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Four Corners & Eight Slices of Pie

Earlier this year my eldest daughter had the opportunity to vacation in Hawaii, go on a school trip to Alaska and spend the summer at a camp in Maine. When a friend of the family jokingly suggested we take her to Florida in order to complete her Four Corners of the USA in One Year Quest, a seed was planted & it started to grow. We figured if she was going to hit all four corners, she needed to do it in style and go to the Southernmost Point in the Southernmost Corner of the USA. So we booked a trip to Key West, the land of Jimmy Buffett, Magical Sunsets & Key Lime Pie. It was that last element, Key Lime Pie, that made up the trip’s sub-plot. So in a tip of the hat to my friend, The Big Dog, let me regale you on search for the best piece of Key Lime Pie that we could find.

Now I make a fairly passable Key Lime Pie myself. At least I thought I did before we landed in Miami and jumped in our rental car for our drive through the Keys to our ultimate destination. We sampled eight different slices of Key Lime Pie over the three days we were in town and only one restaurant we ate in did not serve that quintessential dessert. They served crepes instead and while they had Lime as the main ingedient, it didn’t say Key Lime so we didn’t order them.

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen – Key Largo – just past Mile Marker 99 if you are coming south

This was our first stop along the way. It had been an early flight with no real meals so when we got here, we were hungry. After devouring an assortment of Conch Fritters, Grilled Mahi, Fried Chicken & Fried Shrimp (along with a Key Lime Freeze – more to come on that later) it was time for the pie. Every order at every restaurant was the same, one slice & five forks (though our son had no interest in any of the eight slices we would try). It was a very classic presentation with just a few squirts of whipped cream as adornment. The pie itself had a mild Key Lime Flavor to it and a very homemade, possibly the most homemade, graham cracker crust to it that could be eaten alone. It was a great piece of Key Lime Pie with which to start the adventure.

El Meson de Pepe – Key West – just off Mallory Square

You can’t go to southern Florida without trying Cuban food so our first night in town we found a great restaurant in an old Cigar Factory. The piece of Key Lime Pie that came to the table at the end of the meal was probably the prettiest piece of pie we would get the entire trip. Unfortunately it’s very mild Key Lime flavoring got absolutely lost in the huge amount of whipped cream that adorned/covered the pie. The graham cracker crust was basic and most likely was not homemade.

Key West Key Lime Pie Factory – Key West – Greene Street down the block from Sloppy Joes.

In case you didn’t know, you have seen them on Throwdown with Bobby Flay (they lost) and on The Profit on CNBC. You also see signs in every little food/souvenir store for their Frozen & Dipped in Dark Chocolate slices. This is probably the most well-known slice of Key Lime Pie in the Keys thanks to all of that television exposure. Unfortunately, I think all that popularity went to their head. We went to the Flagship location and got a slice of their plain Key Lime Pie. It was on the small side but it also had the heaviest dose of Key Lime flavoring. It was almost acidic. To me, it tasted “Factory Made” and for my wife, it tasted “boozy”. The crust was non-descript in a “I can’t remember it now” kind of way. In any case, this was not a family favorite.

Now I mentioned the Frozen & Dipped in Dark Chocolate earlier and it was probably the most anticipated piece of the whole trip. Unfortunately for us, it was a complete letdown. The dark chocolate was so heavy that it overpowered the rest of the pie. Knowing that we had a piece of pie under the chocolate that we hadn’t really liked in its non-frozen state didn’t help either. The acidity of the pie was covered by the chocolate but so was the Key Lime flavoring. The graham cracker crust was there but it wasn’t. We ate it quickly due to the heat, not because we wanted to.

Sunset Pier – Key West – Mallory Square

There are few places better to watch for the fabled flash of green during the sunset in Key West than in Mallory Square and the Sunset Pier at the very end of Duval Street is always crowded. The food is good, they have live music, the sunset cruise boats all float by while the revelers aboard wave to the people on the pier. Too bad the Key Lime Pie didn’t live up to the rest of the atmosphere. The pie itself is served with a Cashew Graham Cracker Crust which was okay but the filling tasted more lemon than lime to all of us. There seemed to be a very thin coating of Key Lime on the top of the pie but that was it. It was also served with a blackberry & strawberry but with no whipped cream. Good thing we had a beautiful sunset and yes, I missed the Flash of Green.

