Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chicken and Orzo Goodness

Trader Joes has orzo now. Or maybe they did before but I just didn't notice. Anyway, I was so happy to see it on the pasta aisle. For dinner, I made grilled chicken with orzo and side of pita chips, hummus and tzatziki. So yummy.
For the orzo, I first sauteed onions until they were carmelized, added some salt, pepper, greek seasoning and pine nuts. At the end, right before I added the cooked orzo, I must admit to melting about 3 tablespoons of butter in the pan. So many calories but so worth it.

Pecan Crisps

I received a couple of new cookbooks for Christmas, one of which is all cookie recipes. I love cookies and I try to make a new batch every 2 weeks. A recipe for pecan crisps caught my eye because it had very few ingredients and I already had everything I needed to make them. While I started making them they seemed a little boring, so what's an experimental blogger to do...I changed the recipe a little bit and added some cayenne pepper. I really like those caramelized pecans with brown sugar and cayenne so I figured it wouldn't hurt to add a little into the dough. Next time, I'm going to add a little more. I liked the flavor it added to the cookies. Just a little bit of heat. So, once I perfect the recipe I'll share it.

I see lots of New Year's posts this morning. I figure I should probably do one as well. Now, I'm off to catch up on all the blogs. Have a wonderful celebration tonight. Cheers to 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jam Thumbprints

I love the Food Network, which means I also love the Food Network magazine. When I saw a recipe for jam thumbprints I knew I had to try them. I received a great big box of foodie goodies from my grandparents for Christmas and it included many many jars of jam. I decided to experiment with the flavors for the cookies. I also added crushed almonds around the sides. Surprisingly, my favorite flavor was the orange marmalade.

What is your favorite jam?

Savory Cafe & Bakery, Ventura

I feel I must start this post by saying I've eaten here before and had a great meal, but this last was bad. Slow service, overly salty food, and just not good. Have you used It's awesome. So when a friend wanted to meet for lunch in Ventura, I used one of my certificates for Savory Cafe & Bakery.
Even though my last meal wasn't great, I'm not giving up on them. It might have just been an off day. I love the atmosphere (we always sit outside) and the menu has lots to offer.

The only soup they offered was tomato. Normally, I love tomato soup. This was not good though. Big chunks of garlic that hadn't been softened at all and monster chunks of tomato. It was as if someone forgot to blend the soup and decided to serve it anyway.
We both ordered the French Chicken Salad which was soooo salty that I couldn't taste anything else.
The only thing that saved the meal- the french fries and dip. So delicious.
Have you ever had a bad experience at a restaurant that you normally really like?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas so far. I've been enjoying the holidays with family and friends. This time of year always reminds me how blessed I am and I hope I never take it for granted.
I've so enjoyed looking at all the delicious photos everyone has been posting on their blogs. I didn't do as much baking as I would have liked this holiday, but Santa brought me a Le Creuset grill pan and some new cookbooks so there are food photos in my future.
Here's a little taste of something I did take the time to make last week. The Barefoot Contessa's Raspberry Orange Trifle. So So Yummy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Awesome Giveaway

I happened upon this giveaway while I was reading Amber's blog Airing My Dirty Laundry.
They are giving away some awesome items so I thought I'd share with you. I hope you win.

Utopia & Long Beach Aquarium

Our friend celebrated his 30th birthday at a restaurant in Long Beach a couple weeks ago. My hubby and I decided to spend the day at the Aquarium and then join the group for dinner.
First up, the restaurant is called Utopia. We got there early and shared a beer at the bar. It's a cute place with a piano playing in the background and dim lighting.
I can't remember what beer it was but it was light with hints of strawberry. Very yummy.

We were starving at this point so we shared an order of bruschetta. This was also the appetizer that was ordered for the table. Our order didn't have toasted bread, but the order for the table did; weird. It was tasty but nothing amazing.

I'm not a fan of calamari, but the group said it was good so I'll take their word for it.
Not pictured, my entree. Mainly because I forgot to take a photo but also because it wasn't good. I had pesto pasta that was super bland. Definitely, will not be ordering that again. My husband got the chicken marsala, which wasn't that great either.
We had cupcakes for dessert which were fabulous. Thank you to our hostess for letting me take one home too. I had it for breakfast the next morning.
In the end, even if the food wasn't that good, all that mattered was being with friends and celebrating the birthday.
Earlier that day, we went to the Long Beach Aquarium. It was so fun and decorated for Christmas. It's a great facility. I marveled at all the different fish but the Lorikeets were my favorite. You get to feed them, they land on you and let you pet them. So cool.

My very patient husband let me take my time and stare at all the animals. He's not a fan of seeing them in captivity but went with me anyway. Thanks honey.

