Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
I love going out to eat but I hate trying a new place out without any idea if the food will be good. Today was a prime example of why. We decided to get a bite to eat with the kids after seeing the Muppet's. My kids really wanted a hot dog and my husband was craving a hamburger. So we walked into a place called Yard House. I asked for a table for 4. As the waitress is walking us to our table I am scanning the tables to see what food looks good. That was my first warning because there wasn't a single thing that was to my liking. Then we were greeted with a very nice waitress and Menus with about 7 pages. That was my second warning. I normally try to steer clear of places that have a menu with more than 2 pages. It is a huge sign that the food is average at best. While Ben was in the bathroom I scanned the menu and my eyes stopped on the Roast beef dip. I'm from Seattle where french dips are very common. It is also one of my favorite sandwiches. I talked Ben into it because we can order a burger just about anywhere but a french dip is something you never see in a NYC restaurant. My kids each order a $6.95 hot dog with fries and drink. We waited awhile for our food and once it arrived I asked Brody if he wanted mustard and ketchup on his hot dog. He said no because he wasn't really that hungry. This is the same child who 30 minutes ago was begging me for a hot dog at the movie theatre. I don't like bringing my children to restaurants for this reason alone. The food is over priced and they never eat it. I got quite angry with him and told he not only is he not allowed any candy for the rest of day he is going to give me $6.95 cents for his meal. He basically looked at me like....ok. Now that used to work with Coolidge but nothing will make Brody do anything he doesn't want to do. I then began to eat my sandwich. One bite and I noticed there was way too much fat on the meat. So I opened it up to remove the fat. I took another bite and realized it was disgusting and it had nothing to do with the fat. The bread was supposed to be toasted garlic french bread. It wasn't toasted shit it was not even warm. I told the waitress it was horrible and that I didn't want it. Ben just shrugged his shoulders and ate his. I told him I am not eating it. They said they could make me another but at this point I was done and just wanted to leave. We asked for the check and the waitress brought us the bill with the sandwich still on it. I told Ben and I am not paying for that sandwich. I got up walked over to my waitress and told her I wanted to see the manager. She escorted me back to my table like I was so crazy and said she would bring him over right away. I got myself all prepared for a fight. You see in NY they don't just take stuff off the menu without a fight so I am preparing myself to tell him just what I think of his sandwich. He walked right up to my table and before I could get 2 words out he tells me I am sorry mam that your sandwich was not made properly. I have already taken it off your bill and handed me the new bill and took away the old one. I was speechless because I have never in all my 15 years in NY fix the problem without a battle.
This experience is exactly why I only go to eat at places that are recommended and why I constantly go back to the same places and order things I know that will make it worth every penny. It is just not right to spend $11.95 on a sandwich that made me want to gag. I know some of you may think she must just be some sort of food snob. But actually I'm not. I still like to eat the same frozen Geno's pizza from the freezer section that cost $1.50 since I was a kid. I just think you should be able to get something better when you go out to eat and spend all that money.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I just love sandwiches. One of my favorites is the classic BLT. They are so easy to make but can be made poorly if you don't remember these 5 steps. 1. A good BLT needs at least 3 strips of bacon but I would prefer 4. 2. A ripe tomato is also essential. I HATE when I order one in a restaurant and the tomato is mealy or pink in color. I just gagged a little bit thinking about it. 3. Lettuce is the least important but still to make the sandwich delish, I like either iceberg or romaine. To me a BLT needs that crunch. 4. You can't be skimpy with mayo. Don't get me wrong I don't want you to go crazy but feel free to lap a good layer of mayo on. Let's face it if you are counting calories or need to lose weight this is not the sandwich for you. 5. The BREAD. I like mine on 2 slices of Italian bread (lightly toasted). Don't get me wrong I will eat it on whole wheat but something about Italian bread makes this sandwich just right. You only want to toast the bread lightly because the crunch of the bacon and lettuce becomes too much if the bread is too HARD.
