Monday, June 6, 2016

Eating Omaha...Taxi's Redux

Saturday we had no peeps and nothing to do so took ourselves out for a belated anniversary dinner. I was busy searching for a new plant so we hit up Mulhall's Nursery before hand to no avail and resisted temptations a plenty and left empty handed. On to dinner then.

Not very busy for a Saturday night, mostly retired couples and few at that. We settled in with the house wine and appetizers. Shrimp Havarti for me and Brenda had the Cabbage Blue cheese soup. The Shrimps were perfect although pricey at $12 and Brenda's soup, a usual favorite was heavy with caraway making it not as palatable as in the past.

For the entree's Brenda went with the menu item Whiskey Steak while I broke my rule and had the special, in this case a 8 ounce Fillet. The entrees arrived promptly and were cooked to perfection but Brenda complained about the coolness of her food, mine came out quite hot.

Service was prompt and courteous and with the exception of a little over seasoning and temperature of the food, it was all good. Mostly we noted the quiet atmosphere and the age of the patrons. Might have been the time of day as we were finished by 7 p.m. Also it's a pretty expensive place to eat. I know the last time we were at Taxi's with the Fangman's, the ladies were very disappointed in their entree's of scallops (which was no longer on the menu) and the very skimpy portion for the price. I had complained to the owner overall about the service and portions in which he sent us gift cards for a future visit. Lori left their card with us last time they were in town so we used both cards and it still cost me $45 with the tip.

Overall a good meal, a little pricey, pleasant service, good wine list. My Cabernet was especially smooth and spicy (LaTerre). 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pinteresting Weekend with Friends...

Lazy weekend with overnight company called for some recipe surfing to find quick and tasty items to serve.  All the recipes and pics are from Pinterest. I take no credit.

Breakfast with pals over the weekend could not have been easier with this delicious ring made with Crescent rolls, scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon. Very tasty and the leftovers heated in a jiffy in the microwave.

BEAUTIFUL BACON, EGG, & CHEESE WREATH

After a disappointing dinner out Saturday evening, we came back to the hacienda for dessert and this found recipe on Pinterest did not disappoint at all. Super easy and very tasty. I made a few additions with a layer of Lemon Curd from Trader Joe's to the bottom half and I cut the sugar in the filling in half and used a lemon cake mix.  Yum. 


Olive Garden Lemon Cream Cake Copycat
Makes one 10" round cake


  • Cake:
  • 1 white cake mix,prepared ( I used Lemon Cake Mix)
  • Filling:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powered sugar (I used 1 cup)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • zest of lemon 
  • 1/2 jar Lemon Curd
  • Crumb Topping:
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp. butter


1. Prepare cake as directed in a 10" round cake pan or a 10" round spring form pan.

2. Blend cream cheese, powered sugar, and lemon juice together. In a medium bowl, whip heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold into cream cheese mixture and blend by hand. Chill until ready to add to the cake.

3. Mix flour and powered sugar in small bowl. Crumble butter in and dribble in vanilla extract. The crumbles should be no larger than pea size. If you have trouble crumbling mixture, chill for a few minutes. Chill until needed.

4. After cake is cooled, cut in half. Spread cream cheese mixture, saving 1/2 cup, on bottom half and carefully place top layer back. Spread rest of cream cheese mixture on the sides of cake. Press crumb topping into sides gently. (We only added it to the top)

5. Chill for 3 hours. Cut into 12 slices.







Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lately...

We have been off our feed a little bit lately so I haven't been cooking much and we eat a lot of leftovers when I do cook so I certainly don't cook as often.

Brenda had surgery to remove her gall bladder so she has not felt like eating much and some things disagree with her so we are treading carefully.

Still though we are keeping an eye out for recipes and great food, just less of it. The neighbors Jerry and Becki, brought over a light lemon pie after Brenda's surgery and that was a tasty treat. So light and refreshing. I don't eat  a lot of sweets though.

A few weeks ago we were in Vegas for the week as I attended a hospital business meeting. We had a great taste of Vegas and don't feel the need to head back anytime soon honestly. We ate at mostly local (cheap) places and avoided the big FoodTV  star places and the prices. Did a lot of walking till my knees complained bitterly and had to break the fast early as the meeting occurred during Holy Week, something I would consider hard and long before doing again as it dampened the whole experience for us this year.

