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Category Archives: Foodie Friday

Foodie Friday: Warm Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Spinach Salad

Photo Courtesy Deliciously Ella

Photo Courtesy Deliciously Ella

In an effort to eat more seasonally, we’ve been eating a lot of heavier soups and stews and things. All of the delicious winter squashes and sweet potatoes are fantastic and so good for us, but sometimes I just really crave a great salad.

When I saw this salad on Deliciously Ella, I thought it might fit the bill. The very fact that I can consider making something full of mushrooms like this goes to show how amazing and adventurous Josh is. After a lifetime of hating mushrooms, he’s slowly started trying them more and more over the last few months. Now he’ll happily eat a soup full of mushrooms or a portabella mushroom sandwich. SO awesome.

This salad is one of those dishes that winds up being far more delicious than you could possibly believe it could be. I took my first bite and I’m sure my eyes got huge. It was just so good, full of textures and flavor. I inhaled my portion and licked the plate. No lie.

We liked it so much that it’s also going on our meal plan for this week as well. When a dish makes the cut two weeks in a row, you know it’s good. The fact that it’s also great for us is an added bonus. Remember, especially when you’re using such simple ingredients in such a simple way, quality will make all the difference in the world.

Warm Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Spinach Salad (recipe copied from here)

  • 1 large sweet potato
  •  a dozen mushrooms (we used shiitake)
  •  2 bowls of spinach (we actually used tatsoi, an asian green, from a local farm, but spinach would be great)
  •  2 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and diced
  •  a dozen cherry tomatoes
  •  4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (we love Bragg’s raw unfiltered)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  •  1 tsp smoked paprika
  •  salt
  •  olive oil

Cut the sweet potatoes into small cubes and place them on a baking tray. Toss with olive oil, salt, paprika and cinnamon.  Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375, until soft.

While these cook slice the mushrooms into pieces and gently stir fry them with olive oil, salt, apple cider vinegar and the chopped jalapeño pepper. This should take about 7 minutes. Add your spinach and toss around for 2-3 minutes until wilted.

Quarter the cherry tomatoes

I simply assembled ours in layers, and dug in.

Foodie Friday: Gluten Free Cornbread

In our group of friends here we have a lot of people with food allergies. Gluten, dairy, nuts… the list goes on and on.

We had a chili cook off recently and one of the gluten free girls mentioned how much she missed cornbread. I knew that there had to be a quick and easy (and cheap) way to make it for her, so I told her I’d take care of it.

I spent a good bit of time online looking at various recipes. Some called for up to 4 or 5 specialty flours that there was no way I was going to buy for one dish. Seriously. Cornbread should be cheap. I was raised on Jiffy cornbread in the blue box, which is a staple for most poor large families.

I finally found a few recipes that were simple enough, and after combining and tweaking them, came up with this one. Luckily, since I was making it for a crowd without tasting it first, it turned out great.

Gluten Free Cornbread

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used rice milk.)
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 cups fine or medium cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp molasses (or you can just do 2 tbsp extra honey)
  • 11-oz can corn, drained
  • 2 tbsp coconut or canola/veg oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
Preheat your oven to 420.
Combine the vinegar with the milk, and set aside. Combine dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, applesauce, corn (you can smash it a little if you want), and milk-vinegar. Then pour the wet into dry and mix until just mixed. It will look really weird and foamy and you’ll probably think you did something wrong. Pour into a greased 8×8 dish and cook for about 25 minutes. Let cool.

Foodie Friday: Chickpea Salad With Capers and Roasted Red Peppers

Like I mentioned earlier this week, Josh and I have fallen in love with cooking our own chickpeas and using them as a base for our lunches. When I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen I knew it’d be perfect for us to make. I made a few adjustments (mainly leaving out all of the parsley. Bleh) and think the results turned out to be pretty fantastic!

Another great thing about this recipe is how long it lasts. I made ours on Sunday, and my leftovers today will be every bit as good, if not better, than it was when I first made it.

