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Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding and the Royal Dog (me)

Not sure if anybody appreciates how important it is to be invited to be on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during a once in a lifetime ceremony, but in case you aren't sure, let me clarify. It was an honor to be included and I totally was not expecting it! Respecting their Royal Highnesses' I did not wear my crown (don't want to upstage the bride). But there I am, witnessing history. As I stated earlier, my job today was to be the critic of the food choices at the wedding, and that's what this post is about. So take another look at me with the
royal couple before you soak in the real "meat" of this post. Aren't I darling? Kate looks good. But me....SO CUTE.
Ok, so:
On the menu for the wedding breakfast was:
Cornish Crab Salad on Lemoni Blini
Scottish Smoked Salmon Rose on Beetroot Blini
Pressed Duck Terrine with Fruit Chutney
Miniature Watercress and Asparagus Tart
Quail Eggs with Celery Salt
Miniature Yorkshire Pudding with Roast Fillet of Beef and Horesradish
Assortment of Palmiers and Cheese Straws

Ok....yuck. The duck thing was good. I like duck. I can get the yorkshire pudding stuff at home on any given Sunday since my Uncle Jim cookes it all the time. I'm not into Blini. I might be if I knew what it was. Watercress? What is THAT? Quail eggs....ummmm, no. I do admit the cheese straws weren't bad.
Did you notice the picture of me and the royal couple on the balcony? Do you think I should have worn a more ornate collar? Perhaps a hat with a pretzel on top of it like Princess Beatrice? I think I looked pretty good. Although it's unfortunate in that shot I wasn't even looking at Kate and Wills. I was looking at one of the Queen's Corgi's who looked particularly handsome. If you must know, he and I snuck away half way through breakfast and went and had some of our own royal breakfast. And let me assure you, there was no Science Diet Light involved.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What? Nobody is coming home to let me out?

Did I just read that my mother is living it up on gourmet delivery service and I am home waiting for her? Eating DOG FOOD?

Where is the justice? I plan to bark loudly when she gets home and wake up the whole house. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr

Take Out Taxi

In California, we have Waiters-On-Wheels. Here in Illinois the food delivery service of choice is called "Take Out Taxi". At my office we have been pretty much living on Take Out Taxi ever since March 11, 2011 when the Tsunami hit Japan and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant became a disaster on par with Chernobyl. Lunch today was from California Pizza Kitchen and I got my usual (lettuce wraps). They are so good....

Tonight is going to be a late night at the office and dinner is coming in 30 minutes. I chose a different place called Jimmy's Grill in downtown Naperville. So Take Out Taxi will pick up the to go order, and bring it to our office. All for a small delivery fee.

This morning when I asked my boss what he wanted from CPK he enthusiastically said FISH TACOS! and then he decided to change his mind as he didn't want the office to smell all fishy all afternoon.

Tonight, however, he is not as restrained. Jimmy's Grill also has Fish Taco's and he's going for it! I guess the longer the day wears on, the less we care if it smells fishy. If we have to stay here until all hours of the night, bring on the fish!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Key Wester -- gone but not forgotten

So the other day my niece called me as I was getting into my car to go home from the office. She herself was driving home from Downers Grove and she invited me to meet her for sushi on Route 59 at Nagoyo (see previous blog). I gladly accepted and detoured my route home to meet her at Nagoya. This brought me down Route 59 when I normally would have taken Eola. Much to my surprise, I noticed that the Key Wester (owned by Portillos but a sensation in it's own right) was being dismantled. At first I thought it was storm damage (looked like a tornado had struck part of the building). I googled it when I got home only to find out that a few months ago they suddenly shut their doors. After like 15 years (or more?) of a fabulous restaurant that has memories dear to my heart, they closed. It's the economy and the fact that people just don't splurge out like they used to. I have so many memories of the Key Wester. The first one that comes to mind is when my mother died. Tom and I flew to Illinois and the following night we went there with my brother and my niece (mentioned above).

I think I was still in shock when this one was taken. But even before that, my friends and I used to go there to

Naperville will not be the same. The Key Wester being demolished is just a symbol of how my old life has been demolished. I need to make new memories. I am glad I can make them with Shelley.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An ice cream that I have no clue about

But it sounded so good when Shelley talked about it, I must run out and get some. Well, not tonight...but maybe tomorrow? It's sweet and salty and if it's good enough for Jimmy Falon, it's good enough for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Royal Dog

Guess who has been named as the official dog to comment on the food being served at Kate and Williams wedding? Yes, it's true. It's me. Betsy Lou Smego. You can call me HRH Elizabeth Louise Smego. I think it might be my german heritage (I share that with William, or "Wills" as I call him). I will be reporting from London after the royal wedding and let you know about all the food. Please don't feel you need to courtsey when you meet me. Although that would be appreciated.

