Saturday, October 23, 2010

Double Cheese Macaroni

I found this recipe on the back of a box of Ronzoni Quick Cook pasta.  I adapted it by doubling the recipe and adding some steamed broccoli and chopped cooked chicken to make it a meal.  I was making it for someone else but I took plenty of sample bites to know that it's good.  I'm planning to make it for us soon!  Here is their original recipe that serves 4.

Double Cheese Macaroni

1/2 box (2 cups) Ronzoni Quick Cook macaroni style pasta
1 jar alfredo pasta sauce
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
2 T seasoned bread crumbs
1 T melted butter

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat alfredo sauce and cheddar cheese.  Drain pasta but reserve some of the pasta water.  Add pasta to sauce and add some pasta water if it's to thick.  Mix together parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and butter.  You can just sprinkle it on top or if your pan is oven proof put it under the broiler a little to brown the bread crumbs.

Day Six and Seven - The trip to Williamsburg

Well I didn't have much to say about day six because we pretty much rested that day.  We ate lunch at Panera which is one of my favorite places to go that I don't go to enough.  I recommend the french onion soup in the sourdough bread bowl.  Yummy!

Day seven was time to go home.  We had a great time but we were missing our boys terribly!  Once you see the 3 places we stopped to eat and what we had you'll probably think that we were guzzling pepto that night!  But it was all good and it didn't make us sick all though I couldn't eat like that often.  We took a different route home that took us on the Blueridge Pkwy.  It was a very pretty drive through northern Virginia and Tenn.

Our first stop was in Richmond, Va at the Dairy Bar Restaurant.  This was formerly a cafeteria for a dairy plant there but remained open after the plant closed.  They are know for their ice cream but we didn't have any with our b'fast.  I got corned beef hash which is something I don't get very often but its a nice change every once in a while.  Bill got a biscuit covered with sausage, eggs, potatoes, and gravy.  A mess on a plate but tasty.  Southern Living says its the best place for b'fast in Richmond.  I thought it was pretty good too.

On down the road in Charlottesville, Va, close to Va Tech, we got some lunch a Dudes Drive-in.  It's a teeny little place that you pull up to and a carhop comes and takes your order.  Bill and I each had a Dude cheeseburger, which is a cheeseburger with lettuce, tom, onion, & mayo, and shared a chocolate shake.  It was a very good burger and shake.  I'm sure it's very popular with the locals.

Finally in Knoxville, Tn we had an early supper at the Pizza Palace.  This was featured on DDD.  It's also a drive-in but they have a small counter inside that seat a few.  We went inside to get out of the car a little.  We decided to share the raviolis and greek salad.  I had to try their famous onion rings but I was only able to eat two so I took the rest home.  It was all very good and I would definitely like to go back and try their pizza which look thin and crispy.

Day Five - The trip to Williamsburg

Sorry I've gotten so behind on publishing these.  I've been sick ever since we've gotten home and I've not been on the computer.  Then when I was finally able to get back to it Blogger was broken.  So I'll be publishing a bunch today!

When we first planned our trip to Wmbg, we had no intentions of going to DC.  But, after we got there we found out that an excursion was available for us to DC at a great price.  This was our actual anniversary day so we thought this would be a great way to celebrate.  We didn't eat anywhere cool so I though I would just give you a brief review of the things we did.

Arlington National Cemetery - This is the 2nd largest military cemetery in the country.  We saw the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Very cool other than the pouring down rain.  My umbrella broke so we pretty much stood there getting soaked.  They guard the tomb 24 hrs a day year around.  Go to their website for more info.

National Archives - Here we got to see the Dec of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  Fortunately they were not very busy and we were not rushed through to see them.   Very cool.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History - We literally ran through this museum!  We stopped to see the Hope diamond and some dinosaur bones.  I didn't know that Julia Child's kitchen was there so I missed it.  Dang.

Smithsonian Museum of American History - My favorite thing I saw in DC was here.  The Star Spangled Banner.  Before we went I didn't even know that you could see it.  It is 30 x 42 ft originally but a general's wife cut pieces of it and gave it away as souvenirs so about 1/3 of it is gone.  Still, it was very cool to see the real deal.  We only had about 45 mins so we checked out a few more things.

Vietnam and Korean War Memorials; The Lincoln Memorial - The War Memorials were pretty neat to check out.  The Lincoln Memorial is huge!  The clouds had started clearing up so it was a great view.

