Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

June 29, 2012

If you have not had pineapple upside down cake for awhile, Ridha’s Kitchen has an excellent recipe for you to follow. Enjoy!

June 26, 2012

Would you want to come home after an incredible trip to the Alaskan wilderness?  After a week-long road trip, Sarah and her family certainly did not want to.

Are We Home Yet?

Part I

My boys and I – Will, Hickory and I, that is – just returned from a week-long road trip through Alaska’s interior.



Our travels took us along the Glenn Highway to Lake Louise, into the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park along the Nabesna Road and then further into the Park via the McCarthy Road to McCarthy and Kennecott, two quirky towns perched on a glacier full of fascinating history.  We finished our trip in Valdez  where we took an incredible kayaking trip to the Columbia Glacier.

We weren’t sure how it would go traveling with our beloved dog.  I mean, we love him but we can hardly expect the rest of Alaska to love (tolerate) him quite as much as we do.




As it turns out, Hickory is the consummate traveling companion.  Quiet, contemplative – a true minimalist – he required few rest stops.  He did, though, every once in a while, get a…

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Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

February 22, 2012

The first manned missions to outer space by both the United States and former USSR in 1961 were short trips that last no longer than two hours.  However, the former USSR went on to complete a few missions that lasted more than 24 hours before the US completed its first 24-hour space flight in 1963.  The increasing durations of the space flights by both the American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts make one thing very clear: at some point, the crew must eat.

Russian Borscht soup in a tube, consumed by cosmonauts in space | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Russian Borscht soup in a tube. Courtesy: Aliazimi

The first food delivery systems were, of all things, tubes.  They had the look and feel of a tube of toothpaste, but what came out of these tubes was anything but minty.  The former USSR’s Yuri Gagarin, who in 1961 became both the first human to travel into space and the first to orbit the earth, dined on three 160 g toothpaste-type tubes: two servings of puréed meat and one chocolate sauce.  The combined crew of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975) ate tubes of borscht and caviar, along with canned beef tongue and packaged Riga bread.

Space Food during Projects Mercury and Gemini | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Top: Project Mercury – Food cubes and tubes. Bottom: Project Gemini – Cubes and “rehydrater”.

While NASA effectively borrowed the food tube idea from the Russians, they also experimented with their own delivery system: bite-sized cubes with gelatin coatings to prevent crumbs.  During Project Mercury (1959-63) and Project Gemini (1965-66), foods were dehydrated before missions and rehydrated once in space, allowing the menu to expand over time to include the astronauts’ preferences.  Items such as shrimp cocktail, chicken and vegetables, toast squares, butterscotch pudding, and apple juice were available on the menu.  Even though rehydration methods improved during the Apollo program (1961-75), food presentation and presentation were still the same as during the previous space programs.

Skylab 2 astronauts eat space food in wardroom of Skylab trainer | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Left to right, Scientist-Astronaut Joseph P. Kerwin, science pilot; Astronaut Paul J. Weitz, pilot; and Astronaut Charles Conrad Jr., commander

By the time the United States’ space station, Skylab, was operational in the mid 1970s, astronauts indulged in “normal” meals.  The astronauts would literally come to the table during mealtimes.  A dining room table and chairs, fastened to the floor and fitted with foot and thigh restraints, allowed for a more normal eating experience.  The trays used could warm the food, and had magnets to hold eating utensils and scissors to open food containers.  Unfortunately, a new problem came to light.  The astronauts trained on the ground with the very food they brought with them to Skylab, so they fully expected the food to taste the same.  However, they soon realized that the microgravity environment dulled their senses of taste and smell due to a head congestion from weightlessness.

Food trays from the space station, Skylab, and the Space Shuttle | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Food trays from (top to bottom) Skylab and Space Shuttle.

The food tray developed for Skylab was apparently well-designed and deemed sufficient for the Space Shuttle program (1981-2011).  As you can see, the food trays between both space programs differ in design slightly, but the functionality, as well as mobility, of both trays allowed astronauts to take their food with them wherever they worked.

