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Robinsbite: August 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Giada. No Last Name Necessary.

Typically, I'm not a fan of Giada. I can't exactly pinpoint the reason per se, it's just something about her that rubs me the wrong way. Know what I mean?

Flipping through my TiVo today, I saw that I had taped her show "Everyday Italian" by accident. I decided to watch it to see if I could decipher the "bug" factor.

After listening to her pronounce her Italian pasta shapes with such exaggeration, I have to say I was ready to turn off the show. The smile. The teeth. Until she started on her Pasta Ponza recipe. I turned up the TV and leaned in to listen. She was speaking my language. Fresh, simple, pure ingredients. Easy directions. Quick and easy recipe. I quickly took a mental inventory of my fridge and pantry. Did I have the ingredients needed to make this delicious dish? The short answer? No. Will I have them soon enough? Yes. This dish will be made before the week is out.

Giada, you've changed me. Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine
Recipe below courtesy of Food Network


  • Butter for greasing
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 ounces) Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Rise of the Frozen Yogurt

And now, a word from Lauren Marek about the surge of frozen yogurt shops sweeping the nation. See below for a bio about Ms. Marek.

FRO-YO. It's all the latest craze. These frozen yogurt are popping up left and right, but is it worth all the hype? Is frozen yogurt really a good alternative to ice cream?

These shops are tempting to say the least. With a plethora of toppings and multiple flavor varieties of yogurt, it's hard to believe the nutritional claims that they all hold. Believe it or not, this craze actually IS worth trying! Most frozen yogurt contains only about 20 calories per ounce and are fat free. Top them to your desire with heart healthy fresh fruits for a great fiber and vitamin kick, or top your yogurt with nuts to add protein to help fill you up. Sound too good to be true? Frozen yogurt also contains the same healthy digestive-aiding bacteria as regular yogurt! How does this stack up to ice cream? Ice cream has over twice the calories of frozen yogurt, and many have over 15 grams of fat per cup! So next time you pass a tempting fro-yo store, stop and treat yourself to a great tasting, healthy cup of yogurt!

Lauren Marek is a recent graduate from the University of Oklahoma and has a degree in nutritional sciences. She is now working as a registered dietitian at a large metropolitan hospital in Dallas, TX. Lauren is very passionate about nutrition, and in her free time loves to cook, read about nutrition, and walk on the beautiful Katy Trail. She contacted me earlier this summer and agreed to guest blog on Comment and let her know what you think about her post!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nutrition Expert Mitzi Dulan, RD and Pro Football Player Tony Gonzalez Team Up for the All Pro Diet

Mitzi Dulan, RD knows a thing or two about sports nutrition. As the team dietitian for both the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs, she's been partnering with athletes for years to help them improve their performance-both on and off the field. Finally, her wisdom is condensed into one incredible resource-The All Pro Diet, which she co authored with non other than NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez. With Mitzi's help,
Gonzalez revamped his entire diet, elevated his physical and mental performance and as a result, broke two NFL records-most touchdowns and receptions by any tight end in NFL history—in a single season.

Tony and Mitzi both with tell you that you don't have to be a pro player to benefit from this advice. The All-Pro Diet is an eating plan for anyone who wants to live a longer, healthier life.

Mitzi and Tony's Advice

1. Eat at least one plant based meal per day.
2. Read food labels and look for foods with ingredients that are easy to pronounce with short ingredient lists or single ingredients.
3. Eat whole grains, more fruits vegetables
4. Stop eating when satisfied

The overall approach is to eat more of a whole foods diet.

Pretty good advice from the good dietitian and the all pro athlete!

Available on

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Admit it-I get Excited by Spinach

I admit it. I get excited by the big produce deals where-let's just say LARGE containers of spinach, mixed greens and the like that are offered at deep discounted prices. Let's talk specifically about SPINACH.

I often buy those containers with the very best intentions, but as the only spinach eater in the house, I'm left to my own devices to consume said spinach. Often times, it's quite a challenge and sadly, some of it does go by the, ahem, wayside. (I can't stand to waste food or money, so this obviously KILLS me).

In an effort to consume more of this nutritional powerhouse (Vitamin A, C, K, Folate, manganese, magnesium, HIGH in antioxidants and LOW in calories), I've truly been hard core about getting into my daily consumption.

