Monday, September 17, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Sometimes, during the summer, I go out of town on a trip or two and leave my sad garden home all alone and neglected.  Rather than rue my absence, it puts all its energy into growth.
While I was processing this giant zucchini, I watched Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.
And then I decided that this zucchini needed to be baked into a cake.  Too tough and stringy for anything else.  Weight loss shows and cake.  hmm.
I got the recipe from my favorite recipe standby,  The cake came together quite easily.  Since I wanted to do something a little fancy with it, I made two batches (I mean, I wasn't exactly working with a shortage of zucchini here).
So, nothing says fancy like canned cherry pie filling in the food processor, right?
Shut up.  It was totally delicious. 
The only thing left to do is make some frosting.  I used cherry flavored jelly to stabilize a whipped cream icing recipe.  I also froze the cake just to make sure it travelled well.  By the time dinner was over, the cake was thawed but still delightfully cool.
Here is my taste test sample using the bits I cut off the cake when I leveled it.
And here, is the finished product!  Voila!  You like what I did with that parchment paper?  Pretty terrific trick if you ask me.

The recipe I linked above is just for the single layer of the cake itself.  You can find a whipped cream icing recipe online with a google search.  And canned pie filling, well, that part is self explanatory!

I sure am going to miss the yummy fruits of my garden after the season is over!  Maybe it'll miss me and grow something fun for me to discover in the spring.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Garden

One of my great joys is eating the fruits of my labor from the backyard garden.  I've always had garden help from a roommate, but the woman with the garden knowledge moved out this year, and I was on my own.
In the fall, I decided to try planting a "Second Season."  Except I waited way too long, so nothing really grew until spring.  In the spring, I had some unruly romaine lettuce, one head of spinach, and onions.  Look at the size of that lettuce leaf!!

While it was nice to have some produce early on in the gardening season, practically everything bolted, and I wasn't able to use very much of it.  I think this was due to my school schedule prohibiting work in the garden, but I don't entirely recall.

All excuses aside, I did manage to get a lot of plants in the ground over spring break. 

This year, the strawberry patch really took off.  It's huge, and I imagine I'll have to take action to prevent it from spreading out any further.  I think I'll be thinning it out later in the summer, and trying to put something under the berries so they don't rot.

The berries I got were a mixed lot.  They didn't have as much flavor as I was hoping for, and randomly you would bite into a normal looking strawberry and it would taste terrible.  I did some research on how to grow them, and am planning some changes for next year.  I love strawberries, and this patch saved me some serious dough.

Remarkably, the raspberry and blueberry bushes I planted in the fall put out a couple berries.  I intended to eat them, but some scoundrel of an animal got a full belly before I did.
That animal got a lot of full bellies before I took defensive action:
I got that owl statue at Home Depot..He was the very last one, and he only has one eye.  The store employee gave me a discount on the spot.  I think I made out ahead, since now not only do I have an owl, it's a pirate owl as well.  I named him Blackbeard, after his pirate heritage.  Sometimes I rotate him to different fence posts just to mix it up.

Anywho, in the picture above, you can see my mistake...I planted about 5 zucchini plants.  They are so cute when they are seedlings!  You just don't realize how many zucchini they are going to produce.  At first it was fun looking at all the shapes and sizes.

But then I went out of town for two weeks and look what I came back to!!
Ok, I am smiling in the picture, so I have to admit that it wasn't all that bad.  I just peeled back the shell (the skin had turned super tough) and dug out the seeds, and shredded them.  No problemo!

My next challenge hasn't really been photographed yet.  I let the tomatoes rot into the garden last year thinking it would help refresh the soil.  Unfortunately, they re-seeded themselves and made new baby tomato plants!

I did a seed and seedling swap with a friend, so I already had three tomato plants going into the spring.  Unfortunately, I ended up with about 20 or so plants.  Obviously they don't all fit in my small garden plot, but I just couldn't bear to kill them.

I was only able to find homes for 3-4 plants, so I put a few in pots and left the rest in the ground.  The garden is insane right now.

I'm guessing I'll have between 200-500 cherry tomatoes all at once.  My mother has promised to teach me the art of home canning.  My first canning recipe is a zucchini tomato salsa.  Surprise, surprise!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ria's Bluebird: The Best Pancakes in the World

Whenever I travel, I do my best to look up tasty food opportunities before I leave.  In 2009, I visited Atlanta for work.  On the menu?  Ria's Bluebird, billed as having The Best Pancakes in the World.

This year, we took a trip to Atlanta over Easter, and Ria's was the first place we headed for food.

While waiting for our breakfast, I had David take my picture for the blog!
 For the sake of posterity, here is a picture of me from the last time I was at Ria's.  Yep, used to be blond!!
Back to the modern day and my brunette ways:  it didn't take long for our food to arrive.  We split the 'Fat Stack' with toasted Georgia pecans and sausage links.
This might be a bit dorkier than I wish to admit, but I made sure both of us were wearing blue shirts for our visit to Ria's BLUEbird.  heehee.

Just one picture left for this post, an action shot!

If you find yourself in Atlanta, definitely make time for Ria's Bluebird.  I've heard it gets really crowded on the weekend, which is an awesome sign.  Get the pancakes.  Yum!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Provencal Rack of Lamb

My boyfriend really enjoys lamb.  We recently spent an evening cooking up some for dinner and I thought I'd share the recipe with you since it looked so pretty.

