Adventures of an unfussy foodie.

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September 27, 2010

Daring Baker Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies

I always look forward to the Daring Baker Challenge every month. Because I was traveling so much last month, I didn't have a chance to participate, so I was doubly excited to get back in the game this month.

The challenge for September was to make and decorate beautiful sugar cookies in the theme of "September" -- whatever that means to you. And to me, among other things, September really means football season. So what better way to celebrate a great start to the season for my Utah Utes than to make (and eat) Ute cookies!

So, Saturday night, while we listened to the Utes cream San Jose State, I carefully crafted these beauties:

I couldn't resist a not-so-subtle dig at BYU (the "Y"), the biggest rival of our Runnin' Utes.
My dad graduated from the "Y", so I made him eat it. So glad he's a good sport! :)

Oh, the sweet taste of victory!

Want to make some cookies of your own? Read on, my friend. Read on.

September 23, 2010

Storing Summer

I love this time of year. Have I mentioned that, yet?

My mother grew up in a small-ish town called Brigham City in northern Utah, where they grow delicious peaches. In the early part of September every year, they have a festival they call "Peach Days". I remember going as a child -- there were rides and games and, I think, a parade. But mostly I remember the peaches we would eat from my grandparents' back yard.

They tasted like summer. Like every spark of sunshine over the summer months was collected and stored for later, giving the fruit it's sunrise-colored skin, plump and soft and warm from the treetops.

The first time I ever had freezer jam, I was at my cousin, Jenny's, house. Tired from playing house or spinning around in circles or generally causing trouble, we had begged for a snack. My aunt produced a small square tupperware from the depths of the freezer, and not too much later we each had a jam sandwich with the most heavenly concoction I could ever remember tasting -- Strawberry. Freezer. Jam.

September 21, 2010

Local Flavor: Bruges Waffles and Frites

Imagine a sunny Friday afternoon in early fall, a clear, blue sky.

Imagine you have the afternoon off of work to spend with friends. You decide to go to Bruges Waffles and Frites.

Now imagine the most delicious waffles you've ever tasted; crispy and chewy and sweet, topped with tangy fresh fruit and creme fraiche, flecked with pearls of sugar. And don't forget to dream up some excellent fries as well.

Salivating yet?

Whatever you may have conjured up in your imagination, these are better.

On just such a beautiful Friday, some friends and I headed down to Bruges to see what it was all about. And what it's all about is a slice of Europe right here in SLC. Though a bit pricey, Bruges serves up some serious waffles -- crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with crunchy bits of sugar dotted throughout. You can top with your choice of seasonal fruit, sweetened creme fraiche, or get the "Torpedo" -- the height of decadence with a whole bar of dark chocolate sandwiched between two layers of waffle.

Bruges started out at the local Farmers' Market and quickly became so popular that they opened a storefront right across the street from Pioneer Park. They emphasize using local produce to top their waffles (even if the waffles themselves are made of imported ingredients), which made me smile as I dug into my vanilla/creme fraiche/Brigham City peach goodness.

The verdict: Give it a try. I certainly intend to go back again. Maybe on a midwinter day with some hot cocoa on the side...

Nom nom nom...

September 17, 2010

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Just a quick weekend note to encourage SLC residents to check out some new restaurants this week by taking advantage of the great deals offered through the Downtown Alliance Dine-o-Round.

September 17 (today) - October 2 (next Saturday) a number of great eateries in downtown SLC will band together to deliver popular items in a preset menu for a fantastic price: $5-10 for lunch and $15-30 for dinner.

Directory of participating restaurants here.

My picks (in no particular order):

ACME Burger
The Copper Onion
Lamb's Grill
Robin's Nest
Settebello Pizzeria
Tin Angel
Wild Grape Bistro

I also hear fun things about the ever popular Red Rock and Squatters pubs.

Now, go ye forth and eat well this weekend!

September 16, 2010

There's a recipe somewhere in here...

You know, food blogging isn't my life. Compared to a lot of food bloggers, or even bloggers in general, I spend relatively little time running my blog. Generally speaking, I post about what I make for meals at home, sharing with you a new recipe I've tried or an old favorite we return to time and time again. If I happen to take a picture, that's fantastic, and I give myself a pat on the back.

The hardest times to put a post together are when my house is a wreck. Like right now, for instance. It's hard to get decent pictures when in the background you see a mountain of unwashed dishes or a forest of cereal boxes littering the kitchen table. And unlike many other types of blogs, a food blog requires one to create something in order to write about it. So it's a challenge -- a challenge I signed up for willingly, so I'm not complaining, really, just mulling over why it can take me forever sometimes to get something on here that satisfies me.

And I hope that what I write satisfies you, too. Maybe it inspires you or makes you laugh. Whatever keeps you coming here, I'm glad because I love that anyone would think to pay attention to my little corner of the internet at all. So, Thanks!

After all that, I do have a recipe to share with you. It takes so few ingredients and so little effort that it can barely be called a recipe at all, but it is truly scrumptious so I hope you will try it. (I even took a picture! {Pat on back.})

Slow-Cooker Beef for French Dip Sandwiches
 recipe originally found at Skinny Bovine's Kitchen

1 packet onion soup mix (such as Lipton)
1 packet zesty Italian dressing mix (such as Good Seasons)
a beef roast, 3 or 4 pounds (Whatever kind you can find for a good price. We usually use chuck.)
sliced provalone cheese
good french rolls
caramelized onions (optional)

The super easy directions are as follows: Place roast in crock pot. (Mine is a 5 qt. size.) Sprinkle in both packets of seasoning. Fill with enough water to just cover the roast. Let cook on low all day. When the meat falls apart, it's ready. (Usually after 8 hours or so.)

When you're ready to serve, shred the beef with two forks. Split your french rolls, top with provalone and broil until golden. Fill prepared rolls with beef (and caramelized onions, if you've gone to the trouble of making them) and serve with a little dish of the liquid (jus) from the slow-cooker.

Leftovers can be frozen and reheated. (I never have any jus left when I freeze my leftovers, so I serve it the second time around with the au jus from a packet. Still delish!)

September 02, 2010

Very nice, that risotto!

I don't know the reason, but for a couple of weeks now I have been craving rice. It's not something we eat a whole lot of, especially when you compare it to the amount of pasta we eat, but I just knew that a risotto would hit the spot.

Perhaps it's the onset of Fall I can feel and see in everything around me. The light has changed somehow, as it always does this time of year, and temps have cooled ever so slightly, letting me know that my favorite season is just around the corner! And with my favorite season come cooler nights and heartier dishes, like the mushroom risotto I made the other night.

Now, I've eaten risotto before, and I've helped my mom make risotto before, and I've watched people get yelled at by Gordon Ramsey for making bad risotto before, but I've never made it for myself. It was time.

I found a recipe from Cooking Light that sounded just perfect (well... almost) and I set to work.

I was advised that when making risotto, it is best to have everything prepped and ready to go before you start, because once you get going, you'll be busy stirring and won't have time to chop mushrooms and shallots or strip sprigs of thyme of their leaves... so if you can prep the night before it will make your life a lot easier.

The original recipe called for dried porcini mushrooms, and I hadn't the foggiest idea where to find those, plus I know that I like creminis, so that's what I used. The original also called for mascarpone cheese, which I substituted for the cream cheese I had on hand. (Besides, 89¢ beats $5.99 any day of the week in my [pocket]book.)
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