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Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

Comfort Food: Shepherd's Pie

In Apartment Cooking on February 25, 2008 at 9:26 pm

I had been wanting to try Shepherd’s Pie for quite some time. You know…the pie with ground meat and veggie, with mashed potatoes on top? Kinda like a Chicken Pot Pie, but with ground beef instead of chicken, and mashed potatoes instead of a biscuit crust.

You can’t really see what’s inside…but take my word for it.

It was warm and comforting and very flavorful. My favorite part was the mashed potatoes on top–I shouldn’t have made them, because they were just too darn good and not the least bit healthy. I don’t think I can ever make them less healthy again they were so good.

I also had the need to use the little baking pots I got from Sur la Table.  The actual serving size of these little pots was a little bigger than I’d preferred, even though I didn’t fill mine all the way. I’ve noted that I’ll need smaller pots for my bread pudding souffles!

Valentine's Day Dinner Party!

In Apartment Cooking, Party Planning / Entertaining on February 25, 2008 at 9:20 pm

I invited a few of my favorite loves over for a Valentine’s Day Dinner Party! I had so much fun shopping for the decorations, putting them up and planning the menu. The menu just HAD to be Italian, because it was romantic without even having to try at it.

Although my menu had several courses, it really was less expensive than I thought it’d be…and all the food I’d bought for the meal fit on my island, as you will see below:

I cooked for about 4 hours leading up to the time my guests were to arrive (I’d said 8pm, they said 6pm, but they didn’t get there until after 8pm ha). It’s important to be extremely flexible when you are entertaining guests.

Before the first couple arrived, there was a need to get some kind of food out because nF was hungry. So I got together my Antipasto Plate with cheese, salami, bruschetta and he started munchin. I served everything with the most delicious cheesy herb baguette I picked up at “Paris Tokyo”, the popular Koreatown bakery. Baked them up with some olive oil and seasoning and they were a MAJOR hit. I also roasted garlic for over an hour prior to the guests arriving and added it to the plate to cool, and also because it looked beautiful. Too bad I didn’t get a pic of this.

After the first couple had made their way thru the antipasto plate, but the second couple still hadn’t arrived, it became necessary to move on to the second course, which was an appetizer. The appetizer I made was a major hit…it was really good I must say, and really easy to assemble while guests are there. I made them in about 3-4 shifts throughout the night:

Pancetta (Italian Bacon) and Cheese Pizzas 

While we continued to wait for the couple who was still on their way, everyone became hungry again! I had to think quick and decided to make Roasted Garlic Cheese Bread using the remaining baguette and the garlic I’d roasted up previously. Sprinkled it with a little freshly ground pepper, ample seasoned balsamic vinaigrette to dip the pieces in, and I think this course came close to stealing the show!

I insisted on waiting for the final couple to arrive before I served the main course and my specialty cocktail of my night, and I was happy I did. The champagne cocktail I made, (in addition to the beer, whiskey, vodka, and tequila we had that night), was great…but would have been better consumed earlier in the night before everyone was already pretty immune to any more liquor. Still, they were lovely and sexy:

Strawberry Champagne Cocktails

I had planned on making a Caesar Salad by making my own salad dressing…but that late in the meal, still having not prepared it, and really not wanting to work with mayonnaise, I decided instead to make a Caesar Salad with a vinaigrette based dressing (highly recommended). Added to the salad was Parmesan cheese and homemade croûtons from the infamous bread that I bought from the K-town bakery.

In addition to the salad, the main course featured what you see below. A Chopped Caprese Salad, Baked Pasta Shells stuffed with ground turkey, mushrooms, and ricotta, and a delicious Lemon Cream Shrimp Fettuccine. I think the diners really enjoyed this course…lots of compliments flowing, and serious focus on the food…it was really great and I loved cooking for this company.


I intended to serve a decadent and interactive dessert with this meal of love. I decided the perfect dessert would be my first attempt at chocolate fondue. I had strawberries, poundcake, and pretzels for dipping. However, everyone was super full and it had become so late that I decided to pass on preparing the dessert…next time tho!

I loved spending Valentine’s Day weekend this way (the party was on that Saturday)…and I hope it becomes a tradition. It reminds me kind of being this cupid chef…I like it.


A little Tex-Mex…sweet and spicy!

In Apartment Cooking on February 25, 2008 at 8:50 pm

A perfect tex-mex combo…spicy, buttery roasted Corn on the Cob paired with spicy and sweet Carnitas Tacos with plenty of jalapenos and the lightness of Montery Jack cheese to temper the spice a bit. All of that inside those delicious blue corn tortillas from Trader Joe’s…mm!

Super Bull Sunday (yes, I'm this behind…)

In Apartment Cooking on February 25, 2008 at 8:42 pm

nF and I decided to spend our Super Bowl Sunday alone, despite a few options that seemed sorta fun…but not as fun as us watching it alone.

for this momentous occasion, that was really sucky considering the Packers weren’t in the Superbowl despite their greatness, I decided it was imperative I made some good ole’ Green Bay, WI party favorites.

Here we have the Never-fail Cream Cheese Taco Dip…which I did experiment more with than what I’d been served as a child…you can see most of the ingredients used in the first pic. It also includes ground beef (needed some protein with the carb-overload).

While the taco dip was my favorite, nF was all about the Cheesy Baked Bean Dip.  This was a dish that only certain Green Bay moms did…it turned out way too good.

Greek Family Style Meal w/ Sarah!

In Apartment Cooking on February 25, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Another cooking feast with Sarah and her beautiful family! We decided to take on something challenging–Mediterranean food. Neither of us had pretty much ever cooked much Mediterranean food, which I discovered is quite similar to Italian food (not that surprising when you really think about it). Because of that similarity, I’m now eager to make more Mediterranean style meals.

Another one of Sarah’s amazing salads…this one had a Ginger dressing, mm!


Roasted Potatoes with Lemon Garlic Vinagrette


Minty Feta Stuffed in Grilled Eggplant


Tomato Basil Baked Butter Beans


Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb!


funniest website in a minute.

In cool website alert on February 22, 2008 at 12:23 pm

go, just go…”Stuff White People Like