Why another cooking blog?

I decided to create this blog as a way for family and friends to see what I'm cooking and to share interesting food related tidbits I come across.
I'm frequently asked for recipes so I thought this would be a good place to start collecting the old, new, and funky recipes that I have.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Food P*rn Friday

It's National Grilled Cheese Month, in homage of that this week's Food P*rn Friday will be nothing but grilled cheeses. Yum!

From e is for eat - B is for Brie & Green Bean Casserole Grilled Cheese Sliders

From Closet Cooking - Grilled Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Sandwich

From Life's Ambrosia - Grilled Three Cheese Sandwich

From Panini Happy.com - Spicy Grilled Cheese Sliders

From Closet Cooking - The Perfect Grilled Cheese

From Closet Cooking - Breakfast Grilled Cheese with Maple Syrup

From Care's Kitchen - Grilled Cheese With Roast Beef and Sweet Red Caramelized Onions

From A Couple Cooks - Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I Will Never Fly American Airlines Again

I know this is a food blog but I'm mad and need to vent. Plus maybe this will save someone else the trouble of dealing with the craptastic failure that is American Airlines.

Why I Will Never Fly with American Airlines Again

After a hellacious trip to Orlando earlier this month, American Airlines being the main culprit could have tried to make the situation right. But they didn’t.
I sent a complaint letter. Here it is:

As a loyal American Airlines frequent flyer, I am writing you to express my extreme disappointment and shock at the lack of customer service and consideration I experienced during a recent business trip. I have recently started a new job that requires monthly travel at a minimum. Every trip I have scheduled thus far has been with American Airlines and I’ve had no problems until my flight (1812) on 3/31 from Miami to Orlando. While I understand that American Airlines does not have any control over the weather, you do have control over how you treat your customers. In that regard, your representatives failed miserably.

The record locator number for this trip is [redacated]. Ticket number 001- [redacted].

After being informed of the cancellation, the passengers; myself included waited in line for over an hour to be told that we were going to be bused to Orlando. I and others nearly missed the announcement because the line was so long those of us at the end could not hear the ticketing agent who was not using the loud speaker.  I expected to be told we would be put on a flight later in the evening or the following morning. That was not the case. Cancelling a flight is to be expected on a rare occasion, but being put on a bus over 3 hours after our scheduled departure time is unacceptable.

Whomever was responsible for requesting a bus for the passengers failed. Miserably. The bus that arrived could not accommodate all of the passengers and that was painfully obvious to all of us. There was a mad rush to door of the bus and an AA representative took boarding passes but did not explain that another bus was on the way. People began to get irate, and no one from AA took the time to explain the situation. 
The 30 or so passengers who did not get on the first bus boarded the next bus and then we proceeded to sit for 45 minutes, with the doors closed (with no air conditioning) waiting to leave. Again, no American Airlines representative told us what was happening or why we were sitting there.  I finally went to the front of the bus to ask why were had not yet left and was informed that we were waiting for a few people who had not yet boarded the bus.
Not having an American Airlines representative present at the time of our arrival (2AM) in Orlando to tell us what terminal and where to go to find our luggage is unacceptable.  The bus driver dropped us off at the wrong terminal and we had to wander around the deserted airport to find the right place to pickup our luggage.

The absolute lack of communication, customer service, and general desire to be helpful was shocking and reprehensible. At no time did anyone offer any kind of apology to any of the travelers nor did they try to make the situation right.  I feel extremely dissatisfied at the lack compassion or compensation on behalf of American Airlines.

The way I and my fellow passengers were treated has me seriously reconsidering any future travel plans with American Airlines.  I believe in brand loyalty but American Airlines does not really seem to care about keeping me as a customer.  During my past experiences with American Airlines I never observed any customer relationship problems. Hopefully the issues aired above do not become the American Airlines norm. However, without a sincere recognition of American Airline's failings, I may be forced to rearrange all of my (as well as my family’s) future travel plans amounting to anywhere from 10,000 – 30,000 miles for this year depending on my personal and business travel requirements. I currently have 2 flights for family vacations booked with American Airlines for later this year.

I may be contacted at [redacted] or on my cell phone at [redacted].

Thank you for your prompt attention,
AA frequent flyer # [redacted]

Long story short - cancelled flight, really crappy customer service, bus, 4 hour trip, no A/C, lost in airport, 2AM.
As you can see I was expecting a response. This is what I got 1 minute after I sent the e-mail to their customer relations department.

