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DAYTON: #grocerystoreobsessionsJune10

I eat out of convenience a lot of the time.

If it’s easy, quick, and delicious, I’m all in.

I’ve been keeping a slight (slight) distance from frozen foods. Not that I don’t like frozen foods, I do. But for a little bit now, I’ve been either eating meals from restaurants, or cooking myself.

But this week, I decided to head down the frozen meals aisle, and take a gander at what’s new. I was at my local Target store, and came across a line of foods that after making one of the meals just now, it’s become one of my grocery store obsessions.

The brand? Evol.

As soon as you pop on its website, you can tell the company is taking a completely different approach to the standard frozen dinners.

Its motto? Taste rules!

Its mission: “Inspire people to care about where food comes from and how it is produced by making real food that tastes delicious. Love what you eat.”

Amen to that, right?

The mission, motto, and packaging are very promising.

A selection of its Skillet Meals for 2. photo credit: groceryheadquarters.com

And based off of the grilled chicken Parmesan skillet meal for 2 (butttt I made mine for one), it delivers.

Several things I’m blown away about with this meal:

The meal in my skillet. From frozen to dinner in 10 minutes. evolfoods.com
The meal in my skillet. From frozen to dinner in 10 minutes.
evolfoods.com

1) From cooking the pasta in the skillet, the pasta did NOT turn soggy!

Sometimes this happens with frozen food, if you overcook, the pasta turns into mush. This was not the case today.

2) It had good flavor!

3) The meat looked and tasted good.

Sometimes with frozen meals I find the meat looks and tastes weird ! Do you ever find that? The chicken in this meal tasted really light, tender and fresh.

Evol has TONS of options for you to try, including another one I bought and am anxiously awaiting to try, truffle Parmesan mac and cheese, butternut squash and sage ravioli, a handful of fun breakfast sandwiches, and several gluten free items too.

If you’re looking for something cheap and very easy to make, try out Evol.

My second obsession comes from a recent trip to the salon.

I’m getting my hair colored one day, and my hairdresser offers its drink selection to me, one option being wine.

Every time I’ve gone there so far, I’ve always opted for a Diet Coke, or a coffee.  But that day, I decided to ask about it, and she told me there was a blackberry Merlot.

“Ooh!” I said excitedly.

And lo and behold, it was a wine brand I hadn’t really drank before until now: Arbor Mist.

WOW, friends.

photo credit: totalwine.com

If I had to choose between sweet or dry wine, I would choose dry, and that I have my parents to thank because they love a good Chardonnay, and so do I.

But the blackberry merlot is magic. It has a little sparkle to it, tasting not overly sweet, and has the nice blackberry tangy flavor.

This experience led me to me driving to the local drive thru liquor store and trying other flavors, which were also delicious (Mixed Berry Merlot and Strawberry White Zinfandel).

If you’ve never swung towards Arbor Mist until now, I say go for the gold and try it. You will NOT regret it, and at its good price,  get the magnum!

Have you had any of these two products? If so, please let me know how you liked them!

 

 

PINTEREST DINNER: Crock Pot Paleo Beef Stew

Eating out of convenience is my motto.

And easy cooking for me, a single on-the-go chickie in Ohio, is a huge plus.

A snow storm is supposed to move into the Dayton area tonight. And with that, I thought about beef stew for dinner, to eat warm & hearty tonight. I’m craving it!

As I was searching Pinterest for recipes, a thought prevailed on me:

“Why don’t I make a paleo recipe?”

While I’ll admit, I by no means stick to any one diet or another (I love my sweets!), I love trying new things, healthy or not, and paleo is definitely one of those healthy things that’s really good and I recommend!

The paleo diet, according to thepaleodiet.com, says the following about what the diet actually consists of:

“The Paleo Diet is based upon eating wholesome, contemporary foods from the food groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era, the time period from about 2.6 million years ago to the beginning of the agricultural revolution, about 10,000 years ago. These foods include fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meat, if you can get it), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed foods were not part of our ancestral menu.”

