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Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake Recipe

3 Oct

Who doesn’t need a wonderful, delicious chicken casserole recipe right about now?  I know I do!  As the weather here in Madison gets colder (and wetter!) – nothing seems to warm you up like a good old-fashioned casserole.  Am I right or am I right? 

Don’t let a big casserole intimidate you.  Is it only the 2 of you?  Cut this recipe in half and make in little ramekins.  

This recipe is my sister-in-law, Susan’s recipe and it’s adapted from Better Home & Gardens.  

 

Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake

6 servings

GET IT:

bow tie pasta – 8 ozs

onion – 1 small, chopped

eggs – 2

butter – 2t

milk – 1 1/4c

crushed red pepper – shake

dried Italian seasonings – shake

chicken  -2 c cooked + chopped

monterey jack cheese – 2 c, shredded

artichoke hears – 14 oz can

spinach – 10 oz, fresh

oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes – 1/2 c drained and chopped

panko  bread crumbs – 1/2 c

paprika – 1/2 Tsp

parm cheese – 1/4 c

MAKE IT:

Preheat oven to 350.  

Cook pasta according to directions, drain. 

In a medium skillet cook onion in 1 tsp of butter over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring every so often.  remove from heat, set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, seasoning, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  stir in chicken, cheese, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, half of the parm cheese, pasta and onion.  get in there with your hands and stir it up – a spoon can’t do it justice! transfer to a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Fix a glass of wine.

Bake this baby, covered for 20 minutes.  

In a small bowl, combine remaining parm cheese, bread crumbs, paprika, and 1tsp butter melted.  sprinkle mixture over pasta.  Bake for 10 minutes more until golden!

WATCH IT:

Here is Susan showing how to make it!

adapted from better homes and garden

Killer Chili Recipe

16 Sep

I think I may have found a killer chili recipe.  Actually, I have several really good chili recipes – but this is no ordinary recipe.

This is fancy chili.

This ain’t no throw it in a pot and watch it boil type of chili.  It’s stay-in-on-a-cold-Saturday-afternoon-light-a-fire-in-the-fireplace kind of chili.  in our case, we made it before the super bowl while it was a balmy 7 degrees outside.

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cooks, but it actually isn’t her recipe but an award-winning chili from one of her friends.  I googled this name and found a lot of bloggers have already covered this chili recipe, so if you don’t believe me how good it is – company good- just click here, or here or even here.  I don’t mind, but they don’t have cute ROF in their photos!

PLEASE NOTE:

1. We cut this recipe in 1/2 and it gave us 6 servings.  Make a note of that or you’ll be eating it for a week!

2. It has coffee in it.  Fancy…!

3. There is a ton (i mean a TON) of hot spices in here.  May want to cut it back just a little if you’re not adventurous like us.   The sour cream is a mandatory topping to cut the heat.

Devon’s Award Winning Chili (Serves 6 to 8 )

Copyright 2010, Devon Fredericks, All Rights Reserved 

5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, crushed
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
2 green peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
6 cups tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
Salt and pepper
½ cup strong coffee
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans
2 tablespoons basil

Serve with
Sour cream
Grated Cheddar
Diced tomato
Tortilla chips
Guacamole

Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy casserole and quickly brown the meat in batches on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until limp, but not brown. Add the chili powder, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Add the green peppers, bay leaf, tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste, and the coffee, cover the pot and simmer for one more hour.

Add the kidney beans and basil, and warm through. Serve with bowls of sour cream, grated cheddar, diced tomato, tortilla chips, and guacamole.

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Brunch Birthdays

15 Sep

First of all, we all love birthdays.  I mean, I love them a little less now that I’m over 35… but it’s nice for people to acknowledge your birth.  However, they can be a little predictable. Right?  You know the drill:  Birthday dinner.  Balloons.  Cake.  A song.  Presents. That is why I loved this idea of a BRUNCH BIRTHDAY.

This was my SIL’s, Susan’s idea.  She threw a brunch birthday celebration for our nephew, Bill today.  I loved the idea.  Because family (including moi) was in town a week or so before his birthday but wouldn’t be here for the big day, we celebrated Saturday morning. 

Here are the deets:

 Menu:

Ham & Cheese Quiche

Broccoli Cheese Quiche

Fresh Mangos

Iceland Yogurt Parfait Starring:

  • Blackberries
  • Honey
  • Pistachios
  • Granola

Lots of bakery goods that people fight over and pick on during the meal.

Lots of coffee and OJ and leave plenty of time to chat and laugh. 

Thanks for the great morning Susan!

 

Cocktails with ROF: Sangria!

12 Jul

There is nothing like fresh Sangria in the summer!  Well, a margarita is pretty good too.  Sure, you can buy the premixed Sangria drinks from Costco, and honestly, it’s pretty good.  But ROF has been making his own Sangria for as long as I can remember.

See video – filmed from vacation in Long Beach Island, New Jersey.  Recipe below.

FRUIT NEEDED:

1 peach

1 plum

3 limes

1 lemon

1 orange

Cut up all fruit into chunks and squeeze the lemon, lime and orange juice into the JUG.  

BOOZE NEEDED:

1 cup of sugar

1.5 cups of Brandy

1 cup of Triple Sec (orange liquor)

2 bottles of cheap red wine/merlot

Mix everything together.  Serve over ice with a splash of club soda on top and a lime or lemon.  ENJOY!!

The Best Steak Recipe You’ll Ever Make: Hawaiian Ribeyes

10 Jul

Last year, ROF and I went to Hawaii with some close friends.  It was my first time in Hawaii and it didn’t disappoint.  You know how people talk a place up for so long and it either disappoints, meets expectations or exceeds expectations?  This exceeded expectations.  Awesome.  

While there, ROF made his delicious Hawaiian ribeye steaks that we grilled. I’m dying for you to try these steaks.  Your mouth might start to water as mine did when you watch this. 

The recipe is below.  If you try it this weekend, please send me a picture! 

Hawaiian Ribeye Steak

the marinade:

1 cup of sugar

3 small cans of pineapple juice

1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar

1 cup of soy sauce

2 inches of fresh ginger, chopped

1 small white onion, chopped

the meat:

4 (12-16 oz) bone-in ribeyes – look for good marbling of fat throughout. 

Mix all ingredients well (with a whisk) except the steaks in a large bowl.  Add two steaks to a large ziplock baggie.  Carefully divide the marinade between the two bags with the steaks.  Marinate the steaks for between (but no longer!) 12 and 24 hours in the refrigerator.  

Grill the steaks over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes on each side for medium-rare.  Baste the steaks on each side with the marinade.  Enjoy!

4 Ways to Entertain With Ease

10 Jul

This quote is the key to entertaining. Memorize it.

I love to have people over.  The whole experience should be smooth, fun and lovely not only for your guests – but for you. Why? Because whether you are having friends over for dinner, your spouse’s colleagues around for a happy hour or a baby shower for 30 – the whole point of the event is meant to be… fun. You want your guests to be left with the feeling of inclusion, warmth, and happiness.

Good luck, I can hear some of you sigh with a harrumph. Entertaining freaks me out, some of you might say. Well, here are 4 things to remember:

1. START WITH WHAT YOU LIKE AND KNOW

It’s no secret that my husband likes cocktails. He likes planning out a signature drink for the evening, buying the ingredients, setting up a bar, getting the ice and serving our guests when they arrive. That’s just one of his things. He starts his dinner party prep there.

I like music and candles. I like creating playlists for the kind of mood I want to create. Maybe it’s a yoga night or we’re going up north or having drinks on the beach– I want to create a feeling with what people hear when they arrive and what they smell – that’s where I start.

Where do you start? Here are some examples to help you decide:

  • Cooking or baking
  • Cleaning and/or decorating
  • Paper and invites
  • Music
  • Place settings
  • Landscapes
  • Planning
  • Making cocktails

Figure out what you LOVE to do and start your planning there.

2. DON’T STRIVE FOR PERFECTION, NO ONE CARES AS MUCH AS YOU DO

Ina Garten said in one of her books something I’ll never forget.  She and Jeffery were young and broke but that didn’t stop her from having people over. She didn’t have the perfect napkins and matching place settings and her furniture was dated, but she confirmed that no one cares about stuff like that.

If you wait to have everything “perfect” you’ll let life pass you by.

Be driven by your guests need to feel welcome, not by your need to impress.

3. PLAN EVERY ASPECT IN ADVANCE + DON’T DO IT ALL

The more you plan, no matter how big or small the event, the easier it is to pull off an awesome party.  Take the time to think everything out – top to bottom – start to finish – write it all down, design a menu, make a grocery list.   I’ve designed an outline for you to use to help. 

Another tip is don’t feel like you have to do it all.  Have friends bring the drinks or food.  Get party platters for appetizers that are already made or just put out some nuts and cheese.  Check out some EPIC party platters here.  

4. YOU SET THE STAGE 

You can either be like this:

or like this:

I Love Lucy!

More reads on entertaining here, here and here.

Best Rose Wine for Summer

5 Jul

I could give you a top 10 list but I just don’t have it in me. 

I also can’t find the little symbol to go over the “e” so it is Rose-A not Rose.  But I think you get it.

Ok. Not going to use terms like peachy finish or well-balanced either.  This is me.

Just get it.  Go to Total Wine or google it.  At only $8.99 a bottle, it’s simply the best.  At that price, get 2.  Or a case.  Thanks Curt for introducing it to us.

I would buy it and drink it with this, this or this.

