Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bad News :(

Ugh, this couldn't come at a worse time. This weekend, the husband and I decided to play some games together on our respective computers (we have two, and they're right next to each other, monitors facing the opposite ways. Cute. In a nerdy, absurd way.). Things were going swimmingly until I started getting a keyboard malfunction. So I restarted my pc, it froze, restarted again, doesn't turn on :(. Long story short, after panicking, taking apart my computer, checking everything, and calling friends, the consensus is that my motherboard is dead. I love when things of this nature occur right around Christmas. It's the perfect time. Money's tight, things have to be saved for, etc. Needless to say, I won't be posting many pictures. I can't  transfer pictures from my camera to my work pc, and my husband's has so little memory available left that I'm not sure I can even install any of my photo editing software. However, I am going to give it a shot. I can guarantee that my updates (or at least my photos) will be more sparse, because of this. But our tax returns will be here hopefully by early February (possibly earlier if we decide to go to H and R block and get the money on the spot. I have no idea what that costs, though.), and then we are each building new PCs. I would just replace the motherboard, but my computer is so old, and I can replace it for a newer, more reliable pc for roughly 200-300 more than it would cost to inspect the computer and then replace the motherboard.

The good news is that my hard drive should be fine, and I should be able to transfer all my programs and stuff directly on, so hopefully when I get the machine, I won't have to dilly dally around. But I do apologize for this, because I truly want to be able to share the photos and stuff that I take. It's devastating to me that I almost lost everything I've ever had on there. I was looking at external hard drives online on black Friday, and I found none that were worth the price. But looking back on things, I'm so lucky my hard drive should be safe and sound. Wedding pictures, pictures from when I was little, graduation, programs and games, ugh. So many things. Guess the lesson here is that you can never be too careful.

I have a few recipes to share (we made the mozzarella in carrozza last night!!! Goodness it is delicious), and some photos, but I'll have to see if I can transfer the pictures to the hubbys computer tonight or tomorrow. If not, I'll just share the recipe and update the pictures as soon as I can.

Sorry for the inconvenience :(

Eat Well!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Web Design

I needed to change my layout so badly, I've been messing with logos on and off for weeks, and I finally settled on a very simplistic page. Also, now that I've shrunk the side bars, my images can be huge. And that's all that really matters in the end, isn't it? Hopefully you find this layout way less blinding :)

Eat Well!

Copy Cat Recipe of Zuppa Toscana

This black Friday I had thoughts of being smashed in crowds, or having my eyes glued open while I stalked amazon.com for extreme deals that I just HAD to have. I thought I'd spend copious amounts of money on Christmas presents, or knife sets for myself, or buying DVDs that were only $5. Nope. Not this year. Instead, I woke up feeling ill, but next to an even ill-er husband. He had a terrible cold, and actually slept until 3 in the afternoon. Poor thing. I had to make do with my stomach bug. After a nap, however, I felt much better. But my poor husband was feeling terrible. He requested I make chicken noodle soup, and I told him that would be fine.

I left to go to the store, and as I was walking around, I realized I was just not in the mood for chicken noodle. Brandon loves the zuppa toscana at the Olive Garden. I know how many people despise the Olive Garden. It's not authentic, it's got boring food, it's not home made, whatever. I really don't care if they take this soup out of a can, I love it. It's spicy, it's got sausage, it's creamy, and there are potatoes in it. Oh, and cheese. Works for me, and definitely works for him too. So I decided to go for it. I knew the essentials of what was in the soup, and I looked up a few knock off recipes (love smart phones.). In all honesty, it's a very easy soup to make, and most of the recipes were very similar. Kale, cream, chicken broth, sausage, potatoes. It's not really much more than that. I added a lot of red pepper (he loves it spicy) and bacon. It was a perfect meld of flavors, and it made so much soup. It keeps very well. The creaminess of the broth and the softness of the potatoes was just lovely. My husband couldn't taste most things that day, but he said he certainly tasted the spice and the sausage :) The next day he could taste and he raved about it, but that just goes to show you, it's got some kick. So if you don't care for it being that spicy, just cut back on the red pepper, or use only sweet Italian sausage, with a little red pepper, instead of the mix of hot and sweet. I served it garnished with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a hunk of roasted garlic and olive oil bread.

