Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Michele's Kale Smoothie

Are you saying to yourself, "Kale in a smoothie?! Seriously?!" I did when my friends Michele mentioned it. I assumed it had to be gross and green. Not gross, necessarily, because I do like kale, but it just didn't seem right in a fruity smoothie. I put it in the back of my brain and then remembered it when I was at the farmers' market this past weekend and saw gorgeous, full bunches of kale. I grabbed some, figuring I'd either give Michele's smoothie a try or make kale chips or some kind of soup that included kale. I texted Michele asking her to email me the recipe when she got a chance, and she ended up sending me what was probably the longest chain of text messages I've ever received! that girl must be speedy when it comes to typing on a phone! When my dinner tonight totally failed (more on that in another post), I made grilled cheese sandwiches for my kiddos and figured I'd offer up smoothies as well. I distracted them with some strawberries while I added the kale to the blender.

I should mention that Michele is an AMAZING photographer. She's taken maternity pictures of me, pictures of my kids...I've loved all of them! I tried to shadow her a bit when she did one year pics of the baby (who really isn't a baby anymore), but I ended up being too busy chasing and corraling him to really learn a whole lot. Maybe another time! If you're in the Phoenix area, definitely check out her website, Michele Stange Photography.

Michele's Kale Smoothies
Adapted from my friend Michele

1 cup almond milk
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup strawberries
2 large handfuls kale
1 banana, in chunks
1 cup ice
1 tsp honey

Combine ingredients in a blender, blend until ice is crushed and ingredients are combined.


You can see Michele's recipe from the link above. The one she texted me was slightly different, so I kind of did a combo of the two. I couldn't remember the amount of kale, and I wanted to get it in there while my kids weren't looking (not that they're bad about veggies, but I figured they'd question the addition of a green leafy thing to their smoothie), so mine was probably more like one small handful. I think I also overdid it on the blueberries. I did less than a cup at first, but I thought it needed more fruit flavor, so I poured in what was left of a frozen bag of Trader Joe's blueberries, and I think it was too much. Not too much, per se, but I could have used less and still had a yummy smoothie. Oh well, just extra antioxidants for us I guess.

My kids LOVED THESE. I texted Michele while we were drinking them to let her know how good they were. The baby had two! The boy only had one because he wanted to make sure there was some left for later. They had no idea there was a vegetable in them which was awesome. Michele said she's used other kinds of greens, too, with good luck--both taste-wise and without her girls knowing what was hidden in them.

Kale smoothies, you will become a regular at our house!

My baby loved it!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stuffed Baguette

I realized when I was organizing some pictures on my computer that I had never posted this recipe I made for Christmas. We've started a tradition in my family where we have a bunch of awesome appetizers for Christmas dinner instead of a real, sit-down dinner. It's so much nicer and easier than scrambling around to get dinner ready and everything finished at once while also opening presents and all that Christmas jazz. This was the second year we've done it, and it seems to be a big hit.

Last year we had an insane amount of food, so my mom suggested we scale it back some this year. Honestly the last two weeks of December are such a blur with my dad passing away, I don't even remember what my contributions were. I think I did a baked brie, Lil' Smokies in the crockpot, and this stuffed baguette. There may have been something else, I'm not sure. I don't even remember what all other foods there were. My uncle made an awesome shrimp dip (my pregnant cousin and I finished it off the next night) for which I need to get the recipe. There were meatballs in the crockpot, a ricotta/lemon spread our friend Betty made, deviled eggs. It was a feast, and that's all that really matters.

Last January I came across this recipe somehow and emailed it to myself. When I was trying to figure out what I'd make for Christmas I went through my recipes email folder and saw this. I don't know why I hadn't made it for another event, it sounded super yummy. It also sounded easy and was something I could make ahead of time, so I slated it for one of my contributions to Christmas "dinner."

Stuffed Baguette

Baguette about 14-inch long
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz fresh goat cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
½ cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 oz finely chopped spicy salami
About 2 tbsp minced Italian parsley
About 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste (very unlikely since there’re plenty of salty ingredients)

Slice off both ends of the baguette. Using a long thin knife and working from the both ends, hollow the baguette out leaving about ½-inch thick crust all around.

