Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's Cookie time again!

I went to Target a couple of weekends ago and happen to cruise down the snack aisle and saw that all of the Archer Farms Trail Mixes were on sale. Lovely, trail mix on sale I thought. . . but then my brain computed that information as, "oooh trail mix on sale, let's make cookies"! So, I bought a bag of Cranberry Nut Trail Mix and off I went home to make some yummy cookies with it!
I used the same recipe I used when I made my Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies and just added the trail mix after I had chopped it a bit into the batter along with some extra white chocolate chips I had lying around in my pantry.
Mmm! cookiesMmm!

These cookies, were chocked full of cranberries, white chocolate chips, almonds, & pecans! Whoa-baby, they were hearty and delicious! As you can see from the picture above, I made an ice cream sandwich with them, so yummy! It wasn't too bad, the ice cream was low fat frozen yogurt! LOL! :) Needless to say, everyone who tried them absolutely loved them! It just goes to show how you can be creative and inspired at the snack aisle in Target of all places!

Enjoy, I know I sure did!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Auberge Du Soleil - Napa Valley

On a recommendation from our friend Michelle, we dined at Auberge Du Soleil, Restaurant one night while we were in Napa Valley. I only have 1 picture of the sign as we were driving out though. The ambiance was so nice, dim, and tranquil, I dared not pull out my camera. Not to mention, I was going to have to flash the heck out of everything and the mood was so right, that I didn't want to ruin it for us or any of the other diners. The dinner and service was truly an amazing experience! We had a 5 course menu, that I honestly cannot recall, but it was delicious! Everything we had was mouthwatering! The wine was superb! The dessert consisted of molten chocolate fondant balls covered in pastry! Oh-dear, were they good! So warm and they would melt in your mouth like butta! This was a meal and experience that definitely worth every penny!

Interesting facts about Auberge Du Soleil, the Inn, it's a luxury inn on a private road, Christina Aguilera stayed there for her honeymoon & had her rehearsal dinner at the resort. Many celebrities are known to dine at the restaurant although we didn't bump into any when we visited.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Celadon Restaurant, Napa Valley

It was an odd hour and we literally had Celadon all to ourselves! The waitress was very happy to see us! She said the winter is always hard on the restaurant business in Napa and hoped that our being there for a late lunch would start the trend for the spring tourist season. We sat on their covered outdoor terrace, close to the fire place, but not too close since my hubby would melt (unfortunate for him, I'm ALWAYS cold and there was a slight chill in the air!). Since it was almost dinner time, we ordered 3 small plates (appetizers) from the dinner menu. We were starving and they hit the stop perfectly with some nice Merlot!

We ordered:

  • Macadamia nut crusted goat cheese with port poached figs, apples and crostini

  • Endive and pear salad with blue cheese, candied walnuts and honey mustard vinaigrette

  • Beef satay with cucumber, green papaya and pickled ginger salad, spicy peanut sauce (I forgot to take a pic of this one)

    Everything was fresh and came to our table super quick! I think being the only customer at a restaurant sometimes has it's privileges :) I also think we did start a trend, as we were leaving more tourist were waltzing in for early dinners. I will definitely go back to Celadon, the port poached figs were my favorite and I'm dying to have them again! Not to mention, that there was a ton of other things on the menu I want to try!

    Friday, April 11, 2008

    Dean & Deluca, Napa Valley

    If you like cooking or you just like gourmet food, stopping at Dean & Deluca while in Napa Valley is a MUST! I'm so glad our friend Michelle reminded us about stopping there for lunch! Honestly speaking, I went freak'n nuts in there! I've seen their catalogs, I've been to their small coffee shop in NYC, but there's nothing like going to their BIG store! Wow! We were hungry and all I wanted to do was shop! My husband kept telling me that I'd have time afterwards, but it was helpless, I was tossing things into my basket like there was no tomorrow.

    $59 dollars later (not too bad I think) I was happy. I bought a bunch of things and our lunch, so yup, the fact that I spent 59 buckaroos was no biggie!

    Their sandwiches are big and made to order, as are their salads! We got the fresh mozzarella, tomato and pesto on focaccia and added some prosciutto to make it all the better! It was FAB-BU-LOUS! I wish I could have that for lunch today! In fact, I wish I was in Napa today, to go get it personally! Instead of getting a salad made to order, we got one that was made earlier that day that had goat cheese on it and pecans! Simply delicious! We got some other yummy snacks, beverages, cookies, and baking necessities and were out the door! See how HAPPY I am in the picture below!
    The thing with Dean & Deluca, though, is that there's no place to really have your food, there's a little wall that you can sit on, outside next to the store, but you'd be in the blazing sun. So we ate at the winery across the street, although you're really not suppose to. The winery has it's own store/deli (that looked good as well) and of course they don't want you to bring food from elsewhere. We ere stopped as we were walking in and told that we couldn't eat our food there (we had 2 big white bags with "Dean & Deluca written on them). My husband told them we were going in to get some wine, so the guy let us through. . . they are really on top of that, so beware!