Thought this was interesting too, the website also says:

Decades of research by Dr. Loren Cordain and his scientific colleagues demonstrate that hunter-gatherers typically were free from the chronic illnesses and diseases that are epidemic in Western populations, including:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, etc.)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Acne
  • Myopia (nearsightedness), macular degeneration, glaucoma
  • Varicose veins, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, gastric reflux
  • Gout

After browsing and browsing I came across a fabulous recipe by another fellow Ohio blogger, Tales of a Closet Homemaker.

Truly I feel this was a case of fate.

Here’s her fabulous paleo recipe that I’m trying out tonight (with the link to her post):

Crock Pot Paleo Beef Stew

Ingredients:

2lbs beef stew meat

6 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 pack mushrooms, chopped

1 bag baby carrots, chopped (4 or 5 whole)

1 bag frozen peas

3 potatoes diced (skins on)

2 TBS minced garlic

1 can diced tomatoes(or 1 1/2 cups)

1 can crushed tomatoes (or 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup beef broth

2 TBS Parsley (dried)

2 TBL Basil (dried)

1 1/2 TBL Sea salt

1 TBL Pepper

Instructions:

Throw it all in the crock pot (this will fill a 5 qt to the very top).  Cook high 4-6 or low 7-10.  You can’t really overcook this one, and it can be assembled the night before and left in the refrigerator.

Here’s how I’m doing it:

IMG_9663

The top left picture has most of the ingredients. I used:

  • Lean Angus beef stew meat (I love lean meats and saw this on sale at Kroger today, got very excited!)
  • A can of crushed tomatoes
  • A can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • Two sweet potatoes, chopped (sweet potatoes are hard to chop when uncooked, do you agree? I used these instead of regular potatoes. Very paleo 🙂 )
  • A pack of mushrooms, chopped
  • 7 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped

The top right picture has the spices, I used:

  • 2 TBS parsley (dried)
  • 1 TBS Italian Seasoning spices, Garlic & Herb ( I didn’t have basil so opted for this instead)
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 1/2 TBS salt (the less salt the better in my opinion)
  • A little over 2 TBS chopped garlic (I loveee garlic.)

The bottom picture: I loaded all of the ingredients into my crock pot (with a liner in) and am going to cook it on high for 4-6 hours.

Excited to show you the final result!

I’ll post a picture later!

In the meantime, bon appetit and Happy Crocking! (And thank you, Tales of a Closet Homemaker for providing a fun recipe to try tonight!)

National Pizza Month — Your Stories (Part 1)

Courtesy of grubgrade.com

Happy National Pizza Month!

To celebrate… I will be sharing your stories on my blog about your memories of great pizza.

And here’s the first! From one of my friends, Maegan:

Best pizza story has to be the first time my bf and I cooked a meal together… it was pizza. Fresh dough, fresh ingredients. We made a BBQ chicken pizza with great sauce and goat cheese. It was perfection!!

 

Doesn’t that pizza sound incredible? It’s truly amazing how pizza making is more than just two people together making a pizza, it’s an amazing memory.

I look forward to hearing (and sharing!) more of your pizza stories on here! And if you have any pictures/videos of you eating/making pizza, I would love to share them too!

Happy Pizza Month!

 

(PS, I definitely ate pizza today…It was “John’s Favorite” from Papa John’s with extra sauce….Incredible! I loved the mix of the crispy pepperoni, the meaty, tender sausage and the herbs and spices on top of the cheese!)

Kat

RECIPES — Trying out some “Hungry Girl” meals!!

Over the past few months I have been browsing Cooking Channel for different shows to watch on my DVR.

I had heard about the Hungry Girl T.V. show through commercials and through seeing some of my friends “liking” her page on Facebook. But it was until I sat down and watched the show did I realize how exciting a new venture I would get into! The first season of the show started in January 2011 and there will be a season two! HG is looking for input on her website right now as to what viewers want to see on the show next season.

