Sunday, May 15, 2011

(Final) Recipe #94: Paris in the Springtime

(ZERO recipes remaining!!!!!!!!!!)

We did it. WAHOOOOOO!!!!!!

Finished all 94 recipes of Chico Resort's cookbook in 68 weeks!!

The final Chico treat happened to coincide with us hosting May's brunch among our friends. Perfect timing to celebrate the end of the Chico Cookbook! And since this lone remaining recipe was Chocolate Roulade (originating from the French word "rouler" meaning "to roll"), I quickly decided on a "Paris in the Springtime" theme. After all, Julia Child- the main inspiration for this blog- is recognized for introducing French cuisine to the American public. (And, there just aren't many other occasions to wear my french beret!)
Thankfully, it indeed feels like springtime here in sunny Montana. After a harsh winter, we've finally been enjoying a bit o' sunshine, planted outside flowers, & planned our garden (Travis has a great idea to can veggies this fall!). We added French touches to our yard in preparation of our guests' arrival; cheese, french bread, Monet, fresh flowers, funny feathery nametags, & little artifacts I got in France umpteen years ago. And the chocolate roulade tasted très bien. --But it didn't look too pretty. Travis & I made it the night before, and despite Travis rereading each step of the recipe a bazillion times, it didn't turn out the way I thought it would. (A funny side note, while sending Travis to the store for late-night whip cream to compensate for our filling not thickening up, the store employee handed him a bottle of Ready Whip and said, "Here, this makes the best bikinis." Hahahaha, we were laughing so hard!)

And with that, we have finished all 94 Chico recipes in 68 weeks. Plus, sampled 13 picnic/drink recommendations & ate 11 Chico Restaurant dishes. (Two wine suggestions still remain that we may sample someday; Michaele Chiarlo Nivole dessert wine & Shooting Star Sauvignon Blanc.) Other than it costing between $10,000 and a million dollars to cook this entire book, according to Travis, it was a fun & tasty journey! We look forward to repeating several of our favorite recipes!! Au Revior & Bon Appétit!!!

P.S. We're sooooo excited for our next adventure... BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!

~Rating of Chocolate Roulade: 5 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Chico Cookbook: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Gratitude is the heart's memory." -French Proverb
~Music while cooking: Adele's new CD 21

Saturday, May 7, 2011

let them eat cake

This Sour Cream Coffee Cake may very well become a part of our annual MT Women's Run tradition. Made this before in Recipes #40, #44, & Just for the HALIBUT. One of our faves...
~Rating of Sour Cream Coffee Cake: 10 stars (out of 10)!
~Quote of the day: "My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather." -Terri Guillemets
~Music while cooking: None, just visiting with Travis while baking.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Recipe #92 & #93: royal dinner

(2 recipes to go.)
Fancy that! For an evening of royal wedding highlights on the horizon (Prince William marrying Kate on TV), we selected the cookbook's Duck L'Orange to dine on. Using ducks Travis got while hunting with Marcus a few months ago. The entertainment was a delight, but the meal? Not so much. Good thing we accompanied this with shrimp languini, as we had a feeling we wouldn't care for the duck. One thing we've learned from the Chico Cookbook; we don't like most citrusy things. On the hunt for more duck recipes, but for now we just like it fried in grease to get rid of that gamey taste.
~Rating of Duck L'Orange: 1 star (out of 10)
~Rating of Duck Stock: 3 stars (out of 10)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Recipe #91: a-m-b-i-t-i-o-n

(3 recipes to go.)
"Tumble outa bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition"- you know how that Dolly Parton song goes! Except instead of coffee, I started out with some orange/carrot juice (Brainfood for our growing baby!). And it indeed jump-started my morning. I got so much done during this bachelorette week (Travis is gone fishing in Devils Lake with Marcus).
We're in full spring-cleaning mode at our house, as we're getting ready for an upcoming garage sale. I sorted through boxes & closets, organized the cupboards, and spent a lot of time visiting at the hospital. Also managed to find creative time by cranking up some music to help me finish off a wedding scrapbook page, plus another dye project like in Recipes #47 & #31. I don't really know where all this energy came from... But it sure felt good to get so much accomplished! My Sunday evening wound down with Chico's french onion soup, sharing a milkshake with my dad, and watching Amazing Race.
~Rating of french onion soup: 5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "A baby is sunshine and moonbeams and more brightening your world as never before." -Author unknown
~Music while cooking: none

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recipe #90: Bun in the oven!!!

