Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Something old...something new

This year we pretty much did the same old delicious idea but with some new faces in the crowd. At work we have several traveling staff that sadly are on call over the holidays as part of their service. I simply cannot let folks eat alone while we have plenty so I extended an invitation and they came. So excited!
Seating for 12-15

Spatchcocked bird with a dry brine and baking powder rub down. One of 2 birds for about 30 pounds of turkey.

Plenty of room and food.   
We enjoyed a full house, dinner in the kitchen so we could all sit together, and a super crispy bird that I smeared with baking powder before roasting. The rest of the meal was standard fare but the company mix of family and friends was so nice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Eating Omaha....Tavern 180

Yes! Such a cool place, albeit a little pricey but you can pick and choose a reasonable dinner from all the fine selections.

The menus took a bit of getting used to as they came on tablets but they had nice photos of all the offerings which just made it harder to choose. For starters Old Fashion's Brenda ordered a Vanilla and I had a plain. The only flaw in the evening is they were out of bitters.

Next up was an array of great looking appetizers but we opted for soup or salad. The Seafood Bisque came topped with a puff pastry crust high on the bowl that added buttery goodness to the creamy filling soup underneath. The Bisque was spot on. I have a Caesar Salad that was great. Brenda ordered a house salad with her soup. I have a Cajun Seafood Pasta. Bob and Kim ordered the Parmesan Chicken and Shrimp and Crab Stack Salad respectively. All of it was great and we ran into 2 sets of friends while there. The star of the show was a basket of  tiny rolls laced with Asiago cheese that I had to mind my manners to keep them all for myself.

Service was prompt and courteous and attentive. And patient,  as we struggled a bit with the menus.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Welcome Home Food

No tortellini added yet as they will suck up the broth. I will add the tortellini just before I jar it up for the gift bag.

Brenda has been planning a nice welcome home for the ladies ever since they left for Europe. Apparently nothing says 'Welcome home' like a batch of dear old dad's Chicken and Tortellini soup, according to Mackenzie.

Mackenzie and her bud, Amanda have been in Europe nearly 3 weeks traveling to Ireland, the UK, Amersterdam and finally Paris where the temps have been dipping in the 30's. She texted her desire for some warm comfort on her arrival in the form of this Chicken Soup. I can hardly ever say no to this little girl.

The hard part was done as I had a large tub of frozen broth I made from dozens of wing tips and chicken trimmings. I used a Tyler Florence recipe several times the last few years that uses ground chicken formed into meatballs with tortellini instead of noodles and finally garnished with a bit of Parmesan cheese. The spice palate is decidedly Italian with the meatballs seasoned with an array of Italian herbs.

The world travelers will be greeted with some fresh groceries, flowers and a mason jar full of homestyle comfort and some fresh homemade bread upon arrival. So nice to have these two back safe and sound after a great adventure. What a great Mom to be prepared for them after their long journey.

The recipe is under the soup tab titled 'Not your Mamas Chicken Soup' Enjoy.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Eating Omaha...Smitty's Garage

After services on Saturday, we wanted to try this new hamburger joint. Not sure what to expect, it was a cross between fast food and sports bar. Serving lots of liquor and a ton of burgers. The burgers were tasty and the menu extensive. Self service at the front, they give you a number and deliver to your table. Mostly booths and high tops, we sat a a high top as it was quite busy being a Husker weekend and there was nothing on the floor.

You can pick your patty from beef, bison or turkey (they have vegan also) and then a pre set combo of ingredients. I opted for the Spicy Siracha Blue burger and picked a few of the grilled jalapeno's off as it was a bit much for that spice late in the evening. I would not be able to lay down to sleep.  It was grilled perfectly and the combo was savory, spicy and satisfying. John had the Bison burger and was happy as were all of the members of our party. The sides were fries and they had sweet potato fries as well. Not a huge fry guy personally, these were OK. Skin on but not as crisp as I like.

Brenda bought the ladies a Moscow Mule, a first time treat for Dora and Debbie. Apparently a big hit, Brenda said the Ginger beer used was especially tasty. We sat and talked, watched the humiliating defeat of the Husker's, we left at halftime and headed for home. Great night, great burger.

Eating Omaha....Stroud's

It was a crazy eating out weekend for the Denich's starting with Stroud's, the home of pan fried chicken. A chain from KC that features fried chicken in a kind of family style atmosphere.

The atmosphere was great and we got there just in time as the crowd rolled in about 6. Simply a new spot in Omaha, it took over a former restaurant by Village Point.

The menu was a little confusing but basically, you choose your entree, various chicken piece combinations and a few sides which are brought out family style. I chose the 3 breast meal and took a full 2 breasts home. Brenda had the salad with a huge portion of chicken on it which she took quite a bit home. Jeff and Michale had other combinations and it was a really good. As good as Millard Roadhouse but more expensive.  I would give a two thumbs up but probably hit the Roadhouse for this type of meal.  The finishing salvo was an order of cinnamon rolls that come with each meal. we had them bring them to us last and bagged them for home as we were just too full. They were great too but no quite what we expected. The service was fantastic and personable.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dinner on Trader Joe's tonight

Every once in a while...who wants to cook? Right? After getting caught having a hard nap when Brenda got home from work. The kind of nap where its tough to wake and you're groggy and fuzzy? Just me? Whatever.

We picked up these tasty little pot stickers our last trip to Joe's and I wasn't in the mood. A very generous portion comes in this small bag and super easy to prepare but not a decent sauce in the house.

