Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The basement, City County Building

Unbeknown to many, there is a cafe in the bottom floor of the City / County Building. It is called the Washington Square Cafe.  It is a beautiful place to grab lunch.  The floor is tile and there is a beautiful wood counter in front of the kitchen.  The tables are not too close together, so it is perfect for gossiping about work.

There are many items on the menu that look delicious and unusual.  I had the clam chowder in a bread bowl.  It was good, not great. The portion was smaller than I expected, but what I had was yummy.  I have had the burger there (see earlier posts, I think).

Worth a look, and a lunch,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Farewell, Friends

no, i'm not leaving.  but as some of you know, the series finale of dexter was this weekend.  don't worry, there are no spoilers here.  this is a blog about food, not what happens on a tv show.  but, to dexter, deb, angel, quinn, harrison, masuka, and the rest of miami metro, we bid you adieu.  for nearly a decade we have welcomed you into our home on sunday nights.  so on your final night, we will have a special dinner:  steak and beer.  for those of you who are familiar with the show, you know why i went with this option:  whenever deb and dexter have dinner together, they have of course, steak and beer.

now, you know we couldn't just have steak and beer.  we also had brown rice and fresh green beans.  do you know the secret to cooking the perfect steak?  let me share it with you, as my good friend, uncle vo, shared it with me years ago.  1.  hot grill, like 400+ degrees.  2.  throw steak (lightly seasoned with a little salt and pepper) on there and cook for 2 mins.  3.  turn steak 180 degrees to get perfect grill lines and cook an additional 2 mins.  4.  flip steak over and cook for 2 mins.  5.  repeat step 3.  and voila.  perfect steak in 8 mins.
but our "dexter meal" wouldn't be complete without blood splatter cookies.  completing the look by wrapping them in cellophane.
have you ever had a sugar cookie from kneaders bakery?  mr d ranks them as number 1.  i found their recipe online here.  not a copycat, but their actual recipe.  pretty cool that they give it out.  mostly because they know that even with their exact recipe, theirs are much better than how mine turned out.  but they were pretty good.  a good first effort.  the recipe indicates that it will make 4 dozen, so i halved the recipe, and still ended up with 3 dozen.  also, i could not find lemon flavoring, which is supposed to be a powdered ingredient found near the lemon juice, so i just used lemon extract.  it turned out fine, not overpowering on the lemon flavor.
Kneaders Sugar Cookies
1 c butter
1 1/8 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c milk
3 7/8 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp lemon flavoring
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tbsp honey
Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs and milk, scraping down sides as necessary.  Add in remaining ingredients.  Dough will be soft and sticky.  Place dough on a well floured surface and gently roll out until 3/8 inch.  Cut into desired shapes.  Bake on baking sheet lined with parchment paper at 325 for 10-12 mins, or until edges barley start to change color.
4 1/2 c powdered sugar
4 tbsp corn syrup
3 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp lemon flavoring
Mix all ingredients together until smooth.  Decorate cookies as desired!

Friday, September 20, 2013

It Must Be Fall

while sitting in court yesterday a colleague from the dark side, looking for matt, asked when my "lunch buddy" would be making his appearance.  i had to explain to some folks sitting around me that he was in fact looking for matt, and matt is in fact my lunch buddy.  i was shocked that they didn't already know this information.  we are on the internet after all.  and i verified that these folks had heard of the internet.  well, one made a comment that it has been awhile since we've posted.  yes, indeed it has.  so, lumberjack, jr, this post is for you. 

as september is nearing an end, fall is definitely in the air here.  to commemorate the season, i made a simple fall dessert:  chocolate dipped strawberries.  i know you were all expecting something like pumpkin chocolate chip bread, and believe me, that will come as the season blazes forward.  but before we say goodbye to summer completely, we will still enjoy its fruits.  we will just decorate them to look like fall.  the goal was to put jack-o-lantern faces on my "pumkins," but alas, we were too eager to eat them. 

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

1 c white chocolate chips
red and yellow food coloring
black gel frosting
melt the chocolate chips in the microwave 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until they are melted.  add food coloring until the desired hue of orange.  stir.  dip strawberries in chocolate and place on wax paper.  refrigerate until chocolate hardens.  with black gel frosting, add jack-o-lantern faces.

as halloween draws nearer, you could also make ghosts.  this would take less effort than the pumpkins because you wouldn't have to dye the chocolate.  and you would only need 2 black dots for eyes.  i'm always looking out for you, my lazy friends.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dinner was a B.L.A.S.T!

