Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

A couple of weeks ago, I came home from the store with peanut butter, cupcake liners, flour, cocoa powder and Reese's peanut butter cups.

Mr. Foodie asks "what is all that for?"

"Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcakes of course. Duh!"
And would you believe he said "umph, I don't know about that"
So I, of course, had to show him a thing or two.

I even got all fancy on him.  I piped the frosting on the cupcake by cutting the tip off the freezer bag (haven't yet upgraded to a fancy pastry bag) and chopped up the Reese's peanut butter cups to sprinkle on top.
Now all he can say, as he inhaled his second one, is...
"umph, that's a pretty damn good cupcake. I had my doubts but, you were right"

Alas, my three favorite words (after my other three favorite words). Things would be a lot simpler if he just remembered that from the beginning.


Strawberry Mango Sorbet

I know it doesn't look like much in the too big bowl, but that simple scoop of heaven was a perfect way to end a very full but great weekend.
First off, Mr. Foodie and I had our engagement "photo shoot" by the A-maz-ing, Shawna Herring.  I just love her and her work. The pictures are Hot! and fun at the same time.  We had a great time and can't wait to see our upcoming wedding in print.

Next up, my mother and grandmother came in town for a quick visit.  Well, actually it was for my mother's birthday and I wanted to cook her dinner. I suggested she come over to my house. Unfortunately it's not just down the street as I'd love, it's a 4 1/2 hour drive.  But my mom being my mom (and I being the only child) said she would love to.

I served this and this was dessert (per her request).  I really kind of had my own "staplehouse" thing going on with my grandmother, a couple of cousins, my girlfriend and her son all added to the mix.  Things weren't as fluid as "staplehouse" but that's okay when it's just family and friends.  All in all, everything turned out lovely and the food was enjoyed by all. Most importantly, the birthday girl was full and happy.   

Then add a book club meeting (this was our book for the month, an excellent read) and a tennis match (won 6-2, 6-3) to the weekend, and the only way to end it was delving into a nice bowl of sorbet on a not so hot summer evening.
Family gone, house clean and strawberry mango sorbet.  Too bad summer nights are winding down.  Time to savor every last minute.



I am so excited to be able to share my most recent experience with you.  Not only because the fiance' and I were finally granted two of the very limited seats available for the experience but because after following this semi-elusive dinner club for over a year, it was so worth the wait, effort and disappointments of the "Sold Out" dinners of the past.
Ryan (the chef) and Jen (his loving, supportive and equally talented partner) are the amazing husband and wife duo who started hosting bimonthly dinners at their home.  The dinner parties are actually a preview of their soon to open restaurant, Staplehouse.  The dinners are aptly named Prelude to Staplehouse, where Ryan can sample dishes to add to his menu while getting immediate feedback from diners.

Ryan and Jen have this down to a science.  They provide such a welcoming atmosphere, you really feel like you're at your neighbors house for dinner and it'd be no problem to come back the next evening for another meal. Please and Thank You! 

There's a lovely welcoming reception 1/2 hour before dinner is served where we were greeted with a glass or wine or beer.  Everyone is chatting, getting to know one another, getting to learn more about Ryan and Jen and the upcoming Staplehouse.  Then we're ushered into the dinning room where there are six seats at the dinning room table and four at the bar (for those who would like to watch the chef work his magic in the open kitchen).  Jen is the ultimate hostess and server, as she always served the women first.  And Ryan is the passionate chef who described each course with the most descriptive and appetizing words before we literally started to dig in with our "ooohhhhss" and "aaahhhhss", giving repetative compliments to the chef.
(No pics of the food, too busy eating, but check their blog as they have recaps of the dinners, complete with pictures)

Ryan describes the food and ambiance as "casual fine dining".  Sign me up, whatever it is.
The food was spectacular. Starting with then king crab salad (would have never thought crab and apple would be a great combination, but it was) and the A-MAZ-ING burrata (which Ryan described as luscious, which it was) and tomatoes.  I could eat the buratta everyday, all day and not feel guilty about it one bit.  Then there was the clam and chorizo "stew", the duck which was delicious and tender, ending with orange creme or root beer floats. The floats took me right back to childhood just in time to go home and pass out in the fetal position from the fantastic meal.
(The group of lucky diners and our hostesses chef Ryan, bottom left and Jen peeking her little head from behind)

Now I could go on and on about this meal but if you live in the Atlanta area, let me tell you how you could be a lucky guest.

