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Monday, April 30, 2007

Gina & Guiseppe's Tulsa, OK

If you are ever in the Tulsa area and looking for a place to be shunned, well I have the place for you. This weekend, I went to Tulsa to visit my son, Ryan. On Saturday afternoon we decided to see a movie (Vacancy- we both liked it) at Riverwalk Crossing. It is a nice new shopping center on the Arkansas river in Jenks, OK where Ryan lives. After the movie, we walked along the river because they were having an art fair. It was around 6:30pm so we decided to check out Gina & Guiseppe's . They have been voted "Tulsa areas favorite Italian restaurant" according to some local magazine. We checked out the menu, which looked nice, with brick oven pizza's, paninis and pasta's. There were empty tables, so we were in luck, or so we thought. When we walked up to the hostess station, I said hi to the hostess and she ignored me! We stood there for 5 minutes, without being acknowledged once. There were actually 2 young ladies working the stand and an older woman, who could have been the manager or the owner. None of them even looked at us! We of coarse decided to leave and will never go back. One of my biggest pet peeves is bad customer service! When you walk into a restaurant and say hello, I don't care how busy you are, you acknowledge the customer. They weren't even that busy. I will email them and let them know of my experience, but obviously, when you are voted the best, you don't have to worry about treating a potential customer well.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Spaghetti Sauce w/Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

One of my favorite dishes growing up was my Mom's spaghetti and meatballs. I loved watching her prepare the sauce. It always impressed me that she never used a recipe , but the sauce was always perfect. Through the years I have tried to make my sauce the same way, but it never seems to be quite right. I never use recipes either and always come up with something a little different. Now that I am writing this blog, I keep a pen and paper close by so that I can jot down the amounts and time and all that other important stuff you need to write a recipe. Here is a sauce I prepared last week using flat leaf parsley instead of basil. This makes lots of sauce, enough for about 1 1/2 pounds of pasta. It can easily be halved for a smaller portion.

Spaghetti Sauce w/ Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
1 cup Italian red wine, like Chianti
1 (29 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes in heavy puree
2 tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Add the red wine and cook on high until liquid is almost gone, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt and peppers.
If using meatballs, add at this point and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Serve over hot cooked spaghetti noodles.

Italian Meatballs

I never prepare my meatballs the same way, just like my red sauce. This is the recipe I used last the last time. I typically make them a little spicier, but these were very good. I prepare the spaghetti sauce in the same pan as the meatballs, so that the wine deglazed the pan and all those nice brown bits from the meatballs were incorporated into the sauce.

Italian Meatballs

1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground lean beef
1/2 cup Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

Place all ingredients into a bowl and lightly mix, careful not to overwork the meat. Form into 1 1/2" to 2" balls.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large 12 inch skillet. Brown the meatballs, in batches. Turn to brown on all sides and remove to a large baking pan. When you have browned all the meat, place the baking pan in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and add to spaghetti sauce and cook for 30 minutes longer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Man & His Meatballs

Anyone who knows me knows I love to read as much as I like to cook. I have a large collection of cookbooks, some very old, that I love to read. Whenever I come across a book with recipes like Under the Tuscan Sky, I am in heaven. I was in the bookstore last week and saw this book A Man & His Meatballs and was pleased to see not only great looking recipes, but a memoir on how John LaFemina opened his Manhattan restaurant Apizz. Of coarse the book is much cheaper online, so I sent away for it. The memoir is 81 pages , so it is a quick read and I completed it the day it arrived. It's funny and informative. The recipes look great and I can't wait to try out some of the soup recipes. I will definitely check this place out next time I'm in New York. Gina, go and check this place out. It's on Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side. The web address for the restaurant is

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cedar Plank Salmon Revisited

When I wrote a post on cedar plank salmon, an anonymous person thought 20 minutes was too long to cook the fish and that something was wrong with my grill. I decided to look up some other recipes for cedar plank salmon and found out that 20 minutes was not out of line. Bobby Flay cooks his that way as does Elizabeth Karmel in "Taming the Flame". Then I took out my package of cedar planks and actually looked at the instructions and they also say 20 minutes. As I said in my post I like my fish well done and after 20 minutes minutes on a plank , it comes out perfectly cooked and nice and smoky. I prepared it again last night just to make sure. This time I used the same marinade recipe, but added 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and made sure to salt and pepper them before grilling.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The FDA and Chocolate

Okay folks, while it seems that the FDA does not have the time to insure the safety of our food or the food of our pets, they do have the time to tamper with chocolate. Go to this website, and check it out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cedar Plank Salmon

We were at Costco the other day and found this beautiful salmon, it was just over 2 pounds and cost $14.00. I decided this would be perfect for the grill. I cut it in half and placed one half in the freezer and cut the other half in half again, to grill. I love the flavor that the cedar plank imparts on the fish along with the smoke from the grill. It doesn't get much better than this and so simple too. You can find cedar planks at Target that are cheaper than Williams-Sonoma, I've even seen them in the grocery stores. I cook our salmon through, I know that lots of places serve them practically rare these days, but Mikey don't go for that. I like my fish cooked!!

