Dirty Risotto

Not the best picture in the world, but one I was able to snap with my phone before the risotto disappeared from the face of the earth!

I had only made risotto once before and while it was okay, I found it a little lacking.... sort of. I wanted flavor! So when I found a recipe that had more oomph, I immediately changed it up to suit my tastes!This is a recipe you can have some fun with...

  • 6 slices thick applewood smoked bacon-sliced super thin
  • 1/2 red pepper-diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion-diced
  • 20 or so stems of asparagus- rinsed and cut in 1 inch pieces, 1st 3 inches only
  • clove garlic- minced
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/3 cups Aborio rice
  • 5 cups organic chicken broth- heating on back burner
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese- shaved, to taste

After slicing the bacon into little match sticks, I set those to simmer in my pot while I diced my pepper, onion and asparagus. The recipe also called for mushroom, but I tend to avoid those.

Once my bacon was mostly done, I tossed in my veggies along with some garlic, salt and pepper. I then scrambled to find white wine because I didn't have an open bottle like I thought I did! Once I found a very nice Chardonnay, I was back in business. After adding the rice and letting it toast a little bit with the veggies, I poured my wine on top and let it simmer gently.

Once the wine is mostly absorbed, I poured about 1/4 of my heated broth in and began stirring gently. As each portion of broth was absorbed, I added another 1/2-3/4 cup of broth. Don't stress out about measuring, just keep adding, stirring and replenishing.

Once I had all my broth in, I turned it down a little more, took my zester and shaved the cheese in, stirring gently all the while.... shave, stir, shave, stir. I stopped adding cheese when the risotto became so creamy I couldn't stand it!

Three things I love about this dish...

So versatile. Goes with anything or stands alone!

Texture - it's so creamy. And surprisingly, it isn't the bacon adding texture, it's the yummy bits of asparagus!

Surprisingly easy to make!

Enjoy!

Making My Own Granola

Asthmagirl has become quite fond of topping her morning berries and yogurt with granola. If finally occurred to her, that as careful as she was with her berries and yogurt, she wasn't entirely sure what was in her granola.... but it sure tasted good!

Thus began some research and experimentation and at last, a loose protocol for how to make reasonably healthy granola. And it couldn't be easier.

It goes something like this:

3 cups organic oats (not quick oats)

1/2 cup flax seed

1/2 cup organic oat bran

1 cup chopped nuts (Asthmagirl currently has hazelnuts due to last summers travels)

Spices (Asthmagirl is using fresh ground nutmeg as well as cardamom and Saigon cinnamon)

At least a 1/2 cup of honey

At least a 1/4 cup of very light olive oil.

Once you've mixed your dry ingredients, simply add the honey and olive oil and stir...

The more fluid you add, the more of the little flavor nuggets you get as the moisture picks up the flax seeds and oat bran. So you can easily make adjustments in this stage depending on how dry you like your granola.

Then spread your lovely granola on a baking pan. I use a silicone baking sheet, but you could use parchment paper as well. Bake at 300 for 30 minutes. Your house will be smelling terrific! Give it a stir and bake for another 15 minutes.

Hello toasty, yummy goodness!

Just so you know, the granola must cool to get it's crisp on. It will still be soft when you remove it from the oven. This stores well in ziplock bags, so even though it's a good sized batch, it's still yummy a week later!

There are always variables to what you can add. I've read that this is awesome with unsweetened cocoanut flakes, but that's not really my thing.

I've also read that adding dried fruits ala raisins, dried cranberries, dates, dried apples etc, should be done as soon as your granola comes out of the oven. Do not bake those!

So there you have it. Pretty darn healthy granola that tastes pretty darn good! It's too back this blog isn't scratch and sniff because my whole house smells amazing right now!

 

Food Frenzy!

Yes, the lungs are acting up. And this has somehow spawned a cooking frenzy. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Pictured: Asthmagirl's Super Moist Banana Bread, The Creekside Cook's Bean with Bacon Soup and Spicy Turkey Meatloaf!

