Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bacon and Cheese Egg Salad Sandwiches

Since Easter was only three days ago, I am sure there are a lot of hard boiled eggs in fridges across the America waiting to be used.  Here is a great way to get them used up.  If you don't have any, well you will just have to make some.  This egg salad has shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon in it, making it way better than the boring old original!

Bacon and Cheese Egg Salad Sandwiches

6 Eggs cut into a small to medium dice
1/3 cup shredded cheddar
2-3 slices thick cut or 4-5 slices thin cut bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup mayo
1/8 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste (I didn't find that I needed any salt with the bacon and the cheddar, just a little pepper)
6 slices of your favorite sandwich bread, we use whole wheat, but I must say white would be really good here
Lettuce or greens and tomato for serving, if you wish

Mix all ingredients except bread and veggies in a medium bowl. Toast bread if you wish and build your sandwiches, topping with lettuce or greens and tomato if desired. 


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dutch Baby-Oven Pancake


When we were stationed overseas we lived only about an hour and a half from the Netherlands.  It is such a beautiful country with wonderful people...and they all speak English!  This recipe comes from the little pancake houses that are scattered throughout the Netherlands.  The pancakes in there are not quite like ours.  They are huge and are not necessarily for breakfast.  They can be eaten at lunch and dinner too, with savory ingredients.  You could do that with this recipe also if you wanted.  I usually top mine with powdered sugar and fresh berries, which cut the richness of the butter.  The powdered sugar makes it taste like a cross between a funnel cake and a crepe, now how could you go wrong with that?  You could also get fancy and top it with a fruit compote or just some syrup if you prefer.

This is one of our favorite things to have for our weekend breakfasts in our house.  So much easier to make than cooking a bunch of pancakes, even the ones out of the box!  It only has 5 ingredients and cooks in one pan or ovenproof dish.   


Dutch Baby

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425.  Put butter in a large ovenproof skillet or other large oven safe dish.  Place in oven to melt and for pan to get hot while you mix ingredients.  Whisk together the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl until mostly smooth.  Make sure butter is melted and pan is hot and remove from oven to pour in batter.  Return to oven to cook for about 10 more minutes or until pancake is puffed.  Dust with powdered sugar, or top with syrup or fruit compote, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tzatziki and Hummus Dips



Hummus and Tzatziki are two very versatile dips.  I often serve them when I am entertaining as an appetizer with pita chips and veggies or sometimes we eat them just as a healthy snack. Another wonderful way to enjoy tzatziki is is with grilled meat as a sauce or on a gyro, yum!


1 cup of  plain yogurt (I prefer the full fat variety of Fage brand yogurt for this, you can use what you like)
1/2 cup grated cucumber patted dry a bit with clean paper towel
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, about 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic minced and smashed into a paste using the salt and the back of a knife
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
1/4 tsp white or black pepper

Mix all ingredients together, taste to check for seasoning.  Best if chilled for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight to let flavors set.


2 16 oz cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp water (or slightly more if needed to blend hummus to smooth and creamy consistency, add only 1 tablespoon at a time)
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or 1 whole lemon
1 tablespoon tahini (ground sesame paste found in the ethnic section of most grocery stores)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt, less if using table salt
paprika and a drizzle of olive oil for serving, if desired

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until it reaches a smooth and cream consistency.  Garnish with paprika and more olive oil if desired.  May be made 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Belgian Cafe Salad with Fried Goat Cheese

Time to use up all those cans and jars of veggies in your pantry and fridge that you have been staring at, wondering why you bought them in the first place.  This is a salad where anything goes!  While living in Belgium we grew to love the salads that many of the little cafes sprinkled throughout the countryside would serve.  Belgians have a way of making the most delicious salads on the planet by adding so many yummy ingredients that you forget it's just a "salad". Belgians waste nothing and this is a great way to use up left overs of whatever you have, meat, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, hard boiled eggs, you name it!  The possibilities are endless.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy this salad is with fried goat cheese.  I make the salad and have it ready and then I bread and fry up some goat cheese and place it on top.  If you have never had goat cheese before, this is a delicious way to try it.  The crunchy outside of the fried goat cheese and warm creamy inside paired with the cool refreshing salad is such a good combination!  For the dressing it is a basic balsamic vinaigrette, very easy.  Serve it with some bakery fresh multi grain bread and you have a meal!