Conch Republic Seafood Co. – Key West – Greene Street away from Duval

This place was right on the water and the type of bar I probably would have lived in during my drinking days oh so long ago. They also had great food & live music but they also had the Key Lime Pie to back it all up. It was a very pretty presentation that had alternating stripes of raspberry & lime on top with a spritz of whipped cream and another cashew graham cracker crust. It was a thin pie but it was a very flavorful pie. The key lime flavoring was the best we had had to that point and the custard was smooth. The pigeon’s cruising around the legs of the outdoor tables got no crumbs from us. As we left the restaurant, we were already starting to fit the gold crown for their chef’s head.

Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe – Key West – directly across the street from Conch Republic Seafood Co.

Despite having just eaten a slice of pie minutes earlier, we boldly crossed the street, said Hello to Kermit in his Key Lime Green Chef’s jacket & toque out front and went into the shoppe for another piece of pie. Kermit may be famous for his pie but he also sold every other kind of key lime edible you could think of from jams to jelly beans to cookies to coffee (I think). They also had several different flavors of Key Lime Pie and the mango Key Lime almost called my name but we had to be fair and try the same slice everywhere. It’s a good thing that Kermit’s single slices are so small because we really were full from our earlier lunch. It almost looked like a toy piece of pie in its little plastic shell. It had a nice key lime flavor but it didn’t quite measure up to the slice we had just eaten. I wish the piece had been a little bigger so I could have sampled more of it but I don’t think that size would have mattered this time around.

Roof Top Café – Key West – just off Mallory Square

For our final meal in town we went to the Roof Top Café just off of Mallory Square. It was a spur of the moment decision as the other place we were thinking of was still some blocks away and no one wanted to keep walking in the heat & humidity that is Key West. Dinner was excellent and during the meal we all shared a Key Lime Virgin Colada (more on that later). At the end of the meal we were presented with our favorite piece of Key Lime Pie. It was thicker than most and the custard was very smooth. The key lime flavoring was strong but not overbearing or acidic like an earlier slice. The graham cracker crust was definitely homemade and it was the only slice we had that was served with an actual slice of lime on the plate. One bite in and we had family consensus on the winner.

Now I also mentioned the Key Lime Freeze at Mrs. Mac’s which was a cross between a milkshake & an ice cream float that was so good I ordered it again when we stopped there on our way back to the airport. I really wish I could have ordered another of the Key Lime Virgin Coladas from the Roof Top Café. Slip some rum into that drink and I don’t think I would have ever gotten out of the 1980’s alive. We also stopped at Robert Is Here, an amazing fruit stand, zoo & milkshake place in Homestead where I had a Cherry Key Lime Milkshake that was great but I never tasted the key lime for all of the cherry flavoring.

We had so much fun that we are already thinking about another change in our latitude as we change our attitude in search of more slices of Key Lime goodness. Any suggestions ?

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Stuck in the Virtual Express Lane…again

Here I am once again standing in my Virtual Express Lane counting the items in my cart, counting the items in the carts around me, glancing at the headlines on the gossip magazines, trying to remember what I forgot to get on my list and wondering if I should buy the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups staring up at me from the candy rack while the person at the register struggles with a new roll of tape while someone else tries to write a check for over with a pencil.

Not really but some days do feel like it.

I haven’t written a blog in a long while and I don’t know whether it is because I forgot how to write or that I don’t have time to write or that I have nothing to write about. Then again, I did write countless letters to my daughters at camp so I didn’t forget how to write. I had time to write the letters so I can’t use that excuse either. Finally, I wrote about something different in each letter to the girls at camp so I guess I did find things to write about. None of that is neither here nor there and just taking up space so let’s get to meat of the matter and see what cooking in my cart.

I noticed during a stretch this summer that my belt was starting to shrink in the wash again so I decided 2 weeks ago to go back on Dr. Killjoy’s DIE-t that was so successful for me 3 years ago when I lost Nine Bags of Sugar from my waistline. It was slow at first but then I broke my Elliptical (again) and had to start jogging again.

