Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quinoa and Currant Salad

I didn’t expect this to really be a standout so I never bothered to take a picture of it. My husband chided me as he wolfed the last bits of it. When will I ever learn?

3 cups of beef broth
1.5 cup uncooked quinoa
½ cup currants
2 tbs of minced mint
Juice of ½ a lime
A good bit of pepper
Salt to taste

Bring broth to broil and throw in qinoa and currants, let cook to package instructions (mine called for 12 minutes), let cool. Add mint, lime, salt and pepper. Let stand in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Humbled and Excited

I knew it was only a matter of time before someone recognized my genius…(joke!) however, I am humbled. Donna, of My Tasty Treasures has given me, little old me, an award. Now the reason this is so humbling absolutely requires that you go check out her blog, . Her blog not only contains interesting recipes, beautiful photos and an overall pleasing design, she is just the funniest thing going. I mean I SWEAR she makes me laugh out loud (like milk shooting out of your nose laugh) and someone that can tickle my funny bone while tickling my hungry bone, well what more could a girl ask for? Well…. I will leave it to her to tell you!

So now I get the pleasure to pick my 10 favorite blogs and award them!

I have to say narrowing it down to 10 is near impossible, but I will do my very best. Bare with me while I take my Jack Nicholson Oscar moment and say some things I have been thinking for quit a while but had no real opportunity to say. Please go by and see these blogs… you really can’t imagine what you are missing if you don’t! Now for my top ten!

1. My first shout out has to go to PJ of River City Food and Wine, . I have received a lot from blogging, mostly in the form of a mental escape from the doldrums versus over stimulation of parenting. However, one of the best parts has been getting to meet a fellow blogger I had admired for so long and get to know her. Lucky for me she was in lovely in person as her blog is.
2. Cate ,of Tribeca Yummy Mummy ,besides being a mom I wished lived around the corner from me, her blog is lovely. I just want to eat everything up. I also admire her gumption for pulling her wee bits into the kitchen with her. As of yet, in my house, kitchen time is still mommy time.
3. Chef E at Behind the Wheel Chef is fantastic. Her blog is beautiful, fun, funny, and lovely in one pretty package. She is full of great ideas and lovely meals.
4. Five Star Foodie is amazing. Her photos are just amazing! I will warn you….eat before you enter or you will be in trouble!
5. Give Recipe ! I was thrilled when I found this blog. Both my brother and I were born in Turkey and I grew up on stories of the lovely people, food, times etc.. While my parents cook a great deal of Turkish cuisine this is a veritable treasure trove and I just am beside myself with happiness!
6. Go on, do it, go visit Ricardo at and tell me you wouldn’t be wishing to be in the U.K. with that handsome lad cooking for you…. I mean really!
7. Not only is the blog name a hoot Gastronomic Guesswork will leave you drooling! This is yet another site not to go into hungry (or mad at your husband for being a slacker or unrefined) because nothing good can come of it!
8. Mama chicken . Her blog is full of wit, beautiful pictures and great ideas.
9. Diana at Dianasaur would be my vote for a feel good blog. I can quit say way, but it always gives me the warm fuzzies, plus makes me hungry. Go figure.
10. Finally, Fuji Mama at La Fuji Mama She is another feel good blog to me. I love the graphic, the recipes and the pictures and if you haven’t “met” Squirrel… well you just don’t know what your missing.

If you are interested in passing the love on follow this link for the rules

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scallop and Crab Cakes with Goat Cheese and Capers

Some things are just serendipitous, I think this was one of those times. This recipe was inspired a bit by something I saw on a menu while in Virginia Beach. My intention was to use lump crab meat and nothing else to make these. However, at the end of the day, I could not bring myself to pay $28/lb for the stuff. So I got to brainstorming and I thought of scallop pieces and could not have been happier with how it turned out. I served them topped with lemon aioli, but they were also perfect with nothing.

