Sunday, February 28, 2010


The thought of stew makes my mouth water, even more so if it is a nice cold day much like the ones we've been having around here lately. So on days like that there's nothing better than curling up to dinner with a piping hot bowl of stew that has filled your place with its delicious aroma after simmering away on the stove. Although I think it is nice to make this dish on a day when you can let it actually simmer away for a few hours, this isn't a necessity and I actually made this when I got home from classes one evening and it didn't take too long to be ready.
This recipe comes from my mom, though I had to tweak it a little because I was lacking a couple of things on the ingredient list, and I have no idea where she got the recipe from maybe my grandma. I do remember eating this as a kid, but I was picky about which parts I liked best so I would first eat out all the carrots, then the meat, and of course save the best part for last the potatoes. Mmm..

As you can see this stew really cooks down, so don't worry if you think it looks like a lot of liquid at first just bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for a bit (about 20-30 minutes or longer if you have time) and it will be perfect for eating in no time.

Here is my usual warning when it comes to cooking, I feel the herbs and spices are more to your taste preference, I didn't have some of the ingredients so I omitted them and noted this in the ingredient list. Also, I posted the original recipe I cut it down when I made my stew and it still fed me for 2 days.

1 tbs Olive oil
2 tbs Butter (I omitted this)
Stew meat
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1/2 Bell pepper, chopped
3-4 Carrots, cut into medium rounds
3 Potatoes, chopped into large pieces
Italian herbs
Cayenne pepper
Paprika (didn't have so left it out)
1 tbs Tomato paste or ketchup (I had neither so omitted this)
4 cups Water
4 Bullion cubes

1. Melt butter & olive oil, add stew meat and brown it
2. Add onion, garlic, celery, and herbs and saute on high heat
3, Add carrots and bell pepper and get them cooking
4, Next add the tomato paste or ketchup, water, bullion cubes, and potatoes
5. Bring up to a boil and then turn heat to between medium and medium low. Allow to simmer until liquid has reduced.

Note: It is nice to sometimes serve this with croutons on top, even better (well okay healthier) if you make your own croutons and trust me it isn't difficult at all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spicy Pasta with Black Beans

I wouldn't normally share this type of recipe for a couple of reasons:
1. It is rather boring
2. It is just one of my typical quick dinners that I throw together on a busy night just using ingredients that I have on hand.
That's the thing though, I decided I should show you something very fast, easy and a typical dinner I'd eat on those nights when I get home from class at 6:30 I'm starving and I'm not the least bit interested in cooking something elaborate.

This dish doesn't include many ingredients and they're all things I always have on hand vegetables, beans, pasta, and plenty of spices. Another thing is that this particular combination of ingredients that I made the other night came out amazing and even better there is always plenty for leftovers the next day.

This dish is packed with plenty of fiber to leave you feeling full and satisfied. Also consider using whole wheat pasta for an added nutritional boost

Spicy Pasta with Black Beans

olive oil

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/3 cup frozen corn

chili powder
red pepper flakes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1. Saute onion in olive oil and then add the carrot and celery until it gets tender, meanwhile cook your pasta according to its directions
2. Add corn and then add pepper, chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes to taste
3. When this is all well incorporated add in the black beans
4. Add the pasta to the vegetable and black bean mixture and add more seasoning if needed
5. Garnish with a little cheese if desired and wait for it to melt and then serve.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day

So I know this post is coming a day late, but hey better late than never. Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that people can be very opinionated on some love it, some hate it, and some believe that it is a holiday developed by greeting card companies to make more money. If you push all of those things aside for a few minutes you can focus on the more important part of all this...wait for it...the food!

Yes that's right the food. I sometimes like to think of it as a "free day", to eat what you want and not feel guilty. Of course there's the fact that often large amounts of chocolate are involved on Valentine's Day, which is an added bonus that makes me want to jump for joy. This brings me to the focus of this post sweet treats to give as a gift or enjoy for yourself.
Since time wasn't exactly on my side this year I kept things pretty simple using some time tested recipes and adding a twist. I made 3 batches of cookies chocolate chip, dark chocolate M&M, and sugar. I used the chocolate chip cookie recipe I posted last year, minus the "healthy twist" because really as much as I like to promote being healthy whenever possible, I couldn't do that today. Now for the dark chocolate M&M cookies I went ahead and used the same chocolate chip cookie dough recipe substituting the M&Ms for the chocolate chips (sorry ahead of time for not having pictures of these). However, I do have an M&M cookie recipe I just didn't feel like digging it out when I already had the chocolate chip one in front of me. As for the sugar cookie recipe, I think this one is wonderful. I got it from my mom and what makes it so special is that this one is for drop or bar cookies and not meant to be rolled out. So whenever you're wanting sugar cookies you can have them without needing all the time to roll and cut them out. I think it sounds like a winning situation.

