Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jasmine Tea

One of my favorite ways to wind down after a long day is to drink tea. When we were in Istanbul on our Mediterranean cruise last summer my in laws picked up some spices for us from they spice market and they also picked up some dried jasmine flower blossoms.

When you add them to water they bloom and act like a tea bag and flavor the water. I enjoy watching the flower bloom as much as I enjoy drinking this rich tea.

Friday, August 5, 2011


We celebrated our anniversary this year by dining at Biga on the Banks. Biga looks over the Riverwalk and has amazing food. The chef changes up the menu based on what local organic food is available.Brian and I had a great meal together and had free champagne to celebrate 3 amazing years of marriage. We were seated at a table for two right by the window.
Here are the delectable dishes we enjoyed that evening:

Starters :
Sarah - Chicken-fried Oysters
(5) squid ink linguini, Swiss chard, pancetta, whole grain mustard hollandaise
These oysters were so good. I mean who can't love chicken fried oysters :) They came 5 to a plate and were each placed on top of a tiny bed of squid ink noodles that were jet black. I ate one oyster and the noodles in one bite . They were many intense flavors with a slight kick

Brian- Shiner Bock Onion Rings, habanero ketchup, pickled peppers
I of course had a few of these. They were lightly battered and you could taste the beer. The ketchup was just hot enough. They brought 8 huge onion rings and we had to take some home.

Main Courses:
Sarah- Over Roasted Red Fish (not listed on the online menu)
The fish was cooked perfectly. It was topped with a tapenade and severed over polenta

Brian- Achiote roasted pork tenderloin, plantains, corn saute, avocado salsa, pickled onions, cinnamon sauce

For dessert we shared a mint chocolate chip tart with mint chocolate chip ice cream. The outside of the tart was a dark chocolate crust. The filling tasted exactly like mint chocolate chip ice cream and the texture was like the inside of a cookie. They decorated the plate with Happy Anniversary, and it was .

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Brian and I love to go on food adventures. Last weekend we took decided to try Huhot a local restaurant near our new house. Huhot is a make your own Mongolian stir fry restaurant, that is all you can eat. Their motto: "How to Pillage like the Mongolians." You are given a bowl and then you add meats,veggies and sauce from a buffet and you can back and and do this as many times as you like. Now that sounds simple enough but in fact there is a bar for each food categories.

Brian is show here by the meat bar. The meats are freeze-dried and sliced super thin, which allows them to cook faster and stay out safely :) Then next bar is full of veggies and then the sauce bar. They have 20 different kind of sauces. You mix them all together to create your ideal sauce . You use about 5-6 ladles of sauce.

Brian choosing his sauce thoughtfully and carefully. The grill is circular and operated by two men. One of them takes your bowl and pours it on the grill. They have a special order that place food on the grill so they can remember whose is whose. It takes about two minutes for your meal to cook. The men are constantly moving around the grill, stirring dishes with spatulas, serving up order or cleaning off the grill. They seemed to work in perfect union without talking.
Now if this whole process sounds daunting to you they provide recipe cards with a list of ingredient. Not ready to fly solo my first time around I chose a recipe called Dragon Spit. I took the card up with me and followed its instructions. The card read : beef, pork, yakisoba noddles, green onion, bean sprouts, mushrooms, onions, broccoli. Then it detailed the sauce:
1 ladle Not-So-Sweet &Sour
2 Ladles black Thai Peanut
1/2 ladle garlic oil
1 ladle Samaria Teriyaki

I was very happy with my first dish. For my second dish i went with beef and calamari. I did not put enough sauce and it came out tasting like nothing. Brian on the other hand had an epic fail. He tried to go for a curry and it tasted like garbage. We put the dish to the side. The waiter came by and seeing that we clearly were not going to eat this dish asked,"Can I take this away." Brian answer with an emphatic yes. "Too much Mo's curry sauce?", the waiter asked and again Brian answered yes. What I love about Huhot is that the bowl are relatively small so if you try and fail you haven't wasted a bunch of food and you can quickly go make another bowl.

