Category Archives: food & drink

Chobani Greek yogurt wants to get in your belly

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(But not only at breakfast.)

For the past month, the team at Chobani has been having all kinds of fun connecting with bloggers on different campaigns to raise awareness for this fan-favorite brand of Greek yogurt’s health and culinary assets. Since my fridge (and my own belly) is always well-stocked with Chobani varieties, it seemed like a no-brainer to throw out some late-game recipes. The campaign is wrapping up, but you can share this and any other related post you see with the hashtag #madewithchobani. And feel free to leave a Chobani Greek Yogurt-inspired recipe here as a comment as well. 

Looking for last-minute ideas for your Labor Day barbecue? Take a page out of Chobani’s (and my) summertime cookbook. These recipes are ridiculously easy and unlike the rest of the (delicious) “junk” you’re likely to be ingesting, are also pretty healthy. The smoothie will make a great breakfast since you’ll be on the go all day, either hosting or attending a backyard party, and with a little luck, you might even coerce the kids (well, maybe your teens), into trying a few sips.

And speaking of healthy, just in case you forgot exactly why yogurt is showing up in all forms on your and restaurants’ tables, is that it is packed with protein, low- or fat-free, and is filled with probiotics that will help regulate your intestinal motility (yes, that is thing). So why not swap in yogurt and protein and slash both calories and fat.

The perfect late-summer on-the-go breakfast.

The perfect late-summer on-the-go breakfast.

Orange-Ginger Smoothie

  • 1 5.3 oz container of plain, vanilla, mango passion, peach or Chobani Greek yogurt
  • Juice from 2 oranges
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 3/4 cup almond vanilla milk
  • 1/2 inch of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoons of honey
  • 6-8 ice cubes

Place all ingredients into blender and process until smooth. (For a thicker smoothie, add more ice and blend again until smooth.)

Pour into chilled glass, garnish with orange slice and serve immediately.

Rosemary-Roasted Garlic Yogurt Smashed Potatoes

  • 6-8 yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/3 cup plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup roasted garlic cloves (you can find pre-roasted at specialty markets or roast at home with olive oil. Can be roasted as a whole bulb, in foil, or as peeled cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh or dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash with skins on, then combine with yogurt and roasted garlic. “Smash” to incorporate garlic, then using a fork, mix in the rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve alongside a piping hot, medium-rare grilled ribeye, NY strip or juicy hamburger topped with this:


Smoky-Creamy Steak or Burger Yogurt-aise

One of the easiest recipes I have ever made (think Staples Easy button), this never fails to get raves for the boost it gives a grilled ribeye, NY  strip or burger. It’s so easy, your kids can help with the prep:

  • 1/3 cup of plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of liquid from a small-sized can of chipotle peppers
  • 2 tablespoons of minced cilantro
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of lime juice
  • pinch of salt

In a bowl, combine yogurt with generous pinch of chipotle chili powder, plus strained chipotle liquid. To this, add minced cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

With the fall’s hectic pace upon us, having some easy-breezy recipes to turn to at the end of the day is definitely going to be helpful. Click here for more creative ways to cut calories and fat, add a bit of silkiness and put some pizazz into mealtime. Cheers to Greek yogurt and 365 days of #madewithchobani eats.

Lean and Green (and Meatless) in Philly

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                        MeatlessMondays_Posters_12_12_FINAL_HrZ_Page_2lean and green potato #meatlessmondayMeatlessMondays_Posters_12_12_FINAL_HrZ_Page_1

Philadelphia’s schools up the ante—and nutritional value of school lunches—on Meatless Monday with its brand new Lean and Green initiative.

We all know the deal: protein is good for you, saturated fat, not so much—a primary factor in meat’s demise in popularity among nutrition experts. Sure, meat has its dietary upside, but unless you’re pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan, chances are you’re eating too much. And, so are your children.

Recent numbers show that Americans consume approximately 185 pounds of chicken, turkey, pork, lamb and beef annually. While that doesn’t seem like much over the course of 12 months, overconsumption (more than 18 ounces per week of red meat, in particular) can clog your arteries and increase the risk of colon cancer. That’s the “not so (good) much” part.

