Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Bowl Snacking!

In case you've had absolutely no access to the Internet, TV, radio and newspapers lately, you know that Super Bowl XLVI (we've been told that's 46) kicks off this Sunday, February 5th. The Super Bowl is kind of a big deal around these parts and the entire world, actually.

On the one hand you have the New England Patriots led by the golden boy Tom Brady. On the other hand you have the New York Giants led by Eli Manning who's looking to shed his title as the second best Manning QB (behind Peyton). This Super Bowl is also a rematch of the classic XLII from four years ago. In that one, which many call the best Super Bowl in history, the underdog Giants defeated the previously unbeaten Patriots to end their chance at the best season in NFL history.

But we digress. FoodPair is a recipe search engine, not a sports site. We're here to get you ready for some serious Super Bowl snacking, so we'll leave the expert analysis to the football gurus and their 100+ hours of pregame chatter. Which dishes guarantee good eating for Super Bowl Sunday? Our fans love: Chicken Wings, 7-Layer Dip, Nachos, Chili and Pizza. (Did you know that the Super Bowl is the most popular pizza day of the year? But, it's always better to make it fresh at home.)

To kick off your championship menu we went long with the FoodPair Recipe Search Engine for the cheesiest, beefiest and spiciest Super Bowl snacks on the web.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings
You can't go wrong with a classic wing; these are easy to bake.
Ingredients: Garlic, Scallion, Sour Cream, Vinegar, Ketchup, Cayenne, Mayo, Tabasco, Chicken Wings, Oil

Chili Chicken Wings
We love these Asian-inspired, sweet & spicy wings.
Ingredients: Cilantro, Garlic, Ginger, Sugar, Ketchup, Chile Peppers, Cider Vinegar, Chicken Wings, Hoisin, Plum Sauce

Lucky 7 Layer Dip
We'll keep eating until we figure out why this dip is lucky!
Ingredients: Avocado, Cilantro, Garlic, Cumin, Scallion, Sour Cream, Refried Beans, Plum Tomato, Tortilla Chips...

Cheesy Beef Nachos
There's nothing wrong with a whole mess of nachos.
Ingredients: Tomato, Jalapeno Pepper, Onion, Salsa, Black Olive, Ground Beef, Tortilla Chips, Guacamole, Shredded Cheese

White Chicken Chili
By using a chili starter, this recipe is a snap to make.
Ingredients: Cilantro, Sour Cream, Vegetable Oil, Kosher Salt, Tortilla Chips, Chili Starter, Chicken Breast

Three-Cheese Pizza with Pancetta & Mushrooms
Making pizza is easy with pre-made dough, ask at your local pizzeria.
Ingredients: Mozzarella, Parmesan, Fontina, Pancetta, Cremini Mushrooms, Marinara Sauce, Pizza Dough

Now all you have to do is invite some friends, whip up some of these dishes and start rooting for your favorite team!

If there are any themes, ingredients or dishes you'd like us to highlight, post them in the comments or on our Facebook page. And while you're at it, Like us on Facebook for helpful food news, tips and recipes in your news feed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Enter the Year of the Dragon

This week marks the beginning of The Year of the Dragon. Chinese New Year was on Monday, January 23rd and we're excited to try our hand at some traditional Chinese dishes. And this time we're gonna resist the urge to call our favorite delivery spot (Main Garden, anyone?) and make everything by hand.

Because making dumplings, egg rolls and lo mein from scratch seemed a little intimidating, we needed some inspiration. Enter Bruce Lee. His classic Enter the Dragon was exactly what we needed. Watching Bruce win battle after battle gave us confidence that we could follow a couple new recipes- even if we wrecked the kitchen in the process.

So, we put down the nunchucks and picked up a laptop to use FoodPair Recipe Search Engine for traditional Chinese dishes like steamed dumplings and moo shu pork. After some trial and error, here are our 5 favorite dishes for the Year of the Dragon.

Plump Pea Dumplings
With this recipe you'll be a dumpling black-belt in no time.
Ingredients: Olive Oil, Parmesan Cheese, Shallot, Ricotta Cheese, Peas, Lemon Zest, Sea Salt, Wonton Wrappers

Chinese Boiled Pork Dumplings
Steamy Kitchen walks you through dumplings step-by-step.
Ingredients: Scallion, Ginger, Soy, Napa Cabbage, Salt, White Pepper, Ground Pork, Chinese Rice Wine, Sesame Oil, Dumpling Wrappers

Chicken and Shrimp Egg Rolls
Making egg rolls is a fun and delicious cooking project.
Ingredients: Cilantro, Garlic, Shrimp, Scallion, Cabbage, Ginger, Chicken Stock, Chicken Breast, Apple, Red Chile, Egg Roll Wrappers

