Trying Not to Criticize . . .

Today my husband and I had to go do some business with our financial consultants and I suggested we go out to lunch afterwards. He left me to the choice of where/what kind of food – so I chose Mexican and an established place near our house. Hadn’t been there in about a year, but was looking forward to a nice lunch – much to my disappointment. Let’s just say, by the time I left I felt like I’d suddenly become a restaurant critic with a ‘not so good’ report to file. Where do I start? Let’s see – the chips & salsa: chips tasted like old oil/probably bought in bulk, salsa: mild tasted like watered down spaghetti sauce, the hot was good. I ordered an iced tea – and got one – that tasted like instant tea – yuck (husband didn’t like the idea that I just wanted to send it back, so he drank it – but agreed with me on the taste). I ordered a lunch botana – which was Ok – I ordered chicken extra ($1.00) – got ground beef (about 1 1/2 T. – very sparce). Lots of refried beans, about 2 thin slices of green pepper, a thick slab of tomato, lots of onion slices, some melted cheese and SIX huge green olives on top! (Really? GREEN olives?) Oh, and the kicker: (I asked the waitress what was on their botano, just to check) they put PEPPERONI on their botana! REALLY? An ITALIAN meat on a MEXICAN dish? Weird – I asked for that to NOT be put on mine. My last comment to husband was, “Well, this is my last time coming here.” (he just sort of  grunted & agreed). I love going out to eat, but I do have some standards for foods – this place (in my opinion) has really slipped in their level of quality. I’ve read up quite a bit on restaurants/food preparation, etc. (back when eldest son was studying to become a chef) and I’d say my lunch botana (which, on one side of the menu said was $4.75 and the other side $5.75 – not sure WHICH we paid) would have cost the restaurant about $2.75 to prepare. I did see quite a few of them coming out of the kitchen, so they’re making a profit – just wonder how many people frequent there on a regular basis. Oh well . . .

On to the recipes!


Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies 

3/4 C. butter shortening or
3/4 stick Crisco butter flavor
all-vegetable shortening sticks
3/4 C. sugar
3/4 C. firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 3/4 C. old-fashioned rolled oats
1 C. dried cranberries
1 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
Spray baking sheets with
non-stick spray. Beat
shortening, sugar & brown sugar in
large bowl on medium speed until
blended. Beat in eggs & vanilla.
Combine flour, baking soda,
cinnamon & salt in small bowl.
Add to shortening until smooth.
Stir in oats, dried cranberries
& walnuts; mix well. Drop by
rounded tablespoonfuls about
2 inches apart on sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until
light brown. Cool on sheets
2 minutes; move to cool racks
to cool completely. Makes 3
Recipe-Peg-Marys REcipe Exchange)

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

3-4 medium russet potatoes

1 medium onion, chopped

1-2 chicken bouillon cubes

10-12 oz. frozen mixed vegetables**

(poster used broccoli, cauliflower & carrot mixture)

1 (16 oz) can cream-style corn

8 oz. Cheez Whiz or Velveeta cheese

Peel & chop potatoes. Boil potatoes & onions

in just enough water to cover – add bouillon

cubes to water. When potatoes are tender, drain

about half water off. Add mixed vegetables,

corn & cheese to pot. Simmer, covered, 20-30

 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until cheese

melts. Serves 4-5.

(recipe:kaitsmimi-RDJ 02/17/12)


Tomato-Spinach Strata

(overnight recipe)

3 English muffins, split & toasted

1 (1 lb.)bag frozen chopped spinach,


8 sundried tomato halves,

about 1/3 C.

8 whole eggs

1/2 C. heavy cream

2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. coarse salt

12 grinds black pepper

2 C. grated Fontina cheese (1/2 lb.)

2 large fresh plum tomatoes, cut

into 1/4 inch slices

(Optional: cooked sausage or bacon)


Cut English muffins into 1/2- inch chunks.

Cover bottom of a 8 x 8 casserole with

muffin pieces. Thoroughly squeeze all

water from spinach; layer spinach over

muffin pieces. Coarsely chop sundried

tomatoes; scatter over spinach. In a

small bowl, lightly beat eggs with

cream; season with basil, salt & pepper.

Pour egg mixture evenly over spinach.