I would love to do DC again with the boys and have more time.  It was a nice trip but way too rushed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day Four - The trip to Williamsburg

Well today we venture out from Wmbg.  We went to Norfolk to take a 2 hr cruise around the largest naval base in the world.  It is the home to 5 of our US aircraft carriers, but none were in port while we were there. :(  We toured on the Victory Rover and it was an excellent boat with an excellent crew. 

After our cruise, we headed to Doumar's for lunch.  This was also a restaurant featured on DDD. 

We had a cheeseburger, fries, and chocolate ice cream in a hand rolled waffle cone.  Yum!  I think the waffle cone originated there.

For supper that night, we went to UNO's grill.  UNO's is one of the original deep dish pizza places in Chicago.  Apparently they have now started a chain that includes their famous pizza plus a lot of other things.  We each had our own personal deep dish pizza.  I had the Numero Uno which is your basic supreme pizza.  It was delicious!  Way better than a Pizza Hut deep dish which is much greasier.  Their crust is a buttery, flaky crust and their tomato sauce is very chunky.  I hope a chain comes to b'ham soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day Three - The trip to Williamsburg

Today we had our last visit to Colonial Williamsburg.  We toured the Governor's Palace and did a little shopping.  We also got to hear the fifes and drums at the end of the Revolutionary City reenactment.  That was pretty neat to hear.

We ate lunch at Chowning's Tavern.  Unfortunately it was nothing special and really just ended up being and overpriced ham sandwich.  I did however have an excellent root beer locally made by the Old Dominion bottling company.

For supper we went to a well reviewed restaurant called Food for Thought.  They have a very eclectic mix on their menu and it was difficult deciding what to have.  The fried ravioli was an easy choice for an appetizer. 

Then I had their "Thai one on" (their version of Pad Thai) and Bill had the roast beef with mashed sweet potatoes and creamed spinach.  Both were very delicious.  I especially liked my Pad Thai because unlike the version I usually have in b'ham, this one was full of vegetables and a little spicy.  I plan on making a similar version of that dish at home!
The atmosphere was great and they have little thought provoking cards and riddles on the table for entertainment.  The restaurant pays homage to some of the great thinkers in history, hence the name.  I hope I get to go back again one day!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day Two - The trip to Williamsburg

Today and tomorrow we are spending our time in Colonial Williamsburg.  It was alot bigger than I imagined and I'm glad we got tickets for two days because we slept late recovering from the ride.  Here is a real brief summary on Colonial Williamsburg.  It was a real town and the colonial capital of Virginia.  In the 30s they started restoring it back to its colonial days.  Many original buildings were gone and so  most of the restoration has been rebuilding the structures that were originally there.  I was very impressed on how well everything was done.  I was not impressed, however, on my knowledge of history!  I need to be schooled!!  I know I should have gotten all this stuff back in grade school but I just didn't.  I need a repeat.

Well anyway.....let's talk about food.  Colonial Williamsburg recreated several taverns that existed in colonial times.  We ate at the King's Arms Tavern.  The meals are suppose to be based on dishes they would have originally served.

We started with a peanut soup that is supposedly a Virginian favorite.  I wasn't thrilled and kinda suspicious if I was going to like it in the first place.  It was bad just kinda weird.  Bill and I both thought it seemed more like a sauce than a soup.  It was not sweet, very creamy, but sorta bland. 

My roast, however was great.  The vegetables didn't get cooked enough though.  Bill got the East Indian Spiced Fried Chicken with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans.  His was the best hands down!

That afternoon we got a piece of apple cake and a sweet potato muffin to enjoy while we watched some reenactments.  I had some cold apple cider with it and it was wonderful.  We weren't very hungry that evening so we just split a burger at Season's Restaurant.  It wasn't anything special but a good burger.

Day One - The trip to Williamsburg

What a drive!  We left B'ham a little after 7:00 in the morning and got to our room about 8:00 that night.  We only made one stop for gas, one for a few groceries, and 2 times to eat.  Fortunately our rental car had satellite radio so we jammed to the 80s station.  We are also going through a book together.  I read while Bill drives.  Let me tell you about the 2 places we ate...

First was the Marietta Diner just above Atlanta, Ga.  It was a little out of our way but well worth it.  We saw this place on the DDD show on Food Network. 

Bill thinks diners are really cool so it was a must stop for us.  My pancakes were great and kept me full until North Carolina!  Bill got a spinach and feta omelet that was also very tasty. 

You wouldn't believe the dessert case at this place!  Ridiculous!  I got a menu to go and I've already picked out what I'll have next time.

