Enchiladas Verdes, Birdeye

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Delish and super low-fat

Tomatillos and green onions are the key to the sauce

My compost bucket which I am looking forward to
using this spring in the raised beds...details soon.  This is where I put my
coffee grounds, tomatillo husks and all left over produce including egg shells.

I BIG thanks to mother for getting me this seed starter for Christmas,
these are Cilantro, Oregano, Basil, Parsley and Dill seeds.  I'm
looking forward to sharing with Martin and Kara

The Gooch watching (on a homemade pedestal by Chloe) the Animal Planet DVD...yes, I'm wondering too where I live and what goes on when I'm not around....according to Chloe this is Gooch's favorite place.....hmmmm....what went on last week.....And
no wonder we found him in our chicken coop recently.
Friday, February 25, 2011

What a thrill it was to have the ingredients on hand for another Terry Conlan classic recipe.  After getting back from Ft. Lauderdale and knowing I had some tomatillos in the refrigerator to use in a recipe, I pulled this together tonight and served it with black beans with toppings of chopped cilantro, green onions and japs.  Tomatillos at one time intimidated me.  You can get them at Hays and Wal-mart in the produce section.  They have a husk around them and are a tomato and gooseberry cousin and will keep in your refrigerator for a good two weeks.  Here's this fabulous recipe from Fresh, Terry's cookbook.  And yes, after dinner CoCo put in a DVD for the Gooch Man and I couldn't believe the set up she had for him.  Cracks me up....

Enchiladas Verdes

"In the hierarchy of Tex-Mex, green enchiladas (verde means green) rank second only to the ubiquitous "chili and cheese".  Traditionally made with chicken or cheese or a combination of both, and topped with a feisty green tomatillo sauce, they offer a delicious (and vegetarian-friendly) alternative of all Mexican food lovers.  Interestingly, the star ingredient in this sauce-even though tomatillo translates directly as "little tomato" -is not a true tomato at all, but a member of the gooseberry family.  You will find fresh tomatillos wrapped in their papery green husks in the produce section of many grocery stores.  Canned tomatillos may be substituted (NEVER DO THIS), but be leery of canned tomatillo salsas which can be quite hot."

3 cups tomatillos, husked
1 small onion, quartered
3 green onions, sliced in 2 inch segments
2 large garlic cloves, minced, I used 4
3/4 C fat free sour cream, I used lite
1/2 C chopped cilantro
2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1 t. sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime, I used one lime, paleease...lol!
1 poblano chile, roasted, peeled and seeded, I used 4 of my own that I froze last fall, let them come to room temperature and then roast in an oven on 450 degrees for a good 12 minutes
12 corn tortillas
1 lb. cooked chicken breasts, shredded, I used 4 of the organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts from Wal-Mart, as far as I know I can't get organic chicken at Hay's yet.
3/4 C. shredded low-fat cheddar, I didn't have low-fat so we had the real deal

Combine both onions and tomatillos in a 3 qt. saucepan covered with water over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes, drain.  Combine the tomatillo-onion mixture with the garlic, cumin, cilantro, chile, salt sugar and lime juice in a food processor or blender (I always use a blender) and puree.  Add the sour cream and pulse to mix.  Soften the tortillas by either steaming them or briefly microwaving them in a plastic bag.  Place a tortilla on a clean work surface and add cheese  and chicken and roll the tortilla tightly and place, seam side down, in a baking dish (I always spray with Pam).  Once all tortillas are rolled and arranged in the baking dish, pour the salsa over the top.  Scatter some shredded cheese over the top of the enchiladas.  Bake at 375 until the cheese melts and the enchiladas are heated through.   Note:  The tomatillo-onion puree, with out the sour cream makes and excellent salsa verde with may uses of its own.  BTW, I made this in two casserole dishes and froze the second one (that's 5 enchiladas per casserole dish).  There's nothing better on a busy school night to pull out a delicious casserole like this one and add some black beans to it and you're good to go!

