Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Green Thumb Attempt.

I love gardens. I really wish I had one. Even better, I really wish I could attempt one without killing it. My husband calls me the Merciless Torturer of Plants. That's how bad I am at growing things. So imagine the surprise when I announced to friends and family that I would be growing my own herb garden!! I received many different looks; looks of shock, looks of concern (probably for the plants...) , mostly looks of confusion. My husband came home as I was putting the finishing touches on the garden and just shook his head.......
I thought this weekend would be perfect for planting, yesterday being the first day of spring and all....but of course it rained. Of course it did.
In all, I have 5 different types of herbs. 5! Cilantro is hanging in the basket, Thyme and Oregano are jammin' together in the large pot, and Basil and Rosemary get their own digs.
I'm getting giddy just thinking about the fact that I never have to pay for organic herbs again!! If I can keep these babies alive, that is. Herb gardens really are a great investment. Think about how much you spend on fresh herbs at the store. Now, including soil, I spent a total of $28 to never have to buy herbs again. How exciting!! If this pans out, hopefully I can add some other edibles to my love garden. We shall see, we shall see. I will be visiting Organic Herb Gardening a lot to make sure I do everything right. Ha, now I'm turning from a lazy plant caretaker to an overprotective over-waterer and over-fertilizer. Good thing I spent extra on that fancy Moisture-control soil....
Does anyone else have an herb garden? Please send me pics! I'd love to see it and share it on the site! I would also appreciate any advice and/or encouragement in the comments section.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


So apparently Costco has a cookbook out. Who knew? And Rachel Ray, watch out. It's a good one. Everything is divided and well organized in the book. It makes it very easy to find the type of recipe you're looking for. Their recipes are also easy to change up a bit as well. The family I nanny for made the Tilapia Parmesan. They loved it. However, if you're a veggie (like me!), eggplant would be an AMAZING substitute.
On with the food porn......

Tilapia (or whatever) Parmesan


2 large tilapia fillets
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt

Preheat your oven's broiler setting.
Mix all ingredients except tilapia in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Place fillets in a broiler pan and broil 2 minutes on each side.
Spread sauce mixture over fillets and broil 1.5-2 minutes more.

Serves 2.


This would also make an excellent Eggplant Parmesan for my veggie friends:
Clean and slice eggplant in half.
Char slightly on the grill or in a pan over medium heat.
Coat with Parmesan mixture.
Broil until golden brown.

Is It Technically Stealing?

Who doesn't love the Old Spaghetti Factory? Unless you don't have one near you. In which case, you live an unfortunate life and you need to move. The Old Spaghetti Factory is one Italian chain that keeps somewhat true to real Italian cuisine. My personal favorite on the menu is their Browned Butter and Myzithra Cheese Pasta. YUM! I've always wanted to recreate this amazing dish, but I wasn't sure where to get the recipe. I mean, you don't just walk into a restaurant and say "Hey, love the food. Can I get that recipe so I can make it myself?" Not gonna work. One day, I was determined to make the yummy pasta myself, so I scoured the Internet until I found the recipe on AllRecipes. Thank you for satisfying my Italian urges.

Things I love about this recipe:
1. Myzithra cheese is so cheap!!
2. It's Myzithra cheese. YUM.
3. Buttery, cheesy goodness.

Moving on.......

The Old Spaghetti Factory
Browned Butter & Myzithra Cheese Pasta

1 pound pasta of your choice (works best with angel hair or spaghetti)
1 cup butter
3/4 cup shredded/grated myzithra cheese

Boil pasta in large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
(angel hair cooks quick so I started the sauce while it was boiling.)
Slowly melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Cook, stirring often, until butter becomes a caramel-brown color.
Toss butter and grated/shredded cheese with pasta.

That's. it.
So simple, but SOOOO good!!!!

Serves 4.

Breakfast Time!

Sometimes I wish I didn't have a job so I could sleep in and laze my way through the morning with a big breakfast and a pot of coffee.....
I take my non-cold cereal breakfasts whenever I can get them. I have, in my short time on this earth, become quite the master at Scrambled Eggs. I love to experiment with them, since there are so many options!
The last few weekends I have been running said experiments with the hope of churning out something amazing. Well, I'm not sure if the following recipe counts as AMAZING, but I think it's pretty darn good. Let me know what you think!

Extraordinary Herbed Eggs


6 eggs
1/4 c. milk
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons dried rosemary (or 1-2 T fresh if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste


Beat eggs and milk together until smooth.

Add herbs, salt and pepper and mix well.

