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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Hanover Tavern – Restaurant Week in Richmond

So, every 6 months Richmond does a Restaurant Week that benefits the Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. Every restaurant creates a special menu with 3 courses and it is a flat rate of $25.11 per person (minus drinks and gratuity) and $2.11 of it goes towards the charities. Pretty cool, right?

I’ve never actually gone to any of the restaurants that participate during Restaurant Week (surprising, right?) but my parents wanted to take Tyler and I to The Hanover Tavern tonight for the final night. I had never even heard about The Hanover Tavern before but much to our delight, it was quite a treat!

Lets just say it was delicious! I started with Fried Green Tomatoes which was served with Pimento Cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oddly enough, I’ve never had Fried Green Tomatoes. I know, its a crying shame and I probably can now only officially call myself a Southerner because of it. Anyhoo, they were so good especially when paired with the Pimento Cheese.

Then came the entrees. I had Cavatapi Pasta with red onions, kalmata olives, feta cheese and a lamb sausage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sausage was a little spicy yet had a sweetness to it. VERY good!

Tyler and my Step Dad both had the Braised Short Ribs with mashed potatoes and southern-style green beans with a mushroom demi glace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust me, its as good as it looks. I tried it 🙂

My mom had the vegetable gnocchi with seasonal grilled vegetables and a balsamic drizzle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can even believe we had room for anything else after all of that, our desserts came out.

Tyler, James, and myself all had the Key Lime Pie (clearly the fave of the table!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mom stood out from the crowd and got the Dark Chocolate Whoopie Pie with a Maker’s Mark sauce. She’s a true Maker’s Mark girl at heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all of this, we were all stuffed and ready for bed…except our reservations were at 5 o’clock. Early Bird Special style!

Now, I’m off to catch up on some Sunday night TV (The Next Iron Chef starts tonight!!) and get to bed early since I’ll finally be going back to work after my tonsillectomy.

I hope everyone has a good week and an even better Halloween tomorrow!

Ode to the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, everyone knows that every baker needs a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. And as many of you also no, I don’t consider myself to be much of a baker. However, I’ve always wanted a nice mixer. I got a cheap hand mixer a few years back that has a stand so that it can also be a “stand mixer”. But, that is far from what it really is. It’s super light weight so it slides and the bowl isn’t deep enough so your dry ingredients fly out leaving you with a big mess.

I’ve looked into getting a mixer in the past but they come with a whopping $300 price tag so I’ve never wanted to bite the bullet and actually buy one. I’d rather buy these.

Anyways, my Step Dad’s Mom was an awesome baker. I only got to know her for a few years before she passed away but she made some delicious cookies and beautiful quilts! One of the things she left behind was her Kitchen Aid mixer. My Step Dad has been letting it collect dust holding on to it for a while and I finally convinced him to hand it over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, it has some rust marks around the edges but I think it just gives it a little more character. This thing blew my old mixer out of the water! Regardless of if it was made in 1965 (yes, it’s only a few years younger than my parents), this thing still works like new proving its quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think every chef/cook/baker/foodie needs a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in their collection of tools. It has many more uses other than making cakes, frostings, etc. Definitely glad I finally added it to my collection 🙂

My Last Supper…

So, tomorrow is the day. The day I finally get my tonsils out. I have been dying to have these bad boys taken out since elementary school. Think its strange for someone to actually want their tonsils out? If you had as much trouble with them growing up and into adulthood as I did, you would understand.

Typically, it means lots of smoothies, ice cream, mashed potatoes, applesauce, etc. However, after a while, the excitement of eating all the ice cream you can get your hands on wears off and you want a real meal.

So, a real meal is what I had tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tyler (aka the greatest boyfriend ever) made meal a “farewell to solid foods” meal to die for! Granted, I picked what I wanted to have but he was the masterful chef behind the whole thing.

I saw these potatoes on How Sweet’s blow yesterday and new I needed to try them immediately.

They were already roasting in the oven when I got over here soaking up the butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, we (he really enjoyed when I tried to take over help in the kitchen) added in the shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poured in the heavy cream…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then popped them back in the over for another 10ish minutes to let the cheese melt.

While that was finishing up, Tyler threw steaks on the grill and made his own secret recipes for delicious mushrooms. A recipe he will not share…rude. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out how yummy that looks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top it will a dollop of sour cream and you’re in business!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out that meal! Have I mentioned I’m a lucky girl?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes, that is a roll (two to be exact) on the plate in the corner. Don’t judge. I can’t eat solid foods for a week, remember?

Que the soup, mashed potato, and applesauce posts over the next week or so.

Goat cheese, Sun-dried Tomato and Artichoke Ravioli

So if I haven’t told y’all that I love anything that contains goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and/or artichokes, I apologize. However, you could put those 3 things on just about anything and I’d eat it. Which is why when I ran across this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats last week I knew I had to recreate it with, what else: goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes.

I found the wonton wrappers in the refrigerated produce section of my grocery store next to the organic/natural salad dressings, tofu, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They were super easy to make too! And once sauteed in garlic butter?! Talk about melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

I have never tried to make something like this before but my goodness was it good! It was so cheesy and delicious! Probably because I used an entire 6 oz. container of crumbled goat cheese but that’s neither here nor there. You can never have too much cheese, right? Right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I baked some asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked them for about 10 minutes on 350 degrees to add some nutritional value and they were the perfect addition!

I even have a freezer bag full of ravioli left over and ready for my next ravioli craving! Talk about convenience.

