Organic Spinach Ribbons Topped With Smoked Mozzarella

Organic Spinach Ribbons Topped With Smoked Mozzarella

Monday, January 31, 2011

Me, The Impending "Historic Winter Storm" & Impending "Historic Winter Storm" Recipes!

So two days ago there were some rumblings that our fabulous historic town perfectly nestled in the Ozark Mountains that we live in could possibly get some ice.

Chris and I headed to the local grocery store.  Our local grocery store, Hart's, reminds me of the grocery stores I went to with my Mom when I was little.  Our local grocery store reminds me of Hestand's grocery store in Little Rock as both are locally owned and operated.  The employees at Hart's are so friendly and always have a smile on their faces.  They know us because, honestly, as being proprietors of a successful B&B we have made 5 trips to the Hart's in one day before!  What can I say?  Neither Chris nor I have the memory of an elephant.

So we make our list and hit Hart's where we were, as always, greeted with smiles and waves.  We bought Smart Chicken. We bought porterhouse steaks. We bought milk.  We bought Soy Slender milk. We bought potatoes.  We bought beans and ham hocks for 15 bean soup.  We ( I ) bought tabloid magazines.  We bought Gatorade G2. We bought ingredients to make my fresh salsa.  We bought turkey bacon. We bought refrigerated coffee creamer. We bought a refrigerated salsa Chris likes (hmmmmmm....does this mean he likes that refrigerated salsa better than mine??)  We bought green peppers.  We bought hamburger meat.  We bought ......well, you get the picture!  (lol)  We bought a lot for ....some "possible ice."

So I wake up this morning and let's just say things have drastically changed!  Our fabulous historic town perfectly nestled in the Ozark Mountains is now expecting up to 7-9 inches of snow and possibly 1/4" of ice.  Now, for those of you who live in larger cities (our town's population is 2,278) or live in cities that 12 feet of snow is "no big deal", let me assure you 7-9 inches of snow and 1/4" inch of possible ice in OUR town is A REALLY BIG DEAL!  Our town's "snow and ice plow system" is, ummmm, I think it's comparable to something Mayberry would have had (with Floyd the barber driving) if Andy Griffith's town actually got snow.   (The Andy Griffith show by the way is Chris' all time, hands down, favorite television show.  It's a little scary when an episode is on matter which episode...and Chris can actually say the actors' lines before the actors.)

Chris and I just looked at each in disbelief this morning as we drank our coffee and watched The Weather Channel publicly announce this impending storm was a "Historic Winter Storm."   This "Historic Winter Storm" was going to be the worst in history.  I could not believe what the blonde babbling Meteorologist was telling us.  My stomach sunk.  I was envisioning not being able to leave the house for a week.  I was envisioning running out of food.  I was, more importantly, envisioning running out of coffee!!  We were watching the blonde babbling Meteorologist.  I was on my laptop researching the weather conditions.  Chris was on his laptop researching the weather conditions.  At about the same time we both came to the realization that the impending "Historic Winter Storm" was inevitable and I said, "Well, back to Hart's we go!"

So back to Hart's we go!  Normally, I park in the exact same parking space (I'm a Virgo) no matter what time of the day it is.  Well, not today.  No Ma'm.  No way.  No how.  We had to literally drive around in circles and actually s-e-a-r-c-h  for a parking space.  The Hart's parking lot was covered with cars like an ant pile is covered with ants.  The massive PEPSI truck was there.  The massive bread truck was there.  There were people everywhere!  We just started laughing.  Actually, we were kind of scared to go IN Hart's!  (lol)

So after literally driving around in circles and searching for a parking space we finally find one and we park the car.  We walk across the parking lot towards the electronic doors of Hart's.  The electronic doors of Hart's opened.  We looked at each other, started laughing again, and walked into "Hart's."  Let me tell ya - it was something to be seen!  Normally there are 2, maybe 3 checkers.  Today, there was a checker at every register and I think there's 10 registers.  Not only was there a checker at every register, there was a bag boy at every register.  There were people everywhere.  There were people everywhere like there would be pescatarians at a fish camp. There were people everywhere like the paparazzi was at Lindsay Lohan's house before her latest rehab stint. There were people everywhere like there are people at a Barney's Warehouse Sale.,default,pg.html

So you might be thinking....what else did ya'll need?  What did else ya'll buy?....because you bought so much before! (lol)  Well, we bought garlic powder.  We bought pepper.  We bought a Clorox bleach tablet for the toilet.  We bought taco shells.  We bought coffee beans.  We bought more Smart Chicken.  We bought more milk and more Soy Slender milk.  We ( I ) bought more tabloid magazines.  We bought avocados. We bought carb balance wheat tortillas.  We bought taco blend shredded cheese.  We bought saltine crackers.  We bought a block of Cracker Barrel super sharp cheddar cheese. We bought organic white cheddar shells and cheese.  Oh, and Chris forgot his wallet so it afforded me an additional twenty minutes to shop as he had to return to our B&B to fetch his wallet. So I decided we needed asparagus.  I decided we needed mesquite wood briquettes.  I decided we needed salmon.  I decided we needed organic spinach ribbons.  And then Chris came back. And then we left.  And here we are now, safely and warmly snuggled into our B&B!.....waiting on this impending "Historic Winter Storm.'

So now comes the fun part!  Below are three of my  Impending "Historic Winter Storm" Recipes I'll be cooking over the next few days!

No. 1  
(served with grilled asparagus topped with smoked mozzarella and couscous)
4 salmon filets
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
juice of 1 lemon
3 fresh garlic cloves (minced)
small handful of parsley (chopped)
capers (I use organic Mediterranean capers)
1/2 bottle of dry white wine (remember, don't cook with what you wouldn't drink!)
1/2 of a purple onion

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Blend all ingredients (except the salmon!) in a blender until blended smoothly.

In a pan drizzled with extra light olive oil quickly sear the salmon on both sides (about 2 minutes on high heat).  Pour the liquid mixture into the pan you cooked the salmon in.  Bake, covered with foil, at 350F degrees for 20 minutes.  I'm gong to be serving this with my grilled asparagus topped with smoked mozzarella (that recipe is in my Blog entitled "Are Your Favorite Foods Like Your Favorite Songs?" and some couscous tossed with extra light olive oil, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.  "Enjoy!"

No. 2
(I eat mine on carb balance whole wheat tortillas & Chris eats his on crunchy white corn taco shells)

meat - you can use ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey - amount depends on how many tacos you're going to make
sea salt - to taste
fresh cracked pepper - to taste
1 handful of fresh cilantro (I just tear mine with my hands)
1 purple onion (chopped - I like big chunks!)
1 small handful of parsley (minced)
1 fresh habanero pepper (take out the seeds if you don't want the heat)
4 vine ripened tomatoes (2 are to be chopped for the meat mixture & 2 are to top the tacos with)
1/2 can of beer (whatever flavor you like)
1 cup of chili seasoning
3 good shakes of garlic powder
1 small can of tomato paste
1 can black beans (drain the juice)
1 good toss of crushed red pepper flakes
sour cream (I'm a light sour cream kinda gal)
hearts of romaine
taco shredded cheese

Add all ingredients in a pan and cook until the meat is thoroughly cooked (I add all my ingredients at the same time) stirring and adjusting seasonings as needed.  I cook mine on medium heat for 30 minutes.  You can "give and take" with the liquids depending on how "soupy" you like your tacos. We dress ours with fresh avocado, shredded taco cheese, hearts of romaine lettuce and chopped vine ripened tomatoes or Roma tomatoes.  I add light sour cream & jalapenos - Chris passes on both of those!  If you're watching your carbohydrate intake, you can skip the tortillas and shells because this is JUST as divine on a bed of delicious hearts of romaine lettuce!  "Enjoy!"

No. 3
(served with a delicious fresh salad)

large, firm green bell peppers (1 pepper per person)
1 fresh package of oyster mushrooms (chopped - I like big chunks!)
rice (you can use white or brown - I'm using brown)
3 fresh garlic cloves (minced)
2 large cans of  crushed organic tomatoes (1 for the meat mixture and 1 to bake the peppers in)
extra light olive oil
sea salt (to taste)
fresh cracked pepper (to taste)
1 package of Good Season's Italian Seasoning dry mix
1 yellow onion - chopped
1 small handful of parsley (chopped)
3-4 good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1 large wedge of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (grated - half goes in the peppers and half dresses them)
PAM cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and clean out / hollow out.  Cut a very thin slice off the bottom of each bell pepper so the peppers can "stand" in the baking dish.  With your hands, rub extra light olive oil, salt and pepper generously over each bell pepper.

Cook your rice per the instructions on the box.

Add all ingredients (except the rice, half of the grated cheese and one of the cans of organic crushed tomatoes) in a pan and cook until the meat is cooked thoroughly.  I cook mine on medium heat for 30 minutes.  Once the mixture is ready, add the cooked rice and blend thoroughly.  Fill each bell pepper with the meat and rice filling - I fill mine all the way up to the tippity top!  Generously sprinkle the remaining cheese you set aside earlier on top of each stuffed bell pepper.  Pour the second can of organic crushed tomatoes in the bottom of the baking dish you are using - be sure you spray the baking dish with PAM first!  Carefully place the stuffed bell peppers into the baking pan - you want to use a baking dish that the stuffed bell peppers will snuggly fit in.  Any extra bell pepper filling mixture you have left over toss on top of the organic crushed tomatoes acting as a liner for the baking dish.

Bake, covered with foil, at 350F degrees for 1 hour.  I'll be serving mine with a delicious fresh salad of hearts of romaine, vine ripened tomatoes, English cucumbers, purple onion and Feta cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper!  "Enjoy!"

Always "Push The Parsley!"
~ A Girl Cook

Are Your Favorite Foods Like Your Favorite Songs?

I love food.  I love to cook food.  I don't love all food.

I love music.  I love to play music.  I don't love all music.

I can cook food.

I can't sing to save my life.