Lately our life has been consumed with planting, worrying over rabbit infestation of my plantings and planting again. I had a Eureka! moment last night whilst searching for critter control devices. I am looking for the right materials to build the ultimate plant protectors to keep the rabbit at bay and still allow us to enjoy our hosta collection.

We did find a new Indian restaurant Kurry Xpress,  close to the house and went there Friday. The food was good but spicy and we decided this might be a better carry out place rather than sit down. The food was delicious although Brenda did remark she likes my Na'an a little better. Kurry Xpress is directly next to my favorite Indian grocer in town, Patel's so 2 birds with one stone for sure.

On the bright side of life, the Fangman's are coming to Omaha for a visit and I will have someone to cook for. Finally.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Wings and things

You know I love my wings and they are the thing I missed the most from the recent Lenten pilgrimage. Ah....wings. Crispy, flavorful and not fried. Roasted, not fired. I like to think it makes them 'healthy'. Ok so its a fantasy but how I love em.

I have been perfecting the cooking technique so I don't miss the oil drenched version by roasting them at 400 degrees, on non stick foil for about 20-30 minutes, pour off the grease then roll them over for another 10 or so. I dip them in homemade sauce and place back in the hot oven for about 10 minutes till the mahogany crust develops and they get a little char. Ben likes them dry, not juicy but I like them somewhere in between. I always mix the same combination ingredients in the sauce:

A knob of butter
a squirt of ketchup
a dollop of honey
a good swig of hot sauce (Valentina)
a dusting of Chipotle powder
garlic, about 3 cloves mashed
a good dose of Fish Sauce
Salt and adjust at will

Add anything in addition, Siracha? Soy Sauce? there are no rules here but be balanced and control the heat for your audience. You'll notice, I never cut them apart, just remove the tips. That way I get both my favorite part and the drummie.Makes for great eats.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Post Paschal Feasting

After the end of services early Sunday Morning, we stayed for dinner at the church and some turkey and ham. Not exactly the traditional post Greek fest but it was welcomed after the long fast.

On Sunday we had Mackenzie and friends over as well as Ben who came into town. I made marinated Lamb kabobs, lamb burgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, and Greek style chicken as well as a bunch of sides. Funny, I have no photos of food at all but it was delicious and everyone seemed to have their fill.

The decorated Tomb (kouvouklion) that houses the Epithaphio (burial icon of Christ)

The service had a new twist this year and Father had several languages printed in the service book but the service quickly lost momentum as we stumbled over the foreign tongues and didn't have that swelling joy that we have experienced in the past. A little anti climatic. 

We had already experienced an unusual Lent being gone almost all of Holy week in Las Vegas and breaking the fast early. It really seemed to make a difference to us and we were sorry it had to be this way this year. Perhaps it was just that felt off this year but this isn't our last Lent.

The whole clan minus Nicholas. We miss him a lot but he is almost done with his schooling and will rejoin the festivities we hope. Mackenzie asked her work buddies to come help us celebrate and they have some really adorable little ones to liven up the party.




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Another Easter Sunday Dinner for those of us still in Lent

I am surprised how lonely it felt this year with Pascha being so far off the American calendar. Normally when my Dad was alive we would celebrate the day with a huge crab and shrimp feast since we were still in the Great Fast. This year, Mackenzie suggested we do the same though it was just the three of us. We had a great dinner last night and we love getting together with Mackenzie any chance we get but without the boys here and for whatever reason I really just miss my Dad this time of year.

It was weird seeing all the stores closed and not business as usual as one might expect.It was nice to see commerce put on hold and not subverted as Christmas seems to have fallen prey to crass commercialism.

A few years back we had a Big Fat Pascha Celebration at the house and invited friends and neighbors but it was short lived as we came to realize that no one else but other Orthodox share in the joy of the celebration and it made no sense to them why we put on such a meat fest. We spent the last 50 days or so abstaining from foods but no one else had so they really didn't get it. Then the fact we were celebrating the Resurrection when they had all done so weeks earlier kind of deflated the whole idea.

So some of the things I learned from our journey this year so far:

We (Brenda and I) are minor participants this year due to circumstances that will take us out of town during Holy Week so we feel a bit disconnected. We have not been able to attend a Pre Sanctified service this year. I have not served the altar for a year now so it feels a bit out of whack.

The AHEPA organization conducted their Fish Fry during the regular season of Lent so we are left out for the rest of our Fast.

