Monday, April 30, 2012

Chipotle Mac and Cheese


There are 4 reasons why I love this dish.

1. It's easy.
2. You use only ONE pot for the entire dish.
3. It's delicious.
4. It's mac and cheese. The end.

In all seriousness, please don't be scared off by the addition of the chipotle pepper. You only use one and it adds a nice smokyness and heat in the background. Nothing too crazy hot. And I'm quite the weenie. On the flipside, if you want spice add more peppers.

While the cotija cheese is optional, I think it's a delicious addition at the end.

(psst - The original recipe included chopped cooked bacon on top as well. I did intend to add that, because I lurve me some bacon, but I didn't have any thawed. It was delicious without but add it if you want to. And you know you want to...)

Chipotle Mac and Cheese
2 cups of dry elbow pasta
2 cups of milk
1 cup of cottage cheese
1 chipotle chile in adobo
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
Pinch of cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 cups of shredded cheese, a mix of cheddar and Monterey Jack
1/4 cup of crumbled cotija cheese (optional)
4 pieces of cooked bacon, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon of butter or cooking spray

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch square or round baking pan with the butter or cooking spray. Add the dry pasta.

In a blender (or using your immersion blender), mix together the milk, cottage cheese, chipotle chile, mustard powder, garlic, cumin, salt and black pepper until it’s smooth. Pour mixture over dry pasta and stir until sauce is evenly distributed.

Stir in two cups of the shredded cheese, cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the foil and stir the macaroni and cheese a couple of times. Top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese and chopped bacon and cook for another 25 minutes uncovered or until brown and bubbling.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with cotija and serve.

Source: Homesick Texan

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mongolian Beef


I'm revisiting one of our favorite meals because my first picture was so unappetizing, and because I think it deserves mentioning again.

This dish is so tasty and a great copycat PF Changs version. It's salty and sweet, with a bit of kick at the end thanks to the red pepper (which you can omit easily). More than that - it's so fast and easy! Dinner is start to finish, including rice, about 20 minutes.

Mongolian Beef
2 lb of flank steak, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup of cornstarch
6 teaspoons of canola oil
1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoon of chopped garlic (about 4-5 large cloves)
1 cup of water
1 cup of soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Green onions, thinly sliced (garnish)

Pat the steak pieces dry and put them in a strainer. Sprinkle with corn starch and move them around to make sure all the pieces are coated and the excess falls out the bottom.

Heat half of the oil in a large wok at medium-high and add the garlic and ginger. Immediately add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

Turn the heat up and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the beef and cook, stirring until it is all browned. You may want to do it in batches to ensure all pieces brown quickly and easily.

Pour the sauce back into the wok and let it cook along with the meat. Thanks to the cornstarch, the sauce will thicken up a bit. You can add more cornstarch if you like it thicker, or add water to thin it out.

Garnish with green onions and serve with hot rice.

Source: Pink Bites

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Alice Springs Chicken {from Outback Steakhouse}


I've never had Alice Springs Chicken at Outback (who orders chicken at a steakhouse?) but I've heard many times how tasty it is. I mean, it's chicken smothered in honey mustard, mushrooms, bacon, and cheese. How can that not be tasty?

I made a version of it several years ago - way before I was keeping track of recipes I tried - and promptly forgot about it completely. Recently, I downloaded one of those restaurant recipe cookbooks on my Kindle and it had this recipe in it so I added it to the menu to make again.

Due to my lack of preparation, I tweaked the original recipe some but honestly think my changes made this dish even easier to make. It only takes 30-45 minutes which isn't too bad for a weeknight!

Obviously, this dish is delicious... though not diet friendly :)

Alice Springs Chicken (from Outback Steakhouse)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups sliced mushrooms
8 slices bacon
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup honey mustard
Salt and pepper
Oil or butter, if needed

Preheat oven to 375.

