Sunday, January 29, 2012

Today we have: Jasmine in Las Vegas, Nevada & Max's Wine Dive in Houston, Texas

Via Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89158

Jasmine is an unbelievable Chinese restaurant in Las Vegas inside the Bellagio. Okay, I'll start by saying that this is seriously, I think, the most expensive dinner we've ever paid for, but the meal was amazing, the food was great, the restaurant was beautifully decorated, and the china gorgeous. I think the best part is that since Jasmine overlooks the famous water feature outside the Bellagio, every 15 minutes while having a spectacular meal there is a show, too. :) It was just one of those meals that we will always remember, the food was fabulous and so was the over all experience.

Max's Wine Dive 
4720 Washington Avenue
Houston, TX 77007
(713) 880-8737 ‎


A little closer to home is Max's Wine Dive. There is one in Houston, Austin, and SanAntonio, my experience was at the Houston location. We saw Max's on the Foodnetwork show Crave with Troy Johnson. He was on a quest to find the best fried chicken in the country, and one of the places he recommended happened to be in Houston, so we added it to our list of restaurants to try. Our friends Joe and Patricia went with us, so we have a bunch more pictures of Max's than we do some other places. We also were introduced to wine on tap, and Voga wine. Patricia and I are now BIG fans of Voga wine. Andy was able to fulfill his desire to try bone marrow. Personally I'm glad we got that one out of the way, but he seemed to like it, so it may show up again somewhere down the line. :) Actually it was kind of just like greasy butter, so as weird-ish food goes it was a pretty successful dish. The only thing we all tried that I think was a disappointment at Max's was the Kobe Beef Burgers, I'd skip them and try something else. The menu at Max's is seasonal, so what is on there now might not be later, and I kind of like a restaurant that changes with the times, it allows for verity and fresher ingredients. Our friends Rome and Angela went there a couple of weeks ago. Angela is a vegetarian (well Pescetarian is more accurate), and she had very positive things to say about the fried egg sandwich with truffle oil. Her husband Rome also really liked his meal, so now that 6 of us have tried it I feel very comfortable recommending Max's to anyone.

Below is everything we tried:

Pulled Pork Stuffed Peppers
Pulled pork and cotija-stuffed piquillo peppers with chipotle aioli and cilantro chimichurri

MAX ‘n Cheese
Cavatappi pasta tossed in truffle cream with provolone, Gruyère and Parmigiano Reggiano

Southern Fried Chicken
House-made jalapeño and buttermilk-marinated chicken, deep-fried slow and low, served with mashed potatoes, collard greens and brioche Texas toast

MAX’s Kobe Beef Burger
8 oz. Premier Wagyu beef patty with Belletoile triple-cream brie, house-made pickled jalapeños,
local hothouse tomatoes and hydroponic bibb lettuce with MAX’s frites

Southern Cornbread



Bone Marrow

Really fancy ham sandwich :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Over the next few days I'm going to share some restaurants that we like, and have visited in Houston and all over. I'll add more restaurants as we check them off our ever growing list of eateries we want to try.

Today we have: Chimichurri's in Kingwood, Texas & Gasthaus Eichler in Winter Park, Colorado

Chimichurri's South American Grill
1660 West Lake Houston Parkway
Kingwood, TX 77339
(281) 360-0015

Plantain Chips with Chimichurri Sauce (so yummy!)

We have been to Chimichurri's about four or five times. It's a South American Grill. The plantain chips above come complimentary with your meal. It's a great place for a special meal, but when you don't really want to go to another part of town. The pricing is not cheap, but I think it's reasonable. I feel like you could wear a nice outfit and have a date night without feeling out of place. It seems like just wearing shorts and a T-shirt would be a little too casual, so it's not TGI Friday's, which I like for a change now and again. They do take reservations, and I like reservations over taking a number sometimes, and there aren't a lot of places in this area that will take reservations. The service has always been great, and food is wonderful. My fall back are the Costillas Mendozinas (Malbec-braised short ribs), and Champagne Risotto (best risotto I've ever had).  Below are other pictures from Chimichurri's...

 Malbec-braised short ribs

A fish special Andy had

Grilled Veggies that come with the meal

Champagne Risotto (best risotto I've ever had). 

Gasthaus Eichler
78786 US Highway 40
Winter Park, CO 80482

Gasthaus Eichler is in Winter Park, Colorado. We have eaten there three times. The first was in the summer when we went for our honeymoon and then we tend to eat there every year when we go skiing. We've never ordered anything bad here, and I had the best Chocolate Creme Brulee I've ever tasted.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Here are two Recipes I love, both came from the via Claire Robison.

We made the olive bites after a wonderful woman at our church, Ms. Dotty, brought something similar to a Christmas party. I went searching for a recipe that had green olives wrapped in cheesy biscuit dough, and soon after starting my search Claire Robinson had them on her show 5 Ingredient Fix. They are really tasty. Ms. Dotty makes them around Christmas time, because of the red and green in the olives, but I like them around Super Bowl time, too.

