A dear friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) gave me a short list of places I should visit and try their eats. Cami Cakes was on that list. While out earlier this week I finally made it. I’m not even sure where to start about this place. I have gone to many places where the presentation was phenomenal from the opening of the door to the customer service but then fell flat on the taste of the food. Not so at Cami Cakes. I had the pleasure of visiting their Vinings location. The place was inviting and the staff friendly and most helpful. I wanted to try their Red Velvet cupcake but the young lady behind the counter would not sell me what she had been removing from the case. She said they were no longer fresh (so they aren’t all about profit but good eats). I opted for the Cami Sweetheart since I couldn’t wait for the fresh batch of Red Velvet. The Cami Sweetheart is Chocolate cupcake with a cream cheese filling topped with a chocolate glaze. It was delicious…the cake moist…the filling not too sweet…the chocolate glaze was the truly the icing on the cake. I was in cupcake heaven. I plan to visit their newest location that has a creamery……cake & ice cream. How could you go wrong?. They have several locations and also now ships across the states. Click here for more on Cami Cakes
At any given moment I can whip up something scrumptious in my kitchen. All because I keep what i consider staple items in my pantry. Things I feel with a little time and some effort can be transformed into a meal. So what do I consider staples?
- Pasta (1 long noodle i.e. spaghetti or fettuccine and 1 short noodle i.e. macaroni or rigatoni)
- Stock or broth ( I keep chicken. beef and vegetable in the 32 oz size)
- Flour (all-purpose & self-rising)
- Oil (I like canola for frying & olive oil for sauteing)
- Canned tomatoes (diced and pureed)
- Canned beans ( black, pinto red or your favorite)
- Bell peppers (I prefer colored to green ones)
- Assortment of frozen vegetables (i.e. broccoli, mixed vegetables,corn)
- Ground beef
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
With a combination of just a few of these items you can have a wonderful meal. For instance you can make a quick pasta e fagioli ( broth, short pasta, diced tomatoes, a can of beans) or maybe a vegetable fried rice( oil, cooked rice, frozen mixed vegetables, onions) or even chili ( ground beef, beans, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers). Once you have the basics or the items that you use repeatedly in cooking you will always be prepared to whip something great up.
P.S. My pantry list is a little longer than the one I have included because I have a pretty sized family and lots of friends who like stop by to eat)
P.S.S. This post is dedicated to my son, Akeem, the newly wed and apparently the chef in his new household
So in appreciation of all the time energy and MONEY we spent on their marriage, my son and his wife invited us, the parents, to have brunch with them at the Georgian Terrace. I was overly excited,it has been somewhere I wanted to go since I moved to Georgia. The Georgian Terrace is on of Atlanta’s Historic sites first opening it’s doors in 1911. I knew we would be in for a treat…..but all that glitters ain’t gold.
We were to have lunch at their restaurant/bar …The Livingston. It was beautiful….historic with a modern flare
But that was where all the glitter started to lose it’s shine. I still don’t know our waiters name but let’s just say he left a lot to be desired. I was excited to see on the menu ( view Menu)Sweet Potato Donuts ( anyone that knows me knows that anything with sweet potato as an ingredient is going to be on my radar). We placed an order for the donuts to start with our teas and coffee and then ordered our brunch. There were 2 orders of the Livingston Omelet, 1 for the Black Truffle Omelet, 1 Double Cheeseburger, 1 Mini Quiche Lorraine and 1 Chicken Monte Crisco.
Now the presentations were nice but the tastes fell short. The sweet potato donuts were okay as a yeast donut but wasn’t enough sweet potato for it to carry it as a main ingredient. The omelet that my husband and son had both tasted way too salty. My son’s father-in-law’s double cheeseburger was over cooked ( actually he said it was burned along the edges) and his mother-in-law felt her quiche was just “alright”. As for me and my Chicken Monte Cristo, well, let’s just say the brioche bread was the best thing about the sandwich. It came off pretty mediocre. We all agreed that their potato products were really good. The house made waffle chips, the breakfast potatoes and the french fries were well done and very enjoyable. I really had high hopes for the meal here but my feelings were dashed. I hope it was that the chef was having a bad day but i will never know cause I’m not moved to visit them again.
So I’ve been gone for a minute….more like an hour…okay, okay….It’s been a few months but no worries I’m back. I never stopped cooking or experimenting with new recipes or styling new clothes….I’ve just been living life and well…not really documenting it. Since last I’ve written I managed to quit my job, start planning for my son’s rehearsal Dinner and Wedding (which both of his siblings are in…$$), re-launched my business Gems and Baubles (check out the website www.GemsNBaubles.com)and celebrated yet another year on this earth. I turned 42 this month and I think I look damned good for it(just my opinion)
I plan to do a whole lot better with my postings but always gonna keep on living life to it’s fullest.
The Crab Bisque at Nordstrom’s Bistro Cafe has me wanting more. It’s the kind of soup that leaves you scraping the bottom of the bowl. I had a cup with my lunch today. Can we say ”YUM”? It’s served with what they call a gazpacho and a parmesan crostini. The gazpacho was a brilliant addition to the soup. The acidity of the tomatoes helped to cut the richness of the soup making it the perfect blend. If you’re lucky enough to have a Nordstrom’s near I highly recommend stopping by the Bistro Cafe and ordering a bowl (not the cup) of Crab Bisque.
So many people knock using jar sauce…well I use jar sauce. I don’t have the time to make sauce from scratch, so I do the next best thing…. I doctor up a jar of sauce. Now you may be asking what do I mean by doctoring a jar of sauce? Well we can compare it to surgery…we just aren’t cutting up any people. First things first you’re gonna need a jar of sauce. I went with Ragu because it was on sale.
Now here’s where the cutting begins. I started by dicing onions, bell peppers and portabella mushrooms.
I then took about a pound of ground beef and browned it off. Added some sausage and some diced bacon.
Now what most people don’t understand about cooking is that it is not a true science. It’s about what you like and how it makes you feel. You have to find out what works for you and your palette and make it WORK.
I love, love , love a lot of garlic ( especially in Italian food). Maybe that doesn’t work for you ( guess what don’t add it). After that’s done I added the jar of sauce and began a prescription of seasonings. Thyme, crushed pepper flakes, kosher salt, black pepper, dried Italian herbs and some slow simmering……
Let your imagination and your taste buds run free when trying to doctor a jar of sauce. maybe you want to add just vegetables,,,, diced or shredded zucchini, carrots, spinach, sweet peas or maybe you want to try adding seafood, or alternative to ground beef…It’s all up to you.
Now because I’m always taking it to the next level I decided I would doctor the pasta, too. I used thin spaghetti cooked according to to package directions. Then I sauteed garlic with red pepper flakes in olive oil, making sure not to burn the garlic ( nothing worst than the taste of burned garlic)
Then I added the pasta with some of the cooking water and minced parsley. Time to serve it up