Using an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump-free. Beat in the goat cheese and garlic. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Working again from the both ends, fill the baguette with the cheese mixture. Pack the filling tight. I like to use a slender tequila shot glass for pressing the filling in. Wrap the stuffed baguette very well in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to two days. Right before serving, slice the baguette into ½-inch thick slices and serve. For the most neat looking slices, treat it as a cheesecake – each time slice it with a hot dry knife.


Now that I think about it, I think Aggie's Kitchen posted a link to it on Facebook. Perhaps in the future when I email myself recipes I should include in the email how I came across it since after having two kids I have zero memory left.

I didn't make any changes to this because I wanted to see how it turned out on its own. It definitely didn't need any salt, with the salty salami and kalamata olives it was pretty well salted. When I tasted the filling mixture it reminded me a lot of a muffuletta sandwich, so I think at some point I'm going to try making this with muffuletta ingredients and see how it turns out.

I thought I was being really smart in my preparation and threw everything into my food processor that needed to be chopped. My plan was to then add the cream cheese and goat cheese straight to the bowl of the food processor to mix it all up, but I was worried the ingredients would end up just mushing together into a paste and you wouldn't be able to tell what everything was. So after I used the food processor for chopping I threw it all in a bowl and added the goat cheese and cream cheese to that and just mixed by hand. Can you believe I don't own an electic mixer aside from my stand mixer? It's something I keep meaning to get but just never do.

I stood staring down my baguette for awhile trying to decide what to do with it exactly. I ended up cutting it in half to make it slightly more manageable for stuffing. As far as tearing the bread out from the inside, I used a serrated knife at first but then ended up using it to scrape the insides out as I found that to be a lot easier. I did use the tequila shot glass trick to compact the filling, but I was kicking myself because at some point I decided instead of stuffing from just one end I'd stuff from both so it would meet in the middle. It worked out okay, but I was worried there'd be a big empty spot in the middle where the filling wouldn't have met up with the other side, if that makes sense.

This was a big hit. Everyone really liked it. I'd recommend eating it the day of or day after preparing it so the bread doesn't get too soggy. This will definitely go into my appetizer rotation, and it's something that the filling ingredients could easily be changed up to make it a different way each time.

Butternut Squash Gratin with Gruyere

This may very well have been the star of Thanksgiving 2.2. Or maybe the smoked turkey was, I'm not sure. I think they may have tied. I subscribe to email updates from Whole Foods, and a few months ago there was one that featured gruyere cheese. I heart gruyere and its slightly nutty flavor, so I was excited to see what all recipes were listed. As soon as I saw just the title of this one, I knew I'd make it for Thanksgiving 2.2. I thought about making it for regular Thanksgiving, but I figured Jen would want to try it, too, so I'd wait...anxiously..and not very patiently. Plus it's kind of a heart attack in a casserole dish, so I knew it was something I wouldn't be making that often.

Butternut Squash Gratin with Gruyere

1 large (about 3 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, divided
3 shallots, chopped
2 cups shredded Le Gruyère cheese (about 7 ounces), divided
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9- x 13-inch baking dish and arrange half of the squash slices in the bottom. Sprinkle with shallots and half of the cheese. Cover with remaining squash and sprinkle with remaining cheese. In a small bowl, whisk together cream, salt and pepper; pour cream mixture over squash. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake until browned on top and bubbling, about 1 hour. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Serves 10.

Per serving (about 7oz/201g-wt.): 310 calories (200 from fat), 23g total fat, 14g saturated fat, 80mg cholesterol, 220mg sodium, 19g total carbohydrate (4g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 9g protein


I figured since the nutritional info was listed on the website I might as well include it here. Ouch...glad I didn't see that before I ate it, although I was happy to see four grams of fiber and only three grams of sugar.

