Thursday, May 19, 2011

Birthday Celebration

Tonight I am hosting a dinner party for seven people including myself. This being the most ambitious food endeavor I am a little nervous. The occasion, my friend Jonathon's Birthday, I won't disclose how old he his, to save him from embarrassment. :)

The menu:
Wedge Salad with Goddess Dressing
Pan Seared Pork Loin with a Peach, Onion, a White Wine Reduction
Roasted Garlic Potatoes
Green Beans
Cup Cake Surprise

Four Herb Green  Goddess Dressing
(from Cooking Light magazine)
1 cup plain fat free Greek yogurt
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
3 canned anchovy fillets
1 garlic cove, minced
2/3 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup fresh chervil leaves (optional)

Place first seven ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Add parsley and remaining ingredients; process until herbs are minced.

Skillet Pork Chops Saute with Peaches
(from Cooking Light magazine)
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 (4 ounce) center-cut boneless pork loin chops, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 peaches, each cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2  teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons butter

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper. Add chops to pan; cook for 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chops from pan and keep warm. Add shallots, thyme, and peaches to pan; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in wine, scrapping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 2 minutes). Stir in broth and honey; bring to boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter. Spoon sauce over chops.

Trisha an excellent baker made the dessert for tonight's celebration. 

Mini OREO Surprise Cupcakes 


1 pkg. (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix
1 pkg.  (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 egg
2 Tbsp.  sugar
48 Mini OREO Bite Size Cookies
1-1/2 cups  thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
Heat oven to 350°F.

Prepare cake batter as directed on package. Mix cream cheese, egg and sugar until well blended.

Spoon half the cake batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Top each with about 1-1/2 tsp. cream cheese mixture and 1 cookie; cover with remaining cake batter.

Bake 19 to 22 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool 5 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Frost with COOL WHIP. Top with remaining cookies.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Orleans: NOLA

After meeting up with my cousin Jeff and friends on Bourbon street , we grabbed dinner with his friend Higor at NOLA, which is one of Emeril Lagassse’s restaurants. We sparred no expense tonight with two bottles of wine, four appetizers, and two desserts, everything was amazing. For the appetizers:
Miss Hay’s Stuffed Chicken Wings with Homemade Hoisin Dipping Sauce

Louisiana Blue Crab Cake with Corn Coulis, Frisée and Tomato-Bacon Jam

Emeril’s Barbecued Gulf Shrimp with Rosemary Biscuit

Prince Edward Island Black Mussels in a Garlic-Chardonnay Broth with Focaccia Bread

I don’t think that we ate a bad thing, with every bite all I could say was yum or hmmm. I was lost for words with this meal. For dinner, I order the Garlic Crusted Drum, cooked in a wood burning oven with Brabant potatoes, Crimini mushrooms, bacon and sauce Beurre Rouge. The fish was so buttery and the sauce was creamy and tart and so good I order extra on the side. I honestly could have died happy after eating here. The service was impeccable from the servers swooping in a rhythmic manner to place our entrees down simultaneously to the greeting when we walked in. Dessert was a gooey treat, warm Ooey Gooey Cake with layers of moist chocolate cake, marshmallows and toasted coconut served with coffee ice cream. We ordered two of these one with the coffee ice cream and one with vanilla ice cream and a banana liquor.  I have to say I am not one for chain restaurants but have to give this place a high recommendation.

New Orleans: Mr. B's Bistro

I had worked up an appetite after walking around the city, getting lost in the architecture and bright culture. I stopped by Mr. B’s Bistro, for a light lunch. After perusing the menu I settled on Mr. B's luncheon salad, which was a delightful combination of baby greens, spiced pecans and grape tomatoes tossed in a herb vinaigrette to start. And for my main coarse, seafood gumbo, which had lump crabmeat, gulf shrimp and okra. For my drink selection I tried the Blood Orange Margarita and the signature Bloody Mary.  Since I decided to go with a lighter lunch, I had to get a dessert. And to my delight they had bread pudding on the menu. I liked it, but not as much as the one that we got at Marigny Brasserie. 

New Orleans: Café Du Monde

Ok, this was number one on my list and took me until Saturday to get here, but what can a busy gal do, too much food to eat and not enough time in the day to do it. I got here around 10:00am and there was a line about a half a block long. Don’t be turned away by the line it moved pretty quickly and what you experience is well worth the wait. There is a take out line if you are in a hurry, but trust me when I say that you want to experience these pieces of heavens sitting down. Café du Monde is a staple in the New Orleans area for their beignet. And are always open!!! I grabbed a table near the entrance of this open air space. And waited patiently for the server to stop by, I placed an ordered one (which is three beignets) and water. I do not recommend getting just water to drink; you defiantly need to wash them down with milk or the frozen Café Au Lait. When my order arrived I was not sure if I ordered beignets or a plate full of powdered sugar. I could not wait to dive into these fried doughnuts. My first bite was a tantalizing treat and I must have had a blissful expression on my face, because the guy next to me asked if this was my first time.
I highly recommend this place if you are ever in New Orleans.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Orleans: Jacques-imo's

I started my night off at the bar in Hotel Monteleone, Carousel Bar. This place was recommended to me by my friend Shelley. And it lived up to the hip. With a name like Carousel you can only imagine what the theme was, it is a bar that actually rotates around. A guest can hop on and with each rotation taking about 15 minutes to complete your view is always changing. The bar has a carousel theme, with dark wood and rich colors. The bartender was helpful in recommending a selection of local drinks for me to try. I settled on a Mr. Pimms Cup this was a light and refreshing beverage. After drinks I headed uptown to Jacques-imo’s to meet Braulio and Kriston for Dinner and Entertainment. We went to Maple Leaf, which is right next to Jacques-imo’s while we waited for our table to be ready. The band that was playing was Big Sam’s Funky Nation.  For dinner I started out with a Watermelon margarita that was a little to sweet for me and really strong and since I was not going for a night of shenanigans I decided to nurse my drink. The menu has a variety of choices from seafood to good ol’ southern favorites.

