Archive for Side Dishes

Birthday Dinner – and Cake!

Yesterday was my 25th birthday (thanks) and to celebrate, the boyfriend took me to a little bitty restaurant called CC’s Cafe. From the outside, the place looks like a dive bar, but inside…it’s only half dive bar. The other half is a 10-table Italian restaurant where they make their own pasta and play sappy saxophone renditions of old favorites (even Christmas favorites…).

To start, I had the sausage-stuffed mushrooms and he had crab lumps – not cakes, exactly, but little pyramids of light, delicate crab meat and a honey mustard-ish sauce. I don’t even like seafood and I thought they were pretty yummy. My mushrooms were good, not too wet or dry, bubbly cheese on top. After I’d eaten a few, though, they began to taste more and more salty.

We also got bread and dipping oil. Mmmmmm. Bread.

For dinner, I had the roasted garlic chicken pasta with red pepper fettucine, which was very good. The pasta didn’t have much of a red pepper taste to it, but it was delicious anyway. The chicken was tender, the garlic melted in my mouth. It was supposed to have red peppers in it and I was a little sad at how few there were (just two little slices!) and it needed salt and pepper, but otherwise a good dish.

He had one of the dinner specials, some kind of Hawaiian white fish with a nut crust and a citrus-pomegranate sauce. The sauce was pretty tart, a little weird for me, but the fish seemed good (like I said, I don’t generally eat it at all). He also got wild mushroom risotto with it – and that was GOOD, but not a good pairing for the light fish and fruity-sourness of the sauce.

A table of older ladies was next to us and they chatted the whole time we were there about their lives and their news. It was pretty hilarious. You can have a good dinner without some good eavesdropping, right? (Old ladies like to talk about sex. And they smoke pot. Who knew?)

All told, a delicious dinner, more extravagant than our usual fare (as is only appropriate, given it was to celebrate my 25th year of living). CC’s Cafe wasn’t perfect, but it’s no Olive Garden, for sure. You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to get me back there!

We opted to skip dessert (only 1 chocolate offering? yeah, right) and headed to Gullifty’s across town. I got a sinful triple chocolate mountain and Joe had key lime pie. Both good, as expected.

Dinner? Cake? Made by someone else? No dishes to do? I guess you could say 25 is off to a pretty nice beginning. 🙂

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Third Grade Throwback

After the Samosas Incident, I really needed to reimagine the kitchen as a soothing place, not a place of stress and frustration and total abject failure. For a couple days I stayed out of the kitchen entirely, living off leftovers (to be fair – we did have a TON of leftovers) and then finally the other night the boyfriend and I decided it was time to get back in the saddle.

I knew immediately what we’d be having for dinner that night (Dinosaur Macaroni and Cheese) and the boyfriend suggested we also add sloppy joes to the menu. I countered with canned green beans (the boy has a fondness) and pretty soon we were both 8 years old again, reliving the best meal from childhood.*

It’s important, I think, to follow up a sucky experience with a super awesome experience, and joes ‘n’ mac was definitely the way to go. Plus, we all know macaroni and cheese tastes better when it’s in fun shapes!

*This was also my favorite meal from graduate school. Gotta love eatin’ on the cheap!

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Vegetable Dumb-osas

Spoiler alert: Mine don't turn out like this.

Image from PKU Recipes, which has a recipe for samosas that sounds manageable. Ugh.

So my boyfriend’s been in kind of an Indian mood lately – which is fine by me, I love Indian cuisine. The other day, though, we started thinking: for what we’d spend on ordering Indian, we could probably make it. (And when I say, “we,” what I really mean is, “he.”)

Sunday turned out to be Indian Food Day in our house.

I did not go into this experience with the right mindset. I know that now. What I wanted to do was nap, maybe play a little Tetris, and let him work his culinary magic solo. But that turned into, “hey, honey, why don’t you come keep me company?” and that turned into, “want to mix up the dough for these samosas?” and that turned into, “want to make the samosas?”

The things we do for love, right?

Not only was I (more or less) conned into making them, I had possibly the WORST RECIPE IN THE WORLD guiding me. I’m at a Samosas 101 level. This recipe, I’m pretty sure, is for people who already know what they’re doing and just need a reminder about the order. Or a good laugh at someone else’s expense (ie, mine).

Some ranting and photos after the jump.

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My “Perfect” Hash Browns

One of my favorite parts of eating breakfast at not-my-house is the hash browns. I’m a big fan of potatoes in general, but crispy fried potato strings with my pancakes? Yum. I don’t know why I never tried to make them before – turns out, they’re pretty easy! And almost impossible to ruin, as I found out. Bonus!

Start out with your shredded potatoes. I used two redskins for two servings and the portions were just fine, but maybe you like bigger or smaller. I don’t judge.

Note that I didn't bother to peel them - doesn't make a bit of difference.

Then use a cloth and your brute strength to squeeze all the moisture out of the potatoes and add your flour and spices.

I went with lots of garlic and a little basil and salt.

Mix and toss the whole shebang into the microwave. See, I told you this was easy!

When it’s done, spread a nice thin layer of potato in your hot oil. (Seriously, the thinner the better. Mine was gloppy and thick and that was a MISTAKE.) Let it get brown and crispy then flip to the other side.

Mine is shaped a little like a lumpy Texas.

Once both sides are done, you’re ready to eat. I had mine with sausage and eggs and a glass of Simply Apple.

DON'T FORGET THE KETCHUP!

There’s seriously no excuse to not make these every day. Or, okay, every weekend at least. The only way hash browns get easier is if you buy them frozen or order them at Denny’s.

Recipe (and some admissions of screw-ups – jeez) after the jump.

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