Monthly Archives: December 2011

Everyday with Wontons

I discovered wonton wrappers this year and I am certain 2012 will be filled with them.  They are quite the chameleon and can be used in desserts, appetizers, main courses, decor (okay, maybe not that far).  I’ve made taco cupcakes for appetizers, veggie filled cups for dinner and tried another variation with a Southern staple–the sweet potato.  Philip S. (my brother) made a valid point this year during the holidays that he didn’t understand why the pineapple was a symbol of Southern hospitality (there seem to be plenty of theories on the web from a symbol of status to meaning the “man of the house was home,” providing a real treat for your guests, etc.).  To him a piece of cotton, tobacco leaf, or sweet potato made much more sense. So this my version of stuffing Southern hospitality into a not so Southern food item.

Recipe:

2 sweet potatoes, boiled until softened, peeling removed

1 1/2-2 tsp. honey

1/8-1/4 c. light brown sugar (depending on the skinny of slightly plump kind)

Cinnamon Sugar mixture (for the last batch I used 2 cups of sugar to 2 Tbsp. of cinnamon)

Mash the sweet potatoes while still hot with a potato masher or anything comparable in the house.  Stir in honey and brown sugar.  Add 1/2-1 Tbsp. of the potato mixture to the upper middle portion of a wonton wrapper.  Fold the square wrapper in half to make a triangle (the point being trying to keep the potato mixture in the wrapper).  Slightly wet your fingers with water and press the edges of the wrappers to seal them.  Bend the two ends slightly back to make the shape above. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on the wrappers and put in the oven at 350 degrees until they have lightly browned.

For next time(s): 1. Add a bit of cream cheese when placing in wrapper, 2. Add crushed pecans or walnuts, 3. Add a type of cheese that I wouldn’t normally think of, 4. Add cranberries or raisins

Notes to Self: Much to my surprise they were good as cold wontons the next day as well.

The Bibliography: SFD Test Kitchen

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Merry Christmas 2011

And these are a few of my favorite things…

The tree.  The smell of it, the soft lights, the reflection in the window.

The decorations.  This year they can all be attributed to Kathryn S. (my sister).  The decorations are beautiful, fresh, and most pieces are reusable–And she didn’t even mean to save the planet.

The food.  I am one fat and happy pig person. Of everything, this is my favorite food of Christmas.  Something Momma (or Kathryn or I as we got older) has made since before I can remember.  It’s craved by our family, members of our community, and pretty much anyone who has ever tried this once a year specialty.

The church I grew up in.  Old, full of character (both architecturally and people wise).  Quiet and still on Christmas Eve. Reminder of the day and the reason we celebrate.

My family.

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My “Go-To” Side

During Thanksgiving Prep I was looking for another side to add that wouldn’t add many additional calories.  Like usual in this instance, I cracked open the 3 latest issue of Southern Living and looked for good sides hidden within the pages.  Hidden meaning that there might not be a scrumptious picture, but would be quality if it made the magazine.  Bingo with the grilled peppers and mushrooms!

For the first time making them, we grilled them individually.  After losing several through the grate, we decided that skewers would be helpful for that step.  We’ve also tried green beans in another iteration.  While good, they didn’t hold a candle to the peppers and mushrooms.

We’ve had them at least 3 times since Thanksgiving and I think these will be the vegetable/side of choice for 2012!

Recipe:

Grilled Peppers and Mushrooms (Southern Living, October 2011)

1/4 c. white balsamic vinegar (can substitute white vinegar)

2 Tbsp. coarse-grained Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper

1/2 c. olive oil

4 large, assorted bell peppers cut into 2-inch wide strips

1 large red onion, thickly sliced

1 (8 oz.) package baby portobello mushrooms.

Whisk together first 5 ingredients.  Gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until blended. Reserve 2 Tbsp. mixture; cover and chill.  Stir bell peppers and next 2 ingredients into remaining vinegar mixture.  Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Pre-heat grill to 350 degrees.  Remove veggies from mixture and place on grill (peppers skin side down).  Grill veggies (with lid covered) until peppers look blistered and grill marks appear.  Turn veggies and grill them 2 more minutes.

Drizzle with reserved vinegar mixture.  We didn’t do this, but I’m sure it would be good.

The Bibliography: Southern Living, October 2011

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My Kryptonite

A frisbee in the grass

Life is good until you find that your kryptonite is a cheese dip.  A cheese dip that is served a multiple restaurants throughout the city, yet when I try to make it, it turns into a frisbee that meal participants have to use a serrated knife to serve. Life is still good, but whoa, didn’t see that one coming.

During the Thanksgiving holiday I decided that instead of leftovers for post-Turkey day lunch we would have a fiesta complete with homemade queso. Cue the frisbee. No matter how much I tried to stir, the cheese didn’t seem to like the oil or other ingredients and vice versa.  This is the recipe I had tagged on Pinterest and tried for the fiesta/break your teeth with cheese party.  It made a 3 minute debut and then promptly went in the trash.  The taste was there, but when a chip breaks when trying to dip the dip (interesting word usage Jenny), it’s time to throw in the towel.

