Friday, September 28, 2012

Tonight's Dinner: September 25, 2012

I was inspired by an Everyday Food magazine to make chicken and dumplings.  I then found an easy recipe online that suggests using store bought biscuits.  That was perfectly fine with me!  I made the mistake, however of buying a no-name-brand biscuit dough and didn't read the label that it was the artificially buttered variety.  It didn't ruin the soup, but I was a little worried at first and it made it pretty greasy.  Next time I will get the non-buttered ones or just suck it up and make my own dumplings.  I've always said I'm a lazy cook after all.  The recipe also only called for boiled chicken, but I added onion, celery and carrots to make it a little more hearty.  The soup turned out pretty well despite it's artificial butteriness.  Too bad we're going through another heat wave.


Tonight's Dinner: September 24, 2012

I love going home for dinner.  My mom makes the best roasted chicken and it's always a balanced meal.  The only problem I have with eating at home is that she cooks with so little fat that I end up hungry a couple of hours later!  It's great spending time at home.  I think I do it way too often for someone who no longer lives at home.  Plus, I get to watch Dancing With The Stars since my mom likes it.  Nick doesn't care for it much so I feel bad when I'm hogging the TV.

I had gone home to wash all of our sheets and blankets because I've been getting little bites.  I'm not sure what they are really.  A friend of mine who is dating an exterminator said the he believes it's allergies since I don't see any actual punctures in the bites and they're very small.  But Nick has a couple too!  I'm just the one who is getting "bitten" the most.  The strange thing is that they're mostly on my right arm and right side of the body.  I sleep on the right side of the bed so I'm beginning to think it's something from the carpet. At first I thought it was my worst fear come to life and that we had bedbugs especially since we just got done traveling (you never know what will come home on your suitcase).  After stripping the bed and checking all the linings of the mattresses, googling what bed bug bites look like, and generally just staring at the mattress for any creepy crawlies, we deduced that it's not bedbugs.  They also don't look like flea bites and we've thoroughly checked Emmy.  I then started reading about mites and thought that maybe Emmy had something called Ear Mites.  Nope.  She's a clean doggy and she hasn't been itching any more than normal.  Anytime she would scratch we'd pounce on her to check out the area to see if there was anything there.  Nothing.  Now I'm stumped.  I partially hoping that I could blame it on Emmy since she is the dog, but she doesn't seem to be the culprit.  I also haven't been able to find anything online that looks like the little bites that I'm getting.  Nick, my mom, and I can't see any punctures where whatever it is that is getting at me bit me.  I put white sheets back on our bed but don't see anything crawling around.  We also vacuumed and removed Emmy's bed.  The bites seem to have slowed down, but not completely stopped.  I had gotten a clothes steamer a few weeks ago.  The plan is to steam the mattress and carpet this weekend.  If that doesn't work, I really don't know what to do.  It's driving me nuts since I obsessively clean our place. I hope they just disappear on their own.


Christopher was rushing off to a troop meeting
since he's an Assistant Scout Master.  His pants
are so old and worn that there was a giant hole in
the butt.  My mom has tried sewing it up three times
but it keeps popping.  We are holding it together
with safety pins.

During the day Emmy had made herself a nest in the comforter and pillows.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tonight's Dinner: September 23, 2012

It was football Sunday at our place.  I had grocery shopped the prior day in anticipation of bottomless pits of men infiltrating our apartment.  They arrived at 9:45am and consumed a large box of bagel bites by 10:30am.  Men.  As for the female counterparts, we had mimosas and were perfectly happy.


After seeing the Bagel Bites disappear before I could even get all of the
condiments out, I made a caprese salad and put out some
Kashi Original 7 Grain Sea Salt crackers.  They're very tasty,
I have to admit. 
Later on in the day, between games one and two, Nick also grilled up some hot links and bratwursts for snacking on.  Before the evening game started, the boys were escorted out by their now over-it wives and girl friends.  I had planned to make tater tot casserole, which I had seen on 19 Kids and Counting the night before, but I could tell that tater tots with cheese sauce was not going to keep our friends around (the girls at least).  One friend did happen to stay for dinner and watched the final game of the night.  Out of curiosity, I made the casserole along with linguine and clams and some veggies. The tater to casserole was not my favorite.  It was a little too creamy and salty for my taste.  But I did pair it with scrambled eggs for breakfast the next morning and it was great.  I think if I made it again it would be for a brunch as it is reminiscent of biscuits and gravy in flavor.  




Tonight's Dinner: September 22, 2012

That last post put me so far behind so I will try to catch up quickly.  On Saturday my mom and I headed out to San Francisco to see my aunt who just had hip surgery. We stayed out there for a while, but Nick and I had plans in the evening so we didn't stay for the pizza/welcome home party she was having with the rest of our family.  As it turns out, our plans fell through and Nick went to do his laundry at his parents' house.  Since I had the idea of pizza in my head, I ordered Round Table and plopped in front of the TV to watch all the shows that Nick doesn't enjoy, House Hunters and House Hunters International, for hours.