The spicy meatloaf is a combination of 16 ounces ground turkey, 12 ounces spicy ground chicken sausage (Isernios), 2 eggs, quarter of a sweet onion-diced, 1/4 cup of finely diced carrots, 1 diced Telara roll (kind of like sourdough). I also threw in a little bit of whole wheat crust. I mix all that together with a good dollop of Sweet Baby Ray's bbq sauce until I get the consistency I want. For The Old Goat, I baked them in the mini pans for 30 minutes. They're perfectly sized for dinner when I don't feel like cooking and he wants something yummy.

The Moist Banana Bread is a family favorite! I mixed it by hand this time so no getting the big mixer out.

Start with 3 ripe, ripe bananas mashed in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup butter melted, a squeeze of honey, 3 tbsp lowfat vanilla yogurt (can sub sour cream), 2 room temperature eggs and a tsp of vanilla. Combine and add dry ingredients: 1 2/3 cup flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar. Begin folding ingredients together. When barely mixed, sprinkle a handful of pecan halves over the top and finish folding ingredients until just combined. With the hand mixing, I like that I may get a bit of a chunk of pecan or banana. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can pull out the stand mixer and whisk the heck out this before adding the dry ingredients. Its good either way! This recipe can be baked in 4 of the small pans or a regular loaf pan. The small pans bake at 350 for 35 minutes or so. The loaf pan will take 50 minutes or so at 350.

So take a break from your wheezing...

Get in the kitchen and make some comfort food!

AG out!

Lentil Soup Redux

With fall weather, I'm all about the crock pot and having warm, hearty meals at the end of a cool day. This is especially true after football games!

While I've come home from work and put in the time to make homemade lentil soup, this crockpot soup is perfect for coming home after a long day and just eating!

The night before, do your prep work:

  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 leek, slice and rinsed
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced and diced
  • 1 pound lowfat Italian chicken or turkey sausage
  • 1 can (14 oz) fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3-6 sprigs of thyme, stripped
  • 6 basil leaves, minced
  • organic chicken broth

Prep veggies for soup while you cook the lowfat sausage. Place cooked sausage in crockpot and start veggies (with little olive oil) in same pan you cooked sausage. sprinkle with fresh (or dried herbs) while cooking. Add lightly cooked veggies and tomatoes to crock pot. add chicken broth just to cover. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, add one pound bag of lentils to crock pot. Add another carton of organic chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. When you get home, use immersion blender to smooth-i-fy lower level of soup. Retain some sausage and lentils on surface for texture.

Serve in bowl with minced basil!

Chicken Chili

I didn't take a picture, but I should have. I've always wanted to make a great chicken chili, but I've always had to be satisfied with an "okay" chicken chile.

I finally did it! Here's how!

  • Two -three chicken breasts, cleaned and cut into bigger than bite sized pieces
  • 2 cans great northern beans, drained
  • 1 can of pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can fire roasted tomato pieces
  • 1 small can of green chilis
  • 1/2 poblano pepper cleaned and diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper cleaned and diced
  • 1 mango, skinned and diced
  • 3/4 of a sweet onion, chopped
  • I cup frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • .5 tsp corriander
  • .5 tsp cayanne pepper (more or less to taste)

The night before, put beans and tomatos in crock pot. In large pan use a little olive oil to saute chilis, peppers, onion, mango and spices until just tender. Dump on top of beans and tomatoes. Add a little more oil to pan and lightly saute chicken breast pieces just to get spices from pan onto chicken. Add a little organic chicken broth to skillet, swirl and dump chicken into crock pot. Cover and refrigerate overnight to let flavors blend.

In the morning, add corn, more chicken broth and a little white wine (can substitue a nice IPA). Set on low and start your day! Whether it's work or a football game, this fantastic chili whill be waiting for you when you get home.

Recommend serving in bowl with dollops of low fat sour cream.

Easy Pasta Salad

I've been eating this by the bucket. It's relatively healthy and easy to make and tastes so good when the weather is warm.

To make:

One box of whole wheat, whole grain rotini, cooked

2 chicken breasts, grilled, diced

red grapes, halved

3 stalks of celery, thin on the mandolin

fresh pineapple

craisins

lowfat poppy seed dressing

You could probably put just about anything in here that you'd like, but this combination works for me.  I've tossed raspberries in here, but it was a little too tart.

