Mom Knows Best

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least that’s what my mom says.  If you’re not a morning person, like me, you don’t get around to eating breakfast until lunchtime.  Fortunately, The Healthy College Cookbook has a few quick and tasty fixes to get your day going.  I’m so glad I came across this recipe! I made these yummy Powered-Up Crispy Treats before bed, grabbed one from the fridge on my way out the door, and enjoyed my healthy breakfast on my walk to class.  It was the perfect way to get some food in my stomach and start my day on the right foot.

 

Powered-Up Crispy Treats

Easy, delicious, cheap, and versatile!

 

What you need:*

1 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

1 cup orange juice

1 cup dried fruit (raisins, apricots, bananas, apples, cranberries, or a mix of all)

2 cups puffed rice cereal

 

*I cut this recipe in half.

 

Stir together all ingredients with a wooden spoon in a large bowl.  Shape into walnut-size balls.  Store in the refrigerator in snack bags ready to grab and go!

 

[I used a flavored cereal with pieces bigger than "puffed rice cereal," better known as Rice Krispies, for it's added nutritional value (grains and fiber).  My cereal didn't absorb the orange juice as well as Rice Krispies probably would have, so I had to add a little bit of cereal to get a thicker consistency.  I would definitely use a rice cereal for this recipe if you want it to work!  Also, try to avoid a flavored cereal.  I thought the berry flavor in the cereal would blend well with the other fruit flavors from the orange juice and the raisins...it didn't. At least it didn't please my taste buds.]

 

The original recipe yields 6-8 servings; by cutting this recipe in half, I was able to get 4 hearty servings, a little bigger than a walnut.

 

Makes 6-8 servings.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories 380; Fat 22g; Fiber 4g; Protein 12g; Carbohydrates 38g

 

I went to the Fresh Grocer to purchase all of these ingredients, and for the entire dish (halved; 4 servings) it cost me $2.13, which is about $0.53 per serving.

 

I guess mom was right…I should eat breakfast.  With a quick treat like this, I can’t argue with her!

Happy dining!

Rolling On The River

One type of food I’ve been avoiding in this blog is seafood.  I have a perfectly good explanation for that: I really hate seafood.  If I were to eat any type of seafood, it has to be fried, and according to the Healthy College Cookbook, “fried” isn’t necessarily healthy.  However, I have stepped out of my comfort zone (somewhat) and tried a type of sushi that has fish in it!  I usually play it safe and order Vegetable rolls (which usually contain cucumber, avocado, and carrot wrapped in seaweed and rice) or California rolls (consisting of imitation crab meat, avocado, and cucumber wrapped in seaweed and rice).  This time, I tried out the Philadelphia Roll from a small little Japanese restaurant called Momiji Japanese Cuisine in South Philadelphia.

Pictured above on the left- and right-hand sides (without the white pieces) is Momiji’s California Roll.  The two rows in the middle is the Philadelphia Roll.

 

The Philadelphia Roll consists of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and avocado, wrapped in a seaweed leaf, further wrapped in white rice and sesame seeds.  I don’t like fish, but I absolutely love this sushi!  When the menu says “smoked salmon,” they really mean it.  It has a musky, smokey, woody flavor that really does not taste like fish at all (which is probably why I liked it).  The avocado is fresh and creamy, as is the cream cheese, adding a nice sweet contrast to the smoky salmon.  Sometimes when I purchase fresh sushi from places such as the Noshery on Temple’s campus, the rice is still warm and clashes with the cool ingredients.  The rice used in this sushi is neither warm nor too cold.  It’s the perfect temperature to combine with the components and sticky enough to keep each piece of the roll together while eating.  I always prefer dipping my sushi into soy sauce, but since the salmon is smoky and salty to begin with, I didn’t find the soy sauce (and the added salt) a necessity. Some may feel unsatisfied by the quantity of their sushi, however I felt the serving sizes to be perfect for a meal.  The pieces are hearty but not overwhelming for one bite.

