Wednesday, 23 May 2012

An Award Nomination for Storytelling

Hi!  Thank you so much for swinging by today...guess what?  More good news...CJ at Food Stories has honored me by nominating I'm Cookin' In My Kitchen for the Excellence in Storytelling Award!  How cool is that?!?  Yes, very cool...
It's a great honor to know that when you write something, it's something someone takes the time to not only read but also enjoys. I am truly flattered and cannot tell you much happiness it brings me today.

Once nominated for the "For Excellence in Storytelling" Award, a panel of judges decides who from those nominated are chosen for the monthly award.  The nominee is asked to share one random thing about themselves...

My one random thing...Um, Hmmm..Ah...No just kidding : D  Let's see...

The very first time I ever tried lamb was with my sweetheart during the first year we were dating.  He made me lamb chops for dinner and I loved it!  Now I use it for Shepard's pie and my moussaka.

Another requirement is to choose 5 bloggers that write great food stories that I enjoy reading and to also let them know on their blogs that they have been nominated...this one is easy and my five come immediately to mind...

Michelle at Bite
Dima at Dima's Kitchen
Lizzie Marie @ Lizzie Marie Cuisine
Ben Starr @ Ben
Helene @ Masala Herb

If you're not yet familiar with these blogs, I assure you, they are awesome! I enjoy their stories and think you will too.

Again, let me thank CJ at Food Stories for nominating me for this award, hop on over and visit Food Stories for great food news, recipes and even for the daily food holiday : )  Today, May 23rd 2012 is National Taffy Day!  What is your favorite flavor of taffy?  Banana Cream Pie? Chocolate? Cotton Candy? Candy Corn? Caramel Apple? Cherry Cola? They are so creative that there are a ton of flavors to choose from nowadays : )

Growing up in Michigan, we used to visit Mackinaw City where mom always bought us a little bag of taffy and a slice of their fudge...yum!  Mackinaw City is the gateway to the Upper Pennisula which is accessed by the world's third longest suspension bridge, spanning 5 miles over The Straits of Mackinac which connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  Built in 1957, it was the longest until 1998 when two others opened for travel.

Till next time, Ciao & Happy Cookin'

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Legendary Corned Beef Sandwich

Do you love a good corned beef sandwich? How would you feel if it was considered legendary?  Well, I found one here in Jimmy Dee's.  Recommended by my sister who claimed they had the very best sandwich, mom and I scooped her up for lunch and we set off to check it out.

The Place...
Established in 1987, Jimmy Dee's has had the honor of being been voted with Macomb County’s Best Reuben Sandwich in 2005, 2006, 2008 & 2009 in the Macomb Daily's Readers Choice Award.  They promise great food & good times.  Their corned beef sandwich is their claim to fame although they also have award winning ribs.

The Location...
Located in Clinton Township on the East side of Groesbeck Hwy, it's very easy to find.  Clinton Township is one of the many cities that make up the Metropolitan Detroit Area that calls itself home to approx. 5,000,000 residents.  Jimmy Dees' is basically a bar with a restaurant inside with a side room attached.  This is where we sat and, with the tall windows looking out on the parking lot, it helped us to feel as if we weren't hiding indoors as much with the sun shining into the room.

The Food...
Of course I couldn't order anything other than the legendary corned beef but...there are a lot of choices on their menu.  The legendary corn beef sandwich is priced at $6.99 and is worth every cent!  It was one of the largest sandwiches I've ever gotten.  Served on your choice of breads or an onion roll, they offer white, rye or pumpernickel.
An intriguing bit of info shared with me was when I asked our server where they got their corn beef.  Turns out, it's a secret : )  Jimmy Dee's is sourcing out the brisket and preparing their corn beef in house, they are also serving their sandwich with house made thousand island dressing.

This sandwich is so big, I knew I would have to cut it in half
Just look at that baby...
The corn beef is moist and flavorful which was a delight as so many are serving corn beef sandwiches that are dry and so thin you're left wondering why they're so skimpy with the meat.  This is the real deal with a half pound of corn beef piled on.

I ate half and took the other half home : )

You can add fries or coleslaw to your sandwich selection for an extra $ and I ordered the fries & coleslaw and shared both.

