Monday, August 31, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I got this recipe from my mom. For whatever reason, I think this buffalo chicken dip blows others I have tried out of the water. The Mr. likes it so much that he says he'd put in on a bun and eat it as a sandwich! Unfortunately for him, there's never any leftover...

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 c. cheddar cheese
(1) 8-oz. block of cream cheese, softened
6 oz. Frank's Red Hot sauce (either regular or "Wings" version works well)
1/2 c. Ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients and place in baking dish. Refrigerate 1-2 hours and then cook for 30-35 minutes. If unable to refrigerate, cook for 20-25 minutes. Serve with Tostitos Scoops.

A Note From The LL: In a hurry? Save yourself some time by buying fully-cooked refrigerated chicken strips from the deli area. One box of chicken strips, chopped into fine pieces, can easily substitute the two chicken breasts above.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

Serves 2.

This recipe was slightly adapted from It's a quick & easy, tasty fish recipe.

1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. bread crumbs (optional; see note below)
2 T. mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/8 t. dried basil
1/8 t. onion or garlic powder
1/8 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 lb. tilapia

Preheat broiler. Mix all ingredients except fish. Grease a broiler pan (or line with foil) and arrange fish on pan; season with salt and pepper. Broil on each side for 2-3 minutes. Cover with topping and broil until brown.

A Note From The Little Lady: I have made this both ways -- with and without breadcrumbs. I think my preferred version is without breadcrumbs, for two reasons: 1) With the breadcrumbs, the mixture is more of a paste and it can be tough to "spread" on the fish (especially with a blazing hot pan that's been under the broiler!) and 2) it has more of a breaded (obviously, I know) texture vs. the creamy texture of the mayo/cheese mixture. Try it both ways and see what you think.

Another Note: I've also tried lime juice (instead of lemon) and it works well too. You can barely even notice a difference.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise

Makes 1 drink.

Taken from Bartending by Maran Illustrated. A tasty classic!

1/2 oz. grenadine
1-1/2 oz. tequila
4 oz. orange juice

Add the grenadine to a highball glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes. Add the tequila and then orange juice. Stir to slightly blend colors. Watch the beautiful sunrise!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mixed Greens with Blue Cheese, Red Onion, & Nuts

Mixed Greens with Blue Cheese, Red Onion, & Nuts

Serves 8-10.

1 bag spring mix greens
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 can mandarin oranges
3/4 c. sliced, toasted almonds (I used peanuts due to tree nut allergy)
1 pkg. crumbled blue cheese
1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c. oil (I used vegetable)
4 T. sugar
4 T. vinegar (I used cider vinegar, red wine vinegar would also work well)
1 t. salt
pepper to taste, optional

Mix the salad dressing ingredients in a container with a lid, shake and refrigerate. Toss together lettuce, dressing, oranges, red onion, and blue cheese. Add nuts, mix and serve.

A Note From The Little Lady: If you make this ahead of time, add the nuts as close to serving time as possible, which will prevent them from getting cold and soggy. Tossing the dressing close to serving time is also recommended.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rosemary Chicken & Brie En Croute

Rosemary Chicken & Brie En Croute

Serves 2.

I found this recipe in Pillsbury's 36th Bake-Off Contest Cookbook. I love brie en croute, so finding a way to turn it into an entree sounded like a phenonmenal idea to me. Both The Mr. and I loved this.

1 (8-oz.) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
2 T. minced green onions
6 oz. Brie cheese, rind removed, cubed
1-1/2 c. chopped, cooked chicken breast
1 egg, beaten
1 t. crushed dried rosemary
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Separate dough into 4 rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal. Spoon 1/4 of minced onions onto the center of each rectangle; top with 1/4 of cubed Brie. Top each with 1/4 of chicken, pressing slightly into the cheese. Fold short ends over chicken, overlapping slightly. Fold open ends over about 1/2 inch to form a rectangle. Press all edges to seal.

A Note From The Little Lady: I made these up to this point and then froze them, wrapped well in plastic wrap. When we were ready to have them, I thaw and continued on with directions below.

