Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dinner Club: Fried Chicken & Waffles (recipes included)

Dinner Club: Fried Chicken and Waffles.

Dinner Club went down recently at Chez Wilson.  We have had the same 3 couples involved in this dinner club for probably 6 years.  It's hard to keep track.  We rotate homes and the goal is to make something you have never made before for the group. (RECIPES AT BOTTOM)
The Players of dinner club. 
As we have gotten older, greyer, chubbier, and added some kids to the mix (4 kids between the 6 of us with another about to be born, 3 cats and 2 dogs among the crew as well), we meet less often, but the effort seems to be about the same.  Lots of it.  Lots of prep, flavor and love.

Mostly, it's fun to get together and drink wine and have someone else cook for you.

This time however, Team Wilson was on the go.

I have been promising these wild animals a southern meal for months.  I put the menu out for a vote between Fried Chicken or Jambalaya.

The votes were tallied and though it was a tie, the pregnant lady got 2 votes since she's really voting for two.

The verdict? Winner Winner Fried Chicken Dinner.

I've never fried anything before, well, except scallop fritters for our very first dinner club way back when (4 moves ago for me).  I was a little nervous.

Here's the menu line up.  (recipes and links at bottom)
A steamed tail-on shrimp.
A steamed tail-on shrimp. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Spicy Shrimp, Andouille Sausage and Bacon in a Southern Sauce (forgot to photograph, but this was the best part of the meal! )(I added to the recipe as you will see at the bottom)


Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Golden Love right out of the fryer. Who needs KFC?
Waffles with white bacon gravy
Spring Salad (why not pretend something healthy was being served?)
used a basic organic balsalmic vinagrette


Wilson Family Recipe, Gooey Butter with powdered sugar on top and whipped cream on the side.
delicious and deceivingly addictive!

Recipes and/or links below Review.


1.  APPETIZER:  by far in my opinion the best part of the meal. Next time, I would serve this as an entree over rice and with some bread for dipping in the sauce.  If you have been to New Orleans and Acme Oyster House, then you know how our house smelled.  Spicy and awesome.

2.  The Chicken:  I don't eat fried food very often, I thought it was very tasty due to the 24 hour brining process, I think the others liked it better than me.  The next day it was excellent cold.

3.  The Waffles.  Meh.  They were ok.  We didn't do a home made batter, and our timing was a little off so I think that could have made a difference.  Plus, I think you are supposed to offer a gravy AND a syrup.  We only offered the gravy.  I don't like gravy, but they seemed to.

4.  The dessert - gooey butter.  It is deceiving.  It has been served as a holiday breakfast item for decades in the Wilson Family, long before I joined.  At first blush you will not know it's addictive nature, but one bite comes and goes, and then suddenly you realize you need another.  And another.  It is even better the next day.
It was strangely quiet when we were all done.  More wine was poured, Bourbon for some, we sat around and watched the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, watching Brangelina fall in love all over again on screen.  We were all full and tired, and it was a really good time.

Will I make this particular menu again?  No.  Will I make the Appetizer as an entree again, YES YES YES. And I married into the Christmas Gooey Butter lifestyle, so that will be going on every year!  I do recommend the chicken recipe though, and I hear the one from Ad Hoc in Napa is even better.

ENJOY YOUR WEEK AND YOUR DETOX! (oh wait, that's for me.) :) 

Spicy Shrimp, Spicy Andouille Sausage & Bacon (CLICK HERE) NOTE:  (I altered this recipe by purchasing store bought pre-cooked sausage, cutting into quarter inch slices - I used 3.  I also did 8 pieces of bacon cut into large pieces so all three proteins could be eaten in one bite on a toothpick. ALSO I bought the shrimp peeled, deviened and no tail at Bristol Farms.  I don't like to peel.)


Waffles, we just did basic Aunt Jemima waffle mix (due to lack of time)

Go here: 

Honestly, this isn't the exact recipe but I can't find the one we used, this was close though.  Also we added little bacon chunks, because as any semi - intelligent person knows - EVERYTHING IS BETTER WITH BACON.  Duh.  

Gooey Butter Recipe:
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter
1 egg

blend together with a fork and pat in the bottom of a 9x13 greased pan.

2 eggs
1 box powdered sugar
1 8oz block Philly cream cheese

Mix together (easier with a stand or hand mixer) and pour over the top of cake mix.
Bake at 3500 F for 35-40 min (temp shoudl be 325 if using a glass pan)

Eat until you pass out.  I'm telling you, it's addictive!!