They host approximately 2 dinners a month which are only announced through a posting on their website, usually posted a few days before the dinner. There are only 10 seats available for each dinner and when that post goes up, the dinners sell out very quickly, within 10 minutes or less.  Literally, if you are not on your computer/email/google reader (my way to follow them) when the announcement is made, you can pretty much count on having to wait until the next dinner. 

The process is exciting and nerve racking at the same time.  But like I said earlier, the experience is worth it.  Excellent food, great company, a perfect way the end the weekend

So go to their website here. Sign up, follow along, get in the know! You'll be happy you did


Shrimp & Scallop Truffle Risotto

Valentines Day is too far away.

New Years Eve really isn't that much closer (but my college roommate is getting married then so I'm sure for her it feels closer than I can imagine)

Maybe a birthday. Yours or a loved one.

How about it doesn't really matter anyway.

There was no occasion for me.  Just another Monday evening.

And I for one am glad I didn't wait any longer to make this fantastic dish

This is THE Best dish I have ever made.

I felt so satisfied, yet a little sinful while I was eating it. It's what the fiance' and I call good livin' (GL for short)

I mean, risotto with shrimp and scallops is one thing. Topped on a bed of spinach. But finishing it off with a drizzle of truffle oil just makes this dish decadent.
I had plans to post some other dishes first. Another salad. A coffee cake (oh, don't worry, we'll still get to that)

But after eating this, I knew it would be unfair to not share this with you immediately. I already held on to the recipe for far too long after seeing it over here.

I made a few changes to the recipe, like doubling it because I knew I wanted leftovers, and adding Parmesan cheese.  It's not complicated to make. Just remember to pack a little patience with you. After all, it is risotto


Pasta with Turkey Meatballs Tomatoes and Bocconcini

This is one of those staple meals to add to your repertoire when you might not be feeling all that creative in the kitchen.  At least that was what this meal was for me.
It pretty much has all a girl could ask for in a meal.  Al dente pasta, seasoned juicy turkey meatballs, cherry tomatoes, which soften and break down during the cooking process, and mozzarella cheeeeesssseeee balls.

If you can't tell, the mozzarella cheese balls get me all kind of excited.  I'm a big fan of cheese. And it doesn't have to be the fancy, artisanal cheeses either. I'm good with a little cheddar or Monterrey jack and of course these, right here, which basically knocks it out of the park. It has such a creamy and mild flavor and I just love how it gets all stringy when it starts to melt.  But I will warn you, the cheese does tend to clump together when it cools down (not like a that have ever stopped me from delving in).
And if you've never had the opportunity to indulge in these little bite sized balls, also known as bocconcini, this is the perfect time to acquaint yourself.  I'm sure it'll be a long lasting relationship.
Oh, before you go to the recipe, check out two of my friend's blogs, here and here.  As you will see, they are the fashionistas in my life with a great sense of style.  Right now, both are featuring giveaways from a cute jewelry store in NYC, Wendy Mink.  I am new to the greatness of Wendy Mink but I definitely foresee a few of their pieces in my jewelry box very soon (hint to the fiance')


Shrimp Scampi Pizza

Remember Stouffer's French Bread Pizza?  I say remember like they don't still make them and sell them.  I guess it's just been that long since I've had one.  Although, back in the day, I would get a taste for one every now and then.

Well this is like a grown up, sophisticated version.
Isn't that just mouthwatering.
Let me just say shrimp scampi + ricotta cheese / french bread = goodness in the tummy
It's a quick weeknight meal with minimal preparation. Saute some smashed garlic gloves, add those to the food processor with some parsley, saving a little of that mixture to go with the shrimp and then adding the ricotta cheese and Parmesan, setting aside, then saute the shrimp with more garlic, red pepper flakes and the garlic/parsley combo. Spread the cheese mixture onto the halved french bread, sprinkle with a lil' Parmesan cheese, stick in the broiler for a few minutes and ...Voila'!

I say best served with a glass of white wine


Lobster Rolls...two ways

When it comes to seafood, lobster is the king.  It's the kind of king that requires you to don a bib before enjoying his delicousness to avoid making an unsightly mess.  Yet people seem to do it without hesitation.

Shrimp and crab are my shellfish of choice.  I prefer the kind of shellfish that requires a ton of napkins without having to revert back to infancy.  But that doesn't mean I won't enjoy the succulent meat that comes from a lobster.  I just rather all the hard work be done before it reaches my dinner plate.

Hello lobster rolls!!!

Although this is typically a New England staple, I had my first lobster roll a couple of years ago while Mr. Foodie and I were on vacay in San Francisco.