Now that summer is behind us, and for us carnivores, its abundance of grilled burgers, ribs, hot dogs and chicken, sticking to the guidelines should be a lot easier. And though I did make it through the first Monday of September with nary a bite of meat, I suspect many others did not. The good news, is that you’ve got another 51 (+/-) chances to jump on the Meatless Monday bandwagon. And, to help spread the word about its next school cafeteria rendition: Lean and Green.

If you haven’t heard about this initiative yet, it’s an effort by Philadelphia Public Schools to tastefully tempt students to eat more meat-free meals—not just on Mondays. While menus are still being played with, students can expect more plant-based foods and hearty, but healthy complex carb-protein-veggie combinations such as bean burritos, pasta with marinara sauce and vegetable calzones (yum!).

Health isn’t the only benefit of decreasing consumption (and preparation) of meat, it’s also an effective means of reducing schools’ carbon footprints, positively impacting animal welfare (as it relates to factory farming), and helping more families discover alternatives to foods that lead to chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

As you might expect, this is welcome news to The Humane League, most significantly, its Philadelphia Director Rachel Atcheson who’s been busy shouting the news from the rooftops (and through the media) since the program was announced in late May. The Humane League has been proactive in reducing meat consumption, animal cruelty and environmental damage with its once-a-week meat “vacation,” also adhered to by Philadelphia’s schools. In the City of Brotherly Love, and across the country, #MeatlessMonday has become a weekly habit and spurred a lot of recipe sharing between vegetarians and carnivores. Just throw that hashtag in your browser, and in seconds you’ll have more Lean and Green recipes than time to make them.

“Encouraging students to take a holiday from meat one day a week with Lean and Green Days will do wonders for their health and academic performance.” —Rachel Atcheson, Philadelphia Director, The Humane League.

To get in the mood at home, here are a few recipes for you and the kids. The charred tomato soup is a great way to use up this summer’s final harvest.

Happy (green) eating! (Click on the photos to get to the recipes.)

               baked_zucchini_fries-2-225x175        charred_tomato_soup-149x150DSC_0807-225x175

Mardi Gras Recipe Series: Pecan crusted catfish with…

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…orange-pecan brown butter sauce. (Looks good, right?)

Pecan-crusted Catfish

Last May, I led a recipe development project for a global citrus company. Not only was it a great time, but I came up with several tasty—and simple—recipes, all flavored with fresh orange (blood oranges and clementines too) juice or zest. With Mardi Gras coming up in just under two weeks, I thought it would be fun to post them and a few other recipes over the next week with N’Awlins flair. Since I have this one ready to go, with a pretty photo by photographer Betsy Barron, I am starting with pecan crusted catfish — definitely doable as a weeknight dish.

Let me know what you think and feel free to leave your favorite Cajun or Creole-inspired recipe as a comment. Next up (if I can find my recipe), is Cajun meatloaf with chipotle mashed potatoes and jalapeño cornbread, so come on back.

Here’s the low down on the how-to…

(Serves 2)

Tip: I recommend 1 filet per person, but you can get away with a little less (3 for 4 people, for example) if large and serving other items. 2 catfish fillets, rinsed and patted dry

  • 2 catfish fillets
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs


  1. Dredge each fillet in flour
  2. Dip into beaten egg to coat
  3. Place in pecan mixture, pressing gently to coat both sides of fish
  4. Melt 2 tbsp. of butter over medium heat
  5. Add fillets cooking on each side till lightly brown 2 minutes each side
  6. Transfer to preheated oven (350 degrees) and bake an additional 8 minutes

While fish is cooking, prepare orange brown butter:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place a sauté pan over high heat, add butter, and heat until it bubbles and the milk solids start to turn golden brown.
  2. Add the hazelnuts; cook until they are slightly toasted, about 30 seconds.
  3. Remove from heat, add the orange juice and zest, and swirl the pan around until the mixture emulsifies. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Place catfish on a serving platter (I like to warm mine in the oven or with hot water first) and ladle a bit of the brown butter over top, also serving some on the side in a warm ramekin or tiny saucepan. (I use my measuring cups because the butter stays hot in the metal and is easy to pour out.)