Obviously you can make this with canned chickpeas and buy pre-roasted red peppers, but making it from scratch will result in a tastier and less expensive final product. If you’re going to use canned chickpeas, I’d say use 3-4 cans.

Also, I wound up doing a quick roasting of the garlic cloves in a dry skillet before mixing into the dressing (skin on, over medium heat, until the skin on all sides turns golden brown). Josh doesn’t love to eat a lot of raw garlic at work.

Chickpea Salad With Capers and Roasted Red Peppers (original)

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • 2 large bell peppers, roasted, skinned, and chopped (how to here)
  • 4 tbsp capers, drained, rinsed, and chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more to taste after mixing)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Combine the chickpeas and chopped bell peppers in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, mix together all the remaining ingredients. Pour over chickpea mixture and toss well. Taste and season accordingly. Try not to eat the whole bowl while adjusting.

Quick Tip: Slow Cooker Chickpeas

Chickpeas (garbonzo beans) have become one of our favorite lunchtime ingredients. They add protein and heft to salads and are easy to find. I was trying for a while to keep a can or two on hand at all times, just so I could throw them into various dishes that needed a little something more, but we kept coming across a few problems.

For one thing, not all canned chickpeas are created equal. While Whole Foods has, in my opinion, the best and creamiest canned version, other brands are often mealy or almost crunchy and gritty. Not exactly a pleasure to eat.

The second problem was cost. While one can isn’t too bad, I’d have to buy at least four cans, probably more, in order to make a substantial base for our lunches. Once you start adding all of the fun ingredients on top of that, our little money saving lunches aren’t saving us quite so much money anymore.

I kept seeing things about how superior and incredibly easy cooking dried chickpeas was, so one day I decided to give it a go. I looked around to find the best and easiest version (Alton Brown, for the win!) and bought some dried chickpeas.

The results blew Josh and I away! We seriously had no idea that chickpeas could be so good. I’ll happily eat these by the spoonful with just a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, which I never in a million years would do with even the best canned version. Plus, they are CHEAP. As in, $1.49/pound for organic cheap. One pound of dried gets me the equivalent of 3-4 cans of chickpeas. Um, yes, we have a winner.

If I had more freezer space I’d portion them out into two cup servings and freeze the cooked beans, since they reheat perfectly. Then you still have most of the convenience of the canned ones.

The “recipe” could not be any easier.

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
  • 7 cups water (though I never actually measure it out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Simply combine all the ingredients in your crockpot and cook on high for about 4 hours. I tend to start tasting around the three and a half hour mark so that I can control how soft they become. I like them to still be a little firm for cold salads, but I’ll let them cook longer for something like hummus.

Great chickpea salad recipe to come on Friday!

Foodie Friday: Cozy Weekend

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We’ve had an incredible fall so far, full of sunshine and mild weather. People have been flying in hot air balloons (Seriously. Right over our house), and the mums are starting to bloom.

While today’s high here in Middle TN is a lovely 80 degrees, the same can’t be said for the rest of the weekend. A cold front moves in tonight, and we’re expecting some cold and drizzly weather for the next few days.

Since this is the first cold and gross weekend this year, I decided to just embrace it. I made a short of list of cozy foods to make, and I’ll be puttering around my kitchen all day. Sounds pretty heavenly, now that I think about it.

On the list for this weekend:

  1. Split pea soup- One of our favorites, though it certainly won’t win any awards for most attractive. It’s delicious, hearty, and cheap. Perfect.
  2. Stewed collards with chorizo and garlic- This is a new recipe that I’m really excited to try! Our market is full of greens, and I found out that Josh has never had collard greens. The Southern girl in me is shocked and appalled. Obviously that needs to change immediately.
  3. Bone broth- I love having homemade broth on hand. I make big batches, portion them out, and freeze them. I ordered 4 lbs of bones from a local farm (2 lbs chicken bones, 2 lbs beef bones), and I think I’m going to start with chicken. This will literally simmer away unattended for days, and make my house smell incredible. My friend Lindsay wrote a great post about why it’s worth it to make your own, plus some great tips.