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey or 1/2 tsp sugar if you don't have honey
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (optional)

Whisk together in a small bowl or shake together in a jar with a lid.  You may not use all of this, unless you like a lot of dressing on your salad.  Store any extra in  the fridge for up to 2 weeks, tightly covered.


6 to 7 cups or so of fresh greens i.e. spinach, romaine, arugula, field greens--whatever
* You can use whatever add ins you like here is what I used
1 small can sweet summer corn
1 small red onion diced
1 large tomato
1 small can beets
1 small jar of artichoke hearts
1 small pack of raisins
In a large bowl place all of the above ingredients or whichever combination of ingredients you are using for your salad.  Make fried cheese, recipe below. Drizzle on as much dressing as you like right before adding fried cheese on top.

Fried Goat Cheese

1 small log of goat cheese cold, cut into 4 equal slices
1/2 cup panko or plain bread crumbs (panko is better if you have it-I had ran out so I did not have them)
1 egg slightly beaten in a small dish
sprinkle of salt and pepper
enough olive or canola oil to generously coat the bottom of a small to medium skillet

Sprinkle the salt and pepper into the panko and toss to distribute.  Dip each piece of cheese into the egg and then into the panko.  If the cheese is still pretty cold you can fry right away.  If not, chill for 5 minutes in the freezer.  These can be made a few hours ahead and chilled in the fridge until ready to use.  Put oil in skillet and heat on medium high for about 5 minutes until nearly smoking.  When pan is good and hot add in cheese disks and cook about 1 minute to 90 seconds per side, just until golden, remove to paper towel to drain.  Place on top of dressed salad and serve.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Snowy Day Pot Roast and Brownies!! Ultimate Comfort Food.

So yesterday was a snow day here in the DC area.  The hubby and I were as excited as school children!  Everyone, kids and adults alike, got a snow day.  You know what that means????  Time to cook some comfort food and pot roast and brownies definitely fit that bill.

We do not have pot roast often in our house, since my husband prefers foods that are not all cooked in one pot.  For this reason I make him pan roasted potatoes on the side, this way he has something that is not soft and slow cooked.  I personally like buttered noodles with mine...any excuse to eat pasta! 

Since all the stores in the area were closed, it is a very good thing that I happened to have a chuck roast in my fridge and I always have ingredients to make brownies or cookies in the house.  I don't generally buy cookies or goodies.  My deal with myself is, if I want them bad enough, I have to make them myself.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, that is never a problem.  If you too are in the mood for some simple soul warming comfort foods, look no further!


Chewy Brownies

1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (you could use regular if you wanted also)
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (again, you could use milk chocolate if you prefer)
1/2 cup butter (salted)
1 1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs at room temp (can be quickly done by putting in warm--not scalding hot water for a minute or 2)
1/2 cup of pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
13x9 inch pan
cooking spray

Melt butter and chocolate chips together in microwave by doing 30-45 second intervals until it is mostly melted, whisk to combine them.  Be careful not to keep them in the microwave too long; chocolate can seize up very easily.  Whisk sugar, eggs and vanilla into chocolate mixture, set aside.  In a separate medium bowl whisk together flour, salt and cocoa powder.  Slowly stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture until just combined.  Do not over mix or you will not end up with a chewy brownie.  Pour into a pregreased or sprayed 13x9 inch pan.  If desired add the chopped nuts on top.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until slightly puffed all over.  They will appear to look sort of spongy and cakey, but they will fall and become chewy as they cool--if you have not overcooked them!  Cool for at least 30 minutes.  YUM!!!

Pot Roast time....



 Nanna's Pot Roast

***Precursor:  This pot roast is more my ode to Nanna, than Nanna's actual recipe,  just putting that out their for my family who may read this and have comments.  Pot roast just reminds me of Nanna because she always made the best!  Unfortunately, I never asked her how she made hers before she passed away, but this is how I will imagine her to make it.  So please don't burst my bubble, ok? 