Nutrients per serving:  Cal 332, Prot 32 gr, Carbs 35 g, Fat 7 gr, Sod 359 mg

Start2Finish Event Management and Move it Memphis, 10K

I loved running downtown Memphis this morning

The start line, about 800+ runners

Jackie and Martin questioning why I took this photo

My two knee braces and my two Ultras, they were good at 11:15 am

A shout out to Start 2 Finish Events, we've done many of their events,
they always do a professional job.  It was a great race today!
Saturday, February 26, 2011

Well, I'm back in the saddle.  Kara, Sarah Jane Bradshaw Martin and Ashley Boeckmann King are all entered in this Sunday's Little Rock Marathon Relay.  Each of us have to take either a 5.8. 6.2, 6.8 or 7.8 leg of the run.  I ran this morning with Jackie and Martin in Downtown Memphis putting up an average time for a 6.2 race of 61 minutes.  It was the first time I've ran with dual knee braces and yes I noticed a ton of looks and smirks.  And when we got out of the car, a lady parked next to us before the race remarked, "Uh, so you have a knee problem..."  I was totally self conscious anyway but it helped my knees even though my "good" knee ached more than my bad one.  So ladies, I'll have to take at least the 6.2 or 6.8 leg.  Fire up for Sunday!  I'm also thrilled that Chloe and Whit are doing the Kids Marathon Saturday in Little Rock.  It's such a great "seed" to plant in their minds about the benefits of exercise and that THEY can do a marathon.  I noticed here in Wynne with our local kids marathon that just the word "marathon" intimidates so many people, my self included.  Just get out there, quit doubting yourself and getter done.  I mean seriously people!  If this old, overweight diabetic can, you can too! 

And I just love the Start 2 Finish races, they do a fantastic job...they do the Mighty Mite Triathlon in Forrest City too (and the canoe father/son volunteers saved my life last year!)!

W Hotel, Ft. Lauderdale

East side of the W

They have the coolest pool on the 4th floor,
I wish I had gotten a better photo (this is the bar...)

View of the A1A

There were lots of canines in the hotel
(MeMe would love to bring Jack and Bob)
Monday, February, 21, 2011

Wendy booked a 4 star hotel via tripit.com and got a room here for a steal.  Our room rate was $170 a night and the rooms were regularly $400.  So splitting that made our room around $95 with tax per night.  I loved the location of the W, its pool, concierge and the neat stuffed white alligator they put on the beds.  I wondered how much they'd charge Wendy if I took it home as souvenir for CoCo...but I did leave it people!  So, a shout out to this modern hotel and to its security, we had to use a card every time in the elevators and they gave complimentary bottled water every day.  Check out the website.

W Hotel, 401 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., 954-414-8200 www.whotels.com/fortlauderdale

Casablanca Cafe, Ft. Lauderdale

Friday, February 25, 2011

Casablanca Cafe on Alahambra Street

The complimentary focaccia bread sticks with cilantro butter, yum!

After dinner, heading in to get some packing done...
Wednesday, February, 23, 2011

The wonderful W Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale recommended this restaurant just three blocks from the hotel.  It was a fun, easy walk from our hotel to the restaurant.  We arrived to a total packed place and had to wait in the bar for 10 of the 20 minute wait they said we'd have.  Wendy had a raspberry Mohito and even though it was happy hour when we got there, I didn't get the house cab, I opted for the J. Lohr Cabernet and loved it.  Once we were seated, we had a wonderful waiter, Daniel, that we both believed couldn't be more than 30, he was 28 and super informative about the menu.  For dinner, Wendy ordered goat cheese encrusted walnut chicken with risotto, spinach pesto, straw onions and an aged balsamic reduction.  It was to die for, really, really good and just the right size.  I ordered the Pan Roasted Mahi Mahi with whipped potatoes, asparagus and lobster sauce with chives.  WOW, I loved this pick, Daniel had to veer me this way between the Mahi Mahi and the Grouper.  What a great choice.  Lemme back up and say Wendy ordered the Calamari as an appetizer and we were of course, served the focaccia and pesto butter right after that order.  I wish Daniel had mentioned that we'd get this homemade, fabulous snack before dinner.  I veered off course for a second time and ordered the hummus (because lately I love to make hummus) and it was great but I didn't come close to finishing it.