Here’s what CookingChannel.com’s article on her 411 says about Ms. Lisa Lillien a.k.a. “Hungry Girl”:

courtesy of bn.com

Hungry Girl – Lisa Lillien isn’t a nutritionist, she’s just hungry.  She’s obsessed with food and wants to celebrate it…while still fitting into her pants.  This apparently has struck a chord since she has about 1 million fans who get her free newsletter, with millions more who read her weekly columns on Weight Watchers and Yahoo!

I signed up for her emails because I was curious as to what she was saying in them. Lillien and her HG team write great tips on what “swaps” to make when buying food and making healthy choices.

After watching a bunch of the episodes on my DVR, I was so excited to actually eat the food. Everything she made on the screen looked delicious and I was excited and eager to try it all!

So I did.

Last week I went out and bought the ingredients to make her “Holy Moly Guacamole,” “Nacho-riffic Stuffed Chicken” and “Mississippi Mug Pie.” I ordered three of the cookbooks online and while awaiting them, I made these recipes.

The guacamole and the mug pie were the standouts for me of the meal.

The finished guac in my green bowl 🙂

The guacamole calls for using 1 avocado and 1 can of peas instead of using all avocado. It still had the creamy texture of guacamole and had a TON of flavor with the lime juice, chili powder and cumin mixed in. I love this recipe and I’m going to make it again this week!

Mug-licious.

The mug pie was decadent, ooey gooey and chocolatey, just as she predicted on her show. It was like eating a big lava cake in your cup. It was warm and satisfied me quickly!

Nacho-riffic stuffed chicken heating in my oven!

The chicken was delicious as well, but it wasn’t the bigger stand out for me. I’ll admit, the recipe called for taco sauce on top and I ended up using hot sauce because I didn’t have any taco sauce. Also, the chicken I used was a little too big for what the recipe called for. It was good, but since I usually don’t eat a lot of stuffed chicken, I probably won’t be making this again anytime soon.

I also made an omelet in a mug after seeing her latest “Rise and Dine” episode. She made a “Denver Omelet in a mug”, but I decided to make it a veggie omelet (my fave!) and added tomatoes instead of ham to the recipe. It was SO yummy, I loved the fresh green peppers, onions and chopped grape tomatoes. While it was a little watery due to the water content of the vegetables, I loved this omelet, and that’s another recipe I cannot wait to make again.

But now I must speak of what I made today…“Hungry Girl-fredo.”

I went to Wegman’s the other night with my friends and bought the House Foods Tofu Shirataki Fettuccine-style noodles. I also bought the spaghetti ones to try another day.

The recipe was very easy to make. There was a process of having to drain and dry the noodles from the bag, cook them for a minute, dry them again and then make the sauce and microwave again. I loved the recipe! The noodles were a little “meatier” and chewier than regular noodles, but the flavors were all there with the light cheese, sour cream, reduced fat parmesan and black pepper. I would definitely make this again. I felt satisfied and comfortably full after it, too.

Here’s me trying the recipe out for you all on camera, and giving you the scoop on “Hungry Girl!”

Hope all is well!

SYRACUSE — Attilio’s

Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

ATTILIO’S : 700 NORTH SALINA ST. SYRACUSE, NY 13202

(315) 218-5085

Lunch Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Dinner Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bar is open between lunch and dinner.

http://www.attiliosyracuse.com

A great dining experience is not only about the food, but the complete experience that goes along with it. From walking in the door to sitting at the table, to that first meet and greet from the waiter to when you leave the restaurant. If you have a warm, inviting experience, it will make you want to go back there again and again.
I found this especially at Attilio’s last week.

Right in the heart of Little Italy in Syracuse, Attilio’s was a surprise find for myself and 6 of my friends celebrating our friend Avantika’s birthday. While we were first going to check out another restaurant, the wait time at the first place was a little long, so we looked into other options.
Walking around North Salina Street, we came across Attilio’s as it was right near where we parked. We walked in and checked out a menu and found everything on the menu to be delicious sounding and at reasonable prices. Attilio’s had no wait and set up a big table for us to sit at.

Once everyone in our group was situated at the table, we were greeted by our waiter. He truly made our experience what it was. He took the time to greet us, bring us water and bread and tell us the specials of the night.

