Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Tenders and Oven Fries

A quick dinner - Buffalo Chicken Tenders and Oven Fries:

The tenders are the same recipe I tried recently. It's so easy and so tasty, perfect for a quick meal. Instead of the potato salad I just made oven fries - cut up potatoes tossed with oil and salt, roasted in the toaster oven at 425 for about 35 minutes. They were a little greasy, but pretty tasty nonetheless. I also served cut up celery sticks alongside, to keep with the chicken wing theme.
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Vanilla Pudding Pops

SP was leafing through the June issue of Everyday Food when he came across a recipe for Vanilla Pudding Pops. He decided to make them using these old molds his mother gave us:

The result was pretty good. We both think there needed to be a little more vanilla flavor, but it worked quite well.
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Chicken Sandwiches

It was so gorgeous on Monday that we decided to grill for dinner and eat outside. SP wanted chicken sandwiches:

I pounded the chicken thin so it would cook quickly on the grill. After I flipped the pieces over I added cheddar cheese so it would melt. I also cooked some bacon and we had leftover tomato from the burgers. A smear of mayo and a toasted bun made the sandwich. I had mine with Terra chips while SP finished off the rest of the pasta salad.
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On Monday SP and I wanted an afternoon snack. I had enough fixings for a plate of nachos:

I like to build layers so all the chips get the yummy toppings. I topped these with salsa, queso, chopped scallions and olives, along with shredded cheddar cheese. They really hit the spot.
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Sleeping Kitty

My little smoosh, sleeping the day away on a lazy Memorial Day:

Ain't he the cutest?
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Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Cookout

On Sunday we had friends over for a Memorial Day cookout. They brought chips and salsa that we enjoyed out in the back yard, along with Rum Runners and Pina Coladas:

SP grilled up some hamburgers and hot dogs:

... and I made pasta salad:

I was really pleased with the pasta salad. Our guests had requested a traditional pasta salad with Italian dressing; something I've never made. I couldn't use something bottled so I made my own Italian dressing using this recipe and tossed it with the hot pasta. I also diced green and orange peppers, tomatoes, olives, broccoli, celery, red onion and scallion and tossed everything together with a little more dressing. It was really good, if I do say so myself. My plate:

The burgers were juicy and tasted great with lettuce, tomato and red onion. Our guests also brought cupcakes to round out the meal:

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend!
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Kitty Update

I mentioned that our cat was sick, so I thought I'd give you guys an update in case anyone was wondering.

After a multitude of trips to the vet, expensive tests, lots of anxiety, force-feeding and hoping for the best, our cat has made a full recovery. From what, we don't know. The vet was perplexed and told us that sometimes cats just have unexplained fever/illness. His best guess was that he got a virus and it made him feel crappy so he stopped eating. Apparently cats like to do that when they're sick. At his worst he was down to 10.5 pounds. But luckily the combination of antibiotics, force-feeding and an appetite stimulant helped him on the road to recovery and when he went back to the vet 5 days later he was up to 12.25 pounds. He's now back to his old self - playing, running around the house, eating like a champ and meowing at us when we aren't paying him enough attention. He and I spent a good part of Memorial Day snuggled up together on a chair. It's good to have my baby back!
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Breakfast Burritos

On Saturday I made breakfast burritos:

... that came out so yummy! I scrambled eggs with cooked green pepper and onion, added a little salsa and stuffed the mixture into tortillas with a little cheddar cheese and taco sauce.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Pizza Friday

I think the worst of this cold is past. I actually felt like cooking tonight and luckily we had one ball of pizza dough in the freezer and some mozzarella cheese in the fridge. We didn't have any toppings so I just did a plain pizza.

I have to say, these last few pizzas have been amazing. Even a simple plain pizza tasted fantastic. I preheated the pizza stone for a good 30-45 minutes since I read something about the stone working best when heated for a full hour. The crust was superb and even the cheese cooperated, cutting into clean slices like you'd get at a pizza parlor:

I love making pizza at home. My next challenge is going to be grilled pizza. I keep hearing good things about it but I'm skeptical since we have a charcoal grill and can't really control the temperature.
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As you can probably tell by now, this was what we refer to in our house as a "rebuilding" week. We got home late on Monday. We had no food in the house since we'd been away all weekend and I was very sick. Tuesday I stayed home and slept. There was simply no motivation to go grocery shopping, let alone cook a meal. SP picked up Quiznos for dinner Wednesday night, but I barely ate because I still felt horrid. By Thursday I was on the mend so SP got one of our favs, Chik-fil-A:

I like the original sandwich with extra pickles. And you can't go wrong with waffle fries. Of course they are never very hot or crispy when you get them to-go, but they still hit the spot.
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Chinese Takeout

As I already mentioned, I came down with a nasty head cold at the end of our Chicago trip. Flying home on Monday was no picnic, but I kept thinking that soon enough I'd be home eating yummy Chinese food before snuggling into bed for a good long sleep. SP picked up some hot and sour soup:

... and chicken with peanuts in hot sauce, extra, extra spicy, for me for dinner. I was so sick I couldn't even taste the spiciness even though I could see tons of red pepper flakes. It was really good, though. I'll definitely ask for extra, extra spicy from now on.