Enjoy!

AG out!

Dinner with The Electrician

So last week, K2/Girlfriend's former significant other (they dated for forever it seems) saw my post about the nacho heartburn. He facebooked me back about this place he'd eaten at with pulled pork sandwiches. He knows I have a weakness for the pulled pork. Did I want to try it?

Um, yeah!

Then he texted me yesterday about what time... Oh yeah! I'd forgotten it was set up for Monday night! My evening just improved like a thousand percent.

(It's worth noting here that we've had The Electrician in our lives since like 2003 at least. We still like him. In fact TOG bumped into him at the baseball game last week and was so excited to have seen him. We know The Electrician and K2/Girlfriend are just friends now.)

So anyway we get to this tiny place and it doesn't look very glamorous. But when you open the door... the smell! The smell! And then I saw the awards....

Dude has won some BBQ awards from some Kansas City competitions! The anticipation builds! After much contemplation, we made our selections and ordered. I settled for the pulled pork plate with two sides. The Electrician went for the Boss Hog with the Memphis (hot link and slaw) on top. [Editor's note: please note that you can buy pulled pork by the pound to take home. AG is doomed. Doomed I tell you.]

And here they are...

Pulled pork... note the "burnt end pieces" in the sandwich. OMG! And you can see the rub (which is perfect). I started pouring the sauce and then realized it was going to be more than I could handle and I just dipped instead!

Here's The Electrician's "Boss Hog". It comes pre-sauced. Uh oh. That's gonna be a mess....

A couple tasting notes here. The rub was fantastic. It accentuated and did not overpower the smoky flavor of the pork. The sauce was amazing. It was not sweet (vinegar based) and the flavor built over time. Halfway through the sandwich, the flavors were a full symphony in my mouth. The beans... The Electrician and I thought they were a little "tabasco-y". The corn bread. OMG. They put lemon zest in their corn bread. This was very light and not too sweet, but the zest totally cooled off the rub fest on your tongue. It took your taste buds completely the other way. Amazing.

Best of all...

 

They have a hand wash station right in the middle of the dining room.

These guys have it down. I'll definitely be back.

Thanks Electrician!

AG out! 

Cupcake

Cupcake: (noun; proper) Used by Asthmagirl as a term of affection for those she loves. In it's casual form, describes small cake in paper wrapper that is the perfect "after dinner" delight. See phrase "pass the cupcakes, Bubba".

The pub has started offering cupcakes. We have started bringing one home for K3, much to her delight. This is a stout chocolate cupcake, made with the pub's famous No-Doubt Stout ale! The icing is a peppermint creamcheese concoction that is just right... not too sweet and not too runny.

Perfection!

(And yes, I promptly sent my hand model (K3) to the kitchen to wash her hands. Sorry for the goober-y finger... and the hang nail!) 

Lazy Girl Dinner

What to eat first...

Did you ever have one of those dinners where everything on your plate was calling out to be eaten first?! With The Old Goat at work and no one to please but ourselves, K3 and I decided to go all out and spoil ourselves tonight....

After much discussion, here's the menu K3 and I whipped up for dinner...

Our favorite Ballpark "lite" hot dog, grilled of course! Asthmagirl's famous tarragon potato salad! And fresh fruits and berries drizzled with fat free vanilla yogurt!

It's almost healthy! And it sure beats the heck out of canned soup!

What did you have?

AG out!

 

Gluttony

Mother's day was full of surprises. I knew I was likely getting a trip to the pub, but I didn't know who was coming and who wasn't. In fact, I'm not sure TOG did either.

But really, it was low key and fattening tasty!

Behold, the jazz band....

The warm up act in the food is always the Brew-hole-io. Made from brewers grain and rolled in cinnamon and sugar and served blazing hot, I love them. Tog... not so much. He claims they are not sweet enough....

TOG's breakfast...

 

Spicy Sausage Hash topped with poached eggs, home made salsa and sour cream.

My breakfast:

 

Malted blueberry banana pancakes with cinnamon butter. And a "mug o' mimosa"! Across the table you can see the tahini stuffed french toast...

