Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dressed Up Tortellini

I am a big fan of tortellini, but sometimes I feel like there isn't a large variety of things to do with it besides boiling it and adding some type of sauce to it. This brings me to why this recipe is so amazing because it isn't your average tortellini dinner. Whipping cream makes a unique creamy and flavorful sauce for this dish that compliments the other ingredients that accompany the cheese tortellini.

My mom as usual deserves the props for this recipe because she is the one who found it and every time she's cooked it it has received rave reviews. I remember it was served at one of my birthday parties and several family members left that night with the recipe in tow. I recently made it for the first time and it seemed to get the same rave reviews as my mom got when she first started making it years ago. So of course I think it is only fair to share this recipe on here, so that other people can make this award winning dish and even better it is super easy and takes almost no time at all to put together.

Also, the leftovers are just as delicious the next day.

Dressed Up Tortellini

1/2 cup Onion
3 cloves Garlic
1 box Spinach, thawed
1 cup Tomatoes, seeded & cubed
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 cup Whipping cream
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 9oz packages Cheese tortellini

1. Saute onion and garlic
2. Add the thawed spinach (do not drain the spinach) and heat through
3. Add seeded and cubed tomatoes, salt, and pepper and cook 5 minutes
4. Add the whipping cream and the Parmesan cheese. Cook until mix just comes to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to low and add the tortellini.
6. Cook until the tortellini is heated all the way through

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Creme de Menthe Brownies

I have always loved these brownies and can distinctly remember all the way back to when I was very little at our old house before I had any siblings and watching my mom make them at Christmas time. Now the thing I can't remember so clearly, and I might have to ask my mom, is if I actually liked eating these when I was younger or if I acquired the taste for them as I aged. If the latter is the actual truth then it was the light minty, almost an ice mint, green frosting that I loved the looks of wedged between the two layers of chocolate.

The funny thing is I tell everyone about these brownies and get them all enthused, but then end up only making them for very few people,so I guess the message here is if you get these brownies from me then you are either very lucky or special or hey maybe even both. I think the big factor in me not making them as often or for as many people as I want to is that I have never actually owned the Creme de Menthe that goes into them, my mom does but that does me little good since I no longer live at home. With that being said I decided to finally splurge and buy myself a bottle of Creme de Menthe and yes it must be the green version not the clear kind. Oh and an added bonus is that I can now make "Special" hot chocolate with the Creme de Menthe.

The actual brownie part in this recipe is super moist because chocolate syrup goes into the batter and then after the brownies come out of the oven and cool off they're frosted with the Creme de Menthe frosting and finally chocolate chips are melted and then poured over to make the final layer for these lucious brownies. The final step is to let the brownies chill for a bit (yes you must resist the temptation to dig in) and then you can finally cut yourself a square and indulge in these oh so chocolately and minty brownies.
Creme de Menthe Brownies


1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
4 Eggs
1 (16 oz) can Chocolate syrup
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Flour

Mix ingredients together and pour batter into a greased 13x9 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes


1/2 cup Butter
2 cups Powdered sugar
4-6 tsp (I usually use more) Creme de Menthe (the green variety)

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and then add the Creme de Menthe. Spread over COOLED brownies.


1 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 tbs Butter

Melt together over low heat. Let cool slightly and then spread over brownies. Chill 1 hour and then ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Restaurant Review: Joey B's on The Hill

You're probably thinking right about now: What another restaurant review, doesn't she cook anymore? The answer is yes I actually cook quite often, it just happens to be that some of my dinners aren't worthy of being posted on here. Yeah they're good and healthy, but way too boring for me to even write about. No worries though I promise that I have 2 very exciting recipes that are soon to make an appearance on here.

Joey B's is a fairly new addition to The Hill and has only be there between 6 months to a year. The owner of this restaurant has some other restaurants located throughout St. Louis though. This place is fairly casual dining and they boast many flat screen TV's to catch all the latest sports on. The restaurant also seems to be very popular as it was pretty busy for a Thursday night.

