Monday, January 28, 2013

Super Bowl Column Made Me Crabby

Crab cakes for the Super Bowl. Photo by Valerie Phillips
Both the teams playing in this week's Super Bowl come from cities that are famous for crab. So in my Standard-Examiner column I suggested it would be appropriate to honor either the San Francisco 49-ers or the Baltimore Ravens with crab cakes, or the Golden Corn & Crab Chowder from my cookbook. 

In San Francisco, it's Dungeness crab, and in Baltimore, it's blue crab. Here in landlocked Utah, both are harder to find than Alaskan snow crab legs (popular at Sizzler, Red Lobster, and other chain restaurants). 

Dungeness crab was named after a fishing village in Washington state, and it’s found along the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska. Blue crab, found on the East Coast including Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, gets its name from its blue claws and oval, dark-blue-green shell. Both have smaller, less meaty legs than king or snow crab.  

While researching my column, I was able to find cooked, fresh Dungeness crab at Harmon's grocery store in Farmington. The only blue crab I could find in any grocery stores was the canned and packaged varieties, caught in places like Indonesia, Thailand, India and the Philippines.  That's pretty far from Maryland. 

I looked at the ingredients list of some ready-made crab cakes in the frozen foods aisle, and found that Great American Seafood brand's "restaurant quality crab cakes." The list starts with "imitation crabmeat" such as pollock, cod and/or whiting, and are seasoned with "artificial and natural crab flavors. Way down on the list (after celery) there's some actual crab meat. So there's more celery in the crab cakes than actual crab. There must be some loophole in the laws that allow companies to call a product something it's not.  You have to read the fine print to find out the truth. 

But I guess it's the thought that counts, not whether it's completely authentic Baltimore or San Francisco crab. But if you're paying out real crab prices and getting "krab" or "imitation whatever," there's a reason to feel pretty crabby about it.

As you might have guessed, I'm a crab fan.  A few years ago, I went to "Crab College," in conjunction with the Crab Festival taking place through February at the Market Street restaurants and fish markets.
I even received a diploma, a Certificate of Crabulation, that states that I'm now a scholar in "Arthropoda/Crustacea/Malacostraca/Decapoda/Pleocyemata/Brachyrua." It sounds like something the Wizard of Oz would bestow; but hey, I really did learn about the different types of REAL crab, and why it's so expensive. Crab fishing along the Northwest and Alaskan coasts is extremely dangerous. Fishermen get battered by freezing rain and icy waves.  It even makes this Utah's crazy snow, sleet and freezing temperatures seem tame by comparison. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Super Bowl Munchies: What It Takes To Burn All Those Calories

Crab cakes — great if you're cheering for either Baltimore or San Francisco!
Super Bowl Sunday the second biggest day for food consumption in the United States, after Thanksgiving. You can pack on as many calories as an NFL linebacker (and unlike that linebacker, you're not burning it off during practices).  

I am not a huge NFL fan. But since I have family members who are, I usually provide some football-themed foods.  I also happen to think think that the Sabbath should be a day of rest; so I'm content with throwing a bunch of frozen appetizers like jalapeno poppers or chicken wings in the oven, or making my super-easy Quick Tailgate Chili. To me, the Super Bowl shouldn't require a lot of fancy, fussy cooking. In my column next week for the Standard-Examiner, I suggest making crab cakes or my Golden Corn & Crab Chowder, since both Baltimore and San Francisco are known for crab.

I love this press release from Charles Platkin, PhD, MPH, public health advocate, editor of and professor at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. Here's how much exercise you would have to do to burn off the calories in typical Super Bowl feasts:

HANDFUL OF PITA CHIPS, EACH WITH ARTICHOKE DIP = RUNNING 141 FOOTBALL FIELDS. Each chip is 13 calories, plus just 1 tablespoon, probably just about a chips worth, of dip is 80 calories. 

Diet Pro: Make your own 100 percent whole-wheat pita chips, and use salsa instead of the artichoke dip. There are many different kinds of salsa. They’re good, and they’re only 15 calories per tablespoon. 

