Sunday Round-Up ~ February 28th 2010

Dining Out: Theater Concession Stands ~ Healthy Eats - Some of the calorie counts are quite shocking! This is an eye-opening read for any of you who frequent the concession stand of your local movie theater. I like to get the Kiddie pack whenever it's available depending on the theater. A small popcorn, a small bag of candy and a small soda. I don't drink soda, so I usually ask for lemonade, iced tea or just water.

Ask me anything: Food and Nutrition Questions - Dine Dish Delish/Eat Well With Janel - Dietician Janel answers some readers' questions.

Spicy Asian Slaw Recipe with Napa Cabbage, Carrots & Ginger Dressing - Cookin' Canuck - I could just envision her jumping up and down eating a bowl of her new slaw.

Here is some love for Brown Butter

Brown Butter Snickerdoodles - Recipe Girl

Brown Butter & Chocolate Oatmeal Bar Recipe - Cookin' Canuck

Swedish Meatball Plate

Swedish meatballs have been haunting me for the past few months. I have seen them everywhere. In the frozen food section. Plastered on big signs outside Ikea cafeterias. In the prepared food section at Wilson Farms. On food blogs. Everytime I turn around, it seems as though Swedish meatballs are staring me in the face. Maybe this was a sign that I should make them?

I am a lucky girl because one of my best friends just happens to be a Swede. Jonas, guest blogger and curator of All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing! is an excellent chef and knowledgable in everything Svensk. I sent him an e-mail asking for his advice on how to make Swedish meatballs. He sent me instructions plus this wonderful photograph of a plate with Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, gherkins (pickles) and a small bowl of lingonberries. Jonas makes his meatballs with ground beef and sometimes uses veal (which he affectionately calls "Satan" because he knows how much I loathe the existence of veal). His recipe is simple. Beef, onions, salt, pepper and water. That's it. I modified a few things. I replaced pickles with fresh, sliced cucumbers and lingonberries with the American equivalent, cranberries. The result was terrific! For me, egg noodles would have been more palatable but the beau loved the mashed potatoes. I sincerely hope you'll try out this plate!


Cranberry Sauce:
2 cups of cranberries
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of sugar

Mashed Potatoes:
6 Yukon Gold Potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup whole milk
3-4 tablespoons of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Swedish Meatballs
1-1/2 ground beef
1/2 onion finely diced
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste if you dare

Swedish Meatball Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup of beef broth
2-4 tablespoons of heavy cream*
(*depends on how light you want the sauce)

2 thinly sliced pickle cucumbers
Chopped fresh parsley or chives for garnish


Cranberry Sauce
Rinse your cranberries and remove any stems.

Add two tablespoons of butter to a sauce pan and heat at medium heat. Add your cranberries and 1/2 cup of sugar and stir until the cranberries are coated in melted butter and sugar. Heat on medium-high until bubbling then turn down the heat to low and simmer until sauce gets nice and thick. Stir occassionally to prevent sticking. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Mashed Potatoes

Peel and chop your Yukon Gold potatoes. Add to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Salt the pot and let boil until the potatoes are cooked. A good test is to run a knife through a chunk of potato. At the point that a knife goes clean through the chunk with hardly any effort, the potatoes are done. Drain all the water out of the pot and turn heat down to low. With the potatoes in the pot, mash them with your potato masher and add the butter and milk. Mash until it's the consistency you want. Set aside. Keep warm at very low heat and with the top on the pot. There is nothing worse than cold mashed potatoes!

Swedish Meatball Sauce

Start with making a roux. Add your tablespoon of butter and tablespoon of flour to a sauce pot.

Whisk as the roux cooks making sure all the melted butter and flour is incorporated. Cook for a minute or two until the roux turns a nice golden color and starts to bubble.

Turn up the heat and slowly pour in your beef broth whisking as you go along. Do this in stages and make sure there are no lumps. Whisk whisk whisk. Add the heavy cream until it's the color you want. Cook until sauce gets thick, whisking all the while. Set heat to very low and cover. Set aside.

