Friday, January 31, 2014

The Hot Teddy

Brrr, it’s cold outside and baby I need a HOT HOT drink to warm me up. After a long day of being in the chilly winter air, it’s nice to come home to something to make me hot and bothered.

I like to make a nice hot toddy or as I like to call it, a Hot Teddy, for me and my special friend.  It uses my spiced simple syrup that I make with honey to both sweeten and spice it up. It’s a hot drink that’s a little bit naughty, a little bit nice!

Makes 1 beverage

1 ½ oz. good bourbon or whiskey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons spiced simple syrup (recipe below)
1 cup hot water

For the garnish:
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise

In a mug pour in bourbon or whiskey, lemon juice, spiced simple syrup and hot water. Stir till combined. Garnish with the cinnamon stick and star anise. 
Sip, enjoy, and let your naughty side out to play.

Makes 1 cup syrup

1 stick cinnamon
2 full pieces star anise
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
½ tsp chopped crystallized ginger
½ c honey
½ c water

Put all the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Strain, then use as desired. You can store the syrup for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Try my Hot Teddy, and let me know what happens!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gluten-Free Me

Marlena is not the only one in our Foodgasm crew who is making changes to her diet (see previous post).  I am as well.  And what I am avoiding is gluten. Or as I like to tell people, gluten and I are not friends.

This was a hard one for me. I like bread. I love bread. Rolls. Muffins. Pasta. Etc. So it was a big deal when I decided to find out what life was like without gluten.

Let me tell you, my intestinal tract was quite happy about this change in diet. But my mouth wasn’t!

In the beginning (about 6 months ago) I just avoided anything that was even similar to the glutinous products I used to consume.  But over time, I started to miss things I used to eat. Oh, that salmon benedict I used to make, served over an English muffin.

Surely there must be a substitute. A gluten-free English muffin. I’ll just go find it and be able to go about brunch as usual.

Well, first thing I learned is that much of the gluten-free bread products can only be found in the freezing compartment of the grocery store.  And not all stores will have what you are looking for, even if they have a gluten-free section. (And if you can find where they have stuck that section.)

I did locate an English muffin created sans gluten. Made by Kinnikinnick Foods. My first disappointment when I took it out of the package is that it didn't look like an English muffin.  It was thicker and looked more like a hamburger roll.

The second major disappointment came after I pulled it out of the toaster over and topped it with smoked salmon, steamed spinach, poached egg and hollandaise sauce.

Not only did the "muffin" not taste right--the texture also was lacking.

I didn't think much about what was in the English muffin until I hand a hankering for pizza. I know I could have pulled up chef Ashley's gluten-free pizza crust and made it from scratch, but I was in a hurry so I tracked down a frozen pizza crust.  Made by Glutino.

The crusts were rather small. Good for a personal pizza I guess.  I pulled a couple of out, loaded them up and baked away, anticipating the enjoyment of a well-made pizza.

A big let down! Just like the English muffin, I found that this gluten-free substitute neither tasted or felt right!  Another failure.  Then I bother to look at the ingredients, and I noticed something the two products had in common.

TAPIOCA!  For both of these tapioca flour (or tapioca starch as it may also be called, was a primary ingredient.  And I don't seem to like how tapioca tastes (or doesn't taste--it's
pretty bland).

Now, as I venture forth through the aisle of gluten freedom, I pick up the package and squint to study the list of ingredients.  If tapioca is near the top, I put it back.

What about you? Are you exploring gluten-free products? What do you link? What do you dislike?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Too Much Cheese?

By Marlena Riddell

Like most of you I’m making my way into the new year with high hopes for my 2014 resolution. My goal this year is to pump the brakes on my meat intake. I mean, I was never exclusively a carnivore, ya know? I was never piling ribs on my plate like a Flintstone, but I still consumed meat more often than I thought I should.

I have gone on meatless stints in the past but unfortunately they only last for a few weeks and then I falter. I will not list all the reasons why I chose the vegetarian path for fear of sounding like a holier-than-thou piece of bitch candy. So, won’t go there.

Anywho, what have I been doing to cut the meat cravings so I don’t feel like I’m being jipped? Like any lactose-loving person I’ve been loading everything with cheese! Oh, and let’s not forget the sour cream.