So that’s most of my weekend. Anyone else have big plans?

Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

In keeping with the fall theme that we apparently have going on this week, here’s a great recipe for a pumpkin spice coffee creamer that I’ve been loving! Coffee creamer is one of the dairy items that I refuse to give up, but I feel a lot better knowing that I’ve made my own out of quality ingredients. Plus, this way I can make it as creamy/sweet as I’d like!

I was out of pumpkin pie spice, hence the assortment of spice bottles in the photo above. I mixed together a quick batch of spice on my own, and now I’m set for a while. This is a very good thing, since I have a feeling I’ll be making a lot of this coffee creamer.

Also, the recipe calls for a mix of whole milk and heavy cream. I just used half and half instead, but I’m thinking that this week I’m going to try it with just heavy cream. That way I won’t need to use as much on a daily basis, so one batch should last me longer.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer (recipe from here)

  • 1 c of organic whole milk
  • 1 c of organic heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons of organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
  • 4 table Maple Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Whisk milk, cream, pumpkin, syrup, and pumpkin spice together over medium heat. When it gets steamy remove from heat and add in the vanilla. Use a strainer (very important!) to transfer the cream into a jar or pitcher. I used a few small mason jars, because I’m Southern and I always have plenty of those. Try not to drink a spoonful. Let it cool down and stick it the refrigerator.

Hooray for pumpkins!

Foodie Friday: Grandmommy’s Sweet Dill Pickles

We all have certain flavors that trigger memories from our childhood. One of my most vivid is dill, which reminds me of the pickles my grandmother always seemed to have in her fridge all summer. She never canned them, but kept them in a big jar that she’d replenish whenever she ran out. Considering what a greedy little pig I was, I’m sure I helped make that a regular event.

While these are best with homegrown cucumbers, store-bought can be used instead. Just make sure that they’re small and thin-skinned.

We lost my sweet Grandmommy in June very unexpectedly, so I think I’ll make some pickles this weekend in her honor to celebrate the end of summer.

Dilly Onion Cuke

  • 1 large onion – sliced
  • 1 cucumber -sliced

Liquid:

  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • ½ c. white vinegar
  • ¼ c water

 

Combine liquid stirring until sugar dissolves and add the sliced vegetables

Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours

Stir occasionally

Grandmommy’s note on the recipe: I usually double the liquid and veggies. When the pickles are gone, I put a second batch in the same leftover liquid. It is too bland to use a third time .

Any other family recipes out there?

Cochon Heritage Festival

Alternate Title: Best Weekend of my Life

This past weekend was the first annual Cochon Heritage BBQ Festival & National Bourbon Month kickoff in Memphis.

A three day festival bringing nationally recognized chefs to come together to learn, eat, and compete focusing on the heritage pig and some awesome bourbon.

There was a Cochon weekend competition earlier in the year in Memphis, but Bryan and I missed it as we were out of town. I heard it was incredible and when they announced this event I knew I would not miss it for the world.

We purchased tickets to two events. Even though they were normally out of our budget, I knew it was something worth saving for.

Friday night was the kick off event on the rooftop of the Peabody. For $50 a person it was all you can eat appetizer portions from 8 different restaurants and all you can drink specialty cocktails mixed by the best local bartenders featuring bourbon. The weather was amazingly cooperative giving Isaac was in the area. It was a beautiful night on the rooftop overlooking the Mississippi River.

And the cocktails! Amazing. Allyn and I have been planning a spring bourbon country tour and this whole event really made Bryan and I super excited for the spring. I can’t even describe some of the cocktails as they are totally out of our beer-loving realm.

Saturday morning Bryan took a group on a 5.55k run around the neighborhood before the bloody mary/oytster/bacon brunch. Attendees could also do a BBQ tour of Memphis and had some seminars set up. That evening a few of the chefs collaborated on a “pop up” dinner. We didn’t go, but heard it was amazing.