TOUCHDOWN DANCES IN THE END ZONE. While the stuffed cheese bread is probably very tasty, with all that fat it’s also a calorie killer at 160 calories per piece, or 640 calories for four. 

Diet Pro: You can toast 100 percent whole-wheat pita bread with butter spray and Parmesan cheese. 
TWO (2) SLICES OF DOMINOS BACON CHEESEBURGER FEAST HAND-TOSSED SPECIALTY PIZZA (16 inches) = 209 MINUTES PERFORMING IN A MARCHING BAND. Pizza AND a cheeseburger what will they think of next? Each slice is 490 calories. 

Diet Pro: Try thin-crust pizza, and if you really want to be super healthy, how about getting pizza without the cheese just add your own Parmesan. 
HALF (1/2) OF A WHITE CASTLE CRAVE CASE WITH CHEESE = FACE PAINTING 111 WILD FANS. These are sliders with cheese. Each slider is 170 calories. That’s 2,550 calories for 15, but they’re not very large, and there are 30 in a case. 

Diet Pro: How about having just one or two? Make your own burgers white meat turkey burgers if you really want to be super healthy, or at the very least very lean ground meat. 
THREE (3) SIERRA NEVADA BIGFOOT BEERS = 211 MINUTES OF COACHING FOOTBALL. There are some high-calorie beers out there, and this is one of the highest. 

Diet Pro: Unless you love Sierra Nevada and realize the calories, your best bet is a regular beer OR, even better, one of those micro-light beers. The best would be Beck's Premier Light at only 64 calories per 12-ounce bottle or MGD Light, also 64 calories. Michelob Ultra and Natural Light have 95, or you can go very low with Budweiser Select for 55. Sample a few light beers before the game to see which ones you prefer.
ONE (1) SLOPPY JOE = 59 MINUTES OF CLIMBING THE STADIUM STAIRS. This is a Tex-Mex creation that includes fatty ground beef, sugar, ketchup and even flour. Sloppy Joes have more than 500 calories with the bun (about 150 calories). 

Diet Pro: Use lean ground beef and try a low-calorie sauce (without sugar). It will still taste great. Also, add veggies (onions, peppers, broccoli all chopped up) to the meat to lower overall calories and increase health benefits. 
SIX (6) TRADITIONAL HAND-SPUN BUFFALO WILD WINGS DIPPED IN RANCH DRESSING = DOING "THE WAVE" 6,480 TIMES. Stand up, wave your hand and be counted 6,480 times. Six wings from Buffalo Wild Wings have 990 calories. Then add about two servings of ranch dressing at 170 calories each for a total of 340 calories. That’s 1,330 calories if you have only a small dip of dressing per wing. 

Diet Pro: You can certainly make your own chicken wings. Go skinless and bake instead of deep frying them.
TWO (2) HANDFULS OF CHEETOS JUMBO PUFFS = 30 MINUTES OF PLAYING PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL. The only problem is that, according to The Wall Street Journal, there are only about 11 minutes of actual ball playing in a football game. That means you need to play almost three games of professional football to burn off two handfuls of Cheetos. Keep in mind, that’s 320 calories for about 2 ounces yes, only 2 ounces. 

Diet Pro: How about making your own popcorn? Sprinkle it with Parmesan cheese and spray it with butter spray. 
ONE (1) HANDFUL OF TRAIL MIX = 49 TOUCHDOWN DANCES IN THE END ZONE. Keep in mind, nuts and chocolate have about 160 calories per ounce, which is not bad if you don’t take five handfuls before you’ve even noticed. 
Diet Pro: Try having ONLY nuts. Nuts are healthy, but they’re very high in calories, so don’t keep a huge bowl in front of you. And try to eat them one at a time meaning don’t shove an entire handful into your mouth all at once.
BUBBA GUMP JAMBALAYA = 375 MINUTES OF PREPARING, COOKING, SERVING AND CLEANING UP AFTER THE SUPER BOWL PARTY.  That’s more than six hours of cooking, preparing and cleaning. Yes, Bubba Gump is a chain, and the Jambalaya has 1,100 calories.  Jambalaya is typically made with chicken, shrimp and andouille sausage sauté with peppers, onions, rice and spicy sauce. 