During research for this culinary find, there are two fabulous chefs, John Schupbach and Patrick Tarantino.  John is a native of Missouri and has created fabulous dishes across the nation (I love, loved the Mahi Mahi) and has been chef since hurricane Wilma in 2005.  Sous chef Patrick has been in the restaurant for over 11 years adding his experience to the kitchen.  I'd say the two make great leaders in this fabulous kitchen.

We loved this ocean side restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale.  It was packed when we got there and it was packed when we left.  We loved the atmosphere, Daniel and our wonderful food.  Our dinner and drinks was $120, not bad we said.  The walk home was easy, we weren't half full.  I should also mention all the full fledged cyclists going down the A1A to Miami full-blast, I wanted to get a picture but they passed us going at least 20 mph.  You'll love Casablanca Cafe, Chefs John and Patrick and be sure to ask for Daniel for your server.

Casablanca Cafe, 3049 Alahambra Street, Ft. Lauderdale, 954-764-3500, http://casablancacafeonline.com/comindex.html

Zona Fresca, Ft. Lauderdale

Ahh, a wonderful, authentic Mexican restaurant.  It's slogan:
"not your everyday Mexican food, Mexican food you can eat everyday."

My grilled veggie burrito served with chips

The patio was full of dogs.  We loved the pet friendly
atmosphere outside....
Tuesday, February 22, 2010

I think because of my obsession with restaurants and cooking, my best friend Wendy (from Oklahoma City) totally went all out on research for restaurants when she asked me to join her in sunny Florida for a few days.  She was so excited about this restaurant that was just a few miles from our hotel.  After a full day of outlet shopping, and not your usual outlet shopping, this shopping was Prada, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Kate Spade and so on, we were thrilled to arrive at about 6:30 by taxi to this fabulous find by Wendy.

For dinner, Wendy ordered the fish tacos.  She was thrilled with many rave reviews of the restaurant and the review by one local critic who said the only thing worthy in the place was the fish taco.  She loved the tacos, they were lightly breaded and each taco had two corn tortillas, which she commented how she enjoyed eating from both ends of the tacos as they fell apart.  Wendy knew how much I love, love fish tacos and was offended I didn't order them also but I enjoyed the recommendation from my darling cashier when I asked him what he preferred between the veggie burrito and the chile relleno.  He smiled and said the burrito was quite popular.  So I ordered it up with my choice of black beans over the pinto beans and asked for jalapenos on it and on the side, and he gave me a second smirk and pointed out the condiment bar full of three kinds of homemade salsas, japs, and pico de gallo.  Lemme just say, it was HUGE and perfect.  We both added sides of the habanero and tomatillo salsas to our guacamole dip as well as two huge helpings of jalopenos. 

Wendy went on and on about how much she loved, loved the fish tacos and still couldn't believe I didn't order them.  I loved that burrito, which I never, ever order.  We enjoyed the patio with its 75 degree temperature and canines and families all around.  Our dinner for two with Coors Light was $23.  That's right, $23 including an appetizer and beer.  Don't miss out on this fabulous, authentic Mexican restaurant on Florida's east coast.  And the ladies room boasted a clean vanity and trashcans both inside and outside the door.  You can't beat catering to the ladies.

Zona Fresca, 1635 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 954-566-1777, http://www.zonafresca.com/

Non-stick Aluminum Foil

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mom's foil pulls right off....

Mom's updated kitchen

Foster Puglet duking it out with the Gooch Man this morning

When I got home from PEO last night, Chloe had made this booklet
to try and get a pig...this isn't her first time to ask for some type of
wild animal.  On her list so far are a chinchilla, hedgehog and more
hamsters....good lord....

My niece Audrey and AJ Jones from Little Rock spent the night
at Meme's when we were at Barbie's party

During Edmond's Frigid Five Miler last Saturday, this guy kept
turning around and running backwards.  He'd stop, run forward then
backwards....what's that about?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mother introduced me to a new kitchen short cut over the weekend.  She was thrilled about this foil that she puts over all her cooking sheets and casseroles to keep the cleanup time and effort way down.  This stuff was amazing (just like those Cinnamon rolls).  You just pull it straight off and put your cookie sheet back in the cabinet.  I loved that and I'm looking forward to trying this tip.