Moo Shu Pork
Not sure why, but we always love wrapping up moo shu pancakes.
Ingredients: Garlic, Ginger, Soy Sauce, Flour Tortilla, Cornstarch, Sesame Oil, Pork Loin, Hoisin Sauce, Cole Slaw Mix

Steamed Cantonese-Style Fish
In Chinese, fish sounds like "save more" and brings good luck.
Ingredients: Cilantro, Ginger, Cod, Sea Salt, Sesame Oil, Peanut Oil, Spring Onion, Light and Dark Soy Sauce

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Feel free to share your dumpling-making secrets in the comments.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lessons from the Winter Fancy Food Show

(Bacon T-shirt courtesy of J&D's Foods)

Earlier this week we had the pleasure of attending the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. For three days, over 1,300 exhibitors from nearly 40 countries showed off their very best products and we stuffed our faces as much as humanly possible. There were mountains of cheese, rivers of sauces and more olives than snowflakes in Alaska.

Lesson 1: Pork is still sizzling hot.

There's pork everywhere these days. People just can't seem to get enough bacon, prosciutto, pulled pork, ribs and chops. Chefs are getting pig and pork tattoos to immortalize their affection. At the Fancy Food Show there was more than enough bacon and cured pork to go around. Company reps were slicing prosciutto on-site and offering samples of bacon-wrapped everything.

Even people who don't eat pork could get in the game with a visit to J&D's booth. In J&D's, the J is for Justin and the D is for Dave. At the show, we hung out with Justin as he explained how you can make anything and everything taste like bacon while keeping it kosher and vegetarian. The company started with Bacon Salt before branching out into a ton of other products including Baconnaise, Bacon Rub and our new favorite, Bacon Croutons. Those suckers are addictive even without a salad!

Lesson 2: An avalanche of artisan cheeses and olives.

As we weaved through the International aisles with products from Italy, France, Greece and Switzerland we were struck by the amazing variety of cheeses and olives making their way to the US. There were cool new cheeses, like a Blue Brie that had all the great creaminess of brie with a subtle hint of blue cheese flavor. There were also a number of delicious flavored cheeses from Yancey's Fancy in Corfu, New York. We enjoyed their Double Cream Medium Sharp Cheddar as well as the XX-Sharp Ol' Timer Cheese. But, their Roasted Garlic and Jalapeno & Peppadew Cheddar cheeses were some of our favorites because the flavors were tangy and intense.

Our favorite olives of the show were from Mani Imports, who source their products from across the Mediterranean. They served our favorite bite of the show, a red pepper stuffed with Feta and Mizithra (a Greek cheese made from either sheep or goat's milk).

Lesson 3: Craft brewers care about food pairings.

In the beer area, which had the most energy of any part of the show, we sampled great craft brews from Goose Island and Kona Brewing.

Kona brews according to a seasonal schedule and was serving its Pipeline Porter, brewed with real Kona coffee for a great dark, roasted flavor. It's great with red meat or any hearty soups and stews. They also offered their Koko Brown, which has a pronounced fresh coconut flavor.

Goose Island offered their Vintage Ales, which are actually designed for food pairing. We tasted the Sophie, Matilda, Pere Jacques and Pepe Nero. Our favorite was the Pere Jacques, a Belgian Style Abbey Ale with fantastic malty and fruity notes. It pairs well with bittersweet chocolate or wild game meats. We also enjoyed the Pepe Nero, an intriguing beer brewed with black peppercorns. The addition of pepper makes it a perfect pairing for anything coming off the grill, from meat to vegetables.

Now that we're back from the show, we have so many ideas and food pairings to try. Our plan is to use the FoodPair Recipe Search Engine to find creative dishes for the new craft beers and cheeses we were able to sample.

Even though we wish there was a Fancy Food Show every day, it's good news for our waistlines that it only happens twice a year.

Have you tried any great new foods lately? Share your experiences in the comments.

If there are any themes, ingredients or dishes you'd like us to highlight, post them in the comments or on our Facebook page. And while you're at it, Like us on Facebook for helpful food news, tips and recipes in your news feed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twinkie Goes Bankrupt, so Make Your Own

When we heard that Hostess Brands, the maker of Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, and all things snack-alicious had filed for bankruptcy, we panicked. A world without Twinkies? We immediately ran out and bought all the Twinkies we could carry. After all, those things are supposed to have an infinite shelf life.

Then we got a quick legal and business primer- filing for bankruptcy doesn't mean Twinkies will disappear, just that the company couldn't pay its debts. Has worldwide Ding Dong and Ho Ho consumption fallen that low? Well, no matter, we're relieved they'll still be around for long road trips and late nights at work.

