Monday, March 30, 2009

Saturday Night in Chicago - Salmon and Veggies

Well - even though we were heckled because we didn't go out in Chicago for dinner with the many great restaurants literally on every corner...we enjoyed a great meal in.
Whole Foods provided us some of it - if not all.

Wild Coho Salmon - 1/2 lb between the two of us, cooked for about 12 minutes (flipped once), skinned at the counter, just with evoo, s/p - wow - this was good.
Sauteed spinach and garlic.
Roasted asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms - with evoo and TJ's balsamic vinegar
Our appetizer was unsalted blue corn tortilla chips with hummus and also some edamame (yum)!
For dessert - Edy's Grand Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream with TJ's dark cream mints (slightly larger and better than Junior Mints).

And we got to cook it together, eat it together, not pay a tip, and watch basketball!

Taste of Wheaton: Mai Tai's Cafe

I love Wheaton - I love its quaintness in downtown, and any restaurant or shopping you could want in a suburb of Chicago.
Janel and I were hungry by the time we ate lunch at Mai Tai's. Reasonably priced for lunch (16$ for both) - we each got soup, a potsticker, and a huge entree.
I got the chicken pad thai - so good. I got it medium and it was perfectly spiced. Probably the best pad thai since I last ate at Chai's in Durham. Janel got the Pad Kee Meo or something like that - more Asian (wide rice noodles and vegetables) than Thai, but ok.
The soup was vegetable and I loved the taste of cooked cabbage and carrots. It was warm too which was nice because it was so cold outside.
Our appetizer was the popcorn from the popcorn shop around the corner. It I were at Wheaton - these two places would definitely be a weekly thing for me!

Taste of Lincoln Park: John's Place

Sunday morning - in 5 inches of snow - Janel and I walked around the corner to John's Place. It seemed like a great neighborhood place where you go each wknd and see the same people order the same food.
I looked at the oatmeal (to be like Dad), but then I wanted something else. So, I ordered the pumpkin pie pancakes short stack (4.50) - 2 huge plate size pancakes with brown sugar maple pecan butter. I ate half. Had a slice of Janel's wheat bread. Ate a bite of her's. Mine was just ok - her's was worth every penny. She got an egg dish with corn tortillas, sausage, mexican cheese, peppers - so good. gotta learn how to make that!
Their omelettes were a bit high (in the 10-12$ range) but everything else on the breakfast menu was reasonably priced or cheap. And it was very quick service!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Menu Week - March 30 (updated twice)

Just got back from a wknd in Chicago - housesitting this week - so everything will be quick and easy. I was going to make a roasted turkey breast for my new recipe this week, but Walmart didn't have one - so I'll look through another book and find another one - making it on Saturday when I get back in town.
Monday: lunch with Rachel with chicken salad and mini wheat pitas (from Trader Joes) and veggies and honey wheat pretzel braids. Dinner is grilled balsamic portabellow, orange tomatoes and salad.
Tuesday: chicken salad and veggie. Dinner is curry chickpeas and cauliflower and whole wheat couscous. Recipe will come later after I make it.
Wednesday: soup and pretzels. dinner is jerk chicken, grilled corn, red onions, avocado on a salad.
Thursday: pbj and fruit (or I may grab some lunch out depending on how long I take at the doctor). Dinner - egg white omelette salad.
Friday: black bean burger on salad. Dinner at the Lincoln Day celebration at the Galt House (thanks Sarah)
Saturday: fun flower cookies and for dessert during the Final Four - light(er) baked rice pudding I found in Family Favorites Made Lighter by Better Homes and Gardens.
Sunday: Fazolis with Sarah!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Couscous and Spring Vegetables with Lemon Dressing (2009.12)

I actually really liked this recipe - but would change a few things for future makings. I think this would be great in the spring as a side dish (and even people at it as a dip tonight). Serve it with a salad or with any meat.
I got this cookbook my first year working at W-S for the holidays. I have never used it. Even though it is the Essentials of Healthful Cooking - there is no nutrition information. Oh, well.

