Thursday, April 30, 2009

Delicious Salsa From Pennsylvania?!?!

Yes, it's true! I've found some all-natural, tasty, PA-Preferred salsa! While Greg was at the Broad Street Market last week, he picked up a jar of Torchbearer Black Bean Mild Salsa. Boy oh boy, this was flavorful and addictive... even with just a few ingredients (see photo of label below)! We ate it with chips but I also put some on tacos.
After looking around Torchbearer's very cool website, I found out that 3 guys from Mechanicsburg began experimenting with hot sauces because of their large pepper crop and as time passed, they established a sauce- and salsa-making franchise. The salsa we tried contains the #4 Tingly Sauce, which I really enjoy... just the right amount of hotness.
Torchbearer products can be found at the 2 Whole Foods locations in PA, at the PA Farm Show in January and apparently every now and then, at the Broad Street Market. You can also purchase products from their website.
There are even some recipes on the website. I think I want to try these burgers topped with a slice of cheddar... I'll have to get some Super Fancy Sultry Sauce though.
So if you're ever out and about and come across a Torchbearer product, try it out! Even though I've only had one of their several products, I have a strong feeling they're all quite yum!
You can see how much the two of us ate in one evening!

Thanks, Greg, for picking up this great treat!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sapporo East Review

Check out The Savvy Grouse post for Sapporo East.

This eatery is wonderful... if you live in the area, it's definitely worth a trip!

Vegetable Tempura from Sapporo

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Susanne's Baby Shower

Last Saturday I went to visit Susi for her Baby Shower. Her co-workers (yes, I was the only non-German-speaking female) threw her a very nice get-together. Katarina, the wonderful hostess, invited us to her home where we had a champagne toast, ate cake and opened presents. Then we piled in cars and drove down the road to a park along the Potomac River where we had a picnic. The weather was perfect for an outdoor barbeque! Susi got some great, useful gifts. One of her co-workers came with her 18 day old baby boy. As you can see below, Susi loved the baby and was asking his mom a plethora of questions that are running through her mind. I don't know if the answers put her worries and thoughts to ease or made her more anxious. Either way, Susi is doing very well and baby Alex is growing quickly. Aunt Hopey is so excited for her late-June (what Susi's hoping for) or early-July (due date is July 5) arrival! Bec and I are going down on May 16 to do maternity photos - the last time I'll see Susi before the baby is born!
After several great recommendations, I got a cake for the shower from Wegman's. Vanilla cake, filled with fresh strawberry slices, iced with vanilla buttercream frosting... this cake was truly delicious! I've already decided it's the cake I'll get for Arielle's graduation party in June. The text on this cake: The big day is drawing near, Baby Alex is almost here.
I made little favors for the guests of the party: pink and white taffy wrapped in cellophane bags; tied with pink ribbon, a plastic diaper pin and a tag with a cherry blossom on it which reads Susanne's Baby Shower April 25, 2009.

Susi, Alex and Hope by the river.

And a Happy One Year Anniversary to Susi and Jeff! I hope you are enjoying your day!

Monday, April 27, 2009

German Potato Salad

On Saturday I drove to Maryland to visit Susi again. Her co-workers were throwing her a baby shower, followed by a picnic on the Potomac (a post of the party is on the way!). Susi made potato salad for the picnic and she taught me her secret German recipe. Of course she didn't measure and I couldn't tell how much of each ingredient she was using as she poured so I will just give you the ingredients and you can be the judge of how much of each to add. I am planning on making this soon and then I can update with some measurements. I can just tell you to start with small amount and increase to taste.

To a large bowl add:
1 small chopped onion
a few chopped bread and butter pickle spears

Peel and cut up potatoes and boil until done. Drain.

Add potatoes to bowl, along with:
vegetable oil
white vinegar
Tello Fix (see below)
Fresh dill & parsley

This is Tello Fix. It is a dried soup mix that is completely animal by-product free. It is made of herbs and give the salad a flavorful taste and smell. And there is salt in here so no need to add more. Susi hasn't been able to find an American equivalent. I am on the hunt, at least to find Tello Fix at a Euro grocer.

The finished product! This was so good! I had two serving and am wanting more now. The pickles give a great, unexpected sweetness. And I am not a fan of mayo-based potato salad so the oil and vinegar combo is right up my taste buds' alley!

