Crab & Pea Risotto (with secret ingredient)

On Father's Day I went out to dinner with mom, dad and husband. We visited a place called Touch of Venice in Cutchogue, NY. On the specials, it listed crab risotto (with peas, and a light tomato sauce) so you know I had to order it. It was so darn good, I couldn't wait to get home and try my own version in the upcoming weeks. I knew I wanted a hint of lemon in there, so lemon zest was a great touch. I couldn't figure out what I should do to compare to the light tomato sauce so I went searching in my cabinet. I found Sazòn goya which is what I use in stew, Spanish rice, and other ethnic dishes. It is a packet of seasoning and really brightens up a dish with it's sunset coloring. The sazòn was my secret ingredient in this recipe! There is a link below to this product, and it is found almost any grocery store.

We had two pieces of marinated filet mignon from Tuscany Gourmet market  which was the perfect side to this delicate dish. My husband is really getting good on that grill!

- Crab & Pea Risotto, with a Spanish twist -

1 tbs butter
1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 to 4 shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
3/4 cup white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium)
1/4 cup peas (if frozen, thaw for a bit)
3 tbs fresh grated parmesan cheese
Small amount of lemon zest
1 tbs butter
1 cup of lump crab (we used imitation crab)
Secret ingredient: Sazòn Goya, 1 packet

1. In a large pot, bring broth to a simmer and leave on low.

2. In a large sauté pan, melt butter with olive oil on medium high heat. Sauté shallots for five minutes, or until translucent.

3. Add rice to sauté pan and stir until coated. Add white wine to satué pan and stir until absorbed.

4. Slowly add one ladle of broth at a time to the rice mixture. Stir constantly in a slapping motion (not circular) until the broth is absorbed. While stirring in your last ladle of broth into the mixture, add the remaining ingredients to the dish (peas, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, butter, crab and the sazòn packet),. Stir everything together and heat for about 3 to 5 minutes.

After dinner it was nice to sit on the deck and enjoy a 
bottle of our favorite champagne! Life is good!


Pets with Food Names

I am the definition of a crazy bird lady. I am owned by six parrots, two of which I recently adopted. I was clueless as to what I should name these two new babies, so I grabbed a cook book from the kitchen and started scrolling through. I wanted to choose foods or ingredients that matched their colors. The yellow parrot is called a Sun conure, whom I named Saffron. He is told to be a male and around 6 years old. The green one is called a Nansun conure - whom many have not heard of before. It is a baby of a Nanday and a Sun. It is rare when two different types of conures breed, and it is also frowned upon as this would not happen in the wild. Since this hybrid was already created, her beauty was really special to me. I named her Olive.
Both have super personalities. They love scrambled eggs, chicken, fruit, and vegetables. Anything healthy for us humans, is usually healthy for them too. There is a list of foods they cannot eat including onions, avocados, chocolate, alcohol and more. It is so important to do a lot of research before owning one of these beautiful creatures!
After the doctor appointment, both got a clean bill of health. I look forward to having them join my flock and I am hoping all my other babies love them as much as I do!

If you have a pet with a food name, share it down below in the comments!

Here are some pics of Saffron and Olive with their new mom and dad:

Long Island, NY to Dallas, TX

Call me crazy... but I was so excited to drive halfway across the country this past week! I received a very nonchalant phone call from my aunt asking, "would you want to drive our dog [Penny] from Long Island to Dallas?" Having thought about it for a few moments, I asked my husband via text message if he would want to take the drive. As you could imagine, he said NO!

I explained in further detail that we would be driving my aunt & uncle's car, with their pup and once we arrived in Dallas, we would be staying in a 5 star resort for more than a few nights. Kevin quickly changed his mind and we started planning the trip. After we discussed with my lovely aunt Kelly, she quickly bought us plane tickets to fly us back home. When I say quickly, I mean instantly - I guess she did not want us changing our mind!

We started mapping out the trip, trying to figure out the best way to go since it was going to be 4th of July weekend - one of the busiest traveled weekends of the year! I had bought my husband Guy Fieri's book, Diners, Drive-In's and Dives, which was a perfect guide as to which way we should travel.

After about 4 hours, my excitement wore off and I dreaded the next 23.5 hours ahead! Penny, the golden doodle, slept the entire 11 hour car ride on day 1. We drove straight through to Kingsport, TN where we reached our dingy and dirty hotel. All we wanted to do was sleep, so we crashed for about 4 to 5 hours, then hit the road again. Along the way, we had a lot of unhealthy fast food as there are not many choices on the rest stops. This made us only grasp the moment for the meals we would have once we arrived at the resort.

On day 2 we drove through the very long state of Tennessee, where the clocks went back 1 hour. We continued through Arkansas which was a very flat and boring scenery for us. The exits were far and in between, with not many food choices again. I chose a food truck to have lunch at from our DDD book, but saw on their facebook page that they changed locations last minute. The new location was a bit too far out of the way for us, especially with the napping Penny in our back seat so we just kept going. The time came, and we finally arrived to the Four Seasons at Los Colinas in Dallas, Texas after 15 and a half hours. Those final minutes driving up to the hotel entrance gave us a feeling that we will never forget.