Couscous with Vegetables
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup couscous (whole wheat too)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 T olive oil
juice of two lemons - I would add some zest too
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 small garlic clove - zested
1/2 cup each diced English Cuk, red pepper, green onions, frozen (thawed) tiny green peas
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Boil water, add couscous and salt, stir, put a lid on it, off burner - 20 minutes. Mix dressing (oil through garlic). Chop veggies and parsley. Fluff couscous with a fork and let cool. Stir all together, serve at room temp.

Help with Menu Planning

I live among some amazing women who are much better at grocery shopping on a budget for families, cooking, menu planning, etc. These folks help me all the time with several of these factors. But, I also get help from blog world. I love blogs!
Cheap Healthy Good has been a great resource over the past few months to me. I starred this particular post a few weeks ago and I am just now reading it. But, since I've made a list of how to be more disciplined with my time, money, etc - this will be the perfect help with menu planning!
Thanks - and I'd love to know your thoughts too! Any thing you would add? What has worked for you?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Taste of Louisville: Red Pepper (Brownsboro)

I had heard great things about Red Pepper on Brownsboro - so I went today with Sarah to try it. Honestly for the dish I got - I wanted a vegetarian dish - I wasn't that impressed. I got the mixed vegetables in the clear sauce, side of white steamed rice, egg roll, and egg drop soup.
Egg drop soup was good. But it had some peas and carrots in it. I can see the corn egg drop soup from Charlie's in CH, but I wasn't feeling the peas and carrots. It was good though - I ate less than half.
The rice had no flavor whatsoever.
The vegetables were almost the same way. I think I'll go for something else next time. Sarah had the mongolian beef and it was excellent.
The egg roll (ate half) was probably the best because of the outside - not necessarily the filling.
All for under 6$ - good price. My fortune cookie was excellent too - probably the best packaged cookie at a Chinese restaurant I've had.
I'll go back - but I'll try something else before I make my final decision.

Taste of Brentwood: Kalamatas

I was in Bretwood TN for the weekend at a conference. It went great! One of the fun things was going to dinner with the Joneses. They like going to fun and unique places as well - one of the reasons we get along.
We drove through a little shopping center. We found this and had to stop.
It was pretty good. Best thing was the hummus. It was cream and just garlicky enough to not be overwhelming.
I had the fattoush salad with grilled yellow fin tuna (fish of the day) that I had cooked to medium. It was good and healthy!
So, if you are in a new city - try some place new - don't settle for the same old chain places! And speaking of new - I ate a kalamata olive. Never had before. And honestly, it wasn't as bad as a black or green olive. It wasn't as salty and maybe a tad sweeter. Does anyone have a tapenade recipe using kalamata olives?

Menu Week - March 23

This is going to be another short week since I am heading to Chicago this weekend to hang out with a friend. Hopefully will get to eat some Chicago food. Can't wait!
Many things going on this week even though it will be short!
Monday - Lunch at Red Pepper with Sarah, dinner will be yogurt and granola with fruit I get while grocery shopping. I also need to make the black and white brownies for Pendergraph tomorrow night.
Tuesday - Chikfila for lunch while hearing Danny Wuerffel. Speaker will be better than the food. Dinner will be salad with some rotisserie chicken (love the stuff, especially when I need something quick)
Wednesday - Recipe of the week is out of William-Sonoma Healthful Cooking. It is a couscous veggie salad for our community group dinner.
Thursday - PJ&J for lunch with veggies. Egg white omelette salad.
Friday - Chikfila for breakfast (I have a free coupon - though my coupons are not as cool as Shana's). Lunch will be some leftovers of something - just so I don't have to cook. Then - heading to Chicago! :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ginger Sesame Chicken Salad (2009.11)

Recipe week #11 is out of my favorite cookbook - Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster. But, this was not my favorite recipe. I loved the salad - but who wouldn't. But, I tried to make the dressing for just one (because there is only me) and I got the ratios a bit wrong - some things in it were a little strong. If you were making the recipe as is - I'm sure it would be great.

rotisserie chicken
red pepper
celery or bok choy
green onions

all to taste and salad size pieces - whatever that means to you. I loved the pop of color with the red peppers!

