Eat Local: DiBruno Bros.

Welcome to the final day in February! I’m not counting down or anything (wink wink!) but there are a lot of exciting spring time happenings that become all that much closer with the arrival of the month of March. One of those things?

The debut of DiBruno Bros in the Ardmore Farmer’s Market.

 

Photo from lefthandbrewing.blogspot.com

 

If you haven’t caught on yet, I get really excited when a part of Philadelphia moves into my hood. I know the city is just a 20 minute drive away, but very rarely is it ever that easy to make a quick trip in and out, except maybe for a cheesesteak run at 2 am!

DiBruno Brothers will certainly be welcomed with open arms when they turn on their cash registers next month. There is no doubt that their new Ardmore location will not hold the same market style ambiance that the original Chestnut Street location is known for, but still what a great addition to the area, bringing along cooking demonstrations, specialty items, and of course, the cheese! It will be all right there,  just a hop skip and a jump down Lancaster Avenue. Speaking of the cheese which they are wildly famous for, I can’t forget to mention, hand pulled mozzarella on site at Ardmore Fridays and Saturdays?? You know there will be a Caprese salad on my table at least one weekend a month!

So, Main Line Mamas, prepare your cheese boards.

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A Work in Progress: Dark Chocolate Morsel Oatmeal Cookies.

Don’t get me wrong, I could easily enjoy at least 5 of my dark chocolate oatmeal cookies in one sitting. That does not mean I am satisfied with them though. No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to make these goodies the way my Mama made them for me growing up. It is our joke that every time I pull out the recipe I call her and yell at her for not disclosing a step or an ingredient. Needless to say, I never like to have anything totally perfect… but I also never quit till I get what I want.

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Out of the box: Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.

We all do it, have done it, will do it, and frankly I think love to do it. What exactly? Baking from a box. There is a critic for everything and I know there are bountiful boxed cake critics, but I really don’t care. (Hey, someone made it big by reinventing the world of boxed cakes. The Cake Mix Doctor, anyone??) But really, sometimes you just want to take the path of least resistance, and it’s not like that path doesn’t always taste amazing! Alright, so you can’t brag that you came up with this recipe or spent hours slaving over a mixing bowl in the kitchen, but in the long run, all people remember should remember is how sweet and tasty a dessert is. Don’t be ashamed of your Betty Crocker swagger. I know we all have one!

Last night’s adventure was sponsored by Stonewall kitchen and one of my best friends, Laura. About a year ago came one of the most wonderful surprises in my life, two new roommates! My forever roommate would be sure to admit that our lives would be very different without the introduction of Laura and Brittany into our world. Laura calls me Mom and I call her my daughter. It doesn’t describe our relationship, but really just the fact that we are always looking out for one another. My little daughter really looked out for me when she gifted me this delicious mix to help introduce me into the world of Whoopie Pies! And red velvet Whoopie Pies to boot. The red velvet is just a small reminder of the day that I baked one of my all time favorite red velvet cake for my roommates… I think it lasted out on the counter maybe 36 hours. Oh, YUM!

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(47) Supper …. The Review.

Supper is served, every night!

Is it possible that Philadelphia Magazine’s #42 actually left me speechless… or shall I say it is a self-diagnosed case of chef got my tongue, seriously? I don’t think my taste buds have yet to walk out of the beautiful glass vestibule of this gorgeous, but understated eatery.

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Hello, Hand Rolled Gnocchi!

I am blessed to be able to say that there have been a few times in my life where I have felt like I was in paradise. Santorini was one of those places. It is probably one of the only cities in the world where you actually feel like you are walking in a dreamland. I captured some of my greatest photographs there, but Santorini was also the place where I found the best gnocchi dish I have ever had. Seated inches from the pebble strewn beach and the crashing clear water, this little bistro blew my mind! It was simple, gnocchi with a tomato sauce and lots of basil, and you know simple is always my thing.

A few experiences have come along since then that could have tried to challenge that night’s dinner. A close competitor was the gnocchi dish I ordered at this little bistro in New York City.  But, I am not always in paradise and I am certainly not always traveling. So, when my feet are firmly planted on the Main Line, some of the best can be found  at Teresa’s Cafe in Wayne, PA where I would recommend their Gnocchi Sorrentino, or even try asking for Gnocchi alla Bolognese.

 

Teresa's gnocchi ... Photo from the blog http://www.dammitletseat.com

What is it about gnocchi that makes it so unforgettable? This post is dedicated to a man in my life that reminded me of just how memorable homemade gnocchi can be…. thanks kid.

Gnocchi is the Mr. Independent of pastas. It’s consistency, size, weight, flavor, and sheer decadence are unmatched by any other type of pasta. If someone wants Gnocchi Sorrentino, it’s not like you can just throw some angel hair into the dish and it will taste the same. Whether the gnocchi are made from potato or from a dough combination, they are like little pillows of perfection in any dish you put them in. All it takes is one bite into one of the little nibs and you will be their biggest fan just like me.

That being said, one of the greatest qualities about gnocchi is that it is a specialty. It is not like you can grab a box of Barilla brand gnocchi when it is on sale for a dollar at your local grocery store. If that doesn’t make them one of a kind and unforgettable, I am not sure what will!

In the March 2011 Food and Wine Magazine I found a recipe for dough based gnocchi that I have been dying to make for the last few weeks…


 

Well, last night I finally got a chance to do it!

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Quinoa Tabouli Salad.

Quinoa, pronounced, KEEYNWA. (N.) – An amazingly versatile, extremely healthy, complete protein packed, Peruvian whole grain.

These little guys changed my life. Well, actually we have a love/hate relationship, but that relationship changed me for the better. I discovered quinoa about 2 years ago, allowing it to serve as my whole grain option to avoid all types of complex carbohydrate cravings. From it I made side dishes, entrees, pilafs, risottos, salad toppers, and on the go throw in a Ziploc during class snack. I also learned very quickly that quinoa four times per week makes you hate it, but isn’t that the case with everything in life! All things in proper balance is my motto.

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Favorite Food of the Week: FroYo.

To show simple gratitude for allowing me to perch in their comfy leather chairs every other day, this week’s favorite food spotlight is dedicated to Saxbys Coffee in Wayne, PA. When I say every other day, I mean every other day. There is something about the cozy atmosphere, exposed brick walls, adorable patrons, and ego-less baristas that makes my creative clock tick when I am there. I do almost all my writing and photo editing with my laptop balancing on one knee, and cup of name that drink in my right hand, and whatever Pandora station fits my mood for the day quietly humming through my headphones.

 

the view from my seat.

I love hearing all of the sounds, the loud steaming of milk, the grinding coffee, the blending of ice, or the best sound, the endless scoops from the jars of toppings used to decorate their non-fat frozen yogurt, or as they call it, “FroYo.” The tartness is accented so perfectly by any combination of toppings; my preference? chocolate chips and toasted silvered almonds. On the days when I fear a FroYo overdose, I usually opt for a green tea or of course the best thing I have ever tasted, from any coffee shop, their sugar-free, non-fat Chai latte. Starbucks and most coffee houses take the easy way out and use Tazo brand chai, but my tongue has sadly gone numb to that. I am not sure what Saxbys secret ingredient is for their chai but it is an amazing all year round treat with my summer staple being their Chai fro-latte, their awesome take on a frappuccino!

 

Check out another super cool blogger, “Not Just Take Out” and her take on the Saxbys in Manayunk!

Saxbys Coffee

11o E. Lancaster Avenue

Wayne, PA 19087

 

Homemade! Organic Granola Bars and Bites.

There are a few things that I never considered making from scratch, granola bars being one of them. With the stupid supply on every grocery store, gas station, pharmacy, and coffee shop shelf I really never looked at granola bars as anything but that grab and go, eat but never really taste it because you’ve had so many, snack. Well, Nature Valley, you’ve got nothing on me anymore!!

Thanks to the wonderful inspiration from a great blog, Sweet Pea’s Kitchen , I recently baked up my first batch of organic granola bars and bites. Taking her recipe and spicing it up a little bit (literally), I not only made my bars organic, and relatively unprocessed, but I also kicked up the mix of flavors! What I hate about granola bars is their lack of taste, so If I was going to take the leap to make my own, I couldn’t continue to perpetuate that issue.

What resulted? Well take a peek…

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Where there is no Sunday Brunch….

There is a breakfast fit for a champion…..

Sunday morning is a great time to celebrate your week, whether it was the best 6 days of your life, or whether they were 6 days you prefer to never think about again.

No matter what kind of week I have, Sunday can only begin in one way, with a special breakfast. Every other day I succumb to egg whites and oatmeal, so Sunday always brings some kind of sweet treat.

Today I wanted to go to Standard Tap in Philly for brunch, but with a change in plans, it was breakfast in the big kitchen…

This Sunday’s treat was quick, healthy, and completely satisfying.

Start with any type of frozen whole grain waffles… Van’s makes a bunch of awesome options like this “lite” variety which are my favorite.

I try to keep all my breakfasts full of whole grains since they are amazing for your body, so these waffles are always a nice option. With a hint of cinnamon baked in they are so light and fluffy and taste practically home made!

Topping off this morning’s plate came a dollop of protein from an all natural unsweetened peanut butter, add a small cup of maple syrup, and of course a healthy serving of fresh fruit that I just bought from the produce market! A complete, treat!

Now all that I have left to say is, Good Morning!