Here is a picture of me, holding up the rack of lamb.
The first order of business was to get the lamb nicely browned on all sides.  I started with it this way first because I liked the way it looked when it was stood up like that:

After it was browned, David got busy smearing it with a spice mixture while I sauteed some onions and took some pictures for the blog.
Then we put everything together in the pan and baked it for a little while.
Doesn't this look pretty?
And voila!  Delicious dinner for two!
Here is a link to the recipe.  I didn't use tomatoes because I didn't have any.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

La Poste Eatery

For Valentine's Day this year, we decided to go out for a nice dinner.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll remember that last year we went to a cabin in the woods near Walland, Tennessee (you can read that blog entry here).  We went for a smaller scale celebration this year because we are saving for a fun in the sun type vacation later in the year.

We happened to have a gift certificate for La Poste Eatery and I'd been wanting to visit there for a while.  However, you had to spend $100 to get $50 off, which is more than we spend on a typical evening out.  That made it the perfect destination for our special meal.

Now, La Poste is a nice restaurant, but you could quite easily get out of there without spending $100.  We reviewed the menu (You can see their menu on their website) ahead of our visit and strategized, but didn't quite settle on a solid selection.  We probably should have, as we ended up overspending the discount by quite a bit, but it didn't matter-we had a wonderful time and all the little extras truly played into that.
Instead of my typical glass of red wine, we tried a couple of their cocktails.  I got a margarita like concoction called Taylor Made, and David got a mixture of fruit juices with rum called a Winter Storm.  They were tasty and strong, but not overly so.

We started with three appetizers, Baked Brie en Croute (Cheese is a puff shell like crust), Seared Scallops, and Pommes Frites.  Here is a blurry cell phone pic:

David and I both agreed that the Seared Scallops and Brie en Croute far outshine the french fries.  I wouldn't bother with the fries again.

For the main course, David got Fried Chicken.  He said it was ok, but that if we went back he would try something different.
I got the Butcher's Cut (daily special), which was a massive 12 oz. NY Strip Steak.  I would definitely get this again, though we would most likely split it.  Who needs to eat that much beef?
Under the meat pile was a delightful hash of sorts.  I have no idea what was in it, but it was yummy.  Probably a mix of potato, bacon, onion, and bell pepper. 

The only thing I didn't like:  The chef also made some sort of rectangle shaped crab meatloaf, which is hiding under the steak and the hash.  I'm not sure what was in that either, but it was dry and had the texture of an omelet.  I took a couple nibbles of it but didn't end up eating it.

I requested a glass of wine with dessert and the waiter sent over their sommelier to help me pick something.  He asked if I had any preferences, and I didn't, so he picked out a sweet cherry tasting red wine to go along with the bread pudding I'd picked for dessert.

Truthfully, I didn't end up caring for the wine that much, but since that sommelier had never picked out wine for me before, and I didn't give him anything to go on, you can't blame him for me not liking the wine he picked. 

I got the bread pudding for dessert.  I didn't remember to take a picture before I dug into it, so here it is with about a third of it eaten:
David had the apple crisp:
When I asked David what his favorite part of the meal was, he said, "apart from being with you?" and gave me a smooch :).  Such a love bird. 

We plan on going back to La Poste.  There are a few other dishes I would like to try (Crimson Pear Salad, Flatbread, Mushroom Ravioli), and I would like to sample more of their wine selection.

When we go back, I'll ask that we be seated in the smaller of the two dining rooms.  As we were leaving, I peaked into the smaller dining room, which seemed much more intimate and romantic, which is what I am usually looking for when enjoying finer establishments.  They also had church pew like seats by the entry door where two diners could sit side by side-that's always our preference instead of leaning over a table trying to talk.

La Poste Eatery is yummy.  We will definitely return there in the future.  Have you been there?  What was your favorite dish?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Eli's BBQ

Eli's BBQ will change your life.

News about this delicious bbq has been all over the web for months...first I heard about him serving food at Findlay Market.  Then I heard rumor that he was opening a shop in the East End.
I decided we had to make the journey.  I even had the perfect day in mind, Friday, January 6th.  This was the day of my LASIK surgery, and as I would be sleeping all day, I would have plenty of calories to 'spend' on my dinner.

As soon as David was home from work, I convinced him to take me down to the East End for some dinner.  Naturally, I was wearing my sexy LASIK goggles.    I was hoping someone would ask if I was Ray Charles but nobody did.

When we pulled up, I was greatly amused to see a man in a pig costume waving at cars while eating a pork rib.  Cannibal!!!  I snapped his photo while we waited for our meals.
David tried the smoked dogs, while my dinner was the pulled pork sandwich, which was tasty, but doesn't hold a candle to the dogs.  I had terrible food envy.  Luckily David let me share a bit of his.

When Eli came by the table to check in on us, I told him how much I liked the hot dogs.  To which he replied, 'those dogs are stupid!'  Which I can only imagine is short for stupid good!  He's right.  They are stupid good.  It's stupid how good they are.  Seriously.

We went back for lunch on Saturday as well.  What can I say?  It's tasty :)

Eli remembered us (probably because I was the only person wearing my sunglasses at night and I look like Ray Charles) and told me if we visited three days in a row we might need to join a program :)

David got rib tips and I got the dogs.  Again, I succumbed to food envy. The rib tips were amazing.  The dogs were amazing.  I left happy with a full belly.  I may need to buy a treadmill.

This will definitely enter our lineup of awesome dinner options.  Yum!!!