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Chicago Trip - Keefer's

Whenever we go to Chicago we have to eat steak at least once. My grandparents are regulars at Keefer's so that's where we went on Saturday night. We always have a great time and the food is excellent. I'm sorry for the horrible photos. I didn't bring my camera so I had to use SP's cell phone camera. Not the best quality, but I couldn't let the gorgeous food go unphotographed.

They had a shrimp and avocado special appetizer:

... which was out-of-this-world good. It was half an avocado (which you all know I love), stuffed with shrimp salad and topped with a piece of lobster. The whole thing was dressed with a citrus vinaigrette. Watercress, slices of grapefruit and tomato finished the plate. I would have licked the plate clean if that was socially acceptable.

SP got another special, a gumbo:

... that was spicy and very flavorful. My grandparents also split the avocado and seafood appetizer, as well as a large salad.

I ordered the New York strip, very rare:

It was perfectly cooked, with excellent seasoning. I almost wished I hadn't had the appetizer so I could have eaten more steak, but the avocado and shrimp were just too tasty.

SP got filet mignon served with Dianne sauce (brandy and mushrooms):

We also shared an order of creamed spinach:

... and au gratin potatoes:

Everything was fantastic. I wish we had a restaurant this good in our area. It would definitely be our go-to place for every special occasion.
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Chicago Trip - Topo Gigio

Sunday night we went out with my grandparents for an Italian dinner. They've always liked a restaurant called Topo Gigio. I'm sorry the photos are so bad. The lighting was awful, but I didn't want to miss a chance to take photos.

SP and I shared an order of calamari:

... that was served with a fantastic marinara sauce. The calamari were perfectly cooked and even my grandmother kept snagging pieces. SP is a huge fan of fettuccine alfredo with sausage and even though it wasn't on the menu he asked if they could make it. The dish they placed in front of him contained a huge mound of pasta, a thick, creamy sauce and spicy sliced sausage:

It was so good we kept eating and eating long after we were full. And yes, I said we. I ordered my own dish, but since SP's wouldn't reheat well the next day I abandoned my dish (I sent the leftovers home with my grandparents), in favor of finishing his meal. It was outstanding. Truly exceptional, especially for a restaurant that didn't have this dish on the menu.

I ordered the rigatoni in pomodoro sauce with pancetta, fresh mozzarella and basil:

It was really good, with lots of pancetta and creamy mozzarella. I'm sure it made for great leftovers the next day.
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Chicago Trip - Fox & Obel

There is an awesome specialty market near where my grandparents live called Fox & Obel. In addition to prepared foods, fresh meat and seafood, vegetables, and specialty products, they have a cafe. SP and I love going there for breakfast when we're in town so we stopped in on Sunday morning. He always goes for the breakfast panini:

... made with crusty bread stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese. Breakfast potatoes come alongside. I love their Cobb omelet:

... stuffed with chicken, tomato, scallion, apple-wood smoked bacon, blue cheese and avocado. It comes with the same breakfast potatoes and choice of toast (I got an English muffin with jam). I also had a fresh-squeeze orange juice. If we lived in the city we'd be here all the time on weekends. Great food and it's fun to sit by the window and people-watch while you read the newspaper.
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Chicago Trip - Chinatown Meetup

On Saturday SP and I went to Chinatown to participate in a What's Cookin Chicago Meetup. I'd heard about the event from Joelen, a member of a cooking board I frequent. To read more about the event and see more pictures, click here.

We did dim sum and I have no clue what anything is, but I'll try my best. I think these are shrimp dumplings:

Some kind of scallion cake:

More dumplings, probably pork:

These I know - ribs:

I think the filling had Chinese spinach:

Fried baby octopus

Turnip cakes (I love these):

Beef meatballs:

Beef spareribs in black bean sauce:

I think the filling had beef:

Fried dumplings:

These little packets were stuffed with delicious sticky rice:

Some kind of taro ball, I think:

Pork dumplings:

Egg tart:

Sticky rice:


And more dumplings:

Pork sticky buns:

After the dim sum lunch we walked across the street to a shopping mall where they had all the zodiac signs represented in statues. I'm the rooster:

... and SP is the rabbit:

The view down one of the streets:

SP and I stopped at a bakery and got a sesame ball filled with red bean paste. Here's the outside:

... and the bean paste inside:

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