Archive by Author

Quick & Easy Clutch

23 May

So, my mom bought me a sewing machine a while back and I must say, it makes those rainy days go by quicker! I’m not at all as talented as mom on one, but I always like easy anyway. I found a random placemat chilling in a box one day. Problem was there was only one. I examined it, black textured material, with a black lining in the back. Pretty heavy duty for a placemat. Then I had the idea of a clutch, and started folding it to see how it would look. “Super cute,” popped into my head. And with a few straight threads from the sewing machine and a little satin rosette flower accent, voila. Adorable. And ever since then, I’ve been on the lookout for heavy duty placemats whenever I go where they are sold. Already lined placemat = lined clutch interiorly. Awesome.

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Pork & Poblano Tamale Pie with Cornbread Topping

7 Mar

Every now and then, I get the urge to step up my game in the kitchen.  Don’t hate, I worked evenings for 5 years, so making dinner at lunch time wasn’t as easy as having time to thaw out something and make it in time for work.  Anyway, my sister got me a Bon Appetit subscription one year, so I pulled out one of those guys.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually made anything from them, simply because I find something that sounds amazing, and I fold the page and forget about it.   Also Bon Appetit recipes, at first glance,scared me a bit.  The majority of the recipe titles had words I had never heard of when it came to ingredients and cooking styles.  Radish raida?  Reminds me of Indiana Jones eating a radish.  Waterzooi?  Aquarium.  Fatayer?  Is what I am getting as I eat.  Is it just me?  Well years later of saving all my magazines, it paid off.  I am now dating a great catch, who also has a passion for food.  Anyway, he has introduced me to many things I probably never would have tried if I hadn’t met him.   Here we are indulging at The Publican in Chicago.The Publican

Here are a few of the things we had off the exquisite menu:

Sweetbreads

Blood Sausage

Heard of them on the Food Network, never actually considered trying.  The sweetbreads were to die for.

Back to Bon Appetit.  I dived in to a recipe with a title I could comprehend.

Pork & Poblano Tamale Pie

Digging in!

Filling:

Pie Filling Ingredients

4 large poblano chiles

1 large green bell pepper

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 – 10 oz package frozen corn kernels, thawed

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 lbs boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt

2 cups chopped white onions

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tbsp minced seeded  jalapeño chiles

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 cup low-salt chicken broth

1 cup salsa verde  (tomatillo salsa)

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cornbread Topping:

Topping Ingredients

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal  (preferably whole-grain stone-ground)

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp chili powder

3/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

1 tbsp honey

1 1/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Sour  cream

Prepare Filling:

1. Char poblano chiles and bell pepper over flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides.

Peppers Over Open FIre

Transfer chiles and bell pepper to large  bowl; cover and let steam 10 minutes.

Peppers Resting

Peel, seed, and coarsely chop chiles and  bell pepper.  (This, my friends, was a pain in the ass.  Having never worked with poblanos before, this method of mine actually worked.  I charred, not thinking I had to peel them after.  So, I didn’t char as much as I should have.  Hence, the peeling was a pain in the butt.  I also peeled with my hands.  Then I got frustrated, so I googled it.  So when you guys make this, char the hell out of it.  Blacken on all sides, and when you are ready to peel, take a knife, and use it like a peeler.  So much easier.  If only I had googled before doing my own retard method.  I literally was trying to do it for 20 minutes.  Stupid poblano.  But, it worked.  Moving on.)

Charred Peppers

Peeled Peppers

Seeded Peppers

Diced Peppers

2. Coarsely puree thawed corn kernels in processor.  Cover and refrigerate corn puree until ready to use.

3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large pot over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle pork with coarse salt and pepper.  Add pork to pot and sauté until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer pork to medium bowl.

Pork Cooking

4. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to pot, add chopped onions and sauté until tender.  Add spices, garlic, jalapeño, and oregano.  Stir a minute and return pork and any accumulated juices to pot.  Add chicken broth, scraping up browned bits.  Add salsa verde and bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Add chopped chiles, chopped bell pepper, and half of corn puree to pork mixture.  Cover partially and simmer until pork is very tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Filling

6. Transfer pie filling to 10-inch-diameter 2 1/2-inch-deep ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron).  Stir in cilantro.

Filling
Prepare Cornbread Topping:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Whisk flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and chili powder in large bowl to blend.  Whisk remaining corn  puree, whole milk, melted butter, egg, and honey in medium bowl to blend.