I have serious kitchen rhythm ...I can get DOWN in the kitchen!  (me catching a pan of potatoes on fire one morning at our B&B and having to throw them out the back door doesn't count)

I have no musical rhythm...I cannot dance.  Any past attempts of me dancing involved, in the end, social embarrassment. You have to remember that my ballet teacher pulled my parents aside one afternoon and said, "I think Lisa would excel at something that didn't require much movement."   When I was old enough to take Junior Cotillion I simply r-e-f-u-s-e-d.  All the other girls my age, all my friends, were beyond excited and I was beyond m-o-r-t-i-f-i-e-d. I put on such a hysterical fit to my parents absolutely r-e-f-u-s-i-n-g to go to Junior Cotillion that they finally relented.  I think they were afraid they would have to, at age 13, put me on a daily sedative if they made me attend Junior Cotillion.  Me dancing is comparable to "The Unibrow Guy"  - it's, hands down, just not an attractive thing.

My first "food love" was Lucky Charms cereal - and, yes, I primarily ate the marshmallows - my favorite color Lucky Charms marshmallow was the green marshmallow.  My Mom constantly tried to convince me I really would rather have Cheerios cereal and I remember thinking....what is wrong with this crazy lady?  I had that thought pretty much every day growing up.  It all began with the funny dancing Leprechaun I'd see while I was watching my Saturday morning cartoons.  My favorite cartoons were Scobby Doo, Wonder Woman (I had a Wonder Woman bathing suit and boy did I think I was H-O-T!!) and Super Friends.  I wore all of my favorite cartoon characters via the incredibly awesome creation of Underoos!  Once I opened the box of Lucky Charms and poured that fun, colorful creation in my cereal bow topped with Vitamin D milk I was simply in heaven!  I was dancing on clouds!  I was in love with Lucky Charms!  Oh, and yes, I still eat them today!  (lol)

My first "music love" was the song "Delta Dawn" by Helen Reddy.  Did you know "Delta Dawn" was written by Alex Harvey and originally sung by Tanya Tucker when she thirteen years old?    We were living in Bettendorf, Iowa and I was 5 years old.  I had one of those small record players with a record collection that would have impressed both Tanya Tucker and Helen Reddy.  I don't know why I so fell in love with this song.  I'm sure my parents were wondering the same thing on a daily basis.  My favorite activity would be to turn my record player on, put "Delta Dawn" on the record player, turn the record player volume up as high as it would go, strip down to my birthday suit, grab my jump rope, and jump up and down on the bed (in front of a window) belting out "Delta Dawn" into my red jump rope handle. To say my parents were mortified is an understatement.  To say all the dogs were howling in the neighborhood when I sang "Delta Dawn" is an understatement.  To say I was on the receiving end of many spankings is an understatement.  To say I embarrassed both Tanya Tucker and Helen Reddy is an understatement.  To say I embarrassed my parents is an understatement.  Oddly enough, if I ever hear 'ole "Delta Dawn" playing present day I change the radio station as fast as a pescatarian runs from a butcher.  F-A-S-T!

A feeling of euphoria came over me when I ate my Lucky Charms...and still does!  :)

A feeling of euphoria came over me when I sang, in my birthday suit jumping up and down on my bed in front of the window, "Delta Dawn."  No worries, present date I am not a 41 year old faded Southern belle who is obsessed with a former suitor.  (chuckle)

So (some of) my favorite foods are lobster, asparagus, mushrooms, salsa, walleye, capers, porterhouse steak, cheese, Lucky Charms, anything coffee, tomatoes and cucumbers.  My favorite foods make me feel euphoric!  My favorite foods make me want to sing!  (no worries, I hold back)  My favorite foods make me feel happy! My favorite foods make me want to dance with joy!

So (some of) my favorite songs are "Red Hill Mining Town" by U2, "Not Enough Time" by INXS, "The Pina Colada Song" by Rupert Holmes, "Don't Bring Me Down" by ELO, "Tiny Dancer" by Sir Elton John, "Under My Thumb" by The Rolling Stones and anything by Frank Sinatra.

My favorite songs make me feel euphoric!  My favorite songs make me want to sing! (but I don't sing with my mouth full of food as that is rude)  My favorite songs make me feel happy! My favorite songs make me want to dance with joy!  (no worries, I spare everyone around me THAT sight! - lol!)

So I guess my favorite foods ARE like my favorite songs! How about you?!?

Below is one of my favorite recipes!  I hope it makes you feel euphoric!  I hope it makes you want to sing!  I hope it makes you feel happy!  I hope it makes you dance with joy!  It does all of these things, and more, for me!


1 bunch of asparagus - ends trimmed off
balsamic vinegar
sea salt (salt to taste)
2 fresh garlic cloves (minced)
fresh cracked pepper (pepper to taste)
extra light olive oil
1 block of fresh smoked mozzarella (grated)

Turn your oven to broil.  Lightly coat a grill pan with extra light olive oil and turn the stove to medium heat.   In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with the minced garlic, a few drizzles of extra light olive oil, a couple good shakes of balsamic vinegar, a couple tosses of sea salt, and 6-7 turns of cracked pepper.  Cook for about 5-7 minutes - tossing often and alternating the seasonings if they need to be.  Spray a baking dish that is large enough for the asparagus to be laid out and not smushed together with PAM.  Arrange the asparagus evenly in the baking dish and sprinkle with the fresh grated smoked mozzarella (I sprinkle LOTS of cheese!!).  Place in the oven, which has been turned to broil, and check after 3 minutes - continue to broil until the cheese has melted to the level you prefer.  Remove and serve with anything!  I sometimes eat just this as my meal!  It's slap-yo-mama good!

Always "Push The Parsley!"
 ~ A Girl Cook

Sunday, January 30, 2011

5 Foods For Valentine's Day That Will Have You Bringing Sexy Back! Myth Or Truth?!?

So what does "sexy" really mean?

Merriam - Webster defines "sexy" as:
*sexually suggestive or stimulating
*generally attractive or interesting

Now, let me be clear, I have never thought of food as "sexy."  I mean, I love my favorite foods and all and have sampled and consumed endless items since I was brought into the world but, again, "sexy" is not an adjective I would use to describe food.

So, as we all know, Valentine's Day is coming up!  I think Valentine's Day is definitely one of those "double-edeged-sword" kinda things.'s_Day    Some of us love Cupid and some of us want to shoot Cupid with his own bow, repeatedly, like in the beyond funny movie, "Valentine's Day."  Seriously, if you have not seen this movie, you must!  You simply must!

Valentine's Day Is FABULOUS If You Are:
(a) dating someone who gives you butterflies ...and flowers weekly
(b) engaged with a beautiful color D, clarity VVS2 diamond proudly secured in a platinum setting
(c) newlyweds who don't care if the toilet seat is left up
(d) married ...and happy about it

Valentine's Day is NOT Fabulous If You Are:
(a) single and have had as much luck in the dating world as Mr. Frane Selak, a Croation music teacher who is famous for his numerous escapes from fatal accidents (escaped from a derailed train / a door-less plane / a bus crash / a car into flames / 2 more car accidents).
(b) dating someone who, frankly, you started dating a month ago just to make sure you were half of a couple on Valentine's Day and plan on breaking up with on February 15th at 12:01am
(c) married...and not happy about it

I have had some bad Valentine's Days and some fabulous Valentine's Days!  I mean, haven't we all?!?  My first memories of Valentine's Day are my grade school years.  I remember my Mom would take me to our local drugstore and I would look at all the boxes of Valentine's Day cards (and I do mean all the boxes) until I found the prettiest ones.  I wanted the sparkly ones.  I wanted the colorful ones.  I did want the ones with Disney characters all over them.  I remember the addressing of my oh-so-carefully-selected Valentine's Day cards would be an event that night - my Mom would have a list of names for me (alphabetically of course because I'm a Virgo) and I would sit at the dining room table with my prettiest crayons and, with fierce determination, use my best penmanship to address each and every Valentine's Day Card.  Present date, my penmanship still leaves a lot to be desired - countless people, after looking at my signature, have remarked "Wow! You should have been a Doctor!"

I remember during my grade school years my Mom would make cupcakes for me to take to school and share with my class.  Now, I don't remember, and have never thought of, cupcakes being sexy.  Frankly, if you use dyed icing you then have a dyed icing tongue.  Is this sexy?  Depending on the moisture of the cupcake, you are very likely to be covered in cupcake crumbs.  Is this sexy?  I'm going to go with "no" on both of those.
I'm just sayin'!

Fast forward to high school.  Valentine's Day was stressful. I remember it being extremely nerve wracking.  I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs the month before, and leading up to, Valentine's Day if I wasn't dating someone.  I always remember a Valentine's Day school dance and, let's face it, you don't want to be one of those people at a dance who are on the sidelines watching all the oooy - gooey couples slow dancing.  And you can't stay at home because then it just reiterates ....I'm alone on Valentine's Day!  As I said, it was an extremely nerve wracking time!

Fast forward to present day.  I love Valentine's Day! My favorite flower in the entire world is the tulip.  My love affair of the tulip began when I was growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and my Mom and I lived with my Pappy.  Each side of his driveway was lined with flower beds that came alive with hundreds of tulips in the Spring.  Red tulips.  Purple tulips.  Yellow tulips. White tulips. Pink tulips. Parrot tulips. Lavender tulips.  And so my love affair with tulips began!  Present day, my favorite flower is the white tulip.  Oddly enough, my wedding bouquet when Chris and I were married at our Bed & Breakfast, MOUNT VICTORIA, was 3 dozen colored tulips! I had parrot tulips. I had red tulips.  I had orange tulips.  This amazingly beautiful bouquet was tied with a brilliantly vibrant cobalt blue ribbon.  Chris' boutenniere was a parrot tulip tied with the same brilliantly vibrant cobalt blue ribbon.  There were tulips everywhere on our wedding day.  There were tulips in antique silver pitchers on the tables.  There were bundles of tulips in a French market basket on the veranda for guests to take with them as gifts.  Present date, my favorite Valentine's gift is the bouquet of 3 dozen white French tulips Chris sends me every Valentine's Day!  Oh, and absolutely not to be forgotten is the infamous beautiful little blue box securely tied with white ribbon that always accompanies my white French tulips!

So let's talk food.  Let's talk about 5 foods that will have you bringin' sexy back - is it myth or truth?!?