mr d and i had dinner at the black bear diner a few weeks ago.  on the menu was a "B.L.A.S.T. Sandwich."  i was so close to ordering this bacon, lettuce, avocado, swiss cheese, and tomato treat.  but alas, i opted for pancakes instead.  yet, the idea of the B.L.A.S.T. intrigued me.  i was thinking about how i could do a salad with bacon bits, lettuce, avocado, something, and tomato.  but then i'd need to add more protein.  so the tomato turned into turkey.  ok, a club salad.  but what to do for that s?  then i got spinach in my bountiful basket, and all problems were solved.  then mr d and i were at a bbq, and someone had brought a salad with raspberries.  i love raspberries.  sub berries for bacon.  but then, does avocado really fit in anymore?  i think avocado always fits in, but mr d is not that big a fan.  enter almonds. so dinner was a B.L.A.S.T:  berries, lettuce, almonds, spinach, and turkey.  and it was a perfect summer dinner.  do you really need a recipe for this?  not really.  i cooked a turkey breast in the crockpot in chicken stock, shredded it.  in a large bowl, mix together some lettuce, some spinach, and a pack of raspberries.  top each serving with some shredded turkey and a sprinkling of sliced almonds.  for the dressing i used a greek vinaigrette.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ruth's on Wednesday and Moochies on Friday

I am making up for lost time on the old, go to lunch thing.   On Wednesday the General Nonviolent Felony Team went to lunch at Ruth's for Administrative Professionals Day.  It was only a couple of months late, but we wanted to get the whole team together if possible, and when one of your team members goes to France for three weeks.... I had the meatloaf burger.  It was served with fires, on a bun, with regular burger fixin's.  The meatloaf was good, and smothered with BBQ sauce.  A little too much BBQ sauce.  It took over the whole burger.  The fries are battered and crispy. I'd give the food a C+, but the location and ambiance a B-. Barely worth the $10.00.

Moochies was a quick trip with my co-blogger Mikelle.  I got the egg plant parm sandwich, potato salad and a drink (by making it a "Moochis Meal" for an extra $2.99).  The bread was perfect, the egg plant and marianna were good, but not great.  I'd give it a B.  The company was great, and the birch beer was scrumptious.  Go to Moochies.  It is one of the good ones.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Burgers in Coeur d'Alene

It has been far too long.  I am back on the blog, and ready to post, ya'll.  I was in Coeur d'Alene last week end for the Ironman.  It was AWESOME.  I am really happy with my time, I beat my first Ironman by  44 minutes.  Beautiful course, great swim.

I eat at a place called Hudson's.  They have been there and making burgers since 1907.  It was a tiny little place, with only a counter at which to sit.  The burger was one of the best I have ever come across. Cooked to perfection, the meat was the star.  The only toppings available were pickle and/or onion, and cheese, although there were three sauces on the counter in those old-school ketchup type squeeze bottles, ketchup, hot ketchup (think heavy horseradish with a bite) and spicy mustard.

If you're ever there, and you love a burger, stop in.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fava What?

apparently it's called a fava bean.  apparently people like them.  i'm not a fan, of either the time consuming cooking or the flavor.  so these appeared in my bountiful basket.  i had no idea what they were or what to do with them.  but since mr d has been asking for more veggies with his meals, i thought i'd try the recipe that other bountiful basket participants were posting on facebook and serve them alongside a sloppy joe and corn on the cob.

Fava Beans
fava beans
olive oil
garlic, minced

Shell the fava beans and blanch for 10-15 mins.  Remove the bean from the casing and saute in olive oil and garlic until fragrant, about 5 mins.

these had kind of a bitter taste i wasn't expecting, although i'm not sure what i was expecting.  and then it dawned on me that they kind of tasted like peas, which is probably why mr d was a fan.  and was a fitting taste given their appearance as "giant pea pods."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Paleo Steak Roll Ups

mr d and i went to the crossfit regionals competition this weekend.  it was all you would expect it to be.  here is the one blurry picture i took while we there.  this is the crew setting up for the second team WOD (workout of the day).  it consisted of 21 deadlifts, followed by 21 box jumps, then repeated by 15 reps of each, then 9.  one team set a world record.  i guess it was a pretty big deal.