Swedish Meatballs

Mince your onion very fine. (See my tutorial on How to Chop an Onion). Sautee the onion in a skillet with a tablespoon of oil until the onions are soft and translucent. Set aside and let cool before mixing with the ground beef.

Mix your ground beef, minced onion, salt and pepper (and garlic powder if you are feeling frisky), in a bowl. Add water to soften the mixture. Test this out by adding a tablespoon at a time. Do this instead of adding a filler like breadcrumbs or a binder like eggs. Roll the mixture into one inch balls.

Heat a skillet with oil and cook the meatballs until they are brown on all sides.  Cook them in batches so as to not overcrowd the pan. If you want, you can keep already cooked meatballs warm in the oven by putting them in a baking dish, cover them with foil and adding them to a 325 degree oven.


Assemble your plate with a big scoop of mashed potatoes and several Swedish meatballs. Drizzle sauce over meatballs and add some sliced cucumbers on the side. Sprinkle some fresh parsley or chives over the top. In this shot, I have the cranberry sauce on the side in a separate bowl.


Swedish Meatballs

Kikkoman Ponzo Lime ~ Marinated Flank Steak Sandwich

Foodbuzz and Kikkoman recently sent me a bottle of Kikkoman's new Ponzo Lime Citrus Seasoned Dressing & Sauce to try out. I was very inspired by Vietnamese style sandwiches (Bahn Mi) and wanted to try to make one by using the Ponzo, fresh lime juice (to enhance the lime flavor of the Ponzo) and lean flank steak. The result was great! This is by no means a traditional Bahn Mi but it's a good attempt. Next time I might add some thinly sliced onion.

If you can't find Daikon, just use thinly sliced radishes. However, I highly recommend trying to find Daikon. My favorite produce market, Wilson Farm, almost always carries it and I've seen it in a few other places. It's got a radish flavor which is more mild and palatable than proper radishes.

A piece of flank steak (at room temperature)
1 lime
1 bottle of Kikkoman's Ponzo Lime Seasoned Dressing & Sauce
1/2 cup of thinly sliced Daikon (in half moons)
1/2 cup of thinly sliced cucumber (in half moons)
1/2 cup of thinly sliced carrots
Fresh baked bread
Cornstarch (optional)

Season your flank steak liberally with salt. Then squeeze a lime and smear the juice all over the steak on both sides. Let sit for a few minutes.

In a shallow dish, add 3/4 of your bottle of Kikkoman Ponzo Lime so that the flank steak is completely covered. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Heat up your grill pan with a light coating of oil. When it's super hot, add the flank steak. Cook steak for about 10 minutes on each side. This for me gets it medium-well but cook it to your preference. Just test it with your finger. If it's soft, it's more rare. If it's a bit tough, it's medium. If it's really tough, it's well done.

Set aside steak and let it rest. In the mean time, slice your carrots, daikon and cucumber and chop some cilantro.

Cut flank steak into very thin slices. Cut with a serrated knife and at an angle, going against the grain of the meat. The thinner the better.

Slice open a few loaves of bread and toast in the oven for a few minutes. Then fill them up with steak and vegetables.

Optional Sauce: Heat up the last of the Kikkoman Ponzo Lime in a skillet and add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Whisk until cornstarch is incorporated and heat until the sauce gets thick. If it gets too thick, feel free to add a tablespoon of water to thin it out. Drizzle the sauce over the meat before adding to the sandwich.


Vietnamese Sandwiches

Progresso SouperYou Giveaway Winner!

And the winner of the Progresso SouperYou Giveaway is...

Congratulations Jonas and a special thanks to everyone who participated. Stay tuned to Thoughtful Eating for more giveaways.

Sunday Roundup ~ February 21st, 2010

Zesty Baked Chicken Wings ~ We Are Not Martha - These look damn good!