(1) Chocolate.  Did you know chocolate's reputation as an Aphrodisiac actually began in South America 1,500 years ago?  Eating chocolate releases the phenylethylamine and serotonin into the system producing euphoric effects.  Chocolate also gives an immediate and substantial energy boost which increases stamina.

Although I'm not a sweets kinda gal I have consumed chocolate and, personally, I did not feel a wave of euphoria rushing over me.  I'm just sayin'!

(2) Honey.  Honey is known as the nectar of Aphrodite.  Honey is sticky.  Honey is sweet.  Honey can have a super buttery texture.  Some feel honey is much more than a delicious indulgence.  Some feel it is a sensual experience.

Personally, I cannot imagine anything more unpleasant than having a head full of honey hair.  I did, however, at one time have a friend who took honey packets from a pizzeria in Little Rock, Arkansas (they placed them on the tables to drizzle on the pizza crust) and placed them in her nightstand table to enhance the many "late night rendezvous" she had.  I also know, first hand, she had to make an emergency trip to the hairdresser because she had a tangled knot of hair on her head the size of the world's largest ball of twine which is located in Cawker City, Kansas.  I'm just sayin'!

(3) Oysters.  Did you know Roman Emperors traded them, weight by weight, for gold?  There's an oyster shooter "love potion" of an oyster floating in cocktail sauce, horseradish and vodka.  I mean, Aphrodite did spring from the sea on an oyster shell, right?

Personally, I love oysters! I love oysters on the half shell.  I love oyster shooters.  I love fried oysters.  I love oyster stuffing at Thanksgiving.  I simply love oysters.  I can only tell you this - since my love affair began with the oyster (I was in the 6th grade and living in Mobile, Alabama) I have not had waves of desire and longing overcome me.  When my honey package stealing friend and I shot endless oyster shooters in Destin, Florida one Summer I did not feel the urge to go man prowling on the beaches of Florida. I simply went back to our hotel and went to bed.  I'm just sayin'!

(4) Ice cream.  I know many people who are hard core ice cream lovers.  They love the low calorie ice cream.  They love the high calorie ice cream.  They love the good 'ole plain vanilla ice cream.  They love the specialty flavor ice creams.  They love ice cream!  Ice cream actually has many nutrients, milk being one of them.

Personally, I'm not a sweets gal so I'm not an ice cream gal.  Growing up, as a child, I of course ate ice cream.  However, when I heard the sound of the bells on the ice cream truck about to drive up Grace Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania I was not running through the house like a bull in a china shop looking for my Mom's shiny quarters because I wanted ice cream.  No ma'am.  No way.  No how.  I wanted one of those firecracker Popsicles!  The few times I have had ice cream - like when I've craved for some unknown reason a coffee ice cream milkshake and gone to the store for the ingredients and made a super yummy milkshake, I have not had the urge after drinking my coffee ice cream milkshake to put on some Barry White and get down to business.  I'm just sayin'!

(5) Avocados. Quite simply, avocados are super rich in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats.  This makes avocados good for your heart and arteries. When your heart is beating strong then your blood flows to all the right places.  When it's broken down like that the avocado sure doesn't sound sexy does it?  LOL!

Personally, I love avocados. I love avocados freshly cut with nothing on them.  I love my homemade guacamole, which I make and happily eat no less than twice a week.  I love avocados diced and placed on top of tacos.  I love avocados!  Now, I can honestly say based on my no less than twice a week avocado consumption I have not felt the need to hunt my husband Chris down like a wild bear hunting for food at a campground.  It has, however, led me on a hunt for more crispy, salty tortilla chips to dip my lip-smackin' good homemade guacamole in!  Just sayin'!

So what, currently, are your plans for Valentine's Day this year?  I'm excited about February 14th!  Chris will have, as always, 3 dozen beautiful white French tulips sent to me in an elegant clear glass vase - no bows - no fru-fru - no red vase.  I like the beauty of the flowers to shine through.  We, of course, will be full with guests at the B&B.  As the 2x winner of "Most Romantic Inn In America" we're sure to inspire love!   This year Valentine's Day falls on a Monday so here at the inn we are full the weekend prior to Valentine's Day, half full on Valentine's Day and half full the weekend after Valentine's Day. We'll go through our every day routine at the inn full of couples in love and then head out to a romantic dinner at my favorite restaurant in town, "Rogue's Manor."  What will we order you might be wondering?  Well, I'll order the 5-6oz petite lobster tail with their fresh vegetable of the evening.  I'll order their homemade blue cheese dressing on my salad - I'll pass on the bread.  Chris will order the Osso Buco with wild rice and their homemade vinaigrette on his salad.  Neither of us will have dessert - Chris will probably have another Negroni and I'll order one of their decadent double shot Cappucinos made by the magnificent Stella.

If you're an avocado lover below is my super simple guacomale recipe.  Ya know, you could serve this to your significant other in hopes of stirring some flames into a fire or you could use it as a facial mask before your Valentine's Day date!  LOL!!


2 avocados - mashed
2 tosses of salt (salt to taste)
4-5 turns of cracked pepper
1-2 dashes of Tabasco
juice of 1 lemon

Mix all ingredients and dig in with your favorite tortilla chip, fresh veggies or crackers!

Always "Push The Parsley!"
 ~ A Girl Cook

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A 2011 Super Bowl Soiree - "Lisa Style!"

The Super Bowl is about football.  The Super Bowl is about friends.  The Super Bowl is about....FOOD!!

The 2011 Super Bowl will be played on Sunday, February 6, 2011 - 6:30pm ET on FOX at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Texas.    I've never been to Arlington, Texas - have you?

The vocal powerhouse Christina Aguilera will perform our National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, at the 2011 Super Bowl.

The Black Eyed Peas have been named the halftime musical act for the 2011 Super Bowl!!  The band has prior experience playing on the big stage, being a part of the 2005 Super Bowl pregame show that was titled, "Bridging Generations." The Black Eyed Peas also performed at the 2009 NHK Kickoff Concert in Pittsburgh.

The 2011 Super Bowl teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers (GO STEELERS!) and The Green Bay Packers. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania so I'm officially supporting the Pittsburgh Steelers!!

Let me just start by saying I am not a fan of football. I am not only not a fan of football all I know about football is this...the quarterback throws the ball.  The gynormous defense people block the other team so the other team doesn't get to their quarter back before their quarterback can throw the ball to a guy who runs to the end of the field to make a touchdown.  Let me also say I am beyond okay with my lack of knowledge of the game of football.  It's just not an interest of mine.  I have no desire to peruse my local bookstore in search of  a book that will explain football to me from A-Z.   Lock me in a bookstore for 48 hours with nothing but books on travel, food and decorating and I'll be as happy as when the chocolate met the peanut butter and the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup was born!

My husband Chris loves football.  Chris loves football.  Chris loves college football.  Chris loves the Arkansas Razorbacks.  Chris' Grandmother Jean loves football.  Chris and Grandmother Jean love the Arkansas Razorbacks.  Chris and Grandmother Jean call each other before an Arkansas Razorback game.  They call each other during an Arkansas Razorback game (but only during commercials).  They call each other after an Arkansas Razorback game. Chris loves football!

So, you might be asking yourself how a marriage survives when the husband is in love with the game of football and the wife is an interested in the game of football as much as a pescatarian is interested in a sizzling, fresh-off-the-grill 2" thick Porterhouse steak.  (okay, I've officially made myself hungry!)

It's simple - I turn the event of football watching I must endure into a soiree - Lisa Style!  I entertain!  I decorate!  Oh, and I cook!  Now, let's be clear.  By entertain I don't mean have a couple people over with a bowl of Ruffle potato chips on the table and lukewarm Budweiser beer.  By decorate I don't mean hang streamers like my Mom used to hang at my birthday parties growing up.  (I really hated those things!)  By cook I don't mean toss some 2% milk Velveeta & a can of Rotel in the microwave and proudly call it a day.  No ma'm! No way!  No how!

I must admit I had several moments of decorating hesitation due to the primary colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers' uniforms -  black, white and gold.  I wanted to make sure our living room didn't look like 300 pregnant bees had thrown up.  I kept asking myself...why couldn't the Pittsburgh Steelers' uniforms be black, white and pink?  No worries - I overcame my doubts and forged full steam ahead!

Now let me break down a 2011 Super Bowl Soiree - "Lisa Style!" for you!  Let's talk exterior decor.  Attached to each column of the front of the inn (remember, we own MOUNT VICTORIA BED & BREAKFAST INN nestled in the Ozark mountains.  look to the right of my Blog page and become a fan via our Facebook page!  we want you too!) will be one dozen black balloons tied with gold ribbon.  The inn is white so there you have the black, white and gold colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers' uniforms!

Let's talk interior decor.  Let's talk tablescape.  I have four 12" tall square clear glass vases that I'm going to place in a line going down the middle of the table -evenly spaced.  In the bottom of each vase I'm going to put black river rocks.  I'm then going to arrange four white gladiolas and a handful of bear grass in each vase.  I'm then going to tie a gold satin ribbon around the middle of each vase via a simple knot - we're not talking a fru-fru bow here.  Surrounding the four 12" tall square clear glass vases will be two dozen white footballs that will be resting on the same black river rocks that are in the bottom of each vase.  The plates will be our simple over sized white Williams Sonoma plates.  The linen napkins will be gold.  The Ralph Lauren silver flatware will be rolled in each gold linen napkin and the gold linen napkins will be tied with a black satin ribbon via a simple knot - we're not talking a fru-fru bow  And there you have the black, white and gold colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers' uniforms!

Let's talk FOOD!  This is what I'm cooking / serving for the 2011 Super Bowl Soiree - "Lisa Style!"