The first thing I got to try here was the fried pickles. Ok, you're probably yet again seeing another trend here and that would be the fried food trend. What can I say yes I know that deep fried food is
n't the greatest thing for you, but it can be extremely tasty, at least my experiences with it so far have been, and it isn't like I indulge in it everyday; so that leaves me to say you might as well enjoy some things in life. Anyways back to the important thing here the fried pickles. We got a heaping bowl full of these. There must have been at least 20 and there was no way we could get through all of them and still have room for dinner. The pickles where cut into smaller wedges, which made eating them much easier especially when I was imaging a whole pickle being fried to eat. The batter on these were nice and crispy not soggy from the actual pickle and overall these had good flavor. With that being said even though they were very good I couldn't eat a ton of these in one sitting.

As for the main course I had lasagna,which I have been eyeing at every Italian restaura
nt I've eaten at recently. To set the record straight when you order lasagna at Joey B's you don't get a petite lasagana square you get a brick of lasagna well make that more like 2 bricks of lasagna. There was at least 5 layers that made up this lasagna. Each one consisted of a finely ground beef and ricotta cheese mixture along with marinara sauce. The entire thing was then topped off with more marinara and Mozzarella cheese melted on top. There was no way that I could finish this in one sitting and ended up taking home at least 3/4 of it, which meant that I didn't have to cook dinner for 2 nights and I think that is a good deal. I'll leave you here with a picture of the leftovers I took home with me.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Restaurant Review: Mangia & Ted Drewes

You might be starting to see a trend here that I love Italian food and seem to be able to eat it anytime I get the opportunity. Mangia is more of an intimate restaurant that offers the feel of both casual and slightly upper scale dining combined into one.I had some of the best eggplant Parmesan here and you might also be noticing another trend, that I really enjoy eggplant. The eggplant was sliced into thick rounds and unlike most eggplant Parmesans the breading did not become soggy from all the moisture in the eggplant. That right there alone was a huge success to me. In addition, the eggplant Parmesan was served with pasta in a marinara sauce along with broccoli and cauliflower. Yes, that's right you heard me correctly they even served up veggies with this meal. Mm writing this is already making me want this dish again.

My partner in crime had the goat cheese raviolis, which I heard were quite delicious too. As you have probably guessed this restaurant was a success and gets another thumbs up from me.

After this meal it was decided that I had to try Ted Drewes. Ted Drewes is a St. Louis institution and definitely on my St. Louis to-do list. In the summertime swarms of people crowd around the place to get their concretes and by winter the stand becomes a place where you can buy Christmas trees, get warm drinks, and yes still get the famous frozen custard.What makes Ted Drewes so unique is that they don't serve ice cream they serve frozen custard, which is what I would call a richer version of ice cream and very tasty. They are also famous for what is called a concrete. The easiest way to describe it is that it is like a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, except 10 times better, yes definitely 10 times better.I tried the concrete called Cardinal Sin. This consisted of chocolate and cherries mixed into the frozen custard. Mm, so good. My partner in crime had the Dottie which consisted of mint, chocolate, and macadamia nuts mixed into the frozen custard, which I tasted and it was so good that I might have to get it next time. So yes it was probably 40 degrees outside and I won't even get into what the wind chill most likely was, but we stood in line (yes there were many others as crazy as us out for some Ted Drewes) and then ran back to the car to eat it with the heater on and I enjoyed every bit of it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Spinach & Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken

Having found myself with leftover spinach from my crepe experience I decided to try making stuffed chicken, well it is actually more like rolled chicken but you get the idea. Something about the idea of having chicken filled with warm spinach, garlic, onions, and Mozzarella cheese that oozes out when you cut into it seemed so irresistible to me.

Making this was really simple and can easily be done in a variety of ways. In the past I've eaten variations that included chicken stuffed with prosciutto and Provolone cheese. However, I did forget to take any pictures until I took the chicken out of the oven, so you won't be able to see my step-by-step process for this, so my description will have to suffice.