Aphrodisiac Recipes to heat up Valentine’s Day (er, night)

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My grandmother always advised me, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I was probably a little too young for her to add that getting through to his libido wouldn’t hurt. Over the years, I’ve had fun (and success) preparing romantic meals, so this Valentine’s Day, I decided to revisit a few of my favorite aphrodisiac recipes in hopes of helping you (and me) catch Sir (or Ms.) Valentine’s attention.

aphrodesiac images copy

I can’t locate my copy, but there is a fabulous book called Intercourses, which aside from having tastefully erotic photos, is full of interesting tidbits about foods classified as aphrodisiacs, and easy to prepare, delicious recipes. The recipes featured here are not in that book, but once you start to learn about the different aphrodisiac foods, you can play around and create your own tantalizing dishes. First, you have to lose the kids (or the roommate). And get to the market.

Note: The weekend during which I intended to prepare and photograph the complete menu shared here, Philadelphia was experiencing a power outage of historic proportions. All photos featured here were borrowed from the “free to share and use” Bing library. 

Cocktail Hour… lemon-rosemary martini; figs with gorgonzola and pine nuts, warmed in the oven and drizzled with honey

For the martini:

Combine simple syrup and in a shaker with vodka or gin (2 oz. simple syrup to spirits). Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a lemon twist. Optional: coat rims with sugar.

lemon rosemary martini

For the figs:

  • 2 whole, ripe figs, tops cut off to expose flesh & allow for cheese & pine nuts to be stuffed inside
  • small wedge of sharp gorgonzola cheese, softened
  • 1.5 tbsps. lightly toasted pine nuts
  • plain, lavender or orange-scented honey, for drizzling
  1. Press cheese and pine nuts into the top of each fig. Place in preheated oven (350°) and cook for about 10 minutes. The goal is to soften  and warm the fig, and for the gorgonzola to melt inside and over the fig
  2. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately on a small plate with a tapas size fork. Or, get a little messy and devour with your hands (finger licking up to you). Continue reading

Lemon-Rosemary Simple Syrup

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This sweet-tart simple syrup is the main attraction in these refreshing, fragrant and sultry Lemon-Rosemary Martinis. (Click on the image to see my aphrodisiac Valentine’s Day menu) 

lemon rosemary martini


  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice to a boil
  • Add 2 tbsp. roughly chopped rosemary leaves
  • Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, approx. 10 minutes. Add the zest of 1 lemon
  • Transfer syrup to a small metal bowl and let sit until cool (another 10 minutes). Strain, discarding rosemary and zest.

This simple syrup can be used warm, at room temperature or chilled. To store, cover and refrigerate for up to six months.

for those who don't like your simple syrup too sweet, the combination of lemons and rosemary hits the spot.

 For those who don’t like your simple syrup too sweet, the combination of lemons and rosemary hits the spot. Rosemary is one of Mother Nature’s most intoxicating herbs, seductive with everything and on its own.

Family-friendly Valentine’s Day breakfast eats

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As a lifelong Valentine’s Day junkie (blame it on the allure of colorful paper and candy hearts, and a penchant for showing off my penmanship), I have earned my celebration planning stripes—at least when it comes to cooking and sweets gifting. My “baby” is approaching 15, and with the rise of social sharing, I have been approaching each holiday with bittersweet sentiments and a go-get-’em attitude of “I’ll make that for my grandchildren,” which are nowhere in sight. It’s also a bit frustrating to not have many photos of all the nifty food and crafts—if only to remind my middle child that yes, at one point in my life, I was VERY crafty.

