Welcome to One Little Corner of the World. I share with you new recipes, some family recipes, and the antics of my kids. Enjoy reading!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Presto Pasta Night and BBQ Spaghetti

Presto Pasta is a fun blogging event that I just love – maybe because I love pasta, who knows? Anyway, for this week, I chose to try BBQ Spaghetti. It is something I tried at Marlowe’s in Memphis, TN this past summer. Yummy, Yummy. I blogged about Marlowe's this past summer. Before we went to Memphis, I scoured the restaurant scene, looking for really interesting places to eat. Marlowe’s is close to Elvis’ house, complete with a pink limo in the front, and a piggy vehicle. Fried pickles were also on the menu, and I tried those as well. I am now a fried pickle person. Too bad they are fattening, I would eat them every day.

I bought a pork butt, put some Memphis rub on it and slow roasted it for several hours in my mini electric roaster. After I let the meat cool a little while, I separated it with a fork and added it to readymade barbeque sauce.



Barbeque Spaghetti

One pork butt – 4-5 lbs
Memphis Rub - I made a double batch.
Barbeque Sauce
½ to 1 cup Beef stock
1 scoop pasta water
½ to 1 cup Juice from pork butt
1 lb spaghetti cooked per package directions
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheddar and Monterey

Slow cook pork butt at 275 degrees with Memphis rub liberally rubbed on butt. When meat is falling apart, pork is done. Remove from roaster and let cool. Tear meat apart with fork and place in stock pot with barbeque sauce of choice – I used KC Masterpiece original. Bring mixture to a near boil and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook pasta.

To mixture, add 1 scoop of pasta water, beef stock, and juices from pork – adjust liquids to desired consistency. Stir and heat through. Add pasta to sauce mixture and combine. Top with cheddar and jack cheese and serve.

I know I used linguini; that was all I hadI set some of the pork and bbq sauce aside so that Hubby could have some bbq sandwiches, which he loves.

This week’s – the first of 2009 - Presto Pasta Night is being hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast. She always does a fabulous job. Stop by and take a look at all the terrific creations!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holidays and Cookies


With the holidays, it has been extremely hectic. Not only was I not done with my Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve, but I had to get all my grades in before I left school on December 19. This time of year is always very, very busy. I love Christmas though, and have had a blast watching my kids thoroughly enjoy the holiday.

I took a picture of the boys with their Lincoln logs set after they built it for the first time. They love to put things together like Legos and Lincoln logs. Now, they want to build an entire Lego village. I have no idea where we would put that.

I didn’t get much of a chance to bake cookies this year, but I did make some pumpkin muffins and chocolate cookies with the boys one day. The boys and I are making some sugar cookies next week. One of my Christmas presents from my secret Santa, who also happens to be a good friend of mine, gave me The Cookie and Biscuit Bible. I have several recipes tagged that I will be hopefully be making soon.

Our Christmas was filled with laughter and thankfulness. Laughter because watching the kids is always a joy. Thankfulness because we are so blessed. I hope you all had as great a holiday as me and my family did.

Chocolate Crackle Tops

7 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
1 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar for coating

In a pan set over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in the sugar and continue stirring for 2-3 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Gradually stir into the chocolate mixture in batches, until blended.

Cover the dough, chill for at least an hour until the dough is cold and able to hold its shape.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two or more baking sheets.

Place the confectioner’s sugar in a deep bowl. Using a small ice-cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop out the cold dough and between the palms of your hands, roll into ½ inch balls.

Drop each ball into the icing sugar and roll until heavily coated. Remove with a slotted spoon and tap against the side of the bowl to remove excess sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets about 1 ½ inch apart.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the tops feel slightly firm when touched. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack for 2-3 minutes, then with a metal spatula place the cookies on the wire rack to cool completely.
These were the cookies that were served to Santa - there were none left in the morning.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Taste and Create - Super Bowl Buffalo Chicken Panini

I know it has been a while since I posted; life just gets so hectic. With the holidays coming up and final exams that nearly drove me crazy, I have just been so busy. Working, taking care of kids, not doing laundry, and just trying to keep up is a job. I never know whether I am coming or going. In fact, tomorrow, I have to complete my Christmas shopping – yes, on Christmas Eve, I will be hitting the mall. Can’t wait.