In your cast iron skillet (large enough to hold the 4 pieces of chicken), cook the bacon until crisp. Set aside and drain most of the grease out of the pan.

In the remaining grease, cook the sliced mushrooms until browned and soft. Remove and set aside.

Salt and pepper one side of your chicken breasts and add them to the cast iron skillet, salt and pepper side down. While it browns, salt and pepper the other side. Add additional oil or butter if needed. Cook each side 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the pan from heat and brush each piece of chicken with the honey mustard. Lay two pieces of cooked bacon on top then spoon the sauteed mushrooms onto the bacon, being sure to coat each evenly.

Smother the top with cheese - about 1/4 cup of Monterey Jack and 1/4 cup Cheddar per chicken breast.

Bake 7-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Source: Super Duper Totally Authorized Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lemon Curd Bars


A jar of Meyer lemon curd has been sitting in my pantry, calling my name, for a couple of weeks.

I bought it on clearance at Williams Sonoma. 

Truth be told, I could eat lemon curd with a spoon straight from the jar. But, I wanted to make something lemony for Jason so I scoured the internet for easy baking recipes using jarred lemon curd.

Enter this recipe.


Doesn't that look delicious? They taste delicious, too. Since I'm not usually a fan of baking, you can rest assured that any baking dish I try is super easy; even a caveman could make it.

The original recipe doesn't call for powdered sugar but I love the stuff and added it anyways. I also added lemon zest along the way just to inject more tart and lemon flavor throughout. It'd be great without it if you don't have a lemon handy.

Psst - you could also make your own lemon curd

Lemon Curd Bars
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 (10 ounce) jar lemon curd (my jar was more than 14oz; I used the whole thing)
2/3 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup toasted and chopped almonds (I skipped)
Lemon, for zesting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter. Add the flour, sugar and baking soda. Mix until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.               

Pat 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of one 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly.

Spread the lemon curd over the baked layer. Zest half a lemon over top.

To the remaining 1/3 of crumb mixture add the coconut, almonds, and zest of other half of lemon. Sprinkle over the top of the lemon curd.               

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake bars for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.               

Source: All Recipes

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Best Broccoli of Your Life?


This recipe has been making the rounds on Pinterest so of course, I had to put it to the test. Is this really the best broccoli of my life? I mean, that's a really tall order...

Let me first back up and say that we don't eat a lot of broccoli. First, I have Crohn's disease and most of the time can't eat fresh veggies or fruits. I can eat them in small quantities right now but that comes and goes. Secondly, Jason thinks broccoli is tolerable in one form: smothered in processed cheese product.

As you know I'm a huge fan of processed cheese product but I do think taking a fresh healthy vegetable and covering it in cheese is a special treat - not a way to eat a vegetable on a regular basis. Therefore, I don't make it often.

I like broccoli in any form and I love all things roasted so I had a feeling this recipe would be a total win for me. Jason, however, was the mystery player. Would it really beat out Velveeta for the best broccoli of his life?

1. It IS tasty. Very tasty, actually. Lemon + cheese + roasted anything = yummy.
2. It's very simple to make.
3. It's addictive (I had to put it out of sight before I ate too much. See note above about Crohns)
4. It's my new favorite way to eat broccoli. Even above smothered cheese broccoli.
5. It's not Jason's favorite broccoli. He tried a bite... but that's the extent of it. More for me!

 Give this method a try and see what you think. Is it the best broccoli of your life?

The Best Broccoli of Your Life
2 heads of broccoli
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1 lemon
1/3 cup grated parmesan
3 tbs toasted pinenuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 425.

Cut the broccoli into florets (larger is better) and lay them on a baking sheet lined in foil. Make sure your broccoli is totally dry so it'll brown well. Toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper (just eyeball the salt and pepper). Add the sliced garlic to the pan.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until browned and crispy.

When finished, zest a lemon over top then slice the lemon and squeeze the juice over top. Add 1.5 tablespoon more olive oil and toss with grated cheese and pinenuts (if using).

