Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Every week I look forward to reading about the new featured restaurant in our local newspaper. A couple of weeks ago I read about a new Mexican place called Tito's Burritos that just opened in Morristown. I didn't know of this one before, but there is also one just minutes from my office in Summit. Now that I've been here, this news is very exciting - I could have my Tito's fix for lunch or for dinner!
Tito's cuisine may be Mexican or Tex-Mex, but the atmosphere is one of a Hawaiian or Californian surf shop. There are two flat screen TV's - which were showing a skateboarding video, a huge marlin on the wall, as well as surfboards. These are just some of the fun items that adorn the restaurant. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed and the friendly staff illustrates that. Everyone seemed to really enjoy working there. There is something for everyone at Tito’s and it appeals to people of all ages. The night I was at Tito's, there were families with young children, teenagers and adults of all ages.
The menu is extensive and very unique. They serve burritos, tacos, quesadillas and salads - they even have fries and wings! Any burrito can be made without a tortilla, with a low carb tortilla, or as is. They can be made "wet" which means special sauce and cheese added, or "green" which means added guacamole. There really is a burrito and taco to satisfy every palate, the most unique being the Blackened Salmon Burrito. I ordered a San Quentin which is a ground beef burrito with a choice of black or pinto beans, cheese, yellow rice and pico de gallo. It was very tasty, not an obscene amount of cilantro and very neat. I thought I would have to use a fork and knife but all the fillings stayed neatly inside the tortilla so it was not messy at all. My boyfriend ordered The Big Easy. This was our favorite out of the two we ordered. It's a blackened chicken burrito with yellow rice, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo and ranch dressing. I think this was the most popular burrito that night because I heard it ordered over and over. We also tried the guacamole and the salsas from the salsa bar. All of them were very good. The pico de gallo was my favorite, very tasty with just the right amount of salt. I think the most surprising thing we tasted were the fries. Who orders fries at a Tex-Mex restaurant you ask? We do when they are covered in cheese and served with a chipotle dipping sauce. If you ask me, that sauce should be on everything! I think it would have been perfect in my burrito. So Tito, maybe you should add that to your menu with all the other add-ons!
Tito's does not serve alcohol but they are a BYOT - Bring Your Own Tequila and will gladly make you a frozen Margarita. If alcohol isn't your thing try a Mexican soda or some refreshing lemon or limeade.
Tito's Motto is "It's all good!" and everything that we tasted was certainly better than good. I plan on becoming a regular at the Morristown location and I hope to see you there!
My review is also posted on Jersey Bites! Click here to check it out! Jersey Bites is a great website for recipes, NJ restaurant reviews, blogging events and more. Make sure you stop by!
Last summer my friend Catherine and her hubby invited Steve and I over for a barbeque. Everything was fabulous but it was her orzo salad that I was thinking about for days. It was a mixture of perfectly roasted veggies, salty kalamata olives and pieces of soft and creamy fresh mozzarella. She doesn't really have a recipe for it and she makes variations all the time. Any veggies or herbs can be used and I think you could even grill the veggies and then cut them up and mix them with the orzo. This recipe makes a ton so if you don't like leftovers (although this is great leftover) cut this recipe in half.
This is what I did but feel free to mix it up any way you like.
Roasted Veggie Orzo Salad
2 small zucchini, cut into approx 1 inch pieces
2 small yellow squash, cut into approx 1 inch pieces
1 bunch of thin asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into approx 1 inch pieces
1 package of mixed baby peppers, cut into approx 1 inch pieces
1 red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic left in their skins
1 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
1 carton of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 8 oz ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into bite sized pieces
1 pound of orzo
1 small bunch basil, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Distribute zucchini, squash, asparagus, peppers, onion and garlic between two baking pans. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes or until tender, tuning them when they are halfway through cooking.
3. Meanwhile, cook orzo in salted water, drain and put in a large bowl. Toss with oil to prevent sticking.
4. When veggies are cooked, let cool for a few minutes and remove garlic and set aside. Add cooled veggies to cooled but still warm orzo. Add olives, tomatoes and mozzarella.
5. In a small bowl squeeze garic from their skins, add a tsp of salt, some pepper and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Smash to form a paste adding more oil as needed. Add garlic paste and basil to veggie orzo mixture and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Thanks Catherine for a great recipe!!!