because this is a blog about food, you must be wondering why i'm mentioning the cxfit games.  well, it just so happens that i had lunch there on saturday.  at a food truck called "the paleo wagon."   now, this food truck had two lines, each line had about 20 people in it, at all times.  it was ridiculous.  the other food vendor there sold soft pretzels, soda, and pizza.  i think they had 5 customers, all weekend.  as you can probably gather from their name, the paleo wagon was selling meals that complied with the paleo diet.  if you aren't familiar with the paleo diet, google it, my friends.  but the short version is this:  eat like a caveman, i.e., meat and vegetables with limited fruits, no grains, no dairy, and obviously, no processed foods.  i wish i had a taken a picture of our lunches.  i got the scaled plate, meaning one meat, and mr d got the prescribed plate, meaning two meats.  our plates consisted of a hearty scoop of carne asada, 1/2 an avacado, 1/2 of a cucumber, 2 sweet peppers and a strawberry.  and mr d's second meat was a chicken sausage link.  mr d was really excited about his paleo lunch, and long story short, it inspired me to make a paleo approved dinner.  enter the steak roll up. 
the recipe came from here, which includes a balsamic glaze to serve over the steak.  the glaze looks and sounds delicious, but i was hungry by the time i'd gotten the steak in the pan and decided to forego the sauce and eat the roll ups as is.  they were really good.  i would definitely make them again, either with steak or with chicken.  and i'll have to try the sauce out.
Steak Roll Ups
1 1/2-2 lb sirloin or flank steak
salt and pepper
worcestershire sauce
olive oil
1 glove garlic, minced
2 carrots, matchsticked
1 red bell pepper, matchsticked
4 green onions, sliced
4 asparagus spears, matchsticked
Prepare the steak by slicing into thin strips. (i butterflied mine, then cut into 8 strips.)  Season steak with salt, pepper, and worcestershire and let marinate for 30 mins.  While the steak is marinating, heat olive oil in a medium pan and cook the garlic for 1 min.  Add the remaining veggies and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Set the veggies aside.  When the steak is done marinating, place a handful of veggies on each strip of steak and roll them up.  Secure with a toothpick.  Cook the steak roll ups in the same pan you cooked the veggies in until the desired doneness.  (i cooked them about 7 mins on each side.  they probably didn't need to be cooked that long, but raw meat makes me nervous.)  Serve with more veggies, or with rice if you're not into the whole paleo thing.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sloppy Phil

what happens when a sloppy joe and a philly cheesesteak have a baby?  the sloppy phil.  what a delicious concept i came across on foodgawker, which linked me over here, to the dainty chef.  as you can see, there isn't anything dainty about this meal.  it was spilling off the bun in all its glory.  i thought these were yummy.  mr d was not that impressed.  but i think he was judging them unfairly based on my "misrepresentation."  when he asked what we were having for dinner, i said "sloppy philly cheesesteaks."  he took a couple of bites and then asked, with a puzzled look on his face, if it was ground beef.  i replied in the affirmative, to which, he disappointedly said, "but you said they were cheesesteaks."  so he was under the impression the meat was steak, rather than ground beef, so i don't think the sloppy phil got a fair shake.  hey, it's not my fault sloppy phil got his meat from his father's side.
Sloppy Philly Cheesesteak
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp steak sauce
1 c beef broth
provolone cheese, sliced
Heat oil in a medium skillet.  Add beef and cook 5-6 minutes until brown.  Add onions and peppers and cook 3-4 minutes, until veggies are tender.  Stir in steak sauce and broth.  Bring to a boil, and cook an additional 5 minutes, until sauce thickens.  Serve on a toasted bun with a slice of provolone cheese.

i served the sloppy phil with some roasted new potatoes and leeks.  i chopped up the potatoes and leeks and tossed with some olive oil and a dry onion soup mix.  baked in the oven for 40 mins, stirring and rotating every 10.  with the exception of the potatoes, this was a quick meal that would be perfect to repeat on a busy weeknight. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pizza Casserole

i kept seeing this recipe popping up all over the facebook and the pinterest for a pizza casserole that looked delicious and nutritionally wasn't that bad.  but when i'd click on the links, it would just pull up the picture and the recipe on a page, not on any particular website, if that makes sense.  so i have no idea where to attribute this most fabulous dinner to.  did you catch that?  fabulous!  it was so good!  mr d helped himself to seconds.  seriously, the flavor on this pizza casserole was so amazing.  the original recipe i saw calls for olives and mushrooms, but i don't like mushrooms, and mr d doesn't like olives.  so i decided to switch out those ingredients for the ingredients we like on our pizza:  green peppers, jalapenos, and red onion.

Pizza Casserole
16 oz package rotini noodles
1 lb ground italian sausage
24 oz jar spaghetti sauce
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
16 oz container cottage cheese
1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
pepperoni slices
Preheat oven to 350.  Cook the noodles al dente according to package directions.  In a skillet, cook sausage until evenly browned, add cooked noodles and spaghetti sauce.  Put meat mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, combine green pepper, onion, jalapeno, cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese.  Layer on top of meat mixture.  Top casserole with pepperoni slices.  Bake for 25 mins, until bubbly and lightly browned.
of course i used whole wheat noodles, non-fat cottage cheese and low-fat mozzarella cheese, and it was so good.  when i make it again, i'd like to try making it even more healthy by using chicken sausage or maybe just ground turkey, with some additional spices to add some of the flavor i'd be missing from the spicy italian sausage.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Denver-ish Omelette