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Sesame Crusted Ahi with Soy/Honey Ginger Drizzle - Recipe

For Easter Dinner I decided to buck tradition and go with something a little lighter and with an Asian flair.

I prepared a sesame crusted Ahi with Brown Rice and a Frisee Salad.  Husband poured the Konsgaard Chardonnay that he keeps locked up in his own special fridge (seems so paranoid to me that he worries I'll slurp up his "good" stuff when he's gone and I "get in a mood.") But indeed I did slurp / classy lady style - downed the good wine while I cooked / started fires.

The meal was a success - with a few modifications that I will recommend to you!

Also, A word to the wise, you put out a kitchen fire with FLOUR.  Do not pour water on it.  Needless to say, we had ourselves a little kitchen fire as I was heating my oil in a stainless steel pan.  Guess my stove runs hot because kaboom, fire.  Alarms.  Flour flying.

Despite the fire and flour everywhere, I switched to a cast iron skillet and away we went.

Recipe for Sesame Crusted Ahi with Soy Ginger Drizzle:

(I snagged this recipe off of a blog that is just stunning and seems really user friendly for foodies like me who opt for simple recipes.  Check out this cool blog, Jacob's Kitchen and thanks Jacob for the killer recipe!)

Start with high grade Ahi and pat it dry with paper towels.
Season both sides with salt and fresh ground pepper
Fill a plate with regular sesame seeds
Coat the Tuna all over with the sesame seeds
Get your pan super hot (Per above, I used cast iron, the stainless steel caused a fire!)
then just a couple teaspoons of vegetable oil is plenty.
depending on the size of the tuna sear each side anywhere from 90 seconds to 2 minutes (ask your butcher!!!)

**My Tuna was probably a little too thick, nearly 2 inches, I recommend going a little smaller.  I did 2 minutes per side.  For something this thick, I'd add another 30 seconds.
If you have an inch and a half or so maybe 90 seconds per side.


Get this started before you sear the Ahi as it takes 5/10 minutes.

In small sauce pan mix and simmer the following for 5/10 minutes:
1/3 cup low sodium soy
1/3 cup honey
few slices of fresh slices of ginger
a few smashed garlive cloves
Pinch of Chipoltle or Cayenne pepper (I used Cayenne)
Once it's syrupy in 5/10 minutes, I strained it to get the ginger and garlic out.
You will use this drizzle over the Tuna right when you pull the tuna out of the pan.

USE THE Wilsons' Eating Tour Recipe to make it perfecto 
Click here to get it!!!

For the Frisee Salad - I just let the drizzle from the sauce serve as the dressing to the entire dish. As you can see I stacked it all up, drizzled away and it was divine.

Enjoy and let me know what you think and if you try this!


Thank you husband for saving the day while on a work call with the fire alarm blaring in the background, the animals in a panic and the baby seeming to not notice (Thank G*d).

The Wilsons

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Beer n' Bourbon. A Review.

Pappy Van Winkle
Pappy Van Winkle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Beer n' Bourbon.

Two important dudes in my life (one being husband) are really into beer, scotch and recently - bourbon.  

I like really good beer m'self, but am slowly in bourbon and scotch training wheels.  That said, seems like with my husband and our friend Jeff Malcomb's mild to massive obsession with scotch n' bourbon I'll be drinking them like they are water before summer's end.  

In fact as a side note, my husband, busy guy actually, has managed to weasel in enough free time to become a self described "Pappy Hunter," and by that, I mean none other than Pappy Van Winkle.  

Now, as another side note, if you watch the truly gloriously bizarre show Justified (kinda like Sopranos hillbilly style) then you hear a lot of reference to Pappy Van Winkle.  That creepy blond Detroit villain walks in to any given bar and orders - very cooly - "Pappy Van Winkle.  Neat."  

I aspire to be that gal with bourbon in her office - ok fine - right now it's a home office - but conjure thoughts of Mad Men and Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock.  Even Glen Close in Damages.  That was awesome. Every time someone walks in, meander over to my tray, pour myself a Pappy, Neat.  It will happen one day.  I might even get a smoking jacket to match my life partner's blue velvet one.  You've seen it on the bottom right of this blog.

But, I keep getting off track.  Drum roll please.  Here is the breakdown - well two breakdowns - about the best beers you should be drinking this summer and the best bourbon and scotch along with very articulate reasons as to "why."



