Archive for September, 2010

Menu Mondays

September 27, 2010

Saturday: Soup night with friends! I made zuppa toscana, but we also had crab vegetable, chili, assorted breads, meat/cheese tray appetizer, pumpkin cheesecake bars and apple spice cake. 🙂

Sunday: homemade stromboli – one veggie, one meat

Monday: steak, steamed broccoli, pasta

Tuesday: 20-clove garlic chicken, garlic rice pilaf, cauliflower

Wednesday: kuldunai for the husband – it’s his birthday and that’s what he wants!

Thursday: leftover garlic chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans

Friday: BLT’s and chips….and having friends over in the evening for cake and make-your-own-sundae bar for hubby’s birthday!

Advertisements

Fish Tacos with Baja Cream Sauce

September 22, 2010

This recipe was DELICIOUS! I can’t believe it took me so long to make fish tacos at home. It was quick, super-easy, and tasty!

I used a general seafood rub for my spice mixture, but you could literally use anything you like the flavor of 🙂

(Sorry for the bad picture…fish doesn’t exactly photograph well LOL)

Fish Tacos with Baja Cream

(Bakin and Eggs)

FOR THE BAJA CREAM
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lime peel
Salt, to taste

FOR THE TACOS
1 1/2 pounds white fish fillets such as tilapia, flounder or mahi
Seasoning rub of your choice
2 tablespoon olive oil
Shredded red or purple cabbage
Shredded cheese such as cheddar, colbyjack or your choice
1 avocado, sliced
Salsa
Lime wedges
Hot sauce, such as Cholula
8 soft taco sized tortillas

Directions:

FOR THE BAJA CREAM
Whisk all ingredients in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead.)

FOR THE TACOS
Drizzle fish with olive oil and coat with seasoning rub. In a large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add fish and cook about 3 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove fish from pan and cut into slices.

Arrange Baja cream and toppings on a platter and serve with fish and warmed tortillas (I usually wrap mine in a paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds).

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños

September 21, 2010

I made these tasty little buggers as a result of my no-heat jalapeno plants in my garden producing like crazy!

Hubs and I both really loved these – I left the original recipe’s BBQ sauce out, and I’m glad I did…we didn’t find it was needed!

And, of course….everything’s better with bacon and cheese 🙂

Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos

(Sing for Your Supper)

20 fresh jalapenos, cut in half and seeded

2 blocks of cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 pound bacon, cut into thirds

bbq sauce

toothpicks

Directions

– Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

– In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and cheddar cheese

– Spread some of the cheese mixture in each jalapeno half

– Wrap each piece with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick

– Brush with BBQ sauce, and place on a baking sheet lined with foil

– Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bacon is nicely browned

Refrigerator Pickles

September 20, 2010

With the garden this year, I had quite the bounty of cucumbers. Now, I love me some cucumbers, so for the first few months, I just ate them.

But even I have a cucumber limit.

When I reached it, I found this recipe on Delicious Melicious for refrigerator pickles and jumped on it because it literally took 5 minutes! Love that!

Refrigerator Pickles

(Delicious Melicious)

3 cloves garlic, minced

fresh dill

cucumbers

Brine:

3 cups water

6 tbsp white vinegar

3 tbsp kosher salt

Directions

– Put some of the fresh dill in the bottom of each jar.

– Pack 1/2 full with cucumbers. Lay more fresh dill on top and finish filling the jar with cucumbers.

– Put minced garlic on top, pour brine into jar until it’s full.

– Put the lid on, and leave them in the refrigerator for 2 days before using.

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

September 20, 2010

I really loved this recipe, but Dave wasn’t 100% sure about it. I think that the use of gruyere and fontina may be part of his hesitation – as we don’t normally use those cheeses in our macaroni and cheese – and I think I’d try it again with more ‘general’ cheeses, like a good cheddar and a mozzarella.

That being said, I loved it as it is – with the fancy cheese and all. Delicious! And it re-heats well 🙂

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

(Noble Pig)

1 pound purchased or homemade gnocchi
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
Salt and white pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Basil leaves for garnish, optional

Directions

– Preheat oven to 375o F. Prepare gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain and place gnocchi in a single-layer in a 1-1/2 quart shallow baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.

– Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles, then whisk in milk and Dijon.  Continue to whisk mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.

– Combine Gruyere and fontina, then add by the handful to milk mixture, stirring until melted before adding the next handful.  Once all cheese is melted, season sauce with salt and pepper.

– Pour sauce over gnocchi and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano over top.  Bake gnocchi until they puff and cheese is golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let gnocchi rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Menu Mondays

September 20, 2010

Saturday – Monday: On my own – hubs is busy!

