29 August 2010

Menu planning returns

So the school year is now underway and I have no excuse as to why I'm eating out all the time. In order to remedy this I'm doing menu planing again.  In no particular order here is this week's dinner menu

Gumbo w/shrimp and spicy hatch sausage w/homemade hot sauce

Chicken parm w/spaghetti squash

Baked  whole wheat ziti

Central Market hatch chile and chicken dinner

15 August 2010


this is a mere taste of the sheer awesomeness that is going to be found in an upcoming post.

06 August 2010

DroidX Camera > BlackBerry Camera

DroidX picture of peppers from my garden

BB picture of peppers from my garden

05 August 2010

adventures in gorgonzola part 1

We had extra gorgonzola and cream cheese from the dip earlier this week, so I wanted to find something to do with it. I settled on barbecue bleu cheese burgers.

1 lb ground beef
1/4 c barbecue sauce
3 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
4 oz cream cheese, softened
salt+pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and gorgonzola until smooth and creamy. Pop it in the microwave if it's still too hard to combine.

In a separate bowl, work together ground beef, salt+pepper, and barbecue sauce until thoroughly combined.

Divide the meat into four equal parts and then take one part at a time and divide that in half and create little balls

Smush these balls into patty-like things

Smear ~1.5 T of the cheese mixture in the center (being careful to leave a generous border) of one of the patties and then place the other on top and seal closed.

Grill and nom... and then contemplate about what you're going to do with the remaining cheese mixture. My first thought was cheese + spoon, but the crushing reality of lactose intolerance make me quickly abandon that idea. My second idea was jalapeno poppers, but that's a post for another day.

04 August 2010

Michigan Eats

So, we're not dead. Hooray! We made the drive up with only one stop to make sure that we didn't die and we make the drive down without any such stops. The only hiccup happened when Colby tried to kill us by telling me that I needed to accelerate to get on the freeway in Texarkana, but actually it was super swervetastic with a separate lane for those coming out of the rest area and I almost drove into the barrier. This was totally his fault. :) Thank jebus for those little reflector things.

Our trip to Michigan began with my dad's wedding, then a couple days at home to hang out with some friends and introduce the babydog to my grandma and great aunt, followed by a stint in Stockbridge to visit Colby's family, and then finally the real vacation... Traverse City.

Now let's begin with a meal-by-meal breakdown of the trip.

Just kidding.

Here are some of the high and lowlights from the trip:

Colby, LeeAnne, LeeAnne's boyfriend, and I hit up the Blue Nile in Ferndale that weekend for some Ethiopian food. The injera was tastier than I expected and the food ranged from mediocre to tasty, but the service was atrocious. Even if I lived in Ferndale, I would be hesitant to ever go back for bitchy waiters and (expensive) unmemorable food. Definite lowlight.

We went to Colby's house after the weekend and stopped by Zingerman's Deli on the way there. Fortunately for us, they have a dog friendly patio, so the three of us sat outside and ate some very memorable food. I had the #48 Binny's Reuben, which is basically cat reuben | sed 's/corned beef/pastrami/g'. For all of you non-losers out there, it's a reuben with pastrami instead of corned beef. This was definitely a highlight. I also picked up some Crunchy Koeze Cream-Nut Peanut Butter as well as Cascados Olive Oil. There will be much nom-ing in the future. Highest light.

Once we made it to Stockbridge, we had a conduit to East Lansing. We went to Pizza House and Cosi for a couple different lunches and brought back deliciously nostalgic (or perhaps nostalgically delicious) memories of late and date nights in college. We also ended up at Bubble Island, B-dubs, and Espresso Royale. It was fun and I got to see my friend Franny. Highlight.

Finally, we were on our way to Traverse City. The first stop was the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore. It. was. fucking. spectacular.

After a few hours of climbing dunes, hiking in sand, and playing on the beach, we headed to our hotel and then to a late lunch at Jenny's Gourmet Cornish Pasties. We got there at 4 and both had a traditional steak pasty with potato and rutabega baked in a delicious crust and served with brown gravy and sour cream. I think one of my new culinary quests is going to be to perfect a pasty recipe. Super tasty and super highlighty.

