Saturday, March 24, 2012

Doughnut versus Orange Slices

The 'wunderkind' is in her 2nd semester of Kindergarten.  Her school is right in our neighborhood, which is awesome because we can walk.  And, the school PTO is very active and plans all kinds of fun events so the kids get to see each other a lot, outside of school.  This morning was the Rosewood Kids' Fun Run.  (There was also a 5K afterwards for bigger people.) 

We all converged on Memorial Stadium first thing this morning. The Fun Run is a mile run around the big park.  All the kids got a bib for their shirts and they were all #1.  Nice touch for little egos.  They lined up and Vivi was one of the first on the line.  She was poised and ready.  Then, she took off like a shot.  Typical of her style, full speed ahead.  That's when I realized it might have been a good idea to talk about pacing oneself prior to getting here today.  Oh well, she's young and strong!  

I ran across the park to get some video as she came around turn #2, then ran back to the finish line to wait for her.  I mean, my 5-year-old wunderkind was about to complete one whole mile.  That's a lot for a kid, I think.  Here she comes:
What does any of this have to do with food?  You know how they always have a station at the finish with water, fruit, etc. for the runners?  I just found it funny that this is a race for children from an elementary school and they had orange slices (ok, I get it), bananas (uh huh,  makes sense) and then both powdered sugar AND chocolate covered mini-doughnuts.  I'll give you one-half of a guess as to which my beloved child and every other one went to.  I mean, I'm ok with kids indulging in sweet treats every now and then.  But, don't kid yourselves by even putting all that fruit out there with doughnuts.  They don't stand a chance.  Lying there, all alone, looking pretty but no takers.  The bananas and oranges were behind the 8 ball from the get-go.  I felt sorry for them.  Then, I snapped out of it, saw my sweet baby double fisting chocolate doughnuts and knew it was time to load up and head home!  

Vivian and her Principal

Her first official road race at the ripe old age of 5.  Hell yeah, she deserved the golden medal she received as she crossed the finish line...and some mini-doughnuts!

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I'm taking a quick break after a day of coupon organizing, list making, grocery shopping, prepping meat for the freezer and cooking.  In fact, I'm basking in the glow of a culinary success.  You know, that euphoria you experience when you just cooked a dish that is so good, it just makes you happy.  Giddy really.  In this case, it's a soup, so in my classically witty style, I've invented the word 'souphoria' for your reading pleasure.

A few days ago, I got an insane deal on cauliflower at Aldi.  

The vegetable that gets the least attention :-(
The rockin'est store on the planet!
I love it roasted, with cheese sauce, my friend MaryAnn's curried cauliflower casserole...but thus far, I haven't had much luck with the littlest diner.  I stared at the two heads of cauliflower as they stared back.  What to do?  What to do?  Perhaps if I could transform it then you-know-who wouldn't even have to hear the word "c'flower."  So, I decided to combine two faves:  roast it then turn it into soup.  

In a word...hotdamndiggity.  

Here's what I did:

2 heads cauliflower cut into florets
4 Tbs olive oil
4 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg (fresh if you have it)
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
2 med. onions, chopped
6 Tbs flour
2 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
2 cups milk
2 Tbs dry sherry

Place cauliflower in a roasting pan and drizzle with oil, sprinkle with seasoning and toss to coat.  Roast at 450 for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it, you want it nice and roasty, but not burnt.

When done, set cauliflower aside.  Melt butter and olive oil in a stockpot or large saucepan.  Cook onions until soft and lightly browned.  Sprinkle the flour over the onions and keep stirring & cooking for a few minutes.  Slowly add the milk, broth & water.  Bring it up to a gentle boil to thicken it, stirring pretty often.  Add 2/3 of the cauliflower and the sherry.  Warm it through then blend with an immersion blender or in a regular blender.  Add in the rest of the cauliflower and heat through.  

Fill up a big bowl, get a big spoon and well, you can take it from here...

Side note:  the little one ended up with the grandparents this afternoon and wasn't hungry for anything upon returning home.  Will have to "guinea pig" her some other time.  But, the ball-n-chain and I loved our dinner!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sour Cream Chicken: Mission Accomplished

I love it when I run across a recipe that looks and sounds so damn good that I can't get it out of my mind. That happened recently when I found a recipe on Pinterest for crockpot bacon-sour cream chicken.  I loved the photo, I read the instructions over and over and for about 2 weeks, I just kept telling myself that I needed to make this dish.  Sooooooo...I did.

Lemme tell ya friends...this is a bona fide winner.  Even the wunderkind was raving about it. That's always a good sign.  I can't take credit for this recipe, because as you know from my previous post, I found this on Pinterest.  However, as is usually the case, I have some modifications I'll make next time around.  But first, here's the recipe:

So my modifications are these: I cooked this about 8 hours, next time I think I'll take it down to 6.  The chicken was wonderfully tender, but as I grasped it with tongs, it began to fall apart.  Great if it was enchilada chicken but for presentation, I'll cook it less time in order to have it hold together better for looks.  Also, I'll wrap each chicken breast in more bacon; I think 2 slices per breast.  The reason for this is: I love bacon and all that it does for a dish and in this case, it became crumbly and became part of the sauce and I just would like a little more of that smoky bacony component to the sauce next time.  

