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Archive for the ‘Meat’ Category

My reason for coming home on the weekends= free beer.

JUST KIDDING! But coming home to a sinfully delicious and hoppy Middle Ages Wailing Wench beer adds incentive. My real reason for coming home a second weekend in a row is to celebrate my best friend’s birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!

My mom will be another year wiser this Sunday, but because my brother and I have work/school on Monday morning we will be celebrating by going out to dinner on Saturday evening. We are going to a French restaurant that she picked out and I am BEYOND excited! I’ve never been to a French restaurant and I cannot wait to engage in a new cultural experience (complete with a nice Bordeaux wine of course 🙂 ).

I drove directly home after work today and sipped on a much appreciated beer with my dad as my mom prepared dinner. For dinner we had grilled steak with oven roasted potato wedges and an iceberg wedge salad with goat cheese and tomatoes in a red wine vinaigrette. Dinner was also served with a touch more beer. IT’S SO GOOD, I SWEAR!

I’m not a huge steak person, however; from time to time I CRAVE it and nothing else will do. I haven’t had red meat in a while and lately my meals have been fairly vegetarian, so I was long over due. I topped my steak with a bit of A1 Steak Sauce and had an abundance of ketchup on the side for my potato wedges. Home cookin’ at its finest! Thanks mom!

After dinner I proceeded to clean the kitchen. Fun Fact: I’m a freak about cleaning the kitchen. It doesn’t even have to be my own. I have been known to  obsessively do the dishes at dinner parties.

When I finished, I desperately searched the freezer for my favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream but there was none to be found.  I debated baking brownies but it was nearly 9pm. What is a girl with a sweet-tooth to do? IMPROVISE. I mixed ~1/3 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt with 1 heaping tsp of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder and then added a mound of chopped strawberries and cinnamon to the bowl. Not quite ice cream but still delicious!

I’ve been awake since 5 AM and I’m exhausted. I think a ritual Farmer’s Market Saturday trip is in store for tomorrow (weather permitting), so hopefully I’ll be meeting you at the market!

Happy Weekend!

Nora


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Yesterday was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the upper 70’s and there was a consistent mild breeze. My parents and I thoroughly enjoyed the weather along with some amazing food.

After a little bit of this…Two pieces of this Calamata Focaccia and Wake Robbin Cheese.We were ready to sit down for dinner: grilled rosemary pork tenderloin, mixed green salad with a blend of cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and cucumber and steamed broccoli paired with  Diseno 2007 Malbec.Along with fresh herbs pressed on the pork, my dad also puts fresh rosemary right on the charcoal so that it infuses into the meat…delicious!

We were pretty full after dinner and decided to fill our glasses with a splash more of the Malbec and go for a walk around the backyard.After our “garden tour”, we each had a small piece of the brownies I made the previous evening and called it a night.

This morning we woke up at 7am to attend church and came home for our Sunday morning ritual: breakfast, biscotti, cappuccinos and the newspaper. My dad made an omelet for my mom and himself but the strawberries in our refrigerator were calling my name. I compiled a bowl of Plain Chobani Greek Yogurt, sliced banana, strawberries, cinnamon and had half of a chocolate-macadamia biscotti on the side (the other half was used for dunking into my cappuccino…aka the proper way to enjoy biscotti!) This biscotti was so rich! Initially I thought it was chocolate-almond but it ended up being packed full of macadamia nuts! It had a hint of orange zest in it, which made for a nice contrast to the espresso.

With a happy belly I’m off for a day that includes a nice country run, reading and a family BBQ for my cousin’s birthday.

Have a Relaxing Sunday,

Nora

Do you have special weekend traditions?

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My roommate and I have two friends who LOVE to cook. We have made dinner for each other twice before, and although we  discussed a third extravaganza months ago, we were not schedule a get together until last night. When I asked them what they were cooking, they told me it was, “Swiss and Italian”, but would not reveal the details of the meal beyond that. One of our friends is from Switzerland and grew up watching his mom cook authentic dishes. The first time he and his friend made dinner for us he made Spaetzle and Chocolate Mousse (using Lindt Chocolate of course!). It was absolutely to die for. I love experiencing other cultures through food.

Our friends arrived around 7pm, and established themselves in our kitchen. Yes, we had two boys cooking us a fantastic meal. Aren’t we lucky? We started off with one of my contributions, a Middle Ages ImPaled Ale (IPA), while they cooked and we watched. I loved watching them cook. They are so diligent and precise. This beer is also amazing. It is so flavorful and mildly bitter. I really like Middle Ages Wailing Wench, however; my roommate isn’t particularly fond of extremely hoppy beers. I wanted her to give this one a try, and guess what, SHE LIKED IT!