In order to not end with a bad taste in our mouths, we ordered dessert. Cheesecake Rangoons with raspberry sauce. What a fantastic experience!

Friday, July 29, 2011


This post has been a long time coming. I will be filling in back logged food adventures as well as going forward so keep your eye pealed for entries all the way back to Halloween and posting in the present.

I discovered this delightful, fresh meal back in March when we were on the South Beach Diet and were searching for healthy recipes. I love to make this dish in the summer because it requires no cooking. When is over 100 degrees, I hate making anything that requires a long cook time or use of the over. The tabbouleh recipe is from what is now one of our go to cook books; Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn

Tabbouleh is a traditional Arabic salad. It is made using bulgar wheat, parsley, mint, and olive oil.Bulgar wheat is a really hearty grain that has not been processed very much. In order to prepare it for the salad you first rinse the wheat in cold water and then soak the wheat in cold water for 20 minutes.

Then you begin chopping herbs... and a lot of them. The recipe calls for two cups of curly parsley and a half cup of mint. Luckily I had gotten a rolling herb mincer for Christmas and this was a great time to use it. You simply remove the herbs from their stems and then roll this multi-bladed contraption over the herb one direction and then the other and it cuts them into tiny pieces. Even with this awesome herb destroying machine it still took me 20 minutes to wash the parsley, pick off each leaf, and run the herb mincer over them. I know it would have taken me at least twice a long if I did not have my newest kitchen gadget!

Traditionally you add in tomatoes, green onions and cucumbers to the herbs and wheat. The first time I made this dish I kept the tomatoes in to see what the flavor and texture of the dish would be like, even though Brian and I are not big tomato fans. I did not want to take an ingredient out before trying it. Since the tomatoes did not blow we away or feel significant to the dish I left them out this go around and found I enjoyed the dish much better.

You finish off the tabbouleh with a dressing made of lemon juice, olive oil and salt. We serve the tabbouleh in whole wheat pitas but it can also be served as a salad. I love the flavor of this dish. It is quiet strong with all the fresh herbs lemon juice and green onions. It make a great light dinner or healthy lunch.I highly recommend.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Dinner

I love summer. I love summer especial since we moved into our house and bought a grill. Brian has been working really long hours so for Sunday I planned a special meal for his day off: a cook out. The menu BBQ Chicken using my grandmothers BBQ sauce; homemade macaroni salad and brownies.

I went ahead and made the sides ahead of time on Saturday. While I was shopping at the store I realized I had forgotten to print off a recipe for macaroni salad. So I whipped out my i phone and I went to one of my trusted sites: Food network and found this simple recipe. I cooked the elbow macaroni and made the dressing of mayonnaise, dry mustard, sugar, cider vinegar, and sour cream. The dressing tasted very similar to the dressing I remember my mom making for her coleslaw. Then I chopped up celery, and red onion. I soaked the red onion is cold water for 5 minutes to draw out some of the bite . I left out the tomatoes. and added cut up sweet gherkin pickles to my serving. The salad has a very refreshing taste and the red onions added just the right about of kick.

Boddington wanting his taste of the macaroni.

For the brownies I use Martha Stewart Double Chocolate Brownies Recipe.
I melted the semi sweet chocolate, coco power and butter together in a double boiler. I had never mixed coco powered into my chocolate before but it defiantly kicked up the chocolaty taste. I added the chocolate to the dry ingredients and the eggs and the sugar. Then I poured the batter into the pan. The recipe was very specific about how the pan should be prepared.

" Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil,allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside."

I though this was a little excessive, butter the pan then put foil in it and then butter the foil... Really? Well, the brownies came out of the pan perfectly. Who and I to argue with Martha?

As Brian was heating up the grill I was getting the chicken ready. As I open up the chicken I immediately knew something was wrong. The chicken just smelled nasty. So we chucked it in the garage and went with our back up plan, burgers. We bought 18 frozen Sirloin burger patties from Costco for a time such as this. We seasoned them with some Lawry's seasoning salt and grilled them up.

The meal was great. The salad was a nice side for the burgers and the brownies were so chocolaty and delicious. I hope we continue our tradition of fabulous Sunday dinners.