Monday, April 25, 2011

Roasted Garlic

I'm back and feeling soooo much better. It turns out that I had a severe sinus infection and it kicked my butt for about a week and a half. But after the old faithful Z-Pack and lots and lots of sleep I'm back in the kitchen!

I made a fabulous meal that I was super excited about for Easter Sunday! But since that blog would be way too long I decided to break each dish from the meal into a separate blog.

I started with roasted garlic to put on rustic bread. And it turned out beautifully. It's a super easy recipe to make and it ups the caliber of just plain old bread or store bought garlic bread.

Roasted Garlic:
*Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
*Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic.
This is what it should look like before roasting.
*Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.
*Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself. Use a small small knife cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.
*Eat as is or mash with a fork and use for cooking. Can be spread over warm French bread, mixed with sour cream for a topping for baked potatoes, or mixed in with Parmesan and pasta.

This is the end result! Delicious!!!
 This is definitely my new favorite and easiest recipe! I promise once you've tried it you won't ever go back to frozen garlic bread again! :)

Much Love and Deliciously Bad Breath,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My 1st ~ Dierberg's School of Cooking class

I love to drink wine, but honestly I don't know much about wine.  I know what I like and what I dislike, but that all changed a bit last night.  Thanks to my friend, Liz.  Last month was my birthday and Liz decided she was going to take me to a class at the Dierberg's School of Cooking. ☺ What a great gift!!!

Last night we attended a Pairing Food & Wine Class, which we both loved.  It was taught by a Certified Wine Educator named, Ted Fuehne.  He does wine tastings and events all over the area.  Since we signed up to be on his mailing list, I'm sure you will be hearing more about him and the wines he will teach us about.  Last night we got to sample 6 different wines from Cupcake Vineyards.  Did you know that all Cupcake Vineyards wines are only $10 at Dierbergs? Ted then paired each Cupcake selection with something from the Dierberg's deli department.  Which by the way, have some really great items to help you create a perfect dinner party without having to lift a finger in the kitchen.  I obviously love to cook, but I'm also not opposed to using quality, freshly prepared foods to make the evening more easy for the host.  Dierbergs is the perfect place to help you achieve that. 

Here is a what we enjoyed:

Mosel Riesling (Germany) - paired with mild cheddar and creamy havarti cheese and fruit - I started enjoying  wine about 10 years ago while visiting wineries in Missouri.  I started out with a Riesling similar to this one.  If you are new to wine, this would be a great selection to start off.  It's fruity, not too overly sweet and a great wine for sipping on a hot summer night. It would be really nice to pair with spicy Asian food, but just sweet enough to enjoy by itself after dinner.

Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) - paired with penne pasta in a creamy and garlicky Alfredo sauce - this was my least favorite only because I'm not a fan of the more "grapefruity" wines.  This grape makes wines that are just too simply too tart for my taste.  Strong flavors of limes, lemons and grapefruit shine through.  I was surprised though the way it balanced out against the garlic in the Alfredo sauce and I would probably like this with a garlic roasted chicken and grilled asparagus.  So, while this wasn't my favorite, I enjoyed learning about how to pair it and make it more easy on my palette. 

Chardonnay (California) - paired with roasted chicken.  I was very surprised with this selection as well.  Typically Chardonnays are too "oaky" for me and I don't care for them.  This however was more buttery, soft and smooth.  Ted said that many vineyards are realizing the strong oak flavor is overpowering and not enjoyed by most people so they are starting to age them in stainless steel barrels or not aging it as long in the oak barrels.  This particular wine was only aged for 9 months in oak barrels which made the toasty oak very subtle and I really enjoyed it with the roasted chicken.  The wine took on a creamy buttery flavor up against the slow roasted flavors.  This would have also been good paired with the salmon we had with our next selection.  I would like to pair this with roasted chicken breast stuffed with a compound butter of blue cheese and spicy peppercorn bacon and see how that turns out.