And the preferred breakfast...

Chorizo and gravy over biscuits topped with poached eggs!

 I'm still full...

AG out!

Grillin' and a giveaway!

A few weeks ago, a guy named Al contacted me from Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce. Like many of the other bloggers that Al connected with, he wanted to send me samples of Country Bob's sauce so that I could try it and blog about it. Then he'd let me give away a couple bottle to commenters on the blog. I have to admit, my first thought was "Cool"! My second thought was "What if I don't like it." So I emailed Al back and asked him. He didn't seem worried about it, so I agreed. My Country Bob's sauce arrived promptly.

In the meantime, I moved my blog and went through reindexing and prolonged feed contortions and waited for the weather to clear so we could grill.

Tonight, TOG (my beloved Old Goat) decided to throw ribs on the grill. He said he had a plan for Country Bob and his sauce. I roasted some veggies... (Carrots, Asperagus and Parsnips) while TOG ran the grill.  As it turns out, TOG applied Country Bob straight to the ribs. Talk about good! The perfect amount of tanginess and it just really accented the ribs beautifully. Personally, I was prepared to cobble together a sauce... maybe some soy, brown sugar, garlic, lime, herbs... I was sure I could put together a good sauce. But just straight on the ribs... classic, simple, savory! It actually created a slight glaze on the ribs that was oh so desirable! In hind sight, it might even work to dribble a little on roasted veggies, which I normally do with just olive oil and sea salt.

So, summer's coming and we'll be doing a lot more grilling. Do you grill? Do you want to perk up your grilling? Leave a comment below telling me what you like to grill or what you'd grill if you had some Country Bob's! I'll choose a couple winners to recieve some Country Bob's of their very own!

Contest ends on Sunday Evening!

PS~ I wish I had pictures to show you but the ribs were so good, that TOG is in the kitchen eating the last one. So much for left overs!

He's back!

Last year, I wrote a post about this guy because I liked his show. It made me think about cooking in a different way. The show itself acknowledged that disaster did indeed lurk around every corner and even the most proficient of cooks (which I am not) was at risk of public humilations! I appreciated the fact that he never took success for granted, and that he was secretly thrilled each time he successfully pulled off another caper! Who am I talking about? This guy here...

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Chef Robert Irvine! And the Show?

Dinner_impossible_header 

I love Dinner Impossible. Yes, yes....I know Robert exagerated his resume and they booted him and brought Micheal Symon in, (who's an awesome chef) but the show lost it's ooomph. Chef Symon lacks that somethin' somethin' that keeps me tuned into the show. Maybe it's Chef Irvine's openness... disaster is lurking behind every pot and everyone knows it? Maybe it's his ability to throw together a menu? Maybe it's watching a good manager wrangle people and ingredients into a symphony of culinary excellence? Maybe it's his deep fried peanut butter and jelly dough-nuts?

Whatever the reason, he's back with six new episodes and I'm excited! I'm on board! I can't wait until Wednesday night. Chef Irvine will tide me over until my ultimate favorite show starts next week...

Hi. My name is Asthmagirl and I'm a food nerd.

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Catering perfection

It feels like it's a been a total food week here on the blog! Not that that's a bad thing! Today's post moves us from food that I've cooked to food that someone else has cooked! (and I get to eat!)

Today I hauled my crabby back to work (not the best idea I've ever had) because I had a date with my event planning sidekick to go see the last caterer. Yes... it's time for the final tasting! (that sounds so ominous!) This caterer is kind of unique because they offer you a tasting AFTER you've indicated what menu you're interested in. Then when you go to the tasting, they make that food for you.

So we started off with one of our appetizers. We wanted the "breads and spreads" which is nine different spreads served at an appetizer station with toast points, pita points and bagel bites. We got to try four of  the spreads with a deli bread...
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From the top moving clockwise, Olive Tapenade (OMG! Sweet Mother of Pearl), Sweet onion spread (OMG), Roasted red pepper hummus (bland but pleasant) and Herbed salmon spread (nice!). I liked the tapenade so much and my friend liked the onion dip so much that we protested when the chef tried to remove the plate from our table. He finally offered to package them so we could take them with us!

