Thursday, July 31, 2008
Then, there was time for a little chutes & ladders. Notice we don't play with the usual thingamajigs. Nope, our markers are little superheroes. Click to make larger.
No need for a recipe on cupcakes here. We just used Betty Crocker Buttery Yellow Cake Mix with Chocolate Icing. They were the most delicious cupcakes I have had. Perhaps becauce the biggest ingredient was LOVE?
A real recipe to come later for some Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cake.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
And the place below is the new & only upscale restaurant in our little downtown. I spoke about it a few weeks ago when I went for Sunday brunch. It's at the bottom of the old historic hotel and only has about 8 tables. Very quaint & charming. The food was wonderful and between the husband & wife team who owns it, we felt like the only people in the place because of their personal attention. Right behind those flowers is the open kitchen. You can see the chef from any seat as he prepares your delicious meal.
You can see the four tables here, but there's a few more to the left. Then there is a little alcove which seats 6 people. Perfect for a little private family dining on a special occasion.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Or perhaps you tell the bartender to surprise you and have them make you a martini, as long as it matches what you're wearing!
There you are, standing in the moonlight, and he looks at you adoringly. The evening has inspired him. He asks you to fly off to Miami next weekend. And there you are, you & your husband on your first date night in over a year. You both decide to renew your wedding vows. On another night of course.
We're a bit hungry now after all the laughter & a bit of dancing under the stars. You might nibble on a little of this:
Lobster Martini, Shrimp & Grits Martini Style, Shrimp Cocktail
And for dessert, take your pick from Strawberry Shortcake or Tiramisu Martini Style.
**The marinade below is enough for 4 tenderloins. You can halve it for 2 tenderloins which I normally make**
1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tblsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 small onion chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 pork tenderloins
2 tsp corn starch
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
In a resealable plastic bag combine first 9 ingredients. Add the tenderloins & marinate for 1-2 hours. Heat oven to 500. I place the pork on a rack that stands on a cookie sheet so that the underside cooks well too. Tuck in the ends of the pork if very thin. Reserve marinade. Roast pork for 25 minutes . Transfer to a platter & let rest.
To make sauce, pour marinade in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until oil seperates from sauce. I usually have trouble at this part because I don't see it seperating as much as I would like so I spoon off as much oil as I can and discard. Whisk cornstarch into broth and then whisk mixture into sauce. Heat to a boil until thickened. If needed, add a little more cornstarch. Serve on the side with pork.
Monday, July 28, 2008
2 cans solid white tuna, the largest size
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
2 jars of sliced mushrooms, drained
1 envelope of Lipton dry onion soup mix
5 celery stalks with leaves, diced
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
24oz Sour cream
16oz Muellers Egg noodles, medium
Italian Bread crumbs
In a saucepan, combine the tuna, soup, mushrooms, onion soup mix & sour cream. Simmer for 20 minutes. Microwave the diced celery with a tablespoon of water for 2 minutes. Drain and add to t8una mixture. Meanwhile, boil water and cook noodles for 5 minutes less than what the package states. Drain noodles & place back in pot. Add the tuna mixture except for 1-2 cups. Combine noodles and tuna mix well and place in a 9x13 casserole dish. Spread the extra tuna mixture on top. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and place under the broiler just until they are browned, 5-7 minutes. Let cool & place in fridge. Best eaten next day when completely cooled.
**I used to bake the casserole to get the breadcrumbs browned but it took too long & I figured if that was the only reason it would be easier to just broil it **
The picture here is of the recipe halved in a smaller casserole dish but it was still gone in less than 24 hours.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I would like to pass this award on to the following who make me smile each day:
1.Kiera at Peace & Pandemonium - her photos are breathtakingly beautiful!
2.Stephanie at Our Piece of Quiet - she's sassy, her name is Stephanie and she is a Scorpion & I just plain ol' like reading her blog.