Friday, May 22, 2009
A couple of days ago I posted about the chicken and potatoes I made in the oven. In the package of chicken that I bought had a whole chicken that was cut up. I used part of it in my roasted chicken dish (enough to feed two) and the rest of the chicken I used to make this soup. I had a large chicken breast, two wings and a thigh and just to make sure I had enough meat I added an extra chicken breast that I had. I should have listened to my mother and not used so much water because since I didn't have a whole chicken the broth was a little light and bland. No big deal, I threw in a few chicken bouillon cubes. I'm not going to give you an exact recipe for this but I think you'll get the idea.
Add chicken (with bone and skin) to pot with enough cold water to cover. Leave the skin on but if there is a lot of excess skin or fat just trim that off. To the pot add whatever veggies you like and you don't have to get particular about dicing. I cut them into large chunks. I just used two tomatoes, carrots, onion and celery but you can use leeks, mushrooms, garlic, whatever you like. I added bay leaves but you can add parsley or thyme also if you like it. Let it come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let it cook until chicken is cooked through (approx 1 hour, depending on amount of chicken). Remove chicken to a dish and let cool. Taste soup for seasoning. Add salt, pepper and if you think it needs a richer taste add bouillon (before you add the salt). When chicken is cool enough to handle shred with two forks (or your fingers) or dice into small pieces. I prefer it shredded because that's how my mother always did it. I used my immersion (stick) blender and blended all the veggies (except for one lone carrot...oops!) but you don't have to do that. You could have cut your veggies smaller and left them whole. Add shredded chicken to the pot. In separate pot cook pasta or rice. I used cavatelli (we pronounce it gah-vah-deel - don't ask, we just do!) and that can be found in the frozen section with the ravioli and tortellini. I've heard this suggested somewhere and called "Italian chicken and Dumpling soup". I wouldn't call this that because it wasn't thick enough for that but you could certainly make a roux and thicken it up. Anyway, I'm getting distracted. If you are only making a small amount of soup you could cook the pasta or rice right in the pot with the soup. I made a large amount so I could freeze it and I didn't want the pasta to get mushy.
It turned out delicious. I definitely recommend using the cavatelli but they are larger than most pasta that I would normally use and so one package was just enough but I would have liked a little more. Maybe we just have big appetites!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
What are fiddleheads? I know you're all wondering because until 2 weeks ago I never heard of them before. I first saw them on a blog and thought they looked strange but kinda cool. Never thought I'd come across them but to my surprise one of my local supermarkets had them. I bought a small bunch just to see what they were like but they intimidated me and sat in my fridge for three days.
Finally last night I decided that I would just suck it up and try them. If they didn't taste good no one was going to force me to eat them! Steve already said he wasn't going to eat them. This was his face when I showed them to him.
I can't say I blame him. That was probably my face when I first saw them!
After doing some researching and speaking to some friends on bakespace I found out that I should remove the brown papery skin and rinse them really well. There wasn't any papery skin on them and so I was a little confused. There was a fuzzy flowery type of stuff (for lack of a better word) inside the coiled part. I think that's what freaked me out because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to take that off or not. Everytime I tried to uncoil it and wipe that off the fiddlehead broke. It kind of snapped like a string bean. Hmmm...so, I just washed them, left that part alone and cut off the ends of each one like I normally do for the stems of broccoli rabe. I boiled them for two minutes and then sauteed them in garlic and oil and sprinkled them with a little salt.
They tasted good. I was surprised. They weren't as bitter as I thought they would be. They did taste similar to the stems of broccoli rabe but milder like a string bean. I know, two totally different things but I don't know how else to describe them. The problem for me was that they looked really weird. I kept getting these images of them turning into worms or coming to life and freaky and snake-like. So, I couldn't eat them. They just looked like something so foreign and I couldn't trust it.
I still think you should try them for yourself but you don't have a lot of time. They are only around for a short amount of time and I think that window is closing. If you do try them let me know what you think. Are they fabulous or do you agree with me, they are just too damn freaky to eat?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Yum, Yum, Yum! This chicken was so tasty and the sauce was perfect for dipping bread in. There isn't much of a recipe for this. Once again, I just threw in what I had and it turned out perfect! I bought a whole chicken cut up and split it up so that we would have two meals. I don't like the taste of reheated chicken so I didn't want leftovers. I made this for two but you can use as much chicken as you want just increase the amount of liquid if you want some juice (which I highly recommend!) I left some of the skin on the chicken because I didn't want it to get try but you can do this without the skin if you like.
