I can’t believe..

That it’s been almost a month since my last post…bad blogger.  I’m around but between work being nuts and the social life being in overdrive taking time for this has proven a challenge. I’m not sure where I even left you so let’s go back to 4th of July weekend.  The husband and I took a roadtrip back to my hometown of Kansas City..Missouri not Kansas.  It was a mini-family reunion complete with all but 2 of the 7 extended family siblings.  Over the course of just about a year two of the siblings have gotten married and our family has grown exponentially.  With a new 5 kids running around the house things were a little crazy.

Anytime I go home I try and bring food to share.  The biggest request is always for my creamy jalapeno dip.  Unfortunately, that’s not a recipe I share regularly so I’m not going to give that one out today.  However, I have a new dip that I have been craving.  It’s one a friend made every once in awhile and I always liked it but when I started making it myself I became…well addicted might be close to correct.  It’s called Neiman Marcus dip.  Having spent 6 years in Dallas I’m surprised it took me this long to discover this goodness.  So I’m keeping this posting on the short side but at least I’m giving you a recipe.  Now do me a favor and give this one a try.

Neiman Marcus Dip

½ C. slivered almonds
5 slices bacon, fried & crumbled
1 C. shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. green onion, chopped fine (I substitute chives)
½ C. mayo

Mix all ingredients together, chill and serve with crackers.


Ah family…

So I’ve survived weekend #2 with family in town.  The first weekend, my husband’s parents were scheduled to visit starting Friday around 1pm.  My husband and I had theater tickets the night before with friends and ate a quick bite at your local bar and grill.  The next morning, I hear grumbling from the guest room.  Apparently the husband was feeling heartburn/nausea and decided it was time to throw up.  Note to the readers, I promise not to get too graphic but for him to “want” to throw up something was very wrong.  I went to work and he started prepping to head to work himself.  My office does a faux “summer hour” program which means three fridays out of the summer they close at noon and this happened to be one of them.  I check in with him shortly after 11 to see how he’s feeling and apparently it’s gone from bad to worse.  He’s now running a 101 temp and has proceeded to have 2 more “episodes” …”popsicles..i need popsicles…”.  I head to the train for an long commute home.  Texting with the doc indicates liquids, broth and rest are on the itinerary.  I stop en route to gather supplies and come home to find my husband week and miserable in bed.

Needless to say the in-laws are two hours away so I tidy up the house and make a grocery list, it’s looking like we’re in for a long weekend.  My own diagnosis is food poisoning.  I can tell you it wasn’t pretty, he was down for the count all weekend.  Weather here in the windy city was hot and humid mixed with rain so the in-laws and I spent a lot of time on the couch.  Luckily I really love them.  His mother is blunt and well-intentioned and his father is a talker who loves scotch..I can work with that.  So we ordered in pizza and relaxed the first night.  His father helped me repair the fridge with a trip to the Home Depot.  He then proceeded to make really great chicken noodle soup to try and help his son feel better.  We spent a lot of time just the three of us and while I hate my husband didn’t feel well and that his parents didn’t get a great visit in, I feel lucky that we were able to spend time just the three of us and get to know each other better.  I’m lucky to have them in my world.

Weekend #2, the most recent, my dad and his wife/my aunt (yes) came to visit.   I promise to update that visit soon.  We had some GREAT food while they were in town.  Next big thing..well pride in chi-town and then off to KC for a family reunion.

For as much as I’ve wanted to focus on food in this blog I’ve been terribly lax in posting recipes.  To make up for that I have a stack sitting beside me that I’d like to share with you.  To start, it’s goat cheese biscuits.  Last summer my family went to eat at Table Fifty-two here in Chicago.  For those that don’t know it Table Fifty-two is owned in part by Chef Art Smith.  Art Smith is Oprah’s former personal chef.  He hails from the south and focuses on new southern cooking.  Dinner was DE-LISH and if you’re ever in town I highly recommend giving it a try.  We booked ahead for a Sunday evening dinner spot, that being the only night of the week to offer buttermilk fried chicken, which I HAD to have.

Definitely a very nice restaurant with professional service and the ambiance was casual and laid-back.  For starters, you’re given a deviled egg and a goat cheese drop biscuit.  From the moment I had them, I was hooked.  I’ve now worked my way through several deviled egg recipes and can manage a decent version, although I’m still on the hunt for that perfect recipe.  The drop biscuits were an easier project.  Thanks to Google and Oprah.com I found the recipe.  My husband, being a good southern man, grabbed his cast iron skillet and took on the challenge.  Many, many times later I love them just as much as the first time I had them.  So without further ado…

Art Smith’s Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

2 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp salt
4 tbs cold butter
4 tbs goat cheese
1 cup buttermilk
Extra butter to grease pan and top biscuits
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 425º.  Place one 10″ cast iron pan into the oven while it is preheating.  Place flour and salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Cut in the butter and goat cheese.  Make a well in the middle of the ingredients and pour in the milk.  Stir until the mix is moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of milk if needed.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place a tablespoon of butter into it.  When the butter has melted, drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter into the pan, (use a muffin scoop to drop the batter if you have to).  Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.  Bake from 14-16 minutes until browned on the top and bottom.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Serve immediately.

