Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Contest...This Time Dessert!

One of the blogs I follow is that for Marx Foods.  This is an online company that has some amazing products for the home chef.  I drool just perusing their online store.  I have several of their samplers on my holiday wish list (in case you are reading Mr. Gooch, I think the Dried Chile Sampler and the Ritrovo's Artisan Salt Collection both would fit the bill!)

They are having a contest for 10 dozen molded ice cream desserts.  Just enter what you would do with the ice creams if you won in the comments section and you will be entered to win.  Good luck!

If I win, I will be serving these at a fancy dinner party Mr. Gooch and I are hosting for our immediate family after the holidays are over.  It is part of our Christmas present to them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas is Coming!! Christmas is Coming!! And Here's a Giveaway to to Help You Get Ready!!

With Thanksgiving over, this means that Christmas is right around the corner.  Gulp!  We are hosting the family Christmas Eve celebration this year.  Double Gulp!!

In any case, we could use another Christmas tree, like the one that Balsam Mountain is giving away.  Click here to enter the giveaway for a Colorado Mountain Spruce Christmas tree valued at $799.

For more information on Balsam Hill trees and how they are made, click here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our Anniversary Dinner at The Grill at the 1913 Room - A Review

(Image from the Amway Grand Plaza web site)

For our second anniversary, we decided to eat out.  Now that we no longer have the many wonderful Chicago steakhouses to choose from, we decided to check out one of the top places for steak in our new locale.  The Grill at the 1913 Room is said to be one of the best.

Overall, our dinner was quite amazing.  It was a beautiful evening with an unseasonably warm temperature.  Since we were eating mid-week there were only a few people in the restaurant so we were able to get a table with a window view away from other diners, lending itself to a quiet, intimate dinner for two.

Mr. Gooch had leaves of baby spinach with toasted pine nuts, roma tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon and maple-mustard vinaigrette as his starter and I had the torn leaf Caesar salad with shaved La Mancha, Manchego.  Mr. Gooch said it was one of the best salads he had ever had.  Very high praise and it set the bar high for the rest of the meal. 

The main course was where things got a bit dicey.  Mr. Gooch's was wonderful.  The 10 oz. Prime filet of beef tenderloin with a pistachio crust and Stilton Cream was cooked to perfection.  However, my selection, the 12 oz. grilled Prime dry aged New York Strip with herb butter, was overcooked.  Way overcooked.  It was still tasty but cooked almost to well done, definitley not the medium rare that I ordered. 

Now, before you get as upset as I did about the wrong doneness, the manager was quite embarrassed about the wrong preparation and offered to get another New York Strip prepared as I ordered it.  However, at this point, I decided against it since I was so hungry that I didn't want to wait another 10 to 15 minutes to get another steak.  Especially since the savory aroma of Mr. Gooch's cooked to order steak kept wafting across the table toward me.  So I kept my steak and they removed the entree from the check without any argument.

The capper to the evening were our desserts.  There are not enough superlatives to describe how amazing they were.  I had the Milky Way, a chocolate tower with baci mousse, a trio of sauces and Amarula Liqueur.  Mr. Gooch had the Chocolate Composition, a rich chocolate cake topped with dark chocolate raspberry truffles, Manjari chocolate shards, and candied orange with a duo of sauces.  There was even a sugar cookie with Happy Anniversary written on it in milk chocolate included in the plate of my dessert.  They were both absolutely divine, creamy, chocolately, beautiful, works of art, fruity and a perfect end to a wonderful night. 

I wish I had a photos of our dinners to share with you, but I had left the camera on the hall table.  Maybe next year.

Here's wishing you all a memorable anniversary dinner of your own this year!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan for the Week of November 22

I cannot believe how time has flown.  It is already the week of Thanksgiving with December and the Christmas holiday close behind.  (gulp!  I think I need to get started on deciding on what we are giving this year).  But even with all the holidays, menu planning goes on.  This week we have two new recipes that I found in one of my many cookbooks.  

One of the bonuses of moving is that being reminded of books (cookbooks included) you forgot you owned.  I purchased the Best Ever Three & Four Ingredient Cookbook at my local Borders Books about a year ago and then never got around to making any of the many tasty looking recipes.  It is written by two British chefs and I like that it has a more European flair.  Just one more way I am trying to expand my palate. 

With that, here is our week's menu. 

Sunday:  Herbed roast in the crockpot with skillet potatoes, carrots, Caesar salad and rolls.
Monday:  Teriyaki salmon (a new recipe for us so look for a post on this recipe coming soon)
Tuesday:  Chilli-spiced chicken (another new recipe)
Wednesday:  FITF
Thursday:  Turkey Day at my aunt and uncle's house
Friday:  FITF
Saturday:  Breakfast for Dinner (since I am on my own with Mr. Gooch out of town)

Don't forget to check out to see what others are planning for their menus this week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Yummy Birthday Dinner!