1 lb of scallop pieces (you can find them at a seafood market, if not chop up scallops)
½ lb crab
½ c. mayo
½ c. of panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbs capers
3 oz. soft goats cheese

Mix all ingredients together and let set in the fridge for about an hour. Note, add just enough bread crumbs until the mixture starts to hold together a bit, you may not need all of them so add a bit at a time. It should feel thick, not runny. To form the cakes I used a half cup measure. I also broiled them as opposed to pan frying. My oven has the broiler in the oven not underneath, which allows me to but as much space as I need between the flame and the food. If you just have a bottom broiler, put them in a 400 oven for about 10-15 minutes and just finish off under the broiler. Cook until golden brown and set. It made 6 ½ c. cakes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Website Devoted to Richmond Food Lovers

I have to share some really exciting news with everyone! So often in my life I find myself saying, “Greater minds than mine…(fill in the blank…there are many!).” This is yet another one of those times. Jason for Caramelized OpiNIONS has started a new blog that is a compilation of local Richmond food blogs. The new site is I highly recommend you go check it out and see what other Richmonders are doing!Shortly there will be a button to the right you can click on to get there!

Later today I will be posting last nights dinner…. Scallop and crab cakes with goat cheese and capers. Yummmmmy!

Lemon Drop Martini

My husband is not a big drinker. You are talking about a guy that will often start a beer, and not finish it. Luckily for the economy I have never had quite the affliction. About a week ago, I was wanting a tangy drink. I have never had a lemon drop martini, but in my mind that is what I wanted. This is my lemon drop recipe. My husband has asked for it almost every night since. I am beginning to think I have created a monster!

2 shots (1.5 ounce) of vodka
1 shot of fresh lemon juice (about a medium size lemon)
1 ounce (or just a hair less for me) of agave syrup… I really use about ¾ an once, but it is an eyeball thing
Sugar to rim the glass

I just love a rimmed glass. Do not ask me why. I don’t think it is a flavor thing… I think it is a presentation thing. It just feels more special. I could never get it right before and a couple years back I read you should use lemon to coat the rim (I was using water) and like magic it worked. So start with slicing of a bit of lemon and rimming the glass, and set that lemon wedge aside for squeezing later. I put about 2 tbs of sugar in a dish and than flip my glass on to the dish and give it a little twist in the sugar.

Fill your cocktail shaker about ½ -¾ full crushed ice. Add to it your ingredients (1 ounce is 2 tablespoons if that helps) and shake really well. Note if you don’t have agave syrup, and lets face it…not many of us do, you can use a simple syrup. Pour into glass. Be careful, these go down extraordinarily easy. The recipe makes 2 drinks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chipmunks and Grapes

Okay, this is pushing the envelope for food related, but I just had to share (though I am quite sure many are wishing I wouldn’t!). When I pick Tristan up from preschool I bring a snack and some water to make the ride home more bearable for all involved (otherwise the ride home is filled with whining about being so hungry he might expire). Today he had grapes and in the cluster was an itty bitty baby grape.

Tristan: “Mom who eats this tiny grape?”
Mommy: “I don’t know Tristan, what do you think?”
Tristan: “Uhmmm, could you roll down the window.”
Mommy:” Uhmm, Okay.”

The window goes down and Tristan expels the tiny grape on to the black top below and looks quite please with himself.

Tristan: “ Now when a little chipmunk is walking along he will find it and think, ‘hey, look here is something to eat.’ “

Kid…you kill me.

Mommy: “what a splendid idea, I think the chipmunk will like that quite well.”

About 5 minutes passes.

Tristan: “ Mommy, I have more chipmunks to feed can you roll down the window. There are three that need food. Mommy (and he tosses one), Daddy (another) and little sister (and the last goes flying.)”

When we finally pull up front, of the house he gets out of the car.

Tristan: “Oh no! I did it all wrong!”
Mommy: “What honey?”
Tristan: “I need to feed the chipmunks on the sidewalk, that way it will be safe for them to eat. They shouldn’t be in the road.”