Now for the good part of our journey. Food; it is my passion to eat it, to cook it, to look at. I admire everything about flavors, textures and taste. I fill up with excitement when I read through a menu, and can't wait to take that first bite. The food at the Four Seasons is exquisite. The chef, Christof Syre, is a German gentleman with much talent. The Four Seasons is lucky to have him. Below are some of our experiences throughout the days spent at this beautiful resort. Mix in swimming at the many pools, playing golf, receiving a relaxing watermelon pedicure, and this was the life we had. All of this made that very long drive seem forgotten.

Served right to our private villa, or ordered at the sit down hotel restaurant, Cafe on the Green. Kevin and I enjoyed the room service, as we got to enjoy these fantastic breakfast' in our robes. Fluffy scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, grilled & seasoned tomatoes, with spicy breakfast potatoes. Every morning the hotel had a "juice of the day" - which my favorite was the Raspberry Orange. The side of berries was always fresh, and the hot chocolate some of the best I ever had. The homemade whipped cream may have contributed to that!

My husband, Kevin, grew up down in Florida. He is from the south and loves his biscuits and sausage gravy. When I spotted this dish on the menu in Cafe on the Green, Kevin's smile went from ear to ear. I never understood the idea of gravy in the morning, but to each his own! He also enjoyed another meal I have never tried, eggs benedict. These perfectly poached eggs sat on a hearty, meaty piece of Canadian bacon and a crisp English muffin. Of course you can see the bright and tasty (according to him) hollandaise sauce drizzled on top. It was nice to see my husband in heaven over this breakfast.

So when you are drinking by the pool, getting your tan on next to the Arizona diamondbacks MLB baseball team, it is hard to get some pictures of your lunch. The baseball team gents were so friendly, even had asked my husband to play volleyball with them. We sat with the Latino guys on the team (a few pitchers, the catcher) and they were playing some awesome jams! Then a vet who had lost his leg was sitting with us as well. The baseball guys had picked up his bill as a thank you to this man, which was so touching to witness.
For lunch, we tried the sriracha pulled pork poppers. These had a flavoring that I couldn't quite put my finger on. The meat was marinated in sriracha, can't go wrong there. It had pickled red onions and melted cheese throughout with sauteed bell peppers as well. This appetizer came with chips and a very well done homemade salsa.

Now for my favorite lunch of the trip. Unfortunately, we ventured off from the resort for this place. Using our DDD book, we picked out a burger joint in Dallas called Twisted Root Burger Co. Guy Fieri had two favorite burgers at this place, my husband and uncle Dirk had ordered one of them. The western: half pound burger with crispy fried onion rings, pickled jalapenos, bacon and melted pepper jack cheese. My uncle Dirk who happens to be a chef, was moaning during this meal! The boys loved it. I couldn't pass up the spicy goat - check it out here. The spicy goat had chipotle sauce drenched onto a hald pound juicy burger with a plop of Dallas famous goat cheese, and bacon. IT> WAS> TO> DIE> FOR! The homemade root beer was the perfect sweet sidekick! The most unique part about the Twisted Root is the way your order gets placed. Once your order is placed at the counter, they hand you a card with a famous name on it. To be called FIDDY CENT over the loud speaker was a pretty phenomenal feeling lol. I would visit TX again just to eat at this restaurant!

Where do I begin? Fourth of July...
Dinner#1: No better way to celebrate than at the Four Seasons Dallas. They set up such a fun party for America's 239th Birthday! We started out by the pool with many tropical drinks, and a DJ that was on point! After jamming out, we went back to our villa to get pretty for the evening. First was the buffet: wings, ribs, pasta, salads, and much more. Afterwards the dessert table was never ending with ice cream, pies, cake pops, cookies, and more. We then made our way to the driving range where the hotel set up a huge festival. The stage held a cover band that sang all the hit songs you can think of, while people danced and sang along with them. There was a beer garden, face painting, bounce houses, photobooths and laser tag.
Kevin and I sat with the GM, another manager and the executive chef. That alone was perfect in itself. Kevin and I enjoyed wonderful conversation and beautiful weather. I stuck with my vodka and cranberries while Kevin had some craft beer with the guys. After some drinks, we headed up to the GM's 6th floor balcony for the firework show. This was the most enjoyable firework show I've ever witnessed! It coincided with music which was an awesome touch. Even Penny enjoyed the fireworks and was not afraid of the big booms! We continued to celebrate with champagne and cigars.

Taking the champagne up to the room.

Enjoying one smoke and sipping on the good stuff - Vueve Cliquot.

Dinner #2. We got invited up to the GM's balcony once again to enjoy a delicious dinner with him. Kevin ordered southwestern shrimp that was so unbelievably tender, over creamy cheddar grits. The shrimp was spicy but not overkill to the other flavors in the dish. The chives gave it that little bit of texture needed. I ordered blackened salmon with steamed white rice and broccolini (yes, I tried to be a little bit on the healthier side which can be kind of boring)! My uncle Dirk ordered his fave - spaghetti and meat-a-balls (I always have to say it like that)! The bread was served with the best tasting butter, Plugra, which didn't help my healthy ways. We enjoyed this spectacular dinner over looking the pool and golf course.

