Monday, May 2, 2011

Road trip, raw meat, give me something good to eat!

May 2nd, 2011
Good Afternoon!  Hope you had a wonderful weekend.  I know I did.  J  Sam treated me to a nice lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in Tulsa yesterday after church.  Sadly the hour and a half drive to get there wasn’t made worth it by amazing food, because the food was not amazing.  However, we got to see Sam’s cousin Desiree and her husband Brian, and do a bit of shopping at one of my all-time favorite stores ROSS.  Now that I think of it, ROSS wasn’t that great yesterday either.  I still had a lot of fun though.  First we dropped the kiddos at Sam’s mom’s house.   The boys immediately went crazy over her two dogs.  Bear, Rebecca’s enormous yellow lab, received the brunt of their excitement.  Mattie, their little dog ‘wouldn’t take no guff’, so they focused their energy on Bear, who I don’t think could have got away from them if he had tried.  You know in Back to the Future when Michael J. Fox grabs onto the side of that truck while riding his skate board?…yeah that was my boys yesterday with Bear, only the truck was bear and the skateboard was their socks.  Rebecca said that normally Bear naps all day in preparation to sleep all night, he didn’t get any naps in yesterday!  Eh, it was probably good for him, and good for Grandma to have the little boys around.
Back in October of 2003 while working at City University of Seattle as a Senior Credentials Evaluator I decided to get a second job at the Cheesecake Factory in Bellevue, WA.  I did this with the intent of making new friends.  I really didn’t need the money, but had such fond memories from working at another restaurant right out of high school, that I thought it would be a great way to make a little extra dough and meet new people.   And that I did.  I met Sam on October 23, 2003 while working an evening shift.  He was so handsome, but a little bit of a diamond in the rough as he had long hair…I don’t care for long hair on guys…Unless you are my brother Shane who is 6’4 and the Native American version of Fabio, then you probably can’t pull it off.  I also met Nathan Young at the Cheesecake Factory.  When Sam and I got married, December 31, 2005, Nathan proposed to his sweet wife Anne at our wedding.  It was awesome.  And Wesley Mitchell, another Cheesecake friend, was one of Sam’s groomsmen.  He is married to one of my favorite writers and bloggist’s Erica…She is hilarious and so stinkin witty!  So it is with these awesome memories of friends and delicious food that I entered the Cheesecake Factory in Tulsa yesterday.

We arrived a few minutes before Sam’s cousins so we stood drooling over the Cheesecake display case.  The two I was drawn to were the Red Velvet Cheesecake and the Lemonciello  Torte.   Red Velvet is a fairly new cake to me in general.  I had my first Red Velvet Cupcake about 3 months ago and fell in love with the cream cheese frosting paired with the moist mild chocolaty cake.   The Lemonciello was also pulling my attention because lemon is one of my all time favorite flavors.  We didn’t have to wait long for our table, but I am sure the front desk staff had to break out the Windex and paper towels to wipe the hand and face prints and drool off the display case glass.  They probably have to do that several times a day.  I love the Cheesecake Factory and its menu is literally a book with over 300 menu items.  This can be overwhelming for the first time guest, but Sam and I were seasoned pro’s and didn’t need much time to make our decision.  Since it was not quite 2pm they were still serving brunch so Sam and his cousin Desiree both ordered Eggs Benedict, Brian ordered Steak Diane, and I ordered the Luau Salad, and I didn’t ask them to hold the Chicken, intentionally.  For the last six months I have eaten only a Vegetarian diet.  A few days ago though I told Sam I was going to ditch this and start incorporating meat from time to time in my diet.  Yesterday was my first time eating meat since October.  Well, to be perfectly honest I had one bite of Turkey at Thanksgiving, because it would be just plain wrong not to!  So it was with great trepidation and anxious waiting that I sat visiting with Brian and Desiree.  Their food all got served first.  Which didn’t bother me that my salad took a few minutes longer to bring out, after all, it’s not like my salad was going to get cold.  It was beautiful when it arrived.  The Luau Salad is Grilled Chicken Breast Layered with Mixed Greens, Cucumbers, Green Onions, Red and Yellow Peppers, Green Beans, Carrots, Mango and Crisp Wontons with Macadamia Nuts. With all the colors of the different vegetables with the sharp triangular wedges of the Crisp Wonton, it looked amazing.  I dug in.  I was about two bites in when I looked down on my plate and there was a piece of raw meat.  Ewww.  The waitress was at our table the moment I found this unfortunate mistake and quickly took my salad away and to have a new one made.  A few minutes later the manager came over and apologized and asked if I wanted another Salad, and I did.  I understand, mistakes happen.  So they brought me another Salad, just as beautiful as the first, minus the hazard.  I only had a few bites of the chicken, it made my stomach feel weird.  Not because it wasn’t cooked right or anything, I think my stomach is just out of practice digesting meat.  Then when the manager came over to check on us the server was filling my water glass and something poured in my glass.  It looked kind of like a lemon seed, but wasn’t.  They were super apologetic and quickly got me a new glass of water.  I wasn’t upset or anything and acted as sweet as a piece of cheesecake.   I would rather them comp something then spit in my food…which I am sure they did not do.  But comp they did!  The only thing we paid for was Sam’s Eggs Benedict and his drink.  They covered all our Desserts so I got to enjoy a little of both the Red Velvet and the Lemoncello and they us home with a slice of Caramel Turtle for Rebecca, and Key Lime for Steve.  I was not super thrilled with either the Red Velvet or the Lemoncello.  They were very bland tasting, and I am easy to please when it comes to dessert!  While I am writing this I am sitting here with a piece of the Biscotti I made yesterday…YUM!  Auh-mazing flavor and a fraction of the calories.  The Lemoncello I looked up later is a ghastly 1034 calories per slice and 193g of carbs! 
Biscotti is a twice baked cookie and its density makes it a perfect treat to enjoy with a nice ‘Cup of Joe’, or ‘Spro’ {Espresso}.  Yesterday morning before church I made two batches of Biscotti.  Like I mentioned in my post yesterday, my 3 year old Kael is early to rise on a regular basis, and by early to rise I mean 3:30am.  So don’t think that with a few extra minutes before church you are going to whip up some biscotti, it does take a little bit of time, but it is easy and delicious.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti
·         10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
·         2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
·         2 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
·         ½ teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
·         3 large eggs
·         1 ¼ cups sugar
·         2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
·         ½ cup peanut butter (I use peanut butter called Naturally More with Flaxseed)
·         1 cup dry roasted peanuts (check your ingredients as lots of brands have MSG in them)
·         1 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chunks.  I use Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate, because it is what I had on hand.  I like this chocolate because it is all natural, has amazing flavor, and is a good melting chocolate.

Preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.
Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. You want it to lightly brown and get a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl, set aside.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar while beating. Then slowly add your butter and vanilla until evenly mixed, about 30 seconds. Add the peanut butter and mix until combined.
With your mixer on slow, add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Your dough will be very dense and sticky. Fold in the peanuts and chocolate pieces.
Divide the dough and form two loaves (10x4 inches approx).  Bake until set and brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool logs on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 325.  Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Cut logs crosswise, with a sharp knife into 1/2-inch thick cookies. Place cookies cut side down on the baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip the cookies over and bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes more. Cool biscotti on the baking sheets.  Store them in an air tight container once cooled.

Lemon-licious Biscotti
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-1 ½ Cups of coarse chopped nuts and dried fruit (I used an all-natural mixture from Aldi’s that had hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, dried cranberries, raisins, and dried cherries).
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F
Wisk together flour, salt, and baking powder, set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the lemon extract and zest (I also added a squeeze of lemon, careful of the seeds!), then beat in the eggs.  With your mixer on slow, add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Your dough will be very dense and sticky. Fold in the nut and dried fruit mixture.
Divide dough and form two loaves (10x4 inches approx.) Bake on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Dough will be a little less sticky then the Peanut Butter Biscotti, but if you need to, wet hands with cool water to handle dough more easily.
Bake until set and brown around the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool logs on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 275.  Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Cut logs crosswise, with a sharp knife into 1/2-inch thick cookies. Place cookies cut side down on the baking sheets. Bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Flip the cookies over and bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes more. Cool biscotti on the baking sheets.  Store them in an air tight container once cooled.
For the Lemonlicious Biscotti listed above I dipped the bottoms in white chocolate and the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Biscotti I dipped in Milk Chocolate.  They taste good with or without, but I love it with!  To melt the chocolate you will want to put about an inch of water in a pot on the stove to boil. Then you put your chocolate chips in a heat resistant bowl and place that bowl over your pot.  You don’t want the bowl to touch the water, and your chocolate should melt nicely.  This will be your last step.  There are oodles of Biscotti recipes online.  A delightful little blogger that I am following out of Springfield, Emily at has a S’mores Biscotti that I would love to make sometime.   If you have fun making these easy and delicious cookies, get adventurous and try a few variations.
Don’t forget Mother’s Day is next Sunday…and boy do I ever appreciate mine now that I am one!


  1. Awwww, thanks for the compliment! We think of you guys every time we eat at the Cheese too, though I'm sorry it was such a rough experience for you guys. Raw chicken on a salad? BLECH.

  2. You make me smile... but now I must go and eat something. Bye.

  3. weird how I find it exciting reading about food and can hear your voice in my mind as I read it... makes it all come alive like a childrens book being read to me! Love it and you too!

  4. The mail delivered the "Box" of goodies Thursday
    afternoon. We opened it with eager anticipation.
    We were not disappointed. So many special treats and nothing broken !
    Oh My . . . The Biscotti is the BEST EVER.
    It's going to take self control to make this
    last. ~Love Mom & Dad~

  5. Whoa! I feel like I just won some kind of prize! I REMEMBER your biscotti from high school and I need to make these, like, NOW.