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Robinsbite: April 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Funky Kitchen Aid Mixers for Sale!

I strolled into the new Market Street in Plano, TX ( today to browse and what did I see in the very fun and funky housewares department? These amazing KitchenAid Mixers were emblazoned with beautiful colors and hand crafted designs. What do you know..I came across a UT LONGHORN mixer! Not shocking as I do live in the land of the Longhorns and one can virtually find UT or Longhorn logos on just about anything that is a person, place or thing. ( a noun, if you will) But on a KitchenAid Mixer? I called Market Street to get the 411.

A gentleman named Von Otto out of New Mexico creates these one of a kind pieces just for Market Street. Apparently, Von became famous for his airbrushing techniques on Evil Knievel's cars. Upon further inspection of Von's website, it's clear that this guy is a genius when it comes to airbrushing. And it looks like he'll airbrush just about anything.

Market Street does take custom orders--they do quite the business with other college mascot/logos as well as individual names-think wedding gifts. They do take custom orders. Price tag is $599.00 for one of these custom made mixers. Hefty on the pocketbook, but definitely a conversation starter in the kitchen! If I had one, I'd put it on the entry hall table at the front door! Yes, it is that deserving in my opinion. (ahem, and if anyone is interested in ordering me one of these said mixers, it's Robin with an "i").

Note: I covertly took these photos with my cell phone, hence the poor quality.
This photo came from the website

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Hawaiian Blog-iatus

Where have you been? You don't write, you don't blog...what's up? I've gotten your messages and do apologize for the temporary freeze on blog postings. I must admit that while my blogs have been few and far between as of late, I do have good reason.

After spending a quick 24 hours in Austin, TX for the Texas Dietetic Association, I'm off to Honolulu, HI, to speak to the Hawaii Dietetic Association! I am honored to be speaking to this esteemed group of colleague and thank Pat Katepoo, RD, Zale Hisashima, RD and Patti Barba, RD for bringing me to this wonderful meeting. We'll be talking about "How to Create Your Dream Job in Dietetics".

My plan is to rest, relax and enjoy after the seminar. My friend and colleague Chef Jennifer Hood, RD will be my travel buddy (again) for this trip. We are well equipped with a list of must-eat restaurants. The list includes:

The Pineapple Room by Alan Wong

Chef Mavro

The Chowder House

Helena’s Hawaiian Food

Hiroshi's Eurasion Tapas


Jimbo Restaurant

Little Villages

Mekong Thai Restaurant

Nico's at Pier 38

Roy’s Restaurant

Side Street Inn

3660 on the Risetown

Downtown @ the HiSAM

Toraji Hawaii

Tsukuneya12th Avenue Grill


Is this list missing anything that YOU know of? Where do you eat in Honolulu?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Warning-the Internet May Contain Traces of Nuts

The title of this blog was a quote on the Flavors From Afar newsletter that popped in my inbox yesterday. As a follower and communicator of the unfortunate contaminated nut epidemic we are experiencing, this made me laugh out loud. More than once.

The Flavors from Afar e-newsletter is produced by Nancy and Gary Krabill..two people who are living their epicurean dream. These two left the traditional business world 5 years ago and opened Flavors From Afar, Dallas' favorite Gourmet Boutique. The store-and its online presence- here-focus on gourmet food from Italy and the Mediterranean. Hand-crafted ceramics from Deruta and Sicily, tabletop accessories, Nancy/Gary led trips to Italy and in-store Italian lessons truly make them a unique find in Dallas.

I was fortunate enough to attend one of their very cool olive oil and vinegar tastings with a small group of individuals. Both Nancy and Gary, who are self taught foodies, are truly passionate about what they do and its obvious by just listening to them dialog with customers about their products, experiences and the store in general. It's refreshing!

They have a great website, can ship all over the US, have a very accomplished newsletter with a terrific following and invoke a warm and inviting vibe with everything they do. Oh, and, they are big supporters of the Days of Taste (DOT) program-one that I am intimately involved with these days. Click here for more info on DOT. Check them out!

