Shortly after New Year’s, my friend Amy & I went to dinner at Luciano’s in Mulvane. It was our delayed Christmas get together. I’ve long heard that Luciano’s is a great Italian restaurant and worth the drive from Wichita to Mulvane. It is a small restaurant, so I would advise that you make a reservation.
The restaurant has a nice decor, but a bit cramped. I’m glad that we were placed in the back room so that I didn’t feel on display to the diners that were waiting for a table. Now, when I think of a restaurant that does reservations…I think dress nicely! But it pretty much ran the gamut of attire; jeans & nice tops (Amy & I), dress up folks, and a guy in a sweat suit next to us (which highly annoyed me).
Since dining at Luciano’s was a holiday gathering for Amy & I, we took advantage of the 5 course meal. I did the added wine pairing with each course.
Course 1: Formaggi Trio
Cheese plate featuring Parmesan, Romano Pecorino, & fresh Mozzarella with Kalamata olives. I love cheese, so this was right up my alley. I combined the cheese with the bread we had. I’m not an olive fan, so I gave those to Amy.
Course 2: Pappa al Pomodoro
Tuscan Tomato Soup. Very tasty…it was chunky, which is how I like my tomato soup. And the small portion size was perfect.
Course 3: Pasta Salmone
Flakes of salmon blended with cream & farfalle pasta. I do love salmon and it was cooked well, but I wasn’t too thrilled with it added to my pasta. I would have preferred a plain pasta. The sauce was wonderful though.
Course 4: Pollo Con Crema
Pieces of chicken breaded and sautéed served in a cream sauce and paired with asparagus. This chicken course was why I choose the 5 course menu. Chicken is not on Luciano’s regular menu. The waiter said that Luciano rarely does chicken, but when he does it is phenomenal. How could I say no to that?? It was so delicious!!!! I’m not sure why they sliced the asparagus so thin though. It was hard to stab with my fork.
Course 5: Dolce Della Casa
Chef’s choice of dessert–chocolate mousse. Delicious!
I highly recommend Luciano’s for a special occasion. Make a reservation and for goodness sake, don’t wear a sweat suit.
The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
I just read Sarah Jio’s Violets of March last month and LOVED it! So, I was super amped to read her new book, The Bungalow. With both of Jio’s books, there is a war/historial fiction/romance/mystery element. With Violets of March, it’s focused on the girl still in the States during the war. And in The Bungalow, it’s focused on the girl going to Bora-Bora to help with the war efforts.
The Bungalow follows the story of Anne Calloway. She has went to nursing school to learn a trade never thinking she’ll use it as she’s engaged to a wealthy man. Something inside is gnawing at her telling her that she needs to help with the war effort and she also needs an adventure before settling down.
Cut to Anne and her best friend, Kitty, traveling to Bora-Bora to join the Army Nurse Corps. Anne stumbles upon an abandoned bungalow where she meets a soldier, Westry. They become friends and decided to fix up the bungalow and keep it their secret. From there, the friendship turns to love and Anne is torn between passion and her commitment to her fiance back home.
The Bungalow is a very quick read. I’m becoming a fast fan of historical romance. Parts of the book are highly predictable though. Maybe it’s because I’ve read the Violets of March and knew Jio’s style. But I would have liked more surprise elements. All in all, still a good read!!
4 out of 5 stars
1. I had to get up at 4 am on Thursday for a 6:20 am flight to Charlotte. How come it’s so easy to leap out of bed at 4 am for a flight, but it’s virtually impossible for me to drag myself out of bed to workout?
2. The 6:20 am flight didn’t leave until 12:15 pm! Hello 6 hour delay in the airport. At least I had plenty of time to catch up on blog reading. And I got a free round-trip flight voucher out of it. Score!
3. After making it to Charlotte, Sarah immediately took me out to dinner. I got a Sweet Heat cocktail made with jalapeno simple syrup. Ah-maz-ing.
4. I’m finally getting with it and reading The Hunger Games trilogy! I’m half through the first book and LOVING it!
5. One benefit of visiting a friend, perusing her iTunes library for new music. How did I not already know SafetySuit had a new CD!?
One of my former bosses at work (hi Cherisse!) used to make tortilla pinwheels for every work food day.
And I would devour them every work food day. I’d also ask her every time…..how do you make these?
But I never followed through. Until I saw these on Julie’s blog! It was a blast from the past.
I IMMEDIATELY made them the next day for a family lunch. I brought them to my parents and put them in the refrigerator. My brother eye-spyed them and asked, “Are these okay to eat NOW or do we have to wait?”
I said, “Sure, go for it!” And brought them out for my brothers, nephews, and sister-in-law to munch on.
Cut to about 15 minutes later, I came back into the dining room and there were only THREE lonely pinwheels left.
