Are You A Food-Centered Family?

We are well into 2015, and I finally got a chance to mentally take in the gifts I received over Christmas. So much is going on in my family, and in everyone’s family, over the month of December: traveling from one coast to another, traveling from one house to another, eating at, possibly, every new spot in Cleveland, Ohio, buying and giving gifts, sending and getting Holiday cards, carting Monsieur all over the country (kind of), dealing with a stolen wallet (fortunately that doesn’t happen every December), and the million other things that make up the busiest time of the year. It seems that with so many things going on, it’s easy to miss out on the things going on around us.

One of the gifts I received was Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2013 from my mother-in-law. I love these annual cookbooks. I get to pull out the old magazines I’ve been saving and transfer any notes of mine from the magazines to the cookbook, and then send the magazines off to a good home. It makes me feel so organized.

The note from the editor, Scott Mowbray, caught my eye from the October 2012 publication. “Sign of a food-centered family: During one meal, they talk about what the next meal will be.”  Hmmm.  This idea was brought up while he was interviewing Chef Ming Tsai.  Chef Ming explains how important food was to his family, and his Dad would always take photos of the food they shared.  Ahead of his time, right?  Mowbray notes that we, hopefully, eat about 82,000 meal throughout our lives, and we should remember them.  I would add to that point that we should respect them as well because meals are more than a plate of food in front of us.  Think about a family meal – it indicates we are healthy enough to enjoy a meal, we have money in order to purchase what is in front of us, and we have loved ones surrounding us.  Now being food-centered can turn a little crazy quickly, and we’ve all been there, too.  For example, I’m sitting with my family at a restaurant for lunch and we start talking about what we will eat for dinner, or I’m out to dinner with friends and I start discussing lunch options for the following day with my husband.  There is a fine line between enjoying a moment and taking it in and rushing through a moment in order to get to the next moment.  I hope I take the time with each eating event, and I will be more mindful that I do so in the future.  But this does not mean I will stop thinking or discussing the next meal!  Again, it’s that fine balance between appreciating and anticipating.  I think it can be done in a healthy way.

But this editorial note got me thinking: Is everyone like me, Chef Ming, and the Cooking Light editor?  Does everyone think about the next meal while they are still seated at a table?  Is this common?  Of course I love cooking and eating, so every meal is usually an adventure for me.  Why wouldn’t I look forward to the next one?  And if you are reading this, you probably feel the same way about food.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

And in the spirit of thinking about the next meal, I’m listing the meals I made, and will make, this week for dinner.  I’ve added the links so that you can easily access the recipe if you so desire.

Nutty Vegetable Sauté (http://www.meatlessmonday.com/recipes/nutty-vegetable-saute/)  This was made over the weekend, but the leftovers have carried into this week’s lunch and dinner menus.  I love when that happens!

Spicy Lentil-Walnut Burgers (http://www.marthastewart.com/318248/spicy-lentil-walnut-burgers) served with Roasted Carrots.  I was attempting to make a healthy “Burgers and Fries” meal for the viewing of The Ohio State v. Oregon football game.  I served it with Chunky Olive Hummus from Trader Joe’s (YUM!) and Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Flat Bread.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars (http://www.marthastewart.com/1065205/peanut-butter-and-jelly-bars) These were made as a half-time treat during the football game.  This was followed by one Stone Enjoy By IPA (http://enjoyby.stonebrewing.com/) to celebrate the victorious OSU!

 

O-H . . .

O-H . . .

Wild Mushroom Farro Risotto (Farrotto) (http://www.moreuncorked.com/!S0wXzFfbyV6LkYgba2nHpA!/Wild-Mushroom-Farro-Risotto-Farrotto) I omit the butter from this recipe and add more olive oil.  I may add more than 2 ounces of goat cheese.  Two ounces? HA!

Salad There is no recipe for this one.  I usually make a salad most nights of the week.  Occasionally the salad is the main course with a bunch of stuff in it, or I will make a simple one, like an arugula and red pepper salad.  I grew up eating a salad with dinner most nights of the week, so I like the tradition – and it’s tasty!

Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato Relish (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/falafel-stuffed-eggplant)

Again, let me know your thoughts regarding the “Food-Centered Family”!  I’d love to hear from you!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

 

I Want To Wake Up In . . .

. . . that city

That doesn’t sleep

And find I’m king of the hill

Top of the heap . . .

