It’s Friday, it’s the Lenten Season, and it worked for the Foodie family!
Ms. Foodie has been away from the blog for a bit, but not away from creating good food in the kitchen, or finding it wherever I go. As a denouement to a 2012 of food, and a gift to you for 2013, here are Ms. Foodie’s 5 Best Food Finds of 2012:
Ms. Foodie loves caramel. It is one of those perfect foods that combines butter and salt, with just the right amount of sweet. However, there is nothing worse than bad caramel: that chalky, cloying, overly sweet goo that some manufacturers try to pass off on an unsuspecting palate. Ms. Foodie does not approve. So to my pure joy and delight, Ms. Foodie discovered the deliciously perfect Trader Jacques Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce at Trader Joe’s.
Ms. Foodie puts it over vanilla ice cream, dips apples in it, even adds it to maple syrup! It blends perfectly, and it reheats nicely, without being clumpy or separating like some caramel sauces. Ms. Foodie hopes there are no recalls on this product, because I refuse to try anything else.
This latest trend in super foods is a hit with Ms. Foodie. Milled from a seed, (which makes it gluten-friendly), it is as versatile as the potato, and as simple to prepare as rice; so, it works as a main dish or a side dish. Like Pasta, Quinoa can be served hot or cold, and mixed with a variety of different ingredients, from vegetables, to dried fruits, nuts, even tofu or meat!
Quinoa takes on the flavor of whatever you prepare it with, and Ms. Foodie likes to use the tri-colored or red variety, preparing it using chicken or vegetable broth, instead of water. Quinoa is also very hearty. I find I eat less of a dish that contains Quinoa than I do of one without it. So it’s great for the waist!
Since Ms. Foodie was introduced to this place (h/t Douglas E. Welch), I can’t even recall the last time I frequented a Starbucks or a Coffee Bean. From M Street’s simple, yet moist and flavorful breads and pastries, to their deliciously brewed organic coffee and tea beverages, this friendly neighborhood Coffee Bar has the corner on custom and hip–without the attitude to go along with it. Can’t say the same for the patrons, but what can you do?
Ms. Foodie’s personal fave is the Chai Tea Latte, one of the smoothest and creamiest Chais I have ever had. Not bitter and thin like FourBucks, or overly sugary like CBTL. Just good flavor at a good price. They also have seasonal offerings, like the lovely Peppermint Mocha (pictured) during the Holidays. While I no longer live close to this Sherman Oaks treasure, I pop in whenever I get a chance–the Chai calls me!
Versatility is the key to how often an ingredient is used in cooking–why do you think Pasta is so popular? So Ms. Foodie has been rocking the versatility of the Sweet Potato in main dishes and desserts.
Aside from my classic Sweet Potato Pie, Ms. Foodie has used them to make soups, stews, mashed potatoes, and of course, Sweet Potato fries. My current favorite dish is combining one of my other best finds above: Quinoa with Sweet Potatoes. Ms. Foodie cooks them in chicken broth, along with some cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Oh, my, what a tasty treat!
Italian food can be made for mere pennies, and Ms. Foodie does a pretty good job of it. So it’s a rare restaurant where I bother to actually pay for it, especially since it is usually extremely overpriced, and not nearly as good as Ms. Foodie can make it. One of my exceptions is the revamped Capri Restaurant in Eagle Rock.
The Capri was a restaurant makeover candidate for Kitchen Nightmares, and Gordon Ramsey did good by them. They have a really stupendous thin crust pizza. The cheese and crust alone rates, but their Margherita is also a taste sensation. They have other traditional and non-traditional offerings, including a White Clam, Cuban, and a BBQ Pork! The Capri’s garlic knots are flavorful and melt-in-your-mouth good, and the meatball sliders are rich, without being overly heavy, and full of burst-in-your-mouth spice. To make this place even more palatable, the prices are not at all unreasonable.
One of the owners is part of a Work@Homers networking group to which Ms. Foodie belongs, and we recently had a Holiday bash at The Capri. Which means they are good for parties and catering too!
Here’s to a New Year of good eating. Happy 2013!
Ms. Foodie has entered the liquid phase of the Wellness Cleanse: three days of non-solids. This means all the juices, smoothies, and soups a girl can enjoy! If Ms. Foodie can’t drink it or slurp it, then it isn’t on the menu. So the balance of yesterday was spent in the kitchen, whipping up some scrumptious and tasty soups and smoothies.
This Sweet Potato Soup with Quinoa and Coconut Milk came from a site called, “A Veggie Adventure“. As usual, Ms. Foodie put her own spin on what is a solid (and delicious) recipe. I added more of the Cayenne Pepper and Chili Powder, used tri-color Quinoa, and instead of leaving chunks of sweet potato to “help the appearance”, Ms. Foodie put everything in a blender and pureed away!
With a dollop of Probiotic Yogurt, I think the appearance is fine; and the taste is phenomenal!