Friday, May 2, 2014

Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad

Tonight is Craft Night at my house. It is the night where I kick the boys out, chill some wine and prepare to eat and craft with some awesome ladies. For my dish, I thought a pasta salad would be good and during lunch I had an inspiration. Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad! Then John, being the superior cook in the house, helped me make it.

First I boiled up some penne pasta. We got some fresh veggies and I asked John to help me blog my pasta salad. That is actually code for "please chop the veggies cause you are better at it than me".

First a green pepper. I joked that I didn't need to take this photo, I probably have at least ten photos of John chopping green peppers.

Some Vidalia onion. This made me a little teary. They were very strong.

Roma tomatoes. They were the cheapest but I love how meaty they are. I am ready for some real homegrown tomatoes though.

Mozzarella. (Imagine John saying that like Giada De Laurentiis "moozarellllla")


A little Italian spice.

Oops! Almost forgot the mushrooms.

Finally the dressing. This is some doctored up Olive Garden dressing. John adds garlic to give it more kick.

All mixed up and chilling in the fridge.

Better go vacuum before the ladies arrive!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Restaurant Review: Zombie Burger

Zombie Burger has been around for a few years now and we've been saying that we need to go for almost as long. We had to head downtown so I suggested we finally visit.  It is in the East Village of downtown and is surrounded by quirky and interesting shops. We got there right at lunch time when it opened and it was a good thing we did, because it was soon very packed. 

It had quite a selection of drinks and we knew we had to try one since the second half of the name is "Drink Lab". I went simple and had a root beer float.

Chris had a Zombie Joe, which was ice cream and espresso. I took a sip and it was very good.

John had been craving a Rice Crispy Treat shake since he'd reviewed the menu and it was so thick, he could barely get it through the straw. It was like a premium vanilla shake with some marshmallow flavor and those rice crispies floating.

We started with some deep fried cheese curds. They were good but nothing special.

With our burgers we got some of their Blue Cheese Garlic Bacon fries. They were totally AMAZING! They should be a controlled substance. They were so good. Crispy shoe-string fries covered with blue cheese, bacon bits, and chopped garlic. I wanted to bury my face in it, but even at a zombie themed restaurant, it would be in bad taste.

We got some of their regular plain fries too. We didn't know how many fries came with it, but there was more than enough in one order. We would only need one order next time. It may be one of the only times we left fries on the table.

I had the La Horde burger. It had goat cheese, bacon and caramelized onions. The burger was cooked perfectly and so juicy. Great flavor combo. It was really tasty.

Chris had The Walking Ched. Those big brown discs are deep fried macaroni and cheese acting as the bun. Then there is more mac and cheese, bacon and mayo. Chris loved it and said that even though he'd love to try other burgers on the menu, it would stay on the docket for future meals.

John had They're Coming To Get You Barbara.  The buns were two grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon, cheese, caramelized onions and Zombie sauce, which is kind a ketchup blend.

This was a great meal and we loved it. We will definitely be making the trip downtown again. Zombieburger is a great place to take friends or relatives from out-of-town for a great take on burgers that's not available anywhere but in Des Moines!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Best Italian Sandwiches EVER! And I'm not kidding!!!!

For a few months, a guy I worked with, a fellow foodie, kept bugging me to get this special sandwich called "The Fireman".  It wasn't on the menu and was only advertised by Twitter on days it was available. Finally one day it was available and I had cash on me, so I said yes.

He listed the ingredients which all seemed to be prefaced with the word "spicy". I asked if it was tasty spicy or "melt my face off" spicy.  I like spicy, but only if it enhances the flavor, not to prove anything.  He said it was tasty spicy. So we got them to go and brought them back to work.

I opened the box and it was a beautiful sandwich. It was on garlic foccacia.  It had capicola, pepperoni and a spicy ham. It was topped with a guardinaire.  It was also MASSIVE.

I took a bite and it was amazing.  It also melted my face off.  Thank goodness I was wearing layers that day.

I brought half of the sandwich home to John. He warmed it up and fell in love.  Next thing you know, we are creating our own version.  After a couple of tweaks to tone it down, we have created the BEST ITALIAN SANDWICH EVER AND I'M NOT KIDDING!

We tried with some garlic foccacia, but found that a simpler bread was the perfect compliment to all the complex flavors in the sandwich. We went to the Italian market and got some meats for our sandwich.

First we heat the rolls a little.  It makes the outside a little crusty and the insides soft and warm.

John pulls them out with his asbestos hands.

Sliced in half.

A little spread of garlic aioli.

Sandwich pepperoni.

Salami.  John just tells the Italian market guy he wants salami for sandwiches. We trust our guy.

An extra slice of pepperoni. John decided it need a touch more.

Capicola.  So tasty.

A slice of boiled ham. It helps marry all the flavors together.

Then comes the giardiniera. This is the hard part. We get it at the local Italian grocery store. The hot kind is super hot, and I am very delicate. The mild doesn't have enough kick for John. For some reason they don't make a medium...I don't know why. So we bought a big jar of mild and a little jar of hot and made our own medium.

John drained the oil off and topped the sandwiches, well, he topped four of them, Chris likes his without.

Then half a slice of provolone.

Tops on.

We cover it with foil and it is ready to steam to perfection. Pop them into the 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

And they are delicious.  Spicy and warm and just plain perfect.

Seriously...the BEST Italian sandwiches! We could eat these every day for weeks! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

John recently posted about where he and Chris went for my Craft night. The first Friday of each month I have the ladies over for food, drink and a craft project. It is a lot of fun and much laughter ensues. For the most recent one, I thought some nice warm soup would hit the spot. So I asked John to make the Trisha Yearwood recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Here are most of the ingredients.

We boiled a whole chicken breast with the bone in to start.

Some onion and garlic to chop up.

John used the handy, dandy chopper.

A little butter in the stockpot. This has a nice copper bottom that really keeps the heat in.

Throw in the onions and garlic. This makes the house smell so good.

A little flour to make a bit of a roux.

All mixed up and ready for the next step.

Add the cans of chicken broth.

Secret weapon. A can of cream of chicken soup.

For that added creaminess, half and half. Definitely not for the lactose intolerant.

Some cumin, secret of chefs from Mexico. Or at least the one John cooked with in Mexico.

A packet of fajita mix.

Some salsa. We like the store brand. It is good and comes with fuel credits!

Then we threw it all in the crockpot to stay warm for Craft night.

We added beans.

And more beans.

And corn.

Then I shredded up the chicken breast. I have to admit, this was my only job and I didn't shred it as much as I should have. No fault of John's. He thought I could handle it.

That went into the pot next.

I forgot to take photos of the finished product which was garnished with tortilla chips, Mexican cheese and sour cream.  It was great and there were plenty of leftovers.

Here's the recipe!

My Craft night companions loved it too.  But that is all I can say, because what happens at Craft night, stays at Craft night.