Frankly, any time you have a 5-year old exclaiming "I love it!" and giving you a thumbs-up, you know you're onto something.  So, to whoever the author of this recipe is, I say "Well Cooked my friend, well cooked." To you, my dear reader, trust me and try it.  You can thank me later ;-)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Potatoes Day 2: Loaded Potato Soup

I decided to make Potatoes Anna last night to accompany our corned beef.  I consulted an Internet recipe for some guidance then did my own thing with it. Thank goodness I DID NOT prepare as much potato as the recipe called for or I would've had potato slices coming out of my ears.  I peeled 3 good sized baking potatoes but only sliced two.  Good thing.  As I started layering the slices in my pan, it was obvious that potato #3 was not needed.  I even had some slices left over so I put them all in a ziploc filled with lemon juice-spiked water to keep them from browning and into the fridge.

Today, I have one little person and one big person sick with strep throat AGAIN.  As I drove to the pharmacy for a Hefty bagful of antibiotics, I pondered that leftover potato.  Two sick people in the house?  Soup.  Of course!  And, I've been dying to try the 'grow your own green onion' trick I found on Pinterest, so my thoughts turned to Loaded Potato Soup.  You know, the one that graces every chain restaurant's menu.  But, I was going to do it from scratch, so it would be infinitely better.  So, I gathered up all the medication at the pharmacy and grabbed a bunch of green onions from the produce department and headed home.

In keeping with my usual M.O., I consulted a recipe then made my adaptations.  The end result?  Fantastic loaded potato soup that was WAY better than any I've had in a restaurant.  Turns out I was the only one who felt like eating any of it, so, oh well...more for me!  
Homemade potato soup garnished with cheddar, bacon bits and green onions!

 Have I piqued your interest?  Ok, I'll tell you how to make it.  Be's ridiculously fast and easy and I promise you, it was delicious.

Homemade Loaded Potato Soup
  • 2 slices bacon, cut with shears into cubes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp & 1 1/2 tsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 large baking potato, peeled & cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
Cook bacon in a large saucepan until crisp.  Drain on paper towels.  Save about 1 Tbsp bacon grease and saute the onion and garlic until soft.  

Add flour, salt, pepper & basil.  Stir until combined and cook a little bit (to cook out the raw flour taste), stirring constantly.  Gradually add the broth & bring to a boil, stirring about 2 minutes.  

Add potato, milk & Tabasco.  Let boil about 2 minutes, then lower heat to low, cover and cook until potatoes are tender.  (about 6-10 minutes)  **I decided to use my immersion blender to blend up some of the soup to make it silky and not so chunky. You do it however you wish.** 

Garnish with bacon bits, sliced green onions, cheddar or whatever speaks to you.  Come to think of it, a dollop of sour cream might be nice as well.  

I had two bowls.  I hope you like it as much as I did.  I thought the consistency was perfect, the flavor was outstanding and I was pretty darn pleased that I didn't let that extra potato sit around in my fridge and go bad.  I'd put my soup up against a restaurant version any day too.  I'll be making this again for sure.  It didn't take much time, but the result was so good, I would have invested any amount of time necessary!  Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I realize Bellacino's isn't new.  I remember when the one in Lexington opened, gosh, probably 10 years ago, one of my Realtor (r) friends used them all the time to cater Agents' Open Houses.  But, even after all these years, I had not ever actually gone into the restaurant.  Just had their catering on numerous occasions.

Bellacino's in Lexington, SC

Yesterday, my mom and I found ourselves in the area and decided to pop in and give it a try.  If you don't  know anything about Bellacino's, here's what I know.  It is a chain, but the Lexington & Irmo locations are owned by the same person.  Their menu is pizza, sandwiches (they call theirs 'grinders'), pasta and salads.  Neil tells me that any place that calls their sandwiches 'grinders' is a good thing in his book.  Apparently, years ago while working in Connecticut, he fell in love with grinders.  

As we walked in, the first thing I noticed was how clean the place smelled.  Restaurant cleanliness should go without saying, but as we all know, some restaurants get this and sadly, some do not.  So, after being greeted with a clean smell, I looked around and saw that the place is very neat, clean and tidy.  Good vibes so far.

We looked over the menu and decided to give the pizza a try.  We ordered a 12" with pepperoni, sausage & black olives. A classic combo, in this wanna-be's opinion!  You order at the counter and then the staff delivers your food to your table.  The dining room is large but has some dividers so it doesn't have the wide, open, banquet hall feeling to it.  I also noticed they have covered patio seating.  

Our pizza arrived and certainly passed my visual test.  Looks good and makes me wanna eat it.  Bellacino's cuts a round pie not into traditional slices, but slices it into a grid.  I like this idea actually because those of us who don't care for crust (kids) can get a nice gooey piece of pizza without the crust wastage.  For those of us who do like our crust, Bellacino's was nice and crusty, crispy and a medium thickness.  The sauce was nice, a little on the sweet side.  The toppings were also generous, especially the olives, which is a huge plus for me.  As a kid, we always went to our friends Dupre's pizza joint in Irmo called McIntosh's.  We ordered double black olives every time.  And every time, Dupre saw that double black olive ticket come in the kitchen and he knew it was us.  


As most of you know, I am a life-long pizza devotee and a principal pizza proponent.  I've met very few pizzas that I didn't like.  Bellacino's is good and I'll gladly eat their pizza pie again.  However, on my next visit, I'll have to exercise some pizza lovin' self control and try out a 'grinder' or a salad.  

 la vita è più dolce con un po 'di peperoni in esso

Bellacino's Pizza & Grinders on Urbanspoon


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