Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Watermelon Lemonade

Fall is setting in and summer is almost left in the dust.  I'm sure you can still find watermelons for a little while longer.  This was a perfect quencher for the hot summer days, and it seems to be a nice drink for these hot fall days, as well.  It's kinda weird, the weather.  In the mornings when I leave for class, I find myself having to wear a hoodie or a sweater.  But as soon as it hits the afternoon, it's bloody darn hot outside!

I'm not complaining though, because this is my favorite season.  Fall is where the leaves change color (the perfect backdrop for any photo!). The temperature drops ever so slightly, but not enough to make you hibernate inside.  It's actually GREAT to be outside in the fall.  I find that my wardrobe definitely reflects the fall, and I'm glad I can take out all those clothes that have been in hiding for the past few months!

What about you guys?  What is your favorite season? 


1 medium sized watermelon, seeded and cut into cubes
1 cup water
2 lemons, seeded and juiced
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a blender, combine all the ingredients, except for the ice.  Strain, if necessary.

Fill a large pitcher with ice, about halfway.  Pour in mixture from blender.

Serve in glasses and allow your thirst to be quenched while it's still decently hot outside!

How easy is that?  Extremely!  And once you've had it, you'll be making it all the time!  I'm a fan of regular lemonade, but when you throw watermelon into the mix, I'm all in!  Enjoy!

P.S. Here's our weekly CSA! 

2 lbs. apples
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
1 acorn squash
3 hot peppers (aren't they gorgeous?!)
2 lbs. summer squash
1 french baguette

Great stuff this week and if I make it to round 3 of Project Food Blog - you'll definitely get to see a lot of it in action!  So I guess that was a segue way into letting you know there's still time to vote for my Challenge #2 Entry on the Azores! Thanks for all the support, once again!  And hopefully you'll be hearing about a Luxury Dinner soon enough!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spaghetti & Clams

Happy Monday guys!  Just a reminder, you can vote for my Project Food Blog entry on Foodbuzz starting today through Thursday!  You helped me get past Challenge #1, so I'd be immensely grateful if you helped me get through Challenge #2!  Thanks again!

It's the beginning of the week and surprisingly I'm in a pretty good mood.  Not that I'm never in a good mood, it's just that Monday's usually drag on for me, but today, it wasn't too bad.  It actually seemed like the day flew by at work.  Then I had a test in my Spanish class which went alright, I suppose.  I think I was still in shock from getting a perfect score on the first test we had in there, that I didn't think I needed to study too much for this one.  So needless to say, I don't think a perfect score will be had on this one... maybe just an A, yeah... definitely an A. 

Or maybe it's that I have a Developmental Biology test tomorrow morning and I was more focused on studying for that!  Considering I barely got a B on our first test in there!  I tell you, I wish I could be one of those students that just settles for C's (because after all, as the mantra goes - "C's get degrees!"), but I can't.  I mean, I will if I absolutely have to, but I'm competitive in nature.  I strive to be the best regardless of what it is (those of you that know me, know that this is VERY true).  So hopefully all this studying will pay off and I can start the 1-week countdown to our vacation and road trip to Florida!  Woohoo!  So let's get to a recipe, shall we?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again... I'm a HUGE seafood fan.  I made this Spaghetti & Clam dish a while back, but I haven't forgotten how amazing it was.  It's simplicity at it's finest.  Any shellfish will do, but there's something about clams that just strike me as the best!


2 lbs. clams
1 cup white wine
1/2 tablespoon thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
juice from 1 lemon
1 green bell peppers, finely diced
1 lb. linguini or thin spaghetti noodles
1 tablespoon olive oil
small handful of cilantro, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot of boiling water, cook noodles according to package directions for al dente.

In a dutch oven or large pot, combine thyme, white wine, garlic, green peppers, and clams over medium high heat.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to a simmer and let cook, covered, for about 3-4 minutes, or until clams open up.

Remove clams and set aside.  Simmer broth mixture for about 5 more minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Drain pasta and add in clams.  Toss well and serve onto warm plates.  Pour desired amount of broth over noodles and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

The best thing about shellfish is that most of it is ready in practically no time flat.  And that definitely is how this dish is!  Tons of flavor coming at you and it's ready in about 20-25 minutes!  Enjoy guys!  And thanks again for all of your continued support!  You guys are awesome!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Project Food Blog: Challenge #2

First and foremost... thanks to all of you that voted for me in Challenge #1.  Obviously, you believed in me enough to give me a crack at Challenge #2:

"How well can you tackle a classic dish from another culture? We're bypassing the French and Italian standards in favor of more challenging cuisines."