In order to get a large enough surface to lay out my filling on I had to pound out my chicken flat. Since I do not have a meat mallet I used my trusty hammer, which did an excellent job. I placed the chicken onto my cutting board and covered it with plastic wrap, then I took out my frustrations on the chicken and hit at it. Once I got it to what I thought seemed flat enough I spooned some of my leftover spinach mixture onto the chicken followed by a sprinkle of Mozzarella cheese. Next I rolled the chicken up tightly starting at one end and slowly rolling making sure to keep the filling tightly secured inside of the roll. I then placed the chicken into a baking dish with the flap side down so that the ends will seal together during the cooking process. You can then season the outside of the chicken with what ever you wish. Finally, I baked the chicken at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Restaurant Review: Olympia Kebob House & Taverna

I know that I haven't written anything on here for quite some time, but things have been hectic to say the least. With my first semester of grad school coming to an end along with the prospect of finals ahead of me and not to mention my small computer disaster there hasn't been much free time for me. I promise though that I have a whole bunch of things that I've been accumulating to post on.

I am so happy to say that I have finally had my first experience with Greek food and it was an amazing one to say the least. If you haven't tried it yet you definitely need to at least once in your lifetime. I was taken to the Olympia Kebob House and Taverna, which is touted as one of the best Greek food places in St. Louis. The atmosphere of the restaurant was casual and extremely friendly. The staff was nice and our waiter with the handlebar mustache was very energetic.
The first dish that I got to try here was the Saganoki. Saganoki is fried feta cheese, but what makes this dish so cool is that at your table it has brandy poured over it and then the cheese is lit on fire with a shout of "Opa" from the waiter and to finish it off lemon is squeezed over the cheese. It is hard to actually describe this dish besides saying that it is very good, but hard to consume large quantities of it at one time. An interesting thing to note is that we must have started a trend because once we ordered it everyone else in the restaurant decided it would be a good idea to order it too.

As for my main dish that night I tried the Moussaka. Again I was not disappointed at all by this dish. Moussaka is largely made with sauteed eggplant and has a bechemal sauce. I actually cannot remember now, but there may have been some feta in it too. When this is served to you it looks like a large puff pastry muffin filled with the eggplant mixture. It was very delicious and so big that it was impossible for me to finish.

When I make it back to this restaurant I want to try their Gyros, which I hear are fabulous.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I hope everyone has an excellent Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to eating a delicious meal as well. I'm not traveling back to California this Thanksgiving, so it is weird not being at home where my mom would be cooking the meal and I'd be helping out where I could. On the bright side I get to spend Thanksgiving here in St. Louis, which I love with great people, so I'm excited to see how it goes.

In the upcoming weeks I have several restaurant reviews to write and a few delicious recipes to share. Also, something else to look forward to is the Christmas baking, which I'll hopefully be doing when I travel back to home for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

California Crepe

There is a restaurant in the town I attended undergrad that is a local favorite where during the lunch hours or the weekend you could easily find the line to order practically out the door. This restaurant was one of my favorites in Davis and I find myself, here in St. Louis, craving my favorite dish from there now and then. So, I was feeling somewhat adventurous this week and decided to recreated Crepeville's California Crepe, mmmm. Now don't get me wrong there were many menu items on the menu from crepes that were entrees to dessert crepes, other breakfast dishes, salads, sandwiches, and pastas and they were all supposed to be good; I would even enjoy the Mediterrean Crepe from time to time, was told that the Eggs Benedict were excellent, and my best friend swore by the Country Scramble (scrambled eggs, with melted cheese, and apple sausage), but I would always nevertheless return to the deliciousness of the California Crepe.

Making this was truly an adventure for me considering I had never even made crepes before, but I had heard it was easy and was up for the challenge. I am proud to say that my first crepe, although not perfectly round, came out very nicely and didn't even stick to the bottom of the pan. In fact they all came out very easily and my biggest fear of trying to flip them turned out to be a piece of cake too. However, I will say that the next time I make these, which I'm thinking will be very soon, I will attempt to make them even thinner than I got these to be.
So, by now you're probably wondering what did I fill my crepe with to make it the California Crepe, well I'll admit right away that my crepe was not a perfect replication of the one that I would get at Crepeville. The California Crepe at Crepeville is filled with onion, spinach, avocado, sun-dried tomato pesto, and Provolone cheese. I couldn't find sun-dried tomato pesto and if I did I'm not sure I'd want to pay the price for it, I used frozen spinach instead of fresh, and instead of using Provolone cheese I just used the Monterey Jack cheese that I had on hand. I also made my version of Crepeville's House Potatoes by cubing red potatoes boiling until tender and then cooking them with minced garlic and melted butter.

