Monday, December 31, 2012

Westward Ho.....

Another Post Christmas Celebration with the folks out in Western Nebraska. We brought along the usual fare that seems to be a hit at this occasion...Stromboli, of course and Antipasto Salad. Just so easy to cut up and serve and snack on all day if there is any left. The Stromboli disappeared quickly once cut. I saw much go into the microwave and get eaten up quickly. Even the one that I had created extra for us at home was eaten with gusto as a dinner substitute the Friday before we left. Seems like no matter how much is made it is never quite enough. I know the nephews were prowling for it Sunday morning but none to be found.

Antipasto Salad

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Dinner

Much like last year we served the favorites of the kids. A nice New York Strip roast about 12 pounds, Gene's potatoes and Roasted Parmesan Onions, green beans with toasted almonds. Much to our surprise, the boys and Nick's friend Amanda got a reprieve from work and were able to join us for most of the evening. It was quiet and wonderful.  All the recipes have been previously posted.

Ben and Mackenzie were out pretty early so they opened their stuff together but poor Nick had to be cajoled into opening his things by himself. The kids gave and got some great gifts this year. The big hit was a Nexus 7 tablet and Brenda's Kindle Fire HD. So cool and accessible are these devices. I got a bag I pinned on Pinterest.

A great time was had by all.

A perfectly cooked roast. Removed and tented at 130 degress, it was delicious.

The Parmesan Onions were sublime.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eating Omaha....Taxi's Grille and Bar

Our last Eating Omaha for 2012 found us at Taxi's Grille and Bar for a great dinner with a few extra friends and family last night. We normally got out as a foursome but with the holidays and family members in town, we had a few extras with us, Matt and Lori's daughter Ali and Lori's mom, Annette and Mackenzie showed up. The place was festively decorated for Christmas to be sure and the atmosphere was lively and full of patrons. Reservations are recommended for sure as folks like to linger over dinner.

The waitress answered our questions and explained the menu as well as the specials. She mentioned a Blue Cheese  and Cabbage soup which piqued some interest to which she brought us a sample. I had a cup after that and it was excellent. Really.

The service was prompt and friendly and the food was superior. Ali had Pan Seared Scallops that I could have wrestled her for. Mackenzie had a Crab Cake Salad that was also delicious. Matt had a Rib eye covered in melted Blue Cheese that looked tasty and the rest of us had the special. I know, I don;t normally order specials. They are usually never a bargain and sometimes they are not good. Tonight was a different story. It was expensive but a perfectly cooked 7 ounce Fillet with a Portabella demi glace was well worth it. Fork tender and juicy, I savored every mouthful. The dinner was a hit for everyone. The tab was moderate.

Tonight we have to pick up the pplace for the arrival of guests after church tomorrow and our traditional soup supper. I need to bake some bread and cook the soup after work. We have a few coming over since a lot of folks celebrate the day as we do but not the Eve. Looking forward to the New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Confectionary Christmas Concoctions.....

We both have work things this week and mine is tomorrow so the ladies I work with requested the peppermint popcorn I made last year from the Bake at 350 site. It's really easy just melt a package of white almond bark and 1 tbl of solid shortening, stir in a package of crushed candy canes and pour over popcorn (I just bought the local brand, Vic's) 2 bags) I added mint M&M's and little candy cane decorations. For Brenda , she choose the puffed corn extra large package. Same drill as mine but she added peppermint mini marshmallows. We stirred it all up and then spread it on waxed paper to harden up a bit.

I made some wings for dinner so they were busy getting delicious while we worked. I think everyone at work will be pleased with my efforts, Brenda's will for sure.

So how yummy does that look? Thanks to my blogging pals for the inspiration!

Monday, December 17, 2012

What's in the pot today.....

Mackenzie chided me for not posting lately. We have been busy with shopping and errands and while I have been cooking I confess that I haven't cooked that much. A pizza here, a pot roast there. Today I placed a very large chuck roast in the crock pot before heading to work. Brenda was off but out of the house most of the day. I came home and the house smells terrific. A regular Sunday Pot Roast worthy of company was ready to rock and roll when I got home but again we so much to do. We will have quick bite before heading out the door.