The second recipe is for Brussels sprouts with a ton of cheese. :) They are super yummy, even my father-in-law Gary will eat them. Often people who do not like Brussels sprouts don't like the bitterness, I think one of the reasons this is a good recipe is that before baking the sprouts you boil them, which to me makes them less bitter. The recipe calls for Gruyere cheese, I made them with Gruyere the first time, but since then I have used a white cheddar instead. I like a sharper cheddar, and I think it also helps with any bitterness left after boiling however a more mild cheese is good, too, just depends on your taste. The cheese you use should just be one you love.

I didn't do a How-To when I made these recipes, but I did take pictures of each. In the future I'll try to add more pictures of any recipes I try out.

Picture of the ones I made :)

Olive Bites

Recipe courtesy Claire Robinson, 2010
Prep Time:  25 min
Inactive Prep Time:  1 hr 30 min
Cook Time:  10 min
Level:  Easy
Serves:  20 bites
·         1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
·         5 tablespoons unsalted butter
·         1/3 cup grated Cheddar
·         1/4 cup grated Parmesan
·         20 olives stuffed with pimientos


In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Mix in the Cheddar and Parmesan and knead lightly to combine. Form the mixture into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Unwrap the dough, take a small piece and cover an olive, making sure the pastry surrounds the olive and there are no gaps. Flour your hands and roll the olive-encased pastry into a ball; put it on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining pastry and olives. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. (Can be made a day ahead and held in the refrigerator.)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the baking sheets on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until the pastries are light golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the bites from the oven and arrange on a serving platter.

Recipe from via Claire Robinson

Picture of the ones I made :)

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Recipe courtesy Claire Robinson
Prep Time: 25 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:  35 min
Level:  Easy
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

·         2 pints Brussels sprouts, trimmed, about 1 1/2 pounds
·         3 tablespoons butter
·         3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
·         2 cups milk, at room temperature
·         Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
·         5 ounces Gruyere, grated (about 1 cup grated)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until bright green and beginning to soften. Remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Make the sauce by melting the butter and flour together in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until smooth and bubbling, about 1 minute; slowly whisk in milk and continue to cook, whisking frequently, until thick and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Season the sauce well with salt and heavily with pepper.

Halve the Brussels sprouts through the core and put them in an even layer in a 2 quart baking dish.

Pour the sauce over the sprouts and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.

Recipe from via Claire Robinson

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I grew up in Chappell, Nebraska. I learned to bake and sew from my mom, grandmothers, neighbors and friends mostly by being in 4-H, as any good Nebraska girl does. I decorated my duds, sewed some basic clothing items, made a couple quilts, sent snicker-doodles and muffins to state fair, and decorated cakes. When my niece Harper arrived almost 3 years ago I started making crafty items here and there. I found that many of those 4-H skills came in quite handy. Our new niece Maddie joined the family in November, and now Harper is almost 3 years old, there are so many projects I look forward to making with them and making for each of them. These days I also find myself coming up with all kinds of craft projects that I want to make for co-workers, family, and friends. I've been baby shower crazy around here over the last six months or so, helping with three showers so far, which has also been a lot of fun, too. 

Baking was something that started from 4-H, for fun, and for yummy confections, but I started cooking out of financial restraints when in college (at Midland Lutheran College - now Midland University) and just after I graduated when I moved to the Houston area, back then I mostly cooked to stay alive. Just after my husband and I got married (almost 5 years ago) I was diagnosed with a syndrome that required not eating anything white while I started new medications, that meant no white flour, no white pasta, no white rice, no white sugar, no potatoes, etc., basically a low glycemic index foods only. I also was suffering from awful migraines, that seemed to have some food related triggers, but we were not totally sure what the foods were at the time. Now it seems so easy to live with the minor changes I still have to maintain, but at the time it was kind of devastating. I went through a time of thinking I would never again be able to eat all of the wonderful foods I loved, and I thought it meant missing out of all of those food memories I held so dear. Andy and I started reading labels like crazy and not eating out, since it was hard to figure out how to order. We learned how to cook out of necessity, but found a love for food and cooking together that has been lasting.

I am totally new to this whole Blogging world. This week I've started reading some Blogs since I seriously have been out of the loop, and haven't really been into even reading Blogs. Mostly I just want to be able to share projects I'm working on with friends and family. I also love to share recipes and cakes we're making at home, and wonderful meals we've eaten out. I have a lot of these posted on my Facebook page, so over the next few weeks I'm going to start moving old projects here, and add the ones I'm currently working on, too. I'd love to have input from anyone who actually reads this as to what you'd like to see here...Thanks for spending some time with me...and really there won't be many more with this much text, pictures are so much more fun :)