I hate jogging.

That being said, we are about to depart on a quick 4 days excusion to the Florida Keys and it is my goal to sample, photograph & review every slice of Key Lime Pie I can get in my mouth during the trip. Guess I’ll be jogging most of the way to Key West & back.

Had a chance to play 3 days of Pompous Chest Thumping Man Golf earlier this summer and when our team won, it was left to me to create a victory dish drawing from elements of the weekend. I included Scallops & Bourbon but couldn’t find a single thing to do with the stinky cigars. Considering how much rain we had, the dish was served over Wilted Greens.

Limes are still expensive and I am still buying them.

We discovered a new/old ice cream shop this summer and so far every flavor I have ordered has turned out to be a pie mixed in with the ice cream. Almost as if I was ordering ice cream ala mode with pie. I would post a picture of the Cherry Pie Ice Cream but I don’t know how in the middle of a blog and AR won’t let me at the end of the blog anymore so you will just have to trust me as to how good it looked.

We went to a Food Truck festival the other weekend with 20 Food Trucks. They could have had 40 Food trucks there and I think the lines still would have been 30-60 minutes and they still would have run out of food in the early afternoon.

As I wrote in every letter to my girls this summer, my garden is exploding. The Roma & San Marzano Tomatoes were a failure but everything I have ever planted in that patch of the garden has always stunk. I know where I am focusing my earthly intentions this fall & next spring. My red & yellow cherry tomatoes however are off the charts. There are so many ripe & green tomatoes ripening that when you stare into my “Tomato Jungle” it kind of looks like Jackson Pollack painted a Stop Light.

My wife has been stuffing jalapenos with cheese & wrapping them in bacon all summer and now the habaneros are coming in. Twice as much bacon but more than twice as much heat.

I think God invented ice cream to help people who had spicy food for dinner or lunch. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

Did I really see Christmas decorations next to the Halloween stuff at Costco last weekend ?

I watched Food Network Star and didn’t vote for the eventual winner. Lenny seems like a nice guy but he also feels like a one trick pony. Maybe they can squeeze in a season of Fish Out of Water scenarios for him like his visit to the yogurt shop in Chelsea Market ? That I would watch.

My daughters were homesick for camp so we let them cook food like they do at camp for all of us the other night. The burgers were tender on the inside and CHARRED on the outside. Not sure why anyone would miss those.

We are in the final stages of my 3 year dental implant journey and I have to remind myself that Ghost Pepper Sauce & stitches don’t mix. It may have been close to 25 years since I last was able to bite an apple when this whole thing started but it will be closer to 28 years when I finally do take that first bite. I am still thinking Granny Smith though my family is pushing for Honey Crisp.

Finally remembered what I forgot but I am already checked out and headed for the Florida Keys. Guess it will have to wait. In the meantime, I think I will see if I can send my Alligator Chili recipe to the folks in Alabama that caught that 1,000lb Alligator the other day. They may need a few recipes beyond Fried Gator on Stick.

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I Got Mugged. Again.

It was a typical Saturday morning in our home. I woke up earlier than everyone else and snuck down to the basement to punish myself for an hour on the elliptical. Then I went back upstairs, showered, got dressed and came back downstairs to make breakfast for everyone like the moonlighting wannabe short order cook that I am. We all marveled at the glorious goodness that is the first cup of coffee & we laughed as I broke the yolk on one of my fried eggs again. I am blaming it on having to switch to a new spatula but that is blog that has already been written and is irrelevant to this particular story. When breakfast was over, I asked my wife if there were any errands I could do for her and she gladly handed over the grocery list. I gladly accepted since I know my wife hates going to the grocery store on the weekends (or any other day for that matter too) and because I actually like to try and beat the store at its own game when it comes to pricing & specials.

Now if I hadn’t still been in somewhat of an Aloha State of Mind due to our recent vacation I might have paid more attention to the date. I might have noticed the parking lot was full to bursting with cars, people & wayward carts. I might have noticed the crowds around the doors. But I didn’t and I plunged through the chaos with my basket in hand to further my quest to conquer the list & beat up on the store.