(4 recipes to go.)
Yup. We're ecstatic, exhilarated, & excited to announce we're EXPECTING A BABY!! (Insert happy happy joy joy dance here!)
With the "bun in the oven" on my mind, I was feeling rather 1950's housewifey while baking bread in the breadmaker this slightly rainy, overcast, spring-like morning. Chico's veal stock on the stove made our house smell quite appetizing! (I was also babysitting lil Trysten, and couldn't help but wonder if the scent influenced his dreams while napping?) The recipe's directions kinda made me chuckle as adding carrots, onions, bones, etc. completely reminded me of ingredients used in the ol' folk tale Stone Soup!
I wasn't able to find the recipe's veal bone ingredient, but The Meat Palace's butcher gave me ribeye bones as a substitute and I added veal for extra flavoring. However, between Travis teaching me cribbage, a lot of unexpectedness throughout the weekend, & the brilliant Elton John concert, the stock was kept in the fridge with the intention of using it a couple days later. Using the Lamb Soup recipe I listed in Lovin' The Lamb as a guide, we INTENDED to make a Veal Soup. However, we didn't have dinner at home until about a week later, so the stock unfortunately never got used.....
The magnificent Elton concert, though, was INCREDIBLE! A few of my favorite songs (Bennie & The Jets, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, & Tiny Dancer) sounded crisp & clear in the newly constructed Metra. (Just 10 months after the tornado they unveiled their new sound system, plus more bathrooms & bigger concessions!) How fun to take my own little "tiny dancer" with me. Although I can't feel any movement in my belly quite yet, I'm sure he/she was dancing up a storm!
~Rating of veal stock: 6 stars (out of 10). Travis found it to be very bland.
~Quote of the day: "Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby." -Langston Hughes
~Music while cooking: none

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Recipe #89: seafood dinner kicks off the work-week

(5 recipes to go.)
This was one of those busy days where Travis & I don't actually see each other with our overlapping schedules. We ate this dish separately, but both enjoyed it! Sole en croute, or Halibut en croute rather, was delicious and pretty easy to make (the recipe said any white fish could be substituted, and since I had halibut in the freezer, that's what I opted to use). The most time-consuming part was the artistic flair of decorating the puff pastry to look like an actual fish. Accompanied with crab cakes & steamed asparagus, this meal was one of the highlights of my Monday. -Along with the beautiful scrapbook page I made in class, of course...
~Rating of Halibut En Croute: 6 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Tend to your relationships like a gardener, you must occasionally pull out the weeds before they take over." -Anonymous
~Music while cooking: none

Monday, April 4, 2011

Recipe #88: bountiful

(6 recipes to go.)

My girlfriends & I began participating in the Bountiful Baskets Food Co-Op . And here's what we got in this week's baskets (see photo): 7 oranges, 3 mangoes, 3 apples, 3 green peppers, 3 zuccini, 8 bananas, 1 watermelon, romaine lettuce, green beans, package of strawberries, 2 bundles of asparagus, and 4 tomatoes. I compared this loot with how much it would have cost at Walmart, and am very pleased to say a whopping $21.27 was saved! Pretty good deal.

Extremely excited to create something with all this good-lookin' produce, I made a scrumptious beef/veggie stir-fry with the green peppers, zuccini, green beans, & asparagus. And made Chico's salad with the romaine lettuce & oranges.