Diet Pro: Make a healthy jambalaya with boneless chicken breast and brown rice. Thats the way to go. 
OUTBACK BABY BACK RIBS, FULL ORDER = 123 MINUTES OF TEAM PRACTICE AND CONDITIONING. Ribs are fatty, and the sauce is sugary. For the record, Outback Baby Back ribs are 1,156 calories. 

Diet Pro: Try making them yourself, and trim all visible fat before and after cooking. Also, instead of coating your ribs with an excessive amount of sauce beforehand, partially cook them loaded with seasonings, brush them lightly with the sauce, and then finish cooking.
FOUR (4) BACON-WRAPPED SMOKIES = 156 MINUTES BEING THE TEAM MASCOT. Little sausages wrapped in bacon popping just four of those in your mouth will cost you 156 minutes of jumping around and acting a bit foolish (the good news is you’ll be wearing a costume). The bacon alone, (without the sausage and brown sugar) is more than 80 calories, for a total of more than 160 calories per appetizer. Four of them go down easy for 640 calories. 

Diet Pro: If you need to eat some type of bacon-wrapped hors doeuvres, go with Applegate Farms Organic Hickory Smoked Uncured Turkey Bacon. Its only 35 calories per slice. Hebrew National Beef Franks in a Blanket are 60 calories each. 
THREE (3) PEPSIS = 57 MINUTES OF DANCING TO BEYONCE DURING THE SUPER BOWL HALFTIME PERFORMANCE. Each 12-ounce can is 100 calories. So to burn off just three Pepsis you need to dance for more than an hour to Beyoncé songs. In fact, it will take much longer than the halftime. Have you heard her music? Have you danced for an hour straight? 

Diet Pro: Water, flavored seltzer, unsweetened ice tea there are so many low- or no-calorie drinks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Biggest Loser: Jackson Steps Up

So for first few weeks of this season's "The Biggest Loser," Utah contestant Jackson Carter only had modest weight loss. In fact, he was in danger of going home last week when his team lost the weight-in, especially because workouts made him vomit, and he was medically unable to contribute in team challenges.

But, as some of his teammates put it,  "Action Jackson showed up this week." With the trainers gone working with the teenage contestants most of the week, it was up to the teams to run their own workouts, and Jackson stepped up as a leader.  He also finished the 10K challenge, and saw a big drop on the scale of 12 pounds.  Perhaps his body is finally getting in synch and letting go of the weight.  Trainer Dolvett praised him for going above and beyond expectations.

Dolvett didn't have similar praise for Jackson's teammate Joe, who seemed to have a hard time sticking to the workouts and ended up losing just 7 pounds.

During the last chance workout, Jillian badgered Jeff from the blue team, accusing him of "phoning it in" with his workouts.  Jeff didn't deal well with her in-your-face treatment, and gave it right back to her, which will probably mean she'll make his life miserable until he ends up getting sent home.

Bob, who has seen his share of Jillian tantrums over the years, even seemed stymied by her meltdown.  Jeff ended up only losing 6 pounds, so maybe she had reason to be concerned. But her tactics were over the top.

"The negative reinforcement thing, it doesn't work for me," Jeff said. Hmmm. Maybe Jillian should take a look around her and see if it's working for anyone else. Because four of her five team members are gone.  When Dani won the 5K, she praised Jillian for pushing her. But there's a line between pushing and shoving.

In fact, if the show really wants to stop the bullying of overweight people, it should start with its trainer.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Win A Super Bowl Bash From Cuisine Unlimited

