Saturday, August 29, 2009

Heirloom Recipe???

It seems my future daughter-in-law just swoons when she has the spinach dip I make. Nothing special ... but she has to have the recipe, and in fact has asked the caterer to make it at their wedding! That being said, I thought I'd share with you.

Spinach Dip
1 10 oz pkg frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup mayo
1 cup sour cream
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 envelope Lipton or Mrs. Grass vegetable soup mix
Dillweed to taste, if desired
Mix together, refrigerate overnight. To serve: hollow out a sourdough or pumpernickle round of bread. Place dip in the middle of the bowl. Chunk and use bread removed from center to dip. Also good with fresh vegetables or with corn chips!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Grandma Bayly Sandwiches

Late summer tomatoes. From your very own garden. Planted by your own dear spouse. Handpicked by your very own hands. Is there anything better?

You want to do something very special with them. You want to showcase the freshness of these rare gems. What to do?

Well in our house there is absolutely no contest. We made Grandma Bayly sandwiches. Sheer bliss. A sandwich so pure and so good that it literally leaves you speechless.

My dad’s mother used to make these for him when he was little. I never met her. She died long before I was born. But I know what an amazing woman she was. I know stories upon stories about her. I know she taught my mother her love of cooking. And even though my mother died when I was a young girl, she taught me my love of cooking. Elaine knows of what I speak. Jenny knows of what I speak. A part of our heritage, these Grandma Bayly sandwiches.

So I didn’t even hesitate. I made salsa with the smaller tomatoes, but these beauties were reserved for the piece de résistance…Grandma Bayly sandwiches.

They are quite simple, really. And many of you may make them and call them something else. You’re allowed.

Take your bread; white is traditional, however some (i.e. Jenny) will blasphemy and use whole wheat. I let her get away with that little faux pas. Toast the bread and spread it with real mayonnaise. Place a thick slab of tomato on, and top it with another piece of mayonnaise toast. You may salt the tomato if you are so inclined. And that is it. A masterpiece!

Caution: The first bite will induce moans and swooning. You may want to sit down before engaging the sandwich.

Note: I am aware of the absence of photos of the finished product…Bob and I simply lacked the self control to wait long enough to take pictures. I make no apologies.

Because they truly are that good!

Just ask Elaine & Jenny.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes

The cupcake gods have smiled on me today. I was beginning to get worried. While last week’s cupcakes weren’t a total bust (like the week before) they still were not what I’d been hoping for. But this week’s cupcakes…oh my. Just what I was looking for.

These are more of an adult cupcake...I think.

First of all, let’s talk about matcha. From Wikipedia:

Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves also used to make gyokuro unlike other forms of powdered tea.
The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight. This slows down growth, turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids that make the resulting tea sweeter.

Only the finest tea buds are handpicked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying as usual, the result will be
gyokuro (jewel dew) tea. However, if the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha. Tencha can then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha. It can take up to one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha.
Note that only ground tencha qualifies as matcha, and other powdered teas are known as konacha ("powder tea").
The flavor of matcha is dominated by its amino acids. The highest grades of matcha have more intense sweetness and deeper flavor than the standard or coarser grades of tea harvested later in the year.

For me, what this tea is about is an earthiness. It has a quality that is difficult to explain, but I really like it. I am a big fan of green tea ice cream-just ask anyone at Eastern Palace! When it comes time for dessert, they ask everyone else at the table what they’re having and just bring my green tea ice cream! It’s pretty funny!

And I think it is something you really like or you don’t. For me it resonates. Then there is the color. Green desserts might be off-putting to some. For me, the color of food made with matcha is just downright cool. They look like something Elphaba would eat! "Wicked" fans know just what I’m talking about! (Read: Wicked Witch of the West…only the greatest role ever to come out of Hollywood!)

Now about this recipe…WOW. There is simply nothing to not like here, folks. The cake is light and moist and the prettiest green and just delicious. It has a hint of that wonderful earthiness I was talking about. I had to slap my own hands to make myself stop eating these before I could get them iced! And then when the icing was added on…HOLY SMOKE BATMAN!!!