Stir-fry = yummy. Salad = ick. Although we did like the crumbled blue cheese mixed in with the lettuce, we didn't care for the tangy dressing. Bountiful Baskets gets two thumbs up, but the Chico salad is definately two thumbs down.

~Rating of salad: 2 stars (out of 10)

~Quote of the day: "Indulge... time spent in the garden is awakening to the senses." -Jeanine Duran, Chico Hot Spring's gardener

~Music while cooking: Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume II

Monday, March 28, 2011

Recipe #87: hint of sunshine

(7 recipes to go.)

So glad we took advantage of Saturday's gorgeous weather, being as the next couple days were cold & snowy. (In fact, as I type, big wet snowflakes are really coming down in a hurry!) We tried our luck with Chico's Beef Wellington after working up an appetite that afternoon, galloping along Lake Elmo's dog beach. We've heard such good things about this meal (Its a whopping $55 on the menu.). But geesh, it really didn't tickle our fancy. We ate this while watching The Fighter, and the movie was way better than the beef. Similar to our lesson learned for keeping oysters raw (in Recipe #86), no need to mess with the goodness of regular steaks.

~Rating of Beef Wellington: 3 stars (out of 10)

~Quote of the day: "There are no elevators to success. You have to take the stairs." -Author Unknown

~Music while cooking: Puddle of Mudd's Songs in the Key of Love & Hate

Monday, March 14, 2011

Recipe #86: oysters-- Keep 'em raw!

(8 recipes to go.)
Blech. Seldom do we like baked oysters (we prefer them raw), but gave this baked oyster recipe a try anyway. And of course, didn't care for them. The pork chops, peas, & raw oysters (with a hint of cocktail sauce & lemon) we accompanied them with were fantastic though! Lesson learned; don't mess with a good thing. We shall forever slurp our oysters fresh & uncooked!
~Rating of Garden Oysters: 2 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Respect is taking into consideration the views & desires of others, and including it into your decisions." -from Meditation Secrets

Friday, March 11, 2011

bunco babes

I presented three Chico repeat recipes when hosting bunco at my house this week. (These ladies have been keeping close tabs on my cookbook progress!) The first being fennel breadsticks (from recipe #65), since they are a great accompanyment to the crockpot spaghetti I made for the evening's bunco dinner. Also turned the almond dill cream cheese and tomato relish (from recipes #81 & Chico Weekend) into DIPS! These were such a hit, several people asked for the recipes.
In addition, here's another dish that must be shared; a sweet, easy Fruit Salad I whipped up for bunco dessert (along with blueberry cake & coffee):
Combine the fruit & juice of 1 can of peaches (in water instead of syrup), 1 can of pineapple, & 1 package of vanilla pudding mix. Once the mix is dissolved, add cut-up apples, strawberries, bananas, grapes, and whatever other fresh fruit you can find for a colorful, flavorful treat! Brenda & Jamie suggested adding Malibu to it next time as well. Hmm, they might be on to something...
~Rating of fennel breadsticks: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of almond dill cream cheese: 9.5 stars (out of 10). The bowl was quickly finished off!
~Rating of tomato relish: 8.5 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of lemonade: 8 stars (out of 10) Repeat cookbook suggestion from Recipe #38.
~Quote of the day: "There is always ugliness in the world, my place is to create more beauty." -Rembrandt
~Music while cooking: Abba Gold, & Dirty Dancing soundtrack