Another Update - Testing our Green Thumbs

Our little seedlings were 3 weeks old yesterday. The squash plants have really taken off. I was getting nervous that the basil wouldn't sprout but it did about 10 days after the other vegetables and is now doing well.
We will probably plant at least the squash plants this week.
I have also planted strawberry plants in a hanging bag that I will hang at Greg's house after they take root in the bag. There are 10 plants but I think the unexpected frost got a few right after we planted them (the week after Easter) but just yesterday I saw at least 2 plants are growing well.

There are 4 rows of Roma tomatoes on the right, then the bell peppers, then the cucumbers, then the towering squash plants and finally the 2 rows of basil on the left.

Related posts:

First Updated Post

Original post

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rhubarb & Goat Cheese Salad

I have so many things on my plate this week and I'm preparing for the weekend (I'm going to DC for Susi's baby shower and preparing for a youth group cookout), so I haven't had too many recipe posts in the past few days. Last night, as I rushed into the house, I caught my mom in the middle of preparing a salad so I joined right in with her to finish a Rhubarb and Goat Cheese Salad from the May 2009 Everyday Food Magazine. We also had a lasagna but I had two big plates of this salad and delicious rolls from Wegmans, which didn't leave room for the lasagna!

I am a huge fan of rhubarb and was just telling my mom how I wish we still had a rhubarb plant like we did when I was younger. I used to eat the freshly picked stalks raw... I love it! And one of my favorite pies is strawberry rhubarb, which I am definitely going to make this summer!

The salad recipe:

3/4 pound rhubarb, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup walnut halves
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (they recommend white balsamic but we didn't have any and traditional balsamic was delicious nonetheless)
Salt & Pepper
4 bunches arugula (approx. 1 pound), tough ends removed
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet (I always cover it in foil for easy clean up), toss rhubarb and honey. Roast on upper rack until beginning to soften, 5 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet.

On another baking sheet, toast walnuts on lower rack until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool and then chop.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add arugula and fennel; toss to combine. Top with rhubarb, walnuts and goat cheese.
There are so many flavors going on here and they meld very well. Oh yum!!... I have some for my lunch today and I can hardly wait!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sapporo East

Jesse, Bec, Greg & I went to Sapporo East in Mechanicsburg for dinner on Saturday after our just-for-fun photo shoot. I visited Sapporo's one other time, in my pre-sushi-loving days, and really enjoyed some terryaki but this time I wanted to try the sushi. The huge, colorful rolls were delicious! I'm going to write more on this for the Savvy Grouse in a few days. Below are some photos Bec took of our food. The Dragon Roll & the California Roll
Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura

Remember Rebecca Sior Photography for all your photo needs!
(No, I am not a paid member of her marketing staff... just a friend who thinks she's super talented!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Alvaro's Italian Food

Another post on the Savvy Grouse!

Alvaro's is a super yum place for lunch. Check it out!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Since we were having a 5:00 dinner on Sunday and didn't go to our church's Easter breakfast, I decided to whip up these pancakes. In all honesty, I just wanted to make plain pancakes using Bisquik and toss in a few chocolate chips but since we were all out of Bisquik and chocolate, I looked for a pancake recipe. In the Society of Farm Women of Pennsylvania cookbook, I found a whole wheat pancake recipe and I had whole wheat flour so I was set! These cakes topped with butter, powdered sugar ans syrup, with a side of turkey bacon, held us over until dinner.

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Mix all together. Pour desired amount onto a hot, buttered griddle. Cook on both sides til browned to your liking.

Here by bother is giving them a thumb up... but that was before he tried them. He thought they were bland. So maybe you could add a little more sugar and a touch of vanilla extract. Also, Adam and I don't like syrup so we just use butter and sugar... I am sure smothering them in syrup - like the other breakfasters did - would make them quite flavorful!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Savvy Grouse

Today the new PA Tourism Blog, The Savvy Grouse, is up and running!

Check out my post here about The Cellar in Camp Hill!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Dinner

In an effort to mix things up, we did not have a traditional ham dinner yesterday, but instead grilled steak and veggies! It was a nice summer meal and now I'm so excited for the weather to warm up!
I marinaded some NY Strip steaks in Lawry's Signature Steakhouse marinade for about 5 hours. I skewered up whole button mushrooms, halved brussel sprouts, cubed orange pepper and sliced yellow squash. I added plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper before grilling.
In addition, I made scalloped potato gratin by Tyler Florence. This was so yummy and everyone enjoyed it:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme (used 3 or 4 sprigs)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Butter (used Pam)
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling (I think I used more like 1 cup - I love cheese!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a saucepan, heat up the cream with a sprig of thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg.
While cream is heating up, butter a casserole dish. Place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes (baked it for about 55 minutes because my potato slices were on the thick side). Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 3 minutes.