I really hope you’ll give these a try. The matcha is pretty readily available because of its increased popularity, and it is becoming more mainstreamed in pastries here in the states. Take a walk on the wild side and bake something green! Actually, the kids might dig them afterall!!!

Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes
~makes 12 regular sized cupcake + 24 miniature cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
4 teaspoons matcha powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons matcha powder
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees F with convection). Place muffin liners in a mini muffin tin and a regular muffin tin.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together all purpose flour, cake flour, matcha powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla.

4. Alternating between dry mix and sour cream, stir into the wet mixture until just combined.

5. Fill mini muffin cups so that the tin looks about 2/3 full.

6. Bake mini muffins for 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and let it cool for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

7. While mini cupcakes bake, fill regular sized tin a little more than 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

8. To make frosting, sift together confectioner’s sugar and matcha powder. Set aside. Using a heavy duty mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium speed for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add sugar/matcha gradually. Once all of the sugar/matcha is mixed in, increase speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes more. Frost with piping bag.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lemon Lush

Here is a dessert that is just about perfect for a hot summer day…not that we’ve had too many of those this year. But I’m going to share it with you now because my prediction is that we are going to be slammed with the heat in September. You know the sunshine and hot, hot weather we should have been getting the last six weeks? Yep. That’s what I’m talking about.

I have had this recipe for so many years that it is ridiculous. I’m not even going to tell you how many ‘cause I just see no good sense in embarrassing myself. I do remember though, when I first got it. My sister Elaine and I thought it was the bomb. We could not get enough of it! Oh, we tried making it with chocolate pudding (yum) and butterscotch pudding (yum) and pistachio (not so yum for some reason). Remember those experiments, Elaine? :-)

But for a summertime cookout we kept on coming back to the lemon version. It is just so refreshing! And so simple! Definitely a “keeper” in our book.

Sure hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Lemon Lush
From my dear ex-mother-in-law,
Doie Jorgensen

½ cup butter
1 cup flour
½ cup chopped pecans, plus a little more for garnish

Press into 9x13 pan and bake at 350˚ 12-15 minutes. Cool

8 oz softened cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool Whip

Beat til fluffy and spread on crust.

2 small boxes lemon instant pudding
3 cups milk

Spread on top and add rest of Cool Whip. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Frosted Banana Bars

The frosted banana bars recipe is from a co worker of mine. She is worshiped when she brings these to work. I've made them for family and friends and they devour them. Enjoy!

Frosted Banana Bars

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 - 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups confectioners sugar

In Mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in bananas. Spread into a greased 15 inch x 10 inch x 1 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.


Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually add confectioners sugar to achieve desired frosting consistency. Frost bars. Store in refrigerator. makes 3-4 dozen bars

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cupcake Friday! Double Vanilla Cupcakes

It’s a late Cupcake Friday here at Dishing-It-Up! Columbus. Sorry guys. I was just too darn tired last night to even bake. That’s tired! At least for me it is. I love to bake.

So I had planned to make these cupcakes since I saw them last week on Simply Recipes blog. They just sounded divine. I’m a big fan of vanilla and these cupcakes really caught my eye.

These are really good cupcakes. The flavor is not as intense as I thought it was going to be. And I jacked up the vanilla quotient on the icing big time! I would certainly make them again. But darn! I was looking forward to a vanilla slap in the face.

Double Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

· 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
· 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
· 1 cup sugar
· 1 egg plus 2 egg whites
· 1/2 cup whole milk
· 1/4 cup sour cream
· 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
· 1/2 vanilla bean (or one whole bean if you can spare it)
· 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
· 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar
· 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While the oven preheats cut open and scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean. Place the seeds, empty bean, and the milk into a small saucepan. Heat to just under a simmer for a few minutes being careful not to scald the milk. Remove from heat and allow the milk to steep and cool. (Be sure to remove the bean after it cools. Wash it and then place it out to dry so it can be used again.)