Being given practically the whole world to choose from is a tough decision.  Of course, I'm quite familiar with various Asian cuisines, so I tried to stay away from the obvious.  I thought about doing an African country, possibly Ethiopia, but wasn't quite sold.  Then I went to Europe, and with already ruling out France and Italy, I wasn't left with anything that tickled my fancy.  So then comes the Caribbean and North & South America... "there's potential there," I thought.

So desperately searching for inspiration to hit me, I turned to the Travel Channel website.  More specifically, the No Reservations section.  Who knows world food and culture better than the great Anthony Bourdain?  Not many, that's for sure.  So perusing around, I saw a little blip-it for an upcoming episode on the Azores.  Okay... so raise your hand if you've heard of that part of the world. :::looking around:::  Okay, not so many.  Well, I'm in the same boat.  I don't think I've ever heard of the Azores before, and what better reason to go out of my comfort zone and choose them?!  And so a decision was made... well sort of.  I had a culture, but now what to make?

 photo from

Well what and where are the Azores? 
Just a little bit of background: The Azores are a former territory of Portugal, so the cuisine and culture is highly influenced by Portuguese customs.  They are made up of 9 different islands, pictured above.  The Azores are also in very close proximity to North America (only a 4 hour flight from Boston!) so it has recently gained more popularity due it's amazing natural beauty (some believe that the Azores are the last remnant of the lost continent of Atlantis).

photo from

I could look at pictures of the Azorean islands all day, but we're here to talk about the food, right?  And from what I gather, the food is just as amazing as the natural beauty of the islands.  Described as more of a peasant-type food, the Azores use their natural bounty of fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy from local cattle, and vast amounts of fish from the Sargasso Sea.  Early settlers brought a huge bounty of produce to the islands such as fava beans, kale, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, yams, citrus, pineapples, etc.
One big tradition in the Azores and many other Portuguese-influenced countries, is the Portuguese Festa, or Portuguese Holy Spirit Festival.  The festival is based on the popular belief that a visit from the Holy Spirit is what enabled Queen Isabel of Portugal to relieve her people's suffering and is the subject of several miraculous legends; according to one, the queen, smuggling food to the poor in midwinter, produced live roses from her robes when her husband, King Diniz, demanded to see what she was concealing.  

A popular dish that is served for free (in honor of Queen Isabel's charitable spirit) during the Festa is sopas e carne (or beef soup).  It's a humble dish that combines flavors of cinnamon, paprika, bay leaf, onions, and red wine to produce an amazing meal.  Understanding the meaning of the sopas to the Azores and Portuguese culture is what made this the perfect choice for me and this challenge!

Adapted from this recipe

1 tablespoon pickling spice
1 cinnamon stick
10 cups water
3 lb. chuck roast
3/4 cup red wine (I used a Shiraz)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 hot pepper, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 loaf of French bread, sliced
fresh mint sprigs

Bring the 10 cups of water to a boil in a large stockpot.  

Place pickling spice and cinnamon stick in a cheesecloth and tie up. (I didn't have any cheesecloth available, and I was short on time to go running all over town to find some, so I improvised and used a coffee filter, and it worked out just fine!)  Drop into boiling water and add chuck roast, wine, onion, hot pepper, and tomato sauce.  

Bring mixture back to a boil and then lower heat to a steady simmer.  Cover and let simmer for about 3 hours, or until meat is nice and tender.  Season mixture with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Remove spices in cheesecloth (or coffee filter!) from mixture.  Remove chuck roast and place on cutting board, tenting the meat with aluminum foil.  Let meat rest for about 5-10 minutes.

In a large serving bowl, place the french bread slices in an even layer.  Place a couple sprigs of mint on top of bread and ladle in broth from soup over bread. 

Thickly slice the meat and serve along with soup.

This meal is meant to be enjoyed family-style, experiencing the joy of sharing a meal with the ones you love!

As an added bonus, there is also a traditional custard tart that is usually served after many Azorean dinners.  I just couldn't resist including it!  You can find the recipe here.  I pretty much followed it right on and the tarts turned out great!

I hope you enjoyed my rendition of a small culinary tour of the Azores!  And if you liked it, I would be delighted if you would vote for me to advance in Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog!  (link on the right also!) Thanks for reading and again, thanks for your support!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hot Sauce #2

Well, today is Friday.  Woohoo, right?!  Well, not really.  I've got to work until 10:30 tonight so it's not like I'll be doing anything fantastic.  Just a take-out and then straight to bed night, tonight.  But Saturday night, that's a different story. 