Back in the day, Valentine’s Day was the next best thing to Easter and Christmas, with my kids waking up to a stack of Beanie Babies, homemade cookies “bedazzled” in pink, purple and red adornments, a Chinese food or themed tin full of conversation hearts; pink, red and white m&ms, and the permanently-turning-their-tongues-blue-or-red Ring Pop.

Depending upon the year, and that day’s schedule, a celebratory breakfast was also on the Valentine’s Day activities list. Simple combinations of heart-shaped waffles with strawberry sauce and whipped cream (easily made with large Eggo waffles if short on time), heart-shaped eggs in a nest—traditional of French toast style—and no-fuss scones with dried cherries and on occasion, shredded coconut and shaved bittersweet chocolate. All ridiculously easy and greeted enthusiastically.

Even if you don’t have time for a festive morning repast, you can still have fun celebrating with PJs and breakfast for dinner, which we all know kids go gaga over. So grab a couple of heart-shaped cookie cutters, a rolling pin, some eggs, etcetera, and get cooking. Here’s the rest of what you’ll need:  Continue reading

Meatless Monday in Philadelphia Schools

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Lou Ryan, Human League intern and Meatless Monday advocate Hot off the press, a guest post by full-time student, activist and Humane League intern, Lou Ryan. Ms. Ryan currently studies professional writing at Kutztown University, where she has written a number of health-related articles for student-run newspaper The Keystone. We connected on Twitter, after I retweeted a #meatlessmonday post. She is helping the Humane League promote Meatless Monday in Philadelphia Schools and well, I think that is a great cause to support. If you’d like to learn even more about this initiative after reading the information provided here, you can reach Ms. Ryan at and follow her on Twitter @TheHumaneLeague. And, if you’re in favor, well, please sign the petition.

Humane League Logo

Skip the Meat, Save the World: Meatless Monday in Philadelphia Schools
by Lou Ryan

Imagine the positive impact we could make on the world around us if we got one of the ten largest school districts in the U.S. to serve plant-based meals every Monday. Now double that impact, because one such district—Los Angeles Unified Public Schools—has already signed on, and a second is on its way.

Nonprofit organization The Humane League is running a campaign to get the School District of Philadelphia, the eighth largest district in the U.S. by enrollment,[1] to join countless other districts, municipalities, and companies across the nation participating in Meatless Monday.

In 2003, the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health started promoting Meatless Monday as a public health initiative. The Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Oct. 17, 2013 recognizing the benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables and urging city residents to participate in Meatless Monday.[2]

Why Meatless Monday, other than for the sake of alliteration? The resolution cites a multitude of reasons ranging from sustainability to health. Take, for example: “According to the United Nations, ‘Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,’ and the livestock sector is responsible for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.”  Continue reading

Teens and food allergies: No fun.

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Proud mentor moment: The young girl who I mentor via Mighty Writers just had her first guest blog published. Her topic: the “no fun” aspect of being a teen with food allergies. Miss Rave’n-Dajon Coleman‘s blogging niche is sports, so writing about food, and not in a gushing way, was a bit tough for her. I think she got to heart of what she was feeling: It’s no fun having to think so hard about what you eat when you’re a teenager and have plenty of other things to deal with.

I am sure our blog host, Carrie Curry, will appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment. (We Philly Social Media Moms stick together.) And, if you have anyone in your family who is allergic to eggs, I also have a guest post on Chockababy, featuring non-egg recipes—another good reason to visit. Rave’n-Dajon’s post can be found on Chockababy’s homepage and also below. Thanks Carrie for putting Rave’n—and her allergies—in the spotlight.

My Allergy Challenge

Can you imagine being allergic to something you really love? Let me tell you about it. My mother describes the first time I suffered an allergic reaction. I was three years old and eating breakfast at daycare. I don’t know exactly what I ate but my mother later learned it contained egg products. After eating a small amount, my throat began to close, I couldn’t breathe, and I developed hives on my face. An ambulance was called and they injected me with medicine to stop the allergy attack.

As I got older I developed other allergies. I was not only allergic to egg products but peanut butter, walnuts, orange juice, oranges, strawberries, hotdogs, sausages, fish, bananas, grass, dust, cats, dogs, and not to mention soy, which is in everything you can think of.