So, I began last night and cut the roast into 4 inch by 2 inch planks about 2 inches thick. Dusted in flour and browned in a hot skillet. I put them aside and in the fridge till morning.

Into the crock pot I quartered 2 onions and chuncked about 5 carrots. I added a small bottle of Cabernet, a teaspoon of thyme leaves, 2 bay leaves, 2 crushed cloves of garlic and a package of Beef Stock concentrate.

In the a.m. I placed the meat, a 8 ounce package of mushrooms sliced and the rest of a box of chicken stock. On went the pot and I went to work. After I came home I opened two cans of potatoes. I know, but I love canned spuds and I didn't want to buy a bag. Those are in the pot now. I ladled off about 4 cups of broth and added that to a saucepan with a 2T flour, 2T butter roux. Gravy is done, a bit of Kitchen Bouquet to make it a nice color. Here it is:
Pot Roast good enough for company

My pizza from last week. I made 2. One with burger and shrooms and this pepperoni beauty!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Eating Omaha....Marrakech

On Sunday after Liturgy we met with Jeff and Michale at the Marrakech. They had tasted this place at Taste of Omaha this summer and had been dying to go back. The favorite was the Chicken Shawarma which I have had before at El Basha but here it was fresher and tasty to be sure. The menu was rather small with few choices. Michale had the special which was a wedding pie (Pastilla) stuffed with dark meat chicken and almonds but came with a hefty price of $20. Not your average lunch fare. It was a bit pricey for lunch and I was confused when we left because the other 3 entrees were on special for $4.95 that day but none us were charged that. The total lunch bill with tip for the four of us was $80.

We tried the sampler platter for appetizers and it was delightful with a variety of tidbits including Falafel, Hummus, Samosas and 2 ratatouille's with a side of pita triangles. The chai tea won my wife's seal of approval and the waiter/ owner described its making in detail. Very nice little cozy place with an on line menu. Don't be afraid to go outside you comfort zone.

Chicken Shawarma Recipe

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Eating Omaha...Jaipur's

For my birthday this year we ventured out of the norm and ate at an established Indian restaurant in the heart of West Omaha or at least where West Omaha begins, Jaipur. This had been an Omaha standard for many years in the middle of Rockbrook Village. A quaint little place with beautiful painted walls and a great atmosphere. A very complete Indian menu is offered as well as custom beers but tonight we opted for wine, a nice Cotes du Rhone. We had a full house as all the kids were able to join us and we had a party.

Samosa's and Papadum were first to hit the table with a spicy but cooling Mint Chutney. Everyone ordered something different so we could try a lot of things on the menu as well as a few assorted Indian breads. All us boys ordered a Lamb dish, Madras Curry, Rogan Josh and Korma. The gals ordered chicken dishes, a Tikki Masla and Tikki Korma. We passed then all but the Madras was super spicy hot. I loved it but it took some getting used to. I had leftovers today and my heartburn returned instantly. (It does not deter me from eating what I love though.)

The rice that came with one of the dishes was perfumed with Cardamom seeds. They have a vaguely citrus-y orange note and very floral. So delicious and unexpected. The meal was delightful and expensive but we knew that in advance. This is not a cheap place to grab a bite. The service was wonderful and doting. All in all a great experience and fine dining.

I will definitely be making some of this food in the near future. Yum.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Christmas Eve feast?

New home for some old friends..finally

A few years ago, the parish of St. John Greek Orthodox church came to an impasse and part of the parish left to establish a mission church in the western part of the city. Starting out from nothing with just a few borrowed items, the church did not have the traditional feel of an Orthodox temple.  I felt like it needed a little something to help it along so Brenda and I lent a few icons of our own to the parish. As time went by I was asked to paint the traditional icons for the front of the church which I did gladly. Those icons traveled with us to our new temporary home on 90th and Q.

A year after the move,  the Grand Island Greek Orthodox Church Holy Trinity folded and shutdown. All of their stuff came to us at the All Holy Spirit Greek Church and the priest decided (unilaterally) to remove my icons and replace them with some "real Greek" icons. I don't think anyone in the parish even noticed.