 

Along with the sushi, I ordered one of my all-time favorite appetizers: Vegetable Gyoza. This appetizer is similar to a dumpling, and can be pan fried or steamed and is offered with a vegetable filling or a pork filling.  Unlike most Japanese and Chinese restaurants, Momiji used a spinach dough instead of a white dough that made me feel better about eating something pan fried.  The gyoza was lightly fried, a little on the limp side when dipped in a combination of soy sauce and vinegar.  I prefer something a with a little more stability, but I cannot complain about the taste.  They were delicious!

 

I did not dine-in at Momiji, but the service was great.  The staff is friendly and quick and the prices are affordable.  The California Roll was $4, and the Philadelphia Roll and pan friend Gyoza were $4.95 each.  Momiji offers daily lunch and dinner specials that include discounts when ordering sushi and hibachi dinners.  I am interested to dine at the restaurant to further explore their menu.

 

As an avid FourSquare user, I read the following tips about Momiji:

Todd Z. said “The Momiji Roll is outstanding!”

Gino B. said “Try the Hulk Roll. So good and so much! Fantastic roll also good, but not as much.”

Amber T. said “Get the 3 roll and appetizer deal…and stay away from the teriyaki. The service is great!!”

James G. said “The sushi sashimi combination is outstanding. Enough for two.”

 

The Japanese Restaurant is tucked away on 5th Street directly off of South Street, nestled between a Hookah bar and a hair salon.  It would be easy to miss if you don’t know where it is; this is one restaurant you certainly don’t want to walk past!

 

To recap:

What: Philadelphia Roll and Vegetable Gyoza

Where:  Momiji Japanese Cuisine, South Philadelphia (522 South 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147)

When: Tuesday-Thursday: 11:30am – 10:30pm; Friday: 11:30am – 11:00pm; Saturday: 12:00 noon – 11:00pm; Sunday: 12:00 noon – 10:00pm; Monday: closed

Why: Great deals on sushi and sashimi, great service, and tasty Japanese cuisine.

 

I’ve been converted from a seafood-hater because of one little sushi roll.  That says a lot.  I wonder what their sushi will do for you…

Happy dining!

 

BONUS:

If you’d like to experiment with making your own gyoza, try the recipe featured on this online Japanese cooking guide!

 

Sweet Tooth Fixes

The great thing about cookies is that they really can be substituted for any meal.  Seriously! Oatmeal cookies are packed with protein and iron, especially when paired with dried fruit, like raisins.  They are totally acceptable to eat for breakfast along with a banana and a tall glass of milk, and are also delicious the rest of the 23 hours and 45 minutes of the day.  Although I like oatmeal raisin cookies, I have an extreme sweet tooth.  One that only chocolate can satisfy.  Lucky for me, The Healthy College Cookbook offers several recipes for my sugar fix that are also good for me!  How do Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies sound?  I’ll answer for you: AMAZING! And Blueberry Scones?  DOUBLE AMAZING!  Read on, my friends.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Two great cookies — oatmeal and chocolate chip — packed into one terrific treat.

 

What you need:

Cooking spray

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup applesauce

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 and 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats

1 cup chocolate chips [...I used a little more than that...]

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, applesauce, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly.

3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl.  Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring as you proceed.  Stir in the oatmeal and chocolate chips.

[I found the mixture more resistant as I added the dry ingredients, and by the time I was suppose to add the oatmeal and chocolate chips, my mixing arm was tired!  I guess I'm just weak, but if you experience this, I say put the boyfriend or brother to work since they'll be the ones eating your cookies.]

4. Drop spoonfuls [or scoopfuls!] of dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cookies are cooked through and beginning to brown on the bottom.  Cool before removing from the cookie sheet.

[I used my handy-dandy mini ice cream scoop to drop the perfect spoonfuls of dough on my baking sheet.  The downfall: by using the scoop, I was only able to make 20 cookies instead of 24. As a result, my cookies were slightly bigger. Oh, darn.]

Makes 24 servings.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories 170; Fat 7g; Fiber 0g; Protein 2g; Carbohydrates 25g

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went to a Super Wal-Mart to purchase these ingredients and raided my mother’s kitchen, and for the entire dish it cost me around $4.70, which is about $0.20 per serving.  The prices of the ingredients used in this meal should be similar across all Wal-Mart locations.