3.The Rockin' Wife - She's so down to earth, so real and she just seems like someone I would want to hang out with on her front porch having a glass of wine. I'll never forget, she was the first person to ever put me on their blog roll. It's like seeing your name in lights...........
Also, Life, Love & Lola just gave me this award today for my recipe postings as well. Her advice: don't come visit on an empty stomach. To my blog, that is. If you're coming to my house, then you better!!! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!
I would like to pass this award on to:
1.Tam at MommaSong - she's so energetic, I can always feel it in her words, and always so free with the bloggy love.
2.Melissa at A Little Loveliness - I haven't known her for long but she has such a gentle soul & a very close relationship with God. Her posts are so moving and you should see how creative she gets on her 7/17 post, Delivering Comfort.
3.Molly at I Need a Martini - New to my blogroll, I enjoy reading about her life, she keeps it real and she loves martinis!
4.Steel Magnolia - Another real lady who I enjoy reading everyday for awhile now. I never know what she is going to write about, and it never matters. And I love the blog title!!
5.The Sweet Pea Chef - she's always conjuring up a fantastic meal on a whim, with the health and wellness of her 2peas in mind
6. Elizabeth at This is Our Life - She has a beautiful relationship with God & her husband, and her photos are just as stunning. Just another real lady I like reading everyday!
Rules for Giving & Accepting this Award
You have to pick some blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material & also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.
A few notes to share: I made the sauce the day before so that the flavors could really blend & to also give myself a chance to taste it & adjust any seasonings before hitting the table. I also decided to use ground sirloin & sausage as my meats, but to give it more flavor, I used a combination of hot & mild sausage. The hot sausage is really not very hot, just flavorful. I make a lasagna by Tyler Florence where I use beef & pork so I wanted to be a bit different here. Also, I read that the San Marzano canned tomatoes are among the best but could not find them so I went for Cento. I stayed away from any cans saying "Italian style." I wanted from Italy, not like Italy.
SPAGHETTI MEAT SAUCE
1 pkg ground sirloin, 1 pkg hot Italian Sausage, 1 pkg mild Italian sausage
Meat combined = roughly 2.5 lbs.
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large onion, diced
1 large or 2 small green bell pepper, diced
7 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
(4) 28 oz cans of Cento peeled tomatoes
Oregano, thyme, basil, (2) bay leaves, rosemary, garlic powder (if needed), baking soda to cut acidity, sugar to make it sweeter, salt & pepper
**This makes enough to dress 2 lbs spaghetti, plus more for freezing**
In a larger skillet over medium heat brown all the meat, breaking it up as you go. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, basil, a little garlic powder. Cook for 8-10 minutes, then set aside.
In a large stockpot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes stirring for 20 seconds. Add the onion & green pepper until soft & fragrant, about 10-12 minutes. Add tomato paste & stir for 1 minute. Add red wine & let alcohol burn off for a 1/2 minute. Add tomatoes with liquid, crushing each one with your hand. If there are any big pieces you'll get them later. Let simmer covered. Go back to your meat & grind up in a processor in batches (I pulsated on/off for a few seconds to give me the consistency I needed). Add meat to sauce. Let simmer for 1 hour. Take a nap, come back & adjust seasonings. I added some baking soda (1/2 tsp)on 2 occasions to cut down on the acidity from the tomatoes. You'll find in the beginning it tastes just like, well, tomatoes. Later I added 1 tsp sugar to sweeten it up. Simmer for another hour or so. If you have this kind of time, simmer for even longer. If not, then this is fine. The longer you simmer, the richer & more complex the sauce will be.
After it simmered a couple of hours, I took it off the heat & let it sit. As it cooled I let hubby taste it. I added some parmesan cheese, about 1/2 cup, as well as some more red pepper flakes. I then patiently transferred it to this big tupperware dish so it could sit in the fridge until Sunday. This is when I took a masher to break up any larger pieces of tomatoes I didn't get earlier.
About 1 1/2 hours before dinner the next day, I put it back on the stove to warm it up slowly. I had a few honest family members taste it before it hit the table and they said nothing needed to be added.