I got an e-mail the other day saying that I had won a free Happy Hour at Maker's Mark.  Basically, for 2 hours, I get to drink for free and my friends get to come and enjoy 1/2 price drinks with no cover charge.  Cool, huh?  If only it wasn't down on 4th Street Live.  4th Street is basically an area of downtown Louisville that has a bunch of nightclubs on it, and I don't know about you, but I'm not the 'nightclub bar kind of gal.'  I'm more of a 'hole in the wall bar where I can sit down and chat with my friends kind of gal.'  But, I can't hardly resist things that are labelled "free" and so I'm treking my way out to enjoy my free drinks.  We'll see how it turns out, and hey if I get at least 10 people to show up I get a $25 gift card to their restaurant, and if 25 people show up I get $50 cash at the end of my 2 hours.  So... even more reason to entice me to put up with the "poser" crowd.  Oh well, it'll be good to see a huge group of my friends and it's been forever since Andy and I have really gone out to the bars and whatnot, so it should end up being a good time.

Anyway, I've been on a condiment and sauce making kick for a little while, so I thought I'd share my hot sauce attempt #2 with you all.  It's definitely a cross between a hot sauce and a chimichurri.  Definitely great on tacos, proteins, and whatever else you want to throw it on! 


3 hot peppers (jalapenos, habaneros, etc.)
small handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
juice from 1 lime
2 scallions, roughly chopped
salt, to taste

This one is pretty easy in it's preparation as well.  Just either throw everything in a food processor and pulse until you get your desired consistency or put everything in a bowl and blend it up with an immersion blender. 

Serve it on top of tacos, quesadillas, steak, chicken, whatever you like!

Enjoy the weekend guys!  And thanks again to everything who voted for me on Project Food Blog, I'm definitely looking forward to the results later on this afternoon!  Crossing my fingers!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Peach Pancakes

When I was growing up, pancakes either came out of a box in the freezer, or out of a box in the pantry that you just added a few simple ingredients to before you fried them up in a skillet or the microwave.  Nowadays, I wouldn't dream of doing either one!  Call me crazy, but homemade pancakes are extremely easy, so why would I want to use any pre-made mixes or pancakes?  Am I right?  Right.

We had a bunch of peaches a little while back, and besides grilling them, or just eating them outright... we tried to experiment with different ways to using them up.  And so these peach pancakes came about and I'm telling you, it was one of the best Sunday breakfasts we've had in A LONG WHILE. 


2 cups flour
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
4-5 peaches, pureed, plus some extra thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons butter, divided
maple syrup, for serving (optional)
powdered sugar (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, baking powder, and pureed peaches.  Whisk until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Heat a griddle pan or large skillet under high heat.  Melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Using a ladle, pour in batter.  With my large skillet, I had enough room to do about 3 pancakes per batch.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Serve dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with maple syrup.  You can even place the thinly sliced peaches on top also!

These pancakes were damn near perfect.  They weren't too thick, not too thin.  They were kind of a cross between a crepe and a pancake in texture and size.  They had peachy flavor all throughout and the maple syrup paired perfectly with it all!  Like I said, if you're looking for a different way to use up your peaches and you happen to be feeling a fantastic breakfast coming on... this is it!  Enjoy!

And check out our CSA goodies... fall is here and I'm ecstatic! (It is my favorite season!)

1 butternut squash (my favorite squash!)
3 lbs. apples (gigantic ones at that!)
1 bunch swiss chard (our first batch of greens!)
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
3 hot peppers

And just a little side note here.  Louisville and the surrounding areas haven't really had much rain this farming season.  In fact, there was a wee bit of a drought there for a little while.  So, our produce has definitely shown that, but on the other hand, we've received an extremely awesome array of produce as well.  The great thing about a CSA is that we're supporting our local farmers, regardless of how the season turns out.  So during their time of drought, when produce may not be necessarily flourishing, the farmers know that their locals still want their product and will be there to support them through it all.  And that's one of the main reason that I enjoy doing our CSA.  Locals supporting locals.  So if you haven't thought about joining a CSA or don't know if you're area even has one... I'd definitely try to check it out (a great resource is Local!  It's well worth it!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Green Pepper Hot Sauce

How was everyone's weekend?  Ours was pretty laid back.  We went to eat at that Colombian restaurant on Friday and definitely had some good grub!  Saturday we both worked and were pretty exhausted by the end of the day so we just stayed in and watched a movie.  Sunday, was of course, football day!  My Eagles won and I definitely won 2 out of 3 of my fantasy football leagues, so all in all... a good weekend.

Hot sauces has been one of those things that I've tried thousands of... purchased or perused... but never really thought to make one from scratch.  A couple weeks ago I made some Homemade Potato Chips and wanted something to dip them in that wasn't your normal potato chip-type dip. 

Now I know you're first thought was pretty much... "you're going to dip your potato chips into hot sauce?"  And I know, crazy, right?  But hey, it worked and it was pretty tasty!  Pretty good for my first try at hot sauce, and the recipe pretty much used up ingredients I had laying around the kitchen!  So score!