Cedar Plank Salmon

1 cedar plank
2 salmon fillets (1 to 1 1/2 lbs. total)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper

Soak the cedar plank for 2 hours. Place salmon in a small baking dish, zest the lemon over the top. Juice the lemon and pour over fish with white wine. Add garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let the fish marinate for 30 minutes before grilling, turning after 15 minutes.
In the meantime heat the grill. Place the cedar plank on the grill over hot coals and leave it there for 3 to 4 minutes until it starts to smoke. Place salmon on the plank. Cover grill and cook 20 minutes, until fish is cooked through.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Grilled Buffalo Burgers

In an earlier post I talked about grilling buffalo burgers and the benefits of using buffalo as compared to beef. I failed to give the recipe, because it was one of those things I put together without really paying attention to what I did. Last night I grilled them out again and checked my measurements. These are very easy and I always get loads of compliments on them! The seasoning salt I use is 4S from Penzey's, I think it is the best one out there.

Grilled Buffalo Burgers

1 lb. ground buffalo meat
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
seasoning salt and fresh ground black pepper

Gently mix the meat with breadcrumbs and Worcestershire sauce, careful not to overwork the meat. Divide evenly into 4 pieces and form into 4 patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper and place onto hot grill.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tatsu's Cafe and Bar

Last night we went to dinner with our friends, Dan and Larry. They've just recently moved into a new condo in midtown, so we went to check it out. The place is beautiful, they both have incredible taste. After a tour of their place, cocktails and appetizers, we headed a few blocks to Westport to eat at Tatsu's. This place was incredible! Dan and Larry have been there before and really like it! There was only one other table being occupied at the time, which is unfortunate, because this place is so good! Westport draws a younger crowd that obviously does not appreciate this type of food. The prices are very reasonable and the portions are big. We will definitely go back. Tatsu's has been around for awhile in Johnson County and it's nice to have them closer. This is the kind of place that should have gone into Briarcliff Village as opposed to The Cafe.
I started my meal with a very tasty Mojito ($4 special) and a wonderful Crab Bisque. The bisque was smooth and creamy and full of pieces of crab meat. My Dan had the House Salad that was dressed perfectly in a nice creamy vinaigrette ($3.95). For my dinner, I had the Pork Tenderloin Peppercorn. This was one of the best dishes I have ever eaten! The pork was covered in a creamy peppercorn sauce, that was rich and thick. There was rice, wonderful carrots, broccoli and roasted potatoes. For $15.95 this was a great deal. Dan had the Salmon Menuiere, which was thinly sliced salmon, pan seared in a lemon sauce. This was Oh My Gosh Good!. I don't like to eat fish all that much, but I would order this again. Larry had the Tilapia Menuiere which was also very good and Dan had the Shrimp Pastry. Our food bill was only $35.85, the liquor added another $20.00.
They are located at 419 Westport Road, KCMO and their phone number is 816-531-1616. This place is worth trying out.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spanish Rice Beef Bake

Last night was one of those clean out the cabinets nights. I did not have anything planned to prepare and did not want to go out, so I looked in the cabinets and freezer and put this together. Dan loved it, he loves casseroles. Personally I liked it, but felt it could have been better. Maybe a jalapeno pepper to spice it up some.

Spanish Rice Beef Bake

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
1 (6.8 oz) box Spanish Rice Mix
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 cups water
1 (11 oz) can Mexicorn
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown beef in large skillet, drain fat. Add taco seasoning and 1/4 cup of water, cook an additional 5 minutes. Place into an 8x11.5x2 2qt. baking dish. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in same skillet, add rice and vermicelli from box and cook for 2 minutes to brown the vermicelli. Remove from heat, add 2 1/2 cups water and tomato paste. Stir until mixture is smooth. Add seasoning packet from rice and corn, stir to mix. Pour into baking dish with beef and stir to mix. Bake for 50 minutes. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream.

