Kelly the Culinarian: April 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cooking with Kelly: Royal wedding edition!

I was sooo psyched for the Royal Wedding. Was it as awesome as you thought? Personally, I think Kate and Pippa are impossibly thin, but man they rocked those dresses! Kate went far more classic/traditional that I thought she would, but classy was the name of the game, and she certainly hit the mark. I hosted a viewing party last night after work and we gorged ourselves on food (What, Kate wasn't eating, we might as well eat for her!).

So here's what was on the menu:

The cinnamon glazed scones were probably the highlight, although the cupcakes smothered in lemon curd were amazing!

Napoleon was unimpressed by this whole Royal Wedding business, despite being British.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cooking with Kelly: Healthy grilled dinner

We had some nice weather recently {but not tonight ... sigh}, so we grilled. I'm on a big chicken kick lately, so I grilled a set of chicken breast dressed simply with salt and pepper. I also made grilled sweet potatoes by microwaving them for three minutes each, then cutting it in half and brushing it with olive oil. While it takes about 20 minutes to grill the chicken, it only takes perhaps five minutes to create nice grill marks on the potatoes. I added a mustard-based barbecue sauce to the chicken and paired this with a quick romaine and spinach salad.

Oh grill, how I miss thee.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Food Find: Eggstacy

Brunch is probably my favorite meal. You can get either breakfast or lunch (or both) and it makes it completely acceptable to drink before noon.

My friend Jackie is also a fan of brunch. When we decided to meet up for a weekend treat, she suggested Eggstacy in Oakbrook Terrace. After reading the stellar reviews on Yelp, we thought this was a sure thing. Plus, a place that serves chocolate-covered bacon and make awesome egg puns (We bEGG to differ, Bringing sEGGxy back), you can't go wrong.

When I arrived I was immediately struck with how adorable this place was. The decor is decidedly bright -- orange vinyl couches, yellow end tables, yellow walls and light fixtures made with fake oranges. The walls are also covered with oversized picture-frame shelves with roosters painted yellow. This place is certainly trying to make me feel better about mornings.

And the food was also awesome. I started with a fantasia smoothie, which included strawberries, honeydew and O.J. Totally fab and generous portion size. Jackie ordered the omelette with carmelized pear, cinnamon and cream cheese. Our waitress said she hadn't eaten it and had never seen anyone order this dish, and that's a shame because it was delicious. As Jackie told me, it was a happy medium between getting an egg dish and French toast, so you get the best of both worlds.

I got two poached eggs with fruit, turkey sausage and pancakes. So it wasn't entirely healthy, but all things in moderation, right? The eggs were fine, the fruit was fresh and the turkey sausage was nicely seasoned. On a tangent, why do breakfast places always have turkey sausage but never turkey bacon? Anyhow, the pancakes were to amazing. They were perfectly cooked -- tender in the middle, brown on the edges and layered with flavor. In addition to the great texture, I detected a hint of spice in these pancakes. It might have been allspice or cinnamon, but it was great. And they don't scrimp with cheap syrup, either.

I give this place a resounding two thumbs up and will definitely get out there again!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cooking with Kelly: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

I've been craving for pumpkin lately, but pumpkin pie is out of the question, mostly because it's not the season and it's not great for the diet. Also, if I'm going to have pie, it's going to be something way more decadent than pumpkin. French silk? Peanut butter turtle? Yes, please.

But I digress. I made this pumpkin pie oatmeal one morning and I had lots of leftovers, mostly because my husband wouldn't eat it. Maybe I should stop prefacing meals with "I don't know if you're going to like this." Also, maybe I should find a way for this to not look like baby food. Hmm ....

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/4 cup instant oats

1/4 cup old fashioned oats

1 tablespoon Splenda

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Raisins (optional, but super delicious)

Splash of soy milk/nonfat milk

Mix all the ingredients together, adding enough soy milk or nonfat milk to get the consistency you prefer. I like my oatmeal hot and nuke it for a minute, but some people like to eat it cold like cereal. This recipe is packed with fiber, which will keep you full. I like the texture of instant oats and old fashioned oats mixed together, but you can substitute whichever you prefer. If you like Irish oats (also called steel cut), you may wish to mix this up the night before and let it sit in the fridge so that the oats can soften up.

And, if you have any ideas on how to make this not look like my niece's food, I'm all ears.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Food Find: Litton's, Knoxville, Tennessee

We recently took a road trip to North Carolina and stopped at some really cool places along the way. One stop was Litton's, an eatery that's been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The place is super cute and reminds me of a diner from back in the day. We split a burger and a slice of chocolate cake. The portions are huge and the fries were very memorable -- crispy on the outside, but not overcooked and just the right amount of salt.

The cake slice was huge as well and reminds me of something my grandma would make from scratch. The chocolate was not as sweet as something that comes from a box and the icing was very rich. I only wish that I still had room to eat one of their chocolate chip cookies, which were the size of a softball and made with giant chocolate chips. Yum.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cooking with Kelly: Green Monster Shake

OK, right off the bat, this doesn't look pretty. Sorry. Some things in life aren't. It does, however, taste fantastic and is really great for you.

A green monster shake combines some type of greens, most commonly spinach, with fruit juice, fruits or yogurt to mask the taste of the greens. I like green monster shakes because they help me get a lot of different fruits and veggies in one snack, usually for less than 300 calories. At this point, I'm trying to eat around 300 calories about every three hours, so this fits the bill.

Here's my favorite concoction:

1 large banana in chunks

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup packed fresh baby spinach

4 ounces pure orange juice (not from concentrate)

Pulse together in a blender or food processor until well incorporated. For 240 calories, you get 60 percent of your daily value of Vitamin A, a third of your folate, 45 percent of your magnesium and 200 percent of your Vitamin C! And I promise, you can't even taste the spinach.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What I Ate: New York

I recently made a trip to New York City for work and I ate my way from one end to the other. True story, I gained three pounds in five days. Sigh. So here's the toll:

New York-style pizza at Two Boots. The one on the left had spicy sausage, pepperoni and goat cheese, the one on the right is cheese. The crust was decent and the toppings were tasting, but I like my husband's homemade deep dish pizza better. Bonus: this was by far my cheapeast meal in NYC.

Welcome to Good Burger, Home of the Good Burger! (It's a Keenan and Kell movie, folks) Here, I had a single burger with "the works" (lettuce, tomatoe, pickles, onion, mayo, ketchup, mustard) with a side of fries. The fries were huge! They claim to be the best burger in New York, and they were pretty good.