1 teaspoon coriander
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped (I kept the seeds, if you want to do this without them, you surely can)
1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 roma tomato, roughly chopped

Easy prep on this too because you pretty much just place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse a few times until you get your desired consistency.

This was uniquely spicy and if anything, could pass as a "sloppy salsa".  It's not too pretty, but it was tasty.  And in the end, that's what really matters right?  So throw this on whatever!  Sandwiches, tacos, fish, steak... the possibilities are endless.  And as for pairing well with the potato chips?  It was unique, but highly satisfying!  Enjoy!

And hey guys!  If you have the time (please say you do!) head on over to Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog page and vote for my blog to become the "Next Food Blog Star!"  (the link is to the right --->) I greatly appreciate all of your comments and continued readership!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Creamy Cabbage Pasta

Ok, I know what you're thinking.  Another damn cabbage recipe.  Well... when coleslaw isn't cutting it, and you've got tons of red cabbage... you have to start getting creative... or just throwing it into random things.  Such as pasta.  So bare with me in my pasta escapades, but also trust me... because this was pretty darn delicious.

And on a side note, I'm extremely happy that it's Friday.  No tests to study for this weekend, so it will definitely be a more relaxed one, and I can enjoy my Sunday football, distraction-free.  Woohoo.

Nothing too crazy going on this weekend, just a bunch of relaxation, and well, I do have to work tomorrow, but it's okay.  Andy and I will be checking out a new Colombian place in town, La Colombiana, tonight for dinner.  Remember World Fest from a couple weeks ago?  Well, they were stand with the longest line at the whole festival, and we liked what we ended up with so hopefully their restaurant delivers as much satisfaction as their crispy, crunchy arepa did!

adapted from Rocco Dispirito's "Now Eat This!" Creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce

1 onion, roughly chopped
9 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 lb. spaghetti noodles or other pasta

In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine the onion, garlic, and water.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and cover tightly with plastic wrap or covering.  Microwave for about 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, if needed.

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat and add the onion-garlic puree, cabbage, and tomatoes.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, according to package directions for al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the cornstarch until completely dissolved.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the onion-garlic in the skillet.  Raise heat to high and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 minute, or until slightly thickened.

Add the Parmesan cheese and nutmeg to the sauce.  Whisk until cheese is melted.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add noodles to mixture and toss well.  Serve right away!

This was pretty great!  I loved the flavors that the cabbage and the tomatoes added to the dish and the onion-garlic puree was definitely a flavor-enhancer for the sauce itself.  We served this with fresh garlic bread and some lemon-thyme potatoes.

Enjoy the weekend guys and just an FYI... I'm a contestant in Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog and voting starts on Monday for the 1st Challenge (you can read my entry here) and I would really appreciate the support!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beet & Red Cabbage Pasta

It's only the middle of the week, but once again, I'm overwhelmed and exhausted.  I just got home from our volleyball game (we won all 3 games, woohoo!) and I've got a full night of studying ahead of me.  And I'm no where close to sitting down to study and it's already 7:30 pm.  Yeah, I'm a procrastinator.  And the start of the NFL regular season doesn't help either (mucho distractions!).  Nor does having 3 tests back to back for the past 3 days.  The only thing I've got going to for me right now is the fact that I go on vacation in less than a month!  It's only to my brothers wedding... but the wedding is in Florida... and it's on a beach.  So hey, I call that a pretty freakin' awesome vacation.

I've been toying around with my new lense... it's got a higher mm so the zoom and frame of the picture is a little more closed in.  Plus it's got a macro setting on it which I'm majorly excited about, but still trying to learn.   Any good tips, anybody?  So bare with me for the next couple of new posts because my pictures will probably be sporatic and amateur, but hey... we all have to start somewhere.

Me and blue cheese have been at war.  I know blue cheese is supposed to be so amazing and so wonderful, and I keep trying recipe after recipe after recipe... and come up so-so or so really bad every time.  I just don't feel like a proper foodie if I don't like blue cheese... a.k.a. the "stinky cheese," as Andy would call it.  What about you guys?  What is your take?  Is it really an acquired taste?  Or am I just not using good enough blue cheese?  Anyway, this is one of those blue cheese recipes that is just so-so... if you like Gorgonzola, then I'm sure you'll love this, but if you're still on the fence about blue cheese, like I am, I'd just omit it and it's a pretty solid dish!

Adapted from Bitchin' Camero's recipe

2 cups elbow macaroni/spiral pasta (I didn't have enough of any certain one, so I mixed the two)
8 slices Pancetta, chopped
3 golden beets, peeled and cubed
1 & 1/2 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
6 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (optional)
1/3 cup pistachios, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red cabbage, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat, and add pancetta.  Cook until pancetta starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta and set aside on paper towel-lined plate, leaving any grease in the pan.

