperry's.

Remember when I said that I would not under any circumstances go into the Circus of Superstition 3-D Clown Haunted House? Well, when I start taking photos like this, you know that the Liquid Courage has kicked into full gear.
From what I remember, the house wasn't that bad. I shut my eyes a lot & let Gabe lead the way. The ending got to me - but overall, it was a neat house. Ultimate Casino Vampire Condemned Casino is still my favorite from all of the houses. This year, one person in your party was given a flashlight to guide your way through the house. We ended the night with the obligatory visit to see Gabe's favorite act of Howl-O-Scream Fiends, starring Dr. Freakenstein & his naughty nurses.
Once again, Howl-O-Scream did not let us down. We love going to this event. It was an above and beyond this year with the VIP package, which you can get as well by upgrading your ticket!

Do you have Halloween events like this in your city and do you attend them?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monster Dash 5K Orlando Discount Code

The Monster Dash 5K in Orlando (Clermont) is rapidly approaching! If you saw my post in August, you're already aware that I am very excited for this race which is taking place on October 27th. There is a $10 off discount code when you sign up for the race on Active between now and October 4th. The code is AXLASTDASH, click here to register.

The Monster Dash is a survival 5K where you try to survive to the finish line. Monsters, zombies, werewolves and various walking dead creatures will be doing their hardest to claim your lives. The little creepers kids run starts at 5:30, followed by four waves, three of which require you to wear a headlamp.
Glow in the dark medals and t-shirts will be given out at the finish line. There are different medals and shirts to indicate if you are part of the walking dead or finished as a survivor. To survive this race, you need to cross the line with a life (flag). I have heard rumors that it is harder for the monsters to get you if you are in a group, so grab a team of friends to survive this race.
This race sounds like a ton of fun. I hope to see you there! Do you think you would be a survivor or the walking dead?

Partying with the Penguins - Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Last week was the annual Pink Martini kickoff party for the Susan G. Komen race for the Cure at the Florida Aquarium. I have been looking forward to this event for quite sometime and got to experience the night with three local bloggers: Isabel from Family Foodie, Lauren from Tasting Tampa, and the newly awarded top food blogger of Tampa Bay, Leslie from Dash of Les.

The Pink Martini signature drink of the night was created by Datz which featured 360 Vodka and Domaine de Canton ginger liquor. This cocktail was a hit for sure and did sneak up on us.
Signature martini - Pink Ginger
The Aquarium is a beautiful venue with many sights to see. Imagine drinking a pink ginger martini while taking in these views:
The menu selection for the night included the following:
  • Bruschetta with locally grown tomatoes, basil and garlic
  • Assorted sushi
  • Wild mushroom and boursin tartlets
  • Pear and almond brie in puff pastry
  • Tuscan tri-colored tartlet with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and pesto
  • Lobster cobbler
  • Mini beef wellington
Bruschetta & Assorted Sushi
Pear & Almond Brie Puff Pastry
Tuscan Tri Colored Tartlet w/ Goats cheese
Lobster Cobbler
The evening offered a silent auction with many great prizes. I was hoping to win a race entry for Gabe and I for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (competitive 10K division) but I was outbid while watching the fashion show. The fashion show included designers who offered one of a kind pieces to the crowd at a live auction. 

My favorite moment of the night was when the Aquariums famous penguins made their way around to visit the guest. They even dressed for the occasion 
100% of the nights proceeds went to benefit the Susan G. Komen race for the cure which takes place on October 6th at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Apple, Brie and Bacon Popovers recipe for Autumn Apple Party! #SundaySupper

Apple Bacon and Brie Popovers
I love cooking with Apples. When I saw that our #SundaySupper theme this week was an Autumn Apple Party, I had a hard time figuring out what to make. I could have taken the easy road out and made my Mom's homemade apple pie recipe but I knew there would be a ton of desserts this week.

So I thought to combine a few of my favorite items: Bacon, Brie and Apples. Usually those three are found in a fancy sandwich. Yet I wanted something more: POPOVERS! Popovers remind me of being at my family's lake house in Maine. It was the first time I was introduced to Popovers and now I own a popover pan! While I generally stick with Alton Brown's basic popover recipe, I knew I had to find something a little more savory for this Sunday Supper. Scouring over recipes on the internet, I came across this recipe which took a quiche recipe and added flour to it. I omitted a the chives and used my popover pan vs. a muffin pan.
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup sweet onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 lb. Bacon
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/8 Teaspoon salt
  • Sprinkle of white pepper
  • Brie
Preheat your oven to 375

Peel and finely chop your apple and onion. Add butter to a pan and saute the apple and oinon on medium-low heat until the onions are opaque.
Sauteing Onion and Apple
Lay your bacon on a foil lined baking dish and bake for 7 minutes. Break up your bacon once it cools and set aside.

Whisk your eggs, cream and flour together. Add salt and pepper to the egg mixture. Mix apple and onion mix to the eggs. Fold in the bacon.

Place small pieces of brie into a greased popover or muffin pan.
Brie in a popover pan
Ladle the egg mixture over the brie until 2/3 full.
Apple Brie and Bacon Popover Mixture
Bake for 25 minutes, until brown. The ending result will be like a quiche but in a popover form. These are excellent for breakfast or brunch.
Perfect Quiche Popovers
Wishing we were in Maine eating these popovers at the Lakehouse:



And now for the #SundaySupper Autumn Apple Party lineup! There are so many recipes I am looking forward to trying out.


Soups, Salads, Starters and Breads
Main Meals
Sides
Desserts
Beverages
Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm (Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite apple recipes! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat! We’d also love to feature your apple recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!