Thursday Dinner: Cavender’s Lamb Burgers

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A long, long time ago, I asked for help to build a CNY food box for my friend in Little Rock, Ark. I did actually make one. It’s been sitting on my dining room table for weeks as I keep forgetting to pack and mail it to Allison. Her food kit arrived last month. Among the goodies involved was a shaker of Cavender’s Greek Seasoning. Greek seasoning from Arkansas?

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Yeah, Greek seasoning from Arkansas. Cavender’s has been making their Greek spice blends in Northwest Arkansas since the 1970s. Now call me crazy, but I didn’t think the Ozarks were a hotbed of Greek immigrants. Apparently, I am wrong. Continue reading

Texas de Brazil, Syracuse, N.Y.

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On his 2008 album Chewed Up, all-world comedian Louis C.K. discussed his eating habits, leading to an oft-quouted line: “I don’t stop eating when I’m full. The meal isn’t over when I’m full. It’s over when I hate myself.”

I’m not sure that there is a better characterization of our Friday evening visit to Texas de Brazil at DestinyUSA. I’m certain that one could go to this all-you-can-eat steakhouse, show some restraint, and experience it in a manner that doesn’t result in paralysis and food coma. It would require willpower and knowing your limits, two things that I do not possess.

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Texas de Brazil sits at the back of the Canyon entrance to DestinyUSA, in a court of other higher-end chain restaurants like Cantina Laredo, P.F. Chang’s, The Melting Pot and Gordon Biersch. The concept is Brazilian churrascaria, where passadores, or servers, come to your table with swords of meat, called rodizios. Typically, one flips a painted rock to indicate whether they would like more food or to signal that they need some time to eat. At Texas de Brazil, one receives a laminated card that is typically ignored by the sword-bearing staff. The Turning Stone Resort had a Brazilian steakhouse that The Wife and I had been to prior to its closing. Continue reading

Wednesday Dinner: Spicy Cuban Shrimp Soup

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Al Dente HQ is in the process of having its roof replaced. I’ll spare you, dear reader, the messy details about the job itself other than to say that the work crew has been here longer than planned and it’s not their fault.

As a result of the increased traffic and trucks in my driveway, I really don’t have a lot of room to haul out my grill at night. So, the pound of ground lamb waits in the fridge for another day. And, on a day where we topped out near 80 degrees, I made soup.

(Tangent: We went long stretches in Syracuse during the month of August where it didn’t hit 80 degrees, and not it has done so three times in the past seven days in September.)

So, soup on a hot warm day isn’t the worst thing thing in the world. This particular entry from Jennifer Olvera at Serious Eats has a crisp citrus flavor, which surprises you at each spoonful. Continue reading

Meatless Monday: Emmer Fettuccine With Beans

Farro is a great grain, loaded with fiber and nutrients. Here at Al Dente HQ, we are big fans of emmer —  a type of farro which can be grown in fields outside of the Mediterranean and Middle East.

In the case of this pasta, the field is in Tompkins County. Continue reading

Grocery List: September 14, 2014

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NOTE: I’m in Utica — New Hartford, actually — for a Walk To End Alzheimer’s event. This post was written on Saturday when I actually went grocery shopping.

The past week has been about restructuring and rebuilding here at Al Dente HQ. The roofers finished their work on our house. It looks good, but there were some unanticipated issues that led to an additional few thousand dollars in work. The seven roofs meant that we needed a second dumpster. All of the aluminum fascia had to go because the jackasses that owned our house never sealed the rafters with wood. Therefore, the aluminum was rusting from behind. We needed both wood and aluminum to finish that. Plus, we had some rotted wood at the base of the roof that needed changing out. That said, if you are in need of a roof, Al Dente wholly endorses the work of Pidgeon Roofing.

In other news, I spent some time restructuring my Pinterest page.


Rather than just dumping everything on to one board, I separated things into different boards based on genre and ingredients. There are now two different boards for Meatless Monday. One is full of my recipes and the other is called Meatless Monday Bloggers. Al Dente is now part of the Meatless Monday network of bloggers who have taken the challenge.

The hope for all of this is to build up my traffic as I look at building a new online home for Al Dente in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Coupon Offer: Nonni’s THINaddictives


Biscotti present an interesting challenge for me. You’re supposed to dunk them in your coffee to soften them to eat. I don’t like doing that. But, I also enjoy having teeth, so I don’t eat a lot of biscotti.

Enter Nonni’s. If I were to guess, they are probably the biggest store-bought biscotti brand out there. They have a new product called THINaddictives, which has all of the crunch and light sweetness of a biscotti but in a thin cookie.

Nonni’s reached out to Al Dente HQ to offer you, dear reader, a $1 off printable coupon for a six-pack of THINaddictives. Follow this link to their Facebook page to print your copy.

NOTE: I have not tried this product nor was I compensated for this post, though I would happily take Nonni’s money and/or product in the future.

Tuesday Dinner: Andouille Sausage and Rice

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On my kitchen counter, near my stove, is a 15-ounce can of Goya black beans. They were 89 cents at Wegmans. I purchased it on Saturday with the intention of using the beans in tonight’s dinner.

Dinner is done. Plates are in the dishwasher. The pan is air drying. And the beans remain, in their can, in the same spot.  Continue reading

Grocery List: September 7, 2014

2014-09-06 at 16-46-07Sunday marks the first Walk To End Alzheimer’s event of my fall. As this posts, I’ll be behind the wheel of a 2014 Chrysler Town & Country minivan with Quebec plates screaming up I-81 or US-11 towards Canton, N.Y. The minivan is a rental, but it has SiriusXM radio, so there’s at least that.

When I first started working at the Alzheimer’s Association, we had 12 walks that took place in our 14-county region. We would start after Labor Day and run nonstop until Columbus Day weekend. We have since pared that down to five, scheduling them in a way that we don’t have more than one per weekend. My personal record was 33 consecutive days of work in 2004 or 2005. I don’t remember which year.

So, my Sunday posts may be late or nonexistent depending on the week. I went shopping today, plugging my list into the Wegmans app. I should review that app at some point, as it is pretty awesome (compared to apps from other supermarkets).

OH! Speaking of Walk To End Alzheimer’s, I’m closing in on the $1,100-mark for The Chain Challenge. With just about $400 to go to meet my goal and trigger the splendor of my having to eat at The GoldenRedOlivePondoOutbackLobsterGardenRosaCorral, I encourage you to make your donation by clicking the link above or the square graphic to the top right. No contribution is too small in the fight against Alzheimer’s. The strength in our cause is not necessarily in the dollars, but the numbers of people who want to see the end of this disease.


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