Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I am always on the hunt for Chocolate Chip Cookies that are going to best my favorite Williams Sonoma Cookie recipe.  This recipe from is a WINNER!

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter (I used shortening because that was what I had on hand)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy and it ROCKED!!!!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degree F

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth.  Stir in peanut butter, vanilla and egg until well blended.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt; stir into batter until moistened.  Mix in the oats and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.  Drop by tablespoonfuls on to lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes in preheated oven, until the edge start to brown.  Cool on cookie sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

These cookies TOTALLY rival the 'How to Score a Husband Cookies!"  I LOVE all the components in these cookies!  They are definitely going into the cookie vault!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Harvesting Apples!

Today we visited a pick your own fruit farm in Northern Virginia called Hartland Farm and Orchard.  Hartland Orchard is found in some pretty AMAZING countryside not far from several wineries and other pick your own fruit farms.  When you enter the property you can see cows and horses grazing in pastures or lazing in the pond, cute white farm houses and orchards that seem to go on and on.  It is always nice to visit someone else's farm.  You get a small taste of the fruits of their labors without having to go through the hassle of planting the crops, watering, fertilizing or treating for insects...but you get to enjoy 45 minutes to an hour of pure romantic harvesting.  And then when the bugs start to irritate you because they are flying in your ears and you forgot to spray your head with bug can pay for your fruit and get out!

We left Hartland Farms and Orchard with a half peck of all different kinds of apples and a full peck of peaches.  I was extremely impressed with the quality of the fruit on their trees!  Before we even got our haul home I was already making plans for our apples.  I planned to make a crisp, but accidentally typed Apple Cobbler into the search engine and found several recipes.  I've made LOTS of Peach Cobbler, but Apple Cobbler?  Oh Yeah!

French Apple Cobbler:
5 cups tart apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar - you could use less depending on how sweet your apples are
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, slightly beaten

Combine apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, vanilla and water.  Turn into a lightly buttered 9-inch square pan.  Dot apples with butter.

Combine all topping ingredients and beat with wooden spoon until batter is smooth.  Drop batter in 9 portions over the apples, spacing evenly.  Batter with spread during baking.

Bake 35- 40 minutes at 375 F or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.  Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

Serves 6-8

The apples I used were SUPER sweet and crazy flavorful, so I could have gotten by with using less sugar.  I also didn't serve with ice cream, which could have been part of the reason for the abundant sweetness. :)  Because I was originally thinking of a crisp, I kinda wanted more texture.  Next time I might try adding oats.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Unintentional One Pan Meal

We arrived in the D.C. area at the beginning of August and signed a lease within days of arriving.  Unfortunately, the movers can't deliver our stuff for TWO WEEKS!!!  I have been cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner in a sauce pan.  Yes, you read that right...a SAUCE PAN!  Not to mention cutting everything with a plastic knife.  Where is my Santoku knife when I need it?  The freaking movers have it in storage!  I told Alex this week that whenever he gets mad at me, he better remember this time in our marriage when I used a plastic knife to slice red peppers.

Being the want-to-be-gourmet that I am, I didn't let the lack of tools keep me from feeding my family healthy, home-cooked meals.  I actually made some pretty ROCKIN' meals with my sauce pan...well, rockin' considering I only had a sauce pan and limited spices because those are packed up too.  I did find my kosher salt, but I missed my olive oil and pepper something awful!

One pan...well, sort of one pan...Chicken, Bean and Rice Burritos:
1 chicken breast
1 packet taco seasoning
1 small can corn
1 can chili beans
1 1/2 cups instant rice
Flour tortillas
Cheese (optional)
Salsa (optional)

Using your trusty sauce pan, place chicken in the pan and cover with water, adding taco seasoning packet and bring to a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes. Strain corn and beans and add to boiling chicken mixture in your handy sauce pan.  Cook for 3-5 minutes to warm through corn and beans.  

Strain out the solids, retaining 1 1/2 cups taco seasoning broth mixture.  Add 1 1/2 cups instant rice to taco seasoning broth mixture.  I was able to do this in the only tupperware container I have on hand.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes.  

Place tortilla on plate and load up with chicken, corn and bean mixture, rice, cheese and salsa.

While this reason won't be winning any awards, it certainly was a great stomach filler after a long day of moving boxes in the Eastern humidity.  And once I get all my spices back, I might try this one out again.

Monday, August 6, 2012

South Side Diner in Goshen, Indiana

You know what ROCKS about driving cross country?  We got the opportunity to stop at several restaurants Guy Fieri visited on his Diners, Drive-Inn's and Dives Show.  Each time we entered a new state I looked up the restaurants he visited in that state.  If they were not too far from the highway, we checked them out.  Not too far off I-80 a little ways past the exit for Notre Dame we stopped at South Side Soda Shop and Diner in Goshen, Indiana.