I can't wait!!

No such thing as too much sushi

Nagoya. Route 59 in Naperville in the same parking lot as Walmart. Be there. If you are a sushi lover (and what really respectable human being isn't?) you owe it to yourself. Normally I would shy away from an all you can eat sushi bar that's in Chicago (i.e., not near an ocean) but these guys really bring it. At dinner, for $19.95 per person (the price of some appetizers at other sushi restaurants) you can get access to a sushi buffet that contains: hibatchi, sashimi, sushi, crab legs, oysters, chinese cuisine, salad, dessert....I could go on and on...SO GOOD AND FRESH. So worth $19.95.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

This is me, as usual....

Waiting to get a bite of prime rib. And guess what? I got one! NuWave's are even good for dogs. If they behave. Bailey didn't sit good on the carpet and wait and she might not get any. Poor Bailey. Tee hee....

NuWave Style Prime Rib!

The official definition of the NuWave oven is this: Cook quick! NuWave's ovens cook 50% faster than conventional ovens due to a 3-way patented method that uses infrared, conduction and convection heating for tender, evenly browned meals.

So you faithful blog followers (yes, I am talking to both of you) know that my brother (much older than me) turned 50 last week AND that he is a fussy, gourmet cook. My niece bravely purchased this for him and he's been experimenting with huge success all week. Tonight -- prime rib. Who's brave enough to put a 5lb prime rib in this? Jim Raine, that's who.

The photos here are of the process along the way, along with my finished plate (strawberry pattern and all):

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Go Banana's!

So I was craving Banana Bread and Nancy found an easy looking recipe (Banana Banana Bread) on (a great shared recipe site.)

I tweaked it a bit because it seemed like it might need more flavor and I have to say it turned out to be a yummy B-Bread!  I preferred it cold vs. hot which is really odd, but it is what it is.


2 Cups plus 4 Tablespoons Cake Flour - All purpose flour is fine, but use only 2 Cups
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2  tsp. Salt
1/2 cup softened butter
4 ripe Banana's
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/2 Sugar
2 Eggs - Room Temperature
1 tsp. Vanilla


Add Walnuts, Cranberries or Chocolate Chips as desired.
Can be poured into mini loafs or muffin tins...Adjust baking time as needed.


Preheat oven to 350 and grease a loaf pan.
In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl mash banana's together with butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until well mixed.
Fold in dry mixture until well incorporated.

Pour into bread pan and bake for 50 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
Remove from oven and place on rack to cool.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's a miracle...a dog food miracle!

Even though I don't think she's crazy about me, my Aunt Paige is my favorite Aunt. She works at Banfield Vet at PetsMart and because of that, Mom took me there today. We sorta just wanted to get out of the house and peek in on what Paige was doing. Well...Eureka!!!!!!!!!!! This lady was walking around the store selling dog food and you will never guess that Mom actually bought me something new. Yes, she did. Yes!!! she did!!! She did. I swear.

It went down like this: this woman stopped to admire how darn cute I am and of course Mom was eating it up and talking to her. Next thing you know, we're in the dog food aisle and this woman is talking Mom into a food that the vet recommends because it has glucosamine for special dogs like me who have had bad backs and now has a bad hip. She told Mom to mix it with my Science Diet Lite at first and then ween me off SDL onto the new food. Ha ha ha....I fooled all of them. I spent a good 15 minutes picking out the little SDL chunks and just eating the new food which is really, really yummy. I like it so much they put my photo on the bag.

Life is good. Until I get sick of this food. I'll report back.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Soups On!

You know it's been raining in Nor*Cal for what seems like 142 day now...Okay, that is clearly an exaggeration, but, when you miss the sun it certainly seems much longer than it actually is.  One of the few things that I can take comfort in when its gray and gloomy is Winter Food.  You know what I mean the homey, gut warming foods that your mom made.  To me Winter Food are entrees like meatloaf, spaghetti, pot roast and mashed potatoes and of course stews and soups.