So what do you get when Switzerland meets Italy? Pasta Carbonara and Orange Cream. The pasta was cooked according to directions, and drained reserving about a cup of pasta water. The sauce was a combination of Asaigo Cheese, Nutmeg, Cracked Black Pepper and Pasta Water. After the cheese mix was added, he added 3 raw eggs and bacon with sautĂ©ed onions. Cheese and bacon…what could be bad? Dinner was served with a slice of  Twisted Root (Dark German Bread) and a simple side salad. Our Swiss friend even made the dressing from scratch using olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. He states, “This is the only way to make it.” I also contributed a wine that I have been “saving for a rainy day”, a 2007 Hermann J. Wiemer Merlot. I fell in love with this wine last summer when I visited the Wiemer Vineyard. The Finger Lakes Region Rieslings are near and dear to my heart, but have never found a red wine as luscious as this Merlot from the area. It is a wine that makes you feel good with each sip; perfect for sharing with good company.

Dinner and conversation lasted for nearly two hours. I couldn’t believe how quickly time went, we were having so much fun. I nominated myself to do a quick kitchen clean up while the boys served dessert: Orange Cream. This was essentially whipped heavy cream with an orange sauce (orange juice, lemon, corn starch on the stove) folded in. It was so light and delicious. Our friend told us that he thought it would be a perfect dessert after our pasta/bacon/cheese dinner. It was something that his mother would make when he was a child in Switzerland. This is what I like to call food from the heart! Every dish has a story behind it, and I was happy we were able to share this with him.

We continued catching up late into the night and I didn’t get to bed until 1:30am. Good Food+Good Company= Lasting Memories. I’m probably going to be exhausted tomorrow, but I live for these moments!

Stuffed,

Nora

What is your favorite meal to prepare for company? (My roommate and I have to make them dinner next time so I need advice!! I’m thinking Mediterranean style, since this is one of my favorites!)

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Whew! What a day. I’m not even entirely sure how I still have an ounce of energy left, but with that ounce I must blog.

I arrived home around 7pm to the wonderful smell of our charcoal grill and dinner was underway. My dad prepared some POM cosmopolitans, and we chatted away outside while he cooked the pork tenderloin. My mom was hard at work in the kitchen assembling steamed asparagus and a mixed green salad: mixed greens, mandarin oranges, strawberries, sliced almonds, blue cheese and cherry-raspberry vinaigrette. I love the family aspect of making dinner. It is so much fun when everyone shares in its preparation, relaxing and enjoyable. My dad also paired our dinner with a Diseno Malbec.

Grilling  is one of my favorite things to do in the summer time. I think EVERYHING tastes better on the grill, especially on charcoal because it enhances the meat’s flavor. The pork was perfectly cooked with a slightly pink center.  Good work dad! The wine choice went really well with the meat. Diseno is dryer than most Malbecs I’ve had but has a nice smokey flavor with cherry undertones. My mom’s side dishes were so fresh and clean. I love the combination of fruit and blue cheese on salads.

Dessert was my contribution to the meal. I brought home a slice of Mixed-Berry Open Faced Tart from the bakery. It was so nice to share something from work with my parents! It was crisp and delicious!

After dessert I had the urge to plan for breakfast tomorrow morning. My mom is making cupcakes to take to lunch with our extended family, so I decided to get a jump on my cooking  around 9pm so that I wouldn’t be in her way in the morning. I couldn’t decide between biscotti and carrot cake muffins, so I made both. The biscotti were the Holiday Biscotti that I made around Christmas time and contain pistachios, dried cranberries and dried apricots. My family likes biscotti and cappuccino on Sunday after breakfast, and loved these the last time I made them so I thought it would be a nice addition. Easter reminds me of carrot cake and it is essential that I make some form of it. I decided on carrot cake muffins. I somewhat made the recipe up, so hopefully they will taste okay!My second wind just ended, and I am beat! Time for bed!

Happy Easter,

Nora

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Today is my Papa’s (what we call my grandfather) birthday!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA!! Since his birthday is less than a week after my brother’s and mine, we tend to do a big family get together at some point in March. Tonight my cousins, aunts and uncles all came over to help us celebrate!

I swear, I never make a big deal out of my birthday. Half the time, I end up organizing a small get together and that is the extent of my celebration. I feel like I have been blogging about my birthday almost every day for the past week….oh wait I have. Today, I promise you will be the last post. DON’T FORGET YOU HAVE UNTIL 10PM, MONDAY MARCH 8 TO ENTER MY CHOBANI GIVEAWAY!

My dad’s brother and his wife came over with my papa around 4:30 for appetizers and cocktails. They brought Shrimp Cocktail, Fruit Salad, Bruschetta and Blue Corn Chips and Salsa. I have a minor obsession with blue corn chips so I had a few of those, and shrimp. According to my aunt, I had to try the Baguette with the Bruschetta and Asiago Cheese dip. I was NOT impressed. The bread was soft, mushy white bread, the “Asiago” tasted like ranch dressing and the bruschetta tasted like marinara sauce. And of course, I had some melon, strawberries and grapes to balance my savory. With the appetizers we had a clean and crisp Hermann J. Wiemer 2007 Chardonnay! I love wines from the Finger Lake Region, especially from the Wiemer Vineyard.

Appetizers

My mom planned a huge feast of steak marinated in red wine (two day’s I think, she is patient!), cognac sautĂ©ed mushrooms, garlic roasted potatoes, roasted carrots with dill and steamed asparagus. I usually have a hand in our dinner menu but I come from a family of picky eaters and mom ALWAYS knows best. The wine selection with dinner was Alamos 2007 Malbec.

