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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Downtown Topeka – Bosco’s

I had the awesome opportunity to enjoy lunch with a friend at a Downtown Topeka restaurant, Bosco’s. I had never been before, although I had heard good things about them.

They were out of turkey so that limited the items on the lunch menu. They had a selection of “boards” on the menu, that you could combine 2, 4, or all of the selection for a sampler “board”. We chose to split the sampler as our lunch. The board consisted of 2 of each of the following toppings on focaccia bread:

White chocolate and almond spread, melon, sea salt; cured salmon, capers, citrus crème fraiche; whipped cream cheese, jalapeno jam, crispy mortadella; Capocolla ham, melon, sweet basil; tomato basil, mozzarella, feta, balsamic; Carpaccio beef, shaved parmesan, caper aioli; hummus, goat cheese, pistachio.

They were served on a wood board shaped like a painter’s palate, which goes very well with the ambiance of local artists works showcased on the walls. My own adventurous spirit drove me to try each one, and I am so glad that I did. The combination of flavors worked so very well together.

I thought the cost was fair for the sampler, as we both chose to have that as our lunch. It was quite filling and a great way to try a variety of foods and flavors that I otherwise may not have tried.

The one thing I would change is the description of the boards in the menu. It didn’t really describe sufficiently what the presentation of each would be (focaccia) or how many servings there would be.

I do think I will go back again and try something else on the menu. I am looking forward to being as pleasantly surprised as I was with the board.

If you find yourself inTopekaand are looking for a not so run of the mill eatery, check out Bosco’s. Oh, and take the time to look at the art on the walls. There are some great local artists inTopeka!

http://www.boscosdowntown.com/

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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Crab Legs!

In the first few months of 2012 I have already made some things that I had put off previously because I thought they would be hard. Like crab legs. I had no idea how to cook crab legs. None. I have now made them twice this year and DAMN are they easy! They were so easy the first time, I made them again! Let me just say that if you can boil water you can make crab legs.

The first time I made them I steamed them. They were pretty good. We (the Hubs, daughter number 4, and I) liked them. Daughter number 3 doesn’t really like seafood so that was going to be a stretch for her no matter what. I’m actually not sure that daughter number 2 was home either time. Hmmmmm. Oh, the life of a teenager…

The second time I boiled them. We liked them much better….

Also, the second time I cooked them I really tried to find side dishes that would work well. I chose twice baked potatoes and deviled eggs. They were both winners with everyone.

The deviled eggs were just a very basic, old-fashioned deviled egg. Mashed yolks, a little bit of white vinegar, mustard and (plenty of) mayonnaise. So yummy!

The twice baked potatoes were also very simple. The first bake was actually done in the microwave. When they were done I let them cool a bit and scooped out the middles into a bowl. I added sour cream, grated sharp cheddar and some green onion. I let the 2 youngest girls help me with the eggs and potatoes. They are very similar in putting together. Cut in half, scoop out the middles, add some stuff and put the middles back in to the outsides!

I re-baked the potatoes in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

This entire dinner was so quick and easy that I’m almost embarrassed! It was over the top delicious and took less than an hour start to finish to prepare!

I am definitely going to keep making things that I was unsure about or afraid to try in the past. They have all turned out wonderfully! I guess that should be a lesson in life, as well as cooking. Don’t NOT do something because you THINK it might be hard! We don’t really know until we try…

I think I’ll go to the kitchen and make something new!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Puff Pastry

I have always wanted to play around with puff pastry, but somewhat afraid of it. I have used phyllo dough many times; it really is kind of a pain in the butt takes a knack.

I chose Easter as day that I would try something using puff pastry. I had found a recipe for asparagus in puff pastry that sounded delicious. I made the recipe on Easter Sunday. It was a hit with the 3 of us who like asparagus; 1 ate the puff pastry but left the asparagus and 1 didn’t try it at all. Her loss!

Last night, as I was trying to come up with a quick dinner idea after work I remembered that I had some puff pastry left in the fridge that I hadn’t needed. I had wrapped it up very well so that it didn’t dry out. I rolled it out and grated fresh Parmagiano Reggiano on all of it. I used some leftover ham and asparagus on a few, asparagus only on a few and grated Mozzarella on a few. When those were in the oven I got a crazy idea for using another leftover from Easter. Eggs! I peeled one of the hardboiled eggs from Easter, halved it, removed the yoke and filled the cavity with grated cheese. Then I wrapped puff pastry around it and baked. When the puff pastry delights came out of the oven I popped the puff eggs in to the oven.

I plated the various puff pastry creations depending on eating preferences. I think everyone was thrilled! The “cheese only” went over extremely well. The Hubs thought that it would have made a great appetizer, but wasn’t “enough” for dinner.

The eggs were better than I could have imagined! That is something that would be a wonderful idea for Easters in the future, or for a different kind of appetizer at a party.

I’m thrilled that I took the time to bake with puff pastry. I’m so excited at how easy it is to use that I am sure I will be making a bunch of awesome puff pastry dishes in the near future!

Below is the recipe that I used for the Asparagus Rolls.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Asparagus-Parmesan-Pastry-Rolls-108150

*I used the same basic idea for the rolls that I made with ham, cheese, and eggs. I omitted the egg wash and sprayed the dough with nonstick spray before grating my cheese on the dough. I followed the same basic direction for rolling, except for the eggs. I placed the cheese filled eggs in the center of a square of dough and folded it like an envelope or little package.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Macaroons

I’m sure everyone has their list of “I’ve always wanted to make” foods. Maybe not a “Bucket List” of foods to make, more of a “If I had more time or wasn’t so lazy I’d make” list. I have a long list of those things that I would like to make if…

I’ve always wanted to make coconut macaroons. Not the French Macaron, which is more of a sandwich cookie, but the meringue-y macaroon. I said meringue-y, not merengue, which is a Latin Dance.