Dry & Wet Topping

 2. Add corn puree mixture to flour mixture and stir just until blended.  Stir in 1/2 cup  grated cheddar cheese.

Cornbread Topping

3. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup cheddar cheese over pie filling in skillet.

Cheese

4. Drop cornbread batter by large spoonfuls on top of pie filling.  Spread cornbread batter evenly to cover pie filling completely.

Added Topping

Added Topping

Bake tamale pie until cornbread topping is deep golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 – 40 minutes.

Done!

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Digging in!

Serve tamale pie with sour cream.

Yum-o!

D-E-L-I-S-H!!!  Bon Appetit, I will be making more of you!  And maybe next time, if I’m feeling frisky, I’ll make your Snert, Etson Mess, or your Salzburger Nockerl.

Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

10 Feb

Well it’s cold out down here, kind of.  And I don’t want to slave in the kitchen for a hearty meal.  Hello crockpot.

Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

Loaded Soup

Ingredients:

5 pounds russet potatoes, 1/2 inch cubes, skin on

1 medium/large yellow onion, diced

10 cloves of garlic, minced

8 cups chicken stock

16 oz softened cream cheese

1 tbsp seasoned salt

Pepper to taste

Garnishes: crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, green onions (optional, but go big or go home)

I halved this recipe since there is only 2 of us, and there were plenty left overs.

1. Add potatoes, onion, garlic, seasoning, & chicken stock to crockpot.

Cooking potatoes

2. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.

3. Add the softened cream cheese.

Cream Cheese

 4. Puree soup with an immersion blender until the cheese is mixed in and about half the soup is blended.

Immersion Blender

5. Stir well.

Taste test:

Initial Spoonful

Pretty tasty.  However…

Garnished Spoonful

Pepper, thick cut bacon, pepper, shredded cheddar, pepper, and green onions.  Much better.

Peppermint Truffles

16 Dec

Peppermint Truffles

So my mom and I were doing some holiday shopping and decided to stop at Starbucks for a refreshment.   Refreshments we got, as well as these guys:

Starbucks Pop

Taste test:

Starbucks Pop

Tasty.  And then I thought to myself, I just spent $3 on 2 of these guys.  That’s cray cray!  And I don’t get it, they are called Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops at Starbucks, but I looked it up, and it’s chocolate cake mix.  No brownie in it at all.  So it’s more of just a cake pop.  I know, I’m just hating.  Anyway, I went to the store and decided to try it my way.

You will need:

Favorite brownie mix (with all the ingredients to make them)

3/4 Package cream cheese

Peppermints

White chocolate

Toothpicks

Brownie Mix & White Chocolate

Make the brownies according to the box and let cool completely.  Then use a food processor to grind it really fine.

Crushed Brownies

Throw in 3/4 of a package of cream cheese and turn on the food processor until mixed.  Start balling up your truffles whatever size tickles your fancy.  Once balled, chill in the freezer for 5 minutes or the fridge for at least 15.  If you stick a toothpick in without cooling, it will probably slide right off.  No fun when dipping time comes.

Balled Up

Grind up the peppermints and set aside.

Crushed Peppermint

Melt your chocolate.  I put about 8 blocks in a bowl and microwave in 30 second increments.  I’ve found that white chocolate is much easier to burn and ruin than milk chocolate.  So take it slow.  30 seconds, stir.  Repeat as needed.  To make it more candy coated-like, add some canola or veggie oil to thin it out.  Stir in a teaspoon and mix well.  Use your spoon and make sure the chocolate drizzles off fast.  No oil means too thick and can be a little too much bite.  Thin makes your chocolate go a lot further, and it has that quick “pop” when you bite into it, if that even makes sense.  Start dipping.  Toothpicks are my favorite tool.  Stab one, dip in, and use a spoon to cover.

Dip

Once dipped, sprinkle immediately with your crushed peppermint.  If you wait too long, the chocolate will harden and the peppermint won’t stick.  I dip 1 or 2 and sprinkle.

Peppermint Truffles

All done!  And more satisfying than Starbucks.  They’re coating was more sugar with a little peppermint.  But kudos for the idea!  Keep in the fridge until serving!  Perfect for the holidays!  Enjoy!