Top 5 Drinks to Mix When Hot

30 Jun

My boy, ROF, is a cocktail mix master.  It is a balmy 90+ degrees here in Mad Town and here are some cool drinks you can make tonight or for brunch this weekend.

The Blood Orange Martini

The Tidal Wave

Rum Punch

Jalapeno Margaritas (The Best! No Mix!)

Bacardi Rum Cocktail

And if you need something to eat along with all these drinks, throw some of these DELISH steaks on the grill!

 

 

 

4 Great Breakfast Recipes

25 Jun

4 GREAT BREAKFAST RECIPES

There ain’t nothing like a good egg.  My family loves eggs and we make them many different ways.  My sister, Katie makes a mean fried egg.  She can even flip the egg in the pan without a spatula.   She’s cool.  ROF scrambles eggs like no other.  it’s so simple yet so good.  They are just the right consistency and filled with the previous night’s leftovers.  Like salmon and cream cheese.   My specialty?  Poachies.  

breakfast

 

breakfast

 

Sometimes I like to venture past eggs and here are some great recipes!

First is blogger Oh Joy’s rainbow pancakes. aren’t these the best idea ever?  especially if you have kids.  Pop over there to get the recipe that is in video format.

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Second, is something that just made my mouth water a little bit.  Baked baguette french toast by the Dash and Bella blog.  I haven’t made this yet but think I will when I have my next overnight guests.

baguettefrenchtoast

For the third recipe, I’m heading back to eggs.  Check out these awesome egg cupcakes.  Another great company breakfast.  Thanks dine & dish for this recipe!

0b8a1e2d9145dfb6299e5879530fcb85Lastly, how about these amaretto french toast bites by the awesome sweet paul?  Delish!

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EATS + DRINKS

17 Jun

Limoncello Cooler Recipe

21 Apr

Because us folks up north need a little sunshine Springtime right now!

1oz gin

1oz Limoncello

1/2oz fresh lemon juice

2-3oz club soda

Lemon wedge

Mix first 3 ingredients in a shaker. Pour into glass with ice. Top with club soda, garnish with lemon. Make now and if you’re in a state that still has snow on the ground, think warm thoughts and make another. Cheers! Here’s the video:

Awesome Birthday Traditions

7 Feb

I love this tradition (plus I love steak see here and here!) After hearing about this a couple of times, I decided all of you needed to know about it too.  Make this tradition your own!  There are so many ideas.  I share some of mine after the interview. 

I interviewed my friend, Sean Sivore and his son Aidan on their favorite thing to do on their birthdays:

Tell me a little bit about why you go to so many Steakhouses(how many?) – what is your tradition and how did it start?  I’ve always loved the experience at steakhouses.  The service and atmosphere are a big part of what makes a great steakhouse great.  My Dad loved great restaurants and since Aidan and I have birthdays one day apart, I thought it would be a fun “father/son” tradition to research the hottest steakhouses around and the two of us go to one for our birthday each year.  We’ve been doing this since Aidan’s 7th Birthday.

Musso and Frank Grill, Hollywood, CA – August, 2016

Now, let’s talk to Aidan.

Is steak your favorite thing to eat? Yes!

What are your top 5 steakhouses and why did you like them so much?

  1.  Bavette’s – Chicago, ILAtmosphere was a little like a bar (dark/quiet),  But the steak was so good, it didn’t matter.
  2.  Prime and Provisions – Chicago, ILSteak was perfect.  The atmosphere was awesome.  The bacon appetizer is off the chain! The service was the best of any steakhouse.
  3. Gibson’s – Chicago, ILFirst steakhouse I went to and finished an 18oz Rib-eye at age 8.
  4. Benjamin’s Steakhouse – New York, NYOld School looking steakhouse, but not that old.  Steaks were awesome.
  5. Chicago Cut – Chicago, ILCool steak place, atmosphere, and great food.

Do you order the same thing at all the steakhouses?   No, I usually order whatever the house specialty is.  When in doubt though I order a Rib-eye.

What is your favorite thing to eat? Steak by far 

Sean: This is a picture of our first annual “Guy’s Steak Night Out.”  This was before the ladies of the family started muscling their way into our tradition.  He finished the whole steak!

December 2012, Gibson’s Chicago

Prime and Provisions – Chicago, 2017 
Thanks, Sean and Aidan!  This is so much fun – what a great idea!  Here are some of my thoughts on how to make this your own.
  1. If steak is not your thing, make it sushi, Italian or even pizza!  Hit up your own city or travel.
  2. If food is not your bag, what about a class?  Take a class with friends or your S.O. on your birthday.  Learn something new every year on your birthday and keep track with a photo.
  3. Do something crazy out-of-the-ordinary every year on your birthday.  Research it.  Swim with dolphins, skydive, bungee jump, swim to Alcatraz * – mark the years you get older by something cool.  *scroll down to read about my mom’s close friend Nancy Moore and what a bad ass she is!
  4. Make it a point to travel to a new place on your birthday.  One year it may be a new town driving distance from you and another might be Europe!  Document it, write it down, snap it up.

Let me know what your traditions are for your birthdays!

Super Bowl Cocktail Video “Boston Cooler”

3 Feb

Since the Cowboys aren’t in the Super Bowl, this isn’t a big deal to me.  ROF is rooting for New England.  In fact, he is giving us all a refreshing cocktail to sip along with this scrumptious dip or these awesome sliders.

the appletini cocktail recipe

15 Dec

i think this may have evolved into a cocktail blog! no, i will be back eventually. to be honest, while i love writing and appreciating i am just a little tired of the whole blogging thing. i read a TON of design blogs and lifestyle blogs and everything is …well… styled. and styled to me is starting to get … well … boring. stop gasping. i know – shocker. i want to aspire to something different and i already know what it is. but it’s secret. tell ya later.

now, on to my main squeeze- ROF. happy friday! he’s been doing these awesome cocktail videos for me. you know why? he makes damn good drinks. he makes what we call “sipping” drinks (insert a wide-eyed “KATIE” here!) this is the perfect cocktail to mix for an intimate holiday get-together. it’s festive with green and red coloring and it’s delicious. remember what they say about martinis:

here’s ROF:

2 oz vodka

1 oz simple syrup

1oz apple liquor like this

for other drink recipes, see ROF’s page here!

The Cranberry Moscow Mule Holiday Cocktail

7 Dec

the weekend is almost here <sigh> and i’m ready for it! i’ve got a fun weekend planned which includes:

– wisconsin chamber orchestra rendition of handel’s messiah

– five hours of DIY bliss with herbs and essential oils and bath products at a class at the botanical gardens

– ROF making his tasty wintertime meal: beef stroganoff and we might crack open a bottle of caymus.

it’s also Thursday so ROF has mixed up a holiday cocktail for your weekend indulgence!

 

 

Recipe:

2oz Vodka

4oz Ginger beer

squeeze of lime

frozen cranberries

Pour, squeeze, stir, dink!

cocktails with ROF jack-o-fire cocktail

30 Nov

all month long , we’re going to feature a signature holiday drink and release it on thursday.

one thing that is fun to do if you’re having a holiday cocktail or dinner party  is to start with a pre-made signature drink.  typically just one to hand people as they come in.  when people come over, try to engage all the senses.  for example, your house is infused with scented candles that have already been burning a while or a tasty dinner in the oven, a holiday playlist with regular music mixed in with holiday music and a signature cocktail!

this first cocktail is the perfect holiday sipping drink.  you’ve got cinnamon flavor with the whisky, vanilla, pumpkin and irish cream all together.

all this month, if you post on social media, send us a photo or comment here on the blog of one of ROF’s drinks you made, we’ll enter you in a drawing to win a sleeve of these:

JACK-O-FIRE

  • 1 part Fireball Whisky

  • 1 part vanilla vodka

  • 1 part pumpkin spice liqueur

  • 1 part Irish cream

Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick and ground nutmeg. Recipe from here.

black friday highball: cocktails with ROF

23 Nov

happy thanksgiving!

i’m so thankful for you.  i appreciate you letting me be creative and you reading and sharing.  i certainly am thankful for ROF who makes living life so much fun.  today is thursday, so it’s cocktails with ROF time.  today, he is celebrating BLACK FRIDAY with a Jim Beam Black drink to sip after you get done with shopping, crowds and malls tomorrow.  recipe is below his video:

2 oz bourbon

1 oz ginger ale

2 oz coke

squeeze of lime

fill a glass 2/3 with ice, pour in bourbon, add in the ginger ale and coke.  finish with the squeeze of lime.  enjoy!

how to make world class scrambled eggs

22 Nov

scrambled eggs?  am i off my rocker?  what about turkey, cranberry sauce or harvest rolls?  nah, you’ve got that covered...it’s too late for that.  but what you really need to know is how to make world class eggs.  guys, listen up.  and by that i truly mean guys.  you have an opportunity here to master this art and win over your kids hearts every saturday morning.

at least that was the case with me.  my dad cooked a few things real well.  steak and eggs.  not together.  he was the world class scrambled egg maker.  in his slippers, saturday mornings, MTV blaring in the family room next to the kitchen.  TURN THAT CRAP DOWN!  sorry, i digress.  now, these may not have been the best eggs i ever had but i would never know it.  my dad talked everything he did up.  so when he served the eggs and bacon he’d say “have you ever seen anything more beautiful than that?”  and “you’re in for a real treat today, kids” – always matched with an eye roll from my mom.