1 decent size chuck roast
1 large onion roughly diced or a few handfuls of pearl onions fresh or frozen if you have them
2 carrots large rough chop
2 celery stalks large rough chop
3 cloves garlic whole, just whacked with the back of a knife to peel off skin
3 thick cut or 6 thin cut strips of bacon
3/4 of a decent quality beer (why, because I drank the other 1/4)
1 cup beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
Generous sprinkle of kosher salt and ground black pepper for the roast, and more to taste
4 small sprigs of thyme (if you do not have fresh you can use 1/2 tsp of dried)

Season both sides of the roast liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, set aside.  In a large pot cook bacon just until it begins to crisp and fat is rendered, remove to a plate and set aside keeping pot on stove. Place roast in hot pot with rendered bacon fat and sear for about 2 minutes per side, until nicely browned.  Remove roast to plate with bacon, set aside.  Add the diced onion, carrot, celery and garlic into the hot pot and cook for about 3 minutes.  **Make sure not to allow the bottom of the pan to burn up, if this begins to happen, just pour the beer and liquids in early***  Pour in the beer, beef stock, tomato paste, and worcestershire, stir.  Nestle the roast down into pot with the stock and veggies and top with the thyme sprigs.  Bring to a boil then, cover and turn heat down to low to simmer. After about 2 hours of simmering, stir liquid and taste to check seasoning keeping in mind it will reduce a bit further and flavors will become a bit stronger, if needed salt and pepper to taste (maybe a 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).  Simmer an additional 1 to 2 hours (so a total of 3 to 4 hours simmer time) or until meat is very tender when pierced with a fork.  If it is not tender, it is not done.  Serve with mashed potatoes, buttered egg noodles or pan browns (this is my family's way of saying roasted potatoes). Quick pan brown recipe follows. 
Garlic Parmesan Pan Browns (only pictured on plate with next to carrots)

6 large yukon gold or red skinned potatoes medium diced
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic finely minced
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients together and dump out onto a cookie sheet.  Place in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked though.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sizzlin' Fajitas

Need I say more? Who doesn't love sizzling garlicky meat with melty cheese and sour cream on warm tortillas! I'm pretty sure these are my husband's favorite meal ever!  And thankfully, they are really fast and easy. You can use either chicken or steak and if you are feeling over the top, use them both!

Sizzlin' Fajitas!!

Meat Marinade

3 tbsp lime juice from about 2 limes

3 tbsp olive oil

3-4 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

4 large cloves garlic

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 tsp chili powder

3 tsp sea salt or kosher salt (used to crush garlic)

1/2 tsp sugar

Crush the garlic cloves completely in either a mortar and pestle or molcajete with the sea or kosher salt until it forms a paste. If you do not have one of the above specialty items...GO OUT AND BUY ONE-- they are flippin' awesome!!!...but in the mean time you can use a cutting board by mincing the garlic and then sprinkling it with 1 tsp of the salt and crushing it with the back of a large knife until it forms a paste. Once you have the garlic paste put it into a large 1 gallon zip top bag and add in the other marinade ingredients and mix it in the bag or a bowl would be fine also.


1 and 1/2 lbs (approx) of skirt or flank steak or chicken sliced across the grain into about 1/4 inch thick strips

3 teaspoons light olive or canola oil for cooking the veggies and meat

1 red or your favorite color bell pepper sliced into medium strips

1 large onion cut in half and then into medium size slices

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt

6-8 medium sized tortillas- we use whole wheat, but use whatever you like

Sour cream, cheddar or monetary jack cheese, and lime wedges for serving

Place the steak or chicken strips in the marinade bag, close the bag and massage to distribute the marinade onto all of the meat. Let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but up to overnight (take out 15 to 20 minutes prior to cooking to bring up temp). **If you do not have the time to marinate the meat for 2 or more hours, then just leave it out at room temperature, keeping the bag zipped tightly for about 20 to 30 minutes. Heat a large skillet to very high heat. Meanwhile, take your tortillas and place them in foil wrapping them up completely like a package. Place in a 300 degree oven to heat through while you cook the fajitas. When your skillet is very hot add in 1 tsp of the oil, it should smoke slightly. Add the onions, peppers, minced garlic and 3/4 tsp of salt. Saute for about 4 or 5 minutes until browned and just starting to get tender. Remove and set aside on a plate or in a dish.  Let the pan get screaming hot again.  Use another tsp of oil and add in half of your meat in a thin layer and ***do not move it for at least 1 minute maybe 2 *** (this will ensure that it browns nicely and all the water doesn't come streaming out of the meat). After the minute or 2 you can stir the meat around to brown all sides, takes about 2 or 3 more minutes (if using steak--take out right before it looks completely done so it does not get tough) place cooked meat on the plate with the vegetables. Use the last tsp of oil to cook the rest of the meat the same way as the first batch.  When meat is almost done, add back in the peppers, onions and the first batch of meat, stir to heat through for about 1 minute and take off the heat. Remove tortillas from the oven. Serve the skillet of fajitas with the warmed tortillas, cheese, sour cream and lime wedges. MMMM!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tilapia in Parchment