TO DRINK:  In an over sized copper tub of ice - pitchers of Negroni, mineral water with cucumber & fresh lemon iced tea
FRUIT:  Fresh salad of mango, cantaloupe & pineapple drizzled with my homemade champagne dressing
BEEF:  Miniature meatball sandwiches with my fresh herb Feta marinara on ciabatta rolls
CHICKEN:  Grilled skewers that are continually basted with a marinade of minced garlic, extra light olive oil salt, pepper & paprika as they're grilled
PIZZA:  Carmelized onion and portabella mushroom with my homemade fresh herb pizza sauce on my homemade fresh garlic and black pepper pizza crust
DESSERT:  Red velvet cupcakes - super moist & dipped in my gold colored melt-in-your-mouth butter cream icing

Last, but certainly not least is the decor of ME!  A host's outfit is absolutely part of the decor and an oh-so-important element of the soiree!  I will be wearing a black cashmere turtleneck sweater, black leggings with strips of black leather down each leg, black pointed toe Michael Kors over the knee suede boots and, the piece de resistance, a faux fur black and gold leopard print hat!  Oh, and for the "bling" - over sized sterling silver hoop earrings and six strands of long, big over sized sterling silver beads!  A girl's gotta have her bling!  A hostess of the 2011 Super Bowl Soiree - "Lisa Style!" has got to have her bling goin' on!  She just DOES!

Oh, and ladies - how about dressing your man in some fabulous WRATH ARCANE?!?

Below are the recipes for my homemade fresh herb pizza sauce and the iconic cocktail, the Negroni.

1 can organic tomatoes (drain almost all of the juice - set remaining juice aside)
2 fresh vine ripened tomatoes - chopped
3 fresh garlic cloves - chopped
2 good shakes of extra virgin olive oil
6-7 turns of fresh cracked pepper (pepper to taste)
2-3 tosses of salt (salt to taste)
1 small handful of Italian parlsey - chopped
1 small handful of fresh basil - chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary - just the leaves
1/2 of a purple onion - chopped
2-3 good shakes of dried marjoram

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  If you think the sauce is too thick add the reserved tomato juice until it reaches the consistency you desire.  Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 45 minutes and "Voila!" have made Lisa's Homemade Fresh Herb Pizza Sauce!

1/3 Vermouth Rosso
1/3 Bitter Campari
1/3 Dry Gin

Using a tumbler or an old fashioned glass, mix until the ingredients are blended evenly. This cocktail is traditionally served "on the rocks" with a lemon twist as garnish.  I serve mine in pitchers with frozen Negroni ice cubes so the cocktail is not watered down!  (simply pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until you're ready to use them)

If you'd like any other recipes, or have any questions, please let me know by posting  a COMMENT!


P.S.  Chris is watching football today! (lol)

Always "Push The Parsley!"
 ~ A Girl Cook

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Life Of The Dinner Party - Appetizers, My Mom & Me

Life Of The Party: a lively amusing person who is the center of attention at a social gathering
Dinner Party: a party of people assembled to have dinner together
Appetizer: food or drink to stimulate the appetite that is usually served before a meal

I grew up with a Mom who loved nothing more than to host a dinner party.  I grew up with a Mom who would spend weeks designing dinner party invitations.  I grew up with  a Mom who hosted "theme" dinner parties - her most colorful theme dinner party was, hands down "Casino Night" when we lived in Suriname, South America.

The woman made her own potato chips and used a stationery stamp to emboss the chips so they resembled casino chips.  You might be thinking, "Wow, how cool!"  Ummmm, not so much.   For 48 hours you couldn't see our kitchen counter tops because they were covered with mounds of potatoes.  They were covered with mounds of half peeled potatoes.  They were covered with mounds of peeled potatoes. They were covered with mounds of sliced potatoes.

My Mom was frantically instructing our maid, Tomenam, how to properly scrub a potato.  Like Tomenam didn't know how to scrub a potato? My Mom almost severed her thumb with the mandolin she was using to slice the mounds of potatoes ....and my Dad had to rush home from work to take her to the emergency room ....but not before she had a martini because, as she explained to my Dad....the alcohol would act as a disinfectant once in her blood stream.   Seriously Mom?

My Mom made incredible appetizers.  My Mom was, hands down, always the life of the party.  My Mom could work a room like a presidential candidate at a campaign fundraiser.  My Mom had an innate talent of making people laugh and have a good time...even if they weren't really sure they wanted to.  My Mom could turn an ordinary backyard into a beach - yes, she had truckloads of sand delivered one day because she decided she was bringing Hawaii to Suriname, South America.  Oh, and did I mention no one knew anything about this until the dump trucks (yes, plural) arrived?   I woke up late that Summer morning to the sounds of  dump trucks unloading sand in our backyard and my Mom yelling, in Dutch, "We need some sand! We need more sand!"  The look on my Dad's face when he came home that afternoon and was greeted by a sand pile the size of Mount Vesuvius was, well, it was pretty darn priceless.  I remember my Dad going to the bar and making a gin and tonic, downing it, and walking out to the backyard where he stood, shaking his head back and forth, staring at the sand pile the size of Mount Vesuvius for what seemed like an eternity.

I've been described as the life of the party.  I have hands down, had some "excting!" moments as the hostess of fun and fabulous dinner parties.  Yes, I am my Mother's daughter. I have created my own invitations. I have ordered hundreds of Chinese lanterns to suspend from trees....just to ensure the "right glow" is being given off.  I have special ordered out of season flowers because, frankly, I just couldn't imagine NOT having white tulips in antique silver pitchers at my Winter dinner party.  I have not, however, embossed sliced potatoes with a stationery stamp to resemble casino chips.  I have also not almost severed my thumb with a mandolin.  I have, however, accumulated a large number of cooking scars due to my inability to master the art of using sharp knives and talking on the phone at the same time.

My Mom made rockin' appetizers.  My Mom made black olive appetizers that resembled penguins with orange carrot feet.  My Mom made these beef and cream cheese appetizers that I'd make myself sick  because I ate so many of them. I ate so many of these beef and cream cheese appetizers because they were just THAT good!  My Mom made meatballs the size of Barbie doll heads with cocktail drink umbrellas stuck in them because she was making "meatball people" and the umbrellas were the hats for these "meatball people."  My Mom's "meatball people" had capers pressed into them for eyes.  No, I'm not kidding.  My Mom made "meatball people."  Present date, I have to wonder if my Mom's "meatball people" were not brought to life after a pitcher of martinis.  Present date, I do not think  Mom's creation of "meatball people" was her finest hour.  Present date, my Dad will not eat meatballs.  I think the poor man is scared he's eating someone.

I make rockin' appetizers.  I make a fresh vine ripened tomato Bruschetta so full of fresh herb flavor your stomach sings!  I make miniature meatballs with a Teriyaki glaze that will knock your socks off. And, no, these are not Teriyaki "meatball people" with cocktail umbrellas as hats and capers as eyes.  Thankfully, I did not inherit the "meatball people" gene.  I make Feta cheese cheese balls that are a party in your mouth!  I make  individual miniature turkey lasagnas that leave you wanting more.  I make chicken skewers with a peanut sauce that will make ya feel "nutty!" with glee when you eat them!  Oh, and I make my Mom's "famous" beef  and cream cheese appetizers.  Present date, I can still make myself sick by eating too many of them because, frankly, they are just THAT good!  The funny thing is, it's one of THE easiest appetizers to make!!!  Below is the recipe!


1 jar of dried beef
1 brick of cream cheese (you can use fat free or reduced fat if you'd like)
1 block of Feta cheese (crumbled)
2 fresh garic cloves (minced)
1 bunch of scallions (diced)
6-7 turns of cracked pepper
1 tbsp of dry Italian dressing mix

Blend all ingredients (except the beef) in a bowl until they are blended evenly.
Unroll each piece of  dried beef and spread the amount of creamy mixture you desire on each piece of beef.  Roll up and spear with a fancy toothpick!  

P.S.  My Mom "stuffed" each piece of beef with the cream mixture and, present date, that's how I make mine.

Always "Push The Parsley!"
 ~ A Girl Cook

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food Can Be A Frenemy

We've all had a frenemy.  We've all had friends.  We've all had enemies.  We've all had frenemies.

We've all had food.  We've all had food we thought was "our friend" but, well, in the just wasn't.  We've all had food that was a frenemy.

So I think food is like a frenemy.  Let's digest it.  (no pun intended there - wink, wink)  Let's think about it!

My first friend I can remember was the boy who lived down the street from me in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  His name was Freddie.  Lisa & Freddie got in A LOT of trouble together.  We were like dynamite together...explosive!  We laughed.  We fought.  We hugged.  We made mud pies.  We ate mud pies.  We went trick or treating together ....and he always tried to steal my candy. We went to each other's birthday parties...he always tried to open my presents.  We kicked each other.  We kissed.  We tattletaled on each other.  He stole my toys. I tried to ride his dog, a Great Dane, like a horse and fell off and cut my lip on the floor.  He bit me for trying to ride his dog.  He bit me twice for trying to ride his dog.  Okay, so wait - was Freddie my friend or my frenemy?  I guess he was both.

My first food friend I can remember was chipped ham.  That's what it was called in our house.  Honestly, it was just extremely thin sliced ham my Mom called chipped ham.  I don't know why.  There are a lot of things my Mom did that I'm not so sure about.  Creating "alternative names" for foods is, I assure you just one of them.

The deli we went to was in this strip shopping center - it was next door to the drugstore where I got my Underoos (I had them all) and my Archie comic books and my "Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific" shampoo and my "Lemon Up" shampoo and where my Mom bought some Johnson & Johnson detangler she sprayed on my hair after I washed it and where my Mom bought her pantyhose that came in blue eggs.  I loved to play with those blue pantyhose eggs. I'd fill them up with rocks and throw them at Freddie.  (hmmmm, guess that officially made me Freddie's frenemy! --lol!!)  So the deli was like the one where Alice's boyfriend, Sam, worked on the show "The Brady Bunch."  The butcher kinda looked like Sam actually.  (yes, I really do remember)  I also remember this gynormous steel meat slicing machine and I would stand there absolutely mesmerized as the ham came out looking nothing like it did going in.

And, oh the taste.  I can still taste it - just like I can still taste the cheeseburgers I used to eat at "Cafe Americana" in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil.  I haven't tasted ham like that since (like I haven't tasted a cheeseburger like the ones in Brazil since) and I doubt I ever will.  I assure you I have since eaten beyond my fair share of sliced ham.  So my Mom would get her mound of chipped ham wrapped in white butcher paper and I'd skip out of the butcher shop with her because I knew I was having a slap-yo-mama good ham sandwich for lunch that day!  My first food friend was a chipped ham sandwich on white bread with mustard only.  And that's still how I eat a ham sandwich today.  Ham, white bread and mustard.  Ham can be my friend.  Ham can be my frenemy.  If I eat too much ham my already pronounced cheeks begin to resemble cantaloupes (versus the normal "apple" state) due to the sodium in the sliced ham.

My second friend I can remember is Cricket.  Cricket and I lived in Suriname, South America - both of our fathers worked for ALCOA.  We attended a private American school that was strictly for the children of American ALCOA families.  Lisa & Cricket got in A LOT of trouble together.  (do you see a troublesome recurring behavioral pattern here?)  We were best friends.  We were the bestest of best friends.  We played Barbie's together - and she "permanently borrowed" some of my Barbie outfits.  We spent the night at each other's houses all the time.  We got tapeworms at the same time and thought it made us blood sisters.  We ate lunch together at school every day - I would share mine with her but she wouldn't share hers with me.  We went to each other's birthday mine she would always say, when I opened gifts, "Oh, I already have that."  Okay, so wait - was Cricket my friend of frenemy?  I guess she was both.

My second food friend I can remember is pizza.  I know what you're thinking ...everyone loves pizza Lisa.  Okay, but this was no ordinary pizza.  This pizza was in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil.  This pizza did not come from a restaurant.  This pizza was not delivered in a car with a neon PIZZA sign on its roof.  This pizza came frozen.  This pizza was my lunch every day -and I do mean every day.  I, like in Suriname, attended a private American school that was strictly for the children of American ALCOA families.  This school (where the horrible Mr. Dillard was my teacher) was about seven blocks from my house.  I'd walk to school every day.  I'd walk home for lunch every day.  I'd walk back to school after lunch every day. I'd walk home from school every day.  Actually, I take that back - I pretty much r-a-n home for lunch every day!  I knew my pizza was waiting.  Our maid, Luisa, would have it sitting on the table for me at 11:40 like clockwork.  It was a beautiful thing.  The crust was pale. The crust was crunchy where it should be and soft where it should be.  My pizza had pepperoni on it.  My pizza had this sauce that was spicy but not too spicy.  Then there was my pizza cheese.  My pizza cheese was oh so ooegy gooey.  It was kinda stringy when you ate it.  This was the best pizza I had ever had - and still is to this day.  And trust me, I've had a love affair with pizza all my life.  The pizza in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil however is my first true pizza love.  Pizza can be my friend.  If I eat too much pizza, sadly it becomes my frenemy.  As in I can't button my favorite pair of  perfectly worn, super buttery soft, super faded button front Levi's.

Present date, I have a lot of good friends.  I definitely think I have had some frenemies.  I have tried very hard to remove these people from my life as I've gotten older because, honestly, what's the point?  I feel like life is just simply too short for all this frenemy business.  It's just too short.  I'm thankful for the friends I have and consider myself fortunate to be a part of each of their lives.

Present date, there's a lot of good food in my life! There's homemade salsa.  There's a Smart Chicken wild rice casserole.  There's Porterhouse steak.  There's grilled chicken salads.  There's homemade hummus.  There's sushi.  There's shrimp.  There's veggie lasagna.  There's crispy turkey bacon. There's homemade alfredo sauce.  There's organic spinach pasta.  There's capers.  There's cucumbers.  There's vine ripened tomatoes.  There's lobster.  There's asparagus.  There's oysters. There's homemade garlic bread. There's smoked turkey.  Well, you get the picture!  There's a lot of good food in my life!

So how about a good food?!?   Below is the recipe for my homemade salsa.  I can already taste it!   Grab some chips and get 'ta dippin!   Sadly, salsa can be my friend one day and my frenemy the next!  (depends if I remember to take my Prilosec that morning)


1 large can of whole organic tomatoes (juice included)
3 vine ripened tomatoes
1/2 of a purple onion - chopped
1large  handful of cilantro - torn
1 very small handful of parsley - torn
3 whole fresh garlic cloves
juice of one lime
3-4 tosses of salt (salt to taste)
6-7 turns of cracked pepper (pepper to taste)
2 heaping tbsp of chili powder  (more if you think it needs it)
1/2 of one fresh Habanero pepper (seeds out if you don't want the heat)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and hit "pulse" 4-5 times.  The number of times you blend depends on the consistency you desire.  Chris and I like it kinda chunky.  This is also beyond delicious over grilled chicken or fish and on tacos - heck, it's beyond delicious on everything!!

Always "Push The Parsley!"
~ A Girl Cook

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bad Food's Like Being In "Time-Out" - It's Just Not Good!

Growing up, it's very fair to say I was not a "good child."  I don't think it was intentional on my part. I think it was simply out of my hands.  Present date, my Dad says, "Lisa, your head is as hard as a walnut."  Present date, my husband Chris says, "Lisa, your head is as hard as a walnut."  Yes, Chris picked that up from my Dad but I assure you - he agrees with my Dad ...500%!  (lol)

So when you're not a "good child", you spend a lot of time in time-out.  I know I did.  Being in time-out was not good. It's was just not good at all!  For me, it was primarily not good because I was simply bored.  I had a lot of energy as a child. I was up at six o'clock in the morning and still runnin' around like that Roadrunner cartoon at nine o'clock in the evening - much to my parents' dismay.  And no, this was not fueled by sugary soft drinks - my beverage intake consisted of water, milk and homemade vegetable juices.  My Pappy had this vegetable juicer that was the size of a small child and ate 2-3 bunches of carrots in 30 seconds.  I was scared of that vegetable juicer - very, very scared.

My first memory of time-out was in Iowa. Mrs. Baker was my teacher and she did not like me.  Seriously, the woman did not like me.  I think she was jealous of my always perfectly shined shoes or perhaps the huge, colorful gumball-like pigtail holders I proudly sported every day.  Or maybe it was my too-cute outfits my Mother consistently dressed me in ...which I detested because I wanted to wear pants and a t-shirt like a boy so I could play with all the other boys at recess.  Regardless, I spent a lot of time-out in Mrs. Baker's class.  It was not good.  It was just not good!

My first memory of bad food would be Sloppy Joes my Mother made when we lived in Pennsylvania.  I don't know what happened that day she was cooking.  I don't know how it's possible to screw up meat and tomato sauce but let me assure you - she did it!   The sandwich that was put in front of me was, after my first bite, so bad and scary it was the equivalent of being afraid of heights and being taken to the high diving board and instructed to "dive."  Seriously, it was bad. It was scary. I don't know what happened.  Maybe it was too spicy (my Mother loved her some spicy food) or maybe the bread was stale or maybe the meat was rancid (the latter I seriously doubt).  I just don't know.  Oh, and I was sent to time-out because I absolutely r-e-f-u-s-e-d to eat that sandwich.  Fast forward a couple years ....there was a restaurant in Iowa that served Sloppy Joes and I loved, loved, loved them!   My mother's Sloppy Joes were simply a big FAIL!  It was not good.  It was just not good!

My second memory of time out was in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil.  My teacher was Mr. Dillard.  He had this moustache that appeared to be on steroids.  This thing was so big it took over half his face.  It was all you could look at when you saw him.  Then there were his pants.  He wore those stretch knit leisure pants that, unfortunately, were popular in the 70's and he wore them 3 sizes too small.  Mr. Dillard was not a small man. Mr. Dillard was not an Adonis.  It was very, very clear via Mr. Dillard's stretch knit leisure pants that (a) he wore tighty-whities as his male undergarment, (b) he had man cellulite on his bottom and (c) it was very possible he was the first man on Earth that could be "with child."   Due to all of Mr. Dillard's "attributes", it was very hard for me to focus in class and not make fun of him with the other kids.  I'll never understand why it was always ME that got "caught."  It was always ME that was singled out ....out of all the kids laughing.  I spent a lot of time in time-out.  Well, perhaps it had something to do with me asking him one day in class if he was wearing his wife's pants.  I'm quite certain it didn't help my cause.  To ensure you have the proper visual....Mrs. Dillard was about 5'2" and weighed about 100lbs.  Mr. Dillard was about 6'2" and weighed about 300lbs.  Mr. Dillard always made me wear one of those pointy hats made out of neon orange poster paper when he sent me to the corner for time-out.  I felt like I was auditioning for a spot in the Ringling Brothers And Barnum & Bailey traveling circus. It was not good.  It was just not good!

My second memory of bad food was this casserole my Mother made.  She loved to make it.  My Dad ate it. I don't think my Dad liked it much because he always seemed deflated when it was placed on the dinner table.  I think my Dad ate it for his own sanity - to tell my Mother her casserole was not good would be comparable to telling Mike Tyson Mike Tyson he was not a good boxer.  The end results would have been equally mind boggling.  Now I really don't know what was in this casserole.  It's like she just took whatever was in the pantry and tossed it into a casserole dish, poured water on it and baked it 'till it was lukewarm.  Some nights it would have a green tint.  Some nights it would have a brown tint.  Some nights it would have a grey tint.  The texture was comparable to biting into a banana that's way over-ripe.  It was not good.  It was just not good!

My last memory of time-out was in Mobile, Alabama.  If I wasn't in time-out I was in the Principal's office.  I'm going to sound a little paranoid when I teachers didn't like me.  (lol)  Honestly, they didn't.  It's okay - I didn't give them much reason to like me.  I was, hands down, the class clown.  I was always laughing.  I was always making people laugh.  I was always in time out.  I was always in the Principal's office.  By this age (6th - 9th grade) it wasn't as traumatic for me.  It was more embarrassing.  Mrs. Dorgan liked sending me to time out, and the Principal's office, the most.  Mrs. Dorgan was by no stretch an attractive woman.  Mrs. Dorgan, and I'm strictly going by the odor she exuded here, was not a follower of woman's deodorant.  On a hot Summer day, standing next to Mrs. Dorgan was absolutely, hands down, not where you wanted to be.  Mrs. Dorgan also wore these pantyhose that swish-swooshed when she walked.  Now, I don't mean like a pseudo quiet swish-swoosh.  I mean, it sounded like you were taking a cheese grater and attempting to grate the screen on your back porch door.  It was something I, apparently, found hysterical.  Once I got to laughing in Mrs. Dorgan's class, I just couldn't stop. Well, I stopped laughing once I was sitting in time-out.  I also stopped laughing when I was making the oh-so-familiar trek to the Principal's office because I knew when I got Home I was in big time trouble.  The kind of trouble Sylvester would have been in if he'd been able to catch Tweety and enjoy as his afternoon snack.   Big trouble. It was not good.  It was just not good!