Monday, November 21, 2011
I was checking out other food blogs and found one who posted potato skins. It is inspired me to try and make my own. I love to order this at a bar/restaurant but find that they rarely make them delish. I bought small potatoes because I feel they should be eaten in 3 bites. I cleaned them wrapped them in foil and baked them at 400 degrees until I could stick a knife in easily. Nothing worse then an uncooked potato. Then I took her tip and removed the foil immediately and set them out to cool. She said this would keep skin from getting soggy. I can't tell you how many times I ordered them and they were a little soggy. I let them cool just enough so I could slice the potato in half and dig out the center leaving about a 1/4 inch of of the flesh. Her next tip was to brush with melted butter and broil for 6 - 8 minutes. I broiled for 6 minutes because my pan is very close to flame and they browned fast.
Then I added shredded cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and scallions. I like to dip mine in sour cream. They turned out delish and Ben and I gobbled them up like it was our last meal. Try them and let me know what you think. If you want to see her recipe, I attached her blog on my page. Click on favfamilyrecipes. She has some great ones.
Friday, November 18, 2011
I love Chinese take out but it is very rare that what I order is consistently delish. Sometimes it is too greasy. You get very little of the vegetable you like and and over abundance of the vegetable you don't like. The meat often is very fatty and sometimes it taste like it has been sitting under a warmer for hours. So I decided to make my own and I can't remember the last time we order take out. I took this recipe from a show on the Cooking Channel. One of my favorites is Chinese made easy. This looked so good that I made it. I changed a few things to fit what we like best. The first time I made it, it was too spicy for my kids and a little dry for me. Here is how I make it. I hope you try it and let me know what you think.
2 chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
1/4 tsp five spice
salt and pepper
1tsp chili sauce
couple of splashes of dark soy sauce
2 carrots sliced thinly
1 c. broccoli
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 c. bean sprouts
1/2 red or green bell pepper sliced thinly
2 tbs peanut oil
2 tbs. light soy sauce
Chinese egg noodles
Boil water in medium pot for noodles. The noodles are thin and cook very fast. I always get all my vegetable cut and ready before I heat pan because once the cooking starts it all goes very fast. I like to blanch broccoli for about 1 minute. If find it helps get the perfect texture for when I add it to the other chicken. Salt and pepper chicken. Then marinate chicken in cornstarch, chili sauce and dark soy. Heat wok or large saute pan with Peanut oil. Wait until pan is very HOT and then add chicken. Saute it until brown. Add all the vegetable except bean sprouts. I add them at the very end. Add noodles to the water and cook for only 3 minutes. I like to add a little water from the noodles to loosen all the bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. It give you a nice sauce and makes it less dry. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add bean sprouts mix all together then add noodle. toss and serve. I love to cook this because it is a one pot meal.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I love making Stew for many reasons. It is great because you can put it all in the crock pot in the morning and it cooks all day. This is nice because me and the kids don't get home until 5pm. I usually have to get Coolidge started on his homework, Brody situated and playing quietly in his room, and then I am running through the kitchen to get dinner ready. Well, when I make stew I get to sit with both of them and relax. Another great reason is the whole dinner is all in one pot. It warms you up on a chilly fall day and it is just simply delish. I first found this recipe in a magazine but I have changed it to my liking over the years. I don't start my stew until after I drop the kids off at school, drink my coffee, eat breakfast, start a load of laundry and then around noon I get it all out and in the pot. So I cook mine on high. I didn't make it much when my kids were younger because they didn't like it. Now however, they devour it and there are no left overs.
1 package stew meat (chuck roast chopped)
1-2 potatoes chopped. I usually only use one because I put it over egg noodles
3 chopped carrots or couple hand fulls of carrots. I don't skimp on these because we all love them
2 stalks celery sliced
1 small onion diced.