Sing it, Ol’ Blue Eyes!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMfz1jlyQrw

What a great song about a great city.  After living in The Big Apple for a New York Minute, as they say, Franz and I agreed that we had to return for a visit every year.  Last year a pesky hurricane cancelled our trip, so we were super excited to return this year.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never stepped foot in NYC, or if you have been so many times you feel very comfortable telling a cabbie about to hit you as you cross the street to stick a knish where the sun doesn’t shine,  it’s overwhelming because there are so many options!

This year we opted to stay in the downtown area, right across the street from One World Trade Center.  Hotels can be a little less expensive, its away from the major foot traffic, and it is easy to get from here to anywhere on the island and beyond with the subway.  Interested in seeing One World Trade Center?  Wait a year or two.  It’s a pain in the butt, especially if it’s snowing or raining, entering the space.  There are so many people visiting and I felt like I was going through airport security.  Not a peaceful entrance to say the least.  You can walk around the two impressive waterfalls, but the museum is not scheduled to open until Spring.  Again, wait a year and then go.  It’s best to make a reservation well ahead of time.  One year we went and didn’t have a reservation and it was booked for the entire weekend.  This time one could get a spot without a reservation, but it requires waiting in an additional line which was very long.  After getting through all of the check points, waiting in line after line, and removing coats and belts, I felt very moved and beyond sad seeing the actual site and all of those names listed around the fountains.  It’s a tough way to start a trip, but necessary, I believe.

One World Trade 6

Between checking into our hotel and making our appointment time at One World, we grabbed the subway and headed over to Brooklyn for a pie at Grimaldi’s (http://grimaldisnyc.com/about/).  Again, this is where one can get very overwhelmed.  You can read websites, blogs, newspapers, Facebook post, whatever – you will get so many great recommendations for pizza.  I like Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn because I love their pizza and I love seeing the Brooklyn Bridge.  The crust is a nice thin, but not too thin, crust.  They put just enough fresh sauce on it to make me smile, and not so much cheese that I want to take a nap.  I like my pie simple: pepperoni with fresh ricotta.  They put fresh basil on it, but I asked for extra on the side.  I like lots of fresh basil.  And pepper flakes.  That’s it. Fold that baby in half (lengthwise) and now we are talking!

Grimaldis Entrance

The location I’ve been to in the past was a couple of doors down from the new spot. I loved the new location. It’s more comfortable, and I like sitting upstairs. Again, I love people watching!!

Grimaldis 1

No Frills Menu

No Frills Menu

We had to include our pup, Monsieur.

We had to include our pup, Monsieur.

Day 2 of our trip was Thanksgiving.  We slept in (which we never do!), polished off some coffee and amazing bagels in the Hell’s Kitchen area called Pick A Bagel. We found it through Yelp, and it was way better than some of the reviews!  Just like the pizza, you can become inundated with recommendations for a good bagel place – and there are bad ones.  Sometimes you have to wing it and you might be pleasantly surprised! Our plan was to walk throughout Central Park after the Macy’s Day Parade was over (we had zero interest getting into that mess), call the family in Ohio, check out our old neighborhood around 71st and 1st, and then meander up to Harlem for our Thanksgiving Buffet reservation at Ginny’s Supper Club.

Pretty sure this is what Heaven smells like.

Pretty sure this is what Heaven smells like.

Now this is the way to start Thanksgiving morning!

Now this is the way to start Thanksgiving morning! We shared an Egg Salad on Rye.

Pick A Bagel even had cupcakes that looked like Hostess Cakes! I really wanted one.

Pick A Bagel even had cupcakes that looked like Hostess Cakes! I really wanted one.

Making plans for Thanksgiving was a huge deal.  I love making a turkey dinner, and I’ve never gone to a restaurant for the special day.  Thanksgiving and Halloween are my favorite days of the year by far!  I didn’t want to screw it up!  I’ve been wanting to go to Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s Red Rooster restaurant (http://redroosterharlem.com/) for years. While trying to find the perfect dinner spot, I discovered Red Rooster has a restaurant on the basement level, Ginny’s Supper Club (http://www.ginnyssupperclub.com/).  My checklist for the perfect restaurant Thanksgiving dinner:

  1. Buffet style.  We didn’t want one plate of food or a silly 3 course option.  Boo!
  2. Not crazy expensive.
  3. Turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing had to be on the buffet.
  4. Cozy atmosphere with a Holiday vibe.