now, i’m married to ROF and he really does make the best scrambled eggs.  i would have loved to have a scrambled egg challenge with him and my dad.  that would have been fun.  but ROF cooks me eggs a lot – even during the week! and i have to say, they are the best.  (shout out to my sis who makes the best over-easy eggs and egg sammies in the world!)

watch ROF at work here and how to make scrambled eggs.  oh, and of course, you girls can master this too! 🙂

COCKTAILS WITH ROF: Brandy Old-Fashioned Recipe

9 Nov

living in Wisconsin is just plain fun.  it really is.  there are so many things that are unanimously loved throughout the whole state that it’s like one big club.  here’s a little sample of what i’m talking about:

  • cheese curds
  • friday night fish fry
  • euchre
  • going up north
  • bar dice
  • beer and…
  • BRANDY OLD FASHIONED!

of course, i called it “brandy old fashion” forever until i noticed the error of my ways and quickly changed.  google “wisconsin and brandy” and you’ll see the articles on how no one can really explain why ALL OF WISCONSIN DRINKS SO MUCH BRANDY!  one article went right to the source  – Korbel and got this quote:

Wisconsin is our number one state,” says Margie Healy, director of public relations for the California-based Korbel. “We export 385,000 cases a year, and 139,000 go directly to Wisconsin. That’s one-third of our total production.”

all i can tell you is that they are darn good drinks!  my girlfriends and i tried the “sweet” version this past weekend and loved them!

so here is ROF with another drink for you to try out this weekend.  make it for you and your loved one and send us a picture! recipe is below.

Brandy

Orange

Lemon

Cherries (jar)

Cube of sugar

Angostura bitters 

Sweet: 7-up or Sprite

Sour: Club Soda

Ice

Put cube of sugar in class and squeeze the juice from one slice of orange and add a cherry.  Muddle it together – just press and break up the sugar cube and cherry.  Put 4-6 dashes of bitters in the glass and add some ice cubes.  Next, put in about 2- 2.5 ounces of Brandy.  Korbel is most popular.  Lastly top with either 7-up for SWEET or top with club soda for SOUR or a little bit of BOTH for a PRESS.  Add one more cherry to the top.  Take some lemon zest and squeeze the oils into the top and rub zest along rim.  There you go!  Enjoy!

Share your pictures with us!

 

cook it: crab cakes w/lemon dill sauce

4 Aug

cook it this recipe is designed for the person or couple who wants to cook but have a hard time deciding what to cook and frankly, how to cook.

sometimes you just gotta say “cook it!” and dive right in.

it is the perfect time of year for this recipe!

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this is a perfect recipe to do this saturday.  so read the recipe, buy the ingredients and then saturday mid-morning, after you’ve slept in a little bit and had your coffee:

grab all your ingredients

read the recipe again

put together your mise en place and

make your sauce and your cakes

then you just put them in the fridge.  when dinner time rolls around, well, aren’t you fancy?!  just pop those cakes in the oven, prepare a little baby spinach salad with a light vinaigrette and plop two cakes down on top, swirl your lemon dill sauce on the side and you’ve got one hell of a dinner.  easy.

this recipe is from my wonderful sister-in-law susan who is an excellent cook.  check out the video she filmed of her making these for us at the bottom!

****

yield: 4 reasonably sized people

prep time: 30 min

total: 2 hours and 30 min

lemon dill sauce

get:

mayo – 1 cup

buttermilk – 1/4 cup

dill – 2t chopped fresh

italian parsley – 1t chopped fresh

lemon zest – 1 t

lemon juice – 2 tsp

garlic – 1 clove minced

make: combine all the ingredients above in a bowl and stir well.  put in fridge and let it chill out.  sauce will thicken as it chills. 

crab cakes

get:

butter – 3t

scallions – 3 chopped

red bell pepper – 2t chopped

garlic – 1 clove minced

heavy cream – 3t

dijon mustard – 1t

egg – 1

italian parsley – 1.2 t chopped fresh

cayenne pepper – a dab’ll do ya

bread crumbs – 1 cup

parmesan cheese – 1/4 cup

crabmeat – 1 lb.

make: melt 1t of butter in a skillet over medium heat.  

saute’ the scallions, pepper and garlic for about 3 minutes. in a bowl, 

mix together the cream, mustard, egg, parsley, cayenne pepper, 1/2 the bread crumbs and the vegetables you just sautéed.

gently fold in the crabmeat.  form mixture into 8 patties.  

in a mixing bowl, combine the remaining bread crumbs (1/2 c) and the parm cheese.  pat this topping onto both sides of the patties.  refrigerate until firm – at least 2 hours. 

you can cook these on the stove in a little bit of oil or bake them which is what we do. 

top each patty with a small pat of butter and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  serve on a bed of spinach with a dollop of lemon dill sauce on the side. 

are you ready to impress your loved one with this awesome dinner?  here is susan making both the lemon dill sauce and the crab cakes.  make them this weekend and post a pic to instagram and tag me.  i dare you…!

3 fabulous + easy chicken meals

2 Aug

wanted to share with you a delicious + easy way to stretch out a chicken dinner.  this is great for:

it’s too easy to get into a habit of ordering take out or running through whole foods to get something quick and somewhat healthy to eat. but why?  i’ve got something more delicious and quick and easy for you.

so… meal #1.  go to a specialty grocery store on a sat or sun morning and get a couple of marinated chicken breasts. you’re going to get 2-3 meals out of this so buy accordingly.

you could marinate it yourself and if you do there are some good marinades here and here.  but if you’re busy – why?   if you live in texas, go to central market where they have a lovely choice of millions of kinds of marinated chicken breasts.  maybe not millions.  In Detroit area go to papa joe’s or here in Madison, go to metcalfs.  you know what i’m saying…

IMG_2795

meal #1 -DINNER –  grill or bake those chicken breasts, add rice and simple roasted vegetable.  done.  easy.

(SIDENOTE: to roast your vegetables just heat oven to 400 degrees, wrap a cookie sheet with tinfoil, throw some cut up brussel sprouts or broc or cauliflower (um yum!)  a drizzle of olive oil, some kosher salt and sprinkle of pepper, toss, throw in oven. watch them after about 15 minutes and take out when crispy with blackened edges.  if you want to get fancy, throw some of this on the veg before roasting.  i’m always fancy and i love this spice!)

brussells

ok that wasn’t the fun part.  big whip, you’re thinking.

so now, you should have some extra cooked chicken breast.  cut them up into tiny bite size pieces.    put them in a airtight container.  i start my year with tons of these.

meal #2 – LUNCH THE NEXT DAY – Chicken and cheese quesadillas!  oh, these are so good and actually kind of fun to make.  buy flour tortillas and keep them for exactly this purpose.  these can be as healthy or fat-laden as you want them to be.  the technique is the same.  the tortilla has to be big enough to fold in half.

here is the step by step:

IMG_3335

  • get a big fry pan  – i use a cast iron skillet
  • spray it with PAM and also drop a pat of butter in there. get it nice and hot!
  • take your tortilla, and put a thin layer of cheddar cheese on half
  • top with your leftover chicken
  • cut up some green onion and sprinkle on top of that
  • finish with a little more cheese.  this is key – there must be cheese on the top and bottom – that’s the glue that holds everything together.
  • Fold it in half and put in the pan.
  • VARIATION: you can also use two tortillas like i show above.  as your butter melts, swirl one tortilla around in the butter and pull it out and place butter side up on a plate.  put another tortilla down and fill cheese- chicken-onion-cheese and place the other tortilla butter side up on top.
  • let the tortilla cook for quite a while.  i wait until i smell slight burning… but you don’t have to do that.  then flip!  take a big spatula and flip quickly using your hand as a guide.

meal #3 breakfast

use that small amount of chicken breast you cut up to throw in scrambled eggs.  chicken and scrambled eggs?  yes, you heard me correctly.  lots of protein in the morning is super good for you and keeps you less hungry throughout the day, says this.

let me know if you try the quesadillas!  i adapted my technique from the one and only pioneer woman here.  she rocks.  i’m making shrimp ones later today!

5 ways to get ready for guests

29 Jul

are you a planner?  if not, hosting out-of-town guests would be daunting.  even though they may be low maintenance, it never changes how special i want the time to be.

so i thought i’d write out how i plan since i’ve had several friends ask me for advice.

first, start a pinterest board for your event.  even if it is just a dinner.  make it private if you don’t want people to see.  or not.  pinterest is hands down one of the best places to get recipes, decoration ideas and thoughts on entertaining – everything!

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second, having a game plan is key.  it’s funny how this spilled into my work as well.  i’ve seemed to become a stickler on timing and i’m like that at home too.  it’s not enough to have a couple recipes printed out and the ingredients.  ROF and i found that out the hard way when we made boeuf bourguignon with my sister.  we found out that the mushrooms had to marinate for like 8 hours and the beef had to cook for 4.  we ate at 2am in the morning (and after 3+ bottles of wine) – so timing is everything.

be crazy about it.  i keep my game plan in an app called evernote.  that way i can replicate it.

