Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Eats

The one time of year when making food that looks like eyeballs, brains, or anything gross is not only accepted but encouraged. The cute and creative dishes at my friend Michelle's Halloween party impressed me. Here's a few of my favorites!

Octopus cupcakes made with blow pops and gummy worms.

Too cute to eat- Mummy made of cheese! His wrappings are made of cream cheese.

Mmm, pumpkin barf! (it's guacamole)

Bite-sized pumpkins- cheese balls with parsley for leaves and pretzels for stems.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Campus Eats

Grads cherish memories of their college days. A few of my favorites: football games, sleeping late, Frisbee on the quad, campus food. Yep, that’s right, campus food makes my list. When I entered James Madison University in 2004 the Princeton Review ranked them at #18 on their Best Campus Food list. A few of JMU students' favorite eats: Thanksgiving dinner anytime at Cranberry Farms in the Festival food court, spinach and artichoke dip at the on-campus sit down restaurant Madison Grill, and peanut butter pie at cafeteria style D-Hall.

I went back to JMU recently, and they have since climbed to #4 on the Best Food list thanks to their new dining hall, referred to by students as E-Hall. This isn’t your middle school lunch line. It’s a completely green facility with fancy black square plates and fresh made pita bread. Grad school anyone?

Salad and homemade pita bread and mini pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.

Bizarre Eats

Traveling and trying new foods is always an adventure, but it can be uncomfortable when cultures differ on what is considered “food”. I expanded my “food” boundaries in Spain with pig ears, fried lamb stomach, and suckling (yes, as in baby) pigs. The lamb stomach and the suckling pig were amazing! I look forward to my next trip to Spain so I can try them again. The pigs ear tasted great, too. It was garlicky and buttery, but when I mentioned to my friend that I wasn’t too fond of the texture, she blurted out “Yeah! That’s because you are eating cartilage and fat and skin!!”. Needless to say, I couldn’t clean my plate.

Los Cuchinillos (baby pigs) ready for the oven at Botin, the World's Oldest Restaurant.
Resturante Botin, Calle de los Cuchillerros 17, Madrid, Spain

Fried lamb stomach at a Spanish street festival, served Spanish style with lots of bread.

I'm not anxious to try "the Golden Ear" again.
La Oreja de Oro, Calle de La Victoria 9, Madrid, Spain

I’m not obsessed with trying weird things but apparently there’s a large group of Foodies who feel the stranger, the better. Fans of Travel Channel shows Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bordain’s No Reservations are disappointed if an episode doesn’t include the consumption of a few testicles. It’s not just the older chefs that are in on the weird food. I discovered an interesting Blog called Weird Meat. Blogger Michael was a vegetarian, oddly enough, but his curiosity about why cultures eat what they do has made him put aside his all-veggie habits. If you are traveling to a new country and are looking for some weird eats, his blog will serve as an awesome guide.

3 Foods that are Surprisingly Easy to Make From Scratch

Cooking from scratch is not always the most convenient, but for Foodies, better taste can be worth the effort. Here are a few foods that take only a little extra effort to make from scratch but provide a big pay off in taste. Plus, isn’t it nice controlling the quality of your ingredients and knowing exactly what goes into your food?

Salad Dressing- You’d be surprised how many types of salad dressing you can whip up with staples in your kitchen. Don’t have any Thousand Island? Just mix some ketchup, mayo, and relish, viola! That way, you can mix up just enough for your salad or reuben sandwiches and not have a ton of extra going to waste in the fridge.

Croutons- Sticking with the salad theme, making croutons is easy and has several advantages: 1. Great use of day old bread 2. Having fresh, homemade, delicious croutons on hand always encourages me to eat more salad. 3. They taste way better than boxed croutons.

Homemade Croutons

Refried Beans- I know you probably think I’m nuts for suggesting such a thing. Yes, eating refried beans is just as easy as opening a can, but what if I told you 5-10 minutes of extra work would give you the most flavorful, perfectly seasoned refried beans you’ve ever had? You’re a Foodie, of course you would try it! Check out the recipe and remember,you can customize the amount of heat and spice to your own taste. The following recipes uses green chiles, but I like mine with sauteed garlic and jalapenos. Add these beans to burritos, nachos, or serve them in a bowl as a dip.

Homemade Refried Beans

What foods do you think are worth making from scratch?

Welcome to Down 2 Eat!

Down 2 Eat is a blog dedicated to young foodies who love anything and everything that involves food! Down 2 Eat Bloggers will chow down at home, at a roadside diner or with candles and white linens. The setting doesn’t matter; it’s all about finding that bite of food that makes you close your eyes and say “mmmm!”.

When we find that perfect bite, we'll share the restaurant, the store, or the recipe where we found it. So check back often to see what we've come up with, your mouth will thank you.