Would I Return? Would I return? Sure I would.  I don't normally visit bars or lounges for their food and I don't really patron bars anymore but if I was looking for a really great corned beef sandwich...this would be the first place I'd think of.  I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a great sandwich.

The Experience...
Lunch was good, the company was fun and the service was attentive and friendly.  The restaurant is clean and offers a very casual atmosphere where anyone will feel comfortable visiting whether in a suit from the office or holding a hard hat and wearing steel toe boots.

You can check out Jimmy Dee's on line by clicking this link.   You can get directions to their location, browse their menu items and even contact them via email or by phone.  I called them to confirm and it seems they aren't on Facebook or Twitter...sorry : )

Till next time : ) Ciao & Happy Cookin'

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Graced with an Award : )

I had the most blessed day yesterday from the moment I woke up.  So many wonderful things continued to pile on top of one another until I had to sit back and just pronounce that it was a really extra special day.  I love to feel good & smile and make those I love feel good when giggles, chuckles and laughs were shared on the way to the airport to drop off my sister and brother in law at 5 am (YES! I know, it was soooo early!) it was a great way to start the day : )

The weather was gorgeous! I mean...freakin' gorgeous!  Blue skies and sunshine : )  I found out early on in the day I had won a giveaway...lunch was yummy...we were having steak for dinner...found and brought home pretty flowers from the market...and while there were more delights in the day to come...the icing on the cake was receiving The One Lovely Blog Award from CJ at Food Stories.  CJ has a great blog for food lovers, there is so much offered there where one can find recipes, food news and even find out what the current food holiday is.  Today...May 20, 2012 is National Quiche Lorraine Day : )

I want to thank CJ for the award and I hope you'll pop over there to take a peek at all there is being offered.  Of course, I had to try to find out some history about the One Lovely Blog Award but, information was scarce.  I did find where it was written that it may have started in 2007 or 2008 from a blog called A Grave Interest.

The rules are three and pretty easy + 1...

1.  On your blog...accept the award, post a link to let your readers know who awarded you the award which in this case was CJ at Food Stories and thank them : ) Thank you, Thank you CJ! : )

2.  Pass the award on to 15 other blogs you think deserve The One Lovely Blog Award.

3.  Stop by each of their blogs to let them know you have awarded them this award.

Added to the award, and I am not sure how recently this has began but also...

4.  Share 7 random things about yourself.

See?  Easy schmeasy : )

7 Random things about myself : )

1.  I love the color yellow
2.  I love fragrant candles
3.  I love to read (I am addicted)
4.  I should exercise more
5.  I love hats
6.  I love the movie Casablanca and tons of other older movies
7.  I eat more chocolate than candy

15 blogs who I want to pass this One Lovely Blog Award to : )

1.  Amy @ The Angry Chicken
2.  Carrie @ Half Baked, The Cake Blog
3.  "El Bachelor" @ A Bachelor & His Grill
4.  Amy @ Fragrant Vanilla Cake
5.  Caitlin @ The Vegan Chickpea
6.  Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake
7.  Dana @ Hot Pink Apron
8.  Joan @ Chocolate, Chocolate and more Chocolate
9.  Lyn @ The Lovely Pantry
10.  Jenn & Seth @ Home Skillet
11.  Verna @ The Amish Rebel
12.  Rachel @ Thou Must Live And Eat
13.  Laura @ The Art of Cooking Real Food
14.  Missus Tribble @ Rose Wine Lover
15.  Dima @ Dima's Kitchen

Thanks again to CJ for passing this award on to me, I am truly honored when someone takes the time to let me know they are enjoying what I'm doing.  What a fantastic way to share the love

Here is the HTML code if you would like to use it...thanks to The 3am Teacher


<a href=";current=one_lovely_blog_award.png" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

Till next time : ) Ciao and Happy Cookin'

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Fresh Tomato, Garlic & Basil Pasta

Serves 2


2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of unsalted butter
5 oz or 1/2 pint of ripe grape tomatoes halved
Sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2 small garlic cloves minced
Spaghettini pasta, enough to serve two is usually the diameter of a quarter
6-8 leaves of fresh basil, chiffonade (sliced in thin strips)
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil & butter in a large non stick skillet 
Add halved tomatoes
Season with salt & pepper
Once the tomatoes have started to release their juices, add minced garlic and simmer until the tomatoes begin to wilt slightly
Add cooked pasta and toss well to coat pasta in the sauce
Add 3/4 of the basil and toss
Place pasta in a shallow bowl to serve, garnish with remaining basil and fresh Parmesan 

