Better Than Ice Cream

Happy almost weekend. Don’t ya just need some ice cream? I could probably go for some ice cream any day, anytime. BUT there’s ice cream, and then there’s gelato. One of my favorite things in Italy is all the gelato. It’s so amazing. I also just looks so much nicer than American ice cream too. I remember how much I loved it the first time I had some in 2011 in Rome.

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It was just as delicious this time. I was also psyched to introduce Mr. J to it. Of course he loved it! He imagined it to be more icy and less creamy than it is.

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Gelato was our “meal” during our six hours exploring in Florence. In Spain we spotted this stick place that had it coated in a hard shell. Mr. J had to try one. Afterwards we kind of felt like just experienced a European tourist trap.

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It wasn’t as good as regular gelato. It also was quite pricey…darn those euros.
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Gelato is so pretty piled high overflowing from the metal containers. I scooped ice cream for a good portion of my high school & college life so I feel qualified to attest that 3 gallon tubs we hung over to scoop from never look this nice.

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The crisp stuck in is the perfect touch for gelato in a bowl. Love it!

Veg Burg

I scoped out a whole bunch of veggie burger recipes but ended up just including whatever I remembered when I grocery shopped. These were good, but could have used more crunch. I love when I have control over my burger since I’m not a red-meat-eater and have fewer choices.
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Ingredients:

1 cup oatmeal
½ can black beans
1 eggplant, grated
1 cup panko
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs soy sauce
1 egg
salt & pepper

Directions:

Blend oatmeal until it becomes like a flour
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Drain and blend the black beans in a food processer
Saute onion and garlic until translucent
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Combine beans, onion, garlic, shredded eggplant, green onions,  soy sauce, egg, and S&P in a bowl and stir to combine.
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Form into patties and bake at 375 degrees for 10 min before flipping and baking another 10.
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I packed these for lunch this week and served it on a light English muffin (toasted) with cheddar and spinach on the burger. I liked these a lot. I think the eggplant and beans made it really sizeable and filling.

I think next time I’d add in some nuts or sunflower seeds. I think another grain might have been good. Barley? Rice? I’ll keep that in mind next time.
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I baked instead of frying or grilling since they’re not known to stay together well. I froze extras and think they’ll be a great find in the freezer once I’ve forgotten them at a time when I feel like there’s nothing for dinner.

Since you know, or have noticed, that I rarely bake so it may surprise you that I have a muffin top pan. I have never made muffins in it but love it for things like this! I use it all the time for anything patty shaped! Crab cakes, burgers, zucchini fritters…you name it. It is super handy. Once I have a kitchen with space, I’m sure I’ll bake more.

Holiday Feasting

If your holiday season was anything like mine it included goodies of all kinds, and often. Here’s a journey through the last few days of family, friends, and FOOD.

A holiday gathering with friends was made more special with delightful holiday beer. Of course they had the regulars as well but I’m a sucker for seasonal beers. I thought it was a really nice touch to have a few seasonal varieties on hand.

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Some other fun additions they served was a decadent bark. This would be a fantastic post-halloween treat as well. Bittersweet chocolate was topped with pretzels, melted red & green chocolate, and all the candy and cookies you can think of. Bittersweet chocolate was definitely necessary since milk chocolate would make it over-the-top sweet. The pretzels added a nice sweet/salty/crispy aspect.

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Lastly they served roasted chestnuts! I hadn’t ever had them but fell in love. They have a real woodsy flavor. They are meaty and substantial. A little cut on the bottom made them easy to pop right out. Check out how nicely the bowl complimented the nuts too!

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Ok, lets move on to some holiday meals. Breakfasts are my favorites. Christmas Eve was already my 2nd day of holiday celebrations with the C family and we had a crockpot scramble dish including ham, egg, cheese, and shredded potato. We also served Ebelskiver (translation: dutch filled-pancake). These are tasty and really fun. Mr. J is a master at turning them so he did the honors. We filled them with raspberries, banana, and chocolate chips. More than 3 options just gets confusing.

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The pan only allows for a few per batch but we found out the first time making them that this is probably all that we could keep up with at a time anyway. Williams Sonoma makes fancy turners for $12.95 but bamboo skewers work just fine. We kept them warm in the oven while making the rest. I’ll post again about these…they’re that good.

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After discovering a Christmas journal from 1987 we realized the R fam has been eating a traditional Christmas breakfast since at least since then. It is a casserole (to be made the night before) with rice, eggs, velveeta, ham, and asparagus. It’s delectable and nobody is ever ready for a change.

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The other benefit is that it just gets popped into the oven while gifts are in progress and nobody misses anything! We also have a partridge and a pear tree, minus the partridge. Though I’m not sure why, the top of the tree gets a sugar cube with a drop of flavored extract lit on fire for a second.

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Dinner time? There’s no set tradition with the R family so this year we had ham. Yum! Sides included the best sausage stuffing ever, creamed onions, green beans, and a baked fruit on the side.

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Check out the BLT skewers I made with Mrs. C. She brought them to church on Christmas Eve and they were such a hit. How is it that I’ve never had super thick cut bacon? I’m now enlightened. Wow. We cut one end of the grape tomato off to make it stand better.

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One last delectable thing I ate (and ate) was sis’ sticky buns. The recipe will follow soon! Hope everyone else had great meals too!

Cuchi Cuchi – ooo la la!

Yay! A new fav!

I went to Cuchi Cuchi on a Thursday evening at 6 PM with one of my favorite people to eat with, Miss L. We were so enraptured by the decor, costumes, and cocktails we couldn’t even order when prompted.

Miss L and I have been meaning to try this home-y vintage hideout. Normally, we study menus and read reviews anywhere one of us has plans to go, even if we not both going! I should have studied the cocktail menu more closely before awkwardly not being ready each time our adorable waitress came over…at least we warmed her up for when we weren’t ready to order food either!

Cuchi Cuchi is small, with a bunch of small tables, a few couch & coffee table lounge areas, and a great looking bar. The employees wear amazing costumes. I distinctly remember us commenting on a white flapper-style dress we saw pass by. Our waitress was friendly and maybe Russian? She donned a black velvet hat with a birdcage veil. Don’t you just wish everyone wore them nowadays? She genuinely wanted us to like everything we ordered and she applauded our drink choices and her return was timely. I chose a hibiscus martini and Miss L had a blackberry cosmo. We found them sweet, a good strength, and well made. I was impressed.

Cuchi Cuchi describes the food as, “international, ‘straight up’ smaller plates to be paired or shared.” They seem concerned people will call it tapas, which also seems to be a big deal to them.  We shared and really loved it. Our charming waitress suggested we order four plates to share. Given the price and being unfamiliar with the size, we started with just two to share.

After much deliberation, we got the potato croquettes with tomato curry dipping sauce and warm brie dipping sauce. Yum! I preferred the tomato sauce since the potato croquettes were small & cheesy so they need something to balance it. We also got the chicken kiev. I have no idea how they formed it the way they did. Mushrooms and herbs were cupped within an incredibly thin chicken breast shaped into a bowl. Must recreate this at home! Ordering anothing plate might have been a good idea but we were leisurely enjoying our bites, drinks, and convo so it was fine.

I’ll definitely be back. Clearly the Cuchi Cuchi crowd shows up at a fashionable 8 PM or later so 6 PM is definitely the time to sit back, and take your time. I envision a great drink and a bite at the bar in my future too.

Likes: memorable experience, amazing drinks, really unique atmosphere, historical references for the cocktails
Dislikes: prices were a bit high for me to truly be a regular.

Photo courtesy of Jason Bagley via Creative Commons