We Are Back On Track

The Smell of Success is in the air tonight! After last week's disappointing main dish - tonight we hit a home run! This was a four course meal including some old favorites and a foray into new culinary territory as well.
Our first course was a garlic, feta and dill dip served with carrot sticks and fresh toasted pita chips. It was warm and inviting on the cool, rainy March evening. This is a favorite of SB and one I always look forward to. Since she now has fresh dill growing - it seemed like the perfect appetizer for this meal.
Our second course was a basic salad. We used arugula as the base topped with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and a homemade mustard vinaigrette. It was simple and easy, but it was also tasty and the perfect segue into our main dish.
Our main dish was where we ventured into new territory. SB had a potato gnocchi at an Italian restaurant recently and wanted to try to recreate the dish at home. So, we found a recipe and we tried it. I must say, making the dough was quick and easy, but shaping it was a little bit of work. But, the time invested turned out to be well worth it. This pasta was light, but filling and held the tomato-basil sauce perfectly. I think this is a dish we will both make regularly in the future.

Onto the fourth course - dessert. Tonight this is another of SB's favorites, Individual Upside-Down Peach Cakes. These were warm, moist and delicious- a great way to end a wonderful evening.


St. Paddy's Day Meal!

Our Irish Inspired Meal tonight had some hits and a very big miss!
Our appetizer, while not really Irish inspired, involved us trying a new ingredient -Panko. Panko is Japanese bread crumbs and I had picked some up at the grocery recently for us to try. So, SB found an appetizer recipe for Panko coated risotto cakes. These cakes were delicious; they were crispy, creamy, cheesy and just yummy. I probably could have made a dinner from these alone - and actually I probably will combine these with a green salad for dinner soon.

Next, our main course was Vegetarian Irish Stew with Oatmeal Soda Bread. These dishes came together quickly and were easy to put together. They both cooked in the same amount of time - and the kitchen smelled great. The bread was moist and delicious - this recipe is a keeper! On the other hand - the stew was not a keeper. We tasted the dish before serving and found that as it cooked down, it developed a bitter taste. We tried a few remedies to mellow the flavor, but in the end - we found it to be uneditable. I guess all recipes can't be winners - but this one really isn't worth trying in our opinion.

But, we persevered onto dessert! SB made some great Flag cookies which resembled the Irish Tri-Color Flag. These were shortbread cookies with a light icing - very tasty and a nice way to wind out the evening.

All things considered the evening was a success, but the main dish was a disappointment- oh well, you can't win them all.


The Dangerous Kitchen

Welcome Back!
After our week off, we returned with a night of fun and whimsy. We were inspired by a short lived cooking show on the Food Network called Dweezil and Lisa. The show focused on the two musicians as they toured around the nation sampling new and unique food creations. We used a couple of their recipes as a springboard - and before we knew it we were carried away by fun food ideas. Since we had recipes by a Zappa family member it seemed the next logical step to add a Frank Zappa tribute into the meal as well. Since SJ is a big Zappa fan, we invited the boys to join us for dinner and had fun with the meal.
We started with a "Zappatizer". These were Frank inspired snacks. We used a cibatta bread base, with hummus, roasted red peppers, sprouts and sunflower seeds. They were fun and pretty tasty, too!

We had a Deliciously Sweet Salad as our next course. This salad contained fruits, nuts, cheeses and a sweet-tart dressing. MMMMM :)

Our Main Course was Cupcake Lasagna. These were spinach
lasagna cupcakes topped with ricotta frosting and garnished with grape tomatoes and basil. Not only were these really fun to make and eat -but they were actually a healthy version of lasagna.

Of course we had a dessert and continuing with our fun and whimsical theme we had an Almost Flourless Cake topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit. The cake was chocolaty, gooey and delicious!

SB-- What a fun meal. I think that overall, this is the best meal that we have made. Each component of the dinner was delicious, there was no course that outshone the others.

The Zappa-tizers were the product of SB's brainstorming, and they were excellent! It was a light, tasty starter, and fun to look at as well!

The salad was one of the best that I have ever had. The combination of the blueberries, feta cheese, and goat cheese were amazing. I will be making this salad again, it is a beautiful salad to serve to company.

The cupcake lasagnas looked great, and tasted even better! They were hot, spicy, and filling. These will be great for a party, they are easy to prepare ahead of time and take about 20 minutes to bake.

The cake was fudgy and fabulous! The addition of the fresh strawberries made it taste wonderful.

I recommend all these recipes for anyone who likes to cook, they are all easy and yummy!


Spring Break!

SB and I took this Wednesday night off from our dinner and Top Chef routine. SB had some matters to attend to and I had family members in town who came to watch the Hokies take on the TarHeels. The TarHeels won- not good for us in Blacksburg, but we had two happy guests.
We will be back next week with a fun meal - so check us out then. :)