 

These cookies felt a little heavy when I was taking them off the cookie sheet and I was worried they would be too much for breakfast the next day.  Surprisingly, the cookies are pretty light when you eat them, and they did not dry out or harden overnight.

 

Blueberry Scones

For a different taste, substitute an equal amount of other berries or fruits for the blueberries.

 

What you need:

Cooking spray

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pea-size pieces

1 egg

3 tablespoons skim milk [all I had was whole milk]

1/2 cup blueberries

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and zest in a mixing bowl.  Add the butter and blend with a fork until the mixture forms rough crumbles.

[If you have a pastry blender, I would highly recommend using one instead of a fork.  It makes the blending process much easier!]

3. Beat together the egg and milk in a separate bowl.  Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Gently fold in the blueberries and stir well, until the dough comes cleanly off the sides of the bowl.

4. Flour a large, flat [and clean!] work surface. Knead the dough on the floured surface until it sticks together well.  Sprinkle in more flour if it’s too sticky and clings to your hands.

[Be generous with the flour.  I had to keep adding more and more.  Also, beware of popping blueberries whilst kneading!]

5. Form the dough into 6 balls.  Place them on the prepared baking sheet, and flatten each to about 1/2-inch thickness.

6. Bake for about 12 minutes, until light brown on top.  Cool before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories 160; Fat 5g; Fiber 1g; Protein 4g; Carbohydrates 25g

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went to the Super Fresh in West Ocean City, MD to purchase all of these ingredients, and for the entire dish it cost me $4.40, which is about $0.73 per serving.  I chose to shop at Super Fresh because there are locations in Philadelphia and the prices should be similar across all locations.

 

Having a sweet tooth doesn’t always mean eating unhealthy foods.  You just need to follow my blog, and you’ll be fine (*wink, wink*).

 

As always,

Happy dining!

Cooking With Social Media

How do chicken and Facebook relate?  Many probably see a versitle food trying to be compared to one of the largest social networks in the world; to blogger, self-proclaimed chef, and Social Business guru Jeff Gibbard, chicken and Facebook are one in the same.  In a recent blog post, Why Social Media is ALOT like Cooking, Gibbard explains the difference between utilizing a social site and using the social site effectively.

 

Roux is [...] the beautiful result of cooking some form of fat, usually oil or butter, and flour [...] used to thicken a sauce and is the basis of many cajun/creole dishes.  [...] No matter how many recipes you read, making a perfect Roux is a skill that must be practiced over and over.  Making a roux is not about a recipe, it’s about a technique.

 

Social media, much like cooking, relies heavily on technique.  How are you using your social sites to bring out the full flavor? One must frequently check to see if your site if cooked all the way through (completed and up-to-date profile) and that it is presentable (appropriate pictures, tags, comments).  The site requires a little tweaking, much like a roux, having to add a little bit of one element versus another to create a perfect blend.

When creating a new outlet for social interaction, an individual must consider some important factors.  First, what is the purpose of creating it?  What is your objective? What “ingredients” will you use to portray your message and enhance the core of the message? How can you use what you have to find a balance suitable for all audiences?

 

As quoted by Gibbard,

Social Media, Social Business, Social Networking and Social Strategy are about understanding HOW to use the tools, choosing the right ingredients, and picking the best combination of flavors to impress your guests (audience, customers, etc).

 

Some food for thought about social media:

The Easter Bunny’s Favorite Dessert

This is the first line from “The Healthy College Cookbook” for the Carrot Cake recipe:

“This cake is so rich and moist you won’t miss the cream cheese frosting usually added to carrot cake.”

Psh! Yeah, right.  I know this is supposed to be a “healthy” cake, but come on, it’s Easter. We can all cheat just a little.  And plain carrot cake? Who ever heard of such a thing?!

 

If you haven’t been able to tell, today we’ll be tackling homemade carrot cake with fresh carrots.  Trust me, it’s way better than the store-bought mixes and pre-made cakes available at the bakery.

 

Carrot Cake

Can be served as cake or in a loaf form to be served as bread at Easter dinner.

 

What you need:

Cooking spray

1 cup sugar

1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup applesauce [Remember my homemade applesauce?]