When things like this happen I start to seriously question my mission in the church. I am absolutely sure God meant for me to do this and has guided my hand as best he could in this vocation but these events trouble me more than you would know.  Sadly, I do not have a lot of support from Orthodox clergy regarding iconography and frankly I am a mediocre painter at best.
These, now discarded, works came back into my possession. I lent them to a struggling mission in Ames, IA for a while but the church did not take off and I picked them up again. They have been in my front room for the last few years leaning against the wall. My lovely bride is very, very tolerant. I have a lot of icons in my front room that serve various purposes through out the Liturgical year. She is a saint,  really.

I called the Antiochian Bishop to see if he had a place for them and he did have a mission in Texas that would take them. I had several conversations by email with the mission. The priest was thrilled but the parish  was less so and made a statement to the effect of being "stuck" with icons they did not want to endure for the next 20 years. How's that for a vote of confidence? I could not even give them away....really? *Sigh*

 I debated selling them on Ebay but I wasn't  I could verify they would go to a Christian home and then I finally got in touch with a wonderful Catholic priest (who had commissioned me in the past) and asked if would have a place for them and he gladly accepted the icons from me. I feel like at least the are going to be in a place where they will be used for their actual purpose.  So its time to say goodbye to these old friends who have been standing in my front room for quite some time.  Thank you Father Carl Salinitro for taking these for me. God Bless.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

BBQ Chicken.......indoors

Today was a busy day with a little shopping and little church and a bit of cooking. Ben stopped by before work to pack a lunch and have some dinner but no other takers tonight so there are some leftovers for the rest of the week.

I made a BBQ chicken recipe for Alex Guarnaschelli from her Alex's Day Off show. I love her stuff and her attitude towards cooking and dining.

I cut this sauce recipe in half but here is the whole deal. I used fat chicken thighs because they were $1 a pound (really?) and they cooked up tasty and crisp and delicious.

  3 cups ketchup
  2 cups cider vinegar
  1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  1/2 cup light soy sauce
  1 cup light brown sugar
  1 cup dark brown sugar
  2 tablespoons dry mustard (preferably Colman's)
  2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  1 cup chili powder
  1 "knob" fresh ginger (about 4 inches), peeled and cut in 3 pieces
  5 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  2 lemons, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

I cut this in half for about 12 thighs.

Combine all in a sauce pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove ginger and lemons and reserve 1 cup of sauce to pass. I lined a pan with foil (non stick) and dredged each thigh in the sauce and arranged on the baking pan. I salted and peppered the thighs and baked at 350 for 20 minutes then turned them over. I removed them, drained some of the liquid from the pan, painted them up with sauce again, raised the oven temp to 400 and baked them 10 minutes or so on each side.

Tasty and moist with crispy skin and a great sauce.

It's All About Bob!

Saturday we were invited to the Kropp's house to watch the miserable spanking the Huskers got at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers.  Bob and his lovely bride, Kim, made a variety of tasty soups and we had some other pot luck items. I pulled a recipe off of Pinterest and made a Cheesy Pull Apart bread. It was deemed "crack" by the author but I am not so sure. I think I would definitely rewrite the recipe on this to improve it's overall flavor and amp it up a bit with stronger flavors.

Bob was a little upset with me because I had not mentioned him in the blog so I did him one better and included a photo also....

Bob and Tom...buddies for 30+ years.

The Bread recipe:
1 stick of butter melted
1/8 c olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
3 tsp  onion minced
1 T Dijon Mustard
1 T poppy seeds
3 tsp parsley minced
12 oz grated cheese ( I used PepperJack but next time Asiago or a stronger flavored cheese might be better.)
Add the first 7 ingredients and  ix well. I added salt and pepper. Cut the loaf in in X slices but not thru the bottom. Place on foil and using a spoon, spoon the butter mix into all the cuts. Stuff the grated cheese into the cracks and cover the loaf with another piece of foil and seal tight. Bake for 20 minutes and uncover , bake another 10. Bake at 350.
Personally, I would cook the onion and garlic in the butter first and definitely choose a stronger flavored cheese.
Always a great time at the Kropp's whatever the occasion. Nice people.



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