This pizza hit the spot.  I ate half of this bad boy by myself. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tonight's Dinner: September 21, 2012

I had been looking forward to this dinner all week.  We had made reservations to take the Fongs to La Folie for dinner as a thank you for our Malaysia/Singapore trip. It was amazing, though amazingly expensive.  It's a good thing we only go on family trips once a year. 

We all decided to order the five-course meals.  It was so much food that we actually had to bring some home.  The dinner started off with three amuse-bouches that were delicious.  I particularly liked the soft egg yolk with tomato soup.  We next headed to all of our ordered courses.  The way that they set up the menu is pretty standard, soup/salad, appetizer, seafood, poultry/meat, and dessert/cheese.  We were able, however, to pick five selections from any category with the exception of the poultry/meat.  I don't think we could have finished five meats anyhow.  Everything served was extremely heavy except for maybe the salads.  I ordered three seafood dishes as I figured that it would give me the most bang for my buck. 

Fig tart amuse-bouche

Soft boiled egg yolk mixed with a creamy tomato
soup.  That is a thin potato chip on top.  The
spoon is to mix the yolk and soup together inside
the shell.  It also came with a small piece of toasted
bread, but I ended up using my baguette because it
was so delicious and I wanted it all. 

Salmon lollie pops. 

Oyster, scallop ceviche and kampachi sashimi.  The waitress
specifically said to eat from left to right because of the flavor

Monterey abalone and uni salad. 

My burrata salad.  I could have had this and it would have been
enough. The fresh burrata was extremely light for being heavy. I'm
not sure if that makes sense, but the cheese was very light and
refreshing while also being very filling and a little heavy because
there was so much.  The heirloom tomatoes were really fresh and
tasty.  I like that they roasted the skins to put on top of the burrata.
Nick got the marrow bone stuff with escargot.
I think what they do is cook the marrow bone to
extract the marrow.  Then they mix the escargot
with the marrow, stuff it back in, and then put it
in the oven to bake.   

Pig feet and sweetbread lobster terrine. 

My lobster and mushroom risotto was amazing.  There were
large chunks of lobster claw meat in a tomato based risotto.
It was extremely rich and filling. 

Since Nick is allergic to lobster, he got the roasted wild Alaskan
halibut over a corn fondue. 

Seared sea scallops with sweetbreads.  I don't think I've ever
knowingly eaten sweetbreads before, but I love them.   They
were neatly nestled on top of a large sea scallop that was cut
in half and separated by perfectly cooked potatoes.  It was like
a scallop/potato layer cake.  On the side is a smear of carrots
that was seasoned with curry.  I liked the brown sauce under
the scallop, but didn't think that the curry flavored carrots
really went with the dish.  I ate it anyway.  

Butter poached lobster on a pea raviolo.  This was my fourth
dish and by this time I was so full that I could barely enjoy it.
I did manage to eat the lobster and half of the raviolo.  Mr.
Fong had to help me out with the raviolo. 

Front view of the poached lobster. 
For my last selection I got the trio of rabbit loin, rack, and
braised leg.  I can't believe they Frenched the bones on the
rack of rabbit.  It was mighty tasty, but I did need a to-go box.

La Folie is pretty famous for their quail and squab.  Melissa
and Mrs. Fong got this.  In the back you can see a little pastry
basket with a quail egg perched. 
Mr. Fong got the lamb rack with ratatouille.  Lamb is usually
my immediate choice, but I don't often see rabbit on menus
so I chose to branch out this time.  The lamb was certainly

A palette cleanser. 
Nick opted for his fifth selection to be the chocolate bread
pudding for dessert. 
As a last gift from the chef, they brought out this complimentary
dessert plate.   I could have gone for another egg with tomato

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tonight's Dinner: September 20, 2012

Tonight for dinner I took the easy way out.  Chicken-a-la-king.  I used boiled chicken that I had defrosted and the left over garlic chicken.  I also chopped up the left over garlic green beans to throw in.  Thank goodness for Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tonight's Dinner: September 19, 2012

I had been wanting to make my family a Chinese-style dinner for a while and finally was able to get around to it last night.  As always, it took forever.  Chinese food takes a lot of time to prepare to begin with, but with only one wok, every dish has to be made individually and then kept warm.  It is a pain and we always eat late.  But at least nothing burned.  This was the first time that I've made the vermicelli noodles.  Usually my mom does it so the flavor didn't turn out correctly.  I guess I will have to practice.  They give me really bad heart burn so I haven't really had the chance to try them on Nick and myself.  I can only make them when cooking for the family.