I didn't get a solo shot of the gratin but here it is in the center of the photo (that's Greg's plate with a gigantic steak!). To the right of the potatoes is the tabbouleh.

For a salad, I made tabbouleh. I have had this a few times at restaurants but never ventured to make it myself. I also made it as a test because it's on Arielle's graduation party food list. It passed the test with flying colors so I'll be making it again (a huge batch) in June for the party. The recipe is from Barefoot Contessa Parties! :

1 cup bulgur wheat (I found some organic bulgar at my local health food store)

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup good olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the bulgur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.

I didn't use a cup of each parsley and mint - it seemed excessive.
Finally, I made white wine sangria. A bottle of cheap chardonnay, a frozen melange of tropical fruit and a liter of ginger ale made a refreshing treat to go with dinner. I put the wine in a pitcher, added the fruit and refrigerated it for about 4 hours. Then I added the ginger ale and refrigerated it for another hour. Sparkling refreshment!
Additional Easter Day pictures:

Arielle, Adam, Greg & Hope after we found our Easter baskets.

My dad surprised my grandparents and my mom with this light post in town that is dedicated to Parents Bob & Pat Swenson and Merle & Ruth Adams.

In the photo from left: my dad, grandpa, grandma, me, Adam, Arielle, my mom and Chester in the front. And Greg behind the camera.

Greg and I in downtown New Bloomfield looking like we just rolled out of bed!

NOTE: I am going to be investing in a new camera soon so my pictures will get better...

Deviled Eggs

Knowing Greg loves deviled eggs, I decided to make a batch for Easter. I, however, do not like them, so this was my first time attempting the popular snack. While cooking, I do not pay much attention to detail (which I learned how much I really don't after working with Tim the Chef who enjoys perfectly uniform meatballs and precisely square mango chunks) so it was difficult to neatly get the yolk out of the egg while keeping the whites intact. I think I pulled it off ok though. Below is a recipe from Alton Brown, which is doubled from his original recipe.

12 hard boiled eggs, cooled and peeled
2 teaspoons whole pink peppercorns, divided
1 teaspoon whole white peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole green peppercorns
1 teaspoon caper liquid
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch sugar

Slice eggs from top to bottom. Scoop out yolks unto a medium mixing bowl and lay whites aside. Place all of the peppercorns except 1 teaspoon of the pink pepeprcorns, into a spice grounder and process until ground well. **NOTE: I use a mixture of these four peppercorns in my pepper mill so I just used the pepper from my mill. However I only used 3 teaspoons instead of the 4 it calls for because I felt like it was a lof of pepper.**
Add the ground peppers, caper liquid, mayo, mustard, salt and sugar to the egg yolks and using a fork (I used a wire whisk to get it extra smooth), stir to thoroughly combine. Place the mixture into a zip-lock plastic bag and cut a small hole at one of the corner. Pipe mixture into each of the white halves (I did not use a plastic bag, but a teaspoon. However I can see how this method would be less messy!). Coarsely grind the remaining 1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns and use to garnish top of each egg (I did not do this. I sprinkled them with paprika - the traditional garnish).
Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Greg was carrying around the plate of devil eggs while looking for his Easter basket.

UPDATE: Testing our Green Thumbs

Here is the tray of seeds we planted. They are 7 days old!! All seeds sprouted except for the basil. I have to do a little research on what's wrong or if they just take longer. We still have seeds left so maybe I will try to plant the basil elsewhere.

The tallest so far are the yellow squash and cucumber. It's so amazing to watch them grow... you can see how they came out of the seed because the seed is still stuck on top of the little leaves.

You can see the sad, empty coirs that have the basil seeds in them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Testing our Green Thumbs

On Sunday, my mom and I planted some seeds in hopes of beginning our vegetable garden. For the past few years we've done some container gardens on our patio and we hope to continue this year.