I swear, some days he is just too much. So we put our stuff inside and out we went to feed our chipmunks (wherever they might be??) safely.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend Getaway in Virginia Beach and Catch 31

This Friday my sweet husband took me out of town for the night. He had the grandparents come down to stay with Tristan and Jillian and away we went for the night. So I guess it wasn’t technically a weekend getaway, but it was as close as I have had for over two years and I was glad for it. When Joel worked for AIG (I know, I know, ughh!…Sigh) he often had to go down to the beach. He always raved about an oceanfront restaurant, Catch 31. Needless to say that is were we went for dinner.

Catch 31 ( is located in the Hilton off of Atlantic Avenue. My first impressions of it were it was a sexy restaurant. The décor is very old Hollywood to me, but with a modern twist. It was really lovely. They have an open kitchen, which I love. My one regret was I had planned to go watch the kitchen goings on a bit prior to leaving but got so sucked up in the perfection of the evening I totally forgot!

My husband had been talking endlessly about the oysters. They had several different types to choose from and he choose the Island Creek oysters. I typically do not like raw oysters. Actually, “don’t like” would be an understatement. I dislike them so, that the last time I had them, I had to excuse myself as I was unable to swallow it. I just simply could not bring myself to do it. So these were going to be a treat for my husband to enjoy alone. When they came they look quite different than what I am used to. First they were beautiful, they had the whitest inner shell and they were pretty small. Now I was intrigued to try. I did, and they were good. Salty and sweet. Nice. I left the rest to my husband, because while I liked them ( a big step for me) he adored them, and I enjoyed watching his enjoyment more than I enjoyed them myself.

We ordered a bottle of Barboursville Pinot Grigio. It isn’t what I typically think of when I think of a Pinot, however, it was wonderful and went with the meal wonderfully. For dinner Joel ordered the grilled rockfish and I ordered the crab cakes. Both were served with vegetables and potatoes. The rockfish came with a fresh corn relish and my crab cakes were served with a mustard butter, and plum tomato jam. Joel’s rockfish was grilled over hickory and it was wonderful. The corn relish was dynamite. I wish I had paid more attention to the bite I had so I could figure out a recipe for the corn relish. The thing that stuck out to me is that it had mint in it. It was incredibly good and incredibly fresh. I typically do not order crab cakes, because I tend to be disappointed either in the portion ( I once got two crab cakes that were the size of scallops for a dinner entrée). These were large (in fact I could not finish them, lucky for me hubby was glad to oblige in assisting me!) and pure lump crab meat. I can’t tell what the chef used as a binder. I am suspecting just egg. It was just so pure. Incredibly good. The vegetables were a true standout. I know it is odd, but it needs mentioning. Typically when you have such a lovely main dish, the side dish goes fairly well unnoticed. I can say however, I NOTICED the vegetables. I had fingerling potatoes, parsnips, and fennel. They were wonderful.

For dessert Joel and I shared bread pudding. Bread pudding is another thing I tend to stay away from. It is never bad, but it is often rarely great. It came out hot and to die for. The meal was perfect.

One observation I had about the restaurant is not necessarily a bad thing, just seemed a bit odd to me. To me, Catch 31 is a bit of an odd restaurant. I has a big and beautiful bar, but it is a true bar, music and all. We were seated close to the bar so it was a tad noisy, but not too terribly so. If you took the bar out I would tell you, it was a…. more formal ( for lack of a better word) restaurant. However, with the bar, I would tell you it is elegant casual (if there is such a thing). They offer valet parking, replete with properly dressed valets. They offer bathroom attendants and a sundry of toiletries. They also offer a coat check. Their service (as in wait staff) is the best I have ever received, hands down ( a close second was the Original Bookbinders downtown). It was simply a luxurious experience. I felt very pampered ( for gracious sakes I never had to even pour myself more wine, the waitress thoroughly stayed on top of that!). However, one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb, was the table. The table, was a white plastic top table, with a sheet of white paper over just the top portion of the table. No table cloth. Not even a full paper table cloth, just a paper topper on a plastic table? Understand, I was there 30 minutes before I ever noticed and in the grand scheme of things, it really is not a big deal. I just found it surprising as every other detail was so polished and lovely that they would cut such a silly corner . However, if that is the worst I can say about what I feel was a truly lovely experience… than the tables can stay as they were!