Monkeybread with Cream Cheese Glaze ~ Smitten Kitchen - Just looking at this thing makes me feel fat and confirms that I need to go on a diet. If I felt skinny, I might try making this.

Blueberry-Balsamic Slow Cooker Pork Ribs ~ Coconut & Lime - This one was a headscratcher. One of the reasons I love this site, is that the blogger is very creative and takes risks with her cooking. I'm not sure I'd make this, but don't let that stop you.

Quinoa with Caramelized Mushrooms, Soy Sauce & Ginger ~ Cookin' Canuck - She loves her mushrooms, her soy sauce and her red peppers! I've been curious about quinoa ever since my friends H. and Lisa started cooking with it. This recipe looks intriguing.

Pickled Green Tomato BLT ~ Closet Cooking - I think I'm in love.

If you want to have your blog considered for future Sunday Roundups, please feel free to e-mail me at QuelleLove at gmail dot com.

How to Chop an Onion

Several people I know have asked my opinion about chopping onions. The first inquiry I get is always how to chop an onion without crying. The only way I know to prevent the iritation of the eyes is to wear contacts. When you cut into an onion, it releases an enzyme that reacts with the water in your eyes. The enzyme and the water react and create an acid which iritates the pupil. It doesn't iritate the white of your eye and because the pupils are completely covered by the contacts, you can cut an onion without any problems. But not everyone wears contacts.

So the only other way I can think of to prevent eye iritation while chopping an onion is to do it as quickly as possible and with a sharp knife. Onions are a bit cumbersome with the papery out layers, the layers of flesh within, the root and the roundness of the vegetable (round things like to roll!). It can take a while to chop an onion which will make you take several visits to the freezer to cool off your eyes. So I'm here to teach you how to chop an onion quickly and efficiently. You may still cry, but it will be over with quickly since you'll be an onion-chopping master.

Place your onion on your chopping board. Make sure you use a good knife.

Chop your onion in half from the top to the bottom.

Lay each half on your cutting board, cut-side down. Cut off the top bit of the onion like in the picture above. Make sure you cut off the top part and not the root. It's important for the root to stay on.

Remove the papery skin of the onion. Leave the root on! Cut into each half twice creating 3 large slices. If your onion is small, cut into each half once to create 2 large slices. Do not cut all the way through. Leave the root on!

Take your knife and cut slits in the other direction. Do not cut all the way through the root. The onion half should stay together. Leave the root on!

Now run your knife across the onion half in the other direction until you get to the root. Throw out the root.

Voila! Chopped onions without tears (or at least with very few).

*You can dice or mince by creating more slices lengthwise and more slits in the other direction. Or you could take the chopped pieces and run your knife over them holding the tip of the knife on the chopping board and lifting the knife up and down, chopping as you go.


Arepa ~ Dominican Corn Meal & Coconut Cake

I've been trying to make more of the traditional dishes and desserts from my mother's country the Dominican Republic. I grew up eating both Arina de Maiz (Corn Meal pudding) and Arepa (Corn Meal & Coconut Cake). Both are essentially the same recipe with the latter having the addition of coconut milk and the added step of baking it in the oven. When I made this recently, I was very tempted to just eat the whole pot as hot pudding but after several spoonfuls I decided to go through with making this into a proper Arepa.

Arepa is difficult to describe. Different ways I could describe it include: congealed sweet corn pudding; a really moist coconut/corn cake; bread-pudding like corn meal cake; a slice of heaven. Don't confuse this Arepa with the traditional arepas of Mexico and South America. Those are savory flat cornbreads that look a bit like English muffins. Dominican Arepa is a dessert!

The recipe for this comes from the wonderful website Dominican Cooking.