Oh, how I love San Fran.  The bay, the weather, the culture and the FOOD!! I would live there in a heartbeat and love every single, solitary second of it.  We basically ate our way through that city in four short days.  But the few pounds I would have gained were walked off as we explored the city.

I digress.  Back to lobster rolls.

We ate here and I was quickly smitten with the signature dish.  The creaminess of the lobster salad on a beautifully buttered bun was perfection.  And then last year, I saw this photo on Gourmet magazine, a lighter version of the lobster roll, and knew I had to try this at home.

365 days later, give or take a few days, I finally did.  Since lobsters are decent prices these days and July and August are the peak seasons for lobster, lobster rolls were recently on the menu.
And I decided to fill both desires by making two kinds.  First was the one from Gourmet magazine (above) and then the more traditional kind (below)
Although both versions were very tasty, Mr. Foodie and I both preferred the more traditional one. I don't think my picture does it the best justice but you can't beat the combo of the lobster with mayo and celery.

I'm definitely hooked.  I now need to plan a trip to the New England area to get the real deal. But I may be just fine with another visit to SF.


Market Salad

I have a few minor obsessions.  Don't we all.  Most are related, some aren't, but don't judge. Just hear me out first.

Obsession #1: I'm probably overly obsessed with food blogs, obviously.

Obsession #2: I'm a tad bit OCD which is translated into my obsession for a clean kitchen and me washing dishes...by hand. No dishwasher! And no help from company on this one, except my mother. It even took a while for Mr. Foodie to be granted this privilege.

Obsession #3: I love the grocery store.  I go to approximately 3 different grocery stores on the weekend when shopping for the weeks food.  Yet in still, I end up in a grocery store, at minimum, two extra times during the week.  I go so much I pretty much know the layout of any grocery store and have friends calling me from other states asking where they can find an ingredient they're looking for.

Obsession #4: Unrelated to the previous ones but anyone who knows me would probably say I have an obsession with the Golden Girls reruns that borders on the unhealthy side. I've gotten my daily dose of Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia for the past 10+ yrs. thanks to Lifetime and a somewhat understanding fiance'.

Remember, we're not judging here!

Obsession #5: Undoubtedly one of my most healthy obsessions would be with salads. I try not to order them often when I go out to eat because I'm often disappointed and feel I could have done better at home. But a salad is my preferred choice for lunch Monday-Friday.  We eat so many salads around here I can't believe I haven't shared more of them with you.
You can never go wrong with a simple salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber) but going back to obsession #1, I have found many ways to mix them up and keep them interesting.

This is the current favorite in our household.  This salad is ridiculously good. I mean look at how amazing this is. You're eating half of the suggested colors from the rainbow and it tastes so darn good.

Just add a little of the homemade salad dressing (not pictured) and I think you may have an obsession to add to your list


Just Because

... I love this new pitcher I purchased as a souvenir during a recent trip to Mexico
... I think these flowers are fun and beautiful
... the combination simply brightens the room and my mood, so maybe it'll do the same for you



Tequila Lime Chicken w/ Pico de Gallo

We are knee deep into summertime so that means grilling is in full swing at our house.  Mr. Foodie and I share the responsibility in that I do all the prep (honestly, all the hard work) and he mans the grill, pun intended.

It all works out for me because it is HOT outside by the grill even when we try to wait until early evening to actually put the food on the grill.  He generally doesn't complain either way because when he gets stuff like thisthis or even tequila lime chicken for dinner, his complaints simply vanish.

I found this recipe via the Pioneer Woman.

I hadn't made anything from her in a while but I'm sure you remember what a big fan I am. Her recipes haven't let me down yet.

Initially, I was skeptical of the tequila & chicken combo which is strange since I am always a big fan of the margarita.

Extra tequila please!

I decided to trust my instinct...and P'dub of course and after a couple of hours of marinating the chicken, I am glad my instinct was right on target.  The chicken was so full of flavor unlike anything I could have imagined.  I was very pleasantly surprised. Topped with sliced mozzarella cheese and fresh homemade pico de gallo...I'm just going to go and ahead quote Campbell's soup here...M'm, M'm, Good.
I used my own simple pico de gallo recipe, see below.  Any leftover is great with chips as a snack, to use with huevos rancheros for breakfast or even topping for your tacos.

Tequila Lime Chicken
Printable Recipe

4 limes, juiced
5 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 handfuls cilantro
3/4 cup tequila
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (I cut mine in half making the breast thinner and creating 8 chicken breast)
shredded jack cheese and pico de gallo for topping

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, add the lime juice, garlic cloves, jalapeno pepper, salt, cilantro and tequila.  Pulse a few times until combined.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until combined.

