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

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Restaurant Review: Flannery's

Recently I enjoyed dinner out at Flannery's (in good company) located in downtown St. Louis, which claimed to have the Irish Pub atmosphere while being a sports bar/grill. After seeing mixed reviews on this restaurant I have to say that I was very pleased with what I found there.

Flannery's did indeed have the Irish Pub vibe with a dark wood interior that gave it a cozy feel. The atmosphere there is very low key and laid back and the service was excellent. On the sports bar side of Flannery's they boast 16 flat screen TV's along one wall showing a variety of all your favorite sports and local teams. I imagine that it can get very busy in there on certain nights.

As for the food I enjoyed the Pasta Chicken Alfredo. The chicken was tender, juicy, and flavorful while the penne pasta was cooked just right. The alfredo sauce was not too runny and did not have that thick gummy consistency that it sometimes gets when it has been sitting out for too long. It came out piping hot in a large bowl with 2 slices of garlic bread on the side.

Based on my experience here I would recommend Flannery's to others and plan to head back there at some point to try some of their other menu items.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Simple Brownies

Today I decided on a whim to make brownies, but I was looking for a recipe that would give me the type of brownies that I wanted; nothing overbearingly sweet, something that was fudgy, without it being too much, and of course chocolately. Indeed they turned out to be just that. Sweet enough, but you could still taste the cocoa flavor of the chocolate and fudgy without being an ooey gooey mess.

I actually used a brownie recipe off of the Hershey website and think that this will be my go to recipe for brownies for now on. These were also extremely easy to make, which is making me consider ditching boxed brownies for now on. I think this batch of brownies will be going in my freezer, where they will safely be out of my sight and can easily be taken out to feed to people or for a midnight snack for myself.

This is the melted butter, sugar, vanilla mixture that the recipe starts out with.

Here is the finished batter all ready to be popped into the oven.

Hershey's Best Brownies
From: Hershey's Kitchens


1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional) - I didn't use any in my brownies

1) Preheat oven to 350 and grease (I used Canola non-stick cooking spray) a 9 inch square baking pan
2) Stir together melted butter, sugar, and vanilla extract
3) Add eggs and beat well with a spatula
4) Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt beating until it is blended together well
5) Stir in the nuts
6) Spread batter evenly in pan
7) Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies pull away form the edges of the pan. Cool completely and then frost if desired (I skipped the frosting)

Yield: About 16 brownies

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's in a Name?

I feel I should give a brief explanation behind the name of my blog. I call myself a "foodie" but not in the sense of being a food snob; instead, I like to think of it as me being interested in things involving food, whether it be restaurants, making it, or most importantly eating it. I believe that a foodie (me) loves company because they want people to enjoy food with them, either going to restaurants with them or being the recipients of the food they make.

My little kitchen where all of my cooking adventures will be taking place :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I've had this blog created for quite some time now, but things got really busy with graduation, enjoying my last summer in California, then making my big move and getting all settled in. Recently I have been catching up on all of my favorite food blogs (see the list to the right) and have found the motivation to finish what I started.

With the start of fall and the very unusual winter like weather we've been having lately I've been dying to bake all kinds of delicious treats, so hopefully this weekend I can start on that and get things posted up on here.

Since I currently don't have any pictures of food uploaded to my computer, I'll leave you with this:

My new home...St. Louis. Home to a lot of cool things and I've heard some really great food too.