I decided to head to the Nugget Market for dinner because I had had a big lunch and because I didn't want to cook.  Something warm and already made sounded great.  I entered the store and picked up some fresh fruit and then headed over to the deli and bakery.  I wandered past the chinese kitchen and wrinkled my nose, I mozied past the sushi and decided no, I glanced at the salad bar and the hot baked items and nothing was screaming "take me home."  Then as I was turning the corner for the bakery I glanced at the soup bar. 

OMG, YES!  Soup is exactly what I didn't even know I wanted!  My little happy place got happier and everything was shiny again.  I wanted to sing out loud but of course I was still in the store so I contained the excitement to the inside and just giggled a little maniacally.

As luck would have it the Nugget had a huge steaming pot of Chicken Noodle, and let me tell ya I love me some chicken noodle soup!  I grabbed a half pint container and ladeled a really fragrant soup with thick noodles and chunks of chicken and veggies.  Then I grabbed a rustic demi baguette and headed home.  Don't worry I paid first...

I got home and sliced some of the baguette and added some strawberries to my plate and let me tell you people it was uber yumminess.  The chicken noodle had a nice base soup that was not too thick but not watery.  There were carrots, celery and onion,, the noodles were perfect and the chicken was tender.  Pulling it all together was oregano and maybe sage and certainly salt and pepper. 

 I don't know what the Nugget puts into thier soups but I have enjoyed every one that I have tried and this was no exception.  So, if you are ever get that 142 rainy day feeling I suggest a lovely Winter Meal from the Nugget soup kitchen (or your local market) that only costs about $5.00 and is sure to drive those blues away.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another Weekend, Another Burger...

Another quick and tasty burger from the Food A Go-Go kitchens.  The provolone cheese, double onion ciabatta burger.


1 lb. ground beef

Deli sliced Provolone cheese

1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

2 tsp. Onion Powder

1 tsp. cracked Pepper

1 tbs. Powdered Ground Mustard

1 tsp. Liquid Smoke

1 fresh loaf Ciabatta bread

1 Tomato (optional)

1 Bag of Seneca Crisped Onions

Mayo and Ketchup to taste


Set ground beef out until it reaches room temperature.  In a bowl add beef, mustard, liquid smoke, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Mix well and form patties to the size you prefer; monster or slider.

Heat skillet to medium high heat and thinly coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil.  Place the burgers into pan and cook about 3 - 4 minutes per side for medium rare burgers.  Of course grilling works great too!

When you flip the burgers wait one minute and then add the provolone cheese, this gives it time to melt thoroughly.

Remove burgers and allow them to rest for a minute or two, while they are resting place slices of ciabatta bread face down in pan and toast to desired warmth.

Spread mayo and ketchup on the ciabatta bread and add tomatoes, then pile with onion crisps and top with the burger. 

Take plenty of napkins with you to the table and enjoy scarfing this bad boy!  Oh, and remember to give me your feedback, I would love to know what you think.


There is nothing small about Starbucks Petites

Everyone knows I love coffee.  In fact I love it so very much that I carry the unofficial title of "Coffee Whore."  I start every morning with a double espresso and follow it up a couple of hours later with an Iced Mocha...And, sometimes another espresso.  Occasionally, I have a small cup at home in the afternoon.  Shut Up, Don't Judge Me!!!  I quit smoking, I quit drinking and I quit other illegal substances, so I will drink as much coffee as I want dammit! 

Errrrrm, I apologize the large amounts of caffeine sometimes make me a little edgy and obnoxious...

Sooooo anyway I really enjoy coffee, and I love, Love, LOVE Starbucks coffee.  I have a Starbucks just about every day.  It's not that I don't enjoy other coffees, in fact Peet's Major Dickason's blend is my abso fav of all time.  But, as much as people complain about a Starbucks on every corner the truth is that there IS a Starbucks on every corner.  I know where they are, I know the best times to go and I feel like family when the barista's greet me by name, so Starbucks is the choice of this over caffinated blogger. 

As much as I love Starbucks coffee I generally don't eat the food at Starbucks, I have found that the "food" is generally like eating cardboard, flavorless and dry.  However, the sweets at Starbucks are pretty tasty treats and thier latest offerings really hit the mark for me.   Starbucks Petites are bite sized desserts but they are not small on appeal or flavor.

The above picture is of a few of the new treats; clockwise from bottom left is carrot cake,salted caramel bar, lemon square and a rocky road cake pop. The entire menu includes cake pops in three flavors (tiramisu, birthday cake and rocky road) and tiny cakes such as lemon, red velvet, carrot and a few regional flavors all of which run $1.50 each with a second treat for only $1.00 

I really enjoyed all of these petite treats, but lemme tell ya the salted caramel was absolutely divine!  The cake pop was much like a brownie which I am NOT complaining about, I loved it.  The lemon was good, but not the best ever and the carrot was tasty, light and sweet.  I enjoyed these enough to want to try other flavors and I think the concept is brilliant because I often just want a small bite of sweet when I enjoy my coffee.