This is one of those simple, healthy meals you can make during the week that tastes great and is suuuuper quick and easy.  You will be so surprised at how good this tastes with very little effort.  The light butter and lemon make a delicious sauce for the fish.  To go along with it I just roasted some asparagus and some fingerling potatoes tossed in olive oil, sea salt and pepper, also very easy.  Just put the potatoes in about 10 minutes prior to the fish and the asparagus, since they take longer to cook.  The only other thing to mention about this recipe is the parchment paper.  If you don't have it in your house or have never used it, you can use tin foil, but it will not be quite as good.  Parchment can be found in most grocery stores near the foil and plastic wrap.  It may seem a little more expensive, but once you've tried it for baking, you will not mind the price.  I don't think anything in the world will stick to it, so it is amazing for making cookies, candies, cakes, etc.  Just line a cookie sheet with it and there is no clean up!  There is definitely more than one way to use parchment.


Tilapia in Parchment

2 decent sized tilapia fillets (recipe can very easily be doubled or tripled)
10 Cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
1/2 lemon sliced into 4 thin slices
1 tablespoon low fat butter cut into small pieces  (I like the 50% lower fat version)  or regular butter if you like
1 tablespoon  capers (optional--but worth it)
a few shakes of garlic powder
kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 good size pieces of parchment (enough to wrap fish in a package)
Cookie sheet
preheat oven to 400 degrees

Clean and pat dry fillets.  Place pieces of parchment side by side on cookie sheet.  Put fish down on parchment in the center (making sure there is plenty of parchment to fold up around fish to make package).  Generously salt and pepper each side, as well as sprinkle on a little garlic powder.  Scatter  butter and capers over the top.  Then, divide the tomatoes evenly between the fish and scatter over them.  Last, place the lemons on top, 2 per fish (see first picture above).  Pull parchment up on the long sides and fold down at least 3 times and then roll up and crunch the open sides upward (do not fold underneath or all the liquid will flow out of the parchment when it cooks) Bake in 400 degree  oven for 15 to 20 minutes depending on your oven.  Fish is done when it is moist and flaky.  Serve with roasted potatoes and veggies, some wheat pasta or quinoa.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentines Day

So Valentines day is around the corner.  We celebrated early this year in our house due to an upcoming business trip, which worked out ok, turns out, so I can share the menu with you. Just in the event that you left everything until the last minute and you need some ideas. :)  Even if you are spending Valentines solo, there is no reason why you can not treat yourself to a good meal. 

I kept the table pretty simple with a few candles and some dried pomegranates that I already had.  Then I made it special by placing a photo of my husband and I on our wedding day on the table, it looks really cute if you have a nice frame and it gives you something to laugh and reminisce about.  Decorate with what you have laying around, and use candles.  If you have nothing else a simple table cloth, a candle, and some low lights will give you the feel that you are in a cute little restaurant.  Make sure you set the table ahead of time, that way you are not scrambling at the last minute to get it done.

On the menu is baked shrimp scampi with warm crusty baguette and a salad, followed by homemade tiramisu and chocolates.  You could quite easily make some angel hair pasta to go with this as well, this recipe makes plenty of garlic butter sauce to pour over.  This shrimp scampi is the same way they serve it in all the restaurants in France and Belgium.  You will think you have died and gone to heaven.  Drop your diet for the night.  You can start again in the morning.  And I promise to post some light recipes soon!



1  8 oz package of mascarpone cheese
1/2 of an 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of whipping cream very cold (chill bowl and beaters or whisk in freezer for 15 minutes)
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of strong coffee, with 1 tablespoon sugar, cooled
6 oz of fresh lady fingers from bakery section of supermarket or the crunchy ones from the international section of your grocery store (either works)
1/8 cup of cocoa powder for dusting the top
heart or other cut out for stencil from scrap paper (if you wish)
medium sized trifle mold or medium glass pie dish