Sunday night was my birthday.  It was a big one.  But since I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with turning that particular age, Mr. Gooch was wonderful about the day being low key.

The best part, that I can share with you, was the wonderful dinner Mr. Gooch made for me to celebrate.  It was made up of some my favorite dishes.

We had bacon-wrapped filet mignon seasoned with this tasty rub, dilled carrots, skillet-fried potatoes with smoked Gouda, Caesar salad and a wonderful summer berry torte from one of our fav bakeries (highlighted in the pic at the top of the post).

It was a wonderful evening and a great way to celebrate the birthday.

Here's hoping all of your birthday celebrations are as tasty and wonderful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Herbed Tuna Steak on a Bed of Fresh Greens

I thought the title would make our tuna steak salad sound a bit fancier.  I started with this recipe for Grilled Herbed Tuna that I found on Erica's Kitchen Adventures and aded our own twists.

First, the weather was not cooperating the day we had planned to eat this meal.  Since that meant no grilling, I whipped out our grilling pan so we be able to cook the tuna steak in a similar way.  Next, I used dried herbs, ground them in a coffee grinder to make a rub instead of using the herbs crushed and placed on the fish.  I also added a little rosemary and garlic powder (left over from a previous dish).  Finally, since we didn't have the fresh herbs, we skipped those all together.

With theser changes, the tuna was quite tasty.  However, I was a bit rushed so didn't get a chance to take the tuna steak out of the fridge and let it warm slightly.   This resulted in a cool center since our tuna steak was quite thick and we did not want to overcook the outside.  If I were to make this again, I would cut the steak in half so it was not so thick. 

Herbed Tuna Steak on a Bed of Fresh Greens
(Source: Modified from Erica's Kitchen Adventures)
1 Tuna Steak (max of 1" thick)
1 T Dried Thyme
1/2 T Kosher Salt
1/2 T Lemon Pepper
1/2 T Dried Rosemary
1/2 T Garlic Powder
1 T Olive Oil
1 Head Romaine Lettuce, washed and shredded
Salad dressing of your choice (we used a light Ceasar)

Preheat grill pan to medium/medium-high heat.
Mix together herbs and salt.
Grind in a coffee grinder until powdered.
Coat the tuna with oil and the rub with the powdered herb mixture, coating both sides and the edges.
Place tuna steak on grill pan.
Grill for about 2-3 minutes per side, including the edges, depending on thickness and how you like it cooked.

Slice thinly and place on a bed of greens.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Menu Plan for the Week of November 15

I missed my usual Sunday night posting of our menu plan for the week. But I have a good reason, I promise.  We were celebrating my birthday.  I turned 39 (again).  DH made me a few of my favorite recipes (check them out below) and we decided to have a quiet evening without technology. 

Now that I have had some time to actually spend on the week's plan, here it is.

Sunday:  My birthday dinner.  Bacon-wrapped filet mignon using this recipe, dilled carrots, caesar salad
Monday:  Mac and Cheese with spicy chicken sausage
Tuesday:   Pesto Cheese Ravioli with chicken
Wednesday:  Roast Chicken in the Crockpot
Thursday:   FITF
Friday:  Homemade BBQ Pizza using the leftover chicken from Tuesday
Saturday:  FITF

Check out to see what others are planning on eating this week.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Different Chicken - Sweet not Savory

I have had Mark Bittman's Bitten blog from the New York Times in my Reader for a long time now.  I like his writing style and am a regular reader.  One thing I am always checking out are the recipes, to see if anything looks good for both Mr. Gooch and myself since I am the picky eater in our duo (mushrooms, shellfish and tomato chunks are just a few of my "oh heck no" ingredients).

Most of the time, unfortunately, I have to take a pass on his recipes.  However, back on March 10, 2009, the Recipe of the Day "Roast Chicken With Cumin, Honey and Orange" seemed right up our alley.  Mr. Gooch loves honey, I love cumin and we both love orange juice.   Additionally, it looked like it had just the right combination of sweetness and heat to keep things interesting.  Yes, it has taken me months to get around to making this recipe.  Please don't ask me how many more recipes I have in my recipe queue.  It will just make me sad. 

Unfortunately, as written the recipe didn't quite live up to our expectations.  Don't get me wrong, the meat was moist and there was nice flavor.  However, it was just a bit too sweet for our taste.  I guess we have palates that like more savory dishes.  We do plan on trying this again, however, we are going to up the cumin and substitute some of the orange juice for other citrus (since they have a stronger/sharper flavor).  So all is not lost. 

We did not have the burning problem of the skin that the recipe alludes to, however, I did keep a very close eye on our bird and kept the roasting pan toward the front of the oven so that may have made the difference.  The skin just got a quite crispy in a few places on the legs.   Mr. Gooch liked those crispy bits so that was a success. 

We recommend this dish as written for those who like things on the sweet side, but if you like a more savory flavor, you may want to improvise a bit by adding some stonger flavors.