Barbie's Surprise 40th Birthday Party

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stephanie Bates Jones, Leslie Johnson Williams, me, Barbie Barton Greer


Sweet Jake and Maddie ready for mommy to arrive!
Saturday, February 12, 2010

Jackie, Chloe and I picked up one my hometown best friends Stephanie Bates Jones and her precious daughter Adriaunna in Little Rock .  We had a painfully slow trip to Little Rock from home with all the snow and ice, our 1-1/2 hour trip turned into 3-1/2 hours.  We missed dinner reservations Friday night to go to one of mom's favorite restaurants in Edmond.  I wanted to review it but we got delivery dinner Friday night and went to bed. 

Jackie and I were entered in a 5 mile run Saturday morning in Edmond called the Frigid Five Miler and we loved it.  It was one of the best run races we've been to.  We loved it and I'm glad I can still run since Kara and I are entered in the Little Rock Relay in a few weeks.

The trip to OKC was interesting because of the crawl on the interstate but once we picked up Steph, the laughs started.  We got on Facebook and went to town on it, looking up classmates, going down memory lane and enjoying all the comments on there.  Good times.  My mother had us set up at her house and Chloe remarked that MeMe should run a hotel and I told her I didn't want her to because then we'd have to pay to stay there.  Mother went all out even gettin Steph keys to a car for running around.  We arrived at Barbie's mom's house a little early which was perfect to catch up with her precious and timeless mom Sherry Barton (timeless like my mom).  She looks the same and had the house ready for the party.  Bill planned the party and hired a wonderful caterer from Downtown Oklahoma City, Italian Express, which is only open for lunch.  The owner Hassan brought it all and set it up.  They served a delicious Caesar Salad, spaghetti with your choice of a really good red sauce, which had plenty of basil and seasonings, or an Alfredo sauce.  You could add shrimp or chicken to it and it was served with delicious homemade bread sticks.  For dessert, Sherry served darling Valentine colored cupcakes and cookies shaped as the number 40, very cute.  Sherry also had the place decorated with streamers and had fresh flowers on the tables.  Jackie was impressed with the beer choices even though the old Bud Light was served with an Italian Beer, Birra Moretti and Stella.

Now to the comedy...Stephanie, Leslie, Barbie and I go way back to 5th grade on comedy.  Leslie and I went 5th to 12th together and Stephanie and Barbie, the Hoover girls, joined us in 9th grade at John Marshall.  There are a million funny stories with us all in them over the years.  Leslie and I chuckled all night at our own quotes, Leslie is hilarious too. 

Stephanie and I laughed all the way home Sunday about old memories and Barbie's fabulous party (Bill needs to get some credit too since he made the remark that he went through Barbie's address book for the invitation list and invited only those he wanted to see....hahahahaha).  Stephanie and I made a Top 10 list of quotations of the party and weekend, there were so many that didn't make the list.  It'll probably be an easier read for you if I just list them out and not try to set it up, it could take 6 pages to write it all out.  You just needed to be in that car with us, Chloe and AJ in the back seat trying to listen but trying to ignore our obnoxious laughter.  Jackie drove us home and basically was in a "zone".  Trying not to listen to us but not being able to not crack up too at all the comments and re-hashing about how funny Steph and I think Bill is.  He is hilarious.  Cracks me up right now thinking about his mannerisms and comments...hahahahahaha!  Jackie survived but he did drive 90 mph when we let Steph and AJ out in Little Rock.