Take it from this over caffeinated, sarcastic Coffee Whore, Starbucks petites are small in size, small in price and big on flavor and smiles.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Campaigning for a new dog food...please vote for me

If you are a fan of our blog, and let's face it, who isn' know me. I am Betsy Lou. The dog who gets Science Diet Light every night of her life. I am so bored with it I could bark. Well, I am asking for your help. Please send a message to my mom (Taste of Chicago) and ask her to try Blue dog food. It's organic. And it looks tasty. Tell her I promise not to beg for treats if she buys me this food. It's supposed to make me live longer (and actually WANT to because I'm eating interesting food).
I will be eternally greatful for your support. I won't even bark at you when you come over if I can get your support.
Help a dog out?

Stop Worrying...Start Wine-ing

GoRoma. It's an Italian place near my office who caters and they are fabulous. Not only do they bring free lunches (Tilapia for me and my co-worker today) to the people who order, but they deliver plenty of fresh, hot, fantastic Italian food. Luckily for me, half the people didn't show up for our focus group today which means there's enough left over food in our refridgerator right now to feed a small army. Not sure if they are a local only type establishment.

We have tonight: Salad. Breadsticks. Cheese Ravioli. Rigatoni. Fettucini Alfredo. Cookies. Of course you know that I will not eat this. It's all for Jim and/or Paige. LOL. Yeah, ok.
I can say that now because I am full from nibbling all day. The Tilapia was so so so good. Smothered in a garlic butter and lemon sauce. With spinach on the side. I will order from them again the first time the opportunity presents itself. Odds are, in about 3 hours I'll be raiding the fridge. :(

Friday, March 04, 2011

Buono Beef Parmesan Chips

I had these chips when PETE brought them home one night. They were fantastic. At my new job, we cater from Buono Beef often and there are sometimes leftover chips if we are lucky. They are incredible! Like each chip was hand dipped into oil and then lightly seasoned in salt, pepper and parmesan. I wish I could find a picture of these on line. I fear I may have to go there myself and order some (incredibly priced at only $1.75 for a full bag) just to take a photo.

In fact, I accept that challenge. I will do it ASAP... It's all for the good of the blog.

Monday, February 28, 2011

And the red red robin goes bob-bob-bobbin along....

Recently a friend of mine from Colorado asked me if we had a Red Robin near us. We do! It's less than a mile away! He got me to thinking...I love a good burger. Red Robin claims to have gourmet burgers. Do they? Speed ahead a week or two...after I ponder this almost every time I get a hunger pain. Finally, it erupts. I am home alone on Saturday and I am starving. Several times I look at the online menu of Red Robin....I cannot resist any longer. I make the phone call and get myself dressed (a feat in and of itself these days). I drive the .4 miles to Red Robin and pick up a Blue Ribbon Burger. It was HUGE. Even by my standards. I suppose that if I had not ordered Onion Ring stacker appetizer I could have finished it all. As it is, I am happy to have split it with my niece. I will never again drive past Red Robin without having the urge to turn in.

Yummy....and very reasonably priced. For about $2.00 more than Burger King, you get a real gourmet original masterpiece. I rest my case.

Danelli's Pizzeria -- OMG!!!!

Ok, people...if you are in the market for a romantic evening and positvely fantastic pizza...go to Danelli's Ristorante family owned place in Oswego, IL! It's quaint and charming and reasonably priced. Not to mention delicious!!!!!! They specialize in a homemade chicken garlic pizza that is to die for. They pay attention to every guest, as it's a small and intimate setting. I was there with my my friends Steve and Mary, so it wasn't as romantic as it could have been...but don't let that hold you back. I'm sure Steve and Mary found it more romantic than I did. We had a great experience and fabulous atmosphere. On top of all that, we got free dessert. What more could you ask?

A Special Tribute to the one and only PETE!!!

It's really with a heavy heart that I write this post. My world-famous dining companion PETE passed away on February 22, 2011. I can honestly say that I hope he's in Red Lobster Heaven enjoying as many shots of Jack Daniel's as he wants and a perfectly cooked Sailor's Platter. On February 23, about 40 of our family and friends gathered at Bucca DiBeppo to celebrate the extraordinary life of PETE! We ate, drank, and told PETE stories all night.