In these 72 little seedling coir disks, we planted Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, yellow squash and basil. We are keeping the tray in the dining room in front of the bay window (not in it because the directions say to keep the trays out of direct light). Once we see little sprouts - hopefully by mid week next week, we can remove the clear plastic top.

Here we planted some cherry tomato seeds in a hanging basket, hoping one day soon we will have a cascading plant, providing us with lots of juicy little tomatoes!

We may plant a few pepper and Roma tomato plants in the ground but we hope to plant most in containers.

I'll keep you up to date on the progress of our little seedlings!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Easy Easter Eggs

Well I didn't go all out on Easter egg dying this year. I simply used the Marble Swirl Kit I found on sale at AC Moore Crafts (but I saw the same kit at Rite Aid last night so you can still get a kit before Sunday). I did these eggs all by myself. I don't know why I really feel the urge to still dye eggs at Easter... maybe to hang on to my childhood tradition when it was a huge event for the entire family.

I bought some free range brown eggs and my mom but them in the egg cooker first, never thinking they wouldn't take color. The color didn't really show up but made them shimmery - just like a golden egg from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, only smaller!

The white eggs held the color really well - the technique here is to put on a plastic glove, put a few drops of color on the egg and then roll them around in your hand until the color is distributed through the egg to your liking, adding more drops or another color for a more intense result.

For the next few days, I will have my fill of hard boiled eggs!

These 6 are my favorites because I mixed the colors together.

Here you will see I tried to make a polka dot egg by putting round stickers on the egg, dying it and then removing the stickers. It worked ok but I had trouble removing the stickers. Above the polka dotted egg is a brown egg with blue dye on it and to the right a brown egg with purple dye.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spicy 'N Sweet Pickles

Yesterday, my mom and I spent some time in the kitchen making some snacks for the upcoming week. My mom was in the mood for spicy pickles, so we used my Aunt Donna's recipe. She says they taste just like the 14 day pickles her mom - my grandma - used to make (a recipe similar to this).

Because you make these from jarred dill pickles and not from a fresh cucumber, they're ready to enjoy shortly after making! And I do love pickles, especially sweet ones like these!

1 quart dill pickles
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon pickling spices

Drain pickles and slice in to thick, bite-sized chunks. Return to the jar.

In a small saucepan, mix together sugar, vinegar and spices. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the mix begins to boil and the sugar disolves. Pour over pickle chunks in the jar. Seal with lid. Let cool and then refrigerate.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Lunch Spot in Harrisburg

My newest post is up on the PAadventure blog.

Somethings I submitted but were cut from the post:

~~Their menu boasts specialty sandwiches – my favorites include the Caitlin (corned beef & coleslaw on rye) and the Mr. T (BBQ pork on a roll), salads, wraps and homemade soups (daily soup specials in addition to chili which is always available). I recently had some chicken noodle soup that was delicious.

~~I’ve tried the Oreo cake and the peanut butter cake – both perfectly sweet and decadent.

I already wrote about the 3rd Street Deli on this blog but wanted to share it with the readers of the PAadventure blog as well.

On Monday, the PAadventure blog will be replaced with The Savvy Grouse Blog! I'll remind everyone to take a look at the new layout on Monday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In the Kitchen with Tim - Part 2

Last evening, The Winter Group hosted a fundraiser for a Dauphin County judge candidate, and Tim catered the event. Natalie and I helped him prep the food (also see previous post). Below are more prepping pictures, along with the food display at the event.

The smoked salmon on cucumber chips and the Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus with a balsamic reduction

Grilled Fruit Kabobs of fresh pineapple, mango & peaches - grilling the fruit makes the fructose extra sweet.

The shrimp was marinated in the Spanish paprika olive oil and then par-grilled on Sunday. On Tuesday, Tim finished them in the oven.

Here is the shrimp with the Mango & Roasted Red Pepper Coulis for dipping.

Here Natalie and Tim add and mix the meatball ingredients: ground beef, loose Italian sausage, ground lamb, chopped red onion, eggs, salt and pepper. Later Tim made a Spanish sauce out of Goya sofrito sauce and recaito sauce, and then added roasted almond slices.
Natalie did an excellent job of rolling a sea of meatballs (like 200)! She quickly overcame her dislike of handling raw meat!
Here are the meatballs at the event.
There was also a spinach and artichoke dip served with sliced foccacia bread.
Everyone, including me, raved about the food! It was delicious!