If you cut the chicken breast in half, there is no need to flatten or tenderize the chicken.  If you choose to leave them whole, place the chicken in plastic wrap and flatten using a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken in a plastic, resealable bag and pour the marinade over the chicken.  Let chicken marinate for a minimum of 2 hours up to 24 hours.

When ready to cook, heat the grill or grill pan to medium high heat.  Remove the chicken from the bag and place on the grill.  Cook until completely done, turning over once. When the chicken is almost done, place the cheese on each of the chicken breast to melt.

Serve chicken topped with pico de gallo

adapted from pioneerwoman.com

Pico de Gallo
Printable Recipe

5-6 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
a handful of cilantro, chopped
salt to taste

Combine the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno pepper and cilantro in a bowl.  Stir together so all the ingredients know one another.  Add salt to taste.

Note, pico de gallo doesn't hold up well past 24 hours in the fridge.  It's best to make it in small batches so it can be fresh.  You can always prep your ingredients ahead of time and mix together just before you prepare to serve.


Classic Banana Bundt Cake

I am determined to make this cake for my wedding reception.
We have decided that we don't really want a big, traditional wedding cake.

We'll probably have a simple two tier cake for the obligatory photo-op.  Hopefully, my dear friend at Sweet Tooth Cake Design will do the honor since I've been asking her for two years already :)

My vision is for a homemade dessert table.  My mom's delicious poundcake, my aunt's secret recipe red velvet cake, my matron of honor's mom's peach cobbler.  A couple of other things I would like to make which I haven't quite decided on just yet.  But definitely this Classic Banana Bundt Cake

It may sound a little adventurous for me, the bride, the contribute items to the dessert spread but it is such a simple cake with minimal steps.  The most time consuming part is the baking.  I just need to make sure I have a few very ripe bananas, which I always seem to have around and have learned to freeze for smoothies, banana bread and now this cake.

I have been wanting to make this cake from some time now, wondering if there would be a big difference in taste from banana bread.  There was a distinctly lighter texture and slightly sweeter taste than bread, but one things for sure, it was de-li-cious.

I took half of it to work and it was a hit. And believe me, my co-workers wouldn't hesitate to tell me if it wasn't good.

Classic Banana Bundt Cake
Printable Recipe

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and lightly flour classic bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside

Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer with a large bowl, beat butter until creamy.  Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the bananas.  Finally, add half of the dry ingredients (the batter will curdle, don't be worried).  Add all the sour cream and then the rest of the mixture until blended together.

Scrape the batter into the bundt pan. Rap the pan on the counter to avoid air bubbles in the batter and smooth out the top.  Slide in oven (do not place on a baking sheet for even cooking) and bake for 65-75 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Transfer cake to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pan.  Invert the cake and continue to allow it to cool completely on the rack.  Cover until the next day as the cake will be even better.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. You could put a cream cheese icing or lemon glaze on top but I loved the simplicity of the powdered sugar.

originally adapted from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook via the foodlibrarian



Aside from this being an especially tasty dip, our first experience with elote holds a special meaning to us.  The fiance' and I both had elote for the first time during our New Year's trip to Sedona.
Just in case you forgot, that's where we got engaged.

During our vacation, we ate at this Mexican restaurant that was highly recommended by the locals.  Our tour guide through the famous vortex sites was the first to let us know that if we were looking for a great meal, we needed to head on over to Elote Cafe.  He seemed like a cool guy, had lived in the area for several years, so we decided to go with his suggestion.

When we later arrived at the restaurant, we started to have doubts in our trusted tour guide.  The restaurant's exterior left a lot to be desired.  It sits atop a 70's style motel/inn which made us think twice about the type of meal we were about to experience.

But we felt adventurous...and the prospect of a lovely margarita always seems to do a body good.

This experience was the perfect reminder that looks can be deceiving.  The food was fresh, unique and delicious.  The staff was friendly, providing exceptional service despite the restaurant being packed full of hungry patrons.  We were lucky that we arrived before the dinner rush, giving us a minimal wait time.  The restaurant doesn't seat that many and they don't take reservations but the wait is so worth it.  We even attempted to go back for a second meal before we left.

Although we were unsuccessful in our second attempt, I did manage to purchase a copy of the chef's cookbook, the Elote Cafe Cookbook.

Elote, which the fiance' and I so fondly remembered from our meal there, was the first thing I made from the cookbook.  Elote typically refers to roasted ears of corn with cotija cheese, mayo and chili powder, which is a common street food in Mexico.  The chef has turned this into a tasty dip served with tortilla chips.  He was on target when he decided the fresh roasted corn kernels would pair well with the cheese and mayonnaise in the form of a dip served with tortilla chips.