Ginny’s hit everything on my wish list.  And there were fabulous entertainers throughout the meal, too.  I felt like I went back in time.  I ordered a Moscow Mule and let the eating games begin!  I would highly recommend this place.  My only complaint was that we officially had the worst server in the world.  Everyone else around us had great servers. Ours, to put bluntly, sucked.

Here are just a few photos of what was consumed . . .

Ginnys Buffet

The spread . . .

Ginny's Meats

Meat . . .

Ginny's Turkey

. . . and more meat.

The Mac and Cheese was one of our favorites!

The Mac and Cheese was one of our favorites!

I could eat roasted veggies ever single day.

I could eat roasted veggies ever single day.

Never had Catfish on Thanksgiving before!

Never had Catfish on Thanksgiving before!

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup!

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup!

Thanksgiving isn’t complete without these sides!

 . . .but these were just meh.  I think they were mislabeled.  They tasted like a  simple Pumpkin Bar.  Kind of a buzz kill.

. . .but these were just meh. I think they were mislabeled. They tasted like a simple Pumpkin Bar. Kind of a buzz kill.

The Pumpkin Whoopie  Pies were good . . .

The Pumpkin Whoopie Pies were good . . .

Ginnys sign

Two very full customers!

ginnys table

Our table had such a great view of the band – and awesome spot for people watching!

I will give you a few more recommendation in the next post.  One of my goals on this trip was to spend more time in Brooklyn which we accomplished.  It is an amazing area with so many things to do.  I’ll fill you in on some spots not to miss and a couple of places that you can pass by.

Whenever I go to NYC, I always go with an itinerary in hand.  However, the best tip to give on traveling around the city is to be flexible (and learn to use the subway! So easy and so much faster than a taxi!).  If you see an interesting bar or shop, stop in.  If you can’t make it to that amazing cupcake shop you read about in some random blog like this one, who cares?  I love looking back at my itinerary to see which places I never visited.  Hey, it’s a list for another time!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day/ Weekend. I started the Holiday on Thursday by going out to lunch with a friend to an area known as “Little India” (http://littleindiasd.com/). It’s located off of Miramar Road on Black Mountain Road, and it’s close to I-15, so it’s easy to access. “Little India” consists of a few restaurants, some Indian stores, and a grocery store. Miramar Road is a little crazy. There are probably hundreds of stores on the street, and everyone is driving at least 50 miles per hour, so if you are looking for a particular shop or side street (like Black Mountain Road), it can be a little daunting. But if you are in the market for furniture, car window tinting, a growler from AleSmith or Rough Draft Brewing Company, or an Indian feast, look no further than this area.

Mart
If I had to rank my favorite cuisines, Indian would be in my top 3. There’s something so comforting about it. I love the smell of the spices, and the heat of the food combined with lighter components like coconut and cucumber just scratches me where I itch, to quote Kramer.

We decided to have lunch at Surati Farsan Mart which opened in 1986. I was overwhelmed when I looked at the menu. Take a look at their website and you will understand. My friend, Christin, advised that I order Dosa. I had never had one before, so I was excited to try something new. It’s a thin rice crepe that is somewhat crispy. There are a few filling options, so I opted to copy Christin and I ordered the Mysore Masala Dosa. It is stuffed with vegetables that have a little kick that is tamed by the coconut chutney that is served under the Dosa. When you lift it up, you will find the chutney and your silverware. On the side, a delicious vegetable soup is served which can be poured over the crepe, but I opted to dip my Dosa into it. If you have any soup left over, take it with you and pour it over some rice for another great meal at home. We easily could have split one between us, but I didn’t realize just how filling one would be. We ordered an appetizer, Chole Samosa, that was so full of flavor. If you haven’t had a Samosa before, just go here and order any one listed on the menu. You will love it! Just don’t be like Michael Scott from The Office and confuse Samosas with S’mores.

Mysore Masala Dosa

Mysore Masala Dosa

Chole Samosa

Chole Samosa

The one we ordered was topped with a sauce containing chickpeas and onions. The flavors were so fresh and bold. If you want a meal that will wake up your mouth, this is it.

Coconut Chutney - SOOOOO Good!

Coconut Chutney – SOOOOO Good!