After I successfully negotiated the crowded aisles & the mounting obstacles around the checkout, I made way back toward the exit and the chaos that was still the parking lot. As I stepped through the doors into the broad daylight and slipped between two slow moving carts they struck. There were five of them and I recognized all five of them instantly because they were the same five that had mugged me in this very same parking lot a year earlier. I looked at them & they looked back at me before the one that was obviously the ringleader said with a quirky smile,

“Hey Mister, want to buy some Girl Scout Cookies ?”

Twenty bucks later they had trashed my diet and they were moving onto their next victim. As I watched Thin Mint, Tagalong, Trefoil, Samoa & Do Si Do (my names for them, not theirs) walk away, I heard their troop leader merrily gloat , “Thank you Sir & see you again next year”.

My waistline & wallet shuddered at the thought.

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But Can They Really Call It #Pizza ?

To me, Pizza, is and always has been a large regular cheese with a thin crust. If you can’t give it a good New York Fold then it isn’t pizza. Sorry Chicago, if you need a fork & knife to eat it, it isn’t pizza. I also have to admit that I am not a fan of greasy meat on my pizza either so you can keep the pepperoni & sausage but I would never look down on a pizza for having it. Veggies on a Pizza ? Well, aren’t we all really ordering pizza for dinner so we can avoid eating veggies and doesn’t the tomato in the sauce count anyway ?

The reason I bring this up is that we receive a countless number of food porn magazines in our house. We claim to buy them for the recipes & articles but we really spend all of our time looking at the pictures. A recent issue came in that really caught my eye because it claimed to have 5 Fab Pizzas in their Global Gourmet Issue. The picture on the cover was tantalizing so I flipped to the article in the back of the magazine beyond the centerfold.

In recent years an appetizer has shown up on menus called Flatbread, which to me is nothing more than a piece of dough with some stuff tossed on top of it and tossed into a pizza oven. It is usually of an abstract or rectangular shape so essentially, it’s masquerading as a pizza. It reminded me of years ago when we would buy a Boboli Bread Shell and make “pizza” with it. As I began to peruse the pictures & the recipes in “Pizza” article I had to ask myself, if a flatbread is round, can you really call it a pizza ?

No. You can’t and here is why.

Now I understand the need to be different in a crowd in order to get noticed. I understand how you have to push the envelope on flavor combinations & creative ingredients because I watch CHOPPED & TOP CHEF and all the other cooking competition shows out there but just because you put some cheese on a crust does not make it pizza. The first problem I found with the pizzas in this article were the mix & match crust options. I understand the desire to be healthy so I have no problem with whole wheat or gluten free crusts but CAULIFLOWER CRUST ?

Seriously ?

The word “cauliflower” should never be uttered in the same sentence as the word “pizza” unless that sentence has something to do with ingredients that should never ever be included in a pizza.

The next problem was with most of the pizzas themselves. The Pizza Albondigas was probably the closest thing to a real pizza in that it was a spanish meatball pizza. True, the meatballs are traditionally used in soup. Makes me kind of wonder what a Pizza Soup might taste like ?

The second pizza on the list was a Chicken Spanakopizza that had greek yogurt, feta cheese & spinach among the many unorthodox items on it’s ingredient list. The only two ingredients that even closely resembled pizza were the crust & mozzarella cheese. This really seemed more like the Greek Salad you get at your local diner than a pizza.

The Turkish Lahmacun Pizza lost me at Lamb but then went on to add in cinnamon, paprika, allspice & lettuce. I’m sorry but lettuce never has and never will belong on a pizza. Case closed. There will be no further argument.

As egregious an offense as the lettuce was to the World of Pizza, the recipes continued to offend me in more ways than I thought possible. Coconut Curry Vegetable Pizza has everything going wrong for it from the very first word. I may stray and eat the occasional Hawaiian Pizza with Ham & Pineapple on it but I can’t think of any pizza that needs or wants coconut on it. We already know how I feel about vegetables on pizza but this recipe actually called for 2 cups of chopped CAULIFLOWER. (SEE ABOVE CAULIFLOWER RANT) Throw in the peas, chickpeas, carrots & potatoes with the curry seasoning and what we really have is some sort of middle eastern side dish on a thicker piece of Naan. How in the world is this considered a pizza ?

