Monday, July 25, 2011

Mushroom Wellingtons

It's Meatless Monday
and these were great!
I found the recipe in a little magazine my sister gets for the pictures 
and then passes on to me.
It's called Cuisine At Home and it has a website
but it doesn't appear to offer the recipes on line or I would 
link it here for you. 

Basically these are portobello mushrooms that 
you stuff with mushrooms. 
That just doesn't seem right, kind of cannibalistic,
 but good none the less.
Then you wrap it all up in puff pastry, bake and
Mushroom Wellington!

And while I am happy to share this new find,
the happiest piece of news from all this is, 
Puff Pastry has officially become a staple item in my freezer!

Life is good. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Restaurant Review

Steve likes it when I do restaurant reviews so,
this one's for Steve. 
To celebrate our 27th anniversary Honey and I 
headed out to a little winery in 
Maple Park Illinois for dinner last night. 
I didn't remember to take my camera so you get this little
(increasing your vocabulary=free)

I have only heard wonderful things about this
 little winery and restaurant  
so I was excited to check it out for myself.

First off, the only way to
 get rid of your car is with a valet. 
Did I mention there was nothing for miles around but grape vines?
As in, no Citgo to stash your car at?
It was free, which was good, but we didn't exactly have any cash on us
so tipping our free valet was going to be a challenge. 

We went a little early thinking we could sit in the lounge 
and have a glass of wine before we sat down. 
There is no lounge. 
There is, however, a bar that you can stand at.
No chairs. 
They would like you to do wine tasting standing at said bar.
Not really what I had in mind. 
And Tony seemed none too pleased that we were there early. 
We are not 100% sure who Tony is. 
He informed us that he planted the vines. 
(I'm seeing horses heads in my bed if
 I don't like the fruits of them there vines.)
So maybe we didn't all get off on the right foot. 
(ya think?)
But, actually (actually), the wines are pretty good, 
considering we are in Illinois.

We eventually get seated and sitting right next to us
are some old friends from a previous church. 
That's nice. 
My husband, who is the BEST ever!, requests a dessert menu
before we even look at the dinner menus.
There really wasn't anything that looked like it would 
preclude us from a standard (by our measure) 
meal so on to the main menu.

It really is all standard Italian fare. 
We had a pizza for an appetizer and then split
an order of gnocchi. 
The pizza was good, the gnocchi, eh.
If you want FABULOUS gnocchi got to Tri Bella.
Their gnocchi were like little clouds of wonderful. 
But that was another day. 

When all was said and done, we were happy to have tried 
Acquaviva but probably don't need to go back, 
seeing as how the best part 
of the evening was seeing the Tamlins and McConnels. 
And you can't count on that happening every time!

End note: certain apostrophes have been left out so as 
not to incur the wrath of daughter unit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's Home!

How is it that this lamp has not spent it's entire life here?
I found it at a consignment shop.
That sells clothing.
While I was doing yoga.
Could this find have been any more random?
Or any more meant to be?

All is right with the world.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pork Loin with Pinot Noir Sauce

I have my camera and my favorite person to cook for back.
And so you get, 
New Posts!
I know. 
The world waits with bated breath. 
Or at least Mom and Big :o)
So here is yesterday's creation:
As I said before, I love pork tenderloin and am always on the 
look out for new things to do with it.
This was great and really easy. 

The hardest part was educating myself about Demi-Glace.
I happened to walk away from the TV as Claire
was explaining what it is and how you make it.
Big mistake. 
All I knew about it was somebody named
Escoffier had something to do with it and it takes a really 
long time to make. 
Oh, and that my FB friend Maggie had been interested in making it 
from scratch. 
So, at least I knew who to ask for recommendations 
as to a good brand. 
First good call. 
Second good call?
Saying something to the sales person at Williams Sonoma 
about how expensive this stuff was ( $29 for 10 oz)
and that my recipe calls for 2 cups of the stuff!
Uh, it's a concentrate. 
A couple of tablespoon mixed with 2 cups of water should do it. 
Can you imagine what I would have wound up with!?

So crisis averted. 
And I am actually (actually) happy I discovered the stuff.
It has a really deep flavor and the package suggests
adding it to stews. That sounds fantastic.

Lessons learned:
Do NOT walk away from the television. 
Keep someone smarter that you in your back pocket.
Talk to strangers and tell them everything you know. 

Oh, and, Demi-Glace = good thing!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Can You Do It?

Yes, you can!
I am loving my Avocado Chimichurri these days.
I am certain there is nothing that couldn't benefit from having this added to it.
Here I put it on top of a smear of roasted red pepper hummus
on a toasted baguette. 

Last Friday I had the bright idea to swap basil for the cilantro.
It was great!
I wound up with some left over and was wondering what 
to do with it when I caught this recipe from Giada.
Pretty much everything that is in the chimichurri is in this
with the addition of arugula which I happened
to have some of getting ready to wilt away in the fridge.
So I asked myself, 
Can you do it?
You can.