you know those nights when you didn't plan on making dinner and you're not really in the mood to cook, but you also want to make a better choice than eating out?  on nights like that, our go to meal is a denver-ish omelette.  denver-ish, because i'm not really sure what the ingredients have to be for an omelette to be considered denver, and because this is generally cooked as an uplanned meal, i just use what we have on hand.  sometimes we have green pepper.  sometimes we have jalapeno.  sometimes we have ham.  sometimes we miraculously have all 3 at the same time.  and we always have cheese and onion.  and of course we always eggs.  the first time i ever made an omelette, i watched a couple of youtube videos on how to make the perfect omelette.  it's all about tipping the pan and lifting the cooked part of the egg up and letting the uncooked egg run underneath so that it can cook.  if that doens't make sense, jump on over to youtube.

Denver-ish Omelette
 3 egg whites
1 whole egg
splash of milk
veggies and meats of your choice, chopped
sautee veggies in a small skillet until tender.  (for this omelette, i used 1/2 a green pepper and 1/2 an onion).  in a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until frothy.  pour the egg mixture in a medium pan sprayed with cooking spray.  as the omelette cooks, push the cooked edges into the middle, and tilt the pan so the uncooked egg runs underneath.  repeat until the egg is cooked thru.  add cheese to entire omelette, then place veggies and meats on 1/2.  fold over and serve.
it never looks that appetizing, but as a quick and healthy meal, it tastes amazing!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuna Burger

While going through the pantry last week end, I found two cans of salmon,  I knew they had been kicking around for a while, but when I checked the date, and saw "best by July 2011" I thought it might be better to chuck the fish, than to risk eating it.

All is not lost because the cans of salmon inspired me to try a recipe that I found on a similar can of salmon, salmon burgers.  As the title of this post already spoiled, I made burgers with tuna.  It was really easy.  Just drained a can of tuna, mixed in mayonaise, then bread crumbs until the concoction was a good consistency to shape into a patty.  Fry it, serve it on a bun, SUCCESS!

Give it a try, loyal bloggists.  And check in tomorrow for Rula's, Part II.

Monday, April 1, 2013


I have been, most recently, making one of my old standbys; meatballs.  Take a:
                pound of lean ground beef
                1 large egg
                1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
                3 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
                1/4 teaspoon salt
                1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium bowl mix the beef, egg, crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper and then form into 16 meatballs.
Cook in a skillet.  When they are done, add in a can of tomatoes, some garlic, what ever sounds good.
Serve with egg noodles.

Quick and easy and best of all, delicious.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Product We Love

after a workout, or for a quick lunch when the work day doesn't really offer any time for lunch, premier chocolate protein shakes are a product we love.  they come packed full of 30 grams of protein, which is just what your body needs after a workout (remember, 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes for optimal recovery) and they taste good!  i've tried other premade protein shakes, as well as many different powdered proteins added to milk, and these are definitely at the top of the list for flavor.  they don't have a chemical aftertaste that some of the others have.  i started following Happy Being Healthy, and she thinks premier products are great too.  in fact, she's going to be giving some away, keep reading...

Premier Protein Goodies

here is a snapshot of some of their other products.  i look forward to trying the vanilla shakes.  i'm not huge into protein bars, but the reviews on these are pretty good.  and again, 30 grams of protein per bar would make them filling and a great on-the-go meal.  if you'd like to win everything in the picture above (2 chocolate shakes, 2 vanilla shakes, and 6 protein bars), check out Happy Being Healthy's wesite here and enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Taco Cupcakes

looking for a new twist on tacos?  these are a big hit.  a big hit in a small package.  taco cupcakes are a favorite at our house, because mr d is always craving mexican, and this is a healthy alternative to using taco shells or tortillas, but is more exciting than using lettuce leaves.  you'll have to excuse the picture.  i didn't plan on posting this picutre, but it's come to my attention that someone out there needs a good taco recipe.  i originally got the recipe from here (you'll want to visit her site if only to see how much better her pictures are!)  but i made some adjustments to the recipe based on what i had on hand, and to make it even more healthy by swapping out the beef for turkey.

