Friday, February 21, 2014

Krewe of Nyx Ball. Time to par-tay!

Okay, I've been a blogging slacker. Blame it on the mind numbing, ridiculously cold weather.  I've been in mental hibernation mode.

But Mardi Gras is bringing me back to life!!

I have been having so much fun preparing for my inaugural ride in the Mystic Krewe of Nyx....decorating purses (post on that to come), making headpieces and getting ready for the ball!

The Nyx ball was held at the New Orleans Riverside Hilton on February 1, 2014. Prince Charming and I had our baby girl chauffeur us to the bar...need I say more?? We' adults and parents.

Did I mention this is a formal masquerade ball? I mean, you gotta love an occasion that allows you to not only get all dressed up, but wear a feathery, glittery mask, right???  It's nice to have your arm candy all decked out in a tux, too.

I'm afraid we had so much fun that I didn't take many pictures...and the ones that I did take were on my antique iPhone...and it was dark, so the quality isn't stellar.

Anyway, we got in, found our table...reserved thanks to our awesome float lieutenant who even made us these awesome light up cups, complete with boa trim, thank you very much.

While we're talking tables, can I just say the centerpieces and the room in general looked AMAZING!
Glorious pink and bling EVERYWHERE!!

LOVE the pink plumes and crystals

We had drinks, made merry, and sat for the presentation of the float lieutenants, Captain and Godesses, past and present. Lots of second lining, ladies hooting and hollerin'.  Then a first ever meeting of the Captains and Goddess of Nyx and Zulu.

The crowd went wild when the Zulu Warriors entered the room.  
I warned you that the pictures were really, really bad.  

Remember....old bar.....

After that fun, they served dinner and we danced, danced, hungry again....enjoyed the breakfast buffet and finally called a cab and headed home sometime in the wee hours of the morning.  

Thanks to the ladies of Nyx, and these two wonderful ladies in particular, I am having the time of my life. Hail Nyx!!

Now if we can just get Mother Nature to cooperate on Feb. 26.....

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Shrimp Boil Frittata....or crawfish...or crab

We recently boiled shrimp for the baby girl's 23rd birthday. Uncharacteristically for our gluttonous crew, we had leftovers.  I know, right?   The only possible explanation for this is we were saving room for the Reese's Peanut Butter Cake to be served later....speaking of gluttony.

Anyway, the next day I was trying to think of something to whip up with our leftovers....something different...and easy....cause I hate cooking after being at work all day.

I mean look at these? Couldn't you just eat the entire bowl....snap out of it. I decided to try a baked omelet...kind of like a frittata, but you just do it all in the oven.  It was really good. You can use any kind of seafood you have...shrimp, crawfish, crabs....or if the Gods have blessed you....a mixture of all three.

Seafood (Shrimp/Crawfish/Crab) Boil Baked Omelet 

Printable Recipe here


Whatever you have leftover from your shrimp/crawfish/crab boil
8 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 10" round baking dish

Peel your delicious leftover shrimp or crawfish and/or pick the crabs.  

Use whatever you have left from your boil....definitely garlic, and hopefully corn (remove from cob) and sausage.  Chop, chop, chop.  

Beat eggs and milk in a large bowl.  Add in cheese (this is optional and feel free to use whatever you like, though I think something mild is nicer.  I think I had a Mexican blend for this recipe.)   Sir in seafood and veggies (you might want to zap these in the microwave for just a few seconds to take the chill off) and salt and pepper (maybe a dash of Tabasco if you're feeling crazy) to taste.  Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.  Bake until eggs are puffy and browned, about 25 minutes.  

I also chopped up the potatoes left from the boil, plopped (and that is a frou frou culinary term...plop) them in a bowl with a little olive oil drizzled over them, and heated them in the microwave. It was a perfect accompaniment to this meal.

Now I just need to make sure we always have leftovers after a seafood boil....yeah right.

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Bacchanal Wine - Gourmet Supper Club October '13 outing

Our October Gourmet Supper Club outing was to a funky-cool totally New Orleans kind of place....Bacchanal Wine on Poland Avenue in the 9th Ward.

You walk into what is basically a wine store....plenty to choose from at reasonable prices.  We were given the quick tour by the friendly host and then our group each made their wine choices....hubby and I decided on bottle of Pinot Noir from Elk Cove Vineyards in Willamette Valley, Oregon. I wish I remembered the year, but it escapes me.  I love Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs....they never disappoint, and this bottle was no exception.

With our bottles in hand, we headed upstairs to throw a few tables together for our group.  You can also sit outside and enjoy the live music, but it was a little cool (below 70 which for me means hypothermia could set in any minute).  It didn't seem to bother these people though.

I wish I'd taken pics of the upstairs restaurant area.  Very cool....high ceilings, open screenless windows, lots of dark wood and candlelight....very cozy and casual.  Just too dark for pics.

But back to food.  Hubby went back downstairs to order (this is not a true restaurant where they come to your table and take your order.  You order at the desk in the wine store downstairs, they give you a number on a stand to place on your table, and bring your food when it's ready).  He chose a nice tray of gouda cheese, bread, olive oil and olives...this is a must do....sooooooo good.