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I have a notebook called visitors itineraries, then inside it is the event like “christmas 2017” and then inside that i have folders for grocery list, menu/recipes and game plan.  the plan tells me exactly when to do something and that way i can plan ahead and make sure food gets hot to the table on time.  i am very literal – kind of like an idiot talking to herself…-

“take meat out of fridge at 3pm”

“put meat in marinade at 3:30pm, preheat oven 400”

“meat in oven at 4pm”

“cook at …..”  you get the picture.

third, do as much as humanly possible in advance.  make the salad dressing, trim the veggies, bake the cake – anything at all that can be done in advance – do it.  this is something my mentor (from a distance), the barefoot contessa, has said many times.  make it in advance.  in fact, her new cookbook is all about doing just that.  unless the cooking can be a fun group activity and you’ve got some casual, hang-around-the-house-time, limit what you’re doing while your guests are there.  of course, this depends on the guests you’re having.  if it’s family or close friends – have them join in and help – no biggie.  if it’s more formal, don’t be chopping the veggies while your guests feel helpless staring at you!

51hcOrWFjQL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_fourth, set up a bar away from the kitchen.  it’s where everyone congregates and if you’re trying to get food prepared, it can be challenging to work around everyone.  don’t feel as if you have to have a fancy bar.  anything can become a bar.    the more quirky, the more fun it is.

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get a big basket and fill it with basic booze, couple bottles of wine, already open, glasses an ice bucket and some lemon/lime wedges – there you go!

fifth –just work your plan.  when i have guests for a couple of days, just extend the itinerary and the plan.  i typically have a lot of fun with our guests…ha… and can forget that i’m supposed to make the breakfast casserole for tomorrow!

hope this helps!  please add any tips you have.

best flank steak recipe

27 Jul

just in time for the weekend and back by popular demand…

need a “go to” steak recipe?  this is it.

i call

it the “girlfriend steak dinner” because it’s what ROF served his girlfriends if they made it to date #4.  i know this because one saturday while we were visiting in his kitchen (let’s call this date #5), his friend came over and asked if ROF had fixed me “the famous flank steak yet.”

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huh?

ROF’s face turned a shade of red i hadn’t seen before as he tried to shrug the comment off and grab his friend in a head lock to shut him up.

the previous weekend ROF had indeed fixed me this famous flank steak recipe along with his butter noodles and some nice red wine.  evidently this is what lover boy did to pull out all the stops for his lady friends!  i’m glad that those lady friends now are my mom, sister and his wife!

well, here it is.  transcribed from a handmade and passed down cookbook.  you can’t go wrong.

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ROF’s GIRLFRIEND FLANK STEAK

2 tsp unseasoned meat tenderizer

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp dry sherry

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp accent seasoning (see photo below, in case you don’t know what i’m talking about)

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honey (to drizzle on steak)

  • pierce surface of flank steak at 1 inch intervals with sharp fork.
  • combine ingredients except honey
  • put steak in pan flat and drizzle with honey on both sides
  • put steak in large baggie and pour ingredients over steak and let stand at least 1 hour at room temperature
  • grill meat over high heat for about 5-7 minutes on each side (use a timer, flank steak is bad when well done!)
  • slice with sharp knife into thin slices carving at an angle against the grain

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IMG_5122518b32b3aeeca5f0762bea7edb0fee8ffor more steak ideas from ROF, click here!

spicy pickle gin martini recipe

21 Jul

you know you’re already thinking about happy hour.  whether it’s you and your sig other or maybe you’re looking for something swank to kick off a dinner party this weekend – this is your drink!

recipe:

1-2 oz dry gin

splash of dry vermouth

splash of juice from jar of  spicy pickles

get a martini glass and fill it with glass and ice, set aside.  in a martini shaker, pour in gin, then dry vermouth, then spicy pickle juice.  give it a good shake.  empty glass of ice and water and pour your drink.  garnish with spicy pickle.   enjoy!  for more ROF cocktail videos, click here

 

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the only grilled shrimp recipe you’ll need

29 Jun

run, don’t walk to the store, buy what you need to make this today.  i found this awesome recipe here .

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HONEY GARLIC GRILLED SHRIMP

1 bottle (8 oz) Italian salad dressing (get the good stuff) 

1 cup honey

1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 lbs uncooked medium shrimp peeled and deveined (we didn’t use frozen) 

that’s all the ingredients folks!

combine the salad dressing, honey and garlic and set aside 1/2 cup for later.  pour the marinade into a large baggie and dump the shrimp in.  put the baggie in a casserole dish so you don’t dribble in the fridge.

**see my note below on how long i marinated the shrimp in the fridge.  directions say for 30 minutes, but i did overnight + a day.  no biggie here.  reserve the 1/2 cup marinade reserve and put that in fridge too.

drain and discard the marinade.  throw the shrimp on the barbie and throw the reserved marinade on top of it.  this is what ROF did although the recipe called for much more delicate maneuvers.  worked for us.  grill on each side only about 1 – 1.5 minutes per side.  when they start to turn white but get that nice honey char on the outside – they’re done.

we had couscous and grilled corn on the cob on the side.  plenty left over for lunches the next day.  i also picture this to be a fantastic appetizer.

easy, flavorful + scrumptious grilled shrimp!  my new shrimp go-to recipe.  i can’t believe i just used the word go-to.  i hate that phrase. #saveit #loveit

if you try this, snap some pictures so i can fancy this blog up with some step by step pics.

25 things to do with blueberries

24 Jun

if you’re like me, you walk into whole foods or your local grocery store of choice and walk right into the fresh produce section.  there sits beautiful mounds of blueberries all nicely packaged and wrapped with care.  i tend to daydream as step closer to them – thinking of all the hard work that went into getting those blueberries to us.  you know… how they have to  be picked, sorted, packaged, shipped and then they have just a few days (if that) of shelf life.  yes, i know, that goes for all produce.

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but i never end up grabbing a pint because i  just can never finish a whole one and they end up going bad.  and then i feel guilty.  so i walk past the blueberries and think …next time…

NOT ANY MORE!

i’ve specially curated a batch of 25+ blueberry recipes for you from some of my favorite bloggers and pinners.  don’t miss the one here – a hysterical v-logger that i love!  those little blue nuggets of goodness will never get wasted now!  i’ve only collected recipes that look good to me and that i would make.  or i liked the name of the recipe like cloufouti.

here are 5 blueberry recipes and for the rest, go to my dedicated pinterest page here.

be sure to click on the “by” for the recipe.

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baked blueberry oatmeal

from cupofjo blog

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blueberry chopped chicken salad

from us highbrush blueberry council

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blueberry sauce crepes with honey whipped cream

by diethood.com

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summer corn + blueberry salad

by food.com

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blueberry lemon cake

by food52.com

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 1.18.39 PMand if you’re looking for 25 things to do with peaches…. click here!  or check out this awesome recipe for a tried and true delicious peach cobbler recipe.

DRINK RECIPE: THE TIDAL WAVE

17 Jun

back again by popular demand is our weekly drink recipe by ROF.  if you are headed out to a sporting event, sitting by the pool, hanging out on the lake, this one is for you.  recipe is below the video.  enjoy!

 

the tidal wave: makes 2

1 wheat beer

2 shots of vodka

3 oz limeade or lemonade

squeeze of lemon

mix all together and pour in two glasses over ice.  garnish with lemon.

NATIONAL GIN DAY!

10 Jun

let’s celebrate with a GIN GIN drink recipe from COCKTAILS WITH ROF!

 

1oz dry gin like Bombay

1oz gin liqueur

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 slices of peeled cucumber

3-4 fresh mint leaves

Splash of ginger ale

put all but ginger ale in a tall glass and muddle it (smoosh it with a muddler), pour over ice, top with a big splash of ginger ale and garnish with a slice of cucumber or lime.

Enjoy!

WIN-WIN NO-FAIL ROASTED ASPARAGUS

19 Apr

raise your hand if you love asparagus!  

if you didn’t raise your hand, it’s probably because you don’t cook it the right way.  no offense.

my friend, terry brown of roswell georgia, showed me the easiest, most fool-proof delish way to roast asparagus (or any veg!).

 

500 degree oven

spray pan with pam

arrange your asparagus on sheet pan, sprinkle with kosher salt

5 minutes.  done.

drink it: blood orange martini

29 Oct

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hey!

happy saturday night.

watching the cubs game (sniff), drinkin’ this spooky blood orange martinis with my girls – amy & ruby.

dropping a huge steak on the grill.

life is good.

i hope this finds you well.

happy halloween + go cubbies!

MAKE IT:

  • 1 shot vodka
  • ½ shot limoncello
  • ½ shot ginger liqueur (expensive, but you’re reuse making this)
  • 1 – 1½ shots fresh squeezed blood orange juice (found them at Central Market)
  • ¼ shot simple syrup (make it here or buy it!)
  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add ingredients and shake well. Make sure you make a face while you shake and hold the shaker like i do.  That’s just for fun.  Strain in a martini glass that you’ve filled with ice and water to chill and then throw it out before you pour the drink in.
Original recipe from cocktailsdrinkrecipes.com

cook it: yogurt parfait with mint and pistachio 

25 Aug

if you’re like me, you eat the same breakfast every morning.  except those days you get the bacon, egg and cheese mcgriddle from mcdonalds…just kidding…of course i don’t eat that crap!

this week’s episode of COOK IT comes with a tasty twist of routine.  it’s the best combo ever.  watch my lovely sister (in law) and one of my bestest friends prepare this scrumptious delight.

making martinis

20 Aug

and you thought you knew how to make a martini…🍸

throw around words like “dirty”, and “up” with confidence.

by popular demand, here’s ROF’s martini making magic for your drinking pleasure!

75 things to do with peaches

25 Jul

i have written over 350 blog posts in the past 5 years and the blog post i did on 25 things to do with peaches is still my biggest hit.  i think it comes up organically in searches.  so of course, i’m no dummy, i’ve upped my game.

this is a post on 75 things you can do with peaches.  ha.  this is going to sky rocket.

it is summer after all, and really nothing beats a perfectly ripe, juicy peach.  except maybe crisp michigan roadside corn.  yes, that’s a type of corn.