Sprinkle cheese on top; cover with

sliced tomatoes. Cover with plastic

wrap, gently press down to ensure

egg mixture is fully coating the strata.

Refrigerate (let sit for at least 1 1/2 hours).

Remove from fridge, let pan come to room

temp before baking.

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Bake 45 minutes or until eggs are set

and strata is springy. Let sit 10 minutes

before cutting. Serves 9. NOTE: For a

larger strata- double recipe, use a 9 x 13

pan, cook at 325 degrees for 45

minutes-1 hour.



Peppermint Popcorn

3 quarts freshly air-popped

plain popcorn, unseasoned

1/2 C. butter or margarine

1 C. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 C. light corn syrup

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

1/8 tsp. green food coloring


Preheat oven 250 degrees F.

Arrange popcorn in shallow baking

or roasting pan. Melt butter in a

2 Qt. saucepan; stir in sugar, salt

& corn syrup. Cook, stirring

constantly until sugar dissolves

& mixture boils. Boil, without

stirring, 5 minutes. Remove

from heat & add peppermint

extract & green food coloring.

Pour over popcorn in baking pan;

stir to mix well. Bake 1 hour,

stirring 3-4 times. Cool c

ompletely; store in tightly covered


(recipe: Susan-Marys Recipe



Maple-Glazed Chicken

2 lb. skin-on, bone-in
chicken breasts, cut into
large chunks
kosher salt
2 T. olive oil
2 apples, 1 red/1 green, cored
& cut into wedges
8 medium shallots, quartered
1/4 C. fresh sage, torn
1/2 C. chicken broth
1/4 C. maple syrup
1/4 C. apple cider vinegar

Pat chicken dry & rub all over
with salt. Heat a large, heavy
skillet over high heat; add oil.
When oil is hot, add chicken
skin-side down; cook,
undisturbed, until skin is
browned & crisp, about 5
minutes. Turn chicken & add
apples, shallots & sage. Reduce
heat to medium high, cook until
chicken is browned on bottom,
4-5 minutes. Transfer chicken
to a plate & continue to cook
the apples & shallots, stirring,
until golden, about 2 more minutes.

Mix chicken broth, maple syrup,
vinegar & 1/2 tsp. salt
in a small bowl. Add mixture to
skillet with apples & shallots;
boil until reduced by about
three-quarters,2-3 minutes.
Return chicken to skillet,
turning to coat, until
cooked through,about 2
more minutes.
Black Bean & Corn Salsa

1 can black beans, rinsed &
drained well
1 can kernel corn, rinsed &
drained well
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt to taste
fresh cilantro, minced
(to taste)
lime juice for dressing

Mix all ingredients together &
refrigerate. Better when used
day after preparing. Eat with
tortilla chips or baked pita


Cheesy Spinach & Bacon Dip 

1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen chopped
spinach, thawed & drained
1 lb. (16 oz) Velveeta, cut
into 1/2 inch cubes
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 (10 oz) can Rotel diced
tomatoes & green chilies,
8 slices bacon, cooked &

Place spinach, Velveeta,
cream cheese cubes & Rotel
tomatoes & bacon in microwaveable
bowl. Microwave on high 5
minutes or until Velveeta
is completely melted &
mixture is well blended,
stirring after 3 minutes.
Serve with chips.

Green Peppermint Meltaway Cookies 

1 C. butter, softened
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp. peppermint flavoring
3-4 drops green food coloring
2 1/4 C. cake flour
1/4 tsp. salt
powdered sugar for sprinkling
on warm cookies

Preheat oven 400 degrees F.
Mix butter, powdered sugar, pepper-
mint extract & green food coloring
together well. Stir together flour
& salt; mix in butter mixture.
Drop cookies from teaspoons onto
ungreased cookie sheets. Use your
fingers to smooth tops of cookies,
if desired. (cookies do not spread)
Bake 8-9 minutes. While warm,
sprinkle cookies with powdered
sugar. Makes 5 dozen cookies

That's it for today - nice weather, a little
cloudy and looks like we might get rain later,
but in the low 60's so I can't complain. Hope
you have a great day AND that if you go out
to eat - you get what you were hoping for:
good food!!!



Published in: on March 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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