Can I just say...so good!! And easy to replicate at home.

Move over guacamole, it's time to share the tortilla chips with a new dip in rotation.

Printable Recipe

6 ears of corn, in their husks
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot sauce, preferably Cholula brand
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons cilanto
chili powder, to taste
tortilla chips for serving

Prepare grill by heating to medium-high.  Roast the corn in their husks until the husks are well charred, about 5 minutes.  Make sure to turn the corn occasionally to avoid burning either side.  Set the roasted corn aside until cool enough to handle.  Shuck the corn (remove the husks) and the cut the kernels off the cobs using a sharp knife.

When ready to eat, mix the mayonnaise, hot sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper, sugar and chicken stock in a saute pan over medium heat.  Stir for 4-5 minutes until the mayonnaise is incorporated and sauce is mix through.  Add the corn kernel and stir together to warm through.  Pour into a bowl and mix in half of the cheese.  Garnish with remaining cheese, cilantro and chili powder.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

adapted from Elote Cafe Cookbook


Brown Rice Salad

I have been wanting to share this with you since I first made it for Easter Sunday dinner.
I know, I know. That was two months ago. I'm working on my follow through.
But I promise, it is better to be introduced to this dish a little late than never.

I found this recipe after searching for vegetarian options for one of my friends joining us for dinner. I thought it was really going to be a shame that she couldn't partake in the roasted chicken and herbed crusted lamb chops.  But she hasn't eaten meat or chicken for over ten years and cut seafood out of her diet two years ago, so I guess she didn't feel like she would miss out on anything.

She could have just eaten the side dishes (macaroni & cheese, skillet asparagus, potatoes au gratin, spring salad) but being the budding hostess that I am, I wanted her to have her own "entree". Except it wasn't hers alone for very long.

Once us meat eating folks had a taste of this salad, there was not much left for the to go containers.  Mr. Foodie and I enjoyed our leftover portion for lunch the next day but I ended up making this salad the following week because it was that good.  Slightly sweet from the dried cranberries, a hint of freshness in each bite from the parsley, crunch from the slivered almonds on top of the use of brown rice, makes this a pleasant healthy alternative.  

So if you want to make something for the vegetarians in your life or are looking for a lunch alternative to the typical sandwich, I say give this "salad" a try. It just might convince you to go meatless. 
Well, at least every now and then.

Brown Rice Salad

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 generous teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
1/2 cup raw nuts (I used sliced almonds but feel free to use cashews or peanuts)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 clementine or small orange
extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring until soft and opaque, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic to saucepan and season with coriander and pinch of salt, cooking for 30 more seconds

Add the rice, stirring to coat it all with the butter. Toast for another 30 seconds.  Then add water and cook according to directions on the box

While the rice is cooking, lightly toast the nuts in a small, dry skillet. Toss the nuts often to prevent them from burning or turning too dark.  When the nuts are toasted, remove from the pan and set aside in a small bowl.

When the rice is done, pour rice into a large serving bowl and fluff with a fork.  Add the dried cranberries to the rice. Zest the clementine/orange to the rice while the rice is still warm and then add ta little if the juice from the fruit to the rice mixture.  Drizzle the olive oil over the mixture and continue to fluff with the fork. Season with salt and pepper.

The rice is ready to be served warm or at warm temperature.  Add the nuts and parsley and mix in with the rice just before serving. Garnish with some nuts and parsley.

adapted by sevenspoons


Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro & Lime

This was the last minute addition to our first grilled summer meal.  And it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

I can only describe these grilled shrimp skewers as quick, simple and Oh so tasty.  Just marinate the shrimp in a mixture of cilantro, lime juice, ginger and olive oil (and a few other ingredients, just see below) for 15 minutes, grill for approximately 5 minutes and you're done.

My only complaint was that we didn't have more. I only bought 1/2 pound of shrimp because the focus of the meal was supposed to be the chimuchurri chicken and steak.  These were only going to be a small appetizer, just so I could sample the recipe.

I should have known better.  You really can't go to wrong when shrimp is involved.  This could really be the star of the meal.

Hey, if you're feeling frisky, these could be the meal all by themselves. I won't judge. Just thank me later

Grilled Shrimp w/ Cilantro and Lime
Printable Recipe

1 lime
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon cilantro, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 dried red thai chile pepper, finely minced
1 tablespoon minced shallot
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a small bowl, mix together lime, ginger, cilantro, garlic, chile pepper and shallot.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Then whisk the olive oil into the mixture until all ingredients are combined.