Serve hot.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Coconut Chicken with Apricot Sauce


You can thank my husband for the poor quality picture you see above. If we eat after dark,  I always put aside a portion to photograph the next day but he was determined to take all the leftovers for lunch the next day. And he leaves for work well before dark. So, I was stuck doing an artificial light pic before going to bed.

Of course, you could also take that as proof that this was a delicious meal!

You know how tasty coconut shrimp is? This is really similar - just easier, healthier, and with chicken. Using an easy two step breading method, you just throw it in the oven to bake. The sauce is even easier - just mixing two ingredients together! The chicken is crispy, but not fried, and very flavorful.

This can also be made ahead of time and frozen!

Coconut Chicken with Apricot Sauce
1 egg
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup salted butter, melted (I only used 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.

Lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl; set aside. Mix the coconut, flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl; set aside. Working with one chicken breast at a time, dip the chicken in the beaten egg and then coat with the coconut mixture. Place on the baking sheet.

Once all chicken breasts are coated and on the baking sheet, evenly drizzle with the melted butter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, flipping once halfway.

To prepare the apricot sauce, mix the apricot preserves and the Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Freezer Friendly: After baking the chicken, let cool completely then freeze in a freezer bag for up to 1 month. To reheat, bake in a preheated oven at 400˚F for 20 minutes.

Source: Pennies on a Platter

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Citrus Fajitas


I think I've tried a million different fajita marinades and rubs over the years and even though almost all of them were delicious, I can't help but continue trying out a new one each time we have it for dinner. This recipe was unlike any other I've tried because it relied solely on citrus fruits to marinade the meat so I had to put it on the menu!

Because I forgot to thaw my chicken in time, I only had time to marinade it for about 30 minutes prior to grilling. Therefore, the flavor was very subtle so I squeezed a lime over top when they finished to add a punch of citrus. I'd really recommend you marinade them a few hours to try and strengthen that citrus flavor.

The chicken was bright and flavorful and we really enjoyed it!

Note: I bought small lemons and limes so I used more than 1, depending upon how much juice I could get out of them. Just eyeball it.

Citrus Fajitas
Juice of one lemon (see note)
Juice of one lime (see note)
Juice of one orange
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tequila
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine all ingredients up to the chicken (lemon through black pepper) in a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken to the bag, seal and shake to combine. Allow the chicken to marinate 2 to 4 hours.

Toss the bell pepper and onions with the olive oil, set aside.

Grill the chicken breasts over medium high heat until cooked through. Add the peppers and onions for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Serve with warm tortillas and your favorite fajita fixins'

Source: So Tasty, So Yummy

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta

I love chicken parmesan - it's probably one of those classic Italian dishes that just about anyone will eat. We also love veal parmesan (I made a fantastic one not too long ago) and often order it out. Classic chicken or veal parmesan takes several steps to make so it's more effort than most want to put in on an average weekday for dinner.

Enter this dish.

This one pot meal (yes - even with the pasta! - if you use a cast iron or other oven friendly skillet) is made in a fraction of the time, with much less steps and dishes, but it still incorporates the best parts of chicken parmesan. Salty, crispy breaded chicken; flavorful tomato sauce; cheese; and pasta.

I took a cue from the blogger I got the recipe from and picked up {fried} chicken fingers from my favorite fried chicken spot (Chicken Express, of course!) and just diced those. You could pick up chicken fingers at a restaurant or your grocery deli counter, or use frozen ones.

We both loved this dish! Jason claimed the leftovers for his lunch the next day and I was sad to have not doubled it so I, too, could have more.

*I used my 12 inch cast iron skillet for easy stove to oven use thus eliminating another dish. I covered it with a baking sheet while the pasta cooked since I don't have a lid for it. Worked great!

Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta
1 (28-oz) can whole {peeled} or diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 Tbs olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced fresh oregano (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
1 - 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 oz. pasta shapes (ziti, penne, etc)
2 oz grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
1 lb. cooked {breaded} chicken tenders, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
 Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  
Using your food processor, or an immersion blender in a mixing bowl, pulse the canned tomatoes and their juices until coarsely ground. Set aside.



Cook the oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, water, 1 cup of the broth, and the pasta. Bring to a vigorous simmer, cover, and cook until pasta is tender, 15 to 18 minutes, stirring often.
 
 
 
Stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and the chopped chicken. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. If the pasta seems dry, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of broth. Transfer to a baking dish (or leave it in your cast iron skillet!) and sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

  
Sprinkle with basil and serve.
Source: Pink Parsley

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bacon & Sweet Corn Hash

This potato free hash was a delicious accompaniment to ribs the other night! It's sweet, salty, and just a hint cheesy. Once everything is chopped, it comes together very quickly and easily!

This would also be a great brunch side dish.

Bacon and Sweet Corn Hash
2 1/2 cup corn kernels, about 4 ears of corn (I used frozen!)
6 slices cooked center cut bacon, chopped
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large shallot, diced
3 green onions, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, whisked
Creole Seasoning to taste
2 tablespoons butter

In a large bowl, toss together corn, bacon, cheese, shallot, green onion, and garlic. Add whisked egg and gently stir to combine.

Melt butter in a dutch oven, or heavy bottomed skillet, over medium heat. Add corn mixture and saute for 6-8 minutes or until fragrant and heated through. Serve immediately.

Souce: The Novice Chef

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parmigiano-Crusted Rigatoni with Cauliflower and Prosciutto


I threw together this super easy dinner right before we left on vacation. The sauce is light, creamy, and garlicy and the dish is bulked up with the addition of cauliflower mixed in with the pasta.

This is a 30 minute, start to finish, meal which is great for a weeknight.

The original recipe calls for prosciutto - which I absolutely love - but I had leftover ham on hand that I wanted to use before we left town. It gave the same salty bite to it and was a fraction of the cost of prosciutto. So, those of you with leftover Easter ham - this is a great way to incorporate some of it! I just diced mine small and added it when the recipe calls for the prosciutto to be added.

Parmigiano-Crusted Rigatoni with Cauliflower and Prosciutto
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound rigatoni
One 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 ounces sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-thick ribbons (or leftover ham!)

Preheat the broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the rigatoni until al dente; about 6 minutes before the rigatoni is done, add the cauliflower florets to the pot. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the panko with the Parmigiano cheese and the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Return the rigatoni and cauliflower to the pot. Add the garlic cream, the prosciutto and the reserved pasta water and toss until the pasta is coated. Scrape the pasta into a large shallow baking dish and sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the top. Broil for about 2 minutes, rotating constantly, until the topping is evenly browned. Serve hot.

Source: Food and Wine

Monday, April 9, 2012

Walt Disney World/Orlando: Treats, Eats, and Recipes!

I haven't posted in 2 weeks... but for good reason; we were on vacation!

Our 7 night vacation unexpectedly stretched into 9 days thanks to the awful storms and tornados in DFW while we were gone. Thankfully, our home, cars, workplaces, and family were all safe but I know many were devastated.

Since this is a cooking blog, I won't bore you with the lowdown on our entire vacation but instead focus on the treats and eats we enjoyed while in Orlando. However, since WDW is one of my favorite vacation destinations, feel free to ask any questions you might have about our trip.

Disclaimer: we did dine at a few chain spots during our trip, including Bahama Breeze, Macaroni Grill, Steak and Shake, Perkins, etc and I didn't bother documenting those.

Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM, which I still call it)
(that's my favorite ride - Hollywood Tower of Terror)

We hit the park after a day on the golf course just to ride our favorites.

Magic Kingdom

I must admit I don't have much to say, or any pics to share, of food or drink.

