Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WIAW, Syracuse, and Foodzie's Febuary Tasting Box

This post is going to be a big one. Are you ready for it?

First off I am in Syracuse, NY.  Trips to this neck of the woods are similar to when I go to Ithaca.  It always seems cloudy, gloomy, and snowy/rainy.  I am really hoping for the rain this trip and not the snow.

Whenever I go on a trip but am able to still have breakfast at home I have to have a Green Monster smoothie.  It ensures that I have at least one good serving of fruit via banana and vegetable via spinach. I feel like no matter what else happens at least I have those two servings. This morning I made it with coconut milk and 1/4 shredded coconut.  Both ingredients make it a bit sweeter than normal.

Lunch was on the run at Panera Bread.  This is my favorite go to lunch when traveling. I love the pick two options. You can switch it up so much that it never gets old. This lunch consisted of the chopped chicken salad, broccoli cheese soup, and a whole grain baguette.  That is at least 3 more servings of vegetables for the day. I am on a roll.

Dinner changed that a bit.  I forgot to picture my salad which is one more vegetable serving. In Syracuse there is a plethora of Italian restaurants. One of the best is Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse which happens to be located just next door to the hotel I am staying at.  The portions as you can see are gigantic.  I got veal parmigiana.  Its delicious. I ate half.  I am also leaving the rest in the car hoping that it is cold enough have the remaining part another night. Yum!

One of the themes this month for the Foodzie Tasting Box was a night at the movies. It took me a while to realize this was do to the Oscar being in February. Sometimes I can be a little dense.

This box was full of all sorts of delicious treats perfect for movie snacking.  Chai cola...haven't sampled this yet. Mr. J doesn't like chai and I don't drink soda.  We will taste it soon...just not yet.

This box was full of Mr. J's favorites. Give me chocolate. Mr. J prefers candy.  He got a boat load of tastings - chocolate covered raisins, and gummy fish...

homemade candy bar


and popcorn...

I am not a huge fan of licorice. Are you?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Potato Gratin

There are few greater joys in the world for me than being in the kitchen with some wine and cheese.  Add in some good company and I am one content girl.

This weekend things got a bit better in the kitchen when I attempted potato gratin for the first time.  The recipe is not a hard one to accomplish but it does take some mad cutting skills. These skills are not something I possess naturally.  Thus, I avoid potatoes gratin like the plague.

That all changed this winter though when at Christmas I got a mandoline. 1/8 inch cut potato slices.  No problem.  Two pounds of potatoes.  No problem.

My camera was clearly not cooperating this evening but don't let the blurriness deter you.  This is one fantastic recipe. Its amazingly delicious and rich even with only the small amount of cream. Try it. Wives and husbands will be happy.
Potato Gratin
by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Butter
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for broiling
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a saucepan, heat up the milk with a bay leaf, chopped garlic and nutmeg. Add in potato slices and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes become soft.

3. While potatoes are simmering, butter a casserole dish.

4. Once cooked, place potatoes in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Pour remaining milk mixture on top of potatoes. Finish with cream over the potatoes.

5. Top with some grated Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Sprinkle some more Parmesan and broil until cheese browns, about 5 minutes.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Fluffy Pancakes

Hello Monday. I wish you wouldn't come so fast every week.  I am happy that the weekend temperatures are looking up from the blustery windy weather the weekend brought. Back to the 50 degrees and sunny definitely makes your arrival a bit easier to handle.  

This weekend we had pancakes.  Or I had pancakes.  Mr. J turned me down Sunday morning.  It was 6:30am and he likes to wait a bit later for breakfast but still. How can you turn down at stack like this? 

These are the best pancakes I have had in a long time. They are healthy with whole wheat flour and a bit of honey for sweetener. Of the four cakes I ate, two had some mini chocolate chips.  I spread a bit of natural peanut butter between two of the layers and topped with coconut and maple syrup.

It was a good great start to the day.  And a perfect way to end pancake week.

Fluffy Whole Wheat Honey Pancakes
by Emily Morris
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
1. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs.
2. Melt butter and stir in honey until dissolved. Add to buttermilk.
3. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (mixture will be lumpy).
4. Heat a griddle or large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Grease lightly with oil.
5. Spoon batter onto griddle 1/3 cup at a time. Cook until edges are set, 3 to 4 minutes Flip, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend Edition: Daytona 500

This weekend is the Daytona 500.  Do you watch NASCAR?  I don't.  Mr J watches it occasionally and he said he wanted to watch this race.   I know they go really fast around the track.  Apparently I have no clue because I was thinking the average speed is like 100-120 mph.  Nope, more like 200 mph. 