The beauty of a crepe is that you can fill it with whatever you want and make it appropriate for any meal of the day.

Basic Crepe Recipe
From: Allrecipes

1 c All-purpose flour
2 Eggs
1/2 c Milk
1/2 c Water
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Butter, melted

1) In mixing bowl wisk together four and eggs, gradually add in the milk and then water, stirring to combine
2) Add the salt and butter and mix until smooth
3) Heat lightly oiled pan over medium heat
4) Scoop batter onto the pan and tilt pan in a circular motion so batter evenly coats the surface
5) Cook approx. 2 minutes on one side (or until light brown), loosen crepe with spatual and flip to cook other side
6) Fill with your choice of ingredients and enjoy

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Salmon Tacos

I found myself with some salmon in my freezer and feeling creative I decided to try my hand at making fish tacos. I've only recently started eating fish, so I haven't had a lot of experience making it, but I do enjoy eating it in a variety of ways. Before I get into the actual recipe I should point out that salmon and fish in general is very healthy for you. Fish is full of heart healthy omega-3 fat, which helps to decrease inflammation. What that means is that it helps to prevent heart disease and that is something that everyone should be working to prevent. Okay, now to stop going on about the health benefits of fish and move onto the actual meal I made.

I seasoned the salmon with chili powder, cumin, and lemon juice and then baked it. To make the tacos I flaked the baked salmon and put it into a corn tortilla with shredded lettuce and jack cheese. To go along with the tacos I also made black beans with garlic and onion and seasoned with chili powder, pepper, and cumin.
I have to say for my first try with these they were delicious. The salmon was cooked nicely and you could taste the mixture of spices with the hint of lemon. I actually think the corn tortillas were a nice complement to them and happy that I had those instead of the usual flour ones.Salmon Tacos

1/2 Lemon
1 1/2 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp Cumin
Shredded lettuce
Corn tortillas
Jack cheese, grated


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put salmon in a baking dish and squeeze the fresh lemon over it and sprinkle with chili powder and cumin

2) Cook for 15 minutes
3) Let cool for a few minutes and then use a fork to flake it into chunks
4) Warm corn tortillas, so they won't break
5) Assemble the tacos by placing shredded lettuce, and salmon in the corn tortilla and sprinkle with jack cheese
6) Serve with black beans (these could be put into the taco too) or any other side of your choice

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spicy Chili

There are a few recipes where I always have the ingredients (more or less) on hand to make them whenever I either crave them or have nothing else to make. One of these such recipes is my spicy chili. I don't have an official recipe for this, I made it up one day and for the most part play it by ear when making it. I do know that I like to make it nice and spicy, which is perfect for when I am making it just for myself to eat. Another great thing is that I can get more than one day of meals out of it or if I don't feel like eating it for several days in a row I know that I can always freeze it and pull it out to eat at a later date.

A bowl of homemade chili is perfect on those fall (well lately it is starting to seem more and more like winter here) days when you want something that is going to not only fill you up, but warm you up too. Even better this a no fuss meal, meaning you don't have to constantly hover over it while it cooks. Not to bore you here either, but this can be a really healthy meal too, fiber packed beans and antioxidant rich tomato sauce are just the beginning of the benefits from this meal.
As usual when I sat down to enjoy my bowl of chili for dinner it did not disappoint me one bit. It had the perfect amount of spiciness for me, thanks to an ample amount of chili powder and cumin I poured in. One warning with this recipe I have tweaked it so that it makes a smaller amount of chili, obviously if you plan to feed many people with this recipe you can easily scale it to fit your needs by increasing the ingredients accordingly.