2 eggs, beaten

1 and 1/2 cups grated carrots [I used 3 large carrots]

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease and flour a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

[I used a square pan to make a cake instead of a loaf pan for bread.  The cook time did not vary too much, but if you plan on using a different pan, check your cake more often to prevent burning.]

2. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Sprinkle in a pinch of salt.

3. Stir in the oil, applesauce, and eggs.  Add the carrots and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake’s center comes out dry. Cool on a rack before removing from the pan.

Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories 180; Fat 7g; Fiber 1g; Protein 2g; Carbohydrates 28g

I went to a Super Wal-Mart to purchase these ingredients and raided my mother’s kitchen, and for the entire dish it cost me around $5.00, which is about $0.42 per serving.  The prices of the ingredients used in this meal should be similar across all Wal-Mart locations.

 

Of course I had to add some icing.  I grabbed a container of Duncan Hines Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting, opened the container and microwaved it for 20 seconds, and literally poured the frosting onto the cake.  As a result, I got the following:

I think it looks better with icing.  My stomach agreed.

 

Adding the icing affects the nutritional facts and introduces a large amount of sugar.  Be cautious of who you serve this to.  If you serve a piece to a child, do it before the Easter egg hunt so they can burn off all of that sugary goodness.

 

Here’s to hoping you’ll like this cake more than once per year.

 

Happy dining!

Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives

One of my all-time guilty pleasures is breakfast food at 11pm.  Where else to get it than at a 24/7 diner?  Luckily, living in Philadelphia, diners are plentiful and easily accessible, making it very difficult for me to stick to a diet.  I’ve found one that has a really well-rounded menu, ranging from scrambled eggs to fried clams with everything in between.  Located in South Philadelphia, the South Street Diner offers something for everyone.  The diner captured my attention with their thick cut french toast.

This Texas-style french toast definitely hit my late night craving!  I opted to have mine topped with fresh strawberries and banana slices.  Every order of this delectable dish is a borderline sugar overdose with the generous cinnamon and powdered-sugar topping.  Adding fruit was my attempt to make me feel better about eating a generally “unhealthy” meal.

 

Made-to-order, the batter seemed thick enough to coat the bread evenly and thin enough to not allow the middle of the bread to become soggy and squishy.  The thick crust supplied a nice little crunch, just the way I like my french toast!  A cinnamon coating also provided some fabulous texture and flavor.  Of course, no french toast would be complete without a heaping serving of cool, fresh strawberries, banana slices, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

 

I frequent this diner, but somehow only manage to get there for a late-night snack.  That being said, I am unaware of when their “peak” hours are. Considering the fact that the diner is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I believe it’s safe to say that if I ever experience poor service, I can always return at a different time of the day and be happy with the service I receive.  I have not experienced poor service or wait times at all.  The staff is friendly, although some are a little…weird.  Friendly, but South Philly-weird.  The last time I made the trek, my waitress complained about one of her previous customers.  It made me wonder if she would talk about me once I left, too.

The three slices of french toast with one fruit topping runs at $8.25.  Since I had an additional fruit topping, it cost me $10.95 total.

 

To check out their breakfast menu, click here.

 

To recap:

What: French Toast topped with fresh fruit.

Where:  South Street Diner, South Philadelphia (140 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147)

When: Any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Why: Heaping servings for a reasonable price whenever you want.

 

Just remember: breakfast is good at any time.

Happy dining!

Mexico Meets Italy

This may be one of the best creations ever.  Mexican Lasagna: a combination of tacos and lasagna. What could be better?!

If you’re a meat lover, you’ll definitely love this dish.  Packed with over a pound of meat and cheese all around, you might slowly slip into a food coma on the way to your second serving.  The meal takes a little bit longer to prepare than the previous meals, but it’s totally worth the wait.

 

Mexican Lasagna

A great substitute for taco night!  No to mention the leftovers are delicious.

 

What you need:*

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded & chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 and 1/4 pounds lean ground beef [I used ground chicken, a much leaner alternative]

2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper [You can remove the seeds to reduce the amount of spiciness]

2 cups tomato sauce

1 and 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth [Instead of buying broth, I used a chicken-flavored bullion cube I had in my pantry, dissolved in hot water]

Salt

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

2 cups shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

6 small flour tortillas, cut into three strips each

 

Notice there is a lot of chopping involved.  To help speed up the prep, check out my previous blog post about Essential Kitchen Gadgets!