Roast Chicken With Cumin, Honey and Orange
(Source:  Mark Bittman's Blog Bitten on
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-pound chicken, giblets and excess fat removed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Use a nonstick roasting pan, or line a roasting pan with a double layer of aluminum foil.
Combine orange juice, honey, cumin, salt and pepper in bowl, and whisk until smooth.
Place chicken in pan, and spoon all but 1/4 cup of liquid over all of it.
Place basted chicken in oven, legs first, and roast for 10 minutes.
Spoon accumulated juices back over chicken, reverse pan back to front, and return to oven.
Repeat four times, basting every 10 minutes and switching pan position each time.
If chicken browns too quickly, lower heat a bit.
If juices dry up, use reserved liquid and 1 or 2 tablespoons of water or orange juice. 3.
After 50 minutes of roasting, insert an instant-read thermometer into a thigh; when it reads 155 to 165 degrees, remove chicken from oven, and baste one final time.
Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Brisket is the Bomb!!

I can say with some conviction that this photo in no way does this dish justice.  The smokey flavor, the juiciness, the easiness of preparation, none of it can be captured on film.  Can you tell Mr. Gooch and I liked this dish? 

We have had this twice since I found the recipe (two weeks ago), that is how much we liked it.  Though the second time, I made a few modifications which are found in the recipe below.  We also found that the next day, the brisket with a little cheese on a mini french roll toaster in the toaster ovden is pretty amazing.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Smokey Crockpot Brisket
(Modified from a recipe found on A Year of Slow Cooking)

2.5 lb round roast or other roast type meat
1/4 cup A1 Sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup liquid hickory smoke
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Liberally season roast with salt and pepper.
Place in smallest crockpot you can (if it is larger than necessary, you will cover the meat with aluminum foil to help keep meat from drying out)
Combine A1 Sauce, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke together in a small bowl.
Pour over meat.
Cover with aluminum foil (if necessary).
Cook on low heat for at least 8 hours.
Shred with fork when done and serve on french rolls or other crusty fresh bread.

Tip:  When storing leftovers, make sure to pour some of the juices over the meat in the container.  This will keep the meat nice and moist.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu Plan for the Week of November 8

It is another Sunday night, and that means it is another weekly menu plan.  After last week's hiatus getting ready for our housewarming, we are back at it this week. 

Sunday: Leftovers from the house warming open house
Monday: Chicken Pasta in a Garlic Wine Sauce
Tuesday: Mr. Gooch Makes Steaks on the Grill
Wednesday: Salmon Pesto Pasta
Thursday:  Forage in the Fridge (FITF)
Friday: Out of town
Saturday: Out of town

I still have some write ups from our previous new recipes still to post.  Now that I have some time, those will be coming in the next couple of weeks. 

If you are stumped on your own menu plans, make sure to visit to see what others are planning on their menus this week.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Fruity Cole Slaw - Not a Contradiction, It's a Tasty Treat

Now that we have gotten a handle on some of our home renos, we are back to trying new recipes each week. During the process of moving, unpacking boxes, spending too much time at home reno stores and little time on cooking, I had forgotten how much I liked flipping through my cookbooks, going through my Reader and surfing the internet for new (and hopefully tasty) recipes.

However, be not afraid, now that I have remembered those joys, I am back in the groove. We tried two new recipes last week, this being one, and both were great successes. So much so that they are going in the "regular rotation" notebook.

We served it with Crockpot Hickory Smoked Brisket and it was the perfect accompaniment to the smokey flavor of the meat.

The only thing we will change when we make this again is to find something (cider vinegar maybe), to give it some bite. The sweetness of the apples and the dressing were just a little much for us. But we do like the savory things.

Apple Cole Slaw
(Source: modified slightly from Delicious Meliscious - a cooking blog by Melissa)

3-4 cups chopped cabbage
1 unpeeled red apple, cored and chopped
1 unpeeled Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 finely chopped red bell pepper
1 finely chopped yellow pepper
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice, or to taste (we used a bit more than 1 tablespoon)

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, red apple, green apple, carrot, red bell pepper, and green onions.

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, brown sugar, and lemon juice.

Pour dressing over salad.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Plan for the Week of November 1

This week is a crazy busy one.  We are putting the last touches on several projects in the house to have them done before our housewarming open house on Saturday.  Eep!  Dinners this week are going to be pretty much out of the crockpot since those take much less effort since I have a feeling we are going to have several late nights.  So no new recipes scheduled for dinner this week (though I have a couple of new appetizer recipes I will be trying for the party).   We will be back trying new things next week.

Sunday:  Leftovers
Monday:  BBQ chicken in the crockpot
Tuesday:  Crockpot Hickory Smoked Brisket 
Wednesday:  Brats on the Grill
Thursday:  Forage in the Fridge
Friday:  Forage in the Fridge
Saturday:  Housewwarming - Look for the menu in a later post since we haven't finalized it yet.

Check out to see what others are eating this week. 

Happy menu planning!!


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