So as my final twist on these cookies, I baked some in the heart shaped mini cake pan my friend gave me for Christmas to mix in with the regular drop cookies. The cool thing about the heart shaped cookies is that they're thicker, so you essentially get a cookie cake, which is delicious.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Banana Bread

There is nothing more perfect than making warm banana bread on a lazy weekend when the weather is less than perfect. I had some bananas on hand that were ripening too fast and weren't anything I'd want to eat, so I decided to find a new banana bread recipe that did not use shortening, since I am trying to avoid that ingredient whenever possible.

I found a recipe that didn't use too many ingredients and only 1/3 cup of butter and I was able to reduce the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 cup and possibly even more the next time I make it. Another thing I might try is adding some cinnamon or nutmeg the next time I make it to add some spice to it.

Overall this recipe came out really well and I couldn't wait for it to cool down a bit so I could try a piece. It was perfectly moist and not too dense or sweet and even better because it was still warm. This banana bread is perfect for my early morning breakfast during the week and it will freeze nicely to pull out and eat on another day. I suggest giving this recipe a try, you won't be disappointed.

Banana Bread
From: Simply Recipes

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar (I reduced it to 3/4 cup)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch (~1/8 tsp) salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix butter into bananas using wooden spoon.
3. Next mix in sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt
4. Stir in flour, making sure not to over mix the batter
5. Pour into greased 4x8 loaf pan and bake for 1 hour (I found mine was done after 55 minutes)
6. Cool on rack and then cut into slices to serve

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Restaurant Review x 3

I have a backlog of restaurants I've eaten at over the past 2 months here in St. Louis. One dates all the way back to December before Christmas even happened and the other 2 take place throughout January. Since they're from so long ago I decided to merge them all into one post and give the highlights from them and then in the future I'll be more on top of blogging about restaurants soon after I eat at them so that they can have their own special post.

Blue Ocean Sushi

This was the first time I ate sushi in St. Louis and I was not at all disappointed by this experience. I thought this restaurant was really cool and it fit this image that I often have of how a sushi restaurant should look with its aqua colored walls and amazingly comfortable chairs, which I'm thinking top the booth seating that the other side of our table had. Right off I
need to comment on my chopstick skills usually they're less than desirable and make for a good laugh, but on this night I was very impressive with them. I was still slow using them, but managed not to drop any food; I chalk it up to all my practice earlier in the day using pencils.

Okay, so now the important part the food...Blue Ocean has a typical menu, but the most interesting part of it is the 3 levels, where they offer 3 different pricing levels with each one including more food than the previous. I stuck with level one there was no way I could eat enough sushi to make level 2 worth my wild. While, they serve traditional rolls like the salmon roll they also have interesting twists on rolls, such as the cheese burger roll, which sounds weird but I heard from a reliable source that it is quite good. I ate a variety of things on this night and left Blue Ocean extremely full. I give this restaurant 2 thumbs up and expect I'll eat there again.


Felix's is locate
d in Dogtown, which is the Irish-American neighborhood of St. Louis. This place is one of those hidden gems, it is a restaurant/bar and features local artists. The restaurant has a very welcoming environment that I really enjoyed. I also enjoyed the menu which features BBQ, wraps, burgers and specialty pizzas. At first I had trouble deciding on just one thing, but finally went with pizza and it did not disappoint at all. My 4 cheese sundried tomato pizza was amazing. I actually couldn't figure out what all 4 cheeses were, but they meshed perfectly together creating wonderful flavor that was complimented by the deliciousness of the sundried tomatoes. I would definitely eat here again, but after having that pizza I don't know if I could convince myself to try something else on the menu, though I hear their other food is quite good as well.

City Diner

I had heard
quite a bit about the City Diner like how it had a really cool atmosphere, so I of course added it to my list of things to do in St. Louis and finally made it here to eat. However, I was here for dessert on this particular night and I'm very happy with what I got. At first glance there wasn't a ton of dessert options, but then I found the cheesecake listing and saw that there were a variety of options regarding it. On this night they had banana, chocolate peanut butter, strawberry swirl, and dulce de leche. I decided to try my luck with the dulce de leche and I immediately need to say that it was amazing. The caramel flavor was not overpoweringly sweet kind that becomes too much halfway through eating it and because of this I was able to still taste the essence of the cheesecake, which is a very good thing. I also know that the chocolate peanut butter cheesecake is very good too. So, if you're at the City Diner and craving dessert I definitely recommend trying out their cheesecake. I do want to head back to the City Diner and test out their regular menu options, I'll of course report back my findings from that endeavor.