We had fantastic Italian food in the Frank Sinatra room. There was even a photo of Wheel of Fortune on the wall. PETE loved that show! I will never again pass a Red Lobster or an Olive Garden without remembering PETE. I am absolutely assured of one thing...wherever he is, he's arguing over the price of the bill. Rest in peace, PETE. I love you!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Blue-Tastic!

Are you tired of the same old boring ground beef?  Do the kids groan out loud when you tell them it's Meatloaf again?  Does the thought of hamburger helper make you throw up a little in your mouth?

Do you want a decent hamburger but cringe at the thought of shelling out $30.00, $40.00, $50.00, or more, for dinner?  Don't give in and don't give up.

Introducing, The Blue-Tastic, the all new super easy Food A Go-Go solution to making an amazing kicked up burger, right at home, for under $20.00 for a family of four!


1 lb. ground beef (FYI - hamburgers should have some fat left in them because fat adds to the flavor of the meat.  A hamburger that is too lean can be bland and dry.  Try using a beef that is 80 - 85% lean vs. 90 - 93%).

1 small package of your favorite Blue Cheese (I used Point Reyes Original Blue).

1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

1 tsp. cracked Pepper

1 tbs. French's Mustard

1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke

1 Four-pack of Hamburger Buns, or slider buns if you wish to make bite size burgers.

1 Tomato (optional)

1 Onion (optional)

Mayo to taste


Set ground beef out until it reaches room temperature.  In a bowl add beef, mustard, liquid smoke, salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Heat skillet to medium high heat and coat bottom of pan with vegetable oil.  Place burgers into pan and cook about 3 minutes per side for medium rare burgers.

When you flip the burgers wait one minute and then add the blue cheese, this gives it time to melt thoroughly.

Spread mayo on bun and add tomato and onion, top with burger and let sit one minute to absorb the juices.

Viola, an amazing gourmet burger your family will love and all for under $20.00  The Blue-Tastic, you will never pay those high restaurant burger prices again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Beef's what's for dinner!

If I never said it before, I'm saying it now. Living with my brother has definite perks. The man is a genius in the kitchen. He should have his own show on the Food Channel. Tonight he outdid himself and that's a pretty high bar he had to surpass. He made beef wellington, mushrooms, and asparagas. If I thought that I was full last night, I was mistaken. NOW I am full. I can't even tell you how he made it because when I tried to help I was told to get the hell out of his kitchen...gotta love that! These photos are an in progress photo (pre-being-thrown out of the kitchen) and the other is obviously the finished product. And now I must explode.

It's called a doggie bag for a reason

Maggiano's is a very dog friendly place. They serve enough food to even bring some home for the most special members of the family. I'm not eating Science Diet Light tonight! Thank you, PETE for turning 75 and going out for your birthday. Thank you, Mom, for bringing some home to me. And thank you Shells for creating this blog. (Oh, and God bless God for making spaghetti).

PETE turns 75 in a big way!

If you read this blog, you know PETE. Wednesday will be PETE's 75th birthday!!!! We wanted to take him somewhere special (that did not serve a Sailor's Platter). My niece and I decided upon Maggiano's. If you've never had the experience of Maggiano's Family Style dining, then you haven't lived. Everything at Maggiano's is over the top big. There's nothing skimpy about their servings. On the family style menu you order two appetizers, two salads, four entrees, and two desserts. I was full after the salad. However, I did manage to taste three of the four entrees. And then dessert. And then also part of PETE's special chocolate cake. And cappuccino. My brother commented that he didn't know how Maggiano's manages to pack so many people into one room and still meet the fire code. It's true, the place is a mad house. Our server, Michelle, managed to make us feel that we were the only people she cared about. She even flirted with PETE and let me tell you, he flirted right back. We brought enough food home to feed all 9 of us again today. However, I am still full from last night.

So, our menu included Calamari and Bruchetta for the appetizers. I know Shelley is the Calamari queen, and I would like her opinion on Maggiano's calamari if she's ever had it. I thought it was good, but it lacked the sauce that I am used to with it. They only gave us some marinara sauce that I just skipped. The salad we had was a basic chopped salad and a kick-ass Caesar salad. I asked for anchovies on the side and they brought me a truck load of them. I was sitting between my niece and my son and I had to hear about how disgusting they were, but to me it made the whole salad. For the entrees we had Chicken Saltimbocca which is a lightly breaded chicken breast topped with fresh sage, prosciutto and provolone cheese and served in a garlic white wine sauce with carmelized onions. It's served with angel hair aglio olio. It was INCREDIBLE. We also ordered Coach Joey Z's Angel Hair Pasta with Sausage, Parmesan-crusted Tilapia and Four Cheese Ravioli. I didn't taste the sausage dish but I would recommend any of the other dishes.