I love coconut confections. I don’t shy away from coconut desserts. In fact, anyone who knows me knows the story of how I craved Coconut Cream Pie so badly during a brief (Thank God) period of my pregnancy with Daughter Number Three (who does not like coconut) that I probably kept a local pie shop in business. Oh, and I’m quite sure that contributed to the seventy-two pounds I managed to gain (I don’t recommend it).

Yes, I love coconut. I had only had store-bought or restaurant macaroons. I knew that homemade macaroons would have to be better.

I spent some time browsing the web for a coconut macaroon recipe that was straight forward. I found one that was perfectly simple. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/toasty-coconut-macaroons-recipe/index.html

I made Alton Brown’s Toasty Coconut Macaroon Recipe. I have made meringue cookies before, so it really wasn’t much different. Oh, and having a KitchenAid makes whipping the egg whites so much easier than a handheld mixer!

I worried a bit about the macaroons not being done in the middle, so I took a sample cookie just to make sure. Out of the 5 dozen cookies that I made, I think that I sampled a dozen or so. They weren’t very big. (Not like a pie.)

The Hubs was thrilled that he got to eat almost as many as I did (more out of my guilt than my want to share.)

The macaroons were the after school snack for the girls that day. Even the non-coconut eating Daughter Number Three tried them. She was pleasantly surprised. They did taste quite a bit like toasted marshmallows. Daughter Number Four apparently inherited my love for coconut creations. She couldn’t believe that I was only going to allow her to have 2. Or 3.

I am so glad that I took the time to make these. They were not hard to make and didn’t take much prep time.  Ah – and my fears that they would be underdone in the center were unsubstantiated. Every one that I tried was done perfectly; golden and crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I’m very glad that I tested them, though. I had to do my part to ensure everyone else’s safety and satisfaction.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Baked Chicken Spaghetti

This is an adaptation of many recipes. I can remember having baked spaghetti when I was a child, at a friend’s house. I remember liking it. It was not something that was in my mother’s repertoire and she didn’t add it. I have tried making dishes similar to the one I had as a child and they seem greasy or too heavy. I was looking for a dish that I thought we could all eat and would like. I tried to making it healthier than the recipes that I was finding. I think I succeeded. Oh, and everyone liked it. This was one of the times where everyone cleaned their plate!

Baked Chicken Spaghetti

  • 1 ½ cups cooked chicken
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can black olives, Chopped
  • 1 can chicken broth (low-sodium)
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup (Healthy Request)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti, cooked
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine chicken broth and cream soup until smooth. Add in chicken, mushrooms and olives. Stirring until combined. Put cooked spaghetti in baking dish. Add salt and pepper. Pour the chicken mixture over the spaghetti and toss to combine. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and hot through.

I served this with a shredded lettuce salad, green beans, pears and breadsticks. I will most definitely be making this again. I used a whole chicken, so if I make it again I will just use breast meat. That should bring the fat and cholesterol down. Not much I can do about the carbs, though. It is spaghetti after all!

Nutrition: Calories 318, Fat 9.5g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 23mg, Sodium 461 mg, Carbohydrates 39g, Dietary Fiber2.6g, Sugars 3.3g, Protein 17.8g

It can be hard to find the right mix tasty and healthy when cooking for a family. This recipe has the potential to fit every single category that I look for; lower calories and fat and tasty enough to please a diverse group of eaters. Here’s to Happy Healthy Eating!

 

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

A Deserv-ed Dessert

I like dessert. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I love sweets. Sweet treats. Dessert just happens to (usually) be sweet. In fact, I remember as a child learning to spell the word. To differentiate it from “desert” remember that it has two s’s (esses) like “So Sweet”. SOOOOO sweet.

Although I try to eat very healthy (most of the time) there are times that I just have to have something sweet. The Hubs marvels at the concoctions that I come up with when my sweet tooth takes charge of my rational being. As was the case the other night when dinner was over and I found myself with no dessert and craving something sweet. I did what I do and I went to the pantry and the cupboards and opened them up. I found a can of Dulce de Leche, some pecans, and some chocolate chips. These are actually staples in my house. What I whipped up was beyond good. In fact, I amazed even myself. I (with the help of a friend) have named it Deserv-ed Dessert. Although I love sweets, I don’t feel that we need them every night, but this was a night that we had all cleaned our plates and had really good behavior, so we “deserved” this awesome goodness.

I didn’t really measure things, so the amounts may be just a wee off.

Deserv-ed Dessert

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 (to 1 ½)  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) cold water
  • 1 can Dulce de Leche
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine the sugars, oats, flour and butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until crumbly, like coarse meal. Add a little bit of the cold water, blending to make a stiff dough. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and spread the Dulce de Leche over the cookie crust. Sprinkle pecans over the top. Bake for another 7-10 minutes until melty. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chips over the top of the pecans. Bake another 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars and enjoy!

I would recommend waiting 10-15 minutes to cool these, instead of the 3 that I waited. They were still super hot. Every one of us liked these. Really, really liked these. I will most definitely be making them again! We deserve them…

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized