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Last Drink of 2012 and First Meal of 2013-13 Days Late

We decided to go wild with our last drink of  2012 and bought a large bottle of ……..

Last Drink of 2012

Yes, the cashier at the grocery store even laughed at us and said it was “just terrible” that sparkling grape juice was our New Year’s eve choice of drink.

The next day started off with a commitment not to eat everything in sight and trying to eat more plant life. That commitment (which has lasted a few days so far) began with Roasted Cabbage that appeared on Pinterest.*

Roasted Cabbage-Pinterest

Roasted Cabbage-Prior to Cooking

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Mine looks a little different because I wanted to use actual bacon pieces as opposed to bacon bits.  The dish was easy to make and very filling.  The packaging also helped keep the usual odiferous smell of cooking cabbage at bay.

So, out with the collards and black eye peas for New Years–cabbage and bacon are going to bring us our health and prosperity (hopefully).

*The Pinterest link didn’t take me to the recipe, so I’m not sure of the origin of the recipe.

A Hat-Trick for Christmas-Literally

Hats, of the camouflage and everyday variety, seemed to be the theme for the men this Christmas.

First Philip modeled his comfortable fleece with the signature hunting orange.

Hat Photo_2

Next Andrew gave a sweet look in his twin headpiece which will be restricted to hiking and fishing activities.

Hat Photo_3

And Daddy finished it up with his “I’m Laban the Explorer” look.

Hat Photo_1

And thus concluded the hat-trick that was Christmas.

Starting a Holiday

With a Seaboard Cafe sandwich.

Logan's Sandwich

 

Grilled Tuna Salad Sandwich with Swiss Cheese and Cranberries.  

It’s That Time of the Year

Cream Cheese Braid In Progress

#creamcheesebraidfactoryhere

Cream Cheese Braids Final Product

And trying my best not to eat all of them.

What do you want for your birthday?

That’s the question I ask Andrew each birthday, but I’m usually asking about food as opposed to a gift.  For Andrew, other family members, and a few special friends I loan them my copy of Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott for two days and tell them to pick a cake.  The cookbook was a gift from Momma and as a complete pie girl, it has become my essential cake guide, outside of a few family recipes.

There have been quite a few picks including Helen Hudson Whiting Celestial Chocolate Cake, Sweet Potato Pound Cake, Mississippi Mud Cake, etc.  With at least 30 options, Andrew can be counted on to choose the Red Velvet Cake without fail each year.

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Since trying the recipe from Southern Cakes, I haven’t even looked at another one.  This year it was even better than usual and I attribute it to the freezer. One of the Beach Bunch Mommas (more on that later) always freezes her pound cakes for a little bit after they cool completely because they are moist and less likely to dry out.  I decided to try the same with these layer cakes thought it may have been dumb luck, I’m going to say this was the trick.  After the cakes cooled completely, I wrapped them up tightly and placed them in the freezer for a day.  The morning of Andrew’s party (more on that later take 2) I took them out of the freezer to thaw and iced the cake about an hour before the party that took place that evening.

I’m usually not a huge red velvet fan, but this recipe has made me re-think my stance on RV. Maybe I’ll even choose it for my birthday cake. Maybe, but highly unlikely since I’d have to give up my pie.

The Recipe: Red Velvet Cake

The Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour ( I used King Arthur’s Cake Flour–it was on sale :)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. buttermilk

2 Tbsp. cocoa

One 1-oz. bottle (2 Tbsp.) red food coloring

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar or white vinegar

The Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two round cake pans (9-inch) and line with wax paper.  Grease the paper and flour the pans. Prepare three mixtures which will become the batter.  Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and use a fork to mix them together well.  Combine the vanilla with the buttermilk.  Mix the cocoa and red food coloring in a small bowl, and stir until it makes a smooth paste.

With a mixer in a larger bowl, beat the butter at a low speed for 1 minute until creamy and soft.  Add the sugar and then beat for 3-4 minutes scraping every few minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating after each until the mixture is creamy and smooth.  Scrape the cocoa-food coloring paste into the batter and mix evenly.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and then half of the milk, beating the batter with a mixer at low speed, and mixing only enough for for the flour and liquid to disappear.  Mix in another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the milk, and then the last of the flour in the same way.