Dessert was a whole 'nother adventure. NY style cheesecake with fresh berries and whipped cream? CHECK. Tiramisu soaked in espresso and coffee liqueur layed with Mascarpone, dusted with cocoa powder and served with chocolate shavings? CHECK. Chocolate Zuccotto cake with sambuca chocolate mousse, iced with chocolate frosting and dusted with cocoa powder? CHECK.

They had to roll me out to the car.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Catal in Downtown Disney

Hmmm, so my experience at Catal was at first annoying, then promising and then ended really, really badly. 

The Bon and I hit Catal on the last night we were in L.A., It was an extremely cold evening and Bon and I wanted to sit inside for dinner.  Now, Catal is unique in that it boasts three eating areas; a lovely second story fine dining area, an inside more casual restaurant and an outside area known as the UVA Bar.  The casual restaurant and UVA bar have a different menu than the second story dining area.

The hostess was no where to be found when we approached the restaurant so we stepped inside and huddled with several other groups in what turns out was the food prep area of the restaurant.  Very weird!  The servers were prepping plates right next to us and we all had to move several times as they took food out to the patrons of the restaurant.

The hostess finally arrived and told us it was a several hour wait for the restaurant.  Since we didn't want to wait (and we really weren't dressed for the fine dining) so, Bon and I put on our Big Girl pants and braved the cold and opted to sit at the Bar outside. 

This Bar would be really fun in the Summer (it was really beautiful all lit up at night) but, unfortunately this night it was just really cold.   Bon and I looked over the menu, huddled near the closest heater and decided to go with the idea we had had at the House of Blues to split an app and a main dish and we ordered the Calamari and the UVA Burger.

The Calamari was simply divine.  It was a baby calamari that was battered with a chickpea flour for the crust and served with fried basil leaves, a spicy harissa aioli for dipping and fresh lemon.  A really outstanding presentation and so flavorful I could have just ordered another plate (or two) for dinner.  Bon and I truly enjoyed this dish which ran about $12.00

Bonnie tried a few adult beverages (lemon drops I think) and she seemed to enjoy them.  The Bartenders were really pleasant at first but the experience turned bad quickly when the burger arrived.  The Uva Burger was described in the menu as a beef burger with caramlized onion-applewood smoked bacon relish, fresh arugula and Gruyere cheese for $15.00

Bonnie and I had ordered the burger medium rare with no relish.  The burger came cut in half (which was nice) but had thousand island dressing (with relish) on it.  I would have scraped the dressing off but Bonnie said she wouldn't eat it so we apologized profusely and we asked the Bartender to have another one made...NO RELISH PLEASE. 

The Bartender punched in the order and shortly (very shortly) another burger came out...It not only had relish but it was bloody rare.  Now, I usually enjoy rare meat but Bonnie was gaking, and I don't blame her, I mean it was seriously just warmed before it was served...It was basically raw meat. 

Now, at this point I looked at the Bartenders who were watching Bonnie and I and I swear they were waiting for our reaction.  On a side note, I simply don't trust any cooks that I piss off by sending food back, so when the Bartenders asked if anything was wrong my survival instinct kicked in.  Okay, I admit it! I am already a freak about sending food back and there was no way I was sending the burger back again.  I told the Bartender that there was again relish on the burger but that I would eat it anyway.  I urged Bonnie to just order something else so she chose the Hot Wings for $12.00.

Sooooo, the wings arrived and looked like typical wings, however, by the third wing Bonnie's mouth was on fire...They were so hot she couldn't taste anything at all and just couldn't eat any more.  And, she left the rest of the meal on the plate. 

When the Bartender asked if everything was alright I swear he was smirking...I gave up eating the burger and just wanted to leave at that point.  So for our $80.00 meal we basically got calamari and a couple of drinks. 

I wanted to love this place with it's lovely outdoor atmosphere and maybe it really was just one bad night for everyone involved...However, I cannot recommend Catal to anyone because it was such a miserable experience and way too expensive.

If anyone else has had a different experience at Catal, please share it with our readers because I am really curious to know if this restaurant is worth a second chance.