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Macaroons Take 4 = big news

World events in February 2011; Protests in Egypt, Packers won the Super Bowl, ...and I finally conquered Chico's macaroons! Fourth time's a charm, I guess.
Macaroons (created by Italian Monks, refined by French Pâtissiers -I discovered while reading up on these lil suckers) seem like such a simple task. But for some reason, I found these delicate baked confections to be quite a challenge. What helped TREMENDOUSLY was using the hand-mixer I got for Christmas, as it zapped them into shape! And SHAPE was exactly what I needed since my previous attempts (Macaroons Take 3, Macaroons Take 2, & Recipe #48) created droopy gobs of liquidy coconut.
Quite giddy, we took these beautiful precious gems to my parents' house for Survivor night. (Another fun-filled season of betting on the winner has begun, and we've got a hundred bucks in the pot this time. -Way more winnings than the $15 Travis won a couple weeks ago during our hilarious puzzle competition with Ma & Pa. -I tell ya, we bet on everything!)
The cookies were a big hit and complimented our evening well. For reasons far beyond these goodies, this night is a magical memory....
~Rating of Macaroons: 8 stars (out of 10) Despite the coconut, Travis gobbled 'em up!
~Quote of the day: "To us, family means putting your arms around each other & being there." -Barbara Bush
~Music while cooking: Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road --with one of my all-time fave songs; B-B-B-Benny & The Jets!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Recipe #85: brunch with the gang

(9 recipes to go.)
A Saturday morning brunch with our friends is a fabulous way to start the day. Among all the chatter, giggles, & treats we nibbled on Chico's moist, rich bread pudding. I used sheepherder's bread (an excellent way to use up old bread). And it was so good, the girls demanded the recipe.
This yumalicious dish could be even better with some raisins or walnuts added to it too. I'll have to keep that in mind for next time.
~Rating of bread pudding: 8.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Laughter is the shortest distance between friends." -Unknown
~Music while cooking: Elton John's Goodbye Yellowbrick Road, & 500 Days of Summer soundtrack

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chico weekend

A little getaway... We immensely enjoyed the solitude & great outdoors on this slightly chilly winter weekend. There were HUGE gusts of wind and surprisingly very little snow at Chico, so we didn't do the snowshoeing, icefishing, & dogsledding we'd initially planned. Instead, we:
  1. read books in the family cabin
  2. counted elk & deer near Dailey Lake
  3. drove into a delicate pink sunset (I swear one dark mountain peak resembled a volcano with a big cloudburst of fuchsia lava coming out the top... But my hubby didn't quite share my imagination...)
  4. convinced a guy to buy the Chico Cookbook while Travis was getting a hat in the giftshop
  5. experienced the local Emigrant nightlife
  6. played a super fun bowling video game
  7. spent a small fortune selecting songs on a jukebox
  8. briefly looked for "Percie The Ghost" in the resort's hallways (as described in Recipe #72)
  9. dined on mouth-watering fantastic oysters in the half-shell, rack of lamb, & a buffalo ribeye at Chico's rustic restaurant. Mmmm..... Also got a complimentary piece of french silk pie, which I'm not sure was because of the valentine weekend or to make up for Travis scraping an overabundance of seasoning off his steak. Either way, it made for a delightful breakfast the next morning.
Before venturing home, we made some Smoked Trout with Almond Dill Cream Cheese & Tomato Relish layered on french bread. This was a scrumptious repeat recipe (from Recipe #81), but this time we used trout instead of salmon. (Travis had caught the trout while icefishing with his dad at Cooney Dam earlier this winter and smoked it while working on Recipe #83.)
And being as we have just a handful of recipes remaining in the cookbook, this was most likely our last trip to Chico Hot Springs Resort while doing this blog. We of course haven't yet done everything Chico has to offer. We look forward to future trips where we actually rent a room or cabin on sight, relax at the Chico Day Spa, ride the horses, check out the dogsled, etc. etc. etc. There's so much we are anxious to experience!
~Rating of Smoked Trout with Almond Dill Cream Cheese & Tomato Relish: 8.5 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Fennel Breadsticks cooked by Chico: 7.5 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of House Salad & Iceburg Wedge: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Oysters On The Half-Shell: 9.5 stars (out of 10)- These were extreeeeemely great with a dab of cocktail sauce mixed in.
~Rating of Blackened Buffalo Ribeye with mashed potatoes & asparagus: 3 stars (out of 10)- Would have been a MUCH higher rating if there was WAY less salt & seasoning on it.
~Rating of Rack Of Lamb with boild potatoes & asparagus: 9 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of French Silk Pie: 9.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
~Music while cooking: None. Just Travis & I visiting.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Recipe #84: Thai night

(10 recipes to go.)
There's an appetizer we love at The Rex; the seared ahi tuna. It is MAGNIFICANT! So when it came time to make Chico's Grilled Ahi with Thai Onion Sauté, we also tried recreating the restaurant's delicacy by rolling the steaks in crushed peppercorns & topping 'em with soy sauce & wasabi mayo. Deee-lish! An impressive combination of flavors. (Although next time- and there will be a next time- we'll grill the tuna a little less, as its easy to overcook.) In addition, we accompanied the meal with fresh green beans and took a stab at making wasabi mashed potatoes! LOVED these at Ruby Foos in Times Square and China Grill at Mandalay Bay. Here's the recipe we used, we'll DEFINATELY make them again:
Wasabi Mashed Potatoes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove papery outer skin of a garlic bulb. Rub with 1 tsp olive oil and place on a small baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until skin can be easily pierced with a fork. While garlic is roasting, peel and quarter 12 potatoes. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow potatoes to simmer until very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain water and mash potatoes with 1 c butter until smooth and fluffy. Squeeze softened garlic clove out of skin into potatoes. In a small bowl, mix 4 tsp wasabi powder with just enough water to form a thick paste. Mash garlic and wasabi paste into potatoes, pour in 1/2 c milk and continue to mash until mixture is light and fluffy; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
~Rating of Grilled Ahi with Thai Onion Sauté: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Water & words... Easy to pour, impossible to recover." -Chinese Proverb
~Music while cooking: None. But I donned the silk scarf I brought back from Phuket to get me in a Thai mood...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Recipe #83: Shmokin'!

(11 recipes to go.)

With big, fluffy snowflakes dancing the tango in the wind, it was a perfect wintery afternoon to simmer a Smoked Chicken Corn Chowder on the stove. This was no simple task though, with 41 cooking steps ahead of me, I wore my apron like a super-hero cape & channeled Julia Child to get the job done! Travis smoked the chicken, while I chopped, diced, & julienned the veggies. Tasty, warm, soothing. It did indeed shake off those cold bitter temps.

And since I'm still thinking about it, as we were doing a little babysitting last night (with Lil Lizzy) we made our first recipe in the Quarterback Killer Cookbook (written by Jared Allen, MN Viking #69). Of course we'll make his scrumptious fish tacos again! It felt like a Saturday night indulgence, but without much effort. Had we cranked up the heat, it may have felt like vacation! Olé! ~Rating of Smoked Chicken Corn Chowder: 7 stars (out of 10) ~Quotes of the day: "The mullet helps when you hunt because the animals think you're one of them." -Jared Allen

"You know how I feel about tacos. Its the only food shaped like a smile." -from TV sitcom My Name is Earl
~Music while cooking: Varsity Blues soundtrack, and Bob Marley & the Wailers' Legend

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recipe #82: Throw anotha shrimp on the bahbie!

(12 recipes to go.)
One thing I wish the Chico Cookbook had more of is PICTURES. Sometimes I'm just not sure I'm doing the recipes right, as in the case of today's Shrimp Chesapeake. It ended up tasting tasty, but I'm questioning whether or not I wrapped the crab-mixture around the shrimp the way the recipe intended?? Oh well. I tried!
Made these lil crustaceans while Travis was coyote hunting with his buddy Clayton, then we nibbled on 'em while watching the Packers beat the Bears at Soldier Field that evening. The Chicago crowd's freezing breath looked reminiscent to last year when we bundled up in several layers at that very stadium. BRRR!!
~Rating of Shrimp Chesapeake: 7.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Train yourself to move away from what hurts you & move toward what feels good." -Danielle Barone
~Music while cooking: football (championship games). Putumayo's Music From the Wine Lands when heating up leftovers the next day. --This recipe is not good reheated though.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recipe #81: a Wednesday night dinner