Shiraz (Australia) - paired with lemon-pepper salmon.  I learned last night that Shiraz and Syrah are actually the same grape.   Syrah was renamed when it moved from the Southeastern part of France even further Southeast to the Australian region.  It is still known as Syrah when grown in France, but when it is grown in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina it is known as Shiraz.  Even though they are the same grape they taste completely different depending on the region it was grown in.  Shiraz is not normally a favorite of mine.  It is always so peppery to me and just not something I like to sit and sip on.  However, last night was a perfect example of when paired with the right food the wine can take on totally different flavor than what you expect.  The spicy notes of the wine paired perfectly against the spicy lemon-pepper seasoning on the salmon and really married together well.  I would probably serve this with a spicy shrimp stir fry, or my spicy drunken marinara with pasta.

Malbec (Argentina) - paired with barbecued beef and cubed blue cheese.  OMGosh!!!  By far my favorite pairing of the night.  I personally had never even heard of Malbec.  Ted explained it as "the other Merlot" so I was sure I was going to like it.  Wow! I was so right!.  The nose on this was dry and leathery, then you are surprised by the soft velvety texture and the flavors of chocolate, blueberries and plums.  It does finish with a hint of oak, but not too overpowering.  The best part of this tasting was when you paired it against the blue cheese and the BBQ beef. DEEE--LISH!!!  If you don't like blue cheese, than you wouldn't like that regardless.  BUT if you do!!!  This was the Buttermilk Blue found in the deli section of Dierbergs and by far the best blue cheese I have ever had.  Especially when paired with this fruity and intense Malbec.  If blue cheese isn't your thing, you can still enjoy this wine with the BBQ Beef which was equally delicious and when you put all three together it was like heaven.  ♫♪♫♪ ANGELS SINGING ♫♪♫♪

We still had one more to go though.....

Petite Sirah (California) - paired with Beef au Jus and CHOCOLATE!!!!  Petite Sirah is very dark in color.  Almost black.  Honestly, by this point of the tasting....I was very wine happy and still so caught up with loving the Malbec and blue cheese combo that I didn't pay much attention to the Petite Syrah.  I do know this was great with both pairings, especially the chocolate!!!  Probably not something I would chose to drink though.  I like a dark red, but this was a little too bold for me.  I would however love to cook with this.  It would be a great sauce for pork or beef by making it into a simple reduction.  It would also be great in a beef stew. 

Overall, I had a super fabulous time with a great friend and I'm looking forward to many more Dierbergs School of Cooking classes with ALL of my wonderful friends and family.


I normally wouldn't do this...but I feel the need to share with you the fact that I made something the other night and sucked!!!  My husband wouldn't even eat it and he eats everything!!!

It was a recipe that I doctored up a bit.  Maybe it was the fact that I doctored it up and I should have just left it alone.  I'm not sure, but like I said IT SUCKED!  I of course still ate it because I truly do eat EVERYTHING.

The recipe was a "takeout fakeout" of Sesame Chicken found at Food Network from Melissa d'Arabian the winner of season five of The Next Food Network Star.  I love how she is a mother and likes to fix healthy and affordable meals for her family.  I also love the "takeout fakeout" concept.....this however....not so much.

I doctored it up by adding some panko breadcrumbs to the chicken after coating it in the flour.  I thought this would give it some extra crunch.  I also made a glaze of sweet chili sauce, fresh orange zest and juice.  I honestly think that it was not my additions to this recipe that made it so gross.  You could really taste the raw flour on the chicken.  Now, I did omit the butter that she poured over the chicken and THAT is probably where I went wrong.  I just lightly sprayed the chicken with olive oil, because really butter?  You might as well deep fry it if you are going to pour butter over it.  Right?

So, I don't think it needs to be deep fried, but next time I just may go ahead and lightly fry the chicken in a skillet and just to be on the safe side reduce the glaze in sauce pan rather than having to thicken it with cornstarch.  That may just be the trick.  OR omit the flour and just use the panko breadcrumbs OR just pick up the phone and order takeout.  ☺

In the did look kind of pretty, right??? 