I freaked out! ”You guys ate them all and our aunts and uncles aren’t even here yet!!! You have to eat these 3 pinwheels right now before they get here, so they don’t know about it! I can’t leave 3 pinwheels on the plate, that’s weird!”
They happily obliged and said that I should be happy that they loved them so much. And um….make a double batch next time.
Recipe adapted from Julie’s Eats and Treats
8 ounces light sour cream
8 ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
4 ounces can diced green chilies, drained (I added several more ounces.)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions
garlic powder, to taste
seasoned salt, to taste
5 10″ flour tortillas
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the tortillas. Mix well.
Divide your mixed filling onto your tortilla. Spread evenly. Roll up tortillas.
Roll each tortilla in plastic wrap to secure the shape. Place prepared tortillas into the refrigerator overnight.
In the morning (or several hours later), remove tortillas from plastic wrap. Cut into slices and serve.
Yields about 30-50 slices depending on the thickness of the slices. Just make a double batch; you won’t regret it!
Tuesday was my birthday!
It was a reason to eat cake.
Or cookies, if that’s your thing.
My parents offered to take me out to dinner on my birthday. My Dad asked where I wanted to go. I immediately said the Copper Oven Cafe.
I had dessert on my mind.
The Copper Oven Cafe & Bakery has been around for a number of years. My parents used to eat there quite a bit when my Mom worked near there. She said she likes to go there because the clientele is oldddddddddd. So it makes her feel young. :) So, I must have felt like a toddler there then. Which was nice, since I’m not pleased about turning 33.
The Copper Oven has a hometown, small cafe vibe. I’ve never had bad service there. Everyone is very friendly. For my entree, I went with the dinner special of Chicken Pot Pie served with a side salad and steamed veggies.
I had a Fattoush salad first, which I failed to photograph. It was really tasty. They cut their croutons up very small, which I hadn’t seen before but enjoyed.
My chicken pot pie was DELICIOUS. The crust was very flaky and a good filling. There was no crust bottom though which was a little disappointing. It was more like chicken soup with a flaky topper. I wasn’t a fan of the vegetables on the side. They were bland to me, but my Mom enjoyed them.
I thought it was a bit heavy to have a roll on the side with the crust. But, the roll ended up coming in handy to dunk in the pot pie filling.
And the real reason that I chose the Copper Oven Cafe for my birthday dinner…
I knew that I could try a little of three desserts.
My selection: Red Velvet Cupcake
Can you see the border on this cupcake liner???? It’s AWESOME!! You don’t have to dig into the cake to get the liner off. The owner said they are called skirted cupcake liners. But I’ve googled them & can’t find anywhere to buy them. Does anyone know????? The owner said he gets them from a restaurant supply store up in KC and they aren’t cheap though. I wonder if I could pay him to give me some. I’m obsessed with finding these liners!
My Dad’s selection: White Buttercream Cake
My Mom’s selection: Brownie
And yes, I made sure that none of us ordered the same thing. :) I actually like my Dad’s cake the BEST! I took a huge bite of frosting….with virtually no cake on the fork. That’s how I like it. :)
All 3 desserts were very good though! If you live in Wichita and need to take dessert somewhere and don’t want to make it….stop by and get some from the Copper Oven Cafe!
First book read in 2012!!
The Tigers’s Wife by Tea Obreht
The Tiger’s Wife was talked about a lot in 2011. It was up for multiple awards. I’m most impressed that the author isn’t even 30 years old yet. Such imagination for a young author and her first book to boot!
The Tiger’s Wife follows the story of Natalia and her grandfather. Natalia is a young doctor, who is out-of-town in the Balkan region helping with inoculations at an orphanage. Shortly after arriving, Natalia learns that her grandfather has passed away. From there, the book follows Natalia as she retrieves his body and reminisces on stories he told her.
The main stories and memories shared by the grandfather are about “the deathless man” and “the tiger’s wife”. My favorite part of the book was chapter 2, which is when you meet the deathless man. It’s a pretty awesome chapter! I was completely entranced and convinced that I would continue to love the book.
Sadly, I did not. Part of my problem was that I took to long to read the book. With odd characters, stories, and changing timelines, it’s best to read this book fairly quickly. I had a hard time keeping things straight in my head. There are tie-ins between the deathless man and the tiger’s wife too, which thankfully I caught them. But once again, you need to focus when reading this book.
If you like vivid language and imagination, you will really love this book though. It’s so very unique and very well-written. I’m certainly glad that I read it even though it’s not my particular style in the end.
If this snip-it draws you in, perhaps you should give this book a try:
” ‘We’ve got a cousin in the vineyard, Doctor.’ ” He spread his arms and gestured to the vines, from one side of the plot to the other. ‘Buried twelve years. During the war.’ He was perfectly serious. ’Doesn’t like it here, and he’s making us sick. When we find him we’ll be on our way.”