He lives

I don’t even know where there last month has gone.  Work has been insane to say the least.  In the last four weeks I’ve been in NYC, New Orleans, Orange County, Ft Lauderdale…and that was all just for work.  For Memorial Day the husband and I threw the dogs in the car and made a road trip to Mid-Mo.  That’s right..Ozarks baby.

Ok, I’m long over due in adding some recipes which I promise to get to but in the meantime..I have a few things about my business trips I want to share.  This last time I was in NYC on business I stayed in the Chelsea area for work.  At the Maritime hotel and then Google for business was all good.  Then I opted to stay a few extra days to spend with my sister-in-law.  I’ve been lucky enough to go to NYC several times.  I’ve done as much of the tourist route as I care to do and I was really looking forward to having a couple of days with no real agenda.  Friday I woke up in Hoboken and found my way to a local restaurant for a conference call and free wifi.  About 1 o’clock I caught the train into the city with nothing but my iPhone and my instincts to guide me.

Without a plan or a care I can honestly say that I had the very best visit to NYC that I’ve ever had.  Friday was spent wandering from Union Square up Broadway.  I browsed through a store called Fishs Eddy.  It’s mostly a dish store, and I’m an admitted dish whore.  I was in heaven.  If you haven’t been there before and you’re going to be in the area…make stop.  As I was checking out I was chatting with the cashier who asked me where I was headed next.  For lunch, I’m feeling the need for a burger I say.  As she thinks I happen to add that I wouldn’t mind a beer.  That was apparently the magic word.  A quick and insistent set of directions later I find myself a few blocks over at Pete’s Tavern.  Billed as the “Oldest continuously operating bar and restaurant in NYC” how could I go wrong.  I wind up at a sidewalk table with a beer, my book and the sun on back.  Heaven continues.

After lunch I continue my wander up Broadway and at some point cross over to Avenue of the Americas.  While waiting for my sister-in-law to get off work I stumble across Bryant Park.  None other than the location for Fashion Week, and being a die-hard Project Runway fan and knowing this is where Fashion Week takes place I have to sit myself down and relax with my book and just take it all in.  Finally I meet my sister and she has an agenda.  Grand Central Station was the first stop which was really cool to see.  Then we hop a train to the upper west side.  For those not familiar this is where “new” money goes to view the Park.  We walk a few blocks, across a gravel path and some random traffic coming off the Henry Hudson Parkway we came to a set of stairs.  Down we go and we wind up right along the river at a place called the Boat Basin Cafe.  Truly a hidden gem and a place that made me feel like an insider.  Gorgeous sunset, cocktails and bar food, you can’t really go wrong.  Check it out.

Ok, I could go on about my brunch and walking tour of Hoboken and all that but I’ve rambled long enough.  All I have to say is a big thanks to my sister for showing me a great time.  If you’ve ever been to NYC more than once I highly recommend taking a “wandering” day or two.  Don’t set an agenda just explore the neighborhoods.  It was my very best trip to NYC ever and I finally see why people might like living there :-).  I’m happy in Chi-town..but I get it now.

Ok, I wasn’t trying to catch you up on everything.  There’s a few more trips to comment on (well not Orange County or Ft Lauderdale) but more to come and recipes..i swear.

Gone too long

Hi faithful readers, all 3 of you.  I can’t believe I’ve been so lax about posting lately.  No excuses, I’ll try and be better at this.  Currently sitting on the couch with my husband watching the Betty White SNL episode.  I have to say I find it just as funny mostly sober as I did Saturday night completely bombed.  Betty White rocks.  It was a very social weekend all in all.  Friday night an impromptu dinner for 10 at the downstairs neighbors.  My husband made Texas chili (no beans) from a new recipe.  It was so good that I’m actually going to post it here to share.  Seriously you have to try this one.  Saturday night, same neighbors came up for a little supper just the four of us.  I talked my husband into pan-fried chicken with mashed potatoes, broccolini and goat cheese biscuits.  Comfort food was in order after the night before.  Needless to say the vodka was flowing that night as well.  From what I remember we had a good time.  Ok, Betty White just said, “Wonderful wizard of ass.”, twice…hilarious.

