Today I am answering your emails! I am thrilled (happy dance) that you want to hear what I have to say about… well whatever inquiring minds want to know. Its kinda like those email questionnaires I get and for the record YES I do answer those and YES I do forward them on. Not that I need 20 questions to answer, how about 4?
Ms. Kendel writes:
1. Where to go for a low cost date night with hubby at the last minute.
(ok sorry this part applies to the Orange County crew)
It’s all about the early bird saves the cash – I have 2 (well 3) places for you but you have to get there before 6pm to take advantage of the Happy Hour prices.
- Wasa Sushi – off the top of my head I remember ordering.. California Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll, Salmon sushi all for under ..$5 each. There was a 2 for 1 beer offer as well so I think I had my usual sake/Sapporo combo for the price of one beer! Dinner for the 2 of us WITH drinks under $40 <– STEAL!
- Zov’s Happy Hour – 4- 7 pm. Order Mini Chicken kabobs, Shoe String Potatoes and Roasted Chicken Sloppy Joe’s ($5 each!) Draft beer is only $5 bucks and the fancy martini’s are ½ off. The entire happy hour menu is here. Special on Monday- ZERO corkage fee.
- I have to also mention Taiko for sushi because of the generous portions and low price. Average cost per person is $15 anytime. So if you can’t get out early try here!
2. Staples to have around the house for impromptu guests… ie. throw in the oven appetizers.
- My first choice would include a loaf of French bread or baguette. Assuming you have that you could make bruschetta. It’s fast, easy and tends to fill people up. Most stores carry a room temp bruschetta that you can keep stocked in the pantry. My favorite is Trader Joe’s.
Here’s a new little item I just found spreadable Olive Oil that you can keep in your pantry
(refrigerate after opening).
Slice the baguette, spread a little Olive Oil spread and toast for 5 min at 350° top with TJ’s bruchetta!
I like putting together a quick Mediterranean plate as well easy – again everything at Trader Joe’s.
My frozen picks? TJ’s Green Chile Cheese Puffs – also check out their mini soufflés.
these ARANCINI BITES are crunchy on the outside and filled with fontina cheese inside!
3. Best Crowd Pleaser Recipe for entertaining
- Hands down my most LOVED recipe is Cherry Cola Ribs. People expect when they come over for a swim in the summer there will be all-you-can-eat Cherry Cola ribs involved! I have been serving them since 2002! In the cooler months I usually make a casserole. My top 2 would be Baked Macaroni & Cheese from America’s Test Kitchen (Cover and Bake Cookbook) see below for full recipe and Sausage, Cheese & Basil Lasagna. This lasagna recipe calls for No Boil Noodles so its very easy and even better the next day! (would anyone like to see me make this?)
4. Great Hostess Gift Ideas.
I love to bring people potted herb plants
Trader Joe’s here in So. Ca. always has them, I grabbed the last one yesterday – look at the sign! they echo my same sentiments! You can also make your own by grabbing 3 – 2″ potted herbs and replanting them into a 6″ pot, add a little peat moss on top and viola you’re done! Popular herbs to choose from include basil, rosemary, Italian (flat) parsley, sage, or thyme.
Here’s a gift under $20 from Amazon the BonJour Salad Chef Salad Dressing Mixer. You can make fresh salad dressing with a few ingredients and the recipes and measurements are printed ON THE bottle. A battery operated motor emulsifies the ingredients to create the creamiest balsamic vinaigrette. You probably should just order two or better yet invite me over and I’ll bring you one.
For the non-cooks in your life how about your favorite bottle of wine along with hysterical cocktail napkins by Naughty Betty
you can order them at the Z Gallery.
brilliant aren’t they?
Local modchik readers (my OC gals) you can find more Naughty Betty items over at the fabulous Sugar Press like this:
Thank you for your questions Kendel !!!
I love hearing from you! Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to give you my mod-take on everything
*****RECIPE FOR BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE*****
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Cover and Bake Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 6-8 (12 side servings)
4 slices white sandwich bread torn into quarters
2 T unsalted butter melted
mac & cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 med garlic clove minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
6 T all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 1/2 cups whole milk
16 ounces colby cheese shredded about 5 1/3 cups
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded about 2 2/3 cups
Ground black pepper
1. For the topping: Process the bread and butter in a food processor fitted with a steel blade until coarsely ground, about 6 1 second pulses. Set aside.
2. For the Mac & Cheese: Adjust oven rack to middle and heat oven to 400. Boil 4 quarts water in a dutch oven over high heat,. Stir in 1 T salt and macaroni. Cook til al dente about 5 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander, set aside.
3. Wipe pot dry. Add butter and return to medium heat until melted. Add the garlic, mustard and cayenne pepper: cook until fragrant about 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until golden brown about 1 minute. SLowly whisk in chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer and cook. whisking often, until large bubbles form on the surface and the mixture is slightly thickened about 5-8 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the cheeses gradually until completely melted. Season w/ salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir. Pour into a 9 X 13 baking dish or shallow casserole of similar size. Sprinkle with bread topping and bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges. 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Planning ahead: Assemble casserole as directed in step 4 but do not sprinkle with bread topping or bake. Wrap dish tightly.- Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for 2 months.
Allow casserole to sit at room temp for 1 hour before baking. Wrap dish with foil and bake until casserole is moderately hot 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook until bread crumbs are brown 25 minutes longer. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.