(13 recipes to go.)
Smoked Salmon on slices of french bread, with Almond Dill Cream Cheese & Tomato Relish... Easy to make. Rich, delicate taste. Melt-in-your-mouth texture...
~Rating of Smoked Salmon with Almond Dill Cream Cheese & Tomato Relish: 8.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "In art & dream you may proceed with abandon. In life you proceed with balance & stealth." -Patti Smith (bought her beautifully written memoir of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, "Just Kids," while in Vegas... just started reading it)
~Music while cooking: Erin McDougald's Meeting Places, & Guns N Roses' Appetite For Destruction. --Perfect combo actually, with Erin's delightful jazz-version of GNR's Sweet Child O' Mine.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

lovin' the lamb

Tried out an Italian lamb soup recipe from one of my co-workers this afternoon. (Its absolutely FANTASTIC!) Accompanied it with lamb chops, using the cookbook's Rack of Lamb recipe we find to be OUTSTANDING. I'm tellin' ya, we are complete fans of that sweet meat. Travis even ordered some barbequed lamb at a new restaurant this weekend and it was INCREDIBLE as well. A huge THANK YOU to the Chico Cookbook for introducing us to this delectable treat...
And I must share. Here's the lamb soup recipe:
Over moderate heat, warm 3 tbsp olive oil. Add 1 carrot (peeled & chopped), 1 chopped yellow onion, 1 chopped celery, 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, & 3 garlic cloves (chopped). (I added waaaaay more, just cause I do like my veggies.) Stir for 5 min. Add 1 lb ground lamb, mix well to blend the flavors. Stir for 5 min. Add several chopped plum tomatoes. Pour in 48 oz of beef broth. Season to taste. I used A LOT of salt & pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat, & let simmer for 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and toast some slices of course country bread until golden brown. Place in bottom of bowls & ladle the soup over slices.
~Rating of Lamb Chops: 10 stars (out of 10)-- We've referred to this indulgence in Recipes #12, #27, #44, & #79.
~Quote of the day: "To have courage for whatever comes in life.- COURAGE- Everything lies in that." -St. Teresa of Avila (on a plaque I got from Paige yesterday)
~Music while cooking: jazz (Erin McDougald's Meeting Places) & football (the playoffs)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recipe #80: Oh Deer

(14 recipes to go.)
Still flying high from the birthday party my husband, parents, & bestest friends surprised me with at Chuck E Cheese this weekend (yayy me!)... last night I began marinating the Grilled Medallions. And actually, I'm a little surprised sleepiness didn't overtake me, being as the looooong day was spent in Helena for work. (I think that Chuck E Cheese giddiness will carry me through this entire week!) But I'd already thawed the meat, so figured I better get it going once I got home. (Plus, I was totally excited to wear my adorable new apron from Brenda!) Recipe originally called for antelope, although I used deer instead. A deer Travis got while hunting with co-worker Chris & brother Hunter this fall. Baked it tonight, but had just a small sampling since I leave for Bunco in a few minutes. The meal is intended for leftovers cut-up in a salad tomorrow. I swear, we're really trying to eat healthier!
And here's another repeat recipe: On the morning of my birthday, hubby woke early to surprise me with french toast. This was scrumptious, and he did an EXCELLENT job of presenting it with pork sausage, scrambled eggs, orange juice, caramel coffee, carnations, a necklace, & our special lil candle that sings happy birthday. Thanks Babe. :)
~Rating of Grilled Medallions: 8.5 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of french toast (we had this before in Recipe #31): 8 stars (out of 10)
~Quotes of the day: "I think I deserve something beautiful." -Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love (I watched that again last week.)
"Most people just want to live a fun life. If they had a chance to do it again, they would prefer to live an interesting life. And if they got a final crack at it, they would choose to live a good life... So do all three at once." -Andrew Gottlieb in Drink Play F@#k, a parody of Gilbert's novel I got from Jamie. (Just started reading it a couple nights ago.)
~Music while cooking: Guns N Roses' Appetite For Destruction