2. Beat the butter for about 3 minutes on medium speed, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 30 seconds. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each.

3. In one bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another whisk together the vanilla steeped milk, vanilla extract, and sour cream.

4. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter sugar egg mixture in alternating additions (dry-wet-dry method), starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined being sure to not overbeat.

5. Divide the batter into cupcake papers in a muffin tin and bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Be sure to rotate the cupcakes after the first 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Be sure to keep a close eye as these can get overbaked quickly. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Frost when cooled.


Beat the butter and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if using) and beat in.

Makes about one dozen cupcakes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sweet and Sour Cherry Slab Pie

Most of you know that Jean got started in this whole blog thing by reading blogs written by others. One of her favorites is Smitten Kitchen (, who recently wrote a blog on sour cherry slab pie. Slab pies, BTW, are just pies baked in sheet pans or rimmed cookie sheets, so they are a little thinner than usual, with a higher crust-to-filling ratio (aahhh, always the engineer). They are great if you need to serve a bunch of people.

Anyway, ever since she read that blog entry, Jean has been craving one of those pies. So, as the family pie baker, it was a dead certainty that I was going to be baking one, the only question was when. So off I went to to see what this was all about.

Deb at the Smitten Kitchen writes a fantastic blog, beautifully laid out, with gorgeous, detailed photos. Her pictures are so amazing they are sometimes called foodporn -- I love it!

Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is a lot like the one I use for regular cherry pie, but I have to admit, I like the little refinements I make. So you can use the link above for Deb’s recipe, and I am going to give you my recipe as well, because that’s what I made. (The basic recipe for Bob’s Cherry Pie is also in Treasures from Heaven, the St. Luke Cookbook.)

I decided to make this pie in a quarter sheet pan, roughly 9” x 13” x about 1” deep. It was a hot, humid day, so I struggled a little with the crust. But by keeping the dough in the fridge and working quickly while I was rolling it out, I was able to get the crust organized.

I like to combine some dark, sweet cherries with the sour cherries for the filling, I think it adds depth to the flavor and it certainly adds beautiful color. I use a little less sugar in the filling than some other recipes do, to keep the balance of sweetness/tartness. The pie baked up beautifully, in a little less time than it would for a regular pie, and the filling was firm, so that when I cut the cooled pie in squares they were perfect for eating out of hand! Here is my recipe:

Sweet and Sour Cherry Slab Pie

One Crust (You’ll need 2 for the pie)

2 cups all purpose flour
3-1/2 Tbsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
9 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut in ½” cubes (9 Tbsp = 1-1/8 stick butter)
3 Tbsp chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut in ½” cubes
4-1/2 Tbsp ice water

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Add butter and shortening. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, add more water if needed. Gather dough into ball, flatten into a rough rectangle, wrap in plastic. Chill dough for at least 30 min, better overnight.

Sweet and Sour Cherry Filling

6 cups sour cherries, pitted and drained
2 cups dark sweet cherries, pitted and drained
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp lemon zest
¾ tsp almond extract


1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl gently combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest and almond extract, then set aside for 10 min.

Roll out one dough rectangle on a floured work surface, to about a 12” by 16” rectangle, transfer to a quarter sheet pan, I lined mine with parchment. Spoon the cherry filling into the bottom crust with a slotted spoon. You can add the juice from the mixture accordingly, depending on how juicy you want the filling to be. Set aside, and roll out the second rectangle of dough. Drape it over the filling, and trim the edges of the crusts, then pinch them together. Use a fork to perforate the top crust – it lets the steam out as the pie bakes.

Bake until the crust is golden and you can see the luscious dark juices bubble out when they thicken to just-right consistency, about 50 to 55 min. Let the pie cool on a rack for about an hour.

In a small bowl, stir the confectioner’s sugar, milk and lemon juice to make the glaze. I used a plastic squeeze bottle to drizzle the glaze over the cooled pie.

