Doing what we do best... dining

Monday, September 5, 2011

Summer revisited

It's September.  Already.  Currently, it's mid 60's and has been raining at least since we got up this morning just before 7:00.  Two day ago, it was 97 and humid.  Ahh... late summer/early fall in Ohio.  Where oh where did the summer go..... here's a recap.

First, at the very beginning of summer, we headed west for 10 glorious, relaxing days in California.  We spent a couple of days in San Francisco site-seeing and, of course eating.  

We revisited the restaurant where we became engaged, The Stinking Rose.  The Garlic ice cream sundae with caramel mole sauce was perfection and our entrees were pretty outstanding as well.  


We enjoyed more than our fair share of sourdough bread and dungeness crab, trekked up the steep and unforgiving hills that make San Francisco, and enjoyed a pedi-cab when we simply couldn't walk another step.  

We found some time to just goof around too...

After spending two full days enjoying the city, we hopped in our burnt orange convertible Spyder and headed north to Napa Valley.

It was quite cool and foggy the morning we left - perfect for two mid-westerners with a convertible.  With me behind the wheel, and the top down, we were on our way.  

We arrived before 10AM and found ourselves unable to check into our 'wine cottage' yet... so we headed to a winery for a tasting.  And it began....   

For the next 7 days, we drank some of the most amazing wines, ate at world class restaurants, and just RELAXED.  Everywhere we went, the scenery was perfection.  You couldn't help but to relax.  And oh my oh my the wines.  

One of the highlights was our tour of Truchard Vineyards.  Mrs. Truchard was our hostess and tour guide.  Several years ago, my dear friend Lili, who owns a fabulous wine boutique BellaVino, introduced me to the 2007 Chardonnay.  Having the opportunity to sip that wine, with the owner, at their winery - amazing.  

We ate at a Thomas Keller restaurant, Bouchon, Michael Chiarello's Bottega, an incredible Thai restaurant called Mini Mango, and so many others.   It was an amazing vacation, and I can't wait to go back again.  

We brought home plenty of Napa's finest... but a revisit/restock will be needed.  

About a week after returning, we closed on our new house and moved days later.

Per usual, it was over 100 degrees when we began the move.  But we took our time, spending the better part of a week cleaning, painting and prepping for the big move.  Now that we're in and settled, we LOVE it.

There is so much room.  We have art and heirlooms proudly displayed.

We even have the beginnings of a wine cellar. 

Gracie has toys in every room.... it's home. 

We're even planning to host our first ever holiday.... Thanksgiving at The Millers!

We've kept ourselves busy, for certain.  And clearly, not blogging much.  Until today.  

This recipe is a great one, especially as summer is becoming autumn.

Noodle Kugel with Applesauce 

You'll need:  

1 package egg noodles
1 cup butter or margarine 
1/2 cup sour cream
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 oz. jar of applesauce (we get ours at the farmers market)
1 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste 

The steps:

First, preheat the oven to 350.  Coat a 13 X 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Cook egg noodles per package directions - al dente.

In a large bowl, combine butter, sour cream, eggs, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and applesauce.  Combine well.  

Then, stir in cooked noodles.

Pour into baking pan and sprinkle the top with cinnamon.
Bake for 45  minutes to an hour until set and top  is browned.  

Serve along with a savory veggie for a yummy, hearty, autumn meal.    



Monday, May 30, 2011

More Miller Time

Do you ever feel like you're just about to tip over the edge of Overwhelmed Mountain? Of course you do. We all do, from time to time. Yet we keep adding to our list of responsibilities. We join just one more committee or civic group. We say yes to requests before even thinking of the possibility of saying no. We feel compelled to help and share our talents, sometimes without consideration for the time/energy commitment. I've done this. Oh WOW, have I done this. I realized that there was a problem when I began to feel anxious about accepting a lunch or happy hour invitation. Fearing that one of these groups, organizations or possibly even my JOB might need my time. Concern that I might simply be too exhausted to enjoy a social call has made me turn down many requests. It's time to learn to say no.

Saying no could open so many doors! I could again find time (read: energy) to enjoy Miller-Time. I could have more lunches with friends & family. Finish reading the book I got for Christmas and have yet to explore beyond chapter 2. I could start swimming again. God, I love swimming. Decorating! We are moving into our new house in just over a week - and we have so many ideas and plans......
It's reasonably likely that I would have more time and inspiration to write. It's been duly noted that I have lacked some zest and timeliness on Miller-Thyme postings. Even though I love to write - and eat.