Peppermint Truffles

Creamy Peanut Butter Balls

6 Dec

Creamy Peanut Butter Balls

Enough said ~ Peanut Butter + Chocolate = Heeeeeeeeeaven.
3/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups
Cocoa powder
Preheat to 375 degrees. Combine butter and peanut butter, beat with a mixer until smooth.
Mix in sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat in egg and vanilla.
Beat in flour.
Cut Reese’s peanut butter cups in half.
Place 1/2 of a Reese’s into each ball. Shape dough around the cups until completely covered.
Place about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Once cooled, sprinkle with cocoa powder.
The verdict: Very yummy for all you peanut butter lovers. However, it was a task putting in the peanut butter cups. Luckily, mom was here to help! I recommend a helping hand. Also, I think I will press the ball down some so they’re not as round. But finger-licking good!

Don’t WINE if I Do!

3 Dec

Christmas is right around the corner.  I don’t know about y’all, but December is always a busy month.  Office parties, friendly dinner parties – anything and everything to get together to celebrate the holiday and share it with friends and family.  I never go empty handed to a gathering, and being a bit of a wino I am going to share my favorite wine-related items.  You can’t go wrong with a wine type of gift for a host!  Let’s start, shall we?

1.  Meet the woozie.  Self explanatory, it’s a koozie for your wine.  Perfect for a southern hostess!  And you can get them with all kinds of cute designs.  They range from $6.49 – $7.49 here: http://www.tartburners.com/woozie.html#top

The Woozie

The Woozie

2. My mom actually got this next one for me when she went to a winery in the Outer Banks with some friends.  I love the idea.  Take an empty wine bottle, fill with lamp oil, place wick in, and light.  Simple.  Beautiful.  On sale for $7.99 here:   http://www.winevine-imports.com/afterglow-bottle-wick-grapes?gdftrk=gdfV25114_a_7c1470_a_7c6140_a_7cSKU3550

After Glow

3.  This wine bottle sleeve was a cute gift as well.  I’m Asian so it was a no brainer when my friend saw this one along with a zillion others.  Adorable.  You can find these anywhere.  World Market has a good selection.

Wine Sleeve

4. My uncle gave me this guy.  AWESOME.  Especially with my new found love for a cold glass of Pinot Grigio.  The Corkcicle.  Freeze, insert into wine bottle.  Adios, ice bucket.  Won’t water down your wine!  Estimated price is around $20.

Corkcicle5. Wine themed measuring spoons!  LOVE!  Here is a similar set for $14: http://www.belk.com/AST/Main/Belk_Primary/For_the_Home/Shop/Dining_Entertaining/Giftware/Metal/PRD~7606243ER16733/4+Piece+Wine+and+Grapes+Measuring+Spoon+Set.jsp?cm_mmc=CSE-_-Shopping-_-For_the_Shop>Dining_Entertaining>Giftware>Metal-_-0400659353005

Measuring Spoons

6. One of my good friends brought this to me last Christmas paired with our favorite bottle of wine.  “A wine glass?” you say, but no ordinary wine glass.  This baby holds an entire bottle of wine.  Love the idea, but I’m okay with filling up my glass as need be.  So I found this idea on Pinterest.  Fill with coffee beans, insert a vanilla scented candle, and light.  Your house will smell awesome.

Goblet

7.  Cocktail napkins.  I have received a wide variety and love them all!  Pier One has a good stash.

Cocktail Napkins

8. Can’t go wrong with wine accessories in a nice wooden box.  Elegant and has everything you need to open that bottle with ease.  Here is a similar one for $42.92: http://www.opentip.com/Custom-Orders/Customized-Wine-Accessories-Set-In-Wooden-Box-p-3549346.html

Wine SetDSC00233

9.  What’s a night of wine without some tasty treats?  Cheese is on the menu usually, but cheese spreads?  Yum!  There are so many different kinds, but I had these on hand, so I’m sharing with.  DELISH!

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Cheese

10.  And last but not least, my absolute favorite.  The Chillball.  This little set comes with 6 chillballs and 2 different dipping sizes according to what kind of wine glass you are using.  Simply freeze the whole box, assemble your chillball, hang off the inside of your glass, and enjoy a cold glass of wine for as long as you are sipping.  I love these, and they are a unique gift.  $21.00 here: http://www.opentip.com/Custom-Orders/Chillball-Unique-Wine-Chilling-Branding-Product-Gift-Pack-p-3756522.html

Chill Balls

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Chill Balls

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So these are some of my favorite items I have lying around the kitchen.  They are sure to please as a Christmas or hostess gift.  Pair with your favorite bottle and let the smiles commence.  Enjoy!