Our next plate was salad. We wanted two salads because not everyone likes Caesar.
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So on the left, the most amazing Caesar ever... with fresh croutons. I don't really like Caesar, but I couldn't quit eating it! The salad on the right is wild greens with gorgonzola, candied walnuts and cherry tomatoes with a pear vinegrette. Yummy! That dressing had "oomph"!

Finally, for the main, we selected the following....
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At the top of the plate is the pasta dish... We wanted both a veggie and meat main so we wouldn't have to have veggie plates on the side. The pasta dish is penne in a light garlic cream sauce with sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Again, I don't even like sun dried tomatoes and these were quite good. The other main at the bottom of the plate is chicken marsala with sauted mushrooms and sweet onions. Baby. I was full by this time and I kept eating "one more bite". It's embarassing to have your gluttany hanging out in public!

The chef was great! We totally enjoyed his humor and his cooking. This caterer runs 7 crews and your chef for the event is assigned. Our chef asked us to request him so he could be attached to our event. I'll gladly do it. He's an approachable guy and I want him on my team! Besides I loved all his tattoos and his gaged ears!

I'm still full. Thank goodness that lemon cake from hell is gone so I don't have to get up and go eat some! I wonder how many calories are burned walking into the kitchen...

Asthmagirl out!

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Chicken Pie for the Soul

Chicken pie
Yesterday I roasted a chicken in the crock pot. The theory being that I wouldn't have to get up and cook. So then I got up and made crash hot potatoes too. And steamed broccoli. The chicken was amazing! Did you know that if you wad up three balls of foil and set the chicken on the balls in the crock pot, it keeps the chicken up out of the juice and truly roasts it? Love me some foil balls! The chicken was simple, just a sprinkle of fresh tarragon and a splash of white wine in the bottom of the pot and it was amazing! I had to talk fast to keep TOG from eating all the leftover chicken!

So tonight, I diced up the leftover chicken and skimmed the fat off the broth and made "good for the soul" chicken pie! You know how when you're not feeling great, you tend to focus on exactly what you want to eat? The whole phenomenon of "what sounds good"? Like the better the food is, the faster you're cured? I'm totally like that when I'm feeling asthmatic! I guess I'm like that with a funky back too!

Oh, and I can never make that lemon cake again. It's like crack. And the glaze? Straight into the vein, baby!
In other news... I've been having fun with the laptop camera. Cassie has been glued to me for the last 48 hours. It's like she's in a coma...
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"Psst! Cassie!"
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"What...? Is there a squirrel? I was sleeping!"
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"Here, rub my belly!"
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"I'm still your favorite, right? Wait... don't tell Maddie I said that..."

Asthmagirl out!

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Lemon Aid

As I lay in the recliner working on the newsletter for my agency, TOG nagged courteously reminded me that I have lemons to use before they go to the shriveled fruit afterlife... I'd already made lemon chicken pasta but I desperately wanted lemon cake. I hobbled to the pantry and checked for available ingredients, and realized I had everything I needed to make the following recipe:

Sour Cream Lemon Cake (OMG!)

Ingredients

  • 9 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 T grated lemon rind
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest using an electric mixer.

Add eggs and beat well until combined.

Fold through sour cream, SR flour, vanilla and lemon juice.

Pour batter into a  greased and lined cake pan (I used a square 8 inch lined with parchment, I forgot to grease anything) and place in a preheated (350*F) oven for 40 minutes or until cake is cooked when tested with a skewer. Cajole youngest daughter into bending over to remove cake from oven.

I removed the cake from the pan after about 10 minutes. Then instead of dusting it with powdered sugar, I made a glaze using the zest of one lemon, the juice of one lemon, 1 tbsp melted butter and maybe a cup or so of confectioners sugar. I poked holes in the cake with a skewer and drizzled like crazy!

Cake

Then I had tiny piece after tiny piece. I'll probably need another tiny piece when it's time for the next pain pill...I love lemon cake. And this one is so rich....so flavorful...Oh Baby! 

We now return to your regularly scheduled back pain...

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Irish night at the pub!