Made some treats this weekend…

Orange Rolls

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Tuesday: shepherd’s pie, crusty homemade bread

Wednesday: chicken fried rice, egg rolls

Thursday: leftover shepherd’s pie

Friday: leftover fried rice

Saturday: getting together with friends for a ‘soup party’! I’m making zuppa toscana

Sunday: homemade stromboli

Orange Rolls

September 19, 2010

Last Christmas, we received a call from our friends Josh and Chera. It seems Chera made her family recipe orange sweet rolls, but had forgotten just how many rolls the recipe made — and she was overrun with them!

Dave and I were happy to take some off their hands. Honestly, that was the first time I’d ever had this concoction!

Chera’s orange rolls were delicious — light, yeasty, and a fresh citrus flavor.

Last week I had a craving for these orange rolls – but didn’t want to be overrun with them, like Chera was on Christmas!

So instead of making Chera’s recipe, I went with a Pioneer Woman recipe for Orange Marmalade Rolls.

Honestly? They didn’t hold a candle to Chera’s.

Don’t get me wrong – these rolls are very tasty. BUT….the use of butter is literally excessive. It was oozing out of the rolls as I cut them. It was all over EVERYTHING. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad with softened butter, but with melted butter…bleck.

These rolls were excessive, simply to be excessive. They’re tasty, but they’re also very dense, and heavy from the butter content.

The glaze, as well, could’ve easily been halved…which is about how much I actually used! Oh well, live and learn!

I think in the future I will play with halving Chera’s recipe, and perhaps adding a bit of marmalade to her recipe. I think it would be a yummy addition. 😉

It should be noted that the PW recipe is HALF a cinnamon roll dough’ recipe, but Chera’s recipe is the full-on quantity. I got 18 rolls out of the PW recipe, and you’d probably get about 25 if you halve Chera’s.

First, here is the Pioneer Woman recipe:

Orange-Marmalade Rolls

(Pioneer Woman)

Rolls:

½ whole Recipe Of “Cinnamon Roll Dough”

8 Tablespoons Orange Marmalade

½ cups Melted Butter

1 cup Brown Sugar

½ teaspoons Kosher Salt

Orange Glaze:

2 pounds Powdered Sugar

6 Tablespoons Melted Butter

½ cups Milk

½ cups Orange Juice

1 dash Salt

Directions

– Roll out dough into a long rectangle. Spread marmalade over the top. Pour on butter, and then sprinkle on the brown sugar evenly. Sprinkle with salt.

– Beginning at the long side farthest from you, roll the dough in a long roll toward you; begin careful to keep it tucked tightly. Pinch edge to seal.

– Cut rolls into 1 to 1 1/2 inch rolls and place into buttered pans. Allow to rise for at least 20 minutes.

– Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown (but not overly brown).

– While baking, mix together the ingredients for the orange glaze, thinning with more milk or orange juice to make mixture thin enough to be pourable.

– Immediately drizzle orange glaze over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

And now Chera’s….

Orange Rolls

(Chera!)

Dough:
2 yeast cakes dissolved in 1/2 c. warm water
1 c. boiling water
1/3 c. shortening
1/3 c. butter
1/2 – 2/3 c. sugar
2 t. salt
1 c. cold water
3-4 eggs
7 1/2 c. flour

Filling:
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
grated rind of 1 orange

Frosting/glaze:
4 c. powdered sugar
2 T. fresh orange juice

– Fill cup with 1/2 c. warm water (100-110*) and sprinkle with yeast cakes. Stir in 2 t. sugar; let stand 10 minutes. If doubles in size= the yeast is active.

– Pour boiling water over the shortening, butter, sugar & salt. Stir until melted; add cold water, eggs and dissolved yeast.

– Mix in flour. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight (at least 3-4 hours, or as long as 2-3 days).

– Separate dough into 2 batches. Roll out 1 batch and spread 1/2 the filling on; roll up and cut as for cinnamon rolls. Repeat with 2nd batch. Put in greased muffin tins, or 8×8, or 9×13 pans.


– Let rise about 3-4 hours, (or roll them out on Christmas Eve, place them in the trunk of your car in the garage to rise overnight. Bake as soon as you wake up so the aroma joins you and your gifts). Bake @ 400* for 10-12 minutes.

– When hot, spread with frosting/glaze.

Total time: 8+ hours
Yield: about 50 rolls

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

September 19, 2010

Jessica’s done it again. I think this girl is a Truffle Queen. She’s also the where I found the cookie dough truffles I know and love!

These little gems are just as good. Seriously, how can you go wrong with sweet and salty in one little bite?!

Jessica’s original recipe stated she got 20 truffles, each about the size of a teaspoon.