My last memory of bad food would be my own creation last month.  I decided we were going to have Beef Stroganoff for dinner. I decided I was making my own sauce (why, but of course!).  I'm not a sauce out of a packet kinda gal.  No way.  No how.  It just doesn't happen. So I start digging through all my cookbooks looking for that perfect Beef Stroganoff sauce.  I searched and searched and searched.  Chris walked in the kitchen at one point, I looked up - like a wild deer, and Chris promptly turned around and walked out of the kitchen.  He was aware it was not really "safe" in the kitchen.  So finally I found the recipe.  This was the one.  It was perfect.  All the ingredients spoke to me.  So I started mixing and dicing and simmering.  Chris walked back in the kitchen and said, "It smells good!"  I was encouraged.  This was goin' to be a rockin' Beef Stroganoff!  The extra wide egg noddles were cooked to perfection and tossed with extra light virgin olive oil & dusted with fresh cracked pepper & a tiny amount of sea salt.  The sauce was bubbling.  The aroma was fabulous. And then it all went wrong.  I decided to put French's mustard in my sauce.  Why?  I have no idea.  But I did it.  I not only put French's mustard in my sauce, I put quite a bit of French's mustard in my sauce - and I didn't taste the sauce after I added the French's mustard. I have no idea what came over me.  The only explanation I can come up with is that an alien virus from "The X Files" got into my bloodstream somehow and altered my ability to think clearly.  So I plated the dinner up - I proudly put our dinner on the table.  I waited for Chris to try his before I tried mine.  I watched him put the forkful of Beef Stroganoff in his mouth.....and I watched him promptly spit it out.  It wasn't what I would call a pleasant moment at the dinner table that evening.  I tasted it.  I promptly removed it from my mouth.  It was horrible.  It was beyond horrible.  I think a piece of liver dressed with a dirty ashtray and a large dollop of rancid mayonnaise would have tasted better.  It was not good.  It was just not good!

So how about a good Beef Stroganoff sauce recipe?!?  One that will make your stomach sing!  No worries - I've made the recipe below...several times!  It's good.  It's just really good!

2 good shakes of Canola oil
2 tosses of salt (salt to taste)
5-6 handfuls of oyster mushrooms (chopped)
4-5 grinds of cracked pepper (pepper to taste)
1/4 stick of unsalted butter
small handful of fresh parsley - chopped
handful of yellow onion - chopped
2-3 pours of dry white wine
2-3 squirts of catsup
1/2 of a small container of sour cream (do not use light or fat free)
3 cups of beef broth
small spoon of Dijon mustard

Place all ingredients in a pot (except the sour cream and beef broth) and bring to a simmer - about 3 minutes.  Add the beef broth and bring to a boil - reduce the heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes -stirring often.  Add the sour cream and stir until the sour cream is evenly blended in the sauce.  You can add more salt and pepper at this point if you need too.  Serve over extra wide egg noodles mixed with about 2lbs. of sliced cube steak (cooked, of course) and ..."Enjoy!"
P.S.  I've also made this with sliced chicken!  It's just as good!

Always "Push The Parsley!"
~ A Girl Cook

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

You Have $300 - Would You Buy A Burberry Cashmere Scarf Or Make A Rockin' Dinner?

Burberry.  Burberry is the beyond fabulous British luxury fashion house whose distinct tartan pattern has become one of its most widely copied trademarks. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.  The FTSE 100 is a share index of the 100 most highly capitalised UK companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.  When 21 year old Thomas Burberry, a former draper's apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England in 1856 I'm sure he wasn't imagining that his tartan plaid scarf would, hands down, become one of the most desired scarfs.  Personally, I just can't thank you enough Mr. Thomas Burberry!!  Oh, and when I sell the first OkraLogic . A Girl Cook book I buying the white Burberry trench coat with black quilted leather sleeves.  I mean, are you KIDDING me?!?  It is so beyond cool it leaves me speechless!

Now let's discuss what constitutes a "rockin' dinner!"  What would your $300 rockin' dinner involve?  Would it involve chicken?  Would it involve caviar?  Would it involve lobster?  Would it involve Porterhouse steak?  Would it involve fresh, out of  the water Alaska salmon?  Would it involve tomatoes?  Would it involve potatoes?  Would it involve onions?  Would it involve Funyuns, that oh-so-delicious onion flavored corn snack?  What it involve asparagus?  Would it involve pineapple?  Would it involve Feta cheese?  Would it involve blue cheese?  Would it involve scallions?   I mean, there are just endless possibilities of what constitutes a rockin' dinner!

So what to do, what to do.  What would you do with your $300.00?  Would you buy the fabulous Burberry scarf of would you make a rockin' dinner?  Hmmmm, what would you do?  I  know what I would do but you'll have to read to the end to find out!  (smile)

This would be my $300 rockin' dinner:

To StArT...Soft Butter Lettuce Blended With Crisp Hearts Of Romaine & Topped With English Cucumber, Vine Ripened Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Purple Onion, Finely Diced Fresh Garlic, Fresh Lemon Juice, Extra Light Virgin Olive Oil, Red Garlic Wine Vinegar, Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper.
(My love of salad came from my Pappy's love of salad bars.  I wanted to do everything Pappy did and if Pappy grazed the salad bar, then I would graze the salad bar too! Present day, I r-u-n from a salad bar when I see one because all I can think about are all the people who have sneezed or coughed over everything as they're making their salads and wiping their noses with the back of their hand before they put the dressing ladle back in the dressing bucket.  It's just too scary for me.  It's scary like "The Shining" scary - minus Jack Nicholson of course. I love Jack. Jack is not scary.  Salad bars are scary. I do love salad though!)

ThE mAiN eVeNt...2" Fresh Butcher Cut Porterhouse Steak Grilled By Chris To Medium Rare Perfection On The Big Green Egg.  This Beautiful Porterhouse Steak Would Marinate All Day In My Simple But Not Simple Tasting Homemade Marinade
(My love of steak ...I don't really know where this came - I don't have memories of Dad standing over a grill flipping sides of beef on Summer evenings.  I do however remember ordering steak at restaurants when I was a child and instructing the server to serve it medium rare ....and to please bring me another Shirley Temple ...with extra cherries.)  Yeah, I wasn't your "average" child.

HERE is the recipe for my simple not but simple tasting homemade marinade:
1 can of beer (flavor of your choice), 1 diced fresh garlic clove, 3-4 tosses of sea salt, 4-5 turns of cracked pepper, 1 toss of crushed red pepper flakes, 2 shakes of Tabasco.  Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds.

AcCoMpAnYiNg...This Divine Steak Would Be A Steamed 6oz. Main Lobster That I Would Endlessly Dip In Sinfully Good Drawn Butter.  I don't have a recipe for the lobster - I just steam it!  Also, drawn butter is...well, it's just drawn butter! (lol)
(My love of lobster came from all the dinners I had at the "Red Lobster" with Pappy when I was a child.  there was nothing I would get more excited about than Pappy saying, "We're going to "Red Lobster" tonight Lee-See.  Sadly, the last time I went to the "Red Lobster" would be the evening Pappy, his second wife and myself were sitting in my favorite booth and I reached across the table ...reaching and talking at the same time...and asked his second wife with the puffy fire engine red hair, "Do you wear a wig?" ....and pulled her puffy fire engine red wig right off her head. wasn't one of my best behaviors.  I was not taken to the "Red Lobster" again.   My Mother remarried and we moved to Suriname, South America about a year later so the fact I could no longer see the "Red Lobster" on the way to the grocery store with my Mother really helped the separation anxiety I was having.

HaNgIn' OuT...With The Divine Steak & Steamed 6oz. Main Lobster Would Be Asparagus Grilled By Chris On The Big Green Egg.  Ahhhh, Asparagus...I Love It So!  Now I Actually Marinate My Asparagus - Do You?  Hmmm?  Do You?  The Asparagus Goes Into A Large Ziploc Bag Along With The Marinade - I Shake It Several Times To Ensure The Marinade Touches Every Piece of Gorgeous Asparagus & Then I Toss It Into The Refrigerator Until It's Time For Chris To Grill!
(My love of asparagus - well, that came from Pappy too!  Pappy was a Farmer's Market lover.  He loved fresh fruit.  He loved fresh vegetables. He loved it all.  It was a really big treat for me to go to the Farmer's Market with Pappy. I thought it was so beyond cool that there were buckets and buckets of fresh fruit and vegetables that you could personally pick - it was like picking from your own tree or digging in your own yard.  It was just super cool and I loved it all - especially the asparagus!)

HERE is the recipe for my asparagus marinade:
Balsamic Vinegar, Diced Fresh Parsley, Minced Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper & The Juice Of One Lemon.

HaNgIn' OuT...With The Divine Steak & Steamed 6oz. Main Lobster & Grilled Asparagus Would Be My Feta Mashed Potatoes?  I oh so do love me some Feta cheese!  I Could Actually Knock Out A Block Of Feta Cheese With A Fork In About 5 Minutes - 5 Minutes F-l-a-t That Is!
(My love of mashed potatoes guessed it!  It came from Pappy!  When I didn't order lobster at "The Red Lobster", I ordered steak.  And what do you think I ordered with the steak?  Mashed potatoes with gravy!  I would make a well with my spoon in the middle of the mashed potatoes (like all kids do, right?) and then pour my gravy into the well and eat around the gravy - small bite by small bite - because I didn't want to the gravy well to break. I didn't want runny gravy mashed potatoes.  I would become very, very upset if my gravy "well" broke and my mashed potatoes with gravy turned into runny gravy mashed potatoes.Yeah, I wasn't your "average" child.  I became a lover of Feta mashed potatoes about 4 years ago when Chris introduced them to me.  They're simply slap-yo-mamma good ya'll!