Discussions with several others of different faiths revealed that we don't share the same zeal and joy of the Passion. In our faith it is really a big deal but others, not so much, at least I didn't feel any real excitement.  Most folks I spoke with are completely oblivious to the Liturgical cycle that leads to the feast. I saw mega church celebrations with rock concerts and entertainment at major venues and re enactments of the Passion in modern times on TV. None of it rang particularly true for me.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Making Hummus

Making good on my promise,  I made some hummus this week. My goal was to make it as smooth and creamy as possible and not mess with the flavors too much, trying to keep it pure.

I researched a bunch of recipes and investigated a few techniques and decided I would have to make my own tahini paste as well.  Firstly because tahini is crazy expensive and I just don't need a quart of it.

So the tahini came first

About 1/2 cup of sesame seeds, pan toasted
plain oil

I placed the toasted seeds in the food processor and whirled them to a stiff paste before adding enough oil to make it pour-able. Once pour-able I pressed it through a strainer just to take out some of the skins. Tahini done. So easy.

Now the hummus was a little harder and took a bit longer. I had already soaked a pound of dry chickpeas overnight, rubbed them between my hands to get most of the skins off so they stayed out of my final product.

When I got home form work, I started cooking the chickpeas till tender (about 40 minutes). I reserved 1/2 of them in a freezer bag for a layer batch.

The rest when into the processor for a spin with some of the cooking liquid to thin it out a bit. All in all about 1 cup or more of the liquid. 

I added 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 peeled cloves of garlic, a little salt and the juice of 2 lemons with 1/2 the tahini paste I made. Now I really let the food processor go for a few minutes adding more liquid as needed till it was the consistency I wanted. It was smooth but not silky. I am not sure I have enough power in these tools to make silky happen. After I scooped into a bowl I got out my trusty hand blender and that took it up a level. Not perfect but darn good.  I might invest in a chinois to press it through.

Hummus

juice 2 lemons
1 pound chickpeas, soaked overnight, cooked till tender, most skins removed
2 cloves of garlic peeled
salt
1/4 cup tahini paste
Olive oil
Reserved cooking liquid







Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Simple fresh kick lately

Yesterday I played a little hookie and left work to enjoy a nice lunch with my lovely bride at El Basha. The hummus was enough to slap your mama so now I am obsessed with recreating this puree of the gods the way they make it, extra creamy and smooth.

  But tonight, as I soak and skin my chick peas, I made Lime Cilantro Shrimp Salad. So fresh and totally delicious.


 1 pound cooled cooked shrimp chopped in 3 pieces
  2 ripe avocados, cubed
  2 hard boiled eggs sliced
 2 fresh limes sqeezed
 2 cloves minced garlic
 pinch of sugar
 salt and pepper
Olive oil about 1/4 cup
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Croutons

  I served this over a bed of lettuce.











Thursday, March 3, 2016

Relish Magazine recipe

In yesterday's paper a recipe caught my eye after a discussion this morning about a easy dinner tonight. We will be eating richly tomorrow so we wanted to take it a little easy tonight. I found this recipe and it looks good. I will make it and let you know how it goes. Since I just recently bought a jar of pesto....

Skillet Pesto Chicken

1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds bite size boneless chicken
3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 c pesto
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 c heavy cream
salt and pepper
3 tbsp Parmesan

Combine flour and cayenne in a zip bag and add the chicken pieces, shake to coat.

Heat oil over medium and add chicken, turning occasionally till browned. Remove and keep warm.

Add butter to pan  then add mushrooms and cook till golden, return chicken and add pesto, broth and cream. stir to combine and allow to thicken for a few minutes over medium heat.

Salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle Parmesan over all. Serve over rice or noodles or side salad. 





Monday, February 29, 2016

Weekend in DesMoines

We were supposed to discuss our upcoming vacation to Maine but Matt's job denied his vacation so it looks like just you and me darling.

We went to DesMoines on Friday at the Fangman's request to spend a little extra time (I know, who knew? I thought I was a pain in the a$$ but they like me, they really like me!)  We got there mid Friday evening to cocktails and snacks and Matt's sister and brother in law were there along with the 3 boys. So nice to see the McEntees and all the fellas.

The Fangman's have a way of making us feel like family literally and we were greeted with this:

The weekend was relaxed with a trip to West End Architectural Salvage in downtown DesMoines.  we spent the morning browsing 4 floors of junk and treasures then off to a late lunch.  Lori cooked a nice meal and invited the McEntees to join us. Lots of laughter and way too much information then up for a lovely Sunday breakfast and back to Omaha.

I'm gonna miss them in Maine....


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