Taco Cupcakes
1 lb ground turkey
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 can black beans
24 wonton wrappers
1 c salsa
1 c cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Brown turkey in a skillet and add black beans when the turkey is cooked thru.  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.  Place a wonton wrapper in each muffin cup, top with a spoonful of turkey mixture and a spoonful of salsa.  Top with another wonton wrapper, another spoonful of turkey mixture, andother spoonful of salsa, and a pinch of cheese.  Bake for 20 mins.  Let cool for 5 mins, top with your favorite taco toppings, and enjoy!

i topped mine with guacomole and sour cream.  mr d kept his healthy and topped only with shredded lettuce.  also, i used a can of black beans that also had jalapenos for an extra kick of flavor.  i have made these multiple times, and each time they turned out awesome.  a quick dinner with a lot of flavor that is easy to make and healthy is always a winner!  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Healthy Blackberry Cheesecake

yes, you read that right, this is a healthy cheesecake.  a dessert that has protein, is low fat, and low sugar.  and it's good!  if you are like us and are trying to eat healthy but still want to indulge your sweet tooth, this is an awesome cheesecake that seriously compares to restaurant quality.  the recipe comes from bill phillips, in the eating for life cookbook that goes along with the body for life diet.  bill phillips makes a strawberry cheesecake, but we got lots of blackberries from bountiful baskets, and really any fruit is a great topping to cheesecake.

Blackberry Cheesecake
1 c non-fat cottage cheese
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 Tbsp Spelnda
12 oz non-fat cream cheese, softened
1 c egg substitute
1 graham cracker crust
1 c blackberries

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Blend cottage cheese in blender until smooth, scraping down sides if necessary.  Add vanilla and Splenda and blend for 15 seconds.  Add cream cheese and blend for 30 seconds.  Gradually add the egg substitute and continue blending until the mixture is smooth.  Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake at 350 for 35 mins.  Let cool for 15 mins.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  When ready to eat, top with berries and enjoy!

if you are making this completely healthy, just top with fresh berries.  i was in the mood for something more exciting, so i made a blackberry topping by mixing the berries with 1/8 cup sugar and a tablespoon of water in a saucepan and cooking until the juices were thick and syrupy.

if you're going to make a similar topping, be careful not to cook it too long or the berries will become mush.  this pic is after about 5 mins, i love that you can see it boiling, but the camera lens would steam up before i could snap a good shot.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chicken Salad Sandwich

every once in a while i crave a good chicken salad sandwich.  and it's such a simple dish, i really should make it more often.  this week, i wasn't craving the salad as much as i was craving some homemade bread.  but if i made bread, i'd need something good to eat with it to make sure it got eaten and wasn't a wasted effort.  and so, the idea to have chicken salad sandwiches for dinner this week was born.  i've tried several recipes for chicken salad, and i've come to the conclusion that you can pretty much put whatever you want in it!  so i decided to use this recipe for the general idea,, but then i made modifications based on what i like and what we had on hand.  (i omitted the dill, because yuck, and i didn't have a lemon, so that was out, i wasn't in the mood for almonds, so they were out, and i replced the half and half with skim milk because 1, that's what we had, but 2, because it's lower in fat!)  overall, i thought this was a really good chicken salad, and i like that with the addition of the greek yogurt, it's healthier than other versions i've seen and tried.

Chicken Salad Sandwich
2 c chicken, cooked and shredded
2 stalks celery, diced
3 green onions, diced
2 c grapes, chopped
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c plain greek yogurt
1/4 c milk
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine chicken, celery, green onions and grapes.  In a second bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  When the flavor of the dressing is just right, pour over chicken mixture and mix well.  Chill before serving.

yes, that picture is of a 1/2 eaten sandwich on a napkin on my desk at work.  but i wanted to be sure and get a picture!  the bread is a homemade honey grain.  i inherited a new bread maker a few weeks ago, so it was easy peasy to make this delicious bread from scratch.  the recipe came in the instruction booklet, but the ingredients include:  water, butter, honey, salt, bread flour, wheat flour and oatmeal.  yum!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3 Ingedient Chicken and Gravy

i kept seeing this picture on pinterest of this delicious looking chicken served over a pile of mashed potatoes and and topped with gravy.  and the caption read, "3 ingredient crockpot chicken and gravy."  you can see for yourself how awesome it looks.  i thought to myself, wow, that looks delicious, and sounds so easy!  it must be too good to be true!!  let me be the first to tell you folks, it is.  don't get me wrong, it was good, but not as tasty as the picture made it seem, and it was much more of a hassle than a "3 ingredient meal" called for.  i made the chicken in the crockpot (dish #1) and the gravy in a side pan (dish #2).  i wanted to serve it like the picture, with a pile of mashed potatoes, so i cooked the potatoes (dish #3) and mashed them in my mixer (dish #4).  and since every meal needs a veggie, i went with beets (dish #5).  in the end, i was left with a lot of dishes for an average tasting dinner.