An exerpt from their most recent newsletter-Dated April 16, 2009

Your Neighborhood Resource for Local Flavor : Today's Menu
:: Macadamia Madness Heads Our Way Saturday from 1-3
:: Progressive Tasting: Flavors From Afar and Molto Formaggio
:: New Contest from Flavors From Afar: Win a Flip Camera!
:: Open Ranch at Rusty's April 25 from 11-7
:: Olive Trees in Bloom - Get Yours! Earth Day Cometh...
:: Support Our Farmer's Market! Educational and Volunteer Opportunities Here!
:: Don't Miss the Snider Plaza Art Walk!
:: Take Advantage of Our Best-Price Guarantee, and Other Services at Flavors From Afar
:: Collection and Fundraising for L'Aquila Earthquake Victims April 25
:: Follow Us on Facebook or Twitter and Receive a Bonus!

That is Nancy in the photo--if you go into the shop, tell her I sent you!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's for Dinner Tonight? RPK's Taco Salad

Lately, I've had a craving for Mexican (or should I say Tex-Mex) food. Not the as-big- as- your -head enchilada/rice/beans combo patter kind of craving...more like the Taco Salad kind of craving. Since I won't order a Taco Salad at a restaurant-for a variety of reasons, I like to create this version at home.

If you look in your kitchen right now, I'd bet you have at least 75% of the ingredients on hand that you need for this delicious and eye pleasing dish.

RPK's Taco Salad

Salad Greens-the deeper the color, the better-as much as you'd like
Chopped tomatoes-as many as you'd like
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup corn kernels (can be fresh of the cob or out of the can-be sure to rinse and drain well)
1/4 cup reduced fat Mexican blend cheese or Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Salsa-as much as you'd like--this becomes your salad dressing
2 T low fat sour cream (optional)
2 T black olives
11-18 (depending on serving size) of blue corn or yellow corn tortilla chips ( I like Guiltless Gourmet Blue Corn chips or Costco's organic yellow corn tortilla chips

Layer in the following manner:
Lettuce, tomatoes, beans, corn, cheese, salsa, sour cream, olives. Crush chips on top of salad or place around salad and use as "scoopers". Feel free to throw on as many veggies as you'd like, too.

If you'd like to add lean ground beef or turkey, feel free to take out the beans and replace with the meat. Or, if you'd like a double shot of protein, leave the beans!

Next time, I'll take a picture for you. The pretty Mexican dresses don't do my Taco Salad justice....I just thought they were pretty.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I Heart Diet Coke. Judge Me if you Must

I love Diet Coke. I admit it. Judge me if you have to--but know that it is something that I savor and need to make me happy. I love the artificial taste and I love the caffeine. Is that so wrong?

In the last few years, the incentive to completely rid my body of caffeine has been strong. In fact, I've done it a few time here and there and have been successful for months at a time. Many a time I've cut back considerably. Now, I drink a can of Diet Coke on average once every 3 days. Not too bad in my book.

So here's the scoop on caffeine:
  • Guzzle more than 300mg of caffeine per day and you may be raising your stress levels.
  • 300 mg is the amount contained in 2-3 cups of coffee or 5-6 cans of caffeinated soft drinks -- has not been associated with adverse health effects.
  • Caffeine activates the fight or flight response and boosts hear rate, blood pressure and can contribute to stomach upset
  • The March of Dimes advises pregnant women to limit their caffeine consumption to 200 mg or less per day. Click here for more information...and talk to your doctor.
  • 1 12 oz. can of Diet Coke contains 46 mg of caffeine. 12 oz. Red Bull contains 80 mg. 16 oz of Starbucks (Grande) brewed coffee contains 320 mg. Click here to find out the caffeine content in your favorite drink.
The Beverage Institute For Health & Wellness is part of The Coca-Cola Company's ongoing commitments to beverage innovation and nutrition education. This website has a plethora of information, tools, resources for professionals and non-professionals alike as well as FAQ's, ingredient information and general nutrition & wellness articles. Check out the hydration calculator-input your sex, age and weight and a fluid recommendation will pop up-based on your specs. Pretty nifty, especially as the weather starts to warm and outdoor activities increase.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Apples, Nuts, Cheese and Horseradish?