I kind of think it is a silly sport. They drive around in circles (how they don't get dizzy is beyond me), go to the bathroom in their special space suits, and burn all sorts of gas and ruin tires. Not very Eco-friendly to me.  I don't understand.  If you enjoy it though, well good for you. I hope you have a fun afternoon.

In case you missed it this is what I was up to this week:

A trip to Mohegan Sun for a belated Valentine's Day dinner at Bar Americain.

Yummy dessert with coconut cupcakes for two! I realized two cupcakes is not nearly enough.

Pretzel Rolls.  No explanation needed. They are good.

Tried a new, more veggie filled loaf of meat with an adapted All American Meatloaf.

Confessions of a Food Blogger

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Happy Weekend!  

Do you have any fabulous plans?  I am excited for two days of nothing and another rendition of Zumba.  I hope I don't blow away because it is windy outside.

Describe yourself in 7 words
Driven, Exacting, Nurturing, Organized, Clean, Productive, Realistic

What Keeps You Up at Night
Everything keeps me up!  It is not myself I am putting to bed it is my mind if I wake up at any point it starts racing with just about anything.

Who Would You Like To Be?
I would love to be happy and content with life. Relaxed.

What Scares You?
Not getting every thing done.

What are the Best and Worst Things about Blogging?
Blogging takes my mind off of everything else going on in the world.  It gives me a reason for cooking too much food and an opportunity to share with others.  However, it is very time consuming. When I am busy with other things I get stressed out when I cannot create decent posts or read others. 

What is the Last Website you Looked At?
My email; I love email and check my accounts non-stop.

If you Could Change Something About Yourself What Would It Be?
I hold on to things for a really long time...I still am peeved about things that happened 5 years ago, even 10 years ago. If I think about it, I can get all worked up all over again.

Slankets, Yes or No?
I have never ever heard of slankets.  It sounds kind of funny so if I had to guess I would say no.  However I love snuggling up in sweat pants and a hoodie under a blanket.

Tell Us Something About the Person Who Tagged You
Stephanie is quite the smarty pants and as such is currently trying to get her Ph.D. in psychology.  Some how she still manages to create delicious dishes and desserts that don't break the scales.  Recently she tackled the task of making a yummy chocolate chip cookie that is low fat!  You can beat that I will be trying that recipe out soon.

Now I’m tagging along and answer one or all of the above questions.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Five: Confessions Of A Food Blogger

Today's Friday Five is a bit of a confession.  I have a few tendencies that for some seem a bit odd for a food blogger.  

1. Although I love my kitchen gadgets and probably have my fair share of random tools I resist the specialty pans.  The only one I have is the Madeleine cookie pan.  It took a few years to use but I loved the cookies so much I am not rethinking the whole necessity of a doughnut pan.

2. I don't know about you but sometimes the best meal is frozen pizza.   My favorite is Newman's Own or Kashi.  No it is not the same as homemade but I still enjoy it all the same.

3. Breakfast in general is not something I cook. I am content with cold cereal and smoothies.   I made waffles once last year.  Pancakes never.  It was Pancake week this past week and I had no idea.   

4. Dishes are the last thing I want to do when I am done in the kitchen. I tend to do them as I go along so I am not stuck with a huge pile

5. I although I love grocery shopping I don't like putting them away.  Every weekend I dread the big grocery trip purely because I don't want to unload them when I come home.  Problem is when Mr. J helps things seem to get lost often and I can never find things during the week.

Do you have any of your own confessions?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

All American Meatloaf

You all probably remember my loaf of meat story.  Well, I am glad to announce that I made meatloaf for the second time in my life.  I ate it too.  This was an abbreviated version from Ann over at Healthy Cooking For Me. The only difference is I added 1 carrot and 2 garlic cloves.  The carrots added an extra bit of sweetness and made me feel better for eating all of the meat.

This recipe was a huge success and I think it will now be my go-to meatloaf recipe.  Of course, I am only introducing this slowly into our recipe rotation so maybe once a year.  But I would highly encourage others who actually love meatloaf to try it out and eat it often.