I’m tired of hearing these words all the time, “Raven you can’t have that you’re allergic to it.” I especially hate when my mom gets worried when I try new foods. She stares at me making sure I won’t have a reaction. This makes it harder for me to enjoy discovering new flavors.

The hardest part about having millions of allergies is when you’re around family and friends and they don’t have to worry about being careful of what they eat. It’s so hard when ordering out with family. While they can order anything on the menu, I am limited to one or two items that I know won’t give me an allergic reaction. It’s tough to see everyone else eat everything while you are left out, but I have learned to live with it.

I have outgrown some of my allergies. I am no longer allergic to eggs, strawberries, orange juice, and I can now eat some foods that contain soy.

If you have a teenager in the house with allergies, you understand how challenging and frustrating it can be for both the parent and the teenager. However, it takes a lot of courage as a parent to allow the teenager the freedom to try new foods and not over-react.


Super Bowl Eats Countdown

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, which makes getting back into the routine akin to starting back at the gym after a few weeks off. The first workout, or in my case blog post, is the hardest to knock out. Lucky for me, one of my sister Philly Social Media Moms and kindred-spirit food fanatic, Heather McCurdy caught my eye on Facebook the other day with these tiny tacos. I am happy to send you her way, because not only is her blog fun to read, she has a bevy of delicious, simple to prepare recipes (served up with a side of sass) and more bite size app recipes in the oven. Thanks to her, my re-entry into is a Super Bowl of fun.

Before I send you over to Real the Kitchen and Beyond, scan your eyes south for a few more recipes to boost your Super Bowl repertoire. And, to satisfy those guests who really don’t give a hoot about the big game.

In the apps for dummies category, I have a super simple recipe made with mid-size portobello mushrooms, Whole Foods spinach and artichoke dip (packed in tubs and possibly in an artichoke-only version as well; in my stores they keep this type of stuff near the prepared foods counter), sun-dried tomato slivers and shredded manchego or locatelli cheese. I made this on a whim once and it was better than I expected. The steps are ridiculously easy and they look quite pretty when done. Alas, for this post, I don’t have an exact shot of the final product. However, the photo below will get your taste buds incentivized. I’ll try to make a batch ASAP and circle back with pics. In the meantime, what you really need to know is under the photo.

portobello Continue reading

Carrots & Pretzels: Thanksgiving eats for the whole family

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Isn’t the Internet grand? Just found a guest post I wrote two years ago highlighting my go-to Thanksgiving cookbook. Saves me some time drafting a new post. And, hopefully YOU some time searching for a new family-friendly recipe. Alas, I can’t rewind to two years ago when the house didn’t feel quite so empty. My favorite part of the holidays is having everyone who can get here, home. My guess is that’s your favorite part too. Happy eating–and hugging. Blog tip: Want some decor ideas, click the image below. 


(Originally posted on November 18, 2011 on The Alonna Zone)

“I met Dawn Warden through our membership in Les Dames d’Escoffier and we each recognized in the other a passion for, not only good food, but zest for life.  She is the former Senior editor and Food editor at Main Line Today.  I asked her to share her Thanksgiving traditions and favorite family dishes. Here is Dawn…”

…Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, as much for the gentle get-your-grateful-on kick-in-the-pants as the crazy-good food that has us all moaning and poking at our bulging bellies by the end of the day. For years now, I have only cooked from Anthony Dias Blue’s Thanksgiving Dinner cookbook, which as far as I am concerned, is the only one you need. My only dissension is the stuffing recipe, which I found on the back of a box of Snyder’s pretzels and thought, ‘What the heck; I’ll give it a try.’ With five kids in the house, stuffing made with an abundance of chunky pretzel bits seems like a safe bet—it was, and still is. Here the recipe courtesy of Snyder’s of Hanover. I tweak it with better quality gourmet pork or veal sausage, baby bella mushrooms and celery—and set aside some that is plain for picky and non-meat eaters.  Continue reading