For this month’s Taste and Create, I was paired with HoneyB of The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch. Her blog is a treasure trove of baked goods – for my next baking foray, that is where I am going to search for recipes. She has a wonderful blog, full of stories and wonderful dishes, many of which I wanted to try. After looking thoroughly through her blog, I found a Panini recipe, which was really cool, as I recently purchased a Panini pan.

I happened to find the Super Bowl Buffalo Chicken Panini. As Hubby loves buffalo chicken, it was a slam dunk for me. The only change I really made was to add fresh spinach to the sandwich, because I really like some kind of lettuce on my sandwich. I also used onion rolls for my bread choice. Next time I make them, I will have to add some heat for Hubby. He really likes spice. I liked the flavor – I don’t feel the need to burn my mouth and clean my sinuses.

Taste and create is a great event that gives food bloggers the opportunity to cook other bloggers’ recipes and blog about them. Nicole from For the Love of Food hosts the event at her Taste and Create site. Come check it out sometime!!!

Super Bowl Buffalo Chicken Panini

1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced into 1/2″ strips
12-oz. bottle of Buffalo wing sauce (i.e., Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce)
1 large red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 tablespoons butter plus one tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar – I didn’t use this. I added salt
4-6″ pita breads – I used Onion rolls
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup of Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Add chicken and Buffalo wing sauce and 1 tablespoon butter to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through well.

While the chicken is simmering, heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onions for 13 minutes or until soft. Stir in sugar and sauté for another 10 minutes or until onions are caramelized. Set aside.

Preheat the Panini griddle.

Put olive oil in bottom of grill, make sandwiches and place on hot grill. Drizzle oil on top bun and place heated top of Panini grill over sandwich. Sandwiches were layerd as follows: Bottom bun, spinach, bleu cheese crumbles, chicken, onions, mozzarella cheese, and top bun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Leftovers

Oooh, I love Thanksgiving. Foodwise, it has to be one of my favorite holidays of all times – my thanks to the pilgrims who started this fabulous tradition. Anyway, dinner was at our house this year, and I got to do a lot of the cooking. We had the usual fare; turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, salad, pumpkin pie, asparagus, cranberry sauce, and homemade bread.

I did a lot of research for this meal – I know, I am a bit of a food nerd. Finding the perfect recipe was a bit difficult – there were so many out there. I settled on Martha Stewart’s turkey. For a moister turkey, she puts cheesecloth on the breast and marinates with butter and wine. I guess you could say we had a drunken turkey. The stuffing recipe used ingredients that I remembered my mom using when she cooked thanksgiving dinner. Tyler Florence said that if we made his Grainy Mustard Mashed Potatoes, people would say they were the best potatoes ever – he was right. The bread w as your basic white bread recipe and the asparagus was roasted with prosciutto and topped with hollandaise sauce. My sister-in-law made the pumpkin pie; my son loved it, my brother-in-law’s girlfriend made banana pudding – a family tradition in her home, and my mother-in-law made oyster stuffing. I tried to make jellied cranberry sauce for my brother-in-law's girlfriend; two times. It didn't work either time, and I totally blame the reicpe. I found it on the net. When it didn't work the first time, I thought it was because I used the wrong type of jello - it wasn't. I think it just wasn't enough jello for the amount of cranberries the reicpe called for. I am going to stay on the lookout for a good recipe and try again. My kids were excited to try it, and they want me to make it again and actually have it work. Thank goodness I bought a can of sauce as a backup.

Since I made a 20 pound turkey, I did have some leftovers. Because I had family over, I didn’t take any pictures of my meal but I do have pictures of some of my leftovers. I took the carcass and made turkey stock – I was able to freeze some. With the rest, I made turkey and noodles. That was a fabulous dish!!! I love thanksgiving and the feelings I get. I remember my family – those who are far away, and those who aren’t here anymore. I felt my mom and my grandma as I cooked dinner. I know my mom was trying to tell me to put more eggs in the dressing, and my grandma thought I used too much butter with the turkey. I hope they are proud of me and my family.

Turkey Stock

Turkey carcass
Fresh garlic
Carrots
Celery
Onion
Salt
Pepper
Sage
Thyme
Rosemary

Put all ingredients in large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, return to simmer and simmer for 2-3 hours. Remove bones and meat, let cool. Separate meat from bone and set aside. Strain liquid, discard everything else. Let stock cool; use or store in containers and freeze.