I cut the pie into 16 squares, and I dibbsed a corner piece for myself. After all, I put in all the work of making it! This is seriously good cherry pie, and since it has all that fruit in it, I have even had some for breakfast!

TasteCasting 08/12/2009 Mezzo Italian Kitchen & Wine

Bob and I have become members of the Columbus team for TasteCasting. How exciting!

No? You’ve never heard of TasteCasting? You’re kidding! Well let me help you out here!

From “TasteCasting combines socially networked people and the social media platforms and applications they use to help establishments build awareness, announce grand openings, introduce new menu items, distribute special offers and encourage people to visit the establishment.”

What happens is that a restaurant arranges to have a tasting and a specified number of tastecasters attend and then use Twitter, Facebook, u-tube, blogging, etc to let everyone they reach know about the experience. Social networking at its best!

Tonight was our first event. We joined other team members at Mezzo Italian Kitchen at Creekside in Gahanna. We were so excited because even though we live in Gahanna, we have yet to go to Mezzo. We keep talking about it but just have never gotten around to it. So we were totally jazzed about this!

We were led to an area where there were three booths reserved for the TasteCasting team. We met our fellow team members and talked with Dan Harris, who is the brains behind the TasteCasting “revolation”. This is all his idea, and it has spread like wildfire! There are now TasteCasting teams in 18 cities! Amazing how this is growing.

First let me talk about Mezzo. They have two outdoor patios. The smaller area is kind of a bar/small bites setting. There are bistro tables and you can order drinks and maybe pizza or appetizers. The other patio is larger, seating up to 72. There is a lovely fireplace and seating where you can relax with drinks and a bite to eat, or you can sit and have a full meal. It is absolutely lovely at this time of year.

So back inside we all grabbed our seats. Jon Cohen (General Manager) greeted us and offered us a glass of wine. He offered “Trivento Torrontes”, an Argentine white that is light with a lot of citrus flavor. The red he offered was Cosentino’s “The Cab”. It was a smokey, medium bodied delicious wine. I am not a huge fan of red wines, but surprisingly I liked this one quite a bit. Both paired beautifully with our food.

And the food! O.M.G. Can I just tell you that the entire tasting menu rocked? It did! Not a bad dish among them. I really was a happy girl!

We began with the Pizzetta Flatbread. The flatbread is made on lavash; a thin, crackerlike bread. It had a roasted garlic and mascarpone spread, with slices of rosemary chicken, cherry tomatoes, and caramelized onions topped with mozzarella cheese. It was delicious! The caramelized onions were done just right and the roasted garlic mascarpone spread was out of this world!

Next up was the Arancini…"I’m a not a kiddin’ ya, my knees were weak!!!" I am a complete and total fool for arancini. Oh lord, if they are made correctly these can simply make a grown woman whimper. And whimper I did. I am so not going to tell you how many I ate because there is no reason any of you need to know my business…okay? Just let it go at the fact that I out-ate anyone at our table when it came to the arancini. Arancini are balls of risotto that have a cube of mozzarella tucked inside and are generally rolled in panko and then fried and served with pomodoro sauce. (Pomodoro sauce is like marinara but is thicker and smoother.) There was absolutely nothing to not like about this dish!!!

We then moved into the entrées. First out was the lasagna. What a beautiful plate! A generous serving of homemade noodles with Bolognese sauce, seasoned ricotta cheese and marinara sauce. The plate was finished with a swirl of balsamic glaze. Boy did this add interest! It turned a very good slice of lasagna into something quite spectacular! I just about licked the plate. And Jon poured the red cab with this dish and what a match made in heaven! This was just too good! Well, okay. Maybe not too good that I didn’t manage to finish every single last bite and drop of sauce. He also brought us a basket of rolls and flatbread that were just delicious. The flatbread was so good…and then add the butter which had bits of caramelized onions in it and you were on a whole different level. Wow!