I got the Squash soup (squash soup, fregula sarda, pecorino romano, kale, herbs de provence), which was very good and had a real homemade quality to it.

Hubby got the Johnny Cakes (johnny cakes, eggplant caponata, asparagus, pickled carrots), also delicious.  I tasted this, but honestly I just don't remember much about it.  It was good, but I was more into the bread, cheese and my soup.

Then came the entrees.....OMG....I definitely won the prize for picking the best entree on the menu....the Pork Chop (pork chop, arugula, white anchovies, parmigiano-reggiano, balsamic vinegar).  I almost licked my lie.  If you look closely at the picture, you can see that, in my haste to sample this dish, I dove into my pork chop and cut a hunk off of it before I remembered to snap a pic.  See how nicely I fit it all back together for your viewing pleasure?

Sadly, I did not get a photo of hubby's grilled hanger steak.  Pretty sure it was gone before I finished snapping pics of my pork chop.

Our friend, Nancy, was nice enough to share her dessert with the table....chocolate bark, extra virgin olive oil, marcona almonds, sel gris. Very good and ohhhhhhh so rich.

And just to add a little fun to the night, Nancy also got the bar tender to show us his waaaaay cool Telly Savalas tattoo.  That's right, Kojak right on the calf.  That is true commitment...and suddenly I feel the need for a lollipop....showing my age here.

We really enjoyed Bacchanal and would go back.  I might even go back just for the wine and cheese...on a warmer night so we can sit outside and enjoy the live music (they do provide bug spray).

One word of warning, we all parked across the street in front of an abandoned building....fence up, overgrown weeds. When we left, we all had parking tickets...$40.  It seriously put a damper on our wonderful evening. Apparently people have been parking here for ages (there's not a "No Parking" sign in sight) and it's only recently become a problem. Hopefully they can get this straightened out with the city soon, because parking is a real issue here.  It's a shame, because this is really a place worth visiting.

Give Bacchanal a try....great for a lazy night with friends...great place to bring out of town visitors to so they can get a real taste of NOLA....great place for live music that's not so loud you can't hear yourself think....just an all around great find. Cheers....and Who Loves Ya Baby?

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Reese's Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting and Ganache...pure Heaven!

The baby girl recently turned 23.  Not sure how that's possible since I'm only 29, but with today's miracles of science, it can proof right here.

Back to THE cake.  I made this cake a few years ago for hubby's birthday and it was a huge hit, so I dragged out the recipe again (well, the part of the recipe I could find...more to come on that later).  You can get the recipe for the cake and PB frosting right here.

For the ganache/chocolate glaze, I used this recipe because I couldn't find the recipe I used the first time I made this cake...hand upside the head (see warning below).

I used mini Reese's PB cups and Reese's Pieces as a garnish...I mean what's better than chocolate and peanut butter on top of chocolate and peanut butter?

Now let me warn you, this cake is RICH.  I am proud to say I can eat a LOT of chocolate in one sitting, but this is truly a "one piece and you. are. done" kind of cake.  

And now for the warning about the ganache.  I subbed semi-sweet morsels for the bittersweet baking chocolate called for in the recipe....big mistake.  My glaze was more like syrup. I would imagine if you're going to use semi-sweet morsels, don't use the corn syrup. Better yet, just buy the *&%$ bittersweet baking chocolate and follow the recipe.  Lesson learned.  Still, even with my faulty ganache, this cake was UNBELIEVABLE.

Give this one a try...make sure you invite over enough friends to eat the entire thing 'cause I warn you, it is dangerously good and probably not low cal, but I'm just guessing on that point.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chocolate Chip Gooey Bars...oh my!

We recently went to a wine tasting hosted by our friends where everyone was asked to bring a tasty tidbit to share.  I figured wine....chocolate....(okay, maybe this is not the kind of frou frou chocolate you're supposed to have with wine, but work with me here).  I've seen versions of the recipe all over the place, so I figured I'd give it a try.

First, the ingredients...pretty basic stuff....oh, and here's the printable recipe

1 box yellow recipe cake mix (can also use Butter recipe)
*4-6 tbs. flour 
1 egg
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, melted

1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 16 oz. box powdered suga
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
1 c. chocolate chips

3/4 cup chocolate chips (add or subtract as needed)
1 - 2 tbs. shortening (same here, add or subtract as needed)

*The notation to add 4-6 tbs of flour is due to the fact that over the last few years, cake manufacturers have decreased cake mix box sizes from 18.25 ounces down to 16.25 and 15.25 ounces.  After an exhaustive google search, I've found recommendations to add 6 Tbs. of flour to make up for this decreased size.  I was a little nervous about this, so I only added 4 tbs. to this recipe.  It was fine.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13 in. pan.
In a bowl, combine cake mix, *flour, egg, and butter with an electric mixer. Mix well.  Pat into the bottom of greased pan and set aside.  Beat cream cheese until smooth with electric mixer, then add eggs and vanilla.  Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until combined.  Reduce the speed of mixer and slowly pour in melted butter.  Mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour filling onto cake mixture, spreading evenly.  Bake for 40-50  minutes (I left mine in closer to 50 minutes and probably overdid it a bit...try to leave the center a little gooey).  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.