Turkey and Noodles

1 lb. noodles
4 cups turkey stock
Leftover turkey – cut into bite size pieces
Parsley chopped
Sage chopped
Rosemary chopped
Poultry seasoning
Panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Flour for slurry
Romano cheese – grated

Cook noodles per package directions. Add to heated stock with turkey and herbs except parsley. Combine and put in casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs, cheese, and parsley. Bake in 375 degree oven until cheese melts and starts to brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Presto Pasta Nights and Spaghetti Tacos

This may be the silliest entry I have ever written, and I am writing this for Presto Pasta Nights. This is a weekly event that has a different host for each event. This week’s event is being held by Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast.

I have two small boys who love to watch TV. One of the shows they watch is ICarly, a show about kids who have their own web show. It is actually quite funny and I will watch the odd episode or two with my kids. Anyway, I digress, sort of. On ICarly, the older brother is often shown cooking. One of the dinners he seems to cook quite often – or I just keep seeing the same episode over and over – is spaghetti tacos. The boys have seen those tacos and wanted me to try to make them. So I did. The boys, however, had a problem eating the tacos and they quickly reverted to regular spaghetti. A couple of nights later, I was watching my neighbor's kids and the little boy was so excited because I could make Spaghetti Tacos. He loved them - in fact he kept saying "Too good" the whole time he was eating. I am thinking that his mom will soon be making Spaghetti Tacos for him.

It is really quite easy; just make your favorite spaghetti. My sauce recipe comes from our babysitter, who is a fabulous cook. I know because I see her food and smell it all the time! She tells me that this recipe comes from an Italian cook she knows.

Spaghetti Sauce, compliments of my babysitter

2 lbs hamburger – sausage would be good here too, or a combination of both.
4 cans tomato paste
2 cups of water for each can of tomato paste
Finely grated parmesan cheese
Basil
Oregano
Olive oil
Garlic
Sugar

She gave me no measurements. I cooked the meat, drained it added olive oil and garlic to the pan – I used a 4-6 quart stockpot – cooked the garlic for 2-3 minutes and added the meat back. Add the tomato paste and water, combine. Add other herbs, sugar, and salt and pepper to pot and simmer for 1 hour. Add cheese, combine to melt. Cook for another 15-20 minutes and serve with your favorite pasta.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Taste and Create - Stir Fried Shrimp with Ginger and Scallion

For this month’s Taste and Create, an event hosted by Nicole from For the Love of Food, I was paired up with Christine from Kit’s Chow. Her blog is filled with tasty and interesting recipes. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by, please do; and tell her I said “hi!” Anyway, in her description, she said that her blog is bits of her life stir-fried together. I liked that, so I chose a recipe this month that called for my handy, dandy wok.

While most of her recipes are South Beach Diet friendly, a lot of them have an oriental flair. Christine cooks a lot with rice, vegetables, and eggs. Not knowing much about the South Beach diet, I have found her blog to be interesting and informative. One entry I found very interesting, was the one about pigs’ trotters. I wanted to make that, but I didn’t get up the gumption, nor did I have access to the vinegar required for the recipe. If I find the vinegar, I just might have to give the pigs’ trotters a go.

Anyway, I decided after careful inspection of Christine’s blog, to make her Stir Fried Shrimp with Ginger and Scallion. While I did make one teeny, weeny mistake, I think the shrimp turned out pretty well. My mistake was to peel the shrimp – it is something I just do without thinking. Peeling them caused them to be more salty than they would have been otherwise. The only other thing that was different was that I had to use powdered ginger vs. fresh ginger. Cooking the shrimp in the wok is one of my favorite ways to prepare shrimp. The quick cooking, the high heat, the oil, and the corn starch all added to the flavor and texture of the shrimp.

I love doing Taste and Create – it gives me the opportunity to look at someone else’s blog and to try different recipes. I have already bookmarked a couple of other recipes from Kit’s Chow to try.

Below is the recipe straight from Christine’s blog: try it and enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 lb of shrimps
A large nob of ginger, thinly-sliced and cut into shreds
2 pieces of green onions, cut into shreds
1/4 cup of thin soy sauce
PepperSesame oil
2 tablespoons of coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons of cornstarch or tapioca starch
Oil

Method:
Clean the shrimps by rubbing it with the coarse salt. Rinse salt off.
Marinate the shrimps with sesame oil, pepper and cornstarch
Heat the wok and add the oil. Swirl it around the pan and add the ginger and scallions. Stir fry a bit.