After the dust settled we realized there was a better option. Instead of spending all our hard earned cash to buy and hoard Twinkies, we should learn how to make delicious snack cakes at home. Problem solved.

So, we put down the Twinkie and picked up a laptop to search the FoodPair Recipe Search Engine for snack cakes, cupcakes, and brownies. We found several thousand recipes and handpicked 5 to satisfy your sweet-snack craving.

Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
This chocolate cupcake hits all the right notes.
Ingredients: Egg, Yogurt, Sugar, Salt, Flour, Baking Powder, Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract, Oil, Whipping Cream, Bittersweet Chocolate

Chocolate-Banana Snack Cake
Chocolate and Banana are a pairing we'd like to eat more often.
Ingredients: Egg, Banana, Butter, Sugar, Salt, Flour, Vanilla Extract, Baking Soda, Cocoa Powder, Applesauce, Instant Coffee

Blueberry Snack Cakes
This moist snack cake is great for breakfast, snack or dessert.
Ingredients: Egg, Butter, Sugar, Blueberry, Flour, Baking Powder, Milk

Homemade Twinkies
This recipe will help you re-create the Twinkie magic.
Ingredients: Egg, Butter, Vanilla Extract, Powdered Sugar, Cream Cheese, Whipped Cream, Instant Vanilla Pudding, Yellow Cake Mix

Banana Snack Cake with Brown-Butter Frosting
We like anything with brown-butter frosting, especially this snack.
Ingredients: Egg, Butter, Vanilla Extract, Powdered Sugar, Cream Cheese, Whipped Cream, Instant Vanilla Pudding, Yellow Cake Mix

So have no fear, with these recipes you can always make your favorite snack at home.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Help with your New Year's Resolutions

Every New Year's Eve we make a handful of resolutions. It's no surprise that as "foodies" most of our aspirations are food-related- we want to eat more veggies, less cheese, more fish, less junk food. Many of you reached out to us for advice on how to keep your resolutions and we're happy to help with tips, recipes and more. According to this study, nearly 80% of people fail to keep their New Year's Resolutions. So, how do you keep yours?

First, write them down and sign the paper as a commitment contract. Somehow, writing things down helps etch them in our memory. And contracts make things more serious in a hurry. No one wants to get sued!

Second, to give your promises some teeth, pick a friend as a referee and set a penalty (money or social) for failing to keep them. Put it in your New Year's contract: If I fail to meet a milestone, I pay $20 or I have to show up at dinner in a chicken suit.

Third, set a specific time frame and small, manageable steps to get there. Don't say, "I'm going to drop a lot of weight" or "I'm going to lose 20 pounds in a month" because the first is unclear and the second is physically impossible. Instead, break it down to 5 pounds a month over 4 months.

Finally, make an action plan. For dieting, cut out specific foods or perhaps late night desserts & snacks. For healthier eating, say you're going to add a serving of vegetables at dinner each night or have a salad for lunch a couple times a week.

How can FoodPair help? Well, we recently launched Dietary Filters to make it easy for you to find recipes that fit your resolutions. We now have one-click filters for Low Carb, Low Fat, Vegetarian and Vegan Diets. For instance, if you want to start a Low Fat diet, we have nearly 50,000 recipes. From there, you can refine with your favorite ingredients or by course and recipe site. You can also use the FoodPair Recipe Search Engine to craft your own search if you're looking to eat more veggies for dinner or fresh fruit for snacks.

Overnight Oatmeal
Healthy eating begins with a hearty breakfast. Make this the night before.
Ingredients: Fresh Fruit, Rolled Oats, Chopped Nuts, Lemon Zest, Vanilla Extract, Agave Nectar, Lowfat Milk

Banana Breakfast Smoothie
Smoothies are a great breakfast option. This one is loaded with protein.
Ingredients: Honey, Banana, Nutmeg, Milk, Ice, Greek Yogurt

Chipotle Baked Fish
To eat more fish in 2012, start with this delicious & healthy recipe.
Ingredients: Cilantro, Lime, Catfish (or other white fish), Chipotle, Adobo, Salt, Yellow Onion

Mashed Cauliflower
To eat more veggies, give mashed cauliflower a try!
Ingredients: Olive Oil, Cauliflower, Black Pepper, Sea Salt

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Soy Browned Butter
Roasting asparagus brings out great flavor; a touch of butter goes a long way.
Ingredients: Balsamic Vinegar, Asparagus, Butter, Salt, Black Pepper, Cooking Spray, Low Sodium Soy Sauce

With these tips and recipes you'll be well on your way to keeping your 2012 New Year's Resolutions!

If there are any themes, ingredients or dishes you'd like us to highlight, post them in the comments or on our Facebook page. And while you're at it, Like us on Facebook for helpful food news, tips and recipes in your news feed.