Salad Dressing
zest and juice of one orange
2 T light soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T honey
2 T fresh grated ginger
2 scaliions, minced
2 minced garlic cloves
2 T toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
2 T toasted sesame seeds

Mix all together - pour lightly over salad.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Menu Week - March 16

This is going to be a short week at home - rest of it spending it in TN! Looking forward to it. Also, I am loving cooking with fresh ingredients - I just gotta remember portions and keep exercising.
Monday - Lifeway is feeding me lunch for working on a Bible study. Dinner is the recipe for the week - Ginger Sesame Chicken Salad with Crunchy Vegetables - in Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster. Using a rotisserie chicken to make it quicker - looking forward to the dressing.
Tuesday - Leftover chili - leftover salad. Making box cupcakes for a birthday/St. Patty's Day party we are having for Foster residents.
Wednesday - egg whites and veggies on salad for dinner, leftover chili for lunch
Thursday - whatever is left in my fridge - probably fruit and a pbj for lunch, dinner on the road to Franklin
Friday - lunch and dinner in Brentwood. Breakfast at Lisa's.
Saturday - Moe's taco bar for lunch and a special bday dessert in Kville.
Sunday - lunch with Barak, Heather, and Judah after church in Knoxville.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Need Help in Baltimore...

I will be heading to Baltimore's Inner Harber for a Memorial Day Weekend Conference. any foodies out there that can recommend great and inexpensive places to eat (under 20$). Anything to do - local farmer's markets, etc? What would you recommend?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taste of Home Spring Extravaganza

Thanks to a very gracious person, Sarah and I got to go downtown this evening to an event that was sold out. I am very thankful for the free magazine I'll get, the Biofreeze that was in my bag, and a chance to spend some time with Sarah tonight at Old Spaghetti Factory. And to learn more about how to navigate downtown Louisville (which always comes in handy).
We finally got to the right part of the convention center. We walked in - and probably could have walked right out. But, we wanted to give it a shot.
There were 600 chairs set up, half were full by 610 when we got there. There a couple food sample booths, a bite of sausage was free, but you had to pay for the smoothie sample. Tupperware was being given away, there was a wine tasting, giveaway for a stone massage, etc. 10 booths about in all.
We were done in 10 minutes. So we decided to say hi to some friends who were also enjoying the evening. Then we went to dinner and came back for the demos.
They were demo-ing some good food, but nothing to drive us to stay there.
I guess our expectations were so high for the evening, and I'm very grateful for the tickets - but am very glad I hadn't paid for it.
So - thank you for my free ticket, thank you Taste of Home for my free magazine, and Sarah and I got a run in before we went!

Taste of Louisville: The Old Spaghetti Factory

This was the highlight of the evening. Sarah and I were downtown Louisville for the Taste of Home night at the Convention Center. Well, we walked in and knew we needed to go get dinner. I'd never been there - so I was excited to go.
They are set up like old street cars inside (pictures will be coming soon). Elegant chandeliers, etc. Very nice.
Let's start with the best of the evening:
I got a big ole piece of their Lasagna Vegetariano. Artichokes and many other things in a red sauce that wasn't drowning the piece of lasagna - with sauteed shrooms on top. The best thing was the marinara sauce - best I've tasted at an Italian restaurant. The lasagna was pretty good too - better than I thought it be - not heavy on the cheese. I ate half of it - gave the rest to Sarah to take home.
The house salad was nothing to write home about and the bread was a white loaf, soft, good, served like Outback's but not near as good.
We had a nice waitress, though not very effecient. We waited 12 minutes to get our water order taken - and it wasn't full at 7pm. She got Sarah's salad order wrong - but then she got better after that.
So, I've been, do I need to go again, no probably not, but I wouldn't rule it out. The marinara and the ambience definitely make it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Black and White Cake-Like Brownies (2009.10)

Black and white is usually used to define a high class or dressy party. I love wearing black (besides the slimming effect) and white I think of calm and summer...
Well, these brownies were amazing without the black and white effect, but even better with it. I'm so glad I took the time to melt the chocolate drizzle.
These are out of The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook. These are definitely going in the keeper file! The brownies are more cake like - but moist and fudgy - if that makes any sense. I had to adjust the recipe a little bit just bvecause I didn't have enough sour cream - but really yummy... And these got made unlike any other brownie recipe...a winner.