I must say that I am so disappointed with myself. I feel like I’m an adventurous person food wise . I must note that in any other aspect, I am not adventurous. I did a zip line over Fremont Street in Las Vegas, and I thought I was Evel Knievel. Anyway, I’ve never ordered an Indian dessert. I never liked the look of them. Again, I’m so mad that I acted that way. Christin ordered a few desserts to take home to her husband, so she let me taste a couple. My hesitation with Indian desserts was that they look super sweet, like baklava. (And I like baklava, it’s just not a favorite of mine.) First, she had me try Jalebi. The orange color was what discouraged me from trying this item. It is coated in honey, which was another deterrent for me. Surprisingly, it wasn’t super sweet. It feels like you are holding fried air, if one could deep fry air. What a wonderful place that would be!

Genius Jalebi

The next dessert my friend introduced me to, which in the past I always passed right by because of the look of it, was Barfi. It had just a hint of sweet from the condensed milk and sugar. It had some crushed cardamom on top that gave the dessert some complexity. I loved it! I bought a box of assorted desserts to share with my husband, and he thought Barfi tasted somewhat similar to cheesecake, possibly a Ricotta Cheesecake because it isn’t creamy at all. I could eat this all day long!
The Chocolate Rose Coconut Roll was my favorite. I loved the color, and Franz loved that they tasted like one of his great loves: Strawberry Zinger.

Chocolate Rose Coconut Rolls

Chocolate Rose Coconut Rolls

Barfi and Rose Kaju Anjir Barfi

Barfi and Rose Kaju Anjir Barfi

The only treat Franz and I did not enjoy was Kaju Badam Roll. Unfortunately, the appearance reminded us of a dog treat. But that wasn’t what we disliked; it was the flavor. It is a cashew roll with an almond filling, but for some reason it had a smoky flavor which reinforced the dog treat idea. It is just not for me. I was happy I tried it though!

Kaju Badam Roll in Foreground

Kaju Badam Roll in Foreground and Rose Anjir Barfi Behind on the Right

Chocolate Badam Barfi was just in the middle of the road for me. It was an almond square layered with chocolate and almond slivers. There was nothing wrong with it, I just preferred some of the other desserts more.

Box of Goodies with Chocolate Badam Barfi on Top Near the back

Box of Goodies with Chocolate Badam Barfi on Top Near the back

The most interesting dessert was Rose Kaju Anjir Barfi. It is similar to a cookie, and it is cut into quarters. You can opt to order just a quarter which would be one bite for most people. It has a fig, cashew and almond filling. Apparently nut allergies are not a problem in India. It is flavored with rose-water, and I am usually not a fan. However, the rose-water was very subtle and it went really well with the other flavors. What I particularly enjoyed was the silver coating. It flaked away so that the bright red of the cookie shows through. I thought it was gorgeous, and I thought it was cool that it was safe to eat! If you go to the store’s website, you can order any of these desserts and have them shipped.
Visiting Surati Farsan reminded me to be open-minded. Sadly, I thought I was! I love when something surprises me!

Have You Tried These?
If you are in the mood to cook an Indian meal at your house, and you are not close to a Little India where you can buy spices, another option is Penzeys Spices ( http://www.penzeys.com/). There’s one in my neighborhood of Hillcrest, but they are located throughout the country (http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/penzeysstores.html). The first one I visited was in Cleveland, Ohio near the West Side Market.  I love visiting this store because they have sample containers around the store so you can smell each herb and spice. See how long it takes before you sneeze. And if you prefer someone else creating a certain blend for you, they sell that as well. For example, they sell Old World Seasoning which could be compared to Lawry’s. Take a look at their online catalogue or, if you are lucky enough to have a store near you, stop in. The people who work there are always happy to help.

I Love This Section of the Store!

I Love This Section of the Store!

They have cute gift packages for special occasions, like a wedding or house-warming party. If you go, let me know what cool stuff you found!

It's Fun To Compare!

It’s Fun To Compare!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Surati Farsan on Urbanspoon

Did You See The Date?????

Date

I’m still eating Halloween candy!  It can’t be December 23rd! When did this happen???  What can I do but roll with it.  I feel like the Christmas Season really started Friday night.  My husband and I stopped into Tractor Room in Hillcrest for a drink and an appetizer.  I love entering the restaurant through the heavy velvet drapes.  I feel like I’ve entered another world when I go here.  It was dark and cozy, and old school music was playing.  We ordered a light appetizer of Braised Buffalo Fries with Griddled Smoked Cheddar Cheese.  I highly recommend this place for Happy Hour.  They have great nibbles, tasty drinks, and good prices.  It’s a great spot for dinner, too.  I haven’t had their brunch, so let me know if you’ve tried it!