Three Ingredient Chicken and Gravy
2 lbs chicken breast
14.5 oz can chicken broth
2 packets of chicken gravy mix

Place the chicken and broth in the crockpot and cook on low 6 hours, or until chicken easily pulls apart.  Pour 2 cups of liquid from the crockpot into a saucepan, discard remaining liquid.  Add the 2 packets of gravy mix to the sauce pan and whisk well.  Simmer until gravy thickens.  While gravy simmers, shred chicken into large pieces and serve with the gravy.

and use a million other dishes to complete the meal.  i've never used gravy packets before, and i probably will never use them again.  the result was mostly salty and it didn't dissolve all the way, so the gravy had a weird texture.  if i were to make this again, i would just use the liquid in the crockpot (broth and juices from the chicken) along with a roux to make the gravy.  while i'm sure you are all more than aware, a roux is equal parts flour and fat--butter.  so i use 1/2 cup of each and mix that in with my meat liquid to make an awesome gravy that pairs well with whatever meat i cooked.

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup

sorry, team, i didn't realize that i haven't posted in nearly a month.  i mean, i realized that it has been awhile, but didn't think it had been that long!  so by special request, the first post after my leave of absence will be the delicious soup i made for lunch in celebration of presidents' day.  nothing says "honoring our forefathers" quite like roasted cauliflower and aged white cheddar soup.  well, not really, but i had the day off, and it seemed like a good lunch project.  i got the recipe from after linking over when i saw the post for the cauliflower and cheddar dip.  we don't have much use for dips at our house, but i was definitely inspired by this soup.  the soup was really good, the flavor was awesome, but as you can see from my picture, i totally over pureed it.  to the point that mr. d asked if we were having sauce for lunch.  he agreed that the flavor was really good, and if it had some substance to it, it would be perfect.  this is definitely worth making again, maybe taking it a little easier on the hand blender the second time around.

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp thyme, chopped
3 c chicken broth
2 c aged white cheddar, shredded
1 c milk or cream

Toss the cauliflower florets with 2 Tbsp oil and salt and pepper and spread in single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 for 20-30 mins, until lightly browned.  Heat remaining oil in a pot, sautee the onion until tender, 5-7 mins.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 min.  Add the broth and deglaze the pot.  Add the cauliflower, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 mins.  Puree the soup with a stick blender until your desired consistency.  Mix in cheese, letting it melt without bringing it to a boil.  Add in milk, remove from heat and serve!  Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

i used skim milk because that's what we had at home, and i didn't need to make another trip to the grocery store (even though i certainly wouldn't have minded, wink, wink, k) but i think using cream would have made it very good, if nothing else, it would have added some substance.  and a special shout out to my new friends at my new harmons who loving cut the perfect amount of aged white cheddar for me.  although this harmons is not nearly as nice as the district harmons or city creek harmons, it was still harmons in the great products they carried and excellent service at the deli counter!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Turkey Burgers, 2.0--peach kissed patties

this is what salt lake city looks like right now.  rated up there as one of the worst cities for air quality in the world.  thanks, my dear follower for 1, following, and 2, for sharing your picture from snowbird looking down on the gunk that the rest of us are breathing in.

with this horrible inversion comes below-freezing temperatures for going on like 3 weeks now.  yuck!  what do i need most in a time like this?  well, soups are good, but so are the summer recipes in my new cookbook.  fun summer flavors can at least make it feel like summer for the few minutes we're eating dinner and leftovers for lunches.  unfortunately it's too cold to go outside and grill, but fortunately, i have a grill pan.  a staub grill pan specifically.  it is a product i love. 

in case i don't get around to making a special post just about this product i love, here is why i love it:  it's a gorgeous sapphire blue color, it is heavy duty, it cooks perfectly even, making beautiful grill marks on chicken, burgers, steaks, and panini sandwiches.  that's right, it has a "lid" that turns the pan into a panini press.  the lid is le creuset, but it fits onto the staub like a match made in heaven.

Peach Kissed Turkey Burgers
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 c onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey
2 Tbsp fresh parsley or 2 tsp dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c peach jam
1 tsp ground mustard
1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
peach-mayo spread (1/2 c mayo + 1/2 c peach jam)
red onion

Heat oil in skillet.  Add onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently for 2-3 mins.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Mix turkey with remaining ingredients thru worcestershire sauce.  Add onion, garlic, and the olive oil left in the skillet.  Divide meat into 4-6 patties forming evenly sized balls and gently shaping into patties.  For best results, chill patties at least 1 hour before cooking, they may be chilled up to 24 hours.  Cook patties on grill or skillet 5-7 mins on each side.  Serve on toasted buns with Peach-Mayo spread, lettuce, red onion, and tomato.

these burgers had a great summery, tangy flavor.  mr d liked them a lot and even went back for seconds.  the tang was a bit much for me, but it had mellowed the next day, and i actually liked the leftovers better.

