Monday, January 16, 2012

International Hot and Spicy Food Day

What does hot and spicy mean to you?  Often times, people people think of assorted peppers to add heat to their favorite recipes.  Jalapenos, Habaneros, Pablanos, Serranos, etc.  All good choices and quite popular to use, but there are other ways to add a bit of heat to your creations.

Horseradish was named the 2011 Herb of the year by the International Herb Association.  It has a very unique flavor and texture.  This root has roots back as far as 1500 BC.  Having been commercially produced in the US since about 1860, it makes it one of the first convenience foods produced in the US.

The next time you are looking for a bit of spice to add to a dish, consider adding a spoonful or two to some of your favorites:

  • Cole Slaw
  • Potato Salad
  • Baked Beans
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Soups
  • Meat Loaf
  • Hamburgers
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Steamed Veggies
  • Roasts
These are a few things you can add a new flavor to.  Feel free to come up with your own and add your suggestions below!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hot Pan Noodles and Dumplings

If you are in the Joliet, IL area and looking for something different, stop and visit Hot Pan Noodles and Dumplings.  It is a small restaurant in a strip mall that offers fresh made noodles and dumplings with an Asian flair.

We have been there twice recently.  On our first visit, we had lunch.  We shared an order of the Pork Dumplings and an order of the Dan Dan Noodles with chicken.  The dumplings were tender and tasty and came with a fresh made sauce for them.  The noodles were pleasantly spicy and full of flavor.  A generous portion made it a very satisfying lunch indeed.

Saturday evening, we had the opportunity to go there for dinner.  We met another couple and agreed to try an option they refer to as "Hot Pot", which was compared to a fondue.  The Hot Pot is an all you care to enjoy dining experience that you have two hours to complete. At this time, the menu price is $15.99 for adults.  

You can have a normal broth, a spicy broth or both.  We opted for the spicy broth.  Once you have selected the broth, and you can begin selecting what you will enjoy with the broth.  Meats included lamb, chicken, beef, pork and for an additional fee, shrimp.  Veggie options were also plentiful.  They included spinach, broccoli, bok choy, wood ears and many others.  If that is not enough, you also have a choice of noodles and sauces to choose from as well.

All items to be prepared were brought to the table to be prepared.  There was no questions asked when we requested more of anything.  All of the items appeared to be prepared to order.  The noodles for the Hot Pot are not their homemade noodles, but were just fine for the meal.

Come hungry, be adventurous and enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Markets

Do you miss your local Farmer's Market?  Do you feel the winter blues and can't wait for summer to arrive again?  You may be surprised to find that their is a growing trend in many cold weather areas to hold Winter Farmer's Markets.

While many crops are only grown locally during peak growing seasons, there are a number of products that can be produced year round.  Green houses, hydroponics and other methods provide access to the products in the areas that are unable to grow fresh products year round.  While you most likely cannot find locally grown sweet corn in the midwest, you may be amazed at what produce might be available.

We are participating in a  Winter Farmer's Market in Kankakee, IL this season.  It is held indoors at the Majestic Center which is located at 150 N. Schuyler in downtown Kankakee.  The market runs from 9-1 on Saturday Mornings through the end of January and most likely through February.

Explore your own community and you may be able to find a local market right in your own back yard.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Crescent Roll Calzones

Looking for a quick and easy way to spice up a lunch time treat?  Give this a try.  It is a variation on the long time favorite of hot dogs rolled in a crescent roll and baked.

I used the crescent rolls that come out of a cardboard tube.  Into each one, I added a slice of Genoa Salami, 1/2 piece of Provolone Cheese, rolled them up and sprinkled a touch of oregano onto each one.  They were placed on a baking sheet and baked per the instructions on the rolls.

For more variety, consider adding pizza sauce, peppers or other veggies to the rolls before baking or a simple marinara sauce to dip them into.