Place seam side down on ungreased baking sheet. Cut three 1-inch slashes on top of each roll to allow steam to escape. Brush with egg; sprinkle with rosemary and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Another Note from The LL: The original recipe says this will serve four. The bundles are not that big, and, although rich, offer a fairly meager amount. If you are serving these with a few hearty sides, you could get by with one per person, but otherwise, it's pretty easy to eat two.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Woods

The Woods
21919 Center Ridge Road
Rocky River, Ohio

The Mr. has been wanting to check this place out for a while, so we did just that!

What we ate:
The LL: Chicken Florentine, $13.95
The Mr.: Large Make-Your-Own Pizza with grilled chicken and onion, $15

The restaurant originated in 1965, when it opened as Dominic's Pizza by Dominic and Vulia Chillemi. Chad and Trish Chillemi transformed the menu into The Woods in 1983: the pizza remains, but with the addition of several Italian entrees, sandwiches, and burgers. I specifically say "the menu" changed, because the restaurant itself looks as if it's still the original 1965 decor. "Dominic's Pizza" is still displayed throughout, and it just has that pizza parlor feel. The fact that they have church pews as seats is unique, and the food was good, but I think replacing the vinyl tablecloths would be an easy upgrade. I won't be impatient about scheduling a return visit, but I guess when I think about the food, both The Mr. and I really enjoyed what we got. Fattening, though it was, it was that satisfaction only comfort food can offer.

The Little Lady's Chicken Florentine: Crispy pan-friend chicken topped with spinach, bacon, and cheese; a side of fettuccine Alfredo.

The Mr.'s pizza: topped with grilled chicken and onions.
I'm not sure if it was the sauce or what, but this reminded me a little bit of Pizza Hut.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ward 8

Ward 8

Makes 1 drink.

Taken from Bartending by Maran Illustrated. Don't let the pink hue fool you.

2 oz. bourbon
1 oz. orange juice
1/2 lemon
1/2 oz. grenadine
1 maraschino cherry

Fill a shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add the bourbon, orange juice, juice from the lemon, and grenadine. Shake vigorously for 5 to 10 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Smoky Barbecued Pork Tenderloin with Molasses Mop

Smoky Barbecued Pork Tenderloing with Molasses Mop

Serves 4.

I found this recipe in Cooking Pleasures magazine and have adapted it just slightly. This smells awesome when you're grilling.

1 T. packed brown sugar
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. chile powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. paprika
2 (3/4-1 lb.) pork tenderloins
1/4 c. molasses
2 T. lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced

Heat grill. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, paprika, cumin, chile powder, and salt. Rub over pork tenderloins, pressing in all seasoning that falls off. In another small bowl, stir together molasses, lemon juice, and minced garlic.

Place pork on gas grill over medium heat. Grill 4 to 5 minutes or until browned on one side. Turn; baste with sauce. Continue turning and basting with sauce frequently 10 to 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160. Remove pork. Tent loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing (during this time, the internal temperature should continue to rise to the recommended temperature of 170 degree for pork).

A Note From The LL: This go well with corn on the cob. If you want, toss it on the grill too! For grilled corn-on-the-cob, check on this recipe.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

If you're anything like me, you need to read a book before you see its made-into-a-movie version. If you don't, you won't read the book. I love seeing a movie after I've read the book, but the other way around? Not so much.

I'm especially glad this was the case with Revolutionary Road. Although I wasn't all that wow-ed by the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which contained so much more detail and meat than the big screen version could handle. Building blocks that, in my opinion, adding so much to the novel, were completely left out of the movie. The characters couldn't quite achieve the depth that they did in the book.

At first, when I finished the book, I wasn't even sure that I liked it. It was kinda depressing and one of those books that, when it ended, you were just kinda left with that feeling of, "huh.. interesting." But when I looked back, it was also a book that I was always excited to pick up and read, and when I wasn't reading, I was looking forward to reading it. And, really, THAT, in my opinion, can be enough to dub something a "good book."

For those who aren't familiar with the book, here's Amazon's review of Revolutionary Road:

April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike's similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chocolate Syrup Brownies

Chocolate Syrup Brownies

I adapted this recipe for size only, from Gooseberry Patch's 5 Ingredients or Less cookbook. The brownies it made were... different than your standard box mix. They were extremely fudgy in texture, but didn't have the rich chocolately taste I expected. I'd make these again as an easy dessert, but I wasn't overly wild about the taste. I could see it being one of those recipes that go over with average reviews, with someone here and there absolutely loving them. They were quick and easy, though, and for that, I'm appreciative. Next time, I'll mix in chocolate chips and/or try to find a dark chocolate syrup.