Too bad it just didn't taste pretty and that is what really counts.

So...for all of you who think I don't screw stuff're wrong! 

I do....I just normally don't blog about it.

Jessica Dudley

Friday, April 15, 2011


Sorry for the hiatus faithful readers... I'm sick! Mondo sick! And since I still have to go to work (I never call off unless I'm puking) my evenings are being filled up by sleep and not blogging.
But I promise I will return with an outstanding recipe this weekend! :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grown Up Grilled Cheese

My all time favorite comfort food is grilled cheese. Who doesn't love creamy melted cheese. I loved nights when we would have grilled cheese and soup for dinner. And I really loved when the grilled cheese was made with velveeta. The more cheese the better!

Now that I'm older we still have grilled cheese nights, but now they're "Gourmet Grilled Cheese". Basically grilled cheese for the big kids in your life. I've made a couple different variations and I encourage you to do the same. Try mine and then invent your own! Be creative!

Obviously the basic ingredients are bread and butter or margarine. You know the gist. Margarine on the outside and cheese in the middle. I stick with that basic idea but then mix up the inside ingredients.

Here are two of my favorite variations: (I use vienna bread, but feel free to use your favorite bread on any of these.)

Gourmet Grilled Cheese #1: On the inside of the bread spread pesto. Use some fresh mozzarella and tomato slices. Seriously, this grilled cheese is hands down my favorite! The flavor combinations are delicious. I crave this!

Gourmet Grilled Cheese #2: Use shredded sharp cheddar or colby jack. Add bacon slices and tomato slices. (If you're feeling health conscious use turkey bacon.) This is my dad's favorite. Last time I made it he had me make him another one after he had devoured the first.

You should cook all of these like any other grilled cheese. Flip over after first side is browned. And cook until cheese it melted. And remember...the more cheese the better! It's called grilled "cheese" for a reason! :)

Much Love,

And please please please if you get creative and come up with your own grown up grilled chesse please send it to me so I can try it too!

Grilling Time!!!

Are you ready to get your grill on???  Me too!!! 

I love to grill.  It's fast and healthy, which makes it perfect for our weeknight meals.  I usually plan on grilling some sort of extra meat too...just for salads and quick lunches throughout the week.

Here is a taste of some of the grilling I did over the weekend.  Enjoy!

(Serves 4)

Served along side of  Parsley Potatoes! 
3 T dried Greek Seasoning (or use the recipe below)
1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken breast
2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
2 oz. reduced fat feta cheese
2 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 cups lettuce, shredded
4 whole wheat pitas pockets, halved
1/2 cup Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)

Pound each chicken breast to 1/2 inch thickness.  In a large zip-top bag combine the zest and juice of the lemons, olive oil, Greek seasoning and chicken.  Marinate for at least 2 hours, but overnight is best.  Heat grill to medium-high heat.  Grill chicken for approximately 10 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.  Be sure to discard any unused marinade.

After chicken is cooked; take off the grill and place under aluminum foil to let it rest for at least 5 minutes.  Slice the chicken into strips.  Stuff each pita half with 1/4 cup lettuce, 2 tomato slices, 2 oz. grilled chicken, 1/2 oz of feta and one tablespoon of tzatziki sauce.  Serve along the side of parsley potatoes. 

Depending on the size either half or quarter one pound of red potatoes.  Boil potatoes for approximately 7 minutes.  Saute cooked potatoes with 1 T olive oil and 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

1 T dried Rosemary
1 T dried Italian Seasoning
1 T dried Tarragon
1/2 tsp dried dill weed

If you have a fancy spice grinder GREAT...but if not...crush in a small glass bowl using the back of a wooden spoon. ☺

2 - 5oz. containers of plain Greek Yogurt
1 medium cucumber - peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper

In a medium sized bowl combine cucumber, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper.  Take half of the cucumber mixture and blend together in a blender with one container of the yogurt.  Combine blended mixture with the remaining cucumber and the other container of yogurt.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the best flavor.

