Saturday, March 24, 2012

Big Sky's Buck's T-4

My husband's work most recently brought him to Big Sky, Montana, for an aerospace conference. He had gone to this same event last year without me, and came back convinced that I needed to share the experience with him this year.

Who was I to argue with this??

He flew out over the weekend while I worked at a conference of my own for the beginning of the week (I guess early March is conference time, no matter what industry), then met him up in the mountains on that Thursday. The views from the resort were amazing.

Montana cuisine is all about the wild game. You'll find elk, wild boar, and bison as staples on every menu. From the airport, I took a shuttle up to the mountain. I was lucky enough to see these beautiful bighorn sheep on the way up...

The bus driver was the first one to mention Buck's T-4 as a must-eat-at place. Mental note made. Thank you.

When I met up with my hubs at the hotel, we went to visit the concierge for ideas on activities. She was #2 to mention Buck's. Alrighty then. She kindly made us a reservation for our last night there.

In the meantime, we had some fun with sled dogs!

We had such a fun time with the dogs and enjoyed some amazing views along the trail. My driver was pretty handsome too. :)

So, the end of our trip came, as did our time at Buck's. It's quite a ways away from the hotel, so they actually offer a complimentary shuttle from the resort to the restaurant.

I ordered the bison tenderloin, which is served with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables, and topped with fried onion strings.

The bison was melt-in-your-mouth tender, really flavorful, and a huge portion. Button was unbuttoned after eating this meal. The potatoes were quite possible the best I've had in the States...My favorite mashed potatoes were in Paris - so silky smooth, you want to drink a whole bowl of them...but these were pretty darn scrumptious.

The hubby ordered a bison meatloaf grilled cheese sandwich. Hello!! Meatloaf grilled cheese?!? Oh yeah, that's smart. Why haven't I thought of that before? Needless to say, I'm inspired to add cheese to my next meatloaf sandwich. How 'bout you?

In addition to the ginormous sandwich, he got a plate full of crispy fries and a yummy house-made smoked ketchup. There wasn't much left on that plate at the end of the night. It was a winner.

What a nice end to a beautiful weekend away in the snow. Happy tummy, happy me.
If you ever find yourself in Big Sky, check out Buck's T-4!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Whole Wheat Lemon Cherry Scones

Maybe I should temporarily change this blog to "Bakin' With Yogurt From the Fridge," because, let's be real, that's what I've been doing lately. I went searching for scone recipes using yogurt, and I found a great new (well, new to me) food blog: Cookie + Kate. She cooks vegetarian with whole foods. Nice and healthy.

The featured recipe was for "Heavenly Lemon Blueberry Scones," using frozen or fresh blueberries and lemon zest. I didn't have blueberries, but I did just purchase a huge bag of dried cherries from Costco, and I had plenty of lemons, so I decided to go for it.

First, the dry ingredients go in. What I do love about this recipe is that it uses 100% whole wheat flour. No combo of white flour and whole wheat, just the whole stuff. Baking powder, salt, and raw sugar are added too.

Then I added my lemon zest and butter. After that I added the dried cherries, which were chopped up a little so that they wouldn't be such big pieces of cherry in each bite.

In go the yogurt and milk...I used soy milk because that's all I had. I'm one of those lactose-intolerant folks. But of course regular cow's milk or even almond or rice milk would probably do just fine too!

It should form a sticky ball once everything is mixed together.

Flour a clean surface or cutting board, then shape the dough into a round patty that is about 1/2 -3/4 inch thick. Then cut it into wedges for baking. I brushed mine with a little milk, then sprinkled the raw sugar on top.

This is how they turned out! Golden brown and delicious with a cup of coffee or tea! And, they are totally guilt-free! Ok, besides the 5 tablespoons of butter...but you can't make scones without it, so get over it. I did. :)

Whole Wheat Lemon Cherry Scones
Adapted from Cookie + Kate, who used a recipe from Chocolate & Carrots

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I use Bob's Red Mill flour)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado (raw cane) sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • zest of one lemon (I used 2 small ones)
  • 3/4 -1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt (I used 0% fat yogurt by Fage)
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk (I used light soy milk)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine flours, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk together.
  3. Slice butter and drop into dry ingredients. If you have a pastry cutter, use it to cut the butter into the flour. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, use a knife to cut the butter into tiny pieces and mix it into the flour.
  4. Add dried cherries and lemon zest and gently stir.
  5. Gently mix in milk and yogurt. Eventually you’ll need to use your hands to knead the last of the flour into the dough.
  6. Form dough into a circle about that’s about an inch deep all around. Cut the circle into 8-12 slices, depending on how big you want them.
  7. Separate slices and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or foil.
  8. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with a bit of raw sugar.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Florida Favorite

This is gonna be a pretty short post. We've been traveling a lot over the last few weeks, and we're just in the middle of it. At this point I'll be home for a 4-day stretch sometime in early April.  I thought I'd share a little bit about our trip to Florida at the end of February and a new love.

