A few weeks ago I spent a few days with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paula.  We’ve been friends since 7th grade but lost contact for a few years when we got married, had our families and lived so far apart.  We have since reconnected and found that old friends never lose touch, they just start up where they left off and keep on going.  And now we have new memories to build on.  During Paula’s visit we cooked some fun meals and ate out to taste some of the local favorites.  We didn’t go hungry, that’s for sure!  When we were chatting about food she mentioned her favorite roasted corn with a mayo based sauce that is out of this world. It sounded so scrumptious that I started looking up recipes.  I found several different variations and came up with a combination that sounded tempting.  Thanks Paula for the tip, my family may never go back to butter again!


Have you ever wanted to make your own mustard and ketchup?  I know that I have, but never knew how easy it could be.  In less than 30 minutes I found I could make both and in my opinion tastes better than anything you can buy in the store.  Josh came over one day and we set out to try different versions to see what tasted best.  For the ketchup we tried a quick version which was made with a tomato paste base.  It had just the right texture, was slightly sweet and had a very good taste.  The other version was slow cooked with crushed tomatoes which we both decided tasted more like tomato soup than ketchup.  Needless to say it’s not something worth posting.  On the mustard side we tried mustard powder and mustard seeds.  The mustard powder dissolved in minutes with water and vinegar with spices and thickened with some homemade Wondra flour.  It’s spicier than your bottle of French’s you have in the pantry, so you may want to spread it lightly.  But it has a wonderful flavor that makes every sandwich, burger or brat taste so good.  The mustard seeds needed to soak overnight, then ground and strained but I could never get the same flavors to come out as I did with the powder.  Maybe I need to give it another try but for now mustard powder is the tried and true.  You can be sure that in a pinch you can have homemade mustard and ketchup in a matter of minutes with just a few simple ingredients.


I love big ole burritos stuffed with everything.  Sometimes I take the time to make a big batch of them that will last us for several days.  And sometimes I wrap them up to freeze for an easy meal later on.  I’ve been wanting to try a burrito bowl which is so popular these days.  I must admit it is much easier to just layer a bowl with my favorite meat and toppings but I missed the tortilla so I toasted one to have on the side.  This is literally a bowl of my favorite things starting with grilled steak and chicken that is spicy and flavorful.  More goodness comes with a scoop of fresh guacamole, salsa verde, roasted corn salsa, seasoned black beans, sour cream, Oaxaca cheese and cilantro lime rice.  Most everything was made from scratch but there are short cuts you can take to make the prep a little easier.  There is a visual appeal of a burrito bowl that you don’t get with a traditional burrito that is smashed together once you roll it up.  So the question is, do you prefer steak or chicken or both?


In June, Joe and I spent a few days vacationing in Florida.  We spent the majority of our time near Cocoa Beach where we enjoyed long walks along the beach.  Also, we spent a day at the Kennedy Space Center which gave us chills at times taking in all the history of the space program.  They house the Atlantis Space Shuttle there and it’s an amazing sight to see in person. One day we drove inland for a day trip to Orlando and spent a few hours at Downtown Disney. We weren’t there to go to the theme parks, just a day to spend walking around and enjoying the atmosphere, shop and enjoy some good food.  We stopped by Wolfgang Puck’s Cafe and enjoyed a light lunch.  I wasn’t particularly hungry so I ordered the Bruschetta with roasted tomatoes, pesto, topped with fresh arugula and shaved parmesan.  The first thing I tasted was the tomatoes.  The texture was thicker than roasted tomatoes and had a caramelized sweetness that tantalized my taste buds.  Every bite was an experience in sweet tomato flavors with a hint of saltiness in the background.  The pesto was fresh with olive oil dripping over the side of the toasted bread and it was all topped with fresh arugula and shaved parmesan. I made a note to self to make this when I got home.  My version is close but I added some bacon bits and brushed my Arugula pesto over the bread with some chiffonade basil leaves.  I made a little sugary blend to sprinkle on top to try and recreate that sweet caramelized flavor.  I came pretty close, see what you think!


It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy a platter of fried green tomatoes.  Every summer I can’t wait to try them in some new recipe.  This year I made a salad loaded with quartered fried green tomatoes, Aussie shrimp, bits of fried bacon and the most delicious remoulade dressing I’ve tasted since the old days at the Cafe Oceano in Albuquerque.  The Cafe is long gone now but I still remember the days of chalkboard seafood specials and the house remoulade dressing which was so good in my memory.  This salad is like a serving of Southern hospitality with warm tomatoes, spicy shrimp and bacon on top.  But don’t worry if you have any leftovers. Even chilled, this salad tastes great!


I made this for Joe on Father’s Day and thought it would make a great 4th of July treat as well. It was one of the few things he has ever asked me to make.  He was real stingy with his ice cream but when Little Man Z crawled in his lap he found an extra spoon to share.  He’s our new kitty and so adorable.  You should see the two of them sit together and eat ice cream.  This version is really simple and tastes like you went to your favorite ice cream shop.  I made up a batch of my homemade vanilla ice cream and added caramel sauce, a little coarse sea salt and praline pecans.  Honestly, I think homemade ice cream is key but if making ice cream isn’t your thing, well just go out and pick up 1 1/2 quarts of vanilla ice cream.  If you are the ambitious type and want to make everything yourself, I have links to my homemade vanilla ice cream, salted caramel sauce, and vanilla sugar glazed walnuts (just sub in pecans) that will get you the same results.


A couple of years ago I purchased a Groupon for half off at Pierpont’s Union Station.  The restaurant is located inside Union Station Kansas City and if you are ever in the area I would highly recommend it.  Inside Union Station is historical architecture reminiscent of the days of the Harvey Houses.  Actually there is a Harvey’s Restaurant located in the center of Union Station with the decor and ambiance of a bygone era.  Walking through the halls takes you back to a time of elegance.  We celebrated our anniversary by having dinner at Pierpont’s.  I ordered the Ancho Chili Coffee Rubbed Steak and I must say it was one of the finest steaks I have ever tasted. I found an online site in Kansas City where independently owned restaurants will post some of their most popular recipes online and they just happened to share my favorite steak. The original recipe called for a Grand Marnier Butter which I skipped in my recipe.  In the future I might make my own Ancho Espresso butter, however with or without the butter, this steak screams flavor.  And just in case you didn’t already know, this might possibly be the best steak I’ve ever grilled at home!


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