Slated for February 3 in New Orleans, the Super Bowl XLVII competition between teams will prove to be epic when they battle it out for the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy. Host quarterbacks can score a touchdown with a Super Bowl Bash delivered by Cuisine Unlimited. Instead of the usual potluck routine and its inherent bother for guests, Cuisine can bring the goods to the end zone for the most discriminating fans. People can also enter to win a free Super Bowl Bash for 10 friends by 'LIKING' Cuisine Unlimited on Facebook. One winner will be selected Jan. 30.
"You'll be named the most valuable party of the season, with our fun and delicious offerings," said Turner. "Here's the strategy: call Cuisine Unlimited at 801-268-2332 or go online to to place your order. Leave the rest of the play to us to deliver fabulous food, fun team décor and a day filled with a great time."
Cuisine Unlimited's Super Bowl Bash is available for $24.95 per person (or $27.99 if the order is for less than 10 people). It is served on disposable/recyclable trays and bowls. The feast can be picked up from the Cuisine catering kitchens at noon on Super Bowl Sunday. Delivery, beverage service, set up and rental of themed decor (including helmets, jerseys, goal posts) is available additionally. Order deadline is Friday, Feb. 1 at noon.
  • White Bean and Chicken Chili
  • Hero Sandwiches
  • Honey Dijon Glazed Chicken Wings
  • Roasted Potato Salad
  • Vegetable Platter with Roasted Pepper Hummus and Spinach Dip
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Jalapeno Corn Bread Muffins with Honey Butter
  • Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
  • Brownie Blondies
About Cuisine Unlimited
Cuisine Unlimited, Inc., founded by Maxine and Marvin Turner in 1985, specializes in gourmet, off-premise catering.  Ranked Caterer of the Year by Event Solutions, Cuisine Unlimited, Inc. has been recognized by Utah Business Magazine as Utah’s Top Corporate Caterer for the past eight years. Their sons, Aaron and Jeff Turner joined Cuisine Unlimited in 2003 and today run the daily operation of the company. Most recently, Maxine, Marvin, their executive and sous chef catered at the Republican National Convention for CBS and the Official Proceedings.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Revamped Pillsbury Bake-Off Still Offering $1 Million Prize

The last Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, 2012.
  Put on your best apron and compete to win $1 million in dough! The redesigned 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest is now open for entries at The deadlines are looming,  so you don't have much time left.
  Last year, the Bake-Off was held in Orlando, with the grand prize awarded on The Martha Stewart Show. For many years, the Bake-off is held once every two years, in the spring. And, it's often in Orlando. So I was surprised to hear that the there was one taking place this November.
  That's not the only change. For the first time in its 64-year history,  America will vote from among entries selected by the Bake-Off® Kitchens to determine all 100 recipes to vie for the grand prize. Those 100 finalists will compete at the Bake-Off® Contest finals, November 10-12, 2013, at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. 
  To give creative home cooks more chances to enter, the Bake-Off® Contest now features three recipe categories with separate entry periods. To encourage simpler, original recipes, submissions must include no more than seven ingredients, not including table salt, ground black pepper and water, and take 30 minutes or less to prepare, not including baking or cooling time.  
  To be honest, I don't know how the Bake-off could come up with more simpler recipes that would still be original and unique enough to win $1 million. If you only have seven ingredients and at least two of them are a sponsor product, it's pretty hard to still be original. Maybe that's where the challenge lies.  
  “We’re excited to roll out changes to the ever-classic Pillsbury Bake-Off® Contest,” said Jann Atkins, Bake-Off® Kitchens Manager in a press release. 
  “We know consumers crave recipes that are delicious, yet easy to make, so adding an ingredient limit allows us to provide inspiration for even the busiest families and novice cooks. And with voters selecting all 100 finalists, we hope to rally excitement and friendly competition across the country as people choose their favorites.” 
  Other sponsors of the 46tth Bake-Off® Contest are The J.M. Smucker Company, GE Appliances and Green Giant. 
Consumers can submit recipes during each of the three entry periods. Judges will select 60 recipes from each category for public voting at During the three voting periods, consumers who are 18 years of age or older as of March 14, 2013, can select their favorites in these categories: 

Amazing Doable Dinners: Your family loves them, and you love to prepare them. These simple main dishes are true weeknight wows. Examples: pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, foldovers, casseroles, chilis, savory pies. This category is open now. Entry period runs from January 3 (Noon CST) to February 7 (11:59 a.m. CST), 2013. Voting is open from March 14 (Noon CST) to March 28 (11:59 a.m. CST), 2013. 