Catch 31 also offers some really beautiful options for outdoor dinning. I am hoping we can go down again in May for my birthday to take advantage of it. I have to say generally speaking I am not a fan of the Virginia Beach oceanfront area. It is just too overgrown to me, to touristy….too…well, TACKY. However, Catch 31 might just end up changing this girls mind. I will be going back again to visit Catch 31. It is well worth the trip. And if this girl gets a night away without the kids in the bargain… well… that isn’t too bad either!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Meatloaf de Ancho

The other day I saw a Rachel Ray show that got me inspired to come up with a new meatloaf recipe. She was using Ancho peppers to make tacos. I had never cooked with Ancho peppers and I was intrigued. So when my husband said he was in the mood for some meatloaf, I knew what I had to do….

Ancho Sauce

3 dried ancho peppers
3 c. of beef broth
3 tbs tomato paste

Add ancho peppers and broth to a pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes and let cool. Remove stems from ancho peppers. Put the entire contents of pan into a food processor and add tomato paste. Process until completely smooth and set aside.


1.5 lb ground pork
1.5 lb ground beef
1 c. of uncooked oatmeal or bulgur
3 eggs
½ onion finely chopped
2 tsp salt
3 tbs of soy sauce
4 tsp oregano
5 tsp Penzeys chili 9000 (if you don’t have just add 2 tsp of cumin, and 2 tsp coco powder)
5 TBS tomato paste
About 1 c. of ancho sauce (see directions below)

Heat oven to 350.

The ancho sauce should yield about 2 cups. Mix all the above ingredients and add as much of the ancho sauce you can, but leave 1 c. in reserve. Mix until well incorporated. Put meatloaf into a baking dish and cover.

Bake meatloaf for 30 minutes. Remove cover and pour remaining ancho sauce over the meatloaf.

Put meatloaf back in the oven and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pork Chops in a Mushroom Cream Sauce Over Pasta

As recipes go, this was a great pork chop recipe and great pasta recipe. I used the Omaha Steaks Pork chops for this because they were given to us. I thought they were tough, which is pretty hard considering I cooked the pork chops for all of 5 minutes total and the pork chops were cooked in liquid. However, the recipe itself was good and I will make it again.

¾-1.5 lb pork chops
½ lb pasta
1 small clove of garlic
2 shallots chopped finely
1 package of mushrooms (any type you like) washed and roughly chopped
3 TBS butter
1 cup white wine
1 ½ tsp marjoram
½ c. cream or half and half
Salt to taste
Parmesan to taste

In a skillet heat the butter and throw in the shallot and garlic. Sautee for 3 minutes.
Add mushrooms and sauté for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, start water to boil for pasta and add pasta and cook.
Add pork chops and wine to skillet and cook. My pork chops were thin so they only cooked for about 2 minutes each side, but cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of your pork chops.
Add cream and cook for 1 more minute (just to heat through). Server over pasta and top with cheese.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pasta Ceviche Revisited

I made this back in September It seems I have been remaking some older recipes recently. I am a bit behind on posting. We switched to Verizon FIOS, and I have found my speed to be ridiculously slower than Comcast and have a lot of issues with my internet just shutting down. THAT said, it has slowed my blogging considerably, both in keeping up with sites I love and keeping up with my own blog. So I am working to blog a bit smarter ( read: the kids are in bed) so hopefully I can get back to blogging more regularly!! Next I will be sharing my pork chops recipe that I made with my Omaha steaks pork chops, but for now a revisit on an older recipe.