Thank you to Lindsay for all the Goodies.

These are all the yummy goodies I received from Lindsay. She has a great blog called The Lean Green Bean.
Here is a link to her site

We participated in a blogger baked goods exchange and she had me to send goodies to. I was super excited as soon I saw the package in the mail. I stood at my kitchen counter and took a bite out of each thing. The cookies with the Snickers surprise were my favorite. I can see why her husband likes them so much. I snacked on all her delicious treats for days and so appreciate that she sent me such a variety. Thank you Lindsay.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ducks in Alabama

Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved ducks. I have a picture of in my office of my dad and I surrounded by ducks while on a camping trip. So when I heard there is a duck pond in Alabama I was super excited to see. Tons and tons of ducks and geese. I've heard some pretty terrifying stories of geese chasing and pecking at people who get to close. These were very friendly geese. Take a look......

Bye Bye ducks, thanks for letting me hang out with you.

Cupcake Camp Recap 2

Cupcake Camp was so much fun and I can't wait for the next one. I have so many great photos so I thought I'd share more. Enjoy!

Minestrone in a Bread Bowl

Perfect for a cold, rainy night. Minestrone in a Bread Bowl.

My version is very simple:
Your favorite veggies (I don't like very many so the soup is limited to):
a can of whole plum tomatoes, here is something interesting I read about canned tomatoes..... The article said diced tomatoes are made from the worst of the crop. If you buy whole tomatoes and chop them yourself you are getting the better part of the crop. I don't know if it's true but I followed the advice and put a large can of whole tomatoes in the food processor instead of buying the cannned diced.
a can of white cannellini beans
bay leaf
chicken stock
your choice of noodles. I used the mutli-colored kind from Trader Joes.
Put everything in a pot and cook until veggies are tender.
Then ladle into a bread bowl and enjoy. I sprinkle a little parmesean on top.

Soft, Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

I'm participating in a Blogger Baked Goods exchange and since my goodies have to make it all the way from California to New York, I needed a cookie that would keep well. I've been thinking of what to bake for days and time is running out, the package needs to be in the mail tomorrow. Tonight, I pulled out an old copy of Cook's Illustrated and made Soft, Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies. These are delicious, festive and will travel well. I really hope she likes them. I'll reveal the blogger I exchanged with next week. Happy Baking!

Here is the link for the recipe,-bars,-and-brownies-recipes/southern/miscellaneous/soft-and-chewy-molasses-spice-cookies-recipe/

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A "Thank You" Dinner

As any pet owner knows, whenever you leave town you have to arrange care for you animals. We have 3 cats. Yes, I managed to talk my husband into 3 cats, all adopted at different times though. And as much as he loves them, 3 is a lot and it's hard to ask anyone else to feed and clean up after so many kitties. So, when we left town we asked our friends to check on them. Thankfully, they said yes. As a thank you, I left a gift basket of goodies and then when we returned home, a nice dinner.

This is Julia Child's recipe for a cheese souffle. I don't have a souffle dish so it's a little flatter than it normally would be, but it was delicious and surprisingly, really easy to make. The cheese I used was a Gruyere/cheddar mix that it now being sold at Trader Joe's.

Pan-fried gnocchi. I know it sounds weird and I was hesitant to try it, but I saw Nigella make it on the cooking channel and I trust her recipes. It was so worth it. Deliciously crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Cranberry Bread from the Sister's Cafe blog. This was actually the reason I did a take on breakfast for dinner. I saw this blog post and since I had all the ingredients I knew it was meant to be. The bread is wonderful and is going to make a great addition to the baked goods I give out as presents for the holidays.
Here is a link to their blog.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Greek Ziti and Joe Joe's Ice Cream

Happy Friday!
I tried this recipe from Rachael Ray's magazine and it was delicious. I love greek flavors and feta yummy.
Here is the link:

I made a couple substitutions since Trader Joe's doesn't carry everything I needed. I used ground beef instead of lamb and a red bell pepper for the red chili. I added a little cayenne for the spice it was missing. I hope you give this dish a try.

And, I was so excited to see....Candy Cane ice cream at Trader Joes. So So YUMMY!

Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama

Bellingrath Gardens, Alabama- the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen. Sorry, I've been away from blogging for so long. I plan to catch up on your posts this week. I just got home at 1:30 this morning from a week in Alabama. A first for me, as I've never been to the South and also have never spent that much time in an airplane. Flying through storms is no fun and there were a couple scary moments I thought we were going to fall out of the sky, but we made it back home safely. We spent Thanksgiving with my husband's family and one of our many excursions included a trip to these gardens for the Christmas show. If you live within driving distance, it's so worth it. It takes some serious photography skills to really capture all the lights but we did our best. Enjoy.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.