Enjoy! : ) 

Some of the best dishes we enjoy are simple, classic recipes that are quick to prepare and also are cost effective due to the limited amount of ingredients.  It doesn't mean they are any less delicious, filling and satisfying.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

You can substitute any fresh tomato for the grape tomatoes if you have others on hand from the market or your garden.  Just chop the larger styles such as Roma and quarter the cherry tomatoes if using.  You can also substitute fresh parsley (curly or flat) for the basil, although I love the fresh basil flavor in this dish.

Till next time....Ciao and Happy Cookin'


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Andiamo, "True Taste of Italy"?

Life is made up of experiences, some good and some bad. 

I wrote on Twitter the other day, "time spent with family  #priceless", and it is...especially when it's been awhile since visits.  One of the things we love to do when we get together is reminisce...share stories and laugh until our sides hurt and tears stream down our cheeks...and then tell another.  Whether it's in our homes or out treating ourselves, it's quite often over a meal where we share the most laughs.  While visiting with family for the next little while, I know there will be a lot of meals shared...some home cooked that provoke memories and those shared while out and about.  Some will be preplanned and most will be spontaneous, such is the way when one is on a vacation : )  I'd like to share those with you over the next few weeks, some will be recipes for meals we make and some just thoughts on places we patron.
The Place...
The Andiamo restaurant website reports that it is consistently named one of Metro Detroit's "Best Italian" restaurants.  It's business is based on what they say are three simple Italian principles which are great food, great family, and great zest of life.  They pride themselves on their philosophy of buying fresh seasonal ingredients and preparing them from scratch each and every day.  It's an exciting concept and a promise to the consumer that when you arrive you'll feel like your with family, know you will be served exceptional food and leave a happy camper.

The Location...
With nine locations in my home state of Michigan, one has to believe that they must be doing something right.  Many of the locations are in wonderful cities and I'm sure sit on great real estate, but how can one do any better than sitting on the edge of the Detroit River across from Windsor, Canada?  Located in one of our greatest buildings downtown, Andiamo is in The GM Renaissance Center

The Gm Renaissance Center consists of 72 floors and is a beautifully designed building with fantastic views.  It has a collection of shops, dining options, a salon, movie theatre and is home to anywhere between 12 to 15 thousand workers on any given day...that's a lot of people!  Andiamo's is located in the 5 story glass atrium called the winter garden that is the hub for people in and out of the building on the river side and has available seating for diners from the food court or the cafes adjacent to the garden.  It is also home to the Marriott and you can learn more by clicking this LINK : )

I was happy and proud to take my mom there for a nice lunch after a visit to explore the building and, after noticing that the restaurant had a patio with tables & umbrellas.  With the weather as beautiful as it was this last Tuesday, our original idea of sitting indoors for lunch paled in comparison..and as you know, Italian is one of my all time favorites!  With the sun shining, a soft breeze blowing and sailboats sailing past we settled in to see what Andiamo was all about.

"The uncompromising cuisine is authentic, artistic and world-class."  This is a line I copied from their website, I had high hopes : )

The Food...
We started with a classic...the bruschetta al pomodoro, and at $5.95, it's a great price.  Three slices of toasted Italian bread topped with a mix of garlic, fresh tomatoes, Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh basil that comes with a pile of undressed greens on the plate.  It's truly hard to mess this one up, it was good but not spectacular.  I would have expected a bit more flavor (couldn't detect the garlic), but it did look nice even if it was plated a bit strange and a little messy.

They do offer a nice choice of salads ala carte, I chose to have the house made salad which comes with my entree, I chose their house made dressing, it was very tasty, it was a creamy, garlic Parmesan dressing.  It was a pleasant mixture of greens with firm ripe grape tomatoes, black olives, cucumbers and red onion.

Sorry, but I'm not a huge fan of browning lettuce in my salad

Our server brought us a bowl of warm slices of Italian bread with a salsa verde in olive oil for dipping.  It was a nice touch ( I adore warm bread).  It was a tasty blend of fresh herbs at the bottom of the bowl you get to spread around while dipping your bread served with your salad course.