12 oz. chocolate syrup
6 oz. (3/4 stick) butter, softened
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
*I'd recommend adding 3/4 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix chocolate syrup, butter, flour, and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. (Stir in chocolate chips). Pour into a greased 9x9 pan and bake for 25 minutes. Frost, if desired, or dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009



Makes ~2 cups.

This recipe is adapted from the first cookbook I ever received, Ohio P.E.O. Cooks II, given to me by my grandmother. I added the chopped green onion and substituted cooked and crumbled bacon for the recommended bottle of Bac-Os.

1 c. sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise
5 big strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tomato, diced (I prefer vine-ripened)
1/2 c. chopped green onion

Mix everything together in a bowl. Serve chilled with buttery Town House crackers, or something similar.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beer Dip

Beer Dip

Makes ~2 cups.

This recipe takes me back to college -- it was a sorority staple! First introduced to me by my Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters, it's quick, it's easy, it's addicting, and it has BEER in it, which makes it the obvious college munchie.

2 (8-oz.) blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 packet Ranch dressing or dip mix
1.5-2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (your preference)
~2 oz. beer

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. If you can, make this ahead of time and let it sit in the refrigerate for a few hours (even overnight if you want) to allow flavors to blend. Serve with mini pretzels.

A Note from The LL: I have used different beers in this dip, all with great success. For your first time making it, I'd recommend a fairly bland beer, such as Bud Light. Feel free to experiment after that. The most flavorful beer I've used was probably Great Lakes Glockenspiel Weizenbock, and although I was at first afraid that it might be a little TOO flavorful, it actually turned out to be a big hit!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Royal Icing

Royal Icing

My mom and I took a cake decorating class a few years ago. We are FAR from professionals, but learned a few basics, i.e. had more fun eating our frosting creations and chatting with classmates than actually perfecting our skills. I used royal icing to make the flowers for these basic yellow cupcakes. I used frosting tips #224, #3, and #10. Like any decorated cake, these are a little time-consuming but they are really easy and will definitely spruce up your basic cupcake.

5 T. meringue powder
1 pound powdered sugar
1/3 c. cold water

Combine meringue powder and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Add water 1 T. at a time. Mix at a medium speed for 10 minutes. For making flowers, you want the consistency to be more stiff. Soft peaks should form.

A Note From The Little Lady: To make this frosting thinner for flooding cookies, add 1-2 T. more water and beat for 2 more minutes.

Separate and tint with food coloring as desired. Form flowers on wax paper. Let sit for 6-8 hours in order to dry and harden completely. Adhere to a freshly-frosted cake/cupcake or stick using a little frosting on the bottom of each flower.

Another Note From The LL: Royal frosting gets hard as it dries. To prevent frosting from drying out before you want it to, store frosting in airtight containers until you are ready to use, and then tie a twisty at the top of your pastry bags when decorating.

I used frosting tips #10 (for flower petals below) and #3 (for flower center).

And the opposite (#3 for petals and #10 for center) for the flower below:

The tiny blooms (in between the purple and yellow flowers below) are made using frosting tip #224. Holding frosting bag straight up and down and with decorating tip just slightly above the wax paper, squeeze out frosting and left bag straight up and away. Simple. Easy. Yet makes a cute little flower. You could make hundreds of these in a few minutes!

Yellow Cake

Yellow Cake

Makes two 8- or 9-inch round layers, 24 cupcakes, or 48 mini cupcakes.

This recipe is from the book that came with my KitchenAid mixer.

2-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/3 c. sugar
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. shortening (I used 1 stick of butter)
1 c. low-fat milk, 1%
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a mixer bowl. Add shortening (or butter), milk, and vanilla. Attach flat beater to mixer and turn to speed 2, mixing about 1 minute. Stop and scrape bowl. Add eggs. Continuing on Speed 2, mix about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn to Speed 6 and beat about 1 minute.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 8- or 9-inch round baking pans (or 24 regular cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes or split between 12 regular and 24 mini cupcakes). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (for regular cupcakes 20-22 minutes; for mini 12-15 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack. Frost if desired.

