Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ode to Home ~ General Tso's Chicken

General Tso, ancient Chinese General from the Qing Dynasty...your chicken is delicious, I wish you were alive to try it when they came up with the recipe only 40 years ago. Mmmmmm...

My House (no map...nope)
My Street
My City, Alabama

So the urge struck me again. I felt like cooking and actually take on a challenging dish and you can't get more local than in your own kitchen! Well, come to find out, it really was not that challenging but there were a few steps. I had the taste for Chinese, General Tso's Chicken, to be I made it at home!

General Tso's Chicken is a sweet yet spicy chicken dish which consists of fried boneless chicken in that sweet and spicy sauce. It is a Chinese Buffet favorite and it goes WELL with rice and broccoli, which I also made! I got the recipe from another blog called "Appetite for China" (Click HERE for recipe) and with a few slight modifications, I created a very similar dish to what you would get in your local chinese takeout. My changes were chicken breasts for the chicken thighs, vegetable oil instead of the flavored oils, no seseme seeds or scallions, red pepper flakes instead of whole peppers, candied ginger instead of ginger (it's what I had on hand) and apple cider vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar. I took pictures of my ingredients so that you can see that you may actually have these ingredients in your pantry already! The finished product was DEFINITELY worth the steps and you may just surprise yourself as this is kinda "date night" food. Well, if you use half the amount of garlic...perhaps! :-)

GO FOR IT! Cook something! If you can read, you can cook!

Vic Cassano...I love you!

Cassano's Pizza were the first pizza my Mom ate and the last I ever want to eat!

Cassano's Pizza (Click for Locations)
Dayton, Ohio Metro Area

I think I need to first say that yes, I am indeed a Yankee. Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. A Buckeye girl in a Bama world. Secondly, I need to issue a warning here to simply save you from what you may encounter if you mention pizza to someone from Dayton, Ohio. Now, there are a couple of local pizzarias in the area, but when you mention Cassano's Pizza...a change occours. Some may provide hand gestures as if they are grabbing those tiny squares of goodness out of thin air. Some may take a deep breath and go on and on about their favorite pizza pie. Then there are those of us who have moved out of the Dayton area. A far away look of longing comes across our face...memories of the "Big Cheese" begin to form a slight smile on our lips and then you hear the 'sigh' because we know that a Cassano's Pizza is nowhere close to us and all we have are the memories. Just the memories...until we venture home, that is...


Apart from the drama (ha!) Cassano's Pizza is GREAT pizza! Classic thin crust, salty sausage and fresh toppings all topped with gooey cheese and cut into squares! Delish! There are other offerings on the menu, but I must my 36 years, I have never ventured off of the pizza menu! I have heard stories about the awesome sandwiches and the delicious pasta and appetizers, but I cannot speak on that personally. Perhaps one of my hometown friends can chime in and comment on the goodness of the non-pizza items! :-)

I am fortunate enough to go home several times a year and the one place that remains on my culinary list of "things to do while in Dayton" is to pick up a Deluxe Pizza with extra cheese for me and my family to nosh on! Now THAT makes me smile!

I will say this and leave you be...if you ever find yourself in the Dayton, Ohio would GREATLY benefit your tastebuds to try this hometown classic which is Cassano's Pizza.

(pssssst...word on the street is that we can order frozen pizzas online...but i'm not one to gossip, so you didn't hear it from me!)

Lyn's Gracious Goodness

Oh Lyn...we are graciously happy for your goodness!!!

Lyn's Gracious Goodness (Click for Map!)
2306 Whitesburg Drive South
Huntsville, AL 35801-3818

You know it deep down inside when you've found a good place to eat. A friend and I arrived a bit after the lunch rush and the lunch special...gone. The famous deviled eggs...Gone. The salad you were dying to try...all that remained was the sign in the cooler...GONE! *sigh* It was enough to almost run me back to the car, but since I didn't drive, I gathered my senses and made alternative choices. BOY, if what I had was considered "second choice"...I need to camp out overnight for my first choices!

I honestly think that Lyn's entire menu is exactly what the sign says "Gracious Goodness"! I am SO glad that she followed her heart's desire and opened up a cute, modern and bright eatery here in the Huntsville Medical district! Her bio reads:

After studying cooking through Maxim’s Restaurant in Paris and with French chef, Alain Senderens at the Great Chefs of France school at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa, Lyn Newcomb Wiginton decided it was time to fulfill her dream of opening a small restaurant.
With the opening of Lyn’s Gracious Goodness, she is where she has always wanted to be - cooking delicious, homemade, Southern food with a touch of something special.

And yes, it is very special! On this trip we ordered REAL pimiento cheese spread, the shrimp salad, The Beef Tenderloin sandwich and the Chicken Pita and I cannot forget to mention the MINT SWEET TEA *gasp AND swoon*!!! Everything was delightful even down to the homemade sweet pickles that came with the Chicken Pita. I can't wait to head back to visit Lyn. You should too...and if you me and I will leave my carry out order with you! :-)

Ode To Chocolate Cake

This is totally a rambling :-)

Ode to Chocolate Cake

My House! (no map...sorry!)
My Street
My Town, Alabama

You cannot get more local than your own kitchen! When the mood strikes, I find an overwhelming urge to find a recipe and make some noise in the kitchen! This round of culinary combat found me baking a cake especially for a friend of mine! Not just any cake, CHOCOLATE cake! The recipe...well, I yoinked it from my cousin up in Savannah, Tennessee (THE Catfish Capital of THEE World, or so the sign says) and modified it slightly (that way I can grind her gears when I tell her that I didn't really take her recipe! Ain't I a stinker? Ha!) I am unsure if this recipe is in print and I will not divulge the recipe here. We may need it for our family cookbook someday! :-)

I will just give a quick ode to chocolate cake in a haiku

Chocolate Cake Haiku

This great chocolate cake
Tastes so wonderful to me
I may need more milk.

Thank you ::takes a bow::

I encourage you to go boldly into your kitchen and create something GREAT! If you can read, you can cook! :-)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Papa Gyro's!

There's nothing like a dollop of hummus in the afternoon...

Papa Gyro's (Click for map)
4925 University Drive NW
Huntsville, AL 35816

So once again...another fine jewel that is located in a shopping plaza! I absolutely adore this place. The people are friendly, the food is wonderful, the lunch crowd is steady and the tables stay full!

Papa Gyro's has a variety of Greek entrees that varies from falafels to a veggie plate with dolmades (vegetable mixture wrapped in grape leaves) to hummus

A friend and I ventured off for this wonderful Greek adventure one cloudy afternoon and as always, we were very pleased. If you have never had a gyro...I would strongly urge you to find your nearest full blooded Greek friend and ask them, no, BEG them to point you to the best gyro you can have in your city or town. If you have to drive a little, eh, gas up the stationwagon Martha...ROAD TRIP! :)

On this visit we ordered a chicken gyro (for me!), an original (lamb & beef) gyro, fries, potato and lentil soup, hummus with warm pita bread and baklava!!! (I guess we were kinda hungry!)

This will always be one of my most favorite restaurants in the area! Nothing like a good gyro in the afternoon to put everything into perspective! :)