Buffalo Fries

We headed down the street for dinner at Ristorante Arrivederci.  It’s been a while since I’ve been to this spot.  I figure that with the Christmas Holiday starting, why hold back now.  Franz ordered a delicious sausage orecchiette dish with broccoli rabe.  I had a craving for gnocchi.  We shared one of my favorite appetizers, burrata.  With a lovely bottle of Sangiovese, what could be better?

Burrata

Burrata2

GnocchiOrecciette

I made reservations at The Wine Vault & Bistro a couple of weeks ago for their Christmas Dinner.  Fortunately, we didn’t have much to eat on Friday, so we had a huge appetite.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I love this restaurant.  If you haven’t gone yet, what are you waiting for???  Make sure to check the website and call ahead for reservations.  Dinner is only certain nights throughout the month, and the food and drink pairings are always changing.  Our first course was marinated tuna with celery root and a clementine ponzu.  It was plated with the second course of crispy white fish and what tasted like a parsley pesto.  The courses were paired with a glass of 2010 Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux, a sparkling blend of Chardonnay (70%), Chenin Blanc (20%), and Mauzac (10%).  I am very particular when it comes to sparkling wines.  My favorite (and always stocked in the house) is Veuve Clicquot.  I thought the sparkling blend we were served was just as delicious and not too sweet.  And at $14, I think it’s a steal!  So we bought two bottles to go.  They were almost sold out when we requested our bottles.

WV Course 1

Next up was an amazing dish of Dana Blue Cheese served with thinly sliced persimmons, toasted pepitas and mizuna.  Accompanying the cheese course was a sunchoke veloute with spice roasted apples and chesnuts.  Oh my.  I was dying at this point.  The cheese was perfectly creamy.  And the veloute??  Imagine taking the taste and smells of Thanksgiving, turning that into creamy liquid perfection, and pouring it into a demitasse.  I guess you could say I liked it.  It was paired with a 2010 Stolpman “Golden Point” White Blend (Roussanne (64%), Chardonnay (21%), Sauvignon Blanc (15%)).  Red wine is my favorite, so whites have a hard time meeting my expectations.  This wine was decent, and the smoky quality was an interesting match with these courses.

Perfection in a Demitasse

Perfection in a Demitasse

The next course served was a perfectly cooked thyme roasted salmon with fennel and beets with a light blood orange dressing.  Plated with the salmon was the 6th course consisting of a pomegranate glazed duck breast, spiced roasted plums, and scallion rice.  I thought the rice was a lame choice.  I changed my mind when I tasted everything together.  The rice was a welcomed texture on the plate, and it was flavorful.  These two courses were served with what turned out to be another wine pairing favorite, 2010 Vine Hill “Santa Cruz Mountains” Pinot Noir.  We were forced to buy a of couple bottles.  Not a bad price at $16!

WV Course 4

I was sad to see the arrival of our last savory courses: braised leg of lamb served on top of crushed kabocha squash, and (my favorite cheese!!!) ricota salata and a sous vide pork loin with rosemary potato mousse and dried fruit.  Even though ricotta salata is my favorite cheese, it was unnecessary in this dish.  The lamb and squash had such amazing flavors that the ricotta salata just got lost.  It’s hard to say which course was my favorite, but these two may have been the winners of the night.  But maybe it was the veloute.  I can’t pick a favorite!!  These bites were served with 2009 Sika Cabernet Sauvignon.

WV Course 3

The last two courses were desserts: a gingerbread cake with mascarpone mousse and quince and a maple pot de creme topped with a cinnamon crumble.  It was served with Wine Vault’s legendary eggnog.  I’m not a huge fan of eggnog, but this was really yummy. Fresh local eggs, dark rum, Cognac, vanilla, cream and spices could be to blame.  I am a huge dessert fan, so I will be honest.  I (and Franz agreed) was not a huge fan of the gingerbread.  It was kind of bland.  The maple pot de creme was heavenly!  It was so smooth and not too sweet.  The crumble put it over the top.  That was a huge hit!

WV Dessert

Franz and I thought they had a smart way to make sure the veloute didn’t fall off of the plate!  A dollop of goat cheese as glue!  Franz was the one who figured that out.

WV Cup Holder

We only bought 4 extra bottles, but they gave us a huge box.  Kind of embarrassing hailing a taxi this way.