In another bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar, stirring well.  Quickly mix this mixture into the red batter, folding it in gently by hand.  Pour the batter into the cake pans.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until the layers no longer jiggle in the middle.  Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn them out on the racks or on plates, remove the paper and turn top side up to cool.

Ice with your favorite Red Velvet compliment–we chose a rich cream cheese icing. Place on layer on a cake plate and ice the top.  Place the 2nd layer on top of the first and ice the top and then sides of both.

After icing the cake, refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer to help the icing set.

The Bibliography: Southern Cakes: Sweet & Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott

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The Farmer & The Box

The Produce Box delivery is every Wednesday.  Wednesday is quickly climbing to be a favorite day of the week somewhat like Saturday and Sunday although it has no chance of getting really close due to the 8-5 gig.

There are many reasons to like The Produce Box but for the sake of brevity here are 4.  1. I have fresh seasonal veggies weekly. 2. Our grocery bill has been pretty much cut in half so I do a little frugal happy dance every week. 3. I cook with vegetables (and this week fruits–thank you persimmon) I’ve never used.  4. I try new recipes instead of sticking to just my “tried & true” box.

A little change to a James Farmer recipe

Here’s one of the new recipes I tried in an attempt to use all of my squash.  I received A Time to Plant from my parents last year for Christmas and thought it was a book related only to ornamental vegetation but was pleasantly surprised to find that recipes are sprinkled throughout.  One was Mr. Farmer’s Squash Spoonbread.

It was a nice try at getting Andrew to eat squash in another form than the 1 he will eat.  I always use the test of “does he eat it as soon as it comes out of the oven” which he did in this instance, going back several time.  I added green chiles to the dish and was able to persuade him a little more with the promise of the dish have the slightest “kick” to it–that might have been a slight stretch.

With the sausages and salad it pretty much made the “comfort” meal that has been a theme lately.  Looking forward to tomorrow and what the box will bring.

Recipe:

3 c. shredded squash

1 small Vidalia onion or 1/2 a large onion, shredded

pinch of salt

pinch of black pepper

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 package corn bread mix

1/2 c. Bisquick

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 stick butter, melted

*I added one small can diced green chiles

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the squash and onion with dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together and then combine them with the above mixture. Slowly stir in the butter.  Pour this mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish or into 2 pie pans sprayed with cooking oil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, watching after 15 minutes until it reaches the desired consistency.

The Bibliography: A Time to Plant by James T. Farmer III

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Hurricane Dinner

Sandy brought dreary weather and the need for comfort food–I feel a few pounds of hibernation weight coming on as the temps continue to drop.  Very thankful that we’re on the outskirts of the hurricane’s reach and we’ve got the power to cook these.

These are the best Stuffed Peppers EVER and can be made ahead.  The recipe from Real Simple calls for beef, but we always go with black beans and extra corn.

So while Sandy continues to bring rain and wind outside, we’ll continue to stuff ourselves with peppers.

Recipe

1 c. long grain white rice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

6 scallions, thinly sliced, white & green parts separated (I’ve used regular onions as well)

1/2 lb. ground beef chuck (substitute black beans)

1 c. frozen corn

1 4.5 oz. can chopped green chiles

1 tsp. ground cumin

4 oz. (1 c.) Monterey Jack, grated (I’ve used cheddar cheese)

kosher salt & black pepper

4 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed

1/2 c. plain low-fat Greek yogurt

Salsa for serving

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook the rice according to package directions.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the scallion whites and beef (or black beans) and cook, breaking the beef up with a spoon until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in corn, chilies, cumin, cooked rice, 1/2 c. of the Monterey Jack, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Arrange the bell peppers, cut side up, in a 9×13 baking dish.  Divide the beef mixture among the bell peppers, add 1/2 c. water to the dish, tightly cover the dish with foil, and bake until the bell peppers are soft, 30 to 40 minutes.  Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 c. of Monterey Jack, and bake until browned, 5 to 7 minutes more.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and 1/4 c. water. Drizzle over the bell peppers and top with the salsa and scallion greens.