We stopped at Pecos Bill for a quick lunch. Columbia Harbour House is my favorite but this was fine (and actually way better than our last trip, which included us all tossing our burgers a few bites in and eating someplace else later). I will say that the kid's meal is a great deal and plenty of food.

We took an afternoon break and dined offsite for dinner. But I don't remember where.

In my opinion, Magic Kingdom is seriously lacking in good eats.

Epcot

Epcot is my favorite park by FAR. It's less crowded, has so much to see, and great dining/drink options.

We grabbed our Soarin' fastpasses and then stopped for a light breakfast at Sunshine Seasons in The Land. No pics... but I know Jason and I both got breakfast panini's. I brought my own coffee from Starbucks because Nescafe is icky.

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For dinner, we stopped at my favorite counter service restaurant, Tangierine Cafe, in Morocco and opted to split two platters between the three of us: a chicken schwarma platter (also includes hummus, tabouleh and a tangierine couscous salad with fresh Moroccan bread) and a vegetarian platter (Falafel, tangierine couscous salad, hummus, tabouleh, lentil salad and marinated olives).

We ate about half before I realized I never got a picture. Trust me, it's darn good eatin'

Tangierine Couscous Salad from Tangierine Cafe
Serving: 4
Olive oil
1/2 of a red onion
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 of a sweet red bell pepper
1/2 of a sweet green bell pepper
1/2 of a chopped zucchini
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Nutmeg to taste
Cinnamon to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup orange juice
12 ounces cooked plain couscous
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup tangerine segments or mandarin orange segments
Mint sprig for garnish

In a large nonstick skillet, sauté onion, garlic, sweet bell peppers and zucchini in olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup olive oil to vegetables along with raisins, chickpeas and orange juice. Toss vegetable mixture with couscous and pan juices. Add parsley and gently fold in citrus segments. Mound mixture onto a serving platter and garnish with mint.

Lentil Salad from Tangierine Cafe
Serving: 4
12 ounces lentils
3 ounces mayonnaise
1 ounce chopped green bell pepper
1 ounce chopped red bell pepper
1 ounce chopped red onions
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt
Pepper

Boil lentils (do not over cook), wash, drain and let cool. Add all ingredients and mix well. Serve chilled.

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New since our last trip, the store in Germany that previously sold Hummels is now a Werther's store/bakery. Yep, those Werther's. For our snacking pleasure during IllumiNations, I stood in line to grab us some goodies.

The whole store smells wonderful because not only are they making the treats fresh behind the counter, but they are also making small batches of fresh caramel corn. Popcorn + sugar = YUM! I don't even like caramel corn and I had to buy some (and must admit the fresh stuff is pretty darn tasty):


Jason's caramel drizzled rice crispy treat

My choice? A dark chocolate covered caramel with sea salt.

Mom got a chocolate covered pretzel rod.

Beyond the Parks ~ Raglan Road, 'Ohana, Latin Quarter, Cafe Tu Tu Tango, and more!


Raglan Road Irish Pub is one of our favorites. The food is good, though we don't really go for the food... we go for the music, Irish dancing, and drinks! This trip, we did go for a meal and weren't disappointed at all.

They start you off with brown bread, which is hearty and delicious!

Guinness Brown Bread from Raglan Road 
½ cups Guinness
¾ pound Whole meal flour (whole wheat)
4 pounds All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking soda
4 cups Oats, rolled
4 ounces Molasses
2 quarts Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and add in the buttermilk in three batches as you mix and fold by hand lightly; the mixture should be quite sticky. Portion in to greased or buttered muffin pans. Bake in the oven until golden brown and it makes a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom. Enjoy with Kerrygold butter.

We wanted to eat light, since we knew the bread pudding dessert was a must-do, so Jason and I split the appetizer sampler.