Beat cream in chilled bowl with chilled beaters or whisk until fluffy, do not over beat or you will make butter!  Set aside.  Beat egg yolks and sugar together until smooth, pale and ribbons form when beater or whisk is lifted from mixture.  Beat in cream cheese, mascarpone and vanilla.  Gently fold in whipping cream.  In the glass dish that you are making the tiramisu, place a single layer of lady fingers covering the entire bottom, then slowly pour the coffee over the fingers until soaked through.  You can tell they are soaked through when they just begin to slow at absorbing the coffee.  If there is any that does not absorb, tilt the dish and turn until it flows around and gets absorbed.  Then, layer half of the marscapone mixture over, covering the lady fingers completely.  Layer one more layer of lady fingers and pour more coffee over them, again slowly (you may not use all of the coffee).  Layer last layer of marscapone cream, cover and place in fridge for at least 3 hours, up to overnight (may be made the night before you plan to eat it).  Once the tiramisu has chilled thoroughly, remove plastic wrap and place stencil where you want it.  Dust on cocoa powder through fine mesh sieve or powdered sugar shaker.  Carefully remove stencil.  Serve.
Baked Shrimp Scampi

1 to 1 1/2 pounds of large shrimp, deveined
5 tablespoons of butter cut into pats
4 large or 8 small cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 lemon, 1/2 zested and then cut into wedges
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, optional
Baguette and/or  1/2 pound of cooked angel hair to serve
medium sized glass baking dish

Preheat oven to 550 degrees or as hot as yours will go, but not above 550.  Butterfly shrimp by slitting just enough so they will lay more flat in baking dish (see picture above).  In a medium sized baking dish place garlic on bottom.  Add shrimp with the cut side down so they lay semi flat.  Sprinkle over salt, pepper and lemon zest.  Place pats of butter on top. Place in oven for 10 minutes or until all shrimp are pink and butter is completely melted and bubbling.  Top with parsley, serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the top and crusty bread or angel hair and a simple green salad. Voila!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Decorating the New Living Room

We just I find myself decorating and rearranging everything all over....but honestly I really love it. Once the boxes are all unpacked and its just me with my things again and a blank canvas...its like magic.

This house has a little more space than the last and I have an extra room to decorate.  It's a dining room slash sitting room.  I have decided to really use the french countryside look, think Provencal, in this room.  I have always adored antiques and like to mix different textures and styles.  Even when I was just 21 starting out with my husband in our first little one bedroom apartment, I was decorating with Antiques.  My friends used to make fun of me back then.  Believe it or not my mother in law has a lot to do with my decorating style, yes I actually love my mother in law!  That woman's house is like a damn magazine cover for Country Living.  She has such a way with the placement of things, my husband would say "yeah, she has a way with placing things they fall whenever you walk by!"  None-the-less she is a great inspiration.

 So on to the dining room slash sitting room.  I got a great deal on a rug at Target, it was marked down by 50% just because it was a repackage (meaning someone took it home and didn't like it so they brought it back and the store had to repackage it).  I am not above buying something that has been repackaged, hell I am not above dumpster diving for decorating finds!  Stores typically do not put those "repackages" and deeply discounted items right next to their perfectly packaged originals, you can usually find them on the ends of the aisles.  Just keep your eyes peeled, you never know what you may find. 
The couch was a hand-me-down from a good friend that was just dressed up with a cheap throw blanket and some throw pillows from either TJ Max, Marshalls or Homegoods--don't really remember which place I got them at, but they all have a good selection.  The little old black and white picture was found at an antique store for like $10 and the larger more ornate one was actually a Hobby Lobby poster that I bought almost 10 years ago when my husband and I were first married, I could never afford to get it framed back then and then forgot about it until recently.  When i was putting this room together it popped into my mind and I knew it would be the perfect way to tie everything together, and it was.  Curtains and rods also Target--on sale.  Coffee table was a Hobby Lobby sale item, and the old candelabra is from a thrift shop in Belgium, but I have seen similar items at antique shops here also.  It is always good to be on the look out.  Yard sales, thrift shops, little antique shops (not the expensive ones--hate those!), estate sales etc.  These are all places to find eclectic items.   A little word on antique stores, the best ones are  those that you have to do a little digging in, that is where you find the best deals and the neatest stuff.   Don't be afraid to dust things off and get a little dirty, that is what they invented showers for! If I walk in to a store and it looks like a museum, the first thing I will do is pick up a small cheesy little item that I know should not be very expensive and do a price check.  If it is outrageous, that's my cue!  The best advice I can give you is if you like it do not be afraid of what any one else thinks.  I have had my husband and his friends and even mine for that matter laugh at many of the things I have decorate with, i.e. old doors, windows, old wire flower boxes indoors, things like that.  If you love it, then don't worry what anyone else thinks of it.  Someone will get it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Bowl Buffalo Wings and Garlic Beer Battered Mushrooms

With Super Bowl coming up this weekend, I thought why not post some recipes in keeping with that theme.  I know people are always scrambling to come up with ideas at the last minute when they are entertaining.

