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...