Next for our early supper (too full from b'fast to consider lunch) we wanted to try North Carolina style BBQ.  My understanding about NC BBQ was that it was a vinegar based BBQ and that the best was in Lexington.  We were going to visit the Lexington BBQ Restaurant but it was closed so we went to Smiley's instead.  It was wonderful! 

The sauce was actually a little sweeter and less tangy than I thought it would be.  They served it with BBQ slaw which was cabbage with the vinegar sauce on it.  It was great too.  Also, they serve hushpuppies with BBQ in NC and I love hushpuppies!!  So summary....NC BBQ rocks!!

 Supper was cereal that night.  More good eating coming tomorrow and lots of walking!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I find the best recipes in my Southern Living magazine.  This one came from the May 2010 edition.  It is a rich buttery cake but not too sweet.  I only had a 1/2 bag of mini chocolate chips so mine wasn't as chocolatey as it should have been but it was still wonderfull.  Also, I had my little helper in the kitchen.  Jack loves to help me cook and he is starting to get where he can actually help rather than hinder!  He learned that the best part about being the baker is that you get to lick the beaters at the end.  You'll also notice that my ol' green machine was pulled out for this recipe.  If there is a KitchenAid mixer fairy out there somewhere I wish she would visit my house!

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 (12-oz.) package semisweet chocolate mini-morsels

Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork. Sprinkle in a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 3 to 5 minutes or until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Beat in chocolate mini-morsels. (Mixture will be thick.) Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Apple and Granola Salad with Grilled Chicken

One of my favorite salads is one with apples, craisins, feta, candied pecans, and a raspberry vinaigrette.  I just love the sweet with the feta and it makes a great meal if you add some chicken.  Well, I tried an adaption to it.  I took a crunchy granola bar and crushed it into small chunks and added it.  Yum!  It works kinda like sweet croutons.  Give it a try!

Krusteaz Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I just love this product!   It tastes very homemade and the mix only needs an egg and some water.  This is my "go to" helper when I need to take something to Sunday school and everyone always loves it.  The addition of a few pecans would be nice to.  Publix frequently puts the Krusteaz brand mixes on sale BOGO so that is when I stock up.

Applesauce Spice Cake

This is a Duncan Hines recipe that uses their Spice Cake mix.  Very simple and the perfect little snack cake.  I dusted mine with powder sugar and served it with whipped cream instead of frosting it like the original recipe calls for.  Here is their original recipe.

Applesauce Spice Cake

1 pkg Duncan Hines® Moist Deluxe® Spice Cake Mix

3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Grease and flour 13x9-inch pan.
Combine cake mix, eggs, applesauce and oil in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Stir in nuts. Pour into baking pan.
Bake at 350 ºF for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Spiced Pear Banana Bread

Well I have about 5 over ripe pears and 2 over ripe bananas.  So I Googled "ripe pear and ripe banana recipes".  Well, it worked and I found this great recipe.  The original recipe called for 2 pears and 2 bananas per loaf so I doubled the recipe and just added the rest of my pears.  I think this recipe could be adapted for all pear, all banana, applesauce, or any combination.  Also, if you don't have yogurt on hand, I would think that you could use sour cream or buttermilk.  This is a definite "go to" recipe!

Spiced Pear Banana Bread

 2 cups plain flour
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 teaspoon cinnamon
 1/2 teaspoon ginger
 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
 2 mashed bananas
 2 mashed pears (peeled or use canned pears)
 1/2 cup white sugar
 1/2 cup brown sugar
 1/2 cup butter or margarine
 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
 2 eggs
 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan and coat with flour to prevent sticking.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
In another mixing bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar and butter.
Mash the pears and bananas together really well in another bowl.
Stir the pear and banana into the sugar and butter mixture and add in the eggs and vanilla, stirring well. Then stir in the yogurt, again mixing well.
Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stirring constantly. Mix really thoroughly until everything is perfectly blended together.
Spoon the mixture into your prepared loaf pan. You can place a few slices of banana on top and sprinkle with a little brown sugar for decoration if you like.
Place the loaf pan in the center of preheated oven and bake on 350F for 1 hour 20 minutes. Cooking times may vary, especially in fan assisted ovens, so check the loaf is done by inserting a toothpick or knife into the middle of the loaf. If it comes out clean the loaf  is ready.
Allow the banana bread to cool in the loaf pan for about 10-20 minutes. The cooling is important because the loaf will solidify fully as it cools.