But wait! There’s more! (Okay, I know. Bad impression. But I just couldn’t help myself!) The second dish was the most popular entrée the restaurant serves. Pan seared sea scallops with sweet corn and bacon risotto with sautéed vegetables and champagne vinaigrette. Sweet baby Jesus. I cannot even do justice to this dish. To say that the scallops were perfection and the risotto was to-die-for and the vegetables were really, really good (see, I’m not much of a vegetable gal) would be one of the biggest understatements I think I’ve made all year. This dish, simply put…ROCKED! Had we not all been riding the edge of a food coma at this point I think we would have made a spectacle of ourselves. Every single one of us at the table was in awe.

Then, and you are not even going to believe I am saying this, they brought us dessert. Oh yeah. Sheer decadence. Out came a piece of cheesecake with fresh strawberries on top, a piece of tiramisu with chocolate shavings and mascarpone stars, a citrus panacotta with candied orange peel, and a rum chocolate mousse martini. Absolutely crazy. But darned if the four of us didn’t divide each and every one and eat each and every bite. Yes, they were that good.

Our first time at Mezzo will most definitely not be our last. In fact, I think one of those tables right by that fireplace on the patio on a cool end-of-summer evening have our name written all over it!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Thursday night I was a lucky girl! My dear friend Dianne (our pastry chef!) asked me to be her “date” for an advance showing of “Julie and Julia”, which opened Friday. We had dinner at Bon Vie with her co-workers from Williams Sonoma, and then off to the movies. An all French evening!

Did we like the movie? Oui! WE LOVED THE MOVIE!!! It was awesome! I’ve read some reviews that were critical of the movie. Rubbish!!! At least in the theater I was in, there were moments when the entire theater was laughing out loud. It was wonderful to sit in a theater full of laughing people! It really did my heart good. And at the end there was spontaneous applause. That just doesn’t happen very often anymore. It was a grand evening!

Then on Friday when the movie officially opened, I went to see it with another friend. This audience was different and the experience a little different. But the movie was still terrific!

Undoubtedly you have heard that Meryl Streep is absolutely amazing as Julia Child. And that is right on. She totally nails it. As I sat watching the movie, I completely lost sight of the fact that it was Ms. Streep on the screen and not Julia Child! She is that convincing.

And opposed to what you might hear to the contrary, I thought Amy Adams did a good job portraying Julie Powell. But what do I know? I don’t know Julie Powell. But then again, I did read her book. And I’ve read an article with Ms. Powell, in which she says that when writing the screenplay Nora Ephron did have to “sweeten” her up a bit to make it GP. Ms. Powell does come off a bit more harshly in her book, with a fondness for tossing the “f-bomb” about quite liberally.

But you know what really sticks in my craw? All these reviews that I am reading that are carrying on about how the movie would have been so much better if there was way less Julie and a lot more Julia. Let me just say this…

“The reason that this particular movie was made was because of the book that Julie wrote. If the powers-that-be would make a movie about Julia Child, I would be the first one in line to go see it. I adore Julia Child. I read “My Life in Paris” and she is a hero to me! But this movie wasn’t about just Julia. It was about what Julie Powell learned from Julia. Like I said, without Julie’s book this movie wouldn’t have come to be.”

So to the critics I say this, “Stop your complaining and enjoy the movie! Enjoy it for what it is…a movie about Julie & Julia!!!"

I sure did! And I probably will a few more times….and when it comes out on DVD, a few more times!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

In the world of “hit or miss” not everything can be a “hit”. Not that this cupcake was a “miss”; at least not a total miss. But I had such high hopes for this cupcake. I had found the recipe on the internet some time ago. I copied it and into my “TO TRY” folder it went.

Sidebar: It seems to me that everyone I know that likes to cook or is a “foodie” has one of these folders. They are crammed with recipes cut out of the newspaper; recipes furtively torn out of a magazine at the doctor’s office when you hope no one is looking ‘cause you really didn’t want to take the recipe but you just simply have to have it; recipes you’ve seen on the net and ran off a copy of so you would be able to locate them again; recipes you’ve jotted on a stray envelope and then have to try to decipher your own handwriting; and on and on it goes.