Simple Sweets and Starters: These sweet treats and appetizers are the hit of any party. And even better, they’re a breeze to prepare, making entertaining easier than ever. Examples: cookies, bars, pies, tarts, bite-size appetizers, tartlets, pinwheels, puffs, bruschetta or focaccia. Entry period runs from April 4 (Noon CST) to May 9 (11:59 a.m. CST), 2013. Voting is open from June 13 (Noon CST) to June 27 (11:59 a.m. CST), 2013. 

Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts: These are the recipes that make mornings rock. Whether you’re hosting a casual brunch, fixing breakfast for the family or enjoying a lazy weekend morning, these dishes are the ones you turn to first. Examples: sweet rolls, pull-aparts, pastries, breakfast breads, egg dishes, breakfast sandwiches. Entry period runs from July 4 (Noon CST) to August 8, 2013 (11:59 a.m. CST). Voting is open from September 12 (Noon CST) to September 26 (11:59 a.m. CST), 2013. 

Voters will determine 33 finalists each from the Amazing Doable Dinners and Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts categories and 34 finalists from the Simple Sweets and Starters category. These 100 recipes will advance to the Bake-Off® Contest event in Las Vegas, where final judging will be conducted by a panel of food experts. 

I've covered every Bake-off since 1998, and it's quite an event. Even those contestants who don't win go home glad that they were able to be a part of the competition. They meet a huge variety of people — TV hosts like Martha Stewart or Sandra Lee, other contestants, and yes, even some of us journalists who cover it. I'll admit I'm always rooting for the Utah contestants, and there have been many over the years. In fact, Janet Barton, Erin Mylroie and Gloria Rendon have each gotten to the Bake-Off twice. There's a "three-strikes" rule that after three Bake-Offs, you're done. 

Eligible Products 
Each Bake-Off® Contest entry must include at least two different eligible ingredients from the lists below, with at least one ingredient from List A and one from List A or List B. Lists are available at and may change from category to category: 

Primary List (List A) 
Pillsbury® Grands!® Refrigerated Biscuits 
Pillsbury® Grands® Jr. Refrigerated Biscuits 
Pillsbury® Grands!® or Refrigerated Cinnamon Rolls with Icing 
Pillsbury® Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls 
Pillsbury® Refrigerated Classic or Thin Pizza Crust 
Pillsbury® Refrigerated Bread Sticks 
Pillsbury® Refrigerated Crusty French Loaf 
Pillsbury® Refrigerated Pie Crust 

Pillsbury® Refrigerated Cookie Dough 
Pillsbury® Frosting 
Pillsbury BEST® Flour 

Secondary List (List B) 
Green Giant Vegetables 
Jif® Peanut Butter 
Smucker’s® Jams, Jellies, Preserves or Fruit Spreads 
Crisco® Cooking Oil and Crisco® Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening 
Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ogden's 25th Street Raising Its Sundance Profile