Last night was the first night of Passover. For the last 17 years, I have attended the Seder at the home of Marcia and Art...and it is so special to me that I hope we get invited for the next 17 years. Often, I am tapped to create salads for dinner parties and this, the Mother of all dinner parties (27 people in attendance) was no different. I do consider salads my specialty and am flattered when one is requested.

The time was ticking and my mind was racing as the clock struck 5:00pm. I had no idea what I was going to make for the salad. I quickly took inventory of the kitchen-what did we have that could feed 27 people? Apples, white cheddar cheese, almonds, spinach and red leaf lettuce. That was it! Now, the dressing...a few months back, I attended a party where the most delicious horseradish dressing was served. (Thanks, Sheral!) I pulled out that recipe and within about 15 minutes, my salad was complete.

Seder Salad

Gala Apples, rinsed, cored and sliced into very thin slices (leave the skin on-less work and more fiber)
Almonds, toasted (put into toaster oven and press "toast")
Aged White Cheddar Cheese, cubed (Kerrygold's Dubliner)
Spinach and/or any mild mixed greens

Note: if not using apples immediately, place in a container with lemon juice and water to avoid browning.

There are no amounts given for the above ingredients. Use your best judgement. If you like more apples, add more. If you like fewer nuts, use fewer nuts. You get the drill.

Horseradish Vinaigrette
1/3 cup white wine vinegar ( I used regular old distilled vinegar)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish ( I used extra spicy, because that's the kind of girl I am)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I did not use)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon (I did not use)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped ( I did not use)
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Whisk together all ingredients. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 4 days.
Makes 1 cup.

I must say that while I love the horseradish dressing, the hit of the salad was the Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese. At least 5 people asked me what kind it was and where they could find it. FYI, it's widely available and can even be found at Costco.

By the way, this exact salad will make an encore at a dinner party this coming Saturday night.

Tell me..... what is your "Go-To Salad"?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Suprising Options at Starbucks

As I was heading to my once in a blue moon satellite office this morning (Starbucks), I realized I had not had breakfast (long story that has to do with a dog, insomnia and a weak stomach...but I digress). Thinking of the options at Starbucks for a morning meal left me a bit concerned, however, it had been awhile since I had truly reviewed the options as I had stopped going to Starbucks over a year ago. Why? I was going broke and drinking waaaaayyyyy to many calories thanks to their Mocha Frappuccinos. Imagine my delight when I happened upon the Power Protein Plate. This option, along with a few other, more healthful options, were launched last year. Check out the contents below.

Power Protein Plate
– A convenient option with simple ingredients, the Power Protein Plate is a hearty combination of a cage-free hard-boiled egg, 100% whole wheat bagel, peanut butter, cheese, and fresh fruit. At 330 calories, this wholesome breakfast or snack has 16 grams of protein (about one-third of your daily needs) and 5 grams of fiber.

Another plus was that it rang in at just over 5 bucks with tax. Not to hard on the wallet in my opinion. While eating breakfast out is not a normal habit, it's comforting to know that my nutritional needs...and my wallet...can be equally satisfied at the never-more-than-a-mile-away neighborhood coffee shop.

Who says eating well has to be expensive?

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Love Your Cheese? It's National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month

I've always been partial to the Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Cafe Brazil in Dallas. The delectable sammie was an infrequent order for me as the Asiago, Cheddar, Monterrey Jack and Feta Cheeses, served on buttery bread was not the ideal -nutritionally NOR lactose-ally. (if you get my drift). I loved it with added avocado and tomato. It was a far cry from the white bread-and-American Cheese product sammies of my childhood back in Peoria, IL.

Apparently, National Grilled Cheese Month (NGCM) is a big deal. In fact, the folks at Dupont, makers of Teflon non-stick coating, sponsored a contest in which 7 winners took home over $40,000 in cash and prizes for their delicious submissions.

Ashley Berman of Coral Springs, FL was the grand prize winner and won $10,000 plus a trip to Sonoma cheese country for her exotic Caribbean Grill Sandwich which used Swiss cheese, mango salsa and curry buttered Italian bread. To see all of the recipes, click here. Think you've got what it takes to be crowned the Best Grilled Cheese Maker? See the website for entry details.