Rinse the shrimp and pat dry.  Add the shrimp to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

While the shrimp are marinating, prepare your wooden skewers by soaking them in warm water.

After 15 minutes, turn the grill to high heat.  Remove the shrimp and slide them onto the skewers through the tail and the head of the shrimp.  Approximately 4-5 shrimp per skewer.  Leave a little room between each shrimp.  Grill the skewers for 2 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and serve with extra limes.

adapted from daily adventures in cooking


Asian Cole Slaw

Cole Slaw is one of those side dishes that I generally tend to pass when its offered.  I will maybe try someone's homemade slaw, but it ends up being 1 or 2 bites before "I'm done".  And I never order it when eating out.  Whenever I hear cole slaw, I immediately begin to envision cabbage in a heavily mayonnaise based sauce, which then becomes watered down, with little flavor or crunch to indicate the freshness of the vegetables.  Something very similar to what I think would be served at KFC.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I am sorry if I offend anyones preference in slaw but these are my tastebuds talking and cole slaw just doesn't excite them.  Although I really do want to like cole slaw.  I like all the ingredients involved plus it is a quintiscential side dish for the summer bbq's and cookouts.

Then I came across this Asian slaw and my tastebuds began to tingle.  Could it finally be?  Had I found a cole slaw that would allow me to fully enjoy the complete summer meal.  It was a cole slaw that looked so fresh and crunchy. Plus there was no mayo in the ingredient list.  Oh, I was sold.

So with our first grilled summer meal, this slaw was promptly added to the menu.  Simply put, it is excellent. It has a similar taste to this noodle salad but with fewer ingredients. It is very simple to prepare and adds a new spin to your traditional cole slaw.  

I bet you can guess what I'm bringing to all the summer cookouts.  

Asian Cole Slaw

1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
1/2 small red cabbage, shredded
1 cup spinach leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots, approximately 4-5 carrots
2 green onions, minced
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
juice from 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

In a large bowl, toss together all the vegetables, green and red cabbage, spinach, carrots and green onions. 

In a separate bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients.  Mix together well.

Toss the dressing with the vegetables until well coated.  Season with black pepper

adapted from ezrapoundcake.com


All about the Chimichurri

It is finally summertime and that means it is time to break out the grill.  Mr. Foodie and I had our first grilled meal of the season this weekend and boy was it good.  Although I did prepare a couple of new things, which I will also share with you, it was all about the chimichurri sauce!

Mr. Foodie and I were first introduced to this spectacular sauce a few years ago when we traveled to Argentina.  This chimichurri sauce is a staple for their grilled meats and was offered at just about every restaurant.  Needless to say, we wanted to enjoy every bit of the culture during our stay and gladly indulged in the authentic cuisine.  And after the first tasting, it was with great pleasure that we ordered it with every subsequent meal.

Upon our return home, we found ourselves craving that green Argentinean "chimichurri" sauce.  But neither of us knew where we could get our fix, let alone what was in it to try and recreate it.  Soon thereafter we made a trip to Miami for my 30th birthday celebration. And low and behold this great little diner offered an Argentinean steak with Chimichurri sauce.  I was immediately taken straight back to Argentina and haven't looked back since.

Determined to add it to my collection, I searched many recipes to come up with this simple and delicious marinade / sauce very reminiscent of the very first time.  Loaded with parsley, a handful of cilantro and oregano, combined with olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic and a few other ingredients (just see below), you now have yourself an authentic Argentinean condiment.

I love it with skirt steak but Mr. Foodie enjoys it with chicken.  I even once tossed some leftover chimichurri with pasta and it was delish.  Now that I've given you a few options, go ahead and get grilling.  You can thank me later :)

Chimichurri Sauce
Printable Recipe

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1/2 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
juice from one lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 cup olive oil

Combine parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic and shallot in the bowl of the food processor or blender.  Pulse a few times until the ingredients are minced and combined but not pureed.  Add the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pulse again.

You will have a fresh, bright green mixture.  When you add the olive oil in the processor or blender, it will begin to emulsify and the mixture will begin to loose it's bright green color.  So you can either put the mixture in another bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Or you can add the olive oil to the processor or blender and pulse once, quickly (I did the latter because I figure I'm going to use most of it for a marinade and it still has a pretty green color)

If using as a marinade, put half of the sauce in a resealable bag with the meat and marinate for at least 2 hours.