We met up with Ms. Maciolek/Mrs. Herrold later that evening at the North Peak Brewery. We all started with a Gorgonzola, pecan, and cherry dip served with pita chips. It was really delicious and one of the first things I did when I went home was to try to replicate it (the recipe's at the bottom). I also had the white cheddar ale soup with mustard pretzel croutons and the fried walleye sandwich with fries. The soup was disappointing. It didn't have much flavor on its own, but the "house made" mustard pretzel croutons were strongly flavored and tasted just like the ones from Snyder of Hanover. The walleye sandwich was tasty, although I had a couple pin bones in one of the pieces and their fries are pretty good.

The next day we went wine tasting up Old Mission Peninsula. That alone deserves its own post because we went to seven in the span of 2.5 hours. I was pretty drunk by the end of it... which makes me kind of sad at myself, but we ended up buying 6 bottles of wine+cider by the time we were done with TC. We then ate at The Boathouse Restaurant from a twitter recommendation and it was really amazing. We started with duck wings which were served with a blackberry ale sauce and a Traverse City Cherry hot sauce. While I wasn't huge fan of the blackberry sauce, the hot sauce was incredible. I probably could have drunk it by itself, but it was sort of a fancy lunch so I restrained myself. Colby got an Italian sandwich with pasta salad. It was an assemble yourself feast and I tried some of the different meats, including the prosciutto, which was tasty. But I generally think that prosciutto is tasty. I had the Lake Victoria perch with pomme frittes. Oh. em. gee. So good! I love coming home to Michigan because I can't find lake perch down here. It's all ocean-y fish, which is good, but nothing beats lake perch in my book. Highlight.

I spent the rest of the afternoon pretty sick, but pull myself together for dinner. Since it was a Friday night during the Traverse City Film Festival, it was nearly impossible to find a restaurant that either had reservations or could seat us in a reasonable amount of time, but we did find one place called Hanna Bistro. It received kind of mediocre reviews on Yelp and it was not so busy that they couldn't seat us right away. This should have been a clue. It was highly mediocre and way overpriced for how underseasoned ALL the food was. The waitress was a bit rude, which is forgivable if the food doesn't suck. This was not the case. We started with a charcuterie plate that came with cold brie, pate, some other cold harder cheese, salami, mustard, onion relish, olives, and water crackers. Cold cheese is not the optimal way to eat it... and even when the hard cheese warmed up a bit, it still didn't taste like anything. I'm not sure that I'll ever like pate, but it was okay when it was smeared in mustard or the onion relish... but that was mostly because it tasted like mustard or onion relish. The salami was good and probably the tastiest thing that we had during the entirety of the meal. We also got a Manhattan clam chowder, which seemed like it should be delicious except for the extreme lack of salt or any other discernible seasoning. I generously used the salt and pepper shakers and it ended up okay. Colby ordered the shrimp and grits which were unremarkable and gummy respectively. I got the NY strip special topped with some sour cream sauce and served with mixed vegetables. Holy crap. The last time I ordered a steak and asked for A1 steak sauce I was in Outback. I expected way more and it totally didn't deliver. The best part of that dish was the mixed vegetables. After all the disappointment, we skipped dessert and ended up getting slushies from an oldschool ice cream stand. Lowlight for sure.

The next day we stopped by Paesanos for some tasty pizza and then went to the Toolshed Party. It was kind of a waist-expanding trip but totally worth it.

Gorgonzola, pine nut, and cherry dip
4 oz cream cheese
3-4 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
3 T pine nuts, toasted
1/4 c dried (Michigan!) cherries
~1 T milk (optional)

preheat the oven to ~350. combine all ingredients, except for the milk. If it's too thick, thin with a little bit of milk. put into a small ramekin and bake until the top starts looking a bit toasty and brown and delicious (maybe 15-20 minutes... but I honestly don't remember because I wasn't paying attention to the time). Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips or, you know, just a spoon. This is also incredible the second day.