It being St Patricks Day yesterday, you have to know that TOG and I headed to the pub for corned beef and cabbage!  I love it when the pub has a special menu and it's the only night all year when they have green beer!

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(for green beer, look on top of the taps)

But for me, it's more about the menu which they do a great job on. It's their full menu, plus the special Irish menu... I had shepherds pie!

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Oh... There's the menu there. Unfortunately, you can't read it from here, but for dessert, I had the cupcake... A chocolate/stout ale/sour cream cupcake with green cream cheese frosting. No pictures of course (forgot!).

While there I ran into one of my favorite families...

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Yes, imom and her lovely dancing daughter! The males of the family were there too, but they weren't so hot on stopping by for a picture! I believe there may be more pictures on her site!

Ultimately, we had a lovely time... it was crowded but fun!

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Especially if you're into green beer!

Did you celebrate last night?

PS~ If you volunteered to test coffee, you probably got an email from me asking for your address. Even if you've given it to me before. Because I'm not as organized as I should be!

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Testing one, two, three...

This breakthrough instant coffee is available online and at select Starbucks stores in Chicago and Seattle.

So we've touched on my love of Starbucks oatmeal, yes? Well, I've continued to indulge and that means I'm at Starbucks pretty regularly and ironically, not for coffee. Here in the home of "coffee town", I'm just dropping by for the oatmeal! (To balance my daily budget, if I buy oatmeal, I don't buy coffee) I've been filling my travel cup at home with the Costco "organic rainforest" I've become so fond of.

The baristas regularly ask me if I want coffee. "We have a great drip this morning" has become their chant! Then came Starbucks new instant coffee, Via. Each morning it's praises are sung... Every barista has assured me that it tastes just as good as brewed coffee. Samples have been offered. Each morning I'm asked "have you tried it yet?"

The answer is no. Because you may not know this, but I'm mildly particular about my coffee. So I either give the samples to someone else or I tuck them away in my desk drawer at work for 'emergencies'! Maybe it's just me or maybe it's living in this part of the country, but I think we're just not geared for instant coffee. If you don't have time to make some, you go get some, you don't reach for the instant!

With all that in mind, I've reached the conclusion that I'm unlikely to make the leap. I can't trust what a barista is telling me and no one I know has tried it. And none of you can try it because it's currently only available here and in Chicago. Or maybe....

Psst! Come closer! I've come up with a plan: Yesterday I blew my budget on a multipack of Via. (The baristas were thrilled) Leave me a comment here if you want to be an official tester. Let's say the deadline is noon tomorrow (Wednesday). I'll select testers until I run out of Via. I'll send it to you. You'll try it. Next week, on Thursday, you'll post your results. I'll run a link to official testing blogs so we can see the results from around the country! Reviews we can believe in!

So who's in? Hello? Testers? Seriously, this needs to work... or I'm going to be stuck with a lot of instant coffee!

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Caterer to the third power

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Above: Gratuitous Food Porn...If you missed the first two episodes of the caterer episodes, you can click here and here.

So we met with the third caterer Friday. M and I were prepared to contact other caterers if this guy didn't work out. We just felt really discouraged after our session with caterer two.

Initially I was a little disappointed. He met us at our agency, and he didn't bring any food, just photo albums. But oh my gosh... the pictures! I felt like licking the pages! Then he talked and talked and talked. This dude can talk! And he's Italian with long ponytail and the "talking" hand motions. Very vivid. He spent an enjoyable hour talking about events and options and what he's done/could do for us.

When he wound down and we talked about our event, he named off probably one of the biggest auction events in our county... he's catering it in two weeks, and he can get us in so we can see who donated their stuff. Oh, we took him up on that!

Then he started talking about how he puts together the budget, and yeah... this will cost you more, that will cost you more. But he still said he was going to give us a better deal than we thought, we just had to tell him our per person costs we could live with and he'd beef things up in the food department because those are the costs he can control. Then he reminded M that she knew the people who do all the place settings and linens and why didn't we get those donated and then he could use the budget to do even better food? And he knew who would donate music and ice. Then he said we could auction off a week in his house in Cabo. And then he said he still hoped we'd pick him for the food!

