Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Irish clover

Irish Clover Image by George McFinnigan

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!  Whether you are Irish or not or Irish by affiliation (mine is through my wife’s side of the family), be sure to celebrate with good food and beverage.  Learn the history of the day, get some ideas for green food, make green eggs and ham with Chef Fabio, or make a classic, like corned beef and cabbage with your slow cooker.  Or have corned beef and cabbage made with Guinness® with a glass of Guinness® and enjoy the river dyed green!

The Keys to Eating in Key West

Mr. Z's Logo

Mr. Z’s Logo

Well, I’m back to the frigid northlands… I mean… Midwest… after a much appreciated surprise trip to Key West from my wife to celebrate my birthday.  It took me a little bit to get accustomed to signs showing ‘January’ being in mental juxtaposition with the warm weather.  It was my first visit to Florida, and I truly enjoyed it.   We hope to return to catch even more of the things we missed.  It was a long weekend trip, and we visited several museums and, of course, had to visit Duval Street.  I’ll be posting some food highlights of the trip, in the event they may be useful in your travels.

First up was Mr. Z’s: a restaurant that offers cheesesteaks, pizza, and stromboli.  We were wandering Duval Street and trying to decide what we were hungry for.  We ran across Mr. Z’s, partly due to the enticing aroma that reached us on the sidewalk through the open window screens.  It’s not a very large place, with a main counter and some seating on stools along the wall.  This might make it easy to overlook amid all the food options available, but it was certainly worth our time and easily handled our hunger.  I ordered the sausage and (sweet) peppers sandwich for a very reasonable $7, with an extra $1 for fried onions and cheese.  It’s a sandwich that I will get hungry for from time to time, and this one did not disappoint.  Coupled with a tasty red sauce, it was flavorful and satisfying.

My wife ordered a small veggie and four cheese stromboli, and they are not kidding when they say it will serve two people- my wife had leftovers.  Again, it was a very reasonable price – $10.  She let me try some, and it was prepared well.  There was a good mix of vegetables complemented with the perfect ratio of cheese to the vegetable ingredients.  The crispy crust held all the ingredients together well, also.  They do advise it takes a while to cook, but it didn’t take too long to get our meals.  I would certainly recommend Mr. Z’s in Key West if you’re looking to satisfy a craving or get a delicious meal for a reasonable price- just make sure not to miss it!

Pasta perfect

Bionaturae pasta

Photo from Amazon

We belong to a local food co-op that offers organic and other healthy food options; we do our best within our budget to maximize our options.  One of the products they carry is Bionaturae pasta.  They had a coupon available, so we thought we’d give their organic whole wheat spaghetti a try.  I have to admit that my expectations weren’t too high… I’ve tried some other whole wheat pastas from other grocery stores before, and they’ve tasted more ‘wheat-y’.

(That is a similar issue I have had when attempting to use whole wheat flour.  I used it for cookies before, and the wheat taste was very easily detectable…)

We were pleased to discover that Bionaturae had a taste like ‘regular’ non-whole-wheat pasta.  It took a little longer to cook than regular pasta, but it held up well in the cooking process and was pleasantly toothsome texture-wise.  It also paired well with sauce.

It is not available everywhere, but there is a store search feature available on their website and it is also listed on Amazon.com– (no specific recommendation implied).

Overall, this product holds true to its motto on the package: “Exceptional tasting whole wheat pasta! Enjoy the health benefits of whole wheat pasta without sacrificing great flavor.”

Grilled Cheese… with a Brick?!

Chow Ciao logo

 

 

 

Chef Fabio provides his take on grilled cheese on Chow Ciao!  An abundance of excellent local cheese is something I am thankful for, living in Wisconsin.  It’s one of those foods that’s a personal favorite, with all the different flavors and varieties.  Fabio offers a cheese primer… I’d also add that reduced fat cheese, while still good in some recipes (to keep flavor and cut a few calories), won’t produce the necessary melting one might hope for.

And don’t miss it- cooking with a brick!  And I’m not talking about brick cheese…  but you could make a cheese sandwich with a brick and brick cheese

The recipe(s)!  (Plus a bonus- soup!)

Don’t fear the squash!

Chow Ciao logo

 

 

 

Fall is a time for squash.  I have to admit; as a kid, we never ate much squash.  Now, I have seen how good they can be!  Wondering what to do with that garden’s bounty of squash?  Worry no more.  Just recently, I made a butternut squash risotto, which was quite filling and flavorful.  I’ve also used butternut squash to make some tasty from-the-oven french fries.  Chef Fabio has an additional delicious option, with a little squash 101 to start: Butternut Squash Ravioli!

(Spaghetti squash is another of my personal favorites!)

Get the recipe!