Regular size cupcake:

Mini cupcake:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pesto Turkey Burgers

Pesto Turkey Burgers

Serves 4.

This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens. The mayo-ketchup combination tastes awesome with these burgers. Try it! And like I've mentioned before, the higher the fat percentage in the turkey you choose, the juicier the burger. The pesto in these, however, adds a lot of flavor and moisture.

1 lb. uncooked ground turkey
4 T. basil pesto
1/4 c. finely shredded Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t. salt
4 hamburger buns
desired toppings: I recommend at least mayonnaise and ketchup.

In a bowl, combine chicken, pesto, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and salt. Shape into four patties. Grill over medium heat.

A Note From The LL: These freeze well.

The Pub

The Pub
19304 Detroit Road
Rocky River, Ohio

The Pub is a convenient stroll from where The Mr. and I reside, so we've been there on multiple occasions. We decided to check out their Friday all-you-can-eat perch fry. Got the picture below from Google, as I forgot to take one of the exterior myself.

What we ate:
All-You-Can-Eat Perch Fry, $7.99

The Pub resides in the old Beachcliff Theater and is modeled after a British gastropub. It's a comfortable environment with good prices, decent food, and a wide variety of beers to choose from. Since The Mr. had to work the night shift, we passed on brews, but enjoyed the perch fry out on the patio. By the looks of it, I wasn't sure how impressed I'd be, but it was actually pretty good. For $7.99, it was definitely worth it. The tartar sauce was awesome. Definitely made it for me. Fries were... average. Not salty enough and kinda potato-y, but some people go for that kinda thing.

I like The Pub because it's close to us and I enjoy myself there. It's a nice option for an inexpensive meal and a good beer. Oh, and the servers all wear kilts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Players on Madison

Players on Madison
14523 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio

This was my first visit to Players on Madison, and I was accompanied by a few girlfriends as we celebrated the upcoming nuptials of one of them! After checking out the website, I found that Players on Madison is in the same family of restaurants as Cafe Sausalito, STAR at Playhouse Square, Stages at the Cleveland Playhouse, and Sweetwater Landing at the Rocky River Metroparks Emerald Necklace Marina.

What I drank:
Norton Sauvignon Blanc, $25 bottle split with friends

What I ate:
Small Make-Your-Own Pizza with arrabiata sauce, roasted shallots, and smoked bacon, $11.30

Players has an amazing back patio; one I'd put up in the ranks of Moosehead Saloon: small, quaint, and private. You would never guess you're on the corner of Madison and Belle! Luckily, even when the colder temperatures move in, the inside of Players offers great dining as well. Looks like a perfect date spot, which is convenient considering I wasn't with The Mr. on this first visit. :)

Since Players is celebrating their 25th anniversary, they are featuring a list of 18 bottles of wine for only $25. We jumped on this opportunity and ordered the Norton Sauvignon Blanc.

Maybe the service is great all around, or maybe we were just lucky to score an amazing server, but we were pampered by some of the best service I've had at a restaurant. She left us alone to enjoy a fun, leisurely night out, yet was attentive enough to make sure we had full glasses, etc. She offered to take a group picture for us, had good recommendations and menu knowledge, and brought out a celebratory ice cream sundae in honor of the bachelorette!

I ordered a small make-your-own pizza with arrabiata sauce, roasted shallots, and smoked bacon.

The pizza itself didn't leave a strong lasting impression on me, but I think that's moreso because I was enjoying the atmosphere and company so much. I know that I enjoyed it, and I'm confident enough to say that I would order it again, so it was definitely good, but I think my rave about the restaurant currently lies more in the atmosphere. But, like I think I've mentioned before, I'm an atmosphere kind of girl.

If you haven't been to Players on Madison, I strongly suggest you check it out. It'd be a great place to enjoy happy hour drinks and appetizers out on the patio (Sunday-Thursday 5pm-7pm), to celebrate a birthday, or simply reconnect with your main squeeze. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

A Note From The Little Lady: Players also offers carry-out (mention the website's "Carry Out Discount" for 15% off) and a home delivery service through

Monday, August 10, 2009

Irish Cream Crème Brûlée

Irish Cream Crème Brûlée

Serves 2.