Yeah, that’s the folder I’m talking about. This recipe popped into my mind the other night when Bob and I were scarfing down mint Oreos™. (They are evil and should not be available to the public without a Surgeon General’s warning!) So I dug the recipe out and here we are.

When you look at the recipe I know the first thing you are going to say. And you’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right. As soon as I saw it began with a cake mix *gasp*, I should have put it in file 13. But I swear there are some good recipes that begin with cake mixes. And whoever it was that wrote the directions clearly stated that “It will turn out great!” You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right. And you can’t believe everything you read, either.

So here is today’s offering. Take it for what it’s worth. They weren’t awful. They just weren’t great.

And, I can’t believe these words are coming from my mouth, but I think I liked them better un-iced. I know! That’s absolute insanity coming from these lips! The truth is, one of the reasons I wanted to make these was the name of the icing – “Hell on High Heels” icing. How could I not like that? But the icing was the worst part. Maybe it was me. Maybe I hosed it up when I was making it. After adding the cream and vanilla it just wouldn’t come together. By the time I was finished with it, it kind of tasted like a glob of sweet, Oreo™ flavored butter. And the Oreo™ flavor wasn’t even that intense; in the icing or the cupcake.

Like my dear husband said, “If I wanted an Oreo™, I’d eat an Oreo™". (He’s definitely not a fan of “tastes like” foods.) I tersely replied that these were not Oreo™ cupcakes. They were Cookies and Cream cupcakes. But who am I kidding? He had me on this one.

Sometimes it’s not easy when he so very right.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
“Culinary Infatuation Blog – adapted from “Bake and Destroy”
Makes 24 cupcakes


1 box French Vanilla Cake Mix
30 Oreo™ style cookies
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
Take 12 cookies and split them in half, trying to get icing on both sides. Put the halved cookies in the cupcake liners icing side up.
Crush the remaining cookies.
In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, yogurt, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add 1 ½ cups crushed cookies and mix until well combined.
Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and bake for 15-18 minutes.
Remove and let cool on wire rack.

“Hell-on-High-Heels” Icing:

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
*Additional cookies

In a small bowl, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Increase speed to high, beating until light and fluffy.
Add cream and vanilla, beating until smooth.
Add remaining cookie crumbs and beat until well combined.
Refrigerate for 10 minutes to let firm up a bit before piping on the cupcakes.

*Optional: May top with half of a chocolate sandwich cookie after piping icing on cupcake.

Monday, August 3, 2009

100 POSTS!!!

Wow! Isn't that exciting? After posting my review on Lola's, I realized that we had reached 100 posts! Oh my gosh, I was so excited I think I may have damaged poor Bob's eardrums ;-)

I sure hope all of you are enjoying this blog just a smidgen as much as I am!

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lola’s Baci…An Italian Bistro

Last Saturday evening we set out to celebrate our friend, Kathy’s birthday. Her actual birthday had already passed but we hadn’t had the opportunity to celebrate with her yet. If you listened to her husband Donald, he would tell you that Kathy’s birthday celebration was going on two weeks. My response was, “Point?”

We planned to have dinner and then take in the concert at Creekside. I don’t know the name of the group that was playing, but they were Beatles impersonators. Right up our alley. Kathy wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before and she’d heard about a place in downtown Gahanna called “Lola’s Baci”. We were all game. So Julie had called and made reservations for six.

Bob and I arrived first. Lola’s is located in a little strip on Granville Street. You might easily miss it. Just look for the Gahanna Pizza Plus sign. That’s the easiest way to spot it. The restaurant is at the end of the strip, with only a doctor’s office between it and the alleyway. It’s a quaint, small restaurant with a couple of tables on the patio surrounded by a white picket fence.

Outside the door is a chalk board easel with the day’s specials listed on it. (We were later to find out that the specials tend to sell out quickly.) Several of the specials gave us pause as we were about to enter. First listed was Lobster Ravioli. Yum! My eyes landed on a “Sweet Corn Risotto with Pancetta and Scallops”. Oh my. If this was a sign of what was waiting for us inside, give that door handle a yank and let’s get in there quick!