  1. Pliny the Elder (Russian River) – Best IPA in the world.  Hands down.  Double IPA so you get nice hopiness.  Anyone who tells you different is a jacka**
  2. Blind Pig (Russian River) – Single IPA.  Little less bitterness than the Pliny, or maybe more bitterness.  Don’t know, don’t care.  Just love it
  3. Sclupin IPA (Ballast Point) – What (dude two) said

  1. Pappy Van Winkle 20 yr – Perfect wheated bourbon that goes down smooth.  I would bathe in this stuff if I could get my hands on 100 gallons to fill my tub
  2. William Larue Weller – No bottle age but we all guess it is around 18 yrs.  The “other” wheated bourbon from SW.  Nice vanilla notes.
  3. Macallan 18 yr – Just the ti*s

  1. Sclupin IPA (Ballast Point) - The absolute perfect balance of bitter hoppiness and bright notes of apricot and lemon.  My favorite all around beer.
  2. Pliny the Elder (Russian River) - I like it for a lot of the same reasons I like the Sculpin.  Pliny is a bit more hop forward and therefore a "bigger" beer.
  3. Hoegaarden Wit - Since it's starting to warm up I thought I'd throw in one of my favorite summer time beers.  A classic Belgian Wit (Wheat beer for us gringos).  Citrus, coriander and a hint of banana.  Mild carbonation.  It's the beer version of lemonade on a hot summer day.
  1. Van Winkle 12 year "Lot B" Bourbon - Diehards will go for the older Pappy Van Winkle, but for an "everyday" bourbon this stuff is the bomb.  Great balance of sweetness and oak.
  2. Glenlivet XXV Single Malt - I've had this a grand total of 1 time, but it is just straight silk!  Not affordable at all, but it's damn good.  An under-rated alternative from the same distillary is the Glenlivet 15 French Oak Reserve.  Good balance of fruit and spice.  Easy drinking for newcomers to single malt Scotch.
  3. Jameson 18 year Limited Reserve - woodsy and spicy, but still easy drinkin'.  This is NOT the Jameson you order with Coke at your local dive .  In fact, if you mix it with anything I will find you and take your bottle!

A VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR Jeff Malcomb, who will gladly drink your liquor and tell you what he thinks.  You can contact him directly at  Just kidding.  Don't do that.  

PS a great hangover helper is to chug a Coconut Water before bed and first thing when you wake up.  Just thought you might be feeling tipsy upon reading this.

The Wilsons
& Malcomb.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rethinking Take Out for a Celebration

Table Setting, Beachy Romantic Theme
Rethinking Take Out for a Celebration - Manhattan Beach 

The husband and I celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary last night.  Well, we technically got our celebration on last weekend at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California, but last night was our actual anniversary.

Exhausted from the "celebrating" we did over the weekend, and haggard from chasing my 22 month old around and trying to work all at once, I decide that instead of cooking a nice meal for the husband, I would try and do upscale (but light) take out (light because we wayyy over indulged at Terranea).

Normally take out in Manhattan Beach feels like a dilemma because we grew accustomed to NYC and that ANYTHING could be delivered to your doorstep. 

So here, I always come up with the same old standbys, Baja Fresh, Islands, Pizza, ???  SO I called our FAVORITE local Sushi spot here in Manhattan Beach, Izakaya and asked them if I could do a freshly prepared order for TAKE OUT.  I know, sushi for take out can sound a bit randy at first, but it was NEARLY perfect.

The only flaw was that I picked it up too early so it had to sit while husband put baby to bed.  There were a couple of hot items, they were still good, but would have been better if they didn't have to sit 20 minutes.

OTHER THAN THAT, With a little effort on the preparation front, the food was fabulous and the vibe just right.  Plus, I could get as many pours of the Veuve as I wanted without paying extra :)

SO - here are some photos and my favorites from IZAKAYA!

Top Left clockwise: Yellow Tail Sashimi with Jalepeno; Yellow Sashimi, Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna, Spicy Tuna Rolls

Again, Yellow Tail Sashimi with Jalapeno

Baked Crab Hand Roll

Requires no explanation.

Also had Creamy Rock Shrimp Tempura - but the photo wasn't good, take my word for it, it's DELISH!

Next time you want to impress your significant other or have people over, pick it up, make it pretty, and voila, you will impress!

For my local friends, highly recommend the dishes above!  

KEEP ON EATING AND DRINKING and Know I'm with you in spirit at all times :) 


Monday, April 12, 2010

Move OVER Spin Dip! Hello Mo's Jalapeno Cheddar Dip!

Move OVER Spin Dip! Hello Mo's Jalepeno Cheddar Dip!
(ps: I know Jalepeno is spelled Jalapeno, but this is how it is spelled on the container, so I'm just repeating!)