Smooth steamed eggs, Napa cabbage, vermicelli, stir fried fish, and yam leaves.

When I first made this dish I used snow peas, which was amazing, but Ranch 99
didn't have any so I subbed with soy beans.  I didn't like it as much, but my mom
really enjoyed it.

Yam leave and vermicelli. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tonight's Dinner: September 18, 2012

Nick has been talking about a new video game release for the last week and a half.  It finally released yesterday so I knew that I would be losing my fiance to the TV for the rest of the week.  Since I knew he would be engrossed in shooting aliens (or whatever they are) like he was a character from Starship Troopers, I wanted to get pizza.  I've been getting a lot of pizza cravings since our trip to Malaysia.  But, to save money I cooked dinner instead.  I had a Costco pack of pork tenderloin defrosting in the fridge, a cauliflower that needed to be eaten and pre-made curry packets that I was avoiding because I prefer using blocks of curry.  I also had been wanting to make a seaweed soup and now that it's a little cooler I figured that it was a good time to do it.  I realized while plating that everything I made was either white or brown.  Not so pretty, but it was a pretty balanced meal.

Nick recruited Christopher.  I watched Downton Abbey while they played.  Every
once in a while I would say something, get a long pause, and then Nick would
comment.  He's gotten pretty good a half listening to me.  Christopher was silent.
I guess he hasn't picked up that skill yet.  That's some intense concentration.
I made them a peach puree with apple/grape
juice.  I just used frozen peaches and added
the juice in my Magic Bullet until I got the
consistency of a thick juice.

Curry pork tenderloin.  I just dumped the packets on top of the pork.  Easy and
tasty, but I didn't like that there were bits of vegetable in the sauce.  That weirded
us out a little so we avoided them. 
Extra curry sauce
Roasted cauliflower and garlic
Steamy seaweed soup with extra firm tofu.  Lately my allergies have been kicking
up so my throat is sore from drainage (lovely) and breathing with my mouth open
(lovlier).  All my coworkers need is a mouth breather on their hands. I was inspired
by that pig stomach soup in Malaysia so I added about 2 tbsp of  white pepper,
which made it nice and spicy.  Christopher was having a hard time with it, but I loved it.
 It's probably not the best thing for a sore throat, but the flavor is really what matters
to me most. 


Monday, September 17, 2012

Tonight's Dinner: September 14, 2012

I usually don't cook of Friday nights, but I had pork belly in the fridge that I hadn't cooked up during the week and didn't want to freeze it or let it go to waste.  Since it takes so long to make, I had scheduled it for Friday so that we didn't have to worry about eating late and then going to bed right away.  It turned out surprisingly well considering I was playing it by ear.  The preparation didn't take much time at all, but the entire cook time was about three hours.

First I seared the pork belly slabs on both sides.
Second, I threw in carrots, celery, shallots, and whole garlic cloves, chicken
stock and water.
As a last minute idea, I threw in some halved Roma tomatoes for the stewing.
After bringing it to a boil, I covered the pot and let it simmer on low heat for
about three hours while I did my nails. 
For the orzo, I pulled about a cup and a half of the braising liquid from the
dutch oven and added another cup and a half of water.  I added as many of
the vegetables as I could to the cooking liquid. They were extremely soft and
broke up well when the orzo was cooking, making it even tastier.

Because I was doing my nails, I quickly and
carefully chopped off the tops of two heads of
garlic for roasting.  We mashed the garlic and tossed
our string beans in them.

This is what the pork looked like after about three hours and the liquid had
nearly evaporated.  Not very pretty, but it was packed with flavor and completely
fell off the bone and separated from the fat, which is good. 


It was a pretty eventful weekend.  On Saturday we went to my 10-year high school reunion, which turned out less painful as I thought it would be.  I was always known as "Gary's girlfriend", but with the help of name tags, people seemed to remember me well enough.  I can't completely say the same for myself.  Even with name tags there were people who I completely didn't remember, but there were other who I was genuinely pleased to see.  Plus, Nick, Abby and I made a quick getaway before we go too sucked into the drunkenness.  They were starting up a game of badminton and we didn't want to have to stay for any other games. Later in the evening we had a nice Chinese dinner with Nick's parents.

On Sunday we had our macaron tasting for the wedding.  They were divine.  I actually like Sugarie better than Bouchon.  The macarons were quite a bit smaller, but they were much more tender.  The macaroons at Bouchon, while very good, are a little cakier.  We did take pictures, but that would spoil all the fun for the reveal at the wedding.  We also have to do some number crunching to make sure they're within our budget before we make any major decisions.  Right now it is looking good though. 

The bakers share a space with four other
bakers/catering companies so they came to
us instead of us driving all the way to them.
I figured the least I could was to put out some
cheese help cut through the sweetness.  Plus,
Rob and Linda were coming to help us taste
test and I know that Rob is a cheese lover like