1 tbs Olive oil
1/4 lg White onion, diced
1-2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 med Carrot, diced
1/4-1/2 Bell pepper, chopped
3/4 of 24.5 oz can Tomato sauce (I froze what was left)
3/4 of 14.5 oz can Diced tomatoes (freeze what is left w/ leftover tomato sauce)
15 oz can Black beans (you could use any variety of bean kidney, white, etc)
Pepper to taste
Chili Powder to taste
Cumin to taste
Cayenne Pepper to taste (optional)
1/3 cup Frozen corn

1) Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, then add carrots and bell pepper and let cook for a few minutes
2) Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes (I used no salt added diced tomatoes), reduce heat to medium
3) Add your spices and let everything simmer for about 15 minutes
4) Next add the beans after thoroughly rinsing them under running water. Add more spices if needed and continue to let simmer covered.
5) A few minutes before serving add the frozen corn to the chili and again add more spices if needed.
6) Serve hot in a bowl topped with grated cheese and diced onions if you want or any other toppings you can think of.

*Note: You can easily use ground beef, turkey, or cubes of chicken in this recipe if you wish, just add that in after sauteing the onion and garlic.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Restaurant Review: Guido's Pizzeria & Tapas

I finally had the opportunity to go to The Hill here in St. Louis. You may remember me referring to it recently when I was talking about the toasted ravioli. The Hill is home to the only AAA 4 diamond restaurant in Missouri, so I think that is a pretty big feat there. Besides that there were so many restaurants that looked like they would be really good and I imagine that they are considering the crowds of people flocking to and from them. To me The Hill really did feel like a close knit Italian community, like it originally was. There were all the houses with Italian restaurants, bakeries, and shops scattered throughout. Not to mention the fire hydrants painted in honor of the Italian flag.

On this particular day I ate at Guido's Pizzeria and Tapas. The restaurant was how I picture Italian restaurants to be. You can particularly tell that this one is family own and they treat you as part of the family. The service there was amazing. The menu claims to bring a little bit of Spai
n into the middle of Italy. The majority of the menu features traditional Italian food with another of the menu devoted to dishes from Spain, especially the famous tapas. Tapas are a type of appetizer or snack in Spain typically eaten in between lunch and dinner, since dinner is not served until sometime between 9-11pm.
Now to the most important part what did I eat...Let me begin with the fact that this was an extremely difficult choice as Italian food is one of my favorites, so everything looked remarkably good that night. I finally narrowed it down between the manicotti and lasagna and eventually chose the manicotti with marinara. The dish came out piping hot in it's own miniature baking dish and I'm not sure I can do justice to this dish with my description. The marinara had a very fresh tomatoey flavor with melted mozzarella, the manicotti shells seemed to be fresh/homemade pasta as they were thin and very tender. The filling in the shells was ricotta cheese with herbs (I'm assuming something along the lines of basil there). You can be certain that I finished my dinner on this night. I am definitely planning to go back to The Hill in the near future and mangiare.

Happy One Month to A Foodie Loves Company! :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Restaurant Review: Blueberry Hill

Blueberry Hill is a landmark in St. Louis. It is a restaurant, bar, and music club all tied into one. They're famous for their pop culture memorabilia that covers the walls. The table that I sat at had the Monopoly game bored screened onto it. Apparently, well so I've heard, John Goodman used to frequent Blueberry Hill and occasionally still pops up there.

Blueberry Hill is home to the Duck Room where you can catch live music on a regular basis. It is said that Chuck Berry plays there once every month. On nights with shows or just on the weekends in general Blueberry Hill will be overflowing with people.

Now I'm sure you've been waiting to hear me talk about the food. The menu wasn't bursting with tons of items, which was actually nice it kept it simpler and easier to make a choice, but it did have many tasty options available. Many people claim that Blueberry Hill is home to the best burgers in St. Louis, so of course I've been dying to try one and see if it lives up to the standards I have for a burger. The burger was cooked to order and was moist and very flavorful. It was served on a sweeter bun, which I wasn't sure about at first but ended up liking, with pickles, lettuce, and tomato on the side. Overall, I have to say that this was a very good burger and I would definitely order one again there.