Add the shrimps and stir fry. You may need to add a bit more oil.
Pour the soy sauce over the shrimps and stir everything together until shrimps are cooked through.
Dish up and serve.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fall and Winter Soups - Entry Two - Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Spinach

Ok, this is the second of my soup entries. I used to go hang out at Baldo’s, an Italian restaurant my friend worked at near my old apartment in St. Louis. Every time I went there I would always order the tortellini soup, with tortellini floating around in a lovely clear broth. There was nothing better than that soup on a cold winter’s night.

This recipe is a modification or combination of two tortellini soup recipes that I found a few years ago. It is so simple to make and so tasty – if you want some spice, just add cayenne or red pepper flakes.

Soup is always a very comforting food that warms from the inside when it is frosty and chilly on the outside. I love to eat soup, especially in the winter, but I have been known to make them in the summer.

I was looking through one of my cookbooks earlier this evening, and I have found a few really interesting soups to make. I think my next soup recipe is either going to be a roasted tomato soup or a soba noodle soup.

A quick easy soup that can be a meal. This will take the chill off any winter day.

Tortelinni Soup with Sausage and Spinach

1 lb. mild Italian Sausage
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb cheese tortellini
1 bag fresh spinach
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste
3 quarts beef stock
Parmesan cheese

Slice sausage and render in stock pot. When sausage is near to finishing, add garlic, thyme and fennel. Drain grease from pan, deglaze with beef stock. Bring stock to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add tortellini to pot and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Serve immediately and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

French Toast for the Boys

Tuesday was Veteran's Day and we were lucky to be off as a family. I decided to make French Toast for the boys. Making them reminded me about making them for my grandparents when I was a kid. I beat the eggs, added cinnamon and milk. I then proceeded to make french toast for the three of us. It was really good, but I used too much egg and had some left over.

My grandma wanted me to scramble the rest and eat them - just to let you know that, while french toast tastes very good with the dash of cinnamon, it doesn't translate very well to plain scrambled eggs. I guess I learned my lesson as I had nary a drop of egg mixture left when I made them for my family this week.

Making the french toast for them reminded them about breakfast for dinner. My boys love breakfast at dinnertime, so Friday, I made scrambled eggs - no cinnamon - and hash browns with sausage. That was okay, they said, but next time, they want blue cornmeal pancakes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cube Steak with Gravy and Noodles

As I have stated before, we get a side of beef each year. With it comes many different cuts of beef. We love the steaks and roasts, but are sometimes wondering what we should do with some of our cuts. Cube steak is one of those cuts. I know that you can make Country Fried Steak, but I like to try somewhat healthier alternatives. For dinner tonight, I decided to make Cube Steak and Gravy.

I just bought a 5 quart Le Creuset Braiser and decided to try it out with my cube steaks. I sautéed my steaks in olive oil, removed them from the pan, added garlic and onion, and sautéed that. After the onions and garlic were sautéed; I deglazed my pan with red wine. To the onions and garlic, I added beef stock and steak seasoning, some roux to thicken my gravy.

While my dinner was cooking, a lovely aroma filled the house. There are some things I really love about cold weather – one of them being the comfort food that I always love to make.

Cube Steaks with Gravy and Noodles

3 lb cube steak cut into about 2 in pieces.
Salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion chopped
2 tsp steak seasoning
1 -2 jars – 6 oz sliced mushrooms, or fresh. Whichever you prefer. I used jarred because I had them in my pantry.
1 quart beef stock
½ to 1 cup red wine
Olive oil – two turns of the pan
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 large sprig rosemary, minced
1 lb noodles – your choice. I used Gemelli and my kids loved their shape!
1 handful parsley chopped

Season steaks with salt and pepper. Heat up pan with olive oil to medium high, brown steaks in pan. Remove meat and sauté onions and garlic until softened. Deglaze pan with red wine. Add beef stock and steak seasoning, bring to a slow boil. While bringing to a boil make a light brown roux with butter and flour mixture. Add to hot liquid and stir until starts to thicken. Put steaks back into pan with mushrooms and reduce heat to a simmer. Add rosemary and simmer for 30 minutes

About 10 minutes before steaks are ready, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add 1 ½ tbsp butter to hot noodles and stir to combine.