Add the beets, cabbage, and garlic to pan.  Saute for about 1 minute and add in beef stock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente.  Drain pasta and reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Toss the pasta in with the beets and cabbage along with lemon juice.  Heat for about 1-2 minutes.

Stir in pasta water, olive oil, and gorgonzola (if you're adding it).  Toss until everything is well combined.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Serve right away with chopped pistachios as a garnish. 

This may have been even better with different cheeses as well, maybe some classic Parmesan, or Romano, or a combination of the two.  It was pretty good, but the Gorgonzola was a strong flavor and somewhat overpowered the dish, but all-in-all a decent dish.  Just needs some tweaks.  You could definitely make it vegetarian-friendly by omitting the pancetta and just cooking the vegetables in some olive oil or whatnot.  Anyway, enjoy... and I'll be spending the next few hours studying Molecular biology... aren't you jealous?!

P.S.  This weeks CSA... first shots featuring my new lense (like I said, be forgiving because my lighting wasn't that great and I'm still working on good angles!)

2 lbs. potatoes
2 acorn squashes
2 hot peppers
2 lbs. apples
1 fresh baguette
1 canteloupe
fresh garlic

Monday, September 13, 2010

Project Food Blog: Challenge #1

Okay.  So I'm in.  Well... everyone's in the first round.  Oh wait, what am I talking about, you ask?  Well, FoodBuzz has initiated a competition, amongst food bloggers, to be the "next food blog star", if you will - called Project Food Blog.  And yeah, I'm entered. 

Over 1,700 food bloggers are in this competition and only 400 get to advance to round 2.  So I've got to make this count.  Make myself unique.  Make myself... well... into the next food blog star.

The first challenge is as follows - "what defines you as a food blogger and why should you be the next food blog star?"

Wow.  That's a loaded question if I've ever seen one.

For one, I've been trying to rack my brain for weeks now trying to figure out how I'd compose this post.  And honestly... I've just got to be honest.  With myself.  With my readers.  With my judges.

What is a food blogger?  Are they foodies?  Are they bloggers? 
I think the term "food blogger" is different for everyone.  And it should be.  It's not any specific one class of person or thing.  It doesn't narrow down a genre of people, but actually opens up an array of types of people. 
To me, being a food blogger isn't just about food.  Yes, it's a very big part, but it's not the entirety of what makes a good food blogger.  To me, a food blogger is a person with a culmination of characteristics. 

How am I a food blogger?  Well, a food blogger just isn't made out of thin air.  I think when I started this blog, I didn't know where it was headed.  I mean, seriously, check out the first couple of posts... pure chaos.  But as I researched and started falling in love with other food blogs, I started finding my own little niche.  I mean, as narcissistic as this sounds, this is my blog and it really should be about me, right?  And so this blog showcases my food, my life, and my photography. 

And most importantly, it's a blog about my growth as a person and as a cook.  If you would have asked me 5 years ago, even, what I'd be doing with my life or what my hobbies would be... being a domesticated house-fiance would not be on the top of that list.  It would be far from it.  In just a little over a year, this blog has really developed into something.  My photography has improved greatly, going from a little point-and-shoot Kodak camera, to my Nikon D40, and learning how to use my camera properly... I impress myself sometimes, and hopefully that's conveyed to my readers.  After all, we eat with our eyes first, right?

Also, my writing has drastically improved.  At first, I didn't know what to talk about on this blog... or even how to talk about things.  But as the blog got more personal, i.e. talking about my engagement, my ever-changing school life, my hectic work life, the cooking and the recipes just seemed to fit in naturally.  How so?  Well, for one, the cooking is what relieved the stress.  At the end of the day, I love this blog and I love cooking... more than anything. 

And the cooking.  Has the cooking improved?  Hell yes.  I try new things, I let my failures be known, as well as my successes.  Being a food blogger allows me to open myself up to criticism... whether good or bad.  True feedback is given, and luckily, most of it has been extremely kind and helpful.  I think the food blogging community is one of the only groups of people that you can get an honest, genuine, and kind opinion from, no matter what.  Food brings people together, regardless of the language, culture, or background. 

So has any of that really answered the question of what a food blogger is?  To sum it up, I consider myself a food blogger because I'm passionate about my food.  I'm passionate about the photography of my food, and my photography in general, really.  I'm passionate about writing about my food.  I think those 3 main things are what make me a genuinely good food blogger.