Pear Pomegranate Salad

don't you hate when you find a recipe that looks really good, but when you go to the store to get the ingredients they either are super expensive or they are low quality because they're out of season?  savoring the seasons with our best bites cookbook helps to overcome this problem because the book is divided into the four seasons with recipes that are "in season."  we're in the middle of winter here, so i've been flipping to the back of the book looking for some good winter recipes.  i came across this gem.  the flavors were amazing!  mr d had 3 servings, he couldn't get enough.  i almost didn't take the time to candy the pecans because i was worried it would be too much work, and it is something i haven't done before.  oh, boy, am i so glad i tried something new in the kitchen.  the pecans were the best part.  i was wishing i'd made more just to snack on.

Pear Pomegranate Salad
1/2 c chopped pecans
1/4 c sugar
1 head romaine lettuce
14 oz bag spinach leaves
seeds from 1 pomegranate (about 1 cup)
2 ripe pears, chopped
juice of 1 lime

Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and set aside.  Combine pecans and sugar in a small skillet, cook, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and coats the nuts, about 15 mins.  Place on the prepared foil and set aside.  Toss together remaining ingredients, adding the candied pecans right before serving. Drizzle sweet red wine vinaigrette over the salad and top with feta cheese if desired.

Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c sugar
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 c canola oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in blender or food processor.  While blender is running, add oil in a steady stream.  Dressing may be stored in fridge about 2-3 weeks.  Shake well before serving.

this salad was so good!  it was the perfect side dish to a healthy breast of grilled chicken.  seriously blog followers, this cookbook is a must have.  you can continue waiting for me to post the recipes i try, one at a time, or you can run out and get yours today!  at the very least, get your name on the wait list at the library.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Roula's Cafe

rather than go to lunch a few weeks ago, matt and i went to breakfast with several of our favorite coworkers to roula's cafe.  we were promised the best toast in the world by the one who chose the establishment.  i ordered the roula's classic:  hash browns, 2 eggs any style, one meat, and a side of toast.  my favorite kind of eggs are over medium, but i'm always wary about ordering eggs that way in a restaurant because i worry that they'll be too runny.  then i get nervous that they're not cooked and i'm going to end up with salmonella, and on and on.  so i went with scrambled.  i should have gone with over medium.  a few others had ordered them over medium, and they looked perfect.  the scrambled eggs weren't really scrabbled, but just more like an omelette with no filling, if that makes sense.  the bacon was really good, perfectly crisp, and the hash browns were good too.  i was talked into the wheat toast by all of my coworkers and the cashier at roula's.  the toast was really good, but i think i would have been happier with the sourdough toast.  all in all, i was happy with my meal, but i think it could have been better if i'd ordered differently.  the atmosphere was very inviting, and the restaurant was very clean.  you order cafeteria style, and then your food is brought out to you.  roula herself even came out to our table to ask if our food was good.  i'd definitely like to go back to roula's, either for breakfast or to give their lunch menu a try.  and as always, the best part of the meal was the company.

Holiday Lunch at Penny Ann's Cafe

right before christmas our team at work had a team lunch at penny ann's cafe.  i was nervous that we were planning on having lunch there with such a large group because a few months ago my grandma wanted to take my sister and i to lunch there, but when we arrived at lunch time, the place was so crowded there wasn't a table big enough to seat the 5 of us.  luckily, our team leader is a regular at penny ann's, so she had reserved a spot for the 14 of us.  everything on the menu sounded awesome, and i had a hard time deciding among a grilled cheese, a burger, chicken strips, etc.  i finally settled on the california ciabatta.  oh, my, it did not disappoint.  turkey, bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat ciabatta roll with mayo.  i got my sandwich with the 50/50 fries, 1/2 sweet potato and 1/2 regular.  as usual, i did like the sweet potato fries better, but i did like the salty flavor of the regular fries.  as i surveyed the table as the team ate, there didn't appear to be anyone unhappy with their meal.  and to top off the meal, our team leader had special ordered a bahama blueberry pie for dessert.  the pie was a great ending to the meal, served with a huge bowl of vanilla bean ice cream and a huge bowl of cream.
the serving staff was incredibly friendly and on the ball, and the price was very reasonable.  and as always, the best part of lunch was the company!

New Cookbook

dear 3 blog followers, you just happen to be the 3 luckiest blog readers in all of this crazy land we call internet.  why?  my baby brother's thoughtful wife bought me a new cookbook for christmas.  but not just any cookbook.  this cookbook:

i've been wanting this for awhile, and several recipes on lunch with matt and mikelle come from the Our Best Bites blog, so i am excited to be trying their recipes from the cookbook and sharing them with you.  i hope you're excited too!

Lasagna Soup

i've seen pictures of this lasagna soup popping up on the internet for the last few months, and with this cold winter weather we're having, trying a new soup recipe seemed just the ticket.  i headed over here to get a recipe and followed it almost exactly, just making some adjustments based on the comments to make for better leftovers and using a different kind of noodle so that i could use whole wheat noodles.