I cut my squash slightly thinner than a third of an inch and probably could have used a bigger/longer squash. I put all the funky pieces (from the bottom of the squash, around where the seeds are) in the bottom layer so the top would look nice with just the rounds. Also, I'm pretty sure I've never used 1-3/4 cup cream in one dish before in my life. If I were to make it for a normal, every day dinner, I'd probably substitute for half and half or fat free half and half, but since this was a big event, I figured it was worth the splurge.

This dish was AMAZING. I think I dished up last and was surprised that most of it had already been taken. The husband later told me he had thirds of it. There was one little squash piece left after all was said and done. Needless to say, this was a hit. The slight sweetness of the squash with the nutty This is something I will definitely make again, but like I said above, if it wasn't for a special occassion, I'd find a substitute for the cream just to lighten it up. Honestly I think this will become a Thanksgiving 2.whatever tradition, and I may have to start making it for real Thanksgiving too.

Hello, gruyere. Lovely to see you.

Hello, butternut squash. Lovely to see you, too.

Well, hello, second layer of the gratin, and that one lone shallot that somehow made its way to the top.

And finally, hello finished gratin. Don't you look scrumptious.

Okay, just looking at these pictures makes me want to make this again. Tonight. Right now. I'm honestly debating if it's worth a trip to the store for gruyere with both my kids.

Thanksgiving 2.2

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you might remember last year's Thanksgiving #2. Technically I guess it was two years ago since we held it in December 2009. We decided it should be an annual tradition, however December got busy really fast, so we pushed this year's celebration to January. This year we dubbed the feast/fest Thanksgiving 2.2 since it was the second time we'd had Thanksgiving #2. Surprisingly, my BFF Jen came up with the name, not my nerdy IT husband. I mean nerdy in the most loving way possible, and I'm sure he knows that. :) We also invited our friends Pete and Michelle (and their boys Michael and Charlie), so it was quite the event.

This year my mom and I handled most of the sides, Jen's husband smoked the turkey, and Pete and Michelle brought an awesome pumpkin cheesecake. It was an awesome feast...and none of the family drama you can sometimes encounter when spending Thanksgiving with your loved ones. Along with the smoked turkey (which my husband has proclaimed is the only way he will eat turkey going forward...and I'm kind of inclined to agree with him) we had mashed potatoes, stuffing, a butternut squash gratin (recipe was awesome!), green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. Oh, and my mom made a rockin' gravy from the turkey drippings. It may have been the best gravy I've ever eaten, with its subtle smokey flavor. Pete and Michelle's cheesecake was amazing. I don't generally dig on pumpkin, but this was super tasty. The husband isn't fond of pumpkin or cheesecake, and he devoured it. Note to self: get pumpkin cheesecake recipe from Michelle.

And now, some pictures to document Thanksgiving 2.2!

Save the neck for me, Clark! (Sorry, I couldn't resist when I was putting the giblets in a pot to cook)

My mom, aka Gaga, making the awesome gravy, and you can see all our side dishes in the oven.

My mom and her gravy making utensil...she claims it's the only way she can make gravy. I really only use it for mixing up marinades or salad dressings.

Michelle, maker of awesome pumpkin cheesecake. She, Jen, and I are going to run the Disneyland half marathon together. I know, can you believe it?! Me running?!

Butternut squash gratin

My mom's sweet potatoes (another recipe I must get)

Green bean casserole

My grandma's dressing (well, made by me)

The awesome gravy. And the last time you'll ever see my gravy boat because somehow my dog managed to get into the sink, eat the gravy out of it, and break it in such a way that half of it remained in the sink and half was on the floor on the opposite side of my kitchen from the sink. It's a mystery I will never solve.