My Plate..I really need to take pictures BEFORE I start eating

For dessert we had cake!! And lots of it, 3 to be exact. My “traditional/conventional” grandfather had a boxed Duncan Hines German Chocolate Cake–frosting on the side of course, my “meat-and-potatoes-nothing-fancy” brother had a chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream frosting, and my “dessert loving-food-adventurist” self had a Marble Cake with a Whipped Cream and Strawberry Filling and Whipped Cream Icing. I would have gone with a chocolate cake but as I said we have a family of picky eaters, and three all chocolate cakes would have been a no-no. I have had this cake for my birthday almost every single year, and I would be a tease if I didn’t show you a picture of it:

Papa's German Chocolate Cake (minus frosting)

Andrew's (my twin) Cake with trick candels...thanks mom

My Cake... blew all of candles out in one shot!

The inside...my piece came from this shot!

My Ginormous Slice

Growing up I demanded the rose, and not much has changed. Luckily, in order to have the rose, you also get a GIGANTIC slice. But hey, it’s still my birthday, so you better believe I ate every last bite…with a few cups of decaf coffee. I always have to have black coffee with my desserts; I love the contrast of bitter and sweet. Once again I am overly full, but time with my family and good food is all worthwhile. Tomorrow is my last day at home, then the family and I are headed to NYC for some BIG EAST BASKETBALL!! GO SYRACUSE! This also means lots of Big City Bites, so keep checking back for some good eats!

To Birthday Weeks,

Nora

It seems to me that cake and birthdays go hand in hand. Would you rather have a traditional birthday cake, or another dessert to share with guests? What would it be?

**As previously stated, I am a bit “caked” out at this point, which prompted this question. Cakes are easy to serve for a crowd, not something you have every day, and delicious, but cake isn’t my favorite dessert in the world. Hmmm…what would I choose? Perhaps a small dense sliver of a decadent chocolate tart with a raspberry reduction, fresh berries and a LARGE scoop of mint ice cream. That sounds rich, and refreshing to me—and WAY too much thought was put into that decision.**

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Taking some inspiration from Julie and Julia and the direction of Ina Garten, I made Boeuf Bourguignon aka beef stew with red wine. It is a culinary endeavor that I had been DYING to try ever since I saw the movie, and my trusty Ina Garten happened to have a recipe for it in Barefoot in Paris (still hording from my mom). It was a tedious step by step process that then required an hour and a half in the oven, but it was well worth the wait. I found that cooking the vegetables in fat rendered from the beef and bacon made the dish rich and flavorful. This dish gets a lot of it’s flavor from the sweetness of the carrots and onions. I hardly had to season it, because it was already so rich in flavor from the meet, vegetables and, of course, the wine. A hearty meal for a cold winter Sunday.

Until Next Time,

Nora

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Everyone has a particular food that triggers memories of a certain time or place in their life. Growing up every Halloween my mom would make a slow cooker chili. The house smelled fantastic! A culmination of chili powder, cumin, onions, peppers, tomatoes, beef and beans…OH MY! It was always cold and dark on those nights and an overflowing bowl of chili topped with melted cheddar cheese and a glass of apple cider was the perfect start to prepare my brother and me for the bitter air. This dish sums up October for me. It gives warmth, love and memories that can never be replaced. Now that I am living on my own, I requested this recipe from my mom. I finally made it one of the first days that it fell below 40 degrees this season. The aromas were the same and made me feel safe and secure. In hopes that it might provide some comfort to you this fall, I want to share the recipe with you:

Mary’s Chili Recipe

1-1 1/2 lbs. ground beef ( I use 95% Lean)
1-2 onions (Diced)
1 green pepper (Chopped)
1 TBS cumin
2 TBS chili power
1/2 tsp. cayenne powder (season to taste)
1 TBS hot sauce (Frank’s or Tabasco)
1 32 oz. can chopped tomatoes with liquid
1 jar of salsa
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can of great northern (white cannelloni) beans
1 15 oz. can of butter beans (lima beans)
1 large can of light red kidney beans (32oz?)
1 large can of dark red kidney beans
1 cup of beer or wine
Olive oil
Crock pot
Shredded Monterrey Jack or Cheddar Cheese or Taco Seasoned Cheese

Add small amount of oil oil to grease a frying pan add beef, cumin, cayenne and chili power. Brown beef. Add onions and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until soft. Drain any grease from pan. Place in the bottom of a crock pot.

Drain beans in a colander to remove liquid. Run water over beans. Drain. Add to crock pot.

Add tomatoes with liquid to crock pot. Add beer or wine. Add hot sauce. Season to taste.

Cook on low 6-8 hours or on medium 2-4 hours.

Before serving check seasonings, you could add more hot sauce or beer/wine if more liquid is needed. Chili is a recipe that can be altered to the cook’s preferences for mild or hot seasonings, Cumin is key. You could increase the amount for a more savory flavoring.

Ladle into bowls, top with shredded cheese. Serve with green and red hot sauce.
Enjoy!~

–Straight from my mom’s email!

Love The Power of Food,

Nora

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