And in turn, this also gives me the gumption to say that I could definitely be the "next food blogger star."  No, I don't have hundreds of followers (yet!), like some blogs, but I've got more followers than I ever dreamed of having!  You have to be passionate about something, and to me, food is the one central thing in my life that I can turn to, besides Andy, of course.  But hey, this blog was formed with him in mind... he eats the food and believes in me, and I hope you guys will too!

Starting September 20th you can register (if you're not already) on Foodbuzz and vote... and hopefully you deem me worthy of voting for!  So thanks for all your continued support and good luck to all of my worthy competitors!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cinnamon-Spiced Plum Crostada

I think this might actually be my first "dessert" type post.  Well... a dessert that I haven't had to come up with on the fly for a Foodie Fight battle or what not.  I have this trend of either making main courses, or as of lately, appetizers and sides.  But when do desserts get to shine?  Well, honestly, I don't fancy myself to be a very great baker or pastry artist.  I mean, with the likes of the Brown Eyed Baker, Joe Pastry (one of Louisville's own! btw), and Monet over at Anecdotes and Apple Cores... it's kind of intimidating to post dessert recipes. 

Another reason I think I stray away from posting dessert recipes is that I'm not one to stick to being precise.  Yeah, I have certain measurements depicted on my recipes, but that's just for formality reasons.  You know, I'm one of those cooks that doesn't stick to a recipe.  There's always room for improvisation.  With baking and desserts, I don't always think that's the case, and possibly why I fear them the most. 

But that's also not to say that I don't make desserts at home.  I make plenty.  And Andy can attest to that.  Just this past weekend, I experimented and made a bacon and french toast ice cream.  Was it good?  Hell yes, it was good.  Some say there was too much bacon, and I might have to agree on that, but interesting and new nonetheless.  Will I post about it?  Probably not... unless you guys REALLY want me to start branching out into the dessert world.

But this is a blog of trial and error.  So I might just be easing myself into the dessert world, but just know that it will be slowly.  Who knows when the next dessert post will be... but we'll just have to determine that from the feedback of this one!

Dough Ingredients:

1 & 1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 lb. butter, cut into small cubes
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Filling Ingredients:

5-6 plums, pitted and sliced thinly
6 tablespoons sugar
juice from 1 lemon 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour

To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the butter and work into flour with fingertips until mixture starts to look like a coarse meal.  Add enough cold water to bind the dough together. 

Form dough into a ball and flatten out.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 F. 

In a medium bowl, toss the plum slices with 4 tablespoons of the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Roll out the dough to your desired thickness and size.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.  In the center of dough, lightly sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour.

Mound the plum mixture in the center of the dough, and reserve any remaining juices.  Sprinkle the plums with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.  Fold border of dough up around the plums like a free-form tart.

Bake in the oven until golden brown for about 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, pour the reserved juices into a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 3-4 minutes, or until mixture has thickened and slightly reduced.  Brush plums and outer edges of crostada with mixture, if desired.

Andy will say this is not a dessert.  He doesn't believe dessert should include fruit.  This is where we differ in our dessert palates.  Me, I'm MORE of a fruity dessert lover.  He, on the other hand, is a "dessert MUST have chocolate" snob.  But he ate this.  And he said it was quite good.  And would have been better with chocolate.  Go figure.

Enjoy the weekend guys!  I know I'll be studying for most of it, but I don't have to work, so that's worth looking forward to!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eggplant Dip

Well... I think Karma has finally come and bitten me in the ass.  Two of my very favorite things are now broken. #1... Andy.  We were playing a slightly competitive game of tennis on Monday afternoon, and he went to charge the ball and ended up smack dab on the pavement instead.  He had reconstructive surgery on his ACL a few years ago and he thinks he may have just jarred something loose or whathaveyou.  But he's looked like a poor puppy dog ever since.  He's on crutches and everything.  However, today he did say that it was starting to feel better, although he's still going to gingerly nurse it.  Crossing my fingers he gets better soon, because honestly, I hate walking the dogs and doing more chores than I have to.  (I'll do them if I have to, but seriously, Andy babies me too much so I'm used to living a cushier life, hehe).

And #2... probably more heartbreaking than #1, although it's a pretty close call... my camera lense.  Yup, I went a whole year without dropping my camera, losing it, having a dog eat it, etc... But yesterday, of all days... Andy came home and set his crutches down on the computer desk, they slid, and knocked into my camera, that was on it's tripod, and the lense went face first into the wooden floor.  While nothing shattered, something is essentially jarred loose and my lense will not function.  (insert VERY sad face here).  And no, I'm not mad at Andy.  Like I said, he's a cripple, and it wasn't intentional, and I partly blame myself.  Mainly because the camera was set up on the LEFT side of the computer, where it NEVER is.  And it's usually sitting on the RIGHT side of the computer, and if it had been there, we wouldn't be having this sad conversation.  So no one truly is to blame, and my heart breaks mainly because Andy felt like a pile of crap after he did it, but I can't be mad... because honestly... it gave me an excuse to order a macro lense.  Which I should receive on Friday... so all is well.