Add parsley to steak and gravy mixture, stir. To serve put noodles on bottom of plate, add steak and gravy and serve.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fall and Winter Soups - Entry One - Garlic Black Bean and Sausage Soup

While I just love summer, there are some things about fall and winter that I truly love. Summer vegetables are great – tomatoes on the vine, cucumbers, fresh salads; those can’t be beat. Fall and winter though, are the time for soups, stews, chilies, and comfort foods. On the first somewhat chilly night, I decided to make a hearty, easy as pie soup for dinner called Garlic, Black Bean, and Sausage Soup. It is hearty enough to be a meal in itself.

The flavors of this soup have a Cuban influence. The sausage is enhanced by the fennel and the garlic gives it the extra umph that makes it a great soup. The tomatoes add a freshness and the sour cream smoothes everything and brings the flavors together. I garnished the soup with green onions even though it doesn't call for it in the recipe. They added a nice fresh flavor that goes well with the tomatoes.

Garlic, Black Bean, and Sausage Soup

12 oz bulk mild Italian sausage
1 ½ cups chopped onion
10 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp fennel seed, crushed
2 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 ½ ounce can beef broth or stock
Dash ground red pepper – optional
¼ cup sour cream
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp snipped fresh oregano

In a large saucepan cook sausage, onion, garlic, and fennel seed over medium high heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until sausage is thoroughly cooked. Drain well.

Stir in the black beans and beef broth. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, if desired, stir the red pepper into the sour cream. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, stir the tomatoes and oregano into soup; heat through. Top each serving with sour cream mixture.

This recipe is easy, tasty, and marvelous. While it tastes great the first night, try doubling it so that there are leftovers – they taste great too!

This will hopefully be the first of many soup entries for the winter season. I would love to hear some ideas for soups as well. Send me your links for soups that you like to cook! I will put them on my blog!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pasta Presto Night - Steak Pasta with Gorgonzola and Spinach

My weeks seem to get busier and busier. I don’t know where the time goes, but go it does. I have been trying to make food ahead as I don’t have time every night of the week to cook. I don’t mind ordering out occasionally, but I don’t want to get into that habit.

For this week's Pasta Presto, I decided to showcase a new pasta I created. Presto Pasta Night is a weekly event that has a different host each week. This week Pasta Presto Night is being hosted by Presto Pasta Nights.

Last weekend, we cooked quite a bit. Hubby grilled arm steak – from our side of beef, hamburgers, and backbone, which are actually large pork chops. He ate the pork, we all ate the burgers, and I turned the arm steak into a very tasty pasta dish.

I really enjoy looking in my fridge and creating something new to my family and me. I saw the steak, knew I had to do something with it; I also remembered the gorgonzola cheese I had purchases recently on the Hill. The spinach I saw confirmed what I was going to make; Steak pasta with gorgonzola and spinach.

It was actually very easy. I based my dinner off a recipe I sometimes make called Linguini with Butter, Pecorino, Arugula and Black Pepper. In this recipe the sauce was made in the same bowl the pasta was served in. I did the same thing. I warmed the bowl, melted my butter, added salt and pepper, and then put in the pasta, cheese, steak and spinach. I mixed everything up and served. It was an easy, very tasty dish that I will make again soon.

Pasta with Steak, Spinach, and Gorgonzola Cheese

2 ¼ lb. arm steaks grilled rare with sea salt and pepper and sliced thin
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 lb gorgonzola cheese crumbled
½ stick butter melted
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2-3 large handfuls fresh spinach
1 lb pasta – your choice
2 ladles pasta water

Cook pasta per package directions, making sure to add salt to the boiling water. Meanwhile, slice steak in short thin strips and reheat in 2 tablespoons olive oil until heated through. Set aside. Warm a serving bowl, add melted butter, salt and pepper. When pasta is finished add to bowl along with cheese, spinach, and steak. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taste and Create - Tuna Chili Mac

I feel horrible. I have been so busy with school, my new writing gig, and life at home that I completely forgot about this month’s Taste and Create. As soon as I remembered, I looked through my partner, Stephanie from Fun Foods on a Budget’s; recipes and she has quite a few interesting ones, but I was limited to recipes where I had all the ingredients. Luckily I found Tuna Chili Mac. Not only did I have all the ingredients, but I love tuna, chili, and noodles. This was a quick easy recipe for me to make tonight. I used a rigatoni noodle and didn’t put in the lentils, because I didn’t have any in my pantry. I put the pasta in front of the kids and the verdict: Yummy!!!!!