Goshen, Indiana is SUPER small town.  The Main Street in Goshen has a ton of cute, locally owned shops that you can stroll down boardwalk style.  I was impressed to see that the town appeared to be flourishing with tourists.  Farther down the Main Street you'll find the South Side Soda Shop and Diner in an old trolley car.  The entrance is at the back of the building...which is confusing because if you go to the front entrance you'll walk into the kitchen area.  YIKES!  The diner is cute and divey with old pennants on the wall as decoration.  The specialty here is their Philly Cheese Steak sandwich which you can get with or without cheese or pizza style with marinara sauce.  I had the straight up Philly Cheese Steak.  The cheese was mixed in with the steak mixture and I could tell it was not made with 'real' cheese.  I suspect (without remembering how they showed it on the show) that it was made with Cheese Whiz or Velveeta.  The hoagie bun it was served on was HUGE and could have contained more of the Cheese Steak mixture.  It was served with these SWEET homemade, curly potatoes that were curled using an apple slicer.

For dessert I tried their lemon meringue pie that was also featured on Diner's, Drive-Inn's and Dives.  I am not a fan of meringue, but the lemon custard and crust were phenomenal!

Even though this out of the way stop lost us an hour of driving, it was definitely worth the stop.  It is fun to check out these stops that Guy Fieri visit's to see if the food is really as 'SPOT ON' as he says it is.  :)  

Visiting Bob Evans

For those of you on the East coast who have regular access to Bob Evans, you might wonder why someone is blogging about their eating experience at Bob Evans.  Well, I'm a West coast girl who has never eaten at Bob Evans.  I have only seen their sausage at the grocery store and wondered what was so special about our friend Bob Evans.  I think there is a LOT special about Bob Evans.

There wasn't much special about the restaurant when we walked in, it was like your average breakfast joint.  Considering that all I knew about Bob Evans before walking into this restaurant was his sausage, I wasn't surprised to see that most of the breakfast items included sausage and gravy.  I ordered the Biscuit Bowl, which was a giant biscuit in the shape of a bowl loaded up with country hash browns, scrambled eggs, brown gravy, cheese and some fresh green onions on top.  

It was pretty dang good!  Of course it was a restaurant style meal, meaning the portion was ENORMOUS and loaded with lots of extra fat and salt.  This meal gave me an idea for a new breakfast meal at our house though...I plan to try these out in muffin pans to keep the portion size to a minimum.  Stay tuned!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Visiting Big Mama's Place in Omaha, NE

We are on the road this week moving cross country to the Washington, DC area so we stopped in Omaha for a last breakfast, that ended up being lunch because of a late start.  I LOVE Guy Fieri's show Diner's, Drive-Inn's and Dives and try to frequent the restaurants that are highlighted on his show.  We found Big Mama's Kitchen and Catering located in an old cafeteria that reminded me of the hospital cafeteria where my mom worked when I was little.  It was quirky as hell and I LOVED IT!!!

I ordered the Afro Burger, which is "hand-rolled choice ground beef with a fiery hot blend of seasonings, simmered in Big Mam's Spicy BBQ sauce and served on a fresh hoagie bun."  HOLY SPICINESS, Big Mama!!!  Dang, was it AWESOME!  Thank goodness I ordered the coleslaw to go along with it because I needed the cool creaminess of the slaw to wash down the pure spicy, goodness of the Afro Burger.  I'm pretty sure it put hair on my chest too!

My daughter ordered the chicken tenders and I happened to sneak a bite...Oh my!  The breading on the tenders was AMAZING (imagine a choir singing Hallelujah! while eating these babies.)  It wasn't the thick nasty breading with little meat, you expect from most places these days, but a FABULOUSLY think crust of flour and cornmeal.  OH YEAH!  If I hadn't already stuffed myself with the Afro Burger, I would have gobbled up all of my daughter's meal too.

We finished up our meal with a scoop each of the homemade...and I mean...homemade Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream that had CHUNKS of yummy Red Velvet goodness.  I am already concocting in my head how to make something similar to share with you!  The guy at the next table from us told me he liked the ice cream to much he already had a half gallon of it in his ice box at home.

The service at Big Mama's is delightful!  I LOVED our servers and the clientele are wonderful.  I left wishing I could stay longer...maybe even get a job and learn how to make some of that yummy food.  Next time you're in Omaha, Nebraska, check out the folks at Big Mama's!