The second event that we attended was Sunday afternoon and was the culmination of the whole weekends activities. Eight chef driven teams competed against one another. They had to cook 4 pork dishes with separate requirements and 2 side dishes (one mayo based and one mustard based). We started off the afternoon at a local restaurant across the street from the main venue. We had more bourbon cocktails: Bourbon with bacon bitters and bourbon, orange bitters, and Proseco topped off with a bourbon cherry. We also enjoyed fresh oysters and a build your own BLT bar with three different types of bacon. Le sigh…

After about an hour of mingling and bourbon drinking it was time to go over and do some tasting. Attendees can sample everything at every one of the teams tables. Below is just some of the stuff available at one of the team’s tables.

There was a lot of food to try. I don’t think we even hit up half of the teams it was so much food.

In conclusion, I will be singing the praises of this event for at least the next six months and then I will be switching to gearing up for the next years event.

For more information visit the Heritage BBQ site.

Foodie Friday: Maple Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

When I was growing up, the child of hippies, we had many dinners that were entirely composed of vegetables. We ate meat often, but I still love to curl up with a big bowl of sliced tomatoes and avocados with dressing, just like I did when I was young. Weird, I know.

Josh did not grow up like this, so when I first mentioned that we were going to start eating less meat and more vegetables, he was understandably concerned.

I consider the fact that we nearly fought over the last serving of this bowl of roasted veggies to be a sign that a) I have an awesome and very open minded husband, and b) it was insanely good. Like, so good it will be on at least a monthly rotation.

Brussel sprouts have become one of my favorite vegetables in recent years, and this summer we discovered the beauty of  broccolini (aka broccoli rabe or rapini). They both have a certain bitter flavor, so tossing them with maple syrup and balsamic before roasting is perfect.

We chose to eat this as a main course and polished it off. It would also make an excellent side dish, and might possibly show up on my Christmas table.

Maple Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts (recipe copied from here)

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 3 or so handfuls of arugula
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Trim the brussels sprouts and cut in half. Cut the broccolini into bite sized pieces.

Put the brussels sprouts on one baking sheet and the broccolini on another. Drizzle with the olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss them around and make sure they’re well coated.

Place brussels sprouts in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes (they take longer to cook than the broccolini). Toss the sprouts occasionally.

At the 25 minute mark, put the broccolini in the oven as well. Continue roasting both for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. You really want some good color on them.

When they’re thoroughly roasted, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

Once they’re no longer sizzling, toss with the arugula and cranberries, and taste. You can add a little more maple/balsamic/oil or whatever you like at this point.

Serve, and fight for seconds.

Foodie Friday: Monkey Bread

I actually had to convince a little girl that this had nothing to do with actual monkeys. It was not monkey brains or monkey guts, like she was being told by all of the evil men (her father included) around her. Oh well. It certainly disappeared fast enough, monkey association or not.

Josh loves this so much that he requested it for our very first Christmas morning together. I’ve also made it many times to take to work potlucks and the like. Cheap, easy, and delicious.

Monkey Bread
•3 cans buttermilk biscuits (the non-flaky ones)
•1 cup sugar
•2-3 tsp cinnamon
•2 sticks butter
•½ cup brown sugar
•Chopped pecans

Note: I often assemble everything except for the butter and brown sugar drizzle the night before, then throw it in the oven the next morning while I’m showering/ whimpering that I’m awake so early.

Grab a giant Ziploc bag and throw in the sugar and cinnamon. Cut each biscuit into four pieces (I use kitchen shears) and drop in the bag as well. Seal the bag and shake it all up, getting the pieces well coated in goodness. Grab a bundt pan and put pecans in the bottom. Scatter the biscuit pieces in the pan.(This is the point I tend to cover the pan and stick it in the fridge overnight, but that step is completely optional) Either way, the next step is melting all of the butter in the microwave, then mixing in the brown sugar. Pour this delicious mixture over the biscuits. Yes, it will look like way too much, but it’ll all work out in the end. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Your house will smell heavenly. Let it cool for about 5 -10 minutes, then invert on a big plate and start inhaling.

 

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