Smiley does it again. 
I'm gonna have to start showing her more respect at some point.

Pork Wellington

Alton Brown style.
I love pork tenderloin and so I'm always interested in new preparations.
This one from Good Eats caught my eye.
It's really quite easy. 
I thought his idea to have you cut the tenderloin in half
and then flip the two sides to create a uniform thickness was great.
He has you stuff it with dried apples, which I did, but next time
I'm going to use craisins and maybe make a cranberry sauce 
to drizzle over the slices. 

It was really quite simple and other than swapping out the fruit,
the only other change I may make would be to 
skip wrapping the tenderloin in prosciutto.
You really couldn't detect it in the final product. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Not quite sure what to title this one. 
It has to do with a trip to The Czech Republic, 
a lawn mower, a forsythia bush, 
flower beds, and giving birth. 
You name it. 
I mean it, you name it.

I haven't written for a while because I usually like a visual to 
go with my rantings, er, stories, 
but my camera is in The Czech Republic. 

I decided to mow the lawn so my sweet son would not 
have to come over and do it. 
 Although he told his father he would
take care of his mother while he was gone, I felt
I should man up and take care of the lawn. 
I don't even want to get started on my lack of skill in working the 
self propel feature. Let's just say, the lawn mower 
dragged me across much of the yard.
And I had the bright idea to start on the front yard
so all of St. Charles could witness and enjoy 
my learning curve. 

OK, forsythia bush.
 It is, well, was, one crazy
out of control all over the place mess. 
The first year we lived here I came home one afternoon
to see my guys chopping the heck out of the poor thing.
Man did I give them what for and they have left it alone ever since. 
Um, it's kind of a real pain to mow around, under, near. 
Wish I had my camera. 
You would be impressed by the destruction I have wrecked. 
It's gonna be a breeze to mow past in the future. 

Flower beds, you know those neat amoeba shapes
that look so artsy in your yard?
Yea, well all things that are not at absolute 90 degree angles
are a PAIN to mow around. 

Know how we women like to say that if men 
had to give birth there would
be a zero population growth?

if I had to mow there would be
squared off shrubs, 
squared off flower beds,
and perhaps, a condo in my very near future. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gotta Love Her

Big came to Margarita Thursday this past week. 
She's gonna come again. 
Shanna and Dirk took care of her bling. 
Lory and I are very happy to have a new playmate. 
Gotta love Big. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

KitchenAid Juicer

But I'm not done talking about this:
Where to start?

First, how cool is it to have a juicer that only takes up
this much space?
It's like the size of a cereal bowl. 

Second, I ordered it at 9 AM Thursday and 
it arrived at 1 PM Friday. 
In time for Margarita Friday. 
And I didn't even pay for expedited shipping. 
What if I had?
Would they have been ringing my bell 
before I even printed my confirmation?

Third, it works like a charm.
Some of the reviews complained that it was messy. 
Well, I found that the juice did splash a bit because the
actual juicer is so far from the bowl but a towel
spread out under the bowl solved that issue.
The other potential problem is in how you hold
the fruit against the juicing mechanism. 
Your inclination it to cup it in the palm of your hand. 
(bet Shanna is shivering)
This sends the juice down your arm. 
That is a mess. 
Holding the fruit in your fingers solves that issue.

And I believe that is all I have to say about that. 
Thank you. 

I Knew You When You Were A Zygote

How's that for a catchy title?
It's what I posted on her FB wall today.
It's her birthday. 
Her big sister was my best friend through all of Junior High
and High School.

My favorite story that involves Melanie is one that she was 
part of before she was even born. 
A group of us kids were at Marci's house (Mel's big sister) swimming.
For some reason little Jimmy Paul
 (don't ask how I can remember his name but not if I closed the garage door on my way out)
did not take kindly to my holding his head under water. 
I am fairly certain it was in retaliation for some equally awful thing he had done to me.
Seeing the look in his eyes when I finally let him up for air, 
I wisely scrambled to the side of the pool. 
Little Jimmy Paul, 
(my way of getting even with him, 
he will always be "Little Jimmy Paul") 
Grabbed the first thing he could get his hands on and chucked it at me.
It was a pair of the old fashioned dive goggles.
They used to be made of glass. 
Oh, yes they did!
And I know because they shattered all into my leg.
Yep, blood EVERYWHERE!

Faye came running out and we were pretty sure she 
was going to have that baby right there and then. 
She didn't. 
Just think Mel, you could have been a June baby!

But fast forward, hmm, 
"many" years.
Marci and I have reconnected through FB. 
(see earlier post on the marvels of FB)
And in so doing, Mel and I have connected. 
She's a total foodie!!!
I'm sure it was my early influence on her. 
In utero.

We met in Skokie a year or so ago for 
Pioneer Woman's book signing. 
And that's my Mel Story. 

I wonder what ever became of Little Jimmy Paul....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Margarita Friday

 I'm not messing around anymore.