Before I get started with today's post, I just need to brag a little bit about my itty bitty little blog. Just found out today that I recently had my 5,000th visitor to my blog! Which just totally blows my mind--to think that I, a small town girl with a passion for food and photography, could attract that many people to my very own site is just amazing. Some days, I really love these times we live in (well, except for the Recession and the wars and suffering in Japan and Libya and stuff like that--but hey, haven't there ALWAYS been hard times?). So if you see me on the street wearing my dark Chanel sunglasses, you'll know that I'm feeling very, very famous, indeed, and am doing my best to hide out from all that paparazzi I'm attracting. Keep dreaming, right?
So Big Daddy and I took the chillins (Abbie and Sanford) back to the airport yesterday afternoon for their red-eye flight home. Well, sort of red-eye; I think they would be cruising into their dorm at around 3a.m, New York time, AFTER catching the subway (it's called BART out there--Bay Area Rapid Transit--and it's friggin' awesome!) from the airport. And Abbie had a 10 a.m. class this morning--I'm thinking she'll need at least 2 cups of Pete's strong French Roast coffee, just to stay awake in that lecture hall. Well, after saying our goodbyes, we headed back to Utica (Washington Mills, to be exact) for some real southern BBQ at Piggy Pats. It was our first time, although we have eaten their pulled pork at certain catered affairs in our town. Anyways, what a fun place! Here's their sign outside, and check out the murals painted on the walls and the quilts hanging from the ceilings:
And I wish I could show you how wonderful the food looked, but this was all I could do because I was SOOOO hungry that I virutally wolfed down my fried chicken dinner:
|Note: I didn't eat my roll, because I don't do white flour, no way, no how!|
Big Daddy had the brisket--I'm totally ordering that next time. Not that the fried chicken wasn't AMAZING, but I think the brisket was even better. So tender with a fabulous sauce. So do yourself a favor--next time you're in the Utica area--and have a meal at Piggy Pat's. They will put some south in your mouff! I think we now have two favorite places to dine down there--we also LOVE LOVE LOVE Mitsuba Sushi and Hibachi. Both restaurants are an hour away from our home, so we don't get to eat there as often as we'd like--so, they're both a real treat!
Before Abbie and Sanford left, I whipped up a quick and hearty lunch for us all. This Cream of Artichoke Soup is really fast and easy, and man oh man will it ever knock your socks clean off and into the dryer! Start by straining and chopping two cans of artichoke hearts (not the marinated kind), then boiling them in chicken broth:
Saute one large chopped yellow onion in butter, then add to the artichokes:
Gradually stir in one can of cream of mushroom soup, and your spices (be generous!)
|My spices consisted of thyme, red chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper)|
Gradually stir in half and half, stirring constantly. The recipe only calls for 1/3 cup, but I wanted to stretch the recipe to feed two big and hungry men, so I added almost a full cup, and it was great:
Remove soup from heat and serve. I had a nice wheel of fresh whole grain Foccacia bread, so I served ours with wedges of that:
EASY CREAM OF ARTICHOKE SOUP
Serve 3-4 entree-sized servings
2 13oz. cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 stick butter
1 10oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper
Bring artichokes and chicken stock to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. In a saucepan, saute onion in butter. When translucent, add onions and butter to artichoke mixture. Gradually stir in cream of mushroom soup, thyme and red chili pepper flakes. Slowly add half and half, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Today I'm grateful for:
*My husband, who works so hard for our family, and is truly my best friend in the world.
* My daughter, who continues to be the sweetest, smartest and funniest girl we know. The world is your oyster, Miss Thing!
*This blog and it's followers. I never expected to have this much fun!