Monday, March 23, 2009

Rioja's Sips and Snacks

Hopefully, I'll be here tomorrow night. The 'rents are in town, which means free babysitting!

Rioja currently has a Tuesday night event called "Sips and Snacks," consisting of 4 tastes of wine and 4 snacks for $15. Tomorrow night is Pinot Posse. I think that the title is referring to this.


Food Matters Diet

I just finished "Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating" by Mark Bittman. His book offers a theory that I have held for a long time: that you can lose weight and reduce your carbon footprint by eating fewer animal products and less processed food. He offers a diet that doesn't completely eliminate meat, but has you eat far more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

To me, it's just common sense that eliminating processed foods will help you lost weight. Lord knows what all those crappy chemicals are doing to your system. I especially have a problem with all of the chemical filled "diet" foods. We (B and I and boys) pretty good about not eating processed food, but we could do better. Perhaps the book will inspire me to do a better job than we already do. And I could always add more vegetables to my diet, although I think I do a decent job with that. Hopefully reading a book that confirms what I already think will inspire me to improve my diet.

I recommend the book. Not as good as "The Omnivore's Dilemma," but really a different kind of book. It includes recipes, in addition to detailing the "diet."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Now See, Here's Where We Differ

I'd have to call this a "Breakfast WIN."

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

How to Get Rid of Leftovers from a Fondue Party

Wait, you didn't think we actually had any fondue left over, did you? You so silly! Cheese and chocolate don't stick around long with me around (and my friends).

But I definitely overdid it with the "dippers." There was tons of broccoli, cauliflower (orange cauliflower!), bread, and ham left after our fondue party. There was quite a bit of fruit and angel food cake left too, but that was simple: make another chocolate fondue the next day!

Actually, there was a bit of gruyere left over, since I bought enough for 2 batches, but one ended up being enough. I used it with the broccoli and cauliflower to make this soup. I was out of carrots, so doubled up the celery. Also, I used a smoked gruyere. It was very good--especially with the ham. In fact, we ended up chopping up our ham and putting it right in the soup. Yum!

For the leftover bread, I made my first bread pudding: Irish Bread Pudding with Caramel-Whiskey Sauce. A big hit! The sauce rules.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Firenze a Tavola

We chose to go to Firenze a Tavola, the restaurant downstairs in Parisi, for our 2nd meal of Denver Restaurant Week. We chose it because a) we could get a reservation, and b) we felt the kids would do okay there, since our sitters were all out of town.

The boys did great. We gave them hearty snacks before going, so that they weren't hungry and crabby and brought activities like Star Wars sticker books and Spiderman activity books. We were able to order them a margherita pizza to share (only $10). Unfortunately, even though they were extremely well-behaved, our waiter was gruff and seemed quite unhappy to have us there. I assume it was because of the kids. Whatever. He was the only real down side of the evening.

The meal was definitely not the "best of the best" of Restaurant Week like I read on another website, but it was good. The prix fixe menu was much more extensive than listed on the DRW website. Appetizers and desserts were for two to share, which meant we couldn't get as wide of a sampling of the food, but there were 5-7 choices for each and portions were absurdly large.

We started with the Cartoccio di Coccoli, a cone of fried pieces of pizza dough--like unsweetened doughnuts!--spreadable cheese and prosciutto. The dough was delicious, but the cheese was odd. It kind of tasted like Laughing Cow cheese. I had a scallop risotto, which was okay. The website mentioned above called it "the best ever" and I beg to differ. It was pretty good risotto and had 3 very small, but tasty scallops on it. B had the pumpkin ravioli, which was amazing. For dessert we shared a calzone filled with nutella, strawberries and bananas. It was ridiculously sized and tasty. It was enough to feed at least 4 adults and we took more than half home. I saw the tiramisu at another table and it was the size of a brick!

I'd like to go back and try upstairs Parisi sometime for pizza. Judging by the ginormous line, it must be quite good.


Friday, March 13, 2009


My sister and I went to Snooze the other day. I've been wanting to go forever, but just haven't had a chance to until now. I plan to go again soon, though.

We shared two dishes. We had the "Ham Benedict III," a Homemade English muffin topped with shaved brown sugar ham, soft poached eggs and smoked cheddar hollandaise; house hash browns on the side. I'd been warned that their Hollandaise was "too much" and I should order it on the side. I forgot to and it definitely wasn't necessary! It was excellent Hollandaise--light and delicious. We also had the "pancake flight" and chose the Pineapple Upside Down Pancake with fresh chunks of caramelized pineapple, housemade vanilla crème anglaise, and cinnamon butter; the roasted sweet potato pancakes with bourbon-caramel glaze, roasted pecans and home-made ginger butter; and the Namaste Pancakes--whole wheat and sunflower seed pancakes topped with citrus butter and a clover honey. Holy smokes were they good! We liked them in the order listed above, but they were all fantastic. The coffee was a little weak for my liking, but my sis' tangerine juice was really good.

I can't wait to take the boys. I hope they can handle the wait, because from what I hear there is ALWAYS a wait. I've got to get back to try the huevos rancheros and the Caramel Cinnamon Roll Pancakes: "the cult classic revealed! White chocolate chip pancake, covered in vanilla crème anglaise & bourbon-caramel glaze, swirled cinnamon butter and toasted pecans." Droool.....


Disney on Ice

We had such an awesome time at the show last night! MomCentral and Feld Entertainment really treated us well. I posted pics of the boys on the other blog. If you have kids go see the show. It was the best of these kinds of shows that I've seen. The boys loved it!