Who says you can't have it all?
Peel and slice a fresh pineapple into 3/4 inch thick slices.  You can core the pineapple as well, but you don't have to.  Place the slices on the grill.  The amount of time needed on the grill is going to depend on how ripe your pineapple is, so just watch it.  When it starts to caramelize and soften - it's ready!

Slice the pineapple into chunks.  The core is going to still be pretty tough, so if you haven't already removed it make sure you cut around it. 

Layer it in a glass with granola and your favorite yogurt. Dig in!!!

Ice cream is also wonderful paired with grilled pineapple or peaches. :)  The natural sugars from the warm fruit mixing with the melting ice cream.  Mmmmm....Mmmm...Good :)

OH...and a drizzle of honey makes it even better!!!

Happy Grilling,
♥ Jessica Dudley

Sunday, April 3, 2011

REVIEW: Gyro House, St. Louis, MO (Delmar Loop)

Gyro House
6152 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63112

Okay, so for my portion of this review, I'm going to try and keep this short and sweet.  I love gyros and saw a $50 gift certificate online for only $ I bought it.

We ordered:
Greek Salad - $5.45
Spanakopita - $4.90
Saganaki - $4.90
Combo Plate (1/2 of a Gyro, lamb kabob, chicken kabob & rice) - $10.10
3 Gyros - $5.45 each - one w/ added feta cheese $1
4 fountain drinks $???

Now, that I'm adding this up...I've either forgot something, those were some really expensive drinks, maybe they added gratuity, or maybe they just plain messed something.  The woman taking our order did seem confused about something?  Anyway, our bill came out to be somewhere around $56???  Hmmmm???  Oh well.

REVIEW ~ Short Version: 
Go with the gyro and the saganaki!!!!

Greek Salad:  nothing special.

Spanakopita: terrible!  I normally love spinach pie...that is when it's done right.  It's supposed to be like a spinach and feta quiche of sorts in between flaky, buttery, layers of phyllo dough.  This was just plain gross.  The dough was like chewing on rubber, there was barely any filling and what filling was there had an overwhelming taste of dill.  Weird.

Saganaki:  WONDERFUL served with fresh, soft, but slightly chewy pita!  It's hard to go wrong with the something that is simply Fried Cheese, right!!! Yummy!!!

Combo Plate:  The lamb & chicken kabobs were kind of dry, but seasoned well.  It only came with 1/2 Gyro and a side of rice...which is fine....but it didn't say that.  I don't like sneaky menus.

Gyros:  The actual reason we went in the first place and it was TERRIFIC!  Very tasty and probably the best I've ever had.

OVERALL:  Ehhh....probably wouldn't go again.  Sadly, even if I had a coupon.  If I want good greek food...I'll stay on this side of the river and eat at Fazzi's in Collinsville.  My suggestion is Gyro House should really just close up shop and have a food truck rambling around town selling only GYROS and FRIED CHEESE!!! Now we are talking!!! Oh, and they have one funky shared bathroom/storage room.  Weird.

Ha....short and sweet....who the heck am I kidding!!!

                 Happy Eating!!!  ♥ Jessica Dudley

Now it's on to me I guess! And I don't really have much to say because I agree with Jessica completely.

I loved the fried cheese and the Gyro's. The tzatziki sauce was really good. I was also not a fan of the spinach pie (Olga's does a better job). The Greek Salad definitely looked like I could have made it at home.

I don't really think I'll go back there again. It was fun doing the review together with Jessica. And a special amazing thanks to Jen and Jarrod who joined us. I had a great time that evening, but I think it was mostly because of the company and conversation. Gyro House, bring on the food truck! Jessica, Jen, and Jarrod...let's try out Fazzi's next time we want Gyros!

And those bathrooms were really strange with the storage shelves I felt like I was in the back room of the restaurant.

 Much Love!
     -Jess Loftus

Greek Salad



Combo Platter