Lasagna Soup
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage
3 c onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp crush red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 28-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c chicken broth
8 oz whole wheat rotini noodles
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
mozzarella cheese

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add sausage, breaking it into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 mins.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 6 mins.  Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes, cook for 1 min.  Add tomato paste and mix well, cook for an additional 3-4 mins.  Add tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins.  In a separate pot, cook the noodles to al dente.  In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper.  When ready to serve, place a dollop of the ricotta mixture in the bottom of each bowl, top with a serving of noodles, and ladle soup on top.  Top with a pinch of mozzarella.

this was very yummy.  especially once you gave it a good stir and mixed the bottom cheese in throughout the soup.  it tasted just like lasagna in a bowl.  if you're not anticipating any leftovers, you can cook the noodles in the soup when you're simmering it for 30 mins.  you don't want to do this if you're planning on leftovers because otherwise the noodles will soak up all the broth and your leftovers will be just dry "lasagna".

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I have to rant for a second about a commercial that is making me crazy.  I hate commercials in general because they are so illogical, and often treat today's men like the most ape-like and stupid creatures who ever graced mother earth with walking all over her surface.  Thanks to DVR I can skip ads with impunity, unless during football I catch up to the recording.  Anyway, back to the one I hate most right now.

The Arby's campaign with the detective from New York talking about fresh sliced meat.  The other places cut their meat in a factory (eeewwww GROSS), and send it in a truck to Subway, or where ever.  Arby's, unlike the industrial other factory meat-sliced places slices theirs in the store, so it is "fresh sliced meat".

Ok, "sliced fresh" means NOTHING!  It has nothing to do with the meat freshness.  The Arby's "beef" is a processed log of meat stuff, not prime rib.  And when it is sliced has nothing to do with how fresh the meat is.  Like you could pull out a month-old ham from the back of the fridge, lay it on the counter, and make it fresh-sliced with your handy knife, thus transforming it from almost too funky to eat to fresh and new.  Does Arby's really think this verbal slight of hand fools any one? Obviously, yes.

Thank you for indulging me.  I may just make the rant a regular feature of this blog.

Penny Ann's Cafe

Our local restaurant this week is a favorite of your bloggers' team leader; Penny Ann's Cafe, at 1810 South Main in Salt Lake City, Utah.  We went there for our team holiday lunch, an annual tradition for our team.

The cafe is on the bottom floor of a good-sized apartment building.  It is kind of hard to see, unless you look hard. From the outside, nothing stands out.  Inside, there is limited space.  The tables are close together, and there is a packed-in feeling.  I'm sure part of that comes from the fact that our big group was there in the heart of the lunch hour.

The atmosphere was welcoming and had the feel of a mom and pop diner rather than a chain place.  The smells were pleasing to the nose, and the patrons were characters, with collars ranging from blue to white (and even some who look like they've never worn a collar).

Now, to the best part - the food.  The menu was rangy, but not trying too hard.  Rather than order the burger (my usual go-to) I went with egg plant parmesan.  It was a huge portion, and came with pasta on the side with my choice of alfredo or red sauce.  Back to the egg plant parm; it was not over-breaded. The crust was firm, and just right to add a pleasing texture to the whole, with out taking away from the egg plant.  The light crust also let the egg plant speak for itself and it told me a lot, like "I'm yummy, I'm just the right temperature, and I will fill you up."

There were several of the team there, and I was not subtle about looking at other people's plates.  The pasta some went with looked great, the turkey sammys others chose looked wonderful, and I had burger envy after seeing huge and yummy looking burgers on others plates.

I say go eat there.  I want to go back and try breakfast.  It looks like the kind of place that does breakfast right.

The Soup Kitchen

Romeo and Juliette, Penelope and Ulysses, chocolate and peanut butter and grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Just as certain couples belong to one another, certain foods do as well.  Today's perfect pairing is grilled cheese and tomato soup made by The Soup Kitchen.

 The Soup Kitchen is 2012 South 1100 East in Salt Lake City, in Sugar House.  It is a clean but well-worn building with uneven floors, and faded posters on the wall.  The tables and chairs are Spartan throwbacks to a simpler time.

There are several soups and sandwiches on the menu, including hamburgers.  The tomato soup and the grilled cheese is my favorite.  It is comfort food at its best, hot soup in which to dunk a toasted, cheesy, warm sammy.  The sandwich is nice and crunchy on the outside (unlike some wonder bread grilled cheese that are limp and saggy) and the cheese is molten and wonderful,

I can't end this post without mentioning the all you can eat breadsticks.  They have totes filled with three different kinds, plain, garlic and cheese.  When the grilled cheese sandwich is too much, just set it down, take a breath, and dunk a bread stick in your soup for a couple bites.