Speaking of eating, this Brian-Creation is one I really love to eat. It's quick, healthy and oh-so-tasty. It's ever evolving. We've never made it the same way twice. It's really all about what fresh veggies, protein and herbs we have on hand. It's a great one to play with. Say YES to this!

Lettuce Wraps

You'll need:

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
10-15 lettuce leaves (romaine and Boston lettuce work well)
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (we have also used chicken thighs and pork chops)
1-2 jalapeƱo peppers, diced (more or less, to taste)
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 cup fresh ginger, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped (we use shiitake or cremini)
1/4 cup fresh scallions, chopped
1/4 cup Bragg liquid amino (or your favorite soy sauce)
Sriracha - to taste
Fresh herbs - whatever you have on hand (cilantro works well)
Olive oil - enough to coat the bottom of a large skillet
White wine (a little for cooking, a little for drinking)

The steps:

Begin cooking the rice, per package instructions. While it's cooking, saute the chicken until just cooked through. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl.

In the same pan, add a touch of wine and olive oil. Begin sauteing the veggies. Start with those taking longest to cook first (carrots, celery). Then add onions, scallions, jalapeƱos and mushrooms. Add the herbs, amino/soy sauce, and sriracha. Stir well and cook for another minute.

Once all are cooked to desired tenderness, return chicken to pan and add garlic & ginger.

By now, the rice should be done. Put in into a large bowl.

Once the chicken/veggie mixture is done, add to the bowl and mix with rice.

Serve with lettuce leaves. Spoon, wrap & eat. Mmmm... delicious.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Re-inspired. And thankful for desserts.

Has it really been 5 months since our last blog post?? It has. I suck! Believe me, Brian has been cooking. Tons. Lots of new recipes. Fresh takes on older recipes. I just haven't felt my part - the writing. Brian has offered to take over my job as the author - but that wasn't our original plan. The idea was that we'd have this project to do together. I just haven't been holding up my end of the deal. SO, with that, I'm becoming re-inspired and am going to make every effort to keep the recipes and writing flowing yet again.

But first, some news - and a HUGE reason why we've been so busy. We're moving!! And we are super excited about it. On June 1st, we'll close on our dream home (which is only about 3 blocks from our current home). It's a big, beautiful two-story that just oozes kindness and history. The first time I walked in, I felt myself take a deep breath and exhale with that feeling of 'home.' It is parked on a street aptly named Sunnyside. Brian loves the kitchen, and I fell in love with the dining room. There are 2 fireplaces, gorgeous wood floors and a front porch that begs for friends and a chilled bottle of Chardonnay.

With moving comes all sorts of excitement. Shopping for new furnishings and carpet... playing with color schemes and window treatments... trying not to fall over the edge of 'overwhelmed' as I have a tendency to do when there is just so much to do.

I'm wondering what the first meal we'll cook in the new house will be. It's one of the many intoxicating thoughts that keeps me up at night. And I'm searching for just the right recipe.

Recipes! That's why you're reading, yes? Hmmm..... Here is one that isn't nutritionally healthy in the slightest. However, it's mentally healthy. When I'm stressed, it's a bandage. When I'm long-day exhausted, it's a reward. And tonight, it could very well be dinner.

Chocolate Challah Bread Pudding

You'll need:

1.5 - 2 cups fresh fruit (we've use sliced strawberries and/or blueberries)
1/4 cup dark rum
1 half stick butter - cut into small pieces
1 loaf fresh challah bread
1.5 cups milk**
1.5 heavy cream**
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved
16 oz. dark chocolate
4 large eggs

The Steps

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cut the challah into 1-2 inch cubes.

Place cubed challah into a glass baking dish. Strew with the fruit, rum and half of the butter.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, add chocolate and allow to stand for 3 minutes. Then whisk until smooth.

Whisk eggs until combined, in a large mixing bowl. Then strain the milk mixture into the eggs and beat them together. Be mindful not to do this too quickly, or you'll risk scrambling the eggs. And do not over-beat.

Strain the mixture back in the pan and use a spoon to skim any foam from the surface. Pour the mixture over the cubed challah bread. Top with with the small pieces of butter.

Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm, bathed in vanilla ice cream. Yum.

And, yes - in these photos there is already a huge piece missing. It's just so damn good, I couldn't wait for a picture to be taken. Oops.....

**Note - In an attempt to "lady-fy" this recipe ever so slightly, Brian occasionally uses all skim milk, omitting the heaving cream entirely. I simply MUST indulge... so anywhere we can save on the fat or calories, I'm all for it.