Upon entering we had to wait a few moments before someone came to seat us. Then there seemed to be some confusion because there were six of us. I became a bit alarmed because it did not appear that they were prepared for us, even though I knew Julie had made the reservations the day before.

While we waited, we had a moment to look around. Lola’s is a small space, divided into three small dining rooms and the kitchen. It feels much like an Italian aunt’s home. Very quaint and cozy.

We were eventually seated at a table next to the kitchen, which had a bench against the wall seating 3 and three chairs across the table. The table/seating space is pretty tight in this room. But this table was going to work just fine for us. It sort of felt like sitting at the dining room table. When everyone arrived and got settled our waiter introduced himself. By this time the restaurant was beginning to become pretty busy.

We ordered a lovely red sparkling wine (I’ve forgotten the name but I loved it) to toast the birthday girl. We also ordered two of the appetizers called “Arancini”. These are “Italian Rice Croquets, filled with Cheese and Capacola Ham, then fried to a Golden Brown $6.” Wow! I could have probably eaten both orders myself! They were so incredibly good. And Kathy and Donald have traveled to Italy several times and said these were absolutely authentic. I’ll take her word for it. I just knew they were delicious!

Our server brought us a basket of bread that was pretty darn good. The only problem was that with six people it disappeared quickly. We requested more several times, but our server was pretty overwhelmed and forgot. In fact, in addition to the lack of bread service, when he brought our water he only brought five. He explained that they were waiting for clean glasses to come out of the dishwasher. It took us practically badgering him until we got the sixth glass (poor Donald) much, much in almost too late.

On to the entrées! We were informed that the Lobster Ravioli special listed on the board outside was gone. :-( So while Kathy and Bob were deciding on their plan B, the rest of us ordered.

Donald started with a cup of the “Tuscan Minestrone: This is a Vegetarian’s dream! A savory Vegetable Stock provides a sea for Carrots, Green Beans, Cabbage and Potatoes. Black, Red, and Canelli Beans also provide depth within this classic. Crowned with Pesto Crouton. Cup $3.50” He said it was quite good. And I took his word for it since there wasn’t a drop left in the bowl!

Bob and I decided to share a cup of ”Lola and Joe’s Wedding Soup: Tender, White Meat Chicken and tiny Meatballs are accompanied with Pastina, Carrots, and fresh Seasonal Greens in a tantalizingly complex Chicken Broth sprinkled with Pecorino Romano cheese. Cup $3.50.” It was absolutely delicious. I’m not quite sure what the greens were; something curly and quite firm. I commented to Bob that this soup didn’t have meatballs but it was delicious anyway. In writing this I see that it indeed was supposed to have them. But even without them I couldn’t complain. It was very good.

Kathy, Julie and I decided on the “Sweet Corn Risotto with Pancetta and Seared Scallops”. What a delightful choice! It was truly awesome. Like, totally awesome! The risotto was so perfectly cooked that it just about brought tears to my eyes. The sweet corn was such a perfect foil for the salty chunks of pancetta that dotted the dish. And the scallops…oh the scallops. Poorly cooked scallops can ruin you and put you off of them for a very long time. These however were divine; absolute heaven. I think I heard Kathy moan a time or two. Yes, they were that good!

Bob had “Papa Loreto’s Spaghetti with Spicy Italian Sausage and Peppers: Fresh Spaghetti is tossed with Homemade Sausage, from a small Italian-owned company in Cleveland; lots of Peppers and Red Sauce. Papa didn’t make the sausage, but Joe says it’s just like his Dad’s! $13”. I must say that I know firsthand that this was also quite tasty. The sauce was nicely spiced and the dish was full of chunky slices of good sausage and generous with the promised strips of sautéed sweet peppers. The pasta was perfectly cooked.

Donald went with the “Manicotti: Prepared in our kitchen filled with Ricotta, Mascarpone, Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers, and Peas, and baked with Joe’s Red Sauce and Lola’s Béchamel Sauce. $11”. I didn’t taste this, but Donald said it was really very good. The dish looked like traditional Italian fare. And Donald knows his Italian, so I trusted him on this.