 

peaches

i’ve curated 75 things you can drink, eat and make with peaches.  you can grill them, mix them with savory items like pork chops or wrap bacon around them. you can make smoothies, salsa and jam.  you can drink them up in lemonades, tea, slushes or make a peach collins.  pair peaches with bourbon, bacon, vanilla, crab and ham.  it’s really quite versatile.  you can even make it into a sugar scrub and smear it on your face.

i’d rather each peaches though.  remember this recipe?

you can write about peaches, like this:

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or change your name to “peaches”

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or you can learn about peaches.  here are some cool facts you’ll feel smarter for knowing:

  • the top four peach-producing states are california, south carolina, georgia and new jersey
  • this fruit is a member of the Rosaceae family and is a close relative of almonds
  • a large peach has fewer than 70 calories and contains 3 grams of fiber. It’s also a good source of vitamins a and c
  • it is a good stress-reliever, helps to reduce anxiety – it is often referred to as the ‘Fruit of Calmness’ in hungary
  • in the world, china is the biggest producer of peaches and italy is the second

who knew?  now you do.  so go make some of these delicious peach recipes right now – before peach season runs out!

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XXOO

cook it: chicken florentine artichoke bake

21 Jul

cook it

thank god the weekend is almost here.  i’m ready for it.  while i haven’t been traveling too much this month, i find it hard to work from home.  anyone else think that as well?  i seems i need people, action and inspiration.  that’s why it was so much fun to have my sister-in-law hang out for a while this summer.  we had a lot of fun together.  we cooked up a storm, both at home and while taking a cooking class at sur la table.  

this week’s episode of COOK IT is a casserole and it’s perfect to make on sunday.  just saying that word, casserole,  is comforting.  one dish of love wrapped up with all the things i love.  pasta, artichokes, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, paprika.

just kidding, who loves paprika?

Cook

chicken florentine artichoke bake

6 servings

get it:

bow tie pasta – 8 ozs

onion – 1 small, chopped

eggs – 2

butter – 2t

milk – 1 1/4c

crushed red pepper – shake

dried italian seasonings – shake

chicken  -2 c cooked + chopped

monterey jack cheese – 2 c, shredded

artichoke hears – 14 oz can

spinach – 10 oz , fresh

oil packed sun dried tomatoes – 1/2 c drained and chopped

panko  bread crumbs – 1/2 c

paprika – 1/2 tsp

parm cheese – 1/4 c

do it:

preheat oven to 350.  cook pasta according to directions, drain.  in medium skillet cook onion in 1 t of butter over medium heat about 5 minutes, stir every so often.  remove from hear, set aside.

in a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, seasoning, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.  stir in chicken, cheese, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, half of the parm cheese, pasta and onion.  get in there with your hands and stir it up – a spoon can’t do it justice! transfer to a 13 x 9 baking dish.

fix a glass of wine.

bake, covered for 20 minutes.  in a small bowl combine remaining parm cheese, bread crumbs, paprika and 1t butter melted.  sprinkle mixture over pasta.  bake that puppy for 10 minutes more until golden!

eat it!

here is susan showing how to make it!

adapted from better homes and garden

wine to buy for casual get-togethers

28 Dec

ever want to grab some wine for a casual get-together, but aren’t sure what you should buy?  do you grab a bottle of expensive wine thinking that the more you pay, it must be good?  then you wonder if that will be enough and you grab another bottle and before you know it, you’re spending double what you planned?

don’t you hate that?

a colleague asked ROF for his recommendation on what wine he should buy over the holidays for some out-of-town guests.  i thought it was pretty solid advice, especially if you frequent costco as much as we do.

plus i thought it was kind of funny.

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Hey-

Sorry this has taken me several weeks. Just did a big shop at Costco on Saturday, so this is still top of mind.

White – Huge fan of the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc – it’s over in the cheap section in the cardboard boxes – not the wood crates. It’s $10.99 or $11.99 a bottle. Great wine – we drink a lot of this @ mi casa.

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Other White – Le Crema Chardonnay – Good stuff at around $12 a bottle. This is the house white @ The Mansion on Turtle Creek (no joke).

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Red – My favorite red that Costco sells is Coppola (Francis Ford Coppola – how bad ass is that?) Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. It’s great wine and both are a great bargain at Costco for between $11-$15 a bottle. And anyone that bad mouths Merlot is a dumb-shit and doesn’t know wine, they only remember the movie Sideways which sent Merlot sales sliding for years.

Another red to try – Dynamite – either the Cab or Merlot – a little cheaper than Coppola but real good. It also has a cool label.

Dynamite Vineyards 2012 Merlot 750ml

Hope this helps.

Happy Holidays and bottoms up!

ROF

101 ways to get your house ready for guests – friends weigh in!

15 Nov

i love having house guests.  because it is just ROF and me (and ruby!) having our house abuzz with family and friends really gives me the feeling of home.  i love making our company comfortable whether it’s a home cooked meal, special conveniences or little surprises.

so i reached out to my friends to find out what they do to make the visit special.  i love these ideas!

have some of the guest’s favorite things on-hand; e.g., snack, coffee, liquor/beer. Female: fresh flowers, magazines, candle, comfy bedding, beautiful glass for bottled water, something silver in room Male: good breakfast food, James Patterson-type books, late night snacks, bottled water – marinell roe

i had my sister and her boyfriends initials monogrammed on hand towels. – megen decker

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get a collapsible suitcase holder at bed bath and beyond to get their suitcase to a place they can easily use it. put a small surprise on the bed. if kids are visiting get a little something about the city or candy treat.  if they are coming to see your city print an agenda like u and britt did when we came to chicago.aunt sally nilsen

for me, the thing that makes having house guests easy is organization in advance.  whether it is room prep, meals or activities, if you plan ahead, make an itinerary, buy and prep in advance, you can enjoy your guests and feel less stressed.  – susan prendeville

i like to put a goodie bath basket on their bed or in the bathroom. something luxurious, soap/body wash, loofa, plush washcloth and candle maybe to help them feel at home and little gifts they can take home with them.- katie ballard

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since the guest room also doubles as storage when there are no guests, i typically organize the guest room closet and find extra non-wire hangers to put in there.  – meredith conte

i frame my wireless network and wifi password and put it on the bedside table.  Like what they would see in a boutique hotel.

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i always buy fruit, juice, banana bread or croissants and set up coffee and tea so they have a little continental breakfast waiting for them in the kitchen. people wake up at different times so even if I go back to bed, it’s there waiting for them and they don’t have to feel weird searching through the pantry.  I like doing this even if we have brunch plans because like I said…sometimes people wake up really early and i’m always hungry as soon as I wake up.

i always buy chocolate and set it out in candy dishes.  People like to munch and snack and it’s nice being able to grab a few pretzel M&M’s on your way to bed!

i let them sleep with riley, if they are really good friends… he’s a snuggle bug. – jackie grubb

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i love to cook for guests and a few special items I will pull out like chicken enchiladas or a lasagna that’s made with pepperoni (yum!) we also love to make a brunch for the first morning complete with mimosas. my go-to brunch casserole is pioneer woman’s sleepin’ in breakfast casserole.

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when we go out, we try to look for unique spots that the guests might not have at home. i love to try new restaurants and want to share that experience with others. – jennifer anderson

i love to leave a small vase of fresh flowers, nothing fancy (I can usually run outside and find something pretty in bloom) by the bedside.  ordering out from a local pizza place that first night makes things casual and easy and gives people time to relax. – lindy stagnaro

have a box of matches or a nice room spray in the bathroom and other accoutrements like nice simple soap in the shower and q-tips on the counter. set up a power outlet by the bed for phones and ipads to charge – sarah beth prendeville

i also asked my friends what games they like to play with guests and i heard about these several times:

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dani crowder’s friends and guests have a blast playing this game and we have had great success learning from jamie hare’s family playing this game

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but the most creative, interesting and fun suggestion came from christine warren.  her husband likes to whip up molecular gastronomy creations (invitation, please!) and she suggested purchasing this fun thing to do with guests!

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i have also gone to the local unique chocolatier and bought a sample box of chocolate and had guests guess what is in the chocolate (whiskey, bacon etc…)

lastly, here are some of my tips:

  • give people “jobs” to do.  everyone asks what they can do to help and typically they really do want to help – so delegate roles such as setting the table, writing out place cards, helping keep people’s drinks filled and clearing the table make people feel helpful and play a part
  • have the coffee pot ready to go – just press a button and hot coffee is on the way so your guests don’t have to wait if they wake up early
  •  plan for some down time.  time for people to do their own thing – take a walk (have an extra house key made), read or just hang out and not feel like they have to be “on” the whole time
  • plunger in the bathroom.  no one wants to ask for one and if you have a finicky toilet like we do – just keep one under the sink
  • give guests permission to help themselves to snacks at any time.  drinks in the garage fridge and chips and nuts in the pantry  – help yourself!  i love trader joes salt and pepper pistachios

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  • in the winter, keep comfy socks in guest room drawer and extra blankets by the bed.  sleep in your guest room so you can experience what they will

thank you to all my fun friends who contributed to this!  i can’t wait to have a house full of family this thanksgiving and they are sure to be the recipients of your great ideas.

dallas restaurant review: stock and barrel

23 Aug

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you’ve got to check out the bishop arts district of dallas.  i can’t wait to go back and explore more.  there have been so many changes since we moved away and back.

i was there recently and just popped in to stock and barrel to have dinner  with friends last weekend and catch a concert at the historic kessler theatre down the street.