Also, I forgot to post back in Feb. that I won a beautiful basket of valentine goodies from MomCentral. They rule!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

It Could Only Happen To Me

I'm sitting here with a bump on my head and a back out of whack. I swear I'm the clutziest person I've ever met.

I'm doing laundry and empty the drier into a laundry basket that's almost waist high. I go to get the clothes out of the washer and my ass hits the basket behind me; I ricochet off it and knock my head into the washer.

I hit so hard that I felt it go right down into my vertebrae. It hurt first in my neck, then in my middle back and now in the lower back. Plus a bump on my forehead.

Thank god for yoga. But do you think it will help the bump on my noggin?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Our Last Night of (Extended) Restaurant Week

All of our sitters are on Spring Break, so we're risking take the boys out tonight and are hitting Firenze a Tavola. I've heard great things about the more casual upstairs restaurant, Parisi, but had never heard of this one until recently. The menu looks great.

We plan to make sure the boys are not hungry when we get there and we have an early reservation. I called the restaurant and they said they were welcome.

We also are having a small dinner party on Saturday and I'm doing fondue for the first time. I figure I can always order pizza if it's a disaster! Luckily, they're close friends and we're all casual.

The weather has been so warm this week, and I've been able to enjoy Golden City Brewery, the "second biggest brewery in Golden," twice. Once in the evening with B and the boys, and once for lunch, combined with a yummy Hopping Turkey sandwich from Golden Natural Foods next door. The Hopping Turkey has turkey, cream cheese, sprouts, and red pepper raspberry jelly: yum. The IPA at GCB is great, but I really like the red too. B is disappointed that he can't get kegs of IPA for his kegerator. Apparently, it's so popular that can't make enough of it to sell it in kegs. So he has to settle for the brown or red. Poor baby. The boys love going to GCB because there's a wooden train for them to play on and we always let them get a grape soda.


The place is about as casual as you can get. A little house where they brew and sell the beer and a back yard with picnic tables. There's the train to play on and there are usually a lot of little kids and/or dogs. Often, there's a group playing guitar at their table. We've also been serenaded by the brewer at closing time (7 pm). They sell pizza and pretzels and I'm not sure what, but it doesn't look that great. Thankfully, however, they allow you to bring food in and we've brought in some good cheese and cured meat spreads before. Delish with the beer!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Taste of Summer with a Little Winter Thrown In

God, I'm loving this 70 degree weather we're having. This time of year, I start getting tired of "winter" fare and start craving summer foods. I do the opposite at the end of summer. It's been so nice out, that we've been able to grill the past couple of nights.

First, I used some pesto that I made with basil from my garden last summer and grilled it on ahi tuna and asparagus (yeah, I know asparagus really isn't in season yet, but it was on super duper sale and I couldn't resist it). The pesto froze amazingly well and once it was thawed it was totally the smell (and taste) of summer. If only I had some sun-warmed tomatoes from the garden to go with it!

The recipe I used last summer was from Moosewood Cookbook:


3 c packed fresh basil leaves, removed from stems
2 large cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup pinenuts, walnuts, almonds or a combination of those nuts - toasted (I always use pinenuts)
3/4 c packed fresh Italian parsley
3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
salt to taste

Place everything except oil and butter in food processor bowl. With motor running, pour in melted butter and olive oil. Process until smooth paste.

I brushed this over the ahi and asparagus and grilled.

For our taste of winter, I made Garlicky Mashed Sweet Potatoes, a recipe from the NC Sweet Potato Commission.

Garlicky Mashed Sweet Potatoes

6 medium Sweet Potatoes (I used sweet potatoes and not yams)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (I used dry)
1 sprig fresh thyme (I used dry)
5 whole garlic cloves (I used minced)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
6 cups chicken broth
4 tablelspoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk

Peel and quarter sweet potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with seasonings (adjusted to taste) and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-18 minutes. Drain excess liquid from potatoes and mash lightly with a fork.

Add butter, sour cream and milk. Cream with hand mixer on low speed leaving sweet potatoes slightly chunky. Keep warm until serving.

Makes 12 servings.

These were absolutely delicious! B couldn't stop raving about them. J had two helpings and M only gagged once.

Last night we made Grilled Asian Burgers with Onion and Pineapple, my favorite burger recipe. I got this recipe from Controlled Chaos and it's one of our summer staples.

Grilled Asian Burgers with Onion and Pineapple

1 pound uncooked ground turkey (she uses beef)
1/4 cup scallion(s), sliced
3 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp ginger root, freshly grated
2 tsp minced garlic
4 slice pineapple, four 1/2-inch-thick rings
1/2 medium Vidalia onion(s), or other sweet onion, cut into four 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, chopped

Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high.

In a medium bowl, combine turkey, scallions, teriyaki sauce, ginger and garlic until thoroughly mixed; form into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.
Lightly coat burgers, pineapple and onion with cooking spray; place on grill.

Grill pineapple, turning once until lightly charred, about 4 minutes; remove from grill. Grill burgers and onions, turning once, until burgers are desired degree of doneness and onions are lightly charred and tender, about 7 to 9 minutes.

To serve, place 1 burger on each of 4 plates. Top each with 1 slice of onion (separated into rings) and 1 slice of pineapple; sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of cilantro.

Tonight we're having burgers again, then it's back to winter fare.

We Have a Winner!

Congrats to Ashley B. who won the Disney on Ice tickets! I'm emailing you now, Chica.

Well, Piss on a Rock

How dare both of our sitters leave town for Spring Break? We were hoping to go out on Friday to see a friend's band and enjoy the last night of extended Restaurant Week.


I wish I could go on Spring Break.