I think here in Richmond we have been getting glimpses of spring. For goodness sakes I sent my son to preschool twice last week in shorts and a T shirt (nope, I am not kidding). Then it got cold again. I think the new cold snap got me craving even more the flavors of spring and summer. So I had to make this recipe again. This time I used, scallop, flounder (good sale at the seafood market), and shrimp (already had). Once again, it was outstanding and I had to give old hubby a kiss for the idea. If you like heat, I think throwing some chopped jalapeños would be good. I didn’t, just opting for the  red pepper. I love the spicy, sweet, and tang of lime. The only things I changed (because you know I have GOT to change something) this time is, I added quite a bit more than a pinch of red pepper, and I squeezed the lime not in the sauce but over each individual dish (I figured it would be better for the leftovers). Also, and not of much importance, I sliced the scallops into thin pieces (they were big ones) as opposed to keeping them whole.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Quaker True Delight Bars

Part of being a featured publisher with Foodbuzz is that periodically you get to try new products. A while back they sent me the new Quaker True Delight bars. Now, let me just say upfront I love a granola bar. I do. I think it stems from my childhood. I was happy with the original hard ones, then low and behold….they had SOFT granola bars. It was like the stuff of fairies and make believe. It was like soft chocolate chip cookies out of a package. It was like magic. Now, though my amazement at their novelty has waned, I still love a good granola bar…however it might come. So I was excited about Quakers new endeavor.

Let me say a couple things before I get into analyzing these, and the first is just an observation my husband made. He said, “Look, it has whole nuts in it.” That was completely overlooked my yours truly. At first I thought, “So?” However, I will say, in retrospect, that while I apparently inhaled mine too quickly to notice the nuts I think whole nuts are kinda nice. It does make it seem more…I dunno… grown up. The second thing is, I read some folks reviews of food and it impresses me. The talk about the notes in the food, the balance of a dish… and so on. This gal here… I am a plain old, good/bad sort of gal. I won’t be able to tell you about the high or low notes or the balance. I am just going to tell you pure and simple what this old girl thought about them. Do with it what you will.

There were three flavors. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond, Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry, and Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut. Here are my general observations:

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Almond. It was very good. I love raspberry though. However, the chocolate gets totally lost. I think I would have left the chocolate off.

Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry: It was fine. A good solid granola bar experience, however the cashew gets lost so it is pretty ordinary.

Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut-- This was the best to me. Which is a bit surprising because I am very VERY particular about banana. I love fresh banana, however I tend not to like banana flavored things. I did not go into this with very high hopes, but it was wonderful. However, I wish they had taken the chocolate the raspberry didn’t need and used it with this, because banana and chocolate to me, is one of the best flavor combinations on earth.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thai Pork and Green Beans with Coconut Milk

This is a dish I wrote about before in May 2008 ( ) . My husband asked me to make it for his birthday. I obliged. I made quite a bit, so he could have it to his hearts content. I decided to change up the leftovers a bit and I added about a ¼ c. of coconut milk. It was out of this world. Honestly I don’t know which I like better. The original is fresh and simple but the coconut milk adds a wonderful richness. It also got me thinking that this summer I might try some fresh tomatoes too.

I swear nothing is safe in this house, even dishes we love!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Beet and Blue Cheese Salad

I have gotten a bit behind on the blogging of late. If it gives you any clue this is something I made January 18th. This is a really simple salad and quite pretty. I used a simple olive oil and lemon dressing, but any vinaigrettes would work.

This made four salads:

1 large beet, boil until tender and pop the skin, let cool then grate
¾ c. blue cheese
½ c. toasted walnuts
4 cups lettuce or mixed greens
thinly sliced onion

On four plates put on cup of lettuce or greens. Top with ¼ (for each plate) blue cheese and walnuts. Add onion to taste. Put ¼ of the shredded beets and top with dressing. Do not toss.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Black Sheep and Café Diem

I know some of you might be wondering what The Black Sheep and Café Diem have in common. My response…not a thing other then I will be talking about both in this post.

Yet again, the restaurant scene in Richmond never ceases to amaze me. Richmond, for such a small city, has a bounty of restaurants. Even more, a bounty of truly wonderful and amazing restaurants. What perplexes me about Richmond is why, WHY, in such a small city, with such bountiful and amazing options bad restaurants not only exist, but make it and at times even thrive.