The Bibliography: Real Simple Magazine, February 2012

Richmond Folk

We joined Richmond folk and visitors for the Richmond Folk Festival a few weeks ago.  It’s a great FREE festival in Richmond that lasted for 3 days, one of which we graced with our presence iPhone in hand.

The Music

We arrived in time for the Roseanne Cash along with half of Richmond (it seemed).  When we turned around we saw:

And trying to see Roseanne:

Roseanne was followed by many, many other acts.  One of the great things about the festival is that most of the acts perform multiple times throughout the weekend and you can easily (depending on the crowd) move from stage to stage to take them all in.  My favorites were Rockabilly (50s/60s rock) and Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks (Delta Blues).

The Folks

My favorite folks of the festival were these guys (plus Janet who I didn’t capture with the phone).  Of course this picture didn’t come so easily.

It started like this. I think it says “who do you think you are?” or “whyya gotta take another picture?” or “Yes, we are the plainclothes plaid Patagonia security force.”

And then progressed to….”Can’t you see why the girls think I’m so cute?”

The father figure had to insert himself in order to straighten up the picture.  He then made it possible for me to get the greatest picture of the entire weekend.  I’m guessing if he ever reads this blog it could be a point of contention for us but it is posted with love.

The Food

Food vendors bordered most sections of the festival and included Indian, Mexican, Cajun, Kettle Corn, Gyros, Beer, Wine, and everything in between.  My many thanks should go to Mrs. Frances Davis and her fried apple pies. They were a highlight for me and so good that I didn’t take any pictures before eating it all.  It also came with the recipe which I covet more than the apple pies.  Sadly, I can’t find a link to the recipe anywhere online so I’m hesitant to post it.  Guess the only recipes given out will be to those who attend the festival next year.

Meeting a Richmond Celebrity

After we had recovered from the 8 hours of music, art, portable toilets, kettle corn, grassy hills with kids rolling down, and lot of people in general (think cattle call at times), we went to Joe’s Inn for their Sunday brunch.  The brunch was good (note to self–whole post devoted to sweet potato hashbrowns) but the best part was when I looked up and realized that the family sitting across the aisle from us were none other than the Petersiks!  I’ve often wondered what I would do if I met them since we go to Richmond every once in a while.  Now I know that there is first a wave of shock, and then several minutes of covert staring to make sure it’s them followed by a little bit of silence as I figure out what to say while not saying anything to my brunch companions for fear that our whole table would turn around and stare. When I finally worked up the nerve, it all came out a little too “OMG I love your blog” but they were extremely nice and didn’t seem to mind their Sunday morning family time being interrupted.  So, nice folks in Richmond all around.

And to close it out (and jump back to the festival), a little bit of Richmond art along the beautiful James riverwalk.  Obviously, James has beauty but possibly a slight offense to the nose.  We didn’t notice though and kept strolling.

Until next year folks.

Burritos for Dinner

When I saw these burritos on Pink Parsley Catering, I knew we’d love them because first and foremost they are burritos and second they have a poblano sauce.  Poblanos make everything better.

So many of our meals last week featured meat that I wanted to make this in a vegetarian version. To keep from having only black beans inside the burrito, I made cilantro lime rice because it’s another favorite.

All parts of the burritos could be made in advance which made this an even more valuable recipe in the rotation.   This dish wasn’t without its mistakes, but they turned out to not cause a problem (too much).

Spices:  My alphabetized spice cabinet (yes, I can be slightly retentive) was slightly off and I grabbed the first bottle that had a “c” and a “u.”  That turned out to be curry powder so I guess these might have a slight Indian fair, but were still delicious.

Peppers: They need to be roasted to avoid a crunchiness to the dish.  By the time I fully read the recipe, I had the dinner almost ready and the peppers didn’t have a chance to soften.