April 25, 2012

Dear Ms. [Redacted],

Thank you for contacting us. You trusted us with your valuable time and you were understandably disappointed when we didn't get you to your destination on time. There's clearly nothing more frustrating for everyone -- customers and employees alike -- than having to endure the difficulties associated with air travel when bad weather impacts our flights. From the details you provided, it certainly sounds as if the circumstances surrounding your flight were made even more frustrating by the lack of assistance you received.
When bad weather happens, in the interest of safety, we don't have too many options to get you to where you are going as planned. What we can do, however, is display a friendly attitude to help make the situation a little less trying and I'm sorry we didn't do so on this occasion. At the same time, we are glad that you took the time to share the details of your experience. Your comments enable us to see things from our customers' perspective and help us to improve.
Bad weather is not something we can overcome and the direct impact on our flight schedules is unavoidable. Accordingly, it is not our policy to reimburse our customers' out-of-pocket expenses, make up for lost time, or offer compensation when we don't operate our flights as planned. I am sorry. Nevertheless, you have my assurance that we will continue to focus on the on time departure of our flights and our customer service standards.
Ms. [Redacted], we are eager for another chance to serve you -- we will do our very best to get you to your destination as scheduled and provide you with the kind of service you deserve.


W. Chris Calnan  
Customer Relations
American Airlines

AA Ref#1-528327729 

In case you didn't want to read it all, it basically says - screw you.

So obviously no one read my e-mail either that or this Chris Calnan guy is the fastest reader and typist in the world. I'm going to go with the latter. When I called one of the umpteen phone numbers for American Airlines I was told that there are no phone numbers for Customer Relations and that I will have to send another e-mail…. Because that worked so well the first time. 
What’s sad is all I wanted was an upgrade to elite gold status which I would have achieved at the end of this year anyways. That’s it, that’s all. But rather than even try to find out how the7 could make it right, they decided to blow me off with a form letter. Obviously American Airlines really does not believe in trying to keep their loyal customers. How disappointing. Now I have to go about cancelling my two current booked flights and have to find a new airline to build a relationship with... awesome.

Oh and I'm also going to tweet this to everyone who is following the InfoSecWorld twitter handle (@InfoSec_World), I'm going to send it to The Consumerist and everyone I know on Facebook as well. I may not have a lot of social media power, but The Consumerist, Facebook, and Twitter do.

I know what I'm having for lunch...

April is national grilled cheese month... how am I just learning this now? Looks like a place in Houston made the cut for this short list of great grilled cheeses. Way to represent Houston!

Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.
Let’s hope you didn’t miss that key April deadline. No, not Tax Day. I’m talking about April 12, National Grilled Cheese Day. If that illustrious date did pass you by, not to worry: Unlike failure to file your taxes, there are no financial penalties. Plus April is National Grilled Cheese Month, so there’s still plenty of time to celebrate.
I’m pretty much of a grilled cheese purist: I just need some bread, good melting cheese and plenty of butter. But there are lots of professionals out there who think much bigger than me. Here are some of the country’s more remarkable grilled cheese sandwiches.