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i loved my first impression of stock and barrel.  it was busy but not obnoxiously packed, had a great crisp and nice/casual aesthetic  and it had this delicious and faint smell like barbecue bacon inside.    we were seated right away at the time of our reservation and our waiter was attentive but not too much so and had spot-on recommendations.

as you can probably tell from my instagram posts – we eat out a lot.  i find myself ordering similar items no matter where we go.  i’m pretty predictable.  salmon or scallops and sometimes a steak.  big whip.  but here i tried something new.  the wagyu meatloaf with smoked bacon and melted onion hash.  it was outstanding! wait- rewind – we started with the crushed avocado toasts with spanish chorizo and balsamic gastrique and the goat cheese dumplings….oh my.  i think i could have just had that and been done.  everyone was very happy with their dinner and when we looked at our watches and realized our show was about to start, the waiter was awesome at getting us out quickly.

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photo creds: top left and bottom: A. Fulford and top right and bottom: Kye R. Lee, staff photographer at dallas morning news.

i would highly recommend stock and barrel in the fun bishop arts district in dallas.

if you’re not running to a show, stay in the neighborhood and go here for a drink afterwards or here for some specialty chocolate

then we got to see some great live music.  for starters it was matt stansberry & the romance.  i loved this band from OKC!

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the headliner was the relatives of dallas and they were awesome!  we had so much fun.  they had us rolling around on the floor and jumping up and down.  we couldn’t help but laugh.  check them out here:


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what i made this weekend. beans, popsicles + shrimp scampi.

15 Jun

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i was feeling very domestic this weekend.  there is something i love about making and building – and just doing – things.  i guess it stems from staring at a computer screen all week.  i was very pleased with myself this past weekend with everything i got done.

first I bought and planted this lilac bush by the pool.  i love it.  i hope it doesn’t die.

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then i made the pioneer woman’s black bean recipe.  just a sidenote on that… probably didn’t need to make the whole recipe.  she cooks for a family of 6 and i cook for 2.  these took 2.5 hours to make and I have, like MILLIONS, of beans.  if you’re reading this and live in dallas and want some good beans, call me.

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for dinner, Sunday night, we had grilled shrimp scampi, a bobby flay recipe.

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lastly, i made one of my favorite blogger’s recipes for blueberry popsicles.  they were SO GOOD.  Blueberries, milk, basil, honey – YUM.

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i hate to say that i remembered to take a picture of mine too late – already ate half of it so check out her blog.  i guess i have some work to do before i’m a professional blogger!

 

 

 

4 hard-boiled egg recipes. you may have some left over tomorrow.

4 Apr

after Easter, you will undoubtedly have a couple dozen hard boiled eggs left over.  and you’re feeling guilty about throwing away eggs that the chickens worked so hard to give you.

i’m just kidding, i have no idea if it was hard or not…

so here are four recipes that are somewhat unique that you can do with leftover eggs.

but read this today so you can work these ideas into your Easter lunch or dinner ideas!

egg

roasted asparagus with garlic-lemon sauce

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from: eating well, March/April 2009

Roasted asparagus is delicious drizzled with a sauce inspired by Caesar salad dressing.

Low-fat mayonnaise makes the sauce creamy without a lot of extra calories or fat.

4 servings | Active Time: 15 minutes | Total Time: 25 minutes

ingredients

  • 2 bunches asparagus, (about 2 pounds), trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Toss asparagus with oil and salt in a large bowl. Spread on a baking sheet and roast, stirring once halfway through, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Combine mayonnaise, Parmesan, water, anchovies, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl. To serve, drizzle the asparagus with the sauce and top with hard-boiled egg (if using).

curried egg salad

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from: real simple

i know that egg salad isn’t a real unique way to use hard-boiled eggs.  there i said it because i know you were thinking it!  but curry isn’t something most people use everyday.  so there.

ingredients

8 large eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
 kosher salt and black pepper
4 slices pumpernickel bread
4 large leaves Bibb lettuce
potato chips, for serving

directions

  1. Place the eggs in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 12 minutes. Rinse the eggs under cold water, peel, and coarsely chop.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise and curry powder. Fold in the eggs and chives; season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Dividing evenly, top each slice of bread with lettuce, then the egg salad. Serve with the chip

egg, nut + mushroom pate’

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from: food.com and patty trowbridge filippone

ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 pound mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup unblanched almonds
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

directions

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms until soft, but not browned, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, place hard-cooked eggs, walnuts, and almonds.

Pulse about 5 times until minced. Add cooled onion mushroom mixture, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

Process about 5 seconds to combine.  Pour into serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the pate, and refrigerate a least two hours to let flavors meld.

Before serving, let pate sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Serve with your choice of crackers, melba toast, or toasted bread rounds.

egg, garlic + cheese baguette

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from: foodnetwork.com

to me, there really can’t be a better combo.  well, maybe.

ingredients

1 baguette
4 ounces soft garlic and herb cheese (recommended: Boursin)
4 hard-boiled eggs, thinly sliced, recipe follows
4 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1 green onion, green part only, finely chopped

directions

Preheat the broiler on high. Make 4 sandwiches, but cutting the baguette in half lengthwise, and into 4 crosswise. Spread cheese on both sides of the bread. On 1 side of each sandwich arrange the egg slices. On the other side, spread out the tomato slices. Put on a baking sheet and broil until the edges begin to turn golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle each sandwich with a few drops of balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with green onions. Arrange on serving plates and serve.

Perfect hard-boiled eggs:

Lay the eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water by at least 1-inch. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, turn off the heat, and allow the eggs to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water.
let me know if you use any of these!  happy Easter!

digging this

5 Feb

happy thursday!

i’m happy because it’s ROF’s birthday weekend (starting today and running right up to the big day on monday) and we’re taking off for the great white north – upper michigan.  yes, it’s going to be close to 80 degrees here in dallas and we’re headed up to a tangy 7 degrees but we don’t care – we’re snowmobiling again!  we’re going with some of our favorite people in the whole world and staying at one of the most beautiful houses i’ve been to lately.  can’t wait!

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here are some way random things i’m digging lately.  check them out!

1. trader joe’s frozen french onion soup.  

i know, it doesn’t sound that appealing, but trust me, it is so very delicious! they come like you see below, pop them in a small crock soup bowl, microwave for 3 minutes then pop into the over for 20 minutes.  the onions are caramelized, the broth has depth of flavor and there is only 210 calories to boot! run, don’t walk today!

frenchonion_soup_sealed imgres2. glenn harrold sleep app

i think i’ve talked about this one before.  but i use it so much i’m going to throw it in here again.  you can look at this and think it is a little weird, and i’d understand, but it works.  if you have trouble sleeping or your husband snores – pop in your head phones and let your mind take a little ride while listening to this.  i guarantee i’ve never heard the end of it because i’m out!

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3.  misterwives

love them!  jamming out now…

4. cup of jo

this blog by joanna goddard is so much fun to read.  i look forward to every post!  rss it now.

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hope you have a great thursday.

what to eat for breakfast

6 Apr

what to make for breakfast?

there ain’t nothing like a good egg.  my family loves eggs and we make them many different ways.  katie makes a mean fried egg.  she can even flip the egg in the pan without a spatula.   she’s cool.  ROF scrambles those eggs like no other.  it’s so simple yet so good.  he sautes peppers until they are just the right consistency before adding the eggs and cheese.  my specialty?  poachies.  yum-o.

breakfast

 

breakfast

 

but sometimes i like to venture past eggs and here are some great recipes!

first is oh joy’s rainbow pancakes. aren’t these the best idea ever?  especially if you have kids.  pop over there to get the recipe that is in video format.

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next is something that just made my mouth water a little bit.  baked baguette french toast by dash and bella blog.  i haven’t made this yet but think i will when i have my next overnight guests.

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ok, i’m back to eggs.  check out these awesome egg cupcakes.  another great company breakfast.  thanks dine & dish for this recipe!

0b8a1e2d9145dfb6299e5879530fcb85lastly, how bout these amaretto french toast bites by the awesome sweet paul?  delish!

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4 perfect cocktails: the gin + tonic

27 Mar

from the desk of ROF:

straight gin “smells like pine needles and tastes like hair spray”.

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that being said, i think i was hooked after my first one.  when i fix a gin + tonic in a heavy, cut glass, i feel as if i’m transported to a swank party in london.  it’s just such an english drink.

<side note: while dictating this blog to me, we just got in a riff about gin brands.  ROF said that hendricks was not a proper gin brand but if i wanted to listen to miley cyrus or katy perry and drink it, that was my prerogative.”  just thought i’d note that>

when i think of gin, i think of my grandfather, HB,  telling stories of buying good bathtub gin from chicago to take to the indy 500 during prohibition.  he said the last two years of prohibition – 1931 and 1932 were wilder than any of the 98 indy races in history.  i would have liked to have seen that.  i have continued to attend the indy 500 – this year will be my 30th.

i’m a fan of the original, old-school gin brands like tanqueray or bombay.  when it comes to making gin + tonics, you may wonder why a recipe is even needed.  the ingredients are pretty easy.  but it’s all about the perfect g+t.  the right amount of gin, the right tonic and cutting the limes just the way you like it.  my dear friend emma, bar manager at the original bob’s chophouse in dallas, showed me a technique 10+ years ago that i still use today.

get:

premium gin/bombay sapphire

fresh, unopened canada dry tonic

plenty of ice

fresh cut lime wedges

short, heavy cocktail glass

martini shaker

do:

fill your glass to the top with ice.  add 4-6 cubes in the bottom of the martini shaker. pour 2 oz of gin into the martini base.  add 3 splashes of tonic.  with the lid off, take a bartender spoon/stirrer and briskly stir the drink in the martini shaker base.

do not put top on martini shaker and shake it.  you will have a disaster on your hands!

squeeze a wedge of lime over the glass filled with ice.  place wedge on rim of glass.  pour contents in martini shaker into glass.

this, like the margarita we talked about here and the martini we talked about here is also a sipping drink.  enjoy!