We only bought 4 extra bottles, but they gave us a huge box. Kind of embarrassing hailing a taxi this way.

WV Wine to Go

As you can see, I kept this weekend very light in anticipation of all of the Christmas goodies I will be eating for the next week.  Let me know what’s on your list of places to eat (no matter where you live!!), and tell me what amazing stuff you or your family is making!  I will post again after January 1st, but you can always see what I’m up to on twitter (@megangillkopp) or on my Facebook page: Monkey Bread and Sweet Pea.

Take Care and Happy Holiday Eating!!

Tractor Room on Urbanspoon

Arrivederci Italian on Urbanspoon

Wine Vault & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Fabulous Fridays!

Happy Friday! I’ve decided to dedicate Fridays to a particular thing (food related, of course) that I have just loved throughout the week.  I feel like Oprah!  Unfortunately I will not be giving away my favorite things to my readers.  I wish.  Sorry.

Winfrey on the first national broadcast of The...

My favorite and fabulous thing this week is: Cooking Light Magazine!  You get a subscription!! And you get a subscription!!!!!! And you – wait.  I’m not Oprah.  Again, I apologize.

Cooking Light

Cooking Light (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Thanksgiving, Franz and I were still craving something sweet.  I know, I know.  We had left over pumpkin pie and a cranberry/rhubarb cobbler, so we should have stopped at that.  We couldn’t let the craving go.  I had the latest copy of Cooking Light staring at me. Sir even used it as a head rest. I usually cook dinner Monday through Thursday.  And of those dinners, about 80% or more come from Cooking Light.  I even own The Annual Recipes 2009 and 2010 Cookbooks.  The recipes are almost always tasty and relatively healthy.  Occasionally I may tweak a recipe, but it usually isn’t necessary.

CL and Sir

The November cover photo is a slice of Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake.  I ran to Trader Joe’s to purchase 2 items I needed to make this devilish dessert: instant coffee and some whipped topping (Cooking light suggested a reduced-calorie whipped topping, but I opted for regular.).  I had everything else on hand.  Word of advice: always have ingredients on hand to make at least a simple cake or a batch of cookies.  It’s the only way to live.

Once again, CL did me proud!  It was easy to make, and it was delicious!  Here’s the recipe . . .

Baked Chocolate Mousse from Cooking Light

Baked Chocolate Mousse from Cooking Light

Baked Chocolate Mousse Cooking Light, November 2012

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa

1 teaspoon instant espresso granules

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

1 tablespoon brandy (**I used Apricot Brandy.  Only kind I had on hand.)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1/3 cup sugar

Dash of salt

1 1/2 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed

Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy) (**I used butter and flour since I didn’t have the specified spray.)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add cocoa and espresso, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat. Add chocolates; gently stir until mixture is smooth. Stir in brandy and vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture into a large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes; stir occasionally. (**I didn’t stir occasionally and it was fine.)

3. Combine eggs, egg whites, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler, stirring with a whisk. Cook over simmering water until a thermometer reaches 115° (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly with a whisk. Place egg mixture in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until ribbony, soft peaks form (about 5 minutes). (**It took my egg mixture about 4 minutes to reach 115 degrees.  To attain the ribbony, soft peaks, it took about 7 minutes.)

4. Gently stir one-third of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg mixture. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spoon batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with baking spray, spreading evenly. Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until almost set (center will not be firm but will set as it chills). Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. (**I buttered and dusted with flour a 9-inch spring form pan.  In my pan, it took about 21-22 minutes for it to cook.  Franz couldn’t wait the recommended chill time.  We cut into it after it was in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. It was fine.  But it was even better the next night!)

OR USE WHIPPED CREAM: If you substitute an equal amount of whipped cream for the whipped topping, you’ll add 62 calories, 6.7g fat, and 4.2g sat fat to each serving. You will also need to bake the mousse about 5 minutes longer.

Take Care and Happy Eating! (And have a fabulous weekend!!)

Thanksgiving Day Quiz!

Happy Thanksgiving! I know everyone is probably (hopefully) enjoying some great food with family and friends. As I type, the bird is in the oven, and it’s starting to smell like the Holidays! My dog, Monsieur, has a tough time every year on this day.  His body doesn’t react well to turkey, but the smell of the raw bird is an overwhelming experience for him.  He’s a lot like me.  We let him get close to the turkey to check it out and give him an alternative treat: banana.