After doing this my first time, I realize a tomato sauce is so forgiving & it's easy to make it what you want to make it. My biggest challenge was making it the way my husband wanted it. Since I don't get excited over red sauce it was difficult for me to taste it & decide for myself.
The key is tasting it & adjusting the seasonings all along the way. I really enjoyed doing this!
Monday, July 21, 2008
So, Bobby Flay calls for Crème Fraîche in this recipe for Grilled Bananas with Maple Crème Fraîche. Last week I made the grilled bananas with just fat free cool whip so this week I thought I would do it just as the recipe calls for. Since Crème Fraîche is so hard to find at the stores & easy to make at home I thought I would give it a try. I researched online & this is what I found.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tblsp buttermilk (some sites say only 1)
Combine well in a glass jar, cover & leave at room temperature in a warm area for 8-24 hours, stirring every 6 hours. It's true, I combined them at 11am on Saturday and by Sunday morning it was very thick and ready to be put in the fridge. Worried about bacteria or spoiling? Don't be, read here for more details. This specific site has a different process which I did not follow. It also states to find pasteurized whipping cream but I was unable to.
For my recipe, I added 1/4 cup maple syrup to it once it thickened and before putting it in the fridge. You can also add vanilla. Just know that by itself it is on the sour side but if you're interested in making your own & then adding whatever sweetness you like, it's nice to say you did it yourself. I think this is a great fresh cream for those who don't like it too sweet in store boughts. It also has a nice subtle nuttiness to it.
I also made a baked fettucine with asparagus, lemon, pine nuts and mascarpone and for dessert I made the Grilled Bananas but this time served it with a Creme Fraiche I made from scratch. I will post the recipes for both the fettucine and creme fraiche later.
Here are some pictures. Click for more detail:
The table set before dinner. I love these pasta bowls Terry bought for me from the Harry & David store.
The sink after dinner.
The dog I love but never talk about - Tucker freshly groomed
My little superhero
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Look at the beautiful colors in the bruschetta bake!! We also had leftover so I brought some to my friend's house.
I had good intentions with only 1/2 potato on my plate but it was futile once I took a bite. Two more found their way to me. YUM!!!
CHICKEN BRUSCHETTA BAKE
1 can 14.5oz diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, in bite size pieces
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Fresh baby spinach (I added this for some greenery)
Preheat oven to 400. Combine diced tomatoes & liquid with stuffing mix & water. Add garlic & mix well. Spread chicken in a 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle with dried basil and shredded cheese. This is where I added the spinach by just tearing up fresh spinach leaves and placing over the cheese. This was such a nice addition since I didn't get my greens in earlier that day. Spread the tomato stuffing mixture over the spinach and bake for 30 minutes.
I left a few plain in case the little guy wanted to try.
1 medium potato for each person
Olive oil (I opted for olive oil instead of butter)
Oregano, Salt & Pepper
Paprika (I forgot to add a little from original recipe)
Cut each potato lengthwise & place on microwave safe dish cut side up. Spray with olive oil. Sprinkle on oregano along with some salt & pepper and shredded parmesan cheese, patting the cheese down a bit. Microwave for about 10-15 minutes depending on how many potatoes you have. I always nuke my potatoes in 5-7 minute increments and then rotate them.
These were so perfectly simple & simply perfect. Just the minor variation of microwaving them while cut in half rather than whole gave such a different result from just a baked potato. The olive oil made the potato so moist that I did not feel the need for any added condiments. This saved me extra calories as I would normally douse my baked potato with butter. Oops I forgot, I ate 3 halves though. Oh well. It was so worth it and I did get on the treadmill that evening!!!
