Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream...

...for Ice Cream!

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a bowl or cone full of a sweet, frozen treat (well, I like it in the middle of the winter too!).

Roanoke offers ice-cream-lovers numerous choices, each with its own specialties:
  • The Homestead Creamery Ice Cream truck, which comes from a local dairy, pulled up in front of where I'm interning downtown to treat employees yesterday afternoon. Their ice cream is also served at Pop's on Memorial, around the corner from the Grandin Theater.
  • Bruster's, a relatively newcomer to the area, makes its ice cream each morning. A waffle cone is huge - basically a double scoop. One of their promotions occurs every Thursday - bring your own banana and get half-off a banana split! My friend and I went there a few weeks ago, and never having had a real banana split, enjoyed every bite together. (Except my friend needs to work on her banana-cutting technique!!)
  • When I was little, I always hoped to get free ice cream at Katie's Ice Cream and Chocolates, located on 419 (its Towers location closed earlier this year). They have typical ice cream, but also soft serve frozen yogurt, which I love swirled with chocolate and vanilla.
  • Maggie Moo's offers rich ice cream with customized mix-ins. The flavors are endless - cheesecake with fresh strawberries, coffee with peanut butter cups, "better batter" with gummi bears, or chocolate with brownies. Everything is good - but it's so heavy that the kids size is the perfect amount (and a better price).
And I can't forget Harrisonburg:
  • Chocolate, vanilla, and flavor-of-the-week are the only flavor choices at Kline's Dairy Bar, a historic ice cream stand in Harrisonburg that everyone seems to know about. On a nice day, it's a great walk from campus, and there are benches out front to relax on. Besides these basic creamy flavors, there is an extensive menu with milkshakes, floats, sundaes, and coffees.
  • Jess' Quick Lunch doesn't really have ice cream - just old fashioned milkshakes served in metal cups. My sister and I loved stopping here on road trips as my parents reminisced their college days, and we sipped on frozen chocolatey deliciousness.
With all these choices, where is your favorite place to get ice cream, and what makes it special for you?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Next Food Network Star

Even when I was halfway across the world, walking around Greece in May, my mom still texted me about the new season of The Next Food Network Star. We had watched it last summer occasionally as re-runs, but knew we would be hooked for the new season. Every Sunday at 10 pm our TV stays on channel 43 as we cheer on our favorites during their cooking competitions. Different Food Network personalities present a challenge for the episode, and the contestants then strive to make good food and show off their television skills. The final winner will host his or her own show.

Recently, my mom and I have been surprised by the judges' decisions on who to send home. A few weeks ago, I had hoped that Kelsey and Shane would be the ultimate winners, possibly hosting a show together. Now they are both gone.

The judges threw us again last night when they couldn't choose who to send home: Aaron, Adam, or Lisa? Instead they're bringing all three to the final competition. It'll be a tough decision next week - each cook has strengths and weaknesses. I don't know who I like the best either - I just can't envision any of them hosting a successful and popular show on Food Network.

For more about the show, check out The Next Food Network Star.

Don't forget to watch next Sunday!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Girl Scout Cookies in the summer

For the past month, Dairy Queen has aired commercials for their new Thin Mint Blizzard. I was a little hesitant at first - it looked delicious since it was a combination of two of my favorite sweets: ice cream and Thin Mints. But what if it was too sweet, or had a bad mint flavor? Would it ruin the cookies?

But no, the Blizzard was perfect. The sweet mixture of soft serve and mint with the infamous Girl Scout cookies was an instant hit with everyone in my car. The only issue we had was the price - $15 for 4 smalls.

My friend works for a competing ice cream shop, and she wants to suggest they create a Girl Scout drink for next summer - she was thinking Peanut Butter Patties, but I think Caramel deLites would be amazing as well. All that caramel, coconut, and chocolate -- mmm! Maybe I'm a little biased, having been a Girl Scout for 12 years, but these cookies are delicious.

The Dairy Queen Blizzards will only be in stores through the end of the month - or as long as their supplies last. Everyone should hurry out there to savor this treat - how else can you have Girl Scout cookies in the summer (unless you have them stored in your freezer!)?

I wonder how many boxes and cases of cookies DQ purchased from the Girl Scouts earlier this year?!

For more information, check out this recent story in The Roanoke Times about the origins of the Blizzard.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Craving broccoli

This afternoon I started craving broccoli. Not just any broccoli though – I wanted it with an Asian-style peanut sauce. I found this recipe earlier this year in Vegetarian Times, and have made it several times. It’s easy and includes two of my favorite things – peanut butter and vegetables. What could be better?

Starting with a fresh head of broccoli we found yesterday at Jamison’s Orchard, I cut some pieces off and dropped them in a pot of boiling water for about two minutes. These went into a bowl of ice water until the dip was ready:

Whisk together 1 cup peanut butter and 1 cup hot water. Then add: ¼ cup chopped cilantro 3 Tbs. sugar, 2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp. cider vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper (or more), and salt to taste. And that’s all there is to it.

Besides broccoli, it’s great with bell peppers and snap or snow peas. I think I also used it with noodles once too.

Once you’ve tried it you might crave broccoli too. And that doesn’t happen to many people.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Too many zucchini?

My family expanded our backyard garden this summer and started 3 zucchini plants besides the typical tomatoes and herbs. As one of my favorite vegetables, I couldn't wait to start picking them. And picking some more. And even more.

Now our whole counter seems to be covered with these green squash - and there's no end in sight. We've eaten it sauteed and stuffed, roasted and grilled, in sandwiches and with chocolate. All of these have been delicious in a different way.

I'm hoping to make zucchini bread, like banana bread, tomorrow, while my mom has plans for another (yes, she already made one) chocolate zucchini cake.

Even with the added chocolate chips and walnuts, I bet that this unique dessert has some nutritional value (or maybe I should keep wishing?). According to wikipedia, zucchini are low in calories while providing folate, potassium, vitamin A, and manganese.

Tomorrow I'll add photos of my plants to see how they look on this blog site.

Welcome to my new blog all about food – Dine With a Duke!

Over the past year, both at my school James Madison University and at home, I have fallen in love with all aspects of food. Whether watching Food Network, cooking in my kitchen, or dining out at local restaurants, I look forward to everything that food can give us.

While my friends discuss Bagel Bites and chicken nuggets, I think about garden-fresh zucchini and salty feta cheese. I’m sure they’ve grown tired of my constant chatter about our next meal or my most recent cooking endeavor. Writing a blog dedicated to this growing passion will give me an outlet to share my thoughts, while also helping me improve my writing (my goal is to be a journalist in the next few years).

As the summer comes to an end, I will focus on food at home. Once school begins in August, my blog will be centered on food for college students: dorm cooking, dining facilities (the good and the bad), and restaurants in Harrisonburg. I hope to include recipes, photos, and reviews throughout this blog.

Please share your thoughts and suggestions as I begin this journey – and I hope to hear about all the great food you’ve had!