Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jingle Jingle!

So what seems like a year ago, but was really this past December, we went to the Deer Head Inn for their Jingle Jingle event.  We had a blast for so many reasons, but here are some of the highlights.  Joy Mazur did a wonderful spoken word piece about if everyday were Christmas.   Johnny Rydell was outrageously fun and it makes me wish he spent more time on the stage at Sarah St instead of adjusting the sound!  Sara Bauer did some Santaland Diaries fun.  If you haven't read it, do!  My favorite, Bovine Social Club got up and rocked the house.  The Shockenaw Mountain Boys were also incredible even if they were missing a few band members.  If you like Railroad Earth, then you know and like Tim Carbone already and this is another great project that he is involved in.  Tim also got up at one point and did an incredible spoken word which I wish I could remember because it was great!  I also learned a new turn of phrase that night, "new grass".  This definitely describes the awesome music we heard that night.
Now on to the food!  If you ever have the opportunity to go to the Deer Head, you won't be disappointed.  We started with a really nice house salad and a cup of butternut squash soup with almonds.  I love butternut squash soup especially with a little dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.  Perfect toasty feeling for a cold night.  I think it could have done with a small bit of heat or acid to balance it a little better because this particular incarnation tasted a little too much like dessert to me.  Delicious, but sweet.  I absolutely love their stuffed flounder and get it almost every time we go there.  It's got a wonderful lemon beurre blanc sauce that I must learn to make.  John always gravitates to their chicken pot pie, and I can't say I blame him.  It's topped with a crispy, chewy, buttery puff pastry that is divine.  We ended the night with their creme brulee because it is an absolute must any time we go there.  The sugar top is crisp and caramel-ly and the custard is cold and creamy.  Mmmmm... I could go for some right now!  Oh and lest I forget, I won the 50/50!  It basically covered our dinner and also got me a lovely poster of the event autographed by some of the players!  All in all, it was a really fun night and I'm glad that we went and I'm really glad I finally got the opportunity to blog about it!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Make Ahead Meal: Baby Spinach with Bacon and Eggs

I absolutely love this recipe and I am barely an eggs for breakfast person let alone for dinner.  I have made it with the Swiss chard but this time I decided to do baby spinach.  If you haven't had Swiss chard, it is similar to spinach but I recommend that you remove the stalks.  This is very easy to do if you grab it by the end and pull upwards.  This works with kale as well and this recipe works well with kale.  If you use kale, Swiss chard or regular spinach, allow for some extra cooking time.  The baby spinach took very little time to cook down.  I love the idea of garlic bread and eggs and now I want garlic bread for breakfast!  We got our bacon from the butcher case of the meat department and I urge you to try it if it's available.  It was cheaper and really bacony! :)
I wish the colors were more true as this was a really beautiful dish that was just as nice to look at as to eat.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Make Ahead Meals: Pork and Ginger Noodle Soup and Pork Fried Rice

We love a good soup in this house and boy is this a good soup!  I had never worked with rice noodles before and the directions are very helpful.  All of the ingredients are work well together and create a very "Asian" style flavor.  If you don't like bok choy, you can always replace it with a different green or take it out completely.  If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it especially if you can track down the baby bok choy that the recipe calls for.  It cooks out to a really beautiful bright green color and is not quite as bitter as full bok choy.  If you like spinach, definitely try it.  I have made this and other soups like it before and subbed in spinach as well as salad greens which work wonderfully.  Unless of course all you have is iceberg lettuce.  Then just skipped the greens!  If you've never used hot chili oil before, use it sparingly at first and add more to taste as that is a flavor that sneaks up on you!  Enjoy this delicious soup with something else with an Asian flavor such as the Make Ahead Pork Fried Rice.  This recipe is fantastic.  Unbelievable fast and easy especially if you have the rice and pork already prepared.  This is the best fried rice I have ever had and I can't wait to make it again!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Make Ahead Meals: Creamy Chicken with Soft Polenta

I have been looking forward to this post for a while!  This chicken recipe is by far my favorite thing that I make from this collection.  The ingredients work together flawlessly and it comes together surprisingly quickly.  I had never worked with polenta before this and had only eaten it once or twice so I was very curious as to how this would go.  Polenta may actually be the easiest starch I have ever worked with.  It takes three minutes to make and as long as you don't have an attention span problem and can focus on it for three minutes, it is very easy to make.  If you do wander away from it, it can become lumpy, so dedicate those three minutes and you will be glad you did.
This recipe is not for the calorie faint of heart as it does involve heavy cream and is just all over luxurious.  As always you can alter this recipe to your heart's desire.  I love mushrooms but not everyone does, so you could substitute some other element in for the mushrooms or skip them all together.  I also really love the roasted butternut squash in this dish but keep in mind that it does sweeten it along with the heavy cream, so if you don't like to mix sweet and savory, you may want to omit or sub them as well.  It also calls for peas which I'm not a huge fan of but I have found that frozen peas lately are getting a lot better, so the choice is yours.  The end of the recipe calls for fontina to be added to the polenta but it doesn't give a measurement or even mention it in the ingredient list so I have used any number of cheeses in varying amounts in it's place.  Really whatever grate-able cheese you like will be very nice and you can put in as much as you want as long as you keep stirring until smooth.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family does!