I also finally tried toasted ravioli's here, which is something that has been on my list of things to do when I got here. In case you were wondering a toasted ravioli is a ravioli that has been fried and legend has it that they were invented right here in St. Louis in the Italian community called The Hill. They were served with marinara sauce for dipping and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The ravioli's were crunchy on the outside and nice and tender on the inside. These did not disappoint me one bit. I'm sure that they are not at all healthy for you, but they were so delicious and I can't wait to eat them again. I also recommend that everyone should try them if given the opportunity.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mint Chocolate Delights

I was so excited when I stumbled upon these festive morsals at Schnucks, the bag is a mix of dark chocolate chips and mint chips. An excellent flavor combination, reminding me of mint chip ice cream. Right away I knew exactly what cookie recipe I would use for them and couldn't wait to get around to baking these.Fast forward a couple of weeks and I'm ready to whip up this cookie recipe. Now here's the thing I knew exactly how I wanted and was expecting these cookies to come out. They were suppose to be on the thinner side and nice and chewy. When I took these out of the oven they were looking surprisingly fluffy and not as spread out as I was hoping. That's when it hit me I had meant to use the Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookie recipe and replace the peanut butter chips for my dark chocolate and mint chips. Instead, I had essentially made the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe with the addition of cocoa powder in it. Were these cookies what I was expecting? No. Were they bad? No. Would I use my intended recipe for them instead next time? Yes.

With that being said, the recipe that I did end up making was very cake like. The flavor was very nice, with a good mix of chocolate from the cocoa powder and the dark choclate chips and a delicious hint of mint throughout. The mint chips definitely did not overpower this cookie.

Mint Chocolate Delights
Adapted from: Nestle Toll House

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) dark chocolate and mint chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
4. Add baking soda and salt and mix in
5. Mix in flower one cup at a time until just mixed in, then add the cocoa powder and mix in
6. Stire in the dark chocolate and mint chips
7. Drop onto ungreased baking sheets and bake for 11 to 13 minutes

Monday, October 26, 2009

Restaurant Review: Bailey's Chocolate Bar

Saturday night I had the chance to go to Bailey's Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square. I've heard many people rave about this place and could not wait for the chance to try it. I am very pleased to say that it lived up to every expectation that I had. It is heaven for a chocoholic, so I suppose it might be the perfect place for me.

The Chocolate Bar consists of a front bar area and then in the back a large room with lots of small tables and a patio area, which gives off more of a restaurant feeling. Overall, I would say that the place has a very cozy intimate vibe that is perfect for a date or just a night out with friends. Once we were seated we were given two menus one containing all of their drinks the other being the food menu, a large glass bottle of water, and complementary double chocolate chip cookies (which we'll get to in a moment). I hear the food here is delicious and that the dessert, especially the brownie, is even more amazing, but the real gem of the Chocolate Bar is their specialty drinks involving chocolate.

Since the Chocolate Bar is well known for their variety of chocolate martinis I decided that that is exactly what I needed to try. I had the chocolate macaroon martini served up with a chocolate curl on the side. It was delicious, not too sweet, and nearly impossible to detect any alcohol in the drink. Other drinks that were ordered at our table were the dark chocolate martini and the chocolate raspberry martini. I was told that these were both very good. As for the double chocolate cookies they were very light in flavor. The chocolate cookie part was not overly sweet or too rich. When you got a chocolate chip in a bite it was the perfect surprise to offset the light chocolate flavor of the cookie.

I have to say that this place is definitely a hit, which was also evident by the large number of people that were crowding into the place. I am already thinking about going back there and how many more times it will take me to test out the many interesting menu items.

Here's the link to their website and warning it will most likely leave you craving this place:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

Today I am proving that I don't always bake cookies and brownies and can actually hold my own with cooking. I have found myself with 2 containers of my leftover marinara sauce in my freezer that I want to use and a hankering for some Italian food.

