Monday, August 30, 2010

Nana Mary's Sausage & Peppers

Being of Italian descent, I remember as a child going to my great grandmother's house in Staten Island, NY and just remember the smells of her tiny kitchen.   Nana Mary was a short 4'11" Italian cook, remembering she had to stand on a stool in front of the stove, stirring tall pots of homemade tomato sauce or as Nana said "gravy".  Sunday's were a day for family to get together and my mom would drive me and my brother from Long Island to Staten Island every Sunday for dinner with our relatives.    We have a large Italian family and Nana would cook large amounts of gravy loaded with homemade meatballs, sausage and pork chops with homemade pasta.  Starting her cooking early in the morning for a 2:00 afternoon meal. 

It gave her great joy when everyone was at the table eating her meal.  Which started with a homemade plate of Antipasto, fruit, different cheeses, deli meats, and that was before the meal.   My uncle made homemade red wine in his basement and I can remember the grown ups drinking wine from small jelly glasses. 

Food traditions are a very important part of our family and I have carried those traditions down to my children.  Although, it might be hard to have a sit down 2:00 Sunday dinner, I often make recipes I remember from Nana Mary. 

Sausage and peppers from Nana Mary is a simple uncomplicated dish that originally Nana would serve over fresh pasta, but I love the recipe as a sandwich and so does my family.   Made from homemade marinara sauce, onions, peppers, garlic and special seasonings I serve the sausage and peppers on hero rolls, and watch as my husband and son devour several sandwiches each.   As I watch them eat, I feel like Nana Mary did and it makes me smile!

Hamburgers "Breakfast of Champions!"

Saturday's for the wife and I are what we call "running around day"  a day devoted to catching up on all of our errands, preparing for the week ahead. 

This Saturday morning the wife and I had a full morning of dropping dogs off to the groomers, here is a picture of our newly groomed babies, Abby a.k.a Miss Mary and Bailey a.k.a Bad Boy Bailey.  Don't they look so cute?
Bailey & Abby

Grooming day for the dogs is sometimes an all day event because we take them to a wonderful lady named Liz, in Justin,TX  which is a 1/2 hour from where we live, so we try to do things close by.  Wife also had an appointment at a nearby salon, so being the good husband I decided to wait in the car until she was done, but all that time I was getting really hungry and a big sign in front of me read "The Snooty Pig Cafe"    The Snooty Pig Cafe is a diner like eatery located in Argyle,TX .   We mainly go there for breakfast and sometimes lunch and are known for their colossal homemade muffins and biscuits. 

So by the time wife was done with her salon appointment I said "let's have breakfast"  we situated ourselves and wife ordered a traditional breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and a biscuit with a side of fresh hot coffee.  I looked on the menu front to back and wasn't sure what to eat.  So being as hungry as I was decided to go with the hearty Chili Bacon Cheeseburger with jalapenos and fresh cut french fries.  Wife looked at me as if I was crazy having ordered this huge burger for breakfast but I just said it is a "breakfast of champions".  

When our order arrived I can see my wife laughing wondering how I was going to eat this for breakfast but I knew I wouldn't have a problem.  The insides of the bun were lightly grilled, soft and fresh, not to waste food I piled on the lettuce, tomato and raw onions.  Topped with mild homemade chili and jalapenos, I proceeded to add mustard, lil mayo and ketchup.   Yes, I know a little much, but I proceeded to dig in enjoying every messy, spicy bite, oh and it had bacon also!  "Small Feat for Mankind" but somebody had to do it!

If you are ever in Argyle, Texas stop by the:
Snooty Pig Cafe
100 Country Club Road
Argyle, Texas  (940) 464-0748

Good breakfast and lunch plates at reasonable prices.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Summer's Simple Pleasures and Old Fashioned Ice Cream

When husband (Rowland) has the day off we try to make plans ahead of time, but if you live in Texas, this summer has been a hot one!  Since the beginning of August we have seen above 100 temps. 