Jen's husband, the smoked turkey master, hard at work

Pete and Michael, just so they don't feel left out

And finally, fun with the husband's Nerf gun after dinner

For whatever reason I didn't take a picture of the cheesecake. Probably because I'd had too much vino and was in a food coma from gorging on all the awesome food. I guess that means I'll have to make it sometime myself so I can share a picture.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flank Steak with Cilantro-Almond Pesto

By this point, the husband and I have both just about given up on doing Phase One of the South Beach Diet (i.e. no carbs). He quit a few days ago, I decided once I hit my pre-Christmas weight I'd go back to having good carbs. However when I did my meal plan for the week, we were both still gung ho about no carbs. None of the recipes I had marked in my South Beach Diet cookbook sounded interesting to me (or not many at least), so I figured I might as well try some of my go-to recipe websites for low carb ideas. came through for me with a few ideas. I had recently bought some London Broil and figured I could substitute that for the Flank Steak called for in this recipe. The idea of a cilantro pesto--and a pesto that didn't have olive oil as an ingredient--intrigued me.

Flank Steak with Cilantro-Almond Pesto

3/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons plain fat-free yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Prepare grill.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a blender; process until finely chopped (about 15 seconds). Add yogurt and juice; process until smooth.

Grill steak 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve steak with pesto. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories:209 (47% from fat)
Fat:10.8g (sat 3.9g,mono 4.9g,poly 0.8g)


This was ridiculously easy. The only difficult part was grilling the london broil. It's such a thick cut of meat I wasn't realy sure about the cooking time. I think the first side went about eight minutes on the grill, and the second side was around six or seven. It actually could have been on there a little longer because the middle was pretty rare. Of course, it didn't help that it was dark out and I couldn't tell how done the meat was. Note to self: invest in some sort of grill light.

I loved the flavors of the pesto. So did the husband. I don't think the kids tried any of it. We agreed it would be really good smeared on tortillas and then the meat used like fajita meat. This is definitely something I'd make again--low carb diet or not--because it came together really fast and was super tasty! Plus the pesto ingredients (aside from the jalapeno) are all things I generally have on hand.

Some pieces of meat may have still been mooing...

Cilantro-Almond pesto...yum!

Canlis Salad

Seattle has a ton of amazing restaurants, in case you didn't know that. Some of them are swanky, some are not. One of the swankiest is Canlis. I've never had the privilege of dining there, but my luck friend Jess got to go for her birthday last year. After she posted about it on Facebook I spent some time drooling over their website (their Q&A page is pretty amusing, I thought). Incidentally, in honor of the restaurant's 60th anniversary they apparently had some contest in Seattle where they had hidden golden menus around town and I think gave out clues. My brother told me all about it, but I don't remember all the details because I have two children that have sucked away most of my brain power. One of his friends found one and the price was a dinner at Canlis with 1950 prices. How freakin' awesome is that?!

Anyway, back to the website. When I was perusing it after Jess went I saw they had a recipe section. "Really?! Canlis recipes?! I could make the food myself without having to use one of the husband's entire paychecks to eat there?!" is what I thought to myself (okay, it probably wouldn't be an entire paycheck, but I don't think we'll be going to any swanky restaurants for awhile after our Joel Robuchon dinner). I saw this salad recipe and thought it sounded awesome. The first time I made it was over the summer when we had our friends Cindi and Derrick over for dinner, but apparently I never posted the recipe. When my mom and I were figuring out what we should have for Christmas Eve dinner, I thought of this salad. And this time I took a picture so I could post it! It's really pretty easy and so, so tasty!!

Canlis Salad
Source: Canlis restaurant website

1 large head Romaine hearts, cut into 1" pieces
(Wash individual leaves in warm water, drain and dry in colander then chill in refrigerator. Don't ever, ever toss a Canlis Salad with warm or wet leaves!!)
8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
3/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup very well done chopped bacon
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh mint*
1 tablespoon thinly sliced oregano leaves
1/2 cup croutons*
kosher salt and fresh ground tellicherry black pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground tellicherry black pepper
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 coddled egg*

Ingredient notes:
Mint - you can't use too much mint (experiment yourself)
Coddled Egg - Pour boiling water into a cup and put a whole egg (in the shell) into the hot water , let sit for 1 minute. You may substitute with pasteurized egg mixture (found in the dairy section in cartons).
Croutons - We make our own croutons. Butter and Italian seasoning.

