Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Product of the Month: Cordless Table Lamps, Set of 2

I have been interested in getting cordless lamps ever since I first saw them on Instagram. I have long wanted to have lamps on my dining table as a modern change from candles. When I spotted these, at such an amazingly good price considering that you get two of them, I couldn’t resist. I am a happy camper! I have tried them in the guest bathroom, on a shelf, in a dark corner of the kitchen, and the dining table, as you can see in the photos, and they work absolutely everywhere. As far as placement, you are only limited by your imagination.  They can add a subtle glow, or a more dramatic lighting effect to anything in your home to which you would like to draw attention.
The bases are heavy and the lamps are sturdy, so they will not easily tip over. You also have the choice of three different levels of lighting: warm light, warm white light, and white light. Once charged (5-6 hours) these can be used continuously for 10-25 hours, depending upon the chosen level of brightness. With the days getting shorter, and cooler weather moving in (eventually), nothing charms like the subtle glow of atmospheric lighting. I cannot say enough about these, that's why they are my product of the month. 
You can find them here.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Zucchini Cornbread Casserole

It is officially fall; can you believe it? I don’t know about you, but I find the passage of time to be rather shocking. At any rate, it’s best to enjoy every day as well as we can, and that includes good food. I made a big pot of chili over the weekend, and wanted to have something to serve alongside. I wanted a side dish, and yet not a side dish, something more like bread, but not. Tall order, no? Enter the Zucchini Cornbread Casserole! This came as a result of my having purchased a zucchini, forgotten why, and then desperately trying to use it before it got slick. Some things, it would seem, work out just fine.
Zucchini Cornbread Casserole

 2 large eggs

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. cumin

1 t. kosher salt

1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

1 large zucchini, grated, not drained

1 large Melissa’s shallot, diced

1 Melissa’s pickled jalapeño, diced, seeds removed

1 14.25-oz. can corn, drained

1 15-oz. box Famous Dave’s Original Recipe cornbread mix

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

1 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

 Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8” x 8” glass baking dish with PAM; set aside.

 In a large mixing bowl whisk together eggs and seasonings. Stir in zucchini, shallot, jalapeño, corn, cornbread mix, and the cheddar cheese. Blend thoroughly to moisten all ingredients, but do not over mix. Turn out into prepared baking, smooth top, dish and top with the shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Bake for 50-55 minutes until the top is golden.

 Serve with soup, stew, chili, or devour it all on its own.  It’s great with a drizzle of hot honey.

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Monday, September 25, 2023

Easy Steak Modiga

Is Steak Modiga just a Saint Louis thing? I ask because there are a lot of recipes for this dish online, most of which have a St. Louis connection. We have a wonderful Italian community here in the St. Louis metro, and a lot of good restaurants, many of which serve this delicious dish. I shared a recipe for it some time ago from one of my favorite restaurants, Favazza’s, that you can find that here. That recipe, although delicious, is a bit involved. I was in desperate mood for a filet mignon, and decided I was going to take all of the recipes for Steak Modiga that I had, and compact them into something quick and simple. This is it. Not only is it company worthy, but you can have it on the table in under 30 minutes. I served mine with a salad and a roll, if you want to serve yours with rice, or a baked potato, you’ll have to start both of those things before you start your steak.
Easy Steak Modiga

 2 T. olive oil, divided

1 c. Italian breadcrumbs

Montreal Steak Seasoning

4 6-oz. filet mignon​s

2 T. butter

112 t. Melissa’s minced garlic

4 oz. sliced mushrooms

2 T. flour

1 c. chicken stock

¼ c. dry white wine

1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

18 t. salt, to taste

18 t. freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ c. heavy cream

4-6 ounces provel cheese*, room temperature

​Preheat oven to 400°​F. Rub steaks with 1 T. oil, dredge in breadcrumbs, and sprinkle with steak seasoning; set aside for 5 minutes.

 Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a 12” oven-safe non-stick skillet over medium/high heat until oil is shimmering. Place steaks in skillet and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Flip steaks and brown reverse side for about 3 more minutes. 

Leave steaks in pan, place in oven and roast until meat registers 120° to 125° (for medium rare), 4-7 minutes.

 While steaks are cooking place a sauté pan over medium-low heat, add butter. When butter melts, add garlic; cook just until it becomes fragrant, about 90 seconds. Add mushrooms; cook 1 minute. Sprinkle in flour; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

 Gradually stir in chicken stock, wine, and lemon juice; add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Remove sauce from heat; set aside and keep warm.

Place each steak on a serving plate and cover with one-fourth of the provel; cover with warm sauce and serve immediately.

 *This is a St. Louis thing. IYKYN. You can substitute provolone.

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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Grape Expectations Tablescape

I so much enjoyed putting together my last table that I decided to bring forward many of the same elements, the table covering in particular. But even though it looks very similar to my last table, there are more differences than you might imagine at first glance.