We finished off the rest of the pretzel rolls with meatloaf sandwiches for lunch.  Mmmm, meat and bread, Mr. J's favorite.

All American Meatloaf

by Adapted from Healthy Cooking For Me, Cooking Light
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Ingredients (4 servings)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Mince onion, garlic and carrot in Cuisinart until finely chopped.

Combine first 12 ingredients in a large bowl, shape into one loaf. Place on a lightly sprayed rack in a broiler pan. Bake 350F for 40 minutes

Combine 1/2 cup ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Spoon over baked meatloaf; bake 15 minutes longer.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pretzel Rolls

I wasn't the best this week either for What I Ate Wednesday, especially the veggie part.

I lacked veggies. Even my good intentions were foiled by the trails of eating on the road.

Breakfast consisted of a coffee with chocolate soy milk before I left for the airport at 6:30am.  Around 9am I had a strawberry banana smoothie which I promptly downed before taking a photo. 

Around 11am mid my first flight I had a banana I stashed away from home along with one peanut and one pretzel snack pack.  Traveling makes me extremely nervous when it comes to food. I tend to always have something with me like a granola  bar or fruit.  I think of them like good luck charms.  When they are available everything goes smoothly. If I forget, flights are delayed and meals are missed. 

Lunch was had at the lovely Atlanta airport.  This is actually one of my least favorite airports, second only to MCI in Kansas City.  Unfortunately today I hit both.  I ordered a side salad which was a side Greek salad and a Caprese panini.  The salad was alright but at least there was some greens for the day.  The sandwich was warm but the tomatoes were the same color as the cheese with no flavor. 

Dinner was a bit of a disaster as well.  The massive salad above was their side salad. I call this meal one.  It was actually my favorite part.

Meal two was not so hot.  I decided on the ribs since I was in Kansas and all.  The poor waiter messed up my 1/2 rack of ribs order with the sampler of brisket, chicken and ribs.  It worked out well though because the chicken was my favorite part.  The sides were mac N cheese and steamed broccoli.  I thought I was being good with the broccoli but it was so salty that after the second floret I couldn't dare have any more.  The little mac N cheese portion was the best part and the only thing I wiped clean. 

At times eating out can have its perks...but days like this really make me long for a homemade meal. 

But enough of that here is the part of the post I am excited for...

Week two of the bread making was equally as successful.  Mr. J was beyond thrilled when I mentioned that I was going to be making pretzel rolls.

I need to learn to read the full recipe before I begin the process. I was all ready to turn the oven on only to reason I had another 30 minute rise before the rolls would be ready to go in.

I also made the mistake of telling Mr. J that they were going to be done soon and then they weren't.  Although there were a few extra steps with two rises, poaching the dough, brushing the egg wash and salting each were very easy.  The kitchen almost immediately begins to smell of pretzels once they go into the oven. It is not easy waiting for them to finish baking.

No more than two seconds of them being out of the oven Mr. J was wandering in circles around the kitchen waiting.   Good thing they are best served warm.  Makes for the perfect excuse to dig in quickly.

Salted Preztel Rolls
by Adapted from My Life as a Mrs.
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus rise time
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (8 rolls)
  • 1 ½ cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (not instant rise yeast)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4-½ cups unbleached all-purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted Butter, melted
  • ¼ cups baking soda
  • 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
  • Pretzel Salt, for sprinkling

In the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with the dough hook attachment), add the water, yeast, and sugar. Stir and let rest 5-10 minutes until foamy.

Add the flour, salt, and melted butter and mix using the dough hook until combined well. Cover with a plastic wrap (or a towel) and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured clean surface.

Line 1 large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Cut the dough into 8 pieces . To shape the dough take a piece of dough and start forming a round, smooth ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching to seal. Place, pinched side down, on a counter and lightly cupping your hand around the dough ball, rotate your hand in small circles lightly rolling the ball around the palm of your hand.

Place the ball on the prepared baking sheet pinched seam side down, with at least 1” between each roll. Cover with a towel and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes until they rise & double.

Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven rack in the middle position. In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil. Remove from heat and slowly add the baking soda place back on heat and lower to a simmer.