The Top 10

1. "I didn't, did you?"  Stephanie at the party.
2.  My explanation to Mark Efram of why I refer to J.Harmon as Jackie.  "You remember Jackie Chiles off Seinfeld?" Mark replies, "yes, is Jackie black?" I say, "no" Mark asks, "does Jackie do frivolous lawsuits?", I say "no".  Mark asks, "does Jackie rhyme?", I reply "no" and Stephanie and I totally crack up and so did Mark.
3. Stephanie asks Mark where he works, Mark replies, "Gary is one of my best clients (that's my step dad who Chloe refers to as Matt for Gary Matthews, he owns a utility contracting company), I sell pipe and Gary lays pipe." Stephanie and I are rolling....
4. Stephanie asks Bill where he's from, he replies, "from Muskogee", Stephanie replies, "I'm from there" Bill replies, "You're from the Skosh?  We could be related..."  No comment needed.
5. I ask Bill, "are you converting to be a Jew (Barbie's Jewish)?" he replies, "I am not a Jew, I'm Jew-"ish"" while using a hand gesture of "ehhh".  Stephanie and I loved it, still cracking up.
6. Bill says, "Jake rides his bike here every weekend to get bacon (from his Jewish grandmother Sherry) and he'll call first so she can have it ready for him". Stephanie and I are invisioning this...
7.  I say, "what's the deal with bacon?" Jackie replies, "it's pork". hahahaha
8.  Bill replies, "Barbie doesn't think I'm funny.  She doesn't laugh at me OR with me." hahahaha
9. While talking with another high school classmate Jason Determan who was headed to the bathroom with a beer in his hand, Stephanie asks, "you want me to hold that?"  Jason replies, "no".  Jason pauses and says, "oh, you meant my beer?" Stephanie is dying laughing....Jason has always had this type of a sense of humor...
10.  On the ride home, AJ starts telling her mom about a fight at school and ends the story with, "it was a good fight tho!!"  My car erupted with laughter.

Just so ya'll know, Stephanie and I had the best time.  We always catch up where we left off.  It was a great weekend, hard getting there but overall it was great.  I loved also being able to catch my niece Audrey's basketball game.  She was the only one on the 3rd grade team that wore knee pads because Kathy said if she didn't, she'd come home with red, swollen and bruised knees.  It was a darn good, four 8 minute quarter game.  Audrey was the guard and one of the smaller girls and was totally the leader of the team.  My brother Craig was the coach and did a great job of keeping the plays rolling and encouraging them during the game.  He had a wonderful "bed-side manner" as a coach which I totally loved.  Chloe's remark about the game was "that's a lot of running", she said that while having her legs crossed and watching the clock.  I guess we might not have an athlete.

This is Audrey in a scrap for the ball...
Audrey, #15

Breakaway Running, Memphis

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I did take a picture walking out because I loved Chris and my new shoes!

I had to take a pic of their van.  They sponsor a lot of running events
in Memphis and the van is usually there.
Sunday, February 6, 2011

I don't post many non-food items but I would like to give a shout out to a fabulous running store in Memphis.  Yesterday before going to Iris, we rolled into Breakaway on Union Ave.  We were immediately welcomed and helped by Chris.  He was so nice and informative to my foot problems.  He fitted me with a new pair of shoes that I need to break in before the Little Rock Relay Marathon on March 5.  They were super nice and the manager Barry said I could bring the shoes back within a month of wearing them if they didn't fit.  Now I'm not sure you can do that with any other shoe store, amazing.  Just a shout out to this store, Barry and especially Chris who got 6 pairs of shoes out to try on.  When I made a low blow to a pair of Nikes, he took it kinda hard since he is a total Nike convert.  Chris was fine with my choice of New Balance.  I need to report on them after the race.  Kara and I also raided the 40% off rack where I found a shirt and some 50% off wool socks.  Next time you need a pair of shoes go to Breakaway Running and ask for Chris or Barry.

Breakaway Running, 1997 Union, Memphis, AR 38104, 901-722-8797  http://www.breakawaymemphis.com/

Chicken Parmesan, Birdeye

I just love Chicken Parmesan...
The cookbook

The easy sauce you have in your pantry...

My half chicken breast with sauce and Asparagus

COCO with BFF Tess Boone (who's been in CoCo's classes off and on since Kindergarten
having fun with Biscuit and our new foster dog Trixie (or puglet)
Friday, February 4, 2011

I just love this recipe from my favorite Italian cookbook, Italian American Cooking by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.  It's super easy to make and is ready in under 30 minutes which I love.  Time is an important part of my life...evenings are spent reading, doing math practice, social studies and Chloe has a science project due next week about one of our ecosystems, wow!  Chloe's having her best year yet and I attribute it all to her teacher Erica Bentley.  I hope all my friends' kids get her for 4th grade, she's the BEST!  My fourth grade year was such a bore compared to today but it was when my bff Wendy and I met.  Mrs. Kennamer was a great teacher at Britton Elementary in Oklahoma City.  Good memories!