Recipe

Ingredients

Cilantro-Lime Rice

1 1/2-2 servings of jasmine rice, cooked

Once the rice is cooked, combine 3 Tbsp. cilantro and 1 Tbsp. lime juice

Bean Mixture (same from Pink Parsley Catering recipe)

1 Tbs canola oil

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs tomato paste

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup water or chicken broth

1/2 tsp cumin or in my case, curry powder accidentally

1/2 tsp oregano

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1/8 tsp cayenne

1 tsp brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack, cheddar, or cheese of your preference (I used left over sliced, colby jack cheese we had)

4-10 whole wheat tortillas, depending on size (4 for burrito-sized, more for soft taco or fajita sized)

cooking spray

Sour Cream Poblano Sauce

2 poblano peppers

2 Tbs butter

2 Tbs flour

2/3 cup chicken broth (preferably room temperature)

1/2 cup sour cream (light is fine)–I used fat-free sour cream

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking oil.
Burritos:  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add the oil. Add the onions and cook  3-5 minutes until they begin to soften.
Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 30-60 seconds before adding in the beans. Add the water or broth, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, brown sugar and salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon). Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the cheese (or half a slice) down the center of each tortilla (depending on size). Add a spoonful of cilantro rice (or as much as you want)and a spoonful of the bean mixture over the top. Fold the left and right sides of the tortilla in, and then roll the tortilla up, from the end closest to you, to the top. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet, and spray with cooking oil.  Be careful not to overstuff because the tortillas will break.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until tortillas are golden brown and crispy.  While it’s baking, prepare the sauce.
Sauce: Preheat the broiler and place the poblano on a baking sheet.  Broil 6-inches from the heat source, turning occasionally, until blackened and charred.  Peel the poblano and rinse off any small bits of charred skin, remove the stem and seeds, and dice it.
Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat, and melt the butter. Stir in the flour, cooking for about a  minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and then the diced poblano; continue to simmer, whisking frequently, until thickened. Add the sour cream and warm through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Reduce the heat to low and cover to keep warm until the burritos are done.
Spoon the sauce over the burritos and eat up.

The Bibliography: Slightly Changed from Pink Parsley Catering and original from Elly Says Opa

Mississippi Mud from Southern Living

When we got back from camping in the NC mountains, I had 3/4 box of graham crackers and 1 bag of marshmallows left.  Josh was coming for dinner at our house and I wanted to use these in the dessert because I like to finish things, recycle things, throw things away, etc.  When we got back, I also had the latest Southern Living magazine in the  mailbox and one of their dessert features just happened to have marshmallows and lots of graham cracker crumbs.

To me Mississippi Mud pies are “a few times a year” dessert because they are so rich.  This pie had a nice fudgey middle and broiled (“faux roasted”) marshmallows on top with a warm, chocolate drizzle.  the recipe says to make it in a springform pan but I thought a pie pan would work just as well.  That thought was a little off however because it resulted in a delicious pie with a 2 inch think crust.  While delicious, we ended up eating it like corn on the cob.  I’ll stick to the recipe next time.

Recipe

2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/2 c. butter, melted

2 1/4 c. sugar, divided

1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped pecans, toasted and divided

1 (4 oz.) semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped

1 c. butter

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. salt

3 c. regular marshmallows, cut in half horizontally

2 c. miniature marshmallows

Chocolate Frosting

Directions: Stir together first 2 ingredients and 1/4 c. sugar; press on bottom and 2 inches up sides of a shiny 9-inch springform form pan.  Sprinkle 3/4 c. pecans over crust.  Microwave chopped chocolate and 1 c. butter in a large microwave-safe glass bowl at high 1 minute or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30 second intervals.  Whisk flour, next 4 ingredients, and remaining 2 cups sugar into chocolate mixture, whisking until blended.  Pour batter into prepared crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Remove from oven, and cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes.  Preheat broiler with oven rack on lowest level from heat.  Place pie (in pan) on a jelly roll pan.  Toss together both marshmallows; mound on pie, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge.  Broil 30 seconds to 1 minute or until marshmallows are golden brown.  Remove from oven, and immediately remove sides of the pan.  Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare Chocolate Frosting.  Drizzle over marshmallows; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 c. pecans.

Chocolate Frosting: Cook 1/4 c. butter, 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa, and 3 Tbsp. milk in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, 4 minutes or until slightly thickened; remove from heat.  Whisk in 2 cups powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract until smooth.

The Bibliography: Southern Living October 2012