1 2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup ff vanilla yogurt
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup each white chocolate, semi sweet - divided
1/2 tsp in each canola oil

Mix flour through salt in mixer. Add butter and mix till it resembles small peas (about 2 minutes). Add in the wet ingredients. Fold in the chips. Bake in 8 in square pan, lined with parchment paper, sprayed. 325 for about an hour till done (9 inch is about 45).
Let cool. Melt the chocolates. Add in the oil. Drizzle with fork white chocolate than semi-sweet. Let harden.
Cut and give away - unless you eat them all!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Menu Week: March 8

This week is a lot of leftovers - primarily because I don't have a lot of money to spend and I have leftovers. you go...
Monday - every lunch this week will be training. Shiraz for dinner and strawberry shortcake for dessert.
My leftovers are: veggie soup, chili, chicken salad, turkey soup - I'll switch these out throughout the week.
My recipe of the week for 2009 is out of The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook - for my friends Shana and Toby will get some for his bday.
I get to make some granola that i'm excited about.
Making a Kraft egg dish recipe for our Secretary breakfast on Friday morning - in honor of Bonnie who has a bday this month and usually brings the egg dish.
The two other baking things will be for community group (oatmeal, cherry, white chocolate chip cookies) and Bar night at Bloom - butterscotch blondies - both of these things I found online in my google reader.
Looking forward to leftovers and baking this week!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Taste of Fern Creek: Bootleg BBQ

Hole in the wall all the way.
A few months ago, a co-worker brought in Bootleg BBQ leftovers. I got to try their pulled pork. It was great. Smoked, no sauce on it at the time - and I really liked it - straight from the microwave.
Well, my parents love bbq. We love to try different places. So, while they were here, we decided to go to this place. We drove out and spent some time in Bardstown, then on our way back we stopped in Fern Creek to eat.
We got there before the lunch rush which was nice. We were the only ones in there. We got 2 rib tip plates (the special) and a pulled pork sandwich plate. My sides were the smoke house beans and cole slaw. The beans were great. Cole slaw not so much. Mom got the potato salad and green beans - both were really good. Dad got the same sides as me, and ate both. I still liked the pulled pork better - and would have liked it without the sauce. It was a little sweet for me and I like my bbq sauce more mild or hot than sweet.
But, we all ate it. And they served it all on baby shower plates. The lady told Mom that we just use what people give us!

Taste of Louisville: Wild Eggs

Man - what a great breakfast place.
My parents and I tried out Wild Eggs in St. Matthews this week while they were here. Got right in and our food was served very prompty and with friendly service. The weekends are a little harder to get a table right away - just get up early before work!
My Dad got his normal oatmeal - served with side dishes of whipped butter, blueberries, walnuts, brown sugar, syrup. He said the coffee was great for a restaurant (amazingly, not Starbucks).
Mom and I shared our meals.
I got the ACE of a BLT - Avocado, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, fried egg on grilled sourdough - amazing sandwich. It all stayed together. Two things: the bacon was thick cut so it was a little chewy. And the avocado I wish was in slices rather than a mixture. But, still - the egg was a little runny and the grilled sourdough was perfect! This was served with home fries which was great - I just didn't eat them all - its all about choices!
Mom got the Crispy hippie Crunch. A delicious perfect belgian waffle, topped with their homemade granola, fruit compote and whipped cream. It was delicious!
So - maybe a little overprices for breakfast - but delicious! :)
I actually think I liked Mom's better and Mom liked mine better.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Just OK Turkey Vatapa - 2009.9

I can cook Brazilian! ha!
Well, for the recipe of the week this week - Cooking Light 2003 - mom and I cooked a Brazilian dish to use up some roasted turkey breast (that was really dry when I bought it, but didn't want to waste it). I don't think its the best soup I've ever had - not even in the "I want to make this again" basket - but it is edible and I will eat it so it doesn't go to waste. And it is healthy for you - so that is probably the best thing about it.