Ok, I've of course modified this recipe to cut some of the fat and step up the seasoning. You'll love this recipe and you probably have the ingredients on hand or use a substitution.

Chicken Parmesana, New-Style

"This is a more contemporary version of one of the standbys of Italian-American cooking.  Instead of coating a thin, breaded and fried chicken cutlets with tomato sauce, I like to top a chicken thigh with sliced fresh tomatoes and slices of fresh mozzarella or Fontina cheese.  A lite sauce made with fresh tomatoes and basil finishes the plate.  Fontina is a mellow, lightly aged cow's milk cheese that melts beautifully.  Take the time to search out Italian Fontina, you'll appreciate the creamy difference.  You can prepare this dish using veal or pork."

4 boneless, skinless thighs or breast halves (I always use only 2 organic, skinless breasts)
All- purpose flour
3/4 C. seasoned breadcrumbs
(I add: 3/4 C. Parmesan)
2 large eggs
1 C. vegetable oil, I use grapeseed
3 ripe plum tomatoes, I didn't have in season tomatoes
6 ounces fresh mozzarella or fontina cheese, I use grated part-skim mozzarella

(I'm adding this:  Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions, set aside)

For the sauce:
1/4 c. olive oil
6 gloves garlic, peeled
8 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, I used 28 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 c. fresh basil, I used 2 T. dried basil

Using boneless chicken breasts, cover with plastic wrap and pound lightly with the smooth side of a meat mallet to an even thinness.  Don't over pound the chicken or they will shred and be difficult to bread and cook.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread the flour and breadcrumbs/Parmesan on separate plates.  Beat the eggs in a wide dish until blended.  Dredge the chicken in flour to coat lightly and tap off excess flour.  Dip the thighs in the egg, letting the excess egg drip back into the bow.  Transfer the chicken, one piece at a time, turn to coat in bread crumbs patting gently and making sure that each chicken breasts is well coated with bread crumbs.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  (I use an electric skillet)  Fry the two chicken breasts until golden on both sides and cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Remove to paper towels and drain.  Add mozzarella on each chicken breast and cover.

The sauce:

Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a wide skillet.  Whack the garlic with the side of a knife and drop them in the oil.  Cook, shaking the pan until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Carefully add the tomatoes in juice and season with salt and pepper and cook until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. 

To serve:  Top cooked pasta with sauce and half a chicken breast.  Top with fresh basil (when in season) and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  (I use the left over chicken breasts later in the week in wraps or as a half Parmesan sandwich topped with sauce, delicious as left overs!)

Restaurant Iris, Memphis

Kara and I loved having Joy Shepherd ride with us to dinner
(and she didn't complain when we were in Break Away Running
for 30 minutes shopping for new shoes and their sale rack)

The outside of the restaurant (it is in a house)
Our table at Iris...Beth and Stan Bradshaw, Sarah Jane and Cade Martin,
Tara Burton, Jimmy Huff, Beth Malone, Joy Shepherd, me and Jackie

I just love that Tara Burton could walk home,
she lives in the neighborhood!

Ashley Boeckmann King, Chef Kelly English and Beth Malone...
All Ole Miss graduates...how fun is this Kara?

The second of our three tables...Kyle and Cecilia Killough,
Chuck and Lisa Blanton and Martin and Kara

Our third table...Becca and Neall Jackson and Ashley and Jon David King
Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kara has wanted to go to this restaurant and invited our extended biking family to come with.  We were overwhelmed by this modern, sophisticated restaurant situated in Memphis' Overton Square.  We had to take the 5:30 reservation time slot to seat our party of 20 which worked out perfectly.  We had a wonderful waiter Jeff, that covered all the menu items in detail and gave us his recommendations as well.  We were offered a cocktail or glass of wine when we were seated, Cecilia insisted I try the champagne cocktail called a French 45.  You all know I don't drink cocktails or spirits but I did go out on a limb and order one up without the simple syrup.  It was super lite and I loved it.  It was just Champagne and gin.  Jackie had an Abita Amber and was particularly cocky of the fact that Abita was the only beer you could order (he has an eternal love affair with Abita Springs and spends a lot of time during our annual New Orleans trip getting his seasonal Christmas Ale for Kara and I's party).