So, tonight for dinner (well possibly for a few days as this can feed one person for quite awhile) I made a classic, Chicken Cacciatore. I have distinct memories of my mom making this when I was growing up and it was always delicious. What I really like about this recipe is that a lot of the ingredients are things that you already have in the kitchen and if you don't and don't feel like going to the store you can always improvise with this recipe. Yep, that's right there are a number of twists and variations you can do with this simple recipe. I was actually finding myself lacking the celery for this dish, so I chopped up a carrot and put that in to make up for it.

This recipe is mmm mmm good with it's melted mozzarella cheese and tender juicy chicken pieces served over pasta. It is actually very healthy too filled with plenty of heart healthy fat found in the olive oil and olives. Not to mention full of the antioxidant lycopene found in the tomato sauce. An added bonus would be using whole wheat pasta (which I did this time) to add a little extra fiber to the meal as well. I won't go into too many specifics here, but trust me you really can't go too wrong with chowing down on this dish.

Another benefit of this dish is it is easy to scale back or increase it's yield based on how many people you want to feed or days you want to be eating leftovers.

Chicken Cacciatore
From: My mom's recipe, so she deserves the props here

Olive oil
Chicken (I prefer using the breasts, but thighs can work nicely too)
Marinara sauce (I season my own sauce up w/ herbs like Italian seasoning and basil and add a little wine)
Mushrooms (I leave them out though)
Medium or large olives
Mozzarella cheese
*I know that I have not included any amounts in this ingredient list, but I don't measure anything out for this recipe everything is eyeballed and based on the amounts that you want and flavors that you're looking for. Don't like garlic then use less, love onion include more etc

1) Sautee onion, garlic, and celery in olive oil until onion turns translucent
2) Add chicken and cook until it is no longer pink
3) Add in your marinara sauce, mushrooms, and drained olives. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes
4) Meanwhile boil pasta (I use penne, but any shape works well) following directions on package
5) Over low heat top the simmering chicken and marinara with mozzarella cheese and let it melt
6) Place some pasta on a dish or in a bowl and spoon the chicken cacciatore over the top
7) Enjoy!

Twists and Variations: Feel free to add additional vegetables to this dish. In the past I have sauteed carrots with the onion, garlic, and celery and have included green beans as well. I have also seen cacciatore recipes made using different meat.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

It is fall break right now, the weather has cooled down, and the leaves are changing colors hence filling me with the need to bake and shove everything into my freezer to munch on at a later date.
I love a good warm chocolate chip cookie as much as the next person, in fact they may even be one of my weaknesses (hey there's chocolate involved so that automatically makes it a weakness). But every once in awhile I'm looking for something slightly less sinful than your typical variety of chocolate chip cookies. This is where a blurb in a magazine article caught my eye and made me ponder my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. The article suggested replacing half of the fat in your recipe (whether it be cookies, pumpkin bread, and so on) with pureed avocado. Avocado is full of monounsaturated fat, the "good" fat, which helps to lower LDL cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol, and increase levels of HDL cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol.
I know you're probably thinking the dough looks a little green, but I swear just wait and see.

About a year and a half ago I gave this suggestion a try hoping that my cookies didn't come out green or tasting like guacamole and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The cookies didn't spread out (so don't freak out when yours don't either) and they come out very moist with a fluffier texture than your traditional chocolate chip cookie. Now it is hard for people to believe that the cookies would actually come out well, but when I feed them to people without them knowing that there's avocado in them they never even notice, and then I reveal my secret to them. Everyone should give these a try at least once!

You can use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe with this trick, but below I've given given my go-to recipe with the avocado substitution for half the fat in them.

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup pureed avocado
1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups AP flour
12 oz chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy
3) Add pureed avocado, vanilla, baking soda, salt and eggs mixing well
4) Add flour one cup at a time mixing until just mixed in, as not to over mix the dough
5) Stir in chocolate chips
6) Drop cookies onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 min or until slightly brown on top
*Note baking times will vary due to the avocado in the cookie. It is best to watch the first pan of cookies and adjust the time and baking temperature as needed.
7) Remove cookies from the cookie sheet and let cool on a cooling rack
8) Enjoy these slightly less sinful cookies!

Yield: About 4 dozen 3" cookies