To make the dressing, put the salt and pepper, lemon juice, oil, and coddled egg in a bowl and whip vigorously, then reserve. To a salad bowl add the prepared Romaine, green onion, cheese, bacon, oregano, and mint. Pour dressing over salad and toss thoroughly. Split the salad on to four chilled plates and arrange croutons, a sprinkle of Romano cheese and halved cherry tomatoes on the salad to finish the presentation.


It's actually pretty easy to make and relatively inexpensive, too, which is awesome. The first time I made it I used Egg Beaters instead of coddling an egg. For Christmas Eve I went all out and did the real deal. Okay, it was only because I didn't have any Egg Beaters, but I wanted to try it the real way anyway. The dressing is so good...I just love homemade salad dressings. They taste a bazillion times better than anything you can get in a bottle at the grocery store. The mint in this adds such an interesting flavor, too. I heart fresh mint and would probably eat just about anything that contained it.

Just typing this and reading over it makes me want to have this salad with our dinner tonight. Hmmm...I think I have everything on hand except the oregano...

(Look, I even busted out my fancy china!)

Angeletti Cookies

I made these as a Christmas cookie this year, and even though it's now a few weeks past Christmas I wanted to share because they don't have to be Christmas cookies, and on top of that, they were freakin' awesome. The recipe showed up in my inbox one day on an email from Real Simple magazine, and I thought they looked tasty and fun. A few weeks later when I wanted to try a new Christmas cookie recipe I went looking for it because they had looked so good.

Angeletti Cookies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for rolling the dough
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons multicolor nonpareil sprinkles, for decoration (optional)

Heat oven to 375° F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and eggs until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

With floured hands, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and the bottoms are pale golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and the vanilla until the mixture forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more water if necessary).

Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, rounded side up, on a rack set over a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with non-pareils, if using. Allow the glaze to set, about 20 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.


Now, I love a good cookie, but these were freakin' fantastic!! The boy was really excited to help with the frosting part, and he was pretty impatient waiting for the cookies to cool enough so we could do that step. Then it turned out he didn't really like dipping them, but he did have a blast sprinkling the non-pareils all over them (and my counter and anything that was in about a two foot radius of the cookies...four year olds get a bit over-zealous when it comes to putting sprinkles on cookies, in case you didn't know that). I had some Christmas non-pareils that were red, green, and white mixed together, so I used those to make them a little more festive. When I make them throughout the year, I'll stick to the regular multi-colored kind.

We all agreed that these may just be our new favorite Christmas cookie. I'm taking dinner to a friend on Friday night and thinking of making a batch of these for her (and her kids if she decides to share them).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Souffle Stuffed Chicken

Before I did my meal planning for our first week of Phase One on the South Beach Diet, I went through the SBD Cookbook and made a list of what recipes sounded good. I was glad there were quite a few. I like to try new recipes (obviously), so I didn't want to do all the same things I'd made during Phase One before. This one sounded interesting. I had no idea what the Stouffer's Spinach Souffle was, but I found it easily enough at the grocery store. I figured it would be some kind of nasty, over-processed junk, but the ingredient list was actually not bad..."modified food starch" was the only thing I questioned.

Souffle Stuffed Chicken
Source: The South Beach Diet Cookbook by Arthur Agatson

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
1 (12 ounce) package stouffer's frozen spinach souffle, not thawed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley (to garnish)
lemon slice (to garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a serrated knife, cut the frozen spinach souffle crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Top half of each whole breast with one of the pieces of souffle. Fold half of the chicken over the filling and fasten edges with wooden picks.

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Add chicken breasts and cook for 7 minutes per side or until well browned.

Remove chicken to an oven-proof dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 170 degrees F when inserted into the thickest portion.

While the chicken is baking, add broth, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to the large skillet. Heat to boiling then reduce to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced to 1/2.

To serve, remove and discard wooden picks. Arrange chicken on a warm serving platter and spoon sauce over the chicken. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and lemon slices.


When I talked to my friend Jen today and told her about the recipe I said that in my head it was going to taste like chicken stuffed with a really yummy spinach artichoke dip type thing. She said she didn't think that's what it would be like and not to get my hopes up. I had the idea of grating some parmesan cheese over the spinach before wrapping up the chicken, but then I forgot to add it. Oops.