There is no crying at the House of Blues!

So, the Bon and I were in Anaheim, CA the last week of 2010 to celebrate her Birthday.  And, among the many challenges of our fun filled mini-vacay (wind and rain, crowds that actually closed entrance to the park) we, additionally, had the challenge of finding places to eat during the busiest week of the year at Disneyland. 

On the evening of Bon's actual Birthday, and after about 14 hours of park hopping and standing in mega huge lines, we were starving and were just hoping for a place where we could actually sit down to eat.  I initially wanted to find a nice place for an elegant Birthday dinner, but the wait at most of the restaurants was about 1.5 to 2 hours.  However, when we asked about the wait at the House of Blues (in Downtown Disney, a separate outside shopping mall adjacent to Disneyland) we were told that there was no wait at the Bar and that they served a full menu.  At this point that was a bonus so we headed in.

My first reaction to walking into the House of Blues was disappointment, it was like any other restaurant/bar chain.  There was no "magic" in the air, no sense of the mysterious, no aura of the Rock Gods that I know have played there...The only difference from any other eatery, that I could see, was the little room that sold music and movie memorabilia and House of Blues merchandise. 

Really Big Sigh.  I guess it wasn't my night to bump into Axl Rose, Paul Rodgers, Sebastian Bach or Bon Jovi who would fall madly in love with me at first sight and whisk me away from my regular life to join the band on tour. I am a Band-Aid (groupie) at heart and of course my life long dream has been to proclaim to one and all (and really, really mean it) that I am with the band!  Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh yes, food.  Sooooo anyhooo, amid my disappointment the Bon and I bellied up to the bar and Bonnie ordered a lemon drop and I ordered water (what else?) and we asked for menus. 

Our bartender (I cant remember his name) was really nice and pleasant and he asked all the right questions...He wandered off and another extremely nice bartender arrived and took our order.  Bon and I opted to split an app and a burger, specifically,  the Spicy Calamari which was tossed with a chili sauce, kalamata olives, parmesan cheese and lemon olive oil for $9.99 and The Bleu "Blues Burger" with sauteed onions,  bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion for $12.99

About 20 seconds after we placed our order the calamari arrived and lordy was it GOOD!

Now, I'm not talkin' good as in it was alright, or it was passable or even enjoyable, this was seriously GOOOOOOOOD!  The squid was all chillied up and tossed with kalamata olives and drizzled with cheese and olive oil...It was a plate full of lip smackin' yumminess to be sure.

During this enjoyable app-fest a new bartender (Matt) arrived and the fun was on!  There is nothing better than a good bartender; a guy or gal who can get your drink right, can makes you feel welcome, can make you laugh, and make you want to come back for more...That was our guy Matt.  Matt even offered to buy/make Bonnie a special Birthday shot which she gladly accepted.

In a surprisingly short amount of time (considering the full to capacity crowds) our burger arrived and it was superb!  I couldn't find a picture but basically it was a giant burger piled with blue cheese, cooked to perfection and served with yummy straw fries.  Bonnie and I both loved this burger and raved about it for days.

You know its funny how first impressions really can be wrong.  When I walked into the HOB I had great expectations, then I felt a sense of being let down, but at the end of the evening the House of Blues had given me even more than I had expected.  I really had a great time!  The bartenders were awesome, the drinks (according to the Bon) were excellent, the service was quick, and the food was fabulous.  Plus, I think I might have seen Elvis peaking around a corner winking at me as we exited the building. 

See?  Dreams really do come true when you visit Disneyland and the House of Blues!


The Perfect Bite?

Okay, resorting to threats and throwing guantlets, Really Nancy?  What has the world come to when grown women and dogs start e-challenging people?  Seriously, we are truly a twisted generation of food freaks.

So to answer the challenge I am tossing out a mini blog about The Perfect Bite Co. and thier amazingly yummy perfectly perfected Gourmet Miniature Burgers with Carmelized Onions and Gorgonzola.  Yeppers, they are indeed perfect.  Perfect for an appetizer, perfect for individual snackage, perfect for parties (if you are in a frame of mind to share) and perfectly easy to prepare.  It doesn't get any easier than box to microwave right?

It all started with a seemingly innocent walk through the Nugget Market on a Sunday afternoon.  Then there "she" was at the end of the frozen food aisle offering free samples just like one of those Costco whores.  I mean seriously, who can pass up the free food offering...Clearly someone with much thinner genes/jeans? than me! 