half a can of beef broth
half a can of tomato sauce
1/2 c. flour
salt and pepper
2tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper meat and then flour each piece. In a HOT pan with a with oil, brown meat on both sides. Once the meat is brown on both sides put them in the crock pot. Take half can of beef broth and pour in the pan. I do this because it gets all the yummy bits off the pan along with the flour which helps make the gravy nice and thick. Add the rest of ingredients in the crock pot. Mix all around add a little more Salt and pepper and cook all day. If you start this in the morning put temperature on low. If you start at noon like me then cook it on high. The tomato sauce and beef broth make for a very good rich gravy. I love to put my stew over egg noodles but you can use rice or even mashed potatoes. I like all three. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Friday, November 11, 2011
I am a huge lover of sandwiches. One of my favorites which I originally learned how to make when I worked in the Nordstrom's cafe is the tuna melt. To me tuna should be simple with a little texture in it. In my tuna salad I like Albacore chunk tuna, chopped celery, chopped pickle, chopped scallions or red onion and salt and pepper. However, if you don't have all of these things in your fridge the most important is the onion. If I don't have the onion I don't even bother making the sandwich. If you add pickle don't add salt. All of them together make for a delish tuna salad. I don't like a lot of mayo in mine because I think it makes the sandwich to soggy. I add on top sharp cheddar cheese and as you can see I am not stingy with it. I Broil it for about 1 1/2 minutes with the top bun buttered and toasty. My favorite bun for this sandwich is the brioche. Not everyone can find brioche rolls and they can be quite expensive. My second favorite is hamburger bun with sesame seeds. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
I can albacore tuna
2 tbs red onion diced
2 tbs mayo
2 tbs diced celery
salt and pepper
2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
1 brioche bun
Drain tuna and then add to a small bowl. In this bowl mix in red onion, mayo, diced celery, and salt and pepper. Add two large spoon fulls to the bottom of your bun. Cover with cheddar cheese so that you barely see the tuna. Butter the top bun and broil for 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Nothing worse than a burnt bun and lets face it these buns are not cheap.
Monday, November 7, 2011
|Roasted Vegetables with Linguine|
I found this recipe out of one of my cooking magazines. It is very easy to make, low in calories, vegetarian, and quite delish. You have to roast the tomatoes for 45 minutes to an hour so it is best to make it when it is cold outside. The original recipe was made with just plum tomatoes but since then I have added squash and zucchini. You can add whatever vegetables you like best. The recipe calls for 10 tomatoes but I only used 5 last night because I only wanted to make half. If you are feeding 6 adults then you should roast 10-12.
10 - 12 plum tomatoes
1/2 c. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs Italian seasonings or what ever you like
salt and pepper
1 lb Linguine
Cut tomatoes in half and place them cut sides up on cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Mix olive oil and all other ingredients in bowl. Spoon 1/2 the mixture on top of the tomatoes. Roast these in a preheated oven of 400 degrees for about 45 to 60 minutes until tomatoes are soft and slightly brown. Cook pasta until al dente. Smash roasted vegetable with remaining oil mixture and then add pasta and toss until all the pasta is coated. plate and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
When I was 19 I used to live with my best friend Aj. She introduced me to cornbread pancakes. I fell in love back then and am still making them now. My husband and kids think they are delish. If you've never tried them you must make them once. It is very simple. Get yourself a box of Jiffy cornbread mix and follow the instructions. Today I made them with Jimmy Dean sausage. Every Sunday I make the kind of breakfast you need a nap after. Brody was very pleased that I made sausage because he was begging last weekend for me to make it instead of bacon. I love that salty and sweet combination. Try it and let me know what you think.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
I LOVE cookbooks. If I had a big house I would have a huge collection of cookbooks but because I live in a tiny NYC apartment I have to keep my books to a minimum. I decide my books based off two criteria. 1. They have to have at least 4 recipes I want to make and WILL make. 2. There must be photos that make my mouth water. I only get inspired to make something based of how it looks and/or how it tastes. I love Martha Stewart and Julia Child's but there cookbooks just don't fit my criteria. I recently found a cookbook because a friend of mine brought muffins to a get together. They were so delish that I had to find the book that she got them out of. It is called Muffins by Williams Sonoma. I have a few favorites in the book but today I made their jam filled muffins. They are ridiculously easy to make. Matter fact if you have your pantry stocked with basic baking supplies you can make these any day and it is easier than going out and buying them. Here's the recipe. Try them and let me know what you think.