Ingredients & Materials:

Butter for greasing
Cake pan

2 cups of corn flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1-1/2 cups of sugar
4 whole cinammon sticks
1/4 cup of raisins
3 cups of evaporated milk (2 -12.5 oz cans)
1 cup of coconut milk
3 cups of water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Add dry ingredients and wet ingredients to a big pot and stir thoroughly. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly so the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom, or worse BURN!

When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and stir until the mixture is gloopy and thick. It should coat your spoon and have the consistency of cream of wheat or thick pudding. Turn off the heat and remove the cinammon sticks.

Butter your baking dish/cake pan.

Add mixture to the pan and smooth the surface with a spoon. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the top is brown and a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Let it rest for a few hours so the cake sets. Cut into wedges and serve. You can make your own caramel sauce to drizzle over the top if so desired. Enjoy!

Yellow Cornmeal on FoodistaYellow Cornmeal

Black-Russian Cake

My friend H. recently made a delicious Black Russian Cake for a movie night (read about the movie night here). The recipe comes from AllRecipes and according to H. it's pretty authentic and the results are similar to the cake she's had in Russia when she lived there. It was a delicious cake. Firm on the outside, soft in the middle and covered in a delicious glaze. It's just the right combination of chocolate and coffee flavors. H. shared some pictures with me that I thought I'd share here with all of you. I hope you'll take the opportunity to make this cake. What other time will you be able to cook with vodka and Kahlua?!

Cake batter in H.'s new bundt pan.

H.'s dog Asher was tired after working so hard helping H. with the cake.

A beautiful shot of the cake from above after it was glazed.

The glaze is a combination of Kahlua and confectioner's sugar. Mmm...

Cake is done! Time for a nap.

Black Russian Bundt Cake

Valentine's Sunday Round-Up ~ February 14th, 2010

For this special Valentine's Day round-up, I thought I'd feature some dishes I have made for my beau Carlos.

Smoked Paprika Chicken via  Cookin' Canuck - I gave him leftovers in a tupperware container and he loved it so much that he gnawed at the container in a desperate attempt to get more.
Chicken, Black Bean Chipotle Soup via Cookin' Canuck and slightly altered version via Thoughtful Eating - This has been a staple soup and a regular crockpot meal. It's a shared favorite.
Pastel de Choclo - Carlos is half-Chilean and this is one of his favorite dishes.
Chocolate-Chip Banana Bread - After a date at Flatbread, I made this banana bread. And I made it again. And again. And Carlos enjoyed it every time.
Platinum Blondies (with chocolate chips instead of white chocolate chips) - The first dessert I ever made for Carlos.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Progresso SouperYou Product Reviews and Giveaway

It's time for another giveaway! This is sponsored again by Progresso and MyBlogSpark. They sent me cans of Progresso Light and 100 Calorie soups to try out and I had fun including them as part of a healthy lunch. I get bored easily, so the fact that there are so many different flavors to try out keeps my tastebuds hopping!

Progresso is also having a SouperYou promotion to market their low calorie soups. In addition to my little giveaway, you can sign up for their big sweepstakes which includes a trip to NYC from May 21st-2rd. It includes free airfaire, 2-night stay at a hotel, a makeover and a $1k shopping spree and a consultation at a major NY department store. Pretty sweet. You can't sign up for that here. Go to  to sign up. You have to sign up for that before March 15th so get to it.

Here is a sampling of the soups I tried out:

Beef Pot Roast
80 calories per serving, 2 servings
- My favorite out of the bunch! Good pieces of beef, lots of vegetables, tasty broth. It was excellent.

Chicken Barley
80 calories per serving, 2 servings
- Good nice pieces of chicken, carrots, onions, celery and peas! The barley gave the soup some substance.

French Onion
50 calories per serving, 2 servings
- Not so good on it's own. If you can't make French onion soup on your own, get this and go all out with the bread and cheese.

Southwest Style Vegetable
60 calories per serving, 2 servings
- Great Southwest flavor, the addition of black beans is very nice. Chockfull of veggies.

