Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving on Indian Lake

Sunrise Thanksgiving morning - lots to be thankful and grateful for...

Rick believes there is a Turkey Protection Program here in South Padre - these Turkeys are in costume.

Mushrooms - just out of the oven. Pretty gosh darn tasty!

This is a random Indian Lake bean bag game with variable rules. Tom and Aggie seem to like it though :D

Dinner with a whole lotta Indian Lakers. Some really amazing dishes at this pot luck!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Suzee's Peas and Onions with Champagne Cream Sauce

We went to the Indian Lake Potluck Thanksgiving this year, and Rick was hoping for some peas and onions. Usually we just buy them frozen, but here in South TX there was not even a package of frozen onions to be had.

I did find some raw pearl onions and figured, what the heck - lets try and make some from scratch.

I blanched the onions for 3 - 4 minutes to get the skins off (3 ten ounce packages). I figured out early on that if you leave the root end attached, and slice off the other end, you can pretty easily peel off the outter layer and slice it off the onion. I tried the "slip the skins off" method, but my onions were not cooperating.

In a stock pot I added about a 1/2 cup of flour and 3 or 4 T of butter. I stirred them together to make a roux and continued stirring as they cooked on medium for 2 - 3 minutes. I added a can of low sodium chicken broth, and whisked this together until smooth. Next I added 1/2 bottle of Asti Spumanti (Mom's fave for a holiday). Once it stopped bubbling from the carbination, I simmered it a bit to allow it to thicken. Maybe 5 or 10 minutes. I added some salt and freshly ground pepper, and I'll tell you the sauce tasted pretty gosh darn good at this point, so I added back the onions and also added 2 lbs of frozen peas. I let the the veggies simmer for about 10 minutes. After that I added about 1/2 - 3/4 cup half and half, and heated it through. I added more salt and pepper at this point as after the cream addition, it definitely needed some adjustments.

I consider this recipe a success - the 25 or so folks at the pot luck enjoyed them, as did Rick. Next time though I think I would make these adjustments.

Add the peas at the end, so they stay a nice bright green.
Consider going without the cream at all - the sauce was really nice even without it.
Add some tarragon to the mix - I think that would really make it special.

If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A perfect day on the Island!

We had a belated birthday celebration for my father's 21st celebration of his 50th birthday. I thought he would like an apron for making his famous black bean soup!

I was able to finagle a trip to the Palm Street Pier for our celebraton - I'm sure glad my father likes it too!

Last night we also had a great swim in the pool and I got to see the sunset over at Coconuts. Every sunset on South Padre Island is a good one :D

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Long Plane Ride

We took our Dial 7 car to the airport, and went through all the airport hassles. Then we waited for our plane like good doobies, and once we got seated, Rick's Kindle died. Seriously. We were about to spend 7 hours in a cramped airplane cabin, and he didn't have any reading material. Thankfully mine still worked, and I had a couple magazines with me. At the next stop (they stopped 2ce, but we were not to deboard) I used the wifi to download a couple books to my kindle phone app. Course my phone is not designed to be on all the time, and the battery died with about 45 minutes left of the flight.

We did call Amazon customer service at the first stop to get some help. They had no idea what was happening, and suggested they would send a new one to us, and we could return the dead one. We were able, after some negotiation, to get the new Kindle sent to my parent's place, and for them to get it to us for tomorrow. So half the vacation without the numerous books we downloaded specifically for this trip :( One day at a time, right?

Yesterday we got some fish tacos at the Palm Street Pier (my favorite spot), and watched the Patriots spank the Colts. Good day :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Share Our Strength Party Pack

Hickory Farms is offering a Party Planning gift pack for $40 where they donate $5 for each package to Share Our Strength. SOS fights hunger in America. As a part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program, I received my Party Planning gift pack today, and I must say - the presentation is really top notch. The package arrived in great shape, and I looked forward to opening it up to see what was inside!

I like to give food gifts - things that people don't buy themselves. Hickory Farms isn't what I would usually choose, but I must say, it's an afforable option which can be easily shipped. The added feature of supporting a great organization is a bonus in my book.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Creamy Champagne Chicken Soup

My friends Jennifer and MJ came to visit not too long ago, and I think that's why I've been reminiscing about them lately. We went to UNH together, played and danced and did all that college stuff. After college, I was a bridesmaid at their wedding, visited when babies were born, and shared lots of dinner parties at their house and mine.

MJ is one of the pickiest eaters I've ever met (well, perhaps Rick is that picky too). At any rate, during the dinner parties, we tried new dishes and socialized at home where we could be comfortable and spend a few less dollars. MJ was always a wonderful guest, and we always had fun, but it was tradition that he would stop on the way home from dinner at McDonalds - I think he used to get a quarter pounder with cheese because he was hungry. I served a lot of fish because I loved it, but he did not. Thanks MJ for coming despite the menus I subjected to you :) You are my favorite non-eating dinner guest :)

Now Jen would make delicious meals (which yes, MJ liked haha!) and this one dish she made was called Champagne Chicken. It has been too long to remember any specifics except that it had champagne and chicken in it, and was a great use for left over champagne. I remember I really liked it.

