Saturday, November 28, 2009

French Cuisine

Our French restaurant experience this week in the Washington D.C.-area. Mon Ami Gabi. This is scallops in brown butter with whipped cauliflower and garlic sauteed spinach. One of the best meals during our travels this week. I want to try to make a whipped cauliflower dish at home. Anyone have a recipe?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two Turkeys

A tale of two turkeys for our Thanksgiving dinner in the D.C.-area this year. The deep-fried turkey was injected with Cajun butter seasoning. We also had a traditional turkey that was brined with seasoning, cider and orange juice and stuffed with cranberry and sausage dressing. Both were excellent!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Homemade Egg Salad Sandwich

I happened to have three hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator and experimented with a homemade egg salad sandwich. I was also able to use more of that lovely purple shallot I featured earlier this week. I'll be making this again, soon! Scoop out the yolks, mash them with a fork and add mayo and celery salt to taste. Chop up the whites and a little bit of shallot. Mix together, spread on toasted bread and add pepper to taste before topping the sandwich. Yum!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fish Tacos

I ordered this new menu offering at Red Robin and was pleasantly surprised. These fish tacos tasted suspiciously like my home-made ones. The only difference was that I sprinkle the shredded cabbage with lime and salt and let it sit for a few minutes before adding the mixture to the tacos. And, I bake the fish.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cooking Challenge: Purple Shallot

A purple shallot couple arrived in my organic box delivery. Using it in my kitchen was a first. I found lots of recipes for sauces featuring minced shallots, but I didn't make anything that fancy. I diced up the shallot and added it to rosemary red potatoes as they were roasting. This purple shallot added a strong, sweet flavor.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Artsy Shrimp Tempura

Shrimp tempura and the way it's presented makes kids happy. We hit up one of our regular eateries last night - Kyoto. The sushi was extra good, and sushi chef Vincent treated us to ice cream afterwards. I love that place.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cauliflower Favorite Side Dish

This cauliflower side dish trick is from my stepmother. Put a whole head of cauliflower covered with plastic wrap in the microwave for about six minutes, until al dente tender. Remove the wrap, lightly spread mayonnaise over the top and then layer with cheese. I used American. Cheddar is good, too. Microwave for another minute, slice into wedges and serve.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Grab-n-Go Dinner Downtown Boise: Pollo Rey

Dinner "to go" last night in downtown Boise from Pollo Rey, a long-time fixture on 8th Street. I hadn't been inside for probably 10 years...and it looks exactly the same. The fire rotisserie spinning chickens behind the counter and meals freshly assembled. I ordered the roasted chicken burrito, which was loaded with juicy chicken, pinto beans, rice and salsa. It was served with tortilla chips and green salsa, which was my choice, regular salsa is also available. I'll try to visit again sooner than 10 years from now :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

This Week's Organic Box Goodies

A peek inside our organic Brown Box delivery last night. There will be salad for dinner tonight, along with lightly cooked cauliflower. And in the upper right hand corner, I believe that's a purple shallot. What shall I do with that?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ham and Cheese Bagel Sandwich

Lunchtime at home - a ham and cheese bagel sandwich. A light spread of mayo on both bagel halves. Two slices of ham and one slice of medium cheddar for the bottom half. Put just the bottom half under the broiler until it's bubbly and warm, then put the top half under the broiler and watch it closely. The mayo will help it "toast," but can burn quickly. Wrap in a sandwich paper when serving, because sandwiches always taste better when they have that little wrap on them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vintage Popcorn Popper in Action

This "air popper" is 30 years old, at least? And it still works. My husband popped up the bowl of treats while my daughter was playing with a vintage Lite-Brite Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Golden Hash Browns

Golden hash browns with creamy centers. Simple, warm breakfast on a cold wintry day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Crab-Stuffed Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

Friday night: dinner at McGrath's Fish House. This is the crab-stuffed shrimp with lobster sauce with a side of seasonal vegetables. I liked it, although, my home-made crab-stuffed shrimp probably taste better, but I only do those once a year (New Year's), and I always appreciate food made by someone other than me! If you haven't been to a McGrath's, it's worth a try if you enjoy seafood. Nice decor and I love the music they play. Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra while we were there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Taste Test: Mini Cheesecakes

Bite-sized dessert last night, with these mini cheescakes. Schwan's gave these to me to taste test and...they were really good! And in my book, just the right size, too. Regular, raspberry swirl and turtle minis are the selection in the box. The directions said let them thaw in the refrigerator and DO NOT MICROWAVE. I broke that rule, and zapped them for 15 seconds and they were perfect.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Coffeehouse Grab-n-Go Dinner

Grabbed a quick dinner downtown last night. Because it was so dark and rainy and cold, I didn't venture beyond the Cultural District, where we go for lessons each week. This is dinner ala Tully's. A chicken Caesar spinach wrap, an Americano and the Boise Weekly to keep me company.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Homemade Lettuce Wraps

A week ago today, we had lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang's. Last night, I did a homemade version. The flavoring wasn't as strong as the restaurant version, but it was good! Basic ingredients: chopped chicken breast, chopped onion, shredded carrot, diced bell pepper, minced garlic - all sauteed until browned. Stir in water chestnuts and add oyster sauce and simmer. Serve with lettuce leaves, or, this was also good on a bed of jasmine rice. In the past, I've also spiffed up a peanut sauce as a side.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brownie Season

While I like to experiment with recipes and homemade challenges, I never make brownies from scratch. The boxed versions are just fine and a good deal considering the price of good cocoa these days. My only tip is to remove the brownies from the oven at least five minutes before the official end-of-cooking time, so they'll be soft and chewy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

A recipe that caught my eye last month in MS Living. They are a variation on a thumb print cookie, only in this recipe, the jam/preserves aren't baked with the cookie. Recipe below.
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 stick of butter
1/3 c packed light-brown sugar
1/3 c of regular sugar - and put about a 1/4 c on a plate for rolling the cookies
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 jam (I used raspberry)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat peanut butter and butter on low speed. Add sugars, beat until pale and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake about 10 minutes - cookies will be puffy. Remove from oven and make indentations with the handle end of a wooden spoon. (This indentation will grow a bit larger while the cookies finish baking) Put cookies back in oven for about 6 minutes, until edges are golden. Cool on wire racks. Heat jam in the microwave for a few seconds until it loosens up. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon into each indentation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Globe Grapes

Picked up some grapes to go with salami sandwiches for lunch yesterday and the grapes were the size of small plums. They're called globe grapes. Very sweet-tasting and some of them had seeds.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Regular Friday Night Haunt

A "regular" dining location for us last night: Goodwood. This is the chicken wrap, which is normally a favorite. But this time, the tortilla wasn't grilled enough, so the wrap became soggy and impossible to pick up and eat.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mini Tacos...But Are They Real Food?

What a dinner last night: convenience mini tacos. But, are they really "food?" Likely not, if looking at nutritional value, but they are tasty and quick when the workday runs long, like it did yesterday. It's funny that these used to be marketed as "mini tacos" at Costco and other stores in the frozen section. I noticed recently that the name has been changed to "chipotle mini tacos," since anything chipotle seems trendy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lettuce Wraps

Dinner last night: lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang's. It was our first time there, with many people warning me it was over-priced and sometimes pretentious. I didn't find either statement to be true during our quick stop there. Once we got past the complicated sauce matrix, it was just like any other bar/restaurant. Lots of attention to the TV monitor for the baseball game, families with kids, and a heavy presence from older demographics. The muzak was annoying, it sounded like vinyl skipping, but there are several things on the menu I want to try on future visits, or maybe take-out orders.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Taste Test: Chicken, Broccoli, Rice and Cheese Casserole

Last night's dinner was a test test of a chicken, broccoli, rice and cheese convenience food offered at Costco. The front picture on the box is beautiful. After cooking as directed in the microwave, this is the soupy reality. I guess it tasted like one would expect from instant rice, canned chicken and cheese product - a bit on the chalky side. This frozen food item won't make it into our shopping cart again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chicken White Sauce Pizza

An experimental pizza that turned out really good. Diced sauteed seasoned chicken breast over a four cheese Alfredo sauce, sprinkled with mozzarella and Parmesan and sliced red peppers. All on top of homemade thin crust and baked on a 450 degree baking stone. (1 cup of warm water, 1/2 tbsp yeast, 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp of olive oil and about 2 cups of flour)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Foggy Morning Inspires Peas in the Soup

It was a "pea soup" morning in Boise yesterday, and although the fog lifted before noon, it inspired a thought for dinner: ham, potato and pea soup. This is a good use for leftover chunks of ham you might have on hand in the freezer. Saute a small, chopped onion in a little butter, then add a peeled, cubed large potato. Cook those ingredients until they have a light brown crust, then add a box of low-sodium chicken stock and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Add half a package of cream cheese and stir until incorporated. Add chunks of ham and Swiss cheese (I had sliced Swiss cheese available and used 4 slices). Shortly before serving, pepper to taste and stir in frozen peas.

Sunday, November 1, 2009