1 chicken breast, (all pieces have bone in & trimmed of extra skin and all fat)
2 chicken legs
2 chicken thighs
a couple of sprigs fresh oregano (you can use dried, I just threw it in)
a few shakes of dried italian seasoning
Mrs. Dash Table Blend
salt and pepper
dry white wine
1 large sweet potato, cut into large pieces
handful of baby carrots
4 -6 yukon gold potatoes, cut into large pieces
1 onion, cut into large pieces
handful of chopped leeks (threw them in only because I had them)
8-10 cloves garlic cloves in peel
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season skin side of chicken with salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash. Heat a large oven safe frying pan, drizzle in some oil and place chicken in the pan skin side down. Don't touch it. Leave it there for about 5 minutes or until chicken starts to brown. Meanwhile, add in garlic, and potatoes, carrots and onions around the chicken. Season them with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Turn chicken and potatoes and season the second side. When chicken is browned turn over again and add wine ane chicken broth. Add enough so that the liquid is about halfway up the chicken. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until some of the liquid is reduced. Add pan to hot oven and cook for about 40 minutes or until juices run clear. Cooking time depends on how big your chicken pieces are and how much chicken you have.
10 years ago I started asking family and friends for recipes. I wanted to create a cookbook with recipes from people who are special to me. You'd be surprised how many people couldn't be bothered. I was very disappointed that despite the letter I mailed many people in my family (distant relatives as well as close ones) I only got a few recipes and those were from the ones that I pestered. Since it was so difficult to get recipes from family, whenever I tasted something I liked, I got in the habit of asking people right then and there to tell me how to make it and I wrote it down. This was one of the first recipes I got my hands on. It was given to me by a neighbor and very close friend of the family, Joanne. I remember the day she made it. I stopped by her house and this is what she was making for lunch. She invited me to join her and her family and I graciously accepted. It was delicious!
Oh, one more thing. I know that canned vegetables are not as good as frozen and for the most part I agree. I can hear you all now, tsk tsk, but listen, in my humble opinion, baby peas in a can have so much more flavor than frozen peas. I prefer Le Sueuer peas and only use these for this dish and also when I make macaroni and peas (recipe to come in the future). The frozen ones just don't work here but be my guest and use whatever you feel comfortable with.
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper
Mrs. Dash table blend
1 can of peas
1 cup chicken broth
1 small zucchini
1 package fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb tubitini or any other small pasta
Saute garlic and onion in oil.
Add zucchini, mushrooms, salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash to pot. Let cook until zucchini is soft.
Add whole can of peas with juice and chicken broth. Let cook for a few minutes until it’s heated through.
In seperate pot cook pasta, drain (leave some water) and combine with vegetables. (shouldn’t have the same amount of liquid as soup but should be wet)
Monday, May 18, 2009
A few months ago I read about Say it with Vases in a Magazine. They are neat little plastic vases that fold up when you don't need them. Living in a condo with limited space I thought that this was a great idea. Jill from Virtual Mom Blog and owner of Say it with Vases sent me one to try. Thanks Jill! This past weekend I opened up my package and read the instructions. I have to admit, I had no idea how this was going to work. It was after all, completely flat. To my surprise, all I had to do was fill it with water and it opens up and stands upright. Very cool! I put my flowers in and that's it. It's a vase!
I think that this is a great hostess gift or as her website suggests, an addition to flowers so your hostess doesn't have to go searching for a vase. My only disappointment is that the mouth of the vase is not very large and can't hold a large bouquet. My solution to that is buy two of these and split up a bouquet between two vases. Breaking up a bouquet and spreading them out throughout your home gives a great impression, makes you feel good and it's affordable. Here's what I did with mine, give them a shot and let me know how you use yours.