But anyway, on a normal Wednesday, I would have a lovely photo of the array of goodies we received in our CSA, but no, blame Andy for a pictureless CSA today.  (Hehe... just kidding Andy... I love you!)

But what we did end up getting in our CSA is exciting, so just let your imagination make a picture for you:

- 2 lbs. potatoes
- 2 lbs. pears
- 2 lbs. black apples (more black apples, yay!)
- 3 sweet dumpling squashes
- 2 delicata squashes
- 1/2 lb. okra

So any ideas of what to do with this bounty?  Let me hear it!

Oh, and I suppose you guys want a recipe!  Eggplant is one of those things... you either love it or you hate it... or you just don't understand it.  I fall in to the latter category.  The only thing I know how to use eggplant in is eggplant parmesan.  But there's only so much eggplant parmesan one can have before getting bored.  So this dip, which can be eaten with tortilla, pita, whatever kinda chips you want!  It's tasty and refreshing, and definitely a different way of using up that eggplant!


1 small eggplant
3 garlic cloves (still in skins, if possible)
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Wrap the eggplant in aluminum foil.  Set the eggplant and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until eggplant and garlic cloves have softened.  The garlic may be done before the eggplant, so just take it out when you see fit.

Let eggplant cool for just a moment, or until you can safely touch it.  Carefully peel off skin and add eggplant to a medium bowl.  Push out garlic from skins and add to bowl as well.

Mix in salt, pepper, olive oil, sesame seeds, and lemon juice.  Using a potato masher, mash ingredients together until well combined.  If you like your dip a bit smoother, you can even use an immersion blender instead of a potato masher.  But me, I like the texture of having a few chunks in the dip, so I stuck with the masher.

Serve with your choice of chips and enjoy!

Andy isn't one to like eggplant, but he said this dip was pretty solid!  Seriously, if I hadn't made this myself,  I don't think I would have known it was even eggplant dip!  So if you're looking for something different to munch on or make use of your eggplants, this might be a winner for you!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sauteed Carrots & Brussels Sprouts

Happy Labor Day!  Hope you guys will be grilling out, having good times with good friends, and enjoying the last days of summer and first days of early fall!

Our weekend was pretty fun.  Dinner at 732 Social was A-MAZING!  They make the BEST Shrimp Mac-N-Cheese and my steak was huge and perfectly cooked.  Definitely a good time with good friends.  Then afterwards, we headed over to Cake Flour for dessert... and we were not disappointed.  I like Cake Flour for 2 reasons:  #1 they use all natural ingredients in EVERYTHING they make.  No artificial anything is found in anything produced there.  #2  they use local ingredients and everything I've ever had is phenomenal.  P.S.  They told us when we were in that night that they're actually going to be featured on the Food Network this fall, so check it out if you can!

Saturday we went down to WorldFest and we were not disappointed there either.  The hardest part was deciding what to eat out of all the booths they had there!  I wish I had brought my camera, but since we went kind of later, I was afraid I wasn't going to have good lighting for good shots.  Maybe next year.  But we ended up settling for some Red Curry from Thai Orchid (quite delicious, but Simply Thai is still our favorite!)  And then, as we were walking around, there was a line probably 50 plus people deep.  With a line that big, you know that whatever is at the end of it was going to be delicious.  So we hopped in that line and waited for over 30 minutes.  And when it was finally our turn, we realized what the fuss was all about.  La Colombiana was serving up Arepas!  These were huge arepas, packed full of your choice of chicken or beef, beans, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and your choice of green or red hot sauce.  These were WELL WORTH the wait!

It seems like Louisville has had TONS of stuff going on the past couple of weekends.  Or maybe it's that we haven't been home-bodies and actually ventured out the past couple of weekends.  Whatever it is, I'm liking it!

So enjoy your Labor Day and I'll leave you with the side item we served with our Fennel-Garlic Chicken Legs!


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup brussels sprouts, chopped

In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt the butter.  Add shallots and cook for about 1 minute.  Stir in carrots, rosemary, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat well.  Pour in chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil.  Cover pan and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 7-10 minutes, or until carrots are barely tender.

Increase the heat back to medium high and add in brussels sprouts.  Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, or until the brussels sprouts are starting to soften, but still crisp, and liquid is almost entirely absorbed.