In 2009, the Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” gave viewers a rare glimpse into the development of space food technology.  Andrew Zimmern, along with astronauts Michael Foreman, Leland Melvin, Michael Massimino, and Garrett Riesman, were presented with a number of food items that were flown on Space Shuttle missions and are currently available on the International Space Station.  They rated each food item and gave their thoughts and opinions of each item to the food scientists.  Andrew noted right away that a fruit punch drink was much sweeter than he anticipated, and other foods were very flavorful or spicy.  As previously discussed, past astronauts complained of dulled senses of taste and smell due to the microgravity environment.  Food scientists countered this phenomenon by preparing foods with extra flavor.

Here is a YouTube video from the Travel Channel where Andrew Zimmern samples space food:

The culmination of years of work by NASA’s food scientists can be seen below.

Bags of International Space Station food and utensils on a tray | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Bags of International Space Station food and utensils on a tray. Courtesy: NASA

Assorted bags of snack food and dehydrated food, as served on the ISS | Astronaut Chow: Space Food over the Years

Assorted bags of snack food and dehydrated food, as served on the ISS. Courtesy: NASA

What does the future hold for space food?  Apparently, we do not have to wait long for an answer to that question.  According to Mashable:

“[NASA] is looking for applicants to eat astronaut food for four months during a simulated trip to the Red Planet. Participants will try instant foods, and ones with shelf-stable ingredients, and scientists will record their reactions. The goal of the experiment is to discover what foods people like to consume consistently.”

If you want to shape the future of space food, NASA is giving you a chance to do so.

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Francis Unson

How Groupon Works

August 23, 2011

Groupon is a deal-of-the-day website that is localized to major markets in the United States and Canada.  The website was launched in November 2008.  It was first used in Chicago, later expanding to Boston, New York City, and Toronto.  Soon it was used by many parts of the United States.  Groupon serves more than 150 markets in North America.  Now, for those who are not Internet savvy, here are steps on how to use the website:

  1. Groupon offers discounts for things such as food and services, as long as enough people buy into the deal.Sign up at
  2. The site will send you e-mail updates on the daily deals in your city.
  3. Purchase the deal at the discounted price.  Most of the time, these deals will be at least 30% off the original price.  If you are very lucky, you may find a deal as much as 90% off!
  4. Once enough people purchase the deal, it is activated (tipped) and you will receive your discount.  If the minimum number of deals is not purchased, however, the deal is cancelled and no one gets it.  Fortunately, almost all deals on Groupon are claimed due to a large membership base and a low minimum number of users required to purchase the deal and trigger a tip.
  5. Once you receive your deal you can claim it at the store you got it for, usually within a period of time before it expires.  The website will also give you all the details about the Groupon you have purchased.

Saving money is a great thing to do nowadays, especially with the current state of the economy.  Websites such as Groupon will help you to save time and money.  Instead of shuffling through newspapers to cut out coupons, you can just print them at your convenience.

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Taylor P.

Photographs from Bologna: The food capital of Italy… (via Dakota .D Journal)

July 6, 2011

Photographs from Bologna: The food capital of Italy... This month has been another amazing chapter of travel through Italy!! I’ve been to: Florence, Pisa, Venice and Verona, each of which have had their own unique sense of character. Bologna however, is my favorite city in Italy for it’s celebrated food culture… Memorable mornings in Bologna were spent at local café’s where I savored some of the best Italian coffee and pastries. The taste of rich cappuccinos, macchiatos and poached cherry tarts wer … Read More

via Dakota .D Journal

How to Deal With Food Allergies

June 27, 2011

Food allergies can be difficult to deal with, especially if it is a common ingredient in foods you eat.  You could go to an allergist to evaluate the severity of your allergies and get prescription medication to help relieve your symptoms if you accidentally eat something you are allergic to.  Non-prescription antihistamines, like Chlor-Trimeton or Benadryl, can also be taken to relieve symptoms.