HERE is the recipe for my Feta Mashed Potatoes:
Boil 8 chopped (skin on potatoes).  Drain and return to the pot - which should be on low heat.  Add 1/2 block of cream cheese (you can substitute light or fat free for the real deal), 2 pours of heavy cream, 1/4 stick of butter (salted or unsalted - do not use margarine), 1 block of crumbled Feta cheese, 1/2 small handful of chopped parlsey, 1/2 a bunch of diced scallions, 1 minced fresh garlic clove, 3-4 tosses of sea salt & 5-6 grinds of fresh cracked pepper.  Stir the ingredients until they are blended evenly.

ThE gRaNd FiNaLe... of this rockin' dinner is dessert.  There are so many desserts. There's cheesecake.  There's ice cream.  There's fresh fruit.  There's pie.  There's mousse.  There's bread pudding.  There's cookies.  There's brownies.  There's brownies with ice cream.. There's milkshakes. There's poached pears.  There's sorbet.    What's your favorite dessert? What would your personal grand finale be for your rockin' dinner?  Hmmm?  What would it be?

What's that you ask?  What's Lisa's personal grand finale of her rockin' dinner?  Well, I'm not a sweets gal.  I can very sweet but I'm not a sweets gal.  So, the grand finale of my rockin' dinner would be ....a take away box of the same exact meal so that the next day I could eat my rockin' dinner all over again!!

Oh, and I'd absolutely make my rockin' meal wearing my rockin' scarf!  ....look at my picture at the top of this page ....(wink, wink)

Always "Push The Parsley!"
~  A Girl Cook

Monday, January 24, 2011

Food - It's Like Family ...The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Some things have happened in my life lately that have brought the word "family" front and center.  So I've been thinking about the commonalities food and family share.  I think there's so many.  There's definitely "the good", "the bad" and the plain 'ole just "ugly!"

Have you ever gone to the Food Network website and in the search bar entered the word "family?"  I'm sure you're all thinking....Um, no Lisa, I sure haven't!  (lol)  Well, go do it!   It's kah-ray-zee!  There's four hundred twenty eight plus pages of recipes.  I kid you not.  Did you get that?  Four hundred twenty eight plus pages of recipes when you enter the word "family" in the Food Network search bar.

So let's start with "the good."

Well, hot dogs are good.  My trips to Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with my Pappy (where I ate I think hundreds of hot dogs with mustard only over the years) were good.   The times I had to stand in front of the wooden "character" to see if I was tall enough to get on The Jack Rabbit roller coaster and was turned away Summer after Summer ....not so good.  Me coming home and telling my Mother that I was so upset because, once again, I couldn't ride The Jack Rabbit roller coaster and her saying, "Oh Lisa Margaret - that park will probably be closed before you're tall enough" ....not so good.  It was that Summer I began to seriously question my mother's communication skills.

Bananas are good. My memory of me falling off my tricycle in Pappy's driveway and him rushing out with a banana to "comfort me" is good because he was there to help me and to make everything okay.  It's also pretty funny - I can remember it like it was yesterday.  I mean, who gives a child a banana to make them stop crying?  A Popsicle I can see. A banana vs. a Popsicle? ...not so good.  It was okay though because Pappy could do no wrong in my eyes.

Limes are good.  Me picking limes off the tree in our backyard in Brazil when I was 9 and taking them into the kitchen where I proudly handed them over to our maid, Luisa, where she promptly cut them in half, dipped them in sugar, and gave them back to me to suck all the juices out of ....that was good.  Now, the ulcers my lime obsession gave me....not so good.  The trip to the Doctor I had to make with my Mother yelling at me all the way from our house to the Doctor's office about how my self induced lime mouth ulcers were going to make my tongue fall off as she weaved in and out of traffic like a blindfolded Mario Andretti, with hair resembling a prickly porcupine (because I woke her from a nap to tell her my mouth was bleeding) ...not so good.  Not so good at all.  Again, lack of communication skills comes to mind. The word crazy also comes to mind. These were lime induced mouth ulcers.  I had not given myself Lyme disease.

The English pea is bad.  It's mushy.  It smells.  The entire concept of the English pea is just b-a-d.  Me picking all the cherry tomatoes off the vines and eating them (and I do mean all of the cherry tomatoes) when we lived in Iowa and then telling my Dad the crows ate them as I showed him my palms and said, "See, no seeds on my hands Dad!" ...that was bad.  The spanking that followed directly after on my bare bottom with the wood paddle....that was bad.  The fact I had a very hard time sitting still in my hard wood chair at school the next day and being sent to the Principal's office because I finally told my teacher, "I won't sit down.  I'm going to have to stand." ...not so good.  Me coming home that day with a note from the Principal....not so good.  My parents making me eat tomatoes every night with dinner for what seemed like an eternity ...not so good.  I ate my Dad's tomatoes.  I did not eat Fred, the family fish.

Liver is bad.  I cannot eat what is an organ inside myself.  Yes, I know these are two totally different liver concepts but, really, it's just gross.  My memory of my parents telling me we were having Popeye's chicken for dinner one night when we lived in Mobile, Alabama (and boy oh boy was I excited!) and then they came home with coleslaw, biscuits, dirty rice and no chicken - just chicken livers...that was bad.  That was really bad.  It was like being a kid at Christmas and all of your presents were socks.  Really bad.  Seriously, isn't that comparable to cruel and unusual punishment?

Mushrooms are ugly.  They really are.  Go look at a mushroom.  Don't misunderstand - I love mushrooms.  I love all mushrooms.  I can eat mushrooms out of a jar with a fork as Chris stands there looking at me like I have 3 heads.  But, I'm sorry, they're just ugly.  And what about those fresh mushrooms the grocery store leaves out  way longer than is safe for human consumption and they've turned a shade of brown that would be suspect if it was on the bottom of your shoe?  Ugly.  Seriously ugly.   The memory of my Mom cooking all day for  a dinner party she was hosting when I was in high school - sauteed mushroom & tomato bruschetta, mushroom lasagna with her homemade fresh herb marinara & salad topped with oyster mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers - and then her discovering all 12 people hated mushrooms ....that was ugly.  Seriously ugly.  How do I remember this so vividly you may be asking yourself?  Well, I can assure you anyone that was within a 10 mile radius of our house at No. 11 Woodstock Court that night vividly remembers it.  It was ugly.  Seriously ugly.

So how about a good recipe!  How about something simplistically good.  Something fresh. Something crunchy.  Something slap-yo-mama good.  Below is my recipe for Jerusalem Salad! I love it! It's good!  It's really good!


1 English cucumber
3-4 vine ripened tomatoes (or Roma tomatoes or grape tomatoes)
1/2 purple onion (diced)
1 large handful of fresh parsley - chopped
3 garlic cloves - minced
3-4 tosses of salt (salt to taste)
10-12 turns of pepper (pepper to taste)
juice of 1 lemon

In a large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together.  Let the salad macerate for 30 minutes - you can pop it in the fridge or not - up to you.   I love this over couscous.  I love it on grilled chicken.  I love it plain.  I love it!  It's good!  It's really good!

Always "Push The Parsley!"
 ~ A Girl Cook

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Good Food Can Be Like A Good Man - Hard To Find!

Let's face it there's bad food.  There's okay food.  There's good food.  There's really good food.  And there is GREAT FOOD!

There's bad men, there's okay men.  There's good men. There's really good men. And there are GREAT MEN!  (just ask the gals from "Sex And The City")  ....especially Samantha!  (lol)

So what happens when they collide?  I mean, we've all been on dates with bad men and okay food, great men with bad food, okay men with GOOD FOOD ...well, you're pickin' up what I'm throwin' down! Well, what happens is, to quote Martha Stewart, not "a good thing."  However what IS good is GREAT FOOD!

So my first memory of BAD FOOD would be the English pea.  There's just no getting around it - it was bad and I don't ever want to eat one again. Like, not e-v-e-r!  How old was I you ask?  Seriously, I just don't remember - thankfully, I have blocked most of that horrific event out of my memory.  BLECH.

My first memory of OKAY FOOD was "the taco" that my Mother insisted we eat no less than 3x a week.  I think it had something to do with the fact I was 5 years old and I was just not "all so excited" about hot sauce - which my Mother highly encouraged me to use because, as she excitedly explained to me, "it just completes the taco Lisa."   I do, however, remember being EXTREMELY excited about the meat & cheese.  I liked the crispiness and crunchiness of the taco shell.  I liked the cheese (I think in another life I would be a block of NY super sharp cheddar cheese).  And I definitely liked the "meat" part of it - I mean, come on - what kid doesn't love hamburger meat?  Am I right or am I right?   I still love "the taco" - although present day, I must ingest a Prilosec on the morning of the day I plan to eat "the taco."  Oh, and I hot sauce on "the taco!" Thanks Mom for standing your ground with hot sauce - you'd be proud of me.

My first memory of GOOD FOOD was the poor lobster who gave its life for me at "Red Lobster" in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Man oh man - the taste!  The drawn butter!  The fact I could repeatedly dip my lobster in the drawn butter ....and not get in trouble!  The beautiful red shell the lobster was in!  I remember that I wanted to take the lobster shell home with me and put it in my sandbox in the backyard - right next to the bright, shiny plastic pails and shovels. I shared this idea with my Mother and Pappy and let's just say this ......ummmm, they were NOT impressed!  The lobster stayed in my stomach and the beautiful red lobster shell stayed at "Red Lobster."

My first memory of REALLY GOOD FOOD was a salad with blue cheese dressing at "Red Lobster" with Pappy. I loved my Pappy. No, I adored my Pappy.  He was the most loving, caring, gentle man.  He loved me unconditionally and I him.  There was nowhere I wanted to be more than with Pappy.  So, when we were at "Red Lobster" (and I was dressed in my favorite dress because I was on "a date" with my Pappy) and the waitress brought our salads ...with blue cheese dressing.....well, at that moment, it really didn't matter if I would like it or not because if Pappy was eating it and if Pappy liked it well, then, I ....loved it!   And....I loved it!  And I still love it present day!  Much to my husband Chris' dismay - he simply can't wrap his head around blue cheese.  And it okay - I love it enough for both of us.