So we're waiting on his bid and number two's bid. In the meantime, M called the guy she knew and we did get the dinnerware and linens donated and that's two extra appetizers should we choose to go that route. M just didn't think to ask for that donation. And we're going to the swanky event in two weeks. We're coming in with the caterers to have a look around!

Oh, and the tasting thing... he doesn't bring food to the first meeting. He sets up a time with you for one of the chefs to come to your home or your work and prepare you a little something, something. He still hopes we'll choose him.

I don't know... it's a tough sell. What do you think?

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Catering anxiety

We met with another caterer Wednesday...

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They made us a tasting dish... From the left: pistachio and Gorgonzola on crustini (meh), sweet onion and cheddar corn-cakes (OMG), Pear, pecan and blue cheese tart-lets (Very, Very Nice), Artichoke and Crab souffle`in a phyllo cup (nice, but over powered by the "hint" of jalapeno), shrimp with lemon/ginger/soy and a few red pepper flakes (interesting but too "juicy" for carry around appetizers).

The main difference between this caterer and the previous one... attitude. The first one wanted the job and he wanted to support us and he was willing to do it at cost. He had "I won't charge your for that" tattooed on his, um... well it was tattooed somewhere. The second one would like to have the job but every sentence ended with "of course you realize that will cost you more". A salad plate was more, a serving utensil for the deserts was more, bringing little convection ovens to heat some of the above appetizers was more. Did we want to pay for bussing? What about setting the tables? We left feeling very discouraged about having options. Ideally, we would like the deal the first caterer gave us and the food the second caterer discussed. We know that's not going to happen.

We meet with the third caterer on Friday. He already told M that he was prepared to give us a "deep discount" but we'll have to see what that means. He's the same caliber as the 2nd caterer. M thinks we might want to chat up a couple more just to see what else might work. I agree. We also think we should talk with the first caterer and tell him we'll pay a little bit more if he'll do something special for appetizers like the ones above.

I'm willing to listen advice. I am not willing to spend more for bussing. I'm just not. Nor am I going to ask for volunteers to bus tables as caterer 2 suggested. That's beyond tacky.

Yours in "talking to caterers isn't all it's cracked up to be",

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PS ~ The glasses still cause deep unrelenting headaches. I'm taking them back. Maddie held it til 6:30 am this morning. Jiffy Lube scanned me again last night. No coupons from Keens yet!

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Caterer Test Drive

Caterer one was interesting. They do a tasting once a month and basically cook a big ol' meal. Brides show up with their parents, beaus, sisters... whomever. I think M and I were the only ones there shopping for a fund raiser. M is a fellow manager at work and in the course of her duties at one of our facilities meets a lot of caterers. I've taken her word for who we ought to be talking to for this event and although this guy is fairly new on the scene, he does get good reviews, especially for his customer service.

Caterer1 

Table one: The ceasar salad was actually quite good. I don't usually care much for it but his was very nice. The pasta pesto salad was okay. I think he erred on the side of al dente, and thus the penne was almost not done. Light flavor. Lots of parmesan. Compliments the BBQ meatballs which were OMG! Not frozen meatballs with KC Masterpiece. These were oh so tender with flavor and zest and the sauce was lighter, not "pasty"... but still very flavorful. Mmmm.... I could have eaten 3. I took two but gave one to M and didn't get close to them again.

Caterer1a

In order...

Green beans with garlic and almonds- Nice

Garlic mashed potatoes- OMG

Gravy- OMG

Herbed chicken- Nice

Carribean rubbed pork- Great flavor, a little tough

Prime rib- Tender, slightly over done, good flavor

Then we sat down to talk with the executive chef. First, I have got to get me one of those coats with my name on it. Just to wear on Thanksgiving and Christmas! Second, he showed us how much our selections would be for the event. After I got done wheezing, he told us how meaningful our mission was to him personally and started no charging us... the pear salad, the appetizers, the coffee and punch service, the dessert service, the table linens, and the bar service. If we went with him, this would save us around $2500. Nice.

Next up, one of the better caterers on Wednesday. In the meantime, expect more whining about my new glasses!

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