If you're only using it for a sauce, well...enjoy

Just a sneak peak of our weekend dinner and what's to come. This is yummy stuff I tell ya'      


Potatoes Au Gratin

I hope you didn't think I forgot about the giveaway.  I know I'm a little late but I am here to deliver a winner.  And another delicious recipe. Potatoes Au Gratin
But first things first.  Let's get down to business and talk winners.  First off, thanks to those of you who left a comment for a chance to win the cookbook.  It was fun to read your responses although they made me quite hungry.  Anyway, using a random number generator at this website, I entered the number of participants and # 3 is the winner.

Anonymous said...
The pie looks yummy Dyan! My favorite southern dish has to be fried catfish and mac n cheese! -Melanie       
Congrats Melanie.  I hope you enjoy the cookbook!!!

Now on to other pressing matters.  More food.

The fiance' had been begging me to make potatoes au gratin for some time.  I had never been a big fan of this dish so I conveniently put off making it giving what I thought was a reasonable excuse. Not having a mandoline to thinly slice the potatoes.  But now I know that this is such a poor excuse since a mandoline is so not needed.  

While Mr. Foodie was recuperating, I decided to grant his wish to help make the recovery process a tad bit better.  When I told him what I was making, he became very excited.  But I couldn't blame him.  After the dish was finished, it became evident why he wanted these potatoes so badly.  There was such a nice brown, cheesy crust on top, it made me not even want to spoon them on to the plate.
I really can't describe to you how happy we both were when I did dig in.  These suckers were great.  Creamy potatoes, very well seasoned plus cheese.  These potatoes were like heaven on earth.  Mr. Foodie couldn't get enough. And on day two...uh, even better.  The flavors had a chance to set in and the cream thickened just a little. Perfection.
Then I made these on Sunday for Easter dinner and got great reviews from our dinner guests so I knew I had to share this with you.  The cooking time is a little long, 1 1/2 hours. But there are only a few simple ingredients, minimal prep and then you put them in the oven to let the magic start. You can't go too far though because every twenty minutes, you need to break the thin crust that starts to form on the top of the potatoes with the back of the spoon. This will help remoisten the top layer of potatoes, preventing them from drying out and burning.  Then last 10 minutes, you want to sprinkle to cheese on top and viola'! The most simple but outrageously delicious Potatoes Au Gratin.

Potatoes Au Gratin
Printable Recipe
* I must warn you that I didn't really follow any exact measurements.  I eyeballed everything. I've included approximations in the recipe but just feel your way through this and you will feel comfortable making this dish anytime

Butter to grease the baking dish
5 garlic cloves, 1 cracked and 4 minced 
4 white potatoes
2 russet potatoes
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease bottom of baking dish with butter.  Take 1 cracked garlic clove and rub the inside of the baking dish. Set aside

Peel and thinly slice the potatoes.  Approximately 1/8" thick but you want them to be uniform.  Put the potatoes in a bowl and season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Using your hands, toss the potatoes to evenly coat and season all the potatoes. Set aside

In a separate bowl, mix together the heavy cream, milk and four minced garlic cloves.

Assemble by layering 1/3 of potatoes in the prepped baking dish. Pour 1/3 of milk mixture onto the potatoes.  Repeat process 2 more times, ending with the cream mixture.  Make sure to press down on the top layer to ensure everything is even and the potatoes are covered by the milk mixture.

Place dish on baking sheet (for easy clean up if the dish starts to bubble over) and place in oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Every 20 minutes, open the oven and using the back of a wooden spoon, break the crust forming from the cream atop the potatoes. The sauce should appear to get thicker each time as it is absorbing into the potatoes.  During the last 10 minutes, sprinkle the top evenly with the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.  Continue cooking until cheese has melted and is bubbly.

Remove from oven and let cool before serving. Dig in and Enjoy!!

adapted from whiteonricecouple.com where the also have a great picture tutorial on the cooking process.


Buttermilk Pie

Boy has this post been a long time coming.  I have missed my little blog over the past couple of months.

I guess you can say I've been living in bliss from the little event known as my engagement, by putting a few things on the back burner.  Yet, my 9-5 job has been very hectic since the beginning of the year that it hardly resembles a 9-5 anymore.  Plus the Fiance' (that's Mr. Foodie's new name around our house these days so stay with me as they will be used interchangeably) tore his Achilles tendon at the first of the year.  This left him unable to walk and unable to do anything around the house. Therefore, I have had to take care of Everything.  My duties as his fiance' kicked in immediately. Although he wasn't the most demanding patient, it has been a long 2 1/2 months and I am happy he has recovered.

