Breakfast on the deck? Heck yea!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in National Picnic Month 2016

Welcome to August! This Month we decided to talk about all things picnics! Summer is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy those nice long sunny days. Picnics don’t have to be just in the afternoon or just in parks either. We are going to talk about having picnics at all times of the day and at many different places. We’ll provide some great easy recipes as well as tips and tricks. So get creative and get outside!

This week I’m going to talk about making breakfast on the deck, aug 10th will be the classic summer barbeque, aug 17th is the quintessential lunch at the park, aug 23rd sunset dinner by the ocean, and aug 31st is tea time on the lawn. So stayed tuned!

Breakfast on the deck reminds me of lazy summer mornings camping with my family. Waking up and going out of the RV onto the screenporch to chat and have some breakfast with family. The typical Eggs, bacon and toast were usually on the menu, cooked by my dad on the griddle, while my brother and I played cards or in my case read. It was a great way to grow up, and just one of the many ways to interpret having breakfast on a deck.

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So what exactly is a deck? It’s the first thing needed in order to have breakfast on it right? I think a deck could be interpreted into many things…. Perhaps the porch/deck on your house, a 3 season room, the stoop or fire escape of your city apartment, maybe a roof patio… whatever gets you outside enjoying a nice meal with family and/or friends!

Okay, now on to the breakfast… and what better way to start breakfast than with a mimosa! Depending on how close your deck is to your kitchen largely dictates what you can make. However there are some great tasting dishes you can prep and make in advance and just heat up! Quiches and French toast casserole are two of my favorites. Another great make ahead is a simple fruit salad, or breakfast sandwiches.  If you’re deck happens to have a grill on it, then you don’t even need an oven. Here are some great breakfast ideas you can make on the grill! Remember to choose the highest NuVal scoring foods when selecting your ingredients for your dishes.

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So that’s all it takes. Simply pick what you’d like to make, plan and prep ahead, invite people over, heat up the food, and serve outside! Enjoy the company and the beautiful summer day!

Let us know what your favorite summer breakfasts on the deck are!


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Dairy-free? Sorbet, please!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in National Ice Cream Month

I’ve always wondered about the difference between sorbet and sherbet. In my head, I can never keep them straight. Luckily, a quick Google search revealed that sherbet can contain dairy-based products, while sorbet is water based; making it great for those with a dairy intolerance. This trait gives sorbet a much more delicate consistency, almost similar to Italian Ice. Lending itself to punchier flavors, like citrus and other sour fruits.

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In my own experience, sorbet is the ice cream that vendors sell along the beach back home in Puerto Rico. You could hear the chime of the bells attached to the cart from miles away as he pushed it through the sunbaked sand. Once you fished the change out of your pocket, the critical decision had to be made: coconut, passion fruit, or guava?  More often than not, I would end up drinking what was left of my sorbet as the heat melted it into a puddle at the bottom of the cup. Regardless, it was a delicious, light, and refreshing snack on those hot summer days, perfect for the sand and sea or poolside.

The best part about sorbet is combining flavors – though I mentioned the more sour fruits, combining those flavors with more mellow tones like vanilla balances the sorbet out (and creates delicious flavors!). So get creative!

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I know not everyone has an ice cream machine, so watch this video for a delicious, ice-cream-machine-less sorbet recipe! If you want to watch out for your sugar amounts, add to taste. Remember that fruits come with a lot of natural sugar! And another quick tip: chill all of your ice cream serving bowls or cups before you serve. You don’t have to worry about the sun in your kitchen, but it definitely keeps it cooler for longer!



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Sherbet or Sherbert? That is the question….

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in National Ice Cream Month

Sherbet is in fact the “correct” spelling of the word, but due to the frequent mispronunciation of the word as sher-bert, the spelling “sherbert” is also widely accepted.  Over the centuries, the word has been spelled many different ways including: cerbet, sherpet, sarbet, zerbet, sherbet and sherbette.  By mid-19th century though, the spelling “sherbet” became the norm and has only seen any rivalry from the spelling “sherbert”.  But, enough with the English lesson!


Sherbet has a couple of definitions depending upon what country you are living in.  In the United States, it is a fruit based dessert that is frozen and added to milk or cream.  In the UK however, sherbet powder is a fizzy powder with sugar and flavoring in addition to a harmless acid and base.  Sherbet is added to beverages to make a fizzy drink.  It can also be added as a topping to a lollipop or licorice.  Fun fact: in the Harry Potter series, Albus Dumbledore was a fan of sherbet lemons and the treat happened to be the password to be admitted to his office!

