Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Quick Glimpse Of Our South Dakota Trip

This year we decided to spend our summer vacation in South Dakota. I’ll admit when my husband first mentioned South Dakota I was a bit skeptical. I knew there would be plenty to do and that the cooler temperatures would be great but what would we eat?? I’d heard from friends that my options would be slim; that I should expect a lot of meat and potatoes. It all seemed kind of bland and boring. Then my husband reminded me if anyone could find good food in the middle of nowhere it was me.

And off we went. We rented a private cabin/B&B nestled in the Black Hills National Forest; just steps away from a bubbling creek. It had a fridge, a microwave and a table for two. No oven; but it did have a gas grill and a picnic table. It was small and cozy. But what really made it the perfect little retreat was the gourmet breakfast that was delivered to our door each morning by our gracious host.

Every day was something different. We’d wait in anticipation just to see what Joyce would bring. We had eggs Benedict on one morning and stuffed French toast on another. A veggie omelet with a side of chicken sausage came mid-week and the best baked blueberry oatmeal the next day (see recipe below). There was always a bowl of fruit, a pot of coffee and a sweet treat included.  The nice thing was with so much food we were able to pack some up for our late afternoon picnic lunches.

We spent our afternoons visiting places like Mt Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument and Custer State Park. Wildlife was in abundance; we saw herds of buffalo, burros and several rams. As I mentioned above we had several picnic lunches; which turned out to be stolen moments by a random creek or a nearby lake.

Finding food in South Dakota was turning out to not be as big an issue as I initially thought; at least for breakfast and lunch. Dinner was a little harder. Let’s just say Rapid City doesn’t have a huge selection of restaurants; but there were a few that looked promising.  We enjoyed a night of wine and tapas at The Wine Cellar.  Some of the tapas standouts included the duck fat potatoes, the Mediterranean skewers and the cheese plate adorned with house made chutney.

On another night we dined at the Sage Creek Grille in Custer.  Since they are known for their fresh buffalo burgers I felt almost obligated to try one.  And I am glad I did. It was one of the best buffalo burgers I've had so far.

Our last night of dining out brought us back to Rapid City; to a quaint little place called the Corn Exchange.  A true "farm to table" dining experience.   The night we were there the restaurant was featuring an Alice Waters recipe for lamb chops; which I thought were great.  We also tasted the signature corn soup and the pepper, artichoke heart and mozzarella salad.  Each dish equally mouthwatering and delicious.

The true food experience of the trip were our nights we spent in the cabin.  Remember I told you there wasn't a stove and there really wasn't much in the way of accessories...but somehow we managed two lovely meals.  We purchased all kinds of unique fresh veggies from the Rapid City Farmer's Market, local meats from the grocer and even a fresh baked loaf of bread.  All of which we chopped, mixed, grilled and ate.

The motto of this story...don't underestimate a city's food choices until you've been there yourself and go go go to South Dakota.

Joyce's Baked Blueberry Oatmeal

3 C. oatmeal
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. milk
1 C. blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together and add the blueberries. Spread in a 9x9 pan, lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake 30 minutes.

****Linking this to the Happy Post at Family Fresh Cooking*****

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Clams & Spaghetti

I grew up eating clams and spaghetti made with canned clams and bottled clam juice...delicious for sure but not the ingredients I wanted to use the first time I cooked this dish.

I wanted the real thing; live clams and sauce made of naturals juices; enhanced with some white wine and crushed red pepper.  So a few weeks ago I made it my mission and set out to reinvent what I had always known as clams and spaghetti. 

I got fresh clams from Whole Foods Market; farm raised above the sand so they needed no cleaning. I purchased a nice Pinot Grigio; because that's my white wine of choice for cooking. I crushed some hot red peppers from my garden and mixed it all with one of my favorite pasta brands; De Cecco.  I followed a recipe from Mario Batali's Molto Gusto cookbook and turned out this woderful bowl of clams and spaghetti.

I'm submitting this to Presto Pasta Night being hosted this week by Jennifer from the blog For Such A Time As This.  Stop by this Friday and check out the round-up of delicious pasta recipes.

Clams & Spaghetti

(adapted from Mario Batali)


  • Coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 pound small clams, such as Manila
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons salt; return to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until garlic is softened, about 1 minute. Add wine, red-pepper flakes, and clams. Cover and cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until clams open, about 5 minutes. Transfer clams to bowl as they open; discard any unopened clams.
  3. Add pasta to boiling water and cook, according to package directions, until just al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup pasta water.
  4. Add the pasta and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water to the clam broth; stir and toss over medium heat until pasta is well coated, adding a splash or two more of reserved pasta water, if necessary, to loosen the sauce. Stir in clams, with their juices, and toss until just heated through. Stir in parsley and serve immediately

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Fairy Hobmother & Your Chance to Win A $50 Amazon Gift Card; Plus Chocolate Amaretti Cake

I think it's safe to say that there's been times in all of our lives that we wished we had a  Fairy Godmother...someone to get us out of a sticky situation or to wave a wand and grant us one little wish.

Would you settle for a Fairy Hobmother....One by the name of Ian, who works for Appliances Online...a web retailer of household appliances?   Let me explain...Ian A.K.A. the Fairy Hobmother routinely visits blogs and randomly chooses someone (from their comments) and grants them a wish.  In this case anything they want for $50 on Amazon.

My wish was granted when I left a comment over at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen and now's your chance.  You too can be visited by the Fairy Hobmother.  Just leave a comment on this post making a wish about what you would like and the Fairy Hobmother might grant you your wish. Don't worry if you don't have a blog just leave your email address so the Fairy Hobmother knows where to find you.

Now how about a little piece of cake while you're waiting for your Fairy Hobmother to arrive.  This Chocolate Amaretti Cake is rich and moist like a brownie with hints of orange and almond. You really can't go wrong with those flavors.

Chocolate Amaretti Cake
(adapted from Giada DeLaurentis) 

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup amaretti cookies (about 2 ounces)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
grated orange peel
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350F.

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Refrigerate. Microwave the chocolate until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds, for about 1 minute.

Combine the almonds and cookies in processor. Pulse until they are finely ground. Transfer the nut mixture to a medium bowl. Add the butter and sugar to the processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Add the grated orange peel and pulse briefly, until incorporated. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Blend until the eggs are incorporated. Clean the sides of the mixing bowl and blend again. Add the nut mixture and melted chocolate. Pulse until blended. Clean the sides of the bowl. Blend again.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center puffs and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Butterscotch Bars...It's All About Moderation

I really can't believe I haven't blogged about these irresistible little bars before now. They've been part of my baking repertoire for as long as I can remember.  With their crusty outer layer and ooey gooey center what's not to love.

I'm not even certain where I originally found the recipe; but I've seen it mentioned on Weight Watchers.  Don't get excited these are far from "diet" food....but hey everything in moderation is what I believe in. So cut yourself a chunk; pour a tall glass of milk and enjoy!

Butterscotch Bars

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (softened)
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butterscotch morsels

Preheat oven to 350. 

In a large bowl combine dry ingredients, set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl white and brown sugars and butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add egg whites and vanilla; beat well. 

Slowly add flour mixture into wet mixture and mix just until blended. 

Stir in chips.

Spread evenly in an 8″ square pan that has been coated with cooking spray. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pick comes out clean when inserted into center of bars. 

Cool completely and cut.