Here are the top 8 ways I've incorporated my beloved spinach this week

1. Salad greens for basic salad (let's not overlook the obvious)
2. Mock Cobb Salad
3. Added to scrambled eggs and omelets
4. Added to homemade marinara sauce (used homegrown summer tomatoes and froze)
5. Topping for pizza, along with chicken and basil sausage and onions
6. Sauteed with onions and mushroom (can eat as is or use as the pizza topping in #5)
7. Used in place of lettuce for sandwich/wrap filling
8. Sauteed corn, squash and spinach "casserole"

You can easily see that this are all low effort, high return menu items. That's how I roll these days. If it takes too much effort in this heat and in my state, its not going to happen. Tell me, how do you incorporate spinach into your day? I'd love to hear your ideas....

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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Best Burger in Texas at the Grape in Dallas

Recently, Texas Monthly came out with their Best Burger edition. Surprising to many was their #1 pick-The Grape Restaurant in Dallas.

The Grape, as their website states, is "recognized as one of the most celebrated neighborhood eateries in Dallas for over 35 years... is like stepping into a small European village. The monthly changing blackboard menu offerings, which have proven to be one of the elements of success, feature signature bistro fare as well as eclectic and contemporary creations." Who woulda thought The Grape would grab this huge accomplishment? The said burger was only available at Sunday brunch for geez sake!

When named the best burger in Texas, I receied an email from Chef/Owner Brian Luscher
that said "I am amazed, astounded, a little embarassed, honored, and proud! " Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy and his wife, Grape GM Courtney Luscher. I love seeing a family owned and operated establishment garner accolades that are so deserved.

Tonight, I had a taste of the now infamous burger. Courtney says they are selling around 250 at Sunday brunch, Sunday dinner and Monday nights now. Before the article, they sold a dozen a week. Nearly every diner in the place had a burger on the table...or the handmade charcuterie platter. I have to say it was, in a word, delicious. Hand ground meat, homemade peppered bacon, perfectly seasoned pickles, a buttery toasted pain au lait was perfect. I could see the juices running down the hands and forearms of my diner companion...and she didn't budge to wipe it off. When I say that the picture at right doesn't do it justice, I mean it.

I can highly, highly recommend this burger. And I can highly, highly recommend the Grape and as well as the Luschers. The next time you are in Dallas, be sure to stop by....if it's a Sunday or a Monday that is!

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Julie, Julia & Robin

Thanks to the good folks at Whole Food Market, I'll be attending a Tastemaker's Screening of THE movie of the year, Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I've heard my fair share of reviews and comments about the movie and feel confident that this will become one for the history books in terms of culinary cinematography at its finest.

To see a recent story on Nightlight that will likely bring tears to you eyes, go here

To read Julie Powell's blog, go here. FY I, Julie Powell is THE Julie for whom the movie is based upon-along with THE Julia Child, of course!

Extensive recap to follow after the screening.... in the meantime:

1. Have you seen the movie yet? What are your thoughts?

2. What are your favorite food related movies?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Got Tomato? Got Dinner...15 Minute Gazpacho

Take a look at the items on the right. Do you have them in your kitchen right now? If so, you have the makings of a great gazpacho!

I love all things tomato and gazpacho is one of my favorites. Since we are high into the tomato season, this recipe is one that takes minutes to make, freezes well and is full of nutrition and wholesome goodness! There are many variations of a classic gazpacho--this one is a good basic recipe that can be built upon for more complex flavors if you'd like.

Here we go:

1-2 T Olive Oil
4 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 large cucumbers, cut into chunks
1/2 large Red Onion, cut into chunks
3-4 Garlic cloves
1/4 cup Horseradish I love it spicy and hot!
2-3 T Red wine vinegar
32 ounces Low Sodium V-8 Juice
1 cup Cilantro (optional)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Greek style yogurt as garnish

In a stock pot, place tomatoes, cucumber, onion and V-8 juice. Using a hand blender, blend until mixture is smooth. Once smooth, add olive oil, horseradish, red wine vinegar, cilantro, salt and pepper. Blend again until thoroughly incorporated. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Chill and serve with a dollop of greek style yogurt-Fage is a great brand. Garnish with cilantro leaves if desired.

**Feel free to add cooked shrimp to the bowl for protein!

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