My absence even caused me to miss my one year blogiversary last week. This is where I was supposed to make something special to share with you and thank you all for following, reading and commenting on the blog.  All these sentiments stand true, albeit a week late, I really have enjoyed sharing recipes and stories with you.  So to start making up for lost time, I am giving away a copy of this new cookbook, the Southern Farmer's Market Cookbook, that I just purchased for myself and am anxious to use. I am eager to see how it combines two great loves of mine, southern cuisine and farmer's markets. Just leave a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m Friday evening, telling me your favorite Southern dish.  I will pick a winner using a random number generator and send you your very own copy.

I have so many favorite southern dishes, it's hard to choose just one.  But this buttermilk pie is a new found favorite that I have made 3 times in the past 4 months.  If you like a custard type pie or dessert, this pie needs to enter your life immediately.  It is extremely simple to make, especially since I use store bought pie crust. I'm not ashamed, tastes just as good.  The pie does require a lot of sugar but most of the sweetness is cut by the addition of lemon zest.
The opportunity to use this very cute pie plate I got from here was another reason to make this pie so many times
So below is the recipe to try this southern indulgence. But don't forget to comment to be entered into the giveaway.  And again, thank you for reading along.

Buttermilk Pie 
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 stick of butter, melted and cooled down
1 10-inch unbaked pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
If using the rolled pie dough found in the refrigerator section of your grocery store, roll out the dough into the pie dish. If using a frozen pie shell, bring to room temperature.
In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour and lemon zest.  One at a time, whisk in the eggs until combined.  The mixture will become bright yellow.  Add the buttermilk and melted butter and mix together.  Pour the  mixture into the pie shell and bake until the top is slightly browned and the center sets, about 40 minutes. The pie should not be too jiggly although it will not be completely set in the middle.  Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.  Slice the pie, top with whipped cream, or not and enjoy.

adapted from foodnetwork.com


Caramel Corn

Wowsers!!! I think that is the best way to describe 2010 so far.  I guess if I really think about it, I could come up with a more sophisticated word. A real word that doesn't indicate the need for spell check as I type it.  But since I'm really just unable to contain my excitement, I think I picked the most appropriate word.  Even though tasting this surprisingly simple, homemade Carmel corn could elicit such excitement, it is not the cause of my current high.

2010 started with the best surprise a girl (well at least this girl) could ask for.  Mr. Foodie and I were on vacation, at a New Year's Eve party, when three seconds before midnight, he popped the question!!! YAY!!!

I'm officially going to be Mrs. Foodie.  I have been grinning from ear to ear for the past five days. Not to mention glancing at my left hand every chance I get.

I'm trying not to be too obvious.
I wonder if it's working.
Oh who cares!
I'm just going to enjoy being engaged...and having a fiance'

So moving on, one more Carmel corn teaser pic. I say teaser because I have something else to share before we get to the recipe.

Remember the Pioneer Woman? I wrote about going to her book signing a few weeks ago and shared a recipe from her new cookbook.  Well guess what lovely couple made a surprising appearance on her blog.

Yep, that ca-ute picture from her website would be that of the future Mr. and Mrs. Foodie!! How crazy is that. I made the Pioneer Woman's website.  I kinda feel like a rock star. Well at least in the food blog world.

If you recall, the Pioneer Woman's sister, Betsy, was there and snapped this photo of us as we were leaving.  I remember thinking how I wish she, or someone, had taken one with our camera, since Mr. Foodie was so supportive to wait with me all that time and double as my personal photographer. But it was late and I didn't want to push my luck.

Lucky for me, she decided to pick us as one of the couples she featured in her "Memories of Atlanta" post. Now I've saved the picture to my computer to print. This literally made my day when I found this. I tell you 2010 is off to a great start. 

Okay, now finally, the Carmel corn.  I absolutely love Carmel popcorn.  As a kid, my mom and I would devour Laura Scudder's tub of Carmel corn.  Does anyone remember that? Anyone? I wish they still made it because it was the best.  Better than Cracker Jack's, although I could never turn down a box of Cracker Jack's.

When I saw this recipe here I knew I was going to make this immediately.  I actually made it before Christmas and took some to my mommy's house.  Can I tell you that my family members devoured this! Literally munched on it and raved about it until it was all gone.  What's even better is how simple this is to make

Since I followed the recipe exactly (except I left out the peanuts) I am just going to include a link to it if you decide to make it, which I strongly encouarge.  Trust me when I say it is easy as pie and simply delicious.  Maybe not the best recipe to go with all those likely New Year's resolutions but you gotta treat yourself every now and then.