Friday, July 18, 2008
3 1/2 to 4 lb rump roast
Salt & Pepper
1 bag of baby carrots, diced
Several stalks of celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced or chopped
1 can of green beans
1 can of peas
7 potatoes diced, skin in tact (thank goodness)
1 can of corn
15 oz can tomato soup
15 oz can tomato juice
28 oz can diced tomatoes, hold on to can
Place rump roast in crockpot. Salt & pepper it generously. Cover a little more than half of roast with water. Cook 6 hours on high. When done, strain liquid to remove fatty bits. Although this is a pretty healthy dish to begin with, if you're concerned about removing more fat, put the liquid in the fridge for a while until the fat rises to top and gets solid enough to discard. If not, then just set the meat and strained liquid aside. The meat will be added to the soup once all veggies are almost tender.
For the soup: in a large stockpot (I will specify later how big mine is, it's huge and the soup takes up the whole pot), place the carrots, celery, onion, green beans, peas, potatoes, corn, soup, juice, tomatoes and strained liquid (= to about 2 cups) from roast. Also, fill the 28 oz can from tomatoes with water twice and add to soup. Add salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender. When they are, shred the roast into pieces with your fingers and add to soup. Simmer 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
I've loved making this soup for years now. The work is only in the dicing of the veggies but it's so worth it because it makes enough for many days of feasting, enough to bring to some friends, and enough to put in the freezer in individual portions. If you don't like the veggies above substitute your own. I am not a canned veggie person at all but I stick with the recipe because that's how my husband loves it. I am sure fresh beans, peas and corn would be lovely!!
RECIPE TO COME.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
2- 9 1/2 oz pkgs frozen mini puff pastry shells
1 1/2 lbs medium size shrimp
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
3 tblsp butter
3 tblsp flour
1 cup milk
1 cup or 4 oz shredded swiss cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp pepper
Bake pastry shells according to pkg. Let cool & set aside. Combine wine, onion, parsley & salt in saucepan and bring to boil. Add shrimp & cook 3-5 minutes. Drain, reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid. Chop shrimp, set aside.
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk & cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick & bubbly. Add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in shrimp and reserved liquid, lemon juice & pepper. Spoon mixture into a greased shallow baking dish and bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. Spoon mixture into shells and serve. Makes 25.
Notes: You can make the shrimp mixture ahead of time; just chill up to 8 hours and then bake for the 30 minutes before putting in the shells. Also, I'm not really sure why you couldn't just put the hot shrimp mixture into the shells without the 30 minutes of baking, but I just did what the recipe said.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Enjoy & come on back now, ya hear!
A recipe will come later but for now I wanted to post these two items I bought online and just received. This site is great if you love kitchen accessories but want them to fall into a certain theme. They have over 25 themes and within each theme there are about 11 different items like salt & pepper shakers and the like. I have a little bit of a wine theme in my kitch but it's a subtle one. This dip chiller was bought seperately from the tray. I just thought it was a good idea to put the chips or crudites on a matching tray next to the dip. The top of the bowl comes off so you can put your ice underneath. Can't wait to use it this weekend!!!!!
Monday, July 14, 2008
This is the heritage museum with an old train parked in front.
The fountain where bands play on certain Fridays.
One of my favorite wine & coffee bars I wish I owned!
Sunday was a great day started by brunch at Chef's Table with one of my best friend's Tammy. It deserves a post all its own but because I forgot my camera, words alone can not do it justice. Everything was amazing though, from the Smoked Salmon Frittata to the Artichokes, Creamed Spinach & Poached Eggs to the mimosas. This new restaurant, with only 9 tables in a very quaint setting at the bottom of an old historic hotel, is doing well so far. I look to go back for dinner sometime.
Sunday continued with us hosting a simple afternoon to Terry's parents. This meant fat free hot dogs on the grill with some fixins, and an easy to put together pasta salad on the side. I also threw some peaches on the grill just as a simple side and they went over very well. For dessert and on a whim, I decided to grill some bananas. I was inspired by a dessert by Bobby Flay on All Star Grill Fest. It is amazing to me how just 3 minutes on the grill brings out such a sweetness you can never imagine. And it's quite healthy with some fat free cool whip we always keep in the freezer. Perfect for adults and kids!!!!!! THIS is a must try. A tiny effort that will make you say WOW.