First of all, I used Bordallo Pinheiro geranium leaf chargers as a base. On top of that, I have plates by Tabletops Unlimited in their “Bora-Bora” pattern, the center design hidden by the Tabletops Unlimited salad plates in their “Provincial Grapes” pattern. I kept the green napkins, but instead of plascing them next to the plate, I decided to tie a knot and place them on top of the plate.
Focusing more on black in this table than I did in the last one where I used the same table topper, I chose mirrored black flatware. Glassware here is by La Rochere. 
I’ve scattered the greenery and grapes from last week’s table across the top of this one and added a pair of lanterns with Merlot colored candles.
 A nod to my mother comes via the use of her pewter pitcher.
Crescent shaped pressed glass salad plates add a bit of sparkle to the table.
This week, like last, Italian food will be served, I have chosen Italian salad and Cavatappi with Pesto. Bon Appetit!

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 This post is linked to: Tablescape Thursday

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Barraquito Cocktail

Mention tiramisu, liquid or otherwise, and you have my attention. When Richard Ayoade said that the Barraquito cocktail that he sampled in the ‘Tenerife’ episode of his show, “Travel Man” tasted like liquid tiramisu, I knew I had to try it. I wanted mine to be authentic, so I hunted down a bottle Licor 43, found a nice set of clear coffee mugs, and set to work.

It takes a talented bartender to produce the five layers that this fabulously good tasting dessert cocktail is supposed to have. I wasn’t so lucky. My numerous attempts nearly put me into a stupor, so I figured that I should be satisfied with just three. The ingredients are placed into the cup (or tall, heat-resistant shooter glass, if you prefer) in the order listed. Even slowly drizzling the espresso down the side, I couldn’t get it to layer with the Licor 43 no matter how hard I tried. It’s well worth making no matter how it turns out. Serve it on a saucer with a dessert spoon so that the imbiber can give it a good stir before savoring each sip. It’s dessert in a cup.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Levain Bakery Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Copycat

I’ve got to be honest with you, prior to making these cookies I had never heard of Levain Bakery. Apparently it’s quite popular, their cookie recipes sought after. I was simply in the mood for oatmeal raisin cookies, but didn’t want to trouble myself to make my favorite recipe because of all of the rolling of dough into balls, then dipping into sugar prior to baking. These are very good, and fairly easy to put together. I made them smaller than the dinner plate-size cookies they make to sell in their store because I wasn’t prepared to have such large cookies. I think this size is absolutely perfect. You get a wonderful ratio of dough, raisins, and walnuts, in a delicious handheld dessert.

 Levain Bakery Oatmeal Raisin Cookies Copycat

 1 c. cold butter, cubed

1 c. + 2 T. brown sugar

½ c. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

½ c. cake flour

2 c. all-purpose flour

1½ c. rolled oats

1 t. cornstarch

¾ t. baking soda

½ t. salt

½ t. cinnamon

1½ c. raisins

1 c. chopped walnuts

 Preheat oven to 410°F.

 In the work bowl of a stand mixer cream together cold butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add cake flour, all-purpose flour, oats, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and stir until combined. Stir in raisins and walnuts.

 Chill dough for 15 minutes.

 Using an ice cream scoop, place six portions of dough on a lightly colored cookie sheet. Lightly press on top of dough to flatten and smooth.

 Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Let rest for at least 10-15 minutes to set before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

 Yield: 18 cookies

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Monday, September 18, 2023

Happy National Cheeseburger Day!

It is National Cheeseburger Day, and I plan on celebrating in fine fashion. It won’t be difficult because, cheeseburger fan that I am, I have plenty of recipes from which to choose from traditional, to restaurant-style, to a sloppy joe version, even cheeseburger soup! To get the recipe for any or all of these cheeseburger variations, click the link under the photo. Don’t just sit there, grab your buns and join me. Cheeseburger Casserole Sirloin Burgers with Pimiento Cheese Animal Style Burgers Cheeseburger Soup  Cheeseburger with Apple Bacon Relish  Slow Cooker Chili Cheeseburger Soup

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Dinner in the Vineyard Tablescape