Now for  the quiz!  Can you tell which one is the turkey??

As I was writing (and cooking), our neighbor stopped by to give us a bottle of wine!  What a great surprise!  It’s awesome knowing there are some great people out there – and people who know I would love a bottle of wine!!  Thanks, Matt and Britt!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Got Thanks?

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I’ve been in a rut.  I’ll admit it.  I’ve been complaining about the heat, that I have too much coming up in the next few months (only to be followed by the busy Holiday months), that my beloved dog has figured out how to maneuver under the front yard fence, that my allergies won’t lighten up, and that I just don’t feel like writing!  And with the extended heat wave we’ve been having, I haven’t been in the cooking mood either.  And when I go for a run, it’s a weak attempt at best.  What else am I forgetting?

In June I wrote a little bit about being thankful.  I think I need to revisit that state of mind!  I got an email from Panera Bread about a contest entitled “What We’re Thankful For” (http://www.facebook.com/panerabread?v=app_272143752885090).  Perfect timing!

Panera on Urbanspoon

So here are a handful of things for which I’m thankful:

1) Pomegranate Margaritas with my sister-in-law, Elisabeth, at Ortega’s in Hillcrest (http://www.ortegasbistro.com/).  I love that I have a sis-in-law that wants to try new food and new restaurants.  Before she left Cleveland, she did some research and read about this place.  It’s in my neighborhood, but I had never been inside.   I wasn’t super crazy about their carnitas, but I will return to sit outside, have a Pomegranate Margarita and some of their tasty chips and salsa.  I snagged a taste of Liz’s Chicken Verde Enchiladas, something I don’t usually order, and it was really tasty.  I think the star of this restaurant is the salsa!  Ohhh, I almost forgot!  They have killer flour tortillas.  I wanted to wrap myself in one – a nice, warm, soft, tortilla blanket!

Ortega's Mexican Bistro on Urbanspoon

2) Going Downtown and checking out the Sand Castle Competition with my mother-in-law, Elisabeth and my husband.  My father-in-law couldn’t understand why we wanted to do this, so he opted to sit on a bench under some trees where he met some very interesting people.  I’ll pass on telling that story!  It only took us about an hour or so to walk through the event, but it was so nice to be near the water and out in such nice weather!

3) Taking another tour at Suzie’s Farm!  Our tour guide this time was Eric, aka “Chicken Man”.  Eric is in charge of the animals on the farm.  Currently, they only have chickens, but that may change soon.  I can’t wait for them to get goats!!!  He told us about the 30 different breeds of chickens they have – some are on the endangered list.  The birds are used for 2 reasons: eggs and to help cultivate the ground.  Being out on the farm is always so relaxing, and I walked away with lots of veggie loot!

4) Getting a sprinkler system installed!!!  Woohoo!  You have no idea how excited I am!!  It deserves a second “Woo-hoo”!!

5) That my in-laws, visiting from Cleveland, Ohio, took a brief trip to Vegas so I have time to clean, recuperate and be able to write something for this blog. The day before they left for Vegas, we had a plumbing issue.  Never a good thing.  A big THANKS goes out to South Bay Rooter!  Thanks, Dave.  Not only did he quickly assess and correct the problem, the bill was very fair.  Greatly appreciated!!

6) That we can celebrate Franz’s parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary.  The official date was back in June, so Franz and I decided that we would have to celebrate with them once they got out here.  Later this week, the whole gang will head over to Kaiserhof Restaurant & Biergarten (http://www.kaiserhofrestaurant.com/) to celebrate in the appropriate German style: large pretzels, steins of Paulaner or Hacker Pshorr (which my Dad-in-Law just corrected me the other day because I wasn’t pronouncing the “P” in Pshorr.  Keeping me on track!!), and bratwurst.

7) That I don’t live too close to the best donut shop, but close enough to go every so often!  http://vgbakery.com/

V G Donuts & Bakery on Urbanspoon

8) For my littlest man in the world, Monsieur.

9) That my Dad is able to come out to San Diego for a visit this month!

10) For the delicious Thomcord grapes Elisabeth bought at Trader Joe’s the other day!  They are a hybrid of Thompson and Concord.  Yummy!!!  Go and buy some!!! They will make you smile! (I’m eating them right now and smiling!!)

What are you thankful for this week?  Let me know!

Take Care and Happy Eating!