Alex Montanez hopes to attract Sundance film goers to Ogden's 25th Street.   
   Park City usually steals most of the thunder during Sundance Film Festival, and some people may not even realize that Ogden's Peery Egyptian Theater is one of the festival's film venues.
   But some Ogden business  owners hope to change that, including Alex Montanez. He's the owner of Rovali's Ristorante, and chairman of the Historic 25th Street Asssociation.
   Interestingly enough, Montanez told me he grew up hating 25th Street.
   Last week I interviewed Montanez for my column in today's Standard-Examiner.
He told me his dad worked for the railroad, and spent a lot of his time on 25th Street back in the day when it was known for seedy hotels, bars and other vices. "At nights, I would go from bar to bar looking for him," he recalled.
   But now, he's become one of the street's biggest cheerleaders, as chairman of the Historic 25th Street Association.  He and his family first opened their restaurant in a Layton strip mall near a Wal-Mart. But they found that 25th Street was a better location.
  Of course, 25th Street has changed a lot from its heyday, when Union Station was a major railroad junction. Known as "Two-Bit Street " due to rampant prostitution, it was also home to bars, gambling, and narcotics. During Prohibition, from 1920-1933, a number of "speakeasies" sold illegal alcohol. In 1999, I interviewed Chris Pappas, whose grandfather George Pappas owned what was known as The Club and the Roosevelt Hotel. He showed me a small buzzer that was still under a windowof The Club. When the "Feds" were coming, someone would hit the buzzer to alert everyone to stash the booze downstairs. The basements in the buildings were all connected with hidden doors, and the alcohol could be shuffled from one place to the next. Chris also took me downstairs to see those old basement and doors.  
  But that was then. In the '80s, a renaissance began. While still retaining the historic flavor, 25th Street has cleaned up its act, attracting art galleries, shops and locally owned eateries such as Rooster's, Union Grill, Rovali's, Jasoh, La Ferrovia, Karen's Cafe, Great Harvest Bread, Bistro 258, Brewskis, MacCool's Public House, Tona Sushi Bar, Lighthouse Sports Bar, Two Bit Street Cafe, and Lucky Slice Pizza.     As someone who has braved blizzard conditions driving Parley's Canyon to cover Sundance events in Park City, I can tell you it's a lot less hazardous driving to Ogden on I-15. And if you take the FrontRunner rail, you can get off at Union Station and walk a few blocks to the theater.  You probably won't have the excitement of catching a glimpse of Paris Hilton or Brittney Spears, but you also won't have the crowds to deal with as you do in Park City.
Chef Rogelio Nevarez of Rovali's shows off the Tour of Rovali's, a trio of lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, and cheese ravioli, as a Sundance "dinner and a movie" option. credit: Valerie Phillips
  The Historic 25th Street Association is hoping you will make it "dinner and a movie," by stopping at one of the restaurants. Some of them (including Rovali's) are offering 15 percent off your total bill if you show your Sundance tickets.
    I think it's a good idea for the restaurants to also offer grab-and-go items, so people who don't have time to sit down to a full meal can still get something to eat and make it on time to their film. Montanez told me Rovali's is going to do this with an  "express" station to sell pizza by the slice and calzones.

   I'd also like to see some restaurants serving a nightly "Sundance" entree with a guarantee that if you order it, you can be served and on your way within 45 minutes or an hour.    Sometimes people are wary about trying out an unfamiliar restaurant if they're not sure how long it will take.  My husband and I learned the hard way when we had Utah Symphony tickets and tried out a new restaurant. We ended up missing the first half of the program (although I don't think my husband minded too much!).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cheesy Veggie Chowder For A Snow Day

Cheesy Veggie Chowder from "Soup's On!" by Valerie Phillips
We're suffering from Post Traumatic Snow Disorder today. I'm guessing we got about 15 inches of snow since yesterday afternoon, and it's still coming down!

The schools and county declared a "snow day," meaning no school and no offices open. I know it's also a soup day.
I searched the freezer and found I had most of the ingredients for the Cheesy Veggie Chowder recipe from my cookbook, "Soup's On!" But whatever I didn't have, too bad. I wasn't going to the grocery store. That's the beauty of this soup, and many others, is that you can swap out ingredients depending on what you have on hand.  Instead of carrots, I used a can of corn. Instead of Velveeta, I used 8 ounces of lite cream cheese and more broth. Instead of cooking it on the stovetop, which only takes 30 minutes, I decided to simmer it in my slow cooker for about three hours, then added the broccoli and peas during 15 minutes before serving so they didn't lose their bright green color. 

 Here's the original recipe:
                   CHEESY VEGGIE CHOWDER
                   Prep time: 30 minutes
                   Makes about 6 1 ½-C. servings
         No peeling or chopping required for this fast chowder! Feel free to experiment with adding other favorite vegetables. Add the peas near the end of cooking time so they keep their bright color.
         2 cans chicken broth (or 4 bouillon cubes plus 3 3/4 C. water)
         1 28-oz. package frozen Southern-style hash browns O’Brien
         2 Tbsp. dried chopped onions
         1 ½ C. frozen diced carrots (or about 1 C. fresh sliced carrots) - 
         1 lb. Velveeta processed cheese
         1 C. milk
         1 12-oz. package frozen chopped broccoli
         1 C. frozen peas
         Salt and pepper, to taste
                   1. Pour broth in a large (4-quart) pot over high heat. Add hash browns, onions and carrots; cover and allow the broth to come to a gentle boil.
                   2. Cook 10 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are almost tender.
                   3. While vegetables are cooking, cut Velveeta cheese into large slices or chunks.
                   4. Lower the heat to medium and stir in Velveeta, milk, and broccoli. Simmer another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is tender and Velveeta is melted. 
                   5. Stir in peas. Taste and add salt or pepper as desired. Allow the soup to stand, off the heat, for about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with shredded cheese, bacon or parsley.
         Options: If you have time, you can add chopped vegetables such as celery or cauliflower during the cooking process.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shabu Launches A Gluten-Free Menu