So, for some reason the other day I was thinking about all of this as I was making chicken noodle soup. Interestingly I had a heavy 1/2 bottle of left over champagne. Thanks Jen for inspiring this yummy dish!

12 C Home made chicken stock
1 lb raw boneless chicken, in a small dice ( use cooked chicken and add at the end)
1+ lb carrots, peeled and diced (be sure it's pretty small to get a few things on your spoon and to ensure they cook)
1/2 lb egg noodles
1t dried thyme
1t dried tarragon
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1/2+ bottle left over champagne

sour cream for finishing

Heat the chicken stock with the carrots.
When it starts to simmer, add the chicken and the spices.
After 10 - 15 minutes, add the champagne and the noodles. Stir to ensure all the noodles get wet, and let simmer for 10 minutes or so. Add the chicken now if you used cooked chicken. Don't mix it for these 10 minutes so the noodles don't get gummy.
After 10 minutes, it may seem a little stiff. Add water, 1 cup at a time, until it's the soup consistency you like.
Heat through.

Serve in a bowl or a mug, and stir in a spoonful of sour cream

This is a really tasty option, and you feel good for using up that champagne!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rain on Broadway

Last night I had the opportunity to see Rain on Broadway, a tribute to the Beatles. I let my friends know I was going, and I was surprised to hear the multiple view point comments. It seems there is a love/hate relationship with the public, which I would not have guessed. This show is all about the music, and I have to say I'm not a huge Beatle fan - I don't own any of their recordings, but I don't turn off the radio if one of their songs comes on. Honestly, I wanted to learn more about the history of the Beatles and consider how they influenced music of their time and mine. The bonus was it was a very entertaining history lesson!

With the multimedia insertion to the show, I was very impressed with how the show reminded you really how different life was in the these decades, especially when the Beatles first burst on the scene. Hindsight is 20/20, and it looked to me that the Beatles were just as influenced by America, as America was influenced by the Beatles. I prefer the pop-like music from the early Beatle sounds. The sound and video were very cool - and it felt authentic. The songs were raw without any electronic smoothing, and I loved how each vocalist was really such a fabulous musician!

The actor playing the Paul McCartney character was simply amazing. He didn't look like Paul per se, but his gestures, dancing, awesome hair and interacting with the band - after a few minutes, you knew exactly who he is portraying. It seems he was also in Beatlemania (the previous Beatles Tribute, which I did not see), so I can only imagine how much time he spent capturing these physical nuances.

Rain is only on Broadway until January 9th - it is a great show for young and old alike - it is fun and you can't help but smile.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lincoln Center in the Evening

Just outside Lincoln Center is the infamous Empire Hotel. If you are in the area, I encourage you to go so you can say "I've been there!"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Suzee's Grapefruit Glazed Layer Cake

I was feeling a little restless today. There weren't any jobs posted that sounded interesting, the one contact I was able to connect with didn't have any time to chat today. Perhaps tomorrow.

I started browsing through the Foodbuzz Top 9, and came upon the number one today and it inspired me to make a cake. This is really not anything fancy - I had a cake mix in the cupboard for French Vanilla cake. I made it according to the directions (but if I do it again I would add a cup of sour cream like my MIL does - that adds a great crumb and moisture) in 2 eight inch round pans. I let it cool, and flipped one layer and placed it on the plate top side down. I added about a cup or so of Stonewall Kitchen's Mimosa Jam (oh my so delicious!) and spread it over the top of the lower layer. I put the next layer on top. Then I mixed about a cup and a half of confectioners sugar with about 2T of grapefruit juice, and mixed them together - it took some time, but don't add more liquid - it will come together. I tasted it and it needed something to cut the sweetness so I added a couple of scrapes of orange zest. That did the trick!

I drizzled the glaze over the top, and licked the spoon (yum!)

I hope you enjoy pairing these flavors - I'm in a big grapefruit phase - expect more :) xo

Friday, November 12, 2010

Suzee's Beef Stroganoff Soup

As a part of the Tastemakers Program with Foodbuzz, I was able to replentish my supplies of Lea and Perron's Worcestershire Sauce. I got my coupons for freebies, and shared them with my family.

My cousins, Denise and Ginny, always have great beef recipes using this really uniquely flavored condiment, and I think their mom, my Aunt Beth, would use this a lot too. It's that little something that makes you go hmmm.... yum! What is that??