This year with the cost of chicken wings on the rise, it might pay to make them yourself, literally.  Wings are very easy to make and pretty inexpensive.  I actually use the frozen, precleaned and separated wings because I find them easier to deal with and just as tasty in this recipe, I have tried it with fresh also.    This recipe calls for 1/4 cup of hot sauce which is a mild medium heat, you can adjust more or less depending on your taste.

Then while you still have your oil hot and your beer in your hand, why not try some beer battered mushrooms with creamy garlic dipping sauce.  You can actually use this beer batter on anything, chicken, fish, other veggies--you name it .  This recipe is inspired by the best fried mushrooms I have ever put in my mouth.  We had them in Dingle, Ireland at a steak house and this is my attempt at recreating them.  By the way, not to go off on a separate tangent right now, but Dingle is one of the most beautiful, relaxing and most delicious places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.  But that story is for another time. Back to the food.  Just make sure that you make the sauce for the mushrooms ahead of time so that you are not making it after the mushrooms are done frying.  The mushrooms must be served right away, or the moisture in them will make the crisp outside get soggy.  Enjoy, and may your team win!

Buffalo Chicken Wings

 4 to 5 lbs of chicken wings (either frozen bag or fresh and trimmed and separated)
1 stick butter
1/4 cup give or take according to taste of Texas Pete hot sauce, not wing sauce
salt and pepper to taste ( I like kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper--use what you like)
oil for frying, such as peanut, canola, or vegetable
large pot for frying or deep fryer
cookie sheet
heat proof slotted spoon or spider to get hot chicken out of oil
frying/candy thermometer comes in handy

If using frozen wings defrost either in fridge overnight or by placing in a large bowl of cold water in kitchen sink for 30 minutes.  In the mean time heat about 2 to 3 inches of oil in your pot on medium high to high heat depending on your stove until it reaches about 390 degrees (temp will drop when wings are added).  Make sure the oil does not come even close to being half way up your pot, or it will definitely overflow when it bubbles up.  Extremely important so that you prevent yourself from starting a grease fire.  If using fresh wings, just make sure to separate drummets from wings and snip off tips.  Layer several layers of paper towels on a cookie sheet and spread wings out on paper towels, then dry off the tops with more paper towel.  Once wings are thoroughly dry (very important, so your oil does not splatter when you add them) generously salt and pepper wings on each side, since some of this will come off in the frying process.  Once oil has reached temp carefully add in about 8 to 10 wings at a time, depending on the size of your pot.   Do not overcrowd or the temperature will drop too much and wings will take forever to cook and will not get crisp.  Try to keep oil temp between 370 and 380.  You may want to get 2 pots going (especially if doubling recipe), or you could be there for a while.  Meanwhile in a small saucepan melt butter and hot sauce together, swirling as they melt together, set aside once combined.  When wings are browned and crisp, takes approx 10 minutes, remove and drain on paper towels.  Place drained wings in a large bowl while you fry the rest of the wings up.  Once they are all cooked and drained, pour sauce over wings and toss to coat in bowl.  Voila!  Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing, carrot sticks and celery!

Beer Battered Mushrooms with Garlic Sauce

1 large container of button mushrooms (the smaller the mushrooms the better), cleaned and dried completely
1/2 of a beer (whatever you are drinking, and if you do not drink, sub the same amount of club soda...taste will be slightly different)
3/4 cup flour all purpose or I prefer unbleached
1/2 tsp season salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic

Large pot
heat proof slotted spoon or spider for removing mushrooms from oil

Make sauce first, it is a must--sooo good! (recipe follows).  Heat oil to approximately 370.  Mix together all salts, spices and flour in a large bowl.  Whisk in beer until combined thoroughly.  Bubbles in batter will settle, this is normal.  Coat mushrooms in batter in batches and and carefully add to hot oil.  Fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until mushrooms are golden brown.  Serve immediately, as they get soggy after sitting for too long.

Garlic Dipping Sauce

2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp sugar

Crush garlic in either a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board by mincing and then sprinkling with the salt and mashing with the back of a large knife.  In a medium bowl add all ingredients including garlic and stir.  Set aside and make mushrooms.