*I doubled this recipe.

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and green pepper and saute until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Add the beef [or in this case, chicken] and cook until browned, stirring to break up the beef.  Stir in the jalapeno, tomato sauce, 3/4 cup of the beef broth, and a pinch of salt.

3. In a bowl, whisk the flour into the remaining 3/4 cup of beef broth.  Add the flour micture to the beef mixture, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens.  Remove from the heat, add the cilantro, if using, and stir well.

[I got impatient waiting for the sauce to thicken, so I gradually added 3-4 tablespoons of flour until I was happy with the consistency of the mixture.]

4. Fill a casserole dish with the sauce, cheese, and tortilla strips in alternating layers, beginning with a thin sauce layer and ending with a cheese layer.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.

[Since I doubled this recipe, I had a lot more sauce to work with, and did not see strips of tortilla shells being able to handle the meat in the sauce.  Therefore I used whole shells and layered them.  Unfortunately I had to use more than double the shells that the recipe called for.  If you plan to double this recipe, keep in mind that you may need more than the instructed ingredients.]

 

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories 460; Fat 26g; Fiber 3g; Protein 33g; Carbohydrates 26g

I went to a Super Wal-Mart to purchase these ingredients and raided my mother’s kitchen, and for the entire dish it cost me around $16.00, which is about $2.67 per serving.  The prices of the ingredients used in this meal should be similar across all Wal-Mart locations.

 

For a little extra taco-y feeling, include a simple side salad with crunchy croutons, add a few dollops of sour cream upon serving, or top the lasagna with crushed hard taco shells or Doritos before baking.

 

The Healthy College Cookbook just gave a whole new meaning to taco night.

 

Happy dining!

Essential Kitchen Gadgets

If you’re like me, you watch Chopped and Iron Chef America on the Food Network and think you can be just like these critically acclaimed chefs.  You get in the kitchen and start chopping away, having observed their cutting, chopping, and julienning techniques and go “Yes, I can totally be a chef. I’m so good at this!”  Then you look at how much more you need to chop, and after about one-half of an onion, give up on the thought that you’re destined to be a professional chef.  And forget about mincing!  Having to get that garlic to just the right size, not too big to chomp into a piece and be disgusted, but just big enough to get some flavor in every bite.  Well, I have just the tool to help you get over your frustration in the kitchen and to help speed up your prep time.

 

Behold, the Food Chopper.

Yes, the name of the tool says it all!

Pictured to the left is how you receive the product, available for purchase for $31.00 through The Pampered Chef. Of course I didn’t buy this; my mom bought this life-saver quite a few years ago.

Pictured to the right is how the product looks when you are ready to use it.  The rubber protector on the bottom can be removed or used as a “cutting board,” and the blade guard on the inside of the plastic can also be removed to prevent the blade from getting stuck, although it is easier to keep it on.  On the top of the chopper is a spring-loaded “handle” that pushes the blades down in a rotating motion to chop your ingredients.  You can chop as much or as little as you’d like, depending on your preference or recipe directions.  This gadget is pretty much the best helping hand you could ever ask for, especially when it comes to chopping onions or mincing garlic or herbs.

 

But wait, there’s more!

This next handy gadget is a little more affordable and comes in really handy for multiple food uses.  It’s a small stainless steel ice cream scoop, pictured below.

Pictured on the left is the actual scoop, and on the right, the small scoop is compared to a “normal” sized ice cream scoop.

I like to use the small scoop to measure out meat for small homemade meatballs, the perfect amount of cookie dough for baking cookies, scooping batter for cupcakes or muffins, making mini pancakes, a scoop or two for a tuna salad or chicken salad sandwich, controlling my mashed-potato glutton for an open-faced turkey sandwich, and for a portion-controlled serving of ice cream.

Wait…scratch that last one. I don’t eat in “portions” of ice cream.

 

As you can see, there are many uses for this little gadget!  It’s pretty available as well.  I found this device online at Crate&Barrel for $9.95.