Turkey Vatapa
1 tsp olive oil (or peanut)
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 inch peeled grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeno, diced and seeded
1 cup water
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, ground
3 cups turkey, chopped or shredded cooked
1 can coconut milk (I used a whole can, you were only supposed to use 1/2 cup - so that could be something - always read the recipe)
parsley and cilantro, chopped to taste
1 lime - juice

Heat onions, garlic,. Add ginger and pepper - add water and toms. Add everything else - let simmer. End with fresh herbs, lime juice, and s/p to taste. It gets better with time - but again, just ok, not even in the good category.
Can't wait to see what I'll make next week!

Dorie Greenspan Double Decker Brownies

Ok - so Dorie called them Chipster Topped Brownies - but I like my name better. Actually, I could just call them deep dark fudgy brownies topped with chocolate chip cookies. So good. I've gotten nothing but good reviews from them - so here you go.

Brownie Layer
6 oz dark chocolate
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1 2/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt chocolate and butter over medium heat till just melted. Cream sugar and butter in mixer - add in vanilla and salt. Put mixer on low and add in cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in flour then walnuts.
Grease and line and grease wax paper in a 9x13 pan. Pour into prepared pan. Set aside.

Cookie Layer
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, unsalted butter softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz dark chocolate chips

Stir together dry. Cream together butter, sugars, and eggs, then vanilla. Add dry, fold in chips. Spread cookies over brownies.
Bake at 350 for about an hour until done. Let cool. Lift out with wax paper. Cut into bars.
Deep dark brownies. I love the density and fudginess of them. The chocolate chip cookies are crispy on the top then you bite into a piece of fudge. Dorie Greenspan (in Baking From My Home To Yours) really comes through. This is my first, but definitely not last, recipe from this book.

Peanut Butter Granola

I love trying new kinds of granola - both homemade and store bought. I picked up two great ones from Whole Foods this week while my mother was here. Dad liked both of them too.
WE also made one from a recipe I've been holding on to for many months now. The original recipe was from Canadian Living, but who knows how far it has come from there.

Peanut Butter Granola

1/2 cup apple juice (I used simply apple)
1/3 cup natural pb (I used Skippy Natural Creamy)
1/4 cup honey (I used Kentucky Straight Honey - wildflower)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
4 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup craisins
1/3 cup chopped dates

Melt through salt over low heat till pb is melted and all is combined. Fold into oats and almonds. Bake at 350 on a lightly "pam"ed large baking sheet with sides (or 2 smaller ones). Bake for 15 minutes, stirring twice. Add fruit, cook for another 15 or so, stirring till desired doneness.

I've heard its not as sweet as some and chewy - so that is a good thing. And it does taste like peanut butter, even though there isn't much in it!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Taste of Louisville: Bazos

There is a little place here in St. Matthews I've been wanting to try - Bazos. My Mom will try anything - so we went yesterday on the recommendation from Timothy and Rayann.
It would be good because I walked in and they were playing the Gator/Vol bball game - even though the Gators lost - still...
It was completely empty on a Sunday at 430 - don't know if that's a good sign...and the service was still about 10 minutes - so...
They have a frequent diner card, so anything where I can eventually get something free is good.
Prices weren't bad either - entrees ranging from $2.50-7.00.
So, we got the Baja Fish tacos - which everyone raves about them here in the Ville. I took one bite of the lightly breaded, wrapped in two tortillas, lime, tilapia - and knew I didn't need to eat anymore. There was no taste and it was slightly rubbery.
So, we also got the Shrimp burrito - sauteed small shrimp, black beans, rice, sour cream, cheese, thin tortilla - well worth the $6.50. It was really tasty. I had some of their generic, nothing special chips and made my half of the burrito "naked" and scooped it up with the chips.
So, I would rank it a A- for price, C+ atmosphere (it was clean and easy to get to), F for the fish tacos, and an A for the shrimp burrito.
Will I go back - sure. Will it become a regular - probably not, but there is more to try on the menu too.