2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbs unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract (if you don't have it no worries...I've skipped it and they are still delish)
1 1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. jam of your choice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 cup muffin pan. In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and sour cream until smooth. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not over mix.
Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it one-third full. Drop a heaping teaspoon of jelly or jam into the center, then cover with batter level with the rim of the cup.
Bake until golden, dry, and springy to the touch, 20-25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins. server warm or room temp.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Today I made chili because I needed to make soup for my soup swap. I started this swap about three years ago with a group of ladies who I meet monthly for breakfast. We always make soup in either October or November to help stock our freezers with all sorts of yummy soup for our families. It was a way to make one large pot and get about 6 different types of soup to enjoy all winter long. I chose to make a chili that my mom used to make for me. I believe she got this recipe from my grandpa. It is the sort of chili that has everything but the kitchen sink. It is tomato base and very thick. My mom's version is a little different and I will post both recipes so you can see how I took her recipe and altered it to what I like. I am not the kind of person who can wing it in the kitchen but once I have a recipe I can tweak it here and there to what I like best. My mom likes her chili very spicy- whenever my husband thinks about my mom's chili he starts to sweat, seriously. I like mine with just a kick. Let me know what you think.
My mom only uses chili/pink beans in hers but this time I decided to put black beans and pink beans in because I like both. I also wanted you to know that I cut up all the stewed tomatoes with scissors in the can. I do this because I love the flavor of the stewed tomatoes but I don't like big chunks of tomato in my chili. Most people think it is strange that I add tomato soup but like I said it is everything but the kitchen sink type chili. I like it because it makes it slightly sweet.
2- 15oz cans of chili beans (rinsed)
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 onion chopped
1 green bell pepper diced
1 can tomato soup
2 cans stewed tomatoes cut up
1 can tomato paste
2 cans tomato sauce
1 tbs cumin
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Basil
3 Tbs chili powder
I always following these ingredients but I change it slightly. I start with browning ground beef. I always season my meat with salt and pepper and herbs while it is cooking. I feel it makes the beef more flavorful. Then I add chopped onion, bell pepper and 1 jalapeno (like I said I only like a little kick so I add less than my mom.) Cook all of those until onionsare soft. While that is cooking drain and rinse the beans (I only use 2 cans of beans.) That is a very important. I made the mistake of not rinsing the beans and couldn't figure out why the chili was so thick. What I learned from watching a cooking show later was that the sauce they sit in is full of starch. I hate learning these lessons the hard way because food isn't cheap.
Add the rest of the ingredients and don't forget to chop stewed tomatoes before adding them- unless you like it that way. Add spices at the end. I eye ball the spices and then taste. I add about 2 tsp of basil and oregano. 1 tbls of cumin and about 3-4 tbs of chili powder. However, you may want more or less. I don't usually measure I just add it taste after it has been cooking and add more as it cooks. This time I add all spice and so far I think I will add that from now on. Like I said try it and change whatever you feel is you taste. My mom is still tweaking hers.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Today was one of those days I didn't have plan for dinner. I didn't feel like cooking but I also didn't want to spend $50-$70 on going out to eat. So I looked in my fridge and saw heavy cream. I immediately looked for Parmesan cheese and realized it was going to be a Fettuccine Alfredo for dinner. I have a recipe I found in one of my cooking magazines. I have about 3 different recipes but this I found was the most easy to make and the most delish. Try it and let me know what you think.
4 tbs butter
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Parmesan
salt and pepper
1 box of fettuccine
In a large pot with salted water, boil fettuccine pasta until al dente, about 12 minutes depending on the size you have. Drain and reserve about a cup of the water just in case the sauce gets too thick. In another large saute pan melt butter. Add heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper. Let it come to a simmer and get thicker. Add pasta and about 1 cup Parmesan cheese and toss together. add reserved water if needed.
Boiling pasta can be very easy if you just follow instructions from box or bag. They usually give something like 8-10 minutes or 11-13 minutes. I have learned that in order to get it perfect every time I pick the first number and set my timer. If you are going to add it to the sauce, remove pasta a minute or two earlier than that.