The only change I would make is to put more seasonings in it to give it a more chili taste. I am really glad that I had to scour my cabinets as this is one dish I will definitely make again. Thanks Stephanie for an easy dinner fix!


Tuna Chili Mac
8 oz. elbow macaroni
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can tuna, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, partially drained (leave some of the juice with the tomatoes)
1/2 cup cooked lentils (or canned corn, drained)
1 tsp. each chili powder, cumin
1/2 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder
1/4 cup french fried onions
2-3 oz. shredded cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain, then return to pan. Add soup, tuna, tomatoes, lentils, and seasonings. Heat through. Sprinkle with french fried onions and shredded cheese. Cover and heat until cheese melts. Great served with tortilla chips (or crackers).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dinner on Foodbuzz

Last week I had the opportunity to have dinner with some foodies at a restaurant in Clayton, MO, which is right outside St. Louis. The dinner was organized by Foodbuzz – a fabulous foodie website. Kelly from Sounding my Barbaric Gulp, Stef from the Cupcake Project and I were the foodies in attendance. We went to the Crossing, a contemporary restaurant that serves the freshest food St. Louis has to offer.

All of us chose to have one of the tasting menus offered by the restaurant. There are two tasting menus offered; The Crossing Tasting Menu and the Premium Tasting Menu. I chose the Premium Tasting Menu. For my first course I sampled the beef tartare with a farm fresh egg. It reminded me somewhat of my childhood as my mother loved tartare.

For my second course I tried the pan seared sea scallops; Stef’s husband also tried them. We both thought they were somewhat overcooked. The staff was extremely pleasant about correcting the order and the chef even came out to make sure we were happy with our corrected order. The scallops were very tender and the truffle oil was excellent.

For my third course, I chose the beef tenderloin with pomme puree and bleu cheese. The bleu cheese was a quite different touch for me and it added a sharp zing to the dish. While the tenderloin was small, the flavor was wonderful and the meat very tender.

For my dessert I chose the warm chocolate torte but with Ice Cream. It was probably one of the best desserts I have eaten, and I actually ate every bite.

Even though I don’t know what kind of wine I had, I enjoyed it. I liked the wine service too – they serve the wine in a small decanter with a large wine glass. It is the way wine is supposed to be served. I really enjoyed my dinner and truly enjoyed meeting some of the people whose blogs I read. It is great to put a personality and a face with the blogs I enjoy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins and Kids

So I am sitting here with a can of pumpkin and no pie shells – I am awful at making pie shells so that is out. Anyway, after looking through cookbooks and online, I found a pumpkin muffin recipe at Cooks.com. Benny helped me make them – he put the muffin cups in the pan and turned the mixer off and on for me. I couldn’t have done it without him. So far, Sam has eaten about 10 and Benny around 5. I made them two days ago. I love it when I make something they actually like. So often, I bake and they like it…..a little. Not that I am keeping records, but so far, they really like my pumpkin muffins and friendship bread the best. Oh yea, the cookies I made a few weeks ago went over well too.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Herbs, Family, and Authors

Sometimes it gets really busy; life can be hectic. These past couple of weeks have been hectic for me. Not only did I go to Canada for a weekend with my family, I got to go to Illinois State University to see Elie Wiesel – a Holocaust survivor, humanitarian, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and author. He wrote Night, an account of his time in Auschwitz during WWII. I teach it to my sophomores every year. It was great to be able to hear him talk – probably one of my best days.


Anyway, I haven’t had much of a chance to work on my blog. Not that I have made anything new – I made pesto for my son. I wanted to share it with you all because on Saturday the boys and I went to my friend’s house for a play date. We ate pizza and drank wine – the boys drank juice. My friend has a very nice herb garden and gave us basil, mint, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, and sage. It all smelled so good. I used the basil tonight for my pesto. I also bought spedini meat, fresh mozzarella, and prosciutto on the hill. I rolled the prosciutto and cheese in the spedini meat seasoned with salt and pepper and olive oil. Dinner was at the table with the family. Those are the best times – sharing with family and friends.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Soft Shell Crab for Sunday Dinner

I am always looking for interesting items to cook. When we were on vacation before the boys were born, Hubby and I took a vacation out east. Not only did we go to Williamsburg, we also went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. That was one of the first times we had soft shell crab. It was really, really good. I thought about that dinner when I saw the soft shell crab on sale at the grocery store.