When I started this blog I really didn't think that far ahead. I never thought of my 100th blog but now that I'm here I'm really excited! I wanted to make something special and decided homemade pasta would be perfect. I've tried making homemade pasta on my own in the past and was semi-happy with the results but that was a long time ago. I cannot begin to tell you how I felt trying it again this time. I don't know if it was that I felt more confidant this time, or if I was just thinking a lot about Nanny but I was really overcome with emotion. Once the dough was made I was constantly reminded of how it felt when I made it with Nanny. The smell of the took me back to that place about 20 years ago when I kneeled on her dining room chair and got my hands in the dough. When I asked Steve to smell it he couldn't really smell much but for me it was very familiar. I have to say I was filled with regret at never really having the patience to learn everything that Nanny knew about cooking. I watched and touched and tasted but never tried to do it on my own when she was around to help me and guide me. If you have someone in your life who you admire and want to learn from, whether it's cooking or baking or anything else, do it now. It may be hard to imagine but there will be a time when you wish you could ask a question or need their opinion and it's too late. Ask everything while they are still around.
Okay, now that I depressed you all (sorry!) let's get to the recipe and my results. I had a lot of fun making this and probably got a little carried away with making sure it was thin enough. When Nanny rolled it by hand and when I got impatient and wanted to cut it she always said it wasn't thin enough. So I think I made the pasta too thin. I used my pasta attachment for my kitchen aid mixer and put the pasta through twice through each setting 1-6 and then once through 7. I put it through twice because I remember watching Mario Batali doing that but the directions of the recipe I followed said NOT to do that. I loved using the attachment, it's so much quicker and easier than rolling it out by hand. However, if you can knead it and roll it out by hand go ahead and do it, I'm sure it's a very cathartic experience. You can also make the dough in a food processor.
Recipe from Biba's Taste of Italy
(makes a little over 1 lb of fettuccine)
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (I added this on my own - not sure if it makes a difference)
In bowl of stand mixer beat eggs and salt. Attach dough hook and flour a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase the speed and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes, until smooth, soft and pliable.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured wooden board of other work surface. Flour your hands lightly and knead the dough for a minute or two. If the dough seems too firm, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, then knead the dough again for about a minute.
Biba's tip: Making the dough with a machine requires a little less flour than making it by hand. Reserve 1/2 cup or so of the flour called for in the recipe. After the dough has been kneaded, touch it. If it is silky and slightly moist, it is ready; if it is too sticky, work in the reserved flour.
This tip was great. I did not need to use the 1/2 cup reserved flour. If I used it the dough would have been too dry.
To roll out the dough with pasta attachment:
Set the rollers of the pasta machine at their widest setting (1 - for Kitchen Aid) Cut off a piece of dough about the size of a large egg and flatter in under the palm of your hand. Keep the rest of the dough wrapped in plastic wrap. Dust the flattened piece of dough lightly with flour and run it once through the machine. Fold the dough in half, pressing down on it with your fingertips, and run it through the machine again. Repeat this step four to five times, dusting the dough lightly with flour if needed, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky; the dough will become firmer since the machine is actually kneading the dough. Do not skimp on this step, or, as you think the pasta, it may stick to the rollers.
Adjust the rollers to the next setting and run the dough through once; do not fold the dough again. Adjust the rollers to the next setting and run the rollers once; continue to adjust the rollers and roll the pasta through the machine until it reaches desired thinness.
If you are making stuffed pasta, cut and stuff the dough immediately, before rolling out another piece. For string pasta or ribbon noodles, roll out the remaining dough and allow the sheets to dry before cutting them into noodles.
Biba's Tip: If the sheet of dough sticks to the pasta machine, dust it lightly with flour. Be sure to run the sheet of dough once through each setting; don't skip a setting or the dough may tear.
To cut pasta using attachment:
Spread a clean tablecloth on a large work surface and lay out the rolled-out sheets of pasta on it. Let dry for 8-10 minutes, depending on the temperature of the room, until the sheets of pasta are no longer sticky and are beginning to curl up slightly at the edges.
Run the sheets of pasta through the widest setting for tagliatelle or the narrow setting for tagliolini. Arrange the noodles in bundles on a wooden board or tablecloth. They can be cooked immediately or allowed to dry, uncovered and cooked later; they an be kept at room temperature uncovered for several days.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Don't you just love those little bags of baby potatoes? I've been seeing them more often lately, baby reds, baby yukon golds and a couple of weeks ago I bought a bag of mixed baby potatoes. If you recall I roasted those in the oven and they were fantastic. This time I had a bag of baby yukon golds, I just love their creamy texture. This is a dish that I've had many different ways growning up and a few years ago I began making them with vinegar. Steve and I love it but not everyone loves that tanginess. Since we weren't the only ones eating this I decided to keep it simple.