Ok, as I’ve been woefully negligent in my recipe postings here’s one for you kids.  Try it, you’ll like it.

Tyler’s Texas Chili (recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence)

3 dried ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
2 Tbs dried oregano
2 Tbs sweet paprika
2 Tbs whole coriander
1 Tbs cumin seed
1 Tbs chili powder
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1″ cubes
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 canned chipotle chile, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 (28 oz.) cans whole tomatoes, hand crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tsp sugar
2 Tbs masa harina
1 1/2 oz Mexican chocolate
Grated queso fresco, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

In a small dry skillet over low heat add the ancho peppers, oregano, paprika, coriander, cumin, and chili powder.  Cook until they begin to smell, about 2 minutes.  Put the spices into a spice mill or food processor and grind until they are powdered.  Set aside.
Heat a large heavy bottomed casserole over medium heat; add 3 Tbs olive oil and the onions.  Cook until the onions are soft and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.  Pat the beef dry and season it with the salt and pepper.  Add it to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until it has browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Add 2 Tbs of the toasted spice mix, the garlic, chipotle, jalapeno, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, and sugar.  Season with salt and stir well.  Add some hot water until the meat is just covered with liquid.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove the meat and shred it with a  fork.  Return it to the pot, stir in the masa harina and chocolate and cook for another 10 minutes, uncovered, to thicken.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve with quasi fresco, cilantro and lime for garnish.

Oy what a week

So it’s been a crazy social (read boozy) week around our house.  It’s Sunday evening and I’m on the couch trying to recover before the week starts.  I’m going to keep this short but promise to post recipes soon.  The week got off to a start with a Tuesday night “supper” downstairs” which means pasta and lots o’cocktails.  A good hangover later, Thursday night goes pretty much like Tuesday did.  Friday night rolls around and there’s an A.P.B. put out for a social engagement, needless to say we answer the call and end up down the street for pizza, movies and booze.  Saturday night it was our turn to host.  The token straight couple from around the corner came over for supper and cards.  The husband picked a menu out of my new birthday cookbook and I made pane con fromaggio (cheese bread).  Needless to say we had lots to drink and eat and cards fell by the wayside.  Saturday night dinner deserves a recipe post so I promise to do that this week.  Today, my husband pulled together a couple of lasagnas and I baked a few loaves of bread.  Apparently it’s baby time around my office and as a little gift we’re delivering dinner to the happy parents.  First dinner delivered today and their new little girl is ADORABLE.  Second dinner delivered tomorrow.  I have to say I LOVE my new digital kitchen scale and my new cookbooks that my honey got me for my birthday.  All in all a great week and a nice relaxing evening before the madness starts again.

What a night

It started innocently enough.  As I’m getting ready to leave the office my husband announces he’s invited a couple of friends/neighbors over, “The bar is open if you want to stop by.” he says.  Considering the majority of our friends live within a few blocks (one couple even lives just 4 floors below us in our building) the likelihood of being taken up on this offer is fairly high.  Did I mention it’s a Tuesday?  So anyway, I call from the car on my way home and my husband reports no one has arrived.  We chat briefly and before I hang up I hear, “Oh hi.”  and so it starts.  I walk in and am greeted by 4 excited dogs, only 2 of which are my own, and I can hear cocktails being made in the kitchen.  There’s a reason behind the impromptu cocktail offer, some very good friends are facing some business challenges.  Being self-employed they have weathered as much of this terrible economy as they can stand and are now being faced with some difficult business down-sizing decisions that will take place this week.

So I join my husband and 2 of our friends in the kitchen, bonus points there’s a cocktail ready for me.  I hear S on the phone to his husband saying something about coming to our house because we’re ordering dinner, looks like dropping by for a drink just got a little bigger.  We debate what to order and quickly settle on assembling our own supper, “supper” being not as fancy as “dinner”.  Chicken breasts get pulled out to thaw and T is charged with making a salad.  We migrate to the living room with hummus, pita chips and cocktails.  I sneak off to set the table as husband #2 from downstairs arrives.  One thing leads to another and now I’m shaking martinis.  Did I mention it’s Tuesday?  Husband #3 arrives fresh from the airport just as my husband starts pulling supper together.  Chicken milanese, spaghetti with tomato sauce and a salad provided by T.  I’ll just say, my husband knows his way around a cast iron skillet.  Supper was YUM good, as were the 3 bottles of wine.  An impromptu supper with good friends and lots of booze, who could ask for anything more?  Well I could have asked for a day off, but instead dragged my butt out of bed this morning, dropped the dogs at daycare and drove thru Mickey D’s for a bacon, egg & cheese biscuit.