Most of you know Joel recently opened an insurance agency. His office is in the old “flatiron” building at the triangle of Patterson and Park. Right by his office is a multitude of restaurants. All the ones we have been to so far have been great. Today, finally, we headed to Café Diem. I had checked their menu out on-line and was excited to try it. We walked in and it was super smoky and even worse smelled of old, stale bar. I am pretty adaptable and don’t get put off easy, so I put what looked more like a bar out of my mind and focused on the menu. The menu looked great from Panko encrusted fried oysters to tarragon chicken sandwich, not typical bar fare. I ordered a lunch special it was a tuna steak and Joel ordered a sub. We waited 30 minutes before we saw the waitress again. Other then folks at the bar, we were the only people in there. At that time she came with our food. At first glance I was a little relieved, it looked nice. Nice plate, nice presentation…not typical bar at all. I dived in. Plthh. The fish was not fresh, it was actually a bit fishy. It was dry as all get out and despite being “blackened” had no flavor (other than fishy). It was served with mashed potatoes and green beans… both cold. I will say despite the cold, the mashed potatoes were good. They still had the skins, which I like and where chunky, which I also like. The beans, were not canned. I am sure of this, because they were tough. They were also awful. I don’t know what was done to them, but they had a horrible taste. My husband had the “Studly Italian.” And just like every self proclaimed stud before it… it was not so studly at all. It had 2 slices of ham, and maybe 6 pieces of pepperoni. When it came out I actually reached across the table, opened the sub and looked in, because it looked like all she had just brought my poor fellow was, some crusty bread with no innards! If I were to name it, it would have to be the Wimpy Italian. I will say his French fries were very, very yummy, crispy, thin, salty. Great.

To add insult to injury the bill came. Now my tuna was a lunch special, it was a small filet (the right lunch size), and there was about a ¼ c. each of the mashed potatoes and green beans. We both had water and the bill was $24. Not worth it.

So what does this have to do with the Black Sheep? As I posted earlier, we had a great brunch there a week back. This Saturday, we got a sitter and headed there for lunch. Despite being told, the subs where gynormous…we each order one. My husband got the chicken livers and I got the Swedish meatball. When these hummers came out, they were no joke 18 inches long. It took me about 5 minutes before I dug in, to plan a strategy of attack. My sub was simply perfect. The bread, it was on was beautiful, airy, not too crusty, not too much bread to overwhelm the sub, just right…just wonderful. My husbands sub was wonderful. They only thing he said he would have preferred is either more apple slaw or a touch of mayo, but he will definitely be getting it again. He also got a side of corn pudding. I typically don’t like that sort of thing, but can I say…swoon! Since I had heard their desserts were to die for, we both ordered one to bring home. He got the peanut butter pie. It was wonderful. I got the white Russian brownie. I got it because the table next to me had. It looked SO good. It was so dense it looked like fudge not, brownie. I knew that was what I would get. I took it home and heated it just a bit (per a tip from the waitress)…it sadly fell flat. I know there are folks that will love it. It is super moist and not very sweet. However, for me, it is not what I want when I want a brownie. I want a chocolate explosion in my mouth. I want dense, and sweet, and gooey. This was dense and moist, but not chocolaty and not sweet. That is okay though, next time I am going to try the banana pudding, it was a close second and sound heavenly. I don’t expect that everything on a menu will always please me, everyone likes things different ways. My mom, for one, would have loved that brownie. I do expect, especially now in our economy, when I go out to eat, to get a quality experience and quality ingredients. The Black Sheep has bowled me over again with their quality and value for the dollar. Joel and I had 2 18inch subs (the leftovers which we had for dinner so really we got 2 meals out of it), 3 drinks, corn pudding and 2 desserts, all for $37. If we had just had just the subs and water, our bill with tax would have been about $ 20. Now, come can't beat that.

So Richmond, tell me when Café Diem is literally surrounded by great restaurants and less the 2 miles from a place like Black Sheep…why, WHY is anyone still going to eat at Café Diem?