 

If you make most of your meals at home, and especially if you follow this blog, I definitely recommend acquiring these two products.  These tools will be extremely helpful in my upcoming posts. (Hint: There will be cookies!)

 

Happy food prep!

Indulgence, PYT Style

After Saint Patrick’s Day this past weekend, I’m sure everyone was looking for a greasy burger to fill their stomachs as a hangover fix.  I have the cure: P.Y.T., the home of “America’s Craaaziest Burgers.” This modern American restaurant is located at The Piazza at Schmidt’s in Northern Liberties, and features a twist on the classic cheeseburger.  P.Y.T. offers a laid back atmosphere with hip music and a friendly staff who are more than happy to help you with whatever you may need.  Featured on their menu are appetizers, sliders, various beef, turkey, and veggie burgers, specialty burgers, regular milkshakes, adult milkshakes, various side dishes, and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).  I like to refer to P.Y.T. as a hot spot for hipsters, but it’s really a great spot for anyone looking to grab a delicious burger that cannot be found anywhere else in Philly.

 

I have been to P.Y.T. once or twice before and was not able to enjoy my burger because I was sick and couldn’t taste anything! So I decided that, since I’m no longer sick, I should go back and really be able to enjoy the taste of a good burger.

Behold, the Turkey Club Burger:

This delicious dish consists of a turkey burger topped with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, crispy bacon, and a P.Y.T. “special sauce” on a potato roll.  Not the healthiest, I admit, but oh-so scrumptious!  I opted to substitute Swiss cheese for American, skip out on the tomato, and add a chipotle mayo sauce (which is the pink squiggles you see on the top half of the bun).  The burger is served with chips and a pickle, where the chips can be substituted by any side dish.  I obviously needed

tater tots, which ran me an additional $2.

 

The turkey patty was perfectly browned all around and had a slight crunch to the outside of it.  The bacon was cooked nice and crispy, and the veggies were all crunchy and refreshing.

 

All of their burgers vary in price from $8-$10, with the substitution of sides an additional $1-$2.  This Turkey Club Burger was $10 plus $2 for the tots.

 

Another perk: for all of you FourSquare users, when you check-in to P.Y.T., you unlock a FREE BEER!

Let me repeat: FREE BEER, just for checking in!

 

If you’re feeling extra adventurous and have a big appetite, P.Y.T. also offers the ultimate eating challenge: the Thunderdome Burger Challenge.  If you dare to attempt, you must eat 4 layers of burger meat with toppings such as cheesesteak, chili, bacon, and mushrooms on a pretzel bun, 4 or 5 tater tots, a shot of Whiskey and a shot of pickle juice (referred to as a PickleBack, which is also a burger on the menu), AND a peanut butter bacon milkshake (Lark After Dark Shake). No big deal, right? Did I mention you have to do it in under 13 minutes?  I was there to witness a contender conquer the Thunderdome Burger Challenge, setting the record of 13 minutes, and let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight.  If you’re serious about this challenge, you’ll gain bragging rights for life.  It’s no joke! As a reward for setting a new record, the winner receives the meal for free, a t-shirt, and your name on the chalkboard of conquerors.  If you do not eat it within the time allotted, but still manage to eat it all, you get the meal for free, normally a $30-$35 value.  And if you can’t finish everything, then you better fork over about $40 for your meal alone.

 

The service was decent.  Not outstanding, but not bad either.  I went on a Sunday for a late lunch on a beautiful 70 degree day, and both indoor and outdoor seating was jam packed.  Nights and weekends tend to be busier here, as it is in the same complex as many bars and restaurants and is a popular destination for grabbing drinks with friends.  I recommend going for lunch or dinner on a weekday if you don’t feel like waiting.  If you don’t mind the wait, a weekend venture is do-able with only a 15-20 minute wait.

 

P.Y.T. does not have a formal website with their menu items listed, but if you are interested in checking out some of the things they have before going, you can visit their Facebook page at PYT Philly and their Twitter page, @pytphilly; their Twitter page has a lot of pictures of their menu items.

 

To recap:

What: Any burger on the menu, specifically the Turkey Club Burger.

Where:  P.Y.T., Northern Liberties (1050 N Hancock St., Philadelphia, PA 19123)

When: Weekdays for lunch and dinner with minimal wait time, weekends have much longer wait times, especially at night.