1 bag of baby yukon gold potatoes
Fresh string beans ( I don't weigh them so not sure how much)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Trim string beans and boil in salted water until tender but slightly crisp and in another pot boil potatoes whole in salted water until fork tender. Drain well and toss with garlic, parsley, oil, salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature, heck, I even like this cold.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Last weekend my good friend Janet brought over two wonderful desserts for our Kentucky Derby Party. She made Bourbon Balls so we could have something that was traditional Derby Fare and she also whipped up a batch of Coconut Macaroons. They were both great but I really, really, really liked the Coconut Macaroons! I didn't even know I liked coconut that much! Janet was nice enough to share the recipes and I'm sharing them with you! The photo of me and Janet is not from the Kentucky Derby party. We hardly took any pictures, I guess we were all busy having fun!
Thank you Janet for making these desserts for us and sharing the recipes!
RUM OR BOURBON BALLS
1 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. rum or bourbon
1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 1/2 c. crushed vanilla wafers (food processor makes this step easy!)
1 c. chopped pecans
Stir together powdered sugar, alcohol and corn syrup. Then add the crushed wafers and chopped nuts. Mix until evenly moistened and pinch a walnut sized piece and roll it firmly between the palms of your hands, repeat until all balls have been made. Then sift 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder onto a plate, roll the balls in the powder until evenly coated. Store in an airtight tin with doilies or wax paper between layers. Recommend candy sized Christmas cups for serving.
Adapted from recipe on package of coconut.
1 large pkg coconut (400g)
2/3 cups sugar
6 Tablespoons flour
1/4 ts Salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp almond extract (I used Amaretto instead)
Mix coconut, sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Stir egg whites and almond extract/Amaretto. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
With the economy the way it is I am really starting to think about how much money I spend on food and how much of that food gets wasted. I'm trying as often as I can to reuse my leftovers to make a new dish. This is actually very simple. I didn't have to do anything with my leftovers but the fresh flavors of the mango salsa really brightened up the dish.
2 chicken breasts
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder (you can use fresh garlic instead if you want)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Table Blend
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning.
Stir together all seasonings with lime juice and oil. Add chicken and coat on both sides.
Turn your grill pan (or outdoor grill) on medium high heat and get your pan very hot. You want to get a nice color on your chicken. Cook for 5 minutes on each side and lower the heat and make sure it's cooked through. Make a small slit in the middle. If the juices run clear the chicken is done.
Top chicken with mango salsa.
Is that easy enough? You can also do this with leftover bruschetta. It tastes great with the chicken!
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
If you're looking for something different for your next barbeque or potluck consider making this mango salsa. The flavors are so clean and vibrant, everyone loves it! This recipe was given to me by Jessica, a member of my dinner group about two years ago. I loved it when she made it, gave the recipe out to friends and family but never made it myself. It's so easy, I think I'll be making this one again very soon! Come back tomorrow to see what I'm doing with the leftovers!
2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced (seeds and juice discarded)
1-2 green onions, finely sliced
1 lime, juiced
1 avocado, diced
Combine diced mangos, tomatoes, and green onions (this can be
done the night before and left in the fridge). Then dice the avocado and
mix with the lime juice to prevent discoloration. Mix the avocado
with the mangos right before serving and season with salt if needed.
You can also add a minced jalapeño if you like it spicy.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Here is another side dish from our Kentucky Derby Party. This is a great alternative to corn on the cob. It's easy to eat and has some new flavors added to it. This recipe can easily be doubled so give this a try at your next barbeque! Sorry about the picture. I had to crop it because I took the picture after half of it was gone and it just looked funny in the big bowl half empty!
Grilled Corn Salad
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
4 ears fresh corn, husks removed
1 red bell pepper, roasted (can use from jar)
½ red onion diced
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chopped parsley (optional)
Brush corn with olive oil on all sides. Sprinkle w/ salt & pepper, reserve extra oil. While grilling corn (directly on grill), chop onion, parsley, and red pepper. Combine in a bowl. Add lemon & lime juice. When corn is cooked (should have char marks) remove kernels w/ a knife and add to bowl. Add the rest of oil and adjust seasonings. Add more oil if needed.