Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bye Felicia!

Hey there fine folks of the Internet! I am taking a break from this informational super highway to focus on some projects at home. It will be a welcome vacation for sure! I look forward to catching you up when I am back!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chicken Cordon Blue Casserole

 I love a good casserole.

They are easy to prepare, can be frozen for future meals and most importantly they are always satisfying, comfort food. I can honestly say that most of the meals I make now are some sort of spin of a casserole. I am always on the go working so a good meal in the refrigerator is usually on hand. The most recent casserole winner is definitely this version of my childhood favorite: Chicken Cordon Blue.

  • 1 whole Cooked Chicken, Meat Diced Or Shredded (Should Be 5-6 Cups of Chicken)
  • ½ pounds Very Thinly Sliced Deli-style Honey Ham, Chopped
  • ¼ pounds Thin Sliced Baby Swiss Cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons Flour
  • 3-¼ cups Milk (I Used Whole Milk)
  • 1/2 cup White Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1-½ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Smoked Paprika
  • ¼ teaspoons Pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1-½ cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • ¾ teaspoons Seasoning Salt
 Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside
For the sauce:
  • Melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. When butter is melted, quickly stir in the flour to form a smooth roux. Do not brown! Once the roux is smooth and bubbly, slowly pour in the cold milk while stirring briskly to make a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, wine, salt, smoked paprika and pepper. Bring sauce just back to a low boil and turn off heat. Pour sauce evenly over the casserole, being certain to get some of the sauce around the edges of the pan.

For the topping:

  • Melt the butter in the microwave in a medium sized microwaveable bowl. Heat it for 30 seconds at a time and stop once it’s melted. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir in the panko bread crumbs, seasoning salt and crushed dried parsley. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Bake casserole uncovered for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly throughout and topping has turned a light golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes prior to serving.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Rubio's - Oxnard, CA

 Hey have you ever been to Rubio's? I had not ever been and while my Mom and I were running errands in Oxnard, we decided it was worth a try. It is that in between restaurant that is a step up from typical fast food and just under your common dine in restaurant. Think Baja Fresh type menu, order at the counter and take a number.
I knew right off the bat I wanted to try the Crispy Fish Tacos. The best version I have ever had are the Snapper Jack's version. These unfortunately did not surpass the quality of Snapper Jack's due to the quality of the fish. It was fried nicely but the actual white meat was not as big and flaky.                                         

Kathy ordered the Shrimp Taco and she said it was totally tasty. She also tried the chicken version and it failed to impress after consuming the shrimp. 

I liked that the restaurant was totally clean, had a salsa bar and prices were totally reasonable. For two people to get a lunch for under $20 these days is pretty amazing. I would return.

           After our errand running, we went back to my house to work on our Beef Jerky production. We went to the butcher inside our local grocery to slice a London Broil steak into 3/8 in slabs. It made less work for us as we sliced the meat into strips.

 After a quick soak in soy sauce we laid out the strips on oven racks. We then seasoned up the batches, experimenting half way to see which would come out the best. My version which included garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and a generic Barbeque seasoning seemed to really do the trick. What I learned from this experience is over season the meat, to the point you really thought you over did it.

 With your oven set a 170 degrees, place the jerky racks in and set your timer of 6 hours (all depending on the size and width of the jerky). I placed a spoon in the oven door, to keep the air flow going during the cooking process.

My brother taught me this recipe and I think he just may be the master. Although my version was good, it was not great like his. He should package, label and put his jerky in stores!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My blog is on vacation!

Scott took the computer and Internet chip to Texas with him so my regular blogging schedule will be on hold until he returns! Aye yi yi...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A day in the life...

A day in the life of Melissa Good Taste has been full steam ahead with short bursts of horses, work, researching American War history (my new favorite subject since watching American Sniper) and squeezing in family and friend time. This is what I have been up to lately...

I was fortunate enough to be able to make it to my girlfriend, Nichole's Birthday celebration last week at the Old Creek Winery in Ojai. Our usual group, plus a few new gals joined in for the fun and it was a blast getting caught up on all the details in everyone's lives.

We made it a kind of potluck setting, with each of us contributing a little something to the group. I of course made the Broccoli Salad. I love my version so much mostly because it contains mayonnaise, bacon, cheese and sunflower seeds. It really should not even called a salad with all those fun ingredients!

I mostly love this location because of the tree I shot in this photo. I hope it stands there forever. 