Traditional Manhattan Clam Chowder
100 calories per serving, 2 servings
- I'm mostly a New England Clam Chowder but I like to have occassional affairs with the Manhattan version. This tryst was delightful.

Light Italian Style Meatball
80 calories per serving, 2 servings
- This was just ok. The meatballs and the pasta were tasty but the vegetables were negligible. I would have liked more content.

Light Chicken and Dumplings
80 calories per serving, 2 servings
- Good attempt! I applaud Progresso for trying this. It's hard to package the Dumplings though so they were so-so. I'd rather take plain chicken soup in a can and add biscuit dough to it while it's heating up.

Chicken & Wild Rice
100 calories per serving, 2 servings
- You cannot go wrong with Chicken & Wild Rice soup and Progresso did well with this one. Lots of wild rice, which I enjoy and nice chunks of chicken.

Hearty Penne
80 calories per serving, 2 servings
- Take a pass on this one. It was so bland and boring. Just penne, carrots, bland broth and a few bits of celery. And one lonely kernel of corn (which I think was there in error).

*Calorie counts come from the soup cans themselves!

Now onto the giveaway! One selected candidate will win 2 cans of Progresso soup, a Progresso soup mug and a Progresso digital jump rope complete with counter and adjustable straps. Pretty swell package.

To enter the contest, tell me one clever way you try to reduce your calorie intake. For me, if given the option, I always order in small. Never in medium, large, extra-large, super-size, venti, etc. I even order Starbucks drinks in Short size. It's not on the menu, but they will serve you any hot drink that size if you request it.

Contest Rules and Guidelines:

1) In the comment form or in an e-mail to QuelleLove at gmail dot com, tell me a clever way in which you reduce your calorie intake.
2) Submit your entry by Sunday 2/21.
3) Names of participants will be written on slips of paper, to be swirled around in my trusty cloche hat and one will be picked out blindly and at random.
4) You cannot indicate which soups you want. So just know, that if you are vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions that you may end up with a soup you don't want.
5) I will announce the winner here on Monday the 22nd and will contact the winner for shipping address information to send out the Progresso SouperYou package.

How to Cook Rice ~ Raquelle-Style

This is the method of cooking rice that my mother passed down to me. I don't know how she developed it, or why it works, but it's by far the best way to cook rice. My mother uses extra oil in hers but I like to keep it light. If you decide to try this method, just do all the steps. Don't question them, do them. Good luck.

Start with 2 cups of long grain rice.

Wash the rice thoroughly by filling a bowl with the rice with water. Move the rice around with your fingers so that the water has access to the kernels. Drain the water. Repeat until the water you are draining is almost clear. You are removing a lot of the excess starch off the rice by doing this.

Now you have clean rice!

In the meantime, boil some water.

In your pot, add about a tablespoon of oil for every cup of rice. So in this case, add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot. Heat the oil at medium heat until it starts to sizzle.

Stir in the rice so that it's coated with the hot oil. Cook for about 2 minutes. Coating the rice with oil will help prevent stickiness and cooking the rice in advance this way will help bring out the natural flavor of the rice.

For every 1 cup of rice, add 1-1/2 cups of water. In this case, add 3 cups of boiling water. Stir thoroughly.

Salt the pot well. Taste test the salted water until it's too your liking. Do this now because it will be difficult to season the rice later.

Cook rice at medium high heat, stirring occasionally.

Cook until the rice absorbs almost all of the water. Create a little well in the center of the rice and smooth the rice around the well evenly. When that well is almost dry of water, turn the heat down to low.

Cover the top of the pot with a large piece of aluminum foil. Don't ask why. Just do it. Then add the cover on top. Cook for 10 minutes.

At 10 minutes, turn over the rice. Don't just fluff it! Turn sections of it over. This way all the rice gets some time at the bottom of the pot, closest to the heat source.

Cover with the foil and pot cover and cook for 10 more minutes. Fluff the rice and serve. Enjoy!


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