Honestly I was surprised how good this was. I figured it would be gross and no one would like it, but we all really enjoyed it. The spinach souffle was a lot more flavorful than I anticipated it being. The husband said he wished he had more stuff to dip into the spinach mixture. And he even had more broccoli so he could dip it. He's never had seconds of broccoli in his life. In fact, until recently, he wouldn't even touch the stuff.

This is another dish I'll be adding to my Phase One repertoire. I'd probably even make it if I wasn't on Phase One of SBD, so that says a lot.

Chicken browning away

Second side of the chicken browning

Ready for the oven

This is what it looks like in the book. I had my misgivings about mine compared to it.

Finished dish. Doesn't look anything like the book really, but it was still tasty. My chicken probably could have been thinner, which would have covered up the souffle more, but it worked.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

South Beach Tuna Salad

The husband and I are going back to Phase One of the South Beach Diet to drop the extra weight we gained over Christmas and to help us get to our goal weights. He's training for the Alcatraz shark swim this coming June and wants to lose some body fat before the race. I just want to get down to my goal weight. We unofficially started yesterday. I say unofficially because we did have some carbs, but we kept it pretty minimal. Okay, I cheated a few times and had a Hershey Kiss here and there, but they were sitting out in the kitchen, and I couldn't help myself. But now today I'm on track. I figured out our meal plan for the week--including breakfasts, lunches, and snacks--and we're ready to do this.

For lunch today I made us some tuna salad. It was loosely based on a recipe I've made before that I found on They have an entire South Beach Diet section of recipes, which I love. It's a great recipe because it's really versatile and can be modified to fit what you have on hand. I had cilantro like the recipe calls for, but it was questionable. The recipe below is the version I made today.

South Beach Tuna Salad

2 cans tuna in water, drained
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon pepper (not really sure how much this was...I have a grinder and just ground some up into the mixture)
1 green onion, chopped
2 dashes Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's seasoning
4 cups spring mix greens
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients except greens and vinegar. Mix together. Split greens between two plates, divide tuna mixture in half and place on greens. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.


See? Super easy. I find it to be a really filling lunch, too. If I'm making it for myself I just use one can of tuna, and I don't normally eat the whole mixture in one sitting, but we were pretty hungry today, so I figured I'd just go for it. Like I said, this recipe is easily modified to use whatever you may have on hand. I really like the addition of the Frank's sauce to give it a little kick. This is one of my staple lunches when I'm doing Phase One of SBD.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Meal of a Lifetime

Way back in November we went on a weekend trip to Las Vegas with my mom. She had gotten a condo there for a week, so we went up for part of it. Our wedding anniversary is in October, so instead of celebrating then we waited and went out to dinner in Vegas. I spent days--or maybe weeks--trying to decide on a restaurant. My first choice was Hubert Keller's Fleur De Lys, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations until December. Sigh. Then I decided on Tom Colicchio's craftsteak. Then after hearing about my friend Jen's dinner at Joel Robuchon's restaurant, I was sold. I panicked a bit because the MGM Grand website showed no reservations available, but I called the restaurant directly and found out they did indeed have one table left. Phew! For those of you unfamiliar with Joel Robuchon, he's been named Chef of the Century, and the restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars. Pretty freakin' awesome.

The husband and I got all dolled up for the event:

Then a limo from the MGM Grand came and picked us up. Pretty freakin' awesome, huh. I had asked Jen if there was a bar or anything in the limo. She said there was not, so we took our own drinks.

To enter the restaurant you go through the Mansion at the MGM Grand. Who knew there was a mansion, right?! Apparently it's where the high rollers get to stay. Seemed pretty freakin' awesome. We were met at the door of the mansion by the restaurant hostess who greeted us with a "Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Knightly."

(Sadly none of my other pictures turned out because I was using our point and shoot camera that apparently I'm completely inept at using. I was trying to not use the flash, but there wasn't enough light so everything's blurry. Sad.)