Time from start to finish: about an hour


1 lb. mix Hot and Sweet Italian Sausage, out of the casing/ground
10 cups Chicken Broth (or bullion cubes with water)
1 head Kale, rinsed and chopped well
4 cloves Garlic, minced or grated
6 strips Bacon, cubed
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Vidalia Onion, chopped
1/4 cup of Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
3 large Russet Potatoes, sliced 1/4 of an inch thick
1 Tbsp Oil
3 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano for topping the soup

Put your oil in a large skillet and heat to medium. Cook your sausage with 1 Tbsp red pepper, salt and pepper until it's no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Transfer your sausage to a bowl and cover and refrigerate. In the same skillet, put in your bacon. If necessary, add another splash of oil to the pan. Once your bacon starts to render a little bit (about 2 minutes), add your onion. Saute until the onion is almost translucent, about 4 minutes. Once it is close to translucent, add your garlic and mix everything together for about 30 seconds. Your bacon won't be crispy. Transfer the mixture to a high stock pot*. Turn the pot on medium high heat and add in your stock, salt and pepper, and remaining red pepper. Let the mixture come to a boil, then add your potatoes. Let cook until your potatoes are almost fork tender, roughly 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium low and add in your kale and chilled sausage and half your parsley. Cook the soup for another 10 minutes and add the cream. Stir it in, and heat until the cream has just warmed through, and serve topped with remaining parsley and cheese.

*If you don't mind your soup being a little discolored, you could do this whole process in your pot that you'll be cooking your soup in. Sausage is very greasy, so you'll already have a little bit of grease in your soup. I just didn't want the whole soup greasy. But if you don't mind, go for it. All the more flavor!

Eat Well!


Oh it's back to reality I see. After my long (but never long enough) weekend of turkey, family, Christmas decorating, and caring for a sick husband, I am back at work (and the technology world!). This time of year is always so busy, and this is my first real session on a computer longer than a half hour or so, since before the break. That doesn't mean that I haven't cooked, however. I actually have a few recipes that I will be able to share with you this week.

I am hoping to start up my cookie baking in the next week or two, give or take, as well. So I'm on the hunt for cookie recipes! I'll be attempting to tackle several kinds that I've never made, so hopefully soon you can read about my trials and tribulations there, as well.

I do want to apologize in advance, however. When I first started this blog, I was writing nearly every day. Since the beginning of November, I have been swamped with other things going on. Catching up with friends, lots of family gatherings, and trying to keep up to date with this as well. I can only predict that I will continue the trend through December. So hopefully you can find it easy to be patient :) The holidays are always my busiest time of year, but I will do my best to post at least twice a week. I do have a feeling that I will be sharing a lot of pasta recipes, however! At our latest trek to Wegmans (our more high end grocery store), we recently discovered their pastas that are more or less unavailable at our local grocery store. So we purchased a few bags, and I'm feeling the need for it. It's almost winter! A lot of people love stew to keep warm. I like carbs :)

Along with pasta, I'm hoping to test out new cookies, like I mentioned, and I am having a serious desire to make my own Mozzarella in Carrozza. I've never made it, but I can't see HOW on earth it could not just be the best thing ever. I'm also planning on whipping up some wasabi smashed potatoes and some teriyaki chicken this week, too! So hopefully we'll have a bit of an adventure, and a tad bit of indulgence before the holiday season is over. Lord knows once January hits, I'll be back to my normal self, and most likely posting nothing but belt looseners. But for the month of December... hopefully I'll convince the husband to let me make a few treats out of the norm, but good for the soul.

I do hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving (if you're from the US! If not, a good weekend then!).

Eat Well!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cameron Estate Inn: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Back in July, my mother had her big 50th birthday. Instead of a huge party, we took her out for dinner to a place called the Cameron Estate Inn. It's nestled in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania and truly is a gem. Before we stopped over here, we had a picnic at a local winery. We probably shouldn't have eaten at all, because while the portions don't look over-the-top large, you basically had to roll all of us out of there. The one thing that I love about small places is that they don't spread themselves too thin. They have one, maybe two seasonal vegetables, one or two starches, and then you get your entree paired with it. I always tend to find that you're never disappointed by what you get. My entire family was absolutely raving about the potatoes that were paired with all of our entrees. They were so garlicky and buttery. We actually were begging the waitress to tell us what on earth they put in them, but to no alas. The biggest shocker was the Brussels sprouts. I genuinely never liked them. Ever. No matter how they were made, I'd shove them aside and turn my nose up at them. That's even including eating them with bacon, butter, you name it. However, I honestly have no idea what they did with these, but they were fantastic. I literally cleaned my entire plate. So, goes to show that a small bed and breakfast might only give you a few options, but here at Cameron Estate Inn, you're going to be pleased no matter what the side dish. So without further adieu, I'll show you some of the meals we ate, and give my take on them.

Cocoa Rubbed Lamb Chops
This was my 11 year old brother's meal. Champagne tastes, eh? Gotta love him. Being in central Pennsylvania has its perks. We are extremely close to Hershey, PA. Well, Cameron Estate Inn doesn't let their closeness go to waste. They use fresh Hershey cocoa in a rub for a gorgeous lamb chop. It tastes of chocolate and herbs, and is simply divine. The lamb is cooked to a perfect medium rare and is so incredibly juicy. They give you a very generous portion, as well. Even my mother who doesn't like lamb, thought it was amazing.