Last but definitely not least, Patrick chose the “Veal Parmigiana: The most tender cut of Veal is coated with House-made Bread Crumbs — kicked up with Panko and Asiago Cheese, seared in Olive Oil, topped with Shaved Parmesan, and baked to tender juiciness beneath Joe’s Red Sauce. $17”. Both he and Julie raved about the veal, saying that it was so tender that no knife was needed to cut it. The veal was served with rigatoni and spinach on the side. It looked absolutely marvelous.

All in all it was a grand dinner! Albeit not a quick one. We watched several smaller groups come in and be seated, order, and be served before we had our dinner served. But we were a larger group, with several of us having ordered the risotto. I feel relatively certain this was the cause of part of the delay, and it was well worth the wait. We were celebrating (did I mention it was Kathy’s birthday celebration? I won’t tell you what number it was because I value my friendship with her. I also don't want her to hurt me.) so we really weren’t in a hurry and had much to talk about to occupy the time. (Even though we were late for the concert.)

Lola did stop by and asked how “her” food was. She is quite charming. Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to meet Joe. Maybe next time. Because I am absolutely certain there will be a “next time”!

Lola’s Baci…An Italian Bistro
100 Granville Street
Olde Gahanna, Ohio 43230
Phone: 614.473.9931 Fax: 614.478.1610

Sunday and Monday ~ Closed
Tuesday through Thursday* ~ 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
*Closed during period between Lunch and Dinner
Friday ~ 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday ~ 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pasta Carbonara

Dinnertime last night...I wanted something different but I didn't have a lot of time and I definitely didn't feel like running to the store. What to have? Staring off into space, zoning out, waiting for inspiration to hit...

memory coming into focus...sitting on the patio at Brio's...taste buds moaning in ecstasy...

Think Jean, think! What was it you had at Brio's? It wasn't my usual. I always order Bolognese with garganelli pasta. But that time I took a walk on the wild side and ordered something else.

visualizing plate of food at Brio's...garganelli pasta...creamy goodness...smell of parmesan...

I'VE GOT IT!!! It was garganelli pasta with carbonara sauce!!! Oh yes, yes, yes!!!

Uh oh. I've never made carbonara at home. That whole "raw egg cooked by the hot pasta" thing kind of gives me the willies. But it was so good.

Now that I had lifted that dish out of the dregs of my memory I was fixated on it. I wanted carbonara and only carbonara. Okay. Off to the internet. I googled "pasta carbonara" and got a slew of responses. But the third one was the one that caught my eye. An entry by Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman. If any of you are familiar with any of Ree's blogs then you know this gal is "Super Chick". She writes I don't know how many blogs, does incredible photography, lives on a ranch out in God's country, takes care of her darling daughters, has a "lodge" on their property that friends stay at when visiting (which has a kitchen that I would give my first born for), can cook like nobody's business, and did I mention that she's gorgeous to boot? Yeah, "Super Chick". Her food blog is something I can only aspire to.

I digress. So I clicked on the link to PW's carbonara. Her step by step instructions make any recipe look so doable. Did I mention that she's also a hoot? Anyway, I decided we are going to have pasta carbonara for dinner! I did add some slices of rotisserie chicken and some cherry and yellow teardrop tomatoes from our deck-garden. That kind of gave it a summertime flavor and feel.

I'm just going to give you the link to PW's post. Because, why redo what she has so beautifully done? I hope you'll read it even if you don't make the dish. Her blog is one that I can just sit and read for the sheer pleasure of it all. And if you do decide to attempt the dish, you so will not be sorry!

This dish is awesome! Heaven! Nirvana! Damn good, even!!! Bob and I barely spoke while we ate, which is totally unlike us. But this dish is so good it might just reduce you to a series of moans and groans. And then when it's all over, you just want to turn around and do it all again!

Now that's a dish to fall in love with :-) Happy eating!