The Wilsons are big BIG ole fans of Whole Foods and feel pretty lucky to have one so close by where we live.  
We were at a Birthday dinner for a friend a month or so ago and his girlfriend bought all sorts of fabulous food and apps at Whole Foods.  

Naturally I parked myself directly in front of the cheese and dip offerings and discovered something truly revolutionary.  Truly Divine.  One bite and the sky opened and the angels sang.

Or, let's face it, I just ate nearly the entire thing ... of MO'S JALEPENO CHEDDAR DIP. (carried in the cheese section at Whole Foods in El Segundo, CA)

I don't know if they carry it at every Whole Foods, but where ever you live LOOK INTO IT.  Shreds of cheddar, just enough chunks of Jalapeno, and all sorts of fabulous creamy goodness that are listed on the label but I'd rather just know that it tastes LOVVEEELYYY.

Low in calorie? I think not.  But when in the mood for a dip, or having a party  this is a brilliant dip to offer.  

I think instead of chips some really crispy and sweet red pepper wedges would be a good option to dipping or even some cool crisp cucumbers. 

DELISH!  Go find yourself some Mo's Jalepeno Cheddar Dip!


Great Party Dips

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Artichoke Gratinata (crowd pleasing veggie dish!)

Globe artichokes being cooked with whole <span class=

Artichoke Gratinata (crowd pleasing veggie dish!)

Ok, throw me a bone here friends, this is another Giada Recipe I saw her whip up on Food Network.

I've been waiting for a chance to try this recipe - and Saturday night (same night of the goat cheese stuffed mushrooms) was the perfect night. I was sick of my usual Arugula Salad, or grilled veggies (to be honest I don't like many veggies so it gets hard to be creative) but this one is a true crowd pleaser. I made a few adjustments that I'll list below the regular recipe!!

What You'll Need:
*3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
* 1 garlic clove minced
* 1 lb frozen artichoke hearts, thawed & drained
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
* 3/4 teaspoons salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1/2 cup chicken broth
* 1/4 cup Marsala wine
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/3 cup plan bread crumbs
* 1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese.

*(My modifications: I doubled the recipe to accommodate 6 as this recipe says it's for 4. Instead of sauteing everything in olive oil, I used my left over bacon grease that I had made for my stuffed mushrooms (naughty, I know.) I also used more like 3-4 minced garlic cloves and a little extra red pepper flake)

To Do:

* Preheat Oven to 450 degrees

* Warm olive oil (or bacon grease in my case) in a heavy bottom skillet (I used cast iron) over medium - high heat. Add the garlic & cook for 1 minute. Add the artichoke hearts, parsley, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook until the artichoke hearts are starting to brown a the edges around 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and wine and simmer 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a 2-4 quart baking dish.

* Melt the butter in the same skilled used to cook the artichoke mixture. In a small bowl mix the melted butter with bread crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and top the artichokes with the bread crumb mixture. Bake until top is golden around 10 minutes.

Serve With:
This is a great side for beef (I made bacon wrapped grilled filets); pork; meaty fish dishes or even chicken.

(apologies for not having a photo of the dish, I had too many balls in the air and next thing I knew it had been consumed! Everyone loved this dish - I feel it's a good crowd pleaser and even a kid friendly veggie dish! Give it a try and report back)


Monday, March 8, 2010

Scrumptious Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Bacon

stuffed mushrooms with herbs and goat cheeseImage by little blue hen via Flickr

Scrumptious Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Bacon

I originally came upon this recipe from a blog I read called BreezyMama. I made a couple of very minor modifications, such as adding more goat cheese and bacon than originally
recommended, as well as some garlic. I will list the original recipe as well as my modifications below!

I served this as an appetizer at a dinner party Saturday night and they were gobbled up within minutes! The prep and bake time is NOTHING so if you need an easy but scrumptious appetizer this is for you!

You'll Need:
* 16 oz Mushroom Caps (the bigger the easier to stuff)
* 5.5 oz goat cheese
* 7 slices bacon
* 2 green onions

(Modification: I used about 7.5 oz of Goat Cheese; 8 -9 slices of applewood smoked bacon to add sweetness; 3-4 green onions (the white part has the most flavor), two-three cloves of garlic minced and browned in the bacon fat you have left
* Cook bacon in large skillet (save the grease to brown some garlic if you follow my modification)
* (optional) brown the garlic for a minute or so in the hot bacon grease)
* Wash & Cap 'Shrooms
* Dice green onions and bacon
* Mix the green onions, bacon, goat cheese (& garlic) in a bowl
* Stuff Shroom caps
* Spray a large baking sheet with Pam
* arrange stuffed shrooms on baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes or so until brown on top!


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