3 out of 5 stars
1. I recently signed up for a Birchbox subscription. Once a month, you get a box with 4-5 beauty samples. It’s not practical, but it’s fun.
I got my first Birchbox this month. It had: Jouer lipgloss (the color is less harsh when you’re wearing it than in the tube), Juicy Couture perfume (which I’ve already used it all), Zoya nail polish (currently wearing it & liking it a lot), and some eye cream. Ladies can always use eye cream!!!
2. Self-serve froyo places are the BEST!
I could have gotten a separate bowl just for more Twix bars too.
3. I got the Camera+ app on my iPhone this week. I learned about it from Janetha. It’s awesome!!
My favorite Haley picture so far:
4. I got these cute Valentine’s Day towels from my friend, Amy, for my birthday!
Owl Be Yours
5. I’m in gift card heaven currently. Hello Starbucks, iTunes, Target, and Best Buy. I’m currently saving up for an iPad from Best Buy. Wheeeeeew. :)
The last two weeks of my life have been consumed, CONSUMED, by playing Temple Run on my iPhone.
I blame Jessica. It started off okay. It took me awhile to get the hang of it. I was super pumped when I got 85k. But that was just child’s play!!
I finally broke 1 million last week. And I thought, okay, I’m done with this game. Then, I got 1.9 million!
I had to break 2 million. Challenge accepted!
I finally, finally did it today!!!
3,359,656!!! YES!! Now, it hurts to bend my index finger after all this game play. So, I’m retiring Temple Run.
If you’ve scored higher than me, please don’t tell me. I don’t think my heart couldn’t take it!
In order to get a 3+ million score, you’ll need to play on a full stomach.
Beef & Tomato Stew
Recipe from Everyday Food Jan/Feb 2012
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 pounds beef stew meat
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cooked brown rice
Greek yogurt & parsley for topping, if desired
In a large skillet, heat your EVOO over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery to skillet. Stir vegetables frequently and cook for about 10 minutes.
Transfer mixture to your crock-pot. Add beef, tomatoes, chicken brother, garlic, salt & pepper to your crock pot.
Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Stir occasionally.
Serve stew over a bed of rice. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and some parley. You can also add some hot sauce for a bit of a kick!
I love how the carrots just fall apart in your mouth in this stew! And the variation of rice versus potatoes works too. It’s easy, winter food!!
What’s your favorite game to play on your cell phone??
I took my nephew, Noah, to see Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked yesterday.
That movie is too cute!!
The songs are so fun and peppy too. I seriously want to buy the soundtrack. But I won’t. I mean…can a 32 year old single lady buy an album with songs sung by the Chipmunks? The answer is NO. Believe me, I’ve tried to justify it in my head all day.
So, instead I’ve just spent the day listening to previews of each song over & over on iTunes.
It’s a fun mix to listen to while in the kitchen too.
Creamy Bacon Dip
Recipe from Daisy
8 ounces softened cream cheese
2 cups sour cream
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped green onion
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Place prepared ingredients to a 1 quart baking dish. Spread evenly. Cover with foil and cook for 25-30 minutes.
Garnish top of dip with more green onions and crumbled bacon, if desired.
Serve with pita chips or whatever you desire!
Dip can served warm or cold. I preferred the dip cold the next day!
Did you watch the Golden Globes last night? They were pretty dull. I watched to see if Homeland would will Best Drama TV Series and to see if Claire Danes would win Best Actress in a TV Drama Series. It did and she did! Love that show!
And, of course, I watched to see what everyone was wearing!!
Julie’s Top 5 Best Dressed Actresses at the Golden Globes
5. Reece Witherspoon
4. Kate Beckinsale
3. Jessica Alba
2. Sarah Hyland
1. Claire Danes
When I’m not busy watching E!, I sometimes cook dinner.
Smothered Pork Chops
Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine–Dec 2011
6 boneless pork chops
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, slice 1/4″ thick
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I used shiitake mushrooms.)
1 tablespoon thyme
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup buttermilk
Sprinkle the pork chops on both sides with salt and the Cajun seasoning. Pour the flour into a shallow dish. Dredge the pork chops in the flour, coating on both sides. Tap off any excess flour. Reserve the remaining flour.
Heat the EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops to the heated skillet. Cook until browned, 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer browed pork chops to a plate.
Add the butter, onion, mushrooms, and thyme to the skillet. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved flour to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil and cook about 2 minutes. Add the buttermilk to the skillet, stir.
Return the pork chops to the skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the sauce is thickened and the pork chops are cooked, 10-12 minutes.