 Back at the ranch...
 Meanwhile at the ranch, Scott and I have been preparing the horses for a quick show this Friday in Paso Robles. We will bring a full load for Cowboy Ron, Scott and I to show. We just recently got magnets for the doors of our big truck proudly wearing the colors of Performance Equine, a company we are endorsing for our equine supplement needs. Scott will be packing the rig up again this Sunday and headed to Texas to the Bonanza NCHA Cutting in Glen Rose, Texas.

If not on a horse, Scott has been on a tractor - discing, planting and covering up seed. He has dreams of our pastures knee deep in green grass for our horses and cattle to enjoy. I give him a lot of props because it has been a time consuming task.

Last night I had the opportunity to try something I had never done before, I made Blackened Ahi. The Ahi Tuna was screaming at me from the seafood counter and I decided to give it a try. I usually am not a "blackened" anything fan, because my past experience with it always left me with just a "burnt" taste in my mouth. I decided to roll the dice and created my own blackening seasoning with a combination of paprika, garlic salt, onion powder, cayenne and sugar. I pressed the mixture into the flesh until it coated the filet completely. With a thin layer of oil in a pan, I quickly seared the fish, maybe a minute if that. It doesn't require much. I was amazed at the ease and most importantly the taste! It was perfect. This will be a go to option for warm summer nights when you dread any heat from the kitchen. 

I hope all of you out there are doing well and just as busy as I am. Days roll into weeks, and weeks rolled into a month that just blew by without the blink of an eye. Hello February!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Danny's Deli - Ventura, CA

I have driven past Danny's Deli probably a thousand times without ever giving it a chance. I am foolish for never stopping because the parking lot is always packed. That has to count for something! Anyway, on Friday I stopped in for an early lunch after I had my first ever MRI. MRI?! Melissa good Taste is getting old. I was sat at a large booth and was greeted by a very large jar of pickles.

The first thing I saw upon opening the menu was a Monte Cristo. That was an easy sell, I remember I fell in love with the Monte Cristo sandwich while dining at the Blue Lagoon in Disneyland over twenty years ago. Piping hot fries and side of ranch dressing came with the glorious sandwich for me to enjoy.

I liked this version a lot. The outside is crunchier than most versions I have had. It does require a sharp knife to work your way through the crunchy shell and massive body. The layers of ham and turkey are totally pronounced but could possibly supply an extra serving of cheese, as I did not notice it all. 

Danny's deli based on my first experience was great. With an addition of a soda, I escaped with a $13 bill and still had tons of food left on the plate that I absolutely could not even finish. I look forward to returning to sample some of their "deli" fare such as lox and whitefish. It all sounded great.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

NoSo Vita - Ojai, CA

A new place opened up in Ojai and it has gotten the attention of the local foodies in town. Located across the street from Wells Fargo Bank, it makes for a nice stop while running errands in town. I met Christian and Dana there to give it a try for myself.

Portions are small and options on what to order are very limited as changes to any menu item are not allowed. To share with the table we ordered the Chicken Picatta Shooters. My couple bites consumed the entire "shooter" and it was  truly delightful.

Christian ordered a salad. There was nothing wrong with it, but I have to admit it looked quite boring.

Dana ordered a Panini, she always orders paninis. She liked it but wished it was bigger, I don't blame her. A sandwich should most definitely be filling for one's meal.

Speaking of light orders, this was my lunch! At the time of order I thought I would be perfectly content but I was wrong. I left hungry too.

Was it a case of ordering wrong or is this just the type of food that is meant to be enjoyed by one who is an extremely light eater? Whatever the case,everything was properly prepared and totally fresh.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ranch House - Ojai, CA

"Where has Melissa Good Taste been? She hasn't been posting much..."

I am have been spending most of my time at the new Ojai Ranch House. The restaurant has a long history in the Ojai Valley and I have been thrilled to be teamed up with such an incredible staff. Take a look at a few shots of the updated restaurant. The evening is the most magical time at the restaurant, it is like a magical garden. The lighting and lush garden setting makes for a truly romantic evening.

The Ranch House has been a favorite of visiting celebrities. A Paul Newman quote praising its cuisine still appears on the website nearly six years after the actor’s death. Chef Cat Cora featured the restaurant’s grilled diver scallops with bok choy and curried corn sauce on the Food Network show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

The chef at the Ranch House is Sean Kingsbury, young and totally entergetic. He creates seasonal menus that focus on what is in season and pairs side dishes that will compliment them nicely. He has kept old favorites like the Ranch House Chicken Liver Pate and Mushroom Strudel on the menu because not only are they fabulous but they have been proved customer favorites.

The Ranch House is committed to providing the best experience possible to their customers. The beautiful setting, quality food and friendly service will make for an experience of a lifetime. I am proud to be involved in such a legendary establishment.