Almond & Cherry Shortbread Cookies

30 Nov

Almond & Cherry Shortbread Cookies with Vanilla Drizzle
For the  cookies:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp  vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp  fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped  dried cherries
1/2 cup slivered, toasted, and chopped almonds

For the  icing:

2 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp  water

With a mixer beat butter, sugar, both extracts, cinnamon, and salt until fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Add flour and beat until blended.  Stir in almonds and cherries.

Shape into a log and cover with plastic  wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.

After refrigerating, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut 1/2 inch thick slices and bake about 15 minutes.  Allow to  cool completely.

Mix all icing ingredients. Using a fork, drizzle the cookies with the icing.  Allow to set 1 hour.
Shortbread Cookies
The  verdict:

I found this recipe on the Food Network site and decided to give it a whirl. Nothing in the recipe said anything about shortbread, but they certainly have that texture.  So, I call them shortbread cookies.  And they were a success!  I put dried cherries in half of the batter, and dried cranberries in  the other. The recipe is very versatile, so add your favorite goodies!  Makes  about 20-24 cookies. Enjoy!

Chile Lime Garlic Chicken Fettuccine Goodness

24 Nov

I don’t know how I became one of these people, but I’m kind of a one pot wonder girl.  Instead of making a bunch of different sides to go along with a main dish, I do the all-in-one thing.  Carb + protein + veggie.  Done.  So pasta is always a favorite of mine.  And this is one of my absolute favorite recipes!

You will need:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces or strips

1 packet of McCormick Buffalo Wing Seasoning Mix

2 tbsp olive oil (pictured is butter, but I used olive oil)

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes (I like spice, so use as much as your taste buds want)

1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro

2 tsp lime juice

1 box fettuccine noodles

1 jar favorite fettuccine alfredo sauce

Optional:

Portabello mushrooms

Spinach

Roasted red peppers (I used the jarred ones)

2 package crescent rolls

3 tbsp canola oil

2 tbsp parsley

3 tbsp parmesan cheese

1 tbsp garlic powder

Directions:

1. Add cut up chicken to gallon sized plastic bag and coat with seasoning mix.  Set aside.  Boil your water and make your noodles.

2. Heat olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in skillet.  Add chicken and cook thoroughly.

3. This step is optional, but if you want to add some more goodies, do it now that the chicken is cooked.  I added portabello mushrooms, spinach, and roasted red peppers. Mix in and sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro.  Mmmm…

Mix the yumminess with your noodles.  So that’s the pasta, but with pasta in my house comes bread.  So, I decided to do the braided stuffed thing again (See February post).  Here is the basic run down:

This is my go-to topping for bread.  Canola, parsley, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

PS ~ This recipe is also delicious with shrimp instead of chicken.  If using shrimp, use the butter instead of olive oil when cooking.

Rad Tech Week

14 Nov

I’m only a few days late, but happy National Radiology Technology Week for my fellow comrades!

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On November 8, 1895, Mr. Wilhelm Roentgen took the first ever x-ray of his wife’s hand.

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And if I ever shot one like that today, I’d get fired. And the recipient would probably lose their hand. But any who, every year rad techs around the world celebrate a week with food and imaging gear. This year we were too broke for gear, but I’ll go for food before a femur pen anyway. It was a week of pizza, Moe’s, BBQ, and lots of homemade goodies. And being 2nd shift we tend to get the leftover pickings or nothing at all. So my favorite night was Greek. We have an awesome Greek restaurant across from the hospital. Ah-mazing.

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Thank you head honcho ER doc. Another day was everyone make a dessert, so it was an interesting day of rad techs bouncing off the walls. I made my mom’s classic Congo Squares. Everyone I work with has this recipe and for good reason. So pay attention.

Congo Squares

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spray 9 X 11 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

1 – 1 lb. box light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ sticks margarine or butter, softened
2 ½ Cups self-rising flour
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Pecans or walnuts, chopped, if desired

Mix first three ingredients until well blended. Add flour and mix well. Add chocolate chips and nuts. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

Easy. Quick. Always a good go-to recipe when you want something quick and endless compliments.

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So the week before, I made the classic buffalo chicken dip and pondered, has anyone ever made a BBQ chicken dip. So I googled. And much to my disappointment it has been done. Many times. So, I looked at a bunch or recipes and came up with a mixture of them all.