I chose to double her recipe, and use my smallest cookie scoop (same size I make the chocolate chip dough truffles) and I got about 2.5 dozen. You can increase the amount as many times as you need to!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

(How Sweet It Is)

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (can use regular peanut butter as well…natural just makes it more healthy! LOL)
1/4 cup finely chopped salted pretzels
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted

Directions

– Combine peanut butter and pretzels in a small bowl. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

– Roll the peanut butter mixture into 20 balls (about 1 teaspoon each).

– Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour.

– Roll the frozen balls in melted chocolate.

-Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

*I always keep my truffles in the freezer, and then just pull out what I need. I like them cold!

Outer Banks, North Carolina – Activities

September 19, 2010

Here’s a small round-up of the activities we did while on vacation in the Outer Banks!

Jockey’s Ridge State Park – http://www.jockeysridgestatepark.com

The best sand dunes in OBX are located in Jockey’s Ridge state park. The park states the dunes range from 80 to 100 feet from the base! There are a lot of activities occurring on the dunes at  any time – hang gliding, kite flying — and you

can also walk up and down them and explore. In addition, there is a small museum that explains the dunes, the area, and some of the wildlife that rely on the dunes.

It was educationally kind of geeky and fun. LOL And walking the dunes was neat! There aren’t many places you can ‘hike’ happily in your bare feet, ya know? 🙂

The park was free to get into, and is open each day from approximately dawn to dusk (hours range by season).

My advice? Take water and go early or late. There’s very little shade out on the dunes, and it gets hot VERY quickly. You’ll be amazed at how thirsty you are as well 🙂

If you’re interested in partaking in the activities that occur on the dunes, I recommend you stop at Kitty Hawk Kites, first, and see what they offer! 🙂 They’re the exclusive excursion provider in the area, so all kayaking, hang gliding, etc goes through them.

Wright Brothers Museum – http://www.nps.gov/wrbr

Admittedly, the husband and I LOVED this stop on our trip. We went in basically thinking ‘Well, it’s here, I guess we should do it….’ but ended up really enjoying it. I think we spent almost 3 hours here!

The museum and grounds are maintained by the National Park Service. As you enter, there is a fee of $4 per adult, which you receive a receipt for – the receipt will get you in for an additional 7 days without paying again. After you enter the grounds, there is a small, built-in-the-1960’s-and-shows-it museum that is very interesting, and then…you can climb to the memorial.

I’m not sure if the dunes or the memorial are higher, but I’m betting the memorial. It’s a beautiful view from the top, and the hike up really isn’t that bad.

When you’ve finished, you walk back down the hill and enter a series of hangers with more information, history, and a gift shop.

Loved this place!

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island – http://www.ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island

We drove to Roanoke Island to try out the Aquarium one day. We live about 45 minutes from the National Aquarium in Baltimore (aka HUGE aquarium) and this one was significantly smaller, but still very enjoyable. We both agreed it was the perfect size for children — just large enough to keep their attention, but not so big they get tired and cranky. 🙂

$8 per person gets you into the Aquarium, and is useful all day to go in and out. We spent about 2 hours here, and had fun 🙂

Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island – http://www.elizabethangardens.org

We visited the gardens on a whim. We had already driven the length of Roanoke Island, and spent time at the Aquarium, so we stopped here as well. The gardens were created and are maintained by the Master Gardeners in the area. It’s truly lovely and peaceful!

The tour is self-guided, and includes a brochure with information about each ‘area’. The tour is $8 per person, and it took us about an hour to walk through and enjoy it. There are butterflies everywhere!

We had obviously missed ‘rose season’ as the rose gardens had been cut back already, but everything else was still lush and beautiful the beginning of September.

(No, that man isn’t my husband….he stepped in just as I took my picture!)

Outer Banks, North Carolina – Eats

September 18, 2010

The husband and I hadn’t been on a vacation since our honeymoon in 2007, so when the opportunity to spend a week in the Outer Banks presented itself, we jumped on it!

Just prior to leaving, Brown Eyed Baker had also spent some time in OBX, and she posted some of their favorite eats while there.

I thought I’d do something similar, and provide a brief write-up on what we enjoyed while on vacation!

For those familiar with the Outer Banks, we stayed in Kill Devil Hills – just north of Nags Head. We didn’t venture as far north as Corolla or Duck with this trip, but we’re hoping to repeat the trip and broaden our horizons next time!

To say we’re smitten with the area is an understatement. If I could figure out how, I’d move there in a heart beat. The husband and I both fell in love with the place! And I loved that it didn’t feel just like a vacation spot. There were enough year-round residents to truly make it feel like a place you could live!

OBX Eats

Pigman’s BBQ – http://www.pigman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source)

We actually ate at Pigman’s twice. It was a mere few blocks from the house we rented, and was convienent. Our first trip there was within hours of arriving – we had left home at 4am, and upon arriving and unloading the car…we were very ready for lunch. DH and I both had pulled pork sandwiches – he had baked beans, hush puppies, and coleslaw with his….I had fries, hushpuppies and coleslaw with mine.