Food allergies can be rough, especially if you find out what you're allergic to for the first time when eating something for the first (and possibly last) time. Here are some ways to deal with food allergy symptoms.However, it is best to consult your doctor before buying any kind of over-the-counter medication to relieve allergy symptoms and ensure they are right for you.  The best way to deal with allergies is to avoid what you are allergic to altogether.  You should check labels on foods you buy to make sure they don’t use any suspect ingredients.  Also, if you go out to eat somewhere you can ask the server if they cook with that certain food item or ingredient and request a substitute if necessary.  Being allergic to food can be difficult, but reactions can be easily avoided.

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Taylor P.

Top Five Most Popular Veggie Burger Recipes

June 13, 2011

Being vegetarian does not mean you have to give up hamburgers; just the real meat part!  Finding a recipe that tastes good can be hard when cooking veggie burgers, so here is a list of the five most popular recipes:

Portabella Mushroom Burgers: Perfect for those who like veggie burgers or mushroom burgers, topped with an avocado sauce.  CookingwithTse demonstrates how to make the burger below:

Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Burger: This is a spicy, flavorful burger that can be cooked on a grill or pan-fried.  Indie5Collective demonstrates how to make the burger below:

Potato Veggie Burgers: A burger made from potatoes?  Sounds crazy, but worth trying.  HealthyVegan shows us how:

Black Bean Burgers: An easy-to-make veggie burger that is great for an everyday meal.  Joelluks prepares the burger in his video below:

Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers with Cornmeal: This is also a vegan recipe, made with black beans and salsa for flavor.

Veggie burgers were once hard to come by and not easy to make. Thanks to the ingenuity of determined vegetarians, they now have a variety of burgers to call their own that rival their carnivore counterparts.

Going vegetarian can be tough, so knowing some great recipes with wonderful flavors is a great way to help you into the process.  These burgers are not only tasty, but they are also easy to make!  Cooking for vegetarian’s sounds like it could be a task, but it is very simple, nutritious, and delicious!

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Taylor P.

Cinco de Mayo Recipes

May 5, 2011

Thinking of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?  Why not make a delicious meal for the family!  It’s always nice to gather together for a family lunch or dinner.  Although Cinco de Mayo may not seem like such a big holiday, it doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with a nice meal.  There are many different dishes to choose from, but the following are sure to be crowd-pleasers at your Cinco de Mayo gathering.

Do you want to get into the spirit of celebrating Cinco de Mayo but you want to make the meals from scratch? Follow these recipes for a Mexican appetizer, meal, side dish and, of course, dessert.Chickaritos (common Mexican appetizer)


  • 3 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 package (17-1/4 ounces) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed or pie pastry for double-crust 10-inch pie
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa


  • In a large bowl, combine the chicken, chilies, onions, cheese and seasonings.  Chill until serving.
  • Remove half of the pastry from refrigerator.  On a lightly floured surface, roll to a 12-in. x 9-in. rectangle.  Cut into nine small rectangles.  Place about 2 tablespoons of filling across the center of each rectangle.  Wet edges of pastry with water and roll pastry around filling.  Crimp ends with a fork to seal. Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.
  • Place seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Refrigerate until ready to heat. Bake at 425° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm with salsa and guacamole. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.

I could not find a corresponding video for chickaritos, so a cooking video featuring the appetizer would be the first of its kind.

Chicken or Beef Enchiladas (a common Mexican meal)


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 12 flour or corn tortillas
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cooked beef or chicken
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onions with tops, thinly sliced
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa


  • In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic until onion is tender.  Blend in flour.  Stir in broth, milk, chilies, salt and cumin.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.   Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Set aside.
  • Grease a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.  Spoon a little sauce in the center of each tortilla; spread to edges.  Place about 2 tablespoons meat down the center of each tortilla.  Combine cheeses; sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons on top of meat.  Roll up tortillas and place in baking dish, seam-side down.  Pour remaining sauce over.  Sprinkle with green onions and remaining cheese.  Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  Serve with sour cream and salsa. Yield: 6 servings.