From what I have on hand I could surely pull something together. No green onions or savory tidbits so lets go sweet. Apricot preserves? Now we're talking. A bit of soy sauce, a splash of rice vinegar and a dab of Sambal Oebek. A bit of spice cabinet alchemy and a last dash of sesame oil and voila! A sweet and sour coating for our crisp-tender pillows of goodness and dinner is served!

For the sauce impaired:

In a small sauce pan add
1/2 cup Apricot preserves (or peach or whatever)
3 T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 T Sambal Oebek, garlic and pepper paste
1/2 cup water w 1 T cornstarch
1 t garlic powder
Salt to taste
1 t sesame oil
Let boil till thick, correct the seasoning and serve. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Eating Omaha...Report Inn

Another Saturday night and fortunately the Birge's were up for Vespers and dinner. We headed to a new (old) spot in Belair Plaza called the Report Inn. Some of my coworkers had checked it out for Sunday brunch and gave it a thumbs up but we needed a little dinner after church.
What a great little spot with fantastic food and a $18 Bloody Mary that's a meal in itself. Start with a great tasting 32oz Bloody Mary and garnish with a cheeseburger, a few wings, fried pickle, onion rings, bacon and assorted veggies. Yum!
I had the steak sandwich with tender chunks of beef on a soft roll and side of fries. Debbie and John had a patty melt and Swiss cheeseburger respectively. A few beers, an imposing Bloody Mary, delightful company and a cozy establishment with friendly service. This is a great go-to spot!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Secrets Maroma Beach Resort, Mexico

So we veered off course this year and let ourselves be talked into a new place to go for our annual birthday pilgrimage.

We generally head to Cancun this time of year for a little R&R but this year we had trouble booking our usual spot so let our tourist agent talk us into a new spot. Not a new resort, just a new spot. I was never sure why we were so tied to Playa Mujeres but now I have the answers. 

The resort was quite nice and the beach was better than what we are used to. We did not do a swim out room and housed ourselves on the third floor with an 'Ocean View'  which of course consisted of a sliver of blue water over a lot of resort.  All the rooms are pretty much situated to get such a  view.

After checking in we got the hard sell for more vacation time and possible upgrades payable over a lifetime of visits to Secrets Resorts. Annoying.

We settled in and looked around. They lacked the large meeting space with a live band and bar. That made the evenings very long of just searching for anything to do before the shows began and they didn't start till close to 9:45 pm.  There was usually a duo singing in the lobby with little to no people there.

Our first night we ate at the buffet but it was only fair to be honest. There isn't quite the variety of restaurants to choose from that we are used to.  Most of the days were spent lounging at the pools which were very nice but not a lot of activity. We are kind of used to something going on. A "name that tune" contest, or a bunch of drunken groomsmen at the bar...something, anything.  Very quiet.

The food was just OK. I mean it's usually just Ok with the rare, I gotta go back for that, exception. The Blackened Sea Bass was actually barely brown Mahi. The shrimp were a little tough. Steaks were good.  A lot more up selling. Wine, dining experience, everything. I missed the room snacks we usually get at the other place and the double bed sized lanai. Here that was only available to the first class guests. It was all just a little off. Nice people, nice staff.  Clean place...just a little off.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Girl Loves Her Meatloaf...

Finally back from the annual Mexican migration, I had to make the Birthday Girl her favorite dinner...meatloaf. For most of our 35 years together, I never made meatloaf but a few years back I surprised her and have been making it the last few years. Mashed turnips and green beans for my carb conscious wife are also the order of the day.

This year, as always, I used a pound of ground pork with a few pounds of ground beef. Sauteed onions and garlic with Italian bread crumbs, herbs and then liberally stuffed with cheese before baking and then slathering the traditional ketchup and brown sugar glaze over all.

Its always delicious comfort food and welcome after being gone for so long.

So much to do this weekend. Putting the pond up for the winter, prepping the garden beds and the last of the lawn care. I will have to mow at least one last time this weekend and cover the outdoor furniture. The last of summer is fleeting by and the trees are putting on their fall display. We had our first frost this morning so winter is knocking at the door.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Last BLT of the Season

As I sadly slice the last perfect tomato of the summer garden I reflect on the humble bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I have selfishly enjoyed at least one a week since those juicy orbs turned fiery red as I cooked a few slices of bacon nearly every Saturday morning. Now I see my time nearly over, the rest of the not so perfect tomatoes will be roasted for soup.

A few short weeks ago, Serious Eats shared his BLT secret and I quickly adopted the technique as my own. After the bacon had rendered its smokey fat, he laid his sandwich bread down and toasted it golden in those heavenly drippings. It was life changing (and no doubt life taking if enjoyed too regularly).

Now I know what you all are thinking but my heart is fine and my cholesterol is lower than yours thanks to some amazing pharmaceuticals. I am not stupid and I drain 95% of the drippings out of the pan before laying 2 slices if Rotellas Twist bread into the hot skillet. Just enough to impart a heady crunch and the scent of bacon-y goodness to the sandwich.

Layered with mayo, crisp iceberg and that juicy red flavor bomb, I hear angels serenade. I have to confess that I have made these even without bacon, just the drippings. Almost a vegan experience except for the meat fat when I just crave that tomato and mayo combo with no bacon in sight (or on sale that week)

So there you have it, my confession of my weakest passion. The BLT, done my way.


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