This was my first interaction with “Carolina” BBQ, and I was a bit jolted by the strong vinegar flavor. But honestly? It grew on me! The pork was delicious and needed no sauce (although Pigman’s sauces were delicious as well!) and the hushpuppies were AH-mazing 🙂

DH also tried their beef BBQ the second time we went, and I found I liked it a little better.

Still – a great meal, and well-priced as well!

 

Chilli Peppers – http://.chilli-peppers.com

Chilli Peppers was a small, friendly Tex-Mex restaurant that we tried one evening after a long day at the beach. Hubs had steak and shrimp fajitas, which were served with rice and black beans, and I had baja chicken tacos (also with rice and black beans). We split an appetizer of chips and salsa as well.

The salsa at this place was cooked, and tasted as though they used roasted tomatoes. It was delicious and a bit addicting!

Husband’s steak and shrimp fajitas looked delicious, as did my baja chicken tacos, which were served with shredded cabbage, cheese, fresh pico de gallo and sour cream. The rice was a plain white rice, and the black beans were unseasoned as well.

The meal – all in all – was tasty, but not particularly memorable (beyond that salsa in the appetizer!) Also, we were originally seated in the restaurant area, and it was so incredibly loud in there, we asked to be moved to the bar. So if you go – ask to sit in the bar! 🙂

 

Duck Donuts – http://duckdonuts.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source)

Oh. My. God. These are the best donuts on this earth. Seriously. I’ve had fresh, hot donuts in a variety of places (Krispy Kremes in Vegas, fresh from the oven, Winchell’s in L.A….and many more) and there are no donuts, like these donuts.

They are freshly fried as you order them. Then, they’re subjected to an ‘assembly line’ of delicious goodies for the top – glaze, chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting, sprinkles, nuts, and more!

I highly recommend the glazed – they were superior to the others, and the most heavenly confection ever.

You must try these donuts! 🙂

 

Captain George’s Seafood Buffet – http://www.captaingeorges.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source)

I’m not much of a buffet person. But I promised the hubs we’d go to one seafood buffet while on vacation. I chose this one because, frankly, it seemed like the classiest. There were some rough-looking buffets in OBX!

I was pleasantly surprised by this place. When you walk in the door, it looks like you’ve entered a restaurant in Vegas. It’s really a beautiful place!

The food, as well, as delicious! I filled up on veggies and broiled flounder, steamed shrimp, and cornbread. Hubs said the crab legs were fantastic, and there was a wide variety of crab available.

Finally – the desserts at this place were amazing. I’m not talking your run-of-the-mill buffet desserts. The cakes tasted made-from-scratch, and they were absolutely delicious!

The buffet restaurant area is wide open, and can get loud/echo-y….again, we sat in the bar area, and found it to be quiet and lovely. We even had a television in our booth! LOL

 

Jockey’s Ribs

 

 

 

 

 

(Source)

The large sand dunes in the Outer Banks are located at Jockey’s Ridge State Park – and this restaurant was nearby! 🙂

We settled on this restaurant because it received such good reviews, however, we were unhappy with the food at this location.

The husband had 1/2 rack of ribs (about 6 ribs), a crabcake, a baked potato, and baked beans. I ordered broiled lump crab meat with a baked potato and coleslaw.

I was happy with my portion, however, my husband felt his portions were small, and the prices too high.

As I mentioned, though, it did receive a lot of good reviews on TripAdvisor, so perhaps we’re in the minority!

 

Stack ‘Em High – http://www.stackemhigh.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source)

Our last morning, I insisted we go to this place. And I’m glad we did – and I wish we’d have gone earlier in the week so we could’ve gone twice! LOL

This place is an awesome, cafeteria-style restaurant with 36 varieties of pancakes. Yep, you read that right. They offer 36 different combinations of toppings on their pancakes!

Since hubs and I were newcomers, we felt a bit rushed trying to read the menu and order.

Hubs ordered 1 egg, scrambled,  sausage, and a short stack (3) of the very berry pancakes. I ordered 1 egg scrambled, bacon, and a short stack (3) of the regular pancakes.

Delicious pancakes! Husband wasn’t thrilled with the place because he said he felt rushed by the cafeteria style atmosphere, but the food was so good, I’d make him go back. LOL

The pancake batter had cinnamon, and something….else….I think…incorporated into it. Light, fluffy, and amazing. 🙂

The owner, an elderly gentleman, was walking around and stopped to talk to us. Like me, he was from Pittsburgh, so we spent time talking about Pittsburgh, and how he sold his restaurant in Pittsburgh 30 years ago and started Stack ‘Em High in OBX after vacationing there!

It was great to talk to him!

 

So there’s the eats…I’ll do another post on the activities we enjoyed as well. 🙂