In the United States though, sherbet is a frozen fruit based dessert similar to ice cream and sorbet.  Sherbet is essentially a sorbet.  The main difference though is that sherbet contains a miniscule amount of milk (approximately 1.2%) while sorbet is dairy free.  Ice cream on the other hand, uses significantly more butterfat (5-15%) than sherbet, depending on the fat level.  For example, premium ice cream is 11-15% butterfat, regular 10-11% and light ice cream is approximately half the amount of butterfat as the regular.  Depending upon the % butterfat, ice cream can qualify for one of 5 different categories.  Sherbet on the other hand, only has one category.


To make sherbet, start by stirring fruit, fruit juice, gum and some cream.  Then heat the mixture for a short period of time to intensify the flavors.  Lastly, freeze “first with agitation until partially frozen, and then without agitation to harden the final product” (  If you are interested in making your own sherbet, you can check out this delicious Strawberry Sherbet recipe from EatingWell:

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Baked Tilapia Provençal

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Cooking with Catherine Katz

When Stephanie was looking for someone to alternate featuring recipes, I was the perfect choice.  I like to cook, I have no dietary restrictions and I assisted her in preparing the Walnut Salmon with Simply Quinoa featured on March 15th.  For this month’s installment of Cooking with Catherine Katz, I decided to prepare the Baked Tilapia Provençal.  With Catherine’s approval, I prepared the fish with a side of brown rice.

I went to Whole Foods to pick up the ingredients needed.  I already had the brown rice, olive oil and garlic at home.  All I needed was the tilapia, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, calamata olives, capers and sundried tomatoes.
Ingredients            Brown Rice            Tilapia

Tilapia (NuVal 88) is the main ingredient of this nutritionally packed recipe.  The nutrients that contribute to this high score are heart healthy omega 3’s, protein as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals.  Tilapia has several benefits including, but not limited to, expediting growth and repair throughout the body, reducing the risk of several chronic diseases, stimulating the growth of hair and preventing a variety of cancers.  Diced tomatoes with no added ingredients score a whopping 100 on the NuVal scale due to their high antioxidant content that may prevent cancer, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The health benefits of tomatoes include improved eyesight as well as a reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol.  Lastly, my edition to the recipe, brown rice (NuVal 94), is jammed packed with fiber and protein and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

The first step in the cooking process involved preheating the oven to 375˚F.  While the oven was preheating, I rinsed, pat dry and then lightly salted both sides of the tilapia.  Next, I placed all of the ingredients, except the tilapia in a baking pan, stirring to blend.  Lastly, I added the tilapia to the baking pan, spooning some of the sauce on top.  I placed the baking pan with the tilapia mixture in the oven and let it bake for 30 minutes.


While I was waiting for the tilapia to finish baking, I cooked the brown rice according to the package instructions.

Uncooked brown rice                                        Cooked brown rice

Thirty minutes after baking began, the finished product looked like this:

Finished product

The finished product was delicious!  I never thought of pairing tilapia with calamata olives before.  It was a surprising combination that I will definitely try again.  The recipe was quick, easy and doable in my tiny studio apartment.

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Gelato… Just Italian for Ice Cream??

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in National Ice Cream Month

Merriam Webster defines gelato as “a soft rich ice cream containing little or no air”, but what exactly is the difference between gelato and ice cream? Is it just Italian ice cream?

Gelato is in fact different from ice cream! They have the same basic ingredients; milk, eggs, sugar…etc., but their differences lie in the techniques used to make them and the amounts of ingredients.

  • Density
    • Butterfat: gelato is made with about half the amount of butterfat as traditional ice cream
    • Churn method: gelato is churned significantly slower than ice cream. This causes less air to be incorporated, allowing for a much denser product.
  • Sugar Content
    • Gelato is made with about 10% more sugar than ice cream.
  • Temperature
    • Stored at about 0-10°F and served at about 10-20°F. By contrast ice cream can be stored at up to -40°F.
    • The warmer temperatures are needed because the density of the gelato would make it too hard to serve and eat at traditional ice cream temperatures.

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It is believed and felt by many people that gelato tastes better than ice cream. Luckily, there is some science to back that up!

Number 1 Your tongue simply isn’t as numb! The gelato is served at warmer temperatures, so your taste buds can taste more of the flavor before they freeze. They are also more sensitive at slightly warmer temps.

Number 2 The aromatic compounds in the flavors are also more volatile at warmer temperatures allowing more of the flavor to be detected.

Number 3 Fats tend to coat your tongue and block your taste buds. Gelato is lower in fat, so you can taste more of the flavor!

For more information about the history of gelato, visit the gelato museum website or check out this great video:

In conclusion, gelato is delicious (we all know that!), but it’s high in sugar, so enjoy in moderation.

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