We decided to go to the square in Denton, TX .  Really cute with the town hall building in the center and quaint shops surrounding it.   Denton Town Square is right near the University of North Texas Campus and is a popular place for students and where families come to walk the square and can eat at several of the great restaurants and shop the vintage boutiques.   During the summer the courthouse lawn is a gathering place for musicians to play and where you can just bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the show! 

So with no particular plans in mind we decided to go to our favorite vintage book store where I like to buy vintage cook books for inspiration.  We then visited our favorite antique store and several other shops, but as the heat of day soon approached (which is usually before 12:00) we decided to try a mom and pop old fashioned ice cream shop. 

Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop is just that, old fashioned!   When you walk in you feel like you stepped back in time with its black and white tiled floors, vintage lighting, counters with seating and pressed tin ceilings, housed in an authentic old building. 

Opening in 1998, they mix carbonated drinks from syrup and soda water the old fashioned way.  They make real ice cream soda's and all their ice cream is fresh and made on the premises.   Making ice cream the way ice cream was made 80 years ago.   When you walk in there is a large framed blackboard with all the flavors they offer, I lost count but I believe it was 100 flavors.  They make there waffle cones and their own hot fudge fresh every day.  From old fashioned sundaes to waffle cones and more toppings then I could have imagined.  They also offer a lunch menu of sandwiches and soup. 

My husband and I decided to go simple, Rowland ordered watermelon ice cream and I ordered fresh strawberry and banana and coconut cream scoop.  Our ice cream was served in a cold frosted oval glass dish.   Since it was to hot outside we decided to sit inside at one of the round tables with antique metal chairs. 

Before I could take a picture of Rowland's ice cream he was done!  I should have taken a picture before we sat down, oh well!  Rowland's watermelon ice cream was the color of watermelon, fresh and creamy with fresh watermelon in the ice cream, there was also small chocolate chips to mimic the seeds of a watermelon.   I had two scoops of creamy dreamy heaven, my strawberry & banana scoop was mixed with fresh strawberries and fresh banana in a creamy smooth base.  My coconut cream was pure heaven, not overly sweet but just creamy coconut taste with coconut flakes mixed in.

                                              Yummy, Yummy!  

Sometimes it is good to step back from our daily fast paced lives and just slow down and re-connect with the person you love and enjoy the simple pleasures life has to offer and that is what we did on Husband's day off.

If you love old fashioned ice cream and are in Denton, TX be sure to visit:

Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop
117 West Hickory Street
Denton,  TX  76201

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shout Out to Our New Blogger Friends

We just wanted to say a few words about our Foodbuzz friends.  It was great meeting fellow bloggers at the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Event, at Carrabba's Italian Grill this past Saturday. 

If you have not yet attended a Foodbuzz Event, it is a fun way of meeting your fellow Foodbuzz Bloggers in person.  This was our first event and we absolutely had a great time meeting people that have the same common interest as we do.  There was never a shortage of conversation when you all share a common passion which in our case is food.

We just wanted to mention some of the bloggers we met and if you have not visited their blogs, give them a visit because they are a great bunch of people!

We enjoyed meeting each and every one of you, can't wait for the next event!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Foodbuzz Tastemakers Event - Carrabba's Italian Grill, Plano, TX

On behalf of Foodbuzz we were invited to attend as correspondents to cover a Foodbuzz Tastemaker Event at Carrabba's Italian Grill, Plano, TX along with fellow Foodbuzz bloggers on Saturday, August 14, 2010.

Founded in 1986 by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola in Houston, TX.  With a vast experience in the restaurant business many of the recipes derived from Damian's mother Grace and sister Rose, while traveling to Italy in search of unique dishes back in his grandparents native region.

Carrabba's caught the attention of Outback Steakhouse, Inc., owners and formed a joint venture partnership in 1993.   In 1995 Outback Steakhouse, Inc. acquired the rights to develop Carrabba's Italian Grill nationwide.