Mom had for her entree, The Ravioli Alla Aldo, which is homemade pasta pillows filled with meat, cheese and spinach, topped with tomato or meat sauce for $14.95.  She chose the meat sauce which had a very nice flavor to it.  She liked the flavor yet said the pasta seemed tough.

I chose the Tortellini Alla Panna which is homemade meat-filled pasta with fresh basil, wild mushrooms and truffle crème sauce for $15.95 

I am sorry to say that although the concept of the dish is stellar, the visual appeal wasn't.  Upon first peeking at Andiamo's website, their top photo was this dish and I thought, AHA! That's what it should have looked like.  Their photo shows a beautifully creamy sauce enveloping these stuffed beauties but when my dish arrived, I don't know, it just seemed a bit congealed, had too much Parmesan cheese sprinkled on it and, I thought it maybe sat a little too long before it was served.

 I have a hard time believing that this pasta was made that same day, as a fan of fresh pasta...I find it very-very hard to believe.  The pasta was tough and the twist knot which makes this pasta shape what it is, was actually hard when biting into it.  It could have used more of the crème sauce, it was very tasty yet seemed sparse.  The picture appears as if there is a fair bit but it seemed to have been poured around the pasta (though in Italy, pasta is the star served with a minimal amount of sauce : ) It's the American in me that craves the sauce).  This dish has tons of potential!  The mix of wild mushrooms was very nice and their texture was great.

One thing I found strange for an Italian restaurant was when our server approached with a bowl of cheese asking if we'd like some.  I asked if it came out of a can, and he replied, "no, it comes from a bag".  Really?  They can't grate fresh Parmigiana Reggiano at the table?   I declined his offer but was left with that feeling that it doesn't take much to buy and grate fresh cheese if sourcing fresh ingredients is their motto.  I do it at home, it's the only way we buy our Parmesan.

Would I Return?
Would I return? Probably not.  Would I invite someone to this restaurant?  Probably not, unless they really-really wanted to go.  The view is awesome from their patio which is one of the reason's I ended up choosing this restaurant, but when you want great food, you want great food.  I don't mean it to seem as if I am picking on Andiamo, but I've been to some fabulous Italian restaurants and feel secure in the notion that I am able to discern between great, good and fair.  I would say that Andiamo is good. 

My take home bag has written on it, "The True Taste of Italy"...was it?  I think if the dish had been executed better, I would not have taken any home, I would have scarfed it up as I do most of my Italian choices.  ADDED NOTE: I will say to be fair that my sister said just today that their location in Warren at 14 mile rd is just fantastic and worth the maybe...just maybe a return visit is in order : D

The Experience...
They need some serious training for their servers.  When I asked our server what a truffle was, he didn't know.  I asked him to inquire from the chef what one was to have it explained to him.  I let him know that I was a food blogger and loved food so therefore probably had a head start on him, BUT really?? How could he not know?  It's their menu item!  He returned with a description and I was glad he had learned something new : )  I of course ordered the entree with the truffle creme sauce.

Our hostess who sat us brought our side plate and water glass to the table.  The plate was dusty/dirty from being outside (I was truly shocked) and she grasped my water glass with her entire hand wrapped around it near the top...ah, yea...yuck.

The entrance to the patio section is a bit disorganized and messy/dirty looking.  It did not seem as if there was a lot of personal pride being taken from the staff there to ensure a fantastic experience for their diners.  It's a shame really as there is a lot of potential. 

If you would like to check them out and let me know how your dining experience was, that would be super : )  They have a special event tomorrow night and if you check them out on line you'll see they cater special events and host different types of gatherings.  They are on Facebook and Twitter as well : )

Until next time : ) Ciao & Happy Cookin'

Monday, 7 May 2012

Orange Ginger Honey Glaze for Roast Chicken

Are you thinking to do something a little different with your next roast chicken?

Try this spring inspired fresh idea.  An Orange Ginger Honey Glaze

I wanted to do something different and with a bowl of lemons, my usual go to for roast chicken...limes and oranges, I decided to try something that I thought sounded a little funky (in a good way).