For a healthier version of these sammies, I recommend using the Cabot brand. Their low fat versions are the best in helping slim down this family favorite. In their line, you'll find:
  • 50% reduced fat cheddar
  • 50% reduced fat Omega-3 DHA Cheddar
  • 75% reduced fat Cheddar
  • 50% reduced fat Pepper Jack
  • 50% reduced fat Jalapeno Cheddar
And, these cheeses taste GREAT! I can attest to that as I've tasted them many times and have recommended them more than once. Cabot also has a great website full of nutrition information, recipes, kids stuff and more. Another thing-this company is owned by dairy farmers and their commitment to the community is clear.
Tips for Cooking a Great Grilled Cheese

* Grate the cheese to help it melt without overcooking and burning the

* Butter the bread rather than the pan for evenly crisped and flavorful

* Use a non-stick pan or griddle, so the bread doesn't stick to the
surface and clean up is easier; and

* About halfway through cooking, be sure to press the sandwich firmly with
a spatula, to ensure the bread is golden and toasty and the cheese is
evenly melted.

Tell me, how do you like your Grilled Cheese Sandwich? Make it at home? Have a favorite at a local dining spot? Let me know!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Old McDonald Had a Farm, Not a Drive Through


“In this age of fast and frozen food, we want to teach school children about real food – where it is grown and how it is produced – so that they can develop an understanding and appreciation of how good food is supposed to taste.” - Julia Child, AIWF co-founder

“Old McDonald had a farm, not a drive through.” - Joanne Bondy, Days of Taste Volunteer, Executive Chef, The Gaylord Resort and Convention Center, Grapevine,Texas

Chefs, Foodies, Nutrition Experts, Farmers and Growers—come one, come all!
Be a part of the Coolest Field Trip of All!
It’s Days of Taste Time Again!

Join us as we explore the ABC’s of Taste & Health through the American Institute of Wine and Food Days of Taste Program. Held at the Dallas Farmer’s Market, Days of Taste provides a unique field trip experience for 4th and 5th grade elementary students in Dallas public schools. Through the program, students have the opportunity to explore the nuances of taste through the five senses with a tasting component guided by a chef, a visit with a local farmer to discover the wealth and variety of products grown and that are available locally, and prepare a Harvest salad using fresh produce that the they have purchased themselves at the Dallas Farmer’s Market. Volunteer culinarians and nutritionists share their enthusiasm for fresh ingredients, cooking, and love of food. The program teaches kids the concept of “from farm to table”-one that is difficult for kids to grasp these days.

Our Spring 2009 Dates:

Monday, May 4
Tuesday, May 5
Wednesday, May 6
Thursday, May 7

Monday, May 11
Tuesday, May 12
Wednesday, May 13
Thursday, May 14

Shifts are from 9:00AM-1:00 PM
10/12 volunteers needed per day-bring your friends!
Dallas Farmer’s Market
Free parking
T-shirt, Lunch and Volunteer Instructions are provided

Volunteer responsibilities include:

* Greeting the students and teachers as they arrive at the market
* Overseeing hand washing
* Assisting chefs and growers as needed
* Assisting students with tasting component
* Assisting in the shopping and preparation of the Harvest salad
* Clean up and other duties as assigned

For more information and to sign up, please contact Robin Plotkin at or 214-725-3947. To learn more about AIWF and the Days of Taste Program, please see the Days of Taste link under Programs.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

This Year Symbolism is not Enough at Passover

11 million people out of work
1 million homes lost to foreclosure
Countless families who cannot heat their homes, put food on the table or pay their mortgages
This year, the symbolism of Passover is not enough.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Whole Foods Fool

I have to admit that when I saw this ad today, I really didn't think much about the absurdity of what I was reading. Organic Air at 6.99 a bottle? Too expensive for me.

Featured recipes include deep fried pork eclairs and toast. Pork is a particularly hot ingredient right now and some people do lack the basics of cooking. Feature story on their newest store in Antarctica. Hey, they are expanding. 12 daring recipes for spoiled milk? This did strike me as strange. Upon closer inspection, I realized that this entire thing was a hoax--all in the April Fool's Spirit.

Kudos to Whole Foods... for creating this now nationwide buzz on April Fool's Day and for pulling the wool over my eyes.

Click here for the full ad:

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