Petite Filet with Crab Cake
This was mine. I got to devour all of it, and I was so happy with every bite. They paired a tender filet of beef with a no-filler crab cake. My perfect kind of surf and turf. The filet was topped with a large mound of shallot butter, and the crab cake was topped with their signature rémoulade sauce. My favorite part was the very first bite of crab cake. I have had crab cakes in many restaurants; I am a gigantic fan. But I absolutely despise spending large amounts of money on crab cakes that have a ton of filler. If you're not familiar with crab cakes (they are very popular in the Chesapeake area, however I have friends in the mid-west that don't have access to them), jumbo lump crab meat can be pretty pricey. So some restaurants use bread crumbs, or other ingredients similar to 'fill' their crab cake. My ideal crab cake is just jumbo lump, a little seasoning, hint of lemon, and maybe a little egg or mayo to bind it all together. Go figure, my ideal crab cake is few and far between. However, here it was spectacular. I tasted no filler, just pure sweet crab and that fantastic rémoulade. I would go back simply for this crab cake.

Crème Brûlée
The dessert. A simple Crème brûlée. Truly delicious and gorgeous. I can always appreciate a good Crème brûlée. I seem to order it out more and more, and it's no wonder why. I love the crispy texture of the caramelized sugar, mixed in with the cool creamy custard. Cameron Estate Inn made theirs exactly on point. Very traditional, no frills. They just paired it with a little chocolate raspberry drizzle on the side, and it was a delightful, sweet end to a very lovely meal.

We will definitely be going back to try out more of their menu. If you're ever in central PA, I hope you have a desire to stop by and try them out. You won't be disappointed!

Eat Well!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lemon Parmigiana Pasta

My ultimate form of comfort food. Pasta. It's so filling and incredibly versatile. I can serve it with tons of cheese, tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, e olio, you name it, you got it. One of my favorite ways to have it, is just tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil, mushrooms and wine. It's so warm, hearty, and really explains why I love Italian food. It takes so little for such a great tasting meal. This is no different.

Growing up, my mom constantly would whip up pasta dishes on a whim. They always burst with flavor and she rarely spent more than 20-30 minutes on them. It's funny because most people think lasagna or baked ziti or manicotti is the most comforting form of Italian (or Americanized Italian) food. But for me it's something like this. Don't misunderstand me. Gnocchi and eggplant parm are actually my two favorite foods. And they are incredibly comforting. But a simple pasta takes so little time to make, with so little labor involved. That's pretty comforting to me. Hopefully some weeknight when you're feeling a nice warm bowl of pasta, you'll try this version! Enjoy!

Time from start to finish: 20-30 minutes

1/2 box Cavatappi pasta
1 Lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 cup Basil, cut into a chiffonade
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
2 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped thickly
3 cloves Garlic, minced or grated
1/2 medium Onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup Dry White Wine
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Butter
1-2 Tbsp Flour
Salt and Pepper to taste

Salt your pasta water. While you wait for your water to boil, melt one tablespoon of butter with the oil over medium heat. Once melted, add mushrooms and onion and saute until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Turn heat to medium high and add the wine. Bring to a boil then reduce to low. Add the crushed red pepper, garlic, chicken stock, flour, remainder of the butter, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper, 1/2 of the basil and all of the parsley. Cook at least 3-4 minutes, then add the pasta and the cheese. Toss and top with remainder of the basil. Serve with pesto topped crusty Italian bread and salad.

Eat Well!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No Frills Steak Salad

Some week nights call for the easiest, quick meals. No crazy clean up, just good old fashioned simplicity. This is one of my favorite 20 minute meals. It is so crazy versatile that if you're in the mood to spruce it up, you can do it quite easily. But if you come home, exhausted, and needing to get dinner on the table fast - and still make it well balanced - you can leave it just as it is. I make mine Pittsburgh-style, meaning I put fries on top. Growing up, my dad would make this and he always did it that way, so I do too! This salad is really great with a creamy dressing. I love blue cheese dressing, or Parmesan peppercorn.  So get yourself a nice big bowl, a fork, and get ready to eat!
Time from start to finish: 20 minutes


1-2 packages Stir fry Steak
1 bag or head of Romaine Lettuce
1 package Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Red Onion, sliced thinly
1 bag Steak Fries*
1 Cucumber, diced
1-2 cups Cheddar, shredded
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1-2 Tbsp Chili Powder
Salt and Pepper

Drizzle 1 Tbsp of the oil over the steak. toss with the cajun seasoning and a little salt and pepper so the steak is coated. If using the fries, coat with the remaining oil, and the chili powder. Cook to instructions on the bag. Put everything else in a big salad bowl while the fries cook. When there is about 4 minutes left on the fries, heat a pan over medium high. Cook the steak, flipping with tongs, until cooked to medium - about 2 minutes. Top the salad with the steak and fries and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Eat Well,