We started of the meal with shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake I am not sure how they got the texture of the cheesecake to be spot on in this savory dish but it was light and creamy with a bit of spice that hit you at the back of your throat. Our second appetizer was escargot with torchiette pasta in a buttery, spicy sauce. The Escargot was so good, I could have used a spoon and ate the sauce. For dinner I got the stuffed pork chop stuffed with ground beef and shrimp. This must have been about two pounds of food. I did my best to eat as much as I could but eventually succumbed to a food coma. There was defiantly no room for dessert. Another dish that was ordered at the table that looked really good and comes highly recommend was the fried chicken. Next time I am down here I would get that.

New Orleans: Mother's

I had been hearing about Mother's since I got down here. So for lunch today my co-worker Kriston and I ducked out for a bite. When we go there, there was a line out the door, but they shoveled us through pretty quickly. Once inside, we grabbed menus, it was filled with all the southern classics, Etouffee, debris, Jambalaya,, Red Beans and Rice. I got the Shrimp Po’ boy sandwich and a bowl of the Crawfish Etouffee. Kriston got a po' boy with dedris and the red beans and rice. Another new discover while down here, Crystals hot sauce a slightly sweeter Tabasco, this could possibly be replacing my Frank’s. The Po’ Boy was fantastic and the bread was very fresh. Some of you know that I attempted to make Etouffee in the past, which did not turn out so good.  So, I was really excited to try it. I have to say I don’t know what I made but it was defiantly not Etoufee.

Chalk this place up to another success.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Orleans: Marigny Brasserie

I am starting to feel a bit like a broken record, but what can I say another fantastic restaurant tonight. I went to dinner with all my co-workers that are down here. Marigny Brasserie is a very quaint and something that I have noticed about the restaurants down here are that they are not huge spaces, they are very intimate spaces with a lot of character. Tonight’s spread included frog legs, soft shell crab, and shrimp and grits. The most shocking to me was how much I liked the soft shell crabs.  I ordered the BBQ shrimp and grits with collard greens. The grits were creamy and buttery and the shrimp was cooked perfectly and the bbq flavor was subtle. After dinner we perused the dessert menu and to my delight the first item on the menu was bread pudding  (my favorite) we got one order for the table to share and to be honest I could have ate one by myself it was so good. After dinner we walked over to hi Ho lounge in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood to listen to a New Orleans style dirty brass band.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Orleans: Rambla

Rambla (in the International Hotel (has a street entrance))
The ambiance of this restaurant is wonderful from its rich red walls to its unique light fixtures. I love everything about this place the service was impeccable. The drink menu was extensive and unique. As was the dinner menu. Our server was very helpful with recommendations. We both ordered cucumber mint martinis, which were light and refreshing. This tapas style restaurant has its menu separated out into six areas Snacks, Salads, Charcuterie, Flatbreads, Small and Large. Here is our selection in order of the menu:

Chicharrones “Two-Ways” with Chimichurri and Charred Tomato Espuma

Roasted Heirloom Beets with Valdeon, Spiced Nuts, Sour Apple Jelly and Sugarcane Vinaigrette

Moroccan Spiced Pork and Duck Rillettes

Roasted Fig with Valdeon Blue Cheese, Serrano Ham and Bitter Greens

Spanish Style Pork Meatballs Toasted Pinenuts and Tomato Sherry Gastrique

I am really bummed that I did not take any pictures when we were here the presentation of the food was so unique. If you are ever in New Orleans you defiantly need to check out this place. Amazing!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Orleans: Stanley

I have to first say a big thank you to my friend Shelley for all of her great recommendations of places to check out while I was done here. For dinner tonight, my colleague Braulio and I decided to try one out. The spot: Stanley. This is a very low key restaurant located in Historic Jackson Square. It over looks a pedestrian street and a park making it very cozy and quiet. The menu had a variety of breakfast options that are served all day, sandwiches, soup and salads and house made ice cream. I totally missed this on the menu, it is on my list for the next time I am down here. I ordered the Eggs Benedict Po’ Boy and Blood Orange Italian soda. Braulio order the soft shell crab po’ boy and we got a side of onion rings to split. I would defiantly recommend this spot, especially as a late night snack spot.

New Orleans: Palace Cafe

First day in New Orleans, and after a brutal afternoon stuck in the hotel lobby cranking out some work I finally made it to lunch. I didn’t go far, actually just across the street to a place called Palace Cafe. It had great outdoor space, so my colleagues Katie, Kriston and I grabbed a nice table in the corner. The menu looked great. I decided to skip a salad, which I usually would have ordered and went for the andouille sausage, local shrimp penne in a mustard cream sauce. I know what you are thinking “that is a heavy meal for lunch” it was and it was delicious! When my dish arrived the shrimp had a face (thank goodness it was only one) after a brief tutorial on how to dismantle the shrimp we were in business. The shrimp were tender and succulent and the sausage was spicy. The sauce was a perfect combination of the mustard and cream. Other dishes that were order were the shrimp salad, all the shrimp in this dish had faces. Yikes. And the risotto, which looked good and got good compliments from the Kriston.

This was a good spot, a bit in the middle of the touristy area. I am not sure if I would recommend this place. The food was good, but there are better places off the beaten path that are far better.