The meal was topped off by a trip to Cold Stone for a Strawberry Banana Rendezvous and Tuesday night TV shows. A perfect evening! 🙂

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

What a busy weekend! Tyler and I went to dinner at The Hard Shell Friday night which was delicious! They have a great atmosphere and awesome, fresh seafood.

Then we had his Member/Guest awards dinner. Hello excuse to get dressed up!

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We clean up pretty well if I do say so myself! 🙂

Come Sunday I was itching to get in the kitchen since I had been here, there and everywhere all weekend.

I have been DYING to make something with pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin muffins…are you sensing a trend? A few years ago I was introduced to the deliciousness that is pumpkin cake so that’s what I ended up deciding to be the must bake fall treat!

Now, I have to admit I am not much of a baker. I don’t like to measure things out. I much prefer to just throw stuff in based on taste and preference but with baking, you have to follow the recipe or else you could end up with a disaster on your hands.

Someone once told me that “cooking is an art and baking is a science” and that really stuck with me. I hate science. I was always more of a History/English person myself so why bother with science experiments? Well, this was an experiment that had a happy ending!

I started with my flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.

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Then came the sugar…a LOT of sugar.

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Which then was accompanied by pumpkin, vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs.

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Then mix it all up.

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Mix it until it is nice and creamy.

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Then I poured it into my bundt pan that I sprayed generously with non-stick cooking spray.

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Now pop it into a pre-heated oven to 350 degrees. The recipe I based this off of said to cook it for 30 minutes but when I checked mine after 30 minutes it was still a little gooey so I popped it in for another 10 minutes and it was perfect!

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One suggestion: run a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan AND around the center before flipping it over. I forgot to run it around the inside part and some of it stuck. Good thing all of the imperfections are covered up with delicious icing!

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Start by combining room temperature cream cheese, confectioners sugar, vanilla and butter.

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Beat it with your mixer until everything is evenly combined and let chill in the fridge while your cake is cooling.

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Voila! Everyone has raved about it and commented on how moist the cake is. I’ll definitely be adding this to my arsenal of awesome recipes!

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing:

For the cake:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 1 8oz. package of cream cheese (I used neufatchel cheese to cut some calories/fat)
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup butter

Happy Baking!

Lightened-up Chicken Parm

I think I should have been born Italian. No really, I do. I LOVE cooking Italian food. Ok, I guess I might like to eat it too. Not to mention my Italy trip was by far my favorite trip ever!

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My extremely generous Mom took me for a girls trip after I graduated college.

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Beautiful, right?

So, the other night I was feeling nostalgic and decided to make Chicken Parm for dinner.

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then rinse 4 chicken breasts and pat them dry with a paper towel.

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Pour flour into a bowl (or on aluminum foil like I did for easier clean up).

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Whisk 2 eggs…

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And pour out some Italian seasoned bread crumbs.

Dip each chicken breast in the flour then your egg wash and then make sure each is generously coated in bread crumbs. Pour a generous amount of vegetable oil into your pan so that the bottom of your pan is coated and heat the oil. Place each breaded chicken breast in the hot oil and cook about 3-4 minutes per side or until you have a nice golden crust.

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Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and put thin layer of pasta sauce on bottom of the dish.

I was feeling ambitious and made Teresa Guidice’s “Quickie” Sauce from her Skinny Italian cookbook.

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Then I placed each of my chicken breasts in the baking dish on top of the layer of pasta sauce and topped each breast with a slice of mozzarella and sprinkled Parmesan on top and placed it in the oven.

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It should take 15-20 minutes depending on your oven.

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Look at that bubbly delicious goodness.

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Did I mention I added more cheese? Everything is better with cheese.

This meal is always a crowd pleaser!

At home Chipotle Burrito Bowl

Lightened up at home Chipotle Burrito Bowl

So, we all know everyone loves Chipotle. And if they don’t, they need their head examined. Fresh ingredients (some of which are even organic) make its lighter take on Tex-Mex so wonderfully delicious!

But, have you ever looked at the nutrition facts online? Its not nearly as healthy as you might think. Even the salad I typically get weighs in at almost 700 calories! 700 calories!!

So, needless to say, I was very excited when I found SkinnyTaste.com’s recipes for Crock pot Pork Carnitas and Cilantro Lime Rice.

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I’m a little ashamed to admit that I got a new crock pot for my birthday in April and have yet to use it…but this recipe definitely was a great way to break it in! I plopped it in before work and it was ready when I got home. Not to mention, my house smelled heavenly!

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(See, it still has one of the stickers on it!)

Ok, now I have another confession: I have never made real rice. I’m not a huge rice fan so I’ve always just gone with the flavored packages or boil-in-a-bag kinds. So this was my first attempt at actually cooking rice.

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This recipe might be the only way I eat rice from now on. I added the juice of an entire lime instead of a 1/2 as Skinny Taste’s recipe calls for because I love the flavor of lime juice but my goodness was it good!!

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Then I started creating my burrito bowl starting with my rice.

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Added some of the Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas.

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Then I topped it with a dollop of fat free sour cream, cheddar cheese and Sriracha. I have to say I was amazed at how much this tasted like the real thing! Everyone can always use to cut back on eating out to save money and a few extra calories and this will definitely do the trick.

Now if only I could figure out how to make those delicious tortilla chips with lime salt lower calorie…

But tomorrow is Friday so enjoy your weekend 🙂

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