Shabu, a locally owned Asian fusion restaurant in Park City, has formally announced its new winter gluten-free menu.  
Already well known for sushi, Shabu Shabu hot pots, and creative sake-tinis, chef Bob Valaika sought to create a full range of gluten-free items. 
 “We wanted every item on our gluten-free menu to be so fantastic and unique that anyone — not just gluten-free diners — would want to order from it,” explained Valaika. 
So he crafted a variety of innovative small plates, large plates and sides.

The chef recommends his Miso-Glazed Black Cod with buckwheat egg foo yong, Samurai Scallops, and Chilled Thai Melon Soup. 
The full gluten-free menu can be seen online at

Shabu is located at 442 Main Street in Park City. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

"Biggest Loser" Contestant Passes Out During First Workout

Jackson Carter of  "The BIggest Loser"
In the premiere episode of "The Biggest Loser" Season 14, Utah contestant Jackson Carter  passed out just a few minutes into his very first workout. The 21-year-old, 328-pound Layton resident was carried off the treadmill by a BL employee, and was mumbling incoherently before getting an oxygen mask.
I wouldn't call him a wimp, as several other contestants were kicked out of the gym by Jillian Michaels because they were unable to meet with her expectations, which seemed to be way unrealistic for severely overweight, out of shape people.

Yep, Jillian is back, and she now has two kids of her own. But motherhood has not made her a kinder, gentler trainer. Before the week was up, one of her team members left the ranch for good, and from what we saw, Jillian's belligerent badgering had a lot to do with it.

Jackson Carter's bio states that he's the first openly gay contestant on the show, and that he experienced bullying as a teen for being gay and for his weight. Bullying? You ain't seen nothing yet, with Jillian yelling and swearing and saying some pretty cruel things, until most of her team broke down in tears. It's a good thing that Jackson's primary trainer is Dolvett, who seems much more even-tempered.  Later during the week, Carter was shown throwing up during workouts, but then getting back to work, under Dolvett's approving gaze. It paid off, as he lost 22 pounds during the first weigh-in.

"I'd sure hate to be one of her kids," was my first thought as I saw typical Jillian-esque moments. But then, when she was working out with the three adolescents who are on the show this season, she suddenly seemed less tough and gruff, and more gracious with them.  She said she is taking a different approach with the kids. I wondered why  — aren't both groups people with feelings? Don't they both respond to positive reinforcement?

A lot of people admire Jillian's toughness. And yes, this is a show so there's supposed to be a lot of drama. But the injuries of past contestants are proof that the trainer isn't always right. People have gone home with torn calf muscles, hip fractures, plantar fascitis, etc. which means a long recovery time.  Isn't it better to build up strength and endurance a little more gradually so that you can keep working out over the long haul? But, then you don't get the dramatic drops of 15-20 pounds a week, and I guess that's what makes this show interesting.

But Jillian's tactics backfired when she badgered one of the players during a workout and kept telling her she should go home. The woman did, which left Jillian just four team members. When they ended up losing the weight-in, one of the bigger guys, TC, ended up being sent home because he had the lowest weight percentage lost. So now she only has three people to boss and bully! Lucky them.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Utah Chef Viet Pham Beats Bobby Flay in "Iron Chef"

Viet Pham celebrates his "Iron Chef" victory at Naked Fish Bistro.
Beef fat ice cream ... who knew?

Chef Viet Pham was having a great time chatting and joking with over 100 friends, family, and foodies  at his "Iron Chef"-watching party at the Naked Fish Bistro in Salt Lake City.