Why: A fun dining experience with truly unique and delicious food.

 

 

Go ahead, indulge.

Happy dining!

A Taste of Asia, Part 2

Welcome back, foodies!  As you may recall in my recent blog post, A Taste of Asia, a homemade version of sesame chicken and simple steamed green beans were featured, but a full meal was not pictured.  In this post, we complete our simple, healthy meal by making some homemade applesauce and beer bread!  These two items are not necessarily compliant with the Asian meal theme, but the two foods continue to encompass the overall theme around fresh and homemade food, and serve as refreshing and filling side dishes.

 

Applesauce

The consistency of this recipe can be altered according to your personal preferences.

 

What you need:

1/2 cup water

4 apples, peels, cored, and sliced [the book recommends McIntosh, but I used Granny Smith]

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

 

1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.  Add the apple slices, cover, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.  Turn the heat up to medium and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes more, until the apples are very soft.

[I cut my apple slices into thirds so that the apples cooked a little bit quicker and they were easier to mash. Be sure to stir often, as the sugar that is cooking out of the apples may stick to the bottom of the pot and start to burn.]

2. Remove the pan from the heat and, with a fork or spoon, mash the apples until they reach the desired consistency.  Season with cinnamon and nutmeg.

 

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories 100; Fat 0g; Fiber 5g; Protein 0g; Carbohydrates 25g

I went to the Super Fresh in West Ocean City, MD to purchase all of these ingredients, and for the entire dish it cost me $1.50, which is about $0.38 per serving.  I chose to shop at Super Fresh because there are locations in Philadelphia and the prices should be similar across all locations.

 

Beer Bread

This is a speedy bread recipe; no need to wait for the bread to rise! The cookbook suggests to serve with jam or honey, but I recommend cutting into bite-size pieces and dipping into a fondue or spreading warm honey butter over a thin slice.

 

What you need:

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons active dry yeast*

1 (12-ounce) bottle beer [I chose Blue Moon's Pale Moon, a Belgian Pale Ale, to add an orange flavor]

Cooking spray

 

*The yeast that I found for this recipe was only available in sets of 3 individual packets, although there are small jars of active dry yeast available for purchase.  Be sure not to confuse active dry yeast with rapid rise yeast; they are NOT the same!  The conversion of one packet of yeast was 2 & 1/4 teaspoons = 1 packet.  To convert into tablespoons: 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon. To complete this recipe, you’ll need 6 total packets.  Dump the contents of the 6 packets into a small bowl and use a tablespoon to measure out what is required. Discard the remainder. That was the easiest method I could come up with.

 

1. Stir together the flour, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl.  Add the beer and mix well.

[You will see the beer start to interact with the yeast immediately. Don't panic! It's supposed to bubble and rise.]

2. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray; pour in the batter.  Place in a cold oven and set to 350° F.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool the loaf on a rack before removing from the pan.

 

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition per serving:

Calories 230; Fat 0.5g; Fiber 3g; Protein 7g; Carbohydrates 44g

 

 

 

I went to the Super Fresh  and a local gas station (for the beer) in West Ocean City, MD to purchase all of these ingredients, and for the entire dish it cost me $6.00, which is about $0.75 per serving.  I chose to shop at Super Fresh because there are locations in Philadelphia and the prices should be similar across all locations.

 

The beer bread recipe is pretty versatile, especially if you choose to use a seasonal beer, like a pumpkin flavor in the fall or a raspberry or cherry wheat flavor in the spring/summer months.  The type of beer that you pick adds a lingering flavor that keeps you going back for more!  Be warned: this is a heavy bread! Eat in moderation.

 

I paired the Sesame Chicken, Simple Green Beans, Applesauce and Beer Bread with lightly buttered yolk-free egg noodles to create a well-rounded dish inspired by Asian cuisine.

You don’t have to spend much or travel far in order to have a nice meal! Sometimes all it takes is chicken and some spices to create a delicious dinner.  Feel free to add orange or lemon zest to your sesame chicken for a hint of citrus.

 

Keep it fresh. Keep it yummy.

Happy dining!

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