Appetiser D'Lirrah for Two includes the Dalkey Duo, Scallop Forest, Heaven on Earth, and Nom Nom Wings. In other words,  Dalkey-battered cocktail sausages with a Dalkey mustard dipping sauce, George Bank scallops in a golden batter served with a citrus lime dipping sauce and sweet chili jam, baby back ribs in a Guinness and honey glaze, and sweet ‘n spicy wings tossed in a honey, chili flake, soy and ginger sauce.

Except they were out of wings so we got extra ribs.

The ribs were, by far, my favorite item. The glaze caramelized so the ribs were like eating candy. I need to find the recipe...

Mom ordered the Citrus Salmon Salad, which is a grilled salmon fillet with mixed greens, carrots, orange segments and toasted almonds with a citrus herb vinaigrette.


She just about licked the plate so I'm guessing it was good.

Our favorite part of Raglan Road is the bread and butter pudding.

It does have golden raisins but they are fairly easy to pick out.

The atmosphere is loud and fun with live music and Irish dancing in the evenings.


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The next evening, we had dinner at 'Ohana, which we hadn't been to in a few years (back when they served the scalloped potatoes, skewered turkey, and pineapple for dessert!).


'Ohana is a scaled down Brazilian Steakhouse. It's not as fancy, or extensive, as Texas de Brazil but it's the same concept. There isn't the huge salad bar to feast on but they do bring family size items to the table to enjoy before bringing the grilled meats.

First, you get pineapple-coconut bread and a mixed greens salad with honey-lime dressing. Which I didn't get a picture of... the salad dressing is really tasty and the bread is slightly sweet.

Honey-Lime Dressing from 'Ohana
1/2 C honey
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 C cider vinegar
1/4 C lime juice
1/4 C diced onion
1 C canola oil

Place all ingredients except oil in food processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add oil until it is well incorporated into the dressing. Makes 2 cups.

Next, they bring a platter of honey-coriander chicken wings and pork fried dumplings.


The wings are sticky sweet and the dumplings are crispy and delicious.

Honey-Coriander Wing Sauce from 'Ohana
1/8 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground ginger
2 ea lime zest
1/4 cup coriander
1 cup soy sauce
1 3/4 cup honey

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat until hot. Remove from heat and let cool. Toss with chicken wings.

They also bring a bowl of stir-fried noodles and stir-fried vegetables.


Stir-Fried Noodles from 'Ohana
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon each, puréed: garlic and ginger
1/4 cup each, julienned: red pepper and pineapple
2 cups cooked udon noodles
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chopped roasted peanuts

Peanut sauce
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2-inch piece ginger, peeled
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup each: soy sauce, sugar and water
1/8 cup diced Spanish onion
1 tablespoon chopped peanuts

For sauce, put ingredients in pan. Bring to boil, stirring. Turn heat to simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, pour in blender. Pulse until smooth.

For noodles, heat canola oil in wok. Add garlic, ginger, red pepper and pineapple. Stir-fry until red peppers are tender but still firm. Season with salt and pepper. Add noodles. Stir-fry until noodles are heated. Add 1/2 cup peanut sauce to glaze ingredients. Garnish with nuts.


After you're stuffed with all the cheap stuff they serve you first (hey, I know they planned it that way!), your waiter brings skewers of grilled meat - hot off the grill. Oak grilled chicken, Asian barbequed pork loin, marinated sirloin steak, and spicy grilled peel and eat shrimp. The steak was the favorite at our table - very tender and flavorful! The shrimp were huge and good but I'm not a big fan of peeling my own shrimp at the table...

Then comes the good stuff - bread pudding with banana foster sauce!


In addition to the huge scoop of ice cream on top, they also bring a big dish of it. Of which my favorite part were the Mickey head sprinkles. I may or may not have scraped them all off and kept them for myself...

'Ohana Bread Pudding with Banana Foster Sauce from 'Ohanas
5 eggs
3 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup sugar
8 cups french bread

In bowl mix eggs, milk , salt, sugar and nutmeg. Set aside.
   
Cut bread in medium pieces, place on cookie sheet pan put in 350 degree oven.
  