Impeach George W. Bush!!!!

Okay, I know, this is definitely not about food and I have always told myself that I would leave politics out of my blog. But enough is enough and this is my blog.
I am proud to live in America. This is a country where I can say what I want, like George W. Bush is an idiot and should be impeached. The man is an illegitimate President, who was placed in his position by the Supreme Court. He has continually lied to the American people, from the war in Iraq to the firing of US Attorneys. His administration is corrupt and they are turning our Constitution upside down.
George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are the world's biggest assholes and need to be taken out of office before more harm is done to this country. The wars are huge messes and we are losing way to many of our young people for the sake of this administrations egos. Our civil liberties are being stomped on and we all sit back and let it happen.
Now more than ever, it is time to say no more Bush and no more Dick!!!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Irradiated Food

I don't know about the rest of you out there, but this really bothers me. I personally do not want to eat food that has been irradiated. I believe that if food producers irradiate food then the package needs to say it specifically. We should be able to make our own choices on this matter and mislabeled food will make it harder for us to do that.

FDA Considers Mislabeling Irradiated Food

Press Release Food & Water Watch, April 3, 2007 Straight to the Source
From CommonDreams.orgCONTACT: Food and Water WatchJen Mueller: 202-797-6553, jmueller@fwwatch.orgPatty Lovera: 202-797-6557,

FDA Considers Mislabeling Irradiated Food "The Food and Drug Administration announced today that it may allow irradiated food to be mislabeled with alternate terms such as 'pasteurized.' This move by FDA would deny consumers clear information about whether they are buying food that has been exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation."Consumers have been reluctant to buy irradiated food, and rightly so. Irradiation damages many foods and can ruin their flavor, odor, and texture. The process destroys vitamins, protein, essential fatty acids and other nutrients - up to 80 percent of vitamin A in eggs and half the beta carotene in orange juice, the FDA has noted."The proposal is a clear gift to the irradiation industry, which has been struggling for years. The request to change labeling rules for irradiated food is not a new one. In 2002, the Farm Bill instructed the FDA to re-consider its labeling rules for irradiated food, which require irradiated food to bear the radura symbol and a disclosure statement ('treated with irradiation' or 'treated by irradiation.')"The public is no more enthusiastic about changing the label than about irradiated food itself. Thousands of Americans submitted comments in opposition to proposed changes irradiation labels in 1999 and 2002, and polls consistently demonstrate consumer support for accurate labeling with the word 'irradiation.'"Consumers have a right to know if their food has been exposed to ionizing radiation. FDA should be implementing rules that guarantee that right, not allowing the meat and irradiation industries to mislead consumers into buying something they might otherwise avoid. We urge FDA to abandon this proposed rule change and will urge consumers to object to the agency's dangerous proposal."An example of the radura symbol can be found at

Lemon Yogurt Pie

Iris, one of my favorite volunteers, is one of the best makers of sweets I know. She is diabetic and cannot eat sweets, but she loves to bring them in to us. She makes the world's most incredible sticky buns, they are big and gooey and you can't eat just one. The other day she brought in this pie that she made with yogurt and jello. She used lemon, but said you could use any flavor. You could also use fat-free yogurt and make it all the more healthier. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me. She changed the recipe just a little. Instead of adding the entire tub of Cool Whip, she reserves about 1 1/4 cups and puts it on the top. The recipe she gave me does not reserve any topping.

Lemon Yogurt Pie

1 box lemon Jello
1/4 cup hot water
2 (6 oz) containers lemon yogurt
1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip
1 Graham Cracker Crust

Mix Jello and water in bowl to dissolve the Jello, let cool. Add yogurt and Cool Whip and mix. Pour mixture into crust, refrigerate for 2 hours. Garnish with Cool Whip and strawberry slices if desired.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Blood Orange Juice Marinade for Chicken

This is the marinade I made for chicken. I used it on boneless skinless chicken breasts and left them in the marinade for an hour.

Blood Orange Marinade

2 tbsp. blood orange juice
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried granulated garlic

Mix all the ingredients, place in large resealable plastic bag with chicken. Gently run into the chicken and set aside for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Shake off excess marinade before placing on the grill.