BBQ Chicken Dip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spray 9 X 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2 – 12 oz cans of Swanson’s chicken
1 – 8 oz block cream cheese (softened)
3/4 cup favorite BBQ sauce
1/3 cup ranch
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese
Green onion (chopped)
Ritz crackers

Mix all ingredients except green onion. Pour into baking dish. Top with green onion. Bake 30 minutes until bubbly. Serve with crackers.

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The verdict? Tasty. However, my guilty pleasure stays with buffalo chicken dip. My tastebuds crave spice. I add cayenne, jalapeños, hot sauce, and crushed red pepper to whatever I can. So the BBQ chicken dip was good, but a little on the sweet side. My
coworkers enjoyed it, especially the ones that don’t care for zesty dishes. If I ever make it again, I’ll choose a spicier BBQ. But a good snack in the end.

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And to close, here is my buddy and mine’s bulletin board for the week. We would be awesome kindergarten teachers. Our boards are epic. And way better than ultrasound’s.

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Hola, Chicago

29 Oct

So a few years back, I helped my best buddy pack up and move to a bigger and better place – Chicago. Her roots. She will always be a southern belle, but she still has that Yankee twang. And we hit the road for 16 hours.

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Icicles!! On a mountain side! I had about 22 pictures on my camera that she took. It just isn’t something we see in the south. And damn did it get chilly. Cold in the south is anything under 50. And here we are, bracing Chicago in January. And after getting lost and being way freaked out in the industrial area of Indianapolis, we made it.

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One reason we are such awesome buds is cause like me, she likes to eat. And she will try anything once. Being half Chinese, dim sum is a treat. Like the Japanese have sushi and Caucasians have brunch, we have dim sum. Dumplings every way possible. Served table side on carts. We just point and say, “Two please.” And in Savannah, we no longer have any Chinese restaurants that have dim sum. So sad. So whenever we hit a big city, Chinatown is a must. And every turn is a place with fresh dim sum. So our first stop in Chicago, Chinatown!

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We were starving. We found the biggest restaurant there. It was 3 stories. And nothing but big tables and about a thousand carts full of awesomeness. And in minutes our table was full of it all.

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And we ventured out. She wanted to try chicken feet. And I am surprised that my dad has never made me try it. I’ve even downed a tiny piece of that 100 year old egg thing. A little vomit just crept up as I reminisce. So, chicken feet. We figured dousing it with hot sauce would make it go down easier. And it kind of did. But really it was like eating steamed fat. The cartilage stayed. I don’t get the whole concept of chicken feet. You are paying for nothing really. It reminds me of sucking the head of a crawfish. Which I don’t do. Gross. But I do eat that little bit of meat in the tail. This doesn’t have that little piece of meat. It is just sucking on literally a foot. Weird.

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Her face says it all. We will stick to the pork dumplings and shrimp dumplings and steamed dumplings and fried dumplings. Yum. So, adios Chinatown. And chicken feet.

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So her brother told us about a bar that isn’t really advertised. There isn’t a sign or anything out front. And it’s lit solely from candles. We were intrigued and found a cab driver who knew where to take us. He dropped us off in Wicker Park at these doorsteps. The Violet Hour. Intriguing name, yes?

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Our senses heightened a bit as we walked through those doors. Darkness. And then through layers of velvet curtains, into a tastefully decorated lounge with a bar. Candles. Everywhere. All along the bar. All along the walls. All on the tables. Cool.

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And the drink menu is definitely for liquor connoisseurs. I had to read the menu ten times before just telling the bartender what I liked and didn’t like. And this is what we got.

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I couldn’t tell you what it was. But It isn’t something I would order again. Yet it was drinkable. The drink menu isn’t your typical selection. Which fits the Violet Hour. Cell phones aren’t allowed either. So this is a good place to go for a first date or just to catch up with an old pal. Nothing is more irritating than sitting and watching someone text the whole night. Touché Violet Hour. Definitely a venturous place to check out if you’re looking for something a little different.

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We stopped at Avec next for a quick, good ole bottle of wine. And who did we see and not meet cause we are too chicken (No feet here)?? Rick Bayless!!!

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And to call it a night, we sat waiting for the train at the station. Sipping a brew and eating our leftover dim sum. Perfect.

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And then we got yelled at by security for sitting in the middle of the floor. Till next time Chicago

Chocolate Covered Katie

The Healthy Dessert Blog

The Pioneer Woman

Plowing through Life in the Country...One Calf Nut at a Time