Pour into a greased pan over medium heat.

Cook, stirring often, until eggs solidify.

Be careful not to cook them too long. Just until they aren't runny.

That's it! Just plate and serve with your favorite toast. (mine happens to be rye. mmmm.)
makes 2 servings.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Me Gusta Enchiladas

There is nothing like a good Mexican meal.
My favorites happen to be enchiladas and fajitas. Fajitas are pretty self-explanatory, and don't really require a recipe. Enchiladas, on the other hand, are open to interpretation. You can basically do whatever you want with enchiladas. They are the chameleons of Mexican cuisine.

I happen to have a pretty good recipe for enchiladas that I came up with during a "little of this, little of that" on if it tickles your tamales:

Jen's Excellent Enchiladas


3/4 c. Ricotta Cheese
1/4 c. sour cream
1 3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 4 oz. can sliced black olives
3/4 c. chopped fresh spinach
3 Tbs. chopped green chiles
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
flour tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ricotta, 1 cup of cheddar, sour cream, 1/2 can of olives, spinach, chiles, garlic powder, onion and cumin in a medium bowl. Stir until well mixed.
Spoon mixture down the middle of a tortilla, like so:

Then roll the tortilla up.

Place it in a greased 9 X 13 pan.

Repeat until pan is full.

Pour can of enchilada sauce over the top.
Yeah, go ahead, go nuts. The whole can.
Then, put the rest of the cheddar cheese on top.
And the rest of the olives.
Go ahead, go a little loco.

Then just pop it in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

It's a bona fide fiesta, right from your oven!

Mambo Italiano

ahhhhh Italian food. How do I love thee?
Made from scratch, that's how!

I can't stand chain Italian restaurants. They never give me the genuine old-world flavor I'm looking for. This is why my favorite restaurant is a family-owned joint here in Cameron Park called Papa Gianni's Ristorante.

The hubby and I decided to invite our friends Jess and Andy out for a tasty dinner at the Papa's. It's the perfect atmosphere for a double date; candlelit with cozy private booths. The boys especially enjoy it because they serve liters of beer. No joke.

We settled down in our booth, looking forward to a couple of hours of good food and conversation. Our waitress seemed to be new to this concept. She apparently thought she was employed at McDonald's, and wanted to take our order before Jess and Andy even arrived! We managed to calm her down by the time we ordered appetizers, and were soon lost in animated conversation.

For an appetizer, we ordered the Bruschetta, since everything else offered was a bit heavy. Sometime I would love to go in and order 3 or 4 appetizers to share. Mussels, Calamari, hello!

The Brushetta was good, but it needed just a bit more pizazz. I felt as if it was an Italian version of salsa. I like a lot of garlic, so this could just be my problem, but all I could really taste were the tomatoes.
We nibbled on the appetizer for a while, then on to our salad courses. Papa Gianni's has the best salad dressing I have ever had. It's called simply "Creamy Italian" but it should be called "Creamy Dressing from the Gods". It's amazing. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to pry the recipe from many a waitress.....
It's a good thing I explained to Jess and Andy that I would be writing a review about our visit to the Papa, because I'm sure they didn't appreciate me snapping pictures of their meals as soon as they arrived. I want my readers to have the full experience! I'm telling you, if computers had Smell-O-Vision, I would have bottled you up some garlic bread, that's for sure!

From Left to Right:
Fruta de Mar, Fettuccine Gorgonzola, Scampi Alfredo.

The hubby and I shared the Fettuccine Gorgonzola. I always always get the Fettuccine Alfredo, but this time I thought I'd branch out a bit. So I got basically Fettuccine Alfredo with Gorgonzola sprinkled on top. I'm telling you, I'm gettin' crazy!
I literally can't explain to you how good this food is. I know it doesn't look as pretty as a 5 star restaurant's presentation, but this is Italy!! Trust me, once you have Italian food like this, you'll never go back to Olive Garden. Ever.

Moving on to dessert.....

Well, this used to be Tiramisu. And what a Tiramisu it was. Andy and I split the gi-normous concoction of lady fingers dipped in espresso, marscapone cheese and whipped cream, and we finished it off in about five seconds. It was that good. Nothing more to say.

All in all, this is the best restaurant for good, old fashioned Italian food in the Sacramento area. If you live in Sacramento, it is plenty worth the 20-30 minute drive to Cameron Park. You won't be disappointed!! Ciao Bellas!

Papa Gianni's Ristorante
3450 Palmer Dr # 1
Cameron Park, CA 95682
(530) 672-2333