Ok, ok. I know too much dairy can be just as harmful to your health as meat, but I like it so much! What’s vegetarian chili without a heap of sour cream? If I can’t have bacon with my eggs then why shouldn’t I have an extra cheesy omelet. Don’t even get me started about gourmet grilled cheese!

I’m aware of the fact that greek yogurt and soy cheese are low fat alternatives, but let’s be honest, they are a essentially the methadone to my queso addiction. I want the real thing, dammit.

I guess I’ll have to be choosy with my cheese choices (how’s that for an alliteration, eh?). Perhaps pick some lighter/low-fat ones and for the richer ones, use, dare I say *gasp* moderation?. I came this far on saying farewell to the taco al pastor, I guess I can use one slice instead of two, or put cheese on the backburner altogether for one meal a day.

So have you ever tried to make a big change in your diet? How did it go for you?

Marlena Riddell is a PR and social media specialist for Foodgasm.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Oatmeal reVAMPed.

You think you eat healthy, right? Sometimes you have oatmeal for breakfast, right?  And most likely it's that instant pack of oatmeal that you can make in the microwave or can add boiling water to.

You may have grown up with the instant oatmeal in a little pack or the homemade oatmeal loaded with butter brown sugar and milk. These are classics of course. But they are both not the healthiest way to eat oatmeal. Have you ever really looked at the ingredients in these packs?

Instant oatmeal is usually loaded with high fructose corn syrup, fake fruit flavors and many additional chemicals.

But you're grown up now. You can make your own oatmeal, using either quick oats or old fashioned oats. (I prefer the latter).

Here are a few variations to help VAMP up your oatmeal.

Variation #1
While the oatmeal is cooking, add in diced apples, cinnamon and raisins.

Variation #2
Try serving cooked oatmeal (make according to directions) with a topping of fresh blueberries and chopped crystallized ginger. If you like milk with it, try adding a little almond milk on top instead.

Variation #3
Okay. This one's for you, chocolate lovers!

Hot Oatmeal with Dates, Almonds and Cocoa
Makes 2-3 servings

1 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup oats
2 ts. cocoa powder
1 ts. honey
2-3 TB chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
Dash salt

1.    Heat milk and salt till simmering
2.     Reduce heat. Add in oats, cocoa powder, dates, almonds and honey.
3.    Simmer over low heat, stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes.
4.     Serve with milk of your choice (I prefer almond milk), sliced fresh bananas, and a slight drizzle of honey or agave.

Here you have a healthy, foodgasmic breakfast!  And's it's vegan, if you want it to be.  If you are not avoiding lactose, you can use regular milk in the recipe. Either way, it'll start your day off great.  And isn't this tastier than a packet of instant oatmeal?

Friday, January 10, 2014

ReVAMPing the Classics

It’s a new year and new adventures await us all. Since I'm not one to just wait for things to happen to me, I decided to give myself a challenge. A cooking challenge. But what should that challenge be?

I thought about some of the recipes I have developed and I realized that some of the ones I like the most are ones that are based in a classic recipe. A recipe, that I have taken apart and put back together in a Foodgasmic way. 

One of my favorite revamped recipes is the Green Bean Cass-a-rolls.  I loved the idea of the traditional green bean casserole, but wanted to find a fun new way of preparing it…. and eventually eating it.   And that resulted in this recipe and episode.


Also when growing up, I loved pineapple upside down cake. So I made a revamped and sexier version with my mango upside down cake using my favorite fruit the mango.  Mmmm, mangos!


So I wanted to challenge myself to something super fun this year. This is it: 2014 will be a year of “REVAMPING THE CLASSICS” for Foodgasm. A new revamped recipe every single week for a total of 50 recipes! I want to take those old, dusty recipes and revamp them into something new and totally fabulous. I would love any ideas of great recipes to revamp from our lovely Foodgasm fans.

I love the vintage look, style and feel for food and for my life. Putting a new spin on some of the classic foods will be a fun challenge for the new year for me. It’s fun to make something new out of something old “classic”. 

So bring on the New Year and let this sassy redheaded “Vamp” transform some classic dishes into something FOODGASMIC!

The first one will be . . .

Stay tuned. I'll give you a clue though. It's something simple. Something you'll have for breakfast. Any ideas of what it will be?