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4 perfect cocktails: #2 the martini

8 Mar

like the margarita, the martini has many great memories for me.

at an early age, i always thought the martini glass was chic, hip + intimidating, all at the same time.  as a teenager and in my 20’s, i used to watch clips of the rat pack and james bond – always with a martini in hand and thought there was something cool about it.

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i can remember a boss i had when i was 30 telling me:  “even if you don’t drink martinis, you need to know how to make one.  if you’re entertaining clients, you won’t look like an uncivilized buffoon. right at that time, i decided that if i was going to make one, i had to actually drink one first.  i went into st. pete’s dancing marlin one evening (one of my regular spots) and pete asked: “RO, what can i get cha?” i said: “a martini”.   with a smirk on his face, he asked: “what kind?”  i replied (painfully honest here) “i have no idea” and then added: “make one that the cool guys drink”.

i watched him chill the glass, mix the concoction, slide it over to me on a bev nap where i took a sip, winced and choked back to him “pete, this is nothing but a cold shot in a big fancy glass.”  he laughed, walking away and said “yep, it sure is!”.

this recipe is for my perfect martini.

gather:

stemmed martini glass//shaker with strainer//extra dry white vermouth//olives with their juice//stoli vodka//ice

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do:

take the martini glass, put 6-8 ice cubes + a splash of water and let sit and chill for 10 minutes.

while chilling, fill the shaker with ice + pour 3 ozs of stoli vodka, the smallest dash you can pour of vermouth and a splash (1/2 oz) of olive juice (this is called dirt and i like mine just a little dirty).  put the lid on the shaker and shake for 2 minutes.  kind of like this:

finish:

take off top of shaker, dump out ice from the martini glass + strain the martini into the glass (no ice in glass) + garnish with two olives.

much like the margarita, this is a sipping drink.   do not operate heavy machinery if you’ve had more than 2 of these!  but, as they say:

“One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.”
James Thurber

by ROF

this is #2 in a 4 part series.  you can read about the margarita here

4 perfect cocktails: #1 margarita

23 Feb

every man, once he passes the beer only or the tumbler of rum (or jack) + coke phase of drinking, needs to learn how to make a good cocktail.  it needs to be one that he likes, impresses his friends + becomes a signature drink his lady friends brag about.

the first drink, that could be your drink, is the margarita.

probably the most bastardized cocktail on the planet.  i have to admit, i started drinking margaritas, probably underage, using chi-chi’s “authentic” original or strawberry margarita right out of the 2 litre bottle.  i remember a phase in college that i very much took part of drinking the infamous upside down margarita that is mixed directly in your mouth.   i remember doing this with a group of guys at our apartment and at the frat house in college.  all that was needed was a bottle of montezuma tequila + mr. boston’s margarita/sour mix.  together they cost less than $8. the bottles needed to be cold + almost frozen.  the person partaking had to sit in a chair with his head back, mouth open with a dish towel around his neck.  the “mixer” would then pour equal parts of the cold concoction directly in his mouth until his fist rose, which meant enough.

the kind of margarita i like to make now is nothing like these two i just described. 

i gained an appreciation for the REAL margarita after moving to dallas, texas in 1994.  anyone who lives in dallas knows all of the awesome mexican and tex-mex restaurants it has to offer. these are all places i love.  and their margaritas are all so different.  you gotta get the steak nachos at mi cocina and the frozen margarita in a frozen fishbowl schooner loaded with salt.  or go right now to javier’s, where i get the rojo fish and their top shelf margarita served in a stemmed blown glass goblet.  lastly, there is our beloved blue goose on lower greenville.  always get the fajita combo (god, are those good!) with their signature on- the-rocks sour margarita  in a large tumble.  it goes down way too easy.  two nights before my (+ the appreciators) wedding, we went there with my sister, Susan, and my brother in law and group of folks.   we were way over served pitchers of these margaritas but matched it with a platter of fajitas.

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after 15 + years of working on my perfect margarita that i like to serve to guests at home with a mexican meal or just on the back patio with friends and family is this:

ROF’s epic margarita

serves: 2

3 oz herradura silver tequila

2 oz cointreau liqueur

2 oz simple syrup (any brand or homemade)

juice of 4 whole limes

cup of ice

place all ingredients into a martini shaker and shake briskly for 2 minutes.   put additional ice cubes in a short waterford cocktail glass and pour in your mixture.

and as i often have to tell my sister-in-law, katie:

this is a sipping drink!

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enjoy!

ROF

killer company chili recipe

5 Feb

everyone is looking for that killer chili recipe and i may have found it.

this is fancy chili.

this ain’t no throw it in a pot and watch it boil type of chili.  it’s stay-in-on-a-cold-saturday-afternoon-light-a-fire-in-the-fireplace kind of chili.  in our case, we made it before the super bowl while it was a balmy 7 degrees outside.

i got this recipe from one of my favorite cooks, but it actually isn’t her recipe but an award winning chili from one of her friends.  i googled this name and found a lot of bloggers have already covered this chili recipe, so if you don’t believe me how good it is – company good- just click here, or here or even here.  i don’t mind, but they don’t have cute ROF in their photos!

PLEASE NOTE:

1. we cut this recipe in 1/2 and it gave us 6 servings.  note that or you’ll be eating it for a week. for lunch and dinner.

2. it has coffee in it.  fancy…!

3. there is a ton (i mean ton) of hot spices in here.  may want to cut it back just a little if you’re not adventurous like us.   the sour cream is a mandatory topping to cut in on the heat.

i’m not going to do a step by step post on this because, come on…. you can figure it out.  but both ROF and i highly recommend!  let me know if you make it.

Devon’s Award Winning Chili (Serves 6 to 8 )

Copyright 2010, Devon Fredericks, All Rights Reserved 

5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, crushed
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
2 green peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
6 cups tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
Salt and pepper
½ cup strong coffee
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans
2 tablespoons basil

Serve with
Sour cream
Grated Cheddar
Diced tomato
Tortilla chips
Guacamole

Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy casserole and quickly brown the meat in batches on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until limp, but not brown. Add the chili powder, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Add the green peppers, bay leaf, tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste, and the coffee, cover the pot and simmer for one more hour.

Add the kidney beans and basil, and warm through. Serve with bowls of sour cream, grated Cheddar, diced tomato, tortilla chips and Guacamole.

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way to be, louie.

13 Nov

i guess everyone has their idea of someone they’d like to emulate.  maybe a mother or father.  a mentor.  a rich tycoon.  maybe it’s a well-curated mish mosh of personalities.

the past week i haven’t been able to get ROF’s and my friend louie out of our mind.  he passed away this week – way too early.

we met louie through some very close friends of ours.  his restaurant soon became our meeting place.  after long days, before big parties, when wives were traveling or husbands worked late.  the meeting place.  unassuming – in fact almost obscure – louie’s didn’t have any windows but the minute you walked in, you felt at ease.   the best pizza, best salmon and ceasar salad like no other – Louie’s in east dallas was the place to be.  louie,  the co-owner and bartender was always there to greet us, shake our hand and stop and talk to us for a while. he kept the place open late for us and always made us laugh.  his trademark voice was scratchy, multi-toned and riddled with midwestern sarcasm.  he wasn’t the overly friendly, cheesy type that grinned from ear to ear 24/7 kind of person (thank God!)  he worked hard and had hard core conversations with all the folks at the bar that had an opinion.

when i moved to michigan, i came back to dallas and of course, went to louie’s.  louie was asking me about michigan and he left a voice message for ROF who was not there.  so i have the friendly “heyyyy robert…” message in my phone.

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after reading all the wonderful articles on louie, i started to really think about what it was about him i liked.  i realized that those attributes he has are ones i really want.  when i think about my career and where i want to go and do in the future, i think about louie and louie’s, the restaurant.  making people feel welcome and happy, serving good food and good drinks, working with family and making the people you work with family. what more in the world would you want?

my heart and prayers go out to louie’s wife, three kids, mom and brother.  also to our good friends who loved louie so much and to casey, john, beth and all the folks at louie’s who i know are still working but without hearing that trademark scratchy riff of a voice we all came to know and love so much.  the world has become a better place because of you, louie!

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10 tidbits about throwing a dinner party.

13 Aug

i love giving dinner parties.

it’s not as trite a love as you might think …loving throwing dinner parties.  after all, author hermann hesse wrote in his novel klingsor’s last summer:

“this day will never come again and anyone who fails to eat and drink and taste and smell it will never have it offered to him again in all eternity.  the sun will never shine as it does today…but you must play your part and sing a song, one of your best.”

that’s kinda how i feel about having good friends over, cooking for them, clinking glasses, laughing, sharing and making memories.

here are 10 tidbits that have stuck in my head from the experts (or just mom) when entertaining.