But that wasn’t the worst “pizza” on the list and I am being generous when I use the word “pizza” here. Just the name alone was enough to bring back hazy memories of eating hungover leftovers on a Sunday afternoon from the back of the fraternity refrigerator in college, Chicken Lo Mein Pizza. The recipe is really nothing more than taking leftover chinese food and dumping it on top of a pizza. There are some lines that are sacred and should not be crossed and I realize that Tostino’s Pizza Rolls cross that line in the other direction but if you are going to dump chinese food on a pizza, at least pick a dish that doesn’t include noodles. It’s just a crime against all that is holy & glorious in the world of the $1 Slice.

I am sure that there are those out there that will tell me I am narrowminded and that all of these are great recipes and I am sure for someone out there they are but can they really call them pizzas ?

And come back next time when we talk about how I got mugged again this past weekend by a bunch Girl Scouts.

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10 Food-Ball Thunks About The Super Bowl

ImageTwo weeks ago in the Mile High City, Peyton Manning “Omaha-ed” the Denver Broncos to a victory over the Walking Talking Touchdown Tossing Ken Doll (who is now paddleboarding in Costa Rica with Barbie) & the New England Patriots in the American Food-Ball Conference Championship Game. While up in the louder than an airplane taking off home of “The 12th Man”, Richard Sherman deflected away Colin Kaepernick’s final pass in the Seahawks’ end zone and sparked a controversy when his mouth began to celebrate before his head could catch up with it in National Food-Ball Conference Championship Game. What that all means is that it’s “Mann vs Mouth” (with credit to the New York Post) in Super Bowl XLVIII – The Denver Broncos vs The Seattle Seahawks.

 

As a longtime Denver Broncos fan, I remember when the Seattle Seahawks played in the AFC West. I was never a fan of Jim Zorn, Steve Largent, Dave Krieg, Curt Warner or least of all Brian Bosworth. (Does he still have Bo Jackson’s footprint on his chest ?) I didn’t hate the the Seahawks like I did the Raiders, Chiefs & Chargers, they just annoyed me. I have to admit I was glad when they were moved to the NFC in the most recent expansion realignment. My disdain for the franchise had remained dormant until now. Now the Seahawks are my mortal enemy again and they are all that is standing in the way of a Denver Broncos Super Bowl victory on Sunday. So with a tip of the chef’s toque to the Monday Morning Quarterback himself, Peter King @SI_PeterKing on Twitter, let’s get to 10 Food-Ball Thunks About The Super Bowl.

 

1. Every year I try to come up with dishes to represent the two teams playing in the Super Bowl. In the earlier rounds of the playoffs I pick more whimsical recipes in part to spark controversy & to play on stereotypes. Come Super Bowl however, I pick recipes that I am actually going to make & eat so I try to come up with something good. When I first moved to Denver in 1982 the closest I came to Mexican food was driving past Taco Bell. The guys in my office used to take me to The Riv off of Colorado Boulevard once a week just to see me sweat. So for the Denver Broncos I am thinking of taking a Phyllo Cup and filling it with first a scoop of a Spicy Denver Omelet, then topping that with a scoop of Buffalo Burger, some Mexican 3 Cheese Mix and then tossing the whole tray under the broiler. Maybe top it with a scoop of guacamole at the end.

2. When people stereotypically think of Seattle, they think of throwing & catching salmon, starbucks & coffee, McDreamy & McSteamy and the color Black but Seattle and the state of Washington are so much more. The food scene is over the top and don’t forget about the incredible apple & cheery crops growing out in the eastern part of the state. With all that in mind and far too much time on a train in the morning to think, I have decided to roast chunks of salmon on a wire rack and to marinate & glaze them in a Cherry & Wine sauce using a chardonnay (white with fish) from a local Washington vineyard like Chateau St. Michelle. In a tribute to the “Legion of Boom”, I will have to kick it up just a notch at the end….but not too much.