GRILLED BANANAS WITH WHIP CREAM
Slice the bananas lengthwise, leaving peel on just as in the picture. Brush a little vegetable oil on the bananas. Grill banana side down for 2 minutes to get some nice grill marks. Turn them over & grilled them one more minute. Carefully take off peel and place flat side up on a nice plate. Dollop some fresh cool whip on top. Last night I drizzled some hot fudge sauce I was lucky to have in the house but I really preferred it without. Next week we'll be trying Bobby's dessert just as he did it. I wish I could have gotten an after picture but again, I was too busy chowing down. I must stop that. Next week!!!!
Friday, July 11, 2008
2 tsp olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts
Salt & pepper
1/2 to 1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar (I decreased this from the original 1/2 cup so judge for yourself at the end and add more if needed)
3 tblspn brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Sprinkle chicken with salt & pepper. Heat 1 tsp oil in skillet over medium high heat. Cook 8-10 minutes or until done. Place on platter & keep warm. Heat remaining oil in same skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, cook 3 minutes. Add bell peppers, cook 3 minutes. Add vinegar & sugar. Increase heat to high and cook 4-6 minutes until syrupy. Stir in cream. Cook 2-3 minutes or until reduced but thickened. Spoon over chicken. Serve with whole grain brown rice.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I discovered this little creamery / coffehouse by just going a different route to an ol' familiar place. It's about 15 minutes away but worth the trip just to find myself in a cute little nearby town, sort of like a extra mini staycay (not a vaca). They only have ice cream and coffee but a visit back with my girlfriend and the kids started out the day last weekend just perfectly.
We've also been regulars at this new Thai place downtown. They appear to be doing well which makes us happy because we want them to stick around. We fell in love with a new dish this past weekend, the Pineapple Fried Rice, and for anyone who has never had a Thai fried rice, let me say I will never be ordering Chinese takeout again. They throw just a tad of curry in, yet it's sweet and aromatic and to die for. It's a complete meal with the chicken and shrimp thrown in. I think it's even turning my husband into a foodie. Tristan loves the white rice and they'll even do a mild chicken for him.
This place, Sabor Y Mexico, has been a favorite of ours. It's authentic Mexican food always makes us happy. Tristan loves it and often requests to go. Terry & I rarely eat the rice and beans to cut down on the cals and enjoy the tostadas and pork roast tacos even more. They know us well here after visiting at least weekly for the past couple of years.
Oh, and the new nearby seafood market I mentioned before? Well, it seems it's going to have to become a weekly stop. Terry and I both love the shrimp roll but this past weekend I tried the lobster roll and it was culinary ecstasy. Generous amounts of lobster freshly tossed with just a little seasoning in a mayo dressing, on a toasted New England style hot dog bun. Next visit, I will be trying the yellow fin tuna in a tortilla wrap lightly grilled. I already know it's delicious because my foodie friend Tammy told me so.
So, what's a girl to do with all these fantastic eateries all around, and a husband who is loving them as much as me? Work out more. I still cook each week but we have been loving our excursions and our increased quality time together as of late. I just need to balance it out with some hard workouts and then some fun time in the tub.
I have also been re-discovering spaces in the house, spaces I have looked at so many times but then just decide need a small enhancement, something to make it a little more like an oasis. Anything to make another little mini staycay, right?! So, I took 2 bookends from another room, placed them by our tub and then just created a little special space from there with candles and tiny books. Click for a larger view. That certificate on the left? That's a coupon for a Bath Anytime One of Us Asks. We write the date we took our last one to ensure too much time doesn't go by before the next one. I smile whenever I see it. And, as a bonus, this space deters me from throwing my dirty clothes where I always used to!!!!
Life is short so I am really making an effort to make the most of every little silly enjoyable thing. So far, I think am doing pretty good!!!!!