Bake bread until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Remove bread and place in egg and milk mixture.

Place mixture in a greased 10-inch cake pan and bake at 325 degree for 1 hour.

Let stand 5 minutes, serve hot with ice cream.

Banana Foster Sauce
4 oz sugar
4 oz brown sugar
4 oz corn syrup
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup spiced rum
1 cup banana slices

Combine sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and half of heavy cream in a large pan. Bring to a boil and slowly add remaining heavy cream keeping mixture at a steady boil.

Add spiced rum and flambe.

Candy will brown slightly; cook 3 minutes until candy forms into a firm ball in cold water. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Add sliced bananas. Serve warm.

After we rolled ourselves out of there, we walked down to the Poly beach to see Wishes from afar.

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The next night, Jason and I went to Universal CityWalk for the evening. First, we hit their new minature golf course (awesome!) then had dinner at Latin Quarter.
We hadn't been there before but the menu looked good and there was no wait for a table. The inside is really pretty with a night sky above you and Latin music videos playing. I did not get any good pictures, though - it was pretty dark.

I got the roasted pork loin that was served over boniato mash, black beans, and mango puree. Jason ordered their Cuban sandwich. Both dishes were tasty and relatively inexpensive, given the locale.

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This was supposed to have been our last evening in Orlando but the very next morning, we were notified that our flight was canceled and we couldn't be rebooked on another flight until 2 full days later. I scrambled and got everything covered for an additional two day stay.

Which also meant two more days of drinks and eats!

While moving hotels, we stopped into the town of Celebration so I could pick up some treats for the dogs. Yep, I'm that person.

Woof Gang Bakery had an entire table of yummy treats - all of which looked good enough for us to snack on!


I ended up having to carry-on the dog treats to avoid being smooshed but it was totally worth it. Well, to me and the dogs. Jason rolled his eyes. :)

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We ended up back at Downtown Disney that night and grabbed a light dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express. Jason and I split the spaghetti and meatballs.


It was flavorful and a decent size - hit the spot.

Mom ordered a bowl of butternut squash soup.


Wolfgang Puck Express not only has good food (Jason also enjoyed their vanilla creme brulee!) but they also have flavored iced tea. Any restaurant with flavored iced tea is a winner in my book.

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On our new last day, I suggested we try a local restaurant that had been on the list of spots to try while in Orlando for several years - Cafe Tu Tu Tango. This strictly tapas restaurant also displays tons of local art (all for sale) plus live dancing/music most nights. This was the view from our table - notice the walls covered in great artwork?

To split between the three of us, we ordered:

Alforno roasted pears on pecan crisps drizzled in balsamic vinegar with arugula and blue cheese. This was, hand's down, the most delicious dish of the night. It just melted in your mouth. I must attempt to recreate it soon!

Mediterranean marinated olives and feta, also included artichoke hearts, capers, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatos. Salty and delish!

One of Jason's choices, these salmon sliders and warm potato salad were very tasty!

This Langostino mac and cheese was rich, creamy, and slightly sweet thanks to the lumps of lobster meat throughout. In addition to the lobster, it also had sweet corn, carmelized onions, pancetta, fontina, gouda, parmesan, and mozzarella. How can that not be amazing?!

These potstickers were part of a menu of special offerings being offered that night: they are crab and asparagus filled. Delicious, but yet unusual - I think due to the crunch of the asparagus.

How can you not visit Florida without dining on some gator bites? These were tender and crispy and delicious!

Mom was hankering for something sweet at the end, so she ordered a single chocolate dipped strawberry - with a beautiful presentation!

All in all, I'm so glad we finally ate there! There were three artists on hand, painting/sketching in person, along with a flamenco dancer. Such a fun atmosphere and not only beautiful, and unique, dishes but also affordable and delicious!



Sadly, that's the end of our trip :( But it was a great one! Thanks for reading!

Source for most recipes: All Ears


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