Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Visit to Louie's

We had a quick dinner at Louie's Pizza and Italian Restaurant. It's a locally-owned business that we used to frequent a lot, until they discontinued offering cioppino and changed their pizza crust. But, we decided to give them another chance. This was my dinner and I loved it. It was chicken cashew Gorgonzola with asparagus and mushrooms. Notice that the cashews were missing. I mentioned it to the waiter and they brought me a dish of sauteed cashews to add in. This was a wonderful dish. I'm craving it today.
My husband ordered the lasagna. He said it was bland, and wasn't as thrilled as I was about my dish.

This is the kid-sized pizza. It's big! My daughter didn't really eat much, she said she wasn't hungry. But we did take it home and she ate it the next day.
And a simple, but large, piece of chocolate cake for dessert. No possible way for us to eat all of this, but it was good. Louie's prices are low, especially compared to what the big chain Italian restaurants charge. The night we were there, one of the waiters was singing to his customers.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Meat Sauce for Freezing

Homemade spaghetti meat sauce with a little cheating. I sauteed two medium diced onions and an entire head of garlic - I ran each clove through a garlic press. I let everything get a little brown.

I added hamburger and mild Italian sausage. As the meat browned, I broke it up with a potato masher.

Here it is ready for the sauce. This part can be done several different ways. I added two cans of crushed tomatoes, a can of diced tomatoes and a jar of Barilla tomato and basil sauce. I didn't have any plain tomato sauce in my pantry. I also diced up a couple of tomatoes that were getting a little too ripe, and plopped those in.

I let it all simmer for a couple of hours and then tasted it. I added some dried basil and oregano and garlic powder, and a few whole cloves of garlic. I let this all simmer all day.

I served some up for dinner with spaghetti noodles, and put the rest in freezer bags to use on nights when I don't have time to make dinner.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Throwing Dinner on the Table

Fried chicken strips, mashed potatoes and gravy, and sauteed cabbage. First, the potatoes, they take the longest to prepare.
I scrubbed these Idaho spuds and cut them in big chunks. Sometimes, I put the whole potato in. No need to peel them. Boil until tender.
Drain them, and pile them on top of a big glob of cream cheese and butter and just let them sit for a while. I left them there ten minutes or so.I plugged in the deep-fryer and whisked together the cheater gravy out of a package. I used Knorr roasted chicken gravy.
I sliced some cabbage thin. The cabbage was a surprise in my organic box delivery this week.
Time to swirl the potatoes around in a stand mixer. Add a little milk if they're too thick. I don't whip them into a frosting-like frenzy, it's fine to leave a few big pieces.

These frozen chicken strips from Schwan's cook in 3 minutes.

Saute the cabbage in a little bit of butter, and salt and pepper it. This takes just a couple of minutes. And, everything is ready to serve!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Beer Sampler at TableRock

We ordered a beer sampler at TableRock BrewPub and Grill, downtown Boise near the Cultural District. They arrange the samples light to dark. The darkest was an espresso beer. It really did have a coffee taste. The description said the coffee used for the brew came from local roaster Dawson Taylor. My favorites were the lighter ones.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cheesy Egg Goo - a Family Favorite

Let's have breakfast! This is the highly sophisticated dish of "cheesy egg goo" that my family loves.
First, get some bacon cooking. I like to use extra-thick sliced bacon, and if I haven't told you before, I'm telling you now. NEVER FRY BACON. Really. You bake bacon. Crowd it into a dish with a little bit of a side on it. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and pop it in. You do not have to turn the bacon at all during cooking. It doesn't splatter, and it doesn't make as much bacon smell as frying it. Check it at 25 minutes - cook to your preference. We like it crisp!
When you check the bacon, go ahead and start the hash browns. I use the frozen ones found in any grocery freezer case. Put some oil in the pan to brown them up, and season with seasoning salt.The bacon is done. Doesn't it look good? Remember, you don't turn it, just let it bake.
When the hash browns are browned up nicely, I add a little bit of Kraft singles cheese, I just tear it up into pieces. Then I add the chopped bacon, be sure to leave good-sized chunks. And now we lower the heat because the eggs are next.

I used four eggs for this dish, you can use however many you want. Mix in the bacon a bit. Then, beat the eggs and then pour them over everything. The goal now is just to stir things around so the eggs are cooked.

This is really good just like this. But at this point, we add shredded cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese blend and let it melt. I didn't post a picture because we were all so hungry, we ate it before the photo opportunity.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another Olive Garden Visit

Four cheese stuffed mezzaluna with sausage is the dish my husband ordered. It was in a tomato cream sauce. He said it was good.

I had the four cheese stuffed mezzaluna with shrimp with a white wine sauce. It was also good. Mezzaluna refers to the type of ravioli in this dish, it's shaped like a crescent moon. Wonder why we frequent Olive Garden so often? Well, it is good, our daughter likes it, and...we have oodles of free gift cards. Thank you American Express rewards!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs - Half Homemade

Spaghetti and meatballs....half homemade made the table this week.
This is the homemade part. The last frozen bag of homemade spaghetti meat sauce. I thaw it in the microwave for about three minutes. (note to self: must do another big batch of meat sauce)

This is the "not homemade" part. These are Schwan's frozen meatballs. I brown them up in the pan really good, and then add the sauce and let it all simmer for an hour or so. This is a family favorite! The noodles we used were Barilla spaghetti, high-protein.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brown Box Delivery

A peek inside this week's organic "brown box" delivery. The contents are always a surprise, and that has helped us try new foods. This week: parsnips and a rutabaga are the surprises. I'm positive my family hasn't ever tried these. I think I'll chop them up with carrots and potatoes and some onion and roast them. I'll post the experiment later this week.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Burger Fit for Royalty

We had a late lunch at Red Robin, a restaurant we visit frequently because it's kid-friendly and nearby. My husband ordered this Royal Red Robin burger. It has a fried egg on it! It's also promoted as a "smiling burger," but for some reason, this one looks like it's frowning.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Crab-Stuffed Shrimp

Crab-stuffed shrimp. This little delight is only created in my kitchen once a year. It's not really that difficult, it's just a New Year's Eve tradition thing.
Here are the ingredients. The king crab is leftover crab from feasts throughout the year. I just tuck the leftovers in a freezer bag to save for this dish.
First, thaw, peel and de-vein the shrimp. Usually, raw shrimp are gray and cooked shrimp are pink. This was a bag of raw PINK shrimp. It was the only bag of right size shrimp I could find. You'll want shrimp in the 26-30 count range.

I shredded the crab, added a good amount of shredded Parmesan cheese, and crumbled about 7 crackers into the bowl. Saltines work well, or anything you have saltine-like. Then I sprinkled Old Bay seasoning over it all and plop in about a half-cup of mayo. I also add about two tablespoons of melted butter. Then, mash it all together, and take little balls of the mixture and place them on the shrimp's back. Bring the tail end over the top. Here is a baking sheet ready to go.

I put these in a 350 degree oven until the shrimp were done, and the mixture turned just a little bit brown.

These cupcakes have nothing to do with the crab-stuffed shrimp recipe, except that they arrived from my neighbor's house while I was making the shrimp. Aren't they pretty cupcakes? They tasted good, too.

Here are the shrimp all done. Pop them onto a serving tray. I share them with neighbors on New Year's Eve. They are so yummy, I always wonder why I don't make them any other time of year....but why mess with tradition?