Melt Bar & Grilled - Cleveland, Ohio area locations
You’ve got to love a place that knows and respects its local specialties. Exhibit A: Melt’s Parmageddon, a sandwich stuffed with two potato and cheese pierogi, Napa vodka kraut, grilled onions and sharp cheddar. Fans of The Big Lebowski will recognize The Dude Abides: homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella cheese sticks, rich marinara and provolone. Devotees of another classic movie might order The Godfather, which includes three-cheese lasagna made with fresh fennel-oregano pasta sheets, spicy red sauce and provolone, plus garlic-spiked bread.
April’s sandwich special is the Corny Beast. Here’s how they describe it: "Our wicked version of the almighty corndog! An ultra jumbo all beef dog char-grilled then stuffed inside the sandwich with double American cheese. Slathered with our special cornbread batter then deep fried. The result is pure carnival goodness!"
As an added bonus, if you get a tattoo of one of Melt’s three logos, you get 25 percent off for life.
Outerlands - San Francisco, California
This is not one of those 101-ways-with-grilled-cheese spots. You won’t find grilled cheeses on their dessert menu, or even at dinner. But at lunch they do offer a glorious grilled cheese made on superthick house-made bread, brushed with garlic oil (smart!) and crisped up in a hot cast-iron skillet. Plus it’s only $5. It’s so good, it has a spot on SF Weekly’s list of San Francisco's 10 Best Sandwiches.
Beecher's Handmade Cheese - Seattle, Washington and New York City
How smart is it to specialize in grilled cheeses at an artisanal cheese shop? At the cafés at both their original store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market and their newer Manhattan outpost, Beecher’s serves a selection of grilled cheeses that vary according to the location.
In Seattle, you’ll find the Dungeness Crab & Flagship sandwich ("flagship" references their signature cheese, a nutty gruyère-cheddar hybrid). New York City has a daily changing Big Deal sandwich - for instance, a Cuban-esque grilled cheese. Soon you’ll be able to take Beecher’s grilled cheeses to other states; they’re opening a kiosk at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle this summer.
Pinewood Café - Houston, Texas
The grilled cheese possibilities are practically limitless at Pinewood Café, right near the Houston Zoo in Hermann Park. The build-your-own grilled cheese bar has 12 kinds of cheese (from fontina to Velveeta), eight breads (including jalapeno cheddar if you want to up the cheese quotient in your sandwich), plus six proteins (bacon!) and 13 veggies, a category that ranges from cool items like pico de gallo and pickles to carrots, which I don’t plan on putting on a grilled cheese any time soon.
Butcher & Bee - Charleston, South Carolina
Their menu changes daily: They post photos of their chalkboard on their Facebook page for fans to preview. Since their October 2011 opening, one of B&B’s periodic specials is the regionally appropriate grilled cheese with pickled okra, candied pecans and pimento cheese. They also spread pimento cheese and honey on their regularly appearing ham and cheese.
Rye - Louisville, Kentucky
Rye owner Michael Trager-Kusman and chef William Tyler Morris met while working at The Breslin in New York City (where they happen to serve one of my all-time favorite melted cheese sammies, the Oven-Baked Three Cheese sandwich). At Rye, look for another monumental grilled cheese, served with a sweet, tangy chile onion marmalade that takes it over the top.
More from Food & Wine:
Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S.
Best Burgers in the U.S.
Best Steak in the U.S.
Best Bars in America
Spring Recipes
More grilled cheese goodness:
Best wines for grilled cheese
A cheesy summer meltdown
Five tips for a not-so traditional grilled cheese
Grilled cheese, please!
Grilled cheese and...grape jelly?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Friday Casserole

My cousin Lianna loves sriracha sauce as much as I do so I thought I would post this recipe. It's a recipe that my Mom gave me which she got from my great-grandmother.  No clue where Mama got it. This is one of my favorite things to eat when I want easy comfort food and sriracha makes it just that much better.

Friday Casserole

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion
1 pkg frozen mixed vegetables (the small one)
box of mac n cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup (COM)
S&P to taste

Saute hamburger and onion. In a large pot prepare the mac 'n cheese according to the directions, add sauted beef and onions, COM, and mixed veggies. Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies are cooked through.

My notes:
I use kraft, use what you like. You can't mess this up. I keep the bottle of sriracha handy and add to my little hearts content.

Culinary Failures

I think it's important to write about failures just as much as successes in the kitchen or anywhere else for that matter.
Last night I attemped to make an alfredo sauce. I grilled two chicken breasts and some mushrooms, cooked my noodles and destroyed the sauce. I have learned an important lesson, sometimes there is such thing as too much cheese.....

I didn't measure my cheese, just threw it in there. Aaaand the sauce broke. Twice. Yes. I made two batches and broke the sauce twice. Oops. I made the error of thinking if a little cheese is good, a lot of cheese is better!

The chicken however was pretty darn tasty. I marinated it for about an hour in salt, pepper, fresh minced garlic, vegetable oil and oregano. I grilled it on my stove top griddle. Once the chicken was done I threw about 8oz of mushrooms on the griddle and cooked those.

Corn and Avocado Salad

This recipe is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. Everyone enjoys this, I end up making it just about everytime we grill in the summer (which is a lot).

Corn Salad with Avocado
2T oil (recipe says corn, I use vegetable)
4-6 ears corn, stripped of kernels (2-3 C)
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 t mild chile powder
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 medium ripe avocado, diced
S&P to taste
juice of 2 limes
1/2 C chopped cilantro leaves

Put oil in large skillet and turn to high heat. When oil is hot toss in the corn. Let it sit for a minute then stir or shake pan to toss the corn. Brown for about 5 minutes then turn off the heat stir in onion, pepper, chile powder, salt, and pepper.
Cool for a few minutes then toss in remaining ingredients. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

My notes:
This recipe is hard to mess up, it's very forgiving. I love cumin, so I always add cumin to this. I prefer to grill the corn and then lightly heat in a pan w/the pepper, onion, chile power, salt, pepper, and cumin. This recipe serves 4, but I just keep adding stuff til I think it's enough for however many people I have. Cutting the corn off the ear can be tricky, my Mom stands the ear up in a bowl and cuts from the top down. Most of the kernels stay in the bowl. This probably goes without saying, but it does not keep well b/c of the avocado.