Place 2-3 of the rolls at a time into the poaching liquid, seam side down. Poach for 30 seconds and then carefully turn the roll over and poach for another 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to the same prepared sheet pan, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

Using a pastry brush, brush each roll with the beaten egg, making sure to coat all sides completely & then sprinkle each roll with a little pretzel salt. Using a sharp straight edged knife, cut a slash (or 2) -or- an “X” shape in the top of each roll. Bake the rolls in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coconut Cupcakes for Two

I needed something sweet tonight. In fact I needed two something sweets.  When I travel for work I miss my husband dearly. When I come home it is always a good thing.  However, when you are gone from the office so much you get used to it.  Days back in the office can be the busiest and most stressful.  Today was one of those days. 

Good thing there is string of recipes floating around the Internet for two cupcakes. I borrowed the vanilla cupcake recipe from Erin over at Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts.  I bumped it up a bit with some coconut extract and toasted coconut topping. 

I could have used both but I shared with Mr. J.  Funny that someone who doesn't really like coconut will jump at the chance to grab coconut cupcake when given the opportunity.

Now I am off to pack for Kansas.  A quick in and out trip for the week.

Coconut Cupcakes
by Emily Morris
Ingredients (2 cupcakes)
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 2 liners.

In a bowl, add egg white and sugar and whisk until combined. Add in vanilla, coconut extract and melted butter and stir until mixed.

Add flour, baking powder and salt and stir until smooth. Stir in milk. Fold in coconut flakes.

Divide batter equally between the 2 cupcake liners.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, or until cake is set. Let cool completely, then frost as desired.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Bar Americain

After being apart for a solid 8 days Mr. J and I finally reunited late Thursday night.  It was too long to be apart.  We were able to make it through Friday and enjoyed a much needed date night on Saturday.  It was really just a night out but we called it our belated Valentine's Day treat. 

We went to Mohegan Sun Casino and ate at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain. We don't gamble but after our first visit last fall we realized there is a pretty good selection of nice restaurants.  This was one we had been eying for a while.

Mr. J is obsessed with Raw Bars.  Every time we go to a restaurant with one he has to get oysters or something.  The last time this happened was in Charlotte. That trip didn't end well. Although he didn't get sick because of the seafood I was still leery of him jumping right back in.  He was not and promptly ordered this Crab-Coconut Shellfish Cocktail.

I had the worst time trying to decide which appetizer to order.  There were so many optioned that sound delicious.  I was trying to see what everyone else around me had as well.  I ended up with the Boston Bib, Bacon, Poached Egg, and Buttermilk-Blue Cheese Dressing Salad.  It was delicious.  The lettuce was very tender.  Being so busy with work this past week, I didn't have time to eat quite so much. My stomach shrunk.  I was starting to feel full after this salad.

I was not happy because I was waiting for my main course to come out.  I ordered the Fulton Fish Market Cioppino with Sour Dough Toast. It was so good. I am a sucker for all things with spicy tomato sauce and seafood.  This dish was exceptional.  There was a ton of basil and it was served with lobster.  In Maine we always get soft shelled lobster.  This one was hard shell and a pain in the butt to get the meat out.  The claw kept slipping out of my hand and I couldn't break through.  Mr. J came to the rescue though.  He struggled a bit but eventually was able to break the shell opened.  All of the seafood was cooked perfectly and pretty much melted in your mouth. 

Mr. J got the Rack of Pork with Double Apple Butter, Jack Daniels, and Smashed Potatoes with Goat Cheese.  He enjoyed it very much, especially the double bone part of the pork chop.  I sampled a bit of the smashed potatoes and they were so decadent.  You could tell there was a whole lot of cream and goat cheese going on in there.  They were some of the best potatoes I have ever had.  I went out and got some goat cheese just to try and replicate them again soon.

Although we were both pretty full we ended up getting a dessert.  We always have trouble ordering since I want the chocolate and he wants the apple dish.  We compromised with a blackberry souffle.  And to tell you the truth, I don't know when I would not order the souffle if there was one listed.  They are so go and definitely not something you just whip up for fun at home. OK I would probably do that but they are by far the best dessert to order out.  This one was not the exception.  They opened it up and pour creme anglais right down the center.  It was warm and gooey and utterly fantastic. 

Bar Americain
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd.
Uncasville, CT.

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