If you’d like to watch how enchiladas are made (the recipe is very similar), watch the following video, courtesy of Ray:

Cheesy Beans and Rice (Mexican Side Dish)


  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided


  • Cook rice according to package directions.  Transfer to a large bowl; add the beans.  In a nonstick skillet, saute onion in oil for 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, chili powder and salt.  Bring to a boil; remove from the heat.
  • In a 2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray, layer a third of the rice mixture, cheese and tomato mixture.  Repeat layers.   Layer with remaining rice mixture and tomato mixture.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until heated through.  Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.

A cook at Food City TV makes the exact same dish, as you can see in the following video:

Sopaipillas (Mexican dessert)


  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • Honey


  • In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients; cut in shortening until crumbly.  Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until mixture holds together.
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.  Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Roll out to 1/4-in. thickness.  Cut with a 2-1/2-in. star cookie cutter or into 2-1/2-in. triangles.
  • In an electric skillet or deep fat fryer, heat oil to 375°.  Fry sopaipillas for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and puffed.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve immediately with honey. Yield: 1 dozen.

The following video, produced by MindPower009, shows a similar recipe for sopaipillas:

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican Civic holiday that commemorates the unlikely victory against the French.  Cinco de Mayo is mostly celebrated in the town of Puebla and in the United States.  It is not commonly celebrated all throughout Mexico, but in the United States the holiday has become a day to recognize Mexican heritage and pride. So take the time this Cinco de Mayo to enjoy the cultures of Mexico and have a delicious Mexican cuisine-inspired meal with the family!

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Joie Montoya

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo, which is Spanish for the “Fifth of May”, is a Mexican holiday that commemorates the Mexican victory against French forces on May 5, 1862.  The holiday is widely celebrated in the United States of America, more so than in Mexico itself.  People should not confuse this holiday with Mexico’s Independence Day, which takes place on September 16th.  Cinco de Mayo is a fun and exciting holiday to celebrate with the family or at a public event.  If you choose not to celebrate at home, Olvera Street in Los Angeles, 4th Street in Santa Ana, and Virginia Park in Santa Monica all have public activities for this holiday.

Many families get together and make Mexican food and play Mexican music.  On the historic site, Olvera Street in Los Angeles, mariachis, folklorico dancers, piñatas and other activities take place.  At Virginia Park in Santa Monica, mariachis, a salsa band, folklorico dancers, and children’s crafts will all be on-site with classic, vintage, muscle cars, low riders, trucks and specialty vehicles.  Santa Ana has the largest Mexican-American community in Orange County.  On the city’s 4th Street, a two-day festival is held with carnival rides, games, music, dance and lots of food.  With food, and entertainment for people of all ages, you can be sure that Cinco de Mayo will be enjoyed by the whole family!

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Taylor P.

Panda Express Has a New Market: China!

April 27, 2011

You would think that Panda Express, being a Chinese-oriented fast food place, would be a great success in China, but the fast food chain isn’t quite sure this Americanized cuisine will appeal to the Chinese people.  “The Chinese food we eat in America is very alien to Chinese people,” says writer Jennifer Lee.  Certain dishes, while known in China for thousands of years, have been completely changed to appeal to the American consumer.  When Jennifer Lee was doing her research, she went to the Hunan Province (hometown of General Tso) and showed a family a picture of Tso’s Chicken, a traditional Chinese dish here in America, but an apparently foreign dish to the Chinese people.  The following questions have been raised: how does Americanized Chinese cuisine differ from Chinese cuisine?  And how will that affect Panda Express’ success in China?

Panda Express, an American fast food chain specializing in Chinese-inspired cuisine, has its sights set on...China?For starters, native Chinese cuisine is homemade and much more organic than Americanized, fast food Chinese cuisine.  Furthermore, while Mandarin Chicken and Beef and Broccoli are American favorites, native Chinese people prefer Peking Duck and Lotus Rice Cakes.  I feel that Panda Express would be successful in China because their menu differs from native offerings.  While some native Chinese people might not like change, others may be more open minded and try new things.  After all, the basic staples of the Chinese cuisine are incorporated in Panda Express’ menu such as rice, vegetables, and sauces and spice.  Panda Express has always been one of my favorites; I hope it becomes one of China’s favorites, as well.

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Joie Montoya