Upon arriving we were met by the Proprietor, Josh Goldschmidt.  Josh and his staff welcomed us and explained what was planned for the event.  We were soon joined by other fellow Foodbuzz bloggers and it was so great to meet everybody and formed new friendships.  Our tour included a behind the scenes kitchen class, which was lead by there chef who demonstrated and explained what goes into preparing a pasta dish.  At Carraba's all the pasta is prepared fresh and does not lay around all day, in fact it is only allowed to stay out for 2 hours and then discarded and fresh pasta is made.  In fact our demonstration was about fresh Penne Franco which was a dish made with fresh mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and black olives with a ricotta salata.  With an emphasis on fresh ingredients the finished dish looked delicious!

We were also treated to a wonderful light and refreshing Sangria with fresh blackberries!  Would come back just for Blackberry Sangria, so good!

After our behind the scenes class demostration we were seated and given a personalized menu card with our names on it, with a 3 course selection.

To start our meal we were served Bruschetta Con Pesto, grilled bread topped with fresh pesto, diced Roma tomatoes, ricotta salata cheese and basil.  The crispy bread with fresh vegetables and ripe juicy Roma tomatoes was a delight and a great way to start our meal.  There was small bowls of extra virgin olive oil with an herb mix that was perfect for dipping our bruschetta.  It reminded me of my family italian family table and how we love to incorporate olive oil.

We were than offered a choice of homemade soup or fresh green salad with a choice of their fresh vinaigrette or other dressings.  Greens were crisp and fresh and colorful with a side of dressing of choice.

For the main course my husband and I choose the Rigatoni Campagnolo, which was large tubular pasta tossed with Italian fennel sausage, roasted red bell peppers and pomodoro, topped with a medallion of Caprino goat cheese.
This tasted like homemade with a light and flavorful tomato base flavored with fennel sausage.  I never had goat cheese with a pasta dish but the warm buttery medallions of goat cheese were the perfect topper.

With our stomachs full with good food and conversation our experience at Carraba's Italian Grill in Plano, TX  was a pleasant event.   The staff was warm and pleasant.   Our waitress was a good sport when we asked her to take numerous group pictures!    All through our meal Josh the proprietor came buy to talk and made us feel at home with his warm hospitality.

At the end of our meal we all received goodie bags full of pasta, salad, dessert and a warm personalized handwritten note from Josh thanking us!

Carraba's Italian Grill is a close to italian home cooking as you can get.  They only use the freshest ingredients and everything is cooked fresh and you can certainly taste it.  If you are looking for great homemade italian food and a warm friendly environment and possibly the best fresh fruit blackberry Sangria we ever had stop at Carraba's Italian Grill.

We just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Carraba's Italian Grill, Plano, TX

Ronnie to the left and Rowland to the right.

We enjoyed meeting each and every Foodbuzz blogger and are looking forward to meeting again!

Visit our friends at Carraba's Italian Grill at 3400 N. Central Expy, Plano, TX  75074, Phone 972-516-9900 - Josh Goldschmidt, Proprietor

We Are Back!

Life has a funny way of getting in the way and before you know it time has just gone by. 

Our son Alex, signed up to be a Marine Reservist and is currently in boot camp for 3 months in Parris Island, South Carolina.  It was hard to see him go because we talk to him almost everyday and being in boot camp we have no contact with him other than letters.  Being a mother I wanted to send him a care package from home but Alex wrote us and said he can only receive certain items like protein bars, Gatorade and vitamin C.   Oh well sending him baked goods is not an option.  We miss him very much but look forward to his boot camp graduation in October. 

Jason, our youngest is starting his Junior year in college at UNT and ready for dorm life again, but said he looks forward to coming home on the weekends for mom's home cooking!

With so many things going on and plus starting a new business, a couple of days became a month, but we are back and have plenty to talk about.  

Husband and I attended a FoodBuzz Tastemaker Event at Carrabas in Plano, TX this weekend and will be posting our story and review, stay tuned!