We like going to local restaurants when we travel - places that one cannot find in California. For example, Cracker Barrel. Good home cooking for not a lot of money. The excitement of having dinner there was pretty high for me. I mean, biscuits, cornbread, country ham, meatloaf, chicken n' dumplings, greens, mac n' cheese...all for $9? You can't beat it.

But then we found Steak 'n Shake. Oh dear. If I lived in Florida I would be there way too often for my own heart's good. They serve the "original steak burger," really good chili, and amazing milkshakes. And it's super cheap. Love it.

I think it's kind of like the In 'n Out burger phenomenon on the west coast. But this place has a more complex menu, which I kind of love.

Oh, Steak 'n Shake, how I love thee, let me count the calories.

These are the shakes. The front left we have the Reeses peanut butter cup shake. In the back, the "banacolate" shake - banana and chocolate in one glass.

Did I mention I loved this place?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lettuce Wrap Tacos

I got some great bib lettuce in my CSA box. I always try to wash and use the lettuce as soon as I can because I find that organic lettuce is very delicate and can wilt quickly.

This bib lettuce makes a great vessel to wrap up tasty flavors. Besides my Thai-inspired lettuce wraps, I also like to do Tex-Mex tacos. So I went searching in my kitchen for all the right ingredients.

I had ground turkey, black beans, colby jack cheese. Good start.

Hmm. No onions, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado. No taco seasoni...what?!? I ran out of taco seasoning?? Uh-oh. I panicked a little. I always have packets of taco seasoning in my pantry!!

Well, apparently I ran out. I searched a little deeper. Oh hello, Rotel canned diced tomatoes with green chiles. I will use you.

I also used leeks (somehow I have had an abundance of leeks in my CSA lately) in place of onions. I used greek yogurt in place of sour cream.

I used some Mexican herb mix (which has Mexican oregano, dried onion, and other yummy things) , some chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, red chile flakes, cumin, and coriander to season the meat. I browned the meat on medium heat, threw in the leeks and canned tomato/chile, and I had my filling. Success!

I warmed up the black beans on the stove top sprinkled with a little of the Mexican Herb mix and salt, and dinner was ready to eat. Tacos with no shell or tortilla OR packaged taco seasoning. Revolutionary.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Alpine Village: Another Great Local Find

When we moved to Torrance, California, we knew we would have no shortage of Japanese cuisine. Because of the Toyota and Honda manufacturers making a home in our hometown, there are Japanese markets and restaurants everywhere to serve the community of workers who moved here. Japanese-Americans all over LA know that good food can be found here.

What I didn't expect was to find a real authentic German restaurant in the neighborhood. I'd heard of Alpine Village as a place to go for Oktoberfest, but in the 2 years we've been here, we've missed it. So, when Groupon had a deal for this place, I jumped at the opportunity to go and check it out.

Alpine Village is an interesting place. It's got a restaurant and café, and a community center room that can be rented for parties. It even has a little business area with shops, a dentist office, a hair salon, and even a wedding chapel. Fascinating and a little kitschy. Let's just say, it opened in the 1960s and there hasn't been a ton of updatin', if you know what I mean. :)

The timberframe architecture takes you away to a tiny German village. The restaurant is dim and wood paneling covers the walls inside. The beer is ever-flowing, and the potatoes and sausage are
d-a-n-g-e-r-o-u-s-l-y scrumptious.

I don't remember what hubby had to drink, but mine was a heifeweizen...I can tell by the orange slice.

Hubby ordered a classic wienerschnitzel, which is served on top of the most amazing potato, bacon, onion, and parsley concoction I've ever had. So good.

I had a Hungarian sausage plate with sauerkraut, the wondrous potatoes, and a duo of mustard. You'll see in the picture, on the bottom left, there's a piece of bread with chicken liver paté. They give you a whole little pot of that with a basket of bread and butter before your meal. It's so yummy. I took the rest home to eat the next day.

After dinner, we checked out the market. Now that was like walking into a supermarket in the middle of Europe. It made this girl so happy. Especially when I wandered into this aisle...

Chocolate! All the chocolate that one can find in Europe. It was glorious. Lindt, Ritter Sport, Milka.

And they also carry a lot of products that can only be found in Smurf soup mix. I love how it's translated - schlumpf. Hehe.

Needless to say, this is a fun place for Europhiles like me. I had a great time, and we can't wait to take our German relatives here next time they are in town!