I find it super easy to just add chocolate chips (semi-sweet morsels) to a squeeze bottle, add a tbs. or 2 of shortening (depending on the quantity of morsels, and how runny you want the drizzle to be....add a little, then increase if necessary) and then just pop it in the microwave for a bit. Keep checking it and stir (I use a skewer) to make sure it's stirred really well. 

Then have fun drizzling. 

These were really good and will go into my regular rotation of things that I bake that make me chunkier than I want to be.  Whoever said, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels"...remind me to put down my chocolate and slap them.

Now, go pour yourself a glass of red wine and get busy baking!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Galvez Restaurant - Gourmet Supper Club September '13 outing

One night last December, a group of friends were sitting around enjoying a wonderful evening...eating, drinking, laughing, drinking, laughing, get the picture...hiccup.

We began to lament the fact that we're blessed to live in a city with so many wonderful dining options, but so little time to try them all.  

Well, one drink thing led to another and we decided to form the "Gourmet Supper Club".  We each put the names of restaurants we'd like to try in a bowl and picked 11 of them, and once a month we go together to these wonderful restaurants.  Why 11 you ask when a calendar clearly has 12 months?  No, it was not the alcohol....we saved our December outing for a special Reveillon Dinner to be determined at a later date.

During my absence from blogland, we tried quite a few wonderful restaurants....too many for me to go back and review, so I'll just start with September's outing....Galvez Restaurant.

The restaurant is on the 2nd floor and offers amazing views of the river and railways below.  As we dined and the sun set, the Crescent City Connection bridge lights came on and lit up the night sky and steamships and locomotives went about their daily business adding a wonderful soundtrack to our evening.  

It's a gorgeous restaurant in a quiet area of the French Quarter.  I am always fascinated with the statuary in the area. Apparently, so is our friend avoid confusion....Mike's the one on the left.

But back to Galvez.  The restaurant is really beautiful and completely appropriate for special occasions or just a quiet dinner with friends.

We started our evening with a few pitchers of Sangria.  While it was very tasty, I have to admit I wasn't a huge fan of the fruit with rinds still on it. Just not my thing. Please peel the fruit...thank you.

I started my meal with the Manchego Bombas appetizer (a traditional Spanish dish of potato croquettes stuffed with manchego cheese, deep fried and served with quince sauce) This was like fried cheese....overpriced fried cheese.  I wish I'd taken pics of everyone else's food, but I didn't want to be "that person"...ya know?  Our friend, Thorkil, had the seafood gumbo and it was delicious.  I think we all wished we would've gotten that.   

I figured if you're at a Spanish restaurant, ya gotta eat paella, so I went with the Paella Valenciana as my entree (served with mussels, shrimp, chorizo and chicken).  Again, I was underwhelmed.  On the plus side, it's a healthy portion and when I reheated it the next day for lunch it was much tastier than I remembered...seemed more flavorful.  

...and of course, I had to have dessert, so I got the Flan Estilo Galvez (classic Spanish custard with Caramel sauce topped with figs).  This was your basic flan....not bad....just basic flan.  

...and as I said, the view....well, it's hard to beat this.  

All in all, I'd give Galvez Restaurant a "C".  The food was just okay, but the views and atmosphere are "A+".  Some of our Supper Club group gives this a higher grade, and some a lower grade, so the reviews were mixed.

If I ever return, maybe I'd request a table outside on the 2nd floor balcony and just order tapas and drinks and enjoy a quiet, beautiful night in the French Quarter.

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Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Well, here in New Orleans, the thermostat dipped below 70 so that means it's fall and I can officially gorge myself on all things pumpkin!!

I'm not a huge oatmeal fan, but I know it's good for me and, well frankly I could eat pumpkin off a crusty old shoe, so I decided to give Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal a shot.

I perused the web and found a gojillion recipes, but none of them were exactly what I wanted and I had to go with the limited items I had on hand in my pantry.

Here's the concoction I came up with.... (printable recipe here)

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

1.5 cups Old Fashioned Oats
3 cups skim milk
3/4 cup pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
9 dashes pumpkin pie spice
2 dashes cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbs. Splenda brown sugar

Add all ingredients except Splenda brown sugar, bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes. Add Splenda brown sugar at the end.  As far as spices, vanilla and sugar, use these to suit your individual taste.  If you don't like Splenda, you could always use honey, maple syrup...skies the limit.

Use your choice of garnishes, though this is perfectly delicious as is.  I used walnuts, cranberries and raisins.  I think you could also sub almond milk for the skim milk and it'd be mighty tasty.

And because I was feeling especially proud of myself (and because I had it in the fridge), I squirted on some whipped cream....uh huh, yes I did.

I made this yesterday for breakfast and reheated the leftovers this morning (added a splash of skim milk to loosen it up) and it was just as good.

This is a definite keeper recipe! Happy Fall y'all!!

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