The cheers were nearly deafening when Pham was declared the winner in the cook-off against Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
(Here's an update on Viet Pham's upcoming June 2013 gig, The Next Food Network Star). 

Valerie Phillips and Viet Pham at  "Iron Chef" party.
Using ground meat as the secret ingredient, Pham and sous chef Bowman Brown came up with some creative dishes such as soft-scrambled egg with sausage, served inside an egg shell; lamb sausage, beef borscht, halibut soaked in hamburger-infused whey,  and beef fat ice cream with cherries.
OK, I'll admit, with all the excitement in the crowd, I couldn't hear the program that to get the exacting details on all the dishes. Adding to the melee were several young kids who spent the whole time screaming at the top of their lungs while chasing each other around the room, and stabbing each other with chop sticks. Their parents were apparently too engrossed in watching the show to try to control them.
Simon Majumdar praised Pham's creations for "depth of flavor," although he criticized the chewy beef in one of the dish.  Flay fell behind early, since his first dish was deemed too salty.
The total score was Viet Pham, 80 versus Bobby Flay, 73.
"Our strategy was not to deviate from who we are as chefs," Viet said.
The camera showed his parents in the Kitchen Stadium audience. In an earlier interview, Viet told me he used to watch the original Japanese "Iron Chef" with his parents when he was a kid, so it was especially cool to have his mom and dad there to share his big moment.

Before the episode aired, I joked with Viet about divulging the winner ahead of time. "I've always said that it's not necessarily whether you win or not, but the people you meet along the way," he said cryptically.

The party included a number of prominent chefs who were there to cheer on one of their own. One guest commented, "If a bomb was dropped here tonight, there wouldn't be any chefs left in Salt Lake City!"

Friday, January 4, 2013

Grocery Store Prices Going Down?

Shoppers paid a bit less for food at the grocery store during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data from the American Farm Bureau. Some of the foods that declined in price included russet potatoes, bagged salad and apples. However, overall prices were still about three percent more than this time last year.

The American Farm Bureau Federation Quarterly Marketbasket Survey tracks the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals. It was $50.54, down $1.36 or about 3 percent compared to the third quarter of 2012. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price compared to the prior quarter. 
“While prices were down from the third quarter, compared to a year ago, the marketbasket price was actually higher compared to a year ago, by about 3 percent,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. “Throughout 2012, food prices were relatively stable, thanks to very slow but steady growth in the general economy coupled with fairly stable energy prices. For this year, we expect food prices to rise by 3 to 4 percent, which is slightly higher than the average rate of inflation over the past 10 years.” 
Items showing retail price decreases for the third quarter included Russet potatoes, down 39 cents to $2.62 for a 5-pound bag; bagged salad, down 35 cents to $2.59 per pound; deli ham, down 31 cents to $4.89 per pound; apples, down 26 cents to $1.60 per pound; sirloin tip roast, down 22 cents to $4.52 per pound; flour, down 20 cents to $2.37 for a 5-pound bag; chicken breasts, down 7 cents to $3.10 per pound; vegetable oil down 5 cents to $2.86 for a 32-ounce bottle; eggs, down 4 cents to $1.90 per dozen; and bacon, down 2 cents to $4.21 per pound. 
These items showed modest retail price increases for the quarter: whole milk, up 18 cents to $3.73 per gallon; orange juice, up 11 cents to $3.41 per half-gallon; white bread, up 10 cents to $1.85 for a 20-ounce loaf; ground chuck, up 8 cents to $3.55 per pound; shredded cheddar cheese, up 5 cents to $4.31 per pound; and toasted oat cereal, up 3 cents to $3.03 for a 9-ounce box. 
Interesting that as retail prices have increased over time, the share of the average food dollar going to America’s farm and ranch families has dropped. 
“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said. 

Details about USDA’s new Food Dollar Series may be found online at 

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this quarter’s $50.54 marketbasket would be $8.09. 
AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, has been conducting the informal quarterly marketbasket survey of retail food price trends since 1989. The mix of foods in the marketbasket was updated in 2008. 
According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 107 shoppers in 31 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in October.