Serve as a side dish to any grilled, roasted, or pan-seared item!  So practically anything!  Enjoy the holiday!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fennel-Garlic Grilled Chicken Legs

This week has been a slurry of ups and downs.  School has been hectic.  Work has been insane (September 1st marking the 1st day that people should start getting flu shots - p.s. go get one!).  And I'm just so undoubtedly happy that it's Friday.  For one, I've got the entire weekend off now!  (I was supposed to work on Monday, but somebody picked up my shift - hey, I get paid anyway, so I had to jump on that!) 

And tonight is Trolley Hop Friday in Louisville. What is Trolly Hop, you ask?  Well, it occurs on the first Friday of every month and it's basically a reason to go out and check out local shops, eat, and check out local art galleries on Market St. (A main cross-section through downtown!)  Of course, I'll be going for the food, which we've got group reservations at 732 Social, which we've been wanting to try since it opened up last year.  Their menu is all farm-fresh, local ingredients, and it's always changing due to what's in season.  And I love that about a restaurant, so I'm extremely excited about going.  And they have a good drink selection (or so I'm told)... and after the week I've had, I definitely need one!

This weekend is also World Fest, which is sponsored by Louisville Metro.  It basically showcases the diversity that Louisville and Kentucky have. (yeah, I know what you're thinking... Kentucky = rednecks, how diverse could it be?)  But you'd be surprised at how extreme the diversity is in my little mid-western neck of the woods!  So there's plenty of international events (even a large Naturalization Ceremony, which I think is really cool!), international music, and my personal favorite part of it all... all of the ethnic/international restaurants in town will be showcasing their food!  Yeah... you had to have known that there would be food going on! 

So hopefully Monday I'll have great pictures of how (hopefully) good the long weekend turned out to be! 

This grilled chicken was simple, flavorful, and definitely pleases a crowd!  Serve with simple vegetables like carrots and brussels sprouts and you'll have yourself a great meal in no time!

Adapted from a Food & Wine recipe

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seed
3/4 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 & 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
4-5 whole chicken legs

For Gravy (optional):
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, fennel, oregano, red pepper, and salt.  Add in olive oil.  Stir and seaons with salt and pepper to taste.

Make 2 diagonal slits on each side of each chicken leg.  You want to cut almost to the bone so that the spices can get in those crevices. 

Rub the garlic-fennel "paste" on each chicken leg and set in shallow glass dish.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Light a charcoal grill under medium high heat.  Brush chicken with olive oil and grill over indirect heat, covered, for about 25 minutes, turning once or twice, or until chicken is white throughout.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter under medium high heat.  Stir in flour and let slightly brown, about 1 minute.  Slowly add chicken stock and simmer until you get a desired thickness.  Set aside.

Top chicken legs with gravy (if desired) and serve with fresh vegetables and dig on in!  Enjoy!

Everybody have a great Labor Day!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Asian Garlic Green Beans

Well, it's finally September.  Fall is beginning to set in, although the summer weather is still fighting for it's life.  2nd week of school hasn't been too bad, as I've still got the motivation to do my readings before class.  We'll see how that motivation sticks with me in the next couple of weeks!

So yesterday, I went through a milestone in my life.  As some of you know, I play on some recreational sports teams during the week - slow pitch softball on Tuesday and sand volleyball on Wednesdays.  Well, yesterday, at our softball game, we played the #1 Team (Team Wick's Pizza).  They're pretty friggin' good and creamed us last season.  But guess who got her first EVER (even counting when I played fastpitch in high school) home run???  Uh yeah!  This girl right here!  I even had to slide head first into home plate... I've got the bloody knees and elbows to prove it!  Yeah, so needless to say, I was on a super "I'm awesome!" high yesterday.  My knee on the other hand... is killing me and I've still got to play volleyball tonight.  Oh well... I will power through.

Anyway, green beans seem to fresh and plentiful right now so I had to include this recipe for your not so ordinary style of green beans.


1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 & 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ginger powder

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Add generous amount of salt and add green beans.  Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Drain and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat for about 2 minutes.  You want it to get pretty hot by itself.  Add oil and coat the pan.  Add the green beans and saute for about 2-4 minutes, or until they start to brown.

Make a well in the center of the skillet and add garlic, ginger powder, and red pepper flakes.  Slowly start to incorporate the green beans, until everything is well mixed.

Stir in soy sauce and season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve fresh and hot as a great side or snack!

I'm not going to lie, these were really good.  I had really fresh green beans and they were perfectly crunchy and soft at the same time.  The flavor was your typical Asian flare, but definitely made the beans the star ingredient!  Enjoy!

Check out our CSA goodies!!!

Arkansas Black Apples (Yeah, black apples!)
Hot Peppers
Sweet Peppers
Acorn Squash
Spaghetti Squash
French Baguette

And just one last cute picture of one of my dog's - Zappa!  He's a trouble maker, but with puppy dog eyes like that... it's hard to get upset with the cute little guy!!