Having never cooked crab before, I had to search on the internet to find a video that showed how to clean soft shell crab. I must admit that I felt pretty silly in the kitchen, cleaning crab, watching a video, cleaning crab – you get the picture. Anyway, I also looked up recipes for crab and decided on frying. Next time I will try a different way.

Anyway, I found that most people did the same thing when frying soft shell crab. The crab is cleaned – see video – then soaked in buttermilk with crab boil seasoning, kosher salt, and pepper. Soak for one hour in the refrigerator. Take out of refrigerator, drain excess milk and dredge in flour heavily seasoned with kosher salt and pepper. Fry in a large shallow skillet three minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel.

I served my crab with salad. For my salad, I used romaine lettuce, hard boiled eggs, pancetta, tomatoes, feta cheese, and ranch dressing – I was getting a little lazy by this time, so I just used my store bought dressing. I had planned on making green goddess dressing from scratch, but scrapped the idea and took the easy way out. The crab was wonderful – I will definitely make it again.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Gravlax with Mustard Sauce

I saw Ina's episode of Barefoot Contessa where she made Gravlax with Mustard Sauce quite a while ago. I decided that I really wanted to try to make it myself. Gravlax is a Scandinavian style of preparing fish. The fish is cured for three days in its own juices, salt, sugar, pepper, fennel, and dill. Not being a difficult dish to make, I decided to try it. This post will take a couple of days - I will add to the post each day that I check my salmon. More to come tomorrow! See ya then!!


Put a smaller pan over the salmon and weight with heavy cans


Place other piece of salmon over the first, skin side up


Step 3 - Put seasoning evenly over salmon and dill

Put a large bunch of dill over salmon
Take one 3 pound piece of salmon and cut in half. Put on half in deep pan skin side down

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Soup, Travel, Family, and Living Green

I just got back from a trip to Canada yesterday – got to spend time with family. It was great. Since it was such a fast trip, though, I arrived home tired. Flying out early Saturday morning meant I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to get to the airport on time. There are several things about Canada that I like. The main thing being that live a much greener life than we do. They even have plans to ban bottled water.

Anyway, on to dinner. The whole time I was gone I wanted to cook dinner for my family. Strange I know, but that is just the way it is. The night I got home, I ended up ordering out because I was just tired, tired, tired. Tonight though, I decided to make Beef Vegetable Noodle Soup. I did use one pound of sausage and one pound of beef, so maybe I should call it Sausage Beef Vegetable Noodle Soup. It was my aunt's recipe, and Benny was sure to point out to me that Aunt Violet's carrots are better than mine - oh well, at least he eats carrots. I will have to call my aunt and see what carrots she uses.

1 lb ground sausage
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced
½ medium head cabbage cut into small pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 quarts beef stock
1 can 14 oz. diced tomatoes
¾ lb. frozen mixed vegetables
1 tbsp chili powder
¾ lb noodles – your choice

Brown meat in large stock pot, drain meat. Add onions, garlic and cabbage, cook until cabbage is wilted and soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and beef stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil add noodles, chili powder and vegetables. Cook until noodles are done. Serve immediately.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Presto Pasta Night

This is my second Presto Pasta night hosted by Once Upon a Feast. Not wanting to go to the store, I decided to clean out my fridge and see what I could come up with for this week.

For this week’s Pasta Presto night I decided to make a chicken pasta. I just looked in my fridge and pulled out some ingredients to cook. What was created was liked by both my husband and me. I really like experimenting with flavors and textures – sometimes it turns out well, sometimes not so good. This time, the result was very tasty.

1 lb linguini pasta cooked per package directions and drained
1 ½ lbs chicken breast tenders, diced up
1-2 tbsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
2 pinches crushed red pepper – more if spicier taste
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
¾ cup quartered artichokes
3 cups fresh spinach, cleaned
½ cup heavy cream
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp parsley chopped

Combine chicken, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning – set aside. Heat up oil in large skillet. Sauté chicken in olive oil over medium to medium high heat. Add garlic thyme and pepper; cook for 1-2 minutes or until garlic gets soft. Remove chicken, add wine and stock; bring to boil and reduce by one third; add chicken back to skillet; cook until chicken is just done. Add artichokes and spinach, cover and wilt. Stir to combine. Add cream, cooked pasta, parmesan cheese and parsley; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, serve immediately.