    We went inside to get a glass of wine to go with our yummy food, but the store @ the winery was a mad house. I ended up buying about $17 bucks worth of merchandise (no wine though), and off we went to their picnic area to eat our "illegally brought in food" :) I'm a sissy for things like that, so I was a bit paranoid, but we were not bothered again. So, we had our lovely salad, sandwich, and the wine country soda on one of their picnic tables under the shade of a huge tree. There was a light breeze that afternoon, which made our lunch experience all the better.
    Anyone want to go to Dean & Deluca in Napa Valley with me to go get that sandwich????

    Tuesday, April 8, 2008

    Bistro Jeanty - Napa Valley

    Napa Valley is filled to the brim with fine dining establishments and Bistro Jeanty is definitely one of them. You walk in and you're suddenly transported across the Atlantic to a quaint French Cafe. Ooh - la-la! We didn't have reservations and had to wait about 15 minutes, not bad at all! I do recommend getting reservations though, we just happen to be there at a time of year when things are just starting to pick up, basically we were very lucky that we only had to wait that little. We were offered the opportunity to sit a their community table, a long table for 12, that you can sit at first come - first serve with other patrons. Not a bad idea, but we were going for that whole romantic Napa type feel and just weren't feeling the community table.

    The food is to DIE FOR! Oh my lord! Our favorite thing on the menu was the "Creme de tomate en croute". That's tomato soup in puff pastry for those of you that haven't brushed up on your French lately :) I told the waiter, "this is the best tomato soup I've ever had" and he responded "it's the best tomato soup ever made!" He was so right! I'm salivating as I write this, that's how delicious, smooth, and decadent it was! I can seriously go on forever . . .here's a picture I took of it! Make sure to wipe the drool off you keyboards folks!

    We also order and onion tart . . .c'est magnific! To top it off, it had goat cheese on it! I was in French food heaven! The onions were caramelized to perfection, the pastry was perfect, and the little side frise salad with the light vinaigrette was a wonderful compliment. Lord, maybe I shouldn't be writing this post before dinner, I'm so hungry and writing about all of this delicious food is simply torture!
    For the main course we shared the Coq Au Vin, a creamy blend of chicken, mushrooms, bacon, and red wine stew. It was yummy, but it wasn't our favorite, but then again I think we just wanted more tomato soup! We ordered a side of Frites (aka French fries) as well!

    I can't remember for the life of me what we had for dessert! I know, I must be getting sick! I can forget a lot of things, but a dessert???? Such a travesty!!!

    Don't forget about Bistro Jeanty when you're in Napa and order the tomato soup, maybe order two servings of it just for yourself! Mmm!

    Many, Many THANKS to our friend Gena for recommending this fine restaurant! We will definitely be heading back there on our next trip to Napa!

    Sunday, April 6, 2008

    You "MESA" with me?

    Of course not, you can't mess with Bobby Flay or his restaurant Mesa Grill in Las Vegas! I'm a Food-Network-holic. . .I have a serious problem, I know! But the only way to cure the problem is to go to the Food Network chef's restaurants and inject their creation into your bloodstream! As you know, we were in Vegas last month and I was dying to go to Mesa Grill. It must be all those Bobby Flay Throwdown matches I've been watching lately. I must say that the food and service at Mesa Grill was magnificent! Everything was delicious, I was on a Bobby Flay food high as was my husband and the whole gang we were with. Fabulous food, fabulous times!

    My husband and I shared the Goat Cheese Queso Fundido, Smoked Chicken & Black Bean Quesadilla, the Sixteen Spice Crusted Chicken and for dessert Profiteroles. Oh and I can't forget the 2 Margaritas that I washed dinner down with, whoo-hoo were they GOOD!

    Here are some pictures of the quesadillas, of the gang, and of us acting silly :)

    Bobby Flay's food rocked our world!

    Viva la France, Viva le Buffet!

    You can't go to Vegas and not experience at least one buffet. Buffets are a dime a dozen in Las Vegas, they're taking over the city! Ha! Seriously though, there are many and they appeal to every size wallet. On of my favorites, Le Village Buffet at the Paris Hotel, is $17 buckaroos for lunch, it doesn't exactly break the bank and that's a good thing :) Considering I've been back for three weeks already, this post is a little late, but when have you known me to blog on time? Hee,hee!

    For my main lunch course, I loaded my plate with (clock wise starting from the top). . .Pesto Penne, Garlic Broccolini, scalloped potatoes, cauliflower mash, turkey with gravy, Apple wood sausage (My Favorite!), creamed spinach, pork something, and 1 ravioli (since I'm on a diet), J/K! See the lovely non-retouched pictures below.

    As you can see above, my dessert plate was about the same size as my main course, no little dessert plates for me! I'm a baker with a sweet tooth, can't help it! Again (clock wise starting from the top), you'll see I had a lemon filled macaroon, a cheese blintz (Which I didn't like and didn't eat all which is so rare for me!),a generous portion of bread pudding with fresh whipped cream, a mini creme brulee, a delicious cannoli, and last but not least . . .a chocolate chip cookie.

    Everything other than the cheese blintz was fabulous! If you're ever in Vegas and don't know what buffet to choose, give Le Village Buffet a try, you won't be sorry.

    What happens in Vegas, STAYS in Vegas. That includes calories :)