3. Other Super Bowl menu items will include standards like Chicken Wings, Ribs, Deviled Eggs with Cheddar & Bacon, some sort of dip and of course, Alligator Chili. I did have someone review my Coconut Conch Chowder recipe the other day and while I don’t have any conch this year in the freezer, I did just get 10lbs of frozen crawfish tails sent to me from Louisiana. Of course I will be making a few items from the RITZ Recipe Collection and there will be other items too that I will reveal on Game Day as I make them.

4. You heard it here first. The Polar Vortex is moving out and the weather will not be a factor in this game. The only thing the two teams may have to worry about are the swirling winds in Giants Stadium but both quarterbacks played here this year (both beat the Giants handily) so that shouldn’t be much of a factor. Both kickers have guns for legs so I am not worried about them either.

5. The Seahawks & Broncos have actually already played this season. They met back in the very first week of preseason when the guys the Seahawks were going to cut beat the guys the Broncos were going to cut by a score of 40-10. It meant nothing then and it means nothing now.

6. No one cared about the Super Bowl commercials until 1984 when Apple made a commercial that never mentioned their product but is still talked about today. Now you can see teasers for commercials on every social media outlet known to mankind before the game. Can’t say that I am looking forward to any one commercial in particular but I am sure there will be more than few that will make me say, “$4 million for that ?”

7. When I first moved to Denver, John Elway still belonged to the Baltimore Colts and was playing baseball in the minor leagues for the Yankees and George Steinbrenner. I wasn’t an Elway fan at all. He went to Stanford & my Mom went to Cal. (Go Bears !) Now I believe in “Elwayism”. When I die, I believe that John Elway himself will throw my soul into heaven.

8. Yes, I will be wearing my John Elway apron when I am cook on Sunday.

9. I can’t wear my jersey on Game Day. Bad Luck. I can only wear team colors. This year the lucky shirt & shorts have been a blue & orange tee shirt from Maui and orange running shorts. I have only worn them during games and have yet to wash them. Superstition – it’s only crazy if it doesn’t work.

10. I flew last week for the first time this year. The only thing that has changed is that more people who have no clue what they are doing have been granted TSA Pre-Check status. This hasn’t made the process of flying any easier, faster or safer for frequent fliers like me. I also learned last week that if a “deadheading” pilot has to sit in a middle seat, he gets paid 50% of his hourly wage as compensation. I offered to change seats with the disgruntled pilot in the middle seat for half of his 50% but he said no. Guess sitting in the middle isn’t so bad after all. Speaking of middle seats, based on their commercial, Expedia can get you the middle seat in the last row of coach and you have to pay for your bag to be checked. Is this really an ad for orbitz or Travelocity.

11. (because I can’t count) Back in 1990 I flew on Alaska Airlines from Oakland to Seattle. My plane was called Seahawk One and I sat in a seat that was reserved for the Linebackers Coach. The flight was on time but it may have been the most miserable flight of my life.

12. (why not an even dozen) If it hadn’t been for a recent basement remodel and three bathrooms needing to be redone, I might have tried to get tickets for the Super Bowl. To be honest, I would rather my first Super Bowl be somewhere warm like New Orleans or San Diego. I have been to Giants Stadium and it doesn’t excite me. Neither does an average ticket price of $3,600 and rising with the temperature.

13. (a Baker’s Dozen is even better & 13 is our family’s lucky number) My prediction for the game – It’s the best offense against the best defense and in most cases, the best defense usually wins. However, the Seahawks haven’t faced a team with as many offensive weapons as the Broncos have. The Broncos not only have Peyton Manning calling the plays/audibles at the line of scrimmage but they also have four receivers who all scored 10 or more touchdowns and they also have two running backs who can ground & pound as well as catch the ball. The Legion of Boom is going to have their hands full trying to cover everyone. When the Seahawks have the ball, quarterback Russell Wilson has Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch to hand off to and a nice collection of receivers to throw to. The Broncos have to contain Wilson when he drops back to pass because he can scramble. The Broncos weakness has been their defensive secondary so if Wilson can evade the pass rush and find his receivers downfield, it could be long game for my Broncos. However I see it coming down to late in the game and Steven Hauschka kicks a long field goal to take a 26-24 lead but hold on, here comes Peyton Manning and with less than 2 minutes to go he finds Julius Thomas in the end zone for a 31-26 lead. The final Hail Mary pass from the Seahawks will get knocked down in the end zone and the Broncos will win their third Super Bowl.