The interior of the restaurant was not what I would have expected. Jen had already told me about it. Everything was black lacquer (sp?) with purple accents. Very 1985. Maybe that's cool in France? I don't know. We had a nice table in a little atrium area. The restaurant itself was pretty small, I was surprised. I heard a couple weeks later that Kelly Rippa and her husband had eaten there (not when we were there, just in general), and I was bummed I didn't even think to check for celebrities.

We decided on the two course dinner option, an appetizer and entree. There was a second two course option that was an entree and dessert, but we knew there was a dessert/pastry cart that came around, so we figured why waste a course on dessert when there was that. The meal starts with an amuse bouche of crab meat topped with a fennel cream topped with caviar. It was AMAZING. Seriously, I savored each bite. I really hoped we got to keep the little tin, but alas we did not.

For my appetizer I chose a salmon tartare with caviar and edible gold leaves. It was fantastic. The texture of it was just amazing. I don't remember what the husband had for his appetizer, but it was awesome. His dish won the appetizer round, which is why I'm really surprised I can't remember what it was. For my entree I had duck breast and foie gras. The husband had veal cheek in a Thai broth. And they served some amazing mashed potatoes on the side with both our entrees. I'm pretty sure God himself made them because there's no other way mashed potatoes could be that good. The husband thinks they were a 60/40 blend of butter and potatoes. He may be right. They were ridiculously creamy and smooth. I wanted to lick my plate. My entree won that round. It was my first time having foie gras, and it was so yummy.

Oh, I forgot to mention the bread cart. There were probably 20 different kinds of bread to try. I tried just about all of them. There was a saffron roll that was amazing, bacon bread, basil rolls. It was all fantastic. The butter for the bread is shaved off this huge tower of's pretty amazing. We got French press coffee after our meal, and it was hands down the best coffee I've ever had in my life. The pastry/chocolate cart was pretty incredible too. Handmade chocolates, little tarts, petit fours. At the end of the meal we were given a gift bag with a Joel Robuchon chocolate bar inside. Pretty awesome. Turned out, there were gold flakes in the chocolate, but they were colored purple.

Oh, since I had told them it was our anniversary we were presented with an ice cream cake of sorts that said Happy Anniversary on the top. It was like a fancy grown-up version of those orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream cups you used to have at birthday parties when you were little. It had a meringue layer and then a real fresh tasting orange layer. Yum!

We had a bottle of wine with dinner, but I have no idea what kind it was. I started off with a cosmopolitan to drink and the husband had a martini. I'm not usually a big martini fan, but I switched to those because it was hands down the best martini I'd ever had. Surprisingly they were only $14 each which I didn't think was bad. We had paid $10 for a vodka tonic at a bar in The Venetian the night before to put it in perspective.

I have no idea either what the grand total was for this extravagant, fantastic, ruined-me-for-other-food meal...the husband wouldn't let me see the bill. I don't really care, and it's probably best I don't know. I don't think it's anywhere we'd go again, just because it was insanely expensive, and I think it's more of a one time place to go (unless you're beyond wealthy). It was definitely the meal of a lifetime!

(By the way, I don't think there has ever been a post with this many pictures of me in it!)

My 2011 Blog Project

First of all, Happy New Year everyone!! Let me tell you, I was ready to be done with 2010. It had its high points, but my dad dying really dragged down the whole year. So I'm excited for 2011 and what it will bring for myself and my family. We have some fun trips in the works, I've decided to start running, I'm planning on being more organized around the house, and I really want to get back to scrapbooking on a regular basis.

Now for the blog project. My friend Jen and I both have ridiculously extensive cookbook collections, so in an attempt to justify keeping them (and buying more) we decided that each week we'll chose one of our cookbooks and plan 2-4 meals for the week from that particular book. I'm really excited to try some new recipes and explore some cookbooks that have been neglected.

I think I'm going to take it one step further. I have a few fancy cookbooks that I normally just look through and drool over the recipes, but I think one Friday a month (maybe more, we'll see) I'm going to do a fancy date night dinner for the husband and me.

Happy 2011 to everyone!!