My first memory of GREAT FOOD was in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil. The restaurant was "Cafe Americana."  The entree was a cheeseburger.  I was 9 years old.

Now, hang on - for those of you who are exhaling deeply with disappointment over "the cheeseburger."  This was NO ordinary cheeseburger!  The buns were gynormous and greasy and had this taste that I can still taste (no, I'm not kidding).  I can still SEE the buns.  I can still SMELL the buns.  Oh, and these buns were the size of hubcaps on a Greyhound Bus. Now in between the buns is where we "got down to serious business."  There was this cheese - I don't know what kind of cheese it was but it wasn't yellow and it wasn't white but it was the best cheese I had ever tasted in my life .....and by age 9, let me assure you, I had eaten plenty of cheese!   Present day - I am a cheese GIRL!  I do love my cheese! (my fave would be the feta cheese)

What the cheese rested on top of was this meat that was cooked to perfection and salty and peppery and so good you just couldn't eat it fast enough.  This meat had the kind of flavor that needed nothing else to accompany it.  This cheeseburger didn't need catsup.  This cheeseburger didn't need mayonnaise.  This cheeseburger didn't need mustard.  This cheeseburger didn't need tomato.  This cheeseburger didn't need lettuce.  This cheeseburger didn't need pickle.  This cheeseburger didn't need onion.  This magnificent, beautiful, glistening, tantalizing cheeseburger needed NOTHING but a bun, cheese and meat.  Period.  The End.

I think about "Cafe Americana" every time - and I do mean e-v-e-r-y time I eat a cheeseburger.  Now, don't get me wrong - I make a mean cheeseburger (like, with pointy teeth mean!) and I've had some good cheeseburgers but NOTHING has ever come close (never held a candle to) the cheeseburgers I ate at "Cafe Americana" in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil.  Nothing.  Nowhere.  No how.  It simply hasn't happened. Again, I was 9 years old.  (chuckle)

So now, to slam this Blog into sixth gear reverse for a moment - perhaps you're asking Lisa, what about the "Man" part of this Blog?   Ha, ha ha - such a beyond good try!  Sorry, I'm not goin' there!  Nope! Absolutely not!   Fahhhgetttabahhhttttitttt.  Other than to say I've had the bad and the okay and blah, blah - I've now got the GREAT  (actually, Chris is so beyond GREAT!) and this is ALL that matters! Oh, and Chris does make rockin', slap-yo-mamma good 1lb cheeseburgers on his Big Green Egg with homemade buns!!  We actually offer these cheeseburgers at our B&B.  Visit the right hand side of my Blog page and become a fan of our inn, MOUNT VICTORIA.  We want you to!  We really do!

My goal?  My goal is that one day Chris & I go back (btw...Chris doesn't have a Passport,'s an excellent goal) to Pocos de Caldas, Brazil and share a GREAT FOOD cheeseburger at "Cafe Americana."  Is it still there, you might be thinking?  I really don't know.  I did actually try and Google it some time back and came up empty. Surely, the Gods can't all be crazy.....right? Surely "Cafe Americana" is still serving GREAT FOOD!

Below is my recipe for cheeseburgers - get 'ta steppin' and fire your grill up!


2lbs ground beef (not the lean - you need good 'ole ground beef)
1/2 of a purple onion - diced
1 small handful of parsley - chopped
5-6 turns of fresh cracked pepper
3-4 tosses of salt
2-3 shakes of Tabasco
About 1 good pour of beer (any flavor)

In a large mixing bowl mix all ingredients with your hands until blended evenly.  Shape the patties to your size liking and make sure you press a "well" into the center of the patties so they don't resemble softballs as you grill.

I top mine with good 'ole American Cheese and dress it with mustard only.  DIG IN!

Always "Push The Parsley!"
~ A Girl Cook

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Is Coffee Food? I Say..."Heck, Yeah!"

1. Material, usually of plant or animal origin, that contains or consists of essential body nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals, and is ingested and assimilated by an organism to produce energy, stimulate growth, and maintain life.
2. A specified kind of nourishment: 
3. Nourishment eaten in solid form: 
4. Something that nourishes or sustains in a way suggestive of physical nourishment:

Is coffee food?  Hmmm, well I'm gonna go with no. 4 and say, "Heck yeah!  Coffee Is food!"

Now here's some interesting information.  Did you know?....Coffee was introduced in Brazil by Francisco de Mello Palheta in 1721 from Cayenne, French Guiana.  Today, Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer and is becoming a key player in the specialty coffee industry. Brazil is the world's largest coffee producer and produces approximately 25% of the world's supply of coffee.  There are several distinct coffee growing regions in Brazil, each large enough to be their own country and distinct enough to be considered so.  Isn't that amazing?!?  We're talking coffee regions large enough to be their own c-o-u-n-t-r-y!!

Keep reading! I used to live in Brazil! I'm here to tell ya there is NO picture that captures those beyond beautiful coffee fields as they appear "live and in person."  They are magnificently divine.

I was not your ordinary child.  At age five I cried and cried and cried and cried (well, you get the picture) until my Mother took me to have my long, beautiful hair cut into a style that was comparable to the Ken doll.  I apparently was not interested in looking like a girl. When we left I was so,so excited!  My Mom - not so much.  I think my haircut permanently scarred her. I mean, the woman took all my hair and carried it out in a plastic sandwich bag where it was immediately placed in a photo album when we got home. Really Mom?

I not only made mud pies - I ate some too.

I did not want a big, beautiful red Schwinn bicycle with a white basket and shiny horn (although I was given one) - no, I wanted a big girl's Big Wheel.  Yes, I know they did not, and do not make them but, no matter, I wanted one anyway.

I did play with Barbies but only when I was removing their heads and trying to fill them up, via their small neck hole, with water to see if they'd float in our swimming pool.  By the way, Barbie heads DO float.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I was not an ordinary child and I did not have a normal childhood.  Period.  It's just that simple!

I was born in, and lived in, Pennsylvania until I was five. My love affair with lobster began in Pennsylvania due to my extra special dinner dates at "The Red Lobster" with my Pappy.  I was also introduced to the taco by my mother - she had a favorite taco joint she visited at least 3x a week - I can still see that place in my head! Sliced ham sandwiches on white bread with mustard only also became a large part of my life as this was the lunch my Mom packed for me every day in my Scooby Doo lunch box. To this day, that is how I eat my ham sandwiches.  Ham, white bread, mustard. And boy oh boy, I still love Scooby Doo!

At age six we moved to Iowa for one year.  I learned to spell Mississippi (naturally) and fell in love with sloppy joes  and pancakes.  There was a local sloppy joe joint I got to go to if I was good (which wasn't often) and the pancakes lived at Sambo's.  I loved Sambos!  I had the Sambos t-shirt. I was a member of the Sambo's birthday club.  And boy oh boy did I love my Sambo's pancakes!! (with extra, extra syrup of course!)

At age seven my Dad, who was a CFO for ALCOA, was transferred to their overseas division and we moved to Suriname, South America.  In Suriname I fell in love with plantain chips and mangoes and Chinese food.  We had a mango tree in our backyard I climbed every day.  I pretty much lived on mangoes and plantain chips.  I was a skinny-as-a-rail tomboy and boy oh boy was I happy!

At age 8 we moved to Pocos de Caldas Brazil. I'm sure it's not hard for you imagine how my love of coffee began since I lived in Brazil!   My parents' best friends owned an ice cream company there and guess what their most popular flavor was?? ...and quickly became mine!!... You guessed it my friends!!  I drank coffee.  I ate coffee ice cream.  I made coffee milkshakes.  I made coffee fudge pops.  I put coffee ice cream on my cereal. (yes, really I did)   I didn't want a Coke or ice tea - I wanted iced coffee!  Did I mention I was eight years old?  Boy oh boy did I love my coffee!

So, of COURSE I think coffee is food!  Am I a coffee snob?  Well, let me put it to you this way ...I don't drink coffee from fast food restaurants.  We'll just leave it at that.  We grind organic beans for our guests at our Bed & Breakfast and that is what Chris and I drink as well.  Can I tell a difference in taste between our coffee and other coffee?  Absolutely!  Do these things make me a coffee snob?  Well, I guess so.  I guess it does.

Now before I get some haters, let me tell you this - I ..HAVE....tried the coffee at fast food restaurants.  I tried it.  I took one sip and threw it away.  So don't judge me too harshly - I was ready and willing to give it a whirl!

My Dad was transferred from the overseas division of ALCOA when I was in the 6th grade and we moved to Mobile, Alabama.  In Alabama I fell in love with oysters & Chuck E. Cheese's pizza.  On the weekends my best friend Lisa and I would walk from our houses to Chuck E. Cheese (about 2 miles away) and spend all night there playing games and, well, eating pizza!  Boy oh boy did I love their pizza!

We landed in Little Rock, Arkansas when I was in the 10th grade and I lived there until Chris I moved to our quaint town nestled in the Ozark mountains that is referred to as "Little Switzerland."  In Arkansas I fell in love with the good 'ole cheeseburger.  There was a locally owned joint, "Minute Man", that sadly is no longer there.  Boy oh boy did they know how to make a cheeseburger!  Meat, mustard, lettuce, crispy pickle slices & diced onion bay-bee!  In my opinion, this is the ONLY way to eat a cheeseburger bay-bee!

So back to the coffee.  Do you cook with coffee? Have you cooked with coffee? I do and I have! Below is my recipe for a slap-yo-mama good coffee sauce to slather on ribs or steaks or chicken - grill baby grill!  Don't forget to bring extra napkins to the table!!  I hope you like it!

Always "Push The Parsley!"
~ A Girl Cook


salt - 2 to 3 good sprinkles
fresh cracked pepper - 5-6 turns
extra light olive oil - 3-4 good shakes
dry white wine - 1 glass
a cup of coffee - extra strong
large yellow onion - diced
pineapple juice - 1 extra small can
orange juice - 1 small pour
garlic - 3 cloves - diced
parsley - 1 small handful - diced
Tabasco - 2-3 good shakes
oregano - 1 extra small handful - diced

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until mixed thoroughly.  The coffee sauce is now ready to slather on your favorite meat!  Enjoy!