Slice one large orange into quarters.  Sprinkle salt, rosemary and fresh cracked pepper on a cutting board and drag each segment through the seasoning mixture.  Toss all orange segments into the cavity of the chicken, giving a few of them a little squeeze when throwing them in.

Orange Ginger Honey Glaze

Juice a second orange, remove any seeds and set aside.  Grate a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger and add to orange juice.  Squeeze in a tablespoon of honey, mix well.

Roast your chicken, breast side down in your baking dish with a mixture of a 1/4 cup fresh orange juice and a 1/4 cup water.  I know this seems against the grain, but the chicken will cook nicely, brown nicely and the breast will not only be the juiciest ever, but they will have that wonderful citrus, ginger flavor with a hint of rosemary.  This is especially great for those who remove and don't eat the skin from the breast anyway : )

While you are roasting your chicken, brush the entire bird on occasion with the glaze you created with the juice, ginger and honey as you would your turkey : ) 


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Pasta in a Meaty Mushroom Sauce w/ Spinach

I love a great pasta dish.  I think it's a nice homey comfort food that can be both simple and gourmet & always deliciously satisfying.  There are a seemingly endless list of possibilities for sauces and ingredients to make up a pasta dish, it's this versatility that makes it one of my favorites.

In the event that a meaty mushroom sauce is what I crave to cling to my pasta for the evening, it doesn't mean we can't still throw in something fresh to brighten things up a bit : ) 

Saute sliced mushrooms in preheated extra virgin olive oil until the moisture from the mushrooms has come out and it begins to evaporate.  I like the mushrooms soft, yet not browned.  Season with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper while cooking.

Heat a pot of salted water to boil your pasta in while the mushrooms cook.

Remove mushrooms from pan & set aside.

Brown 1/2lb of ground beef in the same pan until cooked through but not browned till crisp.  Drain well to remove any fats and add mushrooms back to pan.

While the beef is cooking, you can boil your pasta until al dente, then drain and set aside.

Add either your homemade sauce you made that day, your favorite sauce from a jar or in this case...I used a frozen sauce I had made previously and had stored for later use : )  Mix the sauce, beef and mushrooms and let heat through.

Add cooked pasta directly to the pan and mix with your sauce.

Throw in a bit of fresh spinach to brighten things up a bit, it wilts pretty well, so I added enough to just mix in enough to give every few spoonfuls a little color.

Spinach cooks and wilts quickly and since I didn't want to lose too much of it's form, I barely let it cook in the pan before serving the pasta on plates.  It added a wonderful texture, a really pretty visual to the plate and tasted great too : )

Tomato Sauce

4 small cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
5 Shakes from the basil jar (dried)
5 Shakes from the oregano jar (dried)
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 tomatoes chopped into small pieces
1 small can tomato paste, I use the whole can...
 1 teaspoon of white sugar

     I saute the onion in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a pad of butter with the seasoning's.  When they are soft and only slightly browning, I add the garlic and pull the pot off of the stove so I can mix it all together.  It helps the garlic from burning if it is not over the direct heat.  I add my tomato paste, stir....over the heat for about a minute and add my tomatoes. 

     You can always add a liquid to the sauce as well, some use water, some use tomato juice, and some even use tomato soup...I will leave this one up to you.  Personally, I choose between an actual can of tomato sauce, tomato juice if I have it or water, for me it's whatever is on hand.

     Tomatoes are acidic, so this is when I toss in my sugar, it helps to sweeten things up a bit and creates a nice balance.  Simmering this sauce for anywhere between 45 minutes and a hour and it's done, it reduces down a bit, the flavors meld together and is delicious.
Till next time : ) Happy Cookin'

As a really exciting side note for today's post, I have been selected as one of the very lucky cook's/bloggers to participate in an awesome contest hosted by and O Olive Oil!  It's the
Rites of Spring Cooking Contest

Stay tuned for the upcoming inspired recipe I create with this awesome looking product (I haven't tried it YET) and my first thoughts on tasting it too (good or bad)  ; )

I would really appreciate any and all of your support, so to do this...VISIT & LIKE these Facebook pages and let them know Jenn @ I'm Cookin' In My Kitchen sent you : )  Thanks!

O Olive Oil    &   eRecipeCards

Thanks so much for your support and as always, for stopping by to visit : )

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