Becky W. identified my problem the very next day. It seems that I need to read on the packaging of cheese whether it is a melting cheese or not.  Who knew?  Here’s to reading and not serving another frisbee.

Image by Aaron Brown via Flickr.

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Plump Potatoes

Andrew J. (also know as THE HUSBAND) turned 33, so with that momentous day also came his annual birthday dinner attended by the same small, but mighty group of 6. Side note: Another perk to having this online record is that I will (hopefully) be able to remember the menus I’ve served in previous years.  Before now, I’ve been able to pick out maybe 1 dish that was served in years prior. 

AJ’s opinion of potatoes is that you don’t get much out of them.  I’m not sure who taught him that, but I disagree.  His tagline for the veggie immediately sealed the deal that I was going to make a starchy dish for this event.  Of course I’d throw in a few of his other favorites, but I was going to make the best twice baked potatoes dubbed the Plump Potatoes.  A little cream cheese, green onions, salt & pepper and……..there you go, a dish he couldn’t resist!

Plump Potatoes in the Oven

Post dinner AJ’s opinion still isn’t really changed, but that just gives me a challenge .  The fact that everyone else at the table devoured theirs let me know that they were along the lines of what I had hoped for.  To be fair here,  AJ did eat his potato, but wasn’t converted like I had hoped.

They are still one of my favs and called Plump Potatoes for a reason.  Now I need to make a Skinny version.

Ingredients:

baking potatoes (I started with 12)

3/4 c. of fat free half & half

half a block of cream cheese (left soften for 20-30 minutes before using)

salt & pepper to taste

3 green onions cut into small pieces

3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Baked the potatoes until easily stuck with a fork. Cut them in half and tried my best to preserve the shapes of the potato skin when spooning out the inside.  Mixed the rest of the ingredients in potato using a hand mixer to make them more smooth.  I probably should try at some point not mixing so much if I want more of the “chunky” effect instead of the “creamy”–think peanut butter descriptors.  Evenly distributed the potato mixture back to the skins and placed on the same cookie sheet used to cook the potatoes originally.  Shredded cheddar cheese on top for an aesthetic effect (and who doesn’t like more cheese).  Baked at 350 degrees until warmed through and cheese melted.

To Try in Future (not all at once): Pepperjack sub. for Cheddar, Fresh Garlic, Black Beans, Salsa

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Visit from Mags

Maggie B. (formerly Maggie H.) came to visit this weekend as part of an annual Christmas trip.  She loves Sundrop.  Loves should be LOVES Sundrop.  For her engagement pictures one was taken of her holding a Sundrop and her then fiancé, now husband holding a Cheerwine-that’s how much.  If you aren’t familiar with Sundrop, you want to be soon.  If you don’t like it when you try it, remember to try it again in the summer. It’s best when consumed while at the beach on a 96+ day when the drink is ice cold (and you have your toes in the ocean).

Being a few weeks past due on recognizing her birthday, I thought incorporating Sundrop into the weekend was necessary.  I found a recipe online for Mountain Dew Cupcakes from here at All Things Cupcakes and since there is a similarity between MD & Sundrop (though my personal preference is Sundrop-a lighter taste), I thought it could work.

Icing Sundrop Cupcakes

For the batter, I followed the directions pretty much to a T.  When it came to the icing, I wanted to make sure that the Sundrop stood out so I doubled (+1 additional Tbsp.) the amount that was recommended and didn’t include any lemon extract.  To replace the lemon extract, I included another 1/4 c. of fresh lemon and lime juice.

Two Sundrop Cupcakes

The Sundrop made an entrance with the icing and continued subtly in the cake.  My sister said it actually seemed close to Sundrop cheesecake.  Definitely a dessert  that is light and crisp in taste, yet rich, rich, rich.  I think Mags was happy and hopefully these cupcakes helped me keep the title of “Hostess with the Mostess.”  Already planning for her next trip…..

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A New Year

Journal Graveyard

You will find a journal graveyard spread throughout my house. Several with bright covers and others with a nice leather look that says take me seriously. And I do take my journaling seriously for the first 4 days. And then it’s over.  With the scoreboard showing a big, fat 0 on that front, I decided that perhaps a different approach was needed. I could produce a record through food with a blog. At first I was skeptical. There are already multiple (times 1000s) food blogs on the web and there isn’t a whole lot that hasn’t been done from what I can see. But, when I decided that I could do this for me and not worry if anyone ever read it, or if visitor analytics would be needed, I got excited. Excited about adding a few new ounces of potential creativity to my day. Excited that the pressure was off and I didn’t have to impress anyone. Thrilled that I have an excuse to cook food, photograph, and write about it – these are a few of my favorite things (cue The Sound of Music soundtrack). Note that I didn’t say I am a professional at any of them.

I’m Southern—hence the name of the blog and my accent. You can’t hear it, but my blog entries are best read in a hearty, southern drawl. I can’t bat my eyes or roll my Rs. Both actually provoke a look of concern from my husband. Food is a love. Period. I come from a long line of home-trained cooks, and from a family who considers eating a hobby to be mastered. Cooking and doing it well are deeply ingrained in my DNA. Thus, the beginning of this blog-documenting the everyday and learning through food.