The Nugget/Costo whore was offering samples of a goumet pig in a blanket, but it was the stack of burger boxes that caught my eye. 

So the Perfect Bite Co. with thier perfect Nugget/Costco whore had me at hello...I bought the perfect burgers for $8.99 and ate the whole perfect damn box.  And, I loved them, a perfect little succulent bite with a perfect dab of cheese and onions.  Good stuff!

I am truly a fan of Burgers on almost every level.  And, in some completely perverted mind meld marketing scheme the mini burger/slider is a fat chicks holy grail of burgers.  It's like I am eating smaller portions, or less, but really I can scarf all twelve baby burgers and somehow convince myself it isnt bad because they are so tiny. 

How perfect is that?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some bloggers are annoying...

I'm not naming names, either, but my MOTHER doesn't allow me to cook. She doesn't take me out to eat with her. She doesn't even let me eat much other than Science Diet Light. What does she think I'm supposed to blog about? I don't want to give away my whole secret over here, but what I do is wait until she goes into the bedroom to spend time with that silly bird Zelda and then I sneak out to the living room where I can usually snag a few bites of whatever Uncle Jim is making. He acts like he doesn't like me but when nobody is around he talks to me. He says "Millie, you're not supposed to eat this, but don't tell your mom". I don't know why he calls me Millie, but if he's feeding me, I will not be correcting him anytime soon. Thank you Uncle Jim! Love, Millie.

Squash and Cream Cheese Soup

Now, I have never been one to toot my own horn, but I have blogged like a million more times than either of my partners. I'm just saying. I have also cooked two nights in a row which might be a record. The way I look at it, I have at least three more days until the 17 Day Diet book I ordered comes and I might as well make the most of it. If this soup doesn't want to make me become a vegetarian, nothing will. It's rich and creamy and buttery and perfect for a freezing cold winter night where were are AGAIN expecting snow. It's margarine and onions sauteed in the bottom of the big sauce pan. Added to that is 6 cups (about three) cubed butternut squash, 3 cups of water, 4 chicken bouillon cubes, 1/2 tsp of marjoram, 1/8 tsp of red pepper, 1/2 tsp of black pepper. Boil that for 20 minutes or until the squash is soft. Put it in a blender with two 8 oz blocks of cream cheese. Pour it back into the sauce pan to heat through if necessary.
I rule when it comes to blogging. So what if I don't blog for months on end? When I do, I do it all the way...not like my two deadbeat partners who shall remain nameless. I have thrown down the gauntlet.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Moving boxes and buffalo wings

When I moved in with my brother it was meant to be only temporary. However, it's become a long-term solution and I am going to stay a while longer. My storage room that I rent wasn't big eough for all of my boxes and therefore the master bedroom of the house (where I have been staying) is piled with boxes. Part of the deal I made with my brother is that the bird, the dog, and I would move into the smaller guest room. The boxes need to go into the back room of the man cave downstairs. Luckily for me, my niece has a boyfriend who is built like the 23 year old farmer that he is. He's used to lifting heavy things. And he likes to eat. I just couldn't see asking my own son to drive all the way from the city to help me out when Caleb lives so close. So, I went to Dominick's and bought all the stuff to make some buffalo chicken wings and bleu cheese dressing (from scratch!). Here's his reward for coming over tonight and moving boxes into the basement. I suppose there will be beer to go with this. Yum...the dressing is fabulous!

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayo

1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles

1 tsp. white vinegar

chopped green onion



Mix everything together - sprinkle a few extra green onions on top.

The wings were just baked for 20 minutes at 500 and then coated in Frank's Wing Sauce.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Village Grind in must go!

On Friday morning I met my girlfriend at a little hole in the wall coffee shop in downtown Oswego called The Village Grind. I got a large gingerbread latte and a toasted bagel and cream cheese for $4.14. Yes...$4.14. At Starbucks that wouldn't have even covered the coffee! Inside this quaint little coffee shop there were comfy seats, tables with newspapers, friendly patrons and a cute little girl playing the harp. It was almost like sitting in your living room having coffee with friends. The building was formerly somebody's home and that's just what it felt like sitting there relaxing. It was great to spend time with Mary and catch up on everything and compare notes on our doggies. She is the new Mommy to a dog that I had back when I left for California. She has been the BEST Mom to Millie and I know I made the right decision when I chose her to succeed me. But back to the Village Grind. If you are local to Oswego and haven't been - definitely go. If you are not local to Oswego, then book a flight and go. Seriously. It was SO MUCH FUN!