I also like to make soups of the flavor of things that may be too rich to eat as just a dish. Adding water gives me more bites of delicious flavor :) So this experiment came out pretty good :)

1 32 oz carton of Rachael Ray Beef Stock
1/2 lb browned ground beef
1 1/2 minced onion
10 oz package of button mushrooms, minced and sauteed
8 hefty shakes of Lea and Perron's Worcestershire sauce
1/2 C red wine
1/2 C brown rice (uncooked)
2 C water

sour cream to stir in at serving time.

Add all together and allow to cook for a few hours on low. It worked best for me to pop the pan in the oven on 300 and let it go :)

I read an interesting article from the magazine which is associated with America's Test Kitchen. They tested a number of beef broths, and the Rachael Ray Beef Stock In A Box won by a mile - she actually uses 2x the beef products to make the stock. I think it also really made a difference in this dish.

I like to leave the sour cream out until you serve it as then you can determine how much you want to add, and then of course it's easier to reheat as well :)


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Empire Hotel - Papparazzi Heaven

I went to the Empire Hotel rooftop bar to get this shot of the iconic sign. I reference the papparazzi because I think it is impossible to pick up a rag and not read about some big star partying there the week before. I went at around 7 pm, and I'm here to tell you, this is before blue hair time for the hip and happening for NYC :) Still, I enjoyed my cocktail, and the view :)

Here is my cocktail at the Empire Hotel Rooftop Lounge :)

STRAWBERRY FIELDS - Grey Goose Citron Vodka, fresh strawberries, lemon juice and simple syrup, topped with prosecco

I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre

I was just at the store because I needed some sour cream for my soup, and I walked by the beer aisle and this beer called me. "Suzee, Suzee - I am delicious and I won't be here when you come back later. Buy me! Buy me!" So, as you can imagine, I did.

I cracked it when I got home, and wow - it was so delicious! I looked on the Dogfish Head web site, and they suggested to drink it from a goblet or snifter, so I poured it into a wine glass. I was really surprised difference in flavor between a swig from the bottle and a sip from a glass! The ale beery bitterness cut through the lager like initial taste in the bottle. While I was on the web, I found that each bottle has 9% alcohol, and 220 calories (wow!), so take this in to consideration if you decide to have a second one :)

Really, this is a delightful beer - if you see it in the store, fork over that $14.00. You won't be sorry!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Suzee's New England Shepard's Pie

There is no lack of Irish Pubs serving Shepard's Pie in NYC, but none are the same dish Rick and I ate in the school cafeteria or that our mom's made when we were kids. Out and about this classic is made with carrots and peas (hello? where is the corn?), but perhaps that is because corn was a North American thing?

At any rate, if we want some of that original deliciousness, we gotta make it at home. And that's ok, because it is a homey meal :) This recipe serves 2, but you can easily make a larger portion and reheat for leftovers. Our problem would be we would eat it all if I made more than 2 servings!

1/2 lb low fat hamburger
1 small or 1/2 large onion
1 can cream style corn
2 large or 3 small potatoes (I like yukon gold best for this)
1t olive oil
1T butter (salted please)
1/4 C milk or whatever you put in your coffee
1/2t garlic powder, divided

Peel the potatoes, and cut into similar sized pieces. Put them in a pot with water covering them, and boil while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Mince the onion small - you want a few onion pieces to be in every bite

Sautee the onion over low heat in the olive oil - allow it to go for a 1/2 hour or so, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and sweet

Move the onions into a bowl, and start browning the ground beef. Add almost all the garlic powder to the meat as it is browning. Once the meat is cooked through, add back the onions, mix and put the mixture in the bottom of the casserole (I use a 2 quart dish).

Check your potatoes - if they are cooked, turn off the stove, drain, and add the butter and milk to the pan along with the cooked potatoes. Put the top on the pan to keep warm.

Add the creamed corn over the beef mixture in the baking dish.

Mash the potatoes in the pan, and top the casserole with the potatoes.

I actually put the casserole in the fridge at this point, but you could pop it in the oven for 20 minutes and serve.

Since I took it out of a cold fridge, I baked for 50 min, covered at 350. It was really tasty :)

If I were to make any changes, it would be to add more corn to the mix - it adds this sweetness to the savory beef - really good!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Latest Family Shots

We got a family stop at Petey's. The softshell twins were down to $14.59! Everyone but Jill partook in these delicious crustacians. They were so sweet and delicious - don't miss them this season.

Jilly was excited and happy when I got to NH - she came with Grammy and Grampa to pick me up at the bus station. And that night we played, Jilly showed us her Tinkerbell pajamas and her favorite toys.
Jilly found some princess dresses in storage in the basement - always a good thing to shop in your own closet I say!
We went shopping at the mall to get a new winter coat - after a few days with no naps, it was a challenging trip, but I love this photo of Grammy and Jilly on their way to the store, hand in hand :)

One day it was rainy and not very nice out. Jilly and I went to Rumble Tumble, and she is big enough now that she can run around on her own. I was especially touched to see her helping a younger girl throught the big rumble tumble maze.