Shrimp and cheddar grits.

Last but not least, dinner#3. My personal favorite of them all. It was called the 19th hole and was a "members only" restaurant located by the hotels sports club. The hubs and I started off with calamari. Now this was no regular calamari... forget the little circular pieces of squid. These were meaty strips fried in a crispy breading. The paired green aioli sauce was heaven sent, but the spicy one that joined was a bit too spicy for my liking. My hubs of course can handle the heat of anything (I mean, look at the spicy mamacita he married)!
After the appetizer, we were served this apple/pear flavored palate cleanser. Remember, we aren't used to these fancy little things, but to put it in children's terms, it was like an italian ice! Yes, it totally did it's job and got the fishy and spicy flavors out of our mouth.
Entree time! I have an obsession with risotto, so when it is on any menu, that is what I get. Tonight was roasted halibut over spinach parmesan risotto and a yellow tomato sauce. Are you drooling yet? The halibut could not be cooked any better than it was, and the tomato sauce was citrusy and tangy. The risotto was creamy but firm textured as it should be, and had sauteed spinach throughout.
Kev had the manly flat iron steak au poivre. He LOVES that peppery flavor on his steak. It was cooked medium rare (I'm proud of him for this as he used to only eat meat well done), and the peppercorn sauce was a perfect level for this guy! As we were both way too full for dessert, this dinner was up on the charts. One of the best.

I can definitely speak for us both and say we had the most amazing time together! Penny will be missed so much and we cannot wait to visit her again!


Recipe Book Monday: Chicken with Wild Mushrooms

Week 1
Ina Garten
Barefoot Contessa

Recipe Book Monday has begun! Every Monday I am picking out random recipes from my huge collection of cookbooks that I've never read yet. I started off with Ina Garten (one of my personal favorite chefs) and randomly chose a page number from her book Foolproof. Boy, am I lucky! I ended up with Ina Garten's Chicken with Wild mushrooms recipe. If you could only see my husband's face when the page opened!

Ina Garten's recipe calls for just the chicken in a gravy like sauce (with mushrooms, garlic, thyme) - so I decided to add a little bedding of pasta (gemelli in this case). This dish was incredibly flavorful, and my favorite part was the whole garlic cloves. When they are oven roasted in a broth they come out with a deep, sweet garlicky taste. I LOVE them like this! Another great thing about this recipe is that it uses most ingredients that you already have at home - who doesn't love that?! 
Below are some pictures as the meal was coming along, and also some reviews of what we thought.

-The following reviews are from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best-
                      Kim         Kevin
Taste:              8                  9
Presentation:   8                  8
Have again?  Yes         Definitely!


Recipe Book Monday

Can we all agree that Monday's are the worst day of the week? I was sitting here at work today, thinking, how can I make Monday's better? How can I make Monday's more exciting? My answer: Recipe Book Monday's. Some explanation below..

When my husband and I moved into our new home recently, it was very apparent that I have a cookbook obsession. I have a ton of books, including some that I haven't even had the chance to glance at! Starting this coming week (6/15), I am going to randomly select different recipes from many different books. We are hoping to find a lot of great ideas and new flavors to experiment with! I am sure there will be some recipes that we don't particularly love, some that we will want to make again and again, and some that we can even improve to our very own taste!

From these 52 recipes throughout the year (one each week), we will share the book title, author, a review and picture of the finished product! We hope you enjoy this journey with Kevin and I!


DIY Project: Globe String Lights

Hi y'all! Check out the latest blog post .. a great idea for perfect outdoor lighting. We can officially say that we have a backyard for entertaining! Our new house (we've been there for 5 weeks now) has really come a long way! Below are a few instructions on how we put together this little project of ours.

What we needed:

  • Two 8' cedar poles
  • 4 long screws (used a drill)
  • 5 screw-in hooks 
  • Three sets of 20' globe string lights (Bed bath & Beyond)
  • A saw
  • Measuring tape
What we did:
  1. We measured the height and distance of where we wanted the poles to go. We chose to have the poles 5 ft above the railing.
  2. Attached one screw hook into the top of each cedar pole. We also attached three more screw hooks into the siding of the house.
  3. Trimmed 1 inch piece of wood off of each pole. This 1 inch piece was shoved between the pole and the lower part of deck. Since the top of the railing sticks out further than the bottom, we needed to shove a piece in between to make sure the pole was standing straight (not angled). You will have to measure the length needed. *I will add a picture to show you exactly what I mean.*
  4. Screwed poles into deck railing (two screws in each pole).
  5. Hung lights through all 5 hooks. Hang them loose, or tight depending on the available height (remember people need to walk around)!

And what better way to celebrate? Double cheese burgers with crispy cajun french fries!
Yes, I totally think my husband is weird too - who else puts mayo on their burgers?! hehe :)