While ordering dinner, I felt a little influenced by everyone around me to order an appetizer which is totally against my rules.  Jackie didn't want one either but I feared I'd make a mistake by not trying one at this new, hip restaurant.  I asked Jeff to get us his favorite and he insisted on Rod Bailey's Ravioli, which on the menu was described as "neola" brown butter and mushrooms.  I must back up and report that the waitstaff kept serving crusty french bread during our cocktails and ordering and Jeff recommended that we dip our bread in the ravioli sauce and we did...whoa, that was good advice, it was delicious.  The ravioli was huge and we split it and enjoyed the sauce and bread. 

For dinner, I had the redfish because Jeff said it was his pick for someone who liked spicy food.  He ordered it up with an extra spicy request for me and it was perfect.  Just the right size, delish.  Jackie ordered the Surf and Turf, which is described as new york strip steak, medium rare, stuffed with fried oysters and blue cheese.  It was a huge helping and he loved it and remarked how ordering something like this reminded him of Benton and Alexis' past ordering at the infamous Powerhouse Seafood restaurant in Fayetteville. About 17 years ago Benton, in his drunk ordering way, got the surf and turf for he and his date Alexis, when she totally didn't like lobster.  It was another memorable time with Benton.  We also rehashed Jackie getting banned from the bar for ordering his table drinks.  Fun memories.

This evening and meal couldn't have been more perfect so I hesitated on dessert because I didn't want to get disappointed.  I finally decided to get the bread pudding and split it with Jackie.  It was unbelievable and the coffee with chickory hit the spot.

Oh Restaurant Iris, an unbelievable, fresh restaurant and menu with an equally, fabulous chef Kelly English, who is from southern Louisiana.  I took a picture of our two Ole Miss alums Ashley Boeckmann King and Beth Malone with the chef.  He was gracious to come out of the kitchen 3 times to visit with our huge party.  Restaurant Iris is a must restaurant.  Open since 2008, I see this establishment as not only a regional best but an American Icon restaurant.  Yes, I just coined that phrase.  Make sure you get to this restaurant and let me know what you think, you won't be disappointed.

Restaurant Iris, 2146 Monroe, Memphis, 901-590-2828.  http://www.restaurantiris.com/

Chicken and Rice, Birdeye

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Notice I just topped with the half stick butter on top,
skipping half the fat called for in the recipe

The cover of this cookbook that I cherish for my New Year's Day
Hopping John, Lemon Squares and this recipe (and tons of others to try)
 Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I had planned to tell you guys about my favorite Italian recipe today (from Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, who I discovered on PBS, during those breast feeding months with Chloe 8 years ago...tears...not yet!) so you'd think I wasn't some Southwestern, Terry Conlan freak that I am.  But after school, I told Chloe we'd make Lidia's Chicken Parmesan and she said and I quote, "Ughhh...what is that rice dish with the yummy (yes she said yummy) rice and white chicken?"  Well it is from a fabulous, local cookbook, Memories of an Arkansas Farm Family by the Otis Adams, Jr. Family right here in Cross County and just right up the road from Birdeye.  BTW (by the way), I love Otis and Glenda Adams, they are the nicest, most southern, local family you can get.  They are super, duper nice, involved in their community and just genuine all together.  I was given this cookbook as a wedding gift from Mary Anne and Norris Cruthirds (I think).  I served it tonight with asparagus and peas (I need some green people...)  So here it goes...

Easy Chicken N Rice

6 chicken breasts ( I use two, hormone free-organic breasts cut in half for 4 pieces)
1 can each: Cream of Chicken, Mushroom, Celery Soup
1 can water
1 stick margarine (who uses margarine?  that's some bad junk!  I use half a stick of unsalted butter)
1 big cup of uncooked rice (I use organic, basmati rice)

Mix and heat soups, water and half of margarine and add rice, cook for 20 minutes.  Lay chicken in a butter casserole dish skin up (I always, always use skinless and never butter, use non-stick cooking spray to cut fat and calories).   Pour in the rice mixture and the remaining margarine on chicken.  Bake at 325 1-1/2 hours, covered.

I just love the smell of our kitchen when making this Adams' classic.  You've gotta try it with a green salad out of the garden (when it's warmer!).