So give me your menu & prediction if you want and next time we can all talk about how right I was.

Go Broncos !

(Sorry Seattle)

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The #RITZNYBlitz Recipe Review

ImageThe Countdown Clocks to the Big Game are winding down. The temperature in New York City has bottomed out and is starting to head back up. Broadway has been turned into “Super Bowl Boulevard” and there is even a 60 foot high by 180 foot long “Toboggan Run” that can be ridden for $5 a ride. Yes, the Big Game is almost upon us so that means it’s time to start finalizing your Game Day Menus. So why not consider some of the incredible #RITZNYBlitz recipes available within the RITZ Recipe Collection at Allrecipes.com that were conceived & developed by my fellow Allrecipes All Stars and a few of New York City’s most iconic restaurants? I know I plan on making more than a few of them myself.

 The All Star Recipes and the blogs behind them can all be found right here:

 RITZ Pushcart Hot Dog Bites created by My Recipe Journey

 RITZ Cuban Minis created by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures

 RITZ “Everything” Bites with Lox & Schmear created by Country Girl Gourmet

 RITZ Fried Raviolis created by Flavor Mosaic

 RITZ Hazelnut Gelato Sandwich created by The 7up Experience

 RITZ Spicy Asian Wings created by Life Tastes Good

 RITZ New York-style Mini Crumb Cheesecakes created by The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch

 And RITZ Steakhouse Bites created by Behind The Shades

 The iconic New York restaurant recipes from the #RITZNYBlitz collection can all be found right here:

 RITZ Pastrami & Corned Beef Mini Sandwich created by Carnegie Deli

 RITZ Country Fried Ribs with Zesty Buttermilk Ranch Dressing created by Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (and blogged about by me here)

 RITZ White Pizza Meatball Dip created by Lombardi’s Pizza

 RITZ Humble Pie with Peanut Butter Mousse created by Serendipity 3

 It’s going to be an exciting game so why not add some excitement to your Game Day spread. I know it’s been fun for me to help create & promote these recipes and I hope it will be fun for you to make & eat them too.

 Go Broncos !

 (Sorry Seattle)

 I participated in a campaign on behalf of RITZ Crackers. I received a sample to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

I am an Allrecipes Allstar brand ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not
compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com.

Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews
on BEHIND THE SHADES. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Doug Matthews.
http://allrecipes.com/howto/allrecipes-allstars/detail.aspx

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January 30, 2014 · 2:26 pm

Tales from the #Commute – 8 Quarters

Monday through Friday I never leave the house without 8 quarters in my pocket. Superstition, routine & necessity are all ingredients in my daily grind into NYC and in some ways they all relate to why I have 8 quarters in my pocket as we speak.

I started carrying quarters in my pocket so I could have exact change for newspapers since they were all 25 cents and available only in newspaper boxes. As I moved around the Metro area and newspaper stands came to my stations the quarters became more of a backup in case I needed to use a newspaper box. The number of quarters in my pocket has fluctuated over the years depending on the price of the various newspapers I would buy. I started with 4 quarters and then it jumped to 6 when the Star Ledger & NY Post both raised their price. It dropped back to 5 when the Post had to go back to matching the Daily News for a little while. Steadily the number of quarters in my pocket went back to 6 then 7 and now 8 since the Post is a buck.

I know I jingle a little when I walk and in today’s mostly cashless society, coins are quickly becoming more of a nuisance but I couldn’t imagine leaving my house on a work day without them. I will even go out of my way at times to get a few extra quarters in change so I don’t run out. I guess my wife must have noticed my bucket was almost empty the other day because when I came home from my business trip I found 2 rolls of quarters in my bucket.

8 quarters a day – that’s just how I roll.

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