#1  don’t wait until everything is perfect to have people over.  things will never be perfect.  your guests aren’t looking for perfect, they’re looking to hang out with you.  don’t wait until you have a perfect matching set of dishes or replace that chandelier that is lopsided. don’t wait until you have enough money to serve fancy wine or cook a julia child french dinner.  just do it.  the most important part is the togetherness.

#2. linens don’t have to be perfectly ironed and matchy matchy.  i learned that from ina.  she said it’s much more casual to have unironed cloth napkins folded simply than perfectly starched ones.  if she said so, then that works for me.

#3. have a dinner box.

#4.  arrange small but multiple centerpieces of flowers all the same color – or a mix of 2.  and design it so your guests and see each other over the flowers.  best to always do an odd number.  don’t ask me why.  everyone knows that. i just use water glasses.  big whip.  

#5.  people always end up in the kitchen so fix a small bar there so people can help themselves. we have a tiny back porch that we dress up as a bar:

#6 consider music.  you can find my playlists on spotify.  i have playlists for specific dinner parties and for general dinner parties.  you can pandora it as well.  good pandora mixes for dinner: john mayer, ella fitzgerald, frank sinatra and some dinner parties:  beastie boys.  i’m just sayin’. 

#7.  think about having a signature party.  you know, one you throw every year at the same time.  ROF and i started a post-thanksgiving chili party in honor of my aunt’s traditions in so-cal.  

#8 ponder having a theme.  i’d love to take credit for this, but we threw a birthday party for suzanne last year and she suggested making it a wig party and that was quite the fun time:

 

#9 use the whole house and be creative!  we love entertaining outside during those 2 days in dallas when it is under 80 degrees.  we have also used our garage.  we’ve put a band in the back yard and “the burger man” in the driveway.  he flipped the best burgers for my mom’s 70th birthday party which we had at the house:

 

 

 

#10.  i can’t think of anything else.  oh yeah i can- mix up the guests.  we haven’t done this as much as we’ve wanted to but would love to have a “random friend” party.  i actually attended one once and it was a blast.  lots to learn about from new people!

what are your favorite parties to throw?  and are you due for throwing one?  over and out.  hope you enjoyed!

chef dat underground dinner in dallas

10 Jun

last night we finally did an underground chef dat dinner in deep ellum.

i say finally because i had heard about it from several people including suzanne and some friends of the glasses and always wanted to check it out but didn’t have the chance.

until last night.

what an underground dinner is – at least the chef dat way – is you get on an email list and every week there is a dinner – or a couple of dinners – that you can attend by giving your cc number and reserving your space.  space is extremely limited.  you do this without knowing what is going to be on the menu or knowing the location of the dinner.  you kind of know the area, but not exact location.  so if you’re one of of these types that can’t go with the flow -in terms of being a picky eater-  this is not for you.

chef dat is david anthony temple a 28 year old chef who has been doing this for 3 years and has built quite a following.  he has chef dat dinners now in new orleans (where he’s from), hawaii and ft. worth (new).

we went with the st. peter’s – two of the nicest people we know – and a lot of fun!  they own hypnotic donuts in east dallas (dangerously close to our house!)

 

will we do it again?  heck yes!  great music, drinks, food and company – we had a blast.  chef dat came out before every course and told us what is in it, how and where he got it and how he created it.  local ingredients, unique and creative ideas and delicious.  what a fun night.

how to pack a cooler.

23 May

because ROF is getting ready for his 30th pilgrimage to the indy 500 this weekend, i thought i’d repost an oldie but goodie.  below are pictures of previous trips to indy and i know this one won’t disappoint.

from the desk of ROF:

there are a few things i do well.

one of them is packing for a trip.  i don’t mean clothes – i’m talking the important stuff  – drinks and snacks. 

i enjoy traveling and did a lot of it growing up.  i always had this fascination with coolers.  i can still remember my grandfather’s cooler.  it was an unpolished, aluminum Coleman – the kind that can keep drinks cold for 2 to 3 days.  

i’ve always been into hospitality.  i was 9 years old in 1979 during the gas crisis.  i sold cold drinks and snacks to the hundreds of people lined up outside gas stations to get gas.  used the first generation, igloo playmate cooler (red base, white swivel top with push button on the side) this was my first job and i had that cooler all through college.

for the past 20 years,

i’ve embarked on a guys pilgrimage to indianapolis the last weekend in may for the grand daddy of all motor sports – the indy 500.  now, i’m using this as an example trip because it is the mack daddy trip for packing drinks and snacks.  obviously, if you’re going on a road trip with just you and your wife, dial this back a little bit.  typically between 4 and 8 guys go on this trip and everyone is appointed a task for the trip.  this trip is a well-oiled machine.  here are the tasks:

1. ground transportation

2. non-race activities (such as concerts, parties, parades)

3. music – both sound system and playlist for the weekend

4. dinner reservations

5. drinks and snacks

i’m in charge of #5.  this is no small task.  it’s obviously a huge responsibility and i take it very seriously.

first the beer.

however much we’re bringing we split half in bottles and half in cans (no bottles at the speedway, folks).  our beer of choice: heinken (glass) and coors light and bud light (cans)

now the booze and mixers.

this takes a little bit more research or you have to just know the group you’re with.  the last few years, when my friend tod eason is with us, we go through an unbelievable amount of petron orange label tequila.  however, a staple of the weekend is vodka.  usually we bring two brands: one top shelf for martinis and tonics and a mid-level brand that goes into gallons of bloody marys and screwdrivers.  i always toss in a handle or two of single malt scotch as well as a handle of boubon.

condiments, garnish and snacks.

essential garnish are: limes, olives, pepperoncini peppers, black pepper, tobasco sauce, worchester sauce, zing zang brand bloody mary mix, tonic, soda, coke, diet coke, orange juice and red bull.  then of course you need styrofoam cups, bev naps, stirrers and a martini shaker.

as far as snacks are concerned, an indy staple has been the sunshine brand of cheez-its (the non reduced fat variety), extra large jar of mixed nuts, double stuff oreos and  pre-made rice krispy treats.

how to pack a cooler – some tips and suggestions

just like getting ready for a road trip – you think about what you’re going to pack, what route are you going to take, all that jazz- to me, what is just as important is what refreshments are going to be brought and how they’re brought.

first, the list.  it’s very important to write down everything that is needed so nothing gets left behind. don’t make assumptions.  use this list to call your friends, ask questions and cross things off.

next, do the math.  take how many people you are traveling with x how many days and then divide by .5 and round up and that is how many beers to bring.  or about a case a person a day.  let me put it this way, we don’t run out.

packing for the road:  put a thin layer of ice at the bottom of the cooler.  then a couple layers of bottles or cans.  more ice.  repeat the layer of cans.  when you get to the top, put a thin layer of ice then lay the cut up fruit, garnish and other snacks that need refrigeration.

pre-cut your limes and garnish: don’t mess with packing knifes and worrying about getting one.  do all the work in advance

pack a small cooler on road trips to keep close with ice tea and diet coke and snacks.  don’t try and go digging in your professionally packed cooler in the trunk while on the road.

now, you don’t have to be going to indy with a bunch of your friends to apply these tips and suggestions.  it is the same if you’re giving parties at your house.  planning is key.

thanks,

ROF

dreaming of friday, on a tuesday.

15 May

one of my favorite things to do, ever

is stay home on a friday night with ROF.  it’s my blog and i can go on and on about my awesome husband if i want.

you see, i didn’t get married until i was 40 years old.  and i don’t regret it one bit at all.

in fact, it was well worth the waiting.  in my 20’s and 30’s, i saw a lot of my friends get married and i’m not going to lie, it was hard.  but i reminded myself to never settle.  i would rather have the mindset to not settle than to “follow the safe and typical road”.  there is nothing like finding the love of your life and your best friend.  sigh.  now, i have the best of both worlds – a fantastic career and an even more fantastic husband.

so back to friday nights…

i read somewhere smart to have an indoor couples activity and an outdoor couples activity.  something that you and your SPOUSE (isn’t that the worst word? ) can do together.  our indoor activity is GIN.  no, not the kind you drink, the kind you play.  we’ve been playing since almost the day we met.  we have a notebook where we keep the score (YES, YOU ARE WINNING, ROF) and we also write down little tidbits of info so we remember what we were doing that day.  we play all the time.  we played with our nephews michael and bill when they were in town.  my mom and dad were gin players big time.  they played right up until my mom gave birth to me – she was winning, she always adds.

when ROF and i were dating, he invited my mom over for a classic ROF steak dinner.  we decided to play gin.  mom was helping ROF by standing behind him because he was very new at the game.  at that point we weren’t even keeping score.  so i asked my mom “how do you keep score?”  and she said “i don’t know”.  which i knew at the time to be a bold face lie.  my mom plays cards (bridge) semi-professionally and was the reining gin queen.  but she’s also not prone to lying.  when i asked her about it, she said “honey, he didn’t even know how to hold the cards in his hands correctly, i wasn’t going to go into how to score.” we laugh about that now because ROF is kicking my butt in our on-going gin game we’ve been playing for over a year.

so … friday nights  – my favorite ones – are filled with ROF, gin rummy, a special dinner and good music.  this past friday, ROF made a special grilled shrimp with a dry rub and then BBQ sauce – which was out of this world!  add to that some grilled sweet potatoes with a honey lime glaze. scrumps!   we enjoyed skinny margaritas, good talks and of course some tunes.

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