As I mentioned a number of months ago, I have challenged myself to take one (or more) items from one week’s tablescape to include in my next tablescape. Because the last one differed greatly in both color and style, the only thing that I was able to bring forward was the Mikasa hammered “Opulent” flatware. This table is one of my favorites of all I’ve created this year. In my attempt at organizing, I ran across this beautiful fabric that I bought more than a decade ago (for what purpose I have no idea), and it was my inspiration. I turned it into a table topper, and went from there.
 I did not use any placemats because I wanted as much of the tablecloth to show through as possible. In keeping with the Italian theme table covering, the charger plates are ceramic imports from Italy. They are topped with square black dinner plates on which I have placed square plates in a grape pattern from Tabletops Unlimited (their “Cabernet” pattern).
I picked up the color of the grapes in the glassware; the water glasses in a beautiful shade of green are by Villeroy & Boch, the purple goblets I found here.I chose green napkins from Urban Villa, and really liked the look. The cups and saucers, in mint green, are some of my favorites. I enjoy my morning cappuccino in one every day.
 The three-tiered tray in the center of the table was purchased years ago from a local furniture store that, sadly, went out of business about 15 years ago.  It was called Oak Tree Furniture, and I still miss it.
Faux grapes and greenery fill all three sections of the tray, as well as the deep purple votives that I also have at each place setting.Some bottles of wine from a local Vintner will be enjoyed during the meal, as well light from the flickering candle in the Chianti bottle.
Italian food will be served at this table, more than likely Steak Modiga*, a personal favorite.

 *Recipe coming soon!

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This post is linked to: Tablescape Thursday

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Purple Rain Cocktail

Just when I think I have discovered my favorite cocktail, I make something new, and then it becomes my favorite cocktail. Today I enjoyed this beautiful (much prettier than it is in the picture) cocktail called Purple Rain. It is so delightful that you’ll no doubt want to imbibe more than you probably should. Pace yourself!

 It’s important, if the color is of great concern to you, that you use cranberry juice as opposed to cranberry juice cocktail. Cranberry juice cocktail does not have the depth of color that cranberry juice does. If that’s all that you have on hand, and find that your cocktail is more blue than you’d like, you can add a few drops of red food coloring until you get the color that you desire. As always, pin the top photo, and you’ll have the recipe forever.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Jalapeño Cheese Bread ABM

The Saturday before last, I spent all of the morning and a part of the afternoon making a sandwich. I often wonder where the time goes; this pretty much explains it. As I mentioned last week, I had succumbed to a lobster tail sale at the local market, buying three of them, deciding to turn one into a lobster grilled cheese sandwich that I had seen on Instagram. Essentially, I just watched and put it together, not listening to the sound, so I didn’t realize that the suggested bread for the sandwich was jalapeño cheese. That involved an online search for a recipe (that I found on that I ultimately adapted, because rather than bake the bread in the bread maker and end up with a giant bread cube, I decided to use the dough cycle and bake it in a loaf pan. I altered the recipe a bit using pickled jalapeños because they have more flavor, as well as adding a little bit of Old Bay. This bread is wonderful for sandwiches, and it makes excellent toast at breakfast.
Jalapeño Cheese Bread

 1 T. olive oil

10 oz. warm water

2 Melissa’s pickled jalapeños, seeded and chopped

1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 c. bread flour

¾ t. salt

1/8 t. Old Bay seasoning

1 T. sugar

2½ t. Bread Machine yeast

 Place ingredients into the work bowl of your bread machine (I have this one.) in the order suggested by the manufacturer. (I have listed the ingredients in the order suggested by mine.) Set machine on “dough” setting and press “start.”  When machine has completed the dough making process (usually 90 minutes), place dough in greased 9” x 5” loaf pan; let rise until doubled, 45-60 minutes. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.

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Friday, September 8, 2023

Lobster Grilled Cheese

It’s funny how one small thing can snowball into a day's worth of work. I succumbed to a sale on lobster tails at my local market. I bought three of them, and when I got home, I wondered what the heck I was going to do with these. The first one I cooked in the air fryer. Lobster perfection. The second I turned into lobster salad, also delicious. The third I used in a grilled cheese sandwich, unusual, right? I had read an article about a guy who made a lobster grilled cheese sandwich, and being a fan of both lobster and grilled cheese I wanted to give it a try. The bread that this concoction was on was jalapeño cheese bread, so before I could even make my sandwich, I had to bake a loaf of bread. Honestly, it took me until 2 o’clock in the afternoon (I’d arisen at 8 AM) to make one sandwich.  It was a good one, even though for the most part, it was a breeze to put together. I’ve heard that sourdough is a tasty replacement for the jalapeño cheese bread, so if you’re interested in trying this, I would certainly consider going that route.

Lobster Grilled Cheese 

 1 6-oz. lobster tail, diced

2-3 T. butter

2 T. garlic paste

Old Bay seasoning

Fresh chopped parsley

Jalapeno Cheese Bread

2 slices Havarti cheese

2 slices smoked Gouda cheese

 Place a medium-size pan over medium high heat. Add butter and garlic paste. Once the butter has melted down and blended with the garlic paste, add diced lobster meat. Season to taste with Old Bay seasoning and parsley.

 After your lobster has finished cooking, set mixture aside.

 Place two slices of bread into a heated pan with a bit of melted butter, placing two slices of Havarti cheese on one half and two slices of smoked Gouda on the other. Then place reserved lobster mixture on top of one piece of bread, topping with the remaining piece. Toast until golden brown and cheese is melted.

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