The wine list at Attilio’s is very nice. When you walk into the dining room, there are two cases that were behind our table that had several different wines in them. There was a huge champagne bottle on top of the case to look at.

Avantika and I tried a glass of the house Cabernet wine. This wine was very nice, dry with a hint of oak in it, which I love.

The bread there is AMAZING. One of the things I love about eating at Italian restaurants is the bread– it’s a staple of the experience. Their bread in particular was light with a very fluffy dough- and a nice light taste as well. The bread wasn’t too heavy to keep you from eating your meal. The bread also comes with an plate with four different mix-ins with olive oil: garlic, herbs, sweet pepper flakes and cheese. You mix them yourself at the table and then the dipping plate can be passed around. The oil mixture there is DELICIOUS!

Going around the table, I heard several pasta dishes being ordered from the menu, including:

  • Red Pepper Penne: “A vegetarian delight! Pan seared penne pasta with grilled bell peppers, goat cheese, fresh basil, sauteed in a walnut-oil garlic sauce.” $16
  • The Original Chicken Riggies: “This dish was created in 1955 by Francesco Nesci. Imported Rigatoni pasta sauteed with sliced chicken breast, Bermuda onion, hot cherry peppers, tossed in a plum tomato and fresh basil sauce.” $18

I studied the menu carefully. While I kept thinking about getting a pasta dish, it came upon me to try their Veal Parmigiana. I haven’t had veal in awhile and I really wanted to try theirs to see how it was.

  • Veal Parmigiana: “A lightly breaded veal cutlet topped with Attilio’s marinara sauce and Grande mozzarella cheese.” $20

$20 is a good deal on Veal Parmigiana; you not only get free bread and oil mix with your meal, but you get a choice of salad or soup as well. I decided to try their Caesar Salad for an additional fee, which was well worth the money.
Their Caesar Salad was wonderful. With a Caesar Salad, you have to be careful about not having too much dressing but not having too little dressing either. This particular salad was a perfect mix of romaine leaves and dressing. Their dressing was a beautiful blend of creaminess and there were two lemon wedges on the side to squeeze on to your liking. I LOVE LEMON, so I squeezed both on. It gave the salad that extra kick. I would definitely recommend getting the Caesar there for the small upcharge!

Attilio’s timing of food was perfect as well: a few minutes after the salads and soups were taken away from our table, the main courses came right to our table.

What I look for with veal dishes is a nice, beautiful tender veal. A lot of times if you overcook veal it can get very tough and hard to eat.

The veal most certainly was beautiful at Attilio’s. The batter they used to bread and cook the veal was outstanding: a nice fresh fluffy batter with nice seasonings. The veal was very tender, melt in your mouth veal. The portion was a very wonderful size as well: two huge pieces of veal with a nice sized bowl of rigatoni on the side (you can choose your pasta with your meal). Their sauce was delicious: a nice sweet, tomato sauce blended with the mozzarella cheese on top. I could sure eat some more right now! My plate cleared very fast; I ate my whole meal and actually did not feel full either. This was exciting, because that meant I could try their desserts!

Dessert time comes around and there are a TON of delicious choices….Key Lime Mousse Pie, Banana Cream Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, Tartufo (one of my favorites to get out at an Italian restaurant!) and another favorite, Tiramisu.

My friend Jessica and I shared the Tiramisu and it was incredible. It was a nice sized piece of cake with a great blend of the coffee flavors and ladyfingers. My friend Sarah tried the Key Lime Mousse Pie, which was a HUGE hit at the table, the lime flavor was outstanding and that is a pie I would love to try again. The Banana Cream pie was amazing as well, the fresh taste of bananas with the pie crust and cream…YUM!

But as I said before, it wasn’t only the food that made the experience. Our waiter was outstanding. He checked in on us throughout the night to see how our food was. He took the time to sing “Happy Birthday” to Avantika with us. He took the time to personally split our checks, including doing the math of how much we would each pay to cover Avantika’s meal and wrote it on each check. He gave us little chocolate candies as well at the end of our meal.

This was an unforgettable night, and if you’re driving through North Salina Street in Little Italy, I would definitely recommend Attilio’s.

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