Blood Orange Sauce

I have had this recipe for awhile now and have finally been able to use it. For so long you could not find blood oranges in KC, but they seem to be plentiful this year. We first came upon them in 2000 on our first trip to Italy and while they are not quite the same here, they do impart a little different taste than regular oranges. I will be extremely thrilled when we are able to get blood orange juice in the refrigerated section of the store.
This sauce is great over grilled chicken and I came up with a nice marinade to use . The sauce recipe is here and I will post the marinade after this.

Blood Orange Sauce

1 cup blood orange sauce (about 6 oranges)
1 shallot finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper

Simmer blood orange juice over low heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and reserve. In a small saucepan combine shallots and wine vinegar and reduce over low heat. Add white wine, chicken broth and reduce again. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in olive oil until incorporated. Stir in reserved blood orange syrup, strain sauce and keep warm. Serve over grilled chicken.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Seat Belts and Helmet Laws

Okay, so this one is not about food, but I heard this on the news this morning and it's really bugging me. Our illustrious state legislators (MO) are about to send 2 new bills for our idiot governor to sign into law. The first one is a helmet law that says people in Missouri will now get to ride their motorcycles without a helmet. So be it, if that is their choice, I say let them live with it. The other law is a seat belt law. They are going to make it easier for the cops to ticket people for not driving with seat belts on. Is it just me, or is this a little contradictory? Stricter seat belt laws and looser helmet laws just does not make sense to me. Maybe the next thing they can tackle is allowing mounted automatic weapons on the outside of your vehicle.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Pork Loin Iowa Chops

Sunday was the perfect day for grilling. I am one of those people who grill no matter the weather, but some days really scream out for lighting up the Weber. We went to Hy-Vee to pick up chicken , but were enticed by these beautiful chops behind the counter. They were called Pork Loin Iowa Chops and were about 3/4" thick. I brought them home and covered them in 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, fresh ground black pepper and some Sel & Herbes. The Sel & Herbes is from Oliviers & Co. ( O & Co.) and is a mix of sea salt, marjoram, tomato flakes, green chives and onion. They grilled up beautifully and they were moist and juicy!! I served them with mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus.
If you are fortunate enough to have an O & Co. in your area, take advantage of the great service their stores provide. Ordering on line from them is not the easiest thing to do, but you can always contact a shop and they will ship the stuff to you. We first encountered them in Paris and have grown to appreciate the many oils and spices they sell.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Rising Moon Organics Ravioli

We picked this ravioli up not too long ago at Green Acres Market. When we returned from our trip , I was looking for something easy to fix and saw this in the freezer. It is Rising Moon Organics Basil, Asiago & Pine Nut Pesto Ravioli. This ravioli cooked up perfectly when I followed the directions and the flavor was great. I tossed the cooked pasta in some olive oil that I heated and added a minced clove of garlic to. The stuffing was very nice without overpowering flavors and they puffed up perfectly. This is another one of those products that I plan on keeping in the freezer.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Trader Joe's Matcha Green Tea Cake Mix

When we were in Chicago last time, much to my delight, there was a Trader Joe's right by our hotel. Ever since our friend Alicia turned us on to them in Phoenix, I always look for them where ever we go. I could not walk in without picking something up , so I got this cake mix and some treats for Gabby. I made the Matcha Green Tea Cake, this past week and really enjoyed it. I was sceptical of it at first , but with some fat- free vanilla ice cream it was a great treat. You can either bake it as an 8 inch square cake or muffins. I prepared it as a cake and followed the instructions to a tee. The cake came out perfect and if you like green tea you will like this cake. It is not overly sweet and simple to make. It requires 2 eggs, 1/2 stick of melted butter and 2/3 cup of water. I would buy this again and try out some of the other flavors they offered. Gabby loved her Peanut Butter filled dog treats, too!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Mamita's Beach Club

While on our trip to Mexico we seemed to only do two things, lay on the beach or eat. At the beach we had access to, we sometimes did both at the same time. Well, we actually got off of our beach chairs and walked up to the open air cafe at Mamita's Beach Club and ate lunch there a couple of times. While Dan and I ate chicken or steak nachos, our friends Dan and Larry, ate fried red snapper. They fried the entire fish after breading them and making slits on the sides. While I have always had a hard time dealing with whole fish, the fins and tails and the "oh my God look at those eyes" sort of things, these were incredibly good. Where they made the slits, you could pull the fish off in pieces resembling fish sticks that were free of bone. Of coarse ,we also drank a couple of cheladas to wash it all down. Playa Del Carmen was a great place to visit and Mamita's Beach Club was a great place to eat, the service was friendly and fast and the food was great!