This was my first attempt at Crème Brûlée, and I can say that it came out surprisingly well. I was afraid of it before, but I've found that, although it takes some extra attention, it's actually not all that difficult. I researched a ton of different recipes, before coming up with this one - my own small batch version! The Irish Cream proved to be a wonderful addition!

1 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1.5 T Irish Cream liqueur
2 t. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place 2 ramekins on a towel set in a baking pan at least 3 inches deep (I used a 9x9 baking pan).

Stir together cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook until very hot, stirring until sugar dissolves. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, and Irish cream until combined. Slowly add 1/3 of the hot cream, whisking in 2 T. at a time until incorporated. Once you had added in 1/3 of the hot cream, you can add in the rest without worrying about the mixture curdling.
Pour custard into ramekins, then fill roasting pan with boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins (I needed ~4 c. boiling water). Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until set. If it's "set" before 30 minutes, don't hesitate to take it out early. "Set" means that when you gently shake the baking pan, the custard will jiggle slightly.

Cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate until cold, approximately 4 hours.

To create sugary crust, uncover ramekins and sprinkle 1 t. brown sugar on top of each. Shake to cover entire top surface, and then shake off excess sugar.
Under a preheated broiler, brown until deep brown, approximately 2 minutes. Don't let it burn!

Refrigerate until cold. Serve and enjoy!

A Note From The LL: Obviously, if you have a hand torch, use that. I don't own one, used the broiler, and it still created a nice crust.

Chicken Parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana with Homemade Marinara Sauce

Serves 2.

The Mr. loves chicken parmigiana, so this was an easy decision when I was planning his special meal. He raved about it throughout the entire meal, which, as the cook, is the best compliment you can get. The homemade sauce makes it that. much. better.

Homemade marinara sauce (recipe below)

Spaghetti, cooked to package directions

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)
1/4 c. flour
1 egg
1/2 Panera Asaigo Cheese bagel
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1 t. Italian seasoning
3 T. olive oil
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Marinara sauce:

1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped

1 can (28 oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried parsley
1 t. salt
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1 T. sugar

Make marinara sauce by first sauteing onion, garlic and tomato in olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan (this will later hold all of the sauce, so choose size wisely). After onions have become soft, add stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices (except sugar) to the saucepan. Using a potato masher, mash until sauce is chunky and at desired consistency (if you prefer a smoother sauce, food process stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices BEFORE adding to the saucepan). Add sugar, and let simmer to allow flavors to combine.

Meanwhile, make chicken parmigiana by first flattening chicken breasts between plastic wrap. Chicken should be no more than 1/3" thick. Place bagel in a food processor and process into crumbs. Into three separate shallow containers, place flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumb/parmesan cheese/seasoning mixture. Dredge chicken in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumb mixture.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is very hot, add chicken to skillet and cook for approximately 10 minutes until golden brown, flipping halfway through.

Prepare baking pan by layering half of marinara sauce, top with chicken, more sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is melted and dish is bubbly.
Serve with spaghetti.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Serves 3.

Forgive the picture above. I know, I know, I should've placed it under the broiler to melt that cheese in appropriate French Onion Soup fashion. Don't let the picture sway you, though! The soup was fantastic! I was given the recipe by a friend of my sister-in-law. The only changes I made was to make it a smaller bath, and the substitution of the Asaigo cheese bagel as croutons. Mmmm.

2 medium yellow onions, halved, peeled, and thinly sliced
2/3 T. olive oil
2/3 T. sugar
1/3 t. dried thyme
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14.5 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c. dry red wine

1/2 Panera Asaigo cheese bagel
Olive oil
Shredded white cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a roasting pan, toss together onions, oil, sugar, thyme, 2/3 t. salt, and a dash of pepper. Cover tightly with foil; cook until steamed, about 30 minutes. Uncover; stir and cook 1 hour more until onions are golden and carmelized, stirring every 30 minutes.
Transfer onion mixture to a large saucepan (reserve roasting pan); stir in broth and 2 c. water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until liquid has darkened, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the roasting pan over medium heat and deglaze by adding the wine. Scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon or scraper to loosen any browned bits. Simmer until reduced and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Pour liquid (and browned bits) into soup. Season with salt and pepper. (If making ahead, allow to cool and then refrigerate. If freezing, let cool completely before transferring to airtight containers, leaving 1" at top.)
Make croutons by cutting Asaigo cheese bagel into chunks. Brush with olive oil and place under broiler until browned, about 2 minutes (I toss after a minute to evenly brown). Watch these carefully! You don't want them to burn, and, under the broiler, that can happen quickly.
To serve, divide soup among bowls; garnish with croutons and top with shredded cheese. Place under broiler, if desired, until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

A Note From The Little Lady: We got lazy (and excited to eat!) and skipped the last broiling step. Should have done it. Oh well. The cheese melted quickly from the hot soup, and it still tasted great.

Celebration Menu

Celebration Menu

If you own a "You Are Special Today" red plate and have a reason to use it, this could be the menu for you! I made this for The Mr. after he took an 8-hour boards exam during his fourth year of medical school. Months of studying and that many hours of testing later, he deserved a special meal! I choose all three things because, well, they're his favorites!

French Onion Soup

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Classic Manhattan

Classic Manhattan

Makes 1 drink.

This is a manly man's drink. The Mr. made it. I tried a sip. And gave it back. Tasted much like straight whiskey and not much at all like anything else.

2.5 parts bourbon
1/2 part sweet vermouth
maraschino cherry

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add bourbon and sweet vermouth. Do not shake, but instead gently stir ingredients in a circular motion, being careful not to break the ice cubes (The LL's Translation: Heaven forbid you should add any water). Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Friday, August 7, 2009



600 Dover Center Road
Bay Village, Ohio
(440) 835-9100

The Mr. and I had been to Arrabiata's twice for dinner before making this lunch outing. The first time we were impressed, but the second time left us a little disappointed. I'm not sure if we were swayed by the environment - visit #1 was a beautiful fall evening, and we sat out on the patio and fell in love with their homemade Ranch dressing. Visit #2 was a frigid winter night, we sat in direct aim of the gusts of cold air that came through the main entrance, and we ordered Caesar salads, thinking it was THAT dressing that we loved. So upon our return, I wasn't sure what we'd feel when we left. Granted, lunch is always a different motive. Get in, get out, spend minimally, and leave satisfied.

What I ate:
Insalata Italian, $9

What The Mr. ate:
Side salad, with Ranch of course, $2.5
Veal Cacciatore, $8.50

We both drank water.

While we browsed the menu, we were given some bread and butter. The bread's average - it seems like they try to warm it up in the oven but instead it ends up making the crust too hard and crumbly. The inside, still soft and warm, though, is enjoyable with the homemade flavored butter.
The Insalata Italian (from their summer salads menu) was a big salad topped with grilled chicken, tomato, onion, mozzarella cheese, and an olive oil and garlic dressing. Served alongside was garlic butter ciabatta bread (yum). Because, as I mentioned earlier, we love their Ranch, I asked for both dressings on the side. I ended up going back and forth between each one, which says a lot for the olive oil and garlic! Warning: This salad is terrific, but be prepared to battle the stench it leaves in your mouth. Between the garlic bread, garlic dressing, and onions, it's a powerful salad.

The Mr. said he really enjoyed his veal, which came with a side of spaghetti marinara. We've decided their marinara sauce isn't very good, which is a sad thing to say considering it's an Italian restaurant... There's just not much to it.

I wouldn't rave about the food, but the atmosphere is cozy, the service has always been good, and prices are fairly inexpensive. And if the weather's nice, the patio's decent as well. I would be lured to return for their happy hour, which boasts $5 bar foods and $5 martinis. Oh, and happy hour is also effective during all Indians and Cavs games. Sorry, Browns, no special treatment for you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob

Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob

Serves 2.

2 ears of corn, shucked
1 T. butter

Butter and salt corn, and then place in the middle of a rectangle of foil. Fold foil around corn, loosely sealing closed on top. Place foil-wrapped corn directly on medium-low grill and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Chipotle Cilantro Rice

Chipotle Cilantro Rice

Serves 4

You can find plenty of copycat recipes of Chipotle's rice. This is one of them. The Mr. LOVES rice and LOVES Chipotle, and, thankfully, this pleased his tastebuds. In his words, it was "gold," and I think he was just as excited about the prospect of adding some soy sauce to the next-day leftovers.

1 c. long-grain rice
2 c. water
4 t. vegetable oil
3 T. fresh cilantro
1/2 lime, juice of

In a small saucepan, heat rice, water, 1 t. oil, and salt until boiling. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When water skims the top of the rice (you may have to remove from heat momentarily to see if this is happening), reduce to low and cover about 15 minutes. Shut off flame and let sit for an additional 5 minutes.
Mix cilantro, lime, and 3 t. oil in with rice and serve.

Tequila-Honey-Lime Marinated Chicken

Tequila-Honey-Lime Marinated Chicken

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, July 2009

The flavors in this weren't as strong as I was expecting, so don't be overwhelmed by the main trio. They actually create a fairly subtle flavored chicken. The honey makes an almost carmelized crust on the chicken when grilled. The original recipe calls for drumsticks, which, having had it with boneless, skinless breasts, I can understand why this marinade would be great for drumsticks.

Serves 3-4

1/4 c. white tequila
1/4 c. oil
1/4 c. honey
2 limes, juiced
1/2 t. salt
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Whisk together tequila and oil, and then whisk in honey, lime juice, and salt. Cover and refrigerate marinade up to 2 days.
Place chicken in a self-sealing plastic bag in a shallow dish. Add marinade, seal, and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.
Drain, discard marinade. Grill over medium-low heat.

For a complete meal, serve with Chipotle Cilantro Rice and Grilled Corn on the Cob.

Fresh Strawberry Marg-alrightas

Fresh Strawberry Marg-alrightas

Adapted from Rachael Ray's "Classic 30 Minute Meals"

Serves 2

These were terrific! The fresh strawberries made for a drink that smelled great, tasted great, and offered that islandy feel that, let's be honest, who doesn't appreciate? It was enough margarita, yet not too strong. Any drink that involves a blender HAS to have a great outcome, because, for me, if it doesn't, it's not worth the clean-up that follows. This one passes the test. I typically go for a salted rim with margaritas, but the strawberry addition made me want to pass on this one.

Shout out to The Little Lady's brother and his girlfriend for providing The Mr. and I with such great margarita glasses!

~1 pint ripe strawberries (I used 10 strawberries)
The juice of 1 lime
1 T. Rose's lime juice (or an additional lime)
4 T. sugar
1/4 c. orange juice
4 shots good-quality tequila
1 tray ice cubes
coarse salt to rim glasses, if desired

Reserve two strawberries to garnish the rims of your margarita glasses. Trim remaining strawberries.
Add strawberries, lime juice, sugar, orange juice, tequila, and ice cubes to a blender. Blend on high until the drink is icy, but smooth.
Pour into margarita glasses (rimmed with salt, if desired), and garnish with a strawberry.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Berry Cobbler

Berry Cobbler

Serves 2.

I'm borrowing this tasty recipe from Gia of, and it is my knowledge that this is actually a Weight Watchers recipe. Go figure! You could easily serve this without anyone wondering if it's "on a diet." The only changes I made was a reduction in size. Perfect for 2!

2 c. berries of your choice (I used raspberries and strawberries)
1/8 c. sugar
1 T corn starch
1/8 t. salt

1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. sugar
1/4 t. baking powder
1/8 t. baking soda
1/8 t. salt
1/4 c. buttermilk (I didn't have any, so I used 1% milk and it worked out fine)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix berries with sugar, corn starch, and salt, and add to a small baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together dry ingredients, and then slowly add milk until dough is sticky. Remove berries from oven, "plop" dough in two (or three) places, and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Red Potato Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Red Potato Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Serves 2-3

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.

6 small red potatoes
3 T. coarse salt, such as sea salt
1/4 c. blue cheese + additional for garnish
1/2 c. buttermilk (or plain yogurt)
1 t. red -wine vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
2 green onions, chopped
3 strips of bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

Place potatoes and the salt in a medium saucepan. Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes can be pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes. Drain, and let cool slightly. Halve potatoes.
Meanwhile